2:00PM Water Cooler 5/21/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

#COVID19

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

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

Back to log form, with New York, California, Florida, and Georgia.

https://www.al.com/news/2020/05/montgomery-running-out-of-icu-beds-as-coronavirus-cases-double-in-may.html

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

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

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

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

Trade

“No Clear Sign That Worst Is Over for Global Trade, Asian Data Shows” [Bloomberg]. “An early trade report from South Korea, a bellwether for global commerce, showed exports may be set to drop more than 20% in May for a second month. Meanwhile, Japan’s overseas shipments also plunged by more than a fifth in April and a purchasing managers index showed manufacturing activity weakening further in May…. ‘Double-digit exports decline will last for at least a couple more months,’ said So Jaeyong, an economist at Shinhan Bank. ‘The U.S. restarting its economy after China may provide a floor to the trade slump, but there are multiple risks ahead, including a wider second wave of infections.'” • Mr. Market doesn’t seem to have noticed that China quaranteed another 100 million people just the other day.

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

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2020

Biden (D)(1): “Biden campaign focuses on diverse coalition building with new senior leadership” [ABC|. “With just over five months until the general election and facing a barrage of public advice on how to move forward with a campaign in the midst of a global pandemic, former Vice President Joe Biden’s team is pushing ahead with a new strategy, focusing on hiring new leaders amid increased outreach to key, diverse voting groups they consider critical to build a winning constituency against President Donald Trump in November. The campaign, which has recently announced plans for a major expansion in the coming weeks, is aiming to revamp its team to reach communities of color, in particular Latinos, a group Biden struggled to court throughout the Democratic primary. Biden’s campaign signaled they would be intensifying their outreach with new and diverse senior leadership, and announced Wednesday the hire of Karine Jean-Pierre, a former Obama administration official and the chief public affairs officer for MoveOn, a progressive public policy group.” • Well, it’s only May.

UPDATE Biden (D)(2): “Joe Biden: It Would Be an Insult to My Dead Son for Everyone to Have Healthcare” [Vice]. • From 2019, still germane. So does Warren believe that heatlh care for everyone would be an insult to her dead brother? Apparently so; see below. She certainly doesn’t believe it would be a fitting memorial.

UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “Ukrainian lawmaker releases leaked phone calls of Biden and Poroshenko” [WaPo]. “A Ukrainian lawmaker who met with Rudolph W. Giuliani late last year released recordings of private phone calls several years ago between Vice President Joe Biden and Petro Poroshenko, then Ukraine’s president, in a new broadside against the presumptive Democratic nominee for U.S. president that has raised questions about foreign interference in the 2020 election. Andriy Derkach, an independent member of Ukraine’s parliament who previously aligned with a pro-Russian faction, said at a news conference in Kyiv on Tuesday that he had received the tapes — which consist of edited fragments of phone conversations Biden and Poroshenko had while still in office — from “investigative journalists.” He alleged they were made by Poroshenko. Derkach has past links to Russian intelligence.” • Big if true. It would be very like the Republicans to step on their own d**ks on ObamaGate with this thing. If so, thanks, Rudy.

Cuomo (D)(1): Come on, man.

The nepotism! It b-u-u-u-r-r-r-r-n-s-s-s!!!!!!

Warren (D)(1): “Warren pivots on ‘Medicare for All’ in bid to become Biden’s VP” [Politico]. • Spectacular performativity, albeit for a limited audience. I give it a 6.0, flawless both in technical merit and presentation.

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Please stop (1):

>

Please stop (2):

All those jokes I’ve made about prying means-testing from liiberal Democrats’ cold, dead hands…. .

RussiaGate

UPDATE “The Railroading of Michael Flynn” [Eli Lake, Commentary] (Lake’s bio). This, as did the Greenwald YouTube the other day, puts together a coherent Flynn narrative. Here is a snippet: “Compare Flynn’s treatment to McCabe’s. Flynn was humiliated and bankrupted for allegedly lying to Pence and FBI agents over a phone call that advanced U.S. interests. Meanwhile, the Justice Department inspector general found in 2018 that McCabe “knowingly provided false information” in three separate interviews during an investigation into self-serving leaks published by the Wall Street Journal about an aborted investigation into the Clinton Foundation in 2016. That report also found that McCabe admonished more junior FBI agents for the leaks that he himself had authorized. Today, McCabe is a contributor at CNN. His opinions are still taken seriously at places like the esteemed Lawfare website. He remains in the good graces of the Trump resistance.” • This doesn’t look good for the Obama Alumni Association (which, horridly, is a real thing).

Realignment and Legitimacy

“America’s Patchwork Pandemic Is Fraying Even Further” [The Atlantic]. “America spent much of April on a disquieting plateau, with every day bringing about 30,000 new cases and about 2,000 new deaths…. This pattern exists because different states have experienced the coronavirus pandemic in very different ways…. The U.S. is dealing with a patchwork pandemic. The patchwork is not static. Next month’s hot spots will not be the same as last month’s. … I spoke with two dozen experts who agreed that in the absence of a vaccine, the patchwork will continue. Cities that thought the worst had passed may be hit anew. States that had lucky escapes may find themselves less lucky. The future is uncertain, but Americans should expect neither a swift return to normalcy nor a unified national experience, with an initial spring wave, a summer lull, and a fall resurgence. “The talk of a second wave as if we’ve exited the first doesn’t capture what’s really happening,” says Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. What’s happening is not one crisis, but many interconnected ones. … A patchwork was inevitable, especially when a pandemic unfolds over a nation as large as the U.S. But the White House has intensified it by devolving responsibility to the states. There is some sense to that. American public health works at a local level, delivered by more than 3,000 departments that serve specific cities, counties, tribes, and states. This decentralized system is a strength: An epidemiologist in rural Minnesota knows the needs and vulnerabilities of her community better than a federal official in Washington, D.C. But in a pandemic, the actions of 50 uncoordinated states will be less than the sum of their parts. Only the federal government has pockets deep enough to fund the extraordinary public-health effort now needed. Only it can coordinate the production of medical supplies to avoid local supply-chain choke points, and then ensure that said supplies are distributed according to need, rather than influence… The pandemic patchwork exists because the U.S. is a patchwork to its core. New outbreaks will continue to flare and fester unless the country makes a serious effort to protect its most vulnerable citizens, recognizing that their risk is the result of societal failures, not personal ones.” • A must-read.

“Lockdown Delays Cost at Least 36,000 Lives, Data Show” [New York Times]. “If the United States had begun imposing social distancing measures one week earlier than it did in March, about 36,000 fewer people would have died in the coronavirus outbreak, according to new estimates from Columbia University disease modelers.” • I don’t want to be cranky about this, but the headline is deceptive. Data don’t show anything; the model does. More: “On March 16, Mr. Trump urged Americans to limit travel, avoid groups and stay home from school. Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City, closed the city’s schools on March 15, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo issued a stay-at-home order that took effect on March 22. Changes to personal behavior across the country in mid-March slowed the epidemic, a number of disease researchers have found. But in cities where the virus arrived early and spread quickly, those actions were too late to avoid a calamity.” • I’m placing this here, and not under heatlh, so that it can be read in conjunction with the previous article.

