2:00PM Water Cooler 5/5/2020

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. I have changed to a logarithmic scale for US States and territories.

New York’s geometric growth continues at 1.01. Nevertheless, remember this chart?

Or this one?

Now, “flattening the curve” and “the hammer and the dance” both went, er, viral. But things seem not to have worked out. We seem not to be getting to the flattening part. And the political class — not just Orange Hitler, but the political class as a whole — seems to have given up on that. It would be hard to find a clearer indication that the United States is a failed state. Of course — “And suddenly, a miracle occurs!” — there’s always the possibility of a vaccine, but right now all we’re seeing is an enormous subsidy for Big Pharma to build production lines for products that more likely than not will fail. Better than paying people to dig holes in the ground and then fill them up, I suppose. At least there’s some upside potential.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

* * *

Biden (D)(1): “Secretary of Senate declines to disclose information on Tara Reade complaint against Biden” [The Hill]. “The Secretary of the Senate has informed former Vice President Joe Biden that it has ‘no discretion to disclose’ the existence of former aide Tara Reade’s complaint of sexual assault against the then-senator in 1993…. On Friday, he wrote to Secretary of the Senate Julie Adams asking ‘that you take or direct whatever steps are necessary to establish the location of the records of this Office, and once they have been located, to direct a search for the alleged complaint and to make public the results of this search.'” • Lol, as if whoever is operating Biden didn’t already know that the answer to this request would be “no.” Come on, man.

Biden (D)(2): “I Believe Tara Reade. And You Should, Too” [The Nation]. “[Reade’s neighbor’s] evidence supplements several other accounts that corroborate elements of Reade’s story—from her brother, two anonymous friends, a former colleague, and footage from Reade’s late mother, who called into Larry King Live a few months after the alleged incident in 1993 to seek advice on behalf of her daughter. Given this strong evidence, why are many people still refusing to believe Tara Reade? Among the primary reasons: an unwillingness to believe that Biden is ‘the type’ and sheer political inconvenience… We know, alas, that Biden is the type.” Did whoever “vetted” Biden not know how to search for photos and videos? More: “We may want to believe in him for a litany of reasons: because we know him, because we like him, or because—as is the case here—we feel we need him to be innocent. But these reasons add up to little more than the basis for highly motivated reasoning: post hoc rationalizations for the foregone conclusion that of course he didn’t do it.”

Sanders (D)(1): “Ex-Sanders aide criticizes Super PAC formed by senator’s former staffers” [The Hill]. “Nina Turner, former co-chairwoman of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) presidential campaign, on Thursday said that she does not support her former colleagues who are creating Super PACS to support Democrats in the upcoming general election. Jeff Weaver, a former senior aide of the Sanders campaign, announced Wednesday the launch of a Super PAC aimed at rallying progressives behind former Vice President Joe Biden. One of the major pillars of the Sanders campaign was its rejection of big-dollar donations and PAC money. ‘I don’t support the creation of that Super PAC; the senator certainly does not support the creation of that Super PAC either,’ Turner said on Hill TV’s “Rising” Thursday. The Super PAC will include Chuck Rocha, a senior Sanders adviser who led the campaign’s Latino outreach, Tim Tagaris, who was in charge of Sanders’s digital fundraising operations, and Shelli Jackson, the Sanders campaign’s deputy director in California.” • So the professionals were the scorpions in the fable of the Scorpion and the Frog: “It’s my nature.” I had also been assiuming that the infrastructure of the Sanders movement was unitary, and could simply be adapted to new purposes; e.g., supporting strikers. But it seems that the Sanders movement, insofar as it is or was embodied in a campaign, was riven by an enormous contradiction between those driven by principle and, well, mercenaries. Big lesson there; the campaign model is not suitable.

Sanders (D)(3): “Find Berniecrat candidates and chapters in your state here!” [Local Berniecrats]. “Current total candidates listed for 2020: 248.”

Trump (R)(1): “Trump’s Covid-19 Reckoning Is Only the Beginning” [The Nation]. “Finally, the relationship between the federal government and the states is now in tatters. As The Washington Post reports, ‘Trump’s interactions with the states during the time were jarringly inconsistent. One day, he called himself a wartime president with total authority; the next day, he said he was merely President Backup, there to help states as he deems necessary.’ Former Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius told the newspaper, ‘The administration seems to have washed their hands of it and said [to governors], we’re out of it. You’re on your own. Figure it out.'” • If Trump had ordered New York to shut down early, would Cuomo and DiBlasio have obeyed? More: “[B]eyond partisan recrimination, there’s much in the Covid-19 crisis that implicates the entire political class, including Democrats. Oxford University sociologist Gina Neff notes that the three major sites of Covid-19 clusters are ‘prisons, meat packing plants and nursing homes.’… There was never a real reckoning with the policy failures that led to 9/11. A major task for progressives in the coming years will be to make sure that mistake isn’t repeated with the pandemic.” • No, it won’t.

Trump (R)(2): “How Trump has broken the polls” [Harry Enten, CNN]. “The polls clearly show that Biden is ahead and by a larger margin than Hillary Clinton was on the eve of the 2016 election. You might think that would make people believe that Biden is more likely to win, even if it were far from a certainty.. Yet, the evidence suggests that Trump’s surprising 2016 victory has warped people into believing that Trump has some magic up his sleeve. They don’t believe he will lose. An average of recent polls finds that a majority of voters (about 55%) believe that Trump will defeat Biden in the election. Trump’s edge on this question has remained fairly consistent over time.” • Interestingly, in 2018, the polls predicted the Democrats would do well. Voters didn’t believe it. I made a bad call — but I was where the voters were!

Stats Watch

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

Manufacturing: “US, Global Manufacturing Undergoes Sharpest Contraction since 2009” [Industry Week]. ” the Institute for Supply Management said its Purchasing Manager’s Index for manufacturers fell to 41.5% in April, down 7.6 points from March’s reading of 49.5%. Chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee Timothy Fiore noted that comments from the panel of surveyed manufacturing executives were “strongly negative regarding the near-term outlook, with sentiment clearly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and continuing energy market recession. This marks the third straight month of the ISM’s PMI contracting, and it is currently contracting faster than previously…. Contraction was spread out evenly among almost every manufacturing division… Two new reports from IHS Markit on global and domestic U.S. manufacturing feature similar results. They also show manufacturing production at its lowest output since the 2008/2009 financial crisis.” • Then I suppose we’ve got some way to go before we hit bottom.

* * *
Retail: “At Overloaded Thrift Shops, Coronavirus Is Wreaking Havoc” [Bloomberg]. “If one thing has seemed to unite Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s spring cleaning. With stay-at-home orders in effect, a long-delayed clearing-out of basements, closets, back bedrooms and desk drawers has become a popular way to pass the time. One result is that America’s thrift stores are informally reporting unprecedented volumes of donations. And that’s creating a problem that goes far beyond finding a loving home for your old sweaters. The thrift industry is more important than most Americans realize. Largely out of sight, it employs tens of thousands of people and generates at least $18 billion in annual revenue. It keeps an enormous amount of used stuff out of landfills, and contributes billions each year to social-service and job-training programs that are crucial to communities nationwide. Those services are more important than ever in a pandemic. But to sustain them, Americans will have to take more care in donating their used stuff.” • I don’t want to be too ghoulish, but “spring cleaning” isn’t the only reason I can think of to clear a house of its possessions….

