2:00PM Water Cooler 5/15/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, more shortly. There’s been some sort of disturbance in the news flow that makes it much harder for me to process than usual. –lambert UPDATE All done. And there was plenty more!


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, this time with Georgia, another reopening state to check back in on in two weeks.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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Biden (D)(1): “Sanders adviser warns of ‘alarming trends’ that could lead to Biden’s defeat” [The Hill]. “[Jeff] Weaver pointed to polling that shows a lack of enthusiasm for Biden among key groups. A recent USA Today-Suffolk University poll found that about 20 percent of Sanders supporters say they do not intend to vote for Biden. About 60 percent said they are not excited about supporting his nomination. Meanwhile, a Pew Research Center survey found that 47 percent of Sanders supporters said that differences between Biden and Sanders will keep the party from uniting behind the presumptive nominee. Weaver argued that Sanders’s coalition will play an outsized role in the battleground states that will be critical to winning the 2020 election, such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida, Iowa and North Carolina — all states where the Trump campaign and affiliated outside groups are already spending tens of millions of dollars in advertisements. Weaver said Biden’s recent moves to the left on issues such as higher education, as well as the new policy task force, are ‘a good first step,’ but not nearly enough to reach left-leaning voters who are cool on his candidacy. ‘Treating Sanders supporters as throw-away votes will ultimately be at the expense of the party, down ballot candidates, and our ability to enact real policy solutions for Americans,’ Weaver said.”

UPDATE Biden (D)(2): “Biden: “I Wouldn’t Vote For Me If I Believed Tara Reade'” (interview) [RealClearInvestigations]. From a transcript of an interview with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell. “[BIDEN:] This is just totally thoroughly completely out of character and the idea that in a public place in a hallway, I would assault a woman.” • I’m picturing Biden’s handlers watching this and putting their heads in their hands; all the videos and pictures (sniffing hair, etc.) are in public places; that’s why there are videos and pictures. This one: “Biden Swims Naked, Upsetting Female Secret Service Agents, Book Claims.” That’s in a public place. One might even argue that it’s the public place that’s the whole point.

UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “What 74 former Biden staffers think about Tara Reade’s allegations” [PBS]. “He was not on a list of “creepy” male senators that female staffers told each other to avoid in the elevators on Capitol Hill. Yet Biden, now the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, was also a toucher, seemingly oblivious to whether physical contact made some women uncomfortable. That behavior has persisted in recent years. The PBS NewsHour spoke with 74 former Biden staffers, of whom 62 were women, in order to get a broader picture of his behavior toward women over the course of his career, how they see the new allegation, and whether there was evidence of a larger pattern. None of the people interviewed said that they had experienced sexual harassment, assault or misconduct by Biden. All said they never heard any rumors or allegations of Biden engaging in sexual misconduct, until the recent assault allegation made by Tara Reade… Last year, after seven women — including Reade — publicly stated Biden made unwanted physical contact with them, like touching their shoulders and smelling their hair, he released a video and tweet addressing their concerns.” • Well. This is worth reading in full. There are lots of details about how Capitol Hill worked in the 90s. (The baseline for getting on “the list” sounds like it was pretty high.) There’s also detail on the hallway where Reade says Biden’s assault took place. On the other hand, I would expect staffers, especially those still in politics, to be supportive of Biden. In particular, “all said they never heard any rumors or allegations” doesn’t ring true when there are seven women making allegations.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(1): “Sanders urged to share vaunted donor list with Biden” [The Hill]. “‘That email list only works for Bernie Sanders and we’ve proven it,’ [Chuck] Rocha said. ‘The strength of the list isn’t the list itself. It’s Bernie Sanders. If Joe Biden had four Bernie lists, he couldn’t raise much money off of it. That’s not a critique of Joe Biden. It’s just that Bernie is the reason that the list works.’ Neil Sroka, a strategist for the progressive group Democracy for America, said that “The idea that all Bernie Sanders has to do here is turn over his email list so they can pillage it and batter it until it spits out gold coins is absolutely ridiculous.” • Levi Sanders weighs in; Facebook (sigh) from today:

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): “Bernie world descends into disarray” [Politico]. “Claire Sandberg, Sanders’ former national organizing director, said that one of the biggest problems the left is facing is the lack of an electoral infrastructure that can carry on from campaign to campaign. Utilizing Sanders’ data and organizing network could change that, but progressives should explore other options if he doesn’t want to, she said.” • Yep.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(3): “Sanders Responds to House Democrats’ New Coronavirus Legislation” [Bernie Sanders]. • On the HEROES Act:

In my view, however, the Senate must improve this legislation if we are to adequately address the two most urgent needs facing working families [ugh] right now: health care and economic security.

“The coronavirus pandemic has made it clear that everyone in America must receive the health care they need regardless of income, including the tens of millions who have lost their employer-provided insurance. Instead of subsidizing COBRA — which would be a massive giveaway to the health insurance industry — I believe Medicare must be empowered to pay all of the health care bills of the uninsured and under-insured until this crisis is over. This approach will provide coverage to all of our people in a much more cost-effective way.

“Second, if we are to avoid another Great Depression, it is absolutely imperative that every worker in this country continues to receive a paycheck and benefits. In my view, a modest extension in the Employee Retention Tax Credit is not the same as guaranteeing the paychecks of workers and will not provide security for working people. Any legislation in the Senate to address the economic crisis must include a provision to guarantee 100 percent of the paychecks of workers up to $90,000 a year. This is what is being done successfully in many European countries and what should be done here.

Sanders puts his finger on the key lacuna in the HEROES (ugh) Act: It doesn’t give these working class heroes what they need. That’s not a bug, it’s a feature: Pelosi will to nothing to disturb the balance of power between workers and capital; C-M-C’ is sacred!

Trump (R)(1): “‘They are angry’: Pandemic and economic collapse slam Trump across Rust Belt” [Politico]. “‘The way I’ve come to terms with what happened in 2016 in these working-class areas is that the Trump vote was a vote of despair and desperation. And that despair and desperation remain in 2020,’ said Paul Clark, director of the School of Labor and Employment Relations at Penn State University. ‘The big question is, will people in those areas react in the same way that they reacted in 2016 … or have they had enough?'”

UPDATE Trump (R)(2): “Trump Brings in the Infantry for His War on Blue America” [The Atlantic]. “Trump revealed volumes about his mindset at a recent White House event, when he was asked about providing more federal aid to states buckling under the lost revenue and increased cost of grappling with the coronavirus. Trump said he might be open to considering such assistance, if it were narrowly tied to costs directly linked to the outbreak. But then he added: ‘We’d want certain things, also, including sanctuary-city adjustments.’ The most telling word in that sentence is the pronoun we. It suggests the existence of an American community from which blue states are distinct and separate—and to which blue states must provide concessions if they are to receive help from the federal government. Leaving aside the reality that many Republican-run states are facing financial difficulties as great as the Democratic-run ones, Trump’s formulation shows how little obligation he feels to represent the places where fewer of his own voters live. Instead, he portrays those places almost as foreign supplicants seeking aid from his America. ‘This president is seeing himself as the president of red America, where blue America is pushed aside and is not even legitimate,”‘ [Donald Kettl, a public-policy professor at the University of Texas at Austin] says.” • One word: “Deplorables.” At a higher level, Trump, beneath all the bluster, blather and the consequences of having, shall we say, a mercurial temperament, is not incapable of strategic thought. It’s a mistake to underestimate him. (Adding, I think the most telling words in that sentence are “sanctuary city.” To me, sanctuary cities are straightforward nullification, of which John C. Calhoun would approve.

* * *

“Pelosi moving swiftly on $3 trillion relief plan despite Dem gripes” [Politico]. “Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), the chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, had unsuccessfully lobbied Pelosi to delay consideration of the bill until next week. They spent much of Thursday surveying their roughly 100 members about how to proceed, though people familiar with the discussions say it’s unlikely the caucus would seek to upend the legislation completely.” • “Surveying their members.” • One piece of good news: So much for the lobbyists:

And a piece of bad news:

UPDATE “Joe Kennedy III Wants You to Know He’s More Than Just a Name” [Boston Globe]. • “Joe Kennedy. He’s more than a name. He’s a jawline!”


UPDATE “Trump exults in his Mueller revenge play” [Politco]. • Karma

Realignment and Legitimacy

The Blob is high on its own supply:

I’m too lazy to find the link, but I’m so old I remember when Putin kissing Trump (“That’s so gay” [snicker]) was a well-known liberal Democrat trope; it made the pages of the New York Times as a cartoon series. Leaving aside that political relations are not structurally similar to sexual relations, the trope was peculiarly unsettling coming from a political faction that was dedicated to supporting a flowering of sexual identities in all forms (or at least to gay marriage). So, “gay is icky” seemed to strike a false note. (Now, of course, we know that for liberal Democrats, #MeToo was purely tactical and not a matter of principle at all, so what seemed like a false note then is in fact the true note (itself a “false note”)). Be that as it may, the “Putin is kissing Trump, which is gay and icky,” has now been repurposed, without skipping a beat, to “Xi is kissing Trump (which is gay and icky”). Moreever, the trope appears in Foreign Affairs, the publication of the sober, grey-colored Council on Foreign Relations, the heart, if any, of the foreign policy establishment. It’s fine to foment war with China, that’s what these people do for a living, but the trope itself means to me that they’ve lost control of their register, hence of their ethos, hence of their power to persuade based on their putatively good judgment. What next? Piss tapes from Xi?

