2:00PM Water Cooler 1/4/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I have streamlined Water Cooler somewhat. The main change is that the Politics section is now first. I anticipate that 2022-2024 will be quite lively, and with the previous structure, I was stretched too thin, and not able to devote enough time to that topic. –lambert NOTE I just realized that, in the throes of reorganization, I forgot to include the plant. One moment! UPDATE I needed to do a pantry clearout after the holiday break, so I have broken my rule and added some UPDATEs.

Bird Song of the Day

This is the closest I can come to the owl of Minerva. The media notes say: “This recording after playback of his own sounds.” Very meta — thanks, Zuck, for polluting a perfectly useful word — but I believe readers have said this is something you should never do.

* * *

“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


“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 The views of a Clintonite bag-man:


“It could have been so much worse: America got lucky on Jan 6” [The Hat Tip]. • The case for the prosecution. (Has anybody noticed, in that famous picture of a noose, on display in this article, that the noose isn’t actually functional?)

Biden Administration

“How Biden could have prepped for Omicron” [Politico]. Many quotes from epidemiologists. For example: “The biggest mistake the Biden administration made was to push a vaccines-only approach, rather than a ‘vaccines-plus,’ including rapid tests, improving indoor air quality, and distributing high-filtration masks ubiquitously, coupled with public indoor mask mandates for high-risk shared spaces. Vaccines-only suffers from a key weakness: variants. And we have now seen this play out with Omicron. We have wildfire spread as our current vaccines do not provide sterilizing immunity — meaning, people can and do still transmit the virus effectively. Rapid tests can stop public super-spreading by keeping very infectious people home. Better indoor air quality and ventilation/air filtration measures can pull infectious aerosols out of the air regardless of what variant they are carrying. And high-filtration masks can stop people who are contagious from exhaling as much virus in the air and prevent uninfected people from inhaling that virus-laden aerosol, regardless of variant.” • As we’ve been saying, or rather screaming, for some time. (To be fair to Biden, nobody in a position of power made these recommendations in January 2021; the Democrat base was and is firmly, indeed fervently, behind Biden’s Vax-only policy).

“EXTENDED CUT: How We Win the Battle with COVID (with Ed Yong)” (podcast) [In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt]. I don’t have a lot of use for insider Slavitt (see NC herehere, and here), but mildmannered Ed Yong has some tough things to say:

“[There’s] this tendency to go for, like, rugged, toxic individualism, over the kind of collective actions we need to actually defeat an infectious disease. And we saw this from some of the highest echelons of power in this country.”

“Like Trump, who is America’s id in human form, is gone, but despite that many of his successors are still hewing to similar kinds of rhetoric.”

“When the CDC made its controversial and I feel ill-advised decision to change its initial guidance for masking indoors for fully vaccinated people, the rhetoric coming from people like Joe Biden and Rochelle Walensky was very much about this individual responsibility thing.”

“You know, ‘Your health is in your hands, the choice is yours to vaccinate or not.’ Obviously, this is an infectious disease. Your health is not fully in your hands.”

Breathing is a social relation… And it will be interesting to see if and how Democrats are held accountable for managing it in 2022 (and 2024, grid willing).

Well, that’s sorted:


* * *
““The Senate Must Evolve”: Chuck Schumer Seizes on January 6 to Try to Break Voting-Rights Stalemate” [Vanity Fair]. “In private, Manchin has left the door open to at least some kind of filibuster reform. “Right now, 60 is where I planted my flag,” he told donors in June, according to leaked remarks published by the Intercept. “But as long as they know that I’m going to protect this filibuster, we’re looking at good solutions.” But in public comments, he has been more absolute. “I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster,” he wrote in an op-ed last summer. Voting rights legislation will depend on which of those two Joe Manchins is the real one: Is he the hardliner he has presented himself as, or is that some kind of negotiating tactic? It remains to be seen, but Democrats are preparing to put some fleshed-out proposals in front of him…. ‘What happened on January 6th is directly linked to the one-sided, partisan actions being taken by GOP-led state legislatures across the country,’ Schumer wrote Monday. ‘We can and must take strong action to stop this anti-democratic march.'” • If true, a little late in the day.

UPDATE “Why Democrats haven’t given up on Joe Manchin and voting rights” [CNN]. “A third option, which enjoys the most support among Democratic senators, would make filibusters harder to mount and easier to end. Instead of initiating a filibuster by simple declaration, and forcing proponents of action to overcome it, it would require filibustering senators to talk continuously, as popularized by Jimmy Stewart in the 1939 movie ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.’ It would guarantee that the minority could offer a specified number of amendments to the legislation at issue. It would let every senator speak on the floor twice. But it would ultimately allow the majority to end debate and force final action with 51 votes, not 60.” • The old-fashioned filibusters were great spectacle, for good or ill.

“Scoop: Manchin returns to Build Back Better negotiations with demands” [Axios]. “Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is open to reengaging on the climate and child care provisions in President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda if the White House removes the enhanced child tax credit from the $1.75 trillion package — or dramatically lowers the income caps for eligible families, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.”

“Biden’s court picks face fierce GOP opposition” [The Hill]. Fierce, but ineffectual: “By the end of his tenure, Trump had gotten 234 judges confirmed, second only to the Carter administration, after the Senate GOP majority made it a top priority. But Biden surpassed Trump’s numbers in his first year. The 40 judicial confirmations under Biden are the most since former President Reagan’s first term. Democrats and Biden, eager to make their own mark, have placed an emphasis on diversifying the bench.”

Democrats en Deshabille

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.

* * *
“Left and Center-Left Both Claim Stacey Abrams. Who’s Right?” [New York Times]. • The reporter emptied their Rolodex (in which Third Way still appears). When Abrams lost her race for governor, she ran to Washington and got herself hired by Neera Tanden, whose name does not appear in the article. That’s all you need to know.

UPDATE Democrat strategists who hate the working class:


“2022 House Race Ratings” [Cook Political Report]. • Handy chart:



Democrat NGOs were always hopped up on this, along with some of the Democrat press. Democrat electeds never were. I don’t know what accounts for the discrepancy (except the constant NGO quest for funding).

“Cook Report projects GOP as clear favorite to win House majority” [The Hill]. “Republicans need to net just five seats in 2022 to recapture control of the lower chamber, a goal that appears well within reach, especially given the fact that the party of a new president tends to lose ground in Congress in midterm election years.”

“What Redistricting Looks Like In Every State” [FiveThirtyEight]. “At this point, redistricting has created six more Democratic-leaning seats nationally and five fewer highly competitive seats (the number of Republican-leaning seats has held steady). However, because many of those newly blue seats are already held by Democrats, it’s actually Republicans who have gained a handful of House seats through the redistricting process so far. Republicans have also converted light-red districts into safer seats in states like Indiana, Oklahoma and Utah. Overall, redistricting hasn’t drastically changed the House landscape so far — but that’s good news for Republicans, since the old maps already tilted the House playing field in their favor.”

“Democrats Are Doing Weirdly Well in Redistricting” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. “The new House map is more than half finished. And in many states where maps haven’t been finalized, the broad outlines are already visible. Taken together, the emerging picture is far more favorable for Democrats than most anticipated. As of this writing, it looks like the new House map will be much less biased in the GOP’s favor than the old one. And according to at least one analyst, there is actually an outside chance that the final map will be tilted, ever so slightly, in the Democrats’ favor…. Now, just because the emerging map is an improvement on the old one doesn’t mean that Republicans won’t still boast a structural advantage. After all, the existing House map was drawn in the aftermath of the 2010 “Tea Party” wave. In 2011, Republicans had sole discretion over the borders of 219 House districts, while Democrats dictated those of just 44. An unanticipated leftward drift among suburban voters mitigated the severity of the 2011 map’s biases by decade’s end. But it remains a very pro-Republican baseline. In all probability, the new House map will still favor the GOP. Nevertheless, the new map is going to favor Republicans by less than the old one, which wasn’t a given.”

Republican Funhouse

UPDATE If we don’t center this dude’s lived experience, we’re guilty of ableism. Nonetheless:


2020 Post Mortem

UPDATE Question, answer:


I do think we need a candidate who has to travel by bus or train….

