2:00PM Water Cooler 2/8/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Highway noise, but a lovely chorus anyhow!

* * *


“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

“Jan. 6 defendant asks to subpoena Trump as trial witness” [The Hill]. “Attorney Samuel Shamansky on Friday submitted court filings on behalf of his client, Jan. 6 defendant Dustin Thompson, asking for a judge to allow them to subpoena Trump and others to testify as witnesses in Thompson’s trial. ‘Defendant submits that the individuals he seeks to subpoena are in exclusive possession of information relevant to this case. Moreover, their testimony is necessary to ensure that Defendant’s constitutional right to present a complete defense is safeguarded,’ according to the court filings. ‘It is anticipated that, when called as a witness, Donald J. Trump will testify that he and others orchestrated a carefully crafted plot to call into question the integrity of the 2020 presidential election and the validity of President Biden’s victory,’ the filings add. ‘Moreover, it will be established at trial that Mr. Trump and his conspirators engaged in a concerted effort to deceive the public, including Defendant, into believing that American democracy was at stake if Congress was permitted to certify the election results.'” Here the charge: “According to Thompson’s statement of facts and complaint, security footage inside the Capitol allegedly showed him inside the building holding a bottle of bourbon. The court filings also allege that he ran away from law enforcement after he was found with a coat rack that officials believed was inside the Capitol.” • A bottle of bourbon and a coat rack… Bolsheviks these guys were not.

Biden Adminstration

“The nation’s top health official has been a background player for much of his tenure. He says that’s about to change.” [CNN]. “Becerra and his allies in the administration are embarking on an effort to bulk up the secretary’s role, from having a substantive meeting with Biden, which he has never done, to appearing at White House news briefings, which he has also never done.” Oh. More: “Even before his first day on the job, Becerra was behind. During the transition, Biden officials had zeroed in on Gina Raimondo, the then-governor of Rhode Island, known as a technocrat, who had made a surprisingly strong impression on candidate Biden’s running mate vetting team. Biden called to talk through options, and though he didn’t commit, the conversation left her telling people she thought she’d get the offer, according to three people told about the call. According to two people familiar with the transition, Biden’s team had to quickly recalibrate following a letter from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that had called out a lack of Latino representation in Biden’s Cabinet after New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham dropped out of favor for the job. That letter, combined with pushback from progressives about putting the business-friendly Raimondo in that spot, scrapped the governor’s chances for the role. Biden aides scrambled. Becerra, a former congressman who was then the California attorney general, had hoped to be considered for US attorney general but was never given much consideration for that job. The day before he was announced as health and human services secretary, Becerra was unaware the job was an actual possibility. He was announced on the same day in December 2020 that Zients, who had helped oversee the selection process, was named as head of the White House’s Covid-19 task force and given the true power over the administration’s pandemic response. Raimondo was shifted to Commerce, setting off a minor shuffle of other Cabinet jobs. Lujan Grisham turned down her own follow-up offer to be interior secretary.” • Well, Becerra’s HHS sure “looks like America” in the quality of its response to Covid. So there’s that.

“Gov’t watchdog slams federal COVID response, puts HHS on ‘high risk’ list” [Ars Technica]. “The US Health and Human Service Department has botched multiple aspects of its COVID-19 pandemic response, and those failures can be linked back to longstanding leadership and preparedness deficiencies the department has failed to address for more than a decade, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office. ‘These deficiencies have hindered the nation’s response to the current COVID-19 pandemic and a variety of past threats, including other infectious diseases—such as the H1N1 influenza pandemic, Zika, and Ebola—and extreme weather events, such as hurricanes,’ the GAO concluded.” • Klain was Ebola Czar, so he knew about all this stuff. What did he do about it?

“U.S. to spend $725 mln this year on abandoned coal mine cleanup” [Reuters]. ” The Biden administration on Monday said $725 million in federal funds would be available to states this year to clean up abandoned coal mines, one of several initiatives aimed at reducing pollution from decades of fossil fuel development. The money represents a portion of the $11.3 billion allocated to mine reclamation in the infrastructure law that Congress passed last year…. Pennsylvania is eligible for the most funding, nearly $245 million, followed by West Virginia, Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio.” • So Biden did have leverage over Manchin… Now do oil. Except that may be harder–

