2:00PM Water Cooler 3/27/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart:

The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. I am using a linear, not a logarithmic scale, because the linear scale conveys the alarming quality of the multiplication better (don’t @ me, math nerds). I did not adjust for population, because it seems to me that the epidemics spread through a population in a fractal matter; within reasonable limits, the shape of the curve will be the same. Show me I’m wrong!


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

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

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

Key dates coming fast now, so I added some counters:

Some of the next primaries. (I picked the major dates; here is a complete calendar.)

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We encourage readers to play around with the polling charts; they are dynamic, and there are a lot of settings, more than I can usefully show here. Here is a link to alert reader dk’s project. You can also file bug reports or feature requests using the same contact process as for Plants, below. Thanks — but no promises!

We have, again, no new national or state polls today. (Indeed, one might question what polling in the midst of a pandemic really means. It would seem that those who are willing to pick of the phone would increase, yes?)

It does seem that the strategy of keeping Biden out of the public eye pays off. Earlier in the year, we often had occasion to comment on the mysterious strength of the Biden Juggernaut, on display here; but it’s also true that Biden’s ups and downs have been of much greater amplitude than other candidates. As today!

* * *

Biden (D)(1): “CNN to host town hall with Joe Biden on coronavirus” [CNN]. “”The Coronavirus Pandemic A CNN Democratic Presidential Town Hall with Joe Biden” will air at 8 p.m. ET and feature questions submitted by individuals living in some of the communities hit hardest by the coronavirus. CNN’s Anderson Cooper will moderate the hourlong discussion on the impact to Americans’ health, the repercussions for the nation’s economy and the human toll to US society. Biden will join the town hall via satellite from his home studio in Delaware.” • Oddly, the Biden campaign wants to control their own feed….

Biden (D)(2): “Inside Joe Biden’s bizarre coronavirus bunker” [Politico]. “Sanders would be unofficially knocked out of the race has been upended by a series of canceled primaries. Biden had planned to use a predicted victory in Georgia on Tuesday to essentially end the race by declaring that he had achieved ‘an insurmountable delegate lead.’ Instead, the Georgia primary was moved to May and Biden retreated to a makeshift studio in his basement at home in Delaware to broadcast Zoom videos that have had to compete — poorly, so far — with briefings from elected officials like Trump and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who are actually responsible for dealing with the crisis.” • This was a moment for Sanders to seize — and if he has, it’s in a medium I’m not tracking.

Biden (D)(3): “Joe Biden Faces Sexual Assault Allegations From A Former Staffer” [Yahoo News]. • Gradually percolating out.

Cuomo (D)(1): “Andrew Cuomo Overtakes Bernie Sanders In Odds To Be Democratic Candidate Amid New York Governor’S Pandemic Response” [Newsweek]. “An average of recent betting odds compiled by Real Clear Politics shows Cuomo with a 5.6 percent chance of becoming the Democratic presidential nominee, while Sanders trails with an average of 3.6 percent. Biden is far ahead however, with an average of 85.8 percent, while former 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who is not seeking the party’s nomination, places second with an average of 6.3 percent.”

Sanders (D)(1): “Why Everyone Is Thanking Bernie Sanders Right Now — Even His Critics” [Refinery29]. • If anybody in the political class outside the Squad is praising Sanders, that’s most likely wrong and bad.

Sanders (D)(2): “As Coronavirus Crisis Unfolds, Sanders Sees a Moment That Matches His Ideas” [New York Times]. • Ideas are not the point (even if the left does have the best ideas). The point is power.

Sanders (D)(3): “Why Can’t Bernie Accept That Democratic Voters Didn’t Want Him?” [Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine]. • Frankly, I’m still reeling from the Democrat Estabishment’s endorsement giving Biden an instantaneous 30-point pop. When you think about it, if the leadership endorsed #MedicareForAll, that would get the same pop; Democrats voters would instantly be all for it. Stalin would be proud.

Trump (R)(1):

Trump (R)(2): “What to Make of the Trump Approval Ratings Bump” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “Robert Blizzard, a partner at the GOP polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, argues there are just way too many unknowns at this point to be able to credibly predict where Trump’s job approval ratings will be, even in the near term future. ‘We could all argue until we’re blue in the face about how long a rallying effect will stay in place, but there’s simply no denying there’s a rallying effect going on right now.’ He goes on to tell me that ‘virtually every survey I’ve seen over the last week — public or private — has shown a rallying effect taking place. In some places it’s a few points, in others, it’s a handful.’… “Do I believe that Trump will win 13% of the Democratic vote in November? No,’ Blizzard told me. ‘But, the key number to watch is independents, and Trump’s approval IS climbing among that key bloc of voters.'”

Realignment and Legitimacy

I give you the Democrat Establishment (1):

The living relatives of the million or so faraway brown people Bush blew to pink mist might take issue with “decent human being,” but you do you, Markos. You do you.

I give you the Democrat Establishment (2):

As the spread of #COVID19 accelerated… Whatever Pelosi was doing over the last three years, it had nothing to do with Congressional oversight of pandemic preparedness. Sure, RussiaGate was great for building war fever, fund-raising, and crazing the base with fear, but it had a downside too!

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please contact me at the email address below.

Consumer Sentiment: “Final March 2020 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Significantly Declined – Are Consumers In A Panic Due To Coronavirus?” [Econintersect]. Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin: “Are consumers in a panic? That’s the top question that I have been repeatedly asked for the past week. The latest data from the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment surveys indicate that the coronavirus has reduced consumer optimism, and more importantly, it will continue to do so as the virus spreads in the weeks and months ahead. The panic atmosphere that has developed, however, is quite unlike anything that today’s consumers have ever experienced. It is now primarily based on fears about personal health rather than personal finances. Panic reactions have ranged from the important to the trivial: from protecting the youngest and the oldest among us, to buying-in-advance an adequate supply of toilet paper needed for selfisolation at home. In stark comparison, there is little evidence that the panic is due to the escalating downturn in business activity and mounting job losses. To be sure, people’s health and finances are intimately connected. Nonetheless, there has been widespread approval of the measures to protect health, even when it comes at a high economic cost. That initial pass on the economic consequences of health policies has been facilitated by very favorable economic conditions built by more than a decade of uninterrupted economic growth.”

Personal Income: “February 2020 Headline Income Rate Of Growth Little Changed” [Econintersect]. “This month there was little change from the rate of growth seen last month. Most likely next month’s report will show the coronavirus effects…. This month consumer income growth year-over-year is growing slower than the spending growth year-over-year. However, expenditure rate of growth month-over-month was growing at a faster rate than income.”

* * *

Commodities: “Coronavirus threatens copper giant Peru’s 21-years of growth” [Reuters]. ” Peru may be on track to record its first annual economic contraction in over two decades as the world’s second largest copper producer is hammered by the impact of a global coronavirus pandemic hurting commodities demand…. Economists and analysts said that this could drag the country’s $220-billion economy into negative territory for the year, which would mark the first drop since 1998.”

Retail: “U.S. auto sales in states with coronavirus lockdown orders to drop 80%: analysts” [Reuters]. “Vehicle sales in U.S. states that implemented lockdown orders to curb the spread of the coronavirus will drop 80% or more, analysts said on Wednesday. Auto retail sales through the week of March 22 declined 22% nationwide on a yearly basis and as much as 40% in some cities on the U.S. West Coast, according to an analysis by research firm J.D. Power, based on data from dealership stores around the country. Last week’s data did not yet fully account for various U.S. states passing shelter-in-place orders at the end of last week.”

Shipping: Ocean container volumes are about to fall off a cliff” [Freight Waves]. “The new market outlook of U.K.-based consultancy Maritime Strategies International (MSI) reads like a Stephen King novel geared toward container-line executives. It’s not exactly feel-good reading for cargo shippers either. … “The near-term outlook for the container-ship industry has deteriorated rapidly following the spread of COVID-19 cases worldwide and subsequent efforts to limit the number of deaths and cases,” warned MSI in its monthly outlook released Thursday. ‘There seems little doubt that containerized trade will shrink in 2020, with near-term rates of decline potentially approximating — or even exceeding — those seen during the financial crisis,’ it said.”

