2:00PM Water Cooler 1/10/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Winter birds: “Songs and a few calls from an adult male perched at the top of a tall spruce.”

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

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

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” –Hunter Thompson

Capitol Seizure

“January 6 Insurrection: One Year Later, Families Are Still Divided” [Teen Vogue]. “As the insurrection unfolded on television, Jackson says he got a phone call from the FBI asking him to confirm that his father was at the Capitol, which Jackson did. As he struggled with the idea that his father was part of an attempted coup of the United States government, Jackson says his father texted news reports to the family group chat with photos of himself at the Capitol. Friends texted, too, asking Jackson if the images they were seeing on television were really of his father. Even now, Jackson says, it’s difficult to conceptualize that his father was part of something like the insurrection. … As the insurrection unfolded on television, Jackson says he got a phone call from the FBI asking him to confirm that his father was at the Capitol, which Jackson did.” • Teen Vogue going of the rails here; as one reader put it, if you want to see a real coup and a real insurrection, look at what’s happening in Myanmar. It’s not cosplay and LARPing there. I’m also not super-enthusiastic about the “society of snitches” Teen Vogue implicitly endorses (cf. The Lives of Others). But I think Teen Vogue buries the lead, which I have helpfully underlined. Was the FBI simply working off a list of leads? “Confirm” would suggest not. So how pervasive was FBI surveillance and/or infiltration at the Capitol that day? Were they using facial recognition? Plausible answers include “very” and “yes”…..

“Florida leads nation in Jan. 6 Capitol riot cases” [Axios]. • Handy map:

The concentration of deep color in OH, PA, NY, NY, VA, and MD is more interesting to me than the state at the top of the leaderboard. What does this auger for 2022 and 2024? (It could be that these states are simply closer to DC, but that CA, TX, and FL are also deep colored, suggesting the rioters were willing to travel.)

Biden Administration

“Biden, health officials to lay out path out of Omicron winter” [Politico]. That’s only fair, since they laid the path that got us into it. On Wednesday: “Walensky has also come under fire in recent days from disability rights advocates for saying she finds it ‘encouraging’ that deaths from Omicron have largely happened among people with multiple comorbidities. Walensky attempted a clean-up Sunday night, posting on Twitter that ‘CDC is taking steps to protect those at highest risk, incl. those w/ chronic health conditions, disabilities & older adults.'” So, that Walensky has gone all Lebensunwertes Leben Great Barrington is supposed to reassure us? I can’t wait to see what happens next. And on Thursday: “President Joe Biden will make a speech on his administration’s ‘whole-of-government COVID-19 surge response.'” • He’s gonna make me pull on my yellow waders again, isn’t he? Start with the fact that two years in, the Administration doesn’t have a theory of transmission, and because they don’t, they cannot explain to people what actions to take, and hence rely on their authority. Since Zeints, Fauci, Walensky, and Klain are all secure in their positions, I don’t expect Biden’s speech to be anything other than a warmed-over version of the same themeless pudding. A themeless lethal pudding.

“SALT Cap Limbo Threatens Suburban Swing District Democrats” [Bloomberg]. “Democrats risk losing their edge in key suburban districts amid a congressional stalemate over President Joe Biden’s economic agenda that threatens plans to expand a tax break for well-off homeowners. Many voters in affluent suburbs across the country from New Jersey to Washington state abandoned the Republican party in the 2018 congressional elections, helping to swing the House into Democratic control one year after the GOP set a $10,000 limit on the long-standing federal deduction for state and local taxes, or SALT. Those same districts are once again up for grabs as Democrats wrangle over the details of the tax and spending package, including the fate of SALT relief. Uncertainty over when — or if — a package containing SALT could pass threatens to jeopardize Democrats’ chances of maintaining their slim congressional majorities. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, who leads House Democrats’ campaign arm, says delivering relief from the SALT cap is ‘essential’ for the party’s election prospects.” • Because tax “relief” is what liberal Democrats are all about! Idea: Tax breaks for “In this house…” signs?

“Personnel are policy” [Cory Doctorow, Medium]. “It’s hard not to freak out, watching Biden get punked by Joe Manchin over Build Back Better. Manchin’s transparent ruse — splitting the infrastructure bill from BBB — was obviously a prelude to a betrayal. Thanks to Dem leadership’s foolish error, the party that holds the House, the Senate and the Oval Office will go into the mid-terms and the next presidential election having failed to deliver on the vast majority of their campaign promises. Having failed to deliver material improvements to voters’ lives, they are going to struggle to win elections. Joe Manchin seems hell-bent on electing Donald Trump president again in 2024. It’s hard to say whether this is more disgusting or depressing. Maybe both. The sole thing keeping me going is the action in the administrative agencies, where genuine progressives with real political acumen have been promoted to positions of real power. Personnel really are policy, and the administrative agencies are where the rubber meets the road. … Here’s a great example. Biden’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is poised to turn worker misclassification into an “unfair labor practice,” which will give it scope to punish employers who treat their employees as contractors.” • Something to watch…

Democrats en Déshabillé

“Eric Adams taps younger brother Bernard as a deputy police commissioner” [New York Post]. “Mayor Eric Adams has tapped his younger brother to serve as a deputy NYPD commissioner, The Post has learned. Bernard Adams, a 56-year-old retired NYPD sergeant, will oversee governmental affairs, he confirmed Friday. But the full scope of his responsibilities was not immediately clear. Internal documents obtained by The Post show Bernard Adams listed as a deputy commissioner on the official NYPD roster. A civilian post, deputy police commissioners typically make around $242,000, although it was not yet known what his salary would be in the department. Bernard Adams’ LinkedIn profile lists his current job as assistant director for parking at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he’s been employed since 2011.” • So RFK Bernard Adams is not?


“Biden, Democrats head into 2022 midterms with feistier message and slightly better polls. Is it enough?” [USA Today]. About as “feisty” as a soggy Saltine, if you ask me. The lead: “Mary Ann Chaffin, an 86-year-old retired small-business owner from Aurora, Colorado, believes the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol was ‘disgusting’ and ‘very disheartening.’ She’s concerned democracy in the U.S. is ‘in peril.’ She wishes ‘more brave Republicans’ would condemn the attack waged by supporters of former President Donald Trump one year ago.” • I can believe that the Democrat leadership is confident that they don’t have to deliver on anything because the Capitol Seizure is their ace in the hole (hence the 1/6 Committee retaining jurisdiction and not turning cases over to Garland for prosecution).


