2:00PM Water Cooler 7/9/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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

I’ll just keep doing this one until I see a peak followed by a decline. (Seems like the “first wave” is geographically and chronologically distributed. It will be interesting to see if and when New York starts going up again.)

CA: “Riverside County surpasses 20,000 coronavirus cases. That wasn’t supposed to happen yet” [Los Angeles Times]. “Christine Langenwalter, chief quality officer at Desert Regional Medical Center, attributes much of the case jump to summer gatherings and festivities that occurred before last weekend’s holiday. ‘Easter was one of the first holidays, but we were all sheltering in place. We had masks, and we didn’t see too much of a bump at all. Mother’s Day, we saw more of a more mild incline. But what really hit us hard is after Memorial Day,’ she said. After some Riverside County residents had gathered with friends for Memorial Day, the socializing phenomenon seemed to domino: case counts continued to rise in connection to Father’s Day gatherings and graduation ceremonies. But that wasn’t all. Throughout late May and June, nail salons, houses of worship, indoor dining and gyms began to open, said county spokeswoman Brooke Federico…. As people have gotten infected at parties and other socializing events, the average coronavirus patient has gotten younger and younger. While the majority of infected people had previously been in the 40-and-above age category, Federico said the county now tallies more cases from patients between 18 and 39. An increase in cross-household social gatherings may contribute to the trend, she said. Though many young patients without preexisting conditions recover easily, the average hospitalization age is decreasing, too.”

CA: “California seemed to do everything right. So why are COVID-19 cases surging?” [Christian Science Monitor]. “When the novel coronavirus hit the United States earlier this year, California was held up as a model of response. It was the first state to go into lockdown, on March 19, and it never experienced the heavy death toll of New York. But a recent resurgence of the virus has caused the state’s Democratic governor to reimpose restrictions – and undercuts the narrative that the spikes in several Republican-led states can largely be chalked up to “bad behavior” by their leaders, says Robert Wachter, chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco…. People need to get back into ‘a frame of mind that recognizes the magnitude of this moment,’ Governor Newsom said last week. If they don’t, he added, the state has $2.5 billion in funds it can withhold from county recalcitrants and a regulatory arm it can flex with businesses.”

FL: “Dozens of Florida hospitals out of available ICU beds, state data shows” [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. More than 300 hospitals were included in the report, but not all had adult ICUs. Thirty hospitals reported that their ICUs were more than 90% full. Statewide, only 17% of the total 6,010 adult ICU beds were available on Tuesday, down from 20% three days ago, according to the agency’s website.”

TX: “An increase in people dying at home suggests coronavirus deaths in Houston may be higher than reported” [Texas Tribune]. “As coronavirus cases surge, inundating hospitals and leading to testing shortages, a rapidly growing number of Houston-area residents are dying at home, according to an NBC News and ProPublica review of Houston Fire Department data. An increasing number of these at-home deaths have been confirmed to be the result of COVID-19, Harris County medical examiner data shows. The previously unreported jump in people dying at home is the latest indicator of a mounting crisis in a region beset by one of the nation’s worst and fastest-growing coronavirus outbreaks.” • I believe this happened in NY too; see NC here.


“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 8: Pennsylvania moves from Toss-up to Leans Democratic. Uh oh….

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): “Recommendations” [Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force]. • Dense, not even an introduction, not signed.

Biden (D)(1): “The left gets rolled on legalizing pot — and legal protections for cops” [Politico]. “On several other task forces created by Biden and Sanders, progressives celebrated Wednesday that they won concessions, nudging allies and aides to the presumptive Democratic nominee to the left on climate change, immigration and economic policy. But they struggled to persuade Biden’s team on criminal justice policy beyond what he has already embraced…. The challenges suggest that Biden’s beliefs on policies such as marijuana are strongly held.” • No, it suggests these policies aren’t popular among suburban Republicans. More: “‘You have the Biden campaign very publicly accepting a list of very progressive recommendations from quote-unquote both sides of the party and kind of making a tacit agreement that, if victorious, he’s going to work to achieve these things,’ said [Analilia Mejia, Sanders’ political director who oversaw the task forces]. ‘Irrespective of not being able to transform Joe Biden into Bernie Sanders, I honestly believe that this would be the framework for a progressive policy agenda across six vital issues. So I do think it’s a win.'” • I think this sort of attitude is silly, though I understand why Mejia says what she says. Obama didn’t stand up Biden to strengthen the left, but to destroy the left. From an entryist, mind you:

Biden (D)(2): “Bernie: Joint task force policies will make Biden ‘most progressive president since FDR'” (video) [NBC]. “Sen. Sanders on Biden-Sanders unity task force recommendations: ‘I think the compromise that they came up with, if implemented, will make Biden the most progressive president since FDR.'” • That’s a pretty low bar, and I don’t see Biden’s domestic proposals as on a par with LBK’s Medicare or civil rights legislation, either. (Granted, LBJ could be seen to have netted out negative because of Vietnam.)

Biden (D)(3): “Democratic task forces send Biden a progressive policy roadmap” [NBC]. “A review of the 110-page document provided to NBC News in advance of its public release offers fresh evidence of how the Biden campaign, having held firmly to the center in a Democratic primary that began with a record field of candidates racing to the left, is open to some — but not all — of the progressive wing’s approaches as he prepares for the general election campaign… Each camp saw mutual benefit in the arrangement: for Biden, smoothing a process to win over the Vermont senator’s most ardent supporters and avoid the intraparty tension that plagued Hillary Clinton’s 2016 candidacy; and for Sanders, a guaranteed seat at the table on policy and personnel that would ensure that his “movement” lasted beyond his candidacy.” • Maybe.

Biden (D)(4): “6 Takeaways From the Biden-Sanders Joint Task Force Proposals” [New York Times]. “The task force also recommends special insurance options for people during the coronavirus pandemic. For those who lost coverage because they became unemployed, the task force suggests that the federal government pay the full cost of continuing that coverage under the federal law known as the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA. People without previous coverage would be allowed to buy a new plan with no deductible, at a price determined by their income, or an existing Obamacare plan.” • What crap. At the very best, which this isn’t, it would be #MedicareForAll for this one pandemic. Which is absurd.

Biden (D)(5): “Biden-Bernie Sanders Unity Task Forces release DNC platform recommendations” [ABC]. “Also on the task force were several rumored vice presidential contenders such as Reps. Karen Bass of California and Marcia Fudge of Ohio.” • Hmm.

UPDATE Biden (D)(6): “”We’ve Moved the Needle” But Far More Work to Do, Say Progressives as Biden-Sanders Panels Unveil Policy Blueprint” [Common Dreams]. “The climate panel—co-chaired by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and former Secretary of State John Kerry—recommended that the Democratic Party commit to ‘eliminating carbon pollution from power plants by 2035,’ massively expanding investments in clean energy sources, and ‘achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for all new buildings by 2030.’ In a series of tweets Wednesday night, Ocasio-Cortez—the lead sponsor of the House Green New Deal resolution—noted that the Climate Task Force ‘shaved 15 years off Biden’s previous target for 100% clean energy.'” • If the “previous target” was real. I suppose one can make the argument that treating the target as real makes it real.

Biden (D)(7): “How Biden’s Foreign-Policy Team Got Rich” [The American Prospect]. “If ‘personnel is policy,’ as Sen. Elizabeth Warren likes to say, we can learn a lot about Biden from his team. In addition to Blinken, advisers include Nicholas Burns (The Cohen Group), Kurt Campbell (The Asia Group), Tom Donilon (BlackRock Investment Institute), Wendy Sherman (Albright Stonebridge Group), Julianne Smith (WestExec Advisors), and Jake Sullivan (Macro Advisory Partners). They rarely discuss their connections to corporate power, defense contactors, private equity, and hedge funds, let alone disclose them. I asked a Biden spokesperson if the campaign would commit to more transparency and expand the Obama-era pledge to strategic consultants. ‘There’s a difference between consulting and lobbying,’ he told me. ‘There’s a pretty strong line there … So, presumably we don’t have a ban on people who were consultants at one time or another, since I’m one myself.'” • Oh.