Trump Legacy

UPDATE “Efforts to Trump-proof presidential certification crash into congressional realities” [Politico]. “Can the Electoral Count Act’s key provisions be enforced, or can a rogue future Congress — in league with a losing presidential candidate — simply ignore it?… Experts are split on whether any Congress can pass a law that would dictate how its successors certify presidential elections. Typically, the House and Senate have the constitutional power to set their own rules, which can be changed at will. Attempting to legislate against this would be unconstitutional. But the Electoral College certification is so significant that many constitutional scholars say it overrides that congressional prerogative. Still, their view is, practically speaking, irrelevant. What matters most is how leaders of the Congress elected in 2024 and future presidential years behave. They’re not beholden to adopt the prevailing view of the scholarly community, and congressional leaders often don’t…. ‘Whether a future Congress can deviate from the [Electoral Count Act] is an open question,’ said a House aide familiar with efforts to reform the law, addressing the unfinished work on condition of anonymity. ‘By putting [changes] in law, they acquire a status that makes it hard to walk away from, and likely why Congress never has done so.’ That argument has uncanny parallels to the debate that consumed Congress in 1887, a decade after a disputed presidential election nearly splintered the republic anew.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “The Republican Party Is Succeeding Because We Are Not a True Democracy” [Jedediah Britton-Purdy, New York Times]. “Majorities of the people, not the Electoral College, should be able to pick the president and decide who controls the House and Senate. All who make their lives in the United States — including the incarcerated, people convicted of felonies and noncitizens — should be allowed to vote. This might sound alarming to inland Republican voters who imagine themselves besieged by a permanent coastal majority. But in a working democracy, there are no permanent majorities or minorities. Forging partnerships in a truly democratic system, inland conservatives would soon find new allies — just not ones determined to break democracy itself. Some of these changes probably require amending the Constitution. Hard changes have come through constitutional amendment before: Shortly before World War I, activists successfully pressed state legislatures to ratify an amendment giving up their power to choose U.S. senators. Maybe we can revive mass movements for amendments, starting with one that would make the amendment process itself more democratic.” • And also from the Times:

UPDATE “Democrats, Voting Rights Are Not the Problem [Yuval Levin, New York Times]. “Some Republicans insist that the process of counting and certifying the vote in some states was corrupt in 2020. There is no evidence — none — to support any specific claims on this front. But greater care and transparency about postelection administration would serve us well regardless and could render such claims easier to test and refute in ways that would build public confidence. Some Democrats insist that Republicans are preparing to manipulate the certification process in elections in some states. So far, this mostly looks like Trump supporters running for offices with authority over election administration, which is no crime in a democracy. But requiring accountability and transparency and setting some boundaries on what can happen after an election would help ease these concerns and avert the dangers that Democrats have warned about. And all of us saw just a year ago that Congress’s role in certifying presidential elections could be clarified and rid of opportunities for confusion and mischief. Reforms focused on these themes would be a more productive path than what we’ve seen so far, which are efforts focused mostly on voting itself — on who can cast a ballot, when and by what means.”

“elections” [Joe Costello]. “In the United States, the counties conduct the elections. They control the voter rolls, set up the voting mechanisms, whether booths or by mail, and tally the votes. Election confidence is gained only by making the entire process transparent, open to all sides, and to all public scrutiny. However, this simple fact elections are run by the counties is little understood by most Americans, not so incredible really. In the last half-dozen years, the national media ran countless stories alleging nefarious election manipulations by various foreign and domestic actors. It was quite clear that many of these stories were produced by people who did not understand the counties control the election processes. But, confused media coverage is de rigueur these days.”

Liberals vs. conservatives:


(Musical interlude).

UPDATE “Americans Need to Ratchet Down Crazy Politics” [The Liberal Patriot]. “Normal Americans need to take back control of democratic discourse and end the toxic drift in politics towards treating people or officials who think differently as enemies of the state.” • Yeah, you know. Like RussiaGate. (“Normal Americans.” Ruy Teixeira is one of the co-editors of this blog. Is this really where he is now, analytically?)

UPDATE “The liberty of local bullies” [Noah Smith, Noahpinion]. I know, I know, but this one’s not so bad: “I have often remarked in the past how libertarianism – at least, its modern American manifestation – is not really about increasing liberty or freedom as an average person would define those terms. An ideal libertarian society would leave the vast majority of people feeling profoundly constrained in many ways. This is because the freedom of the individual can be curtailed not only by the government, but by a large variety of intermediate powers like work bosses, neighborhood associations, self-organized ethnic movements, organized religions, tough violent men, or social conventions. In a society such as ours, where the government maintains a nominal monopoly on the use of physical violence, there is plenty of room for people to be oppressed by such intermediate powers, whom I call ‘local bullies.’ The modern American libertarian ideology does not deal with the issue of local bullies. In the world envisioned by Nozick, Hayek, Rand, and other foundational thinkers of the movement, there are only two levels to society – the government (the ‘big bully’) and the individual. If your freedom is not being taken away by the biggest bully that exists, your freedom is not being taken away at all.”


Case count by United States regions:

If anything, this count is an underestimate. Counts from the long New Year’s weekend look suspiciously low, and at least one state was so overwhelmed it didn’t supply data at all. (I wrote: “As happened in 2020, I would expect a second, higher peak, from Omicron if for no other reason.” Here we very are. This chart is a seven-day average, so changes in direction only show up when a train is really rolling.) It would sure be nice if “rise like a rocket (and fall like a stick)” applied, but we can’t know that yet. To be fair, previous peaks — how small the early ones look now — have been roughly symmetrical on either side. But the scale of this peak, and the penetration into the population, is unprecendented.

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

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

The MWRA, too, needs a bigger chart.

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

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

Looks like the flying coals landed and caught everywhere. Quite a change from the previous release.

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

The tsunami arrives. (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: 848,885 833,029. Well, we didn’t hit a million by New Year’s. So there’s that.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Might was 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 CDC modeling hub and excess deaths charts will appear weekly, on Friday.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Job Quits” [Trading Economics]. “The number of job quits in the United States increased by 370,000 to a series high of 4.527 million in November 2021, while the quits rate increased to 3.0 percent, matching the series high in September, as employers continue to have difficulty retaining workers. Quits increased in several industries with the largest in accommodation and food services (+159,000); health care and social assistance (+52,000); and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+33,000).” • And for all those industries, it’s very easy to tell a wages and working conditions story centered on Covid. For example, health care:


Manufacturing: “United States ISM Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Manufacturing PMI in the US fell to 58.7 in December of 2021 from 61.1 in November, below market forecasts of 60. The reading pointed to the weakest growth in factory activity since January, amid a slowdown in new orders (60.4 vs 61.5) while employment grew the most since April (54.2 vs 53.3) and prices paid eased the most since March 2020 (68.2, the lowest reading since November 2020, vs 82.4). The U.S. manufacturing sector remains in a demand-driven, supply chain-constrained environment, with some indications of slight labor and supplier delivery improvement. ”

Supply Chain: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index fell to 70.1 in December of 2021, the lowest reading since January, but still pointing to a significant expansion in the logistics sector, amid abnormally high inventory metrics, combined with tight capacity and unseasonably high price growth. The reading also suggested that some supply chains may now be carrying too much inventory, potentially stocking up to avoid potential missed holiday sales. There was a contraction of inventories for downstream retailers but a rise for upstream firms such as manufacturers, wholesalers and 3PLs. Essentially, downstream retailers struggled to find enough capacity to handle consumer demand during the holiday rush, while their upstream vendors labored to store and manage the deluge of inventory that flowed into supply chains throughout 2021”

* * *
The Bezzle: An “Bored Ape” is some sort of coin:


Lots of dunking on apes, but here is the crucial point:


The Bezzle: “web3 is Centralized” [Wesley Aptekar-Cassels]. “The entire blockchain world is focused on building systems for global consensus, but global consensus is a goal that is fundamentally at odds with the goal of decentralization.” And: “The problem here is the profit motive: people who are working on web3 generally want to get paid for it, but it’s fundamentally harder to extract rent from truly decentralized systems than it is from centralized ones. Because of that, people end up building systems that are centralized at their core, with some aesthetics of decentralization smeared on top, and call it web3.”

