2:00PM Water Cooler 5/14/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

I had so much odd political material I couldn’t mentally process it. The news flow seems to be changing, perhaps as a result of “re-opening.” More in a bit. –lambert UPDATE All done!

#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.

Back to the log scale, with the highlight on Wisconsin (because of the recent court case: “Less than an hour after the ruling was released, the Tavern League of Wisconsin told its members they could greet customers again in their bars and urged them to adopt safety guidelines.” So I guess we’ll check back in two weeks and see what the numbers do.

* * *

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): “Democratic Women Urge Stronger Biden Response in Tara Reade Case” [Bloomberg]. ”

Democratic activists and women’s groups say they saw a familiar and distressing playbook unfolding when Joe Biden addressed the sexual assault allegation against him by denying them and largely moving on. Now, they’re trying to convince Biden that if he doesn’t continue to address the issue head on, he risks depressing turnout of women voters, potentially giving a boost to President Donald Trump…. With no simple resolution and the implausibility of Biden’s removal from the ticket, [said Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet, a women’s rights advocacy group] said Biden should give a major speech on the issue of sexual misconduct and detail the steps his administration would take to combat the problem, among other steps to show sustained engagement.” • I’ve seen that the Reade matter isn’t clogging my Twitter feed any more, and assumed that was because the Democrat Establishment simply refused to entertain the issue. But it still seems to be bubbling away. The Republican ads should be entertaining.

Biden (D)(2): “Don’t Pretend Joe Biden Is Actually Moving Left” [David Sirota, Jacobin]. “Joe Biden’s new policy ‘task forces’… are a mix of party dinosaurs, corporate zombies and some terrific progressive voices like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Association of Flight Attendants president Sara Nelson — and we are asked to earnestly evaluate and applaud the complexion of the task forces, as if they are a genuine endeavor. As if they are something truly real. There is already handwringing and celebration about who is and isn’t on these task forces, but step back from that and consider the bigger picture. Consider how condescending, how mocking, the entire ‘task force’ dance really is. It’s as if the Biden campaign went into the basement of the DNC, dusted off a three-ring binder from 1983 titled ‘How To Run Campaigns,’ and turned to page 863b for the section entitled ‘Post-Primary Unity Blueprint’ — and we are all expected to pretend that this is something real.” • All this is true. I am more sanguine. I view task force participation by Sanders allies as a reward, much like keeping staff on their health care plans. “Never be too proud to be present,” as an experienced bureaucratic infighter remarked somewhere in C.P. Snow’s Strangers and Brothers series. More generally, I think it’s dusty three-ring binders all the way down. That is, we should not make the assumption tthat somewhere in the elite there is a small cabal of really smart people makiing decisions. The ruling is done, as it were, behind out backs. Events like Obama’s Night of the Long Knives are rare and occur in moments of acute crisis.

UPDATE Biden (D)(5): “Biden’s campaign rushes to blunt Trump’s digital advantage” [CNN]. “Biden’s campaign on Friday said it had hired three new top digital staffers: Caitlin Mitchell, who was Elizabeth Warren’s chief mobilization officer and will advise the campaign on digital strategy and scaling up its in-house teams; Robyn Kanner, a Beto O’Rourke alum who will lead the campaign’s design, branding and web efforts; and Andrew Gauthier, a former Kamala Harris staffer who was previously executive producer of BuzzFeed Video.” • Warren, O’Rourke, Harris. Alrighty, then. I pulled out the material re: Trump below.

UDPATE Biden (D)(6): Thinking laterally:

Since Mucha sparked #MintTheCoin he does indeed quality as a lateral thinker.

UPDATE Biden (D)(7): Biden the hair-sniffing genial meat puppet figurehead:

You’re not just voting for Biden; you’re voting for the entire, wonderful ensemble cast of the West Wing.

UPDATE Obama (D)(1): “Obama emerges as central figure in 2020 presidential race” [Associated Press]. “Democrats are eagerly embracing Obama as a political wingman for Joe Biden, who spent two terms by his side as vice president. Obama remains the party’s most popular figure, particularly with black voters and younger Democrats, and Biden’s presidential campaign is planning for him to have a highly visible role in the months to come…. Trump’s emphasis on Obama also comes as the former president begins to emerge from a three-year period of political restraint as he prepares to embrace his role as leading surrogate for Biden. Last week, Obama told a large gathering of alumni from his administration that DOJ’s decision to drop the Flynn case put the ‘rule of law at risk.’ He also criticized the Trump White House’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.” • I think the Rule of Law is still hiding somewhere under Eric Holder’s desk.

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders Hates That His Staff Launched a Super PAC, So They’re Changing the Name” [Vice]. “When a bunch of Bernie staffers formed a super PAC name-checking his old slogan “Future to Believe In,” he was none too pleased given his well-known hatred of groups that skirt campaign finance limits. So, they changed the name. ‘The senator was informed about the creation of the super PAC before the paperwork was filed, and he was not happy about it,’ Sanders political spokesman Mike Casca told VICE News. Numerous other Sanders staff used more colorful language to describe Sanders’ reaction to the group. ‘He didn’t authorize it, he doesn’t like Super PACs and doesn’t want it to exist.’ said one senior former Sanders staffer familiar with Sanders’ feelings about the group. ‘Bernie’s pissed off,’ said another.”

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): “Leftists Jump the Corporate Democratic Ship, Leaving Sanders Behind” [Black Agenda Report]. “History may record that the corporate duopoly dike was finally broken in the Time of Plague, with the defection of Bernie’s former sheep from the Democratic Party.” • Or perhaps — hear me out — they were never sheep in the first place? Based on their actions? And perahps it’s time to stop flogging this dead trope? More: “The leftish exit from the two-corporate-party electoral racket has finally begun. Nearly three-quarters of the 10,000-strong Los Angeles chapter of Our Revolution , the mass organization birthed during Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential bid, voted to leave the Democratic Party and join the Movement for a People’s Party, also founded by operatives from Sanders’ 2016 campaign.” • We’ll see how this goes. In particular, I’d like confirmation on “three-quarters of the 10,000-strong,” if such a thing can be accomplished these days. Do we have any readers who attended this meeting?

UPDATE Sanders (D)(3): “Accusations of socialism have lost their bite” [WaPo]. “For decades, the shadow of McCarthyism has lingered and made it easy to marginalize critics with the socialist charge. Sanders confronted it head-on and weakened the tactic’s power. Whatever you think of Sanders himself, it’s a big reason to appreciate his two campaigns.” • I commend Sanders for this, but I think people, especiallly not the comfortable in either party, were also ready for this message, independent of Sanders.

Trump (R)(1): “Trump Embraces Snapchat as Battle for 2020 Youth Vote Heats Up” [Bloomberg]. “The day the U.S. Senate acquitted Donald Trump of impeachment charges, his re-election campaign staff posted a video on Snapchat, where they knew young voters would see it. ‘Liberals tonight:’ it starts. A woman falls to her knees and screams a guttural “NO!!” as newscasters announce Trump’s 2016 presidential win. Then, a spoof cover of Time Magazine shows signs for TRUMP 2028, TRUMP 2032, and so on until a final flourish: ‘TRUMP 4EVA.’ The clip is one of Trump’s most popular Snapchat posts, according to the campaign. It pushes the right social-media buttons, coming across more like an internet meme than a traditional political message. Videos like this have helped Trump’s Snapchat following nearly triple to over 1.5 million in about 8 months, far exceeding rival Joe Biden’s audience on the app. But the former vice president is starting to invest in the app, too: On Wednesday, he’s giving an interview on Snapchat’s political news show, Good Luck America.” • “Good luck, America.” Oh my. Trump, from the videos I have seen, has an excellent digital operation. Look out, Dems.

Trump (R)(2): Every so often, I’ve muttered that candidates should be leveraging games. Guess who did:

Again, an excellent digital operation.

UPDATETrump (R)(3): “Biden’s campaign rushes to blunt Trump’s digital advantage” [CNN]. The Trump part of the piece also linked to above: “The Trump campaign’s digital operation, which includes more than 100 staffers, has excelled at raising money, helping the Trump campaign raise hundreds of millions of dollars for the 2020 effort, while also giving supporters endless ways to connect with the campaign online….. Trump’s digital operation has launched an app that gives supporters a one-stop venue for all Trump’s content. Not only can supporters sign up to make calls on Trump’s behalf and register for events, but the app also includes the campaign’s nightly broadcasts, which aides say have been viewed more than 300 million times since the start of April…. ‘What they’re realizing is this is not a political thing they’re doing, what they’re doing is a cultural thing,’ [Lis] Smith said. ‘So, if you find identity in being a Trump supporter and then you find yourself in a community with people who are like that … now you’re incentivized to stay in the ecosystem. It’s like Candy Crush.'”

UPDATE Trump (R)(4): “Trump’s ‘I’m Rubber, You’re Glue’ Campaign Plan” [The Atlantic]. “COVID-19 has shattered the basic economic rationale President Donald Trump had put forward in running for reelection and forced him to come up with another: Joe Biden’s handling of the catastrophe would be worse…. Yet Trump is betting that he can stoke enough doubts about Biden’s leadership that his own record looks preferable by comparison. Trump wins if voters view the race as a clear choice between Biden and him, but if “the election becomes a referendum on Trump, it’s a much closer call,” one senior Trump-administration official told me. “This race has to be a contrast,” says John McLaughlin, a Trump pollster. Deflecting attention to Biden mirrors a tactic that Trump has long deployed when he’s under pressure: He seizes accusations against him and flings them back.” • It would be helpful if the Democrat Establishment, in selecting Biden, did not make that so very easy to do.

