2:00PM Water Cooler 6/19/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data. Back to the American West (linear):

Not 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

Since we’re getting closer to the election, maybe it’s time to start looking at the electoral map, updated June 17 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!

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UPDATE Biden (D)(1): “Amy Klobuchar drops out of Biden VP contention and says he should choose a woman of color” [CNN]. • Sticking the shiv into Warren’s back on her way out the door….

UPDATE Biden (D)(2): “What Joe Biden’s Event Was Like” [New York Times]. “About 20 handpicked local officials, small-business owners and reporters sat in folding chairs, each placed within a large white circle taped on the floor of a recreation center to maintain — or at least encourage — social distancing. A few attendees whispered to each other as photographers quietly chatted. You could hear the clack of typing echoing across the room. The silence was striking…. Then, Mr. Biden appeared. He arrived with such little fanfare that I didn’t even notice him enter the room. There was no introduction by an organizer to pump up a crowd that wasn’t there, as is typical with campaign events. He just stood behind a lectern, pasted with the placard ‘Reopen Right: Safer and Stronger,’ and began reading a speech off the teleprompters, assailing President Trump.” • Who knows? We may look back on the Biden campaign as genius level. Talk about rule-breaking!

UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “Biden’s Slow Hiring in Key States Starts to Worry Some Democrats” [Bloomberg]. “Joe Biden’s campaign has only begun to hire top officials in key states, leaving him without senior staff in battlegrounds like Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida, alarming some Democrats who say the leadership vacuum could hinder the party’s efforts to defeat President Donald Trump in November…. The officials said campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon and senior adviser Greg Schultz have acknowledged that the campaign missed its self-imposed deadline for leaders in the battleground states to be in place by the start of June and has moved it to July 1.” • Um, thirty days is a long time in politics. Again, though, we’ve just seen two well-organized and very well-funded campaigns implode: Clinton 2016 and Sanders 2020. Maybe nobody knows anything, and all the Democrat strategists are grifters. I mean, even more grifters than we already know they are.

UPDATE Biden (D)(4): Coming “for ask a quick favor”:

I’m seen a few versions of this, but this one seems recorded from the screen. How does the Biden campaign let this loose in the world? This keeps happening.

UPDATE Biden (D)(5): The new talking point is [wipes tear] empathy:

Yeah, I mean, contrast Obama: “Turns out I’m really good at killing people.” Like it or not, one must admit that Trump hasn’t blown nearly as many faraway brown people to pink mist as Obama — with an assist from Clinton — did. But to be fair, Obama was articulate, understood irony, etc.

UPDATE Biden (D)(6): “Biden, Trump Quit Praising Xi to Feud Over Who’d Be Tougher on China” [Bloomberg]. “Donald Trump and Joe Biden used to brag about how well they knew Chinese President Xi Jinping. Barely four months from election day, the talk has turned to who can be tougher on Beijing, with a tell-all book by Trump’s ex-national security adviser adding to the fray. ‘Trump rolled over for the Chinese — he took their word for it,’ the narrator in one Biden ad says of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. A Trump spot counters: ‘China is the greatest threat to America’s security and our values. Career politician Joe Biden is weak on China.'”

UPDATE Trump (R)(1): “The Lincoln Project has already dropped John Bolton’s bombshells into an anti-Trump ad on China” [The Week]. ” Reporters started revealing scandalous tidbits from former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s tell-all about his time in President Trump’s White House on Wednesday, and it didn’t take more than a few hours for the Lincoln Project to use one of Bolton’s biggest bombshells in a new ad arguing that Trump is continually losing against China — or at least the United States is losing under Trump’s dealmaking skills.” • There is actually one frightening thing — as opposed to the darkly hiliarious things — about Never Trump Republicans joining the Democrat Party: Republicans like to get things done. Unlike liberal Democrats. This is probably bad.

Trump (R)(2): “Trump Warns Potential Tulsa Protesters Ahead of Saturday Rally” [Bloomberg]. “‘Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis,’ Trump said in a tweet. ‘It will be a much different scene!’ Trump’s campaign and Tulsa officials expect more than 100,000 of his supporters to pour into the town for the rally, which will likely be the largest indoor gathering of Americans since the coronavirus pandemic led to a national lockdown in March. The city imposed daily curfews around the BOK Arena, the site of the rally, beginning Thursday. Police told the mayor, G.T. Bynum, that ‘individuals from organized groups who have been involved in destructive or violent behavior in other states are planning to travel to the City of Tulsa for purposes of causing unrest in and around the rally,’ according to an executive order he issued….” • Shit-stirring on all sides. And too obviously from Trump’s, I think.

Trump (R)(2): “Trump claims he deserves credit for making Juneteenth ‘very famous'” [CNN]. “President Donald Trump is seeking to take credit for making Juneteenth — a day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States — ‘very famous,’ after rescheduling his first rally since the start of the pandemic to avoid further criticism for seeming to co-opt it. Trump told The Wall Street Journal that ‘nobody had ever heard of’ the holiday before he brought it up. ‘I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous,’ Trump said in reference to the rally date in an interview published Thursday. ‘It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it.'” • Trump’s book deal will be something to behold.

Trump (R)(4): “Twitter labels Trump’s tweet as ‘manipulated media'” [Reuters]. ” Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) added a ‘manipulated media’ label on a video posted on U.S. President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed on Thursday that showed a doctored news clip with a misspelled banner flashing ‘Terrified todler runs from racist baby.’ The original video, which went viral on social media in 2019, showed a black toddler and a white toddler running towards each other and hugging. It was published here with the headline ‘These two toddlers are showing us what real-life besties look like” on CNN’s website last year. The clip here shared in Trump’s tweet first shows the part where one of those toddlers is seen running ahead of the other. At one point the banner reads: ‘Racist baby probably a Trump voter.'” • If I read the story rightly, Trump is quoting “manipulated media” (“manipulated media” being on par with “coordinated inauthentic activity” for utterly normal behavior in the political class, except when it isn’t).

Trump (R)(5): “Trump’s presidency is in a tailspin. His reelection may survive it.” [CNN]. “Less than five months before Election Day, with the nation battling concurrent crises, every conventional political indicator is flashing red for Trump. But every conventional political indicator has always been flashing red for Trump — and he’s never been defeated…. Trump is a backlash politician; his initial election was a reaction to the cultural, racial and political change many Americans perceived in the Obama presidency. Recent Supreme Court defeats could give the evangelical section of his base motivation for one last, decisive battle to create a generational conservative majority in a Trump second term. If there is one president who can harness a culture war with demagoguery to save his own political skin, it would be the incumbent. Similarly, Trump’s refusal to model wearing a mask in a pandemic, his massive missteps on race and the demonstrable incompetence of his half-hearted effort to combat the worst public health crisis in a century are often not perceived by his supporters to be the disasters that his critics in Washington and in the media — who are operating from fact-based analysis [(!!!!!!!)]– perceive them to be.” • Meanwhile, the only oracle I trust, Allan Lichtman of “Keys to the White House” fame, has not weighed in.

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“Wall Street giants including the CEOs of Goldman and Blackstone are pouring money into the campaign to defeat AOC in a June primary” [Business Insider]. “Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder of Blackstone has donated $2,800 to Cabro-Cabrera’s campaign. A further five Blackstone employees have donated the same amount to her campaign as well. David Solomon, chief executive of Goldman Sachs also backed Caruso-Cabrera to the tune of $2,800, along with three other Goldman employees. Paul Tudor Jones, the billionaire founder of the Tudor Investment Corporation also gave $2,800 to Caruso-Cabrera’s campaign. A number of other donors to Caruso Cabrera’s campaign include staff at Wall Street firms including Evercore, Elliott Management, and Apollo Global Management. Caruso-Cabrera has raised just over $2 million so far, while Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign has received more than $10.5 million, FEC data shows…. The median size of Ocasio Cortez’ donations is around $10, according to a Financial Times analysis of FEC filings and the online fundraising platform ActBlue.”

“Amy McGrath Trails In Kentucky Senate Primary Poll Despite Raising $41 Million” [Forbes]. • That’s a damn shame (although Data For Progress is the progressive Rasmussen).

