2:00PM Water Cooler 8/19/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, there isn’t as much Democrat National Convention material as I suppose there should be, but that’s because the volume of bullsh*t is so great that I can’t even cope with it. So I’ve dollied back a little, and tried to think about what’s going on. Do feel free to add your own horrors in comments! A bit more along these lines soon. (Also, there is a lot of other interesting and important stuff going on.) –lambert


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Here are the four United States regions, plus US data. Here are the top five of the top ten problem states, with New York for comparison: California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and Illinois. (Good job, Arizona!)

This chart also includes positivity, starting with the highest (worst): Florida, Texas, Georgia, California, and Illinois. California, at 6.6%, approaches the WHO standard of 5%. Illinois, at 3.99%, surpasses it.

<---Today, I thought I'd look at the Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin:-->

“Millions of students are returning to US universities in a vast unplanned pandemic experiment” [Nature]. “In the absence of any national strategy for tackling the coronavirus pandemic, colleges and universities in the United States are on their own when it comes to deciding whether and how to bring students back for the autumn term, which has already started for some institutions. Many are relying on their own experts, resulting in a wide range of approaches, from telling students to attend online classes from home to bringing everyone back and testing them three times a week. Some are welcoming limited numbers of students with a face mask stamped with the university’s mascot, a bottle of hand sanitizer and plans to test only a fraction of people on campus. It all amounts to a gigantic, unorganized public-health experiment — with millions of students and an untold number of faculty members and staff as participants. Bringing so many university students to crowded campuses is uniquely risky in the United States, which has seen the largest number of deaths to COVID-19 of any country and has active community transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the pandemic.”

We’ve seen this diagram of a superspreading event before, but not with the children highlighted:

CA: “How many people really wear masks? We counted. It wasn’t pretty” [Los Angeles Times]. “Last month, over the course of a week, our reporters observed passersby in three locations in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Each person’s compliance with the mask order was classified into one of these three categories: [Correct, Incorrect, No mask]. Only 42% of the people we tracked were wearing masks correctly, 10% were wearing masks incorrectly and 47% were not wearing masks at all.” And the caveats: “This is simply one study of a small number of locations. It is not a comprehensive representation of the general public. It only captured the behavior of individuals as they passed by our reporters, and therefore it does not capture cases where people take their mask on and off over a period of time. Our results almost certainly contain some errors in observation and data entry. Since our reporters were observing people in real time and not individually speaking to all of our subjects, it is also possible that we misclassified the gender expression of some individuals.”

IA: “‘Horrifying’ data glitch skews key Iowa coronavirus metrics” [Associated Press]. “A state agency says it is working to fix a data error on Iowa’s coronavirus website that lowers the number of new confirmed cases and therefore downplays the severity of the current outbreak, just as schools are deciding whether to reopen. The glitch means the Iowa Department of Public Health has inadvertently been reporting fewer new infections and a smaller percentage of daily positive tests than is truly the case, according to Dana Jones, an Iowa City nurse practitioner who uncovered the problem. It’s particularly significant because school districts are relying on state data to determine whether they will offer in-person instruction when school resumes in the coming days and weeks. Potentially thousands of coronavirus infections from recent weeks and months have instead been erroneously recorded as having happened in March, April, May and June, Jones said Monday. “It’s just horrifying. We have no idea what’s going on, really,” said Jones. The numbers are skewed because some people tested negative earlier but recently tested positive. Iowa’s system has been recording their new positive results as having happened when their original negative results were reported.”


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

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

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

The electoral map. July 17: Georgia, Ohio, ME-2 move from Leans Republican to Toss-up. Continued yikes. On July 7, the tossup were 86. Only July 17, they were 56. Now they are 91. This puts Biden at 278, i.e. over 270. August 18: Still no changes. (Last change August 10.)

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!


“CNN Poll: Biden and Trump matchup tightens as enthusiasm hits new high” [CNN]. “Overall, 50% of registered voters back the Biden-Harris ticket, while 46% say they support Trump and Pence, right at the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.” • Only one poll!

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Democratic National Convention

“Colin Powell touts Biden’s character at DNC: ‘We need to restore those values to the White House'” [CNN]. • Oy. This is too much.

The explicit liberal theory of the case:

Lambert here: My current still-being-worked out theory goes like this: We really are looking at a merger between the (factions of) the Democrat Party and (factions of) the Republican Party at the national leadership level. (That makes Dionne’s “United Front” theory wrong, and Dionne himself a useful idiot; this realignment is not a temporary thing. Ditto Reich.) From around 2000 to 2016, the Democrat theory of change was the “coalition of the ascendant,” as theorized by Ruy Reixeira. This “coalition” was in fact ill-defined and quite fragile, and in fact was not Obama’s theory (though, naturally, we can only reverse engineer what he really believed). What Obama believed evolved into what I have labeled The Great Assimilation™, and began in 2008 with Obama’s revision to the Preamble of the Democrat platform, which stressed the requirement for a functional Republican Party in a two-party system. (Obama’s shorthand for this was waiting for “the fever to break,” the “fever” being right-wing populism.) Obama followed through on his vision of a functional Republican Party with his (disastrous) negotiation with Republicans on ObamaCare, where he treated the Republicans as a trusted interlocutor. (For those who came in late, Obama in 2009 had his boot on the Republican throat. He could have crushed them. Instead, he gave them a hand up, dusted them off, and let them right back in the game.)

Fast forward to March 2016, when Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal! was published. Frank — promptly ostracized along the Acela Corridor — had the nerve to point out the central contradiction of the Democrat Party under the “coalition of the ascendant” theory: The Democrat base was the PMC, but the Democrats also could not win without working class votes (and those voters had both values and interests at odds with the PMC, as the chart below shows). Some insiders thought that the way to resolve the contradiction was to jettison working class votes; as Schumer famously remarked: “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.” Then, in 2016, Sanders stuck a fork in the “coalition of the ascendant” by peeling off the Hispanic vote entirely. In the short term, liberal Democrat responded to the threat of populism from the left by immediately removing Sanders from any position of authority in candidate selection for 2020, by defenestrating Sanders’ candidate for DNC leadership, Ellison, and more centrally by removing all (100%) Sanders supporters from the all-important Rules and Bylaws Committee, where challenges to primary votes are adjudicated.

In the long term — and here, since internal Democrat deliberations are entirely informal and secretive, I speculate — liberal Democrats decided to achieve their majority not with the failed strategy of “the coalition of the ascendant,” but by jettisoning the working class entirely, and peeling off suburban Republican voters. (Black Democrat voters should take note; underneath all the “listen to Black women” foofrah, I doubt that liberal Democrats like being beholden to Black constituencies any more than they liked being beholden to the working class. For the nature of the Black people liberal Democrats do accept and respect, see Adolph Reed here; Reed is, I think, restating the idea of “the talented tenth.”) The key inflection point that signalled this strategic shift came in 2018 at John McCain’s funeral, where war criminal and torture advocate George W Bush. famously gave Michelle Obama candy; she later said, on the Today Show: “He’s my partner in crime at every major thing where all the ‘formers’ gather…. I love him to death. He’s a wonderful man, he’s a funny man.” (Somehow I can’t imagine Michelle Obama saying that about Bernie Sanders.)

Hence the presence of Republicans in the Democrat campaign (the Lincoln Project), and their dominance at the convention (Kasich, Whitman, Powell, Molinari, Cindy McCain., etc.), greatly in contrast to the minute given to, say, AOC, or Sanders supporters generally.

Now, one could argue that we are merely looking at a temporary alliance (indeed, a “United Front,” just as Dionne and Reich suggest). One might also argue that all that the Democrats want is a strong Republican party, a rational interlocutor, to whom one could extend the right hand of good fellowship without having it ripped off up to the shoulder. In neither case, liberal Democrats don’t actually want to assimilate Republicans. Here are some reasons why that’s not so: First, if liberal Democrats make suburban Republican voters part of their base, the Republican leadership must follow. Second, liberal Democrats and non-populist Republicans are ideologlcally more alike than different; both are neoliberals. Why not put the tribalism aside and share power? Especially when only the dirty populists are racists? Third, Republicans would bring to the Democrats a focus and ability to execute that liberal Democrats lack, and know they lack (a lot of Democrat jaws are dropping at the Lincoln Project’s work). Fourth, if Schumer (and Obama) are right, they have an electoral winner. And who doesn’t want to play for a winner?

Some consequences follow if I am correct: First, the working class is up for grabs. (Some of the more creative Republicans are figuring this out.) Second, the path forward for working class electeds is not through the Democrat Party; they are not wanted (this implies that I don’t think Sanders electoralism is viable, though I respect Sanders’ desire — he is, after all, from a family destroyed by the Holocaust — to prioritize beating Trump. Of course, if George W. Bush wasn’t a fascist, Trump is not, but then maybe George W. Bush was.)

One caveat: I’m reasoning solely from what I understand about the two parties. I have not discussed the “industrial model” of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie; The Great Assimilation™, to be fully functional, would imply a merger of the non-populist donor base. Then again, in a crisis, things correlate.

A second caveat: This view would also imply that a lot of the conflict we see in the press is froth.

A third caveat: I haven’t thought through the institutionat details of The Great Assimilation™. Shared office space? Hard to imagine. But the Beltway is creative about such things. Perhaps Biden will propose “A government of national unity.” That would cause a lot of reconfiguration.

Anyhow, that’s my being-worked-on theory. Readers?

“Sanders Supporters Realize Their Party Is Bigger Than They Are” [The Atlantic]. “Around 10:30 p.m. ET, when Sanders finally appeared on-screen in front of a large stack of chopped wood, only a handful of people remained on the call. They smiled wistfully in their little Zoom squares, and they guessed about the symbolism of the firewood—maybe he chopped it himself? someone suggested. But no one commented when Sanders praised Biden’s pledge to raise the federal minimum wage to $15, and no one cheered at his guarantee that Biden would transition the U.S. economy to 100 percent clean energy. No one said anything when Sanders promised that Biden would do his utmost as president to ‘move the country forward. Even he couldn’t make them believe it.” • As I said.

“The triumph of the Nostalgiacrats” [Vox]. “The party is celebrating its past more than its future, and, in so doing, making a very strong pitch for nostalgia. With double-digit unemployment and thousands dying per day of a new disease, there’s obviously something to be said for turning back the clock. But as the country faces swirling tides of discontent from multiple directions and historically low levels of trust in social institutions — and each other — there’s also a real danger in this path.” • I would argue that it’s simple. My favorite chart for the Obama years:

The 30% of the population that did well after the Crash are nostalgic for Obama. The Democrat base — including suburban Republicans — is in that 30%. The bottom 70%, who were not made whole after ten years of “recovery” are not nostalgic, because they have nothing to be nostalgic about. I’ve had many, many good experiences over the past decade, but nostalgia? Are you high?

Our Famously Free Press

“NYT Urges Biden to Shun His Party’s ‘Left-Leaning Brand'” [FAIR]. • Worth reading in full. The Times material is an example of what Thomas Frank refers to as “airtight consensus.” Again, in a crisis, things correlate. It’s probably better to stop thinking of the parties, the press, and various governmental factions (especially the intelligence community) as being in any way separate.

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.

Consumer Confidence: “When Will Consumers Feel Safe? Weekly Updates on Consumers’ Comfort Level With Various Pastimes” [Morning Consult]. Handy chart:

See especially item two at top: “Going to a shopping mall.” The consumer of last resort is hardly pulling its weight. And I’m sure manufacturing nations are taking note.

Employment Situation: “What Unemployment Statistics Obscure About Temporary Layoffs” [Rand]. “20 percent of permanent layoffs in May and June had been temporary layoffs the month before. This is telling, because it might indicate how much of the controlled shutdown has become an uncontrolled recession. Analyzing such transitions within unemployment is crucial to understanding what’s happening in the labor market right now—and highly relevant for policymakers. The $600 federal supplement to weekly unemployment benefits that ended two weeks ago, for example, served two possible functions. It could have helped people get by until their employers reopened. Or, it could have been directing money to those most likely to spend it and therefore propping up demand in the economy so that more businesses wouldn’t permanently close. If lawmakers believe that all we need to do to restart the economy is turn the lights back on, then perhaps the $600 has a clear expiration. If they think that the economy could be on the verge of contracting further, then perhaps the supplement needs to continue.”

Construction: “July 2020 Residential Building Growth Continues To Improve” [Econintersect]. “Headline residential building permits and construction completions improved – and the rolling averages showed a similar result. No coronavirus effect is seen in this data. It is almost as though the coronavirus never occurred with this data set…. [T[]he rolling averages say this sector is expanding. We consider this report better than last month.”

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Tech: “Apple fires back at Epic: ‘We won’t make an exception'” [The Verge]. “‘We very much want to keep the company as part of the Apple Developer Program and their apps on the Store,’ Apple says in a statement to The Verge. ‘The problem Epic has created for itself is one that can easily be remedied if they submit an update of their app that reverts it to comply with the guidelines they agreed to and which apply to all developers.'” • I have little sympathy for Apple, but I might have a smidgeon more if the Apple Store wasn’t such a horrid piece of software. Here’s Epic’s request for an injunction (dk).

Tech: “Amazon Music Adding Podcasts, Walk Back Condition That Podcasters Don’t Disparage Amazon” [Pitchfork]. “Amazon revealed in emails to multiple podcasters its plans to begin streaming podcasts on Amazon Music and Audible, Billboard and The Desk report. As multiple podcasters have pointed out on social media, the company’s terms and conditions, at the time of the announcement, featured a significant point under the ‘content restrictions’ header that claimed podcasts cannot feature anti-Amazon rhetoric. ‘Your Content may not include advertising or messages that disparage or are directed against Amazon or any Service,’ the terms stated. Corey Quinn, host of the Screaming in the Cloud tech podcast, tweeted, ‘I’m a freaking entertainment podcast and I can’t consent to that. How can any actual news podcast?!’ Following the spread of the news of the apparent anti-disparagement clause, Amazon quietly dropped the policy, according to The Desk. The terms, according to The Desk, now state that podcasters must ‘comply with Amazon’s Creative Acceptance Policies.'” • Amazon will tru again, surely.

