2:00PM Water Cooler 5/26/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

The vertical scale is expanded so New York’s enormous curve is cut out, but the differences between other states that otherwise are all jammed together at the bottom of the chart are now visible: Michigan, Wisonsin, Georgia, and Texas.

“The Coronavirus Is Deadliest Where Democrats Live” [New York Times]. As I have been saying for some time [lambert preens]. “The devastation, in other words, has been disproportionately felt in blue America, which helps explain why people on opposing sides of a partisan divide that has intensified in the past two decades are thinking about the virus differently. It is not just that Democrats and Republicans disagree on how to reopen businesses, schools and the country as a whole. Beyond perception, beyond ideology, there are starkly different realities for red and blue America right now. Democrats are far more likely to live in counties where the virus has ravaged the community, while Republicans are more likely to live in counties that have been relatively unscathed by the illness, though they are paying an economic price.” • An economic price they do not want to pay. Good reporting from the Times.

UPDATE “The U.S. economy vs. the Virus, Round 2” [Politico]. “If the people crowding the Ocean City, Md., boardwalk this weekend or packing into pools in Missouri turn out not to be virus super spreaders in the next two weeks (the outer edge of the incubation period for Covid-19), we could be in store for a recovery summer. If the weekend turns out to be a catastrophe, undoing the progress of the past three months, we’ll see more cities with surging case counts and overflowing hospitals and tortured public debates about what needs to happen next.” • Neither pools nor the boardwalk are indoors, where infection is most likely. Of course, the beachgoers and parties might well head to bat caves in the form of bars and restaurants after catching their rays. So, again, we have an enormous natural experiment (with an enormous amount of Coastal schadenfreude riding on the outcome, if nothing else.)


“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

* * *


Biden (D)(1): “Biden aims to move left without abandoning centrist roots” [Associated Press]. “Recent interviews and campaign events reveal the nuances Biden hopes can attract support in both directions. ‘I think health care is a right, not a privilege,’ he said on CNBC, espousing an article of faith for the left. But, he added, ‘I do not support Medicare for All’ single-payer insurance.” • “Biden aims to square circle without adding any corners.”

Biden (D)(2): “Who’s on Your Biden Dream Team?” [New York Times]. Dropdown-ism:

I don’t see a dropdown for the color of the Oval Office drapes, though.

Biden (D)(3):

For “morally abhorrent,” see item #5 here. Interestingly, from the same article, Webb, in his campaign against George Allen, was the beneficiary of the first viral YouTube moral panic: “The Macaca Moment,” in 2006, where a Webb staffer video tracking Allen caught him using a coarse racial slur. One does wonder if the urge to avoid a similar debacle is why the Biden campaign is keeping him wrapped up in tissue paper and carefully hidden away. Then again, there already plenty of Biden videos out there, so what difference would one more make? Except Biden has just emerged:

The sunglasses! I wonder when we’ll see him again?

UPDATE Biden (D)(4): “Rahm Emanuel won’t talk about his ongoing conversations with Joe Biden, but his pundit appearances offer hints” [Chicago Tribune (Geo). “Rahm Emanuel is having regular conversations with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his top advisers about economic policy, the selection of a running mate and the political machinations of taking on President Donald Trump…. Among Emanuel’s ideas: Democrats should stop looking timid on reopening the country amid the coronavirus pandemic and offer a bold plan to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. While millions of Americans are stuck on unemployment, the government should pay for them to be trained for future jobs in coding and cybersecurity. And it’s time Democrats push for a New Deal 2.0 with guarantees on retirement security, health care and college education…. The GI Bill and Social Security offered as part of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1940s should be the ‘North Star,’ Emanuel said.” • Oh! Learn to code! And as any coder knows, one should never install a *.0 version of anything, because it hasn’t been user-tested and so will be buggy, and a major version change, as from 1.* to 2.*, isn’t necessarily better. Look at the last few upgrades of MacOS. Block that metaphor!

UPDATE Biden (D)(5): “Joe Biden has a plan for that” [Matt Yglesias, Vox]. A summary of Biden’s policy proposals; the union stuff is good, but won’t pass; making Section 8 an entitlement like Medicaid seems good (but I’m not a housing expert). Yglesias in any case is selling as hard as he can. He concludes: “Biden is proposing big enough changes on a wide enough range of topics that if he’s backed by a supportive Congress, he’ll achieve an even more substantive policy legacy than his former boss And if he fails to achieve his ideas, the cause is much more likely to be lack of congressional support than insufficient ambition.” • I’m not sure “an even more substantive policy legacy,” even hedged as it is, means what Yglesias thinks it means. The election is really about returning the Obama Alumni Association to power. They butchered the last crisis. Have the learned anything?

Cuomo (D)(1): “How Andrew Cuomo Screwed Democrats for Almost a Decade” [The Cuomo Files]. “Today I am not going to dwell on Cuomo’s actually disastrous response to the pandemic or his desire to gut the funding of public schools. Rather, I am writing this piece for Democrats who have recently fallen in love with Cuomo, who view him as a strong progressive bulwark against Trump. This piece is for those who’ve contributed money to Democratic candidates, volunteered for Democratic candidates, and voted in Democratic primaries. This is for those who dream of Democrats retaking the Senate, protecting the House, and ending Trump’s presidency. Here’s the crux of it all: for nearly decade, Andrew Cuomo directly helped Republicans hold power in New York State. For those who follow New York politics closely, what I am about to write isn’t terribly surprising or new. But there are many people who have busy lives and can’t possibly know the intricacies and oddities of 2010s New York. For them, I hope this is all useful.” • So you’re saying Cuomo is perfect?

Sanders (D)(1): With friends like these (note the source):

“Progressives” signal-boosting Warren reinforced her in her spoiler role. Yet the signal-boosting continues!

Trump (R)(1): “Trump’s Tax Cuts Get An ‘F’ For Enabling The Globalist Elite” [The American Conservative]. “Instead of reining in the ‘globalist elites’ he so vociferously ran against or those corporations ‘who have no loyalty to America,’ his one legislative achievement has been to award them a massive tax cut. Through it, he has maintained their favorite mix of low revenue intake and high deficits which gives Republicans a pretext to ‘starve the beast’ and induce fiscal anorexia. The president has granted them as well their ideal labor market through an ingenious formula: double down on mostly symbolic raids (as opposed to systemic solutions like Mandatory E-Verify) and ramp up the rhetoric about ‘shithole countries’ to distract the media, but keep the supply of cheap, exploitable low-skill labor (legal and illegal) intact for the business lobby. Trump ran as a populist firebrand—a fusion of Huey Long and Ross Perot—and while he never abandoned that style, he has governed for the most part as a milquetoast free market Republican in perfect tandem with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, one whose solution to everything is more tax cuts and deregulation: a kind of turbo-charged “high-energy Jeb.'” • Ouch. (To be fair to Trump, he immediately axed TPP. TAC, like the left, should take the win on this.)

Trump (R)(2): “What the Polls Can’t Tell Us” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. From the Kaiser Foundation tracking poll: “The crucial group of ‘swing voters,’ who are not yet certain about their presidential vote in November, are also negative in their assessments of President Trump’s presidency. Six in 10 swing voters (59%) disapprove of the president’s overall job performance, and similar shares disapprove of his handling of coronavirus (61%) and health care (58%). Swing voters remain positive in their assessments of his handling of the economy (59% approve).” Walter comments: “So, which of these things— the way he has dealt with individual issues like health care, COVID or the economy or the way he has conducted himself as president — will be the most important for swing voters in November? The challenge in answering that question is that we really have no idea which one of these things is going to be dominating our attention this fall.” • Trump — like Napoleon’s favored generals — is lucky. One can picture a scenario where a V-shaped recession plus solid results on a vaccine from “Operation Warp Speed” put Trump on the road to a narrow win in November. 161 days is a long time in politics!

* * *

“The general election scenario that Democrats are dreading” [Politico]. “Instead of forecasting a prolonged Depression-level economic catastrophe, [Jason] Furman laid out a detailed case for why the months preceding the November election could offer Trump the chance to brag — truthfully — about the most explosive monthly employment numbers and gross domestic product growth ever. Since the Zoom call, Furman has been making the same case to anyone who will listen, especially the close-knit network of Democratic wonks who have traversed the Clinton and Obama administrations together, including top members of the Biden campaign…. Furman’s argument is not that different from the one made by White House economic advisers and Trump, who have predicted an explosive third quarter, and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who said in late April that “the hope is that by July the country’s really rocking again.” White House officials were thrilled to hear that some of their views have been endorsed by prominent Democrats.” • So, a V-shaped recession? Something we should all be praying for, if we’re all in this together…. .

