2:00PM Water Cooler 1/6/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

I wouldn’t want to hear that cry if I were a small creature in the night….

* * *


“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

Readers, my priors on this are perhaps too strong. (1) If the Capitol seizure is an insurrection or sedition, where is the Attorney General? (2) The story is from the usual suspects who promoted RussiaGate; they have form. (3) I don’t say that the FBI instigated the seizure, but it’s impossible for me to believe they knew nothing of it, and weren’t involved; they too have form (they did instigate the Whitmer kidnapping plot, and they had at least one informer in the Proud Boy leadership, and another present with the Proud Boys on the day). (4) The rioters were ineffectual; the QAnon shaman didn’t exactly proclaim a new republic from the House dais. (5) The Capitol Police report to Pelosi, so their failure that day — if failure it was — comes down to her. (6) Since the Democrats can’t run on their record in 2022, given their mountain of Covid bodies is higher than Trump’s, “our democracy” is something they can run on. Surely this has been the leadership’s scheme from the start, and so the entire enterprise is polluted, top to bottom, in the ways we are already familar with. That said–

“Jan. 6 shows impunity is the rule for American elites” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. “When Lucius Sergius Catilina attempted to overthrow the Roman Republic in 63 BCE, he was hunted down by the military and killed along with all his followers. When Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland, invaded England to try to depose Henry IV, he was defeated, beheaded, and his head displayed on the London Bridge. When a group of army officers attempted to overthrow the French Republic in 1961, they were arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned (though some later had their sentences commuted). At the risk of belaboring the obvious, all this happened because of the incumbent government’s self-preservation instinct. States punish insurrectionists both as a signal that sedition won’t be tolerated and to take specific dangerous figures out of play. Historical exceptions to this practice only further the point: When Adolf Hitler attempted a putsch in 1923, for instance, he got off with a slap on the wrist thanks to a sympathetic right-wing judge. A decade later he was chancellor. It’s not hard to imagine what a normal country would do in response to something like Jan. 6. The putschists who stormed the Capitol would be prosecuted, of course, but the principal organizers would get the primary attention of law enforcement. We don’t need medieval barbarities to deter sedition — enforcing existing laws would be just fine…. But America is not a normal country. The low-level chumps, lunatics, and small business owners who made up the bulk of the putschists are being prosecuted, thus far exclusively for relatively minor crimes like trespassing or disorderly conduct. And Trump and other organizers are getting off scot-free…. That, I submit, explains Garland’s refusal to prosecute someone who is certain to try to seize power again if he can: Whenever something awful happens to demonstrate that the U.S. is just another ordinary country with many foibles, or that the political class is full of deranged criminals, the chauvinist instinct is to sweep it under the rug and deny anything is wrong.”

“The Real Tragedy of Jan. 6 Is That It’s Still Not Over” [Daily Beast]. “And then there was the moment when, while trying to get into the Capitol through an area that was already blocked off with bicycle racks, I saw a phalanx of Capitol Police in riot gear walking through the sea of protesters. I went up to one, flashing my congressional press badge and beginning to explain that I was trying to get into the building. He stopped me, looked at me like I was crazy for strolling through this crowd—even crazier for wearing a press badge—and immediately just swept me into the line of cops without saying a word. I hadn’t yet understood the danger these protesters posed, but the police already knew.” • A population known for its devotion to guns hadn’t brought any….

“Riot shields and metal detectors are a reminder of deadly U.S. Capitol assault” [Reuters]. • All the deaths on the day were rioters, including the one the cops whacked.

“‘We were trapped’: Trauma of Jan. 6 lingers for lawmakers” [Associated Press]. “Vividly they remember the loud, hornetlike buzz of their gas masks. The explosive crack of tear gas in the hallways outside. The screams of officers telling them to stay down. The thunderous beating on the doors below. Glass shattering as the rioters punched through a window pane. The knobs rattling ominously on the locked doors just a few feet behind them. And most indelibly, the loud clap of a gunshot, reverberating across the cavernous chamber. ‘I’ve heard a lot of gunshots in my time, and it was very clear what that was,’ Crow said. ‘I knew that things had severely escalated.’ The shot was fired by Officer Michael Byrd and killed Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter from California who was trying to crawl through the broken window of a door that leads to the House chamber. Both the Justice Department and Capitol Police investigated the shooting and declined to file charges. While the gunshot dispersed some of the violent mob, the lawmakers ducking in the gallery believed the worst was just beginning. ‘I think all of us, myself included, had images of a mass-shooting event,’ said Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., who posted video updates on Twitter as the chaos unfolded. ‘It was terrifying in the moment.'” • I have sympathy for their experience — even as the AP focuses on their feelings, as opposed to the actual death — but whatever an insurrection might be, it’s not a “mass-shooting event.” What an odd categorization.

“Recalling Jan. 6: A national day of infamy, half remembered” [Associated Press]. “But since that day, separate versions — one factual, one fanciful — have taken hold. The Capitol riot — the violent culmination of a bid to delegitimize the 2020 election and block its certification — has morphed into a partisan “Rashomon,” the classic Japanese film about a slaying told from varying and conflicting points of view.” Oddly, having established the binary, the story doesn’t follow through with quotes (IIRC, Rashomon wasn’t binary either; it had multiple points of view). “Instead of receding into the past as an anomalous threat to the heart of American democracy, the history of the Capitol riot is yet to be fully written. Some projects are ongoing. To tell the story of Jan. 6, the Capitol Historical Society is creating an oral history. Some of the stories — like those of staffers who have since quit government and returned home — are particularly haunting for the society’s president, Jane L. Campbell. Meanwhile, the Capitol remains closed to the public. Where tours once regularly paraded, now only those with an appointment may enter.” • So at least there has been one happy outcome. I remember good ol’ Harry Reid remarking about how the tourists smelled. Surely, a few moments of fear is worth years of unsullied scent receptors?

“U.S. Democracy Under Siege After Tech Lobbyist Invites Some Senators To Dinner” [The Onion]. “‘Rarely do we see such a brazen attack on our democratic values, and yet we could only watch in shock and horror as a paid representative for several biotech firms entered Charlie Palmer Steak with three U.S. senators for a sumptuous five-course meal,’ said political scientist Monica Turley, adding that the vicious assault on representative self-government was compounded by the fact that U.S. intelligence officials had done nothing to address it, despite records showing that the dinner reservation had been in place for months.”

Biden Administration

“Joe Biden’s Lobbyists Are Helping Big Pharma Profiteers” [Jacobin]. “President Joe Biden’s top media buying firm is helping Big Pharma’s efforts to kill his party’s watered-down drug pricing legislation and targeting Senate Democrats up for reelection this year. It’s the latest reminder that for the Beltway consultant class, money is far more important than ideology. While Big Pharma’s allies in Congress have already succeeded in scaling back the Democrats’ drug pricing plan, the provision in Biden’s Build Back Better legislation still represents the party’s most sincere effort to fulfill its longtime promise to allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices. The idea of allowing the government to negotiate drug prices — like most other high-income countries do — is one of the most popular items in the Biden social agenda bill. Yet, a top Democratic Party media buying firm, Canal Partners Media, is placing ads for drug industry front groups that want to block Democrats from lowering drug prices as promised in the Biden reconciliation bill.” • “Most sincere” does not actually mean “sincere,” of course.


“2022 House Overview: Still a GOP Advantage, but Redistricting Looks Like a Wash” [Dave Wasserman, Cook Political Report]. “The surprising good news for Democrats: on the current trajectory, there will be a few more Biden-won districts after redistricting than there are now — producing a congressional map slightly less biased in the GOP’s favor than the last decade’s. The bad news for Democrats: if President Biden’s approval ratings are still mired in the low-to-mid 40s in November, that won’t be enough to save their razor-thin House majority (currently 221 to 212 seats).” • So, on redistricting, the yammering Democrat NGOs were wrong, and the yawning Democrat electeds were right. Fascinating.

