2:00PM Water Cooler 4/21/2020

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.

Facebook county data:

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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.


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

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

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

* * *


Biden (D)(1): “Biden says he would pick Michelle Obama as running mate ‘in a heartbeat'” [The Hill]. “‘I’d take her in a heartbeat,’ Biden told Pittsburgh’s KDKA on Monday when asked if he’d choose Obama if she said she would be willing to be on the ticket with him. ‘She’s brilliant. She knows the way around. She is a really fine woman. The Obamas are great friends,’ Biden added.” • Seems legit. Dynastic succession seems to be thing, doesn’t it? Bushes, Clintons, Obamas…. Anyhow, it worked for Imelda Marcos, so what’s the issue?

Biden (D)(2): SInce I’ve run some Trump ads, here’s a Biden ad:

Readers, how would you compare them?

Biden (D)(3): “Why Democrats should stop worrying about Biden’s low profile” [WaPo]. “One thing we can say for sure is that Biden’s relative quiet isn’t changing anything fundamental about the contest between him and President Trump. He leads Trump by about six points in poll matchups right now. On March 1, he was ahead by about five. On Feb. 1, he was ahead by about six. On Jan. 1, he was ahead by about six. And in the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Biden led Trump by seven points overall and six points in battleground states. So he’s doing pretty well, and the two candidates’ relative standing is not changing…. In other words, it’s not like Biden’s seclusion is losing him any votes. You might argue that if there were no pandemic, Biden would be winning more converts every day, but there isn’t much reason to believe that’s true. Meanwhile, Trump is getting poor marks for his performance, even if his support within his base remains in place.”

Biden (D)(4): “The Moral and Strategic Calculus of Voting for Joe Biden to Defeat Trump — or Not” [The Intercept]. “So what should people who want Trump gone but cannot stand Biden do?” • This is a very balanced piece, welll worth a read.

Cuomo (D)(1): “Nurses lawsuit: New York failed to protect health care workers and the public” [Politico]. “The New York State Nurses Association filed suits against the state health department and two hospitals Monday, alleging that the entities failed in their ‘core duty of protecting health care workers and the public at large.’… ‘Infected health care workers have become vectors of virus transmission to their families and the public at large,’ according to the suit, which was filed Monday in state Supreme Court in Manhattan. ‘DOH’s actions have thus created a nuisance to public health, which, although acutely injurious to frontline nurses, has endangered the public at large.'”

Sanders (D)(1): A take I have not seen: Canvassing v. the media:

Any theory of Sanders’ failure needs to give an account of his steady, machine-like rise in the polls, even after the night of the long knives.

Trump (R)(1): Pelosi’s freezer:

* * *

“Milwaukee Documents Seven Coronavirus Cases Linked to In-Person Voting” [The Intercept]. “THE CITY OF Milwaukee has identified seven positive coronavirus cases linked to in-person voting on April 7, according to a city health official. Six people who voted in person in Milwaukee tested positive, as did one poll worker, Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik told The Intercept. Tuesday marks the two-week incubation period since the election. The city’s health department is still missing a significant amount of data from ongoing investigations into the spread of the virus following the election, she said, but they expect a more complete picture by Friday. ‘Right now we have identified six cases that were tied to in-person voting. And one election worker was also positive,’ Kowalik said. ‘There are a lot of missing data through the investigations and contact tracing, so we’re waiting for 70 percent of the fields to be populated.'” • As predicted, and shown by alert reader AH four days ago.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Nostalgia for the Obama Era, explained in one chart:

Neatly divided into 1% (up), 9% (up), and 90% (down). The Democrat base, the PMC, did very well for themselves under Obama.

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.

Housing: “February 2020 CoreLogic Single-Family Rent Index: Rents Increasing At 3.6% For Lower Price Rentals” [Econintersect]. “The Single-Family Rent Index (SFRI), which analyzes single-family rent price changes nationally and among 20 metropolitan areas shows a national rent increase of 3.3% year over year, up slightly from a 3% year-over-year increase in February 2019. National rent price growth in February 2020 marked the highest annual gain since August 2016. However, as consumers contend with widespread unemployment in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, there may be a downshift in demand in the medium-term.”

* * *

Commodities: “The U.S. food system is facing deepening challenges across more supply chains under the coronavirus pandemic. Production has been curtailed at a range of facilities across the country, the Jesse Newman and Annie Gasparro report, while food companies institute precautions to maintain or restore production to keep grocery stores stocked’ [Wall Street Journal]. “Food makers outside the meat sector initially were able to maintain operations, in part because packaged-food production is typically heavily automated. Now packaged-food executives are growing concerned about mounting illnesses at their plants and those in their supply chain.”

Commodities: “Negative Oil Prices Are A Long Squeeze, Not A Crisis” [Forbes]. • Theories on oil prices. Oil mavens?

Shipping: “Tanker operators are reaping big returns even as the oil sector is wracked by growing turmoil. One measure of U.S. oil futures plummeted to below zero for the first time ever and other prices also dived… in a chaotic demonstration that storage space for the world’s crude is quickly disappearing in a stalled global economy” [Wall Street Journal]. “That’s providing an opportunity for oil traders and for the tanker operators that are filling their vessels with crude at higher prices and then setting them adrift. Lease rates for very large crude carriers are up sharply over last year, and oil traders are looking for more ships in a bet that oil prices will rebound this fall.”

The Bezzle: “Uber and Lyft Are Searching for Lifelines” [New York Times]. “The two companies, which were never close to being profitable when the economy was booming, face an existential question: How will they and their drivers stay afloat when most people are staying home?… For now, the strategy at Uber and Lyft, like that at many other companies, appears to be: Wait it out. Financial analysts expect the companies to cut back on marketing and the incentives they often offer for drivers. If widespread shelter-in-place orders continue through the summer, analysts said, layoffs or furloughs among the companies’ thousands of office workers are possible. Also, they’re trying to deliver food — as much of it as possible.”

Honey for the Bears: “Even Without A Pandemic, It’s Hard To Forecast A Recession” [FiveThirtyEight]. “Economists aren’t especially good at predicting recessions. In this instance, with at least 20 million people out of work in the U.S. and pretty much every country suffering from the pandemic, it seems almost certain that we’re in one. But forecasting the path of a recession isn’t an easy task under the best of circumstances. And we are not living through the best of circumstances right now. “This is not a situation where you can push a button on the computer and out comes a number,” said Jonathan Wright, a professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University. ‘It’s detective work. And it will mostly be wildly wrong.’ And we also don’t know how it will be wrong. The forecasters are pretty much in agreement that the next months are going to be full of economic pain — but there’s a lot less consensus about how quickly the economy will bounce back.”

Honey for the Bears: “New repercussions from the coronavirus-driven business lockdowns are already forming in legal circles. Companies are suspending or terminating business agreements by relying on a rarely invoked escape hatch in the fine print of many commercial contracts… setting up potential court challenges over ‘force majeure’ clauses that can effectively throw out agreements between businesses” [Wall Street Journal]. “The ‘act of God’ trigger started coming up in commercial contracts connected to China as the country locked down factories in February, and it’s coming into play as more buyers cancel orders and reject deliveries from suppliers.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 41 Fear (previous close: 41 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 45 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 21 at 12:15pm.

The Biosphere

“Running a car costs much more than people think — stalling the uptake of green travel” [Nature]. “We surveyed more than 6,000 citizens across Germany to investigate whether consumers grasp the total cost of car ownership. We also performed a simple analysis to explore the potential implications of this awareness on the number of cars on the road. We find that people underestimate the total cost of owning a car by about 50%. We also found that providing personalized information on the costs of car ownership increased respondents’ willingness to pay for a public-transport ticket by around 22% (see Supplementary information; SI). We estimate that educating people in Germany about the true cost could reduce car ownership by up to 37% and cut associated transport emissions by 23%. Here, we suggest labelling and communication policies that could help to speed the transition to cleaner transport.”


“The American west’s drought is its second-worst for 12 centuries” [Economist]. “The south-west of the United States, together with adjacent parts of Mexico across the Rio Grande, is one of the driest parts of the North American continent. But, over the past two decades, even that expected dryness has been taken to the limit. According to Park Williams, who works at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the current lack of rainfall in the area constitutes a megadrought of a magnitude seen on only four other occasions in the past 1,200 years. Dr Williams and his collaborators studied the annual growth rings of 1,586 ancient trees from Oregon and Montana all the way down to the northern reaches of Mexico, in order to reconstruct soil-moisture patterns going back to 800ad.”

