2:00PM Water Cooler 1/13/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

More winter birds. “A pair of birds building a nest about 3m up in a tall black spruce in open spruce muskeg.”

* * *

Politics

“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

UPDATE “Founder of far-right Oath Keepers militia group, 10 others charged with seditious conspiracy in Jan. 6 Capitol attack” [Associated Press]. “Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group, has been arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy in the attack on the U.S. Capitol, authorities said Thursday. Ten other people also were charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the attack on Jan. 6, 2021, when authorities said members of the extremist group came to Washington intent on stopping the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory…. The indictment against Rhodes alleges Oath Keepers formed two teams, or “stacks,” that entered the Capitol. The first ‘stack’ split up inside the building to separately go after the House and Senate. The second ‘stack’ confronted officers inside the Capitol Rotunda, the indictment said. Outside Washington, the indictment alleges, the Oath Keepers had stationed two ‘quick reaction forces’ that had guns ‘in support of their plot to stop the lawful transfer of power.'” • Finally, a case to answer. Good. (Since Thomas Caldwell, who also held “a leadership role” in the Oath Keepers, was an FBI informant, it’s hard to see how this got so out of hand, if indeed it did.)

Biden Adminstration

Yep:

My man Biden, that is. Zients is, unsurprisingly, full of it. The Biden Administration has not done “everything,” even in their own limited terms. They had a year to get testing, treatment, and masks right. Now they are frantically trying to catch up on the first two, and Walensky is fighting a desperate read-guard action against N95s (see below). Klain, Fauci, Zients, and Walensky should all get the axe. Na ga happen.

Many of us share this view:

I would imagine the “data” is on corporate and family office income statement. So we’ll never see it.

“Biden was forged in the Senate. Now he’s burning political capital to change it.” [Politico]. “Just as he tried to resolve myriad disputes on his domestic spending plans late last year, Biden is wading directly into a protracted battle within his own party over weakening the Senate filibuster. After edging from defender to critic of the chamber’s 60-vote requirement to pass most bills — which has been a roadblock to many of his top priorities — Biden will visit Senate Democrats on Thursday to emphatically argue for changing the Senate rules to pass a party-line election reform bill. But it appears unlikely the president can move two of his party’s most ardent filibuster defenders, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) or Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), off their defense of the Senate’s supermajority requirement…. Democrats say it’s better for Biden to try and fail with his latest long-shot effort than not try at all. After all, the president, himself a 36-year veteran of the Senate, campaigned as a skilled navigator of the Hill who could leverage relationships into legislative progress.” • Indeed.

Democrats en Déshabillé

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

* * *

“Muted and deferential, the UK’s scientists have failed the pandemic test” [New Statesman]. “Yes, according to James Wilsdon of Sheffield University. ‘I think it’s hard to disentangle some of what we’re seeing from the government on masks and so on from the broader rise of a form of ‘post-accountability politics’, in which MPs and top officials no longer need to justify breaches of ethical or procedural standards. It has now completely infected the British body politic. And as the top science advisers work so closely with and for their political masters, it seems inevitable that this infection has spread to them, too.’ These concerns were raised in the summer lull of 2020. Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, told me then that ‘the relationship between the scientific advisers and politicians in the early phase of the epidemic was strangely collusive’. Wilsdon, too, was troubled from the start. ‘The very first moment I saw those press conferences, with the CMO [Whitty] and GCSA [Vallance] flanking the Prime Minister it rang all sorts of alarm bells, in terms of lines of accountability and the blurring of the distinction between advice and decision-making.'” • ”Strangely collusive….”

“Why the Left Couldn’t Destroy Rahm Emanuel” [Politico]. “Emanuel started out as an operative, as a fundraiser and campaign hand for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee…. What Emanuel knows is that in modern political culture, operatives — who are close to the gossip, to the evolving media narrative, to who is trying to knife who — often have more real power than principals. It is the same thing that an operative-turned-principal of another generation, James Baker, understood. Even after he became secretary of the Treasury and secretary of State, he never stopped working Washington and working the story. Who is that ringing my mobile phone on a Sunday morning? Oh, it’s Rahm…. How many people get these calls? I feel sure there are many dozen…. Perhaps that proves we are all equally swamp creatures. But, simply on practical grounds, the operative mindset is essential to how Emanuel wields power. It is why he made common cause with Biden in the Obama White House. It is why chief of staff and fellow operative Ron Klain (who can be seen as he looked 30 years ago with Emanuel in The War Room, the Clinton ’92 cam

paign documentary) believed he had to come up with some cool job for Emanuel even once the original idea of secretary of Transportation didn’t come through. It was why several key members of Chicago City Council’s Black Caucus, as well as New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, backed Emanuel’s ambassadorial nomination, preventing the vote from becoming a racial litmus test…. An aside: Given how much politicians fret over news coverage — craving more of it, yet also bemoaning what they do get — it’s surprising how few have mastered the relatively easy art of working the media. There’s nothing that Emanuel does that could not be done by any ambitious politician on left or right. He’s already working the Japanese media.” • What a shame this from The Thick of It is not a propos:

