2:00PM Water Cooler 5/13/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

#COVID19

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.

As an exercise in graph reading, I changed the log scale to a linear scale. What leaps out at me is the narrative that I could — were I so minded — construct: This is a Blue State crisis, primarily in New York, secondarily in California — and that “real America” has the virus pretty much under control. (I dom’t believe this, because of geometric growth given a hotspot, because public health needs to be considered at the national level, and also because #COVID19 looks like an extremely nasty way to go, but this narrative would not be hard to construct for a feral, competent political campaign.)

* * *

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.

Politics

“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

* * *

2020

Biden (D)(1): “Biden denies he’s ‘hiding,’ defends staying off campaign trail in person” [NBC]. Not the kind of headline your campaign manager wants to see. “”We’re on the campaign trail now,’ Biden said. ‘Everybody says, you know, ‘Biden’s hiding.’ Well, let me tell you something, we’re doing very well. We’re following the guidelines of the medical profession. We’re following the guidelines of the experts.’ ‘I’m following the rules,’ he added. ‘The president should follow the rules instead of showing up to places without masks and the whole thing.’ Biden said his campaign is ‘winning’ according to recent polling data, although he said he’s not sure how long his lead over President Donald Trump might last ahead of the November election. ‘The idea that somehow we are being hurt by my keeping to the rules and following the instructions that have been put forward by the docs is absolutely bizarre,’ Biden said. ‘I reject the premise that somehow this is hurting us. There’s no evidence of that.'” • “The docs”? I’m not sure how “following the instructions” is going to play out the authoritarian followers in Biden’s base. That said, Biden is holding up in the polls — as mysteriously as he did before The Night of The Long Knives. I can’t decided whether the Biden braints trust is galaxy-brained or idiotic.

Biden (D)(2): “Joe Biden’s Garbage Career: A Timeline” [Rampant]. “Joe Biden is not only a loyal soldier of neoliberalism, he has been the architect of much of today’s hellish political landscape. The last fifty years of ruling class ascendancy is a timeline studded with Creepy Joe’s despicable actions.” • Quite a bill of particulars, with lots of linky goodness.

Biden (D)(3): The Biden Platitude Generator, still being cranked:

Yeah, how’d that happen?

Sanders (D)(1): “Beyond Bernie: a Statement from the DSA National Political Committee” [DSA]. “The Democratic Socialists of America will not be endorsing Biden. We fully agree with Senator Sanders that taking on the reactionary, racist, and nationalist right wing represented by Donald Trump is imperative for the survival of millions of working-class people across the country and the world. We believe that the only way to beat the radical right once and for all is through a socialist movement that draws millions of disillusioned working-class people, here and abroad, into the political arena. We will continue to welcome the millions of people who supported Bernie’s platform and are looking for a political home. We also recognize this moment to strategically strengthen our movements and power. We will fight like hell against the Trump agenda by running pressure campaigns, engaging in mutual aid, helping to build strong, democratic unions, building coalitions with those organizing against capitalism, acting in solidarity with immigrants and incarcerated people against deportation and detention, working to protect tenants and unhoused people, organizing to expand voting rights, locations, and the right to vote by mail.”

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): “Transcript: A Conversation with Sen. Bernie Sanders” [WaPo]. “Look, no question, I am supporting Joe Biden. But Joe and I have very serious disagreements on policy. I think on Joe’s worst day he’ll be a thousand times better than Trump on his best day. So, I’m strongly supporting Joe…. But I think that it’s just hard for me to imagine how anybody can defend the current structure of our healthcare system…. So, you know, I believe that Medicare for All is a direction we have got to go. Healthcare is a human right, not an employee benefit. And I’m going to do my best to move Joe in that direction. And I think one way that we can move in that direction the age of Medicare eligibility, which is now 65, down to 55, and make sure that every kid in America under 18 has healthcare in a simple, cost-effective program. I think that’s a popular idea, and I hope Joe will move in that direction.” • Well, at least we’ve moved Medicare eligibility down to 55, which is what Clinton advocated, from 60, which was Biden’s original position. I can see Sander’s realpolitik (and recall his personal history with the Holocaust), though I disagree with it. (I would, as readers know, sharpen contradictions by supporting strikes.) Nevertheless, the idea that Obama selected Biden so that he could sell compromise with the left to the Establishment seems to me borderline delusional. (I don’t think Sanders is saying that, but there are yards and yards of fustian about that in liberal Democrats and adjacent media)

Trump (R)(1): “Trump’s Odds of Winning Reelection Are Higher Than You Think” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. “We’re more than one month into America’s worst economic crisis in 80 years and Trump’s approval rating is still considerably higher than it has been for most of his presidency…. [A] Reuters/Ipsos poll released last week found Trump in a statistical tie with Biden on the question of which candidate would be better at leading America’s coronavirus response, while voters deemed the president “better suited to create jobs” by a margin of 45 to 32 percent. To be sure, approval of Trump’s handling of the pandemic is trending down in most surveys. But it isn’t acting as an anchor around his overall popularity yet…. Due to the overrepresentation of heavily Republican, white, non-college-educated voters in battleground states, Biden will likely need to win the popular vote by roughly three points to secure an Electoral College majority. Further, as the New York Times’s Nate Cohn notes, most national polls are of registered voters, not likely ones. And since the GOP’s older voting base still turns out more reliably than the Democrats’ younger one, ‘a reasonable estimate is that Mr. Biden is performing four or five points worse among likely voters in the critical states than he is among registered voters nationwide.’…. For Democrats, none of this is that concerning so long as one posits that Trump’s crisis halo is in the process of wearing off and the well-established correlation between economic conditions and incumbent approval will soon resurface. But what if that correlation is an artifact of a less polarized time in American politics? Counting on the universe to give Donald Trump what he deserves may not be the safest bet.” • Again, Trump has form: Over and over again, he has escaped from impossible situations. This time we’ve got him!

Trump (R)(2): “CNN Poll: Biden tops Trump nationwide, but battlegrounds tilt Trump” [CNN]. “Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s lead over President Donald Trump now stands at five points, but Trump has an edge in the critical battleground states that could decide the electoral college, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS. In the new poll, 51% of registered voters nationwide back Biden, while 46% say they prefer Trump, while in the battlegrounds, 52% favor Trump and 45% Biden. Partisans are deeply entrenched in their corners, with 95% of Democrats behind Biden and the same share of Republicans behind Trump. The two are close among independents (50% back Trump, 46% Biden, not a large enough difference to be considered a lead), but Biden’s edge currently rests on the larger share of voters who identify as Democrats…. The results suggest that younger voters in the battleground states are tilted in favor of Trump.” • Good job, Dems!

* * *

“Biden, Sanders announce AOC, Kerry, Jayapal as co-chairs of unity task forces” [ABC]. “Former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders announced the members of six joint unity task forces Wednesday morning, which will ‘explore possible policy initiatives’–another notable step by the Democratic leaders trying to unite their party ahead of the November election. The eight member groups include a blend of members from progressive and establishment viewpoints to fill out the groups that were first announced along with Sanders’ endorsement of Biden back in April, and will focus on climate change, criminal justice reform, the economy, education, health care, and immigration policy. While Biden became the party’s presumptive nominee much earlier than in recent cycles, the former vice president has faced the challenge of appealing to Sanders supporters who fervently backed his progressive policies.” • Here are the members, with some not unimpressive names:

It’s hard to imagine Stephanie Kelton, say, getting rolled. Or Darrick Hamilton. Nevertheless, the Democrat Establishment has form: They are expert at decapitating left movements. So, very sadly, I would expect to hear a lot of heads thunking into baskets as this effort moves on.

* * *

“Ocasio-Cortez Commits Re-election Gaffe, Losing a Progressive Ballot Line” [New York Times]. “But Ms. Ocasio-Cortez will not be appearing on the Working Families Party ballot line in the November general election because she failed to collect the required number of signatures — 15… Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was found to have only 13 valid signatures after her petitions were challenged by lawyers for one of her opponents in the Democratic primary, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former anchorwoman for CNBC.” • Sloppy and bad. After 2016 and 2020, AOC thought the Democrat Establishment played softball? Pelosi would be very glad to store AOC’s head in her fridge. She could use it as a centerpiece for wine cave parties.

Obama Legacy

UPDATE “The Obamanauts” [Corey Robin, Dissent]. This article was mentioned on the West Wing Thing podcast, so I went back and reread it. “Obamanauts have a range of references to demonstrate their devotion. Hogwarts and St. Elmo’s Fire loom large. The West Wing is clearly the touchstone, however. Gautam Raghavan, who began working for Obama during the 2008 campaign, writes, ‘Working in Barack Obama’s White House was like watching Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing brought to life. It had all the necessary elements: the brilliant, articulate professor in chief with an unapologetically progressive vision of America; a narrative arc rooted in ongoing themes of idealism and public service; but most importantly, a cast of patriotic Americans who labored every day, as members of the President’s staff, to serve the country they loved.’ One collection of testimonials, edited by Raghavan, is called West Wingers; another memoir is called West Winging It.” • It has occurred to me that the Biden campaign is not so much selling Biden, as such, but the restoration of the Obama administration; that is, the Obama team — with Biden, obviously, serving as a meat puppet genial figurehead — would be back in power; professional, competence, governance that would listen to the experts and the science (but not pseudo-sciences, like mainstream macro, or pseudo-experts, like, say, Jon Gruber on healthcare). In other words, West Wing reruns. Except the West Wing is a horrible, horrible show, and a West Wing White House would be a horrible, horrible thing. Restoring it would be very bad.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Unpacking the Left’s Cultural Baggage” [The Bellows]. “The Left doesn’t quite know what to do with liberalism. On the one hand, we’re keen to critique certain aspects of liberal nonsense, like “lean-in” feminism or the absurdities of The New York Times. But we’ve also strangely accepted the contemporary culture of liberalism as having moral authority, as if it somehow floats free from liberals’ general political interests. This ‘cultural liberalism,’ which demands intersectional thinking and deferential behavior in accordance with reified social identities, dominates progressive activist circles. …The Left has traditionally affirmed liberalism’s commitment to freedom from discrimination and protected rights for all, while skewering liberals for failing to back the economic program necessary to realize those ideals as positive freedoms. It should be possible for us to fight against racism, sexism, and any form of discrimination while also spurning an obsession with identity, privilege-checking, and the increasingly demanding expectations around “correct” speech and action as offputting manifestations of a decadent liberalism. But instead, we’ve seen a program of universal demands wrapped in the unappealing packaging of liberal rhetoric and “values.” There are theoretical problems with “intersectionality” and the ascriptive hierarchies upon which it relies, but my concern here is practical, not academic. If we’re to accept the polls, the adoption of cultural liberalism has devastating political consequences. The broad majority of people in America are on board with the Left’s economic policy (Medicare for All, tuition-free public college, workplace democracy, a living wage) and support liberal social ideals (LGBTQ+ rights, reproductive freedom). Most people really like the substance of what the Left champions, and that should be a very encouraging sign. As advertised, Bernie 2020 was about Us, and we’d do well to reflect more on that fact. But what they really don’t like—and I mean really don’t like—are the many forms of cultural policing rooted in identitarian thinking. This is because they take intersectional moralizing to reflect ‘not so much genuine concern for social justice as the preening display of cultural superiority.'”

