2:00PM Water Cooler 4/23/2020

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.


“The supposed rush to reshore global supply chains may end up going nowhere. Those expecting large-scale deglobalization and the return of domestic production for many goods might be disappointed, the WSJ’s Mike Bird writes, with reports suggesting that global sourcing remained in full force heading into this year even as the U.S.-China trade war flared. A.T. Kearney said U.S. imports from China fell sharply last year, but imports from other Asian nations rose at the same time. There have been some coronavirus-induced supply-chain shifts as countries have sought to step up production of protective equipment. Japanese consumer-products manufacturer Iris Ohyama says it will take government subsidies to expand the production of masks domestically. That will augment the company’s existing production in China. Without big subsidies or even more punitive trade restrictions, the seemingly fragile spider’s web of global commerce may remain surprisingly resilient.”


“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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Allan Lichtman:

March 27: “Political prophet Allan Lichtman: Trump is more likely to lose because of coronavirus” [Salon]. “Allan Lichtman, a political historian at American University whose book “The Keys to the White House” has helped him correctly predict the last nine presidential elections, told Salon last week the coronavirus pandemic may spell defeat for President Trump in the 2020 election…. Lichtman’s system is based on 13 “keys,” a series of true-or-false statements that anticipate whether the incumbent party’s presidential candidate will be elected in a given year. If six or more of the statements are false, the incumbent candidate will lose; if fewer than six are false, he or she will win.” • So far so good. But:

“There were four keys solidly locked in against the president” prior to the outbreak, Lichtman explained. “It takes six to predict defeat. But this was before [the pandemic]. Key 1: Party mandate. Key 9: Scandal. Key 11: Foreign/military success. Key 12: incumbent charisma. That’s four false keys locked in.”… “The current crisis, which is biological, governmental and societal, puts into jeopardy two additional keys,” Lichtman explained. Those would be “Key 5, the short-term economy — many economists are predicting that we’re going to slide into a recession, or may already be in a recession — and Key 8, the social unrest key. And it makes Key 10, foreign policy or military failure, even more shaky than before.” Lichtman earlier suggested that relations with North Korea and the unstable situation in the Middle East could endanger Key 10 for Trump. If any two of those three keys turn against Trump, he is a predicted failure,” Lichtman said. “If zero or one turn against him, he is a predicted winner. I obviously haven’t made a final call yet, since we don’t know how this crisis will ultimately be resolved or not resolved in the upcoming months.”

True on Key 5. Key 8 is yet to come (and I would imagine it matters where the “unrest” comes from).

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UPDATE Biden (D)(1): “Stacey Abrams signals ‘concern’ if Biden’s VP pick isn’t a woman of color” [Politico]. “In an interview on ABC’s “The View,” host Sunny Hostin asked Abrams, the former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee, if Biden not picking a woman of color would amount to ‘a slap in the face’ to black voters who made up the backbone of his primary support and were critical to his come-from-behind victory in the primary. Abrams, who is black, initially sidestepped that charge, telling Hostin that ‘I think Vice President Biden is going to make a smart choice, and I appreciate the fact that he has lifted up women as being a necessary partner in this.’ Still, she continued, ‘I would share your concern about not picking a woman of color because women of color — particularly black women — are the strongest part of the Democratic Party, the most loyal, but that loyalty isn’t simply how we vote. It’s how we work, and if we want to signal that that work will continue, that we’re going to reach not just to certain segments of our community, but to the entire country, then we need a ticket that reflects the diversity of America.” • Sure, but will that appeal to suburban Republicans?

UPDATE Biden (D)(2): A different theory of change:

UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “Bernie Sanders’s Most Vocal Supporter Lets Loose” (interview) [Briahna Joy Gray, The Atlantic]. Grey: “I’ll be voting for Bernie Sanders in the primary, and I encourage everybody to do so, because that’s where leverage lies. My vote in the fall is contingent on whether Joe Biden supports Medicare for All, canceling student-loan debt, canceling medical debt, having a wealth tax. The message isn’t that I’m never going to vote for Biden. The message is that Biden should do what the majority of Americans want him to do.”

UPDATE Biden (D)(4): “Biden campaign’s selection of preferred super PAC stokes strife in Democratic Party” [WaPo]. “Joe Biden’s campaign signaled to donors this week that Priorities USA would be its main big-money partner for the general election — a move that has alarmed some of Biden’s ardent backers, who fear the campaign has given outsize influence to a super PAC that many donors associate with the party’s loss in 2016…. But some prominent Biden supporters said the decision had alienated outside groups that had formed since 2016 and helped turn out voters for Democratic wins in subsequent elections. One of those groups is Unite the Country, which boosted Biden through the primaries… Among top Democrats pushing the campaign to accept help from a broader constellation of groups is Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), an influential figure whose endorsement was pivotal to Biden’s momentum toward the nomination…. Clyburn is a prominent advocate of Unite the Country, and his daughter is on the group’s board.” • Ka-ching.

Sanders (D)(1):

It’s going to be hard to do Vote By Mail if we don’t have a Post Office.

Sanders (D)(2): The New York State Board of Election’s decision on whether to remove Sanders from the ballot was to be yesterday, has been postponed ’til Monday:

Trump (R)(1): “Harvard to reject $8.7m in federal aid after Trump cites school’s endowment” [Guardian]. “It followed similar actions at Stanford and Princeton universities, which said they, too, will reject millions of dollars in federal funding amid growing scrutiny of wealthy colleges….. But Trump said on Tuesday that Harvard “shouldn’t be taking” its share because it has such deep financial reserves. It echoed concerns from other critics, including some alumni, who said Harvard doesn’t need the money and can rely on its nearly $40bn endowment.” • That should work on the trail.

Trump (R)(2): “Labor Markets in Key Election States Are Among Worst in U.S.” [Bloomberg]. “Labor markets in key presidential battleground states are among the hardest hit by the virus-induced economic crisis, according to an index of state activity released Wednesday…. Workers in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida and Michigan were among the most affected in March. But Wisconsin, another critical state for Trump’s re-election bid, is an exception. Economic activity there saw a slight increase… Other states with big declines — including Colorado, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia — have seen large-scale protests demanding that governors reopen schools and businesses. Trump has backed those protests in states with Democratic governors.” • I suppose it depends on whether Trump takes fire from Democrat blame cannons. We’re lucky Trump calls it “the Wuhan Virus,” instead of “the Manhattan Virus.” Eh?

Trump (R)(3): “Coronavirus is invading Red America, new data show. That’s ominous for Trump.” [Greg Sargent, WaPo]. “A new analysis from demographer William Frey finds that coronavirus is now spreading into whiter and more Republican-leaning areas of the country. Despite initially being concentrated in blue and urban areas, it has slowly extended into new parts of the Midwest and the south, into outer suburbs and small metropolitan areas, and into parts of the country carried by Trump. ‘Coronavirus is becoming more evident in Red America than it was a few weeks ago,’ Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told me in an interview…. Frey noted that some of these new-covid counties are concentrated in places that could matter in the 2020 races, such as the Detroit suburbs, northern Michigan, central Florida and rural Georgia. Others include counties in Colorado and Nevada… The organizers of the anti-lockdown protests have worked to create the impression of a groundswell of populist rage at elites shutting down the economy in parts of the country far less impacted by the virus, to protect heavily impacted areas…. At times these political-geographic fault lines have been made explicit. … Trump himself crudely nodded to this when he mused about quarantining off East Coast blue states, as if to protect virtuous Red America — often described as “Real America” by his propagandists [rich, from WaPo] — from infestation by an export from diseased Blue America.” • Oddly, Sargent frames this as a discussion of “re-opening the economy,” not the election. When this becomes an election issue, I would think the “crudity” would only increase. Maybe Trump will ask Biden to draw an airplane, instead of a clock.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Dems Give Unanimous Consent To Trump” [David Sirota, Too Much Information]. “Why do Democrats want to win Congress if they don’t want to use power? What is the entire point of Democrats raising money and ginning up activist energy to win control of the U.S. House, if when a crisis hits they just pass whatever Mitch McConnell sends them? Is there anything they’ll actually negotiate for? And why won’t they flip the script and force McConnell to vote yes or no on their own agenda?… Until there are new leaders — or until there is real pressure from the left — the Democratic Party seems intent on being a rubber stamp.” • And as Stoller, correctly, points out, that unanimity includes both Sanders and AOC (albeit as part of a voice vote that can’t be disaggregated).

“Jeffrey Sachs on the Catastrophic American Response to the Coronavirus” [Jeffrey Sachs, The New Yorker]. On the one hand:

Nobody here has viewed government as actually very functional for a long time, and not because it couldn’t be. It has been increasingly designed to fail. Specifically, it’s been designed to respond to powerful lobbies that want deregulation or tax cuts or some special privileges rather than to function in a normal way. And powerful people shrug their shoulders at that, because for the élites that’s been O.K., but it obviously hasn’t really been O.K. for a long time. We’ve had rising death rates. We’ve had the deaths of despair. We’ve had the failure to come to grips with climate change. We’ve had widening inequalities and massive suffering. But it hasn’t mattered in such a visible way.