I’m sure this Simpsons clip is familiar to many of you, but it was not to me:

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

“After Charleston absentee ballots found in Maryland, SC considers cutting ties with printer” [Post and Courier]. “South Carolina election officials could have counties cut ties to a Minnesota printer after about 20 Charleston County absentee ballots were found in Maryland this week. The ready-to-mail ballots have since made their way to Charleston-area voters, state and county election officials said, but it is just the latest problem with SeaChange Print Innovations, which prints and mails absentee ballots for 13 S.C. counties. Some Greenville County voters received the wrong absentee ballots this year when the Democratic presidential primary and a special election for sheriff were held 10 days apart, S.C. Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said. Some Charleston County voters received ballots that were folded in a way that could make them tougher to read by scanning machines, he said.” • Oops.

Stats Watch

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

Employment Situation: “16 May 2020 Initial Unemployment Claims 2,438,000 This Week” [Econintersect]. “he pandemic has so far caused a 38,918,000 job loss….. The four-week rolling average of initial claims is 1275 % higher than one year ago (versus the 1510 % higher last week) — and is higher than any historical value for this data set.”

Leading Indicators: “April 2020 Leading Economic Index Declines Again – No Easy Path to Recovery” [Econintersect]. “The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S.declined 4.4 % in April to to 98.8 (2016 = 100) – and the authors say ‘The sharp declines in the LEI and CEI suggest that the US economy is now in recession territory.’ … Because of the significant backward revisions, the current values of this index cannot be trusted. This index’s value is the lowest since the Great Recession. My opinion is that the economy entered a recession in March.” • I love the idea of backward revision of leading indicators.

Manufacturing: “May 2020 Philly Fed Manufacturing Survey Index Improves But Remains Below Great Recession Lows” [Econintersect]. “The Philly Fed Business Outlook Survey improved but remains deep in contraction…. Overall, this report was a little beter than last month’s report with key elements in contraction.” • “Noisy” and “sentiment-based.”

Housing: “April 2020 Headline Existing Home Sales Significantly Declined Due To Coronavirus” [Econintersect]. “The [National Association of Realtors (NAR)] believes the drop in home sales is a temporary condition because of the coronavirus. Although it is possible the economy could spring back quickly – the depth of the economic contraction will have significant impacts down the line. We are now in the ‘pandemic normal.’ Home prices declined but maybe next month we will see a fuller effect from the coronavirus. We consider this report weaker than last month.”

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Shipping: “Tanker pitch goes back to basics as floating storage fades” [Freight Waves]. “Until very recently, the narrative in the tanker market went like this: The coronavirus has destroyed oil demand, excess oil will be forced into storage on tankers, a huge portion of the fleet will be tied up for an extended period, far fewer ships will be left in the spot market, ergo rates will rise. Sure, the lengthy and inevitable storage drawdown will be painful for rates, but that’s the future. The near term looks great and tanker stocks are trading at a discount, so buy the stocks.The new tanker story goes like this: Oil demand is coming back fast, floating storage has peaked, oil already stored on tankers will be drawn down much quicker than predicted, rate pain during the drawdown period will be less prolonged than expected, market dynamics will revert to old-fashioned supply versus demand, demand will exceed constrained supply, ergo rates will rise.” • That was fast!

Real Estate: “Target Corp. may be wondering if warehouses are really necessary to fulfill e-commerce demand. The retailer’s strong 10.8% growth in comparable sales last quarter was built on a 141% surge in digital sales… and Target reaped big benefits from its recent investments in e-commerce fulfillment and distribution technology” [Wall Street Journal]. “The company handled about 80% of its e-commerce orders from stores, a big extension of its goal of using the retail sites as virtual warehouses. Other retailers, including Walmart, are turning to that strategy, and it’s gotten a kickstart as merchants have pressed stores into e-commerce service under the recent lockdowns.”

Manufacturing: “The Sputtering Road to Recovery” [Industry Week]. “[T]he world has never seen an economic collapse like this. After a first-quarter GDP contraction of 5%, economists forecast a second quarter downturn surpassing 30%, or three times as deep as the previous worst quarterly contraction in U.S. history. Some say it could even be more dire…. Getting back up to speed is further compromised if we experience a second wave of the virus this fall. That, in fact, is the biggest concern of about 45% of manufacturers – how to ensure operations can be sustained if infection rates start rising again…. Even before COVID, American manufacturing had yet to reach the levels of output attained prior to the Great Recession. With few underlying structural challenges prior to this recession, the sector should make steady progress on the road to recovery this year. But instead of sailing through the recovery, we’ll have to row.”

Manufacturing: “Ford Motor Co. stopped assembly lines at key factories in Chicago and Michigan for the past two days over new coronavirus concerns,… the latest sign of the risks to businesses and employees as they try to resume work in an uncertain environment. Ford also temporarily closed a pickup-truck plant in Dearborn, Mich., after a worker at the plant tested positive for Covid-19, while parts supplier Lear Corp., has idled a nearby factory for undisclosed reasons” [Wall Street Journal]. “The new closures come after Detroit’s auto makers just began restarting their U.S. factories, which were idled around March 20, and as car plants in Europe have resumed production under tighter safety rules. The U.S. car companies have resumed operations with far fewer workers making vehicles in extremely small volumes.”

Manufacturing: “Rolls-Royce Will Lay Off 9,000 to Adjust to COVID-19 Impact” [Industry Week]. “Rolls-Royce announced May 20 they would lay off more than 17% of their global workforce as the company adapts to the ‘medium-term impact’ of the novel coronavirus. The London-based engineering company, which designs and manufactures luxury cars as well as airplane engines, is the latest aerospace manufacturer to lay off workers in the face of a crippled air travel economy. In a statement, CEO Warren East said governments cannot provide enough support to replace customer demand, making the reorganization necessary. The move will cut 9,000 positions from Rolls-Royce’s 52,000 global workforce and cut plant, property, and capital spending.”

Manufacturing: “Harley-Davidson Inc. is providing a glimpse of what supply chains may look like as companies restart production. The iconic motorcycle manufacturer is reopening its factories this week… but it will lower its production rates and send dealers a narrower range of motorcycles. The idea is to simplify production and distribution from components heading to factories to finished goods for the end market” [Wall Street Journal]. “Paring product lines has been an increasingly popular strategy for consumer-facing companies under the tough economic environment during the coronavirus pandemic. The idea is to get more efficient with core products to make supply chains more focused and flexible. For Harley that will mean steering away from expansive plans to stop a yearslong sales slide. Harley is warning dealers instead to prepare ‘for an extremely tight year from an inventory perspective,’ with stocks of new motorcycles set to fall by 65%.”

Tech: “Learning from COVID-19 Data Requests to Improve Platform Support for M&E” [Ushahidi]. “The most widely used data source remains the indefatigable SMS. The reasons why SMS is still so popular are many – it is simple to deploy and use, it is widely understood and is supported by all mobile phones without requiring an Internet connection. Finally, it is relatively cheap – or even toll-free. However, the short text format for sending messages to the platform often needs structuring for them to provide useful information l, an effort that becomes tedious when volumes are very high. One way to mitigate this is via USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data). This standard, like SMS, can be used on all mobile phones. Its main advantage over SMS is that data structuring is built into the input process. However, the costs for USSD vary widely from country to country and range from slightly more expensive than SMS to many times the cost of SMS, leading many would-be deployers to consider other options.” • Ushahidi is an interesting platform for data collection and disaster management, based in Nairobi.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 52 Neutral (previous close: 52 Neutra;) [CNN]. One week ago: 38 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 21 at 12:57pm.

