2:00PM Water Cooler 7/15/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, Happy Belated Tax Day! Taxes are the price we pay for fiat currency, as Oliver Wendell Holmes did not quite say. –lambert

#COVID19

At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Our five problem states, with New York for comparison:

=

I’ll just keep doing this one until I see a peak followed by a decline. Yikes, Florida!

Politics

“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 July 14: July 14: Indiana, Montana, South Carolina move from Safe to Likely Republican. On July 7, the undecided votes were 86. Now they are 56. This puts Biden at 278, i.e. over 270.


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!

2020

Patient readers who were also Sanders canvassers, thank you for your responses. I am mulling them. I may end up doing a survey, hopefully not too onerous. –lambert

Biden (D)(1): “Biden signals openness to eliminating Senate filibuster” [Politico]. “Former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday signaled he would be open to the Senate ending its practice of imposing a 60-vote threshold for most legislation, a positional shift from the Democratic presidential nominee who spent more than 35 years as a senator…. ‘It’s going to depend on how obstreperous they become,’ the former vice president said of Senate Republicans who might filibuster legislation championed by a potential Biden administration. ‘But I think you’re going to just have to take a look at it.'” • Which Obama and Reid could have done 2020 – 2009 = 11 years ago, when the country was in its previous systemic crisis [sighs, puts head in hands].

UPDATE Cuomo (D)(1): Come on, man:

Trump (R)(1): “Biden leads Trump by 13 points in Pennsylvania: poll” [The Hill]. “The Monmouth University survey of Pennsylvania finds Biden at 53 percent compared to Trump at 40 percent, with 4 percent undecided and 3 percent saying they will vote for someone else… Biden also leads 54 percent to 35 percent in the so-called swing counties where the race was closest in 2016.”

UPDATE Trump (R)(1): “As the Trump disaster gets worse, a new political theory helps explain it” [Greg Sargent, WaPo]. “But a new paper that develops a theory of leadership amid pandemics — combined with an alarming report on our looming economic catastrophe — point toward a more coherent narrative of Trumpian failure…. The paper offers a theory of ‘executive underreach,’ and applies it to leaders like Trump and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. Both have failed on coronavirus through indifference to mass suffering and abdication of leadership in the face of it. Law professors David Pozen and Kim Lane Scheppele present ‘executive underreach’ as a species of leadership failure that’s as destructive as executive overreach, defining it as: ‘a national executive branch’s willful failure to address a significant public problem that the executive is legally and functionally equipped (though not necessarily legally required) to address.” But crucially, the paper links this phenomenon to fundamentally illiberal and anti-democratic tendencies.” • Oh, puh-leeze. Stop. Just stop. “Indifference to mass suffering” is not confined to Trump; it is universal across the political class. Falling life expectancy in flyover, along with the opioid epidemic and deaths of despair happened on [genuflects] Obama’s watch. So did the destruction of a generation of Black wealth in the foreclosure crisis. So did a “recovery” where wages for 70% of the population took ten years to not quite recover, while the PMC and capital did very well for themselves, thank you. And that’s before we get to a Democrat party whose empathetic candidate can’t bring himself to support Medicare for All in the midst of a pandemic (thereby implicitly endorsing 68,000 deaths a year, as far as the eye can see). What hogwash, shocking even for Greg Sargent.

UPDATE West (I)(1): “Kanye’s Short-Lived Attempt to Get on the 2020 Ballot” [New York Magazine]. “According to multiple campaign professionals who spoke with Intelligencer, West took early steps last week toward getting his name on the ballot in Florida and other states as a third-party candidate running against Joe Biden and Donald Trump…. On the morning of July 9, TMZ reported that West’s family was concerned that the billionaire rapper was suffering a bipolar episode based on his presidential aspirations…. Later that day, I talked to Steve Kramer. He is a get-out-the-vote specialist who runs a firm that also helps candidates get on the ballot. Kramer, who has worked mostly for Democratic candidates but has also had some Republican clients, told me that he had been hired to help West get on the ballot in Florida and South Carolina. He added that his understanding was that West’s team was ‘working over weekend there, formalizing the FEC and other things that they’ve got to do when you have a lot of corporate lawyers involved.’… This all seemed real enough, and I reached out to West’s publicist for a response. The initial response was to loop in another spokesperson on the email. West’s team then went dark. As I waited for a response, I followed up with Kramer who told me, ‘He’s out.'”

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UPDATE “Senate Democrats’ Machine Spent $15 Million To Destroy Progressive Primary Candidates” [David Sirota, Too Much Information]. “With the help of the party, its major donors, and the Senate Majority PAC (SMP) — a super PAC funded by labor unions, corporate interests and Wall Street billionaires — candidates endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee have won contested primaries in four battleground states…. SMP is led byformer top staffers at the DSCC. The super PAC has raised a staggering $118 million this cycle, pooling cash from both organized labor and business titans to promote corporate-aligned candidates over more progressive primary challengers…. Overall, the top donor to SMP so far this cycle has been Democracy PAC — a super PAC that’s bankrolled by billionaire George Soros and the Fund for Policy Reform, a nonprofit funded by Soros. Democracy PAC has contributed $8.5 million to SMP.” • Hmm.

UPDATE “Progressive Wave Rolls Through Texas with Big Wins in Dallas, Austin, and Houston” [The Intercept]. “[The Democratic Party] has been increasingly seizing suburban territory from Republicans. Siegel, running in Texas’s 10th Congressional District, which stretches from suburban Austin to suburban Houston, now faces incumbent Rep. Mike McCaul, running for an eighth term in Congress. Valenzuela, in the 24th District, which covers suburban areas outside Fort Worth and Dallas, will face Beth Van Duyne, the former mayor of Irving. The seat is currently held by Rep. Kenny Marchant, a Republican first elected in 2004, who narrowly fended off a Democratic challenger in 2018. Marchant’s 2019 retirement announcement was part of what became known as ‘Texit,’ as longtime suburban GOP incumbents headed for the doors. Texas’s suburbs are exploding with out-of-state transplants, many voting Democratic, which more than balances out the flow of conservatives leaving California for the Lone Star state. That changing demography has made the Texas suburbs culturally indistinguishable from suburbs around the country, and that spells trouble for Republicans.” • Specuating freely: Socially liberal, fiscally conservative, pro-war… I’d welcome commentary from our Texas readers on this.

UPDATE “Sara Gideon wins Democratic race to challenge Susan Collins” [The Hill]. • I checked Gideon’s website: “Access” to health care, which is a right (apparently to be delivered by the market which, if you have not noticed, does not deliver rights). Lots of out-of-state money.

“Green Party Chaos” [The Trickle Up]. “[T]he Green Party sure has appeared as if it’s emulating the Democratic Party this time around. Even upon observation alone, it appeared to me that the Green Party somewhat effortlessly sorted the candidates into two groups. The ‘qualified’ groups and the ‘unqualified’ groups…. The GPUS has had a generally good reputation in regards to fairness of media coverage, ballot access, democratic elections, but the Green Party sent out an email on the 6th of October that they were going to remove a majority of the candidates off the official Green Party website, which plays a crucial factor in name-recognition for all the candidates. If someone was undecided and they saw that a candidate was up on the website one day and gone the next they’d assume that that candidate had either dropped out or that the candidate was beneath the ones that were still on the website. It’s rather bizarre considering primaries didn’t start until the Spring of 2020 and yet a majority of the Green Party candidates were getting essentially canceled on the 4th of November, well ahead of the primaries ensuring the obscurity of the second group of candidates . All seven candidates should’ve remained on the website until they drop out of the race or until the primaries have concluded. It’s important to note that Green Party co-chair Andrea Mérida Cuéllar is also serving as Howie Hawkins’ campaign manager, which is a complete conflict of interest and she should’ve at least stepped down or recuse herself from that role.” • I can’t vouch for the source, and as usual there’s little coverage of the GP, but I’ve seen other similar material on the Twitter…

Health Care

“No One Should Be Surprised That America Abandoned the Elderly to Die” [New York Magazine]. “As coronavirus carves through the elderly, it tells us something ugly about the high price of the American project. The prosperity it engenders is real but limited; it is exclusionary by design. Wealth flows upward, where it stays, and creates an inverted pyramid that bloats at the top then vanishes to a fine point at the bottom. Proper care for the elderly and for people with disabilities requires what some corporate executives might call a restructuring — an unpalatable task for those already at the top. Coronavirus lays the consequences bare. In the U.S. the elderly and the disabled aren’t quite unworthy of life, fit only for extermination. But they exist somewhere in the same hostile neighborhood. Life is expensive, which makes it a luxury. Whatever care we extend to the aged we consider a gift, or an act of charity, and not something we owe them because they exist.” • Yep.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Throw the Bums Out” [Alex Pareene, The New Republic]. “If Donald Trump loses in November, our political system’s last true believers will think that the system worked precisely as it is supposed to: It held him accountable. But this is an ongoing catastrophe of government as a whole. Every day brings a new reason to feel outraged or numbed by the scope of the disaster. We haven’t begun to grapple with the breadth of it. Governors, big-city mayors, public health officials, and congressional leaders should be resigning in disgrace, firing those responsible, groveling for forgiveness, or fleeing town under cover of night…. Americans have, this year, shown a heroic willingness to take to the streets in protest and riot. If they have not yet demanded accountability and consequences for the officials who presided over this unprecedented failure of the state, it might be because hardly anyone has real faith in the ability of their government—at the federal, state, county, or city level—to accomplish anything but policing and jailing people. That isn’t cynicism so much as resignation. We can elect a new president…. But to elect our way out of the debilitated and rotten political system that caused this outcome could be a project that takes generations, if it is possible at all. If you believe, fundamentally, in the American system, if you oppose radicalism from either side, you’d better hope that project is possible.” • Sparked by Cuomo’s mountain (of dead bodies) poster; see above.