And on the other:

The United States is completely failing at the federal level to control this epidemic. It’s a tragedy. We’re losing tens of thousands of lives unnecessarily because of the shambolic failure of Trump and his team to mobilize the vast resources of our country, both human and material. At the same time, there are poor countries that are doing much, much better at controlling the epidemic. Take a country like Vietnam, which is a low-income country in East Asia, and close to China, but for a variety of reasons they acted very quickly to stop the transmission of the virus, to a much greater extent than we did. They also don’t have the means for mass testing and so on. At least to date, they have been able to keep the epidemic more under control through public-health means, which is identifying potentially sick people, helping them to isolate, tracing their contacts, helping those people to isolate, and so on.

The question nobody is asking: Does the United States have the operational capability to mobilize, no matter the party in charge? I know that for some this may verge on nihilism, but the alternative to Trump is not a heroic team from America’s past of the New Deal, World War II, or the Apollo program, but whatever team the Democrat Party would put in place. Is “leadership” that will chivvy or wrangle a corrupt and sclerotic system into an acceptable response really the answer — unless the leader be a Robespierre, a Lenin, or even an FDR, clearly not on offer? Anywhere other than the Business Section if airport bookstores? What would the Democrat team that replaced Trump’s team look like? Would Donna Shalala be on it? How about the team that ran Clinton’s campaign? Or the team that launched the ObamaCare marketplace website without testing it? Or the team that ran HAMP? Or the team that ran Obama’s pathetically inadequate response to the Crash, which lost them the Senate and paved the way for Trump? And if such a team existed, would it not have already come together to pose a coherent alternative? And I don’t mean Op-Eds (ka-ching) or NGO white papers (ka-ching) or campaign statements (ka-ching), I mean an actual team of qualified individuals presenting an alternative plan and a timeline, with the full weight of the Democrat Party behind it. So we’re not a Parliamentary system and we don’t have a shadow government as the Brits do. Sue me.

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please contact me at the email address below.

Employment Situation: “18 April 2020 Initial Unemployment Claims 4,427,000 This Week” [Econintersect]. “[E]xpectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 3000 K to 4545 K (consensus 4,000 K), and the Department of Labor reported 4,427,000 new claims. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 5,506,500 (reported last week as 5,508,500) to 5,786,500… The pandemic has so far caused a 26,453,000 job loss. Claim levels before the coronavirus pandemic were at 40-year lows.” • That seems like rather a lot.

Employment Situation: “Millions of workers who applied for jobless benefits due to coronavirus still not getting money” [MarketWatch]. “In the seven days ended April 11, the number of people who filed initial jobless claims since the viral outbreak shut down large parts of the economy soared by 20 million in raw or actual numbers though seasonally adjusted figures are several million higher still. Of those new applications, about 14 million have been approved for benefits based on data from the U.S. Labor Department known as continuing claims. They are reported one-week behind the latest government estimate of new jobless claims…. It will probably take another month or so to determine just how many people have actually been rejected for benefits once the torrent of new claims recedes. Many states have fallen behind in processing the rush of new claims as they grapple with outdated computer systems and new eligibility standards….. ‘State unemployment offices are not set up to handle this sort of volume of claims coming through all at once, especially after a multi-year period where claims were at their lowest levels in decades,’ said Thomas Simons, money market economist at Jefferies.”

Employment Situation: “GOP Governors Will Push Workers off Unemployment by Reopening Early” [Vice]. “Republican governors in states like Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina have announced plans to begin reopening their states’ economies despite warnings by health officials that it’s too early to do so. The decisions mean that businesses may soon start calling people back into work before they feel safe, creating a coronavirus-specific dilemma: If people in those states are offered their jobs back, but refuse to take them out of fear for their safety, they will likely no longer qualify for unemployment benefits—even though they’re taking the same precautions as people one state over.” • Nice!

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Commodities: “[Kimberly-Clark] is overhauling its massive toilet-paper operations to meet the soaring demand fueled by the coronavirus pandemic… in a move aimed at the highest-profile item consumers have been stockpiling under the increasingly testy lockdown restrictions” [Wall Street Journal]. “The move to get more bathroom tissue to homes is part of the broader and often difficult shift in supply chains to meet the market upheaval. Toilet paper is one of the many consumer products moving in two separate channels, with production aimed at businesses distinct from goods marketed in stores. Kimberly-Clark says it is now retooling its manufacturing to make more consumer-quality products, including sourcing higher-grade pulp.”

The Bezzle: “Is this the end of Airbnb?” [Wired UK]. “Hosts are calling it the Airbnb apocalypse. But it’s more akin to an enema. Airbnb maintains that it’s ‘powered by local hosts’, but the reality is quite different. Yes, there are many hosts on Airbnb who live in the properties they list on the platform. But, in many markets, including the entire of the United States, the number of ‘professional’ hosts seemingly outnumbers those listing on Airbnb to earn a bit of extra cash from their cosy spare room. According GlobalData, an analytics firm, Airbnb could lose a ‘significant portion’ of its host community as a result of the pandemic. These ‘professional’ hosts, the scourge of local residents and housing officials, could soon be flushed out of Airbnb in their thousands.” • What a shame it would be if a regulatory arbitrage play didn’t work.

The Bezzle: “Airbnb Is Banking on a Post-Pandemic Travel Boom” [Bloomberg]. “When guests demanded to be let out of their reservations, [Airbnb Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky] hesitated but eventually complied, ordering hosts to distribute refunds. That placated guests, but it enraged hosts, who complained the new policy would cause them to default on their mortgages. Chesky responded by creating a $250 million fund to help reimburse them. Not all hosts were satisfied by the gesture, which gives them a small fraction of what they would have originally made and does nothing to address the underlying issue: how the company will find customers willing to stay in other people’s homes after all this.” • After #COVID19, why would anybody want to say in lodgings that weren’t professionally cleaned?

Tech: “Apple Aims to Sell Macs With Its Own Chips Starting in 2021” [Bloomberg]. “Despite a unified chip design, Macs will still run the macOS operating system, rather than the iOS software of the iPhone and iPad.” • Thank God. iOS isn’t suitable for a productivity tool. More: “Apple is exploring tools that will ensure apps developed for older Intel-based Macs still work on the new machines.” • Oh, good.

Supply chain: “Efforts to ramp up coronavirus testing programs in various states are running up against a thicket of parts shortages across medical supply chains. The private sector hasn’t been able to deliver nearly enough tests to meet the huge demand in the U.S…. more than six weeks after the Food and Drug Administration allowed private companies to manufacture test kits and use them without needing approval” [Wall Street Journal]. “Experts say the problems are partly because of the lack of central direction, leaving officials in states to sort out procurement and distribution while individual labs are vying for supplies in a fractured and exhausted marketplace. One marquee effort involving Abbott Laboratories quickly ran into the supply-chain issues that have plagued the testing buildup, with state officials saying they couldn’t easily obtain enough of Abbott’s single-use cartridges to actually test patients.” • I have seen

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 40 Fear (previous close: 41 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 42 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 23 at 2:59pm.

The Biosphere

“USGS releases first-ever comprehensive geologic map of the Moon” [Phys.org]. “The lunar map, called the “Unified Geologic Map of the Moon,” will serve as the definitive blueprint of the moon’s surface geology for future human missions and will be invaluable for the international scientific community, educators and the public-at-large. The digital map is available online now and shows the moon’s geology in incredible detail (1:5,000,000 scale).” • Here it is:

Health Care

“Hydroxychloroquine sparks renewed controversy but clinical trials are pushing ahead” [MarlketWatch]. I hate this whole controversy, partly because a potential treatment is now subject to our tribal politics, and partly because feeding The World’s Greatest Troll™ is good only for generating clicks. For what it’s worth, here is what Trump actually said:

“I hope it works,” Trump said April 8 during a news conference. Five days later, he said, “just recently a friend of mine told me he got better because of the use of that drug. So, who knows? And you combine it with Z-Pak, you combine it with zinc depending on your doctor’s recommendation, and he’s having some very good results. I’ll tell you, I think if anybody recommended it other than me, it would be used all over the place…a lot of good things are happening with it, a lot of good tests.”

Trump’s incorrigible puffery and its subsequent profitable amplification aside, any studies that don’t use that protocol (i.e., don’t combine hydroxychloroquine with Z-Pak and zinc) aren’t on point. (Trump even caveats “doctor’s recommendation” so all the “ZOMG!!!!! Dosage!!!! hysteria is off point, too). That said:

[A] number of clinical trials are under way in the U.S. to evaluate the drug’s safety and efficacy in COVID-19 patients, including a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study announced this week by Novartis NVS, +0.35%, one of the world’s largest drugmakers…. In total, there are more than 100 trials under way worldwide evaluating chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients or to prevent COVID-19 infections, according to ClinicalTrials.gov, including at least one sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Needless to say, we should all be praying (or rooting for) for the success of these trials, even if Orange Man Bad, not least because hydroxychloroquine is cheap and off-patent ffs.

“A mysterious blood-clotting complication is killing coronavirus patients” [CNN]. “A Dutch study published April 10 in the journal Thrombosis Research provided more evidence the issue is widespread, finding that among 184 COVID-19 patients in an intensive care unit, 38% had blood that clotted abnormally. The researchers called it “a conservative estimation” because many of the patients were still hospitalized and at risk of further complications…. While acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, still appears to be the leading cause of death in COVID-19 patients, blood complications are not far behind, said Behnood Bikdeli, a fourth-year-fellow at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, who helped anchor a paper about the blood clots in the Journal of The American College of Cardiology.” • CNN seems to be pushing this blood clotting issue, for what that’s worth. So I put this out there, and will await the clinical research….

