2:00PM Water Cooler 5/12/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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

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

Once again, “Default view is now new cases/day” which changes the graph, more optimistically, and perhaps more accurately. I thought I would contrast New York with the bottom 25 states (remember this is a logarithmic scale).

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See Vice, “How to Read the Coronavirus Graphs“:

Quantities that grow exponentially, when depicted on a linear scale, look like curves that bend sharply upward, with the curve getting constantly steeper. On a log scale, exponentially growing values can be depicted with straight diagonal lines.

That’s the beauty of plotting things on log scales. Plots are meant to make things easy to understand, and we humans are much more adept at understanding linear, straight-line behavior. Log plots enable us to grasp exponential behavior by transferring the complexity of constantly steepening curves into the simplicity of an exponentially increasing scale.

On a log scale, we want to constantly be making the line more and more horizontal. The general concept of “flattening” is still a good one, but it’s never going to curve down. And so what we should be looking, and hoping for is a trend toward horizontal.


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

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

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

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UPDATE Biden (D)(1): “MSNBC, CNBC founder: Biden ‘not ready for a prime-time election season’ against Trump” [The Hill]. “‘The bottom line is the candidate needs to be able to articulate a clear and convincing message, and particularly when it comes to the pandemic … [Biden’]s not there yet,’ [Tom Rogers, currently the editor-in-chief of Newsweek] continued. ‘And it pains me to say this, it really does, but his performance in being able to come up with a compelling narrative and a passionate storyline that really is ready for prime-time election season when it comes to talking about the legacy of Donald Trump, of mass death and economic collapse, he’s just not there yet.’ ‘His performances have been very unsatisfying and basically he’s been getting softball interviews with the exception of yours, Mika, on the sexual harassment issue,’ he added in reference to Brzezinski’s interview with the former vice president earlier this month regarding assault allegations leveled against Biden by a former Senate staffer. Rogers also argued that Biden has been helped by largely being out of the spotlight, given his performances, compared to the president. But as Election Day gets closer, the Democrat ‘will no longer be able to let Trump do the talking,’ he added.” • Thanks, Obama! (OTOH, the Democrats could just be trolling us. They nominated a ham sandwich, on the working assumption — or to test the assumption — that their base was so filled with hate for Trump (see Rachel Bitecofer) that literally any nominee will do. That should certainly increase their options in the future!

Biden (D)(2): “What Tara Reade Deserves” [The Atlantic]. “Even given the comparatively strict evidentiary standards applied to sexual-assault allegations, Tara Reade’s claim that Joe Biden assaulted her in the spring of 1993, when she was working as an aide in his Senate office, should be taken seriously. Voters and commentators don’t have to believe Reade’s story, but they do have a responsibility to weigh it carefully, and to treat it with solemnity. This is not happening. Surrogates, mostly women Democratic politicians who have endorsed Biden, have been tasked with cleaning up the mess. Their defenses have sometimes been pained….. Rank-and-file Biden supporters, along with the liberal and anti-Trump commentariat, have been much more aggressive in their attacks on Reade…. This kind of vitriol is supposedly justified by the moral imperative of denying Donald Trump a second term. But the argument that Reade’s allegations must be refuted lest the country reelect Trump is undermined by Trump’s presidency in the first place: If an allegation of sexual assault by the candidate were enough to fatally harm a campaign, Trump would never have become president at all. Meanwhile, survivors are seeing members of the political party that is more amenable to women’s rights disbelieve a story of assault, and smear the accuser—as if #MeToo had never happened.” • “More amenable” is doing a lot of work, there….

Sanders (D)(1): “Access to vaccines:”

Of course everyone won’t get the vaccine (to be fair, it might not be suitable for some populations, like children. But we don’t do universal).

* * *


“It looks like President Obama ordered up phony RussiaGate scandal” [New York Post]. “It’s now clear the Obama-Comey FBI and Justice Department never had anything more substantial than the laughable fiction of the Steele dossier to justify the “counterintelligence” investigation of the Trump campaign. Yet incessant leaks from that supposedly confidential probe wound up consuming the Trump administration’s first months in office — followed by the Bob Mueller-led special counsel investigation that proved nearly the “total witch hunt” that President Trump dubbed it.” • No lies detected. But: “Information released as the Justice Department dropped its charges against Gen. Mike Flynn shows that President Barack Obama, in his final days in office, played a key role in fanning the flames of phony scandal. Fully briefed on the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation, he knew the FBI had come up with nothing despite months of work starting in July 2016. Yet on Jan. 5, 2017, Obama told top officials who’d be staying on in the new administration to keep the crucial facts from Team Trump. It happened at an Oval Office meeting with Vice President Joe Biden, intel chiefs John Brennan and Jim Clapper and national security adviser Susan Rice, as well as FBI Director Jim Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. ‘From a national-security perspective,’ Rice’s memo afterward put it, ‘President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.’ This even as then-President Obama also directed that as many people as possible across his administration be briefed on the (utterly unsubstantiated) allegations against Team Trump — and as Rice and others took unprecedented steps to ‘unmask’ US citizens like Flynn whose conversations had been caught on federal wiretaps of foreigners.” • Benghazi tendencies in stuff like “unmask.” That said, the volume of leaks was obvious (besides being lucrative from Brennan, Clapper, and Comey. And the Cossacks work for the Czar. Interesting that Biden was present. And that Rice didn’t run for the Senate in Maine against Collins.

Obama Legacy


Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Gottheimer Helps Introduce Bipartisan HEROES Act to Give First Responders and Frontline Health Care Workers a Federal Tax Holiday During the Coronavirus Outbreak” [CBS]. • Of course. A tax break. The “Heroes Act.” [Family blogging] shameless.

UPDATE “Pelosi unveils $3T coronavirus aid package with $1,200 direct cash aid to individuals” [Associated Press]. ” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled a more than $3 trillion coronavirus aid package Tuesday, providing nearly $1 trillion for states and cities, ‘hazard pay’ for essential workers and a new round of cash payments to individuals… The so-called Heroes Act is built around nearly $1 trillion for states, cities and tribal governments to avert layoffs, focused chiefly on $375 billion for smaller suburban and rural municipalities largely left out of earlier rounds of aid. It will offer a fresh round of $1,200 direct cash aid to individuals, increased to up to $6,000 per household, and launches a $175 billion housing assistance fund to help pay rents and mortgages. There is $75 billion more for virus testing. It would continue, through January, the $600-per-week boost to unemployment benefits. It adds a 15% increase for food stamps and new help for paying employer-backed health coverage. For businesses, there’s an employee retention tax credit.” • The word “Rooseveltian” seems to have been dropped from the disourse — my post, unbelievably, is currently Google’s top hit — and for good reason. Under the New Deal, the balance of power between workers and capital changed in workers’ favor (due to worker agitation and organizing, not noblesse oblige, needless to say). Nothing of the sort happens in this shoddy yet expensive patchwork. Yes, it’s nice to have cash, but the benefits are not universal, the systems delivering the cash are sclerotic, and reinforcing employer-backed health insurance is just a bailout for some of America’s worse corporate actors. “Heroes,” forsooth. Every worker is a hero.

“Democrats Are Prepared To Lose The First Special Election Of The Pandemic Era” [HuffPo]. “National Democrats are now prepared to lose in a special election to replace California Rep. Katie Hill in Congress, a stinging defeat in a district Democrats flipped less than two years ago and where the party’s candidate has relentlessly hammered President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Absentee ballot returns and internal polling from both parties indicate that Mike Garcia, a GOP former fighter pilot and defense industry executive running with Trump’s endorsement, is now a clear favorite over Assemblywoman Christy Smith.” • Thanks, DCCC.

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.

Debt: “February 2020 Loan Performance: Delinquency Rates at Record Lows in February” [Econintersect]. “February marked the 26th consecutive month of falling annual overall delinquency rates. However, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to impact the economy, and claims for unemployment insurance reach record highs, homeowners are at an increased risk of becoming delinquent in the coming months — with the risk for borrowers in negative equity being even higher. While the share of homes in negative equity fell to 3.5% at the start of 2020, home prices are forecasted to slow drastically over the next several months, which could drive down equity. States with already high negative equity share, including Louisiana, Connecticut, Maryland, and Illinois, are most at risk for increases in delinquencies.”

Inflation: “April 2020 CPI: Year-over-Year Inflation Rate Slows to 0.3%” [Econintersect]. “According to the BLS, the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) year-over-year inflation rate was 0.3 % year-over-year (up from the reported 1.5 % last month). The year-over-year core inflation (excludes energy and food) rate declined from 2.1 % to 1.4 % and remains above the target set by the Federal Reserve…. The index for energy was the reason for the decline of the CPI-U. Medical care services cost inflation increased from 5.5 % to 5.8 % year-over-year.”

