2:00PM Water Cooler 6/26/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Back to the states:

Our problem states again, with New York included as a comparison. Much of the coverage frames the current spiking as a Red State v. Blue State thing, but California that makes framing a little problematic. Yes, California has a bigger population and more capacity, but the curve is worrisome in itself. Caliornia should have this under control by now, especially given that their early response was effective and vigorous.

“Data map reveals the 23% of US counties that are currently seeing an uncontrollable growth in COVID-19 – as new model predicts Phoenix alone could see 28,000 new infections a DAY by July 18” [Daily Mail]. “Twenty three percent of counties across the United States are now seeing an uncontrollable growth in new COVID-19 infections, according to a data map – as model projections show Phoenix could see 28,000 new cases a day by July 18. A color-coded data map, compiled by spatial analytics company Esri, shows how the US is faring in terms of infections by tracking the number of new COVID-19 cases on a county level. Updated data from Thursday shows that large parts of the South and Southwest are showing an ‘epidemic trend’ or ‘spreading trend’ for new coronavirus infections…. Of the 3,141 counties across the country, 745 are currently experiencing an epidemic outbreak and 1,232 are seeing spreading trends, according to the data map. Nearly 670 counties are currently seeing a controlled trend in new coronavirus cases. According to the map, the entire state of Arizona is seeing either epidemic or spreading trends. ” • A link to the map (which I would include but at smal scale the color coding is awful.


“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

The electoral map. As of June 25: Lots of new polls. And yet so far the consensus (aggregating ten organizations) remains the same.

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!


Biden (D)(1): “Tammy Duckworth Is Battle Tested. Could She Help Joe Biden in His Biggest Mission?” [New York Times]. • Who did this. Who wrote this headline.

UPDATE Biden (D)(2): “Joe Biden and the empathy gap” [WaPo]. “The Biden camp, we reported, was operating from the premise that Biden could show voters how a president should conduct himself amid such a trying crisis, by setting an example for conduct — at the time, remaining on lockdown — that, while emotionally grueling, would ultimately benefit us all. This latest discussion of the hardships of social distancing seems like a continuation of that basic bet. Indeed, after Biden finished his speech, he put on his mask before heading offstage — a moment that seemed all about drawing this deeper contrast.” • The mask question will be interesting in the debates…

UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “Mandatory masks? Biden says as president he would require wearing face coverings in public” [NBC]. • An excellent example of followership, being about four months late. But at least Biden said it.

UPDATE Biden (D)(4): “Why Biden Is Rejecting Black Lives Matters’ Boldest Proposals” [Politico]. “The expected revolt of white suburbanites against the protests hasn’t materialized. Instead, they’ve joined them. ‘This is no longer a traditional wedge issue because all of a sudden white Americans, particularly college educated whites, understand that racism is real,’ said Cornell Belcher, a veteran Democratic pollster who worked for Barack Obama. ‘Those white suburban women now understand that they have skin in the racism game as well. And that changes everything.’… ‘I think Democrats didn’t know what to do at this moment and that’s typical,” said Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party and a social movement strategist. ‘Movements operate with different prerogatives than traditional electoral politics. Mass movements always lead—they come up with new ideas and surface problems that aren’t new but the surfacing of the problem makes visible something that had been invisible because we’ve tolerated it for so long and the problem has become woven into the fabric of the country.’ From this perspective, the fact that Biden is a relatively nonideological politician who has continuously shifted with the political tides to remain close to the consensus view of his party might be a feature, not a bug. • First time I can recall seeing “movement strategist” in print.

Trump (R)(1): “The Week It Went South for Trump” [Peggy Noonan]. This is brutal.

It was all weak, unserious and avoidant of the big issues. He wasn’t equal to that moment either.

His long-term political malpractice has been his failure—with a rising economy, no unemployment and no hot wars—to build his support beyond roughly 40% of the country. He failed because he obsesses on his base and thinks it has to be fed and greased with the entertainments that alienate everyone else. But his base, which always understood he was a showman, wanted steadiness and seriousness in these crises, because they have a sense of the implications of things.

He doesn’t understand his own base. I’ve never seen that in national politics.

Some of them, maybe half, are amused by his nonsense decisions and statements—let’s ban all Muslims; let’s end this deadbeat alliance; we have the biggest, best tests. But they are half of 40%, and they would stick with him no matter what. He doesn’t have to entertain them! He had to impress and create a bond with others.

The other half of his base is mortified by his antics and shallowness. I hear from them often. They used to say yes, he’s rough and uncouth and unpolished, but only a rough man can defeat the swamp. Now they say I hate him and what he represents but I’ll vote for him because of the courts, etc. How a lot of Trump supporters feel about the president has changed. The real picture at the Tulsa rally was not the empty seats so much as the empty faces—the bored looks, the yawning and phone checking, as if everyone was re-enacting something, hearing some old song and trying to remember how it felt a few years ago, when you heard it the first time.

Trump (R)(2): “Trump is headlining fireworks at Mount Rushmore. Experts worry two things could spread: virus and wildfire.” [WaPo]. “Trump’s reelection campaign is also leveraging the South Dakota trip to fill its coffers, according to fundraising invitations obtained by The Washington Post. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway will appear as “special guests” at two high-dollar fundraisers in the days before the event in Rapid City, S.D., and Gallatin Gateway, Mont., along with Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, campaign senior adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle. The retreat in Montana will run from June 30 to July 2 and features activities such as shooting and fly-fishing, according to the invite, while the ‘Rapid City Roundup’ will take place from July 2 to July 3. Tickets to the events cost $250 for a single-day attendee in Rapid City and between $250 and $100,000 for access to both events.” • The locals seem dubious. I’ve gotta say, though, that if Trump’s pyrotechnics do ignite a forest fire — what an outsize metaphor that would be! — the Republican Establishment, or what remains of it, might bestir themselves and nominate somebody more from the mainstream, like Pence or Cotton.

UPDATE Trump (R)(3): “Fauci Says Trump Considering Coronavirus Strategy Change: Group Testing” [Forbes]. “Using the pool testing method, health officials would combine samples from a large number of people and use one one test on the entire pool. If the test is negative, researchers would move on to the next pool of samples and would only test people individually if the test came back positive. ‘What you need to do is find the penetration of infected people in your society,’ Fauci told the Post. ‘And the only way you know that is by casting a broad net.’ … Dr. Anthony Fauci told the Washington Post in an interview on Thursday that health officials are having ‘intense discussions’ about making the switch because ‘something’s not working.'”

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UPDATE Please tell me this isn’t true:

I haven’t gotten to this episode on the West Wing podcast; if Huber is right, I’ll probably stroke out when I hear it.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “U.S. House on verge of approving Washington, D.C., statehood” [Reuters]. “Four decades after launching its drive for U.S. statehood, Washington, D.C. was poised to take a step toward becoming the 51st state as the House of Representatives on Friday was expected to approve its admission.” • Does race the stakes for control of the Senate.

UPDATE “Democrats are finally taking their Senate problem seriously” [The Week]. “Realistically, for a Biden administration to be able to govern effectively, they will have to abolish the filibuster, and likely make the District of Columbia and/or Puerto Rico a state. There are some signs Democrats are beginning to take the Senate obstacle seriously, with growing talk of filibuster reform and a House vote to make D.C. a state. Whether they will follow through may well determine whether the United States survives into the medium term.” • Too funny. Obama and Reid could have abolished the filibuster in 2009 and, say, passed #MedicareForAll, or, if that’s still too high a bar, a decent recovery package. Eleven years later, here we are….

UPDATE The Democrats could also pick up a Senator by splitting California in two. From America’s most lateral political thinker:

(Here is Donmoyer’s original letter.)

“Nancy Pelosi Just Protected The WTO From Trump, Other Democrats” [Forbes]. “House leader Nancy Pelosi just made sure that a vote to leave the World Trade Organization would not be taken up by this congress, going against other Democrats that think it’s time the U.S. considers leaving the multilateral trade body…. Before every vote in the House, a rule is passed for how bills will be voted on. In that rule, Pelosi slipped in the line saying WTO could not be brought up…. Republican Senator Josh Hawley was given a thumbs up to force Senators to vote on whether or not to stay in the WTO. No vote on membership has been held in around 15 years. The Senate will vote on membership in July. No date has been set.” •

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The Great Assimilation™:

Liberal Democrats seem not merely to be seeking suburban Republican voters, but actively merging Never Trump Bush-era Republicans into the Democrat Party apparatus, a sort of realization that both parties — the legitimate parts, anyhow — are on the same team, presaging a government of national unity. I suppose, thinking back, Bush giving Michelle candy at McCain’s funeral opened the floodgates, or cloacae, or whatever. Anyhow, here are some current examples. There are rather a lot:

David Plouffe:

James Carville:

Steven Colbert:

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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.

Consumer Spending: “Record Surge In Consumer Spending Tempered By Coronavirus Concerns” [PAYMNTS.COM]. “Consumer spending jumped 8.2 percent in May, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported on Friday (June 26), representing the biggest increase since the federal government began tracking the number in 1959. The rise in spending came as an increasing number of businesses across the country, including a growing range of retail establishments, reopened their doors in May as states began to lift coronavirus lockdown restrictions. However, the jump in consumer spending was tempered by a 4.2 percent decline in personal income amid double-digit unemployment and as the first wave of government stimulus payments — including one-time $1,200 checks — began to wear off. And personal income across the U.S. is expected to take an additional hit at the end of July, when an additional $600 a week in unemployment benefits, paid for by the federal government, is slated to sunset.” • A sugar high.

Personal Income: “May 2020 Headline Personal Income Jumps, Expenditures Significantly Improve” [Econintersect]. “This month’s data was severely affected by the coronavirus. Income last month grew because of the economic recovery payments sent to most Americans – and this month it was not there so income fell. Expenditures grew as the economy began to open and most had the stimulus check to spend…. The real issue with personal income and expenditures is that it jumps around because of backward revisions – and one cannot take any single month as fixed or gospel.”

Consumer Sentiment: “Final June 2020 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Improves Over May” [Econintersect]. “Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin, makes the following comments: ‘Consumer sentiment slipped in the last half of June, although it still recorded its second monthly gain over the April low. While most consumers believe that economic conditions could hardly worsen from the recent shutdown of the national economy, prospective growth in the economy is more closely tied to progress against the coronavirus. The early reopening of the economy has undoubtedly restored jobs and incomes, but it has come at the probable cost of an uptick in the spread of the virus…. Unfortunately, confidence in government economic policies has fallen in the June survey to its lowest level since Trump entered office. The need for new relief programs is urgent and would best be accomplished before the national elections dominate the debate.'”

