Links 8/25/2020

Cat v panel heater: Which is better? OneRoof (Mark T). News you can use!

Tiny Elephant Shrew Resurfaces After More Than 50 Years On Lost Species List NPR (Kevin W). Hah, it was “lost” in the other sense of the word….

Mantis Shrimp Have The Ocean’s Fastest Punch. Now We Know How Their Claws Survive Science Alert. Chuck L: “More amazing stuff about the mantis shrimp: Mantis Shrimp Can See Cancer Before Symptoms Appear.”

Jordan Grider died while camping alone in the Boundary Waters. Was he devoured by wolves? Duluth News Tribune (Chuck L)

Could Planet 9 be a primordial black hole? PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Earth Appears to Be Travelling Through The Debris of Ancient Supernovae ScienceAlert (Kevin W)

A Tiny Space Rock Holds Clues About the Evolution of Life engadget

Paris: ‘World’s largest urban rooftop farm’ in progress – BBC. Resilc: “People in Cairo have done this for decades. We used to see livestock on roofs in the 80s………” Moi: “By contrast, a tourist attraction in the US.”

‘Black Suns’ at Louvre Lens: Coal mines transformed into gift shops PeoplesWorld

Children Raised In Greener Areas Have Higher IQ, Study Finds Guardian. So there was upside to growing up in small towns. Or not? The study was limited to “greener urban areas”.


Usain Bolt tests positive for COVID-19 Punch


Dutch, Belgian patients ‘reinfected with coronavirus’ RTE. Uh oh.


Long delays at U.S.-Mexico border crossings after new travel restrictions Reuters


Germany’s New Coronavirus Infections Close to Four-Month High Bloomberg

French naturist camp hit by ‘very worrying’ Covid outbreak Guardian


In India, coronavirus has created a ‘crisis within a crisis’ by bringing migration abroad to a halt The Scroll (J-LS)


What Travel Will Look Like After Coronavirus Wall Street Journal

Why China’s commercial property market’s resilience amid the coronavirus pandemic shouldn’t be taken at face value South China Morning Post


NO THANK EU! Brussels throws out Britain’s Brexit blueprint & urges EU nations to remain ‘cold blooded’ as deadline looms The Sun

Whitehall gets ready for no-deal Brexit and coronavirus second wave The Times. And a rain of frogs too?

The Irish Sea border means chaos looms, even with a Brexit deal Guardian

Old Blighty

Over 60 million chickens in England and Wales rejected over disease and defects Guardian

Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.) 250BPM. Vlade is back from holiday and now we know what he missed while he was away.

New Cold War

Jared Kushner made a deal with Russia for ventilators, but every machine was faulty, report says Business Insider (resilc)


India must treat the oil spill near Mauritius as SoS. Lockdown has left seafarers exhausted The Print (J-LS)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Bridgefy, the Messenger Promoted For Mass Protests, Is a Privacy Disaster ars technica. As Lambert would put it, they say it as if it’s a bad thing.

Trump Transition

Trump officials delay key permit for Alaska’s Pebble Mine Washington Post. UserFriendly: “LOL. What would it take to get Trump JR to go fishing everywhere they want to drill for oil?”

President Trump’s attempt to bypass Congress on stimulus is offering only limited economic relief Washington Post. UserFriendly: “It’s a sick sad world where the fact that rich people are doing well is evidence that no more help is needed.”

2020. I am leaving the Republican Convention to Lambert’s Water Cooler but feel free to discuss among yourselves in comments.

Trump wields California power woes to attack Biden Politico (Kevin W)

Hat tip Barry Ritholtz, via resilc:

Thanks, Obama: You Lie Counterpunch

The Only Thing ‘The Simpsons’ Predicted Is Our Stupidity Vice

Jerry Falwell Jr. says his wife had an affair with the Florida ‘pool boy,’ claims they were being blackmailed The Week (Dr. Kevin). Another version of this story got some attention in comments. Honestly the only reason this merits notice is top evangelicals are political figures.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Wisconsin Governor deploys National Guard to Kenosha after protests break out in wake of brutal police shooting WSWS

‘We Want Justice’: Mass Demonstrations and Marches Erupt Nationwide to Protest Police Shooting of Jacob Blake Common Dreams

Kenosha burns: BLM protesters set light to department of corrections building and local businesses while looters run riot for second night in defiance of the National Guard deployed to restore order following Jacob Blake police shooting Daily Mail. The headline and ordering of the pix is obviously slanted, but there are many images.

California Burning

A visual essay of California’s record-setting fire season SF Chronicle

Abandoned by authorities, these fire-threatened towns set up their own FEMA-like response Los Angeles Times

2,000-year-old redwoods survive wildfire at California’s oldest state park NBC (David L)

Fires trigger historic shutdown of Greater Bay Area parks, with up to 200 closures SF Chronicle

Are U.S. Utilities About To Become Politicized? OilPrice (resilc). Much better than the headline.

After Beirut, ports around the world searched for dangerous chemicals. Some didn’t like what they found. MSN (Kevin W)

What Is Yield Curve Control? St. Louis Fed. Userfriendly: “Fed admits it can set the yield on bonds.”

Opinion: Nouriel Roubini says reports of the dollar’s demise are greatly exaggerated MarketWatch (resilc)

Facebook To Pay More Than $110 Million In Back Taxes In France Reuters

The Bezzle

Chinese-Made Smartphones Are Secretly Stealing Money From People Around the World BuzzFeed

It’s called vomit fraud. And it could make your Uber trip really expensive Chicago Tribune (Robert M). Another reason never to use Uber.

Class Warfare

‘Funk Money’: The End of Empires, The Expansion of Tax Havens, and Decolonization as an Economic and Financial Event Oxford Academic (Chuck L)

Antidote du jour. Please extend your sympathies. Stephen T:

A couple of weeks ago, I lost my cat Maxi. She was tremendously dear to me, and I wish to honor her by asking you to include the attached photo of her as an Antidote on NC. I miss her terribly. It’s a picture from back in the day, when she was young and still had most of her 15 years, 10 months ahead of her. Not after lymphoma had taken away so much of her vitality (though she was still beautiful, and always will be). It’s how I want to remember her, and how I feel everyone should see her, and know what I lost when the only creature who ever truly loved me passed away.

And a bonus video (David L):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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  1. Redlife2017

    I give you this link from Yasha Levine on the RNC’s 1st Night: Amen to the New Founding Fathers…and Mothers. Purge 2020!

    And Nancy Pelosi is no slouch in the eliminationist rhetoric:

    We take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. And sadly, the domestic enemies to our voting system and honoring our Constitution are right at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with their allies in the Congress of the United States. But again, let’s just get out there and mobilize, organize, and not let the President deter anybody from voting. And again, support the postal system which is election central,” Pelosi said.

    “They’re doing everything they can, suppress the vote — with your actions, scare people, intimidate by saying law enforcement will be there, diminish the role of the postal system in all of this. It’s really actually shameful. Enemies of the state,” Pelosi continued.

    I watched this movie before…This does not end well…

      1. The Rev Kev

        Fun fact – Kimberly Guilfoyle was once married to Gavin Newsom, California’s governor. It’s a small world at the top.

      2. Redlife2017

        I watched the whole Kim Guilfoyle speech. My gods. She’s quite good at building up to a hysteric pitch. The reverence to the Purge movies (in particular the one released July 2016 – Purge: Election Year) is even more accurate.

        I’ll note – Kimberly is the ex-wife of current Democratic California govenor, Gavin Newsom. (edit: I see the good Rev beat me to that little factoid!)

        2020 – the year where there is nothing that can be a surprise…

        1. Pavel

          Speaking of how small a world it is at the top… Saagar on The Rising just did a segment on how the absolute worst of the Republicans — warmongers, kleptocrats, Ratheon lobbyists, CIA/NSA spymasters etc — are endorsing Biden.

