2:00PM Water Cooler 4/24/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

A bit more shortly; I got wrapped around the axle on some household-related stuff. –lambert


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.

Finally, after days of flirting with 1.0 (no increase) New York reaches it.

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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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Biden (D)(1): “Biden sexual assault allegation roils #MeToo movement” [Politico]. “A friend of Reade’s, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said she met Reade while interning in Ted Kennedy’s Senate office. She said Reade told her she was subjected to unwanted and frequent comments about her looks by Biden and complained to a supervisor, but it was ‘in one ear, out the other. The response I heard at the time was, ‘Well, if you’re not happy here, there are 99 other Senate offices to choose from. Pick one of them.” Then, the friend said, Reade told her that she was physically assaulted by Biden. The friend said she told Reade not to report the sexual assault to the police because it would have ruined her career. After the story broke, Reade filed a police report. Reade’s brother, Collin Moulton, confirmed to other media outlets that his sister told him in real time about the assault and harassment when she said they occurred. He didn’t return calls and messages seeking comment for this story.” • Contemporaneous commumications. Christine Blasey Ford didn’t have that. One would hate to think that #MeToo is just another bad faith NGO.

Biden (D)(2): “Larry Summers Advising Biden Campaign on Economic Recovery” [Bloomberg]. “Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers is advising Joe Biden’s presidential campaign on economic policy, including its plans to revive the U.S. economy after the coronavirus pandemic, according to five people familiar with his involvement…. Summers was the first name on the ‘Biden do not reappoint list’ published last month by the American Prospect’s Robert Kuttner, who wrote that Summers in 2009 ‘not only lowballed the necessary economic stimulus and ended it prematurely, but he successfully fought for rescuing the biggest banks rather than taking them into temporary receivership.’ Summers’s involvement in Biden’s campaign, however, offered some reassurance Wall Street that Biden is not moving too far to the left from the centrist positions that earned him his establishment support. • Yeah, I’lll say. Thomas Frank brings the receipts:

(To be fair, the PMC meritocrats who form the Democrat Party base believe exactly what Summers believes.) Yesterday I asked: “The question nobody is asking: Does the United States have the operational capability to mobilize, no matter the party in charge?” And I guess I have my answer: No, no more than Obama’s team did in 2009. And I asked: “What would the Democrat team that replaced Trump’s team look like?” And I have my answer there, too: Biden’s team will look like Obama’s 2009 team. This is, of course, another kick in the teeth for the left, but Biden’s voters want an Obama restoration, and they will have it.

Biden (D)(3): “Biden Will Fund-Raise With D.N.C. and His Appointee Will Lead the Committee” [New York Times]. “At the request of the Biden campaign, Mary Beth Cahill, a D.N.C. senior adviser who briefly served as its interim chief executive in 2018, will take over from Seema Nanda. Ms. Cahill, a longtime operative for the party, served as campaign manager for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Mr. Kerry is a longtime friend of and 2020 campaign surrogate for Mr. Biden. Ms. Nanda will leave the D.N.C…. Some donors had been confused in recent weeks at the delay for setting up such an accord. Ultimately, the initial agreement is exclusively between the D.N.C. and the Biden campaign; the maximum contribution is likely to increase in the future as Democratic state parties are included.” • The Biden campaign’s decision-making process is certainly slow; they fought for a month over their tech vendor, and AFAIK haven’t decided yet.

Sanders (D)(1): “Ex-Sanders campaign aide Nina Turner on why ideology is more important than race for Biden VP pick” [The Hill]. Turner: “”Issues first, and then after that certainly people want to see themselves reflected. It is high time in this country, absolutely, that there is more color at the top. But color for the sake of color when you’re going to continue to do the same things does not change the material conditions of the lives of the people in this country.” • Heresy!

Trump (R)(1): “Trump’s ‘secret stash’ of voters” [Roll Call]. “Handicappers of old may not use all the snazzy models of today, but we always had one rule of thumb on which many of us relied: For incumbents, what you see is what you get. I’ve watched thousands of races, and in all but a few, an incumbent trailing in a race can’t count on getting most of the undecided voters. If, after years in office, he or she hasn’t sold himself or herself to voters, then that incumbent is unlikely to win late-deciders or reelection.”

UPDATE Trumph (R)(2): “Donald Trump Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript April 23” [Rev Transcript Library]. I hate doing this, but I’m gonna have to do it. Caveat: I don’t love Trump. The introduction:

[TRUMP:] With each passing day, we’re learning more and more about this enemy. The scientists at DHS, have released a report offering a number of insights about how the virus reacts to different temperatures, climates and surfaces. The findings confirmed that the virus survives better in colder and drier environments and does less well in warmer and more humid environments. I have to say that very excitingly, we’re going to have somebody up… [Bill Bryan of DHS], will be up in just a little while, that was a great report you gave. And he’s going to be talking about how the virus reacts in sunlight. And when you hear the numbers, you won’t even believe them. US trials of the COVID-19 have been going on and have been approved in the United States, Germany, UK and China, that’s big news. And we’re… A lot of trials are going on, and we have a lot of great, brilliant minds working on this both from the standpoint of a vaccine and therapeutics.

Caveat: I don’t love Trump. Discounting for puffery, that’s not so bad. Not Jed Barlett, of course, but who could compare with Jed Barlett? And now the passage of the day:

[TRUMP:] A question that probably some of you are thinking of if you’re totally into that world, which I find to be very interesting. So, supposedly we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light[1], and I think you said that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it. And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you’re going to test that too. Sounds interesting, right? And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that so that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me. So, we’ll see, but the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute. That’s pretty powerful.

Caveat: I don’t love Trump. If — stay with me, here — you read what Trump actually said — you can see that headlines like this “Trump suggests ‘injection’ of disinfectant to beat coronavirus and ‘clean’ the lungs“, or “Trump suggests injecting disinfectant into the body to treat coronavirus“, or this reporting from Reuters, “Trump suggested scientists should investigate inserting the cleaning agent into the body, or statements like this one from Pelosi, “The president is asking people to inject Lysol into their lungs,” are, quite simply, false. It’s a very old game to leave out all the qualifiers, which I have helpfully underlined, and that’s what Pelosi and the journalists — who are now political players at the tactical level, and not reporters — have done. My view is that Trump sees is a powerful agent (the disinfectant) getting a result, and he’s unequipped either in vocabulary or expertise to formulate the question of operationalizing (not sure that’s the word i want) that agent medically (quinine was orignally the bark of a tree, after all; penicillin a mold, etc.). That may be a venial sin, but it’s not a mortal one. For example, if I said that liberal Democrats continue to force-feed us shit sandwiches, nobody would take that literally (if not seriously). Caveat: I don’t love Trump, ffs.

All in all, a discouraging look at our political class, including the press, in action.

NOTE [1] I had to look long and hard for this, but: “Predicted Inactivation of Viruses of Relevance to Biodefense by Solar Radiation” [Journal of Virology]. “UV radiation from the sun is the primary germicide in the environment. The goal of this study was to estimate inactivation of viruses by solar exposure…. Included in Table 6 are estimated times for virus inactivation by midday solar exposure for each location and date. We selected the most UV-sensitive (Filoviridae) among the families of viruses of potential interest in biodefense (Table 4). The estimates of midday virus inactivation in Table ​6 range from 20 min to well over 1 hour for 1-log inactivation (10% survival). This indicates that some viruses could be inactivated by solar radiation rather quickly, while other, less-UV-sensitive virus types could persist for a long time…. The action spectra of virus inactivation were found to be similar for all viruses regardless of genome type. Thus, one composite action spectrum was used to represent all viruses.” So we don’t know a whole lot (“interesting”). All that said, deactivating viruses with sunlight is not, prima facie, insane, and there’s no reason light can’t be “brought inside the body” in the same way surgical cameras are. Meanwhile, I am hanging my towels and clothes out in the sun to dry. Caveat: I don’t love Trump, ffs.

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I’ve been yelling about AOC constituent services:

For AOC’s sake, I hope service like this has been happening every day for the last year, and it needs to happen every day until election day.

“‘We Are Abdicating Our Responsibility’: Why AOC Is Not Following the Pelosi Line on the Emergency Relief Bill” [Vanity Fair]. “While recognizing that Democrats managed to secure some wins in the nearly $500 billion legislation—which includes funding for hospitals, small businesses, and testing—Ocasio-Cortez has essentially dismissed it as a Band-Aid for a gunshot wound. ‘We are abdicating our responsibility. We haven’t legislated for a month and thousands of people are dying…. Every time we pass one of these bills, we are hearing that the real solution is coming in the next bill and the next bill and the next bill,’ the freshman congresswoman said in an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday night, hours after the bill passed the Senate. ‘At some point, we have to raise our hands and say, ‘When is the solution coming?’ Because two months of rent are going to pass by before we are actually entertaining a real bill.'”

UPDATE “Democrats Expect to Hold an ‘In-Person Convention,’ Party Chair Says” [Time]. “Democratic Party chairman Tom Perez said Thursday that he expects to hold an “in-person convention” in Milwaukee to nominate Joe Biden for president, though he didn’t rule out the potential that portions of the event would be conducted virtually. The convention is slated for the week of Aug. 17, but precise dates remain up in the air after Perez and party officials scrapped their original July 13-16 plans amid the coronavirus pandemic. ‘We expect to hold an in-person convention in Milwaukee. We are planning for that,’ Perez told reporters on a telephone call. ‘At the same time, we do not put our public health heads in the sand. We don’t do that right now. We won’t do that in the run-up.’ Perez said he’s optimistic about forecasts he said suggest COVID-19 could begin a downward slope in Wisconsin later this spring.”

UPDATE “Erik Prince Recruits Ex-Spies to Help Infiltrate Liberal Groups” [New York Times]. Sourcing: “according to interviews and documents.” So, OK. That said: “Using a different alias the next year, the same undercover operative infiltrated the congressional campaign of Abigail Spanberger, then a former [sic] C.I.A. officer who went on to win an important House seat in Virginia as a Democrat. The campaign discovered the operative and fired her.” • I shouldn’t laugh, because Erik Prince is a horrible human being and this operation sound horrinle, but the idea of a CIA Democrat’s campaign being “infiltrated” is too delicious. Who, after all, is really doing the infiltration?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Jeni’s Ice Cream Is About To Give Us A Sequel To Pizzagate” [Mel Magazine]. The ice cream Pelosi stores in her freezer. “Far more appealing to Q folks and their fellow travelers is the art of collaging a map with red yarn to show how seemingly mundane details all web together as proof of secret, terrible machinations that sabotage America and destroy the lives of innocents….. Where will the QAnon sleuths take it from here? Pizzagate proved that the simplest recipe for an arcane right-wing conspiracy is [junk food] + [Democratic machine] + [election year], and we’ve got those ingredients at a steady simmer again. So where a rational observer might note that Jeni’s founder Jeni Britton Bauer is a long-time supporter of Biden and former President Obama, or that Biden and Pelosi are supporting a swing-state business, the truthers can begin their work.” • I’m really running this to draw attention to the TrueAnon podcast–

“Episode 63: Exiled On Main Street” (podcast) [TrueAnon]. “True Anon is joined by Mark Ames of the War Nerd and Exiled to talk social collapse, Russiagate, Shock Therapy and Comrade Putin” • TrueAnon tracks all things QAnon too, retaining their sanity and humor while doing so. Impressive!