UPDATE Food costs: “US grocery costs jump the most in 46 years, led by rising prices for meat and eggs” [CNBC]. “The Labor Department reported Tuesday that prices U.S. consumers paid for groceries jumped 2.6% in April, the largest one-month pop since February 1974 The price of the meats, poultry, fish and eggs category rose 4.3%, fruits and vegetables climbed 1.5%, and cereals and bakery products advanced 2.9%. The grocery numbers stand in stark contrast to the broader trend in U.S. prices, which fell 0.8% in April and clinched their largest one-month decline since 2008.”

Small Business Optimism: “April 2020 Small Business Optimism Continues Two Month Slide” [Econintersect]. “Small business optimism took another dive in April, falling 5.5 points to 90.9, with owners expressing certainty the economy will weaken in the near-term, but expecting it to improve over the next six months. The Optimism Index has fallen 13.6 points over the last two months, with nine of 10 Index components declining in April and one improving.”

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Commodities: “Shale drilling pioneer Chesapeake Energy warns it may not be able to stay in business… as weak oil and natural gas prices imperil efforts to pay down its hefty debt. The problems at the Oklahoma City-based company follow the longtime natural gas supplier’s recent attempts to become a bigger player in oil” [Wall Street Journal]. “Chesapeake now is among dozens of U.S. shale firms facing possible bankruptcy a crude prices crash. Analytics firm Rystad Energy expects some 140 American oil and gas companies to file for bankruptcy protection this year at a U.S. benchmark oil price of around $20. The oil collapse has pushed the price of diesel across the country below $2.40 for the first time since October 2016, while world-wide prices for maritime low-sulfur fuel have fallen by more than half since February.”

Retail: “The man feeding a remote Alaska town with a Costco card and a ship” [The Hustle]. “[Gustavus, Alaska] had no electricity until 1985, and no phones until the mid-90s. To this day, no roads connect it to the outside world…. Parker did some work around town, scrounged together $3k, and began taking a state-subsidized ferry to Juneau, where he bought Costco inventory to resell in Gustavus at a small markup. As the store grew, Parker and his father launched their own freight company, purchased the town’s gasoline station, and bought two of their own ships — a $300k “insurance policy” that gave Parker tighter control over the supply chain in case of an emergency. During COVID-19, these preemptive moves have become crucially important.”

Shipping: ” Truckstop.com says its index of demand in the truckload spot market has expanded for three straight weeks, although it remains far below pre-pandemic levels” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “Port of LA chief: ‘We will need to reinvent ourselves'” [Freight Waves]. “[Port of LA Executive Director Gene Seroka] lived in China during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic. ‘I know firsthand what it is like to live through a viral episode such as we are in right now, but this may be 10 or 15 times greater than what I witnessed back in 2002 and ’03,’ he said during a video press conference. ‘The number of folks who have fallen ill, those who have perished, the closure of businesses, the closure of the United States economy throughout its 50 states in this union is something we have never witnessed before in our lifetimes. The levels of unemployment, the creation of funding from the United States Treasury, the federal government all the way down to the taxpayer is of epic level. The cost or price tag for SARS was estimated by economists at $40 billion U.S. during that time. This will be 10 to 15 times greater across the supply chain and its parallel businesses,” he said.”

Manufacturing: Drama queen:

And crook. Very on-brand for Silicon Valley.

Supply Chain: “Covid-19 crisis has laid bare weaknesses in supply chains” [Financial Times]. “For decades, a relentless focus on costs has led to supply chain concentration in low-cost countries, operating with just-in-time deliveries and tight inventories. This pandemic has highlighted that many companies were operating with insufficient buffers to absorb big disruptions… In addition to being too concentrated, global supply chains have become too complicated and opaque. Most supply chains resemble an entangled web of manufacturers, sub-manufacturers, distributors and logistics-handling agents that are all responsible in part for making the final transaction a reality… Innovations such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, supply chain analytics, robotic automation and 5G can all help to anticipate challenges and enable production to scale and shrink in response to demand shocks. Increased automation could help keep workers safe by reducing virus transmission risks.” • Or keep workers “safe” by eliminating their jobs entirely.

UPDATE “The ‘biggest challenge’ won’t come until after a coronavirus vaccine is found” [Politico]. “The nation is already grappling with a shortage of the specialized glass used to make the vials that will store any vaccine. Producing and distributing hundreds of millions of vaccine doses will also require huge quantities of stoppers — which are made by just a handful of companies — as well as needles and refrigeration units. Low stocks of any one of these components could slow future vaccination efforts, much as shortfalls of key chemicals delayed widespread coronavirus testing. A massive manufacturing effort is already gearing up to produce hundreds of millions of doses of promising vaccines now in late-stage trials, as scientists and the government gamble that at least one of the shots will prove safe and effective. The effort could rival the urgent national campaign to vaccinate children against polio in the 1950s. ‘Probably the biggest challenge will be scaling up the actual vaccine. It’s one thing to have clinical trial samples and materials in lab quantities,’ said George Zorich, a pharmacy expert and CEO of ZEDPharma. ‘It’s another challenge actually scaling that up effectively’.”

UPDATE “There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes”:

UPDATE Mr. Market: “Buzzwords for Markets Driven by Fear” [Bloomberg]. Kurzarbeit: “The state-funded German safety net known as Kurzarbeit (pronounced KUHRTS-ahr-bite) keeps salaries flowing to workers even when business dries up. Loosely translated as “short-time working,” it typically covers 60% of lost net wages, or 67% for people with children. Belgium, France, Italy, and the Netherlands allow distressed companies to tap government funds to pay salaries in downturns. Sweden and Denmark introduced support measures during the pandemic, and the U.K. made an unprecedented move to cover as much as 80% of workers’ salaries.” • Lol, no.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 42 Fear (previous close: 44 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 43 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 11 at 12:40pm.

The Biosphere

“Include the true value of nature when rebuilding economies after coronavirus” [Nature]. “Every nation’s economic plans and policies are rightly pivoting to dealing with COVID-19 and its effects. But as economies are revived, now is the right time to make up for past omissions — and rebuild them in a way that takes nature’s true value into account.” • 

Health Care

Liberal Democrats plan for CARES 2: Leave this part alone, it’s working fine (via Jon Walker):

“Hospitals balk as CMS doubles down on price transparency” [Health Care Dive]. “CMS is adding a new element to controversial price transparency regulations, suggesting it will continue to collect data on hospital median payer-specific negotiated rates and consider how that information could be used to set set relative Medicare payment rates. Hospitals immediately blasted the idea… The American Hospital Association, which is suing HHS for earlier price transparency efforts, did not mince words when responding to the draft Monday evening. ‘We are very disappointed that CMS continues down the unlawful path of requiring hospitals to disclose privately negotiated contract terms,’ the group said in a statement.”

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“The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them” [Erin Bromage]. I’ve run this link before, but I want to reinforce this: “Indoor spaces, with limited air exchange or recycled air and lots of people, are concerning from a transmission standpoint. We know that 60 people in a volleyball court-sized room (choir) results in massive infections. Same situation with the restaurant and the call center. Social distancing guidelines don’t hold in indoor spaces where you spend a lot of time, as people on the opposite side of the room were infected.” And: “When assessing the risk of infection (via respiration) at the grocery store or mall, you need to consider the volume of the air space (very large), the number of people (restricted), how long people are spending in the store (workers – all day; customers – an hour). Taken together, for a person shopping: the low density, high air volume of the store, along with the restricted time you spend in the store, means that the opportunity to receive an infectious dose is low. But, for the store worker, the extended time they spend in the store provides a greater opportunity to receive the infectious dose and therefore the job becomes more risky.” So, think about volume, number of people, how long the people are together. For shopping, I would say quick in, quick out would be the rule. (Presumably that will have continuing effects on retail.) Incidentally, everybody comes together at the cash register; it drives me nuts how transactions via cellphone slow down purchase, causing me to breathe other people’s air for longer. Cash is so much better.

“Association of Treatment With Hydroxychloroquine or Azithromycin With In-Hospital Mortality in Patients With COVID-19 in New York State” [JAMA]. ” In a retrospective cohort study of 1438 patients hospitalized in metropolitan New York, compared with treatment with neither drug, the adjusted hazard ratio for in-hospital mortality for treatment with hydroxychloroquine alone was 1.08, for azithromycin alone was 0.56, and for combined hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin was 1.35. None of these hazard ratios were statistically significant.” • This is another hospital study on HQ. But see this thead at NC. It seems to me that many of these studies are about solving the doctor’s problem when the patient is in hospital, rather than the patient’s problem, which is to at all costs avoid going to the hospital in the first place. In any case, this is an observational study, not a controlled one (and those are coming).