Our Famously Free Press

“Misinformation During a Pandemic” (PDF) [Leonardo Bursztyn, Aakaash Rao, Christopher Roth, and David Yanagizawa-Drott Becker Friedman Institute]. From the abstract: “[W]e present novel survey evidence that Hannity’s viewers changed behavior in response to the virus later than other Fox News viewers, while Carlson’s viewers changed behavior earlier. We then turn to the effects on the pandemic itself, examining health outcomes across counties. First, we document that greater viewership of Hannity relative to Tucker Carlson Tonight is strongly associated with a greater number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the early stages of the pandemic. The relationship is stable across an expansive set of robustness tests. To better identify the effect of differential viewership of the two shows, we employ a novel instrumental variable strategy exploiting variation in when shows are broadcast in relation to local sunset times. These estimates also show that greater exposure to Hannity relative to Tucker Carlson Tonight is associated with a greater number of county-level cases and deaths. Furthermore, the results suggest that in mid-March, after Hannity’s shift in tone, the diverging trajectories on COVID-19 cases begin to revert. We provide additional evidence consistent with misinformation being an important mechanism driving the effects in the data. While our findings cannot yet speak to long-term effects, they indicate that provision of misinformation in the early stages of a pandemic can have important consequences for how a disease ultimately affects the population.” • Big if true. University of Chicago, “novel survey evidence,” “novel instrumental variable strategy.” Would some methodology maven like to dig in?

Health Care

“Chaos and competition for vital coronavirus test could slow reopening of the economy” [Los Angeles Times]. “Dozens of companies have rushed tests onto the market that promise to tell users whether they have been exposed to the virus, and therefore may have some kind of immunity. These serology tests, which look for antibodies in blood that have the ability to fight off the virus, are rolling out at a rapid pace both for private individuals looking for hope and clarity, and public health officials increasingly pressured for timelines for reducing social restrictions. They range from simple sticks that work like a pregnancy test and rely on a few drops of blood, to complex lab tests that use the live virus and can be performed only in high-security settings. But the tests may face much of the same lack of availability as their diagnostic counterparts. In some cases, the screenings require the same mixing liquids that are in short supply for those earlier tests, potentially sparking another round of fierce competition between states, cities and counties — and even the federal government — all vying for the same limited resources as more places begin immunity testing.”

“Louisiana Pastor Who Refused Pandemic Orders Announces He Will Accept Pandemic Checks” [Jonathan Turley]. “We previously discussed the defiance of Louisiana Pastor Tony Spell who refused to stop holding large services as the state struggled to control the coronavirus. Now, Spell has announced that while he wants nothing to do with orders designed to control the virus, he would appreciate the faithful sending him and other churches their pandemic stimulus checks. We also previously discussed televangelists telling the faithful that the pandemic and economic collapse is not excuse to stop sending tithes to the churches. Spell has launched the #PastorSpellStimulusChallenge, to collect stimulus checks for churches and ministers.”

“Iowa prisons, jails, meatpacking plants and long-term care facilities face growing COVID-19 challenges” [Des Moines Register]. “Iowa meat-processing plants and long-term care facilities are being ravaged by COVID-19, the potentially fatal respiratory disease. Now it’s begun appearing among another of Iowa’s most susceptible populations: People in jails and prisons. The state has stepped up targeted testing among those populations as a result. Those efforts contributed to 827 new positive coronavirus cases reported since Saturday, or more than a quarter of the state’s 3,159 total positive tests since the pandemic began. Two-thirds of the positive tests reported Sunday, 261 of the 389 total tests, were from workers at meat-processing facilities. Forty-eight percent of the state’s 79 deaths involved residents of long-term care facilities.” • More Petris dishes…

Class Warfare

I’m not the only one being harsh on this. Thread:

Do follow the thread all the way through.

“A New Doctor Faces the Coronavirus in Queens” [The New Yorker]. “‘It’s become very clear to me what a socioeconomic disease this is,’ [Hashem Zikry, an E.R. doctor] told me. ‘People hear that term ‘essential workers.’ Short-order cooks, doormen, cleaners, deli workers—that is the patient population here. Other people were at home, but my patients were still working. A few weeks ago, when they were told to socially isolate, they still had to go back to an apartment with ten other people. Now they are in our cardiac room dying.’ Zikry, whom I have spoken to regularly in the past month, has extraordinary resilience and good humor; on this day, he sounded despondent. ‘After my shift, I went for a run in Central Park, and I see these two women out in, like, full hazmat suits, basically, and gloves, screaming at people to keep six feet away while they’re power walking. And I’m thinking, You know what, you’re not the ones who are at risk.'” • And afterwards, brunch.

“Precarious Work Isn’t New — It’s Part of How Capitalism Functions” [Jacobin]. “Today, there’s a broad consensus that neoliberalism is making work more precarious. Indeed, for four decades and more, successive governments in developed countries have passed various measures to flexibilize the labor market. These measures increasingly allow businesses to use fixed-term contracts with a definite end date. Added to these are other measures that make it easier for employers to lay off staff… Precarity is, in a sense, inherent to the very nature of employment contracts under capitalism. In principle — at the juridical level — a worker is free to negotiate the price of her own labor power, on an equal footing with her putative employer. According to this liberal conception, the employment relation — whether or not it takes the form of a contract — is thus a commercial transaction between formally equal subjects. Naturally, this equality in law does not translate into real-life equality…. The idea of a stable, long-term job is, in fact, something relatively new, when we look at the history of capitalism as a whole. These measures were possible only due to the strength of the labor movement and the strong economic growth of the postwar decades. Once these conditions were gone, stable and long-term jobs in capitalism appeared rather more of a short-term ‘parenthesis.’ Today, employment contracts are less and less associated with a protection from market forces. Both governments and employers use the vocabulary of the individual worker’s “mobility” and “liberty” to justify reforms to flexibilize the labor market.”

“Employers start to suspend their 401(k) match” [MarketWatch]. “The question is how quickly employers will resume their 401(k) match. An analysis of the 2008-09 suspensions showed the main motivator was liquidity constraints in the face of a recession and a banking crisis. The picture is quite different this time around. Yes, liquidity is a problem, since hotels, providers of travel, and retailers cannot sell their products. But this time, the collapse is of greater severity, so more employers may end up taking the more drastic step of furloughing employees (which suspends all retirement contributions by definition). Nevertheless, if the economy rebounds quickly and employers compete for employees by resuming the 401(k) match, the impact on individuals — of at least this one provision — will be modest. Alternatively, if the recession drags on and these suspensions lead to a permanent decline of the 401(k) employer match, significantly fewer people will participate in 401(k) plans — especially among the lower paid — and many of those affected will end up with an inadequate retirement income.” • Everything’s going according to plan!

“Amazon-owned Whole Foods is quietly tracking its employees with a heat map tool that ranks which stores are most at risk of unionizing” [Business Insider]. “Whole Foods is keeping an eye on stores at risk of unionizing through an interactive heat map, according to five people with knowledge of the matter and internal documents…. The heat map is powered by an elaborate scoring system, which assigns a rating to each of Whole Foods’ 510 stores based on the likelihood that their employees might form or join a union. The stores’ individual risk scores are calculated from more than two dozen metrics, including employee ‘loyalty,’ turnover, and racial diversity; ‘tipline’ calls to human resources; proximity to a union office; and violations recorded by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The map also tracks local economic and demographic factors such as the unemployment rate in a store’s location and the percentage of families in the area living below the poverty line. The stores’ scores on each metric are fed into the heat map, which is a geographic illustration of the United States peppered with red spots to indicate high-risk Whole Foods stores.

“The Windbag City (w/ Marshall Steinbaum)” (podcast) [Know Your Enemy]. • On the origin and metastasization of the Chicago School. Names many names.

“The Long New Deal” [Journal of Peasant Studies]. “The twenty-five to thirty-four-year-old farming demographic grew from 2007 to 2012. And although some farmers under forty-five are conservative, there are reasons for qualified optimism. A survey by the National Young Farmers Coalition suggests that there’s a generation of young people who want to farm sustainably, organically, and as a part of a robust local food system (Ackoff, Bahrenburg, and Shute 2017). Their main concerns are an inability to afford land, student debt, poor health care, and a shortfall of skilled farm labor. Readers in urban areas may recognize some of these concerns as their own. And it offers an opportunity for the Green New Deal to build a bloc that might counter the dominant one.” • Very interesting comparison between the New Deal and (a potential) Green New Deal.

