Links 8/11/2020

We Leave the Milkweed Standing as a Monument to a Vanishing World Esquire (Re Silc).

Speculation & Innovation Investor Amnesia

Banks braced as pandemic poses biggest test since financial crisis (free) FT

Amazon Is a Private Government. Congress Needs to Step Up. The Atlantic

When Will Consumers Feel Safe? Weekly Updates on Consumers’ Comfort Level With Various Pastimes Morning Consult. “Comfort levels stagnate for seventh week in a row.” The dogs won’t eat the dog food.

Mauritius Races To Contain Oil Spill, Protect Coastline Associated Press


Global coronavirus cases top 20 million, doubling in 45 days Los Angeles Times

Estimation of SARS-CoV-2 mortality during the early stages of an epidemic: A modeling study in Hubei, China, and six regions in Europe PLOS Medicine

Smash Mouth spark uproar after performing to packed, mask-less crowd at Sturgis Biker Rally Independent

Industry Body Calls Russian Covid-19 Vaccine a Pandora’s Box Bloomberg

Bill Gates on COVID-19: Most US tests are “completely garbage” Ars Technica

Vaccine matters: Can we cure coronavirus? Science. Webinar, August 12 (tomorrow).

How China Controlled the Coronavirus The New Yorker

A National Lockdown Could Be The Economy’s Best Hope, Says Minneapolis Fed President NPR

The right way to restructure after Covid FT


Hong Kong Media Tycoon Arrested in Blow to Democracy Camp Bloomberg

Govt urged to provide shelter for domestic helpers RTHK

China’s military takes centre stage in Covid-19 vaccine race FT

The Koreas

US explores option of establishing liaison office in N. Korea, Kyodo News reports Hankyoreh


A Desperate Lebanon May Find a Savior in Beijing Haaretz

Why Beirut’s ammonium nitrate blast was so devastating Nature


Germany closes two schools due to fresh coronavirus outbreaks Deutsche Welle

Euro Renaissance Emerges From an EU Deal That Changed Everything Bloomberg

Britain doesn’t have a government, it has a permanent campaigning machine Guardian


Can Johnson avoid a no-deal Brexit? The Parliament Magazine

How likely are the ‘big four’ European economies to vote to leave the EU if Brexit works out? EuroNews

New Cold War

Power Politics Makes the World More Predictable Valdai Discussion Club. Read all the way to the end.

Why Russia Likes to Play Aerial ‘Chicken’ with America The National Interest


Ex-Colleagues See Durham Dropping Bombshells Before Labor Day Real Clear Investigation

Trump Transition

These Executive Orders Make No Sense Benjamin Studebaker

What’s wrong with the mail Recode. Good reporting on the details of the USPS’s current plight, but seriously under-emphasizes the initial, and bipartisan, act of sabotage: The unique requirement for prefunding pensions, without which the USPS would be profitable (assuming that’s important).

QAnon groups have millions of members on Facebook, documents show NBC (Furzy Mouse).


On Climate Policy, Biden’s Advisers Reveal More Than His Proposals Do The Intercept

Big Tech Makes Inroads With the Biden Campaign NYT

Young Black Americans not sold on Biden, the Democrats or voting The Conversation

Biden’s Ukrainegate Problem Counterpunch. I’m not sure there is a problem. Hunter seems to have been issued a pass.

What if they tie? A nightmare election scenario for November 2020 National Review. From July, still germane.

American Girl Dolls Attend Mandatory Diversity Training Academy of American Poets

Democrats in Disarray

The New Puritans Matt Taibbi

What Should the Left Do With Alex Morse? Ross Barkan, Political Currents

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Police Are Monitoring Black Lives Matter Protests With Ring Doorbell Data and Drones Newsweek

How Malicious Tor Relays are Exploiting Users in 2020 (Part I) Medium

Health Care

The physician as a neoliberal subject – A qualitative study within a private-public mix setting Social Science & Medicine

Severely Injured Woman Heroically Fights Off Paramedics Trying To Force Her Into Medical Debt The Onion

How Lessons from Global Health Can Improve Health And The Response To COVID-19 In The US Health Affairss

Sports Desk

Fencing: The Perfect COVID-19 Sport The Laughing Squid (Re Silc).

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Black Lives Matter protest: ‘We don’t need police. We need care.’ Chicago Tribune (RM).

Sugar Craig Murray

Imperial Collapse Watch

Army Secretary: Fort Hood Has High Rates of Murder, Assault NBC5 (Dallas-Fort Worth)

Europe watches in alarm as U.S. tops 5 million COVID-19 cases NBC

Canada to U.S. Visitors: Please Don’t Sneak Across the Border NYT

Could We Force the Universe to Crash? Scientific American

Mystery Solved: Bright Areas on Ceres Come From Salty Water Below NASA

Contrafreeloading and Cats Egghead (dk).

Antidote du Jour (dk):

dk writes: “After 12 hours this adorable little ham only has 434 likes and 62 retweets, maybe NC could give her/him a boost?”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


      1. a different chris

        I guess “this is how we end deforestation…” is a catchy title.

        Read the whole thing, though, and all you get is despair and a feeling of hopelessness.

        1. O Society

          I read it. Considering we learned about global warming (it was called the greenhouse effect in those days) when I was a kid in school decades ago and the trajectory only gets worse as days go by, perhaps despair is the correct feeling to have. Here’s the warning in 1958:

          In the end, we learn technological optimism is delusional.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            This is the way the world ends, not with a bang or a whimper, but a hisssssss of sssssteam esssscaping.

          2. mary jensen

            With egoism, ignorance, irrespect, money, illegal trafficking, photographs, endless warnings, bangs, whimpers, pandemics but in the end: silence.

            «La mort c’est rouge. Et puis c’est bleu… Et puis c’est froid. Et par-dessus tout ça devient un silence….! Silence …Au debut, vous entendez comme le bruit d’un ruisseau… les derniers souffles des camarades, les gémissements, vous en avez qui pleurent, oui, oui. Les os craquent, le grincement des dents … Seigneur!»


            Death by predation is always the same death.

  1. John A

    Re Why Russia Likes to Play Aerial ‘Chicken’ with America
    This is the most absurd headline and totally clickbaitingly unrelated to the article itself. US and some NATO surveillance and other aircraft have been flying in the Black Sea and Baltic Sea close to the Russian border. The article even says most of the blame resides with the US in its provocative behaviour as neither Sea is anywhere near the US. But as that famous map asks, why did Russia put its borders close to so many US bases?

    1. Olga

      I agree! Talk about clickbait!
      This is at the end of the article – kinda ambiguous, but can also be read as negating the headline:
      “Officials authorizing the provocative spy plane flights along Russia’s borders are playing a game of international chicken. And as the outcomes of games of chicken using automobiles have shown far too often, they can end tragically. Responsible military and civilian officials should not behave in such a juvenile fashion.”
      In the middle, it says the following:
      “Granted, Russian aircraft have sometimes conducted provocative aerial approaches to U.S. territory, especially near Alaska, and the frequency of that behavior seems to be growing. Nevertheless, the number of such incidents is dwarfed by the surging U.S. military presence along Russia’s border and the incidents that a more robust presence is generating.”
      And then it cites some report about Russia “re-asserting” itself around its borders! Imagine that!
      Wonder what the US would do if Russian planes showed up in the Gulf of Mexico.
      (So the chicken is cooked in the US, not Russia – but hey, facts should not get in the way of a juicy headline.)

      1. km

        I recall John Kerry having a screeching fit about Russia conducting military exercises within its own borders.

    2. Synoia

      aircraft have been flying in the Black Sea…

      It the US administration’s process to eliminate discrimination against Blacks, whatever their nature…/s

    3. Paradan

      People have forgotten what the Cold war was like. This aerial chest thumping happened every day. Just think how much people would freak out if a couple subs bumped each other. TPTB have gotten it into their heads that they are supreme, and not to be challenged. But complaining about this stuff makes us look weak. If your gonna play empire then cowboy up FFS.

  2. lakecabs

    Amazon is paying half as much as the next biggest shipper.

    Jeff Bezos is cleaning up on the backs of Postal Workers.

    Why do people want to break into the Postal Workers retirement fund to subsidize Amazon?

    Why do people want to subsidize Amazon with the middle class paying the shortfall?

    Why not charge Amazon the true cost of delivery. Problems would disappear.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Reportedly, the Inuit would insist a kunlangeta go hunting, and when no one was looking, push him off the ice.

    2. tegnost

      I’d love to see a link to the claim of half as much. I find it’s hard to get info about amazons practices , and while I don’t doubt it’s true, I’ve spent a lot of time perusing the web trying to find out which zip codes get the most deliveries from amazon in order to prove a pet theory of mine that most of their product goes to a small segment of the population, and if anyone who can come up with that I would be eternally grateful. As it is, any search that has the word amazon in it is page after page about how to buy something on amazon. Somehow or another this and one other BI article are the first non amazon sponsored content and only on page 2, probably as the search I used “which zip code has the most amazon deliveries” references the post office (zip codes) and amazon so it’s on topic and yes does refer to the 2006 law. I’d also love to know what kind of break on tolls amazon gets, now that seattle has so many toll roads to keep the plebes out of the important peoples way.

        1. chuck roast

          Pearlstein has been around for many years. I always found him to be one of the more trustworthy and accurate of the WaPo crew. And I often found him to be infuriating…one of those people who does a correct analysis and comes to the wrong conclusions.

          In this case he concludes that if the PO raised its rates on packages many of its customers including Amazon would leave and the PO would lose even more money. And without that revenue, the Postal Service would lose a lot more money than it is already losing. They would then have to raise rates and they would go into a death spiral and be privatized.

          Typical Pearlstein. A long-sighted analysis and a short-sighted conclusion. Smaht’ and stoopid’; the perfect Washington Post writer.

      1. BoulderMike

        Just an FYI: to eliminate Amazon from your search results (except always one “Ad” result shows up anyway), just type -Amazon at the end of your query.

        1. jr

          I love Amazon! I use it as a convenient way to find new products, get the specs, critically read some reviews, and then go to the manufacturers website to order. Thanks Jeff!

          Now drop dead.