“Andrew Romanoff is closing the gap after John Hickenlooper’s stumbles, poll indicates” [Colorado Sun]. “The major shift in numbers is more reflective of Hickenlooper’s mistakes in recent weeks. He refused to comply with a subpoena to testify on six allegations made by Republicans that he accepted illegal gifts as governor and became the first public official ever held in contempt by the state’s independent ethics commission. The panel later found him in violation for accepting a ride on a corporate jet owned by a major political donor and taking a luxury limousine at a ritzy conference in Italy. At the same time, Hickenlooper found himself on the defensive for an insensitive comment regarding Black Lives Matter and other missteps on the issue of race. Gardner and a national Republican committee backing his reelection pounced and began running big-money TV ads blasting Hickenlooper.” • Wasn’t Hickenlooper running for President, there, for awhile?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Taiwan funding of think tanks: Omnipresent and rarely disclosed” [Responsible Statecraft]. “Pushing back on bellicose statements from both parties requires credible policy advice from experts, many of whom are based at Washington research institutes. But five of the capital’s most prominent think tanks have been producing policy papers urging closer U.S. ties with Taiwan — a territory locked in an uncertain legal status that threatens to be a flashpoint between Beijing and Washington. These seemingly impartial research institutions are pushing for expanded arms sales and trade agreements with Taiwan without widely disclosing their high-level funding from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), Taiwan’s equivalent to an embassy. The five think tanks — the Brookings Institution, the Center for American Progress*, the Center for a New American Security, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Hudson Institute — all disclose their funding from TECRO but bury it deep on their websites or annual reports.” • Who knew, it’s bipartisan!

“The Philosopher’s Epidemic” [New Left Review]. “‘There will be no recovery. There will be social unrest. There will be violence. There will be socio-economic consequences: dramatic unemployment. Citizens will suffer dramatically: some will die, others will feel awful.’ This is no eschatologist speaking but Jacob Wallenberg, scion of one of global capitalism’s most powerful dynasties, envisaging a world-economic contraction of 30 per cent and sky-high unemployment as a result of the coronavirus lockdowns. While philosophers worry that our rulers are exploiting the epidemic to enforce biopolitical discipline, the ruling class itself seems to have the opposite concern: ‘I am dead scared of the consequences to society . . . We have to weigh the risks of the medicine affecting the patient drastically’. Here the Swedish tycoon echoes Trump’s prognosis that the therapy will kill the patient. While the philosophers view anti-contagion measures—curfews, closed borders, restrictions on public gatherings—as a sinister control mechanism, the rulers fear the lockdowns will loosen their control.” • And now we transition to Foucault! Interesting read.

* * *

“Mail-in voting gets a $59 million boost from progressive donors” [NBC]. “A network of deep-pocketed progressive donors is launching a $59 million effort to encourage people of color to vote by mail in November, a step many Democrats view as crucial to turning out the party’s base during the coronavirus pandemic.” • Gawd forbid that getting every voter to the polls should be a core party function. No no, GOTV is always stovepiped, always temporary, always bankrolled by big donors, and always has complex eligibility requirements (here, race). It’s disgusting.

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.

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 13 June 2020 – Slight Improvement But Remains Deep In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “Week 24 of 2020 shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) contracted according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data. Total rail traffic has been mostly in contraction for over one year – and now is taking a hit from coronavirus….. Intermodal and carloads are under Great Recession values. Container exports from China are now recovering, container exports from the U.S. declined and remains deep in contraction.”

Fodder for the Bulls: “12 June 2020 ECRI’s WLI Improves Again But Continues In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “ECRI’s WLI Growth Index which forecasts economic growth six months forward improved, remains deep in contraction, and remains at a level at the values seen during the Great Recession…. Please note that the coronavirus is a black swan event and the decline is more immediate and not lagging off six months as one would expect. We are in a recession.”

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Shipping: “Trucker YRC Worldwide Inc. is back in familiar territory. The less-than-truckload operator is looking to defer millions of dollars in payments to providers of medical and other benefits….as the company tries to navigate through a coronavirus-driven freight downturn that has added new strains to its balance sheet” [Wall Street Journal]. “The fresh problems at YRC show how the economic upheaval during the pandemic has left companies without much financial flexibility struggling to adjust to the changed economic landscape. YRC is one of the few remaining big unionized trucking companies, and it has struggled with high pension and benefits costs. It has also won repeated concessions to shore up finances, and it’s looking for more help now. Big shipping customers say they are standing by the business.” • “Financial flexibility….

Shipping: “The U.S. is blacklisting more than dozen individuals, their businesses and two tankers alleged to have been involved in up to 40% of Venezuela’s crude-oil exports in recent weeks….[A] much longer list had been planned but that emergency actions by the private sector to stop Venezuela transactions prompted the administration to prune the list” [Wall Street Journal]. “Crude markets had faced potential sanctions on up to 50 tankers that would have sliced into global oil transport capacity. U.S. Treasury also took off the list two oil tankers recently sanctioned by the U.S. off its blacklist because the companies cut their ties to Venezuela. That’s central to the American efforts to isolate Venezuela as it seeks to convince companies their business will be effectively sidelined around the world if they violate the restrictions.”

Manufacturing: “Covid Creates a Boom for Röhm’s Protective Plexiglas Panels” [Bloomberg]. “Then in March [Michael Pack of Röhm GmbH, the German acrylic glass manufacturer] noticed a sudden uptick in a part of the business that had long been steady at best: acrylic sheets sold under the Plexiglas brand. Orders were pouring in from retailers, offices, hospitals, and public transport companies, which were eager to get their hands on protective shields to separate employees from a coughing and sneezing public spreading the coronavirus. Like face masks and disinfectant, Plexiglas became omnipresent almost overnight, a translucent guard between cashiers, bus drivers, and receptionists on one side and customers on the other.” • Exactly as “go long latex” worked during the AIDS crisis…

The Law: “New Case Holds That COVID-19 Closure Order “Unambiguously” Triggers Force Majeure Clause” [National Law Review]. “A force majeure provision excuses a party’s breach of contract when certain, extraordinary events or superior forces specified in the party’s contract cause the party’s breach. Such events may include war, strife, labor strikes, acts of terrorism, natural disasters and disease. Most notably for our purposes, these clauses will also typically include some reference to unforeseen governmental action or regulation…. Just last week, in a case of first impression, a federal court in the Seventh Circuit—which covers Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana—issued a decision that could help various businesses impacted by the pandemic and the governmental response to it. The case at issue—In re Hitz Restaurant Group—concerned a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the Northern District of Illinois and a creditor’s attempt to hold the debtor to its obligation to pay rent…. added.) The restaurant group argued that the clause was triggered on the date Illinois’ governor issued an executive order addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and closing restaurants for on-premises consumption. Federal bankruptcy judge Donald R. Cassling issued the opinion of the court and, in conclusive language, held that the force majeure clause was ‘unambiguously triggered’ by the governor’s closure order. The Court found that the order ‘unquestionably constitutes both ‘governmental action’ and issuance of an ‘order’ as contemplated by the language of the force majeure clause.” • I would imagine the creditors are “unambiguously triggered” as well….

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 54 Neutral (previous close: 51 Neutral;) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 19 at 12:40pm.

The Biosphere

“Rising Seas Threaten an American Institution: The 30-Year Mortgage” [New York Times]. “Home buyers are increasingly using mortgages that make it easier for them to stop making their monthly payments and walk away from the loan if the home floods or becomes unsellable or unlivable. More banks are getting buyers in coastal areas to make bigger down payments — often as much as 40 percent of the purchase price, up from the traditional 20 percent — a sign that lenders have awakened to climate dangers and want to put less of their own money at risk. And in one of the clearest signs that banks are worried about global warming, they are increasingly getting these mortgages off their own books by selling them to government-backed buyers like Fannie Mae, where taxpayers would be on the hook financially if any of the loans fail…. now, as the world warms, that long-term nature of conventional mortgages might not be as desirable as it once was, as rising seas and worsening storms threaten to make some land uninhabitable. A retreat from the 30-year mortgage could also put homeownership out of reach for more Americans.”

Health Care

“Community Use Of Face Masks And COVID-19: Evidence From A Natural Experiment Of State Mandates In The US” [Health Affairs]. From the abstract: “State policies mandating public or community use of face masks or covers in mitigating novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread are hotly contested. This study provides evidence from a natural experiment on effects of state government mandates in the US for face mask use in public issued by 15 states plus DC between April 8 and May 15. The research design is an event study examining changes in the daily county-level COVID-19 growth rates between March 31, 2020 and May 22, 2020. Mandating face mask use in public is associated with a decline in the daily COVID-19 growth rate by 0.9, 1.1, 1.4, 1.7, and 2.0 percentage-points in 1–5, 6–10, 11–15, 16–20, and 21+ days after signing, respectively. Estimates suggest as many as 230,000–450,000 COVID-19 cases possibly averted by May 22, 2020 by these mandates. The findings suggest that requiring face mask use in public might help in mitigating COVID-19 spread.” • We published one natural experiment from Germany in Links; this is a second one.

“Age-dependent effects in the transmission and control of COVID-19 epidemics” [Nature]. “We estimate that susceptibility to infection in individuals under 20 years of age is approximately half that of adults aged over 20 years, and that clinical symptoms manifest in 21% (95% credible interval: 12–31%) of infections in 10- to 19-year-olds, rising to 69% (57–82%) of infections in people aged over 70 years. Accordingly, we find that interventions aimed at children might have a relatively small impact on reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission, particularly if the transmissibility of subclinical infections is low.”

