2:00PM Water Cooler 4/10/2020

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 have changed to a logarithmic scale for US States and territories, adjusted for population. See Vice, “How to Read the Coronavirus Graphs“:

Quantities that grow exponentially, when depicted on a linear scale, look like curves that bend sharply upward, with the curve getting constantly steeper. On a log scale, exponentially growing values can be depicted with straight diagonal lines.

That’s the beauty of plotting things on log scales. Plots are meant to make things easy to understand, and we humans are much more adept at understanding linear, straight-line behavior. Log plots enable us to grasp exponential behavior by transferring the complexity of constantly steepening curves into the simplicity of an exponentially increasing scale.

On a log scale, we want to constantly be making the line more and more horizontal. The general concept of “flattening” is still a good one, but it’s never going to curve down. And so what we should be looking, and hoping for is a trend toward horizontal.

I removed population adjustment, based on this exchange from alert reader dk:

I hope this change is helpful. One also notices at once that the New York and New Jersey metroplexes stand out.


“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

* * *


Biden (D)(1): “Barack Obama wins the Democratic primary” [Politico]. “Obama had a delicate task. Everyone knew whom he preferred, and yet he could not be seen as helping organize the massive party-wide show of force in favor of Biden that emerged from South Carolina through Super Tuesday. Obama’s aides forcefully reiterated that he was scrupulously not intervening. But some of his aides now concede that behind the scenes Obama played a role in nudging things in Biden’s direction at the crucial moment when the Biden team was organizing former candidates to coalesce around Biden.” • And the deck: “Released from his self-imposed neutrality, the former president will soon make the case for Biden that Biden has had trouble making himself.” • “Neutrality,” for pity’s sake. Everybody knew what Obama wanted, and the article is full of details that prove it.

Biden (D)(2): “Biden rolls out new policies in effort to court Sanders supporters” [Axios]. On health care:

1. Lower the Medicare age from 65 to 60.

Under Biden’s plan, Americans would be able to choose whether to access Medicare benefits when they turn 60.

If not, they would be permitted to remain on their employer’s insurance, Biden’s “public option” or other plans they can access through an Affordable Care Act marketplace.

This is a slap in the face to Sanders supporters. Why 60? Anyhow, Biden was selected to prevent #MedicareForAll, not advance toward it, so there’s no reason to believe Biden is serious about it; if he were, he would have advocated for this in teh primary. Finally, tacking left in the primary, and then right in the general is the oldest trick in the book. One Sanders supporter comments:

So Neera’s gonna pull out a couple of three-ring binders and all the wonks are gonna go to work (lucky wonks). I’m so excited.

Sanders (D)(1):”Bernie Sanders and the Promised Land” [The New Yorker]. “Eventually, the hope that Sanders inspired on the left became directly related to the despair that Trump provoked. Trump sought to bring about a conservative kleptocracy in which power justified itself and a white-centric vision of what it means to be American was celebrated. Sanders wanted to address the inequality that continues to plague the country—through wars, financial crises, and actual plagues—and usher in a multiracial mass-movement politics which would force America’s powerful to make concessions to their fellow-citizens. If a single charismatic leader could push the country toward one of those visions, perhaps a single charismatic leader could push it toward the other—this was the theory that formed the basis of Sanders’s second Presidential campaign.” • I think this thesis was more to do with the yearning of liberal Democrats for a leader to whom they can willingly submit than it does with facts out in the electoral biomass.

Sanders (D)(2): “Sanders — And The Media — Learned The Wrong Lessons From Trump In 2016” [Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight]. “Sanders ran further to the left in 2020 than he did in 2016, with a message that shifted from economic populism to a broader and more ‘intersectional’ leftism. This shift was reflected at the ballot box, too. For instance, Sanders won just 24 percent of moderates in the Michigan Democratic primary this year (but 63 percent of ‘very liberal’ voters) — as compared 44 percent of moderates and 59 percent of ‘very liberal’ voters in 2016.” • Anybody who thinks intersectionality is more left than economic populism needs to rethink. Conceptual confusion aside, Silver is onto something: A warming sign in 2020 in Iowa was that Sanders lost the Mississippi-adjacent counties that flipped in 2016 from Obama to Trump. And lost them to Buttigieg. This could be because Sanders didn’t have a farm policy tuned to those counties (I can’t say), but it could also be that intersectionality is fundamentally a PMC, NGO-adjacent concern that did not speak to those voters. Personally, I thought that Sanders struck the balance pretty well with “multiracial, multigenerational working class,” but then I’m not those voters.

Sanders (D)(3): I tihnk this is the first insider coming forward:

Interested to see what readers think.

* * *

WI: “Three tubs of ballots discovered in mail processing center after polls closed in Wisconsin” [MSN]. “”I learned today that the (state Elections Commission) received a call from a postal service worker informing them 3 large tubs of absentee ballots from Oshkosh and Appleton, were just located,” Republican Sen. Dan Feyen of Fond du Lac said on Twitter.”


MN: Minnesota AFL-CIO endorses Ilhan Omar:

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 Price Index: “March 2020 CPI: Year-over-Year Inflation Rate Slows to 1.5%” [Econintersect]. “The index for energy was the reason for the decline of the CPI-U. Medical care services cost inflation increased from 5.3 % to 5.5 % year-over-year.”

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 04 April 2020 – Rail Decline Magnitude Not Seen Since The Great Recession” [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. The rate of growth of rail had been improving before the coronavirus (even though it was in contraction) – and now the coronavirus is driving rail deeper into contraction. The effects of coronavirus will continue to slow rail.”

Honey for the Bears: “03 April 2020 ECRI’s WLI Growth Rate Now At Record Lows” [Econintersect]. “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. We are in a recession and just waiting for the NBER to declare it. Hopefully it will be decided quicker than the Great Recession which took one year.”

Honey for the Bears: “U.S. Recession Model at 100% Confirms Downturn Is Already Here” [Bloomberg]. “The novel coronavirus has spurred what will likely be the worst recession in generations as the U.S. economy grinds to a halt and millions lose their jobs…. Bloomberg Economics created a model last year to determine America’s recession odds. The chance of a recession now stands at 100%, confirming an end to the nation’s longest-running expansion.” • Maybe Obama rebooting the system in 2009 instead of upgrading it wasn’t the greatest idea. But here we are!

* * *

Shipping: “Substituting cargo for passengers becomes mainstream business for airlines” [American Shipper]. “What started out a month ago as a niche, experimental business — turning passenger aircraft into dedicated freighters for cargo customers — has exploded in popularity and become a driver of sorely needed revenue for airlines….. Demand for repurposed passenger jets has been so high that Lufthansa Airlines says it will even remove seats from four aircraft to make room for more cargo….. The coronavirus pandemic and widespread travel restrictions caused passenger travel to crater, forcing airlines to ground up to 90% of their fleets to control costs. About 30% to 40% of global cargo capacity immediately disappeared because passenger bellies are extensively used to haul cargo and mail. That created a shortage of space because there are not enough full freighters to make up the loss, especially with huge demand to move medical supplies.”

The Bezzle: “Self-driving car LIDAR stalwart Velodyne sued for sacking a third of its staff claiming coronavirus was the cause” [The Register]. “A key maker of Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensors for self-driving cars unlawfully terminated more than 140 of its employees to shift jobs offshore, a lawsuit claims. Velodyne Lidar fired more than 33 per cent of its staff working at its headquarters based in San Jose, USA, we’re told. The layoffs came as a shock to more than 140 of its employees, who were only given one day’s notice, it is claimed.”

Travel: “Coronavirus Is Spreading and Cruise Ships Are Still Sailing” [Bloomberg]. “The cruise industry is underwater after ocean liners carrying thousands of passengers became some of the earliest and most high-profile spreaders of the novel coronavirus. At least a half-dozen ships are still at sea with passengers and crew on board as cruise lines navigate long trips back to port and struggle to find ports willing to let them dock.” • With map.

Travel: “CDC Extends ‘No Sail Order’ for All Cruise Ships by At Least 100 Days” [Bloomberg]. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended its “No Sail Order” for all cruise ships by at least 100 days — or until Covid-19 is no longer considered a public health emergency. The CDC said there are 100 cruise ships at sea off U.S. coasts, with 80,000 crew members on board. Twenty ships at port or anchorage in the U.S. have known or suspected Covid-19 among crew, according to the agency’s statement Thursday…. The companies, led by industry giant Carnival Corp., have turned to financial markets to raise billions to wait out the pandemic. But Carnival estimates it has liquidity needs of about $1 billion for each month it doesn’t sail.”

The Fed: “Fed Bets Trillions In SMB Lending That Consumers Will Return” [PYMNTS.COM]. “It stands to reason that individuals and families will seek, in the absence of steady cash flow — or beset by worries that, as the economy does rebound, the foundation may be shaky — to pull back on spending. And in that scenario, the hundreds of billions of dollars in lending may not be enough for us to truly emerge from the economic devastation of COVID-19.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 43 Fear (previous close: 31 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 21 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 9 at 5:15pm.

The Biosphere

“How to Fix a Failing Global Effort” [Foreign Affairs]. “Climate change is the major environmental challenge facing nations today, and it is increasingly viewed as one of the central issues in international relations. Yet governments have used a flawed architecture in their attempts to forge treaties to counter it. The key agreements, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2015 Paris climate accord, have relied on voluntary arrangements, which induce free-riding that undermines any agreement. States need to reconceptualize climate agreements and replace the current flawed model with an alternative that has a different incentive structure—what I would call the “Climate Club.” Nations can overcome the syndrome of free-riding in international climate agreements if they adopt the club model and include penalties for nations that do not participate. Otherwise, the global effort to curb climate change is sure to fail….. There are two key features of the Climate Club that would distinguish it from previous efforts. The first is that participating countries would agree to undertake harmonized emission reductions designed to meet a climate objective (such as a two-degree temperature limit). The second and critical difference is that nations that do not participate or do not meet their obligations would incur penalties.” • This is important and interesting. Readers?

“The projected timing of abrupt ecological disruption from climate change” [Nature]. “Here we use annual projections (from 1850 to 2100) of temperature and precipitation across the ranges of more than 30,000 marine and terrestrial species to estimate the timing of their exposure to potentially dangerous climate conditions. We project that future disruption of ecological assemblages as a result of climate change will be abrupt, because within any given ecological assemblage the exposure of most species to climate conditions beyond their realized niche limits occurs almost simultaneously. Under a high-emissions scenario (representative concentration pathway (RCP) 8.5), such abrupt exposure events begin before 2030 in tropical oceans and spread to tropical forests and higher latitudes by 2050.”

“A poor substitute for the real thing: captive-reared monarch butterflies are weaker, paler and have less elongated wings than wild migrants” [The Royal Society Biology Letters]. “The monarch in North America undertakes an extremely arduous migration each autumn, attempting to reach distant overwintering colonies, either in central Mexico or on the California coast, in a journey lasting two months…. Despite warnings from monarch conservation groups [1], a growing number of citizens have taken it upon themselves to rear monarchs in captivity, sometimes in large numbers, in an effort to ‘boost’ the monarch population. Monarchs are also commercially reared for release at weddings and festive events, and these releases are typically promoted as helping the population. While these efforts may be well intentioned, new research shows how monarchs reared in artificial conditions have trouble orienting properly during their autumn migration [2]. Other new work showed bouts of handling leads to physiological stress in developing monarchs [3], which may occur repeatedly during rearing activities. These surprising results highlight how little is known about the effects of captive rearing on monarch development, and given the growing popularity of rearing by hobbyists and commercial breeders, speak to the immediate need for further study.”