“Covid-19 causes sudden strokes in young adults, doctors say” [CNN]. “Dr. Thomas Oxley, a neurosurgeon at Mount Sinai Health System in New York, and colleagues gave details of five people they treated. All were under the age of 50, and all had either mild symptoms of Covid-19 infection or no symptoms at all. ‘The virus seems to be causing increased clotting in the large arteries, leading to severe stroke,” Oxley told CNN. ‘Our report shows a seven-fold increase in incidence of sudden stroke in young patients during the past two weeks. Most of these patients have no past medical history and were at home with either mild symptoms (or in two cases, no symptoms) of Covid,’ he added. ‘All tested positive. Two of them delayed calling an ambulance.’ Other doctors have also reported that people are reluctant to call 911 or go to emergency rooms because of the pandemic. It is not common for people so young to have strokes, especially strokes in the large vessels in the brain.” • They’re reluctant to call the ambulance because they don’t have any, and they’re reluctant to go to the ER because they don’t want to be slapped with an enormous surprise bill for out-of-network services.


“$1 Billion Video-Game Coaching Business Ramps Up During Lockdown” [Bloomberg]. “Video-game competitors in search of a tuneup need not worry. There is no shortage of coaches standing by online ready to tweak their virtual shooting form. Between December and March, as a growing number of businesses and schools shut down across the country, the amount of time people spent playing popular shooter games nearly doubled, according to researcher Newzoo. Now, with gameplay on the rise, so too are the billable hours of video-game gurus. Fiverr.com, an online marketplace, saw a 43% jump in the number of video-game coaching sessions booked between January and March. According to the company, instruction geared towards Fortnite and Rainbow Six Siege was especially popular.” • Not my world, but if any of you out there aspire to be a games coach, now is the time!

“Tales From The Dork Web #7” [The Dork Web]. “A whole subculture of computer Role Playing Games is out there on The Dork Web. These games don’t need high end graphics cards. In fact the graphics are often downright crude. What they lose in graphics they make up for in gameplay and depth. For those who’ve never tried Roguelike games I’ll show you where to start. If like me, you’ve played a few, there’s a few games here you might want to try…. The term ‘Roguelike’ is used as a catchall term for games that share aspects with an RPG game called Rogue. You might think that the game Rogue was the first Roguelike. This isn’t strictly true. The name stuck during Usenet discussions on games like NetHack, Rogue, and Angband. The definition of roguelike was officially set at a 2008 Conference in Berlin. Of course not everyone agrees. The Rogue Temple discusses the term’s history in depth.” • Excellent subhead: “Where we’re going, we don’t need GPUs.” America! F*** Yeah!

Guillotine Watch

“People Are Finally Starting to See the Real Ellen DeGeneres and It Isn’t Pretty” [Daily Beast]. “And in a timely moment of worker outcry, the latest DeGeneres PR crash has come from her very own crew, who have been replaced by a non-union outfit that is running tech for DeGeneres’ at-home broadcast. Crew members spoke anonymously to Variety about the poor communication and shady side-dealing they’ve experienced as Ellen has shifted from studio broadcast to a more intimate lockdown-friendly format. Even though the unionized Ellen crew has the chops to transition to the at-home broadcasts, DeGeneres’ team made the decision to hire from outside, and are even planning to cut pay by 60 percent for the regular crew, who have already experienced reduced hours.” • But wait. I thought DeGeneres was part of the #Resistance?

“My Husband and I Want to Have Another Baby. The Pandemic Has Disrupted Our Plans” [Time]. “I acknowledge that having children five years apart rather than three—if we are fortunate enough to have another—is, in the greater context of today’s crisis, a privileged problem to have. Still, I am giving myself space to feel the loss of the family life that I had envisioned.”

News of the Wired

“The Pandemic Financial Terms You Should Know Right Now” [Bloomberg]. For example: “Forbearance: If you lose the battle to invoke force majeure, you can ask for forbearance, which is when a lender agrees to go easy on an overdue borrower. The lender isn’t just being nice; in a crisis like this, it has no interest in forcing thousands of borrowers into bankruptcy and assuming ownership of their devalued houses and cars. Even the Federal Reserve is urging lenders to be “responsive to the needs of low- and moderate-income individuals, small businesses, and small farms affected by Covid-19 consistent with safe and sound banking practices.”

“The reason Zoom calls drain your energy” [BBC]. “Being on a video call requires more focus than a face-to-face chat, says Petriglieri. Video chats mean we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language; paying more attention to these consumes a lot of energy. “Our minds are together when our bodies feel we’re not. That dissonance, which causes people to have conflicting feelings, is exhausting. You cannot relax into the conversation naturally,” he says. Delays on phone or conferencing systems of 1.2 seconds made people perceive the responder as less friendly or focused. Silence is another challenge, he adds. ‘Silence creates a natural rhythm in a real-life conversation. However, when it happens in a video call, you became anxious about the technology.’ It also makes people uncomfortable. One 2014 study by German academics showed that delays on phone or conferencing systems shaped our views of people negatively: even delays of 1.2 seconds made people perceive the responder as less friendly or focused. An added factor, says Shuffler, is that if we are physically on camera, we are very aware of being watched. ”

UPDATE The Juggalos set the baseline:

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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 (Carla):

Carla writes: “NE Ohio, first week of March 2020. First flowers of spring here: winter aconite.” Again, my favorite mulch.

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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. Katniss Everdeen

      I have taken to watching Rising at 10:30 a.m. EST weekday mornings. They “keep an eye” on uncle joe’s basement video offerings. (Today they showed him “interviewing” al gore.) If I didn’t see these productions on Rising, I wouldn’t even know they existed.

      Who is it that watches these things other than to make fun of them, and how does anyone even know to look for them?

      1. JBird4049

        They’re probably for the fanatics out there. The true believers who truly believe that the BernieBros™
        prevented the Inevitable One from Her Rightful Place in the Firmament.

        1. Dirk77

          I see no criterion of Lichtman that considers whether the _second_ party wants to win at all. So it’s possible he will be wrong this time.

  1. dcblogger

    Ellen DeGeneres crossed the picket line during the writers strike. So no, this latest does not surprise me.

    1. russell1200

      I think it was her hanging out with George W. at a Dallas Cowboys game that got people to start paying attenion.

    2. Bsoder

      My Dad was a producer & executive producer, and had told almost every time he sees a picture of her that she is (based on his experience) the worlds most unappealing person, it that she was never helped anyone without getting bad to do. Never heard him say this about anyone else. Who knows, I can’t stand her show or her.

    1. bob mcmanus

      FWiW, I have had a roguelike, Moria then Angband, on my desktop since maybe 1995. I never got into the variants. I am currently running half-trolls and hobbit rogues. I also have never ever gotten more then halfway down the dungeon. It is kinda like shopping with a sword.

      I think the key is psychological. These games aren’t random they are probabilistic, meaning your character can, umm will, level up and still meet that mature dragon on level 10. And die instantly. Or, having spent 50 hours building up your powerful 20th level mage meet an ancient dragon on level 30. And die with no revival.

      The balancing is brilliant and tweaked constantly by legions of fans. You are always always overmatched, and your warrior will kill thirty direwolves and get confidant and cocky and turn a corner and you have to look up what killed you. But played well you can almost always escape.

      IOW, however good you are or get, the key to these games…is running away from fights. That can be forgotten after 30 hours of killing monsters. Teaches humility and patience for me.

      I am also still playing RR Tycoon and Space Empires IV.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I am not a gamer but I find games fascinating. What makes a good game and why? That is a billion dollar question. More money went into gaming than the movies. Why?

        Many recent games seem locked in the past. Are there no advances? With all the computing power available to home gamers and hoards of money flowing to gaming companies … Rogue? Rogue a flash from the past is the hot rock for gamers? What is going on!!!!! Where are and what are the NEW games the future GAMES that will carry this Industry? Has the gaming industry fallen to the disease of Neoliberalism like everything else in our diseased “society”?

        1. HotFlash

          Hi Jeremy,

          Here is my take and YMMV. The early games were so special b/c content and the designers (innate) understanding of how humans learn. I cite simple early games like Commander Keen, all the Wizardry stuff, Castle Wolfenstein, and even Fairy Godmother. The early game designers understood how much you had to learn by doing, the pace, and how often you had to be rewarded. My BFF maintains a site dedicated to Old Games. I find that the new games, like the new movies, are all special effects and no story.

          I remember my Mom telling me back in the 60’s that she could tell whether her memory of a show was radio or television. If it was in colour, it must have been radio. I feel that way about Kroz and Zork. “You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door…”

        2. Paradan

          Game development suffers from the same neoliberal curse as everything else. Management sucks, extremely long work days, no respect for the people who do the actual work. Most dev teams get paid the same regardless of the games success. Often times they are fired the same week its released.
          Its usually a 3-5 year investment of 50-250 million dollars. A hit game though has a huge payoff, so to lower the risk they basically just remake what worked before. Indy games try to innovate, but without millions thrown into marketing, they get lost in crowd. Not sure the actual number but there’s maybe 10-20 games released everyday, 3-5 of them are actual attempts at a good game. The rest are clones and unfinished crap that try and make a quick buck off of cover art and hype.