Tech: “Google giving far-right users’ data to law enforcement, documents reveal” [Guardian]. “A little-known investigative unit inside search giant Google regularly forwarded detailed personal information on the company’s users to members of a counter-terrorist fusion center in California’s Bay Area, according to leaked documents reviewed by the Guardian. But checking the documents against Google’s platforms reveals that in some cases Google did not necessarily ban the users they reported to the authorities, and some still have accounts on YouTube, Gmail and other services. The users were often threatening violence or otherwise expressing extremist views, often associated with the far right. The documents come from the so-called “Blueleaks” trove, which hackers acquired from the servers of a hosting company in Texas which had been used by several law enforcement agencies. It contains hundreds of thousands of documents from more than 200 agencies, dated between 1996 and June 2020.”

Tech: I use a VPN, and this came up the other day:

I’ve never seen anything like this before. Google propagandizing against government regulation on the same page as “I’m feeling lucky” seems bizarre, though I suppose it’s legal, even for a search monopoly. However, clue stick: It’s hard to see how government regulation would “hurt” the “user experience” more than Google’s own crapification.

Tech: “Disney’s CEO Is Scrapping Once-Sacred Businesses” [Bloomberg]. “With the global pandemic crippling Disney’s theme-park, movie and TV businesses, [new CEO Bob] Chapek’s first months atop the world’s largest entertainment company have been anything but a honeymoon. The broad-shouldered, 61-year-old Indiana native jumped in with characteristic zeal, making big changes to cope with the crisis and the tectonic forces reshaping the company’s core businesses. The decisions came large and small. Disney shuttered its theme parks in March, anchored its cruise ships and furloughed some 100,000 workers. Revenue slumped 42% last quarter, hurt by the closed businesses and loss of advertising sales at networks like ESPN and ABC. But the biggest strategic shift is unquestionably Disney’s push into online video.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 70 Greed (previous close: 70 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 73 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 19 at 1:01pm.

The Biosphere

“Catching plague locusts with their own scent” [Nature]. “Another plague, of a much older kind — one that is not curable with vaccines or medicine — is currently raging in Africa (Fig. 1) and the Middle East. Seasons of unusually heavy rains, driven by climate change, have created population explosions of swarming desert locusts (Schistocerca gregaria)…. Researchers have long assumed that an aggregation pheromone was the trigger for swarms, but no molecule had yet satisfied the conditions of being a candidate pheromone.,,, From a collection of 35 compounds emitted by locusts, the authors identified 6 that are highly enriched in gregarious but not in solitary insects…. The authors carried out a clever experiment to determine how many solitary locusts need to be crowded together to induce the production of this aggregation pheromone. The answer is remarkable: just four or five suffice.” • Hmm.

Health Care

“Coronavirus research updates: Sailors furnish first evidence that antibodies protect humans against reinfection” [Nature]. “A massive COVID-19 outbreak on a US fishing boat spared crew members who already had antibodies against the new coronavirus, providing what scientists say is the first direct evidence that these antibodies protect people against being reinfected… Just before the ship’s departure, the researchers tested 120 of the 122 crew members and found that all were negative for SARS-CoV2, but an outbreak hit the ship soon after it left shore. Post-voyage testing showed that 104 members of the 122-person crew were infected. None of those who were infected and had been tested before embarking had shown neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.m But all three crew members who did have such antibodies before departure escaped infection, providing statistically significant evidence that neutralizing antibodies acquired during SARS-CoV-2 infection protect against reinfection, the authors say. The findings have not yet been peer reviewed.” • Good news!

“Scientists worried the pandemic would cause malaria deaths to soar. So far, it hasn’t happened” [Science]. “Back in March when COVID-19 hit, Pedro Alonso became alarmed about a different infectious disease. ‘I thought I would be witnessing the biggest malaria disaster in 20 years,’ says Alonso, a malaria scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO). African countries went on lockdown to curtail COVID-19; worried about mass gatherings, they suspended campaigns to distribute mosquito-fighting bed nets. Fears abounded that with clinics overwhelmed by COVID-19, patients would be unable to get treatment for malaria, which kills an estimated 405,000 per year, mostly African children. In the worst case scenario, models projected, malaria deaths could more than double this year. ‘It does not seem to be happening,’ Alonso says. Lobbied hard by WHO’s Global Malaria Programme (GMP), which he heads, and its partners, countries resumed bed net campaigns. Rapid diagnostic tests and effective malaria drugs are available. The situation could still go south as the COVID-19 epidemic accelerates—there are worrying signs—but for now, Alonso says, ‘We probably stopped the first big blow.'” • Two feel-good stories in the health care section in one day. I don’t know what’s come over me.

“What Happens to Viral Particles on the Subway” [New York Times]. • Animated diagrams. Not entirely re-assuring.

“We Need to Talk About Ventilation” [The Atlantic]. I’ve posted this before, but I’m reposting it, because the whole piece is still worth a read if you have not done so. A key paragraph for your personal practice:

In multiple studies, researchers have found that COVID-19’s secondary attack rate, the proportion of susceptible people that one sick person will infect in a circumscribed setting, such as a household or dormitory, can be as low as 10 to 20 percent. In fact, many experts I spoke with remarked that COVID-19 was less contagious than many other pathogens, except when it seemed to occasionally go wild in super-spreader events, infecting large numbers of people at once, across distances much greater than the droplet range of three to six feet. Those who argue that COVID-19 can spread through aerosol routes point to the prevalence and conditions of these super-spreader events as one of the most important pieces of evidence for airborne transmission.

Saskia Popescu, an infectious-disease epidemiologist, emphasized to me that we should not call these “super-spreaders,” referring only to the people, but “super-spreader events,” because they seem to occur in very particular settings—an important clue. People don’t emit an equal amount of aerosols during every activity: Singing emits more than talking, which emits more than breathing. And some people could be super-emitters of aerosols. But that’s not all. The super-spreader–event triad seems to rely on three V’s: venue, ventilation, and vocalization. Most super-spreader events occur at an indoor venue, especially a poorly ventilated one (meaning air is not being exchanged, diluted, or filtered), where lots of people are talking, chanting, or singing. Some examples of where super-spreader events have taken place are restaurants, bars, clubs, choir practices, weddings, funerals, cruise ships, nursing homes, prisons, and meatpacking plants.

“Honey ‘beats antibiotics’ for curing coughs or colds: New research shows it is more effective than medication” [Daily Mail]. “‘Honey was associated with a significantly greater reduction in combined symptom score, cough frequency and cough severity,’ the study in the British Medical Journal said. It added that the so-called ‘nectar of the gods’ is cheap, readily available and has virtually no side effects. The authors also said using honey for infections could reduce the overprescription of antibiotics, which is fuelling a crisis of antimicrobial resistance.” • I gargle with undiluted honey (and some salt) when I get what I suppose I must now pray is only a cold.

Who Opposes Defunding the N.Y.P.D.? These Black Lawmakers NYT –>

Groves of Academe

“Life Without Football Will Trounce America’s College Towns” [Bloomberg]. “Economists say the loss of a big swath of the college game won’t significantly hit the U.S.’s roughly $21 trillion economy, even if big TV networks stand to lose a sizable chunk of the $1.2 billion in ad revenue the season usually generates. The effects of no football will be starker in small college towns like Iowa City, Iowa, and State College, Pennsylvania, where Saturday tailgate parties by alumni are among the year’s biggest draws.” • I’m so old I remember when snagging a college was promoted as the recipe for avoiding small-town decline.

“A Message from Your University’s Vice President for Magical Thinking” [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency]. “What are our administrators doing to help? Rest assured, they’re determined to make any sacrifice (short of salary reductions that would go to benefit faculty and staff whose positions have been cut) until we make it through this crisis.”

“School of Public Health study says students may be able to safely return to campus” [Yale Daily News]. • Read all the way to the end.

“UConn to pay ‘white fragility’ scholar Robin DiAngelo $20,000 for antiracism workshop” [The College Fix]. “The University of Connecticut is slated to pay “white fragility” scholar Robin DiAngelo $20,000 to lead a three-and-a-half-hour workshop this fall for administrators during their professional development retreat, according to a copy of the contract provided to The College Fix by the university.” • Grifters gotta grift. College administrators, too!

Class Warfare

“Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and the rest of the ‘Oligarchic Dozen’ just reached a ‘disturbing milestone'” [MarketWatch]. “”The rich get richer” doesn’t even begin to tell the story these days. According to the Institute for Policy Studies, the wealth of the top 12 billionaires in the U.S. recently exploded to more than one trillion dollars — yes, 13 digits. The statistic, of course, is an eye-popping figure on its face, made even more so in light of the devastation in the broader economy due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since the pandemic first blew up in the U.S. back in March, the ‘Oligarchic Dozen’ has enjoyed a 40% surge in its combined wealth — or an increase of $283 billion.” • Handy chart:

So, from the perspective of the people who really own and run our political economy, there’s no real reason for the pandemic to end, is there?

“The Virginia Couple That Gave Birth To The Billable Hour” [Ozy]. “Lawyers have slowly but surely been committing economic suicide as a profession,” the Virginia State Bar’s committee on economics concluded around the same time, proposing a solution embraced by state bars across the country: minimum-fee schedules. For the Virginia State Bar, the minimum fee schedule was just good business, and lawyers found to be charging less than the suggested fee for a service would be presumed ‘guilty of misconduct.’ For Ruth and Lewis Goldfarb, and the class of Virginia plaintiffs they headed, however, the minimum fees charged by the legal profession constituted price-fixing and were therefore — rather ironically — illegal. In 1971, the Goldfarbs had contracted to purchase a home in Reston, Virginia, and as part of securing a mortgage, were required to hire a local attorney to conduct a title examination of the property. To their horror, and after calls to several dozen attorneys in Northern Virginia, the Goldfarbs discovered that the minimum-fee system made bargain hunting for legal services a rather pointless exercise.” • Be careful what you wish for….

News of the Wired

“Inside the Work of a New York Psychedelic Trip Guide” [Filter]. “Planning ahead for a trip is always important. Your mental or emotional mindset, and your physical environment or setting, will greatly influence how things turn out—for better or worse. Psychedelic users call this your “set and setting.” Choosing to trip in your grandma’s basement after a long workday will look very different from if you trip at the crack of dawn in your friend’s tent at a music festival.” • I should say so!

“Quantum paradox points to shaky foundations of reality” [Science]. First I’ve heard. Perhaps we have a physicist in the readership who can explain this.

“‘Contact Languages’ Don’t Get the Respect They Deserve” [The Atlantic]. “When groups of people who speak different languages come together, they sometimes inadvertently create a new one, combining bits of each into something everyone can use to communicate easily. Linguists call such impromptu tongues ‘contact languages’—and they can extend well beyond the pidgin and creole varieties that many of us have heard of. The origin stories of these linguistic mash-ups vary. Some are peaceful, such as when groups meet for trade and need a lingua franca: Nigerian Pidgin English, for example, allows speakers of some 500 tongues to communicate. But others were born of tragedy and violence—like Haitian Creole, Gullah Geechee, Jamaican Creole, and many others that arose during the Atlantic slave trade, when West African peoples combined several tongues with English, creating everyday languages often used among enslaved people. Today, many of these contact languages are lost. Only 200 or so remain—and scores are at risk of extinction.”

“‘The mystery is over’: Researchers say they know what happened to ‘Lost Colony'” [Virginian-Pilot]. “The evidence shows the colony left Roanoke Island with the friendly Croatoans to settle on Hatteras Island. They thrived, ate well, had mixed families and endured for generations. More than a century later, explorer John Lawson found natives with blue eyes who recounted they had ancestors who could ‘speak out of a book,’ Lawson wrote. The two cultures adapted English earrings into fishhooks and gun barrels into sharp-ended tubes to tap tar from trees.” • They ate well!

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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 (AM):

AM writes: “Latest phase (early July) of the backyard garden has the hydrangeas coming into bloom in the background.” Masses of color!

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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. ptb

    Re: US Covid testing

    Not what I want to hear…

    AMA asks Dept of HHS to change testing guidelines, cut testing of asymptomatics — including routine back-to-school testing of students! — to conserve supplies for those with medical need. With approximately 20 million college/grad students and 50 million K-12’s in the US (in a normal year), each 1% of students doing preventive testing would use up approximately 1 day worth of national test capacity, based on current testing rates.

    On a more hopeful note, more colleges and K-12 school districts are suspending live classes for the time being, which I think is the right thing to do.

      1. S.V. Dáte

        Live from Ann Arbor things county wide are bad but as of late very low infections (aftertaste being very high). Students coming back from all points are going to cause a riot. Nothing good can come of this. The UofMichigan has never been on the side of the people.

        1. Arizona Slim

          Going to cause a riot? Wowsers. I thought U-M students only rioted after national championship games.

          And, yes, I agree with your last sentence. We’re seeing that very thing in the Dr. Robert Anderson abuse scandal.

  2. DJG

    E.J. Dionne: “Popular Front.” My eyeballs are spinning in my head. It was already rumored that Dionne is a pillar of mediocrity, yet use of Popular Front also is an indication of being non compos mentis. Is it possible that, among other metaphors, “dementia” should be the word of the moment? (There goes the metaphorical ironic “ain’t.”)

    And there’s this bulletin from the Francoist wing of our Popular Front. A tweetback from the Lincoln Project:

    Joe Biden will defend the constitution, our country, and our troops

    To conclude, brethren and sistren, a quote much on my mind in these parlous times:

    The confounding of truth and lies, making it almost impossible to maintain a distinction, and a labour of Sisyphus to hold on to the simplest piece of knowledge…[marks] the conversion of all questions of truth into questions of power.

    –Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections from a Damaged Life

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t mind tellin’ ya, my mind is reeling. I’m adding some more thoughts on this now, so please check back in a few minutes. (I dug out a tweet from Robert Reich saying the same thing, so now the “United Front” talking point is a thing.)

