2:00PM Water Cooler 2/25/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Sounds rather like a seagull, not what I’d expect of a hawk.


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:

South and Midwest head upwards once gain.

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

Florida and Texas bounce back.

What’s with New York?

Case count by United States region:

A little uptick in the South, driven by Texas.

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:

Decline is flattening across the board. Weather? Variants? 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.)


Upticks in the South and West. 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, driven by the South. Still, that rising fatality rate in the West (red) is what worries me. Could that be due to variants?

Here is an encouraging chart on nursing home fatalities:


“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

“Oath Keepers leader charged in Capitol riot claims she met with Secret Service” [New York Post]. Big if true. And the next to the final paragraph: “She is asking to be released to home confinement while awaiting trial, noting she is at risk for “harsh treatment” as a transgender woman.” • I would have thought her identity gave a straight readout of her political views, but apparently not.

Biden Administration

“Biden Unveils Cool Teen Migrant Detainment Center Where Youths Can Hang Out And Never Leave” [The Onion]. ““We think migrant teenagers are going to love getting a chance to kick back and chillax in this fenced-off compound from which they cannot escape,” said Biden, touting the facility’s air hockey table, pinball machine, and miles of unscalable barbed wire that would allow teenagers to comingle with other undocumented aliens to their hearts’ content…. At press time, Biden supporters across the country were organizing a fundraising campaign to help provide the center with a new trophy case.”

Biden Walkbacks: “Advocates Denounce Biden Plan to Reopen Homestead Migrant Children’s Facility” [Miami New Times]. “Just a few months after the Democratic debates, the shelter was shuttered in August 2019. But this morning, the Miami Herald reported that the Biden administration plans to reopen the Homestead center, which is now called the Biscayne Influx Care Facility. ‘This is not a place for children,’ Alvarado says. ‘This is a place that is going to be impossible to maintain COVID safety regulations. We’re already putting these children in danger. This detention center doesn’t have safety measures for hurricanes. The operators hire random people who don’t have experience or knowledge on how to work with children, especially children facing trauma from leaving their home countries. They’re at risk of getting sexually assaulted, and many of them did….’ Alvarado says she’s disappointed that her organizations and others will have to fight the same fight, but she says they’ll do everything in their power to block the detention center from reopening. ‘I condemn the actions of the Biden administration for being a hypocrite and calling for family reunification while at the same time opening these influx centers,’ Alvarado says. ‘His rhetoric may not be anti-immigrant, but his actions are. This is shameful, disgusting, and indefensible.'” • Yes, this center (from yesterday):

As readers know, I’m not an Open Borders fan. But I’m not a fan of campaigning on an issue and then doing the exact opposite. “It was a debate campaign!” –Kamala Harris

Biden Walkbacks:

I never hear a peep from the Senate parliamentarian when we’re shoveling the big bucks to the banks. Why is that?

Biden Walkbacks: “The Health 202: Biden wants a ‘public option’ health plan. Two Senate moderates say they have just the bill” [WaPo]. “To get more Americans covered, President Biden wants to create a government-backed ‘public option’ health plan and expand Obamacare subsidies. Two moderate Democratic senators, Tim Kaine (Va.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.), insist they have just the bill to accomplish that. It’s called ‘Medicare-X.’… Medicare-X proposes adding a public option plan first in the parts of the country where consumers have the fewest private marketplace options, then moving to areas with higher plan costs and finally expanding into every Zip code in the country by 2025. The aim is to give consumers more options, while also putting competitive pressure on private plans to lower their costs… Medicare-X leaves out one Biden proposal: lowering the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 60.” • 2025, one year after the Presidential election of 2024, exactly as with ObamaCare, whose major provisions came into effect in 2014, five years after it was passed, and two years after 2012. It’s almost like Democrats don’t want to run on ObamaCare as delivered, isn’t it? Of course, it’s not like people are suffering…

“Why Biden chose California’s attorney general to be Health and Human Services secretary” [Yahoo News]. “Becerra served in the House of Representatives from 1993 to 2017 before moving on to the role of California’s attorney general. His nomination comes at a time when the fate of Obamacare is up to the Supreme Court, which is debating the constitutionality of the landmark health care bill after a Texas judge declared it unconstitutional back in December 2018.’ His defense of the Affordable Care Act is the most notable item there, which likely means he’s going to continue to advocate for expansions of coverage,’ Chris Meekins, Washington policy analyst at Raymond James, told Yahoo Finance. Meekins also noted that the choice of Becerra ‘regenerates a perception that most of the health care policy will likely be driven by the White House rather than the Department [of HHS].'” • Awesome.

Democrats en deshabille

“Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House” [The Hill]. “Democratic fury over the mob attack on the Capitol and its aftermath is spilling into nearly every aspect of life in the House, squashing hopes for comity and threatening even mundane legislative tasks like the naming of a local post office. Democrats accuse Republicans of nothing short of sabotaging the nation’s democracy with false claims that November’s election was “stolen” from former President Trump. Already angry that the refusal by some Republicans to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 was endangering lives, Democrats now see the GOP as directly putting lawmaker lives on the line with dangerous rhetoric that feeds outlandish conspiracy theories.” • From the party that brought you RussiaGate (inflaming tensions, at the very least, with a nuclear power, in case anybody’s forgotten the geopolitical/national security goon grifting part. Musical interlude… (And yes, Republicans not masking is to say the least extremely discourteous, even un-Christian.)


“In Final Days, Trump Gave Up on Forcing Release of Russiagate Files, Nunes Prober Says” [Aaron Maté, RealClear Investigations]. “Kash Patel, whose work on the House Intelligence Committee helped unearth U.S. intelligence malpractice during the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane probe, said he does not know why Trump did not force the release of documents that would expose further wrongdoing. But he said senior intelligence officials ‘continuously impeded’ their release – usually by slow-walking their reviews of the material. Patel said Trump’s CIA Director, Gina Haspel, was instrumental in blocking one of the most critical documents, he said. Patel, who has seen the Russia probe’s underlying intelligence and co-wrote critical reports that have yet to be declassified, said new disclosures would expose additional misconduct and evidentiary holes in the CIA and FBI’s work. ‘I think there were people within the IC [Intelligence Community], at the heads of certain intelligence agencies, who did not want their tradecraft called out, even though it was during a former administration, because it doesn’t look good on the agency itself,’ Patel told RealClearInvestigations in his first in-depth interview since leaving government at the end of Trump’s term last month, having served in several intelligence and defense roles (full interview here)…. [D]espite an ongoing investigation by Special Counsel John Durham into the conduct of the officials who carried out the Trump-Russia inquiry, it is unclear if key documents will ever see the light of day.” • Maybe Obama should do a podcast with Durham.

