2:00PM Water Cooler 4/22/2020

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.

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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

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Biden (D)(1): “From a return to normal to sweeping change: Biden shifts message as general election begins” [McClatchy]. “Although top Biden officials acknowledge the new rhetorical focus will help win over the progressive diehards who supported Bernie Sanders in the short term, they insist it’s a message they will continue preaching through the fall — especially during the fallout of a coronavirus pandemic they say is highlighting the deep inequities many Americans face. ‘The fundamental premise of Joe Biden’s public service has been that a basic bargain was broken with working people in this country and it is our responsibility to rebuild a stronger, fundamentally more inclusive middle class that this country has never seen before,’ said Stef Feldman, the Biden campaign’s policy director. “That certainly has been the launching pad for his candidacy.” • “Honey, I swear I won’t tack right in the general!” More:

What “institutional changes’ can Biden be talking about? Shoveling trillions to the already rich isn’t an institutional change, after all; it’s what liberal Democrats love to call a “norm.”

Biden (D)(2): “Biden’s Incoherent, China-Bashing Attack on Trump” [The New Republic]. “Instead of telling a simple story of how Trump’s incompetence (combined with his administration’s rapaciousness and corruption) completely sabotaged the nation’s response to the virus, the Joe Biden campaign—seemingly determined to play the election on Hard Mode—has decided to run with a much more complicated explanation. Ah, but it is not only more complicated; it also lacks any sort of connection to the negative traits the unpopular president is already associated with in the minds of most voters. Biden has chosen to level an accusation that doesn’t track at all with anyone’s understanding of Trump’s character and motivations. That’s right: It’s time to get serious about China. The Biden campaign, after telegraphing a plan to accuse Donald Trump of having “rolled over for the Chinese,” released an ad this week accusing Trump of doing just that, mainly by tweeting complimentary things about the Chinese government (which had no material effect whatsoever on our own country’s handling of the coronavirus).

UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “Internal Biden campaign rift opens over how to compete with Trump online” [Politico]. “Joe Biden’s campaign leadership is clashing over the future of its digital operation — a rift that comes as campaigning has moved largely online and as Biden faces a yawning deficit against President Donald Trump’s massive digital operation. The disagreement among Biden’s top advisers centers on whether to hire most of its digital team internally or to rely on the firm Hawkfish, which is backed financially by billionaire Mike Bloomberg and ran the digital operation for his presidential campaign.” • Bloomberg won American Samoa, so what’s the issue? More: “The internal argument over Hawkfish — detailed by 10 Democratic officials, including several who have spoken with the campaign — has stalled Biden’s hiring just as his new campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon, settles into her role. Since the coronavirus shutdown began last month, the campaign has not added any digital staffers.” • It’s almost like there’s a vacuum at the top of the campaign, isn’t it?

UPDATE Biden (D)(4): “Can Star Strategist Symone Sanders Help Biden Win a Virtual Campaign?” [Vogue]. “‘She’s a star,’ says Lis Smith, former senior advisor for Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 presidential campaign. ‘She’s ruthlessly confident, wildly charismatic, and an example of the kind of disruptor we need right now in politics. There have always been these characters in American politics and they’ve always been men, men who are unapologetically who they are, who aren’t afraid to brag about their accomplishments. She embodies that spirit.'” • “Always been men.” That’s odd. I didm’t know Nina Turner was a man….

UPDATE Cuomo (D)(1): “Emergency Responder” [New York Review of Books]. “Cuomo’s most crucial quality was his managerial expertise, his relentless focus during the most unpredictable weeks of the crisis on the acquisition of ventilators, hospital beds, health care staff, and personal protective equipment such as gowns, face shields, and masks to keep New York’s hospital system from collapsing. Yet it had taken him far too long to put that expertise into action or even to articulate a coherent response to the pandemic. As late as March 13 his message was confused and contradictory. ‘Prepare yourself,’ he said. ‘[This is not going to be a quick situation. This is months. We can’t control this.’ He reminded us that ‘you don’t know where the person sitting next to you on the bus has been.’ But he didn’t suggest staying off the bus and seemed obtusely more anxious about people getting more worried ‘than the facts may justify.’ His dire warnings were at odds with his executive actions: the only mandatory restriction at this point was a prohibition on gatherings of more than five hundred people. He seemed annoyed with localities in the state that had closed their schools ‘out of anxiety’: ‘We don’t know if closing schools will slow the spread. It may increase the spread. We don’t know. We don’t feel we should close schools as of now.’ And he engaged in his usual parochial skirmishes with New York City mayor Bill de Blasio over who had ultimate authority over the city.”

Sanders (D)(1): “Warnings of ‘Suspension of Democracy’ in New York as State Officials Weigh Removing Sanders From Primary Ballot” [Common Dreams]. “New York state election officials are poised to remove Sen. Bernie Sanders from the ballot in June’s primary election, a move that would deny the Vermont lawmaker’s supporters the chance to cast a vote for him as president and would harm his chances of using his delegate count to influence the party’s direction and push for reforms…. Board of Elections co-chair Douglas Kellner and commissioner Andrew Spano, both Democrats, will meet Wednesday to decide on whether or not to remove Sanders’ name from the ballot…. Under Kellner’s interpretation of the statute, Sanders, who suspended his campaign on April 8, falls under that category. ‘It’s not very controversial that Bernie Sanders has suspended his campaign,’ Kellner told HuffPost. ‘I anticipate that we will be removing him.'” • That’s today!

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): “David Sirota, Former Bernie 2020 Senior Advisor, Discusses What Happened” (video) [The Nomiki Konst Show].

UPDATE Sanders (D)(3): “Bernie’s Campaign Strategy Wasn’t the Problem” [Jacobin]. “More fundamentally, however, these pieces adopt a myopic view of the political theory that grounded Bernie’s campaign. While they are correct that it centers on class conflict, both Beauchamp and Atkins treat Bernie’s class politics as being fundamentally about winning an election. But the politics at the heart of the campaign — the need to build a mass working-class movement to challenge the power of the billionaires — was never first and foremost a vision of winning an election. Its horizon was always larger, concerned with how to pass far-reaching redistributive policies. Bernie took as his starting point that any president is going to face determined opposition from the ruling class, and that mass mobilization from below is the only way to overcome that opposition.” • OK, fair enough. And having achieved mobilization sufficient to, at least, capture the fifth largest economy in the world, the movement now pivots to…. Bernie? Bernie? Bernie? Let’s go!

Trump (R)(1): Where’s the lie?

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Democrats in Disarray

Get ready for a round of austerity:

Strategic genius (1):

Strategic genius (2):

Here’s Reagan, the last President who lost his mind, on Iran-Contra, passing the buck from one of his hands to the other:

[REAGAN:] First, let me say I take full responsibility for my own actions and for those of my Administration. As angry as I may be about activities undertaken without my knowledge, I am still accountable for those activities. As disappointed as I may be in some who served me, I am still the one who must answer to the American people for this behavior. And as personally distasteful as I find secret bank accounts and diverted funds, well, as the Navy would say, this happened on my watch.

Let’s start with the part that is the most controversial. A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that is true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.

And Reagan had Nooners working for him. When Biden gives a similar speech, it won’t be nearly as good. Oh well. Appeals to suburban Republicans, I suppose. (And to counter this line of attack, all Trump has to do is don the mantle of Reagan. Help me.)

UPDATE Strategic genius (3): “The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day“:

But now McConnell is worried — by which I mean feigning concern — about the deficit. So Lucy took the football away again! It never gets old!

UPDATE Strategic genius (4): Good metaphor:

Or it sounds like the Washington Generals playing with the Harlem Globetrotters, which is what it’s sounded like for most of my adult life.

UPDATE Strategic genius (5): Where were you when all the unanimous votes were going down? Sherrod? Liz?

“The next stimulus package.” Oh, and “consumers.” Consumers don’t strike. I guess that’s the point!

And yet there is hope:

“House Democrats dominate the cash on hand battle” [Politico]. “One of the biggest takeaways from the first quarter filing deadline: Vulnerable House Democrats had collectively banked nearly $100 million. That’s a staggering sum that further hampers Republicans’ chances of reclaiming the majority…. Nearly every one of the 42 members in the DCCC’s Frontline program has twice as much cash on hand as their opponents, if not much more.” • So that’s the ice cream in Nancy’s fridge!

UPDATE “Donna Shalala failed to disclose stock sales in 2019 in violation of federal law” [Miami Herald]. “Miami Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala, the lone House Democrat on the committee set up to oversee $500 billion in taxpayer money being used for coronavirus-related payouts to large businesses, violated federal law when she failed to disclose stock sales while serving in Congress. Shalala told the Miami Herald on Monday she sold a variety of stocks throughout 2019 to eliminate any potential conflicts of interest after she was elected to Congress in November 2018. But the transactions were not publicly reported as required by the STOCK Act, a 2012 law that prohibits members of Congress and their employees from using private information gleaned from their official positions for personal benefit and requires them to report stock sales and purchases within 45 days. Shalala’s office said the congresswoman and her financial adviser made a mistake.” • Oh.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Hope for the left:

True, and DSA member Lee Carter has done well in VA. But we’re working to deadline, here…..

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.

Coincident Indicators: “March 2020 Coincident Indices Finally Hit By Coronavirus” [Econintersect]. “The year-over-year rate of growth of various coincident indices was much worse than last month – all displaying the effect of the coronavirus pandemic. It should be obvious the economy entered a recession in March 2020.”