“Can post-exposure prophylaxis for COVID-19 be considered as an outbreak response strategy in long-term care hospitals?” [Science Direct]. “Although several drugs have been proposed as treatment options, there are no data on the effectiveness and safety of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for COVID-19. After a large COVID-19 exposure event in an LTCH in Korea, PEP using hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) was administered to 211 individuals, including 189 patients and 22 careworkers, whose baseline polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 were negative. PEP was completed in 184 (97.4%) patients and 21 (95.5%) careworkers without serious adverse events. At the end of 14 days of quarantine, all follow-up PCR tests were negative. Based on our experience, further clinical studies are recommended for COVID-19 PEP.”

“COVID-19 and Postinfection Immunity” [JAMA]. The bottom line: “n summary, existing limited data on antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 and related coronaviruses, as well as one small animal model study, suggest that recovery from COVID-19 might confer immunity against reinfection, at least temporarily. However, the immune response to COVID-19 is not yet fully understood and definitive data on postinfection immunity are lacking. Amidst the uncertainty of this public health crisis, thoughtful and rigorous science will be essential to inform public health policy, planning, and practice.” • Well-written, worth reading in full.

“Influenza and obesity: its odd relationship and the lessons for COVID-19 pandemic” [Acta Diabetologica]. “Basal hormone milieu, defective response of both innate and adaptive immune system and sedentariness are major determinants in the severity of influenza viral infection in obese patients. Being overweight not only increases the risk of infection and of complications for the single obese person, but a large prevalence of obese individuals within the population might increase the chance of appearance of more virulent viral strain, prolongs the virus shedding throughout the total population and eventually might increase overall mortality rate of an influenza pandemic…. Due to prolonged viral shedding, quarantine in obese subjects should likely be longer than normal weight individuals.” • “The U.S. Obesity Rate Now Tops 40%.” American exceptionalism!

“Coronavirus blood-clot mystery intensifies” [Nature]. “Blood clots, large and small, are a frequent complication of COVID-19, and researchers are just beginning to untangle why…. Studies from the Netherlands and France suggest that clots appear in 20% to 30% of critically ill COVID-19 patients1,2. Scientists have a few plausible hypotheses to explain the phenomenon…. Why this clotting occurs is still a mystery. One possibility is that SARS-CoV-2 is directly attacking the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels….. The virus’s effects on the immune system could also affect clotting… there could be other factors at play that aren’t specific to COVID-19. People with the disease who become hospitalized typically have a number of risk factors for clotting. They might be elderly or overweight, and could have high blood pressure or diabetes. They show up with high fevers and, because they’re seriously ill, have probably been immobilized. They might have a genetic predisposition to clotting, or be taking medications that increase the risk… [Agnes Lee, director of the Hematology Research Program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada] worries about the amount of ‘reactionary medicine‘ happening. “People are changing their therapeutic approach in reaction to their local and personal experience,” she says. She understands the impetus, ‘but we have to remember the main thing is first do no harm.'”

“Finnish-developed, open-source coronavirus vaccine nearly ready for testing” [YLE]. “[Helsinki University Professor of Virology Kalle Saksela] is one of a team of three Finnish professors who together are finalising development of a coronavirus vaccine nasal spray… The project is well advanced and according to Saksela, testing could begin “around midsummer”, which falls on 20 June…. The team of professors developing the vaccine are foregoing intellectual property rights to their work. In practice, they have gathered together research data in the field, refined it, added their own observations and are making it freely available…. The downside is that it will be harder to generate profits off an open source vaccine.” • Lol. But: “Saksela says he hopes that the most time-consuming and expensive development phase, that is extensive human testing, can be for the most part be skipped. He admits that bypassing any test phase increases possible risks, but he stresses that the vaccine’s development has been based on existing and tested data.” • I think if a vaccine launch goes wrong, that would be bad.

“Fact-checking Judy Mikovits, the controversial virologist attacking Anthony Fauci in a viral conspiracy video” [Science]. •

Class Warfare

“Layoffs Start Turning From Temporary to Permanent Across America” [Bloomberg]. “[A] worrying trend [is] emerging from the stacks of layoff notices filed by businesses in California, Florida, and New York, where service industries have been hammered by lockdown orders, as well as politically important swing states such as Michigan and Ohio, where key industries such as steel and autos already faced headwinds going into 2020. Plenty of layoffs that just a month ago were labeled ‘temporary’ are now tagged ‘indefinite’ or “permanent.” Alongside announcements of sweeping staff cuts by major employers such as Boeing Co. and U.S. Steel Corp. and the accelerating pace of downsizing in brick-and-mortar retailing, such notices are a sign that even as businesses continue to hope for a speedy recovery, they are starting to plan for a slow one.

News of the Wired

Why? Why?

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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 (MF):

MF writes: “I know this photo, which was taken near Tarzan on March 16th a few minutes after sunrise, is not exactly plant focused, but I can’t recall the last time I’d seen a double rainbow in LA county.” Well, the rainbows are plant-adjacent and in any case I think we could also use a rainbow at this point.

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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. Henry Moon Pie

    Cares 2 Plan and complexity–

    One thing I don’t see noted that often is that Dems’ love for complexity whenever they “bestow” benefits may find part of its motivation in the fact that complicated application processes make many recipients dependent upon someone for help in jumping through the hoops. Oftentimes, that “help” comes from the resources of a local machine politician, cementing the bond between that politician and the dependent.

    And if you don’t think there are still political machines in the U. S., I would refer you to the South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      I thought political machines were supposed to dole out favors in exchange for votes.

    2. Bsoder

      Mostly comes from social workers, so I’m willing to go with the external social worker employment act.

    3. Chris

      Yeah. And somehow, the people that Team Blue are “fighting for” are never poor enough to get the benefits that are passed in the final bill. But they’re the people who suffer under the austerity regime that follows the bill because it has to be paid for :/

  2. ambrit

    We can definitely use a few rainbows. Silicon Valley has already supplied a plethora of unicorns.

      1. ambrit

        With sprinkles!
        (Plumber approved.)
        Does that mean that French Vanilla is imported??? Merdre! (Ben & Jarry’s anyone? That too is fit for a Roi-dada.)

    1. Ed Miller

      Tarzan or Tarzana? I haven’t live in LA for almost 30 years but even I know Tarzan of the jungle was on Hollywood screens, and that ain’t the same as that town next to Encino.

  3. allan

    Pelosi unveils new $3 trillion coronavirus relief plan [Politico]

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats are planning to move ahead with a Friday vote on a $3 trillion package to respond to the coronavirus crisis, despite protests from progressives that the bill doesn’t go far enough. …

    Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, have objected that one of their chief priorities — federal funding to cover payrolls for businesses — wasn’t included in the House measure.

    Jayapal pushed hard for inclusion of the “Paycheck Guarantee” program in the new bill, but Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) turned it down, saying the proposal is too costly and complicated. The Jayapal plan — which is backed by more than 60 House Democrats — has a price tag of more than $600 billion for six months. Neal instead supported an extension of the “Employee Retention Tax Credit” backed by Democratic moderates, which still costs more than $200 billion. …

    Team Dem: rearranging the refundable tax credits on the deck of the Titantic.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Just a quick read shows that this bill bails out landlords, health insurance companies, the post office (for the sake of the November elections), the prisons industry while trying to short-circuit any mention of healthcare for all. A few peanuts are scattered to the peons – if they can qualify. Will this be another voice vote? Will a voice vote be standard now for the House?

      1. Chris

        No that plan was scrapped. We’ve now moved to the “pay for my expensive $hit then be lucky to die” program from both the Republicans and the Democrats.

  4. JohnnySacks

    A wireless meat thermometer? The picture looks pretty vague, but if it can’t be left in the oven while cooking and support at least 500 degrees without frying itself, the garbage can is where it belongs. (And tethered to my cell phone? Collecting data on my location, contacts, and camera I assume? Yeah, sorry, no.)

    But… I live on the second and third floors so when I set the smoker in the back yard up, I have a 2 probe remote with a separate receiver, one probe for the temp in the smoker so I know when to add more fuel or rescue an expensive brisket from overcooking, and the other in the meat so I know when to retrieve it.

    1. Baby Gerald

      What crapification that thermometer is! I use a ThermoWorks instant thermometer for around $50. It runs on a pair of coin-shaped batteries, has a nice easy to read LCD display in its plastic body that can be held with a bare hand while taking a temperature reading and doesn’t require any smartphone or download updates to tell me the temperature of whatever I’m cooking. Can’t leave it in the oven but there’s nothing I’m cooking where I can’t just poke and check periodically until the required temperature is reached.

