2:00PM Water Cooler 5/19/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, at Rev Kev’s suggestion, I redid the format of the Google snippet. The genre change makes the snippet much more fun to write. Thoughts? –lambert

#COVID19

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

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

Alert reader Richard played around with the chart and came up with the anomaly above. Looks like a data error to me, but do we have Wisconsin readers who know? (And are there any other Easter eggs like this?

More data work: “Interactive Map of Coronavirus Deaths in NYC by Zip Code” [Untapped New York (NoOneInParticular)]. Maps are interactive:

* * *

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

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

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

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

Politics

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

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

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

* * *

2020

UPDATE Biden (D)(1): “Biden has four great options for a black female running mate. One is his best.” [Jonathan Capehart, WaPo]. They are: Stacey Abrams, Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Susan Rice. So: “At a virtual fundraiser last month, Biden said, “I view myself as a transition candidate.” If elected, he would be the oldest sitting president in U.S. history and would lead a nation in desperate need of stability and leadership from the White House. Therefore, Biden needs to choose a future vice president who is young enough to embody the transition he envisions while also being a governing partner. That person has been staring us in the face for months now. Her name is Kamala Harris.” • So, four years of Trump followed by something unknown vs. four years (assuming) of Biden followed by eight years of Harris.

UPDATE Obama (D)(1): “Obama’s Trump attacks electrify Democrats, anger GOP” [The Hill]. “A few days earlier, on a call to 3,000 members of the Obama Alumni Association, the former president said that the current administration’s response to the global crisis has been ‘an absolute chaotic disaster.’ Democratic strategists say Obama’s public remarks are helpful to Biden and the party because they believe they draw a favorable contrast between his administration and Trump’s White House.” • “The Obama Alumni Association.” Oh. Just remember: Every single one of those 3,000 unchastened PMCs thinks that the West Wing is not only great television, but a model for governance.

Sanders (D)(1):

I wonder if Cuomo will appeal to the Supreme Court….

Trump (R)(1): “‘They don’t give him enough credit’: the voters who back Trump, even through the pandemic” [Guardian]. “Few people understand the terrible cost of the coronavirus like Lee Snover, a Republican party chair in one of the key swing counties that could determine whether Donald Trump is reelected as president in November. Snover, who helped deliver an upset victory for Trump in 2016 in Northampton county, Pennsylvania, lost her father to the virus this spring. Her husband fell critically ill, too, spending 17 days in an intensive care unit before recovering. Her mother, a cancer survivor, was also in intensive care for eight days before emerging. Trump stands accused of driving up the coronavirus death toll by downplaying the public health threat and urging the country to ‘reopen’ too quickly. But Snover does not see the president as having failed her family. ‘I don’t think people give him enough credit,’ she said. ‘If you think about what a businessman he was, and how much he loved that booming economy, do you know how hard it was for him to shut the country down? That was hard. So I give him credit for that.'” • Interesting interviews from Pennsylvania. A party chair, though? Really?

Trump (R)(2): “Are Older Voters Turning Away From Trump?” [Politico]. “In national head-to-head polls conducted since April 1, Trump is barely breaking even with most older Americans — and in some age groups, he’s even trailing Biden by as much as 1.4 points (see 45- to 64-year-olds)…. The most startling shift, though, is among voters age 65 and older. Four years ago, Trump bested Hillary Clinton by 13 points, 55 percent to 42 percent, according to the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, a survey of more than 60,000 voters organized by Harvard University and administered by YouGov. But now Biden narrowly leads Trump 48 percent to 47 percent, based on an average of 48 national polls that included that age group.” • The ice floes concentrate the mind wonderfully.

Trump (R)(3): “Swing-state Republicans warn Trump’s reelection is on shaky ground” [Politico]. “”I think it still boils down to a referendum on the president. They’ll beat up on Biden and they’ll raise some concerns,” said [Scott Walker, the] former two-term Republican governor of Wisconsin, who lost his seat in 2018. But in the end, if people felt good about their health and the state of the economy, Trump will probably carry Wisconsin. If not, Walker said, ‘it’s much more difficult’ for the president. Walker is not alone among swing-state Republicans in his assessment of the president’s political prospects. Interviews with nearly a dozen former governors, members of Congress, and other current and former party leaders revealed widespread apprehension about Trump’s standing six months out from the election. Many fret that Trump’s hopes are now hitched to the pandemic; others point to demographic changes in once-reliably red states and to the challenge of running against a hard-to-define Democratic opponent who appeals to a wide swath of voters.” • I don’t think Biden is all that hard to define; the Republicans have only harely started to do so.

Warren (D)(1): “My Brother’s Death Didn’t Have to Happen” [The Atlantic]. • Some tend to think of political figures as celebrities, and so wish to share their joys (and sorrows) vicariously. My personal view is that Joe Biden milking his son’s death for votes and cash is disgusting and repellent, and that some things are best left private. (Biden also sells that narrative to a lazy and willing press in the same way that McCain, after the Keating Five scandal, reinvented and sold himself as a “maverick.”) So, I find Warren’s apparent imitation of Biden’s ethos a little chilling; it’s more than likely that it’s part of her quest for the Vice Presidency, much as (seemingly) adopting #MedicareForAll was part of her quest of the Presidency. Biden and Warren would now share, after all, a bond. If I am right and she succeeds, I’ll throw up. My hands in admiration, and admit she was better at claiming power than I thought she was, and certainly better than Sanders. (To be fair, Buzzfeed’s David Mack calls her account “heartbreaking and very real.” “Very,” as opposed to, say, partially?

UPDATE Warren (D)(2): “Elizabeth Warren’s Path to Becoming VP Is Easier Than It Looks” [Bloomberg]. “The nightmare scenario some Democrats envision is that a Biden-Warren ticket will prevail in November and Democrats will win enough Senate seats to pull into a 50-50 tie with Republicans—only to have Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker appoint a Republican to fill Warren’s seat and hand control of the Senate back to Mitch McConnell and the GOP. ‘He knows,’ a Democratic senator told CNN of Biden, ‘a Senate majority is too important to risk.’ In reality, however, there’s almost no risk at all to Biden choosing Warren as his vice president—at least not to a hypothetical Democratic Senate majority in 2021. That’s because Massachusetts law offers Democrats multiple paths to deny Baker the chance to name a replacement and disrupt the critical early months of a Biden administration, when Senate control would matter most. Here are three ways they could do it….”

* * *

UPDATE Joey Jawline picks up another endorsement:

Why, it’s almost like the liberal Democrats want to purge the left entirely! Targeting the Squad I can understand, but the venerable Ed Markey?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Perpetual Impeachment: House Democrats Tell The Supreme Court That They Are Preparing For A New Impeachment” [Jonathan Turley]. “On Monday, the House Democrats filed a brief that with the Supreme Court that the House was actively pursuing new articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump including ‘the possible exercise of improper political influence over recent decisions made in the Roger Stone and Michael Flynn prosecutions, both of which were initiated by the special counsel.’ The argument is meant to justify the continued demand for redacted grand-jury material from the now closed Special Counsel investigation into the Russian collusion investigation…. The position of the House seems to be that we are able to claim the ultimate level of deference in such demands simply because we say that we have seeking a possible impeachment. This concern is magnified by the position of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in long refusing an impeachment vote, that she could unilaterally trigger such powers in a simple press conference.” • I can’t even. Focusing the entire Beltway on impeachment worked out real great in January and February — a calendar driven by Pelosi herself — so what could possibly go wrong this time? In an election year… Anyhow, This time we’ve got him! (On Flynn, see material in today’s Links.)

“Dominant religions in the U.S., county by county” [The Big Think]. “A map shows the dominant religion in each of the United States’ counties. Evangelicals dominate the most areas geographically. Catholics are the majority faith in densely populated areas.” Handy map:

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.

GDP: “GDPNow” [Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (Re Silc)]. “The GDPNow model estimate for real GDP growth (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the second quarter of 2020 is -41.9 percent May 19, up from -42.8 percent on May 15. After this morning’s new residential construction report from the U.S. Census Bureau, the nowcast of second-quarter real gross private domestic investment growth increased from -69.4 percent to -66.0 percent.”

Construction: “April 2020 Residential Building Growth Hit By Coronavirus” [Econintersect]. “The effect of the coronavirus pandemic was significant this month. The backward revisions this month were small. It is always difficult to understand the trends as the backward revisions sometimes reverse trends month-to-month. The nature of this industry normally has large variations from month-to-month (mostly due to weather) so the rolling averages are the best way to view this series. In summary, the rolling averages say this sector is slowing with construction completions significantly slowing. We consider this report worse than last month.”

Housing: “March 2020 CoreLogic Single-Family Rent Index: Rental Demand Plummeted In the Pandemic, Prices Could Follow” [Econintersect]. “The Single-Family Rent Index (SFRI), which analyzes single-family rent price changes nationally and among 20 metropolitan areas shows a national rent increase of 3% year over year, unchanged from March 2019. After three consecutive months of acceleration, March marked the first downshift in annual rent price growth. Rising unemployment and shelter-in-place directives left fewer people pursuing new residences. Rental applications fell by 44% in the second half of March as the economy entered a recession and effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) took hold.”