“Why 2022 Rhymes With the Previous Four Midterms” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “Democrats need to rally their voters *against* something. Which is why you are seeing so much attention focused on Pres. Trump and the events of January 6th. Republicans tried a similar strategy in 2018 by trying to link every Democratic candidate with Nancy Pelosi or Bernie Sanders. This counter-attack only works if the other side falls into the trap. In 2018, Democrats worked hard to side-step controversial issues like abolishing ICE. Others promised to vote against Pelosi for speaker. We’ll have to see how well Republicans avoid nominating controversial candidates or engaging in unpopular behavior.”

“Republicans lose edge on generic congressional ballot: poll” [The Hill]. “Republicans have lost their lead on the generic congressional ballot ahead of November’s midterm elections, according to a new USA Today-Suffolk University poll released on Tuesday. The survey shows Democrats narrowly leading Republicans on the generic ballot, 39 percent to 37 percent, marking a major shift from the GOP’s previous 8-point lead in a November USA Today-Suffolk University poll. The Democrats’ lead falls with the poll’s 3.1 percentage margin of error. However, according to the latest poll’s findings, Republicans are necessarily not hemorrhaging support to Democrats — rather more Republicans said they were undecided. Undecided voters ticked up 16 percent to 24 percent from November to January. The poll also showed dismal approval ratings for President Biden, a bad sign for down-ballot Democrats going into this year.”


We’re really making progress now:

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.

* * *

And speaking of the class power of the PMC:

“Vaccine Politics” [Will Stancil]. “[T]ens or hundreds of millions of Americans still face serious risks during a COVID surge, either from direct infection or from other disruptions to their lives. However, that overall risk has been shifted away from cultural, political, and economic power centers and towards smaller, poorer, marginalized, and disadvantaged communities. As a result, there has been a shift in the political response to COVID. As people in high-income, high-visibility groups have become more insulated from the crisis, political and social leaders have demonstrated lower appetite for disruptive policy responses to COVID. Government interventions like mask mandates or vaccine passports have not been widely adopted, and many existing mandates have been ended. School closures, business closures, and other restrictions on gatherings have been largely abandoned. This shift is particularly noticeable among liberal elites, who are heavily concentrated in the power centers that are now most insulated. Many liberal elites in politics and media previously embraced an ethos of shared sacrifice to deal with the pandemic, in the name of ‘flattening the curve.’ A number of these same political and social leaders have drifted towards a rhetoric of personal responsibility, sometimes suggesting that this is a ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’ that can be safely forgotten by the majority who have received a vaccine, or that people who suffer from a surge have no one to blame but themselves. This contingent increasingly includes Democratic federal and state officials, like Governor Polis of Colorado.”

Hmm. Open Secrets:

Obama Legacy

I can’t figure out if this is dogs-playing-power sentimental, or ironic:

I support the tropes, but what are they?

Trump Legacy

“Head of State Collection, 2022” [Melania Trump]. • NFTs, of course:

I suppose this is better than laundering the money through an art gallery….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The insurrection will be decentralized: The next Jan. 6 will happen in the state houses” [Salon]. “A year later, we must again look to our state houses for a preview of what is to come. In key battleground states, Republicans are steadily building toward a future where they can engineer election outcomes. GOP-controlled legislatures are setting the stage for another attempted coup. The next insurrection will be decentralized, coming from our state houses with the sheen of legal authority. If we do nothing to stop their plans, then as the 2024 votes are tallied in our states, the laws and rules governing the process and outcome will have been rewritten for a particular outcome: Republican wins, regardless of the votes. And an arch-conservative Supreme Court could stand poised to thwart a constitutional challenge to this state power grab. We have the opportunity to stop this in its tracks — by pouring resources and attention into key state legislative chambers and races immediately. What we do next for our states could determine the fate of our democracy.”

“White Backlash Is A Type Of Racial Reckoning, Too” [FiveThirtyEight]. • Ruy Teixeira’s “coalition of the ascendant,” to which the Democrat Party adhered for many years, was quite explicit that demographic advances by what some call “people of color” would lead to Democrat hegemony, without Democrats doing much of anything on policy. (Teixeira paradigm isn’t looking so good these days, as some “Asians” and “Hispanics” — severely crude categories — turned out to prefer Republicans.) However, did Teixeira and the army of Democrat strategists really not consider the possibility that a demographic whose political demise they desired would not react? Of course there was a reckoning, for good or ill.


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!

NOT UPDATED 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:

Even worse. 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 is still roaring in. (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: 853,612​851,475.

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 Challenger Job Cuts” [Trading Economics]. “US-based companies announced plans to cut 321,970 jobs from their payrolls in 2021, the least on record and down 86% from 2020 as employees try to retain workers faced with a record number of job quits. Company closings caused the most cuts (69,648), followed by restructuring (58,712), and market conditions (54,160).”

Employment Situation: “United States Jobless Claims 4-week Average” [Trading Economics]. “The 4-week moving average of US jobless claims, which removes week-to-week volatility, rose to 204.5 thousand in the week ending January 1st, from a revised 199.75 thousand in the previous period.”

Manufacturing: “United States Factory Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for US manufactured goods rose by 1.6 percent from a month earlier in November 2021, the largest increase since May and slightly above market expectations of 1.5 percent.”

Services: “United States ISM Non Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Services PMI fell to 62 in December from a record high of 69.1 in November, well below market forecasts of 66.9. but still pointing to the 19th consecutive month of growth in the sector. The demand for services remains strong and sustained but companies continue to struggle with inflation, supply chain disruptions, capacity constraints, logistical challenges and shortages of labor and materials.”

* * *

Retail: Magic of the marketplace:

It really wouldn’t have taken a lot of effort to turn the mask situation around.

The Bezzle: “Coinbase Lifted to Buy; Bank of America Sees New Revenue Streams” [The Street]. • I’ll bet.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 50 Neutral (previous close: 52 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 62 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 4 at 12:05pm. Last updated Jan 6 at 1:28pm.

The 420

Somebody at NAICS has a sense of humor:

Class Warfare

“Review: How Labor Can Stop ‘The Privatization of Everything’” [Labor Notes]. “As private companies have grabbed a bigger share of the $7 trillion spent every year on public services, the impact of privatization on pay, benefits, and income inequality has become more pronounced. In their many case studies, [Dan Cohen and his co-author Allen Mikaelian] show how contracting out has been a win-win for the rich and powerful, but rarely for anyone else…. The authors also show how Democrats have been complicit with Republican office holders in “treating us as mere consumers of public services rather than citizens.” President Bill Clinton ‘found privatization useful for precisely the same reasons that Reagan Republicans had—it gave the appearance that government could be cut without cutting services.’ But the news isn’t all bad: “Between 2003 and 2019, more than 70 U.S. communities were able to take control of local water systems back from private contractors. In Felton, California, city officials created a public co-op to take their local water infrastructure back from the investor-owned California Water Company. In Missoula, Montana, concerned residents and city leaders waged a long but successful battle to buy its waterworks from the Carlyle Group, one of the largest private equity funds in the world.”

“How the pandemic made hotel housekeeping more difficult — and disgusting” [Los Angeles Times]. “To reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus, many of the nation’s largest hotel chains have adopted policies that make daily housekeeping optional, letting guests choose how often housekeepers enter the rooms. In most cases, that means housekeepers enter only after guests check out, leaving multiple days’ worth of trash, grime and discarded towels to deal with…. The messes housekeepers are reporting include mounds of fast-food wrappers, piles of dirty towels, containers of half-eaten takeout food, floors sticky with spilled drinks and, occasionally, feces smeared on bathroom walls. One housekeeper shared a photo with The Times of a bed covered in hundreds of nitrous oxide capsules, manufactured for whip cream dispensers but often used by people who inhale the gas to get a quick dizzying high…. ‘The pandemic has been an unmitigated, nonstop health and safety disaster for housekeepers,’ [Kurt Petersen, co-president of Unite Here] said. ‘Cleaning a room that has been left untouched for days is not only more difficult and time-consuming, but it is far less safe for guests and workers.’ The new conditions are likely to increase the already high injury rates among hotel housekeepers, he said.”

