2:00PM Water Cooler 2/10/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I will add more material under Politics in shortish order. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

A city bird — as you can tell from the honking car in the beginning!

And a country bird:


At reader request, I’ve added these daily charts 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:

The South continues to out-perform. Snow makes the Northeast what it is. UPDATE On reconsideration, the last peak in the Northeast was two weeks ago, and today’s numbers are below that peak. So perhaps there are more problems than snow. Readers?

Case count by United States region:

Still dropping nicely. Maybe in a couple of months we’ll be back to where we here in the summer of 2020.

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

Texas going down again. That’s a relief. Florida still heading down. I suppose we’ll have to be watching to see the results of the Super Spreader Bowl…

Test positivity:

The Northeast falls off a cliff, again I assume due to snow.

Nowhere near 3%, anywhere.


The South has flattened. Given that hospitalization is probably a more reliable indicator of trouble than case count, I certainly hope that’s the not first sign of B117. 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):

The case fatality rate has markedly increased, albeit slowly. I don’t like that at all. Deaths plateau, and should really be starting to fall at some point.

* * *

CA: “No bathrooms. No seating. Endless lines. Struggling seniors face vaccine misery” [Los Angeles Times]. “The system set up by Los Angeles County seems, in many ways, to be a young person’s game: It can take social media skills, technology savvy, reliable transportation and even physical stamina to obtain one of the coveted shots. That leaves some of the county’s most vulnerable residents at a serious disadvantage.”


“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

Capitol Seizure

“Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund says entire intelligence community missed signs of riot” [ABC]. “[Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund] said that intelligence indicated that the Jan. 6 event would be similar to two previous post-election demonstrations from November and December, which he described as MAGA I and MAGA II. Though, he wrote, the assessment included language that ‘members of the Proud Boys, white supremacist groups, Antifa, and other extremist groups were expected to participate in the Jan. 6 event and that they may be inclined to become violent.’ He continues: ‘This was very similar to the intelligence assessment of the Dec. 12, 2020, MAGA II event.’ During both of those previous protests there was a ‘limited amount of violence and/or injuries to officers, and a limited number of arrests.’ ‘Having previously handled two major post-election demonstrations successfully utilizing an action plan that was based on intelligence assessments that had proven to be credible, reliable, and accurate, we reasonably assumed the intelligence assessment for Jan. 6, 2021, was also correct.'”


“Live updates: Trump’s 2nd impeachment trial” [Yahoo News]. • Lots of live coverage, but this is free.


“Hispanics or coups” [Noah Smith, Noahpinion]. “The Hispanic shift in 2020 was real. Giancarlo Sopo, who worked for the Trump campaign’s Hispanic outreach (but who later broke with the Trumpists and denounced the coup attempt), had a good thread laying out the county-level evidence. Sopo shows a lot of county-level data indicating that the Hispanic shift to Trump was not just Cubans, but also included Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Colombians. Though he’s obviously going to be biased, more neutral observers have reached the same conclusion….. repeated coup attempts would probably kill the GOP’s chances of becoming a majority party. For example, Sopo, who actually worked on the Trump campaign, was horrified by the insurrection and denounced it repeatedly and vehemently.”


UPDATE “Yang holds commanding lead in mayor’s race: new poll” [New York Daily News]. “Andrew Yang commands a double-digit lead in the Democrat primary for mayor, with his closest rivals, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Comptroller Scott Stringer, trailing by more than 10 percentage points each, a new poll released early Wednesday morning revealed. Yang, an entrepreneur, would win 28% of total votes, with Adams projected to win 17% and Stringer getting 13%, according to the poll conducted by Fontas Advisors and Core Decision Analytics. Shaun Donovan and Maya Wiley would get 8% of the vote each, while Kathryn Garcia, Ray McGuire and Dianne Morales scored just 2% apiece. Those numbers reflect what operatives for campaigns other than Yang’s have been quietly saying for days — that if the election happened tomorrow, Yang would almost certainly win. One key reason is that New Yorkers know who he is. Yang’s name recognition far exceeds that of his competitors, the poll also found.” • It would be a trip if Yang won, and then eviscerated Cuomo (which is what he would have to do to be a successful mayor. And who knows, if Yang does a really good job as mayor, he might get to take over the Department of Transportation!

Biden Adminstration

UPDATE “Don’t expect a $15 federal minimum wage: Goldman Sachs” [Yahoo News]. “President Biden has swung the door wide open on the minimum wage debate in the early days of his presidency. He called for it to be included in a new $1.9 trillion stimulus plan designed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, although he has recently backed off on having it stuffed into the recovery plan.” • Wait. You’re telling me Biden backed off on something?

UPDATE School opening, a thread:

It’s probably good that Biden is backing off on this. But backing off it is.

UPDATE “Biden backs House Democrats’ proposed threshold for COVID-19 checks” [The Hill]. “President Biden said Tuesday he agrees with a proposal from House Democrats to begin phasing out the next round of direct coronavirus relief payments to Americans who make more than $75,000, a key sticking point among some in the party. Biden signaled his support for the threshold during a meeting with the heads of several major corporations in the Oval Office. He hosted the business leaders to solicit buy-in on his $1.9 trillion relief proposal as well as to discuss future economic measures such as an infrastructure package and an increase to the minimum wage. ‘I’m anxious to hear what these business leaders have to say about what they think about how we’re approaching this issue and to see if we can find some common ground,’ Biden said. Among those in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting were JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and Gap Inc. CEO Sonia Syngal. Biden was joined in the Oval Office by Vice President Harris and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.” • When “common ground” turns out to be relief for 2020’s pandemic based on 2019’s incomes — before the pandemic collapsed them, ffs — I don’t think there’s much to be said for common ground. Commentary:

Anybody who gets a smaller check from Biden than they got from Trump — or no check at all — is going to take that very, very personally.

UPDATE “In Biden’s early days, signs of Trump-era problems at border” [Associated Press]. • This was predictable. What was also predictable is that there’s absolutely no moral panic about any of this from liberal Democrats. In the article, there seem to be a lot euphemisms for things that might actually turn out to be [gasp] cages. Like “large cells,” “holding facilities,” “surge facilities,” “short-term facilities,” “stations,” “a large tent facility,” and “a converted warehouse.” Children, too.

Democrats en Deshabille

UPDATE “Florida Democrats mired in division, debt ahead of 2022” [The Hill]. “Florida Democrats are engulfed in turmoil, facing a mix of internal divisions and financial woes that threaten to hobble the party as it prepares to take on Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R) in 2022. The challenges for Florida Democrats are clear. The party has suffered disastrous electoral losses in recent years at both the state and federal levels and now finds itself in a dire financial situation. A year-end report filed on Sunday with the Federal Election Commission showed the Florida Democrats’ federal entity with less than $61,000 in the bank and more than $868,000 in debt. Underscoring the party’s financial pitfall was the revelation this week that it had allowed its employees’ health insurance to lapse at the end of November, leaving staffers unknowingly without coverage. The party’s new chairman, Manny Diaz, who was elected to his post just a month ago, said last week that the party’s insurance policy has been reinstated and that claims filed during the lapse in coverage will be paid.” • I don’t understand how this can be. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a Florida Democrat. So is Donna Shalala. Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo was recently elected to the DNC.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“How the filibuster poisons politics from top to bottom” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. “The filibuster as it exists today has helped centralize congressional power in a handful of party leaders, fueled corruption, and stoked polarization. It is a blood clot at the heart of our political system….. Because there is no legislating through regular order, the rewards for putting in that work in either house are tiny. If you are lucky (particularly if you suck up to leadership), you might get your pet idea folded into a super-bill, but that is a lot harder with everyone else trying to do the same thing, and you won’t get nearly as much credit for it if you succeed. If you are not in the leadership — and there is little prospect of the average representative or senator making it that far — you basically won’t ever get to wield real power.”

“The media does its own Friday news dump” [Politico]. “Does [DCCC Chair Sean] Maloney’s stereotype of QAnon supporters lacking a college education hold true? The answer seems to be no. Our partners at Morning Consult have done some polling on this in a tracking poll… Twenty-seven percent of people with a postgraduate degree responded that QAnon claims are either very accurate or somewhat accurate. That compared to 20% of those with a bachelor’s degree and 14% of those with less than a college degree. The numbers were similar in Morning Consult’s October poll. So Maloney was probably wrong on the narrow question of whether Republicans will have to choose between QAnon and college-educated voters: The two aren’t mutually exclusive. That’s not to suggest the Democrats’ strategy is a losing one, though: QAnon is all over the news, but there’s a ‘vast chasm between news coverage and polling data,’ according to Joe Uscinski, who studies conspiracy theories and why people believe in them for a living. Public support for the QAnon movement remains ‘meager’ across the board, according to the University of Miami professor, who reiterated the point in an interview.” • Hard to know the breadth of support for QAnon; the whole discourse feels very embubbled to me.