The Biosphere

“‘We’ve never seen this’: wildlife thrives in closed US national parks” [Guardian]. “But traffic jams seem a distant memory as the ‘[Yosemite] closure approaches its two-month mark. Deer, bobcats and black bears have congregated around buildings, along roadways and other parts of the park typically teeming with visitors. One coyote, photographed by park staff lounging in an empty parking lot under a rushing Yosemite Falls, seemed to best capture the momentary state of repose. A handful of workers who have remained in Yosemite during the closures, who have been able to travel by foot and bike along the deserted roadways, describe an abundance of wildlife not seen in the last century. ‘The bear population has quadrupled,’ Dane Peterson, a worker at the Ahwahnee Hotel, told the Los Angeles Times. ‘It’s not like they usually aren’t here … It’s that they usually hang back at the edges or move in the shadows.'” • The old normal. Now, do any of these creatures have opposable thumbs?

“Mid-Michigan’s catastrophic flooding adds to state’s pandemic woes” [Detroit Free Press]. “In addition to days of downpours, two dams — Edenville and Sanford — in the center of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula overflowed, an issue that Whitmer pledged that the state will be reviewing ‘every legal recourse that we have’ because the damage requires that we ‘hold people responsible.’ The timing of the flooding is especially precarious, coming amid a pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 5,000 Michiganders and left about a third of the state’s workforce unemployed…. About 100 people slept at the shelter on cots and air mattresses spread across the basketball floor at Midland High School. The beds were kept 6 feet apart because of social distancing. A few people even slept in their cars to avoid catching coronavirus. In the shelter, people still had to maintain social distancing requirements. Everybody was required to wear masks. Three volunteers walked around the gym, continuously wiping down beds.” • Natural disaster management in a pandemic. I just hope nobody in the shelter is shouting….

“Michigan dam that failed had its license revoked over safety issues in 2018: report” [The Hill]. “The Edenville dam, one of the two that failed, had its license revoked in 2018 with federal regulators citing the dam owner’s failure to address safety issues, the Journal reports. Both the Edenville and Sanford dams, which were breached Tuesday, are operated by Boyce Hydro Power LLC, according to the Journal. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said in a 2018 filing it was revoking the dam’s license due to Boyce’s ‘longstanding failure to increase the project’s spillway capacity to safely pass flood flows, as well as its failure to comply with its license, the Commission’s regulations, and a June 15, 2017 compliance order,’ according to the Journal. The Hill reached out to Boyce Hydro Power LLC for comment. Representatives for Boyce did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy took control over regulation of the dam after the license was revoked, according to the Journal.”

Health Care

“Dr. Fauci revealed his fears of a ‘surprise outbreak’ back in 2017 and warned the upcoming Trump administration would face ‘challenges’ with infectious diseases in a Georgetown speech” [Daily Mail]. “Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s top infectious disease expert, warned of a ‘surprise outbreak’ in a speech given three years before the global COVID-19 pandemic. In his speech titled ‘Pandemic Preparedness in the Next Administration,’ Dr. Fauci told attendees at Georgetown University in January 2017 that the upcoming presidential administration would face ‘challenges’ with infectious diseases. At the time, President Trump had taken office that month. Fauci said: ‘If there’s one message that I want to leave with you today that is based on my experience… there is no question that there will be a challenge [for] the coming administration in the arena of infectious diseases.'”

“California is reopening, but anxious customers are slow to come back” [Los Angeles Times]. “So far, most of California’s 58 counties have applied to move further into the second phase of Newsom’s reopening plan, which allows retail shopping and restaurants to serve in-person patrons…. Yet the experiences of counties that reopened in recent weeks has been sobering. Even as customers are returning, business are hindered by the constraints of operating at reduced capacity to meet social distancing requirements and question whether that model of fewer customers can be sustainable in the long term.” • When a restaurant has 10 tables once seating four, now they have 10 tables now seating two. And the restaurant business is not a high-margin business. Of course, you can put plastic shields between the diners, and seat four again. Is that how people want to go out to eat?

“COVID-19 Digital Contact Tracing: Apple and Google Work Together as MIT Tests Validity” [IEEE Spectrum]. “In a rare act of cooperation, Google and Apple this month released specifications for software developers to build digital contact tracing apps for Apple and Google mobile operating systems, which jointly encompass the majority of smartphones around the world…. The two companies are being advised in part by the MIT-led Private Automated Contact Tracing, or PACT project, one of the international research teams pioneering the Bluetooth-based privacy protocol at the heart of Apple and Google’s solution. The PACT system seeks to automate contact tracing by detecting and logging proximity between phones using Bluetooth signals, or “chirps,” from phones within an approximate 6-foot radius and picked up for a particular duration of time.”

“How Private Equity Is Ruining American Health Care” [Bloomberg]. “Back at [the California Skin Institute (CSI)], the company’s front-office staff was working the phones, calling patients in some of the worst-hit areas and reminding them to show up for their appointments, even for cosmetic procedures such as Botox injections to treat wrinkles. During the videoconference, [CEO Greg] Morganroth argued that offering Botox in a pandemic wasn’t so different from a grocery store allowing customers to buy candy alongside staples…. Morganroth’s defense of pandemic Botox might seem odd, but it made perfect sense within the logic of the U.S. health-care system, which has seen Wall Street investors invade its every corner, engineering medical practices and hospitals to maximize profits as if they were little different from grocery stores. At the center of this story are private equity firms, which saw the explosive growth of health-care spending and have been buying up physician staffing companies, surgery centers, and everything else in sight… One paradox of the Covid-19 pandemic has been that even as the virus has focused the entire country on health care, it’s been a financial disaster for the industry. And so, while emergency room doctors and nurses care for the sick—comforting those who would otherwise die alone, and in some cases dying themselves—private equity-backed staffing companies and hospitals have been cutting pay for ER doctors. These hospitals, like the big medical practices, make a large portion of their money from elective procedures and have been forced into wrenching compromises. For investors with capital, on the other hand, the economic fallout from the virus is a huge opportunity. Stay-at-home orders have left small practices more financially strained than they’ve ever been. That will likely accelerate sales to private equity firms.” • A must-read, another example of how the pandemic is, well, sharpening the contradictions.

Our Famously Free Press

“‘CBS Evening News’ Will Be Back For West Coast Edition After Control Room Glitch Leaves East Coast Dark Tonight” [Deadline]. “‘CBS News experienced technical difficulties tonight that prevented the CBS Evening News from airing at 6:30 pm, ET on the CBS Television Network,’ CBS News said in a statement released at 5 PM PM, confirming the West Coast broadcast would still go ahead. ‘The issue is being resolved, and the Mountain and West Coast versions of the CBS Evening News will air during the regular time slots at 5:30 PM/6:30 PM, MT/PT,’ they added, with an exclusive billed interview with Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg scheduled as the marquee item tonight.'” • Karma for Mark, but surely this isn’t supposed to happen at a network?

Gunz

“Police: 3 shot at Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale, shooter in custody” [AZ Central]. • Arizona’s stay-at-home order was lifted on May 15. Back to normal!

Class Warfare

UPDATE “Tipping Point: Thomas Piketty’s new history of global inequality.” [The Nation]. ” One of the world’s foremost critics of capitalism, Thomas Piketty was making the case for moderation, or as he put it, a more lasting ‘radicality.’ ‘The false radicality of saying, ‘We’ll talk about it later, after the collapse of the current economic system’ or ‘We don’t want any form of private property in the socialist or communist system we have in mind’—this is actually a very cheap radicality,” Piketty insisted. ‘It’s a radicality that doesn’t scare anyone. The elimination of very small types of private property doesn’t at all correspond to what’s being asked or what is desirable from the point of view of individual emancipation.’ A socialist future that allows for small-scale bakeries and restaurants might not be so bad, Piketty argued.” • Very interesting article. Historiographically, it reminds me a little of Time on the Cross…..