          1. SKM

            me too! Or sometimes actually sth order costing less than $5 – don`t do that often as I`ve boicotted Amazon for ever cos`ve how they treat their workers as well as the way they kill small businesses esp book sellers and of course have way too much power….. hate them and am very disturbed by how many people you`d expect to know better use them and encourage everyomne else to do the same. Especially galling are people advertising their books about how awful the whole system we live under is, then link to Amazon so you can buy their work!!! People advertise “eco-friendly” stuff and suggest you but whatever-it-is on Amazon….. I`m mystified by this, truly. The universal assumption is that we all buy or should buy from Amazon……. help!!!

            1. Procopius

              Used to be almost any title I searched at Amazon would have several copies available in the used section for $0.01. Shipping to my APO addrress was always $3.99, so I got a number of valuable books for $4.00. Alas, my APO has closed, and practically no book in the used category costs so little. Also, the mails are down between Thailand and the U.S. Nobody seems to know why, nor when mail service might be restored. Supposedly it has something to do with COVID-19. Thankfully Russia has a vaccine.

    3. Olga

      A friend with an ebay store says that to print USPS shipping labels through ebay is about 30% less then if bought directly at the PO. So Amazon’s deal is big, but maybe not as much as estimated. (Methinks discounts should be capped at no more than 15%., fwiw)

      1. lakecabs

        For Mainstreet to ship a cell phone from Missouri to California in 3 days via USPS is $8.30

        30% off would be $5.81 Almost 3 times what Amazon pays.

  3. jr

    Re: Adventures in Unemployment

    So I tried to sign into my UI account the other day, I had been told my benefits were done but with all the insanity I thought I would check anyway. Because I had moved recently, I was told to go online to update my address.

    Except my online account is all screwed up. The state made an error entering my information so I kind of have two ID’s, one for the state and one for UI. When I try to sign on, it sends me on a merry chase that ends up with me having to contact my Veterans UI rep. I was told that is cannot be corrected, once you have the ID that’s it.

    Except the rep hasn’t answered any of my emails. So I searched around and found the contact numbers for the local office. There were two numbers available.

    Except one number is a mother loving fax line and the other allows you to leave a message. I did so. Them I went looking for another number, found one, and finally got an human.

    Except the woman who answered the phone spoke in an extremely heavy Asian accent that made it hard to understand her. She seemed to have trouble with me as well. After half shouting at one another for a minute, she said “Address change!” and gave me a new number.

    Except when I entered it, it was the original robo-service I already had in my phone. The one that directed me online. Now I’m going to have to walk downtown to the office, risking my health, just to find out if I have any money coming. I probably don’t but I have to check. Total time wasted: approximately 30 minutes.

    Madness, madness, everywhere….

    1. zagonostra

      Brother who is a chef (restaurant went under where he worked) in Ft. Lauderdale still hasn’t been able to draw UI. When he talked to a human after hours on hold, they told him that he claimed he never filed for UI in the past but records showed otherwise. So someone incorrectly used his SS or some other glitch which has nothing to do with his eligibility and they can’t process his claim…Kafkaesque.

      As your own experience indicates, it is madness, but a madness that is a feature not a bug as they say here at NC…the aim of a public good is to make it so hard and discouraging to use that no one will get the notion that government can be anything but a last and flawed resort for the unfortunate.

      1. crittermom

        My (sort of adopted) ‘daughter’ recently had her identity stolen.
        She found out about it upon receiving a letter from UI stating they had put $3,000 on ‘her’ account & sent it to the new address ‘she’d’ indicated in Florida (we’re in Colorado). She’s never even been to Florida nor filed for UI.

        I fear her nightmare is just beginning regarding that, even though she did immediately notify all 3 credit bureaus, cancelled her card, filed reports with every agency she felt necessary.

        Come tax time next year can’t it all come back to bite her–through no fault of her own, since ‘her’ govt records will now show ‘she’ received that money?
        Should she need to file for UI in the future, I would think that’ll certainly cause another nightmare.

        She was already under stress after being broad-sided less than a week before, flipping her truck upside down. The other driver was ticketed (she suffered some slight injuries), yet now the insurance company is telling her they’re holding her 50% responsible for the accident.
        By coincidence, both drivers had insurance through the same company. Aha!

        Fortunately, she seems to have hired a good law firm that’s fighting for her.

        What pathetic times we now live in…

    2. The Rev Kev

      If there was only some way to route telemarketers to these sort of Dante’s Hell organizations.

    3. jr

      Thank you all for the comments. I forgot to add that the woman treated me like a major annoyance, she seemed a little surprised that I had called. Speaking of Kafkaesque, the only reason I was able to claim benefits so easily in the first place was because I had been laid off a month or so prior due to my employer’s total stupidity. I had opened a claim, closed it when I found work, and then was able to (relatively) easily reopen it when COVID hit. Friends waited months.

      The bottom line: it took me literally losing my job to get my benefits readily. And yes, this chaos is all intentional.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Speculation & Innovation Investor Amnesia

    A fun article (and very informative – I’d no idea EV’s had been so dominant in the first few years of the automobile industry). But one thing the article didn’t do is distinguish those crazy stock booms that at least left a positive legacy (mid 19th Century railway boom, for example), and those which left nothing but… well tulips, or shares in So many of the current crop seem to belong to the latter, although to be fair, the insane share price of Tesla has at least massively incentivised investments in batteries and EV’s, which will hopefully leave us with a positive legacy, long after Musk is hopefully forgotten.

    1. Olga

      I think I wrote a while back about a presentation Ford, Nissan, etc. made for us on EVs – back in 2010. The Ford guy brought a copy of a letter written in 1912 (or 1914) by an owner of a battery manufacturing plant, which said how he was looking forward to working with Ford. From the research I did back then, I remember that in 1912, about 50% of cars on US roads were electrical.

      1. RMO

        I’m probably the most pro-Tesla (or perhaps least anti-Tesla) person who comments here. I would never buy one of their cars myself but this is because A: I don’t want to do anything, no matter how insignificant that would further enrich the reprehensible Musk, B: I wouldn’t want to support a company that treats it’s employees so poorly and C: there are multiple things about their cars that I dislike, even if I were to get one of the ones that managed to be put together properly (specifically that I hate touch screens and would find operating a car through one to be a nightmare and that they continue to pull the sort of customer abuse typical of the Silicon Valley mindset such as taking away features via the live software updates and attempting to monopolize service and repair). Despite all this I admit that the cars are impressive to drive, do some things better than the competitors and the company managed to make electric cars seem not only viable but desirable to a large segment of the US public. This is something I would have thought impossible.

        That said, their market valuation seems insane by any standard. I can’t see how any growth could ever justify the current valuation let alone one that goes higher in the future. The current valuation would be crazy even if they were the largest and most profitable car maker in the world – which they are not. Not by a long way. I understand that many current investors must be playing the “bigger idiot” game and only care that the bubble keeps inflating and think they will be able to cash out before it pops, if it does. What I don’t understand are the investors who seem to think that Tesla will somehow achieve such overwhelming market dominance and profitability that the stock will continue to rocket higher and higher and never come down. The only real advantage Tesla would seem to have in the electric car field over the established automakers is that the company as a whole along with their sales organization believe in them, want to make them and want to sell them. So far the other car companies seem to build and offer EV’s in a begrudging manner that reminds me of how GM treated small cars for many years – as things they didn’t like making, didn’t like selling but made to keep their fleet average fuel economy high enough to avoid the gas guzzler tax.

        1. Michaelmas

          RMO wrote: The only real advantage Tesla would seem to have in the electric car field over the established automakers is that … so far the other car companies seem to build and offer EV’s in a begrudging manner

          Not so. See forex —

          ‘Tesla Gets Crushed in Germany by EVs from Volkswagen, Renault, and Hyundai Group: It Woke Up the Giants’ by Wolf Richter
          ‘Tesla’s share of the EV market plunged to 8.7% year-to-date, from 18.4% last year. Competition is now huge and across the spectrum. Tesla faces the same situation globally.’

          Although it is the case that when I drive my humble old Honda Accord out where I live, which is one of the ritzier, outlying bedroom communities of the Bay Area/Silicon Valley, I sometimes have a Tesla in front and behind me, and on either side. They’re everywhere around here.

          But it’s definitely a bubble stock.

          1. RMO

            I’m still waiting to see how well VW/Audi manages getting heavily into EV’s. The start hasn’t been particularly promising but the company may well be making a real effort – I contrast this to GM who, despite the big head start they had never seemed to really want to make them. A while ago a friend was looking to buy an EV and the Model 3 wasn’t even available here in Canada at the time. The Chevrolet Bolt was an obvious car to try but she found the dealers had little to no interest in actually selling her one. She ended up with a Leaf which, despite the lower range of the earlier model she bought compared to the Bolt and 3 has proven to be sufficient. I’ve been seeing more and more Hyundai and Kia EV’s on the road here in the Vancouver suburbs too. They don’t have to play the sleazy game Tesla does here with the Model 3 in order to get them to qualify for the federal government EV credit (For the $5K credit the base MSRP has to be under $45,000 – Tesla lists a Model 3 just under that in order to qualify but you really have to drill down through their website to find it and when you do they require you to come in person to their store to try and order it. My guess is that they quote you a really long delivery time if you’re slow on the uptake and try to actually buy it)

            the non-Tesla cars also don’t require you to work through a multi level touch screen to change windshield wiper speed and other insane stuff like that either.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    The New Puritans Matt Taibbi

    What Should the Left Do With Alex Morse? Ross Barkan, Political Currents

    Barkan is far too generous – he seems to assume good (if misguided) intentions to those attacking Morse. I find it hard to think that the attacks on Morse are anything but bad faith attacks designed to politically cripple a progressive. If conservatives had been attacking Morse in this way they’d be rightly called out for homophobia. I hope Morse and his supporters stand firm on this.

    1. Another Scott

      Did Morse have sexual relations with a student at a college where he taught? Neither Taibbi or Morse addressed that issue. If he did that’s a serious issue and a violation of the teaching standards at UMass.

      But instead of having an investigation into what he did or did not do. Morse and his defenders immediately changed the subject to consent and homophobia, dodging the key issue. His sexuality makes it easy for defenders of Morse to call his opponents homophobes, but many people, myself, included would feel the same way if the students were female. This shifting of the issue away towards identify politics reminds me exactly of what Kamala Harris did when defending her relationship with Jerry Brown and her associated patronage job.

      1. Laputan

        It’s not a serious issue since not even the College Dems accuse Morse of sleeping with any of his students; they were other students on campus. As long as it’s between two consenting adults (which nobody is contending). that’s not a violation of anything, be it policy or “teaching standards.” How about actually reading the article next time?

