2:00PM Water Cooler 6/4/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Gentle readers, I seem to be asking for more patience than usual. Today, my idiotic iOS mailer decided not to mail my links out to my Mac, and dumped then in the Outbox, without telling me, as it will do, a brutally bad UI/UX experience. So completing today’s Water Cooler will require me to go through that inventory, which by now should be arriving; naturally I discovered the debacle at the last minute. What is it, phases of the moon? –lambert UPDATE All done!


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

Linear. Good for Louisiana for bringing down the peak, but I don’t see how anybody could look at this and say we’ve beaten the virus. (I suppose if you think COVID-19 is like the flu, that’s OK, but it isn’t.)

As I keep saying, the pandemic is not under control:


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

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

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

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

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): “Trump and Biden clash as George Floyd’s killing jolts 2020 race” [CNN]. “The presumptive Democratic nominee has reacted to the changed dynamic of a campaign previously kept in hibernation by lockdowns, warning that citizens cannot ‘let our rage consume us.’ Energizing a campaign initially based on the uninspiring prospect of an old order restoration, Biden Tuesday presented himself as an avatar of racial justice and national healing…. He will need to informally corral voices of tolerance and turn his campaign into a cohesive national movement for change. That means encouraging peaceful protests and emerging as the leader of Americans like those who quietly gathered on the Lincoln Memorial on Tuesday and went home before a 7 p.m. curfew. He must open his tent to those attracted by former Republican President George W. Bush’s moving and above partisan politics [lol] call on Tuesday for ‘America to examine our tragic failures.'” • First, restoration. Now, a “movement for change.” Scratch out cat, and write in dog…..

Biden (D)(2): “Biden Has Changed—For the Better” [Franklin Foer, The Atlantic]. “The challenge for the Biden candidacy is to bridge an alliance with a resurgent left. Biden, a creature of the Senate, has to convince young people rushing to the barricades that he’s worth a trip to the polls. And the challenge for the left is to accept that Biden is its greatest chance of achieving its long-held dreams. What he’s demonstrated over the past week is a willingness to play the role of tribune, to let the moment carry him to a new place.” • Foer leaves out the Republicans, to whom Biden also seeks to appeal. This pudding has no theme….

Obama (D)(1): “President Obama Discusses Policing And Protests In Town Hall: Change Will ‘Require Everyone’s Participation'” [Elle].

[OBAMA] I want to speak directly to the young men and women of color in this country, who…have witnessed too much violence and too much death and too often some of that violence has come from folks who were supposed to be serving and protecting you. I want you to know that you matter, I know you know that your lives matter, that your dreams matter. When I go home and I look at the faces of my daughters Sasha and Malia, and I look at my nephews and nieces, I see limitless potential that deserves to flourish and thrive. You should be able to learn and make mistakes and live a life of joy without having to worry about what’s going to happen when you walk to the store or go for a jog or [are] driving down the street or looking at some birds in a park. And so I hope that you also feel hopeful even as you may feel angry because you have the power to make things better and you have helped to make the entire country feel as if this is something that’s got to change.”

What a bunch of hooey malarkey. Biden yesterday and Obama today are straight out of The West Wing, where it’s always about the speech (besides caving to Republicans at every opportunity (and virtue signaling (and sexism))). Sasha and Malia are gonna do just fine. Their Dad owns a Big House in Oak Bluffs Martha’s Vineyard.

Sanders (D)(1): “Staffers lash out in Bernie world meltdown” [Politico]. Shit-stirring from Politico. Losing is always ugly, and people who lose are often anxious to share the ugliness with others. I don’t think the issues with the Sanders campaign were tactical — and hence, no single operative can be blamed — but strategic. Sanders theory of change did not work. Why?

Trump (R)(1): “Trump’s Words Are Not Meaningless Ramblings” [Jane Chong, The Atlantic]. “Because law enforcement begins with the simple act of legal interpretation, presidential speech is presidential action. This is not how Americans usually think about what the president is doing when he speaks. Under the government’s three-branch structure, interpretation of the law is a function usually attributed to the courts. That’s because when it comes to defining the law’s parameters in the context of a specific dispute, the courts get the last word. As tensions explode across the country, however, America is getting an indelible reminder that, as the authority charged with overseeing the execution of the law, the president gets the first word…. The natural inclination is to draw a distinction between the president’s speech and the president’s actions—to separate the chaff from the wheat, the empty pronouncement from the concrete government response…. That the president is wrong about the law, however, doesn’t render his speech empty of legal import….. [M]achinery aside, many of Trump’s statements are self-executing. Therein lies their power. Never mind what the courts say tomorrow; he speaks the law as it is understood and applied today…. On the contrary, the nation is witnessing, firsthand, the immense might the president wields by way of his most ill-defined, hard-to-measure power: presidential speech.” • I can’t help but think back to Watergate, when there was a plethora of figures able to successfully take issue with Nixon’s pronouncements. I was younger then, but it seems evident to me that there is nobody with the stature of, say, Sam Ervin (or Eliott Richardson) today.

* * *

“Poll: Trump and Biden neck and neck in six crucial swing states” [The Hill]. “President Trump and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are neck and neck in battleground states won by Trump in 2016, according to a new Change Research poll. Forty-eight percent of likely Florida voters said they supported the former vice president, while 45 percent said the same about Trump, according to results from the left-leaning polling group. In Arizona, Trump led by 1 point, with 45 percent support. Biden led in North Carolina with 46 percent support, and Trump trailed by just 1 point. Meanwhile, in Michigan, only 2 points separated the men, with Biden holding 48 percent support and Trump holding 46 percent support. Trump held his biggest lead in the poll in Pennsylvania, leading by 4 points at 50 percent support. The two men tied at 45 percent support in Wisconsin. The same survey showed Biden with a national lead of 48 percent support to Trump’s 41 percent.” • So, in the electoral map above, I speculated on FL (Trump -1), MI (-1), NC (-1), and PA (+4).” • So Trump is within easy striking distance in the midst of a pandemic, a depression, and an uprising. Not to seem overly prescriptive, but perhaps if the Democrats had spent three years rebranding as a party that stood for something, anything, instead of going down the RussiaGate rabbit hole, they’d be in better shape?

“Young Kentucky Voters Have Doubts About McConnell’s Top Democratic Challenger, Amy McGrath” [Vogue]. “Kentucky teens who spoke to Teen Vogue say that they believe McGrath has pivoted rightward, and they think the national Democratic Party has centered her campaign at the expense of more progressive candidates. Even young adults who described themselves as moderate or centrist Democrats expressed frustration… Will Powers, 19, agreed that he had no idea what McGrath stood for, but rattled off some of the things she opposes, including Medicare for All and tuition-free college. ‘It’s hard to understand McGrath as a candidate beyond what she isn’t in favor of,’ he said… Charles Booker, who was elected to the Kentucky State House of Representatives in 2018, and is running on supporting the Green New Deal and Medicare for All… the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) endorsed McGrath in February. On the ground, young voters say, it often feels like a primary isn’t happening at all.” • I heard Booker on the Trillbillies (!), and I like him. I don’t know how Teen Vogue became one of my goto sources for political coverage, but here we are. I just hope Condé Nast doesn’t go belly-up and take Teen Vogue with it.

“A day after he enters District 12 race, Chris Hedges drops out” [Planet Princeton]. “Chirs Hedges, the Green Party candidate who announced on Wednesday that he would challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman in the 12th District race this year, said on Twitter Thursday that he was dropping out already. Hedges, a Princeton resident, said he was informed Thursday that according to FCC rules, he can’t run for federal office and have a national TV show. ‘I entered the race to bring up issues I care about, but this is not worth losing an important media platform,’ Hedges wrote. ‘I entered the race to challenge the corruption of the Democratic Party, especially the Democratic Party machine in New Jersey, one of the worst in the nation,’ he wrote. ‘It was never about winning, but raising public awareness and building popular opposition to the ruling political elites that will not be successful in the limited span of one election cycle, but must begin to take root.'” • Seems a little careless not to have consulted with an election lawyer or other subject matter expert before announcing.