Biden (D)(8): “The Proxy War Over a Top Biden Adviser” [Daily Beast]. • Avril Haines. Torturers are good, actually. If they’re [x] women.

Cuomo (D)(1) : “How Mario Cuomo Taught Andrew Cuomo to Screw Democrats” [Ross Barkan]. “At least Mario, unlike his son, believed in keeping Democrats in power, right? A foil to Reagan, in theory, wanted to see a more progressives in office. But an examination of news reports, particularly the New York Times’ excellent archive, tells a far different story—if Andrew Cuomo spent almost a decade actively thwarting Democratic ambitions to take control of the State Senate, he was only doing what his own father had done, without the flourish of helping to create a quasi-corrupt third Senate conference…. The forgotten roadblock was Mario Cuomo. Cuomo, though widely popular in the state, failed to aggressively campaign for State Senate Democrats or raise money for them. He never meaningfully opposed Al D’Amato, the longtime Republican senator, who was the power broker of the New York GOP throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The two men, it was long reported, had a nonaggression pact. Cuomo would manage a similar arrangement with Albany Republicans.”

Trump (R)(1): “Supreme Court says Manhattan prosecutor may pursue Trump’s financial records, denies Congress access for now” [WaPo]. “The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected President Trump’s assertion that he enjoys absolute immunity from investigation while in office, allowing a New York prosecutor to pursue a subpoena of the president’s private and business financial records. In a separate case, the court sent a fight over congressional subpoenas for the material back to lower courts because of “significant separation of powers concerns.” Since both cases involve more work at the lower level, it seems unlikely the records would be available to the public before the election…. The majority came up with a new four-part test for courts to analyze the validity of subpoenas aimed at the president.”

Trump (R)(2): “Why this area may seal Trump’s 2020 fate” [CNN]. “The path to the White House for Republican presidential candidates almost always goes through the suburbs. Since 1972, every GOP candidate elected president has won the suburban vote, according to exit polling. That’s Richard Nixon in 1972, Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984, George H.W. Bush in 1988, George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 and, yes, Donald Trump in 2016. (Trump beat Hillary Clinton 49% to 45% among suburban voters.) (Sidebar: Mitt Romney in 2012 was the only Republican presidential candidate to win the suburban vote — 50% to 48% over Barack Obama — and lose the election*). That correlation should be deeply concerning to not just Trump but any Republican on the ballot right about now. Why? Because the revolt against Trump in the suburbs, which was at the center of Democrats’ retaking of the House majority in the 2018 midterms appears to be showing no signs of slowing.” • NOTE • This would suggest that “The Obama Coalition” was a thing — just not a coalition (which has now vanished as if it had never been. Sucks to be you, Ruy Tuxiera.)

UPDATE “A President Who Makes Us Puke—Just Like He Was Hired To Do” [Politico]. “It is not intended as an insult to President Donald Trump to observe that he is the political equivalent of ipecac syrup. Looked at in a certain light, it is closer to a compliment. His supporters gave him power in 2016 because they believed the body politic was beset with toxins—an overdose of fecklessness and hypocrisy—and in need of a purge. Trump vowed to channel the contempt his supporters felt toward the established order, and pledged plausibly to send the old order into a state of convulsive disarray….. A second Trump term is in doubt not only because of Trump’s failures but in an important sense because of his success. The ipecac has been swallowed, and its effects have already come vividly to pass. If the promise of disruption—carried out in language and gestures of pervasive contempt—was why he won the job, then Trump is as entitled as any recent president to stand beneath a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner.” • I’ve been calling Trump a catylist for some time, but this metaphor is more vivid.

* * *

“How United Are Democrats? A 96-0 Data Point Offers a Hint” [Nate Cohn, New York Times]. “One reason Mr. Biden does not face the kind of rejection Mrs. Clinton saw is the changing composition of the Sanders vote. In 2016, Mr. Sanders won significant support from relatively conservative, white, rural voters. These voters were no socialists, and it’s an open question how many genuinely supported Mr. Sanders or merely voted in protest of Mrs. Clinton.” • Cohn offers no evidence for this claim; it’s at least as likely that such voters responded to Sanders’ 2016 economic focus more than they did to Sander’s more idpol-focused 2020 campaign (and is the Hispanic vote worth a mass? I don’t know). For example, Sanders lost the Iowa rural counties near the Missisippi — which flipped to Trump in 2016 — to Buttigieg in 2020; social conservative they were not. I agree, however, that Biden was not hated in the same way that Clinton was.

UPDATE “Afro-Latino Ritchie Torres Wants to Be the Future of Congress, Where Old Fashioned Rules” [Newsweek]. “[Ritchie Torres] said as an Afro-Latino, he will formally seek membership in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and lambasted a rule prohibiting him from joining the Congressional Black Caucus at the same time.” • Crazy talk. Everybody knows that identities are siloes. They don’t overlap because they are pure essences. That’s why you have a white working class but not a black working class, let alone a working class.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“First the People” [Rusty Guinn, Epsilon Theory (anon in so cal). Who knew, the COVID-19 debacle in the United States involves WHO, FDA, CDC, Universities, Media, Corporate Boards, Wall Street, Congress, and Donald Trump. This passage caught my eye:

Friends, for the first time in any of our lifetimes, everyone around us is seeing the same things that we are seeing about the same institutions. They know the same things we know. We may all observe in real-time the brokenness of a fragile economic system built on the present-efficient tools of the Long Now, the over-optimization of cash, inventory, supply chains, operating and financial leverage. We may all observe in real-time how complexity makes liars out of global institutions designed with political pacification of the masses (“All is well!”) as their primary purpose. We may all observe in real-time the condescending moral bankruptcy of the nudging state who would tell us noble lies to conserve masks and limit fear or “moral hazard”, or the nudging oligarchy who would lie that saving companies and jobs means that we must bail out equityholders! Before long, we will observe in real-time both politicians and corporations who see long-term benefits in making permanent the temporary restrictions on liberty we have accepted and will accept to protect us and transition us back to a functioning economy.

Far more importantly, however, we may all see in real-time how the strength we have shown as a nation did not come from faceless institutions, but from the efforts and sacrifices of individuals, families, associations, communities, towns and tribes, connected by both the value they place in each other AND by the values they share.

As a meliorist, I find this pleasing. And I agree.

And speaking of seeing the same things:

The political class is fine with deaths of despair, or they would be a campaign issue:Trump has been pretty nice about this, for a well-known white supremacist.

It’s only a matter of which eschatology to choose:

(Not sure about the Funker Vogt video though. Maybe somebody more metal (?) than I am can say whether one should handle with waldos or not. Sounds pretty doomy.)

* * *

“More than 18,000 mail ballots not counted in Florida’s March presidential primary” [Tampa Bay Times]. “More than 18,000 Floridians who voted by mail in March’s presidential primary did not have their votes counted, according to an analysis done by a group of national elections experts and academics. The numbers of uncounted mail ballots, while relatively small, could prove crucial come November in a state known for razor-thin margins and at a time when voters are migrating in greater numbers to mail ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic…. [Y]ounger and first-time voters, as well as Black and Hispanic voters, were more likely to have mail ballots that didn’t end up getting counted.”

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.

