Links 2/5/2021

Building Earth’s largest telescope on the far side of the moon CBC (IM).

How David Beats Goliath in Real Life The Reformed Broker

The money behind Robinhood is pure Sheriff of Nottingham Gillian Tett, FT

New Mexico’s nuclear rush Searchlight New Mexico (AC).


Coronavirus confusion: What’s the difference between a variant and a strain? Los Angeles Times (nvl).

Danish scientists see tough times ahead as they watch more contagious COVID-19 virus surge Science. More on new strains:

How to redesign COVID vaccines so they protect against variants Nature

* * *

An observational study of SARS-CoV-2 infectivity by viral load and demographic factors and the utility lateral flow devices to prevent transmission (preprint) (PDF) Modernizing Medical Microbiology. Discussion. From the Interpretation: “SARS-CoV-2 infectivity varies by case viral load, contact event type, and age. Those with high viral loads are most infectious.”

Transmission of COVID-19 in 282 clusters in Catalonia, Spain: a cohort study The Lancet (nvl). From the Interpretation: “In our study, the viral load of index cases was a leading driver of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. The risk of symptomatic COVID-19 was strongly associated with the viral load of contacts at baseline and shortened the incubation time of COVID-19 in a dose-dependent manner.” Commentary:

* * *

How New Models Of Vaccine Development For COVID-19 Have Helped Address An Epic Public Health Crisis Health Affairs

Johnson & Johnson seeks US authorisation for Covid-19 vaccine FT

With a seductive number, AstraZeneca study fueled hopes that eclipsed its data STAT

The mystery of the missing vaccines Politico

The coronavirus vaccine divide: In maps and charts Al Jazeera

* * *

Why some hospitals have to scramble for oxygen to treat Covid-19 patients STAT


World Food Bills Set to Keep Rising on China’s Crop-Buying Binge Bloomberg

China proposes huge PNG port to stand over Australia Macrobusiness. Australian idiom: “The standover man is a loner, a predator who preys on other, more prosperous criminals, often extremely dangerous ones. He captures them and ‘stands over’ them. To extort money.” –William Gibson, Idoru

Hong Kong to teach children as young as six about subversion, foreign interference Reuters

Myanmar: The Stupid Coup The News Lens. Classy bunch:

The 1221 Coup In Myanmar: The Breaking of a Hegemonic Bloc or Business As Usual? New Multitude


U.S. calls for dialogue to resolve India’s farmers’ protests Reuters. Yikes, this photo:

The Outbreak Continues as Tet Nears Vietnam Weekly

The Koreas

South Korea’s ‘hidden’ migrant workers (video) BBC. Thread:

Africa: The only continent where political violence increased in 2020 Mail & Guardian


Countdown to ‘catastrophe:’ Inside Europe’s fight for COVID shots Reuters

Super-Rich and Punctual Switzerland Is Also Behind on Vaccines Bloomberg

Macron’s Lockdown Conundrum Will Decide France’s Recession Fate Bloomberg

Government races to reserve 28,000 airport hotel rooms as it reveals quarantine scheme will finally start on February 15, run by retired general – with : from ‘red list’ countries made to isolate for 11 nights at cost of £800 per person Daily Mail

How Trump won over Europe on 5G, cutting China out South China Morning Post


6 months after Beirut blast: Rebuilding slow, prosecution stalled Al Jazeera

How the Left Got Where It Is in Venezuela (and What to do About It) Venezuelanalysis

Corrupt firm funded by right-wing candidate will produce Ecuador election exit polls The Grayzone

New Cold War

Episode #6: Navalny, the Kremlin, and the curse of neoliberalism (podcast) Immigrants as a Weapon. “One dead giveaway that Navalny’s a neoliberal: he is not against the criminal privatization of the Soviet Union’s industries and resources that happened under Boris Yeltsin — a process that not only created Russia’s corrupt oligarchical political system but also put Putin into power.”

Russia rising: Why Vladimir Putin can’t ignore Alexei Navalny’s revolution NBC. A revolution, you say.

Senate Intelligence Committee to Examine Antigovernment Extremists NYT. “The Senate Intelligence Committee will examine the influence of Russia and other foreign powers on antigovernment extremist groups like the ones that helped mobilize the deadly attack on the Capitol last month, the panel’s new chairman said in an interview this week.”

A Plan to Beat Back the Far Right (free) Foreign Affairs

Bipartisan support emerges for domestic-terror bills as experts warn threat may last ‘10 to 20 years’ WaPo. Well, that should solve some cash flow problems….

The Q-Word: Weapon of Choice for Smearing Opponents Consortium News

Biden Transition

Biden coronavirus relief plan clears Senate budget hurdle after ‘vote-a-rama’ Roll Call. I cannot find what the income eligibilty for the $2,000 $1,400 checks is; although the Manchin-Collins amendment is part of the bill, it only specifies that “higher-income” individuals should not be included. Assuming the Democrats do the stupidest possible thing and decide anything over $50,000 is higher-income:

Biden ending US support for Saudi-led offensive in Yemen AP. “‘This war has to end,’ Biden told diplomats in his first visit to the State Department as president, saying the conflict had created a ‘humanitarian and strategic catastrophe.'” Good. Now do Afghanistan.

House removes Marjorie Taylor Greene from committees after offensive statements Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Parting Trump memo on U.S. research security seen as road map for Biden Science

Sitting on billions, Catholic dioceses amassed taxpayer aid AP

Capitol Seizure

Neither Liar nor Martyr: AOC and the Capitol Breach The Narratives Project

AOCLied hashtag hijacked by K-pop fans as they rally to the defence of US congresswoman accused of lying about Capitol riots South China Morning Post


Trump won’t testify at his second impeachment trial Politico

Intelligence Community

Diplomat’s wife accused of killing British teen was working for US intelligence, lawyer testifies Stars and Stripes. Oh. On what?

Our Famously Free Press

Platform Decision Making Authority vs Outcomes The Big Picture

YouTube Financially Deplatforms Swath Of Indie Media Accounts Caitlin Johnstone

The Marxist Rupert Murdoch Tribune

Imperial Collapse Watch

The last two decades of my life have been a nightmare without end Welcome to Hell World. Grim detail on the War on Terror.

U.S. Navy Has Patents on Tech It Says Will ‘Engineer the Fabric of Reality’ Vice

Class Warfare

Amazon Is Forcing Its Warehouse Workers Into Brutal ‘Megacycle’ Shifts Vice. Nobody seems to be praising Bezos for his innovative approach to the workplace, which is clearly a key to his “success.”

Labor Pressuring Biden Admin to Boost Amazon Union Drive in Alabama Payday Report

Alphabet Workers Union hits Google data center contractor with labor complaint: We were banned from discussing wages, say staff The Register

Class Notes: Police killings and student well-being, college attendance, and more Brookings Institution

How to Fix Our Existing Welfare State Matt Bruenig, People’s Policy Project

Mummy with a gold tongue found in Egypt Live Science. The sad outcome of Bill Clinton’s Nile cruise….

Mesopotamia and the Dawn of History Patrick Wyman, Perspectives

Interview: Liam Kofi Bright Noah Smith, Noahpinion. Wide-ranging and excellent.

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. The Rev Kev

    “Neither Liar nor Martyr: AOC and the Capitol Breach”

    This article does not do the story justice. I thought that I might have been too hard in comments the other day about what it must have been like for AOC. Being a vulnerable woman would have been no fun. I should have trusted my instincts instead. She was not even in the building under attack. She was in another building about two blocks away. To see the faces of the attackers, she would have needed a pair of binoculars. AOC tried to claim that there were attackers in her building (there weren’t) and that the buildings were connected by tunnels so attackers could possibly, maybe have found their way to her building. Also there were bombs surrounding the offices as well.

    When Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina said that her office, two doors down from AOC’s, was never “stormed,” AOC accused her of shaming “survivors” into silence. She has also been comparing her story to veterans in her district which smacks of stolen valour. Snopes tried to give her cover by claiming the story was “mostly false” but in recounting the facts, actually made it plain that it was “nearly all true.” I read that lawmakers will share their personal stories of the Jan. 6 attack on the House floor to tell their personal stories of trauma with AOC kicking off the special order hour. Bully for her.

    Because of all this, AOC has been compared to Jussie Smollett and the hashtags #AlexandriaOcasioSmollett, along with #AOCLied, trended on Wednesday. Just so that you know that your Rev is not trying to spin you a yarn, some conservative guy posted a satellite photo showing the axis of attack on the capitol building, where AOC’s office is, and where Katie Porters’s office is that she was evacuated to-

    1. Hank Linderman

      “Some conservative guy” – who promoted the Pizzagate story? A correspondent for OANN since 2018? Jack Posobiec? Is he the one?

      I looked at his twitter, the guy definitely has an axe to grind. I also looked at the map he posted, not a lot to go on without knowing more.


      1. The Rev Kev

        I didn’t like the guy either but that satellite image speaks its own truth. Feel free to research that image from a source that you like and can agree with. Even AOC admitted in her answers that that was where she was at the time of the attack.

        1. Calypso Facto

          Rev, you’re doing something I think of as ‘taking the bait’ with regards to how the American culture war sausage is made. There is a massive industry in the states around content generation for the culture war (poorly classified as ‘news’ here when it is a combination of entertainment and incitement) that is primarily funded by competing NGO, oligarchs, PACs and other not-in-good-faith enterprises. Their goal is to change public perception on whatever issue they care about. They reach this goal by flooding their media outlets with bait of varying quality. Not all of the bait will be picked up by everyone, but the goal is to get enough people to ‘take the bait’ in order to change the perception on whatever the issue is.

          AOC is a lightning rod for both side of the culture war and is the target of massive amounts of bait (just as BLM, Antifa, and MAGA are). You are seeking out justifications for this take that AOC does not ‘deserve’ to be afraid(?). Please stop and ask yourself why you, an Australian, are being asked to take an opinion on this. Could it be that you are being recruited to fight an ideological battle in the culture war? Let it go, friend.

          This dynamic has been overwhelming in American media/politics for decades. I am sad to see it be exported globally.

          1. The Rev Kev

            You have a fair point here and maybe I should cut her more slack. But I have seen this movie before. And if you think about it, I am sure that you will recognize it too as it was only about 13 years ago. As for being recruited, it is not so simple. I have been watching American politics for some twenty years or more as what happen in America gets exported around the world and I am a bit of a newshound from way back in any case. But I do know what you are talking about.

