2:00PM Water Cooler 7/24/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

#COVID19

At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Our five problem states (Florida, Texas, California, Georgia, and Arizona), with New York for comparison:

Another few days of this and I’ll have to call a peak (though not, I think, without another deep dive into the data-gathering).

This includes new cases and positivtity (because deaths scrunch together at the bottom of the chart and I don’t trust that data anyhow; excess deaths would be nice). In terms of undercounting as measured by positivity (higher is bad), the order from worst to best would be AZ, FL, TX, GA, CA, and CA, at 7.42%, is still too high by WHO standards (they want 5%).

Here are some smaller states in the South and West, with Arizona (from the chart above) for comparsion, because New York scrunches the chart together:

Idaho and Kentucky are really disappointing, because they had good initial responses.

For grins, here is the world:

I don’t see how we can run the sort of empire we run without passports for long, I really don’t. The rest of the world is right to protect their populations, and so but if we cannot “crush” the virus, what then?

CA: “What’s behind the skyrocketing virus cases in Kern” [Bakersfield.com (PI)]. “Clinica Sierra Vista, which operates healthcare clinics for the uninsured, has seen major increases in cases at its south Bakersfield and Lamont centers, said spokesman Tim Calahan. In Lamont, the positive rate to date is 40 percent and in south Bakersfield it’s 29 percent. ‘It’s three-pronged,’ Calahan explained. Those areas are largely Hispanics, a population that has been contracting the virus at higher levels statewide and nationally. People in those areas tend to be essential workers so “they never stopped working during the pandemic.” And they tend to live in multigenerational housing with grandparents, children and grandchildren living in the same home.• PI comments:

The case count in Kern County in California has almost doubled in the last six days, went from 6600 to 12300 today. Here’s a good local summary of the situation, and the cascade of failures, from mundane to systemic, that led to this current mess. At the end it gets to what I think is the main driver of

the sustained numbers in California – poverty and essential workers.

When I asked the other day “is the spread really because of Covid refuseniks?” this is the sort of thing I had in mind. Because if there is an irreducible minimum reservoir of the virus due to “essential workers” brought into close proximity by the nature of their workplaces, then the problem is… well, the wage relation.

FL: “Mounting virus cases spark concern in Florida nursing homes” [Associated Press]. “In the past three weeks, cases have gone from about 2,000 to some 4,800 at Florida nursing homes. Roughly 2,550 long-term care residents and staff have died overall, accounting for about 45% of all virus deaths in Florida…. Florida is paying for COVID-19 tests for all nursing home staff once every two weeks until September and it’s unclear if it will be extended. Larger facilities say testing of staff and residents — at $75 to $125 per kit — can run them up to $300,000 per month. And testing is of only limited benefit if the turnaround in obtaining results does not improve beyond the current seven to 10 days… But without test data, experts say it will be nearly impossible to squelch the spread.”

GA: “Georgia’s governor and Atlanta’s mayor ordered to mediate coronavirus mask fight” [Reuters]. “A Georgia judge on Thursday ordered the governor and Atlanta’s mayor to enter mediation over the governor’s lawsuit aimed at stopping the city from enforcing its requirement that people wear masks in public during the coronavirus pandemic. Fulton Superior Court Judge Jane Barwick ordered Governor Brian Kemp and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to attend mediation with another judge and try to resolve the dispute before an emergency hearing scheduled in the case for Tuesday. Earlier this month, Kemp, a Republican, barred local leaders from requiring people to wear masks. Even so, several Georgia cities, including Democratic-led Atlanta, Savannah and Athens, defied the governor’s order and kept local mandates in place in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Bottoms told reporters that she and Kemp spoke by phone on the matter. ‘We are both in agreement that masks saves lives,’ she said. ‘Hopefully we can move past this.'”

TX: “COVID-19 patients will be ‘sent home to die’ if deemed too sick, Texas county says” [Star-Telegram]. “Starr County once went about three weeks without a COVID-19 case at the beginning of the pandemic. It banned large gatherings, tested hundreds of residents a day, issued stay-at-home orders and required face masks — many of the same mandates now commonplace across the U.S. The poor and mostly Latino county on the Mexico border was containing COVID-19…. But after Gov. Greg Abbott issued orders for the reopening of the state, overriding local control and decision-making, COVID-19 cases surged…. Now Starr County is at a dangerous ‘tipping point,’ reporting an alarming number of new cases each day, data show. Starr County Memorial Hospital — the county’s only hospital — is overflowing with COVID-19 patients…. ‘For all of those patients that most certainly do not have any hope of improving, they are going to be better taken care of within their own family in the love of their own home rather than thousands of miles away dying alone in a hospital room,’ [Jose Vasquez, the county health authority] said.” • If that doesn’t spread the virus, that is what I would want. Although things should never have reached this point.

Politics

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

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

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

The electoral map. 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!

UPDATE FL: “Latest poll of Florida: Joe Biden 50%, Donald Trump 44%” [Florida Politics]. “If the presidential election were held today, 50% of Florida voters would pick Biden and 44% would vote for Donald Trump, according to fresh numbers from St. Pete Polls. Another 2% of voters plan to vote for a third-party candidate while 3% remain undecided. The poll was conducted for Florida Politics and AARP Florida on July 13 and 14. Pollsters report a margin of error of 1.8%. Biden’s 6% lead falls comfortably outside the margin of error. More notable than the gap between the candidates, this marks the first poll from the firm that finds the Democrat enjoying support from more than half of respondents. The low number of undecided voters in the race portends poor news for the President regarding the outcome of the election in his adopted home state.” • Hmm. The AARP?

2020

Biden (R)(1):

“Folks,” “fight for,” and of course milking his son’s death (first line in the video). It’s all here. [Damn, where’s that bucket…]

Sanders (D)(1):

Trump (R)(1): “How Iowa Went from Trump Country to 2020 Battleground” [The New Yorker]. “The dual economic and public-health crises brought on by covid-19 have softened Trump’s support nationwide. But the speed with which voters have tilted toward Biden in Iowa has come as a surprise. Would it be a close race in the state had the pandemic not hit? The answer is complicated. “covid is certainly playing a role here,” Andrew Green, a political-science professor at Central College, in Pella, Iowa, who wrote a book about Trump’s 2016 victory, said. “But I don’t think we can discount the role that the trade war was playing.” During the past few years, as Trump levied tariffs on Chinese goods, China responded with tariffs and purchasing halts on Iowa’s major agricultural products: corn, soy, and pork. The Trump Administration responded by offering billions of dollars in compensatory aid to farmers in Iowa and other states, and many Iowa farmers have professed continued loyalty to the President. But the economic pain was still widespread, and it has spilled over into other industries, including farm-equipment manufacturing.”

Trump (R)(2): “Trump’s Big-Donor Gifts Plunge 61% as He Sits Out Virtual Events” [Bloomberg]. “Trump’s receipts from high-dollar donors plunged 61% in the second quarter, to just $27 million, as he declined to appear on a livestream. Biden’s big-donor committee took in more than three times as much — $86.4 million — after launching in late April. He attended almost all of the events virtually, talks to donors and invites reporters to listen in. Trump Victory, which raises money in chunks of a maximum $580,600, took in $64 million in the first quarter. But once social-distancing and lockdown orders spread across the country, Trump held just a few in-person events that gave donors face time with the president.” • Yikes.

UPDATE Trump (R)(3): “The GOP Coalition Is Getting More Working-Class. Its Agenda Isn’t.” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. “Donald Trump’s erosion of support in recent months has been driven by the defections of white voters in general, and college-educated ones in particular. A variety of recent polls have found Biden leading Trump among the latter by roughly 30 percentage points. Although the president’s standing among non-college-educated whites has declined significantly in recent weeks, he still boasts a roughly 20-point lead with that demographic in the most recent surveys. Counterintuitively, the president’s grip on a sizable minority of nonwhite voters has scarcely loosened: In recent polls from CNN, Monmouth University, and the New York Times, Trump’s share of the African-American and Hispanic voting blocs remains about where it was in 2018 exit polls — which was itself a bit higher than his share in 2016.” • I wonder if a vaccine would cause those college-educated whites to “come home” (even against the blandishments of the Lincoln Project). Speaking of which–

UPDATE Trump (R)(4):

* * *

The War Party:

Maybe it was. After all, ObamaCare was [rimshot].

