2:00PM Water Cooler 6/24/2020

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. States going up, with New York for comparison:

Ugly slopes.


“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. As of 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): “Joe Biden Begins Building His Presidential Transition Team” [Bloomberg]. “Joe Biden has tapped former Senator Ted Kaufman, a longtime adviser and friend, to lead his transition team as the Democratic presidential nominee enters into a more formal phase of planning for a potential administration…. Yohannes Abraham, a top aide to senior adviser Valerie Jarrett in the Obama White House, will be joining the operation in the coming weeks to manage day-to-day operations. He’s also worked as chief operating officer of the Obama Foundation…. Avril Haines, a former principal deputy national security adviser and deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, will also join the staff soon to set up the transition’s policy and agency review operations, as well as to lead its work on national security and foreign policy. Other senior staff preparing to join the transition team are Gautam Raghavan, chief of staff to Representative Pramila Jayapal, who was a co-chair of Sanders’s presidential campaign; Angela Ramirez, chief of staff to Representative Ben Ray Lujan; former Biden White House adviser Evan Ryan; and Julie Siegel, Warren’s senior counsel for economic policy, who previously was a senior adviser at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.” • On Avril Haines, from Wikipedia (sigh):

In 2015 Haines was tasked with determining whether CIA personnel involved in the hacking of the computers of Senate staffers who were authoring the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture would be disciplined. Haines chose not to discipline them, overruling the CIA Inspector General….. During the Democratic National Committee email leak during the 2016 presidential campaign, Haines as DNSA convened a series of meetings to discuss ways to respond to the hacking and leaks. In 2018, Haines was an outspoken supporter of President Trump’s controversial nomination of Gina Haspel to serve as CIA director. While not commenting on Haspel’s record, she praised her knowledge of the agency and intelligence, a position hailed by the White House as it promoted Haspel’s confirmation…. Haines has consulted for a variety of for-profit entities with business interests related to American national security policy, including Palantir Technologies and WestExec Advisors.

So, Haines is pro-torture, pro-hacking Congress, and Palintir-adjacent. She’s perfect!

Biden (D)(2): “Exclusive: Dozens of Republican former U.S. national security officials to back Biden” [Reuters]. “Dozens of Republican former U.S. national security officials are forming a group that will back Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, people familiar with the effort said…. The group will publicly endorse Biden in the coming weeks and its members plan to campaign for the former vice president who is challenging Trump in the Nov. 3 election, the sources said. It includes at least two dozen officials who served under Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, with dozens more in talks to join, the sources added.” • Holy Lord, the people who brought you Iraq are gonna get another bite at the bad apples. David Frum must be so proud.

Biden (D)(3): “How Diverse Is Joe Biden’s 2020 Staff? His Campaign Won’t Say.” [Buzzfeed]. “[T]he reporter asked if Biden would commit to selecting a person of color as his running mate. Aboard his campaign bus in Iowa, the 77-year-old candidate looked equal parts frustrated by the question and confident in his answer. ‘I have the most diverse staff of anybody running. I’ve always done that.’ Biden’s campaign refused to give any detail about the claim after he made it. And more than six months later, he has yet to back up the assertion or provide any data on the diversity of his campaign staff.” • True, Avril Haines is a [x] woman torture advocate, but if only she were also a [x] black torture advocate!

Trump (R)(1): “Donald Trump Tulsa, Oklahoma Rally Speech Transcript” [Rev]. • The Borscht Belt bits are in there, along with the usual. I would love to have a way to reverse engineer his A/B testing with the next rally.

Trump (R)(2) “The President’s Shock at the Rows of Empty Seats in Tulsa” [New York Times]. “Exactly what went wrong was still being dissected on Sunday. But a broad group of advisers and associates acknowledged to one another that Mr. Trump had not been able to will public opinion away from fears about the spread of the coronavirus in an indoor space. And they conceded that myriad polls showing Mr. Trump’s eroded standing were not fake, and that he might be on course to lose to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee, in November.” • This story, too, is focused on Trump’s personal reaction. And it’s revealing that the heart of the story is what Trump’s advisors “acknowledge to each other” about the crowd, rather than the crowd itself (no voters were interviewed for this piece). So we have the very definition of access journalism, unsurprisingly.

Trump (R)(3): “Trump’s sparse rally crowd enraged him. His advisers just revealed why.” [WaPo]. • Everything I said about about Izvestia on the Hudson applies to Pravda on the Potomac. So we have not only access journalism, but pack journalism. We know more about K-Pop kids than we know about voters who were expected to show up at Trump’s rally, but didn’t!

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“McGrath leading, Engel in trouble after Tuesday’s primaries” [Politico]. And the rubble is still bouncing in AOC’s district: 73% (!). More: “It will be at least a week until winners are known in Tuesday’s much-anticipated showdown between the progressive and establishment wings of the Democratic Party. Voters in five states went to the polls Tuesday for primary elections, with the top races coming in Kentucky and New York. In Kentucky, Democratic voters were choosing between party favorite Amy McGrath and state Rep. Charles Booker to face Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for whom rank-and-file Democrats’ disdain rivals only that for President Donald Trump. But Tuesday night ended without a winner — and with hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots to count next week…. The marquee House race of the night was Engel’s race against Bowman, a middle school principal. Early results staked Bowman to a lead over the incumbent that continued into Wednesday morning.” • A good wrap-up. On Booker:

That “late surge” shows, once more, why “early voting” is a bad idea: Early voting rewards incumbent name recognition and big donor funding. That’s why the Democrat Party establishment loves it.

Health Care

UPDATE About masks:

Lambert here: To my shame, I bought into — and worse, propagated, told readers and friends — the original LIE propagated by Fauci and WHO, that masks were not necessary. Fortunately, I continued to do my homework and watch the news flow, and changed my mind (and my practice). Fauci and WHO perpetrated what Plato called a “noble lie,” believing that the best way to make sure that medical personnel — and they, too, personally — had masks was to make sure the public they duped didn’t buy them up, and so they used their authority to lie about whether masks worked (they do). In an election season where the liberal Democrat pitch seems to be “Let The Professionals Take Charge Again”™, having top PMC and global agencies get caught out in a Noble Lie might not have been the greatest idea. And as we few, we happy few in the Blue States make fun of the fat stupid loud people in the Red States who don’t trust the experts that lied to them, we might consider whether our Noble Lies have unexpected effects, not merely politically, but in the destruction of the very concept of public health. Sorry about that.

“House Democrats tack to center with election year health care bill” [Politico]. “The House Democratic plan is less ambitious than the platform put forward by Joe Biden and doesn’t include a public insurance option that could compete with private plans. It also would not expand eligibility for Medicare or Medicaid. But the 153-page legislative draft could amplify Democrats’ election-year message of building on the ACA as the Trump administration presses to overturn the law at the Supreme Court. Pelosi and her leadership plan a vote on the legislation next week. The plan stands virtually no chance of being taken up by the Republican-controlled Senate but comes amid new concerns over health coverage amid the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crash.” • So Pelosi’s bill is a message bill, and the message is “We have no ambition” (and to people without insurance in the pandemic, “think happy thoughts on the way down”). No doubt the health insurance “industry” will be happy. But say, why not wait for the Biden/Sanders Task Force to issue some recommendations? In the spirit of party unity and team play?

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “The limits of White Fragility’s anti-racism” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. (Chapo has a fine podcast on White Fragility here. It makes sense, too much sense, that the idpol types want a world that runs like an HR department.) “For all her talk about difficult conversations, it is hard to miss how DiAngelo totally elides questions of economic justice that would be uncomfortable indeed for the wealthy corporations and executives that hire her to harangue their employees. At any rate, it is surely useful for American whites to think about how they might be inadvertently making their workplace an uncomfortable place for their co-workers of color. But it’s also useful for whites to think about what they might have in common with their Black and brown fellow citizens. They might form a multi-racial union (another idea that goes unmentioned in the book). They might realize that though Black Americans have it worse, white Americans are still not doing great compared to residents of peer nations — they are impoverished, imprisoned, and killed by police at shocking rates; live shorter and less healthy lives, pay through the nose for lousy health care, and on and on. Racism must be eradicated, partly because it forestalls the kind of multi-racial, working-class political coalition that could make this country a better place to live for everyone. But it seems you won’t learn that at a corporate diversity seminar.”

UPDATE “Policing and the Long-Term Problem Democrats Face” [Mike the Mad Biologist]. Quoting Gin and Tacos: “When it comes to the problems with policing in this country, Democrats seem fundamentally unable to conceive of themselves as a big part of the problem. At best there is an argument about the Republicans being worse – which is true, and is almost universally true – that is used to deflect criticism. It is necessary to face up to the reality that many of the places with the worst problems with police violence are, and have been, controlled by Democrats at the local level for a long time. If you look at protesters and don’t understand why they burn property rather than channel their anger into voting, the very obvious answer is that there is no imaginary future in which voting for Joe Biden and whoever they just elected Mayor will actually solve the problem. Republicans offer pure authoritarianism – they actively *encourage* police to be brutal – while Democrats have done nothing to stop them, or in many cases abetted them. In my lifetime Chicago has elected one Democratic mayor after another, backed by a lockstep Democratic county board and city council and a veto-proof Democratic state legislature in many cases. All that has happened with the Chicago PD is that it has gotten worse. Much the same can be said for Minneapolis, St. Louis, New York, Los Angeles, and other places with notoriously bad police departments.”

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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.

Shipping: “Trucking Industry Growth Marginally Improved In May 2020” [Econintersect]. “Headline data for the American Trucking Association (ATA) and the CASS Freight Index show that truck volumes marginally improved but show the year-over-year growth deep in contraction. The CASS index is inclusive of rail, truck, and air shipments. The ATA truck index is inclusive of only trucking industry member movements (ATA’s tonnage data is dominated by contract freight). I put a heavier weight on the CASS index year-over-year which is consistent with rail and ocean freight…. Econintersect tries to validate truck data across data sources. It appears this month that the truck employment rate of growth continues to slow. Please note using BLS employment data in real-time is risky, as their data is normally backward adjusted (sometimes significantly). Additionally, Econintersect believes that the BLS is not capturing all truck employment.”