“Thousands of Americans Have Become Socialists Since March” [The Atlantic]. “‘People are really starting to just look around and say, ‘Man, capitalism isn’t working,'” said the co-chair of the Detroit DSA chapter, who spoke to me on the condition of anonymity for fear of professional repercussions. ‘If the markets can’t even produce hand sanitizer or toilet paper or masks during a plague—what good is this system?’… ‘We’re going to see real change after this,’ Harms said. ‘People won’t forget what this was like—to not have income and not have a job and still be expected to pay all these different bills.'” • Again, however, you can’t build a socialist movement based on organizers who resent being forced into the working class. I mean, isn’t being “expected to pay all these different bills” pretty normal for 90% of the population?

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.

Manufacturing: “April 2020 Headline Industrial Production Monthly Decline Worst In Its 101 Year History” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say seasonally adjusted Industrial Production (IP) declined month-over-month – and now is even deeper in contraction year-over-year. Our analysis shows the three-month rolling average declined. The best way to view this is the 3-month rolling averages which declined. The decline was due to the impact of the coronavirus which caused many firms to suspend operations.:

Manufacturing: “May 2020 Empire State Manufacturing Index Improves To Second Lowest Level In History” [Econintersect]. “The Empire State Manufacturing Survey index improved but remains deep in contraction…. Key elements significantly declined – it seems we are in a recession. Note that survey responses were collected between April 2 and April 10.”

Employment SItuation: “March 2020 Headline JOLTS Job Openings Rate Declined And Remains In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “The unadjusted data this month remained well below average for the rate of growth seen in the last year. With this low average rate of growth, JOLTS is predicting lower employment growth than we have seen over the past year. Jolts predicted the slowing of employment growth. However, this month the coronavirus pandemic was little noticed by JOLTS – and expect a very large drop of open positions next month.”

Inventories: “March 2020 Business Inventories Level Remain Elevated But Declined” [Econintersect]. “There is little effect from the coronavirus this month – wait until next month’s data. Inventories remain elevated but they declined. Our primary monitoring tool – the 3-month rolling averages for sales – declined.”

Consumer Sentiment: “Preliminary May 2020 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Improves Even With Coronavirus” [Econintersect]. “Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin, makes the following comments: ‘Confidence inched upward in early May as the CARES relief checks improved consumers’ finances and widespread price discounting boosted their buying attitudes. Despite these gains, personal financial prospects for the year ahead continued to weaken, falling to the lowest level in almost six years, with declines especially sharp among upper income households. Improved views on buying conditions were due to discounted prices and low interest rates, although their impact was partially offset by uncertainties about job and income prospects. Perhaps the most surprising finding concerned consumers’ inflation expectations. The median expected inflation rate during the year ahead rose sharply, with wide differences across age and income subgroups. As shown in the chart, the Expectations Index still indicates that no economic restoration is as yet anticipated by consumers.'”

* * *

The Bezzle: “Sears’ Headquarters Was Supposed to Turn a Sleepy Suburb Into a Boomtown. It Never Happened.” [Pro Publica]. “The tax breaks and credits would transform Hoffman Estates, then a suburb of 45,000 that lay among cornfields 30 miles northwest of Chicago. Sears worked with state and local politicians to build a sprawling corporate headquarters, new roads, tollway interchanges and other infrastructure in the growing village. Today, Sears, which emerged from bankruptcy last year, is struggling to stay in business, battered by relentless competition and its own miscues and missteps. … The corporate campus built in Hoffman Estates is largely vacant, a hollowed-out shell with a skeletal workforce surrounded by acres of unused parking…. The review of the Sears deal shows that 30 years of spending public money on private interests failed to deliver the economic bonanza envisioned by corporate, state and local officials.” • I’m shocked.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 39 Fear (previous close: 38 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 44 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 15 at 12:09pm.

The Biosphere


This is a great thread. This guy isn’t the first to try a mapping project like this. There are several horror stories.

Health Care

“Sweden Stayed Open. A Deadly Month Shows the Risks.” [New York Times]. “Across Sweden, almost 30 percent more people died during the epidemic than is normal during this time of year, an increase similar to that of the United States and far higher than the small increases seen in its neighboring countries…. ‘It is clear that mortality in Stockholm has been a lot higher than you would expect from a normal year,’ said Martin Kolk, a demographer at Stockholm University. ‘But we will have to wait and see what happens. It’s a very big difference if we continue to see excess mortality for six more months, or if it will be back to normal levels in a few weeks.'”

“Chasing The Elusive Dream Of A COVID Cure” [KHN]. “Hundreds of drugs are being studied around the world, but ‘I don’t see a lot of home runs right now,’ said Dr. Carlos del Rio, a professor of infectious diseases at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health. ‘I see a lot of strikeouts.’ Researchers have launched more than 1,250 studies of COVID-19. Pharmaceutical companies are investing billions to develop effective drugs and vaccines to help end the pandemic. Doctors treating COVID patients say they’re fighting a war on multiple fronts, battling a virus that batters organs throughout the body, causes killer blood clots and prompts an immune system overreaction called a ‘cytokine storm.’ With so many parts of the body under siege at once, scientists say, improving survival rates will require multiple routes of attack — and more than one drug. While some of the experimental medications target the virus, others aim to prevent the immune system from inflicting collateral damage. ‘There are so many pieces of this, and they will all require different therapies,’ said Dr. Lewis Kaplan, president of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, whose doctors provide intensive care.”

“Maine Loosens Lodging Restrictions Amid Reports Of 50 New COVID-19 Cases, 3 Deaths” [Maine Public Radio]. “Maine Department or Economic and Community Development Commissioner Heather Johnson announced at the briefing that the state will now allow Maine lodging businesses to begin accepting reservations immediately for visits beginning June 1, from Maine residents and from nonresidents who comply with Maine’s 14-day quarantine requirement. But asked whether out-of-state residents were essentially on an honor system to uphold the requirement, Johnson answered yes.” • The spice must flow…

“Another Coronavirus Casualty: California’s Budget” [KHN]. “The Democratic governor also warned that California can no longer afford the expansive health care agenda he outlined in January because the pandemic has shredded the state’s finances. Unemployment is projected to reach at least 24.5%, Newsom said, and state finance officials are projecting a $54 billion budget deficit for the coming fiscal year. The number of enrollees in California’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, is expected to soar, putting greater pressure on the state general fund and forcing cuts to education and safety-net programs. Newsom’s revised proposal marks a remarkable shift from four months ago, when the legislature’s Democratic majority was debating how to increase the size and scope of government programs, and the state was flush with $16.2 billion in rainy day reserves.” • More proof that #MedicareForAll must be implemented by the currency issuer, not at the state level. When Canada did that, it was a different time.

“Facebook studies reveal science mistrust winning on vaccine messaging” [Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy]. “Neil Johnson, PhD, professor of physics and data science, said in a university press release, ‘There is a new world war online surrounding trust in health expertise and science, particularly with misinformation about COVID-19, but also distrust in big pharmaceuticals and governments.’ He added: ‘Nobody knew what the field of battle looked like, though, so we set to find out.’…. “The investigators found that although there were fewer people with anti-vaccine views, there were three times as many anti-vaccine Facebook communities, allowing anti-vaccine communities to become highly entangled with undecided groups, with pro-vaccination communities staying on the periphery. They wrote that pro-vaccine groups targeting larger antivaccine communities may be missing medium-sized ones that are just emerging. In another key finding, anti-vaccine groups had more diverse narratives, including safety concerns, conspiracy theories, and individual choice, which increased ways to appeal to undecided groups. In contrast, pro-vaccine groups focused mainly on the known health benefits of vaccination. Johnson said he and his colleagues thought they would find major public health groups at the center of the battle, but they found the opposite. ‘They were fighting off to one side, in the wrong place,’ Johnson said in the release.'” • Holy moley, distrust of government and Big Pharma! What next?! On the other hand, the anti-vaxxers are loons, and dangerous. What to do…

Failed State

“Michigan Cancels Legislative Session to Avoid Armed Protesters” [Bloomberg]. “Michigan closed down its capitol in Lansing on Thursday and canceled its legislative session rather than face the possibility of an armed protest and death threats against Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.” • Score one for the gun humpers.

“No More Open Carrying At Political Protests” [The American Conservative]. ” I know my way around a gun better than a lot of civilians, and even I get nervous in the presence of an open carrier. It’s not an irrational fear of guns; it’s a very rational fear of people. Such people need to see fear in the eyes of others. They then threaten and mock anyone who takes it as a threat. When mobs carry guns on city streets while making political demands, they extend this threat exponentially. They want everyone in a several-block radius, perhaps in the entire country, to know that they are ready to kill. For all their talk of liberty, these armed protesters scorn the non-aggression principle that true libertarians hold sacred. The armed Reopeners who terrorized Michigan’s state legislators aren’t Branch Davidians or Cliven Bundy’s militia allies. They don’t just want government to leave them alone; they want to shape policy, and not with the ballot but with the bullet. When I saw those American citizens using firearms to intimidate lawmakers in the halls of government, I thought of another March on Rome, the bloodless coup that brought Mussolini to power and inspired Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch.”

“He’s suspended for urging fellow officers to ignore stay-at-home orders — he also seems to be getting rich” [MarketWatch]. “In a viral Instagram video, [Greg Anderson, a Port of Seattle police officer and Special Forces veteran] urged fellow law enforcement officers to basically allow citizens their constitutional right [sic] to flout stay-at-home orders and go about their business. Soon after that video, Anderson was placed on paid administrative leave… But don’t feel too bad for Anderson, who said in a follow-up post that he expects to be fired for insubordination. While plenty take exception with his stance, he’s still getting lots of love. In fact, a GoFundMe page started on Monday has already raised more than $340,000 for him.” • Ka-ching.