UPDATE “Almost 100 Days Out, Democrats Are Favored to Take Back the Senate” [Cook Political Report]. “Democratic candidates have the fundraising momentum, with challengers crushing virtually every incumbent in a competitive race in the second quarter reports released last week. Party committees and the major outside PACs for each side are also spending heavily, with the most overall invested in North Carolina, a race some Republicans are feeling more pessimistic about…. By looking at the numbers, the battleground becomes clear — Arizona is falling down the list for the GOP to defend, and Colorado is threatening to. If the election were today, Arizona, Colorado and North Carolina stand as the most vulnerable, closely followed by Maine. That leaves what Republicans see as the tipping point states of Montana, Iowa and Georgia. But they have other states they have to watch and worry about, including Kansas, Texas, and even Alaska and South Carolina. Michigan remains the only other GOP offensive opportunity that remains on our map.”

Obama Legacy

UPDATE From the sitdown “conversation” Biden and Obama had (more above):

Millions of youth, making the rent, or maybe not: “F*uck yeah, ObamaCare’s like a starter house! You can’t afford it!”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Great Reset Is Already Underway” [Driftglass]. “By sheer force of their vastly overrepresented presence in the mainstream media, Never Trumpers like Bill Kristol have almost finished resetting 2016 as the new Year Zero of modern political history. Once that reset is finalized, everything that happened before Year Zero will effectively be off-limits. Everything that happened after that is a damn shame. And no one but Donald Trump (and the Extreme Left) are to blame for any of the havoc and tragedy you see all around you. Of course if you live a normal life and do normal things you might not have realized yet that a small gang of well-connected Republicans are putting the finishing touches on a new, revised edition of Modern American History which is already being incorporated into the HR regulations and style books of most of the mainstream press.” • When Biden says that Trump is the first racist President, he’s participating in the Great Reset.

“Pathways for the Post-COVID New Old World” [Zero Anthropology]. “We have to question whether strategic pre-positioning to shape the “post-COVID normal,” might end up even unconsciously shaping the authorities’ responses to the crisis right now, effectively tilting the scales one way or another and inevitably reducing the life chances of some…. we can already see the outline of three basic contending paths, three large camps jostling one another. They can be categorized as follows: (1) Restorationist–Denialist; (2) Liberal Reformist; and, (3) Revolutionary–Transformationist. If the contours of these camps seem predictable, it is because they are built on foundations that preexisted the pandemic. However, since there are tendencies for people to not follow some analyst’s neat categories, we will find the three camps bleeding into each other, producing at least seven distinct positions, some of which are particular to events of this crisis.” • I won’t go into the details of the schematic, but I think the article is worth a read.

“Ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick ran sex ring for clerics at New Jersey beach home, lawsuit alleges” [USA Today]. “A lawsuit filed Tuesday night accuses former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of taking his pick of boys to abuse sexually and assigning others to adult clerics at a New Jersey beach home that’s been central to previous allegations against the former prelate. Two years ago, Newark Archbishop Joseph Tobin acknowledged that claims against McCarrick had been settled years before. Tobin said he learned of the settlements in 2018 shortly before media reports first revealed them. After allegations of child sex abuse surfaced, McCarrick was placed on a list of credibly accused clerics last year.” • Here, no yarn diagrams at all, but a two thousand year-old institution gone terribly, terribly wrong.

* * *

“How Wisconsin’s 23,000 rejected absentee ballots could spell trouble for the November election” [Wisconsin Watch]. “For months, President Donald Trump has alleged without evidence that any expansion of mail-in voting in the 2020 election will lead to “tremendous” fraud and a “rigged” election. But an APM Reports analysis of voter data from Wisconsin’s April primary shows a far more measurable and consequential effect of mail-in voting — rejected ballots. Slightly more than 23,000 ballots were thrown out, mostly because those voters or their witnesses missed at least one line on a form. While there is no way of knowing who those voters will choose in November, the figure is nearly equivalent to Trump’s 2016 margin of victory in Wisconsin of 22,748 votes. And with voter turnout expected to double from April to more than 3 million in November, a proportionate volume of ballot rejections could be the difference in who wins the swing state — and possibly the presidency.” • Again, lots of Democrat yammering about how Trump may not accept the 2020 results (as indeed they did not in 2016). But not the tiniest squeak about what should be done to make results acceptable to any dull normal.

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: “17 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.”

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 18 June 2020 – Improvement Continues But Still Deep In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “Week 29 of 2020 shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) contracted according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data. Total rail traffic has been mostly in contraction for over one year – and now is 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.”

Home Sales: “June 2020 Headline New Home Sales Remain Strong” [Econintersect]. “This month the backward revisions were up. Because of weather and other factors, the rolling averages are the way to view this series. The rolling averages improved. Sales again remained strong this month demonstrating the resilience of the new home market.”

* * *

Tech: Craig Murry wasn’t the only one:

Looks like Google was crapping around with its political rankings. Crudely.

Tech: Well, this looks awful:

Manufacturing: “FAA issues emergency directive on 2,000 Boeing 737 NG, Classic planes” [Reuters]. “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Friday issued an emergency airworthiness directive for 2,000 U.S.-registered Boeing 737 NG and Classic aircraft that have been in storage, warning they could have corrosion that could lead to a dual-engine failure. The directive covers planes not operated for seven or more consecutive days. The FAA issued the directive after inspectors found compromised air check valves when bringing aircraft out of storage…. The directive covering the 737 NG (600 to 900 series) and 737 Classic (737-300 to 737-500 series) was prompted by four recent reports of single-engine shutdowns caused by engine bleed air 5th stage check valves stuck in the open position. The FAA said the directive is to address corrosion of the engine bleed air 5th stage check valves for both engines. The agency said that could result in compressor stalls and dual-engine power loss without the ability to restart.” • Can’t just leave the car in the garage, I guess. You’ve got to fire it up every so often.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 66 Greed (previous close: 68 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 63 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 24 at 11:32am. Firmly in greed territory.

Health Care

“NIH director on speed of vaccine development: ‘I have never seen anything come together this way'” [CBS]. DFr. Frances Collins: “I’ve been at NIH for 27 years. I have never seen anything come together this way, as we have tried to do and are now doing, for the development of vaccines. And the government, by providing additional resources, has also made it possible now to plan manufacturing of vaccine doses even before you know if the vaccine is going to work… By the spring, I would think most Americans would have the chance for a vaccination. I hope, by the way, that most Americans will see this as something they want to do. I’m a little worried about some resistance to this. It’s also emerging in some of the polls.”

“Controlling the virus takes ‘an all-of-government approach,’ WHO says” [ABC]. “‘We do see signs of hope. In some countries they have been able to control the virus. This virus is controllable,’ [Dr. Maria VanKerkhove, the World Health Organization’s lead expert on COVID-19] told ‘Good Morning America’ Friday. ‘Even countries that are really overwhelmed right now can turn things around.'” • Unfortunately, federalism is designed to prevent an ‘all-of-government’ approach. And that’s before we get to the two-party system. And health care for profit. I could go on.

“All they had to do was the right thing” [Jeb Lund, Welcome to Hellworld]. The Lund story starts after an intro. Search on “Waking up”. It’s about Florida, or set there. This caught my eye:

I know there’s supposedly a culture war out there. There’s a truck in my neighborhood with a Q sticker, and another with a Three-Percenter sticker, and there are more than a few neighbors of the “easily victimized white dude who owns a $50,000 truck he rarely takes off the pavement and who becomes physically belligerent when you correct him” variety, but there’s a reason why you really only see “war” shit on YouTube. Few Americans are hostile to general safety protocols, and even fewer act out against them. I live where hate groups and old fashioned unaffiliated redneck trash drive in from the county to make a show of rebel flags, rolling coal and honking to intimidate protests, but people line up six feet apart at Home Depot, wear masks at Publix and get takeout at the pizza place outside without insisting on barging in. Most wars don’t need one side of them to be this manufactured.

“Few.” Enough?

