2:00PM Water Cooler 6/1/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I was trying to get my head round the riots, if riots we should call them, and so I got a very late start. I will add more links in due course. –lambert UPDATE All done!


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Today I thought I would look at big states not in the Acela Corridor: California, Texas, Florida:

The vertical scale is scaled to the highlight. All the curves are calendar-, not inception-based. It’s clear that this country cannot be said to have the pandemic under control.


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

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

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

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Biden (D)(1): “Biden meets with black leaders at local church amid unrest” [Associated Press]. “[A]fter another night of violent protests, Biden gathered with roughly a dozen local black leaders during an intimate hometown meeting [in Wilington, DE] ahead of a virtual meeting with mayors from Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago and St. Paul, Minnesota… If elected, [Biden’ promised to ‘deal with institutional racism’ and set up a police oversight body in his first 100 days in office. … In an election that is likely to be a referendum on the sitting president, some Biden aides say privately that the best plan may be to let Trump do himself in. Yet there is also a recognition that Biden needs to do more than simply wait for voters who may be turned off by Trump to turn toward him…. All the attendees, including Biden, wore face masks but lowered them as they spoke.” • In an indoor space, so the masks were purely performative.

Biden (D)(2): “Biden’s in one of the best positions for any challenger since scientific polling began” [Harry Enten, CNN]. “But it’s important to put individual polls into context, and that context continues to show Biden’s in one of the best positions for any challenger since scientific polling began in the 1930s. There were more than 40 national public polls taken at least partially in the month of May that asked about the Biden-Trump matchup. Biden led in every single one of them. He’s the first challenger to be ahead of the incumbent in every May poll since Jimmy Carter did so in 1976. Carter, of course, won the 1976 election. Biden’s the only challenger to have the advantage in every May poll over an elected incumbent in the polling era. Biden remains the lone challenger to be up in the average of polls in every single month of the election year. His average lead in a monthly average of polls has never dipped below 4 points and has usually been above it. Biden hasn’t trailed Trump this entire year in a single telephone poll in which at least some voters were reached via their cell phones — historically the most accurate. The ABC News/Washington Post poll is the latest example of these polls. In fact, Biden’s never been behind in any of these polls since at least January 2019. No other challenger has come close to that mark. Indeed, the stability of Biden’s edge has been what is most impressive. The May polls had Biden up by 6 points on average.” • This stability was the case in the primaries, too.

UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “Why Val Demings May Be the Best Running Mate for Joe Biden Right Now” [Vogue]. “Yes, America needs to heal…. One of the ways this can happen is by having representation at the highest levels of government by African Americans. Representation is one of the ways we can heal. It also may be the easiest way back to the White House…. Luckily, there are a number of incredible African American women in that VP pool…. My preference, however — especially now — would be the inspirational Val Demings, who has an amazing life story. Born in a two-room, wooden framed home in Jacksonville, Fla. — the youngest of seven children to a maid and janitor — Demings was the first in her family to graduate from college. She began her career as a social worker, then joined the Orlando police department, eventually moving up to be the city first-ever female police chief. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 2017, and this year was one of the House impeachment managers.” • So she’s a cop. That should play well in the suburbs.

Sanders (D)(1): “Fear Pervades Black Politics, and Makes Us Agents of Our Own Oppression” [Black Agenda Report]. From March, still germane: “Black voters in South Carolina kicked off Joe Biden’s political resurrection last Saturday, and stuck with the worthless corporate hack through Super Tuesday’s primary contests. Although the craven Black Misleadership Class will no doubt shout hallelujahs that “hands that picked cotton now pick presidents” and claim Black voters exercised brilliant “strategic” judgment in making themselves indispensable to the corprate Democratic party establishment, the true motivator of Black Biden supporters is a pervasive and deeply corrosive fear. Not just dread of four more years of Trump, although that is central to Black political behavior, but abject terror at the very thought that the Democratic Party – “our” party, in many Black folks’ minds – might fracture under the challenge of the Sandernistas. Voluminous data over many years has shown that African Americans are to the left of Hispanics on issues of bread and butter and, especially, war and peace, and far to the left of white Democrats. But, unlike Hispanics, Blacks cannot be depended on to uphold their own historical political consensus in Democratic Party primary elections for fear of weakening the chances of defeating The White Man’s Party. Hyper-conscious of their minority and despised status – and surrounded by hostile, race-obsessed white Republicans in the southern states – older Blacks cling to Democratic Party structures as if their lives depend on it. The ascent of Donald Trump has only tightened the duopoly trap, causing Blacks to invest their votes in candidates they perceive as “good for the party,” as if that is synonymous with Black interests. Ruling class panic at the prospect of losing control of the top of Democratic ticket has deeply infected the party’s most loyal constituency. Thus, Black folks over 40, and many younger ones, are behaving like Malcolm X’s ‘house Negro,’ who asks with genuine concern, ‘Is we sick, boss?’ when the master is feeling poorly.” • Ouch. And here we are!

Trump (R)(1): “Trump slams governors as ‘weak,’ urges crackdown on protests” [Associated Press]. “Trump spoke to governors on a video teleconference that also included law enforcement and national security officials, telling the state leaders they ‘have to get much tougher.’ ‘Most of you are weak,’ Trump said. ‘You have to arrest people.’ ‘You’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again,’ said Trump. ‘We’re doing it in Washington, D.C. We’re going to do something that people haven’t seen before.’ Attorney General Bill Barr, who was also on the call, told governors that a joint terrorist task force would be used to track agitators and urged local officials to ‘dominate’ the streets and control, not react to crowds, and urged them to ‘go after troublemakers.'” • One wonders where this will play well. Anyhow, I don’t know why we militarized the police if we don’t want them to use their toys.

UPDATE Trump (R)(2): “Trump Leads Biden in the States He Won in 2016: Campaign Update” [Bloomberg]. “President Donald Trump leads Joe Biden 51% to 44% in the so-called “red states” he won in 2016, according to an ABC News/Washington Post survey released on Sunday. Biden had a wide, 65% to 32% lead in the states won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. The results highlighted the difference between a raw national poll — in which Biden led Trump by 10 points, 53% to 43% among registered voters — and the Electoral College, which will decide the victor in November. Clinton won the popular vote over Trump in 2016 by about 65.85 million to 62.95 million, but Trump triumphed in the Electoral College, 304 to 227. Biden’s national lead was also halved to five points, 51% to 46%, among people who say they’re certain to vote in November, underlining the importance of generating enthusiasm to drive voter turnout. Potential Trump voters were more enthusiastic.” • 65% to 32% seems insurmountable, and clearly Trump is doing little to move those numbers. By the same token, Democrats seem to be doing little to move the needle in Red States. I don’t think I can take another four years of whinging about the Electoral College if Biden’s brain trust blows it as badly as Clinton’s did.

Warren (D)(1): “Warren as Biden’s running mate makes no electoral sense” [Harry Enten, CNN]. “Combining our last two CNN polls (March and May) that asked about Warren’s favorability finds that she gets about a -20 point net favorability (favorable – unfavorable) among Democratic leaning voters who say they are not voting for Biden at this point…. That makes sense when you look at the groups Biden is doing well with and the voters Warren generally appealed to during the 2020 primaries. Biden’s actually doing quite well on his left, for example. An average of recent live interview polls shows that Biden’s getting 85% among self-described liberal voters…. Like with liberals, Biden is performing very well for a Democrat among white college educated women…. This is not to say all is well with Biden and the Democratic base. Biden does have problems with three key parts of the Democratic coalition: black voters (particularly young ones), Hispanic voters and young voters generally. Biden holds large leads among all, but not to the same degree that Clinton held at the end of the 2016 campaign. These are mostly groups that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders did well with in the primary, but there’s little sign Warren has any special appeal to them. She underperformed with all of them in the primary.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

What a legitimacy crisis looks like? Worth a listen (via DG):

Liberal Democrats have lost their minds:

To be fair, Rice, as a [x] black [x] woman, is on Biden’s short list, so she has to conform to RussiaGate lunacy (as did Sanders, sadly).

Bright ideas (1):

Bright ideas (2):

Look at all that air. They can’t even fill their news hole!

UPDATE Thanks, Obama:

UPDATE “The Golden Rule Is Dying of Covid-19” [John Authers, Bloomberg]. “[G]etting people to sacrifice in the name of the golden rule requires trust in governments to make sure that those sacrifices are not wasted. In many places, that doesn’t exist…. Other than in countries where the state could rely on its ability to coerce people, like China, lockdowns worked most effectively under governments perceived to be trustworthy and efficient, like Germany or Norway.” • Or South Korea and Taiwan, Hong Kong being the exception unless you think of the protest movement as a parallel government. More: “For people in the densely populated cities of the Acela corridor, who tend to be politically liberal, wearing masks and following government instructions seems like a good idea. For the more sparsely populated states in the middle of the country, whose citizens are philosophically more inclined to distrust the government, it is different.” • But see today’s #COVID19 map: Both California and Texas are in trouble. Anyhow, interesting article, well worth a read.

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.

Construction: “April 2020 Construction Spending Declined But Was Only Marginally Affected By The Coronavirus” [Econintersect]. “Construction spending is trending downward but remarkedly strong considering the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Private construction had been fueling construction growth – but currently, public construction is fueling the growth.Consider this a slightly worse report relative to last month even with the decline reported by Census.”

Manufacturing: “May 2020 ISM and Markit Manufacturing Surveys Remain Deep In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “Based on these surveys and the district Federal Reserve Surveys, one would expect the Fed’s Industrial Production index growth rate to decline. Overall, surveys do not have a high correlation to the movement of industrial production (manufacturing) since the Great Recession. No question these surveys suggest the economy is contracting all thanks to the coronavirus.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “Elon Musk vs. Bay Area officials: These emails show what happened behind the scenes in the Tesla factory fight” [MarketWatch]. “[Alameda County Interim Health Officer Erica Pan] requested police ensure several specific precautions were being taken, including screening of employees entering the facility, frequent cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces, and ensuring employees wear masks and maintain physical distancing. ‘My understanding is they only plan to have ~10% of their employees (~1500 employees during day shift) working this week to begin to prepare for increased operations as soon as next week, ‘Pan wrote. The next afternoon, [Fremont Police Lt. Brian] Shadle and another officer arrived at the Fremont factory at 4:20 p.m. Pacific, and found a bit more activity than what Pan expected. ‘During the visit it was extremely apparent that the manufacturing plant was NOT operating at full capacity it appeared that they were only operating between 25-30 percent of functions,’ Shadle wrote. The rest of Shadle’s report noted changes to employee shuttles, extensive hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment readily available, and abundant signage regarding social distancing and proper procedures during a nearly two-hour tour. ‘The facility is huge and overall the safety measures that have been instituted exceeded the safety measures outlined by the Alameda County Health Department,’ Shadle concluded. ‘I am impressed at the length of the visit and the details of the report,’ Pan wrote in response to the report. ‘I realize this is not typical law enforcement work so I greatly appreciate the time, detail, and assistance.'” • This seems odd. Why wasn’t there a heatlh officer along with the cops?

* * *

Mr. Market: “Dow claws back early losses as U.S. manufacturing data suggests worst of economic downturn is past” [MarketWatch]. “Evidence of rising tensions between the U.S. and China and social unrest in America helped to create some headwinds for markets early Monday, but the bearish sentiment gave way after economic data underlined the progress from states taking away measures implemented to stem the spread of the COVID-19 disease. All 50 states are under some stage of reopening from forced shutdowns due to the pandemic.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 58 Neutral (previous close: 52 Neutral;) [CNN]. One week ago: 50 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 29 at 1:18pm. Last updated Jun 1 at 1:02pm. So Mr. Market came back from the Nineteenth Hole on Sunday, and decided to get bullish?

