2:00PM Water Cooler 8/3/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOCThe data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Back to our top five problem states: Florida, California, Texas, Georgia, and Arizona, with New York for comparison:

Not a plateau in our five problem states, fortunately.

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

91-DIVOC has some new charts. By Census Bureau regions:

By Governor’s political party:

CA: “California COVID-19 cases spiked after July 4th. Family gatherings helped the spread, experts say.” [USA Today]. “County health officials throughout California are increasingly reporting that close social gatherings and spread of the virus within a household are larger drivers of transmission than tourism. While there are very real concerns about travel to far-flung and small communities where hospitals could be quickly overwhelmed, it isn’t currently public health officials’ main worry.”

HI: “With cases increasing at a distressing rate, Lt. Gov. Josh Green says a statewide lockdown might be the only way out” [Star-Advertiser]. “Hawaii’s positive COVID-19 cases went back to triple digits Sunday, adding another data point to a surge that is bringing the state closer to another widespread lockdown and garnering national attention…. [Lt. Gov. Josh Green] said the state is at a crossroads now, and ‘this week is the last week to get the numbers under control without having to take dramatic measures.’ ‘If we see another week of triple digits, the only sensible thing to do is to have a two- to four-week shutdown with only essential work occurring to keep ourselves alive,’ he said. ‘It certainly makes the opening of schools problematic and any trans-Pacific travel problematic.’

MO: “Missouri got millions to fight COVID-19, but 50 health agencies haven’t seen a penny” [Kansas City Star]. “By early May, the federal government had delivered hundreds of millions of dollars to Missouri to fight the spread of the coronavirus… Of Missouri’s 114 counties, only 17 local health agencies reported receiving aid. Thirteen said they did not apply for funds and another 34 did not participate in the survey.”

NV: “What Happens In Vegas Doesn’t Stay In Vegas” [Eschaton]. “Can’t see any real problem with a high new case rate in a state/city where people fly in for a couple of days, spend it all in an enclosed space with a lot of other people from all around the country, and then fly back home.”

TX: “‘I’m just so, so tired'” [Houston Chronicle]. “The strain has hit everyone up and down the medical chain in hospitals, from doctors to support staff. They all say they feel it, disheartened by a pandemic with no finish line. Often, though, the brunt is being borne most by the hands-on workers, those who hover after the doctor has left the room, monitoring conditions, administering medication, stepping in as surrogate family. Nursing shifts are sometimes stretching 17 hours or longer with few if any days off because there are often not enough staff at some facilities to relieve them. Fear of bringing the virus home to family or falling sick themselves is a constant.”


“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 3: Still no changes.

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

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


Biden (D)(1): Via email, NH:

Saw new yard signs for state elections, and US Senatorial elections, but no new Biden signs. There is zero energy for that guy. Not even car stickers, nothing.

Biden (D)(2): Via email, Seattle, WA:

I see more trump signs out here in Seattle than Biden signs. I think the trumpers are not as shy about their candidate as Biden’s supporters.

Biden (D)(3): More in Seatte:

Biden (D)(4):

I try to discount Democrat triumphalism… And it is true that a five point swing beats a nine-point lead. That’s not insuperable, especially for a mercurial candidate like Trump. But national polls don’t matter; only swing states do.

Sanders (D)(1): “Sanders endorses ending filibuster to pass voting rights legislation” [Axios]. • Sure, but not for Medicare for All?

Trump (R)(1): “The case for Trump will come down to his record. It’s a strong one.” [Hugh Hewitt, WaPo]. • Oddly, Hewitt omits nuking TPP. And doesn’t mention COVID. He concludes: “There’s an aesthetic critique of Trump that has convinced elites that he must be beaten, that he is cruel and beneath the office. But Americans want their jobs and security back. They like the police. And, yes, most of the time they mostly admire Trump’s style and, almost always, his results.” • I hate the body language metaphor, but Trump’s body language suggests to me that a colorable vaccine could be doable. So does WaPo; that would be why they just emitted an editorial saying that downplaying a vaccine’s importance.

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.

Manufacturing: “July 2020 ISM and Markit Manufacturing Surveys Improve” [Econintersect]. “Based on these surveys and the district Federal Reserve Surveys, one would expect the Fed’s Industrial Production index growth rate to be slightly better than last month. Overall, surveys do not have a high correlation to the movement of industrial production (manufacturing) since the Great Recession. No question these surveys suggest the economy is no longer in recession.”

Construction: “June 2020 Construction Spending Declined” [Econintersect]. “Construction spending is trending downward but remarkedly strong considering the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Private construction had been fueling construction growth – but currently, public construction is fueling the growth. Consider this a slightly worse report relative to last month. Construction employment has contracted significantly.”

* * *

Retail: “Hermes sales plunge 42 per cent amid global coronavirus store closures” [CNA Luxury]. “The iconic Birkin bag may be the world’s most resilient luxury product in times of crisis, but even its maker is feeling the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. French luxury goods company Hermes has announced that sales fell 42 per cent in the second quarter as the coronavirus pandemic forced it to shutter stores across the globe and pause production…. the silver lining of the pandemic lies in Hermes’s online channels, where sales have grown by double-digits across Asia. Online sales in the first half increased by more than 100 per cent in China, with growth continuing even after stores reopened in the country, reported Jing Daily. In a sign of confidence, Hermes also announced that it has increased its workforce by almost 300 people, mostly in production.”

Tech: “Huawei somehow becomes the #1 phone manufacturer, thanks to the coronavirus” [Ars Technica]. “Despite aggressive sanctions from the US government, Huawei has become the number 1 smartphone manufacturer in the world, according to Canalys. The company’s 55.8 million smartphone shipments in Q2 2020 put it at the top of Canalys’ charts for the quarter, marking the first time the company has passed Samsung for the top spot. Huawei’s top spot isn’t really due to it defeating US sanctions. Huawei’s sales are actually down slightly compared to last year, but in the age of the coronavirus, sales being down only ‘slightly;’ is a major win.”

Tech: “Comcast Cable, Internet Revenues Buoy Firm Through COVID-19 Turbulence” [CRN]. “Comcast Corp.‘s strength in business services, sought-after high-speed internet, and wireless carried the cable giant’s balance sheet during an otherwise tumultuous fiscal period brought on by the disruptive COVID-19 pandemic. The cable giant‘s ‘best-in-class and flexible’ broadband network — the core of the company — saw record-low customer churn during the second-quarter of the year, said Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts during Comcast’s Q2 2020 earnings call on Thursday. ‘This confirms that our investments are working. We offer differentiated products and services, and a fantastic customer experience,’ he said. Comcast‘s NBCUniversal entertainment and theme parks segment, on the other hand, succumbed to park closures, postponed filming schedules, and cancelled sporting events during the quarter with a 25 percent decline in revenues.” • Eesh, what is a “fantastic customer experience” on broadband?

Tech: “Amazon will invest over $10 billion in its satellite internet network after receiving FCC authorization” [CNBC]. “Amazon’s project, known as Kuiper, would see the company launch 3,236 satellites into low Earth orbit. Amazon says it will deploy the satellites in five phases, with broadband service beginning once it has 578 satellites in orbit.”

Manufacturing: “US chip industry plots route back to homegrown production” [Financial Times]. “Many advanced chips are designed in the US, but only around 12 per cent are manufactured there…. There is no mystery behind the anxiety. China is still years behind the US in semiconductors, but it is racing to develop a globally competitive chip industry and is projected to become a serious competitor by the end of the decade.” And: ‘Taiwan’s ‘silicon shield’ makes it the 51st [US] state,’ said [Dan Hutcheson, chairman of VLSI Research and a longtime chip analyst], referring to the theory that the country’s leadership in chip technology is its best defence against aggression from China. ‘The US needs to protect Taiwan — it can’t afford to lose it to China.'”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 67 Greed (previous close: 65 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 65 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 3 at 1:02pm. Solid greed. Starting to get dull.

Rapture Index: Closes up one Beast Government. “The government movement is having trouble with world unity” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 182. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.) Beast Government is volatile!

The Biosphere

“With coronavirus keeping commuters at home, soot pollution in Cleveland, Akron down significantly” [Cleveland.com]. “A byproduct of many Ohioans working from home to avoid spread of COVID-19 coronavirus is that harmful soot from automobile exhaust has dropped significantly in Greater Cleveland. Pollution data collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows air quality ratings improving in both Cleveland and Akron within about a week of Gov. Mike DeWine issuing his stay-at-home order on March 22. And pollution levels in both cities still remained below five-year averages for a majority of business days in both June and July, the most recent data cleveland.com could obtain from the EPA showed, though the trend was less pronounced in Akron.”

“This country regrew its lost forest. Can the world learn from it?” [CNN]. “In the 1940s, 75% of Costa Rica was cloaked in lush rainforests. Then the loggers arrived, chainsaws in hand, and cleared the land to grow crops and raise livestock. While there is ongoing debate about the extent of reduction, it is thought that between a half and a third of forest cover had been destroyed by 1987. Soon after this all-time low, the government took a series of radical actions to convert the country back into a natural paradise. In 1996 it made it illegal to chop down forest without approval from authorities and the following year it introduced PES, [PES, which pays farmers to protect watersheds, conserve biodiversity or capture carbon dioxide]. Today almost 60% of the land is once again forest.”

“Arctic sea ice could disappear completely within two months’ time” [Arctic News]. “Arctic sea ice fell by 3.239 million km² in extent in 25 days (i.e. from July 1 to 25, 2020). Melting will likely continue for another two months. If it continues on its current trajectory, the remaining 6.333 million km² of Arctic sea ice could disappear completely within two months’ time…. The fall in extent over the next two months’ time may not remain as as steep as it was in July, yet the sea ice still could disappear completely. One reason for this is that, over the years, sea ice thickness has been declining even faster than extent. The rapid decline in sea ice thickness is illustrated by the sequence of images below.”

“Amazon region: Brazil records big increase in fires” [BBC]. “Official figures from Brazil have shown a big increase in the number of fires in the Amazon region in July compared with the same month last year. Satellite images compiled by Brazil’s National Space Agency revealed there were 6,803 – a rise of 28%. President Jair Bolsonaro has encouraged agricultural and mining activities in the Amazon. But under pressure from international investors in early July his government banned starting fires in the region.” • International investors? Really?

