2:00PM Water Cooler 1/19/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, extra rations today because I was on holiday yesterday. Enjoy –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

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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

Biden Adminstration

I asked readers for the link to make public comments on FTC merger enforcement. Here it is:


Thanks to alert readers IMOR, Stephen V, Steeeve, and Late Introvert. Have at it!

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“Biden plans giveaway of 400M masks as Omicron surges” [Politico]. “The 400 million newly available masks will be non-surgical N95s that are sourced from the government’s Strategic National Stockpile, as part of an effort to ensure Americans can access the more-protective masks during a record surge of Covid-19 cases…. There are more than 750 million N95 masks in the Strategic National Stockpile, the White House official said, with ample supply for health providers and the public available for purchase.” • So how long have the N95s been sitting in the stockpile? What were they waiting for? A pandemic?

“Biden Misread the Supreme Court’s Ruling Against the OSHA Vaccine Rule” [Simon Lazarus, The New Republic]. “In last week’s case, the Roberts-Kavanaugh-Barrett opinion did not question the constitutional validity of the OSH Act’s broad grant of authority for OSHA to enact emergency regulations to combat ‘grave [workplace] danger’ and ‘new hazards.’ Moreover, the court’s opinion indicated that OSHA could constitutionally implement that authority with regulatory approaches more precisely targeted than the vaccination rule at issue.” For example, Barret cites meatpacking plants. More: “Thus the language in the opinion would seem to countenance a new OSHA vaccine-or-test-and-mask emergency rule targeted to particular workplace-specific risks. Presumably, that tack could wind up covering a significant chunk of the nation’s workers. Indeed, the day after the decision, President Obama’s OSHA Administrator David Michaels recommended just such a revamp, to “ensure it fits the Court’s suggestion that it be risk-based” but “cover all workers in higher risk jobs, not only those employed by large employers”—in that respect actually reaching more broadly than the existing standard spurned by the court…. [The Biden Administration should] take yes for an answer and take due advantage. That means: re-up the OSHA rule, embracing Roberts’s and Barrett’s call for a targeted, risk-based approach.” • More on a crazed Gorsuch legal theory and the role of the court in the separation of powers. Worth a read

“This Presidency Isn’t Turning Out as Planned” [Ezra Klein, New York Times]. “The conversations I have with the Biden administration’s economists are very different from the conversations I had with the Obama administration’s economists, even when they’re the same people. Now the discussion is all about what the economy can produce and how fast it can be shipped. They need companies to make more goods and make them faster. They need more chips so there can be more cars and computers. They need ports to clear more shipments and Pfizer to make more antiviral pills and shipping companies to hire more truckers and schools to upgrade their ventilation systems. Some of these problems reflect the Biden administration’s successes. (Read my colleague Paul Krugman for more on this.) For all the talk of supply chain crises, many of the delays and shortages reflect unexpectedly strong demand, not a pandemic-induced breakdown in production. Supply chains are built to produce the goods that companies think will be consumed in the future. Expectations were off for 2021, in part because forecasters thought demand would slacken as people lost work and wages, in part because the fiscal response was massively larger than anyone anticipated and in part because when people couldn’t go out for meals and movies, they bought things instead. Overall spending is more or less on its prepandemic trend, but the composition of spending has changed: Americans purchased 18 percent more physical goods in September 2021 than in February 2020. Now the Biden administration fears that its supply problems will wipe out its demand successes.

“New year brings more liberated Joe Biden” [The Hill]. “Sources close to the White House say there’s no coincidence that Biden has sharpened his rhetoric as midterms elections draw closer and with so much at stake. They expect Biden to stick to the heightened and unshackled tone as he frames the elections around an us-or-them choice.” • “Unshackled” is not the word I’d use for Biden’s last Covid speech. Maybe he’ll do better in today’s presser (4:00PM EDT). On the presser:

I do wish liberal Democrats would stop hating on voters. What sense does it make?

“Madame Tussauds unveils new Biden and Harris figures” [The Hill]. • Make up your own jokes!

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.

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“Abrams treads carefully in relationship with Biden” [The Hill]. “Still, her absence from Tuesday’s speech came at a particularly trying moment for Biden…. There are also signs that his standing is diminishing among Black voters, a reliably Democratic constituency that helped propel Biden’s 2020 victory in Georgia and one that Abrams will need to carry handily this year if she hopes to win the governor’s mansion. A poll released this week by Democratic firm HIT Strategies found that Biden’s net approval among Black voters had dropped to +54 percent in December, down from a net +76 percent in June. At the same time, a coalition of Georgia voting rights groups with ties to Abrams skipped Biden’s speech on Tuesday out of frustration with a lack of progress on federal voting rights legislation. While voting rights advocates later praised Biden’s remarks, including his call to change Senate rules to pass such legislation, the boycott underscored the simmering tensions between the White House and the activists who helped elevate both Biden and Abrams.” • And who is HIT Strategies, you ask? “HIT is the leading Millennial & Minority-owned public opinion research firm in Washington, DC that approaches research different [sic] than most conventional research firms.” So, I would guess that HIT’s poll, albeit directionally correct, is in essence a brochure.


Time to break out the counter, I guess:

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Party identification:

“Dem candidates seek votes in ‘factory towns'” [Axios]. “A set of Senate Democratic candidates in swing states is actively courting voters in regions that suffered the steepest manufacturing losses… That could be as much as 40% of the electorate in the industrial heartland of the Midwest, according to a report from the progressive group 21st Century Democrats…. But, but, but: Many of these same voters have historically fallen into a category of what election experts call “low-propensity voters” — less likely to vote and even more unlikely to vote in a midterm election.”

“Reconstruction-Era Law Could Keep Trump Off Presidential Ballot In 6 Southern States” [S.V. Date, HuffPo]. “Should former President Donald Trump run for the White House again, an obscure Reconstruction-era law could keep him off the ballot in six southern states, including North Carolina, Georgia and Florida, because of his incitement of the Jan. 6 insurrection. The third section of the 14th Amendment prohibits people who swore to defend the Constitution, but who subsequently took part in an insurrection against the United States, from holding state or federal office. Other language in that post-Civil War amendment, though, makes many experts believe that only Congress can enforce the ban, which means Senate Republicans could block any such action. But the 1868 law that readmitted the six states put the burden on them to keep those who have been involved in insurrections from seeking office — potentially making it considerably easier to keep Trump off their primary and general election ballots.” • Well, I guess this explains why liberal Democrats just had to keep using the word “insurrection” (well before the evidence of the 1/6 Commission is in, if evidence there be.) The mind reels at the possibilities if they go through with this. We occasionally chatter about setting up parallel voting systems. Well, Republicans are more serious about their politics. They might actually do it. What then?


“Trump dogs “dull” DeSantis ahead of potential 2024 matchup” [Axios]. “Donald Trump is trashing Ron DeSantis in private as an ingrate with a ‘dull personality’ and no realistic chance of beating him in a potential 2024 showdown, according to sources who’ve recently talked to the former president about the Florida governor…. A second source who’s discussed DeSantis with Trump said the reason for the former president’s irritation with the popular governor is “that Ron DeSantis won’t say he won’t run [in 2024]. … The others have stated pretty clearly they won’t challenge him.'” • Florida readers, does DeSantis in fact have a dull personality? Back in the day, I misjudged Scott Walker’s appeal because I thought successfully stomping Democrats would be enough; it wasn’t. Of course, if you want personality, it’s hard to outdo Mr. Personality Himself, America’s Definite Article: Donald Trump.

Clinton Legacy

“UAE Adviser Illegally Funneled Foreign Cash Into Hillary Clinton’S 2016 Campaign” [The Intercept]. “George Nader, an American adviser to the government of the United Arab Emirates, convicted sex offender, and frequent visitor to the White House during President Donald Trump’s first year in office, has pleaded guilty for his role in helping the UAE pump millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions into the U.S. political system during the 2016 presidential election, according to documents submitted in federal court last month. Federal prosecutors disclosed in a December sentencing memo that Nader had agreed months earlier to plead guilty to a single count of felony conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government by funneling millions in donations to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and concealing the funds’ foreign origin. Nader’s plea has not been previously reported.” • The headline is unfair; Nader worked both side of the street. And Democrat apparatchiks took UAE money too.