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Commodities: “Supertankers are the hottest business in the oil sector right now. The growing surplus of crude on world markets has traders scrambling for ships to use for storage, the WSJ Logistics Report’s Costas Paris writes, pushing rates for the biggest vessels sharply higher even as oil prices dive to at a historic pace. Ship owners say daily freight rates for some very large crude carriers are reaching beyond $150,000, far beyond year-ago levels and that ‘floating storage’ is driving the market. Shipping brokers say they are also handling dozens of storage requests for smaller tankers. The demand comes as oil prices are crashing… Energy traders are betting that a rebound later this year will make the storage prices pay off, and shipping executives say they don’t expect the rates will remain sky high.”

Big Ag: “Tyson to Close Iowa Plant in Third Major U.S. Pork Shutdown” [Bloomberg]. “Tyson Foods Inc. is halting its largest pork plant, becoming the third major U.S. facility to shut as the coronavirus sickens workers, exacerbates livestock gluts and threatens supplies.”

Retail: “Clothing retailers have tangible and very costly reminders of their lost sales piling up at warehouses and shuttered stores. Apparel and footwear companies are sitting on tens of billions of dollars of unsold merchandise… and the stocks are growing even as the retailers try ever-steeper online discounting to shed the inventory” [Wall Street Journal]. “Homebound shoppers simply aren’t spending on clothing, at virtually any price. Online sales for apparel and footwear have declined each week since March 9, even with the discounts. The retailers are finding their usual outlets for unsold inventory, including discount chains, are either stumbling financially or hunkering down until stores can reopen.” • Too bad we can’t use the unsold clothing to soak up the unsold oil.

Shipping: “US import plunge inevitable as canceled sailings mount” [American Shipper]. “Volumes arriving at American seaports are inherently limited by the capacity of inbound container ships. That capacity can be determined well in advance through sailing schedules. Announced departure cancellations now extend until the end of July. It takes around 14-22 days for a container ship to transit from China to Los Angeles or Long Beach, California; it can take around 30-40 days for a transit from Asia to East Coast ports. To foresee the pace of U.S. import reductions, take the week of departures for canceled sailings, the TEU capacities affected, and add in the transit time. Nerijus Poskus, global head of ocean freight at Flexport, told FreightWaves that 13% of trans-Pacific sailings to the U.S. departing the week of April 6-13 have been canceled. The share of canceled sailings rose to 20% in April 13-19 and is 28% in April 20-26, 21% in April 27-May 3 and 26% in May 3-9. Tack on two to six weeks to those dates for transits and a significant decline in U.S. imports in May and June is guaranteed.” • Hoo boy.

Shipping: “With light cash flow, limited reserves and uncertain access to credit, many smaller fleets are struggling under an upheaval in shipping markets… putting many at risk of collapse in fractured markets” [Wall Street Journal]. “Trucking companies with six or fewer trucks make up more than 90% of the carriers in the nearly $800 billion U.S. trucking field, and experts say they’re the most exposed to the broad downturn in demand beyond markets for essential goods. One industry official says demand is ‘falling off a cliff,’ and load-matching group DAT Solutions says spot-market freight rates are tumbling.

Tech: “‘Patreon For Porn’: The Rise Of OnlyFans” [The American Conservative]. “One such fad is the sudden growth of OnlyFans, a monthly paid subscription content service, which has turned hefty chunks of the young female population into amateur pornographers. The premise is simple: start an account, set the price, and then drip-feed content to monthly-paying subscribers. The site doesn’t exclusively host sex workers; home-baking mothers and some fitness and yoga businesses also use the platform to market their services. But its model is similar to that of once-popular social media site Tumblr; once the porn goes, it’s finished. The platform has around 17.5 million global users and over 70,000 content creators, who have received over $150 million since its launch. The Huffington Post reported that it has enjoyed a 75 percent spike in new users during the COVID-19 shutdown.” • Go long social distancing…

Manufacturing: “To Understand the Medical Supply Shortage, It Helps to Know How the U.S. Lost the Lithium Ion Battery to China” [Pro Publica]. “[T[he effort to establish a lithium battery manufacturing base in the U.S. largely failed, even after the Obama administration made it a keystone of its 2009 stimulus program, aiming to produce 40% of the world’s lithium ion batteries for advanced vehicles by 2015. Today, that number stands at about 10%, largely because of Tesla’s battery plant in Nevada. Most of the batteries used in a plethora of U.S. products are shipped in from China or other foreign suppliers. Despite its economic nationalist rhetoric, the Trump administration has done little to revive battery-making, proposing deep cuts to alternative energy research and favoring fossil fuels at every turn…. But the problem isn’t only with government policy. In contrast to the patient, long-term view of investors in countries like Japan and South Korea, America’s fast-churning capital markets tend to abandon companies that don’t grow quickly enough. To fill that gap, [ Sridhar Kota, an engineering professor at the University of Michigan who served as assistant director for advanced manufacturing at the Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration], thinks governments should raise money for publicly managed, privately financed venture funds.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 40 Fear (previous close: 40 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 41 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 22 at 12:24pm.

The Biosphere

“Photos: Wildlife roams as the planet’s human population isolates” [ABC]. A compendium, with photos. My favorite: “Sea lions have taken over an Argentinian port, some seen sauntering up to a shuttered storefront.” Can a sea lion really be said to “saunter”?

“As people stay home, Earth turns wilder and cleaner” [Associated Press]. “An unplanned grand experiment is changing Earth. As people across the globe stay home to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, the air has cleaned up, albeit temporarily…. The air from Boston to Washington is its cleanest since a NASA satellite started measuring nitrogen dioxide,in 2005, says NASA atmospheric scientist Barry Lefer. Cleaner air has been most noticeable in India and China. On April 3, residents of Jalandhar, a city in north India’s Punjab, woke up to a view not seen for decades: snow-capped Himalayan peaks more than 100 miles away.”

“Pandemic will drive biggest drop in CO2 emissions since WW II, World Meteorological Organization says” [CBC]. “The coronavirus pandemic is expected to drive carbon dioxide emissions down six per cent this year, the head of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Wednesday, in what would be the biggest yearly drop since World War II….. The WMO also published on Wednesday the final version of its report on the global climate, which confirmed a preliminary finding that 2015-2019 was the warmest five-year period on record, with the global average temperature having increased by 1.1 C since the pre-industrial period.”

“How hot will Earth get by 2100?” [Nature]. “The new generation of scenarios, known as Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), were not introduced until 2015. Only now, as the major climate-modelling centres around the world run their experiments for the 2021 IPCC assessment, are they taking centre stage in climate research….. Though based on the old [Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs)], the new scenarios for the first time present fully fleshed-out narratives about how the world might evolve. Each provides a broad storyline about how the world might change, as well as numbers for key demographic trends — population, economic productivity, urbanization and education — in every country on Earth, which modellers then use to simulate emissions and planetary impacts…. [T]he teams that drafted the SSPs imagined a storyline that is very close to the path that the United States and other major powers are taking. The SSP3 scenario, called “regional rivalry — a rocky road”, is defined by a resurgence of nationalism. It sees concerns about economic competitiveness and security lead to trade wars. As the decades progress, national efforts to lock down energy and food supplies short-circuit global development. Investments in education and technology decline. Curbing greenhouse gases would be difficult in such a world, and adapting to climate change wouldn’t be any easier. Under this scenario, the average global temperature is projected to soar to more than 4 °C above pre-industrial levels.”

“The world’s wetlands are a haven for wildlife, but we need to learn to love them” [CNN]. “While musicians and movie stars campaign vocally to protect our rainforests and oceans, the world’s wetlands rarely get the same level of public support. They are in many ways the planet’s unglamorous, unsung heroes — yet by one estimate wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests. Our rivers, lakes, marshes, mangroves and peatlands are home to countless species that can survive nowhere else — from beavers and freshwater turtles to waterfowl and thousands of kinds of fish. They’re also a vital long-term store of carbon, helping protect the world from climate change. ‘Inland wetlands are the biggest biodiversity hotspot in the world,’ says William Darwall, head of the Freshwater Biodiversity Unit at the International Union for Conservation of Nature. But Darwall says these unique habitats are underappreciated. They’re widely perceived as a waste of land, he says, better used for something more productive. As a result, vast areas of the world’s wetlands are being converted to other uses.”

Health Care

Plus ça change. Thread:

“Health care workers show up at ‘Reopen PA’ protest to urge people to stay home” [PA Post]. “‘I’m sitting here and I’m looking at the signs saying open PA with no testing,’ [Yetta Timothy, a certified nursing assistant in Harrisburg] said, crying. ‘It’s like they don’t care about lives, the people around them or the people they love.'” • “The right to infect others shall not be infringed.”

“Anti-Vaxxers and Lockdown Protesters Form an Unholy Alliance” [Daily Beast]. “The predominantly right-wing activists calling for states to reopen businesses amid the pandemic have also criticized vaccines in their online communities. On ‘Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine,’ a Facebook group with more than 350,000 members that has become a hotbed for anti-social distancing protests in the state, thousands of members said they wouldn’t take any future vaccine. Some posters pushed conspiracy theories that the vaccine would be the “mark of the Beast” or a tracking device used by billionaire Bill Gates. A user in ‘Reopen Missouri,’ another Facebook group devoted to rapidly reopening businesses, made a popular post that included a vow to never take any future coronavirus vaccine. ‘I refuse to receive said vaccine to make others feel more safe,’ it read. ‘I won’t set myself—or my children—on fire to keep you warm.'” • At a high level, I suppose the question becomes whether “our” Federal system scales to handle a pandemic. It’s not clear to me that the answer is yes. If not, what then?