          The DNC is taking the worst of the Obama years and adding the worst of the GW Bush years to create the most horrific Democrat ticket ever. I’m old enough to remember when “liberal” Dems thought Colin Powell was a war criminal. Now he is speaking at the DNC convention.

          Considering Biden/Harris will just continue the warmongering and crony capitalism, it might be better for Trump to win again, thus destroying (finally) the neo-liberal DNC and perhaps the Repubs as well. Might be.

          1. Redlife2017


            Yes, this is where I feel rather lost as to where to put my vote. I’m trying to decern what is best for the medium-term prospects for the US, but the present is so murky that it is hard to see the best choice.

            Is “going back to the way it was” pre-2016 actually a worse thing then having Trump? It could be! Who are the fascists? I mean Day 1 of the RNC has clear Fascist overtones. Yet, look at who is going all out on a Biden presidency – the worst neo-con Republicans from Bush II and other assorted deep state / secret police actors who are the types that run fascist dictatorships (very Pinochet). Or perhaps Trump is the fascist and Biden is like the front to some sort of technocratic authoritarian Oligarchy secret police state that wants to power project beyond US borders. I get the feeling that we get to have horror no matter what. But which one can we get rid of fastest with the least amount of pain?

            I wrestle with this…

          2. Procopius

            I’m old enough to remember when “liberal” Dems thought Colin Powell was a war criminal.

            I suspect I’m older than you, and I still think he’s a war criminal.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Terrifying to hear The Biden at the DNC “Convention” when he raged “No more cozying up to foreign dictators!!!”

              He had *that* gleam in his eyes when he said this, and *that* gleam from a man with such a tenuous grasp of reality and such a troubled relationship with the truth absolutely chilled me.

              So come January we’ll be flinging freedom bombs on places like Caracas and Damascus. But the bombs will be painted pink and rainbow and will have little #BLM stickers on them, so killing brown women and children will be just AOK.

          3. Foy

            Yep agreed Pavel, I think it is better for the true working class Democrats in the long run for Trump to win again. That way there might, there just might be the possibility of the party returning to represent the working class. The plane has to crash into the ground for any new ‘safety’ rules to come into play. They will only learn, and people will only change the party if it well and truly crashes. They are running the same scam as with Hillary Clinton in 2016 and if they win, the neo-liberals, neo-cons and elites will only consolidate further. There is no other way for change to happen and the party to be overturned I think.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              The Catfood Democrat Party is clue-proof and learning-immune. It will never be a pro-working class party ever again.

              If people want a working class party, they will have to exterminate the Democratic Party from existence and wipe it off the face of the earth. Then working class party-wanters can try building a party in the vacated space . . . if they are prepared to “exterminate” every legacy democrat which tries to infiltrate that space.

              The current Captain Queeg madness of President Trump makes the decision to vote for Trump more difficult. The Trump agenda includes filling the air with cancer gas, the water with cancer juice , and all the food with cancer gravy. He also wants to destroy the Postal Service so fast that the Catfood Democrats have to pretend to be concerned about it.

              So what to do . . .

              1. JBird4049

                She must be joking.

                After watching the clip of Nancy “The Eliminator” Pelosi, I felt like it was time to run, run, runaway to the hills. But they are still on fire nearby. It’ll have to wait.

                As to the Democratic Party going the way of the American Whig Party, it could happen, but the Republican Party has its own problems, which are like the Democrats’. The Donald is the smoke hiding them.

                I anticipate that just like the DNC trying to sabotage reformist Democratic candidates running against Republicans, the Republicans will do what they can to keep their “Opposition” on life support. Keeping the money making grift going is what they see their job as. Both parties are not interested in winning or governing, nor are they truly cognizant of the increasing suffering and resulting pressure for change either peacefully or in revolution. They just want the perks and the money and the current system with its two in one party is good for that.

                I personally think that it’s 60-70% chance for our version of the Tennis Court or another Lexington Green and 30-40% chance of a successful reform movement or an acceptable Constitutional Convention.

            2. Buckeye

              Uh, the “plane has to crash into the ground” !? The plane that’s crashing is the United States of America, and the people being killed for your working-class-point-scoring exercise are THE AMERICAN PEOPLE! You…me…those people over there…us.

              Submitting to tyranny so the working class can get it’s butt kissed is absolutely immoral…unforgiveable.

              1. Foy

                Didn’t explain myself properly. If Dems get in this time, obviously there will be no change, and then the Repubs will have to get in again and then the Dems again, for any change to happen so that will be min 8 years but more like 12-16 years before any change happens.

                If losing two elections in a row to Trump doesn’t repudiate their current approach and cause change from within, or at least someone from outside coming in and taking over the Democrats, or young people joining and taking it over then nothing will.

                So the party has to crash for two elections for the change to happen. Yep bad stuff happens for another 4 years if that occurs, the working class are tyrannised now as it is, but after that with a new approach and people there may be hope. Now there is none and if the Dems get in now there will be still none. But obviously it doesn’t guarantee to change in another 4 years but there would be more hope than now I feel. 4 years vs 12-16 years.

          4. pasha

            there are, i believe, valid arguments that can be made for voting for no one, voting third party, even voting for biden. but a vote for trump appears to be a vote for nihilism. please explain yourself

          5. Sy Krass

            You people are a–holes, he will destroy the Republic… shame on all of you…I’m thoroughly disgusted…

          6. vidimi

            given that the Democrats are the true obstacle for the left (there is always going to be a right wing party), i have to agree – especially since there is no compelling policy reason to vote for biden since he isn’t offering anything different except for “decency”

  2. Clive

    Re: Schools Reopening, Risk

    This is a difficult one. I was discussing this with my next-door neighbour who is a teaching assistant. The school where she works has done some initial evaluations of the first grade (“Reception” here) and Year 1 children who have not been in school since March. They are noticeably behind in spoken language ability (let alone reading, writing and arithmetic). And there are some language skills which you can only really learn in childhood to get natural, reflexive proficiency in — think about how you know the difference and when to use “a” and “the” for example.

    But then, no-one ever got sick from having less-than-perfect speaking ability — so where is the risk\reward in that one suppose to sit? And what have parents been doing, or not doing, more’s to the point, by way of home-schooling? These basic language and reading skills are not difficult to grasp — although education and being an educator is not a trivial task; being able to effectively develop knowledge learning in others especially younger children is a huge responsibility and needs training and practice to do well, so parents can’t be expected to master this in short order. So I do appreciate it’s not as easy as it sounds. Are, though, parents really taking enough responsibility?

    The other consideration is that a lot of parents are (no that this ev-ah gets spoken about in the mainstream media, but it is a significant concern) absolutely at their wits’ end with having to look after their children and are desperate to get rid of them for the few hours of the day they are in formal education. Continuing to force parents to look after — let alone school — their children for an indefinite length of time is going to start doing psychological damage to both if there’s no end in sight.

    But over-arching all this, when did it become — and why is it that — looking after your children and giving them some simple teaching is apparently such a monumental chore for parents today and how come children have suddenly become such a load of unbiddable, recalcitrant nightmares that having someone, anyone, take them off your hands for a while is all that stands between you and your sanity? My own mother was that much-deplored (now, in our culture anyway) and derided of things, the 1970’s stay-at-home mom. She taught me to read and write (the basics anyway) before I started formal schooling, some practical skills such as making models, a few technical things like electricity and magnetism (she wasn’t really a science sort, but she got ideas for what to do with your children from TV shows and books) and good introduction to plants (where they grow) animals (where you see them and where you don’t) and the built environment (why is that thing there in that place and why does it look like it does). It wasn’t much effort (or it it was, it was an effort which could be made) because she didn’t have to work full time — or at all. She was I think happy when we started formal schooling, but at the same time sad to lose that time with us.

