2:00PM Water Cooler 2/24/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Texas Sandhill Crane. (Macaulay Library allows searches to be filtered on location, which is handy.)

#COVID19

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

I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching, because I don’t think the peak is coming in the next days, or even weeks. Is the virus gathering itself for another leap?

Vaccination by region:

Big drop in the South no doubt storm-related.

Here is vaccination in the South (as defined by the US Census):

Mostly Texas, so I say the drop in the South is weather-related, although there may be supply (supply chain, also weather; manufacturing) and demand (hesitancy) issues as well. The trackers (Bloomberg, WaPo) are unilluminating).

Case count by United States region:

A little uptick in the South.

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

Encouraging to see cases in Texas go up, in that at least we know there’s some testing being done.

Test positivity:

Regional averages approach 3%, which is what we want to see. (Alert reader TsWkr pointed out it’s time to update my test positivity comment, which I just did.)

Hospitalization:

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):

An uptick in deaths. Still, that rising fatality rate in the West (red) is what worries me. Could that be due to variants?

Politics

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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

“Political Violence, Risk Aversion, and Non-Localized Disease Spread: Evidence from the U.S. Capitol Riot” (PDF) [NBER]. Smartphone data. “On January 6, 2021, the U.S. Capitol was sieged by rioters protesting certification of Joseph R. Biden’s election as the 46th president of the United States. The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) quickly predicted that the Riot would be a COVID-19 ‘surge event.’ This study is the first to estimate the impact of the Capitol Riot on risk-averting behavior and community-level spread of the novel coronavirus. …. [T]urning to COVID-19 case data, we find no evidence that the Capitol Riot substantially increased community spread of COVID-19 in the District of Columbia in the month-long period following the event…. [C]ounties with the highest protester inflows experienced a significant increase in the rate of daily cumulative COVID-19 case growth in the month following the protest. We conclude that the Capitol Riot may have contributed to non-localized COVID-19 spread.” • No spread in DC, spread nationwide. Due to DC lockdown?

“Peter Stager, Capitol Rioter Accused of Beating Officer With Flag Pole, Faces 40-Year Sentence” [Newsweek]. “Stager is facing a total of seven charges including entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, and engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, in connection to the attack. Two of the charges against Stager—”obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting” and “assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon”—carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail.”

Biden Administration

“Senate meetings on Tanden postponed, suggesting lack of support for Biden budget pick” [Reuters]. • That’s a damn shame. And whoops:

You’d think the Administration would give the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee a courtesy call.

“How the White House botched the Neera Tanden nomination” [Politico]. To be fair to Biden, his honeymoon has been remarkably short. ““Around here the opposition is always looking for the person that they can put a fight up about. And she would be the obvious one to cull from the herd,” said one Senate Democrat, referring to the wall of GOP opposition Tanden faced from the beginning. For a while, the White House felt Tanden would avoid her current fate. She atoned for her now infamous Twitter behavior and put forward her personal story of a hardscrabble life, living on food stamps and raised by a single mother. And allies like former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who consults frequently with the White House, predicted that both parties would get on board due to the historic nature of her nomination: Tanden would become the first South Asian woman to head up the agency.” • Harry Reid couldn’t even hold Nevada in 2020. Why does anyone still listen to him?

“Sanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack” [The Hill]. ““’ like Tom and I’ve known him for years. I think we need somebody a little bit more vigorous in terms of protecting family farms and taking on corporate agriculture,’ Sanders told reporters after the vote. ‘I think he’ll be fine, but not as strong as I would like.'”

“Biden is leaving Amazon workers out in the cold” [The Week]. “And Biden has taken some reasonably encouraging pro-labor steps since becoming president. Almost immediately, he fired the entire board of Trump appointees on the Federal Service Impasses Panel, which oversees unions of federal workers. He later fired the top two members of the National Labor Relations Board, and has nominated a union attorney to become the agency’s general counsel. Both moves were cheered by unions. But now, when it comes to one of the most high-stakes union drives in years, the ongoing union election at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, Biden has said nothing in support. Here we have the prospect of organizing one of the most brutally anti-worker firms in the country — and possibly beginning to reverse the long decline in private-sector unionization, as Biden claims to want — and the president is AWOL. It’s a maddening decision.” • No, it’s simple. Biden wants to replace Trump’s political appointees with his own. Amazon strikers have nothing to do with patronage. More: “Amazon is one of the richest and most powerful companies in the world, and therefore a juicy prospect for post-office jobs and bribes for Biden and his staffers — witness former Obama administration press secretary Jay Carney, who is now a senior vice president at Amazon.” By contrast:

“Democrats Are Waltzing Toward an Easily Avoidable Political Disaster With Their COVID Bill” [Slate]. “At the moment, Democrats in Washington appear to be in danger of sleepwalking their way toward a major policy and public relations debacle. The problem? With tax season underway, millions of Americans who lost their jobs thanks to the coronavirus crisis might soon discover that they unexpectedly owe thousands of dollars to the IRS. Lawmakers could prevent this wave of surprise tax bills by adding a fix to the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that’s currently moving through Congress. But so far, efforts to do so seem to be stalling out. A senior Democratic aide told me that, as of now, he thought the chances legislators would act were ‘slim to none,’ and described the failure as ‘political malpractice.’ While unemployment benefits have long been considered taxable income, recipients are often unaware of that fact until it’s time to file. Under normal circumstances, this is not necessarily a disaster, since people tend to stay on unemployment for relatively short stints of time. But the past year has been different. A historic number of households fell back on unemployment insurance to survive the pandemic, and some have collected well over $10,000 or even $20,000 in aid thanks to the enhanced benefits Congress enacted.”

* * *

Biden Walkback: “Biden Shelves Mass Mask Shipments In Favor of Targeted Push” [Bloomberg]. • Lol, the liberal Democrats means-tested masks. Can I wake up now, please?

Biden Walkback: “Dems’ Gift To Health Insurance Predators” [Daily Poster]. “Instead of enacting a universal Medicare for All health care system that would save the United States and its citizens hundreds of billions of dollars annually, temporarily expanding Medicare or championing a promised “public option,”> Democrats are rallying behind a health care proposal that will funnel tens of billions of dollars to corporate health insurance companies even as they are already experiencing record profits and jacking up premiums, while continuing to deny claims. Democrats’ current plan will lower people’s premiums, but only on a temporary basis. It will also not stop insurers from passing on huge out-of-pocket costs to enrollees if they need medical care, nor does it improve the quality of people’s health insurance. Indeed, it will push people onto state exchanges where one in six in-network medical claims were denied in 2019. The proposal would be a boon for the health insurance industry, which has specifically lobbied for the new subsidies. Health insurers have already seen their profits skyrocket during the COVID-19 pandemic, since people have avoided going to the doctor, which means insurance companies are paying less to providers while collecting the same amount of premiums.” • Lol, Biden walked back the public option.

Biden Walkback:

Harris (I had to listen to this, pity me): “When elected, the first things I’m gonna do, one of the first things, is shut down these private detection facilities.” Narrator: She didn’t shut down the private detention facilities.

“The Job Of The Opposition Is To Oppose” [Eschaton]. “[E]very time I see someone complaining about Mitch stopping the Senate from doing things, I want to scream. Chuck Schumer runs the Senate. The rules are what they are because a portion of Democrats want the rules to be that way. That isn’t necessarily Chuck’s fault or Biden’s fault, but it isn’t Mitch’s fault. When Mitch didn’t like what Democrats in the minority were doing, he changed the rules.” • 

Obama Legacy

“Inside new podcast featuring Bruce Springsteen in conversation with Barack Obama” [ABC]. “In a video trailer for “Renegades: Born in the USA,” Obama explains, “In our own ways, Bruce and I have been on parallel journeys, looking for a way to connect our own individual searches for meaning, truth, then community with the larger story of America. And over the course of a few days, all just a few miles from where he grew up, we talked.” • You’re never going to get on the High Court, Larry:

Sample dialog:

TOGETHER: Privatize it!

Clinton Legacy

“Hillary Clinton Co-Writing Mystery Novel With Louise Penny” [HuffPo]. “Clinton is teaming up with her friend, the novelist Louise Penny, on ‘State of Terror,’ which has a plot that might occur to someone of Clinton’s background: A ‘novice’ secretary of state, working in the administration of a rival politician, tries to solve a wave of terrorist attacks.” • How are the mighty fallen.

Democrats en deshabille

“My story of working with Governor Cuomo” [Lindsey Boylan, Medium]. “‘Let’s play strip poker.’ I should have been shocked by the Governor’s crude comment, but I wasn’t. We were flying home from an October 2017 event in Western New York on his taxpayer-funded jet. He was seated facing me, so close our knees almost touched. His press aide was to my right and a state trooper behind us. ‘That’s exactly what I was thinking,’ I responded sarcastically and awkwardly. I tried to play it cool. But in that moment, I realized just how acquiescent I had become. Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected. His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right. He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences.” • Who wrote this script? Aaron Sorkin?

“Newsom pushes private seawater desalting plant over local and environmental opposition” [Los Angeles Times]. “When Gov. Gavin Newsom was photographed dining at an opulent Napa Valley restaurant [the French Laundry] during a surge in coronavirus cases, many Californians saw it as hypocrisy. For opponents of a planned $1-billion desalination plant along the Orange County coast, however, the optics were menacing. The unmasked Newsom was celebrating the birthday of a lobbyist for Poseidon Water, which is close to obtaining final government approval for one of the country’s biggest seawater desalination plants.” • That’s the lead. It gets worse from there. Everything is like CalPERS.