“Earthquakes in Texas doubled in 2021. Scientists cite years of oil companies injecting sludgy water underground.” [Texas Tribune]. “The record-setting seismic activity is largely concentrated in West Texas’ Permian Basin, the most productive oil and gas region in the state. Scientific studies show that the spike in earthquakes is almost certainly a consequence of disposing huge quantities of contaminated, salty water deep underground — a common practice by oil companies at the end of the hydraulic fracturing process that can awaken dormant fault lines. During hydraulic fracking, oil companies shoot a mixture of fluids and sand through ancient shale formations, fracturing the rock to free the flow of oil. But oil isn’t the only thing that’s been trapped underground for millions of years: Between three and six barrels of salty, polluted water also come up to the surface with every barrel of oil. The cheapest, and most commonly used, way to dispose of this “produced water” is to drill another well and inject it into porous rock formations deep underground.” • Since injection wells are the cheapest, that’s what we did.

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.

* * *

“Memo To Dems: Stop Taking These Maskless Pictures” [The Bulwark]. “Over the past two weeks, several Democratic politicians have found themselves in the Twitter barrel as a result of photographs featuring their maskless (gasp!) faces in situations where either a) officials from their party had instituted a mandate on masks or b) the plebeians who surrounded them were unable to show their pearly whites due to the stringent social covenant in their environs.” • I don’t see the point. Inventing complex algorithms for others and then exempting yourself from them is the essence of what it means to be a liberal Democrat. How would anybody know who the dominant figure in the photo op is if everybody were wearing a mask, for pity’s sake? Let’s be reasonable.

“Data-driven mask policies are a smart approach to managing the pandemic” [Julia Raifman, Linsey Marr, and Alexandra Skinner, The Hill]. “Vaccines and mask policies are among the most effective public health tools for addressing the virus, and these strategies work best in concert. Vaccines remain effective for reducing COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, even with the Delta variant. At the same time, 42 percent of Americans remain unvaccinated and the Delta variant presents a formidable challenge that makes vaccines less effective for preventing transmission. Outbreaks at college campuses, dinner parties and concerts show that the virus can spread widely, even in highly vaccinated populations. Mask policies can protect vaccinated and unvaccinated people and reduce COVID-19 cases and deaths during surges. As policymakers consider when to require masks now that vaccines are available, data-driven mask policies such as Nevada’s are a practical and effective approach. The state’s simple policy is based on the CDC’s guidance. The policy requires everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks indoors in areas with ‘substantial’ or ‘high’ levels of COVID-19 transmission, as defined by the CDC. The policy is implemented at the state level and is linked to local, county-level data. Counties can lift indoor mask requirements once COVID-19 transmission rates drop to ‘low’ or ‘moderate’ levels for seven days.” • Marr is certainly a highly competent aerosol scientist and fighting the good fight. Perhaps I’m too pessimistic, but this reads to me like a desperate attempt to get liberal Democrats to save masking at all, in the face of a bad-faith libertarian onslaught many of them secretly agree with (having abandoned the notion of “public health,” or even of a public). The trigger is “smart,” a putative value in which liberal Democrats deeply believe; in practice, it means complexity and deference to gatekeepers, as here. If, a year ago, the Biden Administration had mounted a public relations effort on the scale of “This is your brain on drugs,” universal masking wouldn’t even be a problem.

“Disease, Disability, and Paternalism in the Fight for Medicare for All” [Monthly Review]. “The U.S. for-profit health care system is so profitable, in fact, that it spares no expense to ensure that our politicians parrot industry propaganda. The health care lobby is not just pulling the strings on Republican policy. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Democrats raked in 63 percent of the lobby’s $452 million in individual and political action committee contributions in the 2020 election alone. Including shady soft money contributions, the health care industry spent a total of $639 million on political influence in the most recent election cycle. Since the election, the president and Congress have reaffirmed their fealty to the health care lobby by subsidizing the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act rather than guaranteeing health care for all of us. After all, no candidate accepted more money from the health care lobby in the 2020 election than Joe Biden.” • Oh.

“California’s single-payer healthcare effort is dead. Why it isn’t going away” [Los Angeles Times]. “Newsom has since focused on a more attainable path to universal healthcare by offering coverage to the largest uninsured population in the state — people living in the country illegally.” • That should play well in 2024.