“The Bourgeois Internationale I” [Law and Political Economy]. “I see no practicable path forward for real constitutional reform of the Eurozone. Perhaps the COVID-19 pandemic will force a new reckoning, though I rather doubt it; the European Left has obviously failed to advance any such ‘comprehensive alternative’ in good times and it is not clear what resources (electoral, ideological, institutional) it has to fall back on now during bad times. Beyond outsider-utopian organizations, such as Varoufakis’s DiEM25, the urgent need to ‘democratize’ the structures of the European Union is not even discussed anymore; a call to defend ‘Europe’ now seems to suffice for the progressive side of the debate. More modestly, the transfer of powers from the European Commission to the European Parliament (in line with reform proposals by Thomas Piketty and others) or even the creation of a joint Franco-German budget (as Emmanuel Macron has more dubiously proposed) seem to be going nowhere fast. Meanwhile, Angela Merkel’s governing coalition is falling apart, and, in retrospect, what will be said of her with regard to her European leadership is that she kept the show on the road without compromising Germany’s place in it all: apres elle, le deluge.”

News of the Wired

For Photoshop mavens and digital artists:


“Upvote To Sacrifice Your Firstborn To Moloch. Line Must Go Up!” [Reddit].

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pq writes: “Social distancing.”

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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. Jason Boxman

    Democrats freaking out about Trump’s name in the memo field of the stimulus checks is truly hilarious. They might try material benefits sometime and take credit for it.

    This betrays that Democrats understand the value of such benefits in garnering votes, but given the choice, and consumed with the tenants of meritocracy, prefer denying material benefits wherever possible.

    1. XXYY

      They might try material benefits sometime and take credit for it.

      I had this same thought. If a politician wants to feed, clothe, and comfort the afflicted, I for one don’t mind if they put their name on it, even if they are doing it purely for the sake of self promotion.

      Whatever works.

      Maybe next we can talk Cheeto into sponsoring The Donald J. Trump Medicare For All System for the US.

    2. JBird4049

      It is not the idiotic signature that is my beef. And the feckless pseudo-concern of the Democratic Party is normal.

      It is that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin thought it would be cool to delay sending out the checks by a week so that the millions of desperate Americans could admire President Trump’s entirely superfluous memo line signature. What part of economic collapse does the man not understand?

      No, he probably understands it quite well, but thought the optics of Il Duce getting the implied credit for the money. A little banana republican political theater here.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Nothing like the big screen, though. That’s a loss. And to the extent that film-making is an art, the art is degraded. You couldn’t shrink the Mona Lisa to postcard size and claim the artist’s intent wasn’t violated.

      1. Toshiro_Mifune

        Comedies with an audience. That would be a loss. Most of the other stuff I have to agree with Carolinian.

        IDK Lambert – Most of the “Big Screens” aren’t that big anymore. Multiplexes mostly killed off the really big screens in the 80s and 90s

        1. Toshiro_Mifune

          I am sympathetic though. Artists/Directors/Cinematographers created their works with a certain expectation on how the audience would view them**. It’s best to view some films in the venue it was intended for.
          In the same way, some albums are best listened to on vinyl. They were recorded with the expectation that you would be dropping the need on the record and not skipping tracks like crazy on a CD player or playing only certain mp3s.

          ** Although, this has diminished a lot since the DVD.

      2. Wukchumni

        The Mona Lisa is about the size of 4 postcards, if memory serves.

        I loved going to larger screen cinemas when I lived in LA, the Cinerama Dome, Westwood, Hastings Ranch in Pasadena, and a few others i’ve conveniently forgotten.

        1. Carolinian

          IMAX is still around. That’s pretty big depending on the theater. Maybe drive ins will make a comeback in the age of Covid. However with those the picture is so dim you’ll wish you were in your living room, assuming the movie itself is the object.

          Look up Cinerama on the toobz. It was a rather amazing operation with three projectors running in synch, a screen made up of Venetian blind style vertical strips, a sound man down in the auditorium operating a mixer board.

          1. Wukchumni

            Last movie we saw @ the Cinerama Dome was Sam Peckingpah’s The Wild Bunch which was fan-fricking-tabulous!

        2. Harold

          Théodore Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa is 16′ 1″ x 23′ 6″

          Not unusual for a historical painting (the most prestigious genre). The unveilings of paintings such as these took place before large crowds.

          In more modern times Picasso’s Guernica is 25′ 6″ x 11′ 6″

          Mona Lisa BTW is 30″ x 21″

              1. ambrit

                That and Cezanne’s self portrait. I was amazed at how ‘intimate’ it was when I saw it in a travelling show of Impressionist works.

              2. Carey

                Piero della Francesca, Antonello da Messina, Giovanni Bellini: that was my time. Thanks for the link!


              3. Kurt Sperry

                That painting is in Urbino, if you ever get the chance see Piero’s Resurrection at the city gallery in Sansepolcro across from the duomo that Aldous Huxley famously called the greatest painting in the world. There is also a Piero altarpiece on wood in the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria in Perugia that left me slack-jawed.

      3. Carolinian

        Hey my screen–actually a white wall–is pretty big. I’ve been in some movie theaters where the screen wasn’t much bigger. And you can buy inexpensive projectors now from China (well, could) that deliver the same 1080p resolution that most cinema digital projectors use.

        True, comedies benefit from an audience. But if you go through the list of recent movies you’ll notice that funny ha ha comedies are somewhat thin on the ground. This is partly because the biz is very international now and action movies sell. Animation is the last hold out for the comedy/variety format.

        1. Acacia

          Maybe “most cinema digital projectors” are 2K in your town, but globally theaters are going 4K. Many are already there and projected market for 4K in cinemas is $1.2 Billion by 2024. Maybe you don’t notice the difference between 2K, 4K and 35mm, but many people do. Of course, you could drop a few grand for your own 4K projector, and 4K BluRay player. The Pelosi household probably has two of them.

          But basically, it sounds like you’re just fine with the monopolists of the TV and streaming businesses taking over and letting all those hated theaters die, because a few iPhone fiddlers in a theater once bothered you.

          1. Carolinian

            globally theaters are going 4K

            The initial wave was 2K with some theaters using Sony 4K. But you are right that I haven’t checked into this lately.

            As to your second paragraph, that doesn’t make any sense insofar as those TV and streaming “monopolists” are mostly the same people who fill the theaters with comic book movies every summer. This isn’t some noble battle of art versus commerce unless you think Wonder Woman is art. And of course home projection isn’t confined to Netflix as most people use it for watching films that are on optical discs.

            And finally I don’t of course “hate” movie theaters having spent so much of my time in them. I’m merely suggesting that as a practical matter they are doomed and the relic of another age. Buggy whips have had it too.

      4. DJG

        Lambert Strether: Agreed. The large screen and the way that it overwhelms the visual field is the main (maybe the only) way that movies can be as effective as theater in shaping the emotions, senses, and sentimental education of the viewer. On very small screens, the film is just television–which people watch in a distracted way, much different from that almost-palpable attention that we give to theater, music, and film.

        Here in Chicago, many of the multiplexes have gigantic screens. It isn’t hard to find one for the full viewing experience. I’ll skip the popcorn, though.

        As a kind of test: I have seen Gentlemen Prefer Blondes on the big screen and on the small (TV) screen. On TV, one can hardly tell what’s going on, let alone drink in the sheer star power of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell.

        1. Carolinian

          But movie screen versus TV isn’t what I’m talking about. Home projectors are quite good now. In fact film projection, for all intents and purposes, is dead so the “2K” projection you are seeing in the theater (some are 4K) is essentially the same as the Blu-ray you watch at home. The only real difference is the bigger screen plus all those fellow audience members fiddling with their iPhones.

          I do agree that a projected picture has a different quality from a back lit and very contrasty flat screen television. But you can have that projected picture at home now or in the back yard to impress your neighbors.

      5. Another Scott

        Not all movies are made with only the big screen in mind. In the audio commentary for Back to the Future, Robert Zemeckis said that many of his decisions regarding framing and editing were made with TV screens and full screen edits in mind.

        1. No it was not, apparently

          Thanks for this comment, I always thought that BttF looked odd, now I understand – it looked like a TV-movie.

      6. XXYY

        Not exactly disagreeing, but if you have a 70″ TV and are sitting five feet away from it, it’s at least as big as the screen in a twelve-plex. Plus better seats, better food, no driving, no one talking right behind you, $20 cheaper, movie starts when you want, can be paused when you want, and no coronavirus.

        One of the things I will miss much less than other things at the present time is movie theaters.

    2. Wellstone's Ghost

      I will miss the small art house and independent theaters. No way will they be able to make it through this.

      1. CanCyn

        Wellstone’s Ghost
        April 21, 2020 at 3:11 pm
        I will miss the small art house and independent theaters. No way will they be able to make it through this.
        The one near us is trying to stay alive. Selling gift cards and discounts on their annual membership. Their popcorn is actually pretty good. They’re selling it for curb side pickup most days. In early March before we were totally locked down, they were limiting numbers and closing alternate rows to promote social distancing.
        I love movies at home, no talkers and better snacks but I also love to see things on the big screen. I will miss movie theatres if they are gone for good.

