2:00PM Water Cooler 2/22/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Pleasing chirrups.

* * *


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” –Hunter Thompson

Biden Adminstration

At least the Trump administration never claimed to be the adults in the room:

Mass hysteria? *** crickets *** But the voiceover is great! Totally Fifties, the video ought to look like a black-and-white newsreel:

I don’t find the concept that our national security class has completely lost its mind reassuring in the least. (Though, to be fair, there may be money involved.)

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

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

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

* * *

Impressive party discipline from Democrats:

Zakarin is quite right. For more on CPAC, see below.

But she’s a vet!


* * *

“The Dirty Secret of Inflation: Corporations Are Jacking Up Prices and Profits” [John Nichols, The Nation]. “History makes it clear that midterm elections are tough for the party that controls the White House and Congress. Voters take out their frustrations on those who are in positions of power. And that is doubly true in moments of economic turbulence, as Jimmy Carter and the Democrats learned in 1978, as Ronald Reagan and the Republicans learned in 1986, as Barack Obama and the Democrats learned in 2010. There have been only a few instances of a president’s seeing his party’s position in Congress improve in a midterm election. Yet, remarkably, one such moment did occur during the Great Depression. In the midterm election year of 1934, President Franklin Roosevelt put the blame for hard times on self-serving speculators, greedy bankers, and profiteering CEOs. Said FDR, “The fault lies with Wall Street.” Instead of letting corporate spin form the narrative of the Great Depression and the New Deal response to it, Roosevelt used his 1934 State of the Union address to speak “of those individuals who have evaded the spirit and purpose of our tax laws, of those high officials of banks or corporations who have grown rich at the expense of their stockholders or the public, of those reckless speculators with their own or other people’s money whose operations have injured the values of the farmers’ crops and the savings of the poor.” Throughout 1934, FDR never let up when it came to calling out speculators, monopolists, and price gougers. He promised that New Deal Democrats with increased congressional majorities would hold the bad actors to account. Voters approved. In November, they gave Democrats nine more seats in the House and nine more in the Senate, where the party achieved a rare supermajority.

“Trump’s Risky 2022 Endorsement Strategy” [New York Magazine]. “Trump’s heavy involvement in 2022 races could dilute the expectation that the midterms will be a referendum on the increasingly unpopular Joe Biden, who despite his troubles is more popular than his predecessor was at this stage of his presidency…. Before the current cycle, Trump endorsed 43 candidates in competitive primaries with his preferred pols winning 37 races and losing six.” Not bad. More: “All in all, Trump is engaged in a risky 2022 endorsement strategy that might backfire or might confirm his mastery of the GOP. He can’t seem to help himself; it’s in his nature to intervene in every direction, so he will.” • Well, 37 / 43 = 86%. If Trump were playing the ponies, he’d be doing pretty well.


Tulsi, no:

Trump Legacy

“Trump Fans Are Making DWAC the Best-Performing SPAC of Its Kind” [Bloomberg]. “In a cooling market for SPACs, the shell company tied to Donald Trump’s new tech and media venture has recorded outsized stock gains. Supporters such as Rafael Morales help show why. ‘This is a bigger calling — this is my man Trump about to roll out a company,’ Morales, a 40-year-old military veteran from New York City, remembers thinking when he first heard about Digital World Acquisition Corp. He bought almost $100,000 worth at about $109 a share on Oct. 22, two days after the company announced a deal to merge with Trump Media & Technology Group. The stock dropped to $82 at the end of last week — but it was still up more than 700% since the deal announcement. Even though he’s well in the red, Morales is optimistic. ‘I believe in Trump. I believe in him.'” • Morales bought at the peak?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Why Progressives Can’t Quit Their Masks” [National Review]. “While there has been a quietly energetic campaign to memory-hole the fact, some of you will remember that, in the run-up to the 2020 presidential campaign, vaccine skepticism was a Democratic thing, not a Republican thing. Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Andrew Cuomo, and every third progressive nitwit on Twitter cast doubt on the safety and the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines that were being developed under Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s program to expedite a vaccine. It was childishly predictable: With Election Day looming, anything that might redound to the credit of the Trump administration had to be cast into doubt or held up for scorn. We are governed by people who have never mentally or morally progressed beyond the politics of the junior-high lunchroom.” True dat. More: “I think that if I could learn two things about a person — the situations in which he will wear a mask even if it is not strictly required and the situations in which he will refuse to comply with a mask requirement — I could probably tell you for whom he voted in 2020…. And that is what is making unmasking — and a more general return to normal — so difficult for so many of our progressive friends: It has become a cultural and social issue, and a quasi-religious one at that. For a certain kind of progressive, giving up masking feels like giving in. It doesn’t feel to them like the epidemic has been beaten — it feels to them like they have been beaten, and their cultural enemies (Joe Rogan, and that estranged uncle who is angry on Facebook) have won.” • Wrong on the science (masking works; one of many studies), and wrong on the politics. “Progressives,” especially those who dominate the press, are working hard to frame masking as a purely individual responsibility. And the Biden Adminsitration has consistently framed masking as a punishment to be lifted as soon as possible (rather than a civic responsbility). Further, at least according to polling, a majority of the public will continue to mask. I hope this reflects a “plague on both your houses” mentality, and intensifies. And here’s a new study on masking:

“The Fall Of The Meritocracy” [The American Conservative]. “How did the West’s meritocratic elites, with all their scientific-technological prowess, end up driving their societies into a ditch of distrust, rancor, and division? What led the meritocracy to badly overplay its hand on lockdowns, masking, social distancing and, above all, vaccine mandates, triggering explosive popular uprisings like the one in Canada? It won’t do for the meritocracy’s apologists to blame the unenlightened and irrational mass of people who refuse to comply with what’s good for them, which would amount to circular reasoning: The whole promise of meritocratic governance is that the ruling class’s sheer intelligence and ability can overcome the messy antagonisms of “ordinary” politics—yet that, evidently, has not be the case. Why?” And: “We’d do well to turn to Michael Young, the British sociologist, Labour party peer, and author who coined the word “meritocracy” in a dystopian novel first published in 1958. The novel, The Rise of the Meritocracy, proved enormously influential on our side of the pond, especially among such heterodox thinkers as Christopher Lasch and Michael Lind. And deservedly so, for Young masterfully grasped trends underway in his time and projected them into the future.” • Another damn book to read. I love the part about the book’s last footnote.

“Taking the Skinheads Bowling” [John Ganz, Unpopular Front]. “The old story of fascism and the origin of totalitarianism in general was that they the consequences of atomization: they preyed on the fragmentation and decay of social bonds and the transformation of society from an organized body of interests represented in clubs, voluntary associations, and political parties into a rootless mass of frightened, lonely, and confused individuals…. But this picture has been questioned recently and researchers are now countenancing what’s been called the ‘dark side of social capital.’ (After all, isn’t the Ku Klux Klan a form of civic association, too?)…. This immediately brought to mind Gabriel Winant’s n+1 essay ‘We Live in A Society,’ where he argued…. that strong associational bonds still exist in the U.S. in the form of homeowners’ associations and the like and these often have an important racial component—what the authors of the above paper might call ‘the ‘forces of tradition’’ that work to ‘restrict social change.'” • Churches, too; GiveSendGo is a way of transforming social capital, mostly of Christian congregations, into cash (and often for purposes I would call good, like funding people’s health care bills).

“COVID-19 Isn’t Going Anywhere — And Americans Know It” [FiveThirtyEight]. I like the barely concealed note of triumph in the headline. More: “What Americans want regarding COVID-19 is all over the place. And there’s only so much the polls can tell you. For instance, they can’t list every public health response to COVID-19, much less every combination of responses. But polls show that support is shifting more toward individual precautions than toward COVID-19 protections mandated for society at large.” Propaganda works. More: “And Americans seem to be OK with being more cautious in their personal decisions. That is, they’re more willing to undergo measures like mask-wearing or vaccinations for themselves, though they may not want to institute it as a requirement.” • We’re two years into this thing, and those psychos at CDC still don’t state their theory of transmission (should be aerosols) nor does the White House. So how in the name of all that is holy do they expect people to assess risk? As in the doggerel I quoted yesterday: “Why look before we leap? Let’s simply shut our eyes and jump! And enjoy a glass of water from the Broad Street Pump!”

Eisenhower was far too kind:

“The Authority Blob” [Tablet] From 2021, still germane. A roundtable discussion: “Although George Washington promoted the idea of a single federal university that would create a nonsectional, national American elite and even bequeathed money to endow it, from the American War of Independence until the late 20th century the United States had multiple regional Anglo-American Protestant elites, not a single national elite. Only in the past half century has a truly national, post-Protestant, multiracial secular elite emerged from the assimilation of old regional elites and upwardly mobile Americans. The agency of assimilation and upward mobility has been the culturally leftist and technocratic university, which has replaced the mainline Protestant church as the source of both elite values and elite credentialing. The new national overclass is multiracial but monocultural: a group of highly educated people, mostly from affluent families, who look different but think the same. They even sound the same: The nationalized overclass accent is a version of the placeless TV broadcaster variant of American English, in which the hard ‘Rs’ and flat stresses of the Midwest are often mixed with the question-like, sentence-ending ‘uptalk’ of the California Valley Girl dialect.” • I only read transcripts. Is this true? Do the members of The Blob really sound like Valley Girls? Readers? (I’d welcome video evidence; it’s a hilarious and deflating true fact — if true — and it would be a fun post to write. But I have no idea where to begin.)