* * *

“Crossing lines, Manchin endorses Murkowski’s Senate campaign” [Associated Press]. “Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin on Sunday endorsed Republican colleague Lisa Murkowski for reelection, crossing party lines to back the incumbent from Alaska who faces a primary challenger supported by former President Donald Trump. The conservative West Virginia lawmaker said he has teamed well with Murkowski in the 50-50 Senate to build bipartisan support for legislation such as President Joe Biden’s infrastructure law. He said Alaska and the Senate are well-served with her in office. ‘It’s hypocritical to basically work with a person day in and day out and then, when they’re in cycle, you’re supposed to be against them because they have an R or D by their name,’ said Manchin, who appeared with Murkowski on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ to promote the values of bipartisanship.” • “In cycle.” I’ve never heard that phrase.

Republican Funhouse

“DeSantis refuses to say with whom he sides in Trump-Pence rift” [The Hill]. “Former President Trump has repeatedly asserted that Pence had the authority to toss out the election results. Pence, however, sharply rebuked that idea, saying at a Federalist Society event in Florida on Friday that it is ‘un-American’ to think that one person could overturn the will of the voters.’There are those in our party who believe that as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress, I possessed unilateral authority to reject Electoral College votes. And I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to ‘overturn the election,” Pence said. ‘President Trump is wrong,’ he continued. ‘I had no right to overturn the election.’ Asked on Monday about where he stands on the issue, DeSantis declined to weigh in. ‘I’m not. I …’ DeSantis said, according to NBC News. After being pressed on the question by reporters, the Florida governor abruptly changed topics, saying that he had a ‘great working relationship’ with the Trump administration.” • Which is no longer an Administration.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Signaling Virtuous Victimhood as Indicators of Dark Triad Personalities” (PDF) [Journal of Personality and Social Psychology]. From 2020, still germane. “We investigate the consequences and predictors of emitting signals of victimhood and virtue. In our first three studies, we show that the virtuous victim signal can facilitate nonreciprocal resource transfer from others to the signaler. Next, we develop and validate a victim signaling scale that we combine with an established measure of virtue signaling to operationalize the virtuous victim construct. We show that individuals with Dark Triad traits—Machiavellianism, Narcissism, Psychopathy—more frequently signal virtuous victimhood, controlling for demographic and socioeconomic variables that are commonly associated with victimization in Western societies. In Study 5, we show that a specific dimension of Machiavellianism—amoral manipulation—and a form of narcissism that reflects a person’s belief in their superior prosociality predict more frequent virtuous victim signaling. Studies 3, 4, and 6 test our hypothesis that the frequency of emitting virtuous victim signal predicts a person’s willingness to engage in and endorse ethically questionable behaviors, such as lying to earn a bonus, intention to purchase counterfeit products and moral judgments of counterfeiters, and making exaggerated claims about being harmed in an organizational context.” • Hmm. Certainly gives an account of Successor Ideology. Perhaps some readers can evaluate the methodology?

Trusting the science:

Nice shot of Monica Ghandi. Notice what’s attached to the ribbon for the “ribbon cutting ceremony”:

Child, listening to the story: “And then what happened?” Adult: “The ghouls won, sweetie. But only temporarily.”


Case count by United States regions:

I have added an anti-triumphalist “Fauci Line” to highlight that the peak created by Biden and his team — Klain, Zeints, Fauci, Walensky — was so enormous that even now, after rapid decline, the case (under-)count is still higher than the best the former guy could do. This is an impressive achievement by the adults in the room! (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!

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Continues encouraging. 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.

A good question:

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

Continued improvement (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:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Guam finallly gets it together, so I can make the joke I’ve been waiting forever to make: “Sky of blue And sea of green In our yellow Submarine (submarine, ya-haa!” (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.)

Just a reminder:

As with everything else, because the United States is not a serious country, our hospitalization data is bad. Here the baseilne is off:

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 928,879 926,029. I sure hope we break a million before Biden’s State of the Union speech.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Good news here too. For the time being.

Stats Watch

Small Business Optimism: “United States NFIB Business Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index in the United States fell to an 11-month low of 97.1 in January of 2022, compared to 98.9 in December, as labour shortages and high prices weighed. “More small business owners started the New Year raising prices in an attempt to pass on higher inventory, supplies, and labor costs. Supply-chain disruptions and labor shortages will limit the ability of many firms to meet increased demand of their products and services,” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said.”

* * *

The Bezzle: Amazon, the sucking vampire:

A third seems rather a lot, particularly when (a) Amazon will steal your project and make it their own and (b) their marketplace is entirely unregulated and a cesspit of counterfitting and fraud.