“Activists complain of weakened voting security standard” [Associated Press]. “Leaders of the federal agency overseeing election administration have quietly weakened a key element of proposed security standards for voting systems, raising concern among voting-integrity experts that many such systems will remain vulnerable to hacking. The Election Assistance Commission is poised to approve its first new security standards in 15 years after an arduous process involving multiple technical and elections community bodies and open hearings. But ahead of a scheduled Feb. 10 ratification vote by commissioners, the EAC leadership tweaked the draft standards to remove language that stakeholders interpreted as banning wireless modems and chips from voting machines as a condition for federal certification. The mere presence of such wireless hardware poses unnecessary risks for tampering that could alter data or programs on election systems, say computer security specialists and activists, some of whom have long complained than the EAC bends too easily to industry pressure. Agency leaders argue that overall, the revised guidelines represent a major security improvement. They stress that the rules require manufacturers to disable wireless functions present in any machines, although the wireless hardware can remain.” • Come on, man. That’s like saying the boat is safe, even though you drilled a hole in the bottom, because you put a plug in the hole.

“Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail” [The American Conservative]. “In 2017, President Trump’s inauguration was met with the violent and destructive J20 protests in Washington, D.C. There were arrests and prosecutions, but in the end everybody who hadn’t already pled out had their charges dropped. You may have seen the question posed on social media: Might those arrested for storming the Capitol in 2021 receive the same treatment? No. Unlike the J20 crowd, the Capitol stormers didn’t conceal their identities, don’t have legal support, and don’t have the communication lines and established relationships necessary for defense solidarity to make successful prosecution difficult. Investigations will take time to shake out who had plans and who acted impulsively, but the common denominator among the Capitol stormers is a failure to give serious consideration to the prospect of major legal trouble. They were a motley crew: mainstream MAGA fans and militiamen; LARPers and special forces veterans; business owners and the unemployed; law enforcement and people with criminal histories; and, of course, devotees of QAnon. The only thing they had in common was that none of them knew what they were doing. The naivete on display was staggering. Normies and radicals alike bragged about their actions, during and after the fact. They live-streamed. They texted and tweeted and Instagrammed, showing their faces and giving their names. One man posted a picture of himself pummeling law enforcement, and added a helpful label: “THIS IS ME.” Another literally stormed the Capitol wearing a court-mandated GPS monitor. A former Navy SEAL bragged about his actions on video. A law enforcement officer lied to Joint Terrorism Task Force agents about his involvement—and then consented to them searching the deleted pictures and videos on his phone. Another man posted to social media, “Just finished speaking to an FBI agent, I believe I’ve been cleared.” (He was wrong.) By contrast, here is how a hard-left group billing itself as the Tucson Anti-Repression Crew addressed the investigations into the Capitol storming: “There’s word coming in from Arizona of FBI door knocks under the guise of ‘looking for information on far right extremists and protests.’ NEVER EVER talk to the FBI. Immediately contact your comrades, a lawyer, and anti-repression support.” Say what you will about the left, at least its radicals know what they’re doing.” • Yeah, but who seized the Capitol? (The only previous Capitol seizure I can recall was in Wisconsin in 2011, and their the Occupiers got nothing for it.)

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.

Inflation: “January 2021 CPI: Year-over-Year Inflation Rate Unchanged” [Econintersect]. “According to the BLS, the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) year-over-year inflation rate was 1.4 % year-over-year (unchanged from the reported 1.4 % last month). The year-over-year core inflation (excludes energy and food) rate improved from 1.6 % to 1.4 %…. Energy was the major influence for the month-over-month growth for the CPI-U. Medical care services cost inflation rose from 2.8 % to 2.9 % year-over-year.”

Wholesale Sales: “December 2020 Headline Wholesale Sales Improved and Inventories Marginally Up” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say wholesale sales were up month-over-month with inventory levels marginally growing. Our analysis shows improvement in the rate of growth for the rolling averages.”

* * *

Retail: “How Covid-19 saved the fast food drive-thru” [The Counter]. “By the end of 2019, cities that had banned the construction of new restaurant drive-thrus included Mineappolis; Fair Haven, N.J.; Creve Coeur, Mo.; and Orchard Park, New York. An additional 27 municipalities banned drive-thrus in Canada. Then last year, as independent restaurants struggled to adapt to new Covid-19 safety protocols, dine-in and counter service fell immediately out of favor, while pick-up and home delivery thrived. In other words: The more impersonal the restaurant experience, the better. And so, the drive-thru made a comeback.”

Tech: “Doordash Is Buying Robotics Company Chowbotics” [Restaurant Business (js)]. “Delivery giant DoorDash is acquiring Chowbotics with the intention of making its salad-making robot available to restaurants…. Sally creates on-demand salads, bowls and more, drawing on an assortment of up to 22 ingredients. The 3-foot-by-3-foot machine is in hundreds of hospitals, college campuses and grocery stores; DoorDash will bring it to restaurants for the first time.” • js writes: “Technology we do not need for a problem we do not have. I do so love the rebranding of vending machines as robots.”

Tech: “The Electric Car Consumers Want: Lower Cost, Higher Mileage” [Morning Consult]. “47% of consumers said their budget would be the same for an EV as for a conventional vehicle, while 18% said they would be willing to spend more. When asked for the maximum amount they would be willing to pay for an electric vehicle, respondents’ median price was $25,000. The national average for new vehicles is $40,000. To consider purchasing an EV, 23% of adults said they would require a range of 500 miles or more; 7% said a range of less than 200 miles and 16% said between 200 and 299 miles, options representing the bulk of the current market.”

Mr Market: “Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day” [Joe Weisenthal, Bloomberg]. “This is the most interesting moment for the economy I’ve seen in my career. Now granted, I’ve only been following markets and the economy for about 17 years, and only about 12 as a reporter. Still, something feels different…. [W]e have an administration that is eager to add a substantial amount of fiscal stimulus to an economy that’s already expected to grow robustly this year and next, with the receding of the virus…. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve has a new framework that’s much more friendly to run-it-hot economics…. [W]e’re coming out of a crisis with household savings in relatively good shape (in aggregate) and a booming housing market (and a booming stock market)…. There’s a much greater appreciation for the power of direct checks, as opposed to “stimulus” projects that can take a long time to filter out into the economy…. i[I]’s the left’s go-big approach that’s winning the political argument in D.C…. The old-school deficit hawks are almost silent this time around… The key thing is that since the 1980s, the economy has run persistently below the CBO’s estimate of full potential, with only a few quarters above it. Throughout this time we’ve seen a steady slide in yields, and an economy characterized by slow growth and low inflation. Nothing is certain, but there’s a possibility that between the solid state of existing private-sector balance sheets, a Fed willing to let things run hot and an administration that’s eager to spend more that we break out of this rut in a way that we haven’t seen in a long time.” • Cui bono?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 54 Neutral (previous close: 57 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 50 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 10 at 12:11pm. Mr. Market is really having his mood swings between Neutral and Greed (not Fear). Odd.

The Biosphere

“Near Coasts, Rising Seas Could Also Push Up Long-Buried Toxic Contamination” [NPR]. “For many Bay Area residents who live near the water’s edge, little-publicized research indicates groundwater rising beneath their feet could start to manifest in 10-15 years, particularly in low-lying communities like Oakland. And that could resurface toxic substances that have lingered for years underground… That’s a lot of things in the Bay Area, which is rife with industrial sites new and old. In East Oakland, industry boomed in the early 1900s as lumber yards, canneries, rail depots and foundries sprung up. It was a long time before governments enacted major environmental regulations, starting in the 1960s. ‘Through the entire postwar and World War II-era, stuff got dumped informally,’ [Kristina Hill, an associate professor at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design] says. More recent contaminants lie buried as well, chemicals like benzene and toluene, leaked from underground storage tanks. Many toxic sites now considered to be contained could pose a threat as the water ascends.”