When it comes time for administrators to really earn their money (1):

When it comes time for administrators to really earn their money (2):

News of the Wired

I don’t think it’s possible to subscribe to too many artbots:

This painting is in the Boston MFA. From six feet away, the snow appears glittering white. Put your nose up to the canvas, and you see many tiny strokes of different brilliant colors: Blue, red, yellow. Amazing stuff. Perhaps NFTs mean we’re running out of “real” art?

* * *
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RH has nothing to say, and perhaps there is nothing to say!

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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. Skip Intro

    The partially eaten pomegranate in the American Realist painting, recalls a pomegranate in a recently posted 17th century oil painting/poem combo. I think of Persephone spending half her time in Hades, but they may, in general, be a symbol of death/mortality. Memento mori for Obama?

    1. anon y'mouse

      the overall effect appeared to be that nothing has changed in 300 years, or “the more things change, the more they stay the same” (“change coming” in the headlines is visible on the newspaper), also “still life also including a life painting (vermeer’s wife?)”, also eggs=new life, apple = life at the fullpoint. dragon on the teapot seems to be drawing near and even larger teakettle threatening steam and fire to the walled city on the tapestry (and which tapestry is that? anyone know?), so doom perhaps is present as well. a logged landscape and a giant tree of life weigh each side evenly.

      it would make a very interesting tarot card, or i would love to see what the artist would produce in that vein.

      so, what were the conditions of 17th c. Holland that are still present today? placid and cossetted capitalist bourgeoisie?

      it’s a beautiful piece, but i stan Vermeer so of course i would love it.

    2. Dave

      The seeds represent the months lived under Trump (winter/hell) now giving way to spring/rebirth/hope (candle, free-range multicolored eggs, renaissance paintings). It is super kitschy.

      1. Eustachedesaintpierre

        The Vermeer is titled A Woman Holding a Balance ( scales ) so perhaps restoring balance as the scales are level. The other picture is a small copy of one of a series of large allegorical frescoes titled The Art of Good & Bad Government painted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti which were created in Sienna around 1340 – the one featured illustrates a thriving Sienna.

        Optimism basically & we all know how that worked out – more detail below.


        1. anon y'mouse

          interesting. the writeup on that page mentions trade and banking leading to cultural outgrowth of the arts and thus, the production of the mural of the walled city itself upon which this (still seems like tapestry to me, but whatever) is based.

          which matches up well with the same forces in Vermeer’s time and place.

          1. Eustachedesaintpierre

            Yes a copy of a tapestry copy by the look of it – he is technically brilliant but tragically the painting IMO only illustrates what might of been.

            I wonder what Obama would think of it – maybe he would see it in a positive light as a sign of at least his success, as many before him have revelled in history painting that flattered their lofty egos at a great cost to many others.

        2. Harold

          It is important to remember that Siena, like the US, was a republic not a monarchy. Lorenzetti’s celebrated fresco on the walls of it’s town hall was admonition to the members of the town council to follow the virtues of good government which lead to peace and prosperity, and to warn against the sins (among which were those arising from commerce) of bad governance that result in war, devastation, and poverty.

          I agree that the painting is kitschy, like a greeting card, and the effect of the thickly-laid on symbolism is rather unpleasing. Deliberately so? I don’t know, but it does appear to be more of a warning than an endorsement.

          1. Eustachedesaintpierre

            Has me also wondering what other paintings could have been used with hindsight – Anselm Kiefer would I suppose provide a large dose of panoramic pessimism.

            I was attending a trade show in Dublin that turned into a mass celebration, of which I took part the day Obama was elected.

    3. Harold

      I noticed the pomegranate seeds also. According to the myth Persephone ate six pomegranate seeds while residing in the underground and so was forced to remain underground in the Kingdom of Hades (death) for a part of the year, which is why we have winter. Her return to the upper earth signifies the arrival of spring. Apples signify original sin, and eggs, the resurrection. So the painting is about hope. I don’t know what the teapots and kettle, signify.

    4. The Rev Kev

      When looking at that painting about the election of Obama, to me it looked like the people had just upped and left the kitchen the way it was to go out to brunch.

  2. Socal Rhino

    No love for Adams but I think this remark was taken out of context from his argument that we need to keep things open because lower income people can’t work from home and will have no source of income. Also I see nothing even in this quote to suggest low wage workers are unskilled.

      1. Socal Rhino

        I didn’t say it was a misquote, but that it was lifted from context that changed its implication, a reaction shared by other twitter users. The guy says enough that is awful in context (e.g. you can’t challenge my views on incarceration because I was a cop a cop and you weren’t). You disagree fair enough. I took this as “gotcha” journalism.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        The use of “my” rather than “our” when he describes the workers is a tell. Not at all in it together.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      ” … we need to keep things open because lower income people can’t work from home and will have no source of income.”


      That belief is a damn near perfect articulation of the reality that economic benefits don’t trickle down, but p*ss does …


      England and Canada both had programs by which shuttered businesses could furlough (temporarily lay off) workers and then said workers would collect 75% – 80% of their salaries directly from the government IIRC.

      It’s the same problem all the time. America’s decrepit duopoly has no problem giving pandemic assistance to corporations like: Airlines, who used the money for stock buybacks; or Telecoms, who proceeded to fire workers anyway; of even “prosperity preachers” like Joel Osteen – #WTAFamilyBlog. But giving money to individual Americans in desperate need?!!! Via a Basic Income allowance for the duration of the pandemic or during intense surges?? Aww hell no … two or three measly checks. A pittance – followed by a litany of lame ass excuses:

      How are we going to pay for it?!!
      Joe and Kyrsten won’t let us!
      Or mind that inflation from King Crapaud Larry Summers!!!

      All of it pure BS and an act of violence to working people and their families.

          1. chris

            Yeah, there’s a new villain of the week with these hapless Dems.

            It’s like finding out the people who have been telling you they can’t do something because their hands are tied have a binding fetish and get off on being tied up.

    1. Soredemos

      “One of the great creative talents of our time”

      What a damning indictment of the declining Pax Americana.

    2. marym

      And now, to celebrate The Worst Attack on Our Democracy™ Since Fort Sumter!!! some show tunes, followed by light refreshments in the lobby.

    3. Duke of Prunes

      All the more cringy because I also suspect these guys are lip-synching… At least none of my Zoom calls have such pristine audio.

  3. ChrisFromGeorgia

    I think it is GA that has failed to report case data. The last update appears to have been Jan 4.

    The county I live in has an astonishing 53% positive rate on PCR tests.

    So a big catchup data dump is coming, presuming that the state DPH hasn’t collapsed.

  4. antidlc


    Biden, in Shift, Prepares Americans to See Covid-19 as Part of Life
    Before Omicron surge, president said in July the nation was ‘closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus’

    As Covid-19 cases climb across the U.S., President Biden and his administration are preparing Americans to accept the virus as a part of daily life, in a break from a year ago when he took office with a pledge to rein in the pandemic and months later said the nation was “closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus.”

    1,786 Covid deaths on January 4.

    Yeah, Joe, we are just supposed to “accept the virus as a part of daily life”. We are just supposed to accept 1,786 deaths in one day. How many deaths are we supposed to accept, Joe?

    1. TBellT

      I mean that’s a little over 50% of the worst peak, which Americans blew off for more of their partisan bullshit. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

      From last month : Earlier this week, the journalist Matthew Walther argued in The Atlantic that many Americans do not care about COVID. This, sadly, is true. But it’s also callous. What it really means is that many Americans don’t care about the people who have died from COVID, and who will keep dying of COVID.

      I maintain that this nonchalance will persist with Omicron.

      1. ambrit

        I’ll counter with; “It’s going to get worse, and stay bad.”
        Many people in America show a callous attitude towards Covid sufferers because, they have been told that it is all right to do so by their ‘Elites.’
        Because of the messaging, this nonchalance will continue until civil society breaks down. Then the messaging will no longer matter. We will have much more important things to worry about.
        “They” think that Jan. 6 was bad? Wait until the mobs start to ransack the Amazon “Fulfillment Centres.”

        1. TBellT

          they have been told that it is all right to do so by their ‘Elites.’

