2:00PM Water Cooler 6/11/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this Water Cooler is short because I’m feeling a bit under the weather. Hopefully I will be back to normal, or at least baseline, tomorrow. –lambert

#COVID19

At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Having done the South and the West last week, and the Midwest yesterday, here is the Northeast:

Here is the national data, all starting from the same date, in log form because the curves separate more nicely. Note carefully how y (vertical) axis works, and we are sorta in the mode where California on its worst day is New York on its best day (give or take a thousands or so). Nevertheless, the virus is most definitely not under control.

Politics

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

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

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

Since we’re getting closer to the election, maybe it’s time to start looking at the electoral map, updated June 8 and unchanged today:


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

So, taking the consensus as a given, 270 (total) – 204 (Trump’s) = 66. Trump must win 66 from the states in play: AZ (11), FL (29), MI (16), NC (15), PA (20), and WI (10) plus 1 to win not tie = 102. 102 – 66 = 36. So if Trump wins FL, MI, NC, and PA (29 + 16 + 15 + 20 = 80), he wins. That’s a heavy lift. I think I’ve got the math right this time!

Here’s another model:

Same states in play as above plus VA and GA.

* * *

2020

Biden (D)(1): All smiles on The View:

Worth listening to in full; it’s only two minutes.

Biden (D)(2): “Biden says military will escort Trump from White House if he loses and refuses to leave” [The Hill]. • Good to see the Democrats making the military the guarantors of “the institutional order of the Republic,” since the intelligence community seems to have worked out so well.

Trump (R)(1): “Bannon tells Asia Times: US election is all about China” (interview) [Steve Bannon, Asia Times]. “Trump has been fighting in DC since the beginning against the managed decline of the country. And I think this is shaping up to be even more of a fight of the kind of nationalist versus globalist. I think China will be at the centerpiece of that. The Democrats could not have selected a worse candidate to make an argument to the American people than Joe Biden. So I think 2020 is really a continuation almost of 2016. We still have not worked through these issues. Remember, the campaign slogan was “Make America Great Again.” I said that that is going to be a generational struggle. You’re not going to wave a magic wand. I think 2020 is shaping up in the last 150 days to be just this classic counter of the globalism of Joe Biden and the Wall Street faction of the Democratic Party versus the economic nationalism and populism of Trump and potentially some slice of the Bernie [Sanders] contingent.” • I’m not sure Trump can turn the ship in 150 days. Nice get for the Asia Times, though.

UPDATE Trump (R)(2): “Trump picks Tulsa on Juneteenth for return to campaign rallies” [NBC]. History of Tulsa; history of Juneteenth. This isn’t so much a dog whistle as a dog trombone; it’s arguably worse than Reagan launching his 1980 campaign at the Neshoba County Fair in Mississippi with a speech on “states’ rights.” The difference, I suppose, is that Reagan was “morning again in America.” Trump, however, is a creature of the American twilight; Götterdtrümperung, as it were. Of course, nobody knows what the night or the next morning will bring.

UPDATE Trump (R)(3): “Trump Has a Message That Could Work. He’s Just Not Interested in Making It” [National Review]. “Think about it, Democrats just gift-wrapped him the controversial proposal of “defunding or abolishing the police” and this morning, Trump chose to instead focus upon his belief that the 75-year-old protester shoved to the ground had it coming, his contention that his former Secretary of Defense James Mattis “was our country’s most overrated general,” as well as a “lap dog” and an “embarrassment to America.” The president is incapable of prioritizing any message that is important to his reelection campaign over whatever irritates him at any given moment.” • To fair, on generals who are “overrated,” “lap dogs,” and “embarassments to America,” it’s a crowded field.

UPDATE Trump (R)(4): “POLITICO Playbook: Trump’s latest zigzag” [Politico]. • This is interesting, amazingly, but at the end: “TRUMP SEEMS SINGULARLY FOCUSED on economic indicators like the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the unemployment rate, and seems to have difficulty grappling with intangibles like whether people of color in this country feel valued and included.” • “Feel valued and included.” How about not getting whacked and making some money at a decent job, or getting your house back? Also Politico mentions Neshoba, but says nothing about the context (see above).

* * *

“New voter registrations plunge during pandemic” [The Hill]. “The number of people registering to vote for the first time has fallen dramatically in recent months as traditional venues for registrations were closed or banned during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a study released Wednesday. The report by the Center for Election Innovation and Research found that while voter registrations were running ahead of the 2016 pace in the early part of this year, new registrations collapsed in March and April, when the pandemic began raging across the United States. The study points to venues in which most voters typically register for the first time — the department of motor vehicles (DMV) or voter registration drives at big events and festivals — which were closed amid lockdowns. DMV closures are particularly harmful to voter registration in states that have automatic registration programs that enroll voters when they interact with government agencies.” • Trump’s first lucky break!

UPDATE “‘Always some sneaky trick’: Black voters in Georgia say the state’s primary meltdown was no accident” [CNN]. “The long lines. Poll locations not opening on time. Workers flummoxed by new voting machines. For Bobby Fuse, a long-time Democratic activist from Americus, Georgia, the chaos that gripped Tuesday’s primary felt familiar — and intentional. ‘It’s the same game that we were fighting 50 years ago,’ said Fuse, a 68-year-old political strategist who attended his first civil rights march — a protest against the arrest of four black women for standing to vote in the line reserved for white women — as a 13-year-old in July 1965.’ There’s always some sneaky trick that’s played,’ Fuse told CNN. “This time, they had a whole bunch of sneaky tricks.” • And at every stage of the voting supply chain, electronic voting systems (poll books and Ballot Marking Devices) make sneaky tricks easier. That’s their unique selling proposition!