* * *

Retail: “The state of the restaurant industry” [OpenTable]. n=20,000. ” For year-over-year comparisons by day, we compare to the same day of the week from the same week in the previous year. For example, we’d compare Tuesday of week 11 in 2020 to Tuesday of week 11 in 2019. Only states or cities with 50+ restaurants in the sample are included. All such restaurants on the OpenTable network in either period are included.” Handy chart:

The word “carnage” comes to mind….

Shipping: “U.S. airlines add June capacity as passenger bookings inch back” [American Shipper]. “Airlines are beginning to show small signs that they’ve escaped the market’s rock bottom and are attracting more customers as states begin easing coronavirus stay-home orders. The flickers of returning passenger demand are leading them to add back some capacity into their networks. The additional flights also will help shippers that need air transport for their goods….. In a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, [United Airlines] said it expects to increase passenger capacity in July to 25% of its 2019 level, compared to the 10% available in May and June. It will evaluate and cancel flights on a rolling 60-day basis until demand recovers.”

Shipping: “Seaports are starting to reel from the coronavirus-driven upheaval in trade flows. The International Association of Ports and Harbors says in a new report that European ports have been the hardest hit so far…. with ship calls falling by up to 25% at two-thirds of the continent’s gateways” [Wall Street Journal]. “The declining calls are the result of the enormous numbers of sailings that shipping lines have canceled in recent weeks as the earlier supply pullback in China has shifted into a demand downturn among locked-down Western nations. The capacity cuts are slicing into key revenue sources for ports. That raises the potential for aid at some ports that are absorbing the financial impact of the dimming business. Port volumes in the U.S. are sliding, with combined loaded container imports at the neighboring ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach off 8.1% in April.

Shipping: “Bulk Shipping ‘At The Very Bottom’ as Carrier Earnings Plunge” [Bloomberg]. “The Baltic Exchange Capesize Index, a measure of freight rates for bulk cargoes from coal-to-iron ore, has tumbled this year, with a short rebound in April petering out. The Baltic Dry Index, a broader gauge of vessel demand, plunged last week to the lowest since 2016.”

The Bezzle: “Uber Freight has been growing rapidly, including a 57% revenue gain in the first quarter to $199 million. The growth came while revenue at major third-party logistics companies including freight brokers declined 8.5% in the first quarter, according to the Transportation Intermediaries Association” [Wall Street Journal]. “And Uber Freight’s loss of $64 million in the quarter was the kind of result that has competitors questioning whether the business has a realistic path to profits even if its digital capability wins it more freight.”

The Bezzle: “The State of the Self-Driving Car Race 2020” [Bloomberg]. “Meanwhile, the coronavirus has both strengthened the use case for robot drivers and shuttered labs and factories where the technology was being refined. There’s never been a better time for groceries or medicines delivered by an algorithm on wheels, though near-term milestones will likely be delayed, and the economic fallout from the pandemic will undoubtedly force some companies to scrap their autonomous skunkworks.” The fact of a business case doesn’t, in and of itself, solve the technical problems: “Even before social distancing, self-driving engineers were quietly recalibrating expectations and pushing promised timelines back…. Weather has proved tricky, as have so-called edge cases, when someone else on the road—be it a driver, cyclist or electric scooter pilot—does something unexpected, as humans often do. The halting nature of development has delivered a large dose of humility to the world’s whip-smart mobility experts, who are showing an increased willingness to form posses and work together. The treasure hunt for self-driving riches is now dominated by joint ventures. In some cases, a technology company’s effort with an automaker is bankrolled by an institutional investor.” • Weather?! There’s no weather in Silicon Valley!

The Bezzle: “SoftBank Vision Fund Posts $17.7 Billion Loss on WeWork, Uber” [Bloomberg]. • That’s a damn shame.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 51 Neutral (previous close: 47 Neutra;) [CNN]. One week ago: 39 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 19 at 12:51pm.

The Biosphere

“The Soil Talks Back” [Weizmann Institute]. “The narrow strip of soil around the plant’s root teems with millions of microorganisms, making it one of the most complex ecosystems on earth. To determine whether the composition of this “root microbiome” triggers changes within the plant, postdoctoral fellow Dr. Elisa Korenblum and other members of a team headed by Prof. Asaph Aharoni of Weizmann’s Plant and Environmental Sciences Department, created a hydroponic set-up in which they split the roots of tomato seedlings in two. In a series of experiments, the researchers placed one side of the split roots in vials, progressively diluting the soil suspensions several times. Each dilution altered the soil’s microbial composition and reduced the diversity within the microbial community, so that the different suspensions ended up containing root microbiomes with high, medium and low diversity levels. The other side of the roots was submerged in a vial with a clean, soil-free solution. If the soil microbes communicate with the plant, one would expect to detect signs of their messages on both sides of the root system. That was exactly what the scientists found…. ‘Our ultimate goal is to decipher the chemical language – one could call it ‘Plantish’ – used by plants and the soil to interact with one another,’ Korenblum says. ‘Azelaic acid is probably one of the ‘words’ of this language.'” • Must read, not just for soil fans!

Health Care

“It’s So Hard to Know Who’s Dying of COVID-19—and When” [The New Scientist (nvl)]. “Those data look precise but they are anything but. Epidemiologists are fond of saying that all models are wrong but some are useful. The same is true for mortality statistics. Public health officials have long battled with inconsistent and delayed reporting of deaths, even within different regions of the same country. And that long-standing issue now poses a problem for researchers trying to track the pandemic and understand its implications. ‘Every country’s vital registration system is different and no country’s vital registration system is perfect,’ says Mark Hayward, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin who advises the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on mortality statistics. ‘They all have their own built-in quirks and lags.’ The problems start with identifying the cause of death and attributing it—or not—to COVID-19. Countries such as the Netherlands count only those individuals who died in the hospital after testing positive for the virus. Neighboring Belgium includes deaths in the community and everyone who died after showing symptoms of the disease, even if they didn’t undergo a diagnostic PCR test. To be included in a country’s national count, each death must be registered locally and then recorded in a more centralized accounting system. Or systems. Different places do this in their own way too.”

“You Don’t Need Invasive Tech for Successful Contact Tracing. Here’s How It Works.” [Pro Publica]. “I can only imagine how I would feel if I got a call telling me that I had been in close contact with a COVID-19 patient — shocked, a little scared and possibly a bit in denial. But after spending a week talking to contact tracing experts across the country, and taking an online course as well, I think I’d also feel one more thing: empowered. Here’s why.” • I woudn’t feel empowered if testing and treatment were not free, and if I had paid leave. What none of the test-and-trace people seem to be grasping is that alone in the world, the health care system in the United States is organized around making a profit.

MMT

Yikes:

Class Warfare

“The Richest Neighborhoods Emptied Out Most as Coronavirus Hit New York City” [New York Times]. “The phone data shows New Yorkers primarily went to surrounding counties — east into Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk counties, west to Monroe County in Pennsylvania, south to Monmouth County in New Jersey, north to Westchester County, northeast to Fairfield County in Connecticut and farther afield in all directions. Palm Beach County, in South Florida, was among the top locations for displaced New Yorkers.” Handy map:

“The Left in Lockdown” [Jacobin]. “… the usual whirl of meetings that make up activist life….” • A lot to unpack there.

News of the Wired

“The Bioenergetics of Authoritarianism” [Peter Gabel, Tikkun]. “When we fully enter into each other’s presence, when we fully recognize each other in our sacred humanity, we actually experience the energetic flow that connects us. We emit an invisible but palpable radiance linking the poles of our Being as we come into connection and experience one another as here, as here together embraced in each other’s sight. This kind of encounter—occurring sometimes in two-person encounters and ubiquitously in the “rising” period of liberatory social movements as this mutual recognition ricochets into a powerful social force—is inherently egalitarian. No one is experienced as above or underneath anyone else, but rather we all experience each other as fully present together in the same space, on the same solid ground of Being. We form a real and felt “we”, not an imagined “we” “out there” that we imagine we are a part of. ut when we cannot experience the true presence of the other because we have been conditioned to fear the other as a threat to our ontological integrity, when the other’s gaze seems to carry the threat of some fundamental humiliation of our being that must be guarded against, we pool up our longing for authentic human connection behind a series of roles and performances that leave us starved for true community.” • Woo woo? Or something here?

Zeitgeist Watch:

I get a lot of pleasure from Twitter art bots.

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

Alice & Erling write, from coastal SE North Carolina: “Lovely green Mayapples towering over purple Ajuga. Interesting to note that Mayapple roots were used as a cathartic by Native Americans.” What a glorious tapestry!

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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.

155 comments

  1. Trent

    “The Bezzle: “SoftBank Vision Fund Posts $17.7 Billion Loss on WeWork, Uber” [Bloomberg]. • That’s a damn shame.”

    How much do you think SoftBank borrows at? Somebody had an article recently i read where a pizza shop didn’t know grubhub was selling their pizzas. They found out that grubhub was selling the pizzas cheaper then they were at the shop. Who cares how much you lose when you can borrow at such low rates and hope to have a monopoly in the future to charge whatever you want? And most of your overhead was in app development.

    Reply
    1. cnchal

      A link was referenced by Oguk on yesterday’s links.

      It is https://themargins.substack.com/p/doordash-and-pizza-arbitrage

      Tech is a wasteland with a gigantic sleaze factor ladled on top. Is this what internet engineers do when working from home?

