2:00PM Water Cooler 7/17/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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

I’ll just keep doing this one until I see a peak followed by a decline. Florida blows past New York. Interestingly, California and Texas diverge. We’ll see if that’s an artifact. (There are no notes either on this site, 91-DIVOC, or on the Johns Hopkins site, indicating that there has been any interruption of data. We’ll see on Monday.)


“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. July 17: Georgia, Ohio, ME-2 move from Leans Republican to Toss-up. Continued yikes. On July 7, the tossup were 86. Only July 17, they were 56. Now they are 91. 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!


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): “Joe Biden’s joint committees raise nearly $100 million in second quarter as big-money donors get off the sidelines” [CNBC]. “‘The big-money donors are capitalists. For a minute Bernie was close to locking it up, but then came South Carolina. They were petrified of Trump and horrified by Bernie. Now they actually have a choice, before they didn’t,’ Florida businessman and Biden bundler John Morgan told CNBC.” • The article has quite a list of Biden donors.

Biden (D)(2): “Joe Biden’s Shockingly Adequate Campaign” [Rich Lowry, National Review]. “The Biden campaign has been lucky most of all, but it’s also been smart, at least smart enough. To go, as Joe Biden did, from left for dead to sweeping to the nomination and quickly thereafter emerging as the favorite in November is a run of success that would be the envy of any national politician. It’s easy to consider this a mere accident given the weakness of Biden’s opponents, first a socialist in the Democratic primaries who had a ceiling on his support and now an incumbent president whose ratings have sagged. The Biden team certainly isn’t going to rewrite any campaign playbooks or dazzle anyone with its brilliance, but it has avoided serious mistakes and demonstrated an understanding of the basic political terrain and its candidate’s strengths. It hasn’t asked Biden to do anything out of his comfort zone or beyond his capabilities and has been content for President Donald Trump to dominate all the attention, so long as Trump is not advancing his cause, and often setting it back, with all the airtime and headlines.” • Yep.

Biden (D)(3):

“Working to unseat” is a little harsh. But you can imagine the reaction if a Sanders staffer had, say, donated to Shahid Buttar instead of Nancy Pelosi.

Harris (D)(1): “KHive is trying to ruin my life, does Kamala Harris even care?” [Medium]. • Ugly and unsurprising details; the ringleader seems to have been banned by Twitter, and not for the first time.

Sanders (D)(1): “America’s cost effective Covid-19 solution? Masks for All” [Bernie Sanders and Andy Slavitt, CNN]. “[W]e are urgently calling for a simple, common-sense, practical and inexpensive way to protect Americans during the coronavirus pandemic: Masks for All. Our goal must be to make high-quality masks available on an equitable basis to every single person in this country at no cost. Next week, one of us will introduce legislation to do just that. The science is clear: Wearing a mask not only saves lives, but the widespread use of masks will get Americans back to work sooner and reunite families who have stayed apart. Hopefully, this legislation will even help counter some of the confusion and misinformation over mask-wearing.” •

Trump (R)(1): “Trump shakes up campaign leadership as he struggles in latest polls” [CNN]. “President Donald Trump shook up his campaign leadership on Wednesday, announcing he was promoting Bill Stepien to be his campaign manager and demoting Brad Parscale, who had been serving in that role… The future of Parscale, who had been lauded by the President and his allies as a digital guru who helped secure Trump’s first election effort and became his reelection campaign manager in early 2018, had been in serious doubt for weeks. In addition to the President’s lagging poll numbers, Trump was furious after a much-hyped return to the campaign trail fell flat at the end of June. A planned rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, fell well short of expectations after Parscale predicted massive crowds, not only inside the 19,000-seat arena but outside as well…. ‘It was only a matter of time’ before Parscale was moved out of his role as campaign manager, said a senior adviser to the campaign. ‘His inexperience hindered the campaign.'”

UPDATE Trump (R)(1): “Trump Campaign Shuffle Shows the Pressure’s on” [Bloomberg]. “Switching managers is a Trump trademark. Aside from his almost-constant shuffling of his Cabinet, he also shook up his campaign leadership multiple times in his first run for the White House. Citing ‘really good poll numbers,’ Trump is showing no outward signs of worry ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3. But the pressure is building. Several polls yesterday showed Trump lagging behind Democratic rival Joe Biden by double digits, with one indicating that in stewardship of the economy — the one area where he had previously led his opponent — the president was now trailing as well.”

West (I)(1):

So, I’m picturing Kanye somehow getting one or two electoral votes, and then…

* * *

UPDATE “Elissa Slotkin Is Sounding the Alarm. Will Democrats Listen?” [Politico]. Note well that Slotkin is a CIA Democrat. On BountyGate: “The congresswoman inhaled every bit of news coverage, watching carefully for conflicting details or any confirmation of the original Times story. She called former colleagues in the intel community in search of explanations. Finally, she took to social media, writing a series of uncharacteristically pointed tweets about Trump and Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. ‘Something has been off about that relationship since the beginning,’ she wrote, ‘and Americans are quite literally paying in blood for his pandering to Putin.'” • A cynic would give consideration to the idea that Slotkin was in on it from the beginning. More: “Few members of Congress arrived in Washington with more nonpartisan street cred than the 42-year-old former intelligence analyst who served three tours in Iraq, who married a respected Army officer turned Pentagon adviser and who never gave any whiff of political leanings until posting the news of her run for Congress in the summer of 2017.” • Holy Lord. I hope Slotkin isn’t diabetic. More: “This is the first installment of a POLITICO series that will examine the 2020 election through the eyes of Slotkin, an exceptionally ambitious and uniquely vulnerable congresswoman, as well as through the eyes of voters in Michigan’s 8th District, a strategically vital location for both parties in their quest for control of Washington next year and beyond.” • I don’t think I’ve seen Politico service a candidate like this in quite some time.

2016 Post Mortem


Realignment and Legitimacy

“Get Ready for the 2020 Election Recount” [The Bulwark]. “One of the more memorable aspects of the 2000 recount was the “Brooks Brothers riot” where the Bush campaign flew GOP staffers to protest the recount proceedings in Miami-Dade County, Florida. At issue was whether there would be a new standard for counting “undervotes,” and local officials sought to take discussions to an upper floor of the building, where the protesters would not be able to observe. At that point, the Republicans erupted and followed them up. Crammed into the smaller space, unable to see what was happening, they got angry. They yelled that Democrats were stealing the election. They banged doors. They roughed up a Democratic staffer in possession of a sample ballot. And it worked. Hours later, the officials surrendered.” • This omits a key factor: The press didn’t identify the “rioters” as Republican staffers at the time — even though they had to know who they were.

“Maine to use ranked-choice voting in presidential election after GOP veto effort fails” [Bangor Daily News]. “Maine will be the first state to ever use ranked-choice voting in a presidential election in November after Secretary of State Matt Dunlap ruled Wednesday that a Republican-led people’s veto effort did not have enough signatures to qualify for the ballot….”

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.

Leading Indicators: “10 July 2020 ECRI’s WLI Improvement Continues But Remains In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “ECRI’s WLI Growth Index which forecasts economic growth six months forward improved but remains in contraction.”

Consumer Sentiment: “Preliminary July 2020 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Declines” [Econintersect]. “Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin, makes the following comments: ‘Consumer sentiment retreated in the first half of July due to the widespread resurgence of the coronavirus. The promising gain recorded in June was reversed, leaving the Sentiment Index in early July insignificantly above the April low (+1.4 points). Following the steepest two-month decline on record, it is not surprising that consumers need some time to reassess the likely economic impact from the coronavirus on their personal finances and on the overall economy. Unfortunately, declines are more likely in the months ahead as the coronavirus spreads and causes continued economic harm, social disruptions, and permanent scarring.'”

Consumer Sentiment: “Analysis: Contraction in Consumer Sentiment in July Signals a Rough Month for Businesses” [Morning Consult]. This chart:

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 11 June 2020 – Gradual Improvement But Still Deep In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “Total rail traffic has been mostly in contraction for over one year – and now is recovering from a coronavirus pandemic…. Intermodal and carloads are under Great Recession values. Container exports from China are now recovering, container exports from the U.S. declined, and remains deep in contraction.”

Construction: “June 2020 Residential Building Growth Continues To Improve” [Econintersect]. “Headline residential building permits and construction completions improved – and the rolling averages showed a similar result…. The effect of the coronavirus pandemic is waning in the data…. [T]he rolling averages say this sector is slowing with construction completions are improving but are in contraction. We consider this report better than last month.”