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.

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Commodities: “Charting the Trade Turmoil” [Bloomberg]. Handy chart:

Note that the United States is not experiencing any good shortages. Canada, however, is (pasta).

Shipping: “A global trade downturn doesn’t appear to be slowing the drive for bigger container ships, at least in one corner of the sector. South Korea just launched the world’s biggest boxship in turning a vessel capable of carrying 24,000 20-foot boxes over to flag carrier HMM…. providing a mammoth demonstration of Seoul’s aggressive support of key national industries” [Wall Street Journal]. “It may be awhile before the ship termed a megamax can test the limits of its capacity. The vessel is launching into a depressed global trade market, with operators canceling hundreds of sailings and idling droves of ships. Industry observers say megaships are leaving Asian ports half full”

Shipping: “Railroads Unclear What’s Around the Bend for U.S. Economy” [Bloomberg]. “According to data from the Association of American Railroads, carloads of commodities have slumped for the past seven straight weeks, reaching their lowest level in records going back to 1999 when you exclude the usual year-end dropoffs in demand. The fallout from the coronavirus is shredding not just the obvious consumer sectors like hotels, shops and restaurants that are closed during extended lockdowns. It’s hitting America’s industrial economy with equal force and similar uncertainty about what’s around the bend.”

Supply Chain: “China’s supply chain for medical goods is turning into a free-for-all. Agents for foreign governments, hospitals, businesses and an army of middlemen are descending on the country to secure ventilators and masks and other protective gear… creating scenes of disarray marked by million-dollar deals and little certainty that purchases will lead to deliveries. Chinese factories are taking advantage, dictating buying conditions and demanding advance payments in full, while buyers must quickly vet newly-minted vendors” [Wall Street Journal]. “One healthcare executive who’s effectively leading a procurement team calls it ‘very much a wild, Wild West scenario.’ The chaos underscores how desperate U.S. and other buyers have become to secure medical gear. Even when expensive deals can be made, shipping remains a problem. Regulatory hurdles make the products’ export difficult, and China has limited foreign airlines’ flights, reducing cargo capacity and sharply driving up airfreight rates.”

The Bezzle: “E-scooter company reportedly laid off 406 people in 2-minute Zoom call” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “On March 27, electric scooter startup Bird reportedly sent out calendar invites to several hundred employees for a “COVID-19 Update” Zoom meeting, according to The Verge. Once employees logged onto the one-way meeting, a woman’s voice began reading a script, informing the attendees that they had all been laid off in a 2-minute speech. Bird’s founder and CEO, Travis VanderZanden, was not even the one delivering the bad news — the chief communications officer was chosen for the job instead… Then, the meeting abruptly ended and everyone’s email and Slack accounts were reportedly instantly deactivated.” • Classy! So, people were right to set those scooters on fire and throw them in trees?

Tech: “Banks grow wary of Zoom meetings” [American Banker]. “Yet Standard Chartered Bank has reportedly banned employees from using Zoom videoconferencing because of security concerns, and survey data suggests other banks are starting to scale back or stop using the service… In a recent poll conducted by Blind, 28% of financial employees said they were worried their information may have been compromised through a videoconferencing tool. About 12% said they have stopped using the popular Zoom tool, and 10% said they have decreased use of it over hacking concerns. Card company employees seem to be especially worried: 56.6% of Visa employees said they have completely stopped using Zoom, as did 55.6% of American Express staff. More than a third of Goldman Sachs employees who took the survey said they fear data compromise with the use of Zoom, as did 27.8% of JPMorgan Chase staff and 20.7% of Capital One workers. Several banks have experienced Zoom bombings in which hackers have broken into a meeting and shown porn or flashed themselves. ‘That has happened quite a few times, and we’re collecting lots of stories on that,’ said Steve Hunt, senior analyst at Aite Group. There is no profit motive — they do it ‘to get their jollies,’ he said.” • What, no profit motive?

Manufacturing: “Boeing Set To Cut 787 Dreamliner Production Rate” [Simple Flying]. “Boeing will cut the production of the 787 by roughly 50% percent, bringing down its 14 aircraft a month to figures in the single digits…. Boeing was also forced to temporarily close many of its facilities over virus concerns…. In an open letter to employees, Boeing CEO David Calhoun speaks about how ‘it’s important we start adjusting to our new reality now.’ The letter also mentions that Boeing will likely take years to recover from this pandemic as the aviation market continues to shrink.” • “We.”

Manufacturing: “Boeing 737 Max return expected to be delayed until late summer or early fall: WSJ” [MarketWatch]. “he company’s 737 Max fleet has been grounded since last March following two deadly crashes related to an anti-stall system. The Federal Aviation Administration is not expected to approve the lifting of the grounding until August or later, as officials work from home, putting further pressure on the aerospace company, which is also being hit as airlines around the world stop flying during the pandemic. The FAA has not signed off on details of two outstanding software fixes to flight-control systems because agency experts are still reviewing them, according to one U.S. government official, and the contagion has slowed other parts of the effort, the paper reported.”

The Fed: “Fed’s Near-Zero Rates to Last into 2023, Economists Predict” [Bloomberg]. “The Federal Reserve may hold interest rates near zero for three or more years, and its balance sheet will soar above $10 trillion as policymakers seek to revive the U.S. economy from recession, economists said in a Bloomberg survey. Just over half the 31 respondents to an April 20-23 poll predicted the target range for the federal funds rate, now at 0-0.25%, won’t move up until at least 2023. Another 22% said not before 2022. Asked where the balance sheet would peak, the median estimate was $10 trillion, and the average $10.9 trillion.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 37 Fear (previous close: 40 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 43 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 24 at 12:40pm.

The Biosphere

“How to bail out the oil industry without destroying the planet” [The Week]. “The problem with the oil industry is that it’s run by people who don’t want it to die. But what if it was run by people who did recognize the need to ultimately dismantle fossil fuel production? If the federal government just straight-up nationalized the industry in the near future, it would have almost three decades to transition its workers and physical capital into green sectors, wind down oil production to zero, and figure out what to do about plastics and petrochemicals. Among progressive climate activists, there are burgeoning proposals to do just that. And right now, thanks to the coronavirus crisis, the oil industry has never been a cheaper bargain. Haliburton’s stock is down by two-thirds. ExxonMobil’s is down by 38 percent. Every energy company on the S&P 500 could be bought out for a grand total of about $700 billion — or roughly one-third of what the U.S. government just spent on the CARES Act.” • Seems like a no-brainer.

“Pennsylvania bet its economic future on fracking, plastics. Was it all a giant scam? [Will Bunch, Philadellphia Inquirer]. “A report released earlier this month by the Center for International Environmental Law — warning the U.S. government that bailing out Big Oil, Gas and Plastics with coronavirus relief dollars would be ‘an unfillable sinkhole’ — spells out why the pipe dream for state officials of plastics plants using fracked-in-Pa. natural gas lining the banks of the Ohio may be just that, a dream. The report argues that industry estimates of an ever-rising global demand for plastic products like those to be manufactured by the Shell ethane cracker and its competitors were bogus — even before the pandemic crashed the economy. ‘The whole push to build out this massive infrastructure for new plastic capacity has been driven not by any existing demand for plastics’ — either in the U.S. or in international markets, Carroll Muffett, the president and CEO of CIEL, told me in a phone interview. ;It’s driven by this flood of very cheap gas. The industry had this massive resource and they needed something to do with it.'” • Oh.

“Ghost Flights” Haunt the Skies, Enlarging Carbon Footprints” [Scientific American]. “Under the terms of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package passed by Congress last month, the Department of Transportation forced airlines that receive aid to continue providing a minimum number of flights to destinations they served before the pandemic. In some cases, the DOT requirements have compelled airlines to keep flying to destinations that have seen precipitous drops in passengers…. Approximately 92,859 passengers passed through TSA checkpoints Tuesday, compared with 2,227,475 passengers the same day last year, marking a dramatic 96% drop, according to TSA data. But spurred by the DOT requirements, airlines only have reduced the number of flights available in the United States by 58% compared with the same period last year.

“Decorah Eagles” (live cam) [Explore]. • Lots and lots of liive cams on bear, birds (and also surfing, etc.).

“Why vinegar might be your secret weapon to fighting weeds” [Los Angeles Times]. “Boiling water or full-strength white vinegar can kill the leaves and stems of most tender green weeds, such as spotted spurge, crab grass, sow thistle and prickly lettuce — especially when they’re young. The vinegar is easier to use, and some people dilute it 50-50 with water, but Kent says he uses it full strength to drench the plants “because it’s so cheap.” White vinegar is particularly useful at getting weeds in gravel paths, rock walls and gaps in the concrete, which are otherwise nearly impossible to pull.” • This is a very good article with lots of good tips. (They also recommend “sheet mulch,” permaculture’s gateway drug, though they call it “lasagna mulch.”


“‘Hydrologists should be happy.’ Big Supreme Court ruling bolsters groundwater science” [Science]. “Today, in a closely watched case with extensive implications, the court ruled six to three that the federal Clean Water Act applies to pollution of underground water that flows into nearby lakes, streams, and bays, as long as it is similar to pouring pollutants directly into these water bodies…. In the decision, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that groundwater pollution was subject to federal water-quality regulations as long as the connection to surface waters was the “functional equivalent” of a direct discharge such as a pipe… The court’s decision spells out criteria that might influence whether groundwater pollution meets the new standard and is covered by the law. Those criteria could include how quickly and how far the pollution moves from its source before reaching surface water, the underlying geology, and how much the chemicals are diluted or broken down.”

“EXCLUSIVE: Audio shows Governor Rick Snyder’s ‘fixer’ lied about warnings Snyder and his administration received on ‘toxic’ Flint water, attempted to pay off sick Flint couple, and the mystery of the stolen Flint pipe” [Detroit Metro Times]. “Two days away from what Attorney General Dana Nessel’s criminal prosecutors told Flint residents was the Michigan statute of limitations for new charges to be filed in relation to the Flint water crisis, Metro Times has obtained shocking audio from a February 2017 meeting between Governor Rick Snyder’s right-hand man and top adviser, Rich Baird, and a sick Flint couple. The audio reveals alleged criminal activity by Baird — that Baird claims he told the governor about — as well as potential evidence that Governor Snyder himself had lied about what, and when, he knew about Flint’s deadly water.” • 

Health Care

“Hospitals sound alarm over privately run virus test centre at Surrey theme park” [Guardian]. “Hospitals sought to take over the operation of a flagship government coronavirus testing centre from the accounting firm Deloitte after severe failings in the service led to the test results of NHS staff being lost or sent to the wrong person, the Guardian can reveal…. Deloitte was hired to help scale up testing nationally, and is understood to be handling logistics across a number of the sites, working alongside other private firms such as Serco and Boots…. In revelations that raise concerns over the rapid outsourcing of testing during the pandemic, chief executives at hospitals in south-west London are understood to have had talks about removing Deloitte and running the Chessington drive-in testing centre themselves.”