Health Care

“Why mucosal immunity may be required to end the pandemic” [Endpoints]. “There is a scenario that we need to be prepared for and one that could possibly derail our fight against this virus: These first-generation vaccines will be able to effectively block disease, but not the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Pfizer, Moderna and nearly every other pharmaceutical company are producing injectable vaccines. Their protective power results from systemic immunity, meaning that they generate antibodies that circulate in the blood to other parts of the body. They were authorized based on their ability to block the development of disease, which is not the same as the ability to inhibit viral infection or transmission. The best way to block both viral infection and transmission is by inducing a special type of immune response called mucosal immunity. Mucosal immunity protects the parts of the body that are in contact with the environment, and in the case of a respiratory pathogen, that means the nasal cavity and the lungs. Because it is a localized type of response, a vaccine needs to be delivered to the appropriate compartment if mucosal immunity is to be stimulated.” • As readers know, this utter layperson and non-ponies player is long nasal sprays.

“Ventilation in Buildings” [CDC]. “SARS-CoV-2 viral particles spread between people more readily indoors than outdoors. When outdoors, the concentration of viral particles rapidly reduces with the wind, even a very light wind. When indoors, ventilation mitigation strategies help to offset the absence of natural wind and reduce the concentration of viral particles in the indoor air. The lower the concentration, the less likely some of those viral particles can be inhaled into your lungs; contact your eyes, nose, and mouth; or fall out of the air to accumulate on surfaces. Protective ventilation practices and interventions can reduce the airborne concentration, which reduces the overall viral dose to occupants. Below is a list of ventilation interventions that can help reduce the concentration of virus particles in the air, such as SARS-CoV-2.” • Aerosols. Good.

“Hospitals’ Covid-19 heroics have them poised for power in the new Washington” [STAT]. “The hospital business is booming on Capitol Hill like never before. Lawmakers showered the industry with more than $275 billion last year, and handed hospitals wins even on seemingly unrelated issues. And Democrats’ agenda will almost certainly be better for their bottom lines. The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the industry’s image in Washington, where large health care systems have long been vilified as corporate profit mongers instead of community caregivers. Now, more than two dozen lobbyists and consultants told STAT that they are keenly aware of just how much power the industry has accrued — and are prepared to seize the moment. ‘There is a time to ask for things you wouldn’t usually ask for,’ one health care lobbyist said, requesting anonymity because the individual was not authorized by clients to speak with reporters. ‘If you get straight A’s, it might be the time to ask your parents for a new iPhone. This is the time not to be shy. You’re kind of the golden children, but it’s not going to last forever.’ The one possible obstacle in hospitals’ glide path is President Biden. He has spoken fondly of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he was treated for brain aneurysms; where his son Beau fought brain cancer; and where, as vice president, he made regular Christmas visits to injured troops. He supports a number of policies hospitals love, such as expanding Medicaid and making it cheaper for people to get insurance through Affordable Care Act exchanges. But glaringly, Biden left hospitals completely out of his proposal for Covid-19 relief, even as he lavished some $1.9 trillion on other priorities. Some of his campaign advisers were rankled by the health care industry’s seven-figure ad blitz against the public option, which ran during the Democratic primary season.” • A grotesque case of stolen valor by administrators from doctors and nurses.Yecccccch.

“Without a Ride, Many in Need Have No Shot at Covid-19 Vaccine” [Daily Yonder]. “Campbell, the town commissioner in Davidson, North Carolina, worries that some of her constituents, especially older adults, don’t have a way to get to Covid-19 vaccine sites. From Davidson, the nearest locations for anyone seeking a shot have been at mass vaccination events in the Charlotte area—more than a half hour away, Campbell said. For many older adults who needed transportation, that was too far. ‘I can get the volunteers to drive them, but I don’t think it’s prudent or safe to put a volunteer and a person needing the vaccine in the same car for a 35-minute drive each way,’ she said. ‘It needs to be Covid-safe transportation.’ While state and local governments have been busy planning for and distributing vaccines, many have left out an important piece: how to provide transportation to people who can’t get to those sites. Millions of older adults and low-income people of color who are at higher risk of contracting the virus don’t have cars, don’t drive or don’t live near public transit. Some are homebound. Some live in rural areas far from vaccination sites.”

Slavitt, how it started (thread):

Slavitt, how it’s going (no thread):

Police State Watch

UPDATE “New Mexico’s thin blurred line” [High Country News]. “While community members and activists have long complained about excessive use of force and surveillance at protests and in minority neighborhoods, these documents clearly show that New Mexico law enforcement tolerates — and at times embraces — white vigilantism. And despite the Albuquerque Police Department’s statement condemning the New Mexico Civil Guard after the shooting, militiamen with known white-power affiliations continue to patrol protests with the silent encouragement of law enforcement. ‘They all travel in the same circles,’ said David Correia, associate professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico. Correia has done extensive research on the cross-pollination that occurred between police, radical right ideology and vigilantism during the civil rights movement. ‘These are all former police or former military, or former guardsman or current guardsman. There’s this overlap between the people who populate militias and populate police departments.'”

“How the Police Bank Millions Through Their Union Contracts” [Pro Publica]. Of the many horrid details, this is the best: “Asbury Park Mayor John Moor was skimming through a list of city expenses in the spring of 2017 when one shocked him: a $7,442 gold badge and case for the departing acting police chief, Anthony Salerno…. Asbury Park’s police contract says retiring police officers are entitled to a 14-karat “gold filled” police badge. Ordinarily, “gold filled” jewelry is similar to gold-plated — a cheaper metal coated with a thick layer of gold. Not counting Salerno’s badge, the city had spent $8,163 on 10 badges in the past 10 years, an average of $816 each. Salerno’s badge is described in a purchase quote as “14k solid gold,” a higher-end bauble than what was called for in the police contract and one much more expensive than what other officers received. Salerno didn’t respond to requests for comment.” • I’ll bet.

Groves of Academe

“Police in dorms, outdoor exercise ban: UC Berkeley extends dorm lockdown with stricter mandates” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “Police officers monitoring dormitory halls, frequent inspections of ID cards — these are among the measures being implemented in a dorm lockdown as UC Berkeley continues to grapple with a spike of COVID-19 cases on campus…. Another new measure also in place: a ban on solitary outdoor exercise, which was not in place during the initial lockdown period.” • The ban on outdoor exercise is dumb. Commentary:

“F*ck Nuance” (PDF) [Kieran Healy, Symposium: “What is Good Theorizing?”]. “What I call “Actually Existing Nuance” in sociological theory refers to a common and specific phenomenon, one most everyone working in sociology has witnessed, fallen victim to, or perpetrated at some time. It is the act of making—or the call to make—some bit of theory “richer” or “more sophisticated” by adding complexity to it, usually by way of some additional dimension, level, or aspect, but in the absence of any strong means of disciplining or specifying the relationship between the new elements and the existing ones. Sociologists do this to themselves, and they demand it of others. Sometimes they see it as one of the discipline’s comparative virtues. I contend that it is typically a holding maneuver. It is what one does when faced with a question for which one does not yet have a compelling or interesting answer. Thinking up compelling or interesting ideas is difficult, so it is often easier to embrace complexity than to cut through it…. [Actually Existing Nuance] is more like a freefloating demand that something be added. When faced with a problem that is hard to solve, a line of thinking that requires us to commit to some defeasible claim, or a logical dilemma we must bite the bullet on, the nuance-promoting theorist says, “But isn’t it more complicated than that?” or “Isn’t it really both/and?” or “Aren’t these phenomena mutually constitutive?” or “Aren’t you leaving out [something]?” or “How does the theory deal with agency, or structure, or culture, or temporality, or power, or [some other abstract noun]?” This sort of nuance is, I contend, fundamentally antitheoretical. It blocks the process of abstraction on which theory depends, and it inhibits the creative process that makes theorizing a useful activity.” • “Actually Existing Nuance.” A lot of Beltway wonks and liberal Democrat electeds could read this article with profit.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

No, Booker is not missing the point. He understands it perfectly well:

Class Warfare

“Lacking a Lifeline: How a federal effort to help low-income Americans pay their phone bills failed amid the pandemic” [WaPo]. “The coronavirus has reinforced the Internet as the fabric of modern American life, a luxury-turned-necessity for a generation now forced to work, learn and communicate primarily through the Web. But it also has laid bare the country’s inequalities — and the role Washington has played in exacerbating these long-known divides. Nowhere is the gap more startling than with Lifeline, a roughly $2.4 billion digital safety net conceived nearly three decades ago to ensure that all Americans could access reliable communications. Families who rely on Lifeline say they have struggled to talk to their doctors, employers and loved ones throughout the pandemic, illustrating how significant technical shortcomings, and years of government neglect, have undermined a critical aid program at a time when it is needed most. Many Lifeline subscribers are stuck with service so subpar that it would be unrecognizable to most app-loving, data-hungry smartphone users, according to interviews with more than two dozen participants and policy experts, including members of Congress, Biden administration officials, state regulators, telecom executives and public-interest advocates. The program’s inadequacies are so great that even those who are eligible for help often turn it down: More than 33 million households are eligible to receive Lifeline support, yet only 1 in 4 of these Americans actually takes advantage of it, according to U.S. government estimates prepared in October.” • Free municipal broadband?