UPDATE “How big unions smooth the way for Amazon worker protests” [Reuters]. “Reuters spoke with 16 unions and labor groups targeting Amazon. They included established organizations such as the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), as well as newer worker advocacy groups like Warehouse Workers for Justice and Athena, a coalition of labor and social justice groups that have criticized Amazon’s business practices. Most unions acknowledged their long odds at organizing Amazon using traditional tactics such as holding meetings and gauging interest. Legal hurdles to unionizing the company’s workplaces and mounting elections are steep. For now, many groups said, they are showing workers how to harness public opinion to shame Amazon into granting concessions. The strategy proved effective in the national “Fight for $15″ campaign to raise the minimum wage.” • 16. Why noit, well, “one big union”?

UPDATE “Dyson’s UK staff revolt against order to return to work” [Guardian]. “Two emails sent by group chief executive Roland Krueger – and seen by the Guardian – confirm that all employees were informed they should start returning to work. The first was sent on Friday after work hours, leaving employees, including those with with vulnerable family members and children, with little time to prepare. It informed recipients that the company had “reopened our UK campus” and that staff would be divided into two rotating teams, alternating between home and office working. The proposal would have meant some staff having to travel to the firm’s Wiltshire factories at Hullavington and Malmesbury, even if they were able to work from home. In an email sent by Krueger the next day, the company said it had ‘reviewed the practicalities’ and decided not to implement the proposal. ‘Instead, those who can work as effectively from home should continue to work from home,’ said Krueger. One staff member, who spoke to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, said the company had caved in after a furious reaction from its workforce.” • More like this, please.

News of the Wired

Generally, obituaries are written well beforehand:

Wouldn’t mind having one like this myself.

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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.

107 comments

    1. Hepativore

      The fact that Michael Bloomberg is even on there says it all.

      Looking at this list, it is like who gets to set at the “cool kids table” in high school within the Democratic Party. Like the said “cool kids” in high school, these are some of the most ruthless, conniving, as*holes that the Democratic Party has to offer. But hey, we all know which side the New York Times bread is buttered on, so this is no big surprise.

      Reply
      1. Massinissa

        Bloomberg and Jamie Dimon are under Secretary of Treasury…

        Kill me.

        Wait, Pete Buttigieg is under Defense? Yes, I’m sure MAYOR PETE has enough experience in defense from driving around a generals taxi to be secretary of defence… Is this a joke? Alot of these selections are meme-tier. Its like this is secretly a shitpost from 4chan.

        Reply
        1. John k

          On the plus side… would you make Buttigieg secdef if you were planning to invade Russia? Or Iran? Or even Venezuela?
          And… mike and Jamie… would each get one buttock on the chair? Or is this just reminding each there’s an auction here? It’s not cheap to get your moniker on the money.
          OTOH… they both prefer trump to sanders, placing a brick wall on any move left… as if Biden would…
          Wonder what the net worth of those with a seat at that table…

          Reply
    1. richard

      Damn is right. A joyful and honest obit. My hat is off to Bunky and this person who cared about him.
      Now c’mon, tell me the joke…

      Reply
    2. Bugs Bunny

      I did that stuff, not for my whole life. More power to him. I’d say rest in peace but that would probably get me tossed over the bar. Been there, and afraid.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Yep. We have to hand it to him. He kept the course up until the very end. Good man.
        I too did things in my misspent youth that I’m now surprised I survived intact from. As I tell the grandkids whenever I see them; “been there, done that, now listen to me kid, I’ve seen what you are thinking of doing can really cost. Take my advice and avoid it like the plague.”
        There’s a wonderful scene near the end of the film adaptation of Faulkner’s “The Reivers,” where the protagonist, a young boy, is about to have the tar whipped out of him by his Dad for somethings he was involved with. The Grandfather comes down into the basement and tells the son, who is the father, not to hit the boy.
        Father; “Same thing you done to me twentyfive years ago.”
        Grandfather; “Maybe I got more sense now.”
        See, a bit long, but it gives you the feel of the piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jGHz20HIjk

        Reply
    3. The Rev Kev

      People like this can be remembered in a more permanent way. Somewhere there is a graveyard that has the following inscription on one of their stones-

      “R.I.P
      Here lies my Husband, he was
      Dishonest, erratic,
      Erotic, irresistable,
      Wanton, untrustworthy
      And a liar.
      Sadly missed by his
      Everloving wife.”

      Reply
  1. Toshiro_Mifune

    “We have the Heroes bill. Others say, he has the zeroes bill.”

    Goof lord…. they’re all just a bunch of nerds. And not in a semi-interesting “I have a 1st Ed copy of Call of Cthulhu and a 1st printing of Deities and Demi-Gods with the Elric stuff!” way. I mean, I could deal with that.
    These are just front of the class “oh teacher, please acknowledge me” nerds, desperately playing for any adult attention.
    I’m tempted to just drive out to DC and pants them.

    Reply
      1. Bugs Bunny

        Tomorrow is World Goth Day. I’d say they’re the ones who were never goth and probably won’t ever be, even dead.

        Nasty popular kids, squares and jocks.

        Reply
    1. RMO

      Their great zinger reminds me so much of one of the most cringeworthy lines from that most cringeworthy of movies “Cool As Ice” that my jaw nearly hit the floor. Someone actually thought that was a clever jab at Trump and the GOP? We’re supposed to take them seriously as a national political force?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42fIRhOZ118

      Reply
    2. ObjectiveFunction

      Yes, or the TSR original “Gods, Demigods & Heroes”, in a typo-filled white paperback. [/Geekoneupmanship]

      My own favorite Gygax & Arneson [genuflects] typo was “% Liar” in the monster stats, which was creatively interpreted by geeky teens worldwide.

      Reply
  2. Seth A Miller

    How did Michigan wind up with a private dam in the first place? The flood sounds like the logical conclusion to a long ago privatization problem, so I’d love to get some background.

    Reply
    1. Louis Fyne

      lol, I read the wiki article on the dam last night. cuz I was curious.

      Short story—-privately built in the 1920’s as a power and recreational speculative project. Eventually bought by the current owners who own several other similar dams in the area. Dam only made ~$1 million worth of electricity every year and likely not profitable given its age and cheapness of natural gas.

      Biggest impediment to the molasses-speed decommissioning of the dam was that waterfront property owners didn’t want to lose 8 feet of lake depth.

      and speaking of dam collapses, Teton dam collapsed in 1976 which I’ve never heard of. https://www.idahostatesman.com/news/northwest/idaho/article81898907.html

      Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          Like the rich folks whose parsimony resulted in the Johnstown Flood in PA, failure to maintain a private dam that created a lake where they had their “summer cottages” resulted in a wall of water that killed over 2,200 in Johnstown and the small communities on the river. And those rich folks pretty much escaped any liability, for negligence and for not even warning the people downstream when it became apparent that the dam was going to fail. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnstown_Flood

          Rich folks, 1 — poor folks, zero. The story of America

          Reply
      1. Duke of Prunes

        I read a few articles as I did some water skiing there in my youth. It’s sounds like a typical cluster. The Fed de-certified the dam for power generation because the owners took too long to bring it up to code (like over 9 years). With the Feds giving up, the State of Michigan took over, and their code is different than the Feds so the dam was OK again (rated as “fair”). A local group was in the process of buying the dams to address the safety issues (with the plan to tax the local land owners to repair and maintain the dams), but then it rained too much, and the rest is history.