Tne Bezzle: “Why the Hell Is the World Wildlife Fund Selling Animal NFTs?” [The New Republic]. “WWF’s entry into the cryptocurrency space raises a number of questions, including: “Why?” and, “Aren’t animals definitionally non-fungible?” It’s easy to skewer this as a shameless fundraising gimmick, because that’s exactly what it is. But it’s also part of a broader movement toward financializing nature and its protection: NFTs for conservation are the natural extension of a philosophy that suggests asset ownership can save the planet. Environmental economists have long argued that assigning a more accurate value to greenhouse gas emissions—namely through various sorts of carbon pricing—will allow markets to better reflect their costs, sending a signal to companies and consumers to weed out planet-killing activities. In recent years that logic has created an enthusiasm among finance types for so-called “nature-based assets” that monetize the protection of endangered species and biodiversity, among other things. That’s included a push to assign prices to traditionally free ecological processes that maintain amenities like clean air and water, transforming them into “natural capital” so that markets can recognize their worth. In 2019, for instance, the International Monetary Fund estimated the value of a whale at $2 million, thanks to the amount of carbon dead whales capture.”

The Bezzle: “NFTs Are the Ticket to New York’s Newest Social Clubs” [Bloomberg]. “When Maxwell Tribeca opens its doors in July, it will have all the elements that define a certain kind of social club: a prestigious address, swanky decor, exclusive perks for members, and a well-heeled and well-connected founding team. But that’s not enough for David Litwak, founder and former chief executive officer of the tech travel platform Mozio. To become a member, you’ll also need to get involved in one of the buzziest corners of the crypto market. The 8,000 square-foot space, which will be located at 135 Watts Street, is modeled after the eating clubs known as txokos of San Sebastian, Spain. Entry will require owning a so-called nonfungible token, or NFT—a kind of crypto asset being touted by everyone from Tom Brady to Melania Trump. NFTs are digital tokens that act like certificates of authenticity for, and in some cases represent ownership of, assets that range from expensive illustrations of apes to collectibles like celebrity autographs and physical goods like a case of rare whisky. Increasingly, as is the case with Maxwell Tribeca, they operate as a kind of passport to rarefied spaces and experiences—access that in this case includes your own liquor lockers.” • If Jeffrey Epstein had owned some NFTs he would be alive today….

The Bezzle: “Celebrities and NFTs Are a Match Made in Hell” [The Atlantic]. “If Hilton and Fallon and their celebrity friends are going to go out there and pump-and-dump their way to additional wealth, they could at least do the rest of us the courtesy of being a little more discreet about it. Instead, they sound like they think this is stupid, and like they think the rest of us might be stupid enough to buy in.”

The Bezzle: “Tesla Subpoenaed by SEC About Complying With Musk Settlement” [Bloomberg]. “Tesla Inc. received another subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission about a subject that keeps coming up: Elon Musk’s tweeting in 2018 that he was considering taking the carmaker private. The SEC issued the subpoena Nov. 16, seeking information about Tesla’s governance processes and compliance with a settlement reached with the agency in September 2018, the company said in a regulatory filing. Tesla had agreed to put in place controls to oversee Musk’s communications — including his tweets — after the SEC alleged the chief executive officer committed securities fraud by saying he had secured funding for the company to go private. Musk and the SEC have been at loggerheads ever since.”

Tech: “Mac malware spreading for ~14 months installs backdoor on infected systems” [Ars Technica]. “Mac malware known as UpdateAgent has been spreading for more than a year, and it is growing increasingly malevolent as its developers add new bells and whistles. The additions include the pushing of an aggressive second-stage adware payload that installs a persistent backdoor on infected Macs…. Microsoft said UpdateAgent masquerades as legitimate software, such as video apps or support agents, that is spread through pop-ups or ads on hacked or malicious websites. Microsoft didn’t explicitly say so, but users apparently must be tricked into installing UpdateAgent, and during that process, Gatekeeper works as designed.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 36 Fear (previous close: 34 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 34 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 8 at 1:29pm. Been stuck in the mid-30s for awhile. This is boring!

Health Care

Good question. Remember when liberal Democrats wanted us to be “smart shoppers” for ObamaCare? In other words, to “do our own research”?