        1. Carolinian

          Here’s another view. He says the big chains could start to come back by screening those art movies that rarely get mainstream cinema bookings.


          And maybe that will happen if the major chains themselves survive (AMC may or may not be bankrupt). But movie theaters are very expensive to run, take up a lot of real estate, and depend heavily on concession stands to make a profit. Maybe those Hollywood lobbyists will get Trump to bail them out but Trump not exactly pals with the moguls (Mnuchin once was one).

        2. Bsoder

          I doubt they’ll go, but adapt they must. In general the quality of the experience for me is from ok to awful. I have to drive (a waste), park (the lots are huge), picture quality outside of IMAX is not better that what I have at home, the sound absolutely is not better. As is the video stream I can generate – 8k @240 hertz x very large. Then there are the people; whom all assume it’s their living room. I don’t like the movie-food, and I’d pay gladly for real food, say like from a deli. Our town does own a old time large theater that shows current movies and festivals. But, that’s $30.00 in -parking fees. And a yearly membership fee (in addition to the dedicated mileage). Honestly, I’d rather spend the time & money on live acts. I’m disabled as well, and while we try as a country, sincerely to deal with this issue, still too many stupid things get build, done or implemented that just make it that much harder for me and others.

    3. Oregoncharles

      The impact on live theater and music concerts is much greater – though music can be recorded. But “concert” recordings are generally much more alive than studio ones; the Grateful Dead used a concert recording to create/sponsor their remarkable fan base.

      1. HotFlash

        Opera. I will miss opera. I already miss opera. I miss it so much, and I don’t think it is ever coming back. Not for years, not in my lifetime, most likely never. Here’s some Maria Callas as Norma, “Casta Diva”, “Chaste Goddess”.

        1. Wukchumni

          Vaudeville went bust in the Great Depression, sadly there’s precedence for such things.


          Time to promote this book again, you’ll never get a more unique one man’s critical view of goings on as they happened, versus the usual weak historical fare on the subject matter offered up presently. He was a lawyer and business never really improved for a dozen years in his practice, as in he barely got by.

          The Great Depression-A Diary by Benjamin Roth

        2. Cas

          Do you know the MET is streaming operas every night from their archive? Just go to http://www.metopera.org. And there’s the operavision.eu/en site that has operas from all over. True, it doesn’t match attending a live performance, but the it fills the need. I’m worried, too, about the future of opera. It was in trouble to begin with.

      2. John Zelnicker

        April 21, 2020 at 3:31 pm

        At several of the Dead shows I went to back in the day, they would allow a few fans to plug their tape recorders directly into the sound board, with the understanding that the recordings would ultimately be distributed among the Deadheads.

  2. zagonostra

    >How to Read the Coronavirus Graphs

    We marvel at the beautiful graphs and assiduously follow the dips and rises while first-hand accounts are much more rare (I am not disparaging graphs, that’s how I earn my daily bread).

    Just as when over 5 Million citizens lost their homes in the last crash, this one has very few in-depth reporting on individual real lives that have been turned inside out. What is easy to understand is real person telling you how he feels when he finds himself qued up in line waiting for a food handout.

    It’s not “straight-line behavior” of a plotted graph but the human misery experienced, existentially, phenomenologically when a parent can’t provide the basic necessities of life in what is supposed to be the richest country in the world.

    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.

    The notion of “flattening the curve” has become the popular way that people have come to understand quarantine measures.

  3. Painted Shut

    Progressives have been wasting time and energy trying to pull a coup d’etat within the Democrat party, when the path of least resistance may in fact be the Republican Party. A bonus: Republicans like to actually get things done, instead of just virtue signaling and having conversations. Right is the new Left!

    An opinion column, not from Bernie Sanders… Marco Rubio: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/20/opinion/marco-rubio-coronavirus-economy.html#click=https://t.co/dLufY2wIpU

    1. Jason Boxman

      Yeah, it’s truly mind blowing. And I actually agree with many of the American Conservative news items posted frequently on NC. It seems Conservatives hate the corrupt Establishment as much as the Left, and there’s even agreement on some policy.

      1. Painted Shut

        Exactly. I took issue in 2016 when Democrat (screwed over) Candidate Bernie changed back into Independent Bernie, and went back to auto-caucusing with the Democrats. What then is the point of being independent?

        Instead, I thought he missed a great opportunity to influence policy by finding common ground with Trump (TPP, etc.). And there is likewise now a great opportunity for Bernie, AOC, etc.,to find common ground with Rubio, Hawley, etc., and Trump on some progressive bipartisan legislation. There’s nothing that says progressiveness “has to” go through the democrat party. I hope that they all consider doing an end run around Pelosi, Schumer, McConnell, etc., and maybe get something done. The environment seems ripe for it. Instead of treating Congress like a middle school dance, work together. And if they do, I hope voters recognize them for their efforts.

      2. Buzz Meeks

        I agree and I still think it was huge opportunity that Occupy missed by not talking to and inviting in the people who ended up in the Tea Party. There was a lot of agreement in my area between Occupy and more conservative leaning folks who came out to help and learn about Occupy. Then the Kochs co-opted Tea Party and a strong national movement blew away.

        I pushed for that engagement in my Occupy and the more conservative leaning people were blown off.

        1. Ed Miller

          I remember that before the Tea Party was captured by Koch operatives there actually was the beginning of talks between Occupy and the Tea Party. As soon as that was apparent Mayor Bloomberg brought in his stormtroopers to break them up. Karl Denninger pointedly commented on this years ago.

          So it actually almost happened but TPTB wouldn’t let it develop. There must not be any avenues available to avoid the divide-and-conquer controls.

      3. Angie Neer

        I like sources that break out of the absurd one-dimensional left-right spectrum. The American Conservative is good in that way. They also include writers that don’t agree with each other, rather than enforcing a narrow party line.

        1. D. Fuller

          The appearance of choice. Yes, R’s are good at that. They are also good at using slogans. Whereas D’s like Pelosi and others compicate the argument with minutia that has people’s eyes glazing over.

          The R’s are also better at astroturfing. The D Party can’t even figure out how to control any narrative without messing it up.

    2. hunkerdown

      If only he weren’t the apparent point man on the current Latin American CIA regime change projects, he might have a bit more credibility on the national policy side of things.

    3. Lee

      From Robert Reich’s crystal ball back in 2010.

      The platform of the Independence Party, as well as its message, is clear and uncompromising: zero tolerance of illegal immigrants; a freeze on legal immigration from Latin America, Africa and Asia; increased tariffs on all imports; a ban on American companies moving their operations to another country or outsourcing abroad; a prohibition on “sovereign wealth funds” investing in the United States. America will withdraw from the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund; end all “involvements” in foreign countries; refuse to pay any more interest on our debt to China, essentially defaulting on it; and stop trading with China until China freely floats its currency.
      Profitable companies will be prohibited from laying off workers and cutting payrolls. The federal budget must always be balanced. The Federal Reserve will be abolished.
      Banks will be allowed only to take deposits and make loans. Investment banking will be prohibited. Anyone found to have engaged in insider trading, stock manipulation, or securities fraud will face imprisonment for no less than ten years.

      Robert Reich: 2010 Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future

      Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future

      1. D. Fuller

        And violates “free market” principles. The Independence Party comes off as more of the same authoritarian government with centralized control, etc.

        It’s not about freedom. It is about control, power, and enriching themselves. Of course, they don’t view it that way.

        1. Aumua

          Yeah I’m pretty sure that even thought there might be some ok sounding things in that list, this Independence party is proto-fascism.

    4. marku52

      Notice how Trump signalled that the government was going to pay for corona care directly, bypassing the InsCos entirely.

      Of course, he forgot about it 2 seconds later. But still.

      And Rubio called stock buybacks “unproductive”. Stunning.

      1. Painted Shut

        They are at least paying for corona virus care for the uninsured. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, Alex Azar in two sentences articulated this better than anything Bernie with his M4A misbranding did on the campaign trail…

            1. ambrit

              That would actually be a genius level political move. Make Sanders point man for the Trump Administration’s response. Sure, fireworks and ‘drama’ will ensue, but, on the principle that there is no such thing as bad publicity, it would be a big plus for both politicos. Not their Parties, (here I loosely tie Sanders to the Democrat Cartel,) but the individual politicos. Plus, Trump and Sanders can play ‘Good Cop Bad Cop.’ Trump can loudly complain about being dragged to do something necessary by “that wily Socialist,” while Sanders can publicly wail about being kept from true socialism by “that heartless Capitalist.” If we see the response being shepherded by the outliers of both Parties, perhaps a real “Centrism” will emerge. As an added bonus, Sanders can figuratively raise a big middle finger to Pelosi and her Cabal while Trump bares his a–e to the Republican Establishment.
              People may interject that Trump’s ego will derail this scenario, but I’m a bit more sanguine about this. Trump didn’t get where he is today by being totally brain dead or stupid. Do not underestimate Trump. He has sound political instincts.
              A good time will be had by all.