I’ve said for some time that CDC numbers are good for narrative purposes: Are things better, or worse? Is there a wave, or not? Is there a peak, or not? Now we have a much better idea of what CDC’s internals are really like, and how sketchy and partial the releases are . (Readers will note that I dropped the vaccination counts long ago.) What is remarkable is how bad the situation looks, even considered as a narrative. Commentary:

Case count by United States regions:


I have again added a “Fauci Line” to congratulate Biden and his team — Klain, Zeints, Fauci, Walensky — for finally falling below their own second-highest peak, although still comfortably above the first peak achieved by the former guy. (Rise like a rocket, and fall like a stick; the slope of the downward curve is more or less the same as the upward curve. 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 unprecedented.) I wonder if there will be plateau when BA.2 takes hold. Since the Northeast has form, that is probably the region to watch for this behavior first.

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

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Continues encouraging (and independent from the CDC). No jump from the return of the students yet, which is even more encouraging, especially if you’re in “Waiting for BA.2” mode.

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

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

Looking good, though what’s that little cluster around DC doing? Maine is a data problem. (Remember that these are rapid riser counties. A county that moves from red to green is not covid-free; the case count just isnt, well, rising rapidly.)

The previous release:

Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission:

A few more speckles of improvement in the solid red.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Sea of green once more. From the point of view of our hospital-centric health care system, green everywhere means the emergency is over (and to be fair, this is reinforced by case count and wastewater). However, community transmission is still pervasive, which means that long Covid, plus continuing vascular damage, are not over. (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: 960,157 959,412. A continous drop in the death date, which is good news. Sadly,1000000 – 960,157 = 39,843, and 39,843 / 6 days until Biden’s State of the Union Speech is 6,640.5, so I guess we won’t break a million in time. I was hoping for a ribbon cutting ceremony of some kind. Maybe the West Wing staff could have staged a photo op with funny hats and noisemakers. Walensky’s staff could have joined in by Zoom. Ah well, nevertheless. I have drawn a Fauci Line to congratulate the Biden Administration for having fallen below the peak achieved by the former guy.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

What’s up with Germany and France?

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Manufacturing Activity Index in the US fifth district decreased to a 5-month low of 1 in February of 2022 from 8 in the previous month, due to declines in the indexes for shipments (-11 vs 14 in January) and new orders (-3 vs 6). However, the third component in the composite index, employment, increased to 20 from 4 in January. Firms reported decreases in order backlogs, as the index became negative for the first time since June 2020. Vendor lead times increased for many firms as that index remained at near-historic highs. Firms’ perceptions about changes in local business conditions remained slightly negative; however, firms remained optimistic about future conditions. Firms continued to report increasing wages while also citing challenges finding workers with the necessary skills.”

Housing: “United States Case Shiller Home Price Index YoY” [Trading Economics]. “In 2021, both the 20-City Composite index (18.6%) and the National index (18.8%) increased at record rates, driven in part by a change in locational preferences as households reacted to the COVID pandemic, low inventory, fast turnaround, and high costs for raw materials. In December alone the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index went up 18.6% year-on-year, accelerating for the first time in 5 months and above market forecasts of 18%. Phoenix (32.5%), Tampa (29.4%), and Miami (27.3%) reported the highest annual gains among the 20 cities.” • So, big bets on air conditioning and the failure of the ocean to rise?

* * *

The Bezzle: “Virgin Hyperloop axes half its staff to focus on freight” [Financial Times]. “Government-owned DP World, which has a 76 per cent stake in Virgin Hyperloop, is working on a hyperloop-enabled cargo system to deliver freight at ‘the speed of flight and closer to the cost of trucking’ by connecting with existing road, rail and air transport. But since its inception, critics have cited the high costs of bringing the system to market even if it wins regulatory approval…. ‘It’s abundantly clear that potential customers are interested in cargo, while passenger is somewhat farther away,” DP World said. “Focusing on pallets is easier to do — there is less risk for passengers and less of a regulatory process.'”


Anybody who thinks Twitter is a cesspit already should try the Daily Kos comments section….

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 31 Fear (previous close: 39 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 39 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 22 at 1:53pm. Ukraine hasn’t made Mr. Market very fearful.

The Tube

““Euphoria” Fans Have Made Over 600,000 Playlists Since Season 2 Began” [Teen Vogue]. “It’s a well-known fact that Euphoria has a hold on contemporary pop culture, one that hasn’t let up since its series premiere back in 2019. We can easily see why, as the wildly successful — and ever-chaotic — HBO teen drama has something for everyone. Viewers flock to the screen each week to devour the show’s gripping performances, trendsetting makeup, fashion, and of course, music. And one thing about Euphoria? It’s always going to spark an exciting wave of creativity amongst its fans. Since the show’s season two premiere on January 9 — which broke records as the most watched episode of an HBO series ever — there’s been a major increase in streams and creation of Euphoria-related playlists.” • Playlists are creative works? Alrighty then. However, I can now post this viral clip:

A popular cultural wave has to break pretty far up the beach to reach me…. But I’m told the cinematography in this scene is excellent.