Tech: “Snow Closed the Highways. GPS Mapped a Harrowing Detour in the Sierra Nevada” [New York Times]. “Public safety officials warned that alternate routes offered by apps like Google Maps and Waze don’t always take into account hazards to drivers.” • Oh.

Manufacturing: A long thread on chips. Here is a highlight:


Manufacturing: “Pontifications: Assessing the advantages Boeing, Lockheed Martin-Airbus have in KC-Y tanker competition” []. Boeing is the incumbent. From Sean O’Keefe was the president of EADS North America, Airbus’ parent when Boeing won the KC-X contract. He also worked for the government as the NASA administrator and on The Hill: “There is no question that this experience Boeing has had during the past decade on the KC-46 program is one that has a record. There’s a real legacy there. Their performance has been very challenged in this condition. They have had a year-over-year charge they’ve had to take for this program, and the very likelihood they may ever, ever make a dime on the KC-46 is much in doubt. That speaks to a performance record that transcends any legacy or any capacity to really have an institutional relationship. That’s going to be a factor. That’s the one that when you get done with it, it almost evens out in terms of the advantages and disadvantages they have.” • Oof.

* * *
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 68 Greed (previous close: 67 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 54 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 4 at 12:05pm. Big switch to Greed over the holidays!

Rapture Index: Close unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.)

Civil War Studies

A true scholar:



“Thank You!” (podcast) [The Civil War (1861-1865)]. • The podcasters, Rich and Tracy Youngdahl, live in Boulder, Colorado. They had to flee their home when the Marshall Fire hit their neighborhood, but when they returned, their home was intact, although many of their neighbors homes were not. Note: These supremely dedicated amateurs actually know the year the Civil War began.


“Land speculators will kill your game’s growth” [Game Developer]. “The hot new trend these days is games featuring “digital real estate.” I’m concerned these will lead to digital land speculation bubbles that will make players, developers, and investors alike lose stupid amounts of money. If you’re developing or investing in a game or app like this and expecting to ride a blistering wave of growth to a multi-billion dollar valuation you’d better take a hard look at the fundamentals before you run smack into a brick wall. Digital real estate is not actually a new phenomenon, and history consistently shows that when “digital land” sufficiently resembles the economic properties of physical land, we see digital land speculation, digital housing crises, and even full-blown digital recessions. That means a period of exciting growth suddenly grinds to a halt once scalpers corner precious digital property and keep it out of the hands of those who actually want to play the damn game or perform valuable and productive activities for the community.”

The Agony Column

I like this thread a lot:


“Is Depression Actually a Unique State of Consciousness?” [Psychology Today] (original). “[Philosopher Cecily Whiteley] proposes that ‘when an individual is depressed, she departs from a state of wakefulness to a distinctive depressive state of consciousness, a change which is reflected in an experience of an ‘existential shift’ as described by Ratcliffe’ (p. 13). Understanding depression this way has several benefits: First, it explains why the experience of depression can be so difficult to describe to someone who has never been depressed: It changes the very context in which one lives, thinks, and expresses themselves…. Second, framing depression as a state of consciousness helps to explain the ebb and flow of the symptoms of depression over time, in which sufferers feel like a different person in each stage…. Third, there are fascinating parallels between the self-reported experience of depression and being under the influence of psychedelics, particularly in terms of the ‘existential shift’ one experiences in each. As Whiteley explains, ‘in both cases, individuals report robust phenomenological changes or alterations to their experiences of time, their sense of self, bodily experience, mental agency, concentration, and attention’.” • Interesting! And so appropriate for the solstice… Totally unasked and perhaps uncalled-for but well-meant advice, at least for Seasonal Affective Depression: No matter the direction or distance, move! Get more sun. Take walks. When you do, look up at the sky, not down at your feet. And remember the days are lengthening.

Class Warfare

“/231/ New Class Analysis ft. Catherine Liu” (podcast) [Bungacast]. “On Thursday 9 November, George Hoare and Alex Hochuli took part in a conversation with Catherine Liu about their recent books – The End of the End of History and Virtue Hoarders, respectively. The focus was on the social and political role of the Professional-Managerial Class in historical context.” • I feel asleep. Sorry. This actually means that this podcast is useful to me and I will keep listening to it.

Aristocracies in formation:


“The Left’s Middle-Class Problem” [Class Unity]. “For all his talk about how not to unite the working class, [DSA representative Jamaal Bowman] seems more interested in proving his own abstract theoretical model correct than in taking seriously the interests and desires of the working class in all its diversity. Consider how he approvingly refers to the calls to defund the police that gained steam in the wake of the George Floyd protests last summer as confirmation that ‘actual movements against racism tend to have no trouble understanding the deep links between economics and racial disparity.’ Not only does Bascuñán seem unaware that cash-strapped police departments are often more lethal than better funded ones, and that several of the whitest (and poorest) states in the country experience some of the highest rates of police killings — he fails to ask whether the call to defund the police is even supported by the working-class black and brown people activists claim it would benefit the most. The available evidence suggests this is not the case. … This is not to suggest that proponents of defunding the police do not have legitimate and serious criticisms of policing — they do. And we certainly aren’t claiming that all workers are necessarily leftwing. But a new study provides data to support Class Unity’s belief that the best way to appeal to working-class people of all backgrounds is to focus on bread-and-butter economic issues and frame these in universal terms, rather than attempt to split the difference by cloaking them in the woke rhetoric that is so common among academics and NGO activists and so alienating to the majority of workers without a college degree.”

News of the Wired

“AITA for cleaning out the fridge without telling my husband?” [Reddit]. • But… WHAT’S IN THE BOX?

Kill it with fire:


* * *
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 (tennessewaltzer):

tennessewaltzer writes: “Here is a photo of the sunrise over the Tennessee River in Waterloo, Alabama.” Moar sunlight!

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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. allan

    Re: “(Has anybody noticed, in that famous picture of a noose, on display in this article,
    that the noose isn’t actually functional?)”

    Tamir Rice to the white courtesy phone.

  2. Henry Moon Pie

    My spouse is currently at my daughter’s helping take care of our first granddaughter born last week. She reports that:

    1) our daughter can’t even get a follow-up gyn/ob appointment. They just aren’t taking them;

    2) our largest local grocery chain just called back after our daughter made an online order telling her so many of the items she ordered are unavailable that she might just drop the order; and

    3) one of our other largest supermarket chains is cutting back store hours because of staff shortages.

    It’s sure nice have the grown-ups in charge, huh?

    1. Utah

      Your first point sounds dangerous. The first year post natal is one of the most dangerous for women. She should be fighting tooth and nail to get into her doctor for a post natal check up. Even if it’s another clinic. Not to scare you, of course. You can never be too cautious.

    2. Lee

      Here in Alameda county, CA, the case numbers are just shy of being equal to those of a year ago. Actually, they are probably higher because there is, according to the website, a lag in data. Hospitalizations up, ICU up a tad. Hospitals at 60% of capacity. All Covid hospitalizations and ICU patients each occupying ~7% of available beds.

      The tsunami is hitting us a bit later that other parts of the country so no curtailing of goods and services as of yet. Maybe I better get my grocery orders in sooner rather than later.

      Stay frosty.

      1. Dan

        I’m quarantining with my Covid-positive kid here in Alameda County. (Very mild and now no symptoms, thankfully), and we’re just getting going. Our school’s principal infers that there are quite a number of kids out right now. I think this thing has another couple weeks to run up in our area. I better go grocery shopping today :/

        1. Lee

          Just heard news of a special ed. teacher we know in Oakland public school. First day back on the job, two of five kids she worked with today symptomatic and tested positive. Many teachers absent at her school. Hope your kid gets well soon and that you stay that way.

    3. PHLDenizen

      Main Line Health just punted on all elective surgeries for 2 weeks due to a Covid surge. They need the extra beds and staff to cover them. Haven’t heard anything else about Philly area hospitals.