2016 Post Mortem

“Appeals court mulls making Hillary Clinton testify on emails” [Politico]. “Of the three judges, [Obama appointee Robert Wilkins] sounded weariest of the Clinton email saga and most eager to bring it to a close. When Cotca said whether Clinton was intending to avoid FOIA was ‘a critical question in this case that has to be answered,’ Wilkins interrupted. ‘I don’t understand why that’s a question that has to be answered,’ he declared. ‘The question is whether there’s been an adequate search. What difference does it make what the intent was or what her reasons were for using a private server?'” • One for the judges, I guess!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“He Took in Protesters Facing Arrest in DC. Then the Washington Post Reported That He Was Late Paying Rent.” [The Washingtonian]. “The stories about Dubey had focused on his selfless act—”I know in my heart of hearts that you would open the door, too,” he told Washingtonian Tuesday morning—and the experiences of the demonstrators who stayed with him, many of whom said they’d been tear-gassed or pepper-sprayed. That is, until Tuesday evening, when the Washington Post published an article that included comments from Dubey’s landlord, who says Dubey is late paying rent on the Swann Street house.” • Gotcha! More: “Dubey, CEO of Percynal Health Innovations, says he’s fine. “I’m a 1099 independent contractor,” he explains, and because of coronavirus, business has dropped off.” • The Post merely characterized Dubey as a “a 44-year-old health-care entrepreneur.” • What WaPo omits entirely, and the Washingtonian airbrushes, is that Percynal Health Innovations is a contractor for AHIP (the horrid lobbying organization for the health insurance industry, responsible for whatever number of excess deaths there are without #MedicareForAll). So, rent payments in the midst of a pandemic and a depression are a gotcha moment, an occasion for scandal and pearl-clutching, but working for a death-dealing lobbyist organization is A-OK. Your political class at work! (None of this takes away from Dubey’s courageous and moral act, even it it did take place in an immoral system.)

“CIA veterans who monitored crackdowns abroad see troubling parallels in Trump’s handling of protests” [WaPo]. “The scenes have been disturbingly familiar to CIA analysts accustomed to monitoring scenes of societal unraveling abroad — the massing of protesters, the ensuing crackdowns and the awkwardly staged displays of strength by a leader determined to project authority. In interviews and posts on social media in recent days, current and former U.S. intelligence officials have expressed dismay at the similarity between events at home and the signs of decline or democratic regression they were trained to detect in other nations.” • Life’s little ironies. I would say that our descent to Third World political forms began, at the very latest, in December 2016.

“The Memo: Nation nears a breaking point” [The Hill]. “A Monmouth University poll released Tuesday found that an astonishing 74 percent of respondents believe the nation to be on the wrong track.” • “‘I’ve reached the breaking point,’ he snapped.” But for what reason?

“The American story, splintered, and those vying to tell it” [Associated Press]. “It was, in fact, a clash between storylines — the fundamentally different visions the North and South had for the country — that precipitated the Civil War.” • Oh.

Speaking of the narrative:

Well, one never knows….

* * *

“Voting problems in D.C., Maryland lead to calls for top officials to resign” [WaPo]. “The primary elections held Tuesday in Maryland and the District were a test of a mostly vote-by-mail election, a prospect that much of the country could face in the high-stakes November general election if the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt in-person gatherings. On Wednesday, local leaders declared that the two jurisdictions failed that test…. [In Maryland,] at least 1 million ballots were delayed.” • I don’t have a good feeling about the 2020 election being regarded as legitimate, unless Biden achieves a Reagan v. Mondale-level result, a margin so great that no amount of chicanery could plausibly be said to explain it.

“About 1 in 10 ballots went undelivered to Baltimore City voters during 7th Congressional District special election” [Baltimore Sun]. “Nearly 1 in 10 ballots could not be delivered to Baltimore City voters during the special election in April, raising concerns for the June 2 primary, which is also being conducted by mail…. The figures are being calculated as state election officials take stock of the lessons learned from Maryland’s first election held primarily by mail.”

“Seattle tries out mobile voting” [ComputerWorld]. “About 1.2 million Seattle area voters will be able to use their smartphone, laptop or a computer at their local library to vote in a current election this year. This will be the first time online voting is available to all eligible registered voters of a district, according to a foundation behind the initiative. The King Conservation District in Washington State is the third region in the U.S. to partner with the nonprofit Tusk Philanthropies on a national effort to expand mobile voting, and Washington is the fifth state to pilot mobile voting in general…. Jeremy Epstein, vice chairman of the Association for Computing Machinery’s U.S. Technology Policy Committee, said Seattle’s ‘experiment is very ill-advised,’ and voters who use it are hoping that the software correctly records their vote, though ‘there’s no way to ensure that’s the case.’ ‘They’re hoping the software doesn’t disclose their vote to anyone else; there’s no way to ensure that’s the case either,’ Epsein said via email. ‘They’re hoping that the servers don’t get hacked, which could change their votes — yet again, no way to ensure that’s the case. There’s been no independent security assessment of the system — just the vendor’s assertions that their system is secure. And what we know from 20-plus years of web applications is that there is always a way to break in, and it’s usually not hard.’ Adding to an innate insecurity of online and mobile voting systems is that compromises often aren’t discovered for months after they happen, long after the election results are finalized and it’s too late to do anything.” • A pilot project? Kinda like piloting the Hindeberg… Then again, a lousy app helped torpedo Sanders in Iowa, so it’s clear that there are advantages to this approach. And–

“Election officials mark successful mobile voting pilot in Seattle area; security experts still skeptical” [GeekWorld]. “The first U.S. election to make mobile voting available to all eligible voters went off without a hitch — at least according to the organizers of the pilot.” • Which is what they would say. More: “Voters participating in the mobile voting pilot entered their names and birthdays to verify their identities and pull up their Democracy Live online ballots. They cast their votes using a smartphone or other internet-connected device and then signed electronically.” • ZOMG. Now they’re just trolling us.

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.

Employment Situation: “30 May 2020 Initial Unemployment Claims 1,877,000 This Week” [Econintersect]. “The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 2,608,750 (reported last week as 2,608,000) to 2,284,000… The COVID-19 virus continues to impact the number of initial claims and insured unemployment. This report now includes information on claimants filing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation claims.”

Employment Situation: “May 2020 Job Cuts Nearly 400,000 – Second Highest On Record” [Econintersect]. “Job cuts announced by U.S.-based employers totaled 397,016 in May, down 40.8% from April’s total of 671,129, the highest monthly total on record. Despite the drop, last month’s total is the second-highest monthly total on record since we began tracking job cut announcements in January 1993. The COVID-19 pandemic caused 209,147 cuts in May, followed by 119,018 job cuts due to market conditions, and 50,172 announced cuts due to demand downturn.”

Trade: “April 2020 Trade Significantly Declined Due to Coronavirus” [Econintersect]. “This was a full month of coronavirus impact – and it significantly impacted trade…. Headlines said Imports of goods were down month-over-month – import goods growth has positive implications historically to the economy. Econintersect analysis shows unadjusted goods (not including services) growth decelerated 14.3 % month-over-month (unadjusted data) – down 20.9 % year-over-year (down 16.7 % year-over-year inflation-adjusted). The rate of growth 3-month trend declined. Headlines said Exports of goods were down month-over-month, and Econintersect analysis shows unadjusted goods export growth decelerated (not including services) 19.9 % month-over-month – down 29 % year-over-year (down 25.5 % year-over-year inflation-adjusted). The 3-month rate of growth trend declined.””

* * *

Honey for the Bears: “Opinion: Key Economic Indicators Are Weirdly Inverted. It’s a Warning Sign” [MarketWatch (rd)]. “The inversion came in the form of figures showing Americans’ collective income rising by double-digits, even as tens of millions of people lost jobs, incomes, and businesses. It’s a statistical oddity caused by Congress’ massive infusion of cash into the economy…. Personal income rose 10.5% for March, according to the latest Bureau of Economic Analysis figures, while consumption fell by 13.6%, leading to a massive increase in the savings rate for households…. Households saved a third of their income in April as their spending on restaurants and travel dropped, along with spending on health care as people stayed away from doctor’s offices and hospitals…. [T]he only thing holding the economy back from the abyss are government payments that some policymakers are reluctant to renew. Without new legislation, the expanded benefits are scheduled to run out by the end of July.”