“Republicans narrow search for 2024 convention site to four cities” [The Hill]. “Republicans have winnowed down their list of potential host cities for the 2024 Republican National Convention, picking Milwaukee, Nashville, Salt Lake City and Pittsburgh as the finalists.” • See map under Capitol Seizure, above. I’d argue they’d do well to pick Pittsburgh.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Mass representative democracy” [Interfluidity]. “what if we elected representatives to participate in this kind of mass-democracy framework? Instead of electing one per 800,000 or one per 80,000, what if we self-affiliated into groups of common interest of no more than, say, 1000 souls, for whom personal, physical “town meetings” could be regularly arranged? Obviously, not everyone would wish to attend all of these meetings, but everyone could if they wished. With no more than 1000 constituents, an elected could become at least acquainted with her full constituency. She could be accessible and available to them all. She could maintain direct relationships with a substantial fraction of the people she represents, and be motivated and held to account by those relationships, by gratitude and shame experienced personally rather than by abstract shifts in what some consultant claims the polls say. Instead of a few hundred Congresspeople, we’d have 250,000 representatives whose full-time job it would be to stay and live among and interact with their constituents, and participate in the online legislature. There would be no Congressional offices in Washington, no risk of going native among colleagues who become much closer than constituents. At a municipal level, there would be no councilmen or supervisors at City Hall. In my San Francisco, there would be roughly 800 legislators and any of us who cared to would know our representative and interact with her as much or as little as we pleased. This proposal recognizes that the hard part of being a representative, or at least what ought to be the hard part, is not fundraising, rising through committees, learning the personalities and peccadillos of influential colleagues so that you can “legislate effectively”. The hard part of being a representative is representing…. So “expand the House” from 435 to, um, 250,000, and put it online…. Cities should give “mass representative democracy” a try, soon. If you live in a city of any size, do you feel, today, like you are adequately represented in city government? If not, what hope do we have to make representative democracy work at a state or national scale? We are collectively, and correctly, coming to understand that we’ve never really had the kind of Our Democracy that talking heads on MSNBC are constantly telling us we must save. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and build institutions we’ll have reason to be less cynical about.” • An interesting proposal by the always interesting Steve Waldman. Well worth a read (and no, he doesn’t mean “put representation on the blockchain,” thank gawd).

“Sandel: ‘Summon Chance to Chasten Meritocratic Hubris'” [Equality by Lot]. “[Michael Sandel’s] condemnation of actual existing Meritocracy is well worth a read, not least the societally damaging effects of hubris and self-worth among the elite ‘winners’; and the despondency and nihilistic voting for Brexit and Trump by the ‘losers’ and indeed all the non-credentialled…. Chapter 6 [of The Tyranny of Merit] makes a heartfelt and extended plea for the extensive use of lotteries for admission to not just Ivy League, but all selective colleges and universities. This Sandel says would “summon Chance to chasten Merit”.

“Election Fraud Cases” [The Heritage Foundation]. • Of all people. If their database is to be believed, there’s really not a lot of fraud; onesies and twosies. (Note that election fraud and election theft are different. The first is done by individual voters, the second by party insiders. (In the past, the two blurred, as voters were bribed to vote a certain way, but now election theft takes place through control of the voting machinery, including ballot rolls, as in Florida 2000.)


Case count by United States regions:

More small jumps, but I think this is data, given that the CDC rapid riser counties show a collapse of reorting in a number of states. (I wrote: “As happened in 2020, I would expect a second, higher peak, from Omicron if for no other reason.” Here we very are. This chart is a seven-day average, so changes in direction only show up when a train is really rolling.) It would sure be nice if “rise like a rocket (and fall like a stick)” applied, but we can’t know that yet. To be fair, previous peaks — how small the early ones look now — have been roughly symmetrical on either side. But the scale of this peak, and the penetration into the population, is unprecendented.

The official narrative that “Covid is behind us,” and that the pandemic will be “over by January” (Gottlieb), and “I know some people seem to not want to give up on the wonderful pandemic, but you know what? It’s over” (Bill Maher) is completely exploded. What a surprise!

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) service area includes 43 municipalities in and around Boston, including not only multiple school systems but several large universities. Since Boston is so very education-heavy, then, I think it could be a good leading indicator for Covid spread in schools generally.

From CDC: “Community Profile Report” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties:

I have helpfully marked states where no data is being reported in gray. Systems are breaking down. The rest of the country looks somewhat worse (though in most of the country it couldn’t be worse).

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Makes you wonder when the entire map will be orange, especially since hospitalizations lag cases (Note trend, whether up or down, is marked by the arrow, at top. Admissions are presented in the graph, at the bottom. So it’s possible to have an upward trend, but from a very low baseline.)

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 859,356 855,843.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Might as well check out where we go, in case we bring something back (as from Italy to New York in 2020). This is a log scale. (Sorry for the kerfuffle at the left. No matter how I tinker, it doesn’t go away. (The data is from 2019, and so subject to subsequent events, but this is the best I can find.)

The excess deaths charts will appear weekly, on Friday.

Stats Watch

There are no official stats of interest today.

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The Bezzle: “Fake COVID testing sites are popping up across the US, officials warn. How to spot one” [Sacramento Bee]. “So what are the tell-tale signs of a rogue testing site? ‘If someone is asking for personal information, credit card information or asking you to pay, that might be a tip off to the rip off,’ Steve Bernas, president of BBB of Chicago & Northern Illinois, told WLS.” Wait, what? Sounds like insurance companies! More: “To protect yourself from being scammed, the BBB advises talking with your doctor about COVID-19 testing and where to find a legitimate testing clinic.” What doctor? More: “Avoid sharing sensitive information with strangers, the watchdog group warned, and don’t be afraid to ask for credentials. Test providers should also be able to answer questions about whether the test is FDA-authorized and which laboratory will process your results.” • Just spitballing here, but if some entity, an entity with some scale, were simply to — hear me out — mail free tests to every US resident, wouldn’t this problem go away?

Tech: “Taking a driverless Waymo in Phoenix over the holidays was fun but unsettling” [CNBC]. “Phoenix is the only market where Waymo is currently operating its self-driving ride-hailing service, Waymo One, to the general public, though test rides are available in San Francisco…. Waymo only reaches a portion of the sprawling Phoenix area. I knew this because earlier in my stay I’d tried to order a car, but the app told me I was outside its service region. According to its website, Waymo One operates in suburbs.” So, Phoenix suburbs are a proxy for traffic in the test of the country? Wide roads, big grids are the training set? Two incidents, one at the start: “I approached the van and was again surprised. It was illegally parked in a fire lane, which was apparent by the brightly painted red curb. It was also partially blocking a lane used by cars entering and exiting the shopping center. One car had to go around the Waymo to get into the parking lot.” And the other at the end: “Just as the car neared Trader Joe’s, it came to an abrupt stop, slamming the brake for an apparent pedestrian. It nearly gave me whiplash and made me particularly grateful for the working seatbelt. The jolt was surprising, as the car was going no more than seven miles an hour in a parking lot.” • So, problems with parking lots, then? Good to know.

Tech: “My first impressions of web3” [Moxie.org]. “One thing that has always felt strange to me about the cryptocurrency world is the lack of attention to the client/server interface. When people talk about blockchains, they talk about distributed trust, leaderless consensus, and all the mechanics of how that works, but often gloss over the reality that clients ultimately can’t participate in those mechanics. All the network diagrams are of servers, the trust model is between servers, everything is about servers. Blockchains are designed to be a network of peers, but not designed such that it’s really possible for your mobile device or your browser to be one of those peers…. For example, whether it’s running on mobile or the web, a dApp like Autonomous Art or First Derivative needs to interact with the blockchain somehow – in order to modify or render state (the collectively produced work of art, the edit history for it, the NFT derivatives, etc). That’s not really possible to do from the client, though, since the blockchain can’t live on your mobile device (or in your desktop browser realistically). So the only alternative is to interact with the blockchain via a node that’s running remotely on a server somewhere. A server! But, as we know, people don’t want to run their own servers. As it happens, companies have emerged that sell API access to an ethereum node they run as a service, along with providing analytics, enhanced APIs they’ve built on top of the default ethereum APIs, and access to historical transactions. Which sounds… familiar…. These client APIs are not using anything to verify blockchain state or the authenticity of responses. The results aren’t even signed. An app like Autonomous Art says ‘hey what’s the output of this view function on this smart contract,’ Alchemy or Infura responds with a JSON blob that says ‘this is the output,’ and the app renders it. This was surprising to me. So much work, energy, and time has gone into creating a trustless distributed consensus mechanism, but virtually all clients that wish to access it do so by simply trusting the outputs from these two companies without any further verification. It also doesn’t seem like the best privacy situation.” • Well worth a read.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 45 Neutral (previous close: 53 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 67 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 10 at 1:29pm.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on unemployment. “Covid is causing more people to quit their jobs” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 186. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.)