Republican Funhouse

UPDATE “The Republican Party Is Now in Its End Stages” [The Atlantic]. “Republicans have entered their own kind of end-stage Bolshevism, as members of a party that is now exhausted by its failures, cynical about its own ideology, authoritarian by reflex, controlled as a personality cult by a failing old man, and looking for new adventures to rejuvenate its fortunes…. This comparison is more than a metaphor; it is a warning. A dying party can still be a dangerous party. The Communist leaders in those last years of political sclerosis arrayed a new generation of nuclear missiles against NATO, invaded Afghanistan, tightened the screws on Jews and other dissidents, lied about why they shot down a civilian 747 airliner, and, near the end, came close to starting World War III out of sheer paranoia…. Another lesson from all this history is that the Republicans have no path to reform. Like their Soviet counterparts, their party is too far gone. Gorbachev tried to reform the Soviet Communist Party, and he remains reviled among the Soviet faithful to this day. Similar efforts by the remaining handful of reasonable Republicans are unlikely to fare any better. The Republican Party, to take a phrase from the early Soviet leader Leon Trotsky, should now be deposited where it belongs: in the ‘dustbin of history.'” • Entertaining, and attractive to liberal Democrats who have Russia on the brain, but I’m not sure correct. After all, no Covid, and — assuming the Democrats crippled Sanders again — Trump wins. That’s basically like Breshnev invading West Germany — and winning

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.

Durable Goods: “Headline Durable Goods New Orders Improved Again In January 2021” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say the durable goods new orders improved for the ninth consecutive month. Our analysis shows the rolling averages improved…. The data this month was on the high side of expectations – and, the previous month was little changed. In the adjusted data, the improvement was driven by defense and civilian aircraft.”

GDP: “Second Estimate 4Q2020 GDP Growth Marginally Improves But Remains Deep In Contraction Year-over-Year” [Econintersect]. “The second estimate of fourth-quarter 2020 Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) marginally improved to 4.1 % from the advance estimate’s 4.0 %… I am not a fan of quarter-over-quarter exaggerated method of measuring GDP – but the recovery from the pandemic is not over as the year-over-year GDP growth remains in contraction.”

Unemployment: “20 February 2021 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Improves” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 725 K to 900 K (consensus 815 K), and the Department of Labor reported 730,000 new claims. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 828,250 (reported last week as 833,250) to 807,750… Job’s loss since the start of the pandemic is now 79,931,000. Many in this number are now employed or have dropped out of the workforce as all programs continuing claims number is 19,042,686, up from last week’s 18,341,584.”

Leading Indicators: “February 2021 Chemical Activity Barometer Index Improves” [Econintersect]. “The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), rose 1.0% in February on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis following a 1.8% increase in January. On a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, the barometer rose 1.3% in February…. Per Kevin Swift, chief economist at ACC: ‘With ten months of gains, the latest CAB reading is consistent with expansion in the U.S. economy.'”

* * *

Manufacturing: “United 777 plane flew fewer than half the flights allowed between checks: sources” [Reuters]. “A United Airlines plane with a Pratt & Whitney engine that failed on Saturday had flown fewer than half the flights allowed by U.S. regulators between fan blade inspections, two sources with knowledge of the matter said…. The Boeing Co 777 plane had flown nearly 3,000 cycles, equivalent to one take-off and landing, which compares to the checks every 6,500 cycles mandated after a separate United engine incident in 2018, said the sources…. Pratt, the maker of the PW4000 engines, advised airlines on Monday to step up checks to every 1,000 cycles, in a bulletin seen by Reuters…. On Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it was ordering immediate inspections of 777 planes with PW4000 engines before they could return to flight, going further than Pratt.”

The Bezzle: “New York shutting down cryptocurrency trading platforms that hid millions in losses” [The Hill]. “New York’s attorney general has reached a deal with two cryptocurrency trading platforms to shut down all business in the state and pay nearly $20 million in damages after the two firms hid hundreds of millions in losses. A statement from the office of Letitia James (D) on Wednesday said that the cryptocurrency platforms Bitfinex and Tether would be forced to end all transactions with New York residents and pay a combined $18.5 million in fines after hiding roughly $850 million in losses around the world. The two companies offered a service referred to as ‘stablecoins,’ or cryptocurrency backed by a set U.S. dollar value. James said in her press release that the companies’ claims of a guaranteed set value for the stablecoins was fraudulent.” • ”Stablecoins”…. Never eat at a place called Mom’s….

Mr. Market: “Wall Street’s ‘fear gauge’ is in a bubble, says J.P. Morgan” [Reuters]. “Wall Street’s ‘fear gauge’ is in a bubble, according to analysts at J.P. Morgan. Investor appetite for protective options has kept the https://thehill.com/policy/finance/540362-new-york-shutting-down-cryptocurrency-trading-platforms-that-hid-millions-in Volatility Index elevated despite muted moves on the benchmark S&P 500, according to the bank. The gap between investor expectations for volatility in U.S. stocks, as measured by the VIX, and actual moves on the S&P 500 is near its highest levels over the past 30 years, said Marko Kolanovic, J.P. Morgan’s global head of macro quantitative and derivatives strategy.” • Hmm. Not what CNN’s gauge says.

The Fed: “Federal Reserve falls over in massive hours-long tech outage, knocks down US inter-bank transfer system” [The Register]. “The US Federal Reserve’s money-transfer systems failed on Wednesday for a number of hours, likely halting the electronic movement of billions of dollars…. The IT outage at the United States’ central banking system effectively prevented the nation’s financial institutions from electronically sending money to each other, knackering wire transfers and deposits.” • Say the Fed: “The cause is a Federal Reserve operational error.” No further explanation given.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 65 Greed (previous close: 63 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 25 at 11:58am.

The Biosphere

“At Cape Wildlife Center: Living peacefully with coyotes” [Barnstable Patriot]. “Why killing coyotes is unnecessary and doesn’t work. Nature hates a void. Killing coyotes as a way to control population doesn’t work. Within a year or two, you will have as many coyotes as you had before. Killing one breeding pair leaves space open for another breeding pair to move in and establish a home. At the same time, lone coyotes will move into mate, young coyotes will have offspring sooner, and litter sizes will grow. Why not relocate coyotes? Despite what we think, this is not a humane alternative. Relocating a coyote is a death sentence for that animal. Coyotes are territorial and will try to do anything to get back to its home. They are often killed crossing roads or by other coyotes in territorial disputes, or they may starve from not knowing the area. Education is the best way to keep humans and coyotes co-existing peacefully. Humans can take an active role by removing attractants (food), being responsible pet owners, hazing coyotes that are in too close and learning about coyote behavior.” • Lots of other tips in this article!