So why shouldn’t we be “smart shoppers” for vaccines, NPIs, and treatments, such as they are? (The real answer is that it’s a heck of a lot easier to buy an insurance policy, horrid though the experience is, than it is to became a layperson expert on Covid. That’s what Yves and I and many readers have done here, and it takes a lot of time and dedication, and we had to go it because the CDC, the Administration, and the PMC weren’t doing their jobs (supposing their jobs to be saving lives, instead of culling the population).



Apparently the Lisa Cook hearing didn’t go so well either….

Zeitgeist Watch

How it started:

How it’s going:

Class Warfare

From one of our very few labor reporters:

News of the Wired

Public service announcement:

* * *

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 (Carla):

Carla writes: “Shaker Lakes Nature Center, Cleveland, OH.” Not daisies, but asters? That’s a lovely exposure, too!

* * *

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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. Eustachedesaintpierre

      As to the 34%, in the UK & Ireland traditional giftware stores charged 50 %, Art galleries online or not 30 – 50 % & there was the also the added cost of transporting stock to them, but the Trad stores actually had to handle it & didn’t steal your work. The owner of the last company I worked for hated them & saw them as the equivalent of shopkeepers during the Yukon gold rush. Many went bust after 2008 with others following on since, with large chains stocked with product straight off the boat from China being the vast majority of those remaining. He now only sells through the company website but also through Amazon & many other sites but got hit hard in 2020 due to Covid caused supply line problems.

      Another knock on effect is that trade shows have been far less busy, which I doubt Covid has helped & I have consistently received reports that even in the gigantic fairs in Frankfurt & NEC Birmingham it’s pointless to visit as it has been stocked with the same old shite except for the high end stuff for years. I have also noticed personally over the last decade or so is that the stock in airport & ferry stores has hardly changed at all & if it has it is with cheaper crap, almost like pound stores.

  1. MarthaSoCal

    “The US Health and Human Service Department has botched multiple aspects of its COVID-19 pandemic response, and those failures can be linked back to longstanding leadership and preparedness deficiencies the department has failed to address for more than a decade,”

    When does the president fire Fauci?

    1. rowlf

      Maybe take the Gravity’s Rainbow approach to Fauci and launch him into heaven on top of a missile?

      Keep rising?

  2. NorD94

    more coronavirus cryptic lineages

    San Fran Bay Area:

    Poop sleuths discover mysterious COVID in California’s sewage https://www.dailynews.com/2022/02/07/poop-sleuths-discover-mysterious-coronavirus-in-californias-sewage/

    A mysterious lineage of the COVID-19 virus – containing a large and startling collection of mutations — has appeared in California’s wastewater system, proof that the fast-moving pathogen is continuing to test new survival strategies.

    Here’s what else is weird: Very similar “cryptic lineages” – viral fragments with novel patterns of mutations – have been found in the sewage of other cities, such as New York City and St. Louis, Missouri. These findings were published in the journal Nature Communications on Thursday. Similar discoveries, not yet published, have reportedly been made in other U.S. cities.

    So far, the California lineage has only appeared sporadically. And it’s been found in just one of the nine different city and county wastewater sites screened by UCB scientists, who would not disclose the specific locations.

    “We saw it appear and then disappear, and then appear and then disappear” beginning last November, said microbial ecologist Rose Kantor, assistant research engineer and project manager, who first detected it. “So we expect we’ll probably see it again in the future.”

    St. Louis, Missouri:

    Research team including MU professor detects ‘cryptic’ COVID variants in New York City sewers https://www.columbiamissourian.com/news/research-team-including-mu-professor-detects-cryptic-covid-variants-in-new-york-city-sewers/article_381c40a2-8537-11ec-b5fa-33aba4d2fb81.html

    Johnson had ample experience in analyzing wastewater for COVID-19 variants. As a researcher at Missouri’s Coronavirus Sewershed Surveillance Project, he had been examining samples of sewage water from 59 community wastewater facilities from across the state since May 2020.

    In March 2021, when carrying out wastewater analysis in his lab at the university’s Bond Life Sciences Center, Johnson discovered a “cryptic” lineage in samples from St. Louis, which persisted for six weeks. However, afterwards, that lineage disappeared.

    Nature with more NYC details:

    Tracking cryptic SARS-CoV-2 lineages detected in NYC wastewater https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-28246-3

    1. Batman

      Coronaviruses have animal reservoirs, so these mutant lineages are probably from rats deer mice etc and pose no threat to human beings. Probably a nothingburger. We’re sequencing things without really knowing what we’re looking at…

  3. TBellT

    If, a year ago, the Biden Administration had mounted a public relations effort on the scale of “This is your brain on drugs,” universal masking wouldn’t even be a problem.

