2:00PM Water Cooler 4/20/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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

The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. I have changed to a logarithmic scale for US States and territories, adjusted for population.

New Yorlk’s curve is still not flat. I think triumphalism is premature. And have we reached a peak? Or a plateau? Thread:

* * *

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.


“U.S. Delays Some Tariff Payments, Leaves China Levies in Place” [Bloomberg]. “The U.S. will allow companies to defer paying tariffs on many imported goods for 90 days, a move aimed at freeing up cash for pandemic-hit employers while leaving punitive measures against China and other nations intact. ‘This will protect American jobs and help these businesses get through this time,’ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. The deferral doesn’t apply to anti-dumping or countervailing duties, or so-called Section 201, 232 or 301 tariffs. So it won’t ease President Donald Trump’s punitive import taxes on Chinese goods, on steel and aluminum, or those tied to enforcement actions he took including against Airbus SE.” • “Defer”… So when and if the recovery comes, the first thing people need to do is pay off debts? I dunno….


“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

* * *


Lambert here: I will have more on 2020 in a bit, but honestly I could just stop with this:

28 seconds of mayhem (though I’m not sure what the music at the end communicates).

* * *

Biden (D)(1): “Could a closed archive hold answers on Biden sexual misconduct claim?” [Washington Examiner]. “Tara Reade, the woman who accused Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her, suspects that a key document about some of her claims — a complaint she filed to a Senate office about his behavior — may lie in his personal documents stored at the University of Delaware. A thorough review of the archive could boost Biden’s claim to innocence, while a copy of the complaint or other documentation could also corroborate some of Reade’s claims. Those protecting the records, however, have made either scenario impossible. Biden’s archive, donated by him to the university in 2011, was expected to be made public sometime in 2019. But the university announced last year that the collection will be sealed from the public until two years after Biden “retires from public life” or two years after Dec. 31, 2019, whichever is later. The university refuses to reveal information about the records gift agreement from Biden to the university.” • Odd. To be fair, the document might have been destroyed, because Senate record-keeping before the Congressional Accountability Act in 1995 was sloppy. Nevertheless…

Biden (D)(2): “Democrats lay out rebuttal to Trump attacks on Biden over China” [Axios]. “The DNC’s War Room writes in the memo that it’s an understatement to call Trump weak on China and that he ‘rolled over in a way that has been catastrophic for our country’ and ‘put himself and his political fortunes first.'” • A race to the bottom on who “lost China.” What could go wrong?

Biden (D)(3): Austerity, here we come!

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie’s backers need to see sense” [Juan Williams, The Hill]. “Like soldiers hiding in the hills, shooting at shadows long after the war is over, these dissident Democrats are mostly a threat to themselves.” • So you don’t need their votes then?

Sanders (D)(2): “How Sanders Was ‘Russia-gated’ Out of the 2020 Race” [Michael Tracey, RealClearPolitics]. “At 4:16 p.m. Eastern time on Feb. 21, word leaked to the Washington Post that Russia was ‘trying to help’ the Sanders campaign…. Throughout the Trump era, a supermajority of self-described Democrats have expressed the belief that Russia “tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected president” in 2016. Not just lightly interfered with some small-scale social media chicanery, mind you, but literally hacked the nation’s election infrastructure to put Trump in the White House. Which is of course demonstrably false, but still widely believed by Democrats….. So the Democratic electorate had been primed after several emotionally intense, paranoia-inducing years to view all Russia-related news in the most alarmist possible light. If you want to “trigger” an MSNBC-watching liberal of a certain age, simply say “Russia.” It’s within this frenzied context that the Russia-gating of Bernie Sanders, who at the time was seeking votes of inordinately energized, media-attuned Democratic Primary voters, must be understood. The Washington Post article was published just hours before the Nevada caucuses…. in that pivotal 12-day period — from Feb. 21, the day the “Russian interference” story first began circulating, through to the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29 and culminating on the Super Tuesday primaries of March 3 — one of the factors influencing Democratic primary voters’ perceptions of Sanders was that he was being helped by Russia. Sanders’ decision to meekly accept this ridiculous narrative, instead of refuting it, was time he never got back.” • If there’s data to support this not implausible thesis, I don’t recall it. Readers?

Sanders (D)(3): “An Early Look At Who Bernie Sanders Wants To Join Joe Biden’s Policy Task Forces” [HuffPo]. “HuffPost obtained a preliminary list of some of the people Sanders is considering. Everything is still in early stages, and the two campaigns have been negotiating who will be in these six policy groups and how big the groups will be. The list includes progressive policy experts who heavily influenced Sanders’ campaign platform over the last year, such as Darrick Hamilton, The Ohio State University economist who has become one of the leading academics on the racial wealth gap in the United States, and Stephanie Kelton, an economist at Stony Brook University who has championed Modern Monetary Theory — the idea that governments can never run out of money, and that deficit spending on major domestic programs would lead to economic growth. Though not exhaustive, some other names on the Sanders campaign’s early list include Heather Boushey, an inequality expert with the Washington Center for Equitable Growth; Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, two leading economists in the world of wealth inequality and progressive taxation; Jeffrey Sachs, who runs Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Development; Josh Bivens, an economist with progressive think tank Economic Policy Institute; Daniel Kammen, who runs the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab at University of California, Berkeley; Tara Raghuveer, an affordable housing activist who runs the Kansas City Tenants group; and Bonnie Castillo, the executive director with the National Nurses Union. Faiz Shakir, Sanders’ campaign manager who has been negotiating with the Biden campaign for weeks, would not confirm that the campaign was considering these individuals. These task forces are not yet finalized and could consist of a mix of campaign staff and outside experts. HuffPost reached out to every person on the preliminary list. Sachs and Kammen said they had not heard from either campaign. Boushey and Kelton declined to comment. The others did not respond.” • Not as horrid as I expected. Though I’m not seeing mention of foreign policy, or the pandemic, which might lead one to believe the Biden campaign is going to be more horrid on both those topics than we could possibly imagine.

Sanders (D)(4): “Sanders asks for donations to reelect members of ‘The Squad'” [The Hill]. • Sure, I like the squad. But that the Sanders list is not being used to support strikers verges on dereliction of during, particularly for a putativelly working class movement, and at a time when electoralism, as a strategy, has some ‘splainin’ to do.

Trump (R)(1): “The health vs. wealth election” [The Week]. “Trump is in a very good position here, rhetorically speaking. The president will try to argue that his prudent leadership saved millions of Americans from the threat of a deadly virus and that a corrupt expert class and their allies in the media and the Democratic Party bankrupted the country over something slightly less bad than the 2018 flu season. How can he possibly say both, you ask? Pshaw. This is what Trump always does. He was impeached, you might recall, for attempting to use millions of dollars in leverage available to him to investigate the activities of the Bidens in

Ukraine, which is totally within the purview of his authority as president — and for demanding absolutely nothing during a ‘perfect phone call.’ The amazing thing is that half the country will agree with him.”

* * *

UPDATE “Ocasio-Cortez Welcomes Business Opposition to Her Re-Election” [Bloomberg]. “”There is a lot of Wall Street interest in unseating a member that holds Wall Street accountable,” Ocasio-Cortez said in an online interview with Politico. ‘Sometimes you are defined by your friends and sometimes you are defined by the people who come after you.’ Ocasio-Cortez has raised $2.7 million for her re-election in the last quarter, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Caruso-Cabrera’s campaign told the New York Post she has raised $1 million during the same period…. Ocasio-Cortez said her staff is in talks with former Vice President Joe Biden’s team about endorsing his presidential bid, and that she is seeking commitments from him on climate change, immigration, health care and support for Puerto Rico.” • As I have said consistently from the begining, I hope that AOC’s constituent services organization is top-notch; we’ve had one field report at NC that it is. Readers?

UPDATE “Brooklyn Machine Pushing for In-Person Hearings Against Insurgent” [The Intercept]. “Nurse, who entered the race in February, is caught in a wave of confusion surrounding the number of signatures required to get on the election ballot. While New York typically requires 450 signatures, the threshold was lowered to 270 in light of the pandemic. She collected 339 signatures ahead of the March 17 deadline, the same day Mayor Bill de Blasio began telling residents to prepare for potential shelter-in-place orders — but due to city procedures that govern special elections, it was unclear whether that lowered threshold applies to Nurse’s election. Her campaign has asked the city and Cuomo to clarify the number of petition signatures required for her election. While she has not yet seen the specific claims in Zapata and Alvarado’s petitions, she worries that changes in campaign procedures because of the coronavirus may get in the way of her candidacy.” • More Third World stuff.

“Will the Pandemic Keep Third Parties Off the 2020 Ballot? [Politico]. “In 2016, the Libertarian Party was on the general election ballot in all 50 states; this year, it has secured ballot access in just 35. Similarly, the Green Party—which in 2016 had its best election ever by making the ballot in 44 states, with a further three states granting the party’s candidate official write-in status—has qualified for the November ballot in only 22 states. Several of the elusive ballot lines are in states that in 2016 were either narrowly won or flipped from red-to-blue. At present, neither the Libertarian Party nor the Green Party has qualified for the ballot in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Iowa or Minnesota. Additionally, the Green Party has not secured a place on the ballot in Arizona, Georgia or Nevada, and the Libertarian Party is missing from Maine. To get on the ballot in the remaining states, they need to collect and submit petition signatures. And in a normal year, they would be on track to do just that. But because of the deadly coronavirus—and the social distancing and stay-at-home orders to minimize its spread—after March 6, ‘petitioning was over in the United States,’ as Libertarian Party executive director Daniel Fishman told me.” • Yikes.

At least Twitter restored Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins’ account:

“Surprising Poll Results: People Are Now Happy to Pick Up the Phone” [New York Times]. “But in an industry where rejection is a normal part of a day’s work pollsters are finding that many people are suddenly willing, even grateful, to talk. In some cases they are treating the anonymous questioners as lifelines to the world, almost as therapists, in the absence of other people to talk to. Executives at a number of firms across the country said in interviews that not only are more people willing to answer the phone to unknown callers these days, but that those who do agree to be interviewed are more likely to stay through the end of the conversation. This has led to an increase in productivity rates of roughly 25 percent, they said — and to an unusual situation where some respondents actually thank the pollsters for getting in touch.”