UPDATE Trump (R)(5): “Why Trump needs the pandemic to be polarized” [WaPo]. “in Pew Research Center polls, the number of Republicans saying the novel coronavirus is a major threat to the health of the U.S. population as a whole dropped from 52 percent in April to 43 percent in May… Even more striking: In a CNN poll, by 71 percent to 26 percent, Republicans said the worst of the pandemic is behind us, while Democrats said the worst is yet to come by 74 percent to 23 percent.’… To repeat, opinion on the pandemic has not yet become completely polarized. The number of Americans rushing to defy stay-at-home orders is still small. But it isn’t hard to imagine that before long, it could become widely accepted that to be a Republican in good standing, one must agree that the death count is overstated, the pandemic has been defeated, economic activity must resume immediately whether testing is in place or not and, of course, that Trump has done an absolutely masterful job handling this crisis.” • The difficulty, as usual, is that the Republicans have a clear message (“economic activity must resume”) while Democrats have muddled one (“economic activity must resume, but not yet, and in the meantime you may or may not get a check for the rent, and if you jump through a series of hoops you may or may not be able to get treatment for the deadly disease we shut the economy down for in the first place”). In other words, Republicans outright support C-M-C’, and Democrats refuse to challenge it by provisioning sufficient public goods. So, we’ll see whether brutal clarity trumps mixed messages about “the soul of America.”

* * *

On the “HEROES” Act and NGOs, a thread:

(My slogan is “euthanize the NGOs” because the NGOs are weak substiutes for a functional state and functional parties, primarily because they are, at bottom, vanity projects for the rich.) At this point we recall that the Democrat Party, blob-like as it is, is also embedded within/composed of a dense network of NGOs, into and out of which electeds, staff, and lobbyists are constantly shuttling. So this is Democrat Party giving money to itself. (Perhaps Republiican think tanks too, if the two parties want to hold hands and jump over the cliff together.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Our Democracy Will Survive This Pandemic” [The Atlantic]. Deck: “To combat the coronavirus, the state has grown more powerful. What does that mean for liberty and the democratic norms that protect us?” More: “We are only just beginning to see the array of trade-offs and choices we may soon be forced to make, in order to ensure we are tolerably free and tolerably safe. How is a society to ensure that new classes are not created—the sick and healthy, vulnerable and invulnerable, old and young, salaried and self-employed? How can we ensure that freedom guaranteed equally under the law is not abandoned in the race to reestablish a sense of normality for the majority? What if there is no vaccine? How do we ensure that established patterns of emergency behavior do not become normalized powers left in the statute book, free to be abused in an unrelated crisis?” • I think the Norms Fairy already missed the part about not creating new classes.

“Is 2020 The Year Texas Becomes A Battleground State?” [Texas Standard]. “Urbanization, demographics, and economics are combining to make the Lone Star State more competitive than it’s been in decades.” • We’ve been hearing that for years, but maybe this time it will be different.

UPDATE Nice metaphor:

An example–

UPDATE “The Time To Prepare for a Second Covid-19 Wave is Now” [Andy Slavitt, Medium]. “With all that we have to do, why prepare for a second wave now? If we are going to tempt fate and then relax social distancing, we better prepare. Save every life possible…. It is important for every political leader to think about how to build and maintain the political capital needed to take quick action. Start communicating now about the likely need for action. If you can’t handle the leadership that is required, consider resigning.” • Which all sounds great, until you remember that Andy Slavitt is collecting a lot of money from the health insurance industry to prevent #MedicareForAll, and thinks the health care system should look like this:

The whole diagram reminds me of the famous woodchipper in Fargo. So what’s this about “save every life possible”?

Stats Watch

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

Employment Situation: “09 May 2020 Initial Unemployment Claims 2,981,000 This Week” [Econintersect]. “The pandemic has so far caused a 36,774,000 job loss.”

Imports: “April 2020 Import Year-over-Year Inflation Declined To -6.8%” [Econintersect]. “Year-over-year import price indices inflation slowed and are now deeper in contraction…. The main reason for the decline in imorts is lower fuel prices but most all prices were soft.”

* * *

Shipping: “ICAO calls for sanitary sky corridors to expedite critical cargo flights” [American Shipper]. “Governments should follow harmonized hygiene standards for crews, aircraft and airport facilities so authorities have the confidence to freely allow passage of air cargo flights with essential medical supplies and food, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said Wednesday. Currently such flights face severe delays because of inconsistent border restrictions. The United Nations agency, with responsibility for managing the administration of international aviation law, is publishing guidelines to ensure COVID-free aircraft, crews, passengers and airports, saying widespread adoption would create sanitary corridors for essential trade and travel. The first set of ‘clean’ standards addresses flight crews for cargo aircraft. A group of public health and aviation officials convened by ICAO also developed a COVID status card for crew members that can help in getting through customs and immigration checkpoints.” • And for passengers?

Rail: “AAR: “Railroads Have Experience Weathering Difficult Times, and They’ll Weather This One” [Railway Age]. “The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ended May 9, 2020, and, for this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 412,549 carloads and intermodal units, down 22.1% compared with the same week last year; total carloads were 185,144 carloads, down 28.4% compared with the same week in 2019; and U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 227,405 containers and trailers, down 16% compared to 2019…. “In terms of total carloads, last week was the second lowest since our data began in 1988,” [said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray]. “Railroads have lots of experience weathering difficult times, and they’ll weather this one. That said, they’re hopeful that the efforts now underway to find effective ways to combat the pandemic will bear fruit and our economy can first recover and then return to growth mode.”

Travel: “Delta, others wrestle with too many planes, too many pilots” [Reuters]. “Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) moved to retire its Boeing Co (BA.N) 777 fleet and reduce its pilot ranks on Thursday as it joins other airlines wrestling with the need to shrink their operations to match reduced air travel due to the coronavirus crisis. After announcing that it would no longer fly its 18 wide-body 777s, Delta told its 14,500 pilots that it expects to have 7,000 more than it needs in the fall, according to a memo to flight operations employees first reported by Reuters.” • Yikes.

The Fed: “In nod to grim U.S. outlook, Fed’s Powell calls for more fiscal support” [Reuters].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 36 Fear (previous close: 39 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 40 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 11 at 12:40pm

The Biosphere

“Pollution returns to Houston as coronavirus restrictions loosen” [Houston Chronicle]. “Houston’s air pollution is returning to normal levels, following a period of cleaner skies during the stay-at-home orders put in place to slow the spread the coronavirus. Ozone levels have now surpassed legal limits five times since April 20 after staying unusually low for more than a month. Nitrogen oxide emissions — a key contributor to smog — are back near where they were before the coronavirus shutdowns began, said Daniel Cohan, an environmental engineering professor at Rice University.”

Health Care

“Face Shields and Containment of COVID-19” [JAMA]. “[F]ace shields appear to significantly reduce the amount of inhalation exposure to influenza virus, another droplet-spread respiratory virus. In a simulation study, face shields were shown to reduce immediate viral exposure by 96% when worn by a simulated health care worker within 18 inches of a cough. … no studies have evaluated the effects or potential benefits of face shields on source control, ie, containing a sneeze or cough, when worn by asymptomatic or symptomatic infected persons. However, with efficacy ranges of 68% to 96% for a single face shield, it is likely that adding source control would only improve efficacy, and studies should be completed quickly to evaluate this…. Face shields, which can be quickly and affordably produced and distributed, should be included as part of strategies to safely and significantly reduce transmission in the community setting.” • Face shields could also become fashion items, molded to represent superheroes, for example (as with Halloween masks), or painted, or decorated with appliqué.

“Coronavirus: Officials warn some N95 masks not effective against spread” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “While standard N95 respirators, when worn properly, can reduce the wearer’s exposure to 95% of airborne particles and protect those around them from potentially infected coughs, sneezes and other respiratory droplets; N95 respirators with a built-in exhalation valve — or one-way vent — pose a potentially serious issue. While these types of masks protect the wearer, they do not protect others from a potentially infected cough or sneeze due to their ability to release large respiratory droplets into the air.”

A thread on entry into Hong Kong by air (with extensive documentation):

“State will offer free COVID-19 tests to all Vermonters who want one at pop-up clinics” [Burlington Free Press]. “Vermonters without symptoms of COVID-19 will now be able to get tested for free at pop-up clinics across the state. The announcement came Tuesday in a daily update from the Vermont Department of Health. No referral from a medical professional or health care provider is needed for the new pop-up clinics, however Vermonters with mild or acute symptoms are still being asked to call their primary care doctor or 2-1-1.” • Civilized. Now about avoiding banktruptcy after treatment….

Class Warfare

“Current Economic Issues” [Chair Jerome H. Powell, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System]. “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.1 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.” • In contrast:

“There is no class… war over coronavirus.” One hates to imagine what class war would look like, then.

