2:00PM Water Cooler 1/7/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Racy stuff!

* * *


“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

“The Histrionics and Melodrama Around 1/6 Are Laughable, but They Serve Several Key Purposes” [Glenn Greenwald]. A fun read. One nugget: “The Huffington Post’s senior politics reporter Igor Bobic unironically expressed gratitude for ‘the four legged emotional support professionals roaming the Capitol this week, helping officers, staffers, and reporters alike’ — meaning therapy dogs.” • Oh come on [throws tablet across the room in exasperated disgust].

“The Jan. 6 Insurrectionists Aren’t Who You Think They Are” [Foreign Policy]. “Our new analysis at the University of Chicago Project on Security and Threats of the demographics of those who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 and multiple nationally representative surveys paint a new, startling reality: The insurrectionist movement is mainstream, not simply confined to the political fringe. Consider the economic profile of the 716 people arrested or charged, as of Jan. 1, 2022, for storming the Capitol. Of the 501 for which we have employment data, more than half are business owners, including CEOs, or from white-collar occupations, including doctors, lawyers, architects, and accountants. Only 7 percent were unemployed at the time, almost the national average, compared with the usual 25 percent or more of violent right-wing perpetrators arrested by the FBI and other U.S. law enforcement from 2015 to mid-2020.” • I came pretty close on January 18, 2021, when I tabulated the data then available: “The conclusion we can draw from Table 3… Well, I gotta say, the top three occupations being ‘owner,’ ‘cop,’ and ‘real estate broker’ screams ‘petite bourgeoisie‘ to me. Granted, the owners are mostly owners of small firms, like florists or fishing charter operators, but firms they are. (The cops are not the Capitol hill cops, but cops who came from elsewhere.) It’s also extremely suggestive that there are no credentialed members of the PMC present at all; only one lawyer, no accountants, no psychiatrists; the closest we come is an occupational therapist. There are also no labor aristocrats, save one union VP. The working class rioters are flexible in their arrangements; no Amazon workers, but a contractor, a programmer, an arborist/chimney sweeper, etc. This flexibility shades over into the lumpenproletariat: ‘Supplier’ is my polite coinage for dealer.” • Petite bourgeoisie, yes, but from the Foreign Policy article, it looks like I was wrong on “credentialed members of the PMC” not being present; I would speculate they are just harder to arrest and possibly lawyered up, and so hadn’t shown up in the records yet. I will have to dig deeper into the University of Chicago data.

“The Capitol riot’s roots in the New Left” [The Week]. “The respectable backgrounds of many of the rioters didn’t look much like the ‘peasant army’ that populist commentator Patrick Buchanan threatened to lead against the political establishment in the 1990s. Nor were their anarchic tactics reminiscent of the highly organized ‘suburban warriors‘ who flocked to Reagan. More than the public faces of the postwar American right, the theatrical flair, indifference to law and constituted authority, and threat of serious violence on display last Jan. 6 resemble the New Left of the 1960s and 1970s. The defiant, moralistic, revolutionary spirit that animated the Yippies, Weathermen, and Black Panthers hasn’t disappeared — but it now lives on the right, too.” • If so, the powers-that-be have nothing whatever to worry about.

“Jan. 6’s Wounds in Congress Run Deep, Trump Keeps Them Fresh” [Bloomberg]. “Cheney and her father, who served in three Republican presidential administrations, were greeted warmly by some Democrats in the chamber despite sharp disagreements over policy in the past. The former vice president, who once represented Wyoming in the House as his daughter does now, criticized current Republican leaders for not being present. ‘It’s not a leadership that resembles any of the folks I knew when I was here for 10 years,’ he said.” • Any “wound” that causes you to fraternize with a ghoul like Dick Cheney… Well, that’s some wound.

“How 1/6 changed Congress” [Politico]. “‘A CLOUD OF SADNESS’ — In the year since the Jan. 6 insurrection, the far-right ecosystem has seen a massive expansion. More than 150 people have pleaded guilty to storming the Capitol. Scores of protesters from that day are now running for office. Congressional staffers worry about their personal safety. The Cheney family has become a hero to Democrats. [Politico] spoke with Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), a former CIA officer, during the Capitol riot last year….” • The last person I want to hear from is a CIA Democrat. But the rest of the lead is acute; the knock-on effects of the event are more important than the event itself. An insurrectionist running for office. The idea!

“The insurrection is only the tip of the iceberg” [Sidney Blumenthal, Guardian]. The deck: “Behind the insurrection of 6 January was a coup plot that was months in the making, and which involved a dastardly cast of characters.” This is, at least, a coherent narrative. But I think it gets the character putatively at the center — Trump — all wrong. One personal characteristic I think everyone would agree Trump has: He’s expert at sniffing out weakness. Yet at every point in the “plot” Blumenthal outlines, Trump would have had to depend on people over whom he had no leverage; people whose weaknesses he had not sniffed out. In particular, Mike Pence: As we know, Pence never dines with a woman not his wife. Not so cray cray now, given what we know of elites! But the most obvious of elite weaknesses — Hi, Andy Cuomo [waves] — was not present for Pence, because Pence took good care that it not be present. If indictments for any of all this are brought down, I’ll be very happy to study then, but until then…. Yarn diagrams.

Biden Administration

“Biden vaccine policies face Supreme Court test amid nationwide COVID-19 surge” [SCOTUSblog]. “With over 100,000 Americans hospitalized for COVID-19 as a result of the highly contagious Omicron variant, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument Friday in two sets of challenges to the Biden administration’s authority to take action to combat the pandemic. In the first case, National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, the justices will consider the Biden administration’s attempt to impose a vaccine-or-test mandate for workers at large employers. In the second case, Biden v. Missouri, they will consider a vaccine mandate for health care workers at facilities that receive federal funding.” • Being live-blogged by Jonathon Turley:

“Infection control,” but whatever.


“Oregon elections officials say Nick Kristof does not qualify to run for governor” [Oregon Public Broadcasting]. That’s a damn shame. “In an announcement Thursday, Secretary of State Shemia Fagan announced that her office was rejecting Kristof’s bid to run for office, because he does not meet the state’s three-year residency requirement. That decision is likely just the start of a legal fight that will be decided by the courts…. Among her reasons for deciding Kristof did not meet residency requirements, Scroggin cited his decision to vote as a New York resident in 2020 and his possession of a New York driver’s license in 2020. Both factors, she wrote, indicated Kristof ‘viewed New York as the place where you intended to permanently return when you were away.’… [T]here’s no clear legal precedent for what being a resident of Oregon actually means in that context. Kristof, by way of his lawyers, has said what matters most is intent. In their formal response to the state’s questions, his attorneys documented his upbringing in Oregon, his history of spending summers at his family’s Yamhill farm and his recent efforts to rejuvenate that farm. Kristof has said he moved to Oregon full-time in 2019, though he voted in New York state in November 2020. And, he says, even when he split time between Oregon and New York, he considered himself an Oregonian.”