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Changing Southwest may bring Democrats a milestone win” [Ronald Brownstein, CNN]. “Democrats today are strongly positioned to oust Republican Sens. Martha McSally in Arizona and Cory Gardner in Colorado and hold their own open seat in New Mexico. If the party wins those three races, as most analysts today agree they are favored but not assured to do, it will control all eight Senate seats from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada for the first time since 1941, according to Senate records…. The Democrats’ potential clean sweep of those Southwestern US Senate seats marks another advance in a tectonic remaking of the electoral battlefield. Even as Democrats struggle to maintain their position in slow-growing, predominantly white and heavily blue-collar battlegrounds across the Rust Belt, they are growing more competitive in the fast-growing, diverse and increasingly white-collar new swing states across the Sun Belt.” • Like “slow-growing” was some sort of accident….

UPDATE “Democrats are fueling a corporate counter-revolution against progressives” [David Sirota, Guardian]. “Democrats in Washington are not just passively failing to mount a strong opposition to Donald Trump – they are actively helping Republicans try to fortify the obstacles to long-term progressive change well after this emergency subsides. This corporate counter-revolution is easiest to see in Democrats’ enthusiastic support for Republicans’ legislative response to the coronavirus crisis. Democrats’ entire 2018 electoral campaign told America that the opposition party needed to win back Congress in order to block Trump’s regressive agenda. And yet, when the Republicans proposed a bill to let Trump’s appointees dole out government cash to their corporate allies with no strings attached, this same opposition party mustered not a single recorded vote against the package. Not one. Thanks to that, Trump appointees and the Federal Reserve can now hand out $4tn to politically connected corporations as they lay waste to our economy and steamroll progressive reforms. Private equity firms and fossil fuel companies get new tax breaks as they buy elections and try to lock in permanent climate change.”

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.

Leading Indicators: “May 2020 Chemical Activity Barometer Again Declines And Consistent With A Recession” [Econintersect]. “The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), fell 5.4 percent in May on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis following a 5.4 percent decline in April. On a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, the barometer fell 12.4 percent in May.”

Manufacturing: “May 2020 Texas Manufacturing Improves But Remains Deep In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “Important subindices new orders improved (remains deep in contraction) and unfilled orders also improved (remains deep in contraction). This should be considered a better report relative to last month. No question that industrial production is contracting this month.”

Consumer Confidence: “May 2020 Conference Board Consumer Confidence Stabilizes” [Econintersect]. “The latest Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index’s headline number held steady, following March’s and April’s record decline…. A quote from the Conference Board: “Consumers remain concerned about their financial prospects”…. Consumer confidence had been on a multi-year upswing, the upswing paused in 2019 – but the coronavirus killed the upswing.”

Housing: “April 2020 Headline New Home Sales Exceed Expectations” [Econintersect]. “This month the backward revisions were down. Because of weather and other factors, the rolling averages are the way to view this series. The rolling averages declined. Sales did not crash this month demonstrating the resilience of the new home market.”

Housing: “S and P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20 City Home Price Index March 2020 Year-over-Year Growth Not Effected By Coronavirus” [Econintersect]. “All home price indices are continuing to show home price growth is accelerating year-over-year. It is interesting that the coronavirus had little effect on home prices.” • “Interesting.”

* * *

Shipping: “The traditional battle lines over state subsidies in shipping are shifting under the coronavirus-driven economic downturn. Some of the world’s biggest shipping companies are turning to government support to ride out the big drop in global trade…. with executives saying some operators won’t make it unless vessel owners are bailed out” [Wall Street Journal]. “French container line CMA CGM SA is joining those seeking state backing with a $1.12 billion syndicated loan from three banks which is 70% guaranteed by the French government. It’s an example of how the crisis is scrambling the usual shipping world debates over state support that has often flowed toward Asian carriers. Germany is already moving to bolster other critical transportation operations.”

Supply Chain: “General Motors Co.’s ambitious plans to ramp up production of its high-profit pickup trucks is bumping up against supply-chain reality. The auto maker is facing a shortage of parts from Mexico because of separate timelines for reopening U.S. and Mexican plants. … [T]he disconnect underscores the challenges the auto industry faces in restarting after a two-month shutdown under the pandemic. Mexico has been slower than the U.S. to reopen factories, with operations rebooting only gradually, and the slow flow of parts along with scant information has frustrated American importers” [Wall Street Journal]. “GM has delayed plans to roughly double output at its main U.S. pickup-truck factories because of the parts backup. Detroit auto makers derive much of their profit from those vehicles, and resuming the production is especially important to GM since its inventories were depleted by a labor walkout last fall.” • Hmm. Swing state issues?

Mr. Market: “Dow soars 650 points on recovery hopes and vaccine news” [MarketWatch]. “The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 664 points, or 2.7%, to 25,130, while the S&P 500 index rose 59 points, or 2%, to 3,015, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 110 points, or 1.2%, to 9,434.”

Fodder for the Bulls: “From truck shipments to travel bookings, there are early signs that the U.S. economy is slowly creeping back to life. Projections still show the economy contracting 6% to 7% this year, but …. it appears conditions in some corners aren’t getting worse for the first time since the pandemic forced widespread U.S. business closures in March and that some business might even be improving” [Wall Street Journal]. “The signs are particularly crucial in transportation sectors since operations from freight loads on trucks to passengers traveling through airports were hit hard as pandemic lockdowns roiled demand. Recent measures show trucking demand is edging upward and intermodal rail volumes even rose sequentially for the first time in eight weeks. Gregory Daco of Oxford Economics says data suggest the U.S. economy is “past the trough” but cautions that gains are coming “from extremely depressed levels.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 51 Neutral (previous close: 50 Neutral;) [CNN]. One week ago: 48 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 26 at 1:10pm.

The Biosphere

“Managing soil borne pathogens” [John Kempf]. “For soil-borne pathogens, there is no correlation between the presence of the organism in the soil and the expression of the disease in the crop. Infections severe enough to produce crop loss are correlated with the absence of suppressive organisms more than the presence of the pathogen.” • Hmm. Readers?

She’s not the only one:

Nice greenhouse. (I decided a greenhouse was more serious than I wanted to be.)

Health Care

“New Research Shows Electroceutical Fabric Eradicates Coronavirus Infectivity On Contact” [Forbes]. “Last month, a team of researchers determined a hybrid combination of one layer of cotton and two layers of chiffon is the most effective fabric for a face mask. They noted the high-efficiency of the combination is likely due to the combined effect of mechanical and electrostatic filtration of infective particles. The new study from IU further explores the potential of electrostatic forces to act against Covid-19….. Knowing viruses rely on electrostatic forces to assemble and attach to cells, the researchers suspected the electroceutical fabric could be used to destabilize the coronavirus as well… Their subsequent analysis revealed that just one minute of contact to the electroceutical fabric led to significant reduction in the electrokinetic property of the viral particles.” • Pretty neat! *(If true, of course.)

“You’re Getting Used to Masks. Will You Wear a Face Shield?” [New York Times]. “”The nice thing about face shields is that they can be resterilized and cleaned by the user, so they’re reusable indefinitely until some component breaks or cracks,” Dr. Yu [of Brigham and Women’s Hospita said]. A simple alcohol wipe or rinse with soap and hot water is all it takes for the shields to be contaminant-free again…. Dr. Perencevich believes that face shields should be the preferred personal protective equipment of everyone for the same reason health care workers use them. They protect the entire face, including the eyes, and prevent people from touching their faces or inadvertently exposing themselves to the coronavirus. Face shields may be easier to wear than masks, he said, comparing them with wearing glasses or a hat. They wrap around a small portion of a person’s forehead rather than covering more than half their face with material that can create the urge to itch.” • Shields might also be easier to breathe with; I don’t really like my masks for that reason. However, I wish it were possible to invent a way to protect the shield edges, so droplets don’t come around them. Perhaps tiny fans. Or something charged. Still, as with the link above, it’s fascinating and hopeful to see all the “innovation” being done on something more than apps designed to screw the last nickel out of precarious gig workers.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Video shows officer kneeling on neck of black man who died” [Associated Press]. “A black man [George Floyd] who died in police custody in Minneapolis was seen on a bystander’s video pleading that he could not breathe as a white officer knelt on his neck during the arrest and kept his knee there for several minutes after the man stopped moving. The death Monday night after a struggle with officers was under investigation by the FBI and state law enforcement authorities.” • This keeps happening. Klobuchar statement:

Groves of Academe

“University Leaders Are Failing” [Chronicle of Higher Education]. “My university, Johns Hopkins, recently announced a series of exceptional measures in the face of a coronavirus-related fiscal crisis. Suddenly anticipating losses of over $350 million in the next 15 months, the university imposed a hiring freeze, canceled all raises, and warned about impending furloughs and layoffs. Most extraordinarily of all, it suspended contributions to its employees’ retirement accounts. ‘Many of our peers are grappling with similar challenges,’ wrote our president, Ronald Daniels…. How does a university with a $6-billion endowment and $10 billion in assets suddenly find itself in a solvency crisis? How is one of the country’s top research universities reduced, just a month after moving classes online, to freezing its employees’ retirement accounts?… Meanwhile, what plans did the university’s senior leadership have for a financial crisis? We now learn that the university was operating on the thinnest of margins, its finances exquisitely vulnerable to disruptions at the hospital. With the cancellation of lucrative elective procedures, huge losses appear inevitable. No one, it seems, thought to prepare for such a financial disruption — even though all that pandemic planning took place within the halls of Johns Hopkins itself. The last financial crisis happened just 12 years ago. Did the university’s leadership believe another would never come? Then there are the losses in federal grant money and foreign tuition revenues. Did anyone think to prepare in the event these were disrupted? The university set virtually nothing aside in anticipation of these or any other risks. Instead, the leadership began recklessly expensive building projects, including the purchase of a $372.5-million building in Washington, D.C., — a white elephant that had already brought a large foundation to the brink of collapse.” • The first thing we do, let’s kill all the college administrators. Starting from the top down.

Guillotine Watch

“What About the Rotten Culture of the Rich?” [Chris Arnade, American Compass]. “Why isn’t it considered bad behavior to sit in front of a wall of screens filled with flashing numbers making bets on those numbers? Would it attract the cultural scolds if the people making those bets where drinking tall boys in brown bags, rather than sipping bespoke lattes? Why isn’t it considered bad behavior to find a mid sized company, load it up with debt, strip it of its valuable assets, and send jobs overseas to the country with the lowest labor cost and least environmental regulations. All to make yourself rich, while leaving an economic hole in a Michigan town, or a New York town. A hole that sucks out hope, and eventually fills with despair and drugs…. The lesson is that cleverness trumps hard work. That a disregard for the rules trumps playing it straight. That you are a fool to put your head down every day, play by the rules, and focus on a job that values your community and your family. Why toil away at growing food, or building roads, or building bridges, when you can get rich quick by sitting in front of a wall of computers betting on flashing numbers? Why diligently work your way up the corporate ladder when you can smooth talk enough people into lending you enough money to take over the corporation, fire the board, leverage it up with debt, and then dismantle it while pocketing a few billion…. .I hope if we do talk about our broken culture, we talk about the destructive individualism of elites that has led to a selfishness that cares more about profits than the national or community good.” • Sounds like they’re not studying the Impressionists on Wall Street either….

“Elon Musk Is the Hero America Deserves” (interview) [Bloomberg]. From Musk’s biographer: “The only reason NASA entertained the idea of putting astronauts in a rocket built entirely by a private company is that SpaceX has proven itself a remarkably dependable, relatively low-price, competently managed operation. Over the past decade, it’s launched about 100 rockets, landed many of them safely back on Earth, and come to dominate the industry, while being valued at close to $40 billion. It took the effort of many clever, hardworking people to pull this off, but it’s Elon Musk in all his audacious, volatile glory that made such a thing possible in the first place.” • With most of the engineering already done at government expense…

News of the Wired

So I guess we can kiss Game of Thrones goodbye, then?

Who wants to be writing, when they can can be playing with life-size toy trains?

* * *
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 (skookum red):

skookum red writes: This is the first early bloom of my Star Magnolia growing next to my driveway. I must always park carefully so I don’t mangle the Magnolia when I open the driver’s side door. This is my reward for my carefulness.”

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. L

    Beyond perception, beyond ideology, there are starkly different realities for red and blue America right now. Democrats are far more likely to live in counties where the virus has ravaged the community, while Republicans are more likely to live in counties that have been relatively unscathed by the illness, though they are paying an economic price.”

    While true I think that we should add one very important point to that which is that the virus is still moving. While far too many people in ‘unaffected’ areas have bought into the faith that this is all overblown that faith is based upon the current state of affairs. But as the Michigan protests have shown the virus can make its way to rural communities many of which are ill-prepared to address it. And as the more rural counties move to open up churches or NASCAR tracks the pace at which this moves from an urban problem to an exurban or rural one will only increase. How will people in those areas react then if there is a reversal of fortunes and it is the cities that reopen while they are facing problems?

    1. shinola

      I can agree on churches, but NASCAR tracks? Most tracks are in metro areas. Currently, races are being held with no spectators in the stands and the race teams are limited to necessary personnel only (no entourages).

      And, for those who missed it, Brad Keselowski won Charlotte Sunday and Denny Hamlin was suspended for 4 races due to losing some of his car’s ballast out on the track.

      One can be both a NASCAR & NC fan;)

      1. Arizona Slim

        Another one confesses: I have never owned a car and don’t drive. But I love, love, LOVE to go to car shows.

        1. Tom Stone

          you would have enjoyed what I saw Saturday, I first went by with a friend to pick up his hot rodded ,36 Ford Pickup and saw the cars stored in the shed there, my favorie was a 1939 Lincoln Zephyr convertible with the 12 cylinder engine, factory new condition.There were alos 3 restored ’50’s Ford Thunderbirds.
          We then drove over to look at a field and barn of Thunderbirds.
          The newest was a 1962.
          41 of them returning to nature.

          1. wilroncanada

            Drove a ’59 Thunderbird for about 2 years–not mine. A friend at the time (mid 60s) whose father was a church minister, had a congregant who drove an Avanti (Studebaker’s last gasp).

      2. L

        In this case I guess I was guilty of blending car racing under one banner. But if you factor in tracks like the Indianapolis motor speedway as well as smaller events like the 4,000 people who attended the Ace Speedway in NC this weekend and you can see how it is more widespread and events like that can become superspreading in a heartbeat (or a sneeze).

      3. Yves Smith

        Huh? This is not even remotely correct.

        Google Talladega, the biggest Nascar track in the US. Nearly 2 hours from Atlanta and 60 mins from Birmingham.

        In addition to Talladega, the three other superspeedways are in:

        Daytona Beach, Florida. 67,000 people. A bit over half the size of Green Bay. No major metros nearby.

        Speedway, Indiana

        Long Pond, Pennsylvania

        Speedway, Indiana

        How about Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin?

        What about Martinsville, Virginia? Lexington, Ohio? Madison, Illinois?

        1. John Richmond

          Your point does hold, Yves, that a substantial number of NASCAR tracks are outside of metro areas — Martinsville for instance, a city of about 40-50k. Bristol has close to 100k in the city, with surrounding suburbs adding some to the total. My hometown track in Richmond, OTOH, is at the city border, deeply embedded in an old inner ring suburb. A large housing project is across the street. While its seating capacity is 51000, more than that have historically come to races, and it’s largest parking area I’ve ever seen.

          If we do have a race there, it probably will be without spectators. Most of the NASCAR teams will spend most of their time outside; hopefully that would mitigate any COVID spread some. Hopefully. I don’t know.

    2. Bsoder

      The quote, quoted whatever other purpose it is to serve, serves that of being wrong on so many levels. I doubt either Democrats or Republicans decided to live in counties before the CV19 pandemic that would or wouldn’t get higher or lower rates of infection. Sure, the author is trying to express something, but in life you get credit for what you do. Nothing was expressed. No one picked anywhere to live until afterwards. Or during, if you like. In simple enough english, the idea that high population areas, which will have by definition, more people: with those with more underlying long term health problems, more co-factors like weight, and my favorite older people, yes more people will get infected sooner. As to reality itself, looking at every county in the United States, today, 24 rural counties are on track to double the number infected in 3 days, and 739 are increasing. And CDC numbers for hospitalization and dying are all over the place. The MSM isn’t helping either. You know the military keeps track of the numbers too. Less than 3% of the population seems to have been infected, meaning testing positive. Meaning 97% left that can be infected.

    3. Ranger Rick

      I think it speaks more to the utter lack of connection between urban and rural societies, creating the kind of contempt that leads to impasses like these. Few people “there” know anyone from “here”. The demands of the urban elite upon the rural poor seem like tyranny to a people used to being ignored until election season.