Rapture Index: Closes down one on earthquakes. “The lack of activity has downgraded this category” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing. I feel apocalyptic. Why don’t these guys?

The Biosphere

“No asteroids needed: ancient mass extinction tied to ozone loss, warming climate” [Science]. “The end of the Devonian period, 359 million years ago, was an eventful time: Fish were inching out of the ocean, and fernlike forests were advancing on land. The world was recovering from a mass extinction 12 million years earlier, but the climate was still chaotic, swinging between hothouse conditions and freezes so deep that glaciers formed in the tropics. And then, just as the planet was warming from one of these ice ages, another extinction struck, seemingly without reason. Now, spores from fernlike plants, preserved in ancient lake sediments from eastern Greenland, suggest a culprit: The planet’s protective ozone layer was suddenly stripped away, exposing surface life to a blast of mutation-causing ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Just as the extinction set in, the spores became misshapen and dark, indicating DNA damage, John Marshall, a palynologist at the University of Southampton, and his co-authors say in a paper published today in Science Advances. It’s evidence, he says, that ‘all of the ozone protection is gone.’ Scientists have long believed—at least before humanity became a force for extinction—that there were just two ways to wipe out life on Earth: an asteroid strike or massive volcanic eruptions. But 2 years ago, researchers found evidence that in Earth’s worst extinction—the end-Permian, 252 million years ago—volcanoes lofted Siberian salt deposits into the stratosphere, where they might have fed chemical reactions that obliterated the ozone layer and sterilized whole forests. Now, spores from the end-Devonian make a compelling case that, even without eruptions, a warming climate can deplete the ozone layer, says Lauren Sallan, a paleobiologist at the University of Pennsylvania. ‘Because the evidence is so strong, it will make people rethink other mass extinction events.'” •

Health Care

UPDATE “Introductions and early spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the New York City area” [Science]. “Based on genetic similarity and phylogenetic analysis of full-length viral genome sequences, most cases diagnosed during the 18 days after the first-reported COVID-19 case in NY State appear to be associated with untracked transmission and potential travel-related exposures. Notably, the majority of introductions appear to have been sourced from Europe and the USA.” • Well worth reading in conjunction with the next article from the Globe–

UPDATE “The virus’s tale” [Boston Globe]. Interesting tick-tock. The story takes care not to begin with the massive Biogen outbreak, due to a corporate conference sponsored in Boston at the Marriott Long Wharf hotel. “By March 11, Massachusetts had 95 confirmed cases of the virus…. Of these, 77 were tied to the Biogen conference.” • Globalization, and globalizers, as I have said. This really frosts me:

By Friday, March 6, [Mass General] was in full emergency response mode, following two days of mounting tensions around the Biogen outbreak.

It had started on Wednesday, after Biogen announced that two conference attendees tested positive following their return home to Europe. Five rattled Biogen employees soon showed up at the MGH emergency room, demanding to be tested.

Panic among Biogen workers got so bad that the company’s Global Security Operations Center sent out an urgent e-mail telling employees to refrain from showing up at Mass. General “to demand to be tested for the Coronavirus.” Ominously, the company’s warning concluded with this sentence: “Hospital leaders have warned Biogen that they may need to have the Hospital Police Department intervene to prevent Biogen employees from entering the emergency room.”

Yikes (and a second appeal to the police, after Fremont v. Tesla). Most people are in no position at all to “demand” to be tested. Sheesh.

“The case for doing everything outside” [The Week]. “It’s not impossible to catch the coronavirus outdoors, but public health experts consider outside transmission extremely unlikely if people take appropriate precautions…. This means two things. First, people going to the beach, pool, or park aren’t being reckless if they’re maintaining distance from others and practicing proper hygiene. And second, if we want to safely move toward normalcy before there’s a vaccine, reliable treatments, or widespread natural immunity, we should move life outside as often as we can….. Education isn’t the only activity we could shift outdoors. Already some cities are considering closing parking lanes or entire streets to give restaurants more room for “patio” seating… Gathering outside could work for churches and other religious assemblies, too.” • Not in the winter. For those who have winter…

“Mass gatherings, erosion of trust upend coronavirus control” [Associated Press]. “It’s unclear if the protests themselves will trigger large new outbreaks. The protests were outside, where infections don’t spread as readily as indoors. Also, many of the protesters were wearing masks, and much of the contact was likely less-hazardous “transient” moments of people moving around, passing each other, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University. But, still, experts worry that public efforts to contain the disease in the future could be undermined.” And then there’s this: “In a press conference Saturday, Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington used the term ‘contact tracing‘ when describing an investigation into arrested protesters there. He said the goal is to ‘see if there are crime or white supremacy organizations that have played a role’ and ‘to understand how do we go after them, legally,’ Harrington said.” • So even “contact tracing,” the term, is going viral and spreading, we know not where. Guaranteed it won’t stop with application to white supremacy organizations.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

UPDATE Map of the protests:

Tellingly, this story degenerates into a photo essay. Not that there’s anything wrong with photos, but I want data. Size of protests. Location of protests, ideally mapped to neighborhoods city by city. Breakdown of protesters by demographic categories. Targeted buildings. A timeline. And so forth. All we have at this point is anecdote (and rhetoric (and RussiaGate ffs))).

UPDATE Serve and protect. Transcript and thread:

The whole thread is worth reading; I found the Times video timeline almost incomprehensible, and this thread is a useful supplement.

UPDATE “Videos, threats, but few signs protests have been stoked by ‘outsider’ extremist groups” [NBC]. “Unrest, violence and property destruction in cities across the U.S. on Saturday showed few signs of having been stoked by organized extremists despite a growing narrative from several political figures that outside groups are to blame for some of the worst scenes of recent protests…. And anecdotal reports of white supremacists and other extremist groups fomenting violence have been amplified by similar claims from authorities, including Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who tweeted on Saturday that the city is “now confronting white supremacists, members of organized crime, out of state instigators, and possibly even foreign actors to destroy and destabilize our city and our region….. That claim was later boosted by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, who claimed outside protesters, white supremacists and drug cartels were part of the protest groups in Minneapolis.” • Nice job on the “outside agitators,” liberal Democrats. More: “[L]ittle evidence for those claims have been put forward, and a previous statement by the mayor of St. Paul that most of the people arrested on Friday in Minneapolis were from out of town was later walked back. NBC News reached out to police departments in several major cities that were the scene of protests, but thus far none have said whether outside groups had been found to be operating during the protests.” • But I’m sure the DHS fusion centers are on it!

UPDATE “Nothing fundamental will change”:

Yes, McConnell controls the Senate, but have the Democrats presented any program? Aside from blaming outsiders and the Russians?

“Column: What images of burning buildings and broken windows tell us, and what they don’t” [Los Angeles Times]. “A common sentiment I hear is that rioting is not the answer. But the painful truth is that rioting is not supposed to be an answer to anything. It is explicitly an expression of anger and frustration, a fire whose sparks land indiscriminately. A city burning is what happens when people have abandoned hope for answers….. In Los Angeles, many residents remember what it’s like to try to answer the questions that images of a burning city raise. And if we have found a meaningful answer to the questions raised by the 1992 riots, or the Watts riots, or the Zoot Suit Riots.”

UPDATE News you can use. Thread:

Riot vs. rebellion:

We have a ways to go…


“Cornerstone Speech” [Alexander H. Stephens, Battlefield Trust]. Killer Mike has been telling us to read this speech by Confederate Vice President Stephens, and it’s a humdinger that completely demolishes the Lost Cause propaganda propagated by the Daughters of the Confederacy, which protesters set on fire the other day in Richmond, in a case of property damage, though one might question whether karma is damage. In any case, here are Stephens’ views on the Federal budget, which are quite up to date, if one is a mainstream economist. Stephens is analyzying the correlation of forces between the Union and the Confederacy: “The debts of the seven confederate States sum up in the aggregate less than eighteen millions, while the existing debts of the other of the late United States sum up in the aggregate the enormous amount of one hundred and seventy-four millions of dollars. This is without taking into account the heavy city debts, corporation debts, and railroad debts, which press, and will continue to press, as a heavy incubus upon the resources of those States.” And: “In Georgia, for instance, we have done as much for the cause of internal improvements as any other portion of the country, according to population and means. We have stretched out lines of railroads from the seaboard to the mountains; dug down the hills, and filled up the valleys at a cost of not less than $25,000,000. All this was done to open an outlet for our products of the interior, and those to the west of us, to reach the marts of the world. No State was in greater need of such facilities than Georgia, but we did not ask that these works should be made by appropriations out of the common treasury. The cost of the grading, the superstructure, and the equipment of our roads was borne by those who had entered into the enterprise.” • In other words, Georgia built a railroad to send cotton to ports for export. Big [family blogging] deal. The railroad system the North built knit the entire industrial economy together. I mean, Alex, come on, man. Everybody knows the Confederacy had a lousy rail system; that’s one reason their interior lines of communication were inferrior.

Groves of Academe

“Risky Strategy by Many Private Colleges Leaves Them Exposed” [New York Times]. See Yves on this topic here. “Mr. Ducoff, a former administrator at Northeastern University, and Ms. Manville, a former administrator at Southern New Hampshire University, looked for a credible list of financially vulnerable colleges and couldn’t find one. So they decided to create their own, using publicly available information about trends in colleges’ revenues, expenses, debts and cash reserves. They assembled and were preparing to release a list of colleges that were headed toward insolvency. But when Inside Higher Ed, working on a news article to accompany the data, began to contact the colleges affected, angry emails and phone calls started pouring in. Making such information public would be ‘grossly irresponsible and would cause great harm to the college,’ one lawyer wrote, demanding that Mr. Ducoff’s and Ms. Manville’s small start-up firm, called Edmit, ‘refrain from publication.’ Edmit didn’t have the money to fend off multiple lawsuits. It put the list in a drawer. That was in November 2019, shortly before the first recorded coronavirus victim began showing symptoms in China.”

“Universities will never be the same after the coronavirus crisis” [Nature]. “As universities face major changes, their financial outlook is becoming dire. Revenues are plummeting as students (particularly international ones) remain home or rethink future plans, and endowment funds implode as stock markets drop…. The universities that are likely to fare best are those that are rich and powerful. But even those face challenges…. All institutions are facing major financial problems, however. Wealthy private US universities, such as Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, expect to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in the next fiscal year. UK universities collectively face a shortfall of at least £2.5 billion (US$3 billion) in the next year because of projected drops in student enrolment, according to the UK consulting firm London Economics. And Australian universities could shed up to 21,000 full-time jobs this year, including 7,000 in research, a government report said in May.” • So. just as with a functional press, we’ll be losing university research, exactly when we need it most.

Class Warfare

“Why wealth gap has grown despite record-long economic growth” [Associated Press]. From July, 2019, still germane. I’ve been looking for a chart with this breakdown for some time:

Breaks down rather neatly to the Democrat base; you can see why they genuinely would thank Obama.

“The dead end of racial identity politics” [Intransigence]. “The most recent manifestation of this phenomenon is an activist network in the United States that calls itself “Black Lives Matter,” which has become synonymous with the movement against racialized police violence, a clear-cut example of capitalists and their lackeys co-opting the authentic resistance of black workers. This organization, whose ties to the Democratic Party-NGO complex are fairly well-established at this point, attempts to harness the explosive spontaneity of the proletarian element within these social movements, which often takes the form of riots and looting, into forms of engagement with the capitalist system that do not interfere in any way with profitmaking.10 It is unsurprising, therefore, that their manifesto reads like the DNC platform, but with demands for reparations and investment into black-owned businesses — effectively income redistribution for black capitalists — thrown in for good measure. Black Lives Matter are modern-day Garveyites, only they have traded in the overt homophobia and misogyny of the latter for hollow social justice rhetoric that throws a veneer of radicalism over their essentially capitalist politics.” • Bracing, albeit from a tiny groupuscle.