“Centrist Democrats urge progressives to tamp down rhetoric” [The Hill]. “‘I think that it is a time for some careful thinking about what wins elections, and not just in deep-blue districts where a Democrat and a liberal Democrat, or so-called progressive Democrat, is going to win,’ Clinton told NBC News in a recent interview, effectively throwing a grenade into the longest running intraparty debate in recent cycles. ‘Winning elections is not about looking good. It’s about being good,’ Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) told The Hill on Tuesday. ‘If Democrats brought home expansive climate action, a federal minimum wage of at least $15, paid leave, police reform, and ‘Medicare for All,’ we would win in a landslide,’ she said. ‘The problem is that these are not getting done, year after year, even while basic necessities like housing and health care keep getting more and more expensive.’ ‘The path forward is to actually enact policies that address the pain people are feeling across the country, not pretend that pain doesn’t exist,’ Bush said.” • I think Bush needs to show more deference to a party elder. Commentary:

Grifter extraordinaire Trump doesn’t owe me six hundred bucks. Scranton Joe does.

2022

“Redistricting: Ohio Supreme Court strikes down state House and Senate maps” [Columbus Dispatch]. “The Ohio Supreme Court struck down GOP-drawn state House and Senate district maps as unconstitutional gerrymandering in a 4-3 decision Wednesday, sending the maps back to the drawing board. Advocates of redistricting reform hailed the decision as a resounding victory for Ohio voters who overwhelmingly approved changes to the state constitution to limit partisan line-drawing in 2015…. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the Ohio Redistricting Commission – which is tasked with drawing legislative maps and dominated by Republicans – could not ignore parts of the Ohio Constitution that required them to attempt to match the statewide voting preferences of voters, according to the court’s majority opinion, written by Justice Melody Stewart. Those preferences, according to Stewart’s opinion, were 54% for Republican candidates and 46% for Democratic candidates over the past decade.” • Stewart, interestingly, was elected.

But the other guy is worse:

Rich suburbanites:

2024

“Biden-Cheney 2024?” [Thomas Friedman, New York Times]. “‘Not at all,’ said Levitsky. “We should be ready to talk about Liz Cheney as part of a blow-your-mind Israeli-style fusion coalition with Democrats. It is a coalition that says: ‘There is only one overriding goal right now — that is saving our democratic system.'” • As usual, when liberal Democrats say “our”, they mean it.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Democidal elites watch:

Walensky is doubtless being cheered on by droplet goons in the hospital “infection control” [hollow laughter] community, which from the beginning was vociferously opposed decent masking for proles (and on whose behalf Fauci’s noble lies were told, as well as WHO’s).

“Walensky says CDC mask recommendation will not change” [The Hill]. “Walensky acknowledged that the CDC’s website is ‘in need of updating right now’ to include information on the “different levels of protection different masks provide,” including the improved filtration of KN95 and N95 masks. ‘We want to provide Americans with the best and most updated information to choose what mask is going to be right for them,’ she said.” • FFS. More: “‘What I will say is the best mask that you can that you wear is the one that you will wear and the one you can keep on all day long that you can tolerate in public indoor settings and tolerate where you need to wear it,’ the CDC director added.” • CDC, that is, is providing “information” and not guidance. And the CDC’s budget is ~$8 billion. Is out-of-her-depth and flailing Walensky really saying they don’t have the money to keep their website updated on a key non-pharmaceutical intervention? Is she high?

“At-Home Coronavirus Tests Are Inaccessible to Blind People” [New York Times]. “Christy Smith has never been tested for the coronavirus. As a blind person, she can’t drive to testing sites near her home in St. Louis, and they are too far away for her to walk. Alternative options — public transportation, ride share apps or having a friend drive her to a test site — would put others at risk for exposure. The rapid tests that millions of other people are taking at home, which require precisely plunking liquid drops into tiny spaces and have no Braille guides, are also inaccessible to Ms. Smith. Many people who are blind or have limited vision are not being tested as often as they would like — and some are staying isolated because testing is too difficult.” • More Lebensunwertes Leben….

Meanwhile, it seems that the new “Let ‘Er Rip” messaging has not entirely penetrated, despite everyone’s best efforts:

* * *

“Exiting the Vampire Castle” [Mark FIsher, The North Star]. • A must-read, and worth rereading periodically. And if Thomas Edsall is right (see Water Cooler yesterday), wealthy funders just gave the Vampire Castle — a more colorful label than wokistocracy, NGOs, or the Non-Profit Industrial Complex — $25 billion. No doubt for services rendered, and in earnest of further efforts….

#COVID19

Case count by United States regions:

Big step after a small step, a recurring pattern (says the tape watcher). 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) was completely exploded. What a surprise!

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Still the only encouraging news I see (and a lot of people watch this now, so good for the biobots).

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 Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:

I see a few spots of improvement (San Diego, Vermont) but otherwise status quo. (Tennessee is green, as the note in red at the bottom says, because they went over to weekly reporting. Nice.)

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Still brutal. (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: 866,89863,896.