Shipping: “Container shipping lines are operating in a financial holding pattern in hopes of outlasting the coronavirus-driven global trade downturn. Capacity cuts have so far helped carriers limit the damage, but Hapag-Lloyd AG Chief Executive Rolf Habben Jansen [says] that some top 10 shipping lines may not survive if a recovery in freight demand doesn’t begin in the third quarter” [Wall Street Journal]. “The outcomes could include outright collapse of a carrier, although an ongoing economic decline would more likely lead to a revival of the consolidation that narrowed the list of the world’s biggest shipping lines in recent years. Carriers so far are cutting costs by holding down capacity, helping keep freight rates steady even as volumes decline. Shipping analyst Peter Sand of BIMCO said in a report that the tactic is only masking the disastrous effect that the coronavirus is having on their bottom lines.”

Shipping: “How canceled sailings will impact US ports – and when” [American Shipper]. “Container lines have “blanked” (canceled) an unprecedented number of sailings to bring capacity in line with coronavirus-stricken cargo demand. Blank-sailings data is a key leading indicator for U.S. ports, cargo shippers, truckers and railways. A container ship that doesn’t depart from Asia equates to a container ship that doesn’t arrive on the U.S. West Coast two to three weeks later, or on the East Coast four to five weeks later. What matters to American businesses is U.S. port arrivals, not foreign departures. American businesses want to know exactly how much arrival capacity will be reduced, exactly when it will be reduced, and how this reduced capacity will compare year-on-year…. Simon Sundboell, founder and CEO of eeSea, told FreightWaves, ‘If you look at July arrivals, cancellations were only 2% three weeks ago and now they are around 10%. The question is whether July, August and September will go up to the 19-21% range. They could definitely go up. ‘The carriers already know what sort of [cargo] orders they have today, for example, for a ship leaving from Singapore three months from now, and they also know the capacity utilization they should be at for that ship three months before departure,’ he said. If current bookings stay too low compared to historical norms, carriers increase blank sailings to compensate. ‘This is why blank sailings are a hugely important leading indicator,” said Sunboell, who likened the data to a purchasing manager’s index for container-line purchasing managers.””

Shipping: “At least five workers at FedEx Corp.’s Newark, N.J., air hub have died of complications from the virus… prompting queries from New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker over working conditions at the ai-express facility. The deaths along with those of two United Parcel Service Inc. workers in Louisville are a sign of the toll the outbreak is taking on delivery workers and the challenges companies face as they begin to reopen businesses in some U.S. states” [Wall Street Journal]. “FedEx says it has diverted some freighters from Newark to reduce the number of people needed to work there and is taking steps including use of protective equipment to protect workers at a hub that sits at the heart of a region with a large coronavirus outbreak.”

Supply Chain: “Rotting food. Hungry masses. Chaotic supply chains. Coronavirus upends the U.S. food system” [Los Angeles Times]. “In less time than it takes a farmer to plant and harvest a head of lettuce, the nation’s entire food industry has been flipped on its head by the COVID-19 pandemic. An intricate system for matching supply with demand, established over decades, has been thrown out of whack just as unemployment and food insecurity are skyrocketing among families…. ‘The whole world is trying to figure out how to rebalance the supply and demand,’ said Chris Tang, a supply chain expert and professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. ‘We have so much food being wasted. The question is, how do you reduce the food waste so that the food will actually get to the people in need?’… [Tang] sees a new, nationwide online platform where those with food can immediately be paired up with those who need it.” • Uber for food! (In retrospect, the stability of the supply chain reminds one of the Great Moderation, and its handmaiden, The End of History.)

Supply Chain: “SUVs Get Parked in the Sea, Revealing Scope of U.S. Auto Market Glut” [Bloomberg]. “There are gluts of all shapes and kinds forming in the U.S. nowadays, a testament to the scope of the economic pain the coronavirus is inflicting. Slaughterhouses are killing and tossing out thousands of pigs a day, dairy farmers are pouring away milk, oil sellers were paying buyers to take barrels off their hands last week, and now, brand-new cars are being left adrift at sea for days.”

Tech: “An Amazon VP’s resignation shows internal unrest is rising to the top” [Recode]. “Tim Bray, a veteran technologist and top engineer in Amazon’s AWS division, referred to the firing of activist insiders — which include multiple warehouses workers and white-collar employees — as ‘chickenshit’ and ‘designed to create a climate of fear.’ ‘[R]emaining an Amazon VP would have meant, in effect, signing off on actions I despised,’ he wrote on his blog. ‘So I resigned.’ Vice president is one of the top job titles at Amazon — only senior vice president and CEO are higher — so Bray’s decision is noteworthy. Tech workers can spend more than a decade at Amazon and never reach the VP level because, unlike in much of corporate America, the title signifies much more than middle management. Executives who oversee all of Amazon Prime, or all of Amazon’s grocery delivery services, also carry the VP title. Typically, this level of management never speaks out of line publicly.” • And now that Bray has left, probably none of those remaining will.

Manufacturing: “Find a vaccine. Next: Produce 300 million vials of it.” [Baltimore Sun]. “Here in the United States, more than 300 million people may need to be inoculated. That means at least as many vials and syringes — or double that amount, if two shots are required. To meet that demand, companies will have to ramp up manufacturing; products that doctors give little thought to now could easily become obstacles to vaccine delivery in the future. ‘We’re thinking about the vaccine, but what if the vials it is stored in, or rubber stoppers in the vial or the plungers in the syringes become the constraint?’ said Prashant Yadav, who studies health care supply chains at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C. Timing the orders of medical products like syringes and all the raw materials required to make them will be essential. Medical device manufacturers could increase inventory or find alternative supply chains for products that are running low, but everything will need to be systematically planned. Adding the capacity to make millions more syringes could take a manufacturer as long as 18 months, for example…. A handful of manufacturers are based in the U.S., but many still have to import the glass tubing for vials, polypropylene for syringes and rubber or silicone for small parts like the stoppers and plungers in these devices. Becton Dickinson & Co., one of the world’s largest manufacturers of needles and syringes, said it made nearly all components of its needles and syringes in-house in the United States. Other companies may source from their factories and partners located largely in China and India, where lockdowns and export bans have already decreased production and exports. Although syringe manufacturing is mostly automated, with parts like the barrel and plunger made from a mold and put together on an assembly line, Yadav said manufacturers in India had told him fewer employees were able to work than needed for full capacity. At least 69 countries have also banned or restricted the export of medical devices, medicines and protective equipment, according to the Global Trade Alert project at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, because of their own needs during the pandemic.” • Sounds like a case for centralized planning.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 44 Fear (previous close: 44 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 42 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 5 at 12:40pm.

The Biosphere

Mountaintop removal:


“Future of the human climate niche” [PNAS]. The abstract:

All species have an environmental niche, and despite technological advances, humans are unlikely to be an exception. Here, we demonstrate that for millennia, human populations have resided in the same narrow part of the climatic envelope available on the globe, characterized by a major mode around ∼11 °C to 15 °C mean annual temperature (MAT). Supporting the fundamental nature of this temperature niche, current production of crops and livestock is largely limited to the same conditions, and the same optimum has been found for agricultural and nonagricultural economic output of countries through analyses of year-to-year variation. We show that in a business-as-usual climate change scenario, the geographical position of this temperature niche is projected to shift more over the coming 50 y than it has moved since 6000 BP. Populations will not simply track the shifting climate, as adaptation in situ may address some of the challenges, and many other factors affect decisions to migrate. Nevertheless, in the absence of migration, one third of the global population is projected to experience a MAT >29 °C currently found in only 0.8% of the Earth’s land surface, mostly concentrated in the Sahara. As the potentially most affected regions are among the poorest in the world, where adaptive capacity is low, enhancing human development in those areas should be a priority alongside climate mitigation.

