2:00PM Water Cooler 7/31/2020

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. Back to our top five problem states: Florida, California, Texas, Georgia, and Arizona, with New York for comparison:

Not quite ready to call that peak for the five problem states. Those curves are all starting to look like a plateau.

“Coronavirus hotspots ease, but officials warn normal is a long way off” [The Hill]. “In interviews with state health officials this week, most said they remain concerned that the drop in new cases may be a plateau at an unacceptably high level of transmission, rather than a sustained decline…. In many places, evidence suggests the most vulnerable populations — older people and those with underlying conditions — are doing a far better job protecting themselves than are younger, healthy people…. Many states have closed bars or limited alcohol service after dark to discourage social gatherings, after several bars and parties became epicenters of major clusters. The vast majority of transmission, however, is still happening in communities, and especially in households where one family member might get several others sick.”

This chart includes new cases and positivity. Positivity is concerning. In terms of undercounting as measured by positivity (higher is bad), the order from worst to best would be AZ, FL, GA, TX, CA, at 7.46%, is still too high by WHO standards (they want 5%). So all the states are making progress in testing, especially Arizona (20.2%) but all have a way to go.

LA: “LA Mayor Urges ‘Extreme Caution’ (Men Especially) To Fight COVID-19 Spread” [LAist (anon in so cal)]. “Garcetti said L.A. County’s transmission rate is down to 0.92, which is slightly less than last week when it was 0.94. “This represents that what you’re doing is having an impact,” he said. sHe did acknolwedge the highest death count since the start of the pandemic happened within the last 24 hours — 91 deaths in the county — but attributed that to a reporting backlog. Of those deaths, 30 were in the city of L.A. The mayor also pointed out an interesting data point — men in L.A. County are much more likely to test positive for COVID-19 (2/3 of confirmed cases are men and 1/3 are women).” • That last figure is odd.

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. July 28: Still no changes.


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

So, taking the consensus as a given, 270 (total) – 204 (Trump’s) = 66. Trump must win 66 from the states in play: AZ (11), FL (29), MI (16), NC (15), PA (20), and WI (10) plus 1 to win not tie = 102. 102 – 66 = 36. So if Trump wins FL, MI, NC, and PA (29 + 16 + 15 + 20 = 80), he wins. That’s a heavy lift. I think I’ve got the math right this time!

2020

Biden (D)(1): “Biden, Bernie forces clash during convention meeting: [Politico]. “A Democratic Party meeting that leaders hoped would project unity weeks ahead of the national convention instead broke out into a behind-the-scenes feud over corporate money in politics….. The spat began when Brent Welder, a Sanders appointee on the convention’s rules committee, proposed a resolution to change the party charter to refuse all corporate PAC dollars and limit corporate lobbyists from serving on the DNC for several years. A Biden appointee called for it to be tabled, which some Sanders appointees said caught them off guard. ‘Tabling until when?’ asked Welder. ‘Generally, until someone makes a successful motion to take it off the table,” replied former Rep. Barney Frank, the co-chair of the meeting. ‘After the committee expires, if no one has moved to take it off the table successfully, then it dies with the committee.’ ‘Wow, that doesn’t make any sense at all,’ said Welder. Jillian Johnson, a Sanders appointee on the committee, said other Sanders supporters urged that the proposal be brought to a vote in the closed-door breakout room by changing the background images on their screens to reflect their support. She said some Biden appointees chastised progressives over it. ‘You’re acting like children,’ someone said, and, ‘You were going to lose anyway, so get over it,” she said. ‘And then the host just closed the meeting so we couldn’t see each other anymore.'” • Frank is right on the procedure, and right on the merits, if you want Big Donors to run the Democrat Party (and never eliminate self-dealing by DNC members who are also campaign strategists). But holy moley, Sanders people, buy a copy of Robert’s Rules!

Trump (R)(1): “Trump’s Unfitness For Office” [Rod Dreher, The American Conservative]. “Trump had a phenomenal opportunity, and though he certainly faced hostile and clever enemies (as all presidents do), he blew that opportunity by governing badly. If he were only a tiny bit of the hard man his enemies think he is, wokeness would not be saturating US Attorneys offices in the Department of Justice…. It’s so depressing. I have never been as concerned as I am now about Democratic Party rule, because they’ve never been so radical. But I also haven’t lost so much confidence in a Republican presidency since the end of the George W. Bush administration. Please spare me the shopworn ‘at least he fights’ excuse. If he fights, then he fights like a barroom drunk swinging wildly and ineffectively. As MBD points out, he hasn’t accomplished much. Trump performs the role of a fighting president. His presidency is like professional wrestling: it only looks like combat.” • Dreher certainly has an odd concept of “radical.” Worth a read for the bill of particulars.

UPDATE Trump (R)(2): “Trump campaign temporarily halts ad spending for review of messaging strategy” [CNN]. “President Donald Trump’s campaign has canceled a series of advertisement buys over the next few days as they review their messaging strategy, a senior campaign official told CNN. The decision comes after the campaign demoted former campaign manager Brad Parscale and elevated current campaign manager Bill Stepien. The move to promote Stepien and demote Parscale took place on July 15, a little more than two weeks ago.

“With the leadership change in the campaign, there’s understandably a review and fine-tuning of the campaign’s strategy. We’ll be back on the air shortly, even more forcefully exposing Joe Biden as a puppet of the radical left-wing,” a senior campaign official told CNN.” • “Exposing Joe Biden as a puppet of the radical left-wing” makes by brain hurt. I expect Biden will need to prove he’s no such thing, so expect more reactionary, suburban Republican-friendly nonsense.

UPDATE Trump (R)(3): “Meme group joins with Lincoln Project in new campaign against Trump” [The Hill]. “The group Meme 2020 is partnering with The Lincoln Project, a prominent Republican group opposing President Trump’s reelection, with a new campaign targeting young voters through popular Instagram accounts. Meme 2020 made its first foray into politics earlier this year with a push backing Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign, but its latest project, which launched this week, is instead focusing on a broader voter mobilization effort. ‘Meme 2020 is laser focussed on building out this new medium that has been largely undeveloped in political advertising,’ said Ryan Patrick Kelley, chief of staff of Meme 2020.” • Except for the Trump campaign…

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UPDATE “Without Medicare for All, This Isn’t ‘the Boldest Democratic Platform in American History'” [The Nation]. “he Democratic National Committee’s platform committee approved a draft of the party’s 2020 agenda this week and committee cochair Denis McDonough promptly described it as the ‘boldest Democratic platform in American history.’ It’s not—unless your definition of ‘bold’ includes a tepid health care stance that rejects the single-payer Medicare for All agenda that enjoys overwhelming support from Americans in this Covid-19 moment. The proposed platform also pulls its punches on a host of other issues, from marijuana legalization, an end to qualified immunity for police officers, the placing of conditions on aid to Israel, a federal jobs guarantee, and a comprehensive approach to developing and implementing a Green New Deal…. Sanders delegates from Nevada have called on convention delegates to sign a petition that concludes with a ‘pledge to vote against any platform that does not include a plank supporting universal, single-payer Medicare for All.’ Progressive Democrats of America, RootsAction.org, and other groups are circulating the petition and, according to Jeff Cohen of RootsAction, it had been signed by 700 delegates as of Tuesday afternoon.” • Good. I don’t even know what to say about a party that can’t take this sensible step, that has worked so well for so many other countries.

“Fueled By Suburbs, Democrats Are Poised For Gains In Key States, Analysis Finds” [NPR]. “A new report from the centrist Democratic group Third Way, shared first with NPR, finds that Democrats are on track to win the suburbs in five of six key states they lost in the 2016 presidential election.” • Oh.