      And my partner’s daughter’s boyfriend was a complete and total asshole, opting to go on a multiday cruise with his family over Xmas. Flight to Miami, flight back from Miami, trapped on a ship with hundreds of other people, breathing all that pristine floating mall air. Now everyone in the damn house is ill with flu-like symptoms and everyone was vaccinated prior for everything including the flu. It’s not even worth getting tested.

      1. Cocomaan

        Everyone in the Philly area has Covid it seems. My neighbor is out in his yard chopping wood. No symptoms except for no smell, so he really is going stir crazy

    4. MrMadden

      Staff shortages:
      But at least they fired all those right wing nut jobs that wouldn’t get vaccinated.

  3. Michael Fiorillo

    Regarding January 6th and the symbolic noose (not that #McResistance hysteriacs recognize it or would care), but there’s a real First Amendment danger in criminalizing that image (however repugnant you may find it), since in the weeks prior to the Capitol riot, demonstrators led by Christian Smalls (who is leading the independent union drive at Amazon, centered on Staten Island) brought a guillotine to a rally across the street from Jeff Bezos’ manse in DC.

    However hegemonic liberal discourse may appear in elite circles at the moment, past practice suggests it’s more likely that labor and the Left, if there ever is one again, that gets shut down in the future if symbolic expression in public becomes criminalized.

      1. rowlf

        I’m hoping reenactors could stage an annual Running Of The Goofballs. Put the selfie-takers in the front and run the shamans in the back for a good Pomplona effect.

        1. lambert strether

          Second Civil War Pre-Enactors!

          This would be a good job for the Yes Men. Liberal Democrats are not famous for their sense of humor.

          1. rowlf

            Second Civil War Pre-Enactors!

            Heart punch me Lambert! If that happened many people would be sleeping with the lights on at night and there wouldn’t be any room for Russians to hide under many people’s beds any more. (What we really need is the pouty faces of people realizing they are being laughed at like Illinois Nazis. “We have a sense of humor” – nope.)

          2. JBird4049

            I don’t trust people that lack a sense of humor or who can not laugh at themselves. It seems like comedy generally has been cowering before the The Serious People. All those earnest people explaining things to the unwashed masses.

            I sorta remember some of the comedy of the late 60s and the 70s. I think that many people would stroke out at seeing just Blazing Saddles or Saturday Night Live back when it was funny. Then there was Archie Bunker. Too many people are more concerned with either “safe spaces,” demonizing others, or other “serious” bs like the 1619 Project. Liberal or conservative, it doesn’t matter. They are all doing this: How dare you make fun of our Very Important Stuff. You are hurting our feelings!

            Maybe why comedy seemingly being crushed is because it is like a stiletto instead of a broadsword; people can block facts, logic, reason, or common sense, but a good comedian with a joke can make you laugh long and loud, but make you go ouch once it slides into your prefrontal cortex. I heard people like Richard Pryor and Mel Brooks make very good points on racism and poverty just by being funny that would slide past the “But my… or I am… or they are…” defenses of people. Then there was Molly Ivins. Heck, Mark Twain.

            But no. We have scold or tools.

          3. LawnDart

            Second Civil War Pre-Enactors

            Oh man, this could be too much fun! Is it possible to over-the-top over-the-top? Can we get a group together when the weather breaks? Maybe storm the bar at the Statehouse Restaurant or the Capitol Bar and Grille?

    1. MP

      Exactly right. I’m not personally pleased by the idea of just making up that you won an election, putting aside how often we impose that on other countries, but the liberal discourse focuses more on how it was an “attack on our democracy,” with the locus being the assault itself. I think if Trump never followed through with the hoax and dropped it like most things they would be over it by now. The issue is that people who have not been served by govt, Staten Island Amazon workers being the perfect example, that exact same sentiment will be deployed. We’ve already seen how the FBI and CIA infiltrate domestic movements, and I expect as climate change becomes truly, globally catastrophic the pearl-clutching will only be even more hysterical. Because there’s only political formation liberals hate more than Trump…..

      1. tegnost

        We’ve already seen how the FBI and CIA infiltrate domestic movements

        And, generally speaking as well as from personal experience, the infiltrators want the protesters to do things like bring a guillotine, be violent, or any of many other things that will de-legitimize the protesters in the mainstream media…
        One of the main lessons in non violence training…
        Don’t take the bait.

  4. MP

    That NHJ civil war tweet thread is… something. Hard to make a defense against the obviously faulty 1776 Commission when the alternative is squinting at reading James McPherson with your own pre-drawn conclusions. Anyone who has read For Cause And Comrades knows that reasons for why soldiers fought in the civil war isn’t as simple as a 20th/21st century understanding of race.

    1. chris

      The replies to Ms. 1619 in that thread have restored my faith in so much of humanity. As has her refusal to delete the tweet or issue a correction in the thread. Looking forward to all the 1623 Project hashtags and references comjng from this :)

  5. notbored

    Kill it with fire: Lambert

    Ain’t you never see’d Spielberg’s “AI Artificial Intelligence”??

    Not that we’re there by a long shot but if consciousness is inherent in matter then one day an AI might be a real as you and I.

    “I’m David!”

  6. Reader_In_Cali

    Lambert – as a heads up, a “bored ape” is not a coin, they are extremely ugly NFTs from the Bored Ape Yacht Club. I think there are 10,000 different apes that will be released and sold. They’ve garnered kind of a cult following among the cryptobro/NFT “collector” set.

    (This is all so dumb, truly).

    1. NotThePilot

      Yeah, and of course the kicker is that the NFT isn’t even the procedurally-generated ape picture, just an encrypted URL to the picture… which you can still see and right-click -> save-as through the website for free like a normal person.

      I’m just disappointed that while there were some great replies in the twitter-thread (“all your apes are belong to us” is probably my fav), nobody told him to just unplug the computer & return to monke.

    2. Nothing

      I’ll add some more info from my understanding for anyone a bit interested about the Bored Ape thing; I thought this Guardian article gives some good info to explain how in some situations the Ape thing can create some sort of underlying value.


      Owning a Bored Ape NFT gives you full commercial rights to it, and holders are taking advantage of that in some creative ways. One Bored Ape owner set up a Twitter account for his ape where he created a backstory, turning him into Jenkins, a valet that works for the Yacht Club. In September, Jenkins was signed to an actual real-world agency. He’s getting his own biography — written in part by New York Times bestseller Neil Strauss.

      So the fact that certain images have a famous person write some words about them, or appear in a tv show, give them a certain amount of “value”

      Don’t bother reading this article, just scroll halfway down the page and look at the image to see how soulless in general the whole Ape yacht club thing is. A whole bunch of different eyes/mouths/hats/lasers/clothes/colors computer-generated to create 10,000 “unique” pictures. And apparently they all have a $$ value and some are worth more than others.

      In response to the theft, Becerra was asking people not to buy the NFTs from the hackers and requesting that NFT marketplaces delist the stolen NFTs on their platforms.
      Another example, that proves the succinct point that Lambert was highlighting.

  7. PHLDenizen

    RE: Barefoot Danny:

    One thing I do is examine the LinkedIn profiles for these PMC cats. It helps to gauge their level of self-aggrandizement and identify the social circles they ooze through. His was unusually enlightening. On one of his prior positions:

    Anvil Strategies works to make sure that nonprofits and candidates have the best strategies to achieve their goals – whether they want to build their membership, win an election, maximize their social network, create lasting relationships with policymakers or just beat the bad guys. We are committed to smart, nimble work and data driven tactics. In addition to our strategy, advocacy and communication work, Anvil Strategies specializes in direct mail. We help candidates and campaigns move voters through creative, innovative, data driven pieces. Our mail helps organizations, causes and campaigns move people to action to impact policy and politics. We don’t do boilerplate. We work with candidates we believe in to execute high-impact integrated communication campaigns crafted for specific candidates, communities and political environments. We were honored to have our work recognized with a gold Pollie for toughest piece of direct mail in 2013, a silver Pollie for toughest piece of direct mail in 2014, and a Campaigns and Elections Reed Award for Best Independent Expenditure in a Statewide Campaign in 2014.

