2:00PM Water Cooler 7/1/2020

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. Our problem states, with New York for comparison:

TX: “COVID-19 messes with Texas: What went wrong, and what other states can learn as younger people get sick” [The Conversation]. “The July 4 holiday weekend usually means cookouts and big gatherings in Texas, but right now, the state is facing a public health catastrophe…. It did not begin like this. Texas had lower COVID-19 rates and case counts than many other large states through most of the spring. When the pandemic arrived in Texas in early March, state officials provided clear messages that the virus was a dangerous threat and that public health safety precautions would be necessary. They ordered travel restrictions between Texas and Louisiana, where New Orleans had an outbreak, and instituted a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for anyone from high-risk areas flying into the state. Local leaders issued stay-at-home orders, and the governor followed with a similar statewide order in April and closed nonessential businesses. As the shutdown continued, however, COVID-19 cases didn’t overwhelm the health care system as feared. The governor allowed the stay-at-home order to lapse on April 30 and began reopening the economy. The weekend the order ended, Texas’ beaches were crowded with people, many no longer worrying about social distancing or wearing masks. Restaurants and bars began reopening, bringing more people together. Now, the risk has shifted again, and in a very short time frame.” • “Re-opening” increasingly seems like the wrong word (though one understands that states and localities, not being currency issuers, must be in an increasingly desperate situation as economic life, and with it, tax revenue, withers.

TX: “Texas bar owner organizes ‘Bar Lives Matter’ concert in protest of governor’s orders” [The Hill]. “”You can’t tell me that my tiny little bar is the problem. He’s the problem,” [Tee Allen Parker, owner of The Machine Shed Bar & Grill in Kilgore, about two hours southeast of Dallas], who is one of multiple Texas bar owners who have banned the wearing of masks in their establishments, said of Abbott in an interview with The Washington Post. ‘He’s targeting us, and it’s discrimination.’ Jared Woodfill, a Houston attorney representing Parker and 21 other plaintiffs, said Abbott’s order illegally bypasses the legislative process and unfairly singles out bars while allowing businesses like barber shops and hair salons to continue operating. ‘This one individual is picking and choosing winners and losers,’ Woodfill told the Post. ‘Gov. Abbott has chosen to sentence bar owners to bankruptcy.'”


“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 30: Still no change. So, regardless of polling, 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): “Ex-George W. Bush officials launch new group supporting Joe Biden” [CNN]. “‘A lot of us who worked in government, who have held positions of public integrity, we know what normal is,’ [Kristopher Purcell, who worked in the Office of Communications in the White House and in the State Department during the Bush administration] told CNN. ‘We’re seeing now what abnormal is and we’re seeing the damage it can do to the country. We’re seeing the way it can divide the country.'” • There are said to be 200 endorsers, but 43 Alumni for Biden does not list (yet) list them, so I haven’t had time to sort for the war criminals.

Biden (D)(2): Barbara Lee is a [x] black [x] woman. So why isn’t she in Biden’s Veepstakes? Maybe because she got it right on Iraq? Or:

UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “Why Does Trump Put Russia First?” [Susan Rice, New York Times]. • Rice auditions.

UPDATE Biden (D)(4): “Why nervous Democrats mistrust positive polling data” [Financial Times]. “”Trump is the least popular president in the history of polling, but voters are so polarised that a swing of even five points would make him a contender again,’ says Sam Wang, director of the Princeton Election Consortium and a professor of neuroscience at Princeton University. ‘We’ve been here before, in 2016 — I think we’re all sceptical,’ says Lavora Barnes, Michigan’s Democratic party chair. ‘It’s helpful to recognise that these polls are a snapshot in a moment of time.’ Nobody, she said, is taking anything for granted.” • Why would anybody trust polling data? The pollsters are players, just like (most of) the press, certainly the Times, WaPo, and (to be fair) FOX, and cable TV of all shades.

Sanders (D)(1): Alert reader Sam comments:

Maybe an even bigger factor is the environment of media misinformation and narrative control that surrounds us every day. WMD in Iraq, Russiagate, now this Russian bounty story – it’s not at all surprising that people don’t know what to believe and therefore choose to be believe no one and nothing unless confirmed by their own experience. It’s not just COVID. I often ran into similar skepticism when canvassing for Sanders before the primary.

My analysis of the pathways to misfortune for the Sanders campaign is still hung up, because there’s been no reporting involving actual voters on why the campaign’s theory of change misfired. Reading Sam’s comments, it occurred to me that canvassers might have a good sense of what the voters they contacted were thinking (supporters or no), as well as voters they did not contact, who they might have expected to. If I could interview, say, half a dozen canvassers, I might get some sense of what happened (and not what the media thinks happened). Anyone interested in helping me out can contact me using the address about the plant; please put “SANDERS” in the subject line. (I’m not interested in the failings of the Sanders campaign, but the mindset of voters.) Thank you!

Sanders (D)(2): C’mon, Bernie. Don’t negotiate with yourself. That’s for liberals:

UPDATE Trump (R)(1): “The 3 Weeks That Changed Everything” [James Fallows, The Atlantic]. The central trope (Fallows is a pilot, and owns his own small plane): “Imagine if the National Transportation Safety Board investigated America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.” • I recommend reading this article in full, because it’s the most coherent takedown I’ve seen of the Administration’s response to the pandemic (and the cool tone really helps). At the line-editing level, stuff like Fallows not mentioning one of his sources, Ron Klain, works for the Biden campaign is a little annoying; and then there’s stuff like “the well-traveled Dick Cheney.” Dick “Fourth Branch” Cheney, torture advocate, “well traveled”? Really? At a higher level, I’m just not sure that Fallows’ central trope is that useful: The COVID-19 debacle seems more like an MCAS-style event to me, less like the “controlled flight into terrain” that Fallows seems to think it is. For example, Fallows makes much of the fact that the Trump Administration didn’t make use of the Obama (or Bush) administration’s pandemic plans. But that’s a very West Wing-style assumption. Fallows assumes that the United States has the operational capability to execute those plans, but doesn’t show it. For example, the hollowing out of the CDC began long before Trump. It’s unclear that in February or March we had the manufacturing capacity for masks, swabs (and, for vaccines, vials), and PPE generally, especially in the face of a global collapse of the supply chain, any more than Boeing (to return to MCAS) had the operational capability to build airplanes that didn’t fall out of the sky, or (with the KC-135) don’t have trash in their wings. Just as it took many more agencies than the NTSB to investigate the Boeing 737 crashes, it would take much more than Obama alumni pointing to plans in the drawer to investigate this debacle. Further, our profit-driven health care system not only lacks the capacity to test and trace (as South Korea, Thailand, and Taiwan did), it discourages testing (costs) and even treatment (people can’t afford not to go to work). Finally, we lack the political will to impose universal masking (Hong Kong). In short, it’s certainly possible that a better pilot than Trump would have been able to issue better-crafted messages from the cockpit to reassure the passengers, but that doesn’t mean that the aircraft wasn’t on the way down. After all, if you want a reading on what a nationally powerful mainstream liberal Democrat from New York would have done in Trump’s place, you can look at Cuomo. Or, in California, Newsome. (To be fair, Democrat Inslee did better; so did Democrat Breshear. It would be useful to do some comparative analysis to find out why.) In summary, “three weeks”? No.

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“How Jamaal Bowman Beat Rep. Eliot Engel In The Bronx” [HuffPo]. “Ahead of the 2020 election cycle, Justice Democrats collaborated with the polling firm and think tank Data for Progress to help craft a system for ranking Democratic House seats based on their ripeness for a primary challenge. Incumbent Democrats were given a numerical score reflecting the relative conservatism of their voting record and views, their seniority among House Democrats, their membership in centrist caucuses, the youthfulness and racial diversity of their district, the number of competitive elections they had survived and the typical turnout in their elections. For example, the two groups gave higher scores to white people representing majority-minority districts but also for seats with lower turnout, which tends to mean it would take less money to amass a winning number of votes….. a network of left-wing campaign vendors has cropped up to serve the nascent sector of progressive candidates. That boomlet ironically accelerated when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the House Democrats’ campaign arm, announced in March 2019 that it was blacklisting any consultants who worked for candidates challenging incumbent House Democrats. The move forced many already progressive consultancies to pick sides, prompting them to specialize in progressive campaigns. It was a new space with fewer of the old players and, for the firms willing to risk banishment from the establishment, more room to experiment. And progressive candidates looking for consultants willing to work for them needed only to look on DCCCBlacklist.com, a website Justice Democrats erected just for the purpose. ‘The DCCC inadvertently created an ecosystem that ended up fostering a lot of innovation,’ [Data for Progress’s Sean] McElwee said.” • The Bowman campaign is also said to have recreated “the Obama coalition.”

UPDATE Booker’s concession email:

Note: “We’ve explored legal remedies to those [voting] problems, and they don’t exist under current law.”

UPDATE “New York, Kentucky Voters Face Hurdles From Long Lines to Ballot Mix-Ups” [Newsweek]. “n Louisville, some voters claimed to have missed the 6 p.m. deadline to cast their ballots due to long waiting times to park their cars outside the Kentucky Exposition Center, the only polling station open in Louisville and Jefferson County due to coronavirus safety measures. Video posted to social media showed voters banging on the doors of the center after they were shut once the deadline passed. An effort from multiple campaign teams to secure injunctions to keep the polling site open until 9 p.m. was not successful. However, a local judge was able to extend the deadline to 6:30 p.m., allowing some voters to cast their ballots, according to the Louisville Courier Journal. Sharing a video appearing to show voters eventually being allowed into the center, Alabama Political Reporter journalist Josh Moon branded the incident “voter suppression,” writing: “If you’re not outraged by the blatant voter suppression (the massive reduction in polling locations + locking the doors on people in line) that took place in Kentucky, you don’t deserve to live in America.”

UPDATE “McGrath wins Kentucky Dem primary; McConnell showdown awaits” [Associated Press]. “It was a narrow victory for McGrath. She outlasted Booker by 15,149 votes out of more than 544,000 votes cast…. In Lexington, the state’s second-largest city, about 6,000 absentee ballots were thrown out on technicalities ranging from unsigned envelopes to detached security flaps, said Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins.” • Oh.

“A QAnon Supporter Just Beat A Republican Congressman in Colorado” [HuffPo]. • Maybe QANON and the RussiaGaters can exchange tips on yarn diagrams.