  2. anon in so cal

    Jonathan Turley discusses how the 2020 election is like an 11th C “ultimate crusade,” with liberal use of indulgences, wherein which the ends justify the means:

    “on special dispensation given Joe Biden by members of Congress, commentators, and the media. We previously discussed the muted media response to false legal comments from President Barack Obama and other Obama officialson the Flynn case. The pattern of media avoidance is more glaring with recent Biden controversies. Notably, the column ran when Biden gave his interview on the radio show “The Breakfast Club” that “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” This weekend, I was critical of segments on CNN and NBC’s Meet the Press which quoted Biden but cut off the line where he falsely claimed to have received multiple endorsements from the NAACP. CNN’s John King derisively referred to controversy as something people are “trying to make hay” out of and then played the interview.

    However, CNN clipped the tape to leave out the next line where Biden declared “The NAACP has endorsed me every time I’ve run. Come on, take a look at my record.” Despite that invitation to look at his record, CNN and other media routinely cut out the false statement and also omitted any discussion of the false claim linked to the NAACP. On a story about Biden’s claim that all black voters must vote for him (or not be truly black), it would seem material that he also falsely claimed endorsements from the leading organization in the African American community. However, it was routinely omitted from the tape and Biden has not been asked to respond to the rebuttal from the NAACP. It is precisely the type of crafting of the coverage to confine damage for Biden that is discussed in the column.”


    1. JTMcPhee

      I suggest reminding everybody you know that Biden is NOT YET THE NOMINEE. There’s still 17 primaries to be conducted, Bernie only SUSPENDED his campaign and while he’s bent the knee (over backwards, some might observe) he is on all those ballots, and (the pessimists say it’s unlikely, but) he still could win this thing.

      And there’s all this noise from the TDS demanding how anyone with a Dem leaning can resist the logic that Biden is better (a questionable assertion,) so give up the last bit of leverage you have (withholding your vote) unless the Dems come up with actual concrete material benefits that they will do more than just “fight for” (that vapid, feckless notion).

      Biden’s “You ain’t black” Freudian Slop is making maybe enough people of color so pissed off that Joe “I’m damaged goods, but TINA” Biden may have pre-lost the national election.

      Remind your TINA acquaintances that there Are still 5.5 months until the general election, and that is more than enough time to kick Mr. Grimace out of the race in favor of a candidate who has consistently pushed for M4A, debt relief, fair housing, GND and the rest of th majority-favored policies and programs — items which Biden has blown off, to favor the Bribery Class who fund most of his and the CorpoDems’ activities.

      And I wish people would stop calling billionaires and corporate lobbyists “donors:” being a “donor” requires “donative intent,” as in giving a gift without strings. What the PACs and corps and lobbyists and bundlers do is flat out BRIBERY. Call it that, whenever you can.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > And I wish people would stop calling billionaires and corporate lobbyists “donors:” being a “donor” requires “donative intent,” as in giving a gift without strings. What the PACs and corps and lobbyists and bundlers do is flat out BRIBERY. Call it that, whenever you can.

        Good point. We need a word to replace “donor.” To my ear, “briber” sounds awkward, though on the upside, it can be paired with “bribee.”

          1. L.M. Dorsey

            “Patron” is right, but ambiguous these days (a store’s “patron” is also “a client”). Maybe “their betters”?

              1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money


                Let’s go long on this so as to let it sink in:

                Renters of Politico-Mercenary Services.

                (If you accept the jargon, you accept the corruption).


                1. L

                  I think “Investor” is more appropriate as they are not putting in money for free but as a put for future payback.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          awkward…so long as not TOO awkward(TBD)…is a good thing.
          perhaps it sticks in the ear of the Msdnc crowd.
          I’ll try it out when i go to mom’s later…stepdad asked again, “so…yer really not gonna vote for biden?” last night.
          my by now canned response is —without raising my voice—“biden’s a republican, and i don’t vote for them…”…with a brief bullet point of the lowlights of his brilliant career.
          this usually satisfies him, so long as he didn’t get exposed to too much orange badman that morning.
          but he will also more than likely query me further this evening.

        2. Lou Anton

          Bondholders? Maybe “Biden bondsmen?” Something that gets at how they’re not investors (who can be wiped out) but those who have an expectation of being repaid.

        3. hunkerdown


          (Note of passing interest for Lambert: Not long ago I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of a genuine, lifestyle cuckold. Imagine my complete and utter surprise when he turned out to be a Chicago School fanboy and a Milton Friedman stan. With tongue in cheek I wonder, have we deprecated the sexual metaphors too quickly?)

        4. McDee

          How about “investors” I’m sure they are expecting a nice return on their investments.

        5. Bsoder

          No not bribery, sorry, beg to differ. It’s really called ‘funding’. And note the DNC & GOP are not public entities. Meaning, they are private and even if they have published rules as to this or that, they are under no obligation to follow them as in being consistent. And that has been true forever, at least since John Adams tried to re-elected.

          It may be hard but yes indeed they make it up as they go along. I keep reading things the presume to tell me, who’s up to what in these parties, but my firm take away is that nothing that could be considered intelligent or thought out is going on, no planning, just reacting day to day. One problem with being intelligent is that you tend to view the actions of others as intelligent, a logic fallacy. The Guardian piece wants to be profound but it’s just silly, no who, what, when, where, and why. The Democrats, let’s say currently, are alleged to be all pro-billion dollar bz, and not just indifferent but hostile to whatever defines a small bz. I don’t believe it, the lack of writing up the fine print in laws it passes only proves they didn’t write up fine print. One if you are going to claim someone – congress hates you and wants to do you harm, can some proof be provided. Not conjectures and what ifs. If these people could think we wouldn’t be in this mess. And in general throughout history, mostly people didn’t think. So nothing new here, now.

          1. jsn

            The political parties may be the cut-outs, but a bribe is still a bribe regardless of the bag man.

        6. magnolia cul-de-sac


          I raised a lot of money for university clients. The organization or donor giving money for a particular “project” is a “sponsor,” as in “sponsored programs.” LOTS of post-award auditing requirements, which in the case of Hamptons donors probably aren’t as clearly articulated as with federal and foundation funds.

          1. Dr. John Carpenter

            I’m still in favor of forcing pols to wear the logos of their donors like NASCAR drivers do their sponsors. Same thing, different name really.

            1. mle detroit

              How about a simple website — you could look it up — with every elected’s name and face against the shape of their state, surrounded by the logos of their corporate donors or the businesses owned by or employing individuals. For cabinet officers, their former employers. All with Patsy Cline singing “Just remember, darling, you belong to me.”

        7. GramSci

          “Briber” is ok, indeed maybe superior for its plain English, and plain English absence of ambiguity.

      2. Jessica

        So many times in 2016, Trump would say something truly awful and folks who had detested him all along would expect that this time, this awfulness, this was the one that would do him in, but it never did. The same seems to be true for Biden.
        The Fox News (yes, I know) presidential poll shows Biden with the same lead over Trump from January and February (when Biden was coming in 4th and 5th in the early primaries) through to May, except for Trump’s brief rally-round-the-president-in-a-crisis bump in April. The simplest explanation is that the electorate is so polarized and voting so much against the other team and so little for anything that nothing moves the numbers much.

      3. Felix_47

        Like Trump Biden was an active athlete. He was not impaired for sports as a juvenile. Despite that he got out of military service during the Viet Nam era for juvenile asthma yet he was a lifeguard as well. I found his visit to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Arlington phoney and insulting to the many who stood up and gave their lives.. Sanders was a Conscientous Objector and that means he stood up for what he believed. He stood up and told the truth and that was not easy back then. I honor him for it. Biden looked so entitled in the pictures. Well he is not entitled to this veterans vote. It is tough to decide with two draft dodgers running for office but it is amazing how little people change over the years.

    2. John Richmond

      What’s Turley still doing being allowed to be an interpreter for Democrats?

    3. occasional anonymous

      Aside from the ridiculous ‘you ain’t black’ part, what stood out to me most from that interview is just what an all around [glass bowl] Biden is. He comes across as a barely restrained jerk; everything about his tone was aggressive and forced.

      My nephew suggests Biden knows he’s losing his mind and forgetting things, and that makes him permanently frustrated.

      This whole farce really is elder abuse.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > what an all around [glass bowl] Biden is

        Along with the nice guy persona and the smile, I think Biden has a not especially well-concealed vicious streak. The chest-poking stuff, the “vote for the other guy” stuff, and of course the various videos… That’s not necessarily a bad thing in a President, of course.