“The Memo: 2024 chatter reveals Democratic nervousness” [The Hill]. Weasels to the slaughter. “[Strategist Joe Trippi, who has worked on presidential campaigns for Democrats for several decades] pointed out that some millstones weighing Biden down now could easily be lifted before 2024 — COVID-19 and inflation, in particular. If the pandemic is a receding memory, the economy is booming and no other crises intervene, he said Biden would be in prime position for reelection and “there might be a whole bunch of Democrats hoping and praying that he doesn’t run, thinking, ‘I want a crack at this.’ But conversely, if inflation is still elevated or the overall economy had soured, Democrats could be doomed whomever they put up. In that scenario, ‘people are really going to say, ‘Well, OK, but Hillary might run’?’ Trippi asked with a derisive laugh. ‘There’s no friggin’ way Hillary will run! That’s stupid.'” • Waiting for the rumors that Clinton would accept a draft…

Trump Legacy

“What Is Trumpism?” [John Ganz, Unpopular Front]. A Gramscian analysis. From the conclusion: “It’s obvious that Trump does not have all the organizational depth and breadth of the classical fascisms, nor is he likely to generate them. Beyond his own limitations as a leader, the way politics and society works in the 21st century is not conducive to the kind of mass organization building of the 20th century. Trump also could not break the logjams and immobilism in American politics with his charisma and power alone, but nonetheless he retains a significant number of supporters who would apparently like him to keep trying. He did largely rely on conservative, constitutional means. But he did attempt more radical means like the constant propaganda offensive against the legitimacy of the election and a putsch-like attempt to overturn the election, even if it was a failure. Failure thought it may have been, it did not end his political career, like General Boulanger’s abortive coup of 1889 did. I still don’t think Trump is likely to succeed. The inchoate Caesarisms of the Third Republic failed because they did could not find a single “providential man” to focus their energies on. The only available “Caesar” in the latest American case might be too lazy or too much of an idiot. But I think a fair assessment has to acknowledge Trump’s serious weaknesses, but also recognize his staying power and continued political relevance, even after taking some quite desperate gambles. Meanwhile, the more conventional conservative and progressive forces seem also to be struggling to solve the country’s serious crises. As for “Trumpism” as a category of politics apart from Trump the individual, I think we still have to observe carefully whether it is a Caesarism stillborn or still “in gestation.” In aid of those observations, the cases of fascism will remain an important context.” • Welll worth a read. I do think that people on the left have a tendency to look to Europe for models. We have the Reconstruciton South to look to; that, IMNSHO, is the place to begin.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“How the states have become “Laboratories of Autocracy” — and why it’s worse than you think” (interview) [David Pepper, Salon]. “I’ve been fighting the voting rights battle in Ohio for a number of years. The worst is still the purging of voters, but to have a secretary of state intentionally cause long traffic jams for the form of voting that he knew minorities and Biden voters were using, and lying over and over again about what the law actually, was such a troubling thing. And this was not your right-wing, Trump-type secretary of state. He had held himself out as more moderate. So I tell the story because you look at the traffic jams that his one-drop-box-per-county policy created, and anyone with a commonsense response would say, ‘Don’t ever do that again.’ But in a world of ‘laboratories of autocracy,’ as I tell in the story, the state legislature of Ohio, seeing those jams, began pushing for bills to have traffic jams forever by making that not just a policy decision, but state law. And what do we see at the same time? States around the country looked at those traffic jams and saw the effect on — let’s be clear — Black voters waiting in long lines. So now we have the same effort in other states to minimize drop boxes and to do what happened here: Put the drop boxes where people are already voting early in person, which creates the maximum congestion possible. So it’s a great example of how they behave as laboratories against democracy.”

“Let’s Honor MLK’s Birthday By Being Impotent and Embarrassing” [Jeff Maurer, I Might Be Wrong]. “My honest feeling — and here comes some of the sweet, succulent heresy that makes a Substack newsletter hum — is that the stakes here are not very high. Personally, I think Republican voter suppression tactics are shitty, but not very effective. As I’ve mentioned before, the evidence that low turnout helps Republicans is increasingly thin. I also think that voter ID laws are less effective than they used to be; most folks are wise to this gambit, and people who try to measure these laws’ effects typically find nothing or close to nothing. I’m sure that Republicans would like to tilt the playing field in their favor; they’re clearly trying to cheat. But people can try anything; you can try to teach your dog Rachmaninoff, you can try to build a time machine out of graham crackers and mud. Democrats can support ballot access without reacting to every dumb Republican trick like it’s zero hour for democracy. Some people would ask: If suppression tactics aren’t effective, then why are Republicans trying them? My answer is simple: State legislators are morons.”

“Moralising to Impress” [The Philosophers’ Magazine]. “[G]randstanding is saying something in public moral discourse because you want your audience to recognise you for being morally good. Put more succinctly, grandstanding is the use of moral talk for self-promotion…. In their search for social status, conversations among grandstanders often resemble a moral arms race, as participants vie for the position of caring most about some value, or being most outraged about some event (more on this soon, too). This happens because of a psychological phenomenon called social comparison. We tend to think of ourselves in terms of how we measure up against others. So if you think of yourself as caring deeply about some value, yet someone else says something that makes them look like they care more than you do, you have two options. You can let that person look better than you, or you can intervene and outdo them. Grandstanders take the latter option, which is why so many of our discussions about politics quickly take us to extremes.” • A useful compendium; cf. Matt. 23:5.


Case count by United States regions:

A rebound, as backed up data gets processed. If you look at previous peaks, you’ll see we’ve had declines, followed by rises, followed by final declines.That said, it would sure be nice if “rise like a rocket, and fall like a stick” applied, but we can’t know that yet. 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. I broke down the national aggregates into regional numbers, to see if I saw a pattern:

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!

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NOT UPDATED MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Continues encouraging.

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.

NEW Biobot wastewater detection, from January 12:

This data is representative if and only if the aggregation of wastewater treatment authorities into which Biobot has sold its technology are representative. That said, it’s an indicator, and the indications are good.

From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:

Encouraging! (Remember that these are rapid riser counties. A county that moves from red to green is not covid-free; the case count just isnt, well, rising rapidly.

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Very encouraging. (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: 877,240 874,347.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

The excess deaths charts will appear weekly, on Friday.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

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Inflation: “Understanding Covid-flation” (excerpt) [Matthew C. Klein, The Overshoot]. “The U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose more than 7% last year—faster than in any 12-month span since the early 1980s—but most of the excess inflation can be pinned on a handful of categories that account for a small fraction of the total index. If the prices of just a few specific items had grown at their pre-pandemic pace, instead of jumping by 50% or more, inflation in 2021 would have been remarkably close to the 1995-2019 average.” • See the “pricing pressure” chart in this tweet, top left:

Banking: “JPMorgan plots ‘astonishing’ $12bn tech spend to beat fintechs” [Financial Times]. “JPMorgan Chase, the largest lender on Wall Street, said it planned to dramatically increase spending on technology and talent to fortify its competitive position, stirring investor worries about US bank earnings in 2022. As it reported record profits last year, JPMorgan stunned analysts with a forecast that expenses would increase by 8 per cent this year to around $77bn, meaning it would probably miss a key profitability target in 2022, and possibly in 2023. Part of the elevated expenses are from higher pay, with an extra $2.5bn earmarked for compensation and travel expenses. But JPMorgan also said it planned to increase new investments this year by $3.5bn, or 30 per cent, to almost $15bn. Technology spending in 2022 will hit $12bn in 2022, it said.”

The Bezzle: Looks like an interesting thread:

Tech: “Networked sensors: ensuring digital ease in logistics” [Financial Times]. This is “partner content,” hence the deck: “Among emerging technologies, the Internet of Things is already proving its value in the sector and its impact is set to grow in the near future.” • Hilarity ensues….