“The Social-Distance Vigilantes in a Massachusetts Senior Home” [The Atlantic]. “Brookhaven is an upscale community in Lexington, Massachusetts…. Last week, two more residents tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total case count to four, half of whom are known to have ventured off campus…. “For the sake of our community, we are taking a drastic step,” [Lucian Leape, a former public-health professor at Harvard] wrote in an email obtained by The Atlantic. “With this notice, we are asking everyone to confidentially report … the name of any resident whose behavior appears to be a threat to our safety.” The group would then consult the reported resident to judge whether their behavior posed a threat and, if it did, urge them to stop. If the resident refused, the group would publish their name to the Brookhaven listserv so that other residents would know to avoid them…. Leape, for his part, thinks there comes a point when matters of life and death transcend privacy considerations. ‘We’ve been dealing with this problem for more than a month, and we just finally said, ‘You know, lives are at stake,” he told me. ‘The individual has a right to put their own life in jeopardy if they wish. We don’t think they have a right to put our lives in jeopardy.'”


“Gaming Sales Are Up, but Production Is Down” [New York Times]. “video game developers, as well as the large corporations behind the gaming consoles, have faced challenges adapting to a world in which offices and factories are closed and designers have children vying for their attention at home. Behind the scenes, questions linger as to how to tackle a crisis that could last weeks or months — particularly for those making games and gaming consoles that they hoped to release this year…. Another major logistical hurdle for video games in 2020 will be getting through certification, a process required by the three major console manufacturers, Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony. Before any developer can release a game on Switch, Xbox or PlayStation, those companies want to ensure that there are no game-breaking glitches. But certification testers at those companies are now working remotely, which has raised questions about security and productivity. Developers worry that with everything taking longer than it normally does, a backlog may emerge.”

Class Warfare

“Two Americas: COVID & Community” [Sapienta]. Interview with Chris Arnade. “What I find particularly unsettling is the utter lack of commitment to a given place demonstrated by many with wealth in American society. By leaving Manhattan for a Long Island beach bungalow or Jersey City for a Hudson Valley home, they are denying any responsibility for acquaintances, neighbors, or friends and effectively refusing membership in a larger community–a community that serves them in good times. Compare this to the actions of people with lesser means than Arnade’s elite. Struggling local restaurants prepare meals for overworked EMTs. Young people stand in long grocery store lines to pick up food for elderly neighbors. Volunteers stitch together face masks for sleep-deprived nurses. Arnade writes about ‘front row’ and ‘back row’ America and urges us to perceive the dignity and the worth of those sitting in the back row. But what does the COVID-19 pandemic tell us about front row Americans? Do they deserve our respect?”

“The Economy of Evil” [Historic.ly]. “Before the rise of Fascism, both Italy and Germany had a robust social safety net and public services. In Italy, the trains were nationalized, and they ran on time while serving rural villages in 1861. The telecom industry was nationalized in 1901. Phone lines and public telephone services were universally available. In 1908, the life insurance industry was nationalized. For the first time, even poor Italians could ensure that their family could be taken care of if they died a premature death…. Benito Mussolini became Prime Minister in October 1922. Nazis rose to power in 1933 in Germany. Mussolini convened a meeting of his cabinet and immediately decided to privatize all the public enterprises. On December 3, 1922, they passed a law where they promised to reduce the size and function of the government, reform tax laws and also reduce spending. … Hitler’s economic policy was Mussolini’s policy on steroids…. In 1934, Nazis outlined their plan to revitalize the German economy. It involved reprivatization of significant industries: railways, public works project, construction, steel, and banking. On top of that, Hitler guaranteed profits for the private sector, and so, many American industrialists and bankers gleefully flocked to Germany to invest. The Nazis had a thorough plan for deregulation. The Nazi’s economist, stated,” The first thing German business needs is peace and quiet. It must have a feeling of absolute legal security and must know that work and its return are guaranteed. The interferences in a business which occurred at first, perhaps as a result of too much zeal, have become intolerable.'”

News of the Wired

“The Philosophy of Anger” [Agnes Callard, Boston Review]. “Could it be rational for you to be just as angry on Thursday as you were on Tuesday? Moreover, could it be rational for you to conceive of a plan to steal from me in turn? And what if you don’t stop at one theft: could it be rational for you to go on to steal from me again, and again, and again? … [W]e have been debating the wrong issue. The real debate concerns the three questions about anger and rationality [above], which are not rhetorical, and to which the answer might well be: yes, yes, and yes.” • Very interesting. Timely, too.

“Three colours: Blue” [Homonculus]. “[Cennino Cennini[] shows us how deeply ultramarine blue was revered in the Middle Ages, writing that it “is a colour illustrious, beautiful, and most perfect, beyond all other colours; one could not say anything about it, or do anything with it, that its quality would not still surpass” … .As the name implies, it came from ‘over the seas’ – imported, since around the thirteenth century, at great expense from the Badakshan mines. Ultramarine was precious not just because it was a rare import, but because it was extremely laborious to make. Lapis lazuli is veined with the most gorgeous deep blue, but grinding it is typically disappointing: it turns greyish because of the impurities in the mineral. Those have to be separated from the blue material, which is done by kneading the powdered mineral with wax and washing the wax in water – the blue pigment flushes out into the water…. The best ultramarine cost more than its weight in gold in the Middle Ages, and so it was usually used sparingly. To paint an entire ceiling with the colour, as Giotto did in the Arena Chapel, was lavish in the extreme.” • Fascinating about the materiality of pigment (also yellow; red). Now we have Photoshop, of course.

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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 (SR):

SR writes: “Zephyranthes atamasca, Atamasco-lily, Opelika, AL 3-25-2020. Native living happily in my yard.” In my view the mulch in this photo — dead leaves and twigs — is the best mulch (and certainly not bark mulch). Because it rots in place, there’s no work! I also find it aesthetically pleasing.

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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. barefoot charley

      The point eing, anyone or anything that holds eye alls and causes clicks is a-ok with Faceplant, all features no ugs! (Just don’t tell the Democrats)

        1. No it was not, apparently

          Thanks for the link Tom, it is quite unfortunate that the programs listed are rather limited in functionality (limits on which keys can be reprogrammed and how, and no per-program modifications, only system wide).

          @ Barefoot Charley

          You may want to have a look at AutoHotkey, which is fast, simple and only requires you to run a plain text file (with “.ahk” ending).

          For example, the line:


          will cause letter “b” to be sent whenever you press numpad 4 (any other ordinary or special key, say winkey, or F1, or CapsLock is also possible, you can even make Ctrl-n combination to send b instead).

          See their online help file, or if you download and install, the comprehensive manual, very many possibilities are there, I’m sure you’ll find a combination that’ll suit you; you need not live a life bereft of letter b any longer. ;)

          I believe readers will find AutoHotkey’s page at the very top of the search results in DDG/Goog/Qwant/etc.

  1. Lambert Strether Post author

    Sorry for the slight delay; I hope nobody left for a nap. I left digging out that ridiculous Reagan speech until the very last minute, foolishly; I had forgotten what a twister Reagan was.

    1. jo6pac

      That’s what I was going to do but I’ll see what you posted first. Throwing my whole life and time line into a tizzy;-)

    2. Big River Bandido

      Don’t sweat it. I just realized…if today is Earth Day, that means it’s 4/22. Oh dear. How did I miss 4/20? Was I too stoned to notice?

    3. EricT

      How can Kerry bring up Ronald Reagan as an example of leadership during a pandemic when Reagan himself ignored the AIDS epidemic? Talk about a tone deaf remark. The Dems are doing the same thing now as they did in 2016, trying to kiss up to moderate Republicans.

  2. dcblogger

    I am not an economist, so I hope those who are will explain how I am wrong. States facing bankruptcy could issue script to employees and vendors with the proviso that said script would be accepted as payment for taxes, and municipally owned utilities, rent for public housing, and the like. Indeed, states facing bankruptcy might form regional pacts and issue a regional script. I realize there must be something wrong with this and hope commentators will explain why this cannot work.

    1. Lou Anton

      Doable I think, but you need state banks to play along. Might be like exchanging a foreign currency at your bank In exchange for USD at a 1:1 ratio. The state would need to incentivize banks to provide that 1:1 exchange rate by paying interest to IOU holders.

      California has done it before (link), and banks went along with it then. Different times now though, since there might be less faith in the credit of the state considering that revenue sources like sales tax and property tax are going to dry up.

      Any CA residents recall their IOU experiences?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Its “doable.” Here is the problem. The value of a U.S. dollar comes from its good for all debts public and private. The state can’t require you to pay the state and local taxes or fines in their script. They have to take a sack of pennies if I show up with a sack of pennies. If all you have coming in is state script and your land lord doesn’t want it, what good is it?

        The Cali IOU problem amounted to if no money or not enough money is coming in to cover something like rent or payroll then what good is it If the state will give you money for utilities. Essentially you are asking everyone to have a new deity instead of the All Ighty Ollar (all might dollar). Secession starts to sound more practical.

        1. dcblogger

          the state MUST accept US currency for payment, they can accept their script in addition to that payment.

        2. ChrisPacific

          Yes, the California IOUs are generally considered to have worked OK (I believe) but they raised constitutional issues, since they were starting to skate awfully close to the definition of a currency. Ed Harrison wrote a post here at NC that went through some of them. As it was I recall a lively secondary market with an unofficial exchange rate sprang up almost immediately.

        1. jonhoops

          Actually you could use the CA IOUs to pay taxes.

          From the CA Franchise tax board site FAQ

          7. Can I use my registered warrant to pay my State taxes?
          You can use a registered warrant to pay some of your State tax liabilities, although you will not receive interest unless you hold the warrant until it is redeemable. For more information, visit the Franchise Tax Board’s website at http://www.ftb.ca.gov.