Health Care

“‘The new normal’: Ex-FDA chief warns U.S. may not be able to lower coronavirus infection rate” [NBC News]. “The U.S. is still experiencing a “high level of infection,” Gottlieb said, and has been on a sustained plateau for about 30 days, with about 30,000 new COVID-19 cases a day and sometimes 2,000 deaths per day. While he said New York has seen a sustained decline in cases, they are increasing around the rest of the country….” • If all the United States, as a failed state, can achieve is a plateau, the obvious response from other countries would be travel restrictions on U.S. citizens, since the U.S. will have become a reservoir of infection. So much for globalization, although doubtless there will be the medical equivalent of TSA Clear for the rich and high status professionals.

“When Did COVID-19 Arrive and Could We Have Spotted it Earlier?” [Medpage Today]. “Patricia Dowd’s death is currently being cited as the first known case of a COVID-19 death from community spread in the U.S…. Is it possible, then, that the COVID-19 virus was on U.S. soil earlier than January — maybe even as early as November? It’s not just possible; it’s likely.” [Dowd’s heart was damaged, and] heart muscle tissue doesn’t break down and get weakened to the point of rupture until weeks after it’s first been infected. More: “Given the time course of COVID-19 (>90% of people are symptomatic within 2 weeks of infection, with fatalities occurring on average 2 weeks after that), Patricia Dowd was likely infected with COVID-19 in early January — when, as it turns out, family members report her being laid up with flu-like symptoms. Dowd was a frequent traveller, and she worked in a Silicon Valley company where people went back and forth from China regularly…. Is it possible, then, that the COVID-19 virus was on U.S. soil earlier than January — maybe even as early as November? It’s not just possible; it’s likely. Is there a way to find out? There is. Epidemiologists can get it started. They need to focus on excess mortality (higher than the seasonal averages for past years) in U.S. regions that have close industry relationships with Wuhan: Silicon Valley (which includes Santa Clara County), metropolitan Seattle, the Route 128 corridor outside Boston, and tech hubs in New Jersey and New York.” • If this pans out — or is allowed to pan out — my call was very early: “Globalizers were vectors for the disease’s spread” in the United States.

Guillotine Watch

“The pandemic is yet to dampen demand for luxury goods resales” [FT Alphaville]. “For most of us, staying at home has meant donning leggings and hoodies. It’s different for the 1 per cent. Eager to impress on Zoom, sales of statement jewellery have shot up. The RealReal, an online luxury goods retailer, reported a 40 per cent rise in earnings from Cartier earrings and sales of gold necklaces up 72 per cent month on month. Auction house Sotheby’s, meanwhile, set a new record for a jewellery piece sold online, selling a Cartier bracelet from the 1930s for $1.34m.” • Veblen would be pleased.

Class Warfare

“The extra $600 in unemployment insurance has been the best response yet to the economic shock of the coronavirus and should be extended” [Working Economics Blog]. “The modifications the CARES Act made to the nation’s unemployment insurance (UI) system are an utterly crucial lifeline for tens of millions of American workers. Besides temporarily expanding the eligibility criteria for who qualifies for unemployment benefits through the end of the year and providing an additional 13 weeks of state UI benefits, the CARES Act also provided an extra $600 per week in UI payments through the end of July…. he modifications the CARES Act made to the nation’s unemployment insurance (UI) system are an utterly crucial lifeline for tens of millions of American workers. Besides temporarily expanding the eligibility criteria for who qualifies for unemployment benefits through the end of the year and providing an additional 13 weeks of state UI benefits, the CARES Act also provided an extra $600 per week in UI payments through the end of July…. In an efficient labor market—where the playing field is level between workers and employers—the wage offers needed to get people to overcome their wariness and go to work in the face of coronavirus fears should be increasing.” • Lol, “efficient labor market.” Come on, man. You were doing great up to that point.

News of the Wired

I don’t know what the Reddit thread’s responses are (sometimes it’s best not to know) but I think this is prima facie rather sweet. (Guy voice: “Sometimes… We’re just a little slow.”)


“BREAKING: Millions Of Americans Sucked Out Into Space After NASA Accidentally Open Airlock Above Headquarters” [The Onion]. “‘Earlier this morning, a computational malfunction opened the NASA Earth Airlock above our Washington D.C. headquarters, sending millions of individuals, cars, and livestock flying upwards into the sky and out into the reaches of outer space,’ said agency administrator Jim Bridenstine.”

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

CR writes: “Once-a-year cactus bloomed today (3/27/2020). A 97-yr old friend potted up this cactus & gave it to me. She’s gone now and I think of her very often, but I do regard the one day a year or the cactus blooms as Belle’s day.” I’m sorry I missed the anniversary, but I (mostly) go through plants in order submitted. (So if you have an anniversary, please mention it in the subject line, so I don’t miss it.)

And here is a gardening project (AMM):

AMM writes: “Aluminum wall to reflect light on my herbs.” This is a porch garden. So you can see it doesn’t take a large space to conceive a project, execute it, and then monitor it for success.

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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. Phacops

    Re: SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine.

    I have not seen this mentioned here, https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.29.069054v1.full While not peer reviewed yet, coming from Cold Spring Harbor and Los Alamos, this got my attention.

    In their studies, including some breathtaking work in protein structure, they trace the emergence of a more transmissible form of SARS-CoV-2 in infected populations and look at how the mutation has changed the molecular assembly of the spike protein trimer. Of particular note is that the change is embedded in an immunodominant portion in the original SARS-CoV Spike. They report that this peptide had a very high level of serological reactivity (64%), and induced long term B-cell memory responses in convalescent-phase sera from individuals infected during the original SARS-CoV 2002 epidemic. Antibodies against this peptide mediate antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) of SARS-CoV infection both in vitro, and in vivo in rhesus macaques. Evolution in action.

    Put simply, all bets are off about protection against reinfection or any easy path to a vaccine.

    1. Shonde

      Minneapolis Star Tribune just reported on the study you indicated.

      “The new strain appeared in February in Europe, migrated quickly to the East Coast of the United States and has been the dominant strain across the world since mid-March, the scientists wrote.

      In addition to spreading faster, it may make people vulnerable to a second infection after a first bout with the disease, the report warned.”


      1. mle detroit

        Europe? One certainly hopes no one will take to calling this strain the Slovenian Virus.

    2. Bsoder

      +10, and if that was the only thing but it’s not today I’m look at the data on Interferon (IFN) Cell Signaling Pathway. The interferon (IFN) pathway Signaling for viral infection, is how the human body triggers a complex regulatory system of innate and adaptive immune responses designed to defend against the virus. With Covid-19 its causing all kinds of problems with ACE2 receptors and blood clotting, sometimes days after one has been serious ill, or not. Covid-19 is nightmare.

      1. Phacops

        Good point that dominance does not necessarily indicate enhanced infectivity, though epidemiologists who look at a subsequent strain supplanting a pioneer strain in a immunologically naive population would tend to disagree. I have seen nice experiments in vitro regarding infectivity which are not indicative of behavior in populations.

        My concern is the stereochemical change to the protein, especially in an immunodominant portion, since immunoglobulin specificity is entirely dependent on that specific three dimensional configuration. While there can be silent amino acid substitutions, this one, impacting hydrogen bonding, is a direct conformational change. Hence, it will impact the utility of any vaccine targeted at the original protein structure most likely rendering that vaccine innefective or only partially effective.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > My concern is the stereochemical change to the protein, especially in an immunodominant portion, since immunoglobulin specificity is entirely dependent on that specific three dimensional configuration. While there can be silent amino acid substitutions, this one, impacting hydrogen bonding, is a direct conformational change. Hence, it will impact the utility of any vaccine targeted at the original protein structure most likely rendering that vaccine innefective or only partially effective.

          Hmm. The study was published on 4/29. Gilead peaked on 4/30, and is now a smidge above where it was in early April.

  2. wsa

    One of Wisconsin’s supreme court judges, Rebecca Bradley, just said in court that the stay-at-home order is “the very definition of tyranny.”