      2. D. Fuller

        The usual “all talk, no walk” politicians.

        It’s the same when The Democratic Party goes Left when out of power, knowing that nothing will get through Republican control. And when The D Party gets into power? They go RIGHT.

        1. Carey

          What’s worse: Team Dems’ trolling the hell out of us, and smirking about it-
          see Mrs. Pelosi’s ice cream.

          1. ambrit

            Yes. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that the choice of chocolate ice cream was a classic subliminal IdPol trolling exercise.

          2. JBird4049

            Oh, you mean the complete contempt for the lower 90% of Americans?

            I keep careening between they’re all idiots, morons, loons, deluded, clueless, fools, or just insane to the other side where they have agency and they’re all Machiavellian fiends, psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissistic elitists, or Molochian or Cthulhuian cultists?

            I am almost certainly overthinking all this and Chris Hedges is right. The Democratic Party has gone right-wing conservative while the Republican Party has gone insane. Maybe it is just that simple.

    5. Massinissa

      I don’t know, that article sounds like a lot typical fluff to me. Nothing particularly radical in there, even by republican standards. Well… I DO like the outlawing stock buybacks part.

      wait… Cooperatives? Hes.. talking about cooperatives?

      Nevermind. You guys are right, the times they are’a changin’. Never thought I would see a Republican talking about cooperatives of all things, even if its non-seriously. That has to be some real Overton shifting right there.

    6. HotFlash

      My dear Painted, it is not as if there aren’t many, *many* people who want to fix this situation. The takeover from within the Dem party is one route, third party is another, takeover from within the Rep Party, who knows, there may be more we haven’t thought of yet. Everybody keep on hammering on that wall, every way they can think of and fell the fire to do, and something’s got to give. Oh, and this came up on my YouTube when I was listening to Callas, Bernie Livestream (just now ended) Save the US Postal Service. Man ain’t just sittin’ on his hands.

      1. Carey

        Electoral solutions (i.e., non-solutions) are looking like nothing more than a time-wasting snare to me. Evidence to the contrary is welcome.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Brick Meets Window, it’s the only thing that works. You doubt? Just crack a history book, the number of times that “Please, sir, may I have some more?” has worked = 0.

  4. allan

    “Neatly divided into 1% (up), 9% (up), and 90% (down)”

    Not exactly. The 9% went from 37.7% of the pie to 38.5% over a decade.
    That’s a whopping .08% increase per year. Otherwise known as treading water.

    The only purpose the 9% /PMC meme serves is to divert attention from the .01%,
    who funded the originators and promulgators of the concept,
    and to divide possible political allies.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Otherwise known as treading water

      Better to tread water than to drown, eh?

      And I disagree on the 9% meme. Surely it’s important not only to talk about the Master, but the House Slaves?

      1. Watt4Bob

        And treading water @ $120K/year is a much different experience than treading water @ $36K/year.

        1. ambrit

          Try treading water at $19,000 USD per year, or less.
          We are seeing a lot more homeless, and or drug addicted, people wandering the streets and alleys suddenly. I have not been able to ascertain whether or not the “Homeless Shelters” have shut their doors or not. Of the six “Homeless Shelters” listed in our county; one is strictly for men with HIV/AIDS, two are for homeless mothers and children, and the remaining three are general purpose.
          There has been a noticeable uptick in simple property theft here. Three nights ago, someone in a big white pickup truck stopped in front of a close neighbors house at four in the morning. The thief stole things from out of the back of their truck, which was parked right up against their house. (All this caught on a Nest camera from across the street.) Tellingly, the thief took small tools, and left some big items, and took the owner’s lunch bucket and a case of bottled water. (The truck owner does outdoor work on occasion.)
          I spoke to the female component of the partnership yesterday ans she said that getting the police out to do a report took almost an entire day. When I asked, she said that the police did not do fingerprint dusting, even though the nest video shows that he wore no gloves and toughed a lot of surfaces. So much for meritocratic staffing policies.

    2. hunkerdown

      0.8% is a bit more than treading water. It’s a decent finder’s fee on 5%.

      The 9%/PMC think they are the .01%, or likely will be someday, and in no case do they believe the existence of an oligarch class is a problem. They do the symbolic work of building the culture that allows the great American shooting zoo to operate, and take their modestly growing share of the spoils. As long as that is the case, as long as they are at war against us, they are enemies, not allies, and it is by their own personal choice, which they can stop at any time, but do not.

      There’s a “sin vs. sinner” predicament tangled up in here and it’s tough to resolve.

      1. allan

        “The 9%/PMC think”

        Those of us who aren’t mind readers will need to believe those who are, apparently.

        Oddly, or not, those I know in the 9% ($116K-328K in 2019) include doctors sent to the front lines
        (sent there by hospital CEOs, some who earn $2.7 million, right at the 0.1% mark)
        without adequate PPE, and they know very well that the oligarch class is a problem.

        Meanwhile, Brookings, which originated the meme, and people like David Brooks, who flogged it,
        knowing that their work is done, can sleep well. As can the hospital CEO.
        Jay Gould approves of the message.

        1. Late Introvert

          These very well-paid doctors, who are clearly so well-educamated. Why are they such sheep then?

      2. WJ

        This is a great point. I wonder, have there been studies demonstrating the “proximity,” as it were, of the PMC’s income to the capital of the billionaires? Certain professions, in other words, enjoy high salaries because of the proximity of their work to the actual persons of the donor class: i.e. strategic gift officers, major newspaper editors, fund managers, etc. It would be nice to see this relationship spelled out in hard numbers.

  5. Otis B Driftwood

    Regarding canvassing vs. media, I was part of the canvassing effort in CA and I can attest that it does in fact make a big difference. I worked Black and Latino neighborhoods in Contra Costa County. It was one that was up for grabs and Sanders carried the county by less than 500 votes.

    At that time, Bloomberg was flooding the airwaves with commercials. And there was no way Sanders could compete with Bloomberg’s $7M per day spend. I had conversations with several Black voters who were leaning Bloomberg and I turned them around.

    BTW, the support in these communities was strong among all age groups. No other candidate even tried to canvass in these communities.

    1. Goyo Marquez

      It’s hard to determine what made a difference.

      Canvassing here in 85% hispanic Imperial County, final results, Bernie 43.39%, Biden 29%, Bloomberg 11.75%, Warren 5.4%, it was a lot closer than I imagined it would be. We weren’t seeing anyone else but Bloomberg doing anything.

      On the other hand, Bernie had a lot lower name recognition than I was expecting. About 1/2 the time the people we canvassed had not heard of Bernie, so we’d have to tell them the Bernie story, and these were Democratic voters selected by the campaign for contact.

      One thing that happened a few times, we’d go canvass a home, the generally young voters on our list were not home, and we’d start to leave and would be called back by the parents, asking what about me? One older man asked us that, filled out his absentee ballot, marked Bernie, asked us to turn it in for him, and as we were leaving said about his two sons who were on our list, the list he wasn’t on, you can’t count on those guys to vote. There were also a lot of people on our lists that had registered in college or high school as part of a class or something, and weren’t super motivated to vote.

      Would media have worked better? It’s hard to beat the name recognition of Obama’s wingman so there’s that.

      At least here the volunteer numbers, as in everything else in life, don’t reflect actual work. In my casual observation most of the people who signed up to volunteer didn’t actually do any canvassing.

      From my paranoid side, there were a few people that gave me a real “cop” vibe showing up at organizing functions, but maybe I’ve just been reading too many NC comments.

      My impression, the Democratic Party club is run by old white people, and they didn’t like Bernie. That showed up in a bunch of different ways, my daughter registered Democrat to vote for Bernie but had a great deal of difficulty finding her polling place at UCSD/La Jolla, when she finally found it she wasn’t on the list of voters so she had to vote provisional. Her friend had to wait in line for 4 hours at UCLA to vote provisionally. This was in California not Mississippi. It all reminds me of the story in Power Broker where they used the missing voter registration book to fraudulently win a small Long Island town election.

  6. Off The Street

    The car cost item reminded me of first hearing details, last millennium, about company cars. As presented, the rationale was a form of added compensation, with variants for levels of company car based on rank. Said companies also tossed in gas at the company pump, and handled car washes and routine maintenance, freeing up more employee time to work instead of chasing around to gas stations and such.

    An outgrowth of that under 1990s reengineering was to eliminate the gas, washes and maintenance, and just deposit the allowance amount as an added monthly benefit. That led to more short term leases to allow the striving manager to keep up with the Joneses or somebody. Entire neighborhoods would have new cars proudly parked or tail-gating along the boulevards in the well-insulated mobile bubble, but without the Jetsons charm.

