2:00PM Water Cooler 8/7/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

#COVID19

At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Here are the bottom five of the top ten problem states: Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, and Illinois, with Georgia for comparison:

UPDATE CA: “Raucous parties, young adults fueling California’s COVID-19 crisis” [Los Angeles Times]. The headline doesn’t match the body: “The surge in California over the last two months had several causes, including the reopening of the economy that allowed the coronavirus to spread rapidly among low-wage workers, many of them Latino essential workers whose employers haven’t followed new infection control rules. But summer celebrations among young people are also a recurring problem, and one particularly frustrating to officials trying to slow outbreaks.” • No point shaming essential workers, I suppose. Party on!

MS: “Over 100 students quarantined in Mississippi school district after several individuals tested positive for Covid-19” [CNN]. “Taylor Coombs, spokesperson for the Corinth School District, told CNN that six students and one staff member tested positive for the coronavirus. According to Coombs, 116 students that have been considered in “close contact” of a positive case have been sent home to quarantine for 14 days. The student population in the district is 2700…. In-person classes resumed in the district on July 27, according to the school calendar.”

OH: Handy diagram:

No similar diagram for the Lewis funeral…

Politics

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

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

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

The electoral map. July 17: Georgia, Ohio, ME-2 move from Leans Republican to Toss-up. Continued yikes. On July 7, the tossup were 86. Only July 17, they were 56. Now they are 91. This puts Biden at 278, i.e. over 270. 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!

2020

Biden (D)(1): “DNC Delegates Call Biden Foreign Policy Team ‘A Horror Show’ And Ask For New Hires” [HuffPo]. “[A] new letter that’s being circulated among delegates to the Democratic National Convention is raising alarm bells about the circle of advisers who would likely form Biden’s foreign policy team if he becomes president. A widely circulated message promoting the letter, which is already signed by more than 275 delegates — almost all of whom were pledged to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — says Biden’s current circle is ‘a horror show’ of advisers with track records of supporting ‘disastrous’ U.S. military interventions.”

UPDATE Biden (D)(2): “Biden camp taps Republican Trump foe Ana Navarro to rev up Latino voters” [NBC]. “The Biden campaign is hoping Republican commentator Ana Navarro, a Trump foe known for her salty quips, can help drive Latino and other voters to the presumptive Democratic nominee. That’s one of the biggest messaging points the Trump campaign has been pushing to solidify and energize GOP Latino voters in the critical swing state of Florida — calling Biden and other Democrats communists, socialists and communist sympathizers. But by collecting the support of Navarro and others like her, the Biden campaign is not only trying to puncture that thinking, but get others to galvanize never-Trump voters.” • I really hadn’t expected The Great Assimilation™ to extend to Hispanic voter outreach. I suppose the calcuation is that in California and Texas “There Is No Alternative,” and in Florida its important to appeal to irredentist exile communities..

UPDATE Biden (D)(3): Alert reader JH writes via email:

For what it is worth, I had a 1968 Corvette for about 20 years – a driver version not a show piece. It is very comparable to Biden’s in that C3=1968-69 Vettes are mostly the same as C2=1963-1967 versions (excepting the bodies). Biden handles that car deftly and expertly. It is not an easy car to drive, even in a driveway. And, he absolutely would have “blown past those guys” had he shifted into 2nd. In a flat-out engine redlining acceleration run (i.e. drag), 1st to 2nd gear takes place around 60 mph if I recall… You get there (60+) in a hurry too – several hundred feet and 5-6 seconds. I never got mine over 125, and I was still in 3rd…

UPDATE Biden (D)(4): “Susan Rice Has A Mysterious Gap In Her Resume” [HuffPo]. “Rice worked in private consulting in 2001 and 2002 after serving in the White House and State Department under President Bill Clinton. That’s a common line of work for former officials in Washington, but it can involve morally dubious choices, like defending violations of human rights or democratic norms, and create conflicts of interest when these figures return to power and make decisions affecting the same clients who were recently paying them millions of dollars and could do so again in the future…. In Rice’s case, public scrutiny of potential conflicts is especially hard because she has largely hidden who her clients were when she was a part-time consultant for Intellibridge, a now-shuttered firm that conducted geopolitical research…. In 2012, rights advocates and some U.N. officials expressed concerns that Rice, then the envoy at the international organization, was doing too little to prevent atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo because she was reluctant to pressure neighboring Rwanda and her former client [Rwanda’s Paul] Kagame, The New York Times reported.” • It’s amusing to see all the Democrat VP candidates deploying oppo against each other.

Trump (R)(1): “Here Are the Billionaires Funding Trump’s Voter Suppression Lawsuits” [ReadSludge]. “In more than a dozen states, including battlegrounds like Wisconsin and Michigan, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has initiated or joined lawsuits to block states from expanding vote-by-mail systems or to oppose Democratic lawsuits in states that have resisted putting universal vote-by-mail systems in place. The lawsuits are financed by a $20 million litigation budget that the Republicans have amassed for fighting Democrats on voting issues…. At least 17 of the 24 billionaire donors to the RNC legal fund are among the top 400 wealthiest American households as ranked by Forbes magazine, including the following: Kelcy Warren, CEO of natural gas and propane pipeline giant Energy Transfer Partners, net worth $4.3 billion; Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of The Blackstone Group private equity firm, net worth $17.7 billion; and Charles Schwab, net worth $7.7 billion. Two more top donor families, those of Fertitta brothers Lorenzo and Frank III, fall just outside the top 400 richest Americans, with net worth around $1.6 billion apiece.”

* * *

Marquita Bradshaw:

“Marquita Bradshaw Scores Upset Victory In Tennessee Democratic Senate Primary” [Associated Press]. “The race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander in November will feature a matchup between a Republican candidate endorsed by President Donald Trump and a Black activist who pulled off an astonishing upset victory over the Democratic establishment’s choice — with a campaign war chest of less than $10,000.” • First Cori Bush, now Marquita Bradshaw. Holy moley! I must say, that in 2020 the left — at least below the Presidential level — isn’t doing too shabbily at all! More: “Bradshaw, a single mother, has said she has been “one job away from middle class and one job-loss away from poverty.” She said she was once under-employed, riddled with student loan debt and without adequate health insurance. Then she experienced a foreclosure and bankruptcy. With a platform that favors increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour, adopting the Green New Deal, expanding Medicare and requiring universal background checks for gun purchases, she spent around $5,800 through March, the last time she reported any campaign finance activity, records show. Now she faces a candidate who spent $9.6 million through mid-July.” • Here’s hoping Bradshaw (and Bush) are more like Stokely than John Lewis.

“Who is Marquita Bradshaw, the Memphis woman who just won the Democratic nomination for US Senate?” [Memphis Commercial Appeal]. “Bradshaw, a Memphian, got her start as an environmental activist. She’s the founder of Youth Terminating Pollution and spoke out against what became the Memphis Defense Depot Superfund Site in South Memphis… As an organizer, she’s continued that environmental activism and pushed for communities to understand the impacts of pollution on communities of color. She is the environmental justice chair for the Memphis Chapter of the Sierra Club…. How did she win, spending about $25,000 during a pandemic that precluded most forms of retail politics? Volunteers, Zoom calls and organizing principles. And she plans on continuing that strategy in the general election.” • Hopefully the Sierra Club is less supine in the Border states (making me think, yet again, what a missed opportunity Charles Booker was in another Border state. If the left had started pushing a month earlier…).

“Marquita Bradshaw wins Tennessee’s Democratic US Senate primary” [Tennessean]. “The Memphis Democrat faced four challengers: Robin Kimbrough, James Mackler, Gary Davis and Mark Pickrell. Bradshaw won the race with 35.5% of the vote. Kimbrough had 26.6% and Mackler had 23.8%. Davis and Pickrell trailed with each winning less than 10% of the vote. … Bradshaw beat out a better-known and better-funded challenger. Previously, Mackler ran briefly in 2018 for former U.S. Sen. Bob Corker’s seat until former Gov. Phil Bredesen joined the race. He bowed out and endorsed Bredesen. This time around, Mackler received Bredesen’s endorsement and had already been running a campaign aimed at the two leading Republican candidates. He had the backing of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.” • Take that, DSCC.

* * *

“Viewpoint: Pro-Labor Candidates Are Upending New York Politics—But Where Are the Unions?” [Labor Notes]. An ugly picture:

At a candidate forum in Central Brooklyn for a New York state senate race, the moderator asked a simple yes or no question: “Do you support charter schools?”

It was no surprise that public school teacher, union member, and democratic socialist Jabari Brisport answered with a terse “nope”—unions rightly see charters as an effort to privatize and deunionize the teaching profession.

It’s also sadly not much of a surprise that his opponent, sitting Democratic Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright, answered with a “yes.” Charter schools are backed by deep-pocketed corporate interests, many of them major donors to the Democratic establishment. During the primary campaign, Wright received $7,500 from Democrats for Education Reform, a pro-charter group funded by the likes of Walmart heiress Alice Walton and hedge fund titan Dan Loeb.

The real surprise is that the statewide teachers union (NYSUT), which is largely controlled by its New York City local, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), decided to endorse Assemblywoman Wright, the candidate who explicitly opposes the union’s own legislative agenda, over one of its own members.