* * *


Realignment and Legitimacy

“Guardians of Global Economy Come Up Short in Virus Battle” [Bloomberg]. “[C]ritics faulted the Group of 20 for failing to adopt for the rest of the world the all-out approach they’ve embraced to help their own countries. ‘I had modest expectations, which they significantly disappointed,’ former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said. ‘It’s whatever it takes for us and crumbs off the table for the world.’ There’s a lot at stake. A timid G-20 response risks consigning the world to what former IMF Chief Economist Maury Obstfeld calls ‘reservoirs of disease’ and hindering a full-fledged global economic recovery — for wealthy nations and those less well off — from the deepest downturn since the Great Depression.” • From what I can tell, the United States — Third World below the looters, lanyards, and letterheads — is well on track to becoming a “reservoir of disease.” Not really compatible with its current role as Imperial hegemon.

“Dems’ Health Insurer Bailout Follows Bundled Checks from the Industry’s Lobbyists” [ReadSludge]. “So far in the 2019-20 election cycle, lobbyists who represent the health insurance industry have raised more than $736,000 for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the campaign arm of House Democrats that works to protect incumbents against Republican and progressive challengers. The contributions from health insurance lobbyists make up nearly a third of all the bundled lobbyist contributions the DCCC has reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) this cycle, and many of the lobbyists have bundled checks for the DCCC in previous cycles as well.” • This is all horrible. I wonder Pelosi, like former Representative William Jefferson, keeps any cash in her freezer….

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.

Honey for the Bears: “Another Recession Gauge Signals Longest U.S. Expansion Has Ended” [Bloomberg]. “Following a period of economic expansion, an increasing likelihood of a recession has historically been associated with when the [Chicago Fed’s National Activity Index’s] three-month moving average falls below minus 0.70…. The report reflects data available as of April 16. At that time, 50 of the 85 indicators had been published and the rest were estimated. Sixty-five made negative contributions, 18 were positive and two neutral.”

* * *

Manfacturing: “American steel makers are bending under growing stockpiles and falling demand. U.S. steel companies are slashing production as a collapse in demand pushes the sector into its most severe downturn since the 2008 financial crisis” [Wall Street Journal]. “Industry analysts expect distributors will likely draw down high stockpiles before companies place new orders one manufacturers reopen. One steel company says its “pipe inventory is now massive” after a spate of order withdrawals. The pullback has been rapid: Metal and ore volumes on U.S. railroads fell 25% in the second week of April from a year ago.”

Tech: “Connected, but at what cost?” [Science]. “Facebook users, randomized to deactivate their accounts for 4 weeks in exchange for $102, freed up an average of 60 minutes a day, spent more time socializing offline, became less politically polarized, and reported improved subjective well-being relative to controls. However, the treatment group also became less knowledgeable about current events. …[A]fter the 4-week deactivation period ended, the treated subjects’ Facebook use remained persistently lower than that of the controls, and treated subjects lowered the amount of compensation they would demand to deactivate their accounts for another 4 weeks.” • For some definition of “knowledgeable” of “current events.”

Supply Chain: “The rush for supplies to fight the coronavirus is scrambling U.S. government procurement standards. The government has placed more than $110 million in orders for N95 masks to protect health-care workers from coronavirus infection at high prices from unproven vendors… and problems are already showing up with the orders. Some of the vendors have missed delivery deadlines or have backed out because of supply problems” [Wall Street Journal]. “The troubles are part of the broader struggles in medical supply chains as the federal and state governments vie for equipment including the specialized N95 masks. Most of the federal orders were placed with no-bid contracts, federal databases show, and the average price from vendors offering quick delivery was close to $6 apiece, roughly six times the list price but in line with the current market rate.” • I guess if you’re opposed to central planning, this is what you get.

Fiscal Policy: “California COVID-19 Traffic Report Finds Silver Lining” [UC Davis]. “Traffic accidents and crash-related injuries and deaths were reduced by half during the first three weeks of California’s shelter-in-place order, which began March 20. The reductions save the state an estimated $40 million per day — about $1 billion over the time period — according to an updated special report released this week from the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis” (original).

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 42 Fear (previous close: 43 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 37 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 20 at 12:09pm.

Rapture Index: Closes down 1 on volcanoes. “The lack of activity has downgraded this category.” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing. I dunno though; Krakatoa blew up on April 14. Is that “lack of activity”? Maybe yes, if one volcanic eruption a week is a sign of the End Times….

The Biosphere

“Is fungus the answer to climate change? Student who grew a mushroom canoe says yes.” [NBC (dk)]. “In addition to their ability to break down harmful pollutants and chemicals, [Kary Ayers, 28, a student at Central Community College in Columbus, Nebraska] pointed out that mushrooms can be used for everything from household insulation to furniture to packaging, replacing plastics, Styrofoam and other materials that are hard to recycle and harmful to the environment. ‘Mushrooms are here to help us — they’re a gift,’ Ayers said. ‘There’s so much we can do with them beyond just food; it’s so limitless. They’re our biggest ally for helping the environment.'” • Ayer’s one-off mushroom canoe cost $500, half the average cost of a new canoe. Plus you can use it for pizza topping at end-of-life.

“Central Park, the calm amid New York’s coronavirus storm” [Agence France Presse]. “Gone are the softball games, horse-drawn carriages and hordes of tourists. In their place are pronounced birdsong, solitary walks and renewed appreciation for Central Park’s beauty during New York’s coronavirus lockdown.” • The World Without Us

“‘A Reminder That Nature Is Strong’: In Japan, A 1,000-Year-Old Cherry Tree Blooms” [NPR]. “Taking care of the tree is a job the whole community takes part in. Neighbors visit and pull weeds, or help fertilize the ground with leaves — the same way their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. A small shrine at the foot of the tree is filled with offerings from passersby: rice, salt, even a tall bottle of sake. For the spirits of the tree, Hirata explained.”

“Gorgeous Photos Show How Farms Are Helping People During The Covid-19 Crisis” [Buzzfeed]. “As COVID-19 reveals the risks of relying on global supply chains, perhaps this is an opportunity to look anew at local food systems. “In Maine, we have been working deliberately for decades to build a vibrant local food system,’ [Amanda Beal, Maine’s commissioner of agriculture, conservation, and forestry] says, ‘and that work benefits us now, as our farmers are playing an important role in making sure that people can access the food they need in a time of crisis.'” • Quite correct. And the photos are gorgeous.

Memorial Day in Maine is still six weeks away, but maybe other parts of the country are further along:

Health Care

“The Plan for Dogs to Hunt Out the Coronavirus” [Bloomberg]. “Scientists in London say that dogs could in fact revolutionize the hunt for Covid-19 by sniffing out subtle odors produced by the virus when within the human body. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is crowdfunding a project to train canines to detect healthy-seeming people who haven’t necessarily realized yet they are carriers. If the project is successful, the animal detectives could be working across Britain by the summer. ‘It’s very early stages,’ says James Logan, head of LSHTM’s Department of Disease Control. ‘We know diseases have odors — including respiratory diseases such as influenza — and that those odors are in fact quite distinct. There is a very, very good chance that Covid-19 has a specific odor, and if it does I am really confident that the dogs would be able to learn that smell and detect it.'” • That would be really, really cool, not least because it wouild snatch trillions from Silicon Valley’s grubby trotters, and avoid turning the world into a dystopian panopticon. Though I have to say, “hunt out”… Well, they need to work on the optics.

“When Our Hospitals Are The Pandemic Superspreaders” [The American Conservative]. “For the very start of the pandemic, the hospitals in Wuhan were part of the problem. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 41 percent of the first 138 patients diagnosed at one hospital in Wuhan became infected in that hospital. Simply put: nearly half of the initial infections in this hospital appear to have been spread within the hospital itself. Picking up diseases in hospitals is surprisingly common. A nosocomial infection is the technical term doctors use to describe these infections. It is a paradox that the last place you should be is in a hospital if you’re sick. As doctor recently told me, “To those in the medical field, this is common knowledge. I would only go to the hospital if I needed ICU support.” In the United States, the CDC has estimated there are almost 1.7 million nosocomial infections, which lead to 99,000 deaths each year. In Wuhan, the coronavirus quickly became a nosocomial disease. One of the doctors in Wuhan said putting infected people in hospital with other patients was a major cause of the cross-infections. A 29-year-old Wuhan resident told the South China Morning Post, that doctors didn’t confirm his grandmother’s infection for a week. She was placed in a regular ward at another hospital infecting many other patients. Hospitals contributed to superspreading events during the outbreaks of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Ebola. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine pointed out that, “One of the features of SARS and MERS outbreaks is heterogeneity in transmissibility, and in particular the occurrence of super-spreading events, particularly in hospitals.'” • We have a lot of Petri dishes: Cruise ships, aircraft carriers, nursing homes, prisons and jails, and now…. hospitals. If we ever got serious on infrastructure, this would be one thing to think about. (I would add airports to that list. I wonder if they’ve all been deep-cleaned? Because they ought to be.)

“The US needs to do 20 million tests a day to reopen safely, according to new plan” [MIT Technology Review]. ” A group of experts has produced a plan for the US to reopen its economy safely this summer. However, it’s contingent on doing at least 20 million tests every day, scaling up contact tracing, and ensuring those who need to isolate can be properly supported. The report, produced by 45 cross-disciplinary experts assembled by Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, says we need to be testing 5 million a day by early June in order to start reopening the country, increasing to 20 million by mid-summer to fully end the shutdown. From the start, the World Health Organization has said the only way to beat the virus is to “test, test, test.” That message seems to be finally getting through.'” • Here is the summary chart the experts produced:

Meanwhile, here on Planet Earth… Look at bullet three under Phase One. Since when have we had a retraining program that wasn’t an NGO grift? Plus, the ideal trainers are the workers themselves who are either (a) sick or (b) fully occupied. Feels like these guys are moving pieces around on a board that’s changing under them (and might get kicked over anyhow).