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.

* * *

“DNC staff votes by ‘overwhelming margin’ to unionize” [Politico]. “Former Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) determined, as an independent neutral observer picked by staff and management, that 67 percent of DNC staff had affirmed their desire to join Local 500 of the Service Employees International Union via card count.”

Trump Legacy

“Trump social media app to launch on President’s Day: report [The Hill]. “Former President Trump’s media company, the Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), is set to launch a new social media app on President’s Day, The Guardian reported, citing the release date on an Apple App Store listing. Truth Social is TMTG’s alternative to Twitter, where Trump is permanently suspended. It will offer features similar to Twitter, including trending topics and the ability to follow other users, according to The Guardian. TMTG also plans to launch a subscription service offering entertainment, news and podcast videos on demand called TMTG+ and, as indicated by a November investor meeting, a podcast network.” • We’ll see.

Realignment and Legitimacy

The best unity poll by the best unity organization with the best unity result:

OK, Twitter couldn’t resist. Nevertheless.

“Republicans Are Moving Rapidly to Cement Minority Rule. Blame the Constitution” [Corey Robin, Politico]. “We have one party, in other words, currently out of power in the national government, trying to legislate a future in which it can lose elections but legally acquire or hold on to power. We have a second party, currently in power, doing little to stop the first…. Driving the initiatives of the Republicans and the inertia of the Democrats are two forces. The first is the right’s project, decades in the making, to legally limit the scope and reach of democracy. The second is the Constitution, which makes it difficult for the national majority to act and easy for local minorities to rule. What happened on Jan. 6 is far less significant than what happened before Jan. 6 — and what has and has not happened since then….. Equal representation of the citizenry hasn’t become the enemy of the contemporary Republican Party. It has been the enemy for more than a half-century. Ronald Reagan opposed the 1965 Voting Rights Act from the beginning, explaining later that he believed it was ‘humiliating to the South.’… Democracy is not just the enemy of the Republican Party. It is also the enemy of the Constitution. Americans associate the Constitution with popular liberties such as due process and freedom of speech. They overlook its architecture of state power, which erects formidable barriers to equal representation and majority rule in all three branches of government. The Republicans are not struggling to overturn a long and storied history of democratic rules and norms. They’re walking through an open door…. If there is any solace to be gained from this sorry story, it is that it is a typical American story. We are not facing the importation or imposition of a new mode of rule. We need no labored analogies or showy theories to make sense of it. We are in the same constitutional steeplechase that generations past have had to hurdle across or hurl themselves through. Whether we are at the start, middle, or end of that course is now, as always, an open question.”

“Is a Civil War Ahead?” [David Remnick, The New Yorker]. “[Barbara F. Walter] is careful to say that a twenty-first-century American civil war would bear no resemblance to the consuming and symmetrical conflict that was played out on the battlefields of the eighteen-sixties. Instead she foresees, if the worst comes about, an era of scattered yet persistent acts of violence: bombings, political assassinations, destabilizing acts of asymmetric warfare carried out by extremist groups that have coalesced via social media. These are relatively small, loosely aligned collections of self-aggrandizing warriors who sometimes call themselves ‘accelerationists.’ They have convinced themselves that the only way to hasten the toppling of an irredeemable, non-white, socialist republic is through violence and other extra-political means. Walter makes the case that, as long as the country fails to fortify its democratic institutions, it will endure threats such as the one that opens her book: the attempt, in 2020, by a militia group in Michigan known as the Wolverine Watchmen to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The Watchmen despised Whitmer for having instituted anti-covid measures in the state—restrictions that they saw not as attempts to protect the public health but as intolerable violations of their liberty. Trump’s publicly stated disdain for Whitmer could not have discouraged these maniacs. The F.B.I., fortunately, foiled the Wolverines, but, inevitably, if there are enough such plots—enough shots fired—some will find their target.” • Wowsers. Remnick — but then you knew this — is shameless. Buzzfeed: “[S]ome of those informants, acting under the direction of the FBI, played a far larger role than has previously been reported. Working in secret, they did more than just passively observe and report on the actions of the suspects. Instead, they had a hand in nearly every aspect of the alleged plot, starting with its inception. The extent of their involvement raises questions as to whether there would have even been a conspiracy without them. A longtime government informant from Wisconsin, for example, helped organize a series of meetings around the country where many of the alleged plotters first met one another and the earliest notions of a plan took root, some of those people say. The Wisconsin informant even paid for some hotel rooms and food as an incentive to get people to come. The Iraq War vet, for his part, became so deeply enmeshed in a Michigan militant group that he rose to become its second-in-command, encouraging members to collaborate with other potential suspects and paying for their transportation to meetings. He prodded the alleged mastermind of the kidnapping plot to advance his plan, then baited the trap that led to the arrest.”


I promised I would run the CDC models and excess deaths on Friday. I will put excess deaths near the death chart, but now I’m going to allow myself a little fun. I last ran the CDC model, then “Round 9,” before the holidays. To introduce that version of “Round 9” of the model, I wrote:

One of the sources of the idea that Covid is on the way out, I would speculate, is the CDC’s modeling hub (whose projections also seem to have been used to justify school re-opening). Here is the current version of the chart from the CDC modeling hub, which aggregates the results of eight models in four scenarios… and plots current case data (black dotted line) against the aggregated model predictions (grey area), including the average of the aggregated model predictions (black line). I have helpfully highlighted [in yellow] the case data…”

Here is Round 9 today:

And I commented, before the holidays:

Case data (black dotted line) has been within the tolerance of the models; it does not conform to the models’ average (black line), but it stays within aggregated predictions (the grey area).

I wrote: “It’s too early to say ‘Dammit, CDC, your models were broken’; but it’s not too soon to consider the possibility that they might be. The case data still looks like it’s trying to break out of the grey area. We shall see.” The case data has now broken out of the grey area. Since the models are aggregated conventional wisdom, it’s not fair to call them propaganda, exactly. Nevertheless, conventional wisdom is looking a little shaky, and anybody who relied on them to predict that we would be “back to normal” by early next year should be taking another look at their assumptions. And this is — I assume — before Omicron!

Look at the case data (highlighted in yellow) now. The conventional wisdom as embodied in these models was not merely worthless, it enabled bad policy; people who relied on it killed other people. Hilariously, CDC cancelled “Round 10,” writing “Due to the Omicron variant, Round 10 results are no longer pertinent,” and have now moved on to Round 11. At last, I can say: “Dammit, CDC, your models were broken!” I ran this stupid chart every day for weeks [lambert preens] because I knew this day would come, and now it has. Now I don’t have to run this chart any more.

* * *

Case count by United States regions:

A lessening of the increase. The last time we saw this, it was data, and not the approach of a peak. Note that this increase is small relative to the previous few days, but compared to the chart as a whole, it is still very large. Again, 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.