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Tech: “Google blew a ten-year lead” [Second Breakfast]. “I got my email through Gmail, I wrote documents on Docs, I listened to Pandora, I viewed photos on TheFacebook. Why did I need all of Windows Vista?… In 2010, I predicted that by 2020 Chrome OS would be the most popular desktop OS in the world. It was fast, lightweight, and $0…. .I haven’t installed MSFT Office on a machine since 2009. Sheets and Docs have been good enough for me. The theoretical unlimited computing power and collaboration features meant Google Docs was better than Office (and free!). Then something happened at Google. I’m not sure what. But they stopped innovating on cloud software…. I’m a long shareholder of Google. It’s amazing how they have four monopolies and only monetize one of them. I’m confident they have a bright future ahead. But the lack of innovation is frustrating. The product goals are all over the place. Microsoft has a new clear mission: The Cloud. What’s Google’s clear mission? It feels like they blew a 10 year lead.”

Supply Chain: “Supply chain’s response to pandemic dominates annual ‘State of Logistics Report'” [Freight Waves]. “The report painted a picture of an industry first traumatized by the coronavirus pandemic and the government’s tough measures designed to stop its spread, but then able to right itself and meet the challenge of bringing essential goods to market. An industry that’s rarely top of the public mind demonstrated its enduring value, the report said. The sector, though damaged by the pandemic, is already adapting to the profound changes it has caused, the report said. The report’s central narrative echoed the views of many: that the nation’s supply chain, and the logistics practitioners who support it, will shift from a model based on cost and efficiency to one driven by resiliency, defined by the report as being positioned to “adjust and recover from future difficulties.” U.S. firms that sourced exclusively from China faced massive supply disruptions in February and March after Chinese authorities shut down large swaths of the country’s manufacturing and outbound shipping to curtail the virus’ spread. For U.S. firms, avoiding a repeat scenario will require development of multiple sourcing locations, more buffer inventory, and the warehouses needed to store them. It will also lead to higher costs to support the investment in assets. Shifting supply chain strategies does not mean abandoning China, according to a group of experts participating in an online Q&A session. Michael Zimmerman, a Kearney partner, said businesses looking to diversify from China may find it hard to replicate the country’s established efficient supply chain infrastructure anywhere else in the region or the world.” • Well, one would think that an Indo-Pacific strategy would be helping this happen (too bad, perhaps, so sad about the TPP, but surrenduring our national sovereignty to a self-regulating cabal of trade lawyers backed by global corporations was really a little bit much, though somebody should ask The Biden™ if The Obama Alumni Association plans to revive it).

Honey for the Bears: “A Crisis Like No Other, An Uncertain Recovery” [International Monetary Fund]. “Global growth is projected at –4.9 percent in 2020, 1.9 percentage points below the April 2020 World Economic Outlook (WEO) forecast. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a more negative impact on activity in the first half of 2020 than anticipated, and the recovery is projected to be more gradual than previously forecast. In 2021 global growth is projected at 5.4 percent. Overall, this would leave 2021 GDP some 6½ percentage points lower than in the pre-COVID-19 projections of January 2020. The adverse impact on low-income households is particularly acute, imperiling the significant progress made in reducing extreme poverty in the world since the 1990s. As with the April 2020 WEO projections, there is a higher-than-usual degree of uncertainty around this forecast.” And: “The global community must act now to avoid a repeat of this catastrophe by building global stockpiles of essential supplies and protective equipment, funding research and supporting public health systems, and putting in place effective modalities for delivering relief to the neediest.” • LOL, no.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 48 Neutral (previous close: 52 Neutral;) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 24 at 1:51pm.

The Biosphere

“The origins of flowering plants and pollinators” [Science]. “For more than a century there has been a fascination with the surprisingly rapid rise and early diversity of flowering plants (angiosperms). Darwin described the seemingly explosive diversification of angiosperms as an ‘abominable mystery,’ and debates continue about the origin and processes driving angiosperm speciation. Dating the origin of angiosperms was traditionally the prerogative of paleobotanists who read the fossil record of plants, but with DNA sequencing becoming increasingly sophisticated, molecular dating methods have come to the table. Many angiosperm fossils can be dated to the Early Cretaceous (∼135 million years ago), which has led paleobotanists to reason that they originated during that era. It is now increasingly recognized that angiosperms are probably older than the oldest fossils, but how much older remains controversial. When angiosperms originated is key to understanding the origin and evolution of pollinators, particularly insects such as bees, butterflies, moths, and flies. Recent reports highlight the disparity of molecular and paleontological time scales.” Best “more studies needed” final sentence ever: “Whether Darwin’s question about the timing of flowering-plant evolution and radiation will ever be answered remains a mystery, but clearly this question and its ecological implications for understanding insect pollination are complicated.” • It’s worth fighting through the brambles of science-y prose — not that hard, in this case — to gain additional appreciation of how wonderful plants are.

Health Care

“Mounting clues suggest the coronavirus might trigger diabetes” [Nature]. I have to say, I think this is a little clickbait-y. Interesting and suggestive, but “Their hunch is based on a handful of people” and “The latest clue comes from an experimental study in miniature lab-grown pancreases published last week [which] suggests that the virus might trigger diabetes by damaging the cells that control blood sugar. Mini organs reveal how the coronavirus ravages the body. But other researchers are cautious about such suggestions.” • Big if true, I guess.

“Lessons on Coronavirus Testing From the Adult Film Industry” [New York Times]. “‘We can actually learn a lot about safety guidelines by listening to producers of porn,” said Perry N. Halkitis, dean of the School of Public Health at Rutgers University. ‘Thinking back to the H.I.V./AIDS crisis, the adult film industry had to learn how to keep their workers safe.’ He recommends following its lead by using what he calls the Four Ts: Target, Test, Treat and Trace. The adult film industry uses a nationwide program called PASS, for Performer Availability Screening Services, that requires performers to be tested every 14 days for H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted infections in order to be cleared for work. If a worker tests positive, he’s treated, and his partners are traced.’ … [ Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute] agreed. He said he would like to see a database much like the PASS program where people can register online to show they were tested for the coronavirus. ‘It should be run by a nonprofit or private business, not the government,’ he said. ‘I’m not opposed to the government doing it. It’s that a lot of people would not be comfortable with the government running it.'”

Good question:

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“2 Lawyers Of Color Face 45-Year Sentences — For Vandalism” [HuffPo (Re Silc)]. “[Colinford King\ Mattis, along with Urooj Rahman, 31, was arrested in New York City on May 30 during protests against racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. The two were charged with attempting to burn an unoccupied, already damaged New York City Police Department vehicle. Nobody was injured in the incident. Now Mattis and Rahman face additional federal charges that carry a 45-year mandatory minimum sentence, and up to life in prison — for what essentially amounts to property damage. Activists and lawyers are alarmed by the unusually harsh charges being brought against them, and believe Mattis and Rahman should not be awaiting trial in jail. They say that they are not a threat to society — which the prosecution is arguing — and it is highly unlikely they’re a flight risk or will commit another crime. Mattis is a corporate lawyer educated at Princeton and NYU Law; Rahman went to Fordham Law and works for Bronx Legal Services, helping low-income clients fight evictions in housing court. Both grew up in New York and are deeply connected to their communities.”


“Video Game Industry Rocked by Outpouring of Sexual Misconduct Allegations” [Bloomberg]. “Dozens of women took to social media over the past few days to outline explosive allegations against prominent men in the world of video gaming and streaming, setting the stage for what could be the beginning of a #MeToo reckoning for the $150 billion video game industry. Four women leveled accusations of sexual misconduct against Chris Avellone, a critically acclaimed video game writer, leading one developer to end its cooperation with him and prompting him to part ways with another game in the works. A different woman accused Omeed Dariani, the chief executive officer of Online Performers Group, a talent agency that works with many video streamers, of making an unwelcome sexual overture. Dariani resigned from his position on Sunday. Some streamers began calling for a blackout Wednesday of Amazon.com Inc.’s Twitch, the biggest game streaming platform, alleging that it turns a blind eye to misbehavior. The gaming industry has for years been criticized as unwelcoming—if not hostile—to women, but has not yet faced the #MeToo movement on the same scale as Hollywood and other industries.”

Failed State

“Lawsuit alleges scientific misconduct at U.S. nuclear weapons lab” [Science]. “An unusual lawsuit alleges scientific misconduct at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, one of the United States’s three nuclear weapons labs. Peter Williams, a 50-year-old physicist, worked at Livermore from January 2016 until May 2017, when he says he was fired in retaliation for complaining that his superiors were mishandling a computer program that simulates the detonation of high explosives, undermining their ability to predict how a particular nuclear weapon would perform if used…. Livermore used such test explosions to refine a modeling program called ARES-CHEETAH. But Williams says he became aware that one of his supervisors was essentially changing parameters in the program after the fact to make sure the simulation fit the data from each experimental setup. That’s “pseudoscience,” Williams charges, as it guarantees the model will look accurate, even if it isn’t. He says he repeatedly asked the researcher to explain the rationale for the tweaking. ‘It became clear that he didn’t have a rationale, he had a motive,’ Williams says. ‘And the motive was to keep money flowing to help develop and improve CHEETAH.’ Such ‘curve fitting’ renders the program incapable of making meaningful predictions, he says.” • All too plausible. And Williams is only suing for $600,000, so he’s not in it for the money.

Guillotine Watch

“Meet Our Members.” [The Coalition to End Social Isolation & Loneliness (Krystyn Podgajski)]. “The Coalition to End Social Isolation & Loneliness consists of national stakeholders including consumer groups, patient advocacy organizations, health plans, community-based organizations, mental and behavioral health advocates, and private sector innovators.” • Extroverts are gonna kill us all.

Class Warfare

“The Jobs We Need” [Editorial Board, The New York Times]. “If income had kept pace with overall economic growth since 1970, Americans in the bottom 90 percent of the income distribution would be making an extra $12,000 per year, on average. In effect, every American worker in the bottom 90 percent of the income distribution is sending an annual check for $12,000 to a richer person in the top 10 percent.” Nice framing. And: “Change is possible. A government more inclined to help workers would have ample opportunity. But as in the early 1930s, political change must proceed economic change. For the voices of workers to be heard, the influence of the wealthy must be curbed.” • Which totally explains why Obama stood up Biden. It’s all so clear now!