Shipping: “Container shipping lines say they are moving from a supply shock in China to a demand shock as Western countries lock down their economies to slow the spread of the coronavirus” [Wall Street Journal]. “Ocean Network Express Chief Executive Jeremy Nixon [says] that the Japanese container line is bracing for a second wave of disruption, one that could strand containers on ships and ports as importers in Europe and the U.S. and Asia cancel orders and rattling operations at ports and inland logistics companies. Container-ship operators canceled more than half their sailings through China as coronavirus shutdowns hit the country last month.”

Shipping: “Rail Week Ending 21 March 2020 – Rail Continues To Slow” [Econintersect]. “The big decline this week continues to be intermodal (trucks and containers on flatcars) which accounts for half of the rail traffic, Intermodal continues under 2013 levels. Whilst container exports from China are now recovering, container exports from the U.S. continues to slow…. When rail contracts, it suggests a slowing of the economy.”

Employment: “There’s no shortage of jobs in logistics even as big parts of the American economy go quiet. From cleaning products suppliers to food-delivery operators, companies are looking to add big numbers of workers in warehousing and distribution… in a sign of how the economy is transforming under the coronavirus cloud” [Wall Street Journal]. “The shift is being led by some of the biggest corporate names, with Amazon.com Inc. saying it plans to add 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers and Walmart Inc. looking to fill 100,000 jobs in stores and fulfillment centers. Smaller operators are joining in.”

Supply Chain: “Suppliers of medical gases are racing to match their supply chains to the growing demand for the purified oxygen needed to treat the coronavirus. France-based Air Liquide SA and Air Products & Chemicals Inc. of Allentown, Pa., are exploring ways to ensure supplies remain sufficient as demand soars” [Wall Street Journal]. “Most of the anxiety over respiratory treatment during the pandemic has centered on a shortage of ventilators. But the devices rely on purified medical oxygen, and supplying the gas may prove complicated as demand grows in hard-hit areas.” • If it’s not one thing, it’s another…

Supply Chain: “How Panic-Buying Revealed the Problem With the Modern World” [The Atlantic]. “Any student of economics will tell you that modern supply chains rely on just-in-time ordering…. Under normal circumstances, this just-in-time system is convenient. Yet it is also, as we have discovered in the past fortnight, fragile…. What happened at supermarkets [with toilet paper] is worth dwelling on, because it reveals a problem with one of the modern world’s most hallowed concepts: efficiency. As businesses and governments chase ever-tighter margins—ever-greater efficiency—they have created systems that are finely tuned, but also delicate. … This is, however, a fundamentally inhuman philosophy. People aren’t machines. We are inherently inefficient, with our elderly parents and sick children, our mental-health problems, our chronic diseases, and our need to sleep and eat. And, as the past few months have demonstrated, our susceptibility to novel viruses. We have been trained to see efficiency as a desirable goal. We often don’t see, or don’t acknowledge, the risk of catastrophic meltdown.”

The Bezzle: “‘Our QuarBNB’: How short-term rentals are being used for self-quarantines during the coronavirus outbreak” [WaPo]. “But data out Monday showed that although revenue is down in dense urban centers like New York, Boston and Chicago, numbers are up in less-populated suburban and rural areas that can be easily reached from those cities. ‘Vacation rentals are providing safe havens for an entirely new demographic,’ AirDNA said in a blog post. ‘Whether it’s retirees looking for refuge in remote hideaways, professionals looking for an interim workspace, or stranded travelers in need of a quick plan B — vacation rentals are becoming an extremely reliable fallback plan. Ironically, ‘vacation’ rentals may have officially outgrown their original name and purpose.” • Let me rephrase that: Vacation rentals are another vector, exactly as with the Hamptons, the Berkshires, Vail, etc.

Tech: “Unpatched iOS Bug Blocks VPNs From Encrypting All Traffic” [Bleeping Computer]. “A currently unpatched security vulnerability affecting iOS 13.3.1 or later prevents virtual private networks (VPNs) from encrypting all traffic and can lead to some Internet connections bypassing VPN encryption to expose users’ data or leak their IP addresses. While connections made after connecting to a VPN on your iOS device are not affected by this bug, all previously established connections will remain outside the VPN’s secure tunnel as ProtonVPN disclosed.” • Yikes. You can work around this by turning on Airplane Mode, then turning it off. But come on, Apple!

Tech: “What happens when the maintainer of a JS library downloaded 26m times a week goes to prison for killing someone with a motorbike? Core-js just found out” [The Register]. “In November 2019, Denis Pushkarev, maintainer of the popular core-js library, lost an appeal to overturn an 18-month prison sentence imposed for driving his motorcycle into two pedestrians, killing one of them…. [core-js] gets downloaded more than 26 million times every week via the npm registry, and is widely used by major companies including Apple. Now its future is uncertain… [D]eveloper Nathan Dobrowolski asked, “If you are in prison, who will maintain [core-js] then?” Pushkarev offered no answer. Since his conviction last October, the need to resolve that question has become more than theoretical.”

Honey for the Bears: “20 March 2020 ECRI’s WLI Growth Rate Drops To Levels Not Seen Since The Great Recession” [Econintersect]. “ECRI’s WLI Growth Index which forecasts economic growth six months forward declined significantly, moved deeper into contraction, and is now at a level not seen since April 2009….. Please note that the coronavirus is a black swan event and the decline likely is more immediate and not lagging off six months as one would expect. Most likely, the U.S. is already in a recession.” • Hoo boy.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 24 Extreme Fear (previous close: 22 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 8 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 26 at 1:28pm. Stimulus! Last updated Mar 27 at 12:32pm.

The Biosphere

“Ancient warming threw this crucial Atlantic current into chaos. It could happen again” [Science]. “The Atlantic Ocean’s ‘conveyor belt,’ a powerful current that drags warm water north before submerging it in the North Atlantic, has been humankind’s constant companion. For 8000 years, it has held steady, nourishing Western Europe with tropical warmth. But a new study of the current’s strength over the past half-million years suggests global warming may not shut down the current any time soon, as some scientists fear. Instead, it could trigger a replay of ancient events, when multiple bouts of warming caused rapid, centurylong swings in the current’s strength, sowing climate chaos that may have alternately chilled and warmed Europe. ‘A strong circulation can also be a highly variable one. [That] might be the most important lesson,” says Ulysses Ninnemann, a paleoclimate scientist at the University of Bergen and a co-author on the new paper.” • An excellent explanation of the Atlantic Conveyor, well worth a read. Also, 8000 years is an eyeblink.

“Pesticides as a cause of soil degradation” [John Kempf]. Quoting Michael McNeill, from the Regenerative Agriculture Podcast:

[MCNEILL:] The other day I was cleaning out a drawer in my desk, and I found some old pictures that I had taken back in 1972 or 1973 of crops that were growing. I had some close-ups and some overviews of the field. The thing that I noticed was how healthy the plants were. There were no disease lesions on them anywhere. The corn plants were just perfect. And the whole field was that way.

It’s really hard to find a field today that is that way. I was looking at the weeds that were growing along the fence rows, and they were big and healthy and looked great. They don’t look so good today, comparatively speaking. And you say, “Well, maybe that’s a good thing!” No, it’s not. The whole area that we’re farming is unhealthy. It makes me ask the question—what’s changed?

To me, the big difference from that era until today is that farmers have been drawn into big ag. You need to use herbicides. You don’t want to use a cultivator. You have to farm more land. So you use herbicides, but herbicides are doing things to the soil, because they’re all chelators. So now the plants become a little bit imbalanced in the nutrition that they’re taking up, and you find more disease—you find more insect pressure. So you start using fungicides and insecticides—more chelators, more poisons being dumped onto the ground. And you’re pretty impressed with how they work. The field is perfectly clean, and weed free—excellent. The diseases were dramatically reduced. The fungicides worked really well. The corn borers and some other of the insects that were issues went away. It was magic. The chemistry was totally magic—it looked beautiful.

But as time went on, the chemistry started poisoning the good things that were in the soil. And so, today, I’m called out to look at farms where the guy’s production has dropped off dramatically and the soil is virtually dead.

Health Care

“U.S. home healthcare industry warns of possible ‘collapse'” [Reuters]. “”It’s a hair-on-fire crisis,” said Roger Noyes, spokesman for New York’s Home Care Association. As hospitals continue to handle an influx of coronavirus cases, patients who need care but are not critically ill are likely to be sent home. If home care providers can’t stay afloat or decline to offer services, those patients will “face a rapid, immediately life-threatening deterioration” of their health, said Al Cardillo, president of the New York group. Compounding the industry’s financial woes are bidding wars for essential medical equipment… For now, that can leave smaller home health companies at the back of the line, said Emma Dickison, board president of the Home Care Association of America.”• Uh oh….