“Summary of Global SARS-CoV-2 Wastewater Monitoring Efforts by UC Merced Researchers” [COVIDPoops19]. Interactive map:

Sadly, this only gives the locations of the projects. It does not aggregate the data.

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

No data from in California, Arizona, Colorado, Arkansas, and Alabama. Systems are breaking down.

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

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

On “decoupling” cases from hospitalization. In the US, maybe yes, maybe no:

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 855,843 853,612.

Excess deaths:

Hard to believe we have no excess deaths now, but very fortunate if so. (CDC explains there are data lags).

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 Non Farm Payrolls” [Trading Economics]. “The US economy added a meagre 199K jobs in the last month of 2021, well below market forecasts of 400K.” • Oof.

Employment Situation: “United States Unemployment Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The US unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent, the lowest since February 2020, pointing to a sustained recovery in the job market helped by a fast-recovering economy and strong demand for labor. The rate was still slightly above pre-crisis levels amid reports of severe labor shortages, but should decline further in the coming months as companies fill widespread vacancies.”

Consumer Credit: “United States Consumer Credit Change” [Trading Economics]. “Consumer credit in the United States increased by USD 16.897 billion in October of 2021, following a downwardly revised USD 27.8 billion gain in the previous month and below market expectations of a USD 25 billion rise.”

* * *

Big Ag: “Can $1 billion really fix a meat industry dominated by just four companies?” [The Counter]. “The Biden-Harris Administration announced on Monday that it would dedicate $1 billion from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to curb consolidation and boost competition in the livestock industry, which it blames for rising prices at the grocery store. The plan was well received by farm groups and some supporters of stronger antitrust laws, including organizations like the Farm Action and the Open Markets Institute. But it also received pushback from some of the very factions the move was intended to please…. [C]ritics of the plan argue that the White House largely excluded from its announcement a concrete timeline by which it would enforce the robust competition laws that already exist.”

The Bezzle: “Tech Startup Wants To Gamify Suing People Using Crypto Tokens” [Vice]. “A new tech startup plans to become ‘the stock market of litigation financing’ by allowing everyday Americans to bet on civil lawsuits through the purchase (and trade) of associated crypto tokens. In doing so, the company hopes to provide funding to individuals who would otherwise not be able to pursue claims. ‘Ryval’s goal is to make access to justice more affordable,’ said Kyle Roche, a trial lawyer and one of the startup’s founders. ‘What I want to do is make the federal court system more accessible for all.’ Roche believes the U.S. federal court system is one of the best in the world, but that navigating it is cost prohibitive for the average American. As a result, he believes, potential whistleblowers are too often hesitant to defy ‘well-resourced’ corporations and other entities due to the potential cost of legal action. Through Ryval, Roche wants to ‘make lawsuits happen that maybe might not have happened.'” • “Initial Litigation Offerings.”

Tech: “Log4j flaw hunt shows how complicated the software supply chain really is” [ZD Net]. “The challenge with the Log4j flaw (also known as Log4Shell) is not only that admins need to patch the flaw – which got a ‘critical’ rating of 10 out of 10 – but that IT folk can’t easily discover whether a product or system is affected by the vulnerability in the component. Google has calculated that approximately 17,000 Java packages in the Maven Central repository – the most significant Java package repository – were found to contain the vulnerable log4j-core library as a direct or transitive dependency. And now security firm JFrog has found more by identifying additional packages containing the Log4j vulnerability that would not be detected through dependency scanning – that is, packages containing vulnerable Log4j code within the artefact itself.”

Manufacturing: “Lithium batteries’ big unanswered question” [BBC]. “Currently, lithium (Li) ion batteries are those typically used in EVs and the megabatteries used to store energy from renewables, and Li batteries are hard to recycle….. In your average battery recycling plant, battery parts are shredded down into a powder, and then that powder is either melted (pyrometallurgy) or dissolved in acid (hydrometallurgy). But Li batteries are made up of lots of different parts that could explode if they’re not disassembled carefully. And even when Li batteries are broken down this way, the products aren’t easy to reuse…. disassembling Li batteries is currently being done predominantly by hand in lab settings, which will need to change if direct recycling is to compete with more traditional recycling methods.” • Yes, I would say so.

Mr. Market: “Ford vs Ferrari Tesla” [The Big Picture]. “Everybody knows Tesla has been on a tear, becoming of the 10 largest companies by market cap, making Elon Musk the richest man in the world. TSLA’s stock performance was stellar, adding 49.8% in 2021. It’s just a shame how badly TSLA lagged F, which had gains of 137.5% in 2021 — nearly tripling the market performance of the pioneering EV company…. Ford’s narrative is less known but also intriguing: The only US automaker that did not need a bailout in the GFC, whose quality and designs have improved enormously. The company’s Mustang Mach E was a minor EV hit, the Lightning, a new electric version of the Ford 150 pick up (America’s best selling vehicle) has presold 200,000 units. The new Bronco is also a smash success, with an EV version sure to follow…. Ford is currently trading at 1/10th of Tesla’s market cap. Can you imagine any scenarios where a decade from now, they are at (or close to) parity? Where both Ford and Tesla have market caps of say $500B? I think there is at least a 25% possibility that might come to pass.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 53 Neutral (previous close: 51 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 62 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 7 at 1:17pm.

Class Warfare


News of the Wired

“Atrocious but efficient: How ranchers used barbed wire to make phone calls” [Texas Standard (KatieBird)]. “In 1897, The Electrical Review, reported that ‘on a ranch in California, telephone communication had been established between the various camps . . . by means of barbed wire fences.’ The article says the novel use of the phone was a great success and was being used in Texas as well. That same year, the New England Journal of Agriculture was impressed that two Kansas farmers, living a mile apart, had attached fine telephone instruments to the barbed wire fence that connects their places and established easy communication. From the Butte Intermountain in 1902 we see this notice: ‘Fort Benton’s latest development is a barbed wire telephone communication.’ The article points out that people of the range were not all that happy with barbed wire, which they thought was an ‘evil’ that had arrived with the railroad, but they had decided to look at the practical side of its existence and use it to create a telephone exchange that would connect all the ranches to Fort Benton.” • News you can use!


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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 (ET):

ET writes: “Summer picture monarch on Zinnia.” One more reason to plant zinnias. And summer is approaching more rapidly than you may think!

* * *

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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. antidlc

    State lawyers arguing against Biden vaccine mandates test positive for COVID-19

    Two officials presenting arguments on Friday to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to block vaccine mandates ordered by President Joe Biden’s administration have tested positive for COVID-19 and will make their cases remotely, their offices said.

    Ohio Solicitor General Benjamin Flowers and Louisiana Solicitor General Liz Murrill will argue against the vaccination and testing requirements by phone, according to their offices.

  2. Toshiro_Mifune

    Only 7 percent were unemployed at the time, almost the national average, compared with the usual 25 percent or more of violent right-wing perpetrators arrested by the FBI and other U.S. law enforcement from 2015 to mid-2020

    So, if the Jan 6 rioters were mainstream what the above is telling is that the FBI usually targets poor right wingers for arrest.