          If they can be convinced that “1 in 400 deaths” and more disabled is no matter by the ‘Elites’, I think you have to second guess how strong their conscience was in the first place.

          Anyway you’re right, I should have framed as “To get better it will have to get worse first”, it’s a necessary but not sufficient condition.

          1. ambrit

            I wonder just how “far afield” an individual’s ‘conscience’ goes. I have read that the family and kinship clan circles are the ‘natural’ extent of the effective reach of compassion. Those who show compassion to strangers are noteworthy because of how rare such a circumstance is. Thus, the extent to which “strangers” can be ‘othered’ by Elite messaging will generally determine the extent of active social compassion or lack thereof.
            I imagine that social relations are precisely that, social, and not individualistic. The real danger inherent in social relations is tribalism. Alas, we have a surfeit of tribalism today, and, dare I say it, by Elite design.

    2. deplorado

      Also, I always wonder, how do they (“they”) know that each positive test result is “Omicron” in this… surge? All I see is someone taking a swab. What happens in the lab after that – how are labs equipped to detect “Omicron”? Given that logistics around ANYTHING related to Covid have proven a challenge worldwide, how the h*ll are labs again WORLDWIDE able so quickly able to retool for detecting “Omicron”? Downloading a software patch? Mixing up a new reagent? Looking harder into the microscope? How?? Is it all just “science”?

      And, the rapid take home tests, do they have a screen that says “Oops, you have Omicron, or Delta, or original corona”? No they don’t…

      Can anyone please elucidate on this? I don’t watch tv so I don’t know.

        1. deplorado

          I think someone should look into how test labs worldwide, in the most diverse of all kinds of conditions, are able to quickly tool up for detecting new Covid strains. To me, this is likely something of mind boggling logistical proportions to execute timely and accurately to keep all labs in sync. We are not seeing it with anything else around covid. But all of a sudden when a new strain is announced, everyone everywhere is able to detect it within days. How in the world does that happen?? A quick google search returns nothing relevant (except new variant detected in France…)

          Lambert? You would be my hope to do a deep dive on this topic.

          1. deplorado

            Hahaha… look at what google dragged home: WEF explains how new strains are detected! Wow, wouldnt you know it, WEF has thought of answering all our questions!


            This is the closest the article gets to the actual “how”. But that’s it – the rest is fluff:

            “Staff at local ‘lighthouse’ labs, where thousands of samples a day are tested, noticed a problem. Their tests were failing to pick up a gene which they expected to see. In fact, the missing gene turned out to be characteristic of the new COVID variant.

            “Initially they thought there was an issue with the test. It wasn’t working, and the rate at which it wasn’t working was increasing very steeply,” said Dr Chand. “Identifying cases through the lighthouse labs was a huge leap ahead.”

            Not least because whole genome sequencing takes time, and it quickly became clear that the new variant was spreading rapidly.”

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      This has been my question for a while. What if the death rate from Covid was 5 times what it is? 10 times? What if it killed 25% of those who caught it? What would the ‘conomy do then? Could our society actually make an adjustment even in those apocalyptic conditions?

      We don’t look up because what we’d see would be too terrible.

  5. upstater

    You gotta love those Emanuel boys!

    Advisers to Biden Transition Team Call for Entirely New Domestic Covid Strategy

    On the day President Biden was inaugurated, the advisory board of health experts who counseled him during the presidential transition officially ceased to exist. But its members have quietly continued to meet regularly over Zoom, their conversations often turning to frustration with Mr. Biden’s coronavirus response.

    Now, six of these former advisers have gone public with an extraordinary, albeit polite, critique — and a plea to be heard. In three opinion articles published on Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, they are calling for Mr. Biden to adopt an entirely new domestic pandemic strategy — one that is geared to the “new normal” of living with the virus indefinitely, not to wiping it out.

    The authors are all big names in American medicine; several, including Dr. Luciana Borio, a former acting chief scientist at the Food and Drug Administration and Dr. David Michaels, a former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, have held high-ranking government positions. The driving force behind the articles is Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist, medical ethicist and University of Pennsylvania professor who advised former President Barack Obama.

    This guy is 64 years old… waiting for 11 years from now when he’ll self-euthanize.

    1. Basil Pesto

      Now, six of these former advisers have gone public with an extraordinary, albeit polite, critique — and a plea to be heard. In three opinion articles published on Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, they are calling for Mr. Biden to adopt an entirely new domestic pandemic strategy — one that is geared to the “new normal” of living with the virus indefinitely, not to wiping it out.

      That… that’s what they’ve been doing. America has not pursued the latter at any point. What are they talking about?

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Starting 11 years from now, wouldn’t it be neat if thousands of fans mailed him thousands of cyanide capsules?

  6. Joe Renter

    Exceptional post today, Lambert. I will kick down some coin when the “man” does.

  7. Hepativore

    I take it that the Democratic Party strategy for the 2022 midterms and the 2024 presidential election is to go all out on the January 6th rhetoric, then? They certainly cannot point to their list of glowing policy accomplishments.

    It is clear Biden’s job was that of a placeholder president. His job was to be the reasonable-sounding figurehead “in charge” while the kleptocrats that actually run things bail out the back door with the loot.

    1. curlydan

      The Democrats continue their “I’m not him” campaign strategy. Wasn’t that Obama’s strategy in the 2008 general election? He wasn’t Bush, and people thought he was kind of cool. That’s about all that was needed.

      1. Jerk

        Obama also made a bunch of promises about how he was going to fix things, then democrats did nothing but make excuses about why they couldn’t fix those things they promised to fix.

        Then Trump got elected, somehow.

      2. John

        Other than the blessed absence of our former dear leader’s constant, “Look at me.” Look at me.”, nothing has fundamentally changed. The scam defense budget is larger. Nothing that is desired by the people at large can get through congress. There is not a hint of a wish of a desire to actually do the hard things that need to be done to stem the on rushing climatic catastrophe. (And there is Joe Manchin to blame for all of it.) I shall feel a ray of hope for a less than dystopic future if only, as was once the case, there was the prospect of adults being in charge.

        Were I looking at the USA from Moscow or Beijing, I would sit back and watch us blindly destroy ourselves.

    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      Biden was supposed to the the grandfatherly not-Trump who wouldn’t say mean things on the Twitter and everyone could go back to brunch. But how rude of all these plebes who keep getting Covid! All they ever had was “we’re the only thing between you and the deplorables” even though they promised nothing would fundamentally change. If Jan 6th hadn’t happened, the Dems would have needed to invent it, though I am skeptical anyone not already voting blue no matter who really cares. If Trump doesn’t run again in 2024, they literally have nothing.

        1. albrt

          The more interesting question is whether anyone can make a plausible argument that the Democrat party is not in full Whig mode.

  8. RockHard

    In addition to the 1/6 coverage on here, I’d like to point out that Karl Rove has an opinion piece in the WSJ today. The crux of his piece starts here:

    So, on this anniversary, here’s a simple thought experiment: What if the other side had done it? What if in early January 2017, Democrats similarly attired and armed had stormed the Capitol and attempted to keep Congress from receiving the Electoral College results for the 2016 presidential election?

    Which is a good point that might have been a little more pointed if he framed this around the 2000 election result for contrast. That said, what’s really going on is in the first half:

    I’m addressing squarely those Republicans who for a year have excused the actions of the rioters who stormed the Capitol, disrupted Congress as it received the Electoral College’s results, and violently attempted to overturn the election.

    In other words, he’s going after the new GOP. There are many currents running right now, one is the GOP old guard vs. the new GOP establishment.

  9. jim b

    Pandemics are hard. They’re harder when management does not understand how to exchange money for goods & services.

    As an anecdote, I have heard of more than a few nurses recently who will call off sick at one hospital so that they can work as a traveler at a different nearby hospital–at nearly twice the hourly rate.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      from further down that tweetthread:
      “Ours asked us as well and then ppl complained and they changed it to paid, but not overtime. So now the national guard is here”

      a western haiku?

      i check on the 3 banty hens setting on their clutches,
      morning and night, and think:
      “future dinner on the hoof”.
      for when the trucks can’t get through.

