2:00PM Water Cooler 6/2/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, more soon. Reality — today in the form of Biden’s speech — keeps getting in the way of my production cycle. –lambert


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

This version puts the same three states in the context of the Top 25 COVID-19 states; the curves are still inception-based. The conclusion is the same: It’s clear that this country cannot be said to have the pandemic under control.


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

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

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

Since we’re getting closer to the election, maybe it’s time to start looking at the electoral map:

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

So, taking the consensus as a given, 270 (total) – 204 (Trump’s) = 66. 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. Trump, then, can lose only 36 votes out of the states in play. He could lose, say, AZ (11) and PA (20), but would have to win FL, MI, NC, PA, and WI. That’s a heavy lift. Readers will naturally correct my math!

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Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden Addresses the Nation On the Civil Unrest Facing Communities Across America” [YouTube]. Here is the video:

“Joe Biden Philadelphia Speech Transcript on Protests for George Floyd” [Rev] (if a popup appears, you can click through). Here is the concrete policy proposal part, starting at 10:07:

I call on the Congress to act this month on measures that will be the first step in this direction, starting with real police reform. Congressman Jeffries has a Bill to outlaw choke Kohl’s. Congress should put it on the president’s desk in the next few days. There are other measures, to stop transferring weapons of war to police forces, improve oversight and accountability, to create a model use of force standard, that also should be made law this month.

I am no expert in police reform policy, but here is a thread on that topic for comparison purposes:

The thread ends with an image of the relatively mild Campaign Zero reforms proposed by among others Deray (on his journal from charter school administrator through Black Lives Matter to podcasting); if I had the bandwidth, I’d compare Biden’s speech to that baseline. What jumps out at me is that Biden — granted, he qualifies with “first step” — doesn’t mention the role that police union contracts can play in shielding police from accountability. Here is a thread on that topic:

I don’t see an end to the drug war, either. Or amnesty for those imprisoned by it.

UPDATE Biden (D)(2): “Biden delivers the presidential speech we needed” [Jennifer Rubin, WaPo]. Peroration: “This was a call to our better angels. (‘A country is crying out for leadership. Leadership that can unite us, leadership that brings us together, leadership that can recognize pain and deep grief of communities that have had a [whose?] knee on their neck for a long time’). It was a call for empathetic and responsible leadership. (‘I promise you this. I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate. I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country — not use them for political gain.’)” • I hate that “the ____ we needed” snowclone with the hatred of a million burning suns.

UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “Biden blasts Trump’s ‘narcissism’ in new phase of campaign” [Associated Press]. “Biden’s address marked a new phase of a presidential campaign that had been effectively frozen for two-plus months by the spread of the coronavirus. The former vice president is now emerging from his Delaware home to confront Trump every day — and using in-person appearances to offer direct competition with the president, rather than relying on virtual events that often failed to garner a lot of attention. It was the third consecutive day that Biden made a public appearance and the first time he’s been out of the state since March. His remarks were carried live on the three major cable news networks.” • We’ll see how that goes.

UPDATE Biden (D)(4): Biden last week at a Black church (!):

Hard to reconcile with today’s speech in Philly.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders tries on a new role in 2020: Inside player” [CNN]. “Nearly two months after the primary effectively ended, Biden’s campaign and Sanders’ senior leadership have successfully crafted a ceasefire in the ideological warfare that has dominated the Democratic Party, and its emboldened left wing, for the past five years. Deep and abiding divisions on major issues make the peace a tenuous one, but the personal bond between Sanders and Biden, set against the party’s evolving power dynamics and a country veering from crisis to crisis under President Donald Trump, has set the stage for Democrats to enter the general election this fall with a unity of purpose they lacked in 2016. The détente is being quietly shepherded by Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir and top Biden aides Anita Dunn and Ron Klain. … [I]n an interview last week, Shakir praised [Dunn] for setting a ‘tone and tenor’ in private conversations that encouraged the relationship. ‘They’re operating with the best of intent. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get all the outcomes that you want,’ Shakir said. ‘Obviously we have to see where the outputs are in terms of these task forces (created by the campaigns), but we’re operating with full reality, understanding that we’re not going to get everything we want.'” • Harvey Weinstein’s flak opening with “the best of intent.” Possible, I suppose. More: “‘When Bernie was talking about suspending the campaign, he hadn’t made his decision, he asked me and Jeff at the time to go and start conversations with Biden’s crew to figure out how much progress we could make,’ Shakir said. ‘And I said (to Sanders), ‘OK, what are your chief objectives here?’ He said, ‘It’s very simple, We need progressive policies and progressive personnel adopted by Joe Biden.'” • I haven’t seen either.

UPDATE Trump (R)(1): “We’ve Now Entered the Final Phase of the Trump Era” [The Atlantic]. “There is no way back from the Götterdämmerung in the remainder of the Trump era. The question facing responsible senior administration officials (there are several at the principal and deputy level), Republicans in Congress, and allied governments is not how to persuade Trump to do the right thing, but how to limit the damage so the government can be repaired after he is gone. This may mean not urging Trump to take action on crises even if it is merited; circumventing the president wherever possible; Republican governors declaring their independence from their party leader, trying to craft a bipartisan approach in Congress on foreign-policy issues such as competing with China in international institutions and protecting against Russian interference; and using distractions of their own to divert his attention from truly consequential decisions. Call it fortification—of constitutional democracy and America’s international interests. There are 231 long days with nothing but stormy weather left.”

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Big tent party:

“Five things to watch in Tuesday’s primaries” [The Hill]. “Some 479 pledged delegates are up for grabs on Tuesday, and Biden currently has somewhere around 1,550. While he’s the only candidate remaining in the race, winning the delegates he needs to secure the nomination on Tuesday may prove more difficult than it seems. Biden will have to win 89 percent of all delegates up for grabs on Tuesday to get to the 1,991 he needs. But Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who suspended his presidential campaign in April, will still be on the ballots in remaining primaries, and his allies have urged supporters to vote for him in an effort to amass progressive delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Since Sanders exited the race, Biden has won at least 89 percent of delegates in only one state, Nebraska.” • Also, vote by mail. Worth reading in full.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Class traitor? This is the Rahul Dubey of Swann Street in the Northwest, DC:

Certainly a courageous and moral act. Kudos to Dubey. However, although I cannot reconstruct the sourcing from which I learned that Dubey worked in health care, here is the only LinkedIin resume I can find for a Rahul Dubey in the Washington area:

So that’s pretty unfortunate, considering the murderous fabulously destructive role America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) has played in heatlh care policy.

“In 2003, Donald Rumsfeld gave a perfect explanation for why people riot” [Vox]. From 2015, still germane. “When Iraqis looted hospitals and businesses in Baghdad after the US invasion in 2003, the conservative secretary of defense at the time, Donald Rumsfeld, suggested that looting was a result of legitimate, pent-up anger…. Rumsfeld said, according to Pentagon correspondent Pamela Hess at UPI:

While no one condones looting, on the other hand, one can understand the pent-up feelings that may result from decades of repression and people who have had members of their family killed by that regime, for them to be taking their feelings out on that regime. And I don’t think there’s anyone in any of those pictures … [who wouldn’t] accept it as part of the price of getting from a repressed regime to freedom.