    I don’t even know where to begin untangling that word salad. Apparently they’re “smart” and exhibit a swagger with their direct mail pieces aka “toughness”. What does toughness even mean in this context? Tough to get delivered because the USPS is fuxated? Tough as in their messaging?

    He has the luxury of being barefoot, as the PMC pays people a pittance to step in shit on their behalf.

    1. RockHard

      Ever notice how every one of these people who say crap like “nobody wants to work” never actually work in one of these jobs teaching or tending bar or waiting tables or whatever it is that’s inconveniencing them. My policy now is to tell people to go get one of those jobs if they’re so concerned about it, otherwise STFU.

  8. marym

    Bernie Sanders recently hosted a panel discussion on The Lessons of Reconstruction, with Eric Foner, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, and Cornell West. It’s currently on the home page of his website, and also on youtube. It’s about an hour. After a 2 minute or so intro by Sanders, the three participants each speak for about 10 minutes, and then there’s a discussion session.

    Foner provides an overview of Reconstruction history, its achievements, the legacy of its dismantling, and parallels in our time. Taylor speaks to working class issues of the Reconstruction era, and makes a useful distinction between white supremacy as a political tool and racism. West is on fire for resilience and resistance.


  9. JB

    Have NC done a ‘preparing for Covid’ article or link to such?

    Omicron is making it look like we’re all about to get Covid pretty soon, so I want to prepare for the possibility as much as I can. Already have a CO2 meter, bought a cheap blood oxygen monitor recently, take Vitamin D, and looking at stocking up some antigen tests when they become available again.

    Even just basic stuff like medicines and types of food to have around, how to minimize the likelihood of spreading Covid to others in the household (while still being able to stay warm in winter – e.g. windows open is tricky), and basically anything/everything like that.

    NC has done great at linking this kind of stuff before, and at keeping on top of precautions for minimizing the chances of getting Covid – but don’t think I’ve seen a single piece which puts all together in once place, stuff for preparing for getting Covid itself.

    I guess a refresher on precautions wouldn’t be a bad idea either, since people are pretty fatigued and could do with reminders by now.

    1. lambert strether

      Normally I’d chastise you for assigning work, but that’s really not a bad idea.

      To your list I would add:

      * Povidone

      * Corsi box

      * Badger frame

      * Drug that cannot be named

      Not sure we’ve ever posted on what to do if you catch it (besides not spreading it).

      Perhaps some members of the brain trust can help

      1. marku52

        There is some evidence that thermal stress may rev up the immune system. Syphilis was first successfully treated with heat baths.


        Take really hot showers, then turn the water cold. Like a Finnish sauna.
        I would not take antipyretics (Acetominphin) unless the fever gets dangerous. Fever is the body’s way of making the virus feel not at home.

      2. R

        I would add a humidifier with that povidone.

        Aerial iodine disinfection was used successfully in the mid 20th c. Flu pandemics (I have provided the Cambridge University Press / MRC link before, if you google it).

        Running a humidifier with iodinated water does two useful things:
        – it increases indoor humidity, which drops in winter (cold air outside carries less moisture; heating drives out more moisture when it gets indoors) which keeps your mucosa moist and promotes mucosal immunity
        – it disinfects the air and provides a constant background application of iodine to your respiratory surfaces.

        You don’t need a strong solution. It can be much more dilute than a gargle because your exposure time is going to be much longer…. I calculated about ten drops of lugols 15% solution (I2 in aqueous KI) for 1.5litre humidifier reservoir. You can just smell a whiff of iodine like a (proper!) hospital or, more romantically, the seashore.

        We did this when visitors came round. Now #2 son us at home with the lurgy, we are doing it in the room he and his brother hangout in playing Minecraft, to sterilise their air before we share it. We have the windows open in the rest of the house but my wife felt they should be kept warm and disinfected and we could freeze in fresh air. (I was all for the reverse arrangement, given they spent all day with windows open and thermostat reading 14degC and did not notice, they were so absorbed in Minecraft!)

        UK temperatures just dropped from 18degC at 8pm on NYE, which was warm enough to spend outside all night under a canopy, to 3degC. So finding a way to reduce cross ventilation to a minimum is important!

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Aerial iodine disinfection was used successfully in the mid 20th c. Flu pandemics (I have provided the Cambridge University Press / MRC link before, if you google it).

          I am failing to find this. It sounds like a good idea. Could you provide the link once more? (We cannot search our comments database internally, and so I cannot find your earlier comment.)

      3. R

        Oh, two more additions:

        – oxygen concentrator. These use differential absorption by zeolite chambers to concentrate the oxygen fraction of air. You can set it to 9l/min at 30% or 3l at 70%, some can do 90%. I looked at buying one from official medical oxygen kit suppliers and they cost £2k minimum. You can find no-recognition brand Chinese ones for £300 on Amazon. I cannot afford £2k but £300 was worth a punt in case we need oxygen and so does everybody else at the same time. Reviews seem to be from real people buying fir family with COPD. Not as portable, powerful as Philips etc but much cheaper. Probably lacks certification for FAA etc. But fine for home use. I have not tested it, or even unboxed it – hoping to sell it when it is all over….

        – masks! Stock up on FFP3 / N99 respirators with the proper conformable metal nose bridge etc. No need for more than one person to get corona in the house! And, if you are at home, you could get full face elastomeric respirator for a durable, unbeatable solution.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > oxygen concentrator… You can find no-recognition brand Chinese ones for £300 on Amazon.

          Interesting idea, but I dunno. Good manufacturing, QA and absence of fraud not so good.

      4. JB

        Sorry I could have worded that more carefully, wanted to pass on an idea that could help NC and commentariat – not create work!

        Thanks! Ordered a Levoit H133 purifier at a good price, after looking up Corsi box. Also found this, which is handy:

        Can’t find Povidone anywhere here in Ireland (not even for DIY diluting it). Only suspect purchases that are also expensive. The news reporting while searching up Povidone is abysmal.

        Haven’t figured out how to use my badger frame well, with a N95 + cloth mask – must give that a closer look!

        1. R

          Hi JB,

          Povidone iodine gargle does not seem to be available in Europe except at ludicrous Amazon import prices.

          I have been using Lugol’s solution which is widely available in Europe. This is the forerunner to povidone. It is molecular iodine dissolved in aqueous potassium iodide whereas povidone iodine is molecular iodine dissolved in a soluble macromolecule. Povidone is less irritant and easier to use clinically than Lugols. However, for the purposes of making a gargle or humidifying, either is fine as you only want a few drops in several ml (gargle) or litres (humidifier).

          Also, JB, if you don’t want to make a DIY badger seal and you don’t want to purchase FFP3 respirators at £5 each (but you can reuse them until they become unhygienic!), you can get a very good soft fit FFP2 mask from Cambridge Mask company. The mask has toggles to pull the seal tight around chin, a nose bridge piece and optional foam to seal across cheekbones and a headstrap to pull it tight to the face (and spare your ears!). It gas the added benefit that the head strap toggle stands up on my head and gives me a samurai topknot. :-)


          Lambert, the aerial iodine disinfection paper is here. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection/article/iodine-as-an-aerial-disinfectant/96F9E914CACCE3A469AC16145ADE1539

          1. JB

            Thanks for all of the excellent suggestions, R! (had not individually replied to everyone – did spend a bit of time researching those oxygen concentrators and such)

            Will try to give that Lugol’s solution a look – povidone is indeed a ridiculously overpriced import in Europe – and check those masks.

      5. clarky90

        COVID-19 early treatment: real-time analysis of 1,266 studies


        For instance, Nigella Sativa (aka; Black Seed, Kalongi Seed, Black Cumen) online or at the spice section of your local India Mart! And it is delicious…..

        Fighting covid, one meal at a time.

        Also, I bought a hayfever nose spray, active ingredient, “Budesonide”, over the counter at our supermarket.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          That’s a not uninteresting site, but I sure like to have some vague notion of who wrote what I’m reading. Further, there are plenty of bad actors who are adept at presenting information authoritatively, so that the site doesn’t have the look or style of cray cray doesn’t matter. The FAQ is not helpful. How did you vet them?