“Stone Age String Strengthens Case for Neandertal Smarts” [Scientific American]. “Fibers twisted together to form string might not sound like bleeding-edge technology. But with string, or cordage, one can make bags, nets, rope and clothing. We use it to lace our shoes, floss our teeth, suspend bridges, transmit electrical power—the list goes on and on. Naturally, archaeologists have been eager to trace the origins of this pivotal innovation. But doing so is a difficult business because ancient string was made from perishable materials that have mostly been lost to time. Now archaeologists who have been excavating a rock shelter in France have recovered a fragment of string that could push back the known record of this technology by tens of thousands of years. What is more, the artifact appears to be the handiwork of Neandertals, adding to mounting evidence that our extinct cousins were cleverer than they have been given credit for.”

“A website about the U.S. electricity grid offers a mesmerizing way to pass the time productively” [Yale Climate Connectionds]. Here it is. There’s a fun animation that shows demand over the grid over time. Play with it! For example:

What’s that enormous spike in the Midatlantic region? I did a cursory search and found nothing. Any grid mavens in the house?

Health Care

“Keeping Hospital Billing Systems Healthy In A Pandemic” [PYMNTS.COM]. Obviously our first concern. “‘Elective procedures have been postponed and account for almost 75 percent of [providers’] profitability,’ Talaga said. ‘That is immediately having an impact on their cash flow, and as I have talked to several of our customers, they’re expecting an impact of at least 30 percent on revenue overall for the year. So, they are getting very creative with different ways that they can prepare for not only the immediate loss but also the long term because this is not just going to fix itself as soon as this is over.'” • So I guess the “return to normal” will include a lots of surprise billing, plenty of upselling, even more testing, and a metric f*clkton of cosmetic surgery? After all, how else can we keep the adminstrators well-paid, and build out that new room with the snooker tables in the lounge and all the private suites? (See here in hospital capital budgets.)

“Social scientists scramble to study pandemic, in real time” [Science]. “For some researchers, the pandemic has created an unexpected opportunity to run “natural experiments.” Unlike physicists or biologists, social scientists are frequently constrained from using controlled experiments to test hypotheses. No university, for instance, would approve an experiment that involved firing one group of workers and seeing how they fare compared with their still-employed colleagues. But interventions such as natural disasters—or a pandemic—can help create such experiments, if a researcher is ready to take advantage.”

Our Famously Free Press

I was not familiar with the Yglesias Cycle:

I’m wondering if there is a Klein cycle?

Feral Hog Watch

“‘Super Pigs’ Weighing 600 Pounds Wreak Havoc Across Canada — And Build ‘Pigloos’ To Survive The Winter” [Alll That’s Interesting (dk)]. “About 30 years ago, Canadian farmers released hogs into the wild as the meat market slowed… [D]escendants of those boars have since bred with domestic pigs — and are now wreaking environmental havoc on the country’s crops, wildlife, and grasslands…. The wild and domestic traits they’ve inherited gave them both a tolerance for extreme cold and the ability to birth large litters…. Perhaps most stunning is their size — [wildlife researcher with the University of Saskatchewan Ryan Brook] and his colleagues captured at least one hog that weighed more than 600 pounds…. They’ve even begun to build shelters above ground, since dubbed ‘pigloos’ by experts. As such, wildlife researcher with the University of Saskatchewan Ryan Brook has decided to aptly dub this generation as ‘super pigs.'” • All they need are opposable thumbs…

Class Warfare

“How Not to Tackle COVID-19: Butler’s Anticapitalism” [Nonsite]. “In a recent blog post, Judith Butler inveighs against Trump’s America First jingoism and his ‘unethical or criminal self-aggrandizement’ during the COVID-19 crisis. … Butler now uses terms that she has largely avoided throughout a long and distinguished career: ‘market-driven,’ ‘capitalism,’ ‘inequality.’ This is good to see. ‘Capitalism Has its Limits,’ her title declares. And yet, the author’s fretting and fidgeting suggests a profound discomfort with these basic terms—and a desire to redefine, domesticate, and pacify them. The fidgeting is evident on many fronts. It takes a certain amount of intellectual heavy-lifting, for example, to reduce capitalism to one of many -isms that might equally reduce one’s life chances or access to healthcare. (Although not, apparently, as much as you might think, since everyone on the neoliberal left does it all the time.) Butler is thus careful to invoke ‘nationalism, white supremacy, violence against women, queer, and trans people, and capitalist exploitation’ as coequal factors in ‘radical inequality.’ This ritual invocation—plus the pivot from exploitation to discrimination (‘The virus alone does not discriminate, but we humans surely do, formed and animated as we are by the interlocking powers of nationalism, racism, xenophobia, and capitalism’—serves to ward off charges of vulgar Marxism, no doubt, and to keep the narrative securely within the bounds of academic and foundation liberalism. (Establishment liberalism denounces inequalities so long as they can be traced to prejudice and discrimination; about exploitation and class inequalities it has much less to say.)”

“LEE CAMP: Four Reasons the Ruling Elite Love This Crisis” [Consortium News]. “Because our ruling elite fit in the farthest reaches of the sociopath spectrum, they do not see a horrific crisis as a time to help people. They see it as a time to get what they want.” • Adaptive behavior. For example:

News of the Wired

“Systems that defy detailed understanding” [Nel Hage]. For example, “Big Balls of Mud.” “When a system gets big enough fast enough, with a large enough team and under lots of competing product pressures, it risks losing nearly all internal logic and guarantees.”

He’s not wrong:

* * *
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: “This was taken in the early morning at the Ken Malloy Regional Harbor Park (could that name be any longer?) in Harbor City, California. The park is quite near the Los Angeles Harbor College which is one of my library jobs, so I stop here when I’ve arrived at the area early and have a few minutes. Not exactly a plant photo—I’m counting it as such for the silhouette of that tree.” Oh, I don’t know. It’s not the tree’s fault there’s all that reflective material about. I’d want to dig into those shadows in post, though.

* * *

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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. MarkSparky

    Reading newspaper headlines around the country, one sad trend I’m seeing is Covid-19 breakouts in food processing plants in Kansas and Nebraska, among Hispanic workers. Both of these states have resisted forcing people to stay home from work. Many of these employees don’t speak English, live with extended families in close quarters, and are in rural areas with limited healthcare options. Add on the anxiety about anyone in the family not being documented, to further limit their willingness to access healthcare.

    1. Watt4Bob

      Smithfield Farms closed one of their plants in South Dakota yesterday

      Remember, Smithfield is owned by the Chinese, I bet Trump won’t go spouting that little nugget.

      At least 80 people had been sickened, the most concentrated COVID-19 outbreak in South Dakota, by Wednesday. Company executives Thursday decided to close the plant for three days.

      And this;

      It’s one of several packers, including a Tyson pork plant in southeast Iowa and a large Cargill beef facility in eastern Pennsylvania, closed because of virus outbreaks among workers.

      At the Cargill plant in Hazleton, Pa., there were 164 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, said Wendell Young, president of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1776, which represents 800 workers there.

      164 out of 800 employees, that’s going to end up at 100% in a few days.

      1. Billy

        That’s what your oven is for. Heating food internally to 350 or more for half an hour must kill the virus. Then there’s microwaves, which I can’t find any research on.

        Beware of any kind of packaging, especially stuff that’s been handled and on the belt at the grocery. Assume that it is tainted.

        Salads are so over, unless you grow them yourself.

        1. Chris

          Just in case anyone is paying attention to what you said, you do not need to cook food at that high a temperature to kill bacteria or to deactivate a virus. About 150 F (63 C) is what most research has shown. Most meats you cook to an internal temperature above 170 F. The setting in the oven is not the temperature inside the food. Telling people to cook the food so that the internal temperature is that high will cause a lot of people to waste food they may not have.

          1. Billy

            Thank You Chris.
            Maybe that’s why people never want to eat at our place more than once?
            Since lives are at stake here, I want to be really careful about everything.

            How long at that temperature?
            Also, I’m talking about raw chicken, meat or other food stuff, not precooked.

            Please note, 150 F is not high enough, in general cooking terms, not virus killing, per this government chart.


      2. Bill Carson

        Same thing happening at a meat packing plant in Greeley, Colorado.

        Weld health: Over 30 JBS employees have tested positive for COVID-19, investigation continues

        “Weld County’s health department in a statement Thursday said that the department, which it acknowledges is investigating the JBS beef plant in Greeley, is aware of more than 30 JBS employees who have tested positive for COVID-19. The department is also concerned about workers being at work while sick.”

        1. Tyronius

          Thank you for this link. I wondered what was happening in the largest meat packing plant in Colorado. “No plans to close” plus very poorly manipulated and outright false data in the statement released by the company. They behave as badly as coal mine operators.

    1. Samuel Conner

      That ‘ll make ’em eager to sell us more pharma raw materials!

      I wonder how many of the actuators in our precision weapons rely on rare earth magnets?

      Someone send LG the memo that we need to become an autarky before we piss off the entire rest of the world.

      1. deplorado

        There is abundant potential for squeezing establishment balls with this to punish them for their monumental stupidity and venality. Imagine pressuring Trump to cancel all student and medical debt.
        “If you are so tough on China, Mr. President — cancel the US debt to China, so the American people can get a break from their crushing student and medical debt. Make China pay for it!”

        How would both Dem and GOP establishment fight that? Explain that we are slaves to China? Or that the national debt doesn’t work the way they say? Hm??

        That’s a populist message if there was one.

        Some Tea-Partier should make this his position and primary Trump with it. Or some angry comedian.

        1. Darius

          Hamilton had the US assume state debts from the Revolution and made US debt an attractive investment, which it has been ever since. This is a reason the US has had no trouble borrowing money and the dollar has been a trusted medium of exchange since the Washington administration. I don’t the mechanisms, but it seems to me that Lindsey Graham is proposing a reverse Hamilton.

          Just recognize the principles of MMT and act on them explicitly, not just implicitly. Stop with all mindless head fakes.

          1. griffen

            I think the history of the US$ and federal debt is a tad more nuanced than you present. Just by example, the civil war, Jackson making sure he busted the bank system, and periods of wild economic swings.

            After 1913 things changed no doubt.

    2. notabanker

      Could someone with knowledge of Fed operations comment on how this could be done? Would they just debit a Chinese foreign account or would this involve actually voiding UST’s they hold?

    3. Bsoder

      Is he the stupidest guy in senate or what? I wonder if he was on his knees when he said that. Only on @NC would I even try this say this but, trade between countries of the kind the exists between China and the US does not result in debt per se. We buy more stuff from China then China buys from us. So what? As long as you have the money to pay that isn’t “debt”. But follow the money, what does China or companies in China do with it? It all needs to be reinvested or spent in some way. The working class in the US doesn’t benefit much from this, but for Gvt, Wall Street, PMC, and our very own 500+ billionaires it works out fine. Except, when it doesn’t like now, which isn’t a matter of money flows or economics but rather politics maybe even reality. Belief systems. It has been said ‘greed is good’, right up to the time where it isn’t. Because money both matters and matters not at all.

      1. Procopius

        A point I’ve only seen raised in Jamie Galbraith’s The Predator State, if your currency is the global reserve currency, other nations must have a supply of it. That means they are all going to be selling us more than we buy from them. If we want to maintain our position as provider of the world’s reserve currency, we must have a way of providing them with dollars so they continue to buy from us. That means that if we want to end our trade deficit, we must end our status as the world’s reserve currency. It’s just like the story of money. A government cannot collect taxes in money unless they first spend money so the populace has money to pay taxes with. OT George W. Goodman, writing as Adam Smith, in Paper Money, mentions that Eurodollars were invented by a bureaucrat in the Soviet Union.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Come, come, come. It was just in today’s Links how the Naval Institute was talking about commissioning honest-to-god pirates to attack Chinese shipping. So now Graham wants to keep that $1.3 trillion of debt and that is a surprise? Can you imagine the whoosh of money fleeing the US if that happened? US dollars would be worth what then overseas?

    4. griffen

      The stupid – how it burns ! How does canceling debt not become a “quasi default” on the good faith credit of the US govt ?

      We need answers Senator, and this ain’t it. Horrid.

    5. Tyronius

      Well, you have to hand it to him; he’s good at stirring up conflict to create fertile ground for starting a war.