Republican Funhouse

“State GOP leaders opt for drive-up convention at Liberty University to nominate candidates” [Times-Dispatch]. “fter months of disagreement, the Virginia Republican Party’s governing body agreed Tuesday night on a method to nominate statewide candidates for the November election. They’ll hold a drive-up convention May 8 on the campus of Liberty University. The decision followed feuds among members of the party’s State Central Committee, who had opted for a convention to nominate candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. But such a gathering would be illegal under Virginia’s COVID-19 rules. Republicans spent months unable to reach agreement until Tuesday night. The convention at Liberty, the Christian university well known for its affiliations with conservative causes, is to be held at 9 a.m. Republicans said convention delegates will be able to stay in their cars the entire time, possibly listening to proceedings on a radio broadcast. They plan to use ranked-choice voting, so delegates would fill out one ballot and list their choices.” • Doubling down is not the exclusive province of liberals. But RCV is interesting!

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.

There are no official stats of interest today.

* * *

Retail: “The retail sector’s inventory restocking drive isn’t likely to let up anytime soon. Home Depot and Macy’s both are seeing pandemic-fueled shopping binge for home-improvement and furnishing goods continuing into 2021…. but executives at the chains say consumer spending could shift in the second half of the year depending on the course of the health crisis” [Wall Street Journal]. “Home Depot’s same-store sales rose 20% in the past quarter while sagging apparel demand sent Macy’s annual sales tumbling 30%. Home Depot’s online sales also soared 83%, highlighting a transformation in consumer spending that is still roiling supply chains. Home Depot’s inventories were up only 14.4% from a year ago, to $16.63 billion.”

Shipping: “January 2021 Trucking Improved” [Econintersect]. “Headline data for the CASS Freight Index show that truck volumes show volumes grew month-over-month – and the year-over-year growth advanced further in positive territory…. The CASS index is inclusive of rail, truck, and air shipments. The ATA truck index is inclusive of only trucking industry member movements (ATA’s tonnage data is dominated by contract freight). I put a heavier weight on the CASS index year-over-year which is more consistent with rail and ocean freight.”

Manufacturing: “FAA back under spotlight with latest Boeing incidents” [Agence France Presse]. “In the wake of a weekend scare on a Boeing 777 over engine failure, the Federal Aviation Administration moved immediately to suspend flights on planes with the same model. On Tuesday, the FAA disclosed that it had also been contemplating stricter rules on the same kind of planes even before the Denver flight, following a similar incident on Japanese Airlines in December when a Pratt & Whitney engine also failed. The statement comes as the US agency, once considered the gold standard of aviation safety, works to recover its standing in the wake of the previous Boeing 737 MAX disasters…. NTSB Chair Robert Sumwalt said Monday that a root cause of the incident appeared to be metal fatigue, adding that the investigation was ongoing. The NTSB plans to look at the inspection record on the United plane to see ‘who knew what when, what could have been done and what should have been done,’ Sumwalt said.”

Manufacturing: “United Air’s Grounded 777s Had Troubled History in Debt Markets” [Bloomberg]. “Before coming under scrutiny because of a mid-air engine explosion, United Airlines Holdings Inc.’s aging fleet of Boeing Co. 777s had already garnered plenty of criticism in credit markets. The aircraft that showered debris over a Denver suburb this past weekend was among assets that investors had been reluctant to accept as collateral last year when the airline sought to borrow billions of dollars to ride out the pandemic, according to flight records and debt documents reviewed by Bloomberg. United’s first attempt to sell debt backed by some of its oldest planes — including the 26-year-old 777-200 with the engine mishap, and dozens more like it — collapsed in May after investors demanded interest as high as 11% to compensate for the risk.” • Hoo boy.

Manufacturing: “Apple Partner Foxconn to Form EV Partnership With Fisker” [Bloomberg]. “Foxconn Technology Group will develop an electric vehicle with Fisker Inc., part of the manufacturer’s efforts to boost its automotive capabilities at a time when technology companies including its main customer Apple Inc. are looking to expand in vehicles. The car will be built by Foxconn, targeted at multiple markets including North America, Europe, China and India, and sold under the Fisker brand, according to a joint statement from the companies Wednesday. Production is set to start in the fourth quarter of 2023.”

Supply Chain: “February Regional Business Surveys Find Widespread Supply Disruptions” [Liberty Street Economics]. “Business activity increased in the region’s manufacturing sector in recent weeks but continued to decline in the region’s service sector, continuing a divergent trend seen over the past several months, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s February regional business surveys. Looking ahead, however, businesses expressed widespread optimism about the near-term outlook, with service firms increasingly confident that the business climate will be better in six months. The surveys also found that supply disruptions were widespread, with manufacturing firms reporting longer delivery times and rising input costs, a likely consequence of such disruptions.”

Travel: “Air Travel Quarantines Are Getting Longer and Lonelier” [Bloomberg]. “in parts of the world that have been most successful in keeping out the virus, quarantine rules are being tightened and policy makers are striking a more cautious tone on when travel may start again. Authorities in Melbourne are sketching out plans for custom-built isolation facilities outside the city. Hong Kong has one of the most extreme policies: a soul-crushing 21-day hotel lockup awaits residents arriving from outside China. The different requirements are neutering a push by airlines for a standardized global response to get people flying again. The International Air Transport Association’s proposal for test or vaccine certificates to replace quarantines hasn’t gained traction with governments.” • It occurs to me that the arc of international air travel went from something glamorous and expensive, through the mass market, to almost impossible, all in the space of a single lifetime (mine). Would it really be so bad to take a ship to Europe again? (Perhaps not to Asia.)

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 61 Greed (previous close: 57 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 66 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 24 at 12:15pm.

CNN]. One week ago: 69 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 19 at 11:46am. New intern? —>

The Biosphere

Nature’s loogie gun:

I’d really like to see mass-market loogie guns using Super Soaker technology at that price-point. I want one handy for the first time I encounter a Boston Dynamics “dog.” Or several, in case I encounter a pack.

Health Care

“FDA says single-dose shot from J&J prevents severe COVID” [Associated Press]. “Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine offers strong protection against severe COVID-19, according to an analysis released Wednesday by U.S. regulators that sets the stage for a final decision on a new and easier-to-use shot to help tame the pandemic. The long-anticipated shot could offer the nation a third vaccine option and help speed vaccinations by requiring just one dose instead of two…. Across all countries, Wednesday’s analysis showed protection began to emerge about 14 days after vaccination. But by 28 days after vaccination, there were no hospitalizations or deaths in the vaccinated group compared with 16 hospitalizations and seven deaths in study recipients who received a dummy shot. The FDA said effectiveness and safety were consistent across racial groups, including Black and Latino participants. All of the world’s COVID-19 vaccines have been tested differently, making comparisons nearly impossible.”

“FDA scientists endorse J&J’s Covid vaccine, as new data shed light on efficacy” [STAT]. “Documents from the FDA scientists, as well as separate documents from Johnson & Johnson, were released ahead of a Friday meeting of an FDA advisory panel in which outside experts will discuss and then vote on the risks and benefits of the new vaccine. The panel, known as the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, makes recommendations to the FDA; the agency is not required to follow them, but it generally does… The J&J vaccine is the first vaccine to show efficacy given as a single dose. It also does not need to be kept frozen when being shipped, as the vaccines developed by Moderna and the team of Pfizer and BioNTech do. Both of those advantages could be profound when it comes to vaccinating as many people as possible, a key step in slowing the spread of SARS-CoV-2.”

* * *

“Reanalysis of deep-sequencing data from Austria points towards a small SARS-COV-2 transmission bottleneck on the order of one to three virions” (preprint) [bioRxiv]. From the abstract: “An early analysis of SARS-CoV-2 deep-sequencing data that combined epidemiological and genetic data to characterize the transmission dynamics of the virus in and beyond Austria concluded that the size of the virus’s transmission bottleneck was large – on the order of 1000 virions. We performed new computational analyses using these deep-sequenced samples from Austria…. From these analyses, among others, we found that SARS-CoV-2 transmission bottlenecks are instead likely to be very tight, on the order of 1-3 virions.” • (Here is an article on the distinction between a virion and a virus. For our immediate purposes, it doesn’t seem that important, though it is important as an enormous paradigmatic issue, and we can use virus in the popular sense, as the particle that infects.) Speaking as a layperson: The authors draw the conclusion that people are unlikely to be infected by several variants at once, which would be more likely if the transmission bottleneck (minimum dose) were 1000 virions. I speculate in addition that this supports the aerosol theory of transmission: A tiny aerosol particle would be more likely to transport fewer virions rather than many (unlike a big hawked-up droplet). In addition, I find this strangely reassuring: If it only takes one virion to infect, then the entire world would already be sick if transmission were that easy; so the ancient protections of the body must be pretty good (and need an assist, essentially). Qualified commenters please weigh in!