    Because we all know how successful the war on drugs was. Sorry, I just can’t believe this. I saw the giant baby temper tantrum to masks in the beginning; it’s just another way for Americans to maintain the lies about their “freedoms”. Maybe the culture can/will be changed around this but on the order of years not months.

      1. thoughtfulperson

        The goal really is culling the population.

        Opiod epidemic might be 100,000 / yr, covid much more effective, but it all adds up.

        Everything going according to plan!

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          And the nice thing about covid from the upper class viewpoint is that multiple re-infections will stack up into the kind of post-covid organ failure which will kill a hundred million FICA taxpayers just in time to stop them from living long enough to collect Social Security and Medicare.

          Since this will remain policy as long as the upper classes and their minions and assistants are allowed to remain in physical existence, what view should be taken on permitting the upper classes and their minions and assistants to remain in physical existence in a state of being alive?

          Any thoughts?


  4. griffen

    Biden administration and “this is your brain on drugs” suggestion. I recall those PSA commercials running in the 80s. Your brain on drugs is like a frying egg in a hot pan. That and the Just Say No commercials and occasional inclusion of that motto in a family comedy “deeper meaning” episode.

    Then again, think of the potential photo op for the chicken and egg! Let the debate begin. I say the chicken come first. \sarc

  5. jr

    I have to say I enjoyed the Amanda Mull piece in The Atlantic. That may literally be a first. It covered all I needed to know. I have intentionally avoided learning more about NFT’s because, as Ms. Mull points out, there is something so horribly desperate and hollow about the whole idea that I find it depressing to consider. Celebrities and NFT’s are a match made in Hell, in fact they are pretty much the same thing if you consider them all as empty symbols whose only value* exists due to a kind of mob psychosis.

    *This isn’t to say the artist/art is necessarily not valuable, I’m targeting the entity known as the “celebrity” and it’s attendant lunacies.

  6. jr

    “It’s hypocritical to basically work with a person day in and day out and then, when they’re in cycle, you’re supposed to be against them because they have an R or D by their name,’ said Manchin, who appeared with Murkowski on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ to promote the values of bipartisanship.”

    Wow, I never thought I’d hear the truth come out of Manchin’s mouth. It is hypocritical! Why pretend to fight when everyone really get’s along anyway, on the basics? Go Team Purple!

      1. Carla

        Manchin does not work either with or for his constituents. In this of course, he is no different than any other “senator” or “congress critter.” They work with their fellow grifters, and they work for their owners.

  7. Val

    The Thrilla in Vanilla?

    Layperson expert


    Data-driven bad-faith libertarian onslaught

    Context: 24+ full rounds of institutional heavyweight rope-a-dope!

    Now, off to curate cryptic sequences for interesting insertions.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Great link – thanks. I said it in Nov 2020 – Prop 22 was the most important election result of that year, and not in a good way.

  8. Tom Stone

    Having Becerra front and center may not be a good idea.
    He’s less competent and honest than Marcie Frost, however he is lazier..
    A lot lazier.
    His one real skill is sucking up, think basketball through a garden hose.

    1. The Rev Kev

      He should do quite well in DC then. Old Joe Biden is reputedly lazy and I don’t see Kamala being a powerhouse of work either. The article said that he was ‘a background player’ but if was anymore of one, he would fade into the wallpaper. I never see mention of him in the news.

  9. Wukchumni

    What if we turned all of those big rigs in Coma City into NFT’s (non-functional trucks) and similar to Vancouver real estate, they skyrocketed in value, making all the pissed off truckies rich…

    …is the world reliant upon me to come up with all the solutions?

    1. John

      Patrick Lawrence does have a way with words. I keep a file of his pieces as I come across them. Wise man.

  10. super extra

    re: canadian truckers

    The difference in response by Canadian authorities between the pipeline protests have been breathtaking in their hypocrisy. I’m just a dumb American, but if I were a water protector I’d be taking notes for my next action!

  11. Jason Boxman

    I guess regarding “adults” in the room, the larger issue is whether a set of people susceptible to such mass delusions, such as “violent insurrection”, RussiaGate, Obama as a great president, and so forth, could possible bring forth a coherent policy response to a pandemic? And we sadly have an answer to that question.