          1. Billy

            Well what do you know? I was misled.

            What are the “some” that you can’t use them to pay taxes. Can’t find that anywhere.

      1. John Zelnicker

        @Painted Shut
        April 22, 2020 at 2:41 pm

        There are also others: 7 states don’t have an income tax and 2 don’t tax your wages:

        “Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming don’t tax personal income. Two other states – New Hampshire and Tennessee – don’t tax wages, though they do tax investment income and dividends.”

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      So why doesn’t Disney pay its employees in Disney dollars? They can buy food and clothing at Disney parks. The landlord doesn’t take Disney dollars even though he goes to Disney himself.

      It breaks down at too many points. Yes, there was anecdotal evidence of people along the Northern border taking both dollars at a one to one rate because everyone needs Canadian or American for coffee and such.

      Countries that aren’t the U.S. keep currency stabilization funds to support their currency from the ebbs and flows of the annual economy.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > So why doesn’t Disney pay its employees in Disney dollars? T

        Well, er:

        The miners were paid in scrip, which they redeemed at the company store. I don’t see why Disney couldn’t do that. Amazon could write an app for it.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I know. Its why I used the landlord as an example. I don’t know where Disney employees live (I assume the characters are kept locked in the basement), but the rest of the staff probably has a non Disney landlord or mortgage.

          1. ambrit

            You should see the immense warren of hallways and rooms underneath the theme parks. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Uncle Walt had the idea to use all that cubic footage as bunker space to ride out WW-3 in. So, imagine dormitories under the Magic Kingdom packed with Small Worlders.
            The Mouse Kingdom.

            1. gc54

              When they emerged, the Mousketeers would be a new race of miniatures inheriting the planet, rodents scavenging.

            2. jonhoops

              I believe Epcot originally was conceived of as a Disney owned community/ongoing worlds fair, where the employees worked and lived . Thant didn’t happen because Walt died in the middle of construction. They eventually built a Disney town that was called Celebration but it ended up more as a traditional development planned community.

            3. Lambert Strether Post author

              > You should see the immense warren of hallways and rooms underneath the theme parks

              Disney sells elite tickets for like $700 a pop, and if you buy that ticket, they will guide you through the tunnels from exhibit to exhibit so you can avoid the long lines.

              You’ve got to admire the kind of minds that built a two-tier, “velvet rope” system into the very architecture of the place.

        2. Phacops

          My father’s side of the family were miners in WVa who got out after his mother died and their father abandoned them. Knowing what the company store meant was part of their vocabulary.

          Fast forward to now. There were meetings by community leaders where I live about the problems of affordable housing for (tourist industry) workers, especially for those H2b workers brought in to tamp down wages. There was talk about using public funds to finance low cost housing that would then be owned by the employers who would collect rents from workers. I railed at that, using the “company store” example and people looked at me like I had two heads.

          1. Michael McK

            I wish you had then said “At least we could use public funds to finance low cost housing that would then be owned by the public who would collect rents…”

            1. Phacops

              I was trying to move towards limited equity co-ops for households not earning the ALICE minimums, though that probably would not be germane to seasonal worker housing needs.

    3. Louis Fyne

      in your scenario, the scrip holder is an unsecured creditor.

      dunno what priority such a holder would have in state bankruptcy.

      i’d bet the state employees’ union and vendors would light up a storm. vendors can withhold services/cut losses, not so easy for state employees

      1. Louis Fyne

        to answer my own Q, states can’t declare bankruptcy

        still expect any scrip to trade at a discount to its nominal cash value

    4. Wukchumni

      Regional script was issued fairly extensively in the early 30’s.

      In the book The Great Depression-A Diary diarist Benjamin Roth calls them ‘White Rabbits’ as in watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat, or perhaps because they were so numerous, and bred like them?

      I don’t think they were all that popular in the scheme of things, but actual Federal money was damned rare, so there must’ve been some commerce done regarding their use.

      He described buying a bushel of apples for 25 Cents, that’s 125 of them, for those of you scoring @ home. 1/5th of a Cent each.

      Rather severe deflation was the order of the day.

    5. Alex morfesis

      Yes you can issue them as “warrants” tradable at a discount for state “activities” and payable as funds are available… Da Arnole did that in Kali4nyah…even though Flow Reed duh has no individual income tax, there are other taxes and fees the state collects and it also distributes resources to the county and lesser government entities… Flow Reed duh has many govt type boards…mosquito control, school, parks, private hoa type tif’s, all types of folks who get state resources… It would be perhaps a bit close to the “wir” in Switzerland… To complement, not compete…akin to the “company” $tore scrip of yesteryear and Tennessee Ernie Ford fame…16 tons and what duyuh get

    6. Susan Mulloy

      During the Great Depression in Chicago my grandfather was paid in script for his work as a carpenter for the school district. I don’t know what it bought but my grandparents did lot lose their home: a middle-class 2 flat on Garfield Boulevard (55th Street). This home still stands although the whole block of former homes is now gone.

      1. HotFlash

        There was also payment in labour for property taxes. My grandfather, a farmer in central MI, paid his taxes by driving a road grader in summer, a snowplow in winter. He told me that he always plowed out the County Supervisor’s driveway first. Can’t do that anymore, it has to be cash nowadays. I wonder when/why that changed?

    7. Fraibert

      I raised the issue before in an earlier comment on this matter but I think a regional scrip, absent federal legislation, might be treated as a form of property, and not as a currency, for income tax purposes.

      Treatment as property makes a hypothetical scrip effectively impossible to use because one would need to track the value in U.S. dollars of scrip as it is received and as it is expended, in order to determine tax basis. This approach is what actually is the case with bitcoin, etc. as it stands in U.S. tax law.

  3. IMOR

    Re: Earth gets wilder and cleaner. Wouldn’t followers of the Gaian hypothesis say, ‘Of course: reducing us and our activity is self-cleaning / evolution by and for the planet.’?

    1. Phacops

      Sorta, but to the biosphere, the earth is not a benign actor. It is a capricious geologic force that drives contingencies upon organisms for reprodictive advantage. No earth mother that.

      What I think is being demonstrated are the qualities of an environment not burdened by the consumptive churn of natural resources. If we like that, then a permanent reduction of the human population is the Rx.

      1. ambrit

        In early mythology, the Earth Mother was but one of several female deities. Some, like Cybele were blood thirsty so and sos. The Norns, or Three Fates were depicted as three women who manage an individual’s fate. Roughly speaking: Being born, Growing up, and Dying.
        Norns: https://norse-mythology.net/norns-the-goddesses-of-fate-in-norse-mythology/
        Cybele: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cybele
        Even though we like to tell ourselves that through our great new religion of Science we can see all and know all, we haven’t done too well in managing our environment. As you mention above, sooner or later it is going to manage us.

    2. Bsoder

      Why wouldn’t an industrial or environmental engineer? I’m fine with Gaian Theory, – as a complex homeostatic system. The truth been said here many ties before, the real costs of doing anything aren’t not on anyone’s books, certainly not liabilities. Seems like the cost of most cancers are our dna interacts with the physical world is something that should be an all those that chemicals.

      1. Phacops

        The biosphere has never been homeostatic except in the exceptionally short term. A perusal of geology and paleontology is enlightening in that respect.

        Though, enlightening are two salient issues.
        1. Evolution shows stasis in species for millions of years followed by change so rapid the event is rarely seen in the fossil record. This is “punctuated equilibrium” where portions of a widespread species become isolated and genetic changes are fixed in the smaller population.
        2. Talking with geologists used to thinking in terms of deep time, there is a persistent view that humans are merely agents of geologic change little different than say, flood basalts, that drove past global extinction events.

        Being entirely sanguine, I highly doubt that we will reduce our population quickly enough to a fraction of its current size to escape a human-driven punctuated equilibrium event. What survives may not be recognizable as genus Homo.

  4. dcblogger

    there a millions of middle class and even rich people facing ruin right now. People who have always been prosperous and never expected to see hard times. Anyone in the restaurant business or even supply chain. Anyone in the beauty business, or supply chain. Anyone in the retail business, up to an including store managers, are out of a job right now. They are being radicalized. Of course they could go fascist. It is astounding that Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi, et al do not understand this.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Of course they could go fascist. It is astounding that Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi, et al do not understand this.

      Why do you think that Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi would oppose fascism?

      1. jsn

        Quinn Slobodian’s “Globalists”, a history of the building of Neoliberalism starting with the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, makes the point that the “globalists”, Von Mises and Hayek, thought “democracy” would be a great legitimizer for their proposed divorce between politics and economics.

        Of course they were completely indifferent to abandoning democracy when it began to contest the divide between the two. American Capitalists were completely onboard, that’s why US State Department coined the term, “premature anti-fascists” for the likes of Orwell or Hemmingway.

        The New Deal, unfortunately, redeemed Capitalism by re-taming it under popular politics setting the ground for the eventual Globalist comeback which in Globalism 2.0 is headed right back into the fascist territory at which it arrived in 1.0. And just like the first time around, “markets” and neoliberalism cannot solve the problems they have created and will require decisive political intervention to avoid blowing appart industrial society through debt deflation and the associated liquidation of the productive constellations of labor, physical plant and capital. Despite their rhetoric as “Capitalists” they are infact feudalists who are driving those parts of the world economy they control into that configuration.

        1. Bsoder

          There are good people in world and evil. Not a radical statement. Evil, by definition always plays the strongest hand. To undo evil takes many people focused at once (by which I mean doing) to change or restore balance in the world.