Sports Desk

Opening Day:

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Tom Cotton bill would eliminate funds for teaching New York Times’s 1619 Project in schools” [Washington Examiner]. “The legislation would mandate the federal departments of Agriculture, Education, and Health and Human Services to “prorate” federal education funds to school districts that decide to include The 1619 Project in their curriculum. Schools that taught the program also would lose out on ‘federal professional-development grants.’ Some school districts are moving to incorporate The 1619 Project into their history programs, despite the accuracy of this series of articles being called into question by some historians. However, Cotton’s bill would be dead on arrival in the Democratic House — if it passed the Republican Senate, which also appears unlikely.” • “Some historians.” Worth re-upping this savage takedown–

“The New York Times’s 1619 Project: A racialist falsification of American and world history” [World Socialist Web Site]. This caught my eye:

The Times’ executive editor, Dean Baquet, was explicit in this regard, telling staffers in a taped meeting in August that the narrative upon which the paper was focused would change from “being a story about whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia and obstruction of justice to being a more head-on story about the president’s character.” As a result, reporters will be directed to “write more deeply about the country, race, and other divisions.”

From RussiaGate to the 1619 Project. Quite a pivot! Sort of amazing that historians like James McPherson (as well as Clayborne Carson, Richard Carwardine, Gordon Wood, Dolores Janiewski, Victoria Bynum, and James Oakes) can’t get a hearing anywhere else in our liberal meduia, but here we are.

Class Warfare

“”Essential” Means Underpaid and Unprotected” [Andy Slavitt, Medium]. “If someone tells you that you’re “essential,” you’re going to want to run the other way. Because ‘essential’ now means underpaid, unappreciated, sacrificial, and there to serve everyone else/ In the future, definitions in the dictionary are going to need to include what ‘essential worker; came to mean during the Covid-19 crisis. You were essential, but your health, your income, your life, your safety net, and your well being turns out are ‘not as essential.'” • Since Slavitt is a lobbyist for the health insurance industry who opposes #MedicareForAll, it makes my skin crawl to quote him. But he’s right.

News of the Wired

“You advocate a ________ approach to calendar reform” [Things of Interest]. • An enormous and funny checklist of reasons why your approach is bad: “( ) they tried that in France once and it didn’t take.”

“The internet went crazy over cake, but going mainstream can end a trend” [NBC]. “For the past two weeks, the internet has been saturated with videos of seemingly hyperrealistic everyday objects — a Croc shoe, a pickle, a bulldog — that trick the eye to reveal a cake beneath. Just as quickly as these surrealistic cakes became ubiquitous came the detractors begging the phenomenon to end. In other words: A viral meme has now grown stale, reaching the end of its popularity. ‘There’s a bunch of different life cycles that memes can have. Some memes will just explode and die off within like a week,’ says Don Caldwell, the editor-in-chief of meme database Know Your Meme. ‘Some memes will stick around for 10 years, and it’s really bizarre to see all the different ways it can happen.’ It’s not uncommon for a meme to see a resurgence months, or even years, down the line after it’s lost popularity…. Maybe when people refer to quarantine in years to come, they’ll be reminded of this meme as a symbol of the surrealism of the moment. Ceci n’est pas un pipe.” • And never a Marie Antoinette reference, so far as I can tell. Odd.

“What Is an Individual? Biology Seeks Clues in Information Theory” [Quanta]. “When it comes to defining biological individuals, we tend to rely on what we can observe and measure. Cells are bounded by membranes, animals by their skin; we can sequence DNA and demarcate genes in those sequences. Above all, our definitions privilege the organism and the characteristics associated with it: an entity that’s physically separated from its environment, that has DNA and can replicate, that is subject to natural selection… At the core of that working definition was the idea that an individual should not be considered in spatial terms but in temporal ones: as something that persists stably but dynamically through time. ‘It’s a different way of thinking about individuals,’ said [Melanie Mitchell, a computer scientist at the Santa Fe Institute], who was not involved in the work. ‘As kind of a verb, instead of a noun.’…. To them, an individual was an aggregate that ‘preserved a measure of temporal integrity,’ propagating a close-to-maximal amount of information forward in time. Their formalism, which they published in Theory in Biosciences in March, is based on three axioms. One is that individuality can exist at any level of biological organization, from the subcellular to the social. A second is that individuality can be nested — one individual can exist inside another. The most novel (and perhaps most counterintuitive) axiom, though, is that individuality exists on a continuum, and entities can have quantifiable degrees of it…. Based on these gradients of information flow, the Santa Fe team distinguishes three types of individuality. The first is the organismal individual, an entity that is shaped by environmental factors but is strongly self-organizing…. The second type of individuality is the colonial form, which involves a more complicated relationship between internal and external factors. Individuals in this category might include an ant colony or a spiderweb… The third type is driven almost entirely by the environment.” • I suppose if the American dream is all about freedom for the individual, we should know what an individual is. (Sorry for the length; Quanta is almost impossible to extract!)

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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 (Stanley Dundee):

Stanley Dundee writes: “The farm stand is the 2nd week of our little Catskill farm startup.” The kind of startup I can get behind! No silicon involved, except maybe in the soil.

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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.

156 comments

  1. antidlc

    “By the spring, I would think most Americans would have the chance for a vaccination. I hope, by the way, that most Americans will see this as something they want to do. I’m a little worried about some resistance to this. It’s also emerging in some of the polls.”

    I guess I’ll be a member of the resistance.

    Am I supposed to trust this expedited process?

    Reply
    1. Bill Smith

      Just wait to get in line behind the 20,000,000 person? Or do you think that a larger experimental sample is needed? Anyway that is the way I look at it.

      Reply
    2. diptherio

      I’m already surrounded by anti-vaccers, and this is certainly not helping things any. Suspending ethical and scientific standards, as an article a week or so ago put it, is not something I think should be supported. Also, I really wish Bill Gates would keep his mouth shut. Anything he says is immediately be rejected by at least 1/3 of my neighbors as some kind of nefarious conspiracy. The fact that he’s felt the need to chime in about the vaccine has ensured that a lot of people I know won’t go anywhere near it…assuming they can actually come up with one.

      Reply
      1. Sam Adams

        Isn’t that the point of Bill Gates as spokesperson for vaccines? To put some bleach in the gene pool to reduce unproductive proletariat for The oligarchy.

        Reply
            1. Glen

              Ha, hard to tell sometimes, back in the day removing some Windows feature or application was exactly like removing a virus.

              I have to admit I have used nothing but Linux at home since 1996, but I program applications at work in Windows.

              Reply
      2. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

        Gatesian technology:

        If you have invented the cure-all ,and you name is Gates, for eveyone’s sake, change your name!

        Pip-pip!

        Reply
    3. shinola

      “Am I supposed to trust this expedited process?”

      I know what you mean. Big pharma’s dedication to profit ‘uber alles’ is not confidence inspiring. A rushed roll-out of a marginally effective vaccine and/or one with serious side effects could give more ammunition to those wacko anti-vaxers.

      Reply
      1. christofay

        Another what if is what if another country, China or Korea for example, produces a vaccine first, what if it is actually effective then is blocked by the D.C. central government as it is not invented here, and we must protect our price gouging big pharma?

        Reply
    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      The first wave of people getting whatever the rushed-to-market COVID vaccine will be could be referred to as the Beta Test Population . . . . if I am understanding this digital techno jargon correctly. They are the experimental population. I am thinking of keeping myself within the control population for a while.

      Reply
    5. nippersmom

      Even if the vaccine is everything it ought to be (effective, with minimal and non-serious side effects, etc.) what is the likelihood the typical American will be able to afford it? Does the NIH Director really not understand the state of healthcare in this country?

      Reply
      1. Kurt Sperry

        The US govt needs to pay the full bill for vaccination. Every dollar directed towards even moderately effective vaccines would be re-payed exponentially in economic growth/activity. The fewer barriers to getting people vaccinated, the more effective they will be.

        This would be much simpler to do in a First World country.

        Reply
    6. Darius

      I have about as much confidence that a vaccine that works will be developed as I do the 737 MAX will be made actually air-worthy.