UPDATE Intersectional war criminals:

Not much sense of irony at Harvard Business School, apparently.

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.

Inflation: “April 2020 Producer Price Final Demand Year-over-Year Growth Now In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “The Producer Price Index (PPI) year-over-year inflation slowed from 0.7 % to -1.2 %, The monthly decrease is the largest since the index began in December 2009. Year-over-year inflation pressures again declined this month. This may be the beginning of a deflationary cycle – we will know only in hindsight.”

Containers: “April 2020 Sea Container Counts For Imports Improve But Remain In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “The container counts for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are deep in contraction – but imports were not as bad as last month whilst exports worsened…. A significant reason for the soft import container counts is the effects of the coronavirus both in the U.S. and internationally. This is on top of a trade war. The world is in a recession…. Some pundits think that the new Panama Canal locks have affected the West Coasts container counts – our analysis is that there is little impact. Many do not understand that the new locks are more expensive per ton. HOWEVER, a new trend is developing where the Suez Canal is being used more for shipments to the U.S. east coast. Imports container counts give an indication of the U.S. economy’s state and the soft data continues to indicate a weakening U.S. economy.”

Coincident Indicators: “12 May 2020 New York Fed Weekly Economic Index (WEI): Index Decline Continues Well Below Great Recession Levels” [Econintersect]. “This data set should be considered a high-frequency coincident indicator on a par with the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index produced by the Philly Fed – and both show conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic are already worse than the Great Recession. Simply the economy is in a recession and is still worsening.”

* * *

Shipping: “Maersk: Container volumes could fall 25%” [Freight Waves]. “Container volumes will drop sharply in the second quarter but the industry is in better position to manage the coronavirus crisis than previous downturns, according to Soren Skou, chief executive officer of A.P. Moller-Maersk, the owner of the world’s largest container line…. Maersk Line predicts second-quarter container volumes will fall 20%-25% year-on-year…. Maersk Line “blanked” (cancelled) more than 90 sailings in the first quarter to reduce variable costs, bringing deployed capacity down 3.5% year-on-year. Its loaded volumes fell from 3.15 million forty-foot equivalent units (FEU) in the first quarter of 2019 to 3.048 million FEU in the most recent period, a decline of 3.2%. Maersk expects to blank close to 140 of its sailings in the second quarter.”

Commodities: “Soybean farmers are preparing to reclaim their place in U.S. export markets. Some farmers are shifting acres from corn to soybeans this year… a reversal that reflects the coronavirus pandemic’s broad impact on demand for many agricultural products” [Wall Street Journal]. “The switch comes as demand for ethanol, which is made from corn, evaporates under weaker energy prices. That has farmers who had curbed soybean plantings during the trade war with China switching back. U.S. officials expect soybean exports to rise by 375 million bushels to over two billion bushels. That demand appears to already be ramping up, with Chinese state-run buyers purchasing more than 1 million metric tons of soybeans in the past two weeks.” • I should really file ethanol under “The Bezzle,” though.

The Bezzle: “[Uber Technologies Inc.] ss looking to acquire Grubhub Inc. in a deal that would unite two of the biggest players in meal delivery… in a move that would reshape a market that has grown more prominent under the coronavirus-driven lockdowns” [Wall Street Journal]. “Grubhub’s strength has been its corporate customers, however, and that market has receded under the pandemic. Food-delivery through its Uber Eats business has been positive for Uber, however, and the companies together represented nearly half the market last month. Putting them together would give Uber the critical scale it hasn’t been able to reach on its own.” • For “critical scale,” read “monopoly power.”

The Bezzle: “Volvo and Lidar-maker Luminar to Deliver Hands-free Driving by 2022” [IEEE Spectrum]. “The race to bring self-driving cars to showrooms may have a new leader: Volvo Cars said it will partner with Silicon Valley-based lidar manufacturer Luminar to deliver genuine hands-free, eyes-off-the-road highway driving beginning in 2022. That so-called ‘Level 3’ capability would be an industry first, as companies from Tesla to Uber thus far have failed to meet lofty promises to make autonomous driving a reality.” • Oh, level three….

The Bezzle: “Why Elon Musk disobeyed government orders and reopened a Tesla factory” [Recode]. May 12: “How local officials, who maintain they’re still negotiating with Tesla on how to reopen safely, ultimately respond will reveal how much power they really have in enforcing social distancing and stay-at-home measures. After all, Tesla coming away unscathed could set a concerning precedent for local officials that will need to push back against influential companies eager to resume production and manufacturing. Plenty of people have been caught violating rules instituted by the pandemic, and some — disproportionately black and brown people — have been arrested. But Musk is quite literally one of the richest men alive and, thanks in part to his fervent fan base, seems to believe that Tesla will not be penalized, despite the order. In fact, he’s already warned that the manufacturing currently done in Fremont could potentially be moved elsewhere.” • So, how much power does local government have?

The Bezzle: “California Officials Capitulate To Elon Musk, Allow Tesla Plant To Reopen” [CBS]. May 13: “Alameda County gave Tesla its blessing on the condition that it maintain “minimum business operations” and implement additional safety recommendations, according to a company statement that was released on Tuesday. The county said Tesla could possibly re-open as soon as next week, though the company has already begun production despite coronavirus concerns, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk…. The Alameda County health department said it would allow additional approved activities for Tesla and other local businesses before Monday as long as they show progress towards complying with their Covid-19 indicators.” • Oh, “show progress.” File this under Failed State Watch. Now nobody else needs to obey local officals in Alameda County either. Why would they?

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

“Is This a Dress Rehearsal?” [Bruno Latour, In The Moment (DG)]. “There is a huge gulf between the state that is able to say ‘I protect you from life and death,’ that is to say from infection by a virus whose trace is known only to scientists and whose effects can only be understood by collecting statistics, and the state that would dare to say ‘I protect you from life and death, because I maintain the conditions of habitability of all the living people on whom you depend.'”

Health Care

“COVID-19 Continues to Waylay Healthcare Workers” [MedPage Today]. “Of 763 respondents in a MedPage Today survey — 86% of whom were physicians — 4.91% reported they had or currently have COVID-19…. The majority of respondents, 56%, still rated their access to COVID-19 testing as fair or poor, representing an improvement from the 67% fair-to-poor rating of 2 weeks ago. ‘It is still very difficult. We still predominately test if you are being admitted or, now, if you need an elective surgery or admission to a skilled nursing facility. Outpatient is still chaos,’ wrote an infectious disease specialist. ‘Only admitted patients get tested,’ noted a cardiologist in New York City. ‘The hospital is not routinely testing staff workers who want testing,’ another New York physician said.” • Good data, worth a read.

“Get Ready for a Vaccine Information War” [New York Times]. “I’ve been following the anti-vaccine community on and off for years, watching its members operate in private Facebook groups and Instagram accounts, and have found that they are much more organized and strategic than many of their critics believe. They are savvy media manipulators, effective communicators and experienced at exploiting the weaknesses of social media platforms. (Just one example: Shortly after Facebook and YouTube began taking down copies of “Plandemic” for violating their rules, I saw people in anti-vaccine groups editing it in subtle ways to evade the platforms’ automated enforcement software and reposting it.) In short, the anti-vaxxers have been practicing for this…. And years of battling states and school districts over mandatory vaccine policies have given them a playbook for creating a tangle of legal roadblocks and damaging publicity campaigns.”

“The online competition between pro- and anti-vaccination views” [Nature]. “Distrust in scientific expertise is dangerous. Opposition to vaccination with a future vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the causal agent of COVID-19, for example, could amplify outbreaks, as happened for measles in 2019. Homemade remedies and falsehoods are being shared widely on the Internet, as well as dismissals of expert advice. There is a lack of understanding about how this distrust evolves at the system level. Here we provide a map of the contention surrounding vaccines that has emerged from the global pool of around three billion Facebook users. Its core reveals a multi-sided landscape of unprecedented intricacy that involves nearly 100 million individuals partitioned into highly dynamic, interconnected clusters across cities, countries, continents and languages. Although smaller in overall size, anti-vaccination clusters manage to become highly entangled with undecided clusters in the main online network, whereas pro-vaccination clusters are more peripheral. Our theoretical framework reproduces the recent explosive growth in anti-vaccination views, and predicts that these views will dominate in a decade.” • “The right to infect others shall not be infringed” doesn’t sound like a recipe for anything other than a Mad Max future. On the other hand, blanket acceptance of scientific expertise? Really? Ugh, what a horrid problem.