“You bought horse armor. You bought loot crates. You’ll buy in-game NFTs” [Quarter to Three (RH)]. “The gold rush for gaming Non-fungible Tokens (NFT) is on! Ubisoft is the first big-name publisher dipping into the “investment” fad by introducing Ubisoft Quartz. Think of it as a way to make your digital in-game doodads, (now called “Digits” because everything needs a brand name) artificially scarce by adding unique serial numbers to them.” • Libertarian brain geniuses have actually managed to create digital scarcity. Walter Benjamin would be stunned.

Class Warfare


And as a bonus, life expectancy is falling. And has been for years!

“Workers across the US are rising up. Can they turn their anger into a movement?” [Guardian]. “Millions of workers are angry – angry that they didn’t get hazard pay for risking their lives during the pandemic, angry that they’ve been forced to work 70 or 80 hours a week, angry that they received puny raises while executive pay soared, angry that they didn’t get paid sick days when they got sick. Out of this comes a question that looms large for America’s workers: will this surge of worker action and anger be a mere flash in the pan or will it be part of a longer-lasting phenomenon?… So why isn’t the labor movement seizing on this year’s burst of worker energy to build something bigger? I was discussing this with friend who is a professor of labor studies, and she said she thought that most of today’s union leaders were “constitutionally incapable” of building big or being bold and ambitious. She said that after decades of being on the defensive, of being beaten down by hostile corporations, hostile GOP lawmakers and hostile judicial decisions, many labor leaders seem unable to dream big or think outside the box on how to attract large numbers of workers in ways beyond the traditional one-workplace-at-a-time union drives. But building big and outside the box isn’t impossible for labor.” • If “Fight for $15” is “outside the box,” then heaven help us all. Outside the box would be — work with me, here — controlling the means of production.

“The Double Bind Of Maintaining The Schismogenesis: A Theory Of Wokeness” [Down with Tyranny]. “The U.S. during the 1960’s suffered an eruption of domestic rebellion, ranging from the civil rights movement and the feminist revolution to organized labor and the anti-war movement. Strangely enough, most of the leaders in these movements were assassinated (RFK, MLK, Malcolm X) or died under mysterious circumstances (Walter Reuther). Was it enough for the ruling elite that the leaders of these movements were dead (neutralized)? I contend that it was not and that the elites embarked on an additional strategy: capture of the movements to 1) prevent a resurgence of rebellion against the ruling elites and 2) prevent cross alliances between the various rebel factions, a reason theorized by some to explain the death of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, who was trying to unite the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, and the organized labor movement at the time of his death. From feminism, where a movement leader (Gloria Steinem) has been revealed to have worked for the CIA, to civil rights, where Black Lives Matters is subsidized by the Ford Foundation to the tune of $100 million, to organized labor, where the AFL-CIO provided assistance to various U.S. government regime change efforts, these movements are infested with corporate and state actors. Meanwhile, concrete measures of material progress, such as increased wages for the working class, universal healthcare, and support for organized labor remain curiously out of reach. There is a name for this highly effective signal jamming by government and corporate elites: maintaining the schismogenesis. Schismogenesis means the beginning of the breakdown of a relationship or a system…. The elite project of maintaining the schismogenesis has been effective for generations and was put into overdrive by the wokeness campaign. Now, with the need for national solidarity to address existential threats to the nation, set against the rise of the populist Right, are U.S. elites capable of retiring wokeness as a weapon, surrendering some material power to the non-elites, and therefore saving themselves and everyone else from the fallout of national collapse?” • Here’s a straw in the wind–

Hannah-Jones is, of course, toeing the party line–

“As More Teachers’ Unions Push for Remote Schooling, Parents Worry. So Do Democrats” [New York Times]. “in a number of other places, the tenuous labor peace that has allowed most schools to operate normally this year is in danger of collapsing. While not yet threatening to walk off the job, unions are back at negotiating tables, pushing in some cases for a return to remote learning. They frequently cite understaffing because of illness, and shortages of rapid tests and medical-grade masks. Some teachers, in a rear-guard action, have staged sick outs.” A rear-guard action? Fighting against whom? More: “National teachers’ unions continue to call for classrooms to remain open, but local affiliates hold the most power in negotiations over whether individual districts will close schools.” Ah, here we go. Guess who the Democrats are really worried about: “In Chicago and San Francisco, working-class parents of color disproportionately send their children to the public schools, and they have often supported strict safety measures during the pandemic, including periods of remote learning. And in New York, the nation’s largest school district, schools are operating in person with increased virus testing, with limited dissent from teachers. But the politics become more complicated in suburbs, where union leaders may find themselves at odds with public officials at pains to preserve in-person schooling.”

“What Is the Point of Economics?” [Matt Stoller, BIG]. “[T]his brings me to the point of economics, which has taken me a long time to understand. There are many economists who focus on trying to uncover important truths about the world, and there are many economists who seek to serve concentrated capital. There are smart ones, and dumb ones. But truth or falsehood, or empirical rigor, is besides the point. The point of economics as a discipline is to create a language and methodology for governing that hides political assumptions from the public. Truly successful economists, like Summers, spend their time winning bureaucratic turf wars and placing checks on elected officials.” • Certainly true of mainstream macro. Not, in my view, true of MMT. Or other more…. heterodox forms of economics.

News of the Wired

“The triffid’s day has come: designing with invasive plants” [Financial Times]. “These designers have a simple proposition: in society’s quest to find renewable raw materials, why not make use of sources that are abundant and unwanted, thereby also incentivising their removal? Their efforts fit into a counter-narrative outlined by the likes of the permaculture designer Tao Orion, whose 2015 book Beyond the War on Invasive Species describes the growth of the mechanical, chemical approach to managing weeds, arguing instead for a more pragmatic, incremental approach. After all, the term ‘invasive’, she says, is subjective. Many plants that are now considered invasive were transported deliberately during the Victorian era and, later, to tackle environmental inconveniences. The rapidly growing vine kudzu, for example, was promoted in North America in the 1920s and 1930s as a way of controlling soil erosion.” • ”We don’t sell anything that isn’t invasive,” say the ladies at the annual church flower sale.

Well, it works for us (dk):

Layered protection:

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) 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 (AG):

AG writes: “The afternoon sun is back lighting these Western Redbud seed pods and leaves…” I wonder what these same seed pods would look like at the same hour, covered with snow….

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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. NotThePilot

        I remember when Netflix first started recommending Aggretsuko to me, I thought, “What is going on with their algorithm?”

        But I finally watched the preview and then the show, and it is amazing. I’ve never been to Japan, but I’m familiar some with Japanese office culture, which makes it funny on a whole different level.

  1. TMoney

    Wanted: A middle class family* that was adverse affected by SALT limits.