      1. Vladimir

        My God It’s salmon! You shouldn’t need any temp guage. A little raw, a little overcooked, it doesn’t matter-not going to kill you. I’ve been cooking by the seat of my pants my whole life and still I’m kicking, my wife too.

  5. Billy

    “Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats.”

    Great site. However, what’s wrong with the image on their site? They look weird and distorted, on any browser, and that’s diminishes their credibility.

  6. L

    RE: Katie Hill vs. Mike Garcia.

    You say “Thanks DCCC” and you are right but, do they care?

    None of them will lose their jobs over this. None of them will pay a price for losing. Indeed most will roll right into fundraising off the sting of defeat and the only one out of a Job will be Hill. For them this is not a loss, just another day in the business.

    1. jo6pac

      Yep, they still get paid and their friends the consultants cash in. Everything is good in the world of dncc

      1. JohnnyGL

        Realistically, they’d already won when they stopped cenk uygur in the primary. Everything after that is just gravy.

        1. John k

          Exactly. Far better to lose to a crazy rep than win with progressive bc otherwise their donors will stop donating… and they’re not so dumb as to think they can make it with small donations from workers. Bernie can’t be copied bc policy.
          Actually, this would seem to be a bit of a conflict for pelosi…

    2. Laura in So Cal

      From the 25th district here. Katie Hill had no legislative record and ran a “conservative” Democrat campaign in 2018. For example, she said she was for immigration law enforcement. She was able to get a lot of independent votes, but many people were upset with her falling in line with Democratic Washington. In addition, Steve Knight didn’t run much of a campaign. Now, we have a choice between an known liberal California legislator and an unknown, but more conservative (for a Californian) veteran. Lots of Mike Garcia signs around town, and I have seen maybe one for Christy Smith.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Running interference on the Reade charges by bringing up some from the same time period? Somebody should tell Rose that how the Democrats and the media have treated Reade & Biden has killed the Me Too movement.

  7. a different chris

    1) this is, or should be Heather Heyer day.

    2) “CMS continues down the unlawful path of requiring hospitals to disclose privately negotiated contract terms,” Oh noes! How about passing a law that the gummint (pretending that they actually cared for a moment) gets a copy of every “summary of benefits”. That would be eye-opening enough, and the MIC can’t keep me from sharing the information they send me…. it’s my information too. Just make it an “opt-out” and I bet nobody who isn’t an insurance executive opts out…

    3)”& the US entails far less ideological dispute than most democracies:” Well yes if you put it that way. There is no dispute , say, if you are a Walmart shelf stocker and you think something should be on the bottom shelf and Walmart says it goes on the top. But I would say there is a extremely large ideological difference between DC and the people. I would go so far as to say a trans-sexual New Yorker probably has more views in common with a farmboy of similar age in Nebraska than they do with the worldview of the Senators of either state.

    What was that study that showed the general preferences of the 99% had virtually no effect on policy?

    1. periol

      Moved to Nebraska from California in 2018 for a year, and when the gas man came to turn us on, I went out to talk to him. He said “California, huh? Didn’t they ban plastic straws?”

      After I told him they didn’t, we had a normal conversation about stupid politicians and corruption and all the roads in terrible condition that seem to be everywhere in the country these days. We agreed that a large number of wankers had moved to Colorado recently, and left it at that.

      Really made me aware how stupid stuff like straws can really get in the way.

    2. Chris

      Totally agree fellow Chris. There is a huge difference between DC and the rest of the country.

  8. zagonostra

    >Fact-checking Judy Mikovits, the controversial virologist attacking Anthony Fauci in a viral conspiracy video

    Last time I posted a criticism on Politico’s article on the same subject, it didn’t get past NC moderator.

    I’ll try again, with this one. My criticism is on the use of the word “conspiracy” in the title of article. Articles that purport to be object should use a different descriptor such as “unsubstantiated claims.” As we all the word “conspiracy” has been weaponized and rendered toxic. It also prejudges what should be a neutral and objective review of claims.

    1. Peter VE

      As a resident of a country formed as the consequences of a conspiracy, I also object to the redefinition of “conspiracy” as meaning claims made without evidence.

        1. Sacred Ground

          The United States?

          (The American Revolution, like all revolutions, began as an illegal conspiracy of traitors to the lawful rule of the crown, after all.)

          1. John Anthony La Pietra

            John Dickinson:
            Mr. Jefferson, are you seriously suggesting that we publish a paper declaring to all the world that an illegal rebellion is, in fact, a legal one?

            Benjamin Franklin:
            Oh, Mr. Dickinson, I’m surprised at you. You should know that a rebellion is always legal in the first person — such as “our rebellion”. It is only in the third person — “their rebellion — that it is illegal.”

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      unfortunately a friend of mine who used to have critical thinking faculties has fried his brain and hangs with a crowd of anti-vaxxers. he sends me this stuff and I try to respond with a little push back.

      for example most recently it was: they vaccinate babies before they have immune systems, what’s up with that? I sent a link on the development of the immune system starting in utero.

      he is the mellowest, least judgmental person ever, patient and kind, yet he sends me videos that are transparently antisemitic, stuff about $ and world domination. I can’t even watch them.

      CT is right, I’m afraid: it’s all of a piece and something more than unsubstantiated claims because of the paranoid mindset.

      1. WJ

        Here’s the issue, though.

        Do any of us really believe that big pharma is NOT corrupt? Do any of us believe that the motive behind the development and dosing of medicine is $$$$ and not health?

        The anti-vaxxers may be wrong on the science, but I find it hard to fault them for disbelieving government spokesman, doctors, and scientists in the pocket of big pharma.

        The issue is that none of our institutions can be trusted to tell us the truth. It’s a very difficult situation to find oneself in.

    3. MLTPB

      In Star Trek the Next Generation’s Time’s Arrow, aliens hide under an epidemic in 1893 San Francisco to drain humans of life force.

      “The cause? The epidemic.”

      The CFR was totally bogus, you might say.

      Interestingly enough, for CT enthusiasts, there had been reports of mystery radio signal from space every 16 days, earlier this year.

  9. Vic

    For the log scale shown above for new cases we want it to curve down not horizontal. For total cases graph we want it to go horizontal

    “ 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.”

    1. Aumua

      Yeah the problem is that the vice article doesn’t apply anymore to the kind of graph that Lambert switched to.

    2. MLTPB

      I look at new cases (the last few days) more when visiting a new place.

      The months old cases (counted in the total) are isolated hopefully. Those 50 new cases, for example, yesterday means more today than 2,000 cases on a particular day 4 weeks ago in the same area.

  10. Glen

    Just watched an interview where the WH economic advisor stated he did not believe government spending stimulates the economy. Between a Trump advisor saying that and Biden bring Larry Summers back, I would say that the American people are pretty well [family blogging] screwed.

  11. Katiebird

    I happened to be watching when Sander’s was on. And I saw him ask (first generally) his question about Free Vaccine for everyone and IS THAT THE PLAN? It really did go as the tweet said, No one agreed to it. They hated the question and many person tried to talk around it. Sander’s pushed it (within the enforced time limit) and I think asked each person directly. One person (I don’t know the names) said his agency’s purpose was to help marginalized populations but he couldn’t promise that other agencies would provide vaccines to everyone. It was quite stunning. They all knew the right answer was, yes everyone will get a vaccine. But they all knew it wasn’t going to happen.

    1. Katiebird

      Oh. And the Democratic Congress. 3 Trillion and all they can squeeze out for a person is $1200? Where did they get that number? Not that it will happen.

      1. clarky90

        The serpent (the prototype lawyer) steps onto the stage for the first iteration/act….let the ensuing “conversations” begin….

        “….and the serpent said to the woman, Wherefore has God said, Eat not of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said to the woman, Ye shall not surely die. 5 For God knew that in whatever day ye should eat of it your eyes would be opened, and ye would be as gods, knowing good and evil……”

        Why not just do it? It makes perfect sense…?

        1. clarky90

          This first “meeting” was the template of our current “sharing economy”!

          (1) Take advice from a crooked lawyer, and engage them to represent you.
          (2) Do not consult regulatory agencies.
          (3) Do not ask for permission.
          (4) Act!
          (5) Deny, lawyer-up, obfuscate, delay, and deny some more….
          (6) If backed into a corner, apologize profusely and ask for forgiveness…..maybe cry…..
          (7) But, all the while, continuing to do the same wrong/bad/immoral/rotten action……….

          Rinse and repeat

        2. Massinissa

          Sir, you are completely wrong! Lawyers are prototype Serpents! Defame Serpents again and I will have my lawyers, who are completely inferior to Serpents, seek legal compensation for all serpents in a class-action lawsuit to defend their interests.