      Reply
      1. Big Tap

        Don’t forget that the F-15 will always have problems. It’s had many crashes in non-combat situations. A non-stealth plane the Russians and Chinese say they can ‘see’. You think for what this plane costs at nearly 80 million each (F-15EX) it at least would be invisible to radar.

        Reply
  2. antidlc

    RE: Biden and health care

    https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article239243198.html

    Beau Biden had no savings and faced a tough road ahead in his battle with brain cancer. He was struggling to recall proper nouns and feared he may have to resign as attorney general.

    Worried about the potential costs, his father, former Vice President Joe Biden planned to come up with the money by selling his beloved Delaware home.

    That’s when President Barack Obama vowed to intervene.

    “He said, ‘No, no, Joe. I have the money. I’ll take care of it, and you can pay me back whenever,’” Biden recalled.

    Article later states he didn’t need the money.

    I’d like more info on what happened here.

    Reply
    1. Bernalkid

      I notice he spent 13 years in the Army–judge advocate general corps–and died In Walter Reed Hospital in DC which suggests he had veterans benefits. Not having savings could be a problem, though he had a fairly high level career up until sickness.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        A few thoughts:

        -Housing prices. This could be a bit of a problem for Beau if he was trying to live in neighborhoods he is expected to live in.
        -Biden was a Senator, but its not that much really. Is it enough to support a lifestyle and two residences? Joe took the train. We talk about rich electeds running roughshod, but Biden really was closer to Sanders financially.
        -Jill taught at a community college. So she’s not rolling in it.
        -What is Joe’s retirement plan? Did he pay a fortune to get his spot at a good home?
        -Joe has a son who didn’t fall far from the tree.
        -Did Biden make bad deals along the way? Have payments not so on the books he had to make? Biden was pals with Ted Kennedy and Chris Dodd. I don’t think they went to Mass together.

        I could see him running out of money. He’s stupid. We talk about athletes who blow money, so why not Joe?

        Reply
    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      This whole story, which seems to be gaining some traction, is a case of I literally need to see the receipts, as the kids say. There is just no way an attorney general and son of the VP is going to need to worry about medical bills. I just do not believe it. Even if it was true, with Obama stepping in, the moral of Biden’s story seems to be “if you get cancer, you better have a rich friend” not whatever point he thinks he’s making.

      Reply
        1. Dr. John Carpenter

          Well, Obamacare was just a “starter home”, now he says. (Insert eye roll.)

          But, if Biden’s story is true, the question I would want to ask is “since your own family almost faced medical bills that would have caused financial ruin, how can you still not support M4A?” He’ll never be asked that and I’m sure too many people will just accept his story at face value.

          Reply
          1. Otto

            No he said the beginning of Obama Care was like you had to start somewhere. The idea was for the program to improve. Is everyone on here Republican, Libertarian, or Green. I want to make sure I step on the right toes (which is to say to use facts, not beliefs to construct my arguments in hopes of enlightenment. But, knowing it will fail completely.)

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              You are doing just fine in the “Toe Stomping Contest.” Many of us do the same thing, here and elsewhere. For example, do notice how many of the commenters here relate as to having been banned from Daily Kos. That is a ‘badge of honour’ for progressives of all stripes.
              Obamacare was a bait and switch from the very beginning. Do not go all naive on us and pretend that the roll out of Obamacare was anything but a scam from the very beginning. Obama started his first term out with the White House, the Senate, and the House all under Democrat party control, and yet, he rolls over and begs the Medical Industrial complex to ‘rub his tummy’ by first banishing any ‘official’ cognizance of National Health, and than rolling out ‘The Public Option’ as a distraction from National Health, which should have been the hallmark policy of any truly people oriented policy.
              Remember, what is now called Obamacare was originally a policy paper for the Republican Party written by the Heritage Foundation, and then Beta tested by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts.
              Some history: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/10/did-a-conservative-think-tank-really-invent-the-individual-mandate/247124/
              Obama is the biggest argument against electing Biden that the Republicans could want.

              Reply
            2. Pat

              The thing is if you take them at their word, they deliberately weakened the start of that process. Let’s just take the vaunted public option that keeps coming up whenever people start getting restless.

              If the public option was a needed stop gap, why not include it at the beginning. Now before I get they couldn’t do that, please remember that ACA was passed by reconciliation. Which meant anything in the House or Senate bills was on the table AND only needed 51 votes in the Senate to go into the final law. There was a Public Option in the House bill. Yes it was supposedly jettisoned to get a Republican vote but once that clearly wasn’t going to happen why not make your Starter Home stronger by giving it better insulation since it was possible.

              I won’t even start on the expanded medical loss ratio and the medical costs that are clearly administrative. Thanks, Kathleen.

              Nor did the administration ever try to improve the starter home.

              Many of us here are widely familiar with the Affordable Care Act, the history, the evolution, and the propaganda concerning both its properties and its supposed intent.

              But I must point out that the faulty analogy aside, in a period of a pandemic coupled with sky high unemployment, cheerleading people trying to sell a healthcare plan deeply dependent on employer supplied insurance and private insurance that has premiums running upward of 10 to 25% of unemployment benefits with high deductibles is well perhaps crass, unreasonable and destined to fail.

              Reply
      1. Glen

        OBAMA was the “rich friend”?

        So after you pass a LANDMARK HEALTHCARE INSURANCE BILL to fix American HEALTHCARE, you have to help your VP PAY his son’s MEDICAL BILLS?

        Well, if that doesn’t reassure me that ObamaCare is a F”family blog”KING PIECE OF $HIT, I don’t know what will…

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I wonder why Obama didn’t call ACA a starter home when he was calling it our uniquely American solution….

          Admittedly my favorite was when he claimed the website would be like Kayak and then demonstrated he had no idea what Kayak does.

          Reply
    3. a different chris

      Not entirely relevant, but my normal whine about The Privileged Class:

      >He was struggling to recall proper nouns and feared he may have to resign as attorney general.

      Regardless of your view on the Bidens, they aren’t bad enough to deserve this. However: “feared he may have to resign”??? If you can’t do the job anymore (cough, Fauci, cough) you need to leave and let somebody else do it. People depend on the Attorney General.

      It sounds horrible, so I’ll be horrible, but this is a most perfect illustration of “the graveyards are full of indispensible men”. He should have quit and spent the time with his family.

      Reply
        1. ambrit

          Once Fauci went along with the “masks are bad for you” lie, even for a “worthy cause,” he lost all moral authority. the Nations Doctor is really a political job. When Fauci lost the public’s trust, he lost any effectiveness at the job he might have had. Time for him to move on.

          Reply
            1. ambrit

              Koop did a wonderful essay on the stupidity of America’s ‘dangerous drugs’ policy once. I have never been able to track it down, but it tells the tale of when Koop had a problem with his, I believe circulatory system and he needed heavy pain killers to weather the event until his body regained balance. The doctors at the ER refused to give him the morphine shot he demanded, from prior experience no less. He then had to argue with the hospital about prescribing himself the drug, even though he was a licensed physician. All this while in maximum pain.
              His deduction was that the War on Drugs was a political stunt.
              Like him or hate him, the man was straightforward.

              Reply
              1. Mark Gisleson

                I had a client who’d been prescribed morphine for migraines stemming from an industrial accident. Despite every kind of doctor’s letter and Rx, he could not travel. Pharmacies refused to fill his prescriptions and would call law enforcement on him and then the cops would refuse to believe the scrip was legit even after contacting his doctor.

                The war on drugs is a war on people.

                Reply
          1. Bernalkid

            Regardless of his talents, Fauci is an example of the gerontocracy that runs things in this country. They seem not to groom successors.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              That, by itself is a failure of policy. Such positions should internalize the ‘creation’ of a deep bench for expansion or transfer of power. The basic problem with the “drown it in a bathtub” theory of governance is that eventually, we end up with no one left who knows how to make bathtubs.

              Reply
          2. wilroncanada

            ambrit
            Can I question your first sentence?
            Can you produce an actual quote, indicating that what you have quoted is an actual quote? In addition, what was the date? What was the context? In other words, what was the total of what he said at that date?
            I’m aware that it was well into the rapid spread in the US that the WHO first used the term “pandemic” and the WHO was for a long time not advocating mask use.