    1. haywood

      Many of those arrested were just wandering into the capitol following everyone else, not ransacking or assaulting anyone (remember the video of them waiting in single file line to get into the lobby like they were on a guided tour?). They went to the big Trump rally and then did the next thing. So of course their employment resembles run of the mill Republican activists and not some nazi biker.

      Only 500/700+ arrested had publicly available matching employment data (probably LinkedIN or some such site) so that 50% white collar figure has a selection bias problem right off the bat. White collar workers are MUCH more likely to use the networking sites that this study pulled from. Adjusting the denominator to exclude those who didn’t have publicly available employment data skews away from working class occupations.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Only 500/700+ arrested had publicly available matching employment data

        Many of the indictments specify the occupation. If white collar people weren’t indicted so quickly, I would imagine that’s due to their being lawyered up, or being treated with more deference.

  3. Judith

    Here is an article from today’s boston.com on the wastewater data being collected in MA.


    Massachusetts reported a record 27,612 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, more than 600 than the previous record.

    And yet, in all likelihood, the real number is significantly higher.

    As the highly transmissible if milder omicron variant runs rampant across the country, spiking COVID-19 samples from the Boston area’s wastewater this week suggest that the true number of cases is far higher than the official count, which comes from positive tests that report to the Department of Public Health.

    Biobot Analytics, the Cambridge-based company that collects the wastewater data, said Thursday that “undercounting is now more substantial than ever.”

    In fact, since early December, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority has had to quintuple the y-axis on their chart to capture the exponential spike, which now dwarfs the previous surges in the spring of 2020 and last winter.

  4. Questa Nota

    Barbed wire phones, an opportunity to hack a prison farm?
    Or promote inmate social interaction for reintegration to society?
    You choose.

    1. griffen

      The article itself was a pretty cool read. Always remarkable to think of what advancements we take for granted now, compared to the early 1900s. I am sure those farms and ranchers appreciated the ability to quickly chat about a looming fire, or a looming storm quickly moving in from the west. Ingenuity to survive!

      The article had a separate link to a Texas-based brand of butter. Fun read as well. In spring and summer, I’ll reach for a 6-pack of Shiner beer and recall the time lived in North Texas as a transplant until 2015. Except for July to August. I do not miss the summer heat.

    2. The Rev Kev

      That was a good find by KatieBird. Seems that there was a lot of good “bush mechanics” in Texas back then. The fact that they were able to MacGyver a common fence into a communication line was ingenious and must have made life a bit easier for those ranchers. That article mentioned ‘when rural Texas wanted to extend phone service from town to town, the engineers came up with the idea that they could use the existing rural power lines.’ Not that many years ago they were talking about using power lines for pushing through internet connectivity but you don’t hear about that anymore.

  5. MP

    The quit-rate really just shows the delusion of “living with covid” policy. Ignore unmitigated spread, saying that mitigation measures will hurt business, only for those businesses to be slammed with temporary lockdowns because of lack of staff or spread. In NYC alone I’ve seen a number of businesses impose, essentially, self-imposed and unpaid two-week lockdowns. Then tack on the bleeding of the workforce from what America reoriented itself around post-industrialization, retail/food service/etc, and we’re talking about the normal mechanisms of our economy not “working” correctly, despite leaders saying that the alternative of putting in measures would be worse. I’ve already started calling this, colloquially, “doing deindustrialization to the mall.” That leads to the migration of spending dollars to online goods (ie, Amazon) from services, and you see one evil (small business tyrants) wiped out by a bigger evil (accumulation). Not a great half-century we’re looking at.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      I am sure that this is just a coincidence but the three highest quit-rate occupations are also the ones where the masked behind the counter serve the unmasked customers in front of them. You know, essential workers.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      It could be an opportunity for the workforce sector to torture the business sector into torturing the government sector into reversing its covid policy from “spread it everywhere on purpose” to “stop it from spreading”.

      But only if enough workers can quit all at once to be able to torture the business sector into torturing the government sector into reversing its policy.

      If democracy doesn’t work and the government is illegitimate and is in fact an Enemy Occupation Force, and people don’t want to risk the outcome of illegal violence, then leaderless mass torture is the only technically non-violent means of changing business policy and therefor government policy that we have left.

      AntiWork has run a few such operations. TickTockers ran such an operation against one of Trump’s rallies. Global Guerillas has a lot to offer about non-violent and non-illegal sabotage and paralysis attacks against carefully chosen enemy targets and weakpoints.

      1. Late Introvert

        A general strike by default. My own workplace has forced me to submit proof of vax w/signed document, in lieu of masking and weekly tests “at employee expense.”

        Biden is trying to lose the House on purpose. Governing pisses off the donors too much.

  6. Questa Nota

    Sidney Poitier, actor extraordinaire has left this mortal coil. You may have enjoyed his work in so many films such as To Sir, With Love, They Call Me Mister Tibbs!, In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

    See many more of his very impressive list of credits and recall your favorites.

    1. griffen

      Hollywood-centric nonagenarian actors and actresses are having a lousy go of it lately. I’m really too young and ill-informed to appreciate all of his films, but now recall he was in Sneakers. Which I think featured Redford vs Kingsley, former college pals now as foes.

    2. Harold

      We recently saw Poitier’s debut Hollywood film, Budd Boetticher’s Redball Express, a war film paying tribute to the unsung heroism of a famous convoy of truck drivers responsible for racing military supplies to Patton’s troops, during the allied invasion through southern France. In reality, the drivers of “Red Ball Express” convoy were 75% African-American, though the film, made with the cooperation of the US army, downplayed their number to appeal to white audiences. The handsome Poitier played a young hot-head, you might say, righteously wrathful about racial discrimination. The 1952 film, made in the teeth of McCarthyism, was considered very courageous by the standards of the day, and objectively it was. I thought it was a great film, though it soft pedalled the truth. Highly recommend.

      1. Dave in Austin

        I know a bit about the Normandy campaign so I looked up the Red Ball movie in Wikipedia.

        What a load of hokkum. The trucks ran mostly fuel in the rear area from Normandy to Patton’s advancing troops. The WW II Army was segregated and most of the Black troops were in transportation, quartermaster and engineering units. As more divisions were landed in Normandy in August 1944 they weren’t needed at the rapidly moving front but truck convoys were needed, so all the new divisions’ transportation companies were stripped-out to supply Patton. The job was relatievely safe and behind the lines but the work was hard, tiring and the hours long. There was nothing particularly elite about the truckers, just long hours and hard work with the slight added danger of truck accidents caused by tired drivers.

