2:00PM Water Cooler 3/2/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Mockingbird, Argentina (and not for Operation Mockingbird. Sometimes a bird is just a bird).


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

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

Vaccination by region:

Oof, again. Why the heck is this happening? Falling vaccination rates aren’t part of the narrative right now at all. The fall can’t be storm related, because we already had a spike after the storms passed. Hopefully we haven’t reached a demand ceiling, well before the level needed for herd immunity. But from The Hill: “41 percent say they are not willing to receive coronavirus vaccine

Forty-one percent of voters said they are not willing to get the coronavirus vaccine, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris poll released exclusively to The Hill on Monday. The same survey found that 59 percent of respondents said they were willing to receive the vaccine. Among those who said they were unwilling to get the vaccine, 66 percent said they were concerned about side effects, while another 33 percent said they did not believe it was effective. Twenty-seven percent said they were not concerned about the virus, 23 percent said it should go to more at-risk individuals and 17 percent said they had health concerns.

“The single most concerning number in this moths poll is that 4 in 10 of those who have not been vaccinated do not want to take the vaccine. This includes 60 percent of Black voters,” Harvard CAPS-Harris polling director Mark Penn told The Hill.

And oof, again. Bloomberg:

With three approved coronavirus vaccines, the U.S. will be able to ramp up supply in the coming weeks but still has work to do in persuading the public to get the shots, said David Kessler, the new chief science officer for the federal government’s coronavirus response.

“We’re going to go from a supply problem to a demand problem,” Kessler said in a conversation with the PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff at the CityLab 2021 conference, hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Aspen Institute. “We need to make sure that all people can trust the safety of the vaccine.”

I know what to do; let’s scold and shame people for being stupid. Or — here’s an idea — let’s wheel in some celebrities. Dolly Parton? One thing I do know is that the Biden Administration has no single point of contact with the public for Covid information (and messaging). We’ve got Fauci swanning around doing his thing, but he’s just one person. For awhile, Trump did this, executing a good idea badly. Politico:

A week into his presidency, Joe Biden made the confident prediction that any American who wanted a Covid shot would be able to get one by spring.

By his fourth week, that timeline had slipped to mid-summer. But as the administration prepared to authorize a third coronavirus vaccine, and with a surge of doses on the horizon, Biden last week debuted a new target: widespread vaccine availability by April.

The mixed messages risk sowing confusion across the country as the nation enters the second year of the pandemic, testing the administration’s ability to overcome still-significant pockets of vaccine skepticism and make good on its pledge of large-scale immunization within Biden’s first 100 days in office.

“On this score, I think the communication has been very uneven,” said Ezekiel Emanuel, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania who advised the Biden transition. “There’s been some uncertainty, and because there’s a wide variety of estimates here, you get people at different times taking either the optimistic view or the pessimistic view and going out with that.”

The messaging challenge is now set to play out as millions of doses of newly authorized Johnson & Johnson vaccine head to state health departments, pharmacies and community centers.

Thing is, this is the Obama Alumni Assocation. They’re supposed to be competent West Wingers. Remember all those planning groups during the Presidential Transition? Whatever happened to them? Weren’t we supposed to hit the ground running? (And if Ezekiel Emanuel is handing out those quotes because he’s angling for the job of Covid Communications Czar, I will be very upset.)

Case count by United States region:

A little uptick in the South, with the Northeast flattening.

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

Texas uptick, with an assist from New York.

Test positivity:

Decline is flattening across the board. Weather? Variants? Regional averages approach 3%, which is what we want to see. (Alert reader TsWkr pointed out it’s time to update my test positivity comment, which I just did.) This is very good from Yahoo News.

As the effort to vaccinate Americans intensifies, daily COVID-19 test numbers are falling nationwide, an alarming sign to public health experts who say the tests are still crucial to containing the virus.

The lead is in the final paragraph:

“We need to have these tests be single digits in the $5-dollar range for them to be affordable for many, if not most Americans,” said Mara Aspinall, an advisor to the Rockefeller Foundation and professor of practice in the biomedical diagnostics program at Arizona State University. “You can get a pregnancy test at Dollar Tree for a dollar. We’re not going to get there, but we need to be close.”


Hospitalization is discretionary; they may also be reducing their admissions rate — relative to cases we cannot see in this data! — to preserve future capacity; or because hospitals have figured out how to send people home.

Case fatality rate (plus deaths):

That rising fatality rate in the West (red) is what worries me. Now it’s at it’s highest in over a year. Of course, the uptick in deaths isn’t good news either.


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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

Biden Administration

“It’s the Senate’s turn on covid relief” [Politico]. “Before the House took up the [coronavirus relief page], Democratic committee leaders quietly stripped out language in the bill that would have authorized federal payments to farmers who lost crops to natural disasters including ‘high winds or derechos,’ like the powerful wind storm that flattened Midwestern cornfields last August. Pros will recall that the provision was added during a House Agriculture Committee markup last month, when Iowa Democrat Cindy Axne voted with Republicans to adopt an amendment from Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-Iowa) — one of the only cracks in Democrats’ effort to avoid substantial changes to the legislation.” • Great job. Those toothless [family blogging] rural oafs will never vote for you now!

Biden Walkbacks: Psaki crawfishing on the $15 minimum wage:

This goes on for a long time. The questions are pretty good. The press is being less obsequious to Biden than I expected.

Biden Walkbacks: “Biden Betrays Puerto Ricans One Month Into His Term” [Jay Fonseca]. “On September 15, 2020, then candidate Biden went to Orlando, FL to persuade the ever growing pool of Puerto Rican voters in the region to tip the battleground state his way. He promised plenty of benefits to boricuas, including the long sought after Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is part of the Social Security coverage that is available to Puerto Rico residents as soon as they move to any state, but the federal government refuses to pay in the Island…. [Biden] pledged to withdraw the Trump-era appeal pending before the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a Court of Appeals decision in United States v. Vaello-Madero, No. 19-1390 (Apr. 10, 2020), that declared that Congress’s exclusion of SSI to Puerto Ricans in the island was unconstitutional…. Biden failed to see the promise through and now the Supreme Court will examine the petition. If the Supreme Court reverses the holding of two federal courts, Puerto Ricans will continue to be excluded from billions of dollars in annual benefits under that program alone… Biden’s betrayal is surprising as it comes only a few weeks after a group of prominent members of Congress reminded him of his campaign promise in Florida. Nydia Velázquez, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Raúl Grijalva, and others asked the President in a letter dated February 16, 2021, to uphold the Constitution and revise the Trump administration outdated arguments that discrimination was justified under the authority exerted by Congress over the territories. In fact, Raúl Grijalva is the Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee that has jurisdiction over the territories. President Biden ignored the letter and his promise. ”

Biden Walkbacks: “Biden campaign promises head for the Senate graveyard” [Politico]. “Democrats are looking at a serious hangover once they celebrate getting Covid relief signed into law — courtesy of the Senate filibuster. During a private meeting with her leadership team Monday night, Pelosi laid out plans to turn her chamber the next two weeks into a factory for Democratic priorities. They’ll move everything from election reform to a policing overhaul to gun control, plus women’s and union rights and a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. They’re all things President JOE BIDEN campaigned for, and they’re all DOA in the Senate. Some may not garner even a single Republican vote, let alone the 10 needed to break a filibuster…. Pressure on Democrats from progressives to kill the filibuster is sure to mount as the party’s unfulfilled promises pile up. But lest we need a reminder, Sen. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.), when asked Monday whether he’d ever change his mind on changing the supermajority rule, barked ‘NEVER!’ in response. ‘JESUS CHRIST! What don’t you understand about NEVER?!'” • Dang. I wish that Obama, when he orchestrated Biden’s selection, had informed us we weren’t really voting for Biden. We were voting for Manchin. So it goes.