Failed State

Breaking a bottle of champagne over the bow of the new category:

Groves of Academe

$40 billion endowment (1):

$40 billion endowment (2):

$40 billion endowment (3):

“Even in a Pandemic, the University of Illinois Doesn’t Care About Its Grad Workers” [Jacobin]. “In recent years, the University of Illinois system has been a major site of graduate student worker organizing. Unionized graduate workers at both the Urbana-Champaign and Chicago campuses launched weeks-long strikes in 2018 and 2019, respectively, to secure contracts that provided basic financial stability… On March 12, three days after Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker declared a statewide state of emergency, the UI Board of Trustees jacked up student health insurance premiums, hitting both grads and undergrads. At the Urbana-Champaign campus (UIUC), premiums will shoot up by a whopping 33 percent beginning this fall. The move came at the same time the board voted to spend $311.8 million on putting up new buildings, and two months after the UI president was awarded a $235,000 raise.” • A strong university has big buildings and fat administrators! What’s wrong with these people?

“An Open Letter to Tisch Dean Allyson Green: Please Stop” [NYU Local]. “We here at NYU Local would just like to say: what the fuck is this.” • Read the whole thing. The video in question:

I should have a section called “College Administrators Behaving Badly.” The only issue? Too much material.

Class Warfare

I remember this comic, maybe from a high-school history textbook:

I used to think it was a little over-the-top. Now, after two grotesquely large bailouts for the 1% in ten years, I don’t think it’s over-the-top at all. It’s exactly on point.

News of the Wired

“Physicists brawl over new dark matter claim” [Science]. “For decades, astrophysicists have thought some sort of invisible dark matter must pervade the galaxies and hold them together, although its nature remains a mystery. Now, three physicists claim their observations of empty patches of sky rule out one possible explanation of the strange substance—that it is made out of unusual particles called sterile neutrinos. But others argue the data show no such thing. ‘I think that for most of the people in the community this is the end of the story,’ says study author Benjamin Safdi, an astroparticle physicist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. But Kevork Abazajian, a theoretical physicist at the University of California, Irvine, says the new analysis is badly flawed. ‘To be honest, this is one of the worst cases of cherry picking the data that I’ve seen,’ he says. In unpublished work, another group looked at similar patches of sky and saw the very same sign of sterile neutrinos that eluded Safdi.” • Brawling physicists!

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) 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 (TH):

TH writes: “We don’t see several trees congregating like this much in Los Angeles County, except in Nature Centers….which this is. These particular trees, ignoring social distancing, are at the El Dorado Regional Park in Long Beach, CA. (This was back in February though, when the park was still open and ‘social distancing’ had actually not been enacted yet, even for people.” Backlighting through leaves is hard!

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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. boots

    Wrote to my rep, Andy Barr; tried to use an argument he’d hear:

    Congressman Massie has taken a controversial but brave stance against the CARES Act as written. So have democrats like AOC, who is representing the hardest-hit state. Massie is correct to do the simple math. $2 trillion (Congress) plus $4 trillion (Fed and Treasury) is a $6 trillion bailout. Divided by 150 thousand wage earners, that should be $40 thousand per wage earner, not $1,200. Most of the rest of the money is for opaque credit lines to the biggest companies in this country.

    Rather than rescuing workers and small businesses, the bill as written will allow workers to become deskilled and fall out of the economy (just like TARP), while allowing the biggest, over-financialized corporations to go on acquisition sprees, permanently destroying small business and increasing monopoly power. Companies like Boeing must be saved, but they are failing due to poor decisions, not due to COVID-19.

    A bill providing for the needs of wage-earners and small businesses must and will be passed. That is not controversial. I’m asking you to stand with Massie and AOC, and delay the bill briefly so that the unprecedented pork can be cut out and become subject to debate. Your constituents won’t die due to delays in pork barrel spending.

        1. jo6pac

          Thank you so much and yes my congress wimp josh harder of Calif. voted for it.

          The Champaign will be flowing at corp. Amerika and the 1%. Sad but they win again

      1. richard

        this said they did a voice vote, and so, unbelievably, the votes are not on record?
        Somebody tell me I read that wrong.
        Well, all that does is implicate all of them in this theft
        I say that so much these days, it feels like that scene in The Princess Bride
        where the swordsman tells the brainiac:
        “You keep saying unbelievable. I am not sure you know what that word means!”

    1. urblintz

      it’s over… but the party we ain’t invited to is just beginning

      ..and the notion that another (4th) bi-partisan bill supporting the poor and working classes could be passed in this Congress is fantasy. That’s all Nancy “means-testing” Pelosi has left… promises for the “next” bill that will never happen… and even then she insists on talking about how any money should be for “corona relief” only, which telegraphs here next move: “and it’s gotta be paid for.”

      1. HotFlash

        it’s over… but the party we ain’t invited to is just beginning

        Now, I have never done this myself, but I have heard that it is possible to crash a party. Can this be true?

    2. boots

      From twitter: Brendan McDonald (@ProducerMcD)
      “Massie is like a guy who tagged along with the cosplayers but didn’t realize they all agreed ahead of time not to go to this event in costume.”

    3. Lovell

      ‘We are now in the midst of a coup d’état in slow motion. Democracy is weakening… corporatism is strengthening.’ – John Ralston Saul

      1. zagonostra

        The slow motion part was long ago, as Chris Hedges has repeatedly used this phrase of a coup in slow motion. What you are seeing now is the stroke that makes it a fait accompli.

    4. Biph

      Massie is right that the bill is awful, but monumentally stupid for insisting on the quorum. He delayed the passage of the bill for a few hours at best to endanger not just his fellow House members but their staff and any workers of the House who are required to be there.

        1. Biph

          If it was just his fellow congress critters I wouldn’t care that much, it’s all the working stiffs required to be there when the House is in session that are endangered that bothers me.

          1. ambrit

            As the Neo-liberal dispensation has made abundantly clear, there are no “innocents” when it comes to ideological warfare.

        2. Monty

          I don’t understand why withholding government support, and collapsing the Ponzi, at this time would make things better, rather than immeasurably worse.

          Please can you help me see what I am missing?

          1. ambrit

            This present situation is a direct slap in the face given to the general public of America. We have moved past the time for mediation and compromise and are entering the time to “Burn It All Down.” Do not underestimate the power of rage. Such rage is like unto a force of nature, and like all forces of nature, makes no distinctions between the just and the unjust.

          2. MLTPB

            Many people depend on the governmnet and the system, Ponzi not.

            If it collapses, only the, well, let’s face it, rugged individuals will survive.

            I hope it won’t collapse, not that I have much say here.

          1. ambrit

            I cannot speak for Shonde, but, in general, yes. I’ll not presume to have the nature of a saint. The ‘prize,’ if there is one, will be advance warning for when the guillotines are set up in your Town Square. That will definitely not be a Mob that anyone sane will want to “get out ahead of.”
            Remember that, as a rule, revolutions eat their own young.

              1. Aloha

                This bill is the final nail in our coffins… or is it?
                How do we protest if we are quarantined??? I think that we already are protesting by having to stay home!!!
                This virus for the most part has shut down the worlds economy and it has become a catch22 for the rulers. If the public is ordered to stay home then there is no money circulating and if we are ordered to go to work the virus will continue to spread. Trump and all senior gov. officials are going to realize that WE THE PEOPLE do have power and that they can’t do much without us.
                The reality is that things are going to get way worse for us for months or more and then there will be a recovery time for people who live through it. Not to mention grieving for lost love ones, bankruptcies and lawsuits.
                I saw a headline yesterday about the G20 mtg and how the oligarchs are freaking out because their trillion dollar bank accounts in the Cayman Islands are suffering and that the slaves need to get back to work ASAP.
                For us it is about helping each other and for them it is all about screwing us over. My heart is so heavy for everyone but I have to remember that the human spirit is strong. Perhaps enough people will live who can reverse the war that is against us and bring some compassion to new leadership here in the US. .I can hope.

                1. HotFlash

                  How do we protest if we are quarantined???

                  Well, maybe not go to work? Oh, wait.

                  Downside, yes, quarantine shutdown has same effect as ‘martial law’/curfew shutdown, but with takeout. OTOH, we can now appear in public masked! At least for now. It is a brief window, use it wisely.