Fodder for the Bulls: “Restaurant bookings data show U.S. economy is starting to revive after Covid closures” [CNBC]. “Though statistics provided by online reservation platform OpenTable for May 26 show that the number of seated diners at its participating restaurants nationwide is down an eye-popping 85% compared to this time last year, that is still far better than the 100% slide observed as recently as earlier this month and throughout April.” • But can restaurants make a profit at that level? I’m dubious, especially as social distancing requirements shrink the number of seats. Via alert reader rd, compare Germany.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 61 Greed (previous close: 61 Greed;) [CNN]. One week ago: 50 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 4 at 12:23pm

The Biosphere

State of emergency in Norilsk after 20,000 tons of diesel leaks into Arctic river system” [The Siberian Times (periol)]. “A state of emergency was introduced in Norilsk, Russia’s nickel capital, after almost 20,000 tons of diesel burst out of a reserve fuel tank at the TPP-3 industrial site. … The exact reason of the leak is yet to be established, but a statement from Norilsk Nickel company, which operates the site suggests it could have been caused – worryingly – by collapsing permafrost. ‘Due to sudden subsidence of supports which served for more than 30 years without problems, the diesel fuel storage tank was damaged, resulting in a fuel leak’, said a statement from Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of palladium and Russia’s leading nickel mining and smelting company.”

Health Care

“Surgisphere: governments and WHO changed Covid-19 policy based on suspect data from tiny US company” [Guardian]. Apparently, the Science story I ran yesterday on Surgisphere was triggered by Guardian reporting. The deck: “Surgisphere, whose employees appear to include a sci-fi writer and adult content model, provided database behind Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine hydroxychloroquine studies.” Oh. More: “Two of the world’s leading medical journals – the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine – published studies based on Surgisphere data. The studies were co-authored by the firm’s chief executive, Sapan Desai. Late on Tuesday, after being approached by the Guardian, the Lancet released an ‘expression of concern’ about its published study. The New England Journal of Medicine has also issued a similar notice…. It is not clear from the methodology in the studies that used Surgisphere data, or from the Surgisphere website itself, how the company was able to put in place data-sharing agreements from so many hospitals worldwide, including those with limited technology, and to reconcile different languages and coding systems, all while staying within the regulatory, data-protection and ethical rules of each country.” • So who was funding Desai? Also, the Lancet article based on Desai’s proprietary database was peer-reviewed. What went wrong there?

“The coronavirus seems to be sparing populations at high altitudes” [MSN (Wukchumni)]. “When tourists from Mexico, China, and Britain became the first COVID-19 fatalities in Cusco, Peru, it seemed as if the onetime capital of the Inca Empire might be headed for a significant outbreak. Nestled in a picturesque Andean valley, the high-altitude city of 420,000 residents, the gateway to the cloud forest citadel of Machu Picchu, receives more than 3 million international visitors per year — many from pandemic hot spots, including the United States, Italy, and Spain. Yet since those three deaths, between March 23 and April 3, at the start of Peru’s national lockdown, there has not been another COVID-19 fatality in the entire Cusco region, even as the disease has claimed more than 4,000 lives nationally…. In one peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology, researchers from Australia, Bolivia, Canada, and Switzerland looking at epidemiological data from Bolivia, Ecuador, and Tibet found populations living above 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) reported significantly lower levels of confirmed infections than their lowland counterparts.” • Interesting.

“The Software That’s Powering All the Coronavirus Dashboards” [Bloomberg]. “Various state and local governments have launched similar GIS implementations. There are dashboards from the University of Virginia; New Jersey; Florida; Los Angeles County; Travis County, Texas; San Diego County; Fairfax County, Va.; the Canadian province of British Columbia; and the United Kingdom. All of these are built using the same software, ArcGIS, developed by California-based software company Esri. The privately owned company was founded in 1969 and sits unassumingly in that tier of comfortable, decades-old tech companies built on products that have survived radical technological changes. No matter what year it is, people always need to crunch numbers and make maps. In 2014, Esri took in $1.1 billion in revenue, and as of 2016, it had cornered more than half the market for GIS software, counting more than 350,000 clients, according to Forbes.”

“Open (Your Wallet) Wide: Dentists Charge Extra For Infection Control” [KHN]. “Swish Dental is just one of a growing number of dental practices nationwide that in the past month have begun charging patients an infection control fee between $10 and $20. Swish and others say they need the extra money to cover the cost of masks, face shields, gowns and air purifiers to help keep their offices free of the coronavirus. The price of equipment has risen dramatically because of unprecedented demand from health workers.” • If only there were some way to give medical practices more market power….

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Running out of supplies? As with PPE during the pandemic, so with materiel during a series of riots/protests/rebellions?

“White House Forced to Retract Claim Viral Videos Prove Antifa Is Plotting Violence” [The Intercept]. “The White House engaged in an extraordinary act of rumor-mongering on Wednesday, releasing a compilation of viral video clips posted on social media recently by people who believed, wrongly, that the piles of bricks they came across had been planted there by anti-fascist activists, known as Antifa, to inspire violence at protests. ‘Antifa and professional anarchists are invading our communities, staging bricks and weapons to instigate violence,’ the White House caption for the video claimed. ‘These are acts of domestic terror.’ Within minutes, journalists discovered that most of the clips included in the video posted online by the White House had already been investigated and debunked. A short time later, without explanation or apology, the White House deleted the video from its official Twitter and Facebook feeds — but only after it had been viewed more than a million times.” • Momentarily contexualizing:

Back to the link: Surely this rumor-mongering is not more “extraordinary” than Iraq WMDs — or RussiaGate, for that matter. Trump has a powerful reality distortion field that does not work only on his supporters.

Take that, essentialism:

News you can use:

C’est la lutte finale

Police State Watch

Do we know of a city were the Mayor is not afraid of the cops?

Although this from Minneapolis–

“Minneapolis council member: Conversations underway to disband police” [Denver 7]. “A member of the Minneapolis City Council revealed this week that he and several other council members are working on finding out what it would take to disband the Minneapolis Police Department. The announcement from Councilmember Steve Fletcher comes a week after George Floyd died while in police custody in Minneapolis…. ‘The department is ungovernable,’ Fletcher said. ‘Chief (Medaria) Arradondo is a leader that we’ve all had very high hopes in and that I imagined could play a role in envisioning the next version of public safety. But he has clearly not been able to make the culture change happen that we were hoping for and investing in.’ What it would take to disband the department is unclear. But what is clear is that the department is already seeing a reduced role in the protection of the city. On Wednesday, the Minneapolis Park Board voted to terminate its relationship with the department, and the Minneapolis Police will no longer be involved in guarding events on park property.” • Disband, as opposed to defund. Then again–

“Border Patrol Gloating on Twitter about Being Deployed to Clamp Down on Protesters” [Southern Border Communities Coalition]. “As communities across the country take to the streets to protest unjust policing practices, police brutality and the murder of George Floyd, Border Patrol agents are being deployed nationwide to clamp down on protesters. The Border Patrol has long had aspirations on becoming a national police force, and with these deployments, they are a step closer to making those aspirations a reality. It started last week when the Border Patrol flew a predator drone over protesters in Minneapolis, while days later a bystander captured these terrifying images of border agents marching down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., en route to White House…. CBP’s jurisdiction is within the 100-mile zone, a region around the perimeter of the country in which border agents assert the power to board public transportation or set up interior checkpoints and stop, interrogate and search children on their way to school, parents on their way to work, and families going to doctor’s appointments or the grocery store — all done without a warrant or reasonable suspicion. Many of the cities fall within that jurisdiction, including Washington DC, but some, like Minneapolis, MN and Atlanta, GA do not.” • Ugly. I don’t think we need or want a national police force.

Straight from The West Wing:

“Require warning before shooting” does seem to show the limits of the reformist imagination… And why the spurious precision of 72%? Why not 73? Or 75? Or 70?

Our Famously Free Press

Who would have thought:

If only there were some sort of funding available:

The owner of the Atlantic is good-thinker squillionaire Laurene Powell Jobs.

Class Warfare

“Opinion: Lower-income Americans threw the economy a lifeline during the pandemic” [MarketWatch]. “With data from millions of daily financial transactions, including debit and credit cards, as well as ACH payments and prepaid debit cards, we can glean some interesting insights into spending behavior, one of which is the comparison between low-income and middle-income-and-above Americans over the past two months. As more and more local and statewide lockdowns went into effect at the tail end of March, middle- and upper-income consumers went into a bunker mentality and reduced their spending by as much as 15% compared with the same period a year earlier….. Fortunately, spending by low-income consumers held steady during this period, taking only a moderate dip of 5% before rebounding. Why? Simply put, they don’t have a lot of discretionary income to begin with, so there isn’t much room to cut back on spending. If you need food, you need food. If you need your phone, you pay your phone bill. Put another way: Non-discretionary spending is non-negotiable. Hunkering down and cutting discretionary spending is the territory of middle-income-and-above consumers, not low-income consumers…. As the data clearly indicates, 19 of the 20 top merchants are ‘staples’ or ‘non-discretionary.'” • Yes, our “work or starve” social contract has unexpected advantages!