“Overcoming the Market Dominance of Hospitals” [JAMA]. “Amidst remarkable uncertainty for its future, one of the most concerning and constant trends in US health care has been the increasing consolidation of health delivery organizations. In health care, 2 main forms of consolidation exist. Horizontal consolidation occurs when hospitals or physician groups merge together, enabling the combined entity to increase its market share…. Vertical consolidation occurs when a hospital increases its employed physicians by acquiring a physician practice… Hospital consolidation in the past decade has not improved quality. Among 246 acquired hospitals and 1986 control hospitals, being acquired was associated with a moderate decline in performance on an aggregate patient experience measure (from the 50th percentile to the 41st percentile) but no significant changes in 30-day readmissions or mortality rates. Due to a lack of competition, the prices for services provided by physician practices tend to increase after acquisition. Additionally, legal limitations have weakened the ability of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce antitrust rules on nonprofit hospitals, even though these hospitals are involved in the majority of hospital and health system mergers. Thus, consolidation and the creation of multistate hospital systems could continue to have potentially adverse consequences for patients.” • 

Our Famously Free Press

Good call:

Gunz

“A Bristling Standoff Rattles Gun-Friendly Vermont” [New York Times]. “Daniel Banyai, a 47-year-old New Yorker…, attracted by Vermont’s relaxed gun laws, bought 30 acres in this rural town of around 1,400 and transformed it into his dream project, a training camp where visitors could practice shooting as if engaged in armed combat.” The neighbors aren’t happy. AR-15 barrages aside: “One reason they were irritated is because Vermont’s land use law, known as Act 250, is notoriously burdensome, requiring permits for anything built for a commercial purpose. ‘People do get bent out of shape when you are flouting the rules everyone else is following,’ said Merrill E. Bent, the town’s attorney since the summer of 2019. ‘They’re like, wait a minute, I had to get a permit for my chicken coop.'” • This is gun-friendly Vermont, one recalls. Local reporting from last year—

“Militia training site terrifies neighbors in West Pawlet” [VT Digger]. “The neighbors met with VTDigger near Briar Hill Road, which undulates beneath forests and through farm fields, lending a sense of isolation to the area. During the meeting, an unfamiliar truck sped into the backyard, several hundred yards from where the group had gathered. They didn’t recognize the vehicle, and their fear was palpable as the truck turned and peeled away. Some jumped to their feet, while others called out in alarm. ‘I have no idea who that is. Who the heck is that?’ One resident pulled out a phone to record, and another ran after the vehicle as it left the property. They worried the driver could be Banyai, or one of the men acting under his direction. In the past two weeks, men from Slate Ridge have surrounded individual neighbors in attempts to intimidate them. Banyai also threatened to kill bow hunters who had been near his property.” • And–

“Slate Ridge owner files as candidate for the Pawlet Selectboard” [VT Digger]. “PAWLET — Daniel Banyai, owner of the Slate Ridge firearms training facility, submitted paperwork yesterday to run for a seat on the town’s selectboard — a group he has clashed with for several years. If he were elected, Banyai would join a board that has hired an attorney and filed suit against him. The town has argued in court that Banyai’s operation is unpermitted, and therefore unlawful, in a residential area. Last week, as part of that case, an environmental court judge issued a preliminary injunction demanding that Banyai cease operations at Slate Ridge until the court issues a final ruling…. Typically, people running for office are required to collect voter signatures to qualify as candidates, but to prevent door-to-door signature collection during Covid-19, candidates only needed to fill out a consent form.” • Looks like “Town Meeting Voting Day” is March 2. Could be interesting.

Class Warfare

As Pandemic Profits Put Bezos on Track for Trillionaire Status, Tish James Asks: At What Cost? The Nation

“Britney Spears Was Never in Control” [The Cut]. “I have spoken with an affirming and disheartening number of people who described experiences of predators who, to borrow phrasing from my friend Suzy Exposito, ‘weaponized sex positivity.'”

I don’t know how to give an account of this:

News of the Wired

“Alamut, Bosch, Gaddis: Introduction to Epochal Art” [Covidian Aesthetics]. “[T]he @boschbot account on Twitter may be doing more to further our appreciation of Bosch’s Garden than most recent scholarship on it has, by exposing and exploiting its extraordinary detail through a telescopic lens, in an approach that allows the observer to engage the work on a precritical, almost prefrontal level, while opening up new and previously unseen dimensions of an artwork that had become a sort of floating signifier through memetic overexposure. As much as this enriches art by association, familiarity breeds indifference, the most unimaginative form of contempt. Counter to this level of assimilation, @boschbot plumbs the Garden’s enigmas and restores its mystery —that is to say, an element of its authority—in a feat of auratic restoration.” • For example:

“Lawrence Ferlinghetti” [Poetry Foundation]. “He died in early 2021, at the age of 101. He lived in San Francisco, where a street is named in his honor.”

* * *

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 (ulfarthelunatic):

ulfarthelunatic writes: “I am a regular reader. Thanks for your great website. Claret Cup cactus, New Mexico, April 2019.”

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the recently concluded and — thank you! — successful annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:




Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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.

164 comments

  1. Matthew G. Saroff

    Sanders not being notified of the Tanden selection ahead of time was not an accident.

    People in the Biden administration want it to be yet another excrement sandwich for Sanders to eat.

    Also, hippie punching is a moral imperative for these folks, how else can you explain the push by the Biden administration to nominate Rahm Emanuel as ambassador to Japan.

    Even if you believe that Rahm is some sort of political genius, and I don’t, his whole manner is completely at odds with the cultural norms of Japan.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Sanders’s apparent failure now and upcoming to reject the Tanden nomination shows a deep psychological and emotional failure and weakness on his part.

      When you see a cockroach in your kitchen, you crush it flat to make sure it is very dead. And so it should be with Tandenroach.

      1. a different chris

        What are you talking about? He doesn’t get to “reject the Tanden nomination” all by himself, there hasn’t been a vote, and all the searches for “Bernie Sanders Neera Tanden” pick up a pretty harsh vibe on the oh-so lovely Ms. Tanden.

        Like I’ve said about AOC, if you want superheroes* that can just do what you imagine needs to be done then you are gonna be severely disappointed and that’s not their fault.

        *One barely done with her first 2-yr term in a party that hates her, the other not a member of either party in a system rigged to exclude other parties…

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          By reject it , I obviously meant vote against it. I apologise for not being literal enough for you.
          If he votes against it, that would be a measure of rejection on his part.

      2. Mark Gisleson

        Tanden’s not going to be confirmed and Bernie never lifted a finger.

        How is that Bernie being weak?

        My guess is that Bernie saw she had zero chance of being confirmed and rather than draw lightning away from her and onto him, he kept his distance.

        1. barefoot charley

          Yes, and I’m merely amused by all the press covering her many meany-pants tweets against Republicans, with little or no mention of her actual occupation of lefty hippie-punching, especially that cranky old bald one in mittens. As we say every day, the sheer shamelessness of mainstream press bias and news suppression is (just a little) surprising.

          1. Another Thought

            From the replies to the tweet it looks like Clintonites are out in full force and a bitter as ever at Bernie.

          2. tegnost

            As we say every day, the sheer shamelessness of mainstream press bias and news suppression is (just a little) surprising.

            …don’t try to say that out loud

          3. Procopius

            Why not bring up her corporatist “think tank,” her solicitation of millions from Bahrain and UAE, her union-busting activities, her generally right-wing policy recommendations? I want to see her rejected, but not by just one or two votes. I want to see at least a dozen Democrats reject her as completely unqualified for the job she’s nominated for. I really don’t care if Bernie votes against her or not, except I think it shows class on his part to go ahead and support the leader of the party he always votes with.

        2. j

          Seems to me that Tanden had made herself radioactive with her penchant for making “direct statements.” To whom would she report, Biden or Hillary.

          That wing of the Party is never going to forgive Bernie for his lese magéste in 2016 and in 2020. He just did not get the message.

        3. Elizabeth Burton

          Also, being the chairman of the committee, isn’t he supposed to remain neutral until the vote?

    2. a different chris

      This made me a bit sad. He means well of course:

      “The fight you are waging will send a message to workers all across the country that if they stand up, stand together, and fight, they can win.”

      And if they lose? The message that would send is even more obvious.

      1. Geo

        Agreed but still glad he’s supporting them.

        Something Sanders seems to know better than most nowadays due to his lifetime of experience with it is that, on the left, losing battles is to be expected but continuing to fight is necessary. And he is one of the few consistently encouraging these battles for worker rights. Far too many think losses equate weakness and should probably read up on the history of labor and other rights movements to see how long and brutal the fights have been for modest gains. It’s always David vs. Goliath and most the time David gets annihilated.

        After his two crushing defeats by systemic corruption (what some call primary elections) it seems he’s doing as much as he can with the few threads of power he acquired while doing his part to amplify and encourage movements like this. Don’t know what more we can expect. Some seem feel leftie elected reps should start every day by hucking a Molotov cocktail at the power wielders but in terms of realistic measures he can take it appears he’s doing the best he knows how with the small bit of power he does have right now.

        1. albrt

          it is a thing most sorrowful, nay shocking, to expose the fall of valour in the soul. Men may seem detestable as joint stock-companies and nations; knaves, fools, and murderers there may be; men may have mean and meagre faces; but man, in the ideal, is so noble and so sparkling, such a grand and glowing creature, that over any ignominious blemish in him all his fellows should run to throw their costliest robes. That immaculate manliness we feel within ourselves, so far within us, that it remains intact though all the outer character seem gone; bleeds with keenest anguish at the undraped spectacle of a valor-ruined man.

          Herman Melville, Moby Dick

          I admire Bernie Sanders’ ability to carry on after what happened in 2016 and 2020, but I would not vote for him again even if he were 20 years younger, any more than I would vote for Starbuck.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Did anybody see that David Sirota tweet about this? he said-

      ‘On the whole, the Democratic Party is spending more political capital to try to get Neera Tanden a fancy White House job title than they are trying to raise the minimum wage. The entire spectacle is absolutely embarrassing, but quite revealing.’

    4. Tom Stone

      Will R. Hunter be named Ambassador to New Mexico?
      I’m sure he’d be happily surprised by the number of people there who speak english….

  2. boydownthelane

    Informal militia groups abound in the New England-New York area with excess remote woodland. I’ve been to places in New England most people don’t know exist and wouldn’t know how to find (or exit) if it weren’t for GPS. The folks in Pawlet are organizing against an invasion of the Hudson River-ites who are buying up all the land for ski escapism.

      1. Pelham

        Same here. Nice and usually capable of practical things that baffle me, like fixing an alternator, whatever that is. Oh, I’m sure there are some outright jerks with guns out there, but I’m thinking they’re a pretty small minority.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Well the guy in the article is one of them.

          He’s a recent transplant from NY, also known in VT as a “flatlander”. I’m not familiar with Pawlet, but I have to wonder if the town’s population has lost its critical mass of long-time ornery Vermonters, because I don’t see how things would have ever gotten that far in the VT towns I’m familiar with.

