2:00PM Water Cooler 7/7/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I hope your Fourth of July holiday was enjoyable — even if it did end on Monday morning, and not, as I thought, on Tuesday! I am not very holiday minded. –lambert


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

And stop flapping your jaws, Red State h8terz, because California is tracking Texas very nicely.

Memento mori:

“N.Y., N.J. and Connecticut Add Three States to 14-Day Quarantine” [Bloomberg]. “The full list of states subject to the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut advisory is: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. ‘New Yorkers did the impossible – we went from the worst infection rate in the United States to one of the best – and the last thing we need is to see another spike of Covid-19,’ Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday in a statement.” • Cuomo has such chutzpah.


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

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

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

The electoral map. As of July 2: Still no change. So, regardless of polling, the consensus (aggregating ten organizations) remains the same. And a Biden 10 point lead means a swing of five flips the race. Of course, that can’t happen….

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

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


Biden (D)(1): “Biden builds lead as Trump goes from trailing to flailing” [Politico]. Cutesy alliterative headline from the Editor; the URL gave a quite different slant: “biden-polling-lose-to-trump.” And the second paragraph: “But there are still four months before the election — and any number of ways for Biden to blow it.” No bias here! More: “Biden’s polling lead over Trump is significant, but not unprecedented. The RealClearPolitics polling average has Biden running ahead of Trump by just less than 9 percentage points.” • As I keep saying, that’s only a five point shift, and that’s before we consider swing states. This is mere Democrat triumphalism in the dog days of summer. Wake after Labor Day.

Sanders (D)(1): “What Went Wrong for Bernie Sanders?” [Ross Barkan]. “I’ve had campaign operatives try to spin me and tried to spin reporters myself. If the left is to win the future and back a candidate who seizes the Democratic nomination and eventually the presidency, it will mean practicing an inside-outside strategy to traditional media with the same sort of vigor it already channels toward field organizing. Mastering Chomsky, while important, will not win you an election in the 2020’s. Here’s the cold truth: most journalists and even their bosses aren’t mere automatons for oligarchs. They are largely culturally left people on the hunt for sexy angles to drive pageviews and ratings. They are human beings who react best when engaged with—courted, worked over, and even flattered.” • Hmm.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(3): “We Worked on the Bernie Campaign — More Democracy Would’ve Made It More Effective” [Jacobin]. From three former Bernie Sanders field organizers: “[O]ur defeat can also be attributed to two major internal failures: an overreliance on the distributed model of organizing, and the lack of a system to maintain accountability, transparency, and feedback from staff on the ground to upper management…. The organizing program on the Bernie campaign was fundamentally a battle between two competing organizing philosophies. One is a deep organizing model that focuses on investing in field staff and community building. The other model, known as distributed organizing, places the work of organizing almost entirely on volunteers… In Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and California, the campaign invested heavily in deep organizing. That investment paid off. Campaign management acted as though the momentum of winning Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and California would be sufficient to carry us to the nomination. This strategy drastically underestimated the combined influence of corporate media and power brokers…. Downsizing the field program and failing to listen to lower-ranking staff was a massive error implemented by those at the top. Had management been willing to pivot strategy and take advice from those on the ground, these mistakes may have been avoided.” • This is very thoughtful and interesting. I think it illustrates the contradiction between a campaign (by definition, temporary) and a movement (permanent, hopefully).

UPDATE Trump (R)(1): “Republican internal polling signals a Democratic rout” [Harry Enten, CNN]. “Right now, Democrats and liberal groups are releasing a lot more surveys than Republicans, which suggests the public polling showing Democrats doing well is backed up by what the parties are seeing in their own numbers.” • Republican pollsters not barking in the night is a better sign for Democrats than the triumphalist nonsense.

UPDATE Trump (R)(2): “Coronavirus is surging in Florida — and so is anxiety over Trump’s chances with senior voters” [CNN]. “John Dudley [(77)], a retired banker, proudly cast his ballot for Donald Trump in 2016, excited at the prospect of sending an entrepreneur to the White House on a pledge to change Washington. It’s a vote he regrets, he said, and a mistake he hopes to correct in November.

‘He blew it,’ Dudley said, not mincing words as he assessed Trump’s first term. ‘We were so excited in the beginning. A businessman to run our country like a business and it hasn’t happened.'” • Lol. Trump is running the country like a business! If your business is, say, Boeing. Or Uber. More: “For Trump, there is virtually no path to reelection without winning Florida, a state where seniors have outsized influence. The key battleground states of Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin also have large elderly populations, which has top Republicans sounding the alarm about the erosion of support among older voters. ‘It wasn’t going to be easy anyway, but coronavirus has turned this into a perfect storm,’ a senior Republican told CNN, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss growing concern over the prospect of losing a significant share of older voters. ‘We can’t win if we lose seniors.’

The fight for the critical senior vote is playing out as a contest among peers, with Trump, 74, and Biden, 77, steadily escalating their campaigns against one another.” • Wait ’til Trump asks Biden to draw a clock, an hour into a debate….

Trump (R)(3): “Trump second-term plans remain a mystery to GOP” [The Hill]. “The lack of an agenda just four months ahead of Election Day sparked a shower of criticisms and left GOP lawmakers shaking their heads.”

West (I)(1): “Kanye West declares he will run for US president in 2020” [Guardian]. “Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any weirder, rapper Kanye West declared his candidacy for US president…. Nor was it clear whether the 43-year-old had filed any official paperwork to appear on state election ballots. The deadline to add independent candidates to the ballot has not yet passed in many states….. If he ran, West would follow in a long tradition of independent or third-party campaigns challenging the Democratic and Republican stranglehold. In 1992, Ross Perot, an eccentric Texan billionaire, took 19% of the vote.” • I’m skeptical until I see West on some ballots somewhere. Until then, he’s just doing celebrity marketing. Nevertheless!

West (I)(2): “kanye for president” [Reading the Tarot (DG)]. “For years, we have been in essence functioning without a government. Our president issues some insane edict and we all have to find ways to survive it. Our local governments give free reign to police unions and property developers, and we have to find a way to survive their decisions….. Maybe it would help, then, to make it official and abolish the presidency. Or not abolish it, exactly. Just remove all of the office’s powers. We need a place to store our megalomaniacs, after all…. It’ll be ceremonial, like the Queen of England. And like the Queen, we’ll let Kanye wear a nice hat and we’ll pretend we care about the goings-on of his children and he’ll go to other countries to have his photo taken with other world leaders and we’ll let him sit in the best seats at polo games and so on.” • This will only work after we’ve put the squillionaires on their own island.

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“Chelsea Manning’s Jailer Is Running For Congress — As A Democrat” [Too Much Information (NippersMom)]. “James Averhart, who is competing in a July 14 run-off election for an Alabama congressional seat, also oversaw a Bush-era military push to track down and punish veterans who deserted the Vietnam War — an initiative seen as an attempt to discourage soldiers from deserting during the Iraq War…. In the Alabama race, Averhart became a candidate after overseeing the brig at Quantico, Va., where Manning was held between July 2010 and April 2011…. ‘Averhart and his successor rejected psychiatrists’ nearly weekly recommendations to ease the restrictions that kept Manning in an 8-by-6-foot cell at least 23 hours a day,’ the Associated Press wrote in 2012.” • That’s a damn shame. That Averhart isn’t a [x] woman, I mean.

Our Famously Free Press

UPDATE “America Needs Some Repairs. Here’s Where to Start.” [Editorial Board, New York Times]. “How to Make America Fairer and More Resilient: A Checklist.” • Nothing on health care in the checklist. Not even the so-called public option! Holy moley, are these people detached or what?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Lincoln Project capitalizes on Trump’s rage as its spending comes under scrutiny” [Open Secrets]. From May, still germane: “The Republican super PAC has amassed a substantial war chest, but it has come under scrutiny for funneling money to its advisory board members and spending relatively little airing political ads to influence voters. The group also hides some of its vendors by stealthily paying subcontractors, making it difficult to follow the money.” • Bitcofer seems to think highly of it….

UPDATE “To the World, We’re Now America the Racist and Pitiful” [New Yorker]. “The sorry state of America’s political and physical health ripples across the globe. The United States, long the bedrock of the Western alliance, is less inspirational today—and perhaps will be even less so tomorrow. ‘The United States has traditionally had an ability to reinvent itself,’ Mark Leonard, the co-founder and director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, told me. ‘The brutality of the American political system—where entire élites get kicked out whenever there is a change of party at the top—has historically led to resilience. What you see now are structural problems much more difficult to solve.’ He added that inequality is so ‘deeply baked’—in education, property and the economy, job opportunities, gerrymandering of voting districts, policing and justice, and the media—that America is now a ‘toxic brew’ of problems. ‘That means there’s not much bandwidth in America for thinking about anything other than its culture wars,’ he said.” • “[W]here entire élites get kicked out”? Really?

UPDATE “Pan movements and the weakening of liberties” [Asia Times]. [For Nazi legal theorist Carl] Schmitt, the political is characterized by the friend-enemy relation. Those within my group are friends; those outside are enemies. Groups are perpetually at war or in preparation for war. Professor Steven Smith of Yale University notes that Schmitt is thinking in terms of politics in extreme situations. But with all the anger and violence, and groups rejecting integration within society, with growing numbers going so far as to hate those who accept the basic premises of the society, are we not at least entering an extreme phase?… Schmitt rejects liberal society in which differences can be ameliorated, and his view is more a return to a tribal structure where the safety of the group depends on its ability to defend itself. Many, including those in prominent positions, hate US President Donald Trump. Large numbers of people rejected his election and immediately began resistance. In a normal situation envisaged by liberal democracy, the losers would not have been happy, but they would not have been willing to ignore national well-being just to undermine the president. There are many substantive reasons to disagree with him, but today we see personal hatred. When pressed for reasons based on actual policy, nothing drastic is substantiated. If the essence of the political is friend and enemy, then the hatred is understandable: I hate my enemy.”

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.

Coincident Indicators: “07 July 2020 New York Fed Weekly Economic Index (WEI): Index Declined and Remains At Recession Levels” [Econintersect]. “The New York Fed’s Weekly Leading Index (WLI) declined and continues to show an economy that is significantly worse than seen during the Great Recession…. This data set should be considered a high-frequency coincident indicator on a par with the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index produced by the Philly Fed – and both show conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic are already worse than the Great Recession. However, the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index is improving whilst the WLI is still declining. Logic would say with the partial reopening of the economy – the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index seems to be correct.”

Employment Situation: “May 2020 Headline JOLTS Job Openings Rate Improved But Remains In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “The BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) can be used as a predictor of future job growth, and the predictive elements show that the year-over-year growth rate of unadjusted private non-farm job openings improved but remains in contraction…. The unadjusted data this month remained well below average for the rate of growth seen in the last year. With this low average rate of growth, JOLTS is predicting lower employment growth than we have seen over the past year. Jolts predicted the slowing of employment growth. However, the pandemic effects will drive this data.”

Housing: “May 2020 CoreLogic Home Prices: Home Prices Projected to Cool This Summer, Plunge 6.6% by May 2021” [Econintersect]. “CoreLogic’s Home Price Index (HPI) shows home prices increased by 4.8%, compared with May 2019. Home prices increased 0.7% in May 2020 compared with April of this year…. This is a rear view of home prices. Econintersect believes home prices will deteriorate as the year progresses as the knock-on effect of the coronavirus will grow. The worst-case will be a decline to Great Recession levels but the most likely scenario is a 10% decline roughly equal to the expected unemployment rate. Too much money is being removed from the economy due to the COVID restrictions and elevated unemployment.”