            I ask for this clarification because I come from British Columbia. Our medical health officer has never mandated mask wearing. She, as I have said on this blog repeatedly, has said that mask-wearing was a last resort if you cannot, or refuse to, follow the common sense routines of pandemic life:
            1. Stay home as much as possible initially, then later, when the pandemic has been flat-lined, get together with very small groups in a “bubble”, expanding that bubble just one person at a time, and make sure that person has been following common sense practices.
            2. Keep your distance from all others, other than those in your own household, a MINIMUM of 2 metres.
            3. Wash your hands routinely and thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds, including knuckles and fingernails. Use hand sanitizer if, for the moment, you cannot wash. Even if you have used sanitizer, wash your hands as soon as you can.
            4. Avoid touching well-used surfaces, like handles, etc. Perhaps carry a cloth, or kleenex you can then dispose of PROPERLY.
            5. If you cannot or will not do all of these, then by all means wear a mask. Mind you, if you don’t care about the more important four, you are unlikely to wear your mask properly anyway. You’ll more likely still be a walking disease vector.

            As DR Bonnie Henry, the BC medical health officer said repeatedly: be kind, be calm, be safe.

            Reply
              1. ambrit

                Thank you for the help. I don’t ‘do’ twitter, so I probably would not have found this.
                Thanks again.

                Reply
            1. ambrit

              Understood.
              Darius, above, linked to something pertinent. I hope that it does the trick for you.
              In cases like this, where there are conflicting authoritative voices sending conflicting advice, I find that, the Dreaded Pathogen being as deadly as it has already shown itself to be, the Precautionary Principle is the default position to take. I would rather be called a fool, hypochondriac, etc. by others, even to my face, than be dead. I would also hate to figure out later that I contributed to the deaths of others, even unwittingly.
              Be very careful, wherever you may be. The microscopic world cares not for human political divisions.
              Stay safe!

              Reply
    4. John Anthony La Pietra

      I’d also like more info on this “Biden (R)(1)” who was in on that conversation. Is he the grey elephant of the family?

      Reply
  3. Another Scott

    The best line about the 1619 project comes from Adolph Reed, who said, “it’s hard to trust a series whose first sentence began with a lie.” He was of course referred to the claim that African slaves were brought over in 1619, when they were indentured servants. This is the type of simplistic and factually challenged statement that received criticism uniting everyone from the World Socialist Website to the Reason Foundation to the Clintons’ house historian.

    Reply
        1. Another Scott

          Thank you for beating me to it. I was going off memory so my quotation of Reed was slightly off.

          Reply
          1. Swamp Yankee

            I’m an academic historian by training, and am fairly despairing at the capture of the intelligentsia by the 1619 Project. If you want to know all the reasons it’s bad history, read the WSWS series of interviews with Wood et al.

            Why has it been mainly older historians who’ve spoken out on this? The thing you have to remember about most contemporary academics is that they are both deeply conformist and essentially cowardly. There is also a tendency towards groupthink, guilt or untruth by association, and of course, material scarcity underneath it all. It’s a bad combo.

            I remember a colleague telling me she didn’t read foundational historigraphical texts on the Puritans from the 1950s (e.g., Perry Miller), despite studying Puritanism, because “it’s old.” Ditto American slavery and Ulrich B. Phillips seminal 1918 study, _American Negro Slavery_, despite this being the first monograph actually looking discretely at its subject.

            For [family blog]’s sake, we’re historians, we read things because they’re old!

            I was lucky. My dissertation advisor was old school and we read the historiography from beginning to end, no matter what. This was ten years ago, though, and Wokeismo was still nascent, and not where they are today. I find it’s often people in the Literature departments and various XYZ Studies departments who are most susceptible to really bad history, but even a lot of historians are.

            It was ten plus years ago, but we tried to appreciate complexity, and nuance, not cartoon versions of history which paradoxically reduce the agency and humanity of historical actors. But this was in the twilight of the Bush years, when liberals were supposed to do nuance and complexity, and it was conservatives who embraced a Manichean and evidence-challenged view of the world. (Wokeism is directly traceable to Rousseau’s fanciful notion of the Noble Savage, I would argue, and about as closely related to actual historical reality).

            How far we’ve come.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Thanks for the insight.
              I must agree. University has proceeded from being an Intellectual Pursuit to being a Political Pursuit. Realistically, it was always thus, just nowhere near as bad as it is today. I speak not in snark when I suggest that today’s University Administrations look and act like Medieval Church Synods.

              Reply
            2. Laputan

              I remember being an undergrad around the same time and coming across “hybridity” in my latin American art history course. It wasn’t my major (that was even less grounded in reality, economics ) but, apart from being struck by the fact that the concept didn’t seem to have the depth to demand its own term, there was the claim that it “subverts the colonial domination narrative.” Then I knew it was clearly bullshit.

              We only touched on the topic briefly and my impression was that it was a flash-in-the-pan, phony paradigm. Fast forward a few weeks and my friend’s then PhD candidate girlfriend in Latin American history at UT found out I was taking the course and, after a few drinks, talked my ear off about it. My critique that it was an idea that didn’t have much to offer in the way of content was met with appeals to its acceptance by noted academics. Evidently, that’s all it takes for a bad idea to take root in such a psychotically hierarchical environment, the imprimatur of a select few.

              Those were my most profound lessons re: academia: that a lot of what passes for serious work is just navel-gazing, that several of those who rise to graduate studies aren’t particularly skilled in critical thinking, and academics are the type who associate politics with politeness. I’m forever grateful for that experience. I would probably be stuck in some podunk town with 6 figures in student debt and being made miserable by some budybody, hack chair without it.

              Reply
            3. Amfortas the hippie

              “The thing you have to remember about most contemporary academics is that they are both deeply conformist and essentially cowardly. There is also a tendency towards groupthink, guilt or untruth by association, and of course, material scarcity underneath it all. It’s a bad combo.”

              more and more, i no longer regret failing to get a philosophy degree.
              i would have entered academic life circa 1995, just when the woke borg were sticking their tubules into things outside of those x/y/z studies.
              over the ensuing years, as i’ve read about the ongoing assimilation*, i’ve sometimes thought, “well…i wouldn’t have lasted a week”…too congenitally non-conformist and anti-authoritarian, and coarse….and unhelpfully outspoken, at times, too.

              *for a long while, i thought it was a real phenomenon, but prolly overblown by the right, who were the only one’s upset about it. I considered it isolated in the ivory towers, and never even thought about those folks graduating and moving into the bureaucracy, and bringing the nanoprobes with them.
              mea culpa.
              here’s one thing the right was right about.
              and here they are…just in time to counter/undermine the first flowering of socialistic humanism in my lifetime.

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                Well do I remember the vast loneliness I encountered whenever I would stand up in class or assembly and profess an “unpopular” position or belief. One thing I did learn from my abortive career at University is that a lot of the “soft” sciences are really belief systems masquerading as sciences.

                Reply
            4. Dirk77

              I have not read the 1619 Project article. But if you can get past the obvious (at least they are up front about it) grinding of their socialist axe, the WSWS is often pretty accurate. Anyways, so in an effort to save their own skins as it were, the liberal elite are advocating racism and anti-intellectualism. They have indeed become the Right as Taibbi argues. This is not going to end well. And taking a page out of Atlas Shrugged, the academics who have gone along will deserve what they get. Thanks Lambert for posting this. Fascinating.

              Reply
      1. Otto

        “In August of 1619, a ship appeared on this horizon, near point comfort, a coastal port in the english colony of virginia. It carried more than 20 enslaved africans, who were sold to the colonists. No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed. n the 400th anniversary of this fateful moment, it is finally time to tell our story truthfully.”

        https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/1619-america-slavery.html?searchResultPosition=1

        So what no slaves ever. No harm ever. I don’t care what anyone’s motive is in this case. To say it can’t be stated with perfection does not deny it happened and what followed. You can be happy or right. You can’t pay the bill for ‘right’.