“‘Nobody Tells Daddy No’: A Housing Boss’s Many Abuse Cases” [New York Times]. “[Victor Rivera’s] nonprofit organization is one of the largest operators of homeless shelters in New York… Ms. Sklar is one of 10 women who said they had endured assault or unwanted sexual attention from Mr. Rivera, The New York Times found. Even as some women have sounded warnings about Mr. Rivera — including two who were given payments by his organization that ensured their silence — his power and influence have only grown during New York’s worst homeless crisis in decades. His organization, the Bronx Parent Housing Network, has received more than $274 million from the city to run homeless shelters and provide services just since 2017. The pandemic has intensified Mr. Rivera’s importance: As the coronavirus swept through the homeless population, the city gave his group $10 million to provide rooms where infected people could isolate and recover.” • Euthanize the NGOs….

“‘There’s a big movement in newsrooms across the country.’ Interview with Clayton Guse of the new NYDN Union” [Strike Wave]. Guse: “In media and journalism in general, there has been a lot of uncertainty when it comes to job security. We’ve seen the number of newsroom jobs shrink drastically over the last decade, through attrition, through cuts. [Then-Tronc, now-Tribune Publishing] cut half the newsroom staff summer of 2018, six months before I joined the paper and not long after they took over. There are a lot of factors motivating this, the most obvious being the state of media and newsrooms in general. You have the spectre of Alden Global Capital coming in and buying things out. But regardless of who owns the paper, you’re going to have a need for collective bargaining. Regardless of who owns what stake, we realized it was important to have a seat at the table to bargain around key issues. Then the pandemic hits and everything is up in the air. In April 2020, they instituted permanent pay cuts for some of the staff. A month later, they furloughed the rest of the staff for three weeks. We were getting hit and we didn’t have a seat at the table. That was the impetus to start our organizing. It took a long time because we’re doing it all virtually.” • The News Guild of New York is organizing the New York Daily News.

News of the Wired

“Morality justifies motivated reasoning in the folk ethics of belief” [Corey Cusimanoa and TaniaLombrozo, Cognition]. The Abstract: “When faced with a dilemma between believing what is supported by an impartial assessment of the evidence (e.g., that one’s friend is guilty of a crime) and believing what would better fulfill a moral obligation (e.g., that the friend is innocent), people often believe in line with the latter. But is this how people think beliefs ought to be formed? We addressed this question across three studies and found that, across a diverse set of everyday situations, people treat moral considerations as legitimate grounds for believing propositions that are unsupported by objective, evidence-based reasoning. We further document two ways in which moral considerations affect how people evaluate others’ beliefs. First, the moral value of a belief affects the evidential threshold required to believe, such that morally beneficial beliefs demand less evidence than morally risky beliefs. Second, people sometimes treat the moral value of a belief as an independent justification for belief, and on that basis, sometimes prescribe evidentially poor beliefs to others. Together these results show that, in the folk ethics of belief, morality can justify and demand motivated reasoning.

Offensive PR:

“Who Really Created the Marvel Universe?” [The New Yorker]. • Not Stan Lee, of course. This is well worth a read, and I’ll just pick out one gem: “In Fantastic Four No. 45 (“Among Us Hide . . . the Inhumans!”), Sue Storm pulls a blanket tenderly over an unconscious humanoid whose huge gray head resembles a dinosaur’s. ‘Despite his great strength,’ Sue tells her husband, ‘he seems to need kindness and protection!'”

* * *

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 (TH):

TH writes: “Prickly Pear Cactus at the Jack Dunster Marine Biological Reserve in Long Beach, California. Edible?” Thanks, I don’t mind if I do!

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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. urblintz

      well, looking at his 40 year record as a worthless DINO, there is some evidence that Joe Biden just doesn’t much like Black people.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Biden floated balloons about Whitmer basically on the eve of the convention. He made that one promise and was likely astonished he couldn’t lie his way out.

      Harris did nothing as a senator. She was there. This hasn’t stopped anyone before from running, but it’s not an accident she was pulling at 1% in California.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Didn’t she functionally “immunise” and “impunify” Steve Mnuchin for his possible part in the Fraudclosure Crime Wave? Perhaps the Big Wall Street Donors instructed the Biden Group that they wanted Harris in line for President so she could pull an Obama for the FIRE sector perpetrators if their next crime wave came to light or their next engineered meltdown came to fruition?

        When the Kamala choice was announced, big financialist donors raised their donations to the Biden Group, did they not?

  1. Glen

    Free municipal broadband?

    Yes! But moar!

    We need to modernize the mission of the USPS. It should provide everybody with an Internet connection and an email account.

    It can start by providing free WiFi at every post office.

      1. upstater

        Are they going to provide sitting space, tables and regular coffee in their free broadband areas? Nope, DiFi’s husband has too much to gain by teardowns.

        NC really needs a “Wishful Thinking” tag.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Wishful thinking is the first step to wishful acting. Or at least it can be.

          That’s a good Post Office idea. Why can’t we do it? Because Diane Feinstein’s husband wants to make money on Post Office property teardowns and conversions.

          Well, what if we could teardown Senator Feinstein and her husband? That would be one major pressure gone for teardowning the Post Offices.

          1. Objectivefunction

            Hee hee, the ‘Wishful Thinking’ rabbit hole is one of these MC Escher drawings or Seventies art rock album covers with mirrors within mirrors within mirrors.

      1. Anonymous

        Sure, as long as lending is excluded since that is bound to violate equal protection under the law in favor of the more so-called “credit worthy.”

  2. Judith

    This article about the slow vaccine rollout in MA makes an interesting point.


    Copied from the embedded twitter:

    Alister Martin
    Right now, folks 75 and up can be vaccinated in MA.

    In a month or more, folks 65 and up will be able to.

    What is the life expectancy in Roxbury, MA, a majority Black community and one of the areas hardest hit by COVID?

    59 years.

    This is how you ingrain health inequities.
    12:44 PM · Feb 4, 2021

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I remember reading this, thanks for surfacing it.

      My thought was to relativize age by zip code life expectancy. You’re damn right a 55-year-old in 02120 should be getting the vaccine before a 65-year-old in 02139 (ages approximate). I don’t think this would be hard to do administratively.

      Amazing that after all the goddamn tiers nobody thought of that.

    2. Wombat

      Alas, I’ve long felt the same about Social Security payments. The poor, working class (working their full adult life and living in a food desert with bad healthcare) is taxed on their full income then dies an expected few years after collecting payments. The wealthy person (already benefitting from social security income caps) keeps collecting for nearly twenty years till their expected expiration in their mid 80s. Regressive.

      1. Judith

        Yes. My father and my brother both died in their fifties, worn out after long years of hard physical labor. I wish they could have had at least a few years of peace and calm.

  3. Phillip Cross

    “The Hispanic shift in 2020 was”… possibly caused by the exit of the many “religion enthusiasts” who had been inculcated, about the D party’s murderous relationship with “El Diablo”, by assorted cultists and memes on Facebook.

    ps They aren’t coming back.

    1. Anonymous

      Nor should they until the Demos get reasonable on abortion – not to mention forbid sexual mutilation of children.

      1. Grant

        Isn’t it nice that people can quote a religious text, claim to be pro-life and be for police brutality, a murderous foreign policy, a healthcare system that kills tens of thousands a year and right wing policies that threaten lots of life on this planet (not just humans)? I think it is neat that they get to pretend to be pro-life instead of just being anti-abortion. I guess the right wing El Salvadorians who killed Oscar Romero and the right wingers who went to war with the Catholic church under Reagan because of priests and nuns pushing for the preferential option of the poor can continue on with the grift. As horrible as Democrats are, they are more in line with popular opinion than far right Christians on abortion. But, I also think that the Democrats will lose people because they offer next to nothing on core class issues, offer little solutions for working people, and so what do they offer people that may be culturally conservative but would be open or supportive of a leftist economic program?