    I don’t pretend to know what the answer is. But I do get the distinct impression that, as a society, we do not discuss education, childcare, the quality of childhood and what trade-offs are good and what aren’t worth the price in anything like sufficient depth.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      It sound like you had an excellent mother. Even back then, I don’t think that many mothers were that resourceful, although my recollection is on the whole, they were way less anxious about parenting.

        1. cocomaan

          The image of scarcity drives a lot of these decisions, I think. The apparent scarcity of knowledge industry jobs and the dismissal of anything resembling blue collar scares the daylights out of people. So they shield their children in order to make sure that the kids getting out of school have the best chance at a good job. Bureaucratic checkboxes are ticked (pass this test, pass that test) at the expense of the kid’s mental health.

          1. ambrit

            Yes to this.
            Credentialism does not affect one’s abilities, just the recompense offered for one’s use of said abilities.
            Gatekeeping is the crucial function in complex societies.

            1. DJG


              You said it: Especially in the U S of A, it’s all about the gatekeeping.

              Like social class in general in the U S of A, though, no one is willing to talk about the endless gatekeeping. Yet there is a whole class, mainly upper-middle, of gatekeepers. There jobs are pointless, otherwise.

              Which makes me wonder how the gatekeeping class will adapt to save themselves during the current continuing catastrophe.

              1. ambrit

                So, earning something near to a lower middle class wage when most non-credentialed jobs earn below lower middle class wages is not an incentive?
                Otherwise, I’m forced to drop back on ‘Status’ as a driver for the pursuit of credentials. The illusion of being a small part of the ‘Elites’ is a strong driver of credential seeking behaviour.
                I’ll also throw out the divide inside the field between people who actually teach things to students and administrators.
                Adding, there are many subjects now taught in an education setting that are, really, trades. The increase in the requirements for credentials for formerly “learn on the job” subjects is a basic function of economic gatekeeping. It is also a side ‘front’ in the class war. Creeping credentialism increases the amount of time spent indoctrinating and propagandizing the workers into submission to the status quo.

      1. ShamanicFallout

        I grew up in the 70s too with a mom like this. I think they were less anxious because it was definitely much easier to let your kids play in the neighborhood without supervision, ride your bikes everywhere, play in the woods etc. There were no ‘playdates’ and other monsters of helicopter parenting. I know this sounds like one of those ‘it was better in my day’, but when it comes to this, it was definitely better

        1. sj

          +100. I used to say that my Dad would have been happy if he could have raised us in rubber rooms with no electrical outlets and nothing to trip over. But today’s helicopter parents make him look like an amateur.

    2. Jen

      Many of my co-workers are trying to balance working from home with parenting, and now, de-facto home schooling. Stay at home parenting is not the same as work from home parenting. To a one, my co-workers feel like their not doing a good job at anything. When both parents work from home, they can at least take turns looking after the kids. One of my co-workers is married to a nurse who’s been working flat out at the local hospital since the pandemic broke out. They have two boys under the age of 10, and yes, having someone take them off her hands for a few hours is all that stands between her and her sanity. That said, they all have misgivings about schools reopening.

      1. L

        I have to second this. My spouse and I are fortunate that we have flexible enough schedules that one off us can be off duty each day to actually work. But that is all. This means that every day we work till 1-2am just to keep up with our work and we have limited time to manage other things. And with 2 kids, if one is having a meltdown or school challenges the other is on their own.

        Personally it is not that I want them “taken off my hands” it is that the water is at my nostrils and I know it isn’t going down. I do not want them to be parked in front of a TV and I do want them developing the kind of social and personal skills they built up playing with friends. I give them some of that, but only so much.

        And as a side point I worry about the basic learning that comes from play and exploration. I am not one of those parents who has built a complete playground in the backyard so they literally have not been on monkey bars or a slide in months. Yes we can run around the house or go (when there is time) out to the woods, but most of the time it is pretty constrained because most of the places are not safe. As a result they are not getting that kind of stimulation either and I can see how it is affecting them.

        It’s a hell off a bind and I really do want schools open for their sake and mine. But, only when it is safe and since our state is still fighting a civil war over masks for adults then how good are they with kids in class?

          1. polecat

            Or maybe take some big steps back in time, to small school houses .. where children actually learned stuff .. and helped each other – across gradel levels. Of course, that would mean holding a completely different mindset .. from the kids .. and expectations from the people hired to instruct them.
            Anymore, public school systems are but factories to churn out low denominators. This has been on-going since at least the 70’s! Just look at questions from virtually any exam sheet from say, circa 1900 .. vs today!!

            It’s ALL ‘Teach to the Test’ .. without much, if any, emphasis on practical hands-on skillsets. Just ride that fedloan horse straight into the burning College Stable, right?
            Get the Federal Government out of the business of education. They’ve failed, completely!

            1. juno mas

              Federal funds comprise about 10% of California’s K-12 budget. Most of the federal money is spent on special Ed.

            2. pasha

              i attended such a school in the fifties, in a rural-turning-suburb area: one teacher per classroom, as many as five — and never less than two — classes to a room. you are spot on: learning across grade levels is a very real thing. it depends on dedicated teachers, tho, and perhaps on stay-at-home moms, and dads who could support a family on one income.

              i know correlation is not causation, but most of these kids went on to graduate from college, many of them the first in their family to do so; many got advanced degrees. (of course, college was practically free back then and carried deferment from the draft!)

              those conditions no longer obtain

          2. Rod

            another solution falls out of the bleachers–again–
            right there in your neighborhood(street/apartment/road/etc)–in conjunction with the PS system–maybe kinda ‘one room’ settings(inside or outside as necessary) with designated Teacher from the District assigned to facilitate and with Parents figuring out how to cover gaps and each other in the transition…

            1. HotFlash

              That’s exactly what is happening with a little private school in my neighbourhood. It grew out of a cooperative daycare that the parents on my tiny two-block-long street set up when the kids were babies and the parents are pretty well all on the same page, so they have more flexibility than the regular schools, which have to deal with school boards, teachers’ unions, and parent-teacher organizations. The kids I talked with were excited to get back to school, their schoolmates are already in their bubble, as are most of the parents now. I was involved with the school when the headmaster/teacher was trying to build a bicycle generator, but didn’t know of the connection to my street. My young neighbours (2 @ 10 yo’s and a 7yo) tell me that class will be out of doors except in very bad weather, including as far into the cold weather as they can manage. They already do a lot of nature study, so that’ll work out well. The kids are quite knowledgable on medicinal and edible wild plants and stop by most days to graze in my (mostly edible) front garden. Good kids.

          3. ambrit

            If you can forge a modus vivendi with them, look up your local Evangelical community. A lot of the Homeschooling Movement is populated and run by religious ‘auslanderin.’ I remember swapping copies of our New York State arithmetic books for A-Beka texts. (I got several copies of the NYS texts when they became available. We had extra copies.)
            The Homeschooling Movement in Louisiana back in the seventies and eighties was definitely a ‘United Front’ styled phenomenon.

    3. Ella

      It’s parenting (and now teaching) with full time jobs. That’s the struggle.

      Even for those who could feasibly quit and get by for a bit, it’s too big a risk. No healthcare, no guarantee of getting back in workforce. Almost certain guarantee of lower future income.

      It’s a huge mess. No sugar coating it.

      1. Clive

        Women do tell me, when I ask “is it worth it, really?” that, for women in particular (although I do now suspect it’s an equal opportunities kicking to the curb), if you dare to take even five years out the workplace — let alone eight to ten — you can forget all about the idea of ever working in a higher profession capacity ever again. Even entry level jobs are tricky because it’s assumed you don’t have any residual “work ethic” after spending “so long” without the “discipline” of working.

        Bad. On every level going.