Republican Funhouse

“Trump: ‘I can’t imagine’ any Republican would beat me in 2024 primary if I run” [The Hill]. “Former President Trump said in an interview released Monday that he believes it is unlikely any Republican would be able to beat him if he ran for president again in 2024. ‘I can’t imagine it if I decide to do that — I haven’t decided to do that,’ Trump told Newsmax’s Mark Halperin on Sunday. ‘I’ve done a good job for this party,’ he said. ‘We had the greatest economy in history and then we rebuilt it a second time and the foundations were so strong that no other country can even compete with us.'” • Needs a better narrative on Covid. And because he doesn’t have one, he’s not surrounded by a good team of operatives.

Our Famously Free Press

“Biden won’t release White House virtual visitor logs” [Politico]. If the White House Corps is considering actually covering the White House, this would be good data to have:

Asked and (a month later) answered.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Massive investment in social studies and civics education proposed to address eroding trust in democratic institutions” [WaPo]. “The Educating for American Democracy (EAD) initiative will release a 36-page report and an accompanying 39-page road map Tuesday, laying out extensive guidance for improving and reimagining the teaching of social studies, history and civics and then implementing that over the next decade.” • I’d like to believe this isn’t a grift; interestingly, the funding began two years ago, i.e. under the Trump administration. Here’s the About page. Readers?

No wonder HR 1 is first in line:

Now, this is a mean tweet:

Stats Watch

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

Housing: “January 2021 CoreLogic Home Prices: Appreciation Reaches Double Digits This Month” [Econintersect]. “CoreLogic’s Home Price Index (HPI) home prices experiencing its first double-digit annual appreciation since November 2013…. Price growth exceeded my forecast for the year – home prices are continuing very strong.”

Housing: “An In-Depth Look at Mortgage Forbearance Data” [Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta]. An interesting new tool for housing mavens. This nugget: “A final observation is that areas economically exposed to the pandemic are using forbearance at a high rate, and this is particularly true for areas heavily reliant on leisure and hospitality. In fact, among the core-based statistical areas (CBSAs, also known informally as “metro areas”) that had the highest forbearance usage rates in October 2020, six of the top 15 CBSAs (with more than 10,000 mortgages) are popular tourist destinations: San Juan, Miami, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, New Orleans, and Orlando. (We can also see that four of the top five in this list are metro areas in Texas that share a border with Mexico; cross-referencing a 2015 map of the low-income, unincorporated colonias settlements in these areas seem to overlap with what MAPD reports as the highest ZIP code-level rates of forbearance in Laredo, McAllen, Brownsville, and El Paso.)” • Hmm. Are those also the Texas border counties that went for Sanders, and then Trump?

Manufacturing: “United States ISM New York Index” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM New York Index decreased to 35.5 in February of 2021 from 51.2 in January. The reading pointed to the steepest contraction in business activity since May.”

Leading Indicators: “March 2021 Economic Forecast – A Small Step Back” [Econintersect]. “Econintersect’s Economic Index forecast sees a modest slowing of the economic rate of growth as consumers do not yet seem to be prepared to spend. The media/government message machine is spinning the variants as a potential bomb reinforcing the message to consumers to save for the oncoming rainy day – even though the current rapidly expanding COVID vaccination program should be cause for a rosier message.” • Or not; see the Covid section above.

Economic Optimism: “The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index in the US rose 3.5 points to 55.4 in March of 2021, the highest since February 2020 before the Covid-19 shutdown. The six-month outlook for the US economy picked up to 53.2 from 49.5, returning to positive territory for the first time since October 2020. Also, the personal finances subindex, a measure of how Americans feel about their own finances in the next six months, climbed” [Trading Economics].

* * *

Marketing: “STUDY: Almost 40% of U.S. Consumers Trust Online Reviews Less Than They Did Five Years Ago” [Reviews.com]. “The Reviews.com consumer research team conducted a study on trends in consumer trust in online reviews. A survey conducted on 1,044 U.S. residents about their confidence in consumer reviews found some notable trends. 44% of consumers say they trust online reviews about the same as they did five years ago…. A trend of deteriorating trust is likely accelerating, with 60% of respondents saying they think the quality of online reviews is decreasing. In 2017, 84% of U.S. consumers reported trusting online reviews. Comparing this to the above research, it’s obvious a large decline in trust is occurring.” • Of course, the solution is to use Reviews.com! Nevertheless….

Retail: “Dollar Stores And Reinvention Of Rural Retail” [The American Conservative]. “But I had something of an epiphany when I took a long road trip down U.S. Route 11 in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Just south of the small town of Buchanan, I was idling in a strip mall parking lot waiting for some Chinese take-out. I wandered into the dollar store anchoring the little plaza, which had a name I hadn’t quite seen before: Dollar General Market. This was a regular Dollar General with a miniaturized supermarket attached. Fresh meat, veggies, and a much fuller line of canned and frozen goods than the perfunctory shelves and freezer in an ordinary location. It turns out the Market concept was launched all the way back in 2003, but from 2007 to 2010 it did not add any new locations…. If you’re not finding this fascinating, I’ll spell it out: The Dollar General Market is a tiny version of the “supercenter.” The combination of discount retail with grocery has its origins in the 1950s and ’60s, when a number of now-defunct retailers experimented with it. (Chains like Korvette’s, Two Guys, and Great Eastern Mills included supermarkets in at least some locations; some of these embryonic supercenters were nearly 200,000 square feet). However, it turned out that grocery and discount retail were very different industries, and it was not until the 1980s that Walmart cracked the code, and the supercenter went mainstream.” • As I’ve said before, it makes me crazy that TAC is the only political journal that regularly covers the built environment.

Finance: “‘Stakes are high’ for the financial system to address rising corporate debt, Barclays CEO warns” [CNBC]. “The IMF warned that almost 40%, or around $19 trillion, of the corporate debt in major economies was at risk of default in the event of another global economic downturn.”

The Bezzle: “Uber Spins Off Robotic Delivery Unit, Takes Stake in New Startup” [Bloomberg]. “Uber Technologies Inc. is spinning out Postmates’ delivery robot operation into a separate startup, marking another chapter in the ride-hailing giant’s attempts to narrow its focus and become profitable. Uber will co-lead what’s likely to be a $50 million investment in the new delivery startup, Serve Robotics, which will bring food, groceries and other items to Uber customers without human intervention. Uber will be a minority shareholder in Serve Robotics, the companies told Bloomberg. The new startup will be led by Ali Kashani, who runs the robot deliveries unit for Postmates, which Uber acquired last year. Serve Robotics will start with about 60 employees and will be based in San Francisco, operating independently from Uber but retaining close ties with its former parent company.” • Whatever that means. Who said Uber was ever about making a profit? Uber’s goals are social, like destroying public transportation, creating an entirely new class of precarious workers under Proposition 22, etc. Uber is like what Molly Ivins once called Texas: the National Laboratory for Bad Government, except servicing billionaires directly, instead of through what we laughingly call “our democracy.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 63 Greed (previous close: 66 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 57 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 2 at 12:18pm.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so high is better.) You’d think there were Beast Government implications from the Biden Adminstration; apparently not.

Health Care

“The Trump administration quietly spent billions in hospital funds on Operation Warp Speed” [STAT]. “The Trump administration quietly took around $10 billion from a fund meant to help hospitals and health care providers affected by Covid-19 and used the money to bankroll Operation Warp Speed contracts, four former Trump administration officials told STAT. The Department of Health and Human Services appears to have used a financial maneuver that allowed officials to spend the money without telling Congress, and the agency got permission from its top lawyer to do so. Now, the Biden administration is refusing to say whether the outlay means there will be less money available for hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, and other providers.” • Stoller comments:


“Rivers and lakes are the most degraded ecosystems in the world. Can we save them?” [National Geographic]. “Around the world, rivers, lakes, and wetlands have increasingly come under similar assault from poorly planned dams, pollution, habitat loss, sand mining, climate change, and the introduction of invasive species. The result, as laid out this week in a report by 16 conservation organizations, is that freshwater ecosystems have become the most degraded in the world, with fish populations pushed to the brink. There are more kinds of freshwater fish—18,075 and counting—than there are fish species living in the oceans and seas. Freshwater vertebrate populations have declined by 86 percent since 1970—twice the rate experienced within terrestrial or marine ecosystems—and almost a third of freshwater fish species are now threatened with extinction. Yet it’s a crisis that has received far less attention than other environmental emergencies—like deforestation or plastic pollution—despite human reliance on freshwater systems for drinking water, food, and sanitation.”