RussiaGate

“Senate Republicans authorize subpoenas in probe targeting former Obama officials” [Politico]. “The subpoena targets include former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Graham has said he plans to seek testimony from Mueller himself, “or an appropriate designee.’ Graham’s investigation is also expected to focus on alleged abuses of the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act, which were documented in a scathing Justice Department inspector general report that examined the surveillance warrants for former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. That report also found that there was a proper foundation for the Russia investigation and that political bias did not play a role. The list of subpoena targets also includes officials who were involved in the initial investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. The Justice Department recently moved to drop the criminal case against Flynn, though the judge overseeing the case is seeking further judicial guidance.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Pessimistic Style in American Politics” [Thomas Frank, Harpers]. “It was somewhere in this bucolic setting [between Kansas City and Topeka] that the controversial word “populist” was invented. There are no historical markers to indicate exactly where the blessed event took place, but nevertheless it happened—in this stretch of green countryside, on a train traveling from K.C. to Topeka—one day in May 1891. Could they have peeked into the future, that group of Topeka-bound passengers would have been astonished by the international reach and malign interpretations of their deed. That they were inventing a noun signifying “mob-minded hater of all things decent” would have come as a complete surprise to them. By coining the word ‘populist,’ they intended to christen a movement that was brave and noble and fair—that would stand up to the narrow-minded and the intolerant. The People’s Party was the official moniker of the organization these men nicknamed, and it was one of America’s first great economic-political uprisings, a quintessential mass movement, in which rank-and-file Americans learned to think of the country’s inequitable economic system as a thing they might change by common effort. The party offered a glimpse of how citizens of a democracy, born with a faith in equality, could react when the brutal hierarchy of conventional arrangements was no longer tolerable. It was also our country’s final serious effort at breaking the national duopoly of the Republicans and Democrats.” • Thomas Frank breaking his long silence!

“How ‘Never Trumpers’ Crashed The Democratic Party” [FiveThirtyEight]. “But ‘Never Trumpers’ are increasingly involved in the Democratic Party and have gradually shifted their tactics in that direction — effectively becoming a ‘Never Trump’ and ‘Never Bernie Sanders’ coalition. And they appear to be having more success shaping their new party than the one that many of them had been associated with for much of their lives.” • Republicans most definitely did not crash the Democrat Party; they were invited, starting at least with the changes Obama made to the 2008 platform preamble, which (relying on memory here, I’m clear on the concept but I’m too lazy to find the wording) argued strongly that two parties were important. That’s why Obama treated the Republicans as good faith bargainers on the ACA! That message morphed into “Leave the cray cray and join us!” from 2016 (replacing the “coalition of the ascendant” strategy that had previously been ascendant).

UPDATE “State Rep. Goes on Profanity-Laced Tirade After GOP Colleague Hid Positive COVID-19 Test” [Rolling Stone]. “A Democratic Pennsylvania state representative went on a righteous tirade in a 12-minute video after learning that the Republican speaker of the House informed his party but not Democrats that at least one member of his caucus tested positive for COVID-19. ‘Every single day of this crisis this State Government Committee in Pennsylvania has met so that their members could line up one after one after one and explain that it was safe to go back to work,’ Rep. Brian Sims said on Facebook Live on Wednesday night. ‘During that time period, they were testing positive. They were notifying one another. And they didn’t notify us.'”

“Controversial Photos Of Dem Leaders Wearing Kente Cloth Resurface From 3 Days Ago” [The Onion].

“Researchers on Atrocity Prevention Warn: US on Path to Widespread Political Violence” [JustSecurity]. “The United States remains on the precipice of widespread human rights violations against its own civilian population.” • More:

There is a voluminous literature on the main risk factors indicating an increased likelihood of state-sponsored mass atrocities against civilians (see e.g. here and here). We are worried that key indicators are now evident, and in fact increasing, in the United States. Prime examples include:

On their own, of course, these factors might not trigger widespread violence, but when combined they significantly elevate the risk of atrocities against civilians. That so many of these elements are apparent in the United States today is profoundly troubling.

Then again, consider the source….

Stats Watch

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

Employment Situation: “06 June 2020 Initial Unemployment Claims 1,542,000 This Week” [Econintersect]. “According to the BLS: ‘The COVID-19 virus continues to impact the number of initial claims and insured unemployment. This report now includes information on claimants filing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation claims.’ The pandemic has so far caused a 42,488,000 job loss.[some of this number now have jobs].” • Here is a breakdown of unemployment relief status of workers:

Employment Situation: “U.S. Job Market Rapidly Healing in June, Fed Researchers Say” [Bloomberg]. Markets aren’t organic, living beings. They do not heal. I hate that “heal” trope with the hatred of a million burning suns. That said: “The U.S. labor market has continued to heal at a relatively rapid rate through early June, St. Louis Federal Reserve researchers found, using real-time data that provides a more timely view than official government reports…. May unemployment unexpectedly declined to 13.3% as employers added 2.5 million workers to payroll, defying expectations for a Depression-style surge in joblessness and stoking optimism the economy is bouncing back from a virus-induced recession. The St. Louis Fed estimates show states are recovering at sharply varying rates as they slowly reopen after shuttering in March to limit the spread of Covid-19.” • But Pavlina Tcherneva provides this useful chart:

Employment Situation: “Buried in May’s Jobs Data: Virus’ Impact Spread Further to White-Collar Workers” [Barron’s]. “Of the jobs added in May, 2.6 million came from a handful of sectors accounting for less than a third of pre-crisis employment: construction, dentists’ offices, personal services such as barbers, retail, and, most importantly, restaurants. The rest of the economy continued to lose jobs or saw no growth. The biggest losses were at local governments, followed by passenger transportation, and media…. This shouldn’t be a surprise. The government has failed to contain the economic impact of the virus, which means that it spread quickly from businesses where consumers would have risked infection—such as physical retailers, doctors’ offices, restaurants, hotels, and airplanes—to everyone else. First, consumers cut their spending at immediately affected businesses. Deprived of revenues, those businesses were then forced to shed workers and cut their own spending on everything from online advertising to legal advice. Laid-off workers then cut their spending on everything from clothes to cars at the same time as businesses as diverse as tech companies, news publishers, and law firms started experiencing their own revenue squeeze, repeating the entire process. Meanwhile, state and local governments had to deal with a collapsing tax base, which meant cutting infrastructure investment and firing more workers. Everyone in society is linked one way or another.”

Shipping: “May 2020 Sea Container Counts Remain Deep In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “The container counts for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach remain deep in contraction – and exports continue to worsen…. A significant reason for the soft import container counts is the effects of the coronavirus both in the U.S. and internationally. This is on top of a trade war and the world is in a recession. Simply looking at this month versus last month – both exports and imports worsened. The three-month rolling averages for exports declined whilst imports improved modestly…. Container data is consistent with other transport data indicating a weak economy.”

Producer Prices: “May 2020 Producer Price Final Demand Year-over-Year Growth Remains In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “Year-over-year inflation pressures remain soft as this index remains in contraction. This may be the beginning of a deflationary cycle – we will know only in hindsight.”