    I assume the corporatist judges are using this opportunity to try to set a precedent that defines all health and safety regulations and orders as tyranny, so businesses can kill, main, and poison freely, as is proper. Note, I am no legal expert, so I may well be over-reading what impact the judgement here will mean for future cases.

    1. grayslady

      She, and others appointed by Scott Walker, are the reason voters were literally willing to risk their lives to vote out Daniel Kelly, imo.

      1. neo-realist

        And such desperation from voters who believe they’ve been played for suckers by a PT Barnum Presidency may motivate some to do something similar in November, even if it means voting for a candidate who resembles a turnip.

    2. D. Fuller

      It is all about the Benjamins with those types. Or, the ideology of some mythical perfect system. Or a combination. Combine with ego and the eagerness to please for approval?

      And one gets disasters as human beings.

      Endangering others terminates one’s Rights. In other words, the Right of one to swing one’s fist ends a millimeter before another’s face. Actually, more than that.

      One can quite easily imagine hyperbole as an armed individual shooting another because that other person has the potential to infect the gunowner with Cv-19 – a well defined threat to one’s health. Self defense. Of course, this is absurd.

      Judge: Why did you shoot this individual?
      Defendant: Threat to my personal safety, with the potential of dying after infection.

      Cv-19 is a well known threat to the an individual’s safety and well-being. Anyone not taking recommended precautions proven to limit the spread of the disease? Is endangering public safety.

      A person does not have the Right to endanger others through conscious neglect and choice.

    3. Left in Wisconsin

      Nice quote today from our Chief Justice as well:
      CHIEF JUSTICE ROGGENSACK: “These were due to the meat packing, though, that’s where the Brown County got the flare. It wasn’t just the regular folks in Brown County.”

      As Lambert is wont to say, clarifying.

      1. Bugs Bunny

        Ah ha, yeah I get it. Regular = white, have money.

        My Trumpy “friend” in an upper middle class Milwaukee suburb is saying they need to open things up so her son can properly graduate since all the cases are “in the city”.

        You can’t make this stuff up.

  3. Hepativore

    Even if a vaccine were developed, I am guessing that many insurance companies will not cover the cost of treatment as they will deem it to be “experimental” and the financial sector’s speculation will probably drive the cost of the vaccine into the stratosphere. There will probably be no programs or subsidies proposed by either party to cover the cost of the vaccine for the poor, the excuse being that huge private companies can hold vaccine donation drives for their employees who are making starvation-level wages.

    The financial elite and the PMC will probably think that the disease will help discourage any sort of strikes or mass demonstrations to start up because of fears of the virus as they have priced the cost of treatment or the vaccine out of the reach of the poor. If the working class does get uppity, they can drop the full weight of the police state on potential demonstrators for violating public health restrictions by assembling in public to protest their dismal lot in life.

    1. Rhondda

      If ‘they’ came up with a vaccine…at this point, no, I don’t believe I would take it voluntarily.

    2. Bsoder

      If you want to see riots, that’s what you’ll get if what your saying happens.

      1. neplusultra

        yeah yeah, we’ve heard that line before. USA has created a permanently cucked and delusional underclass. Don’t hold your breath on riots

      2. D. Fuller

        Have to agree with neplusultra. In The US, it is work or die. Last time, it was OWS. Riots? Only if the servitor class (employed by oligarchs) joins in. Otherwise, the servitor class will see the proles as threats.

        Then you have a small group that shows up at a State Capitol building waving Swastikas and Confederate Flags around. Not many. However, they can inspire others to false courage as time goes on. They’re like some pseudo-SA wannabes. The S.A. was destroyed by Hitler as a threat to his corporate power. They were stepping stones and then discarded. Happens a lot in history. Of course, it does not help that the media gives them more hype than they deserve. Which suits the media just fine.

        OWS was the last threat to corporate power. We all saw how that turned out. What protestors have not realized? That after the protests of the 1960’s, their enemies studied them and came up with countermeasures to such protest tactics. They borrowed much from how Soviets handled their protesters and then incorporate modern technology. Stalin would be envious.

        BLM was neutered early on. There is no solidarity in a dog-eat-dog banana republic we call The United States.

    1. Clive

      Yes, The Bulldozer in the Countryside […] is one of my must-reads. As with the photography of Mountaintop removal in the above Water-cooler, tract development is denaturation, plain and simple. Trees, streams, flora and fauna just get in the way.

      I just hope that levelled mountainside doesn’t slip down the hill like not a few similar unfortunate subdivisions have in the past.

        1. Clive

          Unfortunately this was actually mining spoil waste which was piled up on a hillside without any thought for what happened when hundreds of thousands of tonnes of water seeped into the loosely packed rocks and silt which teetered above the village.

          Several of my welsh relatives had to live in similar communities towered over by slag heaps or spoil dumps after the disaster and, at every heavy rain, wonder just how much credence to put into the Coal Board’s assurances everything was fine.

          Oh, and this was spot dumped by a nationalised coal industry which was the direct responsibility of government. Many governments of both political hues had received reports warning of the inherent risks. They did nothing. Because cost.

          So never let anyone tell you government ownership is a fix-all. It didn’t fix anything for the people, including the children who died in their classrooms, in Aberrfan.

  4. Robert Hahl

    Re: “We seem not to be getting to the flattening part. And the political class — not just Orange Hitler, but the political class as a whole — seems to have given up on that.”

    The newly added category “Hospitalizations” in COVID-19 Cases by US States/Territories is worth following. It shows a consistent rise of about 1% per day throughout the east coast. In NY there are now 69,331 people hospitalized with covid-19, probably 70,024 tomorrow.


    1. Phacops

      I wonder if it is that our leadership class has been trained in such short term thinking that they have lost all capacity to design any response requiring a long duration of consistent action.

      1. Glen

        I think it’s just more a reality that the US is incapable of providing enough testing. I keep hearing that we do not have the industrial capacity to provide the required quantity of reagents.

        Plus, I think our political class has bailed out the elites (since every speed bump in the road requires we shell out trillions to billionaires), and everybody else is just gonna have to get back to work. Want to make the numbers look good? Just do what Florida did, lie about it:


        1. Synoia

          Covid Testing? The issue is not how to produce the test but appears to be how to pay for them with our private Health Care System.

          Pandemic mitigation is expensive, and it is difficult to bill for procedure.
          Q: Do you want to pay for a test, Daily, only $50?
          A: No.

          Q: Do you want to pay for a test if some person with whom you have net, and is now infected?
          A: No, it is no benefit to me. I’ll pay when I feel ill.

          The rugged (economic man) individual strikes again! If the testing in not for a person who does not feel, or is, ill who pays?

          1. Monty

            Even if you could instantly test everyone entering the premises, it’s not going to be enough to protect hospitals or care homes. Someone who is immune, and totally clear of the virus internally, can still get virus contamination on their hands, and then wipe it on the door knob or whatever just before your granny uses it. 14 days later… -1 granny.

      2. Aumua

        It is not just our leadership class that is trained in short term thinking, it’s everyone, worldwide. The Internet, smart phone and computer addiction is turning the Human species ADHD. It affects us all, to some degree.

    2. clarky90

      Re; “If all the United States, as a failed state, can achieve is a plateau….”

      Imo, it is most accurate to compare the USA (50 States) with The EU (27 member states). So, NY and New Jersey are similar to the Italian experience. …and states like Wyoming, with low rates of infection, are similar to Latvia or Montenegro.

      MSM here in NZ, breathlessly announce that that the USA has the highest number of corona infections, but never compare it with “total” European toll, only with Italy.

      The MSM compare USA infection/CFR with Chinese “statistics” (what did Mark Twain say about statistics again?) haha.