* * *

“Americans losing faith in elections as Trump discredits voting systems” [Los Angeles Times]. “[A] group of academics, called Bright Line Watch, which since 2017 has surveyed Americans on how much confidence they have in the election system. The surveys show a steep drop during Trump’s presidency. When the project began, about 60% of those surveyed said they believed U.S. elections were free of fraud. Now only 45% say they believe that. A third of Trump supporters surveyed say they would not regard it as undemocratic for a president to attack the legitimacy of election results.” • That’s not good. On the other hand, sometimes one thinks Americans have the memories of goldfish. Does anyone remember election 2000 and Bush v. Gore? Or the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), crafted in response to the hanging chad debacle, that subsidized the introduction of hackable voting machines? Our voting systems have been, to say the least, rickety for some time. See Election Justice USA’s report on the 2016 election, for example.

“Philadelphia Sends Out ‘Voteswagon’ To Collect Mail-in Ballots” [CBS Philly]. “The committee of Seventy and the city commissioners office have joined forces in Philadelphia over to the next few days to make sure anyone with a mail-in vote can get it counted ahead of the Pennsylvania primary. …. The bus will make 10 stops throughout Philadelphia between Sunday and Monday evening- this Saturday mornings outpost was Boys Latin charter. ‘Frequently with the postal service people get their ballots closer to Election Day so we wanted to set up an option to submit their ballots in person,” [city commissioner Al Schmidt] said.’ And in turn, assurance their votes and voices are heard. Over 200,000 people applied to vote by mail for the first time in a Pennsylvania election, according to Schmidt.”

“Here’s what happens in Lancaster County, step-by-step, when your mail-in ballot leaves your mailbox” [Lancaster Online]. “Step 1: Ballots are received…. Step 2: Signatures on the back of the envelope are checked…. Step 3: Ballots remain in the elections office, unopened… Step 4: On Election Day, teams of two elections workers will begin taking the boxes of ballots [to] an envelope slicing machine opens the ballot return envelope…. Step 5: The sliced return envelope is then brought back to the elections office and it is opened, revealing the secrecy envelope inside which contains the actual ballot. The return envelope is retained for record keeping purposes and the secrecy envelopes are then shuffled together so that elections workers cannot associate the name on the return envelope with the actual ballot…. Step 6: The ballots inside the secrecy envelope will be taken to another room on the first floor of the county government building to be run through a ballot scanner…. Step 7: Scanned ballots are then secured so they cannot be rescanned.” • Interesting, but what about central tabulation?

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.

Coincident Indicators: “02 June 2020 New York Fed Weekly Economic Index (WEI): Index Declines and Remains At Recession Levels” [Econintersect]. “This data set should be considered a high-frequency coincident indicator on a par with the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index produced by the Philly Fed – and both show conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic are already worse than the Great Recession. However, the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index is improving whilst the WLI is still declining. Logic would say with the partial reopening of the economy – the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index seems to be correct.”

Housing: “April 2020 CoreLogic Home Prices: Home Prices Holding Steady Despite Coronavirus” [Econintersect]. “This is a rear view of home prices. Econintersect believes home prices will deteriorate as the year progresses as the knock-on effect of the coronavirus will grow. The worst-case will be a decline to Great Recession levels but the most likely scenario is a 10% decline roughly equal to the expected unemployment rate. Too much money is being removed from the economy due to the COVID restrictions and elevated unemployment.”

* * *

Commodities: “A meat-supply crunch is beginning to ease but grocers and suppliers expect strains across U.S. food sectors to persist for several months. The U.S. food industry heads into the summer months with beef and pork production last week about 7% lower than the same time last year…. while items like rice, flour and pasta remain scarce following heavy consumer stockpiling” [Wall Street Journal]. “That panic-buying has tailed off but disconnects in supply chains are lingering as suppliers and distributors cope with rapid shifts in production and demand. Restaurants that had scaled down to pickup and delivery operations have resumed food purchasing as they begin to reopen, for instance, keeping supplies of meat products and other items tight. Meat processors have reopened plants but many sites are running well below their usual capacity, with some workers out sick and others adjusting to new safety rules.”

Retail: “Retailers reopening their doors as the U.S. eases coronavirus lockdowns face a new challenge coping with a glut of pent-up inventory. Merchants that have navigated the pandemic will be going head-to-head with bankrupt rivals anxious to liquidate stockpiles… potentially providing a bonanza for consumers and headaches for many store owners” [Wall Street Journal]. “Apparel and footwear companies are particularly exposed, with tens of billions of dollars of unsold merchandise in stores and warehouses. U.S. figures show the retail inventory to sales ratio, a measure of efficiency in supply chains, ballooned to 1.53 in March from 1.43 the month before, reaching the highest level since the financial crisis. Store owners are working with consumer demand still in question and with conventional forecasting tools challenged by the uncertainty. Selling inventory will also be harder and take longer because of staggered store openings and social-distancing restrictions, cutting into margins.”

Employment Situation: “An Unemployment Crisis after the Onset of COVID-19” [Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco]. “we assess possible paths for unemployment through 2021. Although the initial scale of the crisis is clear, substantial uncertainty surrounds the future path of unemployment. This uncertainty primarily revolves around the success of virus containment measures and how quickly economic activity can recover. Fundamental measurement challenges are also likely to affect the official unemployment rate: some laid-off workers cannot actively search for new jobs because of shelter-in-place restrictions and hence may be counted as out of the labor force, rather than unemployed…. Our analysis suggests that returning to pre-outbreak unemployment levels by sometime in 2021 would require a significantly more rapid pace of hiring than during any past economic recovery.” • I don’t believe the virus is contained; see the chart above. I’d love to be wrong!

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 58 Greed (previous close: 58 Greed;) [CNN]. One week ago: 50 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 29 at 1:18pm. Last updated Jun 2 at 12:59pm. So Mr. Market came back from the Nineteenth Hole on Sunday, and decided to get bullish? Note the flip to Greed (yesterday, I mistakenly only updated the number.

Health Care

“The Protests Will Spread the Coronavirus” [The Atlantic]. “The wave of mass protests across the United States will almost certainly set off new chains of infection for the novel coronavirus, experts say. The virus seems to spread the most when people yell (such as to chant a slogan), sneeze (to expel pepper spray), or cough (after inhaling tear gas). It is transmitted most efficiently in crowds and large gatherings, and research has found that just a few contagious people can infect hundreds of susceptible people around them. The virus can spread especially easily in small, cramped places, such as police vans and jails.” • Oy.