      In March 2019 a good friend who owns a few pizza restaurants messaged me (this friend has made appearances in prior Margins’ pieces). For over a decade, he resisted adding delivery as an option for his restaurants. He felt it would detract from focusing on the dine-in experience and result in trying to compete with Domino’s.

      But he had suddenly started getting customers calling in with complaints about their deliveries.

      Customers called in saying their pizza was delivered cold. Or the wrong pizza was delivered and they wanted a new pizza.

      Again, none of his restaurants delivered.

      He realized that a delivery option had mysteriously appeared on their company’s Google Listing. The delivery option was created by Doordash.

      To confirm, he had never spoken with anyone from Doordash and after years of resisting the siren song of delivery revenue, certainly did not want to be listed. But the words “Order Delivery” were right there, prominently on the Google snippet.
      – – – – – – – – – – –
      Doordash was causing him real problems. The most common was, Doordash delivery drivers didn’t have the proper bags for pizza so it inevitably would arrive cold. It led to his employees wasting time responding to complaints and even some bad Yelp reviews.

      But he brought up another problem – the prices were off. He was frustrated that customers were seeing incorrectly low prices. A pizza that he charged $24 for was listed as $16 by Doordash.

      My first thought: I wondered if Doordash is artificially lowering prices for customer acquisition purposes.

      My second thought: I knew Doordash scraped restaurant websites. After we discussed it more, it was clear that the way his menu was set up on his website, Doordash had mistakenly taken the price for a plain cheese pizza and applied it to a ‘specialty’ pizza with a bunch of toppings.

      My third thought: Cue the Wall Street trader in me…..ARBITRAGE!!!!

      If someone could pay Doordash $16 a pizza, and Doordash would pay his restaurant $24 a pizza, then he should clearly just order pizzas himself via Doordash, all day long. You’d net a clean $8 profit per pizza [insert nerdy economics joke about there is such a thing as a free lunch].

      He thought this was a stupid idea. “A business as successful a Doordash and worth billions of dollars would clearly not just give away money like this.” But I pushed back that, given their recent obscene fundraise, they would weirdly enough be happy to lose that money. Some regional director would be able to show top-line revenue growth while some accounting line-item, somewhere, would not match up, but the company was already losing hundreds of millions of dollars. I imagined their systems might even be built to discourage catching these mistakes because it would detract, or at a minimum distract, from top-line revenue.

      So we put in the first order for 10 pizzas.

      It is instructive for delving into the details of what’s really happening and the sleazy interaction and outright criminality that the web is turning into. Yelp is in cahoots with Grubhub to highjack restaurant phone numbers

      Tricking businesses onto your platform and creating additional headaches for small business owners in the pursuit of Softbankian growth is a bad as it gets. Many restauranteurs were complaining about their Google listings being “hijacked” by Doordash, sometimes even usurping their own preferred delivery.

      These underhanded tricks aren’t unique to Doordash though. In recent weeks there has been some great work coming out around a Yelp – Grubhub phone scam. This one is just priceless (seriously, read this Buzzfeed piece). Grubhub for their own sites generates a phone number for each restaurant that goes to a centralized, Grubhub owned call center. If someone calls in and orders via this number, the restaurant gets charged a fee. Apparently, some enterprising BD folks came up with the idea that Yelp could put the Grubhub phone numbers in place of the real restaurant phone number on the Yelp listing. Customers who think they’re “helping” their local restaurants by calling in the order are still creating a fee for Grubhub.

      Which brings us to the question – what is the point of all this? These platforms are all losing money. Just think of all the meetings and lines of code and phone calls to make all of these nefarious things happen which just continue to bleed money. Why go through all this trouble?
      – – – – – – –
      How did we get to a place where billions of dollars are exchanged in millions of business transactions but there are no winners? My co-host Can and my restaurant friend both defaulted to the notion “delivery is a shitty margin business” when discussing this post. But I don’t think that’s sufficient here. Delivery can work. Just look at a Domino’s stock chart. But, delivery has been carefully built as part of a holistic business model and infrastructure. Maybe that’s the viable model.
      – – – – – – – –
      You have insanely large pools of capital creating an incredibly inefficient money-losing business model. It’s used to subsidize an untenable customer expectation. You leverage a broken workforce to minimize your genuine labor expenses. The companies unload their capital cannons on customer acquisition, while this week’s Uber-Grubhub news reminds us, the only viable endgame is a promise of monopoly concentration and increased prices. But is that even viable?

      Of course it’s viable, otherwise they wouldn’t do it, Right? In the mean times, watch out for the Doordash and Grubhub driver and get the hell out of their way, so you don’t get run you over.

      The comments are priceless too. This is one by a “Google Search” team worker. Note the fatuous capitalization of the s in search

      Danny SullivanMay 18

      I work on the Google Search team. We understand the concern about unauthorized order links. That’s why we remove any order links from Google business profiles if a business reports there’s no authorized relationship. They can do that following the instructions in our help page about order links here: https://support.google.com/business/answer/9503613

      Danny get’s roasted. Google should be roasted too. It’s more criminal enterprise than search engine.

      Reply
  2. fresno dan

    Trump (R)(1): “‘They don’t give him enough credit’: the voters who back Trump, even through the pandemic” [Guardian].

    I’m sure there are just as many Obamabots who pay no attention to objective reality. I used to think people believed what they want to believe, but now I believe they believe what they NEED to believe…
    Reality is quite cruel a good deal of the time for many people.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      but now I believe they believe what they NEED to believe…

      I like this, but I Think there is an element of moral absolution to this. I remember a self described “as antigun as you can get democrat” gave me a look like I just kicked his dog after asking him if he ever called Mark (A- NRA rating through 2012) Warner’s office about his pro-gun stance. I suspect the person knows he is an ignoramus but takes comfort in having a minimal understanding of evolution, though I suspect he probably would mumble a few words about Darwin and describe Lamarckian evolution if asked.

      Reply
      1. Ranger Rick

        I occasionally deploy that whenever people bring up the “they are voting against their own interests” idea. Is it even possible to vote against your own interests if you have no contact whatsoever with your representative? Or is any vote a vote against your own interests if you don’t tell your representative what your interests are?

        Reply
        1. polecat

          Notice how congressional ‘town hall’ events (Always in the plebs interests, of course .. winkwink!) are now scripted .. with absolutely NO spontaneity by the lowly mokes allowed ? Questions & questioners selected for their supine soft balls, full-on adulation to the one who knows ‘better’ …

          Funny, that …

          Reply
        2. chuck roast

          I have informed my Senators and my Representative about my interests on many occasions. In return they reward me with platitudinous pdf’s written on their superior stationary.

          I have recently taken to telling them that should all do a solemn gathering on the statehouse steps and perform ritual suicide as atonement for their epic individual an collective failure. Apparently, they have yet to consider my recommendation. However, the platitudes have come to screeching halt.

          Reply
  3. Allentown

    Small businesses are getting absolutely crushed. My brother laid off 27 of his 30 employees, and can only hang on for another month or two. He applied for one of the SBA loans, not sure if he got it or not, but it’s really not going to be a help. His biggest expense right now is rent which is like $20k/mo (NYC area) and he’ll be broke in a few months.

    These small business owners tend to be upper-middle class with six figure incomes but they can’t afford six months of shutdown. That is why you’re seeing so many of them opening against orders.

    Also, the small businesses are where low skilled workers can get jobs on the spot and many times can take home cash in their pocket at the end of the day. I put myself through college delivering pizza and always picked up jobs with a one minute interview (do you have a car? do you have a license? can you start tomorrow?). These shutdowns are crushing not only the small business owners but also the workers.

    If Dems keep insisting on broad shutdowns because “science” I think they’re going to be in for a nasty shock come November. Notice how Trump is loudly and obnoxiously on the reopen bandwagon.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If Dems keep insisting on broad shutdowns because “science” I think they’re going to be in for a nasty shock come November. Notice how Trump is loudly and obnoxiously on the reopen bandwagon.

      I would correct to “broad shutdowns without relief.” The problem is that the political class simply will not accept — and perhaps our systems cannot deliver — universal benefits to anybody (except, of course, for the 1%). So if PPP money, say, has reached 66% of the intended recipients, that may be enough to help “the economy,” but the 34% who didn’t get relief are going to be very unhappy, feel they have been treated unfairly, and they will be right.

      Reply
      1. anon7

        Seems like a Citizen’s Dividend would come in handy now – instead of fiat creation, including loans, for private interests.

        Funny how the MMT gang doesn’t endorse this…

        Reply
      2. dcblogger

        this is why we need a general strike. electoral politics is totally rigged, so we need a show of force lobbyists and spin cannot get past. people are not ready yet, but we are getting close. we just strike until they pass Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and student and medical debt forgiveness.

        Reply
        1. trhys

          “…we need a general strike.”

          So how could such a thing be organized? That comment probably puts you on the FBI and CIA watch list. Don’t forget, according to Bill Binney, all our electronic output going back who knows how far has been archived and only awaits a query.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Moderne etiquette is that one must communicate with the anticipation of being surveilled.
            I am of the opinion that everyone who comments here is on a ‘special’ list in the Panopticon data base. The interests of public order requires the suppression of independent thinking.

            Reply
            1. Person

              I would go further and suggest that any regular reader of NC is likely already on a “list” of some type due to browsing and search habits elsewhere. Operating under this assumption makes life much easier. You don’t have to worry about being watched, because you already are watched.