Leading Indicators: “19 June 2020 ECRI’s WLI Improvement Continues But Continues In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “ECRI’s WLI Growth Index which forecasts economic growth six months forward improved, remains deep in contraction, and remains at a level at the values seen during the Great Recession.”

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 20 June 2020 – Again Slight Improvement But Remains Deep In Contraction” [] Econintersect. “Week 25 of 2020 shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) contracted according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data. Total rail traffic has been mostly in contraction for over one year – and now is taking a hit from coronavirus…. Intermodal and carloads are under Great Recession values. Container exports from China are now recovering, container exports from the U.S. declined and remains deep in contraction.”

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Retail: “The growing inventory stockpiles at clothing companies are turning into a financial drag for retailers. Clothing companies, including Columbia Sportswear Co., Ralph Lauren and Urban Outfitters Inc., have taken millions of dollars in what is often referred to as inventory obsolescence charges… even as many are activating plans for selling out-of-season clothing at the highest-possible price” [Wall Street Journal]. “Those include selling through outlet stores and holding excess inventory to sell later, potentially even next year. The inventories soared after stores closed under lockdown orders aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus.”

Shipping: “Will this freight surge continue after the Fourth? Consumer spending data says yes” [Freight Waves]. “The volumes are bursting from the seams this week. Large asset-based carriers have begun to rapidly reject contracted freight. This is putting upward pressure on spot rates. Independence Day typically marks the beginning of the mid-summer slow down. If volumes continue flowing like this post-Fourth of July, and tender rejections remain elevated, we could be looking at a significant capacity event in the third quarter.”

Shipping: “Grocers and restaurants want consumers, not delivery drivers, to handle the last mile as online business surges. The sweeping changes in sales patterns driven by coronavirus lockdowns have created a vast test in online fulfillment for the food sector, and… businesses now are building out services for customer pickup operations that offer better margins than delivery” [Wall Street Journal]. “Several major grocers are waiving pickup fees and expanding spaces to fill orders while several restaurant chains and standalone dining spots are sticking with the curbside pickup that has become a lifeline for them. Some are trying to wrest control of their online orders away from food-delivery apps that come with hefty, profit-shrinking fees.”

Shipping: “Cargo clogs US airports as freighters proliferate” [Freight Waves]. “International passenger terminals may have little traffic, but at some airports there is so much cargo that frustrated businesses can wait days for medical supplies and other imports arriving on big all-cargo planes. The unusually heavy cargo volume, driven by a surge in medical supplies to combat the coronavirus pandemic and e-commerce orders from homebound consumers, has exposed long-standing, systemic inefficiencies at major hubs in Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. For airport handling agents, the coronavirus is a double-edged sword. More business is pouring in, but COVID health precautions, changes in normal cargo flows, staffing shortages and the added complexity of handling cargo-only passenger planes are combining to create operational havoc. Nearly all cargo terminals at these gateways are overwhelmed, although some are handling the situation better than others, airfreight professionals say. ” • All this is before desperate airlines started taking out seats and installing cargo pods.

The Bezzle: “Ernst & Young Under Scrutiny Over Wirecard Accounting Practices” [PAYMNTS.COM]. “‘The big question for me is what on earth did EY do when they signed off the accounts?” a senior banker at a lender with credit exposure to Wirecard told the newspaper. The accountancy firm, which has audited Wirecard since 2010, has been thrust into the center of the scandal around $2.1 billion in missing funds that Wirecard said it deposited in two Philippines banks. The island nation’s lenders, BDO Unibank Inc. and the Bank of the Philippine Islands, have said the money never entered the country.” • Two billion is real money; the last money laundering scandal through Phillipines casinos was only $80 million.

The Bezzle: “Amazon to acquire self-driving startup in a $1 billion+ deal” [Freight Waves]. “Amazon is expected to announce a deal to buy self-driving technology startup Zoox for over $1 billion… California-based Zoox was founded in 2014 to create a fusion robo-taxi that is both electrified and autonomously driven. In that regard, the company initially looked to retrofit existing vehicles to make them autonomous, rather than building a vehicle from scratch…. Many observers thought Amazon’s advent into autonomous driving was inevitable. One of the largest ecommerce companies in the world, Amazon’s operations are massive and widely dispersed. With logistics costs being its single largest operational expense, Amazon has tirelessly looked to improve efficiency across its supply chain – predominantly by digitalization and automation…. Zoox’s fundamental issue has been biting off more than it could chew. Vehicle electrification, autonomous driving, and on-demand cab-hailing are all individual segments that have companies battling for market space. For a startup hamstrung by depleting finances, Zoox found it hard to compete in all these segments simultaneously.” • I’m still filing this under “The Bezzle,” because I think a Level 5 autonomous vehicle is just as much a delusion this year as it was last year, and the year before that. That said, if your program doesn’t work, control the inputs. Amazon is one of the few companies with the clout to get states and localities to optimize the built environment so that inputs are limited enough for the software to work. Still, I wouldn’t bet on it, and a billion to Amazon isn’t all that much.

Pandemic: “At least 25 state fairs, drivers of local economies, have been canceled or postponed due to COVID-19” [ABC]. “So far this year, at least 25 state fairs have been canceled or indefinitely postponed across the country, as officials either deemed it too risky to hold crowded fairs effectively, or aren’t able to due to state restrictions on mass gatherings. That doesn’t include the hundreds of county fairs — some of which, like in Erie, attract more people than some state fairs do — that have also been canceled. Among the more than two dozen state fairs that haven’t been canceled, several, including New York, Texas and Utah, are tentatively still on. In addition to its cultural and social significance, the state fair — a celebration of a region’s agricultural heritage — is a driver of economic activity. The Indiana State Fair, which has been canceled this year, typically hires more than 1,000 seasonal employees.” • Handy map:

Pandemic: “In Search Of The Small Business Apocalypse” [The American Conservative]. “I got in the car and drove down the stretch of U.S. Route 1 (Richmond Highway) that runs south of D.C. through suburban Alexandria, Mount Vernon, and Hybla Valley. This is an interesting, if frustrating, drive in ordinary times; Route 1 is invariably traffic choked, and navigating its service roads and frequent intersections requires high alert. The communities sprawled along the highway are heavily Latino and relatively poor, as D.C. suburbs go. There are plenty of chain businesses, but also a heavy concentration of independent restaurants and small stores, many in aging, repurposed buildings. There are likely undocumented workers living here, afraid or unable to seek personal or small business economic relief. Fairfax County’s Hispanic population disproportionately suffered from COVID-19, to boot. If any place, at least in this region, should be ground zero for a small business recession, it’s this six-mile stretch of aging suburban sprawl. Happily, I found no evidence of the prophesied extinction-level event. And I happen to have a good reference point, because the very last pre-lockdown drive I took, back in the first week of March, was exactly this one.” • Old Town/Alexandria? Really?

Gentlemen Prefer Bonds: “Fear Revives Muni-Bond Insurance Business From Decade-Long Slump” [Bloomberg]. “As the coronavirus pandemic rips through the finances of state and local governments, municipal-bond insurers are busier than they’ve been in years. Since early May, about 10% of new bond sales have been offered with insurance, nearly double the average since 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The last time the market saw back-to back-months of double digit insurance rates was in July and August of 2009. State and local government bonds sold with insurance was once a mainstay in the $3.9 trillion market. But the industry nearly collapsed in the financial crisis, when the companies had their credit ratings slashed because of losses tied to toxic mortgage securities, leaving only about 5% of new sales carrying insurance since then.”

Honey for the Bears: “U.S. Recovery Looks to Be Ebbing in States With Virus Outbreaks” [Bloomberg]. “The U.S. economic recovery is showing incipient signs of weakening in some states where coronavirus cases are mounting. The ebbing is evident in such high-frequency data as OpenTable restaurant reservations and follows a big bounce in activity as businesses reopened from lockdowns meant to check the spread of Covid-19. ‘We’re now starting to see very early evidence that things are leveling off” in some of the states that reopened first and are now suffering rising virus cases, said Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America Corp.’… Overall, counties accounting for between one-third and one-half of U.S. GDP are suffering from worsening trends in new cases or Covid-19-related deaths, according to research by Deutsche Bank AG economists….’We’re playing mediocre Whac-A-Mole’ in controlling the disease, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 47 Neutral (previous close: 49 Neutral;) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 26 at 12:15pm.

The Biosphere

“Forestry Giant Discovers Downside of Planting Millions of Trees” [Bloomberg]. “A multi-decade state program to subsidize tree planting in one of South America’s wealthiest nations led to a loss of biodiversity and did little to increase the forests’ capacity to capture greenhouse gases. Chile’s plantation forests more than doubled between 1986 and 2011, while native forests shrunk by 13%, according to a new report by U.S. and Chilean academics. The country subsidized tree planting while its forestry sector boomed over that period. Yet the environmental benefits are not as clear. Subsidies accelerated biodiversity losses in Chile as plantations often focus on one or two profitable tree species, the report said. While forest area expanded by more than 100% between 1986 and 2011, the carbon stored in vegetation increased by just 1.98% during that period.” • Who knew, plantation monocultures are about money capture, not carbon capture.

“California mandates big increase in zero-emission trucks” [Los Angeles Times]. “The nation’s toughest clean-air mandate on trucks was approved Thursday by the California Air Resources Board. In effect, the board ordered manufacturers of medium-duty and heavy-duty commercial trucks to begin selling zero-emission versions in 2024, with 100,000 sold in California by 2030 and 300,000 by 2035…. The mandate is intended to cut air pollution and push the state toward ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals — 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% below by 2050.”

Health Care

In keeping with my sunny temperament:

“What caused the Black Death?” (PDF) [Journal of Postgraduate Medicine] (2005). “For the whole of the 20th century it was believed that the Black Death and all the plagues of Europe (1347–1670) were epidemics of bubonic plague. This review presents evidence that this view is incorrect and that the disease was a viral haemorrhagic fever, characterised by a long incubation period of 32 days, which allowed it to be spread widely even with the limited transport of the Middle Ages.” • This is a fascinating piece, and shows that observational medicine was strong in the Middle Ages, even if theorizing was still dominated by ideas as crazy as mainstream economics today. Forty day quarantines, four metres (!) social distancing! Now, I am not equipped to judge the claims, so here is a counter–

“Distinct Clones of Yersinia pestis Caused the Black Death” [PLoS Pathology] (2010). “The etiology of this disease has remained highly controversial, ranging from claims based on genetics and the historical descriptions of symptoms that it was caused by Yersinia pestis to conclusions that it must have been caused by other pathogens. It has also been disputed whether plague had the same etiology in northern and southern Europe. Here we identified DNA and protein signatures specific for Y. pestis in human skeletons from mass graves in northern, central and southern Europe that were associated archaeologically with the Black Death and subsequent resurgences. We confirm that Y. pestis caused the Black Death and later epidemics on the entire European continent over the course of four centuries.” • Can knowledgeable readers adjudicate?