        1. Ella

          Bingo. And even though I’m in a stable relationship, I’m in no way risking my financial wellbeing because who knows what future holds. that’s an unwise move. So we’re in a bind for sure. Slowly drowning from the responsibilities and pressures.

          1. Rod

            i certainly empathize, as a Parent and Educator
            but i have to ask myself–What is best for the Future??
            and children are our Future
            and we are (supposed to be) modeling priorities and behaviors for them to emulate as adults…

            It’s a huge mess. No sugar coating it.
            yes it is.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              And yet the experts tell us that just keeping schools closed until January will cost students 4% of their entire lifetime earning power.

              For those like Herr Biden saying “we need to shut it all down again!!”, as though a decision like that has absolutely no costs.

              1. pasha

                if everyone shuts down, so that no one “gets left behind,” the 4% loss of earning metric does not apply. if everyone is losing 4% then no one is really losing 4%.

                during world war two, huge numbers of european students effectively went without education for years at a time. as i recall, postwar studies conducted in london found the kids did pretty well bouncing back in the forties and fifties (granted, in a job-rich environment).

        2. HotFlash

          Back when I was in high school, there was a nation-wide competition in the US called the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow. It was a written test, with a multiple choice part (What does denier refer to? Which of these would you use to remove a grease stain? If you halve this recipe, how much baking soda do you use?) and an essay part. In 1966 the essay question was, “Is it possible for a woman to be a homemaker and have a career?” It was a novel question back then.

          Fast forwarding to 2020, it is pretty well impossible for a woman to not be a homemaker *and* have a career, or at least a job. We need the money. In my childhood neighbourhood (4 blocks in each direction), I only know of four women who worked. One did not have a visible husband, another was married with no children (w/benefit of hindsight, she may have been his beard — v nice people, though, and well-liked in the ‘hood), the other two only started working when they were widowed.

          Why is this? Well, the main reason is that they didn’t have to. One income, whether salary or paycheque, was enough. My next door neighbours, wife at home, paid their mortgage, lots of food on the table, 5 kids, had a car (only needed one), and a boat. He was a machinist at one of the local big-three-auto-industry feeder shops and could fix *anything*. His company had an annual picnic — way cool!! — and also paid their employee’s kids college tuition. True! And very normal, back in that day. I am pretty sure that his company paid for his family’s medical as well, as my dad’s company did for us. Other neighbours maybe had a cottage, or (very rare) took vacations to Florida, Land of Legend and Live Mermaids.

          So what happened? Wages and salaries have been suppressed. Housing prices have skyrocketed. The 10:1 percent have stolen the incomes of women for the past 50 years. Now two incomes are absolutely required to keep a roof over heads, and even that is often not enough. THEY are why we can’t have nice things anymore.

    4. a different chris

      Yes the inability to push children off to somebody else is a problem. It’s not really selfish “me time”, it is a necessary requirement for mental stability. Even when we could have one-income families, grandparents were a major source of offloading for many, maybe most. Society has to help (yeah, it does “take a village”, sigh) but of course this is so difficult in a pandemic.

      However, on the flip side:

      >They are noticeably behind in spoken language ability (let alone reading, writing and arithmetic).

      Who cares? We live almost 80 years now. Let the kids take a year off. So everybody finishes high school at 19, not 18. So what. We can’t get the oldsters to make room for them in the workplace anyway.

      Why does everybody have to hit all these marks across basically 1/7 (age 6 to 18) of their life?

      1. L

        As to your question, because they need to get out into the world at the same age and interact at the same age. Also the brain retains different levels of plasticity for certain kinds off learning as people age, even as kids move up, some things like language can take more time to grasp. That is why early education in a second language is better.

        1. cocomaan

          This seems much more like bureaucratic reasoning than an actual reason.

          Schools prior to this pandemic were awful, grinding places, full of standardized testing, pat downs, and badly structured learning. Can anyone honestly say that a graduate in 2019 was better prepared for the world than one from thirty years ago? Do they know more? Are they more emotionally mature? More knowledgeable? I don’t think we’ve made much progress on that front. We might even be backsliding.

          1. Laputan

            You seem to be laying a lot at the feet of education. I would say it’s not really the school’s function to provide emotional maturity, nor are the kids any less knowledgeable today than they were 30 years ago. Recent graduates are definitely less likely to land a decent job but that’s hardly the fault of the school system.

            Not that there aren’t a myriad of issues w/r/t education. Those issues, however,are mostly symptoms of broader social dysfunctions like atomization, gutting resources for public goods, the general dumbing down of the culture, etc. It’s not like schools exist in some sort of vacuum.

          2. Kurt Sperry

            Agreed fully. Whether the current generation of students graduate at 18 or 19 or 20 (or whatever the age) will hardly matter ten years from now. And to the extent it does, it shouldn’t. People freaking out about adding a year or two to their educational process is baseless and hysterical. Total entitled, precious, first-world problem.

          3. wilroncanada

            Thirty years ago they (you) were saying the same thing about 60 years ago. I was a teen then, and I heard it all!
            As an aside: judging by the number of people posting here in the “thirty years ago” generation who can’t differentiate among “their,” “there,” and “they’re,” I suspect something lacking back then too.

        2. Clive

          Yes, as a second language learner comparatively later in life (and then not that late, like my early twenties) I for one am convinced there are some elements of language which not only can only be learned to true proficiency and mark the difference between “native level” speech but there is a short-ish window of childhood development after which time it is extremely difficult to gain that automatic, unthinking mastery. What, at best, you replace it with is a conscious evaluative understanding and, in conversations especially, that mental processing (as opposed to it “just popping into your head”) is what marks the difference between real fluency and an inevitable degree of clunkiness.

          In Japanese, to demonstrate what I mean, there are two grammatical “helpers” that don’t have an equivalent in English. They are likened to post-prepositions. は (ha, pronounced “wah”) kind-of marks the subject of the topic — a rather laboured translation is “as for”, as in “[…] as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”. が (ga) marks the subject of the very but also has a lot of other uses including “but”, “or”, adding emphasis and marking contradiction.

          When I come to assemble a sentence in Japanese, I can recall vocabulary, conjugate my verbs and try to make correct syntax, mostly in real time, but then when I need to reach for the absolutely crucial (in most sentences) は or が (which a Japanese native speaker just knows) I add a few milliseconds mental convolutions on top of everything else I’ve got to think of. No matter how much I learn or how much I hear, I will never manage that kind of instant recall and use-case databank which a Japanese person has.

          Sometimes the whole edifice comes crashing down on top of me and I have to umm- and err- and make on-the-fly grammatical repairs. Which has true native speakers usually smiling and giving me a mental pat-on-the-head with a reassuring internal thought “see, Japanese really is hard, it’s impossible for foreigners to do properly”. To which they are right — we lack, almost invariably, that early years schooling and interactions with other kids who help us to acquire this knowledge through play and other settings.

          1. JEHR

            You are so right. By the time I knew how important it was to have a second language (French), I was way past learning any other language fluently. I took numerous courses and had many teachers but was finally frustrated at learning another language as an adult. It is a big regret for me which I tried to ameliorate by studying English Literature for many years (part-time).

            1. Kurt Sperry

              Being “fluent” to the extent one might be mistaken as a native speaker is mostly about vanity though. it’s hardly important to effectively communicate. Maybe if you are a professional real-time voice translator it might matter. Or not.

            2. Kurt Sperry

              Don’t give up. I never knew a word of Italian until I was fifty, and I can now, a decade later, effectively communicate in the language. And this is just informal, casual, part-time autodidactic learning, not even serious study.

              It might be impossible for an adult to become fluent to the extent you absolutely cannot be distinguished from a native speaker, but that’s unimportant. My theory is that children learning their first language easily is far more to do with *needing to* to get anything and everything they want on a moment to moment basis being 100% dependent on it. Typical dilettante second language learners will never get that kind of 24/7 instantaneous strong reward feedback. Also those second language learners almost never are immersed in anywhere near the depth of children in their first language.