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Commodities: “A world-wide surge in oil prices is coming as output in the sector plummets. U.S. crude supply is falling at its quickest pace ever… easing a global oil glut as OPEC and its partners also reduce output at a record rate” [Wall Street Journal]. “Weekly U.S. output recently fell to 10.5 million barrels a day, down from a near-record 13 million barrels a day in March. Turmoil is still rippling through the U.S. sector, and many investors still expect a wave of bankruptcies and deals that overhauls the U.S. energy landscape. Tanker operators have warned about a falloff even as they continue to book vessels for floating storage. Lloyd’s List Intelligence reports ships storing oil at sea reached a new record the week ending July 3.”

Retail: “Protective facemasks are giving one e-commerce operator a boost in the push for new online customers. Sales of the gear aimed at protecting users from the coronavirus have soared at crafts specialist Etsy Inc….” [Wall Street Journal]. “The company’s response to the pandemic demonstrates Etsy’s nimble approach to the market, highlighting a strategy that mobilizes third-party sellers without giving the company the inventory headaches that have troubled most retailers. That agility has proven to be a key advantage as competitors have been hamstrung by supply-chain constraints, warehouse closures and manufacturing and shipping delays. The company said it sold 12 million masks in April, 17% of its total gross market sales that month, even as the broader retail market sank.” • Remarkable.

The Bezzle: “Consolidation in the food-delivery sector is accelerating as the competition turns into a nationwide fight for customers. The Uber Technologies Inc. $2.65 billion acquisition of rival Postmates Inc. sets up Uber Eats as one of the top players in the market… and signals that the big operators believe home delivery of food and groceries will remain a big factor in consumer shopping” [Wall Street Journal]. “The all-stock deal would create the second-largest restaurant delivery service in the U.S., following DoorDash Inc. and ahead of Grubhub Inc. Uber is also betting it will expand the company’s identity and bring new customers to its ride-sharing. That provides a compelling financial case while food-delivery operations still face big logistics and profit challenges as standalone businesses.” • Oh?

UPDATE The Bezzle: “Driver Using “Autopilot” Technology Criminally Charged After Collision” [Jonathan Turley]. “A driver reportedly relying on the “Autopilot” function of a vehicle was cited for driving with criminal negligence after his passenger car struck a legally standing police patrol car. Though anecdotal, I believe this incident demonstrates what I believe to be a legal fatal flaw in the foundational concept for vehicles equipped with autonomous navigation and driving technology–that they can cause either the “driver” or vehicle owner into criminal liability for essentially the passive act of allowing the car control over the journey.” • Ouch. To make robot cars work, we will not not only to re-engineer the physical environment, but the legal environment as well.

UPDATE Tech: “Barclays Bank appeared to be using the Wayback Machine as a ‘CDN’ for some Javascript” [The Register]. “If web.archive.org went down, it would presumably break Barclays’ website as well. Worse, if someone managed to change the JS file at that URL, they could inject … well, whatever they liked.” • One for Clive!

UPDATE Tech: “YouTube’s Alleged Blocking of Black Creators’ Content is “Overt, Intentional & Systematic Racism,” Per New Suit” [The Fashion Law]. “According to their June 16 complaint, Kimberly Carleste Newman, Lisa Cabrera, Catherine Jones, and Denotra Nicole Lewis (the ‘plaintiffs’) assert that YouTube and its owners – who are ‘members of the largest business enterprise, private or public, in the world’ – have carried out a scheme of ‘overt, intentional, and systematic racial discrimination’ to ‘rig the game [and] use their power to restrict and block the plaintiffs … based on racial identity or viewpoint discrimination for profit.’ In short, the plaintiffs argue in their 239-page filing that YouTube and its parents – which maintain ‘complete, absolute, and ‘unfettered’ control over access to approximately 95 percent of all video content that is available to the public’ – have ‘knowingly, intentionally, and systematically employed artificial intelligence, algorithms, computer and machine-based filtering and review tools to ‘target’ the plaintiffs and all other persons similarly situated’ based on their race.” • Hmm…

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 50 Neutral (previous close: 51 Neutral;) [CNN]. One week ago: 47 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 7 at 12:15pm. Mr. Market is about as exciting as a television tuned to a dead channel.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Unemployment. “After months of negative news, unemployment data has turned positive” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 184. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing. The Rapture crowd believes in a V-shaped recovery? Really?

The Biosphere

UPDATE “‘Zombie Fires’ in the Arctic Pump Out Carbon at Record Pace” [Bloomberg]. “Arctic fires emitted 16.3 million metric tons of carbon — or about 60 million metric tons of carbon dioxide — in June. That’s the highest since at least 2003 and almost nine times more than the same month in 2018, according to data from Europe’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service…. The Arctic region is heating twice as fast as the rest of the world, leading to sea ice melting faster than scientists forecast. The warm air spreading from Siberia across the Arctic doesn’t directly cause wildfires, but coupled with low soil moisture levels and low precipitation, it can contribute to ripe conditions for fires to spread…. The fires typically burn through forests and peatlands in Siberia, a region that straddles across all of northern Russia and is home to the world’s largest forest. The dry vegetation on these vast plains can burn under the snowpack of winter and Copernicus data from May suggested that high temperatures were reigniting these ‘zombie fires.'”

UPDATE “Carbon pricing and the exit from fossil fuels” [Adam Tooze, Social Europe]. “Since time is not on our side, we need to preserve the maximum freedom of action. We should avoid, as far as possible, getting bogged down in politically damaging debates about the totemic policies of an earlier era—above all carbon pricing. Time is too short to cling to the neoliberal dogma that creating markets and setting prices is the high road to success in all cases. Carbon prices, whether set by emissions trading or carbon taxes, are unlikely to be enough…. In the urgent push for action we cannot however escape our history. Since the 1990s, carbon pricing has been at the core of European environmental policy. It retains committed elite support, including from influential voices in the German government, which will be directing European Union affairs for the next six months… Thanks to the coronavirus-induced recession, energy demand has collapsed. There would be every reason, therefore, to expect the system to have been swamped by a surplus of emission allowances, whose prices we should expect to fall. But instead, after an initial downward blip, prices for European carbon allowances have recovered to near their pre-crisis level, at around €25 per tonne. Combined with the collapse of natural-gas prices, we thus find ourselves at the fuel-switching point. At the current price for allowances and given the relative prices of gas and coal, the most efficient power plant burning coal cannot compete with the least efficient gas-fired plant. If sustained, this should spell the end for commercial coal-fired power in Europe. Gas is, at best, a transition fuel but ending coal would be a big win.” • Carbon pricing is above my paygrade. Readers?

UPDATE “The Stakes Of Losing This DICE Game Are Enormous” [Erik Kobayashi-Solomon, Medium]. “According to [so-called Nobelist William Nordhaus’s DICE model.] the global economy will suffer an aggregate drop in GDP (i.e., all-in over the next 130 years, not annually in perpetuity) of a few percentage points even assuming a temperature increase high enough to cause agricultural output to plummet. While Ivy League economists may not have a visceral sense of this, it is clear to your correspondent that large swathes of the workforce might be marginally less productive if they were only able to consume 500 food calories a day.” • Steve Keen on the DICE model:

According to Keen, DICE’s egregious errors are threefold:

  • The assumption that the small effects on GDP from the modest changes in global temperature to date can be extrapolated into a future of much more extreme temperature increases,
  • The assumption that a complex adaptive (i.e., non-linear) system like our planet’s ecosystem would respond to extreme stimuli in a linear way,
  • A dubious mischaracterization of climate scientists’ assessment of ecological “tipping points” that leads to an assumption these potentially catastrophic points will never be reached.

Health Care

“Months of Trial and Error in the ICU Offer Clues on How to Save Covid Patients” [Bloomberg]. “Faced with an unmanageable influx of coronavirus patients at Columbia University Irving Medical Center’s step-down unit, an intermediate care ward, Jelic made an unorthodox decision: she asked those struggling to breathe to roll onto their bellies while they waited for intubation to mechanically ventilate their inflamed lungs.” • It worked! I’m also sure we had an alert NC reader suggest just this, but I cannot find the comment. Whoever you are, take a bow! More: “In the absence of a cure, doctors like Jelic were left relying in part on trial and error, but months into the most destructive pandemic in a century, their collective experience is starting to build a framework of how best to cope with coronavirus patients… The collective experience may be showing results. U.S. deaths, which often ranged between 2,000 and 3,000 a day in April and May, have mostly remained below 1,000 and in the low hundreds since the beginning of June.” • Hopeful. It’s going to much easier to “live with” COVID-19 if it becomes a treatable disease (like AIDS).

“The Pandemic Experts Are Not Okay” [The Atlantic]. “Popescu is one of many public-health experts who have been preparing for and battling the pandemic since the start of the year. They’re not treating sick people, as doctors or nurses might be, but are instead advising policy makers, monitoring the pandemic’s movements, modeling its likely trajectory, and ensuring that hospitals are ready. By now they are used to sharing their knowledge with journalists, but they’re less accustomed to talking about themselves. Many of them told me that they feel duty-bound and grateful to be helping their country at a time when so many others are ill or unemployed. But they’re also very tired, and dispirited by America’s continued inability to control a virus that many other nations have brought to heel. As the pandemic once again intensifies, so too does their frustration and fatigue. America isn’t just facing a shortfall of testing kits, masks, or health-care workers. It is also looking at a drought of expertise, as the very people whose skills are sorely needed to handle the pandemic are on the verge of burning out.”

“Walmart to open Medicare insurance agency in the Dallas market” [Talk Business & Politics]. “Walmart is jumping into the insurance brokerage business under the business name Walmart Insurance Services LLC. The Bentonville-based retailer is in the process of hiring Medicare insurance agents in the Dallas area….. Kaiser Health reports nearly 20% of the U.S. population is covered by Medicare, and that is expected to rise sharply in the next five years in states like Texas, Florida and California that have the largest populations of adults over age 65. Medicare spending will top $835 billion this year and is expected to rise to $1.2 trillion in the next five years.”


“US rivers and lakes are shrinking for a surprising reason: cows” [Guardian]. “A recent analysis published in Nature found cattle to be one of the major drivers of water shortages. Notably, it is because of water used to grow crops that are fed to cows such as alfalfa and hay. Across the US, cattle-feed crops, which end up as beef and dairy products, account for 23% of all water consumption, according to the report. In the Colorado River Basin, it is over half.” • Absurd!


“Thursday’s Unemployment Report Made “The Case for a Job Guarantee” Imperative, Read This New Book” [Medium]. Pavlina Tcherneva, The Case for a Job Guarantee. “Tchervenva wrote her book before the Covid-19 Crisis produced the disastrous employment numbers shown above. During this crisis, the key question for tens of millions has been my job or my health? That has been an agonizing dilemma for precariat workers because they have no bargaining power, no savings, and often no health insurance. JG would help redress their lack of bargaining power, so that workers can do what’s right for them, their families, co-workers and communities. With JG, low-wage workers can stay home if they feel they need to, a public health measure to control Covid-19 could be part of their JG job, knowing that they can still get a living wage job with benefits, which they often don’t have, if their previous job is no longer available. It gives them some power and control over their lives that those with much higher income have right now. Even during an economic recovery, without JG many long-term unemployed will become ‘unemployable,’ a catch-22 the longer they remain without a job. JG would help prevent that outcome. Tcherneva uses the metaphor of joblessness as a deadly epidemic that must be prevented.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Both important:

“Reparations Are a Concrete Way to Address Systemic Racism and Inequality” [A. Kirsten Mullen and William A. Darity, Teen Vogue]. “As we say in From Here to Equality, some believe recompense should come from clearly identified perpetrators. But, as we write, when ‘the entire political order is complicit, it is not sufficient to bill individual perpetrators. Laissez-faire or ‘piecemeal reparations’ may assuage individual guilt but cannot meet the collective national obligation. The invoice for reparations must go to the nation’s government. The U.S. government, as the federal authority, bears responsibility for sanctioning, maintaining, and enabling slavery, legal segregation, and continued racial inequality.'”