            I have a brother who watches Foxtel here in Oz. He actually records some of the biggest ratbags on Fox so that he can watch them later so has gotten sucked into the climate-change-is-a-fraud story, all “Lefties” on TV lie, and the like. If he lived in America, he would be a Republican. Now that is the recruitment that you are talking about.

            So my take is different and it is this. Here is a women who is prepared to trivialize sexual assault survivors like Tara Reade in order to add to her image. If she had said that she was at the Capitol Hill complex and was afraid of being a target I would have said OK, I can agree. Instead she made up a story that made it sound like that she was in the building under attack and hiding from those people roaming around the building. She compares her story to veteran’s stories. Uhh, no.

            But what I watch for at the end of the day is not the flaws in a person but how they vote when it comes time. And that is the deal breaker for any politician. How they vote when it comes time. This is not about trying to take down an AOC. It is more akin to holding a politicians feet to the fire. At the end of the day, you have to see these people as they are, not as the people that you want them to be and it is when they vote that you actually see them.

            1. Calypso Facto

              Believe you me I do understand the loathing of trivializing another woman’s sexual assault while using her own as a story platform for her own message. However the trick in any debate about AOC is that she has no power, and her constituency is a urban NYC. She does not have the ability to bring about any of the changes or causes she champions to any type of fruition* because she lacks real power in the governing structure she is an elected member of. The power she has is purely restricted to her very impressive command of social media, speaking directly to her audience as a content creator would (not a politician), and demystifying the political sausage for a new generation of Americans (most of whom cannot vote for her so can only ‘support’ her via social media participation or sending her money).

              So while I understand the strong desire to hold the politicians accountable, its a red herring when it comes to her, because you can’t hold someone politically accountable for a quasi-celebrity profitable persona (we have influencers in every other aspect of us society, not sure why anyone is surprised they are in politics as well – and before you fire the rage cannons at AOC for doing it, cast thy gaze on Team Red’s many entries because they’ve been doing this schtick for years with a different brand). Want to rage down about her backtracking on M4A or voting for CARES or potentially supporting a domestic patriot act on the basis of her emotional response to something that was initially labeled a ‘coup’ then an ‘insurrection’? Fine, but its like always getting pissed at Ted Cruz for the fact that Mitch McConnell runs the GOP whip like Machiavelli.

              AOC doesn’t have the power to do anything but perhaps bring Tara Reade onto the floor to speak about her experiences, and to do so would torch her potential future power. Sure, I’d respect her a lot more, but there goes any chances at a voting bloc to crush Pelosi and the rest of the catfood dems in the future. Oh, she didn’t use that power when she had the chance before? Yeah, I get it, frustrating as hell, but change is a slow drip of progress not a glorious charge to victory. She seems to be learning.

              God knows I loathe the broadcasting of personal trauma as a talking point for ‘content’ but she is far from the only person who does that, it’s very much a custom among the younger crowd. Posobiec et al are known operators within the right wing side of the culture war content factory to push their funder’s talking points. It literally does not matter what AOC does, she will be targeted because of her massive social media presence and no other reason, but while all the energy is focused on her Mitt Romney will hold hands with the Democrats and gut what remains of welfare under the guise of corona support. That’s the way this scam works, and why taking the bait is, at best, a waste of your time.

              *: yet

              1. Phenix

                Mitt Romney’s plan is more comprehensive and offers more support than the Democrats plan. Max Bruening has a comparison of the plans.

                1. Calypso Facto

                  link to pdf on Romney’s site of the proposal summary


                  The bill consolidates overlapping and often duplicative federal policies into direct support for families. In order to remain deficit-neutral and provide certainty for families, it also eliminates the State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT), which is an inefficient tax break to upper-income taxpayers. However, most families that previously claimed the SALT deduction will still be net beneficiaries through their larger monthly child benefits.

                  I don’t think Nancy is going to allow that! So How Are They Gonna Pay For It?

                  The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is simplified through a larger family benefit that does not vary depending on the number of dependents. • Eliminates marriage penalties, and creates better work incentives by slowing benefit cliffs.• Reduces improper payments and IRS audits by making it easier for families to claim the correct credit.• The adult dependent component of the EITC is separately maintained to ensure no family earns less than the EITC in its current form.

                  Once again, looting the poor. Also, this is going to be paid out of social security, so I have no doubt they’ll figure out a way to debit it from the cost of that program over time or gut it entirely because ‘too expensive’.

            2. OverOverB

              You seem to be discounting some of her votes/actions, though. If you’re just focusing on stuff like symbolic M4A votes as your main evidence but disregarding stuff like challenging Total Wine and Amazon in NY (on monopoly grounds), assisting Ro Khanna in drilling TransDigm, and assisting striking workers at Hunts Point, you are likely in confirmation bias territory.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Actually I was thing more along the lines of voting for the CARES Act last March and then trying to make out that she did not.

          2. Phillip Cross

            Yes, neatly surmised. I think you have really nailed it there Calypso.

            I have found the best way to look at “the news” is the same way you look at a Harry Potter book.

            It’s fine to follow these story lines, if you have nothing better to do. However, only a fool would get sucked in and go out and proselytize for Slytherin or Gryffindor, thinking they were going to change the outcome of the story.

            1. Basil Pesto

              it’s not even news (as I think you’re aware), it’s a human interest story, blown up into marketable proportions. The best way to react is to just ignore it and leave her engagement with her fans on instagram to her and her fans. The analysis in the original link was sound.

        2. Hank Linderman

          I’m going to wait for more info to come in before I draw conclusions; at the same time I admit that I am more sympathetic to AOC than to someone from OANN. Still, I will wait. I suspect there are several more shoes to drop.


    2. The Historian

      So AOC’s not perfect! OMG! But tell me, who is perfect? Are you? Even the person I admire most in the last hundred years, Martin Luther King, was not perfect. He too had his foibles. So what?

      I could give a rats arse about silly stories like this one about AOC. Really, on a scale of one to 10, this story isn’t even a zero. What I care about is what AOC does in Congress and while she hasn’t done everything I would wish for, she has done more for us than 99% of her peers.

      To me, THAT is what is important, NOT an obviously ridiculous story about how AOC reacted to a trauma that was different that what you suppose people who have been traumatized ought to act like. I’ve seen people react to trauma and NONE of them reacts like anyone thinks they should react, so get over this. She should be allowed to react as she needs and feels, not like YOU think she should.

      There is a lot of angst among the elite and their politicians over AOC and they are looking for any chink in her armor to drive the swords in – and they know there are a lot of people out there looking for ‘purity’ that will help them do it. So you don’t like her – so what? Why not judge her on what she does in Congress rather than judge her by some hyped up stories via the media designed not to help us, but to help themselves?

      It is so easy to get rid of progressive politicians these days because there are so many progressives out there that demand from others what they don’t demand from themselves – and then they cut their own into shreds if they deviate even slightly from some weird form of ‘purity’. I’ve seen it happen over and over and over. I can tell you I would never want to be a progressive politician because I’d have to always wear some heavy back protection, not out of fear from other parties, but from my own people! But tell me: How does taking down AOC help progressives, for that matter, any of us?

      Again repeating a line from one of my favorite movies:
      “Remember who the real enemy is.”

      1. Pat

        If AOC allows her fears to help justify and establish an increased police state because of Domestic Terrorism, a situation guaranteed to stifle real and necessary protests against government policies that increase inequality and further embed corporate control of our government, she could be my enemy in this instance.

        1. Hank Linderman

          We are all subject to our fears, but yes. Giving the state more leeway re surveillance is alarming.


        2. Abi

          LOL and Ted Cruz’s fears that drove your country to the brink of a success violent insurrection isn’t dangerous

          Whatabouism is so unique to US politics, the rest of us just say hypocrites

      2. Noone from Nowheresville

        @Calypso Facto February 5, 2021 at 9:20 am
        The Historian February 5, 2021 at 9:18 am

        AOC’s account was riveting. People can and do get triggered. People can also be unreliable witnesses. So it becomes a judgment call on the part of the viewer or jury so to speak.

        So it’s 4 weeks later and here’s AOC account from her stated triggered point of view with purposeful little aside cultural checkmark “in the know” talking points.

        I had more than a few wallbanger and “wait a minute what” moments while I was listening. They got bigger the longer I thought about it.

        AOC’s testimony is not the next day. It’s a month later and a well-considered as well as IMO practiced 90 minute personal testimonial.

        What criteria should I use to judge this testimony? Where does AOC want people to take said testimony? i.e., What is / are her objective(s) for sharing it at this particular time?

        Again repeating a line from one of my favorite movies:
        “Remember who the real enemy is.”

        Who is the real enemy again? What criteria should the collective we use to make that determination?

        1. Charger01

          Please consider that most people working in gov’t are actively hostile to your interests. They may be polite, but their day-to-day consideration do not include their constituents at all.

      3. Tom Doak

        Thought experiment:

        What if AOC had a gun in her closet, and she’d fired upon the Capitol Police officer?

        I don’t know the answer. I do know that if she actually WAS a Capitol Police officer, they wouldn’t even try her, because she would be allowed to discharge her weapon if she feared for her life from an intruder, the same law that we had so many protests about last summer. And of course, in some states, standing your ground is adequate defense [though technically she wasn’t on her own property].

        The answer seems to rely upon whom the observer identifies as “an angry mob”, and, of course, whether the listener is sympathetic to them. But it is hardly surprising that with fear being stoked every day, more people are willing to lump more other people into the angry mob.

      4. Pelham

        If she had slightly exaggerated what happened, yes, I’d chalk that up to the kind of imperfections common to us all and discount it. But taking 47 minutes to recount an event in what for all intents and purposes appears to be a highly misleading way is not such a flaw. It’s a damned and deliberate deception.

        I’m an on-and-off fan of AOC. She has no peer interrogating various malefactors in committee hearings. She’s absolutely great at that. And indispensable. But she also has an off-putting tendency to scold the American public from the lofty heights of her self regard. And now she reveals herself as a drama queen. I had hoped for better.

        As for whether taking her down a notch helps progressives, I would argue it does. It shows we’re capable of being self-critical, something that should mark us as responsible adults in the eyes of those who haven’t already bought into the program. As Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said (and I’ll paraphrase), fight for what you believe in, but do it in a way that wins over others. I submit that standing up for plain truth — even if at the cost of blemishing one or our darlings — is part of doing just that.