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

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 23 thousand from the previous period, the most in 8-weeks, to 230 thousand in the week ending January 8th, compared with market expectations of 200 thousand, as a surge in coronavirus cases led by the Omicron variant disrupted activity from airlines to schools. Still, claims remained below their pre-pandemic level, suggesting labor market conditions continued to tighten as the US economy expanded at a solid pace and demand for labor remained strong.”

* * *

Banking:

(Glenn Stevens was the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia from 2006 to 2016.) The Glenn Stevens episodes are some of the crispest; here’s another one:

The Bezzle:

Lucky Millionaire Wants To Share The Wealth! Just send…

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 57 Greed (previous close: 63 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 12 at 12:26pm.

Class Warfare

“Family Capitalism and the Small Business Insurrection” [Dissent]. “At this point we need to ask whether the growing militancy of the Republican right can be adequately explained by the triumph of small over big business, as Tea Partiers and Trump himself would have us believe. Even the most sophisticated commentators have taken the Tea Party at its word on this matter. But as Trump’s example reminds us, what is at stake here is less an alliance of the small against the big than it is an insurrection of one form of capitalism against another: the private, unincorporated, and family-based versus the corporate, publicly traded, and shareholder-owned. If most family enterprise was confined to the small business sector in the 1980s—when public corporations accounted for the bulk of big business—this shorthand does not apply today, as more large companies go private and dynastic wealth surges to the forefront of the American economy. The historian Steve Fraser has noted that the “resurgence of what might be called dynastic or family capitalism, as opposed to the more impersonal managerial capitalism many of us grew up with, is changing the nation’s political chemistry.” The family-based capitalism that stormed the White House along with Trump stretches from the smallest of family businesses to the most rambling of dynasties, and crucially depends on the alliance between the two. Without its network of subcontracted family businesses, the dynastic enterprise would collapse as a political and economic force. Meanwhile the many small business owners that gravitate toward Trump are convinced that their own fortunes rise and fall along with his.” • Extremely important and well worth a read. Best context I’ve seen for 1/6.

“Our Debt to Mark Fisher” [Tribune]. Mark Fisher passed away five years ago today. “The first step in the fight against the entrenched desocialisation and dysphoria of the twenty-first century, [Capitalist Realism argues, must be a simple freeing of consciousness. This initially sounds like a throwback to the failed leftism of the sixties and seventies, and indeed Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus is one of the models for Capitalist Realism. Mark set his argument apart, however, by making contemporary subjectivism the primary site of struggle and ultimately a means of reactivating collectivity. His writings on mental health enacted a series of brilliant inversions. You think you feel bad because of some arbitrary affliction called depression, but might your working conditions have something to do with it? We have been told that neoliberal capitalism liberated us from the horrors of statist dystopias, so why have mental-health problems skyrocketed in recent years? What if we looked beyond our obsession with self for a minute and re-emphasised our sociality?” • Breathing, as I keep saying, is a social relation. Hence Corsi boxes, etc…..

News of the Wired

Mask news. Alert reader Jen (supported earlier by Samuel Connor) recommended the 3M Aura:

Don’t know if you’ve tried the 3M Aura, but I just did and whoa! Life changing! The nose bridge bit has foam as well as metal sealing that sucker tight. Was in the supermarket with it the other day and had a moment where I was like, am I actually wearing a mask? The don’t fit every face shape but man, if they fit yours, it’s night and day.

I bought a box of 3M​ Aura 9320A masks. They are FFP2 standard, which is an N95 near-equivalent. Yes, the foam nose-bridge really works, and my glasses do not fog. I prefer elastics round my head to loops round my ears, because the loops irritate my ears and get tangled up in the temples of my glasses. Importantly, the mask is structured, rather like the shoulders of some suits, so not only is the fit tight (the elastic helps), the mask is kept away from my mouth, so I don’t get the occasionally feeling of breathing the mask in or out, as I did with the KN95’s I previously used. The Aura also has a very long chin section you can pull down over your throat. I prefer the Aura to my earlier combination of a KN95 and a Badger seal; the fit is clearly better. It feels a bit like wearing lightweight armor, but it’s something I can get accustomed to. I can’t answer for how it will work with your face, of course, but the nose bridge, as Jen notes, is highly adjustable. They’re also individually wrapped so elaborately that it’s hard to believe they’re fakes; they aren’t just masks in a box.

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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 (JW):

JW writes: “I live two miles downwind from where the fire burned all those houses in Boulder County. I didn’t think our house would make it, but we were very lucky. Today when I was taking the compost out I found this singed paper lying near my leaf pile. Note the text is from a very appropriate source. Just the craziest thing that I had to share…”

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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.

95 comments

    1. ambrit

      Make it “The Great Doctor Wallensky” and we have an olde tyme ‘Snake Oil Salesdroid.’
      This is the “best and brightest” from today’s Democrat Party Nomenklatura?
      We be scrood.

      Reply
    2. shinola

      Lambert’s comment: “Is she High?”

      Actually, just the opposite: “… She crawls on her belly like a reptile.”

      (I forget what movie that carnival barker’s line is from.)