  10. ptb

    Re: ‘bipartisan’ Senate election reform group

    With 4 Republicans, 2 DINO’s and whatever category Shaheen is … I think it says something about where the power lies in the Senate

  11. Carolinian

    re Pelosi’s outrage theater–makes me want to vote Republican (but I won’t). Clearly the Dem playbook is the same as all negative campaigning: suppress turnout to the point that they’ll have the majority. In order to be the lesser evil you need to sell evil 24/7. This is their version of “democracy.”

    FDR, who had genuine, huge majorities didn’t have to fake it.

    1. Ranger Rick

      It took a riot at the Capitol and the concomitant struggle for certification of election results (the “process being interfered with” that so outrages the process obsessed) for the Democratic Party to realize — if by Democratic Party you mean media op-eds — they’ve been asleep at the wheel for over 20 years and became a party of the cities while the state legislatures were handed almost by default to Republican Party candidates running unopposed or functionally so (see also the Clintonian raid of state Democratic Party funds in 2016). They came pretty damn close to becoming powerless in the face of an opposition that not only had the votes but was in charge of counting them.

      I mean, don’t let a good crisis go to waste and all, but they’re a little late in the game to be crying foul over their own strategies. Like Lambert likes to point out, it’s a headfake until they actually do something about it.

      1. Carolinian

        One new poll has Biden at 35 percent. Here’s suggesting the current attempt to crank up the TDS is as clueless as it gets.

        Lambert quotes Madison at the top of the page. I’ve just been reading a book about him and while he agreed with his fellow rich people that the tiller of state should not be turned over directly to the masses, he did not agree with Hamilton’s view that the masses didn’t matter. He thought people of property should guard the interests of everyone and construct a social contract. The Dems’ current divide and conquer is the opposite of what he wanted.

  12. Jason Boxman


    On the day President Biden was inaugurated, the advisory board of health experts who counseled him during the presidential transition officially ceased to exist. But its members have quietly continued to meet regularly over Zoom, their conversations often turning to frustration with Mr. Biden’s coronavirus response.

    Now, six of these former advisers have gone public with an extraordinary, albeit polite, critique — and a plea to be heard. In three opinion articles published on Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, they are calling for Mr. Biden to adopt an entirely new domestic pandemic strategy — one that is geared to the “new normal” of living with the virus indefinitely, not to wiping it out.

    How is this different than the strategy that Biden is pursuing, exactly?

    They call for every person in the United States to have access to low-cost testing, saying the Biden administration’s purchase of 500 million rapid tests is not enough; for next-generation Covid vaccines that would target new variants or perhaps take new forms, like nasal sprays or skin patches; for a “universal coronavirus vaccine” that would combat all known coronaviruses, and for major upgrades to public health infrastructure.

    The authors also said that vaccine mandates should be imposed more broadly, including for schoolchildren, and that N95 masks should be made free and readily available to all Americans, as should oral treatments for Covid. (Mr. Biden has ordered several vaccine mandates on workers, but they are tied up in court.) The authors called, as well, for a broad “electronic vaccine certification platform,” which Mr. Biden has resisted.

    But regardless of the headline written, there does seem to be some sensible recommendations in here beyond just vaccines, vaccines, only vaccines. Although it is still mostly just vaccines!

    In any case, at this point, given the dearth of deaths and the “mildness” of Omicron, baring any new dangerous developments, I expect this year for liberal Democrats to declare the pandemic behind us, in practice if not by proclamation. We already have the CDC shortening quarantines at the behest of Delta, with no exit gating (testing) at all after 5 days.

    This doubtless will be a debacle, as the entire handing of the pandemic in the United States has been, with perhaps the exception of Trump using the power of the state to expedite vaccine development. We’re providing ample opportunity to seed a new, deadlier variant at some future time, to say nothing of the legacy of long-COVID, the complete contours of which will only become apparent long after this crop of buffoons leave power for a (another) rotation in the private sector.

    I ordered duck-bill N95s from ProjectN95, but they won’t be here until next week. We’ll see how that goes.

  13. clarky90

    Re; “Recalling Jan. 6: A national day of infamy……..


    N.I. Bukharin’s Last Plea
    before the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R.,
    Moscow, March 12, Evening session, 1938

    Nikolaj Bukharin (born1888- executed1938). Between 1918 and 1929 he was the chief editor of the newspaper Pravda. He was also one of the founders of the Third International (Komintern).

    (Bukharin addressing the Court;)

    “…When, at the end of the preliminary investigation, I was summoned for interrogation to the State Prosecutor, who controlled the sum total of the materials of the investigation, he summarized them as follows (Vol. V, p. 114, December 1, 1937):

    First Question: Were you a member of the centre of the counter-revolutionary organizatlon of the Right?

    I answered: “Yes, I admit it”.

    Second question: Do you admit that the centre ot the anti-Soviet organization, of which you are a member, engaged in counter-revolutionary activities and set itself the aim of violently overthrowing the leadership of the Party and the government?

    I answered: “Yes, I admit it.”

    Third question: Do you admit that this centre engaged in terrorist activities, organized kulak uprisings and prepared for Whiteguard kulak uprisings against members of the Political Bureau, against the leadership of the Party and the Soviet power?

    I answered: “It is true”.

    Fourth question: Do you admit that you are guilty of treasonable activities, as expressed in preparations for a conspiracy aiming at a coup d’état?

    I answered: “Yes, that is also true.”

    …. I declared also in Court, and I stress and repeat it now, that I regard myself politically responsible for the sum total of the crimes committed by the ”bloc of Right and Trotskyites.”

    I have merited the most severe punishment, and I agree with Citizen the Procurator, who several times repeated that I stand on the threshold of my hour of death.

    … it was not the naked logic of the struggle that drove us, the counter revolutlonary conspirators, into this stinking underground life, which has been exposed at this trial in all its starkness. This naked logic of the struggle was accompanied by a degeneration of ideas, a degeneratlon of psychology. a degeneration of ourselves, a degeneration of people. There are well-known historical examples of such degeneration. One need only mention Briand, Mussolini and others. And we too degenerated, and this brought us into a camp which in its views and features was very much akin to a kulak praetorian fascism. ……

  14. Lee

    From an adjacent county:

    West Contra Costa
    Unified School District

    “[Covid cases are] putting an immense strain on our system. The rapid spread of the virus requires an aggressive response to ensure safety. To alleviate some of the pressure and allow more time for those in our community who are out sick to heal, I am announcing that we will have two “smoke days”* coming up, on Friday, January 7 and Monday, January 10.

    “All district schools will be closed for students and staff on both of these days. These are flexible days off the state allows us to use at our discretion. All schools will undergo a deep cleaning on Friday, January 7; all schools and district offices as well will be closed on Monday, January 10.

    The safety of our students and staff is our top priority, and closing school to prevent further outbreaks is an action we take very seriously and will only do when it is absolutely necessary. I do encourage all of our students and staff to quarantine as much as possible during the smoke days.”

    *Smoke days due to wildfires in the hinterland are here in the SF bay area like snow days in colder climes. Except it’s easier to breathe when its snowy.

    Why they don’t call these shutdowns Covid days, I know not. I went to the school district’s website and searched “ventilation”. They upgraded the schools’ ventilation systems with HEPA filters last August with both smoke and aerosolized viral particles in mind. Good for them but given the current outbreak maybe they’re going to need to upgrade the upgrades.

  15. RockHard

    “How the pandemic made hotel housekeeping more difficult — and disgusting”

    What I’m positive of is that despite most hotels being owned by a handful of corporations, the guests leaving the rooms in this state will have absolutely no problem renting a room again and won’t pay an additional dime in damages. Why piss off a paying customer when you have a disposable cleaning staff?

    1. Tom Doak

      I was surprised at this article, thinking that letting housekeepers not tidy up my room every day was better for both of us from a COVID-infection standpoint, and also that I can leave my computer or other personal items in my room without worrying about them.

      Doesn’t matter which day the customer spreads feces on the wall, it’s still a mess to clean up, anyway.