    3. Frank

      I feel like people are getting lost in the weeds here. A right wing mob came to her place of business looking to kill her among others. They did kill some people. They didn’t find her. She was in fear of her life. If they had figured out where she was they could have gotten to her.

      The truth is, she should still be in fear of her life. She got lucky this time. Next time she probably wont.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        What ‘people’ plural did this mob kill? The cops killed one rioter, a handful died of accidental causes, and one officer died. There are no accounts of more than one officer being killed.

        I still have not seen any definitive footage of this officer being attacked. You would think with all the cameras on the air at the event, there would be some, and quite possibly there is. I have seen photos of the officer, and footage of people being beaten with a flagpole and hit with a thrown fire extinguisher, but nothing definitively showing that any one of various people being subjected to violence was the actual officer who died.

        If anyone else has seen this, please post.

        1. Harold

          Aren’t you forgetting the policeman who died after being bashed on the head with a fire extinguisher? Frank is right. Our legislators are exposed to danger every day. Alexandria above others because of her controversial opinions and ethnic background.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            Not forgetting – that’s the one I’m asking bout. I’ve seen fewer details about the cop than any of the others who died on the 6th.

            We live in a society oversaturated with guns and we are all exposed to danger every day, largely because Congress has for decades been frightened to death of opposing the NRA. If Congress wants to feel safer, they have the power to pass laws that would make themselves and all of us safer. I would love to see AOC take up that issue.

            1. Abi

              I’m curious why you need to see the gory evidence of his head bashed in

              Like the news reports and burial wasn’t enough?

              1. lyman alpha blob

                I’m curious as to why you would take the US government or media’s word on anything.

                No, news reports and a burial are not enough. If our rights are going to disappear, you better put up some real evidence as to why.

                Sounds like you don’t live in the US though, so what’s your angle here?

          2. flora

            Do you think the US needs a “domestic terr*im” bill to respond to this? Do you think the Bill of Rights (free speech, assembly, protest, petition, religion, etc.) should be set aside (temporarily for the next 20 years) because a protest became a riot?
            Does the end (safety) justify the means (no matter what the means)?

            Right now, the Capitol looks very, very safe. It also resembles a prison.


    4. Carolinian

      Perhaps when AOC said we have “too much free speech” she was referring to people who criticize AOC. Her exaggerations are simply a part of the overall strategy of portraying the riot as an “insurrection” or coup attempt. I guess the truth no longer has a “liberal” bias which is why some of us have to turn to sites like The American Conservative to get halfway objective commentary. Ideology does not trump veracity.

      AOC initially claimed herself to be an insurgent but then helped Pelosi retain her Speakership in the close recent vote. I can’t imagine why people here are defending her or a Democratic party that is never going to reform in any significant way. But the Dems do have a solution for such carping: blame it all on Trump–at least for the next couple of weeks.

      1. Cynthia

        Keep in mind, AOC is very much part of the political establishment. And since she’s backed by Corporate America, she has no intentions of disrupting the corporate power structure. She is thus nothing more than a phony leftist who’s paid by her corporate handlers to pretend to be working in behalf of ordinary working Americans.

        What’s worse, she uses identity politics to divide Americans according to race. Which explain why she and other phony leftists aim to keep the corporate power structure intact but replace some who are at the top with so-called “people of color.”

        By contrast, a real leftist would use identity politics to divide Americans according to class. Such a leftist, a real one in fact, aims to disrupt the corporate power structure in such a way as to allow those who are NOT at the top to benefit from it as well.

        So, not only is AOC a pro-corporate leftist, she’s a racially biased one as well. Anyone who opposes corporate power and who opposes using race to divide ordinary working Americans should oppose AOC!

        1. Carolinian

          Didn’t she gain her seat by running against the Dem establishment? Seems to me it’s more a rather swift co-optation by the Dem borg. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration but some of her recent statements do not enhance her “brand.”

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > a real leftist would use identity politics to divide Americans according to class

          That can’t be done. Class is material. Identity politics is subjective (as we see now that whiteness is divorced from being, well, white).

          1. Cynthia

            In other words, according to identity politics, class is objective, while race is subjective. But isn’t being objective about the same thing as being unbiased? Conversely, isn’t being subjective about the same thing as being biased? The answer to both questions is YES, of course.

            So why can’t those who promote identity politics NOT understand that what they are promoting is biasness — the very thing they claim to oppose? Well, I think it has to do with the fact that identity politics emerged from postmodern thought, which is completely devoid of anything that resembles objectivity.

            Just look at a couple examples of postmodern architecture and you will quickly understand how an “identity politician” thinks. Actually, he doesn’t really think at all. That’s because real thinking requires that you use objectivity when you think. OTOH, an identity politician does anything but that. Since his thinking is immersed in postmodern thought, everything he thinks is immersed in subjective thought. Which makes him a fake thinker of sorts. Which explain why AOC and other identity politicians aren’t merely fake thinkers, they’re also fake leftists as well.

            A real leftist does the exact opposite. Since his thinking is immersed in objective thought, he remains unbiased in the way sees and thinks about things. His unbiased thinking enables him to understand that class, and not race, should be the main focal point of any leftist agenda. Anyone who does otherwise is engaging in fake leftist politics!

    5. Keith

      In the end, reality is overrated. The media reacts to narratives (similar to her crying at an empty parking lot). Her survival and fear narrative will continue and these pesky facts will fade to oblivion.

    6. annie

      AOC was getting email warnings the weekend before the invasion that she was in danger. On Monday, she had her car surrounded by protesters who waylaid her, which in itself can be scary. On Monday and Tuesday she went to her local grocery and found unfamiliar people with MAGA hats crowded there, causing her to decide not to leave home until time to go to the Capitol on Wednesday. (This was in her account.) AOC is always a target.
      Nancy Mace must have forgotten tweeting that she was afraid to go home so slept in her office Tuesday night and on Wednesday barricaded herself inside.

    7. Pookah Harvey

      To put AOC’s position in perspective. She hears reports that Trump supporters were marching on the Capital building. This is followed by the report that a mob had just broken into supposedly the most secure building in the country.

      Consider this from a Time Mag profile in March of 2019,

      ” in her first three months in Congress, aides say, enough people have threatened to murder Ocasio-Cortez that Capitol Police trained her staff to perform risk assessments of her visitors.”

      Exactly what should AOC’s reaction have been? How would anyone react?

    8. Aumua

      Understand that Ocasio-Cortez is the most reviled politician by the hard right. She represents the epitome of what they are told is the threat to the America they love. If that mob was going to actually kill and/or seriously harm anyone, it would be her (or her cohorts in the squad). She’s well aware of this. To me that goes a long ways toward mitigating any possible overreaction on her part.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > If that mob was going to actually kill and/or seriously harm anyone, it would be her

        So far as I know, nobody in the Capitol building was armed. (Some rioters, IIRC, left their weapons in their cars). That said, given the prevalence of gun culture on the right, any Congressperson or staffer would have been derelict to assume none of the rioters were carrying. Further, given the death threats sent to AOC, it would be derelict to assume nobody would target her.

        If you subtract the personalities and the politics what you have is:

        1) Person A receives constant death threats from Faction B

        2) Faction B is often armed (e.g., at the Michigan capitol)

        3) A mob from Faction B breaks into Person A’s workplace.

        What should Person A do and how should Person B behave?

    9. Lambert Strether Post author

      > This article does not do the story justice.

      I’m not sure how your comment reaches this conclusion, since it would have been necessary for you to read the article, which you seem not to have done. You write:

      > She was not even in the building under attack


      [R]ioters were not only focused on the Capitol building but were all over the Capitol complex, which includes her office building and the building she evacuated to. In fact, it is a lie to suggest she wasn’t in any danger when there were bombs planted mere blocks from her building.

      > AOC tried to claim that there were attackers in her building (there weren’t)


      [I]n the above clip, the Congresswoman recounts hiding in her office bathroom from what she believed to be an attacker. In the full video of the stream, this clip ends at 47:38. At 49:38, exactly two minutes after this clip ends, she tells her viewers that the person was a Capitol police officer.

      The Congresswoman was candidly telling the story from the perspective she had at the time, which, as far as we can know, included the genuine belief that her office had been breached by a violent rioter.

      However, the decision to tell the story this way—only revealing that the intruder was a police officer two minutes later—left viewers on both the left and right with the immediate impression that she had been close to being attacked or killed. …. While the Congresswoman did clarify that the intruder was an officer, the way she told the story gave an incorrect impression to people on both the right and the left regardless of her intention.

      Many of us would have preferred a timeline and a lot less emotion. But it’s one thing to say we don’t prefer her narrative approach, it’s another to say AOC was lying.

      NOTE Prosobiec? Really? Hardly a source to be recommended to the commentariat as credible.

    1. CuriosityConcern

      Sorry, this just echoes a link supplied in the main post:
      Biden coronavirus relief plan clears Senate budget hurdle after ‘vote-a-rama’ Roll Call.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Covid and the new variant.

    Its too early to tell yet, but I think the evidence from the UK and Ireland, where the new variant has been around longer, is that it definitely makes it harder to push down the curve at the back end – in other words, the outbreak is harder to damp down – but it does go down. In Ireland, cases have gone down by about 75% from the peak about 3 seeks ago, but are stubbornly refusing to go down to ‘safe’ levels, despite a reasonably effective lockdown (in general, Ireland has been fairly disciplined in its approach to lockdown). Rates have also gone down a lot in the UK, although they are not out of the woods yet. It may be that the successful vaccine push has had an impact on the UK.

    Here in Ireland a group of scientists have been pushing for a zero covid strategy, saying that the new variant will make it harder and harder to stop further peaks, even with vaccine rollout. The government is refusing to commit (partially for political reasons, as it would mean border checks). But they are creeping along that route, finally clamping down on flights (only a year late!) and insisting on longer quarantine. I think the UK is slowly moving towards that goal too, at least insofar as Johnson is capable of coherent strategy. The Tories are getting a major political bump from the good vaccine rollout policy, a lot depends I think on whether this will damp down rates, or the new variant spoils everything. There are too many unknowns.

    But from what I can see, once the new variant gets a grip in the US, you guys are in all sorts of trouble. It is much, much harder to stop it going exponential than the old variant. I suspect that tweet above is correct, and it will doom the US to at least one more major springtime surge in rates.