“Associations Between Built Environment, Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status, and SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Pregnant Women in New York City” [JAMA]. “The likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 varied substantially across measures of built environment and neighborhood socioeconomic status…. The lowest probability of infection was estimated for women living in buildings with very high assessed values… and the highest was for those residing in neighborhoods with high household membership.” • Well, I never.

Police State Watch

“Revolutionary ideals of the Paris Commune live on in Black Lives Matter autonomous zone in Seattle” [Monthly Review Online]. From the article:

A new autonomous zone set up in Seattle by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement bears some striking similarities with the Paris Commune of 1871. Despite its brutal ending, the seminal event in the French capital 150 years ago set the agenda for progressive urban politics and broader social justice movements ever since. But while what is happening in Seattle shares some of the political visions of the commune, it faces an altogether different and more sophisticated threat–of being co-opted by creative capitalists.

The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle–or Chaz as it has come to be known–was set up on June 8 in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle. It came about as a result of BLM protesters moving in after the Seattle police abandoned the precinct due to clashes with protesters.

Since then, the protesters have barricaded the perimeter and set up a “no cop co-op” offering free water, hand sanitiser, face masks, food and other supplies. There are teach-ins, street art installations and other activities often associated with anarchist urban protest camps.

The other day, when somebody mentioned a garden being set up in the autonomous zone, I asked:

Can I get an update on that garden? The images I saw made it look like CHAZ/CHOP gardening types were trying to do sheet mulch without knowing how. And they were walking on the soil too, which is bad bad bad. Soil should be fluffy not compressed.

An answer came over the transom:


I talked to my son N [Not His Real Name] tonight and asked him about the community gardens. He was down there a few days ago and he said it is basically a mess. The gardens are located on a baseball field in Cal Anderson Park, but it appears that there are several gardens, all controlled by different people – he didn’t see anyone that was really in control of the various gardens. The only real plants he saw growing were in large flower pots. Mostly it appears that volunteers are just dumping soil and compost on the turf – they aren’t digging it up – and trying to garden that way…..

But, in any event, he doesn’t see this lasting much longer. Apparently at least three different groups are vying for control of CHOP, formerly CHAZ, and to use my son’s words, they are now tussling instead of cooperating and most of the people he knows that were volunteering down there are now dropping out because of this. The residents who live in that area are becoming increasingly hostile because the roads are such a mess that they are complaining that they can’t get out to get food or get food deliveries in. He doesn’t think it will be long before the police come in with the water hoses to clear everyone out.

There’s a good deal of material on the Intertubes about how to convert a turfed area into a garden, so I’m not sure what’s going on here. We’ll see if N called his shot! On the Commune, Marx and Engels commented, “On the 20th Anniversary of the Paris Commune“:

The hardest thing to understand is certainly the holy awe with which [the Communards, who had seized control of Paris] remained standing respectfully outside the gates of the Bank of France. This was also a serious political mistake. The bank in the hands of the Commune – this would have been worth more than 10,000 hostages.

It would be unfair to put the failure to create a proper garden on par with the failure to capture the bank of France. Nevertheless. And granted, the article was reprinted from The Conversation and not a Monthly Review original, but come on, man. Can we have a little less romance and a little more rigor?

The continuing question of what cops actually do. A thread:

Law enforcement for profit was one of the triggers in Ferguson, let us remember (itself triggered by municipal debt and the Crash). Another question to ask the Mayors of Blue Cities…

You’ll miss me when I’m gone:


“How to Mark Juneteenth in the Year 2020” [The Intercept (MCC)]. “The Civil War, and therefore emancipation, was won for the Union in large part thanks to a mass ‘general strike’ of enslaved Black Americans, as revealed by Du Bois in his seminal 1935 work ‘Black Reconstruction,’ which historian Eric Foner has described as ‘a landmark of historical scholarship and essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the era of Civil War and Reconstruction.’ The book, which to this day has never been reviewed in the American Historical Review, the central organ of American historians, ran roughshod over the then-dominant white supremacist school of historiography, known as the Dunning school. The Dunning school saw the democratic explosion wrought by Reconstruction as a great historical crime and the participation of Black Americans in the war and Reconstruction as a sideshow at best. In taking apart the Dunning school, Du Bois posited that every army depends on its logistics. Soldiers do need food and medical supplies. World War II Admiral Lynde McCormick said that ‘logistics is all of war making, except shooting the guns, releasing the bombs, and firing the torpedoes.’ Using the same logic, Du Bois noted that ‘The Southern worker, black and white, held the key to the war; and of the two groups, the black worker raising food and raw materials held an even more strategic place than the white.'” And: “Labor journalist Mike Elk has been tracking strike actions since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the murder of George Floyd, there has been a verifiable surge of strike activity. There may be no better way to mark Juneteenth in the year 2020.”

“Juneteenth And National New Beginnings” [Essence]. “Federal agents were as much concerned about maintaining social order among blacks and restoring the plantation economy as they were in finalizing the war. Granger was either unaware or unmoved by black ingenuity and valor, on and off the battlefields, that had disproven dreaded fears of dependency. Instead, he urged Black Texans to sit tight and to not prioritize pulling their families back together that had been broken apart. And, above all, get back to work under the same management.” • Well worth a read.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“When the City of Man Is Redlined” [Comment]. “The biggest question regards two strategies for alleviating the poverty that is a direct result of historic segregation, generally referred to as “place-based community development” and Moving to Opportunity. (The latter is the name of a formal federal program and shorthand for a strategy, which is why it is usually capitalized.). Place-based community development looks at a neighbourhood in West Baltimore like Sandtown, with its murder rates usually among the top five in the city, its life expectancy a full twenty years lower than high-income neighbourhoods a mile away, its incarceration rate higher than anywhere else in the state, and asks: How can we help transform this community for the better? Moving to Opportunity looks at the same neighbourhood and asks: How can we help people—especially families with young children, who might be able to do much better elsewhere—get out of such a bad neighbourhood?”

“Swimming with Seals: How Zoology and Racism Converged to Make Elephants of Men” [The BItter Southerner]. “Back in 1963, when the order to desegregate came to Greenville, some white folks’ sudden love for the good ol’ days — and anything black but human beings — suddenly revealed itself when the pool at Cleveland Park was made into a Southern “sea world” rather than allow Black people to taint the pristine white only waters of the public facility. Rather than integrate on federal orders set in motion by King and the Civil Rights Movement, which was at a fever pitch, the city decided that sea lions deserved a new place to swim. So the pool that was destined to be miscegenated was seal-ed. The white folks still had plenty of segregation-now-segregation-forever hideaway swimming holes they could retreat to. I have nothing against sea lions or seals. They’re beautifully adapted creatures built for aquatic lives, but the decision to stock wild animals in a public facility, instead of following the law and integrating it, speaks beyond the volumes of vicissitude that define racism’s insidious innovation. The move, no doubt approved of on multiple levels of municipal hierarchy, left no question in the thriving Upstate mini-metropolis-to-be that “Negroes” were dirty and worth less than wild animals.”

UPDATE “The Backstory: The little known story about a former slave who sued her captor and won” [USA Today]. “Henrietta Wood was a former slave living in Cincinnati when the woman she worked for suggested a carriage ride across the river to Covington, Kentucky.” • No! Don’t go across the river! More: “Here, she was abducted and forced into slavery – again…. Wood was ultimately sold to slaveholder Gerard Brandon and taken to Natchez, Mississippi, to work in his cotton fields….. As federal troops advanced toward Mississippi, Brandon forced 300 of his slaves – including Wood and her young son, Arthur – to march 400 miles to Robertson County, Texas, where he set up new operations near the Brazos River. ‘The reason why people like Brandon went to Texas was because they knew that if they could get to interior Texas where U.S. troops had not yet reached, they could hold out as long as they could,” says historian W. Caleb McDaniel, who teaches at Rice University. ‘So I think Texas became a place where die-hard slavers went to try to wait out the war and see if slavery could survive.’ It would be two more years, on June 19, 1865, before troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, and forced slaveholders to free their slaves. This is now known as Juneteenth.” • Read the rest of the article, which features — besides the stalwart Woods — Lafcadio Hearn (!).