“The Racial Wealth Gap Is About the Upper Classes” [Matt Bruenig, Jacobin]. “What this means is that the overall racial wealth disparity is being driven almost entirely by the disparity between the wealthiest 10 percent of white people and the wealthiest 10 percent of black people.” • Handy chart:

Even if Federal taxes don’t fund Federal spending, that’s no reason not to soak the rich.

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

“”Ghislaine, Is That You?”: Inside Ghislaine Maxwell’s Life on the Lam” [Vanity Fair]. “t was not the first time in her life Ghislaine Maxwell went to ground. Her process of disappearing began, really, on a dreadful day almost 30 years ago, with a dead body floating in the sea. Arms splayed out, face staring into the sky, enormous belly bobbing in the Atlantic just off the coast of Tenerife in the Canary Islands: That’s how Spanish police discovered the ‘naked, stiff, and floating’ corpse of the British media baron Robert Maxwell on November 5, 1991. A helicopter hovered overhead, lowering its cable and straining to recover the cadaver, which weighed 310 pounds.” Flash forward: “Ghislaine helped Jeffrey become who he became,’ says one of Epstein’s victims. ‘He had the money, but he didn’t know what to do with it. She showed him.'” • One of the reasons to confiscate inherited wealth is to protect squillionaires children from the impact of it. Robert Maxwell was not a nice person at all.

Guillotine Watch

Bad scholarship in — hold onto your hats, folks — mainstream economics:

Class Warfare

“‘They Want to Kill Me’: Many Covid Patients Have Terrifying Delirium” [New York Times]. • Of course they want to kill you; that’s what health care for profit does.

UPDATE “In the Covid-19 death of a hospital food worker, a microcosm of the pandemic” [STAT]. The epidemiological/social determinants of health nugget: “At Brigham Health, just 0.7% of doctors lived in the Boston area’s coronavirus hotspots, while 5% of nurses did. Among both environmental services and food workers, that proportion was above 40%. Geography, it seemed, might be a better explanation than job description. ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re working as a nurse, or a medical assistant, or in food services,” said Morris, the Brigham’s incident commander. ‘Living in certain areas of the city increases your risk.’ By June, the numbers would be even more convincing. The nurses who lived in hotspots had a 4.3% infection rate, while it was 2.3% for those whose addresses were elsewhere. Among food workers, 9.9% of hotspot residents had tested positive, while 3.2% of those from other ZIP codes had. For hospital employees, being on the front-most of the front lines wasn’t just about the patients you worked with, but also the zones in which you lived.” • This is so sad, a wonderful piece of writing, and well worth a read.

News of the Wired

Why I like cats:

Would a dog say that? I think not.

“The Glossary of Happiness” [The New Yorker]. From 2016, still germane: “Soon after [Tim] Lomas returned to the University of East London, where he is a lecturer in applied positive psychology, he launched the Positive Lexicography Project, an online glossary of untranslatable words… It is a veritable catalogue of life’s many joys, featuring terms like utepils (Norwegian, ‘a beer that is enjoyed outside . . . particularly on the first hot day of the year’), mbuki-mvuki (Swahili, ‘to shed clothes to dance uninhibited’), tarab (Arabic, ‘musically induced ecstasy or enchantment’), and gigil (Tagalog, ‘the irresistible urge to pinch/squeeze someone because they are loved or cherished’). In the course of compiling his lexicon, Lomas has noted several interesting patterns. A handful of Northern European languages, for instance, have terms that describe a sort of existential coziness. The words—koselig (Norwegian), mysa (Swedish), hygge (Danish), and gezellig (Dutch)—convey both physical and emotional comfort. ‘Does that relate to the fact that the climate is colder up there and you would value the sense of being warm and secure and cozy inside?’ Lomas asked. ‘Perhaps you can start to link culture to geography to climate. In contrast, more Southern European cultures have some words about being outside and strolling around and savoring the atmosphere. And those words”—like the French flâner and the Greek volta—’might be more likely to emerge in those cultures.'” • Readers, can you think of any American words to add to the lexixon? They have to be untranslatable!

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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 (RM):

RM writes: “Bee friendly to cactus.” Bee photos are a fun genre, but I have never seen a bee photographed in a cactus before!

Readers, I could still use some just a few more images of plants — especially garden projects!

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. Carolinian

      Taibbi not on the signatory list oddly enough. Is he a little too outside the box for this crew?

      You wonder how much they mean it or if this is just the old guard circling the wagons.

    2. HotFlash

      Interesting, thank you, tinheart. I don’t know what to make of it either. The words sound nice but that’s words for you. The names — what to make of David Brooks, Noam Chomsky, and Salman Rushdie all on, quite literally, the same page? Another name on the letter that bothers me is Donald Trump’s. I don’t vote in US elections, but I don’t think he’s done demonstrably worse than Mme Clinton would have. As I said back in 2015/6 — chaotic neutral vs lawful evil.

      1. Anonymous

        Demonstrably worse than Clinton would have…

        I think it would be rather difficult to demonstrate that, no?

        1. HotFlash

          Well, yeah, but in this construction, it’s Hillary who has to do the demonstrating.

    3. shinola

      Thanks for the link. A much needed plea for tolerance of diverse opinions (and a quick & easy read). A taste:

      “…But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity.”

      1. Harold

        It’s not “freedom for those who think differently”, so much as continued security for those whose careers depend on norms. Not that they too aren’t entitled to jobs and pensions.

        1. martell

          Perhaps I’ve misunderstood, but that sounds a good deal like a circumstantial ad hominem. Persons signing the letter assert that freedom of speech (among other principles of liberal political philosophy) ought to be defended and that recent actions on the part of some people who claim to be on the left (identitarians, it seems) undermine this freedom. The individuals who signed the letter imply that good arguments can be given for both claims and, as a matter of fact, the letter sketches those arguments. In response, you seem to be saying that they have a professional interest in maintaining freedom of speech. But this is logically irrelevant to the questions of whether their conclusions are true and their arguments sound (or cogent). Also, if you re-read the letter, you will find that they admit the very point you seem to be making: as writers, it is in their professional interest to defend freedom of speech. I imagine that they are explicit about this because they wish to get their colleagues (fellow writers) to “see reason.”

          In fairness, I guess that you might have been trying to make a different point. Maybe you are saying that they in fact do not wish to defend freedom of speech but only speech that is consistent with their own job security. But, of course, the letter does not say that, and so you are attributing to the persons signing the letter a position that they do not explicitly endorse. I believe that is called, in these parts, strawmanning. Also, Chomsky signed the letter. Or so it seems. So did Walzer. You really think that they only advocate free speech insofar as it is consistent with the aspirations of the petite bourgeoisie (or whatever other category of privileged person you like)? Were that true, that would be news to me. Is there evidence that supports this claim?

          1. hunkerdown

            It is absolutely possible, and today, maybe even usual that the same words have been crafted to send different messages to different portions of the audience. “Multi-level” communication pace Leo Strauss should be assumed whenever any person whose interests are middle-class or above is writing or speaking for public consumption.

          2. norms chomsky

            If you want to know what censorship really looks like, ask yourself who did and did not receive an invitation to sign the letter. Has cancel culture impacted even one ten-thousandth of the ideas, publications, tenures that have been impacted by wealth, connections, class?

            Where is the agonized letter of intellectuals and journalists ready to lift up and defend the speech of non-elites?

          3. Anarcissie

            The letter is speaking within and to the universe of bourgeois institutions. ‘Cancel culture’, which appears to be what it is talking about, is a quest for power. Quests for power are natural to the bourgeoisie as a whole in its relation to the social order as a whole, and they are also natural within bourgeois institutions. However, the internal struggles have usually been kept under control and largely out of sight by the ruling class’s ruling class. In this case the struggles have broken out into the open. I don’t have the opportunity to investigate the universe in which the internal struggle is taking place, but I guess it has something to do with the apparent inability of the r.c. to do its self-appointed job, as evidenced by the rise of Trump, the rioting of its police, the unlimited spying contrary to its own rules, its failing economy, its losing, stupid wars, and so on. One couldn’t pick a better symbol of all that than the incredible spectacle of Biden and his cause.

            My experience of liberal culture is that it has often tried to shut me and people like me up, but that has usually been too much trouble. On one blog, long ago, I witnessed left-of-liberal Dr. Chomsky shut those who disagreed with him down by pulling rank, so that’s where he’s at. Of course, he’s an ‘anarchist’ so maybe he doesn’t count. God, what a list. All the usual suspects….

            1. flora

              From the late, great Molly Ivins:

              It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.

    4. D. Fuller

      IIRC, mentioned on NC, recently.

      Teflon Robe: Thousands of U.S. judges broke laws, oaths remained on the bench

      Warning, it is The Guardian…

      How America criminalised poverty

      And I can not find the article about how The War on Drugs has fueled the criminalization of poverty; relating to how violent crime has receded since the 1990’s in America. Yet, we still have more police with very little to do.

      Ah, this may be it… after the above was written.


      Leading to stories such as this….

      Report: DEA Agents Allegedly Hosted Cartel-Funded ‘Sex Parties’ With Prostitutes

      GHW Bush and The Reagan Administration reportedly cozied up with cartels in the 1980’s for use as “intelligence sources” from the Bush CIA days.

      The following is second-hand information directly from people who were involved.

      There was a former Naval intelligence officer that informed of how The US really operates in Colombia. Quite shocking. Unapproved drug labs get raided. Same thing happens in Afghanistan regarding heroin smuggling. If you are not on the list? Your haul is confiscated and a warning is given. The next time? Well, just hope there is not a next time. Afghani heroin is fought over by several different organizations, one of course being the CIA who?

      Millions in CIA “ghost money” paid to Afghanistan president’s office: NYT

      The US was even paying “contractors” (Taleban) not to attack US convoys coming from Pakistan.

      The cozying up of intelligence agencies to criminal organizations began a very long time ago. Italy and WWII for instance and OSS using Mafia to establish control of locales. Operation Paper Clip. The War on Drugs added a new twist.

      How Chapo Used US Agencies to Fight Rival Cartels

      People wonder why there is so many reports of murders in Chicago? Chicago is a major drug distribution center, concentrated in one or two neighborhoods. The cartels & gangs fight over that territory to control distribution. It would be like Amazon hiring mercenaries to burn down a Walmart warehouse in the same neighborhood as the Amazon warehouse.

      The end result of the War on Drugs (and American policing in general)?

      Police officers in some State were caught pulling over Southbound traffic in order to seize, through civil asset forfeitre, the cash proceeds of drug dealers shipping cash north-to-south. Which meant that drug shipments going south-to-north were less likely to be detected and seized.

      It is all about the BENJAMINS.

      To Fund Trauma Centers, Texas Sinks Drivers Into Debt

      The more American Citizens arrested on petty charges, the more American Citizens pay for items such as?

      Gourmet coffee makers for the office. And other luxuries. And bonuses.