“Acute lung injury” [My Pathology Report]. An explainer in lay language.


OK, I give:

What’s Animal Crossing? Do I care?

“Travis Scott’s virtual concert on Fortnite set a record” [CNN]. “More than 12 million people hopped on Fortnight Thursday for the debut of Travis Scott’s new song. The Grammy-nominated rapper debuted “Astronomical” within the wildly popular online video game, and it attracted a record audience.” • 12 million is a lot. I wonder if Sanders could have held rallies in Fortnite (and whether that would have been a good idea, given the possibility of griefers).

News of the Wired

What it’s like to live in a First World country. Matt Bruenig: “The 2020 baby box is out, which is provided by the state to all Finnish newborns for the next year.

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

SR writes: :Calacanthus floridus, Carolina Allspice or Sweetshrub, Opelika, AL 3-25-2020.” Very pretty. Like to hear the story of that house, though.

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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. Carolinian

    Re supply chain–someone I know ordered surgeon’s masks on Amazon and they were made in–where else?–China. They came much quicker than the predicted May delivery.

    And I’m going to try that vinegar trick on my front walkway. Refuse to use weed killer.

    1. jo6pac

      I ordered on Amazon and yes the came in 3 weeks instead of the 5 weeks plus told me.

      Check what I wrote on weeds. The store vinegar isn’t as strong so don’t dilute very much and add soap to make it stick.

      1. sandy lawrence

        20% vinegar from hardware or feed store works better and faster than regular store vinegar. Best used on seedlings as they emerge. Used this regularly on decomposed granite drive to keep weed-free. Careful of overspray – it kills on contact. I also used the soap additive. Don’t store leftover in sprayer; it corrodes.

    2. carl

      I use a mix of one gallon (9% strength; important) vinegar, one cup salt, and a tablespoon of dish soap. Note that this is for hardscapes only; it will kill everything.

      1. furies

        At the Community Garden it’s white vinegar, epsom salts and Dawn dish detergent.

        I’ve converted my 86 year old landlord…no more Round-Up for us!

    3. none

      My sister got masks on dx.com. I don’t know how long it took but it wasn’t months or anything like that. Maybe 2-3 weeks. banggood.com also has them and keeps sending me promo email, technically not spam since I have bought stuff from them in the psat. Same type of outfit as dx.

  2. Jason Boxman

    Zoom isn’t the only dangerous conference software. It’s impossible to prove, but Blue Jeans video conference software seems to have destroyed my right speaker. I asked on the Twitter, and someone did confirm that on Macbook Pros, they use only the right speaker to avoid crossover from the mic which I guess is on the left side of the laptop. I also checked my audio settings, and the audio balance was completely on the right side; I’d never do this intentionally.

    In any case, my speaker now crackles. It’s $112 to get it fixed, because Apple! and in any case it’s impossible to take it anywhere. An external bluetooth speaker somewhat obviates the need to fix this, but it’s disturbing that software can actually destroy your hardware.

    1. Synoia

      More probably the speaker was defective. Sound which is too loud can destroy a speaker.

      Could be a wire, of something stuck in there touching the speaker cone.

      Speakers are analogue, have moving parts and are not digital.

  3. jo6pac

    I’m truly happy the larry summers has a job with biden. This way I can rest easy that Amerika is in good hands once again like was with bailout wall street obomber;-) Us on Main Street are doomed with the trumpster or dnc biden. I would like to nominate hillabillie for another run at the state department;-) Then k. harris for doj since she did a great job here in Calli;-)

    Weeds and vinegar. I use 30% (it’s very HOT) with some dish soap and water. It melts weeds and is best used in the heat of the day.

    1. flora

      re: larry summers and biden

      Yep, Won’t have to worry about Putin destroying America if the Summers/Biden team takes office… or if the T team stays in office.

  4. Clive

    “The supposed rush to reshore global supply chains may end up going nowhere.”
    You too can do your part as a citizen; Refuse to resume prior maintenance and replacement regimes until the parts, filters and replacements are made in the USA.
    Buy used in thrift shops or off Craigslist until U.S. made is available. It will take a while for American businesses to retool for manufacturing, but what do you really need to buy at a consumer level right away other than food, medicine and fuel?

    And, on the human front, patronize business who hire your neighbors, their children or your compatriots, over cheap imported labor.

    1. ambrit

      I noticed that Thrift Shops were all closed down here. “Non-essential” businesses, for whom?
      I decry the loss of localized resources, like swap shops and weekend jumble meets. [The local big outdoor flea market venue, which was forty miles away, hah, was charging twenty-five dollars a day lot rent, for both weekend days no less, thirty-five dollars for a single weekend day. That froze out most small Mom and Pop marketers, and led to higher prices than seen in garage sales for similar items. I’m saying not just five or ten percent rises, as one would expect to cover extra expenses of travel to the venue, etc., but one hundred to two hundred percent rises in price. The miracle of neo-liberalism.]

        1. ambrit

          The other side of the equation is the mass of people who are desperate for any “extra” income are frozen out of the basic benefit of scaled barter and exchange. Deny them even the hope of self actualization and they fall easy prey to demagogues.
          Clothes are not really essential, given the purported benefits of UV exposure. /s
          However, things used around the home wear out from said use. Poor people cannot afford most of what is being sold in Big Boxx Stores in the way of household appliances. That is a category of item that Thrift Shops help with. Older, used household appliances are a godsend to the “lower orders.” Now, everyone is forced to purchase overpriced new junk or defer acquisition.
          In essence, I am asserting that the entire lower rung of the economy has been shut down. I am not sanguine about there being any serious rebound in commerce when the quarantines are lifted. The velocity of money in my level of the economy is now low, and trending lower.
          This is looking like the 2009 “Recovery” on steroids.

          1. JTMcPhee

            And then there’s Amazon, Bezos’ Juggernaut has been Hovering up the data generated by little retailers who pretty much have to put their stuff on
            Amazon, and stealing their ideas to make Amazon-branded products and using the customer information they labored to develop, and then of course rigging the search function so that the Amazon branded item is at the top of the search, with a price just a bit less than what the retailer has to charge to eke out an existence. https://dnyuz.com/2020/04/24/josh-hawley-again-demands-ftc-overhaul-amid-accusations-amazon-steals-seller-data/

            Note that the populist senator calling out these antitrust and fraud violations is Josh Hayley, who is a (he swallows) REPUBLICAN from the Show-Me State. Maybe he and AOC and Tlaib and the rest of the Squad can reach across the aisle, find some more real progressives whose constituents are the working class and not the people who pay those relatively tiny bribes to get trillion dollar favors in return… They have a nice model for how to play the politics in the form of the Freedom Caucus, who by intransigence managed to parlay their 30 odd members into a force that several times threatened to stop the government, shut it down, back when anti-deficiency required an act of Congress to “raise the debt ceiling” due to fat cat tax cuts and military looting…

            Bezos was going to call his monster “Relentless,” but I guess that sounded to, ah, monstrous. Too bad the few representatives of a progressive bent can’t stop being nice to their fellow legislators and be relentless in using the machinery in favor of the mopery…

        2. Yves Smith

          Up to a point. Not if you have funny proportions. Shirts, sweaters, jackets, yes, but pants, fuggedaboudit. Admittedly I make that a bit harder by wearing only back on the bottom to simplify everything else. One of my pairs of jeans is so worn as to be beyond repair (unless I go for the 70s patch look) and the other is getting there….

          1. polecat

            Some patches from that ‘era’ were super bad !

            There has got to be some enterprising youngins who have the gumption to carry-on with the patch baton, in this age of depletion.

            Me thinks, in light of prevailing circumstances, that it would be a big hit ! Just gotta keep those unicorns at bay.

    2. D. Fuller

      The more important problem IF reshoring were to occur? Skilled workers are no longer abundant. Don’t use it (skill), lose it. It’s not simply a matter of retooling. It is a matter of retraining – which takes (depending on the industry) years. Business MBA’s, CEO’s and Board Members, live with a dream: “If you build it, they will come”. If you simply say it, it will happen. One of the worst cases of this effect V.C. Summer nuclear project in South Carolina which was finally abandoned. The big part of their problem besides utter mismanagement?

      The nuclear reactor vessels. They contracted with some no-name company that employed welders who simply did not have the experience. The welds on the nuclear reactor vessel were substandard and did not pass inspection.

      If you order it (reactor vessels), they will come. No thought was given to all the other considerations that go into actually assembling a reactor vessel. To many CEO’s and MBA’s simply lack the knowledge and experience to properly plan and execute tasks. Hence, the bailouts are there to save them from their own incompetence.

      As for reshoring? Not much will happen. After the crisis, China will still be manufacturing. Some manufacturing will be shifted to lower cost countries since wages in China have been going up steadily over the last decade.

      In a crisis, Wall Street and Corporations feed at the Government trough with bailouts and The Federal Reserve backstopping them (ultimately the taxpayer pays for it). After, business as usual. Thus allowing them to minimize reshoring.

      It is the Ultimate in Moral Hazard in those very same CEO’s who berate average Americans that it is their moral duty to pay their debts and not be welfare recipients. Even as those same CEO’s are the recipients of the largest welfare program in history, while bailing on their debts. Are the bailouts, Socialism? No. Are the bailouts fascits? Absolutely.

  5. Laughingsong

    Has anyone received their relief payments yet? I talked with one person who had.. we haven’t and more to the point, my crafter friends who really, really need it haven’t either. Venturing a bit to the foily side, the one recipient voted republican….

    1. barefoot charley

      Two allotments appeared in our bank account last week–shazam!! A friend theorized it’s because we typically get tax refunds from our estimated quarterly payments, so the pipeline was in place.

      1. barefoot charley

        And not to crinkle your foil, we not only don’t vote for game show hosts, we live in California.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        We got ours too, a week or so ago. We have the federal refund direct deposited every year and people in that situation were supposed to get the funds earlier which turned out to be true.

        Neither me or my spouse has ever voted Republican.

      1. ambrit

        We’re in the same leaky boat. Both get SS payments, direct deposited to our bank account. We also file taxes every year, even though we didn’t get any refunds the last two years, with the same bank routing numbers as Social Security.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Same here, though I didn’t check today. They SAY they’ll use the direct deposit info for SS, but not seeing it yet.

          1. ambrit

            Check the irs.gov site daily. We got in today. The blurb said that we were eligible, but that we had to re-input the bank routing number and account number. Otherwise, the blurb said that the irs would mail a paper cheque. So, past performance is no indicator of present capability. (I wonder if the different department data bases are using incompatible programming languages?)
            Take nothing for granted.
            Good luck!

    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      I have not, but the only people I know who have received direct deposited federal tax refunds in the past few years.