“NY State Legislature Drops Rent Cancellation Bill, Takes Up ‘Totally Inadequate’ Measure Instead” [Gothamist]. “Notably absent from the agenda: legislation to waive rent for tenants facing hardship during the pandemic. That bill, introduced in March by Queens State Senator Mike Gianaris, won’t get a vote this week, despite its 21 co-sponsors in the Senate and 22 in the Assembly…. Instead, legislators are poised to vote Thursday on a far more modest form of tenant relief. Dubbed the Emergency Rent Relief Act of 20201, the bill would provide vouchers to landlords on behalf of a small subset of rent-burdened tenants who lost income during the pandemic. To be eligible, a landlord’s tenants must earn below 80 percent of an area’s median income, and have been paying more than 30 percent of their household income in rent before March 7th.” • Mark Ames comments: “Means testing—core Dem Party ideology.”

News of the Wired

Normally I wouldn’t run an animal (I run plants) but this seems to capture that Monday feeling so well, especially now:

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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 (WB):

WB writes: “You wondered where umbrellas come from? Umbrella trees, of course.” Add oil?

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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. Pavel

    Given that Biden — through his support for programs such as the crime bill, NAFTA, bankruptcy laws favouring the banks, usurious credit card interest rates, endless budget-busting foreign wars [“Humanitarian interventions” — Ed.] — and his ilk are responsible in great part for the poverty and desperation felt by blacks, it might seem a bit cheeky for him to portray himself as their hero.

    Just my 2p.

    1. albrt

      I hope shooting protesters in the legs will be a prominent plank of the Democrat party platform.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Democrats and Republicans are totally not the same! (No, they are not the same, but they don’t call it a two-party system for nothing…..)

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              If I may interpret the vague expression of discomfort and dislike in your comment:

              Yes indeed, the chickens are coming home to roost all around us, quite visibly so. There are different species of chicken — some are greatly invested in Rhode Island Reds, others in Norwegian Blues — and they all have distinctive characteristics, but at the end of the day, they are all chickens, all roosting, and all part of the same factory farm. Perhaps it did not used to be that way, but it is now.

  2. Wukchumni

    I’ve been watching videos of protests and police reaction, and oh so many MRAP’s and Hummers, made me feel as if I was in Baghdad.

    How much longer before I.E.D.’s make an appearance on our mean streets, in order to complete the circle of violence created in 2003?

    1. Carolinian

      From your local paper (above)

      it is explicitly an expression of anger and frustration

      And looting? What does that express? Is a loss of human dignity somehow salved by raiding Rodeo drive or, in the case of Phoenix, heading straight for Scottsdale and shops full of status goods? Should we assume all victims are virtuous or should current protest leaders be denouncing those who act wrongly, regardless of status. Atlanta’s mayor got it right. Those who don’t follow her example are hurting their cause and perhaps helping Trump’s re-election cause. IMHO.

      1. Rogue scholar

        I’m sure they don’t care who is elected in November because they know nothing will change. Do you expect desperate and destitute people to act rationally? How about we help them instead of scolding.

        1. Carolinian

          desperate and destitute

          They are stealing iPads and Air Jordans, not loaves of bread like Jean Valjean. Can we at least entertain the notion that some who are stealing are just garden variety thieves? And even if you don’t entertain that notion you can be assured that there are plenty who do. In narrative terms it helps to keep the victims and victimizers clearly separated.

          1. jsn

            A comment at Moon of Alabama:
            “I think this relevant to how fractured the discourse is…

            It’s true that people engaged in peaceful protests.
            It’s true that people engaged in lawless looting.
            It’s true that provocateurs have committed acts of vandalism and sometimes carry umbrellas.
            It’s true that Antifa exists and that they don’t advocate gently placing flowers in the gaping hole of a long gun.
            It’s true that some very messed up militia minded people call themselves Boogaloo Bois, wear Hawaiian shirts, and are showing up to add their brand of crazy to the mix.
            It’s true looters come in all shades and sizes.
            It’s true some desperate people are taking things they need.
            It’s true some opportunistic people are taking things they want.
            It’s true opportunistic government thugs suddenly shifted the Covid-19 rationale for using contract tracing to a catch-them-rioters rationale for using contract tracing.
            It’s true the policy infrastructure for enacting martial law has been a long-term, bi-partisan project.
            It’s true that now is the time to realize what’s at stake, but instead of acting collectively for our mutual benefit, the cognitive challenge of accepting that all these things can be true at the same time will keep us tied to one of these things to the exclusion of all the others.

            It’s hard work, I know. But I have faith in you.”

            1. Fiery Hunt

              Yeah, absolutely get that all of those statements (not in bold) are true. Totally completely agree.

              What I don’t get… what mutual benefit is there in embracing looters, provocateurs and Boogaloos? Seriously.

              It really sounds like the argument to Vote for Biden because otherwise…fill in the “end of the world” scenario blank.

              For Democrats and Republicans, looters, provocateurs and Boogaloos..
              I say no. nope, nada, not with my last breath.

              Morals matter.

              1. jsn

                “Morals matter”, yes.

                They mattered for the last 40 years as the poor were abandoned.

                They mattered for the last 400 while blacks amongst the poor were enslaved and then freed to malign neglect.

                “For no society of men whatever can persevere its unity and continue to exist, if the criminal element is not punished, since, if the diseased member does not receive proper treatment, it causes all the rest, even as our own physical bodies, to share in its affliction. Because when the wrong-doers have power they become more daring, and corrupt the excellent also by causing them to grow dejected and to believe that they will obtain no benefit from right behavior. For wherever the insolent element has the advantage there inevitably the decent element has the worst of it; and wherever wrong-doing is unpunished, there self-restraing also goes unrewarded. For it is not by any characteristic of birth that what is friendly is distinguished from what is hostile, but it is determined by men’s habits and actions, which, if they are good can make that which is alien like unto itself, but if bad can alienate everything, even that which is alien.” Julius Caesar.

                Root out the coruption of the powerful, treat everyone with dignity and then it will become clear who is good and bad and the bad can be dealt with. By systematically ignoring the needs of everyone outside the 10% for at least 20 years ordinary people have learned from brutal experienced, “that they will obtain no benefit from right behavior.” Until there is some reward for good behavior we can expect the chaos to continue.

                The criminal element will always be with us but when the default position is to treat everyone as if they are criminals, and this is precisely how we treat the poor, who mostly aren’t, while the most flaboyant of the rich most certainly are and yet avoid this treatment, we can expect the poor to be more tolerant of the petty criminals amongst them than the appaling predators who govern the machine that treats them all like criminals.

                1. Bsoder

                  Again, that would assume being a billionaire makes you the head of what? Capitalism? The power still resides in the people – else why all the effort to convince them it doesn’t. The army will never attack citizens in fact it will join them.

                  1. jsn

                    I hope you’re right, looks like we may be finding out.

                    It didn’t work that way when I was a kid, but then, it was a different army.

          2. clarky90

            “To the asshole who vandalized my car as my wife and I left the protest…


            “We had just spent the entire afternoon out there on the streets with you.

            We brought supplies for people and I used my white face to block intersections off from the cops.

            We were close to the fires helping make sure everyone around stayed safe.

            When we were leaving, we turned our car off at an intersection and patiently waited however long it might take to get a clear path through, even though other cars were revving past dangerously.

            Yet after some folks stopped pedestrians and waved us through, you felt it would be badass to run up to our car yelling, and when I rolled the window down, bash the side of my car in with a bat.

            I don’t give a shit about cars, but you put us in the scariest position of the entire evening, worse than getting smoke and gas shot at us and being surrounded by fire and folks breaking store windows.

            You ruined my day. So for the record, fuck you in particular. You were obviously antsy for some kind of violence, bringing and brandishing weapons, so I hope you got your satisfaction by beating in an ally’s driver-side door. Asshole.”

          3. Rogue scholar

            I’m not saying there are no bad actors there, but if we make that the focus, it will delegitimize the true purpose of the protests. Can we really know what the reasons are for everyone looting or burning? Does anyone really pay attention when the protests are peaceful? If we don’t make serious changes soon, this will prove to be just a precursor to the main event.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Can we really know what the reasons are for everyone looting or burning?

              We do not. I’d speculate there are three classes of participants:

              1) Protesters. A justice demand.

              2) Looters. A consumer good demand

              3) Rebels. A systemic change demand.

              I don’t know the percentages for each bucker, and I suspect it varies by the city. I would also bet it changes over time.

              Of course:

              4) Cops (who also have their own categories: “Good,” corrupt, looters, etc.)

        2. Fiery Hunt

          How about we not infantilize desperate and destitute people?

          They have full agency over their own actions and we should never condone robbery. Those stealing boxes of Nikes are not standing up for their rights. They’re not demanding justice.

          Theft and thieves.. That’s all it is, plain and simple.

          1. cocomaan

            I’m with you. If the police who stand by and do not confront abuse are as bad as the cops perpetrating it (as is the saying right now), then the protestors who refuse to confront the insane people in their midst are complicit in those crimes as well.

            Sorry, but we’re often defined by the worst people in our social group. That’s life.

            1. marym

              There’s often video and reports of protesters trying to stop looters. I disagree that people who are there to protest peacefully are in the same social group and defined by those who are there to loot.

              1. MLTPB

                Hong Kong protesters and US ones.

                1. If there are looters in HK as well, they will similatly be lumped together. The peaceful protestors do well to confront, I hope.

                2. If the protesters seek another party for help, a country (the UK, for example) or a political party in our domestic case, say, the Green Party to speak up for them, it’d be understandable.

          2. JBird4049

            Everybody knows that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. No matter what the poor do they’re just screwed. And peaceful protests appears to be a sucker’s game. It is always a demand for peaceful, ignorable protests that goes away after each outrage. Nothing ever changes for the better, but only for the worse. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights have become dead letters while the preamble to the Declaration of Independence is considered too radical and even terroristic. What should we the people do?

            Not saying that stealing stuff is right or breaking windows and burning buildings is either, but until Goldman Sachs executives et al., as well as much of our legislators, and many law enforcement people in the vast police state of ours are hauled off on charges, under the laws we already have on the books, I am not really going to criticize the rioters and their looting.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        See Krystal Ball above, we have an enormous segment of the population with no political representation whatsoever, even the slaves making the pyramids could petition the Pharoah (and BTW the wealth gap between slave and Pharoah was smaller than today) and they knew they would get their daily beer and barley or all heaven would break loose. So if this segment receives no benefit from government whatsoever then perhaps we should allow them to opt out of all taxation? I seem to recall a line from 240 years ago “no taxation without representation…”

        1. Michael Hudson

          oh dear. The pyramids were NOT built by slaves, but by skilled labor. The slave myth is biblical, not real. We have the budget receipts. See Steinkeller and Hudson, Labor in the Ancient World.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I love NC! I get to be corrected by actual world-renowned experts and authors. What a great site!

          2. Synoia

            Pyramids, certainly skilled Labor. But the contention that slaves were not skilled labor, or could not be skilled labor appears as absolute statement, in a complex society of slaves and free men.

            The slaves might have just done the heavy lifting, but heavy lifting is also skilled work.

      3. GramSci

        And looting? What does that express? Is a loss of human dignity somehow salved by raiding Rodeo drive or, in the case of Phoenix, heading straight for Scottsdale and shops full of status goods?

        You can tell who the liberals are. They never had to fence anything to get by. Except maybe junk mortgages.

        Human Dignity.