“The 2% Solution: Inside Billionaire Robert Smith’s Bold Plan To Funnel Billions To America’s Black-Owned Businesses” [Forbes]. “Robert F. Smith, the private equity billionaire who is the nation’s richest Black person, said on Thursday that large corporations should use 2% of their annual net income for the next decade to empower minority communities. Smith made the comments after circulating a plan among CEOs that first calls on big banks to capitalize the financial institutions that service Black-owned businesses and minority-run entrepreneurial ventures. In a keynote address he gave at the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, Smith, 57, said Black and minority communities have been abandoned by large banks and are starved of the capital needed to build businesses and local institutions. Smith argued that pumping in what he described as ‘reparative’ capital and investing directly in financial architecture would be a fast way to advance economic justice for Black Americans. ‘Nowhere is structural racism more apparent than in corporate America,’ Smith said. “If you think about structural racism and access to capital, 70% of African American communities don’t even have a branch, bank of any type.” • 

Class Warfare

“Virginia: More Than 12K Have Refused to Return to Work” [Associated Press]. “Unemployment benefits in Virginia will be suspended in more than 12,000 cases involving claimants refusing to return to work as coronavirus-related restrictions loosen and businesses reopen, the Virginia Employment Commission announced Thursday. ‘While certain circumstances, such as health, childcare or other caregiver responsibilities, may warrant continued payments of unemployment benefits to a claimant who has refused to return to work, the payments will be paused pending the outcome of an administrative review,’ the commission said in a news release. The news release noted that approximately 400,000 job vacancies are currently posted on a state workforce website.” • Who needs a whip when you’ve got “the economy”?

“Latinos make up nearly 70% of coronavirus cases in San Diego County — more than three times as many as white residents” [CBS]. “Despite making up the 34% local population, about 67.4% or 5,517 of Hispanic or Latino residents had the virus. That rate is much higher than white residents, who registered about 20.9% or 299 of the total; they make up about 46% of San Diego’s population.”

“How a Raise for Workers Can Be a Win for Everybody” [New York Times]. ‘The new research shows that raising the minimum wage improves workers’ productivity, which translates into businesses offering higher-quality service. Because many customers are willing to pay more when quality improves, a company can raise its prices without losing sales volume. That means that profits need not suffer even though employee salaries increase. Moreover, because companies are getting better performance from workers in return for paying them more, a higher minimum wage does not necessarily lead to fewer jobs. With a more productive work force, more economic value is being created and there is more money to go around, so a higher paycheck for one person does not imply another person’s loss. The federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour has not increased since 2009, though Democrats in the House of Representatives have tried to raise it.”

News of the Wired

“Sir Ian Holm: Lord of the Rings and Alien star dies aged 88” [BBC]. “Stage and film actor Sir Ian Holm, who played Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings films, has died aged 88. Sir Ian, Oscar-nominated as Olympic running coach Sam Mussabini in Chariots of Fire, also played the android Ash in 1979’s Alien.’ • Holy [family blog]! Holm played Ash? I saw Holm play Lear, years ago in London, went I went to thirteen plays in ten days (well before the Leicester Square Ticket Booth has degenerated into the Disneyfied banality it had become the last time I was there). Holm’s portrayal of Lear as a child in the final act was heartbreaking. And the smashed “eyeball” (“Out, vile jelly!”) being smeared across the stage was pretty memorable, too. Take that, George R.R. Martin (and where the heck are those books?)

“The Brain Interprets Smell like the Notes of a Song” [Scientific American]. “[Dmitry Rinberg, a neuroscientist at N.Y.U.Langone] likens smell perception to the melody of a song: The notes—in this case, representing activated glomeruli—are important. But without the right timing, the song, or the perceptual experience, falls apart. Changing the seventh note of a melody might be unnoticeable. Swapping the first two might result in a new tune altogether. When we smell, it is not only about which glomeruli are activated but also what time sequence they follow.” • And in fact perfumiers speak of “notes”…

* * *

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 (pq):

pq writes: “Report from pq’s garden: Took leaf mulch off plants a few weeks ago, but with snow in forecast yesterday, spent several hours putting it back on. Got caught in a hailstorm today while out checking damage. Bleeding hearts limp and struggling, so packed more leaves around them in anticipation of freeze tonight and possibly more snow on Sunday (May 10).” Bleeding hearts, my favorite flower!

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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. randomworker

    some Atlanta police officers should be filing for unemployment soon. But that wont happen.

  2. Samuel Conner

    > But nobody had ever heard of it.’”

    I take this to mean that DJT had never heard of it. Speculation: the scheduling decision was not DJT’s but a staffer’s (perhaps intending to stoke controversy) and when the controversy erupted and DJT wondered what it was about, it was the first time he had heard the term.

    On this interpretation, DJT isn’t just a narcissist — he’s practically a solipsist; “If I haven’t heard of it, nobody has”

    1. fresno dan

      Samuel Conner
      June 19, 2020 at 2:21 pm

      I am loathe to do it, but I would actually say Trump may have a point in this instance. And I agree about Trump – all those things that he finds out that any aware person should know drive me nuts.

      But I can imagine that a great many people in the US don’t or didn’t know of Juneteenth. I don’t remember exactly when I learned about Juneteenth, but I am positive it was after I began reading NC which was during the great recession. I would have been about 45 than, and I read a great deal of stuff (but mainstream). But as I noted years ago, reading NC (as well as the fact that the great recession proved that capitalism didn’t work as advertised) opened my eyes to a great diversity of opinion, as well as any number of FACTS that are simply never acknowledged in what I was taught or what is commonly accepted and referred to. I knew about the civil war race riots, but I had never known about the Tulsa OK race riot. Its not all the lies, its all the truths that are never spoken about…

      BOTH parties have a lot of incentive to airbrush all sorts of things aside and are far more aligned on most things than their advertising or adherents admit….

      1. Pat

        I missed it even then. Not a Civil War buff, and even though I am of the opinion that my grade school civics and history education was better than today’s, I do know that a comprehensive overview of The Emancipation Proclamation and circumstances around it was not part of the curriculum.

        Past time as it is, but does anyone here really think that there would be an ABC special on Juneteenth tonight if Trump’s campaign hadn’t scheduled an event on June 19th in a city with the history of one of the greatest racist atrocities in America? Or that NYC would make it an official school holiday? (I wish I thought the marches would have done it but ‘Orange Man bad’ still spurs more token acknowledgments.)

        Maybe the devastation of Covid-19 on Native Americans can get the Trail of Tears and the Sand Creek massacre covered….

        I await the day when we have specials on the Trail of Tears and the Sand Creek massacre.

      2. curlydan

        As someone who grew up in Texas, I am filled with a strange kind of wonder and surprise to see so many people celebrating Juneteenth. I think most people in Texas _kind of_ new about Juneteenth, and there would be yearly celebrations in the local black communities that I can remember from at least the 80s and 90s (and no doubt earlier before I knew about it). But to see a small, Texas-based celebration go national is certainly an interesting and nice surprise.

    2. Fiery Hunt

      With all apologies, Trump is right: most Americans (generally not known as history buffs) had little or no idea what Juneteenth is or was.

      Even the article (CNN= sloppy, sloppy “reporting”) gets it wrong.

      is seeking to take credit for making Juneteenth — a day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States

      Slavery didn’t end with June 19th, 1865. Hell, slavery was outlawed in Texas 3 years earlier with the Emancipation Proclamation. Nor did that Proclamation in 1862 end legal slavery in Northern States.

      Slavery ended legally in the United States with the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 6th, 1865.

      So what did happened on June 19th, 1865?

      Military enforcement of a 3 year old law.

      Law enforcement happened and it was a damn good thing.

      1. Wyatt Powell

        Not completely true, the 13th Amendment did not end slavery in America, it actually gave it legal standing as federal law, now enshrined in the constitution. It exists in every state today, probably in the very county you live in.

        “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

        1. Fiery Hunt

          Finally…. there it is!
          Every goddamn IPhone is the product of modern, nee NOW slavery. Not to mention every prison labor output…

          Enough with the proformative BS around a fake, ignorant “holiday” and let’s truly deal with continuing oppression of the underclass.

    3. LawnDart

      I wonder if Trump is going to beat Rev. Jim Jones’ record?

      Do public health officials have a “duty to intervene?”

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > > But nobody had ever heard of it.’”

      I mean to add: “Well, nobody who is anybody.” Still, I would not be surprised to know that many of the extremely wealthy are also just as ignorant. In other words, let’s not psychologize.

      1. Samuel Conner

        > Well, nobody who is anybody.

        That was my reading, too. Nobody who matters, which implies that the people who are and have for 155 years been keenly aware of the day are not among those who matter.

    5. DJG

      ‘I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous,’ Trump said in reference to the rally date in an interview published Thursday. ‘It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it.’”

      Whenever I see quotes like this, I always remind my friends that Trump is not uniquely evil, much as the Resistance (TM) would like it to seem. Anyone who has worked in a complex U.S. organization–more than twelve employees, let’s say–recognizes Trump as Bob, That Assclown from Marketing. We have all had to sit through meetings where the clueless Sally, That Assclown from Public Relations, has also said similar things.