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Science is popping:

UPDATE “Persistence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 in Aerosol Suspensions” [Emerging Infectious Diseases]. “We aerosolized severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 and determined that its dynamic aerosol efficiency surpassed those of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus and Middle East respiratory syndrome. Although we performed experiment only once across several laboratories, our findings suggest retained infectivity and virion integrity for up to 16 hours in respirable-sized aerosols…. SARS-CoV-2–infected persons may produce viral bioaerosols that remain infectious for long periods after production through human shedding and airborne transport. Accordingly, our study results provide a preliminary basis for broader recognition of the unique aerobiology of SARS-CoV-2, which might lead to tractable solutions and prevention interventions.” • Note that this study is, as it were, in vitro. This is not the behavior of the virus in the open air, or in sunlight. That said, I’m still going to be taking a shower when I come home from the store.

UPDATE “Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems in the context of COVID-19” (PDF) [ECDC Europa]. This is well worth reading in full. Here is the conclusion:

In conclusion, the available evidence indicates that:

• Transmission of COVID-19 commonly occurs in closed indoor spaces.

• There is currently no evidence of human infection with SARS-CoV-2 caused by infectious aerosols distributed through the ventilation system ducts of HVACs. The risk is rated as very low.

• Well-maintained HVAC systems, including air-conditioning units, securely filter large droplets containing SARS-CoV-2. It is possible for COVID-19 aerosols (small droplets and droplet nuclei) to spread through HVAC systems within a building or vehicle and stand-alone air-conditioning units if air is recirculated.

• Air flow generated by air-conditioning units may facilitate the spread of droplets excreted by infected people longer distances within indoor spaces.

• HVAC systems may have a complementary role in decreasing transmission in indoor spaces by increasing the rate of air change, decreasing recirculation of air and increasing the use of outdoor air.

UPDATE “Sex differences in immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 that underlie disease outcomes” [medRxiv]. “A growing body of evidence indicates sex differences in the clinical outcomes of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)…. [W]e found that a poor T cell response negatively correlated with patients age and was predictive of worse disease outcome in male patients, but not in female patients. Conversely, higher innate immune cytokines in female patients associated with worse disease progression, but not in male patients.”

UPDATE “Detailed phylogenetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 reveals latent capacity to bind human ACE2 receptor” [bioRxiv]. “SARS-CoV-2 is a once-in-a-century pandemic, having emerged suddenly as a highly infectious viral pathogen. Previous phylogenetic analyses show its closest known evolutionary relative to be a virus isolated from bats (RaTG13), with a common assumption that SARS-CoV-2 evolved from a zoonotic ancestor via recent genetic changes (likely in the Spike protein receptor binding domain – or RBD) that enabled it to infect humans. We used detailed phylogenetic analysis, ancestral sequence reconstruction, and molecular dynamics simulations to examine the Spike-RBD’s functional evolution, finding to our surprise that it has likely possessed high affinity for human cell targets since at least 2013.” • Seven years!!!

“Neurological and neuropsychiatric complications of COVID-19 in 153 patients: a UK-wide surveillance study” [The Lancet]. “The aim of this study was to investigate the breadth of complications of COVID-19 across the UK that affected the brain…. During the exponential phase of the pandemic, we developed an online network of secure rapid-response case report notification portals… Physicians were encouraged to report cases prospectively…. the platforms received notification of 153 unique cases that met the clinical case definitions by clinicians in the UK, with an exponential growth in reported cases that was similar to overall COVID-19 data from UK Government public health bodies. Median patient age was 71 years.” • The effects are… not good. But the numbers are, thankfully, small.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“California confronts its racist past as tributes to Confederates and colonizers fall” [Los Angeles Times]. “Marcus Hunter, chair of African American Studies at UCLA, said he thinks the statues are falling at such great numbers and with less pushback than in years past because white people and others who are not Black are joining the protests and helping pull them down. He also believes that people being forced to stay home during the pandemic could not ignore Floyd’s killing and the movement it sparked. ‘I’ve been calling this the great pause,’ Hunter said. ‘It wasn’t just a slowdown. It was 90 days of shelter in place. Either people are going to change America, or it’s going to remain the same.'”

Class Warfare

“Private Equity Abuzz Over Access to $6 Trillion 401(k) Market” [Bloomberg]. “The Trump administration has cracked open the door for private equity funds to get into 401(k) workplace retirement plans. There’s roughly $5.6 trillion in such accounts, and the prospect of capturing even a sliver of it has the industry abuzz…. Lurking behind all this is a broader policy fight. Regulators in the Trump era have argued that retail investors should have broader access to a lot of investments previously limited to wealthy individuals and institutions. Democrats have generally sought more regulation of financial products, and some have been critical of private equity, blaming it for loading up companies with debt and causing layoffs and bankruptcies. The government’s approach could soon change with the presidential election less than five months away. As a harbinger, six Democratic senators and Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont, sent a letter to [Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia] urging him to reconsider his decision.” • The buzzing of wings, the stridulation of hind legs, the chitinous flexing of sucking mandibles…

“What Should We Expect From the Demonstrations in the United States?” [Communia]. “[The movement’s] great success has been to ensure that, while the aid to workers is being cut off to force a full reopening as soon as possible, despite the fact that the epidemic continues at a fast pace in the workplaces, the ‘anti-racist’ movement suddenly becomes the central political question in the USA.” • For those who like their whiskey neat.

News of the Wired

Department of Entertaining Distractions, a thread:

“Greasy parcel”!

Department of Clarification:

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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 (TH):

TH writes: “I’m calling this a “Desert Lupine” and hoping it’s not a lie.” The tawny hills of the High Desert and the purple flowers are a very nice color combination.

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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. Toshiro_Mifune

    What caused the Black Death?

    For the whole of the 20th century it was believed that the Black Death and all the plagues of Europe (1347–1670) were epidemics of bubonic plague.

    I realize this is a medical journal, however in the humanities dept there was always argument about this. Those interested might want to start with David Herlihy’s Black Death and the Transformation of the West.

    1. Matthew Saroff

      Some interesting things to consider:
      There are indications that if the Black Death was Y. Pestis it was a variant with an affinity for lung tissue (Pneumonic Plague).

      Also, it may have affected a flea that attached itself to birds, as the spread of the plague over land was blisteringly fast, on the order of 8 miles per day by some accounts.

      I am dubious of the idea that this was facilitated by itinerant cloth salesmen carrying fleas, and favor the idea that it was a sub species.

      As to the idea that it was a viral hemorrhagic fever, I am also dubious. The plague spread from a known reservoir area (Manchuria), and exhumation of graves has found copious DNA evidence showing that it was in fact Y. pestis.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Good point that last one about the DNA samples taken from victims buried in plague pits. I would call that pretty definitive proof that it was Y. pestis in play back then. It spread fast but I have theory about that now. We have seen with Coronavirus how it is often wealthy people introducing it onto a country where it spreads to the poor. What if back then it was often spread by people on horseback seeking to flee the pest not knowing that they actually had it already? And of course it was usually wealthy people that could afford to keep horses. Something to consider.

        1. Larry Y

          Like today, I see it spread by interconnected continent-wide trade links, brought about by Pax Mongolica.

          In China, the plague was seen as sign of the Mandate of Heaven and brought down the Yuan Dynasty earlier then it might have otherwise. The founder of the Ming Dynasty’s home town was devastated by the plague.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          Against this is:

          1) Forty-day quarantine, global standard for 300 years

          2) Four-metre social distance

          Neither measure would have been effective against fleas, I don’t think. Although perhaps I’m reacting to their eerie familiarity….

  2. Geo

    “Caliornia should have this under control by now, especially given that their early response was effective and vigorous.”

    As an LA resident I can report it’s shocking to see how non-chalant the majority of people out and about have become. It’s like they think the problem has gone away. Maybe one-in-five people on the street has a mask. In stores seems better but I don’t go into any but one grocery store.

    Have a few friends who think it’s a hoax. Others who work in restaurants or retail say about a quarter of customers seem to have gone feral while in lockdown losing all sense of courtesy and kindness. And, as I type this I can hear my neighbor ranting on the phone about how it’s all fake and black communists are using the virus as an excuse to take over.

    This isn’t getting better anytime soon. At this point it’s up to science to find a cure because the rest of us are too dumb and selfish to save ourselves it seems.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I just went on a booze run in the mid-afternoon and the amount of traffic on the road was enough that I changed my plan for dropping by my bank to pick up some more cash to have on hand.

      1. Geo

        At this point I only go to public spots first thing in the morning before the hoards come through. If I see too many people I just wait until the next day. Sort of a luxury of not having to be anywhere.

    2. Clive

      Having successfully (? if that’s the right word) turned masks into the US’ version of Brexit (a liberal intelligentsia vs. the proles grudge match — being played out in the media and punditry interests groups’ chosen arenas) the conclusion is now inevitable.

      It’s merely a case of, from herein, sitting on the sidelines spectating and waiting for the inevitable results.

      1. dcblogger

        liberal intelligentsia vs. the proles grudge match
        really? reality oriented community vs Fox News death cult more like.
        The proletariat, grocery store workers, fast food workers, Amazon workers, meat packers, etc are the ones doing the dying.

        1. Geo

          Was talking to the mailman today. He’s been filling in for he guy who has done this route for decades. Says the older one has been “out sick” now for two months. Really worrying. Hope he’s just being safe and not actually sick.

          Talked to the new guy about his own worries being a potential carrier. Scary times.

          You’re right. The proles are the ones being sacrificed at the alter of markets and morons.

        2. bob

          Brits love to laugh at US politics. Just remind them that they are ruled by an inbred 94 year old with good manners.

