2:00PM Water Cooler 6/22/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. A geopolitical view:

Not under control. At least in the West.


“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. June 21: NPR and U.S. News forecasts added. And yet the consensus remains stable!

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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Biden (D)(1): “What’s behind Joe Biden’s mystique?” [Thomas Frank, Guardian]. • “I came here to understand the Biden mystique, not to bury it.”

Catering to society’s well-educated winners is no way to run a party of the left: Biden seems to be one of the few mainstream Democrats to have grasped this. He recalled in [his New York Times] interview being told by a Hillary Clinton operative in 2016 that he “had to make a distinction between progressive values and working-class values”.

“I said I’ve never found a distinction,” Biden claimed he replied. “Never found them hard to sell.” He told the Times about white working-class enthusiasm for gender wage equality and some other issues, and then he took this shot at the very heart of modern-day liberalism: “We treat them like they’re stupid. They know they’re in trouble, and nobody’s talking to them. Nobody’s talking to them. That’s what we used to do. That was our base.”

It is a point in Biden’s favor that he understands this problem. But is he the man to resolve it? Much of Biden’s middle-class talk is just an act, his own patented trick for connecting with voters. Yes, Biden looks and sounds like a great guy. I want to like him. But I also know that when the laws were being made, Biden was a different person: the cops’ and the bankers’ best friend. We got empathy; they got the power.

The current protests* suggest Biden’s routine may not be enough. On the other hand, given Donald Trump’s malevolent incompetence, perhaps it is the right moment for a man who promises fundamental decency and little else. My own hope – and it is merely a hope at this point – is that somewhere in the soul of that tongue-tied, old-school Delaware pol flickers the forgotten core value of the Democratic party: solidarity.

To be unfair, Frank got Obama wrong, too (and to be fair, so did many others). As far as “that was our base,” sadly Sanders was unable to rebuild enough of it, by bringing in the working class vote that has abandoned electoral politics entirely. Will Biden be able to? I suppose it’s possible, but I don’t see the Obama Alumni Association or the Resistance Hero Never Trumpers putting solidarity high on their list of values. Is Biden really the man to square that circle? He’d need to have a Sister Souljah moment with the meritocrats. Na ga happen. NOTE * No, they don’t. The strikes do.

Biden (D)(2): “Why Joe Biden Won’t Be President” [Dr. Munr Kazmir, Medium]. “We can tell no one on Biden’s team read Charlamagne’s biography because of the way Joe Biden tried all his normal politician’s tricks of non-answer answers and little contrived mannerisms during the interview; all of which fell as flat as T-Pain without autotune, Why the lack of curiosity about a wildly popular media figure like Charlamagne Tha God? Why the lack of preparation for what was bound to be a contentious interview full of hard questions?- which the Biden team would have been more prepared for, had they read “Black Privilege”. Charlamagne Tha God once told Kanye West that West’s newest album “Yeezus was wack to me,”- to his face. And Kanye West isn’t the only one. Far from it. Charlamagne Tha God certainly has no love for Donald Trump. But there is no way he was impressed with Joe Biden. And that is what should be making voting Democrats the maddest, and most determined to demand accountability from Joe Biden’s campaign staff.” • I have no idea who the author is, but this is an interesting argument and well worth a read.

Cuomo (D)(1): “Andrew Cuomo Is Done With His Daily Press Briefings. The Media Still Wants to Celebrate His Tragic Failure” [Ross Barkan]. “Now the daily briefings are done. ‘Heartbroken ‘Cuomosexuals’ Lament Loss of Daily Coronavirus Briefings’ read a June 19 Daily News headline.” • Oy. More:

Cuomo, de Blasio, and Trump all catastrophically failed to contain the coronavirus. The federal government provided poor guidance and failed to ramp up testing and coordinate with states on any kind of national strategy. De Blasio repeatedly downplayed the threat of COVID-19, telling people to go to their favorite bars and restaurants and take in a movie while the virus was spreading unchecked. On March 16, as he was warning New Yorkers away from gyms, he went to the gym himself, an error of optics that will probably rate a mention in his obituary. He dithered on closing city public schools and canceling parades. His leadership was poor and rightfully judged harshly.

Cuomo’s sins are just as great, if not greater. On March 17, de Blasio—chastened enough by his horrid month of decision-making—suggested residents of New York City should prepare shelter in place, akin to the order given in San Francisco. Cuomo rejected the idea altogether because de Blasio had offered it, only to implement it on March 22 under a new name, “PAUSE.” This pointless delay, as has been detailed elsewhere, likely cost thousands of lives. Though Cuomo was praised for his quick action, he in fact dragged his feet on closing schools statewide—the governors of Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, just to name a few, did it first—and implementing shelter in place.

A shelter in place or shutdown order closes most businesses and only allows essential workers to leave their homes for any length of time. COVID-19 is a highly contagious and mysterious virus; the only way to successfully combat it without a vaccine is to social distance. The earlier a locality is shut down, the more likely people are to live. To this day, thanks to the fast actions taken by Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, and London Breed, the mayor of San Francisco, only 47 people have died from COVID-19 in San Francisco. More people, meanwhile, perished from coronavirus in one New York City nursing home. Cuomo’s decision in March to order nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients likely led to more than 6,000 deaths across the state. In May, without admitting error, Cuomo reversed the policy. At the same time, he has granted nursing homes immunity from lawsuits.

Trump, unfortunately for him, has put himself in a position where he can’t nail Cuomo — and the Blue City Democrats — by pointing any of this out.

Trump (R)(1): “Trump’s 3-Point Plan to Win in 2020” [David Frum, The Atlantic]. “These three developments suggest the three components of the Trump endgame for 2020: 1) Attack the independence and integrity of the legal system; 2) benefit from foreign help and trust that by the time the help is proved, it will be stale news of scant interest to anybody; and 3) benefit from voting obstacles, particularly those that will impede black voting, and super-particularly those that will wedge apart the Democratic coalition on racial lines. (The Trump administration is not directly to blame for the coming mess in Kentucky—states manage elections—but it clearly relishes such situations.)” • Kentucky’s vote-by-mail arrangements are the result of bipartisan agreement between Gov. Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams. However, voting places seem to be controlled at the county level. Although Louisville will have one voting location, that will be the “Kentucky Exposition Center.” On another note, the possibility of “hybrid vigor” between liberal Democrats from the Obama Alumni Association and Never Trumpers from the Bush administration like Frum scares me to death, because — unlike the West Wing — Republicans tend to want to get things done, rather than make speeches. And I don’t think I’ll enjoy what they get done. ObamaCare was bad enough.

Trump (R)(2): “Trump Fights the Last War” [Andrew McCarthy, National Review]. “It worked. To his detriment, though, the president has never allowed himself to acknowledge how narrow — I think, how miraculous — his victory was. Hence, the babble about “the Electoral College landslide.” More to the point, the president now seems not to see how unique were the conditions of the 2016 battleground. Replication of that battle’s plan is not a path to 2020 success.”

Trump (R)(3): Tulsa (1): “Rather than jump-start reelection campaign, Tulsa rally highlights Trump’s vulnerabilities” [Associated Press]. “[T]he president’s message was almost an afterthought as aides tried to explain away a smaller-than-expected crowd that left the president outraged.” • Sanders had great crowds. Biden has terrible crowds. What I want to know is why Trump’s voters didn’t show up, which doesn’t seem to be part of the narrative (any more than it was for Sanders in his attempt to expand the Democrat base).

Trump (R)(4): Tulsa (2):

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.

National Activity Index: “May 2020 CFNAI Super Index Moving Average Index Suggests Economic Growth Modestly Improved” [Econintersect]. “The economy’s rate of growth modestly improved based on the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) 3 month moving (3MA) average – and the economy continues below the historical trend rate of growth…. This index is likely the best coincident indicator of the U.S. economy…. The economy has slowed from its rate of growth in 2018 but now has moved slightly above territory associated with recessions.”