“Will antibody tests for the coronavirus really change everything?” [Nature]. “Antibody tests have captured the world’s attention for their potential to help life return to normal by revealing who has been exposed, and might now be immune, to the new coronavirus. Dozens of biotech companies and research laboratories have rushed to produce the blood tests. And governments around the world have bought millions of kits, in the hope that they could guide decisions on when to relax social-distancing measures and get people back to work. Some have even suggested that the tests could be used as an ‘immunity passport’, giving the owner clearance to interact with others again. Many scientists share this enthusiasm. The immediate goal is a test that can tell healthcare and other essential workers whether they are still at risk of infection… But as with most new technologies, there are signs that the promises of COVID-19 antibody tests have been oversold, and their challenges underestimated. Kits have flooded the market, but most aren’t accurate enough to confirm whether an individual has been exposed to the virus.” d

“Novartis steps up to study of hydroxychloroquine in Covid-19” [STAT]. “The drug giant Novartis said Monday it would conduct a 450-person study to determine if hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug touted by many pundits and President Trump, can effectively treat Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The study will be a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study, the medical gold standard in which patients will be assigned one of three options: hydroxychloroquine, the combination of hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin, or placebo…. A series of small studies, most of them not randomized (for instance, some compared patients who agreed to take the drug to those who didn’t) and not blinded (doctors and patients knew who got which drug) have shown conflicting results.” • I didn’t see a date at which the study would be complete.

The 420

Since this is 4/20:

“Biggest 420 Ever: With America Stuck At Home, Cannabis Demand Is At An All-Time High” [Forbes]. “A month earlier, when Colorado instituted a stay-at-home order, panic buying set in and cannabis sales shot up 30%. [Sally Vander Veer, President & Cofounder, Medicine Man] says she figured the pace would die down and spike again on April 20, as it historically does; but business has continued to be unusually brisk every day. She believes that the realities of quarantine—unprecedented numbers of people home from work and nervous about the future—overlapping with 420 has intensified sales to reach record highs.”

From the Wailer’s pre-“international recognition” Trojan days, and far superior to later versions:

I love the lunatic guitar solo on the way out.

Guillotine Watch

$200 bucks a pop:

Class Warfare

“In a Post-Work World, Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Point the Way” [Bloomberg]. “How to find purpose in this low-employment future in which erstwhile workers have almost unlimited free time? Some researchers suggest looking at one of the world’s most traditional communities: the ultra-Orthodox, or Haredim, of Israel. Thousands of Haredi men—distinguished by a look modeled after 18th century Polish nobility, with long side-curls, black fedoras, and knee-length coats—don’t work and instead spend their days studying religious texts. They live off government support and their wives’ salaries, and they shun smartphones for fear of encountering unfiltered information and immodest imagery. Yet in a government survey published last year, 98% of ultra-Orthodox said they’re satisfied with their lives, more than any other group in Israel. Yuval Noah Harari, a bestselling author and history professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, calls the Haredim “the most successful experiment so far in how to live a contented life in a post-work world.”

News of the Wired

Social distancing:


(Or, alternatively, King.)

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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 (MG):

MG writes: “Fiddleheads…I just loves ta watch ‘em uncurl! They start as lumps, then peek out, then slowly, and then faster …..” ‘Tis the season…

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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. Knifecatcher

    I stumbled across this earlier today and it doesn’t seem to have gotten much press:


    The anonymous author claims she was also sexually assaulted by Biden. But given that the Dems have lined up behind Biden come hell or high water she realizes that her coming forward can only help Trump, and the campaign against Tara Reade has made it obvious that any accusers are going to face a coordinated assault from the centrist Dems and their media enablers.

    So – mission accomplished?

    1. Deschain

      My feeling on Reade is that she is she is probably telling the truth, but that a second woman coming forward would cinch it. Men who engage in this type of behavior never do it only once.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        LOL, “cinch it”.

        Um, no, we’ll be treated to hilarious verbal gymnastics on why all womenz must vote for Gropin’ Joe anyway, after all we can’t believe *all* women now can we? Just the ones who oppose those icky people we oppose (for reasons that escape me right at the moment, something to do with doing much too little or much too much in the crisis, take your pick).

  2. Steve H.

    > Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience

    Does anyone see a mask on that thing?

    Those who knows, please rip this statement: N95 masks are critical to prevent spreading. We’ve seen Taleb on masks at 30%, but those who do not consent to wear them undercut the multiplicative protection. Rather than coercion/compliance arguments, just Protect Yourself At All Times. And not the masks with the exhalation valve. Those are like the punchable face of facemasks.

    1. Michael M

      The exhalation valve/construction ones are fine if you stick a bit of TP or something into the frame in front of the exhalation flap, keeping it shut. I had a box of them on my work bench for dusty projects and they work well around town will the flap blocked.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I taped over the valve; yours is easier, but doesn’t show so as to reassure people.

  3. Carolinian

    The fungus lady said when she takes her boat out on the water the mushroom’s start growing. So you also get lunch?

  4. Ranger Rick

    I can think of another reason for the popularity in cannabis sales aside from the unofficial holiday: with everyone stuck at home, who’s going to drug test you? Is it even going to matter if you don’t have a job? And even if you do get asked for a test, presumably all the usual contractors (testing giants Quest and LabCorp) are going to be up to their eyeballs in COVID-19 testing for the remainder of the year and will be too busy for mundane stuff like that.

    1. Wukchumni

      I knew a friend who owned a business that would ‘drug test’ potential new employees to ensure they were a good fit.

      He was looking for creative stoners with a work ethic.

    2. periol

      It’s been a bit since I’ve worried about testing, but there was a time, and you are not wrong. Knowing you won’t possibly be tested for a bit definitely plays into the mental calculations when deciding to partake. People who have not regularly smoked do not understand the stress and arithmetic that goes into it, especially related to testing. Lots of people use possible testing as a reason to not try it casually, as well.

      If piss tests go away, marijuana demand skyrockets.

      1. hdude

        If piss tests go away, …
        Unfortunately, many business do a hair folic test that is sensitive enough to detect just smoking 1 joint in the past several months.

      1. Wukchumni

        Obama kinda had this Re-Animator look to him, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    1. Chef

      The song is DJ Kool’s Let Me Clear My Throat, popular DJ go to.

      Outside of being very well known to black folk, there doesn’t seem to be any other special significance.

  5. DJG

    Post-work world for the ultra-orthodox? I note the following, “They live off government support and their wives’ salaries.”

    So they are grifters–not quite as greedy as the mega-churches and their parsons but grifters nonetheless.

    And I also note that the ultra-orthodox are hardly feminists, so that the ultra-ortho-ladies evidently are expected because of their gender inferiority to support their saintly husbands in their funny hats. [And it’s well known that it is extremely difficult for many of these ultra-orthodox women to get out of an abusive marriage or the whole goofy cult if they should want to do so.]

    I am reminded of many of the people at the Liberate America demonstrations, who want to see their employees. Yep. They are bereft that Juancito hasn’t shown up with the leaf-blower lately.

    An oppressor is an oppressor is an oppressor. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein.

    1. Billy

      “They live off government support”

      “The overwhelmingly Hasidic Kiryas Joel, the poorest place in America. As the Times reported last year, “half of [its] residents receive food stamps, and one third receive Medicaid benefits and rely on federal vouchers to help pay their housing costs.” And boy, do they have children: The median household in Kiryas Joel has six people, and the median age is twelve. Many of its men learn Torah full-time instead of working…it’s not just Kiryas Joel: back in 1996, at the heart of “welfare reform,” a full third of Williamsburg’s Hasidim received public assistance.”

    2. fresno dan

      April 20, 2020 at 2:30 pm

      “How to find purpose in this low-employment future in which erstwhile workers have almost unlimited free time?
      So the insinuation is that work is purpose, and it is only under the most unusual circumstances that anyone can find purpose without a job AND they leave out the elephant in the room – many jobs suck because they don’t pay enough and/or don’t have any benefits.
      I was extremely fortunate to have an interesting job, with good pay and benefits…sure, it wan’t ALL luck, but it mostly was luck because society isn’t making much of an effort to make sure the fruits of production are fairly and equitably distributed. But there was nothing I looked forward to more than retiring – I don’t need somebody telling me how to spend the day to find purpose in my life. I have no trouble engaging in self amuse…Uh, that came out wrong…
      Millions of people are retired and have no problem finding ways to occupy themselves. And if they are so inclined they can continue working. But the article implies that the status quo is great. Jobs are just a way to earn a living. A real living…

      1. Lil’D

        I’ve written a song a week.
        They all suck but the newest one sucks less than the first one

    3. The Rev Kev

      Agree with this all. The women are shut up in homes and are expected to produce large numbers of kids for the state to support. People say that Muslims keep their wives shut away but they have nothing on the ultra-orthodox. That is why images of the Israeli cabinet in some publications are doctored to remove all women from them. This happened to Hillary once too.

      Secular Israelis complain how they rubbish their neighbourhoods and create a drain on local budgets. Not long ago they were deciding where to locate a community of them and decided to plant it next to a secular town so that their taxes could support this community. Didn’t make the people in that town happy.

      In addition, they are intolerant of those not of their faith, whether Muslim or Christian, and Christians recently complain how the ultra-orthodox have been spitting on them – in the middle of a pandemic. The worse thing is that apart from their frequent violent attacks on others, they demand that the State adopt their beliefs and would for example, remove all women from the military but kept at home. As you can see, they are not in my good books. Not because of their religion but because they act like a bunch of d****.

      1. Massinissa

        I know alot about the haredi, did not realize their misogyny included believing women shouldn’t serve in the military that… that their men have an exemption from joining.