            1. ambrit

              Have you ever noticed that saints, of whatever stripe, are honoured more after their passing than during their lifetimes? One big problem with saints is that they are inflexible. That’s their main ‘job’ so to speak, to be the standard that we mere mortals are measured against. To that purpose, saints are social constructs, tools to be deployed for particular ends. What is the end to which Biden is to be deployed?
              This election is a big step in the delegitimization of ‘Lesser Evilism’ as a political strategy.

        1. Procopius

          I clicked through on one of those links to the “Creepy Uncle Joe” YouTube video. I hadn’t searched for it before. I gotta say, if I had a thirteen year old daughter and we were up on the stage with some politician and he fondled her like that, he’d be picking himself up off the floor and she’d be standing behind me. The amazing thing was the parents standing there smiling. I grew up in a family where we didn’t even hug. What world are they from?

      2. Dr. John Carpenter

        FWIW, I’ve had three relatives afflicted with Alzheimer’s or dementia and all three had their personalities shift to quick tempered, argumentative and often nasty. Not saying Biden didn’t always have that, but I sure don’t remember having this impression of him as VP.

        And yeah, what really struck me in the whole interview is how indignant he seemed throughout. It wasn’t just the comment at the end. He frequently seemed exasperated and beyond belief that someone could dare question his record. (Not to mention all the times he sputtered out something that was either untrue or nonsensical.) I doubt it will change a thing, but at least if we do get a Trump/Biden debate, it should be a fun watch.

        1. GramSci

          I have had five close relatives/friends descend into Alzheimer’s (4) and visual agnosia dementia (1). All exhibited humor and kindness through my last conversation with them. You reap what you sow is sown in your field.

      3. Bsoder

        I hope you never suffer dementia but if you do, I hope people are kinder to you. Doesn’t matter what Biden does he doesn’t know what he’s doing. He really doesn’t. For that truth, it’s Obama game. And while many of you think Obama and Reagan are soul brothers, my problem with Obama is he tends to be indecisive. Other then wanting to punch trump in the head, I’ve not heard anything consistent, about after punching him, as in “then what?”. If Biden or the like get elected, we are not going to get Obama V2 because things have changed and he has changed. He’s biggest pain in the world is trump as the President and most of Obama worst fears have been realized. I don’t there’s anything left said by trump about Obama. That out if the way, there’s no reason for Obama to feel constrained. It’s all about the fight. Does Obama want to win badly enough?

      4. WheresOurTeddy

        “My nephew suggests Biden knows he’s losing his mind and forgetting things, and that makes him permanently frustrated.”

        Experienced firsthand with aging family members.

      1. albrt

        Biden was very evil before he got dementia.

        Whether that persists is one question. Whether he should be held fully accountable in his current sorry state is another.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Even if what you say is true, which I doubt, do you really want an old and confused man with access to the nuke codes? Or the ability to order troops into harm’s way because he is having an anger attack? Not a good idea this.

  3. JTMcPhee

    “All home price indices are continuing to show home price growth is accelerating year-over-year. It is interesting that the coronavirus had little effect on home prices.”

    Working class, low income, now-unemployed people don’t buy homes, and are facing eviction for nonpayment of rent that they also cannot afford. Lenders are happy to keep the scam going, as are the “Realtors ™” that add 3 or 6% cost to each transaction and are filling my own mailbox with offers to buy my modest house for cash and asking me to ask my neighbors if they are interested in selling {Fock the Realtors ™.} It’s apparently baked in to the consciousness of Murcia that RE will just kep going up, up, up, so get in now while the “opportunity” is there.

    Winners and losers, as usual — PMC works from home. What happens when the corps they cling to discover that there’s a raft of semi- and unemployed keyboard crusaders who are just dying for a low wage, anything, to keep the wolf from the door?

  4. TXMama

    About the masks made with one layer of cotton and two layers of silk, I’m assuming the layers of silk would need to be next to each other to get the electricstatic effect. So maybe the cotton layer next to the face and two layers of silk away from the face. Does this make sense?

  5. Judith

    The seamstress in me was interested in the mask made with two layers of chiffon and one layer of cotton. It turns out that it is not just any chiffon, but specially treated chiffon printed with metal dots of zinc and silver, meaning you cannot try this at home. From the Forbes article:

    Chandan Sen, the paper’s lead author and director of the Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering, previously worked on developing the current-generating fabric for antimicrobial applications. Bioelectric technology company Vomaris Inc currently commercializes the electroceutical fabric for use as a pathogen-killing wound dressing.

    The fabric is polyester printed with little metal dots made of zinc and silver. The geometric, alternating pattern of zinc and silver make microcell batteries which generate an electric field upon exposure to moisture. When used in wound care, the electric field prevents biofilms from forming and reduces the risk of bacterial infection during the healing process.

    Knowing viruses rely on electrostatic forces to assemble and attach to cells, the researchers suspected the electroceutical fabric could be used to destabilize the coronavirus as well.

    As a control for their test, the team used a polyester fabric without the microcell batteries on the surface. They then exposed both fabrics to an aqueous solution containing cells with a respiratory coronavirus at room temperature and allowed it to absorb.

    Their subsequent analysis revealed that just one minute of contact to the electroceutical fabric led to significant reduction in the electrokinetic property of the viral particles. Additionally, researchers monitored the infected cells recovered from the electroceutical fabrics and noticed an absence of the cytopathic effects expected in the presence of viral invasions.

    The team reported the cells from the electroceutical fabric were as healthy as non-infected cells, indicating the virus had lost its infectivity, while cells from the control fabric didn’t receive the same protection.

    1. L

      There was a related project from Korea that involved a mask with layers of copper strips inside. I wonder if they are achieving the same thing.

      1. Darius

        I have found polyester, of the type used in track suits, to be a much more breathable fabric than cotton. I also believe, based on not much more than observation, that the fabric has electrostatic properties. So, I am avoiding cotton masks, in favor of polyester.

        1. hunkerdown

          1. Pore size distribution is complexly correlated with effectiveness
          2. Knit pores will stretch and deform. They’re made to. That is not appropriate for filter media.
          3. Are you sure that material(S) has(ve) the correct electrostatic properties at the nano level? Are you sure that particles aren’t going to be accelerated into your lung?

    2. knot galt

      There is also a product(s) out there that have pure silver as the fabric which is claimed to have anti-viral properties and reduce viral potency. It is defined as a sanitizing cloth w/ 99.99% silver purchased from a holistic shop in Southern California.

    3. Lost in OR

      Here is the original study (I think): https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsnano.0c03252

      What they are calling “Chiffon” seems to be a loose reference to a number of synthetic fabrics like Lycra, spandex, and others. Not at all how I understand “chiffon”.

      The study calls out two separate filter strategies: a mechanical filter consisting of high fiber count cotton; and an electrostatic filter consisting of silk, wool, chiffon, or flannel (a poly/cotton blend). What the study does not state is which charge (positive or negative) is most effective against the virus. Or, would a combination of fabrics that would include each electrostatic charge in addition to the cotton (they tested/recommended 600 threads per inch).

  6. NotTimothyGeithner

    so what difference would one more make? (Re: Webb and Allen)

    I think with Allen there was a sense of holding back. People wouldn’t commit to vote Democratic because they didn’t expect to win. Those same people started to volunteer when the “rumors” were confirmed.

    Biden has been “branded” as gaffe prone, but it reaches a point where he hasn’t been making gaffes. If Biden had gone on Charlemagne’s program and missed an acronym, that’s a gaffe, but he really said and in a prepared way that he has power over the lives of African Americans and that they better vote for them or risk becoming nothing. “Black” and so forth were once used to separate black skinned people from humanity. The phrase was taken back and used for self identity, but Biden’s gaffe’s risk a George Allen moment as they will confirm what was known. Those Allen stories were out there. I went to UVA and was a Democrat, so I heard from people who knew Allen then.

    People who wouldn’t say anything or be confrontational will now be confrontational. The local Democrats who serve as front men for Team Blue elites will be more under the microscope than they were, and Team Blue elites hid behind Obama’s persona for so long I expect them to just be awful in response.

    Going back to Allen, there are stories about Allen similar in nature to the stories about his less than stellar position on civil rights that I won’t say because I heard them through the same grapevine. But Allen confirming that set of rumors made people say out loud what they always knew and shared in secret.