Employment Situation: “04 July 2020 Initial Unemployment Claims 1,314,000 This Week” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 1,150 K to 1,380 K (consensus 1,330 K), and the Department of Labor reported 1,314,000 new claims…. According to the BLS: ‘The COVID-19 virus continues to impact the number of initial claims and insured unemployment.'”

UPDATE “Nearly 11% of the workforce is out of work with no reasonable chance of getting called back to a prior job” [Economic Policy Institute]. “In May, the official unemployment rate was 13.3%. However, the unemployment rate that takes into account all those who are out of work as a result of the virus was 19.7%, and the unemployment rate that includes only those who are out of work and don’t have a reasonable chance of being called back to a prior job was 10.7%…. All three of these unemployment rates are extremely elevated across all demographic groups. However, the highest rates are found among Black and brown workers, women, and particularly Hispanic, Asian, and Black women. Young workers and workers with lower levels of education have also been hit disproportionately hard…. Another group of workers who are left out of the official unemployment rate are those who are out of work as a result of the virus but are not actively seeking work.”

Wholesale Sales: “May 2020 Headline Wholesale Sales and Inventories Remain In Recession Territory” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say wholesale sales were up month-over-month with inventory levels remaining very elevated. Our analysis shows a decline in the rate of growth for the rolling averages…. This data was significantly affected by the coronavirus…. This data set is considered an outlier and may have issues with data gathering, changing dynamics of the wholesale industry, or definition issues with what is considered wholesale.”

Capex: “Companies seen slashing capex 12% this year, deeper than in 2009: data” [Reuters]. “The predicted cut is bigger than the 11.3% decline that occurred in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis and would be the steepest drop in the 14 years for which data compiled by Refinitiv is available. ‘For many firms the near-death experience of the lockdown – where cash flows have simply dried up – will have a long-run effect on their willingness to take risks and invest,’ said Keith Wade, chief economist at British asset manager Schroders. ‘Weaker investment will also hamper a recovery in productivity and reinforce the outcome of slower GDP growth.’ … By sector, energy, consumer discretionary and real estate were seen taking the biggest axes to capital expenditure with cuts of 25%, 23% and 20% forecasted respectively.”

UPDATE Data: “Economic Data Tracking Trends and New Tools” [Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis]. “Fortova highlighted two new dashboards of charts for tracking key economic and financial data. The economic data dashboard includes initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits. The financial data dashboard has information on markets, such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average stock market indicator…. Another innovative introduction has been the launch of a map feature for data series with geographic traits.” • I should start playing with FRED, I think.

* * *

UPDATE Retail: “Dunkin’ will permanently close 450 store locations by the end of 2020” [Today]. “Dunkin’, the coffee and doughnut chain formally known as Dunkin’ Donuts, is set to permanently shutter 450 locations by the end of this year. The stores permanently closing, however, are all located in Speedway gas stations. The closure announcement follows the termination of the coffee chain’s partnership with Hess, which was acquired by Speedway in 2014.” • I thought it was all the cops quitting….

UPDATE Manufacturing: “Tesla’s ‘jaw-dropping’ second-quarter deliveries send shares surging” [Reuters]. “Tesla delivered 90,650 vehicles during the quarter, significantly above estimates for 74,130 vehicles, according to Refinitiv data. It delivered 80,050 units of its new Model Y sport utility vehicle and Model 3 for the quarter. The company did not break out deliveries by model or country, but Chinese vehicle registrations showed accelerating consumer demand for the Model 3 sedan. Nearly 16,200 Teslas were registered in China in April and May combined, with June figures still outstanding. The company is also ramping up output at its Shanghai vehicle factory, where it aims to produce 150,000 vehicles by the end of this year. The Shanghai plant was only briefly impacted by coronavirus shutdowns in late January and early February. Tesla’s only U.S. vehicle factory — in California, where the bulk of its vehicles is currently produced — was shut down for some six weeks during the quarter, heeding local orders to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. While vehicle deliveries increased 2.5% on a quarterly basis, production dropped nearly 20%.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 55 Neutral (previous close: 52 Neutral;) [CNN]. One week ago: 50 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 9 at 12:31pm. Mr. Market is about as exciting as a television tuned to a dead channel.

Health Care

“Floyd protests teach scientists a lesson: COVID ‘superspreads’ more indoors than out” [McClatchy]. “A month after mass demonstrations against racial injustice filled city streets across America, epidemiologists and a McClatchy analysis of COVID-19 case data suggest the protests did not lead to dramatic increases in transmission, providing further insight into what does — and doesn’t — lead the coronavirus to spread…. Some metropolitan areas such as Miami, Dallas and Boise have seen increased case counts and ‘positivity rates’ — the percentage of coronavirus tests that come back positive — since May 25. But other cities that had some of the largest protests, such as Minneapolis, Chicago, Washington and New York, have actually seen a decline in case counts and prevalence of the virus, as measured by the percentage of positive tests…. The recent data has led epidemiologists to question whether large outdoor gatherings have served as the “superspreader” events they initially feared — and is providing them with further evidence that major coronavirus spreading events are occurring primarily at indoor facilities.” • And–

“Tulsa health official says Trump rally ‘likely contributed’ to spike in coronavirus cases” [CBS]. “A top health official in Tulsa said Wednesday that President Trump’s campaign rally in the city in late June, as well as the protests that accompanied it, “more than likely contributed” to a spike in coronavirus cases in the area. ‘In the past few days, we’ve seen almost 500 new cases, and we had several large events just over two weeks ago, so I guess we just connect the dots,’ Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart told reporters on Wednesday.” • Politics aside, I wonder what’s going on, here? Indoor stadiums aren’t bat caves, like bars; they’re too big. I can think of five differences: 1) The marchers I saw were mostly masked; the rally attendees were not; 2) indoor stadium air is recirculated, unlike marches outside; 3) stadia have chokepoints where people tend to build up, as for example at the gates, in bathrooms (fecal transmission), or in lines exiting; 4) marches tend to be under the sun, stadiums have artificial light; 5) in marches people are moving; in stadiums groups are stationary, and morever with the same group for an extended period; this last would be especially conducive to building up a dose of the virus.

“COVID-19 Updates – 127 Yard Sale (2020)” [127 Yard Sale]. The world’s longest yard sale: “As a mostly outdoor event, there is more than enough space to allow for social distancing at the 127 Yard Sale. With the help of all participants, this event will go on while protecting the safety and health of everyone…. In addition to providing essential outdoor recreation, fun, and enjoyment, this event takes place in mostly rural areas in the states where the route passes through. Many of the vendors who participate earn a significant portion of their yearly income at this event. It also provides a significant positive economic impact to many hotels, motels, RV parks & campgrounds, restaurants, and other retail businesses. This year more than ever these businesses desperately need the revenue generated during the 127 Yard Sale.” • Hello, deindustrialization…

Class Warfare


Correct, and a bit odd, considering Slavitt’s party is, at the very least, practicing benign neglect of “essential worlkers” (although, of course, all workers are essential).

News of the Wired

I’m not feeling wired today.

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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 (TH):

TH writes; “This is from a very tiny little barrel cactus type fellow in our Westminster, California front yard. This is the second time in a month that it has bloomed. IThe fact that I watered it last week for the first time in too long, might have something to do with it’s inspiration to bloom again.)”

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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. juliania

      Well, that looks more like a cholla than a barrel cactus – is that what you mean?

  1. Billy

    Jo6Pac, what? You can’t see the 10 legged spider in the middle?


    No Medicare For Me?
    No votes for thee.

      1. edmondo

        I agree, however, that Biden was not hated in the same way that Clinton was.

        Yet. C.mon man. The guy will hit his peak popularity on January 20th and it will be all downhill from there. Seriously, A pandemic and an economic depression? Not with Obama World running things.

  2. allan

    Draining the swamp, one attempted bribe at a time.