          These guys, “Of course they were completely indifferent to abandoning democracy when it began to contest the divide between the two”, you refer to did they ever right that, teach that, speak in public on that. I think I’m pretty equipped to take on any theory, but this comment is so abstract and based on so much inductive reasoning, that sadly, for I know your trying to say something, I don’t find it helpful.

            1. jsn

              They were idealists who romanticized economics and in so doing reduced people to agents of the economy.

              They were satisfied with early fascism and responded to Keynesianism by mysticizing money. They had no moral interest in ordinary people, viewing them through a utilitarian lens.

              They did not set out to recreate feudalism, though Hayek titling his book “TheRoad to Serfdom” Does make you wonder: it’s goal was to eliminate all the governmental constraints on economic power that distinguished ordinary people from serfs.

              Because of this moral blindness and love of money, the application of their economic theories cannot help but lead to fascism which in turn leads to authoritarianism which in the hands of benighted “elites” who have no understanding of systemic effects appears to be on the brink of liquidating most of the productive capacity remaining in western economies on the alter of Mammon in a debt deflation. They aspired to a golden age of aristocratic wealth, the model they built can only deliver it in a feudal political form which will not sustain industrial complexity because it does not value the knowledge, wisdom, experience and morality of the ordinary people necessary to sustain such a system.

      2. JBird4049

        >>Why do you think that Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi would oppose fascism?

        The question really should be just how short sighted they are being. Risking economic collapse because you cannot be bothered to set up something real for the bottom 90% while giving billions to large corporations is not good optics. Yet, they are acting like this is just another normal opportunity for disaster capitalism.

        They might be fine with fascism especially as we seem to be sliding nicely into it; I am not sure that they understand that with the increasing amount of suffering from the economic collapse arising from their lack of action will likely lead to violent civil unrest with strident demands for change. As in removing people from office.

        This is too big a disaster and both parties are failing this test. I can see either or both parties collapsing in the next presidential election cycle.

    2. Big River Bandido

      I don’t think it’s astounding at all. Completely in character and in line with their entire career long history, for all of them.

      1. Polar Donkey

        Today, the city of Memphis announced it has a $100 million budget hole so far from Coronavirus. Federal level democrats didn’t get any assistance to state or local governments. What use are democrats? Just campaign donation collectors. I’ll be damned if I’m voting for any federal level democrat. Their uselessness can only be explained by corruption.

        1. Screwball

          Without a doubt. But some don’t see it that way. Case and point; a guy I know, a week or so ago, said (speaking of this pandemic) “you know the democrats are going to have to fix all this.” That left me shaking my head.

          Today, when talking to someone who didn’t need the $1200 check and wondering what to do with it, the same guy told them to donate it to Joe Biden.

          Really? Is he going to fix this? That’s beyond laughable.

          He’s a MSDNC liberal. Worships Obama, Pelosi, Chucky, and hates republicans with every inch of his body. There is really no talking to or changing those kind of people. What makes them tick? I have no clue.

          1. Tom Doak

            Uncle Joe does NOT hate Republicans with every inch of his body. He thinks there are a lot of good guys over on that side of the aisle. He suggested at one point he’d be open to having a Republican on his ticket, until he had to promise to pick a woman in order to unite the Party.

            It might be one of the only things he’s honest about.

            1. HotFlash

              Because (creepy) Uncle Joe can’t manage ‘Republican’ and ‘woman’ in the same thought.

            2. John Zelnicker

              @Tom Doak
              April 22, 2020 at 5:24 pm

              I interpreted Screwball’s last paragraph as referring to his friend, not Biden. YMMV.

            3. Massinissa

              Zelnicker is correct: The poster you’re responding to was talking about his friend, not Uncle Joe. He’s wondering why there are so many ‘vote blue no matter who’-style Democratic loyalists.

          2. jaaaaayceeeee


            I think maybe most people, when told huge lies and smears with enough repetition, believe them (Biden’s health care proposal gives universal coverage and would cost everybody less, that we can’t afford to have a productive, competitive economy that meets the challenges we face, and that social mobility, innovation, free market competition and public programs not means tested are how you pave the road to Nazi commie evil, etc.).

            After you add the ridiculously consolidated, corporate TV news demographics to those who have lives and were brought up to believe it, maybe you get to most people.

            But the young and the progressive are already such a huge challenge. The Democratic leaders are as incoherent as the supply siders were, already. The redistribution upward after 2008 and the redistribution we’ll see with the coronavirus recession/depression, and more platforms like Bernie Sanders’s with single payer are not going to make it any easier to divide and conquer.

            The worries I have are how bad (fascist and/or endangered) our civilizations will have to get before they get better. That guy you know, who thinks that Democrats will fix things because they are Democrats, may someday even realize that the decades of Democrats not fixing things are continuing. It’s not going to stay as easy for the comfortable to grasp at such ‘history is wrong’ theories.

            A lot of Trump voters were concerned about the economy not being productive, the middle class dying, and inequality. That MSNBC sucker and some Trump voters may be grasping for solutions for suckers, but to problems they at least are somewhat aware of (all those FOX viewers really did raise their hands for single payer in that town hall Dems excoriated Sanders for doing).

            I don’t see the so-called moderates being able to keep this going through boom/bust too many more times.

    3. HotFlash

      Don’t forget the arts. No stadium-concerts, no operas, no symphonies, no clubs, no mosh-pits, no jazz festivals, no salon concerts, no live music in clubs and bars (if bars are ever a thing again); maybe some, but fewer, recording sessions and really, how will we get to know whose recordings we want to pay for if we don’t ever hear them live?

      That affects the musicians, the sound guys, the stage-hands, the lighting folks, the set decorators, the makeup people, the wig people, the costume people, and way, way more. Margaret Atwood once reminded Stephen Harper (neo-lib prime minister of Canada, our Reagan, if you will), that more people in Canada make their living from the arts than from mining, agriculture and fishing combined. The only way we people in the arts can survive is a UBI. Even busking won’t work anymore, don’t think even Turlough O’Carolan could survive in a situation like this.

      It’s tough-ish here in Canada, since we arty types can’t see anything getting better, in terms of having actual concert halls and such open again for two years tops, but we have some hope that we will be taken care of, ie, not allowed to go homeless or starve. You US-ians have it way worse. Your Dems, your Reps, and your Prez have thrown you under the bus *and* have looted your corpses. Since I live close to a border (as do must of us Canuckians) I worry.

      Meanwhile, we who make(made) our living from the arts are looking at a one to two year loss of earnings as we figure out how to recreate or reinvent the concert space. I will pro’ly survive, I hope to, b/c I am so old that I can claim some sort of SSI thingy, and basically am retiring. But I wonder, what about all those young people who have worked so hard to sing, dance, play, compose, what will they do without an audience tossing coins? And what will we do without their songs, music, and dance?

  5. Rod

    Great Lilly with Violets? as background are wonderful reminders of the beauty our Mother gives us.
    Happy Earth Day

    Sorry, but:


  6. Balakirev

    “By leaving Manhattan for a Long Island beach bungalow or Jersey City for a Hudson Valley home, they are denying any responsibility for acquaintances, neighbors, or friends and effectively refusing membership in a larger community–a community that serves them in good times.” -A great read. Arnade is dead on; but his words will never make it to the ears that need to hear them. Nor did they, in the past:

    “I say, then, that the years of the beatific incarnation of the Son of God had reached the tale of one thousand three hundred and forty-eight when in the illustrious city of Florence, the fairest of all the cities of Italy, there made its appearance that deadly pestilence, which…had its origin some years before in the East…Nay, the evil went yet further, for not merely by speech or association with the sick was the malady communicated to the healthy with consequent peril of common death; but any that touched the cloth of the sick or aught else that had been touched or used by them, seemed thereby to contract the disease…

    “Some again, the most sound, perhaps, in judgment, as they we also the most harsh in temper of all, affirmed that there was no medicine for the disease superior or equal in efficacy to flight; following which prescription a multitude of men and women, negligent of all but themselves, deserted their city, their houses…and went into voluntary exile, or migrated to the country parts, as if God in visiting men with this pestilence in requital of their iniquities would not pursue them with His wrath.”

    Excerpted from the First Day of Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron (JM Rigg’s translation). For all the pious rhetoric, at least some that escaped survived, probably because it was easier for the wealthy and powerful to get away from centers of infection in those days. Still, it was estimated that roughly three-quarters of Florence’s pre-plague population was killed in 1348 and the few years that followed. It had been at 120,000 around the turn of the 14th century. In 1500, or 200 years later, it was estimated at 70,000.

    1. Bsoder

      I’m going to suggest something, i goes agaisnt my Taoist belief, that always, it is waste of time. Below I list an amazing book, ‘ The Years of Rice and Salt’ is an alternative history novel published in 2002. Its working title was A World Without Europe. In the 14th century Anno Domini, the Black Plague decimates Europe. But, the book goes forward and backward in time, (not actual time travel, but what you get by karma).

      But it so how more than, it’s about, how one can become a better person, a much better person overtime. If your Buddhist or want to know more about it, give it a whirl. I’ve read it thrice. They is a huge payoff in the struggle per se. True it may be fiction (I’m not sure about thst in the entirety), but I do think there is solace to be found in reading it.

      1. Bs

        ‘God in visiting men with this pestilence’, and what god would be? And why would god act in this manner? Aside from the general nostrum of ‘we here all are bad sinners, & deserve such…”. Could be that we humans are 100% responsible for what we get, you know “you reap what you sow”. Toss disease infected corpses over a walled city in a fancy sling shot was not the work of god. God doesn’t seem to have anything to do, given this state of free will, we are destroying everything and each other quite nicely. No it brings we no joy. I signed off over 100 death certificates this week. I am broken hearted. Ask not for who the bell tolls it’s for thee.