    Lets be honest, Jim Webb was the lesser evil in the Democratic primary. Yeesh, the Warner backed candidate went around bragging about how he knew Warner so well that Warner tried to get him to invest in stocks Warner had insider knowledge about when he wasn’t yammering on about how great the Iraq War was.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > He really said and in a prepared way that he has power over the lives of African Americans and that they better vote for them or risk becoming nothing.

      I follow some of Black Twitter (no celebrities) and that’s how they seem to be talking it. Twitter isn’t “the real world, of course.

      Thanks for the material on Allen, which brings back memories… Didn’t Allen stuff a severed animal’s head into somebody’s mailbox?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        A deer’s head in a black neighborhood. So it wasn’t even a prank, it was meant as terror.


        The other item about the 2006 Senate race is Allen’s total vote number was probably what they expected would be a win at the time. The turnout was stupendous in areas where the congressional campaigns were working, not Webb’s senate campaign.

        My personal experience is that Allen’s taped moment wasn’t a revelation but confirmation.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          This is another reason to run a 50 state strategy. You can’t take advantage of an Allen esque event without candidates and strong field operations not in place. Maddow can rage about random GOP state senators (her old act before OMG Russia), but she just preaches to the choir.

  7. NotTimothyGeithner

    even more substantive policy legacy than his former boss

    So basically if Biden passes something like ADA, he would pretty much outdo Obama. Not to dismiss ADA, but Obama set a low bar.

    1. ambrit

      I can see Hillary and her co-president passing an ACA, (American Coronavirus Act.) Such a bill would contain everything but the Kitchen Sink issues that are important to the non-donor classes of America.

    2. knot galt

      The strength of the ADA is that is essentially a civil rights law. Not that it is going to happen, but if i wanted to do SINGLE PAYER, I’s set up the law just like the ADA?

  8. cocomaan

    My home state of PA has been pushing mail in ballots. However I’m hearing about a good number of people not receiving their ballot for the primary.

    As a result, I have zero faith in our election commission to pull off mail in ballots this year. I do not think they have the competence to make it happen. They seem understaffed and overstressed. Their computer systems seem non-existent. People who are applying for ballots after others are getting theirs first. Montgomery County, where covid hit the worst, seems to be the most affected, as their Post offices are not performing services on time. Weeks will pass between when a mail in ballot was requested and when it arrives.

    Then, when you thought things were bad enough, they start to close polling places.

    The Philadelphia Board of City Commissioners released a plan Tuesday night to open 190 polling places, down from the 831 used in last November’s municipal election.

    My guess is that Pennsylvania is going to become an epicenter of contested ballots, long lines, and general mayhem. We were already a swing state. I don’t know who is in charge of this, whether it’s partisan, but it is definitely poisoning the well for all of us. It’s going to be worse than Hanging Chads. I see nothing good coming of it.

    I’m thinking of becoming an election observer just to watch this storm go down in person.

    1. Darthbobber

      Got my ballot six days after applying online. Mailed it today, from the post office.

      Nobody I know reported problems, and virtually everyone I know who votes is doing so by mail. My biggest concern right now is that given the post office they should have been encouraging mailing sooner than their guidance has been.

      I do think there will be enough done by mail to make the number of polling places adequate.

      Which means we won’t have a good measure of the other problem. Those machines first used in the November city elections, that seemed to take 2 or 3 times as long per voter as their predecessors.

    2. CitizenSissy

      Greetings from Montgomery County, and totally confirm what you’ve described. I haven’t yet received my mail-in ballot, requested three weeks ago, and forget getting through to Voter Services. I’ve enjoyed going to the polls in the past, but was concerned enough about the longtime elderly poll workers to switch to mail-in. The County has set up walk-in dropoff locations throughout the County and is encouraging voters to submit completed ballots that way. This election is important enough for me to make the extra effort. I may show up in person in Norristown in the fall to make damn sure I receive the GE ballot.

  9. Amfortas the hippie

    re: soil borne pathogens.
    rotation, covercropping, etc.
    similarly to the idea of not leaving bare soil…so the weeds can’t even germinate…build up the “good bugs” in the dirt and the “bad bugs” can’t get a toe-hold.
    I’ve rarely had an issue with fusarium, etc…occasional powdery mildew on squashes, but that’s brought in by various bugs, and can be controlled by careful watering, and allowing the leaves to dry out.
    the whole premise behind “Organic Agriculture” is not that you’re growing awesome tomatoes. You’re growing healthy, diverse and therefore robust soil microbiota….which leads, might near necessarily, to awesome tomatoes(or whatever) growing IN that soil.
    healthy soil=>healthy plants, able to resist whatever bug or pestilence happens along.
    chemical fertilisers harm the microbiota, which makes whatever you grow there less resilient.
    the conventional farmland all around me is a case study in this…especially compared to the dirt in my beds.
    lifeless, and with hardly any biological material at all, save for the dried up shreds of the various poverty weeds.
    If i obtained my neighbor’s field, first thing i’d do is import a bunch of manure…next, i’d let the careless weed and sticker burrs grow wild for a couple of years, then i’d plant lovegrass(likes dry and hot, and builds up organic material fast, and chokes out those poverty weeds(and, along with that manure,makes it too rich for them, too)) and leave it be for a few years while planting trees(as irrigation allowed)give me ten years, and i’d turn that sand into dirt, and then into soil.
    of course, such patient working With Nature is inimical to short term profit…so nobody does this but weirdo druid types like me.
    and it does take a long time to rehabilitate…even after ten years, it wouldn’t be ready for anything but being a pasture with trees…fit for sheep and geese and maybe a few goats.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > of course, such patient working With Nature is inimical to short term profit…so nobody does this but weirdo druid types like me.

      If there were a real Green New Deal, there could be a “Make the Great Plains Great Again” program, which rehabiliated the soil.

      (Amfortas is talking on the scale of a farmer, but his remarks are true for gardens as well, in the sense that improving the soil is a project that is fun, ultimately improves yield, but (most importantly to me) makes the garden more of a pleasure to the eye, since more living things grow (plant and animal).

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        a Farm is just a Big Garden,lol.
        or, rather, it likely should be.
        Another thing I really dig about doing things this way is the critters.
        frogs, various dragonflies, Not Fireant Ants of myriad shapes and sizes, lizards, bees…
        all indicators that i haven’t gone too crazy in my war on hoppers.
        I watched two lizards mate, today…right there in front of god and everybody and my 14 yo,lol.
        and a frog scared the hell out of me before that.
        all kinds of things going on in the undergrowth.

      2. Charger01

        This was covered in Tim Egans “worst hard time” about the XIT ranch and sodbusters. They tried to tame the prairie, and the NRCS was the best that congress could cough up.

      3. Procopius

        The Department of Agriculture did something like that during The Depression to counter the causes of the Dust Bowl. My grandfather showed me photographs of an erosion gully that took up a quarter of one of his fields. The County Agent taught him and his hired man contour plowing, and by the time I was visiting there was no indication left of the gully. He (and his hired man, Hank) really appreciated the Department of Agriculture. No Small Government for them. In fact, during my childhood the Department of Agriculture had the most impact on everyone’s life. Then Reagan brought in the doctrine that every government agency needed to at least support itself with fees, or even make a profit (run government like a business).

  10. John Richmond

    Nice Water Cooler.

    1. Minneapolis. What’s going on up there? This is the third national prominent police-involved killing we’ve heard about?
    2. George R.R. Martin: Not the end of GOT. The beginning of anachronisms.
    3. Not having read Mr Amade’s column yet — sounds like a solid critique.
    4. Johns Hopkins: What Lambert said. I hope my friend who works there can keep his job. And the people he supervises too.
    5. Imperial College: some states like Virginia and California are really, really heterogenous. Rural areas might be able to reopen but urban areas like LA, Richmond, northern Virginia may need a few more weeks. Except Virginia is really behind on testing. My acquaintance Brad Kutner has particulars: https://www.courthousenews.com/virginia-struggles-with-testing-theres-not-nearly-enough-supply/
    6. H/T friend and neighbor Jimmy for suggesting this blog to me long ago.

    1. YetAnotherChris

      Re: Minneapolis Police: There have been far more than three incidents. The murder of Justine Damond resulted in a $20M payout:


      And that was a result of (take your pick): the novelty of a white woman killed by black officer?:


      The thin blue line refusing to support the subsequently convicted officer, a known psychopath?:


      International outrage as Damond was Australian?:


      or the MPD union being suffused with white supremacy?:


      In this instance we’ll see how much a black life really matters. Terrance Franklin’s family got ~$800K, minus attorney’s fees:


      The boys in blue keep putting Minneapolis on the map. They are literally the worst thing about this town, and that includes the weather.