Class Warfare

Working class, eh? Assuming WaPo didn’t jigger the data:

The press made the same mistake, if mistake it was, with Trump voters, who were presented as working class, where the Trump electorate as a whole was wealthier than average. (That’s not to deny that the Trump electorate had a working class component. Synecddche — part (tendentiously) chosen to represent a whole — is a terrible prbolem in The Discourse today.)

News of the Wired

Two of my favorite podcasts:

“10.87- Anarchy in Ukraine” [Mike Duncan, Revolutions]. “Nestor Makhno thy time has come.” • Ukraine in the news of late. More on Makkno, certainly preferable to whatever forebears the Azov Battalion looks to.

“#378- BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG (Part the Sixty-fourth)” [Mike and Tracy Youngdahl, The Civil War]. “In which we look at the aftermath of Pickett’s Charge, and get the Confederates started off on their retreat from Gettysburg.” • In which Bobby Lee gets his slave-owning ass deservedly whipped, while proving that charging fortified positions is problematic (World War I chateau generals take note), especially when uphill. Ditto (World War I chateau generals take note) “softening up” the enemy’s fortified positions with massive artillery bombardments. Indeed, you could look at Lee’s inflated sense of the Army of Northern Virginia’s capabilities after Chancellorsville as equivalent to the French pre-World War I notion of elan, where it turned out that moral virtues weren’t…. enough.

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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 (RH):

RH writes: “Grape vine along the Potomac River, occasionally submerged.”

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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. griffen

    Congress persons should be able to trade, and pick losers just like everyone else. However, we the people do call bullsh$t on the fact when our leading Representatives and Senators trade out of their positions just conveniently prior to really bad news or trade into their positions just conveniently prior to improving good news.

    F8ck you if you don’t like any rules, get the hell out. Keep it up though, preening on your false pedestal.

    1. JohnnySacks

      How about buying and selling before they legislatively create the good and bad news which conveniently makes them rich? I hate both the players and the entire game, toss them all into the sodomite tar pits if they don’t like the rules we put them too for all I give a damn.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      And it shows both the state of candidate recruitment and how little she fears the electorate. I suspect Luria have overplayed her hand. She is one of Pelosi’s henchmen.

      1. Adam

        Luria may not have to worry about this for long. She won in 2020 by 6 points, but her new district has increased +4 towards Republicans compared to before. Of course, the probably more odious Spanburger ended up in district that is +7 to the Democratic side than before.

    3. jonboinAR

      It seems to me that Congress-persons are insiders by default. They shouldn’t be allowed to trade on the stock market, period.

  2. Lou Anton

    Quick note of thanks, Lambert, for introducing me to the Civil War podcast. Been going at a leisurely pace since around summer of last year (just recently made it through the First Battle of Manassas). Learning a lot (e.g., how the Mexican War in 1846 was where the generals on both sides got their experience) and my Civil War library is growing. Again, thanks!

    1. Bazarov

      Grant’s memoirs peak very early with a description of his fellow soldier’s head being obliterated by a cannonball during the Mexican War. His memoirs have a reputation as the best of all presidential reminisces, though that’s not far from damning with faint praise.

      I would post the excerpt wherein the poor soldier gets cannonballed, but NC’s trip wires keep putting the automatic kibosh on it (probably because it’s kind of graphic).

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > His memoirs have a reputation as the best of all presidential reminisces

        Grant’s memoirs are genuinely excellent as writing, and his discussions of military operations are especially brilliant. I don’t think there’s anything comparable from any other general or head of state — certainly not in America.

        1. Bazarov

          I found them to be somewhat tedious, with flashes of brilliance. But they were famously written fast and in part while Grant suffered terribly from throat cancer.

          The best writing I’ve read by a head of state is probably the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.

    2. Randy

      The Civil War podcast is good but it all comes from previous books. The Civil War trilogy by Shelby Foote is the gold standard. Shelby Foote’s books read like exciting novels. I prefer to read as opposed to listening. Grant’s memoirs were good.

      Another good read is R.E. Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman, an old hard to find book. Very biased toward the South however. Interesting slant.

    3. The Rev Kev

      It’s an excellent series. The ones before the last discussed the artillery bombardment and the chaotic maneuvering of Confederate formations as they went up that hill. And in listening to it, I could not reflect that if Union General Buford had not made his stand and wrecked the Confederate advance upon Gettysburg, that it would have been the Union troops that would have been trying to attack the Confederates up that long slope across that open field. As for Lee? The following sums it up but note, Not Safe For Work-


  3. IMOR

    “Trump’s Risky Endorsement Strategy”
    Risky? Even if it were failing instead of succeeding (as Lambert points out), what is he risking? He’s in his late 70s and has already been President of the United States!
    The media wing of the PMC is badly infected with a constant need for across the board peer group approval, and projection of same renders its evaluations / assessments unreliable in yet one more way, even when they are not complete put-up jobs.