    From former US Attorney for SDNY Geoffrey Berman’s prepared testimony today
    before the House Judiciary committee:

    … The Attorney General pressed me to take the Civil
    Division position, saying that the role would be a good
    resume builder. He said that I should want to create a
    book of business once I returned to the private sector,
    which that role would help achieve.
    He also stated that I
    would just have to sit there for five months and see who
    won the election before deciding what came next for me. …

    If that’s not quid pro quo, the phrase has lost all meaning.

      1. allan

        If a personnel decision at the highest reaches of DOJ doesn’t qualify as an “official act”,
        then it’s truly game over. But I never want to hear anybody complain about “banksters” again.

  3. Jason Boxman

    Just got an errant text I mistook as from the Biden campaign, asking for who I wanted to see as VP. It’s a long poll, so they’re clearly blowing smoke up everyone’s rear. It goes A to K! (With L as Other.) It includes the usual suspects; It’s curiously not in alphabetical order, so the top 5 are:

    A Abrams
    B Demings
    C Lance Bottoms
    D Baldwin
    E Whitmer

    But also

    F Susan Rice
    G Duckworth
    H Warren
    I Michelle Lujan Grisham
    J Gina Raimondo
    K Harris
    L Other

    For what that’s worth.

    Didn’t read to the end — It is a scam; It’s from the Stop Trump Pac. So they’re grifting. It’s an email collection form. So they can troll for dollars when they ‘announce’ the results.

    The text message doesn’t identifier itself or what campaign it’s from, either.

    It’s gonna be a fun campaign season!

    1. John

      Biden is pushing 80. Brings to mind the possibility he might not complete his term. In what way are these prospective vice-presidents, ready to step into the presidency or is that not a consideration in this year of grace?

      1. a different chris

        Nah don’t get your hopes up politicians live freakin’ forever nowadays. It’s a class bennie, of course.

      2. a different chris

        Arrgh I wish but sadly, don’t bet anything more than a beer on it. The upper crust of the upper class, which is what a Senator is regardless of wealth, live a very long time now.

        It’s surprisingly hard to find the ages of Congresspersons, but there is a page with the 10 oldest:


        Every one of them is older now than Biden will be at the end of 4 years.

      3. albrt

        I don’t think Biden will complete the campaign, let alone the term.

        My prediction stands – whichever party jettisons their stupid, corrupt, racist, demented nominee first will win.

      4. GettingTheBannedBack

        Whoever gets the VP gig will be the person judged by corporate America to be the “safe pair of hands”. So that when the inevitable happens…..

        I wouldn’t be betting on anybody who is “woke”. Or who has expoused any initiatives for ordinary people for the past 50 years.
        So the winner will be a hawk internationally, a supporter of private healthcare, private schools, cutting social security asap, cutting laws that oversee business. Perhaps a bit of fraud on the side to make them controllable by donors. How is clone tech going?

    2. mle detroit

      Kathleen Parker in the WaPo the other day had a good argument for Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s “special advisor for intergovernmental affairs” and active godmother to his entire political career. Yeah, an Obama Alum, and maybe she’s the one who advised him to glom onto Geithner and the banksters. But anyone on that list is going to be an establishment centrist and Jarrett at least knows exactly what the entire job is.

  4. Carla

    “Biden was not hated in the same way that Clinton was.”

    I just want to go on the record as hating Biden in the same way I hated Clinton, and for the same reasons.

    Ditto, Obama, with the added fillip of disappointment. I was silly and naive enough to have cautious, tentative hopes for Obama — for about a month into his term…

    I have never been silly or naive enough to have any hopes for either Clinton or Biden.

    1. nippersmom

      I second this, although my frail hopes for Obama were dashed when he announced his transition team and started filling his cabinet.

      1. Phacops

        I’ll second that, though the hit of hopium only lasted until his economic team was announced. Knowing what that meant for ordinary people, I was banned from KOS for suggesting that Obama is the new Hoover for his disdain of American workers.

        1. anEnt

          “Personnel is policy”

          But also:

          “The means are the ends.”

          Torture is policy and an end unto itself, as is war.

          the strength we have shown as a nation did not come from faceless institutions, but from the efforts and sacrifices of individuals, families, associations, communities, towns and tribes, connected by both the value they place in each other AND by the values they share.

          As a meliorist, I find this pleasing. And I agree.

          You’re sounding a bit libertarian here. :p

      2. HotFlash

        I bailed when he voted to immunize the telecoms. He didn’t need to do that, the votes were there already, but he ‘sent a message’ — to the telecoms, and they got it.

      3. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        People who voted for Trump felt precisely the same when Mnuchin’s name popped up on the screen. He’s another Timmy.

      4. sj

        Yup. I hated Biden far longer than I did HRC. I’ve known who he was since Anita Hill, and I wasn’t even that plugged in to politics at that point.

        But ’tis true that while the Biden hate may be virulent, it isn’t as widespread as the Clinton hate. Nor has it been fanned for 20 years. Although we would have all been better served if it had.

    2. Samuel Conner

      I believe I read at NC some weeks or perhaps months ago that Sanders rejected the idea that his unexpectedly good 2016 primary performance vs HRC was due in part to widespread dislike of HRC among the D primary electorate. This article reinforces that idea. It’s a little disheartening to think that the reasons for Sanders (relative) primary success overlap with the reasons for DJT’s general election success.

      I agree re: attitude toward Biden. But it doesn’t seem to be widely shared, which may be a good thing depending on who the VP pick is.

      1. HotFlash

        A non sequitur, Mr. Connor, but thank you for being here at NC. I appreciate your observations and thoughts. I raise a beverage in your direction!

    3. dcblogger

      The Republican hate machine spent 25 years manufacturing anti-Hillary stories. People believed them. They have not bothered to do this to Biden. People are not psychologically invested in hating Biden.

      1. periol

        Hillary should have gone around sniffing hair. That would have fixed everything.

        Just curious, which machine was it that memory-holed Tara Reade?

      2. russell1200

        Hillary deserved her hatred.

        I actually hated Biden long before I ever hated Hillary. But Hillary tied with him around last election and has passed him(by a lot) post 2016.

        But I did vote for Hillary over Trump, and will vote Biden over Trump.

        Be nice to have a better choice.

        Since Obama comes up. I don’t hate him. But I don’t think much of him either. I put him at a bit better than W., but less than H.

          1. sierra7

            “…. lesser of the two evils is working in your case.”
            That is precisely the only strategy left for the middle class crushing Democrat party……..They still don’t get it!

            To others still possibly enamored with HRC:
            She is just plain psycho!
            Her actions while Qaddafi was being murderously sodomized was glee and stupidity with her exclamation of:
            “We came, we saw, he died!”

            We don’t have presidents any more; we have despots.

      3. rowlf

        The Trump campaign ads on broadcast TV are not showing Biden’s good side. On the Atlanta channels there is a Trump ad with Biden commenting on his crime bills. “We do everything but hang people for jaywalking in this bill.”

        1. The Rev Kev

          And this is what Trump will do for the next several months. Just feature Joe Biden in his own words saying what he has done to Americans. Jimmy Dore has featured some zingers on his videos of Joe being corrupt, racist and despicable.

          1. Procopius

            Have you searched YouTube for “creepy uncle joe” yet? The most amazing thing is the (non) reactions of the parents of the children involved.

  5. diptherio

    Since you’re not feeling wired, I’ll share this one, from Cory Doctrow:


    I am an AI skeptic. I am baffled by anyone who isn’t.

    I don’t see any path from continuous improvements to the (admittedly impressive) ”machine learning” field that leads to a general AI any more than I can see a path from continuous improvements in horse-breeding that leads to an internal combustion engine.