UPDATE “The nation is in a downward spiral. Worse is still to come.” [George Will, WaPo]. Who knew, George Will is still alive: “This nation built the Empire State Building, groundbreaking to official opening, in 410 days during the Depression, and the Pentagon in 16 months during wartime. Today’s less serious nation is unable to competently combat a pandemic, or even reliably conduct elections. This is what national decline looks like.” • And on and on and on.

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“Compromise of 1877” [WikiPedia (sorry)]. “The Compromise of 1877 was an unwritten deal, informally arranged among U.S. Congressmen, that settled the intensely disputed 1876 presidential election. It resulted in the United States federal government pulling the last troops out of the South, and formally ending the Reconstruction Era. Through the Compromise, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was awarded the White House over Democrat Samuel J. Tilden on the understanding that Hayes would remove the federal troops whose support was essential for the survival of Republican state governments in South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana. The compromise involved Democrats who controlled the House of Representatives allowing the decision of the Electoral Commission to take effect.” More on the Electoral Commission: “Facing an unparalleled constitutional crisis and intense public pressure, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and the Republican-controlled Senate agreed to formation of the bipartisan Electoral Commission to settle the election.” • So, faced with a disputed 2020 election, Congress might set up a similar Commission (which — tinfoil hat time — would serve as a straw for the intelligence community and the national security goons, who alone have the technical capacity to adjudicated authoritatively on “foreign meddling” and “hacking”).

UPDATE “California rejected 100K mail-in ballots because of mistakes” [Associated Press]. “More than 100,000 mail-in ballots were rejected by California election officials during the March presidential primary, according to data obtained by The Associated Press that highlights a glaring gap in the state’s effort to ensure every vote is counted…. In preparation for November, the state is launching a ballot-tracking tool that will quickly alert voters if they need to take action, such as adding a missing signature. Another change: The state is extending the window for mail ballots to arrive to 17 days after Election Day.”

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.

Manufacturing: “June 2020 Headline Industrial Production Improves But Remains Deep In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say seasonally adjusted Industrial Production (IP) improved month-over-month – but remains deep in contraction year-over-year. Our analysis shows the three-month rolling average declined…. Note that manufacturing is in contraction year-over-year – but capacity utilization is in expansion year-over-year.”

Manufacturing: “July 2020 Empire State Manufacturing Index Significantly Improves” [Econintersect]. “The Empire State Manufacturing Survey index significantly improved and now is well into expansion… Key elements significantly improved – it seems the recession is over. Note that survey responses were collected between July 2 and July 9.” • A noisy survey (and see the COVID charts above).

Inflation: “June 2020 Import Year-over-Year Inflation Now -3.8%” [Econintersect]. “Year-over-year import price indices inflation remained in contraction and moved from 6.2 % to 3.8 %…. Fuel prices and agricultural exports increased this month.”

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The Bezzle: The sharing economy, remember that?

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 61 Greed (previous close: 61 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 52 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 15 at 12:25pm. Whoa, back to Greed!

The Biosphere

“Mystery over Universe’s expansion deepens with fresh data” [Nature]. “A new map of the early Universe has reinforced a long-running conundrum in astronomy over how fast the cosmos is expanding. The data — collected using a telescope in Chile’s Atacama Desert — back up previous estimates of the Universe’s age, geometry and evolution. But the findings clash with measurements of how fast galaxies are flying apart from each other, and predict that the Universe should be expanding at a significantly slower pace than is currently observed…. Many researchers had hoped that, as techniques became more accurate, the gap would shrink. Instead, narrowing error bars for each type of study have only made the inconsistency more significant.”

Health Care

Billionaires doing better than ever, health insurance companies rolling in dough — What’s not to like about this pandemic?

“First COVID-19 vaccine tested in US poised for final testing” [Associated Press]. “The first COVID-19 vaccine tested in the U.S. revved up people’s immune systems just the way scientists had hoped, researchers reported Tuesday — as the shots are poised to begin key final testing. ‘No matter how you slice this, this is good news,’ Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, told The Associated Press. The experimental vaccine, developed by Fauci’s colleagues at the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., will start its most important step around July 27: A 30,000-person study to prove if the shots really are strong enough to protect against the coronavirus.” • At least Fauci isn’t hyping a press release. Here is the NEJM article–

“An mRNA Vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 — Preliminary Report” [NEJM]. From the abstract: “After the first vaccination, antibody responses were higher with higher dose… After the second vaccination, serum-neutralizing activity was detected by two methods in all participants evaluated, with values generally similar to those in the upper half of the distribution of a panel of control convalescent serum specimens…. The mRNA-1273 vaccine induced anti–SARS-CoV-2 immune responses in all participants, and no trial-limiting safety concerns were identified. These findings support further development of this vaccine.”

“Hazmat Suits for Air Travel Are Here” [Bloomberg]. “Yezin Al-Qaysi says haute hazmats are just the thing to make flying feel safe again. In mid-April the co-founder of VYZR Technologies, a Toronto-based company specializing in personal protective gear, launched a new product called the BioVYZR via crowdfunding site Indiegogo. The $250, futuristic-looking outer layer resembles the top half of an astronaut’s uniform, with anti-fogging “windows” and a built-in hospital-grade air-purifying device. Paranoid flyers were quick to scoop it up, pre-ordering about 50,000 suits and raising $400,000 for the nascent company. The first batch is set to be delivered by the end of July…. Nobody, not even Al-Qaysi, knows how TSA officials or airline staff will react to the suit.” And the specs: “Constructed from silicone, neoprene, and vinyl, the BioVYZR weighs less than three pounds and is easy to disinfect and pack away between uses. A chest harness, currently available only in a general adult size and a general child size, sits on the shoulders; two adjustable side straps with buckles can be cinched around the waist, similar to those of a life jacket. An upgrade from the standard face shield, the suit’s tightly-sealed, anti-fogging helmet has two peripheral windows for optimal visibility.” • Interesting!

“Where to Buy Face Masks Right Now (Updated)” [GQ (LawnDart)]. “We’re no longer in the phase of the pandemic where, due to low mask supplies, your only option is to grab a bandana. There are now enough companies making face masks that you’ll almost certainly be able to grab something functional and stylish enough that you won’t mind wearing it. (Looks, of course, are a secondary concern. If a bandana’s what you’ve got, a bandana’s what you’ve got. If you’re really jonesing to exercise your creativity in quarantine, ask one of these 24 certified quar geniuses.)”

The Conservatory

“Lady Gaga Dethrones Bad Bunny as the World’s Biggest Pop Star” [Bloomberg]. “Gaga was the biggest pop star in the world this past month, according to Bloomberg’s Pop Star Power Rankings, dethroning Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny after a three-month run. Gaga surged to the top thanks to interest in her new record “Chromatica,” which was the best-selling album in the U.S. this past month. Gaga sold more than 400,000 copies in a month when no other artist topped 300,000. Its lead singles “Stupid Love” and “Rain on Me” lifted Gaga on Spotify, where she was the most-listened-to artist in June, as well as on YouTube, where her videos racked up more than 188 million views (fifth most). “Chromatica” is Gaga’s first proper dance record in almost a decade, and her first true streaming breakthrough as a solo artist.” • Really putting this here because I had no idea who “Bad Bunny” was. Kids these days and their music! Also, K-Pop.

Games

I don’t know if dadification is “Dad” or “Dada”:

Whatever, get away from the screen and out of the house:

MMT

“The Money Printers” [The Bafffler]. “Kelton went on to become an adviser to Sanders in his presidential campaign of 2016, and then on his recent campaign for the 2020 nomination. Again, she saw the realities of how America’s finances are discussed in the political spotlight. Time after time, Sanders would be asked how he planned to finance ambitious reforms such as a Medicare for All system. He always noted that in the wealthiest nation on earth, such goals can be attained. Yet he never came out with a direct endorsement of MMT. He didn’t want to scare the public by seeming cavalier about deficit spending. As Kelton notes, Sanders at times ‘has echoed Reagan.'” • Yep.