      1. edmondo

        LOL. I remember when Bernie was going to take over the D Party. Looks like he was outbid. What a waste of the last four years.

        Just out of curiosity… what are we supposed to do with two Republican parties?

        1. Geo

          It really has become two branches of the same party merely separated by IdPol. The GOP is the party of old school white patriarchal property owner identity politics and the Dems are the party for the rest of the property owners (with plenty of WASPs too).

          I agree with those who proclaim that the GOP is much worse and more dangerous but it’s almost solely due to their stances on IdPol. They want to take America back to 1850 while the Dems want to take us back to 1910.

          “The party is celebrating its past more than its future, and, in so doing, making a very strong pitch for nostalgia. With double-digit unemployment and thousands dying per day of a new disease, there’s obviously something to be said for turning back the clock.”

          Unless either party invents a time machine it might be wise to start planning for a future and not keep trying to drag us back to a glorified past.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            merely separated by IdPol.

            John Kasich, hero of the Reagan wing of Team Blue, has demonstrated Team Blue doesn’t even care about IdPol at all.

            1. Dr. John Carpenter

              See also: Elizabeth Warren (falsely claimed indigenous heritage and then spoke to their Native American caucus), Bill Clinton (serial predator), Michael Bloomberg (same), Joe Biden (same) and every time they went rah rah about women or BIPOC members and then conspicuous left out left leaning members who would have otherwise been included.

          1. Noone from Nowheresville

            so 2020 was a battle upgrade to 2016?

            The last 4 years of “resistance” have been something significant in the war?

            And exactly what had to be tried?

            By the way, which war again are we fighting and who are our enemies cuz I’d hate to think we were just fighting some nebulous “Axis of Evil.”

            Not trying to be snarky here, I know the stakes. But like Amfortas’s step-mom, you have to get people to come out of their reality bubbles and enjoin the war.

            Do you really think that moving the Overton window temporarily did that? Or that the foundation built during these last four years is strong and deep enough to turn the tide or even withstand “things” like Covid, a global depression, elite looting, climate change, etc.?

            I don’t. I think the last 4 years were a waste of time. It has been quite clarifying and if it weren’t so horrific it might even be a fun TV show to watch with buttered popcorn.

            PS. I don’t think we see even half of the real war that’s going on and this is NC.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              the Machine is adept at using FUD–Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt–to undermine existing socioploitical and economic habits of life, in order to slide in and replace them with something more amenable to the Empire.
              I see Bernie….and Occupy, and even the 9-11 “truth” stuff, however nebulous and subconscious….as doing the same thing, but in reverse….and whether willingly or no….consciously or no.
              it’s a necessary step…this half-awakening/disturbed sleep….this turning around, away from the shadows on the wall, to finally become aware of the fire behind us, and the puppets and effigies being paraded there…only then does the potential exist to see the Mouth of the Cave.
              Doubt is a powerful thing….what else can counter TINA?
              The entire edifice of Empire….from the “Normal” ways of “making a living” to the value of money, itself…relies utterly on Belief…on our each individual’s Consent in Believing that This, This is Just How it Is.
              Undermine that, and there’s at least a chance.

          1. dcrane

            Last time for me was Stein. Absent a *competitive* third party option, this time it will be Trump.

            1. a different chris

              A vote for Trump is a vote for Trump.

              It ain’t a vote against anybody. Sorry. The voting booth you might actually notice doesn’t have a little margin to write in “reasons”.

              1. dcrane

                Indeed, and I will be voting *for* Trump. Note that I did not say otherwise.

                Lame as he may be, he is, for starters, the better candidate on the wars. Twice he tried to back off a war, (Syria, Afghanistan) and both times Biden and the Democrats raised hell, and even deployed another Russia rumor (bounties).

                I came to the Democrats after 2002 because of the wars. They have since removed that incentive.

              2. John Richmond

                “The key inflection point that signalled this strategic shift came in 2018 at John McCain’s funeral, where war criminal and torture advocate George W Bush. famously gave Michelle Obama candy; she later said, on the Today Show: “He’s my partner in crime at every major thing where all the ‘formers’ gather…. I love him to death. He’s a wonderful man, he’s a funny man.” (Somehow I can’t imagine Michelle Obama saying that about Bernie Sanders.)”

                OK. It looks here like Michelle’s regard for Bush the man is being conflated with her regard for Bush’s policies. Someone can think that someone else is a nice person and completely disagree with their morals and actions. I’m pretty sure I heard Michelle bash some of Bush’s policies, and her husband ran and won against the bulk of Bush’s legacy.

                GW Bush seems, at least from public images, to be actually a nice, humble man who is a true believer in his Christian, neoliberal worldview. He is also very arguably one of the three worst presidents in this nation’s histoty (or four if one thinks Harding’s admin was consequential enough to be assigned a meaningful rating).

                Given what happened on Bush’s watch he could have been at least a proto-fascist, especially if he’d been more ruthless personally. Business interests really did continue fusing with government interests. The Patriot Acts definitely constrained individual freedom and set up the apparatus for a national surveillance state which fortunately has not yet been fully realized.

                Largely because Chump and his minions are lazy and incompetent. Which is who you get when people who hate competent, as opposed to arbitrary, government are tasked with actually running said government.

                1. John Richmond

                  More on the convention and neoliberal Democrats:

                  My own alliance with this set of Democrats is temporary, echoing a point you make, Lambert. And it’s done in the hope, rather than the expectation, that Biden and later Harris will be more AOC than Pelosi, Hoyer, or Bloomberg. If they’re not AOC they won’t have the votes in 2022 to sustain themselves against the right wing minority backlash (they’re a minority because their policies are unpopular, not because they’re nonwhite; right wingers are vast majority white, as we know). Democrats never get rewarded just for cleaning up Republican messes. They need to build something affirmative, like a Green New Deal, to achieve electoral success. By being neoliberal Democrats leave tens of millions of votes, indeed people, on the table.

                  And, as you point out Lambert, allow nativist conservatives to make a play for those votes. They’re already well along on that project.

                  A final point. Right wing populists are not populists. Their policies, as poll after poll after poll shows, are unpopular. The true populists are more in the vein of the original Progressives (even Socialists), who organized strongly in both urban and rural working class areas and had an ethnically broad coalition that may still have been racist, but didn’t emphasize said racism on policy platforms.

                  The true fear of the billionaires, then as well as maybe now, is effective organizations along the lines of the old Knights of Labor, which were particularly strong in the 1880s in Richmond VA.

          2. Tom Bradford

            Sorry, but unless you’re a plant from the Trump campaign this comment is utterly inane. If you vote for Trump you vote for Trump. Whatever you might think in the privacy of your own skull, if you vote for Trump you’re telling the world you support Trump. If you vote for Trump you’re telling Trump you’re OK with his incompetence, his corruption, his utter disdain for the law and the constitution. If you vote for Trump you’re telling the world you agree with his self-assessment as a stable genius and America’s greatest president.

            If you vote for Trump don’t you dare complain about the wreckage he wreaks to what’s left of America’s social safety nets, economy or global standing after another four years. You voted for it.

            If you can’t vote for Biden either, vote for a third-party that most closely reflects what you believe, even if it isn’t very close. You might not, probably won’t, get it but that is what democracy is and at least you will be able to contemplate the consequences of the 2020 election and be able to say, hand on heart, that it wasn’t your fault.

            And maybe, just maybe, enough people will vote for a no-hoper to give a few more people the idea next time around that voting for a no-hoper they might actually support isn’t a completely wasted vote.

            That’s what happened to the Greens in my neck of the woods. A few more votes in each election until suddenly they acquired a whiff of viability. It took 20 years, but they eventually broke through.

            That’s democracy in action.

              1. Anarcissie

                Collectively. But I’ve been thinking that, if Trump is indeed as incompetent, corrupt, mendacious, malevolent, etc. etc., as he seems to be, and thereby weakens or even destroys the United Imperial States, it seems easily possible to read that as a Good Thing. After all, the Empire didn’t start with Trump. What was so great, after all, about the pre-Trump era, that we should want to restore it? Maybe the nihilist side of the Trump base are onto something.

        2. Michael

          My sense is that over the past 20 years the duopoly has successfully completely divided the country though constant repetitions of 5 Minute Hate sessions so the voters are conditioned to think emotionally and will seriously vote against people in terror, rather than voting for people. The result is always a lesser evil selection, which is the desired outcome of more evil.

          My solution is to only vote for people based upon serious solutions they provide. This far I’ve not heard any serious solutions from either wing of the duopoly. I will act accordingly.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > My solution is to only vote for people based upon serious solutions they provide

            My sense is that the younger voters are much more “rigid” about policy. Given the other candidates, I can only think that change was induced by Sanders. If so, it’s a bigger change than any specific policies on offer.

            1. Dr. John Carpenter

              Big if true. I mean that in a non-sarcastic way. It’s perhaps the best outcome I’ve heard considered of Sander’s presidential runs.

            2. Anarcissie

              A lot of things have happened, and a lot of things are happening, that are currently, thank God, mostly out of the sight of the boss media and the ruling class. The Sanders effort has been a part of that; now that Sanders and company have been crushed, the r.c. seem to imagine that the tide can be ordered to stop coming in.

              In regard to the overt merger of the Democrat and Republican establishments: an interesting question then is which way the proles are going to go. Sooner or later is seems likely that they will fully realize that their rulers are their enemies, and begin to act accordingly. They will align themselves for battle in one way or another.

        3. dcblogger

          no way was the last four years wasted. Bernie revitalized the entire left. Democratic Socialist went from a tiny organization with zero impact to hundreds of chapters with thousands of members involved in everything from eviction resistance to strike support. The labor movement has been energized as never before with record number of successful organizing drives. Moreover down ballot Bernie candidates are winning. Just because we came up short at the national level does not make the last four years a waste.

            1. rps

              Ditto. We’ve seen this movie and it got lousy reviews the first go around. This marriott no plot sequel same bad orange man antagonist is mercilessly slow and mindnumbing boring.

              Someone needs to pull the comabernie plug. He’s been on the dnc ventilator past his expiration date along with his brain dead roommate comajoe. The has been understudy so we’re told will unite us as one voice singing kumbaya, pass out participation trophies and in 8 years join Obama on branson’s magical billionaire yacht tour. Hallelujah!

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                This is just useless, silly carping. I’m perfectly willing to hear — and to make — evidenced critiques of the failings of the Sanders campaign, because how else do we learn, but I’m really getting tired of this particular species of performativity. Go spout off in the comments section of Jimmy Dore’s YouTube channel ffs.

                1. Eric Patton

                  Ignoring the fact that rps’s comment had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with anything Dore has ever done or said … you really hate Jimmy. And it bothers you that so many NC readers like him, so you’re venting here, away from positive Dore comments that appear on the site.

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Yawn. Or so the story is told.

              This isn’t Twitter, champ. One-liner drive-bys are not favored.

              I agree with dcblogger (though what I hoped would begin to happen with the 2018 midterms began in 2020, with Cori Bush, etc.).

          1. Noone from Nowheresville

            so during the last 4 years:

            the billionaires haven’t dramatically increased their wealth? the stock market reflects the actual economy? the surveillance state has been rolled back? essential workers are considered essential and paid and treated accordingly? the minimum wage has increased? people can access health care without going broke?

            in the future City and State services won’t be cut? the complexity and means testing of primary “help services” will decrease. environmental protections will increase? etc., etc., etc.

            I hate to be cynical and I know this war has been decades in the making with a couple more decades to go until The Jackpot but which of these battles are we “winning” or even making a serious dent on?

            there are so many battles on so many fronts with an entire bureaucracy and multiple reality bubbles supporting all of them. Which one is the lynchpin of them all? Is there a magic Borg sleep switch?

            Please don’t say taxes. the money / resources / power flow has to be stopped at the source not clawed back after the fact. I’m not sure that claw back is even a real thing except for those in the 10-19% as it pertains to the machine. And keep in mind that we’re talking globally now, not just the US.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Well, I finished it. It’s pretty informal, but once I started it, I felt I had to finish, and it took longer than I thought. The shorter: It’s the Democrats way of solving the problem that their current PMC base is too narrow.

          1. juliania

            I’m sorry…what is PMC?

            I thought the problem was both parties are angling to please who brung ’em, the same bunch of oligarchs. I don’t see that being mentioned but maybe that’s just my shortsightedness.

            The problem being money in politics – is that part of the “PM”?

            1. Anarcissie

              Funny money now seems to be virtually infinite for the 1% or the 0.001% or whoever’s getting it, so, as long as the money is kept away from the proles (which would cause undesirable inflation in the real economy) they can buy as many politicians as they want. Two parties, featuring cheesy people and cheesy programs (no offense to actual cheese) can easily be supported, so there may not be much real competition for support.

    2. zagonostra

      E.J. Dionne. I haven’t heard that name since I stopped listening to NPR, or was it PBS? He was always paired with that other dufus, the guy who wrote/writes editorials for the NYT and that Matt Taibbi makes fun of, Bobo or something like that, it’s been many years since I stopped listening to NPR.

      The curious thing is I was in a car the other day and the driver had “Market Place” on, with another dufus, whose name I forget as well. They were doing an anecdotal story on some young artist whose lock-down under the COV19 regime allowed her to blossom her latent artistic interest in drawings. Apparently the college student found she could sell paints on Instagram. Just the kind of story I would expect from Public Radio. Instead of highlighting the misery of millions, they pluck one “feel good” story to broadcast…I’ve come from listening to NPR everyday while commuting to work a decade or so ago, to cringing at the saccharine sound of an NPR commentator when I’m exposed to their voice.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        when i’m stuck in the car…like while wife’s in chemo…i’d rather listen to npr(or Texas Public Radio) than rush, or any of his million clones.
        aside from radio preachers…in english and spanish…that’s what’s on the radio(i generally don’t listen to music in the car…that’s reserved for out here in the wilderness)
        all that said, NPR, and their localish hangers on, used to be a lot more interesting to listen to.
        especially when they’d go in depth and in the field on some oddball story that ended up making you think.
        that rarely happens any more….predictable and boring, and so loaded with elite assumptions that it ends up being as meaningless as the rush side of the dial(just in nicer tones)
        so the radio is only on when my eyes hurt.