UPDATE “Democrats’ Anxieties Aren’t About the Polls” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “So other than still suffering from PTSD following Election Night 2016, why are top Democratic strategists so worried? Well, they’re fretting over whether polling places will be open, whether a shortage of polling workers due to the pandemic—particularly in large urban areas—could depress their vote. They worry about postal-sorting facilities being closed down due to the coronavirus, which would make it hard to get ballots out to people and back in time to be counted (some states require ballots to be postmarked by a certain date, or received by a certain time). They worry about vote counters being overwhelmed in states where there is little history of mail-in voting. Then they worry about voter-suppression efforts by some Republican state and local election figures. I recently had a conversation with one very senior Democratic strategist. Probably 90 percent of the conversation was about all of the things that worried him, and virtually all of it had to do with the administration of this election and all of the things that could go wrong. Simply put, whether legitimately or out of paranoia, they are less worried about President Trump winning this election than about other factors allowing it to slip out of their hands. When I first heard some of this talk several months ago, I tended to discount it, but whether any of these fears manifest themselves in any meaningful way or not, it is what keeps Democrats awake at night.” • Imagine the timeline if Democrats had supported hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public after the 2000 debacle. Now we have a system that’s broken because both parties want the capacity to steal elections. They made their bed….

UPDATE House districts at the state level (UserFriendly). Red is Republican, Blue is Democrat. (That darkish maroon is “Uncontested Republican.” There are rather a lot of them.) The map is interactive, but here’s a screen dump:

Health Care

About that “empathy” thing:

Obama Legacy

UPDATE The video is closed captioned, so you don’t have to turn your sound up:

I don’t know why there isn’t a degree for smugness, because if the Obama’s don’t have one, they should. Personally, I think any young person who’s gotten a collection letter from a student loan agency, or anybody who’s been pursued to pay tens of thousands of dollars in surprise billing, knows more about governement as practiced in these United States today than the Obama’s ever did or ever will.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“A bipartisan group secretly gathered to game out a contested Trump-Biden election. It wasn’t pretty” [Boston Globe]. “On the second Friday in June, a group of political operatives, former government and military officials, and academics quietly convened online for what became a disturbing exercise in the fragility of American democracy. The group, which included Democrats and Republicans, gathered to game out possible results of the November election, grappling with questions that seem less far-fetched by the day: What if President Trump refuses to concede a loss, as he publicly hinted recently he might do? How far could he go to preserve his power? And what if Democrats refuse to give in? ‘All of our scenarios ended in both street-level violence and political impasse,” said Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown law professor and former Defense Department official who co-organized the group known as the Transition Integrity Project. She described what they found in bleak terms: “The law is essentially … it’s almost helpless against a president who’s willing to ignore it.’ … Using a role-playing game that is a fixture of military and national security planning, the group envisioned a dark 11 weeks between Election Day and Inauguration Day, one in which Trump and his Republican allies used every apparatus of government — the Postal Service, state lawmakers, the Justice Department, federal agents, and the military — to hold onto power, and Democrats took to the courts and the streets to try to stop it.” • As if Democrats ever conceded their loss in 2016! (On Rosa Brooks: “[Rosa Brooks of New America and Tom Wright of the Brookings Institution, both.. rejected the very idea of ending America’s existing wars. They argued that the U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria are really ‘counter-terrorism operations’ rather than ‘wars.’ Brooks even uttered the word identifying her as a member of the national security elite in good standing by calling for a ‘robust’ policy.) The other way of reading this article, which doesn’t include quite so much good faith from the Rosa Brook’s of this world, is that the national security establishment will be heavily involved in picking 2016’s winner (unless there’s a landslide, of course). It has also occurred to me that the protests (as opposed to the riots) are a splendid training ground for Women’s March and Indivisible types to “take to the streets.” Rather like 2000’s bourgeois riot in 2000, but at scale.

UPDATE The Great Assimilation™:

I can’t even.

UPDATE “The U.S. election is getting ugly – and investors are getting nervous” [Reuters]. “Investors are increasingly preparing for the risk of a contested U.S. presidential election come the fall, worried that an ugly political situation will create volatility across markets… An election without a clear winner the following day would likely weigh on the benchmark S&P 500, which is up nearly 45% since its March lows and hovering near record highs. The S&P 500 fell 1.8% the morning after the disputed Nov. 7, 2000 election between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush, and fell 5% by the end of the week, according to data from Capital Economics.” • I remember the cries for “closure” in 2000, not just from Republicans, and no doubt Mr. Market will issue similar cries in a disputed election.

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.

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Real Estate: “The looming peak season is prompting a rush on warehousing. Retailers are already moving to find more space for goods…. as they overhaul distribution networks before an expected crush of online orders this fall” [Wall Street Journal]. “On-demand warehousing provider Flexe Inc. says demand for temporary warehouse space ‘is way up’ heading into a holiday season that’s wrapped in uncertainty because of the coronavirus pandemic. Many retailers are betting that the big e-commerce surge of under coronavirus lockdowns will continue, however, and are shifting inventory to set up speedier delivery of online purchases.” • I dunno. If people can’t gather round the Christmas tree, what happens to retail?

Shipping: “The new chief executive of United Parcel Service is being cautious on capacity while taking an aggressive stance on pricing. CEO Carol Tomé told an earnings conference call that the package giant has the capabilities in place to handle projected peak-season volumes… and even turned down an offer from Boeing for three 747 freighters” [Wall Street Journal]. “Ms. Tomé says UPS will focus instead on becoming ‘better, not bigger.’ That means focusing on improving margins in a tumultuous market that has seen huge volumes of packages flood its delivery network, significantly raising costs. Residential deliveries soared 65% last quarter but profit margins narrowed sharply, a sign of how UPS and its retail customers are still adjusting to the consumer pivot.” • Ouch, Boeing. And UPS is becoming “better not bigger” at the same time we’re crippling the Post Office? How does that work?

Tech: “Winning Irish Stock Lets You See Who Sleeps Through Your Call” [Bloomberg]. ” Rather than traveling to a single location or dialing into a call, participants strap on a headset or access an app to be virtually placed in the same room. VRE’s Engage platform allows non-verbal communications via its avatars, which mirror participants’ movements, from shaking hands to drawing on a white-board, and body language. It’s also trickier to simply tune out by switching off the camera during a video call. ‘There’s a reason why people go to classrooms, because you see who’s paying attention, you can really interact with people, you can get that eye-contact,’ Chief Executive Officer David Whelan said in an interview earlier this month. Using its technology, ‘if one of the students falls asleep, you’ll see their avatar will fall asleep, they’ll slouch over the desk.'” • Unless the avatars are hacked, of course. For which there would obviously be a market.

Supply Chain: “Pharmaceutical companies are already moving to build the supply chains that would be needed to rapidly get a coronavirus vaccine to billions of people around the world. The enormous behind-the-scenes effort includes lining up the raw materials, factory capacity and special handling equipment needed to make and ship vaccines… and it comes even as the potential drugs themselves remain under research and development” [Wall Street Journal]. “The magnitude and speed of the effort creates room for lapses that could cost invaluable doses of a product that the world hopes can push back a virus that has killed over 661,000, including more than 150,000 in the U.S. Pharmaceutical companies say the scale of the effort is unparalleled in recent memory, far surpassing the annual distribution of flu vaccines. Some operators raise questions over transport capacity, but companies and governments are trying to get the capabilities set up.”

Mr. Market: “Big Tech Earnings Surge During Pandemic While Economy Slumps” [Bloomberg]. “The largest U.S. technology companies are thriving in a pandemic that has increased dependence on their products and services, while hammering much of the rest of the economy. Quarterly results from Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc. on Thursday show the industry is capitalizing on the crisis as locked-down consumers use tech gadgets and the internet for entertainment, social connection, shopping, learning and work. Together, the four companies reported revenue of $206 billion and net income of $29 billion in the three months ending in late June. ‘Right now, it’s big tech’s world and everyone else is paying rent,’ said Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives. ‘They are consumer staples now and this crisis has bought their growth forward by about two years.'”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 63 Greed (previous close: 62 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 63 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). L Last updated Jul 31 at 12:59pm. Solid greed. Starting to get dull.

The Biosphere

“Morning glories and mustard: U.S. investigates unsolicited seed mystery” [Reuters]. “The U.S. Agriculture Department has identified more than a dozen plant species ranging from morning glories to mustard in bags of unsolicited seeds arriving in the mailboxes of thousands of Americans, mostly postmarked from China…. The packages have also been reported in Canada, where Ontario’s Central Region Provincial Police posted a warning on Facebook Wednesday against ‘foreign seeds in the mail from China or Taiwan.'” • Have any NC readers gotten any of these seeds?