Class Warfare

“Covid Conversations With One of America’s Richest Men [Bloomberg]. “Someone nearby called him [my billionaire] to dinner. He said he’d have to go soon. I asked whether he thought it was fair for the richest to keep getting richer. ‘I don’t know,’ he said. ‘Is war fair? Do people die in a war? Yes. You’ve got a virus that is affecting people. It’s pretty clear who it affects.’ He meant people who were old and sick*. ‘So nature is saying, ‘I’m going to pick on you.’ Is it fair? Is it right? No.’ His voice was as steady and calm as ever. ‘But that’s life.'” And: “You want to change the system? I get that. You want to break the system? You better win. Because, if you don’t, the system is going to break you.” • Must read, in its entirety. NOTE * No, he means working class people, especially Black and Latin, as well as the old and sick ffs. I’m sure the billionaire knows that, even if the reporter does not.

“Shipt workers to strike over shift to opaque pay structure” [The Hill]. “Workers for the Target-owned grocery delivery service Shipt are striking Wednesday in protest of the company rolling out a less transparent payment structure nationwide. xThe walk-off will coincide with the day that the new pay model will take effect in 12 metro areas, including Chicago, Tampa, Richmond, Va., and Portland, Ore. Shipt shoppers are raising alarm over the change, which they say would likely reduce shopper pay by at least 30 percent based on a similar pay shift that occurred at the end of 2019. While Shipt previously had a simple model for calculating payouts — a 7.5 percent commission on all orders plus $5 — the model, dubbed V2, rolled out in some markets last year doles out pay based on a black box algorithm.”

“How the Largest Known Homeless Encampment in Minneapolis History Came To Be” [The Appeal]. “The current escalation of the homelessness crisis in Minneapolis is overlapping not just with the pandemic but also with intense protests around policing and racism. Despite making up roughly 14 percent of Hennepin County’s population, Black people represent 65 percent of those living in its homeless shelters, and 49 percent of homeless adults living in the county overall. While a dearth of affordable housing is certainly contributing to the crisis, the lack of wealth in Black and Native communities—the result of being shut out for centuries from wealth accumulation opportunities—is another main driver. Minneapolis has one of the largest racial income gaps in the country, and Black homeownership in the city stands at one-third the rate of white families. Some federal funds flow to tribal governments, but the majority gets spent on reservation life, despite the fact that most Natives now live in cities. One resulting consequence is that in times of need, when Black and Native individuals turn to their family and friends for help, many of their social networks struggle to absorb the added financial pressure in ways white communities more easily can. Researchers found that people of color “are not unwilling to double up, take people in, or live in another person’s home—but they do not have the capacity to accommodate the additional consumption of resources” like food and household goods. “That, in turn, strains relationships.” Less wealth means less ability to weather unexpected financial emergencies.”

News of the Wired

2020 midway:

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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 (KP):

KP writes: “Some ‘shrooms I saw on a walk in some woods in Hillsborough, NC. No idea what kind they were but I ate one and solved every problem in the universe.” Don’t try this at home!

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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.

160 comments

  1. Bill Carson

    Regarding abandoning the elderly to die, one of the worst things about the COVID-19 restrictions is the forced isolation of elderly residents of nursing homes. I have a friend whose father was in a nursing home. When the lock downs went in place, she was prohibited from visiting him, and her last visit in March would be the last time she saw him in person alive. She was allowed facetime-type visits, but it wasn’t the same.

    The man was doing okay, but then about two weeks ago, my friend was informed that her father had started to develop symptoms consistent with COVID. A few days later, his test came back positive. He was soon transferred to the hospital; then after only a few days he was transferred again, this time to hospice. My friend wasn’t allowed to visit her father in the hospital or even at hospice. He died last week.

    Folks, this is atrocious. I understand there are risks involved in allowing family visits, but nursing home workers are allowed to go home every night and come home the next day. Why can’t we find a way for visitors to be treated the same way? The isolation experienced by often-times confused patients amounts to cruelty.

    Reply
    1. MK

      Even just a plexiglass enclosed visiting room that allows you to see and talk, kinda like prisoners are allowed.

      Reply
      1. Tom Doak

        There is a nursing home a few blocks from my house, which we go past regularly on walks now. I’d never noticed before but they have a patio out in back with a chain link fence to keep the residents from going walkabout . . . but this has also allowed family to come stand at the other side of the fence to visit.

        Reply
    2. D. Fuller

      In America, one’s value to society – as Capitalists define such – is determined by how much one earns, spends, and can take on debt to repay. The less of all three? The less one is worth in American society.

      These are the defining characteristics of one’s value in American society.

      Reply
      1. Billy

        Turn the system you grimly described against itself!
        Older people should slowly and methodically build up their credit, then make sure that they owe a LOT when they go into a nursing home.
        Would that make them more valuable?

        “Well, if you don’t extend my credit to pay for this nursing home, I guess your card will never see any of the debt repayments I’m going to parcel out.”

        A friend’s father died of cancer some years ago. He made sure to buy all the building supplies and useful items that his kids’ families needed. When he went, he owed a large sum to credit card companies. His instructions in his will; “Cash out my bank accounts as soon as you get a death certificate and whatever you can and don’t pay them a cent.”

        Note: When someone dies, get a lot of death certificates, like ten of them, they are cheap at the time and the originals will be all that’s accepted for various estate clearing things.

        Reply
        1. D. Fuller

          Many States allow that the deceased’s debt is collectible from the estate. IIRC, depending upon the type of debt, some States allow collections from immediate relatives – don’t quote me on this as this practice is arcane. One way that the wealthy get around this is to transfer assets to children or other relatives, before warehousing their elderly relatives.

          The US really is against most people, while the well-to-do WealthCare class reap the benefits.

          Reply
        2. Procopius

          I remember an old proverb, don’t know if it was Scottish or not, “Always owe somebody money. That way you can be sure you’ll always have someone praying you have a long life.”

          Reply
    3. JohnnySacks

      How many stories like this out there? Sister in law had same exact issue and her mother was cognitively impaired – no idea why nobody was visiting her anymore.

      Reply
    4. Schmoe

      The nursing home my father was in did not allow visits, nor even allow residents to leave their rooms. My dad passed a month before Covid hit the US at the age of 93. We had no idea who fortunate he was to pass when he did. My sister lives very close by and was trying to volunteer, otherwise I would not have known about the lockdown.

      Reply
  2. Jason Boxman

    I wonder how much of a cut AirBnb takes from the contribution? I guess you can’t have much of a platform if most of your users are de-platformed because they lose their houses to foreclosure.

    Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          It’s worth reading in full (and clearing your cookies to do so; most modern browsers allow you to clear cookies containing e.g. “Bloom” and so you don’t have to worry about blowing away cookies or login information that you want to save).

          It’s an especially useful article because it tracks the billionaire’s thinking as the pandemic evolves, starting IIRC in February; the reporter periodically checks in.

          This is what we’re dealing with; the country is optimized for this class of people, of whom Trump is one (which is why Trump is, in his own way, so pure).

          Reply
          1. .Tom

            Ahh, cookies. I have a Firefox add-on called Cookie AutoDelete. It deletes session cookies about 30 seconds after I close a tab. That probably explains why I had no difficulty.

            Reply
      1. diptherio

        I hear ya. It’s why I’ve got Opera installed as well as Firefox. I turn on the built in VPN and get a few more free articles out of Bloomberg.

        Reply
          1. Jason Boxman

            I cannot recommend Opera anymore. It was bought by a shady company, and I found it was sending data (what I have no idea) to Facebook according to Facebook’s privacy check up or whatever web page.

            Granted, I’d been using Opera Link to sync my passwords, so I was probably asking for it. But nonetheless.

            I’ve switched to Vivaldi, developed by the team that fled Opera once it went south. It’s solid and I don’t regret it in the least.

            And there are so many VPN providers, anymore, that are quite inexpensive, that using Opera for that isn’t necessary.

            Reply
          2. JWP

            Brave has been working great as the primary browser with Firefox as a backup. Its speed is really impressive for the amount of ad/tracker blocking they do.

            Reply
    1. clarky90

      .”… I asked whether he thought it was fair for the richest to keep getting richer. ‘I don’t know,’ he said. ‘Is war fair? Do people die in a war? Yes……”

      Waging war against us…..

      I see the 0.001% using the mechanism of MMT, in order to create infinite digital money, BUT only for themselves.

      They are literally (as we speak), using MMT to buy up everything in the world.

      What is the value of $1,000,000,000,000,000,000? – If it as easy for the Fed to create, as it just was, for me to pick out on my tiny keyboard? Press “enter” ……

      https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/kotlikoff/2019/01/09/holding-u-s-treasuries-beware-uncle-sam-cant-account-for-21-trillion/amp/

      Reply
    2. cnchal

      The billionaire saw Trump as a buffoon, and yet he mostly agreed with what the president was saying about the virus. “If people aren’t going to work, it’s a depression. Trump isn’t wrong. He just doesn’t know how to explain it,” the billionaire said. He took a stab at putting it succinctly: “Do you want to end up losing your life savings so that the old person you don’t know can live?

      I asked if he intended to say that Americans were going to have to die to save the economy. Public health and private profit were at odds, he answered, and one was going to win out. “By focusing on the economy, a lot of people are going to get sick. And if we focus on public health, a lot of people are going to lose their jobs,” he said. “I know which way it’s going to end, but you can’t say it. You sound insensitive. In today’s world, everybody’s going to attack you.”

      Sauron says, your money and your life. Choose wisely.