Home Sales: “May 2020 Headline Existing Home Sales Declined Again For Third Month” [Econintersect]. “The NAR believes the drop in home sales is a temporary condition because of the coronavirus. Although it is possible the housing end of the economy could spring back quickly – the depth of the economic contraction will have significant impacts down the line. We are now in the ‘pandemic normal.’ Home prices declined again but maybe next month we will see a fuller effect from the coronavirus. We consider this report weaker than last month.”

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Real Estate: “A short-term surge in warehouse demand could signal long-term changes in supply chain strategies. Industrial real-estate activity jumped 43% from April 15 to May 14 following a steep decline in the previous 30-day period” [Wall Street Journal]. “Companies are now weighing how much of the online sales surge will continue as local economies reopen and consumers step out of lockdowns. Many are accelerating use of hybrid strategies, with fulfillment from stores expanding. The warehouse figures suggest they’re also spreading more inventory around the U.S. to ensure rapid delivery to consumers. CBRE notes there strong growth in short-term leases, a sign that operators are hedging their bets and waiting to see how demand develops in the coming months before refashioning their supply chains for the long haul.”

Retail: “Not all retailers are rushing adapt to post-pandemic sales strategies to online shopping. Discount apparel chain T.J. Maxx is standing by its austere approach that has kept e-commerce sales to a miniscule level… while betting that consumers are desperate to roam the aisles after months in lockdowns” [Wall Street Journal]. “The chain stopped taking online orders during the lockdowns and even now is limiting the number of items for sale on its website.”

Shipping: “Strong volumes spilling over into capacity” [Freight Waves]. “Freight volumes remained strong this week and remain well above both 2018 and 2019 levels. Capacity has taken a long time to react to these elevated volume levels. Tender rejections are finally reaching levels that may suggest upward pressure on rates….. The Rust Belt continues to outperform relative to other regions of the country. The Commerce Department released industrial production data for May this week. Most industries posted small rebounds, but automotive vehicles and parts posted the largest gain. It seems volumes have stabilized at this high level for the meantime. Factories are open, consumers are beginning to travel again and consumer spending data rebounded in a big way in May. The worst of the recessionary environment is behind us, but how long freight volumes can run this high will depend on the consumer, who is being partly propped up by government stimulus and generous unemployment benefits.” • Seems insanelly optimistic to me, but trucks on the road outweigh my feelings! Let’s see if this persists, or goes sideways (or pear-shaped).

Pandemic: “Fear of Infection Hurt the Economy More Than Lockdowns” [Bloomberg]. “There’s good reason, though, to believe that most of the economic damage from the lockdowns weren’t due to stay-at-home orders, but because of public fear of the virus. For example, people started avoiding restaurants before lockdowns began in late March….. [N]ew lockdowns need not be as restrictive as the ones in March to protect the public. Instead of mandating that everyone stay at home, they could simply ban large indoor social gatherings and indoor restaurant and bar seating, while requiring that companies continue work-from-home policies. Everything else — indoor retail, outdoor gatherings, small indoor social interactions — could be allowed, with the additional requirement that masks be worn in stores or at outdoor events…. This sort of lockdown-lite might achieve the best of both worlds for states and cities experiencing coronavirus spikes. But it also needs to be paired with vigorous testing, contact tracing and isolation of infected people. Most states still either haven’t hired enough contact tracers to track new infections, or aren’t doing enough testing — or both.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 52 Neutral (previous close: 53 Neutral;) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 22 at 11:57am.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 184. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing. I feel apocalyptic. Why don’t these guys?

The Biosphere

“A controversial Russian theory claims forests don’t just make rain—they make wind” [Science]. “For more than a decade, Makarieva has championed a theory, developed with Victor Gorshkov, her mentor and colleague at the Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute (PNPI), on how Russia’s boreal forests, the largest expanse of trees on Earth, regulate the climate of northern Asia. It is simple physics with far-reaching consequences, describing how water vapor exhaled by trees drives winds: winds that cross the continent, taking moist air from Europe, through Siberia, and on into Mongolia and China; winds that deliver rains that keep the giant rivers of eastern Siberia flowing; winds that water China’s northern plain, the breadbasket of the most populous nation on Earth. With their ability to soak up carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, the world’s great forests are often referred to as the planet’s lungs. But Makarieva and Gorshkov, who died last year, say they are its beating heart, too. “Forests are complex self-sustaining rainmaking systems, and the major driver of atmospheric circulation on Earth,” Makarieva says. They recycle vast amounts of moisture into the air and, in the process, also whip up winds that pump that water around the world. The first part of that idea—forests as rainmakers—originated with other scientists and is increasingly appreciated by water resource managers in a world of rampant deforestation. But the second part, a theory Makarieva calls the biotic pump, is far more controversial.”

“Planet of the Humans backlash” [Yves Engler]. “It is a statement of fact that environmental groups have deep ties to the corporate set. Almost all the major environmental groups receive significant cash from the mega-rich or their foundations. Many of them partner directly with large corporations. Additionally, their outreach strategies often rely on corporate media and other business mediated spheres. It beggar’s belief that these dependencies don’t shape their policy positions. A number of the film’s points on ‘renewable’ energy are also entirely uncontroversial. It’s insane to label ripping down forests for energy as “green”. Or turning cropland into fuel for private automobiles. The film’s depiction of the minerals/resource/space required for solar and wind power deserves a far better response than ‘the data is out of date’. The green establishment’s hyperventilating over the film suggests an unhealthy fixation/link to specific ‘renewable’ industries.

“Five Foods You Can Substitute For Garden Fertilizer” [Modern Farmer]. “Plants thrive on a number of micronutrients, but the three common ingredients found in store bought fertilizer include nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium—otherwise known as NPK. And all of these essential nutrients can likely be found right in your home. If you don’t want to leave your house to purchase plant food, chances are you don’t have to. We’ve put together a list of five foods likely in your kitchen that you can use instead of making a trip to your garden store for fertilizer. ” • Coffee grounds, egg shells, milk, fish, banana peels. I’ve had good luck with the first two, never tried the last three! Basic idea: Let nothing organic leave the property.


“Modern Monetary Theory: Neither modern, nor monetary, nor (mainly) theoretical?” [Crooked Timber (AA)]. “The relationship between academic and popular MMT is complex. On the one hand, economists who espouse MMT understand that the ‘free money’ view is incorrect. On the other hand, they favour a more expansionary fiscal policy, which implies at least some increase in expenditure relative to taxation. Moreover, like most people who find themselves leading a popular movement, they find it more appealing to criticise the errors of their opponents than those of their supporters. The result in many cases is a ‘motte and bailey’ rhetorical strategy in which MMT advocates make strong statements which sound as if they match the popular view, but retreat to a less interesting but more defensible position (the ‘motte’ in the medieval castle that gives rise to the analogy) when challenged. With all these complexities in mind, the publication of Macroeconomics by Mitchell, Wray and Watts is a welcome development.”

Screening Room

“The Immense Political Insight of The Land Before Time III: The Time of the Great Giving” [Benjamin Studebaker]. “The Land Before Time understood something we do not. [Dinosaur] Daddy Topps says angry, racist things because he is afraid. He is afraid because he is a single dad, raising his daughter alone in a dangerous world where everything good is precarious. The series unflinchingly opposes Daddy Topps’ racism while showing him immense compassion. The dinosaurs all recognise that the way to deal with Daddy Topps’ racism is to deal with the things that are terrifying him. If he’s doing racist stuff, it’s because he’s worried that his daughter won’t have enough water, the solution is to get him water. Yelling at him won’t make anything better. Indeed, part of the reason Daddy Topps does racist stuff is that yelling and fighting are all he knows. As he says in his song, his father said ‘stand and fight, don’t run away.'”