              Reply
              1. Person

                (In other words, if you’re here, don’t be shy about commenting! Anyone watching closely already knows who you are.)

                Reply
                1. Amfortas the hippie

                  i’m pretty certain that if there are such lists, i am on them.
                  “they” know who i am, and what i believe…that’s always been my default assumption.
                  I’ve spoken truth into power’s face since i obtained my first intertube machine, circa 1999.
                  i’ve never held back.
                  and i’ve always said…” all that sneaking about is unnecessary!…if you want to know what i think about any of it, I’ll be happy to tell you.”
                  and damn the torpedoes.
                  “comeandgetmekoppah!”

                  all the recipes for rich people aside, I’d rather avoid the violence and burning times, and just get straight to the post-hypercapitalist era, if y’all don’t mind.
                  it’s really out of my hands.
                  it’s in the hands of the greedy batids the watchers work for.
                  They made the choices that led us here, and it’s really up to them how shitty the future looks.
                  my consent has been withdrawn, since it was never earned.

                  Reply
                  1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                    At the tender age of 13, inspired by my art teacher who was a socialist, I subscribed by mail to the Socialist Worker’s Party. At the same time I was pursuing my hobby, amateur pyrotechnics, so was ordering things like Potassium Nitrate and waterproof fuse. Nixon was president, and some apparatchik made the connection so started opening my mail. I would receive envelopes carefully slit along one edge and then taped shut.

                    So I decided to write a letter to my mail reader. Basically told him I was 13, that he should be ashamed of himself, and that the United States Constitution forbid what he was doing. The mail opening stopped. But I have no doubt that there is a file somewhere with my name on it. Hi Leroy, how ya doin?

                    Reply
                  2. ambrit

                    Yes, and you’ve got a good lever action to defy the “Thought Police Action Squads” when they turn up to ‘remonstrate’ with you. (I’m in a similar situation. I’m too old now to really care about afterwards.)
                    I have done some thinking about this aspect of the Jackpot and am convinced that the “Persuaders” to be sent out to ‘cull the pinks,’ will be privatized. That way, the regular Organs of State Security can claim all innocence about the ‘tragedies’ that happen. “Shot while trying to escape.”
                    I know it’s in poor psychological taste, but I cannot but think of the ending to the film version of “The Sun Also Rises.”

                    Reply
            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              >The interests of public order requires the suppression of independent thinking.

              That is mostly done via the press, as we are all too clearly seeing; we’re moving from manufacturing consent to outright manufacturing reality. (Yes, I know, WMDs, “Remember the Maine,” etc., but those were episodes. Now its chronic.)

              Reply
        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > this is why we need a general strike.

          Workers at key nodes in the supply chain can bring the system to a halt. Just like the virus.

          Of course they have to be unified….

          Reply
      3. GramSci

        Yes. Our system(s) designed to starve sanction one-half the working class so theh resent the other half.

        Reply
    2. Keith

      I think will will have another shutdown wave this fall, with it magically disappearing after the election, regardless of who wins. This virus has been politicized beyond belief, so you really do not know the the reality is. I guess the only important thing is where the moderates will fall into the pandemic/economic destruction and who they blame for it.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        I do not think so. People will definitely try to manipulate perception, but reality does have a say in this.

        There will be another surge of COVID-19 due to the easing of the quarantine, which also makes the emergence of an even more lethal strain of the virus likely although not certain, and Congress’ increasingly suicidal attempts to manipulate the various “stimulus” bills to enrich their own class and the elites’ means the continued collapse of the economy; any misinformed people will have a harder time defending the idea that the virus is just a bad flu and that the quarantine is unnecessary.

        The continuing collapse of the economy, increasing sickness and death, a small, but real chance of mass graves, as well as growning anger and panic when reality starts beating us about the head is going to make the rest of this year very interesting. Very interesting.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          The “feeling of doom” attested to by Lambert and various Monday, which I shared, is a leading indicator. The subconscious minds of the more enlightened cohorts of the public are processing the data and not liking what they come up with as a result. To go Jungian about it, the Collective Unconscious must be doing something similar and trying to warn us to prepare.
          These are still early days in the ‘Time of the Plague.’

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > To go Jungian about it, the Collective Unconscious must be doing something similar and trying to warn us to prepare.

            Out of curiosity, is anyone having changes in their dreaming behavior? I have never remembered mine, but now I find that I am. No nightmares, but curious.

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              I haven’t given it much attention, but when I can sleep my dreams are more real, and I remember having them more often; the remembered details, however, tend to be like a faded picture or a deep haze. Better remembered having them, but what the heck they are not so much

              Reply
            2. ambrit

              We both are remembering more of our dreams. I have always been a vivid dreamer, but lately I am ‘remembering’ significantly more ‘structured’ dreams.
              Phyl, who will forgive me, I hope, regaled me with a dream recently where she was engaged in a spirited argument with people from her past over the morality involved in the contest of greed versus sharing.
              I woke up ‘this morning,’ our time schedules being wholly mixed up these days, morning often being after noon, remembering a dream where I was arguing with the City Council over the Cities banning of the keeping of chickens in one’s back yard. (Lot’s to unpack there!)
              Do start a ‘Dream Book.’ Keep it by the bed. Write down anything you remember about your dream just as you wake up. This was suggested to me by a therapist I saw for a while ten or more years ago. Excellent for studying one’s own character and personality.

              Reply
        2. clarky90

          Full text of POTUS’s letter to WHO

          https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/the-only-way-forward-for-the-who-is-full-text-of-trump-s-letter-to-who-chief-tedros-adhanom-ghebreyesus/story-MCee8MiYg9NYh7gPcYMGRO.html

          “Dear Dr. Tedros:

          On April 14, 2020, I suspended United States contributions to the World Health Organization……………… we now know the following:

          •The World Health Organization consistently ignored credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier, including reports from the Lancet medical journal. The World Health Organization failed to independently investigate credible reports that conflicted directly with the Chinese government’s official accounts, even those that came from sources within Wuhan itself.

          • By no later than December 30, 2019, the World Health Organization office in Beijing knew that there was a “major public health” concern in Wuhan. Between December 26 and December 30, China’s media highlighted evidence of a new virus emerging from Wuhan, based on patient data sent to multiple Chinese genomics companies. Additionally, during this period, Dr. Zhang Jixian, a doctor from Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, told China’s health authorities that a new coronavirus was causing a novel disease that was, at the time, afflicting approximately 180 patients.

          • By the next day, Taiwanese authorities had communicated information to the World Health Organization indicating human-to-human transmission of a new virus. Yet the World Health Organization chose not to share any of this critical information with the rest of the world, probably for political reasons.

          • The International Health Regulations require countries to report the risk of a health emergency within 24 hours. But China did not inform the World Health Organization of Wuhan’s several cases of pneumonia, of unknown origin, until December 31, 2019, even though it likely had knowledge of these cases days or weeks earlier.

          • According to Dr. Zhang Yongzhen of the Shanghai Public Health Clinic Center, he told Chinese authorities on January 5, 2020, that he had sequenced the genome of the virus. There was no publication of this information until six days later, on January 11, 2020, when Dr. Zhang self-posted it online. The next day, Chinese authorities closed his lab for “rectification.” As even the World Health Organization acknowledged, Dr. Zhang’s posting was a great act of “transparency.” But the World Health Organization has been conspicuously silent both with respect to the closure of Dr. Zhang’s lab and his assertion that he had notified Chinese authorities of his breakthrough six days earlier.

          • The World Health Organization has repeatedly made claims about the coronavirus that were either grossly inaccurate or misleading.

          – On January 14, 2020, the World Health Organization gratuitously reaffirmed China’s now-debunked claim that the coronavirus could not be transmitted between humans, stating: “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) identified in Wuhan, China.” This assertion was in direct conflict with censored reports from Wuhan.

          – On January 21, 2020, President Xi Jinping of China reportedly pressured you not to declare the coronavirus outbreak an emergency. You gave in to this pressure the next day and told the world that the coronavirus did not pose a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Just over one week later, on January 30, 2020, overwhelming evidence to the contrary forced you to reverse course.

          – On January 28, 2020, after meeting with President Xi in Beijing, you praised the Chinese government for its “transparency” with respect to the coronavirus, announcing that China had set a “new standard for outbreak control” and “bought the world time.” You did not mention that China had, by then, silenced or punished several doctors for speaking out about the virus and restricted Chinese institutions from publishing information about it.

          • Even after you belatedly declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020, you failed to press China for the timely admittance of a World Health Organization team of international medical experts. As a result, this critical team did not arrive in China until two weeks later, on February 16, 2020. And even then, the team was not allowed to visit Wuhan until the final days of their visit. Remarkably, the World Health Organization was silent when China denied the two American members of the team access to Wuhan entirely.

          • You also strongly praised China’s strict domestic travel restrictions, but were inexplicably against my closing of the United States border, or the ban, with respect to people coming from China. I put the ban in place regardless of your wishes. Your political gamesmanship on this issue was deadly, as other governments, relying on your comments, delayed imposing life-saving restrictions on travel to and from China. Incredibly, on February 3, 2020, you reinforced your position, opining that because China was doing such a great job protecting the world from the virus, travel restrictions were “causing more harm than good.” Yet by then the world knew that, before locking down Wuhan, Chinese authorities had allowed more than five million people to leave the city and that many of these people were bound for international destinations all over the world.