Brisport still won the Democratic primary for the 25th senate district convincingly—without his union’s support—even defeating Assemblywoman Wright in her own assembly district. And he’s hardly the only example of a pro-labor candidate winning without official labor support.

Our Famously Free Press

“Facebook Fired An Employee Who Collected Evidence Of Right-Wing Pages Getting Preferential Treatment” [Buzzfeed]. ” In another recent Workplace post, a senior engineer collected internal evidence that showed Facebook was giving preferential treatment to prominent conservative accounts to help them remove fact-checks from their content. sThe company responded by removing his post and restricting internal access to the information he cited. On Wednesday the engineer was fired, according to internal posts seen by BuzzFeed News.” • If Facebook were smaller — i.e., broken up (no, I’m not sure how) — it could just be a venue with a point of view.

UPDATE Pelosi gets huffy:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Letter From An Angry Middle-American Vet” [The American Conservative]. Several letters, actually. This one caught my eye: “Personally, I favor a ‘let our erring sisters go in peace’ approach. [But] US urban areas can be cut off from each other at least at ground level and possibly even besieged to an extent. US cities are vulnerable in ways that country areas are not, especially since a civil war would cut them off of energy and food supplies unless shipped from overseas. Also, the urban population of the US by and large does not own arms and is less likely to have experienced military training,” • Big discussion of what “civil war” would actually look like. And it’s interesting that such a discussion took place.

UPDATE “2020 defeated America because of Americans, not just Donald Trump” [Will Bunch, Philadelphia Inquirer]. “When the New York Times dug deeply into why its home city — where more than 23,000 have died from the virus — became the national epicenter of the outbreak this spring, its reporters found the biggest factor in who survived the coronavirus and who didn’t was whether a patient was admitted to a private or a public hospital. … [P]atients were three times more likely to die at community hospitals in New York City’s outer boroughs than at private facilities in the wealthiest zip codes in Manhattan. That’s because the nurse-to-patient ratio at those swamped public hospitals was astronomically higher, because patients at the wealthier hospitals had better access to drugs like Remdesivir, while those in the poorer hospitals dealt with ventilators that didn’t have all the right settings. In Queens, the paper reported, some unwatched patients died removing masks to go to the bathroom…. The myth that simply replacing Trump with Joe Biden in the Oval Office on Jan. 20, 2021 — after tens of thousands more deaths and what’s sure to be a bumpy landing — will kick off an FDR New Deal-type response that in a few weeks will turn America into New Zealand is a dangerous one. If Biden’s basic instinct is merely to reset the clock to 2015, as many fear, that will ignore the uniquely American flaws that very much existed in 2015….” • A bit of a shift for Bunch, significant for the zeitgeist, I think.

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please contact me at the email address below.

Employment Situation: “July 2020 BLS Jobs Situation – Employment Grew 1,763,000 But Still Down 12,572,000 Year-to-Date” [Econintersect]. “The headline seasonally adjusted BLS job growth showed a very good job gain but still under expectations, with the unemployment rate improving from 11.1% to 10.2 %… [R]\eaders are advised that the basis of the BLS numbers are from the middle of July (which are extrapolated to the end of the month). Still, these numbers are much better than ADP estimated on Wednesday.”

Wholesale Sales: “June 2020 Headline Wholesale Sales and Inventories Remain In Contraction But Significantly Improved” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say wholesale sales were up month-over-month with inventory levels remaining very elevated. Our analysis shows a small decline in the rate of growth for the rolling averages… This was a good recovery from the coronavirus infection but still, the rolling averages declined.”

Leading Indicators: “31 July 2020 ECRI’s WLI Improvement Continues But Remains In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “Improved but remains in contraction.”

* * *

“A Monthly Peek into Americans’ Credit During the COVID-19 Pandemic” [Liberty Street Economics]. Key takeaways: “1. Growth in Household debt balances has stalled—mainly due to a decline in credit card balances…. 2. Foreclosures have screeched to a halt…. 3. The CARES Act provided forbearances on mortgage payments, but the uptake on forbearances has been mixed and varies by type of mortgage…. 4. Delinquency rates are declining as troubled borrowers opt for forbearance…. 5. Nearly all student loan borrowers were rolled into forbearance and troubled borrowers’ were given a (temporary) fresh start… 6. Mortgage refinances have surged, as mortgage interest rates touched historic lows. Refinancing is an attractive option for homeowners.” • Better than HAMP…

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 71 Greed (previous close: 73 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 65 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 7 at 12:00pm. Solid greed. Starting to get dull. A year ago? 25, Extreme Fear. I don’t even remember what that was about.

The Biosphere

“A Historian of Economic Crisis on the World After COVID-19” (interview) [Adam Tooze, New York Magazine]. Tooze: “So what in January 2020 seemed to me like distinct preoccupations — when you’re a “climate political economy” person, you spend your time thinking about capitalism and Exxon, not epidemiology and wet markets — these things were in fact profoundly related. So, for example, those of us working on climate political economy had been developing this scenario we call the “climate Minsky moment” — a market collapse triggered by a sudden devaluation of key assets as a result of climate change and/or of a governmental response to climate change. Well, in a sense, this is precisely what COVID triggered in March. We saw a huge revaluation in assets, not as a result of the epidemic per se, but as a result of the reaction to the epidemic by business actors and national governments. As a historian of the early 20th century, I think I had been predisposed to understand the Anthropocene as a war of attrition. But it turns out this challenge also has an element of blitzkrieg: In a timescale of days, it can mess with you irrevocably. And you could find yourself in a nearly untenable position if you do not act wisely on a timeline of hours. That’s a game changer. It means we need a whole different approach to the problem. And it’s not a matter of resources. It’s a question of alertness, of speed of reaction.” • This interview is so wide-ranging it’s hard to know where to file it; but I put it here, because I think Covid has crowded out my climate links. Well worth a read!

“BP Walks Away From the Oil Supermajor Model It Helped Create” [Bloomberg]. “Just six months after taking the helm, Looney has put meat on the bones of his plans to make BP compliant with the Paris accord on climate change, saying he’ll cut dividends in half, shrink oil and gas output by 40% over the next decade and spend as much as $5 billion a year building one of the world’s largest renewable-power businesses. Where Browne created a global model, Looney’s strategy shows the oil industry is splitting in two. On one side of the Atlantic, BP, Shell and Total are trying to make themselves going concerns for a low-carbon age, diluting their fossil-fuel businesses with plans to build significant revenues from renewable energy. Exxon and Chevron — insulated from the pressure applied by European investors and politicians — are charting a different course: keep pumping as profitably as possible and hand the cash back to investors. Like Big Tobacco, they’re increasingly courting shareholders willing to put returns above the harm their product causes.” • Leave it in the ground!

Health Care

“Chloroquine and COVID-19: A western medical and scientific drift?” (letter) [European Journal of Internal Medicine (Detroit Dan)]. “The countries of the South use hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine on a massive scale, just as they used them before for malaria, or still use them now for systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatic diseases. And, as more than 2 billion people at least have used this treatment, they have the greatest difficulty in believing that this product has become, by 2020, an extremely toxic product… A total of 4.6 billions of people live in countries where chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine are recommended for COVID-19. When there is such a tension in the analysis of the data, one has to be careful… Many recent publications are characterized by a great heterogeneity of therapeutic strategies and the very common lack of clear diagnostic criteria, as for example in the last study published in the New Engl J Med on prophylaxis [10], where only 20 COVID tests were performed for 821 patients. This shows a drift in the scientific publications which sometimes leads to the retraction of the work, or sometimes to its radical questioning in this period of extreme tension around chloroquine. In practice, it is necessary to avoid drawing conclusions too quickly without an exhaustive research of the work carried out before concluding.” • Lots of references, too.

“Work on hydroxychloroquine delayed promising studies of convalescent plasma” [NBC]. “Robust scientific studies on convalescent plasma, a potentially promising COVID-19 treatment, have gotten off to a slow start in the U.S., in part because some researchers were more focused on enrolling their sickest patients in other trials, including some for hydroxychloroquine. ‘You always have that hindsight and say, oh man, we should have put our efforts into something else,’ said Dr. Todd Rice, an associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Early on in the pandemic, Vanderbilt was involved in multiple clinical trials, including those on remdesivir and hydroxychloroquine. Even though the hospital system had also developed a randomized, placebo-controlled trial for convalescent plasma, Rice said, the other trials took priority. While remdesivir was found to be beneficial to patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, a number of large clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine ultimately failed to show any benefit.” • I think “some researchers” is doing a lot of work, there. Subject to corrections from medical research mavens, I’m not sure how fungible research skills really are, or whether the worldwide net of medical research has been affected at all. Finally, see the link above; are we really saying that a medicine given to two billion people isn’t worthy of study? I’m not one to push too heavily on cognitive bias in “Western medicine,” but the slant toward the patentable and profitable solutions preferred by Big Pharma , toward testing in hospital settings, and toward large, randomized, controlled trials only (see Tricia Greenhalgh) does seem evident to this would-be critical thinker.