* * *

Tech: “Remind us again, why work for AWS? Petty Amazon sues marketing veep after he defects to Google Cloud” [The Register]. Lots of squawking between the legal eagles, but this nuggest on Amazon’s business practices is interesting: “Curiously, the court paperwork reveals some of AWS’s inner workings, namely that it starts with a press release announcing a service, and works backwards from that to build the tech around it. ‘At Amazon, product development follows a concept known as ‘working backwards’,’ AWS argued in its filing last month.” • Not sure what to make of that, I confess.

Tech: “IBM will no longer offer, develop, or research facial recognition technology” [The Verge]. “‘IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any [facial recognition] technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values and Principles of Trust and Transparency,’ [IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said in a letter to Congress today]. “We believe now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies.'”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 57 Greed (previous close: 66 Greed;) [CNN]. One week ago: 62 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 11 at 12:51pm.

The Biosphere

“Mine over Matter” [The Baffler]. “Canada dominates this industry: the majority of mining companies in the world have their headquarters in Canada, while 41 percent of the large mining companies in Latin America are Canadian, according to JCAP. These companies have also been mired in controversies in recent years. A landmark report JCAP published in 2016 found that twenty-eight of these companies were implicated in forty-four deaths, 403 injuries, and 709 cases of criminalization in thirteen Latin American countries over a fifteen-year period. The Canadian organization MiningWatch has suggested that the country’s silence on state abuses in Chile is strategic: “Canadian mining interests might just be at the centre of this decision to turn a blind eye to some of the fiercest repression since the Pinochet dictatorship.” According to Natural Resources Canada, there are more than forty Canadian mining companies in Chile, making it—alongside Mexico—the country with the second-most Canadian foreign direct investment after the United States.”

Health Care

France is a First World country:

“Insurers limit which coronavirus tests they’ll pay for” [Axios]. “Insurers have never typically covered medical services that aren’t ordered by a health care professional, or that aren’t considered medically necessary, and they say it’s unclear whether they should be on the hook for such services now.” • Oh.

“Covid-19 Testing Could Cost Insurers Billions of Dollars Yearly” [Bloomberg]. “Health insurers could have to spend as much as $25 billion per year for Covid-19 diagnostic tests and up to $19 billion per year for antibody tests, the industry’s trade association said Wednesday. Diagnostic testing likely will cost $6 billion to $25 billion annually, and antibody testing could cost $5 billion to $19 billion annually, according to the study conducted for America’s Health Insurance Plans by Wakely Consulting Group LLC.” • How you gonna pay for it….

“Amazon Price-Gouging Crackdown Worsened Shortage of Sanitizer, Wipes” [Bloomberg]. This is amazing. Or completely normal, I can’t decide:

When Americans couldn’t find hand sanitizer, toilet paper and disinfecting wipes on Amazon.com Inc., many assumed the products had run out thanks to surging demand from home-bound shoppers. In fact, in some cases the products were available, but merchants had pulled them to avoid getting caught up in Amazon’s price-gouging crackdown—even though they weren’t raising prices.

Amazon began issuing vague warnings about price policy violations in March that extended through April, threatening to kick merchants off the site. The automated warnings followed glaring headlines about greedy opportunists, like the merchant trying to sell a two-pack of Purell hand sanitizer for $400. But Amazon’s warnings didn’t specify prices the company deemed fair. That left merchants playing a guessing game as they tried to determine if they could sell the items and still make a profit after accounting for their own costs, shipping and Amazon’s commission, which typically runs about 15%.

Merchants had access to these products and knew Amazon shoppers wanted them, but they deliberately pulled them because the rules about selling them weren’t clear and the consequences for violations could be devastating. In a heavily automated system with little contact between merchants and Amazon employees, it can take weeks or months to reinstate suspended accounts.

“The Unmasking of America: How the Trump Administration’s Negligence Deprived Healthcare Workers of N95 Masks in a Pandemic” [Rolling Stone]. “As the pandemic loomed, the national stockpile of N95 masks — essential for preventing healthcare workers from catching COVID-19 — was all but empty, with less than one percent of 3.5 billion masks government models had long indicated would be needed in a pandemic…. This is the story of another avoidable tragedy in the Trump administration’s bungling fight against the coronavirus. It draws from internal emails and memos, a federal whistleblower complaint, and congressional testimony by federal officials and private executives. That record provides a startling glimpse behind the scenes of an administration deaf to timely and dire warnings beginning in January about the need to accelerate N95 mask procurement and production to protect healthcare workers. Despite these urgent appeals the Department of Health and Human Services dragged its feet until the middle of March before signing contracts to buy significant quantities of masks. The president failed to use his powers under the Defense Production Act to require mask production until April — and even then in quantities far below the nation’s need.”

Police State Watch

https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev.polisci.090808.123259

Groves of Academe

“MIT, guided by open access principles, ends Elsevier negotiations” [MIT News]. “Standing by its commitment to provide equitable and open access to scholarship, MIT has ended negotiations with Elsevier for a new journals contract. Elsevier was not able to present a proposal that aligned with the principles of the MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts. … More than 100 institutions, ranging from multi-institution consortia to large research universities to liberal arts colleges, decided to endorse the MIT Framework in recognition of its potential to advance open scholarship and the public good. ”

Class Warfare

Always look on the bright side of life. Thread:

News of the Wired

“Viewpoint: Who builds a house without drawing blueprints?” [Communications of the ACM]. “Architects draw detailed plans before a brick is laid or a nail is hammered. But few programmers write even a rough sketch of what their programs will do before they start coding. We can learn from architects…. The need for specifications follows from two observations. The first is that it is a good idea to think about what we are going to do before doing it, and as the cartoonist Guindon wrote: ‘Writing is nature’s way of letting you know how sloppy your thinking is.’ We think in order to understand what we are doing. If we understand something, we can explain it clearly in writing. If we have not explained it in writing, then we do not know if we really understand it. The second observation is that to write a good program, we need to think above the code level.”

I tend to think of topping statues as merely symbolic — one of the signs that the previous Black Lives Matter had been shoved into a ditch — but then again, waves of iconoclasm have happened repeatedly. So:

* * *
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 (EG):

Jack in the Pulpit, for spring. I think I would rather see this plant in the woods, rather than on a lawn. Not sure why.

* * *

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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.