              I suppose there is some basis for the “plasticity of young minds” argument, but I’d bet money it’s overstated, and I’m not sure it’s possible to disentangle it from the factors I allude to above. Put an adult in a total immersion situation where they get *nothing* without learning how to ask for it, like a child learning a language does, and I think you’ll see that adult learning the language similarly quickly/easily to a child learning its first language. Necessity is the best teacher.

              1. Laputan

                Italian is one of the easiest languages to learn. Learning it has almost zero relevance to learning Japanese and has fully zero relevance to language apprehension during cognitive development.

                I’m agreement that reaching whatever benchmark by X years is arbitrary and is primarily used as a way to separate the “slow” learners from the rest of the pack. But why choose for kids to go a full year with no school when we have the resources for remote learning now? Sounds like a case of making the perfect the enemy of the good.

            3. jonboinAR

              Well, an ancient conversation I bring up occasionally. It must have been about 1968. My 5th grade teacher began teaching us rudimentary Spanish. During Spanish lesson she told us that the best time in one’s life for learning a new language is very early. Smarty-pants me pipes up:
              “So why didn’t they start teaching us a foreign language in kindiegarden or first grade?”
              “You were too young.”
              True story. In 5th grade I was like, “What the h…?”

            4. Yves Smith Post author

              This is a big failing of American schooling. I think Piaget found the language-learning years to be 3 to 7. I can’t think of a school that offers a second language to a first grader.

          2. pasha

            many studies showing that learning a second language after puberty is much harder than learning it in primary years. k-8 “language immersion schools” have proven their validity

          1. jonboinAR

            My mom taught me to read before I was 5. I was way ahead of the other kids for a long time.

        3. HotFlash

          they need to get out into the world at the same age and interact at the same age

          Why? Sorting, grading, tracking, teaching children based on biological age and not on the child’s actual abilities, interests, and requirements is counterproductive, stupid, and lazy. Although typical. Your addendum about second language is correct, but AFAICT, irrelevant to this discussion.

    5. David

      I’m inclined to agree. Like most of my generation and class, my education after about age six or seven was overwhelmingly at the hands of the school and the local library, and heaven alone knows how I would have managed later in life if I’d been subject to this kind of disruption.
      It’s interesting the degree to which the argument is different in Europe, where most countries see the re-opening of schools as urgent. In France, the schools were open for the last two weeks of term, and large number of young children have been at day-centres during the summer, with, to date, no obvious effects on the spread of the disease.
      For what it’s worth, from asking around and from the media:
      Doctors and psychologists are becoming very worried about the effects on children of being continually at home. They are getting lonely and depressed, and health problems, for them and their parents, are becoming increasingly a worry. TV and video games are being used as comforters.
      The problems are much greater, obviously, as you go down the socio-economic ladder. Twenty to twenty-five percent of French households have no broadband internet access, so it’s impossible to do home schooling, or even reading and research, and even keeping in touch with the school is problematic. France has a large population of first-generation migrant families from early everywhere, and many of the parents don’t speak French. In parts of large cities, the majority of children in the class are from families where French is not spoken at home, and have to struggle desperately to keep up as it is. Already, 20% of French children at age 11 are functionally illiterate, and this can only make the situation worse. If you deliberately wanted to turn out a new generation of drug dealers and jihadists, you couldn’t do much better than this.
      Because of the timing of the lockdown, hundreds of thousands of children simply never completed the school year and have completely dropped out of the system. They have no qualifications and no recognition.
      None of this, of course, matters much to the privileged middle classes, whose children attend private schools (many of which stayed open) and are comfortably accommodated at home with remote tutoring and everything. And all they need from the next generation of nannies and gardeners is the rudiments of an education. The situation isn’t helped by the teaching unions. (Teachers are civil servants in France, and have been on full pay all along.) The unions have been complaining about the risk to their members when teaching restarts on 2 September, but it was acidly pointed out that they are only being asked to accept the same risks as supermarket cashiers and workers on public transport – less, probably.
      Because education is a cause historically associated with the Left and Republicanism in France, the silly sub-Ivan lllich rhetoric about education as ideological oppression has never had much influence. But there is, nonetheless, an unusually stark divide between the middle classes who can manage quite well, thank you, and the rest of the population, that can’t.

      1. Olivier

        One more reason not to suffer migrants to come, much less invite them. When will this madness stop?

        1. Clive

          A BBC “good news story” which is of course only there to further a narrative-influencing agenda but Taylor Swift gave a donation to this migrant so she could study mathematics at university.

          Given the awful state of the place, what I think we could do with is a boatload (or several cruise-ships’ worth) of “them”. A few tens of thousands of STEM world-class scholars like her would do wonders for the moribund state of the UK’s talent base. And I’ll take, too, as many HK migrants which China is successfully able to alienate form their home country to bring their bilingual (English and Mandarin) mastery, strong social-fabric bonds, demonstrable willingness to fight for democracy and commercial acumen to the country. Lacking, as we do, pretty much all of these in abundance.

          No “suffering” there for anyone, if that’s the offer people are willing to make us. We will, I think, in the years ahead need everything we can get by way of new thinking and talent that can be brought to our shores.

          1. David

            Point of interest: there’s been an Indo-Chinese community in France for some decades and they integrate well and intermarry (my last doctor was Vietnamese). More recently mainland Chinese have arrived, and also started to integrate very well. They aren’t the people I would be so worried about now. The problem is that refugees and asylum seekers come in families or small groups from all over the world, and tend to get settled in relatively poor areas where there is already a high percentage of immigrants. So a class of eleven year olds might include a Chechen, an Afghan, a Sudanese, a Syrian, a Colombian etc, who, if they are lucky, will have had a year’s French language teaching from a non-specialist (specialists are in desperately short supply) before being launched into the school system. Such children desperately need all the education they can get.

            1. Kurt Sperry

              The lesson seems obvious: don’t invite immigrants in until you have a rock-solid system in place that 100% ensures they can be given first-class educations, won’t be put into precarious, poverty-stricken circumstances, ghettoized, or exploited as cheap unskilled labor. It’s completely irresponsible to take in immigrants without also providing the resources they require to succeed.

    6. Amfortas the hippie

      yet another way that wife and i are anomalous, i guess,lol.
      when eldest was born, both of us were working, and we tried leaving him with my mom…but she’s nuts and forceful and is a large part of the reasons for my own psychoemotional instability.
      so into daycare he went…and immediately brought home every little gut bug that was in circulation, because folks don’t or can’t stay home with their sick kid, and therefore share the bug with everybody.
      so i switched to night shift…until my hip gave out.
      then, right about the time youngest was born, i became a housewife.
      my disability made it difficult to lug around kid paraphernalia, so we just stayed on the farm, and they got the socratic method from the get-go.
      they’d ask questions, and get a mess of questions in answer, designed to lead them to figuring out whatever it was.
      by the time of kinder, they were more than ready.
      now, with one a freshman in college and the other a freshman in high school…both virtually…and with the world in chaos and the future full of almost total uncertainty, i’m content to keep them right here on the farm.
      there’s social and emotional development issues, for sure….and i’m particularly worried about the eldest in this regard…but we’re working through it.
      what i think a lot of people are missing in managing this work at home vs parent at home is honesty and trust between themselves and their offspring.
      like privacy…whether it’s alone time to decompress, or having time to bump uglies with one’s co-parent. we tell them we need alone time…and they roll their eyes, and we say “would you rather that we fought all the time?”,lol.
      an open door policy for the important questions…sex and drugs and interpersonal relationships and the often harrowing initial fumbling interactions with young women, or with society as a whole….we’ve maintained a stance of “ask me anything at all”. I know of no one else who has taken this position.
      and it shows, especially in times like this.