    1. Winston Smith

      I am sure the variant is rampant in parts of the US at this point given the lack of uniform sequencing capacity. Just ordered a large number of KF94s for grocery shopping.

      1. Carla

        I searched for and found info about decontaminating N95 masks for re-use. Not sure if these methods would work with KF94s or not. Unfortunately, the article is undated, but the advice is from Dr. Peter Tsai, inventor of the filtration fabric in the N95 mask, so it appears to be legit.

        1. RMO

          We’ve been using the “wait a few days” sterilization method. Fortunately we also don’t need to wear the masks longer than 15 to 30 minutes at a time for shopping. We’ve had to replace a few of the straps – but our N95s were from a box we had at home for a few years already which we used for jobs like sanding or going into the attic. I’ve only seen KN masks for sale once so far and just a couple of days ago I found the first new N95’s I’ve seen since the pre-pandemic days.

          Oddly enough, industrial respirator filters seem to be available. I found the organic vapor+P100 prefilter cartridges for my 3M half-mask fairly easily for example. Those would just need some sort of filtration placed over the exhalation valve to be acceptable for public use. The P100 (P3 in Europe) filters offer superior protection to N95’s and the silicone masks seal much better against the face. A full face respirator would also rule out possible infection through the eyes. It would look kind of odd grocery shopping in one but in a high hazard area could well be worth it. In case anyone feels like taking that high a level of precaution links to the full face respirator I own (and use for soapmaking) and a source for the P3 filters (and other cartridges) follow:

          Not inexpensive and they require a spectacle clip to use comfortably with glasses – but if the risk of catching covid is very high in your situation it could be worth it.

      2. Knifecatcher

        I picked up a supply of KN95s with headbands instead of ear loops for the same reason.

        And for the first time in probably a decade I’ve completely shaved my beard, as the higher filtration masks require a tight seal to the face, hence no stubble / beard. Given how common facial hair is these days I’ve been surprised how little emphasis has been placed on being clean shaven for maximum mask effectiveness.

          1. Anthony G Stegman

            That’ s not the reason. Many special forces operatives wear their hair long and with beards.

            1. skippy

              Special ops, which I was a member of, don’t carry NBC gear. Non military standard head and facial hair is allowed to facilitate mission environments in which one does not want to shout – Hi I’m in the Military – and NBC attacks are targeted on mass groups and not small ops teams. The weight alone precludes being kit when on missions when water, speed, and ammo are your critical BFF.

              Although it was funny in the RGRs that a bit of peach fuzz above the cheek bone was a demerit as well any hair on the side of the head that some Staff Sargent could pinch with his thumb and forefinger. If purchase was made they owned that head hair and would pluck it out for offending.

    2. vlade

      Ignacio or someone else may comment, but it seems to me like the half-asd lockdown strategies work wonder at providing the virus with evolutionary pressures to become more transmissive?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Ignacio or someone else may comment, but it seems to me like the half-assed lockdown strategies work wonder at providing the virus with evolutionary pressures to become more transmissive?

        One datapoint is that the new variants come from HAL (Half-Assed Lockdown) nations: Brazil, the UK, South Africa, with wide income disparities. (This would imply that the US is also breeding variants. Perhaps we are, and we don’t know it, because our ability to track strains is so miserably poor).

        Countries that have not bred variants: China, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia: NHAL (Not Half-Assed Lockdown) nations.

    3. cocomaan

      Just a rumor, but I have contacts with two local hospitals in my state of PA who say that they already have detected the UK variant, they are just mum about it.

  3. Samuel Conner

    Re: the “innovation phenomenon” reported in the Vice article — that phenomenon being “beyond cutting edge physics” promoted as a solution to the world’s energy supply concerns, my sense is that if the underlying physics principles cannot get published in a topical journal such as Physical Review, there may be something fishy going on. That the “index” publication is an engineering journal does not, IMO, inspire confidence.

    I think the funders may be disappointed, long term.

  4. zagonostra

    >U.S. Navy Has Patents on Tech It Says Will ‘Engineer the Fabric of Reality – Vice

    And yet when you voice concern about 5G or HAAP ( High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program) or point to the work of Dane Wigington at…you are looked upon as some sort of looney.

    I suppose just as when you go (or used to go) into a movie theater and there is a temporary “suspension of disbelief” there is a concomitant compartmentalization of the potential untoward consequences that can result if news stories like this one are fully played out (if there wasn’t I wouldn’t be able to finish my coffee this morning).

    Those familiar with the work of Gustav LeBon, known mainly for his work on the psychology of crowds, also did some path breaking theoretical work on the nature of physical reality at the turn of the last century, presaging the theory of relativity and Einstein’s work, he talks about the “ponderable” and the “imponderable” the latter being very much in accord with this article (

    Such high energy [electromagnetic] radiation can locally interact with the Vacuum Energy State (VES) – the VES being the Fifth State of Matter (Fifth Essence – Quintessence), in other words the fundamental structure (foundational framework), from which Everything else (Spacetime included) in our Quantum Reality, emerges.

    1. Cynthia

      The Pentagon’s efforts to ‘Engineer the Fabric of Reality’ sounds too much to me like some recent cries from the corporate press to have a ‘Reality Czar’ installed in the Biden White House in order to combat so-called “disinformation.”

      Upon further examination, though, the two don’t seem related at all. But given that the Pentagon’s primary job is to create disinformation, I’m quite certain that if a ‘Reality Czar’ were to be installed in the White House, the Pentagon will be right there to create disinformation when it favors Biden and the Corporate State and combat such information when it doesn’t favor either of them.

      1. Wukchumni

        For the immediate moment, we need a ‘Czar Dos’* to enable us to get a couple grandidos as promised by el Presidente Jose.

        * a pity Sean just passed, he would have been perfect.

      2. skippy

        News editing room in the movie Good Morning Vietnam with a panic button installed when news jock goes off script – !!!! – comes to mind.

      3. witters

        Note the second meaning…

        an emperor or king.
        (often initial capital letter) the former emperor of Russia.
        an autocratic ruler or leader.

    2. Aumua

      And yet when you voice concern about 5G or HAAP ( High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program) or point to the work of Dane Wigington at…you are looked upon as some sort of looney.

      Still sore about that are you? Well, it’s probably not going to change and that’s because the vast majority of “concern” voiced about those things truly is half-baked kooky reasoning which falls apart upon any rigorous consideration.

  5. Noone from Nowheresville

    Has AOC fired or demoted her Chief of Staff and Legislative Director yet? Given AOC’s account, clearly the Legislative Director is either worthless in a crisis or easily triggered and her Chief of Staff had no emergency protocols or extra security measures in place given AOC’s celebrity target status for the protestors at the electoral vote rally. Not to mention, AOC’s feelings of violence in the air in the days leading up to riot.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Has AOC fired or demoted her Chief of Staff and Legislative Director yet?

      Her staff seems to have been pretty good at their primary function: Winning elections. I don’t think it makes sense to fire them for something nobody on Capitol Hill seems to have been very good at. Plus, you hire a security officer. How do you know they’re not a spook or a plant?

      1. Noone from Nowheresville

        Plus, you hire a security officer. How do you know they’re not a spook or a plant?

        True of every single corporate executive and celebrity out there that needs regular or special event security. Doesn’t matter how good you are as a staff member winning elections if your leader gets taken out emotionally or physically via violence. Poof. No more primaries or elections to win.

        How do you know if they are a spook or a plant? Same question can be asked about anyone that is ever hired. Doesn’t have to be a security position for that person to be a spook or a plant. Could even be a friend or relative.

        1. Noone from Nowheresville

          As an aside: Are the staff who run congressional primaries / elections necessarily the same people who staff the congressional offices?

          I never actually thought to ask that question before.

  6. jackiebass63

    War is useful and profitable. When people get tired of one war and it is no longer useful we create a new war. That now seems to be the war on domestic terrorism. It is portrayed as something new. The fact is domestic terrorism has been around for decades.I won’t go into cases of domestic terrorism but The Southern Poverty Law Center has been warning us about domestic terrorist for as long as I can remember. Since it is now political useful this “new” war has moved to the front of the line. It puzzles and bothers me that Americans seem to be obsessed with war. I would prefer being obsessed with peace. Imagine all of the good that could have been done with the money spent on wars. We could really be number one instead of falsely claiming this status.

    1. cocomaan

      I don’t think Americans are so much as obsessed with war as they are obsessed with the media. And if the media says war is important, people listen. Or if the media picks up the meme of, “Be sad that this celebrity died”, that’s what sticks.

      Because if you turn off the media, you could go for years without knowing that there’s domestic terrorism, celebrities dying or being made, etc. etc. Many Americans do turn off the media. Most, probably, and only get their news secondhand.

      Not to get too conspiratorial, Project Mockingbird seems to put a lot of the media hyperventilating into perspective. If certain government interests drive media, media can drive The People.

      Of course, media is much more complicated than I’m making it out to be, but it’s the way I’m thinking of it at the moment.

      1. skippy

        War is spectacle and many enjoy the aspects afforded by the Colosseum from afar in validating superiority over others … see ME wars …

  7. Tom Stone

    Now, Rev, don’t be so cynical.
    I’m sure AOCis being as truthy as she can be given the circumstances.
    More seriously, when you live in an efficient surveillance state where money is speech and bribery is legal AOC is about as good as you get.

    1. The last D

      And just remember, it was in all truthy, republicans on the Highest Court who made it so. Just my two cents worth, btw.

    1. petal

      For at least the last 6+ months, my dentist’s practice has been having patients gargle with listerine for 30s before anything is done. They did not do this before covid.

      1. Anthony G Stegman

        My dentist has been requiring this for years. The real reasons for it likely varies, and can include dealing with patients with terrible breath.

    2. urblintz

      this was a no briner for me… I started regularly using listerine early in the pandemic. I can not assert that it helped but… it can’t hurt!

        1. pasha

          “briner” — i thought you were indicating that you were cognizant of similar effect of gargling with salt water! may i recommend a netti pot as well, to change the acid balance of the pharynx to render it inhospitable to virus replication. i stopped having common colds when i began regularly using a netti a decade ago

          1. Carla

            Actually, the link I provided above says that gargling with plain water reduces the viral load to some degree!