  4. Laughingsong

    “ Who Really Created the Marvel Universe?”

    I love reading about Jack “King” Kirby, one of the best. His people were good, it it was his machines that made him so perfect for drawing Dr. Doom, Reed Richards, Galactus…. I actually first remember seeing his work at DC, “Forever People” and “New Gods”…. maybe these led to the Mutants and the Inhumans, I don’t know.

    Did like Ditka too, but Kirby was always my fave. I also enjoyed a less known, more esoteric artist named Steve Leiloa (sp?) … did Warlock, and strangely enough, Howard the Duck…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I was never a big comics fan, except for a brief period in the 70s. My favorite was “Tomb of Dracula.” The rooms had ceilings, unlike all the others. And there was snow.

      1. Laughingsong

        Drawing someone in a wind-driven snowstorm is easier if you draw the scene then use a small eraser :-D

        I always loved comics, thought I would be an artist one day, even went to art school…. but I wasn’t good enough… still I enjoyed them a lot, went to ComicCons, collected them… including underground.

      2. clarky90

        Re; “And there was snow.”


        What is a rocket mass heater?

        “….We start with the idea of a conventional wood stove. The fire is typically around 1000 degrees F. Heat is extracted immediately. Smoke goes up the chimney due to a thermosiphon. This design has the problem of creosote leading to chimney fires. So if you insulate the chimney, the chimney gets hot enough that the creosote burns much more often – thus reducing the risk. But the downside is that more heat leaves the house through the chimney.

        We shift the design to insulate the fire box. With temperature now at 1800 degrees F, the creosote and the smoke are burned. The exhaust is mostly steam and CO2. We can now safely extract more heat. We add a stubby chimney so we can push the exhaust wherever we want. We add a mass to absorb heat. That’s it. A rocket mass heater.

        And then we add some pictures of pretty rocket mass heaters. …..”

    2. a different chris

      Ok, this has been killing me* and I can’t keep it to myself any longer and all the comic book – uh, graphic novel – fans are gonna hate me. And that’s unfair because I do watch and enjoy all the movies – heck I sat thru Days of Future Passed and Apocalypse my god last Wednesday and Thursday just to be ready for the last 10 seconds of WandaVision! So take this as from a friendly outsider!

      If there are multiple universes, if people can come and go, if Wanda can create what she wants, if Thanos can kill half the population and then they can all come back (we are all still wondering about what “come back” means for the ones who were like in airplanes that suddenly weren’t there anymore…but I digress) then what’s the point of anything?

      If I’m a superhero and some Lovely Lady is going to be crushed by a falling whatever within my purview, but I am watching the end of a spectacular cricket match – well she’s gonna be alive in at least several other universes anyway. So what I am really changing by saving her? I’ve lost all incentive to do anything but what makes me happy in the moment.

      Everything but the moment I’m in no longer matters. Heck it doesn’t even matter but if I’m enjoying it then why should I do anything but continue with it?

      Shorter me: did they finally go too big and just ruin everything?

      *But hey I’m gonna be alive in 15 other multiverses so whatever :D

    3. paul

      Steve Didko. pehaps.
      When I was young,you had ster trek,marvel and dc, in that order.

      None of them matched the apple barrel scene in treasure island.

      ….or the clear politics of ‘the flashing blade’.

    4. Pelham

      Same here re Kirby and Ditko. One of the wonderful things about their work was the imagination they applied to the human form at a time when high art offered nothing. Kirby’s figures in particular appeared to leap powerfully off the page, and his composition was unequaled. As much praise as he has received, I don’t believe his work is still fully appreciated.

      The movies, however, leave me cold. To me, comics — particularly Marvel titles — were entirely of their time and medium. The late ’50s merging into the early ’60s were an amazing period. Anything seemed possible, even likely. The world was opening up. And comics were these frail but powerful representations of whole other worlds. In the case of Kirby and Lee, even a measure of human foibles was tap for believability.

      Words fail me here, and I can’t quite convey what Marvel and maybe a few DC titles meant in that time and place. But I’m not surprised that no matter how many millions are lavished on summertime tent-pole comic movie franchises, the essence is never captured. It’s just not there to be had.

      1. paul

        As captain beefheat once said:

        The old fart was smart*

        *This is in now way forgiving or endorsing his Zimbardo like treatment of the magic band.

        Very weird in deed

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > But I’m not surprised that no matter how many millions are lavished on summertime tent-pole comic movie franchises, the essence is never captured. It’s just not there to be had.

        It sounds like the Marvel movies are a lot like SUVs. Starting with the bloat.

  5. a different chris

    >“The Electric Car Consumers Want: Lower Cost, Higher Mileage”

    OMG the stupid it burns — ok, to be fair they have to write about something. There’s a story, it may not have really happened but it’s deeply embedded in the auto industry because it is definitely full of truth. It goes roughly:

    One auto company asked what people wanted in a new car, and were told literally exactly what the title says. And this story dates back at least to the 50’s. Another auto company asked what the neighbor would buy and heard about “flashy” and “impractical” and “expensive”. Both companies built accordingly, and the first went broke whilst the second went on to dominate the industry.

    Musk may have heard that story, or just maybe his competitiveness made him build Teslas to be so insanely fast and sexy (ignoring panel fit :D). We have stupid-length commutes in this country, but stupid is generally more about time sitting in traffic than actual distance. Few drive 500miles in any short (3-5 day period) or even close, see link at end.

    People don’t know what they want. And for sure sure it rarely has much in common with what they need. See that other “driving” experience, sex.


    1. JWP

      From the article: “And most Americans don’t consider their commutes stress-inducing, according to the polling organization.”

      Framing! If people were asked, “would you like an extra hour per day to do whatever you wanted?” or “would you like to save $1,000+/year from driving” people might find their commutes irritable compared to living closer, taking a bike or train, or working remote. EVs can’t change that.

      1. Keith

        Absolutely with regards to the commute. It is not just drive time, either, it is about the time getting ready for work in the morning. The details needed the night before, like making sure you have clothes ready making lunch, etc. Then there is getting the kids ready. Staying home saves so much time. That is not even talking about the savings, from clothes, lunch, gas, maint, etc.

        On a side, I can see wanting the extra distance, provided electric would be the only car. The more you stay at home during the week, the more motivated you are for a nice road trip on the weekend.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > And most Americans don’t consider their commutes stress-inducing,

        When I lived in Philly, I had a two-and-a-half hour train commute, each way. It was extraordinarily stressful. In any case, Americans might not “consider” commuting stressful, even though it is:

        Commuting exacts considerable stress on the human mind and body and on family relationships. All the stressors, day in and day out, take their toll. Each added travel minute correlates with an increase in health problems. Several studies have shown that long-distance commuters suffer from psychosomatic disorders at a much higher rate than people with short trips to work. Physical symptoms range from headaches and backaches to digestive problems and high blood pressure. Mental ills include sleep disturbances, fatigue and concentration problems. Commuters who drive have it especially hard—bad weather, traffic jams and accidents all cause stress.

        These basic patterns were laid out a decade ago, but since then, American, British, Irish and German studies have advanced our understanding. A 2001 study by scientists at the Center for Psychotherapy Research in Stuttgart and the University Clinic of Ulm in Germany demonstrates just how dramatic the insults can be. The researchers surveyed 407 commuters at the Stuttgart and Ulm railroad stations. The commuters also completed questionnaires covering quality of life and possible psychological problems.

        About 90 percent of the men and women had trips of more than 45 minutes each way, putting them in the long-distance category for many parts of the world. A fair number were extreme commuters, too, trekking as much as three hours daily. Half had been taking the same route for more than five years. “The psychosomatic condition of these people was terrible,” says Steffen Haefner, who led the study. The proportion who complained of symptoms such as pain, dizziness, exhaustion and severe sleep deprivation was twice as high as in a control group of noncommuters. Of the long-distance travelers, Haefner says, “31 percent of the men and 37 percent of the women were, from a medical point of view, clearly in need of treatment.” Other studies show that workers who use mass transit suffer from higher infection rates and that car drivers have a greater incidence of joint disease.

  6. JWP

    Groves of Academe: Some on the ground stuff.