    Not only am I an AI skeptic, I’m an automation-employment-crisis skeptic. That is, I believe that even if we were – by some impossible-to-imagine means – to produce a general AI tomorrow, we would still have 200-300 years of full employment for every human who wanted a job ahead of us.

    I’m talking about climate change, of course.

    1. Synoia

      One of the problems with Artificial Intelligence is that in needs a firm foundation on real intelligence based on proven knowledge.

      It cannot be based in the current complex web of deceit.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      I’ve been working with AI guys for a while. It’s not AI. It’s big databases and relational analysis software that maps out similarities in the dataset. Humans get involved too (capcha). Because we have a lot of computing power and tons of data (and humans) on the Internet, it looks pretty impressive. When you ask them what’s under the hood, well, mostly garbage. Stuff scraped from social networks and YouTube. Lots of errors. Doesn’t mean it won’t improve though. It sure shouldn’t be making life or death decisions. Probably ever.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          I read somewhere that AI’s best hope is probably to let the algo itself re-write its own code in its own way, feed/let it find data, and wait. The presumption was that the resulting code would eventually become undecipherable by humans, so that the resulting computing essentially occurs within a black box that can’t be seen,read, hacked or really even understood. What’s the worst that could happen?

          1. Anonymous

            The current Von Neumann architecture for most computers are too rigid to be used for any useful AI implementation.

            Until another architecture is invented, we can make do with more data and faster silicon.

      1. curlydan

        great description of AI! I work with machine learning, too. It’s a lot of talk, a little action, and a ton of borrowed code.

    3. LawnDart


      if you haven’t read it yet, check out Doctorow’s “Radicalized” (four short stories by CD). I finished that and “Little Brother” a day or two ago.

      I think many readers might appreciate his approach towards health care reform– there’s nothing incremental about it.

  6. jo6pac

    “Sen. Sanders on Biden-Sanders unity task force recommendations: ‘I think the compromise that they came up with, if implemented, will make Biden the most progressive president since FDR.’” • That’s a pretty low bar, and I don’t see Biden’s domestic proposals as on a par with LBJ’s Medicare or civil rights legislation, either. (Granted, LBJ could be seen to have netted out negative because of Vietnam.)”

    If any one thinks the progressives will get anything after biden is elected, dream on. It will be just like obomber had progressives on his pre-election cabinet and then installing a wall street war friendly cabinet the day after taking over as potus.

    In other news I finally see the water cooler page:-)

    1. Pelham

      Agreed about Biden’s post-election commitment. How quickly we forget Obama’s miserable record!

      As for the task forces, given the fact that we’re in the midst of a GLOBAL PANDEMIC killing hundreds of thousands, the Sanders participants should have assigned non-negotiable make-or-break status to one issue, Medicare for All. Failing to get it, they should have declared the entire effort a failure and found a way to get really tough. Easier said than done, though.

      But good heavens! Americans dropping dead like flies and after 70-plus years of trying we still can’t get decent medical coverage.

      1. JBird4049

        IIRC, the first attempts at national healthcare for all were during Theodore, not Franklin Delano, Roosevelt’s administration. That would make almost a 120 years of trying.

        TR, FDR, Harry Truman, LBJ, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton all tried to get something like M4A and Truman almost succeeded. Six capable presidents of which at least three were modestly progressive.

        All were blocked in part by cries of Socialism, Communism, Bolsheviks, Marxism, and Stalinism. All used like holy incantations against Satan himself.

        This probably is going to get you madder, but I do tend towards the pedantic, and it is better to have a good idea of the opposition, however irrational they might act. It’s worked for over a century or nearly two full lifetimes. Stuff like this makes me think of revolution although that would be a horrible path no matter how successful it might be.

    2. Kurtismsyfield

      I see that checklist in the tweet as footballs to be sealed away in Congress, probably to someone in their own party who is from a red state.

      Maybe we will see 15 an hour.. in 2028. Those other two proposals are DOA.. Medicare for all has a higher chance of passing.

      1. Duck1

        It is all a trial balloon announcing that the dry powder is now being stored in the chambers that exist beneath the sidelines. When Prez Biden unveils his smoke and mirrors, and Hunter grabs a mirror to hoover a few lines, the cheerleaders in congress will puncture the balloon and open a few cans of catfood. The knife in the back will be twisted as social security is chained and the hippies are whipped by Pelosi. Shorter version, them Sandernistas wuz rolled.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      “Sen. Sanders on Biden-Sanders unity task force recommendations: ‘I think the compromise that they came up with, if implemented, will make Biden the most progressive president since FDR.’”
      I think the Biden-Sanders unity task force has nicely debased whatever value was left in the Sanders coin — which was but small value after Sanders vote on the CARES Act. I will probably still write in Bernie Sanders for my vote for president in the final election, but only to stifle someone voting for me over my undercount vote.

    4. MichaelSF

      Would this be a case where we say “if implemented” is doing a lot of work? Promises are easy, implementation, not so much.

    5. Procopius

      I would call FDR a pretty high bar, Biden doesn’t come close, and I’m disappointed in Bernie for saying something as stupid as that. I’d say Biden doesn’t get higher than FDR’s shoelaces. Much closer to Warren Harding.

  7. JWP

    I’ve started seeing a lot of logical conclusions from my conservative friends, showing they might be more open to progressive ideas because they aren’t that radical and fit with . Two great examples:
    On private security forces in Minneapolis..”only so many people can afford to have private security, what about the rest of us?”…my response was too point out the same argument is why m4a is necessary.
    On companies talking about BLM “who are they to take the high road when they (Nike) profits off of sweatshops”…argument makes itself.
    We aren’t much different in how we think, just takes looking behind the crap spewed by the powers that be.
    All the more reason for the progressives to reach out to the working class right and welcome them with open arms as well as run for seats from the right in areas where being a dam is an automatic mark of death.

    1. JWP

      And seeing Biden put weed aside is as stupid as it gets. Massive approval rating across party lines. Doesn’t matter who you vote for when you’re having a nice toke at the end of the day, especially if you have chronic pain (mental or physical).

      1. Hepativore

        Yes, and to see Biden take Medicare For All off of the table immediately during a pandemic is also catastrophically idiotic but he is still going to do it despite Medicare For All having overwhelming public support across the entire political spectrum.

        The point of the Unity Commissions is to give the appearance that he is willing to listen to progressive ideas while working hard to undermine them all the way or blowing the political left off outright. What can you expect from a candidate who is reaching out to Republican superPACs? After all, he is getting economic advice from Larry Summers as we speak.

        1. HotFlash

          Yes, and to see Biden take Medicare For All off of the table immediately during a pandemic is also catastrophically idiotic but he is still going to do it despite Medicare For All having overwhelming public support across the entire political spectrum.

          You write as if Biden has agency.

    2. Off The Street

      Those logical conclusions can be across the spectrum. One failing of campaigns past and present has been to politicize, often to extremes, what should be common-sense propositions. If and when people are presented with rational arguments, stripped of jargon, those can be powerful topics to discuss around that old kitchen table. Why not try, especially given how much more time people have to spend at home?

    3. a different chris

      Once upon a time, probably still, middle aged idiots always liked to grin and say “a conservative is a liberal who just got mugged”.

      I think “a liberal is a conservative who just lost his health care”. I think we can extend that, though, to “or who just saw somebody like him lose his heath care”.

      And most everybody is now afraid of the cops.

      Finally, once again the reason you see all those young white people out there is, yeah they are good-hearted and worried about their black friends, but underlying that maybe even subconsciously is they never wanted to have to live off their parents, and don’t see it as exactly a good long term plan. It’s time to storm the gates basically. Grievances are never singular, the Founding Fathers came up with like 27 of them.