News of the Wired

The karmic wheel:

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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: “The garden along Los Alamitos Bay in Long Beach that includes bright cheery pansies and Iceland poppies.”

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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. dcblogger

    I went to the White House today, or as close as I could. They have it surrounded, all the way to I street and as far east as 15th. I walked down 16th street as far as I could until I got to the line of US Army soldiers. I never saw soldiers look so glum. People were shouting “this cannot be what you enlisted for” and the soldiers looked very sad. It broke my heart and I came away.

    there is no way to know, but if I were their commanding officer I would NOT depend on those soldiers to open fire on peaceful demonstrators.


    1. L

      But would you depend on them to overreact out of self defense if some boogaloo moron decides to toss a firecracker? Or if some true nutjob in their ranks snaps and goes off.

      Amadou Diallou was only holding his wallet but someone twitched and 41 shots later …

        1. L

          Well yeah but, more than likely noone gives the order to shoot, but everyone gets amped up, squares off, and then someone hears something, does something, or just plain snaps. Then a whole lot of soldiers who were not ordered to shoot (as opposed to being ordered not to shoot) start doing so as a matter of reaction.

          At that point a lot of people can die long before anyone gives an order to do anything.

          1. furies

            The nuclear buttons are kinda like they, aren’t they?

            the more moving parts, the more the complexity, the more screw-ups bound to happen

      1. curlydan

        What does being a “boogaloo” moron have to do with it? Can people just be morons?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the line of US Army soldiers

      They were really US Army soldiers, and not unbadged individuals from the Bureau of Prisons, or whatever?

      Personally, I think the demeanor of the troops is encouraging news, and thank you for this field report.

      1. shinola

        It is to be hoped that they were not actual active military personnel. With the militarization of the various police forces, it could be difficult to tell soldiers from cops without close scrutiny.

        Top military brass have already stated that it would be I bad idea to use soldiers against US citizens (at least on American soil). Gotta remember it’s all volunteer now. “Thank you for your service” could turn into “F*** you for your service”.

      2. dcblogger

        They had US Army over their shirt pockets, so yeah, regular army. The crowd was not baiting them, NOT shouting insults. Mostly Black Lives Matter, Say His Name George Floyd, Say Her Name, Breona Taylor, and so forth. the only stuff that was directed at them was chants of This Can’t Be Why You Enlisted, and chanted in an empathetic manner. In my opinion it was not a situation that would escalate. NONE of those soldiers looked anxious or panicy, just glum, very glum.

        1. rd

          Probably an Army National Guard unit. I don’t believe they have actually deployed regular Army onto the streets, but they have brought National Guard units in from multiple states.

        2. albrt

          Yeah, national guard wears U.S. Army uniform and patches. You can only tell the difference if you know the unit patches (or if the national guard unit is undisciplined, wears the uniform sloppily, is full of old enlisted guys, etc.).

        3. The Rev Kev

          Wait! Wait. I know who they are. They are American little green men!
          I hope that they are as polite as their Russian counterparts.

      3. AstoriaBlowin

        These are the same people who massacre civilians in almost every non-white country In the world. I guess we can rely on them not to do it here because the victims would be fellow Americans? Those are not insignificant ties of course but not something I would bet my life on.

        1. Yves Smith

          1. Because people of color are more heavily represented in the US armed services than the population as a whole

          2. Because people who join the US armed services on average come from less affluent backgrounds that the population as a whole

          3. Because the places members of the US armed services are sent to blow up people and things look very different than the US: the landscape, the buildings, the attire and language of the natives. So it is much easier to view them as “other”.

          1. anon in so cal

            >Because the places members of the US armed services are sent to blow up people and things look very different than the US: the landscape, the buildings, the attire and language of the natives. So it is much easier to view them as “other”.

            Which is perhaps one of the reasons there is so little domestic U.S. resistance to the U.S.’ endless regime change wars that have killed millions of innocent Muslims and people of color.



    3. flora

      It’s more encouraging than scary to me.

      The Nat. Guard or Army soldiers aren’t going to do a cop riot, they aren’t part of any city machine (possibly corrupt city machine). It doesn’t sound like they’re itching to do a beat down on peaceful protestors and people exercising free speech rights.

      If the cops in too many places are starting cop riots, replace the cops with Nat Guard. If the cops in too many places give beat downs to peaceful protest and then let looters and late night rioters run free, replace the cops with Nat. Guard. I’m less worried now about a Gen. Dyer moment than I was over the weekend. (probably not a popular view here.) My 2 cents.

      1. Michael Hudson

        That was just what my father and his Trotskyist colleagues did in Minneapolis during the great General Strike of the mid-1930s. The police were hired to break up the union strikes. Governor Floyd B. Olson called in the national guard to protect Minneapolis from the police thugs.
        The response of the Democratic party was to accuse the SWP leaders of the Smith Act and throw THEM in jail for “advocating force and violence,” defined as having the works of Lenin and Trotsky on their shelves (the books stored in my childhood bedroom which became my reading material).

      2. clarky90

        “For almost five decades, Santa Monica Music Center was an oasis of arts and education that gave all walks of life the opportunity to bond over melodies.

        But in the riots that reached Santa Monica on Sunday, almost everything inside was damaged or pilfered as the distraught owners looked on, and those who tried to defend the building had guns and other weapons pulled on them with no law enforcement to be found.

        “It was just a horror movie,” Lana Negrete, 40, who now co-owns the center with her father Chico and runs the business with her husband. “They took everything from us, and no one stopped them. It was so violating.”…..

        “We went in and started hiding what instruments we could, we moved a refrigerator to barricade the door, and we wrote ‘minority-owned’ across the front,” she said. “But soon, it started with groups of five. Then groups of 10 – most with backpacks on skateboards and machetes and hammers in their hands started coming toward the center.”

        A few minutes later, when Negrete dared look again, from every direction, there were hundreds of people barreling toward them in a scene she depicted as “pandemonium.” There were cars speeding up to the center…”


        1. periol

          On the bright side, they won’t have any trouble raising money to reopen in Santa Monica…

    4. hemeantwell

      Fortunately military units aren’t organized along racial lines. But, for that matter, even homogeneous Cossack units eventually became unreliable in 1917. Units that contain both racist squads and neutral or antiracist squads could become powder kegs, and not only when dealing with angry, challenging protesters.

      After the near-collapse of units during the Vietnam war, I haven’t seen references to the US military trying to maintain units whose loyalty could be counted on, especially regarding actions within the US itself. I’d imagine, though, that they must be carrying out at least some informal polling among COs atm.

    5. going nowhere slowly

      GIven how long this has gone on, I am beginning to think that I would prefer NG or Army soldiers to be on that line. The DC police have to be completely exhausted. And I do not want to be policed by DEA, BP, or especially the Bureau of Prisons. I want the guys on that line to be well rested, hydrated, and as comfortable as possible now that it has turned hot and muggy here. Of course, I want the same for the protesters.

      There’s very little margin for errors borne of exhaustion, heat, or other human frailties.

      1. dcblogger

        National Guard soldiers shot students at Kent State in 1970. anytime you have a group with guns facing demonstrators you have a dangerous situation. But the soldiers I saw yesterday looked like that wanted to be anywhere else.

        1. flora

          …the soldiers I saw yesterday looked like that wanted to be anywhere else.

          Yes. Kent State, 1970, was a very different time. Imagine asking WWI soldiers about their opinions of the Civil War as they shipped out for France. That’s about the same time scale – about 50 years. 1860 – 1915. A very different time.

    6. Peter from Georgia

      MacArthur and Patton’s soldiers killed peaceful Americans during their clearing of the “Bonus Army” from Washington, D.C. in 1932.

        1. Big Tap

          Because MacArthur disobeyed Hoover’s instructions. He did far more than he was supposed to do.

      1. ambrit

        MacArthur was the top dog, and not only Patton, but Eisenhower were his right hand men on that bit of skullduggery.
        Reports were that the Bonus Army veterans, seeing Patton’s cavalry lining up, cheered. Then Patton ordered his mounted men to charge into the crowd. So, contrary to “official” history, the last US Army cavalry charge wasn’t at Guerrero, Mexico in 1916, but in Washington D.C. in 1932.