    Wake Forest University, where we are at 10% of the student body positive in 2.5 weeks. The school’s response has amounted to what can only be read as paying “experts” to support their policies. These include: claiming transmission does not occur in shared bathrooms as long as masks are worn and people remain 6 feet apart, moving students with potential exposure to single rooms in shared suites does not pose a danger as long as protocols are followed, and “there has never been a reported case of classroom transmission.”

    The school has seldom punished the greek life party holders responsible for the initial outbreak, nor have they owned up to creating a cesspool on campus by allowing maskless indoor dining, open gyms, and putting sick kids next to healthy ones. No one is punished because it hurts donors and reputation, and they refuse to force the issue on isolating in place because it requires them to eliminate indoor, in person classes. With that, comes a strict policy that people who feel unsafe or leave campus due to covid are on the hook for their classes if they meet in person and they cannot switch to online.

    With no punishment outside of a “warning” or probation, which is the equivalent of a strike, no one has an incentive to follow directives, especially since they are making the problem worse. Students have to quarantine for 14 days if contact traced, but they are not tested during that time period so there are hundreds of kids isolated for no apparent reason and cannot get to class, be outside, or even open the window.

    Finally, the school has not acknowledged aerosols and is enforcing outdoor masks when walking around and exercising on campus. We get an email at least once if not twice a day with new guidelines so keeping up to date is impossible. Given the immense prevalence on campus, the attitude is now heavily anti-school and admin, and a lot of giving up on listening to authority because it has done no good for anyone so far.

    As usual, dissolve the administrator’s jobs and positions and let the faculty and students run the place.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > As usual, dissolve the administrator’s jobs and positions and let the faculty and students run the place.

      Sounds like a recipe for a joint strike by students + faculty (perhaps adjuncts only). Given an aerosol-based approach, it should not be hard to devise a rational scheme. (The pleasing part is that taking ventilation into account would involve taking some control over capital investment away from the adminstrators.)

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps we could use ” anti-Administrator” policy as a carrot to get colleges and universities to reduce their level of Administration back to what it was in some to-be-determined golden age of government supported education.

        ” If you “rif” ( reduction-in-force) administrators and staff down to golden-age levels, and lower the pay of the ones you don’t “rif” down to golden age levels, we will give you govertaxpayer support.”

      2. JWP

        Amazingly, there are some fun social parallels with the left/right divide on campus. it’s about 50/50 on students in and not in greek life. Greek life blames the admin and other greek orgs, non-greek blames greek, admin blames greek, and professors blame admin and greek. So the student population gets to envying each other while the admin blames part of the student population. Unlike the real world, the divide isn’t intentionally stirred up. Nonetheless, it gives somewhere for the admin to pass blame and liability onto instead of taking large scale measures that will look bad on them.

        In 2.75 years here I have never seen the faintest sign of student activism as we do at the state schools. Very much a culture of assimilation and order to get jobs so I don’t see the unification for a strike or protest coming before a mass exodus to go live at home.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Are some colleges and universities worse than others in this regard? If so, all present students should quit and go home and no future students should ever apply. The goal would be to bankrupt those “most infected” colleges and universities into irreversible velcro-lined roach-motel liquidation, to terrorise the rest into taking the virus seriously and honestly.

      1. ChrisPacific

        Some are doing quite well. Cornell is one example that’s often quoted, and Tufts is another that has come up here. You can easily check for yourself by looking at their online resources, policies and test tracking.

        So the problem isn’t that there are no workable models. There are, and it’s… I won’t say ‘easy’ because it clearly takes a lot of time, money, effort, and planning, but at least clear how they can be implemented.

        I suspect that the level of dysfunction and denial among colleges is probably reflective of the level among the population as a whole. If everyone was agreed on the right and wrong ways to deal with Covid, then the strategy you describe would work, but they aren’t.

    3. Laputan

      As a member of the admin in higher ed, I can attest to the collapse of trust with administrations due to their abysmal failure and complete cowardice in coming up with any real solutions to the pandemic. It’s also the case that faculty are about as PMC as you’re going to find – always deferring to hierarchies and credentials to make their decisions, consumed with petty professional jealousies, and viciously careerist. Outside of the admins, faculty are probably the worst to run anything.

      I say let the custodians, admin assistants, and plant workers have a seat at the table for once.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I say let the custodians, admin assistants, and plant workers have a seat at the table for once.

        Since they are the most qualified to understand the built environment, i.e. aerosols, yes indeed. We’d also have wastewater testing for the virus in a heartbeat.

  7. dcblogger

    I cannot believe the American Conservative had the crust to suggest that the J20 demonstrators were better treated than the MAGA mob. The demonstration converged on MacPhearson Square, broke some windows at the local Starbucks, set a trash can and car on fire. Not defending setting things on fire, but WAY different than the Trump mob. The J20 crowd was threatened with something like 20 years in prison and the charges were dropped as I recall on the grounds of gross proprietorial abuse.

  8. Celia Chazelle

    Regarding the vaccination problems in the northeast, we received this announcement 2 days ago. The slowdown seems due to lack of vaccine, with the result that vaccination sites are shutting down. I’ve also learned that calling the ‘hotline’ is useless; usually one is told that it’s simply impossible at the present to make a reservation for either shot by phone:

    Update on the Availability of the COVID-19 Vaccine in Princeton. The State has informed Mercer County municipalities that during the current vaccine shortage, they will no longer supply vaccines to municipally-run clinics. Therefore, due to the current vaccine shortage, the clinics held by Princeton Health Department and other municipal health departments in Mercer County, will be placed on a temporary hold effective February 13, 2021.

    If you are scheduled to receive a second dose with Princeton Health Department you will still receive that on the date you were scheduled.

    Once the supply increases to meet the demand, we are prepared to schedule further local clinics to help serve those residents who face challenges in receiving care at the larger regional sites. In the meantime, our local health departments will continue to support the vaccination efforts underway by assisting the county at the Mercer County Community College (MCCC) vaccination site. Mercer County has also partnered with Capital Health Systems to operate a vaccination clinic at the CURE arena. Appointments are required at both sites through NJVSS.

    The existing wait lists maintained by local health departments in Mercer County will continue to be used to identify people for county-level vaccine clinics. Eligible residents who have already pre-registered with the municipality will continue to be offered appointments and then be scheduled into the available slots at one of the two county-facilitated vaccination sites, either MCCC or the Cure Arena. Those on the Princeton waitlist should anticipate that it may take weeks or more to vaccinate everyone currently on the waitlist. Given this anticipated timeline, new additions to the Princeton wait lists are not available at this time. It is important to understand that selection from wait lists may prioritize the oldest residents and those unable to navigate larger venues. Those residents who are able to travel to other sites throughout the state are recommended to check the list of vaccine sites throughout the state and reach out to those with their own portals to register for an appointment. While local health agencies are unable to respond to direct inquiries about specific positions on the list or on anticipated wait times, be assured that you will be contacted once an appointment is available.
    Everyone seeking vaccination should use the State’s centralized registration and take the first appointment offered to you.
    New Jersey Vaccination Scheduling System is available at: https://covidvaccine.nj.gov

    If you have trouble with the NJVSS Registration or do not have access to the internet- Call the COVID Scheduling Assistance Hotline at 855-568-0545.

    There are some local healthcare providers that offer vaccinations and some use a separate registration process. Please check with each site for details.
    A complete list of New Jersey COVID-19 Vaccination Sites is at: https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/covid-19-vaccine-locations-for-eligible-recipients

    1. epynonymous

      In the NE. The medical facility I frequent had a trailer installed right off the street last month. It blew out cold air, so thats where they might store doses.

      Yesterday, it was turned off so yeah.

      Also the Ma governor was meeting with a new mother who built a superior vax website on her own yesterday. My family over 65 all has the shot, and my dad plans to travel to Florida once two weeks pass to visit grandpa… and this after taking lockdown seriously.

    2. Betty

      OMG re Mercer County NJ. Well, in NYC retail pharmacy chains will be able to start giving vaccines tomorrow (Feb 11). Not sure about many chains, but Walgreens provided a very simple electronic sign up system (that includes the option of signing up for the first AND second shots). Strangely little has been said in the local press, but word got around quickly on the next door and related apps.

    1. dcblogger

      I saw that. Really bad news. On the other hand this would not be happening except that the BDS movement is building strength and Israel is on the defensive. Censorship works really well. Until it doesn’t.

