2:00PM Water Cooler 4/17/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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

“But the number of new cases in the state seems to have reached a plateau, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has said, ‘I believe the worst is over if we continue to be smart.'” [New York Times]. • This curve hasn’t gone flat though….

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 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

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* * *

Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden Needs to Start Acting Like a Presidential Candidate” [The Nation]. “Donald Trump goes on Twitter and television every day and promises Americans miracle cures and a stimulus check with his name on it. He holds court while sitting on a throne figuratively composed of the dead bodies of the victims of his administration’s ineffective response to the pandemic. And all Biden can come up with in response to this flagrant failure of governance is a 940-word essay in The New York Times. Maybe next week Biden can write a cartoon caption for The New Yorker so we know he still has a pulse.” • Yeah, it sure is odd.

Biden (D)(2): “Michelle Obama to lend star power to Biden” [The Hill]. “The trick for Michelle Obama and the Biden campaign is finding the right balance for the pop culture icon, who could be a massive asset for the campaign but has never shown much enthusiasm for campaign politics… Political observers say the Obamas provide the one-two punch Biden needs to help rally Democrats as he seeks to address an enthusiasm gap against President Trump…. The most natural spot for Obama could be on the voter registration side, where she launched a group in 2018 called “When We All Vote,” along with Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monáe, Chris Paul, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. She will lead a virtual event for the group on Monday as part of an effort to encourage voters to take advantage of mail and absentee balloting during the coronavirus pandemic.” • Of course, if voter registration were a priority for Democrats, it would be a core party function. Maybe bring in some of those voters Sanders was trying to reach, eh?

Biiden (D)(3): “Biden campaign’s selection of preferred super PAC stokes strife in Democratic Party” [WaPo]. “Joe Biden’s campaign signaled to donors this week that Priorities USA would be its main big-money partner for the general election — a move that has alarmed some of Biden’s ardent backers, who fear the campaign has given outsize influence to a super PAC that many donors associate with the party’s loss in 2016…. At stake are hundreds of millions of dollars in independent spending for Biden by super PACs and politically active nonprofits that can raise and spend unlimited sums to try to influence elections.” • Priorities USA supported Obama in 2012, Clinton in 2016, is rife with Clintonites, and focuses on big donors (they, I assume, are the “priorities” mentioned). So I guess Biden won’t be running a small donor campaign?

Biden (D)(4): “Joe Biden can’t beat Donald Trump or restore decency” [USA Today]. “Though he’s branded as the affable ‘Uncle Joe,’ his policy record and personal temperament are far from decent. And while conventional wisdom holds that ‘moderate’ equals ‘electable,’ there’s nothing particularly safe about him, either. In 2016, Democrats ran the candidate with a perfect résumé and party credentials. She lost to a far-right game show host. Biden has every liability Hillary Clinton had and then some. His Iraq War vote, ties to the financial sector, scandals involving his son and brother — these issues got little attention from the liberal press during the primary, but Trump and the conservative media will give no quarter. Biden’s one advantage over Clinton — his folksy charm — has been eroded by age. Last fall, pundits and politicians alluded to him ‘losing a step.’ Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said at the time that he wasn’t sure whether Biden could get ‘the ball over the (goal line) without fumbling.'” • A little unusual to see an editorial like this after a candidate’s selection.

Biden (D)(5): “Joe Biden must pick a progressive black woman as VP if he wants to win” [Debbie HInes, The Hill]. “If Joe Biden expects to win the presidential election, he must import some extreme vigor into what I perceive as an unexciting campaign and candidate… A winning formula would likely be the selection of Sen. Kamala Harris or Stacy Abrams as Biden’s running mate. Those two have name recognition and the much-needed magnetism and charisma to carry the day for Joe Biden.” • A cop or one of Neera Tanden’s many hack. I’m feeling the energy right now.

Sanders (D)(1): “The Tyranny of Decorum” [David Sirota, TMI]. “Yes, it is true — a small group of us with many years of campaign experience pushed Bernie to sharply contrast his own progressive record with Biden’s record of working with Republicans against the Democratic agenda. I’ve been on seven underdog challenger campaigns in my life, and won a few of them — this is campaigning 101: you contrast, or you lose. And with Biden, the contrast was particularly stark.” • “Contrast” doesn’t equal “scorched earth,” no matter how much think-skinned liberal Democrat power brokers clutch their pearls and head for the fainting couch.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): “Bernie Sanders thinks the media cost him the nomination” [CNN]. “‘I think what we saw from Nevada on out was a cry from the rooftops, from the political establishment, from the media that they wanted anybody but Bernie. Anybody but Bernie! My God, I don’t know how many articles they were about, we need anybody but Bernie and, you know, they ended up succeeding. And that’s that.’ In just a few sentences, Sanders a) lumps the media in with the ‘political establishment’ as actors working to keep him from the nomination and b) lambastes the number of articles allegedly written seeking ‘anybody but Bernie.'” • Where’s the lie?

UPDATE Sanders (D)(3): “Sanders says Biden’s sexual assault accuser ‘has the right to make her claims and get a public hearing'” [The Week]. “Sanders was asked about [Tara Reade’s] claims in a Thursday interview with CBS This Morning, partly because Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a prominent Sanders supporter, had recently said the allegations are relevant when it comes to deciding whether to vote for Biden. ‘I think it’s relevant to talk about anything. And I think every woman who feels she has been assaulted has every right in the world to stand up and make her claims,’ Sanders said. ‘The public will make their own conclusions about it,’ Sanders continued, before saying ‘I just don’t know enough about it to comment further.'” • That should cause a little heartburn, I would think….

UPDATE Sanders (D)(4):

Good, but not enough. Fundraise for them!. Because that is what a working class movement would do.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(5): “Nina Turner reveals whether she will serve as Biden’s Vice President”:


UPDATE Trump (D)(1): “Donald Trump’s Greatest Escape” [Politico]. “Trump has built an astonishingly consistent record of surviving crises, of dodging the comeuppance everyone assumes is coming his way, and then turning seeming calamity into his next great opportunity—and emerging not just intact but emboldened….. He dodged the “Access Hollywood” tape fiasco. He evaded the noose of impeachment over the Ukraine deal. Those might now seem minor compared to the challenge of trying to get reelected during a worldwide health crisis and a looming depression—but if one acknowledges that he has been training in some sense for this sort of a jam for the bulk of his adult existence, then this nightmarish predicament starts to look less like an uncrackable problem than a potential capstone accomplishment…. Trump’s aghast critics see a president backed into a corner, desperate and unmanned, in a frantic, final freefall. But people who’ve watched him for years, who’ve witnessed the dizzying pivots, the great escapes, the gobsmacking victories in the face of arguably more unforgiving audiences than American voters—what they see is Trump deploying tools and tactics that have worked before and could work again.” • “This time we’ve got him!” This is well worth a read, because it doesn’t seem particularly embubbled (especially for Politico). We have — checks counter — 200 days ’til the election. That’s not just a long time. That’s an eternity.

Warren (D)(1): “The Case for Joe Biden to Pick Elizabeth Warren as His Running Mate” [The New Yorker]. “[Warren’s selection] would help unify Democrats going into the fall… [T]he Democratic Party today is a fractious coalition, and much of its progressive wing, which plays a key role in mobilizing support at the local level, has little enthusiasm for Biden. In an interview with Politico on Wednesday, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who supported Sanders during the primary, called on Biden to choose a more progressive running mate who ‘he knows may push him.’ Picking Warren would address this issue….” • Picturing disaffected Sanders supporters — in between tabling for DSA — bringing big inflatable snakes to Warren rallies. I don’t think so.

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WI: Alert reader AH used the 91-DIVOC tool we’ve been using to look at the Wisconsin primary. A redrawn version of the chart he sent:

AH writes: “It’s only a couple days, but given the data reporting lag and the incubation period it seems likely that the renewed uptick in new cases per day is likely a post primary day contagion surge.” So Biden, who urged voters to the polls, would be in part responsible for the uptick (which, mind you, is not necessarily due to voters, but to innocent bystanders they infected).

Realignment and Legitimacy

WTF @jack:

“OnPolitics: It isn’t really politics as usual” [USA Today]. “But the biggest news, albeit somewhat obvious, was President Barack Obama’s announcement on Tuesday. Biden of course was Obama’s vice president, but the 44th president had been clear throughout the primary that he was not going to pick sides. With the last opponent, Sanders, exiting the race last week, Obama was free to speak out.” • This is just so patently not true. Obama signaled an absolute lack of neutrality by standing up Perez.

“The Neutral Partisan Effects of Vote-by-Mail: Evidence from County-Level Roll-Outs” (PDF) [Daniel M. Thompson, Jennifer Wu, Jesse Yoder, and Andrew B. Hall, Democracy & Polarization Lab, Stanford University]. “In this paper, we provide a comprehensive design-based analysis of the effect of vote-by-mail on electoral outcomes. We collect data from 1996-2018 on all three U.S. states who implemented vote-by-mail in a staggered fashion across counties, allowing us to use a difference-in-differences design at the county level to estimate the causal effect of vote-by-mail programs. We find that: (1) vote-by-mail does not appear to affect either party’s share of turnout; (2) vote-by-mail does not appear to increase either party’s vote share; and (3) vote-by-mail modestly increases overall average turnout rates, in line with previous estimates. All three conclusions support the conventional wisdom of election administration experts and contradict many popular claims in the media.”

“Suit claims Mecklenburg voting machines could leave voters vulnerable to COVID-19” [Charlotte Observer]. “North Carolina’s NAACP has filed suit against election boards in Mecklenburg County and elsewhere, charging in part that new, touch screen voting machines risk exposing voters to COVID-19. The suit also says the ExpressVotemachines are ‘insecure, unreliable, and unverifiable’ and threaten ‘the integrity of North Carolina’s elections.’ … The lawsuit also points to what it says is the particular risk the machines pose during the current health crisis. ‘Using the ExpressVote is particularly perilous during the COVID-19 pandemic,’ it says. “COVID-19 can be spread to many North Carolinians through contact with the touchscreen computer or other parts of the ExpressVote … using the (machine) will exacerbate the public health crisis and cause longer lines where more voters will be exposed to one another.’ Mecklenburg Elections Director Michael Dickerson said his office is working with the state to ensure that voting is safe. ‘There are ways to clean the equipment and, if you are using a disposable stylus, you can eliminate the human touch of the panels,’ he said. ‘Also, it is not only the voting panels but the check-in stations, poll book tables, entry and exit doors are all concerns that we will have to deal with.” • These are ballot marking devices, and so the suit is correct: The vote cannot be audited.

UPDATE “House Democrats Come One Step Closer To Allowing Lawmaking From Home” [HuffPost]. “House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, formally unveiled a plan on Thursday to enable House members to cast votes from afar through in-person proxies. The plan, which has the blessing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), marks House Democrats’ first real step toward reactivating the legislative process after weeks of recess during which President Donald Trump has led the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. … While the proposal addresses McGovern and Pelosi’s professed technological concerns about enabling digital voting from afar, the inherent limits it places on the legislative process disappoint some proponents of remote voting. Individual members of Congress would not be able to file motions or otherwise shape legislative debates. The need for remote members to make up their mind relatively far in advance might restrict their leverage over the process as well.” • Sounds like one of those temporarily permanent things, since the members might like less accountability, and the leadership would have even more control. Also, no pesky reporters.

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.