* * *

Employment SItuation: “Troubling streak for the labor market” [Politico]. “Jobless claims have come in higher than a million — and more than double the worst week of the Great Recession — for 17 straight weeks. Last week, initial claims totaled 2.4 million, including the self-employed and gig workers, just a couple of weeks away from the expiration of federal unemployment insurance that adds $600 a week on top of state benefits. Evercore ISI dug into the data and found that allowing the expiration to happen would lead to a 2 percent smaller GDP by the end of the year than if the benefit were fully extended.” In addition: “‘Workers receiving unemployment insurance have a large increase in consumption due to UI, spending almost 73 cents of every $1 received, showing that the federal benefit supplement is well-targeted,’ the [JPMorgan Chase Institute] said.”

Shipping: “North American freight business is coming back but distribution channels look very different than they did before the pandemic. A shakeout is resetting the direction of the U.S. trucking market, says C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. Chief Executive Bob Biesterfeld, and that is pushing some carriers out of businesses while driving others to adapt to upheaval in domestic supply chains. The head of North America’s largest freight brokerage [says] that the sudden changes as the pandemic hit triggered “huge supply chain dislocation from a trucking perspective” [Wall Street Journal].” With demand firmer now, spot-market pricing is rising and contract carriers are even turning down more freight than they were before the pandemic in search of stronger revenues.”

Shipping: “Pandemic-hit Arizona, Texas counties order coolers, refrigerated trucks for bodies” [Reuters]. “Arizona and Texas counties hit hard by COVID-19 are ordering coolers and refrigerated trailers to store bodies as their morgues fill up, authorities said on Thursday…. New York used dozens of refrigerated trailers in April as its daily COVID-19 deaths exceeded 700. The appearance of mobile morgues in Arizona and Texas reflects that the pandemic appears to now be spinning out of control in southern U.S. states.”

Apparel: “A cash squeeze is forming in apparel supply chains. Makers of clothing and accessories are getting pinched as the retailers they supply struggle to pay for goods…. Several companies including Nike Inc. and Columbia Sportswear Co. in recent weeks have disclosed millions of dollars in bad-debt charges in quarterly results” [Wall Street Journal]. “Some retailers have gotten extended payment terms to conserve cash, but the lineup of merchants filing for bankruptcy protection is growing. That has suppliers making tough judgment calls over which retailers may be facing only temporary hardships and which bills they may have to write off as lost causes.”

The Bezzle: “Germany’s long, lonely campaign: Battling Wirecard’s short sellers” [Reuters]. “German authorities pressed on for four years investigating investors who bet against Wirecard AG’s shares, even after a UK regulator concluded that their evidence against the short sellers was ‘not sufficient,’ according to documents and people familiar with the matter…. While it is known that German authorities investigated skeptical investors who raised questions about the company behind one of the biggest corporate frauds in German history, the documents provide new details about the speed and tenacity with which they pursued detractors and the extent of their faith in management.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 63 Greed (previous close: 62 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 17 at 12:14pm.

The Biosphere

“Pa. poised to provide potentially $670 million in tax breaks to natural-gas manufacturers” [Pittsburgh City Paper]. “Yesterday, the Pennsylvania state Senate passed a bill that would potentially provide hundreds of millions in tax credits to petrochemical facilities and others that refine natural gas into products like plastic pellets or fertilizer. The bill, HB 732, passed the state Senate by a 40-9 vote. All Republicans supported the bill and even the majority of Senate Democrats backed the measure. The bill is likely a do-over of an earlier bill, HB 1100, which also was written to offer tax credits to petrochemical companies. HB 1100 passed through the legislature, but Gov. Tom Wolf (D-York) vetoed that bill. However, Wolf is poised to sign HB 732.” It gets worse: “[T]he bill is a major victory for state Sen. John Yudichak (I-Luzerne), who wrote the bill…. More perplexing in all of this is that even though the majority of Senate Democrats backed the bill and Gov. Wolf still has veto power, the winners of this bill are the Republicans, especially Yudichak, and Democrats received little in return…. Furthermore, last year, Yudichak left the Democratic Party to become an independent who caucuses with Republicans. His departure from the Democratic caucus makes the Democrats’ chances of flipping the state Senate almost impossible.” • Has Tom Wolf taken a page from Cuomo’s playbook? Pennsylvanians please comment.

“New Data Shows an ‘Extraordinary’ Rise in U.S. Coastal Flooding” [New York Times]. “The increase in high-tide flooding along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts since 2000 has been ‘extraordinary,’ the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported, with the frequency of flooding in some cities growing fivefold during that time. That shift is damaging homes, imperiling the safety of drinking water, inundating roads and otherwise hurting coastal communities, the agency said.”

Health Care

“The U.S. is coping with new medical shortages at a critical time. Several states are reporting shortages in coronavirus testing supplies and delays in processing results… just as a rash of outbreaks is hitting Florida, Nevada, Georgia, Texas and other states” [Wall Street Journal]. “The disconnect has resurrected one of the early problems that bogged down the country’s initial response to the pandemic in the spring: Many people in coronavirus hot spots are now waiting more than a week, and in some cases several weeks, for test results. The latest problems suggest that while early supply shortages were largely solved, deeper problems with manufacturing and distribution of critical equipment are lingering and could grow if the virus continues to spread. The new test shortages are prompting some officials to change how they prioritize now-scarce resources, which could impede virus mitigation efforts.”

“Data secrecy is crippling attempts to slow COVID-19’s spread in U.S., epidemiologists warn” [Science]. Interesting follow-up to this post yesterday. “Since April, epidemiologists from Stanford University and several University of California campuses have sought detailed COVID-19 case and contact-tracing data from state and county health authorities for research they hope will point to more effective approaches to slowing the pandemic. “It’s a basic mantra of epidemiology and public health: Follow the data” to learn where and how the disease spreads, says Rajiv Bhatia, a physician and epidemiologist who teaches at Stanford and is among those seeking the California data…. But the agencies have refused requests filed from April through late June, Science has learned. They cited multiple reasons including workload constraints and privacy concerns—even though records can be deidentified, and federal health privacy rules have been relaxed for research during the pandemic. As a result, Bhatia says, “In 4 months of the epidemic, collecting millions of records, no one in California or at the CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] has done the basic epidemiology.” Other states also fail to share highly specific information for their COVID-19 cases… Aggregated COVID-19 case and death data by county, and often by age and race, is publicly available in much of the country. But few locales link those cases and deaths to other information typically collected on the individuals, such as their ZIP codes, occupations, living conditions, and known contacts with others ill with COVID-19. And according to the COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer organization launched by The Atlantic, no U.S. state or territory publicly provides a complete set of even such basic COVID-19 measures as total and pending tests; deaths and recovered patients; and current and cumulative hospitalizations, patients in intensive care units, and those using ventilators.” • Sigh. So all our data is at best patchy…

Police State Watch

UPDATE An extremely ugly story from Portland, OR that began (at least for me) with this tweet:

Then the video went viral–

UPDATE “Portland Federal Agents Bundle Protester Into Van in Viral Video” [Newsweek]. “Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has said the does not ‘need or want’ the help of federal forces. ‘Today the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security asked to speak with me about demonstration activity in Portland. He expressed his concern about ongoing violence and asked how his agency can help,’ Wheeler tweeted on Wednesday. ‘I told the Acting Secretary that my biggest immediate concern is the violence federal officers brought to our streets in recent days, and the life-threatening tactics his agents use. We do not need or want their help.’ Wheeler added: ‘The best thing they can do is stay inside their building, or leave Portland altogether. Our goal is to end these violent demonstrations quickly and safely. And in the meantime, I asked him to clean up the graffiti on local federal facilities.'” • Then local media interviewed protesters–

UPDATE “Federal Law Enforcement Use Unmarked Vehicles To Grab Protesters Off Portland Streets” [Oregon Public Broadcasting]. “Federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least July 14. Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation of why they are being arrested, and driving off. The tactic appears to be another escalation in federal force deployed on Portland city streets, as federal officials and President Donald Trump have said they plan to “quell” nightly protests outside the federal courthouse and Multnomah County Justice Center that have lasted for more than six weeks. Federal Officers Shoot Portland Protester In Head With ‘Less Lethal’ Munitions Federal officers have charged at least 13 people with crimes related to the protests so far, while others have been arrested and released, including Pettibone. They also left one demonstrator hospitalized with skull fractures after shooting him in the face with so-called “less lethal” munitions July 11. Officers from the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and Customs and Border Protection’s BORTAC, have been sent to Portland to protect federal property during the recent protests against racism and police brutality. But interviews conducted by OPB show officers are also detaining people on Portland streets who aren’t near federal property, nor is it clear that all of the people being arrested have engaged in criminal activity. Demonstrators like O’Shea and Pettibone said they think they were targeted by federal officers for simply wearing black clothing in the area of the demonstration.” • Sounds like Hong Kong.