      Not a skill I’d be proud of.

  2. Synoia

    Super Pigs

    Orwell’s 1984 now looks line a guide book, not warming.

    Animal Farm placed the Pigs at the top of the totem pole. Another allegory which is turning out to be more truth than fiction with Super Pigs.

    Which raises the Question:

    Where did Orwell Hide his time machine?

      1. carl

        I got my own version of farm aid: buy directly from the farmer. Farmers markets here are still open, and I have personal connections with several local producers. As a bonus, it’s way more sanitary than crowding up at Costco.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Here, at least, the Farmer’s Market is extremely crowded. Or was – I haven’t been yet this year.

      2. John

        So where did the 40 billion taxpayer dollars Trump gave them to buy their votes go?

        Never mind. I know the answer to that.

        It went to the corporate welfare farmers.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      I think Make Orwell Fiction Again has been a WC topic candidate for at least a few months now.

  3. Carey

    Kunstler’s pretty good today:

    “In the corkscrewing anguish of the social sequester, with careers, savings, futures, and dreams whirling down the drain, voices rise above the din of conflicting statistics to ask: what is going on here? To some, it looks like a deliberate attempt to demolish what’s left of the economy for political advantage. Clouds of suspicion gather over the two medical superstars of the Daily Briefing show, Doctors Fauci and Birx, as they somewhat sheepishly revise their numbers for contagion and death downward and attempt to “balance” the formula of modeled projections versus mitigation efforts. Was the stay-at-home panic necessary, after all? Will it save the day or kill off modern life as we knew it?

    Well, everyplace else in the world was shutting down, weren’t they? Did they all go off their rockers, too? At least a hundred doctors died in Italy heroically tending the stricken, so they say. South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore opted for flat-out medical Gestapo action. Britain, Spain, France, and Germany about the same, but minus testing at the grand scale and tracing of contacts. Honestly, how is it possible the whole planet punked itself?

    I certainly don’t know the answer to all this, though readers are twanging on me to declare the whole Covid-19 story “a hoax,” which I’m not ready to do. I do know this: America has become utterly intolerant of uncertainty. And in the absence of certainty, that age-old human cognitive skill called pattern recognition, which has made us such a successful species, kicks into high gear scanning the field-of-view for answers. Any string-of-dots that affords even the slimmest plausibility goes on the table for review, including a lot of stories tagged as “conspiracy theories.”

    I know this, too: the financial side of the gasping global economy was running off the rails well before Covid-19 flew out of its bat-cave into somebody’s soup bowl… or out of China’s Wuhan virus lab, if that’s how you like it… or before it seeped out of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s ark of world-saving secrets. In the USA and Europe, finance had come to mostly eclipse every other human endeavor of wealth production ­– with the catch that finance actually didn’t produce any real wealth, it only winkled and swindled wealth (or the mere ghosts of wealth) with its asset-stripping magic, from the places where wealth once did truly dwell. Or else it ginned up abstruse rackets that attempted to replace the utility of money with sheer math. Or, when all else failed, it just resorted to plain old accounting fraud… until, finally, there was so much there not actually there, that the whole holographic fantasy flickered out

    The pre-Easter bear market rally on Wall Street has been a wonder, don’t you think? As the numbers of able-bodied people out-of-work rocketed up past ten million during the same period, the stock indexes shot up three, five, six percent a day? Say, what? You’re telling me that’s based on the prospect of magnificent earnings in the third quarter? With every business on God’s green earth writhing in the dust like squashed bugs? And every supply line for basic goods and the gazillion spare parts for everything… all choked off?..”


    1. Monty

      At “The bottom”, the day before the bailout was signed, you could have bought every share, in every company traded on US exchanges for ~$20t. The next day .gov announced it had conjured up $6t, or about 33% of the market capitalization of US businesses, and was going to dole it out indiscriminately among favored cronies, whilst letting everyone know there was plenty more where that came from. The Fed was talking about “Unlimited Q.E.”, buying corporate and municipal debt. Out and out helicopter money for the 1%. Is it any wonder it went up? If .gov will tend the Ponzi, you might as well hold your nose and buy into it. Ride the escalator from lower left to upper right.

    2. DJG

      As I read this, I realize that Kunstler, like so many other Americans, doesn’t understand cause and effect. But he can cuss up a storm.

      Does Kunstler think that Italians were just putting on another good show? La Traviata on a grand scale with coronavirus instead of tuberculosis? Does he think that the Chinese in Wuhan and Hubei overreacted to a virus with no treatment and no vaccine? And the Taiwanese, mobilizing the whole country just for laughs? Really?

      The jump to finance in the excerpt is awkward. The virus is a pretext. It isn’t the cause. Every time there is a crisis, as Naomi Klein keeps pointing out, the elites loot and pillage. This went on in Greece before and after Greece was occupied by the Troika. This was going on in France up until the virus struck there, as Macron tried to “reform” the French economy.

      The virus is a natural phenomenon. Any who thinks that it was cooked up in a lab is daft. But the unchecked predatory behavior of the Western elites, in particular, is something that led those people to exploit the situation. That is the culture we live in. Just as so many religious nutters want to crowd the churches this Sunday to praise the Lord (and fill those collection plates), our financial servants must worship their lord, Money as Moloch.

      The Republicans ran a kind of coup and sucked the life further out of the public fisc and the flimsy U.S. social safety net. Meanwhile, the DNC staged a coup and took advantage of Bernie Sanders, the chaos, and Sanders’s good sense that voting can’t continue in a pandemic.

      I am enjoying, too, the good-thinkers telling us that revising the numbers of dead from several hundred thousand to a few hundred thousand is some failure. Meanwhile, have you seen the pictures of the mass graves being prepared in NYC?

      1. anon in so cal

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but my take on this is that one of the main reasons why the actual numbers are somewhat lower than the original projections is because of implementing social distancing (now called physical distancing). And, if that distancing is relaxed, the numbers will shoot right back up.

        1. Bsoder

          Until there is a vaccine which is looking more remote, with regard to time (based on conservations with NIH staff), the reality is that this currently, right now, is a problem not of if but when. Everyone who can get sick will. Depending on access to medical care and a person’s genetics if they are likely to die once exposed to the virus they will. Social distancing delays it all but eliminates none of it. Maybe there are some drugs out there that will help, who knows. I guess we will know soon enough.

              1. curious euro

                Since no country on earth with maybe the exception of Iceland (only 300k people) can do or does a comprehensive testing, no one really knows what the infection rate is in almost every country.

                Secondly only some deaths are actually counted as CoVid-19 caused when we know that it’s a lot more. See the numbers of the worst hit italian province of Bergamo: 900 deaths in a normal month of march. 5400 deaths over all this year, only 2060 of those officially listed as CoVid-19 deaths. Why did the other 2460 die? Alien Invasion? It’s a less pronounced statistic in other places, but usually still there.

                Due to the overload of healthcare systems, laboratories, coroners, crematories, cemeteries and of course the strong incentive for governments to downplay the situation to not cause panics, see the toiletpaper fiasco, supermarket runs instead of bank runs, there are few metrics you can look at to get a good picture as a person on the street.
                Excess deaths is probably the best one since it’s least fudgable by various authorities. The problem with this number is, it’s imprecise. Only really works if the differences are very large like in Bergamo above.

                In the end we all need to go through the infection. The only way to avoid probably involves going into the Rockies or Siberia as a hermit. However the chances of survival go way up if you have access to a good, non overloaded healthcare system. So all the quarantining measures are still needed unfortunately.

            1. Irrational

              Infection rate per million population is actually pretty similar in Norway, Denmark and Sweden (assuming they measure the same thing!), but Norway has the lowest rate of deaths (21 per million), Denmark about double that and Sweden double that again (again assuming they measure the same thing).

      2. Bsoder

        Kunstler, whom I’ve known, (been to his lectures, talked to), used to be sane, but these days, writes with no internal consistency and logic. He tends to veer into subjects he knows nothing about and constantly makes me wonder if he believes what he writes or if it’s about the money. He also seems stuck in a hate loop regarding liberals. I’ll badly for him and wish he’d stop.

        1. vegeholic

          I discovered JHK in “the geography of nowhere” and later in “the long emergency”. His early blogs were masterpieces of wit, perception, and skewering of the misguided, especially related to the follies of urban planning, zoning, transportation, and suburbia. He began veering into questionable territory when he started ranting about young people having too many tattoos. I have not paid attention to him for a long time now.

          1. Yet Another Chris

            vegeholic – I’m in near-complete agreement. The Geography of Nowhere is among the best books I own. That said, Kunstler has always traveled by his own lights and they sometimes lead him well astray. His disdain for tattoos and urban patois marks him out as a stuffy bourgeois scold. I won’t call him a white supremacist but he definitely knows the forks.

      3. Carey

        “New York City officials are starting to lay contingency plans if deaths from the coronavirus outbreak begin to overwhelm the capacity of morgues: temporarily burying the dead on public land.

        Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday that the city would consider temporary burials if the deaths from the coronavirus outbreak exceed the space available in city and hospital morgues, but it had not reached that point..”



    3. MLTPB

      He first writes the numbers are lower, then he says nations around the world have been in crisis responding mode, then he states he doesn’t know the answers.

      If he is like many of us, we can blame it on the fog of pandemic war.

      Note, with all the Nobel prize winners, chess grand masters, etc, with us today, social distancing, our current best tool, was likely first practiced before the birth of Sunzi.

    4. Billy

      “To some, it looks like a deliberate attempt to demolish what’s left of the economy for political advantage.”
      Well if groping, Russiagate and impeachment didn’t work for the Democrats, why not trash everything for your major donors, while pretending to be for the average American.

      America is Committing Economic Suicide
      The American Economy Is About to Die From Coronavirus — Because Nobody Saved It
      umair haque
      “The 1200 checks, and small business bailouts, are ONE WEEK’S worth of expenses. The Trillions lent and leveraged to the billionaires will buy up America and make these young people slaves.”

      1. Carey

        So far, an economic reset benefiting only the few, under the cover of the Dreaded Pathogen, is looking like a good fit to me.


      2. Bill Carson

        And those checks aren’t arriving fast enough. Heck, the economy will be reopened before the checks arrive. I wonder how they’ll deliver them when the USPS collapses. “The check is in the mail.”

    5. John

      I couldn’t believe it as I watched Kunstler turn into a TrumpTard.

      Really couldn’t. Now if I read his column, I’m know what he is and I’m prepared for a FOX LIES crazy Trump MAGA rant but with better writing. God.

  4. zagonostra

    >Purity Tests, Perfect being the Enemy of the Good, “nuance” i.e., Hypocrisy

    From Politico on Cenk Uygur’s fight against his workers unionizing

    “I’ve never said that a union is perfect under any circumstances and I’ve never said that a union is bad under all circumstances. I think they’re very very good under most circumstances,” Uygur said in an interview Friday morning. “And if the right wing or even now some of the left wing can’t do nuance and they think, ‘No, the world is black and white and a union is either perfect in every circumstance or a disaster in every circumstance,’ then honestly, they’re idiots and totally wrong, and that should be obvious [to] any rational human being.”


    1. The Rev Kev

      After reading this, I am surprised that he did not claim that it was a Russian-inspired attack against him as well as he has really drunk the kool aid on that one. So I guess that it is socialism for thee but not for me. It looks like 2020 is the year that a lot of masks are falling down.

  5. Carolinian

    Re Sanders–this piece from today’s Counterpunch–and by one of Lambert’s fellow Mainers–says that Bernie has betrayed his supporters by dropping out now. Among the reasons: should Biden not improbably conk out then Bernie still had a shot, and by hanging in until the convention, if there is one, he could maintain the prominence of “his” ideas (the article says most of them came from other people).


    Since I was for Tulsi and not Bernie I don’t feel betrayed but I wonder if those who felt betrayed by Tulsi (while not voting for her) now feel betrayed by Bernie. After all, as was said about Tulsi, he could have dropped out without endorsing anyone.