          • As of February 3, 2020, China was strongly pressuring countries to lift or forestall travel restrictions. This pressure campaign was bolstered by your incorrect statements on that day telling the world that the spread of the virus outside of China was “minimal and slow” and that “the chances of getting this going to anywhere outside China [were] very low.”

          • On March 3, 2020, the World Health Organization cited official Chinese data to downplay the very serious risk of asymptomatic spread, telling the world that “COVID-19 does not transmit as efficiently as influenza” and that unlike influenza this disease was not primarily driven by “people who are infected but not yet sick.” China’s evidence, the World Health Organization told the world, “showed that only one percent of reported cases do not have symptoms, and most of those cases develop symptoms within two days.” Many experts, however, citing data from Japan, South Korea, and elsewhere, vigorously questioned these assertions. It is now clear that China’s assertions, repeated to the world by the World Health Organization, were wildly inaccurate.

          • By the time you finally declared the virus a pandemic on March 11, 2020, it had killed more than 4,000 people and infected more than 100,000 people in at least 114 countries around the world.

          • On April 11, 2020, several African Ambassadors wrote to the Chinese Foreign Ministry about the discriminatory treatment of Africans related to the pandemic in Guangzhou and other cities in China. You were aware that Chinese authorities were carrying out a campaign of forced quarantines, evictions, and refusal of services against the nationals of these countries. You have not commented on China’s racially discriminatory actions. You have, however, baselessly labeled as racist Taiwan’s well-founded complaints about your mishandling of this pandemic……………..

          ……………..”

          Reply
      2. Darius

        You can filter the signal from the noise. That is what this site is all about. “Who knows?” is a cop-out. It’s pretty apparent who is politicizing this. You can ignore these people or take them with a grain of salt.

        Austria is opening up. They are down to a handful of new cases per day. It’s pretty much over. Austrians are required to wear masks in public and social distance. Same in every country that is crushing this. If we wanted this to end, we would drop the drama and get on with what we have to do to end it. The way we’re doing it, the virus is going to keep surging. I have to think it’s because the rulers think they can exploit the crisis to consolidate their control over the economy and the political system. Austria Has 90% Drop in Coronavirus Cases After Requiring People to Wear Face Masks

        It’s worth considering that the 1918 flu peaked in October.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > If we wanted this to end, we would drop the drama and get on with what we have to do to end it.

          I think there are two problems:

          1) Forty years of neglect have rendered our State, at every level of the Federal government, weak and dysfunctional. This is not universal, but the dysfunction is large enough to make “crushing” the virus difficult.

          2) Crushing the virus takes time. The working class needs to be provisioned during that period, and the political class is vehemently against universal concrete material benefits of any kind.

          Reply
      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > so you really do not know the the reality is.

        You know enough, from the hospital beds and the obituaries.

        (Incidentally, there’s a story for someone who wants to aggregate the numbers for obituaries in small town newspapers this year vs. last. I know there have been so many losses but some still exist. Funerals would be another proxy, since they must be announced.)

        Reply
    3. km

      Spoke with an older female business attorney in SoCal. This was when the COVID first really started to hit. She told me that at least 50% of her clients (small and medium sized firms) were either bankrupt or were going to go out of business.

      Reply
      1. Keith

        Well, if you want a catalyst for change, the collapsing economy is ideal, as this will make people more open to different ideas, be it through rational thought or sheer desperation. Like JBird said above, it should make the rest of this year very interesting. Might want to go long popcorn.

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > at least 50% of her clients (small and medium sized firms) were either bankrupt or were going to go out of business.

        That will be clarifying, when it’s literally nothing but Amazon and desperate proles.

        Reply
    4. c_heale

      If the USA had the virus under control, there would be no need for a shutdown. There were shutdowns at the time of the Black Death and there was nothing we would classify as “science” then.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        Pedantic one here. The initial developments of the modern scientific method happened about a century before the Black Death arrived. It wasn’t much, but it was there. Also they were starting from the very bottom. It took time for the ideas to spread and be used. People weren’t stupid or even that ignorant. The levels of knowledge and skills that used to exist in the Classical World (which had had methods akin to the scientific method) had to be reacquired. The ability to note the flaming obvious about distance, physical contact, and the spread of disease was something that they could do. It’s not the ability, but the desire to see or not things as they are, and too many people find it inconvenient to see.

        Reply
  4. allan

    Warren: “If I am right and she succeeds, I’ll throw up. My hands in admiration, and admit …”

    Sly humor or Freudian slip?

    Reply
  5. fresno dan

    “The Soil Talks Back” [Weizmann Institute].

    I used to garden when I was a child, and I tell you there nearly aren’t as many bugs above ground, and worms below, as there used to be. There used to be a zillion ants in Fresno, and I can’t remember the last time I saw one. There used to be a million pill bugs – I have not seen one in CA since I retired and moved back from Maryland.
    Of course, its the little things that support the bigger things.

    Reply
    1. polecat

      Maybe the bugs saw the light, (no, not That One!) picked up stickinsects, and made pheromone tracks northward .. cuz we apparently have both in great quantity. No European snails though .. and so far, none of those ubiquitous & pesky Argentine Ants, thank Gaia!

      Reply
    2. ambrit

      Same here with the flying insects. We used to see literal swarms of ‘love-bugs’ get swatted by moving vehicles. That’s a seldom seen sight now. This is too eerily like Rachel Carson’s book; “Silent Spring.”

      Reply
    3. Darius

      I haven’t seen a pillbug in the DC area in years, now that you mention it. They used to be all over the place.

      Reply
    4. eg

      No shortage of pill bugs here at the western tip of Lake Ontario — though lots and lots of them end up at the bottom of my pool …

      Reply
  6. Ranger Rick

    It’s important to note that a lot of that SoftBank cash was from the Saudi Sovereign Fund (they have $90 billion in hot Arab money). How’s that diversification away from oil working out for them?

    Reply
  7. Lambert Strether Post author

    I couldn’t quite finish the festival of Biden in time, so please refresh your browsers. Also, please see the remark on the Google snippet up top. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. km

      To paraphrase Caity Johnstone,watching Team D stalwarts feign enthusiasm for Biden is like watching a closeted married gay man feign a sexual enthusiasm for his wife.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        Worse, actually. Whatever their sexual orientation is, most people at least like their spouse or possible beard. Even any personal liking of Joe Biden seems oddly plastic, forget about any political enthusiasm.

        It could easily be my own animus towards Biden that is shading what I am seeing or remembering. Due to the increasingly obvious cultivation of incompetence to support their personal greed, regardless of the suffering inflicted on most Americans and many others as well, I am losing my ability to maintain perspective. That is a bit frightening. However, looking back on his history, it still seems so contrived now. It’s like a clownish and faint version of Uncle Joe Stalin’s cult of personality.

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Sometimes people getting a gigantic middle finger thrust in their face do not recognize the meaning of the gesture. That’s the message from the DNC and the Biden toadies to voters. “Here, watch this, we’re gonna put up a dementia patient whose policies set the table for everything from our Covid health care response to financial precarity and middle class destruction to Trumpism. Whatcha gonna do about it?”

          But Orange Obama has it right: the real opposition party is the lamestream media.

          Reply
          1. Oregoncharles

            It’s still the Republicans’ turns (they take turns, two full terms at a time), so the Dems are arranging to lose. It’s a challenge, given Trump, but I think they’re going to rise to the occasion. If “rise” is the right word.

            Reply
    2. ChrisPacific

      I like it, but I think the all caps convention hasn’t aged well. Other than that, it’s a bit of whimsy and makes the job more entertaining for you, which are both good things.

      Reply
  8. Judith

    The description of “deep connection” in the Tikkun article reminds me of what Quakers call a “gathered meeting,” which can occur during meeting for worship. As a sometimes quaker fellow-traveler, it is not something I have ever experienced, but i have heard it is quite powerful.

    https://www.quakercloud.org/cloud/carlisle-friends-meeting/resources/gathered-meeting

    “In the practice of group worship on the basis of silence come special times when the electric hush and solemnity and depth of power steals over the worshipers. A blanket of divine covering comes over the room, a stillness that can be felt is over all, and the worshipers are gathered into a unity and synthesis of life which is amazing indeed. A quickening Presence pervades us, breaking down some part of the special privacy and isolation of our individual lives and blending our spirits within a super individual Life and Power. An objective, dynamic Presence enfolds us all, nourishes our souls, speaks glad, unutterable comfort within us, and quickens us in depths that had before been slumbering. The Burning Bush has been kindled in our midst, and we stand together on holy ground.”

    Reply
    1. clarky90

      Re; “Woo woo? Or something here?”

      In the decades before the destruction of the Second Temple (70 AD) there were many Hebrew Sects; The Pharisees (today known as Rabbinic Judaism), The Sadducee, the Zealots, The Nazarenes (Jews who accepted Yashua (Jesus) as the Messiah, prophesied in the Old Testament), today known as Christians, the Essenes, the Sicarri (terrorists) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicarii ……

      When the Romans tore down The Second Temple in 70 AD, Old School Judaism ended. The Genealogies were destroyed (stored in the Temple, so, no more Priesthood (the Sadducee)). No Temple Alter for the blood sacrifice of animals, to atone for sins……. What to do if one was not a Nazarene? (who believed that Yashua had personally become The Blood Sacrifice, and was the Messiah. The New Testament begins where the Old Testament ends…..)