UPDATE Acting HHS Secretary “Chad Wolf” — no, this is not a parody account — is on the scene in Portland:

The story is now firmly in the mainstream–

“‘Chilling’: Federal officers are pulling Portland protesters into unmarked vehicles, reports say” [USA Today]. “The Trump administration has sent federal officers to Portland and other cities to address what officials described as destruction of historic monuments. In an executive order last month, Trump decried “rioters, arsonists, and left-wing extremists” and accused them of targeting public monuments, memorials and statues.” • Bad as Obama was with Occupy and Black Lives Matter, I don’t recall him using unmarked vehicles, which is really Third World stuff. One wonders, however, how this will play in the ‘burbs.

Class Warfare

“Brick and mortar, crumbling: The COVID pandemic has cemented Amazon’s dominant position. What now?” [Richard Wolff, New York Daily News]. “During the last few months, huge numbers of smaller stores have closed. Walmarts and Targets have been open and online shopping has become even more widespread, accelerating an Amazonification of America that had already been well underway. What we do about this will largely determine whether we still have functioning public commercial spaces in this country — or whether we fold up our tent and accept that relatively efficient and inexpensive delivery of goods straight to the home will dominate our retail economy for generations to come. The answer matters mightily. Many have forgotten this, but markets are not just places where we go to get goods. They are a defining characteristic of civilization as we know it. Trips to markets became passages into community. Leaving isolation, at least temporarily, people in markets enjoyed interpersonal contacts and socialized activities. They found friends, lovers and partners, and came to discuss and act together to solve shared problems. Their influence went far beyond this function. Villages, towns and cities grew up around markets. People overcame isolation not only by buying from one another. They also brought their workplaces and schools, as well as their homes, nearer to markets both to work and shop more easily and for all the social connections and interactions markets fostered. Modern society has been shaped indispensably by markets and their evolution. It will be deeply affected if real markets mostly vanish, replaced by merely electronic, virtual forms.” • Sort of amazing to see Wolff in the New York Daily News.

“More Lyft Drivers Installing Partitions To Protect Against Covid-19 Spread” [Forbes]. “Lyft said in a release that drivers can purchase the partitions through the Lyft Store, but the company said it will not make a profit on the partitions, disinfectants or other sanitizing materials it makes available to drivers.” • Of course, of course.

News of the Wired

“Reddit Is A Window Into The American Nightmare” [The American Conservative]. “Yet we increasingly understand that many people are latently ill—latent alcoholics, anorexics, hoarders, compulsive gamblers. A society that goes out of its way to trigger these tendencies is not kind or just. A society that pretends they are merely bad choices, and that whatever follows from them is deserved, is positively cruel. A sole focus on personal responsibility demands herculean effort against long odds, and is indeed a kind of complacent bravado. Any of us might bear the seeds of an illness waiting to be triggered or inflamed; any of us have the capacity to do evil. In Christian terms, we pray that we do not undergo the test. In policy terms, we do not run the test. Yet contemporary American culture is a great big testing ground, testing the bounds of greed and willpower and the ability of individuals and families not to crack under soul-crushing stress and deleterious incentives, many of which we euphemize as ‘economic growth.'” • From TAC (?!?).

“‘Invasion’ of ancient Egypt may have actually been immigrant uprising” [Science]. “Ancient Egypt’s first ‘foreign’ takeover may actually have been an inside job. About 3600 years ago, the pharaohs briefly lost control of northern Egypt to the Hyksos, rulers who looked and behaved like people from an area stretching from present-day Syria in the north to Israel in the south. The traditional explanation is that the Hyksos were an invading force. But a fresh analysis of skeletons from the ancient Hyksos capital suggests an alternative: The Hyksos were Egyptian-born members of an immigrant community that rose up and grabbed power. The pharaohs ruled Egypt from about 3100 B.C.E. to 30 B.C.E., but they weren’t always in complete command of their territory. One period of vulnerability began around 1800 B.C.E., with a succession of ineffectual pharaohs who struggled to maintain order. The Hyksos took advantage of the power vacuum by seizing control of northern Egypt, according to ancient texts, leaving the pharaohs in charge of only a tiny strip of land to the south. Archaeologists know the Hyksos were unlike typical Egyptians: They had names like those of people from the neighboring region of southwest Asia. Ancient artwork depicts them wearing long, multicolored clothes, unlike normal Egyptian white attire. But exactly who they were has been unclear. The pharaohs later claimed the Hyksos were foreign invaders who took northern Egypt by force and brought disorder and chaos. But some historians say this was simply ancient Egyptian propaganda.” • The Hyksos were outside agitators!

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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 (MontanaMaven):

MontanaMaven writes: “Wild prairie roses near the Crazy Mountains in Montana.” Normally, I wouldn’t run this — 600px is the minimum width at NC — but look at those mountains in the background…

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. hemeantwell

    Yet we increasingly understand that many people are latently ill—latent alcoholics, anorexics, hoarders, compulsive gamblers. A society that goes out of its way to trigger these tendencies is not kind or just. A society that pretends they are merely bad choices, and that whatever follows from them is deserved, is positively cruel. A sole focus on personal responsibility demands herculean effort against long odds,

    Good for TAC. But betcha we won’t hear much of this when more people start turning to theft and robbery in the coming months.

    1. Pelham

      I think I’ve finally figured out TAC. It has to do with what they’re trying to conserve — not markets in a Hobbesian/Hayekian hell but people in a decent society.

      But re this and Richard Wolff’s comment on the loss of main street stores: These are just two more reasons we need to rid ourselves of public access to the internet, which by its very nature is inimical to a decent society and immune to any kind of regulatory fix. It needs to go.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        I’ve had that rather uncomfortable thought, too,lol.
        perhaps humanity…or the american subspecies…wasn’t quite ready for the world wide web.
        as for “conservative” outlets being right, sometimes…I used to frequent Front Porch Republic, but they’ve gone down in the quality of the thought since the founder died.
        I’m a New Dealer in public(Bernie was the compromise), but a libertarian socialist in real life(my world ain’t ready for that, either,lol)…but i can appreciate people who value a few things that i find important, even if we disagree on a great many, perhaps less important, things.
        I found FPR while investigating the phenomenon of Team Blue telling people like me to “just move to where the jobs are”…
        I like non-insane small c conservatives…Russel Kirk conservatives.
        That’s what TAC has felt like to me, this last year or more.
        (and, for all his hysteria, I’ve liked Dreher for a long while.)
        the sophisticated button pushing from the mainstream right, and their vicious pets, makes such sane islands in conservativeland quite rare, sadly.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          “Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.”

          ― Douglas Adams

        2. Briny

          For what it’s worth, I describe myself as a Marxist-libertarian, and it’s actually accurate. And no, our civiliation is most definitely ready for either of us.

        3. Lil’D

          It all went to hell when arpanet opened up to AOL.
          Then came green card lawyers and the rest of the public detritus

      2. jr

        It is a tentacled thing, worming it’s way into your life, taking you away from others or reading a book or just doing jack. I try to regulate myself but its easy to fall back on, it’s always there. It’s a sugar high, stimulation without substance…not entirely but to a large degree. This site is an exception that proves the rule. I hate it sometimes, the internet that is.

        1. ambrit

          I have the same experience. Some days I have to make myself log off after the basic world news perusals. Otherwise, nothing gets done in the “real” world. It is like an addictive drug.

          1. jr

            Exactly, it is a drug like online games, a therapist told me years ago video games stimulate the brain like cocaine…when I was hard into EVE I would cry if I couldn’t sign on for longer than a few days.

  2. Wyoming

    …..and has been content for President Donald Trump to dominate all the attention, so long as Trump is not advancing his cause, and often setting it back, with all the airtime and headlines.” • Yep.

    Bonaparte: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

  3. Tom Doak

    The woman from Starbucks doesn’t really want half of what people gave the worker – she is just advertising in hope that anti-mask people start a fund for her out of spite, as has happened in other cases. What a country!

  4. John

    The situation in portland is unacceptable. Anonymous “officers” putting people in the back of unmarked cars with no miranda or anything…This is the thing brown shirts and stasi are made of. Trumps authoritarian instincts are going to cost him the election. He is literally doing everything wrong. So i guess there is that as a silver lining. But seriously this is indistinguishable from an abduction. No accountability only leads straight to down the drain.

    1. ambrit

      This is what we taught other countries’ security forces to do, such as Chile under Pinochet, etc.
      The Law of Blowback is coming into effect.

      1. dcblogger

        I have been thinking the same thing, all the things we did to other countries, we are doing to ourselves.

        What is to prevent Trump from disappearing every Democratic precinct captain?

        1. ambrit

          “What is to prevent Trump from disappearing every Democratic precinct captain?”
          Nothing really. Your conjecture very closely mirrors what Obama did to the Occupy Movement. So, this “Improved Cancel Culture” turns out to be a bi-partisan endeavour.

              1. Briny

                Evertime I hear “that can’t happen here” that and the 2012 NDAA immediately come to mind. Pure evil.