* * *

“COVID-Induced Anxiety: Some Tips for Staying Sane During Insane Times” [DoctoredTales]. “I recently posted on Twitter about COVID-19 and the feeling of impending devastation that healthcare workers are facing. I compared that feeling to the anxiety of watching a tsunami as it inches towards the shore. The hundreds of responses I received have moved me and changed my thinking. I received notes from soldiers describing similar feelings prior to deployment, from firemen and women attesting to the same before entering a burning building, and from patients describing a similar fear while waiting for the results of a biopsy. This helped me realize that we are not the first, nor the last, of humankind to face such formidable times, and we are certainly better equipped than our ancestors. The strength of my fellow citizens helped brace me for the coming challenge, and strengthened my resolve to go to work with steady hands.” • With tips. Concluding: “While there are certainly dark and unprecedented days ahead, perseverance might be the most underrated of human qualities. And I am certain that together, we will persevere.”

“How the Pandemic Might Be Hurting Your Eyes” [Bloomberg]. “The combination of 30 million Americans out of work and tens of millions more working from home exploded the number of hours people have been glued to a screen…. The pandemic spike in television, streaming and even social media ‘doomscrolling’ may be here for awhile. And all that additional screen-time? Well, it could be bad for you. The LED light emitted from most screens exposes your eyes to high levels of ‘blue light,’ which can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to “computer vision syndrome.’… Exposure to blue light before bedtime can make it harder to get to sleep, possibly through suppressing the production of melatonin. This is especially the case for close-proximity devices such as laptops and mobile phones. Dry eye can also be a problem. The Mayo Clinic suggests adding moisture to the air, taking breaks during longer tasks, positioning your computer screen below eye level and using artificial tears. (Experts remain divided on whether blue light glasses are effective.)” • “Artificial tears” is a little too on-the-nose for the political class…

“How Music Could Become a Crucial Part of Your Sleep Hygiene” [Time]. “n the midst of a pandemic, sleep has never been more important—or more elusive. Studies have shown that a full night’s sleep is one of the best defenses in protecting your immune system. But since the spread of COVID-19 began, people around the world are going to bed later and sleeping worse; tales of terrifying and vivid dreams have flooded social media…. [A]nother unlikely sedative has also seen a spike in usage around bedtime: music…. And since the impacts of the coronavirus have upped the anxiety of daily life, artists’ streams and wellness app downloads have soared, forming bedtime habits that could prove lasting. At the same time, scientists are diving deeper: in September 2019, the National Institute of Health awarded $20 million to research projects around music therapy and neuroscience.” • Musical interlude:

“How Travelers Are Beating Tough Flight Curbs in the Age of Covid” [Bloomberg]. There aren’t enough cheerful examples to quote. So, this: “‘We are not going to see a material recovery for international travel in the near future,’ said Steven Kwok, associate partner of OC&C Strategy Consultants Ltd. Even after a vaccine is available, many will remain uncomfortable with long-haul flights, he said.”

Police State Watch

“Informant on NYPD Payroll Drove Protester to Attack” [Daily Beast]. “The next day, the confidential informant once again picked up Trapp in his car. NYPD officers tailed the vehicle, as the informant recorded their conversation with Trapp. According to the affidavit, Trapp showed the informant his backpack, which reportedly contained a ‘scissor-like tool that could be used to sever a vehicle’s brake lines.’ The surveillance team watched as Trapp and the informant approached a marked NYPD van parked in the Sunset Park area of Brooklyn. The informant stood nearby, pretending to be Trapp’s ‘lookout,’ while Trapp crawled underneath the vehicle in an alleged attempt to disable the brakes. It was all captured on video by both the surveillance team and the informant.” • An enormous police operation surrounding this one hapless simp..

“Three Homeland Security Flights Circled Portland Protesters. Here Are Their Flight Paths” [Willamette Week]. “Flight tracker data shows that on at least three occasions, airplanes owned by Homeland Security circled for hours over Portland protests—on the evenings of July 22, 28 and 29. Since July 16, DHS has restricted flights of all nondesignated aircraft within the airspace directly above Portland for ‘special security reasons.’ The restrictions remain in place through Aug. 16. The planes made repeated, concentric circles over the city for hours, in a technique consistent with ‘dirtboxing’—when a circling plane equipped with Digital Receiver Technology, a DRT box, or a cell site simulator mimics a cellphone tower, effectively intercepting the signals of nearby cellphones. This allows government agents to retain cell phone data and track locations of those in radio range. (DHS did not respond to WW’s questions about the type of surveillance conducted.)” • “Special security reasons.”

“Stop using ‘officer-involved shooting'” [Columbia Journalism Review]. “The anatomy of the phrase is worth exploring. “Officer-involved shooting” is a noun-phrase. In more technical terms, it is a ‘deverbal’ noun—a noun or phrase derived from a verb, which is where the problem arises: If you don’t have a verb, no one is doing anything, so it’s impossible to assign agency. A noun phrase strips the subject and object of agency…. A recent AP story, published July 2, avoids the passive voice and decisively links subject with verb: ‘A Wisconsin police officer shot and killed a Black man on Thursday.’ The headline is also unambiguous: ‘Wisconsin officer shoots Black man brandishing knives.’ Such examples are a reminder that as journalists, we serve readers best when we tell stories straight, at the sentence level.” • Includes a good history of the phrase.

Class Warfare

“California’s agency for protecting workers can’t protect its own — even amid a pandemic, officials say” [Los Angeles Times]. “epleted ranks, the staff members say, have caused the agency to largely abandon in-person inspections in favor of remote investigations by letter and phone. Staffers throughout the agency spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity, citing fears of retaliation. Several shared internal emails suggesting the agency was failing to implement the very COVID-19 guidelines it recommends to employers, such as requiring employees to wear face coverings, social distance and notify staff promptly of positive cases. They said the agency is also not providing testing for staffers, leaving them to wonder if they are spreading infection while carrying out inspections of workplaces stricken by outbreaks.” • Everything is like CalPERS….

New of the Wired

“Power restored to all customers following massive outage in Manhattan” [WABC]. “The loss of power stretched from 5th Avenue to Hudson River, and around 30th-72nd Streets starting shortly before 7:00 p.m, and about 72,000 customers were affected. All had their power back by about midnight.” • Not many, and Yves was on the Upper East Side. Still, one can’t help thinking this is one more reason she got out just in time…

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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 (Kinnucan):

Kinnucan writes: “Last year, come springtime, I decided to plant some millet that was left over from winter bird feeding as ground cover around my vegetables. Never having seen millet on the hoof before, I didn’t know what to expect, but figured it might grow maybe two feet tall. As you can see, things didn’t work out as expected. If you look closely about a third of the way in from the right, you can see a tomato plant being mugged by the millet.” Not sure what’s going to happen when that millet goes to seed…

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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.

139 comments

  1. flora

    Markets are not self correcting. This becomes clearer everyday, even to believers in free market and Reagan’s idea that “government is the problem”.

    “I was one of those people that believed that the market could correct itself—until I saw the cheating,” he said. Over the course of the subcommittee’s investigation, which began in June 2019, Buck heard stories from small business owners that convinced him the tech giants were getting away with unfair play thanks to their size. “You can’t cheat like that unless you have a monopoly,” he said. (At the hearing, the CEOs of each company generally denied any anticompetitive behavior.) Eventually Buck drew connections between monopolization and other issues that trouble him about the platforms, like their possible use of slave labor, which he pointedly asked each CEO to disavow. The basic problem, as he sees it, is that the companies have gotten so big, and face so little competition, that they aren’t disciplined by consumer preferences.

    https://www.wired.com/story/republicans-serious-big-tech-antitrust-armstrong-buck/

    Reply
    1. allan

      Compare and contrast with

      “Capitalism is based on self-interest and self-esteem; it holds integrity and trustworthiness as cardinal virtues and makes them pay off in the marketplace, thus demanding that men survive by means of virtue, not vices. It is this superlatively moral system that the welfare statists propose to improve upon by means of preventative law, snooping bureaucrats, and the chronic goad of fear.”
      ― Alan Greenspan

      That’s the difference between observing reality vs. existing in a fact-free fantasy world.

      Reply
      1. L

        No, that’s the difference between what happens, and what you (or in this case Greenspan) want people to believe.

        Reply
          1. Alfred Willis

            I took L’s comment to suggest that Greenspan was perfectly aware of the facts of the real world, but chose to misrepresent them (euphemism alert) to the advantage of some (viz., those who actually did/do prefer to live in a fact-free fantasy world) and disadvantage of others.

            Reply
              1. sierra7

                For a real good insight into how AG thought in his years in the financial world read his autobiography:
                “The Age of Turbulence”
                For example early on (after giving up a career as a jazz musician; clarinet) in creating his own business he admittedly hired women because they worked for less. A really good book into how he handled his annual “performances” before Congress…..hilarious!

                Reply
                1. flora

                  AG never played serious sports, imo.

                  Imagine the baseball World Series played without umpires, or the college basketball Final Four or the soccer FIFA World Cup played without referees. Doesn’t take much imagination to know how those contests would turn out. Capitalism is, above all, a contest. Without rules-based referees on the field….