        Some parts worked; others didn’t. The head of the supply zone was General Lee, a justifiably forgotten general. The fuel pipe-laying companies were not sent forward in time even though the pipe from England was already working. A few of the trucks were tanker trucks or towed tanker trailers; but most were 2.5 ton cargo trucks filled with “Jerry Cans”- 5 gallon cans designed by the Germans for the blitzkrieg. When we captured some in North Africa it was love at first sight, By Normandy we had lots of them.

        Unfortunately when the trucks went forward to the edge of the fairly safe battle zone, the truckers just dumped then at a supply point and headed home- Lee had forgot to require them to carry empties back and he had failed to send guards to protect the fuel dumps. The result was we ran out of Jerry Cans to carry fuel and had more trucks and drivers than cans. Every French farmhouse I saw in the late 1960s had a few to fuel-up the 2CV car with fuel purchased for the tractor- and thus taxed at a lower rate.

        The “returned Jerry Can” issue was the real bottleneck that eventally stopped Patton. Plus there was a shortage of tank treads, which don’t last long. So the propaganda on the Red Ball was designed to say “See we did our best”. Nothing in war is perfect.

        If you ever get to Reims, Eisenhower’s last HQ is in a school house and unchanged since he left. One wall is entirely made of maps… with rough grease marks on the overlay for positions of American troops and a complete diagram of all the pipelines running in from the coast, carefully marked with size, throughput and pumping connections… all kept up by soldiers fromTexas and Louisiana. There were close to 100 of them.

        Like most war movies Red Ball was part truth and part…

  7. Samuel Conner

    > emotional support professionals

    Perhaps it’s a sign that the PMC is going to the dogs.

    1. clarky90

      Re; “The Histrionics and Melodrama Around 1/6……”

      Has the Biden Administration had the strategic foresight, to build massive, stockpiles of “smelling salts”, aka; ammonia inhalants, spirit of hartshorn or sal volatile? We must have these ammonia inhalants equitably distributed to every corner of the USA!

      …..chemical compounds used as stimulants to restore consciousness after fainting…. Folks, this is of utmost importance, if we are ever, going to “Save Our Democracy”!

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        They have the smelling salts stashed next to all Pelosi’s powder she’s keeping dry.

    2. polar donkey

      How sheltered are these Senators and Representatives? No Congressional member or Senator got dragged out of their office and beaten. Did an elected official even see see with their own eyes physical altercations between police and protesters? How about if these fragile elected officials come down to the trauma unit of the Med here in Memphis and see some effects of the things they vote for. Like loose guns laws. See the actual gunshot victims get rolled in each night. Don’t like medicare for all. Sit in the waiting room with all the unisured sick for a few hours, especially during covid. How about all the veterans, domestic abuse, rape victims with real PTSD. American elites are trash. They are like Robespierre fainting at the sight of blood their policies help spill.

      1. JBird4049

        Rather explains some of their inaction during the first year of Covid and much of their legislation doesn’t?

        1. The Rev Kev

          Should also be mentioned that members of Congress and their Staff are not required to have to get a vaccine. Legislation for thee but not for me makes a difference. Had the same in Oz. So it came out that there was a woman raped in an office in Parliament House which has brought out all sorts of ugly stories about women having to work there. So eventually the government had to announce that they were changing some laws and that no longer would politicians and judges be except from sexual harassment laws. Wait, what?

          1. JBird4049

            Exempted from sexual harassment laws? Reallyz? My, what touching faith in their moral rectitude.

    3. griffen

      Man’s best friend is helping all the fragile, possibly pearl-clutching PMC on a tough day. I’m empathetic to the service animals, their owners a little less so.

  8. Samuel Conner

    > Now I don’t have to run this chart any more.

    Perhaps put together a “sticky” page with these charts and a few from earlier in the series, that can be pointed to when the future rhymes with the present, as it seems likely to.

  9. Gc54

    Ah, the payoff from watching those dumb CDC models crawl for weeks is glorious. Well played sir!

      1. Samuel Conner

        My interpretation is that the commenter is not pleased with the current outbreak, but is noting the Keystone Disease Cops character of US public health policy. The spectacular failure of the models is another episode of the clown car show.

  10. Laughingsong

    “Oregon elections officials say Nick Kristof does not qualify to run for governor“

    Yay! Happy dance!

    1. Even keel

      Sorry. I disagree. This decision is bad practically and procedurally.

      Practically kristof was at least not a corrupt insider. Oregon is such a one party state. Dems have not been challenged in many years (20?). An outsider in the primary was about the only way to avoid the corrupt establishment hacks that will be our only other options now.

      Procedurally, this decision is made by the wrong person for the wrong person. You know the Secretary of State is one of those hacks, right? It’s a political decision on her part – meaning a decision about what will favor her chances at power in the long run.

      She ignored a clear precedent in a former case of a representative who put an unlivable mobile home on a piece of canary property to set an in-district “residence”. That case was resolved in favor of the political, allowing his statement and position to stand. This kicking the political decision to voters, where it should be.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > She ignored a clear precedent in a former case of a representative who put an unlivable mobile home on a piece of canary property to set an in-district “residence”. That case was resolved in favor of the political, allowing his statement and position to stand. This kicking the political decision to voters, where it should be.

        What is a canary property?

        1. Even keel

          Wow. That whole paragraph got auto corrected. Should read:

          “ She ignored a clear precedent in a former case of a representative who put an unlivable mobile home on a piece of vacant property to create an in-district “residence”. That case was resolved in favor of the politician, allowing his statement and position to stand. Thus kicking the political decision to voters, where it should be.

          See the Oregonian for more details:


          “In an email to a lawyer for the secretary of state in December, one of Kristof’s lawyers, Misha Isaak, pointed to a previous example of the Elections Division’s “deferential treatment of candidates’ views of their own residency,” specifically Wes Cooley when he was a candidate for the state Senate in 1992. Cooley moved a trailer onto a property so he could qualify to run after district boundaries were redrawn and was allowed to run on that basis.“

    1. The Rev Kev

      That poll is like one I saw in an American newspaper published in Europe back in the 80s. They did a poll of their readers to find out who they were but the questions were rigged. So one asked about reader’s smoking habits (hey, it was the 80s) and asked if they used pipes, cigars, cigarettes, etc. There was no option if you did not smoke at all so their poll would have found that the average reader smoked which could be then sold on to advertisers then.

  11. jimmy cc

    Nick Kristof would have to declare a state as his residence on his tax returns.

    If one would need to look at his intent, I would start there.

      1. jimmy cc

        i dont know tbh.

        you can only have one legal voting residence at a time, so you can only vote in one.

        1. Even keel

          That’s the beauty of it. It’s a constitutional provision without any additional legal content. It just says a “resident.” Each one of your criteria is equally valid. To me, it just means that we want a governor who knows the state, not a carpet bagger. Kristof clearly fits that. He was born here, high school here, has kept property here for many years.

          But, the point is that it ought to be an issue for the voters. There are many constitutional provisions that are “enforced” in this type of round a bout way, rather than through the courts. One could argue that provisions enforced by non-courts are more effective and important than others. They are actually a pet of the fabric of our lives and our values, rather than being defined by the black robe and twisted (er, administered) by the executive.