    * You have to be close to the median household income for your state. Winner gets to be interviewed as a Unicorn on national TV. Extra credit if you’ve never donated to the R or D teams.

    Incomes over 200K need not apply.

    1. Librarian Guy

      It’s like all the “black small-time landlord apartment renters” that the media gets guided to by the Real Estate interests and local Chamber of Commerce to explain why Rent Control and unjust eviction protections are bad, right? And why there should be more evictions during Covid? As I recall the Citations Needed podcast “on the history of bu11shit” did a nice piece on local news and newspaper exploitation of this meme some x back . . .

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      Well, I am proof that there was at least one. Actually, it isn’t hard to find them if you know where to look: high tax state + community with exploding property values + long-time homeowners who live in a neighborhood that they can no longer afford to buy into. That’s why it’s not a prevalent condition but is clearly impactful in the relative handful of places in which those conditions exist. Losing it didn’t bother me that much because I was always blown away by the amount the deduction reduced my taxes – always seemed like kind of a scam – and I was planning on selling the house when the last kid moved out anyway (which I did). So I only got hit for one year.

      But there is no question that the vast majority of SALT deduction beneficiaries are wealthy.

  2. Lambert Strether Post author

    Somehow a duplicate copy of Water Cooler slipped into the middle of the post. If you can read this, you will have refreshed your browser, and won’t be seeing double any more.

    1. Samuel Conner

      not the whole thing, just COVID through Rapture Index.

      I wonder if there should be a ‘raptor index’. It could be the “excess deaths per million population” divided by the real median household income normalized to 1980.

      Of course, that won’t work long term. At some point the effects of COVID will get absorbed into expected deaths and there won’t be any more excess deaths. Problem solved.

  3. Randall Flagg

    Lambert, Is “lethal pudding”, just a polite way of describing the contents found in any sewer system across this great land?
    You might need an full on biohazard suit rather than yellow waders this time.
    Thanks in advance for your efforts.

      1. ArtDog_CT

        I am reminded of the dessert ‘Death by Chocolate’, so ‘Lethal Pudding’ seems it could well be a ligit menu item. I think it would work best for puddings of the English type; we USAians are used to finding pre-made ones in stores, so in this case ‘lethal pudding’ becomes a simple statement of fact.

        Also brilliant for a band name, agreed. The phrase could also be brought into service as euphemism to describe any number of things (bodily fluids, legislatures, a dismaying number of NGO and corporate Boards of Directors, etc.) “Whelp, the legislature came back in session and it’s one hell of a lethal pudding. Wouldn’t catch me dipping my spoon in that.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Lambert, Is “lethal pudding”, just a polite way of describing the contents found in any sewer system across this great land?

      No no, the term of art there is “fatberg.”

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Adding, for those who came in late, “This pudding has no theme” is a quote from Winston Churchill. There’s some controversy about the actually existing pudding:

      There is an old story about Sir Winston Churchill being served a more than usually conglomerate English dessert at the end of a moderately bibulous public. He tasted it experimentally and turned at once to the waiter hovering behind his chair he said a bit imperiously “Remove this pudding. I do not wish to eat this pudding. This pudding has no theme.”

      A RECENT James Reston column was enlivened by an anecdote about Winston Churchill and a bad dessert At a political luncheon at London’s posh Savoy Hotel Sir Winston was served a dessert which Harold who recorded the story for posterity described as a rather equivocal and shapeless mass of goo. Sir Winston glared at his dish then summoned the waiter. “Pray take away this pudding,” he said. “It has no theme.”

      (These quotes are from newspaper scans, which I cleaned up a bit.)

  4. Carolinian

    1/6 Committee retaining jurisdiction and not turning cases over to Garland

    Can they do that? Isn’t the Justice dept in charge of prosecuting crimes? Haven’t they been doing so already?

    Just asking…

    1. wilroncanada

      The committee needs a giant political football to toss onto the field at what they will consider to be an opportune time to clinch the election of congress critters in 2022. No doubt the DNC will screw it up by pre-inflating it for various donors and VIP dems. Of course many of them will leak the major news, thereby making the throw useless.
      They may keep it, on the other hand, to try to undermine whoever runs for the Republicans in 2024. Of course they will forget that after 2022 they no longer hold power, the Republicans have pre-gamed all the talking points, and many of them will themselves be under indictment. The political football will have all the staying power of a shrunken Belichick missile.

  5. AndrewJ

    I was thinking yesterday – dangerous, I know – about what it means that over the next few weeks, millions of people will not be able to show up for work, and how back in 2008, the Lehman brothers collapse was unthinkable right up until it wasn’t. I only dimly remember the exact mechanism of the crash, but I seem to remember that the push that brought the house of cards down involved the overnight loans that banks make to each other, or some other usually unseen drivetrain of paper that these edifices run on.
    I’d think that in an economy that represented the real world, taking millions of people offline would have actual effects, somewhere, and poorly regulated institutions that treat tomorrow like it’ll be similar to today may be a hair’s breadth from insolvency. And we’ll never know, until it happens.
    Therefore, what is keeping the Wall Street casino going is just how disconnected it is from the real world of people showing up to work and making sales or things.
    An unsettling thought.

    1. thoughtful person

      I agree, the stock market has no connection to main street, that is, people working or not.

      The stock market (Wall Street Casino) is (err, was) going up due to massive flooding of Fed liquidity.

      That quote from Sec. Fudge:
      “The United States is the only major economy in the world where the economy as a whole is stronger now than before the pandemic.”

      Uh huh. Sure it is – lots of $10/hr jobs available. Very safe ones too! I guess worker participation is flying off the chart, and as Lambert said, Jackpot bonus is plumetting life expectancy (started down well before pandemic).

      I guess it all depends on your definition of “Stronger”. Stronger for the 1% perchance?

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        Secretary…. Fudge. (You gotta be s****in’ me, right?)

        …Blinken you’ll miss ‘im?

        ….Pete Buttajeedge?

        Dickens couldn’t name them better.

        Puts me in mind of that Tommy Lee Jones line from ”Lincoln”:

        Thaddeus Stevens: The true purpose of the amendment, Mister Wood, you perfectly-named, brainless, obstructive object….

        Fatuous nincompoops abound.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’d think that in an economy that represented the real world, taking millions of people offline

      “that represented the real world”… There’s your problem.

      Taking millions of people offline would be a Great Financial Crash-level issue if having people online were levered in some way. I don’t see how that can be.

      1. AndrewJ

        “Offline” as in production line, or as in not working. Not disconnected from the Internet. There must be some tether that levers what productive work remains in the States, and connects it to the activity on the Street. I agree that all those valuations are pure fantasy, though. We’re a hollow country.

  6. Angie Neer

    Re Waymo in Phoenix. First, I love how TV reporters refer to cities as “markets”. Lets you know right off the bat where their heads are at. But more importantly, this and other recent stories raise the question of whether robot cars can be pulled over by police. I ask this in all seriousness. An acquaintance told me of getting a demo drive in a Tesla, where the Tesla owner was showing off “autopilot” on a city street (where Tesla officially states it should not be used). The acquaintance said it handled itself well, even making an appropriate lane change. But spotting a traffic light ahead, the owner disengaged autopilot because he said it would simply blow through a red light—it has no concept of traffic lights. OK, then what? I bet it doesn’t understand what flashing red and blue lights behind it mean, either. Are there laws about this?