          1. Laputan

            I counted 7 universities in that story, all of which are Ivies or equivalent who probably don’t have a whole lot of one-course adjuncts.

      2. Cas

        You mean Willie Brown. Willie Brown still runs a political machine. Former governor Jerry Brown had no relationship with Harris and never was a good political player.

        1. Michaelmas

          Cas wrote: Former governor Jerry Brown had no relationship with Harris and never was a good political player.

          Jerry Brown was a very good political player.

          Admittedly, he took breaks to go study Zen Buddhism in Japan and to work in one of Mother Teresa’s hospices in India. So he wasn’t the same kind of player as Willie Brown, and didn’t use his position to stuff his own pockets and those of his posse as Willie has done.

          But he was California’s longest-serving governor during two stints, 1975-1983 and 2011 till last year. During the latter term — in the wake of the GFC — he put through some of the best environmental legislation in the country and put California’s budget firmly in the black. Back in January, before COVID19, California was projecting a $5.6 billion surplus.

          So he knew how to play the game. Since that meant being an operator in the state and the city Pelosi and Feinstein are from, that means he wasn’t all good — Gavin Newsom was his Lieutenant-Governor, for instance. (Though Newsom’s response to COVID19 looks good next to most of the rest of this country’s governors, which isn’t saying much.) But overall an above-average politician.

    2. Count Zero

      I agree — it’s clearly a political device to undermine Morse’s campaign and the political right must be chortling with glee.

      If he had sexual relations with one of the students he taught then, as every university teacher knows, he overstepped the mark. He should be subject to normal University disciplinary procedures — like any other tutor, gay or straight, male or female or anything else. There is, I gather, no evidence that this has happened.

      If he has had sexual relations with students who he had no teaching relationship to then, I think, he has been unwise. If I was his head of department I would have a quiet word in his ear, warning him that his indiscretions could get him into difficulties if one of these students were to complain. Even though they are all consenting adults, I’d tell him to keep his love-life off campus. But I have seen nothing in the various accounts to suggest that Morse has done anything that warrants more than this kind of strong advice from a senior colleague.

      1. barefoot charley

        Taibbi says Morse was making connections at college political functions. He was definitely sleeping with students, though not his own. If they were girls this would obviously be a scandal. Morse needs strong advice from a senior colleague, and a severe wet-noodling too. Immunity via IdPol is kinda revolting.

        1. Laputan

          If they were girls it would hardly be a scandal, more like the kind of thing that happens all the time. It would have maybe registered if he were a full professor and these were his students, but Morse was a single adjunct in his early 30’s who taught something like a class a semester in a college town. If he was going to have a sex life at all it was likely to involve a student or two.

          I don’t understand what several of you think the big deal is. Was he supposed to practice abstinence for what was practically the only demo he could date? A friend of mine, nursing major, hooked up with an architecture lecturer at UT back in my college days, was he a victim in a power dynamic as well?

          1. anon

            Don’t bring your sex life to work, especially when it involves young people. If it’s that hard for him to go down to the local pub and date his age group outside work, he’s got bigger issues.

            1. Laputan

              He was young himself and teaching all of one class. That hypothetical pub you reference is also probably full of college-aged adults.

        2. Carolinian

          Think I agree that in this case Taibbi doth pooh pooh too much.

          But the most grotesque part of the story is the obsessive/delusional misunderstanding of “power,” which after years of intersectional propaganda has become the primary lens through which young progressives see the world. Constant preaching that all human interactions are political contests, with one side always getting the better of the other, has made a whole generation phobic about adulthood.

          But of course all human relations are about power and perhaps especially when it comes to sex–that most primal part of us deep down somewhere in the same region as the desire for power. That doesn’t mean they are only about power, but we shouldn’t pretend that power has nothing to do with it and I’d say Taibbi is pretending.

          Where he is right of course is that this isn’t necessarily very relevant to Morse’ credibility as a politician. If power and sex are disqualifiers then we’ll have to toss FDR and Kennedy into the dustbin of history.

          But they lived in a different age when personal lives were off limits. That ended when the Miami Herald hid in the bushes to nail Gary Hart. What stories like the Morse articles do is convey, yes, power to the news media. They aren’t going to give this up readily and will cloak it in as much sanctimony as necessary.

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            But the most grotesque part of the story is the obsessive/delusional misunderstanding of “power”…..

            Maybe the most “grotesque part of the story” is implying any comparison between adolescent whimpering about not being able to say “no” to the formidable mayor of Holyoke, MA looking for a hook-up; and the entrenched, neoliberal corporatism of the democrat head of the house ways and means committee, “richie” neal, whose most recent betrayal was killing a tepid, bipartisan attempt to stop surprise medical billing, for which neal was rewarded handsomely by both blackstone and the medical insurance industry.

            The test case for the anti-monopoly movement’s foray into elections couldn’t be more perfect. Rep. Richie Neal (D-MA), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, is best described as a sentient cash register, taking contributions from massive corporations in exchange for gifts and perks. Nobody received more corporate PAC donations than Neal last year, which stands to reason: he runs Congress’s lead tax-writing committee, of interest to every corporation in America. This year, however, Neal faces a viable primary challenge on September 1 from the young progressive mayor of Holyoke, Alex Morse.

            Reducing this to some sort of coercive schtupping issue smells like blatant manipulation of college students who aren’t nearly as politically savvy as they think they are, in an effort to mainstream dirt and derail a promising challenge.

            From the college democrats of massachusetts homepage:

            The official college outreach wing of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.

            Yup. Thanks kids. Hope you wind up workin’ for tips and asking richie neal to help you out.


            1. pjay

              Thank you for pointing out some real, non-delusional elements of power which I’m pretty sure have something to do with this story.

          2. Partyless Poster

            I think the most important point is that this is supposedly progressive left people bringing down someone who actually could improve things in congress.
            Its hard enough to get real progressives in office without them having to deal with this absurd purity patrol.
            There just doesn’t seem to be any perspective with some of these attacks, since when is dating younger men worse than denying millions of people people relief from medical price gouging?

          3. HotFlash

            But of course all human relations are about power and perhaps especially when it comes to sex–that most primal part of us deep down somewhere in the same region as the desire for power.

            Carolinian, I am so sorry for you.

    3. Lee

      To think that much of my intimate life, which I am used to reflecting upon in a positive light, was just a series of victimizations. First there was my high school history teacher, with whom I hooked up for a time a few years after graduation. I’d had a huge crush on her when taking her class. She poisoned my mind with anti-racist, anti-war ideology and talked me out of volunteering to fight in Vietnam to become an anti-war, equal rights activist instead. I had other relationships with women to whom I was in a subordinate position, including some of my bosses, one of whom I was married to for 20 years. But perhaps they are blameless. I am after all a white male heterosexual, and therefore, when considered from certain au current perspectives, likely to be deemed the transgressive party.

      For the time being I’m with Dorothy L. Sayers:

      As I grow older and older, And totter toward the tomb, I find that I care less and less, Who goes to bed with whom.

      1. rl

        Speaking from experience: these days it is fairly typical to hear, in campus “LGBTQ+” groups, that gay men are the “straight people” of the “queer community.” This comes with the concomitant hermeneutic of suspicion and surveillance for/discipline towards “political,” which of course means performative-aesthetic, “purity.” Morse’s situation is in this light not even remotely surprising.

        Make no mistake, the progressive liberal-left doesn’t respect gay men any more than it respects lesbians (i.e. natal women who, being specifically and exclusively same-sex oriented, cannot comfortably and don’t want to sleep with or date males who self-ID as lesbians), and its use of them is perfectly cynical. The phrase “cotton ceiling” should have made that abundantly clear when it first appeared years ago.

      2. John Anthony La Pietra

        I second the approbation!

        I must admit, however, that on first reading the lines I thought of a different Dorothy — the author of this, among others:

        A single flow’r he sent me, since we met.
        All tenderly his messenger he chose;
        Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet –
        One perfect rose.

        I knew the language of the floweret;
        ‘My fragile leaves,’ it said, ‘his heart enclose.’
        Love long has taken for his amulet
        One perfect rose.

        Why is it no one ever sent me yet
        One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
        Ah no, it’s always just my luck to get
        One perfect rose.

        by Dorothy Parker

    4. Nancy Boyd

      The New Puritans are actually the New Decadent. It’s a class thing. The non-college educated and some of the non-SLAC college educated don’t have the luxury of remaining childlike in their refusals to take on the responsibility of adulthood, which includes navigating complicated (absent actual coercion) sexual relationships, until they’re 25 or 30. Some of them are in the military, some of them are engaging in high-risk blue-collar work, some of them are cocktail waitresses or bartenders dealing with aggressive customers every minute, some of them are already raising children, and some of them are nurses on the front-lines of COVID-care.

      I’d bet my house these New Puritans also readily proclaim that sex work is “empowering” for women, that prostituted women are in the “power position” relative to the john, which is of course absurd, when one considers the economics of the situation. But since these women are in the supposed power position, by the New Puritans’ own theory they’d have to argue that the johns are the “oppressed” or the ones who are providing “questionable consent.”

      The internal contradictions inside intersectionality-as-praxis are a thing to behold. For students who’ve drunk themselves silly on Critical Theory, it’s astonishing how they cannot follow a line of argument to logical conclusion. There actually is no theory undergirding this praxis — it’s opportunism all the way down.

      1. Laputan


        Nailed it with the line about opportunism. However, I’m of the mind that it has less to do with Critical Theory and more to do with the infiltration of social media into politics. This is what we get when we have a generation whose only political expression is through a medium that seems to exist mainly to register complaint.

        Check out a youngish politically active twitter account sometime, it’s either just a litany of their own personal grievances or rubber-necking others with likes and retweets. Advocacy has been gamified like everything else on social media, which ends up playing to our basest impulses. It exploits the lonely and atomized, the most online, who gain recognition by way of their place in the hierarchy of victimhood (like the ex-Vanderbilit professor who pretended to be a Bi Anthropology professor (which I know I’ve brought up a few times but here it is in the NYT:

        Taibbi’s offhand reference to kulaks was very apropos. We’re now in the era of the victimized snitch in which tattling to someone’s boss or an organization with a platform has replaced any initiative toward real activism and a sense of common cause.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        New puritans same as the old puritans–preaching the gospel loudly and often, and blaming someone else when they’re caught in flagrante delicto.