      This article is especally enlightening…

      Policing For Profit: How Civil Asset Forfeiture Has Perverted American Law Enforcement (it is ammo.com but do read it and follow the links)… sometimes The Right and The Left do have common cause.


      US police now confiscate more assets than thieves and burglars

      LE shops engage in “turf wars” as if they were rival gangs.

      US law enforcement operates more like a mafia organizations (no, there is no LEO Deep State that is controlled by a single source) than a true police force involved in solving crimes. The current law enforcement system can not be rehabilitated. The system must be dismantled and then rebuilt – requiring extensive retraining of those officers who are salvageable.

      As for NYC? There was in the headlines today that crime is up. Well, LEO – when they feel unhappy? Stop policing until the public becomes tired & angry enough to demands results from the politicians. The politicians respond by police having their organization’s way. Police also do this as a tactic when negotiating pay raises and contracts.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I have read/heard that police departments have extensive networks of informants in “high crime areas”. Here is something i have sometimes wondered.

        When police abuse reaches such a high level that publics complain, do police combine their “backing off”/ “de-policing” with quiet instructions through their networks of informants to the high-performing criminals in the high-crime areas that the police will be “non-enforcing” the law for a while and the high-performing criminals should increase the amount of crime for a while to “send a message” about what happens when police don’t “enforce the law”?

        ” Nice little city youse protesters got there. Too bad if something was to happen to it.”

        If Minneapolis successfully dismantles its police department and builds a social safety department in its place, the people of Minneapolis should be prepared for all the police departments of the entire country to buy one-way bus tickets to Minneapolis for some high-performing criminals to go to Minneapolis and create a “failure” of “police abolition” by drowning Minneapolis in a carefully fostered and shipped-in crime wave.

    5. Musicismath

      My understanding (based on this post over at 3QuarksDaily), is that the Harpers letter is a response to an attempt to “cancel” neuroscientist Steven Pinker (i.e., a petition sent to the Linguistics Society of America demanding that he be stripped of his “distinguished fellow” and “media expert” posts).

      1. a different chris

        This is a new one, but not unexpected. People are requested to be and get fired every day, but if you call it “cancel culture” suddenly they are very special victims of some raging mindless mob.

        Everybody has said that TPTB will turn the whole thing around on The Kids Today, firing at them with their own weapons, and bingo here it is.

        Pinker is the rear end of a northbound donkey. Should he lose his job? – I dunno I don’t know if the Linguistics Society of America isn’t just the sort of place to squirrel away people like him. We don’t really want to let him into the wild, do we?

  1. D. Fuller

    Love the cat cartoon.

    We had a demonstration at Heathrow airport involving luggage and baggage, drug sniffing dogs; regarding detection of narcotics in luggage.

    One of the luggage bags was entirely filled with bricks of carefully wrapped cocaine. The luggage bag in question was not small, bur rather one of the large bags that requires its own wheels. Baggage was laid out in a line. The pooch was led along the line of baggage.

    The drug-sniffing pooch did not detect any narcotics. It’s not that the dogs are not effective… it is simply because the dogs do detect drugs, but not at the effectiveness portrayed in media. The K-9 officer admitted that the dogs only detected narcotics 30% of the time in such demonstrations.

    Still, to any would be smugglers out there? Not a good idea. The chances of detection according to that K-9 officer was 30%. That’s for one time. The chances of detection go up the more a smuggler attempts to smuggle drugs in such a fashion. One time may not get you caught. It’s the accumulation of attempts that will, eventually.

    If you are ever in Heathrow (or any airport) and see a gorgeous fake blonde in a tight, revealing dress, who may or may not be chewing gum, while walking a poodle (or another small dog) in high heels past a line of people? She’s a police officer and the poodle is to. Expect to be pulled out of line if you are carrying.

      1. D. Fuller


        There was a snitch once that had to be dealt with. He was a foreigner living in a friendly foreign country. Was causing some problems regarding certain matters. The solution to said problem was found when it was realized that their snitch was in violation of said foreign country’s law regarding child support payments – it is a crime in that country not to pay your child support; comes with prison sentence. An anonymous tip to the local prosecutor’s office had the snitch who was working for their federal authorities, arrested, tried, convicted, and jailed, in short order.

        Problem solved. Note that the targets of the snitch were not committing crimes. Another matter altogether. In this particular case?

        Curiousity jailed the ca’ts rat.

        After that, the federal authorities of said foreign government resorted to renting an apartment across the street, one level higher (giving a great view into the apartment being surveilled). Large windows. Reportedly, they were nice guys who liked to hang out on the balcony. And very bored.

        Ultimately, a waste of time as no crimes were being committed. Though other matters were being attended to that beneffitted said foreign government. That particular friendly foreign government was simply curious as to what was going on since they were never included into the loop. For good reason.

        The absurdities of such situation.

        Have a nice day. Time to prep for the brake job. Drum brakes on the rear.

  2. fresno dan

    Ist daylight excursion in weeks (I go to the grocery store at 5am or earlier).
    For President Signs:
    Biden – 1
    Trump – 0
    This is Northwest Fresno, wealthier and more inclined to political sign posting. I think the only conclusion to be drawn is that most people are ashamed of who they will vote for. If I was inclined to entrepreneurship, I think I could make a tidy sum selling signs, “I’m not voting for either a$$h***”
    2nd part: The whole point of the excursion was to get an oil change, as my car obnoxiously tells me every time I get in it. So I go to valvoline as it is the closest. 2 bays, but only one is open, and there are three cars in front of me (plus the one in the bay). Why aren’t both bays open? Trouble luring employees back?
    I don’t think oil change places were shut down, but I don’t actually know. Anyway, after 10 minutes with the one in the bay not moving, which means sitting in my care for AT LEAST 30 minutes, I decided to try some other time.
    Tomorrow is the dentist. If covid is to take me, I would hope it is before a dental visit…

    1. Duke of Prunes

      I believe it is the extra 600/week the Fed is kicking in on unemployment benefits. I know someone who owns a ups store, and she says it’s impossible to hire anyone right now. She keeps getting “ghosted” by applicants (e.g. one even hung up in the middle of the interview). Hard to see the logic in working for less than 15/hr when Uncle Sam pays that much to not work.

      1. Otto

        So your saying, a) the feds not people are ‘forcing’ people not to work & b) that the current slave labor wage of $7 dollars and change is fine. No imbalances between someone seeking a job with a living wage and employers refusing to pay it? I find it very easy to hire people, union people whose starting wage is $30 an hour. Actually that’s their take home before taxes, the union pays medical, sick leave, vacation & pensions. The people I contract to demand union labor. All is well in heaven.

        1. Duke of Prunes

          I’m just making an observation, not passing moral judgements. I wouldn’t work a dead end job for less than unemployment benefits either. In fact, I did comment to my friend that maybe they should pay more, but her answer was “we can’t afford to”…

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Well . . . she could afford to if she could raise her prices enough to pay labor more. And if everyone else in her business were forced to pay more, and thereby pressured to charge more, then this particular bussiness-woman would not be undercut by others paying less than she were paying.

            That can only be forced by minimum-wage LAWS.

        2. flora

          Minimum wage raise last passed by Congress and signed by pres in 2007, with three steps. Last step up to $7.25 came in 2009, eleven years ago. Eleven years is the longest time span the federal minimum wage has gone without a raise. Several states have raise their state minimum rate above the fed minimum but not all.

          It’s time for the fed govt to raise the minimum wage rate.

          1. ambrit

            Good luck with that task seeing the massive pool of “unattached labour” now available in America. The Right is going to have a field day with the Pandemic. Expect to see arguments in favour of wage deflation from the “employing” class. Tie this in with globalization and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the argument for global wage arbitration made with a straight face. It is already being done in the “offshoreable” jobs, such as call centre work and the like. If you countered with the fact that some tasks are location specific, such as construction and repair, I can see the more malign ‘actors’ using the global arbitrage argument, even with them knowing the logic of the argument is bad. These are the people who, through the “arts” of advertisement and propaganda have embraced falsehood as a legitimate form of argumentation.
            All this reinforces my feeling that we exited representative government years ago and have fully entered the realm of Commercial Corporatism.

      2. fresno dan

        Duke of Prunes
        July 7, 2020 at 4:27 pm

        So I looked up the Fresno shut down orders for the pandemic, and auto service (which I assume includes oil changes) were allowed to stay open.
        I didn’t mention, but I had stopped by the previous week when my oil change message first told me to get the oil changed, and again the line had 3 cars in it with a car in the bay, and only one bay open. I decided that was an anomaly and if I came back some other day I would breeze right through.
        If anything, with less driving, fewer people should be getting their oil changed – why are they trying to get their oil changed when I do? I actually thought this time I would be stuck in the line, as somebody pulled behind me, but after a few minutes he decided this was a losing proposition, and when he left I thought I should skedaddle as well. As for unemployment, I assume you still have to be let go involuntarily before you collect unemployment.
        It just seems odd.

      1. Wukchumni

        One of the cabins in Cabin Cove in Mineral King in Sequoia NP has a blue 2020 Trump flag flying that has caused a lot of comment. Seems so out of place having visible political pontificating in a National Park.

  3. Mark Gisleson

    The iconic untranslatable American word, imo, is “cool.” We can’t define it so how could anyone else do so?

    1. Bugs Bunny

      There’s an out of print book called “The Catalog of Cool”. I’ve never seen it set out any better.

      Obama would not qualify (Harvard)

      Tina Turner would – because she’s _cool_ and no one can dispute it.


      The band X

      Original Levi’s

      Killer Mike

      Northern Soul


      Run DMC

      Hedy Lamar



  4. allan

    Dozens of Florida hospitals out of available ICU beds [Reuters]

    Hospital ICUs were full at 54 hospitals across 25 of Florida’s 67 counties, according to data published on Tuesday morning by the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration. … Thirty hospitals reported that their ICUs were more than 90% full. … In Miami-Dade – the state’s most populous county – eight hospitals reported their intensive care units were filled to capacity, including North Shore Hospital with 56 ICU beds. The hospital with the most ICU capacity in the county, Jackson Memorial, reported that its ICU was 91% full. …

    But come on down, the water’s warm!

    … “Hospitals are safe and Floridians in need of treatment shouldn’t avoid seeking care,” Desantis wrote on Twitter. …

    Where do the ICU nurses go to get an apology from Rich Lowry?

  5. Jack White

    Re “Kanye West declares…” I’d like to see a new Key and Peele shtick where they spoof Obama’s call to Kanye, to ask him to drop out and endorse Biden.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      The oddest thing would be if Trump dropped out and endorsed his buddy Kanye. You read it here first. Not putting any money on it.

      1. Felix_47

        Falling down could be the campaign anthem. Kanye has my vote. Head to head Biden vs. Kanye West is no contest. The debate would be no contest. So Obama better get to work to get Kanye to back Biden or drop out. Kim Kardashian as first lady…..can we dream?

  6. Kurt Sperry

    “And stop flapping your jaws, Red State h8terz, because California is tracking Texas very nicely.”

    You get twenty miles inland and California is pretty much a red state. That, obviously, is most of it geographically.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      And your point is? As “blue-ness” tends to be found in urban areas, the same can be said of pretty much all of the larger blue states (without Chicago, IL is red, without Minneapolis/St Paul, MN is red, etc).

      1. Briny

        Plenty of urban areas in Red-state California. Fresno is definitely very urban although you also get the treat of my bane, farming dust on/in everything.

      2. Bugs Bunny

        Strangely enough, even without Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin could still flip. The western counties can go blue. Who knows what will happen this time. Gov. Evers is the model of milquetoast Democrat uselessness. He seems to have no purpose other than to be a punching bag for the Republican assembly and state supreme court.