“Plant of the Month: Peony” [JSTOR]. “While today we think of peonies as beautiful ornamental flowers, for much of their history they were viewed as an important medicinal plant. Writings discovered in an imperial Han tomb confirm that peony root (called “danpi”) was used to treat blood stasis nearly 2,000 years ago in China. In traditional Chinese medicine, the common Chinese garden peony (Paeonia lactiflora) was used to treat high blood pressure, inflammation, and gynecological ailments, including hot flashes and irregular menstrual cycles. In the ancient Greco-Roman world, peony, often in combination with mistletoe, was prescribed not only to induce menstrual flow but also to treat seizures and epilepsy. The Roman physician Galen recommended peony root tied around the necks of children as an effective remedy for “the falling sickness,” a common premodern phrase for epilepsy. Throughout the Middle Ages, peony continued to be used for seizures and epilepsy, either worn around the neck as a talisman or prescribed by physicians. This prescription persisted into sixteenth-century Europe.”

“Why Are Plants Green? To Reduce the Noise in Photosynthesis” [Quanta]. “From large trees in the Amazon jungle to houseplants to seaweed in the ocean, green is the color that reigns over the plant kingdom. Why green, and not blue or magenta or gray? The simple answer is that although plants absorb almost all the photons in the red and blue regions of the light spectrum, they absorb only about 90% of the green photons. If they absorbed more, they would look black to our eyes. Plants are green because the small amount of light they reflect is that color. But that seems unsatisfyingly wasteful because most of the energy that the sun radiates is in the green part of the spectrum. When pressed to explain further, biologists have sometimes suggested that the green light might be too powerful for plants to use without harm, but the reason why hasn’t been clear. Even after decades of molecular research on the light-harvesting machinery in plants, scientists could not establish a detailed rationale for plants’ color. Recently, however, in the pages of Science, scientists finally provided a more complete answer. They built a model to explain why the photosynthetic machinery of plants wastes green light. What they did not expect was that their model would also explain the colors of other photosynthetic forms of life too. Their findings point to an evolutionary principle governing light-harvesting organisms that might apply throughout the universe. They also offer a lesson that — at least sometimes — evolution cares less about making biological systems efficient than about keeping them stable… It might be highly efficient to specialize in collecting just the peak energy in green light, but that would be detrimental for plants because, when the sunlight flickered, the noise from the input signal would fluctuate too wildly for the complex to regulate the energy flow.” • Plants are so smart. I don’t like flickering sunlight either.

Health Care

“Scared That Covid-19 Immunity Won’t Last? Don’t Be” [New York Times]. “a finding that naturally occurring antibodies in some Covid-19 patients are fading doesn’t actually mean very much for the likely efficacy of vaccines under development. Science, in this case, can be more effective than nature. The human immune system has evolved to serve two functions: expediency and precision. Hence, we have two types of immunity: innate immunity, which jumps into action within hours, sometimes just minutes, of an infection; and adaptive immunity, which develops over days and weeks…. That antibodies decrease once an infection recedes isn’t a sign that they are failing: It’s a normal step in the usual course of an immune response. Nor does a waning antibody count mean waning immunity: The memory B cells that first produced those antibodies are still around, and standing ready to churn out new batches of antibodies on demand.” • So, even if the bloodstream isn’t full of antibodies, the body retains the recipes for them. That is extremely cool.

“Virus testing turnaround times reveal wide disparity” [Associated Press]. “As coronavirus cases surge in hard-hit Florida, so do the turnaround times for test results. The reasons are many: Often it has to do with lab staffing, backlog, or equipment shortages. Some tests are done in house, while others are sent to overloaded labs out of state. Health experts say test results that come back after two or three days are nearly worthless, because by then the window for tracing the person’s contacts to prevent additional infections has essentially closed. But there is one place in Central Florida where a group of people are being tested and getting results within a day: the NBA. Basketball players, team staff, news media and anyone else inside the “bubble” at the practice compound at Walt Disney World are tested daily — and get their results within 15-18 hours on average. This rankles some in Central Florida, who wonder why local, state and federal leaders can’t coordinate large-scale, organized testing, but the NBA can.” • ‘Tis a puzzlement!

“The Paradox of Medical Costs During the Pandemic” [EconoFact]. “As COVID-19 began to rapidly spread in the United States, many experts suggested that medical costs would rise substantially due to the pandemic. They projected high costs from long and expensive hospitalizations for those seriously affected by the virus, especially in hot-spots throughout the country. Paradoxically, however, medical costs seem to have gone down substantially — at least in the short term. This is because non-COVID expenditures have dropped sharply. Patients have not obtained non-emergency care, ranging from screening and immunization to chronic care visits and surgery. Some of this care will be delivered later, but some will never be made up. Even as communities decrease pandemic-related restrictions, patients may remain reluctant to obtain non-urgent medical care. Such a drop in medical expenditures is extremely rare: total U.S. health expenditures per capita have increased every year since at least 1970, including during the recession of 2008-9.” • So much for hospital capital expenditures.

“Child vaccinations plummet during COVID-19 pandemic, worrying Michigan health officials” [Free Press]. “Fewer Michigan children got vaccinations while the state was in throes of coronavirus-related shutdowns, leaving health officials worried about the spread of preventable diseases like measles, whooping cough and influenza. Vaccinations have increased since they took a precipitous drop this spring, but numbers are still down significantly compared to 2018 and 2019, according to the state health department. In June 2020, dosages of vaccines administered through federal or state funding dropped 10% compared to an average combining June 2018 and June 2019, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. That’s an improvement over May’s 44% decrease and April’s 64% decrease compared to the prior two years.” • Yikes.

UPDATE I read this as WHO betting on a Biden administration, and opening a channel to the Obama Alumni Association:

For more on Sunstein, see Mark Ames in 2009: “Cass Sunstein: Meet the Horrible New Obama-Era Elite, Or “All the President’s Middlebrows.” Nice to see Sunstein rising to his level of incompetence:

And about WHO:

So, “trust the science”? These nimrods sucked me in with their “noble lie” on masks, and I gave readers bad information and had to recant!

Groves of Academe

Private Equity Looters? Academics Aren’t Convinced Bloomberg

Black Injustice Tipping Point

https://jacobinmag.com/2020/07/antislavery-mass-politics-matt-karp-vast-majority

Guillotine Watch

Not just imprison:

Class Warfare

UPDATE News you can use about our wonderful unemployment system:

Means-testing, complex eligibility testing… It’s enough to warm the heart of any liberal Democrat!

“Building An Inclusive Post-Pandemic American Workforce” [The American Conservative]. “ll eyes are on the declining number of unemployed. The May and June jobs reports chronicle the reabsorption of 5.3 million who lost their jobs in the COVID-19 pandemic. Twelve million jobs to go to reach pre-pandemic employment. Yet prior to the pandemic, there were 18 million Americans missing from the economy. These persons were neither employed nor seeking employment—nor retirees, students or in-home caregivers—and therefore were excluded from the Bureau of Labor Statistics count of the workforce. In order that America emerge from the pandemic stronger than before, a concerted initiative by federal and state governments to move them back into the economy—using existing resources—must begin now. These are people struggling with disabilities such as physical handicaps and mental illness; substance abuse disorders; health complaints; criminal histories; and vocational deficits. They are, however, human beings endowed with unique and significant potential; they deserve our attention for several reasons. Research on the social determinants of health finds that employment has a very strong correlation with positive health outcomes. To exist as a non-participant in the economy is thus an invitation to dire health outcomes including premature death.” • “Social determinants of health” in TAC. I think the world is coming to an end.

News of the Wired

“These 45 Netgear routers can be hacked and will never be fixed — what to do now” [Tom’s Guide]. “Forty-five different Netgear Wi-Fi routers and home gateways will never get security patches despite having serious security flaws that were disclosed in June, the company has now confirmed. If you own or use one of these routers, it’s best to just throw it out and get a new one. You could try installing open-source router firmware such as OpenWRT on the old model if you’re technologically inclined. These routers were among nearly 80 Netgear models prone to total takeover by hackers who could exploit flaws in their administrative interfaces. The Netgear router flaws were revealed in mid-June.” • The list is at the end of the article (with an explanation of how to determine what a Netgear model number actually is).