104 comments

  1. aj

    Q: How do you get Bernie Sanders supporters on board with Joe Biden?
    A: Recognize that we didn’t support Sanders for who he was but because of his policy goals. Then, have Biden adopt those policy goals.

    See, it’s actually a really easy question to answer.

    What they really want the answer to is:
    Q: How do you get Bernie Sanders supporters on board with Joe Biden without offering them any concessions on policy?

    It’s like when your boss asks you “what would motivate you to work harder?” when what he really wants to know is “what would motivate you to work harder, besides more money?

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It’s like when your boss asks you “what would motivate you to work harder?” when what he really wants to know is “what would motivate you to work harder, besides more money?

      I rarely laugh out loud…

      Reply
    2. hunkerdown

      It’s a violation of the class order to offer you material wealth, so what symbolic claptrap will you accept in exchange for your material effort and time?

      Reply
    3. Edward

      The Sanders interview was a lot of boilerplate about why Sanders voters should support Biden. Personally, I may opt for vote swapping or vote pairing. This is where a Trump voter and a Biden voter agree not to vote for either candidate, thus cancelling each other out, or where someone in a swing state supporting a third party candidate agrees with a Biden supporter in a safe state to swap votes. Sam Husseini set up a web site to do this in 2004 and I hope it happens again. It is a way to get around attempts by the Democratic party to force the left to vote for establishment politicians like Biden.

      Reply
      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        Why would you trust another voter to adhere to an unverifiable agreement that can’t include any penalties for noncompliance?

        Reply
        1. Edward

          I have wondered about this too. It is a good point. I did this in 2004 and just trusted the other person was honorable, but I admit there have been organized attempts to tamper with voting and this arrangement could be an easy target for the vote manipulators. If you know the other person that can provide some assurance.

          Reply
            1. Edward

              Possibly. There are tests that try to filter out bots. I don’t know how well they work. “Identify the fire hydrants/crosswalks/buses in these images”.

              Reply
        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Why would you trust another voter to adhere to an unverifiable agreement that can’t include any penalties for noncompliance?

          When I read this the first time, I thought it applied to Sanders supporters who advocated “pushing Biden left.”

          Reply
    4. Dr. John Carpenter

      It’s like when your boss asks you “what would motivate you to work harder?” when what he really wants to know is “what would motivate you to work harder, besides more money?

      In my experience (IT world) it’s more like “Will a pizza party make you work harder? Because all you’re getting is a pizza party.” So far as I can see, the Dems aren’t even offering that.

      Reply
      1. John k

        Let’s see… all they’ve ever said to me is give us money and your vote because the other is worse… and for the same reason there’s no need to lie to you and say we might ever do something, anything, for you. Well, anything beyond keeping you safe with all the wars wars and militarizing the police.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Jimmy Dore brings up the valid point that as soon as you promise your vote to a person like Joe Biden without something extracting first, you have given all your leverage away and can then be totally ignored. So all those people who say that it is vital to get Trump out, no matter what, they have lost all leverage as they have committed their vote with getting anything in exchange.

          Reply
    5. Stillfeelinthebern

      You all can come tomorrow night and see what they are going to offer. Wisconsin State Democratic Party Convention is online and Biden and Bernie are featured speakers.

      Starts at 7pm CST http://wisdems.org/live

      I highly recommend watching Representative Gwen Moore. She is a gifted speaker and always always the best on the platform. Watching her dance out to the podium, often with a prop. One year it was a golden shovel. I think that was the year of Foxconn.

      Reply
    6. The Rev Kev

      ‘How do you get Bernie Sanders supporters on board with Joe Biden without offering them any concessions on policy?’

      Offer them a task force that will lead to precisely nowhere. If a person gets a warm reception on “The View” I am automatically suspicious.

      Reply
    7. albrt

      Biden adopting policy goals means literally nothing. Only an imbecile or a very young person who has not heard or read anything about the last several elections could possibly fall for this.

      Democrats never, ever do what they tell working people they are going to do. They only do what their banker owners tell them to do.

      Reply
  2. Off The Street

    argued strongly that two parties — neither cray cray — were important.

    Voters, some from either party, would dispute that now as they would’ve in 2009.

    Reply
  3. L

    At Amazon, product development follows a concept known as ‘working backwards’,’ AWS argued in its filing last month.” • Not sure what to make of that, I confess.

    Just my 2c but think of it this way. There are two benefits to this approach.

    First, AWS’s customer success depends in large measure on: staying far enough ahead of all competition so that they do not lose their customers to other platforms; and not making the costly mistake of investing in things that fail to pan out. Other companies like Google solve this by spinning off house startups and then reacquiring the ones that fail. Or like Facebook never committing enough to make it work anyway. At Amazon they can use the press release to keep themselves ahead of the game for the cost of some PR flack and then gauge interest while looking like an innovator.

    Second, like all modern companies they gauge their real success according to the stock market. And most stock market action these days is driven by algorithmic traders (soulless silicon investors) who trawl twitter and other venues for announcements. The algorithmic traders then create the froth that is stock value which human traders (soulless carbon investors) follow. By churning out press releases that may or may not lead to products Amazon is keeping that froth going with less forward investment.

    Reply
    1. Art Vandalay

      Though, given Amazon’s market power, I think there’s an interesting question whether a specific operating model of announcing vaporware constitutes an unfair or deceptive trade practice under the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act) (15 USC §45) — especially if it turns out there is a pattern they announce (non-existent) products or services shortly prior to other companies announcing the same or similar products, where those companies are not “innovating” the same way, i.e., they’re actually making a product before they offer it for sale. Be an interesting study for someone looking to write an article.

      Reply
      1. Skip Intro

        Sounds like the Microsoft playbook. Announce vaporware to crush nascent competitors.

        The analogy between architects and software developers is deeply flawed, because software is many more orders of magnitude more complex than building a house, so any non-trivial software requires iterative development practices which have been standard for years, to even define the requirements clearly enough to implement them in a useful way.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > any non-trivial software requires iterative development practices which have been standard for years,

          Even the COBOL applications that people are complaining about, although they’ve delivered for decades?

          Reply
        2. Odysseus

          The Unix philosophy of small, pipeline-able tools seems to argue against that. cat, sort, and many other tools have not substantially changed in decades.

          Write all the complex shells scripts you want on top of them. But if you have to change all fo the code all of the time, you have layering violations.