Groves of Academe

“Pence, DeVos Hold Call With 14 College Presidents” [Insider Higher Ed]. “Vice President Mike Pence held a call today with leaders of 14 colleges and universities. They were joined by Betsy DeVos, the U.S. secretary of education, and Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, in a discussion about ‘best practices to get students back to school in the fall,’ according to a news release from the vice president’s office. The group discussed a guidance document the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released earlier this year about how colleges should plan, prepare and respond to COVID-19. ‘These college and university leaders discussed possible options to re-open their campuses for students, faculty and staff safely and responsibly,’ the release said. ‘Many participants on the call discussed working groups they developed on campus to provide data-driven strategies for re-opening. Participants discussed the importance of opening and maintaining research labs to assist with COVID-19 research, testing and tracing.'” • Interesting absences from the attendee list: No Ivies, and no community colleges at all.

Guillotine Watch

“Uber CEO reportedly favored rank-and-file layoffs over pay cuts for top execs” [New York Post]. “Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi reportedly vetoed a request from the ride-hailing giant’s top executives to cut their own salaries in order to avoid laying off rank-and-file workers, paving the way for thousands of pink slips. A number of the ride-hail giant’s engineering leaders last month told Khosrowshahi that they and other managers were willing to have their own pay slashed in order to spare their workers from Uber’s wide-ranging culling of its headcount, according to The Information (paywall). ‘The answer is no,’ Khosrowshahi said in response, according to the report. ‘What we’re doing through is fundamentally realigning the company so that our cost base matches the new reality of the world post COVID. We do not want to take temporary measures.'” • I’m so old I remember when Khosrowshahi was hired for his PR chops.

Class Warfare

“EXCLUSIVE: ‘Today will be your last working day with Uber.’ Watch as choked up executive tells 3,500 rideshare employees they are being laid off effective immediately over a three-minute ZOOM call” [Daily Mail]. “Thousands of Uber employees learned that they were being laid off in a three-minute Zoom call last week. The ride-sharing company informed 3,500 people who worked in customer service and recruitment around the country that it would be their last day working for Uber on the live call. Uber’s Ruffin Chaveleau was tasked with breaking the news that the app was ‘eliminating’ thousands of jobs on the call, obtained by DailyMail.com. Chaveleau heads Uber’s Phoenix Center of Excellence – the term the company uses to describe its customer service office. Chevaleau told staff: ‘Our rides business is down by more than half. There is not enough work for many frontline customer support employees. [As a result] we are eliminating 3,500 frontline customer support roles. ‘Your role is impacted and today will be your last working day with Uber. You will remain on payroll until the date noted in your severance package.'”

“What Happened to Kroger’s ‘Hero Pay’?” [Dissent]. “[Veronica Copeland] got a letter saying, ‘As you may be aware, you were overpaid your Emergency Pay.’ Kroger was asking for repayment. ‘They ask you to acknowledge it, sign for it, and to agree to one of three payback terms: one, two, or three installments that they will take out of your paychecks,’ she said. It struck her as strange, so she called her union representative right away. ‘They said, ‘Don’t sign anything.’… What makes this all the more frustrating to Copeland is that it’s coming just as Kroger decided to end its ‘hero pay’ of $2 extra per hour. The extra hazard pay will end May 17, though the pandemic that made those workers into ‘heroes’ against their will is far from over. ‘They are taking it away from those people, which is ridiculous as far as I’m concerned because they’re still going to require them to wear masks,’ Copeland said. ‘If it’s dangerous enough that you have to require them to wear masks, why wouldn’t you continue that extra pay? It is only $2 an hour, Kroger.'” • Because they can.

“Many Americans Are Getting More Money From Unemployment Than They Were From Their Jobs” [FiveThirtyEight]. • Sound public policy if you want people to stay home; I’m amazed Congress arrived at it.

“To Be Studied, or Pitied?” (reviews) [Chris Arnade, TAP]. “Two new books, one by Anne Case and Angus Deaton, the other by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, focus on the pain of those stuck on the bad ladder. Each is an example of the two narrow ways well-intentioned elites deal with less-successful people: As a thing to be studied, or a thing to be pitied. It is hard not to come away from reading both books and realize it is better to be studied than pitied… The pitfall of quantitative analysis from afar is that the people impacted individually lose their voice and collectively their agency. They risk becoming data to understand, not people to listen to and learn from, making it harder to understand why they might do things that better-educated readers and researchers wouldn’t. Case and Deaton are good enough scholars to understand this potential pitfall, so they fill in the quantitative data with data from interviews…. Kristoff and Wudunn come from another elite institution, the editorial page of The New York Times. In their new book, Tightrope, they approach the problem of “deaths of despair” in classic op-ed page style. They want the reader to know they have empathy and that the reader should too. They also want the reader to feel better about themselves after reading this book, so in grand absolving fashion, they offer up ten actionable ways “to help in the next 10 minutes.” It feels like the equivalent of a yellow donation “wristband,” to allow you to do your part and then move on, complete with the obligatory endorsement by Bono.” • Ouch.

Upward extraction:

News of the Wired

“Kraftwerk And Black America: A Musical Dialogue” [The Wire]. “By 1977, Kraftwerk had fully developed their practice of fusing European electronic music with black American rhythms, forging an aesthetic that reached critical mass with the release of Trans Europe Express. The creation and subsequent impact of Afrika Bambaataa And The Soulsonic Force’s 1982 watershed release “Planet Rock” has been well documented. For years, Bambaataa had been dropping cuts from electronic acts as various as Gary Numan and Yellow Magic Orchestra in his DJ sets for predominantly black audiences. Of the quirky, forward-thinking electronic acts that he championed, none had a deeper impact on Bambaataa’s own work than Kraftwerk.” • I missed all of this, but the cross-fertilization seems quite remarkable.

Next, androids:

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GM writes: “The desert is happy. An ocotillo near Ocotillo, California.”

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Mr. Magoo

    Re: “Uber CEO reportedly favored rank-and-file layoffs over pay cuts for top execs”

    The bit about not cutting executive pay to save some front-line jobs is just the appetizer.

    Apparently Uber is not going to waste great opportunity to cull their engineering staff and ship that overseas as well.

    I really want to go long pitch-fork manufacturers….

        1. John Anthony La Pietra

          They might be rare enough to be valuable, but even then probably only if you’ve got good provenance on them. . . .

    1. Samuel Conner

      Go long spading fork makers. After the revolution, they can be used to dig gardens.

      Dual use technology!

      1. Off The Street

        Me: where’s the CEO?
        HR: out in the garden.
        Me: didn’t see him.
        HR: you may need to dig a little deeper.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              when we were deep into the 7 year Prowler Problem, and I’d be out patrolling the environs at random dark, I’d consider all the things i might do if i ever caught that crazy neighbor(I hated that guy)
              septic tanks, it turns out, are pretty good for disposing of corpses.
              eventually breaks unfortunate offender down into constituent parts, and is not somewhere anyone wants to look.
              I never got the chance to test it, thank dog…he was sent to a nuthouse after year 7, and died there.

  2. Samuel Conner

    > Next, androids:

    “Doctor Who” previewed this a few years ago in “Deep Breath”, though in that case the restaurant was actually an abattoir.

    1. cnchal

      Anyone that goes to a * * * resaurant doesn’t care about the food. They care about being seen. Being seen by a dummy isn’t quite the same as the dummy is not impressed.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Oh, but 3,500 words from PBS “prove” that he never did no such thing. As in how she was fired, says the guy at the next desk, for “poor performance.” A wonderful combined smear and whitewash, this is: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/what-74-former-biden-staffers-think-about-tara-reades-allegations

          The cool thing about this article is that it throws so much poop on the wall that it would take thousands more words, that nobody would read anyway, to scrape much of it off.

          It’s a referendum on trump, when it should be a referendum on the shitty political system that forces us to choose between sh!t sandwich on Wonder Bread ™, or sh!t sandwich on moldy rye…

          “I believe…. I believe…” Clap your hands if you believe…

          1. Hepativore

            I like your sh*t sandwich metaphors. However, it could be argued that the Biden strategy as well as that of the DNC in general for decades is to give voters a choice between a sh*t sandwich on moldy rye in the case of Republicans such as W. Bush and Trump, or a sh*t sandwich on a stale bun that they insist is gourmet fare from some hipster artisanal deli and get vehemently defensive whenever anybody states the obvious otherwise. The only thing that changes is the type of moldy bread. To make matters worse, the Democrats often use the same moldy bread as that of the sh*t sandwiches that the Republicans originally forced you to eat in the first place.

            Biden is like a garnish stuck to the top of the Democratic sh*t sandwich with a toothpick. Only instead of an olive it is a half-digested kernel of corn.

            1. Democrita

              I’ve always thought of it as choosing between a shit sandwich and vomit stew. One can robustly debate the pros and cons between the two: How long was the vomit digested? Is the bread on the shit sandwich 12-grain artisanal bread?

              And in the end both suck.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > The cool thing about this article is that it throws so much poop on the wall that it would take thousands more words, that nobody would read anyway, to scrape much of it off.

            I think the physical configuration of the hallway is important. That’s fact based, and surely can be verified with records of the hallway as confgured at the time.

        1. The Rev Kev

          You had the same problem too? Imagine if every restaurant did this which led to a shortage of these dolls nation-wide. They may have to re-purpose sex dolls to fill up the numbers which could get a bit awkward at dinner time, especially if one of the diners “recognized” that model of doll.

      1. TXMama

        Most people I know like going to a restaurant because they are tired of cooking for themselves. It’s a mini vacation for the person who usually does the cooking and cleaning up. But then again, I don’t travel in the circles of those who like to be seen. I’m from a lower class than that.

        1. ambrit

          I don’t know if you should beat yourself up like that. After all, what about all those Hooters girls? Or our favourite Honkey Tonk Honeys. Let’s not even get into ‘dogging.’
          Phyl used to like the occasional ‘break’ from cooking, plus, here on the Gulf Coast, there were places that could get absolutely fresh seafood. Usually a small ‘family’ run place. The big drawback with Industrial Dining chains is the bland uniformity of the cuisine.