        3. cm

          Indie games are where its at. Check out Stardew Valley — a best selling game made by just one person.

          For at least a decade there’s been a gigantic lack of creativity in the game industry — like Hollywood, large companies are too scared to innovate. One has to look to the independents for innovation.

        4. Jeremy Grimm

          Thank you for all your insights. Games and how each person responds to them seem to reveal a lot about the human mind, although I will need to think more about what they reveal. Just a weird thought — I remember how my daughter’s pet rats seemed to enjoy playing little games with her. I also heard stories about a nephew’s pet ferret playing pranks of various sorts. Games and play seem a deep part of mind.

      2. Isotope_C14

        Kindred spirit. Last thing I expected to see here is Moria/Angband.

        If you got the time, give Path of Exile a try. You can find me there when I’m not in the lab working now on the cardiac/xovid connection.

        I have the same user name there as here, can’t remember if I have an underscore or not. Guild is Hate Dice.

    2. cm

      Even simpler, just download the game from nethack.org — I’ve been playing for over 20 years…

    3. Jack Parsons

      Ha! I played Rogue a lot when the original authors were testing it at UC Santa Cruz in 1980.

      Story: a version had a bug where sometimes it would start with a magic game that was basically infinitely winnable. A setup was created which would start the game over and over again until you got a “magic session”, and let someone take it over when they found one. The problem was: the game ran on a single campus-wide computer that was shared by a few hundred people doing this! The system operator cruised by and asked “what the hell are you kids doing to my computer?”.

  2. MillenialSocialist

    Ellen DeGeneres is the perfect encapsulation of Neoliberalism:
    Smiley diverse face of a rich person who is slightly left of center on social issues in the best of times…
    While being a brutally cutthroat capitalist at all times and counting on “smiley diverse face” to carry the day

    1. Off The Street

      How much would Ellen spend per week on her home show? Say, for discussion, $500,000 or maybe a million on non-Ellen labor, equipment rental and what-not. She can expense a lot, including some charge-back for renting out some of her house studio, so what is her after-tax cost?

      Now compare that to the cost of her credibility, or as a write-down on her brand equity or present value of her influencer social media or whatever.

      At the end of the show, what did she spend? And how much did she save scabbing out? Put that in dollars and cents terms so the average viewer can savor that steaming cup of [family blog].

      1. Pat

        I don’t think Ellen cares. I only watch it a couple of times a year. She has been meaner and snarkier and darker more and more every year. There was always something not very nice about the games she loves, but now you see it more in other ways. She is and has been over the talk show for a while. The loss of her ‘nice girl’ image only matters if it effects her other business interests.

        1. rl

          She has been meaner and snarkier and darker more and more every year.

          Yes, this is what has unsettled me (and I use that word with all sincerity) as an intermittent observer of her show when visiting my elderly mother, who has watched Ellen in her various broadcast incarnations since the 90s.

          The “funny” mean-spiritedness of the current show is not really even classifiable with so-called schadenfreude, which usually at least attempts to pass itself off as clever/witty. Ellen’s “games” are about as blunt as the proverbial little boy smashing doll houses.

          My mother, who has always been somewhat callous but has become more prone to giggling fits of sadistic glee in recent years, laughs along with the audience, yet hastens to change the subject when probed on it. A signature move in our culture, where social sadism reigns more or less supreme but must never be acknowledged as such.

          (rl sighs)

      2. Reader

        Her worshipers, I mean fans, don’t care either. The ones I know are PMC types who only care about ID politics and competing for virtue-signaling points.

        1. No it was not, apparently

          I always believed her screen name (or “artist name”) was supposed to be a wordplay on “degenerate,” as some sort of a IDpol protest against mainstream society rejecting homosexual women.

          It turn’s out (Wikipedia), that it’s just her real name.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Seen her on daytime TV in bits and pieces where she has gone neocon so this does not surprise me. The thing about Coronavirus is that it is like a mass undressing and you get to see people for who they are. Cenk from TYT recently was fighting to stop his workforce unionising. Ellen is hiring scab labour and reducing the wages for her regular work team. Bernie is fund raising for the Democratic party. Congress bails out the 1% and does a runner for their bunkers for three weeks. Governors want to throw their workers unprotected into the middle of a world-wide pandemic as business owners want their workers back. The list goes on. In any working system the people who make it up have to buy into it or else it will not work. What happens to a system where over the next year or two about 80% discover that the system does not work for them and won’t listen to any arguments for change or adaption?

        1. The Rev Kev

          Saw her a coupla times and she was all ra-ra for the troops. Remember Phil Donahue? After decades on-air they sacked him in 2003 because he opposed the Iraq invasion. And he was not the only one that met this fate for opposing never-ending wars. Ellen will never do this and so will always have a show if she keeps doing feel-good shows featuring the troops.

          1. John

            Got it. Not hard to imagine.

            There should have been way, way more outrage about her and Baby Bush. But the people in this country have the memory of gnats.

      1. ambrit

        I am looking for, not hoping for, the rise of a true Demagogue in America. An American Mussolini with an Ernst Rohm-esque sidekick. The situation is now ripe for exploitation. (Indeed, the present situation is an object lesson in the exploitation of the system for personal financial gain.)

  3. zagonostra

    >Letter to the Government by Ticked Off Vic

    On The Rising this morning and they had a brief clip from someone called Vic Dibitetto. I never heard of this guy but I know guys like him. They are the no-bullshit, tell-it-as-you-see-it, no holds-barred, and batten-down-the-hatches type that curse and let spittle and invective fly in equal measure on their subject, in this case the government handling of COVID.

    The antitheses and antidote for the Pelosi-ice-cream-eating, sweater- wearing “celebrity” interview I recently watched.


    1. Mark Gisleson

      I am amazed that has not gone more viral. Sincere, genuine foaming at the mouth anger well expressed and totally not suitable for work or family viewing.

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          If you were Bloomberg rich you’d do everything you could to suppress populist anger so you don’t end up in the town square with your head under a blade

    2. Alfred

      I’ve watched it three times now. I’d peg it as the most compelling documentary I’ve see in years, maybe decades. It suggests that our high officials in DC (but not only there!) must know exactly why they go about their business not in public buildings any more but in fortified strongholds secured by armed guards. For they must realize that Vic is not an extreme outlier, but rather more of a median exemplar. Indeed he tells them point blank that neither he, nor anyone like him, can be bought off by their $1200 mess of pottage. The high officials must know that neither they nor their funders could even begin to answer his common-sense questions, or to counter his points; they could not even pretend to speak as honestly as he does – at length, and without a teleprompter! His vid is therefore just as sad as it is disturbing. Certainly a must-watch.

    3. David R Smith

      I started saying the same thing about forbearance around March 15. But I’m not sure what he’s going on about. I’ve got my commercial loan there, and my residential lender yesterday told me it’s really no big deal. I got in deferral over the phone a couple weeks ago, and now I just need to go to their website and attest that I’ve suffered financial losses because of COVID, and move it to forbearance.

  4. flora

    re: Jeff Sachs quote:

    Nobody here has viewed government as actually very functional for a long time, and not because it couldn’t be. It has been increasingly designed to fail. Specifically, it’s been designed to respond to powerful lobbies that want deregulation or tax cuts or some special privileges rather than to function in a normal way. And powerful people shrug their shoulders at that, because for the élites that’s been O.K., but it obviously hasn’t really been O.K. for a long time. ….

    This is exactly how Milton Friedman and his Chicago School economists, and both parties’ neoliberal politicians for the last 40 years have designed it to “work”, (or not work).

    Thanks for the quote.

    1. Ranger Rick

      I was discussing this the other day with a much more cynical person fluent in political science. I was attempting to argue that the government’s primary concern at the moment should be figuring out how to pay people to stay at home (even Yang’s wildest dreams of UBI didn’t cover the eventuality that the entire economy might have to shut down for a few months).

      The response, of course, was short and to the point: what incentive do they have to ensure the system works for anyone else but the elites?

      I pointed out some the consequences of the current responses to the pandemic:
      The end of small businesses and massive unemployment causing demand to vanish.
      A long stay-at-home cooldown period in which labor receives a lesson in how important it is (and how it is treated).
      Billions finding out simultaneously that they cannot count on anyone in power during a crisis.
      And, in the US, following the immigration ban: the agricultural industry experiencing a severe labor shortage immediately prior to spring seasonal activity. (They have something in place for H-2A workers already in the country, I guess.)

      We’re looking at long-term instability on a global scale, with very dangerous precedents. We know from previous Davos reporting that the rich have been anticipating some sort of inimical event ever since the GFC. Is that the sign of a system working for the elites?

      1. flora

        Is that the sign of a system working for the elites?

        At the risk of boring readers by repeating something I posted yesterday, (making it ‘old news’), here’s a snippet from an economist’s recent blog post – I think he’s hit the nail on the head.:

        “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)


        Speaking of the elites crowd, imo….

        1. a different chris

          Yes that quote is so brilliant probably worth posting twice.

          However: we can suck our thumb at whether the “system” described is accurate. If bailing out the needy every once and awhile is just not no way no how part of “the system”, then it fails for the system’s top tier whether it bails them out or if it doesn’t.

          So the urge would then be to (not) do or die. The old dog, new tricks problem*

          *like so many animal comparisons, so completely untrue of actual old dogs but we all know what it means.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            It’s a good thing people do not understand money or as Henry Ford said there would be a revolution overnight.