          Reply
    2. ewmayer

      “[AWS] starts with a press release announcing a service, and works backwards from that to build the tech around it.” — That’s the same way Tesla does things – look at yesterday’s share-price rocketry after Musk announced go-ahead for “mass production” of the still-vaporware-aside-from-prototypes Tesla semi truck. Since that’s what the Ponzi casino gambling markets created by decades of Fed policy reward in tech-company behavior, that’s what tech companies do.

      Reply
    3. Lil’D

      I worked for an engineering firm in the 70s that had a catalog with a bunch of instruments that we had never built. If we got an order, my department would design, build and deliver it. My favorite was a borehole probe which ended up having a circuit board 72” by 1.5”.
      Laying that sucker out was a lot of fun. Onboard computation was a 2k e-prom and a 6502 with 500 bytes of RAM with which I had to calculate depth and planar location from occasional measurement of an onboard pendulum. Yay Taylor series.

      Prices were jacked up but most ended up losing money unless we got another order. Amazon probably has better economics

      Reply
  4. Michael Hudson

    Re Bannon’s article in the Asia Times, remember that it is a Larouche publication, edited by China hater David Goldman (who helped organize LaRouche’s financial scams and matching funds for the US presidential runs, while linked to US intelligence agencies, as he’s bragged about in Asia Times).

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, that’s clarifying! I certainly had no idea. Some of the authors (Pepe Escobar) seem OK. But it certainly does explain the presence of Bannon in this otherwise obscure publication.

      Reply
      1. MLTPB

        I think the seemingly OK articles can be seen as possibly pro-Xi but anti-China, if the case that Chinese people are better off being confident enough that backing off, being water like, has nothing to do with the 19th century unequal treaties with the UK, Russia, etc, but is in fact more productive long term…if that is the case under consideration.

        In that case, you don’t want to say to Beijing, go ahead, charge, you’re just, you are strong.

        You want to say, think long term.

        Reply
      2. km

        IIRC, David Goldman broke with Larouche a long time ago. His biggest quirk isn’t his Larouchiness but his Israel First, Israel Second, Israel Always slant.

        Also, Goldman was also a rabid neocon constantly cheerleading for new wars for Israel, at least until about the time Trump came along.

        Reply
      3. Projection

        From the Bannon article:

        “Bannon: In fact, I am an adviser to this new government that’s been formed, of the new Federal State of China, which is a collection of high-net-worth individuals and sports and cultural figures throughout the world, expatriates that advocate for taking down the CCP.”
        – High-net-worth individuals are always guarantors for the welfare of the people, right? Just look at the USA! It would certainly be fun to know more about the people in this government. Maybe the same level of competency and moral standing as Juan Guaidó.

        About China as aggressor, a gangster-state etc. I wonder if he and his ilk really believe this or if the are just using attack as the best defense. Every word he is using to characterize the Chinese government could be accurately used to describe the US government too.

        I certainly don’t believe that China is a beacon of hope for the world, but still, it is a bit rich hearing American representatives accusing other countries of aggression.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > “Bannon: In fact, I am an adviser to this new government that’s been formed, of the new Federal State of China, which is a collection of high-net-worth individuals and sports and cultural figures throughout the world, expatriates that advocate for taking down the CCP.”

          Grifters gotta grift.

          Reply
      4. Pavel

        Just to say Pepe Escobar is pretty fab. Don’t always agree but he has a fresh POV if nothing else.

        And let’s not forget in these times of media cancelling and muffling journalists don’t always have much choice in publishers.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          IIRC, Escobar’s article on Hong Kong wasn’t his best. Basically flew in, interviewed his former landlady, condemned the protests, and flew out. Perhaps that was tribute to Asia Times’ masters, given what Hudson says.

          Reply
    2. Mikel

      Mr. Hudson,
      Do you think today’s market whining is about Jerome not saying he would do negative interest rates?

      Reply
      1. Briny

        That would be my read. That and a $1 tn cap on treasury bond purchases per year going forward. Attributing it to worries about COVID-19 cases surging is suspect. Why today and not before?

        Reply
        1. periol

          Seriously, why would it be about COVID-19? It’s not like there will be another shutdown if the case numbers keep going up.

          Reply
    3. a different chris

      On Bannon:

      “We still have not worked through these issues. Remember, the campaign slogan was “Make America Great Again.”

      I’m sure he knows (and sure he’s given up on this election cycle) that Trump spends seemingly every day unleashing a tweet that claims we are now Great again. That we have worked thru all the issues, that’s why he needs another term. I mean seriously it is (maybe to be replaced) his campaign slogan, and Bannon for sure knows this.

      https://www.denverpost.com/2020/02/05/trump-state-of-the-union-analysis-maga/

      PS: do I care who publishes something if the author doesn’t disavow it?

      Reply
    4. s.n.

      i haven’t read Asia Times for the past 8 years, but once upon a time I was reading it daily. Back then I thought it was a pretty good antidote to the anglo-american MSM bilge, Escobar being one of their attractions, and I wouldn’t have classed it as a Larouche-ian publication –along the lines of New Solidarity or Executive Intelligence Review, which I’m familiar with– even though their columnist “Spengler” aka Goldman was formerly a key Larouche operative in the 70s. Incidently I checked their website today and the editor is one Dr. Uwe Parpart, whose name rings a bell from various overtly Larouche-ian publications [aka Dr. Uwe Parpart-Henke] of long-ago. So yes, I guess it is or has evolved into a Larouche vehicle. Thanks for the tip-off. How the Larouche-ians keep their brand [& devotees] alive after the demise of their fearless leader at a ripe old age several years ago is a mystery to me.

      Reply
  5. Savedbyirony

    Sorry to hear you are not feeling well today, Lambert. Hope you are feeling better soon.

    Big news in Ohio today is that Dr. Amy Acton is stepping down from the Director of Health position as of today.

    Reply
    1. Savedbyirony

      We “progress” from a doctor who is extremely good in communicating with the public concerning Covid 19 topics and medical issues in general to a lawyer, at least in the interim, heading the Dept. of Health.

      Reply
      1. marku52

        Medical officer in San Diego quit because she was getting death threats.

        It’s getting bad out there…

        Reply
            1. JBird4049

              More Americans keep insisting that reality is less real than what they believe. It’s kinda cute. Until those mass graves are being dug.

              Reply
            2. VietnamVet

              This is directly caused by the inadequate response to the pandemic. The federal government’s response collapsed due inadequate preparation, bad messaging and stupid decisions but the bipartisan political mis-leadership dare not admit it and not be re-elected and lose their donations. Being mask free is now a Trump identifier.