  3. Sam M

    Regarding the ongoing discussions around state funding;
    If states end up defaulting on their bonds pending no or insufficient funds from the federal government, the chance of PE coming in and enforcing austerity and other forms of control on that level seems like an eerily possible outcome. Not sure on the legality (hopefully it’s not and I lack the background to fully understand it) but seems like a possible scenario.

      1. Bruno

        Teaching human’s to keep “the juicy parts” of a sacrifice for themselves is what got Prometheus punished by The Gods.

    1. Paradan

      I think I posted my fears on this a few months ago, basically what I think the plan is, is to bankrupt the state and city governments so the police go without pay for a week or two. Then PE steps in as the hero. “We” still control our police, but they handle payroll and pensions. It’ll be like a utility, they send you a small bill every month, and down at the bottom of that bill, in tiny little letters it’ll say “Payment of this bill means you agree to our terms of service.” Those terms of service will strip you of every last right you thought you had.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        >“We” still control our police, but they handle payroll and pensions. It’ll be like a utility, they send you a small bill every month, and down at the bottom of that bill, in tiny little letters it’ll say “Payment of this bill means you agree to our terms of service.”


    2. Bsoder

      As with everything it depends, there are General obligation bonds which are secured by the full faith and credit of the issuer and supported by the issuer’s taxing power. Revenue bonds are repaid using revenue generated by the individual project the bond was issued to fund. And the worst Sovereign Bonds in which the citizens directly legally put a lien on all their assets. General and Revenue Bonds, can be blown off and reworked if you have the stomach for it. You can count on first class ruthless people working you over. I love dealing with those people. But the Sovereign Bond, always a stupid way to raise money, the holders of that paid will come and take take your house for starters. Given all the escalators, penalties, and the rest a Sovereign can go from 8 million to half a billion owed in six months. Not a good look at all. People there’s no free lunch.

      1. Bugs Bunny

        “A Public/Private Partnership for Our Citizens”. Do it the way they privatized prisons or less visibly, mutual insurance. PE probably has the model statutes ready to go. They’ll get adopted in every state’s emergency legislative sessions that will continue over the next few years.

      2. Stinky Wizzleteats

        When Detroit and Puerto Rico went bankrupt they essentially suspended democracy and put, I forget the corpspeak term they used, but managers in charge of the place that had the authority to do pretty much whatever they wanted under the purview of cutting costs and marshalling economic resources to pay their debts

  4. Louis Fyne

    Simpson’s “Marge v. the monorail” (“music man” homage) is the best allegory about public subsidies.

    but voters keep re-electing the bipartisan hacks who keep passing the sweetheart deals. feature not a bug. sigh

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Lisa :I’d like you to explain why we should build a mass transit system in a small town with a centralized population.

      Lanley: [ Chuckles ] Young lady that’s the most intelligent question I’ve ever been asked.

      – Really? – Oh, I could give you an answer.

      But the only ones who’d understand it would be you and me and that includes your teacher.

      I feel like every conversation between an msm journalist and a government official more or less goes this way.

      1. Off The Street

        The legacy, or stain on, so many journalists will be that they had to pretend not to understand what was staring them in the face. The politicians had an unfair advantage on that.

  5. zagonostra

    >Half of US households have already withdrawn or plan to withdraw money from their retirement accounts due to coronavirus-related circumstances.

    Not to worry, we will soon be able to borrow up to $10K against future social security payments. That should give great comfort to the ever longer lines of people I see each day at a nearby plasma center to give blood and the garbage workers who are being replaced by prison slave labor while political class gorge themselves on Fed’s gruel, yeah everything is leeches and dreams.

      1. Carla

        C’mon. People without 401K’s or IRA’s aren’t counted. They never are. They don’t count.

  6. antidlc

    I am fuming about the announcement that Kroger employees will lose their “hero” pay. I have been going to the same Kroger for years and once the pandemic hit, I have utilized their grocery pickup service each week. The employees do a fantastic job and I leave them a generous tip.

    I spoke with one of the employees when I called in to announce my arrival for pickup. I told her I was disgusted that they would be treated this way. She said the union was trying to fight it.

    The only think I can think of doing is getting a lot of people to get on twitter can get a hashtag trending.

    Or flood the Kroger facebook page.

    Companies hate negative PR.

    I want to legally and nonviolently express my disgust.

      1. John

        The CEO ought to have announced that he was taking a 50% pay cut and that the entire executive suite was taking pay cuts at least for the duration of the emergency. They can afford it since executive pay has become bloated out of all proportion. You know, guys and gals, keep the Mercedes one more year. It’s a sacrifice, but you can do it.

        1. Procopius

          But if he took a pay cut his wife might have to give up her sponsorship of the canine society and membership on the board of the local March of Dimes. She would be devastated as her friends looked on with scorn. Can’t have that.

  7. jefemt

    Oil and Gas wells… just go to any state oil and gas commission web site, and click on the GIS mapping tool.
    North Dakota, far eastern Montana, Wyoming, NE Utah, NE Colorado, OK or Texas.
    I live and work west, I bet PA, OH, W VA are messy!

    You don’t think 5 generations of freedom with carz and convenience with plastic comes at no cost?
    If you want an omelette, you gotta break a few eggs…

    Out of sight, out of mind… the blood on our hands

    for the idle and curious, here are a few :

      1. orlbucfan

        I bet the oil well gas map for Oklahoma looks similar to that Louisiana ecological disaster.

  8. Keith

    [Jayapal and Pocan] spent much of Thursday surveying their roughly 100 members about how to proceed, though people familiar with the discussions say it’s unlikely the caucus would seek to upend the legislation completely.”

    And that’s why they can be ignored and cast aside. Say what you want about the Freedom Caucus, bu they fought and were plenty willing to shut down their party to make their point. Add in sympathetic senators from the senate, like Cruz and Paul, and you see a wing that ousted a Speaker, got legislation they wanted and have been able to entrench themselves within the office of the presidency.

    Perhaps Progressives should take some notes.

    1. remmer

      We look at how the Tea Party and Freedom Caucus could force their policy preferences on the entire GOP, and we ask “Why can’t the Dems do that?” They can’t do that because the Dems aren’t a mirror image of the GOP. In the GOP it’s nearly impossible to go too far to the right, which means that most members of the right-wing caucuses had safe seats. When it came time for reelection, their biggest fear was getting challenged by someone who was even further to the right. They could publicly humiliate their party leaders and get away with it.

      Not so for the Dems, as we’re seeing with AOC and Ilhan Omar. Challenge party leaders from the left, and they’ll recruit “centrists” to challenge you. So we’re not likely to see Dem equivalents of the Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus. Then again, we’re in a crisis now, so some things could change.

      1. Keith

        Not to nit pick, but doesn’t that argument undercut the electibility of Sanders and his overall platform? If the progressives try and force their agenda and lose to centrists, it seems progressives are not representative of the party or the people they claim they want to assist.

        Also, the Freedom Caucus had some spectacular failures, too. They just kept plugging away and wore their enemies down. The enemy being the party status quo.

        1. Clive

          Your observations stand to me and certainly sound credible in my long (seems like an eternity) involvements in the left of politics (assuming that there’s read-accrosses between the U.K. and the US, which I think there are).

          The GOP’s Even More Evil Twin, the Conservative Party here, has simply eradicated anything and everything which got in the way of what became its primary purpose in life (the policy was Brexit, obviously the GOPs is more rudimentary economic rape and pillage but the principle is the same). Everyone in the party who didn’t commit to that was, as in what transpired with the leadership style of Daenerys Targaryen, promptly incinerated where they stood.

          On the left, a true socialist, who had his faults but they weren’t in the realm of basic policy, got harried and eventually picked to political death by the centrists. It is simply impossible now, for Labour — a party of progressive socialism for goodness sake — to not, as you allude with the Democrats, endlessly get taken hostage by the centrists. Never, ever (at least not since maybe the mid-1970s) is it possible for the progressive socialists to (as the GOP do and as the U.K. Conservatives do with *their* centrists) have a “night of the long knives” and take, metaphorically-speaking, the problematic centrists out to the woodshed.

        2. JTMcPhee

          They just kept plugging away. Not a trait that Left progressives have mastered, yet, though there are inklings. A few saying they will not vote for the latest “messaging bill” that once again says “screw you” to the ordinary people. (Though it looks like the billion-dollar gift to the lobbyists who lobbied to get “non-profit PPP” money has been removed from that DOA bill — I gues that is some kind of “progress…”)

          And now we see a couple of Reps actually sponsoring legislation to guarantee people’s paychecks and support through this pandemic so they can stay locked down. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/14/gardner-joins-hawleys-massive-coronavirus-jobs-bill-257083 To at least the preserve a skeletal framework of businesses not essential to eating and stuff, so Maybe most people will have jobs to go back to. Republicans about to outflank the ancient monsters like PElosi and Scummer on the left? Saagar Enjati on “Rising” and in Twitter and other places is pounding on this as the way for the Reptilian Party to co-opt the entire progressive political space.

          And the Yellow Dog Dems, the ones who “will vote for a yeller dog, if’s that’s what the Party puts up as a candidate,” are all fine with that.

          Let’s remember that Pelosi and Feinstein and the rest of the Dem leadership are well along in years, well protected against any personal impacts from their policy choices, and will soon be able to say “See ya, suckers!” and sail off to sunny shores with the best of everything assured to them.