  2. L

    Regarding the Atlantic article:

    And the challenge for the left is to accept that Biden is its greatest chance of achieving its long-held dreams.

    I really have to not read these while drinking coffee. I mean I can see arguments for him being a chance or even him being a pragmatic alternative but “the greatest chance”? Really? This feels a bit too much like what Paul Heideman noted in his article on Mitchell Abidor (“Stop Trying to Shame Socialists Into Voting for Joe Biden. It’s Not Going to Work.”) an attempt to performatively shame liberals into backing him rather than any actual proof that he is going to be liberal. Its real target is the “centrists” who want to feel better about backing him despite their stated goals of a more just society, and who need someone to blame if he loses to baby hitler.

    If Biden wanted to be the best chance he could say, come out for M4A, or kick Rahm Emanuel and Larry Summers to the curb, but that is action, finger wagging is free.

    1. Geo

      It worked so well the last time!

      – – –
      What’s Behind Obama’s “Hippie Punching”?

      President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden had some harsh words for the liberal base this week, telling them to “buck up” and “stop whining” about what the administration has yet to accomplish. It’s as if the administration has been trying to give liberal voters a guilt trip as a way to get them out to the polls.


      1. Gregorio

        It’s reassuring to know they’re not deaf to the voices of those millions of people in the street demanding incremental change.

    2. Big River Bandido

      These Acela-class writers really do suffer from a lack of self-awareness, don’t they?

      1. RMO

        I know, as a long-time leftist myself that my dreams have always been to see a lying, plagiarizing, poor-kicking, short-tempered, violent, racist, greedy, groping, misogynist, warmongering sociopath in the White House! /s

        And I must say that listening to this inspiring Obama fellow musing on the recent events in the U.S. that he certainly would have been able to get the country on the right course if he had been president for two terms.

      2. L

        As do the political class they serve. I just got an email from “Bold Democrats PAC” asking me to send a “Thank you Card to JAMES MATTIS!” (along with some money for them). Ordinarily they only ask me to thank Nancy for whatever stunt she pulled. But I guess with her being on vacay thanking a republican and lifelong supporter of the MIC for saying the obvious (long after he was in a position to actually do anything about it) is “bold”.

        1. Big River Bandido

          That’s our Democrats.

          Standing up…

          on their hind legs, someday.

    3. albrt

      “perhaps if the Democrats had spent three years rebranding as a party that stood for something, anything, instead of going down the RussiaGate rabbit hole, they’d be in better shape?”

      Perhaps if the Democrats had selected a nominee who is not obviously stupid, corrupt, racist, demented, and bad at politics, they’d be in better shape.

    4. GettingTheBannedBack

      Joe Biden would be the candidate most likely to get GOP voters to switch to him. His natural home is the GOP. Unity government.

  3. Geo

    “Yes, our “work or starve” social contract has unexpected advantages!”

    How the myth of trickle-down supply-side Econ hasn’t been laughed out of existence at this point is beyond comprehension. Anyone with an ounce of critical thinking skills can see that those with the fewest financial resources cycle money into the essential economy more than anyone else. If we were to bailout the poor it would lift all others. Instead we bailout the rich and they rise higher while the rest sink lower.

    Heard this years ago and still rings true: “A rising tide lifts all boats. If you don’t have a boat, how long can you tread water?”

    1. L

      Well it has been laughed out of existence in every face to face conversation I know. But in DC, among carefully groomed elected officials surrounded by economic soothsayers and pollsters who totally assure them Americans want what the donors want, the conversations are different.

      That, I have found is the biggest challenge which is presenting and honest voice from your district against the narrative babble they hear every day. They see you as one voter, and the others as familiar faces.

      1. Geo

        Well said.

        I tried to explain to my rightwing neighbor the other day that as soon as illegal immigrants and poor people have lobbyist armies buying up senators I’ll worry about them. But for now I’m more concerned with the multinationals we all subsidize while they pocket billions.

        I wish I was in more circles that had disavowed such ideas but still know far too many who seem to deify the rich and believe they too will one day join them if they just believe in their myths hard enough.

  4. Synoia

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

    Because its a Geographical map, to me, land area influences over seat count. I’d suggest a bar chart would eliminate my perceived bias towards the area of a state.

    1. Geo

      If elections were popular vote based that would make sense but electoral college is closer to landmass based then population. We’re still a nation of “land-owners” lording over the riff-raff. Just look at the political and police response to protect property vs. their interest in protecting lives. Or the rush to save the market vs. lives during this pandemic.

      A true popular vote wouldn’t magically fix everything (that would require a population properly informed) but would take some power away from the most powerful in our society.

        1. Big River Bandido

          What about one of those geographical maps where the shapes and borders have been distorted to show relative size by EV? I’ve seen some in the past where you could still recognize the individual states and regions. Mostly.

    2. polecat

      There’s quite an inland sea of red there ..

      Subduction of the bi-coastals is inexorably inching along .. and will hasten once the Great Rupture of 2020 has done it’s damage.

  5. Tom Stone

    Joe Biden is a new Man!
    Bringing hoped for change to America in a dignified manner, no more hair sniffing for Joe, no sirree.
    He’s not the same man who delivered the Eulogy at Strom Thurmaond’s funeral, not even a little bit.
    Heck, there are days when he can’t remember his wife Doris’s name let alone who Strom was.
    Her name isn’t Doris?
    That’s OK, it’s close enough for Government work.

  6. flora

    I can’t help but think back to Watergate, when there was a plethora of figures able to successfully take issue with Nixon’s pronouncements. I was younger then, but it seems evident to me that there is nobody with the stature of, say, Sam Ervin (or Eliott Richardson) today.

    That was then, when government was expected to have the competence to, you know, govern; when politicians and agencies were expected to be competent in the work of governing in the pubic interest. That was before the last 40-years effort to destroy govt competence done in the public interest. Now? Neoliberalism in full flower is here. Only markets are allowed to solve problems, in the interest of markets, not in the public interest. How’s that working out?

  7. Lambert Strether Post author

    OK, I finally browbeat my iOS mailer into sending mail again. I had around 70 items stacked up in the Outbox, so naturally Apple rate-limited me as I tried to resend them. The workaround was to reset the machine to get a new connection to the server ffs. (Much of this will appear in due course, so this Water Cooler will end up being less thin and useless.)

  8. Peerke

    Regarding the Covid19 altitude link story: this may be another indication of a Vitamin D or lack thereof link. I know it is only anecdotal. At high altitude UVB intensity is higher meaning less time is needed in sunlight to generate vitamin D in the skin compared to low altitude. Thoughts?

  9. Krystyn Podgajski

    RE: The coronavirus seems to be sparing populations at high altitudes

    I am wondering if that has to do with the genetics if those people living at high altitudes. Most of these gene changes effect Nitric Oxide production:

    Natural Selection on Genes Related to Cardiovascular Health in High-Altitude Adapted Andeans

    Blunted nitric oxide regulation in Tibetans under high-altitude hypoxia

    I have been looking at this becasue I am a lowlander with much different NOS2 genetics than these highlanders. And in COVID-19 aggravates already compromised NO production in cohort with NOS3 polymorphism. Management of eNOS/iNOS ratio and NO level can prevent development of severe ARDS. which ties in with lower ACE2.

    1. MLTPB

      Genetics or vitamin D, (asked Peerke above)?

      Perhaps we look at those living at such altitudes, by how long they or their ancestors have been there.

      The more recent residents are not likely to have gene changes…presumably.

    2. grayslady

      I doubt that it is genetics–merely acclimatization. I can remember several occasions when the Olympics were being held at high altitude and numerous athletes began training in those locations months before the actual events. However, I do think it has to do with utilization of oxygen by residents. A friend of mine, who used to travel South America for business back in the 1970s, told me that it was common for the airlines to provide trained individuals with oxygen at the bottom of the exit stairs upon deplaning in high altitude locations. Almost like receiving your own mini-ventilator.

  10. periol

    “What is it, phases of the moon?” –lambert

    Tomorrow is the full moon, and it is also the first of three eclipses inside the next 30 days.


    This first event is a Lunar Eclipse, and these lunar events often coincide with times of endings, purging, and/or culminations. They help us see what is no longer working in our lives or in society. Although what catalyzes a change can occur quite suddenly, it is believed that eclipses impact the six months that occur in between each eclipse season. Additionally, given we will have a Solar eclipse in 2 weeks (on June 20) and another Lunar Eclipse in 4 weeks (on July 4), it could be that whatever occurs now provides an emotional wake-up call that increase our awareness regarding an impending change that will become clearer over the coming weeks.