  9. dcblogger

    ‘This was very similar to the intelligence assessment of the Dec. 12, 2020, MAGA II event.’ During both of those previous protests there was a ‘limited amount of violence and/or injuries to officers, and a limited number of arrests.’

    wow, as a DC resident I have to say I have a very different view of the previous MAGA events. The reason that there were so few arrests is that the DC Police stood back and let them run around the city attacking Black people, attacking homeless people, and generally a threat to everyone. I can’t find the video, but Chuck Modi had one of a group of Proud Boys attacking a Black women, who managed to get away, and was promptly arrested on God knows what charge. The DC police completely failed the city. On December 6 they attacked churches and burned their Black Lives Matter banners. The police made zero effort to protect the Churches. Had the DC Police treated the Proud Boys seriously and arrested them for their multiple assaults the Jan 6 event would never have happened.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If only the attacked churches could have foreseen the attacks and prepared by soaking down their banners with polyurethane. Then, when the Proud Boys set them on fire and danced around the flames, the Proud Boys could have inhaled cyanide fumes generated by the burning polyurethane, as they deserved.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Had the DC Police treated the Proud Boys seriously and arrested them for their multiple assaults the Jan 6 event would never have happened.

      Or not in the same way.

  10. dcblogger

    Trump’s political operation paid more than $3.5 million to Jan. 6 organizers

    OpenSecrets unearthed more than $3.5 million in direct payments from Trump’s 2020 campaign, along with its joint fundraising committees, to people and firms involved in the Washington, D.C. demonstration before a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol.

    Recent FEC filings show at least three individuals listed on permit records for the Washington, D.C. demonstration were on the Trump campaign’s payroll through Nov. 30, 2020.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Trump’s political operation paid more than $3.5 million to Jan. 6 organizers

      I don’t agree that the January 6 rally = the January 6 riot.

      Of course you fund a rally. Plus, grifters gotta grift. And plenty of the rioters also hate the normie Republicans that funding went to.

  11. km

    Re: Opening Schools in 100 days (or maybe not) – I suspect that the Biden Administration has discovered that the Teachers Unions aren’t necessarily going to simply take orders from the White House, because Team D.

    So the Administration has little choice but to backtrack.

      1. km

        Chicago is but one school district, and in a town well known for its all-embracing Team D political machine.

        One down, some 13,000-odd school districts to go. How many days?

    1. Arizona Slim

      I know this isn’t going to work in Chicago in February, but how about outdoor classes?

      This past weekend, I noticed such a class happening in a nearby park. One of my neighbors runs it, and it’s a permaculture design certification class.

      From a distance, I could tell that COVID-safe guidelines were in effect. The seating was widely space, with a big gap between the students and instructor.

      1. CanCyn

        I have read – sorry can’t find a link – that they did hold outdoor classes in cold winter climates during the 1918 flu. Warm clothes and bonfires. Nowadays we have better outdoor heating technology. Not all day, everyday but it could be done. We had an outdoor Solstice gathering with a bonfire. It was nice, everyone dressed warmly and we were fine.

  12. allan

    Dominic Pezzola, Rochester man charged in Capitol riot, said he was duped by Trump [D&C]

    The Rochester man accused of leading the charge in the storming of the United States Capitol on Jan. 6 said he was deceived and duped by President Donald Trump in court paperwork filed by his counsel Wednesday. The filing came on the second day of the second impeachment trial of the former president.

    Dominic Pezzola, 43, was arraigned Tuesday on 11 charges, including conspiracy and assaulting, resisting, or impeding a United Stated Capitol police officer. He, along with co-defendant William Pepe of Beacon, Dutchess County, pleaded not guilty. Pezzola is scheduled to have a detention hearing at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. …

    In a 15-page motion for release, [federal public defender] Zucker said his client was deceived by Trump and “acted out of delusional belief” in response to calls by the former president. Zucker outlined his client’s disavowal of Trump and stated Pezzola’s involvement with the Proud Boys was minimal. …

    Zucker concluded, “Hopefully, as a result of this experience he has learned not be so gullible and will not be so easily duped again.”

    Turn an attempted insurrection into a personal growth experience with this one trick.

  13. Lee

    I have spent zero minutes spectating impeachment theater but I have picked up on a bit of the MSM commentary. Acquittal is a foregone conclusion, so that the Democrats may face the prospect of once more running against the Donald, assuming he remains healthy.

    The Democrats see a political advantage in discrediting Trump and the Republicans on the basis of their embrace of capricious, cruel, and bigoted authoritarianism as well their apparent willingness to encourage their hapless minions to violently depose the duly elected. The question I have, given that absent the pandemic, Trump probably would have won the election thus indicating no great groundswell favoring Democrats, does the general public actually not give much of a sh*t about impeachment machinations on capitol hill? Or is it just me?

    1. Keith

      I don’t think they do. They have real work problems like paying the rent/mortgage, arranging child care, paying auto costs, cooking dinner, etc. Free time is hard to come by, and unless you are a news junkie, why waste your time on something that will have no impact on you either way. It is just the chattering class doing what they do best, expecting the world to care about their drama and then being shocked when no one does.

    2. km

      “does the general public actually not give much of a sh*t about impeachment machinations on capitol hill? Or is it just me?”

      Think of it as a particularly homer version of sports talk radio. This obviously has a market, but at the same time, it is of little interest to anyone not already engrossed in the sport or home team under analysis.

    3. Pat

      My opinion is that most of the people who don’t live in the beltway or aren’t suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome would rather Congress spent the time trying to improve things at the Post Office and perhaps getting a clue about the actual economy and provide real relief and stimulus.
      I also have a sneaking suspicion that even more people know how pointless the exercise is after the first impeachment. People now know that the system deliberately demands a high level of bipartisan agreement that the crime was committed. That cannot help.

    4. HotFlash

      Looks to me like the DC electeds are just playing to each other and, of course, the pundits. The public be damned.

    5. JTMcPhee

      At risk of being called CT, it seems to me that the only way one can call Biden a “duly elected” president is by accepting the Narrative. Which looks to be aimed at turning Trump into a non-person, for the sin of making the Solons and the PMC generally look like corrupt fools (I say “look like”with tongue in cheek, of course.) Hard to find mainstream critiques of the dem primary shenanigans now Bernie has been neutered, but there are critiques that point to voter suppression, strange numbers in electronic voting results and missing exit polls — lots of little and not so little things, like the Iowa caucuses and closed polling places in many (mostly Rep) precincts and masses of people being struck off the voter rolls and various poll tax equivalents. It’s “duly elected” only because the PTB wanted the embarrassing Trump erased and their bought-and-paid-for preferences in the “legitimate” seats of power.

      One that is not too foily: https://spectator.us/topic/reasons-why-the-2020-presidential-election-is-deeply-puzzling/

      A ton of irregularities on all sides, in this sham democracy/actual oligarchy. To me this just looks like the PTB winning their verdict by exhausting the rest of us — how many are tired of Russiagate and Pee Tapes and the rest? “We just want to get back to normal,” like the Scandinavian immigrants who settled in North Dakota because it reminded them of home,forgetting why they left Norway in the first place… Minus 15 degrees in Fargo tonight..

  14. Cuibono

    “Euthanize the NGOs”
    hope that was tongue in cheek. Are their bad apples in ngos? of course. does that mean they are all in the same boat as this truly egregious example?

    1. jsn

      Name an NGO that hasn’t taken a good cause and channeled it into ineffectuality.

      Then wait, if you can find one. Because if there is one that hasn’t, it will shortly.

      That is how they get funded. That is what they get paid to do.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > tongue in cheek

      It’s a Keynes reference (“the euthanasia of the rentiers,” which doesn’t seem to have worked out, sadly).

      But yes, I would do away with the entire sector, root and branch.

      1) N”G”Os are, in general, doing work that ought to be funded and performed by a functional State. Instead, the work they do is at the mercy of the whims of oligarch funders. Worse, the oligarchs only fund projects and not infrastructure. As a consequence, the NGOs are perpetually groveling to potential donors.

      2) NGOs are a moat around the Democrat Party. NGOs are where functionaries are stashed between administrations (Neera Tanden). NGOs are also the means whereby activist organizations are decapitated, as their leadership is bought off with an NGO job.