“Jury still out on drugs touted by Donald Trump in coronavirus treatment, study finds” [South China Morning Post]. • An even-handed wrap-up of hydroxychloroquine solutions. Conclusion: “‘Certainly we have very limited options as far as what we have seen work for this infection so anything that may work is very exciting,’ Joseph Rahimian, the corresponding author of the NYU study, told news channel Spectrum News NY1 on Tuesday.” Yep.

“COVID-19 Targets the Elderly. Why Don’t Our Prevention Efforts?” [David Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine]. “But one observation from the early days of the pandemic has been confirmed again and again, in country after country: The lethality of the virus rises sharply with age. In the United States, we have spent much of the last few months enacting and debating uniform, universal public-health measures, which treat each citizen equally for the purposes of applied policy: social-distancing measures; “stay at home” or “shelter in place” guidelines; modified guidelines for essential workers, all 50 million of them; possible testing regimes, including “test, trace, and isolate”; and now a gradual reopening of those measures, typically state by state. Our policy, by and large, has treated every person as equally at risk, but the disease doesn’t treat us all equally… But noting that different groups are differently vulnerable is only an argument for throwing up your hands and “letting it rip” in a political and social environment in which you only have two options: total lockdown or total indifference. Strangely, that has been, for the most part, how the U.S. has chosen to fight this disease, embracing “stay at home” and “shelter in place,” which are effective quarantines, all across the country without even attempting to impose, in most parts of the country, less invasive social-distancing measures and without rolling out anywhere in the U.S. anything like the expansive testing programs that have allowed many countries, particularly in Asia, to avoid the need for extended lockdowns…. So what would a more targeted public-health approach look like? Let’s take just the age-skew data and rewind to late February, when the first two residents of the Life Care nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, died from COVID-19. At that point, given the striking clarity of the data as it was coming out of China, a national effort to focus on protecting the health of the country’s elderly could have begun in earnest.” • Maybe with global warming, we don’t have any ice floes? (Or, more plausibly, the situation in the for-profit nursing home industry is so appalling that there was little to be done.) An excellent article, well worth a read, especially for this old codger.

Class Warfare

“Coronavirus likely forced 27 million off their health insurance” [Axios]. “Roughly 27 million people have likely have lost job-based health coverage since the coronavirus shocked the economy, according to new estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundation.” • The health insurance they loved [wipes tear]. Obviously, employment-based insurance is a demented system. The thing is, giving people #MedicareForAll might get them thinking. Why, after all, should anything be employment-based, given these darned crashes that keep happening? Why is housing employment-based? Food?

News of the Wired

I think if I understood this, it would be very funny. It’s certainly retro!

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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 (AM):

AM writes: “From my daily walk – Temple of Music, Roger Williams Park. Rain and wind makes social distancing a snap!” A very pleasant, restful prospect. And I encourage walks!

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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.

166 comments

  1. allan

    Abbott Virus Test Used at White House Faces Accuracy Questions [Bloomberg]

    based on

    Comparison of Cepheid Xpert Xpress and Abbott ID Now to Roche cobas for the Rapid Detection of SARS-CoV-2 [bioRxiv]

    Abstract

    The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has created an urgent and unprecedented need for rapid large-scale diagnostic testing to inform timely patient management. This study compared two recently-authorized rapid tests, Cepheid Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2 and Abbott ID Now SARS-CoV-2 to the Roche cobas SARS-CoV-2 assay. A total of 113 nasopharyngeal swabs were tested, including 88 positives spanning the full range of observed Ct values on the cobas assay. Compared to cobas, the overall positive agreement was 73.9% with ID Now and 98.9% with Xpert. Negative agreement was 100% and 92.0% for ID Now and Xpert, respectively. Both ID Now and Xpert showed 100% positive agreement for medium and high viral concentrations (Ct value 30, positive agreement was 34.3% for ID Now and 97.1% for Xpert. These findings highlight an important limitation of ID Now for specimens collected in viral or universal transport media with low viral concentrations. Further studies are needed to evaluate the performance of ID Now for direct swabs.

    Oops. But 73.9% is a gentleman’s C A, right?
    The problem with always be closing is that Mother Nature isn’t some gullible rube.

    Reply
    1. MLTPB

      What is the percentage of ID Now showing negative when the reality (or the good standard of Roche cobas) is positive?

      Is it 1 – 0.739?

      And the percentage being off thrice? Is it (1-0.739) to the 3rd power, or 0.02?

      Taking it three times a day, or over 3 days at once daily, it seems a percentage (whatever the number, since I am not sure the answer to the question at the top of this comment is) is reduced greatly.

      Reply
      1. allan

        In low viral load situations, the ID Now is missing 2/3 of positive cases, and overall is missing 1/5.
        A pretty shaky foundation on which to reopen an economy or an educational system.

        The Microbiologist-in-Chief described the test on March 30
        as A milestone in our war against the coronavirus. For some definition of mile.

        Reply
        1. MLTPB

          By testing more often, for a small group of leaders, this is possible, the likelihood can be changed.

          If it misses 2/3, after 3 straight tests, the number is 8/27, and 16/81 after 4.

          Of course, maybe try a different test.

          Reply
          1. allan

            Sure, in theory. If the test failures are independent random variables.
            Maybe they are, but maybe they aren’t.

            Also: Tracking down the price per test seems harder than it should be,
            but one article referenced a cost to the provider of $40 per ID Now test.
            How many tests is Your Employer Provided Health Insurance That
            You Don’t Want to Give Up For Socialized Medicine™
            going to be willing to pay for per person per day?

            Reply
  2. Toshiro_Mifune

    “Unpacking the Left’s Cultural Baggage”
    Regarding academia but not confined to it; There are large swathes of the current western cultural status quo that were born out of the rise of liberalism, are part and parcel to it, yet are built on some exceedingly flimsy precepts. In quite a few cases ones that dont stand up to very much prodding at all. Their dominance, in many cases, comes from… well, you probably already know; self reinforcing orthodoxy in the academy and its attendant organs, fear of questioning both on the personal level and institutional, not to mention the $$$ that goes along with accepting things as they are.
    If you have a certain type of gaze you can look out and see how flimsy some of this all is. It’s going to be quite a shock to some once the edifice starts to crumble.

    ** Im not speaking in specifics both to avoid stupidly long and involved discussions and also… as a former aspirant to the academy I know the weapons they use to enforce the orthodoxy and dont really want them aimed at me.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      >fear of questioning both on the personal level and institutional,

      What’s most interesting are so many people at the very top that don’t have that fear — but by that I do not mean they aren’t afraid of questioning, but it is obvious they don’t even have the concept that there might be something to question.

      Reply
    2. Bs

      You are so right, it’s like judeo-Christian, how’d the judeo get there?. How western civilization is glorified, more in 70s when I was getting my ‘higher education’, then, but still the A-Z. Funny, is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?’And why – If Foucault is right, we are subject to the power of correct training whenever we are tied to our school desks. Behavioral psychology in action you behave or else. You will follow the plan as presented or else. (I firmly put myself in the or else category.) Just a kinder gentler form of Hobbs. Liberal as a concept say by Locke is fine but any implementation is bound to weak and subject to losing in power plays. Which is what reality shows. Whatever it’s merits -liberal, it’s not any good for solving any if the problems we have now.

      Reply
    3. km

      I believe that it was Tom Wolfe who wrote that leftist college students have long affected proletarian funkiness, but they would be horrified to be mistaken for actual proles.

      Reply
      1. dcblogger

        did Tom Wolfe actually know any leftist college students? He went to a hideous Catholic military academy in Richmond, Virginia. Not a place to learn respect for workers, blacks, or anyone who disagreed with you.

        Reply
    4. DJG

      Mifune-san: In a way, I wish that you would be more specific. After reading the article by Fong, I was particularly impressed with Fong’s point that the left cannot talk like liberals and expect people to continue to listen.

      Yet I find that in the U S of A, Land of Self-Assertion, we have liberal focus on the self-asserting individual–this constant trotting out of certain agreed-upon markers–yet we also see the same on the American neo-right in particular around religious matters, worship of the “free market,” patriotism, and denial of class issues. (Less so among U.S. paleo-conservatives, who all seem to be content remaining Presbyterians and eating their vegetables overcooked.)

      We see it in the liberal interest in Native Americans as diversity trophies but not in dealing with what the country as a whole owes to Native Americans. (Likewise on the right.) We see it in liberals intoning the expression Dead White Men (which somehow, curiously, applies to Greeks and Romans, hardly All-American types) for fear of the message of those long dead Mediterranean men and women–and we see that the neo-right has little interest in those messages, either. (Sappho! Icky!)

      In short, I’d venture that the left has to get the message out that change can benefit everyone–we can achieve ends even if we differ on means. Meanwhile, liberals and the neo-right can concentrate on what moves them: You have to be the right kind of person to deserve change–and who better to decide if you deserve change than the Pelosis and Pences of this world?

      Reply
      1. Gregorio

        That “cultural liberalism” has certainly painted Biden in a box. Liberals self-righteously went all in on the always believe women, #metoo, narrative during the Kavanaugh hearings, now Biden’s in the position of either dropping out or demonstrating just how hypocritical, and morally bankrupt, he and his virtue signaling supporters are. He always was a weak candidate and now he’s dragging a #metoo anchor around.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          Does not matter. He is their candidate, and they’ve proven time and again that principles are “flexible,” and badness is “relative.”

          So what if he gropes and fingers women? “He’s our guy!”

          Cognitive dissonance does not affect partisans protecting their rice bowls.

          Reply
        2. Oregoncharles

          Electorally, it may not matter, because the people “committed”to #MeToo are the same ones even more committed to getting rid of Trump – via the Democratic Party. They may squirm a little, and Trump will do his best to “heighten the contradictions,” but it’ll have no effect in the end.

          The hypocrisy is impressive, but pretty much comes with the territory. Unfortunately, I suspect that sexual misbehavior does, too.