  11. Duck1

    “Biden Has Changed—For the Better”–Franklin Foer
    I see that the CV that Google puts up for this guy lists his elementary school: Georgetown Day School Lower. So precious.
    (Tuition ranges from $37,170 to $43,370.)

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      Wow, elementary school, and just to demonstrate his provenance and breeding…

      The lack of self-awareness among these people is beyond the beyonds.

    2. chuck roast

      Franklin Foer? Atlantic magazine?

      That’s like seeing a plastic bottle labeled “Flint Water.” Why is this even a subject for polite discussion? Is it because the PMC and inside-the-beltways take these two seriously? If that’s the case then it’s more appropriate to focus on the bloviators who actually take them seriously. So it makes it easy to ID the knuckleheads.

    3. RMO

      I suppose it’s possible Biden has changed “for the better” after all he couldn’t change for the worse unless he started eating babies… and we’ve already been told that even if he did start eating babies, voting for him would still be a moral imperative.

      1. Big River Bandido

        IIRC the woman who posted that was named Karen. No joke. I believe her tweet was embedded in a Water Cooler…last week perhaps?

    4. Chuck T

      I’m sure it’s a case of his working class parents scrimping and saving to send their pride and joy to a “nice” school. It’s not like he attended with his two younger brothers and for a while all three were there at the same time? Oh, wait that’s exactly what happened. PS I once flipped through Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Tree of Codes and thought it was grade A pretensous BS. This helps explain why.

  12. Dita

    Back in 2011 Kenneth Chamberlain was murdered (there really is no other word for it) by cops supporting EMT responders after Chamberlain’s LifeAlert went off accidentally. Chamberlain’s death stands out in my memory both for the malice shown by the cops and, later, that the district court gave them a pass. The 2nd circuit court of appeals reversed, clearing the way for arguments on unlawful entry and excessive force. I hope justice is finally done in this awful case:

    1. Janie

      Thanks for link. I missed this one. We need legal “claw backs” of police immunity.

      1. MLTPB

        Where is Big Tech in all this?

        If it gets worse, will we finally be more receptive to robot cops?

        What about those robot dogs? I think they were deployed in Singapore.

  13. occasional anonymous

    So, Left(ish?) journalism Twitter is in the middle of some drama today.

    It started when Lee Fang posted a man-on-the-street interview with a black BLM supporter who had some things to say about ‘black on black crime’. https://twitter.com/lhfang/status/1268390704645943297

    Akela Lacy then responded by implying that Fang was a racist, before later doubling down and lamenting that she was being ‘made to deal with’ him ‘continuing to push the racist narrative when she told him to stop’. https://twitter.com/akela_lacy/status/1268393571121496066

    Michael Tracey, with his typical lack of tact, then jumped in and told Lacey to shut up and stop being a baby. https://twitter.com/mtracey/status/1268521085164814338

    At which point everyone from Naomi Klein to Jeremy Scahill piled in on bashing Tracey.

    Tracey can often be a dick, but fundamentally he’s not wrong here. Fang’s ‘offense’ was publishing a black man’s opinion, at which point a black woman comes in and makes it first all about Fang ‘using free speech to couch anti-blackness’, and then all about herself. The black man’s opinion is completely ignored; nothing he said is refuted or even engaged with. The ‘crime’ was allowing him to speak in the first place.

    None of the woke-ites in this exchange come out looking good.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Sorry dcblogger, I can’t resist. So his nickname could be Dick Tracey then?

    1. Matt

      The refrain often thrown at Lee or someone like Zaid Jilani is “how can you criticize or amplify criticism of protesters/rioters scattered ‘bad behavior’ while not retweeting video after video showing police attacking/inciting peaceful protestors?”

      Much of left Twitter will tolerate nothing short of full throated endorsements of every aspect of the protests and will loudly shout down even sympathetic yet critical voices.

      1. JBird4049

        It is modern America. Not only do we have the memory of a Mayfly, but everything is either/or and never both. As in the police have been murdering people for years, are partially brutal on blacks, have been abusive on everyone during the protests and some of or all the protesters are actually rioting and looting especially “those people.”

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      I take this, as with the battle between the Bernie-ites, as a mostly positive sign. A serious left would have lots of running battles, ideally over politics and policy, but it is unrealistic to expect many of these not to devolve into personal attacks. As far as I can tell, these are both policy/politics battles in the guise of personal attacks: race vs class in the Fang case, radicalism vs reformism in the Sirota case.

  14. Max

    Here is a pretty good write up for the protests going on in San Jose. It was weird seeing our city in the news lately since it is usually pretty sleepy here. We definitely haven’t had anything close to the numbers or excitement of some other places, nevertheless it is pretty unusual for a San Jose protest to involve clashes with police.

    I was at last Friday’s protest that devolved into tear gas and broken windows, there weren’t a ton of people but they were mad. The cops were extremely disorganized, they didn’t seem to have any sort of plan or goal besides to get everyone to go home, it was obvious they were caught off guard. There’s been some video of one officer instigating a fight, he’s since been put on leave and some local activists are trying to get him fired.

    Protests since then have been pretty uneventful. We went last night and there was a good crowd, notably in two hours I did not see a single police officer or cop car (I’m assuming some were under cover). Lots of energy (way more than the women’s march with maybe 1/10th the people), pretty much every car that drove by honked and waved or threw up a fist. City buses also honked and waved, one bus driver even stopped to get out and thank people.

    We were supposed to be under a curfew for the next week but they lifted it a few days early because so many people complained to the city council. It was probably unenforceable, but the official reason was that it was just making things worse and sending the wrong message.

    1. Arizona Slim

      There’s a curfew here in AZ. I’ve been calling the 8pm start time the Naughty Hour. It’s my way of thumbing my nose at official overreach.

      According to one of my neighbors, who’s been working overnight stocking shifts in a grocery store, there are no cops out on the streets. In order to get to her store, she’s driving across town at 10:30 pm. And seeing plenty of other cars on the road.

      1. albrt

        The cops are all in downtown Phoenix, blocking every freeway entrance and exit near downtown. I rode my bike by 7th Avenue and I-10 last night shortly before 8:00. There were 4 or 5 cars at each ramp, plus about a 100 guys in riot gear forming up on a side street. As far as I can tell, nothing happened.

  15. jr

    The words “energizing” and “Biden” somehow don’t click together as cleanly in my mind as in that of the author of that CNN puff piece. A week plus ago he was telling black people that their racial identity depends on voting for him. Now, he has been reborn as an “avatar” of social justice after turtle-ing* up for weeks to avoid soiling himself literally and verbally on mic again. Now this desert father of the American political wasteland is going to lead us all to The Promised Land of racial harmony, side by side with the gentle, homey wisdom of that paragon of humanity, GW Bush, gently “corralling” sympathetic voices into this righteous crusade. They’ve got the corralling part right…

    * video gamer talk for hiding behind a mountain of defenses

  16. Big River Bandido

    The fault, dear Lambert, is not in our moon, but in our Venus and Mercury. Mostly Mercury, which will go retrograde June 19 – July 11, and which (I’ve noted) has already shown erratic signs of a strong influence (or rather, a lack thereof) this time around.

    Retrograde movement in astrology symbolizes rest, so when a planet appears to be moving backwards (from our earthly vantage point), the gods that rule that planet…go on vacation. Thus, during the time of “retrograde” movement by Mercury — which happens generally a few times each year — anything having to do with Mercury’s realm can potentially be disrupted, with players left to fend for themselves as best they can without Mercury’s influence.

    Mercury rules communications, so anything having to do with travel or technology is subject to disruption. Thus, transportation and information systems are prone to snafus, and any communications initiated during this time are likely to turn to dust. Don’t sign mortgages or any contract during this time, unless you’ve been negotiating it for a very long time, or unless there’s some sort of nostalgic component (Mercury in retro does actually favor leisure travel and nostalgia). Don’t make big relationship plans for someone you meet during this influence. The retrograde influences can actually start several days or even weeks before the official “retro” movement, as the planet appears to “slow down” in its travel around the sun. They can also persist for a few days after the end of the transit, as Mercury “wakes up”.

    Venus already went retrograde on May 13 and stays that way until June 25, so for about a week both influences will be messing with us. A warning to our PMC readers: Venus rules beauty, so do not schedule your elective cosmetic surgery during this time.

    1. hunkerdown

      Might Apple gear be unusually Venus-ruled for the category, I ask with only half tongue in cheek?