      1. ambrit

        We took a similar course, but home schooled our three children. Thankfully, they are all healthy and not in jail.
        What we discovered during the process was that we transmitted our own deficiencies and biases to our children in this setting. I am by no means an advocate of being a “social butterfly,” but there is some good to be gained from a wide social network, given that the parents take that situation seriously. We strictly limited the children’s access to media. All three ended up with “out of the box” personalities. They made their mistakes, but have managed to survive the experiences and deal with the aftereffects.
        One thing we both noticed about the “moderne” approach to PMC style child rearing was the micro-management. How can anyone expect children to grow up healthy and resilient if they deny them the chance to make mistakes?
        Anyway, rant over. We now return you to your regularly scheduled commentary.

    7. Chris

      Most of the teachers I know bristle at the notion that they provide childcare but it’s really a significant part of the service they provide to a community. There aren’t other places to put young people after about age 6 or so unless they’re in school. This is a huge challenge for working families. Teachers do a lot. But the most relevant and immediate service they provide for a family when a child is between 6 and 16 is child care.

      Also worth noting that this is another set of interesting class based outcomes from the twin economic and public health crises we have in the US right now. If you could afford to live in an wealthy suburban area with great schools you didn’t have to budget for additional tutors, daycare, private schools etc. Now you have people who never planned on needing those services who have to fit it in with already large costs of living. Family can’t necessarily help because of the pandemic. Getting a live in nanny is both expensive and not practical for most. And those tax bills for the great schools are still large and still due.

      I wonder if this will lead to the kind of working class solidarity that’s been mentioned on here or if this will lead to further fractures in our society as the formerly very well to do find themselves more exposed than they thought to the breakdown in social services?

    8. Mike in Denver

      Denver Public Schools is starting the year online, with an aim to bring kids back in hybrid model for October. I’m not holding my breath. Anyways – for us it’s not so much we are desperate to be away from them its that we A) have limited time, we both work full time w/ many meetings. B) they really miss seeing their friends everyday. Its a stress on everyone – but we have managed.

    9. Peerke

      Here in my part of AZ, we have online schooling for the foreseeable future. Having two kids one of whom is 1st grade, we were anxious to know what the arrangements were actually going to be. Due to the excessive covid case here in June we guessed it would be online but the actual decision was taken really late. We are lucky in that we work from home since March but other “essential(?)” workers – not sure how they cope if both parents are working (never-mind single parents). I have ended up taking a month of unpaid leave. I knew that getting a first grader to buckle down for online schooling was not a trivial task to be done in parallel to a full time day job. I’m also struck by the non customer friendly nature of the US education system. For example the kid’s breaks are at different times even though they attend the same school. So two different lunch breaks and very early – during prime work meeting time. How would a single parent working from home cope with that? Also it has been pretty parent intensive for the first couple of weeks. There is platform dependence also. Zoom is essential – mission critical in the parlance. In general there are too many systems/platforms involved – quite complex for a first grader.

    10. CitizenSissy

      I, too, was a child of the 1970s, with a much-missed SAHM, During the summer, my sister and I were sent out to play in the morning with the other neighborhood kids, returning only for lunch and dinner. Housewives then had considerably more uninterrupted time. I don’t know how parents cope with the demands of working from home and intensive homeschooling.

      Gotta take issue with you about SAHMs being deplored. Wage erosion requires everyone to be in the workforce. American “Traditional Family Values” notwithstanding, any sort of nonmonetized caring work is completely devalued in American society,

      In Leslie Bennetts’ early aughts book, The Feminine Mistake, she outlined how women who opt out of labor force participation often face dire financial straits or even ruin in the event of death, divorce, breadwinner job loss or disability. She took a raft of crap from reviewers and women who felt their choice to leave the workforce disrespected. Then the financial crisis came, and the women who had opted out found themselves unable to either find a paid position commensurate with their experience if they could find one at all. NYT profiled many of these women in “The Opt-Out Generation wants back in.” Not pretty at all.

  3. DanP66

    1. I am convinced that Trump is going to win in November

    2. I am equally convinced that the riots across the country are going to push people to vote for Trump or not vote for Biden in swing states. Before people will worry about social justice they are going to worry about safety. Just human nature.

    3. I’m further convinced that people are very soon, if they are not already, going to be more concerned about jobs and the economy than they are about COVID. Dying on the streets of hunger is no better than dying of the virus.

    4. I’m also convinced that a lot of democrat controlled cities and states that are letting rioters run wild now will be cracking down hard as soon as the election is over.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The U.N. says that the lockdowns have increased the number of people facing imminent starvation worldwide by 80%. They used the term “Biblical proportions”. But those people are mostly brown, so bad luck.

    1. Martin Oline

      I agree with you. I watched some of Trump’s acceptance speech in 2016 and was amazed by his continual use of “I am the Law and Order candidate” rhetoric. It was straight out of Nixon’s 1972 campaign, when the ‘silent majority’ swept him to re-election by a record vote. I called my brother out in Oregon and encouraged him to watch, telling him, “Er ist ein Ubermench, Jah!”, but he couldn’t be bothered with that nonsense. In 2016 there didn’t seem to be a logic to the Law & Order platform but there is this year. If you put Law & Order into a drinking game you won’t last 10 minutes. I expect to see shock and awe on the faces of pundits on CNN and MSNBC the day after the election. Perhaps the neglected working class who have traditionally voted for the Democrat party will use this opportunity to create a party that represents their interests, as I hold no hopes for reformation within the party.

      1. voteforno6

        All of this unrest is happening on his watch. Is he going to promise to do something when he’s President that the current President isn’t doing?

        1. edmondo

          He doesn’t have to promise anything. Just claim that it will be worse under a Biden Administration. His goal is not to convert Biden voters into Trump voters. That’s not gonna happen. He wins when Biden voters stay home. And he can fdo that by showcasing Biden’s record. Trump should be 50 points behind. Biden can’t break 50% in any battleground poll. I , also, think the Trumpster pulls it out.

          1. Dr. John Carpenter

            You gotta understand the game they’re actually playing, not the one they say they’re playing. The Dems think they can peel off never trump Republicans, which is a fool’s errand. They also think they have the base in the bag, which bit them in 2016 but they’ve chosen to ignore again. The Repubs seem to be focusing on the base and telling the suburban white moms Trump will protect them. It’ll probably work.

            1. L

              I’m not sure it will work in convincing. But in persuading scare surbanites to do nothing… probably.

              The DNC seems determined to lose this race. They are not just taking “the base” for granted they are actively spitting on them and picking up new baggage to boot. I mean I get trying to lure moderate Republicans but… Kasich? Colin Powell?

              Just in case we had forgotten Biden supported the Iraq war, there is Colin Powell to put it back on the table. Even today there are reports of him actively recruiting George W. Bush!

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                “The DNC seems determined to lose this race”
                would you want to inherit this mess?
                better to let trump take the blame, and when there’s a vaccine….or the cashless Reset in in place, more likely…swoop in and lead the “Recovery”(tm).
                I’ve been digging around in Davos, and the utterances thereof…and controlling for Nemesis(who always stalks Hubris== it is not outside the realm of possibility that the masters of the universe are morons)…what i find is worrisome….
                just like after 9-11, a bunch of file cabinets in secure facilities were opened, and out came the Plans for just such a situation.
                will the masters succeed?
                who the hell knows?
                what looks pretty certain to me is chaos, above and below.
                we’ll keep bumping along, opening up, closing down, shedding independence of all kinds in the process, all the while what amounts to the Final Phase of the Enclosures encircles us all.
                all i want…all ive ever wanted, since i was 18 or so…is to get the hell out of the way of whatever krishna wagon or falling edifice threatens.
                a lot will depend on how much the masters can see outside of their bubbles…can they see us at all?
                or are we abstracted into numbers and widgets?
                “interesting times” doesn’t even begin to cover it,lol.