“‘Superspreaders’ Could Actually Make Covid-19 Easier to Control” [Bloomberg]. “The most important lessons to be derived here may spring from the fact that the variations in infectiousness are not entirely random. In the future, a team of eight mostly U.S.-based researchers speculated in yet another new paper on the phenomenon, it may be possible to identify those likeliest to be superspreaders by demographics, viral load or other physical characteristics. In the present, it’s already pretty easy to identify specific behaviors and locations that lend themselves to large-scale Covid-19 transmission, with singing, yelling, talking loudly or otherwise engaging in behaviors likely to spread the virus in the crowded indoor spaces implicated in most of the major superspreading events. The key role of such events may help explain why, as my Bloomberg Opinion colleague Elaine He demonstrated with a remarkable set of charts, the strictness of government lockdowns in different European countries did not seem to be correlated with success in slowing the spread of the disease, although their timing did. Once you’ve put a stop to large, indoor gatherings with lots of yelling or singing, there may be diminishing returns to other restrictions. This may also help explain why epidemic models that did not assume great variability in individual infectiousness so wildly overestimated how fast the disease would spread under relatively relaxed restrictions in Sweden. Another implication of Covid-19’s superspreader skew, according to several recent papers, is that even in the absence of widespread testing for the disease, low-tech efforts to isolate those with symptoms and track down their contacts can be quite effective in slowing its spread.” • See NC here. On the same topic–

“Just Stop the Superspreading” [New York Times]. “We recently published a preprint (a preliminary paper, still to be peer-reviewed) about 1,038 cases of SARS-CoV-2 in Hong Kong between Jan. 23 and April 28 that, using contact-tracing data, identified all local clusters of infection. We found that superspreading has overwhelmingly contributed to the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the city overall. Of the 349 local cases we identified — the remaining 689 cases were imported from other territories — 196 were linked to just six superspreading events. One person alone appears to have infected 73 individuals after frequenting several bars in late March. Weddings, temples, hot-pot dinners, work parties and karaoke venues featured in the other clusters. In our study, just 20 percent of cases, all of them involving social gatherings, accounted for an astonishing 80 percent of transmissions.”

“27% unlikely to be vaccinated against the coronavirus; Republicans, conservatives especially: POLL” [ABC]. • Oof:

“U.S. businesses are getting back to work with a set of new supply chains and they’re already facing concerns over distribution and pricing. Manufacturers are racing to crank out hand sanitizer, masks and clear plastic dividers… as the products emerge as integral elements for restarting the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus pandemic” [Wall Street Journal]. “That has sent prices for materials like the alcohol used in sanitizer soaring, and suppliers are measuring the wait times for plexiglass-style sheeting in months rather than weeks. The headaches are coming over products that until recently had only limited markets. Now demand for protective gear that was sold mostly to hospitals is coming from a range of sectors, straining producers. Lydall Inc. plans to double production of its filtering material for face masks, for instance, but for now some orders are going unfilled as demand far outweighs supply.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Two-thirds of people put in neck restraints by Minneapolis police were black, department data shows” [CNN]. “n the years leading up to George Floyd’s death with his neck beneath the knee of a Minneapolis policeman, at least 58 people lost consciousness after the city’s officers put them in neck restraints, according to a CNN analysis of use of force data from the police department. Officers used neck restraints on 428 people since 2012, and 14% lost consciousness, the data showed. That means the procedure, which is restricted or banned in many large police departments around the country, was used an average of about once a week in the city over that time period. About two-thirds of the people placed in neck restraints by Minneapolis officers were black — in a city where black residents make up 19% of the population.”

“The President, the Military and Minneapolis: What You Need to Know” [Just Security]. “Under the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, Congress has limited the president’s ability to use the federal (title 10) military in domestic law enforcement operations such as searches, seizures, and arrests. A criminal statute, the Posse Comitatus Act makes it unlawful for the Army or Air Force to “execute the laws . . . except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress.” So, the president cannot simply call in federal military forces or nationalize the Minnesota National Guard to quell the civil disturbance in Minneapolis without pointing to a Posse Comitatus Act exception. The Insurrection Act is, by far, the Posse Comitatus Act’s most important exception. This is the legal key that unlocks the door to use federal military forces—whether through federalizing the National Guard or calling in “title 10 forces” to quell civil unrest. Dating from 1807, there are three key Insurrection Act provisions worth addressing…. But there are two Insurrection Act provisions that can be invoked by the president irrespective of a state’s request or underlying desires. Ironically, presidents have actually relied upon these provisions to uphold civil rights and protect the rights of minorities in the Deep South during the 1950s and 1960s. The Insurrection Act authorizes the President to deploy the military (federal or state) whenever he believes it necessary ‘to suppress an insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination or conspiracy.’ • Worth reading in full for the provisions.

UPDATE The guy with the Chicago PD scanner is on again. Sorry for the language, but interesting data point:

Interesting to wonder if the police can keep up the pace for, say, another week. Doubtful, IMNSHO; they aren’t trained or in shape for it. Hence the military?

UPDATE The Border Patrol?

Totally not trained for any aspect of this, a disaster waiting to happen.

UPDATE “Military Helicopters Descend On Washington In Bizarre Very Low-Altitude Show Of Force (Updated)” [The Drive]. “. Army UH-72 Lakota helicopters, as well as UH-60 Black Hawks, one possibly belonging to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have been flying extremely low-level show-of-force maneuvers over areas of Washington, D.C. in obvious attempts to try to disperse groups protesting the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota last week. Some of the helicopters have held a hover right over groups of people, hitting them with their rotor wash and the deafening sound of their rotors and engines…. It also seems bizarrely dangerous. If something were to have happened to the helicopter, it could have quickly fallen into the crowd, offering them little chance to get out of the way.” • Makes you wonder what would happen with a drone strike into the blades.



Screening Room

Happy anniversary:

Class Warfare

“Riots Across America” [Seeking Alpha (Re Silc)]. “The death of George Floyd was both unjust and tragic. However, his death was the catalyst that lit a powder keg of dissension, which has simmered beneath the headlines for over a decade…. Look at the faces of those rioting. They are of every race, religion, and creed. What they all have in common is they are of the demographic most impacted by the current economic recession. Job losses, income destruction, financial pressures, and debt create tension in the system until it explodes…. The lack of economic improvement is clearly evident across all demographic classes. However, it has been the very policies of the Federal Reserve which created a wealth transfer mechanism from the poor to the rich. The ongoing interventions by the Federal Reserve propelled asset prices higher, but left the majority of American families behind…. If the Fed removes any monetary accommodation, the market declines. The Fed is forced to subsequently increase support for the financial markets, which exacerbates the wealth gap. It’s a virtual spiral from which the Fed can not extricate itself. It’s a great system if you are rich and have money invested. Not so much if you are any one else. As we are witnessing, the United States is not immune to social disruptions. The source of these problems is compounding due to the public’s failure to appreciate ‘why’ it is happening. Eventually, as has repeatedly occurred throughout history, the riots will turn their focus toward those in power.” • Worth reading also for information on savings (none) and retirement accounts (being tapped).

“Household income surged in April despite the collapsing labor market” [Matthew Yglesias, Vox]. “Personal income in the United States soared by 10.5 percent in April, according to new data released Friday morning by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, even as consumer spending fell by 13.6 percent. That adds up to a tremendous and unprecedented surge in the household savings rate as Americans, on average, had more cash on hand but fewer things they wanted to spend it on. All this played out against the backdrop of the most rapid set of job losses in American history, underscoring the critical role that the CARES Act has played in keeping people afloat.” • Then again–

“One-Third of America’s Record Unemployment Payout Hasn’t Arrived” [Bloomberg]. “Almost one-third of unemployment benefits estimated to be owed to the millions of Americans who lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus slump haven’t been paid yet, as flagship policies struggle to cope with the unprecedented wave of layoffs. The Treasury disbursed $146 billion in unemployment benefits in the three months through May, according to data published Monday — more than in the whole of 2009, when jobless rates peaked after the financial crisis. But even that historic figure falls short of a total bill that should have reached about $214 billion for the period, according to Bloomberg calculations based on weekly unemployment filings and the average size of those claims. The estimated gap of some $67 billion shows how emergency efforts to boost payments, and deliver them via creaking state-level systems, are lagging the needs of a jobs crisis that’s seen more than 40 million people file for unemployment as the economy shut down.” • So, from the perspective of any given individual, the delivery of relief is or wasrandom. Well done, all.