          When a hurricane remnant caused widespread flooding damage in VT several years ago, it washed out the on and off ramps to I-89. People needed to get places and weren’t willing to wait for government assistance, so one local fired up his own bulldozer and made some new ramps. There is a certain sense of self reliance among the long time residents.

          As to the guns, they are very commonplace in VT and people target shoot all the time, but behavior like what the * in the article is doing is highly frowned upon. My family still tells the story of a great uncle of mine who with his grandson came across an empty hunters’ truck on his property, and he was less than amused that they had chosen to go hunting without asking permission first, which he would have quite likely granted had they bothered. All anyone knows for sure is that the old man yanked the spark plugs from the hunters’ truck and told the grandson to run home while he stayed and waited for the hunters to come out of the woods. My guess is that was the first and last time those people hunted on his farm.

          Another fun story involves a good friend’s dad who was a fine example of the crotchety northern New England stoic. The town put up a streetlight which shone into his room at night. He asked the town to remove it a few times and they did not. The town finally got the hint when some ‘unknown’ person simply shot the streetlight off the telephone pole.

          If the authorities don’t deal with this flatlander menace, my guess is some locals eventually will, if the town has any left and hasn’t been overrun by less can-do types.

    1. Wukchumni

      Let me preface this by saying it isn’t uncommon to hear 5-10 gunshots a week in the distance, here. We’re pretty rural and nobody cares if you shoot once awhile…

      That said, about 7 years ago some guy bought a home and decided he wanted to shoot at all hours-which really pissed off his neighbors, nobody wants to hear shots going off @ 11:35 pm, but nothing seemingly could be done to stop him from doing so, because guns have more rights than humans as the situation goes in these not so United States.

      If this clod had decided he was going to play heavy metal music amp’d up to 11 @ 11:35 pm, he would’ve had a visit from law enforcement telling him he had to stop doing that as he was a public nuisance.

      It took heavy shunning and pissed off neighbors who did their darnedest to let it be known how upset they were with him, to finally make him sell the house and leave town, to popular acclaim.

        1. Pelham

          Ah, memories …

          Along about 1980 I lived in a suburban Miami apartment complex across a roadway from the largest mall in South Florida and it wasn’t uncommon to hear automatic gunfire from that general direction at night.

          1. ambrit

            You must mean Dadeland Mall, down in Kendall. The ‘olde’ family wouldn’t go there after dark.
            Miami got so [family blogging] big.
            We used to joke that Miami was the largest city in Cuba.
            Now, I’m told that it is the capitol of “The Caribbean States of America.”

        2. Darthbobber

          Yeah, there’s a difference between hunters in the woods and having a guy obviously operating a commercial shooting range in the neighborhood.

          Much as there’s a difference between being ok with dirt bikes generally and having someone operating a motocross track next door, as my wife’s family can attest.

  3. Tom Doak

    I wonder if the Pharma companies *collaborated* on choosing different study protocols to make sure their vaccines could not be compared easily? That sure seems like a handy feature.

  4. Mikel

    RE: J&J

    “The FDA said effectiveness and safety were consistent across racial groups, including Black and Latino participants. All of the world’s COVID-19 vaccines have been tested differently, making comparisons nearly impossible.”

    Shouldn’t the studies be more about whether they are effective across all sectors of EMPLOYMENT, geography, and family sizes? It’s how you get exposed that is the problem. But that would put the focus too much on things like school and workplace safety. Is that the fear?
    Because if there is a virus targeting people because of their race, that is an entirely different pandemic.

    They are already accounting for and studying the effects on people pre-existing conditions. So that is getting covered.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      There are indications people of color do, in fact, react differently to the virus and suffer more severe infections than White people. The underlying theme of this has been to imply this is because of physical differences, carefully ignoring the fact the majority of those physical differences are the result of poverty and lack of health care, which also afflicts a lot of White people who are also dying of more severe cases of COVID for the same reasons.

      There is also a credible report that the tests for the disease are also gender-biased.

      1. Procopius

        I have read that some (many?) doctors believe that people of color do not feel pain the way we more spiritually evolved people do. /s/ As far as I know there are not any real differences between people with differing skin colors. When I was in Air Force basic training in 1955 I had never met a Black person before. I was quite surprised when one of my fellow trainees mentioned to me that Black people get sunburned, too.

  5. LadyXoc

    Would anyone like to talk about the USPS contracting with Oshkosh (a company that I had never before heard of) to produce electric vehicles, and their experience in producing vehicles and electric vehicles, in particular?

    1. The Historian

      Oshkosh has been around a LONG time. They used to build firetrucks, maybe still do, but now I guess they are mostly building military vehicles. I don’t know about their ability to build electric vehicles but here is a site where you can read about Oshkosh and see some of their vehicles.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oshkosh_Corporation

      What link above are you referring to?

    2. Another Scott

      Oshkosh manufactures defense vehicles and fire trucks, among other things. They are currently manufacturing the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, which is the military’s replacement for the humvee, for example. Their Pierce subsidiary is one the largest fire truck manufacturers in the world and, according to their website, they have a subsidiary McNeilus that makes garbage trucks. So they have pretty significant experience making commercial vehicles.

      1. doug

        Yes, hybrids perhaps some maybe, yet another walk back.

        Electrics were promised. See Workhorse stock drop as everyone thought they were a lock to get a contract. They did not even get a few of the ten thousand’s of vehicles. Big walk back which is less and less surprising daily.
        Nothing fundamentally will change….

        1. Keith

          It doesn’t say anything about hybrids, just “equipped with either fuel-efficient internal combustion engines or battery-electric powertrains and can be retrofitted to keep pace with advances in electric vehicle technologies.” To me, that reads as a typical, modern auto engine.

          In fairness, may of the upstart green tech companies are heavy on ideas, ideals and salesmenship, but short on deliverables. Any change that comes will likely be from traditional auto makes or heavily subsidized companies (i.e. Tesla), although I am not sure on the latter. From a taxpayer standpoint, going with a tried and true seems wiser than an tech startup with a Wall Street lover affair.

        2. John

          but changing the postmaster general would be a good small change and removing that absurd requirement to fund 75 years of pensions which is sucking the post office dry. But on the other hand Private equity would love to become the owner of the post office with all that luscious real estate. Money,money, money and lousy mail delivery.

  6. zagonostra

    Biden walkback: “Dems’ Gift To Health Insurance Predators” [Daily Poster].

    The article’s concluding sentence summarizes it all and is unfortunately unsurprising.

    What I want to know is what happened to rolling back eligibility for Medicare to age 60, the silence on this has been deafening to this 59 year old who wants to retire but can’t because healthcare insurance would be too costly.

    Democrats will have the government deliver more money to the corporate health insurance industry to put more Americans on insurance plans they can’t afford to use

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > What I want to know is what happened to rolling back eligibility for Medicare to age 60

      One more for Biden Walkback (though to be fair, I haven’t seen any links on this one way or the other).

      1. marku52

        I suspected the Biden administration would disappoint, and sad to say, I haven’t been disappointed.

      2. Geo

        I fully expect him to push for a bipartisan compromise and roll back the age to 75. Means tested, of course!

        1. John

          I had a faint hope that the pandemic might have opened Biden’s eyes a smidge, but being the Senator from MBNA or whatever it was they used to call him,and representing a state that is the corporate equivalent of Panama for ship registration and being too comfortable for too long has not kept his eyes open and his mind curious. The Party and its owners got just what they wanted. Nice safe kinda-sorta center right corporate and Wall Street friendly administration without all the Trumpeting of Trump. Quiet safe, don’t rock the boat and so on and so forth.

          One thing for sure. Given the nothing will change insures that the worst case climate projections will come true with a vengeance … maybe the government will create money to bail out the insurance companies after a few $100 billion storm losses.

          Had an itch in the cynical bone.

  7. Wukchumni

    Walking along downtown Visalia on a Saturday evening, you’ll find that the awnings and barriers outside of restaurants designed for outdoor dining haven’t moved. But the customers definitely have.

    Just follow the trail of discarded masks and you’ll find at least 11 different restaurants in the area that are now serving their customers indoors.

    Tulare County is one of 52 out of 58 counties in the most restrictive Purple Tier because of its with widespread COVID-19 transmission. The state has banned all indoor dinning and closed all bars in counties in the Purple Tier.

    And according to Carrie Monterio, Public Information Officer for the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), the county has a “long way to go” before that changes.

    But that hasn’t stopped restaurants and bars from bringing business back inside, because this indoor dining revival isn’t just isolated to downtown Visalia.

    Restaurants in the Packwood Creek shopping center, like Javi’s Tacos and Good Times Cafe, have also opened their indoor dining areas to the public; Mooney Boulevard’s iconic pizza parlor, Howie & Son’s, has done the same.

    More recently, Tahoe Joe’s has abandoned their large outdoor patio and moved business back inside.

    https://www.ourvalleyvoice.com/2021/02/19/area-restaurants-reopening-indoors-county-and-cities-leaving-enforcement-to-state/
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    It’s a weird revolt, but I get it. Either you break the law or go out of business because of no business. Our sheriff could care less about abiding by the rules laid down by the state, so as one restaurant opens to dining on the inside, it only impels other eateries to do the same.

    Wish I could sit down for a nice meal in a restaurant, but I don’t want to break my own rule of not putting myself in harms way.

    1. JBird4049

      So it will be a third or fourth wave this spring? It’s kinda silly, and yet it is not, as even this loner has gone a bit crazy with the Quarantine That Will Not Fricking Die; taking my classes using Zoom is really annoying and makes learning more difficult and anyone saying otherwise is just fooling themselves. However, I really don’t want to get sick and possibly die, but not enough people have either have had vaccine or gotten sick and recovered from it. Add the new varieties of COVID19 and it’s a very possible I might be going to college by Zoom for a while.