        Sigh. Forcing women to work for a wage like the haredi do or forcing women to work at home like the muslims do is… still forcing women to work, either way. What a mess.

          1. Redlife2017

            I’ve had to deal with Haredi on flights to New York City. I’ve also had to deal with Haredi kids (boys) in a park (with my small son along). The men and boys are d**ks. The kids won’t listen to their moms (and the moms don’t try to discipline them when they are being d**ks to other kids from VERY personal experience). The adult men are from what I can tell about as bad as the little boys. They act like the world is supposed to respond to every one of their demands. On a flight to NYC, one guy took over an economy class toilet for hours to pray. That was awesome on a 6 hour flight. The stewardess noted that she disliked dealing with them because they always have to be thrown out of the toilets. As my Mom would say about spoilt brats, “No inconvience is too inconvienent” for them.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              As a teenaged student I stayed with cousins in Manhattan for a summer while paying my way busing tables and odd jobs – it was close to a Haredi area (sometimes they were called Hasidic, but I think they were Haredi, not that I’m clear on the distinction). I innocently went to a small photo store to buy something small – I think it was a roll of film. The haredi guy looked me square in the eyes and said ‘$50’. I stood speechless, I wasn’t sure whether I was misheard him or I was supposed to negotiate. I really didn’t know what to do, I just said ‘thats a lot’. He smirked at me. When I walked out, he and the other staff (owners?) just laughed. My cousin shrugged when I told her the story, I was wondering if there was some weird NY etiquette thing I didn’t understand. ‘Thats just what they are’, she said.

    4. Alex

      Living not far from one such post-work community, I sincerely hope that post-work world will look different. What is true is that even in the absence of work humans somewhat masochistically desire to have a hierarchy with someone telling them what to do.

      Another takeaway, which might be relevant for the UBI movement, is that the ultra-Orthodox always demand more government support – it’s like you can set their stipend once and they’ll be content forever. The only constraint is how much power they have.

  6. prodigalson

    I think bending the curve is being confused with fixing/moving beyond this crisis. The only thing bending the curve does is keep the infected numbers down to a number that hospitals can deal with the 20% hospitalization rate in an on-going basis.

    I think what the TV anchors, broad swathes of the public, etc don’t get is that unless we have a reliable vaccine, through trials, established as mostly safe, mass produced, then distributed and injected to all of us that we just have to try and keep that curve down low enough for the health care system to manage in the interim without crashing.

    The bottom line is short of a vaccine it would required whatever percentage of the public is needed for “herd immunity” for things to kinda return to normal. There’s roughly 330 million people in the country. Current infection total is 770k or so. Lets say the true number is closer to 4 times that many. Then as of now only 10% of the public has been infected. If we need to hit 60% or higher for herd immunity then we have a long way to go.

    What’s scary to me is the not-so-bended curve should be baking in the last month+ of our sorta-kinda-lockdown. So with all the lock downs our bended curve is still painful, ongoing, and likely to get a lot worse with states trying to pretend this over and done with. Too much of the vibe i’m getting from media falls in the A) this is the flu and overstated, B) restart the economy and take it on the chin, or C) we’re getting over the hump! Hooray! Back to normal in a few months.

    1. John Beech

      prodigalson nails it.

      Me? I’m staying in for the next year or so until a vaccine becomes available. This having to do with twice being in the ICU for pneumonia, meaning I don’t see contracting C19 and living being in the cards.

      Fortunately, this is doable due to my owning the business and our machine shop having the CNC mills spaced 20′ apart. Added to which, we’re not exactly a touchy-feely kind of place (plus because coolant is irritating to the skin we already wash our hands 20X a day).

      Fortunately I have my own private flying field at Chez Beech so I can at least relieve stress by flying my model airplanes and helicopters. Welcome to the new normal.

      1. JBird4049

        Pneumonia twice? That is not a joke. I had it when I was in my thirties and it just about killed me. Being healthy, dumb, and poor, I did not go to the hospital. Thirties, non-smoker, near perfect health.

        Considering my company would not pay for my sick days beyond two weeks into the month plus it took for me to mostly recovery because, for some mysterious reason, I needed to get approval while at the doctor’s office with pneumonia, I wonder just how much of my medical costs would have been covered. “Doctor, while I am breathing oxygen, could you please write up an excuse for my sick pay?”

        Two weeks of not being able to breath, followed by a month of phone tree torture trying to get it covered, while having the energy and mental clarity of a dead dog. One of the benefits people I talked to called it the healthcare resistance plan.

        Fortunately, while corporate was evil incarnate, the store I worked at was not, so I kept my job and got some post approved vacation pay.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > unless we have a reliable vaccine, through trials, established as mostly safe, mass produced, then distributed and injected to all of us that we just have to try and keep that curve down low enough for the health care system to manage in the interim without crashing.

      Or possibly some sort of treatment that doesn’t cost $100K.

      On the vaccine, I think a Manhattan Project level of effort would do it, but we don’t have that. We have Mr. Market and a bunch of competing teams. I’m skeptical that a vaccine can be produced. People keep putting out ttimelines with “vaccine” on them, and to me, they’re saying “And then a miracle occurred!”

        1. Brindle

          I’d say the very earliest would be about two to three FU’s but four to five is more likely–1 to 2.5 years.

      1. jo6pac

        Dr. bill gates on it and I’m sure it might work better the software he sells;-) Ye sure it will.

        1. jonboinAR

          Remember the BSOD? (Blue Screen of Death). I hope it’s not coming back in a really bad way, as in that’s the last thing you see if the vaccine fails and you “crash”.

      2. Dennis Brown

        Your comments are a breathe of fresh air as usual Lambert. I too wish there was a safe vaccine developed through honest international collaboration between the world’s nations and kept out the clutches of Big Pharma profiteers. But I’m not holding my breathe however.
        We still do not have a vaccine against viruses like HIV or the common cold. And the annual flu shot is still largely a guessing game strategy, and far from 100% effective.

        I am definitely not anti-vaccine. But I am truly skeptical of the role of Big Pharma in the promotion of vaccines as the universal panacea to the threat of viral infections. Recall the role that Big Pharma played in the H1N1 pandemic of 2009. Billions of dollars in profit for them for producing a vaccine that was essentially useless . Most of which had to be destroyed, after the pandemic fizzled out that year. Of course taxpayers were left with the bill!

        Let’s remain optimistic , yet not lose our critical thinking skills in face of the growing MSM narrative that our only hope is to remain hunkered down and wait for up to 18 months for people like Bill Gates to come up with the “silver bullet”.

        Better that we invest in anti-body research to truly determine the real mortality rate of this virus relative to total population exposure. And in the process make profound changes to our collective global health care systems. So that the elderly and vulnerable–who form the overwhelming majority of the victims of this virus–are protected properly in future.

        Such a pity Bernie dropped out at this critical moment in world history.

      3. Bsoder

        Vaccines research and manufacturing should be done by NIH (minus trump). No outsourcing. What we have going on now is a joke, no a disgrace. One issue about vaccines is time as a critical component, and it is the constraint to developing and making something that works. Giving the time constraint as in given that things need time to grow (like monoclonal antibodies) and going deep into molecular biology, I just don’t see how to compress certain time components. On the other hand there is lotta science out there that could be brought to bare. Antivirals, on the other, a pill a day type of thing, shouldn’t take long at all- you give me the bodies and money- 3 months we’d be in business. We need to take the $ out of the process, else where never going to get anyway.

      4. richard

        I thought vaccines were a matter of when, and not if. Am I about to be disabused of that (coldly) comforting thought? Dang it, Lambert!
        btw, disabused is another one of those words where you take the prefix away, and things stop making sense
        would “abusing” me of a notion mean convincing me that I’m right about something?
        dang english, dang lambert
        wait, I get it
        disabuse is to remove the abuse i was under by not understanding something
        abuse would be to continue with the project of me not understanding something? abusing me in that most american of ways
        to allow me to wallow in ignorance

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I thought vaccines were a matter of when, and not if.

          Not necessarily. And then there’s this:

          Will a vaccine come as easily for the novel coronavirus? The answer is maybe yes, maybe not. The “maybe yes” comes from the observation that in animal studies, coronaviruses stimulate strong immune responses, which seem capable of knocking out the virus. Recovery from COVID-19 may be in large part due to effective immune response. The “maybe not” comes from evidence just as strong, at least with earlier SARS and MERS viruses, that natural immunity to these viruses is short-lived. In fact, some animals can be reinfected with the very same strain that caused infection in the first place.

          Of course, a requirement for regular re-vaccination would make Big Pharma happy, so perhaps that will accelerate development.

      5. John k

        Lots of effort, big prize. But SARS (2013) vaccine never developed.
        Touted cures questionable, maybe dependable results end may.
        Personally I think it’s not good to be low on zinc when the virus visits, but iffy data. But note elders might be low if they don’t eat red meat often… and us soils overall are relatively low in zinc.

    3. David R Smith

      They’re very close to injecting healthy young people with untested vaccines and then infecting them with the virus. Standard practice is to wait for an infection to occur. This way would dramatically speed up vaccine delivery. Most people are going to get the virus in the next year or two before a vaccine could be readied, and these “guinea pigs” would have the advantage of getting it in a highly controlled, highly monitored setting, instead of at home either alone or with other sick people.

    4. VietnamVet

      This is what I think is going on in Washington State and California. The East Coast may not see the hospital systems break loose. They will be filled with COVID-19 patients until a treatment or vaccine ends the epidemic. Too many people too close together. It is predicable that cabin fever will break out, households run out of food and medicine, people escape, get infected, transfer the virus to family/housemates, and the pandemic keeps going. What is unconscionable is that the federal government has collapsed. It is not rebuilding the public health system, hiring tracers, renting hotels, and developing a testing and tracking system to identify the virus status of every American and isolating the virus shedders. Without this, reopening the economy while it is a pandemic is still underway is murder.