News of the Wired

R.I.P. Christo:

I saw “The Gates” in Central Park. I felt gates themselves, as pictured, were rather ugly, as was the reddish-orange fabric hanging from them. But then I realized that the fabric was catching tiny, invisible, almost impalpable breezes moving through the parth, and moving and rippling in response. Christo had somehow taught the city to blush.

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

DL writes: “We had a great display of these in our yard last week. They bloom all summer but usually not all at once in our yard in Gainesville, FL.” (“More properly called the Dietes Iridioies or the Dietes Vegeta White, you may know it as the Cape Iris, Fortnight Lily or just plain Wild Iris.”) I keep saying “This flower is my favorite flower,” but iris is really 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. Louis Fyne

    retraction of an anti-mask study. TL/DR: study writers didn’t understand their own methodology and drew meaningless conclusions.


    According to recommendations by the editors of Annals of Internal Medicine, we are retracting our article, “Effectiveness of Surgical and Cotton Masks in Blocking SARS-CoV-2. A Controlled Comparison in 4 Patients,” which was published on Annals.org on 6 April 2020

    We had not fully recognized the concept of limit of detection (LOD) ….The LOD is a statistical measure of the lowest quantity of the analyte that can be distinguished from the absence of that analyte. Therefore, values below the LOD are unreliable and our findings are uninterpretable. Reader comments raised this issue after publication.

  2. Krystyn Podgajski

    North Carolina is having a spike in new ‘rona cases and new deaths while testing has flattened. So that’s not promising. Mostly in Durham and other African American and poverty stricken areas. Hey, I though this virus treated us all as equals? Can we rename it SARS-NeoLiberal-2020?

    Also, I had to take my car to the shop and I chose a long time local place to get it serviced. Great recommendations, 5 stars, yada yada. The owner gave me a ride back to my place and on the way he told me his profits dropped by 35% last month but he was hanging in and business jumped back up this week. While the shop closed the waiting room he did not wear a mask in his truck when he gave me a ride home. I did, and I opened the window a crack as well.

    I just got word back that I was leaking oil all over and antifreeze in my engine and had to get all the gaskets replaced and the belts changed. $1100, so there goes my stimulus. I was expecting this but I do not like helping the economy by fixing broken windows.

    1. anon in so cal

      Los Angeles County, California had its usual daily spike: 1,202 new cases and 60 new fatalities.

      That raises the total number of LA County cases to 57,118 and the total fatalities to 2,443, which puts Los Angeles County in 3rd place, nationwide.

      In hindsight, I think the CDC’s constant mantra that “most people with COVID-19 have mild illness” has contributed to the fairly blase attitude that’s evident even in this solidly blue area. This is combined with CA Gov Gavin Newsom’s decision to rush through the reopening phases, leading me to think the approach to the pandemic has changed. Cases are probably going to soar in the next two weeks.


  3. Billy

    One positive thing to come out of the looting of luxury brand stores:

    The acknowledgement that advertising works!

    Just Do It!

    Fury over George Floyd’s death?

    An iPhone for an eye!

  4. mle detroit

    Lambert, I’m glad to see you too appreciate Barry Ritholtz, the #2 curated aggregator (after NC) on the web. Somebody posted yesterday complaining that his firm had received a “small business” PPP loan. If you can get all your “team” on one web page, that’s pretty small, even counting behind-the-scenes clerical support people. I’d guess that a lot of wealth management trading seized up in March in the fear caused by the flailing ineffectiveness of our country’s “leaders.” Anyway, The Big Picture always has interesting links and even I like the Friday photos of gorgeous cars.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m confused. To what are you responding? I linked to Seeking Alpha, not the Big Picture. That said, Ritholtz got a lot right in the 2008 crash, one of the few! I found him through Eschaton, and through him I found Naked Capitalism!

        1. J.k

          I found NC through Le Show , when Yves was on discussing 08. Thanks Harry. Which reminds me i havent checked in on Le Show in some time.

          1. Bsoder

            His voice of trump is the best. He does it as a non to bright capo of the Soprano. He’s got a podcast so you can listen any time.

      1. albrt

        There was something about the author of Bailout Nation receiving a bailout. May have been a comment. I briefly tried to find it but could not.

      2. skippy

        And I found you through NC, NC after following Yves for a few years prior NC launch doing pod casts and some papers … all because of her mental methodology and past …

  5. Lambert Strether Post author

    Patient readers, please refresh your browsers. I was able to mentally process Biden’s speech, and I added some important material on the riots, or protests, or the rebellion, or whatever it is.

  6. Synoia

    Pandemic Management:

    Social Distancing and Closing was used to control the number of Covid cases (aka: flatting the curve) to manage ICU and Hospital bed occupancy.

    Detect infected and trace the possible infected is another tool in managing bed use, that is bending the curve.

    It appears in the statistics I’ve seen, that we are generally below 10% of the population who hopefully are recovered and have further immunity to Covid 19. That is a long way form the general 80% herd immunity required to naturally halt the disease’s progression.

    When the hospital bed capacity is under control, the shutdown is lifted in stages. The rate of infection must rise, but again managed to avoid swamping the local hospital systems.

    The stop go continues until either a Vaccine is proven effective, and used to reach herd immunity, or we achieve herd immunity by infection, while simultaneously controlling the hospital bed capacity.

    The key metric at this time is hospital bed utilization. Not new cases, and not deaths. While both illness are deaths regrettable, that’s where we are.

    The statistics used to control this decease should be the hospital bed capacity percentage for Covid 19 cases. We cannot avoid the incidence of the disease until there is a vaccine, and we reach herd immunity by inoculation, or by infection.

    My question:

    1. How long will it take to reach 80% Covid 19 recovered in the world’s population? We are at roughly 10% after 3 months. A straight line extrapolation says it will take another 21 months .

    2. Are there good stats on Hospital bed usage?

    Caveat: straight line extrapolations in nature are always wrong.

    1. Samuel Conner

      > We are at roughly 10% after 3 months.

      This seems optimistic to me. Is this an extrapolation of serology results from that California study?

      Adopting the “died”/(“died + “recovered”) proxy for the case fatality rate, which may not be a terrible approximation this far into the pandemic:

      With current deaths attributed to Covid-19 at roughly 400,000, if the actual extent of infection is 10% of the world’s population — roughly 800 million — that would imply a case fatality rate of around .05%, half as deadly as ‘flu.

      That strikes me as optimistic.

      Perhaps 1% of the world’s population has recovered, 80 million — which may be plausible, entailing that less than 10% of cases produce symptoms and are subjected to tests.

      Then we would be 20 years, on a linear trend, from 80% herd immunity.

    2. Yves Smith

      This “herd immunity” meme is dangerous and I don’t like seeing it propagated as if it were a realistic option.