    1. Carla

      “Kristof has said he moved to Oregon full-time in 2019, though he voted in New York state in November 2020.”

      But then shouldn’t he be indicted for illegally voting in NY in 2020? Or are “voter fraud” cases only brought against poor Black people?


      I sent a contribution to a GoFundMe for Crystal Mason and received a personal thank-you from her.

  12. griffen

    Owning a Ford vs owning a Tesla, in this case let’s say 100 shares of each company. I think that in Ford’s situation, it is positioned uniquely to counter developments and product launches by Tesla with it’s expanding fleet of EV. And, more importantly won’t Ford dealerships need be available and ready to provide support and maintenance on their expanded EV offerings? Seems like a possible win-win, minus being able to upsell products most find useful on regular engine models.

    I have doubted shares of Tesla and have been wrong. But the tailwinds have been provided by media, by prominent managers and analysts. Tesla has gone to the moon, will it rocket upward further or gradually return to earth? All faith in Elon Musk has been rewarded thus far.

    1. Rod

      Don’t forget a vast net work of ready to wire charging stations spread across dealerships nationwide. Clean Sideline—Drive by/fast charge/on the card/app participation—all on existing Commercial Connections and Established Locations.

  13. Fiery Hunt

    Here in the SF Bay Area, East Bay edition of the NC world-
    There have been huge, blocks-long lines forming in weird places (i.e. not hospital parking lots or large community centers but rather strip malls or random clinics off the beaten path).
    For testing, as far as i understand.

    Assuming it school/business requirements for negative tests before returning.
    Trust me, based on the number of people I’ve talked to who’ve had Covid over the last 2 weeks…the California positivity rate is gonna absolutely skyrocket.

    1. Samuel Conner

      The thought occurs that crowds in lines for testing are spreading events for Omicron. And as most of the currently uninfected people who get infected while waiting to contribute their test samples will test negative, there may be a lot of newly infected and soon infectious people going about their lives, thinking they are uninfected.

      Not to worry, these can be detected with at-home rapid tests.

      Oh, … wait

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Spiralling and spiralling….teachers going back to the classroom, kiddies going back..yep.
        West Contra Costa County declared today and Monday “Smoke Days” (based on the smoke from wildfires closures from 2 years ago)….”These are flexible days off the state allows us to use at our discretion”. Today is supposed to consist of “deep cleaning” and students and staff are getting home tests.

        Just announced yesterday.

        “Deep cleaning”.

        Even the Supreme Court Justices are completely in the dark…Justice Kagan suggested vaccine mandates are basic health directives because

        In a fiery, point-blank exchange, Justice Kagan said: “What the secretary is doing here, is saying to providers, you know what, like, basically the one thing you can’t do is to kill your patients. So we you have to get vaccinated so that you are not transmitting the disease that can kill elderly Medicare patients, that can kill sick Medicaid patients.”

        The people in charge really are absolutely, recklessly clueless.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Yes, I think it is fair to regard Kagan as well-meaning but deeply anti-educated and anti-aware of some basic covid facts.

          Are any of the lawyers for “No Mandates!” aware that vaccinoidation does not in itself confer immunity from infection or immunity from spreading the virus? If not, does this reflect a deep pro-ignorance anti-knowledge tendency within the legal profession where science is concerned?

    2. Wukchumni

      Kind of a forgettable day skiing, windy & snowy with breakable crust @ Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe, and my first time hurtling down steep embankments on purpose in a couple years, so a bit rusty.

      There really weren’t any Covid protocols in place, the main lodge dining room in theory required masks to be worn, but maybe half of those on the aerosol run within were naked from the neck up.

  14. Librarian Guy

    Having spent a year (non-continuously) as an expatriate in Latin America, I was very moved when T. Coraghessan Boyle’s book The Tortilla Curtain shared a saying Southwestern US Mexicans apparently used as Anglo American ranchers took over their lands, “Cuando viene el alambre, viene el hambre”. Which translates, when the barbed wire comes, so does hunger!! Interesting that it also had telephonic uses. . .

  15. Michael McK

    A billion dollars to fight concentration in the meat industry!? Might it be given to the antitrust division of the DoJ to fund enforcement of current laws? Perhaps a Federally owned network of processing and distribution facilities will be created to keep the others honest? Support for establishing rotational grazing management so ranchers costs go down? Some how I suspect it will be just another subsidy that the top slurps down with little benefit to farmers and at a detriment to the environment. The $1 billion in grants, loan support, safety/training, R and D and inspection subsidies for small processors will be digested by the majors during the next round of consolidation. Redirecting Farm Bill subsidies towards building soil instead of overproduction of commodities which mainly benefits and further entrenches mega-operators would make sense, be popular and cost nothing but that would be a fundamental change so is out of the question.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Coming soon: Amazon Meats!
      You can’t beat our meat!
      A joint venture of Amazon and the US government.

  16. Henry Moon Pie

    I can hardly wait until I’m able to rent my very own “smart” vaccine patch. I’m sure it’s just around the corner, and it will be so much more convenient.

    On another front, encouraged by that article about the “integrationists” ready to re-institute the Inquisition in order to halt the decline of Christianity, I watched 2019 Netflix documentary “The Brink” about Steve Bannon’s efforts to “unite the Right” around the world. Bannon and the integrationists are closely connected. Bannon’s essentially the political wing. Onward to Gilead!

    Meanwhile, the techtopia proposed by our PMC betters seems unable to cope with a little virus. Gattaca seems more and more distant.

  17. Mac

    “Biden-Harris Administration announced that it would dedicate $1 billion from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to curb consolidation and boost competition in the livestock industry,”

    How about boosting supply and competition in the petroleum industry, where prices have gone up 50%+, by allowing Venezuelan and Iranian oil into the U.S.?

    Someone should make a sticker that mentions this to plaster next to amount sold on gas pumps, like the ones of Biden’s face and “I did that.”

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      Ha! Said as much recently on prior comment threads … more w.r.t. Venezuela than Iran, but imagine a world where the US were less interested in regime change in both countries, and more dedicated to breaking up the cartel.


  18. Michael Fiorillo

    Wow, an electric Ford F-150 truck: how green!

    There’s probably enough embedded energy in one of those babies to produce and power several modest-sized internal combustion vehicles for years longer than one of those kinetic vanity statements will last.

    Add the lack of battery recycling and you have a real thermodynamic/environmental shandah.

    1. Mantid

      There are many companies that recycle EV batteries. CO2 recycles by leaving your tail pipe, going into the atmosphere and keeps the Sun in so we all stay (and get) warm(er).

  19. shinola

    Re: Bloomberg article “Jan. 6’s Wounds in Congress Run Deep…” & Lambert’s comment at the end of the snip provided with the link:

    “Any “wound” that causes you to fraternize with a ghoul like Dick Cheney… Well, that’s some wound.”