    3. shinola

      Wifey & I received paper check in the mail today. (Single check for 2,400 payable to both of us – curious).

      We both receive SS by direct deposit & file tax return* but no longer pay any income tax (not enough income).

      *have to file to receive “homestead” credit from the state available to “elderly” homeowners.

    4. The Historian

      No, I haven’t gotten mine yet, but this year I owed taxes instead of getting a refund, so I don’t expect to see a check for a while.

    5. TalkingCargo

      I just checked the IRS website (https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment) today and mine will be paid shortly. I think it took a while because I didn’t file til 4/15. Also, if I hadn’t gone to the website I probably would have had to wait for a check because for some reason they didn’t have my bank info. This despite the fact that they have deducted my payment from my checking account the last 2 years. Just guessing but that may be because I used the IRS free file software. I noticed on the tax return printouts that my bank info didn’t appear even though I entered it. Also, they didn’t have the data from my 2019 return and I had to enter AGI and amount paid from my 2018 return.

    6. mtnwoman

      Nope, no relief payment. I owed taxes this year but I did pay back in Feb 2020.

      Did get the $600 from DC unemployment. x1.

  6. Michael McK

    I have heard nary a word about the leftist who made it to the run-off against Pelosi, Shahid Buttar.
    If AOC were to rally the troops around him, even if he got only 30% of the vote that could send a chill down the right spines and prove the people’s leverage. Sadly, she does not, thus far, seem that sort of radical :(. Lamenting the state of affairs on MSNBC is worthless when she did not stand beside Thomas Massie for a role call vote, and you can’t hear a female voice screaming “No!” in the voice vote. The borg has everything they want, no new supplemental will have systemic reform.
    Of course she is better than the hack being run against her but you, yes you, individually and collectively, must do more because she ain’t doing it for you.
    As long as the Dem leadership is not held to account the nation will keep moving deeper into inverted Fascism.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      He was on Jimmy Dore’s show before the election. If he’s as good as his word, the usual suspects should be offering all the support they can. Of course they won’t.

      (Fun fact: in that JD interview, Shahid claims Pelosi is grooming her daughter to take over her seat when she finally vacates it! Oh joy!)

      1. HotFlash

        Mme Speaker is daughter and sister of Dem pols (Baltimore, no less!). So why not keep up the dynasty, er tradition?

        Per wiki:
        When Nancy was born, her father was a Democratic Congressman from Maryland (and he became Mayor of Baltimore seven years later). Pelosi’s mother was also active in politics, organizing Democratic women and teaching her daughter the value of social networking.Pelosi’s brother, Thomas D’Alesandro III, also a Democrat, was Mayor of Baltimore from 1967 to 1971.[12]

      1. JTMcPhee

        He would love a campaign contribution from each of us who have a “thing” about Pelosi. My BernieBucks are now going to him.

      2. CoryP

        His interview on Useful Idiots was great. It’s refreshing to hear a politician actually sound intelligent and talk about things I care about.

  7. lyman alpha blob

    Nice to see nationalization getting a shout out. The oil and healthcare industries would be nice. Banking too.

    M4A was getting some traction and then we have Biden bleating about “public option” instead. But for me and many others, M4A is the compromise. Much better would be a true national healthcare system, with hospitals owned and workers paid by the government.

  8. Robert Hahl

    “Finally, after days of flirting with 1.0 (no increase) New York reaches it.” But 168 new confirmed cases is still positive growth and (I guess) statistically different from zero growth.

  9. Moelicious

    I think yesterday’s NYS virus data was wrong. Huge vertical spike downward in new cases per day (from 5,000 to 168) and huge spike up in deaths per day (from ~350 to 1,500). Way outside the typical numbers.

    1. curlydan

      That’s what I was thinking, too. New York new confirmed cases/day were at or above 4,500 cases per day for 31 days straight, and then to go from that to 168 seems just too unlikely to be true. I guess we’ll see tonight.

  10. Laughingsong

    “lasagna mulch”

    I read the author as saying both sheet mulch (“cover your weeded area”) and lasagna mulch, but I agree the difference could have been punched up more..

    Most of my yard is sheet mulched and I put more down every winter. However this past winter we lasagna mulched a large-ish area that grass had taken over, did two sets of cardboard-mulch-soil, then threw out a bunch of native wildflower seeds, then a last thin layer of soil then mulch so the birds wouldn’t eat them all.

    If we get the desired wildflower “meadow “ I’ll send a plantidote

      1. Laughingsong

        Very cool, thanks AZ Slim. I am finding it does help. The previous owners of our house didn’t amend some areas of the yard so we have been mulching it more than other areas and we think it’s starting to pay off. I never really gardened before this home (we bought in 2011) so every bit of info helps.

  11. Toshiro_Mifune

    What’s Animal Crossing? Do I care? A cute game about… well, animals, and fishing and farming. I prefer Stardew Valley… which I tots bought for my daughter and not me …. yup.

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Fortnite fo sho! Played 4 hrs online with my 11 yr old lil bro last weekend. Prolly won’t check out Travis Scott.

      Animal Crossing? Hard Pass.

  12. Lambert Strether Post author

    I really couldn’t bear to pull on my yellow waders, but I did read the transcript of the Trump’s presser, since hysterical hatred has completely consumed my Twitter feed, and made some comments on it. Please refresh your browsers.

    1. TB14

      The hysteria combined with news that Summers is coming back has really ruined my day. Like you said it’s Obama 08 team all over again and handling what I imagine will be a longer and worse crisis than 2008. Summers probably has the spreadsheet all layed out to figure how many he can throw overboard this time.

      Meanwhile people are just getting caught up in the guy who throws out third grade ideas all the time throwing out another in a way he knows won’t stick (“well I said supposedly”). It’s all we can process. Spectacle. Can’t even get my family to look away.

        1. ambrit

          Why, Hillary “Decepticon” Clinton, who else? This is looking like an ‘ancien regime’ wet dream already.

    2. Geo

      Lambert, why do you love Trump so much? /s

      Seriously though, good analysis. Thank you. Nice to get a rational take since I can’t be bothered to listen to the actual speech.

      1. Carolinian

        LOL. I notice two of Trump lover Lambert’s links are to Comcast affiliated outlets. Perhaps the question is why do they hate Trump so much? Bringing Covid into the DemRepub pie fight makes it hard to know what to believe.

        Meanwhile in my middle class-ish neighborhood people seem to be enjoying their extended vacation with the kids. They probably aren’t paying much attention to the DC insanity.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Meanwhile the Comcast CEO raked in 20million$$$+….

          Lambert Loves Trump!


          I for one await the uniting of the Hard Left and Right over Economic Issues sans StupidPOL…

      1. lambert strether

        No. People are poisoning themselves because of the reporting on the prssses, which is, as I show, not accurate.

        1. Monty

          It wouldn’t suprise me if that Fish Tank Chloroquine poisoning in AZ was just made up from whole cloth. It was all based on the testimony of “the wife” who was never shown, and wanted to remain anonymous. They heard Trump talk about HQC, and took a massive dose of fish cleaner, just in case? Really? Have you ever seen any follow up? Most likely some Democrat rat multiplying going on!

          1. The Rev Kev

            That Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity went looking for studies about the toxicity of Chloroquine as there are a lot of bad press reports recently about it. He found a pre-pandemic WHO report which went through the literature and stated that after hundreds of millions of doses have been administered, that no reports of sudden death have been reported but there was some heart arrhythmia. My Spider-Sense is tingling about all these bad reports. I could guess why but I would have to buy some more tin-foil first.

            1. CoryP

              As a pharmacist I never understood the big deal here. They’re not completely safe drugs. Specifically with HCQ cardiac rhythm can be a problem, and If you’re unlucky chloroquine can cause some freaky psychological problems that usually (but not always) go away upon discontinuation .. but if you take an overdose large enough to kill your self I don’t see how you can blame this on your idiot president.

              I mean. If people are going to be gargling bleach or whatever they’ve gotta take some responsibility. Smh

              1. monty

                5 grams is supposed to be the fatal dose. The fish pills come in 25mg tablets. You have to eat 20 to kill yourself. Who eats 20 pills with an intention other than suicide? Absolutely preposterous!

                1. John Anthony La Pietra

                  I think that’s 200 . . .

                  5 grams = 5,000 mg

                  5,000 mg ÷ 25 mg/tablet = 200 tablets

    3. dcblogger

      Trump is engaging in obviously bullshit theories on how to combat the virus to deflect attention that not only has he failed the country, but is actively sabotaging state’s attempts to procure ventilators and PPE for their hospitals. It is not hysteria, it is well justified anger.

      1. lambert strether

        Those are separate issues, obviously. As far as the transcript, it’s not a question of motive, It’s a question of fact. People don’t get to misreport out of feelings of anger.

        1. John

          Since any sane person has to try to interpret everything Trump says into the English language (because it’s almost always such a word mess) it wasn’t beyond the pale to interpret his crap fest yesterday as, inject some bleach.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > wasn’t beyond the pale

            Hard-working phrase, eh?

            Suppose I were speaking, and I said “Maybe that Democrat shit sandwich is a good idea” (abstract, metaphorical) and that got “interpreted” in reporting as “Go get a fecal transplant” (concrete, actionable) would that be “behind the pale” or not?

      2. Carolinian

        So is it your medical opinion that the course of this disease would have been different if someone else had been president?

        Just announced today–90 percent, not the previously announced 80 percent, of those put on ventilators in NYC didn’t survive.

        And while it’s true that some medical personnel who are not old and already sick have fallen victim, it could be that has less to do with PPE and more to do with the overwhelming numbers of victims in places like New York. Being around Covid patients day long may give the medical staff an extra powerful “viral load.” I read that in Italy 100 doctors had died.

        Some day the true story of what is happening will be ferreted out. I doubt that we know it now.

        1. The Rev Kev

          ‘So is it your medical opinion that the course of this disease would have been different if someone else had been president? ‘

          That would make an interesting thought experiment that. What I mean is to imagine if different past Presidents were President now. What if you had an Eisenhower in office right now? How would they have handled it? Or Kennedy. Or Grant.

          1. Carolinian

            That’s a little too hypothetical since you are picking different eras as well as different presidents. However we can compare the US to other countries during this particular era and there Trump doesn’t look so bad assuming Trump is the major variable (which I don’t). Our deaths per 100k are no worse than most of Western Europe.

            There was a PBS Frontline this week called A Tale of Two Washingtons which talked about “Patient number one” being in Seattle, the CDC fumbling with the early tests, etc. The choice of Seattle as the launchpad could be seen as a way of pointing the finger at Trump for somehow not putting a finger in the dike and stopping the whole thing there. But of course that was never going to happen since the real gasoline on the fire seems to have been NYC and its airport and infected people coming here from Europe (in SC the first announced patient that I know about had been in Italy). There was never any way to stop it. And the medical system doesn’t seem to have been overwhelmed except in a few hotspots like New York. Certainly it hasn’t been overwhelmed where I live.