          1. clarky90

            Hi Lambert
            Forgive me, I didn’t vet them. I just like that they aggregate information, and seem to have a Big Tent POV. ie everything from aspirin ($1) to Remdesivir ($3,120). The aspirin is ranked as slightly more effective! That made me laugh.

            Re; Nigella Sativa
            Black Seed (aka Nigella Sativa) Is Considered a Universal Remedy.

            The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) said in his divine wisdom, about the Black seed “Use this Black seed, it has a cure for every disease except death”.

      1. rowlf

        A recent family conversation, me, a talking dog, and my sister:
        Me: “I made vitamin and supplement kits for my wife and kids because people around us are getting sick.”
        Sis: “You are not a doctor.”
        Me: “Your company has a be-vaccinated-to-stay-employed policy and has problems with employees testing positive.”

        With reasonable precautions why not use vitamins and supplements (and NPIs) to hedge your bets? I am on my third week working from home due to covid outbreaks in 100% vaccinated departments at my company, and appreciate management trying to have us work safely.

        (As a cherry-on-top irony, I did a computer learning module on safety practices today that went over the swiss cheese layered safety practices culture.)

    2. super extra

      Omicron has already hit my family – none of us had a positive PCR but the person in the chain of contact did and we all had the same symptoms (like a horrible head cold that starts with a sore throat, lots of mucus in upper respiratory tract for ~10 days). All of us had been boosted within the last 2 months. In my case there was an additional two weeks of psychological/neurological -type effects (tinnitis, headaches, light sensitivity, inability to concentrate). I slept as much as possible and took a lot of hot baths, but near the end I found betadine throat gargle at a local drugstore (not online – it is sold out everywhere online). I started using it at night before i went to sleep and the remaining upper respiratory symptoms finally went away after only a couple of days. I also got a xylitol nasal spray on the idea that it might help make the URT less habitable to the virus but I’m not sure it is as helpful as the povidone gargle.

      1. jed1571

        I know it’s late, but you can add the betadine to the xylitol if you want to get a bit more protection in the URT.

  10. marku52

    “Cathode Valves” not “Values”. What on earth are they talking about here? Has the UN really not updated their categories from vacuum tubes to ICs?

    (All vacuum tubes have a cathode, early vacuum tubes were called “valves”)

    1. lordkoos

      Yes I had to laugh at that. I use tubes/valves in my guitar amps, and other than guitar players and a few audiophile types no one cares about valves/tubes anymore… I’m shocked they are even on that list.

      1. Late Introvert

        Tubes are huge in the audio recording and mixing and mastering industry, way more so today then compared to 1990-2010. 2nd and 3rd order harmonics sound very good, and other crunchy things. Young people who make and care about music have rediscovered analog, thankfully.

        But yes, still pretty niche. UN is staffed by a-holes, so no surprise there.

        Per site rules, here’s a link: https://tapeop.com

      2. BillS

        High power radio transmitters still commonly use tubes. Your microwave oven has one in it as well. ;-)

  11. C.O.

    Looking at the latest covid case graphs, I can’t help but think that somebody has been taking “flatten the curve” in absolutely the wrong way. In BC, the public health officer has taken to telling businesses they need to have business continuity planning in place, including an assumption that a third of staff may be off sick. If businesses haven’t already been doing this who can after two years, well I don’t know. Still trying to claim that “vax, vax, vax” is the answer and downplaying that covid spreads via aerosols.

    1. C.O.

      I just finished listening to the latest press conference/pandemic update. 80% of new cases in BC are the omicron variant now. The public health officer’s speech and responses to questions came across as giving up. They are determined in the provincial government not to have any closures of schools or businesses anymore, and at one point the provincial health officer I think accidentally told the truth. She said she wanted to quit sending out public health orders – I get that in practical terms she means quit having to use the most powerful tools available to her as public health officer, and that she is exhausted, so sounded more impatient than is typical. But it came very close to her comment that there will be more waves over the next few years. She even repeated a version of Fauci’s in hospital because of covid or with covid mendaciousness.

      The recorded video for this update can be viewed on youtube at:
      The question period in the last half hour includes the most interesting discussion.

      In other words, as wiser commenters than I have already observed, we’re on our own.

      1. Michael King

        Thank you. Writing from Vancouver. You nailed it.

        BC has an NDP government, left of centre, historically progressive in all jurisdictions that it has achieved power. Their pandemic response is becoming a big fail and is disgraceful. Dr. Bonnie Henry is the public health officer and should resign. She won’t even advocate for N95 masks to be used by the general public but warns that most of us in BC will be infected. You’re right C.O., she has given up. Sad, and very dangerous for the population.

  12. marym

    > “Democrats, Voting Rights Are Not the Problem [Yuval Levin, [American Enterprise Institute]New York Times]. “

    Apparently* fixing the Electoral Count law is the fake compromise du jour on the right.

    From Sherrilyn Ifill President & Director-Counsel of LDF (NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund)
    “So I have some thoughts about the op-ed by a senior leader at the conservative American Enterprise Institute that is making the rounds in D.C. today. Because although it may be a transparent play, it needs to be called out.”

    Lengthy thread: https://twitter.com/Sifill_LDF/status/1478189086666104837

    * “In recent weeks, Cato, National Review, the Washington Examiner and AEI’s Yuval Levin have all editorialized in favor of reforming the Electoral Count Act. Liberals and academics have been on board for a while.” https://www.politico.com/playbook
    (I think what’s at this url changes. Today it contains the above quote with links. “Liberal” links to New Republic and “academics” to WaPo)

  13. ChrisRUEcon


    This brilliant edit (via YouTube) came across my Twitter feed, and I can’t stop laughing. Bernie vs Musk. Enjoy!

    1. ChrisRUEcon


      Ooooh … chilling nod to Wellstone. Something had me looking him up the other day; maybe something posted here? I came across his memorial in MN – saddening.

      I’ve also been thinking about Bernie along the lines of the [UPDATE], as in how he fell short because he was “safe”. In retrospect, Bernie didn’t go as anti-establishment as Trump. Yeah, at his peak, he really did make a billionaire cry on TV, but he also called Biden his “friend”. Safe Bernie equals mensch Bernie equals pragmatic Bernie – a guy who despite coming somewhat close to upending the cart, always seemed to be hedging on the side of “I’ll probably lose, and I am going to have to work with all these schmucks later, so I need to keep it nice”. Trump didn’t have that. He was a pure outsider, and did not give a s***. He called Cruz’ wife ugly, insulted Jeb’s lack of charisma … and he could, because he wasn’t part of the political establishment. His livelihood did not depending on not burning bridges. It’s made me reconsider something I’ve felt about 2016, which is that if it were Trump v Bernie, that Bernie would blow him out. Now I wonder … just a little.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        … which brings me tooooooo … ;-)


        Skunks are indeed wonderful … but they have done nothing to deserve being dragged into the cesspool that is US politics … :) even as a room-clearing mascot. With apologies for not seeing those posts eight years ago, I love the idea … and yes, per my late-night hyperactive musings, I’ve been giving thought to this too.

        I’ve been mulling the idea of calling a 3rd party movement “Neither”. Why Neither? Some thoughts:

        Simple – one word, two syllables; bears with it some measure intent and speaks indirectly to the duopoly.

        Powerful as a subliminal – as in, perceived by or affecting someone’s mind without their being aware of it. Think of a Neither candidate giving a stump speech, and how many times the word “neither” can be used – each time reinforcing the narrative and the party/movement/candidate as one.

        Branding – as the kids would say,: the merch’ is gonna be lit … a single seven letter word on your favorite tee, sweater or hoodie. Small stickers for you laptop? Check! Big ones for your skateboard? Check! I was thinking you could even make the letters alternate Democrat Blue and GOP Red to further emphasize anti-duopoly sentiment.