      2. JustAnotherVolunteer

        I believe they think this is one months salary at federal minimum wage (7.25*2080/12) –
        They’re off by about 50 bucks but hey –

      3. WJ

        Also, apparently after 3 kids you stop getting money-per-kid. Because there are no working families with more than three children, I guess. Or maybe because you shouldn’t be having more than three children if you really need money from the government to support them, and we don’t want to encourage your bad behavior.

      1. JBird4049

        So the plan is to let a pandemic, one that could easily morph, like the 1918 Flu did, into several deadlier strains? That means more money. Score! Let the good times roll!

        Slight multi-paragraph detour to explain why we’re to be seriously engaged in physical congress soon.

        The timing of the general collapse of the German and Austro-Hungarian armies has always been puzzling. Not the what or even the how, but why the when of it. What finally got the general population to stop and demand an end. The German defenses in the West were very good and they were all on French soil even if they couldn’t do anymore offensives themelves.

        The “improved” strain of that flu virus somehow got to and spread more quickly through the more exhausted, malnourished populations of the Central Powers first. It is probably why the general collapse of the Central Powers happened when it did. The Allies got a small delay, random chance, perhaps, or more likely a healthier population with a better functioning government and medical system; they still probably would have had trouble doing the planned 1919 offensives because of it because the epidemic hit them right after, or just before, it hit the millions of better fed and cared for soldiers were still living in crowded, wet, cold, mud holes, often terrified and stressed, who were dying massively even without the offensives.

        Evolution comes from random changes whose success is determined by the environment. Most changes are either nothing or are lethal to the organism. If a disease has an easier time multiplying and spreading, which often means violent explosions of bodily… stuff, then than any changes to make that more likely will flourish.

        Of course, the stronger the symptoms, like Cholera’s infamous, often lethal diarrhea, are more likely to kill you, but if you crammed next to many other already weakened victim, the more lethal strains will win out over the more milder ones. When the population is healthy and can practice good hygiene, it is the opposite for the longer the victim lives and the less incapacitating suffering they enjoy the more likely the milder strain will win out. A too great a lethality will likely exterminate the virus, which is trying to spread and survive.

        The healthier a population is the more likely there will be survivors, and there will also be fewer chances for the disease to change and spread, which mean guaranteed good nutrition and shelter. Add good hygiene and quarantines and most epidemics will just die. Add even the basic medical “care” of the Middle Ages and it is even better. The monks, nuns, and very occasional doctor could administer whatever medicines they had (and sometimes even worked) and more importantly kept the patient fed, clothed, cleaned, and given constant attention. “You haven’t eaten today. Here’s some beer and broth. No, I’m going to annoy you until you do drink something. Oh, and I’ll get you another pair of pants and bedding.”

        Now that I have done the detour, here’s the conclusion.

        Has anyone noticed that Americans today are increasingly stressed, poorly, if at all housed, often hungry (Anyone who says millions of Americans don’t go hungry… has a lack of knowledge.) and even the basic of medical care is lacking or hard to get, or will drive you to bankruptcy? Many of them are either working themselves to death, being exposed to death, or living with multiple opportunities to spread it. It’s been while for me, but even Anglos in the Bay Area, not always, but still, can easily have a two bedroom apartment with four or five people in it. The fourth or fifth would be that couch surfing friend. I’m guessing (but not really) that is true for Los Angeles.

        I’m sorry, but this is beyond anything The Onion could satirize. Perhaps Molly Ivins, Jonathan Swift, or Mark Twain in his bitter later works, doing their best could. We seemingly? have an Evil Cabal setting up our society and the economy on which everyone ultimately needs to survive to collapse into ruin for some financial electrons somewhere in the ether or for some monstrously depraved “Prosperity Gospel,” or Ayn Randian, or Social Darwinist ideology?

        1. Bsoder

          Complete conjecture. For something fact based read what the US Marines actually did. In all wars diseases kill more then any fighting.

          1. Eyan Nemus

            Speaking of facts…

            World War I claimed an estimated 16 million lives. The influenza epidemic that swept the world in 1918 killed an estimated 50 million people. One fifth of the world’s population was attacked by this deadly virus. Within months, it had killed more people than any other illness in recorded history.


  12. Lambert Strether Post author

    Rather amazing that the former head of MSNBC saying Biden isn’t ready for prime time (unspoken question: Is that possible?). I don’t see how the Democrats can keep Biden wrapped in tissue paper for 175 days. And I also don’t notice Biden given the deference that a normal candidate would be given. Yes, there are the usual endorsements, but there are plenty of people, some of them tending toward to centrist, who speak like Biden isn’t a done deal at all.

      1. Bsoder

        Actually, the Borris Johnson strategy of interacting with the public as little as possible and in the most programmed way is the best strategy for a demented Biden. Let the Orange windbag blow himself out.

    1. Darthbobber

      I like the way he keeps using the qualifier “yet”, as if Biden were some political neophyte just learning the ropes who might be expected to improve over time.

      1. Baby Gerald

        I like how I make the same basic reply as darthbobber- that Biden, a career politician is somehow not ready for prime time, and include a link to a NYT story today wherein he claims he’s not ‘hiding’ but ‘winning’ against Trump and it goes off into moderation land. Look up the story yourselves. Every time I include a link the post gets moderated. Thanks for that.

        1. BobW

          That’s standard for the site, links get moderated. I post without one most of the time, but expect to be moderated when I do include a link. Sometimes they are needed. All in all, not a bad problem since it results in one of the best, if not the best, comment allowing site on the internet. We all know what happens if comments were not moderated at all, it only takes a few trolls to ruin a site, and they will appear.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              NC has some of the best moderating on the web, a huge time sink for the small staff. Their rules, coupled with their acumen, forbearance, political philosophies, and deep knowledge of the subjects at hand makes the comments flow as some of the best anywhere.

              So can I suggest not gaming around, just go somewhere else. If everybody shouts all at once at a dinner party then nobody gets to hear anything

          1. none

            It never occurred to me that links were penalized. I usually try to include links to stuff I mention, so people can follow up. Now I know. It surprises me but it’s above my pay grade.

      2. Dr. John Carpenter

        This was exactly my reaction. Biden has been in DC for, what, almost 50 years? He was VP for eight years and this is his third time running for President. If he couldn’t hit the ground running, or even ramp up to speed quickly, why would any person with half a brain think he’s going to magically get it together in the next 5+ months? Hope springs eternal, I guess.

        1. JTMcPhee

          But TRUMP!! /s

          I’d widget a plague on both their houses, but us mopes unfortunately have to try to live here too. And we have enough plague already.

      1. zagonostra

        So apparently are all the folks being polled that consistently support him…it seems so damn odd that his poll numbers haven’t budged.

        1. Procopius

          Yes, that has bothered me, too. Given his record, the polls just don’t make sense. The explanations I’ve seen don’t make sense to me either. On the one hand I’m reluctant to believe all the pollsters are in a huge conspiracy to lie to the public, on the other hand there are something like 500,000 contractors with Top Secret clearances but only Edward Snowden blew the whistle.

    2. Acacia

      Well, it’s long been obvious to the rest of us that Dementia Joe isn’t up to the task. Perhaps this is the former head of MSNBC getting nervous that the Dems are dithering too long on their plan to swap out Joe for someone more functional?

    3. Stillfeelinthebern

      Cause the done deal is HRC. The come back kid. And the rematch. I’m willing to bet on it.

      1. ambrit

        I’m with you on this PolyCT. She has been way too visible on the national stage since she ‘recovered’ from the nation’s rejection of her back in 2016.
        Like her personal totem, Lady MacBeth, the loss in 2016 is the stain that will not wash out.

        1. ambrit

          The “Hillary Na Ga ‘Appen” concept depends on the assumption of rational actors making the decisions in the american political parties. The recent past shows that assumption to be questionable at best.
          We are dealing with insanely ambitious sociopaths here.
          Looking at the recent Democrat Party machinations, one is forced to consider the possibility of a power struggle for control of the party apparatus between a Clinton clique and an Obama clique. I would not put it past the Clinton Cabal to have engineered the leaking of the Obama audio recording that implicates Obama in nefarious dealings.
          If we can consider Biden as being designed to fail early, then the real struggle is for the right to name the successor. Either way, the Democrat Party electorate has been disenfranchised this primary election cycle.

    4. The Rev Kev

      Back in 2016 Hillary was a no-show for interviews for a very long time and there was a counter of how many days had passed without an interview. It was not that long after she made herself available that she collapsed like a bag of potatoes at the 9/11 memorial but at least she did go out and campaign. Biden can’t do it. He is too easily confused and befuddled. If he caught Coronavirus he would be toast. There is no good consequences for the DNC to bring him out of his basement and no good ideas of what to do with him between now and November.