      There is zero evidence that anyone gets lasting immunity from a case of coronavirus. Of the common-ish coronaviruses, the longest immunity is to MERS, and that’s only 34 months. Oh. and to make remembering the numbers easy, MERS also has a 34% fatality rate.

      The most widespread coronavirus is the common cold. Conferred immunity is only six months.

      1. Synoia

        Yves You are correct. There are many uncertainties, and many unknowns.

        As for my numbers they are for illustration, not measures nor forecasts.

  7. grayslady

    Biden is as much of a congenital liar as Trump. Witness the last “debate” with Bernie–every answer was a lie in response to Bernie’s questions on Joe’s positions. I still remember the look of utter astonishment on Bernie’s face as Joe responded. I think it’s fair to say that anything Biden says off the cuff–such as “then vote for someone else” or “just shoot them in the leg”–is the real Joe. Anything scripted is just pure guff made up by his campaign team. Leopards don’t change their spots, and Joe Biden has a long history of being a pompous, authoritarian jerk. Definitely not presidential material.

    1. Carolinian

      As Big Daddy said to Biff, the problem with our modern age is “mendacity.” It has gotten where you don’t what to believe about anything

      Growing up we Baptists were taught that fibbing was a sin. I’m no longer a Baptist but i still believe that–heartily.

      1. General Jinjur

        Some years ago I read Sissela Bok’s
        ‘ Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life’. I’d like to give a copy to everyone in Congress.

        The powerful smell of mendacity is everywhere.

    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      Too bad Bernie felt reaction shots were more important than calling out the lies. Your point is dead on though. I realized back when he was VP that his “gaffes”, where he’d blurt out something that raised an eyebrow, were the only time he was speaking the truth and they whole “gaffe” malarkey was nothing more than spin. Nothing has changed, except his ability to play along with the whole gaffe thing.

      1. Yves Smith

        It drives me nuts how readers have impossible expectations of Sanders.

        Go read any of my CalPERS posts. To debunk a lie generally takes at least 3x as many words as the lie, and often 20x as many words.

        Sanders was allowed only one minute rebuttals. It was impossible to disprove Biden’s whoppers in such a short period of time.

        1. ambrit

          I give Sanders credit for being fairly intelligent due to his success in local and then State politics over the years. So, I imagine that Sanders had to know, as the lies were being spoken, that Biden was lying. My question then is, why didn’t Sanders simply say “That is an outright lie Joe.”
          When vying for the top job, comity and amity have their limits.
          Giving Sanders the benefit of the doubt, I am forced to view his campaign’s demise as an example of the maxim: “Nice guys finish last.”

          1. John A

            I understand it is against parliamentary protocol to call a member of parliament a liar in the house of commons in Britain. One euphemism employed in its stead is to accuse a liar of being ‘economical with the truth’.

        2. Dr. John Carpenter

          That he could have debunked a single Biden lie during the entire course of the campaign is an impossible expectation? I understand how these alleged debates work, and I understand how debunking a lie works. My point is at no point in his campaign did Bernie even try. That part drives me nuts.

  8. Amfortas the hippie

    that Seeking Alpha thing is pretty damning.

    Here are some findings from that report:

    Account ownership rates are closely correlated with income and wealth. More than 100 million working-age individuals (57 percent) do not own any retirement account assets, whether in an employer-sponsored 401(k)-type plan or an IRA nor are they covered by defined benefit (DB) pensions.
    The typical working-age American has no retirement savings. When all working individuals are included—not just individuals with retirement accounts—the median retirement account balance is $0 among all working individuals. Even among workers who have accumulated savings in retirement accounts, the typical worker had a modest account balance of $40,000.
    Three-fourths (77 percent) of Americans fall short of conservative retirement savings targets for their age and income based on working until age 67 even after counting an individual’s entire net worth—a generous measure of retirement savings.
    Read those finding again.
    If we use a more optimistic number of 50%, then 50% of American workers did not have the ability to tap additional “savings” to offset financial hardships during the pandemic.
    It’s no wonder they are in the streets rioting.

    wife presumably has her teacher’s pension(I’ll believe it when we see it).
    Beyond that, our “retirement” consists of 20 paid for acres, a bunch of fruit trees and other perennial food producing plants, a half-acre of moderately fertile garden space, and my half acre of absurdly fertile garden beds.
    and some chickens.
    I feel fortunate…even blessed…to be so situated.
    …but all of this is just talking about a thing called “Retirement”…which may be considered a luxury for a whole lot of people, who will be more worried about
    rent, cost/availability of necessities, unemployment, healthcare, and on down the line…
    There’s a whole lot more pain on the horizon.

    we’re going for chemo in San Antone, tomorrow.
    everything’s open, now, supposedly.
    and i think that any protesting won’t be happening in the medical center area of town(we’re going for chemo)
    we’ll see how different it is from 2-3 weeks ago.

    1. richard

      Amfortas best of luck with chemo and recovery, and what sounds like a potentially fecund retirement. When you get to it ;)
      What does you wife teach? I’m sure you’ve already mentioned it, but I am disposed by heredity and ganja to forget.

      1. Amfortas the hippie


        and thanks, to all.
        oncologist is getting a bag of fruits and veggie, if wife can successfully smuggle it past the staff(cherry tomatoes vanished in a heartbeat, last year)
        I’ll drive around and sit reading in the parking lot.

        1. Ignacio

          I hope the best for you and your wife. Be strong and whatever happens the most valuable things that happen have to do with enjoying life with those you love. These can be enjoyed and stored in your mind like a precious treasure.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Stay safe you guys tomorrow. And keep a sharp eye for what is going on around you.

    3. skippy

      There is worse things brother … having your partners mental facilities messed with, upgrade from the past normative, and still kicking …

      Regardless of the outcome you both know each other and can communicate based off it, think regardless of outcomes that’s a square deal for moving forward post morte … money matters not.

      All I can say is I am here and will be here regardless … for you.

  9. Elim Garak

    TODAY IN #StarTrek HISTORY: June 2, 1987

    I always loved seeing the future as depicted in TNG, but over this past week I’m reminded that even within the Star Trek universe, humanity had to suffer a third world war and post-atomic horror before it could achieve any semblance of equality.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I watched “Inner Light” for about the hundredth time last night. Corona is a side-show. The main show is still coming.

      From what I have read there is no ‘show’ after a third world war that includes nuclear weapons. While the possibility of a nuclear war or nuclear ‘accident’ remains very real I don’t give that possibility much consideration because I don’t believe any future proceeds from it. I believe perhaps because I want to believe this — there is a future for Humankind and we will again become a Society. I want and work that [no marches — just copies of patents and extrapolations from them] … it might be the best Society possible after the Collapse. [I am very lazy and uninspired, and all help will be most appreciated.]

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i gather that the invention of the replicator was a necessary precursor to Humans finally transitioning to adulthood.
        but this isn’t really fleshed out in any of the episodes/shows that i can remember.
        Freedom from Want…I’ve always assumed that that invention likely had to be pried from someone’s cold dead hands.
        That period in the ST universe’ history might ought to be explored>

        Picard was my favorite Captain, and i like the next two series well enough… but Discovery was disappointing(Tardigrades? Really?)…and I’m still uncertain as to how I feel about the Picard Series, so far.
        I have to be in the mood, and with another trek person(like, never happens) to enjoy the Original.
        Tolerance for cheese has waned, I guess.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I maintain an extremely high tolerance for Romano cheese. Nothing compares!!!!!