            There’s plenty of time for the Dems to pull out their blame cannons before the election. Perhaps they should stop popping off prematurely.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Actually I have no dog in the fight about the two American political parties – one if you want to be honest. What I do care about is competence and neither party has covered themselves with glory here. When you consider the lack of standards issued by the CDC, the general lack of direction, the theft of medical supplies by the Federal government from the States, the imposition of ‘market’ solutions instead of a central solution which has led to a dog eat dog response throughout America, the lack of the adoption of overseas best practice, etc., etc., etc. then no other country is seeking to copy America’s response to this pandemic. Sorry, but this is the truth.

              The hard truth is that America is only at the start of the general pandemic and we are all still going through the first wave. In a few more days there will have been over a million cases in America and already there have been over 52,000 killed by this virus. With some States opening up early, they will become the new reservoirs of the virus as the one in New York burns itself out. If people think that this is all going to be over by Christmas, well, it is not going to happen. We are all in this for the long term. I have checked the figures for South Carolina and you guys are looking good at the moment but I see ten States where they have lost over 1,000 killed. So it does not matter who is a Democrat or who is Republican – Coronavirus does not care and will take them all.

          2. John Anthony La Pietra

            If enough of the people who didn’t vote in 2016 had voted Green, we’d have a medical doctor in the Oval Office (with credentials in both scientific method and skepticism of Big Pharma).

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > So is it your medical opinion that the course of this disease would have been different if someone else had been president?

          Two words: Larry Summers.

          (This is not a medical opinion. It’s a political question, and none the worse for that.)

    4. D. Fuller

      I’m not amazed that some people (opponents of Trump) still haven’t figured out that Trump will throw it inane things just to watch his opponents go insane over it. They still have not learned from 2016. It is such a basic and tired tactic and yet, the Pelosis and Schumers of the world still fall for it.

      There is a sucker born every day, that con men like Trump know how to hook. It’s his bread and butter, those suckers. Except that the Pelosis and Schumers weren’t born today. They should have learned by now.

      Sanders is correct. You don’t beat Trump by playing his game by his rules. Establishment Democrats can’t learn that lesson.

      1. ambrit

        I would add to that that Sanders doesn’t get to beat Trump by playing by the DNC’s rules, either.

      2. Tom Doak

        Pelosi isn’t born again every day, although I’m sure she has looked into it. She just keeps making the same error. She’s the Bud Abbott of politics.

    5. Dirk77

      Reading the transcript, Trump to me is merely thinking out loud. Which is what you do at brainstorming sessions: you throw out crazy ideas and see how they do. The idea of applying UV light inside the lungs is an interesting application based upon the evidence that UV kills the virus on surfaces. I can think of many reasons it won’t fly, some possibly based upon my own ignorance as I’m not a physiologist. But he gets credit for being interested enough in a solution to come up with it all. You can argue that a President should confine any brainstorming or vetting of his thoughts to talks with his advisors before speaking public on anything. But so what? Only actions matter. And the disinfectant idea? No, but it is interesting as a metaphor. Perhaps that train of thought leads right back to a vaccine. But again, so what? It’s as if the people condemning him have never had a hunch that turned out to work. Jesus. Thanks for posting the transcript, Lambert.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Reading the transcript, Trump to me is merely thinking out loud.

        You can argue that Trump should not be doing that. (Please don’t make me go look up examples of other Presidents thinking out loud.) That’s what Trump does.

        But that’s not the dominant talking point The dominant talking point is “Trump told people to drink bleach.” That’s not true.

    6. Jeremy Grimm

      You might want to get an upgrade on your yellow waders for entering the murky pools of ever deeper muck — something along the lines of helmet diving gear as shown in Disney’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”. Of course you will also need an area with a large floor drain and a good quality easily changed filter where you can hose off and follow that with another area where you can hose down with disinfectant before leaving your diving suit and going to a sequence of decontamination showers.

  13. TB14

    “What’s Animal Crossing? ”

    It’s a video game, though not an action packed one. You’re basically plopped I’m a piece of land and can play in the “sandbox” as it were. Interact with animal villagers,catch fish and bugs, harvest fruit, and decorate your home/island and player character. There is also a play with friends functionality that’s being shown off here.

    Basically a pared down version of a life simulator with that adorable Nintendo sheen.

    “Do I care?”

    Eh probably not if you have some other hobby you find relaxing. Its prominence is with a certain age band for which it evokes nostalgia. (The first one came out in 2001 when a millennial may have been 11 or something). Nintendo has something along to a Disney model in that way.

    And if you don’t have a switch that means you’re shelling out like 360$ for one game.

  14. Toshiro_Mifune

    “Decorah Eagles” (live cam)

    This is pretty sweet. The mother eagle was feeding he young who are now all sleeping.

    1. crittermom

      I loved this link. Many choices to watch. Especially nice for those of us who are yearning for nature while stuck in a ‘desert’ between 2 mountain ranges (as the surrounding crop circle fields are currently being plowed in preparation for planting–most likely potatoes).

      Between the unrelenting wind & dust, that link offers a wonderful escape.

      Thanks, Lambert!

    2. KB

      Hey, a fellow watcher for almost 10 years….also, the DNR Minnesota nest, Hutchinson now down, 2 Florida nests, and previously a Wisconsin nest…..yep, I’m a crazy bird lady…
      Also have a mated pair that visits me live, LOL, across the street and perch on a water tower….
      Bald eagles are my favorite after my dogs…..

  15. occasional anonymous

    “What’s Animal Crossing? Do I care?”

    At its core it’s a town building simulator with a cutesy aesthetic, but there’s a bunch of other stuff layered on top of that central concept. Basically you just help build a town and wander around it doing…stuff. Various activities like fishing, and then lots of interactions with the townspeople (who are all anthropomorphized animals), who have their own AI and schedules. A key gimmick is that time and the activities of the townspeople advance in real-time, even when the game is turned off. So you can not play for a day or two and return to find that things have changed. There’s no actual end goal or objective. It’s an extremely laid-back experience.

    It’s a long running franchise that is nearly twenty years old and was probably destined to be a big seller anyway, but it landed just before all the widespread quarantines, and has enjoyed not just the boost that all video games are getting, but probably benefited from being a kind of social simulator. It’s become a massive seller (millions of physical copies worldwide. I couldn’t find the exact figure, but more than the combined total of all the previous franchise sales), and has sold a massive five million digital copies on top of that, in just a month, which is the most of any game ever.

    The multiplayer aspect in this latest one is that AI controlled versions of other people’s player characters can join your town (but not other players themselves, probably out of fear of assholes trying to mess up player’s towns).

  16. Milton

    In Jeffrey St Clair’s today Roaming Charges there’s this troubling nugget: In New York City, more transit workers (84) have been killed by coronavirus in the past month than all of the NYPD police shot and killed in the past 40 YEARS…
    If this is true, then this makes what Andrew Cuomo said-about people should become essential workers if they are concerned about not being able to work-more disturbing than anything that Trump has uttered post CV-19.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      They are the same guy. Cuomo just went into politics earlier, but its the same vile person.

    2. rowlf

      Good reminder that I forgot to read Jeffrey St Clair today. Like a lot of things I read I don’t always agree but I like to figure out why.

    3. HotFlash

      Do Postie lives matter? Do Transit workers lives matter? And when does Texas start executing corporations?

  17. Hank Linderman

    I have to respectfully disagree with Lambert on Trump’s light and disinfectant statements, hopefully I’m doing it properly.

    I don’t remember where I saw it, but there was a story about using infra red light on humans to treat the virus – the warning was DON’T!

    Wait, here it is: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200327-can-you-kill-coronavirus-with-uv-light?fbclid=IwAR1T1yU5aGNmoQew2bpZC4UwSCM8MsUcZL3rhEMNXrdvFKy5LPYt5J9owBU

    My problem with Trump’s blue-sky discussion about possible uses of disinfectants in diseased lungs is that despite his qualifiers, this sort of talk is inappropriate and irresponsible on live tv in the middle of a pandemic, especially by a President that has made one bad decision after another. It telegraphs that he has no idea what he is doing, while *experts* are forced to stand by imitating potted plants rather than speak up.

    In a brainstorming session, his comments are completely appropriate – you want every idea on the table, even the ones that sound crazy, like injecting disinfectant into a patient’s lungs. (“…And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning…) Wacko ideas, like this one, can inspire new lines of thought. In that case, after the new idea is developed and implemented successfully, long after the problem is solved – maybe then it’s time to tell the “VHS Behind The Music” version of events.

    And as far as the qualifiers, *maybe*, *it would be interesting* and so on, *maybe* they are just a bunch of bs. “I didn’t say you should slit your own throat, I only said it would be interesting if you slit your own throat.” How exactly would/should the media cover that statement?

    Aren’t qualifiers like Trump’s just another rhetorical trick to avoid responsibility and unfairly debate?

    Zero offense intended Lambert…


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Trump’s blue-sky discussion

      Now I’m gonna have to read more of these frigging things to find out what the genre is; I would bet there’s plenty of blue-skying going on, and if it’s clear that’s what it is — and I think the transcript makes it clear that’s what’s going on — then people can apply the proper discount. And if the press isn’t willing to, that’s on them. If they had applied the proper discount to Obama, maybe he wouldn’t have conned us.

      > while *experts* are forced to stand by imitating potted plants rather than speak up.

      On the one hand, I’m very happy at the science done world-wide, which seems creative and generous; “science is popping,” as Gibson says. On the other, our own experts, including the CDC in this crisis, haven’t exactly covered themselves with glory, in any crisis, have they? Yes, there’s a power dynamic going on where Trump puts the “experts” in their place, but besides the ego boost for him, our professional managerial class of experts — painting with a very broad brush — have proved themselves corrupt and incompetent. Dear Lord, ObamaCare! Of course, those experts form the Democrat base, and most journalists regard themselves as of that class, so that power dynamic is clear as well.

      1. marym

        Unnamed “administration officials” seem to support your interpretation that Trump was briefed on external uses of light and disinfectant, and went on with ad-libbed but not unreasonable (for a non-expert) musings (though today he said he was being sarcastic).

        I agree with HL above and GJ below that he shouldn’t be doing this musing in public. I also think it’s not just a question of not being an expert, or putting official “experts” in their place. He’s been president > 3 years. Plenty of time to hire or consult with other experts, but he hasn’t done that.

        He’s much more intrigued with a miracle cure and the resulting PR than anything public health experts have to offer. That’s on him, though the press coverage doesn’t get us there.


    2. General Jinjur

      I was just a participant in a family discussion of this. The final comment which stopped conversation was that Trump should have pointedly said not to try it on one’s own because, as he’s said, he loves the poorly educated.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m not sure that it would stop conversation at my table. “Don’t try this at home” would be good tagline. A responsible press would have added it — would certainly have added it for Obama — since the transcript makes it perfectly clear Trump wasn’t proposing anything concrete enough to be actionable. Drinking Lysol is actionable, because the substance is named. So if anybody does that, that’s on Pelosi, who mentioned the actual product.

        Maybe the starting point could be that the press could report accurately what Trump said?