Class Warfare

“The Secret Reason Billionaires Love a Pandemic” [Lee Camp, Consortium News]. “Billionaires in the U.S. have seen their fortunes skyrocket, increasing by 12.5 percent since the pandemic began. The Institute for Policy Studies released a study “showing that, in the eight weeks between March 18 and May 14, the country’s super wealthy have added a further $368.8 billion to their already enormous fortunes.’ That’s a jaw-dropping-fall-over-and-have-a-seizure level of wealth, yet nothing new. … In a study covered in the Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that higher social class predicted an increase in unethical behavior. They showed that the rich are more likely to make unethical decisions, steal from others, break the law while driving, and cheat in contests. And yet the rich are the ones who control our government and our economy. Not only should they be kept out of leadership positions, they shouldn’t even be out on the streets. We have to keep our kids safe, don’t we? The exorbitantly rich should be put in facilities where they can be monitored and receive the treatment they require.”

“When Rich New Yorkers Fled, These Workers Kept the City Running” [New York Times]. “The sidewalks of Mount Hope fill up early with essential workers. The health care and construction workers come out first, followed by the delivery drivers, grocery store clerks, security guards, building porters and countless others. They make their home in this hilltop neighborhood of 53,000 in the Bronx that has been an anchor against the coronavirus. From there, they disperse to all corners of the borough, the city and beyond to provide the services that other people count on in a global health crisis.” • Why don’t we do something nice for them? Like double their wages?

Woke insurance:

SoHo would “return to its pre-gentrication past” if the real estate deals that gentrified it were unwound. Do better, New Yorker.

“United Airlines Catering Workers See Hours Cut Despite Low Pay” [Forbes]. “The International Association of Machinists blocked United Airlines from reducing weekly hours for thousands of workers, but nothing has kept the airline from doing the same for its lowest paid workers, employed in its catering kitchens. Those 2,500 workers are members of Unite Here and work in kitchens in Newark, Houston, Denver, Honolulu and Cleveland. Their starting salaries range from $10.39 an hour in Houston to $15.60 an hour in Newark…. Unlike the IAM, the largest union at United, Unite Here does not yet have a contract with United. Catering workers joined the union in 2018, but so far contract negotiations have stalled. IAM represents about 28,000 United employees including fleet service workers and passenger service agents.”

News of the Wired

“We’re not talking to you, we’re talking to Saturn” [London Review of Books]. “Like AI research, Meti has the potential to expose us to a vastly superior intelligence that could either solve all our problems or obliterate us entirely. Historically, encounters between technologically better and worse-off societies haven’t worked out well for the worse-off. In the middle of a crisis calling for help is seductive, but there’s no guarantee that the aliens that get the message will be ]friendly].”

“What are Optotypes? About the history of eye charts and their fonts” [I Love Typography]. “The next significant development in visual acuity chart design was the Snellen Eye Chart, which is recognizable to most Americans from visits to the DMV. The Snellen Eye Chart was designed by Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Snellen in 1862…. At first glance, it may appear that the Snellen optotypes are Lubalin Graph or Rockwell. But upon detailed examination, it is evident that these characters are rather atypical. Unlike typical typefaces in which letter proportions are determined by ‘family’ groupings (such as n, r, m, h and u), Snellen optotypes are designed on a 5 x 5 grid. Furthermore, they comprise a very limited character-set of just 9-10 letters. Optotypes are designed using a simple geometry in which the weight of the lines is equal to the negative space between lines…. As a result of continual refinements, most of today’s Snellen Charts follow logarithmic progression, have improved letter designs, and a uniform 25% progression from line to line.” • I have extremely positive assocations with the Snellen Eye Chart, since optometry allowed me to see the chalkboard in school, which nobody realized I couldn’t do until the Third Grade.

“How the genetic code was cracked, with paper and pencil and no computers” [WaPo]. “Scientists had to figure out how a double helix of just four building blocks could be translated into proteins, the molecules that are the basis of living tissues — and they had to do so without the help of computer spreadsheets. A painstakingly handwritten chart preserved by the U.S. National Library of Medicine shows how complicated the feat was…. As they went along, their working chart — made of multiple pieces of taped-together paper — gained a vast collection of letter combinations, stars and circles. Nirenberg shared the 1968 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his work on the code, a discovery that is known as one of the most significant in the history of science.” • Here’s the chart!

“Using Fibonacci Numbers to Convert from Miles to Kilometers and Vice Versa” [Catonmat]. “I recently learned an interesting fact about Fibonacci numbers while watching a random number theory video on YouTube. Fibonacci numbers can be used to approximately convert from miles to kilometers and back. Here is how. Take two consecutive Fibonacci numbers, for example 5 and 8. And you’re done converting. No kidding – there are 8 kilometers in 5 miles. To convert back just read the result from the other end – there are 5 miles in 8 km!” • Handy, although I suppose I’d have to tatoo the Fibonacci sequence on some body part to have it ready for calculation at all times. (Read to the end for the explanation.)

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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 (CP):

CP writes: “From Highland Park, site of the annual Lilac Festival in Rochester, NY. A small but lovely Olmsted park, the third week of May brings flowering trees, the fragrances of which are usually smothered by sizzling sausage and sticky funnel cake stands. Not This Year! We neighbors will be at peace and visitors will smell the lilacs.” I like the square format.

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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. fresno dan


    When Donald Trump was a presidential candidate, his impulse — and, as we’ve seen, there is no seven-second delay between an impulse and its verbalizing — was to assert that his sister would be a “phenomenal” nominee should a Supreme Court vacancy open up. Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, the president’s older sister who has since retired from the Third Circuit federal appeals court, was a dogmatic supporter of abortion. Trump’s suggestion thus caused consternation on the right, particularly among legal scholars and social conservatives. He realized a retraction was in order, tout de suite.

    The incident turned out to be significant. Trump was not necessarily persuaded by the virtues of originalism and limited government (though we can always hope). He did, however, grasp the power of the issue, its galvanizing effect on the voters he was wooing.
    I did not know that about Trump’s sister. Well, I knew she was on a court, but I didn’t know she was a freedom of choice proponent….

    1. a different chris

      Good example (his anti-abortion stance) of why I keep saying Trump isn’t actually a racist any more than he is Pro Life. He wields things like racism and abortion like a carpenter uses hammers and saws. It’s all about getting power however he can find it.

      Not that it matters (or should) to us normals, but Know Your Enemy if you want to defeat him. This kind of thing is what makes him such a slippery fish.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        I definitely agree with you about abortion being an instrumentality for Trump, but having observed him for forty years, I can fairly say he really is a bigot. He’s made bigoted statements – his screeds about the Central Park Five were disgusting – ,for decades, and he grew up in a bigoted household with a domineering father who was arrested at a (anti-Irish Catholic) Klan demonstration in Queens in the 1920’s. You don’t need to believe that Trump is some kind of unique evil to acknowledge his deep-seated (and often grotesque) bigotry.

  2. fresno dan

    “We’re not talking to you, we’re talking to Saturn” [London Review of Books].

    “Like AI research, Meti has the potential to expose us to a vastly superior intelligence that could either solve all our problems or obliterate us entirely. Historically, encounters between technologically better and worse-off societies haven’t worked out well for the worse-off.
    I imagine we would be taken as pets by the superior aliens. Considering how well many pets are treated, that would be a step up for many. Unless your young enough to be concerned about neutering….
    I’d probably get to sleep as much as I want (like now) but I would have a more high end diet.
    I, for one, welcome our pet loving overlords…

    1. Zagonostra

      Reminds me of Solaris, one of my favorite scifi films based on a Stanisław Lem story. At least in Solaris the alien planet consciousness is curious enough to interact with the humans onboard the space craft instead of jettisoning the humans and treating them as “non-human.”

      1. LifelongLib

        That didn’t do the humans any good though. IIRC at the end they had all been replaced by constructs that the Solaris intelligence fabricated based on their memories.