Travel: “Airlines Step Up Hygiene to Keep Covid Out of the Air” [Bloomberg]. “These days, hygiene is the most important factor in choosing a travel company for almost 60% of Americans, according to a survey by aerospace products manufacturer Honeywell International Inc. That tracks with International Air Transport Association data showing that passengers worry about boarding planes, with 42% of them uncomfortable using lavatories and more than a third concerned about breathing recirculated cabin air…. With no global rules governing aircraft hygiene, carriers have adopted a patchwork of solutions. Korean Air Lines Co. sprays all surfaces with a cleaning fluid that it says neutralizes more than 100 bacteria and viruses. United Airlines Holdings Inc. says it wipes down high-touch areas with a disinfectant and uses electrostatic sprayers and UV light disinfection systems. The robots at Air India Express have cleaning arms that plop down into the rows to reach every nook and cranny.” • Hygiene theatre. No doubt approved at board level…

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 65 Greed (previous close: 64 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 63 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 19 at 1:24pm.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Persia (Iran). “Iran has been less active on the world stage” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.)

Household Tips

“Decontaminating N95 masks for reuse” [Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory]. “Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have determined that heating N95 respirators up to 75 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes deactivates a surrogate coronavirus without compromising the device’s fit and its ability to filter airborne particles. This temperature (equivalent to 167 degrees Fahrenheit) is easily achieved in hospitals and field settings allowing for the N95s to be reused once decontaminated… Previous studies have shown that humid heating for these times/temperatures will inactivate SARS-CoV-2.” • I assume “field setting” could be a household. Do readers have tips on household techniques for this?

“How to Clean and Reuse an N95 Mask” [American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees]. “A study in the New England Journal of Medicine uses a round robin rotation of masks so that each one is rested for at least 72 hours before being worn again. This relies on the widely held belief that the coronavirus should not survive more than 72 hours on an inhospitable host, like the surface of an N95 mask. The downside to this method is that you need four masks per

wearer, and that’s assuming you use only a single mask each day.” • They also recommend boiling. I’m not sure about that.

Groves of Academe

This wonderful story shows how a university ought to work. Worth reading in full:

Class Warfare

“Characterizing Wealth Inequality in Cryptocurrencies” [Blockchain Economics]. “Our analysis reports that, despite the heavy emphasis on decentralization in cryptocurrencies, the wealth distribution remains in-line with the real-world economies, with the exception of Dash. We also report that 3 of the observed cryptocurrencies (Dogecoin, ZCash, and Ethereum Classic) violate the honest majority assumption with less than 100 participants controlling over 51% wealth in the ecosystem, potentially indicating a security threat. This suggests that the free-market fundamentalism doctrine may be inadequate in countering wealth inequality within a crypto-economic context: Algorithmically driven free-market implementation of these cryptocurrencies may eventually lead to wealth inequality similar to those observed in real-world economies.”

News of the Wired

“The effects of defaunation on plants’ capacity to track climate change” [Science]. “Half of all plant species rely on animals to disperse their seeds. Seed dispersal interactions lost through defaunation and gained during novel community assembly influence whether plants can adapt to climate change through migration. We develop trait-based models to predict pairwise interactions and dispersal function for fleshy-fruited plants globally. Using interactions with introduced species as an observable proxy for interactions in future novel seed dispersal networks, we find strong potential to forecast their assembly and functioning. We conservatively estimate that mammal and bird defaunation has already reduced the capacity of plants to track climate change by 60% globally. This strong reduction in the ability of plants to adapt to climate change through range shifts shows a synergy between defaunation and climate change that undermines vegetation resilience.”

The source of all the trouble:

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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 (AM):

AM writes: “Near North Cove, WFC, NYC about 3 minutes before sunset on the day after Thanksgiving 2021. The leaves are actually brown, but the glow from the sun makes them look reddish orange.”

* * *

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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. Cali

    “Madame Tussauds unveils new Biden and Harris figures”

    Actually, the wax figures look better and inspire more confidence than the jerky and body fluid versions.

    If you listen quietly, you can even hear them whisper:

    I’m melllttiinnnggg!

    Their neigbors in the gallery, McConnell and Feinstein also slowly slump.

      1. Wukchumni

        The nice thing about the Mayo Pete wax figurine is the string on it’s back where you pull it, and it speaks woke in 7 different languages.

    1. The Rev Kev

      If they wanted it to be true to life, they should have had two versions. The first is Joe’s version where he is immediately behind Kamala and leaning into her hair. The second would be Kamala’s version where Joe is at the top of a long flight of stairs – and she is immediately behind him.

    2. Kevin Smith MD

      Co-anchor Michael Che noted that while Kamala Harris will become the first vice president to get a wax figure at Madame Tussauds, “Joe Biden is the first wax figure to become president.”

  2. Hana M

    My tin foil hat theory on the missing Boston area MWRA data is that they are waiting to update until Michelle Wu’s unpopular vaccine mandate has been in place for a week or so (it starts today). Then the plummeting RNA numbers will be attributed to her brilliant leadership rather than to seasonal patterns.

    1. petal

      Wondering what will happen after the universities around there start classes again. Looked up the start dates for BU(1/20), BC(1/18), Northeastern (1/18), and Harvard(1/24). It will be interesting to observe.

    2. ChrisFromGeorgia

      Speaking of tin foil, has anyone else heard rumors that on Feb. 2nd they are just going to stop reporting on COVID deaths?

      That is one way to “crush the virus.”

      1. jo6pac

        I read that the other day but don’t know were. I guess if stop counting them then it never happened. Then joe biden and govt. won the war against the virus and they won’t have to send not so free test or masks to us on Main Street;-)

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            The counter-argument is that the states will get the same data and give it to the Feds, but that’s absurd, first because with the states overstretched, with the best will in the world the data will be late and bad, and not all states are of good will on the data.

  3. Samuel Conner

    Re: disinfecting masks, I think an 8qt or 6 qt Instant Pot or equivalent programmable pressure cooker could be used (one would want to be sure that the model chosen allowed user control of temperature). One would need to rig up a way of suspending the respirator within the cooking pot.

    I feel a bit uneasy about the effect of any aggressive re-use intervention (aside from ‘airing out on a rotation’) on the efficacy of an N95. Are there inexpensive ways of fit testing them to verify they are still functional after cleaning? 3M’s fit-test setup is mid $$$.

    1. Howard Beale IV

      I have a CPAP sterilizing device that sterilizes what you put in it in 5 minutes. It uses a UV-C lightsource, so I can just place the mask in, push the button and I’m ready to go.

      1. cyclist

        This may not be a good idea – UV-C is likely to cause deterioration of the synthetic materials that these masks are made from.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > UV-C is likely to cause deterioration of the synthetic materials that these masks are made from.

          I’m not so sure.

          Germicidal Ultraviolet Light Does Not Damage or Impede Performance of N95 Masks Upon Multiple Uses Environmental Science and Technology Letters 2020:

          Germicidal ultraviolet light provides a nonchemical, easily deployable technology capable of achieving inactivation of H1N1 virus on masks. Working with N95-rated masks and nonrated surgical masks, we demonstrated that neither 254 nor 265 nm UV-C irradiation at 1 and 10 J/cm2 had adverse effects on the masks’ ability to remove aerosolized virus-sized particles. Additional testing showed no change in polymer structure, morphology, or surface hydrophobicity for multiple layers in the masks and no change in pressure drop or tensile strength of the mask materials. Results were similar when applying 254 nm low-pressure UV lamps and 265 nm light-emitting diodes. On the basis of the input from healthcare workers and our findings, a treatment system and operational manual were prepared to enable treatment and reuse of N95 facial masks.

          Do you have a link? (I’ve gotta say, nuking a mask in a CPAP machine sounds attractive. They aren’t cheap, though. And not all have UV.