                2. judy2shoes

                  I think what is happening with respect to the slap-in-the-face, crumbs-to-the-peons plan is similar to the Pompeo plan for Iran: make the Iranian people suffer so much that they will overthrow their government. I don’t think the elites in power here realize they might get more for those crumbs than just suffering of the American populace. I’m with ambrit; I would not want to get out in front of the mob that may suddenly appear, but I would like to be a fly on the wall.

                3. MLTPB

                  Can’t the elites just bypass Congrees, and get $9 trillion or whatever amount they desire from the Fed (& Treasury), instead merely the $4 trillion they got, and in the process upsetting many of of us in the 99%?

                  1. MLTPB

                    Sorry. The Tressury part, I think, requires congressional approval.

                    Not sure about the Fed part ( I read, not sure if it’s correct, that it was already done, implying no need for prior approval. Was it so?).

      1. HotFlash

        Pipples! Gotta agree with Citizen Zaganostra, these people signed up for this (as contrasted to grocery clerks, etc., who only meant to check out lettuces, Rice Krispies, and tomatoes), and if political interns (so sorry — who are these people? volunteers? true believers? rich kids working for ‘future consideration’?) are in the fray, well, what? Isn’t there some free market thing about risk/reward and the big bucks? Yes, yes, horrible system but why’d they sign up for this? Srsly, ‘splain me this.

    5. notabanker

      Why does Boeing need to be saved? It is a shambles. Let it die, and let someone, or something, competent pick up the pieces. Are the “free markets” incapable of filling the void?

      1. boots

        From Stoller’s org, Rescue Mission: Bailing Out Boeing and Rebuilding It to Thrive: “Boeing is in big trouble, and not just because of the coronavirus. It is in trouble because it has gradually lost the ability to build safe civilian and military aircraft. America needs to spend money to tackle the economic damage caused by both crises. But before taxpayers throw any more money at the problem of Boeing, regulators and legislators must set conditions that force Boeing to save itself….

        “Rescuing Boeing means implementing a temporary, but not short term, effective nationalization of the company. Boeing has been sufficiently mismanaged in the name of “shareholder value” that there will be calls to wipe out its shareholders altogether. While the Treasury Department should certainly seek to acquire the company at a discount to its current market capitalization, it is important to understand that Boeing is not a generically insolvent business but one of the only two significant makers of commercial airplanes in the world.”

        Pretty good white paper on that question.

        1. orlbucfan

          Either nationalize the friggin’ company or pull its business charter. How hard is either??

        2. Bsoder

          No white paper, in the age of climate emergency, no commercial, and after a time very little military aircraft using carbon fuel. Not going to be powered by fusion or batteries, or self flying either.

    6. rps

      John Kerry @ twitter: Breaking news: Congressman Massie has tested positive for being an asshole. He must be quarantined to prevent the spread of his massive stupidity. He’s given new meaning to the term #Masshole. (Finally, something the president and I can agree on!)

      Kerry upset with Massey throwing a wrench into the massive giveaway taxpayer punch bowl for his wall street buddies #blueandredpartycashprizes

      1. urblintz

        Massie… whatever…

        and he’s the guy who, according to his star-familyblogging fans on twit-ter, brings out the “best” in John “reporting-for-duty” Kerry?

        yeah… whatever…

      2. edmondo

        I guess the best thing to come out of this is the realization that we missed nothing when Baby Bush was re-elected in 2004.

        Why does Bernie want to take over the Dem Party when this is the best that they have to offer?

  2. Clint

    “Are Consumers In A Panic Due To Coronavirus?”

    Yes, they are in a panic to make sure they have items that suddenly are of real value to consume; masks, gloves, cleaning supplies, food, medical protection and that other one, a functioning medical care system and the dawning of realization by citizens that America has been parasitized by fraudsters at all commercial and institutional levels.

    Hermes handbags, that cost as much as a car?, or knockoffs, Chinese made home decoration tidbits, battery operated combs, pathetically flogged women’s latest fashions– 50% off!, all that, and the venal privacy destroying and pathetic advertising industry that enables it, are circling the black hole of karma and may never come back. For that I say, Three Cheers for the Covid virus that has shed more light on what’s really important for citizens than anything else in memory.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It has been revealing to see as well that when faced with saving people’s lives and saving corporation’s profits, what each and every country decides is more important. Herd immunity was the demand a few weeks ago because the elite saw it as a cheap & nasty solution to getting through Coronavirus and getting back to business – until they discovered that herd immunity put their lives at risk of death as well. Worse yet, that their lives would depend on the health care system that they have cannibalized and downgraded for decades as well. I agree then very much with your comment then and wonder what happens when people in lockdown may actually have the time to think.

  3. Samuel Conner

    Re: Trump’s approval ratings for pandemic response (for some definition of “response”):

    Me thinks it is still early days. The annualized death rate is now above the worst levels of the annual flu epidemic. I think that it is sure to get worse, and at some point the volatility voters who went for DJT in 2016 may begin to notice that the volatility is working against them, for example when (I’m assuming this is a “when, not if” kind of situation) their DJT-aligned governors’ delayed actions are seen to have had bad consequences for them.

    1. a different chris

      Disclaimer: I really, really don’t know.

      However, we all cheer furiously for our teams quarterback in the middle of the game. But even if he comes thru occasionally (cough, Mitchell Trubisky, cough) if he’s botched more than he’s helped then everybody goes back to their beer and discusses replacements.

      That may well be it. What was HW’s approval ratings during the first Gulf War?

      1. Monty

        Imagine this mess with Biden, or Hillary, at the helm, battling for crumbs with the tea party imbeciles of the freedom caucus. *shivers* At least Trump can bash their heads together to get things passed.

    2. Shonde

      Why does it matter what Trump’s approval rating is when Biden is our alternative? They both work for the same boss and it ain’t us.

  4. a different chris

    >We have been trained to see efficiency as a desirable goal.

    We have been recently retrained to see efficiency as a desirable goal.

    Fixed it for them. Anybody over, heck 45 remember when the idea was to have “a cushion” for things? Leave a bit early for work, buy a slightly cheaper car and house than the salesman was trying to sell, you, just “put money” (and time) away for emergencies.

    Efficiency does none of that. Also, “efficient” thinking is the worst, anybody think Einstein et.al. cared about how efficiently he was getting thru his derivations?

    PS: that cartoon is amazing…. however to update a bit you have to separate the healthcare to the current table with the actual practitioners and move the (family blogging) misleadership to the greedy table.

    1. Tim

      FWIW I’m and engineer and efficiency is everything. You just have to know when to let go of that goal. It takes wisdom to see the downside. Most people struggle with that.

      Couldn’t convince me wife to spend an extra $1000 to accelerate a biopsy for her dad by one month, it wasn’t an efficient use of money. He died 3 months later of too little too late.

      1. Bsoder

        I’m an engineer and efficiency is only 1/2 of any production problem the other half is quality, which is: the specifications a thing (or process) is built to & measured to, & most importantly the amount of money allocated to build it. Different price points bring different levels of quality. Just In Time, was never, ever, meant to be applied to processes dealing with human care such as food and healthcare. For one good reason, all processes need specs, one spec with humans would be a contingency for risk, as humans are prone to it. Airlines don’t fly planes on empty and hope they make it (one exception doesn’t change the rule/process). No to get to this mess you need MBAs steeped in neolib and some basic stupidity in putting them in charge in the first place. I’ll tell you exactly what happened in the 1980s the president convinced people with the money, that helping the poor was not only a waste of time, not only weren’t the poor thanking, but the poor hated the rich. That’s all the moral justification it took for those with the means to care and who had historically, to turn their backs & GVT’s. For that moment on it was everyone for themselves and god agaisnt all. We worked quite hard to create this hell on earth.

    2. The Rev Kev

      You can have efficiency or you can have effectiveness. Not the same thing at all it turns out.

  5. John k

    Why not simply have Medicare take over all that test positive regardless of age, and have Medicare cover all costs, including ambulance, until they test negative? Wouldn’t in’s co’s be happy to be relieved of the cost of covering their insured sick? Who would oppose?

    1. Biph

      People would get a real world example of how effective medicare for all would be and might get ideas.