      1. chuck roast

        Yeah, the DNC…lower then whale poop. Maybe they should just get the that cellar dweller fella’ to do a tour of the local nursing homes to meet his supporters. Seems pretty low stress to me. Solve a lotta problems, no?

    5. WJ

      “there are plenty of people, some of them tending toward to centrist, who speak like Biden isn’t a done deal at all.”

      What is cooking under that tin-foil hat of yours, Lambert!? Are you insinuating in this passage that we should look forward to being presented with a surprise candidate sometime before the fall?

      Might it happen that, should it appear to certain folks that Trump really does appear beatable in the coming election, another, heroic candidate will suddenly find herself called upon to take up the torch and lead the Dems to victory?!

  13. Ignacio

    RE: “Finnish-developed, open-source coronavirus vaccine nearly ready for testing” [YLE]

    Much of what Saksella says makes a lot of sense. And there is a thing I like about this vaccine: nasal spraying instead of blood injection namely “mucosal immunization”. It is not only cheaper but probably safer.

    1. Jos Oskam

      And then there’s this:
      “…The downside is that it will be harder to generate profits off an open source vaccine…”

      After all, the priority in developing vaccines is to make profits, not to do good and save humanity. /s

      1. Carolinian

        Clearly the Finns can’t help themselves when it comes to the menace of open source. Linus Torvalds (Linux) is a Finn.

      2. HotFlash

        from JBird above So the plan is to let a pandemic, one that could easily morph, like the 1918 Flu did, into several deadlier strains? That means more money. Score! Let the good times roll!

        from Jos After all, the priority in developing vaccines is to make profits

        Gentlepersons all, I present the Medical Insurance Pharma Congressional Complex! We can call it the MIPC! Just watch those stocks! And exec compensation!

        Note: As with the MIC (Military Industrial Congressional Complex) that Ike warned us about, the penultimate ‘C’ is ignored.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Nasal spray also imitates the normal route of infection. Don’t know if that matters, but it seems like it might.

    3. Foy

      “Saksela says he hopes that the most time-consuming and expensive development phase, that is extensive human testing, can be for the most part be skipped.”

      Mmmm I feel that is asking for trouble. If it goes bad the anti-vaxxers will have all the ammo they ever need.

    4. Ren

      If only we could open source so many more technology to alleviate pointless suffering. Immigrate to Finland!!

  14. DJG

    Moira Donegan: What the Biden Accuser Tara Reade Deserves.

    First, I wish that Moira Donegan hadn’t felt it necessary to do drive-by slighting of Briahnna Joy Gray and Naomi Klein for being Sanders supporters who had the audacity to note that the Democratic Sklerotiklatura conducted a coup against Sanders, disappeared him, and deprived the party (volutamente!) of a unity candidate who brought enthusiasm and renewal to said decrepit party. Unlike, say, the tired & suddenly retired Buttigieg, grandmama’s favorite nice gay boy, or Green Acres refugee Amy Klobuchar. (And Donegan also exemplifies the liberal knee-jerk reaction against leftist politics and ethics.)

    In short, what Donegan is unwilling to recognize is how much the permanent class was willing to go with Joe rather than be “amenable” to change.

    Further, I think that in our discussion of Biden (and Trump) and the sexual scandals surrounding them, as well as Epstein and Bill Clinton (he of that curious portrait in the dress), is just how much U.S. personnel changes now depend / involve sexual scandals. Think of Kavanaugh, too.

    It seems to me that when you have a MonoParty fighting over a small slice of the political spectrum–but a very rich slice indeed–issues and policy cannot come up. (Hence, the swat at Gray and Klein, both of whom are eloquent about issues and policy.) We are engaged now in elections being decided by sexual scandals because we have no choice except to find monsters in the bedroom. And it sure has been easy to do so.

    Therefore, I’m wondering if the continuing sexual scandals of the last several years have less to do with attempts to topple the patriarchy or the dilemmas of bringing in women with real power and more to do with a fossilized system using sex as a proxy, sex being the area of U.S. life that is still dominated by Calvinist puritanism.

    And as a counterweight, oh poor Pete (I’m so sorry), a nice gay candidate who presented himself as being no sexual danger to said puritanism.

    1. epynonymous

      Reminds me of the Brit PM who was blackmailed by his ‘frat’ for stuffing a dead pig.

      Or how Colbert reported on a Trump/Russian ‘pee pee’ tape that may not exist.

  15. marku52

    Dr Seheult at Medcram on Youtube has a plausible hypothesis regarding covid clotting. It involves the virus occupying most of the ACE2 receptors. This then prevents Angiotensin 2 from being degraded (non official term) to Angiotensin 1-7.

    This is bad because too much AT2 leads to the creation of O2-, an oxidiser. This oxidation leads to damage in the endothelial wall, and clotting. He describes the idea in this vid. He is clear that this is just a hypothesis that needs to be tested, but is supported by the biochemistry (He shows tons of papers supporting the chain of events)


    IANADr, but it made sense to me. This disease is looking more and more like a blood disease that usually manifests in the lungs. Autopsies show micro clots in the lungs, as well

  16. sd

    Adam Schiff Tells Union Leaders More Legislation Needed To Aid Hollywood’s Unemployed Workforce

    Starting at about 37:33 Rep. Schiff talks about inequities in access to health care and capital:

    …I hope that as we think about both responding in real time but building back when this is over, that we build back better. So that we really do move to universal healthcare, so that we address these inequities…

  17. Jeremy Grimm

    Congratulations to Lambert for his slot in the Google search for ‘Rooseveltian’. I hope this will lead to an influx of new readers, commenters, and site supporters.

    1. Laura in So Cal

      I just finished watching Ken Burns’ documentary on the Roosevelts on PBS (excellent, BTW). When someone says “Rooseveltian”, I always think “which one?” Teddy was a Republican Progressive, Franklin was a liberal Democrat, and Eleanor was practically a Democratic Socialist.

      1. JBird4049

        I would say all of them. If they were around today, my, they would be so angry.

        Their ideologies all overlapped on the fight against “the malefactors of great wealth.” Theodore Roosevelt was more conservative than FDR and, certainly Eleanor Roosevelt, but fighting corruption, and wealth inequality and poverty that it helps to creates, was something they all agreed on.

        Although TL did it by being a trust buster and FDR did it by directly supporting the poor and middle classes. Either way the oligarchs did not like having “their” money used on the masses. Some of the language by them about the situation is kinda vile. Like the English spoke sometimes about the Irish and white Southerners on blacks. Made my skin crawl.

      2. Massinissa

        “Eleanor was practically a Democratic Socialist.”

        Which is hilarious, considering Eleanor was the American equivalent of Old Money. She was the grandaughter of Theodore Roosevelt Sr (Yes, our President Teddy Roosevelt was a Junior), a major New York oligarch. Eleanor’s father’s main occupation was making sure his brother Teddy Jr. didn’t spend all the family’s fortune.

        I guess being an independently rich socialite gave her the ability to say and do whatever the hell she wanted. I’m not sure the modern left has anyone like that today.

        1. JBird4049

          It helped that all three of them spent time among the common folk. Teddy Roosevelt in the slums of his ranching days, the Rough Riders and as a Police commissioner in NYC, during which IIRC he toured some of the real slums there, FDR after his paralysis and the treatments for, and similarly for Eleanor Roosevelt during her tours of Great Depression and World War Two.

          All of them had the humanity as the often harsh living conditions of the average person put right into their face for years. Their America was much broader than the America of the elites of those days. It was a real reality to them in the way, I think, than to most of the elites in their time and in ours is not. If someone real is suffering, what would you do? If someone is just a fixture or a number is suffering, what are you likely to do?

      3. chuck roast

        Ken Burns…now there is guy that gets my goat. He did The Civil War on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Arguably the the best series ever made for TV. So, he wrote the great American novel.

        He followed this tour-de-force up with jazz, baseball and a number of other innocuous splendida (I just made that word up). He is entirely inoffensive and celebratory and the cash just keeps rolling in for his latest forays. Ho hum. I’d just like to see a guy with this kind of talent do a series on the A. Mitchell Palmer red raids or the American labor movement. Instead of the FDR dreck, why doesn’t he do a series on the New Deal? The chances of that happening? Zero and none.

        1. JBird4049

          Since he would actually do a detailed multi part series on any subject he could get funding for the Palmer Raids, the New Deal, or heck the Red Scare, the Dulles Brothers, and J. Edgar Hoover turning a fairly obscure office into into one of the greatest blackmailing operation ever.

          Any of that is too similar to today

  18. Bugs Bunny

    Re: post-exposure prophylaxis for Covid-19.

    Only one study, but 100% effective. This means it would prevent infection as well, doesn’t it? Truvada for Corona. But not good for Gilead.