                  “Where large sums of money are involved it is advisable to trust no one.” -Agatha Christie

                  Reply
          2. fresno dan

            Lambert Strether
            August 7, 2020 at 3:06 pm

            “Capitalism is based on self-interest and self-esteem; it holds integrity and trustworthiness as cardinal virtues and makes them pay off in the marketplace, thus demanding that men survive by means of virtue, not vices.
            LOL

            https://www.theguardian.com/business/2008/oct/24/economics-creditcrunch-federal-reserve-greenspan
            A long-time cheerleader for deregulation, Greenspan admitted to a congressional committee yesterday that he had been “partially wrong” in his hands-off approach towards the banking industry and that the credit crunch had left him in a state of shocked disbelief. “I have found a flaw,” said Greenspan, referring to his economic philosophy. “I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I have been very distressed by that fact.”
            ….
            “I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organisations, specifically banks and others, were such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms,” said Greenspan.
            ….
            He suggested his trust in the responsibility of banks had been misplaced: “Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity (myself especially) are in a state of shocked disbelief.”

            OR, my own pithy preference of how capitalism answers whether we are our bothers keepers:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQ5Ytow727I

            Reply
      2. Procopius

        Greenspan should have read Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, ““People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

        Reply
    2. Jason Boxman

      What a bizarre society, that my wallet needs to discipline bad behavior. If such behavior is immoral, but the only discipline is it suddenly becomes less (or un) profitable, where then is the discipline, exactly? There’s no mechanism there for actually sanctioning bad behavior. That comes only from either the state or a mob.

      Reply
  2. Wukchumni

    “Letter From An Angry Middle-American Vet” [The American Conservative].
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I was hiking above treeline the other day thinking about a walk I did in the Dolomites about 20 years ago, which was an alpine battleground between the Austrians & Italians mostly in WW1.

    I live in what is the reddest bastion in the state, and from a numbers game it isn’t even within hailing distance-the great divide between the left & right, just pipsqueak numbers here in comparison.

    What would a Civil War battle in the High Sierra look like?

    The other day if I was in the ersatz Dolomites, the Austrians would’ve held the high ground and the Italians would’ve been wiped out easily, there being scant cover.

    Reply
    1. L

      To my mind it is wrong to look at this discussion of a civil war as a mere discussion. Nor can you ignore where such discussion arises. Serious discussion of “What if there was a Civil War” seems to mostly come from two areas.

      The first is from conservative publications where people are talking themselves into it. Any time someone is talking about cutting off food to American cities they are operating on the assumption not that they are defending themselves but that “those people” are the problem. It seems to embody the same perception as this quote from The Guardian

      “We know it came from China, and the Democrats have stopped Trump from doing a good job, they keep fighting him on everything, like the mayors who don’t want federal troops. I used to feel that colored people should have the same rights as whites, but not after these riots. They’re calling us racist but it’s white people like us that put Obama in … voting for him turned out to be a mistake.”

      The other source of course is the elite “centrists” who keep wargaming “What if the proles aren’t happy?” scenarios which the beltway press keep treating as serious.

      What seems to really unite both groups is a basic perception that that electoral politics did not, or will not, get them what they want and even if they win the next election their dominance is limited.

      Reply
      1. Reality Bites

        I read the TAC piece and was unconvinced. For one thing, many of the military ranks, especially lower down, are minorities. They can carry and operate high powered weapons as well as many of the conservative whites egging this on. Also many of the rural areas have farms where the labor comes from Latino immigrants. Places ike Mississippi and Alabma have very large rural African American populations. I somehow doubt many of those immigrants will stay willingly based on the TAC letter writers’s musings. If they wee to be kept unwillingly? Well, I think we see what that leads to and I highly doubt anyone would see the TAC writers as protagonists.

        It also ignores the fact that the winner will be the side that gets ahold of the military largesse. The US government has all types of weapons, bombs, and vehicles designed to inflict mass destruction and death. Your AR-15 will not mean much against most of the military weaponry. Also, the fighters would be nothing like the Taliban or Viet Cong. Both sides would be pretty well adapted to American temperatures and terrain.

        Reply
        1. a different chris

          Yes I wrote a shorter version of this and somehow stupidly placed it out of this link.

          I didn’t even think of the Latino immigrants.. “hey (insert Mexican name here), tired of just working for this a-hole, we’ll get you some guns and the deed to his ranch…”

          Gun nutz never see the entire picture, I guess it’s from so much looking thru a scope?

          Reply
        2. Keith

          I think you are thinking too much of this along racial lines lines. Poor white, Latinos and blacks have more in common with each other than they do with wealthy members of their same race. Also factor in the cultural divide between urban and rural areas. Again, these often times cross racial lines.

          Regarding the point of the govt having all the big guns, true, but it still hasn’t help them against illiterates fighting them in Asia. Locales, regardless of race, creed, etc, have an incentive to defend their homes and their families. That is a stronger bond than some abstract political or social philosophy.

          Lastly, in this day and age, I do not see a will for people to fight to maintain the union (my hope at least), but rather a further disjointing of the giant state and a more federated, or even sovereign set of groups. This latter idea is something I think would make us all better and freer. Best of all, blood shed is not required.

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            “…but rather a further disjointing of the giant state and a more federated, or even sovereign set of groups. This latter idea is something I think would make us all better and freer…”
            that’s what i hope for , too…and Texas shouldn’t just secede, but split into at least 5 polities(too dern big)…but as Lambert always interjects into such musings, “who gets the nukes?”

            Reply
          2. Reality Bites

            If they saw that they had more in common then many of the current conflicts would not exist in the US. That coalition was broken long ago. Americans are not culturally the same as Afghans or Vietnamese. The terrain was also a big factor in both. The current urban-rural divide does have a racial element and that element would be emphasized by any breakup or civil war. That emphasis has been used to prevent coalition building and neither the TAC conservatives nor most liberals are looking to bridge that gap.

            The bigger problem with federating and breaking up the Union is that it will not divide into neat segments. You also have the problem of Balkanization. How small do you go and then there is almost always a painful migration. It likewise does not lead to better outcomes. Ask the UK how that is working. Or ask whether the former Yugoslavian states are no longer dominated by a larger and less caring entity. I see little good in such an outcome and it almost always comes with significant bloodshed.

            Reply
            1. Amfortas the hippie

              “That coalition was broken long ago.”
              i think it’s still there in the RAM…but you’d hafta kill off twitter and facebook, first.
              my ongoing feedstore symposia out here, took 20 years, and the breathless postcoital calm after it became apparent that obama wasn’t gonna take our guns, as well as the horrible clown car of gop candidates, and the prospect of the hated Hillary soon coming to get them,and the ongoing repurcussions of the Great Recession… for many of these folks to start thinking outside of team sports politics.
              since 2015, the Bern has penetrated the local hive mind…but they are mostly unaware of it.(you’re welcome)
              Former teabillies saying things about healthcare being a Right, as if it were their idea or some commonplace like the sky is blue…
              patience, and meeting people where they’re at and some reasonable, normal voiced story about a path…preferably to something they can get their heads around(New Deal was relatively easy to unearth out here, because of farming)

              Of course, all of this good will was cast into the dirt the moment the astroturfed anti lockdown protests erupted, and then all the rest of the pavlov buttons were pushed until they stuck.
              so the populace out here has retreated into camps, with a tiny but loud few…fired up and given meth by facebook wisdom and twitterverse Truth!…yelling about masks….and everyone else walking right past them, ignoring them, just hoping to get out of there before whatever the yeller does goes viral.
              with so many factions of the elite and near elite and elite-adjacent willing to go so low to troll and misinform and even industrialise the worst aspects of internet culture(troll farms?), it will be difficult to locate the commonalities that i know are there.
              FUD, plus OMGOMGOMG the black people are coming! is not conducive to serious discussions in the parking lot.

              Reply
          3. jr

            “Locales, regardless of race, creed, etc, have an incentive to defend their homes and their families. That is a stronger bond than some abstract political or social philosophy.”

            This got me thinking about my history courses on the Vietnam War and I wanted to see how the concept of “Peoples War” mapped onto the situation in the US currently. It left me with more questions than answers but I came across this interesting article I thought would be appreciated. It makes a case for the notion that Ho and Co. ran a People’s War as opposed to a traditional strategy, apparently a topic of debate.

            https://discover.wooster.edu/jgates/peoples-war-in-vietnam/

            Reply
          4. Sheldon

            So, how did the Government’s “Big Guns” work out against Cliven Bundy and his rag tag supporters?

            Just in:
            August 6, 2020

            US appeals court denies bid to resurrect Bundy standoff case
            “A U.S. appeals court refused to resurrect the criminal case against states’ rights figure Cliven Bundy and family members stemming from a 2014 armed standoff with federal agents in Nevada.”

            Sure they could have called in the military, that would have ‘won’, but there would have been a flowering of ten thousand standoffs.
            Waco; Never Again.

            Reply
        3. Polar Socialist

          I had some issues with this statement in the quatation of the article:

          Also, the urban population of the US by and large does not own arms and is less likely to have experienced military training,

          A quick check of the Internets informed me that a) gun violence is about the same in urban and rural US (it used to be heavily an urban issue) so people in the cities do have guns and b) of the Armed Forces veterans about 20 million live in urban US whereas only under 9 million live in rural US.