Employment Situation: “The coronavirus has destroyed the job market in every state” [Bloomberg]. “The coronavirus outbreak made America’s job market go from 60 to zero in the blink of an eye…. Diane Swonk, chief economist at the auditing firm Grant Thornton, said many laid-off workers have yet to file for benefits simply because state unemployment portals were not built for the wave of traffic they are now receiving. ‘As bad as this is, it’s still an undercount.’ Swonk said.” • With an interactive chart for all the states.

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 11 April 2020 – Rail Decline Continues” [Econintersect]. “Intermodal and carloads are 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.”

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Money: “Why The War On Physical Cash Is A War On Freedom” (podcast) [Joe Weisenthal & Tracy Alloway, Odd Lots]. • This is a Blloomberg podcast, but Weisenthal and Alloway are fun.

Marketing: “Influencer Brands Are Staying (Scarily) Strong And Are Quickly Pivoting To Quarantine Sponcon” [Buzzfeed]. “Over the past week or so, I’ve noticed how seamlessly influencers and their sponsored partners have started to post quarantine or crisis-related things. It’s impressive, and it’s surreal…. Brands and influencers have also quickly realized how mutually beneficial it is for their consumers and their image to align themselves with (seemingly) doing public good.” • I wouldn’t say “surreal.” I’d say “creepy.” Perhaps I’m allergic to Instagram prose: “”It’s your internet BFF Dani here and it’s giveaway time!!!” There’s no smiley-face for the dot of the “i” in “Dani,” but I feel sure there would be, if that were technically feasible.

Commodities: “The Global Airline Shutdown Has a Surprise Victim: Gold Miners” [Bloomberg]. “A shutdown of the airline industry has made transporting gold in all forms more difficult, the World Gold Council’s chief market strategist John Reade said last month. Difficulties in moving metal between trading hubs, and linking those markets with vaults and refineries has impacted prices, widening the spread between New York futures and London spot prices.”

Commodities: “Fresh produce goes to waste as coronavirus wrecks supply chains” [The Hill]. “The Produce Marketing Association, an industry trade group, estimates that about $5 billion of fresh fruits and vegetables have already been wasted. ‘I think what it demonstrates is that the food supply chain that we have set up now, it’s not set up to pivot … quickly to address this kind of shock to the system,’ Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports, told The Hill. Produce Marketing Association CEO Cathy Burns said the wasted fruits and vegetables were planted months ago and that farmers are already starting to plan for the next harvest…”

Shipping: “The coronavirus crash in trade may trigger a new look at container shipping’s drive toward megaships. The ultra-large vessels that were supposed to carry liner companies into a new era of efficiency-driven profitability have become a financial albatross during the pandemic… and some industry experts suggest carriers may have to reconsider whether scaling up remains a priority” [Wall Street Journal]. “Massive ships with capacity for 20,000 or more containers make it tough for operators to be flexible, and carriers are seeing the impact as they navigate today’s caving demand.”

The Bezzle: “Senators Accuse Airlines of Holding Billions in Customer Funds” [Bloomberg]. “Airlines in the U.S. that have halted flights are holding more than $10 billion in customer money while offering credits for future travel instead of cash refunds, a group of senators charged Friday.” • Markey, Warren, Blumenthal.

Tech: “In case you need more proof the world’s gone mad: Behold, Apple’s $699 Mac Pro wheels” [Tech Register]. “In case you needed more proof that the world is in a very strange moment, Apple now sells a US$699 (£560) wheel kit for the Mac Pro. Apple recommends the wheels as “ideal for moving your Mac Pro quickly and easily without having to lift it”. For this price we thought that perhaps Apple has reinvented the wheel…”

Fiscal Policy:

Incidentally, this shows why single payer, even at the regional compact level, should still be handled only by a currency issuer.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 44 Fear (previous close: 42 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 42 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 17 at 12:32pm.

The Biosphere

“‘Tremendous Victory’ For Wildlife: Federal Judge Invalidates Keystone XL Pipeline Permit” [HuffPo]. “A federal judge in Montana on Wednesday overturned a key water crossing permit needed to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, handing a major victory to environmental groups who said the oil network could imperil endangered species and threaten drinking water. Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris said in his decision that the Army Corps of Engineers had failed to consider how a 2017 permit allowing the pipeline to cross waterways could harm some species, including the endangered pallid sturgeon.”

Health Care

“What Have Epidemiologists Learned About the Coronavirus?” (interview) [Justin Lessler, The New Yorker]. Lessler is a professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “[T]ake the number of deaths in a place like New York. The population is over eight million people, and just over eight thousand people have died. [New York City recently revised its death count to more than ten thousand people.] If the death rate is one out of a hundred, that implies that eight hundred thousand people have been infected, which is reasonable. But if the mortality rate is one out of a thousand, that assumes that eight million people have been infected in New York City, which is everyone. So if you scale those up by too big of a factor, you quickly get to a point where it implies that an unrealistic percentage of the city has been infected. So that sort of puts an upper limit on that scenario.” • The entire interview is worth a read, even if it does underline how little we know. (Mortality is also not merely a biological function, either.)

One despairs:

You want to get infected? Knock yourself out! What none of these loons seem to understand is that the issue is infecting others. Especially since SARS-COVID-19 is highly infectious and spreads rapidly. The stupid! It b-u-r-r-r-r-n-n-n-n-s-s-s-s!!!!!!!!!!

“Coronavirus clue? Most cases aboard U.S. aircraft carrier are symptom-free” [Reuters]. “The Navy’s testing of the entire 4,800-member crew of the [U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt] — which is about 94% complete — [shows that] roughly 60 percent of the over 600 sailors who tested positive so far have not shown symptoms of COVID-19…. ‘With regard to COVID-19, we’re learning that stealth in the form of asymptomatic transmission is this adversary’s secret power,’ said Rear Admiral Bruce Gillingham, surgeon general of the Navy…. The figure is higher than the 25% to 50% range offered on April 5 by Dr. Anthony Fauci.” • Again, though, a closed environment, I would imagine with a lot of air conditioning.

SARS-COV-19 and transport network:

Class Warfare

Amazon workers:

Well, er:

“I’ve Got the Light of Freedom” (review) [Joe Costello, SSRN]. “Immersed in our degraded political culture today, a person finds it difficult to appreciate only fifty years ago the United States experienced one of the great democratic movements of world history. Payne’s book records some of the thinking, discussions, and actions of the multitudes of people across the small towns and communities of the South, who came together and seized their democratic rights. Most essentially, the book offers lessons in the processes of democratic organizing, a necessary first step to reviving, reforming, and evolving democracy in America.”

News of the Wired

“When time stops” [Damon Linker, The Week]. “Amidst the pervasive anxiety about illness and economic hardship, it can be easy to miss somewhat subtler forms of distress — like the sense that time itself is coming unwound, with forward motion halted… A life without forward momentum is to a considerable extent a life without purpose — or at least the kind of purpose that lifts our spirits and enlivens our steps as we traverse time. Without the momentum and purpose, we flounder. A present without a future is a life that feels less worth living, because it’s a life haunted by a shadow of futility.” • Being almost entirely inner-directed, and with the technical capacity to do what I care about most when isolated, this doesn’t really speak to me. But I can see how children, and people with children, would feel this form of distress acutely.

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (TH):

TH writes: “If I were a kid I would SOOOO be climbing this tree. El Dorado Park in Long Beach, CA.” Me too!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. richard

      If only it were rich in something we needed! So much of it lying around these days; i trip over irony crossing the room.
      And no, I did not always trip over it; this is fresh irony.

    2. Oh

      We already are. We can’t supply a simple product like face masks or gloves when they’re needed.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      Being a developing nation would require a big commitment to infrastructure, both physical and social. I’m living in a country that has spent the last 40 years telling itself that the seedcorn is delicious and only nanny staters and tree huggers disagree.

      Robustness is my response to our current mania for efficiency, let’s put some slack in the system.

  1. Louis Fyne

    Re. spoiling produce…someone, i don’t care who (mayors, Trump, bill gates, walmart) needs to buy up the produce that’s being tossed and give it away

    Absolute travesty.

    1. Shonde

      There’s a huge egg producer that sells liquid eggs to restaurants and schools about 80 miles from me here in Minnesota. Last week I was told the companies refrigerated trucks was going from small town to small town giving away their products, first come first served.

      Maybe “Minnesota Nice” is the real deal.

  2. Tom Doak

    Personally, as one of the many Sanders supporters who thinks Biden is awful, his only chance of getting my vote would be picking Warren for VP. I know that she is not agreement-capable, but she is by far the most likely of the potential VP picks to try to do something [anything!] progressive — to burnish her credentials to be next up. Whereas most of the others suggested would toe the line and hope to be rewarded by the Party.

    Plus, it would be way fun to watch Warren debate Pence.

    Of course, that’s why none of the above is ever going to happen.

    1. Louis Fyne

      IMO,senators are awful crowd-pressing, kissing-babies, corndog-eating, mud-slinging retail politicans. as skills needed be a technocrat dont transfer to a White House run.

      JFK, Obama, Sanders are exceptions that prove the rule. (see HR clinton, Kerry, Gore)

      the lame VP short list shows how shallow the Dem bench is. ymmv.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The data point set is fairly limited and doesn’t prove much of a rule. Consider this:

        The “good” set:

        -JFK beat Henry Cabot Lodge and Boston Brahmin
        -Obama came out of Illinois, a winnable state for both parties, and polled ahead of Jack Ryan before his divorce proceedings were leaked.
        -Sanders took a long held GOP seat and held Team Blue at bay.

        The “bad” set:

        -Gore’s elected offices before being Bill’s running mate were seats held by his daddy (one of the most underrated Americans IMHO; the dude shows up anytime good legislation).
        -Kerry, a safe blue seat. He did push back on the Massachusetts machine, but he had a huge profile to do it.
        -HRC. She parachuted into a safe general race where there was a divided primary, not a singular candidate who could be the anti-carpet bagger candidate. She underperformed Gore against a guy who doesn’t even have a picture on Wikipedia. She opted for a NY despite the open Senate seat in Arkansas in 2002 where the outcome in the general was in doubt.

        I would argue the failures in the general come from bad lessons learned along the way. I might argue Vermont’s size probably taught Sanders too many bad lessons when dealing with the media. The Brattleboro Reformer is not MSNBC.

        I would go so far as to argue “the bad set” largely adopted Bill Clinton’s state strategy which can lead to wins at the state level but is useless at the national level short of a Perot style rebellion. Wal-Mart (or Tyson’s) might be Wal-Mart in Bettonville, but compared to DC and NYC, its just part of the larger noise. Microtargeting the electorate and trying the 2 for 1 vote loss strategy doesn’t work on the Presidential stage. Partisanship is too strong, and companies hold less loyalty at that level than they do on the state level.

        One problem Biden will have is he hasn’t run a real race since 1972. The media may have lifted him to the nomination, but he is clearly not ready for the spotlight that is now expected.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          If we take the two term GOP Presidents (stealing aside):

          -Shrub. Besides being a blacksheep, he beat Ann Richards who Hillary fans pretend Hillary is. Molly Ivins warned about this. He’s more capable as a politician than he’s credited.
          -Nixon and Reagan. Both state wide winngers from the left coast? We can point out the more accurate nature of California, but California is basically a large country on its own. Despite a state associated with Democratic party politics, two of the most successful Republican Presidents (successful in the sense they became President) came out of California.

          There are reasons to see JFK as new and ignore the ascendant GI generation in politics, but 1960 was marked by how capable both candidates were.