          After all, I am underwhelmed by the ‘honesty’ with regard for what i have to post.

        2. Elim Garak

          The invention of the replicator is definitely what made a post-scarcity world possible within the Trek universe. I have a deep fondness for the 80’s/90’s Treks, with DS9 being the best imo if only for the reason that they explore more of those in-universe aspects of how galactic society functions that are glossed over in the pretext of TNG.

          I feel similarly as you do about the more recent iterations … I’m only halfway through the Picard series and finding myself disappointed that they went the modern action-driven conflicts instead of the ethically-driven conundrums presented in TNG, etc.

          Random aside, I think Galaxy Quest is the best Trek film in spirit, and if you’ve seen it then you have to do yourself a favor and watch the doc that was just released called Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary, it’s well worth the time if you’re a fan.

        3. The Rev Kev

          Amfortas, if you are looking for Star Trek, you won’t find it in either ST Discovery or the Picard series. The Star Trek vision and spirit in not in them. What I can recommend to you to find the Star Trek spirit is “The Orville” I kid you not. Yeah, it is comedy but Brannon Braga, who was a producer on ST Voyager is also producer on “The Orville” and it shows-


          1. Elim Garak

            Second on that Orville recommendation! I found the first season to be very much in the spirit of Roddenberry Trek. A lot of people are turned off by Seth MacFarland, but ya gotta take good Trek where you can get it.

  10. Wukchumni

    First F-35 flyover of the Pandemic is overhead & overly loud, I wonder if they’re doing it to honor me?

  11. Wukchumni

    Let them eat Little Debbie dept:

    Went shopping including mad mask (a Buffalo Bills version) and gloves in a supermarket for the first time in Visalia (pop 138k) in 2+ months, and the WinCo I went to seemed fully stocked with everything for the most part, including 6 different kinds of toilet paper in 6 through 12 packs.

    I usually buy a couple of ribeye steaks and typically have a selection of 9-12 2-packs to choose from, but only 4 yesterday, beef-it’s what for dinner-if you can find it, that is.

    About 30% wore of the public wore masks & employees all for the most part, but not the checker I passed through, went by the name of Mary if i’m not mistaken.

    1. Carolinian

      Think TP may finally be making a comeback as I saw all brands being stocked up at the Wally Food. Beef, however, seems to be considerably up in price and not abundant.

      As for the virus, we’ve had a spike in daily cases but that may be because they are now doing a lot more testing. The deaths per day seem to be going down. With the 90s finally here the possibility of a summer fade will be put to the test.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        here in texas’ hill country, the TP is adequately abundant.
        but it and all of the other paper goods are Mexican brands.
        this in heb and our local grocery store.
        last i darkened walmart’s door(3 weeks ago north west san antonio), they were still out of all that, and pretty ragged looking in general(i mused that it was karma for their pioneering JIT/warehouse on wheels)

  12. Jeff N

    re: voting by mail – hmm, I always get funny looks when voting in person because my current signature looks nothing like it did when I first registered to vote in 1990. Is my mail-in ballot destined for the trash?

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Might be worth a call to your county clerk — especially if you have ready access to a notary via your bank or other connections. [But whether that makes your mail-in vote more likely to be counted … who knows. I will be voting by mail-in but without your concerns. I am not certain my vote will be counted … at least counted toward the person I vote for.]

  13. Ignacio

    I think the poll on getting or not the vaccine should have been complemented with a second question: If a vaccine that protected you from the Coronavirus was available at a really scandalous high price?

    1) Yes, I would pay whatever needed to get the shot
    2) No, I cannot afford that

    Results would probably be very different.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe you make a most fitting observation — although I fear all too fitting as Big Pharma jockey’s for their ‘money-shot’ [apologies to porn].

    2. albrt

      Lots of other likely variables:

      If the vaccine was rushed through without proper testing by Donald Trump/Joe Biden?

      Definitely no.

      If the vaccine was touted by Martin Shkreli or equivalent and the company stock price went up indicating approval by the perfectly efficient market?

      Definitely no.

      If you are going the have to get the vaccine again in 6 months or a year?

      Probably wait for the second round.

      1. epynonymous

        I bet the second or third round of vaccine won’t be free.

        Also the top reccomended ‘Twitch'(tm) channe’ ‘woke’ was compiling other protest live streams. The don’t do past episodes, probably to make it hard for it to be used as evidence.

        Runs in ‘subscribers only mode’ for chat- which drives donations. some feeds use youtube live, probably to leverage their channel audiences.

      2. neo-realist

        I definitely wouldn’t take the vaccine if it were rushed without proper testing, and would take it if was proved safe and effective, particularly if I had to have proof of vaccination to travel out of the country.

      3. Bsoder

        So now Biden can control how timely a vaccine is available- by what magic? Hold his breath?

  14. Shonde


    “The Minnesota Department of Human Rights will launch an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department after filing a civil rights charge related to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody last week.

    The probe, announced Tuesday by Gov. Tim Walz, will look at Minneapolis police policies and procedures over the past 10 years to determine whether the department has engaged in discriminatory practices toward people of color.”

    Movement in the right direction?

      1. flora

        Thanks for the link.
        ‘Nice town ya got here, be a shame if something happened to it.’

      2. Left in Wisconsin

        Yes, I was about to post this, too. For all those who say voting is the answer or “but it’s a Democratic city,” please read. Very illuminating.

        1. Synoia

          New York City being democratic appears as an Illusion, especially when the major industry worships greed, and no the graces of humanity.

          New York Sate? Different. I’ve see poverty there which made Lesotho look affluent.

          1. Late Introvert

            Never should anyone forget that Wall St. was born and raised by the slave trade, and supported the South in the Civil War.

  15. KLG

    My first 270towin.com map of the year:
    Trump 279, Biden 259
    Pokey Joe has a chance, but he still hasn’t come out of his hole. Much.

    1. albrt

      How about Gropey Joe?
      Or “You-ain’t-black” Joe?
      Or “Shartmeister” Joe?
      Or “Shoot-em-in-the-legs” Joe?

      Or whatever it is tomorrow.

      I sure wouldn’t write Trump off just yet.

  16. Jeremy Grimm

    Suppose the Presidential Election ended in a photo finish like the Bush-Gore election — how would the supremes settle between Trump and Biden? Backroom coin-toss?

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Huh??? … don’t understand — decrypt please. I am just an old-guy and a little slow so please be patient and indulgent.

        1. Massinissa

          He’s making a joke, saying the Supremes would nominate Juan Guaido as president in that case.

          Juan Guaido is a Venezuelan politician that has been declared by the US Government to be the President of Venezuela, despite Venezuela already having a president, and Guaido never having run in any prior Venezuelan presidential election. Hence NotTimothyGeithners joke that he could win the US presidential election without running in it.