      I know which way it’s going to end. Public health and private profits are inseperable. The FED can levitate the stawk market all it wants, or shovel money directly into the phucker’s pocket, or buy every piece of garbage debt these criminals offload to the most non discerning buyer on the planet, and none of it will help save their precious system of financial rape and pillage of the peasants as they are dying from this virus.

      The US is a boiling cauldron of covid19 infections now, and I see it becoming much worse as time goes on. The worse it gets, the worse the economy gets. It is delusional to separate the two.

      Reply
  3. Toshiro_Mifune

    I don’t know if dadification is “Dad” or “Dada

    These types of games have been around for a while now… at least 10 years. Varying forms of “simulator” that simulate actual jobs (car mechanic, gunsmithing, PC building, landscaping etc).
    It’s like we’ve built a virtual space recreating jobs to mourn their loss since far too many of us now have some sort of office job really involves only jockeying Excel.
    There’s similar in reality TV; Ice Road Truckers, those Alaskan fishing shows, Dirty Jobs, even that wave of Chopper motorcycles builders from 15 years ago. All actual physical work.
    About 12 years ago my brother was having a 1st birthday party for my nephew. There was a whole bunch of people there i didn’t know so everyone was talking about their work. “Blah blah blah, office job, etc. etc. etc. office job”. One of the other dads there built custom furniture and i don’t think I’ve ever so tangibly felt envy of someone else’s occupation. It was real work.

    Reply
    1. Toshiro_Mifune

      I should add; Yes, I understand that in the above I am adopting an (at least tacit) Essentialist view of masculinity that defines men via their jobs and only jobs that involve physical labor. I’m still envious of the furniture making guy though.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        The pressure washer “game” puts me in mind of it being a new category: “First Person Cleaner.”
        The woodworking game could be considered as being a tutorial, with built in practice sessions. Air pilots use virtual simulators to practice and learn. Why not other jobs?

        Reply
          1. ambrit

            Just wow.
            The older I get, the more I know that I know nothing.
            When I think that I’ve come up with something ‘good,’ no response. This idea I considered one of my lesser efforts, and it goes over well. If nothing else, today’s “Water Cooler Experience” is a lesson to me in humility.
            (Thanks for the edification. Phyl often tells me to learn to accept yes as an answer.)
            These “games” are designed, supposedly to induce calm and promote equanimity.
            As such, these can be referred to as Zen Apps, or ‘Zapps’ for short. (Brings to mind the meditation leader wandering around the ‘classroom’ with the stick in his hand. [Why do I think of Zen Masters as men? Surely there must be female Zen Mistresses.])

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              This might show just how whacked my mind is right now, but for a moment, I thought that tweet was about dads and Dadaism… considering just how whacked the whole world is, this would be the time for the rise of the Neo-Dada movement.

              Certainly it would better than the nihilistic, anti-humanistic, anti-humane disease that has infected the thoughts and feelings of the acolytes of Neo-Liberal political economy, Post-Modernist art, and philosophy. Note, I am not commenting on just how true or accurate, certainly not how valuable, they are, but how darkly cynical, pessimistic, and hollow current thought, or perhaps better said the ideas, have become.

              I can even include science to some level. Some have elevated science to religion and not a set of tools or even a philosophy of sorts with a preceived a priori set of beliefs and conclusions instead of an a posteriari set of beliefs and conclusions.

              Thinking on this, I think that Neo-Liberalism and Identity Politics have become a philosophy, maybe even a sort of religion, created from a set of a priori conclusions and beliefs. They have become much how like Marxism for far too many went from a set of tools to describe, analyze and explain political economy, became a de facto religion which justified horrible things.

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                I wondered about Dadaism too.
                We need someone from the West Wing School of ‘infotainment’ to make a new political thriller show. Call it, say, “Obo Roi.”
                The real breakthrough of the Trump Administration is it’s brazen advocacy of “Performative Politics.” As with his earlier foray into Kayfabe, Trump has made the hollow centre of the political Easter Bunny the point.
                As shown by the Stealth Campaign of “Creepy” Joe Biden on the Democrat side of the scripted affray, all ‘sides’ of the American Political Class now agree and conspire to elevate vacuous posturing to the status of policy. Caesar has become Bread and Circuses. The Public Good is now an orphan, destined for the workhouse or the brothel.

                Reply
                1. JBird4049

                  Hey, thanks for the comment. I agree that politics is pretty much all kayfabe now, with the wealthy via lobbyists paying the artists for their performances.

                  I am baffled by “Obo Roi.” Roi would be king, I think, but that’s all I know.

                  Reply
                    1. ambrit

                      Yes, indeed o fragrant one! (Phyllis just hit me on the back of my head. Ouch! Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!)
                      I love Jarry. His sensibility will be very useful in navigating the mobile minefields confronting us.
                      Indeed, it is self evident that “Pataphysics” is the base philosophy of the present Oligarchs.
                      Pataphysics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%27Pataphysics

                    2. JBird4049

                      ambrit, I just read the entries on Pataphysics and Jarry in Wikipedia. Thanks. I never even heard of either until today. TPTB could be followers. It would explain somethings.

          2. Hepativore

            I have an idea for a game…there is a surprisingly fun flash-based game called Mud and Blood 2 which is like a cross between a World War II defense game and a sandbox game. You basically put together a squad of soldiers and equipment using resources (tactical points) that you get for surviving each wave of German attacks. Your enemies range from soldiers, artillery pieces, tanks, to even aircraft and bombing attacks.

            The game is completely randomized. The objective is to see how many waves you can survive, and the game is notoriously unfair with what it decides to throw at you or some of the spirals of bad luck you find yourself in.

            Anyway, what if you had a workplace simulator based on the same principles? It would be closer to what modern workplaces are like now. You would have a counter showing how many weeks you have been at your job and your job would throw random events at you that you had to overcome like your boss being in a bad mood which would make it more likely to be reprimanded or lose your job, random headcount reductions, forced stack ranking events, changes in bosses, unpaid overtime, surviving company gossip, etc. all the while trying to be promoted, get raises, or just simply be employed as long as you can.

            Finally, there might even be a risky maneuver in the game where you could try and start a union, which while successful would shield you from a lot of unfair events but if you are found out before it is in place, it would be an instant game over as you would be terminated on the spot by your superiors.

            Reply
            1. Iowan X

              I learned of this a few months into quarantine, but didn’t know the category! Somebody recommended the “Just Mowing” game for my I-Phone, I got it, and that’s the game, in its entirety. I thought it was a crack-up. Cutting lawns of progressively more ostentatious houses. Riding lawnmower, of course.

              Reply
          3. Justin time

            The next step is to connect these gamers to a bunch of remotely controlled robot vacuums. We may have to stop calling the robots “smart” though.

            Reply
        1. aleph_0

          Super Mario Sunshine and Okami, although not first person, are by far my favorite games about cleaning…

          We’re getting the Dadification, but I feel like they’re forgetting to make the games fun. I’ve always wondered if it’s a weird twitch.tv niche that’s getting over-catered to. Although a friend of mine does unironically put hundreds of hours into farming simulator.

          Reply
      2. Amfortas the hippie

        i don’t think it’s essentialist, at all…nor necessarily about “masculinity”.
        my brother(one of the least “masculine” people i know) works in an office, selling upgrades to some kind of big corporate “enterprise” software(lol…i really have no clue)…and when he calls, and asks about what i’ve been up to, he admits readily that he’s envious.
        not because his job is perceived as somehow “feminine”, but because it’s abstract to the point of absurdity.
        (which is why i have no clue just what it is he sells, although it’s a multibillion dollar multinational)

        and here i am, shoveling chicken shit, hoeing weeds, cutting firewood, chasing barnyard fowl , defending against coyotes….and getting real, more or less immediate results from those efforts…and getting filthy in the process, and decidedly NOT requiring a gym membership to keep my figger,lol.
        and i have no need of a tie,a clean shirt(or a shirt at all), a haircut, a razor, or even a bath if i’m not in the mood.
        add in the intimate connectivity with Mother Nature at every turn.

        Modern Worklife is lacking a lot of stuff that is maybe important for human wellbeing. …not least, a sense of purpose in one’s work.
        his wife has a part time job at the YMCA(at least she did before all this…now, she’s repainted the entire inside of the house,lol)…just to have something to do…. and their household income is at least 4 times what ours is…but which one of us is the richer?
        your furniture guy produces something tangible and useful, and immediately appreciated as such…without having to get out a whiteboard to explain how and why it is so.

        I get that there’s important things that get figured out in many office type settings…but I’m reminded of Graeber’s “Bullshit Jobs”. For all the $$ my brother makes for doing whatever it is he does(and he’s constantly at it, too…i have to ban him carrying his phone when he’s up here), there’s something missing.

        hell, he gets sort of misty eyed when he comes up here and gets to pee off the porch,lol.

        Reply
        1. RMO

          @Amfortas: When my wife and I first house-sat for friends who have a few acres, some chickens, geese, ducks and a large vegetable garden I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed the work. I’m not a morning person and I grew up and live in the suburbs but to my shock and delight I found I loved getting up at dawn and heading out to take care of the chores (with a big beautiful sweetheart of a German Shepherd by my side). Even when the work was hard it wasn’t exhausting in the way so many “real” jobs are. We’ve taken care of their place many times since then and the appeal hasn’t diminished. Our plan for the future involves moving to a more rural area and having a similar setup to what our friends have. We have a few areas in mind.