          1. Procopius

            I’m not expert on British government, but I think the received wisdom is that, “The Queen reigns, but does not rule.” They are currently ruled by a clown, while their sovereign is “an inbred 94 year old with good manners.” I expect to be soon corrected by persons who know much more about the matter than I do. And, actually, I have a warm spot in my heart for Queen Elizabeth II. She ascended to the throne when I was a teenager and she was an attractive woman in her twenties.

        3. periol

          And let’s not forget, they weren’t the ones who were jet-setting around and brought the virus to America…

        4. Lambert Strether Post author

          > reality oriented community

          It would have been really helpful if the reality-oriented community, in the persons of Fauci and WHO, hadn’t lied about the effectiveness of masks to begin with. They really do fancy themselves philosopher kings. Why would we believe they aren’t lying again? “Honey, I’ve changed”? I mean, we here all know enough about the science now to sort things, but the NC commentariat is not the world.

        5. Clive

          Literally, this is word-for-word Brexit arguments https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/no-deal-brexit-nhs-crisis-staff-medicine-shortages-bma-unison-a9082186.html

          Unfortunately, the target audience will merely add this latest thing they get told by caring authoritarians they must do (or mustn’t do) otherwise they might suffer terrible consequences to the long, long list of other things they apparently must or mustn’t do lest they suffer other, equally terrible consequences (or maybe just the same consequences but for a different reason). Then, they’ll add that list to their other list of other often terrible consequences they’re already dealing with.

          Either that, or they simply won’t believe you, having had many similarly caring authoritarians telling them they must (or mustn’t) do this- or that- thing in the past and might have gone along with them only to find they were being hoodwinked by people who just thought they know best and like telling people what they think they should do but really didn’t have much more of a clue than anyone else does, they just like to think they do.

          Now, I quite like telling other people what to do. But there comes a point, and perhaps this here is an excellent example of the kinds of times when it happens https://twitter.com/GavinNewsom/status/1276606160666103808 that, in order to bring about the end results one claims to desire, the best thing you can actually do is to keep one’s big mouth shut.

      2. The Rev Kev

        The results are already in. I woke up about an hour ago to the TV say that there were 40,000 more cases of this virus in the US in one day whereas it was 35,000 yesterday. At this rate it will be 50,00 people a day soon.

        1. periol

          According to worldometer the USA has announced over 44k cases today, and that’s before LA County reports (been averaging around 2k per day lately). Brazil had been reporting higher daily case numbers, but the USA is back to #1.

          1. periol

            Wow, now it’s neck-and-neck to the finish line.
            USA with 47,093 new cases; Brazil with 46,907

            Could go either way, but worldometer stops counting for the day in 30 minutes, so it looks like USA by a hair.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                I bet somebody is, or maybe bets on whether the difference between the two will widen or narrow (affecting the price of agriculutural commodities, perhaps).

    3. TroyIA

      As an LA resident I can report it’s shocking to see how non-chalant the majority of people out and about have become.

      It is the same situation here in Iowa. About 6 weeks ago mask usage was at about 60% and then when everything opened up people acted as if the crisis was over. Now when I’m out and about on the weekend maybe 5% of the people are wearing a mask and social distancing. There are times when I am in a store and besides the clerks I am the only person wearing a mask.

      I expect by the end of July or start of August Iowa will join California, Florida and Texas and see a spike in infections.

    4. periol

      As a Californian, there has never been a point I thought the early response was “effective and vigorous”.

      There was no early contact tracing of any sort, there was simply a (later than it should have been) lockdown with few protections for “essential” workers, who slowly but surely kept picking up COVID-19. Then they started easing the lockdown even though case numbers weren’t going down. The testing they implemented was a joke, and we still aren’t talking about quick turnarounds with testing times.

      Now, we are shocked to discover case numbers continue to rise – not only that, they never ever went down. The response has been a joke from the beginning.

      Edit: The thing I hate the most, watching numbers in Orange County, is the two initial hotspots were Irvine and Newport Beach, both very wealthy towns. They’re fine now, with few new cases being reported. The hotspots are Santa Ana and Anaheim, which have much more poverty. Those who are well-off are fine; the poor are not.

      1. Geo

        Coincidentally, it was a national panic when it was the rich neighborhoods getting hit. Now that it’s mostly the poor it’s “back to normal”.

        Or, maybe that’s not a coincidence?

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > has never been a point I thought the early response was “effective and vigorous”.

        I was thinking of San Francisco (and the public health official — too lazy to find the link — who made a very early call to shut down and who was then followed by larger cities.

        > The thing I hate the most, watching numbers in Orange County, is the two initial hotspots were Irvine and Newport Beach, both very wealthy towns. They’re fine now, with few new cases being reported. The hotspots are Santa Ana and Anaheim, which have much more poverty. Those who are well-off are fine; the poor are not.

        Same as New York (see here and here). I wonder if Texas shows the same pattern.

        1. periol

          “I was thinking of San Francisco (and the public health official — too lazy to find the link — who made a very early call to shut down and who was then followed by larger cities.”

          I do realize they made an “earlier” call than other cities in America, but it was still well into March. When I went to school, and F was an F, whether or not you scored 20% or 50% on the test. You want that D-? Better get 60% right.

          And I read another article that SF was part of a group with other counties (I believe) that was going to announce things together, but the SF mayor decided to go it alone, for “political” reasons, i.e. so they would get the press. These shutdowns happened 2+ weeks after I had already cancelled gym memberships and stopped going out in public.

          I still don’t see any way to call the reaction of any part of the USA anything but a failure. No contact tracing, no real incoming traveler med checks, no quarantine rules, only shut things down after the virus is already endemic and community spread is happening.

          Honestly, why did we even bother with the shutdowns, since there have been no serious attempts to contain this virus otherwise?

        2. periol

          OK, I’ve thought about it a bit, and my opinion on SF is colored by my anger at them letting people with the virus in through the airports initially. However, I do admit that they were much more effective than counties in Southern California at handling the virus during the initial few months. I don’t separate north from south enough in my head, to be honest. Part of me holds onto the romantic notions of the California I’ve driven up and down and through and really love all parts it. That said, I have no illusions about the cultural differences.

    5. MLTPB

      I am not near people much these days, so I can’t say how many are masked in LA or OC.

      I only know LA was early than other states/counties to order face covering.

      Yet, as the graph above shows, CA is like that determined tortoise to NY’s hard charging hare. And here we are, ahead of them, and not in a good way.

      Why? I don’t know.

      I have been wondering if mask is necessary but not sufficient, if we try to emulate Asian countries.

      A few days ago, I read of a comment about showering upon returning home, after stripping off clothes in the garage.

      I do similarly, taking off clothes in the laundry room near the door to the garage, and I wash my hands and face, and put on a new hair cover (a cap). I leave my shoes in the car.

      In Asia, I believe, people shower or bathe in the afternoon, after returning from work.

      Is that correct?

      Considering what particles that might be on one’s shoes, shirt, blouse, pants or skirt, etc, and on one’s neck, face, hair, in addition to hands, I wonder if we haven’t learned completely from Asians.

      Will it become, wear a mask, and shower in the afternoon, not morning?

        1. MLTPB

          I don’t know if people in CA are less inclined to follow mask orders than people in NY. Maybe compared to people in Korea.

          Why are there more cases in CA than NY these days?

          In the meantime, is it a precaution to shower after returning home?

          1. periol

            “Why are there more cases in CA than NY these days?”

            Are people in NY wearing masks?

            “In the meantime, is it a precaution to shower after returning home?”


  3. km

    I thought the most brutal part of Peggy Noonan’s unrelentingly brutal assessment of Trump was right there in the lede:

    He hasn’t been equal to the crises. He never makes anything better. And everyone kind of knows.”

    After that, it was sort of like watching Noonan deck Trump and knock him unconscious, then stand over him and bounce various brickbats, pliers, stones, hammers, masonry units, little rocks and whatnot off his limp body.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      My only hesitation on Noonan’s coruscating piece is that nobody seems to have interviewed the attendees or, more importantly, those who thought of going and did not. All the “reporting” is based on access journalism to the campaigns, or video. It’s the same is the other great unreported story of 2020: Why did Sanders’ theory of change fail? Nobody seems to have talked to voters on that one, either. Odd.

      I’d love to be wrong on this, so if any reader has links, please share!

      1. deplorado

        Also, she wrote this:
        “Mr. Trump essentially admitted he didn’t want more testing because it would result in more positives.”

        I don’t think that is correct. I dislike having to appear to defend Trump on what he says (although on a couple of things I support his position if not his execution), but he was making something like a rhetorical point. I saw a transcript and a more charitable interpretation was definitely possible. I dont have time to search for the transcript but a search on DDG does not bring up the event video where he said this. Someone please clarify this if possible. But I will say this: I hate to see voices with a huge national platform seize on cheap shot like this. Not a good look to me, and betrays an impure agenda devoid of substance. Yeah the man is crude and in some cases very incompetent and damaging. But at least he says the quiet part out loud. At least fights openly and with all he’s got, even if it’s for himself. You can’t hope for that from anyone else. Even Bernie.

        I used to read Noonan religiously in WSJ until I tired of her pointless and sometimes tortured flourishes. She takes herself too seriously. Lambert I know you have a thing for her style. And she also appears to be sidling up to Biden:
        “He is bowing to the ancient political wisdom that you should never interrupt a man while he’s destroying himself”

        That’s baloney (since we have a family blog here).

        1. flora

          I dislike the idea that calling out lazy bs arguments from the left or from the Dem estab is somehow equivalent to defending T. / ;)

        2. marym

          Trump’s said approximately the same thing on multiple occasions – if we didn’t test we wouldn’t have cases, and that it makes us look bad. Here are 2 links to this week’s iterations, which include links to prior statements, and video at about 20 seconds. Sometimes he or his staff walks it back, but he keeps saying it.




        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I don’t think that is correct. I dislike having to appear to defend Trump on what he says (although on a couple of things I support his position if not his execution), but he was making something like a rhetorical point. I saw a transcript and a more charitable interpretation was definitely possible.

          This has been a continuing problem with the press coverage of Trump, well before he was elected. In my view, it was exactly the same with the “bleach” more panic, which was so virulent it even affected Halper and Taibbi.

          It’s to bizarre that the press has to lie and exaggerate, when they could make the case they want to make simply with normal reporting. I guess they’d rather lie than tell the truth.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Nooners comes from the time when Republicans could actually govern. James Baker, for example, was extremely competent. So was Nicholas Brady. The Bush administration less so, because they relied on the Christian Right for a lot of their staffing, and Liberty University (for example) just doesn’t churn out top-class lawyers. The Trump administration even less than that, partly because they faced what amounted to a professional services strike by the PMC, which intensifies the administration’s reliance on the sort of crooks and grifters who are too stupid to launder their money through a foundation, and/or too desperate to wait a couple of years for that board sinecure.