      Fudge.

      Of course, denying or delaying the patents to the current vaccines to poor nations just ensures that more strains that are possibly some combination of more deadly, infectious, and vaccine resistant is likely. And that would add to the profits of the medical-industrial-congressional complex. With the Pravdaziation of the media-industrial-congressional complex getting good information is increasing difficult. I really don’t want to get a visit from my old friend, Paranoia, but without good information it is hard to keep him out of the apartment.

  8. Alex

    Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I’m getting a strong “boy who cried variant” vibe.
    I’m sure others are, too. The powers that be are going to have to come up with new ghost stories to keep us fretting.
    Maybe pivot back to something about the Reichstag Fire Extinguisher.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The point is to keep selling new multi-billion-dollar re-re-re-iterations of the mRNA neo-vaccinoids, year after year after decade after decade after decade.

      But I don’t believe that the variants are a made-up wolf to cry wolf about. I believe the disease is being fostered and prolonged on purpose in order to make it too entrenched and endemic to exterminate and to guarantee a decades long rollout of highly profitable new variants for decades to come.

      1. a different chris

        I can’t bring myself to care (about the first part, not touching the raving in the second part.)

        For once, our Medical Industrial Complex is actually doing something real on preventative medicine. For once our family-blogged incentives (moneymoneymoney) might actually line up with actual humane incentives.

        So I’m just going to accept it as a win, if it actually pans out that way. Time will tell.

      2. Elizabeth Burton

        Saw an article in a science newsletter just this morning advising it’s likely we’ll be required to get an annual booster of the COVID vaccine. Quelle surprise 🙄

      3. Jason

        Much more than just vaccine mega profits. Constant fear, anxiety, continued isolation measures which prevent dissent gatherings as peoples’ lives and environmental health get worse and worse and worse.

        Then there is the Pentagon report released the year prior to the outbreak of covid, detailing how China was surpassing the US in so many technological areas and the only way to catch up would be to implement measures in the US that China uses, i.e. much less person-to-person dealings, including even such things as going to the doctor. The Pentagon report then remarked that Americans wouldn’t agree to having these new ways of life thrust upon them absent some catastrophic event. Then came covid. This was eerily similar to the PNAC paper of the 90’s that said only something on the scale of a new Pearl Harbor would get the majority of Americans to agree to the measures they wanted to implement. Then came 9/11.

    2. Pelham

      Oh I love that: Reichstag Fire Extinguisher.

      Only relatedly, I saw Naomi Wolf on Tucker Carlson last night protesting the extended lockdowns. It’s not something I would’ve expected from her, but she perhaps correctly noted the prohibition of gatherings violates constitutionally protected rights.

      She may not have implied but I certainly inferred that the lockdowns must serve some Deep State or blob-friendly purpose. I can’t imagine what it would be, but there may be hints. Obviously the pharmaceutical companies are benefiting. But if the purpose were to introduce yet stricter universal surveillance we would’ve seen some organized move in that direction by now, wouldn’t we?

      Any thoughts along these lines would be welcome. Also, why are all those troops still in Washington?

      1. ambrit

        If it is done right, we will not see stricter surveillance methods as they are rolled out.
        This so called “Deep State” has shown through deed that it is comfortable with ignoring or contravening laws that impede the achievement of it’s goals.
        There must be some serious power plays being attempted “inside the beltway” right now.
        The troops’ continued presence in Washington might be a message from the formal military concerning it’s intentions. “Hands off! We still support the Constitution, and we’re ready to prove it. Just try something! We dare you.”
        We live in Interesting Times. {The zeitgeist has risen to the status of the ‘capitalized initial letters’ stage.}

        1. JTMcPhee

          Military presence to “protect the Constitution?” It is to laugh.

          More likely, to protect the status quo, which pumps the “full faith and credit” wealth to the self-licking ice cream cone of war to control access to petroleum to fuel moar war and the financial circle-jerk that also rides the petrocycle and newer offshoots…

          The US military hierarchy suborns Congress and the executive on a daily basis. Congress and the executive being willing partners in the subornation. And in the stricter sense, the military and its MIC parts lie to Congress and the rest of us day after day, overtly and covertly.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        ….but there may be hints.

        How about 3 trillion of ’em to prop up a teetering financial system “based” on the quicksand of massive, unpayable debt with 1.9 trillion more to follow, very few of which went or are going to those doing the actual suffering, and 78 bilion of which found their way into the pocket of a single person named bezos.

        Oh, and getting a terminally corrupt dementia sufferer that absolutely nobody wanted or respected into the oval office to “save the country” by delegating his presidenting to more situationally aware harvard PMCers was pretty convenient too.

  9. petal

    When was the last time Obama or Springsteen actually stepped foot in a post office? Haven’t they had servants for that for decades?
    Going to my local PO is a pleasure as I get to interact with normal, decent people(the clerks).

    1. Arizona Slim

      Agreed. I need to mail something this week. A bit late to head out to the P.O. today, but I’ll do it tomorrow morning and enjoy the experience.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Going to my local PO is a pleasure

      I always enjoy the Post Office, partly the 30s- and 40s-style ones with marble floors and high ceilings, no doubt marked down for condo development.

      1. fwe'thee'chinxy

        At my local,, we have beautiful New Deal murals depicting early California. A pleasure to visit.

      2. ambrit

        We have a 1934 built Art Deco style downtown post office. It has all the original ‘wrought aluminum’ accoutrements. Marble floors, Georgia marble I believe. Big hanging chandeliers in the main lobby.
        It’s a joy to see. Shabby but genuine; just like the rest of us here Down South.

      1. Wukchumni

        I always ask for ones of famous Black-Americans or famous Hispanic-Americans that i’ve never heard of, it seems to be a specialty of the USPS.

      2. DJG, Reality Czar

        Judith: The USPS now seems to go out of its way for extra-grooviness in stamp design. Even the current, rather utilitarian fruits-and-vegetables sheet is lovely.

        The only one that I have had doubts about was the scratch and sniff popsicle stamps. Who the heck came up with that idea?

        And, to agree with all of you: The buildings are grand. The staff is kind. Now that our movements are restricted, one orders on line–I have four sheets of first-call stamps on the way as I type this note.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Springsteen is supposed to be an intelligent perceptive sincere person. If so, it shows the power of Obama’s reality distortion field that the Obama con works on Springsteen as on so many others.

      It sure would be nice if any co-readers who have thousands of hours of leisure time were to decide to find
      and re-post to one place the several examples of Obama meta-con meta-dishonesty and self-revealed pride in his own Art of the Con into one place where they could be easily found.

      Things like his sly cynical bragging to journalists about his cool artful lying and his daring them to do anything about it. And his non-drinking of the glass of water in Flint. And so forth.

      I myself don’t have thousands of hours of leisure time to hunt through the endless millions of words here at NaCap to find these things randomly scattered as they are through all the endless millions of words.

      1. km

        “Springsteen is supposed to be an intelligent perceptive sincere person.”

        I suspect that, the longer a person has been a celebrity, the more they identify with the Establishment.

        Look at how the Stones went from being a moral panic to members of the landed gentry and cavorting with various B-list royalty, all in just a few short years.

        1. Synoia

          Mick Jagger was studying Economics at LSE. That’s impressive.

          Some of the staunchest UK Conservative supporters come from working Class Backgrounds.

          1. QuicksliverMessenger

            I always think of what Lemmy from Motorhead said about the Stones and the Beatles (from his ‘memoir’ :

            “[T]he Beatles were hard men,” he wrote in his 2004 memoir White Line Fever. “[Manager] Brian Epstein cleaned them up for mass consumption, but they were anything but sissies. They were from Liverpool, which is like Hamburg or Norfolk, Virginia – a hard, sea-farin’ town, all these dockers and sailors around all the time who would beat the piss out of you if you so much as winked at them. Ringo’s from the Dingle, which is like the fucking Bronx.”

            He continued: “The Rolling Stones were the mummy’s boys – they were all college students from the outskirts of London. They went to starve in London, but it was by choice, to give themselves some sort of aura of disrespectability. I did like the Stones, but they were never anywhere near the Beatles – not for humor, not for originality, not for songs, not for presentation. All they had was Mick Jagger dancing about. Fair enough, the Stones made great records, but they were always shit on stage, whereas the Beatles were the gear.”

    4. zagonostra

      >Conjugate cultural capitalism and fallen icons

      How’s that for a title? Seems like all the musicians I looked up to growing up like Springsteen have gone over to the dark side. Recently Neil Young joined Steve Nicks and Dylan in an ever growing number of artist cashing out on their music catalogue. I get dinged by musician friends scolding me that it’s their creative product and they can sell them for commercial jingles if they want and my nostalgia counts for nothing.

      I suppose if Springsteen wants to hangout with Obama and Obama wants to hang-glide with Branson, it’s their choice. All I know is that their value in my eyes is diminished and there are many other artist that I can now turn to for inspiration (like Rita Payes).

      https://www.ibtimes.com/dylan-young-fleetwood-music-publishing-sector-booming-high-profile-sales-3123888

      https://youtu.be/AySBPCkGyyY

      1. Wukchumni

        I don’t get the umbrage over musicians selling the fruits of their labor for an awful lot of money, in a marketplace that values recorded music at nothing.

        Seems like a no-brainer to me…

        1. JBird4049

          It is, but hearing some great music being used to sell toilet paper or toothpaste is a bit… disconcerting.

          1. The Rev Kev

            That is why the family of Johnny Cash has refused to sell licensing of his song “Ring of Fire” to a hemorrhoid cream company. True fact that.