          In those Republicans, they demonstrated electoral capability.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        The short list IS dismal.

        I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say it’ll be either the klob or the booty-judge.

        If I had to pick right now, I’d probably go with the judge, but I’m not quite ready to bet the farm just yet.

        I’d say kamala gets the vp nod next time, or in the event that biden exits stage left ahead of schedule. Her little busing story that ended with “That little girl was me” is just a bridge too far for a candidate of biden’s extremely limited mental capacity.

    2. Big River Bandido

      Warren is repellent to many Sanders supporters, myself included.

      Then again, I won’t vote Democrat this fall in any event.

      1. John Beech

        I agree. Voted for Sanders in Central-Fl (and would have again in the general had he been the candidate) but now, I plan to vote for Trump.

        1. a different chris

          See I agree with your perspective on this. I don’t remember or completely missed your reasons for Sanders, but as a small businessman you probably are completely sick of the hassle of figuring out how to provide for medical care or the stomach-turning understanding that you can’t.

          Your other priorities, since you aren’t getting that, add up to a R vote. I am completely cool with that.

          It’s the people who wants to vote for Trump because they believe that will somehow “send a message to the Democrats” that makes me crazy. Sanders got 30% of real votes, and that didn’t send any messages we can see.

      2. BobW

        Wanted Sanders, will vote Green just to keep them ballot-eligible. Unless something big happens my state’s electors will go to Trump anyway.

        1. Arizona Slim

          Here in Arizona, our 2016 results went like this:

          In a first-place landslide, it was Did Not Vote! Trailing DNV, and trailing badly, it was DJT! Aka our current POTUS. In third, it was the most qualified candidate evah, Hillary Clinton!

        2. deplorado

          Good reminder about the Greens – keeping them on the ballot is important and fulfills our civic duty to not completely throw away the vote (I know the lesser evil camp will object but sorry).

    3. Painted Shut

      I agree with this and will go a step further: who Biden chooses as VP will tell the story of whether or not the Democrats actually want to win the White House in 2020.

      Warren is the best choice if Biden wants to win. It would represent an actual (although imperfect) olive branch to progressives. I think Warren can make the case that the collective disappointments to progressives (endorsing Clinton and Biden, kayfabe fight with Bernie, not dropping out timely, etc) were for the purpose of gaining access (VP) and then working within the system (end justifies the means). think that works with Warren supporters and probably enough Bernie supporters to matter numbers-wise for Biden.

      If he chooses Kamala, or Abrams, one of the other centrist brand names, it is likely for the purpose of hyping them for 2024, when they can run against a more conventional R opponent (ie, Marco Rubio). If he makes a Tim Kaine-type selection (say, Gretchen Whitmer), he is either running to lose, or his strategists are just dumb (as was the case with Hillary).

      Abrams at best adds strength where Biden is already strong. Black folks are already voting for him come November. No tangible appeal to demographics other than that. Also, if you can’t win the governorship in your own state…

      Kamala would appeal to… who, exactly? I think the cattyness in women voters and the hater in black voters would be drawn out, if anything. She seems like the type that would need to carry hot sauce in her purse, like Hillary Clinton, in an attempt to connect with southern black voters, even though she herself is black. I can’t see midwestern voters finding any sort of connection with her. So maybe NY and CA centrist elite democrats would like her? Again, adds strength where strength is not needed.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I disagree because it presumes these are rational actors.

        The neoliberals in Team Blue might not say this explicitly, but I don’t believe its farfetched to describe one aspect of their moral philosophy as, “Team Blue is ‘smart’ and ‘good’ therefore anything Team Blue does is ‘smart’ and ‘good’ “.

        These are “End of History” victors. Pelosi is goofing off and sharing her ice cream collection (does that dimwit know about freezer burn?) when 22 million people have successfully filed for unemployment in the last three weeks. Steny Hoyer doesn’t even think there is an emergency worthy of Congress’s time.

        I don’t disagree that they see Sanders as a greater threat than Trump, but they believe they are going to win.

        1. Astrid

          Amen. The only thing I’d vote 95% of Democratic politicians ( and 99% of Republican politicians) for is a date with Madame Guillotines. They’re pretty irredeemable, and Warren isn’t demonstrably better than the rest. She may occasionally talk progressive, but it’s all means testing, self serving lies, and taking opportunities to smother true progressive options wherever she finds them.

          1. Synoia

            I prefer the Lord High Executioner over Madame Guillotine.

            He’s not as efficient as Madame, sometimes he need a few swings to get his game correct.

        2. Painted Shut

          Trump is to Dem rice bowls as Abortion is to Rep rice bowls. Why didn’t Gorsuch/Kavanaugh move the needle on Roe v Wade? Because once they do, the evangelical one issue voters (comprised of more folks than you think) no longer need to be auto-Rep voters. Goodness knows, their other core philosophies are not exactly WWJD…

          But so also Trump. TDS helped propel the democrats in 2018 midterms, and would have the same effect in 2022; that is, greater than if Biden was in the White House. Also, if the democrats have the house and the presidency, they’ll actually have to govern, instead of 4 more years of impeachment hearings, Mueller reports, pearl clutching, etc.

          1. edmondo

            Not so sure that TDS helped the Dems in 2018 as much as you think.

            I personally voted for the D candidates (for the first time since 2008) downballot in an attempt to put some type of roadblock in Trump’s way. It was the TDS among the Dem elite I was counting on and give us some type of statis that wasn’t possible with Republicans in control of House, Senate and Oval Office.

      2. Laughingsong

        I don’t get this. Except for votes in a split senate, I would think that a VP can easily be sequestered or made relatively harmless. AFAIK there are few set functions, maybe I am wrong? Biden could choose Sanders himself and it still would not make me vote for him because I could see Sanders getting hamstrung, cornered and given a First Lady portfolio.

        People who know more about VP remit …. please comment.

        1. Ed Miller

          Sanders at VP: LMAO. Putting Sanders within a heartbeat of the Presidency would put both Republican and liberal Democrats into a near fatal pearl clutching episode. Never happen.

          I expect the VP on the ticket to be the person who can keep things “steady”, as the donor class desires, once JB can no longer handle the job. I doubt he can go 4 years unless his team can pull a 2nd term Reagan operation.

          1. BlakeFelix

            Well, since Biden said he would nominate a woman, and with the woke ID Pol people trans women and drag queens are in style, and since Biden should pivot right for the general after running left in the primary, I think that it all points to Mitt Romney in drag. Who better to fix Obama Care?

      3. voteforno6

        I think a lot of people are looking at this election through the lens of the 2016 election, just as too many people looked at 2016 through the lens of 2012. We don’t know what this country will look like in November. Things could be so bad that pretty much anyone could beat Trump, even Biden. Besides, it’s not like Trump is that strong of a candidate, anyway.

      4. John Beech

        Painted Shut makes a cogent and compelling argument. Well reasoned, sir (or ma’am).

        Doesn’t matter to me because with Sanders out, I’m not voting Team Blue.

    4. L

      Yeah, I am in agreement with you.

      Unfortunately this is still a party run by people who think Biden is safe. They will probably pick Harris. She is a terrible choice with a massive amount of baggage around her failure to prosecute fraud in 2008 and her willingness to send kids to jail. She has a less than substantive record as a Senator, and she is unpopular in her home state. Sounds like a perfect match for him.

      1. The Rev Kev

        How about Michelle? She has “charm”, she has “recognition” and she can even talk in complete sentences. She’ll even bring her own lollies to chuck to the peons. As a bonus, you get Obama himself through the backdoor to put his steady hand of the Biden administration in the same way that he kept his hand on the DNC for the last coupla years. Now would that not be something?

    5. TXMama

      For me the least objectionable VP candidate would be Warren. However I expect it to be Michelle because she has the star power to bring in all those still in love with the Obamas.

      1. edmondo

        Wall Street hates Warren. Biden has no campaign chest. Biden needs Wall Street more than he needs Warren. It won’t be Liz.

        Michelle would give the PMC orgasms. The only reason she might take it is to have her and Barrack as the first husband-and-wife presidential team so she can piss off Hillary.

    6. John k

      While I now think she’s awful, I don’t think there’s a chance Biden’s pac would allow it…quite simple, they prefer a pres trump, to pres Warren, simply bc nobody can trust her.
      Honest crooks stay bought. With her nobody knows.
      Meanwhile, would she actually support any progressive position that has enormous Corp pushback? I doubt it.
      So I stay with my thought that the best hope for a progressive is 2024, and then not if a dem right winger like Biden or Harris Or globuchard is in office.

    7. Koldmilk

      Personally, as one of the many Sanders supporters who thinks Biden is awful, his only chance of getting my vote would be picking Warren for VP.

      As a Sanders supporter, Biden is only getting my vote if he picks Sanders for VP.

  3. Grizziz

    I for one, see the DNC pick for VP will be accepted by many voters as the person to accede to the Presidency almost immediately, if they can even stand up Biden to take his oath. So, the 25th amendment will be at the forefront of the choice of VP. The Karen Empowerment Movement of privileged and professional women are going to see the VP as an opportunity to break the glass ceiling and snatch the prize. I don’t blame them, but it is going to be very difficult to find a candidate that blends the maternal/paternal archetypes in such a way that gender is not the defining focus.
    That, and of course, all the genetic phenotyping present in the appearance of the candidate.

    1. ambrit

      This is a natural, and even more cunning a plan than any I would have spun out in one of my opium fits.
      (1): Hillary Clinton as Veep to Biden.
      (2): Michelle Obama as Speaker of the House. The Speaker does not have to be a member.
      (3): Invoke 25th Amendment.
      (4): HRH HRC ascends to POTUS.
      (5): Michelle ‘O’ becomes Veep. (“The Story of “O” in the Swampland???”)
      (6): Two Mommies Rule! The Neo-Matriarchy arrives! (Matriarchy doesn’t mean what you thought it did.)

      1. Bsoder

        Begs the question, two actually, is there any proof the country wants a female VP? Second is there any proof that racist, bigoted, & sexist men (Women seem to have their issues about supporting women, I suppose there’s hop) simply as a matter of principle would vote against a female candidate? As to the second question, the answer is sure is, his name is trump. The reasons for voting for a trump like guy, including trump himself, have not alas gone away. actually things are worse, trump worshippers are now using germ warfare on others they oppose.

        1. Painted Shut

          Plenty of evangelicals do not believe that women should occupy this sort of place of authority. 1 Timothy 2:11-15

        2. ambrit

          I’ll suggest that the DNC is secretly pushing for an early re-opening of the country so as to create a second wave of infections and fatalities just before the November vote. This lot have demonstrated time and time again their disdain for the “lower orders” who do their chores for them. This can be spun as a failure on Trump’s part and thus reason enough to “throw the bum out.”
          My suggestion of HRH HRC as Veep to Biden is based on her overwhelming ambition and sense of entitlement. Nothing about the gender of the Veep would matter if the nation were suffering through a second wave of fear and death, and if that wave were successfully blamed on Trump. Dread Lord Cthulhu could win in those circumstances.

          1. Tom Doak

            I don’t see that here in MI. Our Democrat governor seems to want to play it ultra safe, although being mentioned as a potential VP pick may affect her thinking.

            In fact, it’s likely that Trump called out MI and MN today so that if Whitmer or Amy! are the VP nominee, he can paint them as being opposed to freedom.