      Reply
      1. Bart Hansen

        She crawls on her belly like a reptile
        But she has no nose
        No nose. How does she smell?
        Terrible!

        From my long ago childhood

        Reply
  1. Pat

    I really do not understand how Emmanuel is not in prison for that black box Chicago operated illegally incarcerating black suspects.

    Oh and I failed.to include Klain, Walensky and Feints on my list of jerks who should also be enjoying the involuntary servitude of.prison in a comment earlier today, my bad.

    Reply
  2. Jen

    Clip of Bernie on Anderson Cooper sporting a 3m Aura and making the case for N95s.

    “The truth of the matter is, a mask is not a mask. An N95 mask is far, far more effective in protecting the individual and also stopping the spread of the virus to other individuals.”

    At the end Anderson asks him if the Biden administration and CDC are being clear. “No, they aren’t, and I disagree with what Dr. Walensky just said.”

    https://twitter.com/SenSanders/status/1481465861307260929

    PS – glad the Auras worked for you Lambert!

    Reply
    1. JustAnotherVolunteer

      Thanks for the tip Jen. I ordered Aura masks and they are indeed comfortable and well fitted. I have a small face and wear glasses and these “just work”. Once again NC provides the news you can use.

      Reply
        1. Samuel Conner

          Home Depot sells them (model 9205+; blue rubber band straps), but their inventory may not last long when replenished.

          The 3M corporate website lists distributors that sell them in case quantities, but they do not sell to households.

          Employers might be persuaded to order these for employees. Perhaps this is loopy, but if the green eye-shade people don’t want the expense, perhaps form a buyers’ group and offer to cover the cost. Then unionize.

          Reply
          1. Clark

            I’ve been to the 3M site a few times. I tried a box of Aura 9205’s from a local store just to see if I liked them. (I did.) Before that, the 3M site directed me to reputable sites of their “partners,” all of whom said “delays of 15-30 days” in filling orders for 240-360 ct. boxes. … Now the 3M link for that product is greyed out — not available “at this time” or something. Some of the local stores in my small-urban area are showing “sold out” for these masks. I secured some at a store that’s about a 20-mile RT. I will make the drive this weekend … it’ll be interesting to see what’s going on outside “the bubble.”

            Reply
        2. Katiebird

          I found them on eBay, chose a seller with 1000+ recommendations. It was a pharmacy, I forget the name. But there were lots to choose from a couple of days ago. They arrived today.

          Reply
        3. Jen

          I got mine at home depot. I also ordered a batch on line from Protectly.com and sent them to family in CT. Protectly has them on backorder with estimated shipping dates at the end of the month.

          Some one else on here also suggested your local paint store.

          Reply
          1. albrt

            Lowes had decent Chinese masks last year, but they got rid of the brand I liked and they seem to have much less inventory now. I’ve been getting Auras at Home Depot. They have usually been in stock, although maybe they won’t be as things inevitably get worse going forward.

            Paint stores are good, but you have to pick one that also serves drywall finishers (very dusty job). For example, where I live Sherwin Williams seems to be more oriented to consumers and just paint, so not much in the way of masks. Dunn Edwards here had a decent selection of masks pretty much all through the pandemic, but they do not exist in every state.

            Reply
      1. Pelham

        But I understand they can be used much more than once. If you need to wear one daily, keep four in a rotation. Eventually the elastics lose potency, but then a badger mask supporter might work with it.

        And I’ll add my voice to those in praise of these masks. I’m also beginning to wonder what would happen if the feds just gave up pushing non-sterilizing vaccines and instead sent these masks around to everyone while demanding ventilation in some form for every indoor space.

        To add appeal, they could include that $600 check they owe us in the first batch of masks.

        Reply
      2. lordkoos

        I have KN95s which I do re-use but these might fit better so I’ll give them a try. I actually prefer the ear loops to elastic bands — I’ll just get a couple and see.

        Reply
    2. LaRuse

      I just ordered a set of Auras since we are going full on Let ‘er rip in VA with the ascension of Younkin on Saturday. My mom’s church has at least one member on a vent and several families quite ill with CV right now, but as of this Sunday, no more streamed sermons. No more Zoom leadership meetings (my Mom is a prayer leader and is strongly considering giving up on her church – which will represent a real loss for her).
      My Company sounds like we are on track for going back into the office next month.
      And I am hearing rumours that the Rs might bring back enforcing Virginia’s No Masks in Public laws. Such laws are still on the books. I don’t think they will get far with it, but it feels like retribution is coming for all these limits on our free-dumbs these past 2 years.
      So my questionable NIOSH certified no-named N95s need upgrading.
      Stay safe out there, y’all.

      Reply
      1. lordkoos

        Do you think VA cops will actually enforce a no-masks policy? They certainly don’t enforce being without one around here — our governor and his mandates are despised on this side of the mountains.

        Reply
      2. Mikel

        “….Rs might bring back enforcing Virginia’s No Masks in Public laws.”

        Aaaannnnd…..this is the pandemic equivalent of “Don’t Look Up”. If we all pretend everything is okay, it must be ….now come in here and spend some money!