Health Care

“How the Pandemic Defeated America” [Ed Yong, The Atlantic]. “Since the pandemic began, I have spoken with more than 100 experts in a variety of fields. I’ve learned that almost everything that went wrong with America’s response to the pandemic was predictable and preventable. A sluggish response by a government denuded of expertise allowed the coronavirus to gain a foothold. Chronic underfunding of public health neutered the nation’s ability to prevent the pathogen’s spread. A bloated, inefficient health-care system left hospitals ill-prepared for the ensuing wave of sickness. Racist policies that have endured since the days of colonization and slavery left Indigenous and Black Americans especially vulnerable to COVID‑19. The decades-long process of shredding the nation’s social safety net forced millions of essential workers in low-paying jobs to risk their life for their livelihood. The same social-media platforms that sowed partisanship and misinformation during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Africa and the 2016 U.S. election became vectors for conspiracy theories during the 2020 pandemic.” • I could file this under failed state, too (though after The People, No, that “experts” makes my Spidey sense tingle).

“COVID-19 long-term toll signals billions in healthcare costs ahead” [Reuters]. “Studies of COVID-19 patients keep uncovering new complications associated with the disease. With mounting evidence that some COVID-19 survivors face months, or possibly years, of debilitating complications, healthcare experts are beginning to study possible long-term costs. Bruce Lee of the City University of New York (CUNY) Public School of Health estimated that if 20% of the U.S. population contracts the virus, the one-year post-hospitalization costs would be at least $50 billion, before factoring in longer-term care for lingering health problems. Without a vaccine, if 80% of the population became infected, that cost would balloon to $204 billion.”

World’s greatest newspaper hazes over the distinction between indoor and outdoor transmission:

I think the idea behind the beach photos is to shame. But can’t we get the science right?

“Trump ‘owes us an apology.’ Chinese scientist at the center of COVID-19 origin theories speaks out” [Science]. “n her written answers to Science, [Shi Zhengli] explained in great detail why she thinks her lab [Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV)[is blameless. WIV has identified hundreds of bat viruses over the years, but never anything close to SARS-CoV-2, she says. Although much speculation has centered on RaTG13, the bat virus that most closely resembles SARS-CoV-2, differences in the sequences of the two viruses suggest they diverged from a common ancestor somewhere between 20 and 70 years ago. Shi notes that her lab never cultured the bat virus, making an accident far less likely…. Shi mentioned several other factors that she says exonerate her lab. Their research meets strict biosafety rules, she said, and the lab is subject to periodic inspections “by a third-party institution authorized by the government.” Antibody tests have shown there is “zero infection” among institute staff or students with SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses. Shi said WIV has never been ordered to destroy any samples after the pandemic erupted and she was sure the virus didn’t come from the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention—or another lab in the city—either: “Based on daily academic exchanges and discussion, I can rule out such a possibility.” • Carefully vetted, no doubt. But: “Shi ended her answers to Science on a similar note. ‘Over the past 20 years, coronaviruses have been disrupting and impacting human lives and economies,’ she said. ‘Here, I would like to make an appeal to the international community to strengthen international cooperation on research into the origins of emerging viruses. I hope scientists around the world can stand together and work together.'”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“How the Antislavery Movement Ignited a Political Revolution” [Matt Karp, Jacobin]. “The transformation in political consciousness that Garnet witnessed in 1856 is the subject of Matt Karp’s essay in Catalyst, “The Mass Politics of Antislavery,” which traces the development of the movement against slavery in the decades leading up to the Civil War. This movement included militant abolitionists, but also many ordinary white Northerners and small farmers — a diverse coalition pulled together by the nascent Republican Party. Founded in 1854, the Republican Party was part of a movement that brought abolitionism from the fringe to the center of American politics by fusing moral opposition to slavery with appeals to the material interests of those who might otherwise have been indifferent to the antislavery cause. Indeed, hatred of “the Slave Power” became the driving force within the Republican movement, which never lost sight of abolitionism, even as it sought to expand its appeal and broaden its base.”

Groves of Academe

“Colleges Seek Waivers From Risk-Taking Students” [Inside Higher Ed]. “As fall semester approaches, students are increasingly opposing liability waivers and “informed consent” agreements required by colleges as a condition of returning to campus…. Some of the agreements are more explicit than others, such as the contract used by Bates, which legal experts say implies that students are waiving their right to pursue litigation for negligence on the part of the college. Mary Pols, a spokesperson for Bates, said in an email that the college’s fall reopening plan ’emphasizes student choice[‘ and the written acknowledgment is ‘intended to help students and their families make an informed decision about the fall semester.’ ‘Students may choose to return to campus, study remotely, or take a leave,’ Pols wrote. ‘That choice lies squarely with students and their families, depending on their personal circumstances … the college has been and will continue to be flexible as students’ plans change over the summer.’ Agreements at other institutions attempt to conceal the legal language within statements about students’ responsibility to follow public health guidance and general information about how to prevent the spread of coronavirus, some students said.”

Guillotine Watch

“Eight Shocking Secrets I Learned While Working on Private Jets” [Bloomberg]. “[O]utfitting an aircraft with silverware, bedding, and electronics exceeds $100,000. (Much of it gets stolen.)” • I’m shocked.

Class Warfare

“Mnuchin on $600 unemployment benefit: We can’t be ‘paying people more to stay home'” [The Hill]. • If you want them to stay home during a pandemic, that’s what you should do. Of course, C-M-C’ rules.

“Property May Not Be Theft, but It’s Not NOT Theft” [The Nation]. “[P]roperty destruction needs to be taken seriously as a coherent, intelligent form of political speech. Reframing property destruction as a fully conscious, intelligent form of resistance is important for a number of reasons. It forces us to distinguish between violence against people (often in the name of property protection) and violence against non-living things. It explicitly acknowledges the role of coercion in political struggle that is obscured by a reductive notion of nonviolence as the gold standard of democratic change. And it invites us to examine something so fundamental to the very terms of our political thought that it often escapes scrutiny. Namely, private property. The recent attacks on buildings, monuments, and police stations that occurred in the course of protests against state-sanctioned murder were not an unfortunate byproduct of otherwise peaceful, legitimate protests but integral to them.” • Hmm.

News of the Wired

“How the 1918 Pandemic Got Meme-ified in Jokes, Songs and Poems” [Smithsonian]. “Take, as an example, poems everyday people wrote about the Spanish Flu, which were published widely in local and national newspapers. Media of the time labored under the close watch of World War I media censorship, which aimed to curb public dissent. However, newspapers did frequently publish poetry, providing an outlet for regular people to submit their work and vent their frustrations. Some papers contained specific pages for humorous pieces, “odd” facts, and anecdotes. Others placed poems in the midst of local or national news.” •

Memento mori>

News you can use:

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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 (CR):

CR writes: “Will the deer allow us to have any zucchini? Remains to be seen.”

I suppose forest fires come under the rubric of plants (periol), so bonus:

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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. Jim Young

        I live up wind of that “cloud” in an area well protected from such fires, but the air quality on the 29th of July had me gasping for air at 2 AM, unable to sleep, like I have never encountered in my previous 74 years.

        I suspect it is more than just the recent fires, probably an accumulation of things over my life affecting me more than many others, I was taken by the relatively clear air, mild looking slightly brown, but still allowing 25 miles visibility. A check of https://www.airnow.gov/?city=Rialto&state=CA&country=USA under recent trends, showed very unhealthy air (PM2.5 and PM10 in the 201-300 range), on the 10th, 29th, and 30th, though the air was always much clearer than back in the 80s when we moved here (5 miles from the old Stringfellow Acid Pits as we later discovered).

        Watching a water bomber making drops over what seemed a very small fire near the acid pits was what prompted me to start checking the air quality, after the breathing difficulties (despite no visible smoke or any other visible indications other than our typical marine layer my former weather observer wife is well versed on).

        I seriously doubt there is any threat from the acid pits, one of the very few super fund sites they actually continued remediation and monitoring of, it’s just one of those things that come to mind on how neglecting problems leads to bigger problems.

        I do wonder how much more is being neglected now, though, and if I have accumulated problems that should encourage finding a healthier (for me), place to live.

    1. ambrit

      Play your cards right and those zucchinis will fill your larder with deer. (Caution: Baby zucchini are prone to triggering the dreaded “Bambi Effect.”)

  1. Zagonostra

    >Amazon’s project, known as Kuiper, would see the company launch 3,236 satellites into low Earth orbit.

    Between Bezo and Musk we’ll soon turn into husks with all the EMF raining down on us. I was hoping that I could elude those ugly demonic 5G towers going up everywhere, but how do you get away from satellites?

    I recently drove I-95 up from the SE Florida to Richmond, VA and noticed all those 5G towers and wondered if truckers who spend countless hours on the road will soon be sterile or have altered DNA.

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      I’m more concerned about the EMF from our radio & TV antenna, phones, wifi routers, EZPass and other toll transponders, radar guns, and leaky microwaves.

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        On the one hand, Musk’s ‘Starlink’ project *could* if…and thats a pretty big ‘if’…it is able to deliver somewhat-lower latency internet over satellite i could work from my mountain cabin and save simply oodles in rent $$.

        On the other hand….the Kessler Syndrome. :(


        1. WobblyTelomeres

          They are all very small satellites in low Earth orbit (which is how they get lowish latency). Even if a collision were to occur, about all that would happen is Musk’s and Bezos’s satellites take out each other. Along with some student and/or research cubesats. The debris wouldn’t survive reentry. Anything in that low an orbit isn’t going to be aloft for too terribly long.

          When they decide to put thousands in geosynchronous orbit without following some very extensive international protocols, is when trouble will appear.

          Note that there will be a very real need soon for some robotic garbage collection before too long. Catching a free floating nut or wrench that’s in a different orbital plane at 16,000+mph without causing even more debris is a challenge, no?

          Just my $0.02 worth.

          1. ambrit

            Getting rid of space junk; isn’t that what the proposed orbital high energy beam weapons are designed for?

            1. WobblyTelomeres

              That is one solution; laser ablation used to accelerate orbital decay. Suicidal robots (clamp and fiery reentry) is another. Massive sheets of aerogel is a third.. Personally, I am not in favor of arming space but *I suspect* such notions are for dreamers…

        1. JBird4049

          Wouldn’t it be interesting if a Kessler syndrome caused by all those satellites prevents our Overlords from escaping?

          Even if the whole planet was on fire, I’d try to get popcorn and a beer to watch them freakout.

    2. cnchal

      Kuiper. Named after the biggest baddest asteroid belt you can find. Dominates all other asteroid belts combined. The Amazon killing feild is getting bigger.

      1. ambrit

        Typo alert. “Amazon killing feild..” is supposed to read, “Amazon killing fee-illed…”

  2. hemeantwell

    Re the Amazon satellite project, the article only mentions the hazard of debris falling to earth. What about the hazard of polluting the night sky with scores of bezostallations. Has anyone seen estimates of the likely visual magnitude of these things? Orion, I knew thee well.