“Freedom Rider: Russia, Afghanistan, and the Big Lie” [Black Agenda Report]. “There is no end to the Russiagate fraud. All major charges have been disproved. No one was convicted of the dreaded “collusion” that was reported endlessly for the last four years. Damning information is now declassified and casts doubt on the veracity of the whole story. CrowdStrike, the Democratic National Committee cyber security firm, admitted under oath they had no proof of hacking by Russia or anyone else. Robert Mueller ended his two-year long, multi-million dollar investigation with nothing except convictions for process crimes. Why then did the New York Times print a story with an unnamed intelligence agency source claiming that the Russian government paid the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan? The charge is ludicrous on its face but the story is quite useful to people who want to hide their own criminality while simultaneously keeping Trump hamstrung in an election year…. It is also important to mention that the Trump administration has been in peace talks with the Taliban. A troop drawdown would certainly help his electoral prospects. All the more reason to generate confusion.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE Quasi-Nobel prizewinner calls for death of opponents:

Has been since 2016; see Stoller, “On Mocking Dying Working Class White People.”

“About Face” (comic) [Popula]. • Vehicular design, men’s clothing, the Death’s Head, and militarization.

UPDATE “In lockdown with a conspiracy theorist” [Economist]. “Mary was used to disagreeing with her mother: she was the only Democrat in a staunchly Republican household. But in the past, they’d been able to talk easily; Mary describes her mother back then as like a best friend. But the tenderness between them had been replaced by shouting and harassment ever since 2018, when her mother started following the QAnon movement, a conspiracy theory propagated by many pro-Trump nationalists….. The central tenet of Q’s story concerns a cohort of satanic paedophiles, including Clinton, Barack Obama and many actors in Hollywood, who are manipulating the media and government to engage in a secret war against the American president. According to Q, Trump is fighting back with a military operation, known as ‘The Storm’, which aims to send the members of this group to Guantánamo Bay, an American military prison in Cuba which was established during America’s war on terror and has been widely criticised for its human-rights abuses. These arrests would launch a fundamental transformation of society known as the ‘Great Awakening.'” • Good to know. I think I’m gonna outsource this to the excellent podcast TrueAnon (who also cover Jeffrey Epstein…). Others have discussed the pain of losing a parent to CT….

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: “June 2020 Job Cuts Over 1,200,000 – Highest On Record” [Econintersect]. “Job cuts announced by U.S.-based employers hit 1,238,364 in the second quarter, the highest quarterly total on record. June job cuts totaled 170,219, down 57% from May’s total of 397,016, and up 306% from the 41,977 cuts recorded in the same month last year. Prior to when cuts began to increase this year in March, it is the highest monthly total since February 2009, when 186,350 job cuts were announced.”

Employment Situation: “June 2020 ADP Employment Gains 2,369,000” [Econintersect]. “ADP reported non-farm private jobs growth at 2,369,000 which was below expectations. A quote from the ADP authors: “70 percent of the jobs added this month were in the leisure and hospitality, trade and construction industries.” Last month’s employment gain significantly revised upward. It will be interesting to see what the BLS says is the jobs growth. ADP employment has not been a good predictor of BLS non-farm private job growth.”

Employment Situation: “The BLS error that’s made unemployment look lower than it really is for 3 months straight” [Journalists Resource]. “On May 8, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the U.S. unemployment rate for April stood at 14.7%. On June 5, the BLS reported an unexpected improvement in the unemployment rate for May, to 13.3%. While unemployment remains historically high, some economists had predicted a spike to 20%. News outlets questioned how economists could have missed the mark so badly. Surely some prognostications were way off, but those widely reported official unemployment numbers didn’t reflect reality. Tucked away in the May jobs report: detail of a misclassification error making the official unemployment rate lower than it should have been. In the midst of an unprecedented economic shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, survey takers had misclassified some workers as “employed but absent from work,” rather than “unemployed on temporary layoff,” according to the BLS. The actual unemployment rate for April might have been north of 19% — up to 19.5%. The rate for May likely breached 16%. The misclassification happened during the March survey too. Unemployment that month was roughly 5.3%, not 4.4% as the BLS first reported. Those higher rates represent an “upper bound” — a worst-case scenario in which everyone misclassified really was on temporary layoff and unemployed — BLS Commissioner William Beach explains in a June 29 blog post. Last month, the BLS said that along with the Census Bureau they were ‘investigating why this misclassification error continues to occur and are making changes for the June collection.'”

Manufacturing: “June 2020 ISM and Markit Manufacturing Surveys Improve” [Econintersect]. “The ISM Manufacturing survey improved and now is in expansion. The Markit PMI manufacturing index also improved but remains slightly in contraction. Based on these surveys and the district Federal Reserve Surveys, one would expect the Fed’s Industrial Production index growth rate to be around the same as last month. Overall, surveys do not have a high correlation to the movement of industrial production (manufacturing) since the Great Recession. No question these surveys suggest the economy is no longer in recession.” • Not with what we’re seeing out of CA, AZ, TX, and FL.

Construction: “May 2020 Construction Spending Declined” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say construction spending declined month-over-month. Our analysis shows the rolling averages declined. Construction spending is trending downward but remarkedly strong considering the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Private construction had been fueling construction growth – but currently, public construction is fueling the growth. Consider this a slightly worse report relative to last month even with the decline reported by Census. Construction employment has contracted significantly.”

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Finance: “Quarterly Hedge Fund Liquidations Rise to Highest Since 2015” [Bloomberg]. “About 304 funds shuttered in the first three months of the year, the most since the fourth quarter of 2015, according to a Hedge Fund Research Inc. report released Tuesday. That represents an increase of more than 50% from the 198 liquidations in the last quarter of 2019. Meanwhile, about 84 hedge funds opened in the three-month period, the lowest quarterly estimate since the financial crisis, when startups totaled 56 in the fourth quarter of 2008. Closures have exceeded launches for seven consecutive quarters, according to HFR…. Hedge funds have faced a tough money-raising environment for much of the last decade as investors revolted over high fees and lackluster returns. Now startups are dealing with the turmoil caused by lockdown restrictions and social distancing efforts designed to combat the Covid-19 crisis. But things may be turning around as institutional investors gear up for a return to choppy markets.”

Retail: “Packaged-food companies have seen unprecedented sales since the spring, when government officials closed restaurant dining rooms, and consumers cleaned out supermarkets as they stocked up on food and household products” [Wall Street Journal]. “For food companies, the crisis has created a chance to win back shoppers who had defected to niche, trendy brands in recent years. It has also highlighted the strength of their extensive supply chains as they have ramped up manufacturing and distribution to match the consumer surge.”

Retail: “Coming soon to a 3D printer near you: Plant-based steaks” [Reuters]. “Israeli start-up Redefine Meat plans to launch 3D printers to produce plant-based steaks mimicking real beef next year in a bid for a slice of the fast-growing alternative meat market…. ‘You need a 3D printer to mimic the structure of the muscle of the animal,’ CEO Eshchar Ben-Shitrit told Reuters. The machines to be launched next year will be able to print 20kg an hour and eventually hundreds, at a lower cost than real meat…. ‘The market is definitely waiting for a breakthrough in terms of improving the texture,’ said Stacy Pyett, who manages the Proteins for Life programme at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands. She said 3D printing is one technology competing to improve alternative meat texture, but ‘having new technologies … doesn’t necessarily solve the flavour and taste problem.'” • Not to mention whatever the substrate is does to the digestive tract and the microbiota within. Remember Olestra?

Shipping: “Three-quarters of European shipowners in a survey say they will either halt or reduce spending on cleaner ships…. a grim sign of how the global health crisis is hitting the sector’s long-term planning. Ocean carriers are being buffeted by the downturn in global downturn in trade volumes and tight liquidity as bankers hunker down in an uncertain environment” [Wall Street Journal]. “The European Community Shipowners’ Associations says with the exception of tankers, revenue for various shipping sectors has declined up to 60% since Covid-19 lockdowns began, and 52% of its members in the survey are considering not renewing fleets. That could set back industry efforts to cut greenhouse-gas emissions in half by 2050 from 2008 levels. That will require an expensive effort to overhaul ships and how they get their power.”

Tech: “Did a Chinese Hack Kill Canada’s Greatest Tech Company?” [Bloomberg]. “Nortel’s giddy, gilded growth also made it a target. Starting in the late 1990s, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the country’s version of the CIA, became aware of ‘unusual traffic,’ suggesting that hackers in China were stealing data and documents from Ottawa. ‘We went to Nortel in Ottawa, and we told the executives, ‘They’re sucking your intellectual property out,” says Michel Juneau-Katsuya, who headed the agency’s Asia-Pacific unit at the time. ‘They didn’t do anything.'” • Interesting story….

The Bezzle: “Wirecard Fallout: Millions Of Online Bank Accounts To Stay Frozen For Fifth Day” [Forbes]. “Millions of online bank and payment card holders are facing a fifth day without access to their funds after the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority refused to lift restrictions on a Wirecard subsidiary. On Friday, the FCA imposed a near immediate suspension on Wirecard Card Solutions (WCS) Limited, after its parent company entered insolvency after admitting to a massive financial fraud. That resulted in millions of banking apps and payment card accounts that were managed through WCS being suspended. At least a dozen different services have been affected, including Pockit, Anna Money and U Account… Many within the fintech industry are angry at the way in which the FCA imposed the suspension with only an hour’s notice, giving the banking services little or no chance to warn their customers.” • Or warn those Philippine casino operators to move the money out company account into the spouse’s. Kidding!!

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 48 Neutral (previous close: 47 Neutral;) [CNN]. One week ago: 48 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 1 at 12:38pm. This continued neutrality is starting to feel weird.

Health Care

“COVID-19, Gyms, and Oslo: The Power of Rarity” [Mike the Bad Biologist]. The New York Times cites a medRxiv study from Oslo: “It is apparently the first and only randomized trial to test whether people who work out at gyms with modest restrictions are at greater risk of infection from the coronavirus than those who do not. The tentative answer after two weeks: no.” But there’s an enormous caveat, which Mike explains as follows: “Suppose, when you go to the gym, you encounter twenty people. If the gym members are representative of the population as a whole (I’ll get to caveats later), then the odds that one or more fellow attendees have COVID-19 are 0.4% and 2.0% for Oslo and D.C. respectively per visit. Let’s say, over that two week period you hit the gym eight times, then the chance that you will have had one or more gym visits with one or more infected people is 3.1% and 14.8% for Oslo and D.C. respectively…. what these back of the envelope calculations do show is that crushing the curve makes it much less likely to be around someone who is infected with COVID-19. Relatively small differences matter, and, at the state level, the only U.S. state that has accomplished said crushing appears to be Hawaii. If people want things to ‘return to normal’, or some semblance of normal, then we need to dramatically lower the prevalence of infected people. When COVID-19 is very rare, one is far more likely to survive higher risk activities. That means masks and physical distancing for an extended period of time–the first, sort of shutdown didn’t cut it, and we left far too early.” • Mike the Mad Biologist is another old-school blogger, and I’m happy to link to him.