              Public Health was left to the city, county and states. So, the COVID-19 response has been haphazard, confused and now dangerous. It has killed over 110,000 Americans with more to come. The resignation is to get out of the front lines of the conflict.

              Reply
              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                > Public Health was left to the city, county and states.

                Most of the legal power for health is at the local level; quarantines, for example. That’s anachronistic.

                The liberal Democrat argument is that better “leadership” plus the Obama Alumni Association doing the administration would have made the response better (and to be fair, leadership does matter; see McClellan vs. Grant). But I’m not so sure. For example, CDC problems predate Trump. And would Cuomo and Diblasio have shut down New York earlier under a Democrat administration? Certainly the PR would have been better.

                Reply
  6. Samuel Conner

    > Götterdtrümperung

    This inspires the thought that that DJT could be thought of as “Prince Trumperdinck”

    Alas, Joe Biden is no Westley.

    Reply
    1. albrt

      “Trump, however, is a creature of the American twilight; Götterdtrümperung, as it were. Of course, nobody knows what the night or the next morning will bring.”

      Seems pretty clear the night or the next morning will bring human extinction. Twenty or thirty years at the outside, I would say. The rest of it is just deciding whether the band should play Nearer My God to Thee or Peggy Lee’s Is That All There Is.

      The good news is we will probably kill ourselves off before we invent an artificial intelligence capable of killing us off.

      Reply
  7. BlueCollarAl

    Re: Thomas Frank in Harper’s

    Populism without any corresponding habits of social solidarity or a cultural inheritance of civic virtue (the latter quality in some critical ways characterizing, as Frank notes, elements of America’s last experiment in Populism in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries) can result in a Hobbesian universe of war of all against all and a social Darwinian worldview that institutionally and intellectually justifies the survival of only the fittest, strongest, and most ruthless. In its anti-hierarchical underpinning, firmly rooted in a powerful strain of 19th Century American political thought that deeply impressed Tocqueville (“Democracy in America” is replete with examples), American Populism rejects the attemp to legitimate “elites,” whether on the basis of wealth, family, or even personal virtue. But as Frank wonderfully describes, the older version of populism had roots in even deeper historical tradition: ultimately in the Ancient Greek notion of “freedom” (retained to some extent in the thinking of the Roman “republicans” before empire took hold) as uniquely the character of being citizens of a “polis,” a political community in which solely on the basis of holding the status of “citizen” one could engage on an equal footing with each and every other citizen in debating and deciding the affairs of state. (The question of who gets to be designated a “citizen” is of course another matter!)

    Contemporary “Trumpian” populism retains the “anti-elitism” of the older version along with little else. The world(view) has decisively changed. This new kind of hyper-individualistic populism is stridently “rights” based (like, “Man, don’t Tread on Me, I’ve got muh rights,” and interestingly played out in the NRA-gun rights lobby) and sees any appeal to social solidarity (political equality/freedom) in proposed government reforms, programs or authentically democratic institutions as evidence of “socialism”, the cheap catchall euphemism that names the enemy of enemies that if allowed to go unopposed will destroy “what has made America great.” Everyone’s opinions, rights, habits, and feelings are just as “good” but also as worthless as anyone else’s. Whereas the classic notion of citizen is seen as someone who along with fellow citizens is equally concerned about the common or “public good” (Madison’s great concern in his contributions to “The Federalist Papers”), today’s populist is all about protecting his or her “private” interests from her fellows and especially from the community organized as a governing body of law and legislation (“government”).

    Behind this mythology/ image of “great” America (“MAGA”) is an older strain, a national mythology of freestanding, independent, self-reliant and self-sufficient individuals basically fending for themselves, the “best” (“most able and worthy”) pulling themselves up by proverbial bootstraps to the high heaven of material “success,” and perhaps coming together occasionally if they so choose (no necessity or obligation implied!) in one or another voluntary association held together not by custom, tradition, or binding obligation but but individual free choice and the desire to ensure self-protection of one’s property. Or maybe gathering in mass rallies and movements, united by a leader and leadership teaching whom to hate and blame for all of the loneliness, alienation, and misery (legitimate issues indeed!) in their otherwise politically isolated lives.

    Nationalism adds the power of hate and fear rather than affection for one’s neighbors, friends, family, and countrymen, as the binding adhesive for social cohesion (what little remains), so that, in an entirely absolute and non-ironic way, the Gospel’s counsel to “love one’s enemies” as a mark of citizenship in the Kingdom of God becomes “hate one’s enemies; fear the Others” as the primary basis for belonging to the “kingdom of the Nation” and for relating civilly towards one’s compatriots (“USA, USA”). Patriotism, the affection for what is me and mine, the local: family, neighborhood, township and region, common memories based in customs and traditions of place, and then and only then, expansively to include one’s country, is replaced by a cheap abstraction, at once able to appeal to large masses or the otherwise alienated and isolated. The fact that today this is set in contrast to a globalist cosmopolitanism doesn’t make it any the less hostile to the older conservative traditions of Burke and Belloc and Chesterton or to the older version of populism so well described 40 years ago by Christopher Lasch and today by Thomas Frank. Cosmopolitanism adds (merely? No!) a certain contemptuousness and condescension to the hatred, yes; but hostility  is still hostility, and what to me Trump symbolizes and incarnates is equally destructive to all that I for one hold dear in this valley of tears. 

    And you know the sun’s settin’ fast
    And just like they say nothing good ever lasts
    Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye but hold on to your lover
    ‘Cause your heart’s bound to die
    Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town
    Can’t you see the sun’s settin’ down on our town, on our town
    Goodnight  

    Iris Dement: “Our Town”

    Reply
    1. farmboy

      Didn’t know much about WJBryan until reading Thomas Frank article this morning. We can link “deplorables” and “effet snobs” ala Spiro T. Agnew to WJB to the the American Gothic painting aka farmer and wife which is actually farmer and daughter and to Jefferson. I had a dim recollection from the movie WJB about the Scopes trial. Back when we were all farmers it was the elites v everyone else, just like today, just like ancient Rome.

      Reply
      1. eg

        Further back than Rome — the rural userers have been preying upon “the little people” since the earliest Bronze Age civilizations of Mesopotamia

        Reply
  8. marksparky

    To me the big news of the day is President Trump planning a ‘discussion forum’ about race when he’s in Dallas, but not inviting Dallas’ black police chief or black Dallas County Sheriff. Kinda like when a bunch of old white men meet to plan policy about young women’s reproductive rights.