    Any response to Climate Change likely necessitates a policy response far more destructive to capitalist reproduction than what we’d need to contain the pandemic. (State-capitalism seems alive and well in China, even under the zero-COVID policy.) So we’re getting a bold preview of the dire failures to come as well; A trial run, if you will, of elite incompetence and malfeasance.

    Stay safe out there!

  12. Wukchumni

    Peloton was quite something, they convinced everybody that they needed a really spendy stationary bicycle, the stock went through the roof and then it crashed and 2,800 employees were laid off in the tour de finance.

    1. Pate

      Cutting 2800 jobs and replacing the CEO has the stock price up 25% today (prolly a short squeeze). BEFORE the stock crashed 80% in the last few months the now gone CEO sold $119 million worth of stock and the now also gone company President sold $105 million worth of stock. I’m sure both are getting golden parachutes to boot. Res ipsa liquitor. And stinks too. Whew!

      Amfortas you, your wife and sons in my thoughts and vibes all day. The circle has spoken – may the words comfort you.

  13. The Rev Kev

    ‘Newsom has since focused on a more attainable path to universal healthcare by offering coverage to the largest uninsured population in the state’

    Newsom, being a good Democrat, will next pass laws to winnow the voting rolls of any people that might possibly, maybe, be not entitled to vote, especially those of a darker hue. At the same time, he will be passing laws to enable illegal immigrants the right to vote as was passed in that other Democrat bastion, New York.

      1. JBird4049

        I’m guessing that the undocumented are California’s largest group without health insurance, but that the groups with the awful coverage and high premiums under Obamacare, the often tattered plans of businesses, or of the problematic supplemental Medicare plans together or perhaps separately also could have used the latest proposed California single payer system.

        It is marvelous political jujitsu as the American citizens and permanent residents who lost when the last bill was blocked can be labeled as bigots and haters when they justifiably complain after Governor Newsom puts forth a plan for the undocumented, but not for anyone else.

        Divide and conquer for political power. American politicos are good at that even as slaughter entire nations including their own.

  14. juanholio

    The Bezzle.


    “The hacker that breached Bitfinex purportedly laundered roughly 25,000 of the stolen Bitcoins after moving them to a wallet under Lichtenstein’s control, with some being directed to accounts that both he and his wife controlled. The agents managed to seize the remaining 94,000 BTC — equivalent to $4.15 billion as of press time.”

    This is the website and music video of the young wife/rapper/fashion designer/influencer indicted for the theft: https://razzlekhan.com/


    $2 billion in laundered BTC can certainly buy you some epic cringe!

  15. Wukchumni

    Here’s an interesting German pseudo-documentary from 1998 that’s a bit chilling and timely, as drums of war beat a tattoo in the here and now…

    It depicts what might have transpired if, following the overthrow of Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet troops, under orders from a new hard-line regime, had opened fire on demonstrators in Berlin in the fall of 1989 and precipitated World War III. The film mixes real footage of world leaders and archive footage of (for example) combat exercises and news events, with newly shot footage of citizens, soldiers, and political staff. (Wiki)

    Der Dritte Weltkrieg (The Third World War) {1:27 hours}


  16. jr

    Krystal kicks human ovoid Brian Stelter’s a$$ so hard he could poke a feather in it and wear it as a hat:


    His, in his bumbling words, “rogue” hagiography of Zucker is hilarious and grotesque at the same time. He proudly goes on about how Zucker made CNN what it is, which made me laugh out loud with the unreflective absurdity of it. Marvelously, he rejects criticism of CNN as being the fault of people who don’t actually watch CNN. They just read criticisms of CNN. Where the ur-criticisms in this logical ring arose is a mystery he fails to address. Perhaps he is an idealist and is proposing some criticism-in-itself of CNN that exists on a another plane of reality? Does he really want to go that route? Now that’s baked in.

    As Krystal acidly points out, Stelter is a pathetic media figure, he interviews people poorly and his answers/reactions are canned and sold discount. Why, then, does he have the job? She points out because he is the thing you see before you. A sycophantic caricature demanding to be taken seriously.

      1. ambrit

        I hope that he has saved a lot of his probably bloated salary. Now that his “patron” is gone, he and the other Zuckerite sycophants’ days are numbered.
        In the world of broadcast “news,” what is the equivalent of being sent down to the minor leagues?