        All from people that won’t even send you a post-it note to get well if you got sick. Alot of them want people to go to work sick – a badge of honor for some that doesn’t fit well with a health care system that can not handle a crisis.

        Reply
    3. Samuel Conner

      This is a great clip; it shows how well the Aura line fits for people whose faces are the right shape. What is not visible here is the large bottom panel that encloses the lower jaw; the upper and front panels of the 3-part device are visible here. There is a tab that can be used to pull the lower panel towards the ‘Adam’s apple’, snugging the device around your jaw. On my face, the bottom panel fully envelopes my lower jaw to more than half the distance from chin to throat.

      Some Asian friends with small (well, smaller than mine, which is large) noses have difficulty getting the upper panel to stay high on the face; it tends to slip down. I think the Aura series was designed with a ‘prognathous’ maxilla in mind.

      An in-law with a very “tall” lower jaw finds that the upper panel slips when he speaks. The mask fits him OK until he tries to speak, then his jaw motion tugs the upper panel down from the high position it is in in the video. It might be possible to make the mask work OK in a case like that if one were to speak through a clenched jaw; the lip motions won’t shift the mask. But it might be prudent to do an actual fit test if one’s face is not ideally shaped for this device.

      Reply
    4. Josef K

      I’ll put a vote in for masks from filti. They fit well up top, go snugly under the chin, and have a large reservoir I guess you’d call it which may not be the most attractive, but I think the extra volume inside the mask makes breathing easier.

      The large flat front also provides ample space for personal messaging or drawing.

      Reply
  3. Hepativore

    So, corporate centrist Democrats have been telling the left to shut up and fall in line for decades now, so it is not like this sage advice we have been hearing from the Clinton-Obama wing is groundbreaking political territory. Plus, why would this advice work now when it has never worked from the very beginning with the rise of the Third Way Democratic strategy.

    Of course when the Democrats get slaughtered again in the midterms and the 2024 presidential election they are going aim the blame cannons again at the left and start another round of hippy-punching.

    I am not saying that I would ever vote for a Republican, but I have a begrudging respect for a party that is honest about its malicious intent as it says outright it will stab you right in the gut while staring you in the face, as opposed to the Democrats who pretend to be your ally but will shank you in the back repeatedly as soon as you turn around.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Its more for the courtier class. There was an article from 2014 with Democratic donors questioning the Pelosi strategy and why they should give money. Pelosi promised Hillary would fix all things.

      Not all the donors are monstrous creeps at all times. At some point, you have to ask why people are paying Team Blue courtiers. Neera promised results. They can’t even send out masks they have.

      There are no doubt donors considering sending money to AOC types. This is a threat to the Team Blue courtier class.

      Reply
      1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

        Well, but donors, or should I say big donors (bigger than me; I gave 50 bucks to B.S. last time around), are why we don’t have a REAL democracy! It doesn’t matter to me whether a king is kind and benevolent, or mean and nasty, I DON’T WANT KINGS, PERIOD! We can’t have a “democracy” where 1 dollar = 1 vote; it’s a contradiction in terms.

        Screw donors. All. Of. Them.

        Reply
        1. John

          What is a centrist democrat? Center of what? Define the extremes please. Manchin and Sinema are centrist only when you define obstruction as the center. Manchin is defending his coal empire and Sinema is collecting donations, or so I read. How is that the center of anything but self-interest.

          Is Schumer the center? Gillibrand? She moved, rhetorically at least, from a kinda sorta right side of the Hudson Valley New York spectrum to a kinda sorta Bill-Clinton-Democratic-Leadership-Council-republican-lite-whatever-it-takes position. Humphrey and McGovern must be spinning in their graves. [I just discovered that if you spell check Schumer and Gillibrand the first choices are Schemer and Gilligan. Do what you will with that tidbit.]

          Reply
          1. lordkoos

            Democrats have been moving to the right for decades, and the media has helped them by conveniently moving the framing to the right as well, so that they can still be called “centrists” instead of what they are — corporate-friendly conservatives. Bernie Sanders was actually just barely left of center, but in these times was called “a radical”.

            Reply
  4. Duke of Prunes

    Regarding the tweet about American actually taking precautions…

    Report from suburban Chicago. I went out for the first time in a few weeks to splurge on some carry out lunch (Portillos is a bit of an institution, although the family sold out to venture capital a couple years ago so it has gone downhill, but is still better than most places). We were tired of eating leftovers, and a drive-thru seemed safe enough. Anyway, the place typically has a long line all day and all evening. Yesterday, there were only 3 cars in line for a late lunch (1-ish). This place has been so popular for so long that I really cannot recall the last time I drove past anywhere close to a meal time, and it wasn’t slammed. It’s literally been years. Either everyone is sick, or perhaps (hopefully) just hunkering down.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      This soil sampling initiative reminds me of one of Kamin’s ‘hobbies’ in the StarTrek Next Generation episode: “The Inner Light”.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        If I recall correctly, the last soil samples came up dead. But this is a good initiative to give a snapshot of global soil conditions.