“How the Coronavirus is Killing the Middle Class” [The New Yorker]. “”This is worse and weirder than anything I’ve ever seen,” Heidi Shierholz, a director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute, said. Shierholz served as the chief economist at the Department of Labor from 2014 to 2017 and dealt firsthand with the slow recovery from the 2008 financial crisis. “We know how to wrap our brains around the bursting of an asset bubble of seven trillion dollars in the housing market, or the end of the dot-com boom,” she said. “But we don’t have practice in dealing with the fallout from this pandemic.” We are beginning to see who will be most affected by the economic downturn. Women are losing jobs at a higher rate, because there are more of them in the service sectors most affected by the virus. The crisis has also been increasing racial economic disparities: black and Latino workers are more likely to work service-industry jobs—in restaurants, bars, hotels—and that sector was the first to shut down, and the least likely to fully reopen in the near term. “We always see this during recessions, but this one is likely to be worse,” Shierholz told me.” • Fascinatingly, despite the headline, “middle class” only appears only once in the story: “African-American middle class.” “Working class” does not occur at all. Reread the Shierholz quote: liberal Democrats, whether in think tanks or the New Yorkers, will not, cannot concieve of the working class as a whole; only of differentially affected identities within that class. It’s really astounding.

“Grocery stores and coffee chains gave workers hazard pay. Now they’re taking it back” [Los Angeles Times]. “But this rise in wages — the “hero bonuses” and “appreciation pay” — is already subsiding, even with the number of new infections refusing to fall. With Starbucks reopening stores, those $3 raises will terminate at the end of May. So will Target’s $2 hourly raise. Kroger-owned grocery chains such as Ralphs, QFC and Fred Meyer will stop paying an extra $2 per hour Sunday…. ‘The pandemic isn’t going away, coronavirus isn’t going away, so why are they taking away these two dollars from us? It’s absurd,’ Ralphs cashier Dionna Richardson said.” • Why? Because they can.

Further to the definition of “Karen” (a Becky who weaponizes her Becky nature, typically by “calling the manager”):

There’s a lot to unpack here, including the notion that anybody who waits three hours at a Red Lobster (!) instead of cooking at home isn’t there for the food. They are there to be served.

News of the Wired

“My Brain Was Damaged. Making Art Helped.” [The Riveter]. “Last August, I suffered a traumatic brain injury resulting from an accident I suffered while doing something I love — kitesurfing. It left me unable to tolerate bright lights, nearly any sounds, and the basic functioning of a normal life. I rode the subway wearing a baseball hat, sunglasses and headphones — sweating with the effort of being so close to other people…. Pre-injury, I wasn’t a painter. And when I impulsively drove to an art store and bought hundreds of dollars in oil paints, brushes and canvases, I imagined it would be another wasted expense in the journey to heal. Yet, the first day as I swept the brush across the canvas and watched the rampage of colors swirl together, I felt a moment of deep intense relief. My headaches stopped. My brain exhaled. I cried….. Art will not stop trauma, but it can help us adjust to it. So, pick up a pencil. Find clay. Grab for a marker. Locate an empty page.” •

“By no means without ability”:

1977:

* * *
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 (GP):

GP: “If you ever wondered what a scrub oak root system looks like. This hill got washed out but the tree just grew its roots down to the new ground level.” Maybe like Sanders supporters?

* * *
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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.

163 comments

  1. BinDenver

    Having seen the shenanigans during the housing bust, I’m hesitant to sign my forbearance agreement for my mortgage. Does anyone know where I can find the typical language servicer’s are using for Fannie/Freddie loans? Pertinent language from my agreement
    “1) Mortgagor agrees to an approved forbearance agreement with suspended monthly payments of $0 from 05/01/2020 through 07/01/2020.
    2) After the plan expires, the Mortgagor will need to either: 1) bring the loan current, 2) work with Lender to obtain another workout plan, or 3) pay the loan in full.
    3) Payments made by the Mortgagor prior to the default of the this agreement shall not constitute and estoppel or waiver of the Lender’s right to complete a foreclosure under the Notice of Default and Notice of Sale that may have previously been recorded in regard to the subject Mortgage and Note.
    Seems to imply I have to make a balloon payment after 3 months?

    Reply
    1. Bsoder

      That’s the default, ‘forbearance’ is agreeing to pay the total amount due at X later date. Deference is where you add it to the end of the loan. As the federal reserve is paying the interest of whatever mortgage securities the banks have dreamed up, for up to a year, deferred, they – the federal reserve has encouraged – whoever is collecting you money to defer not forbear. You can kind of insist if your the insisting kind to defer. You know, it’s not like we make it easy to get anything done in this country.

      Reply
    2. Bob Tetrault

      Our Wells Fargo(!) servicer wants us to pay the three months of interest on the three months of deference. $1000 roughly spread over the following six months. IIRC

      Reply
            1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              Can’t wait til you start quoting Chapterhouse! My favorite Dune book AND favorite character, Miles Teg!

              Reply
              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                I like Chapterhouse too, and its predecessor, Heretics of Dune.

                Both have any number of wonderful set pieces, but I feel the overall universe is incompletely drawn, as in Dune and Children of Dune (Dune Messiah being a bit of a throwaway). The ecological theme really ties the first three together.

                Reply
                1. ambrit

                  There is also a sub-theme of human evolution proceeding apace. Onwards and upwards, sort of. The antics of the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mothers partakes somewhat of superheroine status.
                  Of course, something similar to Mentats were used in the Manhattan Project. My higher maths teacher in High School worked on the Manhattan Project as a ‘lower level’ mathematician. He told us neophyte Mentats about a group of people he referred to as “computers.” Said ‘computers’ had savant level maths skills and were used regularly to check computations and do high order number crunching.

                  Reply
    3. HotFlash

      Yes, all skipped payments are due at the end of the forebearance term. They are not helping you, they are just raising the hammer higher. Many people will lose their homes. Cue Admiral Akbar.

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        If Biden was the least bit useful his next commercial would literally pound on this. Tell people to insist on deferral, not forbearance.

        Would anger all his bank backers, of course: “But for every banker vote we lost we would pick up 10 everywhere else” said no one despite it being the stone cold truth.

        Man I miss Bernie already.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          s/ Oh poor deluded progressives! There never was a Bernie. It was all a figment of your imaginations. We have always supported Biden. /s
          You hit upon a good point. The Democrat nomenklatura no longer consider voters as primary, but donors as such.

          Reply
      2. DAVID SMITH

        I have six months forbearance. Near the end of the period I can choose to pay all the missed payments at once, work out a repayment plan, or apply for a loan modification, which will move the payments to the end of the loan term. I’ll apply for the modification. Whether or not I will get it, remains to be seen.

        Reply
  2. Samuel Conner

    > The Republican ads should be entertaining.

    Two thoughts along that line have been recurring:

    “2020: vote for the lesser predator”

    “Joe Biden: ‘I am not a predator’ ”

    The copy practically writes itself.

    I don’t think that this will backfire on DJT. His voters knew in 2016 what kind of … person he was.

    Reply
    1. Fox Blew

      Ha! Good (yet sad) point. IIRC, didn’t LBJ once tell people to whisper rumours about a political opponent having sinful relations with sheep? And when some reacted saying, “no way that’s true”…which LBJ said “right, but I want the guy to deny it!”

      Reply
    2. Massinissa

      At least DJT is relatively honest about how he “grabs em by the p***y”. Joe Biden only does it when no one is looking. Voters don’t care as much about vice as they do hypocrisy.

      Reply
      1. Billy

        Trump is vulgar, coarse and speaks misogyny!
        Senator Biden only likes to harmlessly and lovingly sniff the baby powder odor of young girls hair, stroke their soft skin and control the warmth of their nubile tight bodies straining against his paternal palms as he gives them advice on dating and future sexual relations.

        How can you possibly compare the two of them?

        Reply
      2. Dr. John Carpenter

        Trump also isn’t running a campaign based on returning honor or morality or whatever to the WH. That’s pretty much Biden’s spiel. I doubt that works well when all you got is “I’m not quite as much of a predator as the other guy.”

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          OK so here’s how it goes: Biden wins in November. In December Trump uses some leftover campaign funds to fabricate evidence that Biden was in collusion with China. He trots over to the FISA court and swears it’s true, gets a treasure trove of wiretaps and other goodies. There are even stories of Sloppy Joe micturating on a Chinese woman for hire. The Trump FBI guys call in VP Harris and other top profile Biden admin people and trap them into committing perjury. Meantime they spy on Biden’s phone calls to Beijing, where Biden suggests he will be implementing his own new China policies. ChinaGate begins! With the precedent firmly in hand from 2019 the impeachment proceedings get going. On his last day in office Trump tells his staff and the FBI that they will not be passing their China information over to the Biden team. Biden gets the impeachment treatment, only this time it sticks because there really is a blazing fire behind all the smoke, the billion-and-a-half dollar slush fund from the Chinese Communist Party bank to Hunter seals the deal. With VP Harris under a perjury and destruction of evidence cloud the presidency passes to…Nancy Pelosi! Hedge funds, private equity, lobbyists, pharma monopolists, and offshore billionaires cheer, they finally have their true champion in place. We really do live in the best of all possible worlds.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            ‘We really do live in the best of all possible worlds.’

            Or should that be ‘We really do live in the beast of all possible worlds.’

            And don’t give them any ideas too.

            Reply
            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Believe me they do not need any “ideas”, why would they generously give the new guy any better treatment than they got when they won. The Dems sowed the wind with wild abandon, now they get to reap the…the…you know the thing. The truths being self-evident, c’mon, man, here’s the deal

              Reply
          2. Ed Miller

            Biden collusion theory: Not going to fly. Who from the CIA/NSA/FBI/MIC will work with Trump in fabricating a story? You are forgetting that these intelligence agencies, the MSM, except Fox, and corporate Democrats are a tight group.