        1. Fiery Hunt

          Yeah, never had to fence SOMETHING I STOLE.
          No decent person has.
          Certainly had to sell what I could, prized possessions and such…including MY LABOR/TIME.

          Not really the justification for looting you were looking for…or is it?

      4. FluffytheObeseCat

        “Those who don’t follow [the mayor’s] example are hurting their cause and perhaps helping Trump’s re-election cause. IMHO.”

        Yes. It’s clear that Trump and his cabinet of unctuous self-aggrandizers plan to retain the White House on the basis of these events. Lambert’s Bloomberg link above (“President Donald Trump leads Joe Biden 51% to 44% in the so-called “red states” he won in 2016) is spot on. It doesn’t matter if fervent young people in the inner cities are enraged and engaged. They don’t vote in the Nebraskas and Indianas of the nation, and their fervor counts for nothing once a few pale-skinned boys from the exurbs break a bunch of windows near their protest. At night. After the genuine protestors are on their way home*.

        The President’s choice today was to come out the gate attacking our “weak” governors… after he’d hung them out to dry when COVID-19 hit. However that sneering malice is exactly what works for him in the reddest states, among the reddest voters. They will preen over themselves relentlessly in November as they pull the lever for Downpunch Donnie, the president who will keep sending federal taxpayer dollars their way while urban bridges, levees, schools, and roads crumble.

        *(That was the how and when of the vandalism where I live, in Reno, NV.)

        1. neo-realist

          He’ll retain the red states as per usual like most GOP Presidents and nominees, but we can’t be sure if he’ll win the swing states as he did in 2016. He’s a known (incompetent) quantity to the independent voters that rolled the dice on him four years ago and some appear to have buyers remorse, which may account for Biden’s present lead in the polls nationwide as well as a lead in several midwestern states that Trump needs to win. Factor in a lot of the people who sat on their hands for Hillary in 2016 that may regret what they did and vote for candidate who doesn’t repulse them the way she did and it’s not looking like a sure thing for Trump as some may think.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > a lot of the people who sat on their hands for Hillary in 2016

            It is true that people don’t hate Biden the way they hated Hillary. But he’s working on it!

      5. Alternate Delegate

        Why Minneapolis?

        I know every single one of those burned and damaged places you’ve seen in the reports, both in Minneapolis, where I went to South High School just off Lake Street, and in Saint Paul where I live now.

        We all lost places we love, but we’re not confused. And we’re not afraid.

        It’s not about those places we lost. It has nothing to do with a few stupid kids who broke and stole and burned places. It’s not about them. Of course you’ll hear that stuff repeated endlessly, to fan the fear, fear, fear, FEAR! But we are not afraid.

        Why Minneapolis?

        Because Minneapolis has a genuine multiracial working class that has been pushed too far and is still strong enough to defend itself. And we aren’t fooled for one second by either Trump or the Democratic Party. They’ll try to divide you. You should be mad at the black guy, at the Mexican.

        Or: you should be mad at the white male, you should identify as black or latino or female or gay or anything, anything … anything at all EXCEPT a person who works for a paycheck, and is not a member of the professional management class that serves the owners. Because all of this crap is just one big distraction from simple economic interest, which we share. And we all understand that.

        South Minneapolis is pretty diverse. Maybe still two-thirds white? Look at the photos and make up your own mind. But you can’t make them hate the black guy, or the Mexican. Because everyone knows each other. They’re not fooled for one second. They know what’s going on.

        We’re close to neighbors here whose business on Lake Street got hit and damaged. Of course they’re upset. And they’re also upset for the people they know whose places got burned down. At least they will be able to reopen.

        But I didn’t hear fear. And I don’t feel any fear. These events were made up of perfectly ordinary people, with perfectly ordinary reactions to perfectly outrageous things that needed to be reacted to. It got out of hand. It’s over. For this time. It’ll be back.

        Friends out in the suburbs offered that if we didn’t feel safe where we are we could come and stay with them. I laughed. How can I explain that I could feel more comfortable hanging out with these crowds all night, than staying in their suburb? Maybe when Covid treatments have improved we can have outdoor music again. Another May Day Parade in Powderhorn Park. The same thing, without the cops. The same people. Us.

        That’s why Minneapolis.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Because Minneapolis has a genuine multiracial working class that has been pushed too far and is still strong enough to defend itself.

          I would like to believe this claim. How do I derive it from data?

          1. Bsoder

            Easy. Call John Camp, guy won a Pulitzer covering crime & cops. He went on to write under the Name John Stanford. Call his agent if you want the low down. Call Al Franken.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Do you realize that “call” in the imperative, twice repeated, is assigning tasks, which is against the site rules?

              As for Al Franken, I’m surprised to find out that he’s the authority on the composition of the Minneapolis working class, but I’m willing to be persuaded by any evidence that you can supply; in the from of a link, for example.

          2. Alternate Delegate

            Wikipedia says the city as a whole is 64% white, 19% black, 11% latino, 6% asian, 2% native, 10% other, which has changed from 90+% white as recently as 1950. I would like to argue that this change has been remarkably peaceful, despite the infamous Scandinavian reserve. E.g., Hmong refugees settled mainly in the Twin Cities and Bakersfield CA, but I’ve been told “the smart Hmong have been leaving CA and coming to MN”. I don’t know how to quantify that. The Somalis are very active in city politics – it’s not just Omar Ilhan.

            This mapping site let me see racial composition and household income. The “white % only” chart has pale spots over North and South Minneapolis, mirrored by darker spots for other ethnicities. The household income chart is pretty pale for both areas. That seems like evidence for a multiracial working class.

            But there is an enormous qualitative difference between North and South Minneapolis that is not reflected in this map. Why was it not North Minneapolis? Because North Minneapolis has become a black ghetto, much more so since I was in school, and has become too beaten down to fight back anymore.

            The police violence is far worse in North than in South Minneapolis, but I can’t feel the multiracial solidarity there required to respond. That’s what I meant by “a genuine multiracial working class that has been pushed too far and is still strong enough to defend itself.”

            1. Alternate Delegate

              (The “10% other” in Minneapolis seems to be a non-exclusive category, or else the numbers don’t add up.)

    2. WillyBgood

      I had that same thought. Tighter and tighter go the screws on the pressure pots . . .

    3. Hepativore

      As it is, I am waiting for the Posse Comitatus act to be overturned as it will only be a matter of time before it is permanently repealed. Then we can look forward to the the military authorizing drone strikes on domestic targets, creating state-side death squads, as well as a declaration of martial law for the foreseeable future. The military-industrial complex and its private funders have been salivating at the thought of testing their new toys on the populace at large as well as quelling dissent even further. The civil unrest caused by COVID-19, surging unemployment, and the murder of George Floyd will probably give the Pentagon and its associated alphabet agencies all of the justification they need in order to convince our government to turn the full-strength of the military on the populace.

      Corporate stratocracy, here we come!

      1. D. Fuller

        There are exclusions and limitations. Such as defining groups as “terrorists”. Or in certain cases of law enforcement being adequate to contain mass civil unrest. CBRN attacks would also apply.

        Trump designates Antifa as terrorists, providing the excuse to use military force against US Citizens regardless of affiliation.

        That is the game plan Trump Admin appears to be pursuing. 3rd world politics of mass oppression.

        1. Sam M

          Given the ease of overreach with gov surveillance and tracking, it will be no surprise when leaders of the left and progressive movements are detained, followed, and/or arrested under “suspicion” of being antifa or “supporting” them.

      2. The Historian

        We just got closer. Trump gave a speech today at about 6:45 ET where he said he told the governors today to call out their National Guards and use overwhelming force to “dominate” the streets. And if a city or governor refuses to call out the National Guard, then he WILL send in Federal Troops, i.e., the military.

        And so it begins!

        He also talked about “One Law” – you know, that law that applies to all of us, but not to him or his pals?

        1. MLTPB

          I think most people will stay home after 6 PM if that’s the curfew law.

          And pay for gas at a gas station.

          Is it innate or conditioned, regardless of a few not doing so?

      3. Pookah Harvey

        Paul Jay interviewed Phyllis Bennis on his new news site theanalysis.news about 2 weeks ago. Here is her take on the Trump Biden controversy.

        “This is not merely a divide between factions of the ruling class. This is someone who has the personal ability to inspire, to enable to protect and defend the most reactionary, racist, Islamophobic, xenophobic sectors of the U.S. population. Seeing these armed protesters in Michigan and elsewhere as essentially his shock troops that are going to defend his position. I think that’s what we’re up against here. And I think the stakes are far higher than they would be in an otherwise ordinary election where you have a debate and a decision between two sectors of the ruling class, neither of whom you support, but who are not really all that different. I think there’s a huge difference here.”

      4. anon in so cal

        Did not Obama more or less overturn the Posse Comitatus Act?

        “The change came with the whisper of Barack Obama’s pen, as he signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual ratification of military Keynesianism—$662 billion this time—which has been our national policy since World War II bailed out the New Deal….

        ….Until December 31 the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 limited the powers of local governments and law enforcement agencies from using federal military personnel to enforce the laws of the land. No longer. The NDAA renders the Posse Comitatus Act a dead letter….”


      5. J.k

        Corporate stateocracy, i think we already have but what you are describing is closer to fascism.

    4. allan

      Missy Ryan @missy_ryan

      DOD’s Esper during WH call with governors: “I think the sooner that you mass and dominate
      the battlespace, the quicker this dissipates and we can get back to the right normal.”
      3:14 PM · Jun 1, 2020

      Looks like Ben Carson is about to become the Secretary of Housing and Battlespace Development.

  3. Samuel Conner

    > “Look at all that air. They can’t even fill their news hole!”

    That, or maybe the word filtered down to the layout person from senior local management that the only thing the PE owners care about is fatter margins.

  4. Billy

    A voice for the people:

    Susan Rice’s current net worth is estimated to be around $50 million. She has an annual salary of about $170,000. [Director of Netflix board of directors, assuring that only the correct messages go out]. Her net worth includes her own earnings as well as the money that she inherited from her parents, who also have a significant yearly income.

    So many similarities between her and Kamala Harris. Jamaican parentage, grew up in Canada, married to mega millionaires, serving the needs of the powers that be with their alleged Women of Color cards…

    1. Alternate Delegate

      You can measure “average household wealth” in two different ways: median wealth or mean wealth. The median household is the one in the middle. In contrast, the mean wealth is total wealth divided by the number of households. For a “normal distribution” of wealth these two kinds of average would be the same. (I really wish I still had a link to that study.)

      For massively unequal wealth, these two averages will look very different. The “median household wealth” will reflect some normal household right in among the 90%. However, the “mean household wealth” will be WAYYYYYY off to the right, weighted by all that 0.01%er loot that the, er, average household doesn’t have.

      Among white households, the “mean household wealth” is five times the “median household wealth”.

      Here’s what surprised me: among black households, the “mean household wealth” is SEVEN times the “median household wealth”.

      Suddenly, I understood the Obamas.

      1. Jack Parsons

        There has always been a small black middle & rich class: doctors, lawyers, brokers, women-owned beauty supply companies (the first black millionaire was a millionairess in beauty supplies, in the 1800s). I’m going to guess the history black colleges were funded & supported by them.

        As the GINI coefficient stretched, so did this class.

  5. Pat

    Susan Rice has had her fingers in the middle of pretty much every foreign policy disaster outside of the Iraq invasion over the last three decades, either as an official or as a consultant.

    More importantly there is supposedly evidence that she was part of the beginnings of the Russian interference investigate Trump moves by the Obama administration. She has more reasons for advancing this BS than just being on the Biden VP short list.

    Shorter: Rice says it is sunny grab your umbrella.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Susan Rice has had her fingers in the middle of pretty much every foreign policy disaster outside of the Iraq invasion over the last three decades, either as an official or as a consultant.