  3. ptb

    Re: arctic ice
    “will all melt if continues on current trajectory” – is that a slight exaggeration? The extrapolation of the graph measuring area would be if the seasonal pattern stopped, i.e. if June-July conditions persisted thru Sept-Oct. That graph (ice area) seems likely this year will hit a new record low, below the previous 2012 minimum, but not disappear.

    However, taking both thickness and area into account I’m not sure. Can anyone say?

    In any case, a graphic illustration of how sea temperature rise is marching on. A good chunk of energy stored in the phase change of freezing/thawing of this mass of water. It must have a buffering effect for seasonal ocean temperature patterns (and thus weather patterns), that buffer will be lost, I suppose.

    1. Paradan

      That site seemed pretty sketchy too me. For example his worst case scenario is a 10 C rise in temp by 2026! This kind of hyperbolic prediction ends up doing more harm then good.

      1. periol

        I’ve seen this guy (Sam Carana) for a good few years now. He’s predictions have been much worse than the IPCC and other scientific predictions that have come out re: climate change. While I tend to think he exaggerates the timing of potential impacts, the official reports have consistently been too conservative – temperatures are going up faster than predicted, the impacts of climage change are happening all over sooner than predicted, and it sure seems to me if we listened a bit more to the apocalyptic warnings of people like Sam maybe we would actually do something about this slow-moving catastrophe we are all living through.

        A constant theme of news coverage of the climate for the past 20 years is that everything is happening “faster than expected”. Keep an eye out, you’ll start catching it in the coverage.

        One thing to note – there has been an increase in frozen methane releases recently (July) in the newly ice-free areas of the Siberian Arctic (especially the Laptev Sea), where the water temperature is warmer right now than it’s been in who knows how many thousands or millions of years. Methane clathrates warming and releasing methane could really accelerate our planetary fever, as Sam notes in his worst-case predictions.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Are things not changing faster than predicted … than expected? You don’t need big changes in climate to make big changes in the systems of Humankind. Do you believe climate is starting to change more slowly? Do you believe climate changes with a constant rate of change — ignoring obvious measurement problems?

          What could ‘we’ maybe actually ‘do’? I am happy to listen and hopeful, always hoping to hear the whisper of a promise I missed or ignored in my own calculations.

          1. periol

            I don’t understand your questions. My beliefs? Temperatures are increasing around the globe, faster than predicted. The ocean is warming, faster than predicted. Permafrost is collapsing, sooner than expected. Methane cathrates are being released in the far north, faster than expected.

            The climate is warming and the weather is weirding. This is happening all over the planet.

            Our industrial civilization is pumping so much pollution into the air that we aren’t just changing the weather on a small scale, we are completely changing the climate of the planet. At this point, I think it’s too late. We needed to be listening 100 years ago when scientists discovered CO2 was a problem, or when people first started talking about this in the 60s and 70s, or at any point up until now. I suppose if we massively deindustrialized on a global scale, there might be a chance of avoiding the worst case scenario.

            So that’s my suggestion. Downsize, downscale, deindustrialize. Until we get off the “unlimited growth” train there are no solutions.

            Personally I believe we passed the planet’s climate tipping point decades ago, probably in the 80s. There is no going back to the way things have been – any actions we take now would be mediating the damage, since we can’t roll back the damage we’ve already done. We haven’t even experienced the full impacts of the pollution we put in the atmosphere yet.

            Based on my understanding of human nature, I don’t think humanity will make any serious changes until the impacts are really hitting home and undeniable.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Maybe the question is this . . . . how are “we” who think there “is” a problem supposed to “do something” against the opposition and obstruction of “they” who profit from causing the problem and the “they’s” millions of symps and feltravs whom “they” have organized into a Global-Warming-Is-A-Liberal-Hoax movement?

              1. periol

                If I come up with a good and plausible solution for replacing the system beyond just letting it collapse, I will definitely be sharing it as widely as possible. As I said above, I think nature will have to do the real work of building critical momentum and demand for amelioration. We won’t shut down the economy for a pandemic, what chance is there for us to lead on deindustrializing and sustainable living?

                1. drumlin woodchuckles

                  It’s not just a bad “system”. Its millions upon millions of bad stupid evil people worshipping a bad stupid evil leadership elite.

                  Millions and millions of toxic radioactive human-waste people. What can “we” do that those millions and millions of toxic radioactive waste garbage-people can not stop us from doing?

                  ( A real-life parable: I remember talking about “energy conservation” with my younger brother. I wondered how big a percentage of people within any one utility’s ” grid-print” would have to reduce or stop their use of power by how big an amount to strangle their finances? He said it would never work because however much the conservers reduced their power use by, the utility would just raise the price of electricity on the rest of the users by enough to make up the missing money. I thought for a minute and then said . . . that would mean the utility would be recruiting its anti-conservation customers to the cause of conservation by raising their prices enough to force them to buy less power. It was a comforting thought. Could it be a true thought?)

                  1. periol

                    “Its millions upon millions of bad stupid evil people worshipping a bad stupid evil leadership elite.”

                    That’s rough – at least the first part, I do agree about the bad stupid evil leadership elite. I’m not naive about the world, but I also realize the system (run by the bad evil not-stupid leadership elite) has been engineering things to be this way for a while. What you see as outside the system (I think?), I see as part and parcel.

                    1. drumlin woodchuckles

                      You raise an interesting question. Are bad stupid evil people made that way by a bad-ogenic stupidogenic evilogenic pack of system-lords? Or were they born that way and have spent their lives looking for leaders to give expression and form to their own innate bad stupid evil?

                      I don’t know. Here is an example of a particular kind of bad stupid evilness and the bad stupid evil people who perpetrate it.
                      Coal rolling

                      Did the fossil fuel system MAKE them evil, or did it just give them a chance and a way to express the natural evil which is within them?

                      I don’t know. And I don’t want to get in a fight with them or be around them in any way. Is there a safe secure way to strangle their ability to coal roll without them being able to reach out and touch us? Let’s at least try to find a way and apply that way.

                    2. Jeremy Grimm

                      I believe Corporations select people for their management who will maximize Corporate profits as well as their own income, power, and prestige as a higher good largely without restraint. I am not sure they are truly evil. To be truly evil requires choosing to do evil while knowing its impacts and knowing that the act is evil, and I believe having some empathy for the suffering and harm done. I believe there are people who can’t be completely evil in this way because they possess so little empathy.

                      I believe Milgram demonstrated how many ordinary people can do something they perceive as wrong — ‘evil’ — as long as someone else tells them to, and claims to assume all responsibility for the act. Further I believe modern organizations can easily partition extremely evil acts into a myriad of small, seemingly inconsequential acts which sum to great evil. I haven’t read it yet, but I believe that is a part of Arendt’s thesis in her book “The Banality of Evil”. I have read “Ordinary Men” about a Reserve Police Battalion in Poland — a bunch of middle-aged German guys who were unfit for military service, so they were given an easier job, which was to shoot Jewish people and bury them in woods. [words stolen from a review at goodreads].

            2. Jeremy Grimm

              My questions are rhetorical. In brief — whether the hair-on-fire whimpers reported by Arctic News are ‘accurate’ the Arctic ice is melting and has been melting. Whether it all melts this year, or next, or sometime next decade, it is and will melt — short of some very unexpected event that shuts down the AMOC currents. When all the ice melts, the climate is expected to warm more rapidly, and I expect weather will become even more chaotic.

              I don’t know the source of Paradan’s 10 C rise in temperature by 2026. The Arctic region is warming much more than the rest of the world. The 10 degrees seems a little high — probabaly the very high end of warming for the Arctic — NOT global warming — they are different.

              There is a peculiar notion that changes in our climate and weather need to be dramatic to have dramatic impact. A small change or a sum of small changes can have very dramatic impacts. I believe the climate changes now could be quite sufficient for some very unhappy future events.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Does it really matter whether it all melts this year, next year, or a few years from now? It will be melting. In my opinion the full impacts of that event are largely unknown, but bad. So go long on Hawaiian shirts and shorts, and sell your oceanfront property now.

    3. periol

      It’s probably an exaggeration. The ice is in very bad shape, but whether it breaks record lows for extent/area this year is up in the air, let alone a complete melt-out, which is unlikely this year. Next year is a possibility – extent, area, and volume are at record lows, and the high temps and stored heat probably mean the ice will have a hard time recovering this winter.

      Long-term trends say we are 10 years or so from the Blue Ocean Event, when sea ice covers less than 1 million square kilometers. Our best guess right now is barring drastic changes to weather trends, the ice will not recover after a BOE, winter or summer.

      The biggest unknown is if there is a tipping point the ice reaches before a BOE that accelerates the end.

      1. periol

        Neven doesn’t update his blog anymore, and has stepped back from the forum he started as well.

        He started the Arctic Sea Ice Forum, still shows up from time-to-time, and that’s probably the best place right now to keep track of the current situation of the ice in the Arctic.


  4. Pat

    Regarding Sanders and ending the filibuster, I’m pretty sure Sanders can count. There is no point in ending the filibuster for MFA. I wish more of our leadership had gotten that our current system is not just insupportable, but dangerous. They haven’t, a few because of ideology, most because making sure everyone has healthcare is just not as lucrative as keeping the big private players happy.
    No, we aren’t even close to half on MFA. We have probably lost ground since Obama’s night of the long knives. Ludicrous as that is in a pandemic, the political power base has spoken and decided people only need access to insurance, healthcare be damned.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Sanders can count

      That’s not the point. Sanders consistently said during the campaign that he did not support ending the filibuster to pass Medicare for All, but would (IIRC) would use reconciliation (and control of the Presidency of the Senate with a Democrat VP).

      So why the pivot?

      1. Pat

        Sadly I missed that. My apologies.

        First thought, and it distresses me, political theater. Whether the goal is to highlight the issue or virtue signal, with little chance of passage he doesn’t have to worry about or consider the long term consequences of weakening the fillibuster.

        I’m not quite as old as Sanders, but I do remember a time when the fillibuster actually was a check on some pretty hideous.ideas. We would have had most of the Patriot Act under different names much earlier for instance And even more recently it has held off Social Security “reform”.

        But obviously that inserts my ambivalence regarding the fillibuster. It’s usefulness as a check has largely been lost as only one “party” remains in opposition and one is merely for show to hide donor ownership. But every once in awhile it still allows me to heave a sigh of relief.

  5. Judith

    The story about the jazz photographs is lovely and includes a link to the web site where all the photos are online. Reminds me how much I am missing live jazz.

  6. Arizona Slim

    Slim finally saw more than one Biden sign during a bicycle ride! Happened on Saturday, while I was riding through the Catalina Vista neighborhood near the University of Arizona.