“Elton John, celebrating 30 years of sobriety, says if he had never asked for help, he’d be dead” [CNN]. Elton John:

Reflecting on the most magical day having celebrated my 30th Sobriety Birthday. So many lovely cards, flowers and chips from my sons, David, friends in the Program, staff at the office and in our homes. I’m truly a blessed man. If I hadn’t finally taken the big step of asking for help 30 years ago, I’d be dead. Thank-you from the bottom of my heart to all the people who have inspired and supported me along the way.

I’m not an Elton John listener, but — PSA start — sobriety is a wonderful thing, so congratulations to him. Also, “Stress, isolation and free time: People are drinking more amid pandemic, study says” [The News & Observer], so now might be the time to take the First Step. PSA end.

“Mask Stickers in Team Colors” [Kickstarter]. Alert reader rattib writes:

I’m not sure if a kickstarter campaign qualifies as a legitimate link, but as a regular reader of the blog and (very!) rare commenter (as ‘rattib’), I’ve been really grateful for NC’s thorough inquiry into the technical aspects of Covid-19, especially around mask use. I’ve also been frustrated at how much individualism as a character trait in the US seems to have taken center stage with regard to masking, when there is tons of evidence that Americans are actually quite good at working together as a team and showing support for one another, for instance in the world of sports. Just one example: more than 700,000 people came out in the middle of winter to see the Seahawks Superbowl victory parade back in 2014; that year the city of Seattle clocked in with a population of 670,925. In any case, I started a kickstarter to raise funds for stickers in team colors that say “MY MASK PROTECTS YOU/ YOUR MASK PROTECTS ME” – the link is here, I’d be thrilled if you shared it.

I’ve been saying masks should be fashion items since I first posted on them. So even though I don’t have a team, this sounds like a very good idea!

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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 (periol):

periol writes: “Still barely getting settled, so I haven’t really had a chance to take photos of the plants in place before we moved in, but here is a photo of some baby grapes (not sure what variety) being fertilized by one of the many bees that lives on the property with us. The grape leaves are under attack from tiny insects, but there are nearly ripe bunches of fruit elsewhere on the vine.”

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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.

123 comments

  1. MF

    Not to knit pick but Grapes are hermaphrodites and have, therefore, no need of bees. Cool pic nonetheless.

    Reply
      1. divadab

        it’s about picking nits, aka small insects notably fleas. Nit picking, knot knit picking! ;>]

        There is a ruder version from teh military – down to fxxking flies.

        Reply
    1. periol

      Good to know. I’ve never dealt with grapes, so all I know is the bees love them, and it was impossible to get a picture without a bee blurring across the photo, so I decided to give in and let the bees dictate the pic. :)

      Reply
    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      Lovely pic, wonderful patterning. Thanks so much, periol. I may download and make it my phone wallpaper for a while. It’s so hot here and it’s very refreshing!

      Reply
    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      By “hermaphrodites” . . . do we mean flowers with ” male” and “female” parts in the same flower?

      Because if we do, then thousands of kinds of plants have them and they are called “complete” flowers. And if a plant-load of flowers is attracting bees, that shows that the plant is using its flowers to produce enough pollen and/or nectar to make it worth a bee’s time to visit. So the bees are benefiting the ongoing evolution of the plants by carrying pollen from the anthers of one plant to the pistils of another. That allows for all kinds of gene recombination. Even if the plant could crudely reproduce by strictly self-pollination, it would carry forward the genetic variety into further generations which makes long-term survival more likely over the long term.

      But I am just an amateur science buff. If any serious plant scientist knows different and better, I welcome correction, hopefully with good grace.

      Reply
  2. L

    But holy moley, Sanders people, buy a copy of Robert’s Rules!

    On this point it is worth pointing out how much this feels like the earlier parts of the Tea Party wave. Yes there are big differences between the Tea Party and the Sanders Movement (for lack of a better term) but there is also a crucial similarity.

    In the early days when Tea Party groups arose around the country and sought to insert themselves into Republican politics they quickly broke fell into one of two tracks. Energetic outsiders who occasionally won control of local machinery but ultimately were ignored, and prepped insiders and experienced pols who managed to translate their control into lasting positions. The ones who managed to stick around were either former pols who rode the wave, or trained themselves to become so.

    All of which brings me to my point. If the movement is going to survive it needs to develop boot camps, training efforts, and an ability to sustain people at the county dem meetings and state meetings where they can override the insiders, not just be told “you’re going to lose.” (and yes I absolutely believe someone said that. I’ve been in those meetings, insider pols are [family blog]les)

    Reply
      1. L

        Yeah. even when they are right it provides an easy out for the insiders to dis Sanders supporters as the unwashed heathens and feel smug in their own superiority.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If one is going to do close quarters hand-to-hand political combat with the enemy factions of “your own” party, one needs to understand all the weapons and how to use them

          I remember someone writing in the past about the “professional pols” at these small and local levels of the Democratic Party. As people, the description seemed to make them appear to be drab and dreary losers, human ruins – – interesting only for what they had once been or what they never would/ never will become.

          And yet they control all the weapons and the ammunition and the supplies. So insurgents will have to be as long-game committed to the patient grind and time-suck of destroying these people as these people are devoted to the joys of being a bottomless pit of grind and time-suck in ego-defense of their humanly-worthless existence.

          Reply
      2. Swamp Yankee

        Yes, this is troubling indeed. My high school history teacher taught me the ins and outs of Robert’s Rules and it has been useful for the rest of my life.

        Why, tomorrow my Massachusetts town is having its long-postponed annual Town Meeting (direct democracy, every citizen a legislator). One of the Articles being voted on is whether to purchase a 1696 house with its original pasture intact that a developer wants to turn into condos. Believe me, both sides on this issue know their parliamentary procedure (MA Town Meetings don’t actually use Robert’s Rules, they use a very similar document called “Town Meeting Time” put out by the Commonwealth).

        Interestingly enough, I asked a friend from Colombia what the Spanish-speaking world’s equivalent of Robert’s Rules is. He said there is none, each country’s legislature has their own system, that there is nowhere near the parliamentary tradition you see in the Anglosphere.

        I thought that was fascinating. Deep history.

        Reply
      3. Darius

        LBJ exercised disproportionate power in the Senate first as majority whip, then minority leader, and finally majority leader, in part, because of his absolute mastery of procedure.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I read somewhere in one of Robert Caro’s books that the other part of Johnson’s power in the Senate came from his funding power over his fellow Democrats. That power was based on his being the trusted adviser to a pack of Big-Donor Texas oil millionaires as to which Senatorial Candidate deserved financial support and which ones did not. He may even have been more directly in control of these rivers of oil money than that.

          Reply
      4. Big River Bandido

        Could this merely be a reflection of 2020 and a general paucity of *willing* political talent during pandemic politics among Sanders’ most experienced supporters?

        The primary was a sham and the convention has already been set up to be so. Sanders has muzzled his own delegates. Anyone who is really interested in being in politics must be concerned with acquiring and using power, but such talents have no use or outlet in the current campaign. Among Sanders supporters that have that knowledge and experience, who would want anything to do with this farce?

        I suspect there weren’t many experienced hands willing to do that for Sanders. Probably only the most naive and inexperienced people would have any interest at all in being a Sanders delegate given these conditions.

        Reply
        1. OpenthepodbaydoorsHAL

          Wall, writing, read on. Anyone with a functioning neo-cortex could see that none of Bernie’s ideas for actual people had a snowball’s chance in Democrat Billionaire Griftopia. Why would they bang their heads

          Reply
          1. The last D

            Bang their heads slowly, and maybe, just maybe, bang the heads a little faster, just a wee little bit faster, in the years ahead. Incremental, mental change is just what the Doctor ordered. This country has/is one big headache, and now we’re running out of ice. Look, it’s all melted, just when we need it most. Who would have thunk? Doctor!

            Reply
      5. posaunist

        Do Democratic party committees use Robert’s, or do they have their own idiosyncratic rules? I’m guessing the latter, more to keep the riffraff at bay than for any necessary governance reason.

        Keep in mind that the house and senate each have their own rules of order, which vary considerably from Robert’s, as do many (all?) state legislatures. Obviously the national conventions run under their own “rules.”

        Reply
    1. Rtah100

      there are big differences between the Tea Party and the Sanders Movement

      Ah, the Tea Party and the Weak Tea Party….