          1. edmondo

            To be honest, it’s not like Joe Biden actually “ran for president” either. He was anointed by Black Jesus but he never actually “ran “.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              just saw some speech fragments(!) from biden on nbc news while i was cooking.
              boilerplate nostrums about healing and tackling racial and economic injustice…
              and i’m thinking…all by myself at the stove…”why doesn’t he begin by simply reversing himself on just about everything he’s fought for in the last 40 somide years?”

              the overall impression of what we call “national news”, which is usually nbc(due simply to it being the only station we could get with an antenna, and a certain brand loyalty derived from that(whitepaper forthcoming))
              they were trying to thread the needle between “peaceful protesters” and “Looters!!!”, which resulted in rather anodyne reporting.
              like strained carrots in a little round jar.

              1. Massinissa

                Biden gets elected, these marches will start all over 2-4 years from now because ‘nothing will fundamentally change’.

                Although at this point, that almost is looking to be a preferable option. I’m becoming really anxious about what’s coming in the next few months, much less the next four years.

    1. Sam M

      Party elites on both sides would most likely side with Biden. After four years of having to deal with erratic Trump and cleaning up his mess, they would rather have a lifeless puppet to work their policy through under the shroud of liberal speak and “unity.” After all, that strategy has worked before and this one leads to too much violence for their liking.

      1. Rogue scholar

        I generally agree but Trump has been a great distraction from discussing real issues and a ratings bonanza. How can they not sign him up for another season.
        I am worried that this election is going to take on another dimension with accepting the results especially with the Russia gate hysteria. What will happen if Trump manages to win?

        1. neo-realist

          If the potential increases for harm to reporters and camera people in future and possibly more intense riots from another four years of Trump – martial law level enforcement making the Occupy repression look tame, would the networks and newspapers consider worth the ratings bonanza?

      2. Jessica

        If both party elites side with Biden, the Reps would have to do it in such a way that their base couldn’t see them take the dive. That would be a hard needle to thread. Perhaps by unleashing some scandal that would shake even the base. Something good and incriminating with Trump and Epstein……

        1. ambrit

          Since this is supposedly being ‘managed’ by Barry O’s crowd, something with Epstein, Biden, and Clinton; either or both Clintons will do.

    2. polecat

      I’ll take a shot : An all expense-paid trip to New Zealand, to Duke-it out on the xplains of Gone Doh! .. ‘One – Last – Time!’ .. courtesy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg? …

    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      Would the better solution to LEO Bills of Rights be to require that

      (1) police (et al) only get the rights everybody else gets;


      (2) everybody else gets all the rights police (et al) get?

      With (2), unions would still be free to negotiate extra protections in their contracts — and by doing so, they would be protecting and serving everyone else in their community automatically. (I could add “whether they wanted to or not”, but let’s accentuate the positive for the moment.)

  17. Jeremy Grimm

    Black lives matter people gathered with signs around the four corners of the main street light in my little town. Where I live is mixed, but not disproportionately black or any other ethnicity. Honks for were strongly predominant in the responses, including mine. There were far more honks than I heard pre-Corona holding a Sanders placard in 2016 at the traffic-light on Main Street.

    “They came first for the …” the Blacks … in the US. I believe — hope — that even the preponderance of red-necks where I live can see who is next and can see all too clearly now how the game is played — one-group against another.

    1. furies

      It’s very very difficult to read the local blogs here.

      Redneck America thrives in NorCal. The rhetoric is getting more and more violent as the days go on…

      Yup setting it up for us plebs to find the enemy in our neighbors.

  18. marym

    Re: UPDATE The Border Patrol?

    Imperial March of border patrol and CBP headed into White House entrance down Pennsylvania”
    4:19 PM · Jun 2, 2020 https://twitter.com/alexisgoldstein/status/1267928963072000002

    “700 members of the 82nd are at Joint Base Andrews and Fort Belvoir. 1,400 more soldiers are ready to be mobilized within an hour. Soldiers are armed and have riot gear. They also were issued bayonets…”
    4:10 PM · Jun 2, 2020 https://twitter.com/JimLaPorta/status/1267926498629074947

    “Seeing a major movement of military hardware and personnel on the streets of downtown DC today as #GeorgeFloyd protests continue.”
    1:49 PM · Jun 2, 2020 https://twitter.com/FitzFox5DC/status/1267891143821479937

    video of military vehicles rolling in : 2:54 PM · Jun 2, 2020 https://twitter.com/mariselapenny/status/1267907351954231298

    “JUST IN: Sen. Tim Kaine says he’ll offer an amendment to NDAA to bar the use of military force against Americans.”
    2:07 PM · Jun 2, 2020 https://twitter.com/connorobrienNH/status/1267895715012935687

    1. allan

      It even has a name: Operation Enduring Presidency Themis (the Greek god of Law&Order™).

      1. edmondo

        Does anyone in power ever do math. You put the seat of government in Washington DC. Surround that government with 900,000 African-Americans. I would say that keeping that demographic happy makes a lot of sense.

        The 2020 election will be decided by the Great Debate between Trump in his White House bunker and Joe Biden hiding in his bunker in Delaware. Poor Ben Franklin must be spinning in his grave.

        1. Billy

          “Sen. Tim Kaine says he’ll offer an amendment to NDAA to bar the use of military force against Americans.”

          Barack Obama signed the NDAA into law.
          That was white of him.

          1. allan

            wiki: “The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is the name for each of a series of United States federal laws specifying the annual budget and expenditures of the U.S. Department of Defense. The first NDAA was passed in 1961 …”

            Yes, Obama was president from 2009-2017, thank you for pointing that out.

      1. hunkerdown

        Republic is just another word for aristocracy. I’d rather have the direct democracy.

    2. sd

      Re: Border Patrol.
      Serious lack of social distancing in the photo so my first thought was how long until there’s a spike in COVID-19 among the CPB

  19. Massinissa

    Forgive me if anyone else has posted this, I havn’t seen this here yet:


    The projection is by the Atlanta FED reserve.

    If this is true I have never seen anything like it. The article says, essentially ‘Its ok its probably going to be a V shaped recovery’ but I find that difficult to believe.

            1. ambrit

              We can do an Original Star Trek parody episode and call it: “Trouble With Tumbrels.”

  20. Dr. John Carpenter

    RE: Biden (2): “The presidential speech we needed”? Come on. Empty words that sound like they were ripped right out of the “things you’re supposed to say in a time like this” playbook (if a thing could exist.) No policies. No plans. Another task force. Trump bad. And a bunch of stating the obvious. Shorten it to 30 seconds, and it could have been a feel good PR commercial for Amazon or Google. I think Biden has already made his real statement defending the crime bill on the Breakfast Club. Am I to believe that now he sees the light?

    Give me a break, Mac!

    And speaking of seeing the light, how long do you think they had to wait for that heavenly beam of light to shine down on the border patrol in that picture? Did they play a recording of angels sining or the Hallelujah chorus to set the mood?

    1. Big River Bandido

      It’s pretty rich irony, as though Biden himself weren’t responsible for all the laws he pushed for to increase the power of cops at the expense of citizens.

    2. Bsoder

      So, trump is your kind of guy? What’s he’s motto if you were rich, are rich, and want to stay rick there’s only one choice – trump.

      1. Massinissa

        Nothing in his comment suggested support for Trump. Stop putting words into peoples mouths. It is possible to criticize Biden without endorsing Trump. You doing this repeatedly is very tiring.