          Reply
        2. ddt

          This. I gave up farm life for an office job and though I make many times more and may have achieved a somewhat comfortable life, it feels like I’ve sold my soul and lived a poorer life for that choice.

          Reply
    2. occasional anonymous

      You’re reading waaaaaay too much into this. Most of these ‘simulators’ are very simplistic approximations of the real thing with very game-y mechanics, and some of them are outright farce (Surgeon Simulator, Job Simulator). For the ones that are genuine attempts to recreate something, the draw is that you can do something either much more cheaply and quickly virtually, or do something you could never do in reality at all (most car mechanics will never get the chance to work on a Bentley or Maserati).

      Reply
  4. allan

    COVID-19 screening strategies that permit the safe re-opening of college campuses [medRxiv]

    A preprint from last week, apologies if it has already been linked to.

    Bottom line: a huge difference in outcomes between testing twice a week vs. just once a week,
    even if the test is only 70% sensitive. Unless testing czar Baghdad Brett Giroir can convert his
    his claim of 100 million tests per month by September from vaporware to reality,
    it’s hard to imagine colleges opening up, much less K-12.

    Reply
      1. allan

        And I missed a key assumption:

        We assumed that after a lag of 8 hours, individuals receiving a positive test result
        (true or false) and those exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 were moved
        from the general population to an “isolation dormitory” where their infection was confirmed,
        where they were treated with supportive care,
        and from which no further transmissions were possible.

        8 hours.

        Assume rational economic agents with perfect information a test with 70% sensitivity, 98% specificity,
        and an 8 hour turnaround time, delivered in a cost effective manner to 3 million students
        at 4,000 residential colleges every 2-3 days.

        Reply
    1. ptb

      Last I heard, the plan at the school at the top of the hill, is a 2 week quarantine for incoming students, with testing at the beginning and end of it. To me that sounds like yet another version of the herd immunity strategy, but we shall find out very soon. This is especially because it seems all the “fast” and point-of-care test technologies have sensitivity issues – false-positives. The opposite would be better if the goal is to isolate a small number of infected individuals from a large number of non-infected ones, as is the case with the incoming students scenario.

      Anyway, 100MM/mo = 3MM/day. This is similar to China’s testing capacity, but China did a tremendous job organizing the grouped sample strategy. Also, the grouped sample concept makes more sense in the needle-in-a-haystack scenario found there. It is less good if, say, 10% of samples are positive, since that will cause pretty much every other group of samples to light up. The factor by which the number of tests are reduced would then become small (low single digit), but you still pay the sensitivity penalty of diluting everything.

      As for the 100 million per month quote – I think the figure was inflated, but the general plan was put in place in around May, with the various manufacturing ramp-up projects scheduled to deliver whatever they’re delivering and begin a very (very very very very) abbreviated qualification phase, in the end-of-august time frame. We’re talking cutting what is normally a 6-12 month process designed to shake out any bugs in the design/build of the manufacturing process (not even talking about the design of the product), and compress it into a couple of weeks. It most certainly can be done. I’m just not sure if I would trust our corporate environment to generate the necessary good faith / trust in counterparties, to successfully cut all the corners that need to be cut, without train-wrecking the chain of events that needs to happen to still have it work properly. What I’ve personally seen is not entirely encouraging, although I have to say, they are making a genuine effort of it — in the one corner of the industry I can observe.

      I am glad they are assuming a less-than-perfect product, i.e. 70% sensitivity, for the purposes of planning an operations strategy. That is what needs to be done.

      Reply
      1. Cuibono

        have sensitivity issues – false-positives

        umm that would be false negatives
        False positives arise with specificity issues

        Reply
    2. Robert E Most, MD

      Why shouldn’t K-12 open up??
      I realize that we need to protect the older teachers. They might need to do remote teaching/tutoring.
      Middle aged teachers could take hydroxychloroquine preventively – or just wing it and get treated quickly if they develop fever.
      Kids should just go to school as normal, no masks.

      I hope you’re not swallowing the propaganda pills.

      Reply
  5. Tom Doak

    I caught a snippet of NPR in the car today, doing a short story on tax day, expressing concern about the delays in the government receiving tax income, and all of the spending that had been required by the pandemic. They didn’t quite come out and say “We’re going to run out of money,” but that was certainly the implication, and they seemed to be talking about the Federal government instead of the states.

    Are Bowles and Simpson on the board of NPR?

    Reply
    1. Keith

      We already ran out of money. Haven’t you seen all the signs requiring exact change or pay by card. Heck, even Kroger brands and Walmart are getting into the act.

      Reply
      1. edmondo

        I’ve been meaning to comment on that coin shortage story. It seems that – because I have been dutifully dumping all my spare change into a jar for the last 50 years or so – that I am personally responsible for the coin shortage. I will drop off a few hundred jars of change by the end of the day. Sorry for any inconvenience.

        Reply
  6. William Hunter Duncan

    “Readers, Happy Belated Tax Day! Taxes are the price we pay for fiat currency, as Oliver Wendell Holmes did not quite say. –Lambert”

    Taxes is also what we working people pay because it was decided for us that corporations and wealthy elite would not pay taxes or very few taxes for automation and AI replacing jobs, pollution, consolidation or oligopoly or monopoly, off-shoring or rentier income – and of course for bailouts every time the economy falters, for all those who get rich socializing loses and making for ecological destruction, so they can get richer and control more of the economy and destroy more stuff.

    Reply
  7. GF

    “UnitedHealth reports massive earnings from operations of $9.2 billion in Q2 as fewer people use care. The percent of premiums going to medical costs declined from 83.1% to 70.2%”

    Does that mean premiums will drop?

    Reply
    1. Tom Doak

      They are only allowed to use 20% of their premiums for administrative purposes under the ACA, so if that number held up for all four quarters, they would have to refund policyholders 10% of their premiums.

      The chart also showed that they made 10.7% net margin AFTER administrative costs, so .107 * 9.1 billion = $987 million that could have been saved JUST FROM UNITED HEALTHCARE via Medicare for All, in the second quarter of 2020.

      Reply
      1. Bill Carson

        The thing I find troubling about the 20% administrative cap is that it almost works like a “cost plus 25%” scheme. There’s no incentive to lower healthcare spending because lower spending reduces the administrative share of revenue, while higher spending expands the administrative share.

        CEO and executive salaries, of course, come out of the 20% administrative share, so if the CEO wants a raise, he needs for healthcare spending overall to increase. What a perverse incentive system!

        Reply
          1. Felix_47

            Actually they get the premium float as well to speculate and invest. I would guess they buy back a lot of stock as well to juice earnings using the float.

            Reply
  8. Mark Gisleson

    Saw Bad Bunny mentioned for the first time a month ago, downloaded his discography. I do not think anyone at Naked Capitalism is missing anything here unless some of you are really into autotuned vocals (some in English, some Spanish all autotuned). Some creativity but of the ‘stealing from lesser known artists’ variety.

    I am perpetually amazed at how the recording labels continue to dominate the world music scene. Increasingly everything interesting is self-released or on a label that encourages sharing. On the rare occasions I download ‘popular’ music all I get is tired beats and lyrics dressed up with electronic effects.

    Reply
    1. Geo

      While pop music has always been derivative and mediocre at best, the amount of over-production which sucks any personality and originality from the art form in music has reached a peak at this point. Add to that the way streaming services basically hide smaller artists from listeners, the music scene has become barren for artists trying to make interesting music.

      Bandcamp is really the only platform right now that is worth supporting. The others are the equivalent of Uber for music.

      Reply
    2. Bugs Bunny

      New Jessie Ware album is really good – that’s pop music. Carly Rae Jepsen is also really listenable. No autotune. Lots of great electronic music out there. Check out Resident Advisor. Pitchfork used to be great in the early days but now it’s Conde Nast but at least they’re reviewing Jazz. Last year I was really into Priests, saw them in a bar in Paris and then the broke up. And Grimes…is actually very very good.

      Reply
    3. CanChemist

      Bad Bunny is part of a group of latin singers that have become internationally famous, as latin music has become global. It’s ‘pop’ in that sense, but technically the genre is reggaeton. If you look up J Balvin he’s even more famous and is actually one of the most viewed artists on Youtube. He views it as a point of patriotism to sing only in Spanish (he is Colombian) which is why many anglophone people have never heard of him.

      Reply
    4. hunkerdown

      Well, it is meant to be a manufactured product, designed to stimulate people and obstruct clear thinking about conditions. An acquired taste for particular forms of sonic irritation is part of the “innovation”, and also serves the neoliberals’ purpose of making it painful for intergenerational values transfer to take place outside the market.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        well.
        i think i’ll take a walk around the perimeter.
        That is truly depressing.
        More so, because i agree,lol.