          Not much reason for them to change a damn thing of what they have been doing to serve the people who bribe them…

        3. remmer

          Yes, it explains why Sanders lost. The Obama-Clinton establishment pushed Tom Perez into the DNC chair election in 2016 because Sanders’ attempt to move the party back to New Deal-type policies was a challenge to them. So in 2020 they pulled off what Lambert calls the Night of the Long Knives to make sure Sanders would lose. And now they’re stuck with Joe Biden.

          Judging by public opinion surveys over the last year, Sanders did represent Dem voters, large majorities of whom supported his policies. But those same voters knew that he didn’t represent the party leadership, and that mattered. They liked Bernie’s policies, but they’re used to not having nice things. They also wanted to beat Trump and they believed that the party leaders knew how to do that.

          And of course the Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus had big failures — no one wins all the time. But we still talk about them because of their victories.

        4. John k

          Yes, freedom was unrelenting. But also not compromising.
          That would be like Bernie refusing to endorse. And like virtually all progressives refusing to vote for biden. But lesser evil keeps winning.
          The Supreme Court! Forgetting biden waived Thomas thru.
          Women’s right to choose! As if biden will make any diff.
          Progressives need to primary all centrist dems as job 1. A small progressive party is better than a large centrist one that begs the same donors as the reps. Plus then you can grow by bringing in two rep workers for every dem centrist you lose.
          I get emails every day from progressives. I willing to give to progressive candidates primarying centrist dems. Need a deeper, wider, tougher bench.

      2. The Historian

        You are forgetting one very important fact. The Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus were not populist – they were an especially well funded mostly propaganda movement by the extreme right wing and was never against the interests of the 1%. The Left can’t do that unless they get a number of billionaires to fund a propaganda movement that is against their own class’s best interests. Do you think that is ever going to happen?

  9. Keith

    “Michigan Cancels Legislative Session to Avoid Armed Protesters”

    If the past few years are any indicator, politics and popular mobilization is about shutting down the other side. You have seen it with Anti-Fa, so it is only reasonable for other groups to embrace the same strategies.

    As for me, I’ll grab the popcorn and be entertained!

    1. John

      I never thought of sticking a weapon under someone’s nose as a strategy. Oh well. Live and learn.

    2. Bsoder

      I live in Michigan I have a farm, my wife raises horses and a house on Lake Michigan. I also have a family home in Dublin New Hampshire – I know all about live free or die. So let’s talk about, “Michigan Cancels Legislative Session to Avoid Armed Protesters”. Not all is at it seems. North to south and East to west, upper and lower peninsula, they alleged protesters have no support – like 93% opposed (UofMichigan institute for social research). People would much prefer the governor call out the national guard and have them shot. The state attorney general has ruled that carrying those weapons on/in the state capital grounds is illegal. Based on license plates most aren’t even from Michigan. But with 9.9 million people in Mi. your bound to get the criminally mentally ill. After all their stated manifesto among other gems is to kill people who resist them. In Detroit where most of Mi.’s 4800 COVID-19 infected have died, not only are people annoyed they have gone to the capital in support of the governor, and called out the ‘give us liberty or death’ wanna be(s), no shows. Keep it up and give it 30 days and it’s not going to be so civil. Orange Hitler encourages people to break the law, thinkIng what, people have been just awaiting for his orders? Some people do support trump just to be contrary most don’t. The problem with Hillary in Michigan was people didn’t want a soap opera, instead with trump we get the full Ring Cycle. People have had enough. Really had enough. People have actually died and suffered for this country and what these protesters (as such) do is make a mockery of those sacrifices. They have no grievances, no cause, they divide the people, & spew hatred. They are no different than those who protested for slavery. The media completely misses the point. The people do not.

      1. Keith

        I think that is the point, a small minority can shutdown debate and get their way. It happens on both the left and the right, but violence and the threat of it is effective and becoming more of a strategy. I have not been out in a while, but last spring, maybe, I saw the black clad Anti-Fa at Spokane rallies, and you know what, dissenting opinions did not appear. It happens and works on both sides, and they are getting used to getting their way. Eventually, there will be scenes again a la the so-called “Battle of Berkley.” It is a reason I will stay away, grab some popcorn and what some local news pay per view. We’re not talking the best and brightest on either side, but they serve as a useful distraction.

    3. HotFlash

      They don’t just want government to leave them alone; they want to shape policy, and not with the ballot but with the bullet.

      Well, haven’t we on the left been warned quite recently that when peaceful means fail, then violent means will be inevitable? “In the streets”? “Torches and pitchforks”? sort of thing?

      Has the ballot failed us, do our representation apparatuses not convey the will of the majority to the government? We have to decide, each for each, whether our elections have been corrupted or not, and if so, then we decide what we are willing to risk to make our voices heard.

      1. HotFlash

        Also, I realize the MI National Guard may be overseas, but doesn’t Gov. Whitmer have state police? Don’t they have riot gear? Or do they only do unarmed protestors? Giving in to bullies doesn’t work. If I lived in MI I would be very disturbed by her display of weakness.

        1. Keith

          Or she likes the optics of it. female Mid-Western Governor under assault by rightwing militias, which are the boogeymen of the left. Great way to rally the base, and make the pearl clutching socialites feel they are under siege and open their pocketbooks.

  10. Lambert Strether Post author

    I finished beefing up the politics section. Lots of material on Biden, Sanders, and Trump, most of it new narratives. Please refresh your browsers.

    UPDATE I didn’t add this snippet from Politico on the proliferation of post-Sanders PACs:

    “Once Again [is a] PAC started by different top aides to amass more Sanders delegates at the National Democratic Convention…. Once Again has also hired three aides…. Lynn Hua, who ran the “Bernie Journey” program organizing out-of-state volunteers for his 2020 campaign; Latchmi Gopal, who worked on the national canvassing program; and Kate Tyler, a former aide on Mike Gravel’s 2020 presidential team.

    I’m chuffed that there’s a member of the Gravel team on Once Again. That gives me some confidence in it.

    (Readers know my position on this: Sanders should have pivoted immediately to raising money for strikers. So the picture I get — and granted this is a picture Politico would very much like to paint — of the Sanders operation splintering is distressing, because there is literally no other organization that could have done that. Opportunity squandered!)

    1. EGrise

      Sanders is well aware of the power he possessed in terms of an organization. And I have no doubt that he understood how he could have used that organization to increase his influence (and that of leftists in general) inside the party.

      I know another ex-community organizer turned ex-president who doubtless understood that too.

      Was it squandered deliberately?

      While I acknowledge that Bernie’s low profile is at least partly a result of his political defeat, I can help thinking that something else happened as well.

      I keep remembering a line from a spy novel I read years ago, referring to a “rogue” US general, his actions that went contrary to the wishes of the intelligence agencies, and his death in a mysterious plane crash. The main character noted that, in contrast to the movies, spy agencies never assassinate enemy spies, the rule being that “you only kill on your own side.”

      I think about that a lot. I haven’t come to any conclusions, and I’m honestly not suggesting any sort of violent extortion. But I can’t help thinking that the same rule applies in modern Democrat politics: you only put the hard smackdown on your own side.

      Anyway, just adding in my two cents to what I’m sure others are thinking.

      1. Yves Smith

        You are mistaken about the organization. I have pointed out REPEATEDLY that some staff members and allies basically told him to quit. Sanders could not have continued if some of his lieutenants were ready to resign or would continue only as internal opponents.

        He let in too many careerists and they dumped him as soon as they thought his time had passed.

        My belief is that is why he looks so defeated. He was stabbed in the back by members of his own team. Betrayal hurts a lot more than losing.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Thats very sad if this is the case. Even the betrayals we know about (Warren, obviously), must have hurt deeply.

          As an outsider, I’ve been trying to puzzle out what Sanders has been up to – I’ve wondered if he is playing a longer game for the movement, or if he has simply decided to see if he can take advantage of Biden crashing and burning over the next few months – better to be ‘inside’ the tent if this occurs.

          But it certainly makes sense if he has felt a deep personal betrayal, he wouldn’t be human if he didn’t want to step back for a while, even if it really alienates many of his supporters. Its in everyones interest I think that he gets his mojo back, because really, nobody has any idea what the next 6 months holds. I think those who have been too ready, Jimmy Dore style, to cry ‘betrayal’ have been very foolish and counterproductive. There are times when the best thing to do is take a deep breath and hold your counsel. This is one of those times I think.

    2. Bsoder

      Lambert you do an excellent job, a difficult job, a hard job. Many thanks. That said. Regarding Sanders, I think at this age and given his health maybe his done all that can. Maybe all that he wants to do. He is done. He doesn’t owe us anything. One could make the same argument that any given billionaire or a specific billionaire outta help. But I’m suspicious of one man bands. So somewhere today on @NC is a report of Hong Kong with stupid, and no leadership, took control of Covid-19 and got control. Why not us? In fact it had better be us, because everything is rigged against us. I listed Jared Diamond’s 12 points yesterday that determine the successful or failure of a nation to solve a problem or go extinct. We are negative on all counts. But we don’t have to be. I’d start with point #2 –> Accept responsibility; avoid victimization, self-pity, and blaming others. As Clive as said you can’t force things on people. No, one listens, gets accepted as real, floats some ideas, and then acts and succeeds. One must deliver. I’ve done it.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      “There’s been some sort of disturbance in the news flow that makes it much harder for me to process than usual.”
      Your observation echoes the “disturbance in the force” discussed at NakedCapitalism a few years ago. Is that intentional?

      1. ambrit

        In relation to a “disturbance in the Force”….
        I flashed earlier this evening on an image of Nancy Pelosi dressed up like a Jedi, doing the Mind Trick Hand Wave to a group of ‘Progressive” Congresscritters while saying: “These aren’t the policies you were looking for. Go on about your business as usual.”