              2. Lambert Strether Post author

                Aw, come on. The Mayor of Chicago when the story came out was Rahm Emmanuel, Obama’s chief of staff!*

                * The story came out in the Guardian. And died. None of the Chicago papers picked it up. Rahm, after all, was running for re-election….

            1. Boothroyd

              Speculating here, but didn’t the Obama signed 2012 NDAA authorize indefinite detention without trial of U.S. citizens by kicking on the ‘law of armed conflict’ when the detainee is defined as an enemy combatant, and could this be a DHS dress rehearsal?

              1. Darius

                Yes. The Trump DHS action is authorized under the Obama NDAA. But it’s good, because it was bipartisan. And bipartisan is good. Right?

                1. Boothroyd

                  Yes, and O’s refusal to sign off until all limits on presidential authority were removed speaks volumes to aforementioned bipartisanship.

                2. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > The Trump DHS action is authorized under the Obama NDAA


                  Bipartisan is truth, truth bipartisan,—that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

            2. ambrit

              Hmmm…. a quibble, I admit, but wasn’t the “shutting down” of Occupy the ‘disappearing’ of an idea, a movement, a hope for change? It’s a bit meta, I admit.

              1. Anarcissie

                Actually, shutting OWS down immortalized it. As for people disappearing, some people did disappear for awhile, including the 60-odd-year-old sister of someone I worked for at the time, but then they were allowed to reappear. I guess that shutdown and disappearance was just a little practice.

                By the time it was shut down, OWS had already changed the conversation in America. Mr. O’s Grand Bargain had to be put away for awhile.

                I’ve been observing local activism and I’d say people also learned a lot about organizing these things which may be applied in the near future.

                However, I don’t know what anybody is going to be able to do about forceful secret police abductions, other than fight. Have we come to that?

        2. martell

          I don’t think he has the power to do that. Not yet, anyway. That said, what’s happening in Portland is certainly a bad omen.

          As for the local political angle, I just heard this interesting take on things from a longtime Portland resident. The mayor, Wheeler, was on the defensive as the protests began. He was out of town when they started and by the time he got home many if not most of the people in the streets were calling for his resignation. But then things took a turn in the mayor’s favor. There was a protest that supposedly turned violent in the north of town, one of the few remaining areas with a predominantly Black population (most of the others having been eliminated through gentrification). Fires were set, allegedly with the objective of burning down a police precinct building and killing everyone trapped inside. Wheeler showed up at the site the very next day flanked by local Black leaders, all of whom condemned the protest. Score one for the mayor. Still, the protests are a problem for Wheeler insofar as they are quite incompatible with the interests of the local business community, or at least that part of that community that actually conducts most of its business in town. So, even if the violence, real or merely imagined, has helped Wheeler politically, he can’t just let it go on indefinitely. But he can’t be seen as cracking down on a protest movement that has a great deal of local support either ( there are lots of BLM signs all over town, plus a smattering of “ACAB” and “Abolish the Police”). Here’s a possible solution: let the federales deal with the outstanding troublemakers; at the same time, Wheeler can publicly object to the actions of federal agents, all the while claiming that there’s not a thing he can do to stop them. Clean hands.

        3. hunkerdown

          Their replacements being possible Sanders supporters, for one. Neither wing of the neoliberal uniparty wants that!

          Jeez, stop larping. Both parties work to keep us submissive to the same ruling class and both of them need to be sabotaged to the point of inoperability, not spoken of as if legitimate vehicles of power.

    2. allan

      An excellent legal Twitter account to follow is administrative law professor Steve Vladeck at UT-Austin:

      Steve Vladeck @steve_vladeck
      Federal law enforcement officers are principally tasked with enforcing *federal* law.

      Like many states, Oregon has specifically authorized federal law enforcement officers
      to also enforce *state* law.

      But the authorization comes with important caveats: …

      Caveats? What kind of furrin language is that?

    3. polecat

      So, the Mayor is not at all responsible for allowing things to get out of hand in the 1st place ?? This IS happening on his watch, after all …. as was the case recently concerning his Seattle compatriot up north.

      .. and no, I’m not giving DHS a pass either.

      1. Keith

        Sadly, it is what the majority of his voters want, hence why he lets it get out of hand rather than having his police force keep the peace and protect property.

        1. JTMcPhee

          What a strange idea, that a Mayor or any other “official” somehow has the power to keep “the people” off the streets, without the wherewithal or intent to address the reasons people go into the streets in the first place.

          Glad to see the reactionaries among us springing up in defense of “protecting property and keeping the peace.” A state of civic peace being sort of predicated on the absence of reasons for people to get uppity and angry and desperate. And all we read here at NC is the litany of actions and defaults by “officials” to rein in the depredations of the powerful, cooperate to suppress dissent, and indeed to “protect property” above all other rights.

          Any idea on the scheduling of Ragnarok,the apotheosis of anomie, this time around?

        2. Lost in OR

          The Portland police union has a long and storied history of justifying any and all police brutality. The PD and the mayor make awkward bedfellows at best.

          Keeping the peace and protecting property is becoming a centrist pipe dream. Coercing compliance is becomeing increasingly challenging as the economy melts down, people get evicted, all we can expect from health care is “access”, a massive upward shift in wealth we are living through, and finally, an election process the gives us no options.

          Perhaps, wherever you are, you are quite comfortable with your peace and your property. I’m not. This ship of state is going to hell in a hurry and I appreciate those motivated to raise the temperature a bit.

          Have a better day;-)

          1. polecat

            So basically, in your opinion(s) all property is to be forfeited to the Mob .. to destroy as they see fit?? Be careful what you wish for .. for, depending on the idpol/anarchic whim, it might be you or your’s that’s next for the cleansing!

            1. JBird4049

              Too often the cry of “public safety” and “the protection of (all private) property” is used to protect the powerful and the police from the demands, even the mere words, of the people. Should we go to the approved “Free Speech Zone” for the comfort and safety our betters?

              1. polecat

                So who pays for the damage caused …??

                I don’t see much in the way of ‘protesters’ taking it for team Anarchy, by, at a minimum, scrubbing off the graffiti they sprayed .. no, let the taxpaying public pay* for the service of any remediation involved in ‘cleanup’, right?
                Really, how far do you take this??

                *meaning the loss of local businesses destroyed though wanton vandalism/property destruction.

    4. The Rev Kev

      Putting people in the back of unmarked. Hmm. I saw a film clip showing this before and I am fairly positive that it was during the occupy Wall Street Protests but I do not think that it was in New York. There was a demonstration of people in an open street, a van pulls up, opens the door, a bunch of uniformed goons get out to grab one particular protestor, bundles them straight away into the van and they are off. They wore camos too if I recall. I guess that wearing black uniforms would have been too close to the mark.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Camo and web gear is I guess the new Brown Shirt… Ask an Afghan or Iraqi or Syrian or Venezuelan or Nicaraguan or Chilean how happy they are to see folks so dressed patrolling their streets, to “keep the peace” by “protecting the property” of the Owners of Everything…

        1. JBird4049

          When I first heard of unidentifiable armed men jumping out of white vans here, I thought about the white Ford Falcons which were the Chilean DINA‘S vehicle of choice during their excursions looking for leftists, communists, unionists, teachers, and other troublemakers.

      2. barefoot charley

        In Seattle in 1999, same unmarked exotic goons, plucking and abducting not very many media-crowned leaders. They were released soon enough as things settled, no charges I don’t think, so no one to charge them. Federals in new armored trucks. Some things don’t change, except for getting worse.

  5. upstater

    I read the Slotkin piece yesterday. Made me woozy. Obviously a 0.01 percenter heiress. 3 CIA tours in Iraq? What sort person would volunteer for that?

    Almost makes me want to contribute to the Republican.

    1. John Wright

      I particularly like that the article has

      “When one of Elissa Slotkin’s staffers passed along a New York Times report alleging that Russia had put
      bounties on the heads of American troops in Afghanistan—and that President Donald Trump either did
      not consume the relevant intelligence or did not act upon it—“my stomach,” the Michigan
      congresswoman says, “dropped to my knees.”

      One very important word is “alleging” and given that she is an ex-CIA analyst she must know that the sinking of the Maine (Spanish-American war) and the “Gulf of Tonkin” incident were treated as fact (until they eventually were not).

      A former CIA analyst should know about the events of “Charlie Wilson’s” war in which Russian soldiers were killed with USA’s help in Afghanistan.

      Per Wikipedia “the story of U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson and CIA operative Gust Avrakotos, whose efforts led to Operation Cyclone, a program to organize and support the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet–Afghan War.”

      One might suggest the USA offered valuable support to Afghans, via the CIA, to kill Russians in this war, and while it may not have been cash bounties, it may have achieved the same effect.

      A former CIA analyst has her “stomach drop to her knees” when she hears this alleged information?