    I would alter that comment to: ” … Well, that’s some brain damaging head wound”

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      ” We go to politics with the ghouls we have, not the ghouls we would like or would prefer to have at some future time.”

      — Ronald Dumsfeld

      1. The Rev Kev

        Does that mean that we are going to have to get by with the “hillbilly” ghouls that we have?

  20. Tom

    I would be interested in seeing the breakdown of the lawyers arrested re Jan 6. There is a huge split in the industry between biglaw and small firms / solo practitioners. Obviously there are some exceptions but in my opinion very very few of the latter would qualify as PMC, while all of the former would.

    I strongly suspect any lawyers arrested would be in the non-biglaw group.

  21. Mikel

    Tech Startup/Suing/Crypto:

    ‘Ryval’s goal is to make access to justice more affordable,’ said Kyle Roche, a trial lawyer and one of the startup’s founders. ‘What I want to do is make the federal court system more accessible for all.’

    Everybody run!
    Not “access” …Providing “access” usually means not providing anything. Just standing between an entitiy and the good or service being provided. “Access” : when you hear the word, just know…middle-men incoming to get their “access” to your transaction.

    And as I always say, I have “access” to the lottery…

  22. Retaj

    The President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA tweeted about the dangerous and profit motive driven behavior of Delta Airlines during this omicron surge.

    @FlyingWithSara’s thread: Delta Explains Policy. Here’s how it plays out

    It seems Delta limits employees to one test every twenty-one days, and they limit the number to 36 employees per day at the airport location in the story.

    They cite the CDC’s 5-day quarantine new guidance, and, of course, they lobbied the Biden administration for this. Trust the airline lobbyists CDC and science!

    Where’s “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen”?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It seems Delta limits employees to one test every twenty-one days, and they limit the number to 36 employees per day at the airport location in the story.

      They really do want to kill us.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The Air Force had, and maybe still has, training for its people about Survival, Evasion and Escape.

        If they really are trying to kill us ( and they are), then will we try just as hard to survive?

        I know that handing out assignments is deeply resented here, but when the stakes are literal life and death, including the life or death of Naked Capitalism’s regular readers and regular contributors, perhaps Naked Capitalism should think about creating a special easy-to-find feature devoted to Jackpot Evasion, Survival and Escape knowledge in general, and Covid Evasion, Survival and Escape knowledge in particular. A special such feature with its own dedicated title acting as a beacon making it easy to home in on would allow such information to stand out and be easy to find among the millions of words written here over time.

  23. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: SCOTUS and the vaccine mandate

    WTF?? Is the EUA status of ALL “vaccine” regimens (except for two shots specifically of “comirnaty”) including ALL boosters, and ALL vaccinations of under 18s of any kind to be completely ignored???

    EUA is a LAW fer chrissakes. How is it that a “supreme” court, famous for skirting issues based on the most weaselly of technicalities, ignores the explicit language against “force” in that statute?

    It would seem that the only “mandate” that could conceivably be “legal” is two shots of actual, labelled “comirnaty” which, if various links on The Automatic Earth are to be believed, is not even currently available in this country due to liability differences between “vaccines” “approved” only for emergency use and those with full FDA “approval.”

    Can anyone explain this?

  24. SomeGuyinAZ

    The 2nd anniversary of my favorite musician’s passing – rest in peace Neil Peart.

    A little musical interlude on the occasion — The Garden from Rush’s Clockwork Angels tour: https://youtu.be/EsBNzf5JlZA
    I know that they didn’t mean it as a final farewell to their fans, but it sure seems fitting for the last song on their last album.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      Indeed. Rest In Peace, Percussion, Poetry & Prose, Neil …

      While much of the focus of his life has been on his amazing drumming skills, I’d like to point out as fan, what a great lyricist I think he was. And as a student of political economy, to my reckoning, his writing on “The Big Money” (via YouTube) was on the nose.

  25. PKMKII

    Saw a good line today: “Just get vaccinated” is the pandemic equivalent of “Just vote” as the way to prevent fascism.

    1. ChrisRUEcon


      Just as “just vote” shifts responsibility to the powerless and absolves the powerful of having to do anything like, I dunno … delivering the tangible material benefits that people typically vote for … “just get vaccinated” offers nothing but: “Well, you’re vaxxed* now, so get back to work … and oh btw, no free tests, KN95’s, hazard pay or sick-leave for you.”

      * – vaccines do not prevent reinfection or transmission

  26. Henry Moon Pie

    In the category of satire can’t outrun reality: Dr. Rochelle Walensky has been undergoing “media training” since last September.

    1. Lou Anton

      Another reason to appreciate “Don’t Look Up.” The occasional window into the business catchphrases (like “media training”).

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      #AreaOfConcernContinuum #COVID19

      “No data from in California, Arizona, Colorado, Arkansas, and Alabama. Systems are breaking down.”

      :( … the stats people are self isolating, or busy intubating, I guess

      1. ChrisRUEcon


        Not so gentle reminder that 2022 is an election year, and for anyone who thinks that the COVID surge is going to mean mail-in-ballots, the Texas GOP would like to have a word (via #Twitter).

  27. Tom Stone

    The cognitive dissonance amongst the liberal members of the PMC must be approaching extremely painful levels,Tara Reade destroyed #MeToo, RUSSIA!!!…died with a whimper that left thousands of Mueller votive candles unsold, The INSURRECTION!!! is getting yawns and “Follow The Science” is suddenly not to be spoken of.

    1. rowlf

      To paraphrase an old Soviet joke about the arrival of communism:

      This is Armenian Radio; our listeners asked us: “We are told that The Science is already seen at the horizon.” Then, what is a horizon?”

      We’re answering: “Horizon is an imaginary line which moves away each time you approach it.”

  28. griffen

    Breaking news per the snap coverage by ABC. In what must be an extreme weather occurrence during early January, there is a winter storm shutting down roads. And wreaking havoc as drivers navigate this substance they are wholly unfamiliar with. \sarc

    Those living in the upper peninsula of Michigan, and Buffalo residents as well, all shrug their shoulders. It’s a day in ending y, they must shrug!

    As a life long southerner, I am admittedly a warm weather individual.

  29. Old Sarum

    When the going gets weird: Lithium-ion cells

    I watch videos about repairing Li-ion powered cars. The number of these cells in a battery pack can be greater than 7,000 and the number of these cells that can seriously impact a battery pack’s performance by its failure is seemingly ONE (or a very small percentage).

    I suppose the adoption of such an engineering technology, and the subsequent charging infrastructure required, is a lesson in counter-resilience. Fascinating!


  30. JBird4049

    Consider the economic profile of the 716 people arrested or charged, as of Jan. 1, 2022, for storming the Capitol. Of the 501 for which we have employment data, more than half are business owners, including CEOs, or from white-collar occupations, including doctors, lawyers, architects, and accountants.