      I believe MSM want us to emulate North Korea, who still have no reported cases! Can only be nnovative, outside the box thinking. What is NK’s secret?

      1. David R Smith

        Trump’s immigration problem is over. In the years ahead, no one’s going to want to come to this shithole country, this dank dump of viruses, fracking earthquakes, mass plunder, obesity, unrestrained flooding, and who knows what else. I for one would like to be able to get out before the rest of the world closes its doors to Americans.

        1. Big Tap

          The problem is their are even more shithole countries than the United States. Plus the military will bomb any country (think Latin America and Mid-East) it feels like and guarantee new refugees to the U.S. By the way it’s hard now to get out of the country to go somewhere. Unlike America they enforce their immigration laws.

        2. kareninca

          Presumably you’ve known for years what a terrible place this is. Why have you waited until now to decide to leave? If a person keeps thinking and talking about doing something, but never really tries until it is impossible, it usually means that they didn’t really want to do it.

          There are lots of parts of the U.S. that are not afflicted with flooding or fracking. Obesity is not a given. The virus is going to be all over the world. The paradise of New Zealand – with a population of 4.8 million, about that of Connecticut – only wants you if you are Peter Thiel.

          There will continue to be far more people who want to become Americans, than people who actually want to leave.

    3. Bsoder

      We are at 72,173 confirmed dead. Don’t know what cdc is up to. Orange Man counting.

    4. curlydan

      I would say that we have flattened the curve. We’ve taken a disease that grows exponentially and via half-[bleeped] social distancing turned it into linear growth. For the past 4 weeks, daily new confirmed cases have been between 25K and 35K. So far, the confirmed cases aren’t a bell curve. At this point, about the best we could hope for is a long trapezoid.

  5. Glen

    The Onion article reminds me of two of my better work ideas that never gained any traction. Put a pipe 50 miles up in the air to get a really good vacuum source, and dig a pit 30,000 feet deep for testing the radar altimeters.

    No one liked them.

    1. Bernalkid

      RE: vaccine mavens requiring vials, syringes–perhaps they should think outside the box. I seem to remember noshing on one of the early polio vaccines which was on a sugar cube. In that tradition maybe blotter paper should be considered as a delivery system. There seems to be a robust industry that prints colorful designs on the sheets, people could choose between a Fauci or a Trump or something more fanciful, if possible, like Jerry Garcia.

    2. richard

      That pipe idea is terrific; it sounds like something from Brazil or Jodorowsky’s Dune!

      1. ChrisPacific

        You’d need a good strong vacuum at ground level first to suck the vacuum down the pipe. Once it got going it should continue to run on its own, like a siphon. Make sure to install an emergency cutoff though – you don’t want to suffocate everyone in your neighborhood if there is an accident.

  6. TroyIA

    Is it possible, then, that the COVID-19 virus was on U.S. soil earlier than January — maybe even as early as November? It’s not just possible; it’s likely.

    According to a retest of patients in France the earliest case occurred on December 27 in Paris which by the accounts shows it was a case of community spread.

    Genetic Study Shows COVID-19 Was in France Weeks Before The First Case Was Reported

    I am scratching my head in confusion if covid-19 was on U.S. soil in November because analysis of RNA points to October 30 as being the earliest possible date of the very first infection. There had to be an extremely small number of people on earth with covid-19 in November and yet it was already spread to the U.S.

    DNA sleuths read the coronavirus genome, tracing its origins and looking for dangerous mutations

    Given what’s known about the pace at which viral genomes mutate, if nCoV had been circulating in humans since significantly before the first case was reported on Dec. 8, the 24 genomes would differ more. Applying ballpark rates of viral evolution, Rambaut estimates that the Adam (or Eve) virus from which all others are descended first appeared no earlier than Oct. 30, 2019, and no later than Nov. 29.

    Adding that China now acknowledges the first official case as being on November 17 so the first infection could have been mid October. But even then from Wuhan to the U.S. in a matter of weeks shows how virulent covid-19 is.

    1. WJ

      Do we even know that it began in Wuhan though? I’ve read reports from a group of Cambridge scientists stating that there are three main strains of the virus–A (source), B, and C–and that the majority of the Chinese cases are B while Europe and America contain lots of A and C. No idea if this study will pan out of course. But the more I hunt down primary sources on this virus the foggier its early history seems to become. I am no specialist and so take this with a grain of salt.

      1. clarky90


        “Our analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) looked at the early spread of the virus in humans. Our analysis was not designed to investigate rumours suggesting the virus itself came from outside China. It is a misinterpretation of our research to suggest that the novel coronavirus originated outside China.”

        The authors say that you are misrepresenting their work.

        1. WJ

          I didn’t claim that the virus originated outside of China. I asked whether we are certain that it originated in Wuhan. It may, for example, have originated somewhere else in China, etc. I am very keen not to engage in tinfoil-hat rumor-mongering on this important issue and I am sorry I have given the impression of doing so.

          1. TroyIA

            The virus could well have originated south of Wuhan according to this article.

            The most likely route from China to the U.S. is via Wuhan but the world may never know the truth about the origin covid-19 because China is not being totally open and allowing a rigorous examination of the history of the outbreak. Instead China and the U.S. are conducting information warfare and blaming the other side for the virus.

            Coronavirus outbreak may have started in September, say British scientists

            The first outbreak of the coronavirus could have happened further south than the central Chinese city of Wuhan as early as September, according to a team of scientists led by the University of Cambridge.

            Researchers investigating the virus’ origin analysed a large number of strains from around the world and calculated that the initial outbreak occurred in a window between September 13 and December 7.

            “The virus may have mutated into its final ‘human-efficient’ form months ago, but stayed inside a bat or other animal or even human for several months without infecting other individuals,” University of Cambridge geneticist Peter Forster said on Thursday.

            “Then, it started infecting and spreading among humans between September 13 and December 7, generating the network we present in [the journal] Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [PNAS].”

            They were still trying to pinpoint the location of patient zero, and were hoping for help from scientists in China, but some early signs were prompting them to look into areas to the south of Wuhan, where coronavirus infections were first reported in December.

            1. Procopius

              … China is not being totally open and allowing a rigorous examination of the history of the outbreak.

              I’m not sure I would trust a “rigorous examination” by British and American “investigators.” I remember the “gas attacks” in Syria and the reporting by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is utterly dependent on funds from the U.S. government. I might accept an investigation by Russian scientists. Or Iranian.

  7. Svejk

    I can’t tell from the article in The Hill (correct link: https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/495505-ex-sanders-aide-criticizes-super-pac-being-formed-by-former-staffers) if the new Super PAC is using any seed money collected for the Sanders campaign, but I would like to find out what is happening to Sanders’ campaign funds. If I find out any money I donated to Sanders is being used to support Joe Biden I will match match my donation amounts in contributions to the Green Party, and, what the hell, to Trump too.

    1. Oregoncharles

      You could send it to the Green Party, anyway. They need it just to get on the ballot. the first lawsuit, in Illinois, was successful, but it’s going to take a lot of them.

  8. Another Scott

    Would Democratic governors and mayors had listened to Trump if he had taken actions early? No.

    At this article, about PAX East, especially the statement by Marty Walsh when Sony pulled out of PAX East. The convention should have been cancelled, but that would have put people’s health about the travel industry.

    “Boston Mayor Marty Walsh sent a letter to the company, appealing to them to attend the event, saying it should make decisions based on “fact not fear.” He also urged the company not to play into what he calls harmful stereotypes about Chinese people.”


    This is following spending February and part of January imploring citizens to go out to eat at Chinese restaurants, saying it was safe, with the implication that the avoiding it do to COVID-19 fears was racist. Walsh along with Gov. Baker also waited far too long to cancel St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, allowing people to go to bars the weekend before. Massachusetts has had one of the worst outbreaks in the country in large part because our local elected officials cared more about keeping the economy function than preparing for a public health disaster. And that’s before we get the Commonwealth’s nursing homes, which appear to be the major reason why so many have died in the state.