    2. HotFlash

      Why not simply have Medicare take over all that test positive regardless of age, and have Medicare cover all costs, including ambulance, until they test negative? Wouldn’t in’s co’s be happy to be relieved of the cost of covering their insured sick? Who would oppose?

      Why not simply have Medicare for All? Buy a paradise island (hello, Mr. Lay! Hello Mr. Epstein! Pls pardon the tinfoil hat and mask), send all insurance CEO’s there forever, free bar, and viola! All the insurance co worker bees can go back to doing real work at real pay. I understand many of them were nurses and healthcare workers in a former life (helps with that coding, dontcha know)

  6. PlutoniumKun

    “Ancient warming threw this crucial Atlantic current into chaos. It could happen again” [Science].

    Its not just previous interglacials, there have been abrupt climatic changes within the current interglacial. The results are visible to anyone who walks the upland bogland of the western fringes of Europe – around 3000 BCE – there is a distinct layer of dry material visible in many cut peat banks where the peat seems to have dried out and was replaced with Scots Pine. Its been argued over for many years whether this was a natural fluctuation or perhaps a series of local climate changes caused by deforestation. But the evidence now strongly suggest a very rapid series of changes in the Bronze Age/Neolithic period, presumably generated from Atlantic currents as they are visible in pollen records and peat bogs all over the western fringes of Europe.

    A very well researched area of the very fringe of western Ireland, in the Ceide Fields, indicates some rapid swings from arable agriculture, to pastoral only (when it got too wet for crops), and sometimes abandonment. There is an interesting discussion in the context of Irish archaeology here – particularly in the final sections and conclusions.

    1. Nealser

      Thanks PK. I will put Ceide Fields on my list to visit on next trip to Ireland. I’ve never heard of it before.

    2. L

      A similar point is the so called “Little Ice Age” which occurred right after the “Medieval Warm Period” Both had major impacts on the ecology of Europe and thus on the agricultural societies on them.

  7. Barking Tribe

    Yves, Lambert – read your insights for years. Amazingly it continues to never stop impressing. Best site out there. Here’s something. I’m in Georgia. Politics is local, provincial, small fiefdoms, all the way to the top. They don’t lead, they jump in front of parades. We have as of 03/27, 2001 Covid cases. +30% hospitalized, +3% deaths, and 22,344 hospital beds. That last number is for everything, all hospitals. At this rate by mid-April (that’s two weeks) they’ll be 1.2x times capacity with a death rate of +500 a day. Two weeks. It’s a strategy. Dead people don’t vote.

  8. Reader


    “So again, Democrats trying to portray Donald Trump’s lazily articulated homicidal tendencies as a break with the past need to explain why their guy (Obama) used the same class divisions to organize and distribute the 2009 bailouts. Mr. Trump and his fellow oligarchs are exactly who the Obama administration ‘saved’ with its bailouts. Now that Donald Trump is following Mr. Obama’s lead, although in more desperate and politically fraught times, the bi-partisan class war against the rest of us may finally be coming clear.”

  9. HotFlash

    Lovely interactive Cvirus graph, and most informative. Thanks, Lambert. I have a question, though. The categories are confirmed, active, recovered and deaths. The Johns Hopkins CSSE data does not list ‘active’, Now I assume that active is confirmed minus recovered and deaths, but I couldn’t coordinate the dates well enough to confirm. Anybody out there know for sure?

    1. Samuel Conner

      My understanding (and seems to be supported by the CSSE map “popups”, which presumably is good confirmation) is that, yes, active cases = all cases – cases with known outcomes (deaths + recovered).

      JHU CSSE pandemic dashboard shows local region “active” numbers (along with confirmed, deaths and recovered) in the “pop-ups” that one gets when one clicks on localities in the world map. They don’t aggregate “active” by regions though, as you note, one can compute the region-aggregate “active” totals from the other information presented there.

      1. HotFlash

        Thank you, Mr/Ms/Dr/Prof Conner! I only checked WRT Cdn data, and the timeline was not matching up — we started later.

      2. Bsoder

        Nope. Recovered as used on those sites is confirmed with the virus and got sick. What is not in the data is those with the virus and not yet sick. Those with the virus not yet sick still shedding the virus. Those reinfected. Those that had the virus but died of seemingly something less. Those who got the virus and are dead somewhere. There are about 140k (outside of China) known to have the virus, sick and whereabouts unknown. The database I use is military and the data highly certain.

  10. Pelham

    Re the sexual assault allegation against Biden: I won’t repeat what Tara Reade is saying. It’s too graphic. But it sounds quite violent. And two other people confirm Reade’s account as she related it to them at the time, in 1993.

    So this shouldn’t be trickling out. It needs to be widely reported and weighed in the balance. If that happens, I can’t see how Biden can continue. Also, shouldn’t the issue be raised by a journalist tonight in Biden’s town hall thingie on CNN? They’re taking viewer questions but are focusing on the virus. I’ll submit one on Reade, but it would help if a lot of other people did likewise.

    1. Craig H.

      In the Frontline Bannon interview outtakes he claims that Trump won the election the night he invited Broderic & Jones & et al to be his guests at the pussy grabbing debate.

      The interviewer didn’t follow up that I recall on how such a claim could possibly be empirically supported.

      1. dcblogger

        Bannon is talking his own book. Bannon thought that Roy Moore would be a good Senate candidate. Hillary won the popular vote. Democrats have done spectacularly well in every election since 2016, Bannon is not nearly as smart as he thinks he is.

        1. HotFlash

          I don’t think the question here is Bannon’s smarts, it’s whether Candidate Biden did or did not have non-consensual sexual relations with that woman. Which should be seriously investigated. If Dem “strategists” won’t do it, I assure you, Rep “strategists” will. :)

    2. zagonostra

      “The Rising” deserves a lot of credit for bring to story to a wider audience. According to Krystal Ball, she tried to get some of the larger media outlets to pick up the story but they wouldn’t touch it (see link below).

      She also mentions how Warren and Kamala Harris reacted to the woman reaching out to them about the story of being abused by Biden – very revealing especially if you had any respect left for these two harpies.

      Also have to give credit to Katie Halper, Ryan Grim, and Jimmy Dore for doing what the official “fourth estate” will not.


      1. richard

        j. dore is doing some of his best work lately.
        being isolated and pissed off is giving him some clarity
        Imo, he still has a fundamental understanding about power that I think a lot of leftists share
        He, and they, think the “donors” run everything, that some corrupt oligarchic interest is the not-so-secret power behind the “elected” facade.
        They have it exactly backwards. the elected facade really does run everything, and hands out favors and monopolies not because they are “forced” to, or because they are bribed (the amounts seem so laughably small for betrayals so huge).
        They hand out favors like a GOT character, to cement alliances. They hand out favors to show everyone they are safe. They hand out favors because they are safe. They hand out favors because they have the power to do so, and you can’t stop them, and that makes them brilliantly happy. They aren’t bought off, and certainly haven’t been “corrupted” by oligarchs. Our elected facade really is the final boss, so near and yet so far.

    3. L

      When the video came out we couldn’t see how Trump could continue either but he did. Those loyal to him, or to the party, or merely sexist shut their eyes and moved on.

      I suspect many a Dem voter will file this along with his Jungle comments and his treatment of Anita Hill under “but only he can beat Trump.” Meanwhile party insiders will either bury it under their loathing for Sanders, continue to fantasize that Cuomo will somehow save them, or more likely be blind to the threat as they were with Hillary Clinton’s record. And then Trump will weaponize it against him with the suburban moms that Biden is so desperate for and the election will be a squeaker.

      As long as they see off Bernie the party core will call it a victory. Can’t have what we say we want after all.

      1. orlbucfan

        Why did it take 27 years for this sexual accusation to surface? I hate the DNCrooks and look at Biden as Mush Brained. But, a lot of people will question the cred of the accuser.

        1. Donna

          They already have questioned her credibility. If you listen to the interview on Rising towards the end of the interview they allow her to give her side of the story regarding her connections to, you guessed it, Russia.

          1. Donna

            Just to make clear, Krystal and Saagar thought the allegations were disingenuous. They just wanted to allow Tara the opportunity to get her rebuttal on record.

            1. Carey

              >Just to make clear, Krystal and Saagar thought the allegations were disingenuous.

              Not sure how you got that conclusion, at all.

        2. nippersmom

          Please watch the interview. She filed an HR complaint at the time and was blackballed from all job openings in her field. When she originally tried to come out in support of another complainant, she was harassed and threatened. She has also been trying to find someone to listen to her for months, even in this attempt to be heard and believed.