  16. Lee

    Re northern saw-whet owl cry:

    “I wouldn’t want to hear that cry if I were a small creature in the night….”

    Given that owls are specially equipped for silent flight, it’s the the owl that one does not hear that is to be feared.

  17. amechania


    How square enix is going to use ‘tokens’ (sorry, money! /s) to incentivize and control the now independent video game modding community (which operates on good will and shared interest) to create a ‘space’ where they can just own an intellecutal property and stand back and profit.

    Company president openly mocks people for playing games ‘just for fun’ Wow.

    Oh, and thanks for highlighting the log scale on the covid death numbers. I just couldn’t understand it without. *note* the ‘kerfuffle on the left’ chart is gone.

    Don’t work too hard. Double thanks for the arrow highlighting the annotation to the Boston Wastewater chart. Transparency!

    1. The Rev Kev

      I am absolutely positive that the sort of “games” that he would like to see introduced would be almost zero fun and will be boycotted by players. This would not be a game that he is talking about. It would be a financial money-making program with the resemblance to a game bolted onto it.

    1. jimmy cc

      I took it as the rioter was asking why they were letting the certification happen, not the riot.

        1. jimmy cc

          must of been a different clip that I saw.

          i couldnt get on twatter.

          but yes, he apparently didn’t get the memo

    2. tegnost

      From this mornings link to seattle police/proud boys…

      “The 8 June radio chatter was part of an approved “misinformation effort” that police leaders knew about”

      I’m a bit surprised at the publication of this story on this day of infamy…
      but not that the 2 officers in charge have since left the building, probably “failing” upward

  18. fresno dan


    Biden: He’s done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interest as more important than his country’s interest, than America’s interest. And because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution.

    So….I could make the same points about a female presidential candidate in 2016 – lets replace male pronouns with female pronouns and see how it reads:
    She’s done so because she values power over principle, because she sees her own interest as more important than her country’s interest, than America’s interest. And because her bruised ego matters more to her than our democracy or our Constitution.
    What is truly dangerous, is that she didn’t do it alone. Both groups tried to overturn an election.
    Considering the high officials in the CIA, FBI, and DoJ on board with the attempt, one could argue (persuasively IMHO) that the Clinton attempt to negate an election was in fact the more serious and thought out attempt at overturing an election.
    Now as cynical as I am (who, me?) the fact is that according to the rather byzantine electoral college, Trump won by the rules and became president. And in the next election, Biden won by the rules as well and became president. So the system worked….
    Now I return to cynicism – but that is the problem Bozos in, Bozos out….
    In this country, Biden and Trump are the best we can do?????????????????????????????????????

    1. lambert strether

      At least QAnon shaman didn’t try to create a casus belli with a nuclear power, unlike Clinton’s clown show.

    2. John

      Unfortunately, your comment is found in the, as a former colleague used to say sarcastically, D.O.P.O…. Department of the Painfully Obvious. The petulance in 2016 differed from 2020 only in degree and I fear both normalize, set precedents, for similar foolishness in the future. If one must get in the contest, one needs to have considered the possibility of defeat. If you can’t handle the outcome,perhaps you are not ujp to the office either.

      1. Harold

        Precedent of shameless overt meddling with establishment collusion arguably was set by George Bush vs Gore, though perhaps there were other, more discrete occasions of meddling in previous years that we suspect but don’t as yet definitively know about.

    3. rowlf

      I agree with your 2016 point, but for the 2020 point, isn’t there a department in the US government that works to try to get the correct person elected in other country’s elections? What if they used their experience and resources domestically after the 2016 embarrassment?

        1. ambrit

          The CIA is not a monolithic entity. From what I have read, it is a congeries of competing compradores. So, the CIA as an organization cannot be “loyal” to anyone or anything. Individual CIA apparatchiks can show loyalty, but not necessarily be loyal.
          As with so much in America today, the CIA’s actions seem to be predicated upon individual self interest.

    4. griffen

      Now, there you go. The Ascendant Coalition of Clowns is going to be reacting to your unfavorable depiction of Bozo the Clown. The executive offices will produce a response shortly, belying the attempt to associate Bozo with the politicians of the day. Clowns have standards. \sarc

      I don’t often choose to read Salon, but that is a really important play for state legislatures. In my native home state, North Carolina, I believe the redistricting has been pretty aggressive. And there is some really deep funding for the republican agenda that derives from Raleigh. I can’t cite specific examples, but rely on what immediate family tell.

  19. Katy

    The Democrats are itching to lose the midterms. They are going to take full credit for making students go back to debt servitude.

    Email that I received from Dep’t of Ed on 9/4/2020:

    “On Aug. 8, 2020, President Trump extended the 0% student loan interest rate and suspension of payments on federal student loans owned by the Department of Education (ED) until Dec. 31, 2020. What does this mean? You are not required to make payments on ED-owned loans until Jan. 1, 2021, and no interest will accumulate.”

    Email from Dep’t of Ed received yesterday:

    “Your current federal student loan flexibilities have been extended. The current 0% student loan interest rate and payment pause on federal student loans owned by the Department of Education (ED) will now continue through May 1, 2022. Visit StudentAid.gov/coronavirus regularly for the latest information on these flexibilities and when they are scheduled to end.”

    Thanks, Joe!

  20. Watt4Bob

    States punish insurrectionists both as a signal that sedition won’t be tolerated and to take specific dangerous figures out of play.

    Tell that to Smedley Butler.

    There is precedent for allowing the elite organizers of attempted coup-de-tats go unpunished in Amerika.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I suspect that they were not prosecuted so that they would owe ‘markers’ to FDR down the track for stuff that he wanted to see done without their opposition. Probably the same was true also for Prescott Bush for trading with Germany, even after war had been declared against the US by Germany. Treason can be forgiven when you are powerful enough. But whistle-blowing never is.

    1. Harold

      She is weighing the value of pearls, and behind her is a partially obscured picture of the last judgment, in which Christ is weighing the destiny of souls. According to the website of the National Gallery of Art, the painting seems to refer to Saint Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises, in which the faithful, prior to meditating, are admonished to examine their souls daily and weigh their sins as though they were facing judgement day. “Only such introspection could lead to virtuous choices along the path of life.” The balance scale is the allegory of temperance and moderation. “The woman is poised between earthly treasures of gold and pearls and a visual reminder of the eternal consequences of her actions.”

  21. Joe Well

    Re: covid

    I’m back in downtown Boston today and the proportion of people wearing N95 or KN95 masks has gone up dramatically. Still less than half, but they are a common sight now. Mask compliance also seems to be way up, well past 90% in the downtown area and past 95% on trains.

    I’m at a Wework which might seem crazy, but I plan my day to go after 4pm. Being inside a mostly empty cavernous space while wearing a verified KN95 mask seems pretty safe even if kind of eerie. My mental health will not survive looking at the same four walls any longer.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Medical facility in my region (oncology clinic, of all places, dealing with loads of immunocompromised patients) still has surgical procedure masks on all staff, from the lowest support person to the top regionally renowned physician.

      Inquiring, delicately, of the infusion nurses, by decree from above the N95s are reserved for use around high-risk patients. They gladly received a case of 3M N95s that I brought; they’re being taken home for use in the community, which I guess is better than a poke in the eye.

      I’m guessing that the bean counters haven’t heard of “asymptomatic spread”. But no worries, they can move staff between facilities if individual workers get ill and there’s unlikely to be a simultaneous outbreak at all sites.

      I think it has been said that companies thrive or die at the margin, so I guess the marginal savings of not using N95s for routine protection is making a crucial contribution to the success of this enterprise.

    2. chris

      I was there yesterday. Doing work in a building off State Street. The whole place was eerily quiet. Almost no one walking around. The places I went to eat were really understaffed.

        1. chris

          No idea. But the buildings I was in to do inspections were populated by ghosts. Maybe 2 people per floor in some buildings with 30 – 40 floors.

  22. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” It really wouldn’t have taken a lot of effort to turn the mask situation around.”