        Thankfully, i managed to hook my boys on everything from Mozart to Meatloaf to Olatunji to Miles Davis to Leon Redbone…. Although 80’s rock is currently in fashion(lots of Nightranger and Cheap Trick), which is both worrisome, as well as somewhat triggering.

        Reply
  9. Glen

    I am amazed at the apparently endless parade of right wing talking heads now bitterly complaint about what the country has become. WTF? They worked their whole life to create this! How can they not love it?

    George Will, Bill Kryistol, etc. What a bunch of snowflakes.

    This is Ronald Reagan’s America. Trump is the perfect Republican. Don’t like it? Yearning to Make America Great Again? Too bad, that’s FDR’s New Deal America. They spent forty years DESTROYING that. It’s gone

    Reply
    1. KevinD

      Read earlier today where Coronavirus hospital data will now be sent to the Trump administration instead of CDC…looks like it might just “go away soon” now after all!!

      I get a ball of ice in my stomach every time I think about it.

      Reply
      1. albrt

        I can’t muster a ball of ice anymore.

        Donald Trump is the worst guy in history, so all the people opposed to Donald Trump got together and the best they could come up with was Joe Biden.

        I feel bad when the US government kills people from other countries who didn’t have a vote, but given who Americans vote for, is killing off Americans that bad? As the lady with the silver glove in Repo Man said, nobody is innocent. I mean, really, the world needs fewer people. Americans should probably be first in line.

        Reply
    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      The public good is not simply an aggregation of private goods. The private good monopolists have their way and make serious bank. At first it appears to work. But then the tail risk they studiously ignored suddenly happens and they lose it all. It’s a long wait, but I’m a patient man.

      Reply
    3. Lost in OR

      Glen, are you intentionally shorting “liberals”? You make it sound as if Slick Willie and the Big O had nothing to contribute. And what of Pelosi, Schumer, et al? Credit where credit is due. This has been a bipartisan effort. This is NOT left-right… This IS top-down.

      Reply
      1. Glen

        You are correct, let’s not forget the Democratic party since Bill Clinton. The Republicans certainly tried to destroy the New Deal, but it took the neoliberal Democrats to stick a fork in it, kill it, and declare TINA!

        Which is why I will never vote for Biden.

        Reply
        1. Glen

          Obama most notably. He was elected to put a stop to this, but normalized it, and told everyone to accept it and go home.

          He can put his library in the deepest pits of hell where it will be studied by scholars as a master work in how to be the more EFFECTIVE evil.

          Reply
          1. Lost in OR

            Indeed. Democrats are most evil for their duplicity. Fake left, drive right. O was elected for the same reasons Trump was. Change. If O had just failed us that would be one thing. But really, he deceived us, and that’s way worse. In my mind, an order of magnitude worse.

            And so we’re left with Biden. I despise him before he’s even taken office. More so than Trump even. Duplicity in the flesh. In my face. God help us all.

            As I say in comments below, prepare for system failure. This BS is unsustainable. Like it or not, we’re going down.

            Dang, I hate this downer feeling. I’m thankful for the mentions of the disconnect like this in the Rising today and elsewhere. Because otherwise, I just feel lost. Alone. We’re in trouble.

            Reply
            1. Lost in Or

              And now I’m laughing at my own dismay. I’ve been waiting for this disruption for a long, long time. Change is happening. All construction requires destruction. Brave new world… here we come.

              Woohoo!

              Am I more nuts than allyaall? Probly.

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                No, you are not more “nuts” than the rest of us.
                “We,” as in the non-ten percent, have been ‘in trouble’ for a long time. Now, we are getting ready to ‘bring’ the trouble to the ten percent. That is the feeling.

                Reply
              2. Henry Moon Pie

                Don’t change before the Empire falls.
                You’ll laugh so hard, you’ll crack the walls.

                Grace Slick, “Greasy Heart”

                I’ve been waiting 50+ years. Is this it? I’m feeling optimistic. After all, a football team I’d been waiting on to make the Super Bowl again finally won it in the Last Super Bowl.

                Reply
    4. flora

      I like reading Will and Charen and Buchanan. It’s like reading Krugman in mirror image: they name the problems correctly but miss or will not name the causes. Problems are the fault of T, not the neoliberal ideology – everything for ‘the ‘market’, workers are expendable – that’s taken over of both parties. They both bolster the reigning ideology even for the ‘other side’ by saying things like ‘there was no corruption in the Iowa caucus (Will) only incompetence.’ Krugman often returns the favor.

      Thanks for the link.

      Reply
  10. a different chris

    >UnitedHealth reports massive earnings from operations of $9.2 billion

    Many other insurance companies (homeowners and auto) are sending us checks back because they are saving so much money. Being a cynic, I suspect they aren’t sending it all back but it’s something.

    But Big Med? Not that I’ve heard.

    My uninformed theory about US Medicine: A lot of doctors become doctors because it is prestigious. A number do it because they want to help people. Since the “help people” ones are decently paid, and that’s what they want to focus on, the “prestige” ones wind up doing the management part.

    The “prestige” ones like money, useful (Mercedes, big house) so everybody can see they are successful and they can preen away. Now that they are management they bring everybody’s income up, but their own at a slightly faster rate. There is no, and cannot be, any free-market competition in medicine for reasons everybody who has broken a bone knows, so there isn’t any check on this. Making actual useful doctors richer puts in some much-needed camouflage, racking up the cost of medical school also helps “hey it’s expensive to become and important to properly pay a good doctor”.

    Finally this group noticed kindred spirits in finance, so some of them have been welcomed into the group, stepping right on top of the actual doctors without even the pretend stage. And of course the “ïnsurance” wing of the whole thing doesn’t even need the pretense of a medical education to slop at the trough.

    And here we are. Go USA!

    Reply
  11. jr

    “Mystery over Universe’s expansion deepens with fresh data”

    I kind of cheer when I read stuff like this, not only because the quest for scientific knowledge is a wondrous journey (when it’s not used to kill people) but because it gives the scientism-ists a gentle reminder that we have not yet arrived at the end of the road in scientific knowledge. I wonder if there is an end to the road, or as Dr. Manhattan said “…nothing ever ends.” There are two ways to look at it. One way I like to think of science is as looking through a kaleidoscope, you see an image, patterns of images, and how those patterns interrelate. As you study it, no because you study it, it twists and some things blur a bit while others come into sharper relief. You study that and it twists again. These are scientific paradigms, materialism is the current one, as we study it it twists. Ideas mutate in reaction to new information, complexes of ideas shift one way or another, these seismic rumblings eventually reach the surface as a new “grand” perspective. Eventually that shifts as well, new colors and patterns form, but there is no “progressing” anywhere. All is contained within the Kaleidoscope.

    Then there is another dynamic, more linear than the paradigm above because it is at a much smaller level of focus although to be clear when you look at it closely it’s still quite rambling and stop n go. Here we can talk of “progress” and draw a “map” of where we’ve been and where we are going. In the short term, to be clear. This is the realm of technological advances and intra-paradigm developments, both of are destined to upset that paradigm.

    I’ve often heard it expressed, here and in other places, that modern science need philosophical interpretations or criticisms. This is incorrect, in an immediate way in that all scientific theories contain assumptions, even contradictions:

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/972039.Re_Engineering_Philosophy_for_Limited_Beings

    It’s been a while since I’ve read it so I don’t know if I agree with it’s conclusions anymore, but it does lay out concrete examples of philosophy at work in science in an immediate sense. One that springs back to mind was a discussion of Hamiltonian “fields”:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamiltonian_(quantum_mechanics)

    It’s been too many years and too many beers to dredge it back up but my takeaway was that the “field” theory relies on assumptions to work. Those conceptualizations of those assumptions are open to philosophical criticism.

    There is the other level of magnification and there philosophy has a job as well, the level of the paradigm. In fact, the paradigm is a philosophy, any paradigm is because it too must make assumptions, meta-assumptions, ontological assumptions, in order to work, to move forward. You have to stake a claim somewhere but when you do you find you have also taken a position in a much larger process. There is interplay between these two levels of focus, maybe there are levels that could be teased out.

    So I try to keep two things in mind when I read a scientific article about some discovery or theory. There is the immediate aspect of science, with it’s internal logic so to speak and a relatively linear perspective, and the scientific paradigm which shapes that internal logic but is in turned shaped by it as it slowly but steadily “twists the kaleidoscope.”

    Reply
    1. fresno dan

      jr
      July 15, 2020 at 3:20 pm

      https://www.quantamagazine.org/how-godels-incompleteness-theorems-work-20200714/
      But Gödel’s shocking incompleteness theorems, published when he was just 25, crushed that dream. He proved that any set of axioms you could posit as a possible foundation for math will inevitably be incomplete; there will always be true facts about numbers that cannot be proved by those axioms. He also showed that no candidate set of axioms can ever prove its own consistency.
      =====================================================
      With profuse apologies to Yogi Berra, as well as Yoda, when you look a lot at nothing, there’s a lot there…

      Reply
          1. ambrit

            Oh man! My Dad had the “Principia Mathematica” in his bedroom library shelf. He read it and tried to get me interested. Unfortunately, the only ‘areas under a curve’ I was interested in at the time were segments of the females at my High School.
            Dad never forgave me for being “average.”