      1. ChrisPacific

        I didn’t get the Biden endorsement from her at all. It felt like capitulation, which seemed silly given that she’d already burned all her bridges and the Democrat establishment were never going to stop trying to destroy her (if she wasn’t there already, publicly calling out the Dowager Empress as the warmonger she is was surely the point of no return).

        I was by no means a fan of all of her policy positions, but she was one of the few options available for a vote against America’s War On The World, for anybody that felt that was the most important issue of our time. She can’t possibly think that Biden will align with her views on that one.

        1. molonlabe

          They both cared about themselves more than their programs. Wonder what they will do with their donor lists? Give them to the DNC? Otherwise monetize them?

          1. Carey

            >They both cared about themselves more than their programs.

            In the sense of caring about their continued well-being, I’d agree.
            Guessing Gabbard and Sanders both got the tap on the shoulder,
            then the gentle but firm speech (assuming for the moment that
            Gabbard was legit).

        2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Tulsi was pissed that Bernie didn’t want her endorsement so she endorsed Biden out of spite.

          That’s my 2 cents.

      2. Carolinian

        Not knowing the woman I wouldn’t even begin to pretend to know what Tulsi stands for other than the policies she talked about. But I do think she represents the sort of charismatic politician that the left needs. I also doubt that she cares very much whether Joe Biden likes her.

        Stoller did what I won’t and put on his five cent psychologist hat re Bernie. Perhaps at the end of the day we overthink all of this and it’s a lot closer to warfare between high school cliques than we’d care to admit. Hillary of course would be the mean girl who holds “bye bye Bernard” meetings and Obama the big man on campus with his wingman Joe. Sanders doesn’t seem to have been fully willing to defy the cool kids. He does care whether Joe Biden likes him and lets Obama talk him into dropping out.

        But it is true you go to war with the politicians you have. Lefties may need a bigger talent pool.

      3. The Rev Kev

        Tulsi wanted to endorse Bernie. And apparently Bernie did not return her calls as he did not want to be endorsed by her. Since it became obvious that Bernie would endorse Joe, that would leave her swinging in the wind as the last person not to do so. I guess that that is why she ended up endorsing Joe.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Jimmy Dore interview with Tulsi Gabbard about three weeks ago. He asked her twice, point-blank, if that was happened and she refused to answer the question altogether. As Jimmy talks to people inside Bernie’s campaign, I am calling it that that was what happened-


              1. The Rev Kev

                Well it’s not like she was going to get a chance to state her case if she went onto another program like ‘The View’, was it. Look at what happened to Bernie the last time he went on there.

        1. Bill Carson

          Bernie didn’t return Steyer’s calls, either. I think he missed some opportunities.

          I felt like Bernie turned into a one-trick pony. Maybe he was always a one-trick pony. He didn’t seem to have the personality this year that he seemed to have in ’16. I can see why some on the left, especially women, felt like he was screaming at them all the time.

    1. Geo

      1. The DNC decided it would force voters to risk death instead of delaying the vote. Sanders didn’t want to continue perpetuating this death pact.

      2. The party wasn’t going to let him win even when he was decisively in the lead. They openly talked about brokered conventions and any way to take the nomination from him. It was clear his route to the nomination was gone barring every member of the DNC and their minions falling victim to the virus.

      3. He promised to endorse and work to elect the eventual nominee. He kept that promise. Like it or not, he keeps his word.

      Not sure where anyone got the idea that Bernie was a shrewd and cutthroat political savant. It would be wonderful to have someone with Bernie’s policies but Hillary’s cutthroat politics and Obama’s persona. That would be a dream candidate. But, that’s not who Bernie ever was. He is a very decent man with strong values and a passion for what he does. He’s not a cutthroat political predator or a suave gladhander. That voters fall for showmanship over policies they want is depressing but obviously true considering the type of politicians we have in this country.

      If voters weren’t swayed by charlatans then Tulsi, Sanders, and others like them would be leading the nation instead of having to grovel to Biden and the DNC to retain some relevancy and not be smeared as Putin puppets and Nader-spoilers from now until the sun explodes.

      TLDR: I’m not mad at Bernie for being Bernie, I’m mad at Americans for year-after-year electing the hundreds of charlatans and psychopaths that run our nation. Bernie is a rare exception that somehow almost made it to the top. The brief time I felt we had promise as a nation felt nice. Now, back to reality.

      1. Cuibono

        Thank you for this. I think it is spot on. I get that many of us feel angry at him: we saw decency and intelligence that we so badly need and that we so wanted others to see. Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of Americans is pretty damn true IMO.

        1. Procopius

          To me, the people who wanted Bernie to be a ruthless cutthroat and are angry because he wasn’t are delusional. Bernie is Bernie, which is why so many people support him and his ideas. If you want a ruthless cutthroat, you want a Huey Long, and I don’t think I can go there.

          1. paintedjaguar

            I don’t want a “ruthless cutthroat”. I only ever wanted one thing from Bernie: to stand up and tell the truth – and that means naming names and discussing real issues like email servers and lies told in public, not just vague generalities about “billionaires”. He chose not to go that route. Yes, I’m angry.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Sanders is still on the ballot, having only “suspended” his campaign, and he is explicitly asking people to use mail in ballots to vote for him in his online events. So if the main argument is that Sanders can’t take advantage of Biden conking out, that’s drivel.

  6. Bob

    A more detailed graph of the Mid Atlantic electrical demand would be helpful.

    An off hand guess is the spike is a metering/measurement anomaly.
    Or perhaps electricity is being wheeled out of the region.

    Here’s why –

    1) Although the graph detail is lacking it appears that the spike happened in the late evening / early morning hours. This is unusual in that the usual demand profile is for demand to diminish as the day time operations reduce.
    2) Note that April is considered one of the shoulder months – that is the period in which there is a dip in demand as the winter weather transitions to summer. Generally these months have lower demand
    3) The spike is about 3 times the base load. This is difficult to explain due to increase in electrical use in the region.
    4) The spike profile is very short. Again details are lacking but it appears to be just 2-3 hours in length.
    5) Perhaps this is the result of “Wheeling” capacity to other regions. However this is unlikely due to season and time of day.
    6) Since the shoulder months are often used for scheduled power plant maintenance (periods of low demand) wheeling may be a possibility.

    1. Clive

      Yes, you’re absolutely right, we need better data than that which we have available. But we can work with what we do have :-)

      My money is on a dumb algo or unintentional correlation in notionally independent demand response energy management companies that in a (otherwise trivial) shortfall ended up magnifying the routine and manageable temporary lack of generational capacity. It might be the grid equivalent of a “flash crash”.

      Theory and more detailed analysis here https://arxiv.org/pdf/1703.01195.pdf

      1. Bob

        I think not –

        Here’s why,

        Looking a the graph of demand and assuming that the actual demand the spike is about 300% of the average load this would mean that demand response can affect 300% of expected demand.

        While there are almost certainly gremlins in the demand response system, it is doubtful that demand response can affect 300% of average load.
        In any case the demand response makes its impact in trimming high cost electricity during peak demand periods. April is historically considered a shoulder month with low demand.

        What the demand response boys are going after are the periods when the cost of electricity is high -think summer months on a hot day with high cooling load.

        1. Clive

          Yes, that bothered me about my theory too. Shoulder months are — or should be — poor candidates for demand response to be doing anything in particular as there is, as you say, stacks of capacity available so even if demand response systems has acted to shed what had become expensive loads, when prices fell back, the grid should easily be capable of lopping the newly-presented demand. Even notoriously fierce peak-ey profiles like late afternoon A/C demand.

          I believe it’s already getting a bit hot in the south so that, in combination with planned plant outages might make for unexpectedly tight supply. But 300%? That does seem implausible. I’m wondering if it might be battery storage set up on energy management systems (which may have suddenly dumped a few GW of demand onto the grid at short notice) that could have been the culprits? But still, 300%?

          Maybe there was a cascade failure of a series of transforming or switching stations? But that would have skewed demand downwards… unless it was only a few seconds or minutes then you got the hideous starting current loads of all those motors, compressors, heat strips and what have you hitting the grid and presenting a short, sharp and very transient spike?

          I hope we get to find out sometime for sure. These things always have valuable and interesting lessons to teach us, if we are able to get the truth of the matter…

      2. Watt4Bob

        My money is on blow-back, not really, but a thought…

        USA and Israel concocted the Stuxnet worm to attack Iran’s nuclear program, our enemies have re-purposed the technology and have reportedly been probing our grid.

        It could be a shot across our bow.

        Keep in mind how these attacks work, find an industrial control system, infect it with code that feeds it bogus input and watch as helpless engineers go nuts trying to troubleshoot using dashboards that portray false conditions.

        A transcient spike is one thing, it startles the operators, but when it disappears everyone shakes their heads and goes back to work, a sustained attack with ever increasing uncertainty is another matter entirely.

  7. L

    To be fair to Biden the Kremlinoligists over at NYMag claim he is trying to do more How Biden Is Trying to Win Over Bernie’s Supporters. This effort includes phone calls with Obama! Whom the unnamed sources tell us Bernie “takes his word very seriously”.

    Whether this supposed back-channel jawboning and staff-poaching will actually lead to substantive changes or stick with this slap in the face is another story.

    I’m not holding my breath.

    1. marku52

      I’m sure that Larry Summers is waiting for a call….

      I’m so excited, I can’t wait to vote…..

      For the Reanimated Corpse of Idi Amin…Be better than these 2 clowns.

      1. flora

        Here I was thinking Larry would be best placed at CalPERS to replace Ben Meng. /massive snark. ;)

    2. Geo

      I imagine he takes phone calls from Obama’s seriously in the same way someone whose business just got overtaken by the mob takes a phone call from “The Don” very seriously.

      O: “Hey, Bernie. You see how we all came together like a family to put you in your place? How about you play along now and maybe the family will let you keep peddling your ideas to the rubes. That sound nice?”

      Bernie: “Can we discuss concessions?”

      O: “Here’s a concession: You fall in line or we’ll bury you so deep you’ll be lucky to take Kucinich’s place as an occasional punching bag on Fox News. You saw what we did to Tulsi. She learned her lesson. Now it’s your turn.”

  8. fresno dan

    ‘Super Pigs’ Weighing 600 Pounds Wreak Havoc Across Canada — And Build ‘Pigloos’ To Survive The Winter” [Alll That’s Interesting (DK)

    4 legs good, 2 legs bad
    I, for one, welcome our porcine overlords…and I attest that I have never, ever eaten spam or bacon…

  9. Laughingsong

    “Biden rolls out new policies in effort to court Sanders supporters“

    Answer: ya can’t, there is no trust. Don’t even try, Joe, you’ll just hurt yourself, considering the yogic contortions you’d have to perform, and yer no spring chameleon anymore.

    1. L

      No, at this point Biden’s only reliable base is people who (1) love Obama; (2) see Biden as the heir to Obama (not everyone does); (3) Fear Socialism and have been trained by Rachel Maddow to hate Bernie Sanders (meaning they also liked Clinton); and (4) Hate Trump more than they hated the Iraq War or the Wall Street Bailout or the fact that student debt is so high, or …

      So basically a middle-aged well-to-do lawyer in a suburb in a solidly blue state, but not California because Sanders won there. Or a 60+ year old who does what the DNC says.

      Not a big tent.

        1. Rod

          not on topic but anecdote:
          In the cold war( hot war also) us army those were called shelter halves–because you had one half and a pole–your battle buddy had the other half and pole–snapped together at peak and staked in. Critical of course was the drainage trench(diggings laid carefully around the bottom tent edge to seal) carefully crafted using the trusty M-1956

    2. Big River Bandido

      If they truly want to win the White House, Biden’s handlers will have to do what Bernie’s volunteers did. Build their own network of support.

      Not gonna happen.