    1. dk

      My mother is 92, and has moderate COPD. Around Jan 10 she developed a hacking cough the wouldn’t stop, she’d cough for up to a minute, then be out of breath. But no soreness no fever no phlegm and she insisted she felt fine (and then start coughing again for 20 seconds). Finally after 10 days we got her to see a doctor who prescribed a fairly mild 3 day course of Prednisone 10mg x 12hours, a 3 day course. She was right as rain by day 2 and discontinued with 2 pills left (which she gave away damnit). I thought it was covdi-19 at the time but only now is that credible.

      Would she have gotten Prednisone if it was thought to have been covid? Prednisone depresses immune response with repeated use, so it would probably not be a first choice if covid was suspected or known. Would she have been told to just ride it out in quarantine, or hospitalized? I don’t think either would have gone well.

      I’m monitoring her closely (from afar), she had a fall recently and for the first time in her life broke a bone (ulna by the wrist, also cracked two ribs), the decreased mobility/agility has hit her hard, even though the wrist is almost healed (taking longer because she keeps trying to use it). She now has myalgia in her hips and knees in the mornings, but only when she moves so it’s not clearly different from lack of exercise and rheumatic arthritis. She was prescribed ibuprophen, it brings temporary relief but not through the night. At the end of a days activity she’s fine again, though weaker than I want to see, and she’s still intellectually clear. Getting a blood test next week and we’ll know more, but I also worry that a covid diagnosis may misguide her doctors to avoid aggressive therapies treating the symptoms. I sent here a big bag of D3 gel caps last year, lucky.

      Preparation is prevention, and when it’s not it’s a leg up on early response. Prophylaxis is a preparatory defense, and also possibly interventive during early post-infection

      This thing’s virulence is part of a larger pattern, readily transmitted but tending to attack locally at first, the greater danger being from accumulated viral mass through neglect of early response to the first site of activity, and/or through repeated and/or heavy exposure.

      1. Yves Smith

        I doubt it was Covid. Reports from Italy were that steroids made Covid worse. They were set aback that a lot of the usual treatments for respiratory ailments backfired.

        1. dk

          It was in her throat not her lungs. In a full-blown lung infection, steroid therapy would interfere with adaptive (antibody, cytokine) immune response, and divert resources. The context is post-exposure treatment, obviously not immediate but before advance to an acute stage.

  19. Synoia

    Once, in ZA, I visited my parents in Boksburg, and was faced with a Circular rainbow in the sky. Iy touched the ground nowhere.

    Can anyone (pun) shine some light on how it was generated?

  20. dk


    It’s facile but not well understood as a behavior. The lip service is that it’s convergence on common goals, but in practice it often takes the form of what we used to call the Chinese Menu: some from column A, some from column B, where the items in the columns can sometimes be very extreme edge policies and concepts.

    And predictably, the melange doesn’t work very well and contains inherent weaknesses and gotcha traps, internal contradictions and incompatible interpretations.

    Not that convergence is so easy, it can involve compromises and even competition for sparse resources, but if transparently negotiated, and civic stability and sustainability can be demonstrated, at least one has a shot. And when it fails, one can often see why.

  21. Pelham

    Biden as ham sandwich, yes.

    Just as an exercise, I block out any thought of Trump and try to consider Biden as if he were a stand-alone candidate. How would he stack up as a campaigner by comparison with other Dems who’ve run for the White House over the past 50 years? Answer: He doesn’t. He just sort of lies there. Like a ham sandwich.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Thought them all through – you’re right. When Mike Dukakis seems like a fire in the belly, raging hero for the working class, in comparison to your late in life 2020 candidate hiding in his basement, you’ve hit rock bottom ham sandwich.

      1. Darthbobber

        And Dukakis beat out Biden that year. This is Joe the master politician. Collapsed against a weak field in 88, badly thumped by Obama, Clinton, and Edwards in 08, carried to a presumptive nomination this year by an establishment terrified of both Bernie Sanders and it’s own shadow. And now pioneering a campaign style based on Romulan cloaking technology.

        1. carl

          Thanks for that last line. I’d already drunk my coffee so my keyboard is still working!

    2. John Anthony La Pietra

      The ham sandwich that a grand jury will indict or the ham sandwich that’s better than perfect happiness?

      (Nothing is better than perfect happiness — and a ham sandwich is certainly. . . . . . .)

  22. Carolinian

    Re food prices–where I live I don’t see much evidence of this and the grocery chains still more afraid of each other than covid. Lidl, Aldi, Walmart and the others continue to duke it out and milk remains $1 a gallon across the board and a dozen eggs well under a dollar. Meanwhile gasoline is as cheap as $1.24. As far as I can tell only paper products have become notably more expensive. There are however absences such as fish products which seem to depend on Chinese packagers or fish farmers. Perhaps they can send us some fish in exchange for all that pork that we (Chinese owned Smithfield) are giving them.

    1. ambrit

      My stars! The promised land!
      Here in Southern Mississippi, milk is running between three and four dollars a gallon, eggs are two dollars fifty cents a dozen, (the ‘average’ ones, “cage free” and “organic” eggs are between four and six dollars a dozen,) and yes, gasoline is averaging one dollar forty-nine cents the gallon.
      Paper products and cleaning supplies are continuously sold out over the last month.
      Meat, pork, chicken, and fish are at about half and below ‘normal’ supply levels.
      Items like Spam, beans, rice, ramen noodle packs, ‘instant’ mac and cheese and similar package items are in short supply everywhere locally.
      Items not in short supply so far, chips, beer, and colas.
      Party like it’s 1899!

      1. Carolinian

        Sorry for your Soviet style shopping. We have that price war I mentioned and I only go now about once a week so perhaps things have changed. But the stores do seem to be keeping the shelves stocked except for some canned goods (may be a limit), paper products a definite problem (but still available) and fish. I have heard that there are thousands of pounds of beef that were already in frozen storage so things may get worse toward the end of the month when that gets used up–if one is into beef.

        Our average gas price is also 1.49 but can go lower.

        1. ambrit

          I’m glad we went ‘long’ on spam, rice, and beans a few months ago. Basic foods for basic survival. (Plus a plethora of spices for flavour.) We both came from lower middle class families, so, the ‘simpler’ diet is not anything new for us.
          Luckily, we have never been really ‘wealthy’ in any sense. Having the house and vehicles paid off and little in the way of ‘status’ items in our lifestyle makes life simpler and easier to weather the storms of now and the near future. In that respect we are very fortunate.
          I’m preparing to put a raised bed garden spot in the front yard. Less lawn to worry about and hopefully, more food.
          I feel sorry for all the upwardly aspiring workers who have just been spurned by the ‘System.’ Not only will they have to navigate the shoals and shallows of unexpected precarity, but they also have to go through the grieving process for the death of their hopes and yearnings related to their truncated pursuit of the American Dream.
          The Neo Depression has begun.

    2. Tom Doak

      In traveling around, I’ve been very surprised to see how much lower food prices can be in rural areas. A grocery store can’t just raise prices at will — their market depends on people being able to purchase things. So the food quality is as cheap as can be found, and the margins are thin.

      1. Carolinian

        Well I’m not rural if that’s what you are saying. I suspect there’s just a huge national surplus of milk and they can sell for that price at a profit but dairy lobbies in some states keep the price up.

        The German chain Lidl has expanded into the US and is conducting a price war with the already on hand German chain Aldi. These two discount grocers also compete with Walmart grocery and the long standing regular grocers refuse to be left out and also charge $1.

        We have a BMW plant so perhaps that’s why German grocers like this region so much.

        1. Wyoming

          Not to burst a bubble but the wholesale price of milk is set by…the Federal Government. Has been since the great depression.

    1. ambrit

      It being Holland, will those animated menus have an ‘Adult’ option with topless ‘presenters’ to help the famished customer navigate the maze? (In the interest of fairness, there could be male, female, and ‘swinger’ oriented presentations. Have it your way indeed!)

    2. Peter VE

      For many years there was a hot dog joint called Spikes here in Providence. They had a hand sink in the waiting line before you ordered, with a big sign that said “Clean paws are happy paws” (the mascot was a Pug). It made a lot of sense to me, but no one seems to have followed up on it.

    3. MLTPB

      In (all or some?) Japanese restaurants, you are given a warm, wet hand towel as you take your seat.

      Or maybe it’s ‘restaurants in Japan or Asia.’

      Is it also why we are not doing as well here?

      Masks, shoes outside*, and warm wet towels (not 75 % alcohol though) at restaurants?

      *Shoes Outside The Door is a book.