    1. D. Fuller

      Here in PA? There really is no difference between R’s and D’s except on two or three social issues. If you call the PA State health authority? You get the PA Board of Economic Development. The “differences” in economic policy here in this State, when aired? Is solely for public consumption before backroom deals in smoke filled rooms are made. Same goes for many States.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Democratic state officials have been a mixed bag, for sure. Cuomo and now Walsh were awful; Newsome and California local officials were good; Inslee was good. And yet Cuomo is the one with the Presidential bubble because he gives a good briefing.

  9. Synoia

    Nevertheless, in the absence of migration, one third of the global population is projected to experience a MAT >29 °C currently found in only 0.8% of the Earth’s land surface, mostly concentrated in the Sahara. As the potentially most affected regions are among the poorest in the world, where adaptive capacity is low, enhancing human development in those areas should be a priority alongside climate mitigation.

    Err, all those areas MAT >29 °C I believe are deserts. I lived Close to the Equator in Nigeria, Green and Lush. However, in the North, Kano, which was then in the Sahel was much hotter and much drier.

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Biden (D)(2): “I Believe Tara Reade. And You Should, Too” [The Nation].

    Given this strong evidence, why are many people still refusing to believe Tara Reade? Among the primary reasons: an unwillingness to believe that Biden is ‘the type’ and sheer political inconvenience… We know, alas, that Biden is the type.”

    This bullshit biden “defense”–his not being “the type” while, “obviously,” someone like Donald Trump is–has pissed me off royally for some time now. (It’s the same “defense” that allowed the pedophile priest scandal to go on for so long and be so widespread.)

    Any woman who’s being honest will tell you that biden is exactly the “type” that’s most dangerous.

    Big mouth bloviators like Trump let you know they’re coming in plenty of time for you to get the hell out of the way. If you choose to stay and play the game, you’ve no one to blame but yourself. At least he’ll throw a couple hundred thousand dollars your way if you make a big enough stink.

    But it’s the “trustworthy,” “salt-of-the-earth” types who take you by surprise, and then fall back on the same carefully cultivated, good-guy reputation that they snookered you with in the first place to turn the tables on you, making you look like a vindictive, devious lunatic. And this ever so innocent “who, me?” crap, woundedly asserted over and over, provides plenty of cover for defenders who should, and most likely DO, know better.

    As I said earlier it’s bullshit, of the pure, unadulterated variety, and plenty of people know it. But they’re pretty sure that this goose is getting ready to lay a big fat golden egg and they want a piece.

    They probably ought to talk to peter strzok and lisa page about how that worked out for them.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Politicians are “the type.” It’s part of the alpha thing. Besides which, Senators and such get so full of themselves they can’t believe anyone would turn them down – sort of like high school and college jocks.

      No idea what we’re going to do about that. Women are generally less aggressive, but a few have been caught playing the same tricks, usually aided by alcohol. Power corrupts; the will to power is worse.

    2. Cat Afficionado

      I completely agree. Trump is, and has been for decades, an open book in terms of knowing what you are dealing with. Despite the usual caveat of “nobody DESERVES bad things happening to them,” there is the obvious reality that ignoring warning signs (or giant flashing DANGER! ones) is probably going to lead to bad outcomes. Social lefties stick to the “in a perfect world these things would never happen to a woman” and social righties stick to “doors have locks on doors for a reason”, and of course the messy truth that usually falls in between is lost in the weeds. Applying any sort of nuance is anathema to both parties because it does not serve their narrow set of goals.

      After the Kavanaugh debacle I assumed that the Democrats would come to regret using the cultural Marxist playbook in that way, but it happened sooner than I thought. As you say, the “trustworthy” guys are very often the most dangerous, and the shameless hypocrisy here is mind numbing. Actually, the widespread acceptance of this among people who have been “resisting” and super pro-Women’s March for multiple years is the most mind-numbing.

      Despite being disgusted with both parties for a long time, and feeling that the Republicans are objectively worse than the Democrats, I think that I still take a dimmer view of the latter. The Republicans’ hostility to civility, functional policy that serves the public, and general corruption is like Trump: an open book and obvious to anyone looking. The knife is in their hand and they have told you that they will stick it in you. The Democrats have endless sound bites about how they are championing [insert social justice goal here], while holding the knife behind their back and waiting to stab you as soon as you look away. I am fairly certain that cautionary tales about liars being more dangerous than brutes have existed since the dawn of civilization, and for good reason.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > After the Kavanaugh debacle I assumed that the Democrats would come to regret using the cultural Marxist playbook

        I wish I knew where this “cultural Marxist” talking point came from; it’s incredibly stupid. It’s like saying “young earth scientist” — an oxymoron.

    3. cnchal

      Isn’t Joe famous for wearing aviator sunglasses? Those things are good at hiding a black eye.

    4. clarky90

      “….at the Sundance Film Festival, at a march organized by comedian Chelsea Handler, Harvey Weinstein also mixed in with the sea of pink knit hats, showing his own solidarity with women who, ostenstibly, felt shamed and marginalized by predatory men in power.”

      This actually happened

    5. Pat

      Let’s face it. Tribalism rules much of the decisions of people who have not met him or really followed him. But the media and political class, either think the same way about women he does OR just does not care if it means they get their slice of the pie. This is not and has never been high on most of their priorities. Even if they are women.

      As with so many issues that matter to individual people, they are used for publicity value and forgotten by people who are just as much snake oil salesmen as Donald Trump. All of the creepy and inappropriate behavior by Joe Biden was record in 2008, as were his slander of the driver in the accident with his wife, his repeated lies about various actions AND the plagarism. Not to mention he and his brother had already benefited from Joe’s position a few times, Hunter was only a late addition to the family grift. All of this was on the record for Obama’s team. That they vetted him anyways says that they didn’t care that he was a corrupt, lying, old man who inappropriately interacted with female voters. Why would they even bother to look for sexual harassment issues? None of the denials ring true. Frankly I didn’t believe Kavanaugh either, but do admit that was based on intituition not fact. His case at least really was he said she said. Reade’s has a whole lot of concurrent evidence it happened while Joe is ‘that’s not me’. Nope doesn’t fly.

      Predators often blend in.

      1. Andrew Thomas

        “Frankly, I didn’t believe Kavanaugh either, but do admit that was based on intuition, not fact.”
        You need to give yourself more credit than that. The inability to get the other man who was in the room to testify, the procured lack of investigation into the other incident when he was in University, etc. When it is obvious that things are deliberately being hidden or ignored, it is more than intuition to disbelieve the narrative that results.

    6. The Rev Kev

      Biden’s predatory nature is sort of an open secret. Jimmy Dore did a recent video and the opening image was of Joe behind a woman with his hands capping her boobs. I said in a previous comment about looking at YouTube using the search term Creepy Uncle Joe. At least his behaviour has now killed the MeeToo movement and revealed it to be all about using women to advance an agenda. Tough luck if you are a women now being prayed upon by a predatory creep like Uncle Joe. What is worse is all the women in power who have been quite happy to throw Reade under a bus by supporting Joe. Very revealing that. Has AOC, for example, decried Joe for who and what he is? Certainly Nancy Pelosi never would. Yes, very revealing that.

      1. a different chris

        AOC before this even happened had slammed Biden. She said “we wouldn’t even be in the same party” and didn’t stop there. This was headline news here, maybe not where you are at.

        I would bet money that she believes Tara Read. But her and Sanders, like it or not, clearly think Trump and the people he (knowingly or most likely not) fronts and empowers are such an existential threat that they can’t risk it. And nothing she or Sanders or anybody else decent tried to do could stop the Biden juggernaut.