          Reply
    5. Left in Wisconsin

      1. I think we are all liberals (in the older sense, not the US political sense). In my six decades, I have met only a handful of people who are truly not motivated by or did not think in terms of self-actualization (which is a deeply problematic notion). My argument with liberals is not that liberalism is wrong but that we need socialism in order to achieve liberalism for all => Marx’s “hunting in the morning, fishing in the afternoon…” I’m sure this is problematic in terms of political theory but thankfully most of us don’t live in that world.
      2. The intersectionals are onto something even though the IdPols twist it and deform it. This gets back to #1: there is no future worth fighting for in which self-actualization is not prioritized and class is not the only mechanism by which people are oppressed.
      3. Keep our eyes on the prize. I’m increasingly persuaded by Chantal Mouffe’s idea that democratic politics is defined by who your enemy is. This is where the distinction between IdPol and intersectionality becomes clear. For the former, the enemy is racists, homophobes, misogynists, etc. For the latter, the enemy is elites – of all sorts. The political challenges are two: i) a huge swath of the WWC that has been persuaded that their enemy is cultural elites and that capitalist elites are their allies. Divide and conquer. ii) for marginalized individuals, their (liberal) lives are objectively made worse by acts of racism, homophobia, misogyny, etc. even if the perpetrators of those acts are putative allies. So there is a need to condemn and educate at the same time. So another distinction would be intersectional = educate, IdPol = moralize.

      Reply
    6. clarky90

      Liberal rhetoric is often dislocated from liberal actions. The words are kind, but not so the practice.

      “Speech at the First All-Union Conference of Stakhanovites
      17 November 1935”, Joseph Stalin

      The timing of his speech is deranged.
      “17 November 1935”!

      Stalin’s Soviet Union had just emerged from the famines of 1932-33.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_famine_of_1932%E2%80%9333

      Which had been orchestrated by Lazar Kaganovich.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazar_Kaganovich

      During the very time of the speech, (November 1935), Stalin was in the process of planning the coming Great Purge, 1936-1938. Also to be a Kaganovich project.
      (Kaganovich is cut from the same cloth as the Nazi mass murderers.)

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Purge

      Here is a bit of Stalin’s speech……

      “Speech at the First All-Union Conference……Nov 1935”
      https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1935/11/17.htm

      “…….What are the roots of the Stakhanov movement?

      There are at least four such causes.

      1. The basis for the Stakhanov movement was first and foremost the radical improvement in the material welfare of the workers. Life has improved, comrades. Life has become more joyous. And when life is joyous, work goes well. Hence the high rates of output. Hence the heroes and heroines of labour.

      That, primarily, is the root of the Stakhanov movement.

      If there had been a crisis in our country, if there had been unemployment – that scourge of the working class – if people in our country lived badly, drably, joylessly, we should have had nothing like the Stakhanov movement. (Applause.) Our proletarian revolution is the only revolution in the world which had the opportunity of showing the people not only political results but also material results. Of all workers’ revolutions, we know only one which managed to achieve power. That was the Paris Commune. But it did not last long. True, it endeavoured to smash the fetters of capitalism; but it did not have time enough to smash them, and still less to show the people the beneficial material results of revolution. Our revolution is the only one which not only smashed the the fetters of capitalism and brought the people freedom, but also succeeded in creating the material conditions of a prosperous life for the people. Therein lies the strength and invincibility of our revolution.

      It is a good thing, of course, to drive out the capitalists, to drive out the landlords, to drive out the tsarist henchmen, to seize power and achieve freedom.

      That is very good. But, unfortunately, freedom alone is not enough, by far. If there is a shortage of bread, a shortage of butter and fats, a shortage of textiles, and if housing conditions are bad, freedom will not carry you very far. It is very difficult, comrades, to live on freedom alone. (Shouts of approval. Applause.) In order to live well and joyously, the benefits of political freedom must be supplemented by material benefits. It is a distinctive feature of our revolution that it brought the people not only freedom, but also material benefits and the possibility of a prosperous and cultured life. That is why life has become joyous in our country……”

      Reply
        1. clarky90

          Barack Obama, the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, July 27, 2004

          https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19751-2004Jul27.html

          The Audacity of Hope

          “…………..(APPLAUSE)

          OBAMA: In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism, or do we participate in a politics of hope?

          John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism here, the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t think about it, or health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it.

          That’s not what I’m talking. I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker’s son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.

          (APPLAUSE)

          OBAMA: Hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of hope: In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation, a belief in things not seen, a belief that there are better days ahead.

          I believe that we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity.

          I believe we can provide jobs for the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair.

          I believe that we have a righteous wind at our backs,……”

          Reply
    7. Tomonthebeach

      It may be that many Americans conflate civility with political correctness – which it is not – but the two are often temporally coincidental and that might be what creates the confusion.

      I think that a big problem with PC is that, like “libtard,” it is viewed to be an ill-defined pejorative. People whose work and social lives do not place much emphasis on civil speech and cultural awareness are likely to feel awkward in settings where such behavior is the norm. If they misspeak, it is embarrassing – even humiliating. They might “feel” denigrated to “Low Class.” People who are well-educated, professionals, upper 40% are probably most likely to react to some inappropriate vulgarity or, as Trump recently showed, asking a Chinese American journalist to take her question to the Chinese – tres insensitive. That was very un-PC, and most MAGAs likely cheered it on. Were they being xenophobic, racist, or just happy Trump’s behavior told the “elite press” to F—- off for putting down PC speech?

      Reply
      1. Temporarily Sane

        People who are well-educated, professionals, upper 40% are probably most likely to react to some inappropriate vulgarity or, as Trump recently showed, asking a Chinese American journalist to take her question to the Chinese – tres insensitive.

        Yet those same educated professionals are just as quick to jump on the “foreign enemy” bandwagon, as they did with Russiagate and are now doing with the “China threat.”

        They will speak out against Trump’s travel restrictions or the mistreatment of individual Muslims in the United States but shrug their shoulders at, or even support, the war against Muslim Yemen or inhumane sanctions against Muslim Iran.

        Sure there are exceptions, but many many liberal professionals are all about virtue signalling and maintaining the rarified atmosphere inside their reality exclusion bubble. They are substance free status chasers.

        Honest self-criticism and reflecting on their own attitudes and position in society is the last thing on their minds.

        The refusal to hold Biden to the same standards as people they don’t like perfectly encapsulates the liberal PMC’s phony, two-faced elitist attitude. It exposes them as the worst sort of morally bankrupt hypocrites.

        Reply
    1. CraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazyChris

      maybe someone has pointed this out before … if so, I don’t recall (like Flynn), but I realized recently that these “please refresh your browsers” posts are sort of a ‘schtick’ thing. I mean, it’s not effective because you have to refresh first to see the “please refresh”. (To be fair, it does put a timestamp on the updates, which has some value.)

      Reply
  3. Geo

    Re: Biden Unity Task Farce

    Curious what the negativity of AOC being on the task force is for? Sure it’s a farce but what is the other option(s)?

    “AOC thought the Democrat Establishment played softball? Pelosi would be very glad to store AOC’s head in her fridge. She could be it as a centerpiece for wine cave parties.”

    There’s always a theat of the centrist blob absorbing her or backstabbing her as they surely want to do but these are the people who lead the party she is in. Should she just sit in the corner and give them a mean look while they go about their business, or, is it better to join in and wield whatever meager influence she has on the proceedings?

    We don’t have a progressive party or any sizable representation within the Dem Party. Until we do what other option do the few progressive reps have but to work within the confines of the current party power structure? I’d love to see AOC it’s a Molotov cocktail into the next unity meeting as much as anyone but doubtful it would do much to further the progressive agenda.

    Seems our best option is to build up a real progressive movement so that our elected reps have actual leverage and not just Twitter followers. But expecting a few “squad” members or Bernie to accomplish much in the current neoliberal regime seems to be asking for miracles. They’re working within a corrupt system trying to fix it from the inside. Even if they only get us a few breadcrumbs now and then that’s more then we’d get without them. I sont get the animosity toward them. They’re not infallible deities. They make mistakes and have flaws. Still infinitely better than the rest of our elected reps. At least they try to do good things once in a while.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I dont get the animosity toward them. They’re not infallible deities. They make mistakes and have flaws. Still infinitely better than the rest of our elected reps.

      Electeds gotta elected….

      On the task force, if the left is to govern, it needs to get near the act of governing, and that is only done in practice, through the exercise of power, however attenuated and contingent. We can only hope their heads don’t end up in baskets, as after being guillotined!

      Reply
    2. Bsoder

      I want AOC re-elected, including her politics I like her person. Got a request to donate some funds and I did. Cuomo would love to see her head on a spike.

      Reply
    3. km

      How did Huey P. Long govern? When he first entered office, the Louisiana of his day was a de facto one-party state, one in which large swathes of the population were actively prevented from voting, and the folks who actually ran Louisiana were not shy about using bribery, blackmail or actual violence to get their way. And it wasn’t like the national Team D organization was bending over backwards to help him.

      Say what you want about the man and his methods, in Huey P. Long, there was a man Who Got Stuff Done.

      Reply
      1. paul

        I know I have resist the reply button.
        but there you go.

        I remember watching paul newman’s essay on the subject’s life .

        If you look at what he did with ‘power of attorney’, or ‘the verdict’ even as his popular memory was fading, if I had a hat , I would tip it, slightly and slowly .

        ‘there is still a lot of snap in my garters”

        is my takeaway from that work.

        Reply
        1. Kevin Carhart

          what is paul newman’s essay on the subject’s life? I find your reference cryptic and am staring at a newman filmography now. I found Randy Newman, “Kingfish,” but that’s different. Please elaborate if you remember the name. thanks!

          Reply
          1. Bugs Bunny

            “Blaze” – Paul Newman, Lolita Davidovich (1989)

            https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096943/?ref_=tt_urv

            Slightly fictionalized biography of late period Huey Long and his girlfriend Blaze Starr who worked as a stripper. Not a documentary but based on her memoir; she got a co-screenwriter credit.

            Saw it back in the day. Newman is great. He was always great. Not sure we have actors like that anymore.