          Also, since cities are distribution centers and food production is labor intensive, those rural folks can’t afford to siege cities for long – somebody has to do all the that farming, ranching, slaughtering, milling etc

          Reply
          1. philnc

            Historically, cities almost always win over the countryside for the reasons you cite. That was the experience of the 1860’s US Civil War, the 1870 wars of unification and the early 20th century revolutions (both from the left and right). The cities have the productive capacity around which the supply chain is organized. They also have larger populations of skilled and unskilled workers that
            can be mobilized to protect themselves and their families. US cities are not Kabul or Saigon, and the thinly spread preppers across the rural US aren’t the Taliban or Viet Cong. This is where delusional, exceptionalist, thinking makes some dangerous to themselves and others.

            Reply
            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Historically, cities almost always win over the countryside for the reasons you cite. That was the experience of the 1860’s US Civil War,

              In 1860, the cities were manufacturing centers. That is no longer the case. It would be a hilarious irony if the deindustrialization policies elites supported simultaneously made their political bastions in the coastal cities militarily indefensible.

              Reply
              1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

                The American Gilet Jaunes could adopt this tactic. As much as they hate the urban “liberal” cities, rural populists I think would be willing to surround cities and shit them down. Without guns, of course.

                Guns are for weak people.

                Reply
        4. L

          In general I think most of the theorizing that I have read on this point is unconvincing as prediction. In most cases people seem to make some big assumptions about who will be “on their side” or even what the “sides” will really be. Until you know who is fighting whom and why you are nowhere.

          What I find more disturbing is the speed with which talk of civil rebellion, succession, and suppression, has been normalized not just as a fringe freeper activity but something that the “very serious press” takes as sound planning. This tells me that even if we are far from an actual war the groups I mentioned see it as a path forward, not a horror to be avoided through rational means. They “do not want it” but they sure seem to want it on everyone’s mind.

          What I find sad is, while some of this civil-war fantasy may be couched in honest fear and fatigue like Andrew Sullivan’s discussion of Christopher Caldwell America Needs a Miracle which included this honest but sad note:

          So much of Caldwell’s polemical history is fresh air; but the bleakness of its reactionary mood reveals how tribal Caldwell has become. He can barely eke out a few sentences reluctantly acknowledging some of the good things that the last 50 years have brought — in the lives of many women, in the prospects for African-Americans, in the dignity of homosexuals. He never acknowledges that Obama actually stood a chance of healing racial divides, if the GOP hadn’t demonized him from the start. And as an old friend of Chris’s, I know him to be a more gracious and humane person than this polemic might, at times, suggest. But that such a good man has gotten caught up in polarization and tribalism and such a brilliant man sees no hope for a peaceful resolution merely reveals how deep our problem is. (emphasis mine)

          But unlike Sullivan’s sad warning I feel that the TAC theorists and the wargamers at Brookings have no interest in bridging the divide, even if they knew how.

          Reply
        5. Lambert Strether Post author

          > the winner will be the side that gets ahold of the military largesse

          I don’t think that’s the driver. Rural America controls (can interdict) water, food, power lines, pipelines, the highway system, and numerous data centers and communications lines. If there were a war between Rural America and the Coastal Blue cities, I think Rural America would win. The ocean would beat the archipelago as it were.

          Of course, I’m positing a united rural America, and that would be unlikely to happen, at least without a period of warlordism.

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            IDK”’re food supply.
            we really don’t grow much any more, besides the corn/soy/canola/beef industrial CHOAM mess…and much of that is thoroughly in the clutches of Big Ag, who’s feudal lords are not “of the Country”. Food, in the broader sense, comes from somewhere else.
            Us country bumpkins have no leverage over the nearest megalopolis, unless it’s cutting off the deer hunting opportunities.

            instead of a rural vs urban civil war, it would be a whole lot smarter and better to move towards the city state model, with urban core surrounded by country farm in a symbiotic relationship.
            there’s been a sort of subrosa discussion about this very thing for at least 15 years—i remember a Texas Monthly article at least 10 years ago that laid out these high level discussions/chatauquas among the leadership class of places like Houston and Dallas, fed up with the idiocy of state and fed level rule making…and launching from the position of Big Cities making their own trade deals and what not. The gist was “why do we need to listen to Austin any more?…they need us more than we need them.”
            of course, as you indicate…it would take political will, and outside TINA thinking.

            Reply
    2. Carolinian

      You being the Austrians?

      The disastrous Italian campaign was the subject of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. When the Italian soldiers finally rebelled against being slaughtered on the battlefield the callous and incompetent Italian generals started shooting them themselves.

      Reply
      1. Bazarov

        “A Solider on the Southern Front” by Emilio Lussu is the best novel I’ve read about WWI. It concerns the Italian campaign.

        The novel is far ahead of its time–it’s absurdist humor predates “Catch-22” by 23 years.

        Reply
      2. Wukchumni

        You being the Austrians?

        I’ll be hiding in the back of beyond somewhere if festivities were to make a foray into the forest, and keep in mind i’ve had all of my life to learn the lay of the land so as to know it like the back of my hand…

        Reply
    3. a different chris

      >“Letter From An Angry Middle-American Vet”

      The conceit that “rural Amerricuns” will somehow obviously prevail in some right-winger wetdream of combat is just pathetic.

      He is badly misjudging, or maybe so stupid he can’t get his brain around the number, the cash on hand, the infrastructure, and what happens to people when their backs are against the wall.

      I can’t take seriously somebody who thinks urban areas will be “isolated” — have they never been to an airport? Give me a break. West Berlin survived against a much more capable enemy than a bunch of deer-hunters.

      Of course that doesn’t mean I don’t think it will be anything but an angry, destructive stalemate. We would get to see Afghanistan on our front doorsteps. Maybe we deserve it. Or maybe it will be the Civil War all over again, with the urban areas eventually crushing the exurban.

      But no way the opposite happens.

      Reply
      1. Daryl

        This whole country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end … You people speak so lightly of war; you don’t know what you’re talking about.

        – William T. Sherman, December 24, 1860.

        Reply
      2. Anarcissie

        One of the things that surprised me about TAC was that, with numerous military people apparently contributing, the difficulties of organizing a actual war in the United States were not mentioned. ‘X people with guns’ are not a modern army; a modern army has organization, mobility, communications, a chain of command, and logistics, all highly developed. There is no force in the United States, urban or rural, Left or Right, which can oppose Federal troops for more than a few hours — maybe a few minutes would be more like it. Even if they could, there is no way they could be supplied and supported, which would become a critical problem after the first day or two of hostilities.

        In the matter of gun ownership, I have pointed out to numerous conservatives that in Amercan, everyone has or can get guns, even liberals. But in any case, guns in the hands of unorganized, untrained duffers and weekend warriors are not going to be effective no matter what their ideology is.

        Reply
    4. BillS

      My feeling is few present day Americans would be capable of or even desire to wage mountain warfare like the Italians, Austrians and Germans did in the Dolomites. Killing each other with bludgeons and shotguns, snipers on adjacent peaks, light artillery and explosive mines triggering avalanches. Can you imagine all those obese gun nuts trudging up hundreds or thousands of meters of altitude gain with packs weighing more than 50-60 kg..pulling their 75mm mountain guns and ammo uphill? No. It would be a lowland fight, if you ask me. And I doubt (hope) that it’ll ever happen. Civil war is hard work. It’s far easier to spew invective on Twitter and Facebook.

      My wife’s grandfather fought in 1915-18 in the area of the Tofane near Cortina D’Ampezzo. She says he never talked about it but felt lucky to have survived.

      Reply
  3. Jason Boxman

    I wonder if that was a forced roll into a forbearance? Back when I graduated, I was given an automatic deferment, even though I could immediately begin payments, during which time (cha-ching) I continued to accrue interest. I called the servicer (which by happenstance was Fed Loan Serving, which everyone has a horror story about including myself) and was told that there was no way to exit the deferment, but I could happily make payments manually if I so chose.

    Huh?

    Reply
    1. TMoney

      Old girlfriend had the same thing. It didn’t click at first (I wasn’t cynical enough in those days), but as I understood it, the deferred interest is Capitalized when repayment begins properly. You pay interest and then pay interest on the interest.

      Cha-Ching. This, as they say in these parts is a feature not a bug.

      Reply
      1. Jason Boxman

        Oh, yeah, I forgot that unconscionable part. And it has nothing to do even with the deferral. ALL the interest is added to the loan.

        You better believe when I learned this, I made a huge interest payment before hand. I actually played the cash-advance refund game to get the money into a bank account, and then used a 0% APR interest balance transfer to handle it. I also fully financed a car, for some extra cash, and used some of that at 2% for the interest as well.

        Not an approach I would advise anyone to take, but it dealt with the immediate issue.

        What a broken country.

        Reply
  4. SerenityNow

    For anyone interested in housing, vested class interests, and how the actions of “liberal” heroes can line up with their actions on the ground, there is an interesting discussion on twitter recently about Richard Reich opposing new housing because of “neighborhood character”. The term neighborhood character is usually undefinable, yet unassailable when it comes to preserving the power of incumbent property owners.

    Reply
      1. hunkerdown

        Then y’all had better stay short of the third stage and let the people choose their own form of self-government, and admit that authoritarians have fully earned the right to be voted off the island, if only for this latest of uncountable acts of false witness. Just a thought.