    1. JohnnyGL

      That’s kind of a nice symbol of where we are as a society. We don’t really innovate for function, we just create novelties to amuse the PMC affluent consumers.

    2. albrt

      This is an interesting question, but not quite interesting enough for me to figure out the answer.

      The exact wording of the state laws matters a lot. For example, unlike many other states, you can’t get a DUI on bicycle in Arizona. The relevant statute defines DUI as having physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated, and the definition of vehicle excludes devices moved by human power.

      The Arizona stoplight statute mostly states what a “driver” may or may not do in different situations, so it is not clear whether a driverless vehicle may or may not do those things. The subsection on red lights says “vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal alone shall stop.” So a self-driving vehicle that fails to stop is violating the law, but the statute doesn’t say who gets the ticket. News articles indicate that Arizona has adopted rules under which “the company” is considered to be operating the vehicle, but I can’t give an opinion on how enforceable that is because at this point I kind of lost interest.

      I will say, I think it would be great if the mopes who hire these vehicles got the tickets. Good luck getting Elon Musk to bail you out.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > So a self-driving vehicle that fails to stop is violating the law, but the statute doesn’t say who gets the ticket.

        Certainly not Waymo! I mean, come on. What do you want to do, stifle innovation?

  7. Jason Boxman

    My suspicion is what we’re seeing is the needle getting buried due to lack of testing capacity. If it starts going sideways, that might confirm. What a horrific set of deliberate and inept policy decisions and political-economic goals have led us to this precipice.

    1. Watt4Bob

      My first test, back in December, results in less than 20 hours. Promise was 24-48.

      Took a test last Thursday, got an email on Saturday apologizing for the delay, “but due to staffing problems etc, etc…” your results will arrive in 48-72 hours.

      Received my negative result this am.

      Most testing staff was National Guard.

  8. Pat

    Gosh, I wonder what Democrats would have said if Donald Trump hired his brother to a five figure position with little to no job description to replace his job as a parking lot administrator….

    Oh wait, similar to the President of the US, Adams isn’t even pretending that corruption and nepotism isn’t SOP, and should only be a problem when an outsider does it.

    Trump may have been clarifying, but what is becoming increasingly obvious is that most of our political class still hasn’t accepted that people do notice, don’t like it and a significant portion have not gone back to brunch. It isn’t midterms that is going to be the knock to their heads, it is when Brandon cannot even pretend to be competitive with Orange man bad. And that day is getting closer every hour that passes.

    And I am really sorry that Lambert and his yellow waders must dive into yet another let me cover our asses but not actually do anything necessary to solve any problems lethal pudding of a speech. I honestly cannot think of one acceptable response to the Omicron surge, the rot has truly been from the head.

      1. KLG

        Hey, Dean of Parking is the third most important administrative position at VCU, or any other large, urban university!

  9. Jeremy Grimm

    “And on Thursday: “President Joe Biden will make a speech on his administration’s ‘whole-of-government COVID-19 surge response.’” • He’s gonna make me pull on my yellow waders again, isn’t he?”
    Lambert, you may need more than yellow waders. There are many indications you may find sink holes, sections of quicksand, and a hidden maelstrom further out in the Bidden backwaters.

  10. Maggie

    Those Boston waste water sample results have had my attention for weeks. So not surprising that the following link from Flutrackers caught my eye today: Increase of SARS-CoV-2 RNA load in faecal samples prompts for rethinking of SARS-CoV-2 biology and COVID-19 epidemiology. F1000Research:

    From the abstract: Results
    Our results indicate that SARS-CoV-2 replicates in vitro in bacterial
    growth medium, that the viral replication follows bacterial growth and
    it is influenced by the administration of specific antibiotics. SARS-CoV-
    2-related peptides have been detected in 30-day bacterial cultures and

    Our observations are compatible with a ‘bacteriophage-like’ behaviour
    of SARS-CoV-2, which, to our knowledge has not been observed or
    described before. These results are unexpected and hint towards a
    novel hypothesis on the biology of SARS-CoV-2 and on the COVID-19
    epidemiology. The discovery of possible new modes of action of SARS-
    CoV-2 has far-reaching implications for the prevention and the
    treatment of the disease.

      1. Maggie

        Yes for the “brain trust”…. Findings include showing Azithromycin reduced RNA load in fecal culture to undetectable… (was reminded it is part of FLCCC protocol along with that item which can not be named but preferred by horses worldwide…)

        1. amechania

          Someone linked the company behind these tests 2 days ago, which I looked into their company website.

          Lots of harvard types working there, and lots of PMC positions filled in with bios. No word on the people who actually are scooping the poop.


          biobot analytics sounds pretty similar to cambridge analytica, but I’m foily.

          *edit* shout out to the world bank! referenced on their home page.

          1. Maggie

            The research article/abstract isn’t connected to the company you reference amechania.. not sure where the confusion came into play….

            Mauro Petrillo 1, Carlo Brogna 2, Simone Cristoni3, Maddalena Querci1,
            Ornella Piazza 4, Guy Van den Eede1,5
            1European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Ispra, Italy
            2Craniomed group srl, Montemiletto, Italy
            3ISB Ion Source & Biotechnologies Srl, Bresso, Italy
            4Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Salerno, Baronissi, Italy
            5European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Geel, Belgium

            Peer reviewers: Kourosh Honarmand Ebrahimi ,
            University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
            Margarita Aguilera , University of
            Granada, Granada, Spain

      2. R

        Fascinating if true!

        Bacteriophage are viruses that infect bacteria. They are myriad – some of the most numerous things on the planet. They have two lifecycles, a lysosomal and a lytic one (lysis is when the virus bursts the host cell to spread out). I don’t remember the finer points of this – need to do some reading tonight!

        A lot of research was undertaken into them in Eastern Europe at the same time as Western medicine was focused on small molecule antibiotics. There are some challenges with bacteriophage therapy (what is the dose? how do you handle them? do they remain stable) but intractable bacterial infections can be addressed with precision, avoiding wiping out good commensal species, and potentially without side effects (I say potentially because although there are no chemical side effects, simultaneously splitting open a lot of harmful bacteria may prove unsurvivable for the patient and there may be off-target effects wiping out good bacteria!).

        The paper is saying that incubating a suspension of a stool sample from a non-Covid patient and then innoculating it with the supernatant (essentially, the liquid filtered off) from a Covid patient’s sample, produces visible Sars-CoV-2 growth (detected by RNA) in the non-Covid sample. The implication is that the bacterial colony from the healthy patient is supporting Sars-CoV-2 replication – but the sample contains no human cells nor common fungi, just bacteria, so the virus is replicating in the bacteria.

        More intriguingly, certain antibiotics then suppress this growth, the implication being that the antibiotics suppress the specific bacterial populations targeted by Sars-CoV-2 acting as a bacteriophage. There is then speculation about which human cell receptors are present in bacteria that Sars-CoV-2 may be targeting.

        Ultimately – is Sars-CoV-2 continuing to infect the gut bacteria of certain patients who no longer show active infection themselves; does this create a new route of infection and was the recommendation to use AZT and other antibiotics actually right for the wrong reasons, helping certain patients who otherwise had a reservoir of Sars-CoV-2 infection in their body?

        I’m not sure this paper provides any answers but it raises some great questions!

        1. Maggie

          Thank you R for your translation! Yes indeed some really great questions are raised by the experimental findings!