      2. Procopius

        It doesn’t seem odd to me. Two thirds of Trump voters make the median income or higher. The median for Trump voters in 2016 (I don’t know about 2018) was $70,000 dollars, but if you follow the media you’ll think they’re all inbred mountain-billies with bad teeth, or out-of-work miners. They never interview the one-third of Trump voters who make more than $100,000. They don’t want to tell the real story, because it doesn’t help the high-priced consultants who run the DNC. I imagine (because I still have some hope) there are a couple of hundred sincere, enthusiastic, ethical reporters spread out over the country, but they’re not the ones who are paid well and known nationally.

      3. Eric Patton

        Why did Sanders’ theory of change fail?

        It’s been explained over and over again. You and Susan just don’t like the answer.

    2. Arizona Slim

      The thing that really bopped me over the head was the nighttime photo of Trump.

      I mean, good grief, fella. Your tie is undone and you’re carrying that MAGA hat like it’s destined for the nearest trashcan.

      I’m old enough to remember the Watergate era. It was obvious that events were taking a toll on Nixon, but he never looked this bad for the cameras.

      1. David Carl Grimes

        So Biden is a shoo-in? A done deal? He can just chase Republican Never Trumpers and lock the progressives in his basement and throw away the key. He will never see the need to cater to the progressive wing of the party.

        If Trump just donned a mask and let the infections die down and the economy reopen with further stimulus, he could have been on his way to victory.

        But what if the conventional wisdom is wrong? What if Trump’s ultimate strategy is to cause so much chaos that he starts the equivalent of a Reichstag fire and runs on a law and order platform to correct the chaos that he himself started? Turnout could be very low if the peak of the second wave hits in the fall. The minority-dominated essential worker force could be decimated and dissuaded to vote. Mail-in ballots could be cast aside. We’ve had plenty of practice with that on both sides of the aisle.

        My impression of Trump is that he could be President for Life. Either the virus claims him as victim this fall or he gets re-elected and dies in office before 2024. Whatever the case, he has no choice. Liberals will simply not allow him to retire to civilian life the way they let the Shrub. He upset their world view so much that they want to see him pay and pay very dearly. They want to see him in jail and ruined financially. Not only do they want to ruin him, but they also want to wipe the Trump name off the map and that means ruining the fortunes of his children as well. Don Jr., Ivanka and Jared, and maybe Eric, Tiffany, or even Barron. They don’t want to see another Trump in politics ever again in the same way you are never going to see a Saddam or Gaddafi run Iraq or Libya ever again, at least in our lifetimes.

        1. voteforno6

          Not only do they want to ruin him, but they also want to wipe the Trump name off the map and that means ruining the fortunes of his children as well. Don Jr., Ivanka and Jared, and maybe Eric, Tiffany, or even Barron.

          So, is that a bad thing?

          Also, I highly doubt that Trump has some “ultimate strategy.” He is demonstrably too weak and undisciplined to follow through on any strategy.

          1. flora

            So, is that a bad thing?

            Well… yes, it is a bad thing to punish the children and grandchildren and great-grand children simply because of their family relationship to political outcasts, imo… if this is still a democracy.

            1. Procopius

              Flora, there is some justice in what you say. That’s why the founders included, “…no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted,” in the Constitution. However the Trump offspring have had plenty of chance to display their virtues and have not done very well at it.

              1. JBird4049

                It is not about the virtues of our opponents. It is to prevent our collective ruin.

                Aside from the English’s broad, vindictive use of poorly substantiated, very loosely defined charges of treason to murder people, there is also the same pattern in the late Roman Republic. There the charges were not only of being treasonous, but sometimes only of being just the losing class and political faction much like today’s American politics are becoming. We just don’t have any murders and stealing. Yet. Well, we did after Reconstruction when the Antebellum South’s elites murdered their way back into power, but was more about power and wealth than survival.

                Until the Gracchi Brothers’ murders in 133? and 121? BCE started the pattern, losing a political fight merely meant losing a fight just like in current American politics. The only real loss was perhaps profiting off opportunities for stealing money. After the Gracchi Brothers, the cost of losing became greater every decade until just having everything that not just you, your family, their clan, and all of their friends’ families and clans property seized was the good outcome of losing. The worst was having everyone from the eldest to the babies murdered by paid death squads.

                The conflicts became not political disputes, but fights just to just survive as well blood feuds with the different ideologies just excuses or covers. When Augustus took over and ended the Republic in 27 BCE, he was able to do so because everyone else was dead. All the ruling families and their supporters’ had killed each other off.

                People have often criticized both the Confederate and Union military leadership especially Generals Lee and Grant’s handling of it as well as President Lincoln’s before his assassination. Lee’s army could have split up and snuck by the blocking Union armies and fought a guerrilla war for decades and Grant could have been much harsher than his really lenient terms. Lincoln’s plans as well.

                However, what the three of them were thinking was about the future. How were they going to end this particular war with its one million dead and injured without having it devolved and continue? It could and should have. The people on both sides screaming to continue the war did not care about that.

                History has plenty of examples of what happens when the laws, customs, and traditions regulating the use of power break down and any means becomes acceptable. It usually starts slowly and by vindictive, greedy idiots for no good reasons. Much like how our current leadership are incompetent, greedy idiots.

        2. deplorado

          I dont believe Trump aims to be a dictator. At this point the viciousness and relentlessness with which Trump is attacked are starting to exceed what he is doing and are becoming disturbing. There was an article in Forreigh Affairs by Daron Acemoglu (look up who he is connected to) flirting wiht the idea of an armed coup against him:
          Are you kidding me? Those nice people are not any better. Things are starting to take a sinister turn.

          1. dcblogger

            Not only is Trump not meeting the moment, he is actively sabotaging efforts to contain coronavirus. Thousands of people are going to die because of him.

            1. Duke of Prunes

              I think the corona virus response is a equal opportunity f-up. Trump didn’t tell Cuomo or Whitmer to put covid-19 patients in nursing homes which has already killed 10s of thousands.

              1. FluffytheObeseCat

                “Trump didn’t tell Cuomo or Whitmer to put covid-19 patients in nursing homes”

                Defining deviance downward is a real thing, and it is often evident in discussions about Trump. I can remember back 5-10 years ago, when an unremarkable comment section complaint about a U.S. president might have opened with a clause like, “POTUS X didn’t have his people provide funds and guidance to state governors, etc. etc.” The following condemnation would have been all about the inappropriate sluggishness and ineptitude of the federal response to a crisis.

                Now, we seem to reflexively expect greater sense and organizational competence from state officials. Despite their comparative lack of money and power.

                I know Trump believes every embarrassment he faces is always and forever someone else’s fault, and an abrogation of someone else’s duty………. but that is bull. He is the President of the United States. The federal government funds most nursing home care in the U.S. It could have rapidly countermanded these lethally stupid orders with threats of funding cut-offs and offers to assist with alternative housing for the ill.

                Does no one remember the looks on the faces of Trump’s people during the first few weeks of the pandemic, in all their daily briefings? The nervous terror that informed them? The fruit cake lunacy of his pronouncements that regularly contradicted or mocked the (immediately) prior statements of his experts????

                He owns this debacle. I realize the establishment Democrats are vile, grifting idiots, but that in no way absolves Trump of anything. He is the President. Not just an amusing facsimile thereof.

                1. ambrit

                  I must comment that I do not see the Democrat nomenklatura jumping out in front and waving the flag calling for one and all to “Follow us to the Promised Land!”
                  As someone above remarked, this is an equal opportunity disaster.
                  Sanders was starting to look like a Leader (TM) on this front but seems to have been kneecapped yet again by the Democrat Party elites.
                  The mantra looks to be; “No one will say or do anything we do not approve of.”

                  1. JBird4049

                    On Sanders, they must have put the political equivalent of a dead horse’s head on his bed. It was not for saying unapproved things. It was worse. Thou Shalt Not Embarrass Your Peers with Thy Competence.

            2. anon in so cal

              Not to elevate Michael Tracey, but this tweet shows one of the packed crowds surrounding the protests. Did the crowding cause at least some of the recent uptick?


              This article suggests ‘no’:

              “Why Coronavirus Cases Are On The Rise In California And What To Do About It”

              “It’s currently unclear whether or not that rise is the result of recent protests, more business reopenings, or simply quarantine fatigue.

              San Francisco epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford told The Mercury News that there has not yet been a surge in new cases in places like Minnesota and Washington D.C., sites of the initial protests, despite predictions. He noted that many protesters wore masks.”


          2. ObjectiveFunction

            At this point the viciousness and relentlessness with which Trump is attacked are starting to exceed what he is doing and are becoming disturbing.

            Agreed, so long as we understand that ‘at this point’ began sometime in mid 2016 and has continued without letup to this day.

        3. marym

          It would be wrong to go after someone’s kids because they’re his kids, if that’s what “liberals” are doing. However, Trump’s daughter and son-in-law are part of the administration, his sons manage his businesses from which he hasn’t divested, and one son’s wife and the other’s girlfriend are grifting off his campaign. Surely as serious a matter of concern as Hunter Biden’s sinecure which has so shocked the Trumpists.


          1. anon in so cal

            The Hunter Biden graft appears worse because it was made possible by the U.S. 2014 putsch in Ukraine. Biden was a key participant in that operation.

        1. JBird4049

          Yes, let’s not forget that Newsweek or Time artificially darkened a cover picture of Obama.

    3. flora

      I don’t necessariy disagree with Noonan but will note she’s still a Reagan groupie. Her criticism seems more like a “he’s failing the Reagan Revolution!” than awareness of anything currently useful for today. ) Nevermind any supposed ‘heroism’ of the ‘Reagan Revolution’.)

      What she saw at the Reagan revolution was 40 years ago. The absurd outcomes from that revolution have over time become manifest. If she can’t see them it’s because she doesn’t want to see them. imo. Trump is one of those absurdities, imo. (The Dems have their own absurdities.)

        1. flora

          I think Noonan still believes Reagan was a pro-Main Street pol. Maybe he was. Or thought he was. But he was a really a salesman, imo, on hire to whoever would pay the fee. (Hello, 20-Mule-Team Borax and Borax soap). He was hired to do a job. He did it well. What he thought about his bosses’ motives is unrecorded. People who said “Let Reagan be Reagan” no doubt missed the part about him reading from a script written by others, imo.