          2. Briny

            I would love to vote for Dread Lord Cthulhu long before I’d vote for that ticket! Not that it matters in this state (Cali).

    2. Bob

      How does anyone allow a candidate with dementia to run for President?
      Perhaps they should have chosen a donkey. At least a donkey is a beautiful beast with a gentile heart.

      1. a different chris

        >How does anyone allow a candidate with dementia to run for President?

        Because he’ll do what they tell him.

        “No Joe, you agreed to that. Don’t you remember?”.

        Unfortunately even a lucid Joe will anyway agree to what the rightmost of the Democratic Party wants to do, so in this case it doesn’t really matter.

        But the world list of senile ruler puppets is pretty extensive. As we quickly drop thru the 2nd world to 3rd world status it is no surprise to pick up on that.

      2. Mark Gisleson

        If you view Biden as a placeholder, it makes perfect sense. Ideally they’ll wait until after the convention and then on Labor Day weekend Joe will have a medical issue and his veep will assume his position at the top of the ticket and before the left starts rioting, Biden’s veep will pick a new veep who is actually well regarded and highly thought of. Which won’t make any difference because Biden’s veep will be young and healthy, count on it.

        This may be a cynical take but it’s the scenario I see.

        1. ambrit

          I’ll suggest that the choice of Veep depends on which faction wins the internal power struggle in the DNC; the Obama faction or the Clinton faction.

        2. pete

          I dont think Biden is going let it go that easy. He really wants it he just feels entitled which is why he isnt running hard.

  4. jo6pac

    “The Bezzle: “Senators Accuse Airlines of Holding Billions in Customer Funds” [Bloomberg]. “Airlines in the U.S. that have halted flights are holding more than $10 billion in customer money while offering credits for future travel instead of cash refunds, a group of senators charged Friday.” • Markey, Warren, Blumenthal.”

    The senator complaint will be met with lobbyist dumping cash into their campaign funds and not returned the customers. It’s business as usual.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Right before that SHTF, I booked a flight to Houston. And, well, let’s just say that the people I was planning to meet had a problem with the timing. So, I cancelled the flight.

        No refund.

        1. carl

          FWIW, you can easily file a complaint with DOT. Takes a couple of minutes, and DOT promises to contact the airline about it.

  5. boydownthelane

    First off, Lambert: Kudos on a particularly outstanding edition of “the cooler”. Meaty, detailed, cognitively-stimulating.

    Secondly, a personal comment with regard to that last piece from Damon Linker: “… A life without forward momentum is to a considerable extent a life without purpose — or at least the kind of purpose that lifts our spirits and enlivens our steps as we traverse time. Without the momentum and purpose, we flounder. A present without a future is a life that feels less worth living, because it’s a life haunted by a shadow of futility.”

    I’m an old phart who was disabled by dual heart surgery/stroke issues 12 years ago and I got bed-rolled into SS disability which morphed into Medicare. I’ve spent my time at the keyboard while I rehabilitated enough to be able to hobble out to a car with my photography gear and practice a new found fading-into-death hobby/pastime of street and landscape photography. I’ve assembled a body of instructional material, the accounts, a plan, and a master plan for where to spend my limited cash if and when I can actually leave the house.

    Even when one has put his life into a coasting downhill glide, forward momentum is all.

    “If you ain’t busy living, you’re busy dying.”

    1. periol

      Maybe materialism isn’t all that?

      Seems to me our society could use a rethink on a few things. There’s too much utilitarianism creeping into discussion of coronavirus. Utility is not required for meaning, in fact it may even get in the way. Linker’s quote feels like a step down the slippery slope of sacrificing the weak and the old for the sake of the economy.

      I posted this on the links thread, but there’s a poll in England that shows lots of people there do not share Linker’s reaction to the lockdown.


      A guy on reddit wrote up a breakdown of the numbers in the article:

      54% of people will make a change in their own life due to what they have learned from COVID-19.
      42% of people expressed a greater value towards food.
      38% of people expressed a desire to take up cooking.
      61% are spending less money
      51% have noticed cleaner air, while 27% have noticed a greater abundance of wildlife.
      40% notice a stronger sense of local community.
      39% say they are spending more time connecting with distant family members.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Yours is most uplifting comment I have seen in a while. I hope the guy on reddit is right. Back to ‘normal’ after Corona will not be be the same as before, and that could be a good thing.

      2. The Rev Kev

        That is the most dangerous aspect of lockdown. It is giving people time to think and to reflect. To evaluate decisions that they have made. It was noted several weeks ago that after lockdown a lot of couples in China went for divorce but if you stop and think about it, this story may have just been a canary in a coal mine signal.

        1. Massinissa

          I mean, if those chinese couples dislike each other so much they can’t handle being around each other for two weeks, maybe they’re better off getting divorced.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I think that they were locked down for a coupla months so it was full on. I always said that if you want to know if a couple are going to last, send them away for a coupla months on a trip together as it will make or break them. And this is similar.

            1. Redlife2017

              Ha ha! Mr Redlife came to the same conclusion many years ago. He has suggested to couples that they go away together to places that would require effort and be culturally stressful. We did the same thing early on in our marriage (we went to Togo) and found that we really liked each other. We both found out how we respond to stress and things not being like what we were used to. So being locked up has actually been OK.

      3. Arizona Slim

        Here in Tucson — and in my neighborhood — the sense of local community is off the charts. I’m really proud of this town.

        For me, personally? I’m noticing a deepening of previously existing friendships. And let’s just say that I’ve also been quite busy in the kitchen. Looking forward to sharing my culinary chops with friends!

  6. Tom Stone

    Joe just doesn’t float my boat.

    Maybe he should choose Rachel Maddow as his running mate?
    Someone who could get those soccer Moms excited….

  7. Bsoder

    So here we are: Rome had a plague, the Antonine plague, the Roman empire was ruled by Marcus Aurelius, a “very smart guy”, whose ‘Meditations’ still racks up healthy sales a full 1,840 years after his death. At the time of our plague, the coronavirus19, the US is ruled by Donald Trump, a unhinged realtor whose ‘The Art of the Deal’… which at present has no value now and won’t in 1,840 years .

    While thousands get sick and die everyday: Pressed repeatedly on Thursday to tell his supporters who are flouting the lockdown to stay at home, Trump said: “They seem to be protesters that like me and respect my opinion.” So, unfortunately, he couldn’t bring himself to say ‘at least follow the law in the state they live’, thus ensuring people not only kill themselves but innocent people as well.

    1. Carolinian

      It’s not “just the flu” but it’s not “just the plague” either. Indeed it’s surely closer to the former than the latter. Cholera, bubonic…these are quite horrible.

      And those “innocent people” have a big role in protecting themselves in my opinion. When I go in a grocery store now I wear a mask.

      1. Astrid

        And when there is cheap and plentiful N95 masks, hands sanitizers, gloves, goggles, and face shield, then maybe they can be able to be innocent in your eyes.

        1. MLTPB

          It’s hard to get it exactly right.

          Some could be too early, some too late. A price to pay either way…maybe not the same amount….and uncertain which will be more expensive..

        2. Darius

          N95 masks are of use only for professional purposes, like for healthcare workers. Civilians should wear cloth masks in public to avoid spreading around the virus if they are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, which means they don’t know they’re infected. Masks block many of the droplets one expels from the mouth and nose. They also may reduce the distance the remaining droplets travel. Wearing a cloth mask is just common courtesy. It’s also a public health measure.

          We should have an aggressive testing and tracing program. But we don’t. The least we could do is all of us wearing masks when we go out of the house. Oh, and wash your hands.

      2. MLTPB

        Greenland had zero active cases a few days ago.

        Ideally, they would go into Tokugawa Japan’s sakoku. But in a real world today, is it possible?

        Is it always about compromising, balancing needs, etc.

        Spain and Italy are talking relaxing. As are a few other nations.

        China lifted Wuhan, even as another city was later locked down. And there are more and more cases near their Russian border.

        Singapore did well early. Six days ago, they locked down.

        Can France relax and not get hit from Germany if they are not a different part of the curve?

        So many questions.

    2. zagonostra

      “the US is ruled by Donald Trump”

      The reality is that there is a permanent State – Shadow Government, Deep State, Ruling Elites, Political Elites, etc… Matt Taibbi points out in his book, Hate Inc., wonderfully illustrated by the cover of Hannity and Maddow on the cover, the game that is being played on voters in having them think they have public policy choices when in reality they don’t. I highly recommend Michael Parenti’s book “Democracy for the Few” written in 1977 and still as true now as it was when he wrote it.

      There are power plays between corporate interest that vie for a bigger pint of ice cream, true, but that’s just the froth at the top. The bottom is the mass of humanity that struggle for a decent life, never quite being able to break the bondage of economic pressure or the leisure to reflect. Like a post earlier on the Florentine plague where the ruling families feared that feeding the poor was detrimental to their privileged position. You need that tinge of hunger in their bellies to keep their shoulders to the wheel.

      When Sanders came along, many fell into a state of “suspension of disbelief” and donated money and got involved in convincing friends and families on this or that aspect of why they should vote for him, but now the lights are back on and personally, I don’t think I’ll watch that movie again for a long time to come.

      So some want the movie to go on a bit more. Let’s see who the Dem VP is, will Sleepy Joe make to the November, will there be debates, will the polls be open, etc…good fun to watch, too bad I know the ending…at least this time around.

      1. L

        Good point. Eric Hoeffer, author of “The True Believer” once noted that the two most conservative groups in the world are the very well off, who need things to stay as they are, and the desperately poor, who cannot afford to lose what little they have.

        It is no accident that the plutocrats fight tooth and nail against any sort of support. And no accident that the PRC has faced its’ greatest challenges from the rising middle class.

      2. nippersdad

        Re: “Will there be debates.”

        That is about the only thing left in this process that still interests me. I’m betting there will be debates, just because I can see Trump debating an empty podium to a right wing chorus of “wake Joe up!” several times on cable television. He is a showman, and that would be a show worth watching.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Here are the daily new case numbers embedded in the chart:
      5-Apr 155
      6-Apr 173
      7-Apr 138
      8-Apr 178
      9-Apr 129
      10-Apr 183
      11-Apr 145
      12-Apr 128
      13-Apr 87
      14-Apr 127
      15-Apr 166
      16-Apr 154
      17-Apr 170
      From 4/10-4/13, the trendline is definitely down. But the data is kind of noisy.

  8. Toshiro_Mifune

    the cognitive dissonance between 4,591 US virus deaths in a single day and escalating demands for the economy

    I don’t see cognitive dissonance here. Especially if we’re talking about the individual working people who have been calling for the re-opening the economy. They face a dire choice;
    1- Go back to work and take a chance on getting COVID, yes and spreading it.
    2- Stay in quarantine and out of work living off of your dwindling and probably non-existent savings, rapidly approaching the point where you wouldn’t be able to feed your kids or pay the rent. How long can you go living off of credit card debt and being late on car payments?**
    They live in a system that is currently only offering them 2 choices. #2 is a certainty for some of them. #1 is a risk they may have to take.
    If you were a carpenter in Michigan making $40k a year what you do ?

    ** – Yes, these are all arguments that the current system they live under is unjust and needs to change. However, it is what they are stuck with.