Our Famously Free Press

“NYTimes Peru N-Word, Part One: Introduction” [Donald G. McNeil Jr.]. This is a four-part piece I’m going to have to read carefully; it’s McNeil’s story how the Times fired him for remarks made in Peru; he was the Times’ lead reporter on Covid at the time. But after a humorous introduction, McNeill throws down the gauntlet: “For accuracy’s sake, I will write mostly from email exchanges or, when I’m recounting conversations, from emails I wrote soon after them. My memories of what happened in Peru are based largely on long emails I wrote to my union rep during the 2019 investigation. I’ve had this whole narrative vetted by two lawyers.” • Greenwald comments:

One very obvious moral of the story is never enter into identity politics-related discussions in the workplace; it’s worth your job. (Unless, of course, you’re in a room with a consultant that HR has just wheeled in; then, say what you have to say.)

Grab some bench, rook:

Zeitgeist Watch

“The wealthy are borrowing billions against their art collections and lenders are reselling the debt” [CNBC]. • I knew Jeff Koons was good for something.

“Sneakerheads Have Turned Jordans and Yeezys Into a Bona Fide Asset Class” [Bloomberg]. “Flipping sneakers has been a viable business proposition for decades.” • Same story, different commodity.

Guillotine Watch

“This Is the Coat to Wear to Davos” [New York Times]. “[Former commodities trader Michael Berkowitz] also learned how to create collars that zip from the chest area and have a separate flap. That technique creates high necks so you don’t feel as if you’re being choked. Both are signatures of all Norwegian Wool products.” • The problem at the neck won’t be choking. (To be fair, I love well-made products that last. But $1,000 to $3,000 coats for Davos…. That ain’t it, chief.)

“Delta hands out bonuses to managers whose pay was cut in the pandemic” [CNBC]. • Because of course they did. Layoffs are stressful: “Delta reduced managers’ pay last year during the Covid pandemic and cut thousands of workers’ hours by 25%.”

Class Warfare

Tactically interesting:

A stoplight on the way to the workplace as a site to organize. (I believe this is the stoplight that Amazon got local government to change, to make communicating with drivers more difficult.)


“Signs Opposing Eviction Restrictions in Order to ‘Protect BIPOC Tenants’ Cause Stir” [Seven Days]. “Renter-rights advocates are condemning signs that urge Burlington voters to protect tenants of color by rejecting a ballot item that would ban no-cause evictions. The proposal, the advocates say, would help, not harm, those tenants. ‘Vote No on #5 Just Cause,’ the signs say. ‘Protect BIPOC tenants from racist neighbors.’ The unsigned messages, which appeared along heavily trafficked public rights of way, seem to suggest that if Question 5 passes this Town Meeting Day, landlords would not be able to evict tenants who harass neighbors who are Black, Indigenous and other people of color.” • Woke language sure is easy to appropriate. Other languages — like the language of class — are not. One can only wonder whyl.

Income and capital are not the same. Nevertheless:

He got that right:

Universalism seems so obvious to me. Makes me an old codger?

News of the Wired

Will nobody think of the children:

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

pq writes: “Christmas Day, around 5 p.m. — This is what happens when you get nearly four feet of snow dumped overnight, and a week later, it rains for 24 hours. Fortunately, the trees along the riverbank are primarily sycamores, which thrive in this environment.”

* * *

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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. Jeremy Grimm

      Just read the Hedges post you linked. Wow! If we aren’t already past our Reichstag Event(?), the silencing of Chris Hedges will definitely count as our Reichstag Event.

  1. taunger

    The contemporaneous drop in vaccination across the country would most easily be explained by supply issues, right Occam? Demand issues soon to come, I think June to Sept 2021 could be the eye of the pandemic storm come 2023.

    1. taunger

      Also, is the reason we haven’t seen a Jackpot reference in a while because it still seems too soon? Certainly not for this reader.

    2. Cat Burglar

      Here in north central Oregon, my elder sister, in her early 70s, was just informed by the local public health district that she is now eligible and should schedule her vaccination. Yet their website shows every appointment filled through December.

      That is consistent with reports I read that Oregon still has a backlog of vaccinations to perform on people in groups that became eligible in previous months — the vaccine supply here is inadequate.

      1. marku52

        Yes, 68YO here in SW OR, just got an appt for April 15th. I’ll have to see if it holds up.

      2. Lost in OR

        A bit different here on the West side of the Santiam. Safeway, CVS, Wallgreens, Fred Meyer, Salem Health, and other clinics all have a supply of Moderna. I qualified as of yesterday and have an appointment for Saturday.

        1. Alex Cox

          Today we got two appointments in Jackson Country, OR, for 24 March – via the Asante website.

    3. Carla

      In NE Ohio, we seem to be experiencing a problem not so much with supply, but with SCHEDULING vaccinations. Nobody knows how to do this. Appointments are required and must be made online. Each drug store chain, or supermarket, or mega-hospital organization has its own website that is impossible, in its own way, to use. If you can’t navigate the website, there’s an 800 number to call with automated prompts that require you to provide information from the web site you couldn’t use. Clusterf*ck does not begin to describe it.

      We got our first jabs thanks to a telephone operator at a single drug store location who decided to help me, and broke through the red tape to get us appointments. Now we’re due for our second jabs of the Pfizer vaccine, and so far we have not stumbled upon a human being who will take pity on us and usher us through this labyrinth to the finish line. So we’re just going to take our little CDC cards and show up on the date recorded on them (this Friday) and look innocent and confused when we’re told “But you must have an appt.” Will report back on what happens.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > a problem not so much with supply, but with SCHEDULING vaccinations. Nobody knows how to do this. Appointments are required and must be made online.

        You’d think that the team that brought you the ObamaCare marketplace website would at least have been able to make an announcement of a single, national, vaccination appointment system — but n-o-o-o-o!

        Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, the CDC butchered this, too:

        VAMS [is the CDC’s] Vaccine Administration Management System, built by the consulting firm Deloitte.

        Unless you’re in one of the few states using it, you may not have heard of VAMS. But it was supposed to be a one-stop shop where employers, state officials, clinics, and individuals could manage scheduling, inventory, and reporting for covid shots—and free for anyone to use.

        Instead, “VAMS has become a cuss word,” Marshall Taylor, head of South Carolina’s health department, told state lawmakers in January. He went on to describe how the system has badly hurt their immunization efforts so far. Faced with a string of problems and bugs, several states, including South Carolina, are choosing to hack together their own solutions, or pay for private systems instead.


        “It won’t work on Internet Explorer; it only works in Chrome. The ‘Next’ button is all the way down and to the right, so if you’re on a cell phone, you literally can’t see it,” says Rowe. “In the first round, people using VAMS mostly had advanced degrees. If you’re 75 and someone asks you to log into VAMS, there is zero way it’ll happen without help.”

        See also Bloomberg and Becker Hospital Review.

    4. Robert Hahl

      We are having trouble breaking below 2,000 deaths per day. I think we’ll be lucky to eventually get down to 20,000 deaths per month even if ivermectin really works. If that doesn’t generate continuous demand for vaccinations, I will be amazed.

    5. Laura in So Cal

      Here in California it is all about supply and the rules for vaccine distributions. You can get vaccinated if you are over 65 OR are a health care worker, first responder or teacher. Starting on March 15th, they are rolling out to Ages 16-64, but only if you have specific risk factors like a cancer diagnosis, chronic illness etc. My parents who are both 79 are getting their 2nd Moderna shot next week thru Kaiser and I know a few people who fit into the categories above who have gotten their 2nd Pfizer shot recently.