“The New Truth” [Tablet]. “I don’t know how to argue in America anymore, or whether it’s even worth it. For someone like me, that is a real tragedy and so I would like to understand how this new reality came about. There are distinct and deep-rooted traditions of rational empiricism and religious sermonizing in American history. But these two modes seem to have become fused together in a new form of argumentation that is validated by elite institutions like the universities, The New York Times, Gracie Mansion, and especially on the new technology platforms where battles over the discourse are now waged. The new mode is argument by commandment: It borrows the form to game the discourse of rational argumentation in order to issue moral commandments. No official doctrine yet exists for this syncretic belief system but its features have been on display in all of the major debates over political morality of the past decade. Marrying the technical nomenclature of rational proof to the soaring eschatology of the sermon, it releases adherents from the normal bounds of reason. The arguer-commander is animated by a vision of secular hell—unremitting racial oppression that never improves despite myths about progress; society as a ceaseless subjection to rape and sexual assault; Trump himself, arriving to inaugurate a Luciferean reign of torture. Those in possession of this vision do not offer the possibility of redemption or transcendence, they come to deliver justice. In possession of justice, the arguer-commander is free at any moment to throw off the cloak of reason and proclaim you a bigot—racist, sexist, transphobe—who must be fired from your job and socially shunned. Practitioners of the new argument bolster their rationalist veneer with constant appeals to forms of authority that come in equal parts from biology and elite credentialing. Have you noticed how many people, especially online, start their statements by telling you their profession or their identity group: As a privileged white woman; as a doctoral student in applied linguistics; as a progressive Jewish BIPOC paleontologist—and so on? These are military salutes….” • Of course, identity doesn’t come from biology (except when it does).

News of the Wired

“IRS May Consider Delaying Tax Filing Deadline Again, Mnuchin Says” [Forbes]. “‘As of now, we’re not intending on doing that, but it is something we may consider,’ Mnuchin told Bloomberg in an interview. Mnuchin said that the extension made sense in March, ‘because we were absolutely worried about people who couldn’t get to their accountants, couldn’t get their information,’ but added that a majority of Americans have already filed their 2019 taxes. The Treasury secretary noted that people who can file their tax returns now should do so by July 15, especially if they are expecting a refund. On the possible extension, he stated, ‘We’ll look carefully as we approach this July date.'”

“Writing, Reading, Writing” [George R.R. Martin, Not a Blog]. “If nothing else, the enforced isolation has helped me write. I am spending long hours every day on THE WINDS OF WINTER, and making steady progress. I finished a new chapter yesterday, another one three days ago, another one the previous week. But no, this does not mean that the book will be finished tomorrow or published next week. It’s going to be a huge book, and I still have a long way to go.” • And he’s 71, and has — as the rest of the post makes clear — a ton of side projects. So it goes.

“How People Read Online: New and Old Findings” [Neilson Normal Group]. “People still primarily scan, rather than read. Scanning all of the text on a page, or even a majority, is still extremely rare. Even when users do scan content in its entirety, they never scan it perfectly linearly. They still jump around pages, skipping some content, backtracking to scan what they skipped, and rescanning content they’ve already scanned.”

This is a great thread on animals walking into the shot on Zoom, but:

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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 (AM):

AM writes: “From today’s walk (May 12) in Roger Williams Park. New leaves and branches reaching out toward the Temple to Music across the lake. The sun was a bit of a challenge. I blocked it with the tree.” Clever! (And seeing new buds and leaves against the sky for the first time in Spring is a wonderful moment.)

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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. JoeCMYK

    “How People Read Online: New and Old Findings” confuses the word “scan” with “skim.”

    To scan a document means to read it very carefully and thoroughly, just as a scanner i.e. scanning machine renders everything onto a copy.

    The correct term for reading only the first lines of paragraphs or a general quick reading is to skim. Unfortunate that someone writing an article about this doesn’t know the correct use of their main term.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      The first place I looked had “to glance at or over or read hastily: to scan a page.” as the first meaning and your meaning as the second meaning. [https://www.dictionary.com/browse/scan]

      1. JoeK

        As does Merriam Webster (though the order is reversed, primary meaning being the .com’s second). Yet a prof in college English told our class don’t tell me you scanned something when you merely skimmed it.

        Grammar, spelling, usage problems are so widespread in online publications, and general writing, these days, that I’m prone to expect mistakes.


        The now-widespread “loose” for “lose” (so how do you spell the opposite of tight or strict–looose?)
        also widespread: “there is” or “there’s” followed by a plural–which as we all know requires “there are”. I first recall hearing this regularly from G.W. Bush
        “as (big/expensive/useful etc) ….. than…” –this one has a Escherian quality to it
        “factoid” (a non-reality presented as fact) for “factette” (a trivial fact)
        “flaunt” for “flout”
        random use of who vs. whom, “between he and I,” etc
        commas between subject and verb (or an odd number thereof)

        A couple more on the tip of my tongue that refuse to progress further, and numerous others I’m sure…

        I tell ya it’s enough to make a persnickety English major sink into despair.

  2. Wukchumni

    A 4.6 earthquake centered near Lone Pine on the eastern flank of the Sierra Nevada a few days ago, and now a 6.1 temblor around the same location half an hour ago. The strongest quake i’ve felt around these parts, it lasted 15 seconds and was a roller.

    Few people ever see a mountain range grow, but on March 26, 1872, the 300 residents of Lone Pine, California, did. The small hamlet is located on the Sierra east slope near the Owens Valley, about 350 miles south of Reno. This extraordinary seismic event occurred on a clear calm night under a bright full moon. (The belief in “earthquake weather” has been around for a long time, despite common knowledge that shakes occur in any season and at all hours, day or night.) At 2:30 a.m. sleeping residents in Lone Pine were awakened by a sound like rumbling thunder accompanied by the crash of falling dishes, mirrors and glassware. The heaving ground broke plaster from ceilings and tossed water pitchers six feet into the air.

    Citizens grabbed what clothes they could and ran from their collapsing homes in stark terror. Timber is very scarce in this region and all the dwellings were built of adobe brick. The brittle adobe construction offered no safety in the severe quake and the destruction in Lone Pine was nearly total. Out of the 62 buildings lining Main Street, 52 crashed to the ground in piles of rubble. Falling bricks and debris killed twenty-seven people. Four miles south of Lone Pine a small lake disappeared and the Owens River decreased in volume. The cloud of dust that rose over the disaster could be seen from 20 miles away. Witnesses reported that “every few minutes heavy shocks of a few seconds duration occurred” and from 2:30 a.m. until 6:30 a.m. there were not less than fifty distinct shocks and “the earth seemed to vibrate all the time.” The first tremor cracked and threw down many walls and buildings, but it was the succeeding aftershocks that leveled the town.

    At Big Pine, 43 miles to the north, the tectonic violence injured many and tore the land apart. A large fissure opened from 50 to 200 feet wide and 20 feet deep, running close along the base of the Sierra Nevada. Along several sections of the road the earth was thrown up five to ten feet, and in many places water was forced out of the barren ground. Springs failed that were never known to be dry before. Several people saw flashes of fire from the mountainsides at points between Bishop’s Creek and Independence. (“Quake lights” are believed to be masses of charged plasma, a high-temperature ionized gas composed of electrons and positive ions, which is theorized to form when earthquakes generate electrical charges that escape through rock layers and into the air.) Rockslides blocked the road with boulders as big as a two-story house. When the stagecoach finally arrived the exhausted driver gasped, “there was not a brick or adobe or chimney left standing between Bishop’s Creek and Independence.”


    1. Punxsutawney

      Thanks for this. Lone Pine to Bishop/Mammoth Lakes and up into the Sierras was one of my young adulthood’s favorite places to be. Never heard about this earthquake.

  3. Toshiro_Mifune

    Google blew a ten-year lead
    I’m a long shareholder of Google. It’s amazing how they have four monopolies and only monetize one of them. I’m confident they have a bright future ahead.

    From the article;
    Yet I’ve been ungluing myself from Google so far this year. Not because of Google-is-reading-my-emails-and-tracking-every-keystroke reasons,
    Then the author knows exactly how they’re monetizing their other monopolies.
    Regarding this;
    I’m confident they have a bright future ahead
    Im confident they’re the next Yahoo.

    1. cocomaan

      Agreed, I thought it was clear what Google is selling: influence. Search result censorship. Etc.

      1. Carolinian

        So you think the censorship makes more money for them? Wasn’t their whole rationale always to keep as many eyeballs as possible glued to internet connected screens?

        Perhaps the upper management decided they wanted to wield their power for more personal reasons.

        1. hunkerdown

          Advertising itself is influence, so cocomaan’s right. Also, cooperation with the prevailing authority does tend to yield indulgences that ease every kind of business one might want to do.

          1. Carolinian

            Oh it definitely appears that they now have other fish to fry, but I’m still not seeing how political censorship helps their core advertising business. Google search can easily be replaced and indeed I have.

            And taking sides in the influence game may not do them much good either if Trump and state AGs launch anti-trust probes in retaliation.

            1. cocomaan

              Does it make money directly? Nah, but political favors do make you money. It doesn’t help their core business but it’s a fairly low barrier to entry and could get them a lot of influence in politics in the long term, especially since they’re not innovating at all.

              Google is betting that Trump doesn’t win. They’re really making sure he doesn’t.

              I also have to disagree that it can be replaced. Duckduckgo is great and all, but it doesn’t have the edge.

              1. Alex Cox

                The google shareholder’s article with its arbitrary choice between google docs and ms office puzzled me. Has he really never heard of Libre Office, the free and popular open source alternative?

    2. Bugs Bunny

      Just a thought – maybe they actually get legal advice that moving into Microsoft territory and combining it with all their other businesses would be a bad idea.

      Nah, lawyers don’t care anymore.

    3. Zagonostra

      >Vivaldi, Chrome alternative

      A couple of months ago I noticed Google Chrome was sluggish so I installed a browser I never heard of, Vivaldi. The transition was/is good. I still use my Gmail account since I’ve had it for so many years, but if you are looking to break-out from Google’s strangle hold, I would check them out.


      1. hunkerdown

        There’s very little meaningful difference among the artisanal web browsers. Every one I can think of other than Firefox, Edge and Safari are using the same Blink and/or V8 engines Google uses in Chrome, or their near cousins, for HTML rendering and JavaScript execution. If you like Chrome but hate Google, the Chromium project offers an open-source version of Chrome, minus Google’s secret sauce.

        Personally, I’m (still) using Firefox for my pleasure browsing and Chromium for work.

        1. JoeK

          I wonder if Firefox is running on an I4 rather than a V8. I’m all for reducing emissions ha ha, but having gone back to it after a long hiatus, I’m frequently underwhelmed by some things, like its stability. 25 years on, I’d think mozilla.org would have a less buggy product.

          One example, every 2 or 3 times I play a video embedded in twitter I quickly get graphic chaos leading to FF freezing, and then complete lock-up of my machine unless I head that off with a force-quit. Maybe it’s one of the couple extensions I’m running, but this doesn’t happen in other browsers I’ve tried, like Safari, which is very stable (on a Mac) but lacks some features FF has.