        1. HotFlash

          Bs (Bsoder?), thank you and have some heart-peace. Either we humans will get through this, and perhaps it doesn’t matter. Something will continue on.

          God(dess) or whomever, bless us every one.

      2. Jessica

        I heartily second the recommendation of “The Years of Rice and Salt”. To clarify, in the book the black death does not decimate Europe. It wipes out the European population altogether and eliminates Europe as a factor in the subsequent global links.
        I also recommend The Mars Trilogy by the same author. Its vision of humanity expanding to Mars (or anywhere else) has lost its appeal and legitimacy in the eyes of many, including the author it seems, but this is the most detailed and believable presentation of that notion.

    2. JBird4049

      The Black Death at its height makes COVID look like an unusually mild strain of the common cold. I rather don’t blame anyone really for fleeing the city especially as knowledge about it was almost nothing.

      The current well off
      COVID19 refugees really do deserve opprobrium.

  7. Painted Shut

    Last week, two more residents tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total case count to four, half of whom are known to have ventured off campus

    This – THIS – is why people are ready for things to reopen. The very people we are all staying home to protect, they themselves are not staying home and are endangering themselves and others. Unacceptable!! We are vilifying healthy folks who are social distancing at an outdoor beach in warm sunny Florida, but nursing home residents in cold damp Massachusetts are allowed to go “off campus”?! Why isn’t this under Darwin Awards?

    This is who we’re closing the economy for?? Kidding me?!

    I’m pretty much already set on fire to keep these folks warm. My kids too. So thanks for that. Cure worse than disease.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I will have a comment on this tomorrow under Class Warfare. The whole position is impossible, especially for those with kids, and thanks to the combined actions of both parties.

      1. L

        Agreed. I have kids and I’m barely getting work and education done on a good day. And I’m fortunate enough to be able to keep my job.

        Personally I understand the beef that some of the people protesting the orders are having. The economy is on pause and they still have bills to pay and all they are being offered is one time stimulus checks that have yet to arrive and a “small business” loan program that is more a payday for the banks and the burger chains than for any actual small business.

        If Trump was serious about helping people he would force the payouts to be sustainable and throw money and taking care of nursing homes. He won’t because that isn’t his thing, and it would take too much work. Likewise if the DNC was serious they would force this too since they do have effective veto. But they are more invested in virtue signaling and prepping for the campaign ads.

        At the same time as we are left fighting over one-time 1200 checks, the FED is printing money by the trillions for Wall Street and the DNC and RNC are in complete agreement that we must never ever mention it.

        1. jsn

          The trick is, it’s only the income side of the economy that’s been put on hold.

          To do that without putting the payments/debt side on hold too creates a universal “maturity miss-match” for everyone not on the receiving end of the bailouts.

          This will cascade quickly and may not be fixable by the time the idiots in charge realize they’re liquidating their own income streams. I’m with Ian Welsh at this point.

          1. JBird4049

            Too many people simply don’t have any money either for rent or food. A $1,200 check that in the mail supposedly. The loans or grants for $1,000 for each employee of a small business which is underfunded even if all the money went to the right people, which it did no. Or the unemployment benefits many can’t get because the unemployment office is a joke?

            While breaking quarantine is childish dangerous, and very possibly lethal, it seems that the grand plan is for the proles is to go die at least by hunger if not disease.

            So people should just suffer at home? Probably. But demanding the most with people who have the least seems to be the American Way.

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          I sypathise with them, too.
          there was a button just sitting there within them…”I wish….”…and some bunch of nefarious Moloch Worshippers pushed that button.
          Coincidentally, they pushed it not a week after things like “rent strike”, “general strike” and even “debt strike” were at the top of twitter’s trending hashtag numbers.
          there’s a lot of “I wish” going around out here on the Farm, lately.
          “i wish we could go have a hamburger”…”I wish I could go to the movies with that chick”…”I wish we didn’t have to juts stay on the farm all the time”…”I wish that when we DO hafta go out, we didn’t have to wear masks, etc”…

          I do sympathise….but it is grossly irresponsible, nevertheless.
          like the Heartattack Burger, in response to Michele Obama’s gardening…”I’ll show her…give me that bucket of fried lard!”
          “Hardened Arteries as a political weapon!”
          …and it will only make this last longer and kill more people.

          —Mom keeps mentioning how she wants to go on one of our usual every month or two Real Grocery Store Excursions…I tell her that they wouldn’t let us do it that way any more…that it’s almost a faux pas/downright rude—they’d call it “hoarding”(mostly because of me,lol)…and that the store is half-empty anyway…that i might be able to get what’s on my perennial, hardly ever changing list(pasta and beans and such)…but that her frou frou delectables and pineapple kombuchas and other “fun stuff” that ends up with the chickens because nobody but her and me like that sort of thing—will not be available,lol.
          “Normally”, my pragmatic frugality balances out her overthetop-ism…in my mind, at least(this is why we were better suited for this pandemic than most)

      2. Billy

        “I believe that If congress doesn’t do something for middle class Americans very soon, they will not be able to show their faces in their home districts without a squad of armed guards protecting them in perpetuity.”

        ‘Guillotine Whetstone’

        If not armed guards, they should at least hire a press secretary.
        Here’s Nancy Pelosi demonstrating social Foot in Mouth Disease:

        Sure enough:


        1. John

          And, for an instant, she stared directly into those soft blue eyes and knew with an intuitive mammalian certainty, that the exceedingly rich were no longer even remotely human. So wrote William Gibson in his novel Count Zero.

          I watch what Congress does and does not do. I read of those who have the means fleeing to what they perceive as safety. I am the antithesis of “exceedingly rich”, but I am fortunate in where I live and what my work allows me to do, stay home.

          I think Gibson had it about right.

        2. John

          The only people in Congress anymore are millionaires, hundred millionaires, soon to be millionaires, and ex-military and current spooks.

          And not one of them is working for the American people. Only for the elites.

    2. Louis Fyne

      the organizers of chicago’s pride parade (>100,000s of attendee—if not 1,000,000) said their June parade will go ahead.

      got luck social distancing that one

    3. Bsoder

      So, if I got this right – your argument, non-fact Based, is that some people have an unfair advantage of you, because they profit in some way, defying orders (where there are orders), on one hand, on the other, they disadvantage you because you want (?) go to back to whatever it was you were doing. From which I conclude that the concept of ‘sacrifice’ is either unacceptable or shouldn’t apply. All I can say is stupid people acting stupid – it this case by introducing uncertainty into the entire social structure is bound to get many people killed, some very sick, and today’s news, even after hospital discharge, end up dying because of post discharge development of blood clots. Nothing is ever going to be the same, and because we have a whole series of other problems to deal. If it brings you relief the only away to have your cake and eat it, is with testing, everyone repeatedly. That’s what’s real.

    4. CuriosityConcern

      Well, my take on the blurb is that the majority of the residents are afraid that the actions of a small minority will put them at risk.
      And my .02 on your point about being set on fire is that these elderly people did not actually have as much agency to stop the process we find ourselves in. If they had that much agency, why do not at this moment?
      I wrote this the links thread in response to a different poster, but I’d like to pose the same question to you:
      Why do Americans have to choose between economic security and health? Are other countries doing things differently and why can’t we emulate them?
      My personal opinion is that these questions were answered in the book Who Will Tell the People, which if I recall right outlines how the political process is bought and sold.
      I think choosing between safety and the economy is a false dichotomy wedge issue, just like all the others.
      But I don’t know how to convince our leaders to do the right thing.

  8. hunkerdown

    Win/win for oil producers and coworking spaces: WeWork to Accept Oil Barrels as Tenants (Unicorn.computer)

    “We are very excited to welcome our new tenants from West Texas to spaces across the country. We’ve prepared everything for them to be as comfortable and productive as possible, from places to be stacked floor-to-celing to…that’s about it. Really we’re just very excited to have tenants that might be worth something someday. Wait wait – can you redact that?” said a WeWork spokesperson.

    ;) Another fun parody site for those into that sort of thing.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Ahhh, WeWork. The coworking space mogul that is soon to be no more.

      Here in Tucson, the place I used to go to has been out of business for nearly a year. Like many coworking spaces, it didn’t stay on top of the turnover.

      In coworking spaces, turnover is a given. If you aren’t putting a lot of effort into bringing in new tenants to replace those who have departed, you’re going to have a vacancy problem.

      At this time last year, this news was just a few days from dropping into my world:


      AFAIK, that space is still vacant.

  9. Bugs Bunny

    Re: Retail: “Clothing retailers have tangible and very costly reminders of their lost sales piling up at warehouses and shuttered stores.”

    “Too bad we can’t use the unsold clothing to soak up the unsold oil.”

    Lambert, you have outdone yourself…funniest comment ever. I guess crisis brings out the best comedy in all of us.

  10. L

    You forget the eternal rallying cry of the “Strategic Genius”:

    But next time we’ll have more leverage!

    On a more serious note I see the Virginia thing as a very big deal. To my mind the success of the Sanders campaigns may be best measured in how many alumni move into office at every level. As the Greens have convincingly demonstrated time and again a weak back bench means a weak team. Yes we are working to deadline but long shots at the top go better when they launch from higher off the ground.

  11. flora

    re: strategic genius, aka our feckless Dem estab

    This whole repeated excuse from liberals that Democrats *have* to be doormats for the GOP, because they’re the only party that actually believes in the public good and responsible governance, is really becoming borderline pathological.