            But then I don’t see Biden beating a good ham sandwich, much less Trump.

            Reply
      3. HotFlash

        Trump seems to confine his attentions to women who are of the age of consent, so I suppose that is a plus.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Consent implies equality. None of these Elite Predators messes with anyone even within sniffing distance of equality.
          A good ides for a parody short film: “Elite Predator versus Alien Lobbyist.”

          Reply
  3. flora

    re: the HEROS act.

    The lobbiests are getting a bailout. The lobbiests argued, maybe correctly, that since they – the lobbiests – are the ones who write the the bills Congress passes Congress wouldn’t be able to write their own bills without the lobbiests.

    https://twitter.com/lhfang/status/1260371328479006720

    For a longer takedown of the bill and a good rant :
    Jimmy Dore and Dylan Ratigan. 20 min. (GOP sen say’s they won’t pass it, so it’s all kabuki, imo.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4VV97dsciw

    Reply
    1. Charger01

      Jimmy Dore and Dylan Ratigan were in fine form. Biden is actively malicious in his intent to violate the American people. Trump might give you something, like a $1200 check, which the Democrats will NEVER do. It’s all means-tested, fill out the form online and pray you might receive a balanced budget tax rebate…..maybe.

      Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      As the twig is bent, so is the shot composed.

      Adding, it’s a very good shot and I wish I’d had time to go into Photoshop and correct the overexposed sky. I love the town in the middle ground, and the mountains in the background. Really gives a sense of place, this one place. (There’s probably a photo essay in that tree.)

      Reply
      1. Billy

        On a Mac? Use free enclosed software.
        In Finder, “Tools”,
        Adjust Color panel,
        Therein Raise sharpness, then raise contrast about 50%.
        That darkens the branches and makes town and sky more contrasty.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          What you are seeing is the photo with the adjustments I made using the Mac’s tools (as opposed to Photoshop or Lightroom which would for example allow me to darken the sky only).

          Reply
  4. Hepativore

    I agree with Krystal Ball on the rising, on how putting Sanders and a few other progressive staff members on the task force means either:

    A) These progressives are going to be ignored with impunity by the Biden administration

    or:

    B) They put them there specifically for the appearance of throwing them a bone so that they can render said progressives ineffectual for the duration of Biden’s term should he become presidency.

    It might be a political disaster for Biden, but the Democrats do not really care about winning the presidency if it means that they can continue to sandbag or corrupt the remaining progressive members of their party.

    I think that this should be our national anthem at this point. It encapsulates perfectly the theme of something that was once amazing but is now falling apart, such as our country.

    https://www.invidio.us/watch?v=dF7euO5RmqI&listen=1

    Reply
    1. Bsoder

      Ah, your not really dealing with sane people here. Ascribing to Dems or Republicans so sane actions is never going to work. Trump should be trump, and Biden should do and say as little as possible. This is going to be a people’s election. Either the nation terminates with trump, or goes to sleep awaiting for another day is the choice.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        As in: “Lincoln sleeps hidden within his Monument in DC, waiting for the day when he is summoned to save the Republic.”
        Imperial branding, an American tradition since the days of Hamilton and Burr.

        Reply
        1. Bsoder

          No I wasn’t thinking about Lincoln at all. Not sure what Lincoln did that was Imperial, he did believe America was the last best hope for people on earth (in those days), by which he meant, because he said it: a government by, of and for the people. I’m not re-branding anything, stating some truths: both trump & Biden are Severely mental ill (I’m board certified so I get to say that). And that trump is much worse then Biden. You can say all you like there the same but there not. As to Hamilton he practically destroyed John Adams in a smear campaign and I’m fine that Burr shot him dead, he deserved it. But here again, I don’t see either of these two as imperialist. Thief’s that stole land. Your glorifying the mundane. I wonder do you consider the Vikings imperialist? I know your an important person on @NC and respect that, no offense is meant.

          Reply
          1. ShamanicFallout

            Bsoder: Wrong. As our friends over at the BAR used to say about Obama, and now about Biden: Trump and Biden are both ‘evil’ (in the ways we talk about candidates being the lesser or greater evil), but Biden is and will be the more effective evil

            Reply
          2. ambrit

            Oh good heavens.
            I am in no wise of any importance here. NC is not a collective. It is a proprietary site. (I am not the proprietrix.) I just visit and spiel musings that I hope are useful. Sometimes I am just a plain old “Pain In The A–e.” As to what that says about my mental health, well, I have my doubts. I take no offense, if such is genuinely considered. To comment on any site requires a “thick skin.” Otherwise, do I detect a very subtle strain of passive aggressive? If so, kudos. Now that’s the way to do it. [Genuine appreciation for ‘form.’]
            Your question about the definition of “Imperialist” is intriguing. Do we treat, using your example, the Vikings as individuals, small group ventures, (small bands of longships,) or group migrations, (such as the waves of immigrants to the Danelaws in Ireland, France, and England. (Normandy in France I am calling a Danelaw for convenience.) Insofar as historical Viking figures like Cnut (Canute) are concerned, he was King of England, Denmark, and Norway. An empire in both fact and intent. Just later, William the Norman conquered England with a Norman French army. Said William was the lineal descendant of Rollo, the Norman ‘viking’ ruler of Northern France (Normandy.) So, some Vikings became Imperialists, while some were “kinetic entrepreneurs,” did their damage and left the world stage.
            Time to cook dinner for Phyllis. (One interesting thing about the coronavirus ‘experience’ is how it affects the personal organization of time and tasks.) Will get back for a musing about how Imperialist Lincoln was. Should we judge the man by his intentions, or his actual accomplishments?

            Reply
          3. ambrit

            Simple din-dins over. (Our cuisine now is limited by my rudimentary cooking skills, though I get better with practice.)
            My reference to Lincoln “sleeping” within his monument is a dual reference to, first, the legend of Barbarossa sleeping in the Kyffhauser mountains, waiting for the time when he is needed to save the Holy Roman Empire, and second, to Cthulhu, sleeping in sunken R’lyeh, waiting for the “stars to be right,” and then arise to reclaim his former domains.
            As far as the charge of Imperialist being made against Lincoln, that almost needs to be treated like a police procedural. Motive, intent, opportunity is the Magic Triad I learned to determine guilt or innocence. Thus, Lincoln started out his administration trying to work out a compromise with the Southern Elites. This should be taken as normal for a sane individual. Then, when he discovered that the Southern elites did not want to compromise, he added pressure in his orders to man and ready Federal facilities in the Southern States, as in Fort Sumter, Charleston, South Carolina. Being able to control the sea passage to Charleston, South Carolina, a major Southern port, was this remilitarization of Fort Sumter a sign of resolve, or a trap set to snare the Sothrons? Whatever else, the Federal mobilization of Fort Sumter was a clear assertion of Federal primacy. The situation had now entered the realm of “put up or shut up.” I will assert that this ‘simple’ move on Lincoln’s part was a definite statement of Federal primacy and denigration of State’s Rights. In that view, Lincoln was declaring the nation to be a unitary state, under control of the central authority. After the war was won, the North treated the South like conquered provinces, an essentially Imperial mindset.
            I concede that Hamilton’s concept of a unitary central State, as shown by his National Bank scheme may not be strictly Imperial in it’s concept and execution, but it would have established one of the basic building blocks of an Imperium, to wit, a Central Bank.
            Burr, on the other hand, was an inveterate schemer and opportunist, and did try to effect the Western Empire plot. He conceived that as not only an empire in Mexico, but as a vital bulwark against Atlantic seaboard meddling in his ‘affairs,’ intended to split the trans-Appalachian states from the United States and either set them up as a separate nation with New Orleans as anchor point, or add them to Texican and perhaps Chihuahuan holdings. New Mexico and present day Arizona were firmly in his sights. Burr may have ended up a filibusterer, but he had style.
            As for glorifying the mundane, well, first, I am mundane and thus feel a strong affinity to examples of such that I encounter. Secondly, I have a love hate relationship with the “Great Man” style of historiography. ‘Great Men’ and Women, accomplish their noteworthy deeds with the help and support of a mass of otherwise ‘mundane’ people. Armies are not counters on a board, but flesh and blood people suffering and dying for generally incomprehensible to them aims. Thus, I look at the underlying factors when trying to understand broad based movements. Many of those factors are mundane: fear, anger, hunger, pestilence, yearnings, etc.
            Well, time to wind it down. I’ve babbled on enough.
            Stay safe out there in the Greater Texican Empire.

            Reply
            1. David J.

              Bravo! Good recap with insight. Of course, I’m a little biased because I have great respect for the man who brought the first case against Burr re the western plot. He was one of those mundane people you reference.

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                Oh yes. It was a close run race to see who would ‘get’ the western half of North America. I mean, the Spanish, with the clandestine assistance of General Wilkinson, the senior general in the yet small American Army, had mounted troops searching for the Lewis and Clark expedition to arrest them.
                Early American history is fascinating.
                Read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Wilkinson
                Something about Burr and “the Western Plot.”: https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/the-great-trial-that-tested-the-constitutions-treason-clause

                Reply
                  1. ambrit

                    Fascinating! There are so many talented people active at that time. If I were a religious, I would suspect Divine Intervention.