          1. RMO

            In my experience Firefox on Mac OS-X has some issues like that. For a long time I was having a problem with Firefox freezing when I tried to shut it down ultimately bringing up the “force quit” button. No problems to speak of on Windows 7 and 10. A friend of mine who runs Linux (can’t remember which variant) also finds Firefox works well. I gave up on Apple last summer after years of Macbooks because of Apples increasing crapification. Sure, Windows is crap too but at least it’s cheap in comparison. I was getting tired of not only paying Filet Mignon prices for a Big Mac but also of the constant attempts to convince me that the Big mac WAS Filet Mignon but that I was just too uncultured to realize it.

            I found Safari had problems accessing certain websites. Generally ones such as bank or government ones which require a log in for security. Sometimes it just refused to even display them properly. Sometimes it also had a problem printing something from a website. Never figured out why, just used Firefox for those things when I was still on a Macbook.

            1. JoeK

              Could well be. The last few iterations of the OS have been a fall off the peak in my and many other users’ estimations. I’ve heard it’s due to catering to iOS’s aesthetics, or to to the main focus being on the “mobile platform.” It would seem to be a dumbing-down, the whole “mobile” experience would in fact, IMO, but that’s another story.

      2. ilpalazzo

        It is made by the same people that made old Opera (the most influential web browser you’ve never heard about), before it was sold to Chinese in 2016.

    4. Carolinian

      Gmail claims it no longer robotically reads people’s mail in order to target ads.

      And while Google has gotten a lot more evil I’d say they have a way to go to become as bad as Microsoft

    5. ambrit

      Is this why Microsoft has just ‘pushed’ it’s Edge browser onto all Windows 7 and 8.1 operating systems? I mean, Windows 7 is no longer supported, but must be very popular nonetheless to get this ‘bums rush.’

        1. flora

          adding: I’ve installed the older IE browser on several ‘up to date’ Win 10 machines at users’ requests. It’s do-able. For how much longer this switch is do-able is a question.

  4. JohnnyGL


    Yesterday, I defended the populist right as different from regular establishment republicans in important ways.

    Today, I’m here to say Saagar Enjeti is making a fool of himself by trying to awkwardly defend Tucker Carlson’s idiotic monologue.

    Defending statues isn’t an existential threat to anything and it’s not going to motivate voters. It’s patently ridiculous on its face.

    1. Baby Gerald

      Agreed 100% JohnnyGL. I disagree strongly with Nathan J. Robinson’s story in which he says leftist populists should cut ties and basically shame-cancel right-wing populists for all the same reasons that Krystal Ball offered in her response to it on that segment of Rising. However, Saagar has been offering some terrible takes since these George Floyd protests started, has had a strong anti-immigration position and a downright ridiculous prohibitionist view regarding marijuana since long before that. He’s also been quick to blame China for this pandemic, strongly supporting those blaming the CCP and WHO for supposedly hiding the crisis while putting the rest of the world at risk, and seems to think the corporate appropriation of BLM slogans as symbolizing a victory for the protest movement rather than the cynical advertisement campaigns that they really are.

      And while I appreciate his pro-working class positions regarding the bailouts, health care, the push to return to work in the face of a global pandemic and he can offer some good criticism of Trump failing the people that most strongly bought into his drain-the-swamp promises in 2015, I don’t think he’s going to become any better at those positions I mentioned above in the near future. He is exposed every day to Krystal and a long list of guests that present cogent counters to all the arguments he makes and yet hasn’t shifted one iota from his staunchly conservative positions.

      That said, Rising is a breath of fresh air when compared to anything running on the CIA-infiltrated mainstream news networks and even with his crap takes Saagar is levels above anyone of Fox.

      1. Massinissa

        ShameCancelling is stupid because… It doesnt work. If anything it makes people cling to their views harder.

        I’m against ‘Cancelling’ people. At worst, its a way of stifling dissent, and at best, it does nothing except entrench peoples viewpoints. Either outcome is a failure. It makes the liberals, and by proxy ‘the left’ (since to most people that’s a distinction without a difference, unfortunately…) look bad. But of course the Wokerratti don’t care much about that because it makes them feel better in the short term, I guess? But I do wonder what the cost of this kind of political catharsis will be.

        Sorry for the tangent, I know it doesn’t have much to do with the discussion at hand, but since you mentioned that some people think shame-cancelling right wing populists would do anything positive, I had to get this off my chest.

      2. Dr. John Carpenter

        This is a really good take and I agree with you completely. It seems like especially recently Saagar’s Republican has been showing more and more w/r/t the law and order side of things. I’m still not into the cancel culture though and, maybe I’m naive, but I do think there’s common ground to be found.

      3. WJ

        I would bet that on the whole the working class in the US shares more with Saagar than Ball on social and cultural issues.

      4. Jen

        If you have right wing acquaintances, use the words: “hand marked paper ballots, hand counted in public.” In my experience, it’s an hell of an opening. One friend agreed and added “need valid ID.” I identified all the legit challenges to getting one in my largely white rural state, which was news to him. I don’t have to agree with this dude on everything, but where we do agree, we can help each other, and sometimes introduce each other to different perspectives.

        1. BlakeFelix

          Although I will say that IMO, the government has your ID already, they could easily print or display it on the checklist when you go to vote and save everyone the trouble of finding or getting one. It would be harder to fake too, not that anyone votes with fake IDs.

    2. hunkerdown

      If we borrow the definition of violence as the removal of a person from their context against that person’s active resistance, monument toppling is indeed an existential threat to the context that supports the culture of the Big Man, which is consequently an existential threat to rank, which, having been told and shown all their lives that they are better than the Black man even if they are inferior in every other way, feels like the only thing poor whites haven’t had stolen from them yet.

      1. Billy

        If everything is race, if excellence and competence take a back seat to melanin, then in that case, many white people might decide to vote only for other white people, assuming they reflect their cultural/economic values, i.e. Support for M4A.

        Once the monster of racial identity is applied to everything in society, especially in an ongoing Depression, where the pie is shrinking as the slices thin out,
        it may have consequences far different than its promoters intended.

  5. Ignacio

    I have commented before about those ugly slopes in California, Texas, Florida ans specially Arizona which is now seeing the highest Covid-19 incidence by this metric. Arizona has just confirmed nearly 3.800 cases that for its 7.400.000 population is in my opinion very close, if not above the “out of control” territory. Bear in mind that confirmed cases represent contagions occurring about 12 days ago and if the population is not reacting to these news and the HC authorities of Arizona aren’t releasing serious warnings the number of “real” contagions as for today cound easily be well above 14.000 depending on the fraction of positives missed by the system. So I hope at least such serious warnings have already been issued. This would help even in case nothing else is done..

    1. Wukchumni

      I’m of the opinion that Az is our weirdest state, and the most likely to tear itself apart, given the chance. The idea it’s chock full of gun enthusiasts only adds fuel to the fire. I’m content to watch the proceedings from what seems like a safe distance, but knowing how copycat this country is, you wonder if other states will follow it’s lead?

      1. Ignacio

        The good news for California is that, according to current numbers, Arizona goes about two weeks in advance regarding the reach of Covid-19 and can function as the canary in the mine if things explode rather than the example to follow.

      2. a different chris

        Weirdest on your side of the Mississippi maybe.

        Nothing will ever hold a candle to Florida.

        1. Wukchumni

          Florida Man is more likely to attempt to hold up a 7-11 with an overripe banana, and demand all of their horoscopes. He’s kind of harmless.

      3. Carolinian

        Weirdest state–Edward Abbey fans would probably say that is Utah although they aren’t likely to “tear themselves apart” given the heavy LDS control.

        I doubt Arizona’s mix of rich retirees and gun toting rednecks are going to do that either although they may burn the forests down or pave it over with strip malls.

        Much of their current population seems to have come from California–hence the ever sprawling Phoenix metro.

      4. ArcadiaMommy

        Most people living AZ in my experience are from CA, TX, MN, NY, IL and WI. Make of that what you will.

        Disclosure: I am 3rd generation Californian. My husband is 4th generation Californian.

    2. GF

      The gov punted to the cities and counties for requiring masks or not as Trump came to town yesterday and the gov can’t offend. Today’s total was down some to 1,800 new cases. Still 3 times pre-opening up daily rate.

      1. Ignacio

        Several years ago I enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving day in an outdoors celebration with several neighbours (among them some relatives of mine) in Prescott, AZ. I am recalling this while thinking on these data.

    3. Carolinian

      Mesa and perhaps some other AZ cities have passed a mandatory mask law at the urging of the Governor. AZ’s deaths per 100k are still below 22 other states by my count and hugely below the Northeastern states. However it is greater than neighboring California but not greater than New Mexico. One should add that this is a state with a huge elderly population although many of them leave with the hot weather.


      1. Arizona Slim

        Tucson’s mayor just ordered public mask wearing. And, from what I’m seeing, rank -n- file Tucsonans are complying.

      2. Aumua

        People are complying because most if not all businesses are adopting a no mask/no service policy. It’s working pretty well.

        1. Ignacio

          Carolinian, Arizona Slim, Aumua: this is good news so it probably won’t spiral out of control.

          1. Aumua

            Yeah after being out today to several stores I am dialing back my positive outlook. Home depot was checking at the doors, but after that it was pretty much a free-for-all inside. A major supermarket was not checking at all, and many people were not masked. And really who can blame minimum wage employees for not wanting to bear the brunt of Karen’s anger at her liberties being infringed upon? If it’s up to the stores to do the enforcement then I think the management should be heavily involved to help defray the customer’s anger.

  6. Mark Gisleson

    That duck joke was so bad I’ve already shared it with three different friends.

    1. Robert Hahl

      This conforms to the rule that all jokes are in the present tense, as revealed in the grammar and usage book, “If You Catch an Adjective, Kill It” by Ben Yagoda. The only common exception is “Why did the chicken cross the road?” and even there, the the punchline is usually in the present.

      1. Ignacio

        Thanks to your comments I have just learned that a bill is also a beak. I now can imagine the angry tone of the duck. Just put it on my bill, stupid B$%rd!

      2. Jeff W

        That duck joke is, weirdly, one of only two jokes I know. The other is “A termite walks into a bar and asks ‘Is the bartender here?’”—well, it works if you hear it. They were the opening gambit of a speaker at some conference I attended maybe 35 years ago and, for some reason, I never forgot them—maybe because they satisfied some absolutely bare minimum if I was in some situation where I had to tell a joke. (I’m not big on jokes.)