        About the water depth, the last few winters, the private owners lowered the water more than they were “allowed” (“up to 8” instead of 3 ft). They said this was to help aging dam survive. However, they got sued by the State of Michigan because this killed “thousands, if not millions” of fresh water mussels. A week or two prior to this lawsuit, the owner sued the State because they claimed they were being unfairly targeted for enforcement (lots of other “fair” dams in Michigan, where’s the enforcement action against them). Because of all of this, the water level was being raised prior to the storms which destroyed the dams.

        Now, it could very well be that the mussels were a cover for the wealthy lakefront owners unhappy about the low water, or it could be that it was just a convenient hammer to use on the non-compliant dam owner.

        It really is a horrible event. Back in the 80s, it wasn’t an uppity area at all. Back then, the wealthy tended to go further north. Mostly middle-class auto workers and white collar. The water sometimes got kind of funky in the summer so that kept the values down. The public swimming beach near the Sanford dam was closed from time to time because of poor water quality. Some of the drone footage shows some nice houses, but, again, nothing like you see further north near cleaner water.

        I’m sure the dam owner will just hid his assets and declare bankruptcy and the State will be on the hook for everything. Or even better, they’ll persuade a court that the damage was caused by the State making them raise the water level in the midst of one of the wettest month of Mays on record.

        Reply
        1. RWood

          Yas, yas, might be some further to-do:

          https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/aging-dams-changing-climate-a-dangerous-mix

          A major Dow Chemical plant in Midland said in a statement that “there were floodwaters commingling with on-site containment ponds” as of 10 am CDT Wednesday. The facility includes a 53-year-old nuclear research reactor that was already closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. See the weather.com article for more on Midland-area flood impacts.

          Reply
    2. Glen

      Small private dams are not unusual. The two dams removed from the Elwha river in WA were both private, both poorly maintained, and the lower reservoir was so filled with silt that you could walk across it.

      This goes back to our failing infrastructure. We are a country full of old things now falling apart and failing. More of the new norm in action.

      Reply
  3. Louis Fyne

    “We have the Heroes bill. Others say, he has the zeroes bill.”

    please someone tell Pelosi that she (or most likely her aides who feed her the canned zingers) aren’t witty.

    Trump didn’t win because of his one-liners. And one-liners won’t save Democrats. Competent oversight and governance would—but I’m not holding my breath.

    Reply
      1. Off The Street

        At least television shows have a laugh track that is usually with the show instead of at it.

        Reply
      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        I don’t know. I might be overestimating but about 1/3 of West WIng episodes were basically just Aaron Sorkin through a male character scoffing at how little a woman (always a woman) knew about the complexities of government such as their being 3 branches of government. Sometimes the woman would be replaced by the one black character in a democratic white house who carried the President’s bags.

        I largely blame Sorkin for the retort about how lefties keep forgetting Pelosi has to deal with the Senate as that garbage show trained them to believe knowing the Senate exists makes it a brilliant point no one had ever thought of.

        Reply
  4. RMO

    Regarding the Industry Week piece on Rolls-Royce: the aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce hasn’t had anything to do with making cars since the early 70s. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is a subsidiary of BMW.

    Reply
  5. Jason Boxman

    From the Atlantic article:

    Up to 40 percent of the 170,000-person Navajo (Diné) Nation have no running water; they can’t effectively wash their hands.

    I had no idea; We’ve left these people to die for generations and generations of politics in Washington; So it’s no surprise they’re willing to leave the rest of us to die, too.

    Reply
  6. clarky90

    Re “….. the pandemic is, well, sharpening the contradictions.”

    The Jubilee (Hebrew: יובל‎ yōḇel; “a trumpet-blast of liberty”) is the year at the end of seven cycles of shmita (Sabbatical years).

    The destruction of The Second Temple in 70 AD was a Jubilee Year.

    2020, this Year of the Corona Plague, is also a Jubilee Year. (the 40th Jubilee iteration since 70 AD)

    Every 50 years, at Yom Kippur (The “Day of Atonement”), in the Jubilee year, a ram’s horn
    (“yovel”) is sounded throughout the land of Israel.

    Yom Kippur 2020 will begin on the evening of Sunday, 27 September, 2020………

    Reply
    1. clarky90

      Leviticus 25:8–17 :

      The Year of Jubilee

      …..8 ‘And you shall count seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years. 9 Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. 10 And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family. 11 That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee to you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine. 12 For it is the Jubilee; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat its produce from the field.

      13 ‘In this Year of Jubilee, each of you shall return to his possession. 14 And if you sell anything to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor’s hand, you shall not oppress one another. 15 According to the number of years after the Jubilee you shall buy from your neighbor, and according to the number of years of crops he shall sell to you. 16 According to the multitude of years you shall increase its price, and according to the fewer number of years you shall diminish its price; for he sells to you according to the number of the years of the crops.

      17 Therefore you shall not oppress one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the Lord your God.

      Reply
      1. jsn

        Increasingly I see the 18th Century utilitarian liberalism of Bentham and it’s neoliberal spawn today as a return to pre “Axial-Age” religions of human sacrifice.

        The idea that death and degredation today is okay for higher living standards tomorrow gets there on its own, but when you add in the end game of environmental destruction and loss of ecological carrying capacity, it’s increasingly clear this is human sacrifice for the current life-style of a narrowing elite.

        Capitalism has become a religion that makes its elite powerful by deliberately and systematically destroying and killing people, animals and landscapes. Its different from the Aztecs rounding up their near neighbors and ripping their hearts out only in that the the elites have lost their stomach for it, or if not, have joined Special Forces or Blackwater.

        Reply
      2. Bugs Bunny

        Like Kashrut, jubilee has roots in first, the covenant that binds us, and second, a lot of what was common sense in the Levant at the time the prophets wrote it down. No reason to not consider these thoughts useful today.

        Reply
    2. Procopius

      The way the Greeks used to work it, rebels and invaders would promise the inhabitants of a city that if they supported, or at least did not oppose them, they would dissolve all debts when they won the war/civil war. Sometimes they failed to do so, and the people rose up against them in turn. There was passing mention of such a case in Plutarch’s Life of Cleomenes. I find it interesting that the Year of Jubilee has been much discussed in the last ten years or so. Not so much befire 2008.

      Reply
  7. Toshiro_Mifune

    Rolls-Royce Will Lay Off 9,000 to Adjust to COVID-19 Impact

    That’s RR the Aerospace company not the automobile company. Rolls Royce Motor Cars has been a wholly owned part of BMW for almost 20 years. It’s RRMC that manufactures the cars and Rolls Royce plc.
    From the article;
    The London-based engineering company, which designs and manufactures luxury cars as well as airplane engines
    Yeah, they don’t do the cars and haven’t in a long time.

    Reply
  8. JTMcPhee

    On that flooding in MI — ini Midland, MI, badly flooded, is a large Dow Chemical (now DowDuPont) plant that made a long list of nasty chlorinated chemicals. Including the components of Agent Orange and other Vietnam-era herbicides. This flooding is going to mobilize tons of soils containing major amounts of polychlorinated dioxins and dibenzofurans. These will flow, as Dow’s runoff and “permitted discharges” did, into the Tittabawasee River and down into Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron. Michigan being Conservative-dominated, my former EPA fellow workers who strived for decades to minimize the exposures to carcinogenic and toxic Dow releases expect that the state and the US EPA Region V office (under Trump, of course) will do damn all nothing about this problem. At the very least, there should be advisories to people who subsist or recreationally fish the River and Bay Warning against eating the fish that bioconcentrate these substances to toxic levels. Not expecting much, except for the carefully worded press releases from Dow, the kind of stuff that one former colleague likened to the cloud of ink that squad eject to cover their flight. LAnguage like “There have been no reported releases of product” kind of obfuscates the mobilization and “release” of waste products and longstanding soil contamination. Here NBC gives Dow the space to emit its usual fanny-covering: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/20/michigan-flooding-dam-toxic-contamination-threat

    Another item that irks me is the implicit claim of credit for “partnering with the US Coast Guard” to respond to the release, That Coast Guard activity is mandatory,when there is a release or threat of release of hazardous substances, under the Superfund statute and the Clean Water Act. It is supposed to be an adversarial relationship, where the government “on-scene coordinator” is supposed to make the owner and operator of a facility where there is a release “do the right thing,” and failing that, s/he can open a money spigot and spend federal dollars to take whatever imminent-response action is needed to minimize the threat. The obligation to report a threat of release or actual release is mandatory and can involve (though under the last several administrations almost never does) criminal penalties levied against individuals as well as a corporate entity.