Health Care

“BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine in a Nationwide Mass Vaccination Setting” [NEJM]. Pfizer. Importantly: “Concerns have emerged regarding the possible resistance of SARS-CoV-2 variants to Covid-19 vaccines17,18 and neutralizing antibodies.19,20 During the study period, an increasing share of SARS-CoV-2 isolates in Israel — up to 80% in the days before data extraction — were of the B.1.1.7 variant.21 Thus, this study estimates an average effectiveness of the vaccine over multiple strains. Although we cannot provide a specific effectiveness estimate for the B.1.1.7 variant, the plateau observed during the later periods in the cumulative incidence curve for vaccinated persons suggests that the BNT162b2 vaccine is also effective for this variant, an observation consistent with previous reports that showed preserved neutralizing antibody titers.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“AP Exclusive: Black Lives Matter opens up about its finances” [Associated Press]. “The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is now building infrastructure to catch up to the speed of its funding and plans to use its endowment to become known for more than protests after Black Americans die at the hands of police or vigilantes…. This marks the first time in the movement’s nearly eight-year history that BLM leaders have revealed a detailed look at their finances. … That growth also caused longstanding tensions to boil over between some of the movement’s grassroots organizers and national leaders — the former went public last fall with grievances about financial transparency, decision-making and accountability. The foundation said it committed $21.7 million in grant funding to official and unofficial BLM chapters, as well as 30 Black-led local organizations. It ended 2020 with a balance of more than $60 million, after spending nearly a quarter of its assets on the grant funds and other charitable giving.” • Well, perhaps the material will be up on their website soon, along with the usual non-profit apparatus, like staff or even a board of directors.

Our Famously Free Press

“Inside the new $65 million push from progressives to compete with conservative media” [Recode]. “A prominent Democratic strategist is planning a new $65 million effort to push progressive local news around the United States as part of an attempt to match the dominance of right-wing media, Recode has learned. The organization, whose formation hasn’t previously been reported, is called the Project for Good Information (PGI). It’s being created by Tara McGowan, a Democratic strategist who has spent the last few years at her current organization, Acronym, trying to encourage her party to counter far-right media with liberal content…. The new push will consist of two entities, according to the document: A 501(c)(3) public foundation called the Good Information Project, which will grant money to nonprofit media companies, and a public benefit corporation (a so-called B Corp) called Good Information Inc., which will invest in for-profit media companies…. McGowan has been a controversial figure in Democratic politics ever since news emerged of the link between Acronym and Shadow, the startup responsible for bungling the 2020 Democratic Iowa caucuses.” • In what sense were the Iowa caucuses “bungled”? In any case, we have Media Matters. What do we need this for?

More censorship:

I’m using a screenshot as opposed to an embed, because with “The following media includes potentially sensitive content” it looks like Twitter’s getting in on the act, raising the possibility that Twitter and YouTube are working from a common list of sources to be censored.

Anecdotal. Nevertheless:

Book Nook

“The Prison Playwright” [Gadfly]. From 1999: “San Quentin wasn’t famed for its cultural offerings. In the 1890s, Sarah Bernhardt did a one-act play in San Quentin’s lower yard. That was it for showbiz until Waiting for Godot arrived in 1957, via the San Francisco Actors Workshop. The captive audience of twelve hundred included [Rick] Cluchey, who’d ‘never been in a theater, not even to rob one,” he says. ‘I saw myself on that stage, amid the two tramps commenting, and the baronial character hauling another guy with a rope around his neck.” And, of course, waiting for something to happen.” • Over the transom from an alert reader: Rick Cluchey was “a Beckett protege who became one of my closest pals, gone now, alas. His relationship to Beckett was unique, perhaps his perspective might be of interest.”

Class Warfare

“‘We deserve more’: an Amazon warehouse’s high-stakes union drive” [Guardian]. “Darryl Richardson was delighted when he landed a job as a ‘picker’ at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. ‘I thought, ‘Wow, I’m going to work for Amazon, work for the richest man around,’ he said. ‘I thought it would be a nice facility that would treat you right.’… He complained about the fast, unrelenting pace of work and about seeing co-workers terminated for falling behind Amazon’s production quotas. As a picker, Richardson takes merchandise out of large metal bins that robots carry to his workstation, and he then hurries to put the items in various totes that a conveyor belt takes to packing. Nearby video monitors tell him what to do minute after minute. His quota is to pick 315 items an hour, five items a minute: toilet paper and toys, baby food and books destined for Amazon customers. ‘You’re running at a consistent, fast pace,’ Richardson said. ‘You ain’t got time to look around. You get treated like a number. You don’t get treated like a person. They work you like a robot.'”

“Amazon reportedly told workers to ‘Vote NO’ in a historic union election and to drop ballots in a USPS mailbox that recently appeared at their Alabama warehouse” [Business Insider]. “Amazon also reportedly sent text messages to the warehouse’s approximately 6,000 workers telling them to place their ballots in a US Postal Service mailbox that has recently appeared near the main entrance to their Bessemer plant. According to Motherboard, which viewed both the text message and the pamphlet, Amazon advised employees to vote by March 1, but workers have until March 29 to cast their ballots…. One worker told Motherboard that she feels as though Amazon is telling them to vote at the mailbox so higher-ups ‘can monitor us and gauge how many people are using’ it.” • Or stuff it.

“Amazon Union Vote Is a Big Deal for the U.S. Labor Movement” [Teen Vogue]. “Despite Alabama being a ‘right-to-work’ state — a label that notes the passage of ‘right-to-work’ laws that weaken employees’ ability to unionize — Bessemer actually has a strong pro-union history with the United Steelworkers, the largest industrial union in North America. Tellingly, more than 3,000 of the facility’s roughly 5,800 employees originally signed union authorization cards back in November 2020, petitioning the NLRB to hold a union vote…. On a national scale, establishing a union could provide the energy needed to spur successful union organizing efforts at Amazon workplaces across the country. And if the employees at Bessemer do manage to set a new standard for workplace conditions, pay, benefits, and accountability, they’ll offer a success story that could inspire thousands of other Amazon workers around the world.”

* * *

This is in Links this morning, but I want to call attention to the reporter’s tweet:

“[A] student’s deeply felt sense of personal truth and facts that are at odds with it” is delicately put. It reminds me of this passage from Terry Pratchett’s Men at Arms (heavily edited for reasons I assume are obvious):

There were, eventually, two theories, [one] based on observational evidence [and the other] based on what might tentatively be called the truth of the heart….

And we know which truth Smith chose, don’t we…. The story is worth reading in full. Presumably, the Times Slack channel is aflame with calls for the reporter’s head. Unsurprisingly, the working class staff at Smith paid the price. Everybody else went on from strength to strength. So it goes.

“How the Media Led the Great Racial Awakening” [Tablet (flora)]. From 2020, still germane: “Starting well before Donald Trump’s rise to power, while President Obama was still in office, terms like “microaggression” and “white privilege” were picked up by liberal journalists. These terms went from being obscure fragments of academic jargon to commonplace journalistic language in only a few years—a process that I document here in detail. During this same period, while exotic new phrases were entering the discourse, universally recognizable words like “racism” were being radically redefined. Along with the new language came ideas and beliefs animating a new moral-political framework to apply to public life and American society.”