      3. jr

        “The internal contradictions inside intersectionality-as-praxis are a thing to behold. For students who’ve drunk themselves silly on Critical Theory, it’s astonishing how they cannot follow a line of argument to logical conclusion. There actually is no theory undergirding this praxis — it’s opportunism all the way down.”

        Hammer to nail. Thank you for this nugget of gold. I’ve been out of the Marxist conversation for years and have proven so here with my comical fumblings in the past but IIRC Critical Theory is founded on the idea of “constant criticism” from somewhere in the vast forest of the Beards writings. But I strongly suspect his concept was viewed through the lens of a materialist basis, something “concrete.” There were, if not absolute beginnings and ends, then stages, transitions, thresholds that could be used to map out the landscape, if you will. A sense of direction, of historical development.

        What I have failed to avoid of this Critical Theory’s literature and pretty much all of the related discussions I have had seem to be kind of free floating, neither a sound epistemic nor a material basis to be found. It’s all airy-fairy, concept chasing concept chasing whimsy, never planting it’s feet anywhere. Coming from me, that’s saying something.

        Which makes it an agile if ultimately impotent weapon. It can be fitted with whatever hatreds, Woke moments, prejudices, T-shirt slogans, misconceptions, View opinions, Tweets, fortune cookie adages, confabulations, fabrications, Oprah-ism’s, or whatever you want and fired endlessly at an opponent. You never run out of ammo because what you are saying isn’t based on anything; you can’t empty what was never loaded in the first place. They make “pew! pew!” noises at you to death. It’s like arguing with an 8 year old who responds to every claim you make with “You’re wrong and I hate you!”

        A woman I dated years ago, a Woman’s Studies graduate student, and I used to argue about Critical Theory. I said that without a material basis, a foundation in real, historical, and immediate socioeconomic conditions, CT ultimately just consumes itself. It falls on it’s own sword. As you pointed to above, she couldn’t follow my arguments (whether correct or not), instead descending into a self referential loop and finally indirect ad hominen attacks like “(straight)Men just don’t get it…”

      4. Jonhoops

        “I’d bet my house these New Puritans also readily proclaim that sex work is “empowering” for women, that prostituted women are in the “power position” relative to the john, which is of course absurd, when one considers the economics of the situation.“

        Actually these “New Puritans” would more likely be screaming about “Human Trafficking” in the case of sex workers. They are more likely to shame and vilify both parties as they participate in the the ongoing “sex trafficking” moral panic. They usually infantilize the women, giving them no agency, much like the adult students in the Morse case.

        See The Honest Courtesan Blog for a sex worker perspective

  6. Ford Prefect

    I have come to the conclusion that a Covid-safe series of presidential debates can be held easily using random sentence generators with a bit of AI to give them a Trumpian vs Biden look and feel.

    Case in point, yesterday’s press conference where Trump seriously discusses how the 1917 pandemic ended World War II. I am sure the thought process went something along the lines of “Dr. Fauci keeps talking about some pandemic that helped end a World War, there was a movie last year titled 1917 about a World War, and I think it was about World War II.” Even the headline is being kind because he didn’t actually mention 1918, instead putting the 1918-19 events in 1917.

    The past week with all of those Hiroshima and Nagasaki stories must have seemed so irrelevant in the White House as it would be hard to imagine a US President deciding to drop the atomic bomb would have any relevance to today’s day and age. Especially when the stories made no reference to how the bombs also spread the Spanish Flu around.

    So we could just have Republican and Democratic party people each pressing a button to select a general topic that would have words associated with that topic randomly assigned to subject, predicate, and object in sentences. It would likely be indistinguishable from a debate between the actual live people except that the grammar would likely be correct and in complete sentences.

    1. ambrit

      I am seriously worried because your, I assume, supposedly snarky comment actually makes sense!
      Several of us “predicted” virtual political conventions several months ago. Now that those exercises in “smokey back sites” politics look to be coming true, I wonder just what else from among the “crypto conspiracy theory” ideations we have indulged in here over the last half of a year will come true next?
      One truly, really, cannot be too cynical when it comes to American politics.

      1. newcatty

        I predicted that Michelle will be the VP running mate for Biden. I am being a bit of an Onion inspired cynic, but as you say: not too…

        1. polecat

          Maybe they’ll bring back .. by popular back-row demand, GW .. awarding Bush-the-Coughdrop the empty cocktail cabinet postion .. of Secretary of the Defensive!

    1. ambrit

      I saw that yesterday on a “fringe” YouTube site and realized that the social dysfunction has already begun.
      Five police cars full of coppers to evict one sick woman.
      The police started throwing the woman’s belongings out on the street while she was still in the hospital, without notifying her. All over medical debts owed by the woman’s ‘partner.’
      These sorts of events are perfect for enabling the organizing of a ‘fringe’ political group. The present elites are playing with fire.

      1. Olga

        “… has already begun.” I would have thought it’s been around a long time – just visible more starkly now. And if this story is true – well, it’s truly low and shows a country with no possibility of redemption.

      2. Massinissa

        It wasn’t owed by her partner. It was owed by the woman’s dead partner’s dead mother. Making it more kafkaesque. The debt is from 2 years ago, they only claimed it now, she didn’t know about it before, and she offered to pay now, but they were like, “Nah. We’re going to just evict you now”

        So many layers of disfunction on this s**t sandwich.

  7. Polar Donkey

    Alex Morse- so a congressional candidate is scoping out young volunteers to sleep with? I am shocked, shocked I tell you, by this behavior. There are plenty of horn-dog congressional members, Republican and DEMOCRAT.

    1. flora

      Not even close to the actual story. That is, however, exactly what some Dems want you to think… posssibly powerful Dems like Richard Neal who Morris announced he’s running against.

      1. edmondo

        Alex Morse should fight this the way Bernie Sanders would fight if he were in a similar situation- he should drop out and endorse his opponent.

        1. HotFlash

          Remind me again, where did Bernie meet Jane? OMG, it was at a political meeting!!!! So where’s this Morse guy supposed to find like-minded people to hook up with? The KKK rallies?

      2. ambrit

        I would expect a savvy politico to bring up the subject of the late Ted Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne. Or perhaps, a certain William Jefferson Clinton and his ‘Amazing Perpetual Poking Machine.’
        Am I being paranoid in mentioning that I am seeing nothing about the Epstein case in the MSM recently?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Nope. Too many faves implicated, and as the former Reddit ceo stated everyone knew what Maxwell was. This means too many clean people know what their associates are.

      3. Reality Bites

        Even if what the College Dems say is true, there was no law or ethics violation. This is closer to the Aziz Ansari case than it is to abuse of power. There is no discernable problem other than some don’t like that he slept with college students even though they were not in his classes.

        The comments to the Taibbi column also give a bit more detail. Apparently he was first elected in his 20s. If he was chatting up other 20 somethings during that time then the local university would be the most obvious place to get your Grindr/Tindr dates. It’s also a college town so it was nearly unavoidable. The complete lack of context in the College Dems letter makes this even more suspect.

        One commenter also made the point that politicians should take care to avoid anything like this when they think about running. I’m not sure that I agree with this. There are already too many sociopaths with otherwise clean records. It merely reinforces a certain type of person to run for office while excluding anyone that doesn’t fit a “clean” image.

        1. Another Scott

          “No law or ethics violation.” This is a Clintonian excuse if I’ve ever heard one, and then if someone tries to make the actions illegal, they get called a homophobe. Morse is the one who emphasized his sexuality in his statement, not his opponents, and hasn’t denied the allegations that he slept with students at UMass, where he taught a course. His statement was also silent on whether the students were in his classes.

          The people I see trying to establish the morality test are Greenwald and Taibbi, who seem to think that unless you have a libertine attitude towards sexuality, you’re not a leftist.

        2. pjay

          Framing this as a big “ethical” issue that can serve as an “educational” moment regarding sexual relations is pretty funny. I suggest those treating it as such take note of who Morse’s opponent is, as Flora points out. That is the real “educational” moment here.

      1. barefoot charley

        Much as I enjoy Rising and its people, and Taibbi, I don’t think adjuncts should hustle dates in their own student bodies. It causes what used to be called “the appearance of impropriety.” Morse made himself vulnerable. That the local DSA chapter, which surely knows how awful his opponent is, calls out this behavior indicates that many students themselves would prefer for adjuncts to cruise off-campus. That may be more common sense than puritanism.

        1. Darthbobber

          In a college town, if you’re that age, the student body probably encompasses 80% or more of potential partners. And it’s no small campus, if I remember rightly.

          It’s as if working at a 20,000 person Boeing factory was thought to preclude relationships with any worker in that small city below your own rank, even in the numerous watering holes frequented by the workers, and even if your part of the factory had f-all to do with theirs.

          There is no appearance of impropriety here, just another effort to expand what counts as impropriety.

      2. zagonostra

        I was just listening to The Rising as I’m wont to do in the morning while multi-tasking and I have to admit, I’m starting to find them irritating. Don’t get me wrong, I think they are great, it’s just that they give me a headache after a while and I have to turn them off.

        Maybe I’m just tired of words flying about and nothing ever changing. It’s starting to sound like squawking. It’s like I’m at the the opposite spectrum of listening to Chomsky, who I also find irritating after a while…I think that text, even if it’s digital, is the least annoying. I can skip, jump ahead, go back, ignore, underline and navigate the words easier than listening without getting the audible intonations of the speaker.

        1. furies

          I like Rising, I recommend it to people I’m trying encourage to open their minds, but (you knew there was a but) Saagar’s anti-China hysteria gets old, Krystal’s rabid politically correct stance on some things gets on my nerves…and they repeat the same information over and over (to fill air time?). But (again) I do find that if I stick it out and listen to the whole segment, I find an odd plum in the pie.

          I like the interviews very much.

          I do housework while it’s on…

        2. ShamanicFallout

          I like what you have said here: “words flying about and nothing ever changing’. I had this realization the other day as I have been watching the very old Frontline with William Buckley. They have posted (maybe all of them?) on youtube. Anyway I started watching some of the shows from 1967- 1970 or so. He had some amazing guests. Timothy Leary, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Anthony Burgess, Robert Scheer, Eldridge Cleaver, Huey Newton, Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, and on and on. Without a lot of shouting too!
          But what I realized is they were talking about the nearly exact same stuff as today. And has anything at all changed? In some ways it’s probably worse today. Kind of depressing actually now that I write this

          1. zagonostra

            There was something about Buckley, like Christopher Hitchens that made one want to listen. My dad, who emigrated from Italy and didn’t understand but a scattering of words, used to enjoy watching the show.