      2. William Hunter Duncan

        Soft propaganda for the liberal set. Sometime in the Obama years I started asking myself why all the new NPR personalities sound like 8th grade school teachers telling me what Obama, corporations, banks, billionaires and the war/intelligence community want me to believe?

        1. periol

          I had fights with my ex-wife back in the 90s about NPR and their annoying PMC soothing propaganda voices and views. As far as I can tell not much has changed. At least when I lived in New Hampshire the weather reports were pretty accurate.

          1. Olga

            It’s come a long way, baby… and turned into the National Propaganda Radio (car only, but does give one anxiety attacks).

            1. sierra7

              I choked NPR out of life back in the “First Persian Gulf War” run-up. They had the same jackass military generals as the MSM promoting the “smart-bombs” all going thru the same window……while the real story was our Secty State James Baker at the time lying thru his teeth to the media (who lapped up every sugary lie) and the UN (Just like in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
              I almost lost my brains.
              But that was the last time I watched any “news” from that vile broadcast.
              The nature programs and Nightline sometimes do a fair job…….but Oh My Gosh…the rest…….forget it.

              1. truly

                The day NPR died for me:
                it was the day after the election of DJT. A kindly and soft spoken person was interviewing people on the street about the absurdity that DJT had somehow won. They literally played recordings of people sobbing in disbelief. “Who could have voted for him”, “how did this happen”, “who are these people that supported him”? And not for one moment did it occur to the NPR spokesperson to wonder, “how is it that I live in such a bubble as to not know anyone that voted for a candidate that got around half of the popular votes”, “how verbally abusive have I been to DJT supporters that none were willing to share why they supported him”, “how out of touch must I be to have not seen this coming”?
                As far as I can tell they have never taken a look in the mirror and realized that they only serve a very small portion of the US population with their “news” services.
                It does still amaze me that the NeverTrumpers will spout their vitriolic hatred without it ever occurring to them that they might be speaking to a Trump supporter. They have been so brainwashed as to think that everyone hates him. Despite him having won a presidential election.

                1. periol

                  “As far as I can tell they have never taken a look in the mirror and realized that they only serve a very small portion of the US population with their “news” services.”

                  Of course they know that. And they serve their masters well.

                  The thing that infuriated me the most back in the 90s were the sponsorships by large multinational corporations. Read in the same dulcet tones as the news stories that followed.

        2. km

          Good point. On the rare occasions I listen to NPR, I feel like a recalcitrant schoolboy getting a lecture from some finger-wagging schoolmarm about how people are Supposed To Behave and also to Live Up To My Potential.

          1. Duck1

            I suppose it is ad hominum to recite names, but really: Kai Ryssdal, Audie Cornish, Steve Inskeep, Rene Montagne, Lizzie O’leary, Terry Gross, Kelly McEvers and on and on.
            One imagines some pedigree book of grand champions that salted the earth with these exalted folk, pulling down 2C-3C G’s, more than a few. Your pledge dollars at work.

      3. hunkerdown

        David Brooks, popularizer of the dank, pejorative term “bobo” for bourgeois bohemians?

        But some people actively like binge-watching Marriott commercials, especially those who need to believe that their lifestyles are not the stolen property of others. I tipped the maid, the nanny, and the gardener, what more do you want from me?

      4. farragut

        David Brooks was often paired with EJ Dionne, and as bad as Dionne is, Brooks is, well…insufferable.

        Kai Ryssdal is the Market Place host. And, yes, he’s just as bad. Less smug, but he spouts the approved Blob party line as good as any. To get a sense of his fealty, read this March 2018 interview with Paulson, Geithner & Bernanke about the causes of the GFC. Nary a word is spoken about the Fed’s role. Ryssdal only tosses softballs.


        I’m embarrassed to admit I used to think NPR/PBS was the pinnacle of rational objectivity for news.

        1. Olga

          There was a time when both were rational/objective. Maybe the 1980s and very early 1990s. Then they had budget troubles and, I think, made a deal… (kinda like the Guardian after 2013).

        2. JohnMinMN

          Brooks is paired with Mark Shields on Fridays PBS news hour. The other day Shields recited a heading (from the Post, maybe?) that what made Kamala a bad presidential candidate will make her a good V.P. candidate. Sheer drivel. He makes Brooks sound reasonable.

          1. Jason Boxman

            I can’t believe these people are even still around; in my younger days, I remember watching them on the news hour and thinking how fortunate we all our, to have such a functional Democracy of smart people working through their differences for the common good.


          2. rps

            Brooks got religion late in life, wrote a book “second mountain”?, and now claims he has a soul…. go figure

        3. rps

          Nah, we all just grew up and got wiser, with age comes wisdom. If you’re lucky to live long enough, you see through the facade of politics and the new improved “trust me” rhetoric is the same ole wash rinse repeat crap

      5. chuck roast

        …(or, in the left’s old language, a popular front)…I about spit the bit. The stenographers will be quoting M&E next. But then, I guess, the IDentarians will be calling them class-reductionists…an apologist food-fight. Ah well, they will all get their stories straight when the cellah’ dwellah’ bites the dust. AOC will take the hits for not working hard enough to elect the old geezer, and Russian agents will be cited as screwing-up the right-hand drives on those crazy USPS trucks. Herself will then rise from the dust to serve the American people in any way she can. Well at 8:00 EDT the Drive True’ kicks off on WERU-FM…two hours of reggae and all will be right with the world. Tune-in to the Down East funk…

      1. Tom Doak

        Yes, but it’s only the equivalent of 1932 here, so no need to worry about the distant future!

        1. Lou Anton

          I don’t know, the part about the front not listening (or more accurately, arming) the far left of the party feels like it might rhyme. Well, actually, back then the PF at least heard the left out.

                1. ambrit

                  He’ll crash and then we will have, (heaven forfend,) Harris 2021!
                  [I still give Trump a good chance of winning in November.]

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                The Biden base too for that matter. Their message amounts to affirmation they aren’t terrible people and screaming how we need to unite to fight bad policies they won’t define.

                  1. McDee

                    I just watched it. JD indeed does it again. In a 17 minute f-bomb laden rant about how bad Biden and the Dems are it was interrupted THREE times by ads by Chuck Schumer asking me to send money.to the Democratic Party! One of them started with Schumer practically yelling “Hey, You…!” These people are beyond clueless.

                  2. Briny

                    I love the juxtaposition of Act Blue advertisements before and after the Jimmy Dore piece. Extremely clueless placement.

                    1. Elizabeth

                      Jimmy Dore is great – Dems don’t care about anything that would provide concrete material benefits for people. They. Just. Don’t Care.

              2. edmondo

                I doubt Sanders has a base anymore. There are people who believe in what Sanders says he believes in but I don’t think anyone believes Bernie gives a damn anymore. It’s a sad way to see him go out but predictable. Shilling for Joe Biden, ffs. I’ve seen prostitutes with more morality. They at least get something for their services.

                1. JWP

                  Bernie primary supporters are for sure ready to switch allegiance at a moments notice. they care about policy, not a cult of personality. Now they need a new person top back. Maybe Tulsi in 2024

                  1. Jason Boxman

                    True story. That guy is dead to me. I don’t see any emails, tweets, or texts from the former campaign anymore. Unsubscribed to all of that nonsense.

                  2. Wombat

                    Or Josh Hawley or Tucker Carlson… anyone worth their salt at this point isn’t going to get mired in IP a la the squad.

                    1. Wombat

                      Ahh the “any (potential) right populist is a white nationalist” trope.

                      I hear Carlson constantly railing against globalization, gig economy, multinationals, corporate capture, hollowing of America, Amazon, tech monopolies, billionaires dodging taxes, etc. Don’t hear any of these themes prevalently in other mainstream sources.

                      I think Populism has a far better chance of blossoming from the Republicans/Liberterians than the Democrats/Liberals/ “Progressives”. We need a Teddy from the right; the Franklin failed to emerge from the left.

                    2. marym

                      It’s not a trope if it’s substantiated by rhetoric or legislation. In the US the populace is all of us. “Libertarians” need to be held to the same account on issues of class and solidarity as any would-be leader or movement of the people.

                2. dcblogger

                  judging from his subscribers on YouTube, Twitter, et al, millions of us are confident that Bernie still cares and fighting the good fight. You don’t agree with his tactics, fine, but don’t imagine that the rest of us don’t look to him, amongst others, for leadership.

                  1. Briny

                    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Sorry, Bernie isn’t the leader we need, even though he was who I wanted.

                    1. BlakeFelix

                      I mean, because we voted for the other guy (not me, Gabbard here), Bernie isn’t the leader. He could have played harder ball, but it’s not clear he would have won, and even with Bernie trying as hard as he can to help I’m not sure Biden is going to win. And I think that I agree with Bernie that Trump sucks at being president and should go. I’m not happy about it, but acting like Bernie should go support Trump like people around here seem to be leaning is easy for you to say, but I think that Bernie is and was trying to do the right thing. It is uncomfortable to watch though, sigh.

                    2. Lambert Strether Post author

                      > isn’t the leader we need

                      If Sanders had won Texas, he would have been. Still not sure what happened there. How is it possible to win California but not Texas (not in the general, but in a primary…)

                    1. Eric Patton

                      And Sanders’s fecklessness made it possible. Bernie could have put Biden away months before Iowa by hammering him on Social Security, but he chose not to. That means it wasn’t Obama or the DNC who stopped Bernie — it was Bernie himself.

                      But keep making excuses…

        2. Mikel

          This is more like the mid-19th Century in the USA. All the problems not resolved then are here like gang busters now. From how to finance the govt (and think of the long Depression that was during a technological ramp up), to Reconstruction, to Gilded Age, to first adventures in global empire…..

    3. Milton

      Coalition of the willing
      Now where have I heard that before… oh yeah:
      “should Iraqi President Saddam Hussein choose not to disarm, the United States will lead a coalition of the willing to disarm him.”

      1. Geo

        Yay! A sequel!!!

        Mission Accomplished 2: Winning Hearts & Minds at Home
        “There’s no quagmire the coalition of the willing can’t FUBAR”

        And they’re bringing back all our favorite characters from the first one!

    4. urblintz

      Sirota laments: https://sirota.substack.com/p/you-dont-have-to-be-excited

      “I’ve worked on a lot of Democratic campaigns, wins and losses. I’m literally married to a Democratic elected official. Over 20 years, I’ve put in an almost embarrassing amount of time working to support the Democratic Party. So these feelings are somewhat new for me, and I don’t think I’m having them just because Democratic officials decided to turn this year’s convention into a promotional platform for Republican icons who attacked unions, laid off thousands of workers, promoted climate denial, endangered 9/11 survivors and lied us into a war that killed hundreds of thousands of people.

      “To be demoralized at this political moment is to remember that for all the great progressive oratory during the convention, the Democratic presidential ticket is the guy who wrote the crime bill, spearheaded the bankruptcy bill and worked with Republicans to authorize the Iraq War — and, oh yeah, a runningmate who blocked her law enforcement staff from prosecuting Steve Mnuchin.

      To be demoralized is to feel momentarily uplifted by Michelle Obama’s inspiring convention speech deriding our “greed is good” culture from her Martha’s Vineyard castle — and to then remember that the Obama administration knowingly fortified that culture when it protected the Wall Street firms that destroyed millions of lives during the financial crisis…. To be demoralized, in other words, is to remember — and that’s not what Democrats do in America.”

    5. flora

      …our country, and our troops.


      “Colin Powell touts Biden’s character at DNC: ‘We need to restore those values to the White House’” [CNN]. • Oy. This is too much.

      There ya go; it’s the return of the war hawk party. Neocons rejoice! Best DNC joke I heard this week:

      “DNC offered AOC an hour’s speaking time instead of 60 seconds if she’d endorse more war.”

        1. Barmitt O'bamney

          Sometimes he contents himself with just sniffing their hair, until they get half a foot taller. Give ’em a couple more years to ripen – Joey Fingers can wait.

    6. Adam Eran

      Sure evidence that the conspiracy of mediocrity is in charge. Its motto: “You don’t call me on my bullshit, and I won’t call you on yours.”

  3. Mikel

    Stats and coronavirus/Covid.

    The US establishment , institutions, and corps are so good at narrative over scientific study, that now that that science matters more than ever, one has to wonder about the TRUE capabilities of the US.

    1. edmondo

      Quite frankly, we need to focus on the good that the Covid virus has brought us. Any pandemic that can destroy both political conventions AND the Summer Olympics is OK in my book.

        1. periol

          Don’t forget cruises!

          Personally, I also think it was high-time we gave schooling a rethink. Whatever the schooling methods used before just haven’t been working, unless the end goal is drastically different than what one would expect.

  4. DJG

    Honey from our friends the Bee People as an excellent tonic. >>

    This being a civilized blog, I am not going to ask for details about how one gargles with honey. I buy honey that is much too thick to use as a gargle. I will point out that the research for honey as an antibiotic and even antiviral is of long standing.

    I tend to eat honey on bread. That may have to suffice for me. If I feel a scratchy throat, I take a big tablespoon of honey. I also have been buying some lozenges from exotic New Zealand, made with Manuka honey, which is reputed to be an antiviral. The lozenges do work, so far as I can tell. Now to preserve bees as viable species…

    1. Krystyn Podgajski

      The Glucose Oxidase in the honey creates Hydrogen Perioxide and is the most likely reason for this effect. Note that taking zinc and copper will have the same effect in the body, turning superoxides in to Hydrogen Peroxide by stimulating SOD1 and SOD3.

      1. S.V. Dáte

        Krystyn – I know your not well and I wish I could do something. Besides that I know little about you. Who are you (maybe a wiki entry). You are wicked smart, but you know there are time I disagree. Peer review thinking. Are you ever concerned about the legality of the advice you give? One needs to meet with a patient at a minimum. Quoting NHS studies where there are ten others that refute your citation is not the way yo go.