        Reply
  5. VT Digger

    Not sure if anyone will see this but I am on the board of the Vermont State municipal broadband authority and we received this steaming turd from the Biden FCC about pandemic broadband subsidies:

    https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-378999A1.pdf

    Allow me to summarize.
    1. The program is the most means-tested formula based garbage I have seen yet. 22 PAGES on the formulas.
    2. The already meager benefit is being DECREASED by the administration (unless you are native american??)
    3. People will need an NGO to help them sign up for the so-called benefit

    There is a public comment period ending on tuesday, so if you feel like screaming into the void please contribute.

    We are trying to build a municipal broadband network here in one of the poorest and most rural parts of the USA.

    I deal with a lot of nonsense from the big ISPs up here with regard to disdain for rural/poor America but this just takes the cake.

    If there are any other Vermonters who like writing letters on here you should write Sen. Sanders a curt note to pass onto uncle Joe.

    Reply
    1. deplorado

      Thank you for sharing. I was hoping for municipal broadband in my town (not in VT) but this BS is… insulting.

      Reply
    2. bob

      The pols keep sending money at the ISP’s, the ISP’s keep not doing anything. They make money that way. The way they see it, it’s a lot easier to pay a franchise fee and then get to see yourself as the customer.

      The states need to hire engineering talent and present the ISP’s with this demand. Get this address hooked up. Here is 10k. Here are the plans. Do it. Have the state PSC’s walk the plans through the other utilities.

      Also, the most effective way to get the attention of the ISP’s is to start talking about building out muni owned ISP’s. That really makes them yell at the local pols – “what are we paying you for!”

      Reply
      1. sd

        Just absolutely everything in the US has turned to [family blog]. Even with broadband there’s no guarantee it won’t be a pos.

        We live in spitting distance from a major scientific laboratory so it seems perfectly reasonable to assume that there would be fiber in the area – nope! We subscribe to “hi-speed” but we’re lucky if we get 10 mbs. For s&g, I just did a speed test 4.46 mbs for download and 1.41 mbs for upload courtesy of AT&T.

        Reply
  6. Mikel

    “Family Capitalism and the Small Business Insurrection” [Dissent].

    “It was the meteoric rise and fall of the small business sector—not the long saga of deindustrialization—that gave birth to the current cycle of far-right populism.”

    Those higher wage earners of the industrial era brought customers/clients to the small businesses. I don’t see how this also didn’t hurt a small business that is not as international in its dealings.

    “The Chamber’s monthly magazine, the Nations’ Business, addressed all workers—especially blue-collar workers—as self-employed business owners in waiting, and railed against the federal agencies that would violate their constitutional freedoms…”

    The explosion in restaurant openings the past decades coincides with deindustrialization. Factories used to absorb more workers from out of the country. And restaurants/food services are a tough business. They are a very often family businesses.

    Reply
    1. Michael Fiorillo

      My sense is there was a disproportionate number of highly financially stressed small business owners active on January 6th, with many of them, as Lambert has also pointed out, sunk in monopoly-dominated industries that milk family businesses and often facilitate owners sweating themselves and their employees.

      Reply
  7. truly

    Democrats in Deshabille- filibuster rule change-
    Is there one single piece of legislation that would pass if the filibuster rule was changed? It seems that Manchin would never be the 50th vote for anything. It appears to me that the Dems are pushing filibuster reform just in time to hand the senate over to the Republicans. Imagine they pass F reform and the next day Manchin or Sinema switches party affiliation. They pass reform and one year from now we have a Republican Senate and two years later a R Senate and presidency? Is there actually any possible benefit from filibuster reform other than on principle?

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Putting a name on an official item is a big deal. Don’t discount that. There is a reason they keep the filibuster and simply don’t rotate villains.

      Reply
    2. curlydan

      Maybe they could make the improved Child Tax Credit permanent. Romney says he’s in favor of it. Instead of BBB as some huge package, they could pass smaller bills and grab 1-2 Repubs although the Rs have better party control, so it’s questionable if the Dems could really peel 1-2 Rs off.

      But in 2024, there could easily an Repub president with a Repub controlled Congress. Then the Repubs would have the executive, legislative, and judicial in their pockets.

      Reply
      1. John

        I well remember when the filibuster was rare and had not become the means for a determined minority to tyrannize the majority. McConnell did his work well and you know that if he feels the need and has a majority, he dump the filibuster one day and reinstate it the next as circumstances dictate. Is there a democrat who is as ruthless as he is? Show me. It sure isn’t the current leadership, but then perhaps they get what they want and allow those meany republicans to be excoriated at all the proper parties.

        Reply
    3. Michael McK

      Agreed. The filibuster will evaporate just before the republicans take control for god knows how long with nothing to show for it.
      Question for the crew: Why can’t voting rights protections be passed in Reconciliation? It could be budget neutral.