        Cowardice is not standing up when you can. Wisdom is taking cover when you are badly out-manned (pun not intended) and waiting to fight another day. This isn’t sports, where youth doesn’t take too long to make its mark. Per Mamet, “Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance”. In that situation “youth” is best advised to chill on the exuberance part.

        I don’t know if AOC is being consumed by the Borg or not, but it will take more than her first year in government to figure that out for chrissakes.

      2. Andrew Thomas

        Al Franken was forced out of the senate by his own party by when he admitted to giving in to his inner Marx brother and pinching a couple of women on their bottoms- total strangers to him- during photo ops. His staff was crushed. I cannot even remember the name of his replacement. A woman, naturally. Moral of the story? Lie. Admit nothing. Apologize for nothing. And, your soul being thus corrupted, stand for nothing.

    7. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Big mouth bloviators like Trump let you know they’re coming in plenty of time for you to get the hell out of the way… But it’s the “trustworthy,” “salt-of-the-earth” types who take you by surprise

      Rather like the distinction between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrat generally.

  11. periol

    Interesting read on thrift shops.

    I am a typewriter enthusiast, and I have long tracked them online and in meatspace. For the past six months or so, Goodwill has been posting significantly (75% or so) fewer typewriters on it’s online auction site, and they are going for double or even triple the prices that they used to, even just from the summer of 2019.

    Meanwhile, pretty much all estate sales have moved online, with public postings of prices. The number of online estate sales has jumped astronomically – where there used to be maybe one or two per week, there are now 20+ in the areas I watch. Facebook sales have become a thing, where people in second-hand shops use Facebook Live to walk around their shop and take bids on things one at a time from the people on the stream.

    It is all quite unusual, to say the least. Some very large antique auctions have moved online, and there may be no going back.

    I have also noticed an uptick in government surplus auctions – usually the estates of people who are moving into a nursing home as a ward of the state. They are usually staggered, one of two per month in a 200 mile radius or so. There were four I know of last month, all online, and I’ve seen plans for 3 more in the upcoming weeks. These are definitely delayed reaction sales – it takes a while from the moment the person becomes a ward until their stuff is collected, organized, and then delivered to the auction house for their process, which I’ve been informed takes several months.

      1. periol

        That’s great! There was an estate sale in the desert a few months back that included the entire fuselage of a jet liner, seats and all but no windows.

        Definitely looked cool out there in the middle of nowhere.

      1. periol

        I have always appreciated Tom Hanks’ devotion to using a typewriter for correspondence. Haven’t actually seen that documentary (I really have ADD when it comes to focusing on the television), but I think it mentions his love for Corona and Smith-Corona machines, which I share.

        My favorite little conspiracy theory from the coronavirus was when Tom Hanks posted a pic of his Corona typewriter on Instagram about the same time he posted he was positive with COVID-19. I guess people figured it was intentional, as opposed to Smith-Corona and their patented Floating Shift providing a superior manual typing experience versus other competitors, with much less finger fatigue. :)

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Smith-Corona and their patented Floating Shift providing a superior manual typing experience versus other competitors,

          Smith-Corona was a great typewriter!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The number of online estate sales has jumped astronomically – where there used to be maybe one or two per week, there are now 20+ in the areas I watch. … I have also noticed an uptick in government surplus auctions

      If there is an absolute increase, that’s a good proxy for/confirmation of death rates.

      1. periol

        I didn’t come out and say it but i don’t these surplus sales are COVID-19, yet. It takes a long time to get the stuff and sell it.

        It will be interesting to watch the surplus sales. I’m not sure if they will increase or not. Usually, the sale isn’t because someone died, but because the state took over care, putting them in nursing home.

        So i don’t know if there will be an uptick in surplus sales or not. I’m watching the estate sales with interest though. I think those will start picking up.

    1. Pat

      He has been going after schools for the entire time he has been governor. Hell the first throwdown with deBlasio was Bill trying to stop charters from expanding (many times in to actual public schools shrinking the space for those students). Cuomo back door arranged a huge public protests where charters not only bussed students and parents but reportedly got a few extra people to go by paying them, while Cuomo made sure that the state legislators got an eyeful of all the desperate passionate kids.

      This is just the latest in the arsenal.

      1. Off The Street

        The Empire Staters demand more Common Core, none of that fancy non-Bill stuff. And furthermore, anything with Regent in the title must be repressive. /s

    2. petal

      I’d have either been dead from abuse or would’ve topped myself if I hadn’t been able to escape from home every day to school(in NYS, no less). Summer was always h-ll because I was stuck at home. For a lot of kids, the school building is an oasis and the only normal in their lives. I hate people like Cuomo. They either are unable to put themselves in the shoes of the less fortunate/lucky or simply don’t care. I am going with the latter.

      1. flora

        Great comment. Thanks. The so called “great and good” have never understood the lives of the mis-forgotten*.

    3. WJ

      Funny thing is that every educator and student across the country is now firmly convinced of the superiority of in person teaching and learning over the online or distance model. Teaching on Zoom sucks. Going to school on Zoom sucks. It’s better than nothing but not as good as the real thing. How many rich people’s children will be availing themselves of Cuomo’s new model for education, do you think?

  12. Oregoncharles

    ” dig holes in the ground and then fill them up” – is how you start a garden. Just sayin’

  13. Bugs Bunny

    Re: “Find a vaccine. Next: Produce 300 million vials of it.”

    When I was a kid in the 70s I got a vaccine against Swine Flu that was given with a machine that had a nozzle on the end like McCoy’s hypo on Star Trek. What happened to those?

    1. JTMcPhee

      Yeah, when the Army was outfitting me to go to Vietnam, all us trembling mopes were lined up to pass between two med techs, each having a jet gun to blast various mixes of vaccines through our skin into our deltoid muscles.

      The guy in front of me mouthed off to the techs, who instead of pressing the nozzles to his shoulder, pulled them back half an inch, cutting a matching set of bloody half-inch slices into his flesh.

      I always wondered whether the inoculations “took” for the guy, and whether he succumbed to one of the diseases we got exposed to.

      Then there was this bit about how a lot of GIs developed hepatitis C because of bad practices — http://hcvets.com/data/occupational/munji/toc.htm

      Here’s what they looked like: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_injector

      My uncle died from hep C in 1948. He did not drink alcohol, but he enlisted and served in the US military from 1942 to 1947.

      One of the reasons I don’t believe anything the military says: https://jetinfectors.com/2016/02/01/military-jet-gun-injections-caused-hepatitis-an-assessment-of-va-claims/

    2. The Rev Kev

      What about if it could be done by mouth? As a kid I remember drinking a purple solution on a small plastic spoon administered by a doctor to our school class which was sabin solution against polio. I am pretty sure that the west still has technology enough to manufacture small disposable plastic spoons – I think.

  14. D. Fuller

    Trump “magic” in getting elected in 2016?


    Pages on what cost Hillary Clinton, 2016. Not the only reason besides a poor campaign, the wrong campaign style (personal attacks), ignoring that voters don’t want dynasties, etc.

    What was Trump’s Magic? Voter suppression. There is no magic in that. Want some Democratic examples (as well as Republican examples) of voter suppression?

    Blackboxvoting dot org lays it all out for the layperson.

    1. Pat

      Palast was reporting on organized voter suppression by Republicans in 2000/2001. Jeb Bush pioneered a few of the favorite methods in the run up to that Presidential election. Remember Florida?

      Other than requesting campaign donations about it, what did Democrats do in the 15 or so years from that first debacle? You know even when they had the House, the Senate and the Presidency? And Clinton was in the Senate and possibly could have done something and did what?