“St. Joseph’s University Professor Suspended For Criticism Of Reparations On Social Media” [Jonathan Turley]. “Professor Gregory Manco, a math professor at St. Joseph’s University, has been suspended after he made arguments opposing reparations on twitter…. In this case, Manco was writing on a personal and an anonymous account as “South Jersey Giants.” Yet, he was still targeted because he expressed his opposition to reparations as well as racial bias training. A professor should be able to voice such views not just anonymously but directly as part of a national debate on such issues. As always, my concern is not with the merits of such arguments, or even the manner in which they are expressed. Rather, professors have a right to express themselves even when they espouse offensive or disgraceful positions.”

News of the Wired

“Why Your Brain Feels Broken” [New York Times]. “I don’t know how else to put it, but lately it seems like my brain is broken. I’m not functioning with the mental quickness I’m used to. I find myself struggling to locate words I want to use, like “vigilant” (it took me a full day to remember it). Sometimes when I’m especially tired in the evenings, I will trail off midsentence, and when my husband asks a follow-up question I will have completely lost my train of thought — it drives him bonkers…. It turns out that many aspects of our pandemic lives could lead to impaired executive functioning, which is a fancy way of describing the mental processes that allow us to plan, organize and remember instructions.” • No kidding. And but: “[G]oing outside, or even simulating the outdoors, may help when you’re feeling mentally dull. Studies have shown that spending time in nature, and even looking at pictures of nature, can improve cognitive functioning. Though it may be difficult to find the time, a 50-minute outdoor walk has been shown to improve memory and decrease anxiety, no matter what the weather is (though you will probably enjoy it a lot less if it’s 25 degrees out).” • As I have often said, and say again! And when you take your walk, look up at the trees and the sky not down at your feet!

It’s not too late to order seeds:

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

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. KB

    Interesting hawk sounds. That actually sounds more like an eagle than hawk to me. And that’s particularly funny as in movies/commercials etc. they often play hawk sounds when an eagle is in the picture. Raptor experts laugh at this common feature. I know this because I volunteered at the UofM Raptor Center.

    Hawk sounds that I am familiar with in the Midwest:

  2. SE

    Case fatality uptick in West is going to be dominated by California, which has an even steeper climb in case fatality than the West as a whole.

    “The team studied 324 medical records from UCSF clinics and its medical center and found those carrying the variant were 4.8 times as likely to be admitted to intensive care and more than 11 times as likely to die”


    Seems likely variants are playing a role.

  3. Judith

    Ryan Grim, on twitter, responded to the NYT article on Smith College with an extended criticism of the behavior of the administration, the faculty, and the ACLU. His criticism is in part class-based and explores the long-term impacts on the Smith staff.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I embedded the first tweet in the thread, which is worth reading. This sentence is quite telling:

      “We used to joke, don’t let a rich student report you, because if you do, you’re gone,” said Mark Patenaude, a janitor.

      1. bayoustjohndavid

        I thought the quote you included “Tension between a student’s deeply felt sense of personal truth and facts that are at odds with it,” was supposed to remind us of the days when liberals made fun of conservative “truthiness.”

    2. jhallc

      I wonder what the outcome of this whole sordid affair would have been different if the workers at Smith had been unionized?

      1. RMO

        Well, I’m sure then the administration would have had a lot to say accusing the union as being inherently, possibly unconsciously racist and structurally white supremacist.

  4. SteveD

    I would have thought her identity gave a straight readout of her political views, but apparently not.

    Identity not an absolute predictor of politics??!! Big if true!
    Naughty Lambert.

    1. fresno dan

      February 25, 2021 at 2:30 pm


      I would find Oath Keepers being trans tolerant…surprising. However, the actual Oath Keepers site does not address sexual issues, and being trans tolerant would be consistent with their libertarian and skepticism toward governmental authority (of course, I understand stated principles versus de facto principles are not one and the same). Was she open about her trans status to her fellow Oath Keepers???
      If nothing else, a good reminder that you can’t judge a book by its cover…

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      There is an HBO documentary running right now called the Lady and the Dale. Transgender and very bitter about being made to do time, I think for fraud, on the men’s side. Strongly libertarian, big Ayn Rand fan. This was I think back in the 70s that she invented a tricycle car, the Dale. Not sure who she defrauded (investors?) but the thing didn’t have an engine lol.

      Anyway the govt refused to acknowledge her as a woman in all their interactions, insisted on a psych eval, etc., and generally as she felt invaded her privacy.

      Makes sense to me that the disenfranchised would be skeptical of the PTB, no?

      And sorry but I just want to gripe about the NYT, which alone of the MSM outlets is not making its pandemic coverage available to people like me who are not down with registering with my email so FB, google etc. can track me. Boo, hiss!

  5. NotTimothyGeithner

    even mundane legislative tasks like the naming of a local post office

    I wonder if this was intentional.

  6. ChetG

    Red-tailed hawks do sound rather thin (but, for me, their call seems different from that of a gull), but what always impresses me is that some blue jays do splendid red-tailed hawk imitations. (No, I don’t know why, whether to clear perching birds from an area, to frighten smaller hawks, or to exhibit their sense of fun.)

    1. Copeland

      In the places where I have lived recently, in Washington and Oregon, starlings routinely –and expertly– mimic eagles, along with many other bird species.

    2. BlakeFelix

      We had one that would imitate a hawk, and clear out our bird feeder, then come eat. It was funny to watch.

  7. jsn

    The Atlantic article is a tour deforce of Dem inability to self reflect.

    The story about leadership cults and their failures, disorientation and paranoia and the attempts to externalize the consequences ignores the analogous systemic issues at the core of current D power.

    The Ds have learned to ignore reality in favor of their preferred, careerist doctored information flows, to ignore any interests outside of their active party operatives and donors and as a result have committed themselves to a foreign policy designed to support Pentagon budgets and down stream payments and a domestic policy of active abandonment of quickly growing fractions of the population in total absence of realistic assessments of the outside or domestic US world. All while criminalizing as quick as they can any effective public reference to reality.

    Throwing stones in the glass house.

    1. Darius

      I first read a Republicans-on-their-deathbeds story at the end of 1976, after Carter beat Ford. I read similar stories in 1993, after Clinton beat Bush. There was a rash of them in 2009 with Obama.

      The thing these stories missed, most notably with Obama, was the Democrats inability to, or indifference to the possibility of following through to make it happen. The biggest thing the Republicans have going for them is who their ostensible adversaries are. I think it was Corey Robin who wrote recently about how weak the Republicans are. But they can limp along for a long time because the Democrats are a squib who’s only efforts appear to be aimed at handing power back to them.

      Presumably, at some point, something will emerge to knock both Republicans and Democrats off their pedestals.

      1. jsn

        Yep, the Globe Trotters (Rs) are dottering old fools who can’t remember what they used to do and can no longer even throw the ball, but they’re still playing the Generals (Ds) who exist solely to lose to the Globe Trotters.

          1. eg

            “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

            You can vote for Team Pepsi or Team Coke — either way it’s neoliberal cola in the bottle.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Do they even read the links they use in their article?!?

      From the Atlantic –

      The Communist leaders…near the end, came close to starting World War III out of sheer paranoia.