        Actually, Ignacio, the way I originally heard it, the duck is at the cosmetics counter, trying on lipstick, and responds pretty matter-of-factly, maybe even nonchalantly, to the salesperson. There’s something to being deadpan.

        1. RMO

          “This guy walks into a doctor’s office with a duck on his head. The doctor says ‘Can I help you?’ and the duck says ‘Yeah, can you get this guy off my ass?'”

          One of the only jokes I can remember, courtesy of “My Favorite Year” For some reason, clever ones just don’t stick in my mind. Maybe jokes settle down and stay better in a mind that is more like they are…

  7. nippersmom

    As of 2:30 PM, Jamal Bowman is leading Eliot Engel 62% to 35%, with 100% of districts reporting. Even if Engel has a stronger performance in mail-in ballots than Bowman, that kind of deficit would be hard to come back from. In an email I received from his campaign earlier today, Bowman is claiming victory.

    Take that, Clinton, Pelosi, and Schumer.

  8. Seth Miller

    Early Voting

    This may sound foily, but the other benefit for entrenched power in early voting is that they know, or can learn, exactly how many votes they need to fabricate on election day. There’s a long chapter in Robert Caro’s biography of LBJ on how, in his first Senate race, LBJ made the mistake of being the first to report the results of the precincts he won. His opponent managed to scrounge up just enough votes to beat the total, in an election that Caro convincingly shows was rigged. The lesson: don’t be the first to report. The corollary: don’t enable your opponent to know your vote totals before all results are in.

    1. Keith

      Another issue regarding early voting is if you oppose it, you are accused of disenfranchising people, notably POC. Easy soundbite that is hard to fight with an equal soundbite.

      I think there should be some obstacles to voting, so you can weed out the low information types.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        so you can weed out the low information types.

        I would ask if they are a cable news viewer with a simple yes or no. If they add some line about how great their respective channel is or how great things would be if the enemy was banned, they should not only have their vote not counted but have an additional vote for the main opponent of their candidate.

      2. JohnH

        Anti-democratic sentiment, right there.

        I don’t want to weed out anyone. You sure you aren’t somebody else’s “low information type?”

          1. Massinissa

            Good thing we have neither a ‘True Democracy’ or a Republic. We have a Plutocratic Oligarchy now. Maybe we should worry actually having a Democratic Republic again before we worry about things becoming ‘too democratic’.

            1. JBird4049

              I’d say we are becoming a Kakistocracy instead. I wonder what Aristotle would have thought of it? He thought of an oligarchy as a bad form of an aristocracy with the former being a degraded version and the latter being the best form of form of government. However, our government seems to have zoomed into a worst form of rule by an incompetent, stupid, but still fairly cunning group.

        1. John Anthony La Pietra

          Even if your 5-1/2-year-old daughter is the only one who watches anything new on it?

    2. John

      Would it make sense to have early voting concentrated in a one or two week period preceding election day and to have the hours in the early morning, say 6:00-9:00 AM and then 5:00-9:00 PM? I know that requires many poll watchers; pay them. If you are truly interested in protecting and promoting voting, put your money where your mouth is.

      This will not ever happen because neither party is interested in the right to vote for everyone because you get the wrong people voting.

      Or, since Columbus is out of favor move that holiday to the Monday before election day, make election day a holiday, and have voting take place Saturday through Tuesday. With four days during which to vote everyone should have a shot at it. No need for early voting.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the other benefit for entrenched power in early voting is that they know, or can learn, exactly how many votes they need to fabricate on election day.

      Excellent point

  9. Tom Stone

    Where is the Clinton camp?
    The hatred of Clintonistas for Sanders and his supporters is open, however their dislike for Obama (Who STOLE the 2008 Nomination from “SHE who must be Elected”) is probably just as intense.
    HRC wouldn’t encourage her worshippers to do something nasty and underhanded to the Biden out of pique, would she?

    1. Mr. House

      Who cares? A few less lies to deal with, and we’ve got more then enough to work with.

    2. ambrit

      I agree. This is the political equivalent of the Western movie trope: “It’s quiet out there. Too quiet.”
      I still suspect there to be a power struggle going on in the Democrat Party elites between the Clintonistas and the Obamaites.

      1. Mr. House

        Perhaps they’re stirring the pot currently, remember that first appearance after her loss in 2016 when her and bill were both wearing purple? Who knows? All i know is that i don’t know.

    3. hunkerdown

      Those parts of Clinton World that still need gig flow have gone over to Obama World. The rest are just daydreaming. Methinks you underestimate the willingness of the ruling class to let one of their own just blow the whole thing up.

      HRC might do that in a fit of pique, sure, but the people around her will stop her from destroying the horn of plenty that keeps all of them well supplied with edgy art, special privileges, and people to parasitize and abuse. Thought experiment: Hillary says go. To whom? Who is going to endanger their own future employability in the next machine by going all out? Remember the concern-trolling of Briahna Joy Gray about her future employment prospects after calling out the entire political industry as corrupt? I’m very confident that the duopoly still wants the duopoly to maintain and in safe hands. When Hillary’s hands aren’t safe, well, I think a lot of parents have had the experience of prising dangerous articles from the hands of those ineptly or recklessly holding or wielding them.

    4. Pat

      Simple answer she doesn’t have to. At this moment Clinton is not overtly signalling her tanned, rested and ready state, but if she ever did…Well any candidate not named Hillary would face their wrath.

      Personally I think she is making sacrifices to the gods and sticking pins in Biden dolls waiting for him to fall apart so she can claim the nomination. If that doesn’t happen, well I can’t decide if sticking it to Obama or being able to tell Trump he lost to a vegetable would appeal more to her, so I am open about her position in September.

      1. John k

        I don’t think she wants the vegetable to win, it would make her look even less competent than she does now.
        Besides, elite dems such as blankfein don’t mind trump… what’s not to like? Sure he’s crass, but stocks are up, banks protected, and even better, trump keeps cutting taxes. And she’s always been a great rep for the elites. The danger is governing… and remember, Biden’s a veg, therefore not as predictable as you might want.
        She won’t actively oppose Biden, but she might not help much.
        More interesting is Obama… IMO he doesn’t like Biden, so the main thing was to keep sanders from the nom. That done he can get back above the fray. I doubt he finds those comfy walking shoes hiding under the bed.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Where is the Clinton camp?

      It may be that Clinton is as cray cray as Norma Desmond, but I doubt it. I think she wants to be a power broker*. Presumably she will be given a speaking slot at the Convention. The score-settling will be something to see.

      * After saving Eliott Engle’s bacon. Oh, wait….

  10. jo6pac

    You bet they will and behind a curtain of lies

    though somebody should ask The Biden™ if The Obama Alumni Association plans to revive it

    Sounds like the supervisor might be economists fpr the devo crowd.

    ‘It became clear that he didn’t have a rationale, he had a motive,’ Williams says. ‘And the motive was to keep money flowing to help develop and improve CHEETAH.’ Such ‘curve fitting’ renders the program incapable of making meaningful predictions, he says.” • All too plausible. And Williams is only suing for $600,000, so he’s not in it for the money.


    You need to add obombers name to the list

    1. nippersmom

      While I’m sure Obama is as displeased with the results as those I mentioned, to my knowledge he did not formally endorse Engel. I know Pelosi and Clinton did, and I believe Schumer may have as well (as did Hakeem Jeffries and the CBC, as noted by Annie). In the case of Pelosi and Clinton, the timing of the endorsements suggests they were in direct response to the Bowman endorsements by AOC and Sanders.

  11. scarn

    Siegel in that Tablet article says some true things about how parts of the elite discourse proceed entirely by id proxy and even witch hunting. He’s also wrong, imo, that this is new. It’s just that he’s unused to it being pointed at people like himself. Power has always been exercised like this. That doesn’t make it right, but it ain’t new.

    He also engages in some pretty blatant cherry picking of facts on every position that he covers. While I agree that it’s better to argue using empiricism and deduction than identity and accusation, he’s not exactly demonstrating that he cares very much about any portion of reality that doesn’t advance his position. And this sort of behavior is also not new. In fact it’s part of the thing that slogans like “believe women” are a reaction against. If your opponents are unwilling to accept your evidence, then why engage with them at all? Especially when they are the people defending your oppression. Power is a tricky thing, and it doesn’t play fair, right or left. Never has and never will.

    1. a different chris

      Thanks, I wasn’t able to put into words my issue with it… you pretty much nailed it.

      He whines like a sore loser, the kind that isn’t normally used to losing.

  12. Hepativore

    So Biden’s healthcare strategy for the pandemic and medical care in general is basically:

    “Do nothing as everything is just dandy and has been for decades, never mind the fact that COVID-19 treatment is probably going to cost thousands of dollars for the under-insured and uninsured and HMOs are going to use COVID-19 associated costs to raise everybody’s premiums by 40% next year. But hey, Trump is bad!”

    Neoliberalism rallies on.

    By the way, I think I remember hearing somewhere that Biden wants to bring back the ACA mandate penalty. Has anybody heard how serious he is about that? I am currently uninsured as even the Cigna bronze plan where I work is around 10% of my monthly meager income and the deductible is around $6000 and it hardly covers anything. There is no point in buying a plan I cannot afford in the first place that I could never afford to use. If I get COVID-19, I would probably try and get over it at home as I can neither afford treatment or health insurance at my job.

    1. PeterfromGeorgia

      My family and I (45 year old male, unhealthy, and two incredibly health middle schoolers) are all going “naked”, i.e. without insurance, because of the lack of penalty and cost. The cheapest bronze plan for my area was about $375 a month, plus no coverage until after the $6,000 deductible was left. We got no real protection until after we spent about $11,000 for the year.

      We have generally only gone for check ups (I’ve skipped for two years as I could not afford any treatment)for the last twelve years. The entire upper echelon of our medical industry can go die in a fire.

      1. Carla

        “The entire upper echelon of our medical industry can go die in a fire.”

        I’m with you there. I have never had to go without insurance, but insurance is not healthcare — and in fact, insurance denials killed my late husband.

        1. Copeland

          My wife and I refer to our “health” insurance as “Don’t lose the house in bankruptcy” insurance, because that’s all its good for.

    1. marku52

      Well they might find something if they did. Can’t have that.

      Big Pharma’s got Rx to sell.

      When you see the lead author of an HCQ study applying it at 4X the recommended max dosage, and reporting “side effects”, something smells in Denmark.

      Oh, and no zinc.

  13. Zagonostra

    >House Democrats tack to center with election year health care bill

    Politico’s headline should read “House Democrats tack to healthcare industry lobbyist.”