    2. curlydan

      And if makes your day to hate the red states, you could look at the per capita results.

  7. L

    I’m not sure if this article ever got linked here and Douthat is Douthat but this is as pithy a takedown of the corporate wokeness as any The Second Defeat of Bernie Sanders:

    The fact that corporations are “outdistancing” even politicians, as Crenshaw puts it, in paying fealty to anti-racism is perhaps the tell. It’s not that corporate America is suddenly deeply committed to racial equality; even for woke capital, the capitalism comes first. Rather, it’s that anti-racism as a cultural curriculum, a rhetoric of re-education, is relatively easy to fold into the mechanisms of managerialism, under the tutelage of the human resources department. The idea that you need to retrain your employees so that they can work together without microaggressing isn’t Marxism, cultural or otherwise; it’s just a novel form of Fordism, with white-fragility gurus in place of efficiency experts.

    Jaundiced as it is the article makes a clear case for what is going on. IMHO of course this is nothing unique to “the left.” The process of elite institutions joining with symbolic figures of a new movement to stay in power succinctly describes the same forces that brought handpicked avatars of “cultural conservatism” to places like the NYTimes Opinion Pages, and led big companies to support “family values” back in the 80’s.

    Never doubt the company’s will to survive.

  8. John A

    Re One of the reasons to confiscate inherited wealth is to protect squillionaires children from the impact of it. Robert Maxwell was not a nice person at all.

    He certainly wasn’t, but then again he was not a squillionaire, he was more like a bankrupt, with countless companies shuffling money around to give the impression of immeasurable wealth but then when the merrygoround almost stopped, he stole the money from the Mirror newspaper group pension fund. Whether he jumped, fell or was pushed overboard, his financial dealings were about to come to light. Of course his family denied all knowledge of his financial affairs and probably squirreled away much of the pension proceeds for their own retirements.
    I always suspect that one of the reasons Trump wants to keep his businesses so opaque is that he too, keeps the plates spinning between countless companies and doesn’t really have a pot to piss in if you look at unindebted assets.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Maxwell was more than that – he was up to his eyeballs in intelligence activities. MI6 thought he was KGB, but Seymour Hersh I think wrote that he was probably a member of Mossad, and may well have been the main front for moving money around Europe for Mossads various activities, including getting knowhow to build their nuclear warheads. He was certainly eulogised by the Israeli government after his death, notwithstanding rumours that it may have been a pair of Mossad hands that pushed him off the boat.

      I don’t think its tin hatted to speculate that his daughter was following in his footsteps – nobody as yet seems to have satisfactorily explained where Epstein got all his money.

      1. John A

        Almost certainly Mossad. George Galloway tells the story that they were both due to appear on some TV programme. Galloway was waiting in the green room when Maxwell arrived, and without warning punched GG in the solar plexus and said words to the effect, expletives deleted, ‘you’re the pro Palestinian person’.
        Maxwell got his start in the post WW2 free for all in central Europe. He was Czech born, spoke several eastern European languages and got the publishing rights to European textbooks etc. A very slippery character.

  9. John k

    They want to kill me…
    No, nothing personal. What they do want to do is sell their insurance at a high price and then deny service if you get sick. The ideal outcome is to spend nothing on your treatment and have you live to continue payments.
    And you want to survive, too… right? See, your interests are in line with theirs.

  10. sd

    California – everything starts to change May 18 and the rate starts going up. It coincides with Newsom moving forward with openings. I don’t think that’s an accident. It’s sad – everyone consistently underestimates the virus.

    California Relaxes Some Criteria For Reopening
    May 18, 2020

    Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a dramatic relaxation Monday of health standards to reopen the state, a move that could allow nearly every county to proceed more quickly, and he offered the possibility of pro sports returning — without fans — by early June.

    1. Ignacio

      One thing that has to be said about this new wave of infections as compared with the former is that it might be true that Covid mortality in summer could be significantly reduced by weather conditions. Because of higher humidity content, the nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal mucosae will almost certainly be in better shape in the population at large, and the natural barriers might reduce disease progression significantly compared with winter conditions. This could possibly allow for the immune system to become activated before the virus has reached critical points and reduce the chances for systemic hyper-inflammatory responses and many of the nasty consequences seen last winter-spring.

      Something to think about. Somehow, this could be a learning lesson from the second wave in the US.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Your conjecture also might also argue for the possible efficacy of lavage of the sinus membranes [neti pot rinse] following any indications or potential Corona infections. If nothing else, lavage might be a good palliative.

        1. Ignacio

          This is not so clear. It might be a good preventive measure but once infected i don’t know if the rinses would help to clear virus loads (good) or help virus spread within the nasopharyngeal tract (bad). So, I wouldn’t recommend neither advise against doing this: I just don’t know.

    2. sd

      More not good…

      Los Angeles County Coronavirus Update: New Cases Skyrocket As Test Positivity Rate Hits 11.6 Percent

      Testing results are available for over 1,213,000 individuals with 9 percent of all people testing positive. The daily positivity rate of all tests (a composite of a 7-day rolling average) has risen to 11.6 percent. On Monday, that 7-day average was pegged at 10 percent.

  11. douglass truth

    Bitecofer knows her polling apparently, but following her tweets shows that she falls for a lot of Russiaphobia junk and also blames – virulently – the left for HRC’s loss.

    1. a different chris

      >and also blames – virulently – the left for HRC’s loss.

      How the heck did we get here exactly, where people blame the voters for who they vote for. Lordy. The Dems shouldn’t have nominated her, you had to be in some really thick bubble to not know how disliked she was. Nobody has to vote for anybody they don’t want to vote for, the very first definition of a “free country” i believe.

      But getting votes is hard work and nobody on the Dem side thinks they should have to do that.

      Of course the Rethugs didn’t realize that nobody wanted another Bush, either, but at least their primary voters were allowed to demonstrate that.

    1. curlydan

      My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is actually a really good album. My kids are intrigued by his “run” although I had to inform them it doesn’t really mean a thing until he gets on a ballot.

      “Lost in translation with a whole [bleepin’] nation
      They say I was the abomination of Obama’s nation
      Well that’s a pretty bad way to start a conversation”
      Kanye West, “Power”

    1. Oh

      Thanks for the link, Slim. I’m sure the factors mentioned in the article certainly seemed to have played a part. But IMNSHO, the primary causes were that 1)Bernie did not want to attack the policies of his “good friend” Biden 2)Bernie wanted to somehow keep his positions in the committees that he was heading 3)Bernie was weary and having had a heart attack did not want to go on.

      The losses on Super Tuesday gave him an out. I don’t think it was the lack of the possibility to be out drawing large crowds (because of Covid-19) that was the decider. He had plenty of funds and fund raising was not a problem. It’s possible that Obummer called him and had a message for him (much as he did to Kucinich).

      Overall, it didn’t look like he wanted to win as badly as his supporters did! It was a big let down to them and others when he threw in the towel. A sad day in history.

      1. a different chris

        Both Bernie and Biden (and Trump) are too old to be President. Maybe Bernie was decent enough to realize it, the other two barely recognize breakfast at this point.

        Still, I think Bernie lost (and Trump won) because like every once-top country on the downswing, we have gone quite rightwing. People voted for Biden because they wanted a right-wing Democrat, same reason they vote for all the other right-wing Democrats and every Republican there is.

        It’s of course the wrong thing to do, as proven by the results, and further people would know it was the wrong thing to do if they could connect what they think (as shown by issues polling) to who they should vote for.

        But they don’t.

  12. hunkerdown

    A bit of economic color from the nabe… the Culver’s unit two miles down the road is offering “up to” $100 signing bonuses. And the sports bar between here and there has closed 6-10 of its parking spaces in favor of what looks to be outdoor seating. Adjustment proceeds apace, for some pace…

    re: that Twitter thread, has #ADOS ever taken the mask off and exposed themselves as the black neoliberal bourgeoisie residents of the Vampire Castle. I think we can safely treat said movement, or at least their Twitterati which remain speaking for them, as part of the Problem and not the solution.

  13. Pelham

    Re the Sanders items: What is the left? Does it include Black Lives Matter and its demands for defunding police and de-privileging the nuclear family? Does it include the cancel culture?

    I understand it does include single-payer healthcare and the Green New Deal. Fine. But if it absolutely has to include the BLM and culture wars stuff — really just a front for the Professional Managerial Class to reassert its authority — the health and climate stuff begins to look like little more than window dressing.

    1. JBird4049

      Actually to a leftist like me, the assaults on the family and anti-white racism is being done by the very fringy, but grown nuts, while cancel culture is just another form of censorship and control, not of justice.

      Note that as the economic left has grown in numbers, so has the most fringe, radical, controversial, and damaging especially to the creation of broad coalitions, organizations, or even a healthy society; they all need honest, talk even arguing without having to fear that something said decades ago, or misspeaking a pronoun, or certainly talking about an unpopular subject will get you truly ruined. Modern day McCarthyism at its finest.

      It is almost as if someone is helping to create very damaging social beliefs that go into lockstep with other economic and social reform movements like a poison pill.

      Reminds me how the Republican and Democratic Parties neutralized the socially active conservative right and the economically minded left in the 1980s.

        1. a different chris

          Actually I think you may have hit on something with your typo.

          The sub-30’s are really serious about serious subjects. They are mad about police behavior, and like I said elsewhere “defund the police” is the type of negotiating starting point you need. Gets TV views, puts the status quo on the back foot, just brilliant. And the movement is not anti white, white kids are well (probably too well, as they seem to have a predilection for smashing things) represented as they see the maw of second-class citizenship approaching them, too.

          The “assaults on the family and anti-white racism” seem to be coming from the old lefties, who think that this is their moment in the sun but really aren’t even part of what’s really happening. Hey you become an expert at self-delusion after a few decades.

          I believe The Kids Today will just trample said nuts. I mean “having to fear that something said decades ago” is probably funny to people stuck with online stuff they posted when they were 15, especially since it was only like 5 years ago. “You got problems? Look at what a racist little sh&t I was in 2015!…now I have a black girlfriend and she teases me with it endlessly.”

          “The future is here, but not evenly distributed” is really really suddenly obvious now.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      Black Lives Matter and its demands for defunding police and de-privileging the nuclear family?

      That’s an interesting conflation to say the least! Right outta left (or is it right?) field.

    3. Massinissa

      ‘De-privileging the nuclear family’? Wut? Who advocates this and how? Is this some anti-LGBT thing or am I just missing something?

      1. JBird4049

        Nah, not some anti-LGBT thing. I’ve come across this from fringe of the fringe. I should have made notes, but I didn’t. I mean come on. I read it and it goes bleep, that’s craaaazy, just ignore.

        It is just the thing to lump in with, or be created by some extremists in, IdPol as well as an easy handle for some to exaggerate and attack the entire Left with.

          1. JBird4049

            I just read the article. It’s… let us it makes me confused as to why the Guardian published it. Honestly, I read it quickly because it’s so goofy, it hurts. Really, it’s just baloney about sexism and hostility to women, which does exist, and is used as manure to bury some good points.

            Much of what she is complaining about would also apply to men as well as women. Bad lighting, poor access, dangerous locations, unfriendly to the average person. This is something that you are going to run through into when studying a general history of architecture and it applies to everyone of either sex and all classes. It’s nothing new or special or particular to our time or place.

            The general unfriendliness and soullessness of much of Western architecture of the past, say 150 years and especially after the First World War is real enough. However, I don’t think that the Bauhaus school is sexist especially as women played a large part in developing it although the next schools of architecture are definitely male dominated.