          1. rowlf

            Ralph Nutter, in his memoir WITH THE POSSUM AND THE EAGLE: THE MEMOIR OF A NAVIGATOR’S WAR OVER GERMANY, had to work with Reagan on a time sensitive training film for USAAF in the Pacific Theater.

            The is a customer review at Amazon that sums up Nutter, a veteran of the European Theater now shifted to the Pacific, wanting to put parts of Reagan in three separate dumpsters:

            “Nutter also had occasion to work with actor Ronald Reagan. Reagan was in an Army film unit that was supposed to help Nutter with a training film. He records that Reagan was charming but useless. His enormous ego vastly overshadowed any dedication he had to the war effort. Though Nutter was on a tight schedule to complete the project prior to being deployed to the Pacific, Reagan couldn’t be bothered with putting in any extra hours as might cut into his home life. The technicians told Nutter that Reagan would butter up anyone he thought might help his career but treated the little people as mere tools.”

        1. Arizona Slim

          Excellent book.

          I especially enjoyed the part where she described Oliver North’s effort to watch his language. North’s reason: A lady (Peggy Noonan) was in the room.

      1. hafwit, won't travel

        Her criticism seems more like a “he’s failing the Reagan Revolution!” than awareness of anything currently useful for today. ) flora

        Hell hath no fury like a Noonan scorned?

      2. dcblogger

        I don’t necessariy disagree with Noonan but will note she’s still a Reagan groupie. Her criticism seems more like a “he’s failing the Reagan Revolution!” than awareness of anything currently useful for today.
        so good, it had to be repeated

      3. skippy

        It must be thin gruel for “its irresponsible not to speculate” Noonan to attack Trump as his stated mission is to save everyone’s [snort] equity markets E.g. vote for me or your wealth – coughs … goes poof …

        Just imagine Trump getting another 4 years and possibly follow in Reagan’s cognitive decline with wife filling the shoes behind the scenes.

        If were to go down this road I demand peak absurdity …

            1. ambrit

              This promises to be the election that pulls back the curtain behind which the Tin God manipulates the effects.
              Am I alone in thinking that this election cycle is too much like a High School Student Council race? We have fallen so far…

    4. fresno dan

      June 26, 2020 at 2:59 pm

      Trump came into a “great” economy and what passes for peace now a days – but he just couldn’t stand the lack of excitement. He’s a television star and he has to have DRAMA. Yes, Trump couldn’t do it without his Tango partner, the MSM. The media craves action, and Trump got where he got by being in the spotlight 23/7….

      Covid handled in a boring, competent manner would have been unexciting. In my view, Trump thought that any publicity is publicity that is good for him, and if making it political gets the pundits going, than Trump will benefit all the more. Trump not taking the podium to talk about Covid is a turning point.
      What happens when there is no V?

      1. shinola

        “The only bad publicity is NO publicity”

        (I don’t recall which actress this was attributed to many years ago)

    5. Big River Bandido

      It would be an error to assume that Rust Belt working class trust people of Peggy Noonan’s class. Contempt for the media is high in that region.

      1. barefoot charley

        The rust belt working class doesn’t read the Wall Street Journal much anyway. But her larger point–that even persons deemed deplorables see that the quality of Trump’s once entertaining sh*t show has plummeted, so maybe let’s cancel the series–sounds about right.

        1. Big River Bandido

          They may not read the Journal. But Noonan is just pontificating and is completely out of touch herself; she certainly didn’t *interview* any voters.

        2. ambrit

          Say that Biden does win this year.
          The Democrats then have to govern in the middle of twin crisis, the coronavirus and attendant economic collapse.
          If “Creepy” Joe stays true to form, his administration will be seen as the restoration of the Democrat/Republican Neo-liberal Dispensation. The Democrat elites will tell the progressives to; “Disappear, we don’t need you.” Life will continue getting harder for ‘ordinary’ people. With that record, expect to see some truly extreme candidate win in 2024 on a “Make the Trains Run on Time” platform. That candidate can be from either end of the American political spectrum. Either way, I expect the political legacy of a Biden presidency to be the empowerment of a formal authoritarianism.

            1. Katniss Everdeen

              I’d say Josh Hawley paves the way for Josh Hawley 2024. Which is, finally, the way it should be.

              1. neo-realist

                A less bombastic republican that opposes abortion, has no interest in civil rights, voting rights, affordable health care, and supports austerity is “the way it should be”?

          1. dcblogger

            don’t know how it will happen, cannot predict the mechanics of it, but I think that Biden will bring a 1917 style implosion. happy to be wrong.

            1. ambrit

              Seriously, 1917 St. Petersburg? Could be.
              I don’t see Biden as an American Karensky. Mayhaps an American Tsar Nicholas.
              The scary part will be the Terror phase. Old grudges will be avenged, old scores settled. At this point, either “side” of the R/D divide is capable of great evils.

          2. Katniss Everdeen

            The Democrats then have to govern in the middle of twin crisis, the coronavirus and attendant economic collapse.

            OMG, ain’t it the truth.

            I hope that biden is bunker-fying that Delaware basement, complete with industrial strength defibrillator. He’s gonna need it.

            1. ambrit

              The Dem elites are rehabilitating all manner of Republican Devils lately. That would also include the Disney Animatronics Division, the group that made the Ronnie Reagan Robot that ruled America for seven years. We know that Hillary is in thrall to Industrial Light and Magic for her “New Personna.” Imagine what those two teams working together can accomplish! The Return of Lincoln!

          3. sierra7

            Biden, with Larry Summers as a principal advisor (which he has nuanced he may be) what could possibly go wrong???????

            1. ambrit

              Good question, but easily answered when the group held in highest esteem is revealed.
              Nothing will go wrong because everything is already going Right!

        3. HotFlash

          My father-in-law, who, with my mom-in-law, ran a (surprise!) mom-and-pop grocery store for 50+ years in Michigan, was a religious Wall Street Journal subscriber. It came by mail and then lived in the magazine rack in the, ahem, bathroom. His comment to me was that you would read about some young Turk clobbering all the stats, dominating the market, and then 6 months later, that guy was being arraigned and hauled off to prison. My father-in-law was an astute man.

          1. rowlf

            Years ago I liked the financial analysts versus the dart board stock picking competitions in the WSJ.

  4. Steve

    re: covid 19 map
    I’m currently focused on Maine and Massachusetts state numbers. I’m working from home in Maine, but they want me back in the office in Wilmington, Mass in July. I plot the data (state level) every day.

    I have a problem with the map coloring for Mass. I realize it’s by county, but surely most of the people (i.e. state stats) are in the eastern half of the state. My plot for the past 14 days shows a nice reduction, certainly with some noise, for Mass. The map has most of the state labeled either spreading or epidemic.

    Can anyone shed light on this difference, or maybe compare some other state you keep track of?

  5. Keith

    re: DC Statehood, I do not see that happening precisely because of the implications in the Senate. The idea of allowing DC to enter with a GOP aligned state is interesting. People focus on CA, but there are a lot of dissatisfied/disenfranchised people in Eastern OR and WA that might opt for that option, as well. That being said, such actions will bring comparisons with the same tactic used for maintain political balance during the pre-Civil Wars, which could ramp up current hysterias, especially if the nation and/or some states go back to lockdown.

    As a fan of local control and supporter of secessionists ideas, this could prove very interesting and potentially leading to new political dynamics to be realized, such as the US is too big to be governed, and accept that a certain political sort has occurred and that perhaps a peaceful breaking up could be the best course of action rather than trying to manipulate the situation in order to impose one’s political preference upon others. Sadly, this means elites giving up power, something humans generally do not do without a fight. Could be interesting times ahead.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I’m all for secession/balkinisation…preferably in a peaceful and thoughtful manner(falls to floor laughing uncontrollably)
      I seceded years ago…our little 5 acre portion of the 20 acre hermit kingdom, that is.
      (still pay property taxes, so they’ll leave me alone…and still encourage the boys to tackle my mother’s OCD mowing preferences….still…in my head, we’re a tiny sovereign state, akin to Andorra…until proven otherwise)
      because it IS too big….and unwieldy.
      “My ” US Representative(and yours, too) “represents” some 700,000 people…which is ludicrous, even if they wanted to.
      DC(and Austin, for that matter) are too far away.
      (See: Article the First:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressional_Apportionment_Amendment)
      and the “representatives”, writ large, are too distant, body and soul, to have a care for most of us’n’s.
      We need smaller polities, or “democracy” or even “republic” is just an advertising slogan, akin to that gecko, or the bears and their bum-wiping euphemisms.
      Texas has a Right, under the treaty that allowed it entry into the Union, to split into 5 states.
      but the Crazy Right has colonised all of this…”secession” and even Federalism is de facto shorthand for “pines for slavery”.
      In discussing Article the First in the proverbial feed store, I make an analogy of our locally owned bank. We all know where the bank president lives, where his wife works, etc…and even he acknowledged to me, during the GFC, that if he did any funny business with the People’s money, his house would burn.
      My current “representative” knows who i am, because I write well, and obviously know my stuff, and cut right to the quick when i write him to call out his BS…so I get return calls(which also means i’m on a list somewhere)
      but he couldn’t care less about the other 699,999(less those with large bank accounts, of course)…because they really don’t matter to him, and can do nothing to even inconvenience him.

      1. Keith

        I had to leave TX to find my little 5 acres out in the middle of nowhere. 30 minutes to town, but sadly they are growing with housing projects expanding the reach of HOAs and the annoying people they breed.

        I wished I lived in a area small enough where you could go the bank’s president’s home, of the sheriff’s or mayors, as well. Rulers being directly connected to the ruled results in a responsive govt that can be checked when needed. People are fallible, and sometimes they need a kick in the rear. Power just makes giving certain folks the kick they need.

      1. fresno dan

        Eureka Springs
        June 26, 2020 at 7:02 pm

        I agree – is there anything more un-representative?

      2. Keith

        No, abolish the direct election of Senators and send it back to state capitals. That way your bring in more state power and the corporate money has to spread out and cannot just sit in DC to buy their pols.

    2. JWP

      After completing a drive through central and eastern OR, the feeling of autonomy is real. The State of Jefferson as it’s called has some real support out there just as Cascadia has in the coastal areas. Western states are poorly divided up with Seattle, Portland, LA area/SF dictating policy for groups that will never have enough people to get the change they want. John Wesley Powell’s plan to divide up the states by river basin would have suited the region much better in terms of environmental impacts and political representation. If the country really does begin to collapse economically and socially, the western states will be a testing ground for new statehood.