“Visualizing the effectiveness of face masks in obstructing respiratory jets” (PDF) [Physics of Fluids]. “We use qualitative visualizations of emulated coughs and sneezes to examine how material- and design-choices impact the extent to which droplet-laden respiratory jets are blocked. Loosely folded face masks and bandana-style coverings provide minimal stopping-capability for the smallest aerosolized respiratory droplets. Well-fitted homemade masks with multiple layers of quilting fabric, and off-the-shelf cone style masks, proved to be the most effective in reducing droplet dispersal. These masks were able to curtail the speed and range of the respiratory jets significantly, albeit with some leakage through the mask material and from small gaps along the edges. Importantly, uncovered emulated coughs were able to travel notably farther than the currently recommended 6-ft distancing guideline. We outline the procedure for setting up simple visualization experiments using easily available materials, which may help healthcare professionals, medical researchers, and manufacturers in assessing the effectiveness of face masks and other personal protective equipment qualitatively.” •

“Experts Fear The Current Surge In US COVID-19 Cases Could Cause A Rise In Deaths” [Buzzfeed]. “So far, deaths have indeed declined even as cases have surged across the country, with many of the cases being diagnosed in people under the age of 40. But experts say it’s too early to say whether this trend will continue. There may be a lag of three to four weeks between any rise in confirmed cases and an increase in recorded deaths — due to the disease’s incubation period, the time between diagnosis and death for those who become fatally ill, and a delay before each death shows up in official counts. That means that any rise in deaths may not be seen until around the second week of July at the earliest. ‘We hope it doesn’t come, but it might,’ Kate Grabowski, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, told BuzzFeed News. The fact that younger people are making up more of the new cases means it could take even longer to see an increase in deaths, since those who are now being infected may need to pass the virus onto more vulnerable older people before deaths start to rise. ‘That’s going to take multiple weeks longer,’ Grabowski said.” • The concept of “herd immunity” is everywhere I look. Nobody knows if COVID-19 supports herd immunity. The common cold doesn’t, which is why we call it “common.” The stupid — it b-u-u-u-r-r-r-r-n-n-n-n-n-s!

The Biosphere

Not covid, corvid:

Screening Room

In honor of Divine:

Guillotine Watch

“DC Socialite Tested Positive for COVID-19 After Hosting Backyard Party” [Inside Hook]. “A Washington DC social star has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 after hosting a backyard soiree following the Washington Ballet’s online fundraiser last month… Ashley Taylor Bronczek, a co-chair of the fundraiser, celebrated the successful June 18 event by hosting a catered dinner for ‘a couple dozen friends’ outside her lavish home, according to the Post. While the private party, of which the Washington Ballet was aware but not affiliated, was in violation of DC’s Phase 1 guidelines restricting gatherings to groups of ten or fewer, it was described as ‘well-intentioned’ by photographer Tony Powell, who shot the party for Washington Life magazine….. Bronczek later tested positive for COVID-19 after reportedly beginning to show symptoms ‘within hours’ of the dinner, as did some of her guests, according to the Post. Moreover, in a move that seems to have only made matters worse, Bronczek apparently took her time disclosing her COVID-19 status to her guests, reportedly ‘fearful of the social fallout.'” • Only the staff and photograoher Powell — that is, the help — wore masks.

Class Warfare

“A Call for Radical Humanism: the Left Needs to Return to Class Analyses of Power” [Counterpunch]. “It has been troubling for me to witness how the liberal soft left has almost entirely capitulated to combating racism as a a moral problem in recent years. If George W. Bush’s war against “terrorism” hadn’t already taught those throughout the political spectrum that you can’t bomb a country into “peace”, certainly George Floyd’s death and the ensuing protests ought to have taught us all that racism is not an evil that inhabits the souls of individuals or that can be disappeared through consciousness-raising sessions led by upper-class white folks. Certainly, there are those who are willing and able to lead the prayer group in this new plateau of wokery such as the recent call to repent by Chick-fil-A CEO, Dan Cathy. Where prayer sessions, kneeling and public calls for atonement become the go-to instead of political dialogue and action, the left is deeply in trouble.” • Interesting study here.

UPDATE “The big divide over the next stimulus” [Axios]. “Because the House and Senate have alternating recess schedules Congress will have to reach a deal on the Phase 4 package in the small window between July 20-31…. One big battle between Democrats and Republicans is over the reason unemployment has remained so high. GOP lawmakers argue that enhanced jobless benefits were too generous. “A lot of people have sort of rationally said, ‘I prefer to keep getting the [unemployment] benefit for as long as I can because I’m making, 100 or 150 or 200% of what I made at work,'” a Republican aide familiar with the stimulus talks tells Axios. Democrats contend that the economy was so badly damaged that workers don’t have jobs to go back to and without the increased $600 a week payout from unemployment insurance will face poverty and possibly homelessness.” • Well, if you don’t want to spread the virus by people going to work, paying them to stay home is rational. And forcing people back to work doesn’t seem to have worked real well in the Republican strongholds of FL, TX, and AZ, has it? Even if it’s good in itself, of course; what worker doesn’t secretly welcome a touch of the lash?

News of the Wired

An account I enjoy:

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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 (ES):

ES writes: “Attached for your review is a cactus in a Santa Fe back yard. I hope you enjoy it.”

Readers, I am finally running a bit short of photos of plants, so if you could shoot some my way, that would be great — gardening projects especially! Thank you!

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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. diptherio

    Some interesting thoughts from SRW:

    Complementary currencies for municipal finance

    I’m kind of surprised I haven’t seen more talk about this kind of proposal, honestly. Seems like the perfect time for complimentary currencies to become more than a fringe phenomenon.

    Grey here envisions municipalities blessing or adopting privately founded complementary currencies, but there is no reason why local governments couldn’t start up such currencies themselves. Suppose a municipality issued basically a gift card with which certain taxes and fees could be paid at a discount. In particular, suppose that only business taxes and fees are granted this discount, but gift card balances are sold just to individuals and in limited amounts. Suppose that local businesses can apply for “merchant accounts” with respect to these gift cards, accepting payment from customers in gift card dollars just as they might from a debit card. Businesses would be eager to receive this local scrip, at least until this revenue is enough to cover all of their tax obligations eligible for the discount. They would encourage customers to pay in the scrip, whether by sharing the tax discount directly, or by offering other inducements. The overall demand inspired by the tax discount would be more than consumer facing business’ tax obligations.

    The article includes links to Tankus and Auerbach writing on the same issue. Wondering what the NC commetariat thinks about the feasibility of such schemes (waiting for Clive to poor cold water all over it, frankly :-)

    1. Samuel Conner

      I have for several years thought that municipalities could mildly stimulate their local economies by “funding” needed projects (that could not be funded with scarce $ tax receipts) by issuing tradable tax credits. Because of the “time value of money”, these credits would necessarily be discounted, but hopefully the discount would not be large.

      I think that one can think of a municipality as a “small open economy” and the municipal tax credits as “non-convertible currency” — i.e., it’s value against other currencies (the $) would be determined by markets. My perception is that when applied to sovereign countries, this situation (small open economy, floating currency) provides the currency issuer with relatively little policy freedom, but “relatively little” is more than “none.” It could do some good, but I have no idea how much. This is an idea for the MMT graduate schools to work on, IMO. There must be a few PhDs worth of research in it. And the results of the PhD projects could provide templates for real-life experiments.

      A related idea that occurred around the same time is that rather than seizing peoples’ property for tax arrears sales, why not offer the property owners the opportunity to “work off” the tax debt at a fair wage. Maybe it’s too much of an edge case to be worth changing current procedures, but maybe not.

    2. dbk

      Thanks for that link, much appreciated. At a friend’s urging, I looked into the possible use of stamp script by municipalities and wrote up some thoughts (sorry no link – I know that’s not condoned here). It could definitely have helped local governments survive and even, believe it or not, flourish throughout the pandemic.

      But as Tankus notes, it’s probably too late now, the damage has been done and begun to spread – like the virus itself.

      Like so many other things.

  2. Glen

    Is it just me or has the Democratic party turned into the never Trump wing of the Republican party?

    Thoughts please!

    1. Krystyn Podgajski

      Neoliberal Solidarity!

      Don’t cha get it? The whole political “middle” are just a bunch of neoliberals. Fence sitting busy body Ken’s and Karen’s.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        How many neoliberals would they have to come for before they came for me?

        All of them, hopefully.

        1. Redlife2017


          I’m in a zoom meeting right now and had to really hold back my laughing! Thank you.

    2. JWP

      The more the dem voters stick with voting strictly on an anybody but trump basis, the more the dem party will show its true colors as thinly-vailed-in-social-justice conservatives.

      1. Mike

        Well, it’s not like there is a lot of choice at this point. What, we should write in Sanders?

        1. albrt

          I think the choices will be different by November, and the winner will be whichever party manages to jettison the stupid, corrupt, racist dementia patient from the top of the ticket.

          1. Carla

            I did that the last two times. But it’s not really a party. Of course we’re not allowed more than two big business-boosting, war-mongering, lying, cheating parties in this country of 320 million…

    3. richard

      the 4 decade long transformation is complete
      the birchers took the repubs, and the bankers (or “liberal repubs”) took the dems
      Never Trump is just their latest public pose
      posing for statues that we’ll tear down much, much sooner than they think
      demexit is the only idea i got

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Is it just me or has the Democratic party turned into the never Trump wing of the Republican party?

      They are merging. There is a passage from William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch that describes the process, but I keep forgetting to find it….

      1. ambrit

        That would be one of those “hidden passages” so beloved by Victorian builders of Neo-Gothic follys.

        1. Robert Gray

          Ever since the first time I saw one in a movie as a wee nipper some 60 years since, I have been absolutely mad for hidden passages. I regret that I was never in a position to design/build my own house because it most assuredly would have had more than one of them!

          1. ambrit

            I share your enamourment with all things “hidden” and esoteric; structural as well as metaphorical.

        2. John

          Please note that the purpose of those hidden passages and back stairs in the 19th century was for use by “the help” so that the overlords would not have to feel uncomfortable seeing their wage slaves scurrying about.

          1. ambrit

            So too do all Right-thinking neo-liberal scribblers! (Here’s looking at you NYT!)
            (To which roll I would add Magisterial Snark Hunters.)

      2. JBird4049

        The Borg Parties keep assimilating all the reformist political caucas, movements and organizations that arise. It also reminds me of a lethal fungal infection like that take over for reproductive purposes arthropods like ants and crabs, which leaves a withered dying husk or is consumed by a predator.

        Actually, that last is a good metaphor. Just where can we go that won’t be consumed?