            The sums are immense, beyond comprehension. The subterfuge and bafflegab is an opaque, alphabet soup of programs (TALF) and terms (“quantative easing”, sounds like I might be pulling a stick out of my eye an inch at a time).

            So the biggest theft in the history of the world slips by unnoticed, $29 *trillion* in 2009 while the bait-and-switch, magician’s misdirection had our Congressional slime molds arguing publicly about the trifling $700B of TARP. Same today, since Sept the Fed has slipped hedge funds and banks a cool $10T, reported where again? LOLOLOL “oversight” LOLOLOL Donna Shalala.

            Waaay past due time for tumbrils and lampposts, during wartime profiteers are lined up and shot. For a reason.

            1. KLG

              I can’t let that go, Dave. Having worked with slime molds as a model system (of human immume cells, for example) that insult was not deserved! They are much smarter than the typical congress critter. At Georgia Tech they have been used to model traffic engineering problems. Find a congress critter that useful ;-) We will wait. Probably forever.

            2. Wellstone's Ghost

              Pam and Russ Martens of Wall Street on Parade have been all over the Fed backstopping of the banks since last September. I find their site very informative and well researched.

        2. flora


          “The sense of responsibility in the financial community for the community as a whole is not small. It is nearly nil.”

          ― John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash of 1929


          The threat to men of great dignity, privilege and pretense is not from the radicals they revile; it is from accepting their own myth. Exposure to reality remains the nemesis of the great — a little understood thing.

          John Kenneth Galbraith

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        in spite of the growing perception to the contrary, Elites are still more or less Human(skin, not scales, etc)…with the same kind of blind spots and knee-jerks as the rest of us.
        but their knee jerks are attached to big pedals that actually do things in the Real World the rest of us live in.
        and They are not Monolithic…there are factions and tribes and ideological cults, all vying with each other for various things that often contradict each other.
        This is a good thing!
        Thank Dog they ain’t monolithic and competent!
        and their Worldview, in aggregate, evolves over time.
        It looks different through their lenses, today…than it did during Reagan…with different shibboleths and “Of Course It’ll Work”-habits and biases.
        This is not to say that there’s no continuity…let alone a broad sense of Class…I think there’s definitely the latter…in fact, they’re currently the only ones allowed to think in class terms.
        and continuity is easily seen…especially with a longer view of history—I like to connect the behaviour and attitudes that Livy describes to our current crop of Worthies, for instance.
        But they be humans, still…and have a set of buttons to push that they prefer, that they will only give up when all else fails, and they discover some new set of buttons.
        The current spectacle of “conservatives” champing at the bit to reopen, before any of the necessary medical science stuff is in place, shows…above anything…that these people are narrow minded, and that those numbers scrolling at the bottom of the screen mean more to them than ten thousand Amfortases.
        This should serve to encourage a bunch of people to reconsider giving these a$$holes the time of day…let alone the levers of power.
        But there’s more to consider…like the monopoly in media and Thought….and the sophisticated mindf&ckery their minions seem capable of.
        Anti-humanism doesn’t sell well with the Proles…and if that anti-humanism gets too blatant, the Proles will revolt(fingers crossed)…so it’s hidden behind layers of obfuscation and confusion and complexity, with a million ways to get one batch of proles to hate on another batch of proles, so that they never, ever look up.
        But the economy screeched to a halt…and those left working…mostly in the service industries…were suddenly elevated by a passel of the Enabling Class into Heroes(organically, without the benefit of Marx, et alia)…this is what’s likely to backfire on the Bosses, and their Enablers.
        People are looking up…at long frelling last…and not much liking what they see.
        But the buttons of the Elite still have functionality

        a day after the antilockdown “protests” erupted, my little town square was busier than it’s been since all this began.
        very discouraging,lol.
        but, on the other hand, the owner of my favorite mom and pop beer, cigs and gas store was coughing up a storm in the back office…when the derned Bug comes a’callin’ out here, that particular Elite Button will be of no use.
        They will try…as all such creatures do…to hang on to power…and to stop time at the precise moment when the conditions of that power are opportune…They believe in their power and worthiness to wield it…they’ve obviously been smoking more and more of their own product for decades.
        The Haze is thick in those bubbles!
        But they are not gods…nor masters of the universe…merely human….
        and eventually, they’ll frell up so badly that their time will be over.
        That’s where we’re heading at this time, I think.
        be ready.

  5. ThomG

    “Warren endorses 20 Democratic women for down-ballot races”

    Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, Omar, Jayapal, and Pressley (who endorsed Warren) are all female democrats up for reelection this year, yet they are conspicuously absent from this list….I don’t think this is all that important, mostly because Warren doesn’t possess as much “political capital” as she thinks. But still revealing nonetheless.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Warren throwing anyone under a bus is not amazing at all. I’m so relieved she came in 3rd in her home state MA primary.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Elizabeth who?

          I wish Biden would just pick her, the two of them can lose, and then we never ever have to hear from either of them ever again.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Biden would never know if Warren would wait a year and then claim that old Joe sexually harnessed her when in a room alone with her. Warren has form doing this as does old Joe for doing this with women of any age. She would be a constantly ticking time bomb.

    1. ALM

      This also goes hand in hand with her latest branding conceit known as Warren Democrats who, as far as I can tell, are bold progressives who “fight, fight, fight” for bold, progressive policies worth fight, fight, fighting for. Whatever those policies are, they sure don’t include Medicare For All even in a pandemic. I receive regular emails from that tiresome group whose numbers are never revealed, probably for a reason.

      The current spectacle of Warren begging for a VP slot on a ticket led by a senile troglodyte credibly accused of rape has got to be among the wokest hypocrisies of all time. She has ruined herself.

  6. Mikel

    RE: Ellen

    “But in the past year, there is evidence emerging that the tinge of mean-spiritedness that comes through in DeGeneres’ interviews and segments on The Ellen DeGeneres Show are consistent with a rumored behind-the-scenes demeanor.”

    Haven’t seen this show. But I have watched some talk show clips on YouTube of various people.
    Without the studio audience/laugh tracks, much of their banter, even if you laugh, makes you wince more.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      FWIW, Ellen as a boss from hell has been an open secret for a pretty long time.

  7. Clive

    Re: COVID-19 Co-morbidity is Hopeless, Incurable Tribalism and Identity Politics

    Yes, I know that wasn’t quite what Lambert wrote in the Trump Trials and Tribulations (medical research edition) section above. But it’s very true. Politics and medical research and COVID-19 reporting are now mutating into a nasty chimera which is Scientifically Proven (TM) to dissolve all known sanity.

    Not sure if this has reached US shore, here in the UK this Twitter meme sums it all up (think it seems to have originated in the US):


    Note that it’s the Google Translate of the Twitterverse and COVID-19 — you can take the stuff in the left-hand side box and translate it into the right-hand side and the stuff in the right-hand side and translate it into the left-hand side depending on your preference (or the fact-ette nugget you want to create).

    Wake me when it’s over, someone, please.

    Unless I’m in a medically-induced coma.

    1. Monty

      Far right rabble rouser Daniel Hannan doesn’t like, “the right” being called out for making heartless pronouncements regarding other people’s viability?

      That’s really shocking news!

      1. a different chris

        Maybe he lost somebody. It has been shown repeatedly that the biggest issue in general with conservatives is the size of their monkey-sphere. Which is why they can be really nice friends who occasionally spout off some weird babble and the rest of us just exchange glances and continue the conversation like it never happened.

        1. HotFlash

          So true! My staunch Libertarian friend is fiercely loyal and generous to his family and friends. He and I agree on many, many issues, but I just have a much broader definition of ‘family and friends’ than he does.

    2. Pat

      I think they are missing a version of the translation.
      “I must get mine. I don’t care if it takes people dying.”

      One assumption in it all is that it won’t be the people making the decision or behind the people making the decision.

      1. Clive

        Yes and in doing so, it makes COVID-19 somehow something metaphysical. Not real. It becomes a theoretical, abstract concept rather than policy choices with real-world causes and effects.

        I’ve always been of the view (as a generalisation) that that which is metaphysical (organised religions, nationalism — or even anti-nationalism — empiricism, totalitarianism, technocracy, fascism and the like) is always a conscious attempt at dividing the working class. They are things you are forced to react to. You end up being “for” or “against”.

        To see the management of the response to COVID-19 (note I am referring to the response to it, not the virus itself; viruses have no agency) become something which is, as an observable fact, pitting some of the working class against the other is just incredible. I mean “incredible” in the sense of “it defies credulity”.

        But here we all are, allowing ourselves to be led into working-class-on-working-class conflict over it. Goodness me.

        1. flora

          …makes COVID-19 somehow something metaphysical. Not real. It becomes a theoretical, abstract concept rather than policy choices with real-world causes and effects.


      1. HotFlash

        Thanks, flora. Dire indeed, but confirming suspicions that “governments lie.” The money quote:

        In a phone interview, (CEO and executive director of the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association George) Kelder confirmed that on April 15 New Jersey’s Office of Vital Statistics and Registry, in accordance with the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System, had ordered that deaths of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients should no longer be reported with that disease as the immediate cause of death.

        Holy moley.