    4. HotFlash

      a lot of logical conclusions from my conservative friends

      Yeah, me too. I have a very staunch Libertarian friend who is very caring toward his family and close friends. We agree on most policies, it is just that I define “family and close friends” more broadly than he does.

    5. Amfortas the hippie

      “…All the more reason for the progressives to reach out to the working class right and welcome them with open arms…”

      the newest pavlovian button pushing by the Righty Machinery has, at least for now, undone this in my proverbial Feed Store Symposia.
      It’s like after 9-11, somewhat….and a lot like the Teabilly Madness after Obama got elected.
      Fear is subsumed, because it’s uncomfortable, and feels wimpy(and that cohort has long been conditioned to see fear as weakness)…so it’s pushed down by aggressive Display, like an old, wounded and arthritic Silverback waving a branch threateningly.
      Up until “Masks=Unamerican communist fool”, I had been having a good run(since at least 2015) of bridging the cognitive gap with my small-c conservative neighbors….pointing out things like how the Bosses have Unions(Chamber of Commerce), so why can’t we…or the obvious disconnect between “dignity of work” and no living wages….or “we can’t afford it” vs. Wall Street Bailouts and the Five Sided Hole where the money all goes in Arlington.
      it’s sad how easily they have been swallowed yet again by the siren song of fox/etc.
      I cannot compete with Twitter/FB/Fox, sadly.

      1. JBird4049

        It could be fear that is your nemesis. Acknowledging the need for mask to fight a disease that does not know or care about anything but reproduction possibly by killing you if need be. How do you fight it? And if “those” people were right about the masks, could they be right about other things you want to be true?

  8. L

    With respect to the unity commissions and their disappointing results the thing is I think it comes down to how much you believe in platforms. What these unity commissions, and to a broader extent the fight over delegates for “suspended” campaigns boils down to is who sets the party rules and the party platform.

    If you believe that platforms have power, then the fight is worthwhile.

    If like me you believe that donors have power, then it is not.

    Personally I see this as an attempt to carve out a platform, and to extent some tractable common ground. But I also know that party platforms call for a lot of things that are pure PR and are never allowed to go anyplace at all. By that standard the fact that the “Unity commission” could not even agree to pretend to take the climate emergency seriously is not just disappointing, it is horrific.

    It suggests that even the modest PR gains made here will not come to pass. And, just to read the tea leaves, the fact that it is unsigned suggests that what little agreement there was was so partial and vague that the participants did not want to have their fingerprints visible, lest they be held to account. By that standard this is not agreement, or even the appearance thereof.

    1. Mark K

      There doesn’t appear to have been a “unity” task force on foreign policy. That fact in and of itself speaks volumes to me.

      1. pjay

        Yes. No need for a “unity” task force for an issue on which the party, indeed the entire Establishment duopoly, is already unified.

        Interestingly, it seems Trump (the outsider) is the only one who won’t get with the program, at least not fully — which is why he has been subjected to a relentless soft-coup effort for four years.

    2. a different chris

      That’s fair enough, in fact I agree, but you gotta try something.

      Also we lil’ people are becoming donors, thanks to the Sanders campaign. Problem is 10 big donors can get together in a back room and agree on precise stuff, whereas 10,000 little donors can out-donate them but are unlikely to be able to settle on much specific.

      1. HotFlash

        10,000 little donors can out-donate them but are unlikely to be able to settle on much specific

        How about $15 minimum wage, Medicare for All, Green New Deal? We gave Bernie our $$ b/c of his policies, those policies are still there. Twisting in the wind, maybe, but there.

  9. Ignacio

    RE: CA: “Riverside County surpasses 20,000 coronavirus cases. That wasn’t supposed to happen yet”

    So it looks that when Trump says “this [Covid 19] will just disappear” he is just reflecting the thinking of many Americans: “it has passed, [in the case of Californians almost without damage] we can return to normal”. I think Xi Jinping would agree on this: “if we are tough enough, this will disappear”. I regret to say that given the scale of the epidemic it has just become endemic. Getting rid of SARS CoV 2 is a tall order.

    1. jonboinAR

      I think the whole country could have gotten away with returning 75 – 80% (You know, something like that.) of the way back to normal had we all just shown enough discipline (and willingness to sacrifice just a friggin’ speck of “muh freedum!!) to wear masks whenever we were around other people. Oh, and sorry, but I think the bars would have had to stay closed. Drinking and staying Covid-safe, they don’t seem to mix.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      it has just become endemic

      That appears to be the plan here in Florida, ‘Ignore it and it will just go away.’ I’m adjusting to my assumption of a two-three years horizon of coping as being way too optimistic now. And it won’t help international tourism to be a black hole destination. ‘See Florida and die’.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        awoke to hazy unformed thought that, as it congealed, and i realised i wouldn’t be able to sleep any more, brought me fully awake: no long term immune system memory= we’ll need short term(6 month?) booster shots of whatever vaccine they come up with= costs money to get a shot= perfect Rent-Seeking Opportunity= better than heroin as far as customer loyalty/desperation.
        Given the antihumanism at the dark heart of actually existing “capitalism”, this thought gives me the willies.

    3. Cuibono

      Either we are on the Offense or Covid 19 is one the Offense IMO

      This wishful thinking that we could all just go back to the way things were is rally understandable but childish

  10. Toshiro_Mifune

    Not sure about the Funker Vogt video though. Maybe somebody more metal (?) than I am can say whether one should handle with waldos or not. Sounds pretty doomy.

    Well, Electronic/Industrial and not Metal. Fairly retro as well. Thought it was mid-90s and it turns out to be of recent vintage

  11. zagonostra

    >Unemployment unhinged

    Yes, reality for millions is unhinged from the collective consciousness. The blob talks about Trump’s taxes, a Kanye West run for President, the endless fixed horse race that is U.S. Presidential elections, all while the deep suffering gets scant attention. It makes one pine for the days of 3 News Networks. If we are in a Depression, the National focus, news, should lead everyday with these millions of unemployed, their struggle, and what the gov’t isn’t doing…it’s a pathetic, post modern dystopia for many, and for the rest, well, we can just divert our eyes from the image and go back to playing video games…sick country.

    The total number of people who continued to claim unemployment compensation in the week ended July 4 under all state and federal unemployment insurance programs, including gig workers, jumped by 1.41 million people, to 32.92 million (not seasonally adjusted), the Department of Labor reported this morning. It was the highest and most gut-wrenching level ever…

    No government agency, neither at the state nor at the federal level, was ready for this type of unemployment crisis when it suddenly erupted in mid-March. The result has been chaos in processing unemployment claims and then in paying people their unemployment benefits.


    1. edmondo

      The total number of people who continued to claim unemployment compensation in the week ended July 4 …. jumped to 32.92 million

      For comparison’s sake, the high point during the financial crisis in 2009 was 6.5 million. We needed FDR, the Democrats gave us John Nance Garner. I wonder who will be Alf Landon in 2024.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Nathan Tankus’s email today covered unemployment and more “Congress is a Month Away from Cutting The Economy’s Fiscal Life Support.”

    3. Rod

      first hand from the NCDeS this Friday morning 10am–

      “Sir, NC Appeals Board only has THREE COMMISIONERS hearing Appeals Cases, and currently over 12,000 NClinians are waiting for a hearing–if you get an Appeals Hearing it will be sometime in October. We are trying to get that staffed up more.”

      I have been ‘curious’ why my UI stopped in May, you see.

  12. Wukchumni

    In the Great Depression when greenbacks were scarce, cities all over the USA issued their own money in lieu of Federal Reserve Notes et al. There must’ve been thousands of cities that did this, and with color copiers nowadays, they’d be simple to counterfeit, nothing to it.