    1. GramSci

      Do you think SARS-CoV-2 might replicate in bat guano??! Let’s ask Dr Daszak Dr Fauci the NIH the CDC … never mind.

    2. shargash

      I’ve been wondering for a while if there isn’t something more going on with sars-cov-2. How are all those deer getting the virus? Try not social distancing from a wild deer. Try spending some time indoors with one.

    3. KLG

      I have seen a previous version of this or a similar paper.

      No. There is a vanishingly small chance (zero, actually) that a mammalian virus could penetrate a bacterial cell in a phage-line manner and then replicate in bacterial cells. If penetration were possible, there is no prospect of a bacterial cell being able to subsequently support the assembly of a mature virus and then transport it out of the bacterial cell, where it could then infect another host cell, bacterial or otherwise. More than 2 billion years of evolution stand in the way.

      1. Maggie

        KLG.. appreciate your view and critique. What would you, or maybe better put, how would you account for the B(a+) aliquot experimental findings? I would agree in Round 1 there could have been cross contamination…but contamination in all subsequent repeats? Worth noting I am a retired chemist and understand the wastewater testing much better than “bacteriophage behavior”… that being said the recent Boston WWTP Covid monitoring results have been an eye opener for me…

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > There is a vanishingly small chance (zero, actually) that a mammalian virus could penetrate a bacterial cell in a phage-line manner and then replicate in bacterial cells.

        Thank you.

  11. Pelham

    Re schismogenesis: I don’t see how the elites can simply play down or even lay aside wokeness at this point. The chalice is forever poisoned.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      As Adolph Reed frequently says about Antiracism (a fair proxy for Wokeness), it’s not a substitute for class politics; it is a class politics, that of the professional managerial class.

      I’m also convinced that Wokeness functions as a generational and professional filter/hammer in professions that are facing increased precarity and proletarianization. Academia and media (where the case of NYT science writer Don McNeil is instructive) come immediately to mind: being Woker Than Thou is a way to cull those blocking advancement for younger professionals facing structurally declining prospects, while instilling herd behavior.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        It was a secular religious movement before it got taken up as a social class weapon.

        It seems psychologically to be modeled on certain kinds of Christianity. White people are born with Original Sin, the Original Racial Sin of White Privilege. But they can wash away their Original White Privilege Sin by letting Wokeness into their hearts and becoming BornWoke Again.

        “BornWoke Again” White people try converting you to Wokeness with as much fervor as “Born Again” Christians might try converting you to “Born Again” Christianity.

  12. Pelham

    Re mass representative democracy: A very fine idea. But rather than start at the city level, I’d suggest going national and forming a kind of shadow government. The national scale is where all the soul-lifting the action is and the latitude to propose and do great and inspiring things (given MMT-style control of the currency).

    1. Swamp Yankee

      I do think it is important to note that what Waldman proposes already has four century-old precedent at the local level in this country — the New England Open Town Meeting, in which every citizen is a legislator (or every voter, rather). Solzhenitsyn was absolutely amazed by this form of direct democracy during his exile in Vermont. In my own community, we just voted, unanimously, to save a local cranberry bog (and thus our water supply, as well) from development by voting to purchase it at a Special Town Meeting called for this purpose. The Annual Town Meeting, in March, does things like the budget.

      There are problems, of course, I, in my late 30s, am often the youngest one by decades there, the turnout is a tiny proportion of the Town (a Town of 15,000 people will often have a few hundred turn up to Town Meeting), it is difficult for working people to make Saturday and/or weeknight meetings. But the potential is really great, and I have seen Town Meetings stand up and defy, by huge margins, corporate enclosers from the Realtor-Developer Industrial Complex, throughout my region. You see that far less with mayor-council governments, in my experience, which strike me as being inherently more corruptible. Any citizen being able to bring a motion or amendment from the floor is really a huge power in the Open Town Meeting, too.

      Jefferson famously also proposed “ward democracy,” based on his love of the New England Town Meeting (n.b. my first vote was at the 2001 Annual Town Meeting, in favor of the Town approving the wonderful Massachusetts Community Preservation Act), in which the entire country would be divided into groups of about 100 people, who would then directly govern themselves.

      Waldman’s proposal strikes me as in a very similar vein, and I welcome it from an urban-based writer.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’d suggest going national and forming a kind of shadow government.

      I have been thinking along the same lines for some years:

      1) Party as membership organization (you pay dues)

      2) Fixed platform good for decades out (universal concrete material benefits). Like the Temperance Movement. Stop all this NGO toing and froing and stratagerists tuning platforms to focus groups. It’s thoroughly unprincipled.

      3) Parallel voting system. I would strongly advocate hand-marked paper ballots counted in public, possibly at union halls or granges, because I think that the alternative many younger voters would prefer, voting with their phones, is both atomizing and hackable.

      I think the DSA got it right with #1….

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If there becomes a shadow party in the shadow of that shadow government, I hope it sticks to a small least-common-denominator platform of several things with broad appeal to most people. And beyond that, I hope it can accept that some members will be pro-gun-rights and some members will be pro-gun-control ( for example) without affecting the good standing of those members.

        That way, the shadow party can focus on making a few broadly relevant-to-most–people things like Universal CanadaCare for all Legal Residents, a Mandatory Minimum Good-Thriving Wage, etc.

        If such a shadow party decides to take one side in a culture war, it will be membership-limited to the supporters of that side in a culture war, and will be the immediate target of focused hatred by everyone on the other side of a culture war. To do that would be to engage in full powered descent into terrain . . . which a shadow party would certainly have the right to do.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > And beyond that, I hope it can accept that some members will be pro-gun-rights and some members will be pro-gun-control ( for example) without affecting the good standing of those members.

          I think the key would be to eliminate as many of these grey areas as possible. If a policy isn’t in the platform, subscribing to it is not a duty for party members. I’d keep guns off the platform. “This is want we want. If you want other stuff, feel free to advocate for it elsewhere.” I’d fix the platform in stone for at least three Presidential election cycles (a la 1852, 1856, 1860….). Lots of reasons for this, including getting NGOs and identity politics out of the game.

      2. JBird4049

        IIRC, the Irish did create a parallel legal system just before independence as well as attempting to override or supplant local government at the same time. Beside fighting a war, all this. I don’t know much more than that, but I suspect that is one of the reasons for the British acquiescing to independent. If a majority of a society is ignoring the legal system and creating and following their own, it is difficult to use the official legal system for control. Or just controlling that society at all. It is, I think, the reason for the destruction of the original, native legal system by the invading British, which went as far as destroying all, but one, of the Irish legal libraries that could be found. IIRC, it took centuries of effort, but it was successful.

      3. Joe Renter

        I joined the DSA. I see not enough viable alternatives. I Have not voted for a president of the two same party system for 20 years. I think of moving to Cuba…

    3. The Rev Kev

      In reading the description in that proposal, it sounded very much like one proposed in an episode of “Yes Minister” called “Power to the People” where a lot of power would be distributed downwards to the local level. It was a proposal be a leading female professor to the PM. So what happened? Sir Humphrey, who represented the bureaucracy, and a radical, militant socialist feminist council leader decided that this could never be allowed as they thought that they would both be sidelined to local opinions and so teamed up to defeat it. When both parties realized that this would also mean the end of party rule in government, that sealed the deal.