      1. John Richmond

        Three was just what I could think of in the last couple of years — I’m sorry to hear there’s even more. Minneapolis is on my bucket list BTW — in large part because it has a good reputation for bicyclists. Richmond is taking baby steps toward being sneaky good though.

        So at the extreme the life of a white Australian is worth 25x that of a black American…

  11. Jason Boxman

    Shorter Biden, so there is no ambiguity:

    I believe health care is a right, and I reject the only proposal that secures that right for you. (See also, Lambert’s rules for neoliberalism.)

    For fun, replace health care with other publicly provisioned, universal goods, and see if it likewise lacks coherence.

    1. Quentin

      Every one has access to health care, as long as you pay for it. No one is depriving you of health care. You’re depriving yourself because you refuse to pay for it. Whether you pay or not, you have access to health care, even if you don’t pay health care remains available until you do. How can anyone not get the gist of the hypocrisy about health care? Oh my, let’s get back on course, ‘You’re right to health care has been put in place for as long as anyone can remember. Just get your head together and pay for it.’ The politicians like, let’s say, Pelosi, I suppose, ‘honestly’ believe health care is available to every one. That is, unless you’re too stupid not to have the money she does. The whole scam is a play on words by the Democrats. Where does her moolah come from anyway?

        1. Robert Gray

          And it’s illegal for rich and poor alike to sleep beneath Blackfriars Bridge (or however that goes).

        2. Quentin

          That’s the screw on which the whole perversion turns. In principle there is no difference between health care and a yacht. Both are commodities. You have the right to both. Now try and get them…pay, steal or do without. Only no one can do without health care. A yacht is optional.

            1. skippy

              If I may my lady … the core of libertarianism [atomistic individualism] is self ownership E.g. all property is subject to commodification, rights attributed too it is an influenced legal opinion.

              I’ve had this core debate endlessly with economic libertarians and AET sorts, its a corner stone of which all other aspects are built on.

              Even had a high level operative that was quite active in social media call me a deviant for calling this perspective into question – best bit … ex air force officer and working for a MIC venture.

              1. BillS

                One does not have to be a christian to see how atomistic individualism flies in the face of more than 2000 years of European thought. Your life does not belong just to you, but to God, the Sovereign, your friends, community and family. Hence its value is not so easily established as, for example, a car or hammer.

                Modern democracies (should) recognize this in their constant balancing of individual rights with collective responsibility. It’s an important part of the social contract.

                1. skippy

                  Firstly thank you for your considered response BillS.

                  Sadly I don’t share your views, would be a better world if it what you propose held, various churches these days spread the gospel of wealth as the creators captains picks, not unlike say Hudson or anthro’s views on whom distributes a nations wealth [you can eat it] for services rendered.

                  My thrust was solely on the dominate axiom of libertarianism and its effects on orthodox economics or social political views.

                  1. BillS

                    Thank you for your thoughts skippy. I agree that various “evangelical” churches spreading a “wealth gospel” is a terrible problem..especially in Africa. This is a Protestant doctrine that has roots in Calvinism and is opposed to the more “collectivist” doctrines of the Catholic Church. It’s true that religion has always been used a cover to spread toxic ideas. The 30 Year’s War for example saw Catholic armies fighting for Protestant princes – and vice versa, when those princes deemed it in their interest. Calvinistic Netherlands comes to mind (it’s no accident that modern capitalism has strong roots there!)

                    My point was that the core philosophical basis of the Western World – Greco-Roman-Christian – which dominates our moral philosophy, is not completely individualistic. Radical individualism is a very recent idea (the last 500 years or so) and modern economics reflects this more than it does the underlying philosphical basis of Western thought.

                    1. skippy

                      Its curious that the RCC has a concept of commonweal where latter day churches do not, its convoluted at best.

                      Yet my tribulations with an old NC commenter Beard stands on my views.

      1. Bsoder

        Quentin, wait clearly the Republicans don’t want anyone to have healthcare, and you argue by way of magic that nor do Dems, so when that happens I think the etiquette is ‘both parts are corporatists, etc., etc.,” Just alike. But, it’s the people that are stupid. Each person. Because that’s the way it is each person v. Nature. Soon on Disney+.

  12. Jason Boxman

    That’s a shame about the Hopkins; It was a research leader in the 1918 pandemic, and indeed was the preeminent institution that trained the original group of physicians and medical researchers in “modern” medical practices, which we imported from Europe. (Replacing blood letting and other insanities; granted we have our own insanities today, such as prescription drugs that aren’t safe, fee for service, EHRs, and so on.)

    But the business of American is grift.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Read the whole article for even more horrid detail. The top administrators are paying themselves lavishly while cutting payments to faculty pensions.

      The university as an institution has persisted for over a thousand years. It took neoliberalism only 40 years to undermine and loot the whole delicate structure. It’s appalling.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I’m at that stage with pretty much everything. This point in Empire is really disgusting, when the aristocracy absolutely loot anything and everything left that’s not bolted down. Red and Blue is meaningless, the depths of their cravenness and unbelievable greed is without bounds. Would that they were just honest about it but oh, no, we have to hear all about the “Cares” Act and the “Heroes” Act, smiling Nancy and Donald sprinkling crumbs while the Big End of Town just ramraid the entire economy to scoop up even more loot and scurry off with it. I hope Hell is really big because each and every last one of them deserve a permanent place in it.

        1. rowlf

          I think it’s near the end of the looting stage. It has progressed to the whining that there is very little family silverware or other valuables left to sell.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            The absolutely infuriating part is that if they released their grasp on just a *tiny* portion of their loot (with, say, a minimum wage of $15) the economy would absolutely boom, making their stocks and their real estate go, I dunno, up, without all of the skullduggery/financial parlour tricks/money printing required, that, I dunno, makes their stocks actually worth *less* by debasing the currency.

            But no. The monkey just *will not* release his grip on the fruit inside the jar, or in this case inside the calabash, until it kills him:


  13. John

    RE: Why isn’t it considered bad behavior to find a mid sized company, load it up with debt, strip it of its valuable assets

    Dearest internet, please create a Canary Mission site for the private equity vultures who are feasting upon the flesh of the world leaving only rotten carrion and excrement in their wake.

    Please name them, shame them, post pictures, and include a list of their fine accomplishments. Something so that even the simplest of the citizens can appreciate their fine behavior and marvel in their success.

    1. Bsoder

      Shot on sight would do fine. Morals sad to say, aren’t science, no such thing as moral facts, except what the crowd say. If your lucky, if not it’s the mob. People often confuse legal with ‘gotta way with it’ with ‘good’, with right before it worked, it all failed.

  14. dcblogger

    At the time of the incident in Breaks Virginia, Allen was 17 points ahead of Webb. After late night comedians put Allen in the clown car Webb eked out a narrow victory.

    Biden does not need an incident. Biden has coronavirus. Currently Biden is polling 2 points ahead in Utah. Even if that does not hold, who cares? Biden was never planning on winning Utah.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Why does it matter? A few things is you want Democrats to win.

      -Biden’s gain over Hillary’s result largely appears to be with the 65+ crowd in the midst of the message Trump is an aberration message. Will we see split ticket voting? This could be a disaster for the House election. Hillary for her second most votes evah! managed to not have coattails.

      -How does the Democratic base react to a very public racist in the White House? Especially when Biden doubles down on his views which are terrible. He won’t have an internet boom to fall back on. 1994 wasn’t a good year for the Democratic Party.

      -Unless you believe, Biden is going to be a secret progressive, there are obvious problems with Biden not just in this cycle but the mid terms and the reelection when he demonstrates his actual ability.

      -The well liked Obama only led Team Blue to 1000 seats lost against a party led by Mitch McConnell and ushered in the Trump Presidency. What can a dumb and unpopular Obama do?

      1. Bsoder

        Racism in America sure didn’t help. Death squads coming from grannie didn’t help. Not knowing about MMT didn’t help – stimulus was way to low didn’t help. Republicans as a matter of faith saying they’d never do one thing to help didn’t – help. Obama is many things dumb isn’t one, you try getting into an law school and staying in. Harvard, on the other hand – go sit in on some classes, see how it works out. Unpopular with who? Trump?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Biden would be a dumb and unpopular Obama. Try following along.