        Reply
              1. ambrit

                Yep.
                The 1619 Project is almost a parody of ‘wokeness.’
                Nothing is mentioned about the utter destruction of the Mesoamerican and South American cultures by the Spanish and Portuguese adventurers. The genocidal policies of the “White” powers against the American Indians are not discussed either. Nor is the almost universal practice of enslaving “others” by various power groups over the course of known human history.
                The best “reparations” I can think of would be to ensure that it never happens again.

                Reply
  4. IMOR

    “…sent home to die…”
    If they truly are dying, and if they actually are sent home without requiring for-(the providers’)-profit hospice services as a condition of release (as they try to require hereabouts), then more of this should be done in non-covid19 instances as well.

    Reply
  5. D. Fuller

    Democrats are going to face a problem in the general election when Republicans start challenging ballots on a large scale.

    Democrats also lack a massive voter (re-)registration drive. Something that cost Clinton the 2016 election. Obama did not ignore voter registration.

    Then there is the Postmaster General threatening to slow down mail delivery.

    Also? Challenges to voter ballots if mass evictions go through.

    Throw in the usual lack of voting stations in Democratic areas coming up.

    And if 75,000 Federal officers hit the streets through November? Voter intimidation. Plus, Trump can’t start a war overseas for distraction… start one at home. The Honduras or Bolivian coup, here (far fetched really).

    Democratic Party has some heavy lifting also.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > heavy lifting

      I think the whole system is so rickety and corrupt I don’t see how it’s possible to trust any outcome but an overwhelming one (which Democrats think is coming). The issue goes beyond partisanship, although each party tries to use the broken aspects to gain advantage over the other.

      From the Wisconsin article:

      The Cedarburg, Wis., City Hall building is seen on July 20, 2020. In the April 7 primary, two-thirds of Cedarburg voters cast absentee ballots, and about 7% of ballots were rejected

      How can an election where 7% of the ballots are thrown out be said to express the will of the voters, regardless of who wins?

      Reply
      1. Zagonostra

        How can an election where over 100 million don’t cast any vote be said to express the will of the “people?”

        Reply
        1. Jason Boxman

          Well, that’s a feature. We have election theater in this country, by design. To the extent it’s considered legitimate, we do have a peaceful transfer of power… but with the Democrat Party intent on delegitimization, well, that runs both ways. I’d rather not experience a violent transfer of power.

          Reply
        2. ambrit

          Until every ballot contains a “None Of The Above” option, that will be an insoluble problem.
          Count not only the preferences of the voting electorate, but also the general support of the population for the election results.
          As any knowledgeable pollster will tell you, it’s all in how you frame the question.

          Reply
        3. D. Fuller

          The only thing not voting expresses?

          They accept the decision made by others, whether they like the decisions or not.

          Personally, that’s what I tell those who don’t vote.

          I always love the video by Paul Weyrich, co-founder of The Heritage Foundation & The Moral Majority, as well as Nazi disciple of Lazlo Pasztor (if I got his name right)… Goo-Goo Government, where Weyrich explains why he does not want people to vote.

          Reply
          1. Massinissa

            Honestly, I vote but I don’t see the point. I never have anyone to vote *FOR*. I have to vote Green at top and Dem downballot. There’s no damn choice here. I don’t honestly know why I bother to vote in generals, but I do. At least in Primary’s I get a choice. So I absolutely don’t blame those who don’t vote, because I barely understand why I do it myself.

            Reply
            1. Donald

              I vote to avoid the shrieks of liberals who place voting for the Democrat as a moral duty that comes before all others, even if you are in a state where it doesn’t matter. I believe in lesser evil voting anyway, so it is no big sacrifice.

              I could lie about my vote, but don’t want to. Anyway, faced with the religious fanaticism if mainstream liberals and not having any strong feelings about this voting nonsense, I go with the flow. You can’t discuss anything else with liberals if you don’t do this. They won’t listen to a word that comes out of your heretical mouth. Or that is how it is online. In real life it isn’t quite that bad. I

              That said, I do think Democrats are the lesser evil, with the possible exception of foreign policy where it is hard to be sure.

              Reply
            2. Dr. John Carpenter

              By the time my state’s primary rolls around, the nominee has all but been selected. Technically I have a choice too, but realistically, I don’t.

              Reply
            3. drumlin woodchuckles

              Are there referrenda and/ or initiatives on the ballot to vote about? Those can be voted about with understanding. Millages also. Bond issues also.

              Also regional and local officeseekers and judgeship seekers and district attorneyship seekers. They can be voted about with real understanding.

              Reply
            1. fresno dan

              ambrit
              July 24, 2020 at 8:18 pm

              If only we could have a candidate of the honor, integrity, and compassion of Kodos…

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                Yes! Mighty Kodos is a ‘Kinder More Compassionate Cthulhu.’
                (It’s a shame about what happened to Kodos’ minions on Midsummers’ Eve.)
                Say what you like about the Dread Lord Cthulhu, he certainly knows all about “purging” the voter rolls.

                Reply
          1. flora

            My focus has turned to my local and state races. There the voters do have an effect, more than they have at the national level. I think I’ve ignored the importance of local and state elections too long. If Mitch wants the states to drop dead maybe it’s time for me to pay more attention to my state, and less attention to the nat. govt pols. Maybe changes in the states will be easier to make than at the national level. my 2 cents.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Also, regional and local elites are easier to identify and thus “liquidate.” (For those who hold the Planck Doctrine of “progress.”)

              Reply
      2. Jeremy Grimm

        If the will of the Populace is ignored after elections– regardless who wins election — what do elections matter?

        Reply
        1. D. Fuller

          Elections matter for appearance of legitimacy. Whether or not the election is legitimate or not.

          Both parties engage in Madison Ave marketing against one another, pander to the base; and once in power, do the minimal necessary to provide the appearance of. While mostly fulfilling the wishes of their Big Money donors. At least, that is some of the explanation.

          Reply
          1. hunkerdown

            And an aristocratic system designed from the beginning to exclude the people from power, proven itself structurally competent at doing just that, and now completely owned and ruled by neoliberals and other authoritarians is something to be legitimized?

            Reply
          2. scoff

            Not voting, for some of us, is a rejection of the purported legitimacy of our system. Or, if you will, it represents the “none of the above” option as mentioned by Ambrit.

            It is as legitimate a choice as being consigned to voting for one of two (or three, or four) candidates, none of whom embody most, or often any, of the values one might want to promote.

            Reply
          3. Jeremy Grimm

            I intend to vote — by mail. I received a ballot for the primary and sent it back and expect to do the same in the general election. But whether I could vote for a candidate I want, or vote for a ‘dummy’ candidate, or vote “none of the above” or attempt to get an undercount recorded — I have no confidence that my vote will be counted. I have no confidence that my vote matters … at all. I have no confidence or regard for any current member of the US Government. The more I learn of our history, the more I question such regard as I once held for a very small number of our past leaders and representatives. Elections do matter for appearance of legitimacy. But to me, this appearance of legitimacy holds all the impact of the cliched “lipstick on a pig”.

            Reply
      3. Treadingwaterbutstillkicking

        A couple of family members still haven’t RECEIVED their requested ballots for that April 7 primary.

        We are calling it premature rejectulation.

        Reply
  6. Stephen V.

    Larger facilities say testing of staff and residents — at $75 to $125 per kit — can run them up to $300,000 per month. And testing is of only limited benefit if the turnaround in obtaining results does not improve beyond the current seven to 10 days…
    Uh, no.
    I’m going to get banned. Same link 2 days running: Staff and residents all daily saliva-tested $1 per peep per day. Turnaround time? 15 MINUTES. Upcoming Virology journal pub.
    https://www.dotnews.com/2020/science-opens-door-getting-students-back-schools

    Reply
  7. SerenityNow

    The starter home analogy is apt for the neoliberal democrat crew–like references to ACA, it taps into a cultural idea that is unquestionably “good” but never gets scrutinized.

    Starter homes are the starting point for aspiring small-time capitalists to get into the property commodification game–an entry point where people with capital can buy low and then sell high as property prices rise (called either wealth-building or gentrification, depending on the position and status of the observer). When people think of starter homes, they imagine a cute little house for a young couple and a maybe a kid, then they’ll “grow up” into something bigger (after cashing in on rising land prices which have mostly nothing to do with their tenure in the structure). What they rarely think about is the conditions that produced that house, or the zoning and other rules which facilitate that house as an investment vehicle. It represents a cultural ideal that no one wants to question. ACA is similar in a lot of ways–it gets judged on how people imagined it and Obama to be, rather than what it actually did.