        1. RMO

          We’ve been blasting radio signals all around for decades and decades now. It’s kind of too late to worry about this sort of thing. Just hope that if there are other technological civilizations out there and that they have figured out practical interstellar travel that they will be either benevolent or have a hands off policy.

    2. Jessica

      The Dark Forest By: Cixin Liu
      is a fascinating exploration of possible results from calling out to other intelligent civilizations in a well-crafted SF tale. This is the second book of the trilogy and I recommend the first book too, but you could read just this second one.

    3. John A

      I, for one, welcome our pet loving overlords…

      Not to mention having them follow you around and pick up your poo.

  3. fresno dan

    • I have extremely positive assocations with the Snellen Eye Chart, since optometry allowed me to see the chalkboard in school, which nobody realized I couldn’t do until the Third Grade.
    I too had it discovered that I was near sighted in 2nd grade.

    1. Savedbyirony

      Another one here. How I struggled in first grade trying to copy assignments off the board. My first glasses were a revelation of the world to me.

  4. arielle

    Abt the Charlamagne article: T-Pain does not need autotune to be tuneful. He has an absolutely beautiful voice. I recommend the unplugged version of “I’m N Love” [with a Stripper].

    1. JohnnyGL

      Regardless of the facts, the joke worked well on me and I actually laughed out loud at it. The handful of songs that I can name with him involved, he’s heavily auto-tuned.

      On a whim, I checked one of the links used to illustrate the point that Charlamagne appreciates honesty and dishes out plenty of it, even when inconvenient. His critique of Niki Minaj’s ‘flow being wack’ was indeed accurate.

      Anyway, back to the article. Being brutally honest was never an option for Biden as he’s always been a liar. He’s a personable, empathetic liar, but he’s still a corrupt liar.

      The other point about his team being sloppy has been in evidence for the entirety of the campaign. Matt Stoller pointed out early on that Biden’s 1) lazy 2) a liar and 3) impossible to manage and won’t delegate to the team.

      It’s really remarkable how lucky Biden has been this cycle. If it were a head-to-head in 2016, I think HRC would have beaten Biden, and probably pretty handily. However, in 2020, the landscape is very different and Americans have been primed for his approach of fluffy, empathetic nostalgia by recent events. Trump has fumbled the ball to Biden on the pandemic and again on the response to the protests.

      1. Jen

        “3) impossible to manage and won’t delegate to the team.”

        I have a bad feeling about this.

      2. Massinissa

        How do 1 and 3 even add up? How can one both be lazy and avoid delegating tasks?

        Add those together, and like Jen above, “I have a bad feeling about this”.

        1. Jessica

          1+3 = He won’t do it, but he won’t let someone else do it either.
          2021 would have to be the complete opposite of 2020 for that to work.

  5. fresno dan

    White House aides are saying @parscale should have realized 800,000 people with the names Dick Hurtz and Ura Kunt were fake.

    Just another test of the moderation filter. I can never figure it out, but it always amuses me. Intromittent organ gets …. in …. without a problem,
    but a quote from National Review gets me moderated. Undoubtedly, a lot of stuff from National Review is obscene, but not to meet the supreme court definition (my quote is about the court)

  6. Angie Neer

    CP: Re the photo, I agree with Lambert about the square format, but I also love the layering of textures, the contrast in depth from foreground flowers to the background trees, and how the shape of the bare branch echoes a similar shape in the tops of the flowers. Beautiful!

  7. Mikel

    RE: “Fear of Infection Hurt the Economy More Than Lockdowns” [Bloomberg].

    If people don’t have a condition that puts them in the danger zone, someone close to them does.
    Simple as that. Other people don’t respect it and there will be a stalemate in “return to gatherings” because of it.

  8. Samuel Conner

    The “household substitutes for store-bought fertilizer” item is useful, but it occurs to me that

    * coffee is unsustainably produced at present

    * bananas — worse, Cavendish is on the way out due to pandemic fungus

    * fish — we need to consume less fish in order to let the world’s fisheries recover

    I would be more interested in safe ways of “repurposing” bio-sourced “greens” and “browns” (composting-speak for nitrogen- and carbon-rich components) produced within the “household economy” that are currently being flushed into undermaintained sewage management systems.

    Granting that economies are at root about providing food, as well as other necessities, to people, and given the problems of current unsustainable agriculture, one is reminded of Victor Hugo’s famous discussion of the sewers of Paris, that were a bleeding wound in the body politic of France.

    1. dcblogger

      fish and milk smell terrible when decomposing. ok for outdoor gardens I guess, but NOT container gardens.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Joseph Jenkins wrote a book called Humanure, which he keeps updating. Earlier versions are pdf-downloadably free with some searching on internet.

      Here is a much abbreviated abstract with links at the bottom.

      And here is something about one of his very simple humanure-compostoilet designs.

      Things like this will allow Suburbistan to survive long after Big Cityville has gone extinct.

    3. JohnnySacks

      “Let nothing organic leave the property”
      Micro-quantifying what goes to the bin is a non-starter for us. The stuff we’re supposed to not put in the bin stinks up the entire house when it’s in the trash can. I’ll end up sending it through a shredder to break up bones or sifting it, or simply not bother, so what, when it eventually goes in the garden. Bin has 2 sides, one to rot, the other for yard waste to cover the rot and suppress the smell.

    4. Michael McK

      If you want to make fertilizer from food grade ingredients aroung the house pee in a bottle. Close the lid each time but don’t fill it all the way up (or transfer it to a larger storage/fermenting bottle). Let it oxidize and ferment for a week or two. It becomes the most sustainable liquid fertilizer around. A healthy diet low in processed food will not have too much Sodium and a good dose of Potassium and Phosphorous. A quick look at he internet suggests urine’s NPK ratio could be from 11:2:4 to 2.8:0.18:0.15 so you need to think about your diet and experiment.

      1. Copeland

        Yep, been doing it for years. Makes the plants grow like crazy, especially flint/dry corn.

        Also, we put absolutely everything into the compost bin.

    5. L

      I disagree with the contention of “consume less fish” in actuality we need to consume more of the “right” fish which is to say sustainably harvested fish like U.S. wild caught (see NOAA) and less of things that are unsustainable which is imported fish or, worse yet, farmed fish which consumes more food than wild and brings other related problems.

    6. a different chris

      Don’t think I need to tell anybody not to put fish in their compost pile.

      However, I believe it was the Native Americans that planted with a fish added to every mound? But of course, they were primitive and didn’t know anything. /s

      No idea how they kept various animals from digging it up again.

      1. Michael Mck

        Not quite. That is how my Puritan ancestors described it. I have since heard that the fish were eaten and deposited as a stool the next morning under a planting mound.
        As to L above, there are no sustainable sources of wild fish. There is also rampant fraud as to where the supply chain leads. Perhaps the new tech Nordic Aqua Farms land based systems are close to sustainable if fed truly waste protein since they take advantage of cold blooded fishes excellent protein conversion abilities. Of course all the pumps etc would need to use clean energy. To the minor extent you can find or harvest a groovy fish you the enlightened thing to do is leave it be to be harvested by someone who could not care less about sustainability in the hopes it takes pressure off overfished places.

        1. Felix_47

          When it comes to white fish the fraud is so extensive we have to do DNA testing on it to find out where it came from.

      2. ArcadiaMommy

        We have a little worm farm that composts for us. It’s been great. Has a small footprint and much less work than a compost pile. It is gross to have the worms mailed to you. I’m sure the mailman was irritated with us.

    7. polecat

      We compost everything, from the hen’s ‘production’.. to the scraps from the kitchen. EVERYTHING!

      So far, the surrounds .. but especially the berries, find it to their liking .. it’s a jungle out there, truly!

