Will Biden Govern? The Omarova Edition

While political reporters love the drama due to Co-President Manchin’s and Manic Pixie Dream Senator Sinema’s antics, there are several other poorly behaving Democrats who are attempting to block the appointment of an aggressive bank regulator, Saule Omarova, to head the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) (boldface mine):

Three of the Democrats—Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)—voted for a 2018 bank deregulation bill that Omarova criticized at the time. By opposing Biden’s pick to regulate major banks, they are joining hands with the bank lobby, which has led an unusually intense opposition campaign against the Cornell law professor. Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO) have also indicated they would vote against Omarova.

Is this that populism pollster David Shor keeps talking about? Anyway, there is a possible workaround:

Following the news, which was reported the day before Thanksgiving by Axios, several progressives proposed a solution: The White House could name Omarova first deputy comptroller, a position that does not require confirmation.

Omarova could replace Acting Comptroller Michael Hsu, effectively putting her in charge of the agency, since Biden would not need to nominate a Senate-confirmed comptroller to the top job, said Yevgeny Shrago, a policy analyst with the advocacy group Public Citizen.

The move has recent precedent. Two comptrollers under President Trump’s, Keith Noreika and Brian Brooks, were never confirmed, but led the agency as acting comptrollers. Hsu has served as Acting Comptroller for more than six months.

Biden should do the same with Omarova, Shrago said. She could be selected as deputy comptroller, making her acting director with all the powers of a full chair.

Noreika and Brooks were very active, despite their nominal status as temps…

Omarova could run the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) indefinitely as acting comptroller, according to Jeff Hauser of The Center for Economic and Policy Research. While the Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 limits how long some acting officials can remain in a position, it does not apply here, Hauser said. Instead, the National Bank Act gives the Treasury Secretary full authority to designate a first deputy without a fixed limit.

And if you’re wondering if this would be the first time a Democratic president defied Democratic senators, well…

Other examples abound. In 2015, after Elizabeth Warren successfully resisted the nomination of investment banker Antonio Weiss for a top job at the Treasury, Barack Obama gave Weiss a non-confirmable position as a senior counselor at Treasury, from which he was given wide latitude to design Puerto Rico’s punitive debt restructuring.

If it’s good enough for Obama… although he was helping the banks, not hurting. But if Biden were serious about governing, then he should do this. Let’s see Democratic senators publicly defend lax bank regulation. Good luck with that if they want to be re-elected.

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Links 11/29/21

Links for you. Science:

Do vaccines protect against long COVID? What the data say (the willingness of The Discourse™ to pretend long COVID doesn’t exist–and thus shouldn’t be accounted for when making policy decisions–is an abomination)
If academia better supported women scientists like me, I may have opted to stay
The real risk of heart inflammation to kids is from COVID-19—not the vaccine
“Vulture bees” evolved a taste for flesh—and their microbiomes reflect that
Genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in Belgium
What the COVID Omicron Variant Really Means, and What Experts Are Worried About. The new COVID omicron variant – discovered in South Africa and identified in Israel – has a very large number of mutations in critical parts of its spike protein