      Yet from the link Lambert left highlighted above (emphasis added) –

      It was disclosed previously that the NATO exercise, named Able Archer 83, triggered worries in the Kremlin. But the new documents provide precise details for the first time of the Soviet military response to the NATO exercise, an annual event that practiced a simulated nuclear attack on the forces of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact.

      So who was starting what exactly? Sure sounds like it was a lot more than “sheer paranoia” that caused the Soviet reaction.

      1. Alex Cox

        Anything you read in The Atlantic, literally anything, just turn it around 180 degrees and it seems accurate and credible.

        Such amazing consistency!

        Wonder who owns it?

  8. zagonostra

    >Capitol Seizure

    I respectfully suggest the the rubric change to 1/6. This was a “seizure” only in a tendential sense. There is so much more to this story than meets the eye/screen. It will take a long time to unravel it. all and I doubt the full truth will come out any time soon. As I continue to read stories like the one posted above, more and more doubt enters my mind as to the official narrative.

    1. ambrit

      I have become so cynical that I automatically assume the “official” narrative to be ‘bent.’ I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the ‘Down South’ phrase, “the official version” as a way to indicate mendacity in narrative building.
      “The Official Version” is always a lie.

    2. Psalamanazar

      Couldn’t agree more. Was it a riot, an insurrection or what? The French Revolutionary habit was to refer to a day of commotion as, e.g., ‘La journée de 9 Thermidor’. This does rather rely on commotions not being fomented on the anniversary of a previous commotion, but worked for them.

  9. Swamp Yankee

    Re: coyotes. I’m about 40 miles from Barnstable, and let me tell you, the coyotes are actually getting a bit out of control. This article gets much right, but also suffers from certain biases (and I say this as an environmentalist) that you see in the wildlife rehab and etc. community.

    So yes, you should do everything the author says, which I do — keep food inside, keep pets inside at night (though often my cat preferred to watch them from our roof, which he had safe and easy access to); the number of times I have hazed coyotes is probably well over one hundred, possibly two hundred. I have beat my chest like an ape, banged pots and pans, thrown apples and snowballs and rocks, chased them away — yet the geography of this marsh is such that they go through a kind of pass below my cottage, and I cannot get rid of them through hazing. I found a mostly gnawed, but fur intact, deer femur in my front yard the other week.

    But she’s also making a basic mistake that no ecologist ought to — ignoring population growth and carrying capacities. I’ve lived on the same saltmarsh for 25 years, there is just an objectively larger coyote population here, at least on this marsh. That’s also aligning with the fact that, as metro Boston spills down towards Vacationland, you have fewer and fewer hunters to manage that population.

    I think you get a weird kind of romanticism that is actually a different thing than actual ecological stewardship (which can occasionally require a certain cold-bloodedness) in people who devote themselves to one species, often an iconic and handsome one like a coyote or the Great White Shark or seals, rather than ecosystems as a whole — students of the latter often understand that some human management is absolutely necessary. Make no mistake, the Cape is going to have to manage seal and white shark populations if it is to retain the tourist industry upon which it relies.

    This even spilled into a debate in the Blue Hills, immediately south of Boston, where the deer population was growing so unchecked that starvation was setting in among them. The typical solution, increasing the deer harvest that year, was opposed by do-gooder PMCers, who said it was inhumane (and letting them starve is kind?), and that each deer should be trapped and sterilized. Which is just a total nonstarter and emblematic of their removal from reality, it simply cannot be done (you’re going to get the huge surplus of veterinarians to mass sterilize hundreds of deer…. where? With what money? What infrastructure? It was just absurd). Deer actually are among the larger donations to some food pantries in rural areas, there are still subsistence fishers and hunters, even in immigrant populations in places like Lowell and Brockton, and the cluelessness of the liberal Goodthinkers was so great that they lost.

    So yes, be wise with coyotes, but there is a hunting and a trapping season for them, and I have anecdotal evidence from HS friends who became farmers of them making use of this season. After all, the coyotes pose a direct, imminent threat to their goats and their livelihoods, so…..

    1. jsn

      Great comment, thank you!

      We’ve got the Coywolves in Colebrook, CT and they’ve completely cleared out the deer population. Moose are still around, but anything smaller appears to be gone.

      1. Phillip Allen

        Waving from a few miles south in Winsted, CT!

        We still see deer in the Mad River Basin. Coyotes are very active in and around town, but as yet no one has reported seeing what could be definitely identified as a Coywolf. There are Coydogs in the area; maybe the Coywolves just haven’t extended their range this far south yet, or no one has seen one and recognized it as such.

        I second the praise for Swamp Yankee’s comment.

      2. Stephen Gardner

        Back when I was a kid in NH they called the beefy coyotes “coy dogs”. Much later UNH studied their genetics. Turns out they were just beefy coyotes. They were beginning to occupy the niche abandoned by the timber wolf when those animals were driven to extinction. Imagine that! Natural selection at work before our very eyes.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Here in Tucson, urban coyotes have been around for, well, forever. Periodically, one is found to be rabid or displaying behavior that is consistent with rabies in wild animals, and the whole town gets up in arms.

      I mean that literally. This is a state where it’s legal to openly carry firearms and people do.

      What happens to coyotes that find themselves in the line of fire? Well, they go down. And then they become buzzard food.

      I have yet to hear anything about rabid buzzards.

    3. meadows

      Swamp Yankee,

      Rational comment, thanks… here in Bellingham, WA, population 100,000, we are swamped with deer. Literally herds of them wander from yard to yard. Some people feed them! There is no plan to control their population. In our part of town if your garden and trees are not fenced very well your work will be destroyed. Every year incidents take place between small dogs and does protecting their fawns. Maimed, barely mobile deer (car/deer crashes) drag themselves from lawn to lawn. Out in the county, no such problem, they are “on the run” from hunters as well as coyotes.

    4. Darius

      I always understood that coyotes aren’t big enough to take on adult deer, so they are inadequate at population control. Maybe they have hybridized with German shepherds or something.

      I think the point of the article was that you can’t control their population. Kill them, and more just pop up to take their place. Kind of like terrorists. You can try to mitigate them by removing attractions like outdoor dog food. And you can try to scare them away from your immediate environs. How about large sheepdogs? I also have read that llamas make pretty effective wolf deterrents.

      BTW, what harm are coyotes doing? I can see how they might be a mortal threat to small outdoor pets, or even small children. But, pets can be kept indoors. Small kids probably should be supervised by adults anyway. I would think adults have little to fear from coyotes.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Coyotes themselves don’t cause huge amounts of harm, it’s their increased population and density that does. They certainly cause harm for farmers, and the increasing number of smallholder farms in this region raising chickens, goats, ducks, etc. They have actually bred with dogs and wolves in the East, something like 30% of the genome, I’ve read, so whether or not they scavenged or took down that deer, I think it’s possible for them to run it down — they are noticeably bigger than they were 30 years ago.