    5. Donald

      I have tried talking to liberals about foreign policy. I either get angry, which does no good, or I suppress the anger and give up.

      Basically a lot of them see Putin as a demon figure and attack Trump from the right.

      On the positive side, the Democrats have turned against the war on Yemen, but they had to wait until enough time had passed so the Obamaites could pretend they had good intentions but the war went worse than they expected.

      1. John k

        You mean they only intended to kill half the women and children? Is that what they say about Libya?
        The dems turned around when bone saw took out the wapo journalist. He worked for Wapo?!? Of all the bloody nerve…

  3. Toshiro_Mifune

    “Ex-George W. Bush officials launch new group supporting Joe Biden” [CNN]. “‘A lot of us who worked in government, who have held positions of public integrity, we know what normal is,’

    Integrity…. that word means something different than they think it does.
    I suppose to be fair, they are claiming it is a position of public integrity and not that they had any. So maybe this is my fault.

    1. MRLost

      The torturers have endorsed Biden. Since the torturers endorsed him publicly, Biden now owes them a debt. Since torturers are the sort of people they are and since Biden is the sort of person he is, the torturers will collect.

      Just another reason to not vote for Biden, as far as I’m concerned.

      1. Pavel

        My feelings exactly. The mere fact that so many supporters of GWB and Darth Cheney — torturers, war profiteers, mass murderers and more — are now in the Biden camp tells us all we need to know about a Joe Biden presidency.

        I can’t vote in the USA but if I could it would be Green. Screw the Republocrats.

        1. barefoot charley

          The Reps and Dems are ravening psychos, the Greens just sillies with time on their hands. Of the party front-runners, one’s the more serious sexual offender, the other’s more obviously demented–as opposed to just psychologically deformed. Hard choice! I swore I wouldn’t, but I will, vote for the more demented one. He’ll have some black woman behind him, how cool is that?

            1. Spring Texan

              Yes, Copmala is absolutely horrible. Her first D.A. run was to unseat a progressive, and she ran hard to his right. Her campaign mailers were APPALLING.

          1. Massinissa

            Sillies are better than ravening psychos. I prefer to not vote for ravening psychos. I mean I might be one myself, for all I know the QAnon folks are right about whatever the hell it is they believe and I’m the crazy one, but at least I’m not running for president… I’m not sure picking one over the other makes much sense, but then, I’m not sure futilely voting for the ‘sillies with time on their hands’ is much of an improvement either.

        2. juliania

          Yes we better all vote Green.

          If we truly all did, and then it turned out otherwise, we’d know it got rigged for sure.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    “COVID-19, Gyms, and Oslo: The Power of Rarity” [Mike the Bad Biologist].

    Food for thought – my local guy owner has been trying to herd us back in now that they are allowed open here. Her online classes were very popular, but the owner seems to have hated them and dropped them as soon as she could. I miss gym a lot, but I’m very reluctant. Levels of infection here in Ireland are down to single figures per day, so the chance of sharing a room with a carrier is very low. But…. the thing about my gym is that a high proportion of users work in a nearby hospital. I know from family members who work in the hospital system that a very high proportion of doctors and nurses have tested positive for antibodies. So…. the risk calculation is somewhat different. For now I think I’ll wait it out and accept thinner biceps and a thicker waistband.

    1. Keith

      What I miss most about the gym is the steam room. I fear that will be one of the last things to come online, and until it does, I won’t pay a membership fee, especially if what I read elsewhere, where you need to schedule your work out times and such will be required.

      I can see the concern about hospital workers. My girlfriend is a nurse, and the protocols seem to be lax at times, especially as this all drags on. Complacency is the real enemy. Have you thought about a different gym in a more well off area? From a class perspective, upper classes are less of a vector and so that area can provide a safer environment to work out in. I currently employ that tactic when I can for shopping. I am still in a Phase 1, so we are allowed a minimum in our areas.

      I am not looking to try and build a steam room on my property. If anyone has any thoughts, they will be welcomed.

      1. clarky90

        Hot, Epsom salt infused baths release the same beneficial “heat shock proteins” as saunas and steam rooms.

        Dr Rhonda Patrick, on YouTube, has great explanations! (Found My Fitness). Huge reductions in all cause morbidity and mortality. And, it’s very enjoyable, to just soak in a hot bath. Another lost art…..

          1. jr

            My girlfriend likes to add a tiny bit of eucalyptus oil to her hot bath, it really does make your skin smell and feel great. Any “zingy” oil, like citrus oils, tea tree, maybe even mint, seem like good candidates.

            1. Keith

              I use a lot of eucalyptus, it is great for opening up the sinuses. One thing I have found, is it needs to dissipate in the water a little, otherwise it can burn your skin, at least in my experience.

          2. clarky90

            I buy Epsom salts in 25 kg bags at the local feed store, for $10 us. It’s fed to cattle.

            So many people have replaced their bath tubs with showers. Hot baths are a good sleep aid. Add candles, music, aromatherapy……

            1. Carla

              A few years ago, I had my circa 1915 bathroom “redone” — a necessity due to an ancient lead bend and other plumbing issues. The contractor could not believe it when I insisted on keeping the original cast iron pedestal tub (around which I’m sure the house was built). It has one of those add-on shower gizmos that works just FINE. Meanwhile, the tub, with its 105-year-old enamel still in great shape, is a magnificent, capacious soaking machine. I’m going to try the Epsom salts soak!

              1. The Rev Kev

                Don’t let them take that bath tub away from you. Years ago I use to take baths but when we moved up north, they installed some sort of environmentally-friendly, ergonomic bathtub that you have to fight your way into and could only ever sit up in it. Eventually I just switched to having just showers. Ironically we do have a coupla old chipped bath tubs but we use them to feed the horses out of.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        I think steam rooms may be significantly less risky than anywhere else – so far as I’m aware (and someone else may know more about this), the evidence suggests that the virus does not enjoy extreme heat and humidity. But its the dressing rooms before and after the steam room that might be the problem.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Might want to give the gyms a bit of a miss. I read yesterday that there is an uptick in cases of the virus which is bit of a worry. It really is the honey badger of viruses.

    3. rd

      I read a Norwegian study of gym safety and it appears to confirm that gyms are safe if Covid-19 is not being transmitted in the community. They didn’t mention a control group outside of the community near the gym, but you could probably look at data from numerous US states to understand what could happen if community transmission is happening.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      and Aaron Mate has a great podcast on the subject in case no one mentioned it

        1. pjay

          This was posted in WC yesterday. A very good discussion of the latest BS.

          I know a lot of NC readers probably skim over Russiagate crap these days, recognizing how bogus it is. But to me this is getting seriously scary, for the very reason that it is such transparent propaganda, yet reported as fact. And the “Gish Gallop” strategy definitely has an effect on average Americans who are pretty oblivious about foreign affairs. It is worthwhille to push back whenever possible.

  5. Synoia

    “Did a Chinese Hack Kill Canada’s Greatest Tech Company?” [Bloomberg]. “Nortel’s giddy, gilded growth…

    No. Nortel based its future on Sprint’s CDMA mobile protocol, and not GSM, because that was it’s only customer for cellular base stations. The PBX and Carrier narrow band switches died because they became obsolete. The “strategic” carrier protocol, ATM, was also crushed by TCP and the internet.

    In addition Nortel was reorganized by John Roth, making Bell Northern Research Controlled by Nortel. and I believe lost its strategic vision in this reorganization.

    I would also point out that Nokia failed in the same time period, and Erickson combined with the Phone business of Siemens.

    Finally, after Y2K was finished in 2001, the Carriers were focused on Internet, where Nortel had few, if any products, Corporate capital budgets on IT dropped close to zero after the Y2K spending binge.

    None of the narrow band Companies survived the rise of the Internet and Cisco. IBM, Cabletron , Racal-Interlan, and many others in the networking business were either swallowed or crushed by Cisco.

    I don’t know what the Chinese stole, but IMHO is was of little use.

  6. shinola

    Bar Lives Matter???

    ” [Tee Allen Parker, owner of The Machine Shed Bar & Grill in Kilgore, about two hours southeast of Dallas], who is one of multiple Texas bar owners who have banned the wearing of masks in their establishments…”

    Darwin Award finalists.

          1. Massinissa

            50$ seems too low, but then again I’m not sure I want the police to have too much incentive to do this: They might start fining people who ARE wearing masks. Unless the person puts it on video, who would know?

    1. Keith

      Not really, people are seeing society break down. Add in rioting, defunding the police, and gun battles in the CHAZ/CHOP and you expect that to continue. Also, stores that sell ammo are out, which is the real Achilles heal.

      1. Redlife2017

        I once heard a Brit joke once that the problem isn’t in getting a gun in London, it’s getting the ammo!

        1. rowlf

          There is a German company called Touratech that makes accessories for adventure motorcyclists. Several years ago they had a article in their catalog on the owners riding motorcycles from Mexico to Canada on back roads, mostly unpaved. They were amazed in Arizona to be in a general store and find the liquor was all locked up but ammunition was out in the open on shelves.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          I don’t know how UK regulations work, but in Ireland gun clubs are not allowed import ammunition – they have to make it on-site. Every range has its own little workshop. The logic of this is that its easier for the police to monitor and check on a workshop and the importation of parts and propellant than it is to ensure that all ammo goes only to licensed users.

      2. allan

        As the thread (by a gun rights supporter and prepper!) makes clear, the most immediate consequence
        of a wave of untrained gun owners in the midst of a depression will be a surge in the number of suicides, followed by domestic shootings and accidents (how many of the newly minted gun owners
        understand or can afford secure storage?)

      3. Carla

        No doubt someone is hard at work figuring out how to computer print ammunition. Guns were mastered quite a while ago.

    2. RMO

      I notice the charted statistics refer to handguns only. I wonder what the sales increases in other categories have been? Kind of terrifying regardless because as the OP himself points out handguns are by far the most likely to be used in crimes or maim or kill by accident. Odds are a lot of those newly sold guns are in the hands of scared people who learned everything they know about firearms from television and movies too.

  7. Gareth MacLeod

    Re: China stealing Nortel tech

    As a Canadian tech person this story gives me a ton of emotions.
    – It’s a single intelligence source, so hard to I don’t want to put too much stock in it, but it’s plausible.
    – Nortel was a team of great engineers, horribly managed. Honestly, they didn’t need help blowing it.
    – Having said that its incredible how effectively China uses its banks to direct production of strategic tech and increase its influence with other countries

    1. Michael Hudson

      I had a number of meetings with Northern Telephone. I loved their most ambitious project: the Fuckaphone. They found that most people used video and related communcations for sex and pornography. They thought if they could really get proper sensors, it would be a great way for partners to communicate over distances.
      It would have made them billions. But they never got a working model.