  10. dcblogger

    serious question, why ARE markets going up? is it because they are convinced the future bailouts will come? presumably they spent all the $ from the last bailout, so what is propping them up? No houses are being sold, rent collection is down by at least 1/3, and except for certain consumer goods, nothing is being sold. I can’t imagine any major IT installations are being done. So other than Amazon and a few online retailers, nobody is making any money. Why are markets up?

    1. JTMcPhee

      You answered your own question. Hey, it’s a feature of cancer that it can trick the sufferer/s body into growing large new arteries that feed blood and hence energy and nutrients to the tumor — called angiogenesis. Basically hijack the body’s ‘economy” to direct all the stuff of life to feed the growth of the tumor that eventually kills the sufferer. That, plus cancer cells figure out how to trick the body’s normal immune system functions. In all of us healthy people identify the many aberrant cells we develop every day usually are identified, marked, phagocytosed, broken up, and their constituents returned to the Krebs cycle for productive homeostasis. Tumor cells trick the immune function into thinking that they are “just folks,” and so escape that regulatory function.

      So the Fed “opened the facilities” which are huge-bore arteries draining the wealth of the nation directly into the tumors of FIRE.

      The parallels are at least interesting.

      1. notabanker

        Very interesting analogy, and imo, spot on. I think the US is in much dire shape than is being acknowledged by Americans. The elections are a farce, the looted health care system has to fight a pandemic, the service economy is shut down and the dollar is being conjured up in incomprehensible amounts with virtually none of it is going directly to the citizenry. This is not going unnoticed by governments around the world nor their citizens.

        1. barefoot charley

          Not exactly apt, I think: what’s running the markets up is MMT for the rich, here and now. There is no pricing mechanism. The money boosting stock prices comes from nowhere (ie Fed keyboards), and puddles where stock (money) already is, with the rich. It isn’t sucked out of the rest of us yet, that comes later, when the phony protections against what happened last time don’t work again, and another 10 million families lose their houses for late payments, and another 10 million students lose their futures to debt bondage, and another 10 million motorists lose their cars. Fiat banking is a confidence game. Until there’s a more reassuring place for the rich and their keyboarders to park bets on safety *right now*, the con will continue. And when there is one, we’ll blow that damn place up. (Ask Khadafi. Oh, you can’t?)

          1. JTMcPhee

            I guess I did not clarify that the giant arteries are the Fed “facilities” are full-bore open, pumping money that could be put “into circulation” into the bloated pockets of the fat-cat rich. The drain-on-nutrients part is in my mind, the slow devastation of what I understand undergirds MMT money, the “Full Faith And Credit” of the US which is grounded in farms, stores, mines, forests and the other parts of the “real economy“ and from which this looting is completing the devastating extraction.

            1. fresno dan

              April 10, 2020 at 8:42 pm

              I think your analogy is spot on. Blood, full of nutrients and oxygen, as well as the desposal mechanism for carbon dioxide, is just like the lifeblood of the economy, i.e., money. When blood goes where it is needed, life ensues. Where there are white blood cells functioning properly, the “legal system” of the body, cancer is suppresed, but when the immune cells are deceived, life ends. I think your anology couldn’t be better.

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              > the slow devastation of what I understand undergirds MMT money, the “Full Faith And Credit” of the US

              If we are a failed state, then the much-derided “But Zimbabwe!” talking point might have more teeth than we think. Note that tax collection — not for revenue purposes, mind — has already been postponed, and that the mail, one of the main vehicles for IRS enforcement, is near collapse….

              Without the man with the gun at the door, money turns back into litter.

    2. Monty

      Everyone knows these markets are a confidence game cum Ponzi scheme. They can only survive on .gov largesse. When doubts about the integrity of the Ponzi arise, big money will engineer a big swoon to shake out weak hands, and see if the Fed still has their back. With the bailout and their pronouncements, the fed and .gov showed they do have the 1%ers back. They are prepared to maintain the house of cards by any means necessary, and as we all know, they have infinite ammo for this task.

      1. JTMcPhee

        We may find out that the supply chains that form the logistics base for that supposed infinite ammo are in fact fragile and do not have the wherewithal in labor or monetizables or extractables and dumps for externalities, any more, to generate the national real wealth that undergirds the ‘full faith and credit” that MMT money emanates from…

        1. Carey

          Yes, what good is keystroke-money without real goods and services, made
          by humans in a functioning economy, backing it? (Assuming I understand
          JTM’s comment).

      2. deplorado

        Without buybacks, how could it continue? Will the Fed then have to start buying stocks, openly like SNB and BoJ, or covertly via their vehicles?

        1. Monty

          What is to stop them buying, if that’s what it takes? Swiss Central Bank is a big buyer of stocks, and nobody minds.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Know the myth of the Ourobouros? https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouroboros

            That’s NOT what this circularity of money only rotating through the Fed and the looters.

            What you are saying I guess reflects the reality that stocks are in no way what they were constituted as, risky ownership of a portion of a corporation that made stuff and employed people.

    3. hamstak

      I think you are right that part of it is the expectation of further back-stopping. Other contributing factors might be the expectation of wage reductions for a crushed labor market, the possibility of some public companies buying distressed business assets on the cheap, and simply the optimism bias.

      One thing to keep in mind is that volume may be low (not a lot of participants and/or relatively few trades being made, and the gains may favor certain firms — such as maybe the gains are entirely in the banking sector or what have you.

  11. Shonde

    An article in today’s Mpls. Star Tribune said the Mayo Clinic was cutting pay for 20,000 plus.

    A pleasant surprise for all here at Water Cooler:
    “We are protecting hourly wage employees,” he said. “They tend to be our lower-earning individuals, and the hardship would be much more significant.”

    I hope I am remembering correctly but I believe Mayo Clinic’s CEO is a doctor, not an MBA.


    1. Carolinian

      An article in my morning paper said the local hospital conglomerate would be laying people off because the virus was causing a huge drop off in elective surgeries, testing, the ER–all the things that make up their cash cow, er, revenue source. And schadenfreude aside that’s not necessarily a good thing because in NYC it is said that many are not going to the hospital with chest pains etc that should be looked at. The hospital ship that was brought in for non virus cases is largely empty.

      1. montanamaven

        I had an old friend die last Friday in NYC. We don’t know what happened as she lived alone. Sounds like a heart attack from the 911 report. No autopsies, so….
        She was an off Broadway theater lighting designer and then started “Eat Quest”, a restaurant recommendation service which, of course, went bust with the Covid-19 scourge. She was worried about rent. Probably caused her heart to break.
        She was a character! Our cruise director. One year when one of us had a birthday, she organized a theme birthday. For the theater director, Norman Rene who died of AIDS, she organized “NY; Down and Dirty. We started out at some lower Manhattan dive bar like the Raccoon Lodge or something. Then we went bowling. This is in the 1980s when there was only one bowling alley which was pretty seedy. Can’t remember the third stop. For our friend Brad who also died of AIDS, she organized “Manhattan at Your Feet.” Drinks at the Chrysler Building; Then dinner at that Indian Restaurant on Central Park South that overlooked Central Park. Then dessert at “Windows on the World”. We were all struggling theater types, one young architect and a civil rights lawyer. So not a lot of money. But she sure could organize fun. Sigh. Had a bunch of friends die of viruses now. But this one is crazy random.
        No funerals so I thought I’d speak of her wherever I could.

        1. judy2shoes

          Thank you for speaking of her. I’m glad I got to read about her, and I wish I’d known her, too.

          Lots of little lights going out all around us..

        2. Savedbyirony

          Beautiful tribute. Sounds like she was a wonderful person and lucky to have had you as a friend.

        3. Carolinian

          So sorry. If she was in fact a victim of the lockdown that’s something to be thought about. There’s going to be a lot of collateral damage.

          There was an RT story here the other day about people telling paramedics whatever you do don’t take me to the hospital. Even in the best of times they can be dangerous.

        4. Stillfeelinthebern

          montanamaven so very sorry to hear about your friend’s death. Thank you for sharing the great memories. It was wonderful to hear of your fun adventures. It is so sad to lose our friends.

        5. PlutoniumKun

          Thats a lovely tribute, its people like your friend who add much needed spice and adventure to everyones life.

        6. DJG

          Thanks, montanamaven.

          And I agree with your observation of friends dying of viruses. The current crisis is reminiscent of the first days of AIDs, when people would go into the hospital on a Friday with something wrong with their lungs and die on Sunday. And I agree that the problem with coronavirus is its current semblance to something random.

          Maybe it was too much reminder of the past for her, with more impending years of heartache to come.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        “Elective surgeries”–two words that should never be used together IMHO. Please cut my body open and let me pay you the big bucks to do it.

    2. JTMcPhee

      “ Samuel A. DiPiazza, Jr., retired CEO of PricewaterhouseCoopers, is chairman of Mayo Clinic’s governing board of trustees.[55] [His degree is a Masters in Accountancy.]” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayo_Clinic

      And by the way, “In September 2019, Mayo Clinic entered into a strategic partner with Google for health care innovation and cloud computing and Google planned to open its facility in Rochester, Minnesota for Mayo Clinic[.” Ibid.

      There’s a Mayo Clinic operation in FL, I have thought of seeking their services, but an initial inquiry put me on their marketing radar and now I get sheafs of ads for this and that “health product” or service.

      1. Watt4Bob

        It’s quite dispiriting to witness the ‘evolution’ at the Mayo Clinic.

        When I was young I lived in Rochester, the clinic was our family doctor.

        Back then, the first visit to clinic was to the business office where your economic welfare was assessed.
        Our family had seven children, and a rather low income, so the clinic said our monthly responsibility was $10!

        Seven kids, our account grew faster than $10/month!

        As long as we paid our $10 dollars all was well, but if the check didn’t get there on time, they’d call…

        The Mayo Clinic was socialized medicine before anyone knew what socialized medicine meant.

        It appears that they’ve gone over to the other side.

        Too bad.

        1. Carolinian

          Ken Burns did a PBS documentary about it that was interesting but rather promotional. It was clear that for all the charity care the place is very big business these days.

        2. sleepy

          My son has a genetic disease and mayo was his hospital until 2 years ago when they quit taking Iowa medicaid (we live 80 miles away in iowa). We now have to go to the university of Iowa @ 175 miles one way.

  12. Lobsterman

    One of the results we’ve gotten is that a sizeable percentage of white working-class Dems weren’t voting for Sanders (though they found him acceptable), they were voting against HRC. They HATED her. She was uniquely loathed. Biden will clean up with them, and Sanders would have done fine with them in the general.

    1. a different chris

      Exactly my take.

      You cannot treat the estimable (/s) Ms Clinton as just another candidate. She warps everything she gets near.

    2. albrt

      I think this is probably the best take on why Sanders could not reach critical mass this time around.

      Whether Biden can take advantage is a different question, once the Trump campaign starts pointing out what a doddering old fool Biden actually is.

      Joe Biden was stupid, corrupt, and had bad judgment even before the dementia started getting so noticeable. That is easy to caricature with nicknames, tweets, debate one-liners, etc. Right in Trump’s wheelhouse.

      1. barefoot charley

        On Lambert’s query about Bernie losing the Mississippi valley of Iowa to that squirt from South Bend, the answer’s above: 50 years ago its river cities were the core of Iowa’s working class, making everything from John Deere tractors to Burlington pens. You’d hope their lives rusting out might make them think different, but not yet. So they’re Biden’s kind of marks.

    3. John k

      I think you’re right.
      But Clinton still influences msm and dnc, and they all still blame Bernie, so there was no change in their treatment of Bernie from one cycle to the next. Of course, this in part bc their donors have not changed, either.

  13. Lee

    Savage Inequality

    What these New York EMTs are seeing as they respond to COVID-19 cases PBS Newshour

    Interview with two NYC Emergency Medical Technicians. From the transcript:

    William Brangham:

    On top of the stresses of the job, of worrying whether they themselves might get sick, many EMTs also have to work for low pay and few benefits.

    Adam Bliden:

    The average salary for an EMT in New York state, doing what we’re doing through all of this, is about $37,000 a year.