    1. bob

      I agree. Many of the experts calling for continued lockdown are federal employees with a guaranteed salary and pension or elites with no financial worries. many of the people I speak to are more afraid of the total economic collapse of their life and dying slowly in poverty than of Covid

      1. marym

        Many of the non-expert politicians, media, and “protest” instigators calling for “opening up” aren’t calling for workplace protections (though people who are still working are getting sick and dying), wearing masks, testing, or adequate supplies of medical and protective gear. They’re no more concerned with the economic collapse and dying of working people than any elites who are calling for stay-at-home measures without providing the income, benefits, and services people need to survive.

        1. John Wright

          Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, but suggest this as another possible wrinkle in the “get the economy moving again” plan..

          Businesses may also modulate their willingness to open up with their perceived exposure to legal action from employees or their families who can subsequently be shown to have been harmed by Covid-19 acquired at the workplace due to negligence by the employer.

          This could put a wealthy corporation into a far more careful “open up with protections in place” mode than, say, a small business that has little equity and hence little downside legal risk.

          One can imagine future legal ads on television: “Get the money you deserve for disability/death caused by Covid-19 acquired at your workplace, call 1-800-COV-ID19”

          Of course, if the political class decides to exempt businesses from this potential legal liability, all bets are off.

          1. marym

            I tried to post this yesterday but can’t find if it posted. Anyway, business execs apparently told Trump testing is necessary. They also have a “concern” about liability.

            “Mr. Trump opened the call by saying that “testing is under control” in the country. But after each executive was given a minute or two to provide his or her overview of what was needed to reopen the economy, there was a wide consensus that more testing was needed before the economy could reopen, according to two people who participated on the call…

            Another issue of great concern to the executives on the call, one participant said, was the need to address the liability companies could face if employees got sick after returning to work, given the possibility that workers who felt that they were brought back too soon — or were not placed in a safe environment — could sue en masse.”


    2. tongorad

      Even the conservative UK government is supporting workers.
      That can’t happen here? I’m not sure, but I know that TINA attitudes and platitudes don’t help.

    3. rowlf

      This all sounds like a wonderful time for union organizers to go around asking “Are you working in a safe work environment? Would you like to? Yeah, OSHA makes workplaces safe just like DHS keeps companies from hiring undocumented workers. Here’s a card.”

  9. JTMcPhee

    “ for liberal empire opening markets has always meant mass death.”

    Baron Vladimir Harkonnen: “A certain amount of killing has always been an arm of business.” See also Upton Sinclair.

    I wonder if it might become a thing that people, ordinary people, infected with Covid-19, will be walking up to CEOs, billionaires, politicians, and pointedly coughing in their faces… That set of people have no problem making the mopes work in conditions that almost assure that the virus will spread to them. “Let them eat mucus!”

    Though I’m sure the private security armies that protect these monsters have gamed this out already as a threat… Maybe some of those mercenaries, if afflicted by the virus in service to their aristocrats, will go all Sikh (as in India Gandhi) on their lords and ladies… So many threats, so little simple decency.

    1. HotFlash

      You talking suicide coughers?

      If my choice were starve or die of CoViD, I think I might want to take someone with me. For instance, those ‘deep cleaners’, probably minimum wage? Ya think they have health care? Families? Somebody they love sick or dead? Might they just spit on some important person’s desk or kitchen counter? Two week incubation time? Hard to trace that…

  10. Painted Shut

    but to innocent bystanders they infected

    I don’t subscribe to the “innocent versus guilty party” trope that continues to pervade discussions of coronavirus transmission.

    Unless the infector broke into the home of the infectee and gave him/her the coronavirus, there are no innocent bystanders. Both parties chose to leave their home. The infector was there, in public, but SO ALSO was the infectee. And who is the decider as to which of the two (or neither, or both) was doing something “essential”?

    Don’t want to get infected – stay home.

    1. Isotope_C14

      There are people who are forced to show up at places like Hospitals. A place I worked would infuse Tysabri for an hour into the body of an MS patient, I certainly would call these people innocent.

      They don’t really have another choice, MS is pretty awful. If you stop treatment, which I believe is monthly pretty much ensures a relapse.

      Nuclear power plant employees are pretty essential, cause if you leave them alone (the power plant) they explode.

      Perhaps it’s not a trope?

      1. Painted Shut

        It’s a trope. You cited a couple of activities you deemed essential, but really anything that contributes to the survival of an individual and their family can also be considered essential.

        And if there are innocent bystanders, the implication is that the infector is guilty. The problem with that line of thinking is, the infector, unless they were the one that bit the pangolin in Wuhan, was once an innocent bystander that got infected too.

        Again, slippery slope when we start trying to decide what is essential/nonessential and by extension, who is innocent/guilty.

        1. Astrid

          There’s a difference between systemically important services and what’s important to you personally. And again, are you personally dying of hunger or thirst or disease at this moment? That’s what those people with systemically important jobs are preventing happening to everybody.

          1. Painted Shut

            Okay but the innocent bystanders quote was relative to the WI election. No election role is life and death.

            And I think what you’re saying is, there is essential work to be done, but not necessarily essential workers.

    2. Astrid

      By making more of the population infected, you’re increasing the likelihood of essential workers and whose who must go outside will get infected.

    3. HotFlash

      Both parties chose to leave their home.

      Ah, the libertarian’s argument about wage slavery! As if starving, or seeing your family starve or be homeless, is a free choice. Got it!

    4. JBird4049

      “Don’t want to get infected – stay home.” What a sweetly logically anodyne, bloodless description of a false choice.

      Sweet Jesus, have you ever been hungry? So hungry that you get faint when standing up quickly? Or just faint? That it is a full time job just to ignore it? (Poverty is a blast, let me tell yah!)

      Suppose you had people depending on you for that food as well as many Americans do. Regardless of who was the infector or the infectee food is essential to life especially when hunger can weaken people enough to kill them from an infection. This is the reason food shortages often cause death from diseases that people would have otherwise survived.

      Nobody is disposable and we can all argue forever about what is essential work, but many, perhaps millions, of Americans are being forced to choose between work, money, food, shelter, medicine, and disease because they have no other choice; these choices affects everyone around them who themselves have to face the same choices.

  11. Carey

    Covid19: criminalising & pathologising dissent- Catte Black

    “Let’s start with a little thought experiment.

    It’s the 14th century. The Black Death is surging through Europe. One third of the total population is dead or dying.

    One in three people. Dead or dying.

    Everyone knows someone who is sick. Everyone has lost someone. Whole families have been wiped out. There are not enough living and healthy to get in the harvest, which rots in the fields.

    One morning, as you leave your cottage to get some water from the well for you and your one surviving child you see a stranger in the middle of the village green, robed in tawdry rags and speaking to anyone who will listen.

    “This plague is a lie”, he says, “it’s nothing but the normal winter fever, and you have nothing to fear”.

    “Don’t be a fool”, you reply. “The winter fever doesn’t carry off a third of my village and all but one of my children. The winter fever doesn’t cause strange swellings and festerings and a cough that no one can live through”.

    And you walk on to the well, get your water and go home, ignoring him.

    And everyone else in the village ignores him too. As does the Lord of the Manor.

    Because this man is obviously crazed. Let him babble his nonsense for as long as he pleases, it can’t change the experiential reality of your lives. You know the Black Death is real and new and something to be uniquely feared. You have seen it with your own eyes.

    Now suppose it’s some other time or place or dimension. And the Lord of the Manor conceives some poorly formed idea that the people he rules are out of control, too numerous, too lax – it doesn’t matter what his reasoning is. He wants them under tighter control, he wants them more reliant on him for food and hope. He sees profit for himself, or increased power. Or he truly believes he is saving the people from themselves.

    So he announces that this year’s winter fever is something new and deadly that will kill a third of the population if people don’t do as he says.

    Maybe he’s lying. Maybe he believes it. Maybe that part doesn’t matter.

    Stay home, he says, let the harvest rot in the fields. If you go out you will die. I will send you food from my granary. I will save you.

    So people stay home and let the harvest rot and get their allowance of food from the Lord’s granary, which turns out not to be quite enough actually.

    One day you go out to get water for your seven healthy, but quite hungry, children, and you see a stranger on the village green.

    “This plague is a lie”, he says, “it’s nothing but the normal winter fever, and you have nothing to fear”.

    You pause, and listen. And you think…wait a minute, I haven’t seen anyone die of this plague, except old Master Wyvern, who was eight and eighty, and sick with consumption…

    Now what do you do?..”


    1. Redlife2017

      Except I know someone who’s cousin died of this. A young cousin with young children. So, uh, yeah…it is real and kills people. Even non-old farts.

      I think the writer is someone who is lucky. Never doubt luck, but never press it either.

      1. Monty

        I think there is probably some major crossover between the new virus denial and existing flat earther online communities. Similar mindset. Very disturbing to see it so prevalent here.

        1. Massinissa

          If corona denialism is so bad on a place like NC I’m terrified to see what’s going on on, say, conservative blogs.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Stepson and daughter in law appear to have it, their kids may have had it too. She’s a grade school teacher, kids are 2 and 5. She’s out of the hospital Recovering from pneumonia, he has pneumonia though still walking around.

        Pretty close to home.

    2. Astrid

      Of course, those corpses and people on ventilators in Italy, Spain, and New York are just actors, hired by our reptiloid overlords to convince us to starve ourselves to death.

      Except that Congress did so something, under influences of Wyden and Bernie, there will be improved unemployment insurance for a little while. A lot of banks are giving loan forgiveness or loans. So while the situation is very bad and getting worse when you consider the haves and have nots on the other end, it’s not as immediately dire as these agitators are painting it.

      And re opening everything up isn’t going to change the balance between haves and have nots, the haves already gotten their trillions while the have nots will still be scrabbling in GDII. Reopening now just means the actual care giving part of healthcare industry will be completely destroyed, the elderly will die, many many young people too or go bankrupt/debilitated because some idiots are too impatient to wait for protocols that improve survivability or at least more PPE availablity. And real, humane solutions such as UBI and m4a continue to be ignored

    3. a different chris

      Ok that is just enough.

      One of my lifetime best friends beloved brother just died from COVID-19.

      So stop with this complete crap. I don’t care if you don’t know anybody who died of it. I do.

      Or did.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Obviously. They collectively are pushing the planetary ecology that nurtures them right up to the edge of mass death for us humans, and have already killed off what, billions of populations of other species that the scientists who are keeping score on this know of?

        John Galt has no limits, of course…

  12. You're soaking in it!

    Joe Biden must pick a progressive black woman as VP

    Dr. Davis may be available, and has some experience there, they should give her a call! Come to think of it, I may be voting for her in any case.

    1. richard

      Joe Biden must pick a progressive black woman as VP

      I’d love if he picked Angela Davis too, but also, let’s take a second to appreciate the Liberal Idpol Rule Making Entitlement of that sentence
      those f$#^ers love making up an “order” that will never, ever come into being because they’re hopeless at power and also clearly not trying
      Any policy that would make them popular with ordinary people, anything universal
      they must decline because that would make them popular with the wrong sort of folk

  13. Pelham

    Re those regions where states are cooperating to fight the pandemic: What’s needed most on the economic side is money going into the pockets of residents. Since nothing of the sort appears to be forthcoming from Congress or Nancy Pelosi’s freezer, maybe these regions ought to consider issuing their own currencies.

    Individual states are constitutionally forbidden from issuing currencies. But perhaps regions could. And if there were still some legal obstacle, screw that. Go ahead. These regional shekels (or tally sticks, maybe!) could be used internally to keep at least a modest number of cogs turning. And the effort all by itself would serve as a giant repudiation of federal fumbling.