            Reply
          2. Redlife2017

            Maybe he means the movie “Blaze” where Newman plays Earl Long (also Gov of Lousiana) who is the younger brother of Huey.

            Edit: Bugs Bunny got there before me!

            Reply
      2. JBird4049

        It seems like today’s Monoparty is using bribery, blackmail, and (for now) the threat of actual violence while brutally destroying, even economically murdering the general population; the Kingfish at least did somethings to help Louisianians. We are between Scylla and Charybdis here. There are no good choices.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          We are not even allowed to consider “outside the box” solutions, such as ‘real’ socialism and co-operative economic systems.
          As the JFK (?) quote says: “If you deny people a legal way to effect change, you leave them no alternative but revolution.” [Sic]

          Reply
        2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Any volunteers willing to be strapped to the masts as sacrifices so we don’t lose the whole boat???

          Reply
    4. The Rev Kev

      ‘Seems our best option is to build up a real progressive movement so that our elected reps have actual leverage and not just Twitter followers.’

      Of course once a person like AOC commits to supporting Biden’s bid for the Presidency, they have lost all leverage with Biden and can then be safely ignored. Same applies to any others who have announced that they will back Biden too like Sanders. I don’t know what these task forces are expected to get. It sounds like a bad t-shirt as in “I ran for the Presidency and all I got was this lousy task force”

      Reply
      1. Temporarily Sane

        Exactly. Which is why AOC and other blowhard “progressives” are absolutely useless. Talk – Action = 0

        Reply
  4. Eureka Springs

    A “task force” is denial, thinking about maybe someday, like Thursdays after lunch for thirty minutes, pretending bargaining might be in the future. This is just before going to vote unanimously on giving Trump and MIC more money than ever before, even more than requested.

    Come to think of it that describes progressive perfectly, even all those years when progs were the largest caucus in the D party and Dems controlled the House.

    Reply
  5. Louis Fyne

    If one want to put a tin foil hat on, Elon is desperate to open his factory becauae Tesla may suffer a liquidity crunch if the factory remains closed (as the factory also supplies for Tesla China)….$8B reported cash on its 10-q notwithstanding.

    GM and Ford aren’t flouting Gov Witmer in Michigan

    Reply
      1. hunkerdown

        Manufacturing was allowed to reopen in Michigan, starting Monday, May 11 (some restrictions apply). I don’t know how many factories have reopened as a result but I see loads of “Now hiring” signs for all kinds of factories. I suppose that, once parts start flowing again, they’ll be resuming production as demand warrants.

        Reply
        1. CuriosityConcern

          Well-to-do customers not out of work vs less well-to-do customers who may not be in the market for a new car at this juncture.
          Aside, starting to lose my Elon fan-boy shine. Was impressed and happy that Tesla was driving EV adoption, less impressed and happy when news about how purchasing a used Tesla might bar you from using software already installed in the car.
          Elon’s behavior in flouting health directives and throwing a hissy fit tweet storm about seem like a manic episode. Maybe he is really a true believer in ev adoption and feels it is of great import to get those cars rolling off the line, but the race-to-the-bottom threats of moving the business to more lax jurisdictions are a big part of the problem.

          Reply
          1. HotFlash

            I have long-time thought that the real agenda of the ‘move fast and break things’ bunch, eg, Amazon (who don’t pay state/local sales or property taxes => break them financially), Uber and AirBnb (who defy local/municipal laws => render them impotent), etc, was to break society, starting with local and municipal governments, oh, and unions, and that is why the .01% keeps them flush despite chronic losses. They are mercenary socio-political shock troops. And the 99% are totally supporting them! So I guess we deserve what we get.

            Reply
            1. Ed Miller

              Have thought this way for years – the top of the power structure (likely global finance) is determined to use every means possible to push down. A world of debt serfs ruled by unseen puppet masters. Votes don’t really matter when the government isn’t the true ruling authority.

              Reply
  6. flora

    re: Trump(R)(1) odds of winning are higher than you think.

    For Democrats, none of this is that concerning so long as one posits that Trump’s crisis halo is in the process of wearing off and the well-established correlation between economic conditions and incumbent approval will soon resurface.

    That’s been a general pattern. Except, in 2008 O campaigned with speeches that sort of implied New Deal sensibilities, that he’d clean up the tbtf banks and protect the middle class and working class from financial predators. And we know how that movie ended. (The same way the movie ended after Clinton, also campaigning with implied New Deal sensibilities, switched to Reaganomics once elected.)

    Given this 28 year history of this particular bait-and-switch ploy, I think regular, Main Street Dems voters have every reason to distrust this year’s Dem estab candidate; every reason to doubt he will make their economic lives any better. My 2 cents.

    Reply
    1. Bsoder

      trump will not win. Biden is demented as in has dementia and his handlers will make sure that whatever the people want to hear they will. Actually, Biden playing rope-dope with trump will drive trump crazy. Trump wants to punch the guy in the face on national tee vee. Follow Nancy’s lead – taunt him to death. But the people are tired of the circus act. Really are. Many won’t say it but if you listen to what’s bothering them… I can’t see them voting or voting for that guy. Not in the Great Lakes states.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        I think that the group to watch out for this cycle will be the “none of the above” non voters.
        What will it say if a half of the potential voters stay home this cycle?
        This situation is tailor made for a charismatic demagogue.

        Reply
        1. Librarian Guy

          DownWithTyranny some time in the last month printed a map of all the states in which None of the Above won in the last Presidential cycle (divided 3 ways between NoTA, HRC & DJT).

          I’m probably mistaken as to exact #, but I think between the 2 of them, Trump and HRC won 5 states total, 45 were NoTA.

          It’d be amusing if it weren’t so sad. (Sorry I’m too lazy to look it up at the moment)

          Reply
      2. Jessica

        Bsoder,
        Are these folks who never liked Trump but are now completely and utterly sick of him or are these folks who used to support Trump but have stopped?

        Reply
        1. BoyDownTheLane

          I assume everyone here is aware that Biden made the list.

          “… Biden is listed as requesting the unmasking on January 12, 2017, the same day the Washington Post published a story claiming that Flynn had misreported his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, based on leaked NSA information. Yet on Tuesday, Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he “knew nothing” about the investigation of Flynn, and accused the Trump administration of using the former adviser’s case as a “diversion” from the Covid-19 pandemic….”

          https://www.rt.com/usa/488579-flynn-unmasking-obama-administration/

          Ed.: But Jill will be filing one of those ‘friend of the court’ briefs…]

          Reply
        2. HotFlash

          I agree, Fiery. It is not the Dems turn! Didn’t Hillary get the memo in 2016? R’s get 4 more years and *then* it’s the D’s turn, for yrs times 2. Unless the D election hackers are way better than the R election hackers. The D’s, IMO, did fine with the D primary, or at least the reporting thereof. But national, that’s another kettle of lutefisk.

          Reply
          1. neo-realist

            Republican HW Bush only received one term 88-92 cause the economy went down the poop shoot. Between Trump’s handling of Covid-19, massive outbreaks of said infection in red and swing states, as well as a economy going down the poop shoot, his re-election is not guaranteed IMO. This is not to say that Biden will win in a route, but even a senile DINO can put the Presidential race in serious play against a very incompetent incumbent with a track record and some buyer’s remorse – some Trump voters as well as people who sat on their hands and said it won’t matter much.

            That being said, if the dems don’t engage in their own chicanery on election day or have lawyers on the ground to stop or minimize republican chicanery, then, yes, Trump could pull out another four years.

            Reply
    2. Glen

      I tend to agree. The Democrats running as New Deal progressives, and then governing to the right of Reagan ran out of steam in 2016. Any further “run as a New Dealer” rhetoric is probably counterproductive at this point. Biden literally won by saying he would do nothing except a “return to normal”. At least that had the merit of being the truth. Switching to some goofy Rooseveltian posture at this point is a lie, and everybody knows it. Better that he runs as marginally better than Trump and lean into that.

      Personally, there is no way I’m voting for Biden, and if he is on the ballot in November, I’m going to reward the Democratic party by voting ALL of the Democrats on the ballot out. I think the biggest problem with Biden is what I call normalization. Biden will want to make the New Great Depression the new norm, and he will get all of the elites and MSM behind him so most people will go along with it.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Biden will more probably get in line with the elites and all. He is not “Fearless Leader” material.
        Like it was with later Reagan and Bush II, the powers behind the throne will be in charge. Those people are who we should be focusing on.
        If Biden prevails, and this is not set in stone, he looks to be bringing in the old Obama henchmen. If so, expect to see the Fifth Bush II Administration.
        This situation is too fluid yet to make any hard and fast prognostications.

        Reply
      2. HotFlash

        and he will get all of the elites and MSM behind him so most people will go along with it.

        He doesn’t have to get them behind him. He is *already* behind most of the elites. That is why he won in the Night of the Long Telephone Call. He, the politicals of both stripes, and the MSM. Voters will get behind him, or Trump, or NOTA, doesn’t matter. Result favorable to .01% is assured.

        Reply
      3. allan

        he will get all of the elites

        No. Trump has massive support from the .01%. Which is why he’s out-raising Biden 4-1.
        Trump has delivered multi-trillion dollar tax cuts, is destroying the regulatory state,
        and is making the federal judiciary a spin-off of the Federalist Society for at least a generation.
        If you’re a hedgie, what’s not to love?

        How Greenwich Republicans Learned to Love Trump [New Yorker]

        Reply
    3. voteforno6

      In 2016, people made the mistake of assuming that it would be like 2012. This year, I wonder if a lot of people are still thinking like it’s 2016. Trump has nominally been in charge for the past 3+ years, so it’ll be hard for him to run like he’s some sort of outsider. Also, as Bsoder noted above, I do think that there’s a certain level of Trump fatigue. Combine that with the outright hatred that others have toward him, and it does make things very difficult for him. I do think that this election will be a referendum of sorts on Trump’s performance in office. That will certainly make it more difficult for him.