      So she’s a lock, then?

      1. Pat

        Should be, but with cops Harris, Klobuchar and Demings in the running…
        It’s a multitude of riches choice wise for Biden, and America.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        It was with immense pleasure that I recognized Madame Rice, travelling with her girlfriend but no Secret Service, in an empty waiting room at the small airport in Chiang Mai Thailand. This was when she was in office.

        I sauntered up and gave her chapter and verse on six year’s worth of abject scorn for Obama, his policies, his wars, his destruction. My list was specific, detailed, and completely unanswerable. I can’t say it penetrated her bubble but these things take time. The GF did shoot a glance at her partner: “is that true?”. Deeply satisfying truth to power moment.

    2. Stormcrow

      I have found myself wondering more than once whether, like Brennan, Susan Rice is CIA in one way or another.

  6. BoyDownTheLane

    Bright idea number next:

    1) Buy some vacant land.
    2) Hire un-booked summer carnival squads and their rides;
    3) Rig rides for an extended loop that runs past billboards featuring local and national media and political faces mounted on a durable and rigid surface; six-foot spacing between cars, please…!
    4) Sell tickets and face masks; rent pain guns, and sell paint balls in coded colors.

    Have a splat-a-thon that allows people to vent their displeasure with no more damage than some water-soluble paint on a stone surface.

    Hire folks to maintain counts, get video footage for airing on FacePlant and other social media

    Rinse and repeat.

    1. hunkerdown

      The English crown declared those guilty of high treason who:

      do maliciously wish, will or desire by words or writing, or by craft imagine, invent, practise, or attempt any bodily harm to be done or committed to the king’s most royal person, the queen’s or the heirs apparent [Elizabeth], or to deprive them of any of their dignity, title or name of their royal estates, or slanderously and maliciously publish and pronounce, by express writing or words, that the king should be heretic, schismatic, tyrant, infidel or usurper of the crown…

      The Framers pointedly rejected that definition of treason. I support the return to a commonplace where the willingness to see blue blood in the streets is more prevalent than servility.

  7. bstamerjon

    Did anyone notice?
    During the pre launch video, both Trump and Pence were filmed with the rocket in the background. Minutes before launch.

    The headline should read:
    “Civilian rocket failure decapitates administration! All astronauts survived! President Pelosi to the whitehouse, please.”

  8. allan

    Class warfare: more detailed charts, with more refined breakdown at the very top of the income distribution,
    such as this one, show how lumping the 9% with the 1%, or the 0.9% with the 0.1%,
    or the 0.09% with the 0.01%, or even the .009% with the .001% (!) muddies the waters.

    Of course, the bottom 90% have been scr*wed and something needs to be done about it.
    But alienating the 9% from the 90%, some of whom are natural allies,
    with similar interests and similar exploiters, only serves the interests of the ultra wealthy.

    1. hunkerdown

      That’s not how transpersonal exclusion works. Those who elevate and fight on the side of the working class are part of the 90% regardless of their income ranking. Those who elevate and fight on the side of the middle class, i.e. the bourgeois liberal status quo, are the 9% and the enemy. Which they are, they know their own hearts, just as in the last hundred Democrat morality plays.

      1. allan

        Those who oppress and fight the working class – say many LEO
        (almost all of whom are in the 90%)- are enablers of the .01%,
        while ER doctors or criminal defense attorneys
        (many of whom are in the 9%) struggle daily to help members of the working class.

        Only one of those groups could plausibly make common political cause with workers,
        so it’s not a mystery why some faction of society would want to make sure that doesn’t happen.

        1. hunkerdown

          Don’t means-test the revolution. The point is not to research the accounts of every person in the USA and diilgently assign them in-group or out-group status. The point is to equate 90% membership with consistent support and actions in favor of the power of the unpropertied, and to equate membership in the “other” 9% with consistent support of the bourgeois liberal status quo.

          1. allan

            Means-test? I’m arguing the opposite. Somebody’s income doesn’t dictate whether or not they might be supportive of drastically changing the system – their position in the power structure does. An ER doc earning $115,000 per year who is being forced to reuse PPE and take a pay cut while her seven-figure hospital CEO is blathering about how “we’re all in this together” is more likely to support change than a LEO making $42,000 [NYPD starting salary].

            Adjusted gross incomes don’t have agency.

            1. hunkerdown

              Someone’s income also doesn’t dictate whether they are part of Team 90%, 9%, or 1%. I’m not talking about AGI. I’m talking about affinity. Ethos, not logos. I think the field game really is about narratives now.

          2. Amfortas the hippie

            “Don’t means-test the revolution”

            “By their fruits…”, and all.
            I’m interested in Orthopraxis(Right Action) rather than Orthodoxy(peering into human souls to determine Right Belief)
            the latter is part and parcel of how we got here.(see: Roman Empire=> the Catholic(L.-“Universal”) Church, and on and on.)
            see also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valis_(novel)#Black_Iron_Prison

            the War has always been between our ears.

            1. YetAnotherChris

              Amfortas, I always enjoy your ruminations. You strike me as someone who might be up on his Jung:


              “But where among present-day Europeans can one find people not deformed by acts of moral violence? We are still barbarous enough to believe in both asceticism and its opposite. But the wheel of history cannot be put back; we can only strive towards an attitude that will allow us to live out our fate as undisturbedly as the primitive pagan in us really wants. Only on this condition can we be sure of not perverting spirituality into sensuality, and vice versa; for both must live, each drawing life from the other.”

              Cheers, and keep it coming!

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        I would think the 9% who are open to bucking the system are smart enough to figure this out on their own, and they don’t need constant coddling.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > But alienating the 9% from the 90%, some of whom are natural allies,

      I think the issue turns on the word “some.” I am all for class traitors. But how many are there, really?

      Downwardly mobile professionals are not “natural” allies of the working class if their goal is to is restore their social position to its previous state. See interfluidity here.

      1. Bugs Bunny

        “How many are there really?” – Lambert

        This commenter raises hand.

        Believes a few others here do the same

      2. CatAfficionado

        Lambert, I’ve been wearily watching NC go down the path of othering “the 10%” for a couple of years now, and it has never really seemed like it will lead to anything good. It is way too similar to how Kulaks were (extremely loosely) defined during the Russian Revolution, or heretics during the inquisition. It is the sort of tool that is really dangerous to add to the toolbox because of the potential for misuse. Heck, we have one commenter above straight up declare that people in that income bracket are “the enemy”. However good the intentions were, the USSR and Mao’s China have historical records that speak for themselves when this kind of path is trodden upon. The only thing I have yet to see here is any real suggestions for what to do with the 10%, other than some hints at a much heavier tax burden. The silence is what gives me the most pause.

        I am right there with you and others who object to the out of control worship of the PMC, particularly in the FIRE sector, and how the aspiring PMC’ers of tomorrow are causing lots of damage in their pursuit of what they believe to be entitled to. However, not everyone in the top 10% income bracket is a rent seeker or a PMC sycophant who can’t find the business end of a screwdriver. Damn near all engineers are going to be near or in the 10%, and while some work on Silicon Valley’s latest vaporware rent seeking social media / Uber-for-XYZ claptrap, the vast majority do not. Master plumbers and electricians are also in the 10%, along with some journeymen depending on the location and specialty. Basically, a lot of the people that enable all of us to sit here arguing on the internet with potable water at arm’s length are in the 10%, and it strikes me as a very bad idea to lump people in those professions into the enemy category.

        If the goal is to speed up The Jackpot, which I agree is probably inevitable, then maybe it is a good idea to toss a wrench into the things that keep our most basic infrastructure grinding along. If The Jackpot is a forcible 90% reduction in global human population, it’s just a matter of philosophical difference whether the cause is the bounds of our physical reality or deliberate action on our part. However, I don’t get the impression that many of the people who are busy identifying “the enemy” are even aware of The Jackpot, and they would probably object strongly to anyone who suggested that they were accelerationists.

        Just my thoughts. Long time reader & donator here, mostly a lurker. I certainly do not claim to have a good answer to the real issues that are brought up surrounding this topic, and I appreciate the dialog about it no matter how much I agree or disagree. NC is uniquely great in that way.

        1. bob

          Lay it out there. How much are you worth? How much do you earn a year, via (1) a job, (2)passive income.

          It seems you think you are part of some 10%. Put some numbers to it.

          “Long time reader & donator here,”

          I’m a customer and I love to concern troll!

          1. Massinissa

            To be fair, to be in top 10% you only need to make over $100k a year, which isn’t really that high a bar. Also I think that’s per household?

            1. bob

              To be fair, 100k a year via wages is a lot different from 100k a year in dividends. Which is why wealth should also be part of this.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          I’m sorry for your disappointment. It’s a big Internet, and you may be more comfortable where home truths are not so prevalent. To the substance of your remarks:

          1) “Othering the 10%.” “Othering” is a patently absurd claim; the 10% (or PMC) is well analyzed by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal! (or, for those do not have the book to hand, in this article by Frank in Harpers: “Nor a lender be!” I’m not saying anything that Frank did not write. (See also Frank’s excellent series of YouTubes for his book tours, e.g. “Thomas Frank: What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?“). Adding: It is also one of my continuing goals to understand the structure of the Democrat Party as an institution — no easy task — and to do that, I must understand the party base: Once the working class, now the PMC. So if following in Frank’s footsteps be “othering,” then I suppose I’ll have to make the most of it.

          2) “It is the sort of tool….” “Sort of tool” is so vague that it’s really impossible to discuss, but let me try. If we cannot discuss aggregated individuals, then farewell macro (perhaps not such a bad thing), anthropology, electoral politics as currently practiced, and many other disciplines. In fact, the Federalist Papers would need to be suppressed. Here is Madison aggregating, for the purposes of analysis, individuals based on their material interests* in Federalist 10:

          By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

          It would certainly seem odd that the sort of sharp tool Madison used to defend the Constitution was too sharp for the present day!

          3) “… really dangerous to add to the toolbox because of the potential for misuse.” This seems to be the sort of thing Al Gore described as “An Inconvenient Truth”! Since when was the truth so dangerous that it cannot be spoken? (I’ve noticed a tendency in the last few years, among liberal Democrats, to call for silencing if shouting down does not work; the Useful Idiots podcast has a really fine example of this in it’s most recent podcast, “Planet of the Censoring Humans.”

          4) “However, not everyone in the top 10% income bracket…” Income, as you show, is a poor proxy for class, but unfortunately it’s the only statistical basis that we have. Professional-Managerial Class (PMC) is determined either by the org chart (Managerial) or by Credentials (Professionals). Of course — if you want to have a serious, good faith discussion of this topic — there are edge cases; a part-time Assistant Associate Manager for a Dollar Store is less likely to share PMC class interests than, say, a CEO of the same company; similar, an immigrant beautician may have credentials, but their class interests will not be the same as, say, a lawyer. (There are other class interests to be examined in any serious discussion of plumbers, electricians, the trades unions, etc., but I view them as being in an entirely separate bucket from the symbol manipulators of the PMC.”

          5) “… is a rent seeker or a PMC sycophant who can’t find the business end of a screwdriver.” The best summary I have seen of the, as it were, existential position of the PMC comes from Steve Waldman’s “Predatory Precarity.” It’s worth reading in full, but here is an excerpt from the end:

          But what it means to live in a stratified society, precisely what it means to live in a stratified society, is that there are objective correlates to position along dimensions that individuals and communities cannot themselves choose. There are positional dimensions whose importance is a social fact, not arbitrary, but real as social facts are, by virtue of their consequences. In such a society, positional goods with desirable correlates, inherently scarce and inelastically supplied, become extremely valuable. In some societies, those goods may be rationed by custom, or by heredity, by caste or race. But to the degree that a society is “liberal” and capitalist, they will be price-rationed, as they largely (but incompletely) are in our American society.