    I have come across more than one millenial who believed in ACA, but then found that it actually didn’t function very well when they were out of work or actually needed healthcare. But the cultural spin around it is like a vortex.

    Reply
  8. Lee

    An informative 15 minute Covid-19 segment on radio program Science Friday.

    Fewer Coronavirus Antibodies May Not Mean Less Immunity
    Here’s what you should know about coronavirus and children, the latest in vaccine development, and new research into aerosols and spike mutations.

    Reply
  9. NotTimothyGeithner

    Millions of youth, making the rent, or maybe not: “F*uck yeah, ObamaCare’s like a starter house! You can’t afford it!”

    So what happened to the “just wait until Obamacare is fully up and running”? I guess Team Blue has to skip that particular lie.

    Reply
    1. swangeese

      Nah it just morphed into the Senate Republicans blocked any progress on healthcare.

      When pressed that the Dems had a Senate majority at the time the line is “it’s the best they could do at the time….Republicans…”

      Everything bad is Republicans.

      -Source my MSDNC-watching NYT/WaPo-reading mom

      Who is an intelligent person which makes this whole thing the more frustrating.

      Reply
  10. Wukchumni

    I heard in the wee hours that Columbus Ohio was spirited off into the ether, and crammed into an old warehouse where it’s being fitted with cement shoes for a swim in the Olentangy River.

    Inspired by the bold move by the Washington football team, the new name for now is The Ohio State Capital.

    Reply
  11. Jeff N

    The Biden/Beau thing reminds me of this John Edwards story:
    —–
    Shrum, then a Kerry advisor, said in a 2007 book that Kerry had qualms. [John] Edwards, he wrote, told Kerry he was going to confide something he’d never told a soul: that after his son Wade had died, “he climbed onto the slab at the funeral home, laid there and hugged his body, and promised that he’d do all he could to make life better for people, to live up to Wade’s ideals of service …

    “Kerry was stunned, not moved,” Shrum wrote. “As he told me later, Edwards had recounted the exact story to him, almost in the exact same words, a year or two before – and with the same preface, that he’d never shared the memory with anyone else.”

    “I believe he gave into a very human tendency,” Shrum says. “He wanted to be vice president and said what he had to.”

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      are they all ghouls?
      more and more, i’m thinking yes.
      on some days,Icke’s Lizard People in human suits sounds like the better explanation.

      Reply
      1. Dan

        I think John Carpenter’s “They Live” is a great explainer. The socio/psychopathic ruling class exemplified as aliens. People who get mad and put up a fight when confronted with truths about power – say like Obama being an atrocious president – are embodying Keith David fighting Roddy Piper almost until death to NOT put on the sunglasses and see the truth.

        Reply
      2. Zagonostra

        I miss David Icke, Alex Jones, George Web and other deplatformed YTubers. Not that I bought everything they said, but rather it aided the imagination into alternative explanations.

        Whether it’s Reptilian politicians or Globalist what you have is a corrupt and immoral class grinding the working class to a state of penury and desperation while they solidify their privileged position…

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          we used to listen to alex jones on the radio on late night trips back out here from getting weed.
          this is way before he was famous.
          back then, hardly any of the things he yammered about were all that much beyond my own experience in the world(given, i’ve had a strange life…bumped into lots of high strangeness)
          but at some point, he got talked to or bought or dosed or chipped and turned into the lunatic we know today.
          every time i see him mentioned, i think about that difference. if you weren’t up all night in the greater austin area back then, you’d never know about it.

          Reply
      3. JTMcPhee

        People get power any way they can, and once they have it, they use it to satisfy their urges. Pretty much just the way things are.

        I’ll mention the “director of Christian education” in the church I grew up in who wore old-fashioned 3-piece suits and starched collars and always carried a pruneface and found ways to get little boys and girls into his out-of-the-way office and do the you-know-what with them, threatening them into silence… And the swimming coach who made the boys swim naked while he looked on from either the poolside office or the big glass underwater viewing window in the side of the pool. Girls had to wear thin nylon one-pieces that left zero to the imagination. And of course the boys found ways to sneak into the viewing port area or found pathways through the steam tunnels that carried the school’s heat pipes to where they could peep into the girls’ locker and shower rooms. It’s everywhere.

        Reply
    2. montanamaven

      Interesting. I had heard that story during the 2004 campaign. I thought everybody knew the story about how Edwards was devastated by Wade’s death and threw himself on his body. It was his friends that talked him into politics as a way to get him out of his grief. And, as far as Shrum was concerned, I thought it was Shrum who talked Edwards into voting for the Iraq war against Elizabeth’s advice. Oh who knows. I liked his policies and his brains. And all his friends that I met on the campaign were really nice and also fun. Good people; people’s lawyers who made a lot of money but at least it was by socking it to corporations. I don’t regret that time. I learned a lot. Mainly not to get involved in electoral politics ever again.

      Reply
  12. Jason Boxman

    Did the political class forfeit their humanity, or did they never have any? A thought to ponder on a Friday.

    And ObamaCare is no more like a starter home than shopping for a plan is like buying a new cell phone. These people are insane. Maybe a starter home that you don’t own, and you have to put coins in every time you enter and every time you leave, and it randomly denies you access even after you’ve paid.

    There are real monsters in this world.

    Reply
    1. fajensen

      Philip K. Dick occasionally mentioned the “unreliable coin-op Home” in his stories – also the fold-down bed, the fridge and the bathroom would refuse service, for a more comprehensive disservice experience.

      Reply
    2. hunkerdown

      “In but not of this world” as the apostle put it. The noble class have always believed themselves above this world, and externalized their concerns onto the commoners because their concerns Must be attended.

      Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Couldn’t read the article because of the paywall, but this was the subhead:

      New York’s system of tracking travelers from pandemic hotspots is clearly useless. It felt like it’s being done just for show.

      Heard the same story from a friend just today. She flew to NY from covid hotspot FLORIDA last week due to a family emergency. On a packed flight I might add. She was nervous about being forced to quarantine and expected to at least sign something about where she’d be staying so they could make sure she did the 14 days.

      Bottom line–nada except for an announcement over the loudspeaker while she was waiting for her ride outside the baggage claim.

      This whole thing is such crap.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith

        They are supposed to fill out a (very badly designed) form or pay a $2000 fine. Even that part is not working. Wowers. They were handing out forms on plane earlier this month.

        Reply
  13. Watt4Bob

    On the individual;

    “I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing—a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process—an integral function of the universe.”

    Buckminster Fuller, from I Seem to be a Verb 1970

    Reply
    1. c_heale

      If it is difficult to define an individual maybe there is no such thing as an individual in the real world.

      Reply
  14. marcyincny

    Does anyone know if the apparent recent drop in new covid cases is due to the change in management of the reporting?

    Reply
  15. allan

    Finally, some good news out of DeSantisstan:

    LeBron James joins push to turn out ex-felon vote in Florida [Politico]

    A group founded by NBA superstar LeBron James and other Black athletes and entertainers is stepping into the fight to register Florida voters with felony records, saying it will help pay court debts and fees so they can cast ballots in the November presidential election.

    More Than A Vote, a group established by James and others in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, on Friday said it will donate $100,000 to help pay outstanding court debts of ex-felons so they can register to vote. The money will go to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which in 2018 successfully pushed to a constitutional amendment that lifted Florida’s lifetime voting ban on people with felony convictions. …

    Of course, $100,000 is a drop in the bucket.
    And DeSantis will surely cook up some excuse to disallow this.
    All he needs to do is run out the clock.

    Reply
    1. D. Fuller

      I wouldn’t be surprised if DeSantis and R’s came out with accusations of “vote buying”. Of course, it would be complete nonsense if that accusation were made against Lebron and his organization.

      Reply
    2. edmondo

      Am I the only one who sees the irony of these people not being able to vote for Joe Biden in November because Joe Biden is the one who pushed the crime bill that made them felons to begin with?