      Reply
      1. Mike Mc

        Meh. Nebraska primary yesterday had 237,000 or so registered Republicans voting for Trump, after ag tariff wars, soybean market crash, tax cut (Richie Rich bailout # eleventeen), 80,000 plus dead Americans from COVID-19 and unemployment as bad as the Great Depression and an oil price crash to boot.

        WTF? Plotting our exit strategy now – I retire in a few months, wife is independent contractor – and hoping other countries will actually still let Americans in.

        As we say in the summertime in the Midwest, it ain’t the heat – it’s the stupidity.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          I’m seeing a trend for foreign countries to restrict American emigration to their ‘shores.’ You being in the Midwest, you all might look into finding a nice, insular, small town with a populace that you can blend into that is defensible. I mentioned regionalism as the coming thing in an earlier comment thread. As we Lovecraftian CT Fiends like to chant; ‘The Stars Are Right. Ia! Ia!’

          Reply
          1. MLTPB

            You trade.

            ‘We will move to your hot and humid country, and you can all move to our dry and cold land.’

            Reply
      2. John k

        The question is, will the dems including progressives vote biden in the swings?
        Vote by mail probably helps biden. Still…
        trump will go there, take questions from the faithful. Is biden gonna stay in the basement? Will he expose himself to the public in states that open in September/oct?
        Or maybe he thinks he doesn’t need to bc he already told everybody no change?

        Reply
    4. Pookah Harvey

      Real Clear Politics poll average:
      Biden 47.7 Trump 43.2

      Real Clear Politics betting odds:

      Biden: 41.7 Trump 49.9

      I go with the bookies.

      Reply
    5. Kurtismayfield

      All Ms. Clinton had to do was actually campaign in the battleground states, and she would have probably won (as Lambert pointed out before). If Bidens team makes the same mistake and sticks to the coast, then they are trying to lose and keep their narrative going.. because marketing is all their beliefs will let them offer to people.

      Reply
      1. Pat

        Clinton’s incompetence was by choice. Biden or rather his handlers either have to make the same mistake OR they have to let him out in the wild. Unfortunately for them either strategy is a loser. Covid-19 has been a godsend to the Biden campaign. They have gotten to keep him isolated so that all public contact is highly edited, and most of us know how not good that has been.

        Beyond that Biden has nothing to offer the swing states but “I’m not Trump” and some Obama nostalgia. Clinton had the same along with not being in mental decline and we know how well that went. His team could well be off putting, even Klobochar. Yes, a full economic meltdown might do Trump in. Might not, depending on our oligarchs preference as there could be another direct influx of cash maybe even larger than $1200. Not like the Dems could really stand in the way – so that could be offset. Rise of none of these asshats are worth a plug nickel could go either way.

        But ultimately constant visuals of the obviously confused Biden…well that probably hands a very close race between two hideously bad choices for the time to Trump. And unlike Sanders, Trump doesn’t friggin care about any norm so those ads are coming. Few people vote for the ticket based on the VP, but they sure don’t want to vote for one wondering how long the VP could be kept in the wings even though the President is entirely incapable. Biden is toast.

        Reply
          1. MLTPB

            Do you think he can bilocate?

            (This question came to me, for some reason after looking at the word, Zwieback, not one time, but zweimal)

            Reply
      2. albrt

        Biden will never even make it out of his basement, much less campaign in battleground states.

        He will be replaced on the ticket by August.

        Reply
  7. Off The Street

    Biden, serving as a meat puppet valued elder statesman to complement the younger Obama on the dream ticket.

    Remember when such platitudes were uttered in hushed, suitably reverent tones? Those were just loud enough to drown out the background hiss from Biden’s masters in Wilmington and elsewhere. Now he has to cope with more pointed questions about all that time he was allegedly serving the public and not just his family and donors, so rejoining the rest of the putative candidates. Side note, when you think etymologically of putative, do you also consider similar words like putain, prostitute along with reputation?

    Cognitive dissonance about Biden and his insiders at the DNC continues to rise among voters. That won’t go away no matter how fast and furious the spinning and punditry to convince otherwise.

    Is Biden phoning or, better, mailing it in from his basement lair? At some point he will need to emerge from his cocoon of whatever as SNL and others will be desperate for new material. /rant

    Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            Modi in India used a hologram when he was first running for election. How about a holographic Biden? He can run for office from his basement using one and if elected, can keep on using it from office. People, especially women and children, would be more comfortable with holographic Joe that Joe in the flesh I bet.

            Reply
      1. christofay

        Yeah, Biden will go on virtual SNL then literally drop the mic and spend 3 minutes groveling looking for it in the bunker. SNL is MSM and SNL will put it’s lamestream shoulder against the wheel.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Well, since SNL has always been on television for the vast majority of the viewers, it has always been ‘virtual.’
          If SNL were to send a team of professionals down to Delaware to the Biden Bunker, the result would be a stellar improvement in the quality and quantity of output of propaganda from said bunker.
          Plus, I am sure that the SNL task force is qualified to interact with the Disney Animatronics team that is presently working on a Joe Biden android. Synergy is the way to go.
          Win/win/win.

          Reply
      2. Big Tap

        Yeah supposedly Nixon saying “Sock it to me” took six takes until they found one they could use on Laugh In. It would be risky for Biden to do anything live. He barely can handle recorded events even with a teleprompter in front of him.
        (from History.com)
        “Whatever else he may have been, Richard M. Nixon wasn’t generally known as a comedian. So many American TV viewers were surprised 50 years ago to see the Republican presidential nominee pop up on the hit comedy show “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.”
        The date was September 16, 1968, less than a month after the turbulent riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and two months before the November elections. Nixon’s appearance was brief, about five seconds in all, but memorable. Like a long list of Laugh-In guests, he looked straight into the camera and delivered one of the show’s trademark phrases, “Sock it to me!” Even after a reported six takes, it sounded more like “Sock it to me?”—as if Nixon himself couldn’t believe he was saying it.”

        Reply
        1. John Anthony La Pietra

          And there was ten-year-old me thinking they’d written it that way for him. . . .

          Reply
  8. Carolinian

    So Dems are watching West Wing reruns (or maybe Madame Secretary) and the Dwayne Johnson fans are watching Worldwide Wrestling president on the other channel. Actually I don’t know who Dwayne likes politically but he can probably kick Martin Sheen’s butt. As Adlai, the thinking man’s candidate said, “but I need a majority!”

    Reply
  9. a different chris

    Oh noes! Joe Biden is in trouble:

    > The landline total respondents were 435 and there were 677 cell phone respondents.

    Sigh. I have no idea how November is going to go, but 1100 people don’t make an election. If it did, then the rest of us could just stay home.

    >“Get Ready for a Vaccine Information War”

    Yeah but this (maybe it mentions it, TLDR) isn’t arguing for or against unleashing the massive US military against some punk state. The virus does not care what you think about vaccines. At all. Cue Terminator speech. Do totally agree with the “blanket acceptance” issue. Vaccines work. So do wrenches – if you happen to have the right one. The wrong one can round off the bolt head.

    >“COVID-19 Targets the Elderly. Why Don’t Our Prevention Efforts?”

    We have a real problem separating people by age. There certainly is age-discrimination in employment. OTOH, people really need to be put out to pasture at some point, whether they want to be or not (cough, Fauci, cough Trump, cough Biden, cough). We have a minimum age for the Presidency, but not a maximum. WTF. And look at our Senators, jesus help us.

    You need some really old actors for movie parts. Everybody else is and obviously has to be replaceable, so just do it.

    >“Coronavirus likely forced 27 million off their health insurance”

    Imagine explaining this to an extraterrestrial.

    Reply
  10. Bob Tetrault

    Lambert, your decapitation meme today is, ulp, surprisingly vivid as I imagine the DNC and Pelosi using their baskets and cocktail centerpieces. And dammit, I find it absa-effing-lutely consistent with their game.

    Reply
  11. Will S.

    Anyone else notice how she’s listed as “Stephanie Kelton,” not “Dr.” or “Professor,” in spite of the fact that everyone else on the list has whatever title they can muster up in front of their name? It reminds me of early in the primary season when pols and pundits called everyone “Senator” or “Congressman” except Bernie and Tulsi, who were called, well, Bernie and Tulsi. It’s like they can’t help themselves but commit petty slights against heterodox personages.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Good catch. A wonderful example of “vice signalling.”
      (“See. They can’t be any good. They don’t have any credentials to prove their worth!”) /s

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        That’s not virtue signaling. It’s childish pique. Are there any grownups in the wheelhouse?

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Of course it’s not virtue signalling. The point, if there was one, was to communicate to the other PMCs the writer’s membership in the ‘exclusive’ club of neo-liberal “true believers.” As you lament, there are no adults running the show. The “leaders” don’t even pretend to consult any “wise people” now.
          Mz Kelton is banished to the outer reaches by denying her entry into the class of ‘acceptable’ thinkers, displayed by denying her any credentialing marks.
          Illusion is the G-d of the neo-liberal class. Shaitan, the Adversary, is now designated as the totem figure of ‘Reality.’
          Orwell would recognize this right away. War is Peace and Inequality is the Prime Policy.

          Reply
    2. Carla

      @Will S. — I noticed that right away, too. Stephanie outclassed them. She doesn’t need to do that.

      Reply
    3. GramSci

      I’d like to think Ms. Kelton *chose* to leave the “Dr.” off her name. Why flaunt the years you wasted getting a degree only to discover what had been lying [sic] in plain sight?

      Reply
      1. MLTPB

        If you have a degree that you haven’t used much since you got it (low mileage, you might say), how much do you think you can get for it?

        What is its resale value?

        Is it like a car – you lose 30% right after you drive off the campus?

        Is it like a house, getting more expensive every day…seemingly?

        Reply
        1. albrt

          Degrees are pure fraud, unless they constitute a barrier to entry for a potentially profitable activity like law or medicine.

          Degrees that constitute a clear barrier to entry lose most of their value the day you drive off campus, but gain back value if you turn out not to be a complete lemon after a few years in service.