  11. Widowson

    I feel like anti-vaxxer sentiments are right up there with fat jokes (“On the other hand, the anti-vaxxers are loons, and dangerous.”). You’re broad-brushing any parent like me who does have valid concerns about the dramatic expansion of vaccines given at once to newborns, infants, and young children. The name of the document escapes me, but in the future I’d be happy to post a link to an official FDA 1,200+ page .PDF that lists all the vaccines out there and their known complications when given at the same time. Page after page disclaims how there have been no studies to prove or disprove risk to young children when various vaccine combinations are administered concurrently. Look at vaccination schedules from the Seventies as compared to today and it’s shocking how many vaccines are now given during the same visit or even in the first year of life. As parents, my wife and I chose to stretch out our children’s vaccinations over multiple visits, not allowing our children to receive more than 1-2 different immunizations during the same visit. We know that sometimes dangerous complications DO arise in some individuals from vaccines. If choosing to stretch-out time between vaccines makes me a “anti-vaxxer,” then so be it. But it’s intellectually weak to dismiss anyone’s concerns re: vaccines, Big Pharma profit-motive, and how lobbying influences medical practices at the expense of public health as being “anti-vaxxer.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      When the founder of a movement is guilty of research fraud, and the movement is spread by wealthy suburbanites who are fine with infecting others because they can afford to take their own kids to the hospital, it’s hard to take it seriously. (But I don’t recall making the equivalent of fat jokes; if I did that, you’d know. Anybody who bought into Wakefield’s fraud was a loon, but that’s not a joke. If the shoe fits…)

      I maintain a hermeneutic of suspicion regarding both government and Big Pharma, which is why I added qualifying language to that effect, which you seem to have overlooked. By all means, space your children’s vaccinations out.. But anti-vax, as a movement, is an assault on public health. It’s dangerous and bad.

      1. jsn

        Not too different from the open-carry pie-holes spouting on about their right to infect others, in fact.

        I think “freedumb” is what they call it.

      2. Widowson

        Lambert: I don’t know enough about the “anti-vaxxer” movement to know that there’s an actual leader; isn’t that sort of like saying someone is the “Leader of the Leftists”? I was merely pointing out that one can be suspicious of vaccination politics and Big Pharma and want to try to do no harm to one’s children by way of over-vaccination and NOT be a loon. I think like most things, there is far more nuance than what can possibly be conveyed by using terms like “anti-vaxxer” or, when it comes to suspicions of corporate government malfeasance, e.g. “conspiracy-theories.” I’m bouncing between work and Naked Capitalism, so I may have missed your qualifying language! Keep up the exceptional work!

        1. Bugs Bunny

          There are three leaders in the “Freedom Angels”. All are white women, I wouldn’t venture to speculate on their social status. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. also supports them publicly.

          I sure wouldn’t want to be denied vaccines – Polio is not extinguished yet. That would be a devastating epidemic. MMR is just common sense – I know a woman who had mumps in her 20s. She was in the hospital and laid up for about 3 months. The HPV vaccine is very expensive but it has vastly reduced ovarian cancer that used to be caused by an STD. The shingles vaccine prevents horrible nerve pain for people over 50 who’ve had chicken pox…etc.

          Bill and Melissa Gates’ involvement in vaccine development does give me pause. I wonder what’s in it for them. Wiping out malaria sounds great but I wonder about knock on effects – people have evolved with the disease. And the idea of exterminating mosquito carriers is absolute ignorance of how ecosystems work.

          1. Alternate Delegate

            That shingles vaccine is NOT ready for prime time. They used a new adjuvant that is causing serious and ongoing health issues for someone I know. Also, it fails to prevent shingles.

            I am concerned about rushing to a covid vaccine because the vaccine may get shortchanged on necessary testing. And that testing in NECESSARY, not optional, even in a pandemic. There is a risk of serious blowback if a rollout is rushed, and I don’t mean just political blowback.

        2. Yves Smith

          Straw manning, a violation of our Site Policies. And it’s rich to talk about “nuance” when the anti-vax position is anything but.

          And there are most assuredly leaders. One of them is Laura Hayes, who has been a been a major fundraiser and promoter by virtue of having a husband in private equity in Northern California and hitting up all of his friends.

    2. Trent

      The question is do all these vaccines really need to be had, or is it just because they can?

    3. Riverboat Grambler

      Yeah I’m sure you guys are gonna be real helpful when a COVID vaccine rolls around.

    4. Bsoder

      Well, except hundreds of million of kids have had these vaccines and relative to unknown side effects (which is what a MD is there for – to make those determinations and mange risk) there has been no mass die off of children. You clearly do not understand how the FDA works and you want it both ways as an authority with ‘offical’ information, but not as an authority to follow its recommendations to get vaccinated. Those 1200 pages you refer to all supplied by the manufacturer and require an understanding of a very high level of biochemistry. Also if you haven’t seen and worked with a couple of thousand patients it is very hard to understand the real risks. I say this with humility but not all issues have two sides that is a logic fallacy. And it is correct to dismiss it as such. Either we talk science or magic. As a MD /PhD² for 40 years, big-pharma doesn’t make vaccines. Those that do don’t make much money. The government should be in charge of all research and manufacturing of vaccines. Lobbyists, are you serious, I’m that not stupid or easily convinced. Some MDs sadly follow the money, not the logic because there isn’t any. I have 3 kids all vaccinated and me as well. Truly, let’s get Medicare for all and then have this conversation, because in the end it’s just another way to divide and rule us.

    5. ChrisPacific

      The existence of a 1200 page PDF does not, in itself, constitute any kind of problem. It’s evidence of robust risk controls. I can think of similar documents in risk-conscious industries, like IT security, that might be terrifying to the lay reader in aggregate but actually paint quite a different picture when you look at mitigations and residual risk. If the anti-vax movement had devoted anything like 1200 pages to honestly and critically evaluating their own arguments then I might take them more seriously. Also, you can’t simultaneously claim there is no evidence of safety of concurrent vaccine administrations and that it’s done constantly to young children in normal practice. If it’s done constantly then there is a large body of evidence right in front of us. Look at it, draw some conclusions and back up your argument with hard data, of which there should be no shortage. Or find something specific in the 1200 page document that concerns you. The mere existence of it shouldn’t be cause for alarm.

      Of course we should always think critically about vaccine safety arguments, just as with everything else, but the danger in expressing those criticisms without proper constraints and supporting evidence is that it tends to act as a dog-whistle to the anti-vax crowd, who will treat it as bias confirmation material and not read critically. It’s like saying there are valid criticisms of climate science. Of course there are. It’s science – critical analysis, experimental evidence, and peer scrutiny is how it advances. But you need to express that in a way that won’t be read by deniers as “climate change is a hoax.”

      Have a look at the recent measles outbreak in Samoa for an example of the cost of anti-vax beliefs. In their case there was actually some reason, as they had two deaths from the MMR vaccine a couple of years ago (as a result of preparation errors, for which two nurses were charged and found guilty of manslaughter). That led to a high degree of suspicion among the (not always particularly scientifically literate) population and a low vaccination rate, and was thus an exacerbating factor for the later 80+ unvaccinated deaths in the measles epidemic.

      1. Heraclitus

        I think every vaccine deserves a different discussion.

        One of the things that has come to light for me as a result of trying to assess the risks of Covid-19 is how little we really know about the flu. The medical establishment is very upset at the few doctors who raise questions about the science of flu vaccination and the assumption that it is a net positive for health.

        This ‘Atlantic’ article from 2009 does a good job of explaining the issues.


  12. mcb

    Re: Maine
    Maine is #1 in getting more money from unemployment than from regular wages. It’s also potentially going to see the worst economic fall out from this, dependent as we are on tourism. They want the tourists and literal fair weather residents with summer homes here to feel welcomed with that 14 day quarantine honor system! Never mind we only have two hospitals in the entire state that can deal with covid patients (many of my family members work at Maine Med, so this feels like a particular ‘screw all of you’ to me). The hospitals here have prepared as well as they can but resources and staff are finite. The domino effect when healthcare staff starts falling will have oversized impact here—if my husband has to staff the psyche hospital, that effectively shuts down his out patient addiction clinic. Deaths of despair indeed!
    At least the cruise ships won’t be docking this year.

    1. Carla

      Thanks for this on-the-ground report from Maine. I have an 80-yr-old friend who moved there last fall, and I worry about her.

  13. You're soaking in it!

    I’m pretty sure the Foreign Affairs picture is going back to a famous painting on the Berlin Wall of Breszhnev kissing Erich Honecker (head of East Germany) with the caption “God help me survive this deadly love”. The kiss it commemorates was a real thing, and I always took it to be very much about the deadly politics, though all these US knockoffs are not necessarily. That being in the 80’s the sexuality was deadly enough too.

  14. Dr. John Carpenter

    Biden has an interesting strategy in telling people not to vote for him. This isn’t even the first time he’s made comments like this. For every democrat vote they lose, do they think they’re picking two NeverTrump Republicans?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The West Wing explains a good deal of the pathos of liberals, but the book “The Emerging Democratic Majority” wrecked so many people. They expect to win by simply not being Republicans. As a result they feel any behavior can be justified. These are articles of faith. Failures are the result of people not clapping loudly enough, not the decisions of the elite.

      I doubt they have a strategy beyond keeping the DFHs from having power at this point. Its a decayed edifice where the next generation is represented by Pete Buttigieg. The man is a clown. He ran on a few right wing vagaries such as “national service” to teach the uppity young people a lesson and being friends with the facebook guy.

      There is an element where they believe they are owed celebration and praise from the masses.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        They expect to win by simply not being Republicans.

        Indeed. That was Hillary’s campaign and it seems to be Biden’s as well (although both pretty openly blurred those lines courting Republicans as they have.) Of course, we all know how well that worked in 2016. At least it will be interesting to hear what excuses they use this time if Biden loses.