          In a stratified, liberal capitalist society, the ability to command market power, to charge a margin sufficiently above the cost of inputs to cover the purchase of positional goods, becomes the definition of caste. When goods like health, comfort, safety, and ones children’s life prospects are effectively price-rationed, individuals will lever themselves to the hilt to purchase their place. The result is a strange precariat, objectively wealthy, educated and in a certain sense well-intended, who justify as a matter of defensive necessity participation in arrangements whose ugliness they cannot quite not see. In aggregate, they are predators, but individually they are also prey, and they feel embattled. So long as the intensity of stratification endures, they will feel like they have little choice but to participate in, even to collude to entrench, the institutions that secure their market power and their relatively decent place.

          Reforming government contracting, controlling medical costs, breaking up big-tech, opening the professions to international competition, these sound technocratic, even “pro-market”. But under present levels of stratification, the consequences of these things would be a revolution, whole swathes of society accustomed to status and political enfranchisement would find themselves banished towards a “normal” they used to only read about, opiate crises and deaths of despair, towards loss of the “privilege” it has become some of their custom to magnanimously and ostentatiously “check”. Did I say they? I mean we, of course**.

          But of course, not doing these things means continuing to tolerate an increasingly predatory, dysfunctional, stagnant society. It means continuing deaths of despair, even as we hustle desperately to try to ensure that they are not our deaths, or our children’s. Even for its current beneficiaries, the present system is a game of musical chairs. As time goes on, with each round, yet more chairs are yanked from the game.

          The only way out of this, the only escape, is to reduce the degree of stratification, the degree to which outcomes depend on our capacity to buy price-rationed positional goods. Only when the stakes are lower will be find ourselves able to tolerate, to risk, an economy that delivers increasing quantity and quality of goods and services at decreasing prices, rather than one that sustains markups upon which we, or some of us, with white knuckles must depend.

          I think you are confusing individual moral choices with the system that forces those choices to be made in the first place, which has, in the aggregate, the characteristics Waldman describes. (As a child of professors, I know these choices; these are my people.) I am all for class traitors! But let us not confuse praiseworthy choices by individual members of the PMC with either the class interests that force those choices to be made, or the functioning of the PMC in society treated as a complete system.

          6) “If the goal is to speed up….” No, that’s not the goal. Personally, I think an accurate description of the class structure of the United States is a useful goal in itself (see, e.g., Thomas Piketty’s newest book) both as a matter of amateur scholarship and as a matter of self-defense.

          Back to the beginning:

          7) “… way too similar to how Kulaks ….” I’ve answered this analytically in points #1 and #2. Here, given the comments evident emotional investment, I would speculate — it takes a great novelist like Balzac, Fielding, or Austen to reason from class position to individual character — that this this demeaning and hysterical accusation could be a example of what Waldman called “justify[ing] as a matter of defensive necessity participation in arrangements whose ugliness they cannot quite not see. ” Of course, you may be a class traitor. If so, good for you!

          NOTE * The subtext here, as elsewhere in the Federalist Papers, slavery.

          NOTE ** Waldman here makes a wry joke on his own PMC membership.

      3. Alternate Delegate

        Motivation is what divides. It’s hard to make a person understand a thing when that person’s paycheck depends on them not understanding it.

        And 10% is actually a pretty accurate paycheck threshold. No – those engineers and electricians and plumbers are NOT above that threshold. They are below it. And if it’s not precisely 10%, it’s close.

        Who’s above that threshold is the managers. Guess what their paycheck depends on?

        Now, what to do with the 10%? It’s called redundancy. Their guard labor is no longer needed. So what’s left is productive labor.

      4. VietnamVet

        In a very basic sense, Krystal Ball is correct. It all comes down to the rule of law. I remember thinking during the Ronald Reagan era that I wouldn’t lose my job because corporations wanted government approval of their products. It stifled their competition and gave the seal of approval that the products were safe when used as directed. Just before I retired, a major American company simply ignored the law and sold their products without approval. When caught, the Obama Administration fined them 2 million dollars.

        Humans self-justify their behavior in order to survive. The 10% will continue to enable the exploitation of humans and the environment by the Five Hundred or so American Billionaires until the world is polluted and resources gone. The only thing that will stop it is if the ruling class and their managers are jailed for their crimes. In the next weeks, we shall see if the Constitution, the rule of law and government regulations are restored and the national battle for control of the coronavirus is started with proven public health practices instead of letting Americans die while waiting for a profit making vaccine.

        If not, the United States will fall apart into infected failed fiefdoms.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > That raccoon is the sanest one here today.

      Generally, one retweets a video like that under the rubric “King.” The raccoon wins the Internet!

  9. flora

    Trump (1) – you governors are weak.

    See, that’s why there has to ‘violence’ at the protests, even if provocatuers or police start the violence or do most of the violence. (a pallet of bricks dropped off in a city shopping center. e.g.) It gives the authoritarians more excuse to push for more draconian anti-democratic laws and law ‘modifications’ which too many GOP and Dems are happy to vote for. It creates a vicious circle of anti-democratic repression, reaction, more repressive laws, more repression, reaction…

    “even the Southern Poverty Law Center says the “white supremacists are doing the looting” claim is basically BS”


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > a pallet of bricks dropped off in a city shopping center

      I keep seeing that story but I’ve never liked the provenance. And dropping off pallets of bricks is something cities naturally do when rebuilding sidewalks. It’s the summer, there are construction projects!

      1. Anon

        The context is when the bricks are dropped off with no construction projects nearby so your concern is addressed.

        But given a pallet of bricks weighs between 500 to 3000 pounds, and pallets are sold by a limited number of places, and there are cameras all over, I would expect that if this was true then delivering pallets of bricks would be traceable with a little old fashioned police work.

        But really why bricks? Why not rocks – easy enough to get golf ball sized rocks. Bricks are too heavy for projectile warfare.

        And what of the role of marijuana in all this?

      2. Dr. John Carpenter

        I keep seeing it too but I’m skeptical. I’ve seen video of cops destroying a patrol car and smashing windows and doing other provocateur type things. If video of that is out ther, I would think if the bricks are real, some photographic proof should turn up, shouldn’t it?

          1. Dr. John Carpenter

            Thanks. With all going on, I’m trying not to automatically believe things that confirm my own bias.

      3. The Rev Kev

        The guys in that Texas video that I linked to the other day did state that there was no construction work going on at all in that street. And if the city dropped of all those bricks into a wealthy area of town in the middle of the biggest riots in America in a generation, that might be the basis for a lawsuit that.

            1. MLTPB

              Certainly intersting correlation.

              More planning depts to visit?

              (I think the bricks were stamped the names of the kilns when the Great Wall of China was built by the Qin and or the Ming dynasty.)

      4. dk

        Happened to follow Dr Sarah Taber, crop and farm researcher (because supply chains), who has a thread about the provenance of the Fayetteville brick piles:

        There’s this 20-second footage clip of the Fayetteville market house going around showing stacks of bricks, & the folks spreading it are saying they were just special-ordered & delivered for throwing through windows

        dude those stacks of bricks have been there for months

        Even has a photo :) : https://twitter.com/SarahTaber_bww/status/1267265561051967491
        hey @MegRaeB remember that funny street sign pic I sent you back in February

        what’s that in the background? oh look it’s renovations on the brick sidewalk complete with a stacks of old and/or spare bricks

        in February

  10. Krystyn Podgajski

    Riots (what people are calling violence) are only a symptom. It is unchanneled anger, anger without context.

    We need to explain the anger, to give it context and therefore, direction.

    Also, with Trumps latest ANTIFA statement, I will be posting less here, if at all. Get a free ProtonMail account and Signal and tell your friends to as well.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      “They” already know who you are, where you are, and what you’ve said.
      Distributed Think Tanks like this are likely watched(it’s an honor, i think)
      LATOC was certainly watched..so blatantly at the end that the owner of the site ran to the hills.
      So any vanishing you do now only gets their interest.
      and, like i’ve always said(waves at nsa): if “they” want to know what i think about their marvelous civilisation, all they need do is ask.
      I can go on and on.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Amfortas is right. They all ready know everybody’s profile and positions. The annual budget for Homeland Security is about $47 billion a year. What do you think the purpose of all that money is? To catch Russian spies?

      1. farmboy

        even way out here the sheriff’s dept gets updates on “suspicious” activity, be as truthful as possible, maybe it will matter someday. being a little obtuse, glancing blows, and glib honesty are what works for me. any internet activity is like being in the town square.

    3. CoryP

      So I was gonna do the whole proton mail, full opsec type thing but then I got stuck on finding a VPN that you can pay for with BC (trying to avoid spam filters with that abbreviation).

      That seems like the weak link. Can you recommend anything off the top of your head? You’ve probably given it more thought than I.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        paper correspondence, delivered by courier…preferably in business attire…or frat boy khakis.
        of course, cousin gets away with all manner of things by looking like former special forces.
        the web is a tool of the Machine. It’s Theirs.
        Assume you’re being monitored and act accordingly.
        Even Klingon is no help, any more(can’t find that link,lol).

        1. CoryP

          Yeah I was trying to sketch out my ideal security setup, as a hypothetical.
          I read a manual for journalists (circa 2012?) saying to buy a specific model of old IBM ThinkPad because it didn’t have hardware/firmware level backdoors that could be used to surrepitiously enable wireless. But I’m not looking for something air-gapped and I certainly don’t have that level of discipline. Nor am I going to do anything so stupendous that I would need this.

          I’ve read Yasha L. on Tor/Signal/The Internet (great book!), but I assume it accomplishes something to throw as many obstacles in “their” way as possible (especially if the whole weight of the security state isn’t on top of you).

          I figured that Tails and Tor and encrypted mail (Proton, particularly) were decent. “They” can see my IP connecting to the Tor node, so VPN first. Best I can do with my resources and level of commitment.

          The weakest link, other than hardware, is the fact that I have to pay for VPN. So I was wondering if there’s a good one that takes crypto (which is not infallible, of course, but that’s not the point).

          I’d hoped someone well-versed might have a quick suggestion. Lambert might see this reply to an old thread. But I can always Just [familyblog]-ing Google It. Didn’t plan to actually do this, but things seem to be accelerating so..

  11. youme

    Hoisted from Twitter:
    Dr. Gibson McFuck, Esq.
    The lefties on my timeline are disgusting for implying that “Rs and Ds are the same.” Not true. If these privileged morons did their research (instead of just tweeting), they’d know nearly EVERY Dem supports a pathway toward access to supporting George Floyd protestors by 2028.

    This guy does sarcasm my way!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > nearly EVERY Dem supports a pathway toward access to supporting George Floyd protestors by 2028.

      I wholeheartedly support this, so long as the pathway is means-tested.

  12. Janie

    “You governors are weak”, says the one who heads for the bunker instead of sending out a fireside speech.

  13. Wukchumni

    About ‘windows’ of opportunity…

    I was in Santa Monica just after the 1994 Northridge* earthquake and did a walk around, and i’d guess that every other plate glass window in every retail business was busted out, and I remember watching homeless (SM-home of the homeless!) helping themselves.

    They would’ve never contemplated doing so if that 1/4 inch of plate glass hadn’t been there, no different really than opportunistic looters making off with stuff in Santa Monica yesterday, and i’d guarantee you that none of them thought they’d be making off with a couple pairs of Vans shoes or a skateboard, say the day before.

    * It could’ve been called the Santa Monica earthquake, as the damage was extensive there. I remember walking by a brick church on Arizona Ave that had completely collapsed upon itself. If there’d been any parishioners @ 4 am, everyone of them would’ve died.