    Here’s a selection from Florida in the 1930’s:


    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I send this sort of thing to the Mayor of our one town…as well as to the Editor of our little paper.
      after 20 years of doing so, still hasn’t taken.
      I reckon that there’s a point where things get desperate enough that this will start to make sense to such people, but we haven’t arrived there, yet.
      Bodies in the street?

      Being Cassandra sucks.

  13. McD

    “Supreme Court says Manhattan prosecutor may pursue Trump’s financial records,” Liberal friend with raging TDS posted today that this is the end of Trump. I can see her rubbing her hands with glee as she thinks to herself “Now we’ve got him.” I think that financial records of rich people are designed to conceal and not to reveal and nothing will come of this. However, it gets her hopes up. Just like the Logan Act, Emoluments Clause, Russia, Mueller, Ukraine were all going to be the end of Trump. Sigh.

  14. sam

    Re Floyd protests and Trump rally: It certainly seems reasonable to conclude that the Trump rally was more conducive to spread that the protests but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the protests were risk free. If that were really true it would call into question a lot of the official guidance re distancing, mask use outdoors, safe group size, etc.

  15. dcblogger

    off topic, but count me as someone who is not happy about all the new enthusiasm for Marx. Not defending capitalism, but yo, the Soviet Union collapsed for a reason. When you have to put barbed wire and snipers at your borders to keep people in, you are doing it wrong. Really unhappy to see Richard Wolff white wash Lenin’s history of building the Gulag and dismissing concern over body counts as “childish”. I have no use for red baiting. I just wish there were more interest in people like N. F. S. Grundtvig and Tage Erlander, you know, people who built a pleasant way of life.

    1. a different chris

      >but yo, the Soviet Union collapsed for a reason.

      Yeah but the reason wasn’t Marx??? He’d been dead for over 30 years before they stormed whatever the F they stormed escapes me at the moment.

      I’m not making the argument that the Soviet Union is something to be aspired to, but yeah Lenin. Stalin. They are the ones to point fingers at.

      But not Marx. I so wish he had stuck to his analysis and kept his solutions to himself, for sure. But Lenin was looking for a stick, not Marx’s fault that he thought it was his job to carve one.

    2. hunkerdown

      Argument from ignorance. Also, “popularity = good” is explicitly neoliberal thinking.

      The entire bourgeoisie will lie and manipulate others in order to maintain their own entitlement to the labor of others.

      Besides, I love it when liberals pretend not to be scared for their lives because they’re trying to run a scam that depends on fake confidence and other manipulative tricks, which isn’t working. But thanks for coming out as moderate Republican.

    3. periol

      Funny thing about -isms, none of them seem to work.

      It’s at least understandable that people are fumbling around for other ideas, since our current -ism is a failure.

    4. Bernalkid

      Only counting the bodies of the other side is childish. Wallow in your own body count for a while, beg the world’s pardon, and then we can talk about being an adult.

    5. Massinissa

      “Tage Erlander”

      Uh. I like how you mention two people not being Marxists, and one was a marxist… Tage Erlander was well schooled in Marxist thought when he was young and was a solid socialist.

      I’m going to cite the most well regarded and well known Erlander biography, ‘Tage Erlander: Serving the Welfare State, 1946-1969’ by Olaf Ruin (1989), page 193:

      “Marxism had of course been a very strong influence on the Social Democrats. Although Erlander rarely cited Karl Marx and his translators, he did not regard Marxism as unimportant in the development of the Social Democratic Party. Nor does he seem to have felt that the thoughts and attitudes expressed by Marx and his followers had vanished completely from the modern party’s ideology. There was still a trace of Marxism among its members who continued to feel that society is full of serious class antagonisms and tensions, and that Capitalism is characterized by destructive forces”

      196: “During the 1970s, however, after he had left his positions as party leader and Prime Minister and was working on his memoirs, Erlander… was now more prepared to admit a debt of gratitude to Marxism, for it had provided analysis of why things had developed as they had, an answer to important political questions, and a foundation upon which to base his own political activity. This evaluation may be seen as a reflection of the renewed interest in Marxism sweeping through the Western world during the 70s and as an aging politicians desire to rediscover roots that had long been obscured from view.”

      It isn’t so much that he wasn’t a Marxist, its moreso that in the 50s and 60s it was somewhat more difficult to admit to having Marxist or strong Socialist influences.

      So uh, maybe have a better understanding of the figures you cite before making a list of figures who you like because you think they’re not Marxist…

      1. dcblogger

        true enough. Marx is fine, until you get to the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Erlander got the good out of Marx. It is not to be rejected in total. I am just unhappy that there is so much willful blindness about communist countries, and so little talk about countries that got it right.

        1. Massinissa

          Look, Marx’s conception of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat was fundamentally very different than Lenin’s conception of it and what Lenin ultimately brought about.

          Marx wanted the Dictatorship of the Proletariat to be directly democrat, which Lenin’s USSR never was, and pointed to the Paris Commune of 1871 as a model of what he envisioned. Here is Marx describing the Paris Commune in his work Civil War in France, 1886:

          “The Commune was formed of the municipal councilors, chosen by universal suffrage in the various wards of the town, responsible, and revocable at short terms. The majority of its members were naturally workers, or acknowledged representatives of the working class. The Commune was to be a working, not a parliamentary body, executive, and legislative at the same time.”

          As you can see, what Marx envisioned is closer to something like Social Democracy, albeit more radical and anticapitalist in terms of workers collectively governing their workplaces, compared to the Leninist model of State Socialism where the party was nondemocratic and ruled from above, and there was little to no worker self governance of the workplace.

          So please, stop trying to blame the Soviet Union primarily on Marx. Its nonsensical. The structure of the USSR had relatively little to do with anything Marx or Engels wrote.

          1. Massinissa

            Dislike Marx if you want, that’s fine with me, but “Marx bad because look at USSR” is dishonest and intellectually lazy argumentation. Essentially on a similar level to ‘Darwin bad, look at Hitler’.

    6. Bugs Bunny

      Marxism, that is, communism, works. Working class and poor people should fight for it to be accepted as a basis for economic relations, world wide, without exception. Including in China.

      1. sierra7

        Bugs Bunny:
        Poor Karl Marx!
        He only wrote what he observed and has been vilified by so many for so long….

    7. martell

      Many people seem to have the mistaken impression that Marx was a utopian socialist who offered some highly detailed blueprint for the ideal society. Some of these same people think that the USSR was nothing more than the result of building according to Marx’s plan. There are two problems with this. First, Marx was primarily a critic of capitalism, arguing that it is historically transitory, inherently exploitative, and given to ever more destructive periodic crises. He has very little to say, as a matter of principle, about post-capitalist social arrangements and much of what he does say on that topic is hopelessly vague. Second, the USSR was partly an accident. I am far from an expert on the history of the Soviet Union, but I do believe that the USSR is called the USSR because soviets -self-managing groups of workers, soldiers, peasants, and such – sprang up everywhere during the revolution, much to everyone’s surprise, and then the communists had to scramble to do something about them: incorporate, co-opt, neutralize, etc. This, in any case, is the story that Arendt tells in On Revolution. Other factors that figure in the formation of the USSR include (I would think) party organization and (for lack of a better word) culture prior taking power, the hostility of foreign powers (including armed invasion), the need to beat a determined foe in a civil war, and the need to rapidly industrialize. It does not seem to me that any of these other factors make for decentralized, democratic self-management (which is my best guess at what Marx would have favored, eventually). And none of them (with the possible exception of party organization) can be blamed on Marx.