    Very PMC-rich type of nabe. And there they were, in the front yards, Biden signs.

    Meanwhile, the neighborhoods near my humble abode are still devoid of yard signs. Not even for the local elections.

    1. Discouraged in WI

      We don’t see many signs at all, but the few that are there are about equally divided between Biden and Trump. This is interesting, because Waukesha County is the heart of Republican strength in Wisconsin, and within that, we live in a very conservative part. Paul Ryan’s former district takes a detour north to include a chunk of Waukesha County to make it more Republican. So to see any Biden (and other Democrats down-ballot) signs is unusual.

      1. polecat

        I’m waiting to spot a Biden sign, stuck smack in the middle of a quivering puddle of undifferentiated protoplasm …

        That would be real truth in advertising, right there.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the few that are there are about equally divided between Biden and Trump. This is interesting, because Waukesha County is the heart of Republican strength in Wisconsin, and within that, we live in a very conservative part.

        That’s interesting.

    2. Late Introvert

      Summit St. is Iowa City’s old money street. One Biden sign there, maybe a few scattered in other areas. There are also an unusual number of houses for sale on Summit.

      Still two Bernie signs on my dead-end block by the tracks. One is mine, almost perverse at this point. Hey Bernie, we’re still out here. Where are you? Can I have my $50 back? They sure family-blogged you, huh?

  7. km

    I often hear about shy Trump voters, but I also wonder about how many shy Biden supporters are out there.

    The Trump cultists we see around here are very vocal, often aggressive and often large and well armed. The kind of folks who wouldn’t dream of visiting the friendly local hometown grocery store without strapping on a loaded Glock and extra-large magazine. Not only that, but they are just itching for the chance to use that fancy hardware.

    Of course, if Jesus Christ Himself regularly discusses policy matters with your preferred candidate (which I have heard multiple Trump supporters relate), then the Other Guy must be Pure Evil, and this election can be nothing less than We Stand at Armageddon And We Battle For The Lord (to paraphrase Julia Ward Howe).

    Those who still doubt should look at some of the confrontations over masks.

    I admit that the proposed shyness of “not wanting to support your candidate in public” is a bit different from “not wanting to admit it to a pollster” but the principle is broadly similar.

    1. flora

      The country doesn’t watch anymore the same 3 major networks’ nightly news to get their information. Back then, the 3 news show said pretty much the same reports, different anchors and human interest stories. But the big stories were pretty much the same. Now news ‘consumers’ have a vast array of carefully curated for ‘user preferences’ silos of news content. Those silos are remarkably different in how they present whatever news they think their viewing audience is likely to approve. We’ve been literally divided by “news” media and social media into multiple mentally siloed interest groups. Could Walter Cronkite or David Brinkley make it in today’s media environment of hyper emotion and threat level button pushing?

      Very handy for the billionaires that we’re more focused whether the people who watch Fox or who watch MSNBC are friend or foe, whether they wear masks or not based on which news and twitter and FB groups they follow, rather than us focusing together on who is stealing our Main Streets and how to stop the thefts.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        People who are focused on who is stealing our Main Streets and how to stop the thefts should focus on finding eachother and working together. It is probably a waste of time and energy at this time to try recruiting loud and proud Stormtrumpers to the cause of focusing together on who is stealing our Mains Streets and how to stop the thefts.

        Better for now to spend that time and energy working with people who already share that view of the danger and want to try working together in whatever ways to stop the thefts.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            So the question is “how”? Since different people will have different thoughts and theories on “how”, maybe the different people should divide up into different action groups trying different methods against different targets and see what works more or less or not at all.

            Maybe different people could offer ideas at different relevant places in different relevant threads.

            1. ambrit

              The people who are really planning on acting when “the time is ripe” are, of necessity, paranoid. They have a right to be. America is now a Police State with Panoptical capabilities. So, real “movers and shakers” will not show up here to argue methodologies.
              I would not be at all surprised to learn that “how to find like minded groups” is the wrong question to ask. Better, perhaps to ask, “where do such people congregate in person?” Then just relax and let them find you.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                Good point. Still . . . I am thinking of the kinds of things that are so LEgal and LAWful that millions of people would be unafraid to discuss them and do them. In places where theoretically millions and millions of such people could read about them and see them and consider them.

                Simple things like buy enough brick and mortar goods and services to keep the brick and mortar sector alive in the teeth of Amazon’s patient effort to exterminate it. Or suburbanites growing enough high-priced food in their own yards to where they can spend some of their food-money on the kind of artisan foods which keep NOmazon farmers and food-preparers in business in their various NOmazon venues.

                I spend many hours a day not even caring about what the panopticon sees me do. If they are watching regardless, I might as well do as I like within legal limits.

                1. ambrit

                  A defensible strategy. My problem with all this, not just you of course, is that elites have a habit of continually defining down deviancy, a phrase I first encountered as used by Fallows in the Atlantic years ago.
                  So, as crisis follows crisis, expect the elites to criminalize more and more of formerly individual choice lifestyle options.

                  1. drumlin woodchuckles

                    When gardens are outlawed, only outlaws will have gardens.

                    But I won’t stop gardening now, just because I might be afraid that the Corporate Sh*tfood Gestapo might be able to outlaw gardens eventually. And as long as gardens ARE still legal, gardening can be a weapon by which we might actually be able to exterminate the Corporate Sh*tfood Community before it can create the Corporate Sh*tfood Gestapo.

                    For example.

              2. Lambert Strether Post author

                > real “movers and shakers” will not show up here to argue methodologies.

                Nope. We can only look for proxies, like tracing particles in a cloud chamber. We never actually see the particle.

      2. periol

        Oh please can we just go back to simpler times when the propaganda was easier and everyone in America who mattered got the same stories fed to them as news?

        There were an awful lot of people and cultures and good ideas cancelled by the triumvirate of propaganda orgs back then. I’ll take the current chaos over direct control like they had before. Anyways, I think this is a sorting out time, as we come to grip with all the falsehoods and misdirections that have been fed to us as news (and history) for decades, centuries, even millenia.

      3. km

        Back in The Good Old Days(R), publishing news was hard. For one thing, you needed a printing press, which was expensive, took up a lot of space, and required specialized staff to operate it. Not only that, but a printing press cost money for every sheet of paper you printed (whether or not distributed or sold), and you had to spend more money on distribution.

        They say that “freedom of the press belongs to those who own one” but there’s more! Unless you planned to publish news as a sort of expensive and time-consuming hobby that has to be attended to regularly, you needed an income stream. You would get some money from subscriptions, but subscriptions are really a means to sell advertising. Dependence on advertising meant that there were some people the publisher had to keep happy, and others he could not afford to annoy.

        Anyone who knows anything about local news knows this. At best, it’s a tightrope walk between giving subscribers the news they want to know, and not infuriating your advertisers. The result was a sort of natural censorship. Publishers had to think long and hard before they published anything that would tork the bigwigs off. The fact that a publisher was tied to a physical location and physical assets also made libel suits much easier.

        All that stuff goes double for a TV or radio station, BTW.

        But the internet changed all that. Now, any anonymous toolio with a laptop and WiFi can go into the news publishing business (or, with a cheap camera, the video business) by nightfall, and take advantage of distributed worldwide distribution and advertising revenue, to boot. Marginal cost of readership is zero. Needless to say, this development has The People That Matter very concerned, and they are working hard to stuff that genie back into the bottle.

    2. MK

      Sounds like loud and proud, not shy.

      Here in NY, there are way more shy Trump voters than shy Biden voters. And they don’t have open carry here either, thank god.

      1. Pat

        Over the last year my eavesdropping on public transportation has been illuminating. Before Covid I encountered discussions where Support of Trump was expressed about once a month, quite often by people Democrats might consider their captive voters. Since the empty streets and buses didn’t lend themselves to eavesdropping. This weekend waiting for a bus, I heard another though. They weren’t happy and felt Trump dropped the ball on Covid, but Biden’s basement quarterbacking left them even colder. (Their description btw.) They aren’t happy with anyone (Diblasio, Cuomo, Trump) and aren’t sure they are going to vote.

        My friend says the area where he has a house upstate is still solidly Trump.

        This is NYC. Trump is the great Satan, obviously these are outliers, but once again indications this is not a slam dunk.

        1. Mr. House

          What will change? This angers me to no end. What will change? The only thing i can think of, and i’m very excited for, is to not hear about trump every day of the year for 4 years. Maybe NPR will actually talk about something else.

          1. Late Introvert

            I am not expecting that at all. He will get as much coverage out of office and be even more vicious. We’re stuck with him until he croaks.

          2. Pat

            See Biden is just as much an asshole for anyone paying attention. He insults people regularly and sugar coats his racism and misogyny with folksy lies. He pushes damaging policies for fun and profit when he isn’t trying to figure out who and where he is.
            And then there will be the fallout of Trump’s punishment, the indictments.
            IOW what little relief there will be will be short-lived if it happens at all.

        2. chuck roast

          Yeh, I always vote. But this year I have a kind of crowded calendar…early November I have a number of things to do. I gotta’ put air in my bike tires; my cats will need brushing; I will have to remove lint from my belly-button…so much to do, and so little time. I dunno about the voting thing…

          1. Mr. House

            Can’t ask people what will change chuck, they’d just rather repeat what they hear. Thinking is hard.

  8. Plague Species

    I’m not voting for Biden. I refuse as a matter of principle. I will not be voting period. I will not legitimate what I believe to be an illegitimate electoral process. It’s not an either/or proposition, it’s a none of the clowns above proposition.

    Either way, my wife said she saw yard signs on her commute to her new job last week. It’s in a wealthy part of the city.

    ByeDon 2020

    Clever, for sure, but replacing one establishment corpse with another isn’t going to reverse the trend curve. Nothing short of Superman or Wonder Woman can do that at this point. There are simply too many white collar bad guys holding humanity and the planet hostage to round up.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Here in Somerville, MA, I’ve seen some “Any Functioning Adult 2020” or similar signs, a few Warren signs still up, but never a Biden-anything in sight.

        1. Tvc15

          Noticed a “please God, anyone but Trump” yard sign in rural central Maine. Also noticed, 2 yards with Trump signs and 2 cars with Bernie bumper stickers, 0 Biden. Same as 2016, Bernie and Trump signs only none for HRC.

          I find it really odd how Bernie was drawing large crowds, exit polls showed him winning primaries and 85% of Democrats support M4A that Biden is adamantly against, yet he is the democratic nominee…weird.