    2. Utah

      Being in a state that does a lot of home preservation, my first thought was to use a dehydrator to decontaminate masks They have low enough temperature settings, unlike an oven. I don’t expect many people to have those on hand, though.

      Perhaps the dry cycle of a dishwasher could get to those temps, too.

      1. LaRuse

        I have a dehydrator and that is actually a pretty great idea (I’ve been on the air out on rotation method). Thanks for suggesting.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Doesn’t the virus die/disintegrate after a few days exposure to air and maybe light? If so, wouldn’t it be best to have 7 masks and wear one per day while letting the other 6 carefully air-bathe to let the virions die? And rotate them at 1 per day.

      1. HotFlash

        Agree, this omicron is not your ordinary VoC. I will be rotating 7 masks, marking mine with days of the week. Dr Tsai, the N95 developer, says resting the masks causes no change in the masks properties ie, filter efficiency and fit). Weather permitting, I can ‘rest’ them outside. Bonus! I will know what day it is!

        I do not understand the complaint about needing four masks. So what? If you dispose of them after use, you will need 365 or so for a year. With resting them, 4 to 7 will suffice for the duration.

        1. Nothing

          I like this idea and will probably change my setup to this. Good and logical and less chance of me getting confused which mask is which.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I do not understand the complaint about needing four masks. So what?

          As I commented recently, somewhere: The idea that one should do the minimum is popular and seems closely allied to “living your life” and a return to normalcy. This idea strikes me as destructive of self and others. It’s a pandemic, ffs! (As readers must have figured out by now, I’m a dove on vaccines. But I’m a superhawk on masks.)

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Oh . . . . if I had read just this far before commenting, I would not have needed to comment at all.

  4. MichaelC

    Re Nationwide Biobot results

    I think we need to take this presentation w a big grain of salt.

    None of the MA regions included in this analysis mirror the dramatic declines in the Boston analysis. They are all still nearly vertical in the Nationwide compilation.

    The Ny data only includes (R stronghold) Nassau County and they are still on the rise per this presentation, so this contradicts the dramatic drop statewide reported in the confirmed cases monitoring.

    It’s a lovely info graphic. Shame it has such limited info.

    1. GF

      The drop seems to coincide with the students leaving for Christmas break along with other holiday travelers. It will be interesting to see if a rebound occurs when students come back.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Shame it has such limited info

      That is true for every single piece of data we have, however. It’s when the various independently derived pieces of data start reinforcing each other that life gets interesting. Personally, I’m glad this data, er, stream is parallel to the CDC shitstem (though in a perfect world we’d have a national system, we are far from that).

      (Biobot is also an interesting company — though not (yet?) public. I don’t think we’re looking at Theranos, here. If I played the ponies, which I don’t, wouldn’t short them. And Y Combinator seems to have emitted a start-up that isn’t a sociopathic rent extractor, for a wonder.)

  5. hemeantwell

    Re the Reconstruction era law….whooowee, and there’s more to it. I’ve been reading Eric Foner’s book Reconstruction, which I cannot recommend highly enough for those sharing my ignorance of the period. The 14th amendment was intended to allow the Federal government to override state prerogatives regarding voter eligibility. The article excerpt is right in pointing to the possibility of disqualifying “rebels,” but it overlooks another potential bombshell: article 2 allows for a reduction in the number of congressional representatives in proportion to the number of voters who are disenfranchised. This was intended to force the former rebels to accept a reduction in their congressional strength if they persisted in denying the vote to Blacks. But clearly it could now be used to punish states engaging in voter suppression. The various resonances of this sort that emerge as I’ve been reading Foner are pretty boggling.

    It’s delightful to read that anti-planter sentiment ran so strong in the North and some areas in the South. The wish to eliminate the “aristocracy” recalls the elimination of the Junkers post-WW2. That would never have happened if East Germany hadn’t been occupied by the Soviets.

    1. hemeantwell

      Ran out of time to edit: the American Junkers were saved for a variety of reasons, but it seems crucial that commercial interests in the North wanted to get the plantations growing cotton again and so were inclined to back the continued concentration of land holding instead of breaking them up and distributing the land to former slaves and white farmers. That, of course, might have led to the reconsideration of other forms of concentrated wealth.

    2. marym

      ” The various resonances of this sort that emerge as I’ve been reading Foner are pretty boggling.”

      I thought it would be worthwhile to read Foner’s Reconstruction, DuBois’s Black Reconstruction in America, and Blight’s Race and Reunion as kind of a set. I’ve read DuBois and Blight, and so far just the first chapter or so of Foner. It’s been a complicated experience reading them and thinking about connections to today’s world – roots, parallels, legacy, and shameful repetition and regression.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Foner’s Reconstruction, DuBois’s Black Reconstruction in America, and Blight’s Race and Reunion

        Impressive. There’s a lot of knowledge in this thread, which I hope will be shared.

        Interestingly, there’s a finance angle. From the redoubtable Ed Harrison:

        The panic of 1873 happened when Jay Cooke, a bank, collapsed after failing to sell Northern Pacific Railway bonds (2007) followed by the Democrats taking control of the House in 1874 (2010), and the contested Hayes/Tilden election/legitimacy crisis of 1876 (2016–??). Rhymes all over the place!

        Never forget finance!

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      And it would never have happened in the newly-former Confederate States if Lincoln hadn’t been assassinated. But he was. And it never happened.

  6. Carolinian

    Re The New Republic–how can you “precisely target” Covid rules when the science itself is still so imprecise? Whatever the court said to soften the blow here’s suggesting the court of public opinion is not going to tolerate any more Biden fooling around and at 33 percent approval he’s unlikely to try.

    But certain quarters (not water cooler of course) only want to see mandates–any kind of mandates. Could it be its more about the power? For sure many in the public will think so.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Re The New Republic–how can you “precisely target” Covid rules when the science itself is still so imprecise?

      I don’t think the precision needs to be greater than “meatpacking plant.” Of course, without a theory of transmisison, the Biden Administration will have a hard time writing regulations on ventilation but perhaps that can be addressed.

  7. marym

    Re: Voter suppression
    State legislators – “morons” or not – are not without resources.

    “Heritage, according to internal documents obtained by the New York Times, is spending $24 million and working with ALEC [see next quote too] to “produce model legislation for state legislatures to adopt” and hire lobbyists in “crucial states.” The typical model legislation stemming from this effort attacks voters and local election officials by swooping in to limit absentee voting and ballot drop boxes, make voter registration harder, purge voters, and cut back on early voting.

    These cookie-cutter bills ignore voters on the ground who want more voting access and options. But strikingly, these bills are also uniform in undermining the power of local officials to attack real problems, stripping them of the budgets and resources they need to run accessible elections.””

    (The authors are from All Voting is Local) https://allvotingislocal.org

    “[ALEC CEO Lisa] Nelson’s dodge is that, due to the blowback and corporate exodus it experienced from its earlier work on Voter ID and gun laws, ALEC is not posting its own model bills on voting restrictions—they have essentially outsourced that to a dark money group called the Honest Elections Project that operates in close conjunction with ALEC.”

    Honest Elections Project – a somewhat neutral and a critical perspective:

    In addition to voter suppression tactics, state laws are being proposed/passed to give legislators control over election procedures and certification. What’s so frustrating about Biden and Senate Democrats now (besides a million other things) is that they talk about voter suppression, but not these other measures – which I don’t think their voting rights bills would even address.

    1. dcblogger

      Personally, I think Republican voter suppression tactics are shitty, but not very effective.
      How old is Maurer? because I can’t imagine anyone old enough to remember politics before the voting rights act believing such nonsense. The nation shifted to the left in 1966 and only the Vietnam war blocked further progress. The Kleptocracy has spent the last 55 years fighting the voting rights act. Had it still been in place Clinton would have won the Electoral College and Stacy Abrams would be governor. As a former Democratic precinct captain I have seen again and again how voter suppression has stolen elections and how successfully fighting voter suppression has won elections. Republicans may very well be morons, but they have a reptilian focus on their goals.