      Reply
  8. skippy

    Let the testing kit wars begin …

    20,000 rapid antigen test kits ordered by Queensland Rail and on their way to Queensland have been taken by Scott Morrison’s government instead. #auspol #qldpol

    https://mobile.twitter.com/QLDLabor/status/1481595817513209861

    The LNP … the sanctity of property party …. lmmao … Hillsong comes first … and never mind that self induced trade shock just so the individual freedoms and liberty meme did not wane whilst in the run up the SFM tribe spent all its energy of late on the religious discrimination bill [oxymoron] so schools could fire teachers that had non conforming sexual views … PRIORITIES – !!!!!!

    Good thing I’m sanding back to wood on a house today, need some hard physical activity and actually fix something to offset absurdities like above …

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I heard about that last night. That is exactly the same sort of stuff that Trump did – hijacking medical supplies for the Federal government’s use. So Scotty is now in the same class as Trump. Good to know that.

      Reply
      1. skippy

        Only difference is Trump utilized the professional mystic camp of the Protestant movement to further his agendas … where as SFM is a full card carrying member of that camp.

        Reply
  9. Eureka Springs

    Just did a speed test. 2.4 Mbps down 0.3 up. That speed with what’s called unlimited service for 160.00 per month. I’ve been 2 miles from a T1 line and 5 miles from people with Comcast cable service for at least 15 years.

    If I qualified for subsidy and were willing to spend no telling how much time (lost wages) applying for and maintaining it, I would still think it’s government subsidizing insanely high rates at dismal speeds rather than negotiating better prices and buying a couple miles of fiber for a couple thousand bucks. Stringing that fiber on the same electric utility poles already in place up to just 10 feet in front of my house. Those electric poles are owned by what’s called a co-op fer petes sake. So cooperate. That same fiber would support a dozen other homes along the way. We may be rural but stringing us up to the same end point as our electric smart meter could be done quickly and ever so reasonably.

    The taxes on my entirely separate mobile bill, service which doesn’t work on it’s own in my house are 20%. We’ve already paid several times over for 20 plus years.

    Reply
    1. John Beech

      Same deal where we live on the outskirts of Orlando . . . 17 years and counting. Across the way, AT&T fiber maybe 500′ max. Up the street in one direction about 1/2 mile, or so, Comcast cable. Half mile in the other direction, more Comcast again. About 16 houses in between on AT&T DSL (copper pairs). Us, specifically? Too far away from the box for the best service, we’re about two steps down at 3.8Mbs down and 512Kbs up.

      Welcome to America. What makes me sad is what the world thinks we are.

      Reply
    2. Mikel

      …”it’s government subsidizing insanely high rates at dismal speeds rather than negotiating better prices and buying a couple miles of fiber for a couple thousand bucks.”

      That’s not the only thing getting subsidized. Their political campaigns get subsidized . They feed the big businesses with subsidies and those businesses fund their campaigns….monopoly is born.

      Reply
  10. NotTimothyGeithner

    “I don’t know that we can get [voting rights] done, but I know one thing: as long as I have a breath in me, as long as I’m in the White House, as long as I’m engaged at all, I’m going to be fighting.”-Former Vice President Biden

    Just pathetic. Even for him.

    Reply
  11. NotTimothyGeithner

    The MSDNC contributor Jason Johnson who spent most of 2020 and 2016 calling Sanders supporters racist has been hitting Biden on MSDNC today.

    Reply
  12. Mark K

    Lambert, you mentioned in your comments on the 3M Aura masks that the loops around the ears irritate your ears and get tangled in your glasses.

    Same here, but what I’ve discovered is that you can transform an ear loop mask into a headband mask in about five minutes with a bit of string and a pair of scissors. You just cut the ear loops and tie the tops together and the bottoms together. It takes a bit of experimenting to figure out how much string you need to provide the right amount of tension, but you only have to figure that once for a given kind of mask.

    I don’t know if it would work for Auras, but it did for the cloth masks I used to wear and does for the KF94s I wear now.

    Reply
    1. John Beech

      And we’re the other way ’round preferring ear-loop types to around-the-head type. That said, the 3M Aura is superior to everything I’ve used previously except filter cartridge type (also 3M), which I use when spraying paint (but looking like something out of a sci-fi movie). Anyway, I may sacrifice an Aura for the purpose of testing an ear-loop configuration. Possibly by re-stapling existing loops.

      Reply
    2. Grebo

      Alternatively, make a strap out of that stiff plastic packing strapping or similar. Take a six inch length and cut an oblique nick near each end to hook the elastic loops on. The strap goes behind your head below the level of your ears. It can pull the mask down a bit but it beats the agony of ear loops. I survived two trans-Atlantic flights like that, and saw a couple of people with commercial versions in Madrid airport on the way.

      Reply
  13. Randy

    Why would you need those 3M Aura masks when Biden is going to be sending us high quality masks for free? LOL

    I just bought 20 at my local Home Depot. I just can’t wait to see what Biden sends me.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Our local Home Depot wants $2.10 per in ten packs. Our local Lowe’s doesn’t have them in stock. E-bay starts at $4.75 per unit, individually. A 5 Pack on e-bay is $14.00 USD, or $2.80 per unit.
      The Wonder of Markets.

      Reply
  14. The Rev Kev

    ‘For all the paternalistic talk about how keeping schools open is for the benefit of working parents of color, a consistent trend throughout the pandemic has been that well-off white parents are the ones who most want their kids in school and oppose remote learning.’