      1. Robert Hahl

        I haven’t looked at CA rules, but in VA the risk factors for 16-64 include BMI over 25. That is not hard to beat, e.g. 5 foot 6 inches and 160 pounds would qualify.

    6. eg

      Just booked my Mom (80+ cohort)for her first dose on March 16th here in Ontario. Presumably it will be either Pfizer of Moderna since the others are not yet available in Canada.

  2. hamstak

    Regarding this new (at least to me) demographic label BIPOC: It has been said that to be able to destroy a thing, is to control a thing (Frank Herbert, Dune). What, then, is the ability to name a thing? To own it?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Ha ha, yes, if you can devise an acronym for a population and make it stick, you’ve created an asset class. Got your “coalition of the ascendant” right here….

      1. Mark Gisleson

        And if the prevailing acronym doesn’t serve your cause, artificially enlarge that population by adding new subgroups and if people don’t use your new acronym accuse them of trying to erase the new subgroups.

    2. hunkerdown

      > What, then, is the ability to name a thing?

      a. According to voodoo traditions, to have power over it.
      b. One of computer science’s two hard problems. Almost the same thing, really.

    3. Swamp Yankee

      Kierkegaard said that if you label me, you negate me.

      This is also quoted in “Wayne’s World” :).

    4. epynonymous

      Ancient Egyptian magic said to name a thing is to bind or control it.

      Even today, workers will label their lunches to keep them safe in the communal fridge. ;)

    5. MrQuotidian

      I believe Adam is given the privilege of naming the animals in genesis As well.. I guess the implication being that man has dominion over the beasts…

  3. Lost in OR

    “Among those who said they were unwilling to get the vaccine, 66 percent said they were concerned about side effects,”

    So, 66% of 41% is roughly 25%. I wonder how closely this correlates with that portion of the population without medical insurance. If pharm bestows side effects on on you they get to pass GO and collect $200. You, with the side effects and without insurance, are screwed. Go directly to JAIL.

  4. Pat

    Why do I think that Zeke Emanuel and I have distinctly different ideas regarding bioethics.

    For the record I have said from the start that the chance of my taking an mRNA vaccine started at nil and would happen the day after Hillary Clinton apologizes to Bernie Sanders for lying her ass off about him.

    There may be some changes in those numbers if I am any indication as I will very likely take the J&J vaccine, but not yet. Others are still at greater risk than I am.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I personally would like an old-fashioned single dose killed virus vaccine, preferably delivered on a sugar cube, because the technology is proven. But I think the only ones out there are China’s, and while I think they’ve got the right approach, there’s no way I’d trust their quality control. (See the baby formula scandal; even today, IIRC, Chinese parents who can afford to buy abroad, do so.)

      1. Basil Pesto

        the market for baby formula amongst Chinese emigrés in Melbourne is pretty remarkable. Before Covid especially. Impossible to miss, in the CBD especially, where beyond even supermarkets – where Chinese shoppers could be seen fulfilling orders sent through WeChat – no-frills shops on expensive real-estate seemingly dedicated to powdered milk remittances popped up. Though I think they might have disappeared in the past year.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Its a fascinating market – I’ve sent plenty of boxes of formula over to Chinese friends. One friend asked for every 6th litre to be for age 1+ I asked her why as she had a newborn – she told me that one was for her friend in the customs, he would take that as payment to ensure she didn’t have to pay import duty.

          Another Chinese friend did her Masters thesis on the trade for her supply chain management degree, i learned a lot doing her grammar checking. It was really interesting – Chinese consumers had zero faith in even upmarket western stores, and tax rates were very high on formula. But there is a real resistance to breast feeding too. People would spend half their income on formula for a year or two. I’ve a memory of reading a statistic that 15% of all Chinese kids were nourished on Irish milk protein (the Chinese particularly valued Irish and NZ milk, mostly due to marketing of course). When Xi visited Ireland just before he came to power he was brought to a dairy farm as part of the marketing drive..

          Its gradually going down as a business I think because there are now more reliable ‘gold standard’ imported brands through selected outlets, but its still super expensive for Chinese people.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        “…old-fashioned single dose killed virus vaccine, preferably delivered on a sugar cube…”

        amen to that!
        i have considered the moderna, because that’s what’s been (unreliably) available out here.
        that said, from my perch way out in the texas hill country, i don’t think we’re at the demand problem stage, yet…people are more or less willing(aside from the relatively stable number of antivaxxers), it’s just not available…and when it becomes available, one must be on the list at the county judge’s office…(how does this effect compliance…like, say, with those who don’t trust government, the (handful) of undocumented around here, or those with trust issues with the law?)
        one must also fit into whatever ill-defined eligibility category we’re currently under.

        wife and boys…who had covid(mild) in january, have been cleared by her oncologist to go forth, masked and distanced.
        so youngest resumed freshman year monday, and wife has been back in the classroom for 2 weeks.
        i induce eyerolling every morning with my incessant yammering about the Protocols, and hope for the best.
        she’s not allowed to get a vaccine until april…because of the interaction between cancer, chemo and having had covid….which i admit that i do not understand.
        eldest is fixin to run off to houston to help cousin with all the post-ice age cleanup and repair work…cousin says 2 years worth of work…easy.
        so eldest can try out several building trades to see if any strike his fancy.
        after a year-long hiatus in his post-highschool life, he’s ready to get the hell out of here.
        i’m buried under manure and scrap building materials, as usual.
        everything except my hair hurts.

        and…i’ll toss this in because i found it remarkable:
        sunday i was on the “mountain” a mile behind the house…much needed break.
        85 degrees and brilliant.
        i heard a noise…a whooshing…what is that?
        i scan the sky for aircraft, look around…
        it was the foam in the beer can, popping.
        that was the loudest thing where i was at.

      3. Pat

        Ahhhh, the Gold standard for vaccines that’s for sure. I gave up on that early on.

        And don’t forget the pet food issues, I know a few pet owners/staff that started making their own because it was cheaper than buying guaranteed American made pet food and they either had or knew people who had lost or nearly lost a pet because of the contaminated Chinese manufactured pet food. Not quite as indicative as Chinese buying foreign baby food, but at least another data point.

      4. Lee

        Other great hits.

        From China to Panama, a Trail of Poisoned Medicine New York Times

        Melamine Pet Food Recall of 2007 FDA

        Re vaccination:

        I’m getting my first dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine later today. The possibility that it will not be effective against the variants is most concerning. Particularly given how many millions remain susceptible to the virus and so serve as hosts for even more viral mutations.

        I share a lot of concerns with those reluctant or unwilling to get the vaccine but I’ve had my three score and ten and then some, so I am persuaded by experience, observation and an at least semi-well informed sense of the balance of probabilities that my best shot is with the shots.

      5. anonymous

        This article gives a very good overview of the different platforms being used for SARS-Co-V2 vaccines and of the development of coronavirus vaccines, including work on SARS-CoV and MERS:

        Also, yesterday, on the post about the efficacy of the J&J vaccine, I gave a link for a recent podcast with Jason McLellan as the guest. This article has most of the same information and is a very quick read: https://cen.acs.org/pharmaceuticals/vaccines/tiny-tweak-behind-COVID-19/98/i38
        It includes the problem with a trial RSV vaccine that used RSV inactivated with formalin and which produced non-neutralizing antibodies to a postfusion F protein. Barney Graham and McLellan developed a stabilized prefusion F protein, which is being used for some RSV vaccines currently under development, before the two worked on the stabilized prefusion SARS-Co-V2 spike protein. Different viruses present different challenges in vaccine development, so a platform that worked well in the past for some viruses may not work for another.