            If she wants to blame anyone for the unfriendliness of modern European cities, she should blame the disruptions caused by the two world wars that created a need for replacement buildings especially housing immediately and that the new schools of architecture especially (to me) Brutalism, but even supporters of that acknowledge some of general coldness of modern architecture. Throw money at some superstar architect whose more into creating something unique and owners who want cheap and of course it’s likely to be awful, but that’s not sexism. It is short sighted stupidity.

            If she is mad about the creation of the suburbs, it really started over a century ago because the cities back then were environmentally hellscapes of pollution including dense smoke, mountains of horse dung, dead horses left to rot, and through much of the second half of the 19th century often muddy and lacking proper sewage systems. But again that’s not the tyranny of sexism.

            I am arguing with a clueless identitaran by posting a comment. Ack. But the stupid really burns.

      2. Pelham

        From the BLM website:

        “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.”

        Note, I said “de-privileging,” not “destroying” or “dismantling” the nuclear family.

        1. hunkerdown

          But the nuclear family was, arguably, only ever privileged in the first place to create more households and to divide-and-rule extended family units. I’m not sure why this bourgeois distributism is something that people should value. Explain like I’m autistic.

        2. Arizona Slim

          That description sounds a lot like the neighborhoods I grew up in. Get in trouble down the street, and oh, brother. You’d be in for it at home too.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Anybody notice that ever since these riots, statue-toppings and all the rest of it started, things like a livable wage, medicare for all and social justice have all been deep-sixed and now all what you are hearing seems to be the result of a bunch of cultural marxists that came up with their demands from a ‘safe space’ at an elite university? Just sayin’.

            1. Massinissa

              ‘Cultural Marxism’ is literally not a thing. Its a right wing conspiracy theory. ‘Cultural Marxist’ is not an accurate synonym for Postmodernist, which I believe you are trying to say.

                1. Massinissa

                  Which is what I believe you are trying to say*

                  My brain is apparently not working well tonight.

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    With my term, Cultural Marxists, what I am saying is an extreme, tiny minority that is trying to impose their viewpoint on the rest of society and who can be identified by them criticizing or ejecting people people because their views are not ‘purist enough.

                    1. Massinissa

                      But that isn’t what the term means, either technically in terms of being another name for Frankfurt School Marxism, or even in the vernacular of the right, where its a conspiracy theory about a group of people wanting to destroy western civilization. No offense, but you can’t just take a pre-existing term, especially one with a lot of baggage, and put your own definition onto it. What you are describing has nothing to do with Marxism or Marxists at all.

                      Wouldn’t it just be easier to, say, use the word ‘purist’? Using ‘Cultural Marxist’ over just using ‘purist’ seems like it would only obfuscate things.

                    2. The Rev Kev

                      Ahh, for inspiration, I refer to that master of words, Humpty Dumpty-

                      ‘“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less. ‘ ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things. ‘ ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”’

                      So much easier than the Newspeak that we are trying to develop these days. :)

                    3. Aumua

                      “Cultural Marxism” has come to mean a whole variety of different things lately, but those who use the term unironically, and who actually have a solid idea of what they mean when they say it (such as proto-fascists like Rush, or Bill O’reilly), generally do mean this:


                      i.e. a breakdown of western cultural and christian moral values, and a creeping degeneracy propagated by Marxists under the guise of things like feminism, multiculturalism and political correctness though mainstream media whose ultimate goal is to bring about Communism by indirect means.

                      So, at least be aware of the general usage of the term your tossing around.

              1. integer

                Lol who made you the arbiter of what is and isn’t “a thing”?

                Here’s the definition from the Urban Dictionary:

                A collectivist application of Marxist class warfare along a far broader spectrum of identities, such as race, gender, and sexuality, as opposed to solely along class lines; intersectionality.

                First, Marxism only spoke to the oppression of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie, but now men oppress women, whites oppress blacks, heterosexuals oppress homosexuals, the able-bodied oppress the disabled, & cisgendered folk oppress trans folk; WHO you are is irrelevant, all that matters now is WHAT you are, which groups you are a member of, your personhood reduced to your arbitrary characteristics, to that of an object; this is Cultural Marxism.

                1. Aumua

                  Oh, so Marxism means basically the study of oppression then, and different categories of people means culture. So cultural Marxism is the idea that different categories of people oppress each other. But that’s not really true then? Racial oppression, sexual inequality, these things don’t exist. Or, they did exist but now it’s all been fixed. And any discussion of areas in which might not have been fixed yet is reducing people to objects. Which is bad.

                  Well ok then, ladies and gentlemen, I give you “Cultural Marxism”, brought to you by an anonymous poster on Urban Dictionary, and our own illustrious Integer.

          2. GERMO

            My first thought too — it describes a 1960s suburb with a bunch of kids all around the same age and moms who don’t have to go to a stupid job but instead can be on the scene knowing everything, all the time. Easily updated: triple all wages, cut the cost of houses by two thirds at least, fund the schools universally and make ’em heavy on the home ec, shop and art classes…and THEN make only half of us sell our labor to the bosses, thereby giving another half of us the freedom to do the important work.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Big open question: what, exactly, is “the important work?”

              Will kitchen gardens fix systemic problems of globalism and its constituencies?

            2. JBird4049

              The economy of the 50s-60s threatened TPTB. Strong unions, growing middle class (finally including a growing Black middle class), several reform movements, improving living standards and all of which threaten the power structure. So now we have none of what you are describing.

              IIRC really having a true homeless population only started in the 1970s. Sure there was the homelessness of the Great Depression and the lesser homelessness problems before the 1930s. The problem of homelessness is easy to read about pre-World War 2. It seemed to have just mostly disappeared during the boom years and then poof appearing again in the 70s. It has been getting worse every year and now reminds me of the situation during the Progressive Era and early when the cities had a horrible problem.

              The powerful are just fine with the mass misery. As a class, they helped to create it.

        3. JBird4049

          Unfortunately in neoliberal modernese de-privileging is synonymous with deplatforming, denialism, and destruction.

          The original writers might have meant recreating or returning to the more healthy extended family, which we should do, but watch out; just as the Combahee River Collective writers were talking about the common humanity and multiple connections as well as aspects of us all, the aspects were changed into solitary identity and Identity Politics becomes the new racism (At its core, beyond hatred of the other, it is a means of separation by creating categories of exclusion.) and a way to ignore everything else like poverty, corruption, and global warming.

          At the least, it ties fighting the elites and changing our society from the inside as well as from the outside with almost ritualized social positioning by aspect and hatred and denial of the the other, even if that other is one’s own self, or someone else just as oppressed and miserable as anyone else can be. Neoliberalism and its weapon of identity politics is used to deny and destroy our common humanity and universal connections.

  14. Pelham

    Re the New Yorker item on how we look to the rest of the world: Really? They ask a European? Europe is chock full of major — sometimes dominant — political parties openly devoted to battling minorities, even though their minority populations are tiny compared with ours. And their more recent colonial histories are a great deal more extensive and bloodier than ours.

    Have they no shame?

    1. a different chris

      All of what you say is true, but… you are maybe reversing the “”And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” bit.

      If you are the brother, you need to do something about the speck. Not as hastily as the plank guy, but it is a problem and just because the plank guy is the one pointing it out doesn’t make it not so.

      In this case, we are looking pretty even, maybe each has a branch stuck in there?

      Shorter me: if you have a problem you can’t ignore it just because of who pointed it out

  15. JWP

    Re: “US rivers and lakes are shrinking for a surprising reason: cows” Mark Reisner’s Cadillac Desert was all over the cattle driven drought issue and how it came to be. Now it continues to expand. Most of the alfalfa farms are getting their water subsidized by urban taxpayers at rates beyond sanity. At some point the US food system will have to reckon with feeling left behind by policies while (at least out west) being propped up by those same politicians’ subsidies. Being squeezed by politics and nature is not a good battle to fight.
    Absent legislation holding water appropriations to reasonable levels and fully public water utilities both urban and rural, calling upon consumers to stop eating beef is a tall task. It’s cheap and right now people want cheap. A comprehensive revision of the Colorado River Compact and Reclamation Act as well as the necessity of upstream irrigation projects is a more stable and effective route especially as people will turn to the government during crises.

    1. Felix_47

      I lived in the Mojave desert a few years ago and the Saudis had bought up a lot of land to grow alfalfa to feed their animals in Saudi Arabia. They deep welled to get irrigation water and I think they are still at it. The water is not coming back in the realistic future. Of course, the Saudis own a lot of the US especially stock in the big banks, which may explain a lot of the bailout in 2008.

  16. Otto

    So your saying, a) the feds not people are ‘forcing’ people not to work & b) that the current slave labor wage of $7 dollars and change is fine. No imbalances between someone seeking a job with a living wage and employers refusing to pay it? I find it very easy to hire people, union people whose starting wage is $30 an hour. Actually that’s their take home before taxes, the union pays medical, sick leave, vacation & pensions. The people I contract to demand union labor. All is well in heaven.

    1. ambrit

      Not to quibble, but you are not describing the North American Deep South that I lived and worked in for the last five decades.
      Your penultimate point is the important one; “The people I contract to demand union labour.”
      Here, in the NADS, almost all shops and ‘customers’ agitate for non-Union labour, from a purely financial motivation. We here in the NADS live in a version of the economic-social iteration of “all against all.” The Union shops I have encountered here all deal with organizations mandated from above to hire Union workers. Federal sites were the best, and even there, the old shell game was utilized through the State’s definition of “Prevailing Wage” to mean pretty small geographical regions. There is no Statewide ‘Prevailing Wage’ that I know of in any State in the NADS.
      Down here in the abattoir of the NADS, the Mandate of Heaven is Chaos.

      1. Felix_47

        Having worked in the deep south a few years ago I noticed that the agricultural employers did everything in their power to avoid hiring native blacks. They told us they only would hire Mexicans or Central Americans. They could not get enough of them. It seems like poor black men have been economically divorced from the US at least in the south. With essentially no interaction with the legal economy no wonder they get involved in so much other stuff that puts them in jail or makes them unhireable. let alone having to deal with the unpaid child support issues if we could get one hired.

    2. RMO

      I take any “we can’t get anyone to do the work we need done” complaints from businesses, industry associations and think tanks with not just a grain of salt but a whole salt lick. This comes from personal experience job searching. I’ve heard companies and industries cry the blues using that line at the same time my applications and resumes were seemingly just dropping into black holes.

      Otto: I haven’t ever worked in a union environment but in the businesses I have worked for I’ve noticed that the ones who pay a decent wage, benefits and a non-hellish work environment (these were all small businesses so this all depended on the owner not being a greedy sociopath) never had any real trouble finding good employees and keeping them. One thing most of them had in common was the willingness and ability to teach and train a new employee too instead of just hoping that someone would magically turn up who already knew everything there was to know about the job and was willing to do it for minimum wage, 22 hours a day.

  17. remmer

    “[W]here entire elites get kicked out”? Really?

    I think I know what Mark Leonard means. He’s a European, so by “elite” he may mean the top officials in an administration, the ones that are replaced by members of the winning party when there’s a change at the top. Some years ago I read that when there was a change of party in the UK or France, the new administration would make 80-100 political patronage appointments, leaving top levels of the career civil service intact. New administrations in the USA make more like 1,500 patronage appointments. That’s a vestige of the old spoils system.