        The “But, but …”

        … what of the DSA, The Greens and other Independents? Won’t using “Neither” appear to slight them?
        Well, as Yves wrote in her February 17, 2014 post “Skunk Party and the Barriers to Entry to Effecting Social/Political Change”: Even though we used the label “party,” the intent was to define a political position that would operate outside the formal party structure – which is perfect for the Neither exercise as well. Come one, come all so long as goals are aligned outside the duopoly.

        And what of those goals? Well, I would say in the intervening eight years since the original “Skunk Party Manifesto” post (November 21, 2013), things have gotten worse. Not that a Neither manifesto would be a complete teardown and rebuild from the Skunk’s, but I feel like it should really be more granular in terms of differentiating Neither policies from the policies of both sides of the duopoly. I mean, the pandemic has given us a feature comparison matrix that would make a Microsoft software sales rep blush!

        To my previous post about Bernie and Trump, I really feel like a Neither candidate should be ready, willing and able to talk brash; to talk like Bernie could not; to show no deference to the two clown cars in the ring. I was dreaming up debate scenarios – with three participants, like the 1992 election when Ross Perot ran. Perot was brash, but he was not Trump brash, and it was also the age of Bubba. Imagine a sequence where a Neither candidate is at a presidential debate and the question of pandemic response comes up … LOL

        Neither party used the full power of the Defense Production Act to secure the requisite amount of ventilators, masks, testing and contact tracing!”

        Neither party thought it would be a good idea to have quarantine for arriving international travelers even though this had proven to be effective in countries like China and New Zealand!”

        On and on and on and on … a veritable litany of “kill two birds with one stone” indictments! The negative connotation of the word “neither” applied constantly to both parties will have their consultants in a focus-group-testing frenzy! Hahahaha!

        OK, I’ll stop here … feel free to call me crazy. But truly amazed that something like this was discussed here eight years ago. Bonus points and admiration, Yves, for getting the domain name and the Twitter handle!!! No easy feat I can tell you! Sadly neither.[com|org|net] are all taken; theneithers.com is not though! “The Neithers”, however, sounds to me like it should be an indie rock band – I’m especially imagining a bunch of young women who look like throwbacks to Jett and Benatar… LOL … but hey, just in case! The @neither Twitter is suspended … of course!

        If any crazy people want to indulge me further … I’m all ears. :)

        1. ChrisRUEcon

          ok, ok, ok, ok … one. more. thing.

          Think of every radio/television Neither political ad ending with this:

          “You don’t have to vote Republican or Democrat. You can vote for Neither.”


        2. CoryP

          Wouldn’t Neither split into (at least) two factions based on how people pronounce the first syllable?

          Might have to call the whole thing off.

          1. ChrisRUEcon

            OMG Cory … this could be the second coming of “GIF – hard or soft g?!” … ;-)

            You made me realize that I am not really aware of regional pronunciation differences for the word “neither” in the US … but after a quick internet search, seems like nee’ is preferred to nye’ in the first syllable by 75% to 25%. Can’t find a map to break it down by geography yet, but I’m curious which way people in the commentariat say it! I’m a nee’er of late!

        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          I may be humor-defficient, but it seems to me that a wannabe-serious party-movement needs a serious name to be taken seriously.

          Something like Lower Class Majority Party or . . . New Deal Revival Party or . . . Newer Deal Party . . . . or something.

          1. ChrisRUEcon

            > I may be humor-defficient

            ;-) … I’m inclined to conclude this is true … the zeitgeist – defined as “the spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time” – is real. Do you, for example, consider that “Tea Party” or “Whigs” are serious names? The Pirate Party in Iceland won a not-trivial 15% (rounded up) of the vote in 2016. Not only that, but Iceland’s president turned to then Pirate Party leader, Birgitta Jonsdottir, to form a government (via BBC). And finally, let’s not forget that this entire comment thread began as a follow up to #NC posts about The Skunk Party, which was the brain child of none other than our esteemed founder, Yves.

            I know, times are hard and circumstances unreal. We are all experiencing hitherto unknown levels of anger, exhaustion, fear and even depression. The challenge, as difficult as it is, is to not let that rob us entirely of moments of levity, even in the pursuit of real change.

            Cheers, and have a nice day.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > It’s made me reconsider something I’ve felt about 2016, which is that if it were Trump v Bernie, that Bernie would blow him out. Now I wonder … just a little.

        If we had ever gotten to that point, say by Clinton coming up lame and Obama not having hedge candidates to wire up or the time to do so…. Speculating very freely: The usual suspects would have figured they could cripple Sanders after Inauguration Day, and so would have given him a clean shot during the election (after installing, say, Terry McAuliffe as VP at the “Unity” convention). Then a RussiaGate-equivalent would have emerged, crippling Sanders. Or they would have attacked his wife over Burlington College. Or both. Probably the most optimistic scenario….

  14. Tom Stone

    Ida Bae Wells is a Hysterian, not a Historian.
    It’s easy to confuse the two as they are nearly Homonyms.

  15. petal

    Ship of Fools from The Dead. Seems appropriate today. sigh.
    (My apologies, Dead dislikers)
    The group member that flew back from TX middle of last week came in today with “a cold”, wearing a surgical mask (I had given them a bunch of N95s before break), and said surgical mask was continually slipping beneath this person’s nose. And employer sent out a notice this afternoon that they are going to follow the new CDC guidelines about the 5 days and only needing a negative rapid antigen test to get out. We have easily accessible, and free, PCR testing here, with sample drop boxes all over.
    Take care, friends.

    1. Jen

      What I can’t get over is the determination to give a group of 18-22 year olds an “on campus experience” that for some could lead to a lifetime of disability. It’s sociopathic. And even the members of senior leadership who object won’t take a stand. These people are old, have a metric familyblog ton of money, and could walk away rather than tolerate this crap, but they won’t.

  16. lyman alpha blob

    RE: “It could have been so much worse: America got lucky on Jan 6”

    Oh FFS. The stupid is strong in that article. “They could have destroyed the electoral vote envelopes”! The horror, the horror….

    I mean, would stealing the envelopes steal have caused all the electors to have immediate amnesia so there could be no do over??! Would supply chain issues have made it impossible to find new envelopes, without which the vote is invalidated and the previous president gets to stay?!?

    And the hand wringing about the potentially worse violence that never actually happened. It also didn’t happen at the many other protests against various matters throughout US history. But it could have!

    I’ve read a lot of stupid in the last year about this ridiculous event, but not once has anyone ever explained the precise mechanism by which Trump would have retained power. Not once, not ever. Because without the backing of some powerful faction, you don’t get a coup, and Trump most definitely did not have that. Was Ivanka going to storm in and smack Pelosi with a Gucci purse and the entire country would just surrender?!? And I may have missed it, but I’m pretty sure there’s nothing in the Constitution that says stealing a podium and then taking a selfie lets you pick whomever you want for president. FFS, someone please make them stop before this nonsense becomes some annual commemoration.

    1. marym

      The rioters didn’t have a mechanism. As the self-proclaimed Real Americans, the only ones whose votes should be counted, they went to the Capitol to have a tantrum (some may have had fantasies or even plans for some violence), their voices would be heard, and ta-da! Trump would continue to be president even though he lost the election.

      Among the elite, previous mechanisms (court cases, recounts, pressure on election officials) having failed, mechanisms at that point seem to have involved things like Pence not accepting the electoral votes, members of Congress voting against accepting them, throwing the decision to the House, even some proposal of declaring a national emergency. Who can say whether that would have resulted in anything but chaos, but they seem to have been taking themselves fairly seriously.

      As far as the “envelopes” there are multiple copies of the electoral votes, and they’re also posted on the website of the National Archives. On that front Our Democracy™ was not at risk.


      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Among the elite, previous mechanisms (court cases, recounts, pressure on election officials) having failed, mechanisms at that point seem to have involved things like Pence not accepting the electoral votes, members of Congress voting against accepting them, throwing the decision to the House, even some proposal of declaring a national emergency. Who can say whether that would have resulted in anything but chaos, but they seem to have been taking themselves fairly seriously.