      2. The Rev Kev

        The UK had to up their reporting of Coronavirus deaths a few days ago by 40%. I knew the figures out of China and Iran were rubbish but it looks like a lot of other countries are doing the same.

        1. Redlife2017

          Yes, somehow the ONS has escaped cover-up velocity (so to speak). They are very “just the facts, ma’am”, which is weirdly comforting. The FT also figured out how to conservatively model how many have died using a model based on ONS data (as of 23 April – 44,100). It’s going to look VERY BAD at the end of this. We will easily hit 60,000 in the first wave.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Plenty of countries are using dubious methods, all of which mysteriously lead to undercounting rather than over counting. It seems the less severe the steps taken by the government, the more likely it is that they will undercount. Sweden, Austria and the Netherlands seem to be particular offenders in Europe when it comes to questionable figures, but I think the UK seems to be the worst.

            When they adjusted Irish figures to use the same system the UK does, the Irish rate of death pretty much halved – mortality in the UK is now five times Irish levels. And mortality in the Irish republic is significantly lower than in Northern Ireland.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Can I take it from your comment then that reported statistics to do Coronavirus from Ireland are gold standard? Be handy to know which countries are giving honest reports.

      3. cm

        I’ve been saying this for a while. We should all be looking at total death numbers, regardless of “cause” since it can’t be manipulated.

  8. No it was not, apparently

    “Covid-19 causes sudden strokes in young adults, doctors say” […] All were under the age of 50, and all had either mild symptoms of Covid-19 infection or no symptoms at all. ‘The virus seems to be causing increased clotting in the large arteries, leading to severe stroke”

    Thanks for this, I had, what I believe was, a mild stroke two weeks ago when I finished my half-monthly shopping round; as I don’t own a car I carry all the stuff home by myself and it can be a bit tiring, but it never before had such an episode of extreme tiredness, coupled with near blackout, heavy sweating and muscle contractions, it was quite unreal.

    So now I worry I may have been infected, but had no symptoms, wonder if I should contact my doctor (on one hand I apparently need no help, on the other there may be further complications down the road, and then there’s the problem – going to the hospital is extra risky at these times).

    1. JTMcPhee

      Here’s hoping it was something minor, not to be repeated. You can at least call a physician or one of those nursing help lines.

      Take your experience as a warning to at least get fully informed about options and choices.

      Good wishes to you.

    2. Bsoder

      Yes contact your doctor, a couple of tests can run in most docs offices, to determine if your heart was damaged. Although not the kind of information anyone wants, knowing now gives you choices you might not have the longer you wait. I’m not advocating that we have decent medical care or adequate treatment but rather information is important.

      1. No it was not, apparently

        Thanks for the reply, you’re right on importance of having the info…

        I’m reluctant however since currently our NHS is just readying to start accepting non-emergency cases (all examinations were suspended during the corona-crisis) and I don’t want to clog the system, as they’re going to have to deal with two months worth of a backlog of cases.

        (I’m from Europe and our little back end was on lock-down since 15.3.2020.)

        The other thing is… you just can’t get them – any of the doctors – on the phone, so I would have to visit my designated personal doctor, just to get the appointment for lab testing, so most probably two visits – if I’m infected I’d be endangering others, if I’m not, I’d be putting myself at risk, since medical facilities are among the highest risk areas currently.

        Given that I have no symptoms one way or the other, I don’t want to be egotistic about this, but as you say, time could be a factor…

  9. marku52

    Martenson took apart the VA HCQ “study” if you can call it that. First of all, those patients receiving HCQ were the sickest, the didn’t give zinc (or didn’t mention it if they did), and waited too long. Anti virals work best early on, as their intent is to suppress replication. Once you body is already full of virus, it’s too late. Also, their own statistics were p=.5, which says none of it means anything. Certainly doesn’t “disprove” HCQ as the headlines read.

    My layman’s understanding is that HCQ (and quercetin, for that matter) are ionophores, which means they let zinc into the cells. This changes the cell internal ph, and slows replication. If you don’t add zinc, nothing happens. So any study that doesn’t add zinc isn’t doing it right. Or intentionally not trying.

    Also, authors of the study have numerous conflicts with other big pharma interventions, who would clearly not like a low cost treatment.

    Here’s Martenson:

    1. anon

      If you take out the patients given HCQ with or without AZT after intubation and mechanical ventilation (which likely carries a 90% or greater mortality in this population), then there is not really any difference in death rates. Of note the HCQ/AZT group, although sicker, had fewer intubations than the control group.

  10. Keith

    After #COVID19, why would anybody want to say in lodgings that weren’t professionally cleaned?

    I think you may be putting too much faith in the hotel chains. I recall back in the 90’s when news crews would hide hidden cameras in hotel room and watch while the cleaners did their thing. One item I have never forgotten (resulting me in never using hotel glasses) was the maid using the same cloth she just used in the bathroom and toilet for a drinking glass. This was on a NYC station, when I lived there in HS. I really doubt standards have improved much, especially when I have complained while traveling or heard the maids rushing to hit the required rooms to be cleaned in their respective times. Plus, as a poorly paid maid, what is her incentive to do a good job? I doubt performance awards are a part of the biz, so it is quick to hit the quota and be done, maybe even hide in the stairwell and play on the cell phone.

    AirBNB may not be a god send, but if they are small time businesspeople renting a room or a couple of homes, they are at least incentivized to maintain their investments and acquire good ratings, although the latter can be gamed quite a bit. That is not trying to say an AirBnB is as good as a Sheraton or Marriott, I selection selection of beds by hotels is superior while the AirBnB folks go cheap and nasty, but they do fill a niche, often cheaper due to evasion of govt regs and the ability to negotiate with the owner, in my case, bringing the girlfriends three big dogs on a road trip. Less of a hassle than sneaking them in a hotel room at night.

    1. David R Smith

      That line about “professionally cleaned” caught my eye also. I own a 10-room B&B. Many AirBnB properties are well cleaned. What they lack, however, is a county health inspection that real B&Bs like mine and hotels and motels go through. It’s the government certification that’s crucial. If AirBnB has any sense, which I don’t think Brian Chesky and his inner circle do, they would beg county health departments to inspect their properties.

      1. Keith

        But that’s open them up to more regulation, which is the perk about them. I think if they can keep the reviews mostly honest and cater to those where the more formal industry is not involved, they will do better, hence my remark about dogs on a road trip. I doubt your B&B would want three large dogs, one a big black G. Shepard (total sweetheart) running around inside). Beauty of the Air B&B is that is doable. I suspect county laws could be a pain in that regard. Also, inviting the county in may bring increased scrutiny for ADA additions, and other regs I cannot think about. The more that happens, the greater the cost of the Air BB and the higher the hurdle for a regular person trying to get an alternative income stream, which I think is the goal for a lot of these tech startups.

        1. David R Smith

          You could have three big dogs in a large home, but not in any AirBnB apartment I’ve ever stayed in.

          The point I thought I was making is that because of the virus, travelers are going to want to be assured that their lodging is sanitary. Unless AirBnB is prepared to set up its own internal international inspection subsidiary, a county health inspection is the best assurance that travelers can have.

    2. HotFlash

      Yeah, that is one take. OTOH, with AirBnB disappearing, I see something in my neighbourhood (close to downtown Toronto) that I have not seen in 10 years: Apt for Rent signs. They are everywhere — 3-story houses (understandable, although I do not approve) but also small apartment buildings, over stores, one small house. I saw 6 in my medium-length bike ride ystrday. I had thought it was Craigslist and nobody was just putting up a sign in the window anymore, but Craigslist is still going and AirBnB is not. We’re getting helicopter $$ ($2000/mo, approx) here in Ontario, so it’s not tenants being evicted. This should take some pressure off the rent prices here in Southwestern Toronto. I will take a little jaunt out tomorrow to see if there is ‘Apts Available’ signage on the big medium-rises owned by Big Landlords such as MetCap and Akelius.

      When the tide goes out, you see who is swimming naked.

    3. Hoppy

      I’m currently in an Airbnb in an Asian country. The family who rents the room lives upstairs.

      The first week I was here the grandmother cleaned my room. Since the lockdown started I have been cleaning the room and washing sheets myself even though the host has repeatedly has offered to clean. Not out of fear of the virus, I’m not worried, I just didn’t want to risk potentially exposing the grandmother.

      I do think the family is happy to have someone staying here as there are not many/any travelers left in the country and there probably won’t be for a while. They are all very sweet and helpful to this foreigner stuck in strange land in a weird new world. I’d take this lockdown experience over a hotel lockdown experience any day of the year.

      I do wonder what I will have to do or what I can do when my visa expires next month.

  11. Carolinian

    Re Jeffrey Sachs–thanks for the rant.

    Re The New Yorker–used to be good

    Re States like mine villainously forcing workers off unemployment–it should be pointed out that a lot of those businesses such as movie theaters closed on their own and it’s not at all clear they will soon reopen just because the guv gives the ok. There have been stories in my newspaper about some restaurants etc not wanting to reopen and some owner run small businesses that do.

    And it’s also not clear that any business that reopens and thereby risks the safety of its workers would be free to challenge unemployment if the employee wanted to stay out. Sounds like lawyer city to me. Or in any case it would surely be subject to some sort of hearing or process. And of course there are a lot of employees who would want to go back to work.

        1. Jen

          Got one just a few miles away. Couldn’t help thinking it was the perfect venue for social distancing.