  18. jr

    Re: What went wrong with Sanders

    “: most journalists and even their bosses aren’t mere automatons for oligarchs. They are largely culturally left people on the hunt for sexy angles to drive pageviews and ratings. They are human beings who react best when engaged with—courted, worked over, and even flattered.”

    A clumsy straw man of Chomsky, IIRC “Manufacturing Consent”, no one claims they are automatons. But they are beholden to those oligarchs for those “sexy angles” to “drive pageviews and ratings” as this worthy notes without noticing…

    “If leftists resign themselves to a Chomskian critique of mass media, they will never beat mass media. And resignation is the last thing the left needs right now. The future, with or without Bernie Sanders, is there to be won.”

    This strikes me as akin to the argument that you vote the dirtball into office, then pressure or influence or plead with it to get what you want. In other words, surrender to win. A strategy Dore has skewed repeatedly.

    Here though there is no leverage, how can one make the mass media do what you want? No one votes it into power. If it ignores you, it ignores you. If events grow so dire that it cannot ignore you, it will lie, cheat, and steal. I say alternative media and to hell with the MSM. Of course he frames this as a “resignation”, that’s the job of the agents of centrism, to scold and shame and chide the sheep back into the righteous path. Yet another insight from the “Vampire Castle”.

    1. hunkerdown

      Importantly, they are also beholden to those oligarchs for the pay levels that allow them the leisure time to get good at exploring ‘sexy angles’ and to prey on the general public, and not just “access to” the Wurlitzer on which to perform their plaintive cries for personal relevance.

      Beyond establishing any sort of presence in the MSM, I think insurgent campaign engagement with the MSM does tie a limb behind their back regarding their ability to manage “the” narrative.

    2. tegnost

      Here though there is no leverage, how can one make the mass media do what you want? No one votes it into power. If it ignores you, it ignores you. If events grow so dire that it cannot ignore you, it will lie, cheat, and steal.

      The people in power telling those out of power to use proper channels. I expect to hear a lot more of that

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        As I vaguely recall, Hanna Arendt described how the multi-layered redundant Nazi bureaucracy assured that no petitioner could ever locate or petition proper channels. Franz Kafka wrote a novel — the Castle — describing the processes for never locating and succeeding at petitioning the proper channels.

        1. RMO

          Rather than take as fact the description the article gives of the people in mass media (with nothing to support the assertion) I prefer to look at how they act and what they do in reality. Real world evidence strongly suggests that the article’s characterization is rubbish.

          I still don’t think there was any way Sanders would have been allowed to win no matter what his campaign did or how many supporters he had. That was made crystal clear in 2016 and in the court case brought against the Dems for rigging the primaries and violating their own rules.

  19. Pelham

    Re reparations: The debate has been going on for years and going nowhere. So let’s actually get it done by making reparations voluntary. Allow federal taxpayers to designate a percentage of their yearly taxes for reparations, as much or as little as they like.

    As for the question of “how you gonna pay for it,” note that the currency issuer doesn’t need our money to build aircraft carriers or whatnot. So this seems a good solution — unless advocates prefer to keep the debate going to spin up still more guilt, anger and tribalism.

    1. HotFlash

      I have thought and thought about this question of reparations. The case *for* reparations is clear and compelling, *BUT*, I have never been able to imagine a system for distribution of $$$$ reparations that would not be divisive. It is complicated and subtle, the devil will always be in the details. I have read about Jewish Diaspora people trying to establish their claims to move to Israel — this one from India didn’t have proper documentation, that one from Russia didn’t have her brother’s permission — details, details. Barack Obama would get nothing, b/c none of his ancestors were enslaved in the USofA. Besides, he is rich. What about Oprah? What about Sally Hemings decendants? Sally’s children (by Thomas Jefferson) were (supposedly) 7/8 European. Would their descendants get any $$? Would it make a difference if they ‘passed for white’ and — I stop here, it gets too nasty, and ‘scuse me, if you want to see Black-on-not-so-Black violence, add this to ‘cancel culture’ and you got dynamite. Jay Gould was an idiot. With the right PR and provocation, he could have got it nearly free. Tycoons of the world, rejoice!

      Well, OTOH, there is Bernie’s idea — free college/trade school,yada *for all*, good affordable housing *for all*, Medicare *for all*, a livable minimum wage *for all*, expunging of records for non-violent crime when time served, and I would add non-predatory policing *for all*, a jobs guarantee *for all*, a living pension (which SSI is not) *for all*, and public non-profit banking(1.) *for all*. If historic disparities are repaired, then reparation will have been achieved, will it not?

      Note 1 — includes access to mortgages, business loans, etc., including affordable litigation as may be required. Or maybe co-ops (my preferred business entity), or — I don’t know, we may have to invent new things.

      1. Pelham

        Valid points, all of them. Thank you.

        So my idea addresses only half the problem: white guilt. The other half, actually distributing the wealth generated by the tax diversion — which could be left in place indefinitely — is left open. But simplicity is the key: I’d suggest punting the whole matter to the Congressional Black Caucus.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          In this entertaining talk by Christopher Hitchens about Jefferson he points out that we do know the names of leading African families who profited by rounding up and selling their brethren. Some of those families exist today, in Benin for example.

          One of the other interesting facts he covers is the cause of America’s first foreign war: The Barbary War (“…to the shores of Tripoliiiiii…”). An estimated 1.5 million Americans were captured into indentured servitude by Ottomans. (I assume they also qualify for a reparations check?).

          And as for myself, my people (Huguenots) were not just captured and sold, they were brutally slaughtered by Catholics by the tens of thousands. So I assume I should be expecting a check from The Vatican, no?


          1. ObjectiveFunction

            Can’t be arsed to check, but c.1800, human numbers on scales of 1.5 million would seem far more likely to describe the total population of the Barbary states, or entire American states. How many Americans had even set foot on a ship in the period 1783-1803?

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Suggest you get arsed to listen to the link, Hitchens cites the exhaustive work on the subject.

              1. ObjectiveFunction

                Well I miss Hitch too, but I’m still saying enslavement of 1.5 million US citizens from the founding of the Republic to 1803 on another continent is simply not credible on its face. Unless the ‘Triangular Trade’ had a few extra corners that escaped my notice, or Hamilton depopulated Pennsylvania after the Whiskey Rebellion to pay down the national debt.

                Maybe a typo or else a mislabel of some other data point, e.g. all Europeans enslaved by Muslims since the Arab conquests? But sorry, I don’t do video/audio, so I’ll just leave it there.

                That said, I remain convinced that Reparations + Senile Joe + a black woman VP (even moderate neolib Susan Rice) will be the issue that utterly sinks the Dems in November. Reparations, our Founders are evil and kneeling in kente doesn’t win them one single solitary vote they don’t have already, and just looks… wrong to everyone else.

              2. Aumua

                He says 1.5 million Europeans and Americans, and he doesn’t cite anything for that except “current research”. This article also disagrees, saying 1.2 million Europeans tops, over a much longer period of time as well. I don’t know what the truth is here, but consider your assertions called into doubt.


          2. HotFlash

            And my people have only been able to vote in the US since 1919, many of us lost our property to our husbands on marriage and in my lifetime, a married woman could not contract except for necessities (eg, could not hold a Kresge’s charge card, although she could run a tab at the grocer’s) without her husband’s written permission. This timeline starts in 1777, when women in New York *lost* the right to vote. Well, they did say it was all men who were created equal, and there seems to be some disagreement on even what ‘men’ were included, no? After a whole lot of hard work and some seriously bad stuff went down women got the vote in the US.

            We non-guys still aren’t ‘equal’ in terms of wages, power, healthcare, business ownership, representation on corporate boards, share of housework and childcare — do we get reparations? And what would they repair? Would reparations be prorated on how much housework each gender of spouse actually does? Deduction if no children, or increment for being socially responsible? Would you get a bonus if your dad or grand-dad never lifted a finger around the house, even though you and your spouse divide domestic duties punctilliously? What if your grandma worked? What if your grandma was a farmwife — whoa Nelly, farmwives work hard! Or like my two grandmas, one a farmwife and mother of 6, the other an urban (village) housewife and mother of 7. How far back do we go and what do we count?

            I do not, do not, see how any $$$ reparations could be paid in a way that is truly fair, let alone be seen to be fair.

            The line for reparations forms on the right and IMHO, starts with our First Nations people. Please can we just have Nice Things for All and stop all this invidious and inflammatory bean-counting?

          3. Felix_47

            Captain John Smith who founded the Virginia Colony was a prior slave of the Turks. He managed to escape.

      2. Carolinian

        You say it is clear and compelling and then give all the reasons why it is not. And of course “historical disparities” are not just disparities of opportunity but also disparities of chance including the chance of being born rich. So arguably if reparations make sense then it’s the unfairly wealthy who should cough up. The public might go for that.

        1. Leroy R

          Yes, I have been thinking that 95% of the combined fortunes of all of America’s billionaires might help to cover the bill nicely.

        2. HotFlash

          Carolinian, the *case* is clear and compelling — there is a huge debt owed! But how is that debt is to be actually repaid, as in dollars-to-persons/institutions? Who *exactly* owes it, and *exactly* to whom? Cheques come in *exact* amounts to *exact* payees, so tell me, who gets a cheque and for how much? Who provides the funds? I can see ‘reparations’ being a lever for huge societal breakdown, eg, Black against not-quite-Black-Enough. This has happened before (eg, Rwanda), and our Overlords would probably be delighted if they could get it happening here.

          Are there only reparations or are there, um, deparations (is that a word?), as in, clawbacks from families/companies who made their fortunes on the slave trade. Eg, the Browns, as in Brown University; Brooks Bros, both personal and corporate, who got their start making clothes for slaves; and AIG, which underwrote insurance policies on slaves back in the day — proceeds payable to the owner, of course, to name a few). I say, looks fine to me, but — did the kids do anything wrong? Should they be punished, or just deprived off their unjust wealth? How could anyone tell? I am an accountant, and I couldn’t begin to unravel this stuff that goes back decades, hundreds, thousands, and if you track it back, probably millions of years.

          My own grandfather, an Irishman whose family/ies had emigrated to Michigan in the late 19th C (potato famine, land confiscation, cholera, Troubles), once told me with shame that his ancestors had worked on slave ships. I didn’t understand then (I was maybe 10), but the bell went ding ding ding when I read many years later that the slave trade depended “on northern bottoms” (FYI, a ‘bottom’ is a hull, as of a boat, TYVM) — as did most of the cotton trade. I wish I had understood better to ask him more, but he is long dead. Possibly due to radioactive contaminants released as a US ‘govt exphttps://news.umich.edu/experimental-nuclear-reactor-celebrates-50th-anniversary-in-a-changed-world-event-to-be-marked-by-oct-21-22-conference/eriment’ betw UofM, not just nuclear physics but a formidable medical school for tracking ‘results’, and Selfridge Air Force Base — but that is another grievance, for another time and perhaps another reparation. But doesn’t England owe him something? Doesn’t he owe something to the First Nations people whose lands were ‘given’ to him by the US federal government of the day?

          I dunno, I dunno, I dunno.


          In golf, I hear (never played it, seemed like a waste of a good walk) there is a rule that you play the ball where it lies. I think that is where we are: just fix *everything*. Back in the day, we called it solidarity. *Everybody* gets good food, clothing, shelter, all the education they can eat, medical care, and a decent job and/or pension. Rich people get taxed 90% (it was good enough for Ike, it’s good enough for me) *plus* a tax on accrued wealth, just to even things up. Corporate tax 50% for the first $250,000 (or whatever is reasonable for an SME), 90% for everything over that — hey, lookin’ at you, Jeff Bezos! Don’t pay taxes here? So sad, you can’t do business here — and don’t make me laugh, accountants can figure this out, esp if their salaries depend on their understanding it. You/we could strategically target taxable deductions (aka ‘loopholes’) to nudge desired behaviours, eg, carbon reduction, renewables use, ‘diversity’, going vegan, wearing organic fibers, drying clothes on a line, making the nine First Fridays — whatever.