    1. L

      They could also issue executive orders changing qualifications for state services, eliminating utility shut offs and evictions and even use state funds to deliver free food. Some states have done a few of these.

      1. We're all better off when we're all better off

        “Qualifications for state services” — the citizen-consumer or the corporation-provider? “Changing qualifications” for the provider has been proposed in the very good and short book “Foundational Economy.” It’s by a group of British economists who have considerable experience with privatized profit-seeking providers.

    2. a different chris

      >Individual states are constitutionally forbidden from issuing currencies. But perhaps regions could.

      And what exactly forbids them? The law, of course.

      The Left Coast is becoming very interesting. Those states are very blue overall. The blue parts hate Trump and would like to give him the biggest middle finger possible. Yet the red pockets are as deep red as they come. However, it is the type of libertarian red that, although solid Trump supporters, would just love to issue their own currency and even shrink the nation to a more manageable size.

      Seems like we might have a meeting of minds here. The Law only works when the people support it. Once they don’t, it’s a dead letter.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Blues mostly don’t do guns and violence. Reds have a little more of that overall. As things shrink and divvy up, any betting on what the “ethnic cleansing” will look like? For sure, there will be demagogues ready and able to lead the charge.

        An old history prof maintained that “America” was just an idea supported by shared myths, and being a kind of nihilist (I guess) thought it was his job to smash those myths and make us look at ourselves as we really are. He was an early adopter of multimedia presentations, movies back then, slide shows, speeches and music. He had a nicely formed apocalyptic view of how it will all come apart. it was pretty convincing stuff.

        I’m hoping he was wrong and that maybe this “Gaia’s Time Out” will let us get some kind of comity and collective act together. Reading here today, it’s hard to see how this is going to happen. Of course n = maybe a couple of dozen or so, self-selected, so maybe not a representative sample.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          New Cats are Pro Gun. It’s the Gen Xrs and some Professional Millennials that have a problem.

          The Blue and Red activists need to unite in common cause.

    3. Fraibert

      There’s a serious wrinkle here, alas, though the basic idea is interesting.

      My guess is the IRS will probably, as it did with Bitcoin etc., conclude that any sort of regional scrip counts as property and not as currency. (It’s probably the case some state tax laws would come to the same conclusion as they stand.)

      Once your “currency” is treated as personal property for income tax reasons, it becomes effectively useless as a legal means of exchange because you need to keep track of the fair market value (in dollars) of the “currency” each time you acquire or spend it in order to calculate taxable income.

  14. L

    On a different note I called my Senator’s office to push (again) for Medicare For All. Under the circumstances I though maybie, just maybie, they might be more open to things. I had a very nice conversation with the one woman working there who politely told me that everyone already has access to high quality healthcare and so there is no need to do anything.

    It took some time but I was, I think, able to persuade her that perhaps a smidgen of the 22 million new unemployed might have lost access to some of their employer-sponsored coverage (if they had it). Ultimately she accepted that perhaps this was a thing the Senator should think about and promised to let him know when he comes in to the office.

    1. John

      Those Senators don’t give a sh$t whether any of us have healthcare, or a job, or a roof over our heads. And that’s the truth.

  15. kareninca

    Random info from Silicon Valley, and elsewhere.
    Our population in Santa Clara county is about 2 million. We were supposed to be a hot spot, due to our innumerable contacts with China, and also by CA standards the population density here is high. But so far in the whole county we have only had about 65 deaths from covid, and only about 185 people are presently hospitalized for it. I’m sure there is undercounting, but still this is really, really low. What is going on?

    The low disease rates aren’t due to people obeying social distancing rules, at least in my experience. I know a number of people who have not changed their daily routines at all. One still goes to our volunteer site every day and works on the computers and deals with the inventory, and he is not alone there. He has stopped taking the bus and is walking instead, that is something. Several others have taken up shopping as a hobby. They are going shopping two or three times a day, because it is something that is allowed. No, they are not wearing masks or gloves, although it is the sheer number of (pointless) shopping outings that is the real issue I think. One woman I know went to the post office a couple of days ago to mail some Marmite to a relative. She told me that she thanked the postal counter person for being there, working, ugh. If the postal person had known the sheer stupidity of the risk, I would hope they would have clobbered her with the package. By the way these people are all liberals, and almost all atheists/agnostics, which is one reason I get tired of the “dumbass conservative Christians” meme that keeps being spread.

    I have learned a couple of things about shopping. I have a 72 y.o. friend who simply refuses to sign up to shop online. It turns out that it is not just that he likes shopping (although he does); it is also that although he lives in a “safe” neighborhood in San Mateo, his condo is not safe for purposes of package deliveries. They often get stolen. So that keeps him from ordering things.

    I was feeling sorry for myself about the Trader Joe’s lines that I have to stand in (due to a miserable but ultimately trivial health issue that make it really unpleasant for me), but then I drove past the line outside at the Walmart in Mountain View. It stretched on forever and forever and then some more. I had already given up ever going to Walmart because even cheap things are in locked cases (due to the “no arrest” system for thefts under $900). It would be really horrible to have to wait in that line.

    I’ve always bought the cheapest tolerable version of whatever, because I’m really frugal. But now I’m sometimes buying fancier versions of things like pickles. Since the cheapest versions of things run out fast now, and it matters more to other people to be able to get the cheapest version. So if there are only a small pile of a cheap version of spaghetti, I’ll leave it alone and buy the fancy version. This goes against a lifetime of habit.

    My hometown in CT is so entirely unfashionable that it hasn’t had a single case yet. A New Yorker wouldn’t be caught dead there.

    Time seems to be passing differently now. Since I’m in my 50s, time has seemed for a while now to go by quickly. And individual days still are. But this month is a very, very slow month. It seems as if this month is crawling by.

    1. Carey

      I hear you, kareninca. Today’s stats for my region of San Luis Obispo County CA:

      As of 4/17/20 at 12:30 pm

      127 Confirmed cases
      16 Home
      107 Recovered
      3 Hospitalized (2 in ICU)
      1 Death (total)

      Nineteen active cases; hospitalization reached a high of ten here on 31 March, and have stayed at two or three for the last week or so.


      1. kareninca

        Okay, now we have the answer. Or part of it, anyway. The results of the Stanford antibody study have come out: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.14.20062463v1. They tested 3000 randomly chosen people in Santa Clara county, and estimate based on that that between 48,000 and 81,000 people have had covid (and nearly all of them were presumably fine). So the percentage of people who get this who get a bad version seems to be very small. Of course, this county has a relatively young and healthy population. And we are not squished together like New Yorkers. Still, this is very cheering overall.

        Now we need to figure out how to protect nursing home residents and workers, health care workers, and people with underlying health problems.

        1. Monty

          73 dead from ~73,000 cases. 1 in 1000 is similar to seasonal flu, but the death toll is rising quite fast, +45% this week.

          1. Briny

            It seems, for most, the symptoms are quite mild to nonexistent . However, if they are in the rare case severe, your odds of death are extremely high. Hospitalization and preexisting conditions are the keys, methinks.

            That’s my read from the actual epidemiological numbers.

        2. garden breads

          This study used a biased self-selected population not a random sample, rendering the results useless. I’m really surprised because these researchers should know better. First these were
          people who saw and respond to Facebook ads. More importantly, people who would volunteer for COVID screening may be those more likely to have been exposed themselves – who know people infected, or work or shop or live in a complex or on a block where cases were reported, or themselves had some mild symptoms, etc. This would not be fixed by their demographic adjustments.

          “We recruited participants by placing targeted advertisements on Facebook aimed at residents of Santa Clara County. We used Facebook to quickly reach a large number of county residents and because it allows for granular targeting by zip code and sociodemographic characteristics We used a combination of two targeting strategies: ads aimed at a representative population of the county by zip code, and specially targeted ads to balance our sample for under-represented zip codes. … The survey asked for sixdata elements: zip code of residence, age, sex, race/ethnicity, underlying co-morbidities, and prior clinical symptoms.”

        1. The Rev Kev

          There was one person in that twitter thread that said something interesting when Coronavirus is compared to car accidents-

          Yaseen Saloo

          A person In my school got hit by a car accident and passed it to 47 people of which 4 of those are currently on a Ventilator. The shut the school but it was too late, they think hundreds more may suffer from car accidents in the coming days.

          1. MLTPB

            Maybe more like a college student driver on drugs.

            And 47 others caught the same bad habit. 4 of them hurt themselves or others critically due doing those drugs.

            They shut the party too late. They think hundreds more may be driving to more parties with those drugs in the coming days.


            1. Wukchumni

              I long for the care free days of drug addiction, where killing yourself with Fentanyl was merely elective, not an invisible stalker.

            2. The Rev Kev


              A person In my school accidentally drowned and passed it to 47 people drowning of which 4 of those are currently on a Ventilator. The shut the school but it was too late, they think hundreds more may suffer from accidental drownings in the coming days.

              The law of exponential growth with a virus is not a thing to be ignored.

        2. Carey

          Yes, we’ve been hearing “just wait two weeks!” for close to two months now.

          If your linked chart’s numbers are correct, it’s all moot: we’ll all be dead in a few months, regardless.


          1. Monty

            Utter nonsense.
            2 months ago there were only 15 cases and zero deaths in the USA. Trump was telling everyone there was no danger of it spreading. Now there’s over 700k confirmed cases and almost 40k deaths.

              1. Monty

                I’m from London originally. The news there looks extremely grim to me. I am concerned for my old friends and family. I’ve got a lot of relatives who would be right in the covid 19 crosshairs there. My cousin’s in laws whole family caught it skiing in March. The mum and dad still not 100% after a month.

                Here in AZ there’s not a big outbreak yet, although the deaths are rising by about 10% a day, doubling every week.

                I barely see a pedestrian here, but when I lived over there, I’d walk past thousands of strangers every day. So it’s no surprise to me it’s taken more of a hold over there.

        3. Carey

          It’s not just my area:

          Situation in Fresno County (sizeable metro area, widely considered the worst air in the nation):

          Last updated: April 17, 2020 at 4:15PM

          Total Cases: 311
          41 (Travel-Related)
          103 (Close Contact)
          110 (Community-Spread / Unknown)
          57 (Under Investigation)
          Total Deaths: 7
          Ever Hospitalized: 69
          Recovered: 76*
          Total Individuals Monitored by FCDPH to Date: 1,189
          Currently Being Monitored: 243
          Test Results Received and Processed: 4,512**
          Tests Conducted at FCDPH: 294

          San Francisco CA- Very cosmopolitan, major links to Asia:

          Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases in San Francisco

          Total Positive Cases: 1058

          Deaths: 20

          updated daily at 9:00 AM

          1. Monty

            What you’re suggesting makes as much logical sense as me saying “because it was sunny here today, it must sunny everywhere”.

            All your local numbers show us is that there hasn’t been a bad outbreak in that area yet. There’s no magic shield or conspiracy to it.

            Is it possible that there wasn’t a lot of infections before the lockdown, and all the precautions have really slowed the spread to standstill, and saved lives?

            1. MLTPB

              Sorry to hear about your cousin’s in laws. Best wishes.

              As for past performance, I hope the counties here in CA can be like Soain and Italy, and see some flattening. We are like the 3rd or 4th week into shelter in place, and hopefully it improves from here. If they haven’t had a major outbreak, perhaps they can look forward to better days, although places like Singapore and Sino-Russian border areas are reminders that this thing can come back anytime, even in Italy and Spain which are looking to open up a bit.