    William Brangham:


    Adam Bliden:


    Right now, both Pearse and I, everyone who’s doing what we’re doing, we’re juggling, usually, it’s two or three jobs just to keep working, so we can pay our bills.

    We do this because we love it. Everyone knows there’s no money in it. But, right now, I’m doing all of this with no health insurance.

    William Brangham:

    No health insurance?

    Adam Bliden:

    No health insurance.

    William Brangham:

    How — how is that possible…

    Adam Bliden:


    William Brangham:

    … it doesn’t come through the job?

    Adam Bliden:

    The job doesn’t offer it. And our affordable marketplaces aren’t very affordable.

    [Emphasis added]

    1. richard

      Okay, that’s the sickest thing I’ve read all day. Granted, I’ve just now started browsing the news today, but that one will be tough to beat.
      (recites the names like arya stark, knits)

        1. richard

          i dunno, that’s the meme somebody made up yesterday
          wait, what’s a meme again?
          anyway, we knit and say names and plot
          that’s the thing now

      1. Rod

        and soon to become anecdotal cocktail conversation for the clueless class–” OMG I can’t even imagine…”)

  14. flora

    re: Sanders (D)(3): I tihnk this is the first insider coming forward:

    Sanders former advisor Chuck Rocha:

    I listened to the first half of the interview but had to stop, couldn’t listen to the rest of it. To that point in the interview, Rocha explained , imo, his opinion about how well he and his team and he did in mobilizing the Latino or Hispanic vote and increasing their turnout. He did. He painting himself and his work in the campaign as a success there. As he kept going on about that slice of the electorate, however, I got the unexpected thought that he was pitching his idpol wrangling services to the DNC for future work. ( Probably just my take. ) He did say there wasn’t enough time to organize in other states for Super Tuesday, and besides, the polls showed Sanders far ahead in all the states (shades of Hills in 2016) , and so that plus the whole Dem estab suddenly getting their act together was part of the problem. (imo, a competent campaign would have seen that possibility and gamed out that ‘what if’ ahead of time. It’s no secret the DNC plays dirty. See the 2016 emails and voter lawsuit.)

    1. flora

      adding as an aside: Rocha made a lot of video tweets talkng about part of their plans to mobilize ignored voters and get them to the polls. He did this before voting started in a lot of states. He signaled his game plan well in advance and bragged it would surprise people. Then, after California, and he’s still bragging on the ground game plan, wonder-of-wonders, the Dem estab in states started closing polling places *on the morning or the primary* mostly in college student and low income neightborhoods. What a surprise.
      Lesson: don’t give away the game plan right before the primaries.

      You’ve been in a state quietly working for 1-2 years to register voters and encourage them to vote? You’ve done all this under the radar to mount a stealth surprise come primary day? Well, then, don’t start publicly, or Twitterly, bragging about that work and that plan before all the primaries are over. You thought there was no time for the DNC and state Dem estabs to mount a strong counter measure of voter suppression in areas most likely to vote Sanders? Mistake.

      Everyone was surprised Biden and the DNC pulled the entire party behind him? I guess they were surprised because the DNC and Biden campaign didn’t tweet out its game plan days and weeks ahead of time. Maybe that’s part of why Biden’s team successfully pulled it off.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Rocha was on The Rising, lots of kissy-face all around with him as a “friend of the show,” not so much cross-examination as one would have liked about why the SS Bernie hit that iceberg.

      And yes, he was talking his book and selling his vaunted ability to mobilize the people of Latino type and pretty much said that any competent campaign in the future would have to get people like him on board to rope in those people in “the community.” Bragging up 31 years of political organizing, evading the bit of questioning about what happened with Clyburn and the rest of the
      Super Tuesday putsch, why did he not as a senior campaign strategist, foresee and advise on how to conquer that effort? ‘There was too much stacked against Bernie’ (but look how good I — I mean he — did in NEvada and those other states…)

        1. Carey

          Thirded- was put off from the get-go by Rocha starting the piece with that
          big grin on his face: why? ‘His’ guy just bailed, why so happy?
          As with others above, I turned it off.

          TINA’s the message all around, IMO. We’ll have to do it ourselves (or not).

          1. Montnamaven

            Fourthed – shut if off. Then tried again and watched most of it. What a waste of time. Big ego about how awesome he is. All about messaging and tactics and little about passion for any issue. Ugh.

            1. judy2shoes

              >>little about passion for any issue

              Boom! Went right over my head, but you’ve just identified the even-more-important thing about Rocha that I missed but was causing part of my cognitive dissonance.

              Thank you!

          2. Carey

            Adding: getting the same vibe most everywhere: CYA, and hope for the best- Rocha’s interlocutors there being an example.

      1. chuck roast

        …hear him, hear him! I could only watch about one minute and twenty-five seconds of the Rising interview, and predictably, my bullshit-detector went hay-wire. Oh yeah…and I hate his bullshit hat!

    3. geoff

      Honestly, I’m kind of a fan of Rocha’s, but I did catch a whiff of talking his book during that Rising interview. That ‘not enough time to organize for Super Tuesday’ remark, if true, is damning for him and for the entire campaign. Super Tuesday is called “Super” for a reason! The Sanders campaign should have been looking forward to ST for at least six months. That they weren’t (IF they weren’t) means they were ALWAYS behind where they should have been and either did not have or properly use the necessary resources to always be preparing for the next elections.

      No one from the Sanders campaign that I have seen has talked about the open voter suppression in the primaries. Rocha (earlier in the cycle) was disappointed at the results in TX, his home state, but (again, from what I saw) did not mention the closing of polling stations in predominantly Latino districts. All the outreach in the world comes to nothing if your voters stand in line for hours without getting to vote.

      1. Carey

        >No one from the Sanders campaign that I have seen has talked about the open voter suppression [switching?] in the primaries.

        Thank you, thank you, thank you.


      2. judy2shoes

        >>That ‘not enough time to organize for Super Tuesday’ remark, if true, is damning for him and for the entire campaign.

        That struck (and shocked!) me, too. Does not make any sense coming from someone who claims to be three steps ahead of the other campaigns, with all kinds of not-so-secret plans (as Flora noted above) to snatch victory from the jaws of the DNC. My BS meter flew into the red zone.

        The disenfranchisement of all those voters should have been shouted from the rooftops over and over and over again.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > No one from the Sanders campaign that I have seen has talked about the open voter suppression in the primaries.

        I have seen many, many voter suppression anecdotes go by, but I have never seen them aggregated; a map would be best. Has anyone?

    4. Noone from Nowheresville

      Agree with you flora & JTMcPhee. Had not a clue, judy2shoes.

      I watched this yesterday. I had a lot of wait, what?!?!? that doesn’t make sense moments. Left with a nagging feeling. Very chaotic energy. Quite distracting. Had to stop and start a lot to get to the end. Will watch it again to figure out what’s bothering me.

      1. judy2shoes

        >>I watched this yesterday. I had a lot of wait, what?!?!? that doesn’t make sense moments. Left with a nagging feeling.

        That’s how I felt after watching his post-Super Tuesday interview on Rising, so I did a search on him and came up with the embezzlement problem.

        There’s something off, and I would not trust him as far as I could throw him.

    5. John k

      At the risk of copying Clinton… Bernie wasn’t failed by the seniors that already have Medicare and were never going to support him. He was failed by those that need it and didn’t get to the polls to express that need. His message wasn’t clear enough? He wasn’t on message long enough? Please. If those that need help with health, or Ed debt, or min wage can’t get to the polls once in four years, why should anyone expect Bernie to do more than he has done? Think about it… he’s been on this quest for five years.
      Yes, they stole some votes. This will be true or even worse next time, too. So what?
      To put this another way… when the next person comes along, whether third party or another dnc takeover attempt, why think the young will turn out in higher numbers? Yes, some of the seniors supporting biden will be gone… but there will be a new crop of new seniors that have Medicare. Why will they be more willing to share than today’s lot?

      1. Carey

        I think the electorate was readier and riper for Sanders’s message this year than in
        2016, and I don’t think it was Obama’s phone calls that did him in, because
        that’s a small-and-getting-smaller bit of the electorate. Hmm, what’s left?

        1. Bill Carson

          Admittedly I wasn’t involved with the campaign in ’16, but I did get involved this year here in Colorado. If anything, I was surprised that it didn’t seem better organized locally. Like, they only had a handful of staff and the Denver campaign office didn’t open until fairly shortly before the primary AND there was no campaign office in Colorado Springs. Sure, lots of volunteers, but where’s that $100 million going?

          1. The Rev Kev

            There was a hint in one of Jimmy Dore’s recent videos that a lot of money was being wasted on useless people in the campaign. I hope that does not mean consultants. Hillary’s fate should have warned him about the dangers there.

          2. paintedjaguar

            I don’t know that this is a fact, but I’ve heard that Dem candidates are required to use some DNC approved consultants as a condition of running in the Dem primary. Sort of like the promise to support the end nominee.

    6. Lambert Strether Post author

      > imo, a competent campaign would have seen that possibility and gamed out that ‘what if’ ahead of time. It’s no secret the DNC plays dirty

      I agree.

  15. ChetG

    I do wonder about such monarch studies: “A poor substitute for the real thing.”

    Apart from the small sample size (41 or 42 individuals in each of three groups: collected wild and two groups raised from eggs and then measured), what are these folks comparing:

    wild monarchs we tested were collected midway along the migratory journey (in northeast Georgia, in October) and had likely been migrating for at least one month already.

    So they were comparing monarchs well underway in their journey versus those shortly after becoming a monarch. Why didn’t they capture recent monarchs to compare to those raised? A month into the migration would mean those monarchs were already quite succesful.

    Furthermore, those raised from eggs

    were descendants of wild-caught monarchs captured within the last 12 months

    There are four generations of monarchs. From which generation did those eggs come from? (Note: The third generation during midsummer is a short-lived one that eat and reproduce.)

    Of course I have a bias, since last summer I raised and released 18 monarchs. And my home-bound project was writing about it over a series of pages at my website: Raising Monarchs

  16. zagonostra

    >Mandatory Masks

    I just received a “news update” voice mail from my local municipality (Wilton Manors, FL) notifying me of “emergency order 2020-4” that I need to wear a mask every time I venture outside of my home.

    At dusk we have been walking to a nearby park for an hour or so. When they closed the park down, we’ve been walking around the neighborhood. I have not been wearing a mask and everyone keeps their distance, moves to the opposite side of the road, and waves to each other. It’s usually the same bunch of folks who are walking their dogs or just getting exercise.

    I’m not going to stop walking so I guess I’ll break the law tonight until I can find where to buy some masks…if it gets to the point where I need to carry documentation that I’ve been vaccinated or some digital tattoo, I’m emigrating. Where?, I don’t know. I hope Elon and Bezo hurry up with those space shuttles…

    1. Zagonostra

      I just read the post below on ‘a doctor’s report from the front line’ and I feel the fool for bitching about having to wear a face mask. I will shut up now…

    2. Arizona Slim

      Here’s my problem with the mandatory mask orders:

      Why am I supposed to be responsible for buying one? Why can’t the government provide one for me?

      I seem to recall reading that in other countries, people are issued things like, oh, receivers to hear attack warnings. Israel offers something like that to its citizens. And Switzerland? It has a self-defense force, which includes the issuance of weaponry for every household.

      1. Carolinian

        The surgeon type masks that the CDC are recommending cost about ten cents each before the pandemic. They don’t use special materials and could easily be churned out here in the US by the millions. I agree that the government should be handing them out freely and stores too.