      1. Yves Smith

        I can’t speak to more recent elections, but Greg Palast documented that the Republican win in the 2000 presidential election was the result of voter suppression. Florida did not allow felons to vote. Jeb was then governor. His administration engaged the high bigger for the contract to scrub the voter rolls. They scrubbed every black-looking name that dimly resembled that of a felon, so Linda Washington would also get Lakisha Washington and other black-signaling names removed. Palast estimates a minimum of 90,000 black voters were removed. 90,000 black voters x 30% black turnout x 90% propensity of blacks to vote Democrat = 24,300 votes, more than 10x the number of hanging chads. There would have been no contested result and a Gore win ex the suppression.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Add to that toxic mixture the computer voting systems at the time (Diebold?) where in one area alone 20,000 votes disappeared from the Democrats and resurfaced for either the Republican candidate or a Republican-friendly candidate. Instead of fighting tooth-and-nail about this, the Democrats just rolled over and accepted it. But that Katherine Harris has a lot to answer for in her vote-scrubbing efforts. She should have gone to prison.

        2. marym

          In 2018 Floridians voted >64% to overturn the lifetime voting ban for people convicted of felonies who had served their time. Then the legislature barred them from voting if they had outstanding fines. There were fundraising efforts to help pay. There were problems with state records making it difficult for people to find out how much they owed. DeSantis had the state police investigate the fundraising effort (which found no evidence of the funding being an attempt to influence how people voted). The link below has estimates that 40K people had their fines paid, but 700K people were still disenfranchised in 2020 due to the fines.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Voter suppression is not the only method they are engineering. They are engineering results-suppression as well, and also results-setaside. With their own embeds getting elected as Secretaries of State and with Republican Legislatures giving themselves the power and privilege to nullify unwelcome results local election oversight cadre by local election oversight cadre.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > With their own embeds getting elected as Secretaries of State and with Republican Legislatures giving themselves the power and privilege to nullify unwelcome results local election oversight cadre by local election oversight cadre.

        I’m not sure that the liberal concept of setting up a “magic board” of disinterested parties “outside politics” is possible or (ultimately) desirable. So much of this is liberal Democrat aghastitude: “My gawd. These people are actually running for office!” Yes, indeed they are. That is because they are more serious about politics than you are.

        Of course, with hand-marked paper ballots hand-counted in public, a lot of the transparency issues go away. It’s one thing to say the vote was hacked (as in Ohio 2004) via electronic devices that are inherently untrustworthy and where the tabulation is opaque. (Ken Thompson, designer and original implementer of Unix, explains why here, for those in doubt.) It’s quite another to make the same claim when the ballots are paper and counted in the open with the TV cameras on. (Note that even those loons in Arizona, who did a recount on TV with every intention of finding for Trump, ultimately could not do so.)

        I know I’n a broken record on this, but the material realities of balloting and tabulation are foundational (also the voter rolls, a parallel issue). I have great difficulty taking anybody seriously on electoral reform who seems not to understand this. Hence my lack of excitement when Democrats defend “our democracy” (***cough*** Iowa 2020 ***cough***). Indeed, I find it hard to believe they are advocating in good faith. I cannot avoid the conclusion that enabling election theft is the (unspoken) unique selling proposition for “ballot marking devices,” that both parties know this, and that is why they prefer them. (Paraphrasing Akerlof and Shiller: Where fraud can occur, it will already have occurred.)

        1. marym

          Speaking also as a broken record:

          Provisions in the bill the Democrats aren’t passing: option to vote by mail is open to all, all in-person voting locations provide a hand-marked option on Election Day, voter-verifiable machine marked ballots are printed on non-tabulating marking systems (tabulation is separate from marking).

          The third option would be subject to error/fraud if there’s scan codes not matching the voter-verifiable list, or tabulation coding error/manipulation.

          I’m not qualified to asses whether the pre-election testing and post-election non-total recounts/audits that states do as a regular process are statistically sufficient to detect tabulation error/fraud; or the technology of voting and tabulating equipment audits.

          In 2020 46% of voter voted by mail. 67% of states will have a hand-marked election day ballot option.


          Some of the so-called issues raised and debunked in 2020 and that will be more difficult to dispute successfully with some of the new laws would still exist with all hand-marked ballots.

  8. Tom Stone

    A few words from the late Malvina Reynolds “LittleBoxes”:

    And the People in the houses
    All went to the University
    Where they were put in boxes
    And they all came out all the same

    And there’s Doctors and Lawyers
    And Business executives
    And they are all made out of ticky tacky
    And they all look the same

    And they all play on the golf course
    And drink their martini’s dry
    And they all have pretty children
    And the children go to school

    And the children go to summer camp
    And then to the university
    Where they are put in boxes
    And they come out all the same

      1. Even keel

        Dry is just a fashion. Martini is gin and vermouth, garnished, on ice. Less vermouth is drier. More vermouth is wetter.

        A little four year old girl visiting a bug collection is out of the box. Hopefully she was able to stay out.

    1. Even keel

      Just spit balling and thinking out loud:
      Nothing really wrong with institutions that re-produce the prior generation. Cultural transmission is a great human characteristic. As a parent, trying to teach my kids right from wrong, and help them acquire manners, and then thinking about getting them to think rationally and have base assumptions that are useful, all that is very daunting.
      Sometimes it feels like there isn’t a lot of help. Perhaps universities have become substitute finishing schools for the middle class because there are limited alternatives for cultural formation?

      I wish they were just places were we could go and read books and learn new ideas, and have the cultivation of the person come from somewhere else. And I don’t like a lot of reports of the type of culture being cultivated at universities. But still, some culture is better than none.

      So, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a university and child rearing system that helps the children turn out like their parents and like each other. In fact, that’s a successful system, that’s what the system is for. Right? Malvina’s main critique is sub textual? That they all turn out poorly , with values with which she disagrees.

      I don’t know. Just thinking.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        I think she was pointing out something close to what Savio was complaining about in the Berkeley Free Speech Movement:

        Well I ask you to consider — if this is a firm, and if the Board of Regents are the Board of Directors, and if President Kerr in fact is the manager, then I tell you something — the faculty are a bunch of employees and we’re the raw material! But we’re a bunch of raw materials that don’t mean to be — have any process upon us. Don’t mean to be made into any product! Don’t mean — Don’t mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone! We’re human beings!

        Human beings are not born to be cogs in a machine, a machine, BTW, that exists for the sole purpose of funneling money and power to those who already have both. Universities, like educational institutions generally, should be places where each student’s uniqueness is nurtured and cultivated, not factories where more wage slave fodder is produced.

  9. Raymond Sim

    I’ve been keeping an eye on the SCAN project data from SF Bay Area sewersheds.

    There are some aspects of the presentation that puzzle me. (It seems as though the tests often max out?) But even with time off for the holidays SCAN gave clear early warning for the Omicron wave.

    Levels in multiple sites have seemed to be trending more or less downward since Jan 7 or thereabouts, but there’s been no dramatic symmetric decline. I worry what it may portend if we don’t see one soon. Levels are very high.


    1. Arizona Slim

      Raymond, I never imagined the guy I knew in junior high school as a user of the word “sewersheds.”

      But good on ya. And I’m stealing that word!

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’ve been keeping an eye on the SCAN project data from SF Bay Area sewersheds.There are some aspects of the presentation that puzzle me. (It seems as though the tests often max out?) But even with time off for the holidays SCAN gave clear early warning for the Omicron wave.

      I can’t watch everything. Please let us know what you catch!

      1. Raymond Sim

        Will do so as I’m able – reading, writing, and reckoning wear out my strokified brain very quickly.

  10. Grant

    The polls for Republicans are just as hallow as they were for Biden. Look fine now, but these corrupt frauds will then have to actively govern and not only are their policies largely unpopular and destructive, they will actively make things worse. They are also set to take power as ecosystems continue to break down and as the environmental crisis continues to grow in scale. They will speed that collapse up too. I think we are in for a Yugoslavia like collapse in the absence of radical changes in the years ahead. I fully expect the Democrats to continue to play the key role of beating back the left in their primaries and working with the other rotten party to make sure no other parties emerge nationally. I have hope for change but don’t expect much in the short term from electoral politics.