          Degrees that do not constitute a clear barrier to entry lose 100% of their value immediately unless you can sell them to a greater fool.

          Reply
          1. Eric Anderson

            Thanks for the chuckle. “You can lead a boy to college, but you can’t make him think” came to mind.

            Reply
  12. boydownthelane

    DOD Awards $138 Million Contract, Enabling Prefilled Syringes for Future COVID-19 Vaccine
    May 13th, 2020
    Via: U.S. Department of Defense:
    Statement attributed to Lt. Col. Mike Andrews, Department of Defense spokesman:
    “Today the Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announce a $138 million contract with ApiJect Systems America for “Project Jumpstart” and “RAPID USA,” which together will dramatically expand U.S. production capability for domestically manufactured, medical-grade injection devices starting by October 2020.
    Spearheaded by the DOD’s Joint Acquisition Task Force (JATF), in coordination with the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the contract will support “Jumpstart” to create a U.S.-based, high-speed supply chain for prefilled syringes beginning later this year by using well-established Blow-Fill-Seal (BFS) aseptic plastics manufacturing technology, suitable for combatting COVID-19 when a safe and proven vaccine becomes available.
    By immediately upgrading a sufficient number of existing domestic BFS facilities with installations of filling-line and technical improvements, “Jumpstart” will enable the manufacture of more than 100 million prefilled syringes for distribution across the United States by year-end 2020.
    The contract also enables ApiJect Systems America to accelerate the launch of RAPID USA manufactured in new and permanent U.S.-based BFS facilities with the ultimate production goal of over 500 million prefilled syringes (doses) in 2021. This effort will be executed initially in Connecticut, South Carolina and Illinois, with potential expansion to other U.S.-based locations. RAPID will provide increased lifesaving capability against future national health emergencies that require population-scale vaccine administration on an urgent basis.
    RAPID’s permanent fill-finish production capability will help significantly decrease the United States’ dependence on offshore supply chains and its reliance on older technologies with much longer production lead times. These supplies can be used if a successful SARS-COV-2 vaccine is oral or intranasal rather than injectable.”

    Posted in [???], Biotechnology, Fraud, Health, Kill Off, Social Engineering, War.
    https://www.cryptogon.com/?p=58304

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      This is actually a good thing. The Pandemic has exposed many weaknesses in America’s capabilities, not the least of which is it’s reliance on manufacturing in China for critical medical devices and drugs, drug precursors, etc.
      It also will put some Americans back to work.
      Win/win.

      Reply
      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Do you really believe the problems in the US production and supply lines will be repaired post Corona? Globalism is no more dead than Neoliberalism. The reliance on China may be shifted to a reliance on some other country, … some other country … not the US.

        Reply
        1. MLTPB

          Will it or they most confucian legacy countries, where societal harmony, respect for elders and those above you have, or had, been emphasized?

          Reply
      1. ambrit

        We are now at the stage of Institutional Corruption that we can ask, with a straight face, if it is “honest graft” or not.

        Reply
  13. Olga

    This is certainly curious
    https://justthenews.com/accountability/flynn-case-will-not-yet-conclude-judge-plans-accept-amicus-briefs
    “U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan on Tuesday delayed a decision on whether to dismiss Michael Flynn’s conviction for lying, indicating he plans to allow for the submission of outside opinions in the form of amicus curiae briefs.”
    Did not know such briefs would be allowed in criminal cases.
    Maybe the judge is just trolling … and wants to see who’d show up (well, maybe).

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      I had gathered the impression that Judge Sullivan was a no nonsense sort. This is very curious. Does he know something we proles are not privy to?
      Is he just reacting to the fact that Flynn pled guilty, (to protect his son, evidently,) and that the voiding of guilty pleas is extremely unusual?
      Interesting times.

      Reply
    1. km

      I am certain that the innocents killed and maimed by those drones can rest easier, knowing that their sufferings were on behalf of a righteous cause.
      /sarc/

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Yes. Their being “f—-d up the a–e” will now be done with identity politics elan. Well played all.
        All this virtue signalling and bigoted snark is a disservice to all the ‘real’ queers in our world. (That’s a pretty big class of people, ‘equal opportunity’ as they say.)
        I’m waiting to see the first drone operator PTSD crime report.
        “PTSD suffering Air Force drone pilot goes berserk.”
        California State Police report that ‘troubled’ Air Force drone pilot XXXXXX (redacted for security purposes) used his home built flying replica of the ‘Space Battleship Yamato’ to nuke Holmby Hills California early this morning. Workers at the Loa Angeles Zoo are scrambling to protect wildlife housed there from the effects of the fallout cloud that the morning onshore winds have blown in that direction.
        See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_breeze
        Also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Battleship_Yamato

        Reply
        1. periol

          I don’t know about PTSD specifically, but I remember reading an article a few five or so years back talking about the mental and psychological toll that drone “pilots” go through. It is very different from the kind of trauma other military personnel go through, and they had an unsurprisingly high turnover rate.

          This was, as I said, a while back. During the Obama years.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            I do remember reading that the Einsatzgruppen and Death Camp guards were ‘allowed’ to quit when they began to burn out, and suffered no adverse effects to their military careers and social status. The architects of the ‘Final Solution’ recognized the high stress levels that work would impose on the personnel and made suitable adjustments.
            In a very real sense, the drone pilots of the armed air platforms were performing functions similar to the Einsatzgruppen, basically, murder. Not even given a psychological ‘out’ of facing and dealing with an actual enemy, remote control killers must, of necessity, be ‘alienated’ to begin with.
            That we have sunk so low.

            Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Apart from well-known names like Samantha Power, Brennan & Clapper, there seems to be a lot of obscure players there. It needs comparing with an organizational chart to see if there were any clusters of these people in certain sub-departments.

      Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          In an ideal world, Biden would be serving time in a federal penitentiary for crimes against the American people.

          Reply
          1. Pat

            Along with a vast number of our current and past Congress and a couple of past Presidents as well. Unfortunately…

            Reply
  14. Jessica

    In a sane society, the only thing that would be seen as “queer” would be the desire to be the Secretary of “Defense”.

    Reply
  15. JBird4049

    >>Now nobody else needs to obey local officials in Alameda County either. Why would they?

    I get what you mean, but aside from the people in the area living under among the worst police in the state and who pretty much have immunity for anything they do? Nobody much. Musk has the bribes, lawyers and politicians to do as he wills, while others suffer as they must. The same applies to those living under the government and police of the county and city of Alameda.

    Reply
  16. chuck roast

    Biden denies he’s “hiding”…

    Come on man…here’s the deal fellah…get outta the cellah…go and meet the people! There are thousands; tens of thousands of old folks…your greatest supporters…who want to meet you and are ready to rally to your Rosseveltian cause. There are hundreds; tens of hundreds of nursing homes within a few hours of your cellah dwelling. They are your people! Waiting with open arms to greet you. Don’t screw this chance up. Show a united front. Take all your political posse with you…Stacy, Pete, Herself, Amy, Liz, and what the heck, take Bernie too. And don’t forget to take all your MSM flacks. Pack as many of your good buds as possible into this great campaign swing. Go right at ’em bro’ and good luck.

    Reply
  17. JBird4049

    The Fed just had, for them, a scorching press release today:

    A Fed survey being released tomorrow reflects findings similar to many others: Among people who were working in February, almost 40 percent of those in households making less than $40,000 a year had lost a job in March. This reversal of economic fortune has caused a level of pain that is hard to capture in words, as lives are upended amid great uncertainty about the future.

    …. ….

    Additional fiscal support could be costly, but worth it if it helps avoid long-term economic damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery. This tradeoff is one for our elected representatives, who wield powers of taxation and spending.

    Thank you. I look forward to our discussion.

    I think that they are trying to tell some congresscritters something.

    Reply
      1. JBird4049

        Desperate, not hopeful. I think the kakistocracy has too much power to listen or to realize that the collapse might be more devastating than they realize. You need to have something to exist for you to steal it after all.

        Reply
    1. notabanker

      “Recall that the Fed has lending powers, not spending powers.”

      Not gonna borrow our way out of this mess.

      Reply
  18. Oregoncharles

    “So, how much power does local government have?”
    They’ve backed down.
    (Can’t find it now, but did see it.)

    Reply
    1. Daryl

      At least in Texas, the answer is — none at all. Gov & our indicted attorney general are busily ensuring that no county/city can require people to wear masks. Now on our fifth day straight of 1k new cases in a day.

      Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          been busy AF.
          waging war on the grasshopper hordes(i estimate about a billion on my place alone)now in whatever instar gives them wings, altho they are still tiny and limited in their movement.
          due to mom’s footdragging(she has the $$), i was unprepared to zap them when they first emerged in a vulnerable, wingless state in my widespread trap crops…and will be fending them off the rest of the season.
          Good news is that they emerged much later than the last 3 years, so fruit and other things won’t be affected.

          also…cold fronts! they hurt!
          went from 95 one day to 43 the next, in May.
          the front with the highest pressure gradient(and thus higher winds) actually woke me up at 2 am…like something had fallen on me.
          work related pain, too.
          but i tested negative…at least that’s what they told me,lol…no idea what test they gave me, falseness of it, etc.
          in spite of the hoppers and the weird weather, i’m still on track for my largest garden ever…setting out seedlings, in pots and beds,(most recently, Lovage:https://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/l/lovage42.html since celery doesn’t do well here)…pouring cow patty tea on the rootszones of everything…composting like a madman…
          and we’re due in san antonio, today, for wife’s chemo.
          I also decided to step away from being informed for a bit: too much stupid cruelty afoot…and just downright a$$holery…especially in Texas State gooberment.
          cousin’s girlfriend…the Physical Therapist at a nursing home…recovered from corona, got a call from the CDC itself telling her she’s cleared to go back to work…and they fired her.
          no unemployment forthcoming, rent is overdue, and there’s an apparent stigma against hiring recovered healthcare workers.
          cousin, himself….with the sword of back child support hanging over him…is sleeping in the woods north of houston, in his truck, while he does roofing jobs for a month.
          says social distancing(ie: jumping back when folks get too close) has entered the hive mind in even that very righty place.
          this is what counts for “good news”, these days,lol.