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      It would be interesting to know the historical results of endorsements by former presidents. How well did an endorsement by Clinton, Bush I & II, Obama, Reagan, etc. turn out for incumbents or challengers? Is Trump really better/worse at it than any of his predecessors, or is this just so much media-generated noise?

      1. Michael Ismoe

        Most of them couldn’t be bothered. This is just personal vendetta who have “wronged” him or willing to say publicly that he won. Unattended, Trump is like Sonny Corleone but without the self-control.

  4. anon y'mouse

    The richer a community was the more likely people were to donate to the truckers becuase GiveSendGo had terrible security practices such as leaving their data open where everyone could see it

    rich people have enough extra money to be able to give some of it away.

    what’s surprising about that?

    bet it would match up quite well with many other charity “giving” sprees.

    1. neohnomad

      There’s usually an xkcd for everything, in this case: xkcd.com/1138

      “Geographic profile maps which are basically just population maps”

  5. Samuel Conner

    I think, regarding masks as a public health measure, we may need to move in the direction of “parallel sovereignty”, or maybe a better framing would be “change from below”.

    A local public-spirited nonprofit is working with contacts in the local schools to make N95s available to teachers who want them. Provided the admins don’t forbid their use, and the CV doesn’t evolve to a form that is so infectious that even N95s are ineffective, these schools may know within a few months — if they track sick time — whether the intervention is working.

    Since we can’t rely on CDC to tell us what it knows, we may have to figure it out on our own.

    And to make this more appealing to the ‘because freedom’ crowd — perhaps N95s could be imprinted with that pattern that makes people’s faces invisible to neural-network based algorithms for face detection in video feeds.

    1. Synoia

      Great idea! Let’s use the SSN as the Id portion of the imprint on the mask and automatically cut off all benefits and drain the Bank accounts of the perps, with a recourse which includes the signatures of three honest politicians.

      1. ambrit

        Oh boy, are you ever stacking the deck of a marked deck to begin with.
        It has been a ‘thing’ for a while now where “gunned up preppers” trade ammo back and forth, and, when they have to buy from a ‘legitimate’ vendor, only use cash. No paper trails seems to be a “new normal” today.

  6. Synoia

    A former US official recorded a sound outside his home in Havana, Cuba. Injured officials 60 Minutes spoke with said the sound or a feeling of pressure came from one direction.

    That sounds like a 50 or 60 Hz power line. And there is a power line in the picture.

    One needs an Need Oscilloscope to analyze the noise frequency. I would point out that power lines are believed to make some people sick.

        1. Jeotsu

          On our 850m long farm property we have a *lots* of power lines crossing. 1x220kV and 1x110kV on large 40+m high metal pylons, a 33kV on a small metal pylon, 4x33kV on wood poles, and a ‘little’ 11kV line on wooden poles that is the local power feed for the valley.

          In NZ at least it is possible to request new ‘quiet’ insulators for the big circuits, we did so and the 110kV near the house and it has been silent since. We get more buzz off the 33kV lines. At least for us the amount of buzz varies based on when it last rained. We’re only 5km from the ocean, and a thin salt layer gradually builds up on the insulators letter a little current sneak around creating the buzz. After a good rain it becomes (mostly) silent again.

          The large metal pylons do get some zinc buildup around the base, due to galv products washing off over time.

          1. Late Introvert

            I lived for a short time on Twin Peaks in San Francisco, which hosts a huge amount of satellite dishes and other transponders. Major EM activity in my TV reception and my audio equipment. I didn’t perceive any health effects at the time, but I was young, and it was thankfully a short stay. I could tell it was creepy and not safe.

  7. CG

    Re: Convoy funding

    Isn’t the obvious point to make that both tweets are correct and this is just an expression of Carl Oglesby’s Yankee-Cowboy War? That while the more “progressive” faction of capital (Carl Oglesby’s Yankees) and it’s individual members, which happens to include some of the largest corporate firms in the modern day economy, are opposed to protest/protestors, the faction that includes the American Gentry (Oglesby’s Cowboys) are large fans and supporters of it. By contrast, the Cowboy faction very much include people who are at best suspicious of the goals of things like BLM, whereas the Yankee faction views support of such as a means of legitimating the current order.

    1. jsn

      There was this link the other day that categorized “virtuals” and “physicals” according to geography on a similar map.