            I, like you, have bin watched YouTube Frontline and you’re absolutely right, the array of guest wouldn’t even be allowed to come on air today. Jack Kerouac’s drunken and general foulness really came out in his appearance, Chomsky and Baldwin certainly out witted him, and recently I watched Bishop Sheen’s pious response to a trick question that Buckley tried to “got-ya-moment him” and simply made Buckley look the smarmy man he was Buckley was…yeah some good programming back then…

          2. neo-realist

            The conservatives of today never open themselves up to intellectual challenge from those of an opposite political stripe. The interviewers only talk to those of a similar or a farther to the right bent. Such an echo chamber effect serves to reinforce the supposed legitimacy of their line with the audience.

            I have lot more respect for Buckley in spite of my disagreements with him than today’s corporate media brand for he was more than willing to joust with those who were in 180 degree opposition to him.

          3. flora

            That show was ‘Firing Line’. It was fun watching them debate topics. Some of the Buckley-Vidal debates were famous for 2 composed, witty men losing their tempers with each other and stooping to , ah…, heated exchanges.

            1. ShamanicFallout

              Yes! Firing Line, not Frontline. Oops. Also, I was reading a bit about Buckley and apparently he was a pretty talented debater at Yale. A lost art that I believe Lambert has spoken about in the past

        3. Dan

          I feel the same way. It was such a breath of fresh air initially, but now I find myself rolling my eyes at Krystal and Sagaar almost as much as I would with any mainstream pundits. Sometimes I get the sense that Krystal has a hard time not saying “these people” when she refers back to the Kentucky she grew up in. They also both have the habit of giving their listeners/watchers permission to feel or think a certain way, i.e. if you go back and watch Krystal do one of her “radars” over the past few months, you’ll notice at the end she’ll often say something along the lines of, “So, if you’re feeling angry, you have a right to feel that way.” Gee, thanks Krystal. Or they’ll introduce a segment with Zaid Jalani and Sagaar will say, “So, Zaid, how should we think about this?” I mean, I understand I’m probably reading too much into the verbiage, but there’s just something off-putting about the show to me. I think it’s that it purports to be populist, but there’s a subtle “patriarchal” or moral authority that they themselves seem to want to maintain. And let’s face it, they’re both careerists and clearly want to be near power, even if they conduct themselves in such a way so as to come across as being “for the people.”

          All that being said, I’ve certainly learned much from the show these past few months. Their style has just become grating to me.

          Are you a Riser? And what’s on your radar, Bob? /s

          It’s sort of infantile, no?

          1. flora

            an aside: something in the micophoning sound mix – treble/base/etc- on the show has changed in the last 2 weeks, imo.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Going to go out on a limb here and make a prediction. I think that next year that this Russian vaccine will become the new HCQ. I have no idea if this vaccine works or not. Putin is confident enough that he let his daughter get it and in the coming months, they will prioritize their health-care workers and teachers. But think how this will be received in the west, whether it works or not.

      Big Pharma will warn that it is dangerous and will kill people although they do not know what is in it. They will also goose the White House to claim that they stole it from ‘wonderful hard-working American companies’ (but it still does not work). The west will lean on the WHO to put out a statement saying that it is deadly and ineffective. The democrats will think that it is more nefarious Russian meddling. Some countries will ban this vaccine being imported into their countries to be used by their people. It’s gunna happen.

      1. TMoney

        Putin is confident enough ? The creators of the vaccine are confident enough to give it to Putin’s daughter. Imagine what happens to those scientists if there are unexpected side effects or a bad reaction. I suspect harming the Tsar’s daughter is a fast track to Siberia even now.

        Political points for Putin if it’s true. I don’t see Barron or Ivanka going first for an American vaccine.

        1. Chris

          There’s an old “just so” type story among engineers called “The Russian Load test.” Allegedly, in czarist and communist Russia if you were the engineer who designed a bridge, you were required to stand underneath it the first time it was load tested with a proof load. This seems like the same idea.

        2. jr

          Fast track out the nearest window, me thinks:

          “While there are no specific claims of foul play, it comes amid a police crackdown on those critical of the government’s handling of the crisis. Historically, a number of Russian dissidents have had mysterious falls out of windows. Among them, Ivan Safronov fell to his death from a fifth-floor window in 2007 after investigating the sale of Russian weapons to Iran and Syria, and ten years later Nikolai Gorokhov fatally plummeted from a fourth-storey window while trying to move a bathtub, after whistleblowing on Russia’s largest ever tax fraud.”

      2. Polar Socialist

        Big pharma can go to and check whats in it and how it works.

        The west may find it difficult to contain the vaccine, since the phase III testing will be done besides Russia also in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Brazil, India, Philippines and maybe Mexico. This also means, that they are not cutting corners in testing, they just registered the vaccine between phases II and III. Probably to be the first.

        WHO is currently in “close contact with Russian health authorities and discussions are ongoing with respect to possible WHO prequalification of the vaccine”, so west better start leaning on WHO while there’s still time.

        And Putin actually said that his daughter was part of the test group, and thus was vaccinated. From elsewhere we know that the vaccine was tested by the development team, and that Putin’s older daughter studied biomedicine in St.Peterburg. Whether she was a volunteer or actually participated in development, well, your guess is as good as anybody elses.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        If it works, I would argue this is a case of vaccine talks and dead people are dead. When a country gets desperate. Americans might get the Pravda treatment, but if a country like Egypt picks up this vaccine. It’s only a matter of time before it’s everywhere.

      4. jo6pac

        Yes, health care, teachers and first responders will be first. Then nation wide roll out. I do hope it works.

        I do wonder if it works will they share with China and other friends of Russia?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          “Don’t drink the water” is a problem for many countries. Having Covid is a problem if a neighbor is Covid immune. A vaccine widely distributed would be such a boon for every Russian industry and soft power. Even the ability to conduct daily lives like we did in February is a game changer.

          This is the kind of thing where even the most insanely dedicated Healthcare workers would walk off the job. USian and UK politicians are stupid enough to hold onto it (Erdogan and Bolansaro too), but very few national leaders wouldn’t share themail vaccine. The soft power gains are simply staggering in light of the Biden – Trump election.

          Obviously vaccines still need testing before widespread dispersal. Immune compromised people, children, and elderly still exist.

        2. Felix_47

          I suppose that with the rather brutal sanctions the US has put on Russia that it won’t be coming to the US. One of the positives of the Trump administration is that he is so dyslexic and scatterbrained with such incompetent help that he will never be able to mobilize the US into a war of significance like Bush and Biden did. When we get Biden and Rice who both have an interest in getting Ukraine into NATO the consequences could be significant. One barrier to surrounding Russia completely is the Treaty of Montreaux that was signed in 1922 which restricts tonnage of any naval ships from countries without a border on the Black Sea like England, France and now the US. If Ukraine is brought into NATO by a Biden Rice administration as a continuation of the project to break the Ukraine away from the Russian sphere they were working on four years ago the US will be able to use that by bringing in Ukrainian officers on our fleet to get an aircraft battle group into the Black Sea as well as a whole lot more. Apparently the Democrats are not happy about Russia taking the Crimea, their warm weather port, back as shown by the ongoing severe sanctions which are doing nothing. Apparently a lot of Democratic leaders and legislators believe the Russians put Trump in office. This irrational thinking could get the US involved in a very hot war and I see little evidence in the mainstream media that anyone thinks the Russiagate material is idiotic and unfounded. So we can happily vote blue no matter who and once and for all cement a neoliberal dynasty.

          1. newcatty

            Agree with most of what you are saying here. Except for this one part:
            Apparently a lot of Democratic leaders and legislators believe the Russians put Trump in office.

            It is much more likely that any Democrat in office, or leadership, is aware that is false, but play the Russiagate game because it’s the playbook that the Democrats designed to cover for Hills loss (did they really want her to win?) And to gin up an “enemy” of American interests. The mendacious politicians in both parties is just two sides of the same warped coin. It is a mistake to think that they are just “idiotic”, irrational, or clueless. When they show us who they are, believe them. There are exceptions, of course. But, they are not PTB.

          2. anon in so cal

            Yes, Russia welcomed Crimea back after the 2014 Obama Biden Nuland putsch in Ukraine. Biden has unfinished business in Ukraine.

            “Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs “Toria” Nuland was the “mastermind” behind the Feb. 22, 2014 “regime change” in Ukraine, plotting the overthrow of the democratically elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych while convincing the ever-gullible U.S. mainstream media that the coup wasn’t really a coup but a victory for “democracy.”….Carl Gershman, the neocon president of the U.S.-taxpayer-funded National Endowment for Democracy, explained the plan in a Post op-ed on Sept. 26, 2013. Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and an important interim step toward toppling Putin…..While Nuland and her neocon cohorts celebrated, their “regime change” prompted an obvious reaction from Putin, who recognized the strategic threat that this hostile new regime posed to the historic Russian naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea. On Feb. 23, he began to take steps to protect those Russian interests…”


            Seems as though as early as April 2019, Dems had Biden in mind as the nominee. And they were already readying Russiagate 4.0.

            Currently, Dems and NeoCons are framing any justifiable criticism of Biden as “Russian interference.”


      5. Mark Gisleson

        Is is out of the question to think that Big Pharma/Deep State would clone the Russian vaccine then add bad things to it and then sell it on the black market?

        1. Synoia

          No, they would buy it in bulk, raise the price by 500% and then resell it in a diluted form to maximize revenues.

      6. Pelham

        I was thinking exactly the same thing. You beat me to it.

        But I checked myself, believing that I might be too cynical. However, stepping back for a moment and taking a calmer look at the situation, I concluded that what you describe or something very much like it is perfectly plausible.

      7. Glen

        Ground breaking American drug research is/was almost all done by Federal funding. The drug companies step in after the original research is done to bilk the American public and spend the majority of their money on advertising. After that, the drug companies are good at re-purposing old drugs or variations in chemical formulations to expand patent protection.

        Federal funding, what was really doing the work, has been cut and cut and cut so odds always were that some other country was going to be first to the vaccine especially if they are sharing research rather than hoarding it.

        Now, don’t get me wrong, American drug companies are top notch in some areas. If the world’s men were having problems getting a woody, why America has the solution! But real public health or original research – no sorry, there is no profit in that!

      8. Maritimer

        “Putin is confident enough that he let his daughter get it ….”