  8. The Rev Kev

    “China proposes huge PNG port to stand over Australia”

    ‘It must be stopped. The best way is via concerted multilateral engagement and militarisation of the Pacific led by the US, Australia. and New Zealand’ – David Llewellyn-Smith

    Sometimes the satire writes itself. (bangs head silently on keyboard)

    1. dftbs

      Australian interest rates are at 0%; perhaps our friendly neighborhood pension fund manager thinks a war would be just the thing to introduce some volatility into markets and allow him to meet his return targets. If not, he seems to be speaking on a topic way outside his portfolio.

    2. Synoia

      Suspecting that China is Australia’s largest customer, What is it Mr Lewellin-Smith’s opinion on keeping in one’s major customer’s good graces?

      1. skippy

        The selling of Australian businesses started in the 80s with the recession we had to have, largely to Atlantic investors, and with it consolidation up grades.

        The rub is now the Atlantic investors have extracted and consolidated flow of funds, so the only thing left is to sell on, China happens to be buying in the open markets.

        This is – now – deemed important because of perceptions about cultural values E.g. democratic liberalism … cough … where as before it was about letting the market magic happen …

  9. polar donkey

    Vaccine distribution is slowing down here in Memphis. When first started vaccinating the public, long lines at the sites. Even a week ago there were waits. Yesterday, 1,000 drive through vaccine appointments available for the day. Only 267 filled. Everyone really wanting the vaccine got it as soon as they could. The remaining people are either leery of the vaccine because of it being new or just aren’t going to get it. Less than 300 a day isn’t going to outpace the increase from B117. 2 cases of B117 found here earlier this week.

  10. Wukchumni

    Had another ‘Covid Mexican Standoff’ with my seventy something neighbors* and it ended peacefully enough, no conclusions drawn.

    The setting is outdoors, 3 chairs in a triangle each a dozen feet apart.

    We all related to feeling pretty gamy and kinda had with it playing the pandemic blues, and they talked of friends who were conservatives (tiny town is split 50/50 politically) and yeah thats alright before Covid when the only possible offense was the hosting of the hoisting of a jolly roger, er Donald.

    One fellow who is a big Trump man and fellow Vietnam vet in particular has been going to our restaurant/bar most every day where there are no masks worn by any of the staff and a good number of patrons, and they’re sad that they’re divided from him, as there’s no animosity-its strickly business.

    * She was a flower power hippie who saw Hendrix play in a bar in the bay area and lots more music acts, i’m envious of her memories.

  11. petal

    On the drive in, CBS news came on the radio and said the cheques will be limited to those making under $50,000.

    1. sd

      Let me guess, and that’s based on their 2019 income when times were good, completely ignoring the fall of income in 2020.

      1. petal

        I believe so, yes. That is what I took it as, that they will use the same data as before and base it on that.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          And the beauty is Team Blue will be pumping money into GOP districts while starving Democratic districts. Not that $50k is great, but the difference between $50k in Nova and the 757 versus really the rest of Virginia is huge. Phase outs for married couples.

          Not that they shouldn’t be helped, but yeah, Team Blue is breathtakingly stupid.

          1. petal

            I believe the report said a married couple that combined has up to $100,000 would get $2800. So individuals up to $50,000 get $1400, and married couple up to $100,000 would get $2800. Sorry for any confusion.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              I’m not worried about the number, just pointing out the Democrats under any means testing scenario would largely be denying their own districts money while gifting money to people in the same wealth class if not income in Red districts free money.

              1. petal

                Oh no worries-I was just trying to add info/be more specific as I noticed too late that I had only mentioned individuals and left out married couples.

          2. petal

            Joe Biden says ‘we can’t do too much here’ as he meets top Democrats for talks in the Oval Office after Kamala Harris breaks tie to force $1.9tn COVID relief package through Senate with no Republican votes
            “President Joe Biden said Friday that officials ‘can’t do too much’ to help those suffering from the COVID pandemic as Congress is set to approve his $1.9 trillion relief plan without Republican support.

            Biden and Harris huddled with House Democrats in the Oval Office Friday morning to discuss next steps after the Senate approved a budget measure, which required Vice President Kamala Harris to cast the tie-breaking vote.

            ‘The one thing we learned is we can’t do too much here. We can do too little,’ the president said.” Much more at the link.

            1. urblintz

              key line from your linked article:

              “Democrats point out the COVID relief plan still needs to be written, which would give Republicans time for input.”

            2. John Anthony La Pietra

              Sounds like he’s channeling Ed Asner: “And remember — you can’t put too much water in a nuclear reactor. . . .”

              (I’d put in a video link, but all of them I found in searches were blocked by NBC.”

          3. Cat Burglar

            The risk-return political calculus on the reduction of the 2k stimulus payment to 1400 is so bad, I keep wondering just who is pushing for it among the Dems. It will kill Biden’s credibility in a way that he will never recover from.

            Whoever is pushing for it has a lot of power and influence, and I cannot find any news coverage that suggests what person or group it is. But the persistence and inflexibility suggest both a political tone deafness to public opinion and a profound arrogance that seem oddly familiar…”Larry Summers…Larry Summers,” my BS detector keeps telling me…

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              The $600 means nothing to the people taking it away, and everything to the people it’s being taken away from.

              To the one, it’s the price of a good dinner at The French Laundry; to the other, the rent.

    2. Samuel Conner

      The thought occurs that it if one is going to means-test, it would be better to do so after the fact, through future tax filings. Give everyone adequate support now, and if claw-backs are wanted, collect those in future tax filings. Create a new income category — “emergency pandemic assistance” that is progressively taxed based on all other income in excess of some reasonable level. I agree that $50000 is too low.

      This isn’t hard, IMO.

      1. Tom Doak

        It’s only hard because they want it to look that way.

        I agree that it would be much easier to tax the relief later to get things right. But then some of the wrong people might feel betrayed.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The thought occurs that it if one is going to means-test, it would be better to do so after the fact, through future tax filings

        That’s it. Universal benefits + (effective) progressive taxation. We just need to follow Lord Vetinari’s advice:

        “A banker? Me?”

        “Yes, Mr. Lipwig.”

        “But I don’t know anything about running a bank!”

        “Good. No preconceived ideas.”

        “I’ve robbed banks!”

        “Capital! Just reverse your thinking,” said Lord Vetinari, beaming. “The money should be on the inside.”

        As opposed to means-tested benefits and whatever this tax system is that we have, if it can be called a system.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “A Plan to Beat Back the Far Right: Violent Extremism in America Demands a Social Response”

    And yet once again you have a menu of answers involving security, intelligence, and law enforcement practices, cleaning out members of those forces that do not agree with what you want to do, civic “education”, etc. In other words, they are trying to treat the symptoms of a society having serious problems, not the causes. I would try a different solution to dry up the ground of disaffected people.

    How about free healthcare for all citizens, monthly $2,00 cheques to support people through the pandemic, raising the average wage to about $25 and hour eventually, prioritize support to small businesses and let big business swing in the wind, tax billionaires at the same level as, say, Ronald Reagan did. You do this and give them hope and disaffected people would quickly dry up.

    Remember when America was going through the boom years after WW2 and more and more Americans could share in a good quality middle class life? Bet that there was not so many militants, militias and disaffected people back then. What we see now is not because it has to be this way (TINA). What we are seeing is the accumulated result of different groups finding it profitable to do this to average people.

    1. Wukchumni

      All former serviceman were enrolled in the ’52-20 Club’* thanks to the 1944 GI Bill, that’s $20 a week 52 times a year until you can find a job.

      Looked up the buying power of a 1946 $, and it would take nearly $14 current ones to equate, so each GI Joe got $15k.

      * you’d be sporting a ‘ruptured duck’ on your uniform

    2. ambrit

      Ah, but this makes me think of the original “Hells Angels.” Many of the returning veterans couldn’t fit right back into a peacetime society. So, they formed like minded groups of “wild boys.” Add in the mobility ensuing from reasonably cheap individual transport, ‘motorcycles,’ and you have your basic groups of troublemakers.
      Today, someone seems to have read their history and made adjustments to social policy. Now, the returning veterans who felt ‘comfortable’ around violence are given jobs in State Security. The “Hells Angels” are now ‘servants’ of the ruling elites.

  13. chris

    Are we supposed to be thrilled that Biden is repeating Obama’s habit of negotiating away all constituent requests and failing to keep promises even when there’s no need to negotiate with Republicans? I cannot believe that in the midst of a pandemic, and a real economic crisis, having just publicly promised $2000 checks, Biden is going to try and take a victory lap on $1400. Thoroughly means tested $1400 too. What a cluster.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Biden is very much like Obama but with a better sense of the moment and a knowledge Obama was a disaster. Biden is still going to listen to the same scum Obama followed, but Biden knows he needs to do something but has never done anything other than carry water for even more villainous actors. The usual suspects are of course telling Biden to do nothing but probably shovel money to the wealthy, leaving Biden likely confused. Biden will try to appease everyone and delay, hoping magically everything gets better. Biden might make more promises, but in the end, he will never follow through.

      1. urblintz

        On January 29th Biden did a very Obamaesque thing and bombed the family-blog out of Somalia. Was this reported by the MSM? Executive orders, and all that…

        “Sources reveal suspected US drones carried out a drone strike Tonight and bombed the Al Shabaab controlled town of Ma’moodow in the Bakool province of Somalia. Per Sources, the drone strike occurred at around 10PM local time…”

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Outside of morality issues, ordering the military to rough up toyota trucks in the desert is an easy thing. He doesn’t have to sell it in a situation where a Senator could use it to get a highway. When domestic politics get hard, so many failed leaders go abroad because “politics stop at the water” or some other nonsense that has brainwashed people.

          Biden like Obama’s whole schtick is that all of this easy and just needs “unity”. Totally meaningless. Obama ran out of low hanging fruit and was bright enough to back off on Syria and Ukraine limiting himself to a limited chaos, but Biden is really stupid. He might not recognize the potential for retaliation.

  14. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: The Q-Word: Weapon of Choice for Smearing Opponents Consortium News

    For a refresher, VIPS is the group that correctly debunked from the outset the bogus “Russiagate” narrative that permeated the Trump presidency. VIPS’ report was spotlighted in The Nation with a story headlined “A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack.” For that criticism, these leaders were accused of working with Russia. Fast-forward to 2021 and the exact same leaders are accused of being members of the Q brain trust.

    I read a comment on another site that directly applies. “The flak is heaviest when you are directly over the target.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the exact same leaders are accused of being members of the Q brain trust.