      So the Rabbis (Pharisees) had revelations, and wrote them down (previously, the Oral Law) The Talmud “….has two components; the Mishnah (200 AD), a written compendium of Rabbinic Judaism’s Oral Torah; and the Gemara (500 AD)”. This became the basis of a New form of Judaism (actually, a brand new religion, first formed about 200 years after the death of Jesus) which dominates to this day, apart from a small group of Karaites, who accept as “Law”, only what is written in The Old Testament.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karaite_Judaism

      Tikkun Olam;

      “Lurianic Kabbalah is a school of kabbalah named after the Jewish rabbi who developed it, Isaac Luria (1534–1572 AD). Lurianic Kabbalah gave a seminal new account of Kabbalistic thought that its followers synthesised with, and read into, the earlier Kabbalah of the Zohar that had disseminated in Medieval circles.

      Lurianic Kabbalah describes new doctrines of the origins of Creation, and the concepts of Olam HaTohu (“The World of Tohu-Chaos”) and Olam HaTikun (“The World of Tikun-Rectification”), which represent two archetypal spiritual states of being and consciousness. These concepts derive from Isaac Luria’s interpretation of and mythical speculations on references in the Zohar…..”

      IMO, this is akin to Mormonism vs Christianity. If one believes (as do the Karaites) that the Old Testament is the Word of God, that can not be added to, or subtracted from…..then..

      Modern Rabbinic Judaism (Talmud, Kabbalah….) is not Judaism as we would think of it, but rather, a new iteration, sect that still, inexplicably claims to have been Chosen by God 3000 years ago.

      You can never have things both ways…….One can not believe in an ancient, inviolate religion (Torah, The Law), and simultaneously believe in Medieval, Woo Woo New Age ……clap trap, that reinvents (innovates) everything….

      Reply
      1. occasional anonymous

        The ‘ancient, inviolate religion’ was itself new clap trap at some point. The human capacity for self-delusion is endless.

        You mentioned Mormonism, and that’s a great example, because we know, objectively and beyond any shadow of a doubt, that Joseph Smith was a complete fraud who simply made everything up.

        It looks like that’s what Luria did as well (though he may have also convinced himself that what he was making up was real. Again, self-delusion). How many other bits of ‘divine truth’ throughout history were also simply made up? How could we even tell?

        Reply
        1. kareninca

          Um, how do we know that Joseph Smith “objectively and beyond any shadow of a doubt” made everything up? He claimed that he had visions of God. How do you know that he made them up? If you just assuming that any sort of faith is delusory, I don’t know why you would bother to single out Mormonism, other than that it seems to be a form of religious bigotry that is more commonly accepted than some others.

          Reply
          1. occasional anonymous

            I love this topic. First, he already had a legal record of committing fraud, so that’s a big strike against him right there.

            But getting into specifics, we know for a fact that he didn’t translate anything (with a magic rock or otherwise), because his Book of Mormon contains verbatim sections he copy-pasted from the King James Version of the Bible, and we know he did this because several of these sections contain the same mistranslations and typos as whatever KJV he had at hand.

            Also on the subject of ‘translations’, Smith famously ‘translated’ some ancient Egyptian papyri, claiming there were written in ‘Reformed Egyptian’ and were part of the ‘Book of Abraham’. They weren’t. See, unfortunately for Smith, actual scholars put in the effort to actually decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics. When the original papyri were examined, they turned out to be mundane bits of Egyptian funerary texts. Smith lied, full stop.

            And looking more broadly, the entire ‘Ancient Hebrews fled to North America, and then later Jesus appeared there to preach to the natives’ narrative in the Book of Mormon is 100% gibberish. It’s completely contradicted by literally all historical and archeological evidence. There’s actually such a thing as Mormon archaeology; they never even attempt to submit their ‘findings’ to legitimate secular peer review.

            My point is that Smith had the misfortune of running his scam in an era when his lies could be easily caught, so the fact that he was a liar is very apparent. Going further back in time, other ‘prophets’ had much more leeway to run their scams.

            Reply
    2. clarky90

      In my youth, I sometimes attended the Friends Meeting (Quaker) in Pittsburgh, Pa. “The still, small voice…” that we waited silently for, in meeting………. was an Old Testament reverence to….

      “….And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

      https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+19%3A11-13&version=NKJV

      The Holy Spirit……..

      Reply
  9. Big River Bandido

    I cheer at all the procedural losses being racked up by Gov. Legacy and the New York Democrat Party in their attempt to rig their sham primary against Sanders, if for no other reason than they are scum. In the end, though, I wonder to what purpose it all is. I was a strong supporter of Sanders, twice, but I can barely see the point in voting for him in a meaningless primary after he’s endorsed Biden. At this moment the only faithful response I can feel is to boycott this entire election.

    Commentariat, what think ye? Is there any good reason for me to bother to vote for Sanders in the New York primary, if it still happens?

    Reply
    1. John k

      IMO there is a chance the dems will want, or need, to replace Biden. If this happens they will try to deny sanders… the more delegates he has, the harder it will be.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the more delegates he has, the harder it will be.

        The more Sanders delegates the better, I think, if only as potential sand in the gears. Also, a number of the Sanders people at the 2016 convention drew conclusions from it, and learned some facts about the Democrat Establishment up close and personal.

        Reply
    2. ambrit

      At this point, a Sanders vote in a primary will be a definite middle finger to the Democrat Establishment. something like; “See what you could have had if you had only listened to us?”
      What will be ‘clarifying’ to the Democrat Politicos will be those districts where the “Third Party” vote is equal to or bigger than the margin of loss to the Republican Party.
      We have to show the Democrat Establishment that they will pay a price for abandoning their original core constituency.
      I am seriously waiting for someone to float an “America First” party.

      Reply
      1. ChrisPacific

        I see it as a vote for the concept of the primary and elections in general as “symbolic expression of my views” rather than “ZOMG Trump!!!!111” as they currently are.

        Both parties go to a great deal of trouble to keep third rail issues (healthcare, corruption, endless war in the ME) off the ballot completely. On the occasion that one slips through the cracks I think it’s important to support it with your vote. I do think it’s unfortunate that so many of the candidates have bowed to pressure, but for me expressing my displeasure at them for doing so would take a back seat to expressing my displeasure at the Democrat power brokers (looking at you, Obama) for putting their thumb so firmly on the scale. If I was eligible to vote I think that would likely take the form of a vote for Sanders, Gabbard or one of the other candidates running on the untouchable issues, if the option was available to me. The other choice, abstaining, plays into their hands in my opinion (lower turnout makes the primary easier to rig) so I would avoid it.

        Reply
        1. Eureka Springs

          This assumes your vote would be counted properly. Which is highly doubtful. Also it disenfranchises those who are not voting as their only way to say no confidence in the entire system. With every passing nano second I have greater respect for non voters and want to give that super majority (in primary) and super plurality (in generals) a megaphone.

          And yes, I voted for Sanders this one primary. I knew I would regret it due to his record of fecklessness with promise to do it again, and I do.

          Reply
          1. edmondo

            I don’t want Bernie to get ANY MORE delegates to the Democratic Party convention. I want everyone who supported Bernie to DemExit and leave that whorehouse as soon as possible. Anyone who thinks that the D Party has any value to progressives is either blind or stupid. Remember: the only thing progressive about Joe Biden is his dementia.

            Reply
    3. Michael McK

      What John K said plus platform leverage and to show how many votes DNC centerists have to lose if they screw the Left again. Perhaps all those reasons are moot because the DNC could not care less about working people and Lucy will pull the ball away yet again but at the very least it will irk them.
      Remember the down ballot races too.

      Reply
      1. Big River Bandido

        I don’t give a rat about downballot Democrats, or the fortunes of the party. Schumer, Gillebrand, my reps in Congress and the state legislature are also worthless, and I’d never vote for any of them. But in any case partisan considerations are moot in primaries, and New York historically separates its presidential, Congressional, state and local primaries in order to suppress turnout, although I think this year they decided to combine the contests.

        Reply
    4. Freda Miller

      I’m voting for Sanders in the Oregon Democrat mail-in primary which ends today. IMHO Biden is not a viable candidate. Someone must replace him. If it isn’t Sanders, I’ll vote for the Green Party candidate in the general.

      Reply
    5. Terry Humphrey

      I’m going down ballot and leaving the POTUS to true believers. I feel the horse I bet $1000 on has pulled up lame. I’d hoped the adulation would convince Bernie to leave the reservation, but its not to be.

      Reply
    6. Jessica

      Please do vote for Bernie in NY.
      The DNC dems are going to steal the nomination again, but it would be valuable for us if they have to do it in broad daylight.
      The clearer the treachery of the DNC dems is made clear to the largest number of people, the sooner we get a new party. Imagine what would happen if Bernie were to win NY.

      Reply
    7. Big River Bandido

      Thank you all for your views. I’ll mull it over and figure out what I’m going to do. I don’t think the NY primary is for awhile anyway.

      Reply
  10. Big River Bandido

    UPDATE Warren (D)(2): “Elizabeth Warren’s Path to Becoming VP… “The nightmare scenario some Democrats envision is that a Biden-Warren ticket will prevail in November …

    That *is* a nightmarish thought, but they can rest easy.