    1. JBird4049

      Again, may this Californian apologies for our state inflicting Her Kamalaness on the United States and the world. I never, ever thought that aside from the unlikely rise to the governorship, maybe, I would see such a cruel non-entity rise to a such an influential position as being heartbeat from the presidency. Former Speaker of the Assembly and former Mayor of San Francisco, “Slick” Willie Brown has some explaining as to why he got his former girlfriend into politics.

      Heck, I thought after seeing her botch being San Francisco’s district attorney that she would be unable to remind in politics. Silly me. Even for San Francisco, and especially for California, she was incompetent even for two governments that overflow with the trait. This just you shows how little I actually know.

      Our elites have engineered the national parties and their membership to where Kamala Harris and Donald J. Trump are the most likely candidates for the presidency, which just shows how self-centered and corrupt they are. I will not say they incompetent as they are still very competent at getting what they want for themselves at least for the short term.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        A Trump v Harris contest would create a powerful vacuum for Tulsi Gabbard to try filling by running as some kind of Independent. She and whatever Running-Mate-Choice she picked could try getting themselves on the ballots of certain key electoral states which if she won them would deny either brand name party the Prez victory. She could then get it thrown into the House of Reps unless her victories in Republican-wired states were nullified by the Republican State House Conspiracy . . . which would be a bad look for Republicans. Such an outcome would further de-legitimize a fast self-burning-down occupation regime.

      2. Michael

        But remember, Willie also said ” Don’t go for VP, its a dead end job”.
        Go for Att Gen where the real power lies.

        I join you in apologizing for the “folks” we exiled from CA politics to DC, in the hopes of getting a better draw from the up and comers. FAIL!!!

  13. Reader_In_Cali

    Re: the Rapid Riser COVID map and Lambert’s assertion that systems are breaking down (evidenced by a lack of state reporting))

    An anecdote from CA: a dear friend, who almost certainly has COVID, went to go get tested Friday when he started feeling ill. When he went to log in the portal today to try and check results the site was completely offline. This has never happened with COLOR, the company running some of the free testing sites, here.

    See tweet: https://twitter.com/joshuawdavidson/status/1480599488859234307?s=21

  14. Kurtismayfield

    RE:Teachers pushing for remote learning.

    We already have defacto remote learning for the quarantined students right now. My High school had a 57% attendance rate today, and the nurse was doing rapid tests all day and sending kids home. With the low temps tomorrow we are going to dip under 50%.

    So remote learning here we come!

    1. Sam

      Property tax payers need to seriously consider withholding school parcel taxes and perhaps even other property taxes, since there are no longer in person public meetings, libraries and town halls are closed and no in person attendance at school.
      Send them some ‘virtual’ video game money instead to match their virtual ‘services’.

      Homesteaded homes are untouchable to creditors. Print the forms online and submit to your county assessor. It triggers federal protection against all creditors and lien holders.


    2. Lee

      From our friend, a special Ed. teacher at an Oakland CA high school in a very poor minority neighborhood: 85% of students staying home, most as a result of parental choice. No fools they, and ditto for the teachers staging sick outs.

      Teacher ‘Sickout’ Over COVID Safety Concerns Force School Closures in Oakland NBC News

    3. CGKen

      Here’s a new one. Our kids have been going to school in person for the past week. This afternoon the district announced a switch to remote for the next week because the company contracted to clean the schools doesn’t have enough healthy workers.

      Somehow the district thinks they’ll be able to find a different company to take over the contract before next Tuesday.

        1. CGKen

          A little bit of that (wiping the plexiglass that is between kids at lunch) but also just the standard cleaning that has to get done every day in a school.

          A few decades ago the district would have directly employed the cleaning staff and presumably would have a better idea of any staffing problems before the crisis point is reached

    1. allan

      As a reminder, Florida only counts full time residents.
      Snowbirds and tourists are only welcome for the dollars they spend,
      not for any positive cases and deaths they might experience while in the Sunshine Alligator State.
      If they did, the “winner” of the national championship in that chart might in fact be FL!FL!!FL!!!

  15. johnherbiehancock

    re: missing state data in the COVID map

    Is it a little odd that the states that show no colored counties: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT (and I’d also note AK) are all alphabetically first among states? Maybe the first several lines of their spreadsheet got cut off?

    1. Lou Anton

      As good of a reason as any. But this has happened several days in a row now…which means nobody’s actually paying attention to the Rapid Riser data (or any at this point?).

      Is anyone looking at the Community Profile Report? Is it just on autopilot and no one is at the controls? (i.e., just like everything else in this administration)

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Maybe the first several lines of their spreadsheet got cut off?

      Truly, the NC commentariat is the best commentariat. My hat is off to you! Here are the first ten in alpha order:

      [x] Alabama
      [x] Alaska
      [x] Arizona
      [x] Arkansas
      [x] California
      [x] Colorado
      [x] Connecticut
      [ ] Delaware
      [ ] Florida
      [ ] Georgia

      [x] AK Alaska
      [x] AL Alabama
      [x] AR Arkansas
      [x] AZ Arizona
      [x] CA California
      [x] CO Colorado
      [x] CT Connecticut
      [ ] DE Delaware
      [ ] FL Florida
      [ ] GA Georgia

      Either way you sort.

      Given that other readers have said data is being collected locally, it makes a lot of sense that something really simple and really stupid is happening on somebody’s desk at CDC. And it’s been two days, now, and nobody has noticed!

      1. Notes2sean@hotmail.com

        Any reason why both are not proper for the year 2022? I augur that President Biden and Speaker Pelosi are augering the Democratic Party straight into the Grand Canyon.

  16. Hickory

    Did propublica jump the shark? I was doing some climate change research and found this: https://projects.propublica.org/climate-migration/

    They show much of the country with improved gdp as if unplanned forced migration wasn’t gonna be one of the climate change costs.

    What’s more ridiculous is after showing how New York and Boston will be under water, they proceed to show those cities’ counties as having net gdp benefit from climate change! What the heck? When I sound Propublica years ago it seemed like they did good work. This is some serious willful blindness.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Unless of course a secret anti Pro Publica mole wormed its way into Pro Publica and posted this story to get Pro Publica to self-discredit itself in public.

  17. Michael Fiorillo

    “… the Capitol Seizure is their (Democrats) ace in the hole…”

    Royt, just like Russiagate, …

    While granting that, unlike Russiagate, at least January 6th happened, the delusion and folly of that plan is hard to fathom.

    1. jimmy cc

      Remember the 6th!!!

      probably a good message for the donors but the rest of us really could care less.

  18. NotThePilot

    In re “Priorities:”

    I’d have to dig a bit deeper into how GDP by industry has shifted, but I realized recently: what if part of the reason the US “economy” is growing isn’t because we “let ‘er rip” to keep everything running, but simply because we “let ‘er rip”?

    That’s always been the dumbest, most wicked part of GDP right? That even people dying en masse is “growth” as long as you monetize it somehow: hospital visits, funeral services, estate lawyers, etc.

    1. Huey Long

      That’s always been the dumbest, most wicked part of GDP right? That even people dying en masse is “growth” as long as you monetize it somehow: hospital visits, funeral services, estate lawyers, etc.

      That’s grim even for the dismal science! Wouldn’t be shocked if you’re right.