      Reply
  3. barbara

    Maybe it’s time to change the category “Healthcare” to Medical-Industrial Complex or MIC for short since we can barely spell anything out any more. And perhaps a second category called Illness or better yet Preexisting Conditions since now close to 5 million Americans have a new one. Let’s see what those compassionate MIC members want to do about that.

    Reply
    1. Sheldon

      Going to lead to confusion with the origiginal MIC, the Military Industrial Complex.

      How about shortening “healthcare” to

      MIEC the Medical-Industrial-Extortion-Complex?

      Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          Please omit “care” from any medical UNsurance moniker. Wrong to dignify extortion and malfeasance at scale with even a whiff of an association with the notion af “care.”

          Reply
  4. TMoney

    *Sigh* A low grade fever and I feel like crap. Just had my nose poked and slept in a tent last night. Now do I have a cold / regular bug or CV19 ? Wife is on methotrexate, hence the precautions. *Hoist yellow flag* I was informed test results in 3-7 days after a random time shuffle. Such is the state of things in NW Ohio.

    This is repeated all over the country, every sniffle for at least the next year.

    At least the weathers nice outside, as I work from home under the umbrella on the patio. If I had a beer it would most pleasant.

    Reply
    1. L

      I feel for you. I know someone who just got tested and told it would be only 9 days. Apparently that counts as some sort of accomplishment that she will learn what she has after more than a week. And she has no place to pitch a tent.

      Reply
    2. Keith

      Got mine done on Wed, window is 5-7 days. Employer already wants updates. I at least have a part of the house to stay in, but it is 100 degree weather and my part of the house AC issues, so using fans.

      That being said, if I have, I do not see a way my girlfriend does not get it. Good news is our baby does not have to worry, per doctor.

      Oh, regarding the comment above about contract tracing, yeah, I also do not really remember. Also, for people I know I have been in contact with, I informed them, but I would not be comfortable advising the health department about them. I wonder how many more there are like me. Another aside, I have no problem telling them what stores I had been in, but thinking about it, I have never heard about the locations where people with positive tests have been, aside from ag related places. Retailers, like Lowes, Walmart, etc seem exempt, despite even their employees getting tagged with a positive hit.

      Reply
    3. Janie

      Here’s a virtual stein raised to good results on your test. Quite an ordeal and so unnecessary if we had kept up with advanced countries, you know, like Vietnam.

      Reply
    4. Mr. House

      Can’t be that sick if you’d even contemplate having a beer. I had the flu in feb and i didn’t even have an appetite. The fever was so bad my glasses were fogging up from the heat coming off my head. Hope you feel better!

      Reply
    5. Glen

      Was watching something on Utube about something, but did learn the little useful factoid that EVERY IMPORTANT VISITOR TO THE WHITE HOUSE IS TESTED AND GETS RESULTS IN 15 MINUTES.

      Wow, our tax dollars at work.

      Reply
      1. VietnamVet

        This is what gets me really upset. The pandemic is real. The death and grief are real. The anxiety and insomnia are real. Since March 31st, the White House has been protected by quick antigen tests. There has been absolutely no attempt to advance cheap daily antigen test for students and workers and integrate the virus testing with a national public health system to control the pandemic. This is the con. Just like the opioid crisis. Hundreds of thousands of American will die so that the Pharmaceutical corporations can earn a couple billion dollars and to justify wiring 4 trillion dollars to Wall Street. Corporate media ignores antigen test except to say they are imprecise. The tests don’t need to be exact as long as they detect cornorvirus proteins and the false postives are infrequent enough that the number of persons isolated for 14 days are not too great to disgruntle users.

        Reply
        1. Keith

          Well, there is also the triage affect. Students, being younger and healthier in general, should be at the bottom of the list to make way for more at risk people and people needing urgent medical care, such as an operation. Reality is we live in a world of finite resources, so choices have to be made.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            I suspect that a triage effect is being used and choices are being made. The really old are being turned away from hospitals and ventilators & the like are being saved for those who have the best chance of surviving. If this pandemic goes on long enough, I believe that t will be the young that have the greatest resources spent on them (like students) while those old or infirm and the like will be given what is left over.

            Reply
            1. anon in so cal

              >At the start of the pandemic, particularly when ventilators were in short supply, hospital ethics boards established a set of guidelines for prioritizing care. If memory serves, it was largely age-based, where the main criterion was “number of years of life saved” and “life stages remaining.”

              https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/04/03/826082727/ventilator-shortages-loom-as-states-ponder-rules-for-rationing

              >today’s plant–all of the antidotes and daily plants are always great. The green colors of today’s plant are amazing!

              Reply
      2. Keith

        Ditto at the hospital if you are getting a procedure. They did it for my girlfriend, mine, since I am only having COVID issues is 5-7 days. It also includes people who need two tests to make their employers happy. The doctor I saw recommended just a drive through, as she thought my risk was minor, but I had to go to urgent care are the drive through lots had closed and I didn’t want to waste anymore work time. That being said, I suspect they can expedite for higher risk people. Aside from the COVID factors, I am healthy and moderately young.

        Reply
    6. Darius

      I think a pulse-ox concentration below 90-percent is a pretty fair proxy for COVID-19 infection. Pulse-ox readings should be standard procedure. I had one Wednesday as part of an oral surgery procedure. I was relieved to get a 95-percent reading.

      If I am wrong, please disabuse me, commentariat.

      Reply
      1. ptb

        Not necessarily sign of infection, but once infected, it is a sign of the progression of the disease, i.e.
        decreased heart/lung function, which should be taken seriously.

        Relative who got sick, persistent flu/fever/fatigue, tested positive, went to hospital. Despite age and several other conditions that were risk factors, was discharged next morning. (This was in April NYC area). Had a cheap O2 meter at home for the other conditions. After a couple days of checking at home, it did fall below 90, knew to return to hospital. Was then admitted, given simple O2 on-and-off until improved. Eventually recovered, thank goodness.

        Great device to have at home for anyone in an at-risk category.

        Reply
      2. Phillip Allen

        Low blood O2 saturation can result from any condition that affects lung function, including COPD and emphysema – the two most common reasons for chronic low sats. As part of my SARS-CoV-2 regime, I bought myself a pulse oximeter several weeks ago and take a daily reading (at least) to have a baseline to gauge any changes. I seem to be hitting 87%-90% (which is sort-of acceptable given my priors). If I start getting readings below 75% I’ll hoick myself off to the hospital (if other symptoms haven’t sent me there before).

        Reply
  5. Katiebird

    RE: “ Biden, Bernie forces clash during convention meeting”

    I didn’t read it as confusion about Robert’s Rules. I read it as confusion over meeting schedules. Isn’t this all happening through ZOOM meetings? I think everything about the Convention is up in the air.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Sounds like Roberts Rules to me:

      ‘Tabling until when?’ asked Welder. ‘Generally, until someone makes a successful motion to take it off the table,” replied former Rep. Barney Frank, the co-chair of the meeting. ‘After the committee expires, if no one has moved to take it off the table successfully, then it dies with the committee.’ ‘Wow, that doesn’t make any sense at all,’ said Welder.

      I’m sure Barney Frank relished this exchange, which makes it all the more offensive.

      Reply
      1. Katiebird

        That IS sad. I guess I was reading wishfully.

        Brent ran for Congress in my district primary 2 years ago but lost to a woman who doesn’t support Medicare for All (which he does). His wife actually posted of him during that Zoom meeting. I wish he was up-to-snuff.

        Reply
          1. Katiebird

            Well, I am sick of the people on my side of the issue being incompetent. And sometimes wonder how it can be possible that they so often are.

            Reply
            1. Darius

              According to Caro, LBJ held liberals in contempt because they never recognized the importance of this stuff.

              Reply
            2. JBird4049

              It’s because they’re competent playing as actors in a Kabuki theater. It works wonderfully as a distraction while the true business of looting is being done.

              When the PMC/political class actually want to do something other than engage in looting, they can’t because they don’t have the skills of the political class of 50 years ago.

              Reply
  6. Janie

    The drop in vaccination rates and screenings is concerning. Riffing off morning outdoor schooling link, outdoor clinics might help. A canopy plus a once-a-week schedule: well baby checkup day, innoculation day, INR and glucose monitoring and so on. Some blood draws could be drive through.