SCHMUCK IN REVERSE (this whole post is excellent, must-read)
The Great Escape: Why workers are quitting their jobs, after the trauma of the pandemic.
Why Moderna Won’t Share Rights to the COVID Vaccine With the Govt That Paid for It
Free-bus experiment could lead to something bigger (it does make the buses go faster)
Frustrated by vaccine inequity, a South African lab rushes to replicate Moderna’s shot
For the MFA, Benin Bronzes are a troubling gift
The hypocrisy argument on the filibuster is itself phony
When pets kill. I was viscerally reminded of our cat’s catness when he bumped off another animal in the house. How was I supposed to feel about him now?
D.C.-area business owners greet news of omicron variant with anxiety and resignation (interesting that most of the businesses interviewed want a return to mandatory masking. Bowser really fucked up)
Closer to Home. Getting beyond the transportation debate of city versus suburb
Could artificial intelligence have written this story?
Moderna says an omicron variant vaccine could be ready in early 2022
I Guess Regulated Taxi Fares Were Good, Akshually
Man Who Went To COVID Party to Build Immunity Dies From the Virus
The dangerous extremism that’s killing the Democrats is extreme centrism
How will the media cover Trump in 2024? Insiders are sounding the alarm.
Inside the ‘big wave’ of misinformation targeted at Latinos
D.C. Council Bill Seeks to Close Gap in Librarians and Literacy
Build Back Better Does Not Implement the Child Care and Pre-K Plans (professional Democrats are still not serious about governance)
Republican caught denouncing vaccines to Fox News then supporting them to CNN just hours later
Climate Change Is Messing With the Smithsonian Collections (NYT story here)

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Some HAWT TAEKS on Omicron

With this as an overarching caveat:

Anyway, some HAWT TAEKS:

  1. The key thing is to Keep Calm and Carry On. Unless you’re laying odds in Vegas on an Omicron surge and you ‘need’ to know what will happen over the long term, over the short and medium terms, it’s the same policy as before: depending on the prevalence and vaccination, indoor masking, testing, and vaccination (along with improvements in ventilation and cheap rapid testing–but you, as an individual, probably can’t do that much about those things).
  2. Will it be better at dodging the immune system, even in vaccinated people? Nobody knows that right now. It does have a lot of changes in the spike protein that suggest this, but it also has two changes that previously were thought to be disadvantageous for the virus. So we don’t know. Remember that there have been other variants that are harder for the immune system to grapple with that haven’t taken off globally. And southern Africa, the region, has some unique characteristics (we’ll get to that).
  3. Will it spread? Most variants have spread somewhat, but haven’t dominated globally, but I have no idea right now–there’s some dumb luck, in either direction, involved with all of this. Moving on to southern Africa, the region, and South Africa, the country…
  4. Should we blame South Africa (the country) or claim that it originated from there? No to both. We don’t know where it originated, but South Africa is the regional hub for surveillance, so if it originated in another country and spread to South Africa, it likely would be detected only when it hit South Africa. Besides, it’s not like the U.S. response to COVID has been… exemplary, so blaming other countries is more than a little hypocritical.
  5. This is a point only a few people in The Discourse™ have raised, but seems important: there is likely a significant role of immunocompromised people with long-term infections (many weeks or months) in the generation of novel variants. When these patients are sampled through time, the pace of evolution within a patient is much more rapid. This shouldn’t be surprising, but what it means is that we need to protect immunocompromised people to protect ourselves (though we should protect sick people for their own sake because who wants to suck as a human?).
  6. Returning to southern Africa, there is an incredibly high prevalence of HIV in southern Africa. In South Africa, 18.1% of people are HIV-positive (that’s not a typo, eighteen percent). Other southern African countries have a lower prevalence, but the surveillance in those countries isn’t as good either. That means a significant fraction of those who are supposed to be the healthiest (younger adults) are immunocompromised. It’s not clear that what happens (and will happen) in South Africa is a model for countries with much lower HIV prevalence (e.g., in the U.S., 0.35% of the population is HIV positive). In addition, some of South Africa’s political response (not the public health workers’ response) to HIV/AIDS would have made Trump sound sane, and Florida Governor and COVID Quisling Ron DeSantis cringe. Western pharmaceutical companies’ greed has compounded this. There is a ton of misinformation, disinformation, and distrust, which doesn’t help matters at all. Again, extrapolating from this particular circumstance might not shed as much light as we would like.
  7. To repeat, even if Omicron turns out to be a nothingburger, as long as we don’t protect the immunocompromised (and increase vaccination rates in general), we are creating conditions for more variants. To use a(n odious) phrase, we have to fight it over there, so we don’t fight it here.
  8. The one truly scary thing from South Africa, and may have nothing to do with Omicron at all, is the report over the weekend that 61 out of 624 passengers on a single plane from South Africa to the Netherlands tested positive for COVID. All passengers were supposed to have either a recent negative test or have been vaccinated. Hopefully, that’s an reporting error or an artifact of a very sensitive PCR test (i.e., they were ‘infected’, but at such low levels or long enough before that they are unable to transmit the virus, even though viral RNA could be detected). But at face value, that report and its implications for air travel, not TEH OMICRON, is what worries me right now.