    4. LarryB

      And, miracle of miracles, the story has disappeared from Yahoo! Clicking on the link or the one found by googling, just leads to Yahoo’s front page.

    5. judy2shoes

      Anyone besides me suspicious about this town hall? I wonder if the questioners will be DNC plants with questions that are already in Biden’s hands. It certainly happened in 2016 with Hillary.

      With regard to the sexual-assault allegation, I haven’t noticed many “reporters” asking anything but softball questions of Biden. I could easily be wrong.

      1. nippersmom

        It’s going to be typical softball questions and pandering, with excuses made and cover provided for all his lapses. No way will they allow any questions about Tara Reade.

          1. a different chris

            Yeah and even if we ever got “good” questions in these formats they won’t be addressing Climate Change, that’s for sure.

            We will all perish along the proper distribution of Id Pol groups. Yea.

  11. Grant

    Yesterday, I mentioned workers having the power to bring the country to its knees through a general strike. Didn’t say it would happen, but it could and should if the elites go through with their plans. Well, there are strikes now among sanitation workers in Pittsburg, workers at Purdue in Georgia, nurses in California, people are organizing on their own in places like Chicago in regards to rent strikes, and then there is this:


    I don’t care what Trump’s approval is now. People are scared, and there is a power vacuum. The guy that has led most on this is losing to Biden in the primary and the media has proclaimed his campaign dead, and Biden disappeared, provided no leadership and has no ideas to share. There is a power vacuum, and we are in the early stage of the crisis. But, the state is not rising to the challenge and not offering policies that will help workers get through this. People are going to suffer and possibly forced to return to work, during a pandemic. To think that this can go on indefinitely without unrest is absurd. And if there is unrest, you make it impossible obviously to self-isolate and to contain the virus. Worker can (not necessarily saying that they will) bring the economy to its knees, and if this continues, they should. Workers have not had this leverage in a long time, and they should use it. There are very few people in power worth a damn. They have to confronted and forced to do things they won’t otherwise do, and we have to make rich capitalists feel much less comfortable and more scared. Is the local grocery workers getting us through this, or the executives at the companies they work for? Insurance company executives, or doctors and nurses? Who, ultimately, is more expendable at this time? There are plenty of people that could run those companies (including the workers collectively), without the mass of workers keeping things going, it would collapse very quickly. So, the power differential is very different now than it was just a few months ago in regards to capital and labor. The potential power of labor is much greater than it is right now in actuality.

    1. Mikel

      “Yesterday, I mentioned workers having the power to bring the country to its knees through a general strike. Didn’t say it would happen, but it could and should if the elites go through with their plan…”

      Like I said, lacking an organization to do this is an opportunity missed.

      “They have to confronted and forced to do things they won’t otherwise do, and we have to make rich capitalists feel much less comfortable and more scared….”

      Where have you been all my life?

      1. Billy

        Leaderless opposition, or lacking an organization, is more powerful. Leaders of organizations can be co-opted, indicted, accidented, etc.

        Why no organization or leaders are necessary:
        Because anyone without a job, laid off, forced to work without protection in dangerous circumstances, or whose business has been crushed could strike, hopefully starting all at the same time.

        No services of any kind would be provided except food, medical, mail and energy delivery to households and essential businesses.

        What institution’s workers would be on strike? Anything having to do with retail, online deliveries, except essentials, all bank lending, real estate, advertising, car sales or servicing, education, construction, maintenance, paying of bills, accounting, and especially paying taxes.

        What percentage of workers would be effective? Depends on the industry. Doesn’t have to be 100%. Two weeks, a month? Or, until a reformed emergency aid package is written into law by congress and signed by the president.

        The lite version of that at the individual level is
        “No tax payments mailed until after my check has arrived!”
        Form W-4 “Exemption from withholding” means you owe them at the end of the year, not the other way around.

        1. Bsoder

          Name one leaderless ‘opposition’ that ever accomplished anything. Want to know how we went from stable healthy hunter-gathers to being forced to be farmers and soldiers. One side have leaders the other none. And so it has been since all those 8000 thousand years ago.

          1. eg

            You forgot the pastoralists — one theory is that they learned to herd people from herding livestock …

  12. skk

    I was getting longitudinal ( meaning data points over time, say over the last 90 days data from https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus . Their charts have a data tab which opens up a downloadable .csv file. Their data is from the European Centre for Disease Control ( ECDC ). I had some good USA loglinear death models, p = 10**-19 etc but its a lagging indicator.
    I used that data because I couldn’t see how to get downloads the John Hopkins data but I’ve now found the github where John Hopkins makes their data freely available. https://github.com/CSSEGISandData/COVID-19

    1. Tom Doak

      Every single Democrat voted yea, except a few who were not present. 40 Republicans voted nay. Justin Amash was the lone Congressman to vote “present”, how strong of him!

  13. Eureka Springs

    Seems to me at the very least all remaining primary voting should be postponed until late July or early August.

    Then I remember the media, the machines, the DNC corporation, and think what’s the point?

  14. urblintz

    I wonder how many cinematographers are doing digital drone scapes of a vacant NYC and other major Gothams? Pandemic films and the like are already a dime a dozen but new footage will always sell in Hollywood, I betcha! And it’ll save on all that fancy editing too.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Hey, you nicked my idea from a coupla weeks ago! :)

      I guess that great minds think alike.

      1. urblintz

        ouch! I honestly hadn’t seen it rev… which means you are, as usual, way ahead of me!

        1. The Rev Kev

          I was thinking more of indie film producers but you are correct, there is great footage to be had of all the cities in the world empty of people. Hey, maybe they can make a film about a flu pandemic that mutates until it is 90% lethal to all of humanity and…errr, umm, never mind!

  15. McWatt

    “U.S. auto sales in states with coronavirus lockdown orders to drop 80%: analysts”
    Strange this, I have heard, anecdotally, that car dealers are still open in Illinois, and that sales
    have been brisk for people buying cars so they don’t have to take public transportation. I don’t know if this is true, but it is what I have heard. Even though the state is on lock down, I’m getting calls from companies that say “We are open, we are an “Essential Business”, please buy from us. Even though they are not and essential business. As I drive around I see all sorts of businesses that are not “Essential” open and operating. So much for the governors directive to cower in place.

    The pawnshops, liquor stores and gun shops are open.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      A month ago, a Canadian friend was asking me about a specific model car (should I buy it, what should I look for, etc). As it is kinda an old folks car, I suggested he wait for the coronavirus estate sales. Even in rural Ontario, he’s getting flooded with emails from car dealers offering to pick him up or drive cars to him to evaluate.

      “Patience will reward you”, I said. Grisly and upbeat at the same time. Maybe I could be a banker?

  16. L

    Regarding your comment about Bernie Sanders seizing the moment. I agree he should but I note that CNN and the others seem almost desperate to keep him out of the conversation even as some of his calls for free testing and small business support get taken up.

    For better Bernie Sanders is doing his job, fighting in Congress to make things actually happen now that we are in a crisis. And that is exactly why I support him. He has priorities and they lay with his constituents, not his campaign. That and the fact that he is directing his fundraising operation to raise money for families.

    Joe on the other hand has nothing to do, and no interest in charity. That gives him time to start a lame podcast offering “Virtual Happy Hours.” Like we really need fake joviality during an employment and debt crisis that will ruin many families. Whatever “young people” he is connecting with on those it isn’t the ones who are worried about losing their jobs, homes, and health all in one go.

    What is really sad is that CNN insists on treating these fake press conferences as a meaningful action not just lame campaigning from a bored hack.

    1. nycTerrierist

      I saw a couple of the panels with medical experts that Bernie streamed re: the virus.
      He was presidential, human, with his commanding grasp of practical details as well as the big picture,
      and how we got here.
      Can’t find the full videos quickly, but I don’t see how people are faulting his ‘leadership’ here?
      Yes, all the powers that be are against him.
      But I don’t think he is failing to show leadership on his issue (and so many others)


      Bernie Hosts Coronavirus Panel with Medical Experts
      Mar 26, 2020

  17. michael99

    The House passed the coronavirus relief bill by voice vote, not roll call vote. From The Hill:

    “House Democratic leaders were able to move the package by voice vote, a rarely used procedure allowing a few members to air their objections without forcing the entire chamber to reconvene. But it didn’t happen without a good dose of last-minute drama on the chamber floor.