    2. Bsoder

      It helps to remember Biden has dementia compounded with serious memory problems. It’s not clear to me how Biden got to where he is, beyond the alleged help of Obama. I’d add Bill Clinton, Gore and even Busch into the mix. The 536 billionaires are not happy with the optics. Biden or Bernie doesn’t matter we all know the game plan. Now Covid-19 is a problem, the depression is a problem, and climate heating is a problem. I’d suggest we start living way less complex lives, simpler if you will. Like airplanes are the first to go.

      1. John k

        There’s never been a lesser need than now… zoom, travel videos, museums on line. Not the same, but these are new options. Why not use them.

  15. Adam1

    “Sound public policy if you want people to stay home; I’m amazed Congress arrived at it.”

    That was in the first round of legislation when some people were still asleep at the wheel – before “re-opening” magically became the focus of policy debate. Mistakes happen.

  16. TalkingCargo

    James Howard Kunstler has an interesting and informative podcast with Art Berman about the state of the oil business. Berman is not optimistic about a V-shaped recovery:

    Also there’s a post on Berman’s website from a couple of weeks ago about how the oil industry will have a tough time recovering from this crisis and how that will affect the economy:

    1. Carla

      I’m reading Kunstler’s “Living in the Long Emergency” and really enjoying it. Subtitle: Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward.

      Those interested can order an autographed copy from Battenkill Books of Cambridge, NY: orders@battenkillbooks.com or 518-677-2515, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon. through Sat.

      1. Bsoder

        I wish Jim would stick to the Long Emergency and stop with the deep state nonsense.

        1. Bsoder

          He’s in the right place people think he’s a lefty but his pretty conservative. As a person I like him very much, love his garden and he is a wonderful host. The deep state and trump stuff I brought it up once and then left it alone. If I’m to have any friends there are things I just have to let go of. But thanks for the info.

  17. Big Tap

    Bernie Sanders is over for me. Big talk no action. He voted for the 4 to 6 trillion dollar giveaway to primarily corporate America, Wall Street, and hedge funds. That’s the bill when he had some leverage but didn’t use it.

    Also why was he not at the surveillance vote that failed because he didn’t show up. Sanders supporting Biden is the final straw.

    1. Carla

      The surveillance vote did it for me. I have never felt quite so abandoned. Congrats, Bernie — you did that!

      1. taunger

        What does he owe to the Dems to Vail them out? Plenty of them screwed up. Getting mad at him about this is like voting Biden to end the madness.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Sorry … I don’t understand. Please explain how “voting Biden to end the madness” is like getting mad / feeling deep disappointment and betrayal in Sanders lack of consistent support — as evidenced by his votes not his speeches — for what were supposed to be his central values.

        2. Carla

          @taunger — I’m not a Dem. What made you think so? Your comment totally confuses me.

          I personally supported Bernie with my vote, and my money. He betrayed me, along with many millions of others. Even when he disappointed me, I stuck by him because of M4A. But Bernie didn’t stick by me. He’s just another sham and I’m DONE.

        3. orlbucfan

          All the yelling at Bernie being MIA misses the fact that he was on a live chat on climate change. Patty Murray was also MIA. What was her excuse?

  18. marym

    Trump (R)(2):

    Trump doesn’t “[see] himself as the president of red America…” He sees himself as sovereign with the right to do whatever he wants, and public assets as belonging to him to be dispensed to those who do his bidding. Wasn’t that settled during Ukrainegate and recently reaffirmed by the prince consort?


    1. Bsoder

      Well, as to – “sees himself as sovereign with the right to do whatever he wants” that’s what mom & Fred told him since he was a baby. No, as hopelessly delusional as trump is, he has said many times and ways that there are two Americas, and one is the enemy. From where I sit he’s got Jeff Davis’ old job, – President of the Confederacy. And I do wish they would succeed. He could be president for life.

      1. a different chris

        “secede” – did you get auto-mispelled? – but yeah…. keeping them in the country was Lincoln’s second biggest mistake, first of course being “man an evening out would be nice…what’s showing at the Ford?”

      2. marym

        Trump doesn’t see himself as president with responsibilities toward most demographics in this country, regardless of the state where they live.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I think that for Trump, it is all about loyalty. he put together a task for several weeks ago and the people on it were either family members or from his loyal inner circle. This it is not much blue State versus red State but which State is “loyal” to him and which is against him. Not long ago he came out and said that the supply of PPE to States would depend on which ones thanked him in public. I suspect then that if you had a blue State which had a Governor praising Trump, life would be a bit easier for them.

      1. Bsoder

        But there isn’t and won’t be. And – Money wise the confederacy gets way more back then they pay in. Then there’s the problem with the senate – sorry but I don’t like the set up. Just how many versions of Rand Paul do we need. Lastly, I find their core values of meanness, hatred, love of all things white and male too much. You may or may not know this but before the civil war blacks were counted as 3/5 of a person. And? For purposes of the census that’s how they were counted thus the south with all its slaves was allocated more seats in the House of Representatives. Now it’s the Senate. I’m tired of all this. I really want them to go.

  19. boydownthelane

    I am still chuckling in amazement about the woman at the Red Lobster so when I saw the idea about restaurants using mannikins to insure social distancing, I thought I’d shop around for some used mannikins (surely some of those large-box retail companies now out of business would sell some to me) and I could re-purpose them with a shine, polish, fresh make-up and hair, and bury one of those interactive AI personalities like a Siri in its abdomen. If I perfect the idea and can turn out more than a few each day, I’d be in business for those who wanted their own dining companions through which (whom?) one could have a few more chuckles.

    1. Nancy Boyd

      All I can say about the woman going off at Red Lobster is that when I was mired in depression, feeling trapped and powerless in a job where I was constantly demeaned and nothing I could do would satisfy my boss and then coming home to a second shift with children I had to manage on my own, I used to go off on customer service type workers all the time. Women don’t have many channels for aggression and rage. Service workers were far safer to be angry at than the people closer to me or my coworkers.

      After five years of therapy (which cost a FORTUNE) and some medication — plus a job change and my children growing up — I don’t do that any more.

      Deaths of despair, as I recall, were particularly concentrated, in the Case-Deaton study, in working class white women.

      PMC women, no matter their despair, don’t go to Red Lobster. Never in a million years would they eat the cheesy biscuits, much less the defrosted seafood.

      1. boydownthelane

        I am sorry that you were mired in depression. I was working atat Red Lobster so I could be emotionally and communicatively available to a woman who suffered from bipolar depression, sleep disorders, quite possibly dissociative identity disorder (but I’m not a board-certified psychiatrist, she was) and was suicidal. I had deduced over frequent VOIP conversations that she had been repeatedly sexually abused her father (a physician) starting at age 9. She told my son who waited in the ICU while I was in a coma that I’d saved her life twice. At the time, I was working with a binaural beats brain wave audio system which she described as “better than crack”.

        Personally, I found that the discipline of aikido, tumbling on the tatami, learning how to move and how to move others, the whole thing about ma-ai, is really good for depression. I was psychologically, physically and one could say even sexually (via indirect means) by my step-mother from ages 9 to 18. I’ve never hit anyone or taken it out on anyone publicly. That she had to wait for three hours for her food suggests she had limited options or was a masochist.

      2. Yves Smith

        I don’t mean to sound contrary, but that woman did a lot more than just “go off on customer service type workers” as in yell at them. We didn’t see what happened inside, but the fact that the staff physically removed her strongly suggests she did more than just scream, but became physically aggressive, as in got in people’s faces, started to threaten while in close enough proximity to do so that she hit someone, etc. Look at how she grabbed the worker’s bun and virtually had to be kicked to let go.

        And there was zero reason to hang out for a refund. Call the credit card co and dispute the charge. You get an immediate credit while the dispute is being investigated.

        1. BoyDownTheLane

          Yves, you don’t sound contrary at all. I’d have called 911 and mentioned a physically and verbally abusive and unruly customer. Then I’d have told the woman I’d made the call. I’m not aware of legislation in any state that says that people or businesses must accept immature or unbecoming conduct by their patrons; they probably have a duty to prevent harm to the other patrons.

      3. cnchal

        The Red Lobster. The last time in one of those was almost four decades ago. I remember it well.

        Madison, Wisconsin. After a long day of driving and waiting for an hour to be seated, a long line of drooling goobers were joking about the live lobsters in the tank placed in the lobby, being thrown in boiling water and then ending up being eaten. I know that’s how it works, but my disgust and repulsion at the people around me guffawing about some poor animal’s death, I wished the lobster could grab their fucking noses and chew them off.

        I couldn’t stand it and we left. I have never been back.

        What I hate the most about any restaurant is the forced obsequiousness of the staff, and fake niceness ordered up by some corporate drone manager. The fancier and more expensive the place, the worse it is. To me, the restaurant experience is embarrasing, as I am not into “being served”.

        1. Bugs Bunny

          My niece worked there and the niceness was totally unforced. If people were polite and had come to eat, she was kind to them because that’s simply her nature. I hope she stays that way her whole life. Her uncle Bugs became a cynic pretty early on.

  20. Robert Hahl

    “74 former Biden staffers, of whom 62 were women”

    Biden’s staff was about 84% women. That seems odd in itself.

    1. allan

      Thank you for the link. From the end:

      … Indeed, a recent calculation by British epidemiologists casts significant doubt on claims that most COVID-19 victims would have died soon anyway. They found that female victims of the disease lose an average of 11 years of life. For men, the number was 13 years.