          Sorry for the big comment, but this is a big problem, and if we get it wrong, the consequences could be dire.

          1. Alternate Delegate

            Thank you! I appreciate your ongoing effort in favor of universal material benefits rather than invidious “reparations”.

            The readership here does broadly understand the point of Michael Hudson’s motto “debts that can’t be paid, won’t be paid” when it comes to the banking sector and debt bondage. They just don’t necessarily see how that translates to a broader social context. There are many different kinds of places where everyone needs a “clean slate” once in a while.

            But even the Sumerians didn’t fix the underlying dynamic itself – they just “clean slated” the problem once every ten or twenty years. The real issue is ultimately competition itself. It is left to us to invent a new economy without debt or competition. And we will do this!

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      But when both have died, each killing the other in mutual slaughter, and the earth’s dust has swallowed the black streams of their blood, who could offer sacrifice that might make purification? Who could cleanse them of their pollution? O, the new troubles of this house mixed with its evils of before! – Aeschylus

  20. PlutoniumKun

    “Carbon pricing and the exit from fossil fuels”

    Carbon pricing almost certainly works, but it is also very regressive. In Ireland, the Greens reluctantly agreed to carbon taxes as part of their government negotiations as the better options (such as changing agriculture policies) were rejected. The advantage is that at least the money can be pushed towards more positive investments – it’s likely to be put to a programme of upgrading the energy efficiency of housing, with a focus on the poor. Governments though will be wary of fuel taxes generating a rural vs urban conflict, as rural dwellers are much heavier users of fuel. This was of course one of the seeds for the Gilet Jaunes.

    As for coal – its well and truly sunk in Europe due to cheap natural gas and renewables. In Ireland the biggest power plant in the country, the coal fired Moneypoint shut down for maintenance last autumn, and they still haven’t bothered opening it up again. At one time this plant supplied half the countries baseline power. Gas and wind are proving far cheaper.

    1. Darius

      In the US, you could offset a carbon tax by establishing a zero percent tax bracket for the first $50,000 of income.

  21. Bugs Bunny

    Re “Barclays Bank appeared to be using the Wayback Machine as a ‘CDN’ for some Javascript” [The Register]. “If web.archive.org went down, it would presumably break Barclays’

    I’ll bet a hundred bucks that an outsourcer, a resource in an office (or likely working from home now) somewhere far, far East of the City of London was responsible for this fudge to meet a deadline. Heck, a thousand bucks.

    Show me otherwise and I’ll pay.

    1. RMO

      Seems like a safe bet!

      The number of examples I’ve seen of a company spending large sums on security (physical or IT) and then doing things like leaving the passwords, combinations or keys as the factory default suggests that your idea of how it happened is likely bang on.

    1. Billy

      Instead of the Fed buying bank’s debts, after they harvest interest from the sheepwalkers, why not just buy taxpayers’ debts directly?

      1. Yves Smith


        Most American banks retain only a small portion of the consumer debts they originate. Mortgages, credit card receivables, auto loans, are all to a large degree bundled into securities and sold to investors.

        1. Billy

          What personal investor is going to risk whatever money they might still have to buy these securitized bundles of immenent failure from here on, if mortgages, credit card receivables and auto loans are less likely to be originated, with banks cutting off more and more credit, and a huge number of people unable, or refusing, to pay the debts that they have going forward in the greater Depression?

          Institutions exist to buy them of course, but how long can that go on? That is, why can’t the Fed buy the securities instead of ‘investors’ to keep the system going?

          And, if that can’t happen, because of the ownership and mission of the Fed, as you have, along with other economic galaxies magnificently explored, explained and educated to your readers for years, then screw it,
          why can’t we individual American taxpayers, heads of family or local credit unions, get a line of credit from the Fed at the same low interest rate that they charge the banks?
          And if that’s not possible, “because there is no alternative,” then eliminate the Fed, and reconfigure the Treasury to take over its roll as a creator of credit.

          BTMFD is grafittied around town. I will let you imagine what that implies for “the current system,” and the apparatus that has evolved to support and perpetuate it, which to save itself, may have to do something new, radical and self-amputating, like dumping the Fed, to preserve its member’s privileges, which is probably more acceptable than Lambert’s guillotine.

  22. Billy

    “The Glossary of Happiness” [The New Yorker].

    Untranslatables are so much fun, especially when they refer to agency and behavior.

    “El jarrón se me fue de la mano”.
    “The vase leapt from my hand”

    “Job creation programs” anyone?

  23. ptb

    re: carbon pricing, natgas vs coal (mentioned with link to Tooze article, tldr)

    Coal electric is more carbon intensive than NGCC. Thus the carbon pricing, seems to be fulfilling its function in this case.

    While they’re at it, They should throw out “biomass” as a fuel source too, since it’s also highly carbon intensive. But they probably won’t.

    Looking ahead, there is a big push to hydrogen. This is perhaps a polite way to allow another round of NG plants to be built, as they can be modified at reasonable cost to be dual-fuel (burning methane or hydrogen or a mix of the two). Presumably, these plants would be eligible for green credits and subsidies, just like biomass, whose carbon benefit is dubious IMO.

    As the Tooze exerpt says, carbon pricing, renewable credits, or any system of tradable incentives, are not a panacea. From what I understand, the reality of full or near-full decarbonization is that the govt has to subsidize every generation source, since the entire fleet of generation capacity will have low utilization, as a result of the greenest generators being, for now, intermittent (thus needing a very high multiple of peak capacity / average use, to make them the biggest slice of the pie).

  24. Carolinian

    Re Autopilot–well of course the “driver,” or if you prefer the car owner, is responsible. Why wouldn’t they be?

    Obviously automation is not going to fly unless 99 percent foolproof. And even that may not be enough.

  25. Icecube12

    What about the new bs corporate-speak words, like “deplatform” or “replatform” or whatever. Do some of those count as untranslatable American? it lacks the depth of shadenfreude, but it feels pretty distinctly American to me. I guess most corporate-speak terms use more than one word though.

    1. Ranger Rick

      You’d need some help untangling the cultural baggage before translating. First you’d start with platform, which is referring to what internet-based tech companies like to call their entire technical infrastructure operating to provide a stage upon which other peoples’ work is displayed or transmitted. To deplatform, then, is to deprive one of access to that infrastructure, or in more analogous terms, to remove someone from that stage. Due to the pervasiveness of these centralized platforms in modern society, it bears marked similarities to the more historical verb of unperson, or the ancient historical practice of shunning and exile.

  26. The Rev Kev

    “Kanye West declares he will run for US president in 2020”

    Sure, why not? Because having an entertainer as a President has worked out so well this time. The DNC objects but suddenly old Joe has a stroke when he sees a current calendar and realizes that he is actually in the 21st century. Kanya makes Kim Kardashian his Vice-Presidential candidate so to keep it in the family – a very strange, weird family. Then he wins in November.

    So one day the Presidential cavalcade is rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue, there is a routine traffic stop by police, accusations are made of a broken tail light, things get out of hand, a fight ensues when Kanya ‘lunges for a gun.’ Police, in fear of their lives, are forced to shoot him dead. So what does that leave you with?

    Ladies and Gentlemen – I present you with Madame President Kim Kardashian and her First Family.

    Hillary Clinton heard to grind her teeth.

  27. anon in so cal

    Nancy Pelosi’s husband’s firm got PPE funds:

    “The Payroll Protection Program was only supposed to go to smaller businesses. However, Nancy Pelosi’s husband’s firm received a loan between $350,000-$1M. Several other members of Congress’ businesses received loans as well.”



  28. The Rev Kev

    ‘she asked those struggling to breathe to roll onto their bellies while they waited for intubation to mechanically ventilate their inflamed lungs.” • It worked! I’m also sure we had an alert NC reader suggest just this, but I cannot find the comment.’

    Way back when this virus was exploding in northern Italy, there were films that came out showing wards where Coronavirus patients were laying on their stomachs which caused some consternation at the time. And I am not sure but I think I saw similar in Chinese wards weeks before that. So here we are talking about February and now they are thinking that this might be a good idea? Really?

    1. anon in so cal

      They’ve been doing so for a while, and even before Covid, apparently. But maybe not nation-wide?

      “Seven years ago, French doctors published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that patients with ARDS who were on ventilators had a lower chance of dying if they were placed on their stomachs in the hospital. Ever since, to varying degrees, doctors in the United States have been placing ventilated ARDS patients on their stomachs. Now they’ve doubled down on this with coronavirus patients, and it’s paying off. ”


  29. Jeff W

    “Biden builds lead as Trump goes from trailing to flailing” [Politico]. Cutesy alliterative headline from the Editor…

    Alliterative? “Biden builds…Trump…trailing”? I was more struck by the use of homoioteleuton (“trailing…failing”) myself but who really knows what the adjective is?

  30. Coldhearted Liberal

    The EU ETS has what in regulatory speak is called a “price collar,” meaning there are mechanisms that kick in when the price goes too low or the price goes too high. Also built in is a sort of schedule of price ranges over time that slowly go up, so the price really just moves around in the desired range. In addition, carbon markets all have the same feature–they are not financial markets no matter how much the banks want them to be. What I mean is, buyers are always buyers and sellers are always sellers, so the price tends to quickly find equilibrium and then be stable.

    There might be other factors, particularly the problem it had with banked allowances (allowances from previous years), but I haven’t kept up on the data/academic particulars for a while so I can’t say for sure. Basically think of the EU ETS as a Rube Goldbergian carbon tax.

  31. Wukchumni

    Hard to say which of the FAT states goes ape shit crazy first when beds run out, and the goods are odd, but odds are good people go gun nutty.

    Az: 1-1
    Fla: 2-1
    Tx: 5-2

    1. Daryl

      Houston already had a shooting over the weekend.

      I think about leaving every day now. Just not sure where I would go or whether it would improve my chances.

  32. VietnamVet

    “Links 4/5/2020 – Chest Physiotherapy (CPT) and Postural Drainage Positions Respiratory Therapy Zone (J T McPhee)”

    The testing fiasco, face mask disinformation, and this highlights the haphazard of approach to the corona pandemic. There is no central control of messaging, planning or treatment. It is a haphazard mess that’s killed 130,000 Americans already. This reference goes to the President’s reelection message that 99.9% of Americans need not worry. “Vote for me. Testing is finding new cases. There is no increase in the number of deaths per day.” Notwithstanding intensive care units being almost full in hot-spots.

    Being 77 next month, I have to ignore the propaganda to stay alive. This is a plague for our age group. I have not found the exact risk. It is something like 20% of infected being hospitalized and 10% of those dying. This is not insignificant to us individually. Except, a deadly amoral ruling philosophy is in charge that says; “The unproductive go die. The productive work to live.”

    I am sure that a younger cohort is getting infected now, there is on the job learning, and finding old/new not for-profit techniques. They are saving more lives. For the families of hospital workers and the infected, the only blessing that could come from this horror is a restored functional federal public health system.

  33. cuibono

    “Here’s the cold truth: most journalists and even their bosses aren’t mere automatons for oligarchs”
    No they aren’t. They are human beings who value having a job over speaking truth to power. And that power resides with the oligarchs.

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