        Reply
  5. a different chris

    >At least 17 of the 24 billionaire donors to the RNC legal fund are among the top 400 wealthiest American households

    I’m am not sure there were any billionaires, and I’m speaking inflation adjusted, when I grew up in the 60’s.

    Now there are so many that at least 7 can’t make the 400 wealthiest households? This is insane. And this disease won’t go away until the country itself breaks down, and the chances of it (billionaires running our lives) getting worse with said breakdown are significantly greater than the chances of it getting better.

    Infinitely depressing. We got out of the Gilded Age by blowing up pretty much everything in the western world and a good chunk of the East, too and I don’t see how anything less will work.

    Reply
    1. TMoney

      Billionaire – An American title equivalent to a British “Lord”. It entitles one to “Free” Speech via the indirect purchase of a member of Congress.

      The British Aristocracy is more impoverished, but hardly suffering.

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      For other countries, the term billionaires is not used but the term oligarchs is used instead, especially in the description of rich people in Russia. Really the same thing. But it would jar people if you described people like Gates and Bezos and Zuckerberg as oligarchs no matter how accurate that would be.

      Reply
      1. Late Introvert

        Oligarch is not in common use in the US, I think because it’s clunky in English. Do the UK or other English speakers use it at all?

        I like Banksters but we do need one that would cover Bezos too.

        Reply
  6. Knifecatcher

    Sorry, still not getting in a car with Biden driving. I don’t doubt that he can do a short stint behind the wheel via muscle memory but anything requiring higher level decision making is gonna be a problem for him.

    Reply
    1. anon

      So Biden owns a vintage car that is worth more than most people make in a year…Public service is nice work if you can get it.

      Reply
    2. drexciya

      This reminds me of someone at the chess club with advanced dementia. He used to be a pretty strong player. We had someone pick him up, and get him to the chess club. He could still play pretty well from time to time, although he would have forgotten all about it after the game.

      Reply
    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > muscle memory

      That’s a very good point. A Corvette would be the (fetishized, cathected) object guaranteed to stimulate Biden’s failing brain to the maximum extent possible; better than any drug.* I remember a story, I think from Oliver Sachs, about a surgeon who suffered terrible brain damage and was hardly able to function, but who tied perfect surgical knots when presented with surgical thread.

      NOTE * Yes, I realize I’m going armchair diagnosis, which I would not do.

      Reply
      1. Dirk77

        My father always had a good sense of humor. He had dementia for the last two years of his life, the last one not being able to recognize anyone except my mom. Yet, the last time I saw him, three months before he died, he made a joke at my expense.

        Reply
        1. HotFlash

          My BFF is not quite so far gone as your dad (yet). She can’t remember how to put on her pants (well she knows how, ie, can do it, but she doesn’t remember that she know how). Makes good jokes though, and is generally cheerful. Good appetite, too, but can’t remember which food it is and often asks, “Do I like that?”

          She still plays a mean videogame, for all she forgets to pick up the loot.

          Reply
  7. Amfortas the hippie

    Kinnucan, in the plantidote:
    Millet is a great cover crop…but yes, it can be like kudzu if allowed to get out of hand.
    I use that and hairy vetch for overwintering…and on into summer in a bed i want to beef up, during normal times.
    till or chop the combo in before it goes to seed…or turn the chickens and geese onto it.. chokes out weeds, and provides abundant green manure and/or compost fodder.
    but it will choke out one’s peppers and tomatoes, too.
    I find that my carrots, beets and radishes do much better here in hot as hell central texas, if grown under a mat of millet and vetch: cools the ground, and the plant parts shoot up through the mat.
    late june-july-august and september, I’ll plant buckwheat in whatever bare or empty spot appear in the beds….like when the spinach or whatever peters out due to the heat.
    it likes the heat, and makes a neat flour(gluten-free) for pancakes(i mix it with mesquite bean flour for this) but its a pain to harvest by hand.
    produces a lot of green manure/compost fodder, too…and reseeding is not as bad as vetch and millet.

    Reply
      1. Lamar Ovray

        We call it velcro weed. Raises welts. It’s an official Noxious Weed in NorCal. I’ve worked hard to eradicate it. The star thistle is still winning.

        Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > .I find that my carrots, beets and radishes do much better here in hot as hell central texas, if grown under a mat of millet and vetch: cools the ground, and the plant parts shoot up through the mat.

      That is a super-interesting technique (and I would bet of of wide applicability on a warming planet). A living mulch, as it were.

      I would imagine that moisture is preserved as well?

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        yes. but the main thing is protection from the heat.
        I still have—in August!—carrots and radishes out there, waiting to be picked.
        given that they’re probably rather wood-like,lol….but still…prior to accidentally developing this technique, i could only grow such things in winter into early spring…running out with cloches every time a freeze threatened.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloche_(agriculture))

        out here, when the seed packet says “full sun”, that means “under the pecan tree”.

        Reply
  8. PhillyPhilly

    I ran across this article yesterday about the growing share of direct currency trade between China and Russia. Their growing financial alliance is expected to lead to alliances in other areas as well.

    Of course, the dollar has a long way to go as the global reserve currency, but it is interesting to see a few minor cracks in the façade.

    Reply
  9. TB

    Did I miss the discussion of the Tish James dissolve-the-NRA thing? I was wondering what people here would think about it. It seems to me much more likely to help the Republicans than anything else, but what do I know.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      “…much more likely to help the Republicans…”
      yeah. I haven’t delved into it, yet, but that was my first inclination upon noticing the various relevant headlines.
      it’s gonna provide the red meat of victimhood to the right’s feral hog brigade. The facts of the case—wayne pierre, et alia are a bunch of grifters and crooks—won’t matter one bit.

      Reply
    2. pjay

      Of course it is! Yes, the NRA is a scam that theoretically deserves anything that comes out of this. But gosh, do you think a NY AG — oh, and she happens to be an African American woman — legally threatening the NRA a few months before the election could *possibly help stir up Trump’s base*?? God, what are these people thinking? Don’t they realize stunts like this help Trump? Have they learned nothing from 2016?

      Reply
      1. Sheldon

        Gun Owners of America is a much more grass roots organization protecting your civil rights, which you can choose to use, or not. That’s up to you. GunOwners.org

        Reply
      2. a different chris

        >God, what are these people thinking?

        Maybe that you do what’s right and don’t try to game out politics with everything? Exactly what the normal Dems (cough Pelosi cough) *don’t* think and why they get nowhere except when people are mad at Republicans and just want to throw them out (for a cycle).

        Reply
        1. pjay

          To be clear, are you suggesting that this is just a case of a public servant trying to “do what’s right”?

          Reply
    3. edmondo

      It seems to me much more likely to help the Republicans

      The most likely beneficiary is Tish James. Cuomo can’t live forever and an African-American female would be a shoo-in.

      Reply
    4. a different chris

      > It seems to me much more likely to help the Republicans than anything else, but what do I know.

      The “what do I know” is pretty much applicable to everything and all of us in this weird, weird year.

      I dunno, rather than get the yokels fired up – and again, Trump’s base can only vote once, they are the type that *does* show up to vote unlike the hipsters, which makes a lot of this a big so-what – but maybe it could make take a closer look at the weirdos that run the NRA.

      I’m not a gunner, but I suspect there are good reasons the Gun Owners Of America exist beyond some “the NRA isn’t radical enough” reasons, which sounds more like something the PMC just came up with.

      Reply
  10. Dr. John Carpenter

    Here’s hoping Bradshaw (and Bush) are more like Stokely than John Lewis.

    100%. I’m hesitant to get too excited yet, but both seem to be a needed bit of good news.

    Reply
  11. Pelham

    Re Biden’s foreign policy team: I’m glad the opponents are using the term “horror show” to describe these characters. You wouldn’t want to overdo it, but this kind of strong, graphic language is what’s needed to possibly move the needle. Expressing disappointment or displeasure in a comradely way definitely wouldn’t cut it.

    Reply
    1. Jason Boxman

      Right now I’m reading Duel, Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Future of America. The newspaper editorials and pamphlets in those didn’t didn’t mince any words. I’d say horror show doesn’t scratch the surface of the kind of scathing commentary regularly unleashed in the service of political patrons.

      I’d rather we return to that era where the news was overtly biased; at least it’s honest. Today, we have the canard of journalistic objectivity which is anything but. Unfortunately with the ruination of local and regional newspapers, there isn’t much left outside of a few national papers.

      I do wonder if we brought back duels, what might become of our political class. Would hilarity ensue?

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I do wonder if we brought back duels, what might become of our political class.

        I don’t think we can. IIRC, duels were fought to settle points of honor, a concept foreign to our political class today.

        Reply
    2. pjay

      I don’t think it’s possible to “overdo it” in this case – though I doubt any level of graphic language will do any good.

      The last paragraph of the article expresses the Establishment view of this crew very well:

      “Rice, Blinken and Haines “are perhaps the smartest, most dedicated and principled people I have ever met,” [former Biden aide Jon] Wolfsthal, who is now with the anti-nuclear weapons group Global Zero, wrote on Twitter. I would trust no one to more honestly and doggedly guide American foreign policy. Should they have the chance to serve, we will all be better off.”

      “Smart”! I’m starting to have a knee-jerk reaction whenever I seen that term applied to Democratic advisors of any kind. Rice is the Queen of “humanitarian intervention,” but as the other HuffPo article shows, her views on the subject seem to depend on whom she is serving.