    1. Librarian Guy

      Completely agree, but as long as they hold control between the two parties, expect no Change or Hope, ever. (Obama really was trolling the public, & very self-aware of it at the time.) Both parties pursue the same policies of allowing the elites to steal from and impoverish the little people. The R’s will win now because they at least have something (fake culture war distractions) over the clueless, faux-technocratic (still can’t get anything done, it’s not like they want to) Dimmys . . . They’ll kick the spit out of uppity wimmens and minorities for a bit, people will get sick of the bullying and we’ll get the clueless Dimmy elite faux “caring” with no results again. Wash, rinse, repeat as the economy, education, health and environment (as you point out) decline . . . Glad to be in my early 60s. The next 20-30 years in this country will look like the USSR when “freedumb” looting came in, 1990s onward. Huge declines in lifespans, alcoholism and drugs to self-medicate, giant homeless tent cities, and Oligarchs offing any stupid peasants who dare to resist. As Nina Simone warned in the early 60s, so it now comes to pass– “This whole country is full of lies, you’re all gonna die and you’ll die like flies”.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Which parts of America could escape semi-undamaged as functional equivalents of Slovenia in that scenario?

      1. Librarian Guy

        I moved to northern Minnesota from the Bay Area, California due to the wildfires, crowding, high prices, etc. The place is wet and clean (relatively speaking to rest of the US), no supply chain collapse evident in my local grocery store, and lots of fish, nature, relatively few humans destroying things. Glad I made the move, despite the cold (minus 12 degrees F as I write this).

  11. NotTimothyGeithner

    If not after the Supreme Court cuts the heart out of the Voting Right Act – then when?

    If not after an avalanche of state legislation carving back voting rights – then when?

    The time to act on voting rights is now. -tweet from Timmy Kaine. The dolt Hillary picked to make her look smarter and more charismatic by comparison.

    It doesn’t sound terrible, but I skimmed the Mark Kelly fundraising letter yammering about updating rules in regards to the filibuster. If Manchin and Sinema are heavily motivated by stupidity (they both will never win another election), I think they like are heavily influenced by the long term consequences of pretending the filibuster had any value by Team Blue. Manchin asked Biden of all people about a view of Robert Byrd as if that had any merit. By not dealing with the filibuster earlier (of course, guys like Timmy would have had to vote against good legislation), they created the conditions where Manchin and Sinema types who googled the filibuster for the first time have no understanding what it is. They might even think the movies are what makes the filibuster. A few months back Timmy said they should go back to historical rules like in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”. The Harvard “educated” guy can’t even articulate a real example. What hope is there for really stupid people.

  12. Jack

    I look forward to a critical review of Dave Pepper’s book by some knowledgable Democratic activist insider here in Ohio. Mr Pepper was quite lethargic in his support of our PAC here in a rural Ohio county during his tenure as head of the Ohio Democratic Party. Meanwhile those mean old Republicans took over the state.

  13. PHLDenizen

    There are also signs that his standing is diminishing among Black voters…

    Unless you’re a black voter under the spell of the black misleadership class. Clyburn comes to mind. SC is a lock for Biden and I don’t see any scenario under which that changes.

    No one has offered up a coherent and plausible reason why people like Clyburn have any legitimacy or such profound influence. Then again, I’m handicapped by the need to make sense. And the Dems and their voters have no such constraints.

    Just victims of the in-house drive-by.

  14. NotTimothyGeithner


    Apparently, Biden didn’t anticipate the level of GOP obstruction. To be fair, he was the Vice President the last time there was a Democratic President. He wouldn’t know. I don’t even think he had to cast a tie breaking vote (which should tell you the Founder’s intentions).

    Not that Senator is a real job, but Biden didn’t have a real job for 12 years before Manchin became President.

    1. chris

      I’ve been listening to the Q&A. Words fail me.

      Biden is living on another planet with respect to everything he’s talking about. The one exception being what he said about why we pulled out of Afghanistan. In that case the press lives in another universe.

    2. cocomaan

      Ah here we go. Can’t govern because Republicans.

      Did Trump ever whine about the obstruction of democrats? I don’t really think he did. He just called them socialists and insulted them on Twitter. Even better, George W Bush just had Democrats vote for whatever he was doing, they just went along with a lot of his agenda.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        C’mon maan. The GOP has obstructed like this since the last Democratic President. Biden wasn’t even in the Senate then.

      2. Arizona Slim

        And nobody knew how to hurl insults like Trump. Admit it, when it came to insults, the guy was the political equivalent of, well, Don Rickles.

        1. The Rev Kev

          The guy did have a talent for spotting a sore spot in an opponent – and then rubbing in a coupla pounds of salt into it. What he did to his fellow Republican Presidential candidates was nothing short of a demolition job.

  15. Mantid

    Ya got to admit, in the Area of Concern Continuum graphics that Lambert posts, there’s getting to be some greeeeen. Cross your fingers peeps.

  16. Cresty

    Hey Lambert or comment mods– having some real ad related trouble using safari on iphone. Pop up ad hijacks the page and redirects, can’t be undone to read the article. Everything’s fine on desktop.

  17. dcblogger

    I do wish liberal Democrats would stop hating on voters. What sense does it make?
    I can only suppose it comes from a desperate attempt to maintain control of the party at all costs. But I don’t think that Begala understands what is happening. The Bernie people have shifted their energy to labor organizing, mutual aid, and climate justice.

    1. Art Vandalay

      I think the distinguishing characteristic of the neoliberal PMC is aggressive conformity. I think they hate voters for the same reason people do mean and stupid things to be part of high school cliques. Hopefully people grow up after high school, engage in introspection, and become better people. Those in the establishment Dems? Not seeing a lot of evidence there’s anything other than (narrow, selfish) greed and a desire to be “in.”

      See also Lambert’s Rule #2: go die!

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Are they doing it in an organized way? Are they keeping in touch with eachother? Are they maintaining or restoring some social and physical infrastructure of organized organization?

  18. Vander Resende

    Lambert wrote:
    “They also recommend boiling. I’m not sure about that”.

    I didn’t try that yet, but some days ago, I read this pdf:


    Pascal S. C. Juang, MD and Peter Tsai, PHD
    “N95 Masks Can be Boiled for 5 Min – Masks will retain 92.4% FE after boiling. The elastic band
    should not be immersed in boiling water. Do not stir while boiling to avoid disturbing the physical structure of the
    mask. Charge loss is insignificant, and wet masks do not decrease FE of the filtering layer. Air-drying masks is recommended. At the time of this writing, FE decrease because of facial fit/contour loss as a result of heat drying or wearing the mask when wet is unknown”


    I think link was found here at NakedCapitalism, but I am not sure.

  19. JBird4049

    I do wish liberal Democrats would stop hating on voters. What sense does it make?


    “Moralising to Impress” … You can let that person look better than you, or you can intervene and outdo them. Grandstanders take the latter option, which is why so many of our discussions about politics quickly take us to extremes.”

    This is connected.

    The PMC and the Woke remind me of some managers and customers. There is an unspoken (usually), unwritten hierarchy in retail. The whiter you are the better the public and the management treats you. The more you look and talk like a possible PMC, a member of a high status class, even if you are a dirt poor clerk, the better you are treated. As a person who is white, male, and comes from a college educated family, I was (usually) treated less like a particularly dull child and more of a human. I sometimes had to act as the shield for my fellow workers. Not that I always could.

    Also, as a dude who has not only worked in retail with two hearing aids and has the typical slightly flat of a hard of hearing person, almost always if there was any confusion or problems due to me not hearing, the person talking would politely make allowances. They would even apologies if they got angry earlier before realizing my hearing loss, even if they were otherwise complete jackasses. Class, race, education, or whatever, people are usually very considerate on such matters. It also meant that the customer would have to look at me, the man behind the counter and the whipping boy of their desires. It usually broke their automated thinking. It got the hidden class consciousness out of the conversation

    But there is that kind of individual who insist that it is all your fault, that you are the moron, the stupid, or the racist, the bigoted one, or even worse, that you are a stupid child.