      Sensitive stomach has she.

      1. Alex Cox

        Which raises a question that isn’t being asked, for some reason…

        Which candidate/party is more likely to get into an armed confrontation with Russia, as a result of all of these invented stories of Russian malfeasance?

        Which of the two parties is more invested in anti-Russian hostility at this stage?

  6. ambrit

    This admittedly jaundiced view from the ‘ground level’ is that the ‘burbs will be just jake with the roving unmarked cars spiriting “people” away from their neighbourhoods. There already is an increase in visible homelessness and property crime in our neck of the woods, (the NADS.) Once the Great Unhousing picks up steam, there will be a literal explosion of homeless people wandering the streets and stealing whatever isn’t nailed down in order to eat, much less pander to any vices they might have.
    Be watchful. The new wave of homeless people won’t be your ‘average’ drink or drug addled “losers,” incapable of planned and cleverly executed felonious enterprise. The general run of the mill street crook right now is sub-par as far as criminal competence is concerned. The oncoming wave of new potential ‘Illegal Acquisitions’ specialists will be ‘cleaner’ and more focused. They will learn to do the crime right.
    A big wave of “lawlessness” is building, and the unmarked carloads of militarized ‘Organs of State Security’ will be welcomed by the remaining lower middle and upper working class citizens as bulwarks against the perceived rising tide of savagery and barbarism.
    Perhaps the only realistic counter-measure to be available will be for some enterprising sorts to organize mid-sized groups of armed “losers” and begin raiding the gated communities that sit in rings around the urban centres. As the history of Germany right after the end of WW-1 shows, not all veterans are right wing nutters. There were, and always will be left wing partisans as well. The Bonus Army in America in 1932 showed that middle of the road veterans could be mobilized for political action; in that case, on the left.
    The history of the Post WW-1 Spartacus League in Germany is instructive.
    Read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spartacus_League
    America needs something similar to show the so far complacent Neo-liberal Dispensation what real opposition looks like.

    1. foghorn longhorn

      The gated communities are sitting there like the blue light specials at the old K Marts.
      The m.o. out here in the hinterlands is to look as nondescript from the road as possible.
      Oh yeah, have a fast, big azz guard dog patrolling the joint.
      Good luck to all in the coming ‘strange times’.

    2. dcblogger

      Once the Great Unhousing picks up steam, there will be a literal explosion of homeless people wandering the streets and stealing whatever isn’t nailed down in order to eat, much less pander to any vices they might have.

      you obviously have had zero contact with homeless people. they are far more likely to be the victims of crime than the perpetrators.

      1. ambrit

        I’ll concede you the point about the “olde school” homeless. That population is heavily weighted towards the infirm and substance abuse sufferers. However, the upcoming wave of homeless people are a different breed. They will have been socialized to expect a ‘decent’ standard of living and to be cognizant of the lawlessness rife at the top of the social pyramid. The switch from an obviously failed respect for the “norms” of the society into a more “robust” adoption of “lawless” behaviour as seen to be employed with impunity by the “upper classes” will be ‘revolutionary.’ Add to the above the sheer increase in numbers “on the street,” and you begin to evolve a population of “homeless” too physically large for the Organs of State Security to adequately manage. Something along the lines of the methodology formalized at the Wannsee Conference in 1942 will be needed to ensure the continued primacy of the Status Quo.
        On a side note, the present cohort of ‘homeless’ and ‘marginalized’ people around here already employ theft and robbery to get what they need. That trend is already increasing in scope and intensity. This is with a small increase in the number of desperate people in the community.
        So, this year, the ground rules of “homelessness” will change, probably for the worst.

        1. Keith

          The Fall of Money is (I think) the title of a book that decision ails the descent of Weimar Germany into hyper Inflation and a dictator ship. The city folk did go out and raid the rural areas for food. They would leave the farmers their “fair share.” Not sure how an armed US population would react or how it would play out. Opsec is important.

          1. ambrit

            I’ll look it up. Thanks for the link. This is why the NC Commenteriat is the bestest commenteriat!

        2. dcblogger

          44% of the homeless are employed; or at least before coronavirus they were. Most homeless do not have a history of substance abuse or jail. those ideas of homelessness were never true and especially have not been true since the great melt down of 2008.

          I used to work in retail. The average shop lifter is a white woman in her 30’s with enough money in her purse to pay for what she stole.

          1. ambrit

            We were in that 44% for half a year back in the 1980s. We lived in a tent on State park campgrounds.
            I have had direct contact with the homeless population of our immediate area for the last two years or so. So many of those I have spoken to have substance abuse problems that I wonder if I had slipped into some Dickensian alternate universe. I tried to understand some people who lived in a hobo jungle next to the “Ghetto WalMart” two years ago. That place has since been ‘sterilized’ by the coppers and the owner pretty much clear cutting the ten acre spot. (Anything smaller than a foot in diameter was felled.) That ‘homeless’ ‘community’ moved to the ‘best’ available spot left, an area next to the railroad tracks on the edge of the gangbanger neighbourhood. The NGO homeless shelters are very strict as to what they will tolerate in their ‘clients.’ One place is notorious for giving the boot to anyone caught using profanity more than once on their premises. Another requires nightly prayer service attendance. The list goes on.
            I still say that the upcoming wave of, as Amfortas so accurately puts it, ‘Nouveau Homeless,’ will be a game changer. Finally, the ‘hard times’ will be biting the formerly staid and secure Middle Class demographic. Is anyone preparing to organize this group?

              1. ambrit

                I do not know the ‘homeless’ community as well as I should. I seem to have encountered the ‘dregs’ of the phenomenon.
                We were lucky in that I was working a full time job with a decent wage for the labour involved. We still couldn’t afford to rent due to something we called back then, the Oil Patch Swindle. The offshore oil workers were making so much more than the earthbound workers that they had bid up the accommodations beyond what most “regular” workers could afford. It was very similar to what I have read happens in Silicon Valley today. We lived in a tent, but we never starved. Many of today’s homeless are looking hungry.
                The mythical ‘Hardy Pioneers’ of American song and story needed something to bind them together so that they would willingly cooperate and jointly sacrifice. Some were co-religionists, some were united in the quest for a ‘better life,’ while many were united by simple greed. All the afore mentioned items were points of stability in the people’s lives. Today’s homeless generally do not have such stability.
                My main complaint with the NGO shelters is that they work off of the theory that the homeless are responsible for their plight. Self reliance and reliance on a supernatural power only go so far. Eventually, the community must accept it’s responsibility for the weak and unlucky in it’s midst.
                Sorry for the rant. I’m getting tired.
                You keep organizing and stay safe!
                I have an inestimable resource that the real homeless do not. By having a home to which I can flee if needed, I do not have that sense of dread that I have had described to me by those barely existing in tents or sleeping rough. Adversity does not breed character. It just exposes and ‘sharpens’ whatever character was ‘there’ to begin with.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Finally, the ‘hard times’ will be biting the formerly staid and secure Middle Class demographic. Is anyone preparing to organize this group?

              The key question. (Although, as DSA shows, the issue of organizing the downwardly mobile so they can regain their ability to be upwardly mobile has contradictions.)

              1. ambrit

                The ‘downward’ part of the equation can be finessed if the ‘downwardness’ can be demonstrated to be equally distributed. There is real power in social ‘sharing’ arrangements.
                A redefinition of the concept of social mobility is in order.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > I used to work in retail. The average shop lifter is a white woman in her 30’s with enough money in her purse to pay for what she stole.

            Named Karen?

            1. JoeK

              OK here’s a toe-hold to comment on the neologism “Karen.”

              It may seem trifling, but I for one think it speaks a small volume about how crass we’ve gotten, that a common woman’s name has been turned into a derisive epithet.

              Some of you will be familiar with the term “Jody” for the guy that takes a serving Marine’s girlfriend away from him.

              Or the term “Fabio” for a guy that’s got all the gear–for cycling, climbing, ‘boarding–and maybe fabulous hair to boot, but none of the chops, or scars; hasn’t put in the work and taken his lumps.

              I’ve never known a man named Jody, and I’ve only known of one Fabio (tho I’ve never lived in the “sun-burn’t nations,” much to my regret), and I think those word choices were intentional, or at least conditional. We (gung-ho outdoor types) wouldn’t have called a poser a Dave or a Mark, or a Joe, since….well that might be the name of the dude you’re biking or climbing with.

              I have, or rather had, a Karen who was very dear to me. Hearing her name used as a term of derision, at times slander, is just a little painful each time. I doubt I’m alone in this regard.

              But again it speaks to what seems to me to be a widespread breakdown in not just empathy, but the capacity for it, and its not-so-gradual replacement with self-righteousness. I wonder if there’s even any moral high-ground any more, or just expanses of muck and swamp with small hillocks of relative sanity and compassion here and there.