        1. Procopius

          Good grief! I was listening to his records when I was in high school. Then I’d read Mad Comics (before Mad Magazine — a national treasure). It’s horrifying that the people in charge of things have become so obsessed with getting just one more dollar that they have forgotten why we had to laugh at what we faced. America has become a country of such fearful people that we can’t even discuss what happens when you push a weak but proud country like Russia into a corner from which there is no escape — except by using The Bomb.

    5. Pelham

      Also agreed. I enjoy these trips now and enjoyed them even more when, as a boy, I occasionally went with my dad to the architecturally awesome post office in our hometown. The place had a lovely fragrance and dignity with lots of marble and brass. It was one of the few things that made me feel everything was sound and fundamentally right and just with the world.

    6. The Rev Kev

      OBAMA: Make no mistake. The Post Office is an essential service. But going there can be a drag.
      SPRINGSTEEN: Yes, sir. When you’ve been workin’ all day, the last thing you need is to go buy stamps.

      I know, I know. Make all standard envelopes free for postage. That would be a public good. But how will that be paid for you ask? Why charging Amazon full freight with their postage and reduce the Post Office from having to set aside money for their pensions until the third millennium.

      Obama is just in for the grift but I suspect that The Boss wants to buff his image after going to court for drunk driving where he got the serious charges dismissed – probably for an autograph.

    7. Geo

      “I get to interact with normal, decent people”

      That’s where your disconnect is. Interacting with normies is very frowned upon by our overlords. And decency is a foreign concept that confuses them.

  10. Martin Oline

    The Larry is dead. Long live Larry. I remember buying my first Jim Thompson pulp novel at his shop, “A Hell of a Woman.”

  11. Duck1

    I get the impression that rather than expecting the FAA to be on the ball regarding airliner safety we should be getting a credit report on the liner prior to boarding.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > we should be getting a credit report on the liner prior to boarding.

      Yes, I was thinking Expedia should be adding a little icon to its flight and schedule tables. Perhaps a little money bag, completely full, almost empty, etc.

  12. Kije

    I lost two of my favorites yesterday, Bruce how could you? And Louise Penny how could you line up with Hillary.

    1. Another Thought

      Yes, Louise Penny’s writing is so perceptive on human nature. I just can’t comprehend the idea of a friendship between the two of them.

    2. Michael

      Ughh!!

      I have read every one of LP’s books and am amazed at the journey through the human condition she tells. Gamache for President!

      This is soiling the sheets for no good reason, friends or not. I have wondered what might happen to her writing following the death of her husband. I think she just “carried on”.

      Until today.

      Some authors die and leave you with a void to fill with another author. Elliot Pattison was one for me.

      Ughh!!

  13. Alternate Delegate

    Looking around a bit, it seems that “virion” is the widespread technical term for the infectious particle, perhaps going back before 1983, to 1959 or so.

    However, the assertion that the common term “virus” for the infectious particle is therefore incorrect seems a bridge too far. This seems to be derived from the less widespread view that, because the virus hijacks cellular machinery, and even builds its own factories within the host cell, this somehow means “the host cell is the virus”.

    I think we can see a wide enough range of parasitic relationships around us to know better than that.

    So I claim I am on solid ground when I use the common term “virus” for what is technically a “virion”. Both are valid. I think this is important because it amounts to an assertion of the validity and autonomy of common speech in the mouth of the common speaker.

  14. Mikel

    RE: Air Travel Quarantine

    “Would it really be so bad to take a ship to Europe again?”

    I don’t know how that’s much better during a pandemic or to avoid pandemic policies after what happened on cruise lines.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think cruise ships and ocean liners are different beasts. The SS United States crossed the Atlantic in 3 days, 10 hours. With an Internet connection via satellite, that’s more than doable, quite pleasant, and certainly, in the days of Covid, safer than air travel (plus the unpleasantness of airports, which add an ugly half-day on either end of the flight, too).

  15. jhallc

    Re: JakeTapper tweet about Sanders not being informed about Tanden nomination

    Tapper’s tweet it’s full of Bernie critics with responses such as.
    -Why would he be informed, he lost…
    -He’s not even a Democrat….
    -Anyone who opposes Tanden is a misogynist.

    Biden won and the hatred is still strong with these folks. OMG

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      jhallc: My favorite is this riposte: “It’s shocking he would nominate a highly qualified women because of mean tweets?”

      So many of the responses are splatter from the national id, as it spews. Biden doesn’t have to consult Bernie Sanders. Elections have consequences (tell that to The Resistance). The president can do whatever he wants.

      These are the same people who wanted Trump’s Twitter account shut down.

      The imperative in U.S. culture to abase oneself before power is ever-present, I guess. The responses are liberal-craven, with a dollop of endless resentments.

      1. jhallc

        I have no idea if Sander’s really cares if his “Good Friend Joe” gave him a heads up on Neera. It’s pretty clear what the message to him was with her nomination in the first place. Anyway looks like it may end well thanks to another “Joe” and somehow Sander’s will still be blamed :(

    2. Darthbobber

      And that’s all in spite of Sanders doing nothing to oppose her. “Highly qualified” for OMB, my somethingorother.

      I love the part about expecting no problems due to the “historic” nature of nominating a Desi rather than some other ethnicity of grifter. Of course by the Solomon and the baby rule, the Desi already have one-half of a Vice President. Are they so numerous as to justify a cabinet pick on top of that? Inquiring idpol statisticians want to know. Maybe she can be ambassador to the Venezuelan “government” in exile.

  16. jr

    “OBAMA: Make no mistake. The Post Office is an essential service. But going there can be a drag.
    SPRINGSTEEN: Yes, sir. When you’ve been workin’ all day, the last thing you need is to go buy stamps.”

    This is so typically American PMC. Public services suck, the Boss’s folksy notion of “workin’ all day” sucks, buying stamps is apparently an emotionally draining experience and one I’m sure he wrestles with personally, but absolutely no notion of fixing any of it. It’s just genetically coded in the USPS that it sucks, it’s a hassle. No musings as to why it didn’t always suck, how the good people who work their do their best with not enough, why other nations have working postal services. This is pure propaganda. These two are a public threat. And if I ever hear Laurence Tribe use the word “dig” in real life I will slap the spit out of his mouth.

    1. Harold

      Did they really say that?

      You can buy stamps over the internet, don’t they know? They mail them to you. Not sure but you can probably get printout copies, too. USPS has a nice online store. Don’t these people check their facts? Or do they think their high incomes confer omniscience?

      1. Carla

        “Or do they think their high incomes confer omniscience?”

        No, they know it. This country has been teaching them that all their lives.

      2. jr

        It’s the 6th tweet down I think, linked above, although I sure as hell will never listen to this show to confirm it with my own ears. But yeah, the internet, and you can buy one of those stamping machines too.

    2. km

      Please tell me that they didn’t really say that.

      The idea that Springsteen has been “workin’ all day” is hilarious, and the idea that anyone would actually think that Springsteen had been doing so is even funnier.

      1. ForFawkesSakes

        They didn’t. The poster, James Urbaniak, is a comedian and satirist. This is very much on point with his usual sarcastic style.

        He’s also the voice of Rusty Venture on the recently cancelled Venture Bros, a brilliant work place comedy set in the world of Super Scientists and Supervillains. That show is a delight and started way before our current obsession with comic heroes.

  17. jr

    Field Report: Manhattan, Lower East Side

    50 anti-NYPD protestors marching, as reported by Citizen app. Chanting and an unspecific report of an “incident”.

    1. jr

      Action Update:

      Apparently they were recently pounding on the doors of the “Trump Building” near Wall St.

    1. JTMcPhee

      So the warlord process begins? Recalls to mind also Guru Baghwhan Shree Rajneesh’s “followers” who did such wonderful things in Oregon back in the Free Love ‘80s: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5515827/How-80s-cult-poisoned-Oregon-town.html

      Will the yeomen of Vermont take up arms against the carpetbagger and would-be warlord in their midst? Or are they all on the same team? Gun culture is immanent in Vermont, all right: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAWD1APFltM

      1. Tom Stone

        Vermont has been a “Constitutional carry” State for a very long time.
        If you can legally possess a firearm you can legally carry it concealed.
        No training or license required.

        1. JTMcPhee

          If his retainers show up armed and “suggest” how the sturdy yeoman should vote, or scare away any but pro-Banyai electors? That’s in part how it’s worked in the past, including as I recall that sad jurisdiction in Oregon where the Rajneeshis “took over.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1984_Rajneeshee_bioterror_attack One wonders how the citizen gun culture would react to such tactics…

          Larger scale version with slightly different tactics worked for Mayor Richard Daley in Chicago. I was a poll watcher in 1976 as an assistant attorney general, was supposed to investigate and report abuses and call in the cops to rectify them.

          Was sent to both Cabrini and Robert Taylor Homes on election day, those awful vertical slums where Daley had cooped up a whole lot of Blacks to get them out of “ethnic” neighborhoods. Voting was done in both cases in a concrete room with one door, which was “guarded” by thugs “from the community who made sure each citizen knew how to vote the straight Dem ticket.

          Cops would not even come on the “estates,” let alone straighten up the malefactors.

  18. occasional anonymous

    Huge increases in bisexual identification in younger cohorts.

    I’m convinced a huge amount of this is simply a fad, and will burn itself out with time.

    This aspect of it is basically harmless though. What really worries me is the increase in people identifying as trans, and then getting hormone therapy or even surgeries to make permanent changes to their bodies. Young people, and it mostly is young people doing this, don’t know what the hell they are. And by ‘young’ I mean anyone under the age of about 25, when the brain finishes fully forming.

    At some point, and I’m not sure exactly when it happened, the woke shifted from “gender is a social construct”, which I agree with, to “gender roles are inextricably linked with your sex. If you present as the other gender, you must change your sex to match”. Now it’s woke for people to act straight out of about 1954. You can no longer, for instance, just be a tomboy. No, you’re actually really a man in the wrong body and need to get your breasts cut off.