        By whom was this vaccination authenticated? (May I have the envelope, please.) I would imagine that in Russia like the USA there are very strict regulations and penalties to prevent fraud of any type.

    2. Wmkohler

      This take is fundamentally mistaken. It is crucial that any coronavirus vaccine be properly tested before being made available to the public. Encouraging a rushed coronavirus vaccine rollout, for example through skipping Phase 3 trials as some have suggested, or by praising Russia’s move here, is a bad idea with serious risks of undermining the already-fragile credibility of the medical establishment in the eyes of a broad swath of the population.

      1. Reality Bites


        Also I have not seen much information on whether the vaccine completely innoculates or only prevents a severe case of COVID. I remember an article in NC that said that the early vaccines are likely to be closer to the latter case. The problem with still getting a mild case is that the lingering effects of COVID are pretty nasty and underreported. The clots, asthma, scarring and other things are significant concerns and still appear in mild cases. My concern isn’t that Russia was the first to announce. It is the complete absence of nuanced reporting that could contribute to an ineffective or harmful vaccine being rolled out too quickly. The Economy First crowd is already looking for ways to get bodies on the street and spending. Another over exuberant push to return to 2019 could prove even more disastrous.

      2. Pelham

        Fully agreed.

        But what if the Russian vaccine — despite being recklessly rushed into production — turns out be effective and safe? Should we still reject it because they violated the rules (and I’m not at all disputing the rules, which appear to be thoroughly sound)?

        1. Wmkohler

          If the Russian vaccine turns out to be effective and safe – in itself a thorny question, as Russia is not especially known for its commitment to transparency – this could even be worse, as it would set a bad precedent. Much like storing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate in a damp warehouse for 6 years, chucking medical ethics out the window is the sort of thing that can be fine until it isn’t.

      3. ivoteno

        the medical establishment played no small role in the undermining of it’s already-fragile credibility.

        1. Late Introvert

          And continues to play a very hearty role in that undermining, on a daily family blogging basis.

  8. Pat

    The Pandemic response, the continued destruction of the Post Office, the doubling down on globalization despite the obvious devastation that broken supply lines can bring, our political “representation” obviously being fine with more sick, homeless, hungry Americans as they battle over “spoils” for their sponsors not to mention the push to run a failing lying racist misogynist corrupt jerk who won’t try to change any of that against the guy who fits all of those descriptions except he occasionally says it is wrong as a sales pitch….

    Lambert’s clarifying situation is getting more and more depressing. Apparently we really will have to let everything crash into flames and destruction before the parasites will let us go.

    1. Conrad

      Quick work from you Rev, the text alert only went out 4 hours ago. Auckland goes to level 3 with the rest of the country to level 2 from noon tomorrow. You can read all the details at

      Am a little sad because we had plans to take the family for a weekend away this weekend but that’s not going to happen now.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I had just seen a news flash on the TV but I see that this news was also talked about by Grumpy Engineer a few minutes earlier. How the hell did this get back into NZ? Did somebody slip into the country aboard a yacht or something? Or did a Silicon Valley billionaire fly into the country on his private jet and forgot to quarantine? Piggyback on cargo that came into the country maybe? I’m pretty sure that this virus can’t teleport. Good luck over there.

        1. Conrad

          There’s been a steady drop of cases amongst those in quarantine upon return from overseas. My guess one of the workers or a returnee had negligible symptoms and came into contact with one of this unlucky family and then away we go. Four of six testing positive suggests they’ve had it for a while so I think we’re going to see a few more cases as all their contacts get traced.

        2. ChrisPacific

          Nobody knows yet. The two possibilities are (a) some kind of link to the border cases, either from staff or a quarantine breach or similar; or (b) it never left and we’re just spotting it now. The second is considered very unlikely as there would have been some evidence. So the race is on to find the index case. It will be a test of our contact tracing, alerting and community discipline to see whether we control it quickly or go the way of Victoria.

          As Conrad says, we will certainly see more cases as investigation proceeds. The good news (so far) is that none of them seem to have attended a super spreader type event (concert, conference, wedding etc.) but it’s early days still.

      2. The Historian

        Be ever so grateful that New Zealand, because of their vigilant actions, is never going to turn into the US.

        A neighbor of mine had an open house Sunday, and one person got the address wrong and started walking through my house – without a mask of course. So much for trying to social distance! Now I lock my doors even during the day.

        1. newcatty

          It is nice that you felt safe enough to not lock your doors during the day. We have been doing that for a long time. We live in a pretty safe and quiet neighborhood, but have had a random person knock in our door ” looking for person x”. We are first people to live in a newly built house, so strange. The woman looked angry that we said that x did not live here or that we had no idea whom x is. She glared at us and then walked away. Also, when garage door was open had some kind of church people come right inside while I was doing a chore. I was peeved and told them that I was not interested in their speaking to me. They then tried to give me their “literature”. No thanks. They slowly walked away. It is another sign of these strange times…now strangers walk into your house with no mask and it’s more scary then weird or “cult” people.

          1. The Historian

            Leaving doors unlocked during the day was not usually a problem here. This being Idaho, you don’t just walk into any house without warning. The man was lucky that he chose my house to walk into – if he’d have done that with some of my more paranoid neighbors (heaven forbid a strange car should drive down the street), he might have gotten shot!

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              yeah. one of the many things i hated about living in our little town…and worse when i lived in austin, long ago.
              here, there’s 4 houses on our mile and a half long dead end dirt road. I know who’s supposed to be driving out here by the sound of their engines.
              Hardly anybody comes down this road, save for hunting season.
              the ambulance/transport people who sometimes take stepdad to VA in san antone are always lost(we’re not on Siri or whatever), and scared out of their minds at being in such a place, due to mythology about rednecks and hill people.
              one time, they came into the driveway at mom’s, turned around and left and parked in the front pasture…and that’s when i materialised out of the woods, in a bathrobe with a 12 ga, long hair, beard and crazy eyes,lol….to helpfully tell them that they were in the right place.
              they actually put their hands up.
              This mythology used to annoy me(we’re not really like that out here, so long as you knock before wandering into the house)…now, i think of it as just another defensive barrier to potential hungry city folks fanning out into the hinterlands when the trucks stop running.
              we lock up at night…mostly out of habit, due to the 8 year prowler problem(that dude is long dead, now)

              1. Eureka Springs

                I can find the deed to my house but I’m not sure where the key might be. Locks only keep honest people honest. Otherwise you have to replace a TV and a kicked in door.

    2. Jeotsu

      At 9:30 PM (NZ local time) last night the cell phone went off with a push-message Covid alert. It is good to see that system is working, especially since it is a seldom used cellphone and I know we never signed up for any such push alerts. Hopefully nearly-everyone is aware of what’s going on because of it.

      Went off again at 10:30 with more alerts/info, and again at 7:30 this morning.

      Now is when the new&improved test and trace system will be put to the test. The main theory being discussed on RNZ this morning is that this is a contact via someone who works at the border or in managed isolation — but none of the affected family members have such jobs so now it is the mad scramble to find the infection intermediaries and see how far this has spread. They’re talking about running 10’s of thousands of tests in Auckland in the next 3 days. Anyone with any related symptoms is asked to contact their GP for a test, all border/isolation workers will be tested, and there will be widespread community testing.

      A decisive approach is worlds better than Victoria’s weeks of waffling. Now fingers firmly crossed that this can be nipped in the bud.

      It will also be a test of how well people react to a second lockdown. Hopefully community spirit is high.

      If they can nip this quickly it will further cement Labour’s position going into the election (in 5 weeks). Either way, it is going to cement the closed-borders conservatism that is running really, really high in country.

    1. voteforno6

      Compared to Trump and his progeny? It’s going to be hard to get a lot of people outraged over Biden’s ne’er do well son.

      1. Pat

        I think you will be surprised.

        But Daddy Biden will have to be elected for the fall out to happen. And despite there being a better chance of that happening now than there was in February, it is still far from certain.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Its weird how people forget Republicans are hypocrites. Even the “moderate ones” who hate Trump because he’s third generation like the Shrub crime family, they will have no shame.

          1. Pat

            Yup, and unlike the Trumps, I don’t think Hunter is smart enough, or cares enough, to hire accountants who can obscure the money trail.

            Going after him could end up burying a whole lot of the more acceptable purchasers of government largesse.

          2. Pat

            And in another cynical view of the tribes…They also forget the Dems really really want to become the representatives of choice for the people who pay the Trumps/Bushes/etc so they court them. While the Republicans use the carrot stick approach, as in be more effective in general and punish a few players who give to the wrong players.

      2. Pelham

        Maybe. But maybe not.

        Biden’s one and only big selling point is that he and his are 180 degrees the opposite of Trump and the Trump clan. For the tiny cohort of long-suffering voters who remain persuadable in this election, a Biden who’s just as dirty as Trump (and perhaps worse) may be an unacceptable Biden.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I’m certain with enough feigned enthusiasm we could get Team Blue partisans to declare Biden is 720 degrees removed from Trump.

    2. anon in so cal

      >”U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden’s American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts — usually more than $166,000 a month”

    3. chuck roast

      I know…Hunter Biden is Hunter Biden. But when I lived in DC not so long ago, I watched the postman put DC tax bills in every box in my large apartment house. It turned out that the DC tax collector was “phishing”. All you had to do was call them on the phone and confront them about their bogus bills and they would respond “Oh gee! Sorry.”

  9. Sheldon

    When Will Consumers Feel Safe? Weekly Updates on Consumers’ Comfort Level

    The financial beatings will continue until morale improves!

    On congress looting and sabotaging our post office:

    “My tax payment? The check’s in the mail…”

  10. John B

    From Industry Body Calls Russian Covid-19 Vaccine a Pandora’s Box:

    “Scores of Russia’s business and political elite have already been given access to the experimental vaccine as early as April, according to people familiar with the effort.”

    Using your business and political elites as medical test subjects is an interesting approach that should be explored further.

    1. timbers

      Industry Body Calls Russian Covid-19 Vaccine a Pandora’s Box Bloomberg

      Industry…a trusted source.

      Russia’s race to allow civilian use of a potential coronavirus vaccine before clinical trials are complete could put people at risk, according to a local association of multinational pharmaceutical companies.

      More trusted sources.

      World Health Organization spokesperson Christian Lindmeier told reporters last week in Geneva that vaccines should go through all stages of testing before being licensed.