              1. Cruel and unusually funny

                Thanks for that aside through the door left ajar, gravitas too. Here it is, i’ll quote another poster on nc (jr) . It’s all cheerleading and the language is almost childish in it’s insistence that you accept the basic goodness of this crap. Someone else pointed out we in the uk, recognise name-calling (taking the Micky) and I remember Fabio with total and vague, even, indifference which I extend to you (empathy will be taught in schools..)
                Anywho, it’s a good ploy to show how social media isn’t (more) corporate media with it’s loop of authoritative uncertainty, when the last time they told us anything important and a wider question, is the domain name furrenzy going to have repercussions on who can cut who’s internet access?

                Sensing a bit of internet fatigue around the watercooler, none of you have ever missed a brush but when you do go back after a hiatus, there’s blood and the teeth look worse awhile.
                Moral, every construct can be weaponised, every profile keeps an eye on the bidding, and the pessimism about the down and out looking imperiously back in, is good JoeK keep your head up.

        3. rowlf

          There was a group in the Atlanta area that would drive around the suburbs and check for unlocked vehicles or vehicles with valuable items in them to get into. What made the group dangerous was that they would drop off two people to search vehicles and the rest would get out and be around the drop off vehicle with firearms out covering the residence in case anyone came out. That raised their profile for local sheriffs and they got caught in a short time.

          The local sheriff says his department is getting a lot of Atlanta police officers looking for new employment. There have been TV news stories of other sheriffs also getting many Atlanta police looking to bail out of the city.

        4. Michael Fiorillo

          Actually, the homeless population is heavily weighted towards children, as the coming tsunami of homelessness will also be.

          As in the ’30’s: widespread hunger amid food dumping, rampant homelessness amid empty housing…

        5. Lambert Strether Post author

          > So, this year, the ground rules of “homelessness” will change, probably for the worst.

          Homeless camps are, as I understand, petri dishes for COVID-19. So perhaps the problem will take care of itself, without the need for special treatment.

          1. ambrit

            If you include the NGOs ‘homeless facilities’ in the petri dish idea, you begin to see a major challenge for “faith based” groups of all stripes. Real saints, in effect, the people so selfless as to be willing to suffer and die for their fellow Terran Human, are very few and far between. Expect to see a falling away of the general population of NGO volunteer. The NGOs may well see a critical shortage of appropriate labour with the concomitant falling off of ‘good works.’ Fewer and smaller shelters means more people out on the street under “normal” conditions. With the Noveau Homeless wave coming, the problem will be an order of magnitude worse.
            This actually will require a governmental level of response. No number of NGOs will be able to handle it.

        6. neo-realist

          Home Invasions? for the purpose not of robbery of consumer goods from the homeowners, but to evict them and become the new “homeowners?

          This made me think of a movie I saw recently called “Get In” A couple rents out their home to squatters only for the squatters refusing to leave. The homeowners took the necessary steps to evict them, but are failed by the justice system. Without giving out too much plotline, this leads to a violent confrontation involving other elements that tried to take the house as well.

          This really makes you think of what will happen when the poop really hits the fan, economically. How crime and violence could unfold between the have nots – no employment, no money, no homes and the haves, not the 1% or 10% ones, for they are well hidden and well protected for the most part, but rather the haves that may be working to upper middle class that have homes and a relatively stable economic situation.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        he’s talking about the soon to appear Nouveau Homeless, who can likely be expected to retain a lot of their expectations, and rage against their decline.
        at LATOC, back in the day, we called them Mutant Zombie Bikers(MZB), but i expect that they’ll look a lot more like Ken and Karen, with cheaper threads.
        Glad I’m 100 miles from anywhere,lol.

        and this, above:”The m.o. out here in the hinterlands is to look as nondescript from the road as possible.”-Mr Leghorn
        we’ve had a few New Oil Money People buy up distressed legacy ranch spreads out here and…along with their bunkers and gun rooms(I know local contractors)…put up ostentatious gates, with large flags, statuary and lights…way out in the middle of nowhere. Crazy, to me…to move way the hell out here and need to Be Seen to have any self-worth,lol.
        wife often complains about our dirt road(we’re a mile off the highway) not being graded enough. I frelling Like it that way!
        Keeps people from wandering back in here and finding us.

        1. Keith

          It also allows you to know that if they are their, it is very likely they are up to no good.

            1. polecat

              Anyone here ever read the “Parable of the Sower” ?

              The events portrayed in that book seem ever closer to a future reality near to any one of us… Intra/Interstate migrations. Sever resource constraints.Failing government structures. Social upheaval. Neighborhoods/ blocks against one another. Highwaymen. The whole discombobulated enchiladad!

              I found the gist of the novel quite believable.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            i can lie in my bed and listen and know which of my neighbors it is driving by.
            UPS is more recognisable than FedEx
            every now and again, we’ll have some passerby on the highway come down to the front of our place and take a crap, walk their dog, etc.(not since i put the (still empty) beehive up there)
            and I’ve witnessed at least 4 folks, over 25 years, drop off unwanted cats and dogs, up at the cattleguard.Most of the wastrels end up incorporated into mom’s ad hoc menagerie.
            Hunting Season can be a challenge, if it’s a certain kind of citified hunter,lol…driving by gawking at us, like they’re on one of those drive through safari parks.
            It is unideal that the county road runs right through a portion of our place,lol. but nothing i can really do about it.
            better “security”, by far, than what’s available elsewhere to people of my limited means.

            being used to this is why i can’t sleep at my brother’s or my dad’s place…I hear every car and yell and slamming door all night in such close quarters, whereas they have become accustomed to That state of affairs.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > we’ve had a few New Oil Money People buy up distressed legacy ranch spreads out here and…along with their bunkers and gun rooms(I know local contractors)…put up ostentatious gates, with large flags, statuary and lights…way out in the middle of nowhere.

          Oh, look. A target of opportunity.

      3. foghorn longhorn

        Pretty sure we’ll be seeing the “new and improved” homeless population.
        They are the ex- professional class and they are highly p.o.ed and know how to break things.
        50 million jobs have vanished into thin air.
        It won’t be pretty, no matter which political party you subscribe to.

        1. jr

          I’m seeing it here in NYC, the usual summer homeless but a significant number of them still have nice haircuts, still fresh faced, they haven’t been on the street long. They mostly looked stunned.

          The more seasoned ones are a bit wilder and bolder, they come to the few places left open to beg which is also where the non homeless people are and it makes for some tense moments. A number of them are obviously mentally ill but who isn’t when you’re without a home.

          I spent one night on the streets here, a woman helped me find an overhang to sleep under and advised me to make a cardboard bed but to avoid food boxes due to late night visitors of the four and six legged variety. It was terrifying. The next day a friend found me a place in some guys luxury apartment. I went from cement to cocktail parties with12 foot palm trees in the living room. I gave her a knife and some money when I said goodbye, someone had attacked her recently.

          FYI if its cold and you want to help a homeless person, give them 5$ minimum. That’s enough to buy a coffee and refills and a bite at Mickey D’s, spend the night.

        2. Dave D'Rave

          foghorn: Agree.
          Many of the newly homeless will be people who know where the bodies are buried, for the usual reason.
          Too many of the political class have done things which they do not want the public to know about, and many of the Nouveau Poor have amazing computer skills.
          Now, we all know that Ghislaine Maxwell is going to die in prison, probably of Covid-19. The Question is: Where are the video tapes she and Epstein made? My guess is “on a server somewhere”.

          Those highly p.o.ed people will have lots of opportunities to break things.

  7. JWP

    RE Portland protest. Might be a bit paranoid here, but I think there’s some real fear I’m having about the Portland stuff. Living in Portland and frequenting sites such as NC and other progressive outlets, protesting, as well as talking with my friends via phone on the matters means there’s a high chance of being “identified” as someone who could be picked up by the psychopaths. This really is third world stuff and all these DHS people and others involved need to be tried for this. Not surprising in the slightest but when the issues we see in the news come close to home and at home it really gets scary. Neither Wheeler (mayor) or Brown (governor) are tough enough to publicly denounce and support protesters and sue the federal gov. Which means until something changes, this will be protested and the situation will get worse. This is where the dems incompetency to take action and GOPs authoritarianism start to clamp down on innocent people. And we haven’t even gotten to the mass evictions and unplayable debts that will inevitably be physically enforced.

    1. Zar

      Right-wing Twitterverse is justifying the arrests by saying the demonstrators are ANTIFA terrorists. And as everyone knows, terrorists are fair game for any sort of detainment, no matter how extrajudicial.

      Any other Portland residents able to comment? I’d like to know the locals’ opinions on the protests, the protesters, and the roving federal officers wearing Schrödinger’s agency patches.

      1. HotFlash

        by saying the demonstrators are ANTIFA terrorists

        Jeez, is it the division shoulder patches that give them away, or do the Feds have to demand their membership cards?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I would expect Antifa to be as easy for cops and the Feds to infiltrate as black bloc was.