        1. General Jinjur

          I watched the video, so I heard what he said. What you wrote about press coverage and their treatment of Obama is correct, and you rightly criticized Pelosi, but those are separate afaic from what is the President’s responsibility in outreach to the public.

          Trust me, our family has every kind of political viewpoint and politician cheerleader—even someone as indefatigable as you might not have endured the whole conversation. ; )

        2. Tomonthebeach

          As long as Trump keeps talking about medical matters, he is putting people at risk of illness and death. Trump’s mouth makes our nuclear missile capability look like cap pistols. He is wasting medical research resources hastily diverted to demonstrate that Trump cures do not work or at least will not kill you. An article in JAMA today by Borba et al. merely proved that Chloroquine Diphosphate will not kill you (if you keep it below 400MG/day – >600mg, ehhh). It did not establish effectiveness for COVID-19 – just that at an adjunct with other drugs its would be safe to use. Alas – there are other studies going on.

          Hopefully most Americans over age 8 will be smart enough not to go slug down a class of 409, Windex, or Lysol without reading the warning on the label.

          1. a different chris


            It’s unimaginable why he even goes off like that. Why is he even speculating on possible cures out loud in a press conference? That. Is. Not. His. Job.

            Talk about what you are supposed to know (ok, he doesn’t actually know anything except manipulation of the stupid but pretend anyway) . Bring us up to date on the problem itself, the locational distribution of said problem, the resources we do or do not have, and who is working on which of the above. And get off stage to go back to ….

            Oh. I see the problem. He has nothing to “go back to”.

    3. MarkSparky

      NO, no, and no.
      A national political figure needs to understand that many uneducated and under-educated folks will be watching and listening. Simplicity and clarity are important so the message isn’t garbled or misunderstood. Trump isn’t capable of either, and as a result if if often dangerously understood, as well as misunderstood. It’s his responsibility.

  18. CuriosityConcern

    Lambert, I don’t love Trump either ffs, but I was told when asked, why are there uv lights in the hospital cafeteria, they kill germs.
    If you find yourself in a hospital cafeteria, you will probably see a uv light fixture near the ceiling on one of the walls.

    1. jo6pac

      Yep, and UV is also used in clean water systems from pools to drinking. In Tracy, Calif they use UV for city drinking. No chlorine.

      In large resort pools they use this also.
      Please don’t stare at UV not good for your eyes.

      1. rowlf

        Airbus A350s use UV lamps in the potable water tanks. Blew me away as aircraft water system sterilization and testing has been a big program the last twenty five years.

    2. sd

      UV lighting kills coronavirus, scientists confirm

      …indoor rooms can be disinfected with UV light of over 1.5W/m3 used for half an hour.

      The exposure time should be increased if the room temperature is either below 20C or above 40C and relative humidity is over 60 per cent.

      However, the World Health Organisation urged citizens not to use UV to disinfect their hands, as the levels needed to disinfect surfaces were harmful to skin. […]

      Scientists have proved that wavelengths between 280nm and 300nm are germicidal and can be used for disinfection and sterilisation.

    3. KLG

      Laminar flow hoods used to culture vertebrate cells have UV lamps that are frequently turned on when the hood is not in use…with excellent sterilization results. But they are not on when the hoods are in use, the radiation is mutagenic to humans and cultured cells, to the extent the radiation penetrates liquid culture medium. Trump is virtually aliterate and unschooled, but he is not stupid. Meanwhile, I am getting bombed with memes from fellow members of the PMC. This kind of hysteria, which is only one strain of TDS, hurts Trump not.

      1. John

        I read Lambert’s parsing of Trump’s words. He explained it well. Giving Trump the benefit of the doubt this one time, to discuss and even appear to tout the use of disinfectants and UV light when you do not know what you are talking about is reckless. It is not the behavior of a responsible person much less of the President. Trump does not understand or does not care or has other motives when he thoughts and his mouth lead a life of their own. Some true believer could die from it.

    4. Phacops

      UV light acts to damage microorganisms by creating thymidine dimers when 2 thymidines are adjacent in nucleic acid sequence. The problem with using UV for sanitation is that when those thymidine dimers are exposed to light before replication errors destroy the organisms viability light reactivation may occur by repairing those dimers. That is why I consider that UV use provides good sanitation but is limited in sterilization capability.

    1. carl

      Oh wow! We were there in January. The waves were so big they drove the surfers out of the water at one point. Thanks for posting this. Puerto is a place I hope to be able to go back to some day.

  19. lyman alpha blob

    Biden says stupid recycled crap from four years ago, opening the door for Trump to slam it in his face –


    Joe Biden said Thursday that he believes President Donald Trump will try and delay the November election.

    “Mark my words, I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held,” the former vice president and apparent Democratic presidential nominee said during an online fundraiser.


    The Trump campaign issued a statement Friday, saying, “Those are the incoherent, conspiracy theory ramblings of a lost candidate who is out of touch with reality. Perhaps he also missed the news that the infamous Steele Dossier, central to the Russian Collusion Hoax, was likely compiled with Russian disinformation. That’s the real Russian collusion.”

    I don’t love Trump either. But Biden’s claim has no factual basis while Trump’s regarding Russia is in fact, true. And I just looked at MSDNC to try to get the original source for the link above and noticed all kinds of warnings against chugging Lysol and similar stupidity. I swear the Repubicans must be laughing their asses off. Trump continues to own these morons. How pathetic do you have to be to continually let that happen?

  20. Lambert Strether Post author

    So now we have this: Revealed: leader of group peddling bleach as coronavirus ‘cure’ wrote to Trump this week.

    I wanted to add verbiage about Trump being adjacent to the loony natural cures contingent on the right, but couldn’t formulate the wording. Oh well!

    From the above link:

    Trump went on national TV at his daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on Thursday and promoted the idea that disinfectant could be used as a treatment for the virus. To the astonishment of medical experts, the US president said that disinfectant “knocks it out in a minute. One minute!”

    No, he didn’t. Read the qualifications larded into the transcript, which the Guardian left out. You can bet they weren’t in the letter Trump got.

    I dislike the loony natural cures contingent. I really dislike that the press doesn’t report accurately. Who has more power and does more damage?

    1. flora

      So…wait… Is T now doing olde-timey style TV shows at his pressers? You know, back when TV shows were broadcast live without interuptions. The talk show host or quiz show host or news reader would pause to do a commercial for a product himself on set, no break in the broadcast.

      “Hi. President T here, coming to you live with today’s broadcast of “This is the World Today, Today” show, brought to you by our sponsor Product X. ”
      Midway through the show he delivers the commercial patter: “Have you ever wondered about Product X? What if Product X could cure dandruff? I’ve heard X can cure dandruff, isn’t that right? It’s a possibility, right”?

  21. Lambert Strether Post author

    Trump claims disinfectant remarks were ‘sarcastic question to reporters’ New York Post. The latest transcript isn’t out yet, so I shouldn’t opine.

    “When I was asking a sarcastic — a very sarcastic question to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside, but it does kill it, and it would kill it on the hands and that would make things much better. That was done in the form of a sarcastic question to a reporter,” he continued.

    Not in the portion I quoted, certainly. There may have been byplay with reporters later: I don’t have time to look into it now. Not that Trump wouldn’t have mind-f*cked reporters, but based on the transcript I quoted I don’t think he did. Any more than usual, I mean.

    1. Hank Linderman

      I’m pretty sure that was an inappropriate use of the word “sarcastic”…

      Forgive me if you already understood; my use of “blue-sky discussion” was meant to mean “brainstorming session”.

      1. Goyo Marquez

        Lambert: But doesn’t that undermine your argument in his defense. If President Trump’s defense is that he said said it sarcastically to the press wouldn’t that mean their interpretation was accurate?

        1. lambert strether

          No, why? I don’t think he was being sarcastic*. He just didn’t say what is being reported as saying.

          * Or ironic, or whatever. People misuse sarcastic a lot.

    2. teri

      No, he kept looking over at Birx while he was saying this bit about using UV inside the body and injecting disinfectant into the body. In the transcript, where he is saying, “I think you said that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it,” and again, “And I think you said you’re going to test that too”, he was speaking directly to Birx. It was most obviously NOT a sarcastic comment directed to a reporter.

      He then asked her and some other guy (can’t remember if he was a doctor or an admin guy from HHS or what) if they would be looking into these “remedies”. It was very clear he was suggesting the actual use of UV and cleansers inside the bodies of patients and, furthermore, that he was expecting affirmation from his experts. By the continuous eye contact with them and addressing them when he said “you’re” going to test it, he was including them as co-authors to the suggestions he was throwing out there and implying that they had taken part in some discussion about these ideas prior to the briefing.

      Sorry, but it wasn’t a sarcastic comment to a reporter, nor was it just a wacky Trump kind of thing that can be shrugged off because somehow we are all supposed to just mysteriously “know” when the dude is being silly and when he is being serious; it was a dangerous suggestion that he made in a serious tone, and his doctors up there at the podium with him should have been much more forceful in denouncing this sort of nonsense immediately – right then and there when it happened.

      I respectfully disagree with you on this one, Lambert.

      1. lambert strether

        The story is being reported, in so many words, as by Pelosi, that “Trump suggested people drink bleach.”

        That’s not accurate.

        1) Is it really too much to ask that reporting be accurate?

        2) If people drank bleach, that’s on the reporting, because that’s where the suggestion came from.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > the Dem estab has form

            Three years of 24/7 yammering about Russia and then it doesn’t even make the articles of impeachment. Nobody even talks about it anymore. “Never mind.”

            No reason to distrust the press, at all, at all. (I hate this, because I respect journalism and we need a press worthy of the First Amendment. This ain’t it.)

        1. Tom Bradford

          Agree that Trump didn’t directly suggest people drink bleach but my understanding of what he said is that he implied the concept of using ‘disinfectant’ (not bleach) as a ‘cleanser’ of the lungs was an idea worth looking into.

          Now you can argue intellectually that his garbled rider about researching it and getting input from a doctor qualified the suggestion, and that we ought to closely examine what he actually said via a transcript rather than just relying on what we thought we heard him say on tv over the sound of the neighbour’s hi-fi – or row with his wife – through the walls, but there are people out there who can’t afford a doctor and who are terrified that the sniffles they’re experiencing are going to kill them and their family, and so will try anything.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > there are people out there who can’t afford a doctor and who are terrified that the sniffles they’re experiencing are going to kill them and their family, and so will try anything.

            Wouldn’t it be great if somebody cared about those people! (Personally, I don’t think the Democrats do; the Lysol and Clorox memes look very much to me like another tiresome variation of “Republicans are deplorable and stupid and deserve what they get.”)

            > rather than just relying on what we thought we heard him say on tv over the sound of the neighbour’s hi-fi

            What they heard, I would bet, is not Trump’s presser, but the amplified reporting on it; cable news is designed to penetrate household noises, after all. The reporting explained what “try anything” means concretely: “Drink lysol.” The press is the story here, except in the press the press is never the story. I cannot recall a situation where, as I keep saying, the press are political actors at a tactical level, openly seeking to advance or retard candidates in reporting (not simply on the editorial page). Even Judy Miller was advancing a policy, not Bush personally. I don’t think we are equipped to see that, yet. Probably in the 18th and 19th centuries this was assumed, but I thought civilization had advanced beyond that point.