      Licensed by who…Organizations controlled by the same nations that took Russians embassy, routinely break their trade agreements and medical treaties with her (UK violating treaties by withholding Novichok medical data), and are massing their militaries along her borders? If the Russian vaccine works, they may license it, but it looks more like they are focused on distributing to their nation. You know…like Jonas Salk was when he refused to patent or profit from his vaccine.

      Don’t know if the Russians or Chinese or anyone’s vaccine will work. But if the wrong people are the first to invent a vaccines that does, it could upset a lot of apple carts.

      You’d think as nation our leaders would want to make as many friends as possible and avoid stepping on a few toes. If only because just in case.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Could We Force the Universe to Crash?”

    Well, maybe we could. Humans might be able to make the discovery of “Solaronite,” a substance that has the effect of exploding “sunlight molecules” which will destroy the entire Universe. Oh, wait, that’s in the story line from Ed Wood’s film “Plan 9 from Outer Space.” Forget it.

    1. Susan the other

      Well, before we start to panic I’d just like to know how we know that the Universe hasn’t already crashed? Things move very slowly in this big space. But I didn’t read it – I got sidetracked to the margins of Sci Am wherein I found an article by a young physicist named Spiro Michalakis, “How Scientists Solved One of the Greatest Open Questions in the Quantum Universe”. It was all about how electrons in the quantum world become visibly “quantized” in the macro world. Or something like that. I read through it like the physics groupie that I am and my takeaway was a revelation – because I’m so math-o-phobic that anything that requires math for me is a magic trick. But the thing that changed my mindset was the following: In his investigation of why a quantum thingy could manifest itself so obviously in the macro world he comes to a few insights: some quantum things actually qualify as “integers” – because at a certain volume they are reliably “there” to find and use; and even tho’ it all sounded like Schoredinger-in-2-dimensions to me, there were these other tidbits: Where we stumble on visible quantum phenomenon we are looking at “the infinite commuting with the infinitesimal” (pure poetry) and that is the nexus we translate into math – as long as there is some threshold of electrons to give a number to. So I was glued to this little explanation of I’m not sure what. But thanks for the wonderful link.

  12. Darthbobber

    “Young Black Americans not sold on Biden, the Democrats, or voting. ”
    We get a lot off these right now because of the woman of color VP angle.
    But the headline, changing the name of the Democratic candidate, has been true now for a very long time, and has become more and more true as time went by. Even a black presidential candidate didn’t get young blacks up to voting even at the low level of youth generally, though it caused enough of a bump to arrest the decline for a time.

    And one need not look far for reasons. Here in Germantown, Philadelphia even (or maybe especially) the black political leadership has absolutely no interest in mobilizing, much less organizing, the masses of very poor, marginalized blacks, be they young or old. They confine their efforts to those from the relatively stable working class and professional neighborhoods of Germantown and Mount Airy, and work the churches, a handful of faux community organizations dominated by small-time ngo grant recipients, the NAACP, and some crunchy white good cause groups. My congressman, my state senator, my state representative, and my district’s councilwoman, all black, uniformly wort by this formula. As does the ward and precinct organization.

    Of course, if all of these constituents could be somehow brought into the fold, kept in a warehouse and brought only for the general election they’d like that, but since we’re a one party city and an even more one party region of that city, that’s hardly seen as critical for most purposes.

    When it comes to the primary, aka the only election that matters to them, they’d really rather not have these people intruding. For one thing, if organized they’d demand things that might actually help them in a tangible way, and these leaders have nothing to offer them that wouldn’t come at the expense of those they value more.

    For another, low turnout primaries are the machine’s dream, because it means that the predictable, reliable large blocs constitute the great bulk of the turnout.

    1. Sheldon

      The young black men I know have the highest level of bullshit detection of anybody out there.

      Tacking a scolding Auntie onto the campaign of someone they latently distrust is not going to get more votes from them. Just the opposite. Now, as to the upper caste PMC black women, that’s a different story, but the DNC already has most of them in the Chanel bag already.

    2. Rod

      Different State, smaller City, same Recipe.
      Often the City and County District Reps, State Senator and State Representative could be rolled over with 500 to 2,000 additional Votes in opposition–less than 1% increased turn-out.

      Always thought a focused strategy using a kind of covert Power Block could flip complacent Districts because the win margins are so constantly close.

      1. hunkerdown

        Machine politics has been operative in the USA since at least William Jennings Bryan. Indispensable Enemies by Walter Karp is very much worth reading, even just the first section introducing the parties and their machinery, before he even looks at specific cases of Presidents. You can read it for free on the Internet Archive.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          Karp’s on the shelf in my Library…part of the big study of the american right i undertook.
          none of all that just happened.
          it was made to happen.
          and weyrich was at the table in the lobby of the st louis HoJo when the plan for erecting the religious right as footsoldiers for the oligarchy was scratched on the napkin, circa 1973(?).

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Contrafreeloading and Cats”

    Obviously the researchers from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine knew nothing of cats beforehand. Makes you wonder who was being experimented on in reality – the cats or the researchers.

    1. Keith

      Article reminded me of a quote about cats, “Cats at one time were worshiped as gods to be served at their pleasure, the problem is they never forgot about it.” o Or something to that affect.

    2. Pat

      As proud cat staff to various dominant felines over several decades I read about a quarter of that article before going “well duh!” and closing it.

      Huge waste of research money, they should have just asked.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “US explores option of establishing liaison office in N. Korea, Kyodo News reports”

    Kim should take care here. To modify a saying from 19th century Africa, ‘First come the Diplomats, then the Non-Governmental Organizations and then the Soldiers.’

    1. Synoia

      With a “Liaison Office” come spies, and people experienced at stirring up malcontents.

      Ask yourself where the leaders of the discontent in Hing King got the money to keep going for over a year or longer.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      or more recently:”why can’t you overthrow the us government?”
      “because there’s no american embassy there.”

  15. anon in so cal

    >Covid California:

    New Headline: “Newsletter: Newsom says a broken coronavirus database is now fixed”
    Previous Headline: “Newsom tries to quell furor”

    “Responding to one of California’s biggest setbacks since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom said his administration has fixed a public health computer database failure that distorted test results across the state and raised doubts about actions taken to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

    Newsom faced reporters for the first time since he touted the inaccurate data as a positive sign of fewer infections; a day later the glitches became public. The governor said he was unaware of the problem, even though state health officials had warned counties about data issues days earlier.

    On Sunday, the state announced the abrupt departure of Dr. Sonia Angell, the director of the California Department of Public Health, the agency in charge of collecting the electronic test results. Newsom declined to say whether he asked Angell to resign and sidestepped a question about her leadership of the agency during the pandemic. He said he felt it was appropriate to accept her resignation….”

  16. Ignacio

    Vaccine matters: Can we cure coronavirus? Science. Webinar, August 12 (tomorrow).

    Thanks for this! Registered for the webinar tomorrow at 12:00 ET 18:00 in Madrid.

        1. petal

          Thank you-I am not good at communicating it to non-scientists. Out of practice, I guess. You are very good at it.

  17. a different chris

    In my sporadic series of “I read DKos so you don’t have to” – there is actually a pretty good write-up on the problems in Belarus. But one thing did make me sigh a bit:

    including that by such normally respectable sources as NPR. Even their headline — Belarus Elections End With Landslide Winner — And Massive Protests — should be more accurately called a headlie.

    He, being a Kossite and no doubt a good liberal – thinks NPR is “normally respectable”. But the one thing he really knows something about he recognizes as a “headlie”. Should be a learning moment, but probably not.

    1. jo6pac

      I’ve read somewhere mass protest were around 3500 people.

      Thanks for read the orange rag for us that are afraid to;-)

  18. none

    Is the purpose of Trump’s payroll tax holiday to create stealth wage decreases, since if someone takes a lower paying job or has a pay cut at their current job, their take-home pay stays the same because of the absence of the payroll tax? Of course eventually the payroll tax comes back. Or if it doesn’t completely come back, that helps destroy social security by underfunding it. Brilliant.

    1. Ford Prefect

      I think that is way too Machiavellian.

      I think as a hotel and golf club operator, he is simply sick and tired of paying payroll taxes for staff as the payroll taxes are of no obvious benefit to his business but definitely increase payroll costs. As President, he has the opportunity to do something about it.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      maybe…but more immediately, it’s a jab at the dems.
      doesn’t look like any of it will actually work as advertised, save maybe the student loan forbearance.(the clunky and idiotic scheme to have the broke states erect a new system, and pony up$100/week per unemployed person, using left over fema money is doomed to fail…and that $ is for hurricanes and such, no?)
      But by it not working,he can yell about obstructionist dems…especially if they take him to court over overstepping the Article 2 bounds.
      “see, amurkins, i tried to save you, but the mean old commies wouldn’t let me…”
      it’s stupid, of course…but what isn’t at this point?

  19. Rod

    Ex-Colleagues See Durham Dropping Bombshells Before Labor Day Real Clear Investigation

    Not a lot of info plastered all over about his, so this really stuck out to me:

    “I’m impressed with the discipline his team has shown,” Swecker said. “There’s been no leaks. The investigation has been very close-hold.”

    Washington is generally a collander, except about some stuff.

  20. fresno dan

    He knows what a strong, healthy heart looks like. He knows what a poor, struggling heart looks like. And he knows what a heart looks like after COVID-19’s tentacles have reached the most vital organ in the human body. “This virus,” he says, “seems to have an affinity for causing damage to the heart.”
    In fact, the brewing heart issue is a topic on recent calls among the Power 5 conference medical task force, including commissioners and team doctors. Fear over myocarditis has reached the top level of the sport, with Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren having both privately expressed serious concern over the condition. One Power 5 team doctor, who is privy to conference commissioner calls, says the heart condition is a primary topic during discussions. “We discuss it on every call,” the doctor says under the condition of anonymity.
    I wonder if there has ever been a link in NC from Sports Illustrated. The infection of a million of a statistic, but the end of the career of a college football hero is clickbait headlines.

  21. JTMcPhee

    Anybody still enough of a sucker to believe that the Empire is going to draw down its warfighters in the European theatre needs to read this:

    “ In a Pentagon briefing last Wednesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that the withdrawal of 11,900 troops from Germany, reducing the U.S. presence there to about 24,000 personnel, would be accompanied by a shift in the U.S. and NATO force posture to the Black Sea region, the Baltic states and Poland to counter Russia.

    Of the 11,900 troops to be withdrawn, about 6,400 will eventually return to the U.S.; the rest will be repositioned in other NATO countries, Esper said.