      You would think someone who wanted to run for President would fight to make sure that voters could get to vote and have their votes recorded properly.
      Or maybe not.

      If voter suppresion was Trump’s secret weapon so be it.

      1. Andrew Thomas

        It wasn’t Trump’s secret weapon. It was the GOP’s weapon, run by Kobach, with the help (aiding and abetting?) of every other GOP Secretary of State in the country. Called Operation Crosscheck. Meant to guarantee the success of any GOP presidential candidate in 2016, not to mention Congressional races. Mr. Palast made a documentary movie about it. It came out before the election. Not only have the corporate democrats ignored it-and him- there is almost no mention of him anywhere. I saw him on MSNBC right before the 2018 election in connection with the impending theft of the governorship in Georgia. Recently, he has been directly involved in obtaining court rulings in Georgia and, I believe, Kansas, that are of enormous importance. The so-called liberal wing of the MSM has taken little if any notice. Why? I have a theory, but it’s way too intuitive to share.

      2. John Anthony La Pietra

        Ah, yes, Katharine Harris. Is the line from her more direct to Sarah Palin, Nikki Haley, . . . well, name your own. . . .

  15. richard

    A question for Lambert and anyone else who likes, re Sanders (1) – If the lesson from the Sanders campaign is that the “campaign model” isn’t going to work, because of contradictions between its stated purpose and the sharks that will swim in its waters, what does that leave us with?
    Is this another way of saying electoral politics is a dead end for the left? I mean, in addition to the Calvinball rules, and the propaganda, and having no leadership worth voting for?

  16. allan

    As US piles up debt to aid economy, even usual critics cheer [Reuters]

    “We can worry much less about the amount of debt than most economists guessed,” said Douglas Elmendorf, a former CBO director and now dean of the Harvard Kennedy School who for years has been a critic of runaway federal debt.

    Those with memories of the stimulus and budget battles of 2010-2013 will remember the
    Greece – Greece!-GREECE!!! budget forecasts that CBO director Elmendorf (brother of a top Democratic consultant) generated on demand as the fig leaf that serious Dems (and Repubs) hid behind as they made sure that the stimulus was nasty, brutish and short. Perhaps no man is more responsible for the rise of Donald Trump.

    1. a different chris

      We can worry much less about the amount of debt than most economists guessed because we didn’t realize it was all going to go to rich people!

      I guess Reuters cut that part off.

      And the further part about how it was going to go on the 99%’s tab, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t include the “dean of the Harvard Kennedy School”. Not to be paid off, because that would be impossible, but just to hold over our heads, if we ever get the idea again that we can actually have nice things.

  17. Jason Boxman

    Interestingly, I was pessimistic about the pandemic in the wrong way. I hilariously thought there’d be a military presence on the street, but it’s far easier to just leave people to die, which appears to be the de facto policy in play. I suppose a militarily enforced quarantine only makes sense when the mortality rate is much higher, and thus presents a serious risk to those in power. As it is, they can simply hide out, as the Democrat party leaders are.

  18. Jason Boxman

    And the end of private primary care practice might be at hand:

    While there are no hard numbers, there are signs that many small groups are barely hanging on. Across the country, only half of primary care doctor practices say they have enough cash to stay open for the next four weeks, according to one study, and many are already laying off or furloughing workers.

    But don’t worry!

    Private equity firms and large hospital systems are already eying many of these practices in hopes of buying them, said Paul D. Vanchiere, a consultant who advises pediatric practices.

    This crisis will certainly not go to waste.

    NYTimes story

  19. anon in so cal

    SUVs stored on ships….

    Apparently used vehicle prices are dropping, causing massive headaches for vehicle manufacturers. It will be hard to resell leased vehicles at their predetermined residual value.

    ” Used-Vehicle Wholesale Volume Collapsed, Prices Drop: Mega-Pain for Automakers, Leasing Companies, Rental-Car Companies, Banks, Bondholders, Stockholders”


    Separately, re: housing construction declines: imho, that’s a good thing. Here in California, every last square foot of open space has been in developers’ crosshairs.

  20. Amfortas the hippie

    i spent the last few hours on a shroom trip

    first in 30 years.

    i can report with confidence that:
    It Will Be Allright.

    I’ve been to the Abyss, again…and looked in!

    It Will Be Alright.

    everythings still got a bit of an Aura around it…

    It Will Be Alright.

    So Sayeth that thing that is behind things.

    Somewhere near the Root….

    It Will Be Alright.

    1. periol

      I’m glad to hear it. I’ve had the same thoughts, but you never know.

      Sure seems to me that in the long run, this is going to make things better. It may not be alright tomorrow, but it will be eventually. The universe is helping us to make the changes we couldn’t make ourselves.

      Thanks for sharing, really appreciated.

    2. richard

      good to hear
      was going to ask how doc visit went, if you got the test
      but this sounds like a better Test to me, i like the results anyway

    3. ShamanicFallout

      Yes, I think this vibe is starting to appear. I was going through my books yesterday looking for something to read yesterday and out of everything out popped a book called Storming Heaven by Jay Stephens. It’s a fantastic book about the rise of the psychedelic movement, from Hoffman, Huxley, Leary and the psylocibin project, Ginsburg, Kesey and the Pranksters. I wasn’t even alive then and it seems that so many things went sideways and weird in the 60s but, also, like then, we are in desperate need of real vision right now. Is something beginning to stir?

  21. VietnamVet

    Even the WaPo gets that the lockdown (mitigation) is not working. There is no decline or even a plateau in the number of cases in 20 states. The USA is reopening despite it. 130,000 seems to be the new total deaths but this will escalate to a million and half deaths if there is no mitigation at all.

    But, being owned by Jeff Bezos, the reporters only list Donald Trump’s many shortcomings; not that the USA and UK are failed states. There is a bipartisan coalition to make billionaires whole, but not one penny for a public health system to test, trace and isolate the infected. There is a complete lack of direction in fighting the virus. You’d think technocrats would pinpoint hotspots like nursing homes and meat packing plants and direct resources there to prevent infections. No. Tens of thousands are dead and meat is in short supply. With no income, unrest is certain. This is failure of the magical thinking ideologies; Dominionism, Globalism, Anarchism, and Liberalism. Functioning governments are necessary to save human lives on earth. Only restoration of a constitutional democracy and a national public health system will prevent chaos in the USA.

  22. Yet AnotherChris

    We have a problem in this country with innumeracy, or the failure to comprehend mathematical concepts. Imagine that an ice storm/blizzard struck all of the United States simultaneously, such that – absent a closure of the Interstate highways – traffic fatalities would rise 25x over normal levels. 3,000 fatalities per day, at minimum. That’s the rosy prediction for the body count we are about to see. No one in their right mind would argue to keep the Interstates open and let people take their chances. And this doesn’t even account for the contagion dynamic of Covid19. Car crashes are usually discrete events. Viruses tend to be less forgiving.

  23. Procopius

    I’ve been trying to get a handle on the degree to which CARES has actually helped people. The addition of 30 MILLION new applications, given the obsolete hardwar and software that most states use, should have overwhelmed the underfunded, overly restricted, programs. Praising the Democrats for getting $600 a week added to the benefit is good, but how many people are actually getting that? Where is that story being reported? I’ve seen anecdotal reports that only 10% of those who filed in early April have actually been approved. What happens if, say, 50% of those 30 million (plus the many millions who are not even eligible to apply for unemployment insurance, are never approved to receive the benefits? I think the probability of that happening is greater than zero. What does that do to the projected “recovery?”

  24. Onebelowall

    My brother-in-law and a cousin work at that Fed-Ex facility in Newark. My cousin actually recovered from Covid. My brother-in-law is nervous, but he thinks he might be safer since he works in a room overseeing the floor as opposed to being around a bunch of people.

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