            2. Carey

              >What you’re suggesting makes as much logical sense as me saying “because it was sunny here today, it must sunny everywhere”.

              That seems like a substantial oversimplification to me; and
              if you saw what the “precautions” look like *in practice* here,
              I wonder if you’d see it the same way. There is still plenty of
              travel and potential for transmission in the three regions
              mentioned.. and yet.

              1. Monty

                You need infectious people walking around to spread it. If infected people don’t meet uninfected people, you don’t get an outbreak. An uninfected person cannot infect anyone, period. End of story.

                The latest numbers from the wide community testing in King County, WA (Seattle) show that although it was initially a concern, they just don’t have a lot of infected people there at the moment. Maybe most people who were sick weeks ago got better at home, without spreading it?


                Where you live is a nice spot, with a lovely climate, but it’s well out of the way. Relatively low on people’s bucket lists. Maybe there hasn’t been a lot of infectious people visiting your location relative to NYC?

                Whatever the reason, if I were you, I’d want to keep it like that.

                1. Briny

                  Here in Fresno, they’re wandering around maskless. The auto traffic isn’t terrible, which does mean that most are staying at home but they aren’t spending all their time sheltering in place.
                  Frankly reminds me of a high holiday weekend.

    2. Oh

      kareninca, thanks for the detaied info. Sometimes I visit your county and I noticed that certain portions are inhabited by JB elites and then others are populated by hard working everyday folks.

    3. Duke of Prunes

      I just saw on the news that they’ve just completed antibody testing on a 1000 (or maybe it was 3000) Santa Clara Co residents, the number of positive was 50-75x (yes that’s 50-75 TIMES) higher than predicted. Most were asymptomatic. Similar to the aircraft carrier. Unfortunately, when they extrapolate to the 3 M SCC residents, only 5% have immunity. The Dr was from Stanford. I hope I’m remembering it all correctly.

      1. Monty

        An interesting thread about that study here.

        In the supplement they say 2 out of 371 + 35 known negative samples tested positive. This means that the 95% confidence interval for the false positive rate is [0.06%, 1.77%]. In their samples from Santa Clara County they had 50 / 3,349 = 1.5% test positive.

        This means that not only is their data consistent with the reported number of positive cases, but it’s also consistent with all of their positives being false positives and there being 0 positive cases in their sample! (I don’t think either of these are actually plausible).


        1. Duke of Prunes


          I’m back to my opinion from weeks ago that all numbers are crap. I was hoping we were starting to get past that.

        2. MLTPB

          What is ‘2 out of 371 + 35?’

          I haven’t seen anything expressed like that before.

          2 out of 371 – yes.

          2 out of 371 + 35?

          1. griffen

            Reads like math gibberish to me. Is it 2 / 406 instead ?….

            Lies, damned lies and statistics.

    4. MLTPB

      I hope Christians are not more likely to catch it, than say, reincarnation believers.

      Without solid data, we should not make any group stand out for no good reason.

      1. ambrit

        Well, the Evangelicals have a well established group ‘narrative’ of being “special” and “blessed” when it comes to hardships. “G-d will provide, etc.” So, a higher than general propensity for mass group gatherings on a regular basis, and a ‘faith’ based disdain for many social preventative strategies, “We’re special, etc.,” would magnify the Evangelical’s risk profile. Thus, Evangelical Christians, as a demographic, will stand out like the proverbial singular nail, and thus be prime candidates for feeling the gentle entreaties of the “Hammer of G-d.”
        The truly Zen fate of those prone to reincarnation will be to be liable to multiple malign experiences of the Dreaded Pathogen over time.
        Burning, burning, burning.
        (I have wondered, in the past, whether the modern Demi-Goddess Gaia isn’t but an aspect of Maya, or perhaps Tara.)

        1. kareninca

          It is the accepted wisdom that Evangelicals are more likely to take those sorts of risks for the sorts of reasons you give. But I know some Evangelicals, and I know loads of liberal atheist/agnostics. And looking at actual behavior, I am not seeing that the Evangelicals are behaving in a riskier manner than the liberal atheist/agnostics. I think you may be mistaking a narrative for a reality. The Evangelicals describe themselves in a particular way (faithful and trusting in the Lord), and the liberal atheist/agnostics describe themselves in a particular way (rational), but I’m not seeing that map onto behavior. This is another realm in which actual data would be interesting.

  16. mle detroit

    ‘With regard to COVID-19, we’re learning that stealth in the form of asymptomatic transmission is this adversary’s secret power,’ said Rear Admiral Bruce Gillingham, surgeon general of the Navy…. The figure is higher than the 25% to 50% range offered on April 5 by Dr. Anthony Fauci.” • Again, though, a closed environment, I would imagine with a lot of air conditioning.

    And isn’t Lambert’s observation also true of most modern American office buildings? Sure, let’s get back to normal. “Normal” being the stealth definition of “unsustainable.” And “deadly.”

  17. michael99

    The Small Business Administration has a released a report on Paycheck Protection Program loans.

    “Money from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, which ran out of funds on Thursday, flowed heavily to California and Texas, with construction companies and manufacturers getting the largest number of loans, rather than harder-hit retailers and restaurants, according to new data.

    The nearly $350 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program also disproportionately flowed to states that have suffered fewer infections and deaths under the virus, like Kansas, than to harder-hit states like New York and New Jersey, when adjusting for the size of the small-business economy in each state.

    The new data, which include loan approvals through Thursday, show accommodation and food service firms have received less than 9 percent of the money from the program, about $30.5 billion, though they have suffered the largest job losses of any industry during this recession. Construction firms received the largest share, at just over 13 percent, or about $45 billion.”



  18. Michael Hudson

    I know I’ve said it before, but I think it’s obvious that the DNC preferred candidate is Donald Trump.
    Their problem is how to throw the election and look clean. They’ve finished round 1 by nominating Biden. Now for the follow-up.
    Klobocop and Abrams are so awful that they seem sure to lose. The pretense is that Klobo comes from the Rust Belt — but she won’t help, promising NO hope and change. And Abrams is from a Republican state so won’t help the ticket, but will give the pretense of holding the Democratic Party together with its most corrupt local machinery.
    Trump gives the Democrats everything they want: Wall Street aid, real estate and military spending.

    1. Tom Doak

      “Wall Street aid, real estate and military spending,” PLUS a guy to point their fingers at and say it wasn’t their fault!

    2. Painted Shut

      Yes!!! Huddy… this is exactly what I was getting at. See my comments above to that effect.

    3. Left in Wisconsin

      If the Dems are trying to lose, we need to completely re-think the notion of PMC. The whole point of all that grade-grubbing and credentialing is to claw your way to the top. But, somehow, when we get to presidential elections, all that is out the window? They did everything they could to make sure Bernie didn’t get the nomination so they could hand it to Trump?

      To be clear, I’m challenging the notion of intentionality, not competence or warped belief systems.

      1. richard

        I see what you’re saying; it does make one reflect on the whole notion a system where the ultimate rewards of power are supposed to be a result of effort, and clearly an entire class of people is making zer0 eff0rt to “take power”
        it’s all the talking class, and i’m with Nina Turner
        show not tell
        Not just a referent for style but all i want from pols ever

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      Is TPP really truly dead for the DNC? Or is it waiting in their crypt for the planets to align.

      1. JTMcPhee

        The Grand Bargain is still out there. Biden was all in on that. He may forget his name, but I bet he remembers “Grand Bargain and “TPP.”

        As to Dems really wanting to throw the election, the PMC feeds off of being the Incompetent But Looter-Friendly Faux Opposition. The ones involved in the electoral process get paid the big bucks whether win or lose, and it’s pretty clear that they do not want to “catch the car” and have to show they know what to do with it. Their bribers are happy with that performance art they put on in every election cycle. The only real issue is which part of the kleptocracy is going to get the bigger bite out of the MMT carcass.

    5. John

      Nancy Pelosi probably has MAGA stickers all over her double wide freezer when the cameras aren’t filming her and her ice cream.

    6. rowlf

      I keep seeing the DNC as developing a political version of the plot in the Mel Brooks film “The Producers”. It is the only way I can make sense of their observed behavior.

      1. Wukchumni

        Producers then: Sell 25,000% of a play, hope it bombs.

        Producers now: Buy 25,000% of a stock play, hope it doesn’t bomb.

    7. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think that, to Democrats, victory means a positive bottom line for their “portfolio” as a party.* That may, or may not, include governing (control over the executive branch). They aren’t necessarily flaccid or incompetent. Obama, after all, sought to govern, albeit badly, and did, twice. And the Democrat Establishment displayed superb operational skills in their sustained campaign to neutralize Sanders and then shove the knife in.

      For example, incorporating the hoped-for Sanders base into the party would have nuked their existing portfolio, as would his small donor approach, so of course they vehemently opposed both. Not so Biden, or indeed any candidate other than Sanders (including Warren). So they would never do that, even if (as seems likely) Sanders would win and govern, and indeed cement Democrat power for another couple of generations, as did FDR. Winning with suburban Republicans, to which the Party pivoted in 2016, throwing aside the “coalition of the ascendant” that had previously been their theory, would be fine with Democrats, because their portfolio would remain intact. ** It may be that they can gin up enough hate*** along those lines to win, as indeed they did in the Democrat primary.

      So I’m not sure things are as simple as “Trump gives the Democrats everything they want: Wall Street aid, real estate and military spending.” Plus the insurers. Because surely the Democrats get a bigger cut of the spoils when governing? So what’s holding them back? They want to leave Trump holding the bag for… disasters to come?

      This whole comment distressingly depends on a theory of what the (Democrat) party is, whose presence is distressingly absent (and it’s not just me).

      NOTE * Not entirely financial, at least directly, since classes of (more of less deluded) voters can be thought of as assets. And “people” need to be “taken care of,” people also being identified with policies.

      NOTE ** Then too, there are the interests of the five or six Democratic strategists who, according to Nomiki Konst, control the party. Are their interests best served with a win or a loss? Axelrove, Plouffe, Favreau all of those people did very well for themselves after a Democrat, Obama, won. Would they, or any of the up-and-coming, do as well for themselves after a Trump loss?

      NOTE *** Bitecofer is right to incorporate hate as a key factor. Hard for me to accept, as a “universal concrete material benefits” guy.

  19. Romancing The Loan

    I assume that’s the plan but the pandemic has complicated things a bit – I can’t see Trump losing to Biden (or his replacement) unless it hits truly Biblical proportions here (and we somehow pull off voting by mail), but then if that does happen they’re taking the reins of a country that’s careering over a cliff. The possibility that the DNC might try their best to lose the election and win it anyway is, imo, above zero and growing.

    A retelling of The Producers writ large in our blood.

    (edit) – sorry that was supposed to be a response to Michael Hudson, above.

  20. lyman alpha blob

    RE: When Time Stops

    The inner-directed may enjoy this one from John Prine’s last album – The Lonesome Friends of Science

    The lonesome friends of science say
    “This world will end most any day”
    Well, if it does, then that’s okay
    ‘Cause I don’t live here anyway
    I live down deep inside my head
    Where long ago I made my bed
    I get my mail in Tennessee
    My wife, my dog and my family

    And that Nina Turner interview was great. Some people, me among them, have lamented the fact that Sanders seems to be too nice a guy to actually win, that what we need is a Huey Long type who will throw some elbows around.

    Turner doesn’t mince words or shy away from a fight. More like her please.