                    Reply
          4. John Anthony La Pietra

            And Adams would have won in 1800 anyway but for the “slave-based” electoral votes — or so says (among others) even great Jefferson fan historian Garry Wills. (See his book “Negro President”.)

            Reply
        2. Kfish

          As an outsider, looking at the Lincoln memorial was weird. It’s built like a Greek temple, except that in the god’s place, sits Lincoln. The whole thing implies he’s meant to be worshipped.

          On a larger scale, most of America’s war memorials are triumphal: eagles and wreaths and marble that say hey, we won. Here in Australia they’re mostly statues of people saying, here are the people who died.

          Reply
          1. Oregoncharles

            Except for the somber Vietnam memorial – because we lost.

            A great deal can probably be blamed on the MIC trying to get its own back.

            Reply
    2. HotFlash

      what about C.) take up the valuable time of real progressives in endless, pointless, fruitless committee meetings and reports?

      Reply
    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      (A) and (B) go without saying. The issue is what the progressives will do with the situation and terrain given to them (hopefully while avoiding decapitation). The problem, if I may say so, with cynicism as a mode of thought is that it isn’t supple or fluid enough.

      Reply
  5. Bsoder

    “Our Democracy Will Survive This Pandemic” – that implies we have a democracy- we don’t. It implies whatever we have we want to survive, I don’t. It implies the Pandemic goes away, seems not, it won’t. And lastly, that entire statement (quote), is an assertion pretending to be a fact, which begs the question is that even true. No. It has no meaning whatsoever. It suggests something, in the same manner of a black hole.

    Reply
    1. Lost in OR

      Yes. I am so tired of reading about Trump and Biden and the Corona response and the economic response and, well all of it. We are Fn nuts. The insanity is depleting and debilitating. Our only hope is collapse. Well, that’s my only hope.

      But then, I’m nuts.

      Reply
    2. zagonostra

      Yeah, I had the same reaction “…liberty and the democratic norms that protect us?” Like WTF are they talking about, I’m sure the +40K people die each year because they can’t afford health insurance felt protected.

      “…patterns of emergency behavior do not become normalized powers left in the statute book” Like the “Patriot Act” and the ongoing surveillance of all my digital activity, that kind of “patterns of emergency behavior?”

      What a crock of smelly stew from the Atlantic…

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Note that Bernie declined to show up and vote in favor of an amendment to some legislation that would have ended warrantless collection by State Security of people’s browsing history and personal information from the internet. https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/05/bernie-sanders-absent-as-anti-surveillance-senate-amendment-fails.html

        The Wyden-Daines Amendment failed by one- effing. vote.

        Nine other dems including Feinstein also voted no. Sh!ts.

        It also appears he is considering opening up the fabulous Mailing List of supporters and donors to Biden’s campaign and the DNC-DCCC-DSCC crowd. I emailed him telling him he does not have my permission to hand over the personal information I gave to him on myself (along with quite a bit of money that bit into my fixed income.) For all the good that will do. Just another Lucy van Pelt-Charlie Brown game, I guess — got me again.

        Reply
        1. J.k

          Yep, its in the links section as well.
          And to think it only needed one vote and Sanders is missing in action. Wow! What would it have cost him?

          Reply
          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            It wasn’t an error of omission, it was an error of commission. Sorry, these are not the droids you were looking for

            Reply
    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > that implies we have a democracy- we don’t.

      When liberal Democrats use the phrase “our democracy,” they mean just that: their democracy (such as it is). That phrase is a very bad tell, watch for it.

      Reply
    4. ewmayer

      We indeed do not – so the question becomes as to when everyone who agrees with that premise personally dates the end of of what might have been reasonably called a representative democracy in America. Readers, your dates/reasons?

      My personal opinion is that whatever shambolic shuffling shell of a democracy the US had definitively died on 9/11, but I struggle with key mortal-wounds dates prior to that date.

      Reply
    5. Alternate Delegate

      Bush v. Gore. Blatant judicial coup d’etat. Up until that point you could argue there was some remaining “democratic” restraint on the oligarchy. After that, none. The ideas of 1776 finally died in 2000, not in 2001.

      Reply
      1. LawnDart

        Absolutely agree!

        When the Ds rolled on that one, it was game-over.

        Obama was a “could-have-been,” but we saw that color of skin meant much more than content of character.

        Reply
    1. periol

      I’m only clicking on that link if it includes mandatory OTA updates that keep you from making toast when you’re trying to get out the door…

      Reply
    2. pricklyone

      Umm, toasting bread with steam? Driving off moisture is the point of toasting. Along with Maillard effects.
      This thing is more akin to a “toaster oven” than a toaster, at any rate
      Maybe you could autoclave your N95’s in it?

      Reply
  6. Synoia

    Re the Wisconsin Supremes’ decision to abrogate lock dowm.

    It appears Wisconsin will be following the Swedish mode, without the benefit of a good healthcare system. I do suspect Wisconsin’s medical system is focused and skilled at extracting money, and not so focused and skilled a plague.

    Interesting experiment. I wonder how many locals the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Legislature will kill?

    I hope the Trump supporters in Wisconsin reflect carefully on our Supreme Leader’s triumphal embrace of killing a significant number of Wisconsin Residents. Clearly a Trump Triumph.

    If you a Wisconsin resident over 60 get into your RV and head for Palm Springs CA. California appears focused on the Common Good, which is a better environment that the coming wave of death in Wisconsin.

    One suspects the at best Wisconsin will enjoy the Swedish Covid experience and at worst the Italian Italian Covid experience.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If you a Wisconsin resident over 60 get into your RV and head for Palm Springs CA.

      Emigration can be internal. And it sounds like RV sales would be a very good proxy for it.

      Reply
      1. periol

        I agree with your thoughts on emigrating internally. I couldn’t shake the feeling last year that it was getting to be time to pick a place to settle, my wandering days would soon be forcibly ended, even inside America. We aren’t quite there as a country yet, but definitely think my wife and I made the right move to get closer to family in California last fall.

        We also decided to make the leap and start buying a home during the lockdown – we started looking in late March, wearing masks and gloves and disinfecting as we went. We found a place, it’s a couple of acres in a semi-rural area with an orchard and greenhouse. The whole process went very smoothly, since everyone involved (agents, inspectors, repair guys, etc.) was light on work. The timing was actually good too, because the owner needed to sell and lowered the price, worried the housing market would crash. They were very happy we came along, even though now it seems obvious to me waiting an extra month would have netted them more $$$.

        We made the leap in part because we needed a mortgage, we definitely don’t have the cash. And I was really worried that if we wait too long, there won’t be mortgages available. People are having a hard time qualifying for jumbo loans now – not that we are jumbo, we have a conventional loan. To top it off, I was worried the housing market would NOT crash in the semi-rural area we are moving to, but would actually pick up with rich folk moving out of Los Angeles who *can* afford to drop cash for a house around here.

        For all the dangers that come with this present “reopening”, this might also be a last, best chance for people to make a move. I think this storm is just beginning.

        Reply
      2. Bugs Bunny

        Got a mail from a very good friend describing the situation (paraphrased):

        “I understand the open up sentiment but all people did was crowd into bars yesterday. The Wisconsin Tavern League is very powerful here (and own the GOP). They’re why we can’t buy beer at stores after 9pm (go to the taverns!) and the drunk driving limit is so high. It’s just another way of dividing people. Stay home, go out and be “free”. Wisconsin has really changed for the worse. I just got a robocall from the WI GOP that talked about “Bejing Biden.” They’re so desperate…”

        “Beijing Biden”

        This will not go well.

        Reply
        1. Bsoder

          It is illegal in Wisconsin for a driver over the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle: With a Blood/Breath Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or greater. You do not want to it or be caught, it’s $5k in fines.

          Reply
          1. Isotope_C14

            That’s only for the residents of Milwaukee, the good ‘ole boys know their local PD, and they’ll only take your keys if you are in danger of hurting yourself.

            Reply
          1. Phacops

            Never read that, but looks worthwhile. But, I keep on thinking that the BRF area is an uncompromising place to live in. Cranberry bogs and dealing with the driftless area. How can the small dairy farms in the area even compete with the large superfarms?

            Reply
            1. Stillfeelinthebern

              They can’t, which is why almost all of them are out of business. The milk mafia owns the Wis GOP as well.

              In our mail this week, 2 full 8.5″ x 11″ flyers with this: BEIJING Biden has lead the charge to make China great.” “Communist China hid their outbreak from the world. They shut down investigations and blamed AMERICA.”

              Both paid by America First Action. http://www.a1apac.org Linda McMahon is the chair of that PAC They have lots of money to burn.

              Reply
              1. YetAnotherChris

                It describes the portions of SW Wisconsin and SE Minnesota that were untouched by the most recent period of glaciation, circa 10,000 years ago.

                Reply
              2. Voltaire Jr.

                I live in the driftless area of SW WI — New Glarus. Since the glaciers didn’t touch it, there’re tremendous hills everywhere as well as many springs, creeks and rivers. It is absolutely beautiful.

                Reply
      3. JTMcPhee

        RVs are not defensible positions. Speaking as a former owner of one. They require water, electricity, several kinds of fuel depending on the engine and equipment, eat tires, are very difficult and expensive to maintain, and are the essence of conspicuous consumption and planned obsolescence. You need a place to park the damn things, and the trailer parks are mostly cheek by jowl and likely hotbeds of virus transmission. The few exceptions are the very simple ones like maybe the camper bodies on a pickup, but you still need water and fuel and where can you plant a garden?