          1. Redlife2017

            +1000 Holy crap that was the biggest concern troll I’ve seen in some time. Epic.

            I mean we are all adults here and can look stuff up after Krystyn discusses it. Bringing up “legality” and credentials is quite honestly the way that PMC’rs regulate discussions – and it IS threatening, IMHO.

        1. Yves Smith

          One more round of straw manning and ad hominem and you are out.

          Was there ANY advice in that comment? No.

          And my God, do you spend any time on the Internet? Why don’t you try starting with, oh, say paleo diets or biohacking. Those people are making money on product sales and YouTube ads recommending nonsense like putting butter in your coffee.

          The onus is on your to refute not to hand wave. Please provide links to actual studies.

    2. Glen

      Yes, I’m concerned that reports indicating honey is effective will just put a big fat target on bees. The American drug industrial complex will pay Monsento to give away “Superduper Weed (and Bee Killer) Plus” at a location near you.

    3. JTMcPhee

      Only need to preserve enough bees to assure “those who can afford it” of a sustain the supply. I’m guessing that’s not going to be a large number. As to knock-on effects, maybe the dispossessed can be “encouraged” to take little brushes into the fields to spread the pollen on crops the Elite favor…

      In the meantime, no doubt “scientists” working for the Elites will figure out how to manufacture an artificial honey, not dependent on insects or lesser humans.

    4. Billy

      Real honey please. No honey with nerve gas derivative biocides in it either.

      Please buy American organic honey, produced locally if possible, no Chinese, Indian or junk domestic.

      “It has been estimated that almost three-fourths of honey on sale at some US grocery stores, discount clubs and big box retailers is not actually honey. It’s a processed product that has been stripped of pollen, nutrients, enzymes, and vitamins. What’s left in the jar is just sweetened syrup. Alarmingly, some manufacturers even add artificial sweeteners and corn syrup to make the “honey” cheaper by diluting the original product. There’s also the risk that you may be buying adulterated honey containing pesticides, antibiotics and other contaminants that was imported illegally from China.

      Fortunately, there are four easy tests that can be done at home to reassure yourself that the product you bought is really honey.”


      1. DJG

        Billy: Thanks for the interesting link and its good advice.

        Luckily, I have access to Greek honey, even though I live in Chicago. The Greeks have been involved in the honey trade since antiquity. Currently, I have a jar that I lucked into: organic thyme honey from Crete from a small producer. A wonder.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Please buy American organic honey, produced locally if possible, no Chinese, Indian or junk domestic.

        Exactly. Also not pasteurized. It’s completely different.

      3. Amfortas the hippie

        maybe 20 years ago, when i was an organic ag activist, i was rummaging around in the US Code…the parts about ag policy…and came across the section on honey. You were allowed to call your sticky and sweet product “honey” if it contained something like 10% actual bee spit(tm).
        some time later, at a mcdonalds with my dad(he frelling loved mcdonalds), i picked up the little packet of honey he had spread on his biscuit, and noted that it came from china.
        add the two anecdotes together…and i ONLY buy honey that’s local.

      4. JoeGrows

        Unless you live in Hawaii, there is no such thing as local organic honey. The vast area in which bees forage requires that a certified organic apiculture operation certify as organic miles of surrounding area around its hives. That’s not possible for the overwhelming majority of small scale US honey producers.

        This article is old, but sadly no progress has been made at the federal level since it’s writing so the information is still valid: https://livingmaxwell.com/organic-honey-certified

        That said, buy local honey directly from the beekeepers at farmers markets, talk to them about where they locate their lives and what efforts they make to minimize the risk of their bees foraging on ground treated with synthetic chemicals. It’s the best you can do given the prevalence of such materials in the lower 48.

        1. ocop


          Most formally organic honey you (well, at least I) can find in the U.S. is actually from Brazil, where they can certify that the foraging zone (I think its a few sq miles) for the bees is pesticide free. Unfortunately, I assume this amount of space comes at the expense of the Amazon rainforest… so I second the suggestion to eschew the hunt for organic honey and stick with trusted local producers (that and you have the benefit of supporting local commerce and agriculture).

    5. carl

      I’ve been a true believer in local honey since it cured my severe second degree burns, which took up the front of my entire left thigh after I dropped a pot of boiling pasta on it. Not only did it heal, there is no scar or any sign whatsoever of an injury.

      1. ambrit

        I’ve read that the ancient Greeks used honey on burns for the sailors burned during naval battles during the Persian Wars. [Greek Fire was a dangerous weapon. One tactic used when your ship was on fire was to ram an opponent’s ship and spread the conflagration. The original Pyrolytic Victory.]

        1. Laughingsong

          Yup I use local honey mixed with a little cosmetic-grade lavender essential oil for all my burns. It takes a while for the oil to infuse the honey- and there’s always a little separation to mix up – but as many here have already attested, works brilliantly

  5. Di Modica's Dumb Steer

    That Oligarchic Dozen list is illuminating, but raises more questions. 4 out of the 12 (a full 33%) billionaires don’t seem to be doing anything, far as I can tell. Page and Brin aren’t with Google anymore, Ballmer hasn’t been with Microsoft for a hot minute, and I think Gates has been retired now for longer than he was with MSFT.

    Side note: I’m surprised the Waltons’ increase wasn’t bigger, and while I didn’t expect to see Ellison (kinda forgot about him), it’s not terribly surprising; he probably flogged the Oracle legal team a bit harder than normal.

    Seriously, though…at which point does a gigantic wad of cash not become a massive, self-sustaining, perpetual motion machine of capital? It seems like these guys would have to do something really, really stupid to lose even a chunk of their lucre.

    1. a different chris

      The list is weird.

      We all totally get Bezos. My family doesn’t care about my political views, so we get Amazon packages seems like 7 days a week. The Waltons makes sense too, unfortunately in the new “get in, get what you need, go home, at least you aren’t supporting Bezos” world the little stores do get hurt.

      But nobody with $$$ is commuting so why would an oddball auto company blow up in value? What difference at all would this situation make to Facebook? Larry Ellison??!!??!

      1. Jokerstein

        Do you not know how much money Oracle makes? Market cap: $173bm, EPS: $3.08, P/E: 18 (almost then times better than AMZN).

        They’ve been in business almost 45 years under the same CEO, and their database and Fusion apps are pretty much everywhere in the business world. They also have multi-billion cloud deals, including the US and UK governments, plus others on the way.

        As someone who’s worked with Oracle for 3.5 decades, I’m not surprised at Ellison’s wealth. It’s all from B2B, and they genuinely have some superior products.

        1. a different chris

          >I’m not surprised at Ellison’s wealth.

          We are not talking about his wealth, we are talking about his wealth increase. Why did he go up way more than say the Waltons or the rest of the 2K billionaires in the world was my question.

          But thanks for not thinking about what I said.

          Calypso Facto actually gave a real answer below.

    2. Burns

      I could be wrong, but isn’t every name on that list a monopolist of some sort? Amazon, Facebook, Google, Walmart. All have been criticized in recent years for monopolistic practices. Microsoft is the only company I recall ever coming under anti-monopoloy scrutiny.

      1. Calypso Facto

        I believe Oracle’s ‘monopoly’ is that they hold the license to Java and make enterprise pay dearly for it, and it is used in many, many things. This year they started making developers pay the licensing fee as well.

        1. hunkerdown

          Really? That’s one way of saying “25 years was a good run, now everyone port your code to Node.js by tomorrow or prepare your nose for payment”

          1. Calypso Facto

            For a long time it was the case that if you wanted a cross-platform application with concurrency, you needed to use Java. That has changed over the last decade as many big systems transitioned from monolithic to service- and microservice-oriented architectures delivered over the internet, consumed by a browser. The whales and big names’ backends are primarily built with unlicensed/open source languages like Go and Scala; thankfully I haven’t had to read a Java stacktrace on behalf of an employer since ~2013 or so.

            You are correct it is a death knell!

  6. hunkerdown

    Croatoan… That mystery had been haunting the back of my mind since the day I read of it in elementary school. Thanks for the closure, Lambert. All’s well that eats well!

    1. shtove

      Couldn’t read the article because it’s blocked in Europe, but glad to hear Roanoke had a happy ending. The success its backers had in Ireland came from war and led to more war.

    2. Martin Oline

      I have been reading much on Roanoke and Jamestown. The book titled Set Fair For Roanoke by David B. Quinn, says this about the slaves and prisoners from Drake’s 1585 voyage in the Caribbean: “Drake had released from the galleys hundreds of slaves of many nationalities – French, blacks, a large number of subjects of the Turkish sultan, and members of other European countries. . .He promised them freedom if they sailed with him, . . said by the Spanish to have taken on board some three hundred South American Indians who had helped him at Cartagena (Columbia) and were at risk from the Spanish. . . Drake’s intention in visiting the Roanoke colonists was primarily to warn and rearm them in view of the intended Spanish attack and that his destruction of St. Augustine was intended to cripple the Spanish effort. His carrying of the contents and fitting of houses to Roanoke Island was also a means by which he hoped to place reinforcements with them. Having taken a number of black household slaves to whom he promised freedom, he proposed to give it to them at Roanoke. But if he had Indians with him as well, he is likely to have left them at St. Helena’s Sound. The hurricane that destroyed most of his smaller vessels and pinnaces, mostly taken from the Spanish, is likely to to have drowned a good many of his intended reinforcements for Roanoke. . . nothing has been heard of what became of any . . . We only know that Drake brought Europeans and Moors back to England and, perhaps, a handful of blacks but no considerable number.”
      Does this mean that, unlike the currently popular belief that American history started in 1619 with the importation of African slaves, it started in 1586 with the landing of some unknown number of freed slaves from Spanish Territory?
      By the way, the Spanish did try to find and destroy Roanoke, but they couldn’t find an entrance through the outer banks and went home.

    3. griffen

      Have a hard time believing after thus so many years it’s finally put to rest what happened. I lived in Manteo for several summers during college, working for the local yokels of Maola.

      The colony that was lost and now found just doesn’t have the same allure !

  7. L

    I have said it before and I will say it again, those who are gaga over Conor Lamb Jr.’s “example” in Pennsylvania are either missing local knowledge or just don’t care.

    First, Conor Lamb Jr. is not an “outsider” or a “political novice”. He is in fact the son of Conor Lamb Sr. a veteran Pennsylvania pol and a member in good standing of the democratic machine. Conor Lamb sr. has held just about every row office in Pittsburgh and is generally well liked. Thus his son began his run for an office with all the advantages of incumbency from the name recognition to the party machine, and none of the drawbacks.

    Armed with this massive advantage he ran a platform carefully tailored to appeal to the blandest aspects of the rapidly gentrifying suburbs of Pittsburgh, with no strong views in any way. It was the epitome of unsexy focus grouped “centrism.”

    And after all of that, he won by 600 ballots, 600 ballots.

    If the best you can get with cash, connections, marketing, and name is a nail biter of an election victory then the last thing any sane person should do is to copy that example.

    But since when does sanity power the Republican Democratic party?

  8. occasional anonymous

    Regarding Thomas Frank, he did an interview with Lewis Lapham recently: https://www.laphamsquarterly.org/content/thomas-frank

    Anything with Frank is worth listening to, but here Lapham also brings a deep understanding of US (and world, I especially love the part where Frank asks him if he knows the work of 19th century French theorist Gustave Le Bon, and of course Lapham does) history. Frank also goes a bit into things he learned while researching his book, including things that weren’t included in the book.

    It occurred to me while listening to this that Lewis Lapham is an example of a genuinely erudite person, someone with both a lot of intelligence and deep knowledge. He’s a genuinely smart guy, as opposed to the kind of narrow-minded, highly educated know-nothing that inhabits the neoliberal West Wing.

    1. zagonostra

      Love Lapham. His Lapham Quarterly publication is of highest quality, thanks for link.

      Anyone who has studied propaganda knows Gustave Le Bon who Freud relied heavily on in writing his book on Group Psychology. Also Freud’s nephew, Bernays was the inventor of “Public Relations” and Chris Hedges mentions him in his writings when covering The Creel Commission during the Wilson Administration.

      What people often forget about LeBon is the work he did on Physics/Chemistry. His book “Evoloution of Matter, ” which is available for download for free, written in the early 1900’s had him way ahead of Einstein and other better known scientist in delving into the nature of radioactivity and the very structure of matter.

      He was a genius polymath who wrote well was outside the academia and therefore shunned. He never received the recognition that his works deserved…his book on Equestrianism that he wrote after being thrown from the back of a horse is still read today by those who are into horses…

  9. You're soaking in it!

    Given who Trump is and what a Trump second term would look like, the Biden-Harris campaign is America’s anti-fascist popular front — extending from Never-Trump Republicans through mainstream Dems to the far Left. We must unite and win. We can sort out everything else afterwards.

    Oh, if only Comrade Stalin knew . . .

    1. Olga

      Wouldn’t it just be the result of a frothy stock market (divorced from reality) – an nothing to do with actual productivity and sales?

      1. John k

        Yes, but… if that is the case, then other stocks might be frothy, too… oh, probably not. And anyway the fed won’t allow it all to fall again. Right? Right?

  10. TB

    I’d like to blame people for being such goddamn morons that they don’t know how the convention works and are getting mad at AOC, but honestly the fact is that nominations used to work differently has been completely erased from popular history. I bet if you polled people on the street about it 90% of people would say that Abe Lincoln won the primaries and that’s how he became the nominee.

    Hot take time but I think honestly less democracy in the parties is in a sense better; the Democrats don’t want us in the party, they only want us to vote for their guy, but nobody knows what a party is anymore either. Primaries and so on do not eliminate the back-room deals, as this year has made perfectly clear, they only obscure them with under a veil of primaries that provide plausible deniability. If Bernie knew what a party was he would have realized that Obama beat him with the Perez/Ellison thing and wouldn’t have wasted huge amounts of poor people’s money on a pointless attempt at a nomination impossible for him to get. Imagine if he’d spent that time building a movement instead of a bullshit candidate-centered campaign?