      1. ambrit

        Considering that one needs must take the mask away, if only momentarily in order to put anything, like food, in the mouth, I do not see proper sit down restaurants reopening until a proper treatment method is established for the Dreaded Pathogen. Too bloody risky for the general health. Another possibility is for a reliable and cheap method of testing for an infectuous level of the virus in one’s blood stream being rolled out for everywhere. Some system of identifying the ‘safe’ people would be a method of segregating the population between “safe” and “unsafe.” Of course, as we have seen recently, the elites don’t seem to give a d— about the lives of the ordinary people. We should return the compliment.

  23. anon in so cal

    >post-exposure prophylaxis for COVID-19 be considered as an outbreak response strategy

    UCLA is conducting clinical trials to test hydroxychloroquine for this purpose

    >” transactions via cellphone slow down purchase…Cash is so much better.”

    Credit cards are the fastest alternative. They do not require the cashier to provide change, or to handle the actual cash. (yes, I understand that the credit card industry is unscrupulous).

    Separately, Los Angeles County will extend its Stay-At-Home order through the end of July.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Don’t forget all those American troops. Every year, tens of thousands of those troops exercise with nearly every nation in the world. A big one was planned in Europe this year and I think that 40,000 troops were supposed to take part. And think about the hundreds of training programs as well. Now that has nearly been shut down altogether. How can that be restarted?

      Will other countries trust that the Pentagon can do quarantine and not send out infected troops on exercises? About 2,500 Marines are going to Oz for exercises with local forces. Can you do social distancing in such exercises? There are lots of aboriginal communities where they are going and any outbreak would be lethal to them. Still, it might be a more peaceful world without all these military exercises on borders of countries like Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, etc. Sabre rattling may be too hard to do for now.

      1. MLTPB

        Putin will tell you that even rehearsing for a military parade can violate social distancing.

    2. VietnamVet

      Austria has already imposed an airport virus testing regime that costs $200 to get in country if negative or a 14-day quarantine. This is sure to become universal for all travelers from USA, UK, Canada and Sweden where the pandemic rages on when entering virus free nations. This is also true for Hawaii, Alaska, Montana and Vermont, the only states controlling the virus currently. Hawaii is already getting bad press about its restrictions. No spike in coronavirus deaths if testing of new arrivals is required.

      Apply it to private jets and the pandemic with be address in the four affected nations.

      1. ambrit

        Re. private jets etc. If I were a Wily Rooskie, I’d flood America with surplus Milan systems and other sorts of surplus ground to air delivery systems. Return the favour that Charlie Wilson extended to Russia in Afghanistan.

  24. Hayes Smith

    I propose that the blood clotting phenomenon in COVID-19 patients may be the body’s natural reaction to low oxygen levels. The symptoms are strikingly similar to those young professional bike racers who overdose on EPO–blood thick and dark with a super high hematocrit. Also, not unlike climbers who train at high altitude. Perhaps it’s the body’s way of dealing with a prolonged episode of low blood oxygen levels.

  25. Jessica

    About the possibility of Covid-19 mutating into something more deadly, AFAIK there is a strong tendency for microbes to mutate to be less deadly because killing the host kills the microbes too. Perhaps this is outdated. I read it years ago, possibly before DNA technology became so usable. But at that time, scientists would actually date the arrival of a microbe in humans based on its deadliness. The deadlier, the newer.
    I am hoping that someone in this commentariat knows more about this and can comment.
    The theory I have read about why the Spanish flu was deadlier in the second wave (the exception the proves the rule?) is that those with milder cases were kept in the trenches and only the sickest were sent back from the front to hospitals. So the deadlier variants had more chance to spread than the less deadly.
    One of the reasons that plague remained so deadly for so long was that it was not primarily a human disease, but a rat disease, so it was not under the same evolutionary pressure to keep its human victims alive.

  26. JBird4049

    (Banging head on desk)

    Here is the stimulus bill, which is overly complicated, of course. Here is the 1,815 page bill if you all want to read yourself. I could easily be mistaken on the details, and who knows, they might change a paragraph or three, but it looks like the both houses have already negotiated and the votes will be just a formality.

    SECTION 1.
    5 This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Health and Economic
    6 Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act’’ or the
    7 ‘‘HEROES Act’’.

    So far this is what I get.
    (1) One time payment of $1,200,
    (2) vouchers for paying rent to go through the state housing authority (landlords really don’t like and often refuse them. Of course the rental market just tanked), if you are on disability, homeless, or unemployed.
    (3)Plus a moratorium on evictions for 12 months
    (4)Some kind of forbearance from paying mortgages also for 12 months plus money for the states to administer the mess.

    Congress could have just given everyone $2,000 a month for a year, stopped evictions or repossessions for non payment, and then pass an organized plan to pay for the rent or mortgage for a year. The stimulus payments could have gotten to most people with in two months and the better resourced federal government could have helped the states to deal with paying the landlords and banks quickly.

    Instead, the already overwhelmed state unemployment departments and probably their housing and disability departments too, which are also normally fast as cold molasses to process those vouchers, and of course the various state and federal attorneys will have to fight the some of the landlords who don’t want voucher or to wait a few months for payments. This is going to be a yearlong bureaucratic with both the states and people most in need of help having the most obstacles to get it.

    At least my state of California and most of the counties have a somewhat functioning bureaucracy. Some of the Southern states, not so much, and they have the greatest areas of poverty.

  27. Temporarily Sane

    Gotta say that no matter how much sense Bernie Sanders’ words make, after his recent capitulation to the Democratic Party establishment and offering his support to the creepy, cretinous and corrupt Joe Biden, they sound awfully hollow and, quite frankly, ridiculous. Stop embarrassing yourself, Bernie.

    He has proven to be just another establishment friendly career politician with zero integrity and courage – exactly as Chris Hedges predicted in 2017 – and I find it extremely difficult to muster up any lingering respect for the guy.

    Offering support to the Democratic Party and its celebrity “savior” candidates, hoping that one of them will magically transform the party from within, is a fool’s errand.


    The only hope lies with building a popular movement that can attract enough disaffected voters to eventually dislodge the Dem/Rep plutocracy. Bernie’s popularity, particularly in 2015/16, proves that a fired up independent candidate who challenges the reigning duopoly can have real bipartisan (cross-partisan?) appeal.

    If only he’d had the guts and integrity to ditch the back stabbing Dems and go 3rd party when his momentum was peaking, instead of supplicating to HRC and letting himself get constantly bullied and defamed by the DNC media apparatus and clowns like Liz Warren before selling his soul to Joe family bloggin’ Biden…man what a missed opportunity.

    1. David J.

      It’s one thing to be disappointed with Senator Sanders decision to suspend his campaign. I, too, am disappointed–especially because I live in a state which has not had its primary. I was looking forward to knocking on doors and making a case with fellow citizens. Given the circumstances, when a campaign depends upon grass roots campaigning, I am not surprised that Bernie did not see a pathway to the nomination. And, the fact that the establishment pulled the stunts it did to deprive him of a level-playing field had to be a factor in his decision, too.

      However, it is completely absurd to suggest that the Senator has no guts and integrity. He’s been a voice in the wilderness for 50 years. He is consistent and he has not been plagued by a whiff of scandal.

      Perhaps the mote is in our eyes. I was involved with Our Revolution post-2016 and we sure could have used the support–in the streets and helping to build some viable political depth–from a lot of the folks who are now whining about Sanders shortcomings.

    2. Acacia

      +100. Chris Hedges was recently on Jimmy Dore’s show and his read on all this is pretty solid.

      To effect real change, we need a third party.

    3. dk

      No argument against what you say but it’s difficult and expensive to get a completely new party into the state-level primary systems. It took the Greens a long time to become a single unified organization:

      Realistically, Bernie should have started to promote a national third party organization around 2012 or even earlier.

      Cuomo just got the NY Legislature to raise the threshold to get a ballot line from 15,000 to 45,000 signatures:

      This is from the FEC site’s glossary:

      [ state party committee ]
      Examples: receipt; Hybrid PAC
      A committee which, by virtue of the bylaws of a political party or the operation of state law is part of the official party structure and is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the party at the state level, including an entity that is directly or indirectly established, financed, maintained or controlled by that organization, as determined by the Commission. 11 CFR 100.14(a).

      So a party is supposed to be separate from a candidate’s campaign organization. State parties get some special privileges (usually a free voter file, automatic inclusion in state funding), but setting one up is an effort in itself, completely aside from the kind of factionalism that beset the Greens.

      Bernie could have teamed up with the DSA, but the various factions there would have been a challenge to negotiate. DSA remaining largely under the MSM radar has allowed them to build more steadily and be recognized locally as activists rather than empty ideologues.

      I think Bernie thought that he could at least swing the Dems at large to the left, and that did happen, it just didn’t budge the DNC core

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