    Reply
      1. John k

        Nah, that was a president proposing civil rights for blacks. Funny thing is, jfk couldn’t get it done, but Johnson, with his clout in the senate and aided by jfk sympathy, got I’d done.
        Granted Johnson was the awful pres that destroyed America’s faith in gov for two generations with his Vietnam surge.

        Reply
        1. YetAnotherChris

          Johnson was a tragic figure mostly by inheritance. He succeeded Kennedy in the most gruesome way imaginable and was gifted with a hot potato in Vietnam. That said, and all crimes acknowledged, he twisted a lot of arms (as was his wont) to secure basic civil liberties for a lot of dispossessed Americans. Obama would have done well to study LBJ and FDR, but we know now that his constituency was elsewhere.

          As a thought experiment on the PMC I’d like to hear how much uproar would ensue if Obama gave Romney’s 47% speech tomorrow. Food for thought.

          Here’s someone getting the bully pulpit:

          http://healthyinfluence.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/LBJ-Persuades.jpg

          Reply
  9. timotheus

    How ironic that MIT would challenge the Elsevier over its academic journal monopoly/scam (“provide equitable and open access to scholarship”) after having thrown the book at Aaron Schwartz in 2011, threatening him with two felonies worth 35 years in the slammer for providing “equitable and open access to scholarship,” and leading to his tragic suicide two years later. I guess they decided he was right after all.

    Reply
    1. WJ

      That whole case stunk to me. I strongly suspect there was a lot more going on in the attack on Schwartz than appears. Clearly the govt wanted to ruin him.

      Reply
      1. Briny

        Part, or most, of that was threatening a system of extracting rents from, and a mechanism of control, over academic research. I have no interest in publishing until this system is destroyed.

        Reply
  10. a different chris

    “We believe now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies.’”

    Yeah suddenly everybody has masks and will likely keep them on for the indefinite future. So the tech ain’t working so good no more… there goes all those $$$, in order to salvage something from it let’s look like champions of freedum!

    Sheesh.

    Reply
  11. Amfortas the hippie

    adjacent to one of the links:
    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/06/joe-biden-donald-trump-resist-police-brutality-protests
    fta:”This isn’t theoretical. Just this week, there was widespread alarm at Trump’s vow to declare “antifa” a terrorist organization, leading various right-wingers to publicly fantasize about hunting down its adherents — or, more accurately, anyone they decide is an adherent — and throwing them into Guantanamo Bay. As many have pointed out, these threats are largely toothless because the United States has no specific domestic terrorism law — at least not until Joe Biden enters the Oval Office.

    There is every chance that such a law would pass. Ever since the prevailing image of a generic terrorist switched from an Islamic fundamentalist to a white supremacist, the trope of terrorism has flipped from being a right-wing obsession to one increasingly held by liberals and even parts of the Left. Consequently, it was Biden’s party, together with their allies in the FBI, that pushed such legislation after a series of high-profile white-supremacist terrorist acts not long ago. They did so in the face of criticism from civil liberties advocates, one of whom said it was “both unnecessary and creates serious risks of abuse” — and even from the Justice Department.”

    just adds to the indictment of Team Blue…and is yet another reason I won’t vote for Biden under any circumstances.
    Return to “Normalcy”?
    “Normalcy” sucked.

    Reply
    1. barefoot charley

      I’ll admit I’m a weak-willed cowardly conformist, at least when connubial comfort or community require it, so that said, I’ve chucked my principled position against voting for lesser evilism. That poor Sanders person on tv bubbling bromides–“Joe Biden is our best chance for bold progressive blah blah!” highlights why I endorse, just this once more, voting strategically (*not* hopefully) against the orange man, by voting for the gray one.

      Just because the orange reality tv show’s so much worse for the country and history than the normal greater evilism his party promises. But insulting anyone’s intelligence or judgement to suggest that Joe Biden’s good for anything more than cozy falsehood, corporate bootlicking and incipient senility–how can any informed progressive do that to their beautiful brains, to their beautiful friends? (See, I’ve still got it in me.) Still, Amfortas, wouldn’t it be just a teeny tiny bit better to turn Texas blue? No?

      Reply
      1. Massinissa

        I mean, its already purple. Better to be purple than one or the other IMO. That way both parties bother to at least pretend they care about what happens in the state.

        Reply
      2. Amfortas the hippie

        regarding “turning Texas Blue”…it’s gotten to a point where i don’t even know what that means any more.
        I’ve read and scrutinised every Texas Dem(and GOP, Libertarian and Green) Platform since 1988…as well as the National Versions of same…and the actual performance increasingly has little to do with the performative wordplay and slogans.
        I’ve mostly voted Dem at the state and local level for all that time…even campaigned for them during the Bush2 Darkness(made the cover of the San Antonio paper for leading an antiwar protest right here in my little town…and was strangled in an alley, to boot!).
        But it doesn’t appear that they have anything to offer besides “we’re not republicans”…which, itself, is debatable on many, many issues.
        They are, of course, free to attempt to earn my vote and support, but I don’t really see that happening ,either.

        these days, when i go down the ballot, for each race, my ranked choice is Green, Libertarian* and only then Dem(Primaries, of course, are different)(* Libertardian, because why not/sabot in the machine…at least they generally genuinely care about Civil Liberties)
        Since Obama’s Nacht der langen Messer , and Bernie’s Assimilation(Locutus?), I’ve become pretty pessimistic about electoral politics…my Inner Doomer is at the fore, again(when I’m not blissfully picking peaches, etc), and I don’t see any path towards a better country, other than through collapse on a scale we’ve never seen. PTB will not willingly get out of the way or change their evil ways.

        The only Texas Democrat that I would pee on if he was on fire is Lloyd Doggett…maybe Kirk Watson, but that’s pretty iffy, and only because i corresponded with him back in the day.
        I’m focused on soil building, tree planting, tool and material acquisition and infrastructure on the Farm…and buying the love of my neighbors with produce…and continuing the Fieldwork/New Deal Evangelism I’ve been doing for all these years.The latter two efforts are really just another sort of soilbuilding, after all.

        Reply
        1. Daryl

          What baffles me is that Texans apparently approve of Abbott’s handling of this whole thing. Dem/Rep it doesn’t matter, if people in this state can’t figure out their lives are being endangered by the government…I don’t know.