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        us, too.
        everything goes somewhere.
        pee currently goes into the gully(via the diverting funnel in the dry composting toilet), where it’s currently feeding a bald cypress(!–my hypothesis is that the roots will one day reach the 100′ ground water level, and start pumping it up)…and cattails and willows.
        Dry composting toilet barrels, when half full, go out to pasture for a year(there are 13 of them), then are dumped out wherever trees are or will be.
        everything else goes in the compost…milk products(for the bacteria within them…especially various cheese rinds and sour cream that goes pink because i’m the only one who likes it)…bones(phosphorus…something we’ll all wish we had more of in the next decade or two…and the possums dig for them, thus turning the pile for me)…and, of course, everything that’s a plant.
        leaves in fall, and whatever animal manure i come across…including the “dregs” from cow patty tea, that goes on the roots of everything in the garden(generally dry patties…but with a few wet/fresh ones, for the micro flora and fauna…collected from neighbor’s enormous spread, so i have an excuse to roam and take in the view)…i add whatever fruit the squirrels thin, nibble and drop to this horrific concoction(smells like Victory!), for the sugar, so it ferments a bit.
        and millet and vetch and pea greens from the cover cropping that got out of hand this year(I’m forever pulling this stuff)
        Two tentative nearby sources of great quantities of horseshit were happened upon last night, when my eldest had 4 people over for a (properly social distanced) cook out on the pit….and the Pit and the woodstoves and the brush burning!…all that ash and charcoal goes into the piles, too—potash.
        and activated charcoal(hillbilly Tiera Prieta, mostly from mesquite and storm-downed oak.
        (Amfortas breathes deeply, and collapses back into his nest)

        1. GERMO

          I’m constantly looking at coffee grounds/eggshells/kitchen rubbish of all sorts — and then I see our friends the rats outside who live under a shed here in this suburban plot…
          How do you do composting without creating a rat apocalypse of some sort?!?

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            I’m friends with the local Texas Rat Snake cohort.
            we do have voles and field mice, but between the cat, the snakes and the hawks and owls, it’s never been a problem, here.
            the really cool thing is that the actual trash…the stuff that goes to the dump…contains nothing that the coons, etc find interesting.
            so i can put it on the porch for the night before taking it to the trash cage in the morning, without worrying about it being strewn hither and yon.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              of course, you could get a pellet gun or make a bolo out of tough string and 3 lug nuts,lol
              now that’s entertainment!
              or build a better compost bin…5 pallets(i get them for free), and some chicken wire and tie wire.
              my main bins are the housings of washers and dryers…the barrels and tubs from which are now big planters for herbs and such(waste not…).
              but i have piles going in future raised beds, too…all over the place.
              add the muck from the goose pools to compost inputs…and the feathers and goosecrap from where they bivouac for the night.
              with compost, i’m either a beast or a god….depending on who you ask/

          2. Michael Mck

            Most of my compostables go into the mini chicken coops (they have no bottoms but do have wire skirts). The compost (and random yummy greens) gets eaten and pooped out and stirred by the birds. Every once in a while I move them and collect the soil replacing it with wood chips or just dig out a bit now and then. The compost is as safe from rats as the chickens are from raccoons (it is not perfect). If I am gone for a few days they can just dig around for bugs down deep. They get let out to forage when I am around to put them back in the evening if there are not baby plants in the vegi garden. Though one year they were on total lockdown after I lost a few to a Golden Eagle. It was worth loosing a chicken to to see the Eagle up close and in action as I realized where they had been disappearing to..
            I also have a poorly managed pile of weeds and grass clumps etc that are not attractive to rodents that I use eventually for mulch if they don’t turn to dirt first.

          3. Chris

            I use plastic compost bins with close-fitting lids. First attempt led to a rat issue – they’d burrow in underneath (rats love fresh worms). Modified the setup by putting the bins on either concrete pavers or perforated steel sheet. No rats now…

    8. Felix_47

      Dry composting works well. I have used it for years. Get yourself a dry composting toilet. It escapes me as to why people in hot climates don’t just set up these things and it is not like it is expensive. Now I admit I am in a desert environment for this. The key is not to mix liquids with the brown. The liquid has to go somewhere else.

  9. Mikerw0

    I have long thought that Trump, being essentialy a one trick pony, would rerun 2016. The elements being:

    1. Make a ton of noise as it crowds out everything else

    2. Say outrageous things — keeps NY Times, CNN, MSNBC, etc. tied up in knots breathlessly commenting of his latest statement.

    3. Have the October surprise, courtesy of Barr, in his hip pocket. Something along the lines of Biden is under investigation, but we can’t say more right now.

    I also assumed he would have some new lines. To his credit as a bumper sticker MAGA works and Hillary had, wait what did she have.

    That said, Tulsa was worrisome to Trump as he hasn’t shown he can play from behind if he really wants to win, from the highlights I saw it was not even a good rerun of best one liners.

    1. Briny

      My expectation is that the Durham probe drops something in September with actual charges occuring in October.

      1. dcrane

        The topic of the Durham probe seems to lead to the CIA and figures like Brennan. Is Trump really brave enough to threaten such people with consequences?

    2. The Rev Kev

      He could bring in Medicare for all and win in a landslide. Even the 70-odd million non-voters would come out and vote for that. Can you imagine the Democrats and Biden trying to explain to Americans that it would be a terrible idea? What are they going to say – “But how will we pay for it?”

  10. dcblogger

    Trump’s biggest problem is that he is president, so he owns every bad thing that happens, and we are just beginning hurricane and fire season.

    Biden’s biggest problem is that coronavirus is disproportionately killing the Democratic base, plus many others will be too traumatized by eviction/foreclosure to vote.

    1. Glen

      Biden’s biggest problem is that he is going to make Herbert Hoover look good and wreck the Democratic brand for the next generation. He is neolibreal to his core, and that’s going to work out like pouring gasoline on a raging fire in the New Great Depression.

      1. L

        I’m not sure I buy that. I really think that Biden is a political creature without a core. Looking over his career he has a long bad habit of marching to the current tune, whatever it is, be it polite racism, neoliberal triangulation, or market-based healthcare. My fear is not that he is Hoover who, for all his faults, believed in his actions, but that he is like Obama. Outside of the things he truly cared about he was content to go with “prevailing wisdom” and didn’t fight which means that he will passively continue neoliberalism and perhaps even be talked into the odd war if it polls well.

        Symbolic change, not structural.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I can only partly agree with your assessment of Biden. I believe it was true that Biden was once a political creature without a core. His present condition suggests he is something a great deal than that. Who would be his Vice-President and Cabinet and who would select them? I think of Biden as a second term Reagan without an astrologer to fall back on. Second term Reagan served as cover for Bush senior and his cadres at the CIA. Who stands behind Biden? That’s a wild card that almost makes the known predations of Trump preferable.

          You suggest Biden would bring symbolic change, not structural. I strongly disagree with that. If Biden does nothing but drool for four years the CARES Act has already laid the foundation for far-reaching structural changes, changes I greatly fear, whose shape and dire impacts darken the future of our country. If Biden ‘acts’ — or more accurately — if his surrogates act, I believe they will augment and worsen the CARES impacts already underway perhaps adding in a few most unhappy foreign ‘adventures’.

          [I cannot think of any of our recent Presidents who might reasonably be compared with Herbert Hoover. Hoover didn’t know how to handle the Great Depression but I believe he possessed a high degree of general competence which seems all the more remarkable for the lack thereof in our present choices for high office.]

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            From the various people Biden has aligned himself with, I would say Biden likes to punch down when he feels he can get away with it. This is his core, to find where he can punch down.

          2. dcblogger

            Biden is Karl I, the ineffectual leader who will be incapable of stopping the coming implosion.

          3. L

            I think you may be missing a word there so I am not sure whether you mean less than that or more. But in either case I share your concern about cover. Biden is clearly surrounded most closely by the existing DNC apparatchiks and he will listen to them so I expect nothing more than kinder gentler neoliberalism perhaps with one or two kindnesses for the middle class. But for the most part I expect him to do what the Rahm Emmanuels and the Larry Summers’ of the world say. Despite his rhetoric I don’t think he really understands just how much has changed, or how precarious thiungs really are.