    In Cuba and China, health care workers come to homes.

    Reply
  7. Glen

    So I didn’t see it mentioned but thought I should add:

    The US Senate has gone on vacation because apparently everything is going just fine.

    I suppose it is for them, but even I expected Mitch to throw some sort of red meat out there for us poors.

    And it’s not like I’m going to say the Democrats are doing anything useful. The complete failure at the Federal government level is mind boggling. Please vote them all out.

    Reply
    1. Geo

      “Please vote them all out.”

      Yes. This needs to happen. That they could go on recess while millions are now being thrown to the wolves is pure evil as Erich Fromm defined it: “Evil is life turning against itself.”

      Reply
      1. GF

        Hey, most are up for re-election so they need to campaign from their bedrooms via zoom rather that from their offices via zoom. Much more convenient. Oh, I forgot, they aren’t allowed to ask for bribes, from their offices.

        Reply
    2. JBird4049

      Yeah, I posted a rant/comment on that on the Thomas Frank post. Unfrickingbelievable.

      I guess possibly ⅓ the country, or around a hundred million Americans, facing unemployment, hunger, and homelessness with who knows how many are, or will be, become sick from COVID19.

      (I just reread the previous paragraph for editing and the seriousness of our society’s immediate crisis and the fecklessness of our “leadership” as just… something horrible punched me in the stomach.)

      Reply
      1. HotFlash

        I think I must be saying this once or twice a week. The potato blight was across Britain and Europe. It was only a Potato Famine in Ireland, due to (racist*) government policy.

        *racist. Some well-educated Englishmen, of impeccable education, taste, and breeding, referred to the Irish as ‘white chimpanzees”. Clue: it ain’t race, it’s class.

        Reply
  8. Lou Anton

    While we Antons might not be reflective of all parents, we didn’t even know our kids were due. Once physicals switch to once a year, booster shots are something you learn are needed right at the end of the physical (much to kids’ dismay!)

    Reply
  9. Wukchumni

    LA: “LA Mayor Urges ‘Extreme Caution’ (Men Especially) To Fight COVID-19 Spread”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    How odd that LA men dominate the action, they’re usually not that into commitment.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      One of my Tucson friends is in LA for the summer. I think I’ve mentioned her before. She was tested for COVID-19 back in March and had to wait nine days for results. I think that she’s still quite traumatized by the experience.

      Any-hoo, you won’t see her in any SoCal grocery stores. She has everything delivered. And, on those occasions when she ventures out to the beach, she wears a mask and a face shield.

      Reply
  10. a different chris

    >Imagine the timeline if Democrats had supported hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public after the 2000 debacle.

    and a massive number of polling places and the day off to vote….I mean how would the Rethugs even argue against “more polling places”, let alone a day off?

    They of course don’t do it because they like things just the way they are.

    Reply
    1. John k

      Which is why Obama’s speech is such Blatant bs… he didn’t do any one of the things when he could, so he did not then want to do them… why would anybody think he wants to do them now?

      Reply
    2. HotFlash

      and a massive number of polling places and the day off to vote….I mean how would the Rethugs even argue against “more polling places”, let alone a day off?

      Jeez, where to begin. I live in Toronto, Canada. Most of our polling places are in schools, some in churches, some in apartment blocks. All the ones here (centre city, dense population) are in easy walking distance, even if you use a scooter or walker. It is not a paid day off, but employers are *required* to give employees 3 consecutive hours to vote. Since polls are open for 12 hours, that is usually enough to get the thing done, plus there are many early voting alternatives.

      The polls are staffed by *government paid* poll workers, not volunteers. It’s considered a good PT gig, if you are retired or on disability. Our ballots are paper, hand-marked, and *mostly* counted in public, although our city govt went to optical scanners a few years back. There is some pushback (not enough IMNSHO) but pretty sure we will get there once the things reach their expiry date.

      I do not understand why Patriots(tm) in the Land of The Free(tm) are effectively fine with black-box machines, black-box tabulators, black-box reporting systems, and HOA’s — the last one is totally weird, the Sons of Liberty kowtowing to a bunch of people who tell them what to plant in their front yards? Do. Not. Get. That. At. All.

      They of course don’t do it because they like things just the way they are.

      Yup.

      Reply
  11. Morgan Everett

    Dreher is a religious and social conservative, so his definition of radical is going to be a lot different than yours (I’m not sure I ever recall him talking about economics at all, or foreign policy much either for that matter). The country heading left on social issues, and right on economics is how the neat trick was pulled off where the right and left were simultaneously both convinced that the country was getting dramatically worse.

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      Wokeness is actually kinda right-wing. It’s individual-focused at the receiving end of the process but, like everything else neoliberal, seeks to put the system itself beyond the ability of its constituents to question, by mislabeling conscious, deliberate policy decisions as natural forces that must be either complied with or vigorously resisted, whatever makes the boss’s job easier. Just like every abusive parent and “consequences”.

      Reply
      1. occasional anonymous

        Identity politics is completely right-wing. It reduces the individual to a series of commodities.

        Reply
    2. JBird4049

      I’ve been reading him for years. Socially he is very conservative. No mistake on that. He is still is pro civil rights.

      The little he has talked about economics, he seems actually rather old style liberal economically when it comes to the looting of the PMC/Elites or politically on the all war all the time of the Elites; the whole rules for you, and not for me, as well as socialism for the rich, austerity for the poor is unacceptable.

      Actually, he looks like the classic liberal of the 1960s before neoliberalism devoured it.

      Reply
    3. occasional anonymous

      Dreher is a very silly man.

      He’s also a kind of mirror of the social progressives that he fears so much. By focusing almost exclusively on social issues, he’s incapable of actually understanding what going on in this country.

      Reply
  12. hunkerdown

    Plato’s Guns proposed an interesting angle today, “America Chooses a New Mideast Policeman“. His basic premise is to observe the strange incident of the dog in the night-time: new players making big geopolitical moves, without any objection from the US imperial machinery. Specifically, he proposes that the US has taken Israel’s duties as MENA enforcer and is handing it over to Turkey, while Israel still gets to call the tune and consolidate “their” own land.

    Reply
  13. Leftcoastindie

    I had to have a Covid test for a procedure. The appointment was 2 days before the procedure and I got the result back the next day (negative). Funny thing is I go have the procedure and then 6 days later I get a call saying I need to quarantine because someone in the GI department who was there that day had the disease.
    A little late don’t you think. So much for contact tracing.

    Reply
    1. c_heale

      I had the same recently but in Korea. I had it the day before admission, and the results were back in 4 hours.

      Reply
  14. Dr. John Carpenter

    Trump (R)(1): just a note to Dreher, the more one knows about WWE style wrestling, the more one understands modern politics and specifically the Trump administration. It’s not a coincidence that Trump is in the WWE Hall of Fame.

    Reply
  15. BobWhite

    “These 45 Netgear routers can be hacked and will never be fixed — what to do now” …

    Personally, I have found DD-WRT easier to deal with than OpenWRT, you can find supported devices here:
    https://wiki.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Supported_Devices
    (a BIG list, so be sure you know what you have – version is important)

    It is not very difficult, if you CAREFULLY follow the directions for your model.
    As a bonus, you get some additional features and performance, as the firmware is not so bloated as stock versions.

    If you want to replace the router, go with a new ASUS… it has a good interface, including VPN support, USB printing, and cell phone tethering, all built-in…

    Reply
    1. Jason Boxman

      I’ve been running OpenWRT on an ancient router for 6 years now, and it’s been great. I’m fearful it will die, and I won’t be able to find another $30 router that supports it.

      Reply
    2. Ranger Rick

      My WNR3500L is on the list, and boy is it unsupported by everything. Guess I’m shopping for a new router this weekend.

      Reply
      1. Acacia

        You might be in luck. Some versions of the WNR3500L appear to be supported by OpenWRT.

        I’ve been using OpenWRT on a Netgear router for many years now and it’s great! Since the clunky dawn of home networking, I’ve maybe ten different routers and they always ended up failing in various ways. Apple in particular seem to just burn out.

        But all of that was before I tried OpenWRT, which has been totally worth the minor fuss to download and install.