      I estimate the number of Trumpses infesting U.S. organizations as somewhere between 2 and 5 million.

      Hey, I’m just reaching out to y’all to tell you about a new product that I am all excited about…

      1. Darthbobber

        Back in the day they would have give Calley and Medina props for putting My Laion the map

    6. Bugs Bunny

      Juneteenth is a big holiday in the Milwaukee black community. This light complexioned rabbit worked in a restaurant there when he had decided that college was for bourgeois losers. The all black kitchen staff turned me on to Juneteenth. They looked shocked that I didn’t know what it was. Big parade and backyard BBQs. This was the very early 80s before hope was taken away.

  3. allan

    Re: Age-dependent effects in the transmission

    “Accordingly, we find that interventions aimed at children might have a relatively small impact on reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission, particularly if the transmissibility of subclinical infections is low.”

    This reads like the public health equivalent of Assume rational economic agents with perfect information.

  4. Wukchumni

    They couldn’t pick a better time to start strife,
    It ain’t too early and it ain’t too late.
    Starrin’ a President with his wife
    Soon be lyin’ in a brand-new state!
    Brand-new state of affairs
    Gonna treat you Great!
    Gonna give you hope,
    Platitudes & patriotism
    Pasture fer the cattle, er humans
    Spin from a mad hater
    Flowers on the grave where the June bug zooms
    Plen’y of air and plen’y of room
    Plen’y of room to swing a rope,
    Plen’y of heartlessness and plen’y of mopes

    Where the Coronavirus comes sweepin’ down the plain
    (And in a waving seat
    Can sure smell sweet
    When the plague comes right behind the refrain)

    Every night my honey lamb and I
    Sit alone and talk
    And watch a fracking rig
    Makin’ lazy flaring circles in the sky.
    We know we belong to the land,
    And the political party we belong to is grand.
    And when we say;
    Ee-ee-ow! A-yip-i-o-ee-ay!
    We’re only sayin’,
    You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma!
    Oklahoma, O.K.!


    1. Carolinian

      Hey Opie (Ron Howard) was from Oklahoma. You got a problem with Opie?

      Must say though that as a traveler Oklahoma is my least favorite state. It takes forever to drive across, the wind is constantly threatening to blow you off the road and they aren’t much into rest areas. The whole affair seems to be under the thumb of tycoons given the limited public accommodations and high sales taxes.

      1. Wukchumni

        Oklahoma has never been blessed with my presence, so it will have to live via accounts from other travelers that couldn’t wait to be somewhere else.

        1. Daryl

          Parts of it are very pretty to drive through, but they charge you a fee for the privilege of doing it. Despite that, the roads are in pretty rough shape. Never did anything other than a stopover there.

      2. Dalepues

        I sang Merle Haggard’s “Okie From Muskogee” in a talent contest when I was nineteen. I won third place and a twelve pack of PBR. “A place where even squares can have a ball….” Closest I’ve been
        to Oklahoma.

        1. Darthbobber

          A wildly inaccurate song even when written. But worthy inspiration for Ray Wylie Hubbard’s immortal Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother.

          1. Dr. John Carpenter

            If you hear the story behind Oakie, you’ll learn it was intended as a parody. Then it took off with people taking it at face value. The podcast Cocaine & Rhinestones does an excellent episode about it.

        2. Pavel

          Don’t forget the heartbreaking “Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa”.

          Oh, I was only 24 hours from Tulsa
          Ah, only one day away from your arms
          The jukebox started to play
          And nighttime turned into day
          As we were dancing closely
          All of a sudden I lost control as I held her charms
          And I caressed her, kissed her
          Told her I’d die before I let her out of my arms

          The Dusty Springfield version is fab.

      3. Tomonthebeach

        I spent seven very looong years in OKC in the 90’s. I often heard Okies talk about Tulsa as if it were in a different state. “They’re a bunch of upiddy collich elites up there.” I took that to mean that they were achievement-oriented and tolerated liberals.

        I must concede that having lived in 19 different places since college, Oklahoma is the only place where “Have you been saved?” or “Have you accepted Jesus as your savior?” are pick-up lines I heard in bars.

        1. Chef

          Cities in general are more liberal but from having family there, Tulsa is home to a bunch of oil money and its typical results- trust fund babies, shop-all-day moms, etc. I’m assuming that’s what’s being referred to.

  5. BobW

    He is the center of the universe without a doubt – the proof is that everywhere he looks is somewhere else.

  6. John A

    Holm’s portrayal of Lear as a child in the final act was heartbreaking. And the smashed “eyeball” (“Out, vile jelly!”) being smeared across the stage was pretty memorable, too.

    Funny how directors try to out do each other in this part of Lear. I saw the late, great, but totally miscast Pete Postlethwaite (he had already announced he was terminally ill) as Lear, wearing a dress and unable to carry Cordelia, in which Cornwall sucks out Gloucester’s eye and then spits it out and the more recent Lear with Glenda Jackson where the wonderful Jane Horrocks, all leather and spike heels as Regan, throws the vile jelly into the audience with a really girly throw, which landed far from where she seemed to be aiming.

    1. Basil Pesto

      Nevermind Lear, though. Titus Andronicus is the play that really puts GoT to shame in the gratuitous violence stakes.

  7. JacobiteInTraining

    I wish I had the time to go by CHOP in Seattle and see how things are playing out for myself, but one thing I thought was interesting is (if this article and/or the various statements are to be believed) …the abandoning of the SPD East Precinct that precipitated – or at least gave the space for CHAZ/CHOP to emerge – just sorta…happened.


    Nobody is (admitting) to giving any specific orders to do so, and supposedly is an example of a rumor becoming fact through inertia and confusion. Someone on the Seattle reddit commented amusingly that the East Precinct ‘falling’ was sort of like how the Berlin Wall fell…

    My inner conspiracy theorist would not be surprised to find it was a very purposeful attempt by some subset of SPD officers who fully expected looting/burning of the Precinct to the ground to occur forthwith, providing them with a propaganda coup, only to have been trez bummed when that didn’t actually happen.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > My inner conspiracy theorist would not be surprised to find it was a very purposeful attempt by some subset of SPD officers who fully expected looting/burning of the Precinct to the ground to occur forthwith, providing them with a propaganda coup. Would have been trez bummed when that didn’t happen.

      I saw that theory, and it does make sense. The CHOP/CHAZ project was a much more creative solution. That said, is it in any way different from or superior to Occupy? If not, “What do we learn, Palmer?

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        Yeah, I don’t want to admit it to myself – but I do fear once the galvanizing factor of a police line/tear gassing is gone, it will go the way of Occupy. I try so hard not to let the cynicism seep into my conversations with the 26-year-old. She is so optimistic and purposeful about all of this….I support that optimism, and do not pollute it w/my own internal doubts.

        She and the 18-year-old are both now registered to vote, for first time ever. So theres that, and despite my cynical nature I remain convinced that at least in the Puget Sound area, a true tipping point has been reached wherein actual changes are occurring…will occur..and will be sustained.

        1. MK

          “actual changes are occurring”

          The question is . . . what are the actual changes and how will they last? Or, sound and fury, signifying nothing?

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I try so hard not to let the cynicism seep into my conversations with the 26-year-old. She is so optimistic and purposeful about all of this….I support that optimism, and do not pollute it w/my own internal doubts.

          Make sure they read plenty of history books.

          1. Sacred Ground

            Yeah, that’s what pretty much destroyed all my optimism and sense of purpose.

      2. occasional anonymous

        Occupy was slowly coalescing towards something meaningful. Or at least our elites feared it was, enough that they forcibly dismantled it.

        CHAZ is a combination of typically inept true believer anarchists, LARPers who won’t stick around for long, and pure trolls who correctly see an open playground for messing stuff up just for the lulz.

        This is what the garden looked like a bit more than a week ago: https://i.imgur.com/pTvewQW.jpg

        And this was part of it a couple days later: https://imgur.com/tlNl2hZ (it’s literally impossible to tell between an overzealous true believer and someone just trolling and mocking the true believers).

        I heard that at some point some guy showed up with a pick axe and just started demolishing part of the garden. I guess even after the Raz Simone gang incident no one picked up on the fact that a monopoly on violence is in fact a central and legitimate part of any functioning society and didn’t bother to organize guards.

        I doubt police will be needed to crush the CHAZ because it’s already well on its way to imploding all by itself. At most the cops will do a final mop up sweep after it’s disintegrated on its own.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Picture 1: That’s not how you do sheetmulch. Other gardeners will correct me, but I don’t think that’s how you do anything.

          Picture 2: “Plant allies.” I hope that’s irony, but I believe we are to say “accomplices” now, not alllies.