    Those lucky allowed few were able to distance themselves from yet another indignity of modern life, and to shield themselves further, perhaps consciously, from acknowledgement of some of the true cost of another decision. When one doesn’t need to bother with such things, is it hard to imagine an infantilization at work?

    1. Bsoder

      Ah, this won’t make you feel better, but those cars ain’t free, the cost to have and use is added to your salary as additional compensation. I used to give everyone the exact same car allowance. No named parking spots. Also, as I like flying offered everyone the ability to pickup a pilots license (even take time off from work for lessons). Almost everyone signed up for that. Cut down on the driving.

  7. Lee

    What, no plantidote today? And whatever happened to my non-threatening spiky ball flower photo?

  8. Tom

    Nancy Antoinette showed us her Terrace Brunch Collection from Jeni’s ice cream coating a mere $68. for 6 pints. Did you get rid of the guillotine section? When can we even go back to Brunch?

  9. CanChemist

    Long time reader delurking. Not sure I saw this covered here so I wanted to share in case… it’s a follow up study to surface persistence of covid-19, this time including refrigeration among other variables.

    “Stability of SARS-CoV-2 in different environmental conditions”

    “The virus is highly stable at 4°C, but sensitive to heat. At 4°C, there was only around a 0·7 log-unit reduction of infectious titre on day 14. With the incubation temperature increased to 70°C, the time for virus inactivation was reduced to 5 mins.”

    The good news if you read through is that it was easy to kill… the bad news is that it can persist under refrigeration easily. After reading this, I’ve only been buying fridge/freezer food that I can easily wash or sterilize.

    Also wanted to say my enormous thanks to everyone at this site… the information I’ve gotten here has been critical to our preparations both at work in our (non-covid) labs, and at home. I don’t think there’s another spot on the web that compares. You guys are awesome!!

    1. Fiery Hunt

      Welcome to the Best Little Community on the Web…and thanks for the refridge heads up.

  10. Adam

    It’s bad form, but given the obvious parallels I can’t help it :-)

    Marie Antoinette: “let them eat cake!”
    Nancy Pelosi: “let them eat ice cream!”

  11. DJG

    From Jeremy Scahill’s article on the moral dilemma (foisted on us) of Biden v. Trump:

    We are being asked to vote for a spin-off of the Obama show, a cast of familiar characters and a few exciting new additions who would take charge of the executive branch, without the popular star of the original show among the visible cast. The fact that the Democrats have forced through a candidate that many people don’t believe is fully functional and will rely on the strength of “the team” assembled around him is a pretty grim statement about the state of democracy in the U.S. If Biden is the best the Democrats have to offer in the face of Trump, the system is rotten.

    In short, the Monoparty shows its authoritarian face (again). And we’re supposed to cooperate?

    1. D. Fuller

      People rarely change until you back them into a corner. Picking Biden is not “backing them into a corner”, it is “kicking the can down the road”.

    2. Tom Doak

      That’s actually the most frightening part of the Democrat plan, to me. They want us to be confident they will handle things by having an unnamed cabal of professionals and experts running the country, so Uncle Joe doesn’t have to do much. I would not vote for THAT in a million years.

  12. JohnnyGL


    I find it both encouraging and interesting that Jimmy Dore is talking more to Dylan Ratigan about financial markets and how they work.

    I recall Dylan from his days on CNBC many years ago. He was one of the better analysts and thinkers on there and probably got me to watch more than I otherwise would have watched.

    I think this is could because it will help address the problem Matt Stoller talks about: the refusal of the left to dig into the nuts and bolts of how industry and business actually work.

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      the refusal of the left to dig into the nuts and bolts of how industry and business actually work

      Oh, this X1000. I’m pretty far left, but when I engage people as to how they would start to change the markets, they usually struggle to outline an actual method, short of ‘blow it up and start over’ — this is not really a valid option. I’m reminded of that cartoon showing the scientist’s blackboard with calculations, and a spot in the middle that says “then a miracle occurs” .


      1. Fiery Hunt

        I, for one am just fine with ‘blow it up and start over’ .

        Throw in some “re-training” for the PMC, add some restrictions on housing as investment, a pinch of tax reform, break up the frigging banks, whisk in some single-payer health care, simmer with a Jobs Guarantee and plate with some Green New Deal for color.

        Seems tasty…(and reasonable to me. :)

  13. sd

    Biden vs Trump ads
    Trump went for the jugular – vicious. Biden punched his hand in the air – tepid.
    (No – it won’t make me vote for Trump since I base voting on policy.)
    PS I thought the clip – American Conservative? – about Trump’s poor handling of the Coronavirus crisis was better than Biden’s ad.

    1. marku52

      Agree. That Biden ad was weak tea. The Trump one yesterday was something killer that even made me laugh.

      He’s got really good media people. He should stay off camera himself. His daily pressers are windbaggish.

    2. Pelham

      I’ll join in casting a vote for the Trump ad. Also, the Nancy Antoinette video was pretty good, too.

    3. Acacia

      Yeah. The Biden ad reeks too strongly of nostalgia. The punch line is lame. Plus, do-nothing Obama bookends the “great presidents” montage, following JFK? Give me a fricken break!

      1. sd

        Agreed on the Nancy Antoinette. There seems to be this tone deaf “I feel your pain” thing circulating out there. And it is a key reason why I think Biden will lose.

    4. The Rev Kev

      With Biden, the buck always stopped with him. And he has the bank account in the Bahamas set up through his Delaware corporation to prove it.

  14. Oregoncharles

    “Facebook releases its first county-by-county maps showing the prevalence of self-reported COVID-19 symptoms based on data it has collected.”
    So they’re not only surveilling us, but boasting about it. Interesting data, though:

    What’s with the bright-red patch over the Willamette Valley? Oregon doesn’t admit to having all that many cases. Maybe a lot more than we knew.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Correction: that isn’t the Willamette Valley (where the people are), it *Douglas County*, very rural and deep in S. Oregon; and Yamhill county, on the coast. Weird. But it isn’t clear what they’re actually measuring.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I had trouble reading the map: it wasn’t Yamhill County, actually in the valley, it was Lincoln and Tillamook Counties, right on the coast. That’s very familiar ground; why does Tillamook have a 2% rate?

        1. VietnamVet

          I visited Roseburg OR after the turn of the century with thoughts of retiring there near the VA hospital. 2008 happened and I retired in place. One of the tragedies of neoliberalism and off-shoring, besides the Rust Belt, is the vastness of Southern Oregon and Northern California that got lost. No jobs. No purpose. Lots of drugs and alcohol. No telecommuter suburbs. On the coast, no through traffic on I-5. With the pandemic, no tourists. No money.

          1. Ed Miller

            My understanding is that a lot of rural Oregon has an spotted owl problem, as in protected species. I am not against protecting species from extinction, just pointing out that in rural area dependent on logging in the past, protection is almost an economic death warrant.

            All is not lost as there are lots of excellent wineries around Roseburg and even some south of there. Wine clubs became too expensive long ago, but they have the best in Oregon in my opinion, if you like robust reds. It’s a shame they are so far from any metro area.

            Roseburg is probably the best place to stay in the Umpqua River basin, if anyone wishes to check out the territory after we feel safe to travel. *Shameless plug for Oregon wineries*

            I realize not many have the resources for wine and travel today, but for wine lovers this might be a pleasant surprise once coronavirus is hopefully neutralized.

    2. John Anthony La Pietra

      I don’t see a dark spot over Detroit.

      Maybe there are a few flaws inherent in relying on data self-reported to Facebook?

  15. L

    “Precarious Work Isn’t New — It’s Part of How Capitalism Functions” [Jacobin].

    This reminds me of a running theme in literally every conversation that I have ever had with a libertarian. All of them presume that workers and management are negotiating freely and equally. That is they take it as read that all power dynamics are temporary and that there is no concept of persistent inequality or exploitation. Or, if they do acknowledge it, they assume that organization of any sort (save businesses) are inherently unable to help.

  16. Steve

    Biden ad will be ineffective in winning the election.

    There are hardcore Trump voters who will vote for only Trump no matter what. There are hardcore Trump haters who will vote for his opponent no matter what. The battle is for the people in the middle, the undecideds, the moderates, the conflicted.

    These up for grab voters already know that Trump is an awful human being, and having lived under his leadership for three years they already know all about his record. So the real question for these voters is whether the alternative is worse.

    I’m still voting for Biden in the general, don’t get me wrong, but I’m pretty convinced that he’s senile. Plus, Trump will not be shy in running ads showing all of Biden’s hair sniffing and inappropriate and creepy touching.

    I think he’ll need an extremely credible VP or else he’s toast in the general.