    Anybody expecting Dow to do any more than use the kinds of tactics it has used in the past to obscure the nature and extent of releases of hazardous substances into the environment is just engaging in wishful thinking, if my experience in the ‘80s and the experience of my fellow EPA employees who stayed around at EPA these last couple of decades is any guide.

    Reply
    1. Bsoder

      How true. And last week trumps epa decides not to regulate or stop regulating 69 water borne chemicals. Why? To be the opposite of Obama since that’s how he does things. Now Dow is owned by Monsanto, and they in turn by the Germans at Bayer. If this happened in Germany, the Germans would go nuts, but their US owned companies they treat as colonies so this should be fun. I live in Michigan.

      Reply
  9. Big River Bandido

    That tweet from Third Way’s Jim Kessler is just incredible, not only for its complete lack of self-awareness, but for checking absolutely all the boxes of uselessness we’ve come to expect from this crowd of neoliberal pimps and street grifters.

    ✔ Bipartisan group of 4 senators
    ✔ $4,000 (paltry)
    ✔ refundable tax credit (of course)
    ✔skills training, apprenticeships, 2- and 4-year programs (no doubt with lots of claw backs)

    We like it!

    Guess now is good a time as any to re-run this. The names of our Democrat heroes are always changing since they can’t stay elected, but their tone deafness and their execrable politics nevertheless continue.

    Reply
    1. richrad

      Yeah, that’s super nice policy! That Kamala generator reminds me of a joke. Person A argues for a universal program to help everyone in a time of crisis. Woke Person B argues from the perspective (usually as a tourist) of groups most historically devastated. Neoliberal C walks in and says, let me solve your argument with means testing. We’ll only give to the most needy, and of course that will most help those devastated communities, and of course it won’t just immediately turn into an unpopular failure!
      wait, that last part forgot to be a joke, let me work on that

      Reply
  10. Bsoder

    One would hope that comments can made as a form of feedback, as a gift. I’m not looking for a fight, some of this I have felt I should have brought up a while go. I say it with respect. I have no axe to grind, no agenda, I’m not a bot, I have no social media accounts, the focus is what is said not the person, whom I don’t even know. I have been a reader from the beginning but have only commented recently. Mostly, I enjoy site because I learn stuff. **

    “Mr. Market doesn’t seem to have noticed that China quaranteed another 100 million people just the other day.”

    Suppose that remark would matter if the reality of G20 economies were capitalism, but rather it is Iikr bitcoin: engineered finance. Grift, really. Klepto. I define capital as something to do with creation of goods and services. Not so with finance, quants as we all know very well have abstracted money into game theory, it has zero relationship to the maintenance of human life. In fact it is anti-human.
    **

    2): “Joe Biden: It Would Be an Insult to My Dead Son for Everyone to Have Healthcare” [Vice].

    I want to hear him say that here now. It is insane and wickedly evil thing to say. That or to say it it to be demented. So why a year later is it being brought up? ∴ Biden evil, Trump Evilest, & nothing matters ‘cause every bodies the same. Do nothing. Is that the take away? Sure seems like it.

    UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “Ukrainian lawmaker releases leaked phone calls of Biden and Poroshenko” . Big? Why? No one cares. And everyone’s sick of it.

    Cynicism in action. See the following. Unfortunate. I can understand skepticism, psychologically healthy, cynicism not so much, indirect anger. And At what?

    “The nepotism! It b-u-u-u-r-r-r-r-n-s-s-s!!!!!!” //Spectacular performativity, albeit for a limited audience. I give it a 6.0, flawless both in technical merit and presentation.
    **

    “America’s Patchwork Pandemic Is Fraying Even Further” No it started unglued and has gotten better here and there. I wouldn’t suggest be careful about what anyone puts into there head about anything CV19, this is getting to the point of causing psychosis.

    **
    [Industry Week]. “[T]he world has never seen an economic collapse like this”. No they all are unique. But the statement implies there is a way to hold “misery” to the sunlight and say ‘yep, this is really bad”. See Jared Diamond he has a book on about ‘37’ varieties of misery. Going extinct seems even if local, way then worse 5% GDP contraction.
    **

    The old normal. Now, do any of these creatures have opposable thumbs? Yes.
    A corresponding digit in other animals, especially primates. Also called pollex. About 6 million years the old normal. **

    Natural disaster management in a pandemic. I just hope nobody in the shelter is shouting…. Shout? You’ve never been to Midland I’d bet. To your point loud talking is enough. **

    “COVID-19 Digital Contact Tracing: Apple and Google Work Together as MIT Tests Validity” An fine example of magical techno narcissism at work. Ah, Mordor, I can smell the sulfur from here. “How Private Equity Is Ruining American Health Care” [Bloomberg]. ” Has ruined. This goes beyond klepto.

    “A must-read, another example of how the pandemic is, well, sharpening the contradictions.” Contradictions? As in what exactly? My contention is if things are going to change we need to very specific, not ‘this happened because they are bad, no one will change, so it’s hopeless”. **

    Das ist alles.

    Reply
    1. Lee Christmas

      I’m not 100% sure about the overall thrust of the argument you are making, even though (I think) I agree with some of your assessments.

      Contradictions? As in what exactly? My contention is if things are going to change we need to very specific, not ‘this happened because they are bad, no one will change, so it’s hopeless

      This last line obviously stuck out to me, and I think your earlier line about cynicism/skepticism relates to the quoted text and the general attitude amongst readers of this blog. I think reading the comments here makes it obvious that most here are skeptical, if not cynical, of the prevailing narratives we are fed.

      Sure, some people here think “Biden evil, Trump Evilest, & nothing matters ‘cause every bodies the same. Do nothing.” But guess what? Most people do not think this way. Even taking the large group of non-voters (the largest political “party”), or the independents (who definitely lean more towards one direction or another), the vast majority of people who consume only the media curated on this site do not believe this to be true.

      If more people could wake up to this fact, then I think we could more easily move towards the “specific” things you want to change that. We have to first agree on the problem, to then propose the right solutions.

      But recognition of this sad fact, that choosing between the puppet on the left or the puppet on the right, most of whom are funded by largely the same sources and whose disagreements are largely about form rather than substance is not something which the average person is inclined or enabled to grasp.

      So I wouldn’t want to read “nothing matters ‘cause every bodies the same” every day.

      But I would hope that at least one new reader coming here would arrive at that conclusion. Then once a majority agree on the problem, then we can work on a fix. And I’m sure we agree that fix is NOT “do nothing.”

      Reply
  11. DJG

    Elizabeth Warren, pivoting to become the new Stacey Abrams.

    To quote E.W. from the article:
    Warren said on Tuesday that she, too, thinks that voters are more receptive to robust policies than they were during the Democratic primary.