          It would be amusing if lumpen goons like ICE compromised a truly professional FBI operation (ok, ok) by over-reaching with their unmarked van schtick.

      2. occasional anonymous

        To be honest, as of right now I’m not particularly worried by this. That will change if this escalates further, but the way I see it this is just Trump being his petulant self. He’s ordered in Federal police because they’re something he actually has direct authority over. He probably gave some vague order to ‘get things under control’, and the cops themselves have no idea what that’s even supposed to mean. So these grunts have just been ordered by their officers to go out and ‘do something’, so they just wander around snatching up people who look like they might be antifa, and then release them later.

          1. Lost in OR

            The way they shut down Boston after the marathon bombing was amazing. I wonder how big an area they could control like that?

            1. ambrit

              The real question is how long the Powers can continue such a shut down. Even the Feds have limits to the resources available to them.

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              It’s the unbadged officers dragging people into unmarked vans and driving off that gets me.

              That’s Third World in a way that the Marathon Bomber lockdown was not.

    2. christofay

      Oh, I was waiting for the mayor and the guvnor to order the police and national guard to counter the fed brown shirts.

    3. p. cerbone

      Can Governor Kate Brown of Oregon direct their National Guard onto the streets of Portland to protect the city from this fascist assault?

  8. PeasantParty

    Wow! This wasn’t the Watercooler, it’s the Break Room! Loads of good stuff. Thanks for all your efforts.

    “A cynic would give consideration to the idea that Slotkin was in on it from the beginning. ”
    You can go ahead and call me a Cynic. I’m still searching for the proof.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Meanwhile, in Oz. They are fighting to get the virus under control in Victoria but it is already spreading across to New South Wales (our most populous States) and into Sydney. So what does the Premier of New South Wales say about going into lockdown? “That’s not a path we want to take.” She also said “We need to find a way in which we can coexist with the virus.” Gawd!

      Hard pressed doctors are saying that the medical services are being pushed to the brink and elimination is the only way to go but some of our politicians are under the illusion that living with the virus is like just dealing with minor spot fires. The virus does not work that way as it is super infectious. Some of our top governmental doctors are just toeing the official line but it looks like this second – unnecessary – outbreak is crippling the “recovery” of the economy so is a massive self-inflicted wound-


      1. Basil Pesto

        I am startled at how mask-resistant the governments here are. I didn’t realise how much this was the case until I read some fluff about masks on ABC news this week (and they were toeing the gov’t line on mask efficacy). They essentially argue that masks are a bit meh, although “new research” apparently unearthed last week has led them to partially revise their position in Victoria (but nowhere else), although the advice really seems to amount to “you should probably wear a mask if you can, whatever”. Meanwhile they’re sticking to the 1.5m distance thing, which I thought was thoroughly outdated?

        vis à vis the masks, I wonder if it’s a Faucian lie to protect the supply of masks? It’s hard to make sense of otherwise

        1. The Rev Kev

          Hi, Basil. A coupla months ago, Australia’s former Chief Medical Officer – Dr. Brendan Murphy – was doing a Fauci and was saying that masks were not only unnecessary but could be dangerous but did not say at the time that it was because masks were in short supply back then.

          If you go to the Australian Department of Health site and look on what they have to say on masks today, it states-

          The advice about wearing masks in the community has been the same since the pandemic began: it is not generally recommended.


          Yeah, like in America as far as the federal government is concerned, we’re on our own.

          1. anon in so cal

            I ordered some Filti mask inserts the other day and also some Filtrete 1900 HVAC filters, after reading the article posted on NC about the efficacy of different materials for D-I-Y masks.



            There’s also this: “Face Masks May be Necessary and Sufficient to Stop Covid-19”


  9. Di Modica's Dumb Steer

    That Wells Fargo piece (along with the Portland stuff, but others discussed that better than I could) was really awful. Not the reporting, mind you…I’ve not read anything by Gretchen Morgenson that wasn’t top notch, but how depressing. Wells, one of the worst of the TBTF, and certainly one of the least repentant, is engaging in even MORE sketchy behavior. The funny bit is that we have no clue how deep it goes, currently, since these instances were only discovered because the homeowners were going through bankruptcy in addition to the forbearance.

    And for what? A few hundred bucks a pop? What penny-ante trash. Obviously, the residence is a much bigger asset, but I don’t have any real faith that banks can properly maintain a large number of foreclosed properties.

    I always tell my friends and family that if they NEED to use one of the big banks as opposed to a credit union, for the love of God and everything else, avoid Wells Fargo. Until they’re broken up, and the C-Suite is preferably jailed, they’re going to keep doing really scammy crap like this.

    The story seems to have disappeared. Link for the curious –

  10. RMO

    Looking for advice, links etc. on perhaps setting up my own email server. The ISP I’ve been with for decades (Telus – the current iteration of “The Phone Company” out here) which is also our television and cellphone provider has decided to stop hosting their own email and move everyone to Gmail. They’re staging the transition and lots of customers who have already gone through it have had enormous problems. And it’s Google, therefor evil. Naturally there won’t be any decrease in fees charged even though they’re offloading all the work. And of course if I wanted my email to be through Google I could have done it for free! The privacy issues are what I’m most worried about of course. Enough that I’m willing to go through what it takes to transition to a new email address and going so far as to build my own server if needed.

    Currently I’m also trying to find out if any of the alternate ISP’s still offer their own email services. That information seems hard to find on their webpages though. If necessary I’m willing to go through what’s needed to have my own email. I’m even willing to dedicate a machine to the task in my own house if that’s the best way to go. Internet, cable, telephone and power are very reliable here.

    1. fajensen

      You could buy a domain name and use a web server + email with a hosting company. A low volume service is very reasonable.

      I pay someone called one.com about USD 20 per year – less than the cost of the electricity it would take to run my own server.

      Running ones own servers is a lot of work, and not worth it, IMO.

    2. Jason Boxman

      If there is such a service, find it! I gave up hosting my own email over a decade ago. It’s an enormous hassle to ensure you have the proper MX and DNS setup, with DKIM and TXT records, that you don’t get on a DNS blacklist and your email is blackhole’d and you can’t stop it, and on and on. Find an organization you trust for that.

      And managing the spam, oh my. I never want to do email administration again in my life, ever. Setting up Spam Assassin and Dspam and dealing with crafting custom regex rules, mail user agent blacklists, DNS blacklists, and on and on, no, never again.

    3. diptherio

      For $25/yr you can get a MayFirst membership (they’re a co-op) that will get you the following:

      If you choose to only pay the membership dues, you are entitled you to a single @mail.mayfirst.org email address, Nextcloud account and XMPP/Jabber chat account

      Nextcloud is a google docs replacement. Never used Jabber, so I’m not sure what that’s about.


    4. Schtubb

      I run my own email server out of my basement. Fajensen is correct, it’s not easy, and it’s not for everyone – heck, it’s hardly for anyone. I have the skills to do it, but even those I know who are as paranoid as I am AND skilled enough to do it, don’t. It’s just too much hassle to set up.

      Google still ends up reading much of my mail because they read the other side – most of my correspondents are using Gmail, and those that aren’t are using Microsoft email, which has moved to a hosted model yielding the same intrusion I expect.

      I also believe that all emails sent in this country are warehoused by the NSA – text compresses well, and I expect the “take” can be stored for many years, especially if they chose to dump attachments for currently unwatched citizens, in which case you should assume they’ll have it forever.

      Why do I bother then? Because it’s literally everything I can do. It may not be enough, but I won’t just give up and lie down in the road to be run over.

      There is one half-step that’s worth doing which normal people might be able to figure out: Get yourself your own email domain and email address that you own. Register the relevant domain with a registrar. Then, hook that domain up to a webmail hosting service. You can even use Gmail (which I will admit is technically excellent and works well.)

      The advantage then is that the email address is yours, and you can MOVE IT to some other back end whenever you chose without having to tell everyone your new address. This is the email equivalent of owning your own cell phone number, and being able to port it.

      If there were a strong commercial reason to make personal, private, encrypted emails easy to set up, it would have happened 15 years ago. But there are many profitable reasons NOT to, so it stays pathetic and broken.

    5. HotFlash

      Ditto fajensen. It’s fairly cheap, I do it thru Canadian Webhosting and as I am a reseller I can part out my chunk o’ webspace to 4-5-6 or more other interesteds and we all win, financial-wise. Now, I recommend a foreign (EU or such) host for their more stringent regs on privacy, Cda is (maybe) better than USA, but really — who knows?