          Of my Eldest’s 3 best buddies, one is immunocompromised, and the other 2 have people in their house who are…so all are as crazy as we are for avoiding contact.
          they’ve been coming out to fish in neighbor’s pond, masked while in truck, staying outside, etc.
          crazy times, but at least there’s some contact…none of the young hotties he’s interested in are similarly situated, however, re: quarantine,etc.
          as an indicator of my success as a teacher/father, a frequent topic among our youthful cohort around the BBQ pit of an evening is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rape_of_the_Sabine_Women and Viking Raids, and such…purely dark humor and tongue in cheek….and admittedly in very poor taste.
          don’t tell Team Blue.
          other than this lack of ordinary boy/girl relations, my boys are handling all this mess remarkably well.
          although there is a certain sadness around things like going off to college(not happening) and graduation(a parade, wherein I’ll drive Eldest around the square in the truck) and prom(not happening) and the Senior Trip he’s been looking forward to for 4 years( not happening. got the refund yesterday)
          another very minor victory, of sorts: Mom admits without qualification or overreliance on TDS that we are, indeed a Failed State.

          yay.

          Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Wake! Do you really believe the problems in the US production and supply lines will be repaired post Corona? Globalism is no more dead than Neoliberalism. The reliance on China may be shifted to a reliance on some other country, not the US.

      Local government has considerable power … power it has NEVER used. The local governments COULD work with the Churches and other providers of food help to make buys from the local farmers coops [only one I know of in my state … I am hoping this is just due to my ignorance]. Local governments COULD work to share the produce of local farms, though at the relatively minimal impacts to the few local supermarkets.

      There are shortages of flour and masa. The Local Governments could run mills to turn corn to masa and wheat to flour. The Local Governments could buy equipment for freeze drying and for ‘advanced’ packaging techniques that create the chicken stock packages I buy. The local governments COULD provide for a canning service to can produce and insure its safety for the local population. All these ideas I am posing are NOT extremely costly to a government — though they are prohibitive to all but wealthy individuals — and those individuals generally lack the imagination to make these investments.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        the problem is lack of productive capacity with food growing.
        most “farmers”, today, grow “commodity crops”: corn, soy, etc…geared for export.
        monopoly/monopsony, plus industry standards and layers of regs, make shifting gears problematic.
        add in panic buying of garden seeds and goats(!) by millions of newly minted survivalists in suburbia…as well as a simple lack of the necessary knowledge and equipment(canning, for instance, requires mason jars and lids(just in time applies), salt(ditto), stuff to can(ditto) and the knowledge to do it safely.
        I’ve warned the local PTB about this for 20 years…the Mayor and county judge at the very least have acknowledged my foresight, for what it’s worth.
        to their credit, our local “Community Kitchen” has gone to the limits…what used to be a feelgood, more or less virtue signalling church led endeavor for our worst off po folks(20-40 folks fed per week) is now a locally run safety net, serving about a third of the population.
        this, of course, relies on imported foodstuffs and packaging, and is thereby NOT autarkic,lol.
        still, kudos to them for putting their $ and efforts where their pious rhetoric had been.
        I’m still pushing mom for a pallet of mason jars(about $2K), and have put that same bug in the ear of local worthies…”crash now, and avoid the rush”, and all.

        Reply
  19. Left in Wisconsin

    It may be bad form for AOC to let the WFP ballot line slip, and indicate a weakness in her organization, but it is a bigger problem for WFP than AOC. I can’t imagine AOC losing any votes by not appearing on the WFP ballot line whereas it is a huge blow for WFP not to have her on their ballot line. The real malpractice is that WFP did not ensure her signatures were sufficient.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I very much agree with your assessment. Leave nothing to chance or the execution of un-tested, un-proven others.

      Reply
    2. HotFlash

      I am very curious as to exactly how many signatures were rejected. Didn’t Bernie warn us that the key to winning was ‘turnout’, ie, numbers so great they couldn’t be fudged?

      Reply
      1. Pat

        They reduced the number needed due to the lockdown. Rounded up they only needed 15, I believe two were rejected. As in they submitted the minimum.

        Reply
      2. liam

        Article says she needed 15.
        She turned in 14.
        1 was rejected.
        She was doomed regardless.

        Too afraid of covid to bother the voters, or just incompetence in the campaign. Take your pick.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          Should have been able to get that many around the office – or are they all working from home? From family, then.

          Reply
          1. Pat

            One was rejected for being a registered Democrat. That means the criteria was probably too limiting for a family get together in a pandemic hot spot.

            Reply
    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It may be bad form for AOC to let the WFP ballot line slip

      I hate the sloppiness. I don’t think AOC can afford one iota of sloppiness. Anybody gathering signatures — particularly an insurgent — knows that you’ve got to make sure each signature is valid and that you also have a margin, because the establishment will challenge you. To be thrown off the ballot line for one signature is absolutely unacceptable, and whoever let it happen should be given the axe, case closed, for failing in a basic professional responsibility. It’s May, so heave them over the side now, before they do more damage. And if I see more screw-ups like this from AOC, I’ll know her operation is unfit.

      Reply
  20. Duke of Prunes

    How much power does local govt have?

    In Chicago, I hear rumblings of police not aggressively enforcing social distancing orders for fear of the city throwing them under the bus at some later date for enforcing unconstitutional orders (they are not laws as only the legislature makes laws).

    Not sure if this has been posted, but Kevin James (played a mall cop in a movie) released a funny/sad/scary short clip about covid-19 snitching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfGAktuU93s

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Local police rumblings aside the enforcement of social distancing MUST be an enforcement by a Populace aware of the purpose for social distancing. I am NOT AT ALL!!!!! pleased to make this a police issue. If social groups are unable or unwilling to understand what is going on … that is a problem with communications or maybe that is a Social Darwin Issue.

      The police already have far far too many excuses for acting.

      Reply
  21. bayoustjohndavid

    Couldn’t you apply your quote from Unpacking the Left’s Cultural Baggage (The Bellows)

    But we’ve also strangely accepted the contemporary culture of liberalism as having moral authority,

    to Joe Biden’s Garbage Career: A Timeline (Rampant)

    The first two criticisms in the Rampant piece are about Biden’s opposition to busing in the 70’s. I’m really glad that I don’t live in a swing state this year, because I really hate Biden, but come on man.

    Reply
  22. richard

    Here is K. Kulinski on a story that should be spread wide (apologies if you’ve already covered it): the use of prison labor to break a strike of garbage workers in New Orleans. The paid workers were supposed to be happy with 10.25 an hour and no protective equipment. They weren’t, and now the city/parish whoever is bringing in slaves. So. Draw your own conclusions on what to do about that.

    Reply
    1. richard

      Also, here is an article on the strike from a promising looking outfit, The People’s Dispatch. Written before the prison labor revelations, but well worth a read for context and The Cast Of Characters.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Here is K. Kulinski on a story that should be spread wide (apologies if you’ve already covered it): the use of prison labor to break a strike of garbage workers in New Orleans.

      Links 5/10, from the excellent Payday Report.

      Reply
      1. bayoustjohndavid

        Livingston Parish is a white (90%), Republican suburb of Baton Rouge (not New Orleans), with a Republican sheriff getting in bed with a businessman who has been bankrolling N.O. Dems for decades (HT Library Chronicles). I guess Repub/Dem animosity is even kayfabe* in southern states where it’s racially charged. FWIW, the owner of Metro bought a mansion from the owner of the N.O. Hard Rock that collapsed for $10.00.
        *I’m sure the kayfabe is only at the top, don’t mean to imply that all racist politicians are just acting

        Reply
  23. Jeremy Grimm

    Dream on … prisons and prison populations have everything to do with meams to control Labor.

    Reply
    1. richard

      I’m not sure how your statement is in any way a retort to what I said, or why I’m being asked to dream on. Maybe you could elaborate?
      Next time, I’d appreciate if you responded in the customary way, rather than starting your own thread.

      Reply
  24. Pat

    Not for nothing, but AOC’s district contains some of NYC’s hardest hit neighborhoods. Her carpetbagger opponent’s mouthpiece might not consider it an excuse, but I happen to agree with the decision not to try to collect signatures even the reduced number in a pandemic.

    Not sure how it will really play as people are “naive”, but the Chamber of Commerce endorsing former CNBC anchor Michelle Cabruso Cabrera should be enough to give it to AOC in a landslide.

    She may have disappointed me with some of her choices, but AOC is still a vast improvement on any and all of the DNC and DCCC ‘s preferred Congressional candidates.

    Reply
  25. Kevin Carhart

    I’m annoyed I went to “the film”. She calls for the repeal of Bayh-Dole, which if you’re using heuristics to try to assess something, could make a progressive say “errr, this thing has dodgy qualities and points against it, but then again she seems to want IP reform so maybe this speaks well of her argument.” Zap, I was agnotologized.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      The film?
      Not, oh G-d, poor fellow, the Hillary Hagiography?
      If so, you have sacrificed for the Greater Good. Ave!

      Reply
      1. Kevin Carhart

        hi Ambrit. Not the Hillary Hagiography but Plandemic. Both about as much fun as lint-filter ice cream.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Ah. You still get the ‘Order of Linin’ for your valiant efforts to partake of dryer lint ice cream.
          I haven’t seen the latter film, but I instinctively lean towards giving greater credence to something heavily pilloried by the MSM and “usual suspects.” The reputation of the MSM has sunk so low that they are solidly in Orwell territory, as in, believe the opposite of what the MSM tells you to believe.
          Still, it was a great sacrifice you made.
          Thank you for your ‘service.’

          Reply
        1. ambrit

          Mad Max in Space!
          For terrestrial theatre goers, with the Age of Covid upon us, “Two go in. One comes out!”

          Reply

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