    “I think the political moment has changed,” she said, pointing to the debate over what constitutes an essential worker during the pandemic. “Turns out it’s not an investment banker. … It’s people who get out there who put their own health at risk in order to keep life going in this country.”

    Why am I reminded of Mary McCarthy and her feud with Lillian Hellman?
    –Cavett, of course, asked McCarthy what was overrated about Hellman. McCarthy replied [to Dick Cavett} that “Everything. I once said in an interview that every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.'”

    Overrated. Also see: Low, dishonest decade.

    Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Warren was too old to be Sanders running mate (Baldwin and Khanna made the most sense), and the other Nihilists never had a chance.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          I don’t get the point. Sander is all of ten months older than Biden and in better health even putting probable dementia aside. Sanders’ heart procedure was minor and getting it as late as he did means his heart health ain’t bad. AMLO had a more radical procedure younger, which mean his heart health is worse, and no one seemed worried about that re him being President of Mexico.

          Reply
          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Sanders being responsible and dedicated to a movement should want a younger VP hoping for an FDR style length project. Biden wouldn’t care. The centrists would criticize Sanders for an older VP whereas they almost seem willing to treat Biden like Trump.

            Reply
  12. fresno dan

    I’m sure this Simpsons clip is familiar to many of you, but it was not to me.

    You only DON’T waste your vote when you vote for a third party

    So I went to the doctor today, and prior to anything actually happening, I had to sign my name 6 times (3 times on one sheet of paper, but only 2 times on the front and once on the back. And than again on another piece of paper).

    As it is starting to get near lead melting temperature season in Fresno, it occurred to me to disinfect sterilize my facemask by leaving it on the dashboard of my car.
    Ah, the joy of striking out text…

    Reply
    1. richard

      gosh i wish we had one of them letter striker outers! seriously, i was channeling george c. scott in strangelove

      Reply
  13. fresno dan

    UPDATE “The Railroading of Michael Flynn” [Eli Lake, Commentary] (Lake’s bio)

    Oh, lets just get to it – the FBI doesn’t record interviews because the US government wants to keep the ability to railroad people

    Reply
    1. Tomonthebeach

      That was a very long read which just left the reader hanging. I could not help but ask: “Okay, I know what is on the one hand, but what is on the other hand?” Now I have to wait for a judge to get a look at that. This entire fiasco is full of red and blue gaslight.

      Reply
    2. Dirk77

      I thought the Greenwald mention was interesting too. I hadn’t realized that Marcy Wheeler, whom this blog had highlighted articles by in the past, had gone Russiagate deranged. Yves and crew must be sad about that.

      Reply
  14. Left in Wisconsin

    That piece on Amazon and the unions was pretty weak sauce (not the article but the “effort” by the unions). Amazon warehouses are big investments that cannot easily be relocated (in large part due to tax breaks received but also delivery requirements) and they are absolutely dependent on an exploited workforce with enormous strike leverage. If they can’t be organized, it really is game over. But, as you, Lambert suggest, the only sensible way to try is with a single, nationwide effort.

    We are in a period like the 1910s-20s where the AFL unions were trying to figure out how to organize the auto plants into separate unions based on specific trades, with no plan to have assembly-line workers represented at all due to their inherent un-organizability. Actually, it’s worse now because today’s unions have no craft or industrial logic to them at all. That’s why there are 16 unions “involved.”

    Reply
    1. rowlf

      There are also federal guidelines on who fits in which labor group. I went through this when airplane mechanics were trying to leave the IAM (AFL-CIO) for an independent craft union (AMFA) and we had to bring the aircraft cleaner classification with us.

      Reply
  15. NotTimothyGeithner

    Biden is a scummy guy who has no shame about lying. In this case, he has no problem using his kid as a prop to defend himself from criticism. Its stupid, but hes shouting and preying on people’s emotion.

    Reply
  16. grayslady

    Regarding Target financials: I recently needed to purchase a microSD card for my cell phone, and since Target sells a lot of food now, it was one of the few stores locally where I could purchase the card. I had researched the San Disk card I wanted and learned that my local Target had 4 of them. When I arrived at the tech department, I was told that even though their inventory control program said 4 were available, the 3 young salesmen helping me couldn’t find any. They then offered me the super duper, ultra fast version, which was in stock. I explained that I couldn’t afford the fancy model, which was twice as much as the model I wanted. They then informed me that the super duper card would only cost me $2.00 more than the model I had requested since I was buying it at the store, and that everything Target sells online is much more expensive. I don’t know if that’s legal, but if it is, it strikes me as a brilliant strategy to get customers to shop at the store rather than online. Since I’m in the high risk covid 19 category, I was happy to take the superior card home with me for a price that was still within my budget. Anyway, perhaps this explains why Target is profitable right now, because hardly anyone was in the store.

    Reply
    1. edmondo

      WalMart physical stores and WalMart Online have different prices for identical items. I once bought something from WalMart instore and when I got home found the exact same item online for less than I paid. WalMart’s store policy is sell at the lowest price (Price Guarantee!). The store told me that they wouldn’t match the the online price because they don’t compete against their own website.

      I returned the item for a full refund, bought it on-line $5 cheaper and had them deliver it to the store forfree where I picked it up.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        I worked for West Marine, big marine retailer chain, as the corporate types moved The company into online selling, where the on line sales entity was direct competition for the stores. Store managers were accountable and under the gun in all kinds of ways, to produce a profit while trying to semi upstream against corporate policies like that price match thing. I feel for the Walmart managers, who have little control over how their stores operate, are like West was in having a “system” that allocates “work hours” to keep people from reaching the number of hours needed to qualify for the limited benefits offered to “full time” workers, do not control payroll or stocking decisions or floor planning (the execrable “planograms” developed my Marketing Gurus at HQ that usually make no sense and often deter sales (selling ever more crap is the Game, after all.) And the job metrics are constantly tweaked to keep the pressure up to produce sales and more sales, for really not very much money (salary small, actual work hours in the store >80 for a lot of managers.)

        In declining the offer of a store manager position, I told the regional manager why: “Being a West Marine Store manager is like being the space between the face of the hammer and the head of the nail.” Did not seem like a comfortable gig to me. Interesting factoid: I worked at seven different West Marine stores in three different states. Every single one of those stores was eventually closed down by the company. Everything one might think typical of the worst of managerialism came to fruition in the West Marine saga – now just a brand, owned by PE.

        Got smart, went to nursing school, got to learn other ways that workers get screwed…

        Reply
      2. Yves Smith

        Even better: I got at home gym equipment. Wound up at The Horrible WalMart because lack of even semi-sensible alternatives, particularly re delivery time (seems I was the last person in America to figure out that working out at home might become the only option).

        WalMart sent me 2x as many as I ordered of 25, 30, and 35 lb pound dumbbells. For no upcharge.

        I can’t return them because injured (the yardman had to haul them from the back door to the weight rack; I can lift them on and off the rack or floor but not carry them). Plus I don’t want to incur coronavirus risk. But I really would like to return them.

        But it would be nicer if they paid their workers rather than losing $ on orders.

        Reply
  17. Appleseed

    re: Uncle Bunky’s obit. Having served time on the local evening newspaper’s obit desk several decades ago, my recollection is that the only obits written in advance are for local VIPs – penned by newspaper staff. Most families don’t have it together in their grief to write something, so the friendly funeral director has them fill out a questionnaire. Funeral directors (or an employee) then write a narrative to submit and tack on a fee to the family’s bill. In my day, the funeral director would call and I’d take dictation over the phone in a “just the facts” manner with slight variation. That was back when publishing obits was part of a newspaper’s service to the community. Now it’s a profit center and papers won’t run anything substantial unless money exchanges hands. The only reason Uncle Bunky’s obit was published as submitted (likely by a friend or relative) was the family paid for it. Generally, a photo costs extra.