      Who are we supposed to believe, some “British epidemiologists”, or American epidemiologist Bill O’Reilly:

      “The [U.S. death] projections that you just mentioned are down to 60,000, I don’t think it will be that high. 13,000 dead now in the USA. Many people who are dying, both here and around the world,
      were on their last legs anyway.” …

  21. Goyo Marquez

    Re: Staffers

    Did they name the senators who were on the list? If not doesn’t that suggest something about their willingness to speak out against powerful creepers?

  22. Anthony K Wikrent

    Bidden can build his own damn small contributor list IF and only IF he very publicly begins to back progressive policies. Put the policies on the Bidden website, and harvest the email addresses. All of Bernie’s supporters are on plenty of other email lists. Use those.

    Why is this so hard for these batterbrain establishmentarians to understand: policies MATTER; we’re not willing to be sold candidates like soap or fast food is marketed.

    1. HotFlash

      Would it put sand in any gears if Biden got a lot of very small donations, say one or two cents? Anyone know what the processing cost is? Then, of course, put his campaign on you Kill list.

  23. Billy

    “State unemployment offices have processed 2.98 million “initial claims” for unemployment insurance in the week ended May 9, according to the US Department of Labor this morning. This brings the total number of initial claims processed over the past 8 reporting weeks since mid-March to a gut-wrenching 36.84 million, that’s almost the size of California.
    “Small” business loans are forgiven if certain spending occurs and employees are retained until June 30th. Larger business loans protect employees. until Sept 30th.
    What happens on July 1st and October first? Massive layoffs. God help us.

  24. ewmayer

    “Kraftwerk And Black America: A Musical Dialogue [The Wire]” — No mention of Herbie Hancock? Seriously?

    1. ambrit

      True, and no mention of Chick Corea. You can’t remember them all.
      I’d also mention the pioneering work with synthesizers and electronic instruments of Pete Townsend and the Who, and all the rock groups who integrated the Mellotron into their soundscape.
      Something on Townsend: https://petetownshend.net/musicals/electronica

  25. The Rev Kev

    “Sanders adviser warns of ‘alarming trends’ that could lead to Biden’s defeat”

    That is not just any Sanders adviser. That is the guy who one Sanders activist labelled as the guy who helped wreck Bernie’s campaign and brought in some of the worse Democrat hacks to help do it. Yet Bernie and his wife stood by him loyally and let campaign activists resign out of protest. If his job was to wreck Sanders campaign and then to deliver his voters to the Democrat campaign, then it sounds like that he is having trouble with the second half of it. All those hacks can’t get actual voters to make the huge leap to support a man diametrically opposed to what Sanders said that he was all about. The chasm is too great and there is too much recognition that Biden will never got to the left at all – ever. And if the Biden and Sanders camps appear to be working well together, it is because Sanders real activists are being weeded out and pushed aside in favour of Democrat hacks.

    1. kimsarah

      Don’t let anyone tell you Bernie was duped. Bernie duped all those who fell for his schtick.

      1. orlbucfan

        Bernie didn’t dupe anyone. Plus, you’re misusing the word “schtick.” Look it up in Webster’s Dictionary.

  26. VietnamVet

    All the words about Joe Biden’s disabilities are true. Worse he promises returning to normal which is impossible. We can’t go back. It is gone. The Western Empire is dead. USA and the UK are failed states on the verge of splintering apart unable to control the pandemic within their borders that will linger on in the population likely for years. They are pariah nations that must be quarantined and isolated by all the nations of the world who have defeated the coronavirus.

    True to his creed, Donald Trump is flushing the last shreds of government down the toilet. The very same national government that is the only way to fight the pandemic. His promise of a vaccine by January 2021 is magical thinking.

    “During April 2020 over 90% of the COVID-19 deaths can be classified as excess deaths. These deaths would normally occur over 11.2 to 13.3 months instead of being concentrated in 1 month.” Coronavirus lowered the life expectancy of those infected by at least a decade. To date over 87,000 Americans have died due to the virus.

    In the fifth month of the pandemic, even with Democrats controlling the House, there is no legislation proposed to combat coronavirus, the only way possible, which is by reestablishing the national public health service and providing free universal testing and treatment, contact tracing, and quarantine of the infected in safe secure facilities. With most American states reopening, the death toll will climb into the hundreds of thousands.

    There is no alternative; just failure, horrible illnesses and lonely deaths.

    1. kareninca

      I am skeptical that there will be loads of nations that defeat the coronavirus, and that therefore keep out Americans. The vast majority of countries will let in plenty of visitors for economic reasons, and they will keep having outbreaks. The tiny countries that continue to manage a quarantine – maybe someplace like NZ with 4 million people (or maybe not; their zillionaire foreign residents will want to come and go) – will be few in number. This notion of America as a uniquely infected, diseased nation that others will stay away from is a very odd thing and not likely to match reality. The whole world is going to continue to have a problem with this virus.

      1. Yves Smith

        Please explain Hong Kong. 7 million people and just airport restrictions, not airport closures. Or Slovenia. Just says they beat coronavirus, surrounded by other countries.

        You are too close to the US and are biased by the dreadful response here.

        1. kareninca

          But 7 million people is a tiny country (or whatever you would call Hong Kong). So is Slovenia – 2 million.

          The ten largest countries by population (leaving out Africa, since the stats from there will be hopeless, and leaving out us) are China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, Bangladesh, Russia and Mexico, the Philippines, Vietnam, Iran, Turkey, Germany and Thailand. I don’t expect any of them but Germany to do enough border control and testing and quarantining to avoid numerous outbreaks.

          I don’t expect countries like France (#21 in population) and Italy (#23) and Spain #28) to do enough testing and tracking, either. Their borders are very porous.

          As you see, I am putting the U.S. into a basket of basket cases, so I completely agree that our response is terrible. I just don’t think that we are going to count as uniquely diseased. We will instead count as uniquely failing given our available resources.

          1. Yves Smith

            China says it has the disease under control. India has had a very low rate of infections. Vietnam is standout low. Thailand is pretty low. Iran is getting the disease under control despite a very bad initial response.

            There’s no factual basis for your conclusion.

            1. kareninca

              Good, I’m glad to be wrong; I would much rather that we were uniquely diseased than that it were a more general problem.

              1. Yves Smith

                “Uniquely diseased” in not having competent responses. There is a New England Journal of Medicine article in Links that just launched that describes our disaster in testing and how that has been a very big factor in not getting in control of the disease.

                For India, the factors may be the BCG vaccine plus how many people live and work mainly outdoors, without air conditioning. Thailand has a lot of air conditioning in the cities, so that’s not an explanatory factor there.

          2. PlutoniumKun

            I think the key aim for most countries now is not the elimination of the virus (this is likely impossible), but to control it – i.e. to be able to isolate clusters and outbreaks as much as possible to allow normal life to go on. I think we’ll increasingly see the opening up of travel between countries of similar ‘control’ characteristics.

            The problem for the US is that even if the outbreak abates somewhat, there seems no possibility of having the type of identity/control system in place that will convince those countries ahead of the curve to allow any level of free travel.

            The US is obviously an important country from the point of view of tourism and business travel – but except perhaps for Canada and Mexico, not ‘vital’ in economic terms. Europe, Asia, and Oz/NZ will not generally see permitting regular flights to and from the US as worth the risk. Business can be mostly done through online contacts, and most of those countries would see regional tourist movements as more important than allowing US tourism.

            So I simply don’t see there being any great incentive for most countries to include the US when it comes to phasing in more travel.

  27. YetAnotherChris

    Tesla defies worker protection orders in Alameda County and the putative authority caves. I’ve seen enough. The unmistakable subtext is that “those people” are expendable. Is it too soon to equate Elon Musk with Apartheid?

  28. Anonymous

    Martial Canterel, a prominent scientist, specializing in the covid, as well as the inventor of hundreds of vaccines for coronavirus…. has invited a group of colleagues to visit the park of his country estate, Auto Terra Filinia XFC (named after a strain of covid-19)

    As the group tours the estate, Canterel shows them inventions of ever-increasing complexity and strangeness.

    An exposition is invariably followed by explanation, the cold hysteria of the former giving way to the innumerable ramifications of the latter. After an aerial pile driver which is constructing a mosaic of teeth (extracted from covid-19 corpses, a hairless cat named Khóng-dek-lèn, and the preserved head of Georges Danton (26 October 1759 – 5 April 1794), first president of the committee of covid-19 public safety

    Danton’s head, after being preserved in formaldehyde for 226 years, tested positive for the covid….

    Next we come to the central and longest passage: a description of eight curious tableaux vivants taking place inside an enormous glass cage. We learn that the actors are actually people who died of the covid whom Canterel has revived with ‘resurrectine’, a fluid of his invention which if injected into a fresh covid corpse causes it to continually act out the most important incident of its life (usually the moment it became infected with the covid)

    Seeing what wonderful reflexes he was getting with Danton’s facial nerves, immobilized in death by covid for more than two centuries, Canterel had hoped to give a complete illusion of life by acting on recent dead covid corpses, guaranteed by a chill cold against the slightest alteration.

    But the necessity of a low temperature prevented using the intense electrifying power of aqua-micans, which, freezing quickly, would have imprisoned each covid corpse, making it impotent to move.

    Sitting for a long time on covid corpses subjected in due time to the desired cold, the master, after much astonishment, ends up composing on the one hand vitalium, on the other hand resurrectin, red matter based on erythritis , which, injected liquid into the skull of such a deceased covid subject, through an opening pierced laterally, solidified itself around the brain on all sides.

    It was then enough to put a point of the inner envelope thus created in contact with vitalium, a brown metal easy to introduce in the form of a short rod into the injection orifice, so that the two new bodies, inactive one without the other, instantly release a powerful electricity, which, penetrating the brain, triumphed over cadaverous covid rigidity and endowed the subject with an impressive factitious life.

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