    Well, yes it would. In fact, after Trump and the TrumpAdmin made masks a symbol of unfreedom, slavery, cultural liberalism, effeminate unmanliness, and non-membership in the Trumpanon Cult, the tens of millions of members of the Jonestown Trumpanon cult became a lost cause and will remain a lost cause as long as they live.

    If Fauci and the CDC and the WHO had not lied about masks right at the start; masking might have become so deeply entrenched that Trump would only have been able to spread anti-masking to a much smaller hard core. But because Fauci and all the rest did lie ( because, in my opinion, of a secret agenda to spread the disease to every person on earth on purpose), momentum was destroyed and “turning it around” was made impossible. And remains so today and for years to come.

    So the “I don’t want to get sick” community is alone and besieged in a sea of Typhoid Mary MAGAs and also supercilious elitist liberals who were carefully informed on purpose with malicious intent by Fauci and the rest that the mRNA para-vaccinoid made them immune and who therefor also boycott mask-wearing for the most part.

    So we are left to do the best we can on our own, including by creating a special place on this blog hopefully so that life-and-death information about staying uninfected if possible and less-diseased-if-infected can be brought to that one place for readers to find and perhaps save their own lives with.

    In the teeth of a civilization and a culture determined to make everyone sick if possible.

  23. deplorado

    Something I’d want to ask around the water cooler… something that’s been gnawing at me – please help with your knowledge if you can:

    A close family member was diagnosed with breast cancer recently, stage 2A, grade 3 (reached lymph nodes). Chemo is about to be scheduled. The family member is told by treating oncologist that chemo drops the chance of developing life-threatening cancer from 25% to 20%. With cancer drugs, another 5% improvement can be eked out. We researched and couldn’t find anything definitively explaining the effectiveness of chemo. Is that all it can do – dropping the risk statistic from 25% to 20%? It’s better than nothing — but consider the cost (possible long term damage among other severe unpleasantries), and consider that, if, for example, “the covid vaccines” claimed to have 5% effectiveness, no one would care to take them, or any drug with 5% effectiveness probably would not have much market. But chemo is a major industry… There are even tv shows where the people turn into drug dealers to be able to afford chemo…(Breaking Bad), so it must be because it really works right??

    So my plea here is – hopefully there are oncologists among the commentariat who want to do this important public service – can someone provide more context into 1) is that really true, that 5% is all chemo can do, and 2) why is the fact that chemo is not much effective not widely known, while quite the opposite is the general public perception (at least mine was) – that you suffer THROUGH chemo BECAUSE it is effective. Are we victims of marketing and shallow popular culture once more in this life and death area?

    Amfortas, what are your thoughts on this?

    Thanks to all who might respond.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      lots of variables involved: type of cancer…and not just colon, breast, etc…but which part of the dna has mutated t cause the problem.
      (wife’s is colon, and K-Ras)wife did a full course of folfox, then folfury, and now is on trifluridine(sp-2).
      the first 2 are “chemo”, and they selectively “attack” fast growing cells systemically…cancer, but also the inside of yer mouth, hair follicles, bottom of yer feet, lining of yer gut, etc…hence the side effects.(which in our case, were pretty manageable)
      the last one, if i understand it properly, “attacks”, instead, the specific mutation.
      we’ll know how it’s working after the scan at the end of the month….blood markers look good, buy they’re a dirty lens.
      short answer to the specific question: yes, it’s worth it.
      medicaid, so far, has covered everything…special dispensation for Cancer, it seems.(we’re in texas, where the poor must be punished and suffering is an income stream)

      i feel for you and yours…cancer is a bitch, and i wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
      the initial, emergency phase, was the worst…then you settle into a groove, and get sort of used to the existential threat hanging over you every day….which feels weird to say, but it’s true.
      my biggest job during all this is being there: driving, sleeping in the chair in the hospital room, being shrink/priest/shaman, etc.
      second biggest job is being the translator: doctorese into common english, for wife and boys as well as for the rest of the familia.
      good luck, and remember that attitude matters a lot.
      as with so many life issues, i recommend Marcus Aurelius.
      and if that takes, Boethius.
      Ram Dass, is pretty applicable, too , cf: “Fierce Grace”.

      1. deplorado

        Thank you, Amfortas. Much appreciated. You are a good man.

        (Will check out Boethius, that would be new. Love the ancients.)

    2. stefan

      Dear deplorado,
      I am not an oncologist. (My son is and he is a world expert in cancer diagnosis, but he is in Sweden. You can learn about the company he founded at http://www.sagadiagnostics.com. Since he lives in Sweden, he will probably not be able to help you, and I have not asked him about your questions.)

      The points I am about to make are based on my experience as my son’s father and caregiver when he himself was treated for cancer as a teenager for five years, thirty years ago.

      1. It is important that you feel comfortable with and trust the medical treatment you are getting. You should always feel free to seek out additional opinions from other doctors. Also, if you have not begun treatment, there may be clinical trials available that are testing new, advanced therapies that are free of charge.
      2. You should speak with your doctor in order to have your questions answered. And if you don’t understand at first, ask for more explanation until you feel like you do understand.
      3. Because doctors are so busy, you should write your questions down in advance, so that you remember what you want to ask when the face-to-face opportunity arises. Keep a journal.
      4. Whenever possible, a caregiver should accompany a patient to every doctor visit and procedure. (Two heads are better than one.)
      5.There are many, many types of breast cancer, depending on the genetics of what has gone wrong. Different genetics call for different treatment plans and have a wide range of prognoses. Other individual factors (patient age, general health, etc.) play a large role in treatment too, of course. So, what a treatment can do depends on a complex combination of highly specific factors. Every person is a unique individual on a unique personal path.

      I know this doesn’t really answer your questions. But that is what your doctor is for. Please understand that the path you are about to embark upon is arduous, but it will also be rewarding, a time that will bring you closer to loved ones and to new and marvelous people.

      1. deplorado

        Thank you, Stefan, for the perspective and the company link. I looked at the website, will share with the family.

    3. Ray le Fay

      My mom (then 65 years old) was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in December 2019. She went through a year or so of rounds of chemo and radiation, then had the lump removed. At this time she is feeling well and back to her old self.

      1. deplorado

        Thank you, Ray. In our case lumpectomy was done first, and now they are scheduling chemo. Good to have this information. Thank you.

        1. Harold

          I think the prognosis for stage two cancer after treatment is pretty good in the aggregate. (I too am close to someone undergoing treatment.) They have made great advances just in recent years. Obviously every individual case is different as others have stressed. As I understand it, though, they measure the efficacy of treatments by percentage of patients alive after five and then ten years. By pretty good I mean in the 90 +% after 10 years. But you need to talk to a specialist who is familiar with your specific case. That said, I am very sorry that protocol calls for her to have to endure chemo. Sigh.

  24. Samuel Conner

    Poking around this page (county prevalence estimates)


    There’s a clear correlation (within regions) between (eyeball estimates) population density and CV case prevalence. The prevalence is astonishingly high, 5%, in some really high density places (NYC and suburbs, or Miami-Dade, for example).

    In Florida, there’s around a 20 fold contrast in prevalence between the highest prevalence (and high people density) counties and hinterland counties with much lower population density. In New York State, the contrast is lower, about 4-fold between upstate and NYC.

    (It will be pointed out, rightly I’m sure, that the high density counties tend to have large conurbations with large airports. I don’t think that overthrows the next question)

    What I’m wondering is whether this contrast is due to Omicron not having yet penetrated pervasively into lower density counties, or whether the effect is simply a population-density effect on how prevalent Omicron becomes. It might be a bit of both, but if it’s mostly the former, there might be a significant ‘upside’ to the case count trajectory in low density regions (and as these tend to have more fragile health care systems, there might be significant disparate impacts in comparison with the urban regions).

    Is there much information on Omicron prevalence in different regions?