        1. jr

          I think Saager mentions that Discovery, who is buying or bought CNN, doesn’t care for the work environment that Zucker fostered. It’ll be the hammers. And so richly deserved. They will propagate to other venues of garbage but it’s nice to see that dark tower taking a hit.

          1. ambrit

            I just had to laugh thinking of CNN being owned and run by the Discovery Channel. (One can dream, can one not?)

  17. Wukchumni

    Nations are not ruined by one act of violence, but gradually and in an almost imperceptible manner by the depreciation of their circulating currency, through its excessive quantity.


  18. Glen

    Any predictions on how America handles COVID-19 going forward?

    It looks like people with health conditions need to be careful.

    Data: 95% of people who died of COVID-19 in Travis County had underlying health conditions

    And it looks like a lot of us have bad health conditions.

    44% of older millennials already have a chronic health condition. Here’s what that means for their futures

    Everybody knows we are pushing our health care workers to the brink.

    Pandemic has made shortage of health care workers even worse, say experts

    The industry is responding by getting laws passed to cap worker pay:

    This Legislation Could Cap Travel Nurse Pay, Staffing Agencies Accused of “Price Gouging”

    Wow, price gouging? My wife and I had to get rabies shots. These cost $22,000 per person about five years ago. I bet these cost more now.

    Despite all of this, and all the healthcare workers being worked till they drop, there are record profits.

    Pandemic profits: top US health insurers make billions in second quarter

    My prediction – profits will stay up so expect more of the same: more death, more disease, less nurses, less doctors, less hospital beds.

    And for those TOO YOUNG to remember:

    DYK: Before 1973, It Was Illegal in the U.S. to Profit Off Healthcare

    Seems like we were smart enough at one time to not make our health (or lack of it) a profit center. Just another example of how the common good has been systematically destroyed in America.

  19. Acacia

    A little epidemic news from Japan: COVID-19 case numbers are still increasing slowly. Local media refers to this as the sixth wave. In Kanagawa, just next to Tokyo, there’s been a significant increase in the number of public schools temporarily closed since late January, with as many as 58 schools (about 1/3 of the total) closed on 01/24 alone, including 23 in Yokohama.

    If a student, teacher or staff tests positive, the school is closed until contact tracing can be performed, but this often takes days as health center employees are overworked, prolonging the closure. In response, a new policy is now in effect such that the school staff identify the close contacts and reports them to the heath center. This has allowed fewer schools to close.

    Regarding alternative treatments, a psychiatrist comments on a shortage of Fluvoxamine “everywhere” and that it has been necessary for her to request that patients consider substitutes such as Zoloft. “It’s an emergency,” she comments, “I’ll say it again. Medically, Japan is in a critical situation.” It seems there are supply chain issues related to ingredients for pharmaceutical production in Japan.

    She also mentions that she uses Ivermectin, not Molnupiravir, and that IVM seems extremely effective for sore throat; patients were surprised at how well it seems to work.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > patients consider substitutes such as Zoloft

      That it’s OK to dose patients with anti-depressants, but not ok to give then anti-parasitic drugs, says more about our medical establishment than it does about treatment, I think.

  20. VietnamVet

    When state propaganda becomes completely detached from reality, nations fall. Sending Rochelle Walensky and Xavier Becerra for message training or Mayo Pete Buttigieg to leadership class won’t work. To do their jobs, in the first place, they must do what is best for Americans; not serve the interests of the corporate global elite only.

    After Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, Donald Trump’s Russiagate, and Anthony Fauci’s Coronavirus Pandemic, all trust is gone. “Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine” agitprop operation isn’t working. If there is a European War or not, the Western Empire (USA/UK) is in a free fall. The only question is how bad the landing will be.

    1. Basil Pesto

      I think Wen is angling for Walensky’s job when the latter gets the flick. Extreme & nauseating Biden sycophancy.

  21. thoughtful person

    Kevin Sorbo
    If the shots were given away for free because they’re life-saving, why isn’t insulin free? Chemotherapy? Epipens?

    The answer is found by looking at whos lives are saved. There is a potential for a billionaire (aka “master of the universe”) to die from infectious disease. Epipens and insulin for the poor won’t save any billionaires.

    1. Basil Pesto

      That doesn’t make sense. Billionaires would be able to afford vaccines easily if they weren’t free, just as they can afford epipens and insulin.

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