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              The Principia Mathematica written by Alfred Whitehead and Bertrand Russell?

              Ouch. I hardly think that not wanting to read it would show just being average. It would be a heavy slog for almost any High Schooler.

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                It took me years to realize that. Dad, and his younger brother, both were good at maths. Dad’s older brother once told me that Dad taught himself the calculus as a teenager, at home. This got Dad out of the ‘Ordinary’ school, but was not enough to get him a berth at University. Like most of the English of his cohort, Dad graduated High School, which is at sixteen in England, (is it still sixteen today?) and apprenticed to a Dutch Engineering firm’s offices in London. He became a Draftsman/Practical Engineer. This setup was so good that, later on in the 1960’s, Dad’s apprenticeship papers from the Dutch firm were accepted by the Agency for International Development (for a project in south America,) as the equivalent of an American University Engineering Degree.
                Dad was a Classical Technocrat. (There is also a lot of ego and pride tied up in that situation.)

                Reply
  12. Pelham

    Re the compromise of 1877 and the possibility (tinfoil likelihood) Congress will permit the intel agencies to fiddle with the election: As often noted here, hand-marked and publicly counted paper ballots would eliminate a lot of anxiety over elections. So would canceling public access to the internet, the existence of which is also — on balance and by any number of measures — ripping society to shreds.

    We’re in a sci-fi-like scenario in which we have low-tech ways, right at our fingertips, to free ourselves from hi-tech horror but we simply refuse to do anything about it.

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      So only the neoliberals control what happens on the Internet. As if that weren’t already happening. I encourage you to think this a few more turns through, before giving a psychotic ruling class exclusive access to rapid telecommunications.

      Seriously, why not the television network instead?

      Reply
    2. JBird4049

      Pelham, what is worrying is what happens when reformers today get success.

      There violent coups by white supremacists at several states, counties, and cities as in walking in with guns, killing some people, and then taking over. The legitimate officials and their supporters, which included both blacks and whites and often from a socialist party, would often fight back, but usually lost. Where the racists didn’t take over immediately, they started the process with murder, fire bombing, and confiscating weapons.

      Jim Crow’s reign was not by chance, but by lies, betrayal, the noose, and the gun.

      So just what is being planned now? For today’s pesky reformers?

      As for the 1877 elections and what happened in the South, I think what happened was preplanned, organized, and ready to go when opportunity showed before the federal soldiers left. The ruling elites with their Confederate veterans just overwhelmed the unprepared elected government and the rest of the country wouldn’t support them. Or at least not enough.

      Reply
  13. fresno dan

    UPDATE “Throw the Bums Out” [Alex Pareene, The New Republic].
    That isn’t cynicism so much as resignation. We can elect a new president…. But to elect our way out of the debilitated and rotten political system that caused this outcome could be a project that takes generations, if it is possible at all.
    =============================================
    New bums….same as the old bums

    Reply
    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      The new bums are the old bums. We know exactly who they are and what they will do. But at least we will hear on CNN that we live in the best of all possible worlds again.

      This phase of Empire is really depressing, the part where they absolutely feast on the carcass. The ugliest possible birds show up on the savannah and pick the bones clean. The only possible strategy is to force your own snout in there and try and run away with a little scrap of marrow.

      Reply
    1. Gc54

      So far this sounds like the effects of the second shingles vaccine shot that I got earlier this wk.

      All this effort to avoid genome edits by viruses. How is humanity to evolve without our little friends?

      Reply
      1. Bugs Bunny

        My doctor here in France (she’s a leading research scientist on HSV1-8) said that the original Japanese varicella vaccine is much more effective for preventing shingles than Shingrix, with less side effects. She also insinuated that Americans needed a super-duper vaccine because they’re obese. I was nonplussed but do what you will with the info. She gave me two rounds of the varicella vaccine and said, you’ll be fine for shingles for 20 years and it will give you an immune boost to fight related viruses. Again, ymmv.

        Reply
  14. Darthbobber

    I assume Kanye West will be dropping an album soon. His provocations usually track his releases pretty closely.

    Reply
  15. Darthbobber

    Memo to George Will. A nation in this state is just behaving like the kind of nation you’ve agitated for your entire adult life could be rationally expected to behave.

    Reply
  16. nippersmom

    On top of the completely inappropriate location and obscene cost, the Obama “library” is one of the most hideous buildings I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen some doozies. Monstrosities like that make me embarrassed for my profession.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Hierophant?
      All that “Library” needs to finish the theme is a brazen idol in the forecourt with an “Eternal Flame” burning in it’s belly.
      The ancient Carthaginians were accused of casting babies into the fiery maw of their Baal during times of crisis. Today’s High Priests have reversed the order and are now tossing the elderly and weak into the fiery pit of the modern Baal, the Economy.

      Reply
    2. Otto

      nippersmom – let’s be cool, no government funding is involved- it is not a ‘presidential library per se’, no government funding. I agree it should not be located where it us, but this involves more than Barry (Obama), it’s a functional of city politics. And yes it really is [family blog] ugly.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        I don’t know if we can separate politics from religion in this. Religion for America is the worship of Mammon. So, it’s all good.

        Reply
      2. HippoDave

        The property will have a land lease of $10.00 for 99 years, which seems low for that area. I’d consider that virtual government funding.

        Reply
  17. D. Fuller

    There is one concern about CV-19 that can not be addressed at this time. That is,

    What are the long term effects on future unborn children of genetic damage in the reproductive systems of men and women vis-a-vis epi-genetics?

    Genetic damage from environmental factors – such as a virus – is capable of being transmitted down through multiple generations. Such damage could result in an entire host of problems from health issues, development issues, and can include cognitive decline in future generations.

    Only a massive, long term study tracking children through multiple generations (3 is preferable) born to Covid-19 positive parent(s) will answer the question.

    Ref: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6358434/

    The paper was mentioned on NC before while environmental effects resulting in epi-genetic effects is covered elsewhere.

    Reply
  18. William Hunter Duncan

    “If you don’t like the system, I have no qualms. You want to break the system? Then you’d better be in charge.”

    “It’s easy to change the system—it really is. It’s never hard to change the system. We have a way of going about that,” he said.
    “You want to change the system? I get that. You want to break the system? You better win. Because, if you don’t, the system is going to break you.”

    Considering these immortal words from one of our “benevolent” billionaires, I suppose that is one of the few qualms I have with the protests of late, that there is a lot of talk of change, but really it sounds like most people don’t want change to this pathologic, ecocidal culture as much as they want a bigger piece of the pie.

    Reply
    1. Lost in OR

      On mulitple counts, the “system” is fundamentally unsustainable. There is one logical outcome to unsustainable. It’s just a matter of time.

      I would really like to find (but can’t) that Orson Well skit on SNL for “we will sell no wine before it’s time”

      Time.

      Reply
    2. Bugs Bunny

      It’s a very accurate statement. Lenin would say the same.

      You need to own power or something or someone else will use it against you.

      Reply
    3. John k

      He said it’s a war, and you gotta expect people to die in a war.
      Sounds like Buffett, who said there was a war, and we won it.
      So we need another war. And it’s as the first guy said, you gotta expect people to die in a war.

      Reply
    4. Glen

      The “system”, so impersonal…

      I keep telling the right wing nut jobs I know that shooting poor people is ineffective. If they have to shoot people, and want results, they need to shoot the rich people.

      Please forward this sage advice to all the gun toting right wing nut jobs you know. After all, when they finally crack and start shooting, I don’t want them shooting me or you!

      Reply
  19. CanChemist

    About the PAPR / hazmat suits… I just don’t see how this is feasible in practice with untrained people.

    In actual hazmat situations, you either have a carefully controlled environment with appropriate gear, or you have an uncontrolled situation and a space suit but you still have experts prepping the gear. The thing about this ‘diving helmet’ they are selling is… how will the end user maintain it? How /when do you change the filters and where do you get them, and how reliable are they? Are maintenance logs kept? Is the end user properly trained how to put it on, inspect for holes, etc? Otherwise you’re just literally shutting yourself in for long periods of time with the very thing you’re trying to avoid.

    And of course if the situation is dangerous enough that an untrained person needs one of these, then nobody should be in that environment in the first place…

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Agreed. That helmet is of concern but not the way that you might think. When the actors were making the film “Apollo 13”, they were of course required to don astronaut’s helmets. But here is the thing. A lot of people panic when one of those things goes over their head. Yes, they know that they are being fed oxygen and are completely safe but still lots of people have this instinct to freak out if something is enclosing their heads. It’s instinctive and those actors had to receive the same coaching that the astronauts received in real life. You might find that some people will be only one panic attack from ripping off these suits if they had to wear them, even in mid-flight. Remember too that unless you have a pee bag strapped to your leg like those astronauts did, how safe will it be to share a toilet in an airplane. And can you imagine going into one of those tiny toilets wearing one of those helmets?

      Reply
  20. Alex Cox

    The honorary ‘shrooms are turkey tails. Very good for the immune system. Chew ’em and spit ’em out.

    They aren’t hallucinogenic, unlike the webpage with the “Green Party Chaos” article. Who told them a narrow white font on a dark blue background was a good idea?