      Not that I’m foily, but it has occurred to me that the Q brain trust is, well, closer to home. Q fills an ideology-shaped hole in the heads of flyover conservatives who might otherwise start asking uncomfortable questions about banks and monopolies, after the fashion of Thomas Frank’s populists. Imagine if the yarn diagrams tracked money and influence. QAnon is a horribly distorted and corrupt example of “citizen social science.”

  15. Pat

    AOC is reminding me of going “home” to the Southwest after 9/11 and leading up to the Patriot Act. I was surrounded by people who saw terrorists in every corner. I ended up going on a rant where I pointed out that New York had been the site for both foreign terrorists attacks in recent history and was overwhelmingly opposed to the Patriot Act. I then laid out all the information the government had leading up to the planes that had been reported at that time and how it was eIther ignored or missed amidst the mass of information they already had and asked how the Patriot Act solved either of those two problems. My next question was to ask how the increased domestic surveillance made them safer, what guarantee was there it wouldn’t be used for criminal charges that weren’t terrorism (which already had overwhelming information they couldn’t handle) and for them to explain to me how this could be considered remotely Constitutional.

    I get scared. I have been scared. I have even been scared when rationally I should know I am not in danger. But once the adrenaline fades an adult should look at the situation and actually evaluate it without fear. AOC was not in danger. Her stunt video may have been emotionally cathartic but it does not in any way justify Congressional overkill we are seeing.

    I have thought for a while that there is a reason we do not have a clear map of where members of Congress were during the attack along with an evacuation timeline. Mostly because it would likely make clear that most were never in danger.

    The real investigation that should be taking place should be about the clear failure of the Capitol Police and security forces to have adequate procedures in place for a protest that got out of control. And no it still hasn’t been adequately explained.

    1. flora

      I thought Chuck was the camera diva of the Dem party. AOC is taking a run at beating him in his act-for-the-cameras shtick. The constantly reinforced hysteria in the MSM seems designed to keep pols infantile in response, trapped in momentary panic thinking instead of longer term thinking about civil rights and the Bill of Rights.

      Your last para is on point. Why hasn’t it been adequately explained? I think there’s a lot there to find; no one seems to want to find it, for some reason. ;)

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      This was quite the drama queen performance–maybe aoc can share cuomo’s “emmy”–but this time she may have “jumped the shark,” possibly the result of pointing a camera at yourself once too often and mistaking your every utterance for compelling.

      In her own words, from a twitterer called “Darktionary”:

      “We had gotten intelligence that there were bombs found very close to where we were. I’m thinking ‘what do we do if the building explodes, what do we do if they break into this office, and through all of this what also felt crazy traumatizing is feeling like there were people…”

      …”who were willing to do what they needed to do. G (Geraldo Bonilla-Chavez) and Katie’s staffers and others that were with us. They were making decisions to put themselves between us and any potential danger that would break into that room.”

      What’s “like” “crazy traumatizing” is watching this hysteria train barreling down the tracks gathering steam in search of some sort of relevance, and knowing it’s an elected official who’s doing it.

      1. Carolinian

        It does appear as though we are setting up for Krazytown Part Deux. Time to get back to work on that bunker.

    3. a different chris

      > Mostly because it would likely make clear that most were never in danger.

      You don’t know that you aren’t in danger in this situation until it has passed, so what difference does that make? Jesus why does this even need to be explained. This is a woman who gets to see pictures of her next to an armed MTG, who shares her working environment. Are you denying that she is at the top of those particular wack-jobs list? Every day is now scary for her. I actually expect her to drop out of politics by mid-decade as this is just crazy.

      I agree with the rest of your post, but the shot at AOC – or anybody in that situation, whether they turned out to be physically “in” that situation or not, all they know is what they’ve been told.

      And when you are told to barricade your door and keep quiet that is quite enough.

      In the 60’s, probably 1967 or 68, when I was very young we had a curfew because of the riots. I remember somehow having a picture of an an open-top cattle truck, why I pictured that god knows – full of black men coming into our little white suburban neighborhood. Said neighborhood was so far from anything like that it is hilarious in retrospect.

      But I didn’t get that from inside my head, the adults were clearly scared. They were not dumb, they were not cowards – many had fought in Korea in fact, our neighbor was flying F12s still – but all they knew was that s(family blog) was going down and they were given “shelter in place” info.

      AOC got the same info, but with her face plastered on it *and* 5 decades of increasing gun fetishism (I didn’t for example visualize my marauders as having guns at all, baseball bats and the like instead) we’re talking so many orders of magnitude on top of that it is incomprehensible for most of us to map into it.

      Funny how the go-to for so many people when they can’t understand something, is to deny it.

      1. Carolinian


        Someone tried to assassinate FDR and they were 25 feet away, not two blocks.

        During the whole ordeal, FDR appeared calm, brave, and decisive.

        While FDR’s driver wanted to immediately rush the president-elect to safety, FDR ordered the car to stop and pick up the wounded. On their way to the hospital, FDR cradled Cermak’s head on his shoulder, offering calming and comforting words which doctors later reported kept Cermak from going into shock.

        FDR spent several hours at the hospital, visiting each of the wounded. He came back the following day to check on the patients again.

        Turns out Americans have always had plenty of guns but may have once had a greater supply of courage. If AOC is really sincere about a return to the New Deal perhaps she should know that “fear itself” was not part of the package.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Come on. By this time, FDR had already dealt with his mortality and had even gone to Georgia to hawk miracle water.

          1. Carolinian

            The difference is that “share my fear” does not an appealing political pitch make unless you are counting on suppressing the opposition. I’m not criticizing her for being afraid. I’m criticizing her for playing to the hustings via a deceptive account.

            And if you are saying that AOC is too wet behind the ears to lead a successful left movement you’re right.

            It’s probably very unfashionable these days to point to Hemingway and “grace under pressure”–the mantra of FDR’s time–but weakness is not a top leadership quality. In Britain it took the “Iron Lady” to win all those years in Parliament and entrench neoliberalism..

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        sounds like certain chest thumping 13 year olds i have known:”yeah, if it wuz me, i’d go all ninja on em and take em DOWN…”

        Go meet the elephant, and then come talk to me.

        AOC’s public display of near-narcissistic anguish makes me uncomfortable, too…but i’m 20 years her senior, from another country(Texas), and grew up in a wholly different cultural mileau, mediated by very different tech platforms.
        Observing my own kids interact with their friends gives me the same squirmy feeling, sometimes….especially within Fortnite, etc.
        mores and folkways that are foreign to me.
        but i can put myself in her shoes…and easily overcome that feeling.

        1. Basil Pesto

          There’s been a certain shade of ‘keyboard warrior’ to the reaction, even here. One wonders if AOC posted here (and we are often reminded that this blog has impressive reach) whether she would be accused of fabricating, called a phony corporate leftist, etc. or would be on the receiving end of the commentariat’s famous compassion (I’m not being sarcastic when I say that).

          On the other hand, maybe I’m a hypocrite, and if it was a conservative member carrying on in a similar way, I would mock them as well instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt/just not caring that much about a contrived cause célèbre.

          Certainly my respect for Mr Linderman’s running for office has increased. A different scale and all, but it seems people really do tend to lose the run of themselves when it comes to elected officials in America.

      3. Noone from Nowheresville

        You don’t know that you aren’t in danger in this situation until it has passed, so what difference does that make?

        The difference is that that isn’t what she’s claiming.

        AOC is a celebrity politician who received what she says are credible text messages from her colleagues telling her that she was specifically targeted by the protestors for this electoral vote / protest rally. Yep, highly visible target. Without question.

        Given her account of Wednesday prior to her triggered response, do you think AOC & her staff took the described threats seriously? Heck, based on AOC self-described actions, do you think she took those threats seriously?

        If her staff is security heightened then why are office moving boxes laying about her office suites with no staff in attendance?
        Again if one believes that heightened security is necessary, why is she driving herself around after her dangerous vibe encounter in her bourgeoisie neighborhood grocery store on Monday? Why park on the street in front of the Capitol building where protestors are present on Tuesday? If she felt at risk, then why not use an escort to get back to her car rather than needing to disarm the protestors with charm? Better yet have someone else get your car?

        Parts of AOC’s narrative feels like she thinks of herself as, or is claiming to be, a normie Monday morning quarterbacking herself and the event. The appeal of that narrative is strong, especially with the real person secret reveal at the beginning.

        But AOC is not a normie. Hasn’t been for quite some time.

        The other part of the narrative claims special event driven heightened danger. Nothing she said in her testimonial leads me to believe that she or her staff actually believed that. Doesn’t mean that’s the reality. Just means that it wasn’t conveyed in the narrative.

        That’s important because she’s a celebrity politician so her words have political power and reach that normie’s words don’t.

    4. Jeffrey Chormann

      >AOC is reminding me of going “home” to the Southwest after 9/11 and leading up to the Patriot Act.

      How exactly does AOC remind you of those folks in the SW who imagined terrorists on every corner. I don’t think she imagined the rioters at the Capital.

      As for her position on the need for more domestic terror surveillance laws I think she would generally agree with you based on her own response to a tweet by Norman Ornstein at the American Enterprise Institute, calling for more laws:

      “As the Vice Chair of the Oversight subcommittee who ran investigations into domestic terror laws, I respectfully disagree.

      Our problems on Wednesday weren’t that there weren’t enough laws, resources, or intelligence. We had them, & they were not used.

      It’s time to find out why.”

      1. Pat

        For whatever reason, and both of us would be quessing, a month after the fact she has chosen to release a long teary and fearful video. This is not a rational examination of the events of January 6. It is not being used to advance the knowledge she says is necessary in the tweet you quote. No it is at a base, whether intended for this or not and personally I cannot fathom AOC not intending it, promoting fear and acting from a place of fear.

        Logically this choice disturbs me. Besides self promotion, I see only two things in the pipeline this might address. It is not going to get Trump convicted, so other than continuing the Republicans bad
        meme, it is pretty useless. The other is the the possible Domestic Terrorism legislation, and that it does help. Because it can help convince some members of the groups already balking at the idea. It plays on their not entirely unreasonable fears. If AOC could be attacked in Congress while fighting the good fight, what about me. We have to do something. Domestic terrorists are the new Muslim extremists. So I’m getting that 9/11 feeling.

        I hope I am wrong. I really do. Unfortunately I cannot shake the feeling that this will be another occasion where early AOC statements don’t track with her actions.