    1. Dr. John Carpenter


      I’d add it’s not just the people mad at AOC but also the ones who cheered as if it meant anything have had me shaking my head. I agree that the primary voting has just pushed the smoke filled rooms further out of sight and replaced them with a Wrestlemania style spectacle.

      I do take issue with the idea that Bernie didn’t know what he was up against. He knew. There’s no way he could be in the Democratic party for as long as he has been without knowing. I couldn’t speculate as to why he still did what he did, but I can’t pretend he didn’t know how the game was played either.

        1. neo-realist

          As I recall there was some voter suppression shenanigans going on in Texas during the primary: Fewer voting machines, broken machines, understaffed polling places, closed locations, and long waits in the districts that were perceived to be more progressive.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            and the pandemic was just blowing up right then, too.
            I totally missed the post-texas-primary news and howling…that’s a huge blank, for me….and i am usually keenly aware of such things. And really, everything after South Carolina is a blur.
            “never let a crisis go to waste”

            1. Jen

              That’s the other piece – the pandemic. The DNC wanted in person voting until Bernie dropped out, did they not?

              1. Pat


                There was some speculation that it was made clear to him that there would only be in person voting until he dropped out.

        2. dcrane

          How much would have really changed? I think that the Democrats would have pulled out every stop to prevent Sanders from winning their primary. If they had had to go full Russiagate, renege on superdelegates, and change every rule of their convention to deny him they would have done so.

          Anyway, without the preceding year’s multipronged effort from the Dems and their media allies to diminish/demean/deny Sanders’ campaign while terrifying their base with “national emergency” rhetoric about Trump being a Russian plant, Sanders would have won TX and done even better in the preceding contests.

      1. zagonostra

        Whether Bernie knew the game was rigged against him from the get go so there was no way he could win or whether he was fighting the good and noble fight seems to be a major dividing line between say the Kyle Kulinski, Tim Blacks, TYT’ers and the lone view as forcefully expressed by Jimmy Dore.

        I think that I fall in the JD camp, though when it was first suggested that Bernie was SheepDoggin, I took issue with that view and rejected it. Bernie is either a figure of Greek Tragedy or a Judas. Which ever it is, he certainly squandered his chance to make enduring changes to politics in the early 21 century for nothing has changed for the better from 2016 and you could make the argument that things have gotten worse.

        1. TB

          Personally I think the idea that Bernie has been intentionally “sheep dogging” is nonsense; the whole weight of public discourse is leaning on the idea that the voters choose, pure and disinterested, and that political influence and dealmaking is a conspiracy theory. How many people here think they have a “right” to vote and decide the Democratic nominee? How many people here (or on Chapo style left Twitter or whatever) would have screamed and cried and denounced if Bernie had spent like 5 minutes building coalitions instead of basing everything on “the voters”? Everybody loves to talk about FDR’s enemies but they never talk about his friends: he was the ultimate insider. He spent twenty years building connections with the national party before he ran for president, he didn’t come burning out of the grassroots on some popular movement. Even me saying this sounds like I’m accusing him of being “corrupt”, because that’s how we think of this shit now thanks to centuries of anti-party propaganda.

          I don’t even believe in electoralism, I’m an anarchist. I believe the Bernie campaign was a total waste of time (one which I contributed my own money and time to because I too am living in history and cannot escape the weight of these overwhelmingly popular political theories) but I don’t blame him or his supporters, we’ve built a truly incredible candy-colored castle in the air about how politics works and it’s obscured everything so we’re all walking around in a fog.

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          I don’t know…i reckon that Bernie…like Occupy before him…HAS made a significant change in the zeitgeist.
          it is far more easy to talk about the New Deal…and the need for a New New Deal…in the proverbial feed store than it was pre-2015.
          That’s significant, right there.
          would a fringe of the gop be able to talk so openly about their pseudo newdealerism(Hawley) if Bernie hadn’t changed the discussion?
          Those ideas….and the broader “feeling” complex they’re embedded in…are out there, now…running loose.
          that’s why i’ll keep the picture of bernie and the bird in the image rotation on the desktop background…along with all the hawt nubiles and plants.
          and remember the lengths the demparty had to go to to snuff him out(still don’t understand the sudden capitulation…anybody seen jane? is she in a basement somewhere?)
          even true believer Republicans have told me that they think he got shafted.
          That’s significant, too.
          The Establishment “won”, but damaged themselves in doing so.

          1. Judith

            Jamal Bowman said that Bernie was “jumped” or that he would have been the democrat candidate. I have wondered what it was that Obama said to Bernie just before he stopped his campaign.

  11. William Hunter Duncan

    “It’s hard to see how government regulation would “hurt” the “user experience” more than Google’s own crapification.”

    There was a giant plume of black smoke rising in the sky in Minneapolis yesterday. I googled ten different ways, what is burning in minneapolis right now? Most recent news result, from two weeks ago; bulk of results from back in May.

    I don’t shout much anymore at my devices, “geez Google you are worthless,” but that is mostly because I rarely use Google for anything anymore.

  12. NotTimothyGeithner

    I thought I would mention this here, but in regards to the recent todo about baseball’s “unwritten rules, its apparent the uproar is directed at a non-white player. As for the rule of sportsman ship nonsense about not swinging at a 3-0 pitch since Little League, the reason you don’t swing at a 3-0 pitch at younger levels is the next pitch is going to be a ball. Kids are terrible pitchers by and large, but hitting a baseball is really hard. If a kid can throw a strike, it will be a called strike, but they usually don’t because kids are terrible. It has nothing to do with sportsmanship.

  13. Max

    The Bay Area is covered in smoke today from various fires both nearby and far away. I walked out of the house this morning to find my car covered in a thin layer of ash. Our power was out for four hours last night as well.

    Family near Nevada City was evacuated due to the Jones fire, the four of them and their dog are safe and staying with their college son and his roommates in Humboldt.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      I suppose that’s better than my take on the convention: We have to work to make the candidate win to know what the candidate stands for.

      1. Milton

        It’s the geode candidacy. You won’t know what it is made of until after the election and you put a hammer to it.

    2. Procopius

      I haven’t been able to locate it just now (Google crapification again), but in the ’50s former President Truman made a speech in which he pointed out that it was counterproductive for Democrats to adopt Republican policies. People can tell the difference between a fake Republican and a real one, and they will vote for the real one every time. John Kasich and three more Republicans speaking at the DNC Convention? Really? That’s what they expect me to vote for? I really liked Jill Biden’s speech, thought it was the only effective speech made by a Democrat all week, but the DNC actively works to insure I will not vote for them.

  14. Amfortas the hippie

    regarding the locust pheromone in the Nature art:
    That’s pretty exciting.
    an attractant that specifically targets only the problem bug can be very useful in controlling outbreaks. I assume that they were using ordinary Sticky Traps for their tests, in which case it’s no wonder they had only “modest” results.
    Hoppers are pretty big bugs, and have enormous strength for their size…especially in their spring loaded hind legs.
    The sticky traps i use for flies over the compost piles by the house are not up to the task with hoppers…at best, they leave a leg behind.
    you’d need some serious sticky goop to capture them.
    some kind of gauzy fabric in which they get tangled might be a better option.
    the traps i built work well enough, but would be hard to scale up to a level that could make a difference over several square miles: liberated ice chests from the dump, with a 3 foot section of shiny roofing metal(what we call “tin”)screwed sticking up on one side, placed under a yard light to where the light illuminates the metal, and half filled with water.
    hoppers launch themselves at the shiny metal, and fall in the water.
    I wouldn’t use these except in our 4 year state of exception(one of my favorite phrases, right now—here referring to the grasshopper plague)—because they catch all kinds of other bugs that i might not want to harm.
    but it does catch a lot of grasshoppers.
    another thing that also works at night is an ordinary campfire…we use the “bathroom trash”, collected in those plastic walmart bags to start fires in the woodstoves, as well as to burn in barrels when there’s a late freeze.
    in summer, it goes in a waterproof feed sack, and gets piled in several fire rings i strategically place where hoppers congregate.
    I’ll light it up at 4am with a splif and coffee and watch hundreds of hoppers fling themselves into the flames…brighter the fire, the more they come.
    it’s very gratifying.

    I’ll happily test whatever pheromone attractant they come up with.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        but it’s either gonna enter the landfill, or be useful in some way.
        the composting toilet uses a dry composting method…takes a long while…and the paper, even though it’s designed to break down readily, requires water to do so.
        as with everything else having to do with this toilet, i experimented…
        alternatives to TINA require fortitude and agility.
        because of the layout of our portion of the place, it was necessary to do something other than the normal septic system—no room on this side of the road for field lines, etc….would have cost an additional $8k…with permits and special dispensation to get it across the road, as well as the professional septic people to accomplish it…who are averse to thinking outside the box. this required no permits(per texas law),no extensive digging, and instead of a pump truck coming out every 5-10 years to empty the septic tank and spread it on the pasture(the common way, out here), I do it as a regular maintenance task. the barrels sit, covered, in the pasture for a year….and if placed strategically, deter coyotes, as well.
        the Ick Factor is learned behaviour.

  15. Glen

    If you go here: https://fsapps.nwcg.gov/googleearth.php

    You can download a KML file which maps the US fire satellite data into Google Earth. I’m using the AFM KML bundle.

    I’m watching the fires in California, and they are taking off today. It would be really nice if we restarted something like the CCC, and got a whole lot of people in our forests doing work to prevent more of these huge fires. It’s a job, cannot be done by automation, no coding skills required. We have to be much more proactive about conserving our environment.

    And everybody near one of those fires – be safe!

  16. periol

    At least 9 high temp records were broken in southern California yesterday, 3 were tied. The graphic below covers San Diego county, Orange County, Riverside County, and San Bernadino County. I’m pretty sure there were more records broken or tied, it was definitely very hot yesterday.


    Santa Ana hit 106!
    Ramona (in foothills outside San Diego) also hit 106!

    I spent some formative years in Orange County, so I’m used to the indian summers and I remember some extreme heat during school in August and September, but this heat wave is definitely on another level in this area, this late in the season.

  17. TBellT

    I have an old college roommate who represents the “New Democrat” to a T. Watches CNN regularly, MBA, loathed Bernie when he was getting close, considered voting for Bloomberg, mad at Trump for the SALT change in the tax law cuz he pays more in taxes.

    Last two nights been going off on how AOC needs to get in line and shouldn’t be snapping at Kasich or Powell. And I just look at the 70 vs 30 graph above and how the primary played out and what the DNC message is and I just said “your side has been winning this whole time and you’re still a miserable complainer, what the hell is wrong with you”. Literally the more I hear from him the more I want to support Trump just to spite him, its so nasueating.

    1. hunkerdown

      Nah, he’d be okay with that because you’re still staying in the Market, and neoliberals have been known to stop at nothing to reproduce their sociopathic paradigms of submission to a rigged reality.

    2. Pelham

      Oh, please do consider supporting Trump. If Biden wins, the Dems will take it as a complete validation of the “New Democrat,” leading to 12 deadly years of Biden and then Harris. If Trump wins, the Dem neoliberals will be definitively discredited — possibly leaving room for something better.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        leading to 12 deadly years of Biden and then Harris.

        Obama led the Democratic Party to the loss of 1000 seats and his margins in the electoral college weren’t that big against Romney/Ryan. It won’t be 12 years. If Harris isn’t forced hard left or defeated in a primary, Hawley or Hailey wins in 2024. The Team Blue campaign apparatus is now focused on “normalizing” Trumpian policies as long as you say, “please and thank you” or make sure to pay off the right people.

      2. TBellT

        “If Trump wins, the Dem neoliberals will be definitively discredited — possibly leaving room for something better.”

        That’s what people said when Clinton lost. There’s no reason to believe it’s more likely now than it was back then. The line is going to become “Dems were too far left”, how could it not.

        1. John

          Left of what? Vito Marcantonio was left; Gus Hall was left. The democratic party nomenklatura of today would go hide in the closet if the real left actually walked into the room.

        2. Jen

          The neoliberals will not, too themselves, ever be discredited. The voters will always be to blame. I think the main fight is down ballot. That said, I fear what comes after 4 years of “nothing fundamentally changing” more than 4 more years of Trump, and the prospect of either sucks beyond the telling of it.

          1. TBellT

            Trump also represents “nothing fundamentally changing”; in the 70/30 graph above there is no discernable impact of Trump on the relative positions of the two cohorts at least from his first year. I have seen no evidence he’s achieved anything in that respect and nothing he’s proposed for his next four years would tackle it.

            To me it’s clear that whoever wins it’s certain the next 4 years will continue to reward the traditional winners. Honestly I just want to ignore the whole farce but I’m not good at it.

        3. vidimi

          the only difference is veneer. trump is just more vulgar, but the politics would largely be the same. biden offers nothing more than trump in a pandemic + depression except “civility” and “bipartisanship”.

          neither biden winning nor losing will move the democrats left. so who cares?

  18. NotTimothyGeithner

    Team Blue Unity means only praising Colin Powell, John McCain, and John Kasich for their anti-choice views and thanking them for denouncing young women of color!

    1. RMO

      “We value diversity and believe we need to listen to the voices of women and people of color… unless they want to say that they would prefer a different candidate to the old, white, male, warmongering, lying, plagiarizing, addle-minded rapist we picked for them. If they’re like that it’s off to the rat pit with ’em!”

  19. Bruno

    How quaint the ways of paradox!

    “ ‘Quantum paradox points to shaky foundations of reality’ [Science]. First I’ve heard. Perhaps we have a physicist in the readership who can explain this.”

    No we don’t have one, and for a very simple reason. To explain anything at all to a normal english-speaking human being you have to do so *in English*. And physicists don’t speak English. In our language, the word “observation” absolutely implies the existence of a perceiving observer. The *observable* is by definition the *perceptible*. For physicists, in contrast, the word “observation” means nothing of the sort. It applies to human inferences from results provided by an *experimental apparatus*. No one has ever perceived or will ever perceive a black hole or an elementary particle in the human sense of “observe,” but physicists talk of “observation” all the time. Their “paradox,” and indeed all “paradoxes,” like the paradox of Frederic having to stay a pirate until 1940, is simply a play on the fact that a combination of letters that constitute a word in ordinary human usage but refers to something different in a different usage ( birth date means something different from birthday) is used with a meaning logically incompatible with the meaning of the same sentence when the latter uses that word in a different sense than the former.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the paradox of Frederic having to stay a pirate until 1940

      Ha ha! That’s what came into my mind, too!