    Reply
    1. divadab

      Yes or dry them and use them for tea. Pick while “green”. They grow really well on red maples so if you’re thinning yr red maple grove, makes sure you arrange the cut down trees so not all in contact with the soil and check the next year for turkey tail.

      I was a bit triggered by the allusion to entheogenic properties and also by the faint blue tinge in the photo – is there some new variety of turkey tail that has figured out how to cyanesce???? Wow because turkey tail does so much better in northern latitudes with a hard frost than cyanescens. Ah well a nice fantasy of coevolution this fine sunny thursday….

      Reply
  21. VietnamVet

    Seattle’s First Railroad tells the history of how coal was the first commodity shipped out of Seattle until it provided 25% of San Francisco’s demand:
    https://youtu.be/3onO6EkmESI

    It vanished and I never heard about it when I grew up there in the 1950s and 60s. Just like the breakbulk wharfs disappeared on New York’s and Seattle’s waterfront replaced by huge distant container terminals in my lifetime.

    There is no reason to believe that the fifth common cold will disappear like the Spanish flu. Unless the coronavirus pandemic response is federalized, the quarantine of the USA will assure all air travel from the USA will trickle down to wealthy private jets. Boeing Commercial Airplanes will fail. Next generation, surviving riff-raft, will be unaware that hundreds of thousands once were employed at the empty Boeing, Renton and Everett airfields.

    Reply
  22. Howard Beale IV

    Looks like Twitter has been badly hacked – high-profile accounts have been posting “Claim your Bitcoin” spam, including Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Apple’s corporate Twitter account for starters.

    Reply
  23. Copeland

    Just returned from the grocery store and had to share. As I was entering (wearing my mask as I always do) I made a mental note as to the percentage of mask wearers, as I always do…100%! Then a large, healthy looking man without mask pushed past me into the store. Later he was looking for the same thing I was in one of the aisles and I said “I think you for forgot something”. He immediately replied “I’ve been diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic heart valve, so thanks man, its all good, I don’t have to wear a mask”. Here’s the kicker: I have a bicuspid aortic heart valve and I had open heart surgery to repair the resulting severe regurgitation. I almost lifted my shirt to show him the scar.

    Reply
  24. Amfortas the hippie

    re: Sargent.
    i guess they updated the style manual when i wasn’t looking.
    I’ve seen the word “illiberal” tossed around a lot, here lately…usually in reference to trump and his supposed “movement”….a couple of times, in oblique reference to Bernie and his almost/aborted movement.
    (this last on a twitterwander a few days ago)
    I know what it means…I have an OED.
    But I don’t quite get what They think it means…or what they Want it to mean.
    This whole missive just further confuses the matter of political nomenclature. I mean, we don’t really need a new category for the orange bad man, do we?
    Poor Ben veers awfully close to attributing supervillain powers to the guy, and i just don’t see it, even at this late date.
    Orange Bad Man looks, to me, like an ordinary republican, with a bad case of narcissism and a short attention span…even more all hat, no cattle than Lil George.
    a blundering moron with a half empty quiver of stock phrases and off the shelf ideas that he applies to every situation, almost by rote….and no filter between his obviously addled consciousness(or Id) and his always wide open mouth.
    He is not some Putinesque mastermind,lol.
    all this heavy breathing and searching desperately for some brand new political theory that will make it all make sense is just another episode of the Big Center refusing to look in the damned mirror, and admit that trump is the logical end to everything they’ve worked towards for 40 some years.

    Reply
  25. GreenVoter

    “Green Party Chaos” article is bunk. Ian Schlakman complained that the party wanted to stop maintaining a list of candidates seeking the nomination, not recognized candidates, and Schlakman couldn’t muster the most meager of metrics to get on the recognized list like filing with the SEC, having a website, raising $5k etc.

    The Steering Committee voted to stop publishing the seeking list to light a fire under fake candidates like Schlakman to run a real campaign. Ultimately, the party never actually stopped publishing the list. It’s still online here:

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lsfRXRZTMYsHRp7SMrjdPo3SZiE9NX8ThSkdxzmxL3A

    Schlakman isn’t on the list because he dropped out. All the other pretend candidates are still there.

    Howie Hawkins won the nomination fair and square, there’s just a chorus of fake candidates who didn’t actually run real campaigns.

    Reply
  26. jr

    Found something cool while watching the Youbloob, it’s about Mesh networks and these devices that will let your smartphone talk to another over a publicly owned satellite network securely. I can only follow it so far but it sounds handy:

    https://youtu.be/TY6m6fS8bxU

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      You can do the same thing with the Wi-Fi built into your phone, with slightly shorter range. Have a look at e.g. the Serval Project, originally designed for infrastructure-optional disaster rescue communications.

      “Securely”… but, as Snowden taught us years ago, that’s almost certainly not the most imminent threat. Improving transport security only makes the endpoints that much more attractive targets.

      I do like that they’re sending human communications over a network designed primarily for machine-to-machine communications, which is clever iff no one’s watching, but can be conspicuous in traffic analysis.

      Reply
  27. The Rev Kev

    “Senate Democrats’ Machine Spent $15 Million To Destroy Progressive Primary Candidates”

    Senate Democrats – Senate Republicans greatest friends. Both doing god’s work together.

    Reply
  28. allan

    Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia Portlandia:

    Tear gas deployed as federal officers disperse protesters overnight in downtown Portland [Oegonian]

    Editorial: Feds’ targeting of protester needs full transparency [Oregonian]

    Militarized Federal Agents from a patchwork of outside agencies have begun policing Portland
    (in rented minivans vans) without the explicit approval of the mayor, the state, or local municipalities.
    This is what that looks like in practice:
    (Fully transparent video of random dudes in camo abducting
    a protester into unmarked vehicle. Looks legit.) [The Sparrow Project]

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        They have probably been told to stay in their barracks. If they come out, its on!
        One of the “camo dudes” was clearly marked as ‘Police.’
        This is Stasi level suppression of dissent. I noticed the full military outfits of these “police.” Both were armed. Speculating freely here, they might be Military Police units, perhaps from the Tenth Mountain Division from upstate New York. That unit specializes in crowd control and suppression.
        If these goons are from a local domestic police organization, then we are already into a formal Police State.
        See, (if you have proper clearance,): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/10th_Mountain_Division

        Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      The lack of #Resistance and the lack of any restraint bolsters one twit’s suggestion that it’s an undercover agent extraction, and also serves as a happy ending for the developmentally disabled authoritarians watching at home, secure in the nature that they will never experience any consequences (or treatment!) for their pathology as long as they all stick together.

      Reply
  29. Daryl

    > That changing demography has made the Texas suburbs culturally indistinguishable from suburbs around the country, and that spells trouble for Republicans

    My take.

    Austin and to a lesser extent Dallas and Houston have always been pretty lefty. The suburbs on the other hand are where all the creepy megachurches are, and I’ve seen little indication of change there. Fiscally and socially conservative rich people who like to pretend at being rednecks.

    The primary victories are encouraging but also, the Texas Dem senate nominee is an ex-military cookie cutter Democrat, and there doesn’t seem to be much indication that the seats, gerrymandered to high heaven (there’s a congressional district slice that includes the burbs of Houston *and* Austin, a distance larger than many states), will actually flip.

    44% of the people in this state actively approve of Abbott’s handling of coronavirus, and honestly the recent dip is probably because he finally (toothlessly) ordered people to wear masks.

    It’s nice to see centrists doing what they do best and losing, but this gives me little confidence for the general election or the longer term trend in Texas.

    Reply
  30. kareninca

    I don’t think that it is an accident that Trump recently wore a mask (at a VA hospital) and also changed his hair to grey. He knows that Americans are fascinated by people who “change.” It is like a story in process; it is mesmerizing. “Trump changes!” I am expecting more such “changes” in the next couple of months.

    Reply
    1. albrt

      I have been expecting that one or both legacy parties will “change” the stupid, corrupt, racist, demented war criminal at the top of the ticket before November 3, and whichever party does it first will win easily.

      But I had assumed the change would be something like pushing the putative nominee out of an upper story window or “persuading” the nominee to withdraw for health and family reasons. I had not considered the possibility that Trump could “change” by acting slightly less like a depraved alpha baboon.

      Interesting. I don’t think the same approach is available to Biden since likely voters apparently have no idea what he was like in the past.

      Reply
  31. Adam Eran

    RE: Kelton:

    Kelton met with MMT founder Warren Mosler and Missouri congressman Emanuel Cleaver to explain MMT to the congressman. Mosler began to describe how an issuer of currency like our government is unique in the economy, and how it’s fiscally unconstrained. Cleaver grew increasingly uncomfortable, until he had a “Copernican moment,” and realized that MMT was accurate.

    Says Kelton: “For the first time, the congressman was seeing the world through an MMT lens, and things had just come into focus. From that moment his entire demeanor changed. His eyes widened. His posture became confident. And then he leaned forward, clasped his hands, looked [Mosler] in the eye, and softly said ‘I can’t say that.'”

    So, essentially, the electorate wants to be lied to…

    Reply

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