  21. geoff

    Re: Americans Losing Faith In Elections, there’s much more to it than the bad orange man’s rhetoric. Shelby County TN’s (Memphis) election commission voted today to buy new voting machines from ES&S, which have a history of “losing” black votes in TN and GA. I have no confidence in the vote tallies produced by electronic touchscreen voting machines manufactured by a company that donates to our Republican Sec. of State.

    See whowhatwhy. org “Touchscreen Voting Machines and the Vanishing Black Votes” by Jennifer Cohn. Her twitter @jennycohn1 is also excellent.

  22. Shiloh1

    Corporate apparel and footwear companies have had their inventory liquidated this past week. Do you say IN surance or in SURANCE? If it’s not covered / excluded on their policy it will be covered on their broker’s E & O policy when they sue em.

    1. Billy

      Maybe that’s why the cop(s) in Minneapolis started the looting by breaking the Autozone windows. Better an insurance payout than going broke from lack of business. Probably working as private security like Chauvin who worked alongside Floyd. Wait until those details come out, a riot by another name.

  23. Big River Bandido

    Re: 270 to Win map. I don’t draw the same conclusions you do — given the underlying fundamentals already in place, I think this map looks disastrous for Joe Biden. Consider what he’s facing on a structural level:

    1) pandemic-related fear, which he is completely unable to mitigate
    2) systematic vote suppression efforts by both parties
    3) a divided party and rejection by a significant part of the base
    4) a legitimacy crisis
    5) a failed state, to which he is inextricably linked

    That’s before you even get to the asshole’s *baggage*. That’s all well-rehearsed by now, so on to the map…

    Florida will not be in play. Rick Scott and the Republicans pretty well control the machine in that state, and Florida Democrats couldn’t win a game of Yahtzee with loaded dice. More to the point: the state of polling in MN, IA, and OH are especially ominous signs for Democrats, but with WI, MI, and PA all still contested, the handwriting is on the wall. Democrats are clearly on the defensive, and if Minnesota is only pale blue right now, I can pretty well imagine which way things are going there. This election will not be fought out on issues beneficial to Democrats. Walz and Frey will be made into poster children for Democrat failure, which is a very myopic view of their failures, but not unfair to either man or the “party”.

    A Democrat victory in November would require Democrats to mobilize all “their” voters, and get them to the polls — in spite of all the structural disadvantages. With 40% of Americans in the “burn it all down” camp, I don’t see Democrats riding into office on a swell of enthusiasm and reward for the bang-up job they’ve been doing. Certainly I’m not going to help them, and I’ve been a registered Democrat for 35 years.

    1. Billy

      Democrats’ nightmare scenario:

      Trump: “Because of all the huge number of people that have lost their employer provided health insurance, I am issuing an executive order to commence the first stages of Medicare For All Americans…it’ll be beautiful. Sloppy Joe didn’t do anything about this, but I did…”

      1. neo-realist

        Do you really think he will do a government Medicare for All program???? Given Trump’s proclivity for privatization of government programs and private sector initiated ones, such as his non functional infrastructure program, Trump will likely offer up a costly private insurance health care policy and call it “Medicare for All”. Probably a basket of insurance companies offering coverage with super high deductables; Similar to Obamcare but with Trump’s signature on it.

        1. Big River Bandido

          Whether he will actually create the program is irrelevant. Will he try and co-opt the political ground? I sure wouldn’t put it past him.

    2. Bsoder

      “ominous signs for Democrats, in MI”, nope not a one. Trumps been here 3 times and been told to leave. Mi will not vote for trump. “ominous’ sounds like fear, that trump, won’t get re-elected. As Democrats dont understand MMT they might raise your taxes or something, can’t have that. The only way trump wins the election is if he steals it. And that is not going to happen. The only reason he would have more support than any poll indicates is people aren’t telling the truth about supporting trump. So whose not telling the truth?

  24. The Rev Kev

    “This reminds me of Iranian Foreign Minister who used US letter from Pompeo with changed words”

    That is some epic level trolling on the part of the Iranian Foreign Ministry and I have seen other examples like this. I wonder if this is a sign of what Iranian humour is typically like.

  25. chuck roast

    Since we’re getting closer to the election, maybe it’s time to start looking at the electoral map:

    …uh no. If my feeble memory is not further failing me, each and every one of the clowns represented on your electoral map recently voted to allow the golfers to back up their very large individual trucks to the Federal Reserve Bank and make off with more money than you and I could count in a lifetime. Really, is it necessary to follow the possible electoral success or failure of all of these paid-up Rotarians? What I see here is an extremely painful and futile exercise that leads nowhere and enlightens no one.

    In the words of late lamented mom, “Please! Spare me!”

  26. John k

    The election…
    Is a repeat of 2016, same rep and a very similar Corp dem. IMO Biden will do worse in the debates than Hillary did… I can imagine trump might have Reade sitting in the front row. And msm doesn’t seem quite as blindly supportive of Biden as it was of Hillary.
    So it seems logical to start with the 2016 map. If it again comes down to the three rust belt states that trump won by small margins, Biden would have to win all three.
    And trump will point out that it took 40 years to ship all our jobs and factories to China, he can’t bring them back in four, he needs a second term to finish the job. And he will also point out that he’s trying hard, did the wall, stopped immigration, and is confronting China.
    Too early and too close to call here. Does the market stay up? Do we open up without new surges? Does the next big wave wait for winter? Does a treatment or vaccine arrive? He will really crow if HCL works.
    If he’s desperate he could say he would sign m4a if it gets to his desk, I assume Biden would repeat his promise to veto it simply bc Biden likes to double down his bets.
    Personally I agree trump must win for a progressive to have a shot in 2024… not that my Ca vote will matter. But my daughters are in Mi and Az…

  27. farmboy

    Tolstoi–>Gandhi–>Martin Luther King–>? there is a void, an opportunity if you will, for someone with some cache, celebrity, standing, humanity to be at the head of demonstrations in NYC, DC, LA. Smithsonian Mag named 1968 as the year that shattered America, history doesn’t repeat but it does rhyme. Vietnam War, Stagflation, Impeachment, Iran Revolution marked the following decade of decline. We are on the cusp of another decade that rhyme’s deeply.

  28. VietnamVet

    Resolution should be coming in the next weeks. The military has arrived at the capital. Like the 1930s, will they disperse the crowds like they did to the Bonus Army? Or, is this the revolution against the Aristocracy that is purposefully killing Americans? Comments at Ian Welsh’s repost of his “The Age of War and Revolution” point out that the protests are being led by young white women daring the police to attack them. This echoes the March on the Bastille. Out of work, broke, damn the pandemic, with no coping techniques of oppressed minorities, they have nothing left to lose. My gut feeling is that they will fight for their families and a future. Will Congress restore the rule of law, the public health system, and provide jobs for the youth? Will the troops knell with them?

    If not, this will be the summer of chaos that leads to the triumph of the bipartisan autocracy.

    1. Samuel Conner

      If the 2nd wave is a lot worse than the first, and if Census completion is deferred to 2021, the aftermath of this convention, held the way DJT wants, might conceivably affect Congressional apportionment for the “lucky” state.

    2. Jack Parsons

      Sex workers traveling to & from the con are in danger.

      And there’s a lot of them.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Doesn’t have to be sex workers at all. A few months ago there was a map showing the spread from Florida’s Spring Break of the attendees going by their geo-location of their mobile devices and hence the Coronavirus as well.

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