            > “Trump didn’t directly suggest”

            A very polite way of saying that the press and the liberal Democrats were fabricating. As usual.

      2. CanCyn

        I don’t love Trump, the press or the Dems but it seems to me that the truth about what Trump said is just as damning as the spin that the Dems and the press are putting on it. Perhaps the reporting of this is a case of damned if we do damned if we don’t and damned if we spin. I remember during the primaries leading up to the 2016 election wishing that the press would just ignore Trump. I often wonder what might have happened if he hadn’t got all that free publicity. Not that I believe that the world be much better if he’d stayed out of politics and stuck to real estate but I am completely and utterly tired of his antics and the way the Press and the Dems just enable him.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > the truth about what Trump said is just as damning as the spin that the Dems and the press are putting on it. Perhaps the reporting of this is a case of damned if we do damned if we don’t and damned if we spin.

          Sanders didn’t lie, and had the right framing. See second tweet here. Of course, why would anybody listen to him?

  22. dcblogger

    Serious question, why haven’t Schumer and Pelosi insisted on aide to states and localities? Because states are full of Governors, mayors, state legislators who could run primary challenges. You would think they would want to keep them happy. So who wants states to go backrupt? Is it some asset stripping conspiracy on the part of Goldman et al? Anyone with any ideas?

    1. Alfred

      The healthcare industry sees state bankruptcies as a way to cripple Medicaid? The for-profit education sectors see it as a way to reduce competition from public schools and colleges?

    2. allan

      Not claiming to be able to read other people’s minds (unlike some here),
      and so can’t be sure whether they are deluding themselves
      or just have complete contempt for the voters, but I think it’s the former.

      They and the rest of the “leadership” work and live in a bubble.
      They are just as far removed from the reality experienced by most Americans
      as Lloyd `God’s Work’ Blankfein
      or Steve `Eliminating the Carried Interest Exemption Would be Like Germany’s Invasion of Poland’ Schwartzmann. And through years of controlling the DSCC and DCCC,
      they have cloned themselves many times over.

      The Democratic Party Party is finished.

    3. flora

      From the Blumenthal – Norton interview with Michael Hudson post today:

      BEN NORTON: Well of course the Democratic Party is not the left.

      MICHAEL HUDSON: That’s right, but it pretends to be. And it has crowded out the left. You can see in the recent election primaries that its job is to protect the Republican Party from any critique by the left, interjecting itself in between the Republican Party and any possible reform movement.

      Makes as much sense as anything to explain the Dem estabs’ supine posture about the GOP run bailouts, imo.

      1. flora

        adding: the current Dem estab seems like the resurrection of the old Al Smith wing of the party.

        Smith became highly critical of Roosevelt’s New Deal policies, which he deemed a betrayal of good-government progressive ideals and ran counter to the goal of close cooperation with business. Smith joined the American Liberty League, an organization founded by conservative Democrats who disapproved of Roosevelt’s New Deal measures and tried to rally public opinion against the New Deal. The League published pamphlets and sponsored radio programs, arguing that the New Deal was destroying personal liberty. However, the League failed to gain support in the 1934 1936 elections and rapidly declined in influence. It was officially dissolved in 1940.Smith’s antipathy to Roosevelt and his policies was so great that he supported Republican presidential candidates Alfred M. Landon (in the 1936 election) and Wendell Willkie (in the 1940 election).

  23. FreeMarketApologist

    Note that the United States is not experiencing any good shortages. Canada, however, is (pasta).”

    Overall, perhaps not. I think there’s a lot of location specificity. My local grocery store, plus the three 30 miles away (all upstate NY) have had virtually no pasta on the shelves for the last 6 weeks. There’s been some restocking, but it goes very fast. All the carb basics as well (rice & flour).

    1. CanCyn

      I haven’t noticed a pasta shortage on my weekly supply outings (Burlington, Ontario) but I can vouch for the disinfectant shortage. Shelves are bare of any kind of disinfecting cleaner or wipe product. I don’t know if they arrive and get bought up quickly and my timing is bad or if they’ve just been out of stock since we were first locked down.

    2. HotFlash

      I’m in Toronto, got lots of pasta here, have had all along. One or two chain supermarkets were short on eggs at the beginning of the lockdown and rationing to two doz per shopper (really, how many eggs does one household need???) , within a week back to normal, buy as many eggs as you want. The little stores and health food stores, who buy local, free run, and/or organic eggs, were never short (I blame the Easter Bunny). Same with pasta, rice, beans and even (tada!!) toilet paper. 20 lb bags of rice and all types of beans, no problem.

      The reason may be that I live in a very walkable and multi-ethnic neighbourhood, a 150-yr old village that got swallowed by the metropolis but has been a traditional landing place for the waves of immigrants that have enriched our country and improved our cuisine. We still have our main streets with their little stores and many, many of my neighbours shop on foot or by bike. Can’t carry home 600 rolls of TP in a bundle buggy :) The stores with the big shortages were the ones with parking lots.

      1. RMO

        I live in the suburbs outside Vancouver (so we’re talking stores with big parking lots) and pasta certainly isn’t one of the things that’s been hard to find on shopping trips. Disinfectant wipes, Isopropyl alcohol, zinc supplements, gloves and masks are still frequently making the “out of” lists at the fronts of stores but even those items seem to be available occasionally again even when shopping in the afternoon. Toilet paper is still challenging to come by as are yeast and flour. Everything else seems easy to get without any special effort. Grocery stores are doing quite a bit to keep people apart and people are being pretty good at this too when they’re out and about.

        The family member of a friend caught Covid and ended up in need of a ventilator but fortunately recovered.

    3. Oregoncharles

      Haven’t tried rice, but got both spaghetti and white flour from the Co-op today. Organic, which is a separate supply system.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      This very good, and reminds me of Anthony Bourdain’s wonderful book. The whole industry seems lucky in that good food can serve — I suppose if you’re not a chain — as a sort of moral or even spiritual anchor.

    2. zagonostra

      Beautiful prose, very moving. I stopped reading the NYT because of their politics. Made me miss Sunday morning readings while drink coffee..Thanks,

  24. Synoia

    The 2020 baby box is out, which is provided by the state to all Finnish newborns for the next year.

    The US has a 2020 Baby Paper. The birth celebration medical bill$

    My son was born in a Kaiser Hospital, in the distant past. Bill? $1.00.

    My Daughter in Queen Charlot’s Hospital, after my wife stayed there for a month prior because of the “Small For Date” condition. Bill? What Bill? And we received a few prenatal visits to see if the house was fir for a baby, and after the birth to see how the mother was doing.

    It was, and might still be, the law in the UK does not consider a new mother legally sane for a period after childbirth.

    1. Wukchumni

      My mom is a great depression kid, save everything!

      A few years ago she gives me her mid 1961 to mid 1962 checkbook register, and my coming out party cost $190.

      I asked her if we had health insurance and she told me aside from Kaiser, there really wasn’t any.

      There are a series of checks to Dr. Evers-our family physician in the amounts of $6 & $7, with one whopper @ $14, for a total of $88 for a family of 5 for a year.

  25. diptherio

    “Note that the United States is not experiencing any good shortages. Canada, however, is (pasta).”

    I think you mean food shortages. Took me back for a minute, there…What’s Lambert got against pasta? lol

  26. kareninca

    I call BS on the supposed lockdown in California. I live in the Palo Alto area, and yes the roads right around here are much emptier. But I had to drive down El Camino to Redwood City to go to a medical supply store for something truly necessary. Once I got out of Palo Alto if I hadn’t known, I would not have noticed any difference in the traffic from usual!! The roads were still jammed!! I saw two open car washes, busy at work. A guy outside a tire store holding up a big sale sign (he was wearing a mask). The medical supply store was doing a brisk walk in business (it is true that other such stores are closed just now, so that likely helps them). Yes, the sit down restaurants were closed, but there are innumerable take away places that have big Open signs and have lots of patrons, at 2:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon.

    So maybe when the seventh trumpet sounds, and the big gulps of brimstone are pelting us, and maggots are coming out of our every orifice, then El Camino Real in Redwood city will have light traffic. But in the present pandemic, the Target and Safeway and Marshall’s parking lots are still full nearly to the brim.

    1. sd

      Take occasional Sunday drives. We noticed that parking lots are full during the day but empty at night so if we do have to go to the store’ we go after 7:00. Everyone seems to disappear once the sun goes down.

      1. ambrit

        Our local Bigg Boxx Stores all close around Eight PM now. So, shop in the day or do without.

  27. Fraibert

    Regarding Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s constituent services, it seems that they must have improved significantly from last year. In 2019, the New York Post ran several stories suggesting they were pretty abysmal:



    One might argue that the Post has a “conservative” leaning, but that still doesn’t change the fact that as of August 2019 her staff apparently was not reliably answering the phone when compared to the rest of the New York congressional delegation. Moreover, the Post report from August 2019 indicates that she had in fact blocked phone calls from area codes other than New York City and Washington, D.C., which by itself probably denied large numbers of actual constituents from calling her office due to the common use of cell phones with area codes unconnected with the owner’s actual residential location.

    Also, it took her a while to open any district offices, with her Jackson Heights (Queens) office opening in early March 2019. Her second office in the Bronx is apparently a shared space with a member of the New York State Assembly–a New York Post article indicates this must have opened after June 4, 2019 (https://nypost.com/2019/06/04/ocasio-cortez-is-the-most-frugal-of-all-new-yorks-house-members/). I seem to recall the explanation for the delay in opening a Bronx office was something along the lines of inability to find space (!).

    As New Yorkers can attest, travel between Queens and the Bronx is such that residents in one borough generally do not have convenient access to the other. In effect, this means that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez spent over half of 2019 having no practical way for her Bronx constituents, or their advocates, to have reasonable in-person access to any of her staff.

    i remember writing a comment on this very matter last year because the general sense I got is that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was facing a serious risk of not being re-elected due to weakness in local politicking. I’d be curious if any commenters have on the ground knowledge of these matters changing around significantly in late 2019 into this year.

    1. Tom Doak

      I dunni if Ms Ocasio Cortez’s constituents in The Bronx are as likely to have cell phones from other states as, say, your entourage may.

      1. Fraibert

        The New York 14th Congressional District includes Astoria, Queens (popular place for college students and young professionals due to more reasonable rents and easy access to Manhattan) as well as Roosevelt Island, which is fairly well off and attracts diplomatic workers due to close proximity to the UN. I am less familiar with the other neighborhoods but the district spans quite a few, so there is good reason to expect there to be significant numbers of constituents with cell phones from out of state.

    2. John

      Just pointing out the New York Post is owned by Murdoch.

      I trust nothing from a Murdoch “news” source.