    2. Larry Y

      Huawei ate everyone’s lunch, though Ericsson came out the least scarred because they were usually first choice for service providers.

      I’ve heard firsthand, from mobile/cellular competitive intelligence analysts, that Huawei was significantly under-pricing everyone, including fellow Chinese competitor ZTE.

  8. antidlc

    RE: COVID in Texas


    As cases of the coronavirus surge in Texas, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says he is done listening to the country’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

    On Fox News Tuesday, Patrick accused Fauci of being wrong “every time, on every issue,” but Patrick did not offer any evidence.

    “I don’t need his advice anymore,” Patrick told host Laura Ingraham. “We will listen to a lot of science. We will listen to a lot of doctors. And Gov. Abbott, myself and other state leaders will make the decision. No thank you, Dr. Fauci.”

    1. Mike

      And Gov. Abbott, myself and other state leaders

      Try: Gov. Abbott, other state leaders, and I – and maybe folks wouldn’t think you’re inarticulate, just dumb.

  9. diptherio

    Barbra Lee is getting absolutely roasted on the birdsite for backing Harris in the primaries instead of Biden. Good stuff.

          1. fresno dan

            ChiGal in Carolina
            July 1, 2020 at 6:03 pm

            I had no idea either – I’m just not cool….
            by the way, do the spaces count in the 240 character limit?

      1. diptherio

        Yeah, it’s twitter. Sorry, I’m used to referring to it as that from the inordinate amount of time I spend on Mastodon, which is like twitter only decentralized, federated and open source. “Birdsite” is our derogatory name for the corporate competition.

    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      There are differences between these two people, but do those differences amount to a hill of beans in this crazy, mixed-up world?!

  10. Clive

    Re: Canvassing

    As a Labour Party canvasser here in the UK I can offer some experience on this.

    When you hit the doorsteps, you quickly learn that a good 80%+ of people who will answer the door to you have no inclination whatsoever to changing their voting intentions. You therefore also learn to thank them for their time and the opportunity to speak to them and letting you know their likely candidate and you won’t bother them again in future as it’s not going to be of any help (or some such words). Occasionally you think that a little civility might get them to think on the matter a little further, but probably not.

    Of the less than 20% who do genuinely want to hear about (as in my case) Labour policy, you then get almost invariably a binary decision about national issues vs. local issues. You can then turn the topic to what the voter is interested in.

    But regardless of whether it is national or local impacts, what converts any floating voter isn’t hearing more about policy per se. It is hearing it from someone who is willing to go to the trouble of coming round and explaining it to them in person, and therefore be exposed to the cut-and-thrust of a conversation, where soundbites sound stagey and stale. You have to be able to think on your feet and respond to whatever is thrown at you. Genuinely undecided voters appreciate this. They also appreciate that their vote is something valuable, something that a candidate is willing to put effort into obtaining.

    Sometimes, such as a party position on a local planning issue (incinerators are always divisive! … as is housing constructions permits and zoning) you will, if you stick to the “party line” be onto a loser and there’s no point in trying to appeal for the person’s vote. Your candidate has a position and that position is on a deal-breaker for the voter being canvassed.

    But more often than not, cutting out all media flim-flam, all messaging, all propaganda and all fancy marketing gimmicks and talking real policy, real politics and real convictions with a real person is what a voter wants to see and hear. I’d say that of the 20%-ish I’m referring to here, 95%+ distrust all, and I mean all, they see in the media and the purveyors of media (and I include mainstream and social media in this).

    1. Pelham

      Sounds about right. In my 50 years as a US voter, I have been canvassed just once. I hadn’t given it a thought beforehand, but at that canvassing moment I was surprised to find myself feeling rather warmhearted and grateful that someone had cared enough to respect me as a voter.

      Before and since that brief moment, however, I have consistently felt like political grime underfoot.

      1. ambrit

        As another “dust under my foot” level American voter, I have noticed that the door to door canvassing I have seen has all been for local political races. Two contestants for the County Sheriff in 2016 came door to door introducing themselves. Several local City Council candidates and some County level hopefuls have rung the doorbell over the past few years.
        Nationally, the only serious ‘ground level’ engagement I experienced was over the Internet, for Sanders. That the “Mainstream” Democrat apparatchiks cannot be bothered to develop a ‘ground game’ says it all.
        Black people I know well enough to safely talk politics with say that almost all the political organizing going on in that community is done through the big churches. As such, the pastors become de-facto gatekeepers for the people’s political engagement. The church hierarchies determine what influences the ‘flock’ is exposed to, and has as a pool of choices to consider from for voting. The churches also have ‘robust’ get out the vote drives and free transportation to and from the polling stations. I would not be a bit surprised to learn that the churches have worked out how to ‘curate’ the vote by mail efforts. This is a model that the Democrat Party should have been studying and emulating since the days of yore.
        The Sanders campaign tried a similar organizing principle with the 2016 and 2020 primary campaigns. However, and this is just a surmise on my part, the Sanders campaign did not have as strong an organizing force to deploy as religion. The above mentioned churches are already self-organized along the lines of religious belief. To piggyback the political dimension upon the religious dimension is a natural fit. Sanders did not have a strong independent organizing principle upon which to base his political message. The political message is not enough, by itself, to galvanize the efforts, and, frankly, the sacrifices required for a successful political campaign. I believe that was why Occupy was suppressed so forcefully and completely; it was an organizing principle upon which a political message could be supported.
        Rant over.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          piggy-backing on already existing churches is exactly how the gop/big bidness class got their army for the counterrevolution.
          parish halls and prayer meetings in living rooms is where it, and the weaponised evangelical model of political movement building, began.
          Lewis Powell spoke to the Big Wigs…Paul Weyrich, et al brought the Word down the mountain.
          Took them under ten years to totally up-end the American political landscape, and only another decade to accomplish the hostile takeover of the opposition party.
          …and all that with an obviously polluted version of Christianity….as in not even close to what that Jesus guy actually said and mandated.

          1. ambrit

            Yeah. Old Yeshua Ben Yusuf paid the price for his opposition to the Status Quo of his, and, indeed, any day.
            When I mention to many to the Right of me, (a very large proportion of the population,) that the original Christian churches, (pre Pauline ‘reforms,’) were organized along the lines of a theocentric communism, they give me a very ‘Evil Eye’ indeed!

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              but it’s right there in the canonical gospels,lol.
              That’s why things like the Beatitudes never get a sermon
              …and the gospels in toto are only dragged out at Xmas and Oester.
              (I used to get all the local sermons emailed to one of my fake accounts, and perused them 2-3 times a year, during the Virtual Field Study)
              In my version of Fieldwork/New Deal Evangelism, it’s helpful to have a stock of socialist/humanist bible quotes at the ready.
              makes them think!

  11. Keith

    Regarding the “About Face” article, I was actually thinking about something similar, how the use of facemasks have gone from the military, to the police and now often mandated for civilians under the COVID scenario. Personally, I have traded in my disposable mask for a full length neck gaiter, which when paired with sunglasses and/or hat, completely shields the face (I realized this at Costco, when I saw someone with all three walking in, after a fatty in a scooter refusing to where one and being admitted due to “health” concerns). In an era of hyper partisanship, with violence becoming normalized as part of “protest,” masking seems ideal to be able to attack and/or defend and then disappear without being identified. I suspect the same recklessness that accompanied the military and police by granting anonymity will also apply to the protesting public. Interesting times, indeed!

    1. jr

      I enjoy wearing my bandana over my face, I like the anonymity. I’m not saying it’s the best way to run a society. I just like the mystery.

      1. carl

        Upon entering my local bank, I am required to remove my mask so the employees can see my face, and then put it back on. For obvious reasons…

        1. Keith

          I was wondering about the banks. Where I live, they were considered essential. I have an aunt in FL that was telling me the gun shops will not buzz anyone in unless the demask. I think this can become more and more of a problem as people become more desperate the the economic impacts hit harder. I recall when I worked security in FL, Halloween was an all hands affair due to masks. Also, after dark gas stations would lock up in many neighborhoods, with the only contact being through the barrier glass and sliding drawers.

          1. ambrit

            Local banks in our half-horse town require a pre-arranged meeting for entrance into the sanctum malleforium..

    2. JWP

      “About Face” was one of the best reads for me in years. Expressing his thoughts through words and drawing had a whole new level of impact. Curious when the above the law mentality will spill over into widespread killings and extrajudicial enclaves.
      Concealing identity physically is becoming the new norm, however, people are becoming more exposed online than they are in the physical world. That being said, aligning the DOD, NSA, and police forces to create a shadow alphabet soup agency or database to “police” online chatter and transfer it to real world action on a large scale harm doesn’t seem far off.

      Just as Powell hinted at, our insecurities will always be our demise until we confront them, and America is immune from doing that.

  12. DJG

    Most excellent Lambert Strether:



    Now where the heck are my cha-cha heels?

    1. Redlife2017

      Divine is 10 times the woman I will ever be (and x1000 more than the Karen with a gun). I have loved her for years.

  13. The Historian

    I’d probably have more sympathy for “Bar Lives Matter” if it also included caring about the people who work in bars and their bar patrons, but apparently the only lives that matter to bar owners are their own.

  14. nippersmom

    MoveOn just proved they have been 100% co-opted by endorsing Joe Biden. They did, however, have the courtesy to conveniently locate a large “unsubscribe” button right at the top of the email announcing the endorsement.

      1. Eureka Springs

        MoveOn, like Daily Kos are both sooooo 2006. Even then it was like watching police kettle.

          1. John Anthony La Pietra

            It’s OK — you don’t need to have a definition memorized . . . as long as you know it when you see it. . . .

          2. Phillip Allen

            I believe the term originates in military use, for situations in which one side has succeeded in surrounding the other in a small area, and then proceeds to batter the trapped, concentrated forces to surrender or death.

  15. Rod

    “About Face” (comic) [Popula].
    Appropriate placement in Realignment and Legitimacy for sure.
    Lot to think on with this iconography.
    the comic is a good intro. Lot’s of strings attached– image/marketing/military/history/ancestry

    Picking up tractor parts this morning, I was serviced by someone sporting the DH in a mid-forearm tat. Gas station stop had a big GM Black Out next bay sporting the ‘new’ old glory in black and white with the blue bar all across the tailgate. Hard to go anywhere in town without running across the images if you just notice what you are driving by.
    And I have been wondering where this is all coming from for awhile.
    I guess the same for LS when he came across this piece.

    1. rowlf

      “While you think you look like this war-torn operator fresh from the Snack bar province of Trashcanistan, you might just look goofy.” is how an older police trainer put it. Since I grew up on military bases too and worked with many Vietnam veterans, the beards, muscles and tattoo crowd reminds me of my mom’s observation at a American Legion hall one night while a patron talked loudly at the bar about how tough serving in Vietnam was. Mom said “He must have been clerical.”