    6. Glen

      Even setting up your own email server gets you into the world of OS security which is a whole nuther bag of worms. All of the popular OSes have back doors to let in the “good guys” when they come knocking. Check out Linus Torvald’s reaction to that question (you have to watch):


      If you are just looking for more secure email, you may be interested in ProtonMail:


      It’s based in Switzerland, and provides end to end encryption with clients for smartphones too. I use the free service (well, I signed up for the beta testing years ago just for fun).

      Like others mentioned, you really only have fully secured email if both ends of the service are locked up tight i.e. encrypted at both ends. But I’m also sure that could get you flagged for that little bit more of extra attention.

      But if you REALLY want to be much more secure in today’s world, I would chuck the smartphone first. It is always tracking, always listening. And then dump the Alexia (or whatever) because it just sits in your house and listens 24/7 too.

    7. maxi

      hey, first of all, definitely want to encourage your information gathering here, but here are my thoughts as a deeply technical person:

      it is really, really hard to make sure that a single mail server doesn’t end up on some blacklist, somewhere, that google (or yahoo, etc.) flag as spammy, then all of your mails end up in spam. some times you’ll be fine, but other times you’ll never overcome what the tech titans think, and it’s not like there’s a phone number to call… so unless you have deep technical expertise (think command line, changing DNS records, etc.) and lots of time to test, i’d recommend against that.

      i would instead humbly suggest grabbing your own domain name and using a backend service that handles the mail server part for you. think of this as having a phone number that you can choose which carrier does the actual phone handling, and change them fairly easily should you need or want to.

      getting a domain name is fairly easy, just check out a registrar site (i’m happy to recommend the one i use personally + professionally, but don’t want to appear like a shill).

      likewise, several providers will power the mail server stuff for you at a reasonable fee, like $5/mo. again, i’m happy to recommend some but don’t want to come across as too spammy.

      happy to help further!

    8. hunkerdown

      Once upon a time, having a small menagerie of various junk workstations from WeirdStuff Warehouse in one’s home was a sign of a true professional. 20 years later I know that stuff well enough, and I still prefer to avoid the heartbleed for what little I host.

      First, if you don’t care where your email is hosted as long as it’s not on one of the major data harvesters, you might look into domain registrars, some of whom will offer you a mailbox on their (or “their”, check to be sure) server as a freebie with purchase of a .com domain or whatever. It’s strongly advised you have your own email domain anyway, if for nothing else than being able to take your email address with you no matter what.

      Second, you might call around to your local business IT shops. An email server breaks even on the order of a hundred customers and a few hundred mailboxes. Some of the larger shops administer their own mail service, often on hardware you can actually be in the same building with. You might even be able to see the sysadmin in passing but don’t try to stop him (for his safety and yours!).

      1. RMO

        Thanks for the advice everyone – I’ll look into those options particularly the domain hosting with email one. I knew there were quite a few commenters here with pretty deep tech knowledge. I’m not overly concerned with the idea of ensuring I have some sort of ironclad secure email but I really don’t want to just give everything to Google on a platter as I would with Gmail. I’m also fairly infuriated that my ISP is planning to A: hand us all over to Gmail and B: keep charging us the same amount they did when they were providing email service – they’re not going to lower the fees so essentially they want their customers to pay them for using a service available at no cost direct from Google!

        1. farmboy

          had the same email address for 30 years, starting with a small local company that successively got eaten by bigger fish until today it’s sisna. Spam filtering is exceptional, security too.
          Time to get back into Studs Terkel, Hard Times for a feel of what might be coming. What used to get whispered about after church is now on social media as per the reddit story, internet genie not going back in the bottle, while we look backward into the future, it washes over us like the morning sun at dawn. We are taxing, expanding our empathy until it’s real enough to matter.

  11. Schtubb

    Every politician who objects to this, but also voted to pass or renew the Patriot Act, is witless or a hypocrite. If there’s a legal theory behind these abductions, it’ll be something out of the Bush administration: domestic terrorist = no rights. (Given this is Trump, there may in fact be no legal theory behind it whatsoever, which we should hope for since it might alert those in wishful denial that we’re living in a extra-legal state.)

    Whatever we do abroad in violation of human rights and civil liberties eventually comes home to roost. We asked for this when we started Guantanamo and pretended the masked, anonymous thugs would stay there. The only thing separating us from Chile is helicopters flying over the sea to dump the bodies.

    1. HotFlash

      The only thing separating us from Chile is helicopters flying over the sea to dump the bodies.

      So far as we know, yet.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The only thing separating us from Chile is helicopters flying over the sea to dump the bodies.

      See “How Many People Did the CIA Process at Its Stare Kiejkuty “Black Site,” and Where Are They Now?” at NC (2014).

      The final paragraph is a bit oblique:

      As for how the prisoners left, and where they went, unless they went to Gitmo, we just don’t know. If I’m anywhere near right on the back-of-the-envelope calculations, then there are a minimum of several hundred prisoners unaccounted for. I hope the CIA got them to sign nondisclosure agreements, as opposed to (say) following the example of the Argentian services in the days of their military dictatorship. Because that would be bad. Of course, the complete release of the Senate Select Committee’s report may lay this issue to rest. What we do know is that a censored or incomplete release will not.

      “Following the example of the Argentian services in the days of their military dictatorship” means that I think we threw the unaccounted-for prisoners out of airplanes flying over the Atlantic.

  12. orlbucfan


    Please do your write-up on the Bernie Sanders’ canvassers. I was an unpaid 2016/2020 volunteer, and face-to-face canvassing was one of my strengths. 2020 was not run as well as 2016, at least one my neck of the woods (FL).

    1. Arizona Slim

      Agreed. Here in Tucson, the campaign had staff in town well before the March 2016 primary. This time around? I didn’t meet a single staffer.

  13. Toshiro_Mifune

    The story is now firmly in the mainstream

    Only, and I do mean only, because it can be placed at Trump’s feet. Otherwise they wouldn’t care and if Biden wins they’ll go back to silence.

    1. Keith

      Exactly, it is only a problem when your team is attacked, when they are attacking other, no problem.

      How many people would be concerned if they were raiding a klan rally instead?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      It will be like Bush’s assassination program. Bush just sent out a wet team or a drone and whacked people. Obama created a process, with a “kill list,” then re-named “disposition matrix.” Then he sent out a wet team or a drone and whacked people.

  14. Basil Pesto

    Tom Frank’s “The People, NO” (the spine tells me this is the correct stylisation of the title) came yesterday. I’m about 50 pages in. My suspicion is that it will turn out to be more of a sequel to L,L than I was expecting. In any case, from what I’ve read so far, I suspect Lambert will enjoy it immensely. There is a very plus ça change vibe to the first chapter. This chapter also reveals that the populists may have paved the way in part for MMT! (this is my reading, not Frank’s formulation)

    Also worth mentioning isvthat Frank is really a very good writer, and I don’t say that lightly as this is the kind of tokenistic praise that seems to be hesped upon all writers of non-fiction. I particularly enjoy his zestily ironic footnotes.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Tom Frank’s “The People, NO” (the spine tells me this is the correct stylisation of the title)

      I have read the first few chapters. Listen, Liberal! was really red meat for me. This book, not so much, although maybe it builds.

  15. ewmayer

    [8:31 pm EDT today] RIP TWA flight 800. I knew someone on that flight. Hard to believe it’s already 24 years, a whole generation, ago.

  16. jr

    Ok, I’m calling the McCloskeys AND Lin-Manuel Miranda will be running for office in the next two years, maybe three.

      1. jr

        Perhaps Miranda’s next theatrical abomination will be about the McCloskeys….I can see the actors whirling and dipping, rhinestone covered polo shirts glittering like stars, rubber M16s spinning in their deft hands…Kanye swooping over the audience, suspended by a wire…

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      thanks for that.
      pretty thoughtful site.
      got about 10 other stories from there to read in the am.

  17. VietnamVet

    WaPo has started to highlight the basic conflict between globalists, nationalists and populists. But, The Globalist Post confuses populists with nationalists. So they have no alternative but to shill globalism.

    An NBC puff piece on the killer cold vaccine interviewed the ground staff unloading the vaccine precursor off a 747 who said this is now a global world. Al Gore’s reinventing government worked so great that it eliminated itself. In the USA there is nobody to fight the coronavirus pandemic except for profit corporations. Without a functional government, people are powerless. The haphazard 50 state public health mess has failed except for three green far NE states and Hawaii. The current debacle will continue until the successful states and communities that wear masks, test, trace, and isolate the infected will have to quarantine themselves from the rest of a very sick nation. Only the restoration of constitutional democracy and a national public health system will avoid this.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > he current debacle will continue until the successful states and communities that wear masks, test, trace, and isolate the infected will have to quarantine themselves from the rest of a very sick nation. Only the restoration of constitutional democracy and a national public health system will avoid this.

      I can see something like strongly enforced state quarantines — inspections, papers, state troopers, and quarantines in motels by the border — triggering a Constitutional crisis.

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