        It’s also the case that we do see increasing numbers of encounters and attacks on people, still rare, but on pets, especially, it’s increasing. And not just at night, it’s creeping into daylight hours now. It’s one thing to say, keep your pets in at night — but if your pet has been here longer than the coyote, a common occurrence as they increase their range, I don’t know why it has a lesser claim to existence. Ditto something like a barn cat that is half feral but still definitely one’s own. I don’t see their claims to life being less than coyotes’.

        The reality is that humans have been managing our environments for 100,000 years, and if sharks start eating tourists and coyotes start eating dogs and cats, I don’t see either practically or morally why you wouldn’t control their populations.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          they are noticeably bigger than they were 30 years ago.

          I believe the growing trend is to refer to these critters as Coywolves. They are also more aggressive than wolves and coyotes and not deterred by dogs.

          1. John

            I read an article recently that said that DNA studies of coyotes in Connecticut do show breeding with dogs but not with wolves. Eastern coyotes are said to be noticeably larger than those farther west. I have seen coyotes here in the east and also on the high plains. The eastern ones appear larger. More to eat? I understand that wolves do not tolerate coyotes and will kill them as competitors. The predator for deer in the east was the mountain lion and the wolf. Both have been exterminated. I once lived near a large park in Westchester County New York. The deer were everywhere. We had an especially harsh winter with deep and long lasting snow. In the spring the scavenged carcasses and bones of deer were a frequent sight. Starvation is not a great way to go.

        2. Wukchumni

          When having an early morning warming fire outside, I get to hear the coyote chorale sounding off in the distance a few miles away. It takes about 30-45 seconds for everybody to chime in on living a paw to mouth existence, and most recent experiences.

          Cats getting killed by coyotes is a real bad problem in the city, but not so much here. We’ve had a total of 7 indoor-outdoor felines for 15 years and never an issue.

      2. Jason

        I think the point of the article was that you can’t control their population. Kill them, and more just pop up to take their place. Kind of like terrorists.

        Kind of like humans. I’m reminded of Douglas Adams:

        “Man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”

    5. bob

      Big mast year in 2019, lead to a big rodent year in 2020, which then leads further up the food chain.

      The snow cover makes it harder for the larger animals to forage this year. The deer are herding up. Part of that is defense against predators. One of the other reasons is probably heat. With the food for coyotes more difficult, they have to become more bold.

    6. Jason

      Make no mistake, the Cape is going to have to manage seal and white shark populations if it is to retain the tourist industry upon which it relies.

      Do you believe, as an environmentalist, that it should continue to rely on a tourism industry?

      1. Swamp Yankee

        No, I don’t. But in some sense, like other semi-peripheral parts of the country with extractive industries (fishing, cranberries, and yes, tourism), what Lambert rightly calls the internal colonies, it doesn’t face a lot of choice. I’m working locally to try to get people to realize it is the natural beauty of our region, and not casinos and “swingin’ hot spots” (as per Joni Mitchell) that draw visitors, and that if you kill the golden goose with endless sprawl, it’s over. But people are often so concerned with brute survival and despair it’s hard to get a hearing.

        Even without a tourist industry, I think there are valid reasons for local people to want to control the populations of both sharks and seals. The shark eating people part is obvious (it’s not always tourists, two, admittedly unwise, local teenagers took their kayaks out to a seal-favored rock off Plymouth and had them bitten in half by a Great White; they were not harmed), but the seal part is actually also a big deal for fishing. Seals have caused a dramatic decline in many fish species favored by humans, like striped bass, and there are just too many of them — hundreds of thousands now. And they are of course what draw the sharks.

        1. John

          First the prey species increases but the predators increase in turn. The introduction of wolves into Yellowstone Park led to a gradual but dramatic decrease in the elk herd and to a healthier elk herd. Elk hunters outside the Park did not like the competition.

    7. drumlin woodchuckles

      If liberal Goodthinkers were told about how Indian Nations people actually used to kill and eat dear, would they reconcile themselves to the idea?

      If they were told that many Indian Nations managed land with fire and other means to maintain huge outdoor free-range deer gardens for a steady cyclical deer harvest, and that modern suburbia is replicating the giant live-in free-range deer gardens of Indian times, how would they receive that knowledge?

  10. stefan

    When was the last time the Senate parliamentarian got a salary increase?

    The Parliamentarian’s current salary is $171,315 per year. (about $80/hour)

  11. antidlc

    Medicare-X proposes adding a public option plan first in the parts of the country where consumers have the fewest private marketplace options, then moving to areas with higher plan costs and finally expanding into every Zip code in the country by 2025. The aim is to give consumers more options, while also putting competitive pressure on private plans to lower their costs

    Oh, great!

    More choice = time tax

  12. zagonostra

    >Trump Gave Up on Forcing Release of Russiagate Files – Aaron Maté, RealClear Investigations

    Patel…said he does not know why Trump did not force the release of documents that would expose further wrongdoing.

    You have to wonder what really happened in the final days of the Trump administration and what kind of deals were struck with the Intel-services and what pressure the power brokers exerted. Like reports that McConnel threatened Trump with something or other if he were to pardon Assange, there is much speculation and I don’t think we have a news media equipped or motivated to do real investigative journalism.

    I’m glad that at least Aaron Maté continues to report on this story.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I wonder what would have happened if Trump had gone into the Presidential Press Room and announced live on TV to the nation that he was ordering Gina Haspel to immediately release any and all files to do with Russiagate for the ‘good of the nation’ and that this was a Presidential order. And that if she could not follow orders he would sack her until he found someone who knew how to follow orders. That would be interesting that.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Or, in this scenario, if Trump were to have “choked” on a “burger” before finding a CIA head who would follow Presidential orders to release the material, some people might have wondered at the oh-so-lucky timing of the “purely” . . . “accidental” . . . “choking” . . . on a “burger”.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Ex-wife was a Smithie, as was her grandmother and sister. I carried her bags to her fifth reunion. Multiple classes also had their reunions that weekend. There was a yuuge every-alum convocation, where then College President Jill Ker Conway was the keynote. The keynote of her keynote was a long bit on how the woman grads of Smith College, the non-LGBTQ ones (a growing segment) anyway, were expected to make sure their husbands’ estate plans included generous provisions for the Smith College endowment, to perpetuate the Smithiness on into the rosy future.

      The Program for the Study of Women and Gender examines gender, race, class and sexuality as important and simultaneous aspects of social worlds and human lives. Students examine the construction and operation of power relations, social inequalities and resistances to them in national, transnational, cultural, historical and political contexts. As an interdisciplinary endeavor, the program looks at how different academic disciplines view the operation of gender in the labor market, the family, political systems and cultural production. The study of women and gender is joined to an understanding of the forms of activism around the globe.https://www.smith.edu/academics/swg

      You get what you pay for?

      1. Roger the cabin boy

        I’m surprised to hear that it is the non-LGBTQ contingent that is increasing. I’d have thought it would be the other way around.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Better atmospheres at other universities simply means the people who chose Smith for LGBT reasons aren’t as inclined to attend Smith. Even with higher self identification as LGBT at the college age, it simply won’t be the island it once was. Smith’s reputation has been around for a long time, so it would not be the beneficiary of a freer society.