          Maybe I’ve finally crossed the line into old codger-dom, I dunno. One of the most interesting things about Occupy was that they tried out new institutional forms. Not all the ideas were good, but it was a serious effort. Of course, maybe the press has smartened up and isn’t reporting those aspects.

          A propos of nothing, I’m sure the graffiti is thrilling to do, but visually it gets old. I wonder if it would be possible to build any structures, something occupy never did.

      3. polecat

        It has much more in the way of ‘art??’ (Graffiti on Buildings) then in anything ‘Occupied’…

        I’m not much impressed .. and I don’t think many Seattleites are with the resultant ‘hip look’ either.
        Then there’s the rubbish to be factored in ..

    2. Massinissa

      “SPD officers who fully expected looting/burning of the Precinct to the ground to occur forthwith, providing them with a propaganda coup, only to have been trez bummed when that didn’t actually happen.”

      Instead they look even more incompetent than they did before. And Trump inadvertantly helped with that by focusing his Twitter megaphone onto it. “Ahhhhh nonviolent anarchists have taken over Seattle somehow ahhhhhh!! Go back in there and DOMINATE THEM!!”

    3. J.k

      Lenin on Marx and the Paris Commune…..

      “In September 1870, six months before the Commune, Marx gave a direct warning to the French workers: insurrection would be an act of desperate folly, he said in the well-known Address of the International…….”
      “And how did he behave when this hopeless cause, as he himself had called it in September, began to take practical shape in March 1871? Did he use it (as Plekhanov did the December events) to “take a dig” at his enemies, the Proudhonists and Blanquists who were leading the Commune? Did he begin to scold like a schoolmistress, and say: “I told you so, I warned you; this is what comes of your romanticism, your revolutionary ravings”? Did he preach to the Communards, as Plekhanov did to the December fighters, the sermon of the smug philistine: “You should not have taken up arms”?”

      “In September 1870 Marx had called the insurrection an act of desperate folly; but in April 1871, when he saw the mass movement of the people, he watched it with the keen attention of a participant in great events marking a step forward in the historic revolutionary movement.

      This is an attempt, he says, to smash the bureaucratic military machine, and not simply to transfer it to different hands. And he has words of the highest praise for the “heroic” Paris workers led by the Proudhonists and Blanquists. “What elasticity,” he writes, “what historical initiative, what a capacity for sacrifice in these Parisians! ”

      “And like a participant in the mass struggle, to which he reacted with all his characteristic ardour and passion, Marx, then living in exile in London, set to work to criticise the immediate steps of the “recklessly brave” Parisians who were “ready to storm heaven”.”
      From Preface to the Russian Translation of Karl Marx’s Letters to Dr. Kugelmann
      Published in 1907 in the pamphlet: Karl Marx. Letters to Dr. Kugelmann, edited and with a preface by N. Lenin.

  8. shinola

    James Harris’ twitter thread is very good – thanks! If any y’all skipped over it, you might want to go back & read it.

  9. Wukchumni

    “African American soldiers in 1899, 1903, and 1904 were some of the first park rangers in the world, not just in the United States,” says Shelton Johnson, a Yosemite park ranger who has committed himself to preserving and sharing the history of African American stewardship within the national parks through decades of work.

    Between 1891 and 1913, the U.S. Army was the designated administrator of both Yosemite National Park and Sequoia National Park, with two troops of up to 60 men assigned to each park. Buffalo Soldiers—African American soldiers supposedly given that name because of their association to the western frontier—of both the Ninth Cavalry and 24th Infantry were included in these numbers. Racism, discrimination, bigotry, and the threat of violence were a large part of the experience of African American soldiers within the U.S. Army at this time. But for the bulk of the Buffalo Soldiers, who were veterans of either the Philippine-American or Spanish-American wars, joining these companies was a ticket toward financial security and thus became a gateway to being a guardian of the western wilderness.
    “It makes sense why African Americans would join the army—because that was a path up and path out,” says Johnson. And no one took advantage of that path more than the ever industrious Charles Young. The third Black graduate of West Point University, Young became the military superintendent of Sequoia National Park in the summer of 1903.

    He is widely considered to have been the first ever African American superintendent of a national park. Under his leadership, he created an infrastructure of trails, paved roads, and bridges, some of which are still in use today. In researching the ranger, Johnson also discovered Young’s friendship with W.E.B. DuBois. The two met while teaching at Wilberforce University in Ohio.


  10. ewmayer

    Just spotted on Yahoo Finance, the neoliberal headline of the day:

    “Tesla informs employees on Juneteenth that they can take off holiday unpaid”

    A real hero of wokeness, is our hectobillionaire Elon Musk. I wonder how much it would cost him to give all workers the holiday off, paid? Let’s see, just under 50k full-timers, figure average $200 each for a full day’s work, that comes to $10 million. Which amounts to just over 1% of Musk’s recent $700 million bonus reward for pumping the Tesla share-price Ponzi to unbelievable heights, and roughly 1/40,000th of his net worth. It would be equivalent to someone who owns a tiny business, with net worth $1 million, giving their sole employee the day off and $20 to help them enjoy it.

  11. Louis Fyne

    (imo) for family blog’s sake, never listen to a TV host for political advice. yes, empathy is important. but job #1 is literally jobs.

    it’s the economy, stupid and only competent leadership can achieve that. And Bide isn’t exactly radiating w/confident energy

  12. stefan

    The best thing working people could do to help our society at this time is draw up a cogent set of demands and call for a General Strike. These demands might include: living wages for all work; universal health care provided by a Public Health Service; defined limitations on executive compensation; a progressive tax scheme to advance reallocation of wealth; and so forth…

    O blacksmith, as you forge new tools, strike while the iron is hot!

  13. Stormcrow

    Beyond the Racialist Narrative

    I think the first of the articles posted below was mentioned here a couple of days ago, but I haven’t seen the second. Armstrong and Seidman: “Police foundations across the country are partnering with corporate interests to raise money to supplement police budgets by funding programs and purchasing tech and weaponry for law enforcement with little public oversight.” wsws: “Capitalism requires a permanent underclass to exploit for cheap labor and it requires the cops to bring that underclass to heel. The victims of police violence are the poor and oppressed of all races.” The police function not only as an instrument of racial oppression, but also and mainly as an instrument of class rule. Race cannot be understood apart from Class.

    Police violence and class rule

    Corporate Backers of the Blue:

    1. Alfred

      Thank you for emphasizing these points. In traffic today here in Georgia, I found myself behind a late model Ford Raptor pickup truck (likely the F-150, in the platinum finish) pickup truck, with lift kit (of course), bearing a Georgia “Back the Badge” license plate. “Raptor”; get it? It’s a bird of prey; an eagle, for example. The ensemble struck me immediately as speaking volumes about today’s America, albeit in metaphor; though now I reflect that it also says a lot about the class of people who not only “back the badge” but want to be seen backing it. For the vehicle, whose marketing tag line is “Not Just Leaner. Meaner,” https://www.ford.com/trucks/f150/models/f150-platinum/ For its name, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_of_prey (whence, “The term raptor is derived from the Latin word rapio, meaning to seize or take by force.”) For its tag line, perhaps compare https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lean_manufacturing For the plate (available since 2017, which — coincidentally, I suppose — was the year of Trump’s inauguration), https://mvd.dor.ga.gov/motor/plates/PlateDetails.aspx?pcode=BB For further insights, https://jalopnik.com/the-chinese-ford-raptor-website-is-profound-and-crazy-a-1791988776

      1. LawnDart

        You may have been led astray: did you ever see Clint Eastwood’s “The Mule”?

        While in the military, I and most of my colleagues went out of our way to avoid the pro-military nutters. In L.E., it’s pretty-much the same way too; just as people don’t open the door for Jehovah’s Witnesses, cops will go out of their way to avoid intrusion into their affairs even if it is effusive praise.

        I’ll bet that your driver in the Raptor either has a really good stash of coke in his truck, or he’s a nutter with a tiny p.p. Me, I have no problems wrapping myself in a flag and attesting that, “Yes, I have been saved!” if the situation calls for it, if I have a reason to stay in the shadows.

  14. zagonostra

    >What Joe Biden’s Event Was Like?

    It’s like a Potemkin village. Compare it with what you see at the Trump Tulsa rally.

    People are genuinely fervent in their support for Trump (misguided though it be) whereas with Biden, it’s all smoke and mirror by the DNC apparatchik, their allies in the security state, and their minions in the the media.

  15. Mikel

    Re: Ad ” I’m seen a few versions of this, but this one seems recorded from the screen. How does the Biden campaign let this loose in the world? This keeps happening.”

    I wouldn’t doubt that was the second or third day of 200 takes and that was as good as it was going to get

      1. marym

        Obama’s followers compared his drone wars and even Libya favorably to Bush because at least he didn’t start a big ground war. There are no lesser evils here, imo.