        2. HotFlash

          Totally! We have a bunch up here, mostly in cottage country, but man, I remember being taken out to the drive-in as a child, me and my brother in our jammies, we’d mostly fall asleep before the second feature, but we’d stayed awake for the popcorn.

          After all, it’s a whole grain, isn’t it?

        3. Carolinian

          I’ve seen a recent documentary about a guy in Pennsylvania trying to keep his summer drive-in operating.. While his customer base was devoted he had trouble finding film prints of movies and couldn’t afford the many thousands to buy a digital projector. At one point he turned to screening classics and borrowing film prints from, among other people, Quentin Tarantino.

          Drive-ins died because the real estate was worth more than they could possibly make showing movies. May not be true up in the frozen north.

  12. temporal

    “Apple is exploring tools that will ensure apps developed for older Intel-based Macs still work on the new machines.”

    Exploring the multiple architecture support that was built into NeXTSTEP? The tech that transitioned OS X from Motorola to Intel?

    Maybe they’ll bring back the Enterprise Objects Framework while they’re at it.

    1. JohnnySacks

      And as for their own chips? More of the typical proprietary vendor lock-in expected from that company. Intel and AMD provide competitive choices and both run Windows and multiple flavors of Linux just fine. Just reinforces my choice of never owning an Apple product and building all my computers with AMD CPUs because I buy them with my own W2 wage slave money. Of course, if my company provided Apple products, that would be fine.

    2. hunkerdown

      Fat binaries are well-known as are their downsides. For one, they aren’t retrospective, therefore solve nothing about existing executables in the wild. For another, they’re nearly as large as a complete copy of the app built separately for each processor architecure, which makes distribution more expensive and slow than it strictly needs to be. Yet another, they require both a developer and source code, either or both which come and go, especially in enterprise work.

      However, Apple and Qualcomm just happen to be top sponsors of the production-quality LLVM compiler framework, including the standard C/C++/ObjC compiler suite that ships with XCode. I suspect Apple would be “exploring” the use of LLVM on end-user machines to translate Intel machine code to ARM/whatever machine code when installed and/or during use, in the fashion of recent Android releases, or DEC’s similar binary translation system from 1993, FX!32.

      1. skk

        DEC ! That’s a blast from the past. I worked at DEC for 6 years in the UK. Looking back, its the best place I’ve worked at. By a mile. Such a pity they screwed up their strategy on PCs. /local area networks..

    3. Acacia

      Yes, Apple did this before, when they moved macOS from Motorola’s PowerPC to Intel CPUs. To ease the transition from older apps (i.e., without fat binaries), there was a macOS component called Rosetta that did runtime code translation (it wasn’t a PowerPC emulator, apparently). Presumably, they would do something similar again.

      The problem appears when Apple decides to phase out the support for code translation. Rosetta was only supported for 4 years (2005–2009), at which point users had to choose to either pay to upgrade all non-compliant apps (which might mean moving to different apps), or stay on an older version of macOS. I remember facing this choice, and wondering why Apple was sunsetting Rosetta so quickly. Somehow, it felt like bait-and-switch.

      With any new shiny coming from Apple, I would be leery of a re-run of that episode.

  13. Dr. John Carpenter

    Re: The question nobody is asking. This has been my feeling since the beginning of this. Not to discount the special brand of chaos that is Trump’s signature, but if one ignores the clown show, it seems to me the years and years of crapification, systemic rot and disconnect in the Senate would still be there regardless of who is in the Oval Office. It’s rather telling to me that in an election year, the Dems can’t even offer a half hearted alternative. Maybe it is nihilistic, but I don’t feel it’s inaccurate either.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      it’s been pretty close to Common Wisdom around here that trump is merely a symptom of a much longer term decline and fall. Nemesis forever stalks Hubris, and all.
      The PTB receded into their bubble universe and stopped looking at the real world results of their machinations and experiments, and…since at least 9-11…the hamsters and white mice have been getting antsy…the rhesus monkeys somehow got into the security booth and have guns…and the flatworms are all over the floor and getting into the drains.
      but…as indicated above…the Bubble Universe is increasingly opaque…They can’t see out any more(while us lab animals can increasingly see in, due to greed about the internet thing some 30 years ago).
      Nancy’s ice cream and Mitch’s “let them go bankrupt” would have never happened if they truly appreciated all the pain they’ve caused…over my lifetime, no less. They would have been exceedingly hesitant to be so blithely distant and aloof if they were so aware….for mere self preservation.
      Let them eat derivatives, I say…and may the Mob find them quickly.

      1. John

        I’m pretty sure Mitch and his “wife” Elaine Chao aren’t going to retire in Kentucky.

    2. HotFlash

      Agreed. whatever team the Democrat Party would put in place. Is “leadership” that will chivvy or wrangle a corrupt and sclerotic system into an acceptable response really the answer — unless the leader be a Robespierre, a Lenin, or even an FDR, clearly not on offer?

      In which case, so fitting that the corrupt and sclerotic Joe Biden is the Dem Party champion.

    3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Look, they needed another 9/11-style controlled demolition but needed to excuse it and hide it from plain view, have you seen the sums the banks and billionaires make when these serial “crises” happen? Have you noticed the additional rights governments seize from the citizenry when they are trembling in fear under their beds? These are the rawest mega-expressions of the two most powerful things in the human realm: Money and Power. The quantities of both that are at stake and up for grabs are absolutely immense and we should be brave enough not to shrink from explanations that acknowledge what humans will sink to do when such immense quantities of these two unholy elixirs are at stake.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        agreed…that’s been the tale forever.
        real forever, not just the last hundred or so.
        but money and power are social constructs…they are given to those who hold them by the assent, knowing or not, of everyone else.
        if a sufficient number of humans decide that big banks just aren’t worth the trouble, and figure out some other way(what, i don’t know, yet)…then the big banks will fail, and nothing will save them.
        similarly with government.
        consent of the governed is a real thing…which is why They have spent so much time and effort attempting to manage that consent(up to hiring psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, etc…wile humanities otherwise was a losing career path—learning about that was a light bulb moment for me)
        prior to this mess, we were already well into a long term, fermenting crisis/crises of legitimacy…that was the defining feature of at least the last 20 years.
        all our institutions, secular, religious, academic, scientific, cultural, governmental, economic…were suspect…sometimes one by one…by different groups…and now…all at once.
        That’s new under the sun.
        Nancy’s ice cream, and mitch blatantly killing teacher pensions….and biden bringing larry summers out of his cave to advise him, for that matter…are indicators that they really do not understand what’s going on out here, outside their bubble.
        I think that’s new under the sun, as well.
        people are talking about how this might be “our 1918”—“our WW1″…
        I think it’s bigger than that.
        and will only get worse…especially if They continue to apply the same old same old…hand out some crumbs and immediately start talking about Paygo.
        betrayal has consequences eventually…and it sure looks like it’s close from where i sit.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Right now people are assenting to a Lie. I get why: people are distracted, underinformed, anesthetized, herded, and now (and always) scared. I also get how: yes it is a carefully orchestrated and managed myth maintenance campaign. And the two elixirs (Money and Power) are very complicated subjects, which makes the job much easier.

          But people do understand a few home truths. Hunger. Pain. Hopelessness. Despair. It’s possible to think “must be something wrong with me because I see shiny people on teevee and at the shops”. But when the shops are closed and that person in the bread line or at the rehab clinic looks suspiciously like…the businessman…the lawyer…the doctor…the mayor…then the doubts start to creep in.

          St. Augustine said Hope has two daughters: Anger and Courage. May we all have much more of both. And as the great philosopher Travis Bickle said “someday a real rain is gonna come and wash away all the scum”.

          Maybe we need a secret online handshake or something, from one old hippie absconded to Australia to another old hippie in Tejas: Peace, Brother

    1. Clive

      Oh, yes, that’s just another little treasure, isn’t it? A whole new sub-genre of charts, data (or data-like columns of figures, anyhow, which of course is good enough) and someone with a copy of Excel (who has discovered the dialogue box with all the graphing options in it) and all the usual scale shenanigans from which it is perfectly possible to demonstrate through the magic of correlation that my mother-in-law’s cat is a super-spreader. Or was too late in locking down. Or needs to be included in a lockdown relaxation strategy. Or is like Sweden.

      Or maybe all four. I do struggle to keep up.

  14. Democrita

    This tidbit from the end of the Briahna Joy Grey interview caught me up short:

    Gray: Same to you and yours. And I’m very appreciative of the fact that Bernie Sanders dropped out when he did so that he could preserve enough money to make sure his employees have health care through the fall, because he’s a man of principle.

    That had not occurred to me. Is it possible? I did think he had lots of money, but then again, health insurance is expensive.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I sincerely hope something like that was among the motivations for his ‘retirement’ from the fray.

  15. Robert Hahl

    This statement about forbearance, repeated endlessly in the media, seems untrue: “The lender isn’t just being nice; in a crisis like this, it has no interest in forcing thousands of borrowers into bankruptcy and assuming ownership of their devalued houses and cars.” I think the bank always has insurance that pays up the loss, but only after formal foreclosure. This is why they don’t seem to care about working things out with the borrower.

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      The banks don’t have ‘insurance’ like we think of insurance that automatically pays out on damages or a loss. They reduce their likelihood of loss in the event of a borrower default through several means. One of these was the credit default swap (CDS) market. The financial crisis showed what a disaster that was (looking at you, AIG). For a good discussion, see Econned, chapter 9.