      “He dared to practice on our credulous simplicity!”

    2. Zagonostra

      It depends on whether you view it from the standpoint of an early Ludwig Wittgenstein or late Ludwig Wittgenstein perspective. The late W, would say these paradoxes are simply word games, that you can never get to the underlying nature of that elusive “thing” called reality.

      1. witters

        “The late W, would say these paradoxes are simply word games, that you can never get to the underlying nature of that elusive “thing” called reality.”

        I’m pretty sure he’d think the very idea of ‘an elusive “thing” called reality’ a confusion.

  20. Another Scott

    The Atlantic is now publishing articles in favor of privatizing airports.


    Meanwhile the City of St. Louis has been trying to sell off its airport for reasons that aren’t exactly clear, although I think this columnist has the right idea.


    It’s never been clear to me if the companies actually buying or leasing the airports are more profitable than other companies (I’ve seen studies on both ends), but it is clear that the legions of consultants, advisors, and lawyers generate massive amounts of hours and fees.

    1. allan

      The Atlantic is owned by Laurene Powell Jobs. Her net worth is $19.5 billion.
      It is not surprising that The Atlantic publishes things
      that would help the .00001% at the expense of the 99.9999%.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I think its less of a merger than old people who are clinging to power who simply can’t let go. Look at the ages of these people. Their great white hope is a Kennedy. The only good Kennedy died in 1968. The youngest person who voted for JFK is 81.

      We saw with Harris, Mayo Pete, O’Rourke, Klob and so forth that the old mealy mouth Bill Clinton might get a candidate 15 minutes but its going nowhere. Kasich was a FoxNews host who thought he should run for President. His time is up too.

      AOC is simply AOC. She’s under 30 and had no official back and is star of the future. Cindy McCain? WTF. Kasich won one state in the GOP primary and had less delegates than Rufio. The CEO that wrecked HP.

      In five years, what are the odds Biden, Clyburn, Pelosi, Schumer could all be dead with careers that no history will praise. They are holding onto their kingdoms in some desperate attempt to change their narrative.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I think its less of a merger than old people who are clinging to power who simply can’t let go.

        This is vacuous. Obama’s 59. Michelle Obama’s 56. It takes time to accumulate power, and the powerful tend not to surrender it.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          They didn’t even deliver prime spots to their followers if Harris is a Clinton flunky. Even after Pelosi decried her mid terms “wins” not getting the press of the squad, the DNC isn’t even trotting out younger, right wing democrats. They could trot out Abigail Spanberger. She beat a Teabagger after all. The DNC is moving in a direction of old men yelling at the kids on the lawn.

        2. a different chris

          uh… I actually agree with your point but your support is weird, unless it’s “the exception that proves the rule”.

          >It takes time to accumulate power,

          Obama went from Illinois Senate to president in 11 years.

          >he powerful tend not to surrender it.

          And he’s not in any elected office now nor does he seem likely to pursue one.

          1. Redlife2017

            Power does not equal elected office. Obama showed his power with the “Night of the Long Knives”. Historically, the boyz in the smoke filled backroom often do not hold elected office. And Obama is clearly not giving up what power he has in the Democratic Party. Nor are the Clintons. Two of the powerful factions are on the ticket: Biden (the Obama candidate – even if he doesn’t like him), Harris (the Clinton candidate). And they hate the Sanders faction.

            To make up for the Sanders faction the Obama / Clinton factions have invited the Bush patrician faction of the the Republican Party. That faction includes the people that made up Bush I’s inner circle: Neo-cons & Spooks (Team B & Rummy / Cheney-types like Condi Rice, Colin Powell, and Kasich), and Old(ish) Money* (Bush I was oldish money and see Romney as oldish money along with McCain who crosses both oldish money and neo-cons). And yes, I put Dubya under the Bush patrician faction and not the Tea Party / Libertarian faction or the Rushdoony Christian Reconstructionist faction. Dubya worked WITH those factions. But he has outed himself at the point as a Bush patrician with his close relationship with the Obamas.

            I’ll note that I’m being very reductionist, so this isn’t the a) full list of factions nor b) the full membership of any faction.

            *Living in the UK, the US does have a hilarious view of old money. I mean, the Cameron family has been in Parliament since the English Civil War. Now THAT is old money and old power.

      2. Pat

        Yes and No.

        The Republicans were overrun by their populist uprising, and those who could use those populists. Hi. Their “adults in the room” have been in rebellion since Trump did an end run around their road blocks.

        The Democrats held off the first attack.And if their candidate hadn’t been incompetent they wouldn’t have been about resistance and opposition. They would probably have been okay, but people actually wanted opposition. So then came the squad. AND Sanders being more popular than any of them. Suddenly the second party could fall.

        The “Adults” of both parties didn’t want the riffraff making any demands, including for things they agree with. Neither wanted a big tent. Most importantly none of them wanted to build a party apparatus from.the outside. So the Democratic Party had to be saved…for them.

        It isn’t just the old guard. Many of the candidates that have been running in Democratic primaries are former Republicans. That isn’t a coincidence.

        The only change is the cooperation is out in the open. Rank and file Republicans and Democratts are likely thinking it will all go back to normal once Trump is vanguished.

        Personally I figure if Biden wins full Republican opposition will be limited to ending the populist policies that survived like $15/hr minimum wage. But like so much of what we saw in the Trump years, bipartisan passage of the usual crap will continue. Meanwhile former Republicans will litter the administration, fill every possible Democratic primary. Oh a few still Republicans will be there too, but that’s just not to be too obvious.

        Sound crazy? Imagine whether you would have believed back in 2012 that at the 2020 convention more time would have been given to Colin Powell and an anti choice Republican governor than to up and coming Democratic Congressional members and snubbed Presidential primary nominees.

        They are saving their one party from oblivion.

    2. Tom Doak

      I think it’s all a charade. All of the political faces are meant to distract from the coalition that is really coming together.

      That’s the money, of course. For years they have pretended that somehow Wall Street and Silicon Valley are on one side, and Charles Koch and Sheldon Adelson on the other, but they’ve all realized they want a party where their interests are reliably protected from the people (Bernie fans or Trump fans, ie Socialists and Protectionists).

      But can that really be the future of the D party? Only if the remaining factions somehow coalesce into a new R party, because the key to it working is to have a two party system, and no real alternative. The moneyed centrists are not a big enough faction to win a controlling majority in a three way race.

    3. Jason Boxman

      And this theorizing is what makes these posts worth reading every weekday! It’s interesting to consider from a strategic level, even if however it plays out is a train wreck for the working class and humanity in general. It’s hard not to marvel at the wanton depravity; although this would signal that Democrats actually do want to win, but only on certain terms agreeable with their class sentiments.

      The people, no. Indeed.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          i often forget that it’s there, but Policy Tensor is a hellova read.
          adjacent to your link:https://policytensor.com/2020/08/13/the-elegy-of-the-new-american-left/

          “The Harris pick is a signal, if any was necessary, that a Biden administration will not be sympathetic to the alleged new-found power of the New American Left(they mean Bernie/New Dealer). This means that the left must again play the long game. It it not time for optimism, as important voices on the left have argued; it is time for introspection. The left must ask itself why Corbyn and Bernie were both outmaneuvered. Even in the midst of almost complete de-legitimization of incumbent elites, especially the political classes, how is it that the left failed so utterly in the instrumental goal of securing power? The golden opportunity of the past few years was bungled. But why? Without grappling with our failures, we cannot hope to surmount them. It really does not help to pretend that things are going dandy for the left. They aren’t.”

          in light of that, and your link…as well as my rant that Lambert hoisted the other day about wilful blindness of my PMC family, perhaps the Real Left(lol) should abandon the PMC altogether, and start talking to the Hawley’s of the world, and the rednecks and dirtbags and deplorables who actually comprise the “working class”…and who are currently—at least in the places i go—disenchanted with the GOP, in the same general way that people like me are disenchanted with the Dems.

          1. Dr. John Carpenter


            I really think if we could convince people to reorient to some form of haves vs have nots rather than right vs left (which we don’t really have anyway), we’d be getting somewhere. Unfortunately I also think the introduction of IDPol as a weapon was done exactly to keep that from happening.

          2. S.V. Dáte

            God I’m sick of it, either the Dems & Republicans are the same or not. Cultural differences aside. I have worked in Gvt at the highest level. There are no plots to do anything – at least as the term ‘plot’ is normally used. You have no factual basis to say trump ot Biden will do this or that. You are reading tea leaves. Tarot cards. What is true is people are suffering (and don’t own a spread in Texas (sorry I’m from Wyoming)) and before they break they will fight. Fight. The answers are not found in philosophy no matter what it is you think is being said. Yes I know your a prince @NC. Doesn’t mean logically you speak the truth, ok?

            1. periol

              “I have worked in Gvt at the highest level. There are no plots to do anything – at least as the term ‘plot’ is normally used.”

              I don’t understand why you think “government”, particularly the American government, is where things do or don’t get done in this country – at least, for the good of the American people. On the national level, I’m hard-pressed to pick a presidency that hasn’t intentionally crippled the government as many ways as possible during my lifetime. Our legislators, both locally and nationally, largely rely on corporations and think-tanks to write laws. And then there are the lobbyists…


    4. Tony Wikrent

      Lambert writes: “We really are looking at a merger between the (factions of) the Democrat Party and (factions of) the Republican Party at the national leadership level.” and “waiting for “the fever to break,” the “fever” being right-wing populism.”

      This analysis coheres very closely to Thomas Frank’s explanation of “elite consensus” based on “affinity” among elites in his new book, The People: No! . Listen to Frank’s discussion of this in his interview with Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper last week — beginning just before 1:23:00 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5mIKZZrNoo — of Richard Hofstadter and the “consensus intellectuals” and how they completely destroyed the proper, original meaning of “populism.” Listening to this interview, I was struck by the idea that this elite hostility toward “the hayseeds” is an unintended and unforeseen result of the GI Bill putting 2.2 million Americans through college!

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Listening to this interview, I was struck by the idea that this elite hostility toward “the hayseeds” is an unintended and unforeseen result of the GI Bill putting 2.2 million Americans through college!

        How my father’s career was made, the GI Bill. Getting his degree and teaching others (he was beloved by students). Sad that all that has been destroyed by a plague of locust-like neo-liberals and college administrators.

    1. Wukchumni

      The winds were swirling on high yesterday @ Atwell Mill in the forest for the trees where long standing members of the community which went toes up 5 or 6 years ago to the 1-2 punch of the drought & bark beetles, were heard crashing in the distance-6 or 7 going horizontal in fifteen minutes.

  21. Mikel

    “For the nature of the Black people liberal Democrats do accept and respect, see Adolph Reed here; Reed is, I think, restating the idea of “the talented tenth.”)

    The entire establishment is buoyed by memes of “chosen ones” in some form or the other. Such memes in their various forms are the bane of humanity’s existence.
    Hence how this pandemic is being handled, especially in the US.

  22. Phil in KC

    Lambert, concerning your theory of the Assimilation: the fact that Cindy McCain was given more time than AOC explains at least half your theory’s narrative.

    Both the Dem and Pub donor bases want to and need to retain control of the parties and the debates within and between the parties. Who will be willing to cede power and shut up?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Both the Dem and Pub donor bases want to and need to retain control of the parties and the debates within and between the parties. Who will be willing to cede power and shut up?

      Hmm. As monopolists, the donors should know how to divvy up a cartel…

  23. Mikel

    This entire election is still Trump’s to lose.
    Just because there are now even more ways to supress protest hasn’t made people LESS angry since 2016.
    The stay at home orders have actually put the liberal, work-from-home establishment in a bigger bubble.

  24. Dave

    In Thomas Piketty’s Capital and Ideology he talks about how this alliance of what he calls the “brahmin left” and the “merchant right” is being formed all around the world, in reaction to an increasingly restive working class. He draws an analogy between this contemporary alliance and that of clergy and nobility in earlier times. This combining of ruling forces ultimately will not, in his view, be able to break the wave of discontent and will inevitably give way to something else.

    1. hunkerdown

      The last time some economist talked about inevitable changes, the Austrians launched a generations-long right-authoritarian counterrevolution that they might have already won.

      1. Dave

        You would probably be fine with the CliffNotes . It is too damn long. But his perspective is useful.

    2. vidimi

      that something else will most likely be a form of fascism, because the neoliberal order will not allow socialism to take power from its cold, dead hands, whereas it will cede power to fascism easily to preserve itself. Essentially, fascism is neoliberalism without the liberal veneer. once you can no longer raid the planet through consent, which is what neoliberalism does, the next step is fascism.

  25. Bob

    I’m sorry that there is no mention of the power that the largely anonymous multimillion dollar donors have.

    For example – A well known gaming executive donates upwards of $100 million and is able to relocate the US Embassy in Israel, is able to dictate U.S. foreign policy toward certain countries, and is able to get the President to announce on TV that college football is very important – (important to whom ? the odds makers ?)

    A well known ex mayor of a large American city is able to induce the DNC to hire his flawed and failed campaign staff after an 18 million dollar donation.

    And so it goes –

    Assuming that the policy decisions at the DNC are made without taking multimillion dollar donations into account. fails to acknowledge the role that donations (bribes) have in political campaigns.

    1. jaaaaayceeeee

      It’s become so ridiculous to see corporate news media, the Economist, and everybody else who is NOT being ignored by them ‘explain’ ideological motivations, ‘explain’ how kleptocrats are ‘strongmen’, explain how it is conservative or moderate to serve your biggest donors at the expense of those who elect them, ‘explain’ how the most powerful corporations simply must become more ‘mature’ (internet monopoliies for example), explain that leadership is the ticket, etc….