        The antithesis of self-sufficiency. Despite solar panels.

        And all the places one might want to internally emigrate to likely have laws on occupancy and may simply legislate you out of their specialness.

        Same thing is true of boats, having had the blessed experience of living aboard a good-sized sailboat for 12 years. Desalination on boats are constant maintenance and failure prone, solar panels you need a lot of, the batteries they charge have a limited life, water wants badly to get in everywhere and rust always wins. “Public waterways” aren’t, any more. You can’t just go and anchor most places one might want to live any more, marina fees are outrageous (my former public marina charged over $900 a month to rent a rectangle of water and the “right” to tie to a publicly constructed dock. Water and electricity were chargeable.

        So good luck to people wanting to flee to “somewhere else” to escape from whatever bad stuff is where they are now — there’s no there, there any more. Blessings on the few who post here who have found a survivable spot and a substitute for toilet paper. I doubt you want a bunch of us coming to camp out with you.

        Reply
        1. periol

          “Blessings on the few who post here who have found a survivable spot and a substitute for toilet paper. I doubt you want a bunch of us coming to camp out with you.”

          My dream for the past 20 years has been to live in sustainable community with others. I see no possible future if each of us has to go it alone. That has never been the way forward.

          I’m also skeptical we are talking about the world going Mad Max. Even if it did, a community of NC commentators would make for some interesting dynamics. “Don’t Make Shit Up” would actually be a pretty solid ethos to build from…

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            Actually it’s the other way around, Max Mad.

            Unlike the 80’s version, there’s absolutely no shortage of gas, and its nearly free. Some of the citizenry is mad that they can’t get haircuts, go to bars, get tats, or test positive for the virus.

            Reply
            1. periol

              …and there’s that nasty toilet paper shortage, so everyone’s just a little chafed.

              In 2020, the thunderdome is man against COVID-19. Trying to avoid that battle myself. Does Max Mad still have warlords?

              Reply
          2. JTMcPhee

            Who decided what’s sh!t?

            Also, some of us have experience trying to establish communes and communal living. Seems to work some places, maybe where the communal spirit already exists, but in 1970 in a hippified little liberal arts college I attended, with a student body heavy on East Coasters who couldn’t meet the Ivy League cutoffs, the commune we were going to build for the ages descended into debates over who would own the stereo system, what music got played, who would cook and clean, and whether this was going to be a “free sex” kind of place. Fade to black….

            Reply
            1. periol

              I didn’t say everyone should be in a commune! Oh my. I do agree with you though, there has to be some sort of unifying reason for existence, outside of just plain old communal living.

              In all seriousness, I’ve always wished California would allow something like the Camphill communities on the east coast and in Europe. Whether or not you agree with some of the ideas underlying Camphill, the communities themselves are a model I would love to see reproduced.

              https://www.camphill.org/

              Reply
            2. Amfortas the hippie

              “…maybe where the communal spirit already exists…”

              ….as in, by starting 20 years ago.
              I live in a place with that…as demonstrated when wife(native daughter) came down with cancer.
              I’d never experienced “communal spirit” before…but by then i had been here for 25 years, and had married into the second oldest mexican familia.
              so it splashed all over me, too.

              the couplea three communes i’ve lived in/near were generally composed, oth, of aging hippe chicks—scolds, all– with (curiously) rather right wing libertariatard husbands…and their disaffected kids, who were all about discovering all manner of High and making a quick buck.

              difference between the two?

              the former had been together as a community for 150 years or more….and had lost their rigid idealism and dogma, long ago.
              isolated town, clannish, descended from german idealists and “angloamericans”, and with the local civil war they fought against each other(“Hoodoo War”) still fresh enough in family memory to determine marriage prospects.

              various ideological fads pop up every now and then…quite regularly, in fact.
              and there’s dust kicked up, but it eventually settles.

              cousin thought he was in a different country…the pace(takes a week or more to get special ordered boards), plus the redneck “Manana”…wherein you can’t get anybody to work, and hafta hunt the wrecker guy down at the greasy spoon/town hall( theoretically, only need one phone number memorised: that greasy spoon)…
              and the rumor mill…wherein the whole town knew he was one of ours within hours….balanced by the aforementioned “communal spirit” that flies underneath you when needed.
              I wish i could bottle all that….we’re like Museum Fremen, out here.
              and it’s better, dammit.

              but you can’t just move into such a place and fit right in…that’s what the Neoliberal Dispensation teaches us to expect…which just replicates that Dispensation like some alien nanomachine, and ruins local cohesion and distinction.
              instead, you have to accept your neighbors for who they are…and let any changes happen almost naturally…like it was their idea that maybe anarchist socialists/long hairs/ mexicans/ queers, aren’t the cartoon villains they had been taught.
              That cheese could be white, too…not just “yella”.
              that shrimp are not bugs, and that “dinner out” doesn’t obviously or necessarily entail fried battered gristle with gravy.

              folks considering such an escape should consider all that.
              it ain’t the same as moving into an apartment across town.

              Reply
          3. ObjectiveFunction

            I’ve long felt monasteries (pick any model, West, East, Thelemic) could provide a good community for older but still hale folks for whom conventional relationships are in their rear view mirror.

            But like all institutions, they will need a social contract and enforceable rules, with expulsion the ultimate remedy for the rogues and misfits who will inevitably show up and end up running the place into the ground if tolerated. And of course like all institutions, power corrupts.

            Penitenzagite!

            Reply
      4. Earl Erland

        My look at inexpensive Rolling Homes started before I knew about Covid-19. 12/18 Spectrum Health tested me for the four they knew. I was literally drowning a day after being in a Bro Basement for a relatively simple if not always successful ablation. I was tested in the early morning for Four Different Corona viruses.

        Reply
      5. wilroncanada

        Lambert
        Easier to head north. Lake Wobegon not too far away. One could hide there for years. And, everybody there is above average. I would move from where I am now, but that would reduce the IQ of both places.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          He being in Maine, or, Upper Massachusetts to the Traditionally minded, I have of old agitated for him to plan out an itinerary of travel to Fredrickton, New Brunswick, via any one of dozens of obscure woodland border crossings. A logging road would be best. Since he is not mobile in a mechanical sense, a Bug Out Bag and two functional feet will do nicely. Take the bus to somewhere near the crossing spot, keep all electronics in Faraday pouches for the duration of the trip, (rely on paper maps and a lensatic compass,) and pace yourself.

          Reply
      1. chuck roast

        Wisconsin Death Trip…one of truly creepy-powerful books of all time. I had a record store for 10 years back in the day. The Violent Femmes first album was my biggest seller. One day a store habituae wandered in with Gordon Gano in tow. I thanked him profusely for helping to keep me alive and mentioned that the record reminded me of Wisconsin Death Trip. He told me that all of the band members were quite familiar with the book and one of them was very influenced by it. A very weird cosmic thread.

        Reply
  7. Lambert Strether Post author

    I finally wrapped my head around the politics section, so please refresh your browser.

    The material on Trump’s digital operations is really important. (I think one problem the liberal Democrats have is that they don’t realize they too, are hated (a rock on which IMNSHO the Sanders campaign foundered). Hate is very easy to generate online. The dopamine loops that “Rachel” can create are as nothing to those that the Trump app could create, especially if it’s as addictive as “Candy Crush.”

    Reply
    1. zagonostra

      You’re absolutely correct. Anyone who doesn’t watch a live Trump rally or has Trump supporters as family or friends is like those blind men describing an elephant.

      Reply
    2. ObjectiveFunction

      Yes, Biden won’t bring the dreamed of hordes of first time voters, PoC or other, out of the woodwork. Primary voters are a different animal.

      The Dems only path to victory lies in winning over swing voters (i.e. people who actually show up on election day) for whom #OrangeManBad is not necessarily axiomatic, and who have tuned out the nonstop outrage megaphone.

      But instead, just as in 2016, our Virtuous Class has amped up the volume to 11, trying to shame and scold these Low Info voters into compliance. I just can’t wait to see which shrill, idpol harpy they pick as Biden’s heir apparent: don’t you wish your VP was Woke like me! Since they’ve devoutly promised to change nothing (except Trump) they’d really do better choosing a bland but stable woman admiral, bland but ‘competent.’

      So for many of those voters, the best ‘choice’ in November will be to extend to their coastal rulers yet another florid middle finger wearing a MAGA hat. Who is a BSing head case, but at least he’s up front about it. And the guy built a wall and called out the Chinese. Screw ’em, part Deux!

      Reply
  8. richard

    r.e. the Los Angeles Our Revolution vote, here is Jerry Perez, who is a field organizer of the organization, on the Jimmy Dore show. He explains (in the first few minutes of the interview) that in a poll taken of organization members, 72% said that they had little faith that the Democratic party would represent them.

    Reply
  9. Off The Street

    Karen at Red Lobster, isn’t she Jake from State Farm’s mom? Now we can all be warm and fuzzy meeting and getting to know all these new creations.

    Here is one approach that I heard for dealing with the Karens of the world. Take a photo of them, or a video and audio if you can, using that handy cell phone. That is usually legal in public, except when somebody with a badge might not want that on the record. Not an attorney, never played one on television, so take with a shaker of salt.