      6. Jeremy Grimm

        I too would happily settle for a single dose Corona spicules only vaccine, although an old-fashioned killed virus vaccine would also be fine. I do not trust U.S. Pharma … but I trust it only marginally more than Chinese Pharma for distribution in the U.S. Even if the nRNA vaccines or the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine that packs viral DNA for its iconic spicule into a cold virus have wonderful and True efficacy with minimal or no side-effects I am very reluctant to trust either kind of vaccine. They are too new, too little tested, and worse — if mishandled — their technology poses great dangers in a world where such dangers have increasingly been ignored or worse … hidden. I am very leary of playing with my personal cellular protein synthesis machinery given what I perceive as very limited understandings of the processes involved.

      7. jonhoops

        Well considering all the harmful chemicals in the US baby food supply, which I was reading about here on NC just a few weeks ago, I don’t think I’d trust the American corporate sector as far as I could throw them. At least the Chinese execute the responsible parties, so maybe the baby food in China is better than the US by now. That scandal was over a decade a go.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > At least the Chinese execute the responsible parties

          Above, PlutoniumKun writes:

          Its a fascinating market – I’ve sent plenty of boxes of formula over to Chinese friends. One friend asked for every 6th litre to be for age 1+ I asked her why as she had a newborn – she told me that one was for her friend in the customs, he would take that as payment to ensure she didn’t have to pay import duty.

          Imagine this behavior at scale (and there’s no reason to think it hasn’t scaled). I think that urges that China’s system is even more corrupt than our own. Hard to believe!

    2. Judith

      In Massachusetts, people cannot choose which type of vaccine to receive. Are there places where people have a choice?

  5. JTMcPhee

    I wonder if one of the reasons the Empire won’t get off the Global Dominance Escalator is the experience of the Brits (the RAF, at least) at the end of the European part of WW II and following months. Here’s the documentary: “Mutiny in the RAF,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1SkyxdlSR0

    Leave the airmen in place, forced to work for corporate airlines and shine the shoes of the aristocrats in the officer corps, while living in favelas in 120 degree heat. Note how the mutiny spread throughout the equatorial Imperial bases.

    I know our Empire’s military idiot “leaders” and civilian rulers had a hard time dealing with Vietnam veterans. Fragging was one thing, and little and larger mutinies in a variety of places, not well disclosed in the media of course.

    I had a little experience of the phenomenon. Was at Chu Lai ‘67-68. The officers and senior NCOs traded various valuables, including the enlisted men’s class A rations, to the Air Force for frozen cases of steaks and chickens, flown in daily for the brass and Air Force enlisted, so they could have nice barbecues and parties every night, while we worked double shifts to keep the aircraft flying. Went on for a couple of weeks, then somebody tossed a bunch of CS grenades into the middle of one of their barbecues. Message received.

    And at Ft. Hood, TX, the 2nd Armored Division was ordered to arm up and fly to Chicago to “put down the insurrection” at the ‘68 Dem convention. A bunch of Vietnam vets, mostly Black, said “Sir, No Sir” and in effect mutinied. Here’s a documentary on the underground press in the military resisting the war machine in the Vietnam era: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDk6Qal2DCI

    Here’s a different view of the events: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1SkyxdlSR0

    Vietnam vets came home, fresh out of that rotten place, right back into a strange new society that had little place for them. Same stuff is going on with current vets, in even worse economic and social conditions.

    No doubt the “policy makers” are well aware of the historical precedents and current realities. So I guess, boys and girls in those “far-flung imperial outposts,” getting rotated into and out of craziness and stupidity in the fighting zones and the collapse of reasonable life in the Imperial Homeland, will just have to sweat it out. Or take matters into their own hands?

    1. eg

      The sins of empire will be visited upon the citizenry, yea unto the third and fourth generation.

  6. Pat

    For me the diversion of funds from hospitals and emergency personnel is acceptable ONLY if smaller hospitals got support. I differ from Stollerr in that I so distrust government’s ability to determine who really needs help that I could easily see large for profit institutions still getting the money originally earmarked for them while small and rural hospitals see nothing because it had to go to Pfizer.

    1. Felix_47

      Rural and small hospitals should have fought for M4A. They did not. I have worked in them and most are heavy money machines for the principles. In this Trump did a lot for the world. Funny but this is the first time I have seen it said in print. Why do so few want to acknowledge how many lives Trump will have saved in the end.

      1. Pat

        Because to admit that he did anything good goes against everything they said about him. And it isn’t just this, he was, like the five presidents before him, a disaster but not an unmitigated one. that just isn’t the ‘meme’.

        Maybe the only smaller, regional hospitals left are as much a grift machine as the large hospital groups here in NY, but every time a regional or rural hospital is lost the distance people in that area have to travel to get health care expands greatly. Having lived in a rural area where there was one hospital in 75 mile radius…let’s just say I don’t consider losing any of them a plan.

  7. Jeotsu

    Apologies if this has been remarked on before, but one thing that strikes me about cases-per-day graph is that after each wave the background rate seems to settle at the previous peak height. So the ‘stable period’ after peak 2 was about equal to the case rate of peak 1. And now we’re seeing the case rate starting to flatten after peak 3 at about the peak 2 maximum.
    I wonder if this is a weird data artefact of testing frequency/test positivity, or if it reveals something about baseline behaviour and the prevalence in the community (we do what we do, and as the virus spreads more widely we get different ‘resting rates’ between waves).
    Does this mean we still have the conditions for a 4th wave? Will pushing down this background between-peak rate be our first indication of anything like herd immunity?

  8. RMO

    “The Trump administration quietly spent billions in hospital funds on Operation Warp Speed”

    I was wondering whether there was going to be any pre-emptive strikes against the possibility of Trump claiming credit or being given credit for the successful vaccine development… and there it is.

  9. Mikel

    RE: “One very obvious moral of the story is never enter into identity politics-related discussions in the workplace; it’s worth your job. (Unless, of course, you’re in a room with a consultant that HR has just wheeled in; then, say what you have to say.)”

    Probably would want to not say anything then either.

    1. cocomaan

      Don’t enter into a discussion, but accusing someone is generally safer than being accused.

      If you think you’re about to be accused of being an -ist, immediate accuse the other person of it with a different, escalated group.

        1. Cocomaan

          It’s like every conversation is a conversation with the priest you’ve known since childhood in your small town. Negative energy abounds.

    2. occasional anonymous

      Don’t engage with identity politics period, not even in support of it. One thing I’ve come to notice consistently is that nothing is ever good enough for the woke. Give them an inch and they’ll expect a mile and drag you over the coals for not being good enough, even when you’re actually on their side. They’re also oblivious to the fact that this will ultimately apply to them as well; now that they’re setting the precedent of disowning people long dead for not being sufficiently enlightened, in time they themselves will be disowned by people in the future as bigots who weren’t on board with whatever the next woke fad is.

      Since nothing is ever going to be good enough for them anyway, better to just refuse to engage with that whole crowd at all.

    3. flora

      And of course, if you’re part of your union’s contract and wages negotiating team then expect management to look for any reason and use any method (including woke pearl clutching) to…uh… force you to resign. / ;)

  10. zagonostra

    The single most concerning number in this moths (sic) poll is that 4 in 10 of those who have not been vaccinated do not want to take the vaccine. This includes 60 percent of Black voters,” Harvard CAPS-Harris polling director Mark Penn told The Hill.

    True sometimes a mockingbird is just a mockingbird, but a cigar might just be more than a cigar…I’m one of those who falls in the group that will refuse to be vaccinated. I don’t know what I’ll do if they require some type of vaccine passport since I have family in Europe and Canada. Maybe families will have to meet in a neutral country, one that doesn’t require vaccination if said passport comes to pass…

    1. Tvc15

      Maybe they can meet you in Texas, Abbott just declared, “It is now time to open Texas 100%.” …yee haw! As a native Texan (will probably stop volunteering that), I’m glad I now live in Maine.

      I fall into the same group zagonostra and will only very reluctantly do it if becomes an employment requirement like for travel.

    2. Calypso Facto

      I don’t know what I’ll do if they require some type of vaccine passport since I have family in Europe and Canada.