    To pass the bill, leaders in both parties had to unite to foil an attempted blockade by Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican who had driven to Washington for the vote and requested a recorded tally, which requires the participation of at least half of all sitting House members.

    Lawmakers in both parties thwarted Massie’s effort with a procedural gambit of their own: An insufficient number rose in support of his roll-call request, allowing the speedier voice vote to stand.

    Still, Massie’s threat of a recorded vote sent leaders in both parties scrambling Thursday night to bring enough lawmakers back to the Capitol to approve the massive relief package. And many were furious that they were forced to defy the recommendations of the congressional physician and other public health experts, who have warned against such gatherings.

    GOP leaders declined to allow Massie to speak on the floor prior to the vote, prompting him to accuse his own party brass of being “afraid of the truth.”‘


  18. Samuel Conner


    re: the pandemic plot that leads the WC post,

    A log-y plot with superimposed lines calculated for and labeled with various doubling times would be more useful from the perspective of interpreting how rapidly the known case load is growing and whether the expansion timescale is changing. The linear-y plot certainly alarms, but doesn’t aid one’s understanding much. You’re not marketing mutual funds :)

    Re: normalizing for national population, I think that in the early stages, when the uninfected population can be thought of as essentially limitless, normalizing does not mean much. Later, when the infection is widespread, normalization would presumably tell one something about the relative efficacies of national health systems, The academics who survive this will have a lot of study in coming decades.

    1. notabanker

      Out of all the bewildering and crazy things going on, that NYU Dean video is one of the, if not the biggest WTF I’ve seen. What fantasy land are these people living in?

      1. flora

        It’s called performative management – where ‘performative’ has many meanings. Choose the meaning best suited…. /heh.

  19. GF

    Trump is using the Defense Production Act to force General Motors to produce ventilators. From a news email from Social Security Works.

      1. MLTPB

        Only GM, or others like Ford, Tesla, and foreign owned car factories, like BMW’s, as well?

        1. mle detroit

          Probably because GM’s CEO is a woman he feels safe bullying. Like our “governor, what’s her name, a woman governor.”

    1. hunkerdown

      It’s been said that GM is a finance company with a car company bolted on. In that light, medical equipment is a natural business for them.

    2. flora

      Got a postcard from CDC outlining “President Trump’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America”.

      First recommendation:
      “Listen and follow the directions of you State and Local Authorities.”

      My state now recommends stay-at-home until late April. So, not a bad recommendation from CDC/Trump. Nothing there about rushing back to work by Easter.

  20. Cuibono

    Everyone talking about how the laws of our country dont allow the sorts of interventions that say Korea has done.
    Have folks not read HIPAA?

    Treatment Under the Privacy Rule, covered entities may disclose, without a patient’s authorization, protected health information about the patient as necessary to treat the patient or to treat a different patient. Treatment includes the coordination or management of health care and related services by one or more health care providers and others, consultation between providers, and the referral of patients for treatment. See 45 CFR §§ 164.502(a)(1)(ii), 164.506(c), and the definition of “treatment” at 164.501. Public Health Activities The HIPAA Privacy Rule recognizes the legitimate need for public health authorities and others responsible for ensuring public health and safety to have access to protected health information that is necessary to carry out their public health mission. Therefore, the Privacy Rule permits covered entities to disclose needed protected health information without individual authorization


  21. urblintz

    So, watching Trump’s signing ceremony for the relief bill (Pelosi/Schumer absent), he said “6.2 trillion! I’ve never signed anything with a ‘t’ on it” and the room laughed, of course.

    … but you will notice that the DEMS and MSM (including the business channels) are all saying 2 trillion, and when the DEMS talk at all about the wall street slush fund – which is seldom – they talk about the unleveraged 500 billion. No one except Kudlow and Trump are admitting (bragging) that it’s 6.2 trillion.

    And the business networks are reporting that Powell has already leveraged 4 trillion of that for “liquidity.”

    1. MLTPB

      This is likely not the last relief bill, and he will bigger numbers to tweet about in the future.

    2. John

      The serfs seem happy to get a one time $1200 check in exchange for not having Social Security or Medicare when they get older.

    3. michael99

      Got an email from my Representative in Congress, Doris Matsui. It lists many of the key provisions of the coronavirus relief act such as the unemployment insurance, direct payments to americans, and the money for small businesses, but completely omits mention of the $500 billion loan program for large businesses. The less said about that (and the other $4 trillion at the Fed for the same purpose) the better, apparently.

  22. homeroid

    N95 masks,yup got about 7 of them in a corner of the woodshop. Not too dusty could be used again for sanding. Brought them in the house and gently cleaned with warm water and mild soap. Hung over night near heater. They look good as new. Next how to plug the exhaust holes in front on that plastic flapper thingy. Well I cut some strips of cotton rags about !/4″ x 6″ wrapped around the thingy holes a couple times and carefully brushed on some urethane wood glue. Soaked in well. As some may know this type of glue expands on drying, now it is a solid physical seal. Next how to best sterilize these masks as to not degrade them. Think i will make a small rack and set into pressure canner so as to hold masks above some 90% alcohol (yeah don’t ask) put the sealed lid on and leave near heater over night to fume. Not sure yet how many times i can wash and fume them will let you know.
    Things seem still good here at the hamlet by the sea.

    1. a different chris

      ???? I know of no N95 masks with the exhaust flappers. Why are, or why do you think, disposable medical masks are “in the corner of” your woodshop?

      1. homeroid

        Chris I have bought them for years now. I live in a fishing town boat work of every kind means we get huge selection of masks. The ones i use get reused till they cant be. so yes the corner repository of slightly used masks. Look it up for your self, SAS Safety corp, 8611 NIOSH N95 particulate respirator TC-84A-3889

  23. Tom Stone

    I was looking into getting a Tyvek Hazmat suit to wear while shopping, however the cut is HORRIBLE, the color is just wrong ( Yellow doesn’t go with my complexion) and I don’t have an appropriate tie.
    Style is a vital part of my image, so I decided to go with a basic black garbage bag and a motorcycle helmet with a face shield.

    1. MLTPB

      One is tempted to train a dog to do one’s shopping these dsys.

      Except dogs could get it too.

      And in Belgium. A cat reportedly caught it.

      That leaves robot shoppers.

  24. boydownthelane

    “The CIA’s assassination of  President John Kennedy in 1963 is the foundational event in the invisible government’s takeover of the United States. Some of us have been repeating this for years, only to be dismissed with the CIA-coined term “conspiracy theorists.”
    Bob Dylan has now added his voice with this new song…

    [Verse 1]
    It was a dark day in Dallas, November ’63
    A day that will live on in infamy
    President Kennedy was a-ridin’ high
    Good day to be livin’ and a good day to die
    Being led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb
    He said, “Wait a minute, boys, you know who I am?”
    “Of course we do, we know who you are!”
    Then they blew off his head while he was still in the car
    Shot down like a dog in broad daylight
    Was a matter of timing and the timing was right
    You got unpaid debts, we’ve come to collect
    We’re gonna kill you with hatred, without any respect
    We’ll mock you and shock you and we’ll put it in your face
    We’ve already got someone here to take your place
    The day they blew out the brains of the king
    Thousands were watching, no one saw a thing
    It happened so quickly, so quick, by surprise
    Right there in front of everyone’s eyes
    Greatest magic trick ever under the sun
    Perfectly executed, skillfully done
    Wolfman, oh wolfman, oh wolfman howl
    Rub-a-dub-dub, it’s a murder most foul

    [Verse 3]
    Tommy, can you hear me? I’m the Acid Queen
    I’m riding in a long, black Lincoln limousine
    Ridin’ in the backseat next to my wife
    Headed straight on in to the afterlife
    I’m leaning to the left, I got my head in her lap
    Hold on, I’ve been led into some kind of a trap
    Where we ask no quarter, and no quarter do we give
    We’re right down the street, from the street where you live
    They mutilated his body and they took out his brain
    What more could they do? They piled on the pain
    But his soul was not there where it was supposed to be at
    For the last fifty years they’ve been searchin’ for that
    Freedom, oh freedom, freedom over me
    I hate to tell you, mister, but only dead men are free
    Send me some lovin’, then tell me no lie
    Throw the gun in the gutter and walk on by
    Wake up, little Susie, let’s go for a drive
Cross the Trinity River, let’s keep hope alive
    Turn the radio on, don’t touch the dials
    Parkland hospital, only six more miles
    You got me dizzy, Miss Lizzy, you filled me with lead
    That magic bullet of yours has gone to my head
    I’m just a patsy like Patsy Cline
    Never shot anyone from in front or behind
    I’ve blood in my eye, got blood in my ear
    I’m never gonna make it to the new frontier
    Zapruder’s film I seen night before
Seen it thirty-three times, maybe more
    It’s vile and deceitful, it’s cruel and it’s mean
    Ugliest thing that you ever have seen
    They killed him once and they killed him twice
    Killed him like a human sacrifice
    The day that they killed him, someone said to me, “Son
    The age of the Antichrist has just only begun”
    Air Force One comin’ in through the gate
    Johnson sworn in at 2:38
    Let me know when you decide to throw in the towel
    It is what it is, and it’s murder most foul

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=3NbQkyvbw18&feature=emb_logo [16:56]


    “… The title comes from a book-$1.98 pamphlet subtitled – The Conspiracy That Murdered President Kennedy – 975 Questions and Answers by Stanley J. Marks, and published by the Bureau of International Affairs.