      I knew the “re-” keywords for retrogrades — revising, rebuilding, reevaluating, recuperating, reconstructing, all that other Sag-Pisces stuff — but never heard rest. That is a brilliant metaphor. Thank you.

  17. Stephen V.


    An interesting road map for police reform here. Never too late?

    1. Big River Bandido

      In the last five minutes, I just forwarded that tweet from Marina Sirtis to about a dozen people. I had no idea the actress was as much of a badass as her character.

      Face of the Enemy is one of my favorite STTNG episodes. You don’t often get to hear Troi make a credible threat to have someone ejected into space.

      1. MK

        The one where she had to take command of the bridge/ ship and Picard was stuck with school kids in the broken turbolift.

        Ensign Ro was so demeaning to Troi the whole time, she would’ve been righteous to eject Ro into space.

        1. Big River Bandido

          Troi was quite magnanimous in accepting Ro’s apology. “You could have just as easily been right.”

          1. RMO

            It took me a while to recognize the name of the person she was talking about. I had almost forgotten about “Hamilton” and the dingbat who created it. The tweet he made was right down there on the “Vogon poetry” level of awfulness.

  18. MLTPB

    Thank you Lambert for the chart on the South above.

    On first glance, it appears that the bigger the initial shock, the lower the curve is today.

  19. fresno dan

    A new study from researchers at Harvard University says that hooking up carries some risk for transmitting COVID-19 from one partner to the other and recommends — among other practices — wearing a face mask while doin’ it.
    Nothing new for me – all my past partners have required that I wear a double bag (because of the extra ugliness) over my head…

    1. RMO

      Makes me think of the part in “The Kids Are Alright” where Keith Moon appears in a gimp mask…. “ba…ba ba…” “Barbara Anne?”

  20. Lambert Strether Post author

    Finally I finished the UPDATEs (thank you, Apple), which I didn’t label because there were too many of them.

    Please refresh your browsers.

    Especially frustrating because there’s a lot of important material today.

    Belatedly enjoy!

  21. Big River Bandido

    Wow, so one of the officers that helped Chavin murder George Floyd is black? And one appears to have a Hispanic surname, and another appears to be Asian.

    So I guess it’s all good then, since the officers weren’t white. We can all go home now?

    1. Dita

      Yep. Since news such as this shows up pretty reliably, we must be reaching the end of this phase of the news cycle, thus we’re presented with a parade of “discoveries” that “p.o.c.” accessories, relatives, spouses, friends. It’s supposed to be the great, mitigating, A-Ha! moment that shows murder-by-cop isn’t racially motivated. It’s just regular killing!

      1. lambert strether

        Obviously — or I should have thought it was obvious — one can have a system that empowers racism, and even crimes by racially motivated people, that is nonetheless composed of a diverse population.

        You saw the word “essentialism” in my intro to the Tweet? Good. Well done.

      1. Big River Bandido

        It’s a point of national pride that our Torturer-in-Chief is a woman.

      1. YetAnotherChris

        Kueng and Lang (the rookies first on the scene) deserve some empathy. The real trouble began when Chauvin and Thao showed up. Are the rookies compelled by the law to defy the chain of command and pull their superiors off of and away from the suspect? Is that our line of defense against police murder? What would you have done in their situation?

        Kueng and Lang might walk, and they may well deserve to. I’ll take any brickbats you might have.

  22. anon33

    “Yes, our “work or starve” social contract has unexpected advantages!” lambert

    More accurately, that social contract has been “Accept employment as a wage-slave or starve.”

    And as automation replaces more and more jobs, more and more it’ll shrink down to “Be rich or starve.”

    1. Chris

      Rule 1 – Because markets.

      Rule 2 – You’re poor, go die!

      The brutally terse summary provided by Yves and otherwise on this site is a remarkably efficient razor to cut through all the BS coverage we receive on this topics. But it’s also depressing :/

  23. zagonostra

    >Chris Hedges dropping out of District 12 race

    …he was informed Thursday that according to FCC rules, he can’t run for federal office and have a national TV show

    Yet a billionaire like Bloomberg has no problem buying a national TV show like CNN and MSNBC, go figure.

    1. edmondo

      “A day after he enters District 12 race, Chris Hedges drops out”

      Gee, I wonder why nobody takes the left seriously? I have never, ever seen a successful administration come out of a chaotic political campaign. The campaign is a tryout for the Big Leagues, actually governing.

      Additionally, Bonnie Watson Coleman is one of the leftiest congresspeople in the country. If Hedges really wanted to do more than virtue signal, why didn’t he run against one of the machine Congressmen? There are about six he could have picked from just in the NJ delegation. Hedges might want to be Bernie’s VP for all the effect those two have.

  24. Pelham

    Re the Sanders campaigners sniping at one another and avoiding the question of why Sanders’ strategy didn’t work: It may not have worked this time (I hold with the notion that the campaign was knifed by Obama and Clintonite types) but maybe it sorta did work in 2016, even though it most certainly was knifed then.

    So perhaps this is a useful departure point for discussion. Or maybe it should focus on figuring out a way to account for and strike back after the inevitable Dem knifing.

    In any event, it’s too late. Four more years of Trump or four years of Biden will leave us virtually no time to halt or reverse climate change (Biden’s incremental promises on this are literally worse than nothing). Maybe if we really, really wanted to save the planet and humanity, we’d all be mounting an all-out stupendous campaign for the Green Party.

  25. grayslady

    “Sanders theory of change did not work. Why?”

    It wasn’t Bernie’s theory of change–it was Bernie himself. Bernie sold out to the Democrats between 2016 and 2019. In 2015, Bernie was viewed as a rebel, an independent running as a Democrat. By 2019, it was clear to many Bernie supporters that he sounded just like any other Democrat. He was no longer against the system, he was just against Trump. He gave credence to idpol and Russiagate, and when he kept complimenting the obviously senile Biden (ostensibly because Joe had once been nice to him, even though he was an Independent, rather than a Democrat), the “not me” in his slogan, “not me, us”, took on an entirely new meaning. Sadly, it became evident in the 2020 race that Bernie didn’t have the stuff that true leaders are made of. He was just an iconoclast who apparently only wanted to be a respected insider, and now he’s been left in the dust by people like Nina Turner and RoseAnn de Moro–true leaders and fighters who haven’t given up on real change and don’t seem to have any intention of supporting Joe Biden.

    1. barefoot charley

      I guess. What dispirited me this time around was, as you say, his mouthing of corpoDem shibboleths with apparent sincerity, calling out the week’s special identities at every stop (in white and rural states that still squelch ‘my LGBT and transgender friends’), backing Russiagate and even bonkers war-talk on whoever Democrats say are under our beds today. He sounded more like a Democrat than he did, I suppose in order to chisel voters from every base. But his theme that excited populist hope, “Not me, Us,” couldn’t stand out in that smorgasbord of individualities he pandered to. He was programmed to sound like every other party pander, which was not the choice we’re looking for. But to be fair, he wouldn’t have won the nomination no matter what, so what’s the harm.

    2. Acacia

      Yep. In a nutshell, how could it have been about “change” when it was wedded to an organization that is hell-bent against any real change? And then people were actually surprised when members of Bernie’s organization jumped ship for Biden.

  26. mrsyk

    Sanders theory of change did not work. Why?
    Maybe voter suppression and fraudulent vote tallies via black box voting?
    Maybe it was actually working.

    1. dcblogger

      far worse tactic were used by Marcos against Acquino in 1986, Marcos lost anyway. It was up to the Sanders campaign to get past all that. I think that the Sanders campaign is now going in all directions, some, like Sirota, are going into journalism. Some are doing labor or community organizing, some are doing down ballot campaign work.

      One problem that Sanders faced is that Democrats LUV Obama, and the Sanders campaign was always viewed as an implicit criticism of Obama. But the people who come after Sanders will not have that baggage. So many people who hate Sanders also LUV AOC.

      1. Big River Bandido

        There were 14.2 million votes cast in the Philippines in 1986 — a national, watershed election conducting under blinding world scrutiny. The South Carolina Democrat primary is a backwater in which a tiny political machine can easily manipulate and control the paltry 540,000 that were placed. The comparison is ludicrous on its face.

  27. Chris

    Here’s a useful discussion on Covid-19 and antibodies.

    I haven’t seen the polls that the one gentleman referred to where 1 in 5 Americans are saying they wont take a vaccine if offered one. That’s a scary number!