      God has a wicked sense of humor.

      Reply
      1. allan

        “Joe Biden is the one who pushed the crime bill that made them felons to begin with”

        LOL. The affected individuals are felons under state law.

        Try harder.

        Reply
  16. JTMcPhee

    Re the Catholic Church being a “2,000-year-old institution gone horribly wrong“:
    By all accounts, this has been a “feature” of the Catholic priesthood since the early church days. And of course it’s a feature of pretty UCB any institution where people have power over others, especially where there’s some mythical potency to that power. Even in The World’s Greatest Military Machine, there’s a whole lot of sexual abuse: https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/05/02/despite-efforts-sexual-assaults-nearly-40-us-military.html. Add impunity to what tradition marks out as perverse behavior and what do you get? And the Catholic Church and the US military and even “the world’s greatest deliberative body” https://archive.thinkprogress.org/sexual-predator-congress-0802dc2ef524/ and White House anterooms with blue dress accommodations have systematically and structurally fostered this abuse.

    It’s baked into the DNA of the institutional structures that rule us, just part of the reality beneath the patina of sanctity that we mopes are stupid enough to accept, along with all the other degradations and depredations we tolerate (and quite a few of us participate in, of course.) Anyone disagrees, they ought to just look at “l’affaire Epstein” as just one little lifting of the curtains drawn so protectively by the powerful around their playpens..

    Reply
      1. caucus99percenter

        There seems to be a misunderstanding… The discriminatory, “shadowbanning” angle is when Google prevents links from showing up for any searches that don’t explicitly include “unz” (or in the general case, whatever the name of the shadowbanned domain is) as a search term.

        In other words, people who don’t already know the website can no longer “discover” it by being directed to it based on a match on searched-for subject matter alone. This can make a huge difference in the amount of traffic an online outlet gets. It’s like the difference between the newsstand displaying your magazine out front with the others, as opposed to only selling it “under the counter” to people who know to ask for it by name.

        Reply
  17. jr

    Re: Biden’s Epic Empathy Pro-file tweetle photo

    I’m trying desperately to think of a substitute line for the blurb about Beau…

    “I remember when glow bugs were my friends!”

    Reply
  18. richard

    hey, here is j. dore at his bombshell best, showing how the DHS lied when they said their agents sent to abduct in portland had special training.
    the gov’t lied? Oh great, now that on top of everything else.
    :(?)

    Reply
  19. Hank Linderman

    Re: Rod Dreher getting “cancelled” by Google – he appears to *moderate* his own comments section; good luck getting your comment accepted if you don’t agree with him. This is nothing more than turn about is fair play.

    Reply
    1. km

      Dreher is at times an ass, but to be fair to him, his message board is not a de facto non-public utility and monopoly.

      Also, judging from the comments he lets in, I hate to imagine some of the loons that he doesn’t let through. I suspect that if he weren’t to moderate comments, the signal-noise ratio would resemble that of FC or 4chan.

      Reply
      1. Hank Linderman

        Certainly he has had his share of food fights, but there is something wrong with the writer of the article deciding which comments to allow (excluding threats, lies, misdirection, etc). At this point, I don’t bother replying in the comments section in his article – I go to another related one on TAC and it gets published. Others comment as well, no one seems bent out of shape.

        I am probably spoiled by NC’s comments section – a clearly posted policy that is followed. Dreher has no policy other than what he decides goes. So – I have zero sympathy for him.

        Reply
    2. Sacred Ground

      I just googled “Rod Dreher”. The autofill in the search window identified him as “American writer” and “author of (book title) and provided 10 options, all directly related to him, before I’d typed the 3rd letter of his surname.

      When I hit enter, I got a page full of nothing but him. Top link was his Twitter page. Next was most recent article page at American Conservative, and a sub-link to his profile page there. 3rd was the Wikipedia article about him. Then a bunch of YouTube videos featuring him. The rest of the first page was two reviews of his book, one positive and one negative, and the Amazon page for his book.

      Then I searched for “Rod Dreher blog” and the first link was to the archive of his blog at American Conservative. And that’s after I misspelled “blog” by typing too fast.

      For someone who’s been “cancelled” he sure is easy to find. Once again, he’s just making shit up to complain about it.

      Reply
      1. Sacred Ground

        Anytime any public figure claims to have been “silenced”, the first thing I do is google them. The first page is always entirely them, their recent works, videos, and maybe a handful of other people’s writing about them. Every time.

        I mean, ffs, he’s complaining about being “silenced” on his freaking Twitter account with 57k followers.

        How many times do we have to listen to a conservative complain in national media about his lack of access to national media?

        Reply
        1. Late Introvert

          I do tech support for Windows people. Almost always they have some search redirect in their Chrome or Edge browser. It’s all designed to “protect” them, and then sends it off to nefarious places.

          Dreher seems like a guy who would have about 6 of them.

          Reply
  20. jr

    A photographer takes pictures of the descendants of people in old paintings and photographs in the exact dress their ancestors wore:

    https://www.thisiscolossal.com/2020/07/drew-gardner-descendants/

    This strikes me as so bizarre. It’s playing dress-up dolls with history. But maybe it’s just in the context of the weirdness of the times. In a saner world, this would be a fun project, a lark. My instincts screamed IDPol historical brain scrubbing…

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Very big if true.
      As with all “Unexplained Phenomena” reports, I generally wait until some ‘solid’ evidence is presented. As with the ‘RussiaRussiaRussia’ psyops program, second and third hand testimony is not convincing.
      We want names, dates, and hard evidence.

      Reply
  21. rowlf

    While looking for a training film on replacing cylinders on large radial aircraft engines to share with a younger engineer in my department, I ran across this film about DC-10 production by McDonnell Douglas.

    What I found interesting was what workers appeared in the film and wondered to what level was it staged. It may be that at the time this was filmed it wasn’t staged and was an actual run-the-film-crew through the Long Beach factory.

    (And the ytube channel is like visiting a fun library.)

    The Making of a DC-10

    Reply
    1. RMO

      I can’t help but wonder if one of the aircraft on the line was the one that ended up with THY – the one that the paperwork and inspector’s stamps said had the mandated, fixed cargo door mechanism installed when it was being built by the factory but really didn’t.

      Reply
      1. rowlf

        You could see if similar line number aircraft were called out in the airworthiness directive to the THY aircraft and compare to when the aircraft were being filmed at the factory.

        I got to thinking while listening to an Adolph Reed Jr interview that the MDC factory workers were unionized and that may be why they looked like the local population.

        Reply
  22. VietnamVet

    The spread of the coronavirus pandemic into Central Valley of California is not surprising. It is only the corrupt and incompetent who couldn’t see it coming. Living pay check to paycheck. Multigenerational families. Unaffordable healthcare. No free public health system. No universal fast testing. No contact tracing. No safe government run isolation centers. The only shock is the denial of the horrible fiasco.

    It had its one day run in corporate media but summer camps have become mini hot spots. A scheme that apparently worked was organizing the camp in of pods of 8 to 10 kids. They were tested beforehand to make sure everyone was negative and then isolated from other pods so if there is an outbreak it could be kept isolated. This scheme has to be expanded to schools and work places. It has not. The Elite have gambled everything on a for-profit vaccine next year. They won’t pay for public health programs that work in Asia. Defeating the pandemic would cost them too much and prove that government, regulations and taxes are necessary for the survival of civilization.

    People out of work, untouchable, no future, and waiting to get sick. The top 10% wonder why there are riots in the Pacific Northwest. Rather than face reality they blame history, Russians, Chinese. Not the increasing deadly inequality in America.

    Reply
  23. Samuel Conner

    Re: the Kemp/Bottoms dispute

    I can’t be the first to have thought of this, but perhaps Georgia could change its state motto to

    “live free and die”

    Reply
    1. rowlf

      Are mask mandates more of a feel-good measure? How are other states or cities enforcing their mandates? I think Kemp should have let cities have their mandates and wait for offenders to challenge them in court. Georgia spent a lot of time in the past restricting municipalities from generating revenue through speed traps and such but I haven’t found the basis for Kemp saying the mandates are unenforcable even though he requests everyone to wear masks.

      Reply

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