                1. polecat

                  Upon running some errands this last weekend, I passed by what had been, for years, an empty retail building .. which suddenly had transformed into Gun Show City!
                  I was almost taken to stopping in for a looksie, but had to deal with other, more pressing issues.

                  Maybe next time.

                2. Noone from Nowheresville

                  I vote they see as cogs and widgets but also abstracted numbers. Depends on the report and the supporting spreadsheets.

                  Yep, definitely stay under the radar times ahead, starting at least a decade of yesterdays ago.

                  Something seemingly small happened in my nowheresville this last week, it was a reminder of how cliquish this area is and that if you aren’t in or don’t have a local clique advocate that you might just be SOL. And that the current crop of nowheresville leaders will always look to outsiders to solve local problems and we know where that leads if seed the Davos crew & The Machine planted gets harvested. Plus we have that billionaire savior complex whispering in our ears. If only they knew, surely they would help.

            2. voteforno6

              You refer to the Republicans as if they were still a functioning political party. They’re not – they’ve become a Trump personality cult. This is not 2016, and he’s not running like he did in 2016. He has sky-high approval ratings among self-identified Republicans, and very low with everyone else. For all the people that find him appealing, there are probably at least as many that find him repulsive.

              Maybe he wins, maybe he doesn’t, but when he’s finally gone, the Republicans are going to fall apart. But don’t worry – the Democrats won’t be able to survive for long without the Republicans to kick, or to kick them back.

              1. barefoot charley

                Fair thought, but I disagree. Since Billy-Bob Clinton played white trash better than they did–really before–Republicans have sharpened their game of inchoate rage at any and all. They’re good at it, and there’s more and more to be enraged about. Dems will continue to pretend things will be hunky-dory while only the rich get richer, and the rest of us get more enraged. It’s the Dems that I hope and pray will fall apart, but I’m not optimistic. They’re very well paid to lose.

              2. hunkerdown

                To be fair, the GOP settler-colonial neoliberals mostly left for the Democrat Party. I’m not sure that’s something to be proud of, but clearly the Party establishment feels no such uncertainty.

              3. Noone from Nowheresville

                You mean like they did after 2008 when Bush and Republican policies were fully discredited?

                Seems to me Bush is back or at least on his way.

            3. Procopius

              They also think they have the base in the bag …

              In fact, they seem to be going out of their way to antagonize the center-left and the left. Rahm Emanuel’s gloating and admission that they are moving the party further right-ward just add to my resentment.

            4. CitizenSissy

              Middle-aged suburban white woman, who lives in a swing state, checking in. I will crawl over broken glass in a hurricane to vote against Trump. I’m not the only one.

      2. pjay

        I’m very concerned about this as well.

        Watch the Republican convention clip posted by Yasha Levine in Redlife’s comment above. Did you laugh out loud? I did. Then I remembered that I actually know people, some in my own extended family, who would view this display absolutely seriously and agree with it. There are a *lot* of people who feel like this. And they are not all flaming white-power racists. That’s the reality.

        The problem, in my view, is that there are not enough of those who shape the liberal/Democrat narrative who have any real contact with these people. They don’t understand such a worldview; they just ridicule. I have nothing but contempt for the cynical manipulation of these people by those depicted in Levine’s clip. But they know what they are doing.

        1. Tomonthebeach

          In my peer-to-peer discussions, nearly all my friends of both political persuasions (granted most are highly educated and accomplished) do not see Biden as Boris Badenov’s “fearless leader.” They/we view Biden as being as potent as a Storefront mannequin. Our, hope is that, unlike Trump, Biden will listen to his adults in the room – a least most of the time. He might also make a useful scapegoat for policies tried-but-failed in 2024.

          While we are disturbed by Biden’s out-of-touch world view and horrid history of policies supported, in contrast to Trump, which is the lesser of two evils is not a dilemma – just whether to choose at all. That is where DNC is making a huge gamble.

          1. Pat

            But look at who the “adults in the room”appear to be. Take the worst of the Bush administration and the worst of the Obama administration add in a couple of Clinton Obama greatest hit advisors and what you have is more of the horrid policies just less breathless coverage of how the President is turning us into a fascist third world country on the brink of the civil war.

            As for blaming Biden, please tell me TWO policies of the last four decades that have gotten full throated outright apologetic admissions that these were wrong and we were mistaken to enact or join in enacting them from the Democrats. Oh sure you might get some ignoring they ever happened or scapegoating of the Republicans with no notice of bipartisanship. They are embracing Bush, and you think they will scapegoat Biden?

            I’m sorry but this is as delusional as anyone thinking that Trump can bring the jobs back from China/India/Mylasia/etc.

      3. timbers

        Also, please consider “law and order” in today’s context more or less is encouragement to shoot, kill, repress and brutalize more black folk and move in the opposite direction of what promotes lawful peace and order.

        1. hunkerdown

          Order means the bourgeois order of private property and traditional respectability. Law, being the product of the committee of the affairs of the whole bourgeoisie, is designed to support their senior social coordination rights. The police were never there for us except by accident.

    2. Quentin

      Yes, Dan P66, Biden has Obama’s authoritarian, centralised, passive-aggressive rout of Occupy as a template for cracking down on the disturbances given a pass today if they continue after a Biden victory. He also will have the black, woman cop at his side to pacify the woke crowd.

    3. voteforno6

      And yet, all this lawlessness is happening on Trump’s watch. How do you think he’ll react if he wins? Or his supporters, for that matter? I don’t see him being able to get a majority of votes in this country, at least fairly. He might squeak through on the electoral college again, but that’s not a very democratic institution. Then again, neither he nor many of his supporters have really demonstrated any respect for democratic processes.

      1. Redlife2017

        Yes, I do think it will be Biden gets popular vote and Trump gets electoral college.

        But I’ll note that both Dems and Repubs have form on voter suppression / voter irregularities over the past several years. One must only look at the Dem primaries to know that Trump isn’t completely off his rocker on calling out the Dems. My issue that BOTH sides are going to try to steal this election. There is no way this will be a legitimate election. Either side will be butthurt at the end of it…

        1. ambrit

          This time, the situation is a bit different. In the past, the Upper Classes loosely allied with the Bourgeoisie. The ‘butthurt’ was mainly experienced by the Proletariat. Now, the Upper Classes are sacrificing the ‘Lower Middle Classes’ to the ‘butthurt’ agenda. The Upper Classes have lost sight of the reasons why their forebears made the alliance with the Middle Classes in the first place. History suggests that revolutions arise from a disgruntled middle class, or factions of the ruling class. Today, the soon to be former ‘middle classes’ are becoming no longer gruntled in their attitudes to the extant power relationships.
          A multitude of fuses have been lit. Who knows which one reaches all that “Dry Powder” first? Not me, that’s for certain.
          Keep a low profile!
          Stay safe!

      2. DanP66

        Your missing the undercurrents.

        All of this unrest is happening in democrat controlled places.

        Trump has made a point of offering to send in federal support and then all the democrats scream how that is authoritarian and illegal and he cannot do it or they do not want it. You think that has been lost on the people living in these places?

        You think the media trying to spin riots and looting and arson as “aggressive protesting” has been missed by voters or the calls for defunding police has gone over their heads?

        I will bet a case of good whiskey right now that Trump not only wins but that he wins with the same or better margin in the electoral college.

        1. timbers

          +2. Looking at comments elsewhere, it is very very common that posts assert that rioting are happening in Blue areas.

          1. hunkerdown

            A relatively new commenter had posted a Counterpunch link with one organizer’s interpretation of how they managed to send school police packing in Los Angeles, which was decent interpretation. I think he might have overlooked the importance of Latin* [1] immigrants and their having previous experience and positive response, and more pointedly a lack of saturation-level negative propaganda, regarding anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist discourse.