    1. rd

      I have been tracking Ritholz for years. I think his explanation of why it was not a bailout is a good one. However, it does become a bailout if he changes his course and gets the loan forgiven. But I don’t think they will do that.

  14. cocomaan

    These days, if someone virtue signals strongly about a subject, I always assume the worst about them. Tells you where we are in this gnarly year.

  15. Lambert Strether Post author

    Readers, sorry for the slow start. I was trying to get my arms around the riots, and I don’t think I did, because the reporting is so bad and Twitter doesn’t aggregate well; see comment at first link under “Black Injustice Tipping Point” about curious inadequacy of the New York Times map.

    Please refresh your browsers!

    1. Steve H.

      The fact that map shows Evansville Indiana is an eyebrow popper. Evansville is old-school conservative. Staid.

      That there’s no dot for the Region, up by Gary, is also curious.

    2. John Anthony La Pietra

      As of this evening, the NYTums can add a virtual pin on its map for Marshall, Michigan. Maybe 300 people in this city of 7,000 or so — which 173 years ago was the site of an early Black Lives Matter rally: the Crosswhite Incident.

      Let Freedom Ring. Let Justice Breathe.

  16. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “Why Val Demings May Be the Best Running Mate for Joe Biden Right Now” [Vogue].

    “Yes, America needs to heal…. One of the ways this can happen is by having representation at the highest levels of government by African Americans. Representation is one of the ways we can heal.

    We had a black president for eight years. Two black attorneys general, one a woman. A black national security advisor and a black homeland security secretary.

    “Healing” was not on the agenda. Instead they stood between the criminals and the pitchforks, and congratulated themselves for having been so smooth and clever.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      Mugabe is black, no?
      Samoza was “LatinX”
      Pol Frelling Pot was Asian.
      it was stupid when the AI in the basement thought of it.

      1. urblintz

        Margaret “there’s no such thing as society” Thatcher
        Golda “there’s no such thing as Palestinians” Meir
        Imelda “there’s no such thing as too many shoes” Marcos

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          I can’t readily think of a gay leader who was atrocious, right off the top of my head.
          Jeffery Dahmer will serve well enough as a placeholder for that Checkmark.

  17. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: The electoral college.

    My sense in regards to the “battleground” states is all of the people who are going to vote who don’t face obstacles to voting or are completely disaffected have been pushed into hyper partisan camps. The 50 state strategy is based on the conceit there are more likely democratic votes among non-voters than there are republicans, but its not necessarily provable. Hillary wasn’t not going to win California, but how much of her vote total was based on tokenism and expectations of an assured victory.

  18. occasional anonymous

    Re: ‘Riot vs. rebellion’ and tactics:

    No need to improvise with umbrellas and pieces of wood. Regular people can in fact buy police riot gear themselves.


    The clear shields (Made in China, of course) are even quite cheap. The curved ones are directly modeled on the Roman Scutum.

    I’ve entertained for quite a while the idea of someone forming some sort of drilled protest corps. Once the police start firing, immediately deploy your defenders. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testudo_formation

    Of course, once you’ve created a group that can coordinate for defense, it isn’t much of a leap to them then taking the offense…

    1. Massinissa

      I dunno if most of America thinks buying a 100-150 dollar shield for protesting to be ‘cheap’…

      Though to be fair, they are cheaper than I expected: Now we understand why they have so many damn riot police compared to 30 years ago, the shields can cost less than a Nintendo Switch…

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > No need to improvise with umbrellas and pieces of wood

      This is interesting, but the point is not the hardware, but the fact that the Hong Kong protesters have evolved clearly defined roles, with a role for each level of society to play.

      I have seen nothing like that in the riots — which is why I would classify more on the riot than the rebellion side — and neither the militias nor the anarchists seem capable of evolving such organization (the former because they are as prone to splitting into tiny little sects as Protestants, the latter… because they’re anarchists).

      1. Bsoder

        Not true, in Detroit we got a system, especially taking care on the injured. Most docs in docs without borders see this as something we need to do.

    3. turtle

      This looked promising, but unfortunately the items on that page are restricted to being purchased by military and law enforcement.

  19. Ranger Rick

    Re: “contact tracing” — terrorism has long been studied as an epidemiological phenomenon. If you will recall that the NSA, CIA, FBI et al. collect a great deal of metadata regarding communications (so it doesn’t matter what you say, just who you say it to, even if the communication is encrypted). They typically organize their searches by degrees of separation. After the domestic terrorism announcement last night, people online were mocking the very idea of these groups having organized leadership, but they don’t realize that you don’t need to have a job title to be identified. All of those people at the protests carrying cell phones were logging their locations and intentions for everyone to see. All those Twitter and Instagram posts are geotagged, organized, and waiting for warrants and subpoenas.

  20. Pat

    Anecdote from my public transportation travels in NYC yesterday.

    Lots more people on the bus, many obviously trying to hook up with protests further downtown. Some knew each and were trying to coordinate with each other. At one point the bus driver thought he would be detoured but continued straight downtown.

    At a major crosstown stop a handful of young men various races got on. I watched one realize his friends were getting on the bus get off the bike he was riding on the sidewalk, dump it next to the bench and follow them. I was surrounded by them. And can tell you unequivocally that they had consumed a fair amount of marijuana. At one point the people trying coordinate mentioned “protest”.The vocal leader of the young males stated loudly that it wasn’t a protest, that they were going to shut the city down and close it. And that they needed a new tv a big one. A couple of others added a few wish list items. The bus was now changing direction so everyone got ready to get off and continued on their various quests.

    In NY, at least, I don’t think you can discount that some of the people breaking windows and looting are punks. Anger, fear, instigation AND callous youthful stupidity – add it to the list.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      how many of those “punks” are fatherless, due to “criminal justice”?
      motherless due to our ‘best healthcare in the world’?
      impaired in invisible ways due to all the million deleterious things that accompany poverty and ignorance…both all but promoted by 40+ years of neoliberal nonsense?
      it’s been pretty bad in the Flea Bottoms of America for as long as i can remember…and that has it’s effects….especially when they are bombarded with various slick(and not so) analogs of Baywatch
      and it’s been spreading…as the State pulls back from the Sacrifice Zones, after there’s nothing left to profitably loot.

      some fajita cooking music:

      (and, btw, i look a lot like tiny iommi, but with slightly shorter hair)




      Eat the Rich

      1. MLTPB

        Taking a new big TV is not eating the rich.

        It’s like a gold bar – nothing to eat there.

      2. Pat

        I am going to be less than sympathetic.

        How many of the rich are essentially parentless? Raised by someone paid to do so with little care or concern for them. How many have been taught that your only value is the size of your portfolio? How many of them are unthinking punks with no care or concern for others?

        We, and I include myself in this, know nothing about any one in these situations. We can make assumptions. We can only judge people by their actions. Take the bike the one kid threw aside. Was it theirs and something they would regret leaving behind when they came down? Had they stolen it from someone unknown for kicks as shown by their disregard, not selling it or keeping it? If so was the person who lost the bike some relatively well paid tech worker who would only miss it because there is now a months long waiting list? Or some delivery person who raced in to drop off something and returned to find their livelihood gone?

        Does anyone really think that it was only Gucci and Chanel that took a hit in Manhattan? No the video I saw this morning showed just as many smaller places with the owners trying to clean up. People probably already on shaky ground from being shut down for three months. And how does this help get things changed? It doesn’t. Instead we get curfews from supposedly more allied politicians and outright military deployment of the Guard from less allied ones.

        Regardless of how they got there being stupid, thoughtless, careless is likely to cause damage to others and to themselves. Being unconcerned about those injustices that were bringing others to the streets, despite those problems being a fact of life for the majority of them and sure protest will not change that. They end up acting in a manner that helps guarantee that is true just as much as any intelpro operation or racist outside agitators. And if they happen to get arrested looting? Either way, As I said, causing themselves damage as well as others.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > the video I saw this morning showed just as many smaller places with the owners trying to clean up.

          We have no good data. All we have are anecdotes. It’s teethgrindingly frustrating. The miserably inadequate Times map is one symptom of this but I’m sure other large city papers are just as poor. A great time to be gutting newsrooms.

          1. Pat

            Getting that is highly unlikely. It is too useful a cudgel. In coming months as small businesses fail across the city, blame can be shifted from the pandemic measures and the economy to “the looters” and will be whenever possible.

    2. Massinissa

      Those ‘young punks’ basically have no futures in this society, so they have nothing to lose…

      1. MLTPB

        From what Pat described, I can’t tell that much about the young people, except a particular they intended, which does not seem to me to be an uplifting one.

      2. LifelongLib

        Just about everyone who comments here would agree that poverty, racism, lack of opportunity etc make some people more likely to do harm to those around them. That doesn’t make the actions of those people less harmful, or change the fact that most of the harm is done to people who are in similar situations.

        1. Massinissa

          I absolutely agree. I’m not condoning their actions in any way. I’m just saying, when the youth gets screwed over this is the kind of thing that happens, the way messing with a bee hive leads to stings. I have not said I condone those actions or any other harm to persons or property, because I do not, and have not said that I have in any of my prior posts.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > A couple of others added a few wish list items.

      “Really, if the lower orders don’t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility.” –Algernon Moncrieff, The Importance of Being Earnest

      I’m not sure from a moral perspective I see much difference between the young man who wants a new TV and a private equity limited partner who buys a business to, well, loot it.

      Structurally, there’s a big difference. Capitalism is anti-fragile with respect to riots since, as with war, the effect of destroying consumer goods is another round of production, and hence another round of profit and capital accumulation. I’m not sure capitalism is anti-fragile with respect to private equity, a parasite that is killing its host.

      1. Pat

        There is another difference in that the more likely to feel a hangover is the young man who wants a television, those who loot with private equity just buy another and binge again. Oh and they get invited to all the best parties.

        Oh and one is treated as an aberration, a disappointing failure despite “best efforts”, something to be tut tutted and commiserated about. The other the natural outcome of a systemic problem justifying police crackdowns.

      2. Bsoder

        You almost have it right. Looting by PE, ME, bankers in general is almost a National past time. Whom is looting whom. This behavior has been going on since the revolution. Here’s one you didn’t know until 10 years ago officers of any naval ship and marines had the right to take anything they seized and sell it off and split the profits. You don’t think they were out on the water because they liked it. You could get rich if lucky. I’m a Marine Officer I know.

  21. richard

    I’ve been struggling a little about whether to tell you all this, but have decided to. I found out late last night, reading a tweet from Kshama Sawant, that a former student of mind, Shaun Lee Fuhr, was killed by the Seattle police earlier this month. They said he was armed, and he had his 1 year old daughter with him. They said he was beating his girlfriend. I don’t know which parts of that are true, some, none or all.
    His killers have posted video of the killing on Facebook, as they are proud of it. I won’t link to that.
    I have been in a fog today: grief, guilt and anger. Remembering Shaun when he was 8.
    I did send the link to our useless mayor and Sawant. I want to know every training his killers attended that had to do with situations like Shaun’s.
    I don’t know what else to say.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      what a crazy world our children grow up in; my thoughts are with you. And yes, I too will say his name: Shaun Lee Fuhr

    2. Massinissa

      Thank you very much for sharing. I’m not entirely certain I would be able to do if I were put in a similar position.

      1. richard

        Thanks for your thoughts and wise words, everyone. There is no place like NC. None.
        And yes, we will find out if Dave Grossman has been training Seattle police, or the Israeli police, or just exactly who. We will know. And the people who have been killed will not be forgotten, and their names will continue to be spoken, and the killers and their enablers will be forced to hear their names. That may be the best I can do, but I will do that.
        Thanks again.

  22. BobW

    According to the protest map it’s so bad that Memphis up and moved to Little Rock.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Memphis up and moved to Little Rock.