      Trump voters in aggregate and the Canadian truck blockade (subset of “truckers”: rig owners) occupy a relatively upper class position in the “physicals” category in which people are involved in doing real things in the physical world. But that class position is dwarfed by the scale of wealth concentration in the blue, “virtuals” world of symbol manipulators.

      The Western and particularly American left having been systematically exterminated in the 1950s-80s, existing now in the random Bernie or AOC firmly encapsulated in sugar coatings of Blue, there is no “popular” leadership model for the average Red working stiff outside the local petit bourgeoisie, i. e. the local Chamber of Commerce types, big donors at the church and local employers. And the Democrat party is insistent on keeping it that way. All those decent people need to be painted with the rudest brush of racism, reaction and bigotry to keep those fabulously wealthy “virtuals” (tiny demographic relative to “physicals” petit bourge, but a vastly richer one) terrified and writing checks to NGOs divert any potential leftist leadership into ineffectuality.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I understand that the Washington Post has been contacting individual people on that donor’s list, even people who donated such sums as $40, and more or less demanding to know why they donated. I bet that now those people know that they are on another list and that is a to-be-watched list by the media companies and other interested parties.

      1. Late Introvert

        so they have taught us we need to organize offline

        as they taught us that nonviolence does not work

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Carl Oglesby’s Yankee-Cowboy War?

      I think Oglesby’s dichotomy — I read the book years ago, I admit — is super-oversimplified and not to be taken seriously as an analytical tool. Elite factional infighting is a lot more complicated, there are a lot more regions involved than two, and a lot more groups than the old-line WASPs and crass people from places like Houston.

  8. Kurtismayfield

    Re: Starbucks union rep fired.

    She was fired because she wanted to cut back her hours, as her other job became a full time thing. It’s a nothing burger.

  9. MP

    The richer a community was the more likely people were to donate to the (insert every cause here).

    Of course this is true, what’s missing is the comparison to other causes.

  10. jr

    re: Castro’s Ultrasonic Exploding Cigar Cannon

    Talking about crickets, that noise sounds like some swamp bugs’ mating call, not an aural artillery piece. I believe the narrators drone-like “Serious matters!” toned voiceover and the none-sense of the professional liars interviewed constitutes the real sonic weapon here…

  11. Jason Boxman

    And that dynamic would be even better with universal masking, because county borders are porous, some more than others. It’s a shame masking has been destroyed as a public health intervention, because a month of universal masking could have gone a long ways toward actual containment, in concert with other policies, such as robust testing, and isolation with monetary support, and paid leave.


  12. Jason Boxman

    Maybe the West Wing staff could have staged a photo op with funny hats and noisemakers.

    I’m sure Biden will come up with something to memorialize the moment, like GWB hunting for WMD under the podium, or Obama joking about drone murdering. This is one I strongly believe even Biden can pull off!

    1. John Zelnicker

      For those not paying attention, next Tuesday is Mardi Gras. Coincidence?

      Perhaps Biden could get a Carnival Crewe from Mobile or New Orleans to parade around the Ellipse; now that would be fun.

      Or maybe a Second Line parade.

        1. John Zelnicker

          Hello, ambrit.

          I didn’t know there was a Krewe in DC.

          Sadly, Mobile outlawed flambeaus many years ago after some floats caught fire. I still remember them from my childhood.

          I’m all in for masking.

          I wonder how creative folks could be with a Mardi Gras mask and an N95.

          All best to you and Phyl.

          1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

            We started House Floats last year and they’re awesome!

            This year….full on PARADING with NO MASKS in site!

            Laissez Le Bons Temps Rona!

  13. Wukchumni

    I like Ike, he called us (well the proto-me as I didn’t exist yet) citizens!

    “We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage”

    er, sorry Ike, our bad.

    His warning about the danger of becoming the captive of a technological elite probably sounded way out in 1961, but here we are with ball and chain tethered to them. btw I just wanted to say hello to my handler in Eavesdrop, Ut.

    From the fall of Saigon until Grenada was the only time in my life where the military wasn’t messing with somebody else, it seemed like.

    The resources we’ve wasted on the MIC in the 61 years since his farewell speech could have been utilized better, but who doesn’t like blowing stuff up real good!

  14. XXYY

    Anybody who thinks Twitter is a cesspit already should try the Daily Kos comments section….

    Note that Reddit also allows both upvoting and downvoting, combined with a strong and fairly imperious moderator population.

    They seem to be getting by with it, although organizing their site into thousands of sub-reddits makes it easier for contributors to stay within the guardrails of a particular sub. (Mods also can and do ban people from their subs, providing further incentives for commentors and creating at least some homogeneity and ability to have and enforce rules.)

  15. jr

    Krystal and Saager examine the mainstream media’s lunatic cries for war and repression:


    High point: Legal hob-goblin Lawrence Tribe equates resistance to war with Russia as “treason”.