    Meanwhile, here in Oz Scotty had a press conference yesterday where he laid it out. The Omicron is taking out about 10% of the workforce no matter how hard they try to force sick worker to go back to work. If schools are shut down, they reckon that would be another 5% of the workforce out at home taking care of their kids So these kids have to go to school into a risky environment so their parents can keep on working. It is not for the benefit of the kids but for the benefit of the economy you see.

    Two problems here I see. If you get a mass infection at a school and the kids take it home, those parents are going to have to be quarantined as well. And people are already ransacking the supermarkets to dig in at home until at least this massive wave of infections mostly passes. The schools here in Queensland are extending the holidays an extra two weeks because of this and you can tell Scotty does not like that at all-

    https://www.news.com.au/world/coronavirus/australia/national-cabinet-scott-morrison-holding-press-conference-amid-omicroninduced-workforce-crisis/news-story/926b0ba9e4be2c04d0e651372db7c6df

    Reply
    1. Mikel

      I did a little search on DuckDuckGo : “black children homeschooling”

      This was the first pop up:
      https://themomtrotter.com/resource-guide-for-black-homeschooling-families/

      “Why Is There A Rise In Black Homeschooling Families

      Black homeschooling families are on the rise because parents are concerned about the quality of schools in the area that they live in. They are worried about reasons such as, peer pressure, drugs and racism at school. These black homeschooling families have other concerns as well, they want to provide their black children with history and social context that is missing from schools.

      Many black families believe that taking control on their child’s education is one major way of liberating themselves from systematic racism which they continue to endure up until this day; and I strongly believe the same too.”

      At any rate, that is just one group here in the US, but the information that people of color aren’t weeping that hard over closed schools isn’t hard to find.

      Reply
  15. flora

    an aside: I understand NPR’s and PBS’s focus on the “aspiring class”. Odd, however, they think the aspiring class consists only of the non-white and immigrant citizens in the US. Odd that. As if O’s daughters are in a class in need of extra help over others. Very odd.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      I widen the definition of “Aspiring Class” to include any and all ambitious PMCs. The question is, what do ‘they’ aspire to? That is determined by upbringing and, to be realistic, the baser Terran human psychological drives.
      What I find funny about the ‘O’ daughter’s need for aspirational support is that the MSMs all conflate racial and ethnic ‘identity’ with ‘class.’
      A more cynical me would suspect the Meme Spinners of consciously atempting to poison the well for true economic class based argumentation. For example; if you point out the high socio-economic class status of the Obama children, and proceed into an economic class based argument, you are demonized for being racist, a completely irrelevant, but emotively powerful, argument.
      Stay safe.

      Reply
  16. ChrisRUEcon

    #TheMoustacheOfUnderstanding #BidenCheney2024

    LOL

    I mean … at that point … it really does put paid to the notion that it’s a “two-party system”.

    ~wink~wink~

    Would that the US could have more coalition style governments – I commented recently on the Pirate Party’s rise in Iceland as an example. Things aren’t really going to get better without a wedge right through the heart of the US political duopoly.

    Reply
    1. ChrisRUEcon

      #FamilyCapitalism #FrySquintMeme

      Near where I live, there’s like a mile-long stretch of one of main thoroughfares within which there are like six Irish bars. I used to think each was a ‘family business’ – silly me – came to find out recently they’re owned by one dude … LOL

      Very interesting details on the pass-through income. It makes me wonder how Mr. Six Bars over here is handling his “business”.

      The Art Of The Deal:
      “For the many American truckers who file taxes as sole proprietors, S corporations, or partnerships,” he announced, “we will cap your top tax rate at a maximum of 25 percent—substantially lower than what you’re paying now. The more than 30 million Americans who have small businesses will see . . . a 40 percent cut in their marginal tax rate.” This, he claimed, would be the biggest tax cut for small business in eight decades. In fact, it is doubtful that anyone in his audience would have benefited from these cuts; the 40 percent cut to the marginal tax rate that Trump bragged about would apply only to the wealthiest of pass-through business owners, including himself.

      ~Chef’s Kiss~

      Love how Trump can “play to the room” while ultimately exploiting the enthusiasm of those who don’t read the fine print.

      Reply
  17. HotFlash

    Glad to hear abt the Aura’s, thanks Lambert, Jen and all. Was worried about counterfeit but will take a flier on them. I don’t Amazon, but got an A gift card for holidays so…

    BTW, any advice WRT masks that work with beards? Asking for a spouse.

    Reply
    1. pricklyone

      I, in a former life, was subject to quantitative fit tests. You cannot get a seal on hair. If you wear a beard style which fits entirely inside the sealing portion of the mask, you are probably golden. Otherwise, option is SHAVE. Sorry…
      (I have a full beard, at present, only go to grocery,etc.)

      Reply
    2. Jason Boxman

      I’m gonna try these too. My Gerson duck bill doesn’t fit tight, had to wear my cloth mask with the badger. That works well, but I want to experiment with others.

      Reply

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