      I’m curious to understand the resistance to the idea of a vaccine passport. I understand aversion to the mRNA vaccines, and I understand waiting to see if there are further effects from the vaccines before getting vaccinated. However the idea of requiring a vaccine prior to international travel doesn’t strike me as that big of a deal since many countries currently already require proof of vaccination on entry, such as Ghana and yellow fever. How is this different?

      1. rowlf

        I’ve had a passport since I was ten years old and always had a rubber band around it and my yellow vaccination book. What is new about all of this?

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Family Dollar learned a valuable lesson during the shutdown. If you sell food, you are an essential enterprise and allowed to open while every other non-food selling store was shuttered.

      The government was picking winners and losers and still is. Why anyone is surprised the richest people got richer is laughable since only the Waltons, the Bezos’ and Bernie Marcus (Home Depot) where allowed to open their stores while everyone else was forbidden.

    2. Duke of Prunes

      Could have been private equity as well… Don’t know much about them other than they were a decent store back in the late 90s/early 00s.

  11. pjay

    “NYTimes Peru N-Word, Part One: Introduction” – Donald G. McNeil Jr.

    I did read all four parts of McNeil’s account carefully yesterday. I highly recommend it; very educational. I should say that McNeil provides enough information and is honest enough in describing his own personality and temperament that you can understand how he could rub people the wrong way. I could also understand why some budding young “anti-imperialists” could get pissed off at his 1960s-era argument that “colonialism” was dead (pretty typical well-traveled NYT correspondent here; much useful knowledge of facts while oblivious to larger geopolitical context). Also condescendingly dismissive of climate change (*not* a typical NYT position!). Some of his own positions irritated me, for sure.

    But that said, he made good points based on much valid personal experience. However, much more important here, it seems clear that (1) he was unfairly smeared by students (and parents? Administrators? NY Times staff?) by taking statements completely out of context to label him racist and perhaps a misogynistic old man; and (2) this was possible because of a dominant culture among certain elite liberals that no longer tolerates honest debate over controversial issues, or even the language to debate them. This culture seemed to affect both the students who complained, and a number of NY Times staff. It seem to me that individuals who either didn’t like him or didn’t like his stance on particular issues used Id-pol to knife him in the back instead of voicing their objections openly.

    As McNeil says himself, a good reporter provides enough facts so that the reader can come to his or her own informed conclusions about an issue. In my opinion, McNeil does that here.

    1. bassmule

      He has Aspberger’s, and I think that explains a lot. He admits he has a hard time “reading” people. As he writes: “…my bristliness makes me an imperfect pedagogue for sensitive teenagers.” Don’t get me wrong: He got f–ked, absolutely. Got to admire his fighting spirit. But there’s a country song with a chorus that goes “Do you want to be happy, or do you want to be right?” He chose the latter. The story reads to me like he’s been a pain in the ass for years, and I find it very easy to agree that the Times used the ID-POL knife to get rid of him. Disgusting.

      I did love the quote about dogs pissing on a hydrant.

      1. Tom Doak

        He does not have Asperger’s Syndrome, or at least he does not think he does, and he sure does not sound like he does in the way he writes about his interactions and the responses from others involved. If he really had Asperger’s he would not even have noticed.

        He wrote: “My girlfriend thinks I have a high-functioning Asperger aspect to my personality — I’m empathic about suffering but I also very much misread audiences.”

        Asperger’s is a tremendously over-used shorthand these days, as is “bipolar”, for just having a strong or contrarian personality, which someone else might label as abrasive. A lot of people who have dealt with issues of Adult Children of Alcoholics [which does not necessarily require alcoholic parents] often show many of the same behaviors — avoiding eye contact, fear in social situations, etc. Those are significant effects but they are nowhere near a true Asperger’s patient.

    2. Tom Doak

      I second your recommendation of the four-part essay. It seems from his description that having a wide-ranging discussion of the state of the world with young people* is now virtually impossible without risking your livelihood.

      Most discouraging, but not surprising, is that from the moment the story was approved for print by the Daily Beast, the editors and management of the NYT would not allow its reporter to respond directly, being far more concerned with establishing a protective ring around themselves.

      * or, at least, young people whose parents have enough money to send them on a foreign study program sponsored by the New York Times

      1. Count Zero

        “having a wide-ranging discussion of the state of the world with young people is now virtually impossible without risking your livelihood.”

        Yes, it is strange that these young people who are so committed to anti-racism and other worthy liberal causes are so illiberal about punishing people that disagree with them. There’s no sense of politics here, it seems to me. It’s a kind of moral absolutism or even evangelical religion. If you upset them they call on their parents or your boss or some authority to penalise you. You have sinned. This is entirely alien to the ethos of previous generations of young radicals I think?

        What strange alliance of young activists and the established authorities is this? It’s proving to be very effective in disciplining older generations of radicals and independent thinkers in the US and UK. One thinks again of Mao’s Cultural Revolution and its role in displacing an older generation of experienced Chinese revolutionaries and intellectuals. So what machinery of power is in play behind this dramaturgy of moral outrage and protest?

  12. Sutter Cane

    The governor of Texas has just announced that not only are they fully reopening businesses with no restrictions, but also the statewide mask mandate is now rescinded.

    With vaccines rolling out I thought we were a couple of months away from this being over, now I fear another spike in numbers is imminent and that the pandemic has just been prolonged…

    1. Daryl

      Mission accomplished!

      This is an attempt to distract people from the fact that Texas just experienced an avoidable and severe infrastructure failure.

      I don’t know that it will honestly make a difference, since the mask mandate and capacity limits were effectively unenforced everywhere that I am aware of.

  13. Gary

    The governor of Texas just opened up Texas 100%, no mask mandates and no restrictions.
    I did get my first Moderna shot on Sunday at a CVS in Alvarado, Texas. I was signed up everywhere I could think of. Appointments are opening up for now. Tarrant County (Fort Worth) is expecting 40,000 more doses. They did contact me with an appointment which I was able to decline. A friend in Dallas also got a vaccination on Sunday. He took his older friend to be vaccinated and there were shots to spare so he was able to get one too. The spot where I received my shot is still sore. Testing seems to be getting harder to find. Good luck one and all!

    1. Amfortas the hippie


      FTA:”Acknowledging that some local leaders remain concerned about the spread of the virus in their communities, Abbott laid out a strategy that allows them to take matters into their own hands under certain circumstances. If COVID-19 hospitalizations in any of Texas’ 22 hospital regions rise above 15% of the capacity in that region for seven straight days, a county judge “may use COVID mitigation strategies in their county,” according to the governor.

      However, Abbott specified that “under no circumstance” can a county judge jail someone for not following their orders. They also cannot impose penalties for failure to wear a mask. And if local restrictions are triggered, businesses still must be allowed to operate at 50% capacity at the minimum.”

      “Texans have been under a statewide mask mandate since July of last year — and they have grown widely comfortable with it, according to polling. The latest survey from the University of Texas and Texas Tribune found that 88% of the state’s voters wear masks when they’re in close contact with people outside of their households. That group includes 98% of Democrats and 81% of Republicans.”

      this last is about the opposite from what we’re seeing out here in the hinterland…hardly anyone is wearing masks…except for in the school, where it’s required, and more or less enforced.
      and i still get the stink eye for wearing one…generally from the more unibrowed of the rednecks(stink eye correlates proportionally with the amount of cowsh*t on the boots…i am the outlier in this)

    2. Angie Neer

      I’m worried. I’m about as far from Texan as you can imagine, but my son recently moved there (if Austin still counts as Texas) and is working full-time in retail. He’s told me mask compliance is very high there (unless he’s just saying that to calm a parent), but now?

  14. NotTimothyGeithner

    The press is being less obsequious to Biden than I expected.

    The press likes to be part of the fun, whether it was Shrub’s trips to the ranch or watching Obama make picks for March Madness, and Biden won’t provide the fun. My other suspicion is the WH simply expected to inherit the Obama press magic, not understanding why he had it.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      I suspect both are true. I wonder how long until the Dems call in Obama for some image consulting with his old friend Joe?