    Like a Hispanic co-worker being asked if “did she understand the concept of five minutes.” Then there is seeing a white woman earnestly complimenting a grown black man’s English as if it was a strange and unusual thing. Or personally being accused of being racist because I did not hear the person talking to my back from several feet away while doing paperwork. That was interesting. As was the moralizing. And that I really could not see them, so how was I to know what they looked like? Nonsense like this I saw all the time twenty years ago and do believe it is worse, now.

    But all this does make the speaker feel good. I could see it in their faces. That high from being righteous and better than the other person. And did you know that it was usually the better educated (at least they looked and sounded like that) regardless of their race that were more unconsciously class aware and enforced the class distinction more brutally. Not a given of course as people are not puppets.

    It is like a cult. The cult of the highly educated. Work sixty hour weeks doing good at the local NGO or at the corporation pushing paper so sure of their value, their importance, intelligence, and abilities. This allowed them to use this surety to impose their righteousness, their virtue, their superiority on everyone else not of the Cult of the Highly Educated. Educational Jingoists is what they are.

    Moreover, for a supposedly classless society, we certainly seem to have a class system, well enforced, and finely gradiated too. The homeless. The carless. The undeserving poor and then the deserving poor. The workers. The lower, middle, upper midde, and upper, upper Middle Class. Those with masters degrees and those without. The Trust Fund Kids. The upper class. The Ruling class. The One Percent. And finally, the 0.001 who actually control much of society. Black bumps you down a class or two, while White usually bumps it up a class or two with being a celebrity in something bumping you up as well. It is like an old Victorian novel or a BBC production. Yes, it is, but just how often does the media or modern music, novels, plays, and movies even mention this?

    Envy up and scorn down is something I have read about American society with company management of most businesses, the PMC and the Woke Movement doing this, but I believe many, if not most, of them are not consciously aware of it. At least not completely conscious of it. If you challenge one of them on their unexamined biases, on their classism, they might honestly be confused. Then there are the Clintons, Obamas, and Manchins of the world who are conscious of it and use it for power. I wonder just how aware Nikole Hannah-Jones is? Her slippery writings suggest she is, but it is amazing how people are able to ignore what they don’t want to see. I have dealt with enough addicts to understand that and people can be addicted to all sorts of things. All sorts of things and it does even have to physically exist.

    1. Mikel

      “Envy up and scorn down”

      Captured in the movie “The Platform”
      “A vertical prison with one cell per level. Two people per cell. Only one food platform and two minutes per day to feed. An endless nightmare trapped in The Hole.”

      The guh moment: When you realize how many levels down the food has to travel.
      Most quotable moment:
      “Don’t talk to the people above you.”
      “Because they won’t talk to you. And don’t talk to the people below you.”
      “Beacause they are below you.”

      1. chris

        What about those of us who needed to get the advanced degrees to do what we need to do? Not speaking of credentialism but actually needing to master a wide body of knowledge and go deep into study to accomplish that. That’s important because what I need to do involves keeping people safe and understanding horribly complex engineering problems. I’ve never made the kind of bank finance people do for their MBAs but I can tell you I’ve earned several degrees in hard sciences and I use everything I’ve learned everyday in my career.

        This strain of thought that no one ever needs the advanced degree and all corporate jobs are BS jobs is a kind of anti-intellectualism I find frightening. There are people who still do real things working with their hands and their minds. They need a lot of training to do that safely.

        1. JBird4049

          It is not anti-intellectualism that I am referring to. It is the American class system, which few are willing to talk about, that is embedded into the faux meritocracy of ours. (Or is it this meritocracy that is embedded in the class system?) A system that is used to justify the abuse, ignorance, arrogance, and stupidity of the nomenklatura and apparatchiks used to brutalized and control Americans to maintain maintain their status, privileges, and power; not coincidentally, this ten percent, the PMC, is the buffer for, and means of wheeling power by 0.001 that effectively controls the country.

          Anyways, too many of the degrees are MBAs and law with the degrees only really counting if they are of a few universities leaving too many with oppressive debts and few opportunities. IIRC, the nine current members of the Supreme Court all got their degrees from Harvard, Yale, and Columbia law. If you go back twenty years, there is a fourth university for one of them.. And we can always talk about the often illegal use of worker visas to replace more expensive American workers who usually have non Ivy League used to become more skilled. How about the medical school cartel that limits the number of American doctors who graduate each year?

          I think about these things while trying to get a bachelors without debt which is rather hard.

          1. juanholio

            I think Chris makes a good point. The problem isn’t educated people. It’s our society, and it’s worship of money, that is at fault. Educated or not, Americans have covetousness and materialism hammered home 24/7, so that it seems perfectly normal to view wealth ás a virtue, and accumulating possessions as a worthy goal.

            Successful, educated people are often wealthy, and they want to stay that way. Why wouldn’t they, what could be more American?

            The less educated and wealthy are just the same, but usually with more entitlement and less humility about it.

            It’s easy to create a wedge issue by demonizing high faluting city folk. Lots of people have a chip on their shoulder, or an axe to grind, so pretending that coneheaded Poindexter’s are the problem, instead of the whole foul edifice, is a convenient fiction for those that who benefit from stoking these divisions.

  20. Larry Y

    More on the Russian/Asiatic Flu of 1890s which likely was coronavirus OC-43: https://www.yahoo.com/news/russian-flu-coronavirus-1890s-pandemic-181921534.html

    Multiple waves in a year, inflammatory conditions and fatigue reminiscent of long Covid, all preceded by catastrophic outbreaks of a highly infectious respiratory disease in cattle that led to repeated cullings between 1870 and 1890. Throw in a quote from Rudyard Kipling. It seems like the disease continued a decade later…

  21. Wukchumni

    Humbly reporting, that I visited the hospice where the Democrat party has been resting on their laurels (from the 60’s-they’re all curled up and fading) and oh, all the bed sores-but I made sure to act as if I wasn’t looking for it isn’t polite to gawk @ something so feeble, yet still capable of extorting fees as a matter of doing business.

    When everybody is woke they seem to come alive, one operator exclaimed the need for hermaphrodite rights now! although nobody seemed interested beyond the initial assertion. The party was in terminal decline, and a few proponents made me promise that there be closed caskets @ services scheduled in early November.

  22. kgw

    I suggest sending this to your “representatives.”

    “It occurred to me when watching the video that Russia is ensuring everything is in writing and reordered for the future which is why they wanted the US response to the proposal in writing and points US would not agree, to the reason why in detail. And as far as Russia’s standing in international law, they have the agreement signed in Istanbul. I suspect US is signing its life away if it gives a written response to Russia’s proposals that is in line with what they were saying at the meetings.”

    ‘Peter is stating what I’ve put forth in a different manner which I’ll repeat again. Russia has a hand of 5 Aces, which are the two separate promises made regarding Germany’s reunification and Warsaw Pact’s decommissioning combined with no Eastern NATO movement, and the three separate OSCE Treaties on Collective European Security that all essentially say that no nation or group of nations can secure its/their security while making another nation insecure. Either the Outlaw US Empire apologizes for its wrongdoings, or it breaks the three treaties atop the other two promises it’s already broken. Those are the only two possible outcomes. Russia has played its diplomatic hand superbly and has already won. The Anglo’s problem is which choice to make in reply.’

  23. Mikel

    “Biden plans giveaway of 400M masks as Omicron surges”

    They should make Fauci manually put addresses on each and every box.

  24. Wukchumni

    The source of all the trouble:

    Do we go ‘Game as Ned*’ on high technology @ some point, with huge bonfires where Apple 13’s get tossed in among the cinders, with the twisted remains reconfigured into ad-hoc NFT broadshares?

    * Ludd-not Kelly

  25. Dnicepac


    Had a guy walk up to me outside the market and ask “Excuse me sir,..”