    Reply
  18. Michael McK

    Wasn’t MoveOn, the “progressive public policy group” created to “move on” from the spectacle of the Bill Clinton sex-capade investigations? Now that MeToo seems to have withered and Epstein is dead I suspect he is breathing easier and will remain forever untouched (only metaphorically speaking).

    Reply
  19. Skyburn

    “Generally, obituaries are written well beforehand:” “Wouldn’t mind having one like this myself. ”

    Sounds like Lambert wants us commenters to write his obit now. I’ll start:

    Blogger and former textile worker Lambert Strether, died as he lived: with his head stuck in a book. His friends and neighbors remember his kind nature and his extensive garden. He gave vegetables to the everyone in the community, except anyone who complained about his weeds. As a writer and administrator for the Naked Capitalism website, Strether attracted controversy for his views. Many thought that, despite the website’s name, he should put on some clothes, at least when outside.

    Reply
    1. Alternate Delegate

      Well done! However, I really don’t want Lambert to kick the bucket quite yet. Stay safe out there!

      Reply
      1. lambert strether

        “He is survived by his adjacent and loving barn cat, Franklin, and many, many blog posts.”

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Er, “He is survived by his adjuncts, and loving barn cat, Franklin, and many, many blog posts.”

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            No no, the cat is indeed adjacent; it lives under the porch in the house next to me, which is adjacent to my garden desk. The cat only visits because it wants to!

            Reply
  20. Alternate Delegate

    The IEEE article about the Google/Apple digital contact tracing app discusses the fact that Bluetooth works better than GPS for measuring exposure (dwell time minutes within 6 feet), but it doesn’t discuss the larger privacy issue.

    An security professional not involved in the project described the design to me (I’m sorry, I can’t read the companies’ propaganda), and I have to admit I was surprised.

    The person described an architecture that actually cared about privacy, and put the power in the hand of the person using the app.

    Meaning: the server didn’t know who was who. All the server did was hook up one app user with the following information: “you have been exposed within the past day(s) to someone who tested positive. You might want to go get tested.” It doesn’t tell them who, and it doesn’t know who (public key / private key encryption). It isn’t built to force the recipient to get tested.

    It just knows that an app user had an exposure to another app user who entered “I have tested positive for Covid” into the app. Yes, it’s not immediately obvious how the server can avoid knowing how to trace the app users back to their devices, but I promise you this can be done with client-side encryption, if the server is honest.

    Of course, no one believes for one second that Google and Apple are honest. Or, if they are honest today, that there won’t be a back door inserted into the app first thing tomorrow morning.

    The prerequisites aren’t there, in our failed state, for this to work. No one will trust these people, least of all me.

    But the mere fact that someone tried to articulate an architecture like this – that they realized that power belongs to the individual – is surprising to me. There is hope!

    Reply
  21. The Rev Kev

    “Joe Biden: It Would Be an Insult to My Dead Son for Everyone to Have Healthcare”

    “I’ll give you Healthcare when you pry it from my cold, dead son’s hands!”

    This guy is really an ********, isn’t he? He is too old & frail to be punched but not too old to be *****slapped instead. What a piece of work.

    Reply
    1. Tomonthebeach

      In all fairness, the headline was clickbait. Biden did not say that. That is what the writer read between the lines when he used the term “affordable” rather than “free” healthcare.

      The big contrast between Biden and Trump is that you can tell Trump’s positions from his lies and Biden’s by his gaffs.

      Reply
  22. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Pondering how the mainstream media will make money after they select the next president, there will be plenty of work clarifying what President Biden actually meant when he said “Our great ally Margaret Thatcher supports our position on this” and “We’re going to make record players in America again” and “The Soviet Union is our biggest threat”. But that, and puff pieces about how we live in the best of all possible worlds and “Biden Wants To Do Good Stuff For You But Evil Republicans Keep Blocking Him” stories will not attract nearly the necessary volume of clicks and views. So how will they spice it up?

    A. Renewed menace from Russia, maybe the virus actually originated in Petropavlovsk?
    B. Ongoing Revenge of the Orange Boogieman, Trump planning a secret return coup from Mar-a-Lago?
    C. Vice President Klobuchar recipes for macaroni and cheese Minneapolis style?
    D. Maybe the Head of NASA can get the nation to lockdown because a big scary asteroid might be coming?
    E. Treasury Secretary Dimon rolls out UBI payments for taxpayers with annual incomes in excess of $1M?
    F. Impeach Trump again, retroactively, in absentia?

    Where’s the drama? Where’s the fear? Who’s the boogieman? Montenegrin internet hacker troll farms? (they can get Hil to lead the charge for them on that one). Fireside chats with Fatherly Elder Statesman 0bama, about how Hope Can Make You Forget You Are Broke And Your Stomach Is Empty?

    Good times.

    Reply
    1. albrt

      Biden’s valiant struggle with progressive dementia will probably be of some interest to an important chunk of the elderly demographic, the ones who (a) have income, and (b) consume US legacy media. They should be able to sell a lot of ads for reverse mortgages, burial insurance, and such.

      Reply
      1. epynonymous

        The head of nasa’s manned flight program just quit, six months in.

        Was nice to the wrong billionaires?

        Reply
  23. VietnamVet

    Patchwork America is true. It is the reason that over a million Americans could die thanks to the re-opening of the states in the midst of a pandemic. The article even implies that it is historic and permanent. Not true. The patchwork is intentional and was reinvigorated by the Reagan counter-revolt in the 1980s.

    The USA has been a North American Empire since the Union won the Civil War and the European Empires didn’t intervene and France skedaddled afterwards when told to leave Mexico. However, due to white flight, oil shocks and the conscript’s quiet mutiny in Vietnam, the Empire Establishment tossed the democratic United States and its Constitution into the dumpster and became globalists. Profit became the sole worth of everything. Governments were bought and sold. Trade became regulated by WTO, NAFTA and the European Union. Environments degraded. The national governments of the USA, Russia, United Kingdom and Sweden became so dysfunctional that the Wuhan coronavirus was free to spread out of control. “Profit over lives.”

    The irony of Joe Biden is that he was the point man for the Western Empire’s seizing of Ukraine and the restart of the Cold War with Russia. But now its troops are holed up inside infected bases and ships. If elected, Joe Biden will think he is in charge of a global Empire once again. Instead, the USA is a pariah nation. Until the virus disappears, all Americans and goods entering virus free nations will have to be tested and/or quarantined.

    The tragedy of the USA with Donald Trump or Joe Biden as President is that it will threaten retaliation, financially and militarily, but not recognizing that this is now a bi-polar world, they will be dumbfounded when no one kowtows to them or send tribute, ever again. A virus free national leader dare not allow the virus to be reintroduced and start killing its people. The Empire is dead.

    Reply
  24. Jack Parsons

    Of course, you can put plastic shields between the diners, and seat four again. Is that how people want to go out to eat?

    Or, we could go back to having private booths! As an introvert, I would love to have dinner in a little cave.

    Reply
    1. Procopius

      I don’t know if the “health professionals” have approved booths or not. It makes sense that the people most likely to use booths would be people who normally spend a lot of time together anyway, i.e. families. Maybe restaurants could charge a premium for groups less than capacity.

      Reply

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