  15. roxan

    I shopped at Dollar General when I lived in the Shenandoah. It was not a ‘super center’, but did have some edible food if one was careful. For a long time, the only competitor was an old supermarket next door, might have been Food Lion, I don’t recall. It was pretty bad, often selling meat that was black and moldy. I threatened them with the health dept, one time. Hardly anywhere to get good, affordable food! So, all the substandard food is not shipped to inner cities. That was a very poor 99% white county. Even growing up in WVa, I did not see the amount of poverty I encountered there.

    1. JBird4049

      Amazing isn’t? Even if you shop at the same chain of grocery stores like Safeway, the quality of food, service, and cleanliness somehow all matched the area of a store. Upper middle class to poor and working class. It got to were I was trained to never, even go to certain stores even if I lived nearby. I would drive to another tonier place just to not stumble over unshelved merchandise, disgusting floors, garbage food and bonus extra, extra long lines or line for an entire supermarket. Some of those areas that are supposedly not food deserts might as well as be one for all the worth of the local market.

  16. cocomaan

    Thank you to Lambert and Yves for posting things about the forbearance programs.

    I am actively using it in my job. They think I’m some kind of incredible researcher. It turns out, I have an incredible team. Just kidding, I tell them about the blog and their eyes glaze over.

    Will have to donate again come fund drive time!

  17. Geo

    While reading the piece about Biden’s excuses for backtracking on minimum wage an alert popped up over the article on my phone that simply said: “Garbage fire nearby.” The synchronicity was delightful.

    Fire truck is here now and fire is out. All is OK. At least with the literal garbage fire. The metaphorical one is still raging.

  18. ambrit

    That Professor’s reply to Greenwald’s tweet is absolutely enlightening as to her ‘priors.’
    Her conflation of “unhinged” and Tucker Carlson, with a gratuitous side order of “guilt by association” for Greenwald’s appearing on Carlson’s television program defines her quite well as a rabid “Liberal PMC Justice Warriorx.” There was also the magisterial deployment of condescension in the woman’s tweet. “Oh Glem.”
    I fear for our public discourse. Words like ‘liberal’ and ‘justice’ have been fully “inverted,” in both the psycho-sexual, as well as Orwellian senses. We may as well start using the neologism “justix” to describe “woke” “goodthinking.” As for Liberal; Thomas Paine must be spinning in his grave.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, when she tweeted out ‘Oh, Glem. You’re not one to be throwing around “unhinged” quite so casually. Doesn’t Tucker need you so he can have someone to stare blankly at?’ it was at that point that she lost the argument as well as put her qualifications in doubt. First person to resort to a personal insult in a debate is on the losing end of that debate from then on.

      1. ambrit

        Absolutely right about the resort to personal attacks. I do not consider Greenwald’s assertion that the Professor’s commentary is “unhinged” as a direct personal attack. She needed to counter with a “un-unhinged” defense to win the point.
        Of interest is if these two have a prior history of interpersonal acrimony. That would expand our range of argument.
        Worryingly, when personal attacks are accepted in “polite society” as adequate surrogates for reasoned debate, the system has become terminally corrupt.

        1. JBird4049

          It is all about power. Human decency, compassion or just respect means very little amongst the powerful and their apparatchiks in regards to the unforgiven, the unwanted, or the unwashed masses.

          1. ambrit

            What is so amusing, in a, “watching a car wreck” scenario sense, is that the Ten Percenters that I know and interact with think that they have “power,” when the opposite is true. I often wonder how much of the fervency I see among that class of people is due to their unconscious appreciation of that fact and the fear such knowledge creates within them.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > First person to resort to a personal insult in a debate is on the losing end of that debate from then on.

        It’s also really bad, KHive-level tweeting. If you want to skewer somebody like Greenwald, you need smoother moves. She’s out of her depth and doesn’t even know it.

        1. JBird4049

          >>She’s out of her depth and doesn’t even know it.

          I think that describes most of our political leadership. It is not stupidity. It is arrogance perhaps or maybe a lack of thinking. Aggressive bubbling of themselves into their own little universe.

          The members of the regime know about getting money often by bribes, financial manipulation, or getting sinecures, but actually governing or showing leadership, imagination, thoughtfulness, and competence, not so much. They not only don’t seem to realize it, but seem incapable of doing so because they do not self-reflect.

  19. Cuibono

    ““On this score, I think the communication has been very uneven,” said Ezekiel Emanuel, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania who advised the Biden transition. “There’s been some uncertainty, and because there’s a wide variety of estimates here, you get people at different times taking either the optimistic view or the pessimistic view and going out with that.”
    That would be the same guy who advocated 70 year olds being turned into Soylent green?

  20. Michael Ismoe

    In fact, Raúl Grijalva is the Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee that has jurisdiction over the territories. President Biden ignored the letter and his promise.

    He’s also co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus. Just a coincidence I am sure.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “The wealthy are borrowing billions against their art collections and lenders are reselling the debt”

    Don’t worry, the wealthy know what they are doing. If there is any sort of crash – and going by events the past few years – they know that the government will bail them out using public money so that they get to keep and perhaps extend their art collections.

  22. fresno dan


    FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday refused to tell senators the cause of death for Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, whose death heavily influenced coverage of the Capitol riot.
    Sicknick’s cremated remains had the rare distinction of lying in honor last month in the Capitol Rotunda.

    Recent news reports say the FBI believes that a capsaicin-based “bear spray” may have caused Sicknick’s death, though those reports also have not been confirmed on the record by authorities.
    Curious and curiouser… if you haven’t figured out what killed someone, it seems to me you should postpose cremation until you do.

    1. Tom Doak

      If they had anything about an actual cause of death there would be a murder charge, and not just “insurrection”. So they’ve got nothing.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > they’ve got nothing

        Yep. Because if they had anything, it would have been anonymously leaked already and there would have been a moral panic.

    2. John A

      A hasty cremation is always a good indicator of a cover up. The drug addict who died in a village near Salisbury a few months after the Skripal affair, was alleged by TPTB to have been killed by novochok, ie by the evil Russians/Putin. Her inquest is still ‘open’ ie still not been resolved. Yet her body was cremated very quickly.

  23. The Rev Kev

    ‘Drew Harwell
    This (real) Fisher-Price My Home Office toy set is so bleak: “Better grab a latte to go, that report is due this morning.” Ages 3 and up’

    I suspect that that toy set is not really for the kids but for the parents. Not to play with but in order to boast over social media that their kids are playing with it to give themselves brownie points. Next offering by Fisher-Price – ‘My idPol Identity toy set’ to include both race and religion cards to hide your wealth with.

  24. Another Thought

    Say it ain’t so Joe – White House withdraws nomination of Tanden to head budget office

      1. Jason

        Have they run out of the stuff that they gave him during the debates?

        The thing about drugs is you build up a tolerance. And whatever placebo effect there was from becoming president has clearly worn off. Old Joe looks to be in pretty desperate shape. I don’t think he’s going to last the year. May not make it to summer.

        1. Jason Boxman

          Or he’ll finish out his term. If I were a betting person, I’d bet that the house is gonna win.

    1. michael99

      The lead from The Hill:

      Neera Tanden has withdrawn her nomination to head President Biden’s White House budget office after her prospects of Senate confirmation flamed out.

      Later in the story:

      Her nomination began to unravel when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) pulled his support, citing the need for comity. In the evenly divided Senate, that left Tanden reliant on support from centrist Republicans such as Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), who also was a target of Tanden’s tweets. That support was not forthcoming.

      Nominate Stephanie Kelton!

      1. ambrit

        In the spirit of Wall Street Capitalism, how about Mrs. Adelson? She ticks all the boxes! Plus, her background is a perfect fit for the “modrene” economy.
        It’s zeros all the way down on this roulette wheel!