    The cancer of Hillary will be with us for a long time…

    1. flora

      Gingrich and Tribe neither have any personal military experience that I can find. Two old men yelling “boo ya!” for wars someone else will have to fight, so to speak.

      Tribe’s Haavad notable students include, per wiki:

      Barack Obama[2]
      Ted Cruz
      John Roberts[3]
      Elena Kagan[4]
      Merrick Garland[5]
      Kathleen Sullivan[2]
      Jamie Raskin

  16. Mikel

    “How did the West’s meritocratic elites, with all their scientific-technological prowess, end up driving their societies into a ditch of distrust, rancor, and division?”

    The prowess is overrated.

  17. Mikel

    Why Progressives Can’t Quit Their Masks” [National Review].

    And earlier today from links:
    Most Americans Say They’ll Keep Masks on Even If Mandates Go Away: Poll Newsweek. Clearly, the anti-mask propaganda must be intensified.

    No one wants to come with terms with the sheer numbers of Americans that have co-morbidities or live with loved ones who have them. That is not going away. Nobody is giving a rat’s about political affiliation. They know they have to give a damn about their loved ones while these clowns try to make it about politics.

  18. Swamp Yankee

    Regarding the PMC accent, yes, it is much as described. I was the scholarship kid at two elite universities, undergrad and graduate, and my own accent is what you might call “educated Eastern New England,” not Broad New England like Will Hunting, but with the same vowel sounds amd just a gesture towards the “r” sound. Think Charlie Baker or John Kerry.

    PMC speech, by way of contrast, as I said to a friend recently, is a class accent, divorced from place markers. Yes, very sharp rhotic r sounds like the Midwest, uptalk and vocal fry and the strange formal informalism of California speech…. there are also very sibilant s sounds.

    I noted this while waiting to testify to the MA Legislature recently. Was preceded by a bunch of law professors. All had this accent, and their dress was also notably Californian, formally informal.

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Being from Louisiana, people question my accent all the time. I tell them my grandparents were foreign language professors and always corrected my grammar.

      “Are you sure ur from the South????”


        1. Janie

          Mulate’s in Lafayette closed recently. Live Cajun music snd dancing nightly, no cover, decent food and prices. Like cafe des amis in Breaux Bridge, nothing lasts forever.

          1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

            AFAIK Mulates is still open in Nola.

            Sorry to hear about the Lafayette location. Don’t know if Cajun Line dancing is worth the 2hr+ round trip…

    2. PHLDenizen

      Since some of the dumbest motherfsckers I’ve ever met have graduated from Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Penn — even my own snooty private school — I’ve never, ever used accents or unfamiliar colloquialisms as a proxy for intelligence or education. I’ve heavily cribbed some of the latter to dump into discourse with PMCs, which seems to flummox them at times. I’m an unabashed atheist, but I’ll occasionally say “have a blessed day!” They really struggle to respond to that one.

      PMC-ese is also remarkably content free and wholly noncommittal to ANYTHING. “Circling back” infinitely, “putting things on pause”, “boiling oceans”. Blech. I will never, ever get promoted into a leadership position because I refuse to debase myself so.

      I get annoyed and obnoxious. “I never realized the word ‘no’ had so many confusing and nebulous sentences in it.” “Am I the only one here handicapped by the need to make sense?” “Why does your team not value intellectual curiosity?”

      And sometimes I’ll throw disingenuous bombs about being offended by “problematic” nouns such as “slave”, “blacklist”, “whitelist” as they apply to IT. It’s exactly the problem the cult of DEI was invented to solve. Certainly there’s enough of a precedence in the FOSS world to make it a “reasonable concern”. But maybe I’m just encouraging or enabling them.

  19. Maggie

    About those pretty green circles pointing South on the “Hospitalization trends” graphic…. A close friend has been ill this last week – not Covid related. Went to ER Sunday morning…ER MD’s decision –> he needed admission. Waited over 36 hours in an ER cubicle bed before a main hospital bed finally opened up.. We are a major regional hub in coastal NC… Simply amazing. Not sure what to think of that lovely green circle for North Carolina…

    1. griffen

      Good for the US women, who have been a dominant force in soccer for what, a quarter century, now. Lot of homegrown talent too, from both coasts.

      The article details certain bonus & incentives for the men and the women. Kinda ridiculous the scale had been so tilted prior to this.

  20. Michael Ismoe

    Why is anyone surprised that the richest counties sent the most money to the truckers? As Willie Sutton said, “That’s where the money is.” Most rich people have a lot of disposable income.

    The average sized contribution might be more interesting information.

  21. lyman alpha blob

    RIP Mark Lanegan

    There really was something about that Seattle music scene in the late eighties/early 90s, although not necessarily a happy something. I remember remarking to a non-Seattlite that you could feel the angst hanging in the damp and rainy air. In retrospect, it’s almost as if those rock stars knew they and city were about to be crushed by the Amazon juggernaut with its phony smile cleansing the city of any authentic human feeling and making it safe for 21st century capitalism.