          1. Jason Boxman

            I eagerly look forward to Lambert’s report from the interviews it sounds like he’s done with some Sanders’ canvassers. The postmortem on all this is still not completely written.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            Well, the Catfood Democrat leadership all conspired to slow Sanders down and obstruct his progress and then pre-select Biden by a probama Black Vote in South Carolina and a well choreographed withdrawal of all other Democrats and pre-assignment of all their delegates to Biden.

            I don’t see a mystery. The methods used by the Catfood Democrats were very clear.

      1. Another Scott

        I’ve seen a lot of those Any Functioning Adult sign in Massachusetts as well. Do the people with those signs realize that it rules out Biden?

        1. ambrit

          I think that they are signalling that they will not vote for either “official” candidate.
          I read somewhere else recently that the author felt very strongly that the 2020 election cycle in America is very much like late Soviet Union politics.

        2. Jeff W

          I saw one in Alameda, California, too (replacing a Bernie 2020 sign). It seemed very clear to me that the people displaying it were ruling out Biden.

        1. Jason Boxman

          Yeah we had some Giant Meteor up here as well that year. When I traveled up the east coast that year I saw Bernie signs all over, that was inspiring. Oh well.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          My alltime favorite bumper sticker, in the Reagan era:

          “Give Hinckley A Second Chance”

    2. Silver Linings

      Even if nothing else changes at all, it will still be good to see the far right extremists, who Trump has emboldened, getting their wings clipped.

      1. no one

        If I vote for Biden, and it’s a big maybe, it will be solely to see Hillary turn green with envy.

      2. Dr. John Carpenter

        Will they? Aside from the fact that I think the horses have left the barn and I don’t see these people backing down just because Trump is out of office, I haven’t seen any indication that a Biden administration is willing to take on the systems that enable right wing extremists regardless of who is in the White House. If anything, I think a virtue signaling Biden administration with everything else unchained is going to amount to the same as now but with different presidential tweets.

        1. Silver Linings

          Without the White House’s backing, those repulsive trolls will get less press than a Bernie Sanders campaign rally. They will be vanished down the memory hole into insignificance. Out of sight out of mind.

          1. ambrit

            The White House does not have a monolithic lock on the Media. The ultras will get their message out, it will just take a little longer than before.
            Besides, the ultra so called liberals are now just as bad as the right wingnuts ever were, just a bit better credentialed.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              It won’t even take that long. Look at the Lincoln Project guys. Democrats are salivating at getting a guy who denounced Sandy Hook parents and a George Zimmerman sympathizer more play.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            Perhaps you are young, but Ronald Reagan was President of the United States. The American media loves right wing extremism.

          3. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Without the White House’s backing, those repulsive trolls will get less press than a Bernie Sanders campaign rally. They will be vanished down the memory hole into insignificance. Out of sight out of mind.

            So you think a Biden administration will fund-raise on its achievements?

    3. a different chris

      >I refuse as a matter of principle. I will not be voting period. I will not legitimate what I believe to be an illegitimate electoral process.

      And TPTB are fine with that. They can just ignore you. It has actually become quite clear that both partiers would like to have as few people vote as possible.

      1. Late Introvert

        Zappa said you vote because of local issues. In my state it’s to rid the Senate of Joni Ernst. Her LibDem puppet is not much better, but doesn’t have Handsy Joe’s long and venal record.

        I’ll vote Green for President. Hillary was the last time I’ll vote for a merde person, and Joe fits that description too.

    4. kareninca

      Yes, I’ve seen three ByeDon2020 yard signs in the very rich area near where I live in Silicon Valley.

  9. Gary

    I had a conversation with my retired sister this weekend. She is a former Democrat office holder who switched parties. She is afraid of Biden and thinks he is senile. Of course they are having demonstrations over the Confederate soldier statue on the Courthouse Square. She referred to the demonstrators as rioters and said they were all paid. Of course they were unarmed and the square was covered with rebel flags and “patriots” armed to the teeth. There was no social distancing and the only people wearing masks were the KKK… actually, I made that last part up about the KKK. She is a high risk for the Covid and terrified of it but in NO WAY is it Trump’s fault. Get used to the red hats…

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Instead of pulling down the Confederate statues why not add an explanatory plaque? With careful word-craft the Confederate soldier might become a heroic and valiant victim of the divide and conquer rule by the plantation rich. The origin of the money for the statue and perhaps the model and that model’s true life might clarify what the statue really represents. As for the statue. I still think there is too little public art, even if that means a statue of a Confederate soldier.

        1. jsn

          But don’t you see? If you get the demographics of the plantation rich right, everything’s jake in this the best of all possible worlds.

          That’s going to be so much easier to fix than actually giving a s**t about ordinary people as a class.

          Just get the distribution of POC within the plutocracy right and we’ll be fine, plantations are hunky dory if POC run them.

          1. Keith

            I was being a bit cheeky. There were some articles elsewhere, forgot where, about cancelling the use of the word “plantation” because it makes people sad and/or the word is somehow violent and slapping people around.

        2. VietnamVet

          “Plantation” is too close to how the global economy works to be approved by the professional managerial class for general use. Similarly, foreign dress at Iowa meat packing plants is downplayed along with the importation of the Brahmin caste system into Silicon Valley. Divide and conquer, omissions, political correctness and identity politics are all to distract from noticing cold water slashing on your feet. The string quartet playing “Nearer, My God, to Thee” echoes from up above.

      1. nycTerrierist

        Adding an explanatory plaque would be enlightening
        and/or how about adding a counter-statue nearby? as opposition to the Confederate soldier

        Agreed: repressing history, or possibly minting martyrs, doesn’t help

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I like … love … art. Adding another counter-statue nearby would please me … very much. And I would not object to a counter-counter-statue … Art speaks its own language and speaks to all Humankind. Art is political and more, much much more.

          I more than like art. Art is one of the characteristics that I believe distinguishes us as a species.

          1. Late Introvert

            I’m with you Jeremy, regarding adding to the statue with plaques.

            I said the same thing to a black friend and he agreed. Sample size 1. Yes, I’m a white guy. And no I’m not proud of having black friends or trotting them out. I work(ed) with actors of all kinds and they become friends. I love them all. Proud to be friends with Cambodian Refugees also – back in the day Governor Ray opened Iowa’s arms to them.

            And the idea of adding more sculpture is brilliant. Thanks nycTerrierist.

      2. 430 MLK

        I can’t get over the volume. A plaque does not have the volume that these statues and other memorials hold. There’s a certain commanding of these public square monuments that is tough to contextualize in situ other than by creating something like a 20 or 40 foot iron signage that soars.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          What does the art mean? The plaque would disambiguate such meaning. If not … erect the counter-statue nycTerrierist proposes. Have a ‘war’ of artworks. No one would suffer such a war and many might learn, might grow in their understanding of both sides of this bitter rift of our past.

          1. 430 MLK

            I see your point about creating martyrs, and if you are interested, the University of Kentucky employed the nycTerrierist solution of adding complementary art to a WPA mural that the Black Student Union for years found offensive. Here’s a year old documentary about it that was kind of interesting.


            It’s still a lightning rod; currently the university president has committed to tearing down the WPA mural and keeping the counter-art, which has resulted in a whole new round of outrage and a lawsuit by Kentucky icon Wendell Berry that has drawn the ire of many prominent black Kentuckians (and a sucking silence from the state’s writing community).


            But still, for confederate statues in a public square, counter-art seems like an outsized devotion of space and, at about 30-100k per new ‘art’ to balance out the old, also a mis-appropriation of limited funding, and it has the side effect of inordinately raising up in significance a detail from a small historical moment to the degree that it crowds out the city’s other historical moments. Or put differently,why should we have to limit our public square art to ‘counter-acting’ what we already know was a misleading or damaging historical representation? I’m a believer in the old Merry Prankster maxim, art is not eternal. It had its time.

            Besides, unlike the UK mural, confederate statues were not put up as art but as propaganda; to transform them now into art is to mis-represent their short moment of historical significance and to condone their outsized volume, all based on preserving the political correctness of an earlier era. It’s not like the Civil War is going away. Take a picture and let ’em go, to a private collector if private collectors deem them worthy of keeping.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              It’s a big project, changing what people thought 50 or 100 or 150 years ago. Once we’ve finished that we can move to changing what they did. That may take a little longer

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > There’s a certain commanding of these public square monument

          The statues are doing what they are designed to do (and have done for millenia).

          I think the idea of counter-statuary is great.

    2. km

      I advise not paying so much attention to symbolic issues, and I have zero sympathy for The Lost Cause.

      Focus on control of the means of production, and the statuary will take care of itself.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Focus on control of the means of production, and the statuary will take care of itself.

        If the counter-statues were manufactured by local co-operatives?

  10. Jason Boxman

    Degenerate expert sighting in the wild!

    “It’s part of a bigger story — a tale of two pandemics, where some of us are doing fine, or even doing really well and others are really suffering,” said Stan Dorn, the author of the study and the director of the National Center for Coverage Innovation at Families U.S.A. Families U.S.A. has been a longstanding advocate for the Affordable Care Act and has pressed for government coverage of the uninsured.

    That’s unconscionably callous, to at this crossroads be incapable of admitting that your principal grift has destroyed millions of lives; but credentialed!, so it’s okay. But I suppose adopting any other healthcare system that isn’t founded on grift wouldn’t exactly be innovative, would it?

  11. Big River Bandido

    Has the dementia-addled rapist warmonger’s campaign peaked yet? I note that he’s still stuck at 49% — a whopping 1/2-percentage point ahead of where Gore, Kerry, and HRC finished. Bill Clinton polled 43% in a three-way race and 49% in 1996, and that last instance was the only one where the Democrat had enough margin to win in the Electoral College. Taken in historical context, Biden’s performance in polls has actually been rather pathetic, especially since (as Lambert pointed out) he needs a cushion of ~5% to counter the EC effect. A weak plurality just won’t cut it in a low-turnout year.

    And speaking of that, have pollsters really taken into account what the pandemic and the dysfunctional voting system will do to turnout and what effects that will have on the result? I really don’t think so — the Cook report had a piece on this a few days ago but seemed overly focused on what the Dims had to say about this rather than the obvious ramifications.

    This is not a party which is politically or institutionally positioned to win the presidency even in normal times. All they have is money, and I don’t see what that gets them, with such a pathetic candidate at the top of the ticket and a presumptive horror show as his VP nominee.

      1. Tvc15

        Exactly, seems like a prerequisite for running for president in 2020. I’d also add you need to be a corrupt pathological lying sociopath which I think both candidates check those boxes too.

      2. jsn

        Does it matter?

        I don’t see a viable third party dementia addled rapist warmonger campaign taking shape.