        1. Calypso Facto

          I feel the same grim dismay in some ways. I believe AOC is caught up in the nature of the grift* = multiple vectors are summing in the direction of domestic terror legislation, and while she may not be explicitly harnessing her personal experience (which I agree is acting from a position of fear and inappropriate at this late stage with zero continuing actions from said mob in the month since) to act to advance a Domestic Patriot Act or AU(D)MF, because she is a Representative AND ALSO has her massive social media presence with a pattern of presenting her job experience as content, the end result is the same.

          *: NB I am not saying AOC is a grifter, I’m describing this in the sense of how the very real content/outrage/culture war outrage machine works. AOC has the Insta stories weekly. There is a political meme propagating for the last month first that the riot was a coup, then an insurrection, then that it was the revanchist rump party of domestic white supremacy. AOC doesn’t operate in a vacuum, she goes to work with the catfood dems, they can keep raising the perception of fear, the twitter army keeps reinforcing it and making it real. Her experience, presented as content for her followers, is then used to advance the legislation which she may not even support (or maybe she does if she’s terrified of a domestic ISIS with her name on the kill list). The problem is the information dissemination via social media and subsequent network/financial effects, in a healthy system 1 rep’s personal fears would not be enough to alter the calculus.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            well said.
            i think we’re also falling for the savior thing, again…and if AOC doesn’t personally turn the aircraft carrier of empire around, and right quick, then she must be part of the machine/sheepdog.
            and, given the other thread, i try to put myself in her shoes…imagine what the last few years must have been like.
            targets on her back from the beginning, literal and figurative…”consultants” and old hands telling her how to play the Game …her own party conspiring against her, right out in the open, but denying that they are obviously doing so…
            how would i do in that situation?

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > i try to put myself in her shoes…imagine what the last few years must have been like.

              Most of us don’t receive death threats on a regular basis. I’m sure her staff protects her from the actual messages, but the accurate perception that there are people out there in the biomass who want to kill you and have the means to do so (I mean, not as a “industrial accident” or as part of a health care scam) must affect one’s thinking powerfully.

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                from my own experience with those cops and rednecks, 30+ years ago, it does effect you.
                i avoid all these cop-kills-black-man cell phone vids like the plague.
                lest i get drunk and crawl in a hole….and i even skip over scenes in movies about being buried and/or beaten up in the woods.(i sometimes amaze myself that i’m still able to go forth boldly, at all,lol)
                i can’t fathom having death threats like that(i have had a few in my time)

                1. skippy

                  Amfortas …

                  I went from being the runt of the class in grade 2 that got hauled off to the far end of the teachers view, near the marry go round, for a session of gut punches from the two biggest boys in my class [I did sort that in the end] to being a member of some of the hardest military can dish out.

                  Then on top of that I have traveled and worked in many occupations and observed many social constructs across class, regional, national, international vistas and all the blurry distinctions that occur.

                  As such it is my informed opinion that AOC is just a human in the flotsam of everything that proceeded her, her formative time in the place she grew up in, best as I can tell is organic in deciding to get political, for her age, due the aforementioned, and is currently trying to navigate the system as she goes to advance the betterment of those that elected her.

                  Hence its pretty absurd for some to project – their – desires on her like she as a cherry congress person has the power to reverse neoliberalism in an election cycle when both legacy parties are completely captured due to money flows and meritocratic certifications E.g. the entire system is set up as a perpetual flow of funds to feed the betters and whom can argue with wealth or its trappings … virtue dictates it …

                  Its absurd to see people take strips of AOC because she not ***pure*** and then wonder why the economic right lmmao its way off to authority …

                2. skippy

                  Basically if some want to engage in purity litmus tests, in the here and now, they are going to only give ammo to those they think they are fighting.

        2. CloverBee

          Stress can be cumulative, and she has posted regularly about the members of Congress who have indicated she should be killed trying to carry guns into the house chambers. She regularly receives death threats personally and are posted online. Other members of congress regularly retweet images of guns with statements about how she should be eliminated.

          The stress could very easily be getting to her, and the Capitol riot is a focal point because it was so immediate.

          Think of women who are sexually harassed and then assaulted, but not raped, they become very nervous and twitchy about things they used to be able to blow off. She can’t afford a security detail like Pelosi, she probably feels constantly vulnerable.

          The only people who can porbably relate to this are the soldiers who are come home to find ISIS has doxxed them and their family and offered money for their deaths.

        3. Jeffrey Chormann

          I can’t really be certain of the reasoning behind her coming out nearly a month later to say the things she did. I do remember her saying a few days after the 6th, on the 8th I think, that she feared for her life at one point but, didn’t elaborate for security reasons. At this point there was lots of pushback from many quarters saying she was exaggerating, a drama queen, and to just deal with it. IMHO I believe she felt the need to say something more to defend that original statement. Hence the long thought out version we saw the other day. There are lots of reasons to fear a domestic terror clamp down from many actors out there but, I don’t think AOC is one of them.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I get scared. I have been scared. I have even been scared when rationally I should know I am not in danger. But once the adrenaline fades an adult should look at the situation and actually evaluate it without fear.

      You’ve been getting constant death threats from a well-armed political faction, then? One with a history of whacking political opponents with gunfire? Often at the workplace?

      Personally, I wish AOC had gone out and faced them down, and I don’t like the emotional tenor of the video. But I think the first is a heavy burden to lay on anyone, and I don’t think I could meet it. And I think the second is generational. For the Instagram generation — i.e., the future voters after old codgers like me pass on — I’m sure the emotion is fine.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Building Earth’s largest telescope on the far side of the moon”

    The Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico, which was also built into a crater, could not be saved from collapsing. So how do they plan on doing maintenance of one on the moon without actually living there? And if it is on the far side of the moon, it will be out of line of sight. Which means that you would need several satellites orbiting the moon to relay that data to earth. And then you would need a space station orbiting the moon to coordinate this program. I could go on but you get the idea.

    1. Milton

      “Building Earth’s largest telescope on the far side of the moon”
      Ya but, how do we explain to China that this is an endeavor worth undertaking?

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      If you could build it, you’ve really mastered the maintenence issues as all those will have to be dealt with to build it. Hubble was deployed in orbit, not built, devising a maintenence program was essentially new. Given what the robots are already doing, it’s entirely possible. It’s just expensive relying on rockets for everything.

      Building an automated factory and hydrogen mine on the moon would be the ideal. I don’t know the mineral, element composition for mining purposes, but we can land probes on comets now. That was a huge deal.

      1. ambrit

        I think you might be thinking of ‘splitting’ the water that has been found in certain craters on the moon into it’s constituent atoms of hydrogen and oxygen.
        A manned space station orbiting the moon is not necessary to remotely run machinery on the surface of the moon. The communications lag from the Earth to the Moon is not onerous. It is the communications lag from the Earth to far flung places, like Mars and the Asteroid Belt that cause control problems.
        Deploying Von Neumann machines to the outer reaches would be an optimal solution. That would cut out the expense of building and deploying manned space habitats. [For journeys that far out, which would, at our present stage of technical competency, take fairly long periods of time, habitats would be needed. People cannot abide close confinement for excessive periods of time. Just look at the prison tactic of solitary confinement. That is really a form of psychological punishment.]
        For Von Neumann machines etc.:

    3. Basil Pesto

      well, they made the point in the article:

      Building such a telescope on the moon is, in one sense, easier. The lower gravity on the moon means a larger structure can be built with lighter materials. No atmosphere means no windstorms or other earthly environmental risks, though there are challenges from the moon’s harsh temperatures.

      I suspect the structure would be subject to less abuse generally compared to the Puerto Rico telescope, but the temperature issue would mean careful selection of materials would be required. Presumably they would use robots for maintenance like they would with construction. I can’t speak to the other issues. It’s certainly ambitious.

      1. Tom Doak

        What about the meteors that made all those craters? They don’t burn up in the moon’s atmosphere.

        1. Basil Pesto

          as per RMO below, I believe they were made over a verrrry long time. Not impossible but not enough to put the kibosh on the idea.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Lots of little stuff still impacts the surface daily and I would not be surprised to learn that the Apollo gear left on the moon has not been hit over the decades by micro-meteorites. There is also the direct radiation and the American flag left by the Apollo 11 crew would be sun-bleached white by now which is a shame.

        1. RMO

          No, that’s not likely to be much of a problem given the rate at which the surface of the Moon is struck. A square kilometer of surface for example would see a marble sized meteorite strike at a rate of about one per thousand years.

          Satellite relay could be accomplished by one satellite at a Lagrange point.

          Just putting a scope in orbit would seem to be simpler unless a lot of use was to be made of materials on the Moon though. Shielding from the radio emissions from Earth could be accomplished by putting the orbiting scope at the L2 Lagrange point.

    4. Mel

      “… line of sight …”

      The Chinese solved that problem brilliantly by putting a comm-link satellite in orbit around the Earth-Moon L2 Lagrange point, where it could see Earth past the Moon. Everybody interested in space exploration should be made aware of this.

  17. Andrew Watts

    RE: Hong Kong to teach children as young as six about subversion, foreign interference

    That’s sounds horrible and awfully familiar. When I was in grade school the State tried to convince my classmates to tell on anybody that possessed, used, or sold drugs. A police officer attempted to train us in surveillance and how to be a good informant They gave us all t-shirts that said “D.A.R.E.” which was also pretty cool. I’m sure that this program was a resounding success considering the only people wearing these shirts in public would be labelled as potential snitches.

  18. rowlf

    As much as I welcome President Biden’s desire to reduce US involvement in Yemen, after the last administration’s experience trying to reduce military involvement around the world I think we should wait and see if the uniforms and suits below the President let it happen this time.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > we should wait and see if the uniforms and suits below the President let it happen this time.

      I did note the qualification that Biden’s policy applied to “offensive operations.” No doubt the spice will flow into another channel, “defensive operations.”

      Now, if Biden followed up with food and health care for the Yemenis, that would help,

  19. Maxwell Johnston

    “Russia rising”: the article is better than the shrieking headline, pretty nuanced and IMHO accurate. The glory days of booming commodity prices and vibrant economic growth are gone, and VVP et al don’t seem to have a Plan B. The crackdown on Navalny runs counter to the Russian govt’s official position (i.e., that Navalny is an unimportant blogger, “the Berlin patient”, low popularity ratings, etc.). If he is unpopular and unimportant, then why not let him run his mouth off? And if VVP is securely in power, then why the end-year rush to pass the law giving him and his family members permanent legal immunity?