        Reply
  16. Jim Thomson

    OK, Michelle, knock me down with a feather. I just did not know that we used to have a health care system that took care of you when you lost your job.
    Too bad we lost that…… (when, in 2016?)

    Reply
  17. Pelham

    Re the Democrats’ concern about chaotic election turnout: Perhaps they should take up Trump on his suggestion of an election delay.

    OTOH, maybe Trump put that out there to make the idea radioactive to Democrats.

    Reply
  18. cnchal

    Re – UPS

    . . . That means focusing on improving margins in a tumultuous market that has seen huge volumes of packages flood its delivery network, significantly raising costs. Residential deliveries soared 65% last quarter but profit margins narrowed sharply, a sign of how UPS and its retail customers are still adjusting to the consumer pivot. . . ”

    It turns out that the smartest move in the shipping business is FedEx firing Amazon. UPS and USPS handle the returns for Amazon for a peanut per return, and 30% of Amazon sales are returned, which is ridiculous beyond any sort of reason and a gigantic waste of resources

    The guy that owns / runs the UPS store tells me that as a group they hate Amazon. Pushy beyond belief, arrogant and demanding while paying practically nothing.

    Both UPS and USPS should get off their idiot sticks and fire Amazon immediately. Then they would be able to lower prices for the peasants that are independent sellers that do not sell through any platform, lighten their workload and improve margins.

    A side benefit would be Amazon sellers abandoning the Amazon slaughterhouse and going independent, attracting moar customers. In the past Amazon negotiated prices with UPS that were so low that UPS raised prices on everyone else to make up for the Amazon generated losses, and drove independent sellers into Bezos’ horror show. How phucking stupid was UPS management to do that?

    It’s idiotic to churn over a million bucks to net three, but that’s the result when you do business with the ugly beast.

    Characterizing Amazon as a predator is a grave insult to predators. When a predator goes in for the kill, it takes one and leaves the rest alone, to take the next one when hungry. That isn’t what Amazon does. It kills all the rabbits in the field, takes what it wants and leaves the remaining carcasses to rot.

    rabbit = Amazon seller, in case you need it spelled out.

    Reply
    1. TheHoarseWhisperer

      Can you substantiate the 30% return rate? While I can easily see anecdotal evidence about it, I have a very hard time believing that an average across the business is nearly close to this.

      Reply
  19. Swamp Yankee

    Matt Karp is a great historian. Interestingly enough, Weymouth Landing, Massachusetts, where the pictured anti-slavery meeting in the article is taking place, is home to a present-day environmental justice controversy:

    The Powers that Be here in the Bay Commonwealth, along with Pennsylvania frackers, are eager to build a compressor station on the Weymouth waterfront (where the Fore River meets Boston Harbor) so natural gas can be liquefied and sent to Europe for export. This project, and the pipelines that support it, are sold to us as “lowering energy prices for New England” — and yet it is explicitly about exporting that very gas onto world markets! The brazenness of it is staggering.

    And it seems they’re getting away with it. Despite not even having a permit, construction began this winter and continued _throughout the pandemic_! Our Governor, Charlie Baker (R-HMOs) and Weymouth Mayor Bob Hedlund (R), formerly my State Senator, both seem to want the compressor built. A BU (I think) professor went on a hunger strike over it recently, to little avail, it seems.

    And of course, the neighborhood it’s being built in is disproportionately poor and/or racial minority. We won’t see Gov. Baker putting one in his tony Swampscott neighborhood. It’s for “those people”. And they’re already venting gas in the area!

    Sorry for any thread-jacking, just thought I’d share this info with the ever-wonderful NC commentariat.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      A bit mind blowing that they can spend millions in construction without a permit first. The beauty of that is that in case a legal challenge spikes the project, that the Governor and Mayor will charge all costs to the State taxpayers.

      Reply
  20. Gary

    My wife has been getting Chinese seeds all year. She planted some nice lavender but has pulled it up. Most of the other seeds she did not remember ordering and they were not marked, They did not get planted mostly because she is not that great a gardener. She never had the time before she was furloughed. She is a corporate travel agent. She has been all her life. She does not expect it to come back so her career is over.
    Wish is probably where she first ordered seeds. She doesn’t remember ordering the others but that does not mean she did not.
    No triffids spotted as of yet. It is 2020 though…

    Reply
  21. chuck roast

    What happened to John Authers? He used to be an interesting read. And here (Private Equity Looters?…) he is happy to summarize a report from “The Committee on Capital Markets” led by yet another fellow who continues to demonstrate the post-modern rule that “there is no success like failure.” And here, lest you forget this little utube jewel, is the Committee’s co-chair:
    the one and only Glenn Hubbard.

    From the pink paper to Bloomberg…next stop: The Akron Beacon. Authers has either lost his mind or he needs to get off the golf course and do some actual journalism. Probably he is confusing journalism with stenography. He closes with this tid-bit: “In Europe, where inefficiently run companies tend to be easier to find than in the U.S., it looks as though the industry’s bad image is undeserved.”

    Reply
  22. Arizona Slim

    Slim returns from the mailbox with something so rich in irony that I just have to share it with you.

    It’s a letter from Nancy Pelosi her own self. On the envelope, it notes that she isn’t backing down. (From ice cream? Stored in $12k freezers?)

    Any-hoo, I open the letter and find that it’s a fundraising appeal from the DCCC! And it has a survey too!

    Among other things, the survey asked if I supported ACCESS to health care for all Americans. My response? “Access. There’s that word again.”

    I also had some choice things to say about their ardent desire to keep defending Obamacare from those evil Republicans. In addition, I advised the D(umb) party to stop obsessing over Trump and offer the American people the policies they want. Y’know, like Medicare for All. I put a plug in for that one. Overwhelmingly supported, last time I checked.

    My donation? Nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada.

    I asked them to take my name off their list. And then I put all of my snarkiness back into their post paid envelope.

    Ahhhhhh.

    Reply
    1. Gary

      AZ Slim. Well I hope it made you feel better. I am sure you already know a human being will never see your bait & switch survey. I worked for a televangelist and we used a bulk remittance machine that processed donation envelopes at about 300 per minute. It opened the letter, pulled out the contents, separated anything that looks like money or a check and routed those down a different conveyor. The duds were shredded and headed to the land fill. Next time slip in something that looks like a check or a ruble of something. It won’t help but it will at least route it to some poor working person to eye ball for a few seconds.

      Reply
      1. urblintz

        or attach the post paid envelope to a box full of… well, whatever, as long as it’s heavy and will cost them a lot on postage (or so I’ve been told, never tried it myself and have finally dropped off their list so I don’t get the letters anymore)

        if it works it, hits ’em where it hurts…

        Reply
        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I usually just send two pennies face down and upside down but if the postage paid works on a package GREAT! They wouldn’t be that heavy but I like the idea of sending a box of hungry fleas.

          Reply
        2. HotFlash

          Here in Canada, mail to one’s Member of Parliament is post-paid. Disgruntled citizens wrap bricks in brown paper and send them to their representative in Ottawa (our capitol).

          I believe it is illegal to send road kill via mail in Canada, but it may be OK in the US. Someone should check.

          Reply
      2. Massinissa

        “Or a ruble of something”

        Yeah, throw in a single ruble! That’s worth about 1 us cent! If a few dozen people send a ruble the Republicans can claim The Russians are trying to buy off Nancy!

        /s

        Reply
        1. urblintz

          … and tell ’em you’re gonna write in “Vladimir Putin” for POTUS!

          When I was getting those in 2016 one of the questions was “Which Republican candidate will be the hardest to defeat?” I always answered “Hillary Clinton”

          I’m crushed to know no one ever read that but still…

          Reply
    2. Jason Boxman

      Oh! Oh! I got that one too a few weeks ago!

      I thought about sending my thoughts back, but decided to toss it instead.

      Good for you, though!

      Reply
      1. wuzzy

        I got a call from my local D office. They asked one question and asked if I wanted an absentee ballot application. They wanted my address, and for some reason I gave it to them. The application came in a hand addressed (!!) envelope with a stamp on it.

        The Pelosi letter? Ignored.