  25. Riverboat Grambler

    My girlfriend is a grad student who teaches multiple classes at the state university. I told her today that the WI priority list has educators eligible for the vaccine starting yesterday. She said she technically doesn’t qualify as a “teacher” thanks to good ol’ Scotty Walker’s laws bludgeoning teachers back in 2010. The less people labeled as teachers, the less benefits they’re eligible for. I sure hope the virus makes that distinction when they open up in-person classes!

    I work as a cashier in a bodega, which means I’ll be eligible before she will. She’s a teacher! What absolute garbage. Fortunately I just overheard a girl talking about working with vaccines; she works at Walgreens. I told her about the situation and she said that if my lady goes through the proper channels on the Walgreens website they probably wouldn’t turn her away. Here’s hoping that Walgreens isn’t up on the petty details of WI state teacher qualifications… At least we don’t have to worry about Cuomo hitting her with a thousand-dollar fine for “jumping the line”.

    1. Fern

      It’s totally different in California. I know someone whose 25-year old son is a graduate student who works in a physics lab. There isn’t a safer situation for a young worker — the labs are essentially upscale social bubbles. Yet he is being vaccinated before his 63-year-old mother, who has over 100 times the chance of dying if she catches covid. He knows that he is not at nearly as much risk as his mother and he’s feeling tremendous guilt.

      My concern isn’t which group of younger workers has priority over another group of younger workers.
      My concern is that they should vaccinate in the order of risk of dying if covid is contracted. The statistics are known. As it stands, people 50-65 years old are in the lower half of eligibility, in spite of the fact that a 64-year-old has 150 times the chance of dying if covid is contracted as a 25-year-old. And the odds are even worse for the blacks and Hispanics who are between 50 and 65 years of age. (I’m saying this as someone who has already been vaccinated.)

  26. Fern

    “And if Ezekiel Emanuel is handing out those quotes because he’s angling for the job of Covid Communications Czar, I will be very upset”.

    I’ll say. This is the same Ezekiel Emanuel who is on record saying that people should die at the age of 75 because their lives are essentially worthless after that. Covid-19 is made to order for Ezekiel.

    I always wondered if this genre of thinking was behind the push to vaccinate young workers first, even though 95 percent of the deaths are among people over 55, and in spite of the fact that black and Hispanic seniors are the ones who are dying in huge and wildly disproportionate numbers.

    The bizarre rationale was put forward that it’s racist to vaccinate seniors first because a larger percentage of older people are white. This ignores the fact that Hispanics — the largest disadvantaged group — have longer life expectancies than whites and the reason their average age is lower is simply that they are currently having more children. When healthy young workers are prioritized, it pushes black and Hispanic seniors further down the line. In fact, a higher proportion of black and Hispanics between the ages of 50- 65 are dying than are white seniors 65-75 (but not over 75). And right now, people between 50-65 are frequently prioritized in the lower half of adults.

    The original vaccine priority system was created by a group of woke academics on the CDC advisory committee. The chair of the CDC advisory committee who made the original recommendations was quoted by the Philadelphia Inquirer as saying that he “now wonders if even setting the floor at age 75 made too many people eligible.” And as is so typical with Democratic party thinking, the prioritization of large numbers of young workers has ended up advantaging the professional-managerial class at the expense of the impacted minorities while claiming to be done on their behalf. In my experience following a number of neighborhood discussion groups, it’s clear the “essential workers” categories are being so heavily gamed by members of the professional-managerial class that I believe this system has significantly increased racial disparity in the vaccination.

    Fortunately, the priority system is not as damaging as it could have been because we will have enough vaccine shortly for everyone who wants it. But some people are still going to die necessarily because of these priorities. And just as importantly, it bodes ill for the future that this sort of policy is embraced and promoted by so many Democratic governors and administration and Congressional Democrats.

    Here is a link to Ezekiel’s own writing on the value of the lives of the very people that covid-19 is killing:


  27. The Rev Kev

    Some Texas companies do things differently that others. ‘CPS Energy officials confirm to KSAT that they get their meteorology services from a Minnesota-based subscription weather service and from a local contractor, who has been referred to as both a meteorologist data intern and a meteorologist data analyst.’

    The only thing is that public records show that the local contractor is actually a meteorology student in college. This is embarrassing-


  28. Tom Doak

    Question: with everyone jumping on Gov. Cuomo’s case over sexual harassment, is it starting to be a smokescreen so they don’t have to talk about his failures in containing COVID? The news on that front has gone very still the past few days.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Team Blue has plenty of “captured” women’s groups it uses to defend all kinds of bad behavior, but this is a bridge too far. They also have plenty of donors who are really no different than the average MSDNC viewer who worships Maddow but has a ton of cash. To distinguish from Tara Reade, the women in question are still around Democratic politics. Cuomo’s victims aren’t simply the “undeserving”. Apologies, but this is the attitude. Its like when Pelosi held a phony hearing when Rush Limbaugh was crude towards a Georgetown Law student but largely ignored virtually every other issue that affected the bulk of women.

      As for Cuomo, he is a bad guy. I mean its always time to do the right thing, but sometimes its easier.

      Albany and the NY legislature’s approach to women is also problematic beyond Cuomo. The legislators there use to draft the talent. Thats how it was presented.

  29. Synoia

    They’re all things President JOE BIDEN campaigned for, and they’re all DOA in the Senate.

    Quelle Surprise! The “fight for, deliver nothing, and blame the others” plan is working.

    1. ambrit

      It’s not November 2022 yet.
      What the Left in America needs, has always needed, is a competent, hard hitting ‘News Desk.’
      Someone with a high profile needs to keep the perfidies of the Biden Administration front and centre of the consciousness of the general public for the next two years.
      If and when it becomes a case of “The Harris Administration,” the dynamic changes. Then, the rational faculties of the PMCs will become overwhelmed by ‘Id-polgasms.’ That is the point when what passes for popular sovereignty will be most at risk of co-option by ideology.

  30. Robert Gray

    > What the Left in America needs, has always needed, is a competent, hard hitting ‘News Desk.’

    What the Left in America needs is a candidate — an honest, articulate, charismatic, fearless tribune who can shake things up and lead the changes that so many millions agree are necessary. ‘Oh, but the MSM’s megaphone is too loud’, some say. ‘He or she would never be heard! The Establishment’s stenographers are just too disciplined!’ The Soviet Union had some of the most strictly controlled public communication in history, yet even there samizdat circulated. We still have the internet. (And where is the USSR today?)

    I can’t help but wonder how much of the Sanders fiasco of last year was baked-in from the beginning? So many people poured so much energy and money — and hope! — into his campaign only to see him fall apart like a cardboard suitcase in a rainstorm, immediately toeing the party line as required. Clearly not a messiah, he was a good shepherd nonetheless.

    Donald Trump convinced the disaffected masses on the right that he was their champion and it took a tremendous effort by the real powers-that-be to nullify him. The real ‘left’ has been so marginalised by the liberals, their id-pol and everything else Clinton-Obama-Clinton-Biden-Harris that the 1% (or 0.1%) are losing no sleep today. Meanwhile, we can only dream of someone like Jean Jaurès — now, there was a ‘News Desk’ for you! — writing to the rescue.

    1. ambrit

      I can’t think but that Jaures would be considered a “Centrist” Socialist today, just as he was then. Since even “centrist” socialists have been demonized today in America’s MSMs, a more “robust” Socialism is needed. Co-operating with the so called ‘centrists’ of the legacy parties in America has been exposed as a trap. It has generally led to either co-option by the legacy parties or suppression through various means. It is time for a coherent Left United Front to begin real agitation against the totality of the legacy parties.
      Alas, with real world living conditions deteriorating for the masses today in America, the ground is being prepared, inadvertently I am sure, for direct action campaigns. These campaigns have traditionally been fractured and factionalized. Now, the various factions will be more amenable to centralized organization, simply to bring about some of their desires. (Anarchists will be anarchists. That is a fact of political life. However, Anarchists are not the sum total of the potential activist population.)
      It took the Reactionaries forty years of steady organization and action to get to where they are today. The Left should take a lesson from that and plan accordingly.

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