        I certainly don’t expect any real change from the formal political system either way: it’s a closed system and only something really sizable outside it can change it. There are some candidates shaping up there, events not people, some better than others, none particularly attractive.

      3. Big River Bandido

        Ba-dump CHING. Point well taken, although I suppose the context made it clear I was talking about the one out of power and making a feeble attempt to get in.

        Ultimately that’s the real point. With such a pathetic choice of candidates, the default goes to the incumbent, especially when the structural factors tilt the table in his favor.

  12. John Beech

    Patrick Sochacki
    Was running errands in my “Settle for Biden” shirt today. Walking out of a store a guy said to me, “fuck Joe Biden.” I shrugged and said “yeah, I agree” and then walked away.

    There isn’t much to argue. But he’s better than Trump.

    What makes him better than Trump? Is it because the intelligentsia, cognosenti and the literati in the media have incessantly told you so for the last four years?

    1. RWood

      Someone’s violin-playing glissando.
      Just looking for another flashmob scene.
      Could become a flash-bang thing if enough people congregate.
      Though, maybe with better dialogue.

      1. John Beech

        “COVID-19 long-term toll signals billions in healthcare costs ahead” [Reuters]. “Studies . . . if 80% of the population became infected, that cost would balloon to $204 billion.”

        How are you gonna keep them down on the farm now that they’ve discovered the joy of spending trillions? My point being low-three figure billions is chicken feed. Moreover, our politicians won’t stop – not until they kill the dollar. Once reserve status is gone and it’s just first amongst equals because the currency markets relegate us to the rough equivalent of Sterling, then and only then will a budget is imposed on them by external forces. Until then, they won’t stop.

        Me? I’m gonna vote for Trump in November. Reasons.

        1. Late Introvert

          I hope he wins, but I can’t vote for him.

          Hang this tire fire around his neck for four more years.

          It’s not like Biden or his VP or Cabinet will change a single thing.

    2. a different chris

      >What makes him better than Trump?

      He will only diddle the environment, not completely and repeatedly rape it.

      Otherwise I got nothin’. Oh, and we get tired of even the most entertaining shows, so might as well watch a new one. So there’s that.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Biden believes in science! Joe knows his policy will kill human life. Its a huge difference.

    3. Jason Boxman

      I wonder that myself; Surely when it comes to human misery, by far Biden wins hands down, between the crime bill and the bankruptcy bill, despite Trump’s failed handling of the pandemic. Particularly because there’s systemic rot, and a Democrat administration wouldn’t likely have faired much better, as Lambert has pointed out previously. Moreover, Trump at no point could actually have stopped the pandemic. But Biden at any point could have decided to not have the odious crime and bankruptcy bills brought to the floor for votes. Indeed, at every single step of the way.

      (Not to mention our foreign policy, for those that care about other human beings in this world.)

    4. John k

      It is a good question. Only one pres since Reagan did not start a new war in his first term, granted there’s still time. But based on bush supporters jumping on Biden’s wagon, and assuming they know more about Biden’s intentions than I do, I would guess we will go save the Venezuelans soon if Biden wins.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Trump has expanded a number of actions, but to be fair, the low hanging fruit is gone. Why did the US attack Iraq? It wasn’t oil as much as it would be relatively easy. There was a story about how Gen. Dempsey had to explain to Kerry that Syria can and would retaliate if we moved against Assad in a direct way. Our remaining targets can retaliate or would be so sympathetic we simply couldn’t organize countries to allow us to ship men and material.

        Nuclear weapons aside, I have a lower opinion of North Korean troop readiness than most and don’t expect their potential conventional assault to be all that great, but its still enough to be devastating especially to American psyches that believe in the invincibility of Uber weapons. Shrub hid the coffins of dead soldiers for a reason. What would happen if a US Navy ship was sunk by an enemy that was predicted to be a push over instead of sinking after hitting a fishing ship?

        The Venezuelan Pete Buttigieg (I can’t even think of the doofuses name anymore) had his little coup attempt with a few army rejects. Much of our DC FP establishment genuinely believes the population of the world is as friendly as their foreign taxi driver who works for tips is.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Even more enlightening fun fact; during Jimmy Carter’s *four years* in office not a single gun was fired in anger by American armed forces anywhere in the world. A saint he was not but that simple fact plus the way he comported himself after leaving office make him a hero in my estimation.

        1. ObjectiveFunction

          OK, the below took place in the Ford admin, but having dug it up, I still simply must share it because it’s both utterly horrible and darkly hilarious! Hannah Arendt meets John le Carre. Courtesy John Stockwell, “In Search of Enemies”:

          The Kissinger Grunt
          December 2, 1975.

          At 2 :00 P.M there was to be a meeting of the Interagency Working Group on the third floor, “C” corridor, of the Central Intelligence Agency at Langley, Virginia. The civil war in Angola was going badly for our allies, and the CIA had formally recommended a major escalation-the introduction of American military advisors-to the secretary of state, Henry Kissinger….

          Using a pointer, I started at the top of the map and talked my way down through the battlefields, bringing everyone up to date since the previous week’s meeting. In the north our allies, the FNLA and the elite Zairian paracommando battalions, had been routed and were now a broken rabble….

          On November 24, the CIA had presented the 49 Committee with optional plans costing an additional $30, $60 or $100 million, but with the Agency’s reserves expended, there were no more secret funds….

          Kissinger was, as always, preoccupied with other matters of state and his rather complicated social life. Ambassador Mulcahy had had difficulty gaining an audience, but had, finally, succeeded. We would soon know with what result.

          At the outset, Potts had confided a desire to make the working group sessions so dull that non-CIA members would be discouraged in their supervision of “our” work. He had succeeded brilliantly. Working his way laboriously down a long agenda, he generally took three hours to cover one hour’s material, while his listeners struggled with fatigue, boredom, and the labor of digesting lunch in the poorly ventilated conference room. Inevitably breathing grew heavier, heads would nod, bounce up, then nod again.

          I myself never dared to sleep; a colonel in a room full of general officers. Today, at least, there ought to be enough interest to keep them awake for a while; after all, we were meeting to plan a major escalation of a war. I finished my presentation and sat down.

          Potts turned to Mulcahy and spoke pleasantly. “Well, Ed, what did Kissinger say?”

          Mulcahy tamped his pipe and sucked on it for a few moments, apparently having trouble framing an answer. Potts watched him quietly. Finally Mulcahy spoke, “He didn’t exactly *say* anything.”

          “Did he read the paper?”

          “Oh, yes. I took it to him myself just a few minutes before he left for Peking. l insisted he read it.”

          “You mean he didn’t make *any* comment? He just read it? and took off?” Potts looked baffled, exasperated.

          Mulcahy nodded ruefully. “He read it. Then he grunted, and walked out of his office.”


          “Yeah, like, unnph!” Mulcahy grunted.

          “He’s going to be gone ten days!” Potts scowled. “What are we supposed to do in Angola in the meantime? We have to make some decisions today!”

          Mulcahy shrugged ·helplessly. They looked at each other.

          “Well, was it a positive grunt or a negative grunt?” Potts asked.

          Mulcahy studied for a moment, considering. “It was just a grunt. Like, unnph. I mean it didn’t go up or down.·”

          This group of somber men were supervising the country’s only current war. They were gathered today to discuss steps that could affect world peace. No one was smiling. Mulcahy grunted again, emphasizing a flat sound. Down the table someone else tried it, experimenting with the sound of a positive grunt, then a negative one, his voice rising, then falling. Others attempted it while Potts and Mulcahy watched.

          “Well,” Potts said. “Do we proceed with the advisors?”

          Mulcahy scowled and puffed on his pipe, uncomfortable in his position as Kissinger’s surrogate.

          “We better not,” he said finally, “Kissinger just decided not to send Americans into the Sinai.” Everyone nodded in agreement. Inaction was safe, and easier to correct.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > we will go save the Venezuelans soon if Biden wins.

        Let’s remember the concept of “near-shoring.” We don’t have to go all the way to Asia for cheap labor; there’s plenty in Latin America.

  13. zagonostra

    Isn’t it curious that the Trump and Biden are pretty much splitting the electorate according to polling data, with the latter being slightly up. Yet the country is overwhelmingly for M4A, no close split there, overwhelmingly for getting out of overseas wars and meddling in other countries affairs, no close split there, having national elections declared a paid holiday so more people can get to the polls, no close split there, etc…so how did this game end up this way. Can someone check the dice to see if their fixed, no, don’t bother, we know what’s going on. It was in Matt Taibbi review of Thomas Frank’s book in links.

    America’s financial and political establishment has always been most terrified of an inclusive underclass movement. So it evangelizes a bizarre transgressive politics that tells white conservatives to fuck themselves and embraces a leftist sub-theology that preaches class as a racist canard. Same old game, same old goal: keep people divided. The only cost to the “consensus thinkers” who will likely re-take the White House under Joe Biden is, they will have to join Nike and Bank of America in flying a “Black Lives Matter” banner above a conference room or two as they re-take their seats at the controls of the S.S. Neoliberalism.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Black lives do matter. OTOH, a movement that can get massive coverage on the World Economic Forum’s front page may not be as transgressive as its advocates believe it to be (or say that it is):

  14. DF

    RE: Comcast

    “Fantastic” is relative. In ABQ, CenturyLink doesn’t even try anymore. CL hasn’t done any upgrades to their last-mile infrastructure in years. Same old VDSL2 with no speed increases. IPv6 support is still 6rd instead of dual-stack.

    The big benefit of their apathy is that you can get their service for a good price ($40/mo forever) and they don’t bother to enforce their 1TB cap.

    1. a different chris

      It’s so slow they probably secretly applaud anybody who can sit there long enough to consume 1TB.

  15. Jen

    Took a drive over through northern NH into western ME this past weekend. I saw two Biden signs, probably 20 trump signs, and one sign that read “any functioning adult 2020,” which I’ve also seen in my area. Oh, and a “Make Orwell fiction again” sign. It’s not clear at all to me that either candidate will satisify the wish of the latter two sign posters.