            As to the point about symbolic and structural I think we are actually in agreement. I did not mean that Biden was symbolic not structural with respect to say Sanders. I means that he was symbolic not structural with respect to Trump.

            I expect that under the cover of his uncle Joe face many of the structural damages that Trump has wrought will continue. For all his criticism of Trump Biden has been remarkably light on promises to roll back any of his initiatives or undo any of his actual policies. I for one am more concerned about the Tax cuts than the CARES act but Biden has been too amenable to the idea of tax cuts and bailouts for the top and too interested in bipartisan triangulation against Unions and Social Security to actually defend it in the face of even token Republican opposition. Obama promised Card Check and union Joe didn’t even try.

            You have a point about Hoover. He was after all a real self made man and someone w against who was competent. But in his gospel of free market he was as true a dogmatist as many we have had.

            1. Jeremy Grimm

              Sorry — I did proof my comment a couple of times. “LESS”! I too often see what I expect to see instead of what’s there.

              And I just finished watching “Golddiggers of 1933” and some of the commentary with it. I have to drop Hoover down quit a lot after being reminded that he was still President at the time of the Bonus March. He seems more like some of our recent Presidents than I had thought.

              I didn’t think you disagreed with me. I wanted to emphasize how serious I believe the consequences of the CARES Act will be. Trump or Bidden … will do nothing or make things even worse although they might differ in some of the details and perhaps in which predators enjoy the plum allocations of the spoils.

            2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Biden can no more “listen to his aides” than he can read lines off a teleprompter without flubbing them. We all know that Jill should be up for elder abuse charges.

              Only two things matter: who is writing those teleprompter lines, and who will be the next president of the US (that is to say Biden’s VP).

              Rest assured that the business as usual neo-con neo-lib Wall St lackeys that got us where we are today are writing the lines. So you’d need to be convinced that Trump is worse than them. I’m not.

              Regarding the next VP/Actual President, you would know that no matter what else they must believe in the destruction of our history a la removing the FDR statue in the Museum of Natural History because it is “problematic”. That is 100% of what I need to know about said candidate. No, I don’t think Trump is worse than that.

              So I guess I’m planning on voting for “lesser evilism”. So be it. On the day I might get disgusted and write in Huey Long or Donald Duck but there is not one single solitary chance I would reward the Hilary/Obama soft FBI coup smiling lying neo-con crowd with a Biden vote.

    2. a different chris

      > is disproportionately killing the Democratic base


      It is certainly disproportionately killing black people, but they aren’t the base more like the normal margin of victory. Old people are the Republican Party’s base, and they are not doing well at all either.

      Think it’s a wash at least at this moment.

      1. polecat

        The Democrat Party has become that of powder to a Wig! In other words ..Passe’.

        I’ll Never vote blue again! The ludicrous Kintecloth knee bending stunt was the last straw for me, and They broke it.

    3. GF

      DJT is heading to Yuma AZ tomorrow to inspect the new border wall then will jet off to Phoenix for a talk with republican students. Forecast is 110 in the shade.. Maybe a little heat stroke will slow things down?

  11. Darius

    Regarding food scraps: I understand that showering your soil with even organic NPK disrupts the mycorrhizal fungus network. Composted food scraps in general would have much less of a drastic effect and are loaded with micro-organisms.

    I have a jury-rigged and probably half-baked bucket compost system for food scraps. I’m quite proud of it. I don’t have the patience and organization skill for a formal bokashi system. It’s all basically pickling anyway. It doesn’t result in finished compost, but mostly pickled banana peels, apple cores, corn husks, egg shells, and anything else out of the kitchen, except for meat and fats. Anything moldy also goes in.

    It all rapidly finishes decomposing after I put it on the garden and within a week, looks like brown mulch. I have an area that was dug up by the gas company and was raw dirt. After a year of kitchen scraps, it already has worms in it and big tomato vines.

  12. Moshe Braner

    Pouring milk and fish on the garden to avoid buying fertilizer is the equivalent of burning the furniture to stay warm. Or worse. By all means if you happen to have spoiled milk, but it’s easy to avoid spoiling it in the first place. OK, fish skins and bones are classic fertilizer.

  13. epynonymous

    The land before time piece is likely recycled from youtuber Jenny Nicholsons video on that exact topic 3 weeks ago.

    It’s skippable, but Defuntlands vid on Coney Island was the best.

    1. a different chris

      If you (not you, general “you”) refuse to believe the science behind global warming and other downsides of oil extraction despite being smart enough to understand it…

      …then you will quite easily move on to not understanding the world oil business has changed* economically and that you need to also.

      This is not a restatement of “his paycheck depends on him not understanding it”… actually his future paycheck, or more likely lack thereof if he doesn’t, depends on figuring it out.

      *A polite way of saying it…

  14. Carla

    “lockdown-lite might achieve the best of both worlds for states and cities experiencing coronavirus spikes. But it also needs to be paired with vigorous testing, contact tracing and isolation of infected people. Most states still either haven’t hired enough contact tracers to track new infections, or aren’t doing enough testing — or both.”

    Huh uh. No way contact tracing will ever work now. “Public health” authorities have ZERO credibility with the American people after the last 3 months of lies and obfuscations. I seriously doubt many Americans will submit to questioning and turn over their contacts to tracers who work for the weasels. Heckuva a job, Fauci et al. “Masks don’t work!” “Save the masks for health care workers who really need them.” “Be sure to wear a mask whenever you leave the house.” Etc., etc., etc.

    1. Keith

      Even the rosters than people are supposed to sign in would be gamed, a la Richard Hurtz :). Would you feel comfortable giving this information to the govt rather than contacting your friends and family yourself, without having to put them of the govt’s dossier?

  15. Mark Dempsey

    FYI, here’s my review of Stephanie Kelton’s The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      In general, we look with disfavor on link-whoring. It would be better to give an excerpt from the post, give us a reason to go there, and then include the link (as indeed is best for any source).

      1. Briny

        Yes, indeed. The reason I dedicate time every day to Naked Capitilism is not just the collection of curated links but that my interest is whetted by the very relevant excerpts. So, thanks team!

      2. Mark Dempsey

        I bow to the superior blogger. Here’s an excerpt:

        Economist Stephanie Kelton’s new book about Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) explains the fundamental difference between governments that are currency issuers and households that are currency users. Rather than “tax and spend”–the household pattern–MMT says people need dollars to pay those taxes, so government must spend them first before it can ask for them to return in taxes. It’s not “tax and spend,” it must be “spend first, then retrieve some dollars in taxes.”

        What do we call the dollars left in the economy, not paid in taxes? Answer #1: the dollar financial assets of the population. Answer #2: National ‘debt.’ Both answers describe exactly the same thing, just as your bank account is your asset, but the bank’s liability. The idea of depositors marching down to their bank to demand it reduce its liabilities is…well, not very sensible, but it’s literally the kind of thing proposed by deficit hawks like the late Pete Peterson. The Myth Kelton debunks is that deficits are harmful to currency issuers as they are to currency users

        1. Mel

          Kelton’s book has a whole chapter on Entitlements, explaining very well what they’re for and how important they are. For people like Joe Biden who missed school that day.

          1. Massinissa

            He didn’t miss school that day. He knows what they’re for and just doesn’t care, like 90%+ of modern Democrats. He doesn’t actually care about working class people. They only care about the Donor class, except unlike the Republicans they pretend to care about the working class on TV. This has been the game plan since at least the Clinton era. You think the Dem’s changed ‘welfare as we know it’ by some kind of accident?

      3. farmboy

        guilty as implicated, but sometimes the story is soo good! and i looked for Terry Pritchett everywhere, no luck

      4. Oh

        I prefer that. Most people ask for a link when they don’t want to accept a person’s comment. As if the info in the link is unimpeachable. Just saying..