    The overt memorializing via cell phone tends to jar the Karens into some instant recognition that they will be forever instantly recognized. That type of de-anonymization of an act committed in public is curious in and of itself.

    Such memorializing is in lieu of the coarser method of tagging the offender with a paintball gun, as that is generally frowned upon. /s

    Reply
    1. occasional anonymous

      Here’s a video of a guy providing commentary on several videos of Karens in their natural environment. NSFW because of language.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_PfE9LwV_w

      I’m intrigued by his idea that they’ve been cooped up for a while and have thus developed a backlog of Karen behavior that they feel the need to catch up on all at once.

      What kind of upbringing does someone have to have to make them like this?

      Reply
      1. Billy

        I bet in all four cases, they had no man at home to take it out on, or take it out of them.

        He’s right about the cars. Can you possibly imagine this kind of behavior on horseback?
        It’s luxury, the invention of the automatic transmission, or flying through the sky in a chair at 36,000 feet, taps into some kind of internal rage as there are no outlets of energy expended on something as mundane as a gear shift and clutch, or a long sea voyage, or railroad trip.

        Reply
        1. jax

          “I bet in all four cases, they had no man at home to take it out on, or take it out of them.”

          Wow, Billy. Another vote for domestic violence? Because that’s how it reads.

          Reply
      2. hunkerdown

        High school guidance counselors and every other adult telling them they have a right, nay, duty to “make their mark on the world” probably has a lot to do with Karen behavior. The slightest resistance is an injury to their majesty, to the right and proper Order of the world as responding in sympathy to their whims.

        Reply
    2. Phacops

      . . . when somebody with a badge might not want that on the record.

      Which is why I have the ACLU app on my phone that uploads video I take with the app directly to their servers.

      Reply
  10. Wukchumni

    The Red Lobster video had it all…

    Social distancing faux paux up the ying-yang with the woman customer determined to touch all of the staff of the restaurant, a lack of patience and the potential of a lawsuit @ the end, when the disgruntled woman says with a glean in her eye “I was assaulted and I have a whole crowd to prove it”.

    …only in America

    Reply
  11. allan

    Mount Sinai nurses ‘shafted’ as hospital abruptly cancels hazard pay, overtime [NY Post]

    What are these whiners complaining about? They got a Blue Angels flyover, didn’t they? /s

    Exhausted nurses at New York’s Mount Sinai hospital system say they feel “shafted”
    and “taken advantage of” after learning the crisis pay that was introduced just four weeks ago
    amid the hell of the coronavirus pandemic is being suddenly terminated.

    The decision to scrap the $250-a-week hazard pay after just four weeks, effective this Saturday, …

    Mount Sinai spokesman Jason Kaplan defended the hazard pay cuts as a “good sign” the pandemic is easing in the hard-hit Empire State.

    “As our inpatient and emergency department COVID-19 volumes are now less than half of what they were at the peak, we are slowly and cautiously returning our system, staff, and roles back to a more normal level,” Kaplan said. …

    Those `more normal levels’ include multiple executives making well into 7 figures,
    according to pp. 18-19 of Mt. Sinai’s IRS Form 990.

    Reply
  12. zagonostra

    >BAR/Glen Ford

    “They were never sheep in the first place? Based on their actions? And perhaps it’s time to stop flogging this dead trope?.”

    I think Ford and the folks at BAR refer to sheep as those who eventually flip to voting for the Democrats. If I remember correctly, Ford was advocating for voting for Bernie but was skeptical (justifiable so) that he would ever be allowed to win nomination.

    The article had a link, posted below, for the Movement for a People’s Party run by Nick Brana (saw him on the JD show). They have a decent web site. I signed up, and once I have a chance to look a bit closer, I think I will make a donation since I no longer contribute to ActBlue. It’s certainly worth taking a look at instead of being resigned to a Biden/Trump world.

    https://peoplesparty.org/thank-you-for-signing-up/

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I think Ford and the folks at BAR refer to sheep as those who eventually flip to voting for the Democrats.

      No, the idea was that Sanders, like a sheepdog, would herd his sheep-like followers into the Democrat Party.

      That has turned out not to be true about his followers, as we see. I don’t believe it is true of Sanders, either; you can quarrel with Sanders’ electoralism, and I do, but I don’t see Sanders’ campaigns as a cynical ploy.

      Reply
    2. John Anthony La Pietra

      MPP is not offering any candidates this year. So I hope all MPP-People will vote Green this fall. (Or other positive non-duopoly options on their ballots.)

      This would be a good way to feed two birds with one seed:

      * Not joining the Billionaires for Biden or Trump.

      * And showing (and building) the potential for something better.

      Reply
  13. Jason Boxman

    The problem for most of us is that the Democrats and Republicans want to hold hands, and push us over the cliff.

    Reply
  14. flora

    re: Lambert’s comment about NGOs and the Dem party includes this –

    At this point we recall that the Democrat Party, blob-like as it is, is also embedded within/composed of a dense network of NGOs, into and out of which electeds, staff, and lobbyists are constantly shuttling.

    Put like that, the Dem party sounds like a virus with dangerous replicating RNA created by hijacking the health parts of the system. / heh.

    Reply
  15. hemeantwell

    Re

    N95 respirators with a built-in exhalation valve — or one-way vent — pose a potentially serious issue. While these types of masks protect the wearer, they do not protect others from a potentially infected cough or sneeze due to their ability to release large respiratory droplets into the air.”

    A one inch piece of scotch tape over the valve’s inside port takes care of the problem.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Available from the National Academy Press:
      “Reusability of Facemasks During an Influenza Pandemic: Facing the Flu (2006)”
      [p. 31] “Some N95 filtering facepiece respirators have exhalation valves placed near the mouth of the wearer. Exhalation valves bypass the filter media and significantly reduce the effort required to exhale and also increase the wearer’s comfort as there is less heat and moisture buildup. A disadvantage of this configuration is that if a nonsymptomatic, but infectious wearer is exhaling a virus or other pathogen, the virus or pathogen may bypass the filter, be emitted to the outside environment, and possibly infect individuals in the immediate vicinity (CDC, 2003).”

      Funny how long it took for this information to show up again for Corona.

      Reply
  16. Phacops

    Re: Wisconsin court case and opening.

    Is this another case of a Democrat whinging rather than fighting? Why hasn’t the Wisconsin government asked for a stay from the Supreme Court under the 1905 Jacobson v. Massachusetts ruling? While vaccine related I think this, and subsequent rulings, emphasize that an individuals freedom is subordinate to the public welfare.

    Reply
  17. Bsoder

    This whole, “economic activity must resume”, reminds me of ‘Arbeit macht frei’. I am very aware of what I’m saying, and have thought about it much. This wouldn’t be the first time, that in the interests of economic growth we the United States had a policy of extermination, which would be that of Native Americans. And that was official government policy. The quote Lambert likes to use: “They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.”, is truer than can be imagined. There is this mentality that humans simply don’t matter. Evil is evil. Words matter they act like prayers for good or evil. I fear where we are headed. It’s always so simple in the beginning, isn’t it?

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Auschwitz: “Arbeit macht frei”
      German Proverb: Arbeit macht das Leben süß.
      Jackie Gleason: “How sweet it is!”

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Auschwitz: “Arbeit macht frei”
        German Proverb: Arbeit macht das Leben süß.
        Jackie Gleason: “How sweet it is!”

        Wall*Street: ‘Arbitrage macht frei’

        Reply
  18. Mikel

    LA TIMES: “Shutdown means less money for schools, healthcare in California budget”, Newsom says.

    Here’s a simple message. Lack of a functioning public healthcare system means less for budgets.
    In all goes back to not having swabs, tests, masks, other PPE. A large part of the spread of is transmission through unprotected healthcare workers .
    Then you have all this “health insurance” we are paying for that is useless. Whenever there’s an emergency, we find out how useless it is but bend over and keep paying more. Even if Covid didn’t kill you, the bills would.
    That is why people want to stay home.

    Reply
    1. MLTPB

      To shut down or to open.

      People, some or many even, feel they are ‘braving’ it visiting a hospital, for an example.

      Also feeling ‘braving’ it may be some students when (or if) they are informed it’s time to go back.

      What if the kid or the parent (or parents) can’t persuade th themselves?

      (There were people canceling flights, cruises, not going to gyms, not eating out before shelter in places orders. Dont know if some students skipped classes beforehand or not.)

      What if you don’t want brave flying to a conference?

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        No definite opening date for Sequoia NP and it wont be open for Memorial Day weekend, and here’s a travel wrinkle which is part of the delay….

        Another hitch is having the proper staffing in place. As of Wednesday, May 13, about 40 percent of the parks’ seasonals (employees who are hired for the summer months) are on duty. Another 60 percent — who will be traveling to their summer job from throughout the U.S., which is another challenge within itself — will report for work on May 24. And before taking to the frontlines, they will partake in required training on how to operate safely during these pandemic times.

        https://3riversnews.com/sequoia-kings-canyon-national-parks-will-remain-closed-for-memorial-day-weekend/

        Reply
  19. a different chris

    I thought Sirota was a bit more studied than this:

    Maybe we should understand that our leaders will give us nothing at all unless they are forced to do what’s right

    He figures this out just now? And still… maybe? Well “maybe” he should look back at the words of somebody who really got it.. for probably the 100th time somebody has posted this on NC, but it seems to not only not be getting old but in fact it’s getting fresher than ever:

    https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/951719-power-concedes-nothing-without-a-demand-it-never-did-and

    Reply
  20. richard

    A woodchipper it may be, but as I prepare for a one year leave of absence from teaching, that flowchart thingy will be my life soon. So thanks for putting it there. I guess.