  16. martell

    Regarding C-M-C’, I don’t believe that Marx ever discusses such a circuit in Capital. He discusses C-M-C and M-C-M’. In the latter expression the prime symbol indicates increased value relative to the first M, the one without superscript. Also, Marx did not think either circuit sufficient for clarifying the fundamental classes of social formations dominated by the capitalist mode of production. Concepts of both of those circuits are constructed out of categories (commodity and money) which only provide for a very superficial account of one part of the whole that is capitalism: markets. The account they offer is superficial because it does not allow the circuit that’s characteristic of capitalist markets (M-C-M’) to be understood. Given the assumption under which Marx’s analysis operates at this point (namely, that commodities exchange in proportions determined by their values), the capitalist circuit is only comprehensible if further categories are introduced, categories pertaining to production rather than distribution. These categories include labor-power, necessary labor, surplus labor, and, of course, surplus value. Classes are introduced into Marx’s analysis as he argues that a condition of the possibility of M-C-M’ is that someone buys complete control of the activity of someone else (their labor) and then uses the latter (like a tool) in such a way as to ensure that value added by labor exceeds the value of the wage (so there’s a surplus). The former is, of course, a capitalist and the latter a wage-laborer. It might also be worth noting that Marx regarded those initial, market orientation categories as making for an ideological representation (roughly, functionally distortive representation) of capitalist reality. Relative to those simple categories, participants in capitalist society seem to be free and equal individuals each of whom pursues his or her own happiness through consensual exchange with others. Capitalism so conceived is a classical liberal paradise. Marx’s subsequent argument is an attempt to shatter this illusion, revealing that the consensual relationships on which liberals focus are actually coercive relationships, relationships in which some people are made into the things of others.

    All that said, Marx would of course agree that there is no capital (no M-C-M’ circuit) unless a large number of people regularly appeared in the marketplace with nothing to sell but themselves. And they would not appear if they had independent access to means of subsistence. So, yes, reproduction of this system is threatened by any policy that would allow those people to live without renting themselves out.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Regarding C-M-C’, I don’t believe that Marx ever discusses such a circuit in Capital. H

      You are absolutely right and I apologize. I should have seen the “‘” as a multiplier, and not as a marker of difference (i.e., whatever commodities I buy to reproduce my labor power differs as the cycle begins anew, which is how I see it. I eat bread one day, purchase clothes the next… ). Let me quote the Bearded One (who I should have consulted, instead of relying on my obviously faulty memory):

      The simplest form of the circulation of commodities is C-M-C, the transformation of commodities into money, and the change of the money back again into commodities; or selling in order to buy. …

      The circuit C-M-C starts with one commodity, and finishes with another, which falls out of circulation and into consumption. Consumption, the satisfaction of wants, in one word, use-value, is its end and aim. The circuit M-C-M, on the contrary, commences with money and ends with money. Its leading motive, and the goal that attracts it, is therefore mere exchange-value.

      Buying in order to sell, or, more accurately, buying in order to sell dearer, M-C-M’, appears certainly to be a form peculiar to one kind of capital alone, namely, merchants’ capital. But industrial capital too is money, that is changed into commodities, and by the sale of these commodities, is re-converted into more money. The events that take place outside the sphere of circulation, in the interval between the buying and selling, do not affect the form of this movement. Lastly, in the case of interest-bearing capital, the circulation M-C-M’ appears abridged. We have its result without the intermediate stage, in the form M-M’, “en style lapidaire” so to say, money that is worth more money, value that is greater than itself.

      M-C-M’ is therefore in reality the general formula of capital as it appears prima facie within the sphere of circulation.

      I highly recommend that whole chapter, despite my crude misappropriation. “There it is,” as we say on the Internet.

      > reproduction of this system is threatened by any policy that would allow those people to live without renting themselves out.

      Exactly. That is the point. Any COVID solution that brings the reproduction of labor power (C-M-C) and necessarily the accumulation of capital (M-C-M’) to a halt — say, for a month, as Slavitt suggests — either (a) does not provision the working class (riots) or (b) does (which could have te unfortunate effect of making people ask “Why don’t we do this all the time?”). We have both parties temporizing on this point and hazing it over, but that is the fundamental contradiction, as I believe we call it, remains. In fact, both parties have opted for option (b), seeking to make it more brutal (Republicans) or less (Democrats), but neither party wants to make the provisioning anything other than temporary, and both make the provisioning clumsy and stupid and screwed up (Republicans by cutting program scope, Democrats through means-testing and complex eligibility requirements).

  17. Pelham

    Re Property is not theft …: “The recent attacks on buildings, monuments, and police stations that occurred in the course of protests against state-sanctioned murder were not an unfortunate byproduct of otherwise peaceful, legitimate protests but integral to them.”

    Yes, the destruction does appear to be integral. But note the reference to “buildings, monuments and police stations” rather cleverly slides around where a lot of the damage was done — tiny storefront businesses probably run by shop owners or franchisees working 80-100 hours a week for what amounts to less than minimum wage.

    My 2 cents: A big point of any protest, violent or not, should be to get a lot of other people on board with the cause. There certainly have been a lot of protests with lots and lots of people, but how many of these people were already on board? I suppose awareness was raised, so that’s a positive, but I doubt that many Americans who weren’t much concerned about police violence before have been persuaded.

    1. a different chris

      Yeah but… you talk about this like the organizers could be somehow responsible. Hell Bill Belichek is the most feared coach in football and still somebody misses a block, runs a wrong route. And these are people getting paid to listen to him and win the game.

      But a march organizer pays nobody and has no say in who is on his/her “team”. So you either stay at home and nobody knows what you want changed, or you have a march and hope that too much of the bad stuff won’t overshadow why you are marching.

      Unless you have a better suggestion?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Have a large per cent of the peaceful marchers be trained and armed to cripple or kill the first riot troll who tries to break a window or start a fire or throw a brick.

        Make it very clear that every potential rioter will be crippled or killed by the marchers themselves before it( the potential rioter) can get a riot started. When potential rioters and looters learn by example that they will be deleted or exterminated too fast to get their riot or lootathon started, they will give up trying.

        1. Alternate Delegate

          Dear drumlin woodchuckles, you don’t appear to have ever been near anything of this sort. The kindest thing I can think of to say about your suggestion is “unworkable.”

          Just to start with, do you know about agents provocateurs? Those are often police in plainclothes, provoking the trouble. Lay a finger on them and you’ll be in the paddy wagon before you know it. You want to stay away from those guys. Don’t follow their lead, is the most you can do.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            You are correct. I have never been near a riot, or a protest seeded with false flag secret police tasked with getting a riot started.

            But how would “not following their lead” spare you from police attack? Their job is to throw a brick or 2 so that the police can preTEND to believe that the protesters were throwing the brick. Then the police take whatever action they were already pre-planning to take against the protest anyway.

            You have pointed out a fatal flaw with non-violent protests as currently understood. The protesters do not currently have a culture of crushing police provocateurs with such overwhelming force and numbers that the police can not put them all in paddy wagons.
            If the entire protest community unanimously shared a cultural believe that ” The violent provocateur has no rights which the peaceful protester is bound to respect”, then the protest community would figure out how to have enough violence-capable non-violent protesters evenly distributed throughout the protest such that 10 or 50 or a hundred provocation-prevention protesters could beat down each provocateur within the first few seconds of its attempt to provoke. The numbers would have to be such that the uniformed police would not be able to arrest a meaningful fraction of the provocation-suppression squads.

            And until the protest community decides to develop the culture and capabilities needed to suppress and exterminate provocation by false-flag police, black bloc recreational anarchists, opportunistic riot-kiddies, etc.; I don’t see the peaceful protester community ever having an answer to the police provocateur problem.

            Now, I may be wrong, but I believe I myself have written in the past about police provocateurs at protests. So you are not correct in thinking I have never heard of this problem.

            But yes, you are correct to remind me that as long as the protest movement cannot deploy as many hundreds of secretly trained and secretly prepared provocation-suppression personnel as it takes to destroy the provocateurs while rendering the overt police helpless to do anything to save their little tools and finks by virtue of overwhelming numbers . . . . then just a few protesters attempting to suppress provocateurs will only result in their arrest or worse.

      2. ambrit

        If a “march organizer” has a deep pocketed backer, he or she will most certainly bring in outside ‘agitators’ to act as yeast in the local dough and try to get some ferment going.
        My example; the civil rights “freedom riders.” Outside zealots who came down to Da South to help organize the black people into working the political process. I met one such man. The father of a girl I went out with in High School.
        No matter who initiates the actual “kinetic” activities, violence is almost always assured in such situations. The ‘Old Guard’ has too much at stake to meekly sit around and watch their money and power slip away. Often, the ‘Old Guard’ has utilized violent tactics in managing their ascendancy that guarantee an equally violent revenge cycle when the tables turn. There is a ‘good’ reason why revolutions go through a Terror phase. It’s just good old payback.

        1. Harold

          I don’t quite remember it that way. That is, maybe I am a bit shocked at your referring to freedom riders as “zealots.” They were regarded with quite a lot of awed respect at the time.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > tiny storefront businesses probably run by shop owners or franchisees working 80-100 hours a week for what amounts to less than minimum wage.

      Quite right, as Michael Tracey points out.

      Of course, if you want an economy that’s dominated by a few giant monopolies, then accelerating the process of destroying all small business is good.

  18. Dr. John Carpenter

    Re Biden (D)(4), this is something that I’ve so far not really heard anyone addressing. I keep hearing about Biden’s “comfortable” lead and so on. But what I want to know is why with all going on is he not completely decimating Trump? I think the best numbers for him I heard was like an 18 point lead at one point. If I were a Dem muckity muck, I’d be more that a little concerned about the numbers, especially when one factors in all the irregularities of the primary season.
    (And I guess part of this is rhetorical as I know their strategy is to sit back and let Trump sink himself, because surely it will work this time! But I just feel a bit of Emperors New Clothes here too where this lead isn’t insurmountable, especially in a year when so much is changing. I’d be worried but maybe that’s just me.)

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The Dem muckity mucks were only concerned with preventing a Sanders nomination. Biden’s poor lead does not disturb the Dem mukmuks because they accepted it ahead of time as the price of preventing a Candidate Sanders.

      The Dem mukmuks already decided they would rather risk letting Trump win then allow Sanders to run.

  19. Keith

    Regarding destruction of private property as debate, that notion regards me of seeing a small child stubbing his toe on a rock, and the parent tells the child to hit the rock because it was bad. It just seems like an infantile response. Thinking about Minneapolis, seeing all the white people descend upon black neighborhoods to protest and riot, “engaging in speech” by destroying stores and then pack up and return to their homes, leaving the people in the neighborhoods without grocery stores and pharmacies. Not exactly a brilliant idea, but in fairness, emotionally driven mobs are often not the best thought out groups.

    1. a different chris

      Yeah, um: “seeing all the white people descend upon black neighborhoods to protest and riot, “engaging in speech” by destroying stores ”

      All. All the white people. Every one of which were committed to the cause and didn’t just show up because they were 18 years old and wanted to throw bricks. Grandma made off with this, the french history teacher made off with that… amazing how consistently bad everybody behaved.

      1. JBird4049

        Nuance is bad for the Empire. So yes, the protestors are all a single hive-mind of wanton destruction and looting.