    Democrats spent three weeks talking up the next coronavirus bill as a grand “Phase Four” where they would do the really good progressive stuff they didn’t do in the bailout.

    Now they have a new bill, and Schumer says they’ll do the good stuff next time.


    1. flora

      And there’s this:

      What was the point of giving Democrats a House majority? They said they’d use it as a check on Trump. Now Trump is suspending immigration and destroying the Post Office and Democrats are nowhere to be seen.


      Maybe the Dem estab is silently on board with everything T is doing.

      Interesting the Reps are expert at messaging and whipping up outrage against elites… depicted as the Dems. It’s clever. Hard to argue back when the Dem estab proves the point. And what’s the Dem estab rebuttal? Some Foghorn Leghorn style long winded blather about 60 year old history and Truman yada yada? (Never mentioning FDR or the New Deal.)

        1. Arizona Slim

          How about Alf Landon, George McGovern, and Walter Mondale? Epic election losers, all of them. And I think that Joe Biden’s name will soon be added to this list.

        1. John

          What exactly is the agenda of the Congressional Democrats? Pelosi is stuck in the austerity rut and lacks the flexibility to get out of it. You could blame her age. I do not being older that she is and quite will to adopt the Charlie Pierce mantra, ‘F**k the deficit. People got no jobs. People got no money.” Schumer is no match for McConnell. He is insufficiently ruthless. Mc Connell will do anything in pursuit of his goals; anything at all. He has packed the courts. Trump has little to do with it being unable to focus on anything that is not him. By the time this cohort has passed to their reward the Gilded Age will be upon us.

          McConnell with his wife in the Cabinet. Now that is a sweet deal; opens all sorts of possibilities none of which bode well for us proles.

          There may be some take no prisoners Democrats in Congress, but the leadership and the DNC are tucked in the waistcoat pockets of the real overlords, the real government, giving orders from on high.

          I used to be a believer in the government. I actually thought the plutocrats did not run anything. Silly naive me

              1. HotFlash

                Interesting question, Ambrit! I did a few searches, found some hair-raising stuff, incl; some guy who says Joe owns the island right across from Epstein’s (old sub bunkers?), but really, credible? Dunno, so not posting links here. Wouldn’t doubt, after seeing the John Stewart clip of Joe hair-sniffing and otherwise inappropriately touching females, incl young ones. The guy I saw on Youtube has pics of an island which he says is Joe B’s and although he has *very* authoritative diction that is not proof — coulda been Staten Island for all I know.. Kinda thin, but … Perhaps someone with journalist chops could have a look? Couldn’t find such, so perhaps nothing in it.

                OTOH, just ‘coz righty CT’s say it doesn’t mean it’s not true, just that you/we have to document really well. Not easy for me, due to paywalls.

                PS, best regards to you and Mme Phyllis (pls tell her I am regarding her!)

                1. The Rev Kev

                  True, but if we are going to be fair, Trump seems never to have been into the really young stuff and said so. He left them for his other friend at the time – Bill Clinton.

          1. GramSci

            Schumer is sufficiently ruthless ; he’s just insufficiently motivated. Send him a check for $5M and he’ll give you all the ruth you want.

  12. Big River Bandido

    Regarding the Politico piece on DCCC fundraising: I’m not too convinced this means much, if only for the simple reason that the higher ups in the Democrat Party are uniquely gifted at cramming colossal amounts of cash into the can and hitting “flush”. But the defining issue of the 2020 will be turnout. I looked into the results of the 1918 elections; turnout plummeted. That’s really the operative story this year.

    Given these factors: the likelihood that we see multiple flare-ups in sporadic waves; the depression in turnout already registered in Democrat “primaries”; the reports we are already seeing about COVID cases transmitted through the Wisconsin “elections”; and the increasing accounts of strikes and economic and social dislocation (all of it being exacerbated rather than mitigated by Democrats)…

    Then add to that the moral depravity of the congressional Democrats who already “lead” the House…a vacuum at the very top of the Democrat ticket…and a party “membership” which has no ownership of the party and which is riven into two factions holding mutually exclusive viewpoints and which hate each other more than Republicans. All this points to an election where the bottom falls out of the electorate and only a handful of voters participate.

    I see the recipe for, and all the necessary signs of a Republican rout in November. Money be damned. All the money in the world wouldn’t convince people to buy themselves a case of the flu. Or vote for a Democrat, absent some incentive to do so.

  13. Louis Fyne

    for more on blue lapis lazily, find “Blue, a history of three colours” on YouTube (presented by James Fox, a Cambridge? art historian who looks like Fox Mulder)

    I took an art history class at my fancy pants college and I think lapis lazily got a mere one-line mention

    Learning about it/the technical side of making pigments gives a whole new appreciation of renaissance art.


    1. Louis Fyne

      lol, whoever at the musee d’orsay organized the blue exhibition must have been directly inspired by James Fox.

      Klein, Giotto, etc. all covered in Fox’s documentary

      1. furies

        Just tangentially associated with that article

        I recently took part in a series of watercolor classes. Started out with very basic stuff such as creating a color wheel. I noticed that my mixes were ‘muddy’ using the standard blue, yellow, red triad.

        After a lot of research, I hit the cure to my muddy problems.

        It’s not BLUE, it’s CYAN. (see your printer ink cartridges) But this is not taught in any art school I’ve attended…


        There’s folks out there mixing their own paints using the information from the Dyer’s Guild…works for me as I do a lot of dyeing of fibers, too. I love it that all the hues are numbered.

  14. Bsoder

    Why wouldn’t an industrial or environmental engineer? I’m fine with Gaian Theory, – as a complex homeostatic system. The truth been said here many ties before, the real costs of doing anything aren’t not on anyone’s books, certainly not liabilities. Seems like the cost of most cancers are our dna interacts with the physical world is something that should be an all those that chemicals.

  15. worm wood

    Bernie took as his starting point that any president is going to face determined opposition from the ruling class and that mass mobilization from below is the only way to overcome that opposition.

    But such a mass mobilization from below must also be focused on the specific institutional interests that make up that opposition. Even if the Sanders movement succeeded in winning an electoral majority it would still face tremendous obstacles in implementing campaign promises. Much of the apparatus of the state as well as its governing ideas would not be under the control of the Sanders movement, especially in the military, the intelligence agencies and the Federal Reserve.

  16. lb

    So wait a second. The traditional ratchet-down after GOP deficit spending over the past two decades has always been when Democrats proclaim that deficits matter and that they’re the good Austerians. McConnell just went the other way here and let the GOP be explicit debt scolds. A lot of people think in a weirdly binary way about the two parties: if one party says something, negating this premise is fair game by the others.

    What’s to stop the left flank of the Democratic party from hammering on this? “The GOP just rammed through $5 trillion in deficit spending for rich people. This scale of spending CAN be done — as Dick Cheney said, `Reagan proved deficits don’t matter’. It’s a matter of what you spend it on. Now Mitch McConnell wants to tell us we can’t spend because rich megacorps got theirs. Well, guess what? We propose spending $5 Trillion on direct money to the people + …” The nice thing here is that this framing would force Schumer and Pelosi to either agree with Mitch McConnell’s position in the open, or to squirm…

    Is this not an opening to wedge MMT-based positions on funding for social good into daily political discourse?

    1. flora

      Much of this economic crisis is a policy choice.

      From the last part of J.W.Mason’s blog post, under the para heading “The opportunity to be lazy”:

      “The opportunity to be lazy. This fascinating review of a book on the plague in 17th century Florence quotes a wealthy Florentine who opposed the city’s policy of delivering food to those under quarantine, because “it would give [the poor] the opportunity to be lazy and lose the desire to work, having for forty days been provided abundantly for all their needs.” It’s striking how widespread similar worries are today among our own elite. It seems like one of the deepest lessons of the crisis is that a system organized around the threat of withholding people’s subsistence will deeply resist measures to guarantee it,even when particular circumstances make that necessary for the survival of the system itself. ” (my emphasis)


      Yes, Mitch and Chuck are already talking about deficits and the need for austerity… again. “… a system organized around the threat of withholding people’s subsistance…”

      1. lb

        Much of this economic crisis is a policy choice.

        As Pramila Jayapal said, “Mass unemployment is a policy choice. We can and should choose differently.”

        I want more of this, in everyone’s face, constantly. Let the mainstream feckless Democratic Party enablers of the neoliberal status quo try to get out from under the above statement. Force their hands in an election year. Use all the deficit spending done in the name of something big since WWII as examples of the sky not falling, and highlight the good and bad choices of targets for the money. Connect the dots on historic precedent and how big spending worked in other eras.

        Make the GOP and the establishment Democrats stake out positions on this (inconvenient in an election year perhaps) and show that they’re choosing to forsake the broad public. We know they’ll be recalcitrant. There’s power in choosing the issues and framing of them that make their way into public discourse.

        There’s a space for this and more, with people questioning the world around them, hungry, afraid and angry. This space would be better filled by someone offering help and socially constructive ideas than the alternative(s)…

      2. The Rev Kev

        I have no idea how this is going to play out in America. What has happened is horrific and to see the middle classes and workers crushed by this pandemic is bad enough. But to say that austerity has to be imposed because of the trillions given the 1% and that money has to be paid back from somewhere will put on an intolerable load for an America trying to get back on its feet again.

        Will small business be able to start up again if a raft of new taxes are imposed as part of this austerity package? Will the Dems & Repubs get their dream realized and sell off Social Security & Medicare to Wall Street for “more efficiency”? Will public education be totally privatized). Will the National Parks be entirely be privatized (“Yellowstoneland” anybody?).