    At the briefing, Esper and Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, who doubles as the head of NATO and U.S. European Command, said that EUCOM’s headquarters will move out of Germany to Belgium, and two Army battalions will relocate to Italy.

    U.S. Africa Command will also move out of its current headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. AFRICOM will likely go to Belgium, although a location has yet to be designated, Esper said.

    He had no estimate for the overall cost of the withdrawal, but said it could be in the “single-digit” billions.”

    The Great Game of Risk! ™ goes on and on… like the map noted today, how dare those Russians locate their borders so close to those hundreds of US/SNATO Imperial bases?

  22. Grant

    I did a webinar with Kirk Vartan on public and private initiatives that have been and could be undertaken to support worker cooperatives. Did work in the past on public sector (municipal in particular) support for worker cooperatives.

    The video is here, if anyone is interested:

    There are a few nods to MMT, and a brief discussion of public banking in California (AB 857 and AB 310), in there too.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      as i’ve said, i expect an influx of refugees/farmhands, and am planning for it best i can(brother and his bunch, if houston area/his job goes the way i expect—and 2-3 of eldest’s buddies with shaky prospects for future*)
      co-op is something i’d love to head towards…after i get the land into a trust of some kind.
      the biggest problem i foresee, is education—no one knows what democracy or cooperation is anymore.
      so they’ll hafta be…ummm…reeducated(!)… about that entire lifeway, which is so very different from the water we all swim in, now.. without even noticing(dog eat dog, i got mine, system selects for psychopathy, etc. seems like “common sense”)
      I expect to stand in as a philosopher king while that education takes place…to protect the land….which makes me feel like a hypocrite,lol.
      I never planned on being a feudal lord.

      In all the rummaging i’ve done in co-op land, i’ve seen very little about this aspect of it.(almost all of that rummaging was pre-covid, when i thought i still had time)
      in the same way that none of the thousands of folks i worked with in my cooking career had an inkling about what a Union is,let alone “solidarity”…is there any awareness that you know of of this problem?

      (* interestingly, one of those buddies was out, social distancing with eldest with the bed of his truck between them. wife and i came by in the Falcon, out hunting rattlers on the dark hot road….his grandad is on his last legs, and i mentioned that we need to get the cabin bunkhouse finished, and that he’ll always have a place out here. he actually had considered this…given that we’ve been his surrogate family for 13 years or more…but had been unsure how to ask about it(his aunts are evil, greedy people, who will cast him to the street when the old man goes))

      1. Grant

        Yeah, we addressed that. Jessica Gordon Nembhard talked about how a large share of cooperatives among black people formed through book and discussion clubs. In the public sector, you often need a cooperative champion, someone that will push for them and will help to raise awareness. The lack of knowledge about cooperatives is an issue, but one that can be overcome. Many cities are supporting worker cooperatives now.

      2. jr

        “I never planned on being a feudal warlord.”

        That statement slowly pancaked through my mind like a hollow point .357 slug that’s addicted to fentanyl. You cannot beat NC.

      1. Grant

        Nice. I don’t work for the CCCD, but did a webinar with Kirk for them. They do great work, hope you like our discussion.

  23. zagonostra

    >COVID Sweden

    It’s becoming increasingly difficult to take a firm position on anything regarding this virus. I even have friends in the clergy sending me links to some rather dubious assertions on how/who/what is behind this pandemic. It’s all leading to COVID burn-out, kind of like the “barbarians at the gates”

    In August, Sweden has registered just one death (!) with/from the coronavirus. Yes, you read that correctly. One death so far…

    Sweden did not do everything perfectly. Stockholm, like much of the West, failed to protect its nursing home population. The majority of the COVID-19 deaths in Sweden have come from the senior care population, with the average age of death (82)

    There is no evidence anywhere in the world that lockdowns or masks have *stopped* the spread of the virus. Sweden was one of the few places where cooler heads prevailed, and the scientists realized that attempts to stop the virus would be worse than the disease itself, in the form of economic and social ruin.


    The barbarians are due here today.

    Why isn’t anything going on in the senate?
    Why are the senators sitting there without legislating?

    Because the barbarians are coming today.
    What’s the point of senators making laws now?
    Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

    Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?
    (How serious people’s faces have become.)
    Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
    everyone going home lost in thought?

    Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come.
    And some of our men just in from the border say
    there are no barbarians any longer.

    Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
    Those people were a kind of solution.

    1. Tom Bradford

      “There is no evidence anywhere in the world that lockdowns or masks have *stopped* the spread of the virus.”

      Um, New Zealand? The virus was in the community but a strict national lockdown “stopped” the spread of the virus and even eliminated it for 102 days.

      Yes it’s raised it’s ugly head again here, and it will be an interesting case-study to see if intensive contract-tracing coupled with a local lockdown can knock what is probably a single discrete outbreak back again – something no-one in the world (including Sweden) has had the opportunity to try.

      We’re to learn today if mask wearing is to become compulsory.

  24. jr

    Dept. of Arts and Crafts:

    My GF forgot her Mac cord at work. She sent me to the aesthetically if not actually sterile Apple Store for a replacement with it’s hip ‘n cool jean clad exploited flunky force. GF got the model wrong, easy to do with serial numbers in font .3, discovered upon returning home. While I was there I asked about getting my iPhone 4 mini screen fixed: a cool 300$ for a device worth around at much if not less.

    Now I was a Commo guy in the Army and I never throw away a working cable, you just never know. It’s saved me in the past. So I dragged out my box and began to try to mix and match. A tangle.

    There were no less than five different kinds of charger heads in total. The Mac itself used the latest, there was a mag-lock, the ancient flat and latest iPhone chargers then a kind of USB
    /new head port hub thingy.

    Nothing worked with anything. The Mac has four of the same plugs, nothing else. There is a dongle for a USB, undoubtably extra $. I toyed around with it for a good five minutes trying to find some combination. It is so obviously “obsolescence” driven tech. They should all be universal mag-locks.

    2 trips to the store: time wasted 40 minutes

    So it occurred to me to take the old cables and weave a noose out of them. Consider it sort of a protest art piece. Not for my personal edification, of course….

  25. Amfortas the hippie

    something i came across in my indeterminate fly by ramblings in the last week:
    (it’s a pDF, if it matters)

    an overview of the neoliberal flip side to Thompson’s “creation of the english working class”(that i am finally, almost finished with, after 7 months)…these things are made… we think of the subject of Thompson’s study as sort of growing up out of the ground…but it took a lot of thought, after necessary epiphanies, to construct a working class…just as it had taken a lot of work for the rentier/lords class to change the populace during the Enclosures.

    “By himself, nobody becomes a detached individual, able to calculate a self-serving agenda and to enter into competition with everyone else in search of profit. These highlighted words identify properties that truly exist in the world, but only because they were first extracted, maintained, connected and assured by the immense assistance of accounting tools, title deeds, business schools and scholarly algorithms. “

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      and further:”Productivity –its calculation, its measure, its intensification –is gradually being replaced, thanks to the virus, by a totally different question: a question of subsistence. This is the turning-point; this isthe doubt; this is the point of no return: not whatand how to produce, but is “producing” a good way of connecting to the world? Just as we cannot continue to “wage war” on the virus without understanding the multitude of relations of co-existence with them, neither can we continue to “produce” without understanding the relations of subsistence that make all production possible. That is the enduring lesson of the pandemic.”

      when my brother was up for 18 hours(!), and i had him in the Falcon under an oak tree in the moonlight, and he’s stoned enough to listen after he asked why i was so pessimistic…he kept referencing his job…a post-sales client maintenance agent for a global “enterprise” software firm.
      after “you can’t eat Code” , I pointing out that his sort of work relied implicitly on a whole bunch of priors, all the way down to the farm hand…I kicked the dirt.
      “this is what all that relies utterly on” kicked the dirt again.

      point is, this represents a golden opportunity to infect the minds of our fellow earthlings with these radical ideas, and potentially deal TINA a severe blow.

  26. zagonostra

    Thanks for pdf link Amfortas…I’ll have to read it more carefully when I’m not in browsing mode and can masticate the material like a cow does curds (Nietzsche).

    I found below excerpt evoking images of the Matrix where the “Judas” character ask’s the Matrix, as a condition of his betraying his friends, he is re-introduced into the Matrix(wants to taste that rare steak melting in his mouth). So, I’m not too sure that there is no “second time” for the pathologically inclined…

    From this experience, from this rupture, from this doubt, there is no coming back.
    You will never make Carrey return for a second time onto the film set – in the
    hope that it will “work” this time!

  27. 3.14e-9

    Re: We Leave the Milkweed Standing

    I’ve been meaning to send an “on-the-ground” report of this trend in my village in Upstate New York – very different from an encounter I had during my first summer here three years ago when, while out on daily walk, I saw a homeowner ripping milkweed out of flower beds. I stopped and politely gave him the milkweed lecture, to which he replied angrily that they were invasive and ruining his wife’s extensive landscaping.

    This summer, I’ve seen them in at least five front-yard displays. The neighbors down the street have an envious summer display of daylilies, daisies, Echinacea, and black-eyed Susans. Well, lo and behold, I noticed that there’s milkweed this year. Given the unlikelihood that the seeds blew in and landed exactly in the right spot, I’m guessing that the neighbors not only left the milkweed standing, but put them there intentionally.

    My own milkweeds are growing like … well, weeds. I dug them up from along the railroad tracks last year, and while they didn’t flower, they survived the winter (full garden report with details and photos being prepared for Lambert).

    And too often the grassy verges of North American highways and parks where milkweed flourishes get mown to smithereens, interrupting the monarchs’ breeding cycle.

    Which reminds me, I’ve had a link in my “stuff to send Lambert” file that addresses this very issue:

    Evaluating the Suitability of Roadway Corridors for Use by Monarch Butterflies, National Cooperative Highway Research Program, Research Report 942 (2020)

    The following link is for a webinar presented by the Transportation Research Board on June 3. It includes some information about the program, a link to the webinar slides, and a link to the full report. From there, you can download the entire 208-page report in PDF or select individual chapters (email address required).

    1. John k

      One of the neighbors planted two milkweed plants. Monarchs noticed and moved in, at least three waves of caterpillars chomping the weeds and subsequently moving into their little cocoons, then magically emerging as beautiful butterflies, maybe 2-3 dozen per wave. They would sit in the am waiting for their wings to dry, then off in the pm.

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