    Confident regimes do not behave this way. Methinks something is afoot behind the scenes.

    1. Polar Socialist

      Because he actually broke the rules of his probation and that is law in Russia works?

      As we now know, from the trial, he broke his obligation to report to his probation officer even before leaving the country on come, because the reporting day was changed and he thought the “system sucked anyway” (his words, not mine).

      During the trial the prosecutor actually asked him if he understood, as a graduate of the law, that breaking probation rules would have consequences. He refused to answer. Then the prosecutor pointed out that Navalny was the only Russian that had two suspended sentences at the same time and that the judicial system had showed exceptional lenience toward him. Navalny refused to answer.

      This is not a crackdown. This is the judicial and penitentiary officials finally coming to the conclusion that Navalny will not imporve his behavior, and the government not interfering on behalf of Navalny.

      And the “immunity” law in actually on concerns only Madvedev at the moment. Yet nobody is asking why “Putin” (Duma makes the laws, not president) granted him “immunity”. I do put quotes on the word, because it will still be possible to prosecute ex-presidents, it will just be almost as difficult as prosecuting presidents in USA.

      1. Maxwell Johnston

        I’m impressed by your apparent confidence in the fairness and impartiality of Russia’s legal system. Many people would disagree with you, not only Navalny (who is hardly a favorite of mine). Anyway finding someone in technical violation of a law is child’s play in Russia. As Beria said long ago: “Show me the man, and I’ll show you the crime.” And yes it is a crackdown, given the many arrests and the authorities’ willingness to disrupt ordinary people’s lives in order to deter these rather small protests. The center of Moscow was largely shut down last Sunday, including metro stations and parking areas. It’s overkill on the government’s part.

        As for the immunity law, everyone understands perfectly well that this is for Putin. Medvedev is not taken seriously in Russia, as he is seen not as an independent player but solely as Putin’s loyal dog. But you’re right that the immunity law isn’t ironclad and can be overturned: which again makes me wonder why it was enacted in the first place.

        1. Polar Socialist

          According to the statistics (which I’m too lazy to dig up right now) Russian do trust their legal system more every year. There have been recently many cases where citizens have prevailed against government in courts.

          That could be why Navalny’s lawyer said in the beginning that he and Navalny do indeed trust the court to be impartial. While Russia may not be the shining example of fairness and impartiality, it’s not the Russia of Beriya or Yeltsin anymore.

          Police doing crowd control by limiting access to place of unauthorized protest is not really a “crackdown”. At least not anywhere else in the world. Maybe in Russia it is.

          The point of immunity law was, I gather, to codify the immunity of former presidents earlier only in the Federal Law (since 2001) into constitution like it is in most countries that have such a thing.

    2. Duck1

      I read the link and didn’t see any evidence that there was an “end of year rush”. It seemed to me that the parliament was codifying the constitutional changes made earlier in the year by popular vote.

      1. Maxwell Johnston

        You may be right. I wasn’t aware that the ex-presidential immunity clause (and especially the part concerning family members) was part of the constitutional changes from last summer. The media focus was on allowing Putin to serve two more presidential terms, but there were many other amendments that didn’t get much publicity and slipped through the cracks so to speak (and of course it was an ‘all or nothing’ referendum). The actual Duma debate and vote on this immunity law (in November/December last year) did get a lot of media attention. Of course it passed easily, but there was a surprising amount of discussion and opposition (by the Duma’s tame standards).

        1. Duck1

          The article clearly says:
          The legislation was part of constitutional amendments that were approved this summer in a nationwide vote that allowed Putin to remain president until 2036. He would otherwise have had to step down in 2024.

          Doesn’t seem ambiguous to me.

  20. Jason Boxman

    The Amazon megacycle is more collateral damage as the company continues to goose the dopamine high from instant gratification. Outside of some life threatening emergency, what convenience requires same day, next day, or even second day shipping? The profits from this are ground out of the bodies of human beings. This is plain to see to those of us outside Amazon’s corporate offices.

  21. Wukchumni

    COME THE SECOND DAY OF FEBRUARY, each and every year? An adorable ambassador of seasonal prognostication makes a much-anticipated return, all to let us know when we can expect spring to begin. It’s a huge mantle for a little ‘hog to wear, but Punxsutawney Phil, the world’s best-known marmot meteorologist, is always up to the task of seeing his shadow (or not). And while we wouldn’t want to compete with the Pennsylvania-based superstar, spotlighting the furry fact that California is home to groundhogian fauna seems like a fine and factual thing to do come Feb. 2, or, really, any day of the year. Marmots don’t own calendars, after all, and you just might see the charming, roly-poly animals while hiking in the Sierra Nevada, whatever day you’re there.

    FOR THE DIMUNITIVE BEASTIES… do call Yosemite National Park and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks home, meaning you may come across one while on a nature stroll (or, yes, in or around your car, for they have been known to snack on radiator hoses and other essential parts). If you do spy a yellow-bellied marmot while calling upon a high meadow or Half Dome, give the critter plenty of clearance, as you would with any other national park denizen, be they antlered, winged, or rocking some notably big teeth. (One could also say that the marmot has “gnaw”-tably big teeth, if one felt so inclined.) You can sometimes spot them on the parks’ live cams, and they’re featured in this Yosemite Conservancy “Caught on Camera” compilation, along with bears, big cats, and the other animals that call the national park home.
    Sure, the Marmot Cong are doing the big sleep now (one of the longest duration of any hibernators) but don’t think they aren’t scheming up new ‘hit & waddle’ attempts on unwary radiator hoses, while counting Z’s.

  22. QuicksilverMessenger

    The article on “The last two decades of my life have been a nightmare without end”. I had to stop reading it. I have found that for me, as we usually are, we say we know how cruel and insane the world is, becoming cynical and jaded, understanding it in a way, but then sometimes one gets hit directly in the solar plexus by the absolute madness and pure suffering in the world. I don’t know what to say, maybe there is nothing to say. Maybe there is only recognizing the reality of the situation and to let it truly penetrate. I know, I see, that there is also beauty and joy and in the world. But the sorrow is seemingly bottomless

  23. Tomonthebeach

    Those sinful Catholics? The AP hit piece seemed nasty for no reason. Because a diocese had money in the bank, accepting Federal cash for paycheck protection like any other wealthy organization, ya know like ABC, InBev, Facebook….. is somehow a sin? They should have gone broke?

    Yes, the Church portfolios skyrocketed just like any other organization that invests in WS. So Catholics are being pilloried for good fiscal management in contrast to their Protestant colleagues who didn’t do so well.

    OBTW, AP barely touched on the fact that most big-city dioceses like Chicago, which supports 7 large hospitals and medical centers, as well as 217 schools, have huge payrolls, unlike Protestant organizations. That is way more than Protestant equivalents. That is a sizeable payroll of unemployed teachers. Also, it is much harder to get financials from Protestants because they are organized differently in size and structure from Catholics.

  24. Tomonthebeach

    Why is Bruenig proposing a welfare state model this is basically junk? Right off the bat, he proposes setting the SSA retirement age at 65 which, of course, ignored that the majority of Americans currently retire at age 62 – 4 years earlier than the 66 age for full benefits. Anybody familiar with SSA programs can see that Bruenig is merely re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as most of his blueprint has obvious negative unintended consequences – or maybe they are intended.

    My best guess is that it was meant to reassure the GOP that the anticipated Biden/FDR overhaul will be a nothing burger – without even any pickle relish.

  25. pjay

    Re: ‘Senate Intelligence Committee to Examine Antigovernment Extremists’ – NYT. “The Senate Intelligence Committee will examine the influence of Russia and other foreign powers on antigovernment extremist groups like the ones that helped mobilize the deadly attack on the Capitol last month, the panel’s new chairman said in an interview this week.”

    I know this stuff is old hat to NC readers, but I’m surprised that this article has not elicited any comment (as of this posting at least). Frankly, the level of McCarthyist “enemy within” crap is really starting to bother me. Though I understand the interest, the debate on AOCs sincerity does not seem nearly as important. In fact, it seems like the type of circular discussion that could *distract* us from what is important. Only my opinion, of course.

    1. Andrew Watts

      Uhh, there’s no way they wern’t going to take a look at domestic extremism after the Capitol storming. It won’t be focused strictly on that though. There are other issues on their radar. Federal law enforcement arrested Dan Baker who was a former volunteer with the YPG.

      He was apparently involved with CHOP in some limited capacity too.

      1. pjay

        I have no problem with looking at “domestic extremism.” But that’s not what this is about. Do you actually think *Russia* was behind this? Or any other “foreign power”? But they do have to justify this:

        “By law, the most influential agencies, including the C.I.A. and the National Security Agency, are not allowed to collect information domestically. But Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, has some oversight of the intelligence arms of the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security, which can collect information domestically. Other intelligence agencies look at foreign attempts to influence American groups.”

        I don’t doubt there were some dangerous a**holes at the Capitol. But they are not the primary danger at a national level. Only my opinion, of course.

        1. Andrew Watts

          I don’t think they’re solely focused on the Capitol incident or Russia. Warner said that the Committee would be looking at left-wing groups as well as the right. Which is why I brought up the arrest of Baker. It’s pretty much guaranteed the Syrian Democratic Forces, and YPG, will come to their attention in a slightly embarrassing light thanks to him.

          Incidentally, this kind of angry response is exactly the reason why I didn’t comment about it. The bland fanaticism of liberals isn’t an interesting topic. As far as the intelligence community goes, that’s what bloated and inefficient organizations do. They engage in mission creep, as well as threat inflation, for more money and bigger budgets

  26. BMW DOG

    Well I just appreciate the dog photo. Makes me smile after all the BS that I searched through today.

  27. Abi

    Wow, I’m very shocked at the comments analyzing how AOC reacted to the whole event. I don’t know about policing people reactions. Like what does it even matter to you? Just using it as another confirmation bias? Good lord!

    This is the kind of discourse I don’t like. It’s very poor please let’s do better.

    1. Yves Smith

      I think you’ve missed that this is a huge topic on Twitter (and I assume FB), so it is not as if we are alone. The fact that KPop interevened on Twitter in favor of AOC confirms how much play this is getting. I agree that this seems overblown, but the younger generation is big on social media and also big on emoting = authenticity, which as WASP I have difficulty relating to (WASPs see emotional displays a sign of either imbalance/lack of self control or manipulativeness).

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