    The Majority of folks in this country want some sort of single payer system, be it M4A or some variation. That the political elites will do everything in their power to make sure that doesn’t happen speaks volume on our putative democracy.

    All you have to know about this country is how it treats those who have been laid off during this COVID-19 shutdown. If you don’t have a job, you more than likely can’t afford health insurance and you can just as well die, it is of no concern to Dems except to posture that they are different than the Repubs.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Lambert’s rules of neoliberalism in action!

      It seems the Democrat health care plan is exactly the same as how former Congressman Alan Grayson described the Republican’s plan: don’t get sick and if you do, die quickly.

      1. Procopius

        “House Democrats tack to center with election year health care bill” [Politico]

        I hate, hate, hate that hackneyed cliche. No, they didn’t/don’t “tack to the center.” They tack to the right, just as Bill Clinton’s “triangulation” was always to adopt Republican positions.

  14. FreeMarketApologist

    Activists and lawyers are alarmed by the unusually harsh charges being brought against them, and believe Mattis and Rahman should not be awaiting trial in jail. They say that they are not a threat to society — which the prosecution is arguing — and it is highly unlikely they’re a flight risk or will commit another crime.

    Means testing for your ‘get out of jail free’ card: “Mattis is a corporate lawyer educated at Princeton and NYU Law; Rahman went to Fordham Law and works for Bronx Legal Services”.

    While you may agree or disagree about whether anybody involved in these protests should be held, it seems like ‘activists and lawyers’ are looking for special treatment by reason of education and position.

  15. anon70

    “And as they are non essential, where’s the discussion about ‘restarting the economy’ = expanding non essential activity that restores prior levels of emissions???” Warren B(anker?) Mosler

    Except many of the “non essentials” (excluding exotic racing components for your cars, etc., of course) are, in effect, the “mess of pottage” sold to the public in exchange for their legally stolen (via, for example, a government-privileged usury cartel) family farms, businesses and homes.

    Now you wish to take away their “mess of pottage” too? Think your head is that well seated?

    How about instead advocating for the restoration of those stolen birthrights (of citizenship) so that people have better things to spend their money on than consumer junk and waste-times? So they can have real hope and not pitiful desperation?

      1. ChrisPacific

        I can’t read all of it, but here are the three statements attributed to Obama (“P” = president apparently):

        “These are unusual times”
        “Make sure you look at thing + have the right people on it”
        “Is there anything I shouldn’t be telling transition team?”

        After the last one we have “Flynn -> Kisylak calls but appear legit” from “D” who is identified as FBI director Comey. And there is a heading at the top (attributed to “D.DAC” or something similar) that says “Flynn calls – other countries” which would seem to establish the context.

        It would seem to prove that Obama was involved, but I don’t see it proves much more than that. “Have the right people on it” could be interpreted a lot of ways (including making sure it was done by the book).

        1. Duke of Prunes

          There is a video going around from March of this year – I couldn’t figure out how to extract it from the twitter thread where I saw it – where Biden says “I was never a part or had any knowledge of any criminal investigation into Flynn while I was in office, period. Not one single time.”

          I have no hope that Obama or Biden will get prosecuted for anything, but Trump can probably use this to good effect (or not). Also, a lot of right wingers are giddy about what Flynn might know, and now be able to say, that made him such a focus of the Obama admin.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > “These are unusual times”

          Obama, master of irony.

          > “Have the right people on it” could be interpreted a lot of ways (including making sure it was done by the book).

          Reminds me of “‘Give the driver a day off,’ Uncle Enzo says” in Snow Crash (Uncle Enzo being a Mafia Don).

          If it’s gonna be done by the book, you don’t have to say it should be done by the book. That is the point of having the book.

    1. anon

      Biden would probably throw the first pitch to second and then claim that the second baseman and catcher traded places.

      1. RMO

        @anon: And then follow that up with a story about the time in college when he struck out Babe Ruth. And get very angry at anyone who questions the veracity of the story.

  16. JWP

    Regarding policing bills. Anything DC turns out in the way of police “reform” will be a joke. Paramilitary policing style has bipartisan support and attempts to undo it are not accepted. GOP will weaponize the dems blocking the bill as standing in the way of reform and the dems will claim to be on the BLM side and want more. The election of Jamaal Brown is a start but in terms of federal laws and even state ones, this movement has a long ways to go. One wonders if it is better to change the societal mindset on the matter before legislation.

  17. Mr. House

    I honestly hope trump loses the election just so i don’t have to hear about him or people who hate him anymore.

    1. JWP

      Then the new thing will be “at least Biden isn’t trump” as the country continues to crumble.

      1. Massinissa

        Pat is right. To my knowledge “Biden isn’t Trump” is the main slogan of the Biden campaign, and their main strategy for winning. Basically in every Biden ad, its all attacks on Trump and his record. Whenever the dems say anything about Corona or the Economy, its not about what they will do better, but that Trump is doing a bad job, as if that implies they know what they can do better than Trump without them letting anyone know what exactly their plan is.

        1. JWP

          Very true. I was thinking the same slogan will be used justify terrible policy from Biden and the dems if he wins in November.

    2. Keith

      I am leaning opposite, as I found the outrage quite comical, like people lining up to scream en mass of the vagina hat movement. It was quite ridiculous.

    3. ambrit

      I want a “None of the Above” candidate on the ballot. Staying away does not invalidate the election. Voting for either candidate this time is a vote against society. A way to measure the disgust of the electorate is needed. Something that can be quantified, such as a “None of the Above” positive vote. Such would be the quintessential idpol result: “We’re against them all because they aren’t us!”
      I mean, it isn’t as if we were being given anything to vote for this cycle, just endless reams of ‘against.’

      1. rowlf

        If you mean “None of the Above” as a selection on the ballot? That would be an awesome measure of discontent.

        “Jones, what do you read from these poll numbers?”
        (Weaselly Palmer voice) “Sir, I think the dog lifted his leg over the dogfood dish. We’re pretty sure nobody liked any of the candidates.”

      2. Tom Doak

        The ultimate rule would be, if “None of the Above” beats your party’s nominee, your party doesn’t get to run in the next race for the same seat.

    4. rowlf

      Think of the lost ad revenue. There’ll be news outlets filing for bankruptcy. Pundits have families to feed.

  18. Bruno

    Plato’s phrase “Noble Lie” (“gennaios pseudos”) is almost totally misused. The fact is that in the “Republic” (“politeia”) Sokrates introduces the phrase in reply to an objection that the “Guardians” will never accept a spartiate collective existence denying them any form of private wealth or private family life. He says that they will have been taught the “Noble Lie” that because their souls, unlike those of the members of civil society, are made of precious metals they have no need to own any private wealth. That, and only that, is the proper reference to the “Noble Lie” meme

    1. periol

      Well apparently some people in our society deserve masks and some don’t, or did at first. The mouthpieces quickly suggest medical personnel so we don’t spend any time wondering why medical facilities weren’t already well-stocked with masks. Perhaps people like Fauci do actually believe there are soul intrinsic reasons behind this lie which you think shouldn’t be called noble (maybe he’s done a soul regression, and *shocker* it turns out he was a significant personage in past lives too). Seems to me this fits the OG meme pretty well.

      Personally, I had long arguments with older family members about masking up with no success at first, and of course this whole episode just deepens the suspicion that this admission on masks is covering up other lies from the professionals about COVID-19. Everything about the reaction of the US government to this thing has felt half-baked from the beginning, but I still can’t quite put my finger on the why without venturing into conspiracy territory. There could be truth there, but it’s all speculation at this point. If the answer is incompetence, corruption, and greed – things are going to get uglier than they are.

      1. The Rev Kev

        If masks were in short supply, why did the government simply not make themselves priority customer for them with Amazon, medical supply companies, etc? It would have been all behind the scenes and seamless. Instead, they got themselves to the point where they were stealing medical supplies bound for other countries.

        I suspect that when this is all over, people will be shocked to learn at what was happening to all those masks. Based on one story featured here, I suspect that large quantities were going to places like Israel instead of places where they were needed like New York instead. Just a suspicion mind.

  19. Wukchumni

    Quite the hea culpa there Lambert, but all is forgiven now that the mask of read debt has been paid. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re all you’ve got.

    What we need now is an N-95 with a tiny speaker inside so others can hear our mumbling when attempting to converse.

    1. Aumua

      A mask with an embedded microphone inside that goes to a little speaker on the outside. That is a million dollar idea right there.

  20. DS

    Interesting work by the Guardian on water bills: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/23/millions-of-americans-cant-afford-water-bills-rise. Working in the regulatory world, I can tell you with 100% surety that your water and wastewater bills (including stormwater fees for some areas) will soon be the largest of your utility bills. Decades of deferred maintenance and ever increasing water quality and stormwater requirements are going to put the squeeze on operators and customers alike. Those water quality and stormwater requirements are good things – just unfunded mandates. EPA does not have to deal with ratepayers. One can conceivably live without electric for a time, not so without water. If you don’t pay your sewer or stormwater bill, they often can shut your water off. Many parts of this country are also facing a cliff of potential utility terminations for non-payment due to COVID-19. The rules are set that utilities are made whole, whether that cost is socialized to other ratepayers or to taxpayers is largely the only nuance. Good times!

  21. Keith

    Regarding the $600,000 lawsuit, it could be a tactical consideration. Back in my law school days, I interned with the Feds. If the amount of money is considered small enough, they opt to settle regardless of merit (you do need a prima facie showing, of course). the first hurdle is looking at the cost of setting foot into court, if less, cheaper to settle rather than deal with it, and the front line attorney can make the deal, and is pressured by superiors if they don’t. Then there is a tiered process that trickles up the authority chain. It is possible this is a way to look for a little payback. It is the course I would opt for.

  22. JWP

    Here in Portland the already large homeless population is booming most likely due to COVID and will continue to do so as evictions and unpayable bills begin to mount. At a certain point the number of people who can’t afford to live within the confines of the mainstream economy gets large enough rebellion creeps into mind (perhaps not a bad thing)

    1. Wukchumni

      Back in the day, a homeless panhandler working the streets could garner enough to eat, but woe is he or she being a pandemic holder, who wants to even get close to them in this perilous period, and dumpster diving @ restaurants is out, because most everything is takeaway now.

      1. jr

        Bingo. I was originally worried that the sizable summer homeless population in the West Village would explode when the extinction event levels of evictions start come August, and no doubt it will to a degree, but one of the major attractions, food scraps, will be in short supply. That is of course true citywide. There are usually mounds of trash to forage through but with restaurants at half business etc. It’s a huge loss for those unfortunates, as grossly sad a reality as that is.