        1. Fiery Hunt

          I’ve been reading your comments for years, usually with linky goodness to make your points….really appreciate you being able to see “both sides” and call ’em all out.

          Totally agree there’s no lesser evil justifications. Vile… all of ’em.


        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Obama’s followers compared his drone wars and even Libya favorably to Bush because at least he didn’t start a big ground war. There are no lesser evils here, imo.

          I think Obama’s supporters were right (although that doesn’t make Obama “not evil”).

          I think that in war there are most certainly lesser evils. For example, I think Clinton almost certainly would have started a war with Russia; that’s what her no-fly zone in Russia would have done. And she had form: Libya. Are you seriously arguing that a nuclear war is just as evil as a series of drone strikes in Syria?

          1. marym

            No, I’m arguing that arguing that Bush not nuking Iraq was less evil than Truman wouldn’t get us to anything useful. Yes, Obama’s supporters were right if the purpose is counting bodies. I don’t think any other good purpose was served by that response.

          1. ewmayer

            So what you’re saying is that Trump is also worthy of consideration for a Nobel Peace Prize? :)

            1. Phillip Allen

              On the face of it, it should be a slam dunk. Trump could masterfully troll Martin Luther King in his acceptance speech, too. And/or troll Nixon, if the award becomes the occasion where Trump shreds the Nixon-in-China legacy. #ItCouldHappen #ThePerversityOfTheUniverseTendsToAMaximum

      2. dcrane

        Agreed that Trump deserves credit for not having begun any brand new wars. But we also need to factor in his expansion of damaging economic sanctions/warfare against Iran, Venezuela, and now Syria. These also destroy people’s lives.

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      And…. then there are the many here in the U.S. whose pink-foamed, no longer breathing lungs can be reasonably laid at Trump’s feet, to balance his side of the scale.

      We could precisely quantify Trump’s impact on the pandemic if we measured it in the units of the dead. He largely owns it. He is POTUS, like it or not. He empowered that braggart Bolton to begin with, let his people lie to us about masks, sneered at the danger of COVID-19 in the beginning of the year, and currently still struts around without any hint of regard for its lethal impact.

      I haven’t heard anything today about Trump’s beautiful, amazing Tulsa rally; is he still slated to star in a super-spreader event tomorrow?

      1. Pat

        I live in NY with the supposedly smart Democratic leader. My point being that Trump isn’t the onlyone who owns it, even if his administration can take a majority share. Our system was and is broken and frankly no one’s response was.stellar.

        (No one federally may have paid attention to Wuhan if it hadn’t happened, but I think we can definitely say that the Impeachment for fundraising was distracting as well. So let’s lay some of those non-functional lungs at Nancy & Company’s feet as well.)

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I live in NY with the supposedly smart Democratic leader.

          The COVID curves I keep posting tell me that New York’s reponse was uniquely bad.

          COVID is a condo tower, and lots of people own pieces of it. I think what Trump owns is not straightening out the supply chain.* But every single system that failed was sclerotic before Trump took office including the CDC. So Trump has a condo, Cuomo has a condo, the political class has a whole floor, and health-care for profit has the penthouse, along with the pool, the servants quarters, the beautiful view, etc.

          NOTE * Not clear to me anyone could have. Yes, there’s the “Defense Production Act.” But our entire manufacturing base is hosed, there’s hysteresis in the workforce, etc. For example, IIRC there is one swab plant in the United States, in Maine, of all places. I remember seeing the machinery: Old green metal housings like in the factories I used to work at. Could we really have ramped up swab production in time? I don’t know. Does anybody? There’s a lot of knobs in Washington that don’t necessarily connect to anything any more, even though everybody in the Beltway assumes they do. Assume a swab plant. Assume glass vials. Assume meltblown nonwoven fabric. Etc. Because it seems to me that the chorus calling for, er, central planning — not that there’s anything wrong with that — has a duty to produce a plan, as well, and show it will work. (In other words, it’s not enough to say “Trump should have invoked the Defense Production Act!” without examining the material base for what is to be produced.) If anybody has a link that disproves my pessimism I would be extremely glad to see it.

    2. anon in so cal

      death toll caused by Obama’s U.S. covert and proxy wars in Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen:

      Libya: 250,000-360,000
      Somalia: 500,000-850,000
      Syria: 2 million


      Does not include Obama’s support for the anti-democratic coup in Honduras or the 2104 Obama Biden Nuland putsch in Ukraine that assisted the installation of a Nazi-infused regime that perpetrates ethnic cleansing against Russians in the eastern provinces.

        1. anon in so cal

          >Do we have equivalent figures for Trump?

          IDK. Anyone?

          >I think Clinton almost certainly would have started a war with Russia; that’s what her no-fly zone in Russia would have done. And she had form: Libya. Are you seriously arguing that a nuclear war is just as evil as a series of drone strikes in Syria?

          This scenario, definitely. Clinton expected to win. She started Russia bashing before 2106, arguably to condition the public for her longer-term plans: a hot war w Russia in Syria. Possibly also in Ukraine. Given Biden was a key participant in the Ukraine putsch, does anyone think a Biden admin would not escalate there, as well as in Syria?

  16. MLTPB

    Autonomous zones.

    Can they issue their own currencies, after they start taxing those in their zones?

  17. richard

    Chris Hayes is really so full of s*&^, re trump and empathy. With almost every action he’s taken Trump has shown himself to be a garden variety repub. The only difference is all the tweets, and that he doesn’t fake any warmth at all; he doesn’t hide his sharp teeth behind some facade.
    If empathy is more than just a pose and words, then trump has every bit as much as obama or almost any other establishment politician. Which is to say he has none at all.
    Thanks for blowing the lid off that one, Chris!

  18. chuck roast

    “Biden’s Slow Hiring in Key States Starts to Worry Some Democrats”

    So what! All the organizers in the world are not going to get a rabidly indifferent electorate to the polls for our favorite cellah’ dwellah’. Better he pays locals to identify registered Dems and Indy’s who vote in off-years. Then he hires cheap-ass Uber drivers to go to their homes and keep beeping until they come out and get a free lift to the polls. Chances are the will be willing to hold their nose and press the electronic button that says “Uncle Joe (maybe).”

    1. Acacia

      This is an interesting analysis of Biden’s campaign problems, especially w.r.t. the black vote:

      Why Joe Biden Won’t Be President

      “Joe Biden’s problem isn’t Joe Biden. The Charlamagne Tha God interview revealed Biden’s biggest weakness is his team.”

      1. The Rev Kev

        Come to think of it, could Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina be his Veep? Not female of course but Joe owes him big time for delivering up black voters to him a coupla months back. Clyburn also has deep ties with Obama and is exactly the sort of black leader that the DNC loves and has worked well with Pelosi in the past.

      2. Dr. John Carpenter

        Interesting, but I think they are wrong, with regard to the interview with Charlamagne tha God. After pointing out how much Charlamange expects the truth, they criticize Biden’s campaign for not coaching him on the best way to lie through that interview. Biden doesn’t seem to have any regrets about the crime bill. He doesn’t see it as something he needs to apologize for. Had he said anything else, he would have been lying. As it was, he told the truth.
        I get the point they’re trying to make, that no one did any homework going into that situation. But I think they’re still looking at this as a need to change the message when I think the real issue is Biden has nothing to offer Black voters. (Or really any voters for that matter.)

  19. jr

    I suspect the reason Biden’s stumble was allowed to remain in the video was to present Biden as a “regular guy” who makes mistakes like anyone else. Didn’t George W. do something similar? I remember reading somewhere a long while back about how if you watch early videos of W before he took office, he is no where near as inarticulate as he sometimes appeared later on. I wonder if Bidens’ handlers are trying to do something similar here…

    1. Darthbobber

      Coming off as a bumbling oaf is one way to distract from one’s more sinister qualities.

      Along with Bush 2s faux rural redneck thing (no mean feat for a 4th generation scion of the New England WASP aristocracy)

      Or Boris J’s clown act.

      Such people don’t fit the traditional images of what the truly dangerous are supposed to look and sound like

    2. anon in so cal

      Social psych’s “pratfall effect”: making mistakes enhances one’s likeability

    3. Pat

      And apparently have been using for three Presidential runs. I guess if at first you don’t succeed try try again.

      Mind you I am pretty sure that our press coverage of these campaigns have been so compromised that his plagiarism problem would probably just have been ignored if it had occurred this time out.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I suspect the reason Biden’s stumble was allowed to remain in the video was to present Biden as a “regular guy” who makes mistakes like anyone else. Didn’t George W. do something similar?

      Eisenhower did this too.

      I agree the Biden campaign, which seems to be elevating laziness into an art form, could be inoculating us against Biden’s verbal infelicities.