          Reply
        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Since Obama’s Nacht der langen Messer , and Bernie’s Assimilation(Locutus?), I’ve become pretty pessimistic about electoral politics…my Inner Doomer is at the fore

          I had to look up Locutus; it’s Captain Picard’s name after he was assimilated by the Borg. Thanks for the reference.

          As readers know, I’m a meliorist. But “Bernie was the compromise.” I’m inclined to “let rip” as Boris Johnson says. I know that’s not a hopeful attitude, and perhaps I’ll come up with something better…

          Reply
    2. Arizona Slim

      Return to Normalcy. Hmmm, wasn’t that what Warren Harding was promising? And wasn’t he one of the worst presidents in American history?

      Reply
      1. periol

        Personally, I have two lists for worst presidents, one list includes all the presidents who led us into war, the other includes all the presidents who kept us out of war. The war presidents are all at the bottom of my list – I don’t see a single war in American history that was justified. I really struggle with the general love for FDR, for that reason.

        With Harding, maybe he is the historians pick as the worst. For me, he just seems like a man of his time. As soon as he died, all of a sudden corruption was a terrible thing, and his death made him the scapegoat. He didn’t take us to war. He wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but he kept the US out of the League of Nations and died before he could do any real damage. Plus, he didn’t even want to be president that much, it just kind of happened.

        So on my list, where they’re all bad, every single one, he’s certainly not the worst. Probably closer to least bad imho. But I’m no historian.

        Reply
  12. HotFlash

    “The United States remains on the precipice of widespread human rights violations against its own civilian population.”

    Precipice? Haven’t they already gassed their own people?

    Reply
    1. Eclair

      Hotflash, I must be getting old and slow. Your comment woke me:. He gassed his own people. History repeats. Gonna go have my second glass of wine.

      Reply
    2. Temporarily Sane

      It’s cute how, according to various pundits, media outlets and observers, we are always “on the precipice” of widespread domestic human rights violations and American democracy is perpetually “under threat” but somehow we never seem to cross those red lines into post-democracy.

      The people who have actually had their human and constitutional rights violated might see it differently but they are often “not available for comment” (because they are dead or in jail) or else they are simply ignored by the breathless rhetoricians.

      It’s acceptable to say that “our democracy” is in danger or that an increase in domestic human rights violations is “worrying” but it is still taboo to suggest that maybe our hallowed democracy has already been replaced (from within) by a system that retains only the trappings of democracy.

      Reply
      1. Acacia

        Yes. “In danger” means.. whew.. “we” still have democracy, when really it’s democracy for me… jail and waterboarding for thee.

        Reply
  13. Amfortas the hippie

    from the 538 thing:
    “3–And finally, there is a sizable bloc of Republicans who will join with Democrats to challenge Trump — so long as Democrats don’t move too far ideologically to the left.”

    and there it is, chuck and nancy’s target constituency.
    and further evidence that a Big Center Party of Adults is still the go-to solution to both trump and the Left(those dreaded Populists, like Hitler!!).
    It’ll be more explicit under Biden

    and this:https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/502187-harris-grapples-with-defund-the-police-movement-amid-veep-talk

    wherein she flails around a bit, until the authors of the bit segue sort of hamhandedly into IdPol at it’s finest.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > a Big Center Party of Adults

      A government of national unity to heal the country at this moment of crisis. A Grand Bargain/Austerity, laws against domestic terrorism, and a new war (Taiwan?) would all meet with universal approval, I would think, “across the aisle.” And of course something to make that pesky racism problem go away. Means-tested “access” to wokeness.

      Reply
  14. Art Vandalay

    re: Viewpoint: Who builds a house without drawing blueprints?” [Communications of the ACM]. “Architects draw detailed plans before a brick is laid or a nail is hammered. But few programmers write even a rough sketch of what their programs will do before they start coding. We can learn from architects

    As a non-technical person working in a tech company, I’ve long thought that if anyone could see what they are building with code as one would with a physical structure, if would be horrifying: thinking of a manufacturing facility with blocked fire exits, an unexpected door in a secure area, or a pipe that dumps waste back into the production system. Less threateningly, think of Winchester Mystery House stairs to nowhere.

    Not sure building architects would do any better than software architects if buildings were invisible.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I know nothing about Code…but I built this house with no blueprints, just a sketch, then some little flags, and sitting out in the field where it would be, visualising it. Carried that vision in my head for 3 1/2 years until we moved in.
      turned out pretty close to how i envisioned it…although in retrospect, i shouldn’t have used nails for the roof tin(leaks, now mostly under control)
      like a magical Working…i was mentally and physically exhausted by the end.
      https://amfortasthehippie.blogspot.com/2016/04/house.html

      Reply
    2. HotFlash

      Agree w/Amfortas, you can plan too much. But an architect is the PMC guy/gal, they have to make sure that the actual makers (carpenters, bricklayers, electricians, etc. etc.) understand the Master Plan. Mind you, my architect-planned house was not built ‘as planned’ due to the constructors literally not understanding the plans (skylight in wrong place, carefully planned outlet and switch boxes put in any-old-where, planned water piping ignored, etc.).

      However, I call this a communication problem. The contractors did not understand why things had to be *exactly* here or there, and did not know which stuff could be winged. I could blame the architect, but I am the one who was paying the bills and who would be living in the house, so I have to say, I am the one finally responsible.

      There is a lesson here, I’m just not sure what it is.

      Reply
  15. The Rev Kev

    ‘Trials were held against laborers from Wiltshire, England who had violated a 1349 ordinance that decreed that all laborers must accept the wages they had received in 1346. Let’s talk about how the Black Death empowered surviving workers!’

    If ever there was a place in England that this was going to happen, I would reckon that it would be in Wiltshire. The agricultural workers in this area often got harsh treatment until by the end of the 19th century, many of them were not needed anymore due to the imports of American produce. A good book on this subject is “Forgotten Labour: The Wiltshire Agricultural Worker and His Environment” by Avice R Wilson.

    Reply
  16. HotFlash

    My dear Lambert, hope you are feeling better. In any case, take the rest of the day off… (that’s a joke).

    Reply
    1. Savedbyirony

      Yes. Looking at what is happening in Ohio, short of an effective vaccine being available (if ever), people should stop talking about herd immunity and start realizing tptb are culling the herd.

      Reply

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