    So there were about 215 secret agents, spies, narcs, provocateurs and informants there?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Of the 501

      I need to go to the original source and get a breakdown. I’m guessing business owners are more heavily weighted than white collar occupations.

      On the question of whether “informant” is a white-collar occupation, I tend to say no. Usually, it’s more casual and ephemeral.

      1. JBird4049

        No criticism from me on this. I am just curious about how much penetration there is. The more provocateurs and informants there are the more likely it’s the Reichstag Fire and not accidental. The Democrats are certainly using 1/6 as an excuse and distraction.

        I think that there are fractions of the security state as well as both parties manipulating and using the incident and its participants, while not communicating with anyone else and making it confusing.

        As for a career working for the Feds, it probably depends on how long you are useful. AFAIK, Ernest Withers probably did little work for the FBI after MLK ‘s assassination while IIRC Gloria Steinem worked for the CIA for decades. Heck, in some police departments professional snitches work for years if they are good at testilying.

  31. Jen

    McSweeney’s Internet Tendency nails it

    “For example, if an accountant and a barista switched places, society would collapse. The accountant would become so overwhelmed by the high volume of orders that he would confuse the regular milk with the oat milk, thus putting real milk in a highly lactose intolerant crane operator’s latte.

    A few hours later, the crane operator, sixty-two feet in the air, feels a sudden rumble in his stomach that alerts him to the danger below. Unfortunately for the city, the toilet also lays far below. It’s too late. The crane careens into a pole that is attached to a wire that is attached to a switch that controls the city’s main power grid. The crane operator walks away without a scratch. The entire city plunges into darkness.

    The barista would be totally fine as an accountant. They majored in accounting at NYU.”


    1. griffen

      Accounting professionals are more adaptable than that. Now the drive thru window pace might slow to a crawl. Wait, there isn’t an Excel file or CSV flat file to upload all those orders!?!

      Trick question I like to ask for at the drive through or counter. Can I get my breakfast sandwich or lunch item, but without cheese? Everything pre-ordered and ready comes with cheese!

  32. rowlf

    A long time friend works at a modern lead acid battery recycling plant. He brags that the only part of a lead acid battery that isn’t recycled is the labels.

  33. The Rev Kev

    So an update from Oz. The State of Victoria has recorded a massive 51,000 cases in one day. So Victoria Health Minister Martin Foley has said the state’s unprecedented daily COVID-19 numbers are “exactly what we wanted”. Who are these health ministers? Did they take a course on medical ethics from the Dr. Mengele School of Medicine or something?


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the state’s unprecedented daily COVID-19 numbers are “exactly what we wanted”.

      They really are trying to kill us, aren’t they? And they’re not shy about saying it.

  34. Ignacio

    RE:Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):
    So, France is reporting about more than 300.000 cases in a day. Let’s do some back of the envelope calculations.
    Not all cases are registered/tested by any chance. Let’s suppose 50% are. So if such level is sustained we had (with all caution) about 600.000 daily in the previous week. If average duration of omicron is about 9 days this means in a given day there are about between 2,7-5,4 million infected in France. So much for Covid certificates I think.
    Then let’s travel to the UK where high incidence has been sustained by about 5 weeks or about 4 times 9 days. Means that in this period somewhere between 12-24 million could have been infected so far since 1 december. I wonder if humans had ever seen such progression rate.
    We cannot extrapolate to the future because the rate of disease progression is always changing depending on many factors, for instance how Omicron can escape the immune system and reinfect people that had been already infected. Has anybody seen data on omicron-convalescent sera? So, some day and not far away in the future particularly in the UK, our canary in the mine here, this wave has to recede. This is now for me the most important info to watch.

    1. cnchal

      Why can’t the result be 100% of the people infected 100% of the time?

      According to your estimates the UK’s population is already somewhere between 1/6 th to 1/3 rd infected and still spreading rapidly. 100 X 100 is the trajectory.

      It’s going to be herd immunity or a diseased herd come hell or high water.

      1. Ignacio

        100% infected 100% of the time is just impossible. I guess you mean 100% infected by the end of the wave. I don’t think so but a large chunk will be infected in this wave depending on how long does it proceed and how slowly it recedes. I also contemplate the possibility that the part of the population that is most exposed is infected twice (or more?) during this wave depending on unknowns about already tired immune systems and ways the virus has developed to escape infection. Others with low exposure will remain uninfected after the wave.

        Uncharted territory we are in.

        1. cnchal

          >. . . If average duration of omicron is about 9 days

          > . . . the rate of disease progression is always changing depending on many factors, for instance how Omicron can escape the immune system and reinfect people that had been already infected.

          Perhaps 100 X 100 is too extreme. Where I question the reality is what exactly does herd immunity or endemic really imply. Using the UK as an example, if, let’s say 20,000,000 people are infected now. Does it mean that within nine days those infections cleared up and a different set of people are now infected or are the people that are currently infected become continuously reinfected and the number of people that become infected continually grow to encompass 100% of the population.

          Everybody continually becoming reinfected due to the ability of the virus to escape personal immunity and vaccines not being effective at stopping the spread, or even hastening the spread because vaccinated people take much greater risk going out and about seems to be what the end result of herd immunity is.

          The ignored fact that long covid is debilitating to the individual, that children are being ruined for the sake of the economy is . . . well to me very disturbing.

      2. Joe Well

        Herd immunity until the Omicron variant is inevitably superseded by the next variant (which immunity to Omicron should logically speed up), or until immunity inevitably wanes, whichever comes first.

        In the process, the UK becomes the virus’s lab and training ground.

  35. Lambert Strether Post author

    > this wave has to recede. This is now for me the most important info to watch.

    Even if the case chart data is bad, which it is, I think it’s the best we have. If I could get a national aggregation of waste water site data, I would be much, much happier.

  36. Lambert Strether Post author

    This seems familiar, somehow. From Reconstructing an Epidemic, Oxford University Press:

    This chapter focuses on the smallpox epidemic, the most devastating medical crisis that erupted throughout the South after the Civil War, and how it claimed the lives of thousands of freed slaves from 1862 to 1868. It argues that the epidemic resulted in large part from the inefficiencies of Freedmen’s Bureau hospitals to establish effective quarantines and conduct vaccinations as well as the federal government’s neglect of freedpeople’s health. It considers the high mortality rates caused by the smallpox epidemic, and how they were interpreted by federal officials, Southern planters, and both the Northern and Southern press as signs of the extinction of the black race. The chapter also cites the federal government’s lack of effort in addressing the outbreak of the virus throughout the South.

  37. Joe Well

    Miraculous solution to the Covid testing shortage, from the epicenter of modern scientific medicine, Massachusetts, USA. /s (Edited to add a sarcasm tag in case that wasn’t extremely clear.)

    Covid-sniffing dogs sniff the seats where school children have sat (to avoid scaring the kids) and then if they find something, they notify the parents…to ask if they want a Covid test…that is, if there are any available…no pressure…

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