            But those calls for “counter-hegemonic demand formulation” were followed by the same unprovable faith-based nonsense about electing Biden then pushing him left. Where do I send my chiro’s bill for whiplash? Anyway, this dude’s obvious switch to ingratiating himself with the Democrat establishment also leaves me in some doubt about the first part of his interpretation.

            [1] screw all this random effacement of a gendered language. It’s nothing more than PMC brand collateral. The asterisk, ASCII code point #42, has been a perfectly functional wildcard for 50 years and I’m not budging.

        2. Pavel

          Look at the horrific scenes in Wisconsin the last two nights… a big battleground state. I sympathize with BLM but their ongoing and reckless protests (along with the rioting by the odious antifa) are just going to get Trump re-elected.

          For fear of offending their black supporters, the Dems are criticizing the violence at all. This does not go unnoticed by “regular” suburban voters who worry about safety.

          What a frigging disaster.

          1. voteforno6

            By “regular” suburban voters, you mean white people, right?

            Rioting by the “odious antifa?” Do you have any proof that it was actually them, and not some opportunists who are using largely peaceful protests, to their own ends?

            In case you haven’t noticed, there’s still a pandemic going on. Maybe Trump wins, maybe he doesn’t, but bodies are continuing to pile up, and his malicious incompetence has had no small impact on that.

            1. Duck1

              In the end the electoral college is the constitutional process unless there is a tie, in which case 1876 redux, ie there is a constitutional process. This is the system and talking about respect for democracy misses the point. The office is won in the electoral college and a majority of the popular vote nationwide matters not one whit given the system we have. Changing the constitution is rather difficult as well.

            2. Pavel

              Hi voteforno6

              By using the quotes on “regular” I was attempting to denote what most people would consider suburban voters. For Trump [whom I despise BTW] supporters that probably does mean “white people”. Of course that is an ignorant viewpoint.

              As for antifa, they claim not to have leaders so it is difficult to quote them officially. But plenty of self-proclaimed antifa have openly declared that they will use violent means to attain their goals. To me, that is at a minimum odious if not the definition of terrorism. It may be that there are some right-wing agents provocateurs but if so there are a hell of a lot of them. Maybe they all are.

              A pox on any side using violence, arson, and looting. None of those will help solve the very real problems of black injustice and corrupt and racist police policies.

          2. marym

            Riots and looting are definitely useful for right-wing authoritarian politics. Always have been. Maybe that’s why cops prefer to shoot unarmed black people who aren’t committing a crime instead of stopping actual crime.

            1. Pavel

              Perhaps these are all alt-right agents provocateurs. Who can say amidst the chaos? In any case it is a tragic, increasing violent mess.

              A crowd of Black Lives Matter and Antifa rioters in downtown Portland beat a white man unconscious Sunday night after dragging him from his truck, video footage of the incident shows.

              The crowd surrounded the man’s white truck around 10:30 p.m. near where he crashed into a light pole at Southwest Broadway and Taylor Street. At least one individual punched him as he sat inside before he was pulled out of the vehicle.

              The rioters punched the man and forced him to sit in the street as he tried to answer a call from his wife. One man in the crowd wearing a “security” vest delivered a kick to his head from behind that appears to have knocked him out cold and caused his head to bleed after it hit the street

              –Black Lives Matter, Antifa Crowd Beat Man Unconscious in Portland



              In June 2019, Gage Halupowski was one of the rioters who rushed in to beat Adam Kelly as he attempted to help a man who was being kicked and punched in a riot. According to the probable cause affidavit, police observed Halupowski delivering a “full overhead swing that struck the top of Kelly’s head from behind.” Kelly suffered a concussion and required 25 staples to close the wounds to his head. Halupowski, a masked 24-year-old antifa militant, was the only person arrested and convicted for that attack outside Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse.

              –Why Portland Police Stand By Passively When Leftists Riot

              This isn’t a left versus right thing. We must denounce violence on all sides of the spectrum. And antifa, again, openly call for violent action.

        3. Grumpy Engineer

          I wonder what mainstream Democrats think the purpose of government is.

          They seem to have forgotten it, but the primary purpose of government is public safety. For most of human history, that was the only thing governments did. Defending people from criminals and invaders was pretty much their main function. Only in the past two or three centuries have we seen governments consistently provide infrastructure, education, health care, retirement benefits, welfare, etc.

          They’re playing with fire by neglecting this. And exacerbating things further by applying the law unfairly. Like when Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan withdrew police protection from several city blocks and abandoned it to the CHAZ “summer of love”, only to finally crack down when protestors showed up at her home. Or when Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot was slow to respond to rioting but maintained a massive police presence in her own neighborhood, stating, “I have a right to make sure that my home is secure.” I’m 100% certain that residents nearby were thinking, “But what about my home? Or my business?” They probably felt pretty abandoned.

        4. marym

          Armed protesters looting a public building! Will Trump send federal troops?

          “In Boise, the first day of Idaho’s special legislative session erupted into chaos before it began. Dozens of unmasked protesters, some of them armed, shoved their way past state troopers to pack the gallery overlooking the state’s House of Representatives.

          To enforce social distancing, the gallery area above the House chamber was restricted with limited seating. But after the confrontation with state troopers, which resulted in the shattering of a glass door, Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke relented and allowed protesters to fill every seat.

          One state lawmaker referred to the governor as “Little Hitler” after he ordered the shutdown of nonessential businesses in late March…Still, most Idahoans appear to stand by [Idaho Gov. Brad] Little. An effort to recall the governor over the summer failed, and three-quarters of registered Idaho voters polled in May supported his handling of the pandemic.”

              1. barefoot charley

                ‘Unmasked’ is scandalous enough for the headline. ‘Armed’ not so much in Idaho’s capitol. I think I’m losing touch.

          1. hunkerdown

            Would the Democrats send federal troops if the other team’s designated performance artists rushed the gallery? Depends on whether the chamber is doing the Party’s business and nothing else. Let’s not be silly and naïve, here. Institutions try to preserve the problems to which they style themselves the solution.

        5. JWP

          Trump has made a point of offering to send in federal support and then all the democrats scream how that is authoritarian and illegal and he cannot do it or they do not want it.

          So long as Trump dictates the narrative and dems follow-the-leader with their responses, this will be a rout by Trump. If people are looking for leadership, they’ll take the person calling the shots, not the person spell-checking them.

        6. Aumua

          I take issue with the use of the term “Democrat controlled city”. Apart from being an obvious dog whistle used constantly by the likes of Hannity, Levine and Rush to rile up Trump’s and/or the right’s base, it’s vague and most likely doesn’t mean much. I mean if a city’s mayor professes to be a Democrat, does that mean the city is “controlled” by Democrats? And does that mayor or city council only implement some centrally issued Democratic policies? And finally, how true is it that riots only happen in cities with a Democrat mayor? Could it be that for whatever reason a lot of America’s largest cities have Democrat mayors and/or city councils?

    4. Otis B Driftwood

      Rioters running wild? What about the police?

      Neither Biden nor Trump have interest in talking honestly about why people are protesting and rioting, let alone the militarization of the police force and why they are beyond reform.

      Biden isn’t a leader and he has no answers to any of this. The Dem convention, like the primary that preceded it, was a disaster of empty-headed identity politics and gaslighting an increasingly frustrated public.

      Add a new record low voter turnout to your list of items.

      1. marym

        “a disaster of empty-headed identity politics and gaslighting an increasingly frustrated public”

        pretty much all either “side” has to offer at this point

        1. barefoot charley

          Fascists vs anarchists and not a corporatist in sight. Politics, or as Balzac might say, barfo-ramalama-dingdong.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        yeah. i just got around to that daily mail photo spread of Kenosha.
        a jail on fire…an appropriate target, as far as i’m concerned