    I first saw Lanegan play in a small bar in Portland, ME over 30 years ago with the Screaming Trees. Nobody had ever heard of Lanegan or any of Seattle these bands unless they were a college radio aficionado. Feeling pretty hip and just old enough to get in legally, I went in sporting my Mudhoney T shirt and had the drummer come up to me astounded that anyone on the east coast had heard of them. Turns out it was Mudhoney’s drummer Dan Peters who was covering for the Screaming Trees regular drummer on that tour. Hearing Lanegan’s baritone wail over the cacophonous distorted fuzz produced by 600+ lbs of Conner brothers rolling around on the floor was magnificent. Seeing them was one of the reasons I wound up spending a decade in Seattle shortly after.

    They’re almost all gone now – all the singers who made that city something thirty years ago. Wishing you a Bed of Roses, Mr. Lanegan.

    1. tegnost

      Sad news, too young…
      I saw the screaming trees at the central in ’89,
      drinking grants scottish,
      my introduction to real beer…low key show and just awesome,
      I was new to seattle and had never heard of them…

      1. Joe Renter

        Nice. Central Tavern, yes?
        It was a good scene back in the mid 80’s there.
        I was working at Pike Place Market then and a lot musicians and various artist were living in Belltown when it was still affordable. I recall seeing Countney Young quite often walking through the market. She had a real strong presence.
        It was was a decent time and place…

    2. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

      Sad. I bought a copy of Uncle Anesthesia at Cellophane Square in the (Seattle) U-District and played it until it was mostly scratchy static. That came out I think the year after Andy Wood of Mother Love Bone died/killed himself/whatever. Those Seattle Sound guys were all around my age. I think Tad Doyle and Eddie Vedder (not a Seattleite) are the only ones left. Oh — Buzz Osborne, if you like to think of the Melvins as Seattle Sound.

      1. Joe Renter

        There are more left. Just have to dig them out. All lot moved out of town.
        I ran into Eddie Vedder in West Seattle one day about 9 years back. I was pretty lame as I did not recognize him.
        Funny story really. He was standing next to his BMW station wagon, and I was wondering if his car was vinyl wrapped, or painted matte. So struck up a conversation with him. He said, yeah, I went out of town and my buddy had my car wrapped as gift. So right off I think someone has some money to though down. We get to talking and we both have a surfing background he from SD, me from SC back in the day. Talk about the artist Rick Griffin and I wanting to get his surfing eyeball painting as a tat. He says, I’m into art and use surfing as a subject. Finally, I ask him what he does as a full-time gig. Oh, right he is Eddie Vedder. Super nice guy. He invites me to get ahold of him to show him my tat in the future. Hands off a pick with as calling card for me. I get to tell my son who was in the School of Rock program how his old man gets to meet and hang with Vedder. I think he was just fine with me not knowing who he was.

    3. anon y'mouse

      is it true that he had almost died last year, and been in the hospital for months from COVID?

      if so, the virus claims another. and perhaps soon, someone we know personally.

  22. none

    r/nursing is still going nuts about covid overload, anti-vaxers, etc.

    Re hitting 1 million deaths by SOTU: I doubt anyone will notice or care. Of course I want as few deaths as possible but given that some number are unavoidable, maybe wishing for a slight rearrangement of their schedule can help raise public awareness and thereby decrease the total. So I had been watching the death curve approach the “Fauci line” and found myself hoping that it would temporarily surpass the previous highest peak, so people would stop thinking that things were now comparatively safe.

    The confirmed cases graph seems almost useless now, because of decreased testing and withholding of test results. Test positivity may still be important. The wastewater graph seems important but it is not being done in enough places.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The confirmed cases graph seems almost useless now

      No, it’s an obvious underestimate, but directionally (IMNSHO) correct. Also, as a narrative, it’s extremely useful. So it doesn’t do to ignore it.

  23. John Mc

    Re: Podcasts – thank you for the Revolutions and Civil War podcasting suggestions! Will get right on it.

    I have one to recommend too, that is outstanding – American Exception (Dr. Aaron Good) https://www.patreon.com/americanexception (So many interesting and intelligent guests with a deep historical background and sociological imagination – like Dan Ellsberg, John Kiriakou, Abby Martin, Peter Dale Scott, Oliver Stone, Joshua Oppenheimer to name a few).

    It is a brand new podcast as of December, but Aaron has been busy with 25 episodes in two months time. Anyhow, its my favorite podcast by a country mile.

  24. pebird

    Lambert, I don’t understand…

    “I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”)”, etc…

    But you give Tulsi a hard time for speaking (God forbid) at CPAC?

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Tbh…good for Tulsi…I still trust her popular stance and we need to support as many antiwar voices as we possibly can!

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