      Reply
  12. Martin Oline

    I was watching a news segment yesterday with the mute on and Pelosi and Schumer were tag-teaming the press. I watched for a while (captions were on) and thought she seemed familiar somehow. Then I realized that she looks and acts like Fireman Bill, the character that Jim Carey played on the old In Living Color show. If I had the software I would try to sync a clip of her speaking with the audio of Fireman Bill’s routine. Getting old is a family blog.

    Reply
  13. polar donkey

    There was a good possibility that Marquita Bradshaw won because she was the first name on the Senate ballot. I asked my activis friend here in Memphis about Bradshaw. He wasn’t aware she was running till he saw her name on ballot. Said she had talked about running in summer of 2019. She raised $10,000 total. The idiot meckler raised $2 million. He never ran a single tv ad in Memphis. Almost no one knew any of these candidates. Can’t win if you don’t ask voters to vote for you. No one should ever hire a dnc consultant. Meckler was holding his money for the general election. Hahahaha. He came in 3rd in his own county.

    Reply
  14. epynonymous

    Somebody should ask Joe Biden his opinion on Tricare copays. (military, etc. medical insurance)

    If he’s for them, then he’s supporting Dick Cheney’s personal cash cow.

    Cocaine to follow.

    Reply
    1. Sheldon

      Don’t forget Tricare’s notice requirements. You have to give them notice a year in advance if someone goes on Medicare, or gets other insurance carrier.
      Otherwise you have to keep on paying them, even if the coveree has other insurance. “You didn’t read the fine print” is the response of the medical parasite corporation.

      Reply
      1. epynonymous

        https://www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/school-shootings-of-2019-behind-the-numbers.html

        “In 2019, eight people were killed and 43 were injured in 25 shooting incidents that occurred on school grounds or during school-sponsored events, according to Education Week’s school shooting tracker.”

        Now, same source says 35 were killed in 2018. Anyone care to guess how many kids will be killed by reopening schools? Lotta good those metal detectors will do…

        Reply
  15. DJG

    Will Bunch column on the several causes of the current U.S. catastrophe. Philly Inqy.

    I’m not sure that we are seeing a change in the zeitgeist just yet, but I am seeing some green shoots. Also, I don’t think this is one of those “when you’ve lost Will Bunch” moments. Naked Capitalism posts Bunch quite often, and I read him when the links are here. He has been moving in this direction for months. Bunch has a moral compass, unlike much of the U.S. population, which is lost in eternal High School.

    I suggest passing the column along to one’s liberal (RussiaRussia, Trump is a unique evil, the market will correct, get a job) friends as well as one’s friends who are rightwing Republicans who are constantly worried about the evils of unions, the pettiness of regulation, the laxity of the workplace, and, tell me now, what do those darn black people want?

    Those of us on the left will grok Bunch’s column right away. As will those beleaguered paleos at The American Conservative. (Are Naked Capitalism groundlings TAC’s only readers these days?)

    Now to get that supposedly all-so-stable and so-so-sensible “middle” 70 percent to awaken from its torpor.

    Reply
    1. Late Introvert

      (Are Naked Capitalism groundlings TAC’s only readers these days?)

      I suspect they are even catering to us, not realizing how often the smirk and even schadenfreude is their reward. You don’t say. After all this time. And what is your solution? Oh.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Are Naked Capitalism groundlings TAC’s only readers these days

        Nope.

        (I should say that editor Dreher has plenty of opinions I do not find in the least congenial. That doesn’t make him a bad editor. I loathe David Frum with every fibre of my being, and the Atlantic has plenty of material worth reading.)

        Reply
  16. Pat

    A few random comments.

    A friend and I had a moment of rueful humor when trying to imagine either Joe Biden or Donald Trump making it through a session of Prime Minister’s questions. I think we can now safely add Nancy Pelosi to the list of those unable to deal with anything but softballs. Mind you I don’t know that any Of hardly politician who could.

    And I am now playing the worlds smallest violin for Michelle Obama. She can complain or pose when she has to worry about possible eviction because she has had little or no income for months, or a good twenty or thirty real problems I can think of with no effort. In the meanwhile No matter what her faux reason is, or the even the probable real reason that her glamorous life and shopping got interrupted, she can pull up her big girl pants and quarantine herself and her piece of cr*p husband in a garden far far away from everyone else, even virtually, for the better mental health of everyone else.

    Reply
    1. Darius

      This should be nothing that can’t be solved with some empty gestures and virtue signaling. The Obamas can do that in their sleep by now.

      Reply
  17. Sheldon

    “The LED light emitted from most screens exposes your eyes to high levels of ‘blue light,’ which can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to “computer vision syndrome.’…”

    On newer Mac computers there is something called “nightshift”, which can be programmed to add orange light to your screen during any period you choose.
    Go to the Apple logo, top left of screen.
    Click ‘System Preferences’
    Click ‘Displays’
    You’ll see “Display- Color- Night Shift” at top of the window
    If it’s not there, your operating system is too old.

    Click Night Shift
    Choose your no blue light hours. It’s impossible to turn blue light off, so make it an hour in the middle of the night when you are asleep. All other times will have the orange tint, which you can adjust.

    Reply
    1. Procopius

      For PCs there’s f.lux. I use it but don’t see that it made any difference in my sleep patterns. I find occasional supplemental melatonin works wonders. Sometimes I sleep five hours straight now.

      Reply
  18. edmondo

    It’s amusing to see all the Democrat VP candidates deploying oppo against each other.

    Uncle Joe might want to re-think his choice here. If he’s thinking long-term, he better pick the one with the worst oppo team, because he’s probably next on the list for the treatment. I wonder which one (ones?) have the best pictures of Hunter in Coke Land. House of Cards is starting to look like a documentary.

    Reply
  19. Jessica

    What is the significance of the distinction between African-Americans descended from those enslaved in America and African-Americans descended from those enslaved in the West Indies?
    There seems to be an implication that those from the West Indies had it easier. If so, the difference can’t be slavery – which was as least as brutal in the West Indies as the worst in the US (Deep South, South Carolina). It must be the post-emancipation treatment of African-Americans, which in the US is certainly vicious enough. (I don’t know about that period in the West Indies.) Or perhaps those African-Americans in the US who originate from the West Indies are not a representative cross-section, but are disproportionately from among those who were better off in recent years in the West Indies?

    Reply
    1. Martin Oline

      I would suggest you read All Souls Rising by Mathew Bell Smartt (part 1 of 3 books) if you desire some insight into the Haitian revolution at the eve of the nineteenth century. It is not for the faint of heart. Haiti was free, for better or worse, for 60 years before slaves in North America. They found they also had to kill the mulattoes before they could be free.

      Reply
  20. pjay

    Re: “Chloroquine and COVID-19: A western medical and scientific drift?” (letter) [European Journal of Internal Medicine (Detroit Dan)

    This whole hydroxychloroquine debate is really disturbing to me.

    First, commenter SD posted a strong rebuttal by a long list of Yale faculty to Yale epidemiologist Harvey Risch’s support for HCQ (posted on NC last week) in today’s links. SInce no one commented on it, I’d like to repost it here (with thanks to SD):

    https://medium.com/@gregggonsalves/statement-from-yale-faculty-on-hydroxychloroquine-and-its-use-in-covid-19-47d0dee7b2b0

    Now even for someone like me who has some experience in academia, this is a daunting statement, given the signees. I certainly have no expertise in this area. But I have kept up with the research as best I can, and something sure *feels* weird about this debate. Here is something to chew on for those who are not quite convinced yet that HCQ is worthless:

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2020/08/04/an_effective_covid_treatment_the_media_continues_to_besmirch_143875.html

    The degree to which it is difficult to get accurate information about *anything* these days continues to amaze (and depress) me.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘…something sure *feels* weird about this debate.’

      Damn right. So a drug that is as cheap as chips and that has been in use for seventy-odd years with god know how many hundreds of millions of doses given is now suddenly regarded of “dangerous”. And I believe that a study was done years ago showing no direct deaths caused by this drug in all that time. So let’s forget that those countries that are using this drug presently have a far easier time dealing with this virus versus those that try to stop people using it. Instead, we are told that a drug that costs a dollar to manufacture but that will be sold for $2,000-$3,0000 per person is the answer to all our problems. Yes, very weird indeed.

      Reply
    2. JTMcPhee

      William Casey, CIA director, put it this way: “We will know our program of disinformation is complete when nothing the American public believes is true.” The tools of deception: fear, uncertainty and doubt, beating all of us over the head every moment of every day.