        So, cosplay at the elite level? I’m not unmindful of whatever the heck was going on at the Willard Hotel, but if you want to see a real coup, see Mike Duncan’s Revolution podcast on the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks — and I’m not saying that the coup was anything but chaotic and dicey — took the trouble to organize the Tsarist army’s machine gun battalion in Petrograd. Nothing remotely like that going on at the Willard Hotel.

        1. marym

          Cosplay, delusion, grift, entitlement… Probably some combination. It wasn’t a plan, by the rioters or the elites, to “take over the government.” They wanted Trump to continue to be president. Everything else remains the same. The rioters weren’t planning to stay in DC. Among the elites, people in government at the WH and in Congress expected to keep their jobs, people at the Willard to keep on grifting, right wing media to keep on with their version of propaganda.

  17. The Rev Kev

    ‘the rhetoric coming from people like Joe Biden and Rochelle Walensky was very much about this individual responsibility thing.’

    There is a reason for that sentiment. The message is that the Feds will provide the vaccines but for the rest, you’re on your own. If you get sick, it is all on you and you have to deal with the consequences yourself. They owe you nuthin’ and the concept of public health is just some quaint idea from the 1950s. Those skyrocketing numbers that you see on those charts at the top are a consequence of this attitude.

    1. Late Introvert

      Almost in direct proportion to the chances of the DemRats keeping the House in 2022 or Kamala getting any votes ever (from any other than the brainwashed, that is.)

  18. Stanley Dundee

    Re: “The Left’s Middle-Class Problem” [Class Unity]. This is a valuable contribution to enquiry on class in the USA, while also supplying a critique of DSA as currently constituted. Well worth reading if those are topics of interest for you. I particularly value the notion of an iron triangle of media, academia, and NGOs [emphasis in original]:

    The purported distinction between fake liberal identity politics and authentic socialist intersectionality is a fiction, but it is a fiction that persists because it is rooted in a specific political-economic formation. The US left’s population is not only skewed significantly to the middle class, its leadership stratum is skewed to a specific subset ofthe middle class. The actually existing US left, particularly in major cities, is almost exclusively based in the educated liberal middle classes, and is completely interpenetrated at the leadership level by the Iron Triangle of academia, media, and NGOs. It therefore not only lacks an independent political base capable of upholding genuinely socialist politics, but is in fact subordinated to capital via these institutions.

    Useful structural analysis, mostly avoids painful jargon. Compare to tinkzorg and Scipio Sattler. Excellent links, also.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The actually existing US left, particularly in major cities, is almost exclusively based in the educated liberal middle classes, and is completely interpenetrated at the leadership level by the Iron Triangle of academia, media, and NGOs. It therefore not only lacks an independent political base capable of upholding genuinely socialist politics, but is in fact subordinated to capital via these institutions.

      On the nose! Directly applicable to issues with the Sanders campaign, too. Half the staff were careerists, and when push came to shove, they wanted to move on.

  19. Jason Boxman

    In hospitals around the country, doctors are taking notice: This wave of Covid seems different from the last one.

    Once again, as they face the highly contagious Omicron variant, medical personnel are exhausted and are contracting the virus themselves. And the numbers of patients entering hospitals with the variant are surging to staggering levels, filling up badly needed beds, delaying nonemergency procedures and increasing the risk that vulnerable uninfected patients will catch the virus.

    … isn’t that still bad? I guess not anymore. The leadership of this country is completely broken.

    But in Omicron hot spots from New York to Florida to Texas, a smaller proportion of those patients are landing in intensive care units or requiring mechanical ventilation, doctors said. And many — roughly 50 to 65 percent of admissions in some New York hospitals — show up at the hospital for other ailments and then test positive for the virus.

    I guess that’s okay, then. Hospitals are, after all, an unlimited renewal resource. Like hot air from politicians.


  20. Cocomaan

    I’ve been watching lamberts charts on Covid for months.

    The ride to the stratosphere now just almost makes the ticker tape from last year nonsensical.

    i ask myself, what is next? What’s a year from now look like?

  21. Ed S.

    RE: Snow Closed the Highways. GPS Mapped a Harrowing Detour in the Sierra Nevada is better read as general obliviousness to danger as much as to GPS problems.

    “Wendy Becktold, an editor from the Bay Area who was on her way to visit an ailing relative in Reno, Nevada, on Monday, said she had been unaware of that (ed – she was on a dirt/forest road) when she navigated her rented Toyota Corolla while the region was still grappling with a record-setting snowstorm.”

    Let’s put this into perspective: The Sierra Nevada around Lake Tahoe had a multi-day storm (about 8 days) that was dumping anywhere from 5 to 15 inches of snow a day. The two primary east/west roads, Interstate 80 (that passes near North Lake Tahoe) and US Route 50 (that passes directly though South Lake Tahoe) were both closed for over 60 miles due to weather. But Wendy, in a rented Toyota Corolla relies on an app to navigate her to Reno – ignoring the fact that both the main ways to Reno are shut down.

    And I live in the general vicinity of Tahoe on a road that turns into a forest road – we had one GPS pilot who decided to head for home on Christmas night (notwithstanding the fact that ALL of the main roads were closed due to snow with at least 15 inches down) and ended up stuck for 12 hours until the neighbor got home from work and yanked them free with a backhoe.

    It’s not the apps, it’s the utter lack of common sense. Maybe that’s the next “killer app”.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It’s not the apps, it’s the utter lack of common sense.

      Or something about dependency on apps damages the common sense center of the brain. And it’s not like there aren’t incentives to do that. I remember that Silicon Valley parents don’t let their kids use tablets. I wonder if they let their kids use Google Maps?

  22. lordkoos

    A friend in NYC sent me this rant after trying to get a COVID test for his son. (The whole family, my pal, his wife and their two 15 yo twins tested positive Xmas week after attending a small get together).

    “My son wanted to be tested again so he could go to school tom’w. We didn’t want to stand in the cold again so went to a clinic nearby where we were tested
    before – their website says “walk-ins accepted until 5pm”. we arrive at
    4:05 and woman with attitude tells us that nobody accepted after 4pm. I
    got pretty angry

    so we go back to the testing truck arriving at 4:15. line is smaller than
    yesterday so we figured shouldn’t be too long. after awhile, attendant
    tells us that it will be slower because a lot of people are not using the
    phone app to register and have to be written in by hand. still, she cuts
    the line off a few people after us but we’re in the cut. so now it’s
    630pm and it’s f*cking freezing and windy, there are 10 of us in line and
    she tells us that they won’t take any of us. jezzusf*ckingkrisp!

    still no at-home tests to be found anywhere in the city though you can buy them on Amazon for $25 a pop”


    What a country.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > she tells us that they won’t take any of us

      And I bet they enjoyed it. There was a word for this sort of famously nastly petty gatekeeper in the last days of the collapsing USSR, but I can’t bring it to mind.

  23. Joe Well

    Re: Mask mandates in schools:

    The kids all take their masks off at lunch in a cafeteria elbow to elbow eating and talking and joking around with teachers having to stand there supervising.

    With the transmissibility of Omicron, that makes the classroom mask mandates a pointless joke.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The kids all take their masks off at lunch in a cafeteria

      Administrators… Why do we even try?

      Could we at least organize scheduling and space to minimize interaction? And ventilation…

      Can any readers comment on schools that are not [Charlie Foxtrots]?????

      1. Pat

        No. But even with NYC’s new standards and the demand from above that they not close schools staffing shortages mean there will be schools where they will be combining multiple classes for the entire day. In some cases that will be the largest rooms possible and movies. Sure they will be masked, some perhaps for the entire time, but not all.

        Hygiene theater meets schools are open theater.

  24. VietnamVet

    Since the silent neoliberal overthrow last century, there is a profound attempt to avoid reality while dismantling nation states and the rich getting richer.

    Humans evolved in tribes. Humans live and breathe in society. If there are no laws or police and militia to protect borders; there are gangs and if there is money, there are cartels. Always there are others trying to steal or scam your resources. If there is civilization there are states. The only alternative to an agricultural based civilization based on fair rules and regulations is going back to being hunter gatherers but in a polluted, extinction ridden, earth that is impossible.

    There is no real alternative other than humans learning to get along with each other on one earth.

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