    1. periol

      I wouldn’t take a vaccine until I felt that it had been properly tested and vetted and was actually effective. I’m just guessing that my standards for this are going to be higher than the standards of the pharmacorps trying to engineer this vaccine.

      No nuance in these polls. If they included me in their polls, I’m guessing my answer wouldn’t be one of the options available.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You have grounds to be mistrustful. There is a deadly disease called Hendra virus in Oz which is fortunately rare and which is spread by bats. So Zoetis comes out with a vaccine and the government goes very heavy handed to force horse owners to give it to their horses. It is expensive and requires annual shots. The problem was that this vaccine was killing horses too and leaving many with damage to their neurological systems and thus wrecking them but hey, Zoetis had financial targets to meet, right?


        1. albrt

          If the vaccine is approved by the Trump standard or the Biden standard, I definitely won’t be getting it. Maybe if it comes from the EU or a first world country like Korea.

          1. periol

            At this point if WHO says the vaccine is good to go, I would know I need to avoid it like the plague.

            I’m with you on South Korea though. If it came from there, I might actually trust it. Cuba too, now that I think about it.

        2. periol

          My standard.

          I have no intention of catching COVID-19 if I can help it, and I have no intention of catching nasty side-effects or worse from a vaccine that hasn’t been thoroughly tested. Personally, I’m a real stickler for wondering what the long-term consequences for our short-term decisions might be.

          I research this stuff quite thoroughly, like many of the people here. Just go over to the comments on today’s links about the HCQ study to see why I’ll be waiting for some proof before I let myself get injected. I told my parents in March that if they did happen to test positive, they absolutely had to insist the doctor prescribe HCQ and along with zinc right away. I haven’t changed my mind on that one yet, despite some fantastic media mongering along the way.

          The way it seems to work in America, all I will need to do is wait about 6 months and watch what happens to other people who don’t share my qualms. Although, honestly, I would probably wait longer.

  28. LarryB

    Lambert, you don’t need the “plus 1 to win not tie”. You’re starting with 270, and there are 538 electoral votes, so 270 forms a majority without the need for the +1. Doesn’t make a lot of difference, but thought I’d point it out.

  29. Dr. John Carpenter

    Trump (R)(1): “Trump’s Words Are Not Meaningless Ramblings” In addition to having no one with the stature, those we are left with have created a chicken little situation with Trump. Krystal touched on this today on Raising, but after almost four years of treating every stupid Tweet or off color thing out of Trump’s mouth like it was literally Mein Kampf, there’s no words left to use now that he really is saying and doing the things that would warrant such alarm. When the outrage meter has been pegged at full, where can you go from there?

  30. Duck1

    What should you do with out of date tear gas?
    Tear gas has a readable expiration date on the base, and it is important to rotate your stock and fire fresh canisters when civil disturbances break out. Since disposing of expired tear gas is expensive, since it must be treated as explosive and hazardous waste, departments often stockpile old rounds. Teargas does not actually deteriorate, but out of date teargas may not have optimal discharge characteristics, so it’s effectiveness may be reduced. But not to worry, if you have run out of fresh canisters, out of date canisters can also effectively suppress civil disturbance and restore order. Just plan on firing off a few more rounds to get effective coverage accounting for dud rounds. Your teargas industry thanks you for using our product to effectuate a peaceful and harmonious society.
    The Teargas Advisory Council USA

  31. ambrit

    “Phases of the Grift” or, for the more orthodox among us, “The Stations of the Cash.”

  32. The Rev Kev

    “State of emergency in Norilsk after 20,000 tons of diesel leaks into Arctic river system”

    I saw this on the news last night. The owners tried to hide this spill for two days from the authorities as they thought that they could fix it. And now it has become a police matter and I bet that Putin is keeping watch on what happens next.

    1. jo6pac

      If what you say is true then Russia (Putin) puts people in jail unlike Amerika were you pay fine to go do it another day.

      1. periol

        I actually think it’s the exact same as America.

        If you make [Trump/Putin] look bad, they will scream at you in front of the entire country. And then fire you.

  33. ACF

    Re lying police
    New York police have been famous for lying under oath; it’s got it’s own word, “testilying”. The first report of the Mollen Commission, in 1996, had a lot of detail. It’s hard to find online.

      1. ACF

        Thank you very much Dan. It is awful to read on so many levels; one, it’s merely another in line of these reports, the Knapp Commission being the one before, and in that way it stands for the Same Sh-t, Different Day principle of policing problems. Two, the frame is corruption, which sounds like bribe taking, but it is a tale of documented institutionalized criminality, brutality, and perjury that should have shocked consciousnesses into action that would have prevented the current criminality, brutality and perjury committed by the NYPD. Three, the role of the war on drugs. Four, just the fact of the reality of the contents.

  34. VietnamVet

    Identity politics in North America goes back to 1492. Still corporate media studiously keeps pushing it to keep the riff-raff splintered. Media moguls avoid pointing out the protests are integrated and women are in the lead. No one mentions that the share of American families living in middle class neighborhoods fell from nearly two-thirds (65 percent) in 1970 to 40 percent in 2012. 40 million more are now out of work due to the Greatest Depression. The US federal government is not fighting the Pandemic that triggered this all, in order, to wait for a profitable vaccine killing hundreds of thousands of Americans in the meantime. The protests in the streets are due to the loss of the American Dream and no hope for future families.

    The encampment of the border patrol and bureau of prisons personnel in DC is to assure there is no coup. It is the first step in making Trumpian authoritarianism permanent. Much like industrialists and plantation owners in the first American Civil War, the amoral vampire capitalists, globalists and nationalists, are fighting within themselves for control of the spoils. This perfect storm is stirring the pot so vigorously the people are going to be dragged into an all-out war. If France in 1789 or Russia in 1917 are a guide, this will not turn out well for the aristocracy or anyone else.

  35. Phillip Allen

    “What is it, phases of the moon?”

    No, my good and honored Sir. Everyone knows Murphy’s Law, but fewer know the far more powerfully explanatory First Corollary to same Law: The Perversity Of The Universe Tends To A Maximum.

  36. rd

    Re: using out-of-date tear gas

    The obvious solution will be for the Trump Administration to purchase more tear gas from China. However, China may be unwilling to have it leave their country because they may need it to use in Hong Kong. This would be completely unacceptable to the US because it would infringe on Hong Kong citizens’ rights as well as depriving the US of tear gas to use on Americans.

    BTW – at least the police are consistent in that they will pepper spray pretty much any African-American, including Congresswomen and local elected officials. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/30/joyce-beatty-pepper-sprayed-racism-protests-290931

  37. rd

    The White House was heavily fortified after 9/11, but that is still insufficient to hold out the average American citizen, so another layer of fencing and concrete barricades is needed to prevent the adoring American public from visiting President Trump. https://www.newsweek.com/white-house-fence-protests-washington-1508703

    i am still baffled how presidents like Richard Nixon were able to survive in the White House with the level of security they had compared to the brave man in the White House now.

    It is a burden being the most-loved President in history with the biggest crowds ever.

  38. RMO

    I was wondering – are there any studies out there which compare the odds of getting killed by the police to the income or wealth of the people killed? The breakdown by race is pretty well documented but I don’t recall seeing anything on the effects a person’s economic position might have on this.

  39. JBird4049

    It was, in fact, a clash between storylines — the fundamentally different visions the North and South had for the country — that precipitated the Civil War.”

    Different visions supposedly being like the vision of the Jewish and Slavic people in Eastern Europe being exterminated for the creation of more lebensraum or the competing vision against it?

    Strangely, I was under the delusion that the Southern Slavocracy (that was one of its labels back then) wanted to be a slave nation with brothels of child slaves (lighter skin children were popular) in New Orleans, factories of slaves just started being experimented, slaves in all the skilled trades, and as farm labor, to be hopefully expanded in the whole southern half of the United States, down into the newly conquered territories of Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, possibly into South America; the rest of the United States was against it all of that with the more ruthlessly practical worried about their jobs as well as the endemic corruption including judicial bribery and the kidnapping rings with the more moral just against the owning of human beings like a chair or a horse.

    I guess having up to a million dead, millions more wounded, and whole states laid waste could be ascribed to competing “visions” for two different nations, one slave and one free. It is just kinda a bloodless, even misleading, way to describe it. It also reminds me of the Dunning School’s dishonest creation of the propaganda known as the Lost Cause although they probably would not see it as dishonest.

    Anything that discredits the current class struggle.

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