      1. Keith

        I first learned about it from my property tax appraiser. You can see that Seattle metro rules of WA, I hear all the time from my legislatures detailing how they are prevented or try to stop the west side officials. I recall it was similar in NYC. You have the city and then outer NY which doesn’t count for much. When I was their in my high school days, I recall Staten Island wanting to seceded from the city. Nothing ever came from it.

        It would be interesting to see how it would be handled. In this day and age, I suspect we would need to go by the rules of 1850, one right states enters with one left state. Once that becomes the settlement, you know the country has failed as it will just perpetuate a status quo that no one wants.

    3. John k

      Well, ca will never break up. Maybe 2/3 in the south part need the water pumped down from the north… we know for a fact the north would have more clout to block that if a separate state.

  6. Ranger Rick

    Not looking forward to the can of worms the DC statehood proposal will open. Suddenly every city in the US will want to split from their states, Puerto Rico and Guam and the USVI will want statehood, and what once looked like a modest proposal to give people representation ends up splitting the country apart.

    1. a different chris

      Well the states aren’t historically arbitrary, but they are now functionally arbitrary. It’s not like Europe where a rural German is much more like a Berliner than he/she is a rural Italian.

      Whereas here a rural Pennsylvanian is pretty much like a rural Iowan whereas somebody from Philly is much more like somebody from LA.

      So does it make sense to re-divide? It certainly is not working great as it is. Instead of “checks and balances” of viewpoints, even pols that have good intentions (yeah, I know hen’s teeth) are pretty much hamstrung everywhere.

    2. Biph

      D.C. is unique and for a country that points to “no taxation without representation” as it’s reason for existence having 3/4 of million people without representation is problematic. Perhaps there is a simple solution/compromise that provides DC with congressional representation while recognizing it’s unique status as a federal city not a State or perhaps I’m being literally too cute by half. Give DC one full voting Representative and one Senator, let it remain a city and not a State i.e. no star on the flag and a mayor not a governor.

      1. anon

        Given Article 1, Section 8 of the constitution giving Congress authority “To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District,” how can Washington DC be a state without a constitutional amendment? In a federalist system, how can Congress have exclusive authority over a state to legislate?

        1. Biph

          By reducing such a district to Capitol Hill and the White House and maybe a few other enclaves and making the rest of D.C. a State. The Constitution limits how large the federal district can be not how small and makes no mention that it has to be contiguous. I like my idea better though.

          1. ambrit

            Or, if we really want to stick it to the D of C, giving it up to Maryland. No new state, just an enlarged existing one.

            1. The Rev Kev

              And if DC makes any trouble about it, just set up an American Embassy there and before you know it, a new DC government will take power to carry this idea through.

            2. anEnt

              This has been mooted before and rejected by Maryland as it would tilt the balance of power within Maryland away from Baltimore to DC/ suburbs when the suburbs (Montgomery and Prince George’s counties) already are surpassing Baltimore and its suburbs.

    3. Daryl

      >Suddenly every city in the US will want to split from their states

      As someone in Houston, I already would like that.

    1. fresno dan

      June 26, 2020 at 3:40 pm

      portraying Fresno as hot, dry, hot, dusty, hot, very hot, and full of yokels….well, that is totally true and accurate, but if they were nice they wouldn’t say it…
      Wow, Michael Richards was in this.
      (I tried to watch this once…and only got to the 15 minute mark and that was with fast forwarding the vcr)

      1. Carolinian

        I think J-Law should personally film an introductory apology for Red Sparrow. May get up a petition. She has also played a transplanted Carolinian in a movie about lumber jacks whose title I have forgotten. H’wood isn’t much in touch with the nether regions.

        1. ambrit

          From what I have read and heard from some people with first hand exposure to Hollywood, the denizens of that place are well acquainted with the human form’s “nether regions.” (I heard a funny story from a friend of Dad’s many years ago about how he was propositioned at a Los Angeles nightspot by a male “Name” star. I have been propositioned, when I was much younger and better looking, by a locally well known married physician and a known and also married professional football player.)
          Ye nether regions are ubiquitous.
          Uh, “Red Sparrow?” An East Bloc superhero?

          1. Carolinian

            I meant it’s literally a movie about lumber jacks, not the Village People variety. Perhaps nether regions was a poor choice of words.


            Your personal witness brings to mind Woody Allen in Love and Death re his allure (“I was once whistled at by a couple of Cossacks”).

            Red Sparrow is a Murder Incorporated version of Russia’s spy agency that gives her an excuse to run around in scanty outfits. It’s ridiculously bad.

            1. Katniss Everdeen

              Red Sparrow IS ridiculously bad, and, I must say, I was personally affronted.

            2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              Yeah but J-Law is hot and gets buck naked in her Soviet Spy Training so….yeah :)

          2. fresno dan

            June 26, 2020 at 4:56 pm

            editing suggestion
            From what I have read and heard from some people with first hand exposure to Hollywood, the denizens of that place are well acquainted in touch with the human form’s “nether regions.”
            but it depends on your intent…or entendre’s….

            1. The Rev Kev

              It has a long history that in Hollywood. You should read some of the late Larry Niven’s books. He shared a place with Errol Flynn for awhile and some of the stories of the behaviour of people on Hollywood are hilarious.

              1. fresno dan

                The Rev Kev
                June 26, 2020 at 8:06 pm

                BTW, I agree with your comment from this morning’s post about defund the police. Maybe I’m wearing too much tin foil, but most people are not interested enough in politics to suss out exactly what is meant by “defund the police” – people have jobs and families, and post graduate phraseology is probably why we have a republican president.
                I admire Colin Kapernick, but I think a prayer circle (and I’m an agnostic) after the national anthem or at the end of the half would have accomplished far more than bringing the national anthem into it.
                but that’s just me…

                1. periol

                  Prayer circles are quite common in college football, mainly either before or after a game. I don’t think a prayer circle would have the desire effect.

                  Kaepernick was protesting the apartheid hiding behind the flag. I’m not really sure how a prayer circle accomplishes the same thing.

                  Whether or not you agree with him, his protest is still resonating today, year’s later. I’d say it has accomplished a great deal.

                2. neo-realist

                  I don’t think the average sports fan would have interpreted a prayer circle after the national anthem as a protest. Exposing the lie the American Flag conceals during the anthem went a lot farther, and it’s possible that many who opposed Kapernick taking a knee would never be swayed by any action that exposed the American dream as a lie for Black Americans.

    1. ronnie mitchell

      The Onion actually tells the truth here…”An analysis conducted last week revealed a number of troubling flaws within the long-running, heavily subsidized program, including a lack of consistent oversight, no clear objectives or goals, the persistent hiring of unqualified and selfishly motivated individuals, and a 100 percent redundancy rate among its employees.”

  7. kareninca

    Masks are still hard to come by; you can’t get them in the only stores I go to here in Silicon valley (Walgreens and Trader Joe’s). Fortunately I have an older relative back in rural New England who likes to sew. She is broke and so I sent her money for masks. The ones she mailed to me (her grandkids picked them up outside her house and went to the post office with them) are well constructed. The pattern is reminiscent of feminine hygiene products, but I’m not vain, and anyway who can see my face? They are washable.

    As I stood in the Trader Joe’s line a few days ago, I realized that there was a hair in the mask, pressed against my mouth. Ugh. What to do. Then I realized there was more than one. Then I realized – it was dog fur. That is why I don’t use cloth napkins. Everything in my condo gets coated with dog fur. Washing doesn’t remove it. Drying helps, but you can’t put masks through the dryer (due to the rubber bands for the ears).

    So I stood in line swallowing dog fur. I guess I’ll be swallowing a lot of dog fur for the foreseeable future.

    1. Carolinian

      Funny. The “where to get masks” problem is not to be sneezed at. Harbor Freight tool stores used to sell them but then said they gave all their stock away to hospitals. When a nearby town recently passed mask ordinance they gave away 50k masks to stores on first come basis. If govt is going to require masks they should make sure that people can get masks or be given masks.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        I was sent a mask, by mail, by my Medicare Advantage company.

        I live in Florida.

        I suffer from the most relentless hot flashes in recorded history.

        I think the mask is made of wool.

        Don’t they realize that if I suffocate or die of hyperthermia my premium payments stop?

      2. marieann

        My son tells me that Costco was giving out masks to the customers. Where I live in Ontario it is now mandatory to wear a mask in a commercial business. I sew therefore we have a good supply of masks at the moment.

      3. HotFlash

        Mmm Hmm. I live in Ontario too, and hand-lettered signs in my local $ stores, grocery stores, hardware stores, convenience stores, drug stores — the chains stores don’t even bother to advertize! All these stores are advertising and delivering! masks (incl N95), hand sanitizer, wipes, various degrees of gloves. Prices are v reasonable (competition, you know!) None of these products require nuclear security or anything, so why don’t youse guys have them?

        As was said about the Irish Potato Famine, “It was a blight throughout Europe, it was only a famine in Ireland.” The reason was (English) government policy.

        As Lambert quotess, they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

        1. Carolinian

          People here have store bought masks or at least Amazon bought masks. I just don’t know of any retail stores selling them. Perhaps others do.

          1. kareninca

            When I last looked on Amazon a few weeks ago, the disposable masks had low ratings. I looked at the reviews of one of the top selling versions and several of the reviewers said that if you focused in on the side of the box you could see that it was from Wuhan. But then when that was pointed out they removed that photo.

            I see that Amazon now has more on offer. But I’ve sent all that money to my relative and I have these masks; it is a sunk cost and it would be annoying to buy more. Also, I have found that homemade masks are a class signifier. Around here it is poor people – mostly Hispanic – who wear them. Last week at Walgreens the cashier fervently told me (in my homemade mask) to have a “blessed day;” I promise you no-one has ever said that to me before. So for a while I think I will keep having a blessed day and eating dog fur and not buying them from Amazon.

      4. rowlf

        We have a small Japanese grocery store nearby that implemented a “No mask, no gloves – no service” policy in March but they also had boxes of both at the door for customers put on. Not sure if they kept the policy/practice and I usually only stop in every other month for specific items.

        I had my own gear so no problem going in. I like my friend in Bangkok, a Thai national, chatting with me over the Line app two months ago, that in his area if you don’t have a mask on everyone avoids you like you are diseased.