      Maybe it is more like, as a South Korean friend put it, empty cans make the most noise.

      1. Massinissa

        I’m hoping these guys never actually act on any of this. And I think in normal circumstances they really won’t and are all talk.

        But society seems to be becoming more and more of a pressure cooker. I’m beginning to worry what *everyone* will do, not just these guys, as social pressures mount. And if these guys are either pushed too far, or told they can do paramilitary stuff without repercussions, I do worry what will happen, at least to some extent. In normal times I wouldn’t worry about them much, but I’m not sure these are normal times anymore, so I’m not quite sure what to think.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        cousin affects that look…he says because:1. chicks dig it(?) and 2. he never, ever gets hassled by the cops…or other necessary imperial entanglements.
        it’s assumed that he’s a “warrior” of some kind, and therefore subject to the appropriate default deference. Says cops talk to him as if he’s one of their own…perhaps an undercover guy, or something.(like “donkey balls” in The Expanse)
        I haven’t been out in the world with him in decades, since he was an ordinary $hit-kicker rodeo looking guy, so i take his word for it.

        and i found that cartoon(?) pretty powerful, too.
        I’ve seen those guys…not out here, notably, but in houston and san antone…i figure it’s mostly cos-play, and compensation for certain, perceived inadequacies.(cousin also says that a bunch of other guys he knows in this “subculture” are roided out, can’t “get it up”, etc….likely adding to the feelings of inadequacy and shame…pushed way down where they are unaware of it(FromTheArt:”see, mom, i ain’t gay”)
        like big loud trucks, and rolling coal, and waving menacing looking guns with laser scopes and bandaleros in front of walmart.

        as i’ve said before, the rednecks who chased me back in the day for being a smart weirdo, were just terrified little boys, lashing out at things they didn’t understand, and were therefore afraid of.
        doesn’t mean that they can’t do serious damage(I have scars, inside and out), but it’s important to contemplate what’s behind such aggressive behaviour and display.
        I reckon Ken(of Ken and Karen’s recent debut) just didn’t have the time to run into his panic room and put on his gear and face paint.

        1. Massinissa

          “I haven’t been out in the world with him in decades,”

          Prior to this I thought he was some young guy. Guess not? I can see young women liking that kind of thing because its edgy, but women over forty? Not sure. Guess I’ll just take his word for it.

          Anyway I definitely agree with everything you say here, and thank you for your account, its alot of good food for thought as usual. In fact, I think I’ll just go ahead and say I value your accounts and perspectives in general.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            He’s mid-forties…and his ideal women(not one) :
            he likes strippers, mostly…and has a sort of dispersed network of them all over texas(he travels alot for work). From what i can tell, it’s a series of symbiotic relationships.
            he says he’s a vibrator that can cook stuff on the grill and do honey-do things whenever he breezes through town.
            his lifestyle wouldn’t win him friends anywhere wokeratis hang out.
            we’re on his list of places to crash…and i get lots of labor out of the deal,lol.
            He’s been a subject of intense study for years—socratic method, with ample beer on the golf cart in the pasture. I could go on and on about the psych profile, life experience, life choices, etc that led him to be who he is.

        2. rowlf

          like big loud trucks, and rolling coal

          We’ve got them around here too. Some of the drivers look male and some look female so I guess at some point there is a transition stage (or they get the trucks from their sisters when sisters want something else to drive)

          I wanted to share an observation from a year or two back that I thought you would find funny in a kinda reversal of the Steve Martin film The Jerk. My sons’ high school has a peckerwood clique. Trucks, hats, flannel shirts or t-shirts with no sleeves, the girls going for the Daisy Duke look with cowboy or roper boots. They don’t cause trouble (I suspect the trucks eat all of their money and/or the deputies know them all) but what blew me away was apparently they were very inclusive in who joined they club. “Why not?” as my inner Gomez Addams says.

          One of the kid’s mothers is a tough nurse who we have known for years. She was saying the son in the group had his bedroom decorated with peckerwood flags and stuff and asked how to get him to outgrow the stupid. I suggested buying a bikini with that flag pattern and parading around the house in it, as nothing can shatter teenage cool as your parents cannonballing into hip stuff.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            learn something new every day: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peckerwood

            pathetically sad,lol.
            although I do have a soft spot for the daisy duke look.
            only gangs we have out here are Mexican Mafia adjacent people in the Barrio(who mind their own business), a few very ancient Klan adjacent people, rapidly exiting this life without ripples, and the Chamber of Commerce.
            not a gang, per se,but there’s the perennial clique of Good Ol Boys, but they’re pretty slow thinkers, to a man, and have been on their back feet for many years…the world having passed them by into utter incomprehensibility, long ago.
            I get along with most of these…and the only one’s that ever worry me are some of the COC people…would-be gilded reptiles, with that avaricious gleam in their eyes…and keeping one of those lidless eyes on the notices in the paper regarding sheriff sales on the courthouse steps, for to become slumlords.

            1. ambrit

              Oh good G-d! Sheriff sales!
              I went to one with a friend who’s property was “on the block” due to non payment of taxes because of extended layoffs. This was in Louisiana. Several of us were there to help buy it out for him until he could get back on his feet. (It took him three years to do that.) He went up to the clerk and explained the situation. When the property came up, the Sheriff looked at him and asked; “Your friends got the money up?” Our friend nodded. The Sheriff says; “OK. This one is for the owner.” That was it.
              This was the same Parish where a decade before, a man had his house sold for a defaulted bail bond. It seems one of the locals got into a serious hassle with the local authorities. The neighbour to the aggrieved party put up his neighbour’s property as surety for bail and promptly skipped town. The Clerk of Court never checked the property deed closely. When the aggrieved party tried to have the bail lien quashed, the Parrish stonewalled him. He finally had to go to court to have the sale nullified. The bail ‘skipper’ was never heard from again.

    2. Alex Cox

      That comic book is very pertinent and thought provoking.

      But let’s hear a good shout out for the death’s head, which is not just the stupid logo of a comic book called The Punisher, but first and foremost the memento mori. I shall not bore the reader with the number of paintings, sculptures, carvings and artworks which incorporate the skull in order to remind the viewer of their mortality, not to protect them against it.

  16. Mikel

    RE:“Quarterly Hedge Fund Liquidations Rise to Highest Since 2015” [Bloomberg].

    So much for them, they cashed out.

    On another note related:

    You should all know what the end game is …nobody cashes out until they find a greater fool at this point.
    With a little negative interest rate help from the Fed (oh, it’s coming), they are hoping to force people out of the money market funds. Hence, these nose bleed levels on the indexes despite the reality of the oncoming depression.

    1. Carolinian

      Yep. According to ZH site threatening the mayor’s 7 million dollar house was the last straw.

      Or more credibly the businesses inside the zone were threatening to sue the city over the damage to their property.

      1. Czar

        I’ll add that the well-publicized shootings in the area made the decision easy. Particularly the most recent incident, a grisly shooting by local “security forces” that killed a black teenager.


        He and another teen supposedly committed a drive-by shooting just prior, but rumors abound that CHAZ/CHOP security shot up the wrong vehicle. Very foggy situation that I’m hoping will be clarified.

        Local socialist celebrity and city councilmember Kshama Sawant, who led the protest at Mayor Durkan’s house, hitched her political wagon to CHOP. She may end up regretting it, as Durkan is now calling for her expulsion, and most of the locals are unlikely to recall CHOP in a totally favorable light.

    2. The Historian

      CHOP was in its death throes anyway. There wasn’t that much for the police to move out – only the diehards. According to my son who was involved somewhat at the beginning, the constant bickering between rival groups, the no clear vision of what they wanted to accomplish, and people coming there to do their own thing with no regard for others – sort of wanna be libertarians without any understanding of what it takes to form a society – doomed the movement from the start. Most of the people initially involved who thought they were building a movement like Occupy Wall Street just got disgusted and left after a couple of weeks.

      1. Arizona Slim

        In just one paragraph, you offered a comprehensive description of Occupy Tucson. Thank you, Historian.

    3. jsn

      My daily bike commute takes me past the City Hall Black Lives Matter encampment in Manhattan.

      Today was unusual as there was a police helicopter over the East River from sun up, about 5:30AM.

      When I rode past the encampment at about 7:00AM there was a phalanx of several hundred police in full riot gear formed up in the middle of Chambers Street. I stopped briefly and the protesters were lined up facing the cops but things were relatively calm with regular police standing nearby on both ends of the formation.

      I rode on and by the time I headed over the Manhattan Bridge the helicopter was pulling away.

      I assume it was aerial reconnaissance assuming the protesters would know what was happening at CHOP and recording any organized responses from aerial camera in the helicopter, but that’s just speculation. It felt like the second month of Occupy Wall Street when marches were still happening but planning for the hammer drop was underway, but that’s likely just a projection.

    4. Aumua

      I wish I could come up with a good comment right now about it, but I just don’t know how I feel. The facts are very fuzzy, and there’s a lot of things being tossed around about it online that are frankly depressing.

      One thing is clear though, it was a very ‘law and order’ crackdown type response. No working with the protesters at all toward any common resolution.

      1. RWood

        Andre Vltchek:
        It appears that the country is not ready, not prepared, for a huge job of re-defining itself.

        Insecurity is due to the lack of free medical care, education, and subsidized housing. Most of the people are in debt. Depression is, at least partially, due to overconsumption of intellectual and emotional junk. There is plenty of fundamentalist religions, but almost no discussion about how to improve life in this world.

        Segregated, atomized, and otherwise, fragmented society seems to be unable to give birth to a truly compassionate, egalitarian national project.


        Meets Julian Vigo coming to the podium.

  17. jsn

    Re: Fallows in The Atlantic

    I agree with Lamberts critique, it would have been revelatory had Covid struck during the presidency of “The Most Qualified Candidate Ever!TM”.

    As it is, the delusional take false solace in their delusions.

    1. nippersmom

      If TMQCE had been coronated, as was her due, COVID would have been blamed on those dastardly Russians who would stop at nothing to undermine her reign. Of course, there would also have been plenty of blame to go around for the poors and the dfh who spread those awful germs to right-thinking suburban soccer moms.

      1. ambrit

        If the Spawn of the Evil One had been coronated, we would not have seen any Russiagate antics. Such would have distracted the plebs from the performative politics of the Reign of Terrior. Perhaps, the coronavirus would have been blamed on the Iranians.

        1. edmondo

          If Her Majesty has acquired the golden orb back in 2016, the Republicans would have won 100+ seats in the House in 2018 and impeached her on the first day of Congress meeting. The COVID response would have been President Paul Ryan’s fiasco. Feel better? Me neither.