  7. Big River Bandido

    The Trump ad is devastating.

    If black men are really the target, this pretty well hits the mark. Trump doesn’t need those men to turn out for him, he just needs them to stay home for this ad to work. This ad so effectively raises those doubts, and does so among a demographic that is at the core of Biden’s (pathetic) support. But those doubts and the disgust are so common among Democrat leaning voters that the ad is like a match to dry tinder.

    If this ad is just virtue-signaling to the “white moderate” (the more likely scenario, my guess), it’s still equally potent for raising the obvious issues about Biden that *everyone* recognizes, whether they acknowledge them or not.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The registration dead line is usually around October 15th, and this is the Presidential electorate. There are millions of people who vote every four years. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. The Democrats will win or lose largely based on not on whether people want to vote for Biden over Trump (or Hillary over Trump; a Republican could never win with compulsory voting) its whether they want to on October 15th and to stay in line on a Tuesday in November.

      Obama was hailed as the new mythical JFK and promising hope and change, and with Obama’s coolness, he avoided being genuinely mocked. I would suggest the “anti-Chinese” messaging already put out by Biden implies they already know low turnout is baked in and are hoping to limit GOP turnout. This is probably the goal.

      I’ll paraphrase Obama, but he said no one can really stop a “determined” voter from voting. This was his annual halfway decent point. A person can vote, but to a certain extent, they have to know their rights and be ready ahead of time. Its fairly easy to vote if you live in the same place for years, but for young and urban voters (black voters tend to be urban dwellers), they move.

      In 2008, the worst thing Obama volunteers faced was the garbage put out by David Brock and appropriated by the GOP, stuff that was ridiculous. If there are Biden volunteers, they are going to be called rape enablers, war mongers, corporate whores and so forth. Without volunteers, all the registrations that need to be updated go bye bye.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Yes, a person can vote, but practically speaking has no choice that is anything but “more of the same sh!t sandwich, choice of brown or ochre.” And primary elections are a sham on top of a scam. As we see from the last two pres “opportunities to choose.”

      2. HotFlash

        You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

        In my experience, this is not true. I bait my fruit-fly traps with vinegar and the devastation is *enormous*! Never had any flies attack my honey. So, if we are working by analogy, we might want to reconsider either the analogy or our trust in the analogy.

    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      “If black men are really the target, this pretty well hits the mark.”

      Maybe. However, as long as Trump is working his Twitter feed on behalf of overt gun-toting racists it may not do the trick. A typical white jacka** (Biden) versus the GodEmperor of the men who want you dead now (Trump).

      Who would you chose Bandido, if it was really your life on the line?

      1. Big River Bandido

        My point was that Trump doesn’t need to play for the votes of black men. He doesn’t need to win them over. Just needs to convince them Biden isn’t worth their vote. Not a tough sell.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If black men are really the target, this pretty well hits the mark.

      We will have to hear from Black men on that; but recall that all Trump needs to do is improve his margin with that subset of voters.

      And “kids jumping onto my lap.” Oy, you can see what’s coming…

      Adding, Trump is also good at getting inside his opponent’s head. This ad might do that. Then again, that might not work with Biden, for obvious reasons.

      1. Redlife2017

        I dunno, that “Trump is a Manchurian Candidate” ad had the feel of someone (or Biden’s team) having gotten their buttons pushed. ‘Cause that was like full on Lyndon Johnson Daisy ad for the 2020s. For those who have not experienced the awesome crazy of the Daisy ad: Here you go

        The great Dr Hunter S Thompson after the murder of JFK and what would happen next:
        “We now enter the era of the shitrain, President Johnson and the hardening of the arteries.”
        Fear and Loathing in Dallas 11/22/63 (the first time Dr. Thompson used that term)

      2. a different chris

        >all Trump needs to do is improve his margin with that subset of voters.

        Yeah but they’ve had 4 years to see him in his demented* glory.

        It’s now a referendum on the incumbent and all Joe has to do is not actually swallow his tongue. Not saying he’ll win or lose, but Biden just needs to appear as a suitable replacement as people consider four more years of The Donald and whether a “reality show” is really what they want in the Oval Office.

        Biden got this far by doing nothing, his ticket to the Presidency sadly simply requires him to stand back and let Trump make the case. Yea America! Sigh.

        *BTW, I don’t think Trump is a racist at all. To him, there’s himself and then there is the rest of us. Color, creed, religion if you kiss his butt you will be considered “in” and if you don’t you won’t.

      3. John Anthony La Pietra

        Trying to catch up on my reading, but the ad in question seems to be down. Anyone know somewhere else to see it?

    4. DonCoyote


      Never forget the lessons of 2016 (except the Democrats never learned them and/or are being paid to ignore them):

      Many in Milwaukee Neighborhood Didn’t Vote — and Don’t Regret It {written two weeks after the election}

      At Upper Cutz, a bustling barbershop in a green-trimmed wooden house, talk of politics inevitably comes back to one man: Barack Obama. Mr. Obama’s elections infused many here with a feeling of connection to national politics they had never before experienced. But their lives have not gotten appreciably better, and sourness has set in…

      All four barbers had voted for Mr. Obama. But only two could muster the enthusiasm to vote this time. And even then, it was a sort of protest. One wrote in Mrs. Clinton’s Democratic opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The other wrote in himself.

      Yes, n=4, but I cannot imagine JB is any more appealing that HRC.

      1. Jessica

        Well, JB was Saint Barack’s VP not his bitter primary election opponent, so there might be something to work with.
        What I wonder is how many of those four would vote for Obama now if they could.

      2. John k

        Smilin joe is the guy you’d have a beer with… or would have. I don’t think he can carry a conversation beyond cmon, man…
        But I wish I had his dentist.

  8. clarky90

    West Texas Intermediate Oil for delivery in May, minus (-) $ per barrel.

    It’s never happened before.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Yes, but only to store it in your tank pending “re-opening.” No fair burning it to drive around. Markets need buyers. It’s like the “benefits” being offered by the Dems: we’ll give you a tiny loan, but you WILL have to pay it back. With lots of interest. No Charity for You.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Smart dudes are recommending that you buy shares in oil tanker companies, not because the black stuff will flow around the world but rather because there is nowhere else to store it except tankers. For the moment the spice will need to keep flowing somewhere.

          Me? I’m watching the 9/11-style controlled demolition of the economy from the sidelines and asking myself: cui bono?

          A few answers are obvious: Banks. “Our” U.S. “Federal” “Reserve” “Bank” is now a lawless economic government unto itself. Instead of someone who is within miles of a clue, Empress Dowager Nancy insisted on her BFF Donna Shalala for “oversight”. Donna, fresh from a stint as the head of the Clinton bribe-fest “Foundation”, knows not the very first thing about banking and financial markets. Perfect for the oversight job in other words.

          Other winners: Mega-corporations. Absolutely feasting as they euthanize all small businesses. Boeing has Mnuchin on speed dial, can Larry’s Lawnmowers of Brownville, Nebraska say the same?

          Q for Thomas Friedman/Krugman: does oil at *minus* $30 per barrel count as “deflation”? LOL.

          Duck, and cover.

          1. cnchal

            . . . and the stawk market was down a measly 592 points. Can a one day 5000 point decline be that far off?

            The mega corp feast will deliver a shitload of indigestion if it doesn’t kill them.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Once upon a time I would have considered this to be ridiculous hyperbole. Not any more:

              I despise the ruling class, constituting the financial mafia family of the Wall Street cabal and their Fed puppets, powerful corporate interests, crooked captured politicians, military industrial complex warmongers, shadowy billionaires, and Deep State surveillance state operatives. They increase their already vast wealth to immeasurable heights, while millions of blameless Americans are forced to live under overpasses. – Jim Quinn

              1. The Rev Kev

                Then you will love this one from Charles Ferguson’s 2012 book “Predator Nation”-

                “Over the last thirty years, the United States has been taken over by an amoral financial oligarchy, and the American dream of opportunity, education, and upward mobility is now largely confined to the top few percent of the population. Federal policy is increasingly dictated by the wealthy, by the financial sector, and by powerful (though sometimes badly mismanaged) industries such as telecommunications, health care, automobiles, and energy. These policies are implemented and praised by these groups’ willing servants, namely the increasingly bought-and-paid-for leadership of America’s political parties, academia, and lobbying industry.

                If allowed to continue, this process will turn the United States into a declining, unfair society with an impoverished, angry, uneducated population under the control of a small, ultrawealthy elite. Such a society would be not only immoral but also eventually unstable, dangerously ripe for religious and political extremism.

                The real challenge is figuring out how the United States can regain control of its future from its new oligarchy and restore its position as a prosperous, fair, well-educated nation.”

                Not just true for America either.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thats astonishing – much faster than most predicted.

      Brent is still much higher – seaborne oil can still find customers (or at least they can use tankers as storage as they try to find somewhere for it). But its pretty clear the world will run out of storage by May. Then its curtains for most of the US, Canadian, and Venezuelan oil industries. I wonder if Trump will dare try to get the type of handout the oil industry will need to stay afloat. Plenty of lobbyists will be at work.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          In all honesty, I don’t know what happens then. The economics says that companies will keep pumping when prices are ultra low because they need the cashflow and the marginal cost of pumping an existing well is very low. During the very low prices of the 1990’s even (expensive) North Sea oil continued to be produced because they were willing to take the loss in the hope that prices would eventually rise, as they did. But we are in completely uncharted waters now.

          The problem is that oil isn’t necessarily fungible – there are all sorts of different types of well (some are easy to cap and walk away until it can be reopened, others not so easy), different grades of oil require mixing for some refineries – to match supply needs a lot of co-ordination between lots of different competing interests. So oil will arrive at the doors of refineries and the refineries are going to say ‘sorry, can’t come in’. There may well be some very quick and dirty forms of storage developed by the industry, aided no doubt by weakened environmental standards – maybe open standing pools in voids left by Canadian tar sands extraction, I’ve really no idea what could happen. One thing is sure, a lot of tanker at sea are going to become moored storage facilities. I don’t see many now on marinetraffic.com, but it can’t be long before you see fleets of them in the Gulf of Mexico, just anchored offshore.