          I didn’t apply to Harvard Law, but I did get to undergrad. The selectivity is higher. If we are going to make it about Harvard.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            We’re arguing over what is in their brains but we should be arguing over what is in their hearts.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              My general view is empathy leads to critical thinking. Lex Luthor type villains are myths, and real villains are exemplified by Obama’s ACA website debacle. He simply had no interest in monitoring the rollout of his “signature” program. He said, we aren’t that stupid to say this would be like Kayak and then have this happen, but he was too stupid to bother to check. My belief is this starts with his lack of empathy.

  15. John

    “What About the Rotten Culture of the Rich?” To paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald Tom and Daisy were careless people. They smashed things up and moved on leaving it to others to clear up their mess. Thus the culture of the rich.

    1. Geo

      Can the working class “Go Galt”? I think we should. Let “the makers” have their utopia without us burdensome leeches demanding paychecks and humane conditions for our labor.

    2. Bsoder

      Having been place in a state wide foster care system, I’d say the poor to middle class do a pretty good job of smashing things up and moving in to jail or the mental institutions When they moved on’, as the rich. Better really.

  16. Deschain

    Re: face shields – I’m sure someone in Silicon Valley is feverishly working on a plan to resurrect Google Glass as an antipandemic measure

    1. Geo

      Just think of how much more immersive the augmented reality will be on a full face shield then just some little eye glasses! And social distancing will be a breeze since we’ll all have our Pokémon buddies to hang out with while we wander blindly into traffic seeking the next prize.

      I may learn to code so I can create an AR game called “Lemming Adventure: Expedited Evolution”.

  17. boydowntheline

    In re: playing with toy trains: HamiltonBooks in northwest Connecticut offers a “remainder” for $12.95 of the book “Playing With Trains” by Sam Posey. “Posey, a former Grand Prix race driver, recounts his experiences with model trains, from childhood to building his masterpiece layout–based on the historic Colorado Midland–which took him sixteen years to create, and then moves beyond his Connecticut layout to see what makes the top modelers tick. 16 pages of photos. 217 pages”


  18. Geo

    “Changing Southwest may bring Democrats a milestone win”

    I love how Dems wait for demographic shifts so they can potentially win races. Not policies people want or inspire people with a vision… nope! Just the ever elusive demographic change they’ve been talking about for decades that has gotten them to where they are now. Might as well wait for continental drift to fix gerrymandering too.

    Real question is: Are they truly this dumb or are they assuming we are this dumb and will not notice the grift behind the charade?

  19. dk

    “University Leaders Are Failing” [Chronicle of Higher Education]

    I have a close friend who is an assistant chairperson of a department at a small school, the department is one of the schools few moneymakers for years.

    The school speculated on an extensive new main building about 7 years ago, since then it has done all the things now happening at Johns Hopkins: hiring freeze, canceled raises and actually reduced some salaries, furloughs and layoffs (I think retirement fund contributions were reduced too but not sure).

    My friend has been working by herself practically around the clock since mid-February developing full curricula and materials for online courses, for spring, summer, and fall semesters. She will receive no extra compensation, which is in addition to her regular course load. I fear the school will sell her work, uncredited, as a remaining asset when it fails.

    1. Marksparky

      I wonder how much of this is due to the current makeup of Regents or top Trustees at the universities–they’re often big-money donors, often meaning developers. Suggesting ‘build, baby, build!’

      1. dk

        It was something like that at her school, yes.

        Corruption leads with the friendly smile and the glad hand, the sweet word, presenting the best of intentions, the best. The pitch was that modern parents and students would be turned off by historic buildings. The modernist monstrosity ran far over budget, the lecture halls have poor acoustics and electrical problems, and the school was partially closed for several years during construction, further impacting revenues.

  20. Geo

    “So I guess we can kiss Game of Thrones goodbye, then?”

    In a way, this is kind of a perfect ending to the series. Maybe a bit of a meta ending but still perfect. Martin has officially taken his throne and now just plays with his riches while his people – the ones who elevated him to his throne – are abandoned and starved of their hopes and needs.

    Well played Martin. You truly are a king.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      My suspicion is the “response to LOTR” (I remember hearing this) is just a few critiques such as “there is no sex” (not GRRM’s critique specifically) “or that isn’t how power works” that are mostly meaningless strung together with a bunch of cool stuff, really with no overall point which is more of a meditation on the individual within a Catholic framework rather than the inner workings of the bureaucracy of Minas Tirith. In a sense, I could read a history book to get a bunch of cool stuff, meandering along with no real point. I’m guessing he knows he has no chance to stick landing.

      GRMM is a smart guy and has wiped out in two sets of major characters (I assume Cersei’s trial isn’t an invention of HBO as its way too awesome) in an effort to stick the landing.

  21. allan

    The worst Attorney General in American history ups his game:

    Ryan J. Reilly @ryanjreilly

    Trump DOJ claims Alabama’s absentee ballot witness requirement doesn’t violate the Voting Rights Act: [Image and link to Council of Conservative Citizens DOJ propaganda press release]

    1:38 PM · May 26, 2020·

  22. John k

    They butchered the last crisis. Based on what metric?
    The bankers don’t think anything was butchered. Likewise big corps in general.
    And what did they learn? That no matter how bad the policy is for the country, for homeowners, for minorities or the working class, so long as you do what the donors want you will always be rewarded. Always.
    So if Biden wins and sweeps in with the Obama grifters, that is exactly what they will do.

  23. steve

    skookum red’s flower is very pretty, but I think it has been misidentified. Both the flower and the leaves are atypical for Star magnolia.

  24. polecat

    Squaring the round ..

    I think the word you’re looking for is ‘caisson’. Securing the Pit as it were, so as to open the gates of Hyper-Neoliberal Hell .. WIDER!

    By the way Biden+BlackMask+Shades=the Pale Horseman – 21st Century style..

    1. Acacia

      @polecat Yes, I was just going to comment how even a mask doesn’t seem to reduce Biden’s creepy factor. Maybe he should just go for a balaclava or full-on Jason hockey mask?

  25. allan

    Mathematics of Nested Districts: The Case of Alaska [arXiv.org]

    Abstract: In eight states, a “nesting rule” requires that each state Senate district be exactly composed of two adjacent state House districts [A rules-based technocratic fix! Like the V-chip, it’s gotta work, right?] In this paper we investigate the potential impacts of these nesting rules with a focus on Alaska, where Republicans have a [SPOILER ALERT] 2/3 majority in the Senate while a Democratic-led coalition controls the House [how can that be?, you ask]. Treating the current House plan as fixed and considering all possible pairings, we find that the choice of pairings alone can create a swing of 4-5 seats out of 20 against recent voting patterns, which is similar to the range observed when using a Markov chain procedure to generate plans without the nesting constraint [Oops]. The analysis enables other insights into Alaska districting, including the partisan latitude available to districters with and without strong rules about nesting and contiguity.

    To paraphrase Michael Corleone,
    If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can gerrymander anyone.

  26. cripes

    Portfolio Manager Amy Cooper at Franklin Templeton investments makes fraudulent assault charge in 911 call because black man asks her to leash her dog in Central Park while she strangles the dog throughout entire video.


    There’s your Professional Managerial Class at work.
    This despicable creep issues a creepy no-agency CYA statement worthy of an HR Dept no-answer-answer apologizing for everything except her ugly behavior.
    Templeton threw her under the bus, figuratively anyway.

    Thank god the dog is safe back at the shelter.

  27. VietnamVet

    The Coronavirus Pandemic is another chance to watch the “Shock Doctrine” at work. The US federal government is not going to spend the money necessary to control the pandemic. Anything left of value will be seized by the exploiters. The longer pandemic lasts the better for the amoral ruling class. The unfortunate side effect is that information on how to survive is in short supply. For the next couple of years, thanks to NC, avoid dark dank crowded human “bat caves”. Sunny pool parties likely are of less of a risk. But the horrors of the disease and the real risks of catching it are mostly hidden to increase re-opening profit margins unless publishing it aids the media moguls’ campaign against populists. By next summer, perhaps, a ranking of risky behaviors will be known. Except, if the coronavirus deaths spike again, it is very likely that an uprising of the left-behinds against the arrogant aristocracy will have ignited.

  28. The Rev Kev

    “Democrats are fueling a corporate counter-revolution against progressives”

    I have read this twice and for the life of me, it sounds like a Jimmy Dore rant that has been cleaned up and the swear words taken out of it. Then again, whether Jimmy Dore or David Sirota say it, the facts are just the same. The progressives sided with both parties to send trillions to the top end of the town while throwing the other 300 million under the bus – repeatedly.

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