    Val Demings, pretty but solid, is a far better option than either the glamorous Kamala or the smart, hardworking, but fat Stacey. She would do as well as they with blacks, young, slackers, and lefties. Kamala probably would do more to bring out Latins and Asians. But Val Demings, who carries a little pistol in her designer handbag that she carries on the Harley she rides, will do better not only with Trump women, but with a lot of Trump men. Not because of her politics, but because of her style.

    Kate Brown, younger and bisexual with a husband, and popular in her home state, is a better option to overexposed Elizabeth Warren.

    1. Carla

      “Val Demings, pretty but solid, is a far better option than either the glamorous Kamala or the smart, hardworking, but fat Stacey.”

      Not sure I’ve ever seen such a blatantly sexist comment in my dozen or so years of following this site on a daily basis.

      “But Val Demings, who carries a little pistol in her designer handbag that she carries on the Harley she rides, will do better not only with Trump women, but with a lot of Trump men. Not because of her politics, but because of her style.”

      — Oh, 2nd amendment porn — pistols as fashion statements — another thing I’m not used to on NC.

      Well, I guess it’s always good to get a wake-up call.

  22. paulmeli

    “But the number of new cases in the state seems to have reached a plateau…”

    The number of deaths has spiked over the past few days

    Maybe due to the lag between New Cases and Deaths of about a week

    But that wasn’t the case earlier

    Let’s wait and see

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Maybe due to the lag between New Cases and Deaths of about a week

      That was my guess.

      > Let’s wait and see

      Indeed. It will be interesting if the Cuomo Trial Balloon is still in the air after the end of this month.

  23. The Rev Kev

    Re Laura Ingraham

    One remarkable tell about this world pandemic is that it has forced people to drop their masks and reveal who they actually are. Laura Ingraham is just Laura Ingraham but when you see people like Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz and Dr. Drew all on Fox saying open the country up because markets, you know where they have their priorities actually lay. Hint – it is not with you. You suspect that they would willingly send people back to work in the middle of a pandemic so that their portfolio does not suffer anymore. These people live in places like this-


    And yet they want average people to risk their lives as they do not want to sacrifice anything of theirs. You see that with the government too where they dropped $4 trillion to the 1% but give only crumbs they are slow-dripped to some people. And that is where their priorities lay.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > You suspect that they would willingly send people back to work in the middle of a pandemic so that their portfolio does not suffer anymore.

      But that’s always been true. That’s the nature of the wage relation. The pandemic is just throwing that relation into sharper relief (one more reason the distinction between “essential” and non-essential workers is so pernicious).

  24. VietnamVet

    The elephant in the room is that Wuhan coronavirus pandemic is a huge failure for all governments in the West. Literally the US federal government threw up its hands and tossed the pandemic into the laps of the 50 state governments. However, due to the economic crash the states are functionally broke and will have to lay off government workers. Until a treatment is found only testing, tracing and isolation can save lives. Only the federal government has the money to hire, contract and direct a national quarantine program. But Donald Trump dumped universal testing. The rich will have to wall themselves off from the infected poor like Fisher Island off the coast of Miami. Millions of poor Americans will die of COVID-19, despair, and starvation when the healthcare systems are swamped and the food supply crashes.

    Congress used fiat money to fund the oligarchs and went into hiding. The ruling western ideology believes that markets magically grow, prepare and distribute food. The USA is in the same position as the USSR when the top level of government, the Communist Party, imploded. In Russia life expectancy for men fell abruptly from a high of 65 years in 1987 to a low of 57 years in 1994 due to the collapse of government and this was without a pandemic at the same time. The Western Empire is dead. The real question is how to get rid of the incompetents and save American lives when both parties, political appointees and think tanks funded by wealthy donors are all complicit in the federal government’s collapse and the spreading pandemic.

    1. MLTPB

      A huge failure for ‘all governments in the West.’

      Not just any single one Westen government, but all.

      Russia is entering a steepening part of the curve. China is tightening Ruusia border checks.

      Will the non-Western Moscow avoid being a failure?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Until a treatment is found only testing, tracing and isolation can save lives. Only the federal government has the money to hire, contract and direct a national quarantine program. But Donald Trump dumped universal testing.

      It is not clear to me that we, as a failed state, have the operational capability for universal testing, at least in the time-frame needed. It’s also not clear to me that a national quarantine program is “politically feasible.’ Yes, Trump is catalyzing a bad situation for the worse, as he always does, but this collides with the “Americans don’t like to be told what to do” mentality (a.k.a., “It’s my right to infect others with a deadly disease I may not even know I have”).

      Honestly, it might be simpler just to split the country up along the lines of public health regimes; the map of U.S. “megaregions” shows one way to approach. Make the Spring-Breakers go through testing when they come back from Jesusland… .

      (The savage irony being, of course, that Jesusland didn’t bring the virus here. International travellers with passports flying into Blue Cities did that. So there we are…)

  25. charles 2

    You want to get infected? Knock yourself out! What none of these loons seem to understand is that the issue is infecting others. Especially since SARS-COVID-19 is highly infectious and spreads rapidly. The stupid! It b-u-r-r-r-r-n-n-n-n-s-s-s-s!!!!!!!!!!

    Voluntary inoculation should of course go with strict quarantine (as in stuck in a room for one month with one own’s toilet, meals put in front of the door). Not a walk in the park(pun intended).

  26. Falls City Beer

    Does anyone sincerely believe that when Covid is no longer a threat that working class people are going to even be on the radar of elites? When those with college educations are back to their jobs in November despite 15%-20% unemployment, are they going to be thinking about their fellow man? Of course not. The working class has read this script time and again. As wave after wave of suicides of despair break across working poor and working class America, this will get no coverage, though it will be far more of a lasting entrenchment of inequality and suffering than 60,000 people dying from the flu on steroids.

    Ultimately, the calculus of the working poor to want to return to work is simply borne out of the same desperation that leads to fentanyl and opioid addiction. They know—very much correctly—that the cavalry ain’t coming to save them.

    1. Massinissa

      I think, this time, the economy might get so borked the ‘middle class’ will get thrown to the curb too. I highly doubt that the economy will ‘go back to normal’ in just a couple of months. I’m not even convinced Coronavirus won’t still be a problem by the fall, and even if it isn’t, going to take about 2 years at least for the economy to recover, and its going to be a much bigger shock than the 08 crash was.

      Or perhaps its semi-wishful thinking.

      1. Briny

        Concur. Further is the “nice thought” that revolutions occur when the “middle class” feels their rights and privileges under threat.* It is for this reason that I wish Bernie hadn’t stepped aside.

        * – Explaining why the CCP continues to be very, very nervous to date.

      2. Falls City Beer

        Of course the middle class will be drawn into the black hole that was created by covid 19. I think that goes without saying. But they will rebound. Workers won’t. I’m saying the working class knows how this story ends. When in 2021, Covid falls off the front pages, yet long-term crippling poverty sets in yet again for the second time in 12 years, there will be no lifeline for them. We will be in full austerity mode to pay off the trillions we gave to the rich. I’m growing increasingly tired of the argument that working class frustration and even a desire to reopen the economy is some insidious AstroTurf thing. I’m sure some of it is, but most of it is driven by very very recent economic devastation that most working Americans were just beginning to dig out from under.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the economy might get so borked the ‘middle class’ will get thrown to the curb too

        Looks like a lot of small businesses are going to be destroyed. So, more polarization.

  27. Hoppy


    I don’t understand the wording here. According to the study there are 50 to 85 times more people infected than current data shows. Then it says,

    If 50 times more people have had the infection, the death rate could drop by that same factor, putting it “somewhere between ‘little worse than the flu’ to ‘twice as bad as the flu’ in terms of case fatality rate,”

    What does this mean?

    If its 85 (not 50) times more people have the infection then it is even better? i.e. less worse than the flu to a little bit worse than the flu?

    1. Monty

      It turns out that the study used some samples known to be negative, and found the test they used gave a false positive rate of 1.75% in those. This was the same as the 1.75% positive results in the 3000 people they tested. That renders the whole study rather meaningless, the positive results were between 0 and 1.75%. Was it the test it the population? Possibly newsworthy, but who knows?

    2. griffen

      Not a great sample size to extrapolate upon. 3300 tests were complete in a drive through setting. Better than nothing but thorough and conclusive ?

      Not sure myself.

  28. The Rev Kev

    Sounds like the French are having their own problems with their own carrier-


    I would guess that the number of US Navy ships out of action through Coronavirus would be highly classified. There are at least four carriers that have been infected. I don’t know why they are surprised about this development. The exact same thing happened with Navy ships back in 1918/19.

    1. ambrit

      The bright silver lining of this dark cloud is that armies suffering through epidemics are absolutely terrible at fighting, and thus warfare slacks off.
      This made me think of a modern American version of the old joke about the French “Force de Frappe,” the French atomic warheads and delivery systems. In the French version of the joke, ten or twenty percent of the atomic bombs are aimed at Paris, a joke about the bipolar nature of France as a society and nation. Today, ten or twenty percent of the American atomic arsenal can be said to be aimed at the Flyover States. the same dynamic as seen in France now applies to America.

      1. Massinissa

        Rumor is Trump might be thinking of making war on Venezuela soon.

        That would be a mess. Corona would probably kill more soldiers than the Venezuelans would. The military has trouble performing counter-insurgencies in the best of times, but doing it in a latin american jungle while not just the troops but the entire home country are busy fighting the biggest pandemic in a century sounds like a terrible idea.

        But as terrible an idea it is, that almost makes it seem like it would make it *more* likely for Trump to try such madness.

  29. Wukchumni

    Ski resorts increasingly relied on season pass sales, the Ikon pass in particular, which enabled you to use it at a few dozen resorts. They’d get the money up front 8 months before and it was a huge part of their business model.

    The idea that resorts were a prime vector for Coronavirus is reflected in this offer, of deferring use of your pass 2 years out!

    I’m not interested, as the feeling I get is that most of the resorts will be out of business by this time next year.

    During these uncertain times, you may feel unsure about the future and it may be difficult for you to commit to adventures still months away. We understand and want to help alleviate some of that uncertainty, should you decide to renew your pass now or later.

    As a valued member of the Ikon Pass community, in addition to the many Ikon Pass benefits, we are introducing Adventure Assurance, providing flexibility for the 20/21 winter season by offering you the choice to defer your adventure to the following season, winter 21/22. This will continue to be available to you if you decide to purchase after prices go up on May 27, 2020.

    1. curious euro

      Even if the resort as a business entity is out of business, the infrastructure, the ski lifts, the snowcats, snowcannons, all still exist and simply have a new owner. So if, big if, infection is not a worrisome thought anymore, wouldn’t the people still come to the same resort under new ownership?

      Or would the new owner not honour the already sold season passes? Which might be more profitable in the short term but really bad for customer retention and maybe cause trouble with the Ikon pass folks.

      1. Wukchumni

        Resorts are also running up against climate change, and probably lots of people that can’t afford $179 day passes anymore. Almost all ski resorts in these
        United States are owned by a consortium of just a few corporate owners, who will be broke soon.

        Who’s gonna take their place?

        A couple with kids told me earlier this year, that it would be cheaper to take the family to Europe for a week, than squeeze in 3 days over President’s Weekend holiday.

  30. tegnost

    Haven’t read comments yet because I’m kind of hustling around, but saagars facial expressions during “the question” are priceless
    Big fan of nina turner, and rising as well…

Comments are closed.