By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Patient readers, this is a not-completely-truncated Water Cooler, because I had to finish up this post on Ukraine. Also, I’ll try to paste only one copy; I write and produce Water Cooler at breakneck speed, but my whole workflow is designed to prevent such a thing from happening. So I’m not sure what went on there. Strange thing happen at sea. –lambert
Bird Song of the Day
Amazingly, only three recordings!
“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
“How Facebook Twisted Canada’S Trucker Convoy Into An International Movement” [The Verge]. “This pipeline — from physical protest to social media to establishment outlets — is what has helped the convoy evolve from a local standoff into a televised event that can raise millions from supporters thousands of miles away. Almost all of that infrastructure pre-dates the convoy itself, drawing from anti-vaxx groups, QAnon, and other fringe communities. And while the convoy itself may soon be broken up by the Canadian government, those online pathways are much stickier. To understand how this echo chamber works, we have to start with the Ottawa protest itself. The “Freedom Convoy’’ started as a loosely affiliated group of Canadian truck drivers led by a group called Canada Unity, founded by far-right activist and QAnon conspiracy theorist James Bauder. But over the last 30 days, Bauder has managed to build a coalition of fed-up truck drivers, fringe Canadian political party members, neo-Nazis, anti-vaxxers, and an international coterie of scammers, grifters, and low-level online creators that has been able to generate major headlines around the world.” • “Fed-up truck drivers”… Power was lying in the street. Bauder picked it up. Where was the left?
Just putting this one out here:
The American trucker convoy that left California days ago is still continuing apace.
They say they were gifted 25k gallons of gas in Kingman, Az., but are hungry for cash donations.
On Ukraine? "Biden can't fight on two fronts, the convoy for freedom now has free ride in USA!” pic.twitter.com/GZAI28PafS
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) February 25, 2022
Not sure of the provenance….
I don’t agree with everything Stoller says on this thread, but I think he’s got this right:
Biden was clear with everyone we would withdraw from Afghanistan. Everyone – including our allies – refused to believe him. He was clear that Russia would invade. Everyone – including our allies – refused to believe him.
Next time people will believe him. Credibility matters.
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) February 25, 2022
Also, Biden did withdraw from Afghanistan (albeit following through on a commitment from the former guy, and something [genuflects] Obama was unable or unwilling to do). That took stones, and the press went into their pull-the-wings-off-flies mode shortly thereafter. As for Taiwan, Stoller continues:
The U.S. can't protect Taiwan for much longer, we will lose if China attacks because Taiwan has a weak military. But if Taiwan actually arms itself with real defensive weaponry, China can't win. So far the problem has been Taiwan doesn't think it's necessary. Now they will.
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) February 25, 2022
There’s a timing issue there, of course….
“Biden to nominate Ketanji Brown Jackson for Supreme Court” [Associated Press]. “In [federal appeals court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson], Biden delivers on a campaign promise to make the historic appointment and to further diversify a court that was made up entirely of white men for almost two centuries. He has chosen an attorney who would be the high court’s first former public defender, though she also possesses the elite legal background of other justices…. That timeline could be complicated by a number of things, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the extended absence of Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, who suffered a stroke last month and is out for several weeks. Democrats would need Lujan’s vote to confirm Biden’s pick if no Republicans support her…. Jackson was confirmed to [the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit] on a 53-44 Senate vote, winning the backing of three Republicans: Graham, Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski.”
We're also seeing some real bipartisanship on Russia-Ukraine
While 61% of Dems see the conflict as a critical threat, 56% of Republicans agree.
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) February 25, 2022
The Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) for Iraq was bipartisan, too. So was the USA Patriot Act. Many, many very bad ideas are bipartisan.
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!). ; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. . (“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.
* * *
— Neera Tanden🌻 (@neeratanden) February 25, 2022
To be fair to Sanders, I expect liberal Democrat McCarthyism to go off the charts. It might be expedient to get out of the way of the juggernaut.
* * *
“In a Contested Oregon Primary Race, Democrats Back Candidate Taking Fossil Fuel Money” [DeSmog]. “Late last year, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) announced his retirement from Oregon’s 4th District, opening up a seat that he held for more than three decades. He’s earned a reputation in Congress as a champion of transportation and climate policy: He was one of the original cosponsors of the Green New Deal in 2019, and most recently, he helped craft the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was signed into law last year, and also helped shepherd President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda through the House of Representatives, before it ran aground in the Senate. Within hours of DeFazio making his retirement public, Val Hoyle announced her intention to seek his seat. He quickly endorsed her. Hoyle served as a representative in Oregon’s legislature from 2009 to 2017 and is currently the state Labor Commissioner. She quickly consolidated the backing of powerful Democrats, with U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) endorsing her in late January. But at a time when the climate emergency is worsening and the Democrats’ climate agenda is sputtering, DeFazio’s anointed successor for his relatively safe Democratic seat is a candidate who has a long record of supporting Jordan Cove, the now-defunct liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project that southern Oregonians battled for more than 15 years.”
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Electoral Turnovers” (PDF) [NBER]. The Abstract: “In most national elections, voters face a key choice between continuity and change. Electoral turnovers occur when the incumbent candidate or party fails to win reelection. To understand how turnovers affect national outcomes, we study the universe of presidential and parliamentary elections held since 1945. We document the prevalence of turnovers over time and we estimate their effects on economic performance, trade, human development, conflict, and democracy. Using a close-elections regression discontinuity design (RDD) across countries, we show that turnovers improve country performance. These effects are not driven by differences in the characteristics of challengers, or by the fact that challengers systematically increase the level of government intervention in the economy. Electing new leaders leads to more policy change, it improves governance, and it reduces perceived corruption, consistent with the expectation that recently elected leaders exert more effort due to stronger reputation concerns.” • The dataset, however, is worldwide, i.e., not confined to the United States.
“Tracking Viral Misinformation” [New York Times]. The deck: “Times reporters will chronicle and debunk false and misleading information that is going viral online.” Starting with Iraq WMDs? “The nonprofit and nonpartisan group found that 16 percent of Americans, or roughly 41 million people, believed last year in the three key tenets of the [QANON] conspiracy theory. Those are that Satanist pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation control the government and other major institutions, that a coming storm will sweep elites from power and that violence might be necessary to save the country.” • Fortunately, the release of Epstein’s videos and the complete flight logs put that theory to rest. Oh, wait….
Case count by United States regions:
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. I have added a Fauci Line to congratulate the Biden administration for having passed the former guy’s second highest peak on the way down.
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?
Continues encouraging (and independent from the CDC).
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:
What’s with Idaho? Not ski resorts, my first thought, at least from a cursory look at the map. Of course, Idaho is not populous, so a small rise in absolute numbers could be considered “rapid.” 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:
Continuing slow improvement.
Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):
Sea of green once more, including the Northern Marianas. 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):
966,530. A continous drop in the death date, which is good news. Sadly, as of February 22, 1,000,000 – 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.
And now it’s complete because it’s ended here, as the Fremen say in Dune. Ah well, nevertheless.
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