Those are my provisional HAWT TAEKS.

Posted in COVID-19 | 2 Comments

Links 11/28/21

Links for you. Science:

Florida tops 1,000 manatee deaths in grim single-year record
Paxlovid is NOT “#Pfizermectin”
Cuba’s bet on home-grown COVID vaccines is paying off. Preprint data show that a three-dose combo of Soberana jabs has 92.4% efficacy in clinical trials. (preprint here)
Could a good night’s sleep improve COVID-19 vaccine efficacy?
Variation in COVID-19 Mortality in the US by Race and Ethnicity and Educational Attainment


South Africa delays COVID vaccine deliveries as inoculations slow (relevant re Omicron)
We’re a Small Arkansas Newspaper. Why Is the State Making Us Sign a Pledge About Israel?
‘Let’s get a little ugly’: North Carolina lieutenant governor says straight couples ‘superior’ to gay couples
It’s time for a history lesson — one that doesn’t leave out America’s native people
Why Donald Trump exalts Kyle Rittenhouse: Nothing gets the base going like violence
As Covid Infections Spread, Nursing Homes Lag Behind on the Rollout for Booster Shots
Special Ed Department at East Chapel Hill High in Turmoil After Educator Complaints (completely cryptic title, but “Parker said he has been pushed in and out of his regular classroom after one parent requested that their child doesn’t work with African American males.”)
The Housing Proposal That’s Quietly Tearing Apart Atlanta
Rough and Unready: When the pandemic hit, governmental assistance was a damn mess
How Dems Saved the Economy
What The People Want
Thanks to COVID-19, the future could be full of fire, explosions, and really, really bad food (and long COVID)
Macho Macho Men
Southern states fall behind in vaccinating kids as pediatric infections climb
‘Data tax’ could be next blow to Chinese tech giants (and if China makes it work, will other countries adopt it?)
Hanukkah’s darker origins feel more relevant in time of rising antisemitism, intense interest in identity
Attempted breach of Ohio county election network draws FBI and state scrutiny (by the people who claim fraud…)
A historian of white power reacts to the Rittenhouse verdict: ‘a bonanza for the far-right’
One Target store. One huge spike in shoplifting reports. What does it mean for San Francisco?
With hundreds of nominees to confirm, the Senate doesn’t deserve Thanksgiving break
My kitty can’t stop watching this German cat commercial
The GOP Dark Money Group Giving Big to White Supremacists
Former Trump Adviser Steve Cortes Out at Newsmax

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Ginkgo, Fallen

Observed on Swann St NW between 15th and 16th, Dupont Circle, D.C.:




Observed on Corcoran St NW, between 17th and Vermont, Dupont Circle, D.C.:


Posted in DC | 1 Comment

Links 11/27/21

Links for you. Science:

Is Delta the last Covid ‘super variant’?
Heavily mutated coronavirus variant puts scientists on alert
Controversy Rages as California Follows SF’s Lead With New Approach to Teaching Math
Third doses of COVID-19 vaccines reduce infection and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and could prevent future surges in some populations: a modeling study
First Known Covid Case Was Vendor at Wuhan Market, Scientist Says. A new review of early Covid-19 cases in the journal Science will revive, though certainly not settle, the debate over how the pandemic began.
HIV Is Africa’s Latest Covid-19 Problem (this hasn’t been mentioned at all regarding the Omicron variant)