  17. anon in so cal

    A doctor’s report, from the front lines:

    “….Finally, the end of your shift comes, 8 hours made even longer and more endless by thirst, hunger, and the need to relieve yourself, things you cannot do when you’re on duty: drinking, eating, or going to the bathroom would mean taking off the protective equipment. Too risky. And too expensive. Protective equipment is precious, and taking it off means having to replace some of it, reducing the quantity available to your colleagues. You have to be thrifty, you have to resist and wear a diaper you hope you won’t have to use because your dignity and your psychological state are compromised enough as it is by the work you are doing, the look on the patients’ faces, the words of their relatives when you call them to update them on the condition of their loved ones. Some ask you to wish their father a happy name day, others to tell their mother they love her and to give her a caress…and you do what they ask, trying to hide from your colleagues the tears in your eyes.

    The end of the shift comes, reinforcements arrive, other colleagues take over. You give them instructions, the things to do, the things not to do. You can go home, but first you have to take off your protections, and you must be careful — careful with every move you make. Removing protective equipment is another ritual that must be performed calmly, because everything you are wearing is contaminated and must not come in contact with your skin.

    You are tired and you just want to get away, but you must make one last effort, concentrate on each movement you make to remove all the protections. Each movement has to be slow. You can finally take off the mask, and when you peel it off, you feel a searing pain from the bleeding cuts that it made in your nose. The tape was useless — it didn’t stop your nose from bleeding or hurting. But at least you’re free. You leave the undressing area naked, put on uniform scrubs, and go to the changing rooms….”


    1. The Rev Kev

      Yesterday I was reading an account by a nurse in Wuhan. She said that it was common to see a nurse in a corner sobbing to herself but when the call came, they would still get up and go help those patients. I think that we are going to see a lot of post-traumatic stress disorder among doctors and nurses as time goes by.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Most people take the caring professions for granted. They will offer that feckless “thank you for your service“ to some guy or gal who maybe got drafted in 1965 and spent 3 years in the Marines, two tours in Vietnam, or maybe was the guy who handed out the fishing rods at the Rod and Gun Club at Ft. Eustis, VA for a couple of years. Most of us, even those all into the “gratitude” thing, seem to have no real notion of gratitude to people who do real sacrifice as part of a calling they feel.

        On the other hand, you have the medical professionals who pull of huge Medicare and Medicaid frauds, get their MBAs and learn how to break down and buy up physicians’ practices as part of the Great Consolidation, and nurses who abuse patients and each other and/or are just in it for the paycheck.

        Humans, My word.

  18. Carey

    San Luis Obispo County CA coronavirus statistics:

    As of 4/10/20 at 12:30 pm:

    107 Confirmed cases
    20 Home
    83 Recovered
    3 Hospitalized (2 in ICU)
    1 Death (total)

    Hospitializations continue to decline from a max daily total of ten, about ten days ago.

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases in San Francisco as of 10 April 2020:

    Total Positive Cases: 797

    Deaths: 13

    updated daily at 9:00 AM


  19. Watt4Bob

    I’ve been setting up equipment to allow office personnel to work from home. I was thinking it was sort of a contingency thing.

    Then I became aware of the level of discomfort felt by some, and by some, real fear mounting.

    It changed my attitude, and my motivation.

    I can’t imagine how hard it is for some people to continue going to work, afraid that their work environment is inevitably going to result in their getting sick.

    IT work entails a lot of triage style thinking, but it never included assessing a person’s level of fear before.

    1. Mike Mc

      Love(d) my job at a large land-grant university in an ag state as a computer repair tech. However after some dithering the university system booted all but essential personnel off campus 3/20; now even essential personnel are done as of today 4/10.

      Doing the WFH (Work From Home) thing via cell phone hot spot and VPN some 175 miles NW of campus. All good so far… but I am four months from my tenth anniversary and need to hit that mark for some very concrete material benefits in retirement.

      Would love to finish up on campus repairing computer per usual, but I’m a man, retirement age, type II diabetic with some hypertension. So yeah, I assess my level of fear every fking morning when I wake up.

      Mercifully our large (in square miles) ag state practices social distancing all the time. I live in a town of 1,600 in a county of 6,500 where cattle are far more numerous (and profitable) than people.

      Hoping this bastard virus peaks this summer some time – need to empty out the little one-bedroom apartment near campus – but if I can crawl across that ten year line like the marathon and Iron Man runners do, I’ll be fine. I think.

  20. PKMKII

    I would argue that the PMC/NGO-adjacent “intersectionality” you’re describing is more rebranded liberal idpol rather than proper left-wing intersectionality. Obviously the PMC doesn’t give a lick about how race and the working class intersect, but they like looking they do.

    That being said, it is a difficult thing to translate out of the academic/theory into politics without either ending up with liberal idpol or descending into that sort of futile leftism wherein you spend so much time acknowledging every group and subgroup within the movement that you can never get to the business of what connects them all. And Bernie was in a bit of a, damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t situation. Sticks to a “just the economics, ma’am” strategy like 2016, the lib blob would rake him over the coals for not reaching out to minority voters. Gets “intersectional” and then his core message gets diluted and the contrast between him and the democrat establishment becomes murky.

  21. lyman alpha blob

    Lambert, with your fascination with feral hogs you might really enjoy Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy.

    There’s a world destroying virus and some very nasty piggies too – what’s not to like!

    1. Judith

      Atwood is prescient, very funny, and tells a great story. Fascinating trilogy on a lot of different levels.

    2. BlakeFelix

      I liked that series too. I thought that they should have made a deal with the pigs where they can eat dead people, and people can eat dead pigs. Some possibilities for disease transmission, but barring that I would totally let pigs have my corpse tomorrow in exchange for bacon today. And pigs need some kind of population control, they are like cats, their exponential growth can quickly outweigh the earth.

  22. marym

    What are we supposed to think about these Congresscritters “proposing” stuff? Sanders was already talking about the interim M4A-ish plan before the last bill was passed, and there have been other “proposals.” My favorite is Tlaib’s to mint 2 (!) platinum coins and mail or deliver debit cards to everyone for monthly payments (in case having a “favorite” is any more meaningful than “proposing.”)

    Sanders and Jayapal Put Forth Bill to Provide No-Cost ‘Health Care for All During Pandemic’

    As the number of Americans without health insurance continues to rise rapidly due to ongoing mass layoffs across the nation, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal on Friday introduced emergency legislation that would empower Medicare to cover all healthcare costs for the uninsured and all out-of-pocket expenses for those with insurance for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.

    Pramila Jayapal’s ambitious plan to get every worker their paycheck during coronavirus, explained

    It’s similar to a policy Denmark has already implemented to combat unemployment.

    Under her new proposal, the Paycheck Guarantee Act, the government would fill in gaps that existing programs have left out. If a company is struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government would help them cover 100 percent of their base payroll costs for at least three months, up to an annual salary of $100,000 per worker.

    Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), whom my colleague Emily Stewart argued “reflects a post-Trump populism within the Republican Party,” has also supported an effort that would do something similar. His approach would cover a slightly lower proportion of company payrolls.

    “Beginning immediately, the federal government should cover 80 percent of wages for workers at any U.S. business, up to the national median wage, until this emergency is over,” Hawley wrote in a Washington Post op-ed on Thursday.


  23. sd

    I am seeing this making the rounds, and no one questioning it.

    Californians may have developed some herd immunity to coronavirus last year, Stanford team theorizes

    Stanford researchers are looking into the possibility that coronavirus first hit California undetected last year, much earlier than anyone realized, and was only seen at that time as a particularly nasty and early flu season.

    As a result, the theory says, many Californians have already unknowingly been exposed to the coronavirus and have developed immunity to it.

    “When you look at other states, it doesn’t quite explain completely why California has been more fortunate, especially when it should be the least fortunate,” said Victor Davis Hanson*, senior fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

    *Victor Davis Hanson is an American classicist, military historian, columnist and farmer. (Wikipedia)

    1. Yves Smith

      Thanks for the catch. Hoover pimping for earlier relaxation….

      In the meantime, NBC is reporting infections returning in Singapore and Hong Kong with lockdowns being removed, and one expert there saying it’s worse than the first bout.

        1. MLTPB

          I suspect this second wave relates to people coming from Italy directly, or indirectly from New York, Spain, Germany, etc.

          The time between their first and second, in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Singapore, etc, is longer than the corresponding time between the 1st and 2nd in the US, and many other countries.

      1. Bill Carson

        A good friend of mine is always posting stuff from the Hoover Institute. I’ve watched the videos and read the articles. CONCLUSION: Those guys are a bunch of right-wing zealots who are only interested in the economy.

        Back in mid-March, they featured a lawyer Epstein who predicted that COVID would result in no more than 500 deaths in the U.S. Then a week later he modified his prediction, claiming a math error, it increase the max death toll to 5,000. By Sunday we’ll have four-times that and it’s not slowing down yet.

        I would stay far, far away from Hoover. They have an obvious agenda, and it is the economy over everything. I find it very ironic that anyone would rely on propaganda coming out of an organization named after the man who was driving the bus when the Great Depression occurred.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I wonder how many people now know what a Hooverville was?


          Would you believe that Herbert Hoover worked in Australia in the 1890s? Even then

          ‘During his time with the mining company, Hoover became opposed to measures such as a minimum wage and workers’ compensation, feeling that they were unfair to owners.’

          So he never really changed his ideas.

          1. Bill Carson

            “I wonder how many people now know what a Hooverville was?”

            Me! Me!

            I played a Hovervillan in my college’s production of Annie back in the the 80’s.

        2. eg

          So they are American versions of our Fraser Institute and Montreal Economic Institute (MEI)?


    2. Lee

      Well, he was wrong about the Iraq war and that’s in his area of credentialed expertise. I’ll wait for the scientists in the relevant fields to weigh in before I rejoin the madding crowd.

    3. anon in so cal

      A possible reason why California is more fortunate is because CA was the first state to implement distancing, on March 19. (California was also first to take similar steps against the Spanish Flu.)

      In Los Angeles County, at least, distancing has been extended through May 15.

  24. Noone from Nowheresville

    Sanders and Jayapal Put Forth Bill to Provide No-Cost ‘Health Care for All During Pandemic’

    “We have got to work together to make sure that anyone in America who is sick—regardless of their income or immigration status—can seek the medical treatment they need during this national emergency,” Sanders added. “With an estimated 35 million Americans in danger of losing their employer-provided health insurance over the coming weeks and months, this legislation is needed now more than ever.”

    Here’s the pdf of the bill:

  25. richard

    This is sort of interesting, one bit of fallout from the Joe Rogan/Joe Biden who haw is Rogan’s shout outs to Krystal and Sager (sp), Kulinski and Dore as good sources for news, while admitting that he pays no attention to politics and personally knows nothing.
    Nothing like a lift from a barely interested giant…
    I also suspect that Rogan knows a bit more than he lets on, that it’s sort of a posture
    I may have to check his show out, though I could care less about cage fighting
    How do they get those cages to fight anyway?
    I mean, you could kind of clang them together and call it a fight, I guess

    1. Carey

      >Nothing like a lift from a barely interested giant…
      I also suspect that Rogan knows a bit more than he lets on, that it’s sort of a posture

      My impression as well.

        1. richard

          So great, we get will rodgers but no fdr? What kind of deal is this? Certainly ain’t new.

    2. Foy

      I think he knows a bit more than he suggests. But he also lets the interviewee talk, long interviews, rarely interrupts and he just keeps asking them questions rather than putting his view across to them all the time. And he interviews a wide range of smart people in their field. At the very minimum he’s become much more knowledgeable from the class of people he’s interviewed on many topics.

      1. Bill Carson

        I like Rogan. He tries really hard to understand the often-dense material and he’s obviously intellectually curious.

        People who bash him obviously haven’t watched the show.

  26. Synoia

    Chuck Rocha Waffles and says noting substantive. It’s just waffle.

    Ahead in every single state 10 days before Super Tuesday

    Does not explain how Biden pulled this out of the hat when he says Biden had no staffers in the State, and say it was the support of all the other candidates endorsing Biden.

    I’m positive he is correct, if you add the DNC’s skill at counting Biden’s votes.

    One for Bernie
    Three for Biden
    One for Bernie
    Three for Biden

    He talks to much word salad off topic to be believable.