      You made me look. The dot for Memphis is correctly placed but the label is confusing.

      In the interactive version, hovering over the dot should show the city name, since not all cities are labeled.

      This is a very poor map, especially for a newspaper that prides itself on data visualization.

      Adding: I quickly scanned the photos. There is a minority, but real, white presence, interestingly. Back in the day, I looked at a photo of Tahrir square and counted the beards to figure out the Muslim Brotherhood presence. It turned out to be 25%, same as the population. I wonder what a similar process would do for these photos.

  23. Steve H.

    New post by Peter Turchin: 2020.

    Mostly retrospective.”What does it mean for the current wave of protests and riots? The nature of such dynamical processes is such that it can subside tomorrow, or escalate; either outcome is possible.A spark landing even in abundant fuel can either go out, or grow to a conflagration.”

    The charts on anti-government protests and riots are illuminating. Almost as though something happened in 2008 to create instability.

  24. Expat2Uruguay

    Last night I rode virtual shotgun with my son for a couple of hours as he observed in person the protests, and results of some of that night’s rioting, in Sacramento California. Even though I am in Uruguay, I could hear in real time when the police shot rubber bullets at the kneeling protesters, and when they launched tear gas grenades. From a couple blocks away I could hear the flash bangs on the freeway as clearly as if I was standing next to him.
    The experience was made even more amazing by the fact that I was physically safe. (I trust my son’s sensibility, so I wasn’t overly worried about his safety either. He has been to protests and even riots before as a medic, so he has enough sense to keep away from the police and avoid any groups of looters.)

    Yes, I was perfectly safe in Uruguay, where chains of transmission have been severed, the people are compliant with masks and social distancing as we reopen, and the populace trust the government, and vice versa.

    Sacramento has a plan to regain peace: tonight they will have a curfew. The last time Uruguay had a curfew was during the military dictatorship. I think about that.

    1. MLTPB

      Younger people can probably cope better with an uncertain situation.

      (My hunch and I could be wrong).

      if you have a family or aged parent or parents to care for, this can be quite stressful.

  25. marym

    ABC 7 News – WJLA @ABC7News
    BREAKING NEWS: President @realDonaldTrump announces the National Guard has been deployed to “dominate” the streets until “the violence has been quelled.”
    He is dispatching “thousands and thousands” of military personnel to Washington, D.C. Curfew will be strictly enforced at 7.
    5:49 PM · Jun 1, 2020 https://twitter.com/ABC7News/status/1267589183406837760

    Jackie Kucinich @JFKucinich
    This was a peaceful protest. And they are using tear gas. In the United States. In front of the White House.
    5:44 PM · Jun 1, 2020 https://twitter.com/JFKucinich/status/1267587955545329665

    Perry Stein @PerryStein
    A chaotic scene has unfolded as police throw explosions and sprays into the crowd. They just gave protesters a warning over speaker that curfew was going into effect. Scary scene as people ran away.
    5:49 PM · Jun 1, 2020 https://twitter.com/PerryStein/status/126758901867968512

    An active duty military police battalion consisting of 200 to 250 military personnel is now in the process of deploying to Washington, DC, and could be in the nation’s capital as soon as tonight, three US defense officials tell CNN.

  26. The Rev Kev

    Just watching Trump on the morning news here in Oz. The police cleared all the streets near the White House (including by punching an Aussie TV cameraman) and Trump came and made a short speech. More or less says that if the Governors don’t crack down on the protesters, that he will send in the military. Also that he is the Law and Order President. He then walks out of the White House grounds to St. Johns church. He had a huge contingent of SS (Secret Service) protectors plus what looked like a general. None of this party wore a mask though nearly all the news people did.

    When he reaches St. John church, he then raises a bible and the TV hosts say that this will be the image that goes around the world – The President in front of a boarded up church. Gotta say that when he was looking at the bible in his hand, he looked confused. As if he was trying to work out how to open it. Then he walked backed across the road. I’ll end this here as not sure that there will any more from this pr stunt.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      so the orange coward(like nobody knew,lol) is actually IN the white house while all this is going on out on the lawn?
      Nixon was in a similar situation when the War on Some Drugs was hatched….looking furtively out the window at raging throngs of Americans who hated his guts.
      the Drug war was how they got around all that Free Speech and Assembly stuff.
      Somehow, i don’t really think that even matters any more…and not just to That Guy, but to the entire ruling class.

      as for trump, himself…he’s obviously a narcissist.
      cares a lot about perception.
      he simply MUST be aware of how bad all of this looks.
      Lashing out is to be expected.
      I reckon that’s what this:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xhkouev0cp8&feature=youtu.be is th ebeginnings of.

      Hold Fast, out there…and carry the fire.

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

        Cascadia. Becoming more likely every day that shi*gibbon desecrates the White House. Now isn’t the time to completely cast loose bastions of f*ckmuppetry that support maga…but if they persist in that, I guess they can go their own way as well.

        As i saw mentioned somewhere…I guess this is the ‘Bust’ part of ‘Bernie or Bust!’.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I guess this is the ‘Bust’ part of ‘Bernie or Bust!’.

          Yep; see the Nathan Tankus tweet I posted. Somebody should ask [genuflects] Obama what he thinks about Biden’s “shoot ’em in the legs instead of the heart” comment* (paraphrasing). The Biden campaign really does need to keep him locked in this basement “study” as much as they can.

          NOTE * At a Black church!!!!!!!

      2. Massinissa

        Ah yes, the War on (some) Drugs, another Republican Law and Order PR move that had real consequences, especially for vulnerable people of color…

        I hope Trump is smart enough to not do anything too stupid. He may be orange but that doesn’t mean he should be playing with fire, and him playing with fire may mean we all get burned. He’ll be safe, no matter what he does, but the American people might not be… I pray nothing truly bad happens this summer.

    2. MLTPB

      I can imagine Putin similarly seeking reassurance before an Orthodox church.

      Not sure about where Xi would go. The Confucius Temple at Qufu? WW2 CCP stronghold at Yan’an?

    3. Aumua

      Pretty sure he did just declare martial law there. It’s always a little hard to tell with Trump.

      1. Massinissa

        I mean, doesn’t he do that just about every Monday? Its Trump. He never means anything.

        Or at least… He never meant anything before now… Who knows with Trump.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Pretty sure he did just declare martial law there.

        No, there’s a legal process for that. So far, we’re just seeing bluster. (Also, Washington DC has no governor, so the President has executive powers there that he does not have in states proper.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          what i think about when i see trump’s photo op with a bible(and all the redneck and cop encounters i’ve endured in my lifetime, for that matter):

          ” For example, aggressive display behaviour in the crayfish Orconectes virilistends to be triggered by impositions of other crayfish on previously established territory.[9] Such displays consist of a preliminary raising of claws between 4 and 5 times and if this is not sufficient to warn the other to not encroach on the territory then tactile engagement will occur. In this case, display behaviour is a preliminary step to the engagement of aggressive tactile behaviour whereas many cases of display behaviour result in the engagement of mating rituals. ”

          He’s a weakened and frightened silverback gorilla, waving a branch around.
          The most important question remains unanswered: will the troops do his bidding unquestioned?
          Or is their Oath more powerful within them than their loyalty to him?

      1. MLTPB

        The trick, I think, is the short amount of time when a few of them got together for picture taking.

        Prolonged, it could be riskier.

    4. flora

      Sinclair Lewis, from ‘Gideon Planish’ (1943):

      “I just wish people wouldn’t quote Lincoln or the Bible, or hang out the flag or the cross, to cover up something that belongs more to the bank-book and the three golden balls.”

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > what looked like a general.

      I believe that’s the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who was wandering around the streets of DC last night — in camo. He is not in the chain of command….

      1. Bsoder

        No, none of the ‘chiefs’ are in the chain of command, but if you want to loose yours in 5 minutes get in their face and you be reassigned to some rock in the pacific. All general command officers permanent highest rank is 2 star, 3 star & 4 star are command dependent. Some days you have 2 stars some 3. Of course many generals retire in command with the higher rank, but it really doesn’t effect benefits that much.

  27. rd

    I am getting a little bit tired of the pundits who say that “XX will neve be the same after the coronavirus.”

    The one constant of pandemics is that they end, usually after 2-3 years, and then things return back to “normal”. People go to concerts, they attend lectures, they dine out, and go to parties. There are often changes that occur, but they are more evolutionary than from fear once the initial fear of infection is largely gone and risks appear back in the normal range.

    So it is possible that colleges will go bankrupt, but the ones that are still around 5 years from now will probably be doing things largely as they did a year ago. 2020-21 will look very different from the before or after.

  28. Chris

    So, fun timing, but Ebola is flairing up in the Congo again.

    Given we have the possibility of really nasty human influenced disease (multi drug resistant bubonic plague? Chronic wasting disease jumping to humans because of cervid proximity and farming?) and Mother Nature is still trying to kill us AND WE HAVE STORM SEASON COMING can we please work all this out soon because there’s a lot of things waiting to kill us right now and we’d handle those challenges much better as a united society than separate groups waiting for capital to share some food…

    1. MLTPB

      Drought in CA maybe.

      Locust swarms in various places around the world.

      Wildfires in Siberia.

  29. Jessica

    “Trump Leads Biden in the States He Won in 2016: Campaign Update”
    Does this mean just the swing states that he won narrowly or all the states that he won, including the Deep South and prairie and inter-mountain states that he won by a huge margin?
    This article would have been useful if they told you what his margin was in the same states in 2016.
    As is, it is click bait.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Tense situation on Swann Street in DC. Cops surrounded protesters and started firing pepper spray. A resident let more than 100 protesters take shelter in his home.

          Swann Street is in the Northwest, about five blocks north of Dupont Circle.

  30. Roxan

    Philadelphia police commissioner said on 11pm news–no outsiders involved, and they were not organized. They arrested hundreds, and only a few were not from in the city. My observation, outside agitators dont loot dollar stores, or take their kids and a shopping cart along. Phila inquirer has extensive coverage. Center city is a complete wreck, and I doubt it will recover.

  31. YetAnotherChris

    Minneapolis has another one-and-done mayor on its hands, again because the police force is out of control. Jacob Frey’s predecessor, Betsy Hodges, lost all credibility when her Police Commissioner went AWOL in the aftermath of Justine Damond’s murder. Hodges fired Harteau but it was too late. And now Mayor Frey himself is conspicuously absent.

    From time to time we hear lofty rhetoric from public officials, but the same atrocities recur over and again. They’re running out of deck chairs to rearrange, and Minneapolis residents across the spectrum are out of patience. The MPD has been a rogue element for decades (waves at NSA). It’s not just black folk who are pi$$ed off. As a group, MPD are an abrasive and antagonistic presence, and I say that as a middle-aged white guy who’s lived here thirty years. It’s mortifying to see your hometown made famous by murder in broad daylight.

  32. Swamp Yankee

    Re: Alexander Stephens’ Cornerstone Speech. I use this whenever I teach the Civil War. Stephens was an intellectual (with repugnant views, of course), so he really lays out the Confederate argument thoroughly and carefully. It’s devastating to Lost Cause apologists.

    In other news, my small community college, one of the few in the country still run by a municipality, looks like one of the approaching failures. Faculty and staff positions are being cut (not administrators, or not that I’ve heard of, at least), while the city political machine which effectively runs the school is overtly corrupt and incompetent. Things sure won’t look the same after this.

    Guess I’d better get more potatoes in the ground this summer.

  33. Alex Cox

    The ‘how to demonstrate’ graphic (from Hong Kong) was interesting. But what of the ‘fire mages’?

    I have been to numerous demos, and no one ever brought molotov cocktails along. I suspect that only police provocateurs do that.

    What does this tell us about the provenance of the graphic?

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