          1. brook trout

            Impeachment is one thing; conviction in the Senate by a 2/3 majority is quite another, as historical experience has shown. 100 seats in the House in this regard means nothing unless it is accompanied by a super majority in the Senate, assuming the vote is partisan, which would almost certainly be the case (Nixon the possible exception; he resigned because he had lost the confidence of Republican Senators).

  18. Carolinian

    Reality is coming for white supremacists driving golf carts

    Funny that. Lately people have taken to riding around in my not poor neighborhood in golf carts. None of them were wearing pointy hats or seemed to be white supremacists but maybe Krugman is onto something! Alternate theory is that they are just showing off the fact that they own a golf cart or perhaps the Range Rover is in the shop. In any event I don’t think these things are street legal.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      they’re not, without that orange triangle, at least in Texas.
      Mine is my “work truck” for the farm…don’t think of it as a “golf cart”, at all(never played golf, nor wanted to)
      but I suppose it makes me a bad person, or something….especially with the rifle rack, and all.
      what a world we’re building…

      1. ambrit

        That would be a wonderful meme. Playing through on a golf course, driving a golf cart around with a locked and loaded rifle in the rack. “Just in case of varmints!”

        1. The Rev Kev

          Hmmm. Based on the ‘About Face’ cartoon strips, you could have it painted black with a Punisher death’s head logo painted on the front of it. Unfortunately you would lose out on the ability to have blacked-out windows as after all, it is a golf cart. Can you fit bull-bars to the front of one?

          1. rowlf

            May I suggest a search string of “Peachtree City” and “golf carts.” I am confident you will max out on golf carts.

            The Joe Bob Briggs summary:

            Stolen Golf Carts; Car Jacked Golf Carts; DUI Golf Carts; Drive By Golf Carts; Get Away Vehicle Golf Carts; Nude Golf Carts; Golf Cart Fu. Check it out twice.

          2. Amfortas the hippie

            there’s a mangled barbed wire UT Longhorn on the front tool basket, just under the super bright led bar.
            extra battery under the bed(used to be a back seat) for the sprayer, chainsaw sharpener and red q-beam,etc .
            i haul tools, firewood, manure, and drunken kinfolk… drag stock panel and fence posts–and since “the best fertiliser is the farmer’s footsteps”, and I’ve got pretty bad arthritis, I use it to keep an eye on everything…from the grass and trees to how the lizards and jackrabbits and bees are doing. arthritis is why i have it in the first place…when it’s in the shop, productivity plummets!
            it’s an all terrain swiss army knife, and prolly the best $2k i’ve ever spent.
            just before sunset a little while ago, the guinneas got lost…what with the abundance of hoppers, and all…and wife and i went tearing around the whole place, calling them(wooden turkey call does a pretty good “come here, come here” guinnea sound). couldn’t have done it on foot.
            we call it the Falcon…so I can say Han Solo things.

  19. sam

    Re hedge fund liquidations: I bet most of these liquidated in form only and will quickly reconstitute under a new name, an old scam by HF managers to evade high water mark provisions in the fund documents. Standard manager annual comp consists of a percentage of gross assets plus a larger percentage of profits (traditionally 2% and 20% but sometimes less these days due to increased competition). To prevent the manager from collecting twice when a fund earns a profit in year 1, incurs a corresponding loss in year 2 and then earns it back in year 3, most LPAs provide that the 20% only applies to profits exceeding the fund’s previous maximum gain from inception, or “high water mark”. If losses drop the fund way below the HWM, the manager will usually just close it to avoid being limited to only the asset based fee until getting the fund back up to the HWM. For some reason, institutional investors like CALPERS go along with this and invest in the manager’s successor fund on the grounds that otherwise the manager would not be sufficiently incentivized.

  20. Pelham

    I wonder whether those of us concerned about deaths of despair and the plight of working Americans will someday have to hive ourselves off completely from the Black Lives Matter and antifa crowds and their bipartisan neoliberal sympathizers.

    Then where will we go? Will there be any natural or acceptable allies? Or we will be herded down the road to occupy a space something like the AfD in eastern Germany, where immediate and legitimate material issues of work and dignity are foregrounded against a darker agenda.

    1. Massinissa

      I think you’re overgeneralizing the ‘Black Lives Matter crowd’. As Yves said, the media coopting it like it has doesn’t detract from the fact that there were some good activism there at the beginning.

      Also, bipartisan neoliberal sympathizers of Antifa? Can I have some of what you’re having? Most neoliberals want Antifa shot, extrajudicially if need be. Not to say I’m a sympathizer of Antifa, I’m not and I think what they do is absolutely counterproductive, but to say they have ‘bipartisan neoliberal support’ doesn’t pass my smell test.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        like BLM, antifa has some kernel of authentic to it..probably much less of a kernel than BLM(which sure looked like a real thing, post-Ferguson, to me)
        but it’s been hijacked, too…but under the carpet. Like the pseudo black bloc in cop shoes.
        or all those “terrorists” the fbi ginned up out of off hand anomie and diffuse discontent.
        one day, some antifa “cell” will be in the news for plotting some attack on a bank somewhere, and it will be mentioned in passing that the feebs had an informant in their ranks…and it’ll come out later in the alt-press that they provided bomb training, etc to the patsies.

        as far as “Where will we go?”
        maybe get us a porcupine flag and a website(and robust vetting criteria) and all move someplace and take over the county government(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_State_Project )
        I’ll be out here in the Hermit Kingdom, hoping that everyone outside a 50 mile radius forgets that there’s even roads out here.

        1. Massinissa

          I don’t disagree with this. Antifa was never a real organization, and it being the scapegoat for all sorts of psy-ops is already known. But I still object to the idea that Antifa has ‘bipartisan neoliberal support’. Hell I’m not even sure it has partisan neoliberal support. The right wants to shoot them dead, and so do many of the liberals. Antifa not actually existing as an actual organization or even as a genuine group of people doesn’t detract from that. The idea that Antifa has the same kind of support that the now-largely-coopted BLM movement has is nonsensical.

          1. a different chris

            >Antifa not actually existing as an actual organization or even as a genuine group of people doesn’t detract from that.

            Actually it enhances it. They lose to every real enemy they have since WWII, and even if they won something they would then have to find another enemy.

            You can never see Antifa, so how do you know it’s not there? Everything has devolved to Life Of Brian.

      2. Pelham

        Sorry if I left the wrong impression about neoliberals and antifa. I meant to draw the distinction between deaths-of-despair-concerned PROGRESSIVES (not neolibs) and antifa/BLM.

        What I see at this urgent moment is a great deal of energy on the progressive side when it comes to these race and statue questions and crickets when it comes to the annual 68,000 deaths of despair concentrated among whites. That wasn’t the case for a while, but now it is. Maybe the split is justifiable for this moment in time.

        But will it continue and worsen? I think there’s a fair chance that it will due to a building contempt for poor and working whites that might carry over to progressives from neolibs, whose judgment on the deplorable nature of poor whites is similar to the progressive contempt for police and US history. This will only worsen if working-class whites begin to react against what they perceive as attempts to cancel their nation’s past. The NYT’s 1619 project would also be an example.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          fwiw, i didn’t get the wrong impression.
          and i think it’s important to keep in mind that race…the very Idea of “Race”…is, from it’s birth, a divisionary tactic to keep us’n’s divided, and fighting amongst ourselves.
          it’s funny…in my part of the world,aside from the handful of aging outright Racists i know, the only people race seems to matter to are the local democrats.
          it’s been becoming less and less of a thing with the working people for as long as i’ve been working.

    2. dcblogger

      huh? there is no contradiction between Black Lives Matter and deaths of despair.

  21. Alfred

    I appreciated very much Nate Powell’s About Face comic, with its many insightful observations. While I think I am pretty well attuned to how certain ‘looks’ convey or even produce power, this comic gave me a new appreciation for how stealthily semiotics can be deployed to further nefarious objectives. I’d quibble with very few of Powell’s points. Certainly, I think, he is spot on in observing that ‘lifting’ a pickup places its driver not only literally above other drivers but symbolically (and therefore more importantly) above the law. His points about the displacement of color by black-and-white are well taken, and well worth further elaboration now that we not only have black-and-white US ‘flags’ but also black-and-white Confederate ‘flags’. Another point worth pondering is the role that customizing a vehicle (with decals, accessories, tinted windows, etc.) has in — paradoxically — anonymizing both it and its owner/driver. I do agree that the secret to how it does work is to be found in military lore and practice. Thinking about this point I am reminded of how many Jeeps I have seen around town uncannily bearing the same array of Molon Labe/NRA/wildlife/blue-backing/troops-supporting decals and stickers, always alongside the same Gadsden Flag license plate, almost as if they were all being sold and applied as pre-assembled sets: with individualism thus finding its expression through a cultivated uniformity rather than accidental distinction. Possibly Powell makes too much of the blackness that, to be sure, was so much in evidence a few years back in Charlottesville. But since 2017, it seems to me possible, the value of blackness as a signifier of aggression may have peaked and entered decline. Already, it seems to me, the big black trucks and SUVs are outnumbered by big, and apparently newer, white ones. Could white be (becoming) the new black? White, after all, was precisely what made the Stainless Banner stainless.

    1. Copeland

      White SUVs have been all the rage here in Cascadia near the Salish Sea for several years. Lately, to be really cool, white SUV’s with all the trim bits and wheels rendered in black, seems to be the thing. I am not in that club.

  22. Roland

    If it is true that the Russians paid Afghans to kill Americans, then that means the Russians are loath to kill Americans themselves. That would indicate that any significant Russian threat to the US is already being effectively deterred.

    Anyone who believes that it is true that the Russians paid Afghans to kill Americans must, then, already be persuaded that Trump’s policy towards Russia has been strategically successful, and that it requires no further action, improvement, or expenditure.

    1. rowlf

      I like how the RAF_Luton had all the aircraft identifications wrong. That was talent, a reverse anorak!

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        Glad someone else flagged this! I have all kinds of RAF plane spotter books handed down from my Blitz-era dad (RIP) and was utterly appalled.

        Everything single ‘fact’ cited but Antonov was wrong.

  23. Otis B Driftwood

    I canvassed for Sanders in Northern California for several weeks. I knocked on hundreds of doors and talked to a lot of people. I found support for Sanders was strong and that conversations, particularly with Black voters, was key to winning their support.

    The support was there. The key was a solid ground game. That’s how we won California despite the voter suppression reported in LA.

    He was robbed … again.

  24. TroyIA

    Yesterday Fauci stated that the U.S. could see 100,000 cases of covid-19 daily but he didn’t give a date. I’m betting on July 31st for 100,000/day and next week for 50,000/day. Hope I’m wrong.