      Operation Mockingbird, the Cultural Cold War, all of it. Only way to escape it is to tune out, unless you are morally armed and fire walled like amfortas…

      Reply
  21. Jessica

    About the decision by the US to drop two A-bombs on Japanese cities, I do not believe that it is true that the Japanese had so clearly been trying to surrender and that the US leadership had to know this.
    Certainly there were powerful elements in the Japanese government who wanted Japan to surrender. There were also powerful elements in the Japanese government who had not wanted to launch the Pearl Harbor attack and start the war against the Western powers who had colonies in eastern Asia in the first place. The history of Japan from the late 20s onward has many examples of a peace faction being overruled by the more aggressive faction, often by the simple expedient of assassinating the peace faction leader. Even after the two nuclear attacks, one faction of the Imperial Japanese military attempted a coup to try to block the surrender.
    I also do not think that a surrender conditional on sparing the emperor would have been easy. One of the aspects of WW2 most often left out of history books is how much both the West and the Soviets played “let’s you and him (the Nazis) fight” with each other. This is the true story behind Munich and the much better understood Soviet counter-move in the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, which in fact did keep the Soviet Union out of the war until June 1941. We may have forgotten this (well, have been encouraged to forget it), but the leaders in 1944 and 1945 were all well aware of it. Mutual suspicion between the Soviets and Americans held both back from a conditional Japanese surrender.
    Looking more broadly, the data that anyone examining this question back then would have had included the Nazi regime fighting to the last square mile in Berlin rather than surrender and the much stronger resistance that the Imperial Japanese military itself put up in Okinawa, including the (often coerced) suicide of over 100,000 Okinawan civilians.
    Knowing what we know now, I think the decision to use nuclear weapons was an evil one. I hope that if I had been in that position back then, I would have understood that even then. I doubt that if we had had a President Wallace, that he would have dropped the bomb. At a minimum, he would have waited until the Soviets entered the war, a date that was known in the West from the day in May that the Nazis surrendered.
    As tragic as the A-bomb attacks were, and we should also remember the tens of thousands of kidnapped Korean workers who also died in the attacks, I strongly suspect that if nuclear weapons had not been used at the very tail end of that war, they would have been used in a later war, very likely with consequences unimaginably more severe.
    Of course, that doesn’t get anyone off the hook for the actual 1945 attacks.

    Reply
    1. Jason Boxman

      Even knowing what we knew then, the Japanese had no further operational capacity. For example, based on Danger’s Hour, we know that the Japanese literally had no fuel for proper training of their air corps. It simply was no longer possible in 1945. The pilots they trained were essentially for suicide missions only, period.

      For what reason was it necessary to ever invade Japan?

      Reply
  22. VietnamVet

    The coronavirus pandemic highlights how multinational monopolies dismantled democracy and extractive privatized healthcare in the USA was established to make the rich richer. At the same time, corporate media ignores or denigrates alternative economic systems and non-patentable treatments that would have negative impact on their quarterly profits. Hydroxychloroquine + Zinc is an example.

    This new world order was the outcome of the Reagan/Thatcher counter revolt that ended democracy and privatized public services. Restoration of the national public health system and empowering Americans with daily paper antigen tests, who agree to stay home if positive and receive healthcare, would end the pandemic this year with no need for a for-profit vaccine next year. If the coronavirus vaccines are another failure like HIV, the virus could become endemic and kill 300,000 or more Americans a year.

    The Western Empire has fallen. The next American Civil War will not be Union verses Confederate Armies. It will be city verses urban, north verses south, heartland verses the coasts. Control of nuclear weapons will determine the number and location of the new states. The Pentagon will try to keep control, but disgruntled evangelical officers at missile launch bases in North Dakota likely will found “Gilead”. North American will become a nuclear armed Lebanon. This would be avoided if government by and for the people is restored.

    Reply
  23. Synoia

    A man with Covid-19 went to church in mid-June, then 91 other people got sick, including 53 who were at the service, according to Ohio’s governor.

    Obviously Will of God. Noting to see here. /s

    Reply
    1. Late Introvert

      Even I can’t be sarcastic about this one. And I’m the King of That.

      All those family members and then their friends and then their family members. How hard is that for people to see?

      Like Rabbits. The invisible airborne virus puts all your friends and family at risk of exponential reproduction.

      Reply
  24. stefan

    I’d like to hear a conversation between Adam Tooze and Nathan Tankus, to see if the have any points of disagreement.

    Reply
  25. The Rev Kev

    ‘Not many, and Yves was on the Upper East Side. Still, one can’t help thinking this is one more reason she got out just in time… ‘

    I bet that there are a lot of people here that have wondered how it would have been if Yves had not serendipitously made the move south but had stayed in New York instead.

    Reply
  26. Jeremy Grimm

    A Historian of Economic Crisis on the World After COVID-19 —

    I believe Adam Tooze’s statements in the interview paint an unhappy picture of the US on the horns of a dilemma.
    “I do think that the American project, the American experiment, is on the rack right now. We don’t know how things are going to go in the next 90 days.”
    [This is a reference to the electorial process and whether the US can govern itself.]
    “Or that the decision [Presidential Election] will fall in favor of the candidate and party that has demonstrated its incapacity to govern — and has in fact demonstrated its capacity to drive this country to ever-greater degrees of ungovernability.”
    — But Biden is the only choice on the docket other than the candidate and party incapable of governing.

    In statements in response to another question above these concerns about the American election Tooze states:
    “With regard to China right now, there is a remarkable discrepancy between the corporate planning of the companies that dominate the S&P 500 and the American security Establishment.”
    and
    “There was a moment — and it didn’t happen under Trump; it happened when Hillary Clinton was secretary of State — when that part of the American government machine that thinks in terms of F-35s and atomic weapons and nuclear fleets shifted its focus toward China. And that constitutes a source of conflict that is not reducible to economics.”

    Piecing this analysis together the US faces a choice between complete incompetence and ‘competence’ [at least on the part of the cabinet and appointment candidates riding the Biden zombie] that’s proven competent of wonders like the F-35, ratcheting up the Nuclear Threat, and the “Pivot To Asia “. And to top this off there is the question:
    “… whether progressive forces can assemble the coalition necessary for turning the United States into a cooperative actor in managing the risks of the Anthropocene. Which it currently is not.”
    I am not sure what progressive forces there might be that will and can step forward to twist the Biden ensemble or Trump to become a “cooperative actor”.

    And ‘fun’-fact that missed making any other news I’ve seen:
    “They[South Africa] started the year with a 30 percent unemployment rate. They think they will have a 50 percent unemployment rate in the townships by the end of the year.”

    Reply
  27. Wukchumni

    Had our family Zoom session and the virus is closing in on us, my brother-in-law’s sister in Florida has contracted the virus and is struggling mightily.

    Reply
  28. Angie Neer

    “Officer-involved shooting” still gets used from time to time in my local paper, the Seattle Times, and every time I see it I write them a letter. To be fair, its appearances are now rare. I’m hopeful that they understand the problem. There was a case in January in which it was rather obvious the article was a paraphrase of a press release from the police department, retaining some of the passive and obfuscatory language. It’s too bad they’re so short-staffed that that would happen at all, but later articles about the same incident were more straightforward and objective.

    Reply
  29. Pat

    That NYC blackout story is from 2019. So this was just one of our usual the load of air conditioning takes out part of the system and starts a whole chain of failures. It was a bigger story because DiBlasio was still running for President and campaigning out of town for the six hour outage.

    The bigger power outage story currently is that power was out for large swaths of Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island and more from Isaias for days. We may not have gotten a direct hit, but the rains and high winds took down so many trees, branches and power lines that none of the areas utilities could keep up. Connecticut was still clearing roads of downed trees 36 hours after the storm, which had to be done for their power companies to get started in some areas.

    Reply
  30. Richard H Caldwell

    RE: Will Bunch piece issues raised
    I think of Biden as our Herbert Hoover. History seems to be hard for people to remember accurately; many seem to think FDR arrived in office immediately on the heels of the 1929 market crash. No; it took four years of ineffectual blood-letting policies and deepening crisis to set up the context in which FDR was elected. And to provide the political capital to implement policies to address the core issues.

    Our Democrat betters will hang on to elite privilege for as long as they can. Neoliberalism will continue under Biden and the current Democrat leadership cadre. More blood-letting horrors await (USPS looting, Medicare decimation, Social Security cheese-paring, etc.). 2021 is not our 1933. We have a long, discouraging, disheartening, and exhausting slide toward the abyss to endure before the pain of regular citizens becomes so acute that they insist on change.

    Settle for Biden over Trump? Of course. Expect miracles as a result? Of course not…

    Reply
    1. Hepativore

      Biden and whomever takes his place will anchor down neoliberalism until at least 2028. The Democratic party will not allow a primary challenger to Biden in 2024, and he certainly is not going to handle the pandemic any better than Trump has been doing. You will likely see Biden doing a hand-off to Kamala Harris or whomever horrible neoliberal he chooses for his vice presidential pick to set them up for 2028. I mean, he wants to put Larry Summers in his cabinet, of all people!

      As terrible as Trump is, it is like ripping the bandaid off in four years as opposed to languishing for eight years under Biden and his surrogates. The fact that you have W. Bush alumni greenlighting the Democratic party presidential candidate should give you a clue as to what is going to happen under Biden. It is amazing on how everybody decries Trump as being the worst president in US history while completely forgetting how rule of law was routinely trampled by the W. Bush administration, yet now W. Bush is a hero to liberal elites.

      Reply
  31. Susan Mulloy

    On music: Thank the Lord for YouTube. So many beautiful types of music are available for free. I have discovered opera in my old age. I could listen to Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni over and over again. It’s interesting how different voices singing different words in different melodies can work beautifully together. Try it:
    https://youtu.be/3e3xxNY6KXA

    Reply

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