          1. barefoot charley

            Wolf says 20 Saudi tankers are bearing down on Houston, blowing up the cover story once and for all that this was a price war between Saudi and Russia. It’s a concerted ploy to blow up American fracking. But it won’t work because our post-capitalist economy doesn’t need to make money, just to move money around, for the right people still to profit. Investors and suckers have lost tens of billions of dollars fracking our oil patches for the last decade–who cares? Fun times ahead.


            Also, May oil futures have no buyers, meaning speculators will have to take delivery of oil with no place to store it, and no place to sell it. Please Mr, take my oil!

            1. Tom Bradford

              Oh those poor speculators. I hope they launch a ‘GoFundMe’ page. They can have all my used toilet paper.

            2. Chef

              Saudis own the Gulf of Texas refinery and American refineries don’t even process the sweet crude we pump. Saudi/MENA sour is what the US refines so a bit of a red herring imo.

            1. JTMcPhee

              If they sink or blow ashore, presto change-o. A socialized problem! And maybe insurance proceeds too, if not forestalled by an Act of God exception.

          2. John k

            It’s different when the price is negative. And it’s more negative for the wti Oil patch producer than price at the delivery point in Cushing… it has to be transported there, which has a cost.
            I’ve heard demand down 20%… seems low. And I’ve heard 30%… maybe right. That 30 million bbs/day, every day. Strategic reserve had 75 to top it off… 2.5 days excess capacity.
            Pretty soon producers will stop producing.
            Europe still has a place to put it… not much longer. Another month excess is maybe 250 million bbs.

        2. Dita

          No one is buying futures, tomorrow will probably be just as bad for WTI. I think wells will be capped, and waves of bankruptcies concurrent. I subscribe to the edible forest youtuber above, and note the amount of plastic and petroleum is involved in creating that environment.

          1. HotFlash

            I think wells will be capped

            I’d be cool with that, but they can’t really cap them, can they? Fracked holes will continue to leak, water-based wells will leak all kinds of things…

            Not sanguine here.

        3. JTMcPhee

          There’s planning to pump the stuff back into the ground, something that is already under way,, https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20150921-why-the-us-hides-700-million-barrels-of-oil-underground

          And speaking of what really ought to be done, as in stop bleeding this stuff out of the earth at all, Greg Palast reports that BP had a blowout in the Caspian Sea pretty much just the same etiology as the Deepwater Horizon blowout (which is still leaking, apparently.) That was 17 months before the DH event, and totally covered up. Here’s his reporting on the one in the Caspian:


      1. HotFlash

        But its pretty clear the world will run out of storage by May. Then its curtains for most of the US, Canadian, and Venezuelan oil industries.

        Yeah, many broken rice bowls. The rich and wannabe rich, even the middle-rich will have to take cuts. But this is what the world, the earth, really really needs just now. Maybe we will have enough for most. God(dess) bless, us, everyvone

    2. Bsoder

      Actually, back in his day John D Rockefeller, patron saint to all billionaires, had this happen many times, ususally due to the railroads (another set billionaires – collectively). Actually, Standard Oil got so large John D, keep buying out failed competitors and leveraging that to buy more. Interesting history, but now? We don’t need it and we shouldn’t want it. Keep it in the ground and let’s get the come up with a way of living with reality that isn’t /won’t kill us. I understand we need to get from a –> b but all we do is talk.

      1. Duke of Prunes

        All well and good until the refineries stop making diesel for the trucks, tractors and trains (required for food production and distribution) because there is no place to store the gasoline, kerosene, etc that comes out of the same barrel of oil.

      1. furies

        That is *your* experience.

        Not everyone else’s. If you know yourself well, this is not a problem imnsho.

        The variety of cultivars available with specific therapeutic targets has advanced impressively.

        I use CBD/THC 20::1 tinctures for my migraines…pharma just gives me intolerable side effects. My homeopathist (I know I know) says marijuana was the first remedy known for migraines. I’m so lucky it’s legal in my state. Finally!

      2. Aumua

        Yeah some people just should not smoke weed, but a lot of them do anyway cause it’s… the thing to do. Other people it’s not really a problem.

        1. HotFlash

          Oh lordy mama, Krystyn!! MJ didn’t do good for me, I just got a headache and went to sleep. Never got anxious, though. I know other people it has helped a lot. People with MS, people with fibromyalgia, people with arthritis, people with terminal cancer, people with rheumatism. Let people decide for themselves what makes them feel better, m’kay?

    1. prodigalson

      this is one of the things that worries me, if immunity is short-lived to non-existent. I’m glad they’re tracking this over time.

      Yesterday Zero Hedge, a garbage source, had a link to reddit, another garbage source, from young people around the world who are still having rebound symptoms at the 50+ day mark. I know those sources individually are bad, and together are like hearing from a flat-earther a secret he heard from a gopher, but still seems to mesh some other anecdotals that this thing can linger in some people for awhile. Hopefully, some better sourced accounts will come out in the future on this.

    2. sd

      Study: Coronavirus More Widespread, Less Deadly in LA Than Previously Thought

      A new study that tested adults for antibodies to COVID-19 indicates it’s much more widespread in Los Angeles County than previously thought, while it’s also less deadly.

      Researchers from USC and L.A. County Public Health estimate that approximately 4% of the county’s adult population have antibodies to the virus, which means they’ve already been infected. Factoring in the margin of error, that’s somewhere between 221,000 and 442,000 people.

      As of today, there are just under 14,000 confirmed cases in the county.

      The preliminary findings mean that “we are very early in the epidemic and many more people in L.A. County could potentially be infected,” said lead investigator Dr. Neeraj Sood, professor & senior fellow at USC’s Price School for Public Policy.

      1. Yves Smith

        Already debunked in comments yesterday. Some scientists have said the study should be withdrawn. Bad sample selection, plus the error rate on the test used is 4%.

        1. Duke of Prunes

          I may be mistaken, but the earlier debunked study was northern CA and done by Stanford. This one is southern CA and USC

            1. The Rev Kev

              Was just listening to a video where they found that rather than a random study, they recruited people from Facebook. At the time of the test, it was difficult to get a test so a lot of people would have flocked to this study to get a free test and probably recruited other like people so that they could get a fee test as well. In addition, the test kit they used was dodgy which did not help.

              But wait, it gets better. The Wall Street Journal came out with an article trumpeting this study and the people that they talking about this study were – those that were doing this study. This is how like the Bush people would plant a rumour in a friendly newspaper about Weapons of Mass Destruction, then someone like Cheney would go on TV and cite that story as the truth. Stanford should be in the dog house for this shoddy study.

                1. The Rev Kev

                  That was the one I was watching too. The implication is that Stanford are prostitutes for hire if a study is needed to downplay the pandemic because markets. And the Wall Street Journal was complicate in this. Can you imagine what the peer review will say about their study? But too late as the study is already being spread to say that things are not so bad with the Coronavirus.

                  1. Monty

                    Seems likely to me. Goebbels would be proud. I saw Jay Battycharia has links to the right wing think tank The Hoover Institute. What’s their end game?

                    Have you noticed when a scary survey or protest comes out, if it doesn’t align with right wing interests, it gets downplayed or doesn’t get much media at all?

                    Try a search for “Santa Clara”. Full court press propaganda!

        2. sd

          I’m a bit confused, the study was only released today.

          4% refers to the percentage of the population. The statistical error is 2.8% to 5.6% – the study is ongoing. The study is in conjunction with the Los Angeles Department of Public Health.

          USC-LA County Study: Early Results of Antibody Testing Suggest Number of COVID-19 Infections Far Exceeds Number of Confirmed Cases in Los Angeles County

          Based on results of the first round of testing, the research team estimates that approximately 4.1% of the county’s adult population has antibody to the virus. Adjusting this estimate for statistical margin of error implies about 2.8% to 5.6% of the county’s adult population has antibody to the virus- which translates to approximately 221,000 to 442,000 adults in the county who have had the infection. That estimate is 28 to 55 times higher than the 7,994 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported to the county by the time of the study in early April. The number of COVID-related deaths in the county has now surpassed 600.

      2. Aumua

        This is a different study, actually. I’m not sure but I think the researchers may have some affiliation with the Stanford guys. There aren’t many details available yet about it, such as what their actual selection method was. They appear to be using the same tests. So I remain skeptical, but it is another data point. The thing about these results is that they really raise some significant questions. It almost seems impossible that so many people could already have antibodies for COVID-19, especially with various levels of social distancing going on for a while now, unless the virus has been around for longer than we have known. Is the test picking up some other coronavirus antibodies? Has COVID-19 really been around, maybe in some lesser form since before December? Or are these studies just complete trash? These are questions I can’t answer.

  9. Krystyn Podgajski

    Does anyone have a spare oil drum I can borrow?

    Crude is down 200% and trading at -$35/barrel.

    1. Wukchumni

      I left a barrel full of crude oil outside for just a brief moment, and somebody made off with it, but left the oil on the ground in a black puddle

    2. Socal Rhino

      Apologies if you were just making a joke, but that’s not the spot oil price, if was the price of the contracts for May delivery that expired today. June delivery is trading in the 20s.

      1. Krystyn Podgajski

        “Futures contracts that expire the next day should be close to the spot market cash price.”

        -Wolf Richter

        1. Off The Street

          Nature, and financial markets, abhor a vacuum.
          If there is some pressure to equalize, some water to drip, some profit to be extracted, some expense to be minimized, that process goes on inexorably.
          Agency sometimes occurs, too.