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      anecdata: my county is 100 miles from big cities, and population 4500. we have a clinic. national guard came to do initial vax.
      took a while for the initial wave to penetrate way out here(first, was those who could afford to go to the houston stockshow, notably)..
      same with the subsequent waves.
      initial wave may have been delayed further my mask mandates, however poorly enforced.
      now, hardly any masks…and they’re well and truly like wearing a chinese flag shirt.
      i had to do a town run, today…feedstore, propane, light MIL’s heater, post office, milk, etc…went 6 places.
      3 people besides us wearing masks.
      at feedstore, got the stinkeye from large farmer types, guffawing into each others’ faces about the deer that got away, etc.
      based on all that and what i’m hearing on the scanner, and brief conversation with retired pharmacist while getting a booster, we’re already well into the hyperspread phase.
      took less than a month, this time.

      1. JBird4049

        I said it before and I will say it again: I just don’t get using masks, or anything like disease prevention or treatment like vaccines, as some social marker or virtue signal. It’s beyond foolish or stupid. It is madness.

        1. Samuel Conner

          > It is madness.

          Yes. With all due respect to Dr Malone (and I’m not sure how much is due), there is ‘mass psychosis formation’ at work on his side of the argument, too.

          But there’s also madness in medical institutions — not ‘virtue signalling’ but ‘marginal cost control’ –, which in my observation (Yves reports this too) are relying on surgical procedure masks rather than N95 respirators to protect staff.

          And the case I have observed, the staff know that their safety is being compromised.

  25. Pelham

    Does Teixera’s “coalition of the ascendant” theory differ in any significant way from the right wing’s replacement theory? If the two are truly not basically identical, I’m thinking it’s still reasonable for some of what we might call the “basket of descendants” to conclude otherwise.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      That’s an interesting point, and one I never thought to think of.

      But of course ” Coalition of the Ascendant” would sound to its targets like ” Yes, we will replace you. And dominate you too”.

      Coalition of the New Deal was a better coalition and more potentially equal-joining opportunity. If it is not decades too late from a psycho-cultural standpoint, a Coalition of the Newer Deal or a Coalition of Renew the Deal would still be a better coalition to pursue than Coalition of the Ascendant.

  26. The Rev Kev

    ‘When Adolf Hitler attempted a putsch in 1923, for instance, he got off with a slap on the wrist thanks to a sympathetic right-wing judge.’

    To rip off the words of a Czech comedian, the British could have told the Germans that it does not pay to stray too far from traditions. So this was also apparent when Adolf become a German citizen. Normally in such a ceremony, the new subject swears loyalty to their new country. In Adolf’s case, it was the country that swore loyalty to the new subject. It does not pay to stray too far from traditions.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The old way is kept alive on life-support by various hobby groups. Perhaps some old ways can be rolled back out again, if customers are willing to pay more for what they make and/or do without coal, gas and oil.
      That’s the best we can hope for as long as the merchants of fossil own the government and the MSM. That BetterCulture people will quietly show their cultural superiority to eachother for eachother to be able to spot eachother in the oil-soaked crowd by what they do and do not have, buy, do , etc.

      Maybe members of the embryonic BetterCulture should live like the elitny referred to in this Mark Ames article, Elite versus Elitny, and stop trying to help people who resent the help and reject the help.

  27. Jason Boxman

    How about that. After a year of blowing off women, maybe this was true after all:

    An analysis of thousands of menstrual records offers support for anecdotal reports of erratic cycles after shots.

    A study published on Thursday found that women’s menstrual cycles did indeed change following vaccination against the coronavirus. The authors reported that women who were inoculated had slightly longer menstrual cycles after receiving the vaccine than those who were not vaccinated.

    The public health establishment continues to discredit itself.

    The study, in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, is one of the first to support anecdotal reports from women that their menstrual cycles were off after vaccination, said Dr. Hugh Taylor, the chair of the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine.

    “It validates that there is something real here,” said Dr. Taylor, who has heard about irregular cycles from his own patients.

    At the same time, he added, the changes seen in the study were not significant and appeared to be transient.

    “I want to make sure we dissuade people from those untrue myths out there about fertility effects,” Dr. Taylor said. “A cycle or two where periods are thrown off may be annoying, but it’s not going to be harmful in a medical way.”

    Well, it might be a big deal to those who have menstrual cycles. Just sayin’. Particularly when you’re told it isn’t happening, and you’re moody and don’t understand your own body.

    Researchers looked at records from nearly 4,000 women who had meticulously tracked their menstruation in real time, including about 2,400 who were vaccinated against the coronavirus and about 1,550 who were not. All were U.S. residents aged 18 to 45 who had logged their periods for at least six months.

    Well, gee, if only we had a functional health care system, we’d have records for millions of women. Instead, we’ll have to wait for other papers from the UK or Israel.

  28. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here’s a little video from the “facepalm” subreddit, of a bunch of hip, groovy young people in an airplane all going aggressively maskless and functioning as a potential covid cuddle puddle. The caption says when the airline found out about it, thanks to the magic of social media, the airline cancelled their return tickets. ( Maybe the airline company will share their identy with all the means of transport back out of America (( I assume)) back to Canada so those means can also deny them tickets to get back. Let them walk back to Quebec. Maybe they will learn something.

    These people are not MAGAs or ideology-based Mask Freedom Rebels. These people represent the “other half of the problem” and are also a part of why I won’t fly for years or maybe ever, among other things.

    Here is the link.

  29. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is a post from the antiwork subreddit from someone who went to a police academy, became disillusioned, and left.

    He describes how police academies train police to do exactly what they are doing to people and how it is not a “failure” of training. It is a success of training designed to train exactly the behavior and approach being trained for, and succeeding at it.

    Police “reform” will have to start with abolishing police unions and abolishing police academies and instructional programs and setting up different ones untainted by an person from or adjacent to present day police unions or academies.

  30. notbored

    Nice to know:

    This time, a majority of patients counted as covid cases in some hospitals were initially admitted for other reasons, their covid infections discovered incidentally. And hospital staffs are stretched more than ever, with nearly 1 in 4 medical centers reporting this week they have a “critical” staffing shortage, the highest proportion of the pandemic.

    In Los Angeles, where the fast-spreading omicron variant reigns, roughly two-thirds of covid patients in the county’s public hospitals were initially admitted for other causes, officials said Wednesday. from In the nation’s hospitals, this covid wave is different [bold added]

  31. VietnamVet

    Maryland is again reporting COVID cases so the rapid riser county map above shows a continuous red mass from Boston to Savannah along I-95. The blizzard shutting down the Interstate in Virginia for over a day will not slow the spread. But it highlights the breakdown of government.

    The Omicron variant is out of control. In the best of all possible worlds, if this is the final wave of the pandemic, the utter failures and scapegoating the unvaccinated will assure that Nancy Pelosi loses the Speakership. Indeed, blaming American citizens for the failures of the ruling global elite won’t work. The fact is that there is currently is no political pathway to end the pandemic in the West. To stay in power the corporate bought politicians must double down on the current propaganda campaign. But the big lie never works forever. Democracy is dead in America. The truth will come out. Reality does bite.

    The Let ‘er Rip policy, mandating a non-sterilizing vaccine, ignoring the public health, and no alternatives to mRNA jabs, pretty much assures that new variants will periodically sweep across the West far into the future; much like the Black Death did until the survivors adapt. It is delusional to think that the plague won’t make it to the innermost sanctums of the hierarchy. Boris Johnson and Donald Trump were infected. The gates have been breached. Those wealthy, who can, will move to islands off of the coast of the rising civilization China that do have a zero COVID policy.

  32. C.O.

    There is a solid article by University of Toronto infection epidemiologist Colin Furness at The Tyee today,

    “The N95 Is the Mask We Should All Be Wearing. Here’s Why” https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2022/01/06/N95-Mask-We-Should-Be-Wearing/

    I realize that the argument for use of N95 masks is quite familiar to the NC commentariat, so my recommendation would be to skim (or skip) down to the subsection titled “Understand the flaws in logic that discourage N95 mask use.” It is highly informative, and may even add to the Bourdieusian analysis paper Lambert posted today.

  33. Adam1

    WOW! Bernie Sanders is #3 in contributions from people employed in the insurance industry. Is it that the actual workers in insurance/healthcare know how rotten to the core it is?!?!

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