  16. flora

    Glad to see The Guardian has returned Thomas Frank from Coventry.
    This para in Frank’s article is a good summation of where the Dem estab is now, imo.

    And in the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, that conventional wisdom would seem to have found its man: he stands on behalf of no great causes, just a return to the consensus days of yore.

    The flaw in this viewpoint is that the consensus days of yore were a dreadful time. What bipartisan centrism meant, in Biden’s heyday, was deliberate, state-sponsored cruelty on a scale so vast it is difficult to comprehend. It meant baked-in racial discrimination. It meant imprisoning enormous numbers of our fellow citizens for using drugs – especially crack cocaine, whose users (disproportionately African American) were singled out for horrendously harsh retribution. It meant three-strikes laws. Mandatory minimum sentencing. Unlimited funding for police departments. A boom in prison construction. And, as it pleased Joe Biden to say on the worst of these occasions, “the truth is, every major crime bill since 1976 that’s come out of this Congress – every minor crime bill – has had the name of the Democratic senator from Delaware, Joe Biden, on that bill.”

    I think that’s what many of us in the NC commentariate have been saying for some time.

    1. Adam Eran

      Also: a reminder from Caitlin Johnstone: “…the real reason the political/media class has been behaving so weird the last four years….isn’t because Trump’s not a loyal empire lackey (he is), it isn’t because he’s a Russian secret agent (he’s not), and it isn’t because he’s a uniquely depraved president (he’s not). It’s because he allows people to see the perverse mechanics of a globe-sprawling murderous empire for the sick, evil thing that it actually is. That and nothing more.”

      1. Carolinian

        Yes but we already saw that.

        It could be simple snobbery. Even dim bulb George W. Bush went to the soon to be renamed Yale* and thereby earned elite bona fides. The establishment also hated Bill Clinton–despite his education–due to his love of big haired women and Ozark background. “He trashed the place and it wasn’t his place” sniffed Sally Quinn.

        *named after a slave trader

        1. ambrit

          The cadres that gather here to squabble and compare notes are a ‘creme de la creme’ of the socio-political observer class. The population of that cadre runs the gamut from luminaries like Prof. Hudson and our Esteemed Hostess, (ably assisted by Uber Aparatchik Lambert,) down through the strata and horizons of the layers of which the sedimentary rock that holds the noble experiment together is comprised. This is a real Vanguard. As such, it’s task is to enlighten those around each constituent element and thus bring up the generality to the light that enlightens.
          The entire snobbery that underlies the Glamour that is the Elite would be truly humorous if the same elites weren’t actually killing people to protect and maintain the Illusion.

        2. flora

          erm… maybe the old Dem estab in 1990 was still largely the New Deal cohort. Clinton campaigned as a continuation of the New Deal in his public speeches. We now know what he really believed and how that worked out. Their disgust with B.Clinton might have been more to do with his anti-New Deal pandering to Wall St. and throwing New Deal regulations under the bus once elected than some regional snobbery. my 2 cents.

            1. Massinissa

              “FDR meant it when he campaigned on what would become the New Deal”

              I do hope by this that you mean when he campaigned for reelection, because his presidential campaign that got him into office actually ran on an austerity platform that wasn’t particularly different from what Hoover was already doing. The New Deal was something he pivoted to after his election. I suppose running on one thing and governing on another is just common political practice?

          1. Carolinian

            I’d say that antipathy didn’t develop among other Dems until later–after Nafta, the welfare betrayal etc. The press on the other hand was down on B.Clinton from the beginning. After eight years of bending the knee to Reagan they had moved right. And given their constant diet of Georgetown cocktail weenies they probably did have more than a little snobby disdain for the rubes daring to question the status quo. Remember Hillary once complained about a “vast rightwing conspiracy” until she–arguably–became part of it.

  17. L

    Regarding “Biden (D)(2): “Why Joe Biden Won’t Be President” [Dr. Munr Kazmir, Medium].”I have to just say that the responses are as, or more, enlightening than the article. Particularly commenters who insist that Biden WILL WIN and that the author is a Nazi, Trump Troll, or worse yet, a Sanders supporter. One commenter merely says “Bite your tongue!”

    Clearly many people saw the title and jumped straight to arguing against it before reading. If this is the reaction that Biden supporters give to what is, after all, a mild suggestion that he improve his campaigning, I’d hate to think how they would behave in person.

    Edit: accidentally put that in a reply.

    1. Baby Gerald

      Any time spent (wasted?) on Twitter will reveal to even the most open-minded visitor that Biden Bros™ are exponentially more virulent than any Bernie supporters ever were. If the amount of energy they spent condescending to others were instead spent phonebanking for their candidate, they might have more confidence in the outcome in November. This comment section offers just a taste of what progressive voters or detractors from the mainstream DNC are subjected to every day on that platform.

  18. Jeremy Grimm

    “Planet of the Humans backlash”
    I strongly agree with this link. Each time there’s been a link here or I’ve run across some new assertions about ‘green’ initiatives I tried to track down who exactly was behind the article or press release and all too often I ended up on painfully too politically-correct websites all too glossy with glib content and appearance offering limited details or sometimes a reference to a glib journal article in a prestigious journal. On looking further I often ran across grants from Bill and Linda or some other mogul. I saw staffs who appeared selected more for how well they ‘showed’ than any expertise evident from their stated backgrounds. They appeared all too similar in their organizational construction, even the style of their webpages to some members of the Atlas Network. I guess I never got over finding out the ties between Google and the New America Foundation, and I remain puzzled by what I imagine happened between Matt Stohler and Barry C. Lynn after the move from the New America Foundation’s Open Markets Program to the Open Markets Institute. I thought I saw Matt Stohler among the staff at the Open Markets Program at the New America Foundation and again at the Open Markets Institute — although his name is gone now from both.

    I think Stanford Professor Mark Jacobson [https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/] is one of my all-time favorites in the too-good-to-be-true category. There is a Forbes article which makes a echoes the contentions in today’s link “Stanford Prof. Can’t Muzzle ‘Planet Of The Humans,’ Must Pay Defendants’ Legal Fees In SLAPP Suit” Apr 30, 2020, [https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertbryce/2020/04/30/stanford-professor-cant-muzzle-planet-of-the-humans-must-pay-defendants-legal-fees-in-slapp-suit/#3347c56ce0ac].

    1. Another Scott

      The financial ties between business (wind and solar, as well as private equity) and environmentalists is glaring. Not only are they not hiding it, many are celebrating it. Seemingly once or twice a week I read an article where environmentalist’s interests just happen to coincide. Here’s today’s example.


      “Innovative energy startups attract a much lower rate of venture capital than other sectors, which has slowed the pace of energy innovation, according to Jon Creyts, managing director of the Rocky Mountain Institute. The organization believes that greater innovation and investment is key to finding an economically sustainable solution to climate change, he said.”

      1. Massinissa

        Exactly. Professional environmentalists are angry at Moore because hes threatening to expose their rice bowls.

  19. Gc54

    Jacobson et al’s papers on the feasibility of near-term all-renewable power for US have been thoroughly debunked, yet he persists. Unfortunately he needs micro turbines and pumped hydro storage on practically every stream in the country plus some math errors to get close.

    More realistic is the NREL study on feasibility of substantial renewables for only ELECTRIC power https://www.nrel.gov/analysis/re-futures.html that dated from a time before EVs are to displace ICE.

  20. Darthbobber

    A couple quick things on Frum’s Atlantic piece. The breathless touting of Buzzfeed’s “discovery”, which “shows” that Trump largely got away with “being willing” to benefit from Russian help (hardly the same as conspiring with the Russians, but I’m not supposed to notice that), boils down to the rigorously honest Michael Cohen’s say so about Trump asking Stone to stay in touch with Assange (not a Russian, but I’m not supposed to notice that either.)