      The same way that the phrase ‘economic demand’ disappeared during Obama’s administration (along with all the labor reporters), economic incentives are studiously ignored, and those who want to fix the bad economic incentives, that were purchased in the best democracy money can buy, are problematic (enemies) to the goal of extending an unsustainable status quo.

      I always end up thinking of the word “incoherent” when I read articles from acceptable, mainstream media..

  26. bun

    “ ‘Quantum paradox points to shaky foundations of reality’ [Science]. First I’ve heard. Perhaps we have a physicist in the readership who can explain this.”

    nobody can explain this. and I do not say that pejoratively.

    As stated above, the ‘paradox’ lies in trying to use everyday english to describe experimental results and abstract mathematical constructs. What happens in the “quantum realm” (for you Avengers fans out there) is very VERY different from what people would expect extrapolating from their everyday experience. Somehow, some way, all that quantum stuff ‘averages out’ in everyday life to yield the ‘reality’ we all face. Exactly how, and moreover how to say it in words, has kept theorists and science writers gainfully employed for almost a century. Like Godot, I am still searching for the one who could explain it to me, and I’ve asked people like Eugene Witten and Roger Penrose (pardon the name drop) about it.

    That article is in a long line of similar tracts trying to explain the heretofore unexplainable. Physics wise, it is very very cool. If it were written in Physics Today, it would be followed by “and this could find application in “.

  27. Kurtismayfield

    RE: Quantum Paradox.

    Your time space relationship to the particle is different than the other observer.. therefore the way you observe the particle is different. The time it takes for the observation of the particle to come to you is already different than the observer in the room.. so your measurement is different.

    That is my simplistic view on the quantum paradox.

  28. upstater

    Will Delta Ban The Man Who Killed Bin Laden?

    Robert J. O’Neill, the former US Navy Seal who killed Osama Bin Laden in a 2011 raid, posted on Twitter today from his Delta Air Lines flight. He simply took a selfie while not wearing a mask, and posted it with the caption “I’m not a p*ssy.” He posted this early this morning, and just now deleted it, about five hours after it was posted.

    Karma may put this guy on a ventilator next week…

    1. Kurtismayfield

      The sad part is that if he was wearing a mask he would be protecting others.. not himself. He may not be a p$&#@, but he sure is selfish.

  29. Wukchumni

    Book Tip:

    Fire by George R. Stewart

    Lightning strike wildfires fanned out of control by unexpected winds and all that jazz.

  30. polecat

    ‘Goddammit Lambert !!’ ( sorry for using my inner Sigourney .. ) Put on your Hoffman’s .. for Gaia’s Sake!

    We’re All Cattle man! .. and That’s a Really big deal, Don’t ya get it?

    Hope you have some bubble gum stored away, for those lean-n-mean times …

  31. TBellT

    Re: Quantum Paradox

    My physics is rusty but this seems closely related to Bell’s theorem. Einstein and others did not like the probalisitic results of QM because of its philosophical suggestions of a nonobjective reality. They asserted that there must be “hidden variables” we were not catching that explained the behavior and QM was incomplete. Therefore the philosophical implications of QM need not be considered.

    Bell showed that if that were the case then a “theory with hidden variables and bounded by locality (e.g. cause and effect are limited by speed of light)” it would diverge with QM predictions in certain situations.

    Experiments have been tried to test this for a while and all seem to come down on the side of QM and not a local hidden variables theory. However, there are experimental/theoretical “loopholes” that people use to say that the results are not definitive.

    This paper seems to establish a new way to test a popular way of getting around QM implication. They than do an experiment to perform the test and claim the results closes off that explanation. But I’d need more time to digest.

    Paper on arxiv : https://arxiv.org/abs/1907.05607

    Wikipedia on Bells theorem and loopholes :


  32. The Rev Kev

    “Scientists worried the pandemic would cause malaria deaths to soar. So far, it hasn’t happened”

    There is a possible answer here. In Africa the use of Hydroxychloroquine is widespread to treat malaria I am given to understand. Since stocks were used for that, when Coronavirus hit, I bet that they were repurposed to treat it as well. And I note that Africa has not been hit bad by this virus going by an article that was in either links or water cooler the other day. So perhaps its use against Coronavirus is also protecting them against malaria as well. That might explain this result.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > In Africa the use of Hydroxychloroquine is widespread to treat malaria I am given to understand. Since stocks were used for that, when Coronavirus hit, I bet that they were repurposed to treat it as well.

      Good point, though I can’t recall research showing that. I’ll try to look.

  33. RMO

    “University of Connecticut is slated to pay “white fragility” scholar Robin DiAngelo $20,000 to lead a three-and-a-half-hour workshop this fall for administrators”

    The great thing is that nothing will really change so she’ll be able to do this again and again, cashing in each time – because any “failure” of the workshop when it comes to results will of course be blamed on the participants not wanting to overcome their own racism. The people in charge will be able to proclaim loudly how much they are doing to fight racism, they can probably use the workshop to play office politics and neutralize or eliminate rivals and DiAngelo rakes in the cash! There’s no better way to improve things for people of colour than to pay a white woman over $5700 per hour to PMCsplain things to administrators.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The great thing is that nothing will really change so she’ll be able to do this again and again, cashing in each time

      Well, that’s certainly a viable business model for consulting: Sell the same IP over and over again. If the problem isn’t soluble, so much the better!

  34. Bill Carson

    Regarding the lawyers’ billable hours (full disclosure: I are one), I take issue with the assertion in that Ozy article that, “it did not take long for the lawyer’s time sheet to go from a record-keeping tool to a record-breaking profit generator.”

    Notwithstanding the ability to employ associates and pay them a fraction of their billable rate, the hourly billing model is actually a terrible business model from a financial perspective, especially for small firms and solo practitioners. This is because the lawyer’s revenue is limited by the number of hours they can bill in a given year. I charge $300/hr and that’s a lot of money. But even assuming that I had enough paying clients to keep me 100% busy and charging 2,000 hours per year (the mere thought of which is laughable), then my gross revenue would be $600,000 per year. Then subtract from that all of the business expenses necessary to generate that income, then subtract taxes, and that income is coming down to earth. And then consider that the average lawyer only bills 2.3 hours per day, so that $600,000 figure is cut by 3/4ths at the very beginning of the maths. For what? You have a job that doesn’t provide health insurance or retirement benefits, nor vacation pay, personal leave, or a company car.

    This is why you find the attorneys making REAL MONEY don’t charge by the hour—they charge contingency fees based upon results delivered. How do you think they can afford to run so many commercials?

    Meanwhile, the hourly billing model creates an instant conflict of interest between the lawyer and client. It stifles innovation in the services provided. There is NO incentive to devise ways to provide more services at less cost or to provide them to a larger segment of society beyond those who have the inclination and capacity to pay. And so we end up with an artificial crisis of having 75% of litigants in domestic matters who attempt to litigate without hiring an attorney. We already know we have too many attorneys and we have lots of people who need a lawyer; why can’t we find ways to bring these two groups together? To allow the attorneys to provide valuable services for a reasonable fee not tied to the amount of time spent? We can’t do this because state ethics and disciplinary boards won’t let us. “You can’t charge a flat fee in a divorce case unless it is shown to be reasonable.” How do you determine whether the fee is reasonable? By applying the amount of time it took the lawyer to do the work by the going hourly rate. In other words, even when you try to provide a better service, they still won’t let you. It is maddening.

  35. Goyo Marquez

    Isaiah 1:23 (NIV)
    Your rulers are rebels,
    partners with thieves;
    they all love bribes
    and chase after gifts.
    They do not defend the cause of the fatherless;
    the widow’s case does not come before them.

    1. periol

      The Old Testament prophets were not popular among their own people.

      Something I think about much in these times. According to legend Jeremiah was stoned by his own people.

  36. Skip Intro

    A second caveat: This view would also imply that a lot of the conflict we see in the press is froth.

    I think this is practically axiomatic.

    It is clear that the DNC is hoping to take ‘moderate republicans’ from Trump, but will it work? Trump has delivered for those people, now they can either go for President Harris, or snatch the football away and watch the DNC take further damage, and the fissure in the party widen. The Dem. strategy is to trust the mythical moderate republicans while insulting their base on the left, and the deplorables on the right. I get mild deja vu when you bring up Obama’s courtship and pre-capitulation with the GOP on RomneyObamacare. They turned around and voted against it, ran against it, and took the House. If the Dems trust the GOP, it is because they don’t want to win, and don’t oppose the GOP. They could just merge and call themselves the Bloomberg Party.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > They turned around and voted against it, ran against it, and took the House.

      I don’t think that was it; that’s an alibi the Democrats comfort themselves with. I think it was the recession and Obama’s miserably inadequate response to it. For example, when the Democrats lost control of the Senate in 2010, votes for Walker correlated to foreclosures (as Thomas Ferguson showed).

  37. The Rev Kev

    Lambert’s analysis of the present political scene is intriguing. So if you have the Democrats dumping the working classes and the Republicans dumping the Tea Party cohort, you would be left with two parties that would be remarkably alike. Their donors (controllers?) are all from the same class, they share similar policies like more war, more big-business friendly policies, less freedoms and rights for everybody else. It would thus be relatively easy in a time of emergency to have a government of “national unity” with both parties sharing power. Here I would imagine Republicans getting Defence and Homeland Security while the Democrats will go for more domestic Departments.

    In any case their voters would be to a large degree from the top 20% or so which includes the PMCs. In fact, perhaps that is why the trend to de-register voters by Republicans with cooperation with the Democrats. That is what both parts really want. That it is the top 20% that decides the voting with everybody else either being forced off the rolls or else just staying home. The present Democrat convention is a sign of the future where you have Democrats and Republicans seamlessly coming together on a working relationship against their true enemy. No, not Donald Trump nor the Judean People Front. America working class voters and Progressives.

    1. TBellT

      And yet 50-60% of people generally participate in presidential elections, so at least some of the bottom 80% are playing this game. Though for the life of me I don’t know why.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The present Democrat convention is a sign of the future where you have Democrats and Republicans seamlessly coming together on a working relationship against their true enemy. No, not Donald Trump nor the Judean People Front. America working class voters and Progressives.

      Basically. Clarifying, isn’t it?

  38. Nax

    I couldn’t help but notice, when watching the nominating roll call, that Biden was getting really, really large numbers of delegates/votes compared to Sanders.

    Then it got to California, where I live, and a state that Bernie won and got a clear majority of the delegates (225 Sanders, 172 Biden, 11 Warren, 7 Bloomburg.)

    So I was quite surprised when the California delegation announced that they were awarding 231 votes for Sanders and 263 for Biden.

    Just a nice little parting familyblog you from the super delegates/Democratic establishment I guess.

    Nevada roll call went for Biden over Sanders (25 vs 24) after Sanders won the state (24 Sanders, 9 Biden, 3 Pete) so I presume this vote rigging was fairly ubiquitous.

    After I figured out what they were doing I turned it off.

    Link to the roll call: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQ9s4x_Mybs

    California vote is at ~10:58

    1. jaaaaayceeeee

      Thanks for watching, and reporting on, as much as you did – I couldn’t bear to watch for this reason, among others.

  39. VietnamVet

    Today’s Democrats and Neoliberals are one and the same. The ownership class makes sure that they are not identified as such.

    The top 10 percent are aristocrats (Brahmins) and their functionaries who keep the system running; the haute bourgeoisie (managers), politicians (moochers) plus technocrats (quants). Main Street and US Industry were decimated by the financiers. The top 12 US oligarchs are now outsourcers and internet mavens. This shows how fragile things are at the moment. 80% of the US economy, the service and air travel industries, is nearly dead in the water. All that is left is resource extraction and agricultural plantations. But things are going from bad to worse, a third of Iowa’s crops were destroyed last week by the derecho and California is suffering from rolling blackouts. Reopening schools and colleges without daily testing will spike the number of coronavirus cases, once again.

    Democrats cannot change who they are; so they use racism, scapegoating Russia, and demonize Donald Trump to get enough votes to stay in the game and receive money from their big donors.

    Last decade’s politics are simply not going to work anymore. The catastrophes will keep multiplying until Americans can’t take it anymore. Civilization requires good government.

  40. LawnDart

    Can’t seem to sleep, so here’s a few late additions to the comments section that might be of interest to the readership:


    Yeah, I linked ZeroHedge, but I found the article informative. Not the ZH comments, which are the dogs breakfast. But the article makes the claim that one average household cannot survive on 52 weeks of work– “Mathematically impossible.”

    To further exemplify USA decline/dissolution, there’s this to ponder:


    “The post-American world will paradoxically liberate America from its own dangerous delusions and return it to the bosom of humanity.”

    That’s kinda my hope, as when I wish ill-will, I tend to be rather specific. It’s my hope, but I’m not going to bank on it. Not for a second.

    I always need to thank NC and commentators for challenging me to think. Or curse you (Ecclesiastes in mind).

  41. Greg

    Given Trump will inevitably make a big deal about NZ calling in “the troops” to replace private security guards who have been doing kinda a crap job at our covid isolation facilities, I think the picture at the top of this story https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/300087239/coronavirus-troops-have-no-more-powers-than-miq-security-guards-they-replace is a useful reminder of the difference between NZ and American values of “troops”. For those who don’t bother with the link it’s a couple guys in blues loading a Royal New Zealand Navy Toyota Corolla. I didn’t realise the NZ Navy drove corollas but I think it’s hilarious (and practical) that they do.
    NZ has a peacekeeping force, with a small set of special forces who are perhaps a little more violent in their outlook and dress sense. The ones being used to stop idiots breaking isolation are decidedly the peacekeeping variety.

  42. David Paul Lee

    Lambert, could you flesh out your “current still-being-worked out theory” into a post all its own, even tentatively? It’s the best analysis for a lot of the bizarre things happening lately, and seems to collate a lot of confusing things into a sensible whole that we can actually make some predictions off of.

    I’d really like to have it available as something that can be linked out directly rather than buried in the middle of a water cooler article, so I can get people to read it. Even in a tentative/unfinished state.

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