    There’s going to be so much psychological wreckage from this by the time it all fully shakes out.

    1. jr

      Thank you for this comment, I have had similar intuitions. Experimenting with one’s sexuality is natural for the youthful who are looking to find themselves and to throw off some of their parent’s norms. Older than dirt. That’s perfectly fine.

      I think IDpol, which exhibits cult-like attributes, latches on to the energy of the young, perverting it for it’s own ends. It attaches a moral element to one’s sexuality; all the kids have to do is question or express their sexuality and IDpol is there to hand them instant victimhood status. A mantle of righteousness. What should be, in my opinion, a time of truly forming one’s identity is in fact hijacked by IDpol to funnel people into it’s ranks.

      It also offers something American’s crave dearly and lack: authenticity. Suddenly you are a part of something bigger than yourself, there is a war on and you are a soldier. War gives meaning to people, it’s real. The ennui of modern life is washed away with the taste of conflict. The world of binging Netflix and hours spent on TikTok or Playstation or whatever pales next to the march of feet and chanting.

      IDpol is inherently divisive, it’s warps the normal development of young people, it masks real issues with thought-stopping rhetoric that clicks nicely into the mind of the unreflective. It’s grasp and reach is also a symptom, a symptom of a society whose critical reasoning skills have degenerated.

    2. john

      With all the endocrine disruptors we have allowed to be spewed into the environment, we have been conducting a huge hormone experiment on humans…nobody ever wants to talk about that.

    3. Steve

      My apologies if this comment appears twice – it seemed to disappear when I clicked “Post Comment” the first time.

      Does anyone find it odd that the cited Gallup poll treats transgender as an orientation? As a late-boomer card-carrying gay, I’m a bit nonplussed at this. Especially given that, in practice, transition as currently promoted often seems to amount to conversion therapy for young “feminine” gays and “masculine” lesbians.

    4. Yves Smith

      There is something seriously wrong with the Pew survey, either the phrasing of the question, the sample, or both. From Kinsey in 1946:

      [A] CONSIDERABLE PORTION OF THE population, perhaps the major portion of the male population, has at least some homosexual experience between adolescence and old age. In addition, about 60 per cent of the pre-adolescent boys engage in homosexual activities, and there is an additional group of adult males who avoid overt contacts but who are quite aware of their potentialities for reacting to other males.

      The social significance of the homosexual is considerably emphasized by the fact that both Jewish and Christian churches have considered this aspect of human sexuality to be abnormal and immoral. Social custom and our AngloAmerican law are sometimes very severe in penalizing one who is discovered to have had homosexual relations. .

      IMHO, any survey that has <4% of men identifying as either homosexual or bi is bogus. Respondent does not trust survey anonymity.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447861/

    5. JTMcPhee

      One advantage to bisexuality: it doubles your chances of getting a date. I forget which comic made that observation — oh yeah, Woody Allen.

  19. bob

    Cuomo lives!

    “You get a dance zone: The state wants clearly marked areas assigned to each dance group that are spaced at least 6 feet apart from other dance zones.”

    “For ceremonial dances, like a couple’s first dance at a wedding, select attendees can participate, as long as they are designated to event venues in advance. Those dances are also limited to members of the same party, household or family and dancers must stay 6 feet apart from other attendees during the dance.”

    “Our Lord Protector, Andrew Cuomo, reserves the right of Prima Nocta. She will still have to wear a mask. And not look at him.”

    https://www.syracuse.com/coronavirus/2021/02/ny-sets-rules-for-dancing-at-events-get-down-in-your-own-dance-zone-only.html

    This man is out of control. Completely. Even the press class, forever impressed with his kennedy children, are turning on him. Still, SNL, in keeping with the times from 30 years ago, are doing their best to issue him absolution.

  20. DJG, Reality Czar

    The sandhill crane. Admittedly, unlike the catbirds, who can carry a tune, whatever melody comes into their heads, sandhill cranes sound as if they don’t have much range.

    Yet between the end of November and the end of December, large flocks pass over Chicago, using the edge of Lake Michigan as a guide. Even in my apartment, I quickly note that primeval call. The birds are timeless. They have their own way.

    I recall looking up from my work, after hearing them calling, and seeing a flock of about sixty turning in a large circle over my neighborhood. Once, then again, then they rearranged themselves and resumed their flight in V-formation southeastward.

    I don’t now what the circling was about. It certainly was impressive, given that they are large birds, with big wingspans, who come in fairly low when they cross over Chicago.

    Hearing them (and then seeing them, because the sound seems to arrive first) makes one think of one’s smallness in the web of spacetime.

    1. juliania

      Sandhills catch thermal updrafts – they don’t circle, they spiral. Gives them height to get over mountains out here in NM — don’t know if you have them in Illinois,(maybe northward) but also they don’t have to flap their wings and if the thermal moves in the direction they want to go, win-win.

  21. Zephyrum

    Undermining NATO? You mean like this NATO?

    I am in favour of using nuclear weapons.
    I strongly believe it is unethical to pour trillions of dollars into weapons you do not use.

    — Thierry Etienne Joseph Rotty, Senior Controller at NATO

    1. The Rev Kev

      By golly he’s right you know. In fact, they should not buy any more nuclear weapons until they use up the old ones first!

      But banning accounts because they criticize NATO. What are they now? Israel or something?

  22. urblintz

    Re: surprise income taxes…

    Those receiving pandemic UI benefits might get a double whammy at tax time. If they had a substantial ACA subsidy based on an income well below what they actually received they’ll have to pay the difference. If, say, someone has a policy that costs $70/mo but with the added income the policy would have cost $400/mo they’ll owe $4000 on top of any extra income taxes…

    https://www.teepublic.com/t-shirt/472463-mossack-fonseca-because-taxes-are-for-poor-people

  23. Milton

    The unmasked Newsom was celebrating the birthday of a lobbyist for Poseidon Water, which is close to obtaining final government approval for one of the country’s biggest seawater desalination plants.

    Forget it Lambert, it’s CALPERS.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        Looks like someone is willing to throw the esteemed governor under the bus. That’s a pretty damning story coming out just as he’s fighting the anti-recall effort. I wonder who is behind it.

  24. Code Name D

    Job opportunities & observation.
    https://viavi.taleo.net/careersection/ex/jobsearch.ftl?lang=en

    With the COVID recession, we are inundated with stories of mass lay-offs and unemployment. But as the story usually is, things are more complicated than may appear on the surface.

    My shop has recently lost three electronic technicians due to other job offers. And with new products coming on-line, we find ourselves short-handed. So, a job posting was made in Feb 8 for an Electronic Technician here in Wichita Kansas. But as yet, there have been zero inquiries for the position. Let me repeat that. Despite high unemployment numbers, there have been zero inquiries made for the job. The other post appears to be the same, receiving few if any inquiries.

    Why is a mater of some speculation. My boss’s theory is that the “stimulus check” argument made by Fox News. Workers are being paid to stay home. I don’t think that explanation works. But something isn’t quite right here. And I thought it might be worth sharing for other watchers in the room.

    Second, if you are looking for work, here are some leads you might follow up on.

    1. Rock Hard

      Just glancing at the list you posted, every one of these requires some kind of background experience. For instance, I have a 4 year degree in CS, but I wouldn’t qualify for the Electronics Technician position. I’d bet that most of the unemployment is coming from retail and hospitality positions being cut. The chances of an unemployed bartender being qualified for that position? Not likely.

      Maybe those bartenders and waiters should “learn to code”. I have as much work as I can handle and get hit up by recruiters daily. I don’t even bother responding. To them maybe it looks like I’m sitting on my couch enjoying my stimulus check, but actually I’m making more money than I ever have in my life. It’s good to have skills that are in demand. Random people email you all the time begging you to interview at their company, and there’s no chance I’m jumping without significantly bettering my situation. Plus interviews are a pain in the neck and companies are so cagey about compensation. Not worth my time to go through hours of interviews only to find out the comp is garbage.

      Does your boss understand that with skilled labor, it’s more of a supply issue than a demand issue?

    2. rowlf

      I have a Associate’s Degree in Electronic Technology. Is the starting pay more than working on lawn mowers or motorcycles?

      1. Code Name D

        I honestly do not know. All of the employment is handled through the corporate office these days. When I had to recently “re-apply” for my job, I had to “request” a wage as a part of the on-line interview process. (I left that part blank.)

        This “wage bid” seems to be a relatively new trend with medium to high skilled employment designed to exploit your desperation. If you have applicates that are equal in skill level, then the one with the lowest wage bid will get the job. But as I said before, my boss has seen ZERO inquiries for the position. So you are not competing with thousands of other applicants here.

        But I can give you some good news. The jobs here in customer service are very stable. I have been here for 15 years now and feel quite secure. And as long as I have been here, there has never been lay-offs in customer service… at least on the technician’s side. In my opinion, job stability is worth quite a lot.

    3. Glen

      My company is always looking for people with this type of experience but has a hard time hiring them. Basic reason – they don’t offer enough high enough pay.

  25. Jeremy Grimm

    Hillary Clinton co-writing with Louise Penny — will Chief Inspector Gamache work helping the novice Secretary of State solve the wave of terrorist attacks?

    1. The Rev Kev

      I would be better if that novice Secretary of State had Inspector Clouseau helping her out. At least it would be entertaining – but it wouldn’t be the Pink Panther. More like the Pink Pussyhat.

    2. DJG, Reality Czar

      Jeremy Grimm: I don’t read mysteries, so I’m not going to lament the fate of Penny, who says this in the article: > Penny, an award-winning author from Canada whose novels include “The Cruelest Month” and “The Brutal Telling,” said in a statement that she could not “say yes fast enough” to the chance of working with Clinton.