Antivaxx Holocaust: Vaccine protests, yellow stars, and an inoculation of historical reality (excellent)
The Withering Away of the States Can’t Happen Soon Enough
Americans are moving west — but also toward cities: The Census Bureau has recalculated the population center of your state
TBI investigates Ripley house fire after racial slur found spray-painted on pool wall
Delmonico’s overwhelming menu, 1899.
How Music Created Silicon Valley
The McDonald’s Ice Cream Machine Hacking Saga Has a New Twist
‘I was shocked it was over a $6 pizza’: Worker recalls moments after man pulls rifle on employees
The Hooded Cloak: Violent Reactions to the Popular Front
Why Retailers Are Fighting a Vaccine Mandate Before the Holidays (COVID-19 appreciates this)
Speaking Of Meritocracy And The Related Marketplace Of Ideas
The Deadly Myth That Human Error Causes Most Car Crashes
The Elephant Who Could Be a Person
The People Dream of a President Who Will Take on Corporations
Angry Entrepreneurs Will Finally See Trump’s ‘Apprentice’ Outtakes
G.O.P. Fights Covid Mandates, Then Blames Biden as Cases Rise: Republicans have fought mask requirements and vaccine mandates for months, but as coronavirus infections again rise, they are blaming the president for failing to end the health crisis.
The CDC got it wrong. It should have urged all adults to get covid-19 booster shots.
Second family becomes first to affix a mezuzah on executive home
The rise of white identity politics didn’t start with Trump explains Michael Tesler (very good)
The Rittenhouse Verdict Will Backfire on Republicans (only if Democrats make it an issue)
Dark Money Is Driving Today’s “Concerned Moms” Attacking Anti-Racism in Schools

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In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist posts:

Yellow Ginkgo

Republican Daddy Will Not Save You: The CBO Edition

Not a Minor Threat

The One Way Vice President Harris’ Star Could Shine–And Why Democrats Won’t Let It

The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: Getting Worse

Happy Thanksgiving

A Quick Thought on the (Mis)use of the Word Endemic

Posted in Weekly Roundup | Leave a comment

Links 11/26/21

Links for you. Science:

Efficacy & Safety of BNT162b2 booster – C4591031 2 month interim analysis
Do childhood colds help the body respond to COVID?
Counting the neurological cost of COVID-19
Immune correlates analysis of the mRNA-1273 COVID-19 vaccine efficacy clinical trial
Reduced Incidence of Long-COVID Symptoms Related to Administration of COVID-19 Vaccines Both Before COVID-19 Diagnosis and Up to 12 Weeks After
NASA will launch a spacecraft into an asteroid to knock it off course (THAT’S FOR THE DINOSAURS, YOU BASTARDS!)


N.Y. prosecutors set sights on new Trump target: Widely different valuations on the same properties
Long Covid’s Catch-22: Too Sick to Work, Yet Not Quite Disabled
The most pernicious anti-vaccine talking point
Without paid leave, the South’s COVID school policies cause a terrible trickle down for families
Republicans are fomenting a violent insurgency in America. It may have already started.
The Problem of Political Despair
‘Unite the Right’ Nazis must pay up for their violence in Charlottesville as jury reaches verdict
The Tomb Raiders of the Upper East Side
Judge orders two lawyers who filed suit challenging 2020 election to pay hefty fees: ‘They need to take responsibility’
Lifting D.C.’s Strict Indoor Mask Mandate Triggers Mix Of Confusion, Anxiety, And Relief
What Happens To Learning When D.C. Students Must Quarantine? It Depends.
It’s D.C.’s Final Autumn With The Grating Symphony Of Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers
The Geniuses Behind January 6 Really Don’t Know When to Shut the F*ck Up
Here’s What To Know About D.C.’s New COVID Tracking Dashboards
Seven From Anti-Vax Doctors’ COVID Conference Fall Sick Within Days
Senate Democrats have a huge job ahead after Thanksgiving break, and little time to get it done
Somehow the Guy Who Tried to Steal Arizona for Trump Is Now Broke (eleven kids might have something to do with it too)
What ‘The Squad’ Tells Us About Progressives’ Ability To Win Voters Of Color
Leaked Texts: Jan. 6 Organizers Say They Were ‘Following POTUS’ Lead’ (the last sentence…)
Democrats are pushing tax breaks for the rich. They’ll cry when voters punish them
Waiting for JFK Jr.: QAnon cult’s followers create a deeply unsettling spectacle at Dealey Plaza
Single-family zoning preserves century-old segregation, planners say. A proposal to add density is dividing neighborhoods.
The Rise of the Right in Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Georgia
Ousted from power, Israel’s ultra-Orthodox lose the final word on what’s kosher