        1. ambrit

          So, and, say, an invading army would be an example of “decorous destruction and looting?” (Empire approved formulation!)
          Yes, nuance is bad for an Empire, but I guess that that is parse for the course.

    2. Alternate Delegate

      Keith, I’m kinda tired of the identity politics falsehoods here. Your description of what happened in Minneapolis is 100% false. And your falsehood serves a divisive program. My neighborhood was affected and I know the truth.

      The truth is that Minneapolis has enough genuine solidarity across race and ethinic lines to make a difference. That’s why it was especially targeted by police violence. But elements of this solidarity hold true across the country, and that’s where our hope is.

      Our hope, Keith.

  20. Matthew G. Saroff

    I remember 2016, and Hillary and her “Geniuses” decided that lawn signs and bumper stickers were a waste of money, because they knew how to micro-target, and they had the data.

    It worked out so f%$#ing well, didn’t it.

    We have the same cohort of venal, incompetent, and self-dealing morons running the Biden campaign as who ran the Clinton campaign.

    Means 4 more years of Trump, but it will be the fault of those damn lefties.

      1. Matthew Saroff

        Your statement assumes that the center gives a f$#@ in a rolling doughnut about what progressives say.

        Also the imperative is to retain power within the Democratic Party, not the power OF the Democratic Party, because they make their living running expensive media driven campaigns for unappetizing candidates.

        Two quotes from political notables, first Upton Sinclair:

        It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it

        The second from Boise Penrose, in response to a complaint that he was choosing stand pat candidates who would lose:

        Yes, but I’ll preside over the ruins.

      1. ambrit

        Since Biden is now essentially an electronic candidate, couldn’t we run a “virtual” candidate for office? Say, let us start a “Kaye Fabe” for House in Florida campaign committee. We could run a Republican ‘Kaye Fabe’ against a Democrat ‘Kaye Fabe’ and let the best thing win!
        The Campaign could have ‘Focus Groups’ show up a demonstrations. One tactic would to have a line of ‘Focusers’ hold up over sized ‘tablets’ with coordinated displays that push the approved “message of the day.” Let’s call this tactic: Wall of Memes.
        On a related front, is The Lincoln Project suing to stop the Log Cabin Republicans from politicing because the Log Cabin boys are dealing with a too narrow field of issues? I would have thought that Lincoln and Log Cabins were a natural fit.

  21. Phil in KC

    Driving around on the Kansas side of the KCMO metro area in the tonier parts of Johnson County revealed one Trump yard sign for every two Biden signs. This area supports blue dog Democrats and moderate Republicans. On the Missouri side, Biden signs are everywhere. Haven’t seen a Trump sign at all. That said, I don’t know that either candidate has offices anywhere in the metro area.

    Possible Kansas may elect a Democrat for the US Senate this year if Kobach wins the Republican nomination for the seat being vacated by Pat Roberts.

  22. David Carl Grimes

    Regarding: Settle for Biden

    Jill Biden had a better slogan: “Hold your nose and vote for Joe!”

  23. Anthony Wikrent

    Actually, on nothing but Social Security, $66.99 for wheel locks is over two days’ income. Whoever thinks that’s cheap enough to vindictively inflict pain is an asshole on two counts – being vindictive, and being hopelessly out of touch with the impoverished.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Zip tying a shopping cart to a car door handle seems like fitter retaliation for ‘douchebag parking fouls’. Memorable inconvenience without damage. Not that *I’d* ever do anything like that of course.

  24. Barbara

    I live in Northern NJ and I haven’t seen one Biden or Trump sign yet. Before the primary I did see Arati Kreibach for Congress signs but she lost badly.

    But, boy, do I get emails. I got my first email from the Biden campaign asking me to add my name to support Biden.

    I didn’t. I wrote back and said: You haven’t worked hard enough. Go back and work with Bernie.

    I hope that gave them indigestion.

  25. The Rev Kev

    “…buy wheel locks for cheap enough to put on someone’s car who pissed you off.”

    I don’t suppose they make smaller ones. Ones that would fit, say, a Lime scooter perhaps?

    And in reference to that “How the 1918 Pandemic Got Meme-ified in Jokes, Songs and Poems” article, they forgot a famous children’s song at the time-

    I had a little bird, it’s name was Enza
    I opened up the window and in flew Enza.

  26. Swamp Yankee

    Southeast Massachusetts here. Have seen about an even number of Biden and Trump signs, perhaps slightly more for Trump. It depends where you are. If we’re talking a wealthy coastal town populated by professionals and the actual rich, Biden tends to dominate. If we’re talking interior Swamp Yankee towns with a more working class population, you tend to see more Trump. Indeed, saw some wild pro-Trump folk art in Halifax, Mass. (a very conservative town). A ten foot tall papier-mache Trump. It was wild.

    Lots of signs for local races — Town Selectman, State Rep, etc.

  27. 430 MLK

    I’ve enjoyed these takes on the re-alignment of political parties and the historical presidential race analogs Water Cooler has periodically thrown out: the Tilden compromise that ultimately ended Reconstruction, and today, the formation of the Republican party in 1856. Two other earlier presidential races jump out to me:

    (1) The 1836 presidential election (Van Buren over Harrison) that saw the establishment of the Whig party. The Whigs grew out of an intense political hatred of uncouth Democrat president Andrew Jackson, whose crass ways infuriated established Jeffersonian Democrats. Historians (at least the few I’ve read) generally point to the Whigs as a party lacking in any political ideology beyond being Anti-Jackson, a seemingly potential trajectory of what the Never-Trump Democrats are transitioning into.

    (2) More optimistically, there’s the 1848 shaking up of the Democrat/Whig pro-slavery bipartisanship by the Free Soil Party. The Free Soil Party was trounced at the polls, but it essentially cratered the Whig Party and made space for the later development of the Republican party by identifying anti-slavery as a unifying political ideology. Why do I find it hopeful? The Free Soil Party began as a populist revolt of New York-based agrarian Democrats, known as the locofocos, against the NYC wealthy mercantilists, known as the Barnburners, who were making bank on the southern cotton trade. [Contextually, Democrats were more akin to the modern-day Republican party, making locofocos a sort of Tea Party variant that ran afoul of its wealthier establishment leaders.]

    Free Soil openly opposed the extension of slavery into the western territories because of how it devalued the labor of white artisans and small farmers. The longer slogan was, I think, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Territory. (The free territory was a pushback on the awarding of large land grants to wealthy corporations.) Once the locofocos split from the Barnburners, they were able to form an alliance with the abolitionist Liberty Party, and that put pressure on the Whig’s middle-of-the-road stance regarding slavery. Some northern whig politicians joined with the locofocos as well.

    I think about Free Soil probably more than I ought, particularly how it was able to frame a national issue in a way to draw energy away from the dominant political parties. Before the George Floyd protests, I imagined this new ‘Free Soil’ adage to organize around something like, ‘Free Healthcare,’ a national issue unaddressed by our modern-day Democrat and Whig parties that has the potential to unify our current era’s locofoco populists, abolitionist organizers, and even some of those more urbane pmc whigs.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Yes, and the word “Hunker” itself comes into English via Hudson Valley Dutch at this period. It originally meant “to lead a base” in the proto- version of baseball that was played at the time. It came to be applied to conservative Democrats in NY State who were opposed to the Barnburners (and Locofocos; the former were more an upstate phenomenon, the latter a NYC collection of radical laborers).

        Add in to this the fact that the Hudson Valley is still run on a system that is essentially feudal (cf. the Anti-Rent War) into the 1840s; you inherit the status of tenant to various local “patroons”, the giant landholding NY Aristocracy.

        Another great term from this period — Doughface, or ‘Northern men of Southern principles’ like Franklin Pierce. Kinda reminds me of Rahm Emmanuel somehow.

        1. 430 MLK


          Doughface….I’ve got to put that term in my back pocket and carry it around.

          Epynonymous…as I understand it, Jackson was against the Bank but ended up creating work-arounds to it that created a de facto national bank with state opt-ins. I may be off (Swamp Yankee or others may be able to correct me), but the National Bank issue sort of acted like Obamacare–neither political party really addressed the needs of their constituents for circulate-able specie, with the possible exception of wealthy northerners and southerners who were mostly OK w/ the status quo deadlock.

  28. marym

    “The Census Bureau is ending all counting efforts for the 2020 census on Sept. 30, a month shorter than previously announced, the bureau’s director confirmed Monday in a statement. That includes critical door-knocking efforts and collecting responses online, over the phone and by mail.”

    According to the article the original deadline was 07/31, extended by Congress to 10/31 due to the pandemic. Now the Census Bureau Director and Commerce Secretary say they need to end counting on 09/31 in order to complete it the “data collection and apportionment counts” by a 12/31 deadline that Congress hasn’t extended.


  29. Phil in KC

    I too admire Carter, specifically for the way he articulates his values and puts them into practice. But lest we forget the misbegotten raid on Iran via helicopter in 1980? A sandstorm shut down the mission. We were prepared to shoot. Operation Eagle Claw.

    Jimmy Carter was my C-in-C while I was in the Navy. Must say that in the immediate aftermath of Vietnam there was not much of an appetite for war.

    1. BlakeFelix

      Ya, but I don’t even really disapprove of that raid other than that it failed. Rescuing hostages seems like an appropriate use of state violence to me. And if it had worked we would probably get the 2nd Carter term, no Reagan revolution time-line. Solar panels still on the White House, Carter and decent folks getting the credit Reagan gets for Volcker turning the economy around. We lost a lot when those helicopters crashed, not even counting some of our best soldiers. Maybe.

  30. VietnamVet

    My county, a DC suburb, e-mailed this; “No gathering is truly low-risk. Recent contact tracing interviews revealed the following top activities: 44% Family gatherings 23% House parties 21% outdoor events.” Bikini pictures draw views but this highlights the confusion and ignorance about the pandemic. Together with Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals player infections, this shows that being outdoors is not total protection. It appears to lower transmission about 50%.

    This pandemic, the economic depression and Donald Trump are a perfect storm. With 6” of rain predicted here tomorrow, water is rushing over the gunwales.

  31. richard

    I’m quite sure this has been covered here before, but maybe somebody reading today also has information: is there a law prohibiting coordinated action between unions? I remember “sympathy strikes” are illegal, but what if we are all just in sympathy with each other, i.e. a general strike. is that illegal? is it considered insurrection or something just to try to organize everyone to not work?

  32. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is a chart someone posted to Reddit. It purports to compare the “various impacts” of a beef patty versus a ” beyond beef or whatever” patty. I wonder whether careful analysis would reveal it to be a demonstration of the wise old saying that . . . Figures lie when liars figure.


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