    Reply
    1. albrt

      I probably won’t vote for any of them, but I would be slightly happier to see Biden pick Harris over Warren because Harris appears more ruthless and therefore more likely to have Biden taken out before November.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        If Harris gets the nod, would she then be unofficially called the Presidential Arm Bracelet? It’s how she got her start with Willie Brown, a man who could get away with turning up for an event with his wife on one arm and his girlfriend on the other.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          Don’t know if Jill Biden, the real candidate, would put up with that. Or that Joe would be, umm, up to it. He looks pretty feeble.

          Reply
    2. John k

      Not a chance. The banks would veto bc they don’t trust her, not that anybody else would, either.
      Globuchar anyway makes more sense than anybody else.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Watching this whole thing, I mean the WHOLE thing, makes me think there must have been ergot on the rye distributed to all Americans. How else do you explain the multiple, all-encompassing hallucinatory episodes happening on all fronts right now. Biden could function as President of The United States. We can allay the effects of a new virus in a country with for-profit healthcare run by private equity firms and pharma monopolist oligarchs. The Federal Reserve Bank can print solvency and prosperity. Ground Control to Major Tom?

        Reply
  11. roxy

    When Joe Kennedy III announced his primary challenge to Markey I thought it would be interesting to see if the old K-charm ticket could get punched again here in the Commonwealth. It appears to be going quite well. To paraphrase the woman who cared for Chance the gardener in Being There, all you gotta be in Massachusetts is Kennedy.

    Reply
    1. edmondo

      LOL. Joe Kennedy is a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. I once asked how that was possible since he never, ever sponsored a progressive bill in the House. I was told “all it costs to join is a $25000 donation and you are in”.

      Will there ever be a Third Party? There seems to be a lot of power lying in the streets. Maybe it will be the Republicans who actually pick it up and run with it?

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        The United States is a major two party system with several smaller parties hang about like oxpeckers. The only time a major party appears is when the old implodes which last happened several years before the Civil War; smaller parties are important because they often force the major parties to shift their their ideology and actions. The smaller parties are sometimes local or regional powers as well. The socialists were powerful in the South in the late 19th century before being driven out by shootings, arson, and hangings. The three American socialist or communist parties of the 1930s helped get the New Deal done, but were destroyed during the McCarthy Era or Red Scare.

        Both the current Republican and Democratic Parties have extremely weak bases and maintain power only using momentum, money, and the deep state and not by any effective grassroots or broad and strong public support. Haranguing their supporters with lies and propaganda and demanding that only the small number of approved voters should vote does not mean that they have support.

        I think that one or both parties will fracture like the American Whigs within the next decade. After that, who knows?

        Reply
  12. h2odragon

    Re Google snippet: more SEO. celebrity names… work through the thesaurus of synonyms for sexual activities. cant hurt. If you’ve got the creativity go all “idiocracy” on the headlines: “FDA lowers ITS ASS on another test”, “SUPER BIDEN punches TRUMP again!” and so on.

    Reply
    1. ChrisPacific

      While that might be entertaining, it would cause Google to lump NC together with the clickbait bias confirmation sites like Occupy Democrats (with some justification) and is almost certainly best avoided.

      Reply
    1. richard

      Thanks a lot Art for that research and response to what I posted yesterday!
      that makes me feel like doing a commercial for this place
      Is there any other comments section in THE WORLD where people do things like that?
      I mean, come on!
      and the man is already so busy selling latex and latex related products

      Reply
    2. dk

      Yes this looks like missing entries for many days, followed by 3450, which may be intended as a fill-in. The chart app doesn’t show lines to and from a “0” zero entry and there are a lot of those in the series too. Connecticut, Indiana, and New Jersey show similar behavior. The “New hospitalized” figure doesn’t get as consistent reporting as Confirmed, Deaths, and Tests. The reporting channels are not uniform between states either.

      A repository for the “COVID-19 Data Repository by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University” data is here: https://github.com/CSSEGISandData/COVID-19

      The US state charts seem to be constructed from the “csse_covid_19_daily_reports_us” folder containing a series of CSV files, here is the file for 5/18: https://github.com/CSSEGISandData/COVID-19/blob/master/csse_covid_19_data/csse_covid_19_daily_reports_us/05-18-2020.csv
      The “People_Hospitalized” column and derived value are sparsely populated, but there’s more than the chart shows, this could be a problem in the collation process for the multiple files.

      The updates are posted late in the day, 5/29 should be up by midnight.

      Reply
  13. Tom Stone

    A Biden/Harris ticket might actually turn CA red.
    Probably not, but it surely would depress turnout big time.
    We know dear Kammie, defender of pedophile priests and protector of Steve Mnuchin.

    Reply
  14. McDee

    Does anyone know the status of Bernie’s list? I’m asking because I have received two requests for donations from the DNC which had a cover letter from “President Barack Obama.” The letter was of course, the usual liberal BS, ie “…access to healthcare” and “shared values” etc.

    I registered as a Dem last year to vote for Bernie in New Mexico’s closed primary. I have never donated to the DNC, Act Blue or any other Dem front group. I did donate multiple times directly to Bernie and once to Tulsi.

    I wonder how I got on their mailing list. My wife is also a registered Dem and has received no mailers from the DNC. Anyway I did return the donation card and marked Zero Dollars. I also included my two cents worth.

    Mailed in my absentee ballot today and voted for Bernie. But if the DNC got my info from his list I will be mightily p*****d.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Yesterday, I got the first Bernie text I’d gotten in quite some time. Looking for support for his “$2k/month UBI for the duration of the crisis” bill.

      I didn’t respond to the poll or make a donation. Especially when I noticed the “Friends of Bernie Sanders” line at the bottom of the text. Who are these friends? Are they also friends of Biden? Are they corporate Democrats?

      Reply
      1. Sam M

        I received the same text. Makes me think not even the most “ethical” digital operation is immune from data collection and sales.

        Reply
    2. Yves Smith

      I am pretty sure Bernie (or at least Jane) has said no way is he giving it up.

      Plus the Dems are silly in wanting it. It won’t be productive in their hands. What happens when Sanders supporters get their first “$27 for Biden” (or the DCCC) e-mail? I bet a high % unsubscribes immediately. $ yield would be very low and mainly if not entirely names the Dems already had on Biden lists.

      Reply
      1. Arizona Slim

        Imagine the things we’d say as we unsubscribed. They wouldn’t be printable on this family blog.

        Reply
    3. Daryl

      I haven’t received anything, but I also unsubscribed from everything immediately on first contact. Which I recommend anyone does with any mailing lists of any kind.

      Reply
  15. Socal Rhino

    My impression within my own circle of acquaintances in Southern California is that the people who voted for HRC would happily vote for a ticket with Harris on it. And I think Texas will turn blue before California sees red again.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      Flying pretty full because they cut flights to achieve that. They’ll do that as late as a week to a few days out and move passengers to other flights that day, of course less convenient ones.

      Reply
  16. fresno dan

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/05/18/michael-flynn-jonathan-turley-judge-sullivan-fbi-column/5212869002/

    The case of former national security adviser Michael Flynn is rapidly moving from the dubious to the preposterous. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan is being widely applauded for resisting the dismissal of a case that the Department of Justice insists cannot be ethically maintained.
    ….
    While courts have discretion to grant amicus or third-party arguments in civil cases, there is no counterpart under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. In fact, Judge Sullivan rejected such a request on Dec. 20, 2017, stating that “the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure do not provide for intervention by third parties in criminal cases. … Options exist for a private citizen to express his views about matters of public interest, but the court’s docket is not an available option.
    ….
    However, the Flynn case has proved to be the defining temptation for many in discarding constitutional protections and values in their crusade against President Donald Trump. Experts are asking a court to consider sending a man to prison after the Justice Department concluded it can no longer stand behind his prosecution.
    ==============================================
    Well….before we sing the praises of the prosecutors, or the DoJ, I vaguely recall it was DoJ prosecutors that got Flynn into this mess to begin with, who apparently, when original FBI forms can’t be found, are fine with that. And the prosecutor, and this JUDGE, apparently unable to look at the charges and determine that they didn’t make a lick of sense. And yet, the case proceeded. So much for all the safe guards in our system for the “accused.”

    Reply
  17. chuck roast

    GDP Now!

    I have been waiting for 50 years for the Fed to do “GINI Now!” What the hell, I’m a patient guy, I’ll just wait for 50 more.

    Reply
  18. Dr. John Carpenter

    Am I the only one who doesn’t see a Harris VP as happening if Biden has anything to do with it? As contrived as it was, Harris was the only one to draw blood on Biden during the primaries. I know I’ve read articles about how much Biden values loyalty in a VP pick. I can’t see Harris passing that muster. Plus, personal feelings aside, I don’t see how this self proclaimed “top tier candidate” brings anything to the ticket. Lest we forget Harris herself was shutdown by Gabbard.
    On the other hand, it is painfully obvious the Democrat media loves them some Harris. That’s why I say if Biden has anything to do with it. I could see a Sarah Palin situation where a VP is assigned to him by people who allegedly know best. I suppose I could see this happening if some debts get called in before November.

    Reply
    1. edmondo

      It’s Amy Klobuchar. Although the hardest part of her getting the nomination will be convincing James Clyburn that she’s African-American.