  10. Oregoncharles

    Copied from my post on Links, because it’s really more apt here:

    There’s been much anticipation here of Thomas Frank’s new book. FYI, he has published an excerpt, called “How the Anti-Populists Stopped Bernie Sanders,” in the May Harper’s Magazine. I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t report on it, but the topic is obviously of interest here. Harper’s is paywalled, but pretty cheap, IIRC. Unfortunately the library is probably closed, though yours might have a digital subscription. If you’re going to the supermarket, Harper’s is usually available there – $8.

    1. Carolinian

      I just downloaded the whole article via wget–not of course encouraging anyone to do so.

      Many libraries offer wifi and those library subscriptions in the pkg lot (not what I used)

    2. John Steinbach

      Very little about Sanders. Actually a review of how the elite, both types, use red-baiting and force to crush populist movements.Some of the quotes from the turn of the 20th century are exactly like those used to snuff Sanders.

      1. JBird4049

        Which is why the Soviet Russian Bear’s KGB FSB spies and provocateurs doing their best to take down American Eagle plus Mom, Apple Pie, and the American Way; the Party’s American nomenklatura and their apparatchiks with the enthusiastic support of the literati and glitterati just read what was done in the 1910s-20s and 1950s-70s by our country’s elites.

        I grew up reading about this and even got a taste towards the end of the Cold War. It feels bizarre to see almost the exact same playbook. The Democratic Party could even bring back the “Better Dead Than Red” slogan.

  11. EGrise

    This is what we’ve come to:

    Coronavirus: Baystate Health doctor unveils covert effort to acquire hospital masks

    MA doctors tracking down PPE (In this case masks) for their hospitals. A precaution they took:

    They were ready to pay and have them loaded on a truck. Artenstein said it may be an overreaction, but the team even had the truck disguised as a food service vehicle because they were concerned that it would be driving through states that are also hard-hit by the pandemic and they didn’t want it attracting attention or stopped.

    At the last minute, some DHS goons wanted to “put a hold” on the delivery (“hold” probably means confiscate), it was only after a call to their congressman who chairs the Ways and Means committee that they were able to return to their hospital with the masks.

    It reads like something out of postwar Berlin, or Saigon in the last days of the war there. To think that once upon a time we put men on the moon.

  12. Tom Stone

    “Look, Joe Biden is a changed man, he’s not the same guy you have known for the last 40 years”
    How so?
    “Dementia, he’s turned into a really sweet old man.
    It does bother Jill on those days he can’t remember who she is, you know how women are”

    1. rowlf

      I’m looking forward to the hot microphone of Joe Biden asking his wife Jill “Am I running for president?”

      At least he has enough staff to keep him out of view of the cameras when he puts his underwear on the outside of his pants.

    2. Jessica

      It wouldn’t matter if Joe has become a sweet guy – other than making him more sellable. The folks pulling his strings are the same old jackals.

  13. shinola

    Re: “California COVID-19 Traffic Report Finds Silver Lining”

    The article is about how much the state is saving. Apparently auto insurers have noticed a substantial drop in claims (& the resultant boost to their bottom lines). I received an e-mail last week from my insurer stating that they would be sending rebates of @15% of premiums for the current policy term. I live in Kansas and rates & rules vary from state to state so ymmv.

    1. Carolinian

      We have a covid every year worth of traffic deaths. It will be interesting if that drops substantially.

        1. Monty

          ~3000 average traffic deaths in a month in USA.

          Covid19 deaths in the USA in the last month ~41000.

          A bit if a difference

  14. anon

    I have read all of the literature on HCQ in COVID-19 (including MedRX), which consists mainly of case series and poorly designed (and poorly written) studies. If it does work in COVID, much like oseltamivir in influenza the key seems to be timing, with the best effect when started early (i.e., in the first 7 days before the onset of cytokine storm). The data on oseltamivir in influenza are not much different – early is better.

    1. Bsoder

      It is not known to work and those same studies underemphasis the extreme harm to the liver if given at high dosages or for a prolonged period. It is a bad drug for Covid-19. Not the drug of choice.

      1. Duke of Prunes

        I know someone who believes he was “saved” by HCQ so I’d say the jury is still out. It does have proponents that are actually doctors.

      2. anon

        There are no studies that prove or disprove efficacy. I have prescribed HCQ many times for prolonged use and have never seen severe liver complications.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I guess there has to be one or two actually effective and pro-public critters that sneaks through the front line of lobbyists and Party linebackers and safeties…

      And who does not get turned around and runs the wrong way to score an “own touchdown.”

  15. FreeMarketApologist

    “I wonder if Pelosi, … keeps any cash in her freezer….”

    Did anybody check what’s actually in those “ice cream” tubs? Even with all that Pharma money, you can only buy so many pearl strands – (though she has probably wrecked many of them, what with all that clutching).

    I still don’t understand: What exactly does she do for actual voters that keeps getting her reelected?

    1. JBird4049

      What does she do for her constituents? She does a lot, but her constituents, the people who got her the position of Madam Speaker are not the voters, citizens, or residents of either her district or the state of California.

      Let’s sketch what she is to explain.

      Pelosi comes from effectively a one party state and has represented the same general area of either San Mateo and part of San Francisco counties or just about all of the city of San Francisco since 1987 or so. Before that she was the chair of the California Democratic Party, IIRC has had family political connections through her father in East and through her husband in San Francisco going back decades. Not to mention their wealth and the interlocking connections among the political and economic elites (for example the Gettys, Newsoms, Browns, and now the Pelosis have social, political, business, and yes, family connections.) in California.

      Her clique holds great power within the California Democratic Party. A party that does identity politics really well, is lucratively locked into the agriculture, tech, finance, and what’s left of the state’s media. The party owns San Francisco as well as the wealthy Blue areas of California with the possible exception of some small parts of Southern California. The state is a smaller version of the rest of the United States except for the fact that the California Republican Party made the national party look sane and followed up with immigration bashing and not so covert racism in a state stuffed with immigrants. So now the Democrats have a supermajority in the legislature.

      So long as the Democratic establishment with its connections in the media, the literati, and glitterati run this Banana Republic of California, Doña Pelosi does not have to do anything for her apparent constituents. She just has to keep helping her family and friends, plus their associates. Those are the people whose votes matter.

  16. Carla

    Yuval Noah Harari, a bestselling author and history professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, calls the Haredim “the most successful experiment so far in how to live a contented life in a post-work world.”


    Hah! Wonder what his WIFE says!

    1. jonboinAR

      As long as my bills were taken care of, I’m sure I’d do just fine in a post-work world. ;-)

      1. Carla

        Sent you an email, Jon and haven’t heard back. If your email address changed, please email me! Mine hasn’t! Signed, your old email pen-pal.

    2. mle detroit

      Harari is gay. His husband runs the business side of Harari’s celebrity schtick. But “Sapiens” is a fascinating and enjoyable book.

      1. Carla

        So Harari’s husband (wife?) is not raising their large Orthodox family of children AND working full-time to support Harari and said children?

        Well, then, I guess Harari’s got a raw deal./s

        1. David R Smith

          They’re not Orthodox. Harari just commented on their lifestyle. The New Yorker ran a long piece recently on the couple and Harari’s writings and politics.

  17. voislav

    Correction regarding Howie Hawkins and Twitter. His personal account @HowieHawkins was never suspended. His campaign account @HowieHawkins20 was and still is suspended.

  18. Oguk

    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.

    It depends on the metric. “New cases per day” or “New deaths per day” should certainly curve down in order to flatten the cumulative metric, log scale or not. That’s the point of Noah’s graph (and metric choice).
    Myself, I think it’s easier to see flattening on the linear y-axis, since the intervals get compressed in the log view.
    Anyway I agree on the premature triumphalism, which seems more like panic control messaging.

  19. Wukchumni

    The wheels are coming off the fiat financial system and only one old time instrument is stable.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Not to worry, our leaders have this covered. I wrote my representatives and senators observing that they have screwed us ordinary people once again, and got this canned reply from the worst of them:

      Dear Mr. McPher, [sic]

      Thank you for contacting me regarding the federal response to the Coronavirus global pandemic. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

      Congress recently passed, and the President signed into law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which helps those workers who have lost their jobs, had their hours cut or are getting lower tips, and small businesses that have been forced to close or have lost significant revenue. There are many good things in this bill, including funding for our health care workers, personal protective equipment and expanded testing, and support for small businesses.

      We have to remember that $2 trillion in new spending means a $2 trillion tax increase somewhere down the road – even in a crisis, we need to be smart about how we spend taxpayer dollars. When this crisis is over, Congress MUST propose a plan that cuts federal spending over 10 years by AT LEAST the total amount this bill spends.

      Again, thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding the Coronavirus. Please reach out to my office with any specific questions on the resources available in the CARES Act. I am proud to represent all Floridians and am working diligently to help get the necessary resources to Floridians to combat this public health crisis.

      Rick Scott
      United States Senator

      So see? The coffers will be refilled, so no sweat!

      And how are your gold investments working out for you? https://goldprice.org/

      This is stable?

      1. Wukchumni

        Your evang Senator Rick Scott apparently has made it mucho difficult to get unemployment benefits, which means Florida probably goes feral first, fitting that.

        1. JTMcPhee

          The problem with unemployment benefit applications, coverage and effectiveness In FL and a lot of other places goes back a very long way. Florida’s political system has been owned by the Chamber of Commerce, especially the development/tourism and ag parts, for decades. It’s a “right to work” state, and if you ain’t working, tough noogies.

          The Dem party here is the worst of the worst when it comes to stomping the working class — run by Debbie Does Downtrodding Wasserman Schultz and her crowd. Hardly a peep out of the Dems from their Rep-gerrymandered Safe Seats in the state legislature, and their candidates for major state offices and federal positions are wimps and Business Class down the line. The only exception to that I can see is a young woman, Nikki Fried, who managed to get elected Secretary of Agriculture and is pushing Populist and progressive issues Within her portfolio and standing up to the Rep governor who is botching the CV response here While angling to strip her of any power.