    “Can I buy him off with a quarter?” I thought.

    “Do you have a spare mask, I forgot mine?”

    The hot air dryers at the gas station restroom into which you put your hands had
    “Biden/Harris campaign promises” stenciled on them.

    1. Tom Stone

      Quite a few small “L” liberals I know went all in on Biden,so did a long time friend who had been a life long moderate Republican.
      He was interesting, when I brought up the $600 Badass Joe owes me he got mad and told me that Joe had never promised $2,000 checks…
      That got my attention because it showed how emotionally invested he was in the idea that the problem was Trump, not the system.
      Only one bad apple, the rest of the barrel is fine.
      And the concrete material benefits promised by the Biden/Harris team were surely going to be delivered promptly ( Remember Kamala’s $2K a month UBI?) and the Virus would be eliminated as promised when the adults took over.
      Because if it wasn’t just Trump,if the system was rotten to the core we were all screwed.
      And that was unthinkable,it HAD to be just Trump.

      All it took to believe in Biden was ignoring his actions over the last half century, continuing to believe in him is increasing their cognitive dissonance and increasing their stress.
      Thus we see more and more irrational rage.
      Someone is at fault, someone is GUILTY and must be punished.
      It can’t be Badass Joe but it has to be someone.
      Someone it is safe to deplore.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      Yeah, it’s blowing up on Twitter …apparently his campaign manager just deactivated their Twitter account as well. Needless to say, lefties are exulting in the recent developments.


  26. Wukchumni

    You wonder who props up the Mayo Pete’s and my personal pet peeve Tim Tebow-who despite not having played in the pros for a decade and was really just a journeyman player, seems always newsworthy. and is in today’s Fresno Bee with the headline:

    “Watch Tim Tebow ‘baptizing’ fan after hitting green at TPC Sawgrass 17th hole.”

    1. griffen

      Argh. You’re right about Tebow. He’s not offensive or profane, and supposedly was still worthy of a working shot to play in the NFL. Nevermind that man in the shadows who no longer coached the Jacksonville dumpster fire.

      I get suggestions from “Link in” to follow influencers, and Timmy is one from time to time. No thanks.

    1. chris

      Thanks for sharing that.

      I found this substack essay on Wokeness today felt it was good to chew on. The basic thesis being that the woke revolution is not on it’s last legs and we are nowhere near the peak of what it could be. There’s too many structural forces acting to implement woke ideology everywhere it counts.

      1. Even keel

        There is a gaping cultural void in America.

        Something will fill it. No guarantee it will be good, or in any way better than what was torn away.

        You may be right that it will be wokeness.

        Or does the economic precede the cultural?

  27. allan

    Democrats eye prime pickup chance in Katko retirement [The Hill]

    Democrats are eyeing New York’s 24th Congressional District as a prime pickup opportunity after incumbent GOP Rep. John Katko announced last week he would not seek reelection in November. …

    “Democrats are excited,” said one Democratic operative. “John Katko was obviously, I think, one of the more difficult Republicans to go up against.” …

    Three Democrats, all military veterans, have so far thrown their hats into the ring, including Navy veteran Francis Conole, Air Force veteran Sarah Klee Hood and Army veteran Steven Holden. …

    Hood said that while she is in favor of universal health care, a major progressive policy, she believes that it should be gradually introduced and implemented over a period of time.

    “I also understand that there’s been a lot of fearmongering about what universal health care truly looks like, so really at the end of the day it’s a change management process,” she said. “If we need to take baby steps to get toward universal health care, I’m open to that.” …

    Change management process. Baby steps. What’s that old joke about losing the will to live?

  28. Wukchumni

    Nunes done throw in the towel three weeks ago in resigning his Congressional post, so as to be able to spend more time with the Trump family was the claim and as always the Devin is in the details.

    His district got redrawn and it looked as if the knives they used to carve out the new turf were blue in color, and good old Dev was gonna get creamed.

    I’ll miss his $400 million pesky lawsuits engineered just so that the whole effect was the amount when it made the news, that made it news. There was never any follow through, just a cannon firing blanks.

    There’s a special election coming to fill his gap, with the winner holding office for a bit longer than a scintilla until the November election when the ‘incumbent’ goes up against presumably the same challengers they faced just a few months before.

  29. Tom Stone

    Badass Joe Biden is looking mighty shaky, is there an animatronic version ready to go or will we see Kamala “The People’s Choice” Harris take over soon?

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      Democrats en Déshabillé

      … one also has to wonder what Abrams might know. She was at CAP (Center for American Progress), and is pretty much an #HRC acolyte. Biden’s getting lame duck treatment.

      1. ChrisRUEcon


        The usual suspects doing what they do best. If you’re still invoking the low bar of #OrangeManBad a year in to Biden’s presidency … (via Twitter)

        Pres Biden, in the longest news conference in presidential history, made news, pushed back on critics, called out lies, took responsibility for mistakes he believes he made, expressed surprise at GOP, talked foreign policy and didn't lash out on reporters. Quite the change.— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) January 19, 2022

        Many responses and quote tweets essentially asserting that Yamiche was not watching the same press conference as everyone else.

  30. The Rev Kev

    ‘Rebecca Varney
    Thinking about biological collections lately I’m reminded of the time that somehow at age 4, I got a personal tour of the @UCBerkeley’

    That is an amazing story that about a very little girl and a teaching professor who took the time to pass his love of science on to her. And that seed certainly bore fruit-


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > a teaching professor who took the time to pass his love of science on to her

      Administrator: “I’ve called you into my office to tell you our AI says your student reviews are down 2% this semester, professor. What do you have to say for yourself?”

      Professor: ….

  31. lance ringquist

    the inevitable results of nafta billy clintons free trade. millions upon millions of hard working innovative americans forced into part time low pay go no where jobs, that forces them to become deep in debt, to borrow the money back that used to be ours, to buy the goods and services we used to make.

    under nafta billy clintons free trade, trains are being openly looted by desperate starving people that used to work in the factories that made what is being looted, its all made in nafta billy clintons free trade paradise communist china

    train looting ‘out of control’ as thieves(starving people)worsen supply chain bottlenecks

    Yahoo Finance
    LA freight train looting ‘out of control’ as thieves worsen supply chain bottlenecks
    Dani Romero
    Wed, January 19, 2022, 6:47 AM

    your watching the breakdown if americas civil society.

    1. caucus99percenter

      I can remember when criminals thought twice about interfering with delivery of the U.S. mail, as it was an automatic federal, not state-level, offense.

  32. melvin keeney

    I read a lot and this is the best comment section I have come across. One comment that kind of amused me was: Bernie folks moved their energy into other things. Paraphrasing. As a former Bernie bro I can tell you something. Just a local example. After the Hillary cheat and Seth Rich most of my Bernie friends shifted their energy into becoming Republicans. I voted third party. Also find it amusing that Dems are so sure Republicans are cheating. They both do.

    1. tommys

      Completely different experience here. CA and Ohio friends, both already left, and those kinda ‘progressive’…have already moved farther left, in their language, their attitude to ballot box solutions, and all ‘waiting’ for a big org to do bottom up insurrection/power class based multi color foist…..Granted from my background (old and in punk music scene for 30 years) my sampling is skewed….I’ve also seen about 90% of FB ‘friends’ (I have 900, BUT 200 of which I see yeah truthfully though once a month online), many of whom I frIended in 2016 and then in 2020, are all more radical too. I was fascinated in 2016, and went on a friending thingy, of how ‘clarifying’ it was going to be, to see the most popular politician lied about, and screwed in media and primaries..and how people would go farther ‘left’……and my opinion, is that it happened. But indeed, the anarchists and real left of my generation have failed to build bottom up assemblies, and municipal working/middle class councils….we should have been doing this since the 90’s. So I’m not happy, or feeling ‘smart’…

  33. Kevin Smith MD

    Please define your terms.
    What is the “PMC”?
    Professional-managerial class, a social class within capitalism?
    Private military company, also known as a private military contractor?

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