      Reply
      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        I think so too, assuming Biden has a say. It’ll be interesting to see how that move plays for the reason you mentioned. (Personal feeling: Biden already got what he needed from the AA community. They get “where else are you going to go?” and “I only said a woman, not an African-American woman” if Biden picks his own VP.)

        Reply
      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        A black VP reduces Clyburn’s value for white Southern Democrats as they will have a different person to be the main voice for black voters. Remember Clyburn basically didn’t exist during the Obama administration. Does the MSNBC green room want the sitting VP or a congressman on their way out (he’s on his way out due to age)?

        Reply
      3. John k

        Nearly 100%.
        Only one that brings in a useful state, loves oligarchs, endorsed Biden first… what’s not to like? A done deal.
        I agree with carpenter, the aa southern firewall did its job, they’re superfluous until 2024.

        Reply
      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > It’s Amy Klobuchar. Although the hardest part of her getting the nomination will be convincing James Clyburn that she’s African-American.

        Shouldn’t be any harder than Warren convincing Harvard she’s an American Indian.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Somehow I think that Clyburn will be a lot more skeptical of any such claims than Harvard’s nomenklatura was. He has to work in the ‘real’ world. They live in their own ‘bubble universe,’ thus the term “universe-ity,” as in, small cosmos. [‘Small cosmos’ is used differently from the term ‘cosmopo-lite,’ which denotes the Bi-coastal “intellectual” elites.]
          What a complicated place is America!

          Reply
    2. albrt

      It seems highly unlikely that Biden remembers anything from the debates, so I guess the question is whether Jill Biden or whoever happens to be propping him up in front of the camera when he makes the VP announcement has a narrow view of loyalty.

      My personal dilemma is this – I won’t vote for a war criminal, so everyone associated with Obama foreign policy is permanently disqualified, period.

      So does Harris’ participation and support for state-sanctioned slavery within the California penal system constitute a war crime or not? I guess I need to do some research.

      Reply
      1. Jessica

        May I politely suggest that we need a term that means “if you did it to some other country, it would definitely be a war crime, so why should it be OK if you do it to your own citizens”.

        Reply
  19. TB

    4 years of Biden and 8 of Harris? They wish. 4 years of whoever survives Biden’s term and then a competent fascist. Who would vote for more of the guaranteed miserable failure that will be the Biden administration?

    Reply
  20. The Rev Kev

    ‘I get a lot of pleasure from Twitter art bots’

    I have to admit that I am a sucker for a good Monet and there are a lot of Monets on that feed.

    Reply
  21. marym

    SWING-DISTRICT DEMOCRATS LINK WITH PROGRESSIVES TO BACK PAYCHECK BILL PELOSI REJECTED

    “AFTER HOUSE SPEAKER Nancy Pelosi excluded a plan to keep unemployment down by subsidizing firms to keep workers on payrolls from her relief package last week, dozens of progressives have banded together with 10 “front-line” Democrats from swing districts to introduce it as a standalone piece of legislation.

    Because of the stark partisan divide in the House, Pelosi can’t rely on the few remaining moderate Republicans to push legislation over the top. Instead, leadership typically shapes legislation to appeal to the swing-district bloc of Democrats — there are 42 front-liners who the party considers in need of electoral protection — then bludgeons progressives into supporting it…but [progressives] teaming with front-liners opens up a new potential strategy as the pandemic scrambles political calculations.”

    https://theintercept.com/2020/05/19/heroes-act-paycheck-bill-democrats/

    Reply
  22. richard

    I like the new google whatzit, the snippet. It reminds me of the chapter titles in one of my favorite novels, The Sot Weed Factor. John Barth milks a lot of comedy out of that conceit.

    Reply
      1. richard

        That was raunchy! Or as they might have said in the ‘60’s “ribald”. Those parts were really the main reason I got into the book as a young man. Literature, pah. Give me funny and dirty any day.

        Reply
        1. John Anthony La Pietra

          “I’ve never quibbles
          If it was ribald —
          I would devour
          Where others merely nibbled. . . .”

          Reply
  23. Tom Stone

    The Biden campaign needs a boost, maybe they should come up with a slogan that reminds people of the wonderful Obama years?
    “Change you can buy a cup of coffee with!” probably won’t work due to inflation, but something along those lines might do the job.

    Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          So a guy buys a hot dog from the Zen Hot Dog vendor hands him a twenty. The Zen Hot Dog vendor pockets the twenty and hands him a hot dog.

          GUY: Hey, where’s my change?

          ZEN HOT DOG VENDOR: Change, my friend, must come from within!

          Reply
  24. VietnamVet

    Long ago, Democrats were the “people’s party that made government work”. Republicans are the “government is evil; drown it in the bathtub”. The GOP won big time. Government is so incompetent it killed over 90,000 Americans who need not have died. America’s reopening will add to the toll. A Biden/Harris ticket is just as dysfunctional as the Trump/Pence team. None will make government work again; end the pandemic, feed the starving, heal the sick, or provide government jobs for the out of work. No choice means no democracy. With the sole goal of making more profit for the rich, the last of days of America will be a slow motion train wreck until the lights blink off.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      I can imagine African Union peacekeepers in the Deep South to stop the elites from succeeding in their nefarious plan to bring back Jim Crow. As the AA politicos start dying off from old age, their replacement AA political hopefuls will be seen to be a whole nother breed of brothers. More radicalized from several decades of civil oppression that have been good only for holding the black man down yet again. The wholesale destruction of decades worth of Black economic gains in the 2008 Corporatist coup, and by the changeling in the White House no less, will have intensified the radicalization of the AA working classes. The only hope for the Southern white worker is to make common cause with the new black powers now, not later. Some functional unions would have been nice.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > A Biden/Harris ticket is just as dysfunctional as the Trump/Pence team.

      Not if the Biden Administration hires the 3000 members of the Obama Alumni Association, steps back, and lets them handle everything because they’re “smart” [sobs quietly].

      Reply
  25. MichaelSF

    It seems to me that Biden is missing out by not reaching across the aisle (you know he wants to, when he can remember) and offering the VP slot to Condoleeza Rice. Great credentials (SOS, concert pianist, soon to be head of the Hoover Institution), female, black, will help draw in moderate Republicans, what could go wrong?

    Reply
  26. Acacia

    Another little problem for Biden?

    https://ukranews.com/en/news/703200-international-corruption-and-treason-derkach-unveiled-conversations-of-voices-similar-to-poroshenko

    “MP Andrii Derkach has made public recordings of conversations with “voices similar to Poroshenko and Biden,” which discuss Shokin’s resignation in exchange for $1 billion in US loan guarantees, external management of the Ukrainian government and tariff increase by 100% instead of 75%.”

    Reply
  27. Oregoncharles

    “Woo woo? Or something here?”
    Translation of the quote: Humans are obligate social animals. We are stronger in combination, greatly diminished in isolation.”

    Which is a fundamental problem with “social distancing” – it’s just as miserable and destructive as it sounds. Worthwhile as an emergency measure, if there is no alternative, but inherently shortlived not only because it destroys livelihood, but mainly because people won’t put up with it.

    Consider the repeated theme of people sneaking out to be with a lover. That story is one of the human universals, sometimes in the face of consequences far worse than this pandemic.

    And I say that as a high-risk person (74).

    Reply
  28. attila the hun

    The Democratic Party is on the glide path to oblivion If they stick with Biden. The 2020 election will probably be a repeat of 2016. The Establishment Democrats will not survive another defeat followed by four more years of Trump. Anger and bitterness will result in party civil war and split it. The Republican party will probably not survive in its present form either. If Trump is reelected, there will be three or possibly four political parties by 2023 or 2024. One of them may be an amalgamation of the conservative Democrats and non-Trump Republicans. The others would be a Trump Republican Party and a Progressive Democratic Party.

    Reply
  29. Tomonthebeach

    Mrs Snover’s pity for Trump that “…do you know how hard it was for him to shut the country down? That was hard. So I give him credit for that.” Coming from a GOP leader whose family was decimated by COVID-19 is beyond belief.

    Reply
  30. Henry Moon Pie

    Gabel and bioenergetics–

    The jargon-heavy writing evokes woo-woo, but the thrust of what he says is important and leads to further interesting questions. A couple of hot takes:

    1) I agree completely with the part of his argument that puts spiritual concerns at the center of any Left movement. No surprise there.

    2) Gabel paints Trumpism as a unique and frightening thing. Maybe. But the problem of a lack of interconnectedness is hardly limited to Deplorable Republicans. Could Gabel’s analysis be applied to Democrats who managed an amazing coalescing based entirely on the machinations of their hierarchy? And if Gable’s agape approach is what is required for Trump supporters, should the same be used for the worshipers of Obama?

    3) His point about the need for connection as a way to guard against saboteurs is worth considering.

    4) There is a little Ghostbusters II, pink slime thing going on here.

    5) Gabel’s analysis also brings to mind the difference between religions with transcendent, anthropomorphic gods and religions with an immanent, non-personal god.

    6) Does the Left’s old hatred for Christianity, combined with our post-Christian culture, render today’s Left incapable of engaging with spiritual issues even in a non-monotheistic context?

    Reply
  31. Jack Parsons

    Contact tracing has been a municipal staple for a very long time. There are scenes from films in the 30s or 40s of a gnome from the city interviewing some mortified husband about his syphilis. The contact tracers are trained at being very calm, non-threatening, and professional.

    I Got It From Agnes – Tom Lehrer

    Reply

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