      3) NGOs are more about writing grants than delivering services, and the services they do deliver have more to do with what the grantwriting PMC want than what the locals need. the Trillbilllies have some great material on NGOs in Appalachia. I did some contracting with an NGO that was focused on rural issues and entirely missed the opioid epidemic, for example. It took me a long time to realize how dysfunctional it was, because it had all the traps of a going non-profit concern, i.e. brochures were printed, meetings were had, etc.

  15. Lee

    Our pathetic healthcare system:

    Biden, House Democrats strengthen Obamacare, make it more affordable in COVID-19 relief bill (Daily Kos)

    The House Ways and Means Committee is moving to dramatically increase access to Affordable Care Act (ACA) policies for those who lost insurance during the pandemic. According to one survey, that’s nearly 3 in 10 Americans. That same survey found that 46% of those who lost coverage at some point in 2020 are still uninsured because of the cost of buying a new plan on the individual market. The House is going to use the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to help those people and at the same time strengthen the Affordable Care Act.

    What they intend to do in the legislation is to make Obamacare coverage much more affordable to a larger group of people. ….

    A rather complex list of eligibility criteria follow the above. Tinkering with a Rube Goldberg device powered by perverse incentives and replete with complex means testing is always tricky. Consumers must exercise great care lest their bodies and/or bank accounts get ground to bits in the gearing.

    1. Pat

      Until the government requires both real healthcare be provided by the insurance companies without crippling deductibles and copays, and essentially pays 90% of the premiums for most of the Americans without employer provided insurance (and huge tax subsidies for employers for their premiums) Obamacare will face continually rising opposition from the public.

      IOW the only way to avoid single payer and save Obama’s Legacy is to eventually have a faux insurance market where the government pays boucoup bucks to numerous insurance Companies to provide single payer type coverage to the public. That will be avoided as long as it possible to have all the rentiers paid by the plebes, but the unrest is growing.

  16. Expat2Uruguay

    Regarding the capital seizure and DC cops not being adequately prepared because the threat was downplayed, according to this podcast episode (This is Hell) with Brian Mier, an embedded journalist in Brazil, Bolsonaro was saying for several weeks that something big was going to happen specifically on January 6th. It’s also interesting to note that Bolsonaro’s approval ratings cratered by around 10% after the capital seizure event because his credibility was blown.


  17. The Rev Kev

    ‘An owl obviously spotted something to eat even in the snow. They are wonderful creatures, but they don’t take prisoners!’

    I see that owls can do snow angels as well but this one seems to be an angel of death!

  18. Andrew Watts

    RE: “Twenty-seven percent of people with a postgraduate degree responded that QAnon claims are either very accurate or somewhat accurate.”

    The personage of Q is partly based upon a hidden character from the arcade game Street Fighter III. Making a cult based on a video game character is very much in the American zeitgeist. This is what happens when Europe shipped all it’s religious lunatics to North America centuries ago.

    From the Street Fighter wiki.

    Q is generally the quiet type, as he only speaks (or rather, grunts) when being hit, and he also mumbles an unintelligible and nonsensical line of dialogue after defeating his opponent. His win quotes consist of ellipses and short, vague phrases (e.g. “I… am abomination.”); the latter are shown in parenthesis, perhaps indicating his thoughts or translating mumbling.

    The Biden Transition Team’s post-election wargame seemed to be inspired by the video game mod Kaiserreich. The alternative history timeline of the game features the contested presidential election of 1933. This entirely fictional election can end in many ways, but one of them involves Gen. MacArthur seizing Congress while California, Washington, and Oregon secede from the Union in response.

    It’s quite hard to trigger the second American Civil War in spite of it being every player’s objective. Multiple peaceful outcomes of the presidential election are a possibility. It does include a political deal being made between conservative Democrat John Nance Garner and socialist radical John “Jack” Reed, While I wouldn’t compare Garner with Biden or even Bernie with Reed… hey, wait a minute!

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      So whenever a European mocks America for this or that bad or barbaric thing, the proper response might well be . . . . ” Well thank you so much for sending over your best and brightest to get the party started, eh?”

      1. Andrew Watts

        I’d probably reply along the lines of “Your high culture was my saturday morning cartoons!” But all the time I’m just like “Yeah, that’s a fair assessment of America.”

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The personage of Q is partly based upon a hidden character from the arcade game Street Fighter III.

      Are you sure this isn’t a parallel development?

      > The Biden Transition Team’s post-election wargame seemed to be inspired by the video game mod Kaiserreich.

      This is very interesting. As pre-post-literate old codgers like myself age out, I would expect to see more and more analogies/correspondences like this in political life. More like this, please.

      1. Andrew Watts

        “Are you sure this isn’t a parallel development?”

        We’ve already seen multiple instances where people used lore from a video game as an inspiration in the real world. The most prominent example is the NSA hack conducted by “Shadow Brokers” derived from the Mass Effect game trilogy. What I’m not really sure about is if Q, the Street Fighter character, ever made any kind of reference to “the storm” whenever he’d pop up in-game. I seem to vaguely recall it, but I haven’t regularly played it and unlocked Q since around 2002 or so. Q, again the Street Fighter character, is viewed as being behind major events in that fictional universe who is being actively being pursued by the CIA for unknown reasons. Fighting the deep state, perhaps?

        There was talk of Q returning in Street Fighter V, but I think even the creators suspect their creation is being used for nefarious cult-like reasons. I’ve attempted to search every arcade for a SFIII: Third Strike machine within a 100 mile radius to find out ever since QAnon became a thing, This probably sounds crazy especially since all I had to do was wait for renovations on Ground Kontrol in downtown Portland to be finished. Maybe I just wanted to visit every arcade in the area. My cover story, because I know how crazy this sounds I cannot emphasis this enough, was that I was searching for the cheapest skee ball machine in the State. It still sounded crazy, but less so to my co-workers, friends, and family.

        Eventually I gave up right before the pandemic became widespread, but I still find it pretty hilarious that few people from my demographic didn’t immediately get the Street Fighter reference. Especially since there’s so much media attention on QAnon right now.

        Best internet prank ever.

  19. drumlin woodchuckles

    About rising sea levels pushing up shallowly-buried seaside toxins and toxic wastes . . . . those parts of coastal America which acknowledge the problem can refuse to permit Federal Assistance for any of it until those parts of the country which don’t acknowledge the problem decide to acknowledge the problem.

    And then only permit acting on the problem in a broader context of general global de-warming actions.
    Make the global warming deniers live out the true meaning of their beliefs.

  20. allan

    Before she deletes the Tweet:

    Andrea Mitchell @mitchellreports

    .@SenTedCruz says #ImpeachmentTrial is like Shakespeare full of sound and fury
    signifying nothing. No, that’s Faulkner
    6:46 PM · Feb 10, 2021

    A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
    This is what happens when your required bedtime reading is The Fountainhead.

    1. Wombat

      Some good laughs in the replies:

      “Well sure, Macbeth is not the bard’s best work, but why are blaming Cruz for that?“

      “It’s from this obscure little Shakespeare piece… you’ve probably never heard of it… called “Macbeth”. Real obscure hipster play, Andrea.“

      “so true . i hope alan is well”

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Though the people trying to explain it’s a Faulkner novel are just bizarre. The people continuing to laugh at Cruz are just weird. Blue MAGA is the only thing that makes sense.

        I’m surprised more people aren’t saying “the Scottish play”, but maybe that is just for performers.

  21. The Rev Kev

    Just saw this dramatic headline – ‘US Capitol rioters ‘planned to kill Pence and Pelosi’ impeachment trial hears as never before seen footage shown’

    On the bright side, at least the US Capitol rioters were bipartisan.

  22. Robin Kash

    “Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund says entire intelligence community missed signs of riot”
    US intel agencies miss so much, so often, and suffer no consequences. The Arab Spring comes to mind. They are very good, however, in hatching regime change plots and over throwing government of which someone in our govt approves not. The list is far too long.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘the Pentagon’s Deputy Secretary expresses concern over “extreme consolidation.”

      That’s sweet that. It was I think about twenty years ago or more that the US government was demanding that all those defence corporations consolidate into a smaller number. Don’t quote me on it but I think that one result of this encouraged consolidation was Boeing merging with McDonnell Douglas.

    2. flora

      One interesting bit:

      It’s an important response, though it’s not clear how Hicks prioritizes addressing financial concentration. The temporary picks Biden has put through on the Pentagon in mid-tier roles are not promising, with McKinsey public relations executive Jesse Salazar picked to run industrial policy, despite McKinsey recently being stripped from the government cost schedule for cheating public agencies.

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