        I’ve taken to carrying a couple of singles loose in my front pocket when I get asked…it’s better than fumbling for your wallet or into your purse and, a bit more pragmatically, lowers any chances of a snatch and run. I got asked three times today walking two big and one little block…

        1. ambrit

          We’re leading up to a situation like the end of the 1930’s film, “I Was a Fugitive From a Chain Gang,” where Paul Muni, facing his old girlfriend on the street answers to her question of, “How do you live?,” with the cry, “I steal!”
          See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttKg62pkcc8
          I fear that we are going to see a lot of Paul Munis roaming our streets soon.

    2. Jason Boxman

      In DC they know how to deal with that; The veteran’s bonus march comes to mind. Burned to the ground.

  23. Wukchumni

    Re: N-95 masks

    The fellows that work at our mercantile in town told me that a Chinese gent that barely spoke English bought every last one they had on hand (several hundred) in early January, and then came back a few weeks later and did the same thing after they had restocked. They never received another N-95 from their wholesaler after the 2nd round.

    I’d imagine the same scenario played out all across the country as arbitrage loves an opening, and seeing as they were all made in the PRC, it was fitting they all went back there.

    1. TroyIA

      I was just going to mention that. Fauci is being disingenuous by saying that lying about masks was to prevent hoarding by the general public. By mid February all of the masks were already gone so at that point their was no reason to lie. Just be honest at tell people to make their own.

      1. albrt

        Yeah, this is not making Fauci (or the PMC in general) look good by any stretch of the imagination.

      2. richard

        yes, what i don’t understand is why the government didn’t just say:
        “Masks will help prevent the spread of covid-19
        we know this for sure
        and they help us not individually, so stop, STOP thinking of them that way
        but socially
        by keeping the virus out of our shared airspace
        that’s just how they work and what they do
        they work socially
        now right now we don’t have nearly enough, especially of the N-95 kind
        because (assign scapegoat)
        but that doesn’t matter much, we can all improvise and keep the virus out of our shared airspace
        use scarfs, bandanas, torn up sheets, whatever
        so let’s ALL do this and really flatten that curve”
        It occurs to me that the only reason to not say something like this, would be that you’re more afraid of people working together and thinking socially, than you are of the virus. Please tell me I’m wrong.
        how scary are our leaders?

  24. jr

    “The Coalition to End Social Isolation & Loneliness consists of national stakeholders…”

    Just to let you know that the people helping you combat your isolation stand to lose something as well in all this….to be fair.

    I can smell the non profit grifters gathering…

    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      All those stakes grilling. Too bad that dish is neither rare nor well done. . . .

  25. William Hunter Duncan

    “In possession of justice, the arguer-commander is free at any moment to throw off the cloak of reason and proclaim you a bigot—racist, sexist, transphobe—who must be fired from your job and socially shunned.”

    A long time writer and commentator online, I am in self-exile. My last refuge for commentary, MinnPost.com, local to me and an excellent source for local news, has become a bastion for neoliberal New Democrats, where anyone espousing any idea contrary to what the NYT or WaPo would say, is clearly a racist, bigot, misogynist right wing Trump fanatic, or a racist bigot misogynist berniebro.

    Assange and Snowden are fascists. Putin owns Trump, and Trump and everyone who voted for him wants a fascist dystopia. Income inequality is the evolution of the marketplace. Bezos is the greatest of examples of American ingenuity and hard work. Obama is a model of decorum and thoughtfulness. The military is keeping us safe. The ACA is the gold standard of Health Care. Biden is going to restore normalcy and dignity to America. Renewables will allow us to maintain the status quo unto eternity. There are no illegal immigrants, only immigrants, and anyone coming to the border deserves refuge. There has always been an over-abundance of good paying jobs obviously so the only reason black people make less than white people is systemic racism. The only ecological crisis is too much CO2. Farming is a backward life so industrial ag, corporations and finance are best and most efficient af food production.

    Any deviation from this, and your argument is total nonsence, devoid of logic, absent of any and all reason, without facts of any kind, a straw man etc fallacy….

    1. Massinissa

      “Income inequality is the evolution of the marketplace”

      Good GOD is that what they’re saying now? That has so many terrible implications. I guess the market ‘evolved’ to unfortunately disfavor black people, huh? Too bad, must be nothing that can be done about it then… Such utter nonsense.

      “Over abundance of good paying jobs” Yes, that makes perfect sense, what with 20% of people unemployed and even before covid tons of people were underemployed. Man these people… They all sound like middle class white people who don’t understand what ‘working class’ even means.

      Those other statements are all variable amounts of nuts too, but those two in particular really grind my gears. Hell, I thought the first one was something only Republicans said, honestly. Didn’t realize it had spread to the Clintonites.

      1. hunkerdown

        They understand what “working class” means: those who are obligated to serve the middle class. Just another reason the entire “middle class” framing as some indispensable component of a just society needs to be burnt so thoroughly that there are no ashes left. /unpopularopinion

    2. jr

      It sounds like a forum for poorly wired Tru-Blu Animatronic characters, dozens of plastic Hillaries and Bidens and O’bummers shrieking idiocies and maniacally thumping drums…heads aimlessly twisting back and forth in 180 degree arcs, jaws flopping…

      1. polecat

        Right, just like those deathly robotic killers in the film ‘Screechers’.

        Why won’t they die!

    3. The Rev Kev

      Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled commenters yearning to write free, The wretched refuse of your teeming internet. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door of NC!

  26. Mikel

    I’m sitting here horrified that I received a jury summons in LA County with the spike going on.
    Courthouse and jails ….yeah…lovely places to be near.

    1. ambrit

      See if someone can get you a full face CBW mask. You know them, they are what the well dressed Apocopaliste is wearing this year.
      An easy way to get out of serving would be to demand “hazard pay” from the court for jury duty.

        1. ambrit

          Good luck there!
          If you are “of a certain age” you might say that you are in the high risk group for catching the coronavirus. That or, if you have ever had pneumonia.

  27. Toshiro_Mifune

    The limits of White Fragility’s anti-racism
    The Chapo episode is enjoyable on this.

    From the article;

    We need more than white guilt to destroy racism in this country.

    True. But you do need white guilt as a control mechanism to assure that the middle class keeps paying attention to IdPol issues rather than class ones.

    1. Dirk77

      Watching over dinner tonight, Tucker Carlson went after Diangelo and her White Fragility book, especially the line that those who look for economic causes of inequality are racist. Sounds as if he’s about one week away from having Adolf Reed on the show.

  28. Tomonthebeach

    Biden’s transition team.

    Lambert’s remarks about Avril Haines and other security wonks suggests that a lot of Never-Trump Republicans and intel wonks are motivated to restore the power and influence of US intelligence agencies (of which CIA is but one of many) at the expense of their own GOP. It also underscores that Biden is a re-regressive liberal; not a pro-gressive one.

  29. Pat

    Sanders was shut down very effectively. There is no longer any need to even give lip service to the notion that every one deserves healthcare.
    That we are currently in a growing depression with huge job losses leaving millions without employer provided insurance during a pandemic….well…I’m sure they’ll take a knee to honor the dead and bankrupt even as they find a way to make unborn grandchildren responsible for the bills they left behind.

  30. Tomonthebeach

    Minority Lawyer Vandals

    One could not find a better example of systemic racism that the charges brought to these two shave-tail attorneys. They deserve punishment. But why were they arrested and not any white vandals? Why are they being not so much prosecuted as persecuted? Whose idea was that?

    Vandalizing a police car during a riot clearly qualifies for disbarment. Isn’t that enough of a punishment?

    1. Tom Doak

      Vandalizing a police car during a riot clearly qualifies for disbarment. Isn’t that enough of a punishment?

      Unfortunately, that would be the rationalization if the perps were white professionals. No need to punish the [white] PMC via the law enforcement system, just take away some of their status and privileges. [For a while, not permanently, of course.]

      The legal system is really there only to be used against others. That’s why people are protesting.

  31. Jeff N

    re: diabetes/Covid – My 81-year-old father came down with some similar-to-COVID symptoms in late-May.

    why it might have been covid:
    * sore throat/cough, with a fever that came and went
    * may have come down with pneumonia afterwards (they gave him a chest x-ray then prescribed him antibiotics for it. Though “was prescribed antibiotics” probably isn’t proof of a diagnosis.
    * is suddenly diabetic now (can it simply be corrected with better diet?)
    * mental changes – voice is different/weaker, personality suddenly very different (sleeps as much as he can, avoids his spouse) and was just diagnosed with depression by his doctor and prescribed an SSRI (he used to take SSRI several years ago for anxiety; I don’t know why he stopped)

    why it might not be covid:
    * tested negative twice, never positive
    * never lost smell or taste
    * blood oxygen is normal
    * are there kinds of dementias with sudden onsets?

  32. Tom Denman

    “Dozens of Republican former U.S. national security officials to back Biden” [Biden link #2 above]

    Yes, Democrats are the new Republicans: They have become the party of Joe McCarthy and George W. Bush.

    At least the warmongering Eliot Engel is out (unless the Deep State pulls some funny business with all those as yet uncounted absentee ballots).

    1. Tom Doak

      The way Washington works, Eliot Engel will probably become Biden’s Secretary of Defense.

      Fail upwards!

  33. hunkerdown

    A couple of data points from getting dinner to go today:

    My car grew a Trump 2020 sticker somehow while waiting for my order. Low-effort, Young Republicans-tier, Comic Sans stuff, with a goofy “Vote Red” flag in the middle. It came off the bumper easily with a plastic scraper and some isopropanol.

    The meat surcharges seem to have been reverted at my two main foraging establishments.

  34. Jason Boxman

    Random thought on COVID-19;

    If we expand our idea of intimacy to include moderate proximity and not just physical intimacy, COVID-19 is strikingly similar to an STD. And for that, we have testing, free at the point of care, so individuals can plan accordingly. If we had robust, rapid testing for COVID-19, people could get tested before engaging in ‘social intimacy’ with other individuals and groups. Coupled with near universal mask usage, and some halfway decent treatment options, we could almost have a semi-functional society again, I think.

    (Setting aside issues like we’ve learned that in some immigrant communities, testing positive for COVID-19 is itself a stigma, much like an STD.)

    Or is that just post-workout exhaustion talking?