  19. Mantid

    Short follow up on Wuk’s comment in Links regarding not being able to use cash.
    Regard this video by John Titus on “the US Federal Reserve and how they will be setting a digital currency and getting rid of cash.”. Cut to 4:10 for a telling quote regarding the Bank for International Settlements’ (the bank of banks) desire to be able to track and control every “$100 bill”. And you think mandates are difficult? Le link: https://covid19alternativeperspectives.wordpress.com/2021/08/14/john-titus-best-evidence-blackrock-and-bis-using-pandemic-to-implement-totalitarianism/

    For fun, a couple musical inserts regarding “cash”:
    and another:
    Ol’ Blues:
    Pop Country:

    OK, I go

  20. griffen

    Invasive species, interesting article. I am certainly not of the gardener variety, but is curious how to cultivate uses for species of plants that are or have become widespread anathema to the locals. Using plant called lantana instead of bamboo, for example, in India.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Please expand on your thoughts regarding lantana instead of bamboo. I am very fond of bamboo for its quick growth and anything you might share about lantana instead
      would be helpful. I look to bamboo for shade and charcoal. Can lantana help or surpass bamboo?

      Also, I am not so opposed to the hated kudzu. I have read that goats love the stuff and wonder whether other animals might like it in a less wild form. [They do eat their own when turned into feed ([soylent cow) — source of ongoing mad cow disease after Neoliberal alterations to feed preparation for livestock and deer.]

      1. griffen

        I’m really not a resource just was interested to read about what can be done regarding invasive plants. Check that, definitely not a resource.

      2. steve

        Oh sure, plant you some Kudzu. There is no tame “less wild” form though there are flower color variations. If you live in an agreeable climate zone it will give you years of enjoyment. Just a bit of root is all you need to get started.

  21. Carla

    “if some entity, an entity with some scale, were simply to — hear me out — mail free tests to every US resident, wouldn’t this problem go away?”

    Maybe… the Pentagon?

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      If, that is iff, an ‘entity’ were to mail free tests, … and iff … the tests actually ‘worked’ and iff, they had minimal false positives, and minimal false negatives … the problem might go away, in the best of all possible worlds.

  22. Jen

    Rapid Riser Counties. That big red blob in NH would be the return of the undergrads to my humble institution. I look forward, if that’s the word, to this weeks numbers after a weekend of co-mingling in the dorms.

    1. petal

      We should place bets on what tomorrow night’s updated numbers will be. You know, for fun. Any bookies in the house? (j/k…kind of.)

  23. Hepativore

    So, did anybody else catch the lionization of Dick Cheney by the Democrats over the January 6th commemoration the other day? Everybody seems to have forgotten Bush and Cheney’s role in destroying the constitution, yet here Cheney is being held up as some sort of champion of Democracy yet he was part of the administration that largely erased the 4th amendment among other things. Here is more for those who have not heard…

    Liberal Cringe on 1/6 (Breaking Points)


    Dick Cheney Welcomed as Protector of Democracy by Dems (Secular Talk)


    In a few years, the establishment Democrats will all start worshipping Donald Trump.

  24. Carla

    Re: Plantidote:

    “AG writes: “The afternoon sun is back lighting these Western Redbud seed pods and leaves…” I wonder what these same seed pods would look like at the same hour, covered with snow….”

    Lambert, by the time snow flies, the pods will have released their seeds to create new Redbuds, and the pods themselves will be enriching the earth as natural compost…

  25. Wukchumni

    (It could be that these states are simply closer to DC, but that CA, TX, and FL are also deep colored, suggesting the rioters were willing to travel.)
    I was relieved that my to the right of right brother in law from Tucson wasn’t @ the 1/6 festivities, and he’s the type who would’ve flown first class to Humordor, stayed @ a posh hotel and then would have donned the usual garb to better look the part during the rally-a lower middle class prole decked out in Trumpanalia…

    Can’t imagine ratting him out though, if my sister found out I did, she’d never talk to me again, and I like sis too much to ever do that.

    1. Rodeo Clownfish

      Regarding this travel issue, weren’t a lot of the protesters bussed in at the expense of others? Perhaps the uneven availability of free transport from the different states to DC contributes to variability of attendance.

      I couldn’t find a single overarching story on the buses; but here a few examples:




      Apparently the claim that Clarence Thomas’ wife sponsored some of the buses is false, at least according to Snopes.

  26. The Rev Kev

    “January 6 Insurrection: One Year Later, Families Are Still Divided”

    That story starts of by taking about a guy named Jackson Reffitt who snitched on his dad to the FBI. Nothing personal, it was just for the greater good (chorus – ‘the greater good’). I’m pretty sure that I read about this guy a few days ago talking about his dad in prison. Seems that the Jan 6th prisoners were being kept together there where they are bonding more closely that ever and all singing the national anthem at night before going to sleep. So this guy will be more convinced than ever that he did the right thing when he comes out but I imagine that Thanksgiving is going to be an awkward time of year as will January 6th. Dammit, the majority of those people should have been charged & fined with trespassing, given a financial kick up the s** and sent on their way. Instead, they have made them into a Legion of the Martyrs.

    1. JBird4049

      Has anyone compared them to Nelson Mandela, the ANC, and the years at Robben Island?

      I wonder how many heads would go kaboom with that comparison?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Seems that the Jan 6th prisoners were being kept together there where they are bonding more closely that ever and all singing the national anthem at night before going to sleep.

      That didn’t work out real well for Sadat with the Muslim Brotherhood….

    3. Anon

      Instead? Wait… that wasn’t the plan?

      *checks notes*

      Ah, yes, I see it here: “Unintentional”… carry on

  27. stefan

    Political economy ought to be a philosophy, a systematic analysis and vision of justice, of ethics, and of rationality.

    The twenty-first century must draw its inspiration solely out of the future.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’ve been looking for Peggy-O versions. All about colonization, violence, and sex. “What would your mama think if she heard my guineas clink….” Powerful stuff.

  28. VietnamVet

    This sure feels like a culmination point. US government can’t even keep track of the pandemic disaster.

    The mixed up corporate/state propaganda is stoking fear and scapegoating the unvaccinated to increase for-profit injections but it then says Omicron variant is mild. If this is truly the last wave, the current political/economic system will assure that the pandemic is forgotten just like the Spanish flu. Nevertheless, the real problem is that to eradicate the virus requires a functioning government dedicated to improving public health. The current system exploits American illness to make money from those who can go into debt to pay for a cure (not by preventing illness). The pandemic will only end by human intervention if and when democracy replaces the oligarchy. The current intentionally corrupt/incompetent system is unable to anything.

    The 2020 lockdowns saved the hospital systems. It looks like none this time. This could collapse hospital care within weeks throughout the USA.

    Until it is another common cold, Western citizens will play Russian Roulette with the mutating coronavirus virus which defines success as being successfully transferred from one to another human being four or five times every week.

    Stopping transmission is the only way to eradicate coronavirus. This is what China, Taiwan and Japan are doing.

  29. Anon

    I was thoroughly amused by 1/6, I laughed, out loud, when I saw the viking fellow. (Apologies to anyone who lost someone at such a ludicrous event)

    I was less amused when I realized the libs were taking it seriously.

    Even less amused, more quizzical, that it was performed by the right, and that it was about the election… (huh?)

    Not even slightly amused that the day was compared to 9/11, simultaneously insulting any American worth their salt, and Bin Laden in the same breath.

    Meanwhile, the “petite bourgeoisie” (no identity politics here Lambert!) are doing what they do: trolling hard, loving every minute of the liberal meltdown. Good for them, all fat and happy off Pelosi’s pretend ire. She wears a good Kente cloth too.

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