        Trump will be blamed but he will only be putting his signature to something that both parties organized. How does this end? I can only see it ending in a long spate of political assassinations not seen since the 1960s. Nothing less will make the politicians change their course. The initial reply would be a police lockdown and mass security operations but I suspect that this would ramp up tensions even worse. It won’t end well until something radically changes.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > How does this end? I

          I think the properly vague yet suggestive code word to classify what you describe is “kinetic.” And yes, I agree.

          “Debts that can’t be paid won’t be,” but we rarely ask how the “won’t be” actually plays out on the ground….

    2. Tom Doak

      What left flank?

      They aren’t going to get any attention from the mainstream media for what you propose. Instead, they would get scolded at great length by Pelosi for requiring an on-the-record position on the matter that could be used against the “moderates” in an election.

      1. ambrit

        True. This will result in a “real” Left flank, which sees the futility of working within the system and will begin to use ‘kinetic’ expidents to tear a lot of the extant system down. This will be simply the Left adopting some of the Neo-liberal playbook. “Creative disruption” and “innovation” are already words to conjure with in the business community. Just add “kinetic” to the mix.
        When people have nothing left to lose….

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Is this not an opening to wedge MMT-based positions on funding for social good into daily political discourse?

      It is. Rashida Tlaib is explicitly doing MMT when she advocates #MintTheCoin, so #MMT has finally penetrated the electeds.

      But I think Nancy’s keeping The Coins in her freezer.

  17. TiPs

    Didn’t see a link for the oil storage discussion. It mentions the scramble for storage “despite the crash in oil prices.” As I’m sure most know here, what matters in the storage trade is the extent of contango–the price difference between the spot price or near month contract and the next month. Currently, the July contract is trading at a $7 premium over the June contract. If you can rent a supertanker for $150,000 that holds 2 million barrels, that works out to a monthly storage cost of $2.25, so the profit from the storage trade is still $4.25 per barrel. That’s a lot of dough….

  18. chuck roast

    Bernie? Bernie? Bernie link.

    Ben Stein! OMG! Ben Stein has not been seen (at least by me) in years. He was infamous for his TV opining on economic matters. He always seemed to show at precisely the moment when a bit of mis-direction was needed or when the boot on the neck of the working class required an extra ooommph. Almost invariably he would garnish his bad advice and worse economics by saying, “My father was an economist,” thereby lending himself legitimacy. His old man was an acolyte of Milton Friedman and an economist of a sort…he was an early AEI “Senior” Fellow. Are there any “Junior” Fellows out there? This is what is meant by bad acid flashback.

  19. lyman alpha blob

    ‘She’s ruthlessly confident, wildly charismatic, and an example of the kind of disruptor we need right now in politics. There have always been these characters in American politics and they’ve always been men…

    You mention Nina Turner which is a good one. I thought of another who was before my time so I can’t speak to how charismatic she was, but as the first black woman in Congress, first black candidate for pres, etc, etc I’m guessing Shirley Chisolm also upset a few apple carts.

    Also, pretty sure man-bashing and moar IdPol isn’t the way to go if you want to actually, you know….win.

    But this is the Democrat party we’re talking about, where competence goes to die.

    1. HotFlash

      where competence goes to die — should be, where competence is killed

      and from yesterday (can’t recall who) where leftists go to die — should be, where leftists go to be killed.

  20. Oregoncharles

    ““Biden’s Incoherent, China-Bashing Attack on Trump””
    Wouldn’t really want to be President at his age or in his condition, now would he? (Escapes me completely why Trump would – but he seems considerably more vigorous.)

    It’s still the Republicans’ turn, and Mr. Biden’s job is to lose.

  21. Oregoncharles

    “President Trump: “What happens if you’re in a war and you have a supply chain where half of your supplies are given to you by other countries? Who are the people that thought of this? These are globalists — it doesn’t work.” ”

    I hate it when Trump is right. Trouble is, he’s hardly acted on this insight. Maybe he can blame that on the Dems. He did block US participation in the TPP – what about the European one? Haven’t heard, so maybe that one, too. But his rework of NAFTA was pretty minimal, and he’s done nothing coherent about the very dependency on China that he’s complaining about. A few tariffs aren’t going to cut it.

    Of course, with Biden we go right back to right-wing globalism (but I doubt that’s likely.)

    1. gc54

      You have to take the good with the bad. Obviously despite the longing of DC scum to play Risk (TM) to bloat their MIC stocks and insider trades, we can’t go to war against China while that country supplies critical bits in everything in their windup soldier toys except batteries. Oops, they have a lock on those too. So, there’s that …

  22. The Rev Kev

    Wait a moment. Wait a moment. I was just listening to that David Sirota interview. Was this guy the jacka** that advised Bernie to let the DNC to set all the rules or else he would end up like Ralph Nadar? Seriously? if Bernie works in Washington and he wants to keep his “friends” then he should have listened to that axiom and gotten himself a dog. You want to know the worse thing for Bernie? One day, someone is going to write a biography on him and the 2020 campaign & it will be called something like “Bernie Sanders: The Man That Broke America’s Heart.”

    1. Tangled up in Texas

      Agreed. He broke my heart. Twice.

      Bernie folded as I expected, but now there is no one talking about single payer health care or climate change, among other things. This lack of acknowledgement of these issues makes me feel hopeless – that things will never change.

      If we as a people aren’t talking about this in the U.S., keeping it front and center, it feels like nothing will ever change or can ever change.

      How can one person affect change? I don’t think it is possible. It is going to require vast numbers of people gathered as one – all intent on creating change – to see the change that we need in this country and in this world.

      Where is the leader that can help us organize around these issues and come together as one? I had hoped it would be Bernie…I was hopeful he would act to bring the us together. I was hopeful he would use his folowing to continue the fight after he folded, but I am not seeing it.

      I feel that having allowed myself to believe change was possible, while knowing full well the powers that be will never allow the change we need, was nothing more than wishful thinking on my part.

  23. cm

    wrt the anti-mask post, I cannot recommend highly enough John Barry’s The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History for a detailed history of 1918 Spanish Flu.

    That was FAR more deadly than what we have now, and it targeted young people (15-30) in their prime of life.

    All the prognostication about life changing forever can easily be disproved by looking at society during the 20’s, a mere 5-10 years after the pandemic.

    1. Yves Smith

      No, it was NOT more deadly. Its R0 has been estimated at between 2 and 3, with most estimated clustering around 2.5-2.6. Covid-19 has an off the charts R0 of 5.7.

      The Spanish flu had a case fatality rate estimated at 1.8%. The Chinese CDC, analyzing what then were over 150,000 cases, found the CFR was 3.4%. There’s been a lot of discussion of supposed “asymptomatic cases” but German MDs say they don’t exist (they contend they are all the result of tests picking up other coronavirus antibodies, not Covid-19) and New Zealand has been doing general testing of the population and has similarly found no asymptomatic cases. So the idea that there are a lot of asymptomatic cases, with the implication that the disease is less deadly, is in doubt. Having said that, there is a new paper in China saying that there are multiple strains, and the ones in Europe and possibly NY are more lethal. But since getting other coronaviruses confers max 34 months immunity, and the common ones only six months, there’s no reason to think the spread of the deadlier versions can be contained any time soon.

      1. sd

        The scientist heading testing in Iceland has recently clarified that its tests were picking up asymptomatic cases before the symptoms arrived. All asymptomatic cases eventually developed some level of symptoms.


        Several large media outlets have been stating that one of the findings emerging from Iceland’s coronavirus screening of the general population is that around 50% of individuals infected with the virus have no symptoms. The screenings of the general population have been carried out by Reykjavík-based medical research company deCODE genetics, so Iceland Review asked their CEO Dr. Kári Stefánsson to clear up this assertion.

        Kári stated the claim is an oversimplification. “Fifty per cent of those that test positive in our screenings of the general population are symptom-free at the time. Many of them get symptoms later,” Kári said.

  24. David R Smith

    Consumer! Consumer! I am a goddamn citizen. Je suis citoyen. Soy ciudadano. I’ll drag anyone who calls me a consumer to the pits of hell.

    1. Conrad

      Indeed. We need a thorough rectification of names and a purging of euphemisms before we can get started on fixing the problems that beset us.

  25. dcrane

    So if the Fed can crank out four or six or whatever trillion in new cash for banks and repos, without Congress even twitching, can it create 25 trillion more and erase the national debt?

  26. Xihuitl

    Re the plantidote:

    “Zephyranthes atamasca, Atamasco-lily, Opelika, AL 3-25-2020. Native living happily in my yard.”

    And the lovely wild violets growing all over the place in the background!

  27. arte

    On a completely unrelated topic, it is fascinating – fascinating – to watch the Daily Mail suddenly sing the praises of Sir Keir…



    “Westminster-watchers were quick to praise Sir Keir, a former barrister used to thinking on his feet, compared to Mr Corbyn, whose PMQs performances were often drab and rarely strayed from his written script.”

    Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?

  28. Lulz Street Journal

    Links full of production issues. Not enough workers can gather together. No worries! I’m sure all that automation we’ve been promised/threatened with is just around the corner.

  29. J4Zonian

    From the article:
    “Kentucky, which [HAS] the most spectacularly underwater major pension system in the US. … It is also ironic that New Jersey, with one of the biggest gaps in terms of the dollars involved, is in its sorry state because Republican Governor Christie Todd Whitman chose to starve it, a decision that was widely criticized at the time.”

    I don’t ever want to see that–the confabulated Governor Christie/Whitman. I had enough trouble with [Christine]Todd Whitman and [James] Christie.

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