  35. VietnamVet

    Since the Mexican War and the annexation of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California the United States has been a North American Empire that went global after defeating Imperial Japan in 1945. The South after having an Army march through it, freeing of the slaves, loss of wealth, and occupation by federal troops was literally the nation’s back water. Robert E Lee’s surrender and the Great Compromise re-unified the Union. This cemented the North American Empire for the next century and half. The Ruling Elite told their stories, built their monuments, and named Army bases after Southern generals for reunification. Air-conditioning sealed the deal.

    But Donald Trump and the coronavirus pandemic have collapsed the global Western Empire. Once overthrown, the Roman, Soviet and Confederate Monuments were torn down.

    On August 15, 2020 (VJ Day) it will be 75 years since America’s last victory. Doubtful that American media will note that the date. 2020 could also mark the death of the older North American Empire. It (the USA) can only survive if constitutional democracy is restored, the unrest ends, and the pandemic is controlled.

  36. squarecoats

    Hi, in the spirit of a water cooler I was hoping to ask if anyone has any book recommendations for the following context: my friend’s mom is trying to pick a book for her book group at a Unitarian Universalist church. The church is in a quite affluent predominantly white town that’s a couple towns over from a major city that has been having ongoing demonstrations following George Floyd’s murder. The members of the book group are hoping to read a book that will offer them some insight into the demonstrations as well as things generally related to the demonstrations that have been going on in the United States during recent weeks. They also are hoping to find some starting ground for exploring ways they might be able to become meaningfully involved, so my thoughts are that it would be cool to find some books that are about antiracist activism from a perspective that also totally engages with class consciousness/considerations as well.

    Any recommendations or thoughts are much appreciated!

      1. vlade

        Re your second link – in fact, there were some Southerners who saw slavery as a problem and tried to figure out ways how to keep the South economy productive w/o it. Most of them failed, because slavery was just so eggregiously profitable.

        A slave would pick on average of 120 pounds of cotton/day, with a pound of cotton fetchnig about 7-8 cents at the farm gate in 1850, so say $8/day. IIRC, the cotton picking season is about 6 weeks, so 6*7*8 ~$340. For a labour that could be had at $400, and was expected to self-support (i.e. grow their own food too). So first year (because the slaves didn’t work just the six weeks of course) paid for the slave, and then every other year was just profit (ex some small fixed costs).

        Cottom + slavery was a way to mint money.

    1. Procopius

      I haven’t read it yet myself, but I recently have seen very strong recommendations for W.E.B. Du Bois’s “Black Reconstruction.” The subtitle is, “An essay toward a history of the part which black folk played in the attempt to reconstruct democracy in America, 1860-1880.” After that, James Baldwin, and I would recommend “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” None of these are recent, but the situation hasn’t changed.

  37. jr

    Re: Games

    I was a serious gamer, a five year veteran of EVE, which is quite possibly the most complicated and time absorbing game in existence. The racism, misogyny, and moron libertarianism was rampant. I made it a rule not to discuss those issues online because I knew I would be targeted…literally.

    1. Massinissa

      Moron Libertarianism? In EVE, the Space Capitalism game where everyone joins a space corporation to do space capitalism with big fancy space ships? You don’t say! I would be more surprised if that game DIDN’T attract Libertarians.

      And when he says he could be literally targeted, he means it. Worse, he could lose *real world money* from being targeted and killed, because you can buy in game currency with dollars (and vice versa I think), so getting your fancy expensive space ship killed by trolls can be a big deal. Large battles in the game sometimes have dozens or hundreds of ships explode, with losses counted in hundreds of thousands of real world USD. At least one battle involved losses of a million dollars in in-game ships. Oof? EVE is a very unique game but one I have no interest in playing ever. Its one of those games where everyone’s heard of it because its absolutely nuts but almost nobody has ever played it because… Its absolutely nuts.

      I don’t know if Moron Libertarianism is universal in gaming, I think EVE just attracts them like a magnet due to the concept of the game itself, but oh boy, racism and misogyny sure are pretty close to universal in gaming. Not sure I’ve ever seen a (video) gaming community that didn’t have both of those in spades. Rather dissappointing, to be honest.

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      Hmm, I suspect that’s heavily a function of the brash youthful whatever-gets-a-rise nature of the online videogaming community (no disrespect to the gaming hobby). Not that there aren’t noxious adult trolls there too….

      The old school hex wargaming communities I follow trend over 50, uni educated (largely but not exclusively white and 99.5% male), historically literate and mainly bourgeois moderate left/right when politics does come up. I mean, we’re all comfortable enough to afford leisure time for gaming.

      There are enough non-Americans active to challenge any Trump/prepper/LostCause blob. Generally, most folks agree to disagree, and heated arguments tend to be over historical issues of ‘fact’, not the present. Basically grognard esoterica piFFing contests.

      Bigotry, IdPol shame nunning and neonzi revisionism/denial/fanbois all get rebutted swiftly and eruditely by the members, with full support of the mods. And I’ve actually seen a lot of hearts and minds get changed over time.

      Also, these boards tend to be conversations, not just people tweeting past each other or soapboxing as they please.

    3. jr

      @ Massinissa

      I have had two girlfriends who have told me in no uncertain terms if they ever saw me playing it, I’m gone. They weren’t kidding. Another got tired of Russian voices and mine laughing together at 3:30 AM. “Comrade Alx, the fleet is ready!” People have literally gotten divorced over EVE…people have also been married in game…one lawyer in Chicago never even flew his ship, he just ran an espionage ring that tried to get powerful players to betray their corps. The EVE market is one, if not the, largest virtual marketplaces on Earth. It studied by economists…

      And yes, the game can run you some real cash….I think the first Titan (biggest, most powerful ships) ever destroyed in battle cost 1500$ alone. That’s not game money, that’s money the pilot paid through Pay Pal for rare modules etc. One of my specializations was as a cloaky scout, unarmed, slipping into heavily defended systems, leading 10K$ fleets. You have to earn that trust, believe me, those guys will ruin your game life if you screw up. It’s >real< pressure…and IIRC PLEX are bought and sold as real world currency.

      Here is an article about what at the time was the biggest player to player game….in history:


      @ Objective Function

      I would agree with other MMOs but the average age of an EVE player tends to be older than the norm, I believe. There are many players in their 50s and 60s, it ain’t no HALO. It’s not just spunky teens dropping n and c bombs cause they can, there’s real animus out there towards POC, queerfolk, greens…and if people disagree with you, and your Corp is a 24/7 (big enough to have players online round the clock), those people will literally be unable to undock without getting disintegrated.

      Maybe this has changed, it’s been years, I hope so…

      1. jr

        And for clarification, I don’t think all libertarians are morons. I do agree with some libertarian positions, in fact, just a few. But the ones on EVE are the kind that get spluttering mad because California is seeking emission controls or something ridiculous.

        I remember one guy furiously ranting, I mean apoplectic with rage, because one of the high ranking managers involved with the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe was being sued again. “When will they leave him alone!? He has a family!!” I never heard a word of concern for the people harmed by the disaster; there were plenty of approving comments about all the sea life it must have killed. One guy suggested they use sea otters to plug any leaks…

      2. hunkerdown

        > I have had two girlfriends who have told me in no uncertain terms if they ever saw me playing it, I’m gone.

        This makes me hopeful. And also goes some way to explain 4chan’s /pol/ and the incel movement. Thanks for this.

        But man… wars getting started because of IT failures…

        Manfred Sideous of Pandemic Legion claimed that the missed payment resulted from a bug, as he had enough ISK in his holding corporation wallet and had autopay checked

        1. jr

          It gets worse than that:


          and then there was the time Band of Brothers members who were also developers cheated by providing BoB ammo their competitors, GoonSwarm, couldn’t get. They still lost and paid dearly:

          “but if they lost even one Titan in this way… well, Titans have an estimated value of around $5,645 US. [source]”


          I take back my earlier estimate of 1500$ per Titan. Sheesh.

          Thanks for your comments! And yeah, the real hardcore gaming world, much more I suspect than the console chump scene, is conducive to those kinds of mindsets, especially a game as life devouring as EVE. You form real bonds with your mates.

          Once, when facing homelessness, my first and best EVE buddy Freebird offered to help me move from PA to MI where we would set up a stealthy services Corp of our own…he had at least three flatscreens dedicated to the game in his basement, one for the market and the others to fly…Bird was a mute so I would speak for him in game when necessary. I talked him through some of his marital troubles, he talked me through my problems. We had each other’s backs. I’m literally tearing up thinking about him…

          I’ve had to talk guys down from hysterical fits because they lost ships…guys have come home with newborns and immediately get them on comms so everyone can say hi…I’ve heard girlfriends and wives screaming through players mics that’s it’s been “3 g@d d@m*ed days!! and get off or else…”

          Soyou can imagine the rabbit holes that isolated souls dig for themselves, echo chambers of hate and loneliness compounded with real risks and real, real bloodlust. Also, gambling, rampant and as addictive as the real world variety…it’s the black hole of MMO rabbit holes…

  38. sam

    Re the update about masks: +100 to Lambert’s comments about Fauci’s lies. Not just Fauci: at the beginning of March, Barbara Ferrer of the LA County Dept of Health issued a press release denying that there could be asymptomatic spread of COVID and (amazingly for a public health official) encouraging everyone to go out to shows and restaurants. Totally wrong and known to be so at the time. Fauci has at least come clean – Ferrer has since had the release deleted from the Dept’s online archive so if you didn’t grab it then you will not find it.

  39. teri

    Re: face masks.

    Back in Jan and Feb, after Covid19 was starting to show its ugly face and the WH had been informed of the possible severity of the threat, the administration encouraged US companies to sell medical supplies, including masks, to China. The Commerce Dept even had a special program for this, sending out information to manufacturers telling them how to most easily sell critical medical supplies to China via Beijing’s fast-tracked sales process. The administration did not end the program until March 4, by which time manufacturers had increased PPE exports to China by over 1000% compared to the same time last year.

    In other words, the current administration was using the pandemic to get some profits for US companies rather than to make sure the US had adequate supply for internal use. (That’s some “America first” policy ya got going there, Trump.)

    Also, in Feb the US donated almost 18 tons of medical supplies to China.

    Trump invoked the Defense Production Act on April 2, acting like he’d had no idea that US companies were selling abroad rather than servicing the US.

    Perhaps Fauci was aware of the reasons for shortages of masks and other PPE or perhaps not, but I have no doubt he was made aware there was a shortage and was trying to help the administration cover up the fact by saying that masks were useless.

    The following article came out in mid-April. I believe that the WaPo does not have articles related to Covid19 behind a paywall, so one should be able to access it.


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