    1. Acacia

      Don’t worry, there will be more than replays of hair sniffing and creepy groping coming to sink your candidate. As we saw in 2016 (and as we see in Trump’s recent ad), the political right is just a lot better at working the media to create funny/outrageous/inflammatory material to achieve their goals.

      1. Ed Miller

        That’s because the Republican focus on winning the war, not reaching across the aisle. Politics is war (actually class war) and the R’s know it and live it.

    2. Massinissa

      Don’t worry, I’m still not voting for either of them.

      Better a protest vote for the greens than pick between two terrible options. Both will lead the country to further ruin. At least I won’t be culpable for helping one win, even if I have to ‘throw my vote away’, as they say.

      Besides, beginning to feel like a Biden vote would be p***ing in the wind anyway. I don’t think he has a chance.

    3. edmondo

      Joe Biden just had the best week of his political life and he still can’t get to 50% in any poll. Joe is at his high point. The Democratic non-primary was a joke – there wasn’t one negative ad run against Biden. Trump will destroy Biden – and all he has to do is publicize his record. I wonder how many millenials will stand in line for four hours to vote once they find out which senator from Delaware put them into credit slavery for the rest of their lives.

    4. Krystyn Podgajski

      I agree. Plus Trumps ads are devastating. Trump is positioning himself as a populist liberal and will crush Biden with those ads. I swear I could have been watching an AOC ad.

      That Biden ad was soooo weak and he is aiming it at people ho already agree with the neoliberal agenda and hate Trump. So it gains nothing.

      The only thing that will defeat Trump is a COVID resurgence from early opening or people really start getting affected by the economy.

      i am not voting for either so it is all spectacle for me.

  17. Otis B Driftwood

    The Biden ad is terrible. “Vote for me because I’m not Trump”.

    He has nothing to offer voters better than this? Turnout will be an all-time low if this keeps up.

    I’m voting Green.

    1. shinola

      “I’m voting Green”

      I’m with ya on that one.

      For me, the Trump or Biden choice is like asking “Would you rather be executed by firing squad or hanging?”

      1. Carey

        > Me to and would like to the Greens get to 5%

        That, in my opinion, will never be “allowed” (see 2016 results).

      2. Massinissa

        They’ll be lucky if they even get on the ballot in every state. I’m expecting a lower count for both Green and Libertarian this year.

        1. richard

          that is so sad
          i have not heard very good things about H.Hawkins
          and the optics are awful too
          I hate to be idpol
          but an old white guy could not look worse than right now against trump and biden
          what a lost opportunity
          we really do need something completely new
          how about the Show Not Tell party
          “Not Just A Referent For Style, But A Way Of Political Life”

    2. ChrisPacific

      Both of the ones that I’ve watched (one Trump, one Biden) have been about how horrible the other guy is. Great. I agree with both of you. Now what?

  18. Tim

    WTI Oil futures “broke” the system yesterday during panic selling of long positions, yeah it was a long squeeze I guess. ETFs and ETNs want out and are closing their funds. The bigger story is the further out months and Brent are crashing today. Oil will be cheaper than bottled water for the forseeable future.

    1. John k

      Longs squeezed themselves by waiting for the last minute to get out. Historically it was always possible for a long to get out on the last day bc if the price dropped just a little somebody with storage would buy it, put it in storage, and maybe sell for a little profit the next day. Normal arbitrage.
      But everybody know more product was coming just as consumption dropped maybe a third and all storage at Cushing was filling fast, right? And at some point soon there would be no storage at all, right? And bc storage running out ships were being rented just to store the stuff? But that storage is useless for oil delivered to Cushing… Its long since I stopped playing the oil market, but some smart people sold short at 20 and bought it back at -30, now that’s real money. In a couple days.
      I’ve read the theory some hedgies got caught and lost really big…. aren’t these guys supposed to be the smart ones? Did they not know Cushing was nearly full?
      Frackers that hedged their production can produce and deliver per contract… but maybe the buyer no longer wants it. Wonder what the buyer will pay to get it left in the ground?
      Oil is bulky. Production can’t continue at 100 million bbs/day when consumption is 70 for long. The 10 saudis and others are cutting not gonna work… still 600 million into storage every month. And none of it here, were full.

      1. ambrit

        I get the argument that this is a body blow by the Saudies against American fracking. How much supply will be taken off line when the fracking wells start to play out, and no replacements are available? This might take a year or two to play out, but I sense that this is the overarching strategy.

  19. ambrit

    That “Feeding Moloch” illustration is absolute gold. It has something of a Spike Milligan air to it. It is also, as is all good propaganda, funny absurd with a core of truth to strike home the point being pushed. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that it was an illustration from an Economics text explaining the concept of “Creative Destruction.” (Everything, and everyone are now disposable “assets.”)

  20. Oregoncharles

    “Any theory of Sanders’ failure needs to give an account of his steady, machine-like rise in the polls, even after the night of the long knives. ”
    So why did he withdraw? Granted, he can’t very well canvass or rally in this; Greens have the same problem. But he did have the money for … painting his nails? what’s with that emoji? Means advertising, I suppose. Not as effective, but something to do. And phone canvassing still functions. More people answering their phones, these days.

    Edit: short answer – the polls. but who believes those?

    1. lambert strether

      On that theory, he ran out of runway. He was still well behind Biden after The Night of The Long Knives

      1. tegnost

        and he would have had to spread the coronavirus far and wide. Sometimes the best way to win is walk away and leave them with their vapid storyline. In some ways we’re setting up for a perfect storm this summer.I’m sitting at the marina watching instacart orders for wealthy vacation home dwellers are being loaded on the water taxi. The instacart drivers (yeah I’ve been sitting here for a while for my ride) and their vehicles both seem a little worn out. It’s odd that they think their similarly isolated neighbors need to keep “six feet!!!” while their instacart orders, and the shoppers, get barely a mention. The protected class…no hit to the dow, still working, totally self satisfied, and all in for biden. Incidentally and piling on my comment, an aside…when it’s dems in charge it’s black block crazy/erratic/dangerous protesters, when it’s repubs it’s cowboys with ak’s. Both are intended to show violent reactions as fringe phenomenon, and as it gets crazier, which it will, they’ll blame it all on those irrational anarchists/rednecks.

        1. ambrit

          Good catch about the waterborne delivery trade.
          As to your last point; I would really worry about the rational anarchists/rednecks. (‘Rational anarchist/redneck’ is not an oxymoron.)

  21. Tom Stone

    If Biden wants my vote he’s running for the wrong office.
    Sewer inspector in Baghdad yes, President of the USA, NO!

      1. ambrit

        Most sewers I have known, and I have seen more than enough, are pretty much immune to obloquy. After all, who else so perfectly fits the quip, “How low can you go?” Coal mines, oil wells, High Security Bioweapons Labs out in the California Desert? Maybe.
        Besides, sewers conform to two basic observations about business and socio-economics: ‘Piss runneth down a hill,’ and, ‘S— floats to the top of any organization.’

  22. MillenialSocialist

    DNC: “4.5 trillion for us and our friends, and check out this sweet ice cream freezer that costs the same as a new truck! Oh and 1200 for you at some point. Don’t forget to vote blue!”

    1. edmondo

      Do they think that they can lock people up in their homes for four or five months and then throw a single payment of $1200 at them and walk away? Those dudes with the semi-automatics beg to differ with you.

  23. Monty

    “Running a car costs much more than people think”
    I see a lot of new Range Rovers whizzing around this part of AZ. Usually driven solo by a middle aged woman.

    I looked inside one once and noticed at least 5 OLED screens! Bitter experience with modern proprietary electronics tells me those probably cost a mint to replace out of the 3 year warranty. Owning one past 3 years in an invitation to all kinds of expensive repairs, ballooning the cost of ownership.

    Just out of curiosity I plugged the cost of a 3 year lease + gas + tires + tax + insurance on a modern Range Rover and I calculated that there is at least a $10 a mile cost of ownership. Eye watering! Bear in mind that around here where I live, the school run is a 40 mile round trip!

    1. Arizona Slim

      Well, Monty, I don’t know what part of the AZ you’re in, but I’ll raise a virtual toast to you from Tucson.

    2. CanCyn

      No problem with repairs on 3 year old Range Rovers, they don’t keep them that long. Time for a new one after a couple of years. Neighbour across the street from us has a daughter married to a wealthy guy. She visits regularly and she has had 3 different very high end vehicles in the last 5 or 6 years, one new one after another. Here’s my question- where do all the old ones go? I only ever see new ones on the road. Same holds for most high end luxury cars.

      1. Monty

        Could be, don’t they call them “equity locusts”?