          Why go to Smith when you can go to Yale?

        2. km

          In my experience, three types of women attend the Seven Sisters:

          1. Legacies, who attend because Mom and Grandma attended.
          2. Thesbian Lemonists, who attend for political/ideological reasons.
          3. Middle Easterners and Asians, who attend because their parents want them to attend a prestigious college, but with no males.

    2. CanCyn

      I don’t believe that two wrongs make a right and I sure wish the young women had targeted a wealthy white administrator instead of low paid support staff but there is a part of me that doesn’t blame these young black people for their cries of racism about what is most likely innocuous behaviour, or at the very least colour blind. Black people have been on the wrong end of the stick for a very long time in N. America, who can blame them for taking advantage of identity politics and stirring up some sh*t for white folks?
      As a recent retiree from academia in Canada, I am the first to say that IdPol and diversity ‘wokeness’ have definitely gone down a road too far, but still …. is a little turnabout fair play?
      And yes I know the real issue is class, a poor black person is not being listened to the way this young woman at Brown was. hmm, maybe I just talked my self out of my sympathy. Sticky stuff IMO

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Given that you support it happening to others, it would certainly be fair if it happens to you personally.
        Your imperious high-handed class snobbery and support for ritual victimization and persecution of non-rich non-powerful White people stands revealed.

  13. km

    Re: “The Republican Party Is Now in Its End Stages”

    I have long said that every day is Chernobyl Day around here in the Good Ol’ USofA, but the same criticisms that are leveled against Team R could be leveled against Team D. It’s not as if Biden/Harris were brimming with fresh ideas or innovative solutions.

  14. JohnHerbieHancock

    On growing bell pepper plants from seed: how come after a month, mine get leggy and flop over, even while sitting on an east facing windowsill and getting sunlight ALL MORNING, and some indirect light well after noon?

    (note: this is not happening to other seedlings placed on the same sill)

    1. grayslady

      Peppers, like tomatoes, love the heat when growing outdoors. They also prefer bottom heat when started indoors. Peppers and tomatoes grow quickly, so you can start them later than other seeds. I used to start my tomatoes at the beginning of April for planting out after mid-May in a raised bed (warmer than regular ground temperature). Your pepper plants sound like they’re suffering from root rot because the soil is too chilly for their preferences. A heat mat under the peppers would be helpful if you want to start them this early.

    2. Phillip Allen

      The reason you’re getting leggy plants is the amount of light available is inadequate for compact growth. Even though human sight says there would seem to be plenty of sunlight, from the plant’s point of view it wants more hours of more full spectrum-intensity light. Window glass reduces light intensity to a degree that it can impact plants that really need full sun sunrise to sunset. Peppers are in that category. To grow peppers successfully other than outdoors you need a greenhouse, a full solarium, or some significant supplemental lighting. They are grown commercially in greenhouses or indoor growing operations but it’s rare that someone can replicate those conditions in a regular home.

    3. Alternate Delegate

      Some plants rely on a bit of red light in the evening to reset their daily clocks, and they fail to flourish if they can’t see the West. I do not know if this is the case for peppers.

  15. dcblogger

    prisons for asylum seekers is a recent practice. I don’t know when it started, whether it was the Reagan or Clinton administration. Clearly a product of the for-profit prison industry. Used to be that immigrants remained at large while waiting for their hearing.

    closing the prisons has zero to do with open borders.

    separating children from their parents did not begin until the Obama administration and was vastly expanded under Trump. There is no nice explanation for separating children from their parents.

    closing the baby prisons has nothing to do with open borders. it mean ending state sponsored child abduction. if you are interested in fighting the baby prisons you can look here

  16. FreeMarketApologist

    re: NYTimes article on the drop in nursing home deaths:

    Because there are no more residents left to die?

    I read that article, and there’s something about it that just doesn’t seem right to me, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Seems more like an ad for vaccination, than a scientific analysis.

  17. a fax machine

    Positive News: Sonoma County’s SMART train recently voted to take control of the beleaguered North Coast Railroad Authority. The NCRA existed to allow it’s owner, Southern Pacific, to abandon tracks west of Fairfield to Sausalito, Fort Bragg and Eureka in the 1980s. The track was mostly destroyed in the 1990s and the remaining service has been minimal and focused on Napa Co and Petaluma. Voters then approved construction of a mass transit system on it in 2009(ish), which opened in 2017. Since SMART has more money (and, rather crucially, a dedicated workshop and signalling system) they were given the option to take freight service by recent legislation. NCRA’s staff will likely be absorbed into SMART.

    Now, as you might recall a few days ago there was an article about how America’s railroads aren’t interested in local or regional services anymore, just point-to-point services. The NCRA and SMART is what happens when a community (or a group of them) fight to obtain the right to provide their own public service. Should SMART be able to build a successful service here (I beilive they will), it will herald much larger changes for the whole state.

    To which point: to the south is similar agency called Caltrain. Caltrain is similar to SMART, although not as well built and Union Pacific still preforms local freight service. If SMART’s gamble proves good, this creates a clear business opportunity for Caltrain to get into freight themselves.. especially when Caltrain’s larger backers in local County governments have wanted industrial expansion UP never provided. This has statewide consequences given the close informal relationship between Caltrain’s board and the state HSR program.

    This also has larger relevance if SMART ever electrifies, because it would (obviously) create America’s only electrified freight service. The Air Resources Board would certainly take notice of that and if it’s successful would demand such things from private industry as well.

  18. Old Sarum

    The “Stable” Bezzle; one account to rule them all:

    Reminds me of those “cash equivalents”. Money is a social construct, and cash equivalence is a social construct too far, as it is not resilient to minor crisis.

    Pip pip!

    ps Regarding major crisis: are the ATMs pumping today?

    1. Wukchumni

      Scams used to require a human presence in order to pull off, and frankly that was the hardest part. Thanks to the internet, who needs humans now, except to be the marks-as is their custom.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Interesting link that. The fines by the Government were literally pocket change but the costs of all those inspections will add up to eye-watering amounts. And to think that if they had built them right the first time with solid quality control, all this would never have been necessary and Boeing could have saved themselves billions.

  19. Lou Anton

    On the DIVOC trends, it looks to me like we’re bottoming. Downward trend is decelerating – looks like the bottom of a hockey stick in some regions, starting to curve to flat in others. See here if you’d like!

    Those over 65 who have gotten vaccinated (hooray!) are no longer testing as often, so positives likely coming from those who are younger. December holidays didn’t prove to be an accelerant, nor did Super Bowl parties or Valentine’s Days out (as far as we can tell yet). I’d just guess that people tend to stay in and stay home in the 2 coldest months of the year, and that’s help to push down the new infections.

    March brings warmer weather and looser restrictions though, so we’ll see if the Jan/Feb downtrend is able to overcome those things (+ more shots in people’s arms!)