      Under current regulations, banks have to keep a certain amount of default risk on their books (i.e., they can’t securitize and sell it all off), so their interest in working out the debt is proportional to the amount of it they still retain.

      1. Robert Hahl

        I have been told that the amount banks still retain is all insured. So, no matter how little the house sells for at auction after foreclosure, the bank gets its money back.

    1. schulace

      Wait, do deaths go up by 10x because more people have had it? Wouldn’t it be the opposite?

  16. Angie Neer

    Carla: wonderful photo. I love the composition, contrast of textures, and tonal range.

  17. MrQuotidian

    I agree that the portrayal of the hydroxychloroquine in the media is shamefully bad. It truly demonstrates the Trump derangement syndrome, to the point that you have people seemingly cheering for negative results to these studies. That’s shameful; we should all be hopeful that a cheap, existing treatment can help fight the virus.

    That said, IMO some of the critique of Trump’s statements on the matter is absolutely fair. The guy has literally said:

    “What do you have to lose? Take it. I really think they should take it. But it’s their choice. And it’s their doctor’s choice. Or the doctors and the hospital. But hydroxy… chloroquine… try it.. if you’d like.” *

    That’s just an appalling statement for the president to make during a pandemic. The “it’s their doctor’s choice” bit is thrown in there, but clearly not the operative point he’s trying to make. I get that it’s on-brand for him, but from a public-health perspective, no politician should be advising self-medicating with a potentially deadly drug. It shouldn’t be controversial to say that. So IMO if anyone is primarily to blame for politicizing this potential treatment, it’s him.

    But I also agree that the media, in either championing the drug or decrying it, have done an awful job… Truth be told, even in the best of times, mainstream media is next to incapable of covering medical trials. For all we know, if taken at the right time or with the right accompanying drugs, hydroxychloroquine may be effective. The bullshit spread on either side will make finding that out exceedingly difficult now.


    1. John

      If this con is selling it, I ain’t buying it


      Donald J. Trump
      “And one of the reasons that I keep talking about hydroxychloroquine is that the question that nobody ever asks, and the question that I most hate the answer to, is: “What happens if you do have a ventilator? What are your chances?”And I just hope that hydroxychloroquine wins, coupled with perhaps the Z-Pak, as we call it – dependent totally on your doctors and the doctors there – because you know the answer to that question. If you do have the ventilator, you know the answer to that question. And I hate giving the answer.So I don’t want to get them there. I don’t want to get them there. There’s a possibility – a possibility – and I say it: What do you have to lose? I’ll say it again: What do you have to lose? Take it. I really think they should take it. But it’s their choice and it’s their doctor’s choice, or the doctors in the hospital. But hydroxychloroquine – try it, if you’d like.”

  18. a different chris

    My emphasis:

    The organizers of the anti-lockdown protests have worked to create the impression of a groundswell of populist rage at elites

    And bingo, here it is – on Bloomberg weirdly, or maybe not so weirdly, enough. I mean who knows what side he is on?

    Other states with big declines — including Colorado, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia — have seen large-scale protests demanding that governors reopen schools and businesses.

    1. David R Smith

      You aint see nothing yet. Wait until armed protesters, with Trump whistling behind them, start trying to keep blacks and Latinos out of Walmart and who knows where else because they’re more likely to have the virus.

    1. Lou Anton

      He’s their guy. It’s like when a politician recently said, “my first call was to Bob Rubin to see what to do.” I mean, Obama consulted with Summers. Must be the man for the job.

      1. John

        Summers’ only regret is that the 2008 Wall Street Burn Down of the Economy didn’t take it all for the 1%.

        This time’s the charm.

  19. Carey

    ‘The Seven-Step Path from Pandemic to Totalitarianism’:

    “..When the numbers of cases and deaths start to plateau, local officials claim it’s too early to tell whether the virus has finished passing through their population and therefore, restrictive measures must continue.

    An alternative narrative is that if such measures aren’t kept in place there will be a resurgence of cases and deaths. Yet another is that the continuing climb in elderly persons’ deaths means all bets are off for the time being.

    They admit that initial models incorrectly predicted there would be a tsunami of cases, ICU admissions and deaths. However, they assert more time is needed before it can be determined whether it’s safe to loosen some of the restrictions and let children return to school or adults go back to work.

    Officials do not try to calculate the overall skyrocketing cost to their populations and economies of the shut-downs and other measures against, nor do they discuss what cost level may be too high..”


  20. David R Smith

    Come on. I imagine if Bernie were the nominee, at the minimum, he’d invite both Summers and Rubin in for sit-downs. What matters is whose opinions you accept. But chill out, Summers and Rubin know a lot about a lot. I’m sure Biden is learning from talking with Summers.

    1. diptherio

      Like why there aren’t more women in STEM and why dumping all of the toxic waste in Africa actually makes a lot of sense, you know, economically speaking…that kind of thing, right?

  21. Jason Boxman

    Maybe someone needs to vote-shame Abrams. Vote blue no matter who, remember?

    It’s great that good governance isn’t even in the running of what matters; identity trumps all!

    Meanwhile, America burns. Adrift, bereft of both moral leadership and the capacity to act in any coherent way, save allowing the elites to steal whatever isn’t bolted to the floor.

  22. rowlf

    Hey Lambert!

    Thanks for hipping me to Simon Stålenhag several weeks ago. I was asked about what I would like as a birthday present recently and asked for a copy of “The Electric State”.

    What I liked about the illustrations I found from the book was how much it reminded me of growing up on Strategic Air Command bases in the 1960s/70s and how there were various remains of military structures and equipment left over from WW2 and the early years of the Cold War, often explorable. In the southwest many airports were originally military airports and surplus aircraft were everywhere rotting away. As a Boyscout on a base we got to camp in an Atlas missile site and next to nuclear weapons bunkers.

    It always amazed me how much was built and then abandoned. The scale of the whole effort is mindboggling and how long the US coasted on surplus factories, machinery and infrastructure after the war.

    Keep up the good work.

  23. allan

    Mnuchin determined to strike in US(PS):

    Administration considers leveraging emergency coronavirus loan to force Postal Service changes

    The Treasury Department is considering taking unprecedented control over key operations of the U.S. Postal Service by imposing tough terms on an emergency coronavirus loan from Congress, which would fulfill President Donald Trump’s longtime goal of changing how the service does business, according to two people familiar with the matter.

    Officials working under Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who will consider [1] the $10 billion loan, have told senior officials at the USPS in recent weeks that he could use the loan as leverage to give the administration influence over how much the agency charges for delivering packages and how it manages its finances, according to the two people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the talks are preliminary.

    … Treasury officials have said they may press the agency to demand tougher concessions from its powerful postal unions — among the public-sector unions that still retain significant leverage in negotiations with the government.

    The officials have also said Mnuchin wants the authority to review hiring decisions at the agency’s senior levels, including the selection of the next postmaster general, a decision that until now has been left to the Postal Service’s five-member board of governors….

    Exactly as envisioned by the Founders.

    [1] Thank you, Chuck and Nancy, for empowering this sociopath.

    1. sd

      What happens if the American people raise money for the USPS? Is it possible to start a fundraising campaign, sending the funds directly to the USPS?

      I am willing – just to see the sour looks on some faces in Washington.

  24. The Rev Kev

    So I was reading that China rejected Pompeo’s request for access to Wuhan’s lab. I would do the same as well. It was only a year or two ago that the Iranians caught an inspector with radioactive materials on them that they were trying to sneak it an Iranian facility to be “detected” later. Pompeo might try a similar stunt by having inspectors sneak something into one of those Chinese labs-


    In that article, Pompeo says “We have to make sure that the Chinese Government is handling those materials in an appropriate way not only in the Wuhan Institute of Virology but elsewhere.” Left unsaid is the fact that the US outsourced these labs to China about five years ago due to a series of accidents they had themselves which is why they are in China, and I quote-

    “At that time, the CDC had closed two labs and halted some biological shipments in the wake of several incidents in which highly pathogenic microbes were mishandled by US government laboratories: an accidental shipment of live anthrax, the discovery of forgotten live smallpox samples and a newly revealed incident in which a dangerous influenza strain was accidentally shipped from the CDC to another lab.”


  25. VietnamVet

    The non-response to the COVID-19 Pandemic by the Federal Government makes it clear that both political parties intention is to keep the transfer of wealth to their donors intact and that the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans is of no matter.

    Tried and true public health measures (testing, tracing and isolation) worked in the past epidemics. But there is no hiring to beef up the federal public health service, no direction or coordination, no federal government Testing, PPE or Medicine contracts, little diversion of resources to fight the pandemic, and no fiat money used to pay for it. All are proof that the Establishment is in its final stages of converting the former affluent American middle class into poor subservient Precariats.

  26. Koh

    As a decade long reader of naked capitalism I have a small request. If you all have the capacity, can you start posting about alternative futures to capitalism that are being explored either theoretically or practically? We all know the current system is way too problematic for the USA and all other countries and that everyone is tired of capitalism. If we are to change this system we need to have a better idea of what a better system would look like, it’s properties,it’s contradictions, it’s effects. It would be great to have a series with periodic posts like you guys used to do on neoliberalism with Philip pilkin gton.

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