    Does anyone have this little book? Does anyone know if Stanley J. Marks is still alive? And where is the Bureau of International Affairs located.

    So many questions, so little time.

    I’m also going to look into whether the Corona virus was a natural product or man made, and will be reviewing my previous work on chemical biological warfare, to see if there’s anything there.

    While the Devil’s Chessboard seems a bit disorganized at the moment, we have a major Queen on our side – the truth, and she will guide us to win this Great Game in the end.”


    1. Zagonostra

      Glad to see there are others out there that are making connection, connecting the dots.Dylan releasing that song now is not coincidental, read Hamlet, act 1, scene 5, ‘Murder Most Foul’ indeed…

  25. John k

    It’s dangerous to extrapolate logarithmic trends very far. Still…
    The day to day case expansion is clearly slowing, tugged up by more testing and tugged down by increased social distancing. No doubt places avoiding change will be tomorrow’s hot spots with rapid expansion… letting 50 states making their own decisions can’t continue for long.

    Anyway, assuming the daily rate declines from 1.27 to 1.00 in 27 days for an avg decline of .01/day. Gets me 2.5 million, say 1/5 or 500k need to be hospitalized. And by then staff will not be in good shape, like Italy.

    maybe martial law.

    1. Samuel Conner

      If I’m interpreting your model rightly, you’re projecting “minimal further spread” by late April (day on day # confirmed cases = 1.00). That seems optimistic to me.

      In other news, day on day “new fatalities” jumped from mid-200s yesterday to (at this writing) within a whisker of 400 today. A new cluster of elder-care cases? Local “breakage” of hospital systems? What accounts for this discontinuity?

      1. Samuel Conner

        OTOH, that extrapolation might be a plausible lower bound for what to expect.

        And IIRC, there are not quite 1,000,000 beds of all kinds in the US hospital system. So on this model, in 4 weeks roughly half of those will need to be converted to supportive care, or large numbers of new beds with supportive care gear will need to be set up.

        Me thinks that the President’s remarks about the Governors overestimating their needs for ventilators are so much flatulence. Thankfully he doesn’t smoke, or there might be an explosion.

  26. JohnHerbieHancock

    Had a “furlough” scare at my company, and me and some of the other paper pushers in the law department were wondering what it means to be “furloughed” versus “laid off.”

    I found this explainer helpful (at least to understand what was coming, though not what to do about it…)

    Expect “‘mass furlough” to be a widespread response to this in the next couple weeks.

  27. o-o-o

    I saw the reference of possibly introducing “Failed State” as a new category in the Links this morning, and wanted to post approval and encouragement for this. But I am a lurker, not a poster, and let the opportunity slip. But the more I thought about what I would say about this category, the more I found it incomplete. Then this afternoon it is officially included as a new category in the water cooler, and the other half fell into place in my mind.

    “Failed State” is a category that covers deterioration and disintegration. Of our infrastructure, institutions, rule of law, societal norms, safety nets, and expectations of the future. Of the ineffectiveness and incompetence of our government even in normal times, let alone the current situation. Of the brazen and shameless manipulation of the democratic primary to achieve the desired outcome of the elites.*

    But there is a flip side to this coin. A category that covers the continued and accelerating concentration of wealth and power. Where those that have a lot are actively trying to take what they can from those that have a little, until there is nothing but themselves and those that have nothing. Of mega-corporate consolidation facilitated by the purchase of distressed assets at firesale prices, all while being financed with public funds and being promoted as an emergency rescue package. Where laws and regulations become increasingly irrelevant, as there is no longer any money, personnel, energy or political capital for their enforcement by the Failed State. And as the Failed State loses, somewhere, someone wins.

    The (other) new category is The Klept.

    *for those of you still reading, I struggled with categorization of the whole DNC primary fustercluck. Should it be tallied under Failed State or The Klept? They have certainly shown our election process to deeply flawed, but they have also served the purposes of the elite. Tough call.

  28. VietnamVet

    A general strike is impossible with the working class sheltering in place. However, at some point, essential workers; doctors, nurses, policemen, paramedics, grocery clerks, truckers, deliverymen, warehousemen and utility workers who keep stoically doing their jobs while being ill-treated by credentialed managers, denied safety equipment, getting sick and too many dying will collectively say; “the hell with it”. The nation will fall apart.

  29. Amfortas the hippie

    I haven’t looked at news(save this WC) since yesterday morning in san antonio, on my fone.
    the two heb excursions yesterday…plus the 6am new years day style traffic…really freaked me out.
    the lines on the sidewalk(and the super fast checkout), the cops all over the place….and the empty shelves(not as empty as the little podunk grocer out here)…and everyone accepting it all.
    one guy…sleeveless shirt tats, bald head, crinkled straw cowboy hat(looked like my cousin,lol) came up, looked at the line, and muttered “f%%% that” and left. people chuckled.
    i talked to the guy behind me in line for a spell.
    how we don’t have TP or bread out in the sticks.
    he related that for the first 5 days, there was chaos…hoarding…people buying up hundreds of rolls of TP(me:”must have been some pretty big a$$holes”…crowd laughs hard, then suddenly goes back to their twitter) and anything else they could fit in their suv’s…fights in the bread aisle…a near riot over TP…hence the expanded police presence.
    the cops, for their part, must have gotten a memo and a flash drive of the andy griffith show, “watch this and learn”.
    they were more polite and friendly than i have ever experienced cops before.
    I spoke to a few of them(will talk to a fence post)….and behind the jollity was a fear in their eyes.
    I felt like a bird that’s got into the house the whole time i was in that city…I couldn’t wait to get out.
    I-10 West was also at 6am new year’s day levels…prolly 60% big trucks(with TP, presumably), and the rest various work trucks…lots of HVAC guys(first hot spell).
    heading east on I-10…and south on US87, was convoy after convoy of oilfield equipment…we must have seen a couple of hundred of these trucks, carrying a bewildering array of pipes stuck together with fans and tanks…and heavy equipment, too…so they’re packing up the Permian, sending it back to all those empty chainlinked lots in and around Houston, to rust in the sun. Like in the 80’s.
    the entire trip was surreal…and in the grocery stores, the words “police state” kept bubbling into consciousness, unbidden.
    got back here and decontaminated and allowed cousin to prop me up far too close to the beer cooler. listened to the silence and the birds and the cows munching placidly and realised for the trillionth time just how fortunate i am to be way the hell out here.
    I’m thinking about you all.
    stay frosty out there.
    Redémptor ómnium

  30. drumlin woodchuckles

    About that photo of the collapsed ped-walkway-bridge in Detroit . . . it has a handwritten sign on it.
    The sign says ” Biden for NAFTA”. People haven’t forgotten around here.

    I increasingly thing the DemParty is deliberately conspiring to throw the 2020 election to Trump. They hope things will get so bad in Trump Term Two that a desperate populace will elect any old thing the Dems choose to coronate for candidate in 2024.

  31. ambrit

    Originally meant as reply to Samuel Conner above.
    More to the point, “Where is “Paperclip” Speer?”
    I really wonder who will get the job of overseeing ‘Organization Trump.’ (Over the entranceway to the factories will be the new Motto: “Finance Sets Us Free.”)

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