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A Quick Thought on the (Mis)use of the Word Endemic

One thing I’ve noticed is that many of the people who are using the word endemic don’t mean it in its biological sense, but use it as an excuse to relax COVID precautions, even though they are unwilling to specific what the consequences of that would be–though that would be unacceptable policy analysis in most other areas. This entire brief post is a subtweet.

Posted in COVID-19 | 1 Comment

Links 11/25/21

Links for you. Science:

The antibiotic course has had its day
Progressive sub-MIC Exposure of Klebsiella pneumoniae 43816 to Cephalothin Induces the Evolution of beta-lactam Resistance without Acquisition of beta-lactamase Genes
The DNA of Roma People Has Long Been Misused, Scientists Reveal
Lettuce, cabbage for manatees? Feds, FWC consider feeding sea cows after 1,000 deaths
Whole Genome Sequencing Surveillance and Machine Learning of the Electronic Health Record for Enhanced Healthcare Outbreak Detection
Relationship among state reopening policies, health outcomes and economic recovery through first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.


Let’s be honest: The roast turkey was bequeathed to us by Satan (ENDORSE)
The Unvaxxed Lefties Hiding in Plain Sight They insist they’re more sophisticated than your typical anti-vaxxer. Not that they’re telling anyone. (“Fear was at the root of many arguments I heard, even if it took a while to get there… Many concerns were based on paranoid suspicions, not facts.”)
How the Democratic Child-Care Proposal Hurts Families
Hospitals are busier than ever — but not because of COVID
The Rittenhouse Verdict Shows the Ridiculousness of American Gun Laws and Self-Defense
Florida’s Republican lawmakers deliver another blow for DeSantis against the common goo
Virginia’s Lt. Gov.-Elect Likens Vaccine Status To Inquiring About One’s DNA (state-level Republicans usually aren’t good at hiding the crazy)
D.C. is changing its mask rules, but the city’s colleges are staying the course
Measles incidence is down, but the pandemic has slowed vaccination progress
Not polarization, but radicalization of the Right.
Unusual bedfellows: how gangs are pushing New Zealand’s Covid vaccination drive
A Tool Kit to Help Scientists Find the Ultimate Chickpea
Virginia’s incoming lieutenant governor questions Covid vaccines for those who’ve had the virus before (while Democrats are craven and gormless, Republicans are actively malevolent)
Big Business Declares War on Lina Khan
Getting Joe Manchin’s vote on BBB could come down to one of the weirdest situations of the century
‘This is a life changer’: Teachers and others celebrate public service student loan forgiveness
There’s only 1 real solution to partisan gerrymandering
Keeping up with the Buttigiegs
Free as F^(< : Kyle Rittenhouse, Whiteness, and a Divinely-Ordained License to Kill
Kyle Rittenhouse Was a Minor. Prosecuting Him as One May Have Been Better.
Kyle Rittenhouse Is an American
Welcome to the Age of Lawless Masculinity
It’s Good to Be a White Murderer in America
Democrats are in denial about what they’re up against

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