      “He stutters, you know.” “That’s just Joe.” “I know what he means.” I still think it’s elder abuse to put him out there (and four years after Clinton, that’s the best Democrats can do. A man who in his long-ago prime, worked hard and successfully to build the very institutions liberal Democrats now claim to deplore. One despairs).

  20. Daryl

    Checking in from Texas, where coronavirus is rising faster than the stock market.

    The governor has verbally re-interpreted part of his anti-mask order to allow municipalities to require businesses to enforce mask use for employees, but still not for the general public.

    Some are now passing these, as the re-opening continues and major cities are set to exceed ICU capacity (preventing which was the stated goal of our half-arsed lockdown). Far too little, and far too late.

    I can only hope that we will look back on this years from now and clearly see the lunacy and magical thinking at play here.

  21. none

    Why would anyone want to do a violent protest at the Tulsa rally, when the rally participants are already planning to unleash biological warfare on THEMSELVES by spreading covid-19 to each other? I bet none of them wear masks.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Covid Creates a Boom for Röhm’s Protective Plexiglas Panel”

    I was talking to the guy running the local post office the other day and he says he is inclined to leave the Plexiglas panels in place, even if Coronavirus goes away. Not so much as the fact that he paid for them but when you are dealing with people all day long, having them between you and someone with a cold or a bad dose of the flu is a bit of a plus.

    1. jr

      “yet another Disney remake”

      For an additional .10 you can buy a disposable eye mask so as to avoid watching it as well…

      1. hunkerdown

        Yet another Disney copyright hail-mary? That’ll put two nickels on my eyes quickly enough.

        (Speaking of dodgy entertainment, a little data point from the nabe for all: the Asian massage parlor down the street has been back in business, and about as busy as they were pre-COVID. So have the bars. I think the former is safer at this point.)

        1. ambrit

          I dunno about the massage parlour. They will have to advertise their “Unhappy Ending” special in about two weeks time.

  23. edmondo

    Amy Klobuchar drops out of Biden VP contention and says he should choose a woman of color” [CNN]. • Sticking the shiv into Warren’s back on her way out the door…

    Amy may not be Boss of the Year, but I bet the progressive side could learn a lot about ruthlessness from her. “Minnesota Nice” God Bless Her Heart!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I said a few times that Klobuchar, assuming her loyalty could be assured, would have made an excellent addition to the West Wing of a Sanders administration, exactly because she would supply the viciousness Sanders lacks (though maybe creating a terrible workplace situation outweighs that).

  24. anon in so cal

    “China finds heavy coronavirus traces in seafood, meat sections of Beijing food market

    China has found the trading sections for meat and seafood in Beijing’s wholesale food market to be severely contaminated with the new coronavirus and suspects the area’s low temperature and high humidity may have been contributing factors, officials said on Thursday.”


    It is often stated that there is no evidence Covid-19 is contracted through food….

    1. epynonymous

      Heard the same on NPR.

      Of course, they* ran a full hour questioning the legitimacy of BLM fundraising.

      Saw a Cambridge rally for the brothers keeper rally? Didn’t ask what they got paid, just drove by with my merchandise and honked.

      1. epynonymous

        Oh, and heard the same denial about food spread, with no sources or justification, on NPR.

    2. hunkerdown

      Being around the food is a whole other matter. I understand Staphylococcus aureus is an occupational hazard for pig ranchers, and medical professionals who deal with them.

  25. farmboy

    trump rallies today in Tulsa will be THE superspreader event of the SARS-COVID-19 pandemic

    1. Phillip Allen

      An incredible performance by Holm is in Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter, a standout performance in a film full of standout performances, really, really emotionally raw, wonderful as only something beautiful and harrowing can be.

      At IMDB.

  26. Darthbobber

    Is Angela Davis on Biden’s shortlist? She’d bring authenticity and intellectual gravitas in the same package. Plus she has experience as Gus Hall’s VP candidate.

  27. Tom Stone

    Here in Sonoma County I have seen a total of one Biden bumpersticker, one Trump Bumpersticker and one (Now expired) “Bernie 2020” bumpersticker.
    In 2016 there was a forest of lawn signs for both Bernie and HRC by this time and a few for Trump, LOTS of bumperstickers, it seemed like one on every third car.
    I spoke to my Sister today, she lives in Auburn CA and told me that there were Trump signs and bumperstickers every where and virtually none for Biden.
    And if Biden chooses Harris as VP California could be close, she is known and despised State wide.

    1. epynonymous

      Mass is more outspoken. One warren sticker today, on a 4 wheeled subaru. Others, but perhaps most importanly only 1 ‘Obama Biden’ sticker. and no ‘Biden’ stickers.

      They don’t exist.?

    2. John k

      Ca won’t be close regardless of the veep.
      But Biden might be one of the few that motivates voters worse than Hillary. And Harris won’t hurt. Meanwhile, trump voters are enthusiastic.
      And incompetent Biden surrounded by incompetents…
      If trump wins it’ll be cause of Russia, of course… already some rumblings…
      But vote by mail might help Biden.

    3. albrt

      I used to be a democrat, and in my experience democrat strategists and staffers are universally against giving out yard signs, bumperstickers, or buttons.

      Much like they are against doing anything else that would make their voters happy.

        1. Stillfeelinthebern

          Over the past two weeks have had multiple conversations with the state Dem party about getting Biden yard signs for our county Dem office. In a repeat of 2016, people are asking for them and they are not here.

          The consultants do not believe yard signs are of any value and of course the consultants matter more than the people actually talking to the voters. Even our local organizer (put here by the state party) is frustrated.

          So I expect we will end up doing exactly what we did in 2016, the local county party will order and PAY for the signs for the national campaign.

          1. ambrit

            Making the local party pay for anything could be the real strategy. Doing a campaign ground game ‘on the cheap’ leaves more money for the consultants.

    4. fresno dan

      Tom Stone
      June 19, 2020 at 9:27 pm

      I say a dead Pat Paulson is bettor than any of the animated candidates we now have running…

      1. ambrit

        You must admit that our present crop of ‘animated’ candidates are very crudely drawn.
        I’m waiting for the Industrial Light and Magic “Creepy” Joe Biden at the virtual convention.
        How about Hillary as Veep, and Joe then does a whirlwind campaigning tour by, ah ha, small aircraft.

  28. Franklin

    “How can we help people—especially families with young children, who might be able to do much better elsewhere—get out of such a bad [Baltimore] neighbourhood?”

    If you don’t improve the neighborhood, the problems will usually accompany them to the suburbs or small towns to which they move. The black community needs to take responsibility for their children, adolescents and adults. The Black Muslims are the closest organization to that which I have seen.

    The polar opposite of that would concerned white people taking responsibility for inner city familes and moving them into their homes.

    Exurb crime is studied here: “Gangs often introduce heightened levels of violent crime and retail-level drug distribution in suburban communities to which they migrate.


    1. Procopius

      Berman says he’s not resigning. I think he’s also saying he was appointed by the courts, not by the president*. Buy popcorn.

  29. Acacia

    Re: “The Philosopher’s Epidemic” at NLR, most of the articles referenced by D’Eramo can be found in translation here (including the relevant excerpt from Foucault’s Discipline and Punish):

    Coronavirus and Philosophers | European Journal of Psychoanalysis
    M. Foucault, G. Agamben, J.-L. Nancy, R. Esposito, S. Benvenuto, D. Dwivedi, S. Mohan, R. Ronchi, M. de Carolis

  30. The Rev Kev

    News for the end of the day. Lots of people may have heard of that 2007 film ‘Into the Wild’ which featured a ‘Magical bus’ in the wilds of Alaska. The Alaska National Guard and had to go get that bus out with a Chinook helicopter and bring it back out. It seems that too many people were getting lost or even killed trying to visit that bus-


  31. richard

    r.e. tulsa and trump – Aren’t our anarchists the best? Not only rootless as you would expect, but so zealously mobile that they are constantly coming in from out of state, no matter which state you are in.

  32. griffen

    This cra*py and eventful week now h7as an appropriate bow to wrap it up. Disappointed to know that Ian Holm has passed on. I remember him chiefly for playing Ash. Which he did quite well.

  33. Procopius

    Like it or not, one must admit that Trump hasn’t blown nearly as many faraway brown people to pink mist as Obama

    I am not sure this is true. While Obama killed a lot of people in Syria through proxies, not many American troops were actually involved. Trump is said to conduct a lot more drone killings than Obama did, but they’ve been entirely unreported during his term. A lot of bombing took place in operations against ISIS under Trump before the Syrians and Russians got the situation under control. I must say, Obama doesn’t seem to mind the self-discovery that he’s really good at killing people. The talent certainly has made him very rich.

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