        There’s many retired people here from all over the world, so you will see a lot of “used to be” trophy wives driving snazzy cars. I also notice many Ferrari and Bentley type vehicles with Veteran plates. I assume the owners were involved in military procurement, and are just now enjoying the fruits of their labor in early retirement.

    1. Massinissa

      That is what I initially thought of and assumed the article was talking about. Alas, no luck. When do we get to vote to Share Our Wealth again?

  24. Jason Boxman

    I don’t know if this came up yet, there’s so much about Covid-19, but this sounds at least somewhat promising regarding identifying disease progression:

    Widespread pulse oximetry screening for Covid pneumonia — whether people check themselves on home devices or go to clinics or doctors’ offices — could provide an early warning system for the kinds of breathing problems associated with Covid pneumonia.

    Early identification might lead to better treatment options, it seems.

  25. Mikel

    RE: “Even Without A Pandemic, It’s Hard To Forecast A Recession”

    Each alleged “recovery” after recessions will have fewer participants. You can bet on that.
    The spinned stats they will pull out to show the greatness of the future “recovery” is going to be flat out bizarro world because the frog will be boiled and dead.

  26. allan

    Ending a very grim day with some comic relief. For some definitions of comic and relief.

    Michael Grunwald @MikeGrunwald
    Dem aide tells me the plan for Relief Bill #5 is for the House to go first, so McConnell doesn’t get to hold the pen and control the narrative. Seems like it would’ve been a good plan for Relief Bill #4, but hey, sounds good.
    4:45 PM · Apr 21, 2020

  27. marym

    Announcement today from IL governor of a multi-state (Illinois, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Virginia and Washington State) agreement with servicers of private and non-federal student loans “allowing borrowers to request a 90-day forbearance, waived late fees, no negative credit reporting, 90-day pause on debt collection lawsuits & enrollment in other assistance programs.”

    The NBC link lists some of the servicers. The twitter thread also lists CFPB as a contact but I didn’t see anything on its website. I don’t know anything else – posted here in case it may be useful to anyone in the short term.


  28. Greg

    Gibsons unevenly distributed future seems to be fairly concentrated at ye olde Amazon cyberpunk megacorp.
    Along with business insiders story about the hunt for unionisation via AI, there’s also this https://www.rt.com/news/486488-social-distancing-ai-surveillance-system/ which shows the person of interest AI getting involved in fighting corona, that’s nice.

    The aside towards the end of the story is the kicker –
    Perhaps unsurprisingly, Amazon has already introduced similar technology in its warehouses, and has warned workers they could be fired if they violate social distancing guidelines.

  29. ccchhhh@aol.com

    Joe the cellar dweller. I’m reminded of the old saw:
    Q. “How come there is a relatively low suicide rate among black?”
    A. “You can’t kill yourself jumping out of a cellar window.”

  30. Jessica

    “Neatly divided into 1% (up), 9% (up), and 90% (down). The Democrat base, the PMC, did very well for themselves under Obama.”
    I think it is more accurate to say that the 1% did well, the 9% held their own, and the 90% lost. The Democrat funders are in the 1% but their base is the 9%. I think the 9% is driven more by fear of falling than pleasure at rising. That is why the politics of the PMC resemble those of a country with a small middle class terrified of a much larger lower class, such as Thailand or Brazil.
    The PMC knew they could count on Obama to keep them afloat and clear of the losing out classes. They are terrified that Trump won’t and Sanders wouldn’t.
    I would love to see numbers showing the dividing line between who is gaining and who is losing. Pretty sure that that dividing line is steadily moving up and making leaps during the big crises.

  31. Paradan

    Ok so saw this and thought I’d share. First of all, I’m very skeptical on claims of 5G doing biological harm, but here’s the thing…Erythrocytes, as in Red Blood Cells, lack a nucleus and are unable to repair themselves. They do not contain the cellular machinery necessary for a virus to replicate itself. They are simply bags of hemoglobin. They last about six months and then your spleen tears them up and sends em to the dump.

      1. epynonymous

        5g appears to come from Brit David Icke – ‘the lizard man’

        Not his best work.

        I’m more scared corona is an hiv based bio weapon. Unsubstantiated but not impossible.

        I’m selling white blood cells, it stacks w unemployment and scholarship. That means Ive got more medical testing in my life… Especially the last ten years. They say my white count is way above normal, which checks out with my allergies.

        There have been mergers in the blood spacee the last two weeks…

  32. The Rev Kev

    “Running a car costs much more than people think — stalling the uptake of green travel”

    I wonder how many Uber and Lyft drivers take this into consideration? Of course, anything that has the word “sharing” in its description these days is out of favour.

    1. Earl Erland

      There was a beauty in the day. 9 years old learning on a Saturday with my father under a rear end held up by jack stands and a pump jack how to rebuild the rear differential. 6 years later using bleach in a parking lot under the wheels of my Dodge w/318, laughing and smoking the tires and and knowing there was no damage, at least short term. Just another rebuild.

      If we are good and smart and careful we have a way. Everyone knows the meaning of -37.

  33. Carey

    San Luis Obispo County CA coronavirus statistics:

    As of 4/21/20 at 12:15 pm:

    134 Confirmed cases
    17 Home
    115 Recovered
    1 Hospitalized (1 in ICU)
    1 Death (total)

    Hospitalizations here continue to decline, as do active cases.

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases in San Francisco, 21 April 2020:

    Total Positive Cases: 1216

    Deaths: 20

    updated daily at 9:00 AM

    No new deaths attributed to COVID-19 in San Francisco for the past four days.

    Sweden’s Johan Giesecke on CV:

  34. Wukchumni

    The Trump administration is considering cutting the pay of guest visa farmworkers during the coronavirus pandemic to help the farm industry.

    President Trump tweeted late Monday that he planned to temporarily suspend immigration to the U.S. The president cited the need to protect jobs in light of “the attack from the Invisible Enemy,” a reference to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

    “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!” Trump tweeted.

    And California growers aren’t thrilled: They say it won’t help them much with their financial crisis. And they worry that it might even hurt them by creating uncertainty for their essential employees, prompting them to look elsewhere for work once the pandemic ends.

    Some industry representatives say the move to cut wages is detracting from the ultimate problem: a sudden drop in demand.

    In the Ventura-Santa Barbara area, citrus growers are leaving lemons on trees, Creamer said. Unlike other produce, which can be disked straight back into the ground and used to fertilize the soil, citrus must be harvested or it will endanger next years’ crop.

    “We can hold for a little bit longer and hope that restaurants open back up,” said Creamer. “Growers will have to pay to come back in and harvest to drop food back to the ground. We’re buying some time right now but it can’t go on much longer.”


    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      I wonder if there’s any way to implement a U-pick system (like apple orchards and that ilk around here do) to recover at least some of the crop and stave off at least some of the losses. Of course, you’d have to distribute picking groups across the space (and maybe across time too) with some care. . . .

  35. Ctesias

    I wonder how many people actually have the time or will to listen to almost 2 hours of the “know your enemy” podcast, “on the origin and metastasization of the Chicago School”. I did and that was quite some ride. The best couple of hours I have spent these last few weeks. lots of great nuggets. Its influence here in Brazil, where I’m sitting, it very noticeable.

  36. Peter Beattie

    Methodology maven (or dilettante) here. They used a sort of natural experiment, taking advantage of differences in sunset times to estimate the effects of “incidental” viewership of Hannity vs. Carlson: people turning on Fox when the sun goes down and having to watch Hannity, not people who freely choose to watch Hannity over Carlson. This attempts to avoid the possibility that higher mortality rates among Hannity viewers are due to them being more susceptible to catching and dying from the virus because they’re older or less healthy, rather than being told by Hannity that the virus is unthreatening so keep going out and sharing bits of saliva with other people. The statistical techniques are more complicated than anything I need to use in political psychology, where we can use experiment experiments, not natural experiments, but I didn’t get a whiff of anything wrong. TL;DR summary: Fox (or Hannity) literally kills.

  37. sd

    California identified a person who died with COVID-19 on February 6

    Santa Clara County, California, announced on Tuesday that two people who died in their homes in February tested positive for the new coronavirus, suggesting that the first known US death due to COVID-19 occurred weeks earlier than previously thought. […]

    “As the Medical Examiner-Coroner continues to carefully investigate deaths throughout the county, we anticipate additional deaths from COVID-19 will be identified,” the statement said.

  38. ElViejito

    Lambert: Thank you for using the term PMC (Professional Managerial Class). Ever since Barbara and John Ehrenreich coined this term back some 40 years ago, it has been my goto concept for class analysis. Shame that the concept is not in general use within the Left; but then, much of the current Left is from the PMC and has not figured out how to step outside of it. Chairman Mao saw this problem too, which he thought to remedy by the Cultural Revolution. That didn’t work out so well. Still looking for a solution.

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