    Even if we take all that as true, solely on Cohen’s presumably golden word, this would be asking for advance knowledge from a journalist about what he might be planning to publish. (Again, not quite the same thing as asking Boris and Natasha for the results of their spycraft.)

    On to Kentucky: the much-praised bipartisan agreement on moving the primary back and pushing for everybody possible to vote by mail (anathema to Trump, but apparently also calculated to benefit him? Please.) was a thing that most involved were OK with, up to the moment the McGrath campaign belatedly realized that it was not a sure thing.

    Nice of Frum to concede that none of this has a damn thing to do with Trump, but that doesn’t keep it from being the central example of a key element in the Trump strategy.

    Just a typical Frum article, altogether.

  21. allan

    Supplies Sent To Labs By Trump Administration To Boost Testing Are Not Always Helpful [NPR]

    No transcript as of this moment, so you might need to listen to this 4 minute piece.
    Come for the reporting on a third world health system,
    stay for the utterly contemptuous bs from Admiral Brett Giroir,
    the Assistant Secretary for Health, director of the Public Health Service,
    Trump’s covid diagnostic testing supply czar, and [quickly Googles] apparently an M.D.

    We are doomed.

    1. JBird4049

      It is not that bad. Yet.

      Civilization did survive the Black Death after all with 1/4 of the world’s population dying. Most of Eurasia and North Africa just got hammered. Barely it is true, especially in Western Europe with 1/2 of the population dying, but it did survive.

      There is a difference in that you can read accounts of both the population and the authorities, especially the church, grimly doing their best, albeit with the occasional massacres of Jews or other just whacked behavior. But with entire villages and small towns just disappearing, and only now being found from aerial surveillance, and most of the major cities losing half, or more, of their population, it is not surprising.

      The Catholic Church never did recover from losing the better half of its educated priests, monks, nuns, and other workers. The most dedicated, and often the best trained, doctors and healers insisted on staying with them being assisted by the rest with predictable results. The loss of the well trained meant that the next generation was not as well trained, professional, and certainly not competent, which is one of the causes for the breakdown of the church and the Reformation.

  22. RMO

    “Using Fibonacci Numbers to Convert from Miles to Kilometers and Vice Versa”

    I use nautical miles when I’m flying… that would throw a spanner in the works.

    1. Oh

      WHy would I want to remember the Fibonacci series just so I can convert from km to miles? A simple factor (1.8) is enough. Silly article.

      1. ewmayer

        Except that your ‘simple factor’ is wrong. Silly you.

        Re. the article, it is indeed silly in that it attempts to link a deep mathematical result, that the asymptotic ratio of successive terms, a.k.a. the golden ratio|mean|section, (sqrt(5)+1)/2 = 1.6180339…, is close to the km/mile ratio, 1.609. But said closeness is purely coincidental.

        But there is some useful fun to be had for those with a basic mastery of algebra including quadratic equations: how to derive the above formula for the golden mean. The Fibonacci numbers have a super-simple 3-term recurrence definition: let f[0]=f[1]=1, then each subsequent term is just the sum of the preceding 2, i.e. is computed as f[n+1] = f[n] + f[n-1]. Thus we get 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,… . Computing a couple more and it seems that the ratio between successive terms is tending toward a constant of around 1.6. So let’s *assume* that that is true as n -> oo, i.e. f[n+1] = r*f[n] and f[n] = r*f[n-1] in that limit. Plug those into the above recurrence to get r^2*f[n-1] = r*f[n-1] + f[n-1]. Dividing out the common f[n-1] and collecting terms on left of the =, we get the quadratic r^2 – r – 1 = 0, whose 2 solutions are r1 = (sqrt(5)+1)/2 = 1.6180339… and r2 = (sqrt(5)-1)/2 = 0.6180339… . We observe that r2 = r1-1, and further r2 = 1/r1, which are the dual properties the ancient Greeks found ‘beautiful’, hence dubbed ‘golden’.

        1. integer

          Now do FLT.

          As an aside, I really hate the “now do x” snowclone (I hope I am using that term correctly). It’s a staple of resistance Twitter. Someone will tweet something about the mendacity of the Ds and it will inevitably be met with a reply of “Now do Trump”. Ugh.

  23. Mikel

    I think people are overestimating the desire of the corps to get people back to work.
    For instance, an excerpt from the article below:

    “With this context, this week’s economic data is unlikely to materially recast the macro narrative even if the domestic real estate sector continues to defy the downside implications from the pandemic. Durables and personal spending and income will incrementally add to investors understanding of the state of the economy, as well as the weekly jobless claims release. Nonetheless, the July 2 BLS report is the true litmus test of the V-shaped optimism. In this context, the consensus call for a gain of 3.6 million jobs during June on top of the 2.5 million seen in May will be in obvious focus. The unexpectedly strong May print (10 million stronger than the consensus) has raised the bar of how quickly investors expect the labor force to be redeployed and any significant downside miss will bring into question not only the trajectory of the recovery but also the reliability of the mid-pandemic data.

    I only see true dedication to sustaining the overhyped asset bubble of stock prices.
    The way they are going to goose those earnings is through payroll cuts.

  24. richard

    I’m not sure if it’s already been reported, but K. Sawant is clearly trying to convince the CHOP protesters to withdraw their occupation. An excerpt from an email she sent out reads: “as socialists, we recognize that capitalism is a deeply violent system, and that an occupation in a few city blocks cannot form a society separate from the violence, trauma, and ills of capitalism.” She then goes on to list demands that the protestors will make, including an independently elected oversight board, and defunding/refunding with priority given to social programs and helping communities most over policed.

  25. allan

    Florida changes ICU reporting [Florida Politics]

    Amid a surge in Florida coronavirus cases, Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ administration is changing the guidelines for hospitals’ reporting of intensive-care beds in the state Emergency Status System, or ESS.

    In a phone call with hospital providers this week, Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, who’s also the secretary of the Department of Health, said he no longer wants hospitals to report to the state the number of patients in intensive-care unit beds. …

    The switch in reporting comes as the daily numbers of new COVID-19 cases in Florida continue to climb at a record-high pace. The state on Friday said there were 3,822 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the overall number of COVID-19 infections to 89,748. There have been 3,104 deaths related to the coronavirus in Florida.

    And the number of unoccupied ICU beds is decreasing. …

    Black is white, greed is patriotism, ketchup is a vegetable, and decreasing is increasing.

    Where do we go to get an apology from Rich Lowry?

  26. The Rev Kev

    Just been thinking about all those empty seats at that Tulsa Rally. Maybe somebody should have told Trump that it was not actually Tik-Tok or K-Pop that was responsible for them. That in fact the reason that those empty seats were not full of Trump voters was that they had died because of the US governments handling of the pandemic. And that unless he does something, there will be more empty places by November.

    1. J.k

      It really is amazing to watch how patently little the republicans and trump think of their most ardent supporters. People willing to dismiss a pandemic, albeit for idealogical reasons, and show up to a rally. With six thousand people in a twenty thousand seat arena they could have simply spread people out and enforced a mask policy. Of course we all know that would go against the narrative they are pushing. Wanton cruelty and stupidity. Dont get me wrong, I understand dems could not care less for their average voters as well, but this is just maddening.

      The fact red flags were not raised immediately when they were supposedly getting hundreds of thousands of requests for tickets is shocking. When has there ever been that kind of interest in a trump rally? Never. 800,000 lol. These folks have done drank the kool aid themselves.

  27. Anthony K Wikrent

    “How the genetic code was cracked, with paper and pencil and no computers”

    Marshall Warren Nirenberg

    This is the REAL story of how America was built – by the scientists and engineers in government research labs (in this case, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which is the third largest Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The “entrepreneurs” who commercialize this research and become squillionaires are the ones celebrated and apotheosized by free market ideologues. The left, on the other hand, is just as ideologically moribund in its fixation on the exploitative evils of capitalism, so the left doesn’t understand that the basis of all wealth is ultimately science and technology.

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