          How well is CA doing with the workers comp claims process, relative to FL? But that’s all divide-and-conquer crap, talking about who’s worse. It’s bad everywhere, for the working class, because the rich folks took the Powell Memorandum as their order of march and went after the prize of hegemony for the privileged and all their specialness, full bore, 24/7/365. And enough of their sympathizers have been able to infill the Party of FDR to the point where Joe Biden ends up as their standard bearer.

          Sick Rott’s letter really lays it out — MMT for the rich folks, then us mopes are going to pay for it with tax cuts for the rich and tax burdens and destruction of the remaining tidbits of the New Deal to Defeat the Deficit!!! for the rest of us. And Rott is no evang. He is as amorally grasping as they come.

          I doubt going back on the gold standard is either likely to happen or any kind of effective anodyne for the problems the mopes of America face. But iT would, no doubt, as in the past, work out pretty good for the well-to-do.

          1. Wukchumni

            Gosh, i’d tell you to head for the Florida Alps, but it isn’t as if being 300 odd feet above the fray is going to make any difference.

            California is doing better I suppose in terms of unemployment benefits, but unlike the Feds can’t conjure money out of thin air, combined with a sudden lack of tax revenue coming in.

            You can sense the whole shooting works is about to become undone from a fiscal standpoint, as the ‘Sinatra Doctrine’ kicks in even more, and states are free to do it ‘My Way’.

  20. Oregoncharles

    ““Will the Pandemic Keep Third Parties Off the 2020 Ballot? [Politico]”
    Thanks for the coverage on this, Lambert. I’ve been referencing it in comments, but this has all sorts of concrete detail – and numbers slightly different from the ones I get from the party – though not enough to actually matter.

    And also for covering Twitter’s ban on Howie’s campaign account – or rather, Howie’s attempt to get around it by using his personal account for campaigning. Voislav’s correction is just above.

  21. Watt4Bob

    Throughout the Trump era, a supermajority of self-described Democrats have expressed the belief that Russia “tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected president” in 2016. Not just lightly interfered with some small-scale social media chicanery, mind you, but literally hacked the nation’s election infrastructure to put Trump in the White House. Which is of course demonstrably false, but still widely believed by Democrats…..

    I respectfully disagree.

    As anyone who has been paying attention to the electronic voting story since 2000 knows, these systems are eminently hackable. In fact, they are designed to allow hacking.

    It has been pointed out repeatedly that one of the most obvious dangers in allowing the use of hackable electronic voting systems is that no one knows who the last one to hack the vote is.

    How does Karl Rove, or Tom Perez know for sure that after they log out of their sleazy systems, that the Russians, or the Chinese, or who the hell knows, don’t hack in after them and change the vote?

    It should be clear to anyone paying attention since 2000, that neither party is interested in securing our elections.

    1. Watt4Bob

      I hope it’s clear that I am not agreeing with ignorant dems, but simply pointing out that we can’t have faith in our election results since the advent of electronic voting systems.

      And since neither party has ever challenged the flakey results, or paid attention to the numerous demonstrations of successful hacking at the hands of experts, and even young kids, how can we declare with a straight face that rumors of hacked elections are “demonstrably false”?

    2. Yves Smith

      No, you do not understand AT ALL. They are not “hackable” in the sense you mean. They are not connected to the Internet.

      Please tell me how Russians interfere with INDIVIDUAL voting machines, each isolated from each other? Oh, and with no commonality of those machines or software either.

      1. Watt4Bob

        The individual voting machines are not the target, the tabulators are.

        In 2004, Ohio votes were initially tabulated by servers in Kentucky, with the results sent back to the ‘official’ system in the Secretary of State’s office in Ohio.

        That’s a classic Man-in-the Middle hack, and should never have been tolerated.

        The hack was designed by Michael Connell who was set to testify before congress when he died in a small plane crash.

        Connell had been threatened by his boss, Karl Rove, who wanted him to “take the fall”.

        How in the world do you morph the accusation that Russians hacked our “nation’s election infrastructure” into they hacked our “INDIVIDUAL voting machines”?

        Once more, I am not promoting the deranged story the dims would have us believe, I am not saying the Russians hacked the vote for Trump, I am simply pointing out that we cannot trust any election executed on electronic voting systems, and further, the perpetrators of electronic election have no way of knowing whether they are the last ones to change the votes.

      2. Watt4Bob

        Sorry Yves, upon further consideration of our misunderstanding, I think I understand where I errored in my comment.

        I did not clearly explain that my objection was to the word “demonstrably”.

        It is my contention that the security of electronic voting systems cannot be demonstrated therefore while I agree that the accusation of Russians hacking the vote to elect Trump is ridiculous on its face, and I believe it to be obviously false, I cannot agree that it is demonstrably false.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Various hacks perpetrated by Republicans have been called out over the years by activists with detailed cases to make, though I grant not in the mainstream. Activists in Ohio, for example, made a very good case for election 2004. Similarly for the Democrat primary of 2016 in California. So I find it odd that no substantive proof whatever has ever emerged that Russian hacking of election results. None whatever. And the burden of proof to provide evidence should be on those making the claim. (It’s the same with Facebook memes. Enormous hysteria, and at the end of the day, no proof that votes were changed, and especially not in such a fashion to change an election.) Not to mention that if hacking is done, domestic actors, not foreign, are far more likely to the perps.

          But if you have a religion, there must be articles of faith….

          1. Watt4Bob

            The blind eye that our elites have decided to turn towards wholesale electronic voting fraud on the part of domestic actors, also serves to cover the actions of foreign interests.

            It’s fair to ask what further harm foreign actors could do considering where we find ourselves.

  22. GramSci

    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.

    “Total cases” will never curve down. On 91-DIVOC I’ve been tracking “Active cases”. They can and should curve down.

    If only…

  23. Carey

    ‘National governments are joining the ‘Big Tech’ club’:

    “..To track people’s everyday movements, countries from Australia to Austria have soaked up piles of (anonymized) smartphone data from local telecoms operators. To police widespread lockdowns, others are relying on location details gleaned from digital advertising sold through popular online services. And almost 40 governments worldwide have rolled out — or are about to — their own coronavirus apps for everything from informing people if they’ve been in contact with anyone infected with COVID-19 to ensuring those that already have it stay home.

    All of this should set off alarm bells.

    Big Tech has become a global punching bag because of fears that Silicon Valley has too much control over our daily lives. But in their legitimate efforts to keep people safe, officials across the European Union, United States and elsewhere are quickly falling into the same trap — creating a government surveillance network on the fly, with little oversight and almost no clarity about when it will be shut down..”


    “contact tracing”… should be fine

    Kurt Nimmo- COVID-19, Smartphone Surveillance, and the State:


  24. ChrisAtRU

    Sanders (D)(2)


    IMO, I don’t think Russia played big this cycle. That article was a desperate attempt to smear Bernie, and yes – as should have been done since 2016 – he should have ridiculed and rejected the suggestion. For that brief moment, you could see (and smell) the anxiety at MSNBC & CNN. Their that attempts to manufacture consent – via stories like the Russia WaPo one – had failed. Go back to the Rising interview with Chuck Rocha from last week = “10 days before the SC primary, Bernie was ahead in all the Super Tuesday states”. Clyburn’s endorsement in SC and the dropping out of Pete and Amy were bigger factors. How stupid establishment media looked when Tulsi endorsed Biden after being accused of being a Russian asset by none other that Abuela del Diablo herself.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Poor Bernie. He signed up with Russiagate thinking that it would keep him sweet with the Democrats and then when out that airport, they ambush him with the claim that the Russians were reportedly trying to boost his campaign. It left him nowhere to go. It was like the classic ‘Are you still beating your wife’ type of question.

      I would deary love to know how many Democrat operatives were working in Bernie’s campaign – particularly with his advisors. I would for a start look at those three people that came over from Harry Reid’s office but there must have been more of them. From what I heard, I bet that they helped squander his finances and spend it in dead end areas and hiring useless people.

      Guaranteed that the Democrats had lots of help. Remember all those ex-military and intelligence types that went into office as Democrats about two years ago? I bet that they provided a lot of back channels for the Democrats on intelligence and the like – no tin-foil cap necessary. If Trump’s political campaign was being tapped back in 2016, then you can bet that Bernie was as well.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I would deary love to know how many Democrat operatives were working in Bernie’s campaign – particularly with his advisors

        Hopefully one side effect of the Sanders 2020 campaign is that there are now enough experienced left operatives that the DC types can be told to go pound sand. (There is expertise involved, and for awhile the the two party Establishments had a monopoly on it. I don’t think that’s true any more.)

        1. Oregoncharles

          There was a former Dem operative – forget his name, not worth looking up – teaching at our Green Party campaign school in Portland, month or so ago.

          Trouble was, his expertise tends to involve lots of money that we don’t have. So yet another learning curve.

  25. Wukchumni

    Georgia is going to re-open up for biz soon, and tattoo parlors will be one of the going concerns allowed to ply their trade…

    For some time now i’ve been gauging young adults visible net worth via this mechanism, and its not uncommon to see somebody that blew 5 figures on themselves.

    1. fajensen

      Of course: Tattoo shops are also a conduit for money laundering.

      As such, they are ‘systemically important’ for the more colourful kinds of business people; people who traditionally donate fairly handsomely to politics and various ‘charities’.

  26. ChrisPacific

    Plus you can use it for pizza topping at end-of-life.

    Not just at end-of-life, apparently:

    The boat is still alive, which means it fruits — grows mushrooms — each time they take it out for a paddle.

    I don’t think it will win any beauty contests though.

    1. Wukchumni

      Watched a 2 1/2 hour documentary film on the 1964 Tokyo Olympics yesterday, and no corporate bullshit and all amateur athletes like it used to be once upon a time. It was quite refreshing.

      I haven’t watched an Olympics in real time in over 30 years.

  27. Wukchumni

    I’m proud to announce the launch of Bitumen Coin, whose value goes up as the price of crude decreases. It’s strictly an unlimited edition, and only 22 billion Bitumen Coins exist, don’t miss out on this investment vehicle.

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