    2. jen

      Karenica, I have two golden retrievers and definitely feel your pain. Part of my wash/dry routine is shaking the dog hair out of my masks. I started with bandanas, and it was unmanageable.

      1. kareninca

        Our dog seems to be a golden retriever german shepherd mix. So she is very furry.

        As a bonus, I wear sunscreen on my way to the store (since I’m not wearing my mask in the car). So when I take off the mask when I get out, much of the fur that I haven’t eaten, is stuck to my face. I end up with a furry face.

        1. ambrit

          Show it to a few check out cashiers, quickly now, and say that it is a heretofore unanticipated by product of the vaccine trials you are involved in.

      2. ronnie mitchell

        When working during the time asbestos was the only insulation you worked with, you’d get all these fibers on you and your clothes so we used tape. Wrap it around your fingers, sticky side on the outside and just pat down your arms and clothes, or whatever you want. We also used it for dog hair or cat hair on the couch.

  8. Matthew Saroff

    Interesting bit of history regarding the Senate: the Dakota territory was admitted as 2 states, North & South Dakota in an explicit attempt to pack the senate.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Ahah! You have just solved a major problem. In today’s links they are talking about making the District of Columbia a State (They can’t call it the State of Columbia as that is not woke due to the Columbus thing but whatever). I wondered how they were going to make 51 stars fit on the flag without recruiting a few more States like Puerto Rico, etc. but you have suggested the solution. Make DC a State while combining North & South Dakota into the single State of Dakota. There! Problem solved.

      1. Matthew Saroff

        Making 51 stars fit on a flag is easy
        8 stars * * * * * * * *
        9 stars * * * * * * * * *
        8 stars * * * * * * * *
        9 stars * * * * * * * * *
        8 stars * * * * * * * *
        9 stars * * * * * * * * *

        51 Stars, easy peasy.

  9. Peerke

    Re HVAC systems. Hypothelizing but yesterday, I believe, there was an article in links about analysis of root cause of outbreak of covid at a large meat processing plant in NRW, Germany. Today I see the HVAC article above. It occurs to me that meat packing plants (being kept at say 40F with outside temps of 64F) are not unlike the general situation in Phoenix/Tucson AZ (being kept at 72F with 105F outside) meaning HVAC going full tilt maximising air recirc rates. Could it be that (ignoring stupidity and lack of masks etc for the sake of argument) AZ public buildings have turned into equivalent of meat packing plants since Memorial Day when the temps ramped up and led to the massive increase in positive tests?

    1. Arizona Slim

      72 degrees? Yeesh! That is an icebox.

      Slim’s AC is set on 78, and there it will stay.

      1. Peerke

        Mine too. I was referring to public spaces like supermercados and bars, restos etc. I mean you walk into some of these places and it is cold. You can hear the HVAC fans.

        1. Tom Doak

          When working on a project in FL, one of my associates noted that the fancier the restaurant, the colder the A/C. Our client liked to take us to a steak house and it was like sitting in a meat locker, after a long day out in the sun.

    2. Fred

      Not mentioned and far more important to most people:Air conditioning in cars.
      Say you have a load of infected grocery bags and handled items just picked up in the back of the car. The air return is there, the tidal flow of air passes back to the dashboard and flows over chilled tubes cooled by the system, then blows right in the driver and passengers’ faces, bringing stirred up virus from the back. In addition, some car A/C blows on the floor, stirring up dust underfoot that definitely has virus, powdered dogshit and other things are added to the flow, before being sucked into the air return at the back, cooled and then blown in your face.
      Quesion: Are car AC filters good enough to trap the virus?

      1. MLTPB

        Our bank is strictly drive-through these days.

        I am masked, capped, goggled and gloved, whenever I am there.

        Each time I go, I bring a clear tube container inside. Opening it, I put my deposits in it. And when done I retrieve again inside the car to get the receipts.

        Only the last time I was there I turned off the AC (and opened all the windows), to avoid having air blow whatever was on the tube container, the receipts, or cash unto my face or body.

        I had though I was bit too paranoid..sorry, precautious.

  10. JeffC

    No snark needed re exclusive Old Town Alexandria vs the description of several miles of US1 through Alexandria. I used to live there, in half of a tiny 1950’s duplex in the grungy part south of the Beltway. I had an Alexandria address, but my world there was run-down strip malls and fast-food restaurants and a true-Americana BBQ joint called The Dixie Pig with a pig sculpture on the roof. That part of Alexandria is entirely different from the elite zone north of the beltway – Old Town – where only the 1% can afford to live.

    1. LaRuse

      Exactly. Just south of “expensive” Alexandria is some territory that reminds me of the Route 1 area where I live just south of the City of Richmond. Tiendas, braiding shops, Dollar Generals, etc.
      I don’t go up there enough to tell you where that cut off is, but my extended family lived off Route 1 up north north, closer to Mt. Vernon and I know from visiting up there from the early 90s to as recently as 2018 for my Great Nana’s funeral, there is a sudden and dramatic change in income levels along the way on Route 1.

  11. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: UPDATE Biden (D)(4): “Why Biden Is Rejecting Black Lives Matters’ Boldest Proposals” [Politico].

    ‘Those white suburban women now understand that they have skin in the racism game as well. And that changes everything.’…

    Well, maybe. There is an old saying that goes, “A republican is a democrat who’s been ‘mugged.’ ”

    Who can forget the central park Karen–Amy Cooper–who called the cops on the “african-american” man who was recording her.

    And here is a video from last night’s Tucker Carlson show which plays a 911 call from a presumably “white suburban woman” whose car was attacked by protesters while she and her young daughter were inside. Start video at around 7:10. It’s really pretty terrifying.


    It remains to be seen how heartfelt the cheap, socially demanded, “anti-racist” commitment of suburban white women is, when events spiral out of control a little too close to home. It also remains to be seen how much confidence that he will keep the mayhem contained to somebody else’s neighborhood, the doddering biden inspires.

    As eleanor holmes norton said when she and andrea mitchell were accosted by some goofball during an interview, “Where are the police when you need them?” I don’t think “re-imagined” is an answer that’s going to cut it in the cushy ‘burbs.


  12. Mammoth Jackstock

    3-Star Flynn’s DIA racked up $666,000 in music licensing fees by using Skinny Puppy, industrial grimdark synth pioneers, for enhanced listening applications at Gitmo. Not being competent enough to keep his torture iPod secret might be the least of Flynn’s issues. A man at one time responsible for one-quarter of the intel content in the President’s Daily Briefing, calling Kislyak in the middle of Flynn’s Punta Cana vacation, and making it painfully obvious from the transcript, servicing an arrangement: the campaign and the Kremlin versus the Democrats. Then comes Flynn’s beautiful, pause-able denial, if not plausible. Things didn’t go textbook, but good enough for a CliffsNotes administration. Suspicions cleared *snap* right up.

    1. ambrit

      You have the relationships backward. It turns out it was the Intel community and the Democrat Party versus the Trump Administration. No one ever mentions the fact that someone leaked transcripts of private and sensitive communications of an American high official. That’s a felony right there, but no one is pursuing that line of inquiry.

  13. richard

    Hey there, just an FYI, I am getting pop-up banner ads every time I reload a page here, for about the last week or so.

  14. MLTPB


    I’ve noted also the different rates you mentioned among LA communities, presumably such variations exist in NY too.

    Is it then that people in NY have been more paranoid, as you said?


    Likely perhaps.

    And those in LA who are or want to be paranoid, or more paranoid, can shower when they return home, among those precautionary measures that people can suggest.

    1. MLTPB

      This is a reply to periol’s comment which was subsequently revised (I think) the updated comment is currently time stamped on 9:50 pm.

      I have no idea how my reply ended up here.

      I sometimes or maybe often hit the wrong reply button. In this case, I might have hit ‘Leave a Reply.’ I have no idea.

      My apologies.

      1. periol

        The revision above was that I originally only answered your first question, then reread your comment and replied to your second question. :)

    2. periol

      Personally, I wear gloves, a mask, and safety glasses when I go out.
      I don’t shower when I get back home unless I think I was somewhere contaminated.
      Everyone thinks I’m paranoid.

      If everyone acted paranoid, this thing would die out.

      I think one of the biggest steps we could take to control this would be to make sure all these so-called “essential” workers are getting free PPE they can change out all the time. It’s hard wearing a mask for 8 hours, too. They should have more frequent breaks, where they can take a break from the PPE and mask wearing. Essentially, we should be changing the jobs that are higher-risk to lower those risk levels, but that will never happen unless this thing really spirals out of control.

  15. ObjectiveFunction

    Worthy piece by NYU prof and tech blogger Scott Galloway here:

    It’s time to end the consensual hallucination between university leadership, parents, and students that in-person classes will resume in the fall…. The declarations could be interpreted as: “Parents, please send in your deposits. Nothing wrong here, nope, all good!”

    Twenty-two million students enroll in college in the US annually. Hundreds of thousands of faculty and administrators would be interacting with them on campus…. After 12 weeks together, those students will travel back to all 50 states, and international students to the 4 corners of the earth. What. Are. We. Thinking?

    Covid-19 didn’t get the memo with our proposed timeline and is indifferent to our optimism…. “Distancing”… Have You Met Young People? Gen Z is by far the age group most likely to be asymptomatic. They are also most likely to feel immortal and defy healthcare guidance. So, both physically and psychologically, young people are most inclined to be superspreaders.

    Universities will face a financial crisis as parents and students recalibrate the value of the fall semester (spoiler alert: it’s a terrible deal). In addition, our cash cows (international students) may decide xenophobia, Covid-19, and H1-B visa limits aren’t worth $79,000 (estimated one-year cost of attending NYU). This has been a long time coming.

  16. Henry

    Lambert, Yves and jerry Lynn, you seem to read a LOT of news everyday. And I imagine most of it is negative. How do you ensure your mental health remains intact? How do you ensure you don’t get depressed for the long term?

    1. Yves Smith

      First, I am a pessimist, so since I always think of worst case scenarios as being very probable, I’m not surprised on the downside as much as most people. Second, my injuries are way more negative for me than anything in the news. But maybe most important, reading is much less emotionally taxing than watching TV or listening to radio. I now sometimes hear parts of the evening news, and it is much more draining than processing pretty much the same factual information in print. The dramatization is draining.

  17. John Anthony La Pietra

    The commentariat does know, I trust (doesn’t it?) that there has been a DC Statehood Party operating for about fifty years . . . close to half of it under it’s current name of the DC Statehood Green Party.

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