  25. allan

    In today’s edition of Socialize the losses, privatize the gains,

    YRC gives government 30% stake in its latest financial bailout
    [Freight Waves]

    YRC Worldwide (NASDAQ: YRCW) unveiled plans of a new $700 million lending agreement
    with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which in turn will receive a stake of nearly 30% in the company.

    The July 1 press release outlines the latest lifeline for the less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier.
    The loan comes from a federal lending program under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which is intended to help businesses survive the economic downturn
    caused by COVID-19 and maintain employment for their workers.

    The lending agreement will allow YRC to repay recently deferred health and welfare and pension payments to the funds that support its 24,000 Teamster employees, including the underfunded
    Central States pension and health funds in which YRC is the largest contributor. The loans will also
    allow the carrier to make updates to its aging fleet.

    Some may also see this as a bailout of Apollo Global Management (NYSE: APO), which
    provided YRC with a $600 million term loan in September. …

    Shares of YRCW are up more than 50% on the news.

    Of course they were.

    1. allan

      But wait, there’s more …

      Former CEO of troubled trucking company that got huge COVID loan is now on USPS board [Salon]

      In June, the Senate confirmed Bill Zollars, the former head of a trucking company called YRC Worldwide, to the board of the U.S. Postal Service. Salon has learned that YRC is currently being sued by the federal government for allegedly defrauding the Pentagon while Zollars was CEO.

      Furthermore, on Wednesday the government extended a $700 million taxpayer-backed loan to YRC Worldwide, which was valued at only $70 million in total the previous day, and had warned shareholders in May that it was in danger of going out of business. …

      The current $700 million loan, which matures in 2024, does not come out of the funds that the CARES Act set aside for small businesses, but from a $17 billion section intended to support businesses considered crucial to national security.

      In 2018 the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against YRC — along with subsidiaries Roadway Express Inc. and Yellow Transportation Inc. — alleging that trucking units had overcharged the Pentagon millions of dollars for at least seven years. …

      1967: We had to destroy the village in order to save it.
      2020: We had to save the company in order to sue it.

  26. Jeremy Grimm

    I remain bemused by the Sanders campaign slogan: “NOT ME — US”. It took me a while to read and understand it when I first saw it. Later I wondered if it referenced the Muhammad Ali peom: Me … We. Last night I was re-watching my DVD of the feature cartoon “Antz”: Azteca telling Z to stop complaining — “After all, it’s not about you, it’s about us — the team.” In that context the slogan acquires an odd resonance.

    I cannot get past Sanders voting for the CARES Act.

    1. Massinissa

      Apparently his thinking was that it was better than nothing.

      Not sure anyone actually agrees with that, I certainly don’t, but that was his reasoning. I think I would have preferred nothing, honestly.

    1. Massinissa

      I mean, his tweet got 225k likes, so at least someone agrees with him, even if the commenters at yahoo don’t.

    2. jr

      Good for him, he should have torched it as well and pushed it into a ditch…typical “work eth-hick” slave chatter in the comments about the young mans lack of integrity for not returning Property! etc. and testimonials to the character building influences of getting bent over a rail on a daily basis…

  27. tongorad

    Biden cashing in big with Bush officials – that pretty much says it all about the democratic party and Obama’s chosen candidate.

    1. John k

      I think they’re voting with their feet re which candidate is most likely to start the next war, presumably with Iran.
      I made that argument to spouse, who refuses to think they’re right.
      With our most important ally urging us on – let’s go beat up that bad guy, here I’ll hold your coat – It will be early in the first term, during the honeymoon.

    2. Glen

      Funny how the Democratic party is now embracing the never Trumpers. Trump did not create the Republican party they now profess to hate, they did. It took forty years to do it.

      And now they want to do it to the Democratic party. Clearly it is a governing philosophy that has wrecked the country and destroyed the middle class.

      But the DNC likes it.

  28. John Anthony La Pietra

    I wonder if the Fear and Greed Index, one-dimensional as it is, really tells us a lot useful about the actual strength of fear or greed. IMO, “neutral” isn’t as helpful a rating as it could be. After all, that could be the result of both factors being at historic (and historical) lows. Or it could reflec4et both factors being at roof-busting record high$.

    At least with the “regular” stock market, we get two pieces of data per session close/open — e.g., “Stocks closed mixed to slightly higher today, in heavy trading. . . .”

    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      (Yeesh . . . corrected “reflect” in the look-up dictionary, but not in the post itself! . . .)

  29. The Rev Kev

    After reading “In lockdown with a conspiracy theorist” I sometimes think that we are living through Robert Heinlein’s Crazy years. What was that? It was-

    “Considerable technical advance during this period, accompanied by a gradual deterioration of mores, orientation, and social institutions, terminating in mass psychoses in the sixth decade, and the interregnum.”

    Writing about it in the 1980s he explained it more by saying-

    “So many casual killings in public streets and public parks and public transports that most lawful citizens avoided going out after dark…

    Public school teachers and state university professors who taught that patriotism was an obsolete concept, that marriage was an obsolete concept, that sin was an obsolete concept, that politeness was an obsolete concept – that the United States itself was an obsolete concept…

    Cocaine and heroin called “recreational drugs”, felony theft called “joyriding” … felonious assault by gangs called “muggings”, and the reaction to all these crimes was “boys will be boys”, so scold them and put them on probation but don’t ruin their lives by treating them as criminals…

    Millions of women who found it more rewarding to have babies out of wedlock than it would be to get married or to go to work…”

    Who would have ever believed that you would have the Democratic party declare Mt. Rushmore to be a symbol of White Supremacy or that a sitting US President would be accused by the media of being a Russian agent with the New York Times declaring there to be a homosexual dimension to the US and Russian Presidents?

    1. a different chris

      Heinlein stupidly basically says if you don’t ecstatically perform fellatio on the flag every opportunity you have then you do drugs, “casually” kill others, have babies out of wedlock.

      Give. Me. A. Break.

      And this is really hilarious:

      that the United States itself was an obsolete concept…

      People who you couldn’t stick a sheet of paper between their political views and Heinlein’s are always the ones trying to secede in some hare-brained scheme or another. I think the most basic characteristic of a right winger isn’t what he believes, it’s his/her complete ignorance of who they see in the mirror.

      I mean literally one of his most famous stories was about some Space Cadet (unintentionally hilarious but it was a different time) rebelling against his home planet.

      Sorry, pet peeve. I wasted my youth on his stories.

      To your point at the end, it is just the logical outgrowth of IdPol. You can’t quit it so you double down and double down and… finally you are screaming at a face on the mountain.

      1. jr

        “You can’t quit so you double down and double down…”

        This resonates with some other ideas I’ve seen kicked around here, the self destructive aspects of “left” ID politics. It is a sort of ideological self-arming trap; as has been discussed it requires hatred of another, wall building, “othering”, identifying and isolating targets for cancelling and shaming. Id bet there is a lot of small scale “cannibalism”, purges and purity tests.

        But at the levels of public “symbol manipulators” such as journalists and academics, there is an internal dynamic of competition for limited resources such as audiences, publishing offers, and the choice teaching appointments/ writing gigs that every true IDpol PMC revolutionary craves. So they are almost certain to turn on one another at some point, if it hasn’t happened already.

        I’m not claiming these are original ideas, it’s just gelled in my head that there is a dialectic? at work in the sense of the more successful something as corrosive as IDpol becomes, the more it poisons it’s own well.

  30. The Rev Kev

    “Ex-George W. Bush officials launch new group supporting Joe Biden” [CNN].

    “‘A lot of us who worked in government, who have held positions of public integrity, we know what normal is,’”

    Normal for them is being the ones in power. Notice the past tense of ‘worked’ & ‘have held’ in government?

    1. RMO

      To paraphrase Arthur Dent; “Ah, this must be some strange usage of the word ‘integrity’ that I wasn’t previously aware of.”

  31. Carla

    Re: “Coming soon to a 3D printer near you: Plant-based steaks” [Reuters]

    All I can say, literally, is “Oh, crap!”

  32. VietnamVet

    “The 3 Weeks That Changed Everything” update is a very good comparison of the 737 Max crashes and the coronavirus pandemic that has been swirling around in my head. My conclusion too is that both were inevitable and have the exact same cause. Except I blame global-capitalism and the intentional flushing of government down the drain and the offshoring of America to increase profits and corporate bonuses.

    The USA was and is unprepared to fight a pandemic even though a movie “Contagion” in 2011 depicted how it would occur. The tragedy is that in order to defeat the coronavirus pandemic, the current bipartisan revolving door politicians and managers who are responsible have to be fired and a federal public health system built back up with people who can get the job done. This will take lots of money and restoration of democracy. Instead, the most likely future is a slow motion illness and unrest that weakens the nation till parts pull out. NY, CT and NJ 14 day quarantine of travelers from hot-spot states is a harbinger of this.

  33. The Rev Kev

    I really hate neoliberal thinking. So I was just reading the news about the Coronavirus outbreak in the Australian State of Victoria where they had to lock down three dozen suburbs with their 300,00 people because numbers of cases are exploding. A lot of these cases are traced back to the quarantine hotel in Melbourne. Normally you have had the police staffing these quarantine hotels on Oz supplemented by Army soldiers as they know how to follow orders. But the Victorian government had another idea – hiring private security firms because markets apparently. They actually knocked back offers from the Army to help out because they know that contractors are the way to go.

    Now an inquiry will be held because the private security were charging for shifts they never worked, slept with guests, shook hands and shared elevators with guests, let guests travel between room to play card games. Of course these contractors were getting infected who were spreading it not only to other guests but also to outside people. The last I heard, they are bringing in guards from the Corrections Department (prison guards) to man that hotel because it looks like governments can actually do stuff better than private companies. But the damage has been done.

    So one guy left the quarantine hotel to go back to Sydney where his supermarket manager noticed he looked sick. Now all the staff at that supermarket are locked down. Another left the hotel, stayed with family in a hot-spot area, and went back home to the Northern Territory before he came up sick. Before that, the Northern Territory had not had a case in over two months. I should note that the Premier of Victoria has been one of the loudest and most insulting to other States in opening up all the States to everywhere. Sorry about the rant but business thinking will continue to drop us all in a s***show world as for them, it is all about short-term profits-


    1. jr

      It occurs to me that COVID could be a fairly effective weapon against a group of people. Imagine a scenario where a handful of asymptomatics intentionally inserted themselves in a gathering of some sort, slapping backs and hugging with abandon, shouting and singing whenever possible, handling buffet tongs and spoons as much as possible, smearing spittle on doorknobs and handles in the bathrooms when out of sight of others…a packed bar, church, wedding parties, rival hotel across town…

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