  28. Larry Y

    Why Singapore is seeing an uptick – it’s not because of loosening it’s restriction, but several hundred thousand foreign migrant workers packed into dormitories. Crowded conditions, no sick leave, lack of healthcare, your basic marginalized population.

    Twitter thread at https://twitter.com/kixes/status/1253680119127830528 via John Robb. Also, the accompanying article at https://wethecitizens.substack.com/p/wtc-long-read-a-perfect-storm-for by Kristen Han.

    Also, they don’t have A/C – so much for heat and humidity…

  29. Hoppy

    Multiple threads and dialogue with Lambert on the Trump hysteria issue, so I am just going to start a new one.

    I have noticed this play out with many of my left leaning friends who by all accounts have TDS.

    Here is my advice for these conversations. Quit arguing about what Trump says!!!!

    If you want to argue about what a politician says, then sorry, but the liars exist in abundance in both parties and we are going to get nowhere until we get honest politicians. That’s never going to happen until we get money out of politics.

    In the meantime let’s focus on what politicians do, not what they say. There is plenty of meat there.

    1. Hoppy

      I am so pissed the more I think of this.

      I want more than a yay or nay vote on every bill. Why can’t we have more of a formal explanation from our representatives? I voted for this bill because I thought this benefit was super important even though I am concerned about this part of the bill. Here are the proc/cons of the bill in my opinion as your representative and why I voted this way.

      Bloviating on the floor is not good enough anymore.

      Can’t we have an app for this??

      1. CoryP

        Hear, hear! And I don’t even live in the US, but just feel this particular hype cycle is beneath consideration.

  30. Morgan Everett

    It’s the game that’s getting my wife through quarantine, and apparently a ton of other people as well. It’s pretty much puttering around the house and garden in game form. Naturally she was playing Stardew Valley prior to this. She has a type.

    1. CoryP

      Is that sort of like the indie spiritual offspring of Harvest Moon? Yeah, I could look it up. But. It seems like the all the cool gamers are plugging it.

      1. Morgan Everett

        Yeah, exactly. Never seen Harvest Moon played, but apparently the creator of Stardew Valley’s main inspiration was Harvest Moon.

  31. Jeff W

    “Thomas Frank brings the receipts”

    Well, Frank might bring the receipts but the quote is from Ron Susskind’s 2012 Confidence Men (p.197), which Frank credits in the footnote.

  32. Amfortas the hippie

    biden and summers
    sitting in a tree
    neither will ever get
    a vote from me

    just talked to my dad, in clear lake, texas…rather rich part of the Greater Houston Area…
    disbelief about our ongoing shortages of basic necessities.
    “everything’s fine”
    it’s not about the Judas Goat(Boomers)
    it’s about the (seemingly)total ignorance(“I do not know”) of that goat.
    Dad doesn’t see it.
    neither does my brother…part of the PMC…
    it doesn’t affect them too much…so it ain’t happening.(brother:”it’s an inconvenience”—arrrgh!)
    I hate getting calls from those people during this crises.
    lest i go off on a fiery class analysis.

  33. paulmeli

    If you extrapolate the Total Deaths graph (log scale) based the pre-lock-down trend we get a total of nearly 1 million deaths to date

    Even if that number is off by an order of magnitude a lot of lives have been saved.

  34. GERMO

    I know this is a late comment to be disagreeing with Lambert re the Trump disinfectant quote (I assume the issue is whether or not TDS avoidance is needed here?); I’ve been mulling it over all afternoon and here is my 2 cents.

    I think more serious than the slipperiness of highly “qualified” speaking (all bs artists in the business world use that kind of language habitually anyway) is this forest of pronouns. He produces a whole lot of “you”s especially, the referent of which seems to be shifting around. Who exactly is this “you”? Are there several “you”s? I feel like Trump’s base feel very much like he is “their” president and when he says you they feel personally addressed. But he’s basically so narcissistic that he seems to be able to say “you” the way he says “everybody” i.e., it all sort of means him, the center of all his thinking.

    So. Who’s this “you”?

    [TRUMP:] A question that probably some of you are thinking of if you’re totally into that world, which I find to be very interesting. So, supposedly we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light[1], and I think you said that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it. And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you’re going to test that too. Sounds interesting, right? And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that so that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me. So, we’ll see, but the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute. That’s pretty powerful.

    I can only conclude that this spiel was just more preposterously ignorance from someone who happens to lead the nation while being totally disinterested in the idea that there might be consequences to what he says. There’s no reason to examine his words more closely to show that “Trump says inject Lysol” is hyperbole. Sure it is. I’m no more impressed with the fact that he didn’t actually literally say those words than I was ten years ago on being informed what Obama’s various statements “actually meant” when you read the transcripts. Both these characters know how to give an impression but using non-actionable language.

    We aren’t obliged, actually, to pore over anything after the fact. We can, just as legitimately, affirm what impression is being given, and why. Obama wanted the left to have the impression that universal heath care was going to happen. Trump seems to want the base to think that a cure is right around the corner and that the economy, therefore, is going to come roaring back, with him at the helm. So what if in neither instance was either president literally promising anything of the kind?

    1. urblintz

      my partner, who death from of HIV resulted from a heart attack, successfully survived pneumocistis pneumonia (fungal not viral) and the treatment in 1995 (the specific medicine I do not remembe) was administered through inhalation. The year before he survived anaplastic lymphoma with cancer drugs through IV (Hickman catheter). Cancer drugs are often referred to as “poison.”

      I do not think it a stretch that an idiot like Trump would choose stupid language to ineloquently and yes incorrectly, describe processes which are, in fact, used all the time in modern medicine.

      My question is… who seriously listens to Trump for medical advice in the first place and whose fault is that?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > We aren’t obliged, actually, to pore over anything after the fact.

      “We” absolutely are obliged to “pore over anything after the fact.” That’s called reporting. If I want impressions, than I’ll go to the Met and look at Impressionist paintings, or read works of (legitimate) fiction.

      Here is a fine example of liberal falsification from one of the usual suspects:

      Note the equivocation in “the Lysol moment” (I suppose you might call it an impression). Trump, as I show, said no such thing. Those are Pelosi’s words, not Trump’s; Krugman puts Pelosi’s words in Trump’s mouth. Further, if anyone chugs Lysol, that’s on Krugman and Pelosi, et al., not on Trump. They are the ones who introduced the brand. (Think of this as a form of memetic contract tracing. Ditto Clorox.)

      Here is a fine example of left truth-telling and framing:

      As you can see, it’s possible to pillory Trump without lying about what Trump actually said.

      One can only wonder why liberal Democrat politicians and media assets translated Trump’s mushily qualified “blue sky thinking” into the clear and hard “Trump told you to drink Lysol.” Having done this kind of work before, in the Bush era, I would speculate that the concrete language and the actual branding make it more viral (and indeed my timeline is now inundated with clever memes with bottles of Lysol). That also means that any deaths or illnesses from ingesting that brand name are on Pelosi, other liberal Democrat propagators, and the press.

      I noticed in the Wisconsin (and Illinois) in-person voting controversy that liberal Democrats are careless with people’s lives. We can see it here, as their translation of Trump’s verbiage into pointed, actionable language caused collateral damage.

      1. Clive

        Don’t know about the Rest of the World, but here in the U.K. the mainstream media is now gearing up to drag this all into a second day’s news cycle. They’re even adding to it by going back to all Trump’s prior crimes and misdemeanours on medical responses. No doubt knowing a possible accretion disk when they think they see one.

        If the “won’t someone think of the poor sick people who might inject bleach” hand-wringing was genuine and sincerely meant, a responsible media would try to damp down this “misinformation”. Not keep at it by repetitive shoving it up the news agenda through meta-commentary.

        Oh, I’m doing that here, too, aren’t I? Donald Trump is a political sticky toffee wrapper.

  35. Ed Miller

    #COVID19: I just read this article in STAT, which I thought some here would like to see. It is written by a 3rd-year medical resident whose job is to contact those who tested positive. This is a gut wrenching assignment for a young person. Lots of people having tough times.

    “After spending hours on the phone delivering Covid-19 results and answering questions about them, I realized that the pandemic has led to a unique intersection between the law, medical problems, and preexisting social conditions.”


    Read all the way to the end for the personal impact.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Trump’s virus gaffes = polishing his stir-the-pot, anti-establishment credentials for his base

      I think it’s telling that what really ticks people off is Trump’s lack of deference to experts, i.e. to members of the professional-managerial class. But to Trump’s base, that’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing. (Personally, there are many individual experts that I respect, and as readers know, I spend a good deal of time ferreting out and highlighting their work. But taken collectively, the professional-managerial class cannot be said to have a good track record for public purpose over, say, the last thirty years, and certainly from the Obama administration onward).

      1. Off The Street

        But those are our experts, see, and we want you to validate us in the uni-PMC by kowtowing to listening to them.

        Isn’t that the type of theatre being acted out now? When is intermission?

  36. djrichard

    Ozone is a germicide just like UV-C spectrum light. And they happen to interact with each other. So who knows, maybe Trump was conflating the two together.

    It’s well known that UVC is dangerous to the surface of the human body. Don’t see how that changes inside the body.

    But Ozone does have a pathway into the body. Not through the lungs (at least not directly), that would be harmful to the lungs. But there are other ways into the body, through ensulfation and through autohemotherapy with blood. Ibiza is reporting some interesting results https://theibizan.com/ozone-therapy-proving-successful-in-covid-19-patients. And there’s thoughtful back-and-forth about it’s application to coronavirus here: https://www.researchgate.net/post/Can_we_cure_corona_virus_Chinese_Novel_corona_virus_infection_using_ozone_therapy

    The Feds recently came down hard on snake oil-like proponents of “ozone therapy” as a “cure” for coronavirus. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/04/24/coronavirus-ozone-therapy-falsely-touted-covid-19-treatment/3021728001/ . Heavy handed? They certainly have the press on board in the campaign against “ozone therapy”. But it seems to be treated more favorably in Germany, Cuba and other countries.

  37. Tommy S.

    As far as AOC staff reaching out, I know I live in a MUCH smaller district than that, but many of the SF city supervisors have been great, and forced the mayor to open hotel rooms after a month!! Anyway in district 9, Ronen sends out actually very informative emails. And people with her, and our usual amazing housing activists put flyers up all over the neighborhood. San Francisco is certainly weird, kinda like a political petri dish. I’ve lived in the Mission for 30 years, and we’ve always had very ‘left’ supervisors (Amiano is still a good person), but always developer ruled mayors and that most horrible congressional rep…you know who. I guess I’m saying Cuz even though an anarchist syndicalist, I’ve always voted locally and appreciated the battles here. Maybe cuz representative capitalism can only be somewhat ‘real’ if on a very small level, until corporate money/big capitalists will destroy it? That’s what I think….Once the handshaking , ride the same bus, show up a small meeting, face to face democracy is impossible……democracy in capitalism becomes impossible…..

  38. WheresOurTeddy

    “What’s Animal Crossing? Do I care?”

    It’s the game for people who think SimCity is too high-stakes

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