    1. HotFlash

      I agree with commenters above, that was a resume to the Biden camp. I mean, man’s out of a job, Biden will have to have a real campaign if he wants to win (which is debatable, of course). Under those circs, I wouldn’t expect Rocha to say ‘malarkey’ if he had found a ballot-box stuffed full of it. And I can’t think Bernie would approve if he did.

  27. The Heretic

    Was it possible that Bernie did not appeal to what remained of the middle class in the USA? I talked to some of the ‘sensible professionals’ in both Canada and the US. These people were not rich, but are comfortable middle class and reasonably secure in their prospects. Some were academia, some were in business. Although none were trump supporters, I was deeply suprised to hear that the majority of the them did not support Bernie. Often they were suspicious of how Bernie would pay for Medicare for all, and did not like the negation of student debt, and felt in some subtle way that their prospects were better represented by other candidates, such as Buttigeig. Perhaps the problem of the Bernie messaging about progressive agenda is that it focuses too much on the poor… the middle class people would not identify with him despite the fact that many of the programs that would benefit the poor would also benefit the middle class. He needed to split the 95% away from the 5%. Perhaps he needed to directly address the White working class man, the ones who in fact did not support him, who despite their chauvinism and exterior gruffness) could still be appealed to support higher values, as long as they themselves felt respected. (Aka Gran Turino). He does also need to demonstrate how to pay for his initiatives, and either he identities how he will tax corporations to capture the money (use some clear but simple accounting as the professional class is modestly numerically literate) or he needs to embrace MMT (a difficult sell for now, as people fundamentally believe that government should be run like a household).

    I was sad to hear that Bernie has stopped campaigning. Whatever he does now, it must be to strengthen and encourage the movement, help it evolve into a strong organization that can push its agenda and build a bigger and active power base as well as pressure the faux left into respecting its agenda. It needs to be ready to support the next true progressive leader (Sadly, God knows who, as it is not Warren). Sadly Not Bernie, but it is still up to Us.

    Nonetheless, the Bernie has achieved much good. God bless him and keep him safe from Covid-19. May he have the pleasure of seeing the seeds, that he has planted, to become trees that bear fruit.

    1. Bill Carson

      I think Bernie’s message may not resonate with many people in the middle class because 1) they don’t identify themselves as poor, regardless of the fact that they have a net worth of zero or negative. After all, they are surrounded with a bunch of shiny crap that they bought at StuffMart. And 2) people are just naive enough to think that they could be rich someday, so it makes them uncomfortable when you bash the rich.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I wonder how many middle class ‘sensible professionals’ in both Canada and the US ever heard much of what Bernie proposed — except as labeled and interpreted for them by the Media. But I can understand how some “middle class sensible professionals” might have trouble supporting Bernie when so many of his supporters were so unlike them in dress, manner, and grooming and often spoke a different language hardly suitable for the Lions Club or Elks or wherever middle class ‘sensible professionals’ congregate. Bernie’s appeals were never heard.

      Some better questions to me:
      How could Bidden have any appeal to “middle class sensible professionals”?
      How could those ‘sensible’ persons be so blind and unconcerned by the mechanations of the Democratic Party?
      How could ‘sensible’ persons blindly follow the direction of the Democratic Party? — If that explains their support for Bidden.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I’ve always found voters to simply presume Team Blue types support good ideas. Hillary pushed the idea that she and Sanders agreed on everything because she knew sizable chunks of her voters believe she is a secret liberal.

        Did MSNBC in itsome fear mongering over Ginsberg, who doesn’t warrant the FDR treatment, ever mention Scalia and Thomas and Biden? The answer is no. Ignorance is a sin in most moral structures, so they can’t be excused for accepting Comcast PR. But it’s important to recognize Biden exists in the zeitgeist much like Obama, who is reputed to have faced unprecedented opposition such as the minority party not doing the job of governing for him or providing cover for the majority party in 20th and 2010.

  28. MLTPB

    About that chart/graph by John Burn-Murdoch, regarding population normalization.

    He sees no relationship.

    Firstly, both axes are log scaled.

    If you draw a line from 0,0 to the dot forbthe US, all other dots above that line correspond to higher Y per capita, and below that, lower Y per capita.

    The US looks pretty good on that chart, per capita.

    And if the dots are scattered, as shown in fact on the graph, I think it’s because countries have been impacted and responded differently.

    And there is no reason dots should be closely located near the line from 0,0 to the US dot, if that is what John is looking for, wrt to relationship. But I don’t know what relationship he is seeking here.

    1. MLTPB

      Sorry, forgot to add, secondly, imagine they are replotted on a linear X scale and a linear Y scale.

  29. ChrisAtRU


    He says it in the first two minutes: Coronavirus … and that’s the only thing anyone needs to understand – Bernie is too decent of a human being. Lambert reposted from an Anand G. article, the story about the full SUV in case people forgot. I phrased it thus a few days ago:

    ” … with the media harping on ‘Bernie could drop out and end this’ instead of ‘let’s do vote by mail’ – WHICH BOTH SIDES HATE BY WAY (must be that pesky paper trail) – I think Bernie wanted no part of the horror of exposing people to illness and death during this pandemic.”

    … and with the GOP, Joe Biden, Tom Perez and the entire democratic establishment – see Illinois – all ready and willing to sacrifice people’s lives to hasten Biden’s collection of the delegates and Trump’s court appointees, Bernie once again showed that he’s the only one who actually gives a sh** about the everyday person. A thousand poxes upon the houses of America’s kleptocrat, plutocrat and media classes for what they’ve done to hinder and cripple Bernie’s campaign.

    1. ChrisAtRU


      Heading into minute five, Lambert’s “Night Of The Long Knives” metaphor validated:

      ” … I got to see the polling, and I knew that ten days before Super Tuesday, we were literally ahead in every single state … every single state … and you who else knew that? Every other Democratic candidate and the Democratic establishment. That’s why you saw for the first time in American history, a consolidation like you’ve never seen before …”

      Way to go Dems, getting together in unprecedented fashion to deny voters universal healthcare, free tuition, medical debt forgiveness, student debt forgiveness and a chance to reverse climate change.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Just watching this video myself. This is so bad and if he is typical of the people that advised Bernie, I can understand why he blew it. He is so wrapped up in the structure and the racial segments that go into it, that he forgot to do the one thing that was required – to win.

        I wonder if Chuck was the guy that told Bernie “Hey, you want to know the one thing that Americans do not want to hear about in the middle of a pandemic? Healthcare for all. Better drop it then and you might get a 0.7% increase in the polls. Tell people that that fight remains in the future.”

        “OK Chuck. I’ll put that in my next email to all my supporters then.”

        1. Bill Carson

          It bothered me when Bernie kept adding to his platform.

          “Hey, Bernie, our data shows that if you come out in favor of legalizing marijuana, that you’ll get a 0.7% bump in the polls.”

          And same thing with lots of issues, from gun laws, to ending fracking, to whatever.

          But what nobody seemed to consider is that some of his supporters are on the fence, and maybe they really don’t like the idea of mj legalization? Or what if they work in the oilfield and you are promising to cut their job?

          As they say, “pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.”

        2. ChrisAtRU

          I think you’re being kinda hard on Chuck … ;-)

          1. Chuck is the director of Latinx outreach for the campaign, and he pretty much delivered. I think even Lambert surmised that Bernie needed a Chuck for his African American outreach. I agree, although I thought about something this weekend w.r.t. to Latinx going overwhelming for Bernie: language. I wonder how many Latinx voters were stuck to CNN/MSNBC watching Maddow and all the other Russiagate/Impeachment town criers belt out their propaganda over the last four years? I don’t think there is an equivalent vortex coming out of Telemundo or Univision, but I may be wrong. Any Latins in the commentariat?

          2. When did Bernie stop talking about healthcare? I personally watched nearly daily streams at live.berniesanders.com after the March 10th primaries. Bernie had Drs, nurses and campaign surrogates on discussing the harsh reality of the pandemic. In every one of them, Bernie was of course talking about #M4A. Once again, the media played its part here. They never covered Bernie’s daily messages as much as they covered Biden’s reported communications from his green-screen bunker in Delaware. #Natch

          I know it hurts for many of us that Bernie suspended his campaign. But I believe, as I said above, that the primary reason was him realizing that these sociopaths in the DNC were going to keep sending people out in a pandemic to vote once he was still campaigning. Have you noticed that NY is allowing vote by absentee ballot now that Sanders has suspended his campaign? Funny, isn’t it? It’s almost as if the powers that be held a knife the collective throat of a largely poor and disenfranchised electorate and told Bernie to quit or else …

          In any case, Bernie is still on the ballot … and from what I have seen, a lot of people still intend to #VoteForBernie

  30. Carolinian

    Another post mortem.


    We all remember the stories of Barry Goldwater and George McGovern, once landslide losers who would go on to reshape their respective parties. But in recent years, we have seen movements arise from campaigns that didn’t even get particularly close to the nomination. The conservative Christian organizations that took over state Republican organizations in the 1990s sprang from Pat Robertson’s 1988 presidential bid, which peaked with a second-place showing in Iowa. Howard Dean gave life to antiwar progressives representing the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,” even though he bombed in the 2004 early states. Ron Paul started the “libertarian moment” with spirited campaigns in 2008 and 2012, despite never improving on his strong third-place performance in Iowa and running second in New Hampshire.

    Tulsi 2024? [ducks]

  31. Acacia

    Once the booth curtain is pulled shut, will arch-radical Butler quietly tick the box on the hoped-for future hair-sniffer-in-chief Biden?

    I think we can guess the answer.

  32. bayoustjohndavid

    About Biden’s proposal to lower the Medicare age to 60, I think Biden (if elected) will put as much effort into lowering the Medicare age as Obama did into raising the minimum wage (or passing EFCA), so I agree about that. But I think successfully lowering the age to 60 would possibly be the quickest path to Medicare for all. It’s a moot point because we all know a Presdient Biden wouldn’t really try to lower the age to 60.

    However, Dean Baker made one very good point in a too timid proposal last week:

    Lowering the age by one year should also provide a great lesson in the difficulties in extending Medicare by one year. This will roughly double the number of people who are newly enrolled in a given year. We will be able to see the difficulties in expanding coverage. Clearly, there will be some, and it will be good to know what they are with a relatively small expansion, so that we can be better prepared for a larger expansion in future years.

    If the five year expansion were successful, the push to expand further would probably be overwhelming.

    1. Rod

      This is a curious point that I have never seen broached:

      for me–full SS will start at 66, however I became eligible for Medicare at 65(as all ‘Mericans) and was made to enroll into the Medicare by my Insurance carrier at the time(by dropping my Ins coverage on the day of my 65th birthday)–with plenty of notice of course.
      My Medicare monthly bill is 145$, payable only Quarterly. Since that payment would normally be deducted monthly from my SS Payout–that I have not signed up to collect yet–I have to send a check to maintain my Medicare Coverage.( Writing that first check for the first full quarter plus the 3 months of the quarter I was enrolling in was a surprise and tough~50% of monthly or 5% of yearly retirement net )
      Aligning a SS Retirement Age with Medicare Eligibility Age would have kept 1,740$ cash money in my pocket during this bridge year.( This is 10% of the Net State Teachers Retirement benefit I receive. )

      kinda like that prescription donut hole thing–but not.

      anybody else?

      and the irony of course: with the exception of ensuring Insurance Coverage for my daughter for eleven years until she aged out by paying the NC State Family-One Dependent Ins offering at 375$ per month–I kept myself in the NC State Basic 70/30 Plan coverage the rest of the time until retirement at a monthly 0$-none-no-cost to myself plan offering.

      Yea, I know, I always thought it was too good–NC was going to allow ME into a class of malleable minds:
      pay me a bunch more than SC(better to keep it relevant): and give me free Health Insurance if I took the cheapest Plan. Believe me when I say–for 24 years– I left nothing on the table in exchange for that opportunity.

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