      All that said, I agree that it would be good if renewed enthusiasm for Marx were tempered with a bit of skepticism. There are pretty well-known (in some circles) criticisms of the embodied labor theory of value. Anyone serious about understanding Marx should at least know what those criticisms are. Also, it is not altogether clear that favorite Marxist terms like ‘bourgeoisie’ and ‘proletariat’ have much purchase on present-day capitalism. If you define the former as persons who legally own the means of production which serve to accumulate capital, then management for the most part is not bourgeois. If by ‘proletariat’ you mean the persons technically necessary for the creation of surplus value (assuming that there is such a thing), then that group is pretty small in societies of the so-called North (or neo-imperialist center, or whatever) and it does not include anyone working in retail, public school teachers, or clerks of any kind. In any case, I think it is best to read Marx with the understanding that he is a mid-19th century figure who aspired to offer a scientific account of history and society while knowing very little (relative to what we now know) about other, non-European societies, the history of his own society, biology, ecology, economics (he’s pre-marginalist), or even mathematics (I am told that, late in life, he tried to reinvent calculus). In short, do not be surprised to find that he is quite wrong about a good many things and that, even when he got it right, it is often the case that “that was then and this is now.”

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        excellent at diagnosis, poor at prescription.
        I thinkMarx is essential for understanding capitalism.
        He’s on my econ shelf right next to Adam Smith (I found them complimentary—and right next to them is Mario Puzo, for how “capitalism” actually works,lol)
        It is no surprise at all that there’s much confusion…we’ve had 100+ years of hysterical anti-marxism…which indicates quite clearly that the Boss Class/Aristocracy/PTB have consistently found his ideas to be pretty darned dangerous.
        This, alone, is reason enough to study him.

    8. Jeremy Grimm

      I share your distaste for Marx, but for entirely different reasons. I believe his theories are antiquated, weighted with an ugly nomenclature, tend toward the metaphysical (too much Hegel) and poorly describe our present power and class structures. But his economic critiques have stood the tests of time well.

      Gosh! I thought Ronald Reagan forced the collapse of the Soviet Union.

      1. Jeff W

        I believe his theories are antiquated, weighted with an ugly nomenclature, tend toward the metaphysical (too much Hegel) and poorly describe our present power and class structures.

        I rather like analytical Marxist Erik Olin Wright’s work, which, as this rather short (seven-page) description [PDF] of it says, sought to make Marx’s “concepts more specific and robust” and “[subject] the ideas to empirical tests.”

    9. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Color me shocked dcblogger hates the Marx Enthusiasm.

      Only a matter of time before the poor workers unite and seize power from the Acela Corridor.

      Marx FTW

  16. Lou Anton

    On the Tulsa virus spread, all 5 points are good ones. I’d add 6. Pre and post rally get-togethers. Talking loud, close in, and probably inside and outside of bars.

  17. super extra

    re: today’s news that the Supreme Court rules large part of Eastern Oklahoma is tribal land:

    I’ve started reading the ruling and I am not really sure how to interpret what the ruling actually says, which appears to be that where tribal law has jurisdiction, certain crimes will be tried in federal rather than state courts. Doesn’t exactly seem to be the woke #landback ruling the media froth seemed to paint it as?

    However! As it turns out, my extended family live in the affected area and are tribal members of the Cherokee nation, and I have grudgingly agreed to make a visit out to the family lake for a weekend of socially-distant family obligations, so I shall return next week with a field report from on the ground with reax from people who probably have thought it through more than I have. My first reaction, though, was that the Cherokee law enforcement already has parity with federal law so this would not impact them, but might be a means to get the smaller tribes to relinquish some court authority to the Federal courts; my second thought was to wonder if this pertained to other tribal reservations ex-Oklahoma, and if so, if the impacted offense list included protest-related actions.

    1. HotFlash

      Miigwech, super extra. This is important stuff and indigenous issues tend to be under-reported (/understatement). I can’t speak for others, but I am standing by for your dispatches.

        1. HotFlash

          Mais non! I am Canadian (US ex-pat), and I live in a very multi-national area of Toronto, ON. WRT indigenous relations, I am bound by Treaty 13. FWIW, I have learned how to say “hello”, “goodbye”, and “thank you” in 20 some-odd languages. It seems only courteous to my dear neighbours, who come from everywhere…

      1. super extra

        wa do, HotFlash.

        I’m not really sure this is what the media is portraying it as. In Eastern Oklahoma, 14 counties are already under legal jurisdiction of the Cherokee Nation, who have their own law enforcement (Cherokee Nation Marshall Service) that has cross-jurisdiction parity with other federal law enforcement jurisdictions, receives grants from the US Department of Justice, drives around in cop cars, wear cop uniforms, etc. These 14 counties are not ‘reservations’ in the way most people think of them, non-tribal citizens live there and there are non-Cherokee law enforcement organizations in non-Cherokee (or other tribal) communities. Just like you have to interact with the federal or state governments depending on whether you are getting a passport or a driver’s license, in Eastern OK you may also need to interact with a tribal office, such as to get a hunting permit.

        What this ruling appears to be saying is that certain types of crimes (those that fall under the ‘Major Crimes Act’ in the linked ruling, which I assume to be murder/assault related) which were formerly charged in Oklahoma STATE court should now be tried in US FEDERAL courts. This is due to most of Eastern Oklahoma making up the second and final Cherokee resettlement lands under Jackson (it was later whittled down under the allotments and resettlements of other tribes), which Congress has never officially stated is not, actually, still tribal land.

        It seems like the ruling could be a reinforcement of some of the stronger ‘sovereign’ powers (like this legal jurisdiction that has turned into a series of bureaucratic structures that are somewhat intertwined with, but not fully subordinate to, the US federal (not Oklahoma State) government). The Cherokee Nation (as well as the Choctaw Nation) have treaty rights for a US Representative delegate, which the former exercised last year, but their nominee has yet to be confirmed by the House.

    2. edmondo

      That can only be a positive the eastern half. I wonder if the western half will get jealous?

    3. DJG

      super extra: Please report. Anything that shores up the Indian Nations and gives them maneuverability against the feds and the states has benefits.

  18. TonyinSoCAL

    California showed how to do things right and terribly wrong. The shut down was a top down centralized decision, there was no divergence among the counties. With uniform rules, infections and deaths dropped.

    The reopening in contrast has been handled the way the federal government has handled the states: a set of guidelines were put in place and then it was left to the counties to do it their own way. At first, some took it seriously, but as the counties that took it less seriously threw all rules out, the counties that took it more seriously rushed to catch up for FOMO of a reopened economy. The result has been utter disaster, and Newsom has gone from an impressive leader to a live and let die screw up in a matter of 2 months.

    To his credit, Newsom is slowly re-centralizing decisions, but many counties (basically all of Southern California, including LA) are still doing the wrong thing and are far off the deep end. He is moving too slow and has been now making idle threats to the counties for several weeks.

    California has only proven what we’ve all suspected, that the only way through this is a uniform approach.

  19. allan

    Financial advisory firm tells clients Biden won’t be moving too far left if he becomes president [CNBC]

    … “The result represents a very successful effort by Biden and his team to control the narrative and policy direction, while making just enough concessions to the progressive wing to avoid an open rift in the party,” the note said. …

    The firm also said that the minimal details in the recommended economic policies show that Biden is on track to stay away from any major progressive overhauls. …

    Come on, man. What are they going to do, vote for Kanye?

  20. The Rev Kev

    “A President Who Makes Us Puke—Just Like He Was Hired To Do”

    Another aspect of Trump is how he says the quiet bits out loud to the discomfort of the ruling crowd. So he will not say that he is occupying Syria to protect the Kurds but to take Syria’s oil. And he will not say that he wants to take over Venezuela to liberate and give freedom to the people there but to steal their oil. Very clarifying that and even a bit refreshing.

    1. Glen

      It is refreshing.

      Biden, on the other hand, will normalize the puking and the MSM will let us know that puking is good for America because if we kack be long enough and hard enough all the Russia! will be expelled

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