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Inside the new $65 million push from progressives to compete with conservative media”

    Gotta say that $65 million does not sound like much to compete with mobs like CNN and MSNBC with.

  21. Wukchumni

    As I have often said, and say again! And when you take your walk, look up at the trees and the sky not down at your feet!

    There was a prolific cat burglar in the City of Angles in the 60’s who constantly evaded LAPD by hiding out in trees or on roofs when below him there were coppers everywhere looking for him, and I think he was finally caught and questioned about prior brushes with the law, and he told his questioner that the cops never looked up, his ace in the hole.

    I like to do out and back walks so you see the same thing coming & going, or as some people call it, a dayhike. I kind of daydream a little when on trail in the wilderness, my eyes slowly darting around watching the canvas unfolding in front of me, alert for things that don’t fit the color scheme, animals afoot or signs of, and hopefully sweeping vistas in the distance.

    Walking off-trail takes alertness to a new level as you’re in charge of where the next step is going to be, when putting one foot in front of another and alternating. Sometimes there will be the faintest of trails if you could call it that, or ducks (cairns) left from other out of bounds travelers suggesting the path of least resistance forward, but not always.

  22. flora

    re: Jonathan Turley article: Trying to figure the social and political import and effect of the Lincoln-Douglas debates if Douglas had been silenced before hand. Would a one-sided “debate” have carried any weight with the US voters? Would a one-sided “debate” have been a strong argument for Lincoln’s abolition arguments, or would silencing the abolitionist’s opposition have weakened the moral force of the abolition argument ? My own 2 cents: silencing Douglas would have weakened the abolisionists’ moral argument in the country.

    1. flora

      Much shorter: liberals claiming the moral high ground on issue X who run away from civil debate on issue X undermine their own claims to moral high ground on contested point X.

      1. John

        If opinions are silenced, how can there be debate? This rush to censor is disturbing and a danger to civilized discourse. Quashing ideas and speech you dislike as opposed to combating it makes you the authoritarian. The so-called “cancel culture” is McCarthy redux and turned on its head. If you claim some self-righteous moral high ground today, you may find your erstwhile opponents on the hill top tomorrow. Sauce for the goose.

  23. Mikel

    RE: “Darryl Richardson was delighted when he landed a job as a ‘picker’ at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. ‘I thought, ‘Wow, I’m going to work for Amazon, work for the richest man around,’ he said. ‘I thought it would be a nice facility that would treat you right.’

    Amazon workers have been protesting and striking for years, all kinds of exposes about worker treatment…

    And all the news he could find was about how wealthy Bezos is? Or is it the only news he wanted to hear?

    1. Massinissa

      I mean, he might have been working there for years.

      And more importantly, most people don’t bother reading news online, or at all.

    2. cnchal

      > They work you like a robot.

      Simply, the pace is inhumane. But it’s in every Amazon shopper’s interest for it to remain that way.

  24. jr

    Field Report: Manhattan, near Varick St., SoHo

    Significant group of protestors marching, were throwing things but moved on, according to Citizen App. Video shows, my guess here, maybe 80 filling a street at one point but that’s only my crude group counting from a few seconds of video. What was clearer were calls to “Burn it down!” although what their target is is unclear. Lot’s of heavy drumming.

  25. Tom Stone

    Rev, if you recall Trump wanted $2K checks last October.
    People were desperate then and they are in worse shape now.
    There will be no substantive aid for the 1/3 of American small businesses predicted to fail this year, or the millions newly on the edge of homelessness.
    It is not going to happen because we have a broken Government, there’s a LOT of money to be made and power to be had in the process of beggaring the populace.

  26. marym

    Current minimum wage status per twitterverse:

    Parliamentarian said no to $15 minimum wage in the reconciliation bill. VP as senate prez can overrule parliamentarian. Senate would then need 60 votes to override the VP. But WH press secretary says VP isn’t going to overrule Parl. because they respect the rules of the Senate, even though overruling is a rule of the Senate. Pelosi says $15 is staying in the bill anyway when House votes on it. Schumer is disappointed. Sanders and Wyden have a new gambit to tax large corps that don’t pay $15.

    Also, Biden bombed Syria: https://twitter.com/NBCNews/status/1365095767996776450

  27. Aaron

    Warning: Sarcasm

    Re “The Republican Party Is Now in Its End Stages”. Funny how the author is projecting all Dem problems on the Repubs.

    “The Republican Party has, for years, ignored the ideas and principles it once espoused” – So Dems were always the party of bicoastal-urban PMCs eh? I vaguely remember something about “working class”.

    “A GOP that once prided itself on its intellectual debates is now ruled by the turgid formulations of what the Soviets would have called their “leading cadres” – Sorry, I didn’t know intellectual debates involved deplatforming and censoring.

    “Falling in line, just as in the old Communist Party, is rewarded, and independence is punished.” – Absolutely. Look at how Bernie and the progressives are still allowed roam the Capitol free.

    Internal party squabbles are normal in democracies. Case in point being the bitter dem primaries in 2016 and 2020. Even after all that, the party pulled itself together to put Biden and Harris, the two people who were the least popular among the lot, in the White House. Looking at the Biden Promise Walkback Rate (TM) and with Dems inventing new reasons not to do anything in Congress, It looks like the Republican party is not the only one which has no path to reform.

  28. NotTimothyGeithner

    Gee, ole Joe is bombing “Iranian linked militants” just as his VP is going along with the decision not to include the minimum wage hike. Surprise, surpise.

    2/25/21 will be the official start of Biden’s lame duck status.

  29. Phillip Cross

    Anyone who didn’t check out after “Super” Tuesday only has themselves to blame.

    In retrospect, Marianne Williamson was the only decent choice on the debate stage!

  30. Howard

    Regarding “Why your Brain feels broken”, I am gratified to learn that my life-long absent-mindedness (since the age of 5 at least) is starting to become something of a norm. Not to minimize at all what the writer has been experiencing, but I do believe that a lot (not all or perhaps even most) of the concern people have been voicing over decline in cognitive and executive function during the pandemic can be attributed to the fact that people have just been paying more attention to themselves over the past year.

    On the silver-lining side, I feel like I have had a mini-experience like the ones you sometimes read about when someone gets a blow to the head or has a stroke and comes out the other side a mathematical or musical genius. Since years of childhood and youthtime lessons, I have always been a passable if unimaginative piano player: I can sight-read and more or less play just about anything (Bach fugues, Beethoven sonatas, etc.) but have always had zero ability to improvise. Then suddenly one day a month or two ago I sat down and just started playing stuff out of my head. Maybe my advancing age (b. 1953) and say a minor stroke or two pruned away some inhibiting neurons? I don’t know anything about neurology, just sayin’. Also, the recent presence of a two-year-old who needs entertaining might have something to do with it.

  31. witters

    Howard, in a similar situation. After all the years playing, I can now play. And I learnt a good rule of thumb. If you make a ‘mistake,’ repeat it. Then, if it works, see where it goes.

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