      “Could not say fast enough” translates as “I don’t care much about my own work once inking a multimillion-dollar contract is mentioned.”

      My question is this: Who will they call in as the intimacy ghostwriter when intrepid Secretary of State Mildred “Hot Sauce” Rodham has to seduce and engage in pillow talk with Federation Prezidentsky Vlad Pektoralsky?

      The mind boggles.

    3. Michael

      Ughh!! again dontcha know! See above.

      Novices don’t solve, they wait their turn then eff it up big time.

  26. Synoia

    Hillary Clinton Co-Writing Mystery Novel With Louise Penny”

    Appropriate. She is an expert on fiction.

  27. kareninca

    There are almost no houses on the market in my hometown area in small town New England, and it’s not just due to the weather. Well, there are some recently built giant ultra costly monsters, but not much that a regular person could or would buy. This is odd, since the population is aging, and many of those aging people would ordinarily want to sell their house and move to Florida or into an assisted living unit (presently known as a “covid sharing space”). But not now; almost every old person I know who has a modest house to live in is hunkering down in it and will probably hold onto it until his/her dying breath.

    I do have a relative who is an exception. She is finally unloading a house in a college town; she bought it in 2008 at the peak of the market and put a second mortgage on it. She’s now widowed in her 50s and she is unimaginably relieved to be able to sell and cover her mortgages and costs. It took a pandemic to undo that financial disaster.

    The upshot of all this is that people starting out, and people who want to switch to a smaller house, have nothing to buy.

    1. ambrit

      Around here, many of the “neglected” mid and lower tier housing units are being razed rather than renovated.
      Gentrification is a self defeating strategy. Eventually, we run out of “gents” to ‘maintain’ standards.

      1. kareninca

        I’ve read that building materials like lumber have gone up tremendously in price. It might be really very expensive to renovate because of that. Which is a bad thing, of course.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > almost every old person I know who has a modest house to live in is hunkering down in it and will probably hold onto it until his/her dying breath.

      Entirely rational. At some point housing stock issue arise, as the home-owners make their choices between maintenance and health care.

  28. The Rev Kev

    “Air Travel Quarantines Are Getting Longer and Lonelier”

    A word about ‘Authorities in Melbourne are sketching out plans for custom-built isolation facilities outside the city.’ There is a reason for that. Whenever we have had the virus get loose from a quarantine hotel, it is straight into the city, especially when you have guards working two or three other jobs and traveling to home and shops. States like Victoria (where Melbourne is) and Queensland have been demanding that quarantine be done in isolated areas so that any outbreak is severely limited but Scotty from Marketing is insisting that it has to be done at those top of the line hotels in the middle of cities.

    But it would be cheaper doing isolated quarantine than paying the costs of having to shut down cities again and again. So some States are saying ‘Bugger it’ and are going ahead to make their own isolated quarantine facilities. The worse of it is that some in the media are saying that he “saved” the country from the Pandemic when in reality the country was saved in spite of what he has been doing to undercut efforts to suppress it.

    We have just started vaccinations here in Oz and the government says that they want to open up the country to international travelers and tourists in October – assuming of course everybody has had a shot so that the locals would be safe from, you know, dying. We’ll see how that works out as by then there will probably be a different strain of Coronavirus become the dominant strain and we have a better idea of just how long these vaccines are good for.

  29. Michael Ismoe

    ”obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting” and “assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon”—carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail.”

    Then can someone ask Speaker DeVille why do we need another 9/11-level set of anti-terror laws? All we need to do is enforce the ones that exist.

  30. chuck roast

    Peter Stager…facing 40 years in the can for high political crimes.
    I am sure that punishing this guy and his “ilk” are at the top of the agenda of all Americans. My recommendation would be that the Dems establish special internment for these miscreants. They must be isolated. So there will be no mistake they should be called konzentrationslager. Everybody will get the message.

    1. JBird4049

      One can argue that we already have those work camps ; the United States has the largest prison population on the planet, working for a few dollars a day. Prisons full of the undesirables who are poorly fed, often with little medical care, and under the control of often brutal and sadistic guards; really, the conditions in the Germany prewar prison camps were only worse by degree and not in kind.

      IIRC later in the war they did add the deliberate death by overwork and malnutrition and inadequate calories.

  31. maxi

    for some reason i consider the NTSB a consummate professional organization; they seem well regarded, responsive, timely, competent, non-partisan. is this just a bias of mine? if not, is there anything particularly unique about their organization, history, or anything else that makes them “successful”?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the NTSB a consummate professional organization

      I have the same feeling, but don’t know where I got it from. Surely we have an NTSB maven in the commentariat?

    1. JBird4049

      I just clicked that link. I don’t know what the KHive is (acolytes of Seung Min Kim?). As some people have said, if Neerda Tandan does not get approved, it is because whites hate people of color.

      Okay, it’s still supposedly a free country with the Bill of Rights supposedly still in effect. Maaaybeee she’s just a bad candidate or an unpopular person? At least 40% of the American people are not people of color. This means -120 million people or only 60 million if a woman is wanted. Surely a more qualified and respected woman of color can be found among the something like 35 million Democratic women of color? Just asking.

      It is also nice to know that Kim is Washington Post reporter.

  32. flora

    Here’s an interesting article in Tablet from August 2020:

    How the Media Led the Great Racial Awakening

    https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/media-great-racial-awakening

    The most interesting thing to me is the timing of the great jump in NYT and WaPo stories starting around 2011-2012. What was happening then? Well, Occupy Wall Street protests and the idea of the 99% economically losing to the 1% was happening and taking hold in the public’s mind. The most influential US newspapers, instead of focusing on the economic plight of huge numbers of Americans after the Great Financial Crisis of 2008-2009 , suddenly chose instead to focus on ‘white supers’ and ‘r*cism’ as the US’s greatest problem. Probably a coincidence the newspapers overlooked the economic stories around the time of Occupy Wall Street protests. It’s not like they were trying to change the subject away from badly skewed economics and economic politices or anything. ;)

    1. flora

      If the named ‘privileged elite’, (‘check your priviledge’), can be any working class white person, maybe even someone evicted and jobless, instead of the Wall St or Silicon Valley multimillionaires or billionaires who are doing the foreclosing and factory offshoring and gigwork creation, then the neoliberals can sleep soundly knowing they and their economic policies and their political influence are safe. ;)

      1. JBird4049

        Racism is a horrible four hundred year old disease of America that needs to die. All things being equal whites do have privilege, but as you imply, it is hardly fair to label someone homeless or hungry as somehow privileged. Privilege is not money that can pay the bills.

        What worries me, really what terrifies me, is a backlash against any efforts to deal with racism; the Awoken’s Identity Politics will have made dealing with true racism impossible because it will be crying wolf yet again. If the immoral imposition of racial blood guilt, along with the linking of that to the continuing denial of the growing poverty in this American nation of ours, lasts long enough we might see a second national racial apartheid albeit de facto and not de jure. It would not be a logical or reasonable response, but people don’t always act that way to a perceived injustice.

        We might have to wait another century for another Civil Rights Movement and another Freedom Summer. Worse, this could create a truly fascist American state. And not the kind that the neoliberal establishment is creating. We might get the equity instead of the equality of the kind found in empires like the Ottomans, but the amount of equity does not always correspond to the individual population percentages. Then there will certainly be a reinforced police state at all levels of government. Southern states like Georgia had their own state police intelligence agencies or bureaus to keep the political economy as is.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > What worries me, really what terrifies me, is a backlash against any efforts to deal with racism; the Awoken’s Identity Politics will have made dealing with true racism impossible

          Well, how do you keep billing for solving the problem if you actually solve it? Think!

          1. skippy

            But Beardo said we should import those without … so the creators of wealth should administrate with out having to suffer a loss of savings ….

          2. JBird4049

            I get that IdPol = Money.

            It is just will be like the third, fourth, or fifth time or more times in American history that a group decided to poison the well or burn down the country for profitable exploitation.

        2. fjallstrom

          All things being equal whites do have privilege, but as you imply, it is hardly fair to label someone homeless or hungry as somehow privileged. Privilege is not money that can pay the bills.

          If I remember correctly, the term “white privilege” orignated from a study on factory wages in the post-war southern US compared to similar work in the northern US. The study concluded that white workers got payed more then black in the south, but both got payed less then the northern worker, and the thing southern white workers got instead of payment was privilege. So it is what you get instead of money to pay the bills.

          Of course, such a statement of the problem points the edge at capital and situates the need for change not among the poor or of modest means bearers of privilege but in the labour relationship and ultimately the ownership of capital.

        3. Elizabeth Burton

          It was clear to me even before all the votes were counted in November that the Democrats were going to weaponize “racism” as a way of avoiding keeping all those “we’re here for the people” promises they made to hoodwink the proles. “After all, how can we address X while people of color are suffering from White supremacy.”

          Meantime, as the original tale of 6 January begins to unravel, and the “insurrection” is revealed to be, in fact, just a bunch of yahoos rioting while the leader of the Proud Boys is extracted by his FBI handlers after helping with the planning, nobody is asking the hard question: What if, like appears to be the case with 9/11, a decision was made to allow that riot to go ahead to set the stage for those “domestic terrorism” laws the Democrats are drooling to initiate?

          It’s not as though they’re any more eager to face organized protestors than their GOP colleagues, but being as concerned with optics as they are they couldn’t just do what the states making environmental protest illegal are.

          You know the problem with conspiracy theories these days? They all too often turn out to be true.

      1. Basil Pesto

        Yes, a very interesting observation and I can hardly believe it hasn’t really occurred before. It’s worth delving in to and while the GFC/Occupy correlation is a prima facie compelling explanation, it’s worth further study – change of hiring practices at those
        papers? It also really explodes in 2015 with Trumplord’s candidacy.

Comments are closed.