    Reply
  21. Arizona Slim

    Well, guess what we lucky Tucsonans were treated to today. A flyover, that’s what!

    I was in my house, on a phone call, when the racket roared over my head.

    And I saluted it with one finger. Betcha can’t guess which one.

    Methinks that this money — which I’ve read adds up to about $60k an hour — should be spent on PPE and masks.

    Reply
  22. allan

    Somewhere on Long Island, very fine people on both sides:

    Kevin Vesey @KevinVesey
    I’ll probably never forget what happened today.
    I was insulted. I was berated. I was practically chased by people who refused to wear masks
    in the middle of a pandemic. All the while, I was there to tell THEIR story.
    Here’s the finished product.

    It would have been interesting, if hazardous, for the reporter to check out how many of these
    `death happens – get over it’ warriors have Culture of Life adjacent bumper stickers on their SUVs.

    Reply
  23. Jeremy Grimm

    My sister called asking whether I could send her some baker’s yeast. She said it was unavailable in her area. I checked the Costco website … it’s sold out there too. What else is sold out? rice, I didn’t see flour, they did have coffee. I haven’t been to a store for a couple of months and I’m starting to run low on a lot of items. What kind of shortages are other people seeing in their areas? I’m starting to worry. If opening the lockdowns results in a resurgence of Corona, which I believe is likely, I may spring for that 50 lbs. bag of potatoes for sale at the only true farmers co-op I know of in my area. I may find out what it would be like to be stranded on Mars with only potatoes to eat — and no vicodin to eat with them.

    Reply
    1. MLTPB

      A couple of months?

      I admire the foresight.

      I think there was a big debate about hoarding here. I am not sure which way meself.

      Intersting some are preparing again, while Bundesliga is on now (even with more cases in Germany lately).

      Reply
      1. Jeremy Grimm

        It’s not foresight. I live alone and I tend to eat things that store well like pasta, beans, and rice, canned tomato sauce, and that are cheaper in quantity. Also I usually stock up on things I can freeze when there are sales at the local supermarkets. There were a lot of sales around Christmas this year. So not foresight … just a little bit of luck.

        Reply
    2. ambrit

      Here Down South, much is now scarce. I am re-upping my beans, rice, and spam supplies for the fall. Butter is very scarce, even though dairymen are dumping milk up north. Even in a semi-rural state like Mississippi, there is little in the way of general, all purpose farming going on. Most “farmers” I encounter, (a small population,) are enmeshed in the Corporate Industrial System. They grow chickens for Tyson or thousands of acres of soybeans for ‘investors.’ The real small farmers that I have encountered have, rationally enough, opted to engage with upper income ‘healthies’ and ‘Traditionalists.’ Their prices reflect the pull of higher income customers willing to pay more to secure a ‘captive’ source of food. One lesson I get from this is that we, as Americans, have lost sight of the true relationship between “responsible” food production and prices. In ‘Ye Olde Days,’ food consumed a larger percentage of available financial resources for the average person. Cheap food can be described as an aspect of Industrial farming. The re-adjustment to a more realistic price for food will be a major shock to most. Hopefully, the dynamic seen elsewhere of rising food prices leading to rioting and eventually ‘regime change’ will blowback to our shores.
      Be ready for mucho Interesting Times.

      Reply
      1. Jeremy Grimm

        There are farms all around where I live in the Northeast — but like in your area they all grow field corn or soybeans. My state has a special tax gimme for parcels larger than 5 acres that turn a certain profit from agricultural production each year. I don’t know how much the profit has to be. My impression is that it isn’t all that much. Many people hold land as ‘farms’ by leasing the farming rights to what amount to small-time mechanized share croppers. From what I was told the preference for corn and soybeans is very much influenced by the available farming equipment and the suitability of these crops for mechanized farming.
        I met and talked with some of the real farmers who were in the co-op I mentioned. Most of them use big ag methods to raise their produce. As far as I could tell the co-op was providing much of the produce that turned up at roadside stands. All the farmers I talked with wanted access to a big market so they could be done with the little guys running roadside stands. There are a few stands tied with their own farms. Even so, some of the produce at the roadside stands shows up out of season for this area.
        I hope you are wrong about “rising food prices leading to rioting” but I am afraid you may be right. The US is a producer of agricultural products. I don’t think we will have the same kinds of trouble as countries pressed into plantation production of coffee, bananas, cocoa, palm oil, avocados … by US “free trade” policies or that have less productive soils and too many people. I am worried by the remarkable fragility and inflexibility of the US supply chains. As Corona continues some things may not be available at any price. That was why I became concerned by my sister’s trouble getting baker’s yeast.

        Reply
    3. kareninca

      I’m in Silicon valley. Flour and sugar are pretty much the only things that I can’t get at Trader Joe’s (and spaghetti is the only thing that is often only available in undesirable forms (for instance, the other day there was only linguine and the costly funny-flour pastas)).
      Potatoes don’t store all that well, really.
      You can buy corn meal cheap on Walmart’s website, home delivered for free if you spend over $35 total. It doesn’t store as long as you’d expect, but much longer than potatoes.
      Walmart’s website also has rice (e.g. 20 pounds of Jasmine rice for $19.47), and some self-rising flour. And Barilla spaghetti. And baker’s yeast.
      I know that Walmart is not a great company, but really you could just order a few necessary things from them to have on hand.

      Reply
      1. Harold

        Linguine is the traditional pasta of Liguria, and especially Genoa. Often served with pesto or fish sauces. For a while, for years, actually, we got in the habit of eating only linguine. I don’t know why. Developed a taste for it. Maybe because my neighbor was from Genoa. Now we have switched back to spaghetti and rigatoni. What I am saying that it is very good and by no means undesirable, as is almost any pasta, as long as made with durum wheat.

        Reply
      2. Jeremy Grimm

        Thanks! I made my first web-order from Walmart a few weeks ago for some T-shirts. I was impressed by their website design. It is remarkable for its poor operation. But I’ll start checking it for food availability from time to time.
        I agree with your assessment that potatoes don’t store well. However, I once bought large bag of yukon gold potatoes from a farm in upstate that kept for quite a while. They still had a thin coat of dirt on them which seemed to be what made difference. I kept them in my garage which kept fairly cool and dry — although not quite as well as a cold keep might keep them. I am reasonably sure the potatoes from the co-op have been washed of their dirt and I don’t have any areas of my apartment that are all that cool or dry.

        Reply
  24. VietnamVet

    What are the outcomes from the pandemic when a of third the world has eradicated the virus, a third are still trying and a third have failed like USA, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom? Sanitary sky corridors are one. They can be setup quickly to airports in regions where local public health officials succeeded in controlling coronavirus; Hawaii, Alaska, Montana and Vermont. Except Hawaii and Alaska don’t have railroad access and none of these states have the warehouses built up on the West and East Coast ports to handle imports and exports.

    Clean nations will need beachheads on the North American coast to gain safe access areas to decontaminate the transferred goods and test travelers. Only Louisiana is nearly there. All the other coastal states are failing. This means that isolated port cities will have to barricade themselves with testing and quarantine facilities inside their walls.

    Washington DC may object to these “Chinese” extraterritorial shipping centers. After all, the USA is still in a Cold War with Russia and Iran and is trying to start one with China despite the collapse of the economy and sick troops. Both Donald Trump and Joe Biden will likely send in the drones.

    If war in a pandemic comes, the western corporate managers who fought to their last breath to keep government from doing its job of protecting its citizens against the virus by rebuilding the national public health system will have destroyed North America and themselves in the chaos that results.

    Reply
  25. BoyDownTheLane

    In re: the Red Lobster incident:

    [Full disclosure #1: In late 2007, I worked for three days at a Red Lobster on the other side of the Mason-Dixon Line: I talked myself into the job in a desperate situation by explaining that one New Englander knew more bout lobster than any 20 West Virginians. My failing health forced me to give up the position and I was hospitalized for over three months within days. (I am fully recovered from the experience.)

    Full disclosure #2: Any lobster or other seafood anywhere shoreside in New England beats anything that can be had at Red Lobster.[

    I would blame the unlimited cheesy biscuits. They drive the customers loco.

    If she waited three hours and paid the money she demanded in a refund, she has no argument. They could have simply given her a bag of biscuits.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Good catch about ‘institutional restaurant food.’ We lived on the Gulf coast for years and were spoiled by being able to buy seafood right from the boat. You are right, nothing beats fresh caught.
      The Red Lobster cheesy biscuits should be classified as Schedule IV drugs.

      Reply
  26. Asher Miller

    “(My slogan is “euthanize the NGOs” because the NGOs are weak substiutes for a functional state and functional parties, primarily because they are, at bottom, vanity projects for the rich.)”

    You’re right, food pantries and homeless shelters are vanity projects. Sigh.

    I agree completely that the charitable industrial complex is broken and that society is asking of poor nonprofit orgs to try to shore up the holes that have been created in the social support fabric with the defunding of government services. But how about we have a goal of being able to retire NGOs by fixing the core problem?

    Reply

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