        Reply
  23. chuck roast

    RE: UI benefits, if your case is still pending…

    Kind of like my Fed income taxes which I filed in mid-March looking for my refund to pay a couple of months rent. Still pending…

    Reply
    1. LifelongLib

      Yup, mine too. Supposedly outside of IRS centers there are trailers full of returns waiting for processing…

      Reply
  24. Mo's Bike Shop

    None of our local reopening powerpoints plans has any sort of metrics. Something like, ‘we expect x number of new infections a week, if it passes y we implement restrictions, if it drops to z we can open more.’ How long until everyone can wrap their brains around the idea that this is happening now and isn’t theoretical?

    Reply
  25. Jason Boxman

    lol

    Remember when graduate loan interest rates went up under Obama, after he canceled the private student loan industry? (I sure do!) And it’s particularly egregious because, wait for it, the Federal government doesn’t need revenue to fund spending.

    These people are monsters.

    But obviously more education is the answer to all of society’s ills. (I guess it is for the elite, but then they get into the right schools and have the right peer groups.)

    Reply
  26. Jeff W

    So, even if the bloodstream isn’t full of antibodies, the body retains the recipes for them. That is extremely cool.

    The induction of “a robust repertoire of anti-coronavirus memory B cells and memory T cells,” flagged by Dean in the Links over two weeks ago, as a “more important issue than antibody titers” themselves. Credit where credit is due.

    (Here’s a fairly easy-to-understand explanation of the functional difference between memory B cells and memory T cells.)

    Reply
  27. Michael

    Just a comment on the Covid-19 stats from Johns Hopkins. Looking at the stats for Florida, while new Infections are down, so is their testing. The number of tests has dropped from a peak of ~65K to ~52K. Lies, D*mn Lies, and Statistics!

    Reply
  28. stefan

    Finally got a chance to read the excellent Adam Tooze piece in 30 July 2020 London Review of Books. A trenchant bit:

    There are plenty of historical examples of external crisis being used in this way in the US, from Alexander Hamilton to Roosevelt to Reagan. But to infer that any international crisis affords such an opportunity is to put the cart before the horse. The progressive potential of such a moment depends on whether or not there are countervailing institutions that can channel its energies in the direction of reform. In the mid 20th century that meant organised labour and the institutions of grassroots democratic politics. Those are massively weakened today. The current situation is encapsulated in the fact that multi-billion-dollar packages to fund a military-industrial confrontation with China are passing through Congress at the same time as the Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, openly floats the idea of states and cities filing for bankruptcy if they are unable to meet the costs of Covid-19. Among the most active sponsors of anti-China legislation is Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who on 3 June in the New York Times called for the US army to be deployed on the streets of America’s cities to repress the Black Lives Matter protests. As the president and his secretary of defence discussed dominating the ‘battle zone’ of Washington DC, America was saved from the disaster of a military deployment in its own capital only by opposition from the generals. In circumstances like this, the idea of using a great power confrontation to leverage domestic reform risks further ratcheting up the militarisation of policy and politics.

    Reply
  29. The Rev Kev

    ‘Barack and Michelle Obama suggest young people don’t vote because they’re selfish and ‘know more about the cereal they’re eating’ than how government works.’

    Man, the gall of that couple. They did nothing good while in power and then criticize people when they don’t engage at all in the type of government that they ran. Maybe the Obamas hate Millennials as well as old Joe. Do they have any empathy for them? Do they want a break when told how the younger generation now tells them how tough things are? Does he think that he changed the world?

    The Obamas got people fired up about hope and change but did nothing but protect bankers, start foreign wars as well as start Cold War Two with the Russians and put the boot in so hard to the young and the poor that an idiot like Trump suddenly becomes a viable choice. Maggie Thatcher always claimed that Tony Blair was her legacy but it seems that the Obamas are not willing to think that Trump’s America is theirs.

    Towards the end of their reign I began to think of Barack and Michelle as a bad-cop/good-cop combination but it seems that I was wrong. They are both bad cops.

    Reply
    1. Massinissa

      Maggie was fine with Blair, and so was everyone really, because like Obama or Bill Clinton he spoke well on TV and looked ‘presidential’. Trump on the other hand talks like an eight year old, eats McDonalds, is terribly rude to just about everyone, and is inexplicably orange. Liberals and Never Trumpers don’t dislike Trump over anything he has done, but rather dislike his lack of manners, elocution and decorum.

      I for one am glad Trump is at least forthright when he sticks the shiv into the gut. More than I can say about many liberals.

      Reply
      1. urblintz

        I really hate saying this. because I agree with your description of the Trumpster, but seeing him just after Biden’s recent press conference… well… Trump looked much the healthier of the two. Mostly because Biden looks terrible, his face pale and mottled. Trump, who has exchanged the orange for POTUS grey, btw, was tanned and surprisingly relaxed for someone being put through the media ringer. That’s not an endorsement, not at ALL, just an observation. Maybe it was the porcine maquillage…

        Reply
  30. VietnamVet

    The one election Presidents in my lifetime all had foreign disasters; Truman – Korea, Kennedy – Bay of Pigs, LBJ-Vietnam, Ford – Fall of Saigon, Carter – Desert One Debacle, and Bush I – Saddam Hussein staying in power. Donald Trump is different. No new wars. What he has accomplished is the worst domestic crisis since the American Civil War – a Pandemic and an Economic Depression at the same time. The tragedy today is that there is no Abraham Lincoln or third party. Joe Biden will not, and Donald Trump cannot address the cause. The failure of the US federal government. American citizens are dying in order that multinational corporations can make more money.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Kennedy may not belong in that analysis. The only reason Kennedy didn’t run for Term Two was that he was assassinated. In a Kennedy vs. Goldwater election, should I have any reason to think Goldwater might have won?

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Goldwater was against the New Deal, sparked the resurgence of the American conservative political movement in the 1960s and wanted more confrontation with the Soviet Union – and for tactical nukes to be used in Vietnam. No wonder Hillary became a “Goldwater Girl” at the time. When people show you who they are…

        Reply
      2. VietnamVet

        True. John F. Kennedy is a special case. But the Bay of Pigs led to his distrust of the CIA and led to his ignoring military advice to bomb Cuba which would have ignited World War III since the Soviet intermediate nuclear ballistic missiles were armed and ready to fire. He and Khrushchev afterwards tried to reach agreement to lower the risks of a nuclear apocalypse. Today it is more dangerous than then.

        Presidents who avoid or end a war (Kennedy and Nixon and perhaps Donald Trump) don’t serve eight years. I am becoming certain that global elite are using the pandemic to finally get rid of Donald Trump. The American deaths, the economic damage and the failure of the federal government don’t matter to the 0.1% globalists in order to get a totally compliant government once again like the Obama Administration.

        Reply
    2. John Anthony La Pietra

      There are lots of third parties. Two of them (Greens and Libertarians) will have access for their Presidential tickets to enough ballots to be Constitutionally able to win, and a third (the Constitution Party) may as well unless more state parties decide to run a separate ticket.

      Now, I’m sure the whole commentariat knows you need 270 electoral votes to win outright. You may not all have considered that even 134 EC votes guarantees you no worse than a tie for third (only two others can get 135 or more). And the House of Representatives gets to choose its Presidential winner from (up to) the top three EC vote-getters.

      I expect the commentariat also remembers having seen posts, memes, etc. point out that many more eligible voters voted for nobody in 2016 than for either of the Big Two. This reflects the same propagandized/indoctrinated resistant passivity as the consistent poll finding that many more US voters identify themselves with neither Ds nor Rs than with either . . . and have done so for the vast majority of the past 16 years.

      The tragedy is that we the 100+ millions have not come or been brought together to realize our power.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The first step for the 100+ millions to realize that they may have some organizable and usable power would for the 100+ millions to all discover that they all exist.

        One way to do that might be for all 100+ millions to actually come out and vote for . . . nobody. Actually take the time to register to vote, come out to vote, and cast blank ballots. That way, they could not be spun out of existence so easily.

        If a hundred million people saw a hundred million people all voting Blank Ballot Means No, they would become aware of eachothers’ existence. And then maybe they might become heartened enough to see if they could translate that existence and that awareness of it into power.

        Reply
  31. Mucho

    On the Obama clip: what strikes me is that Michelle bemoans that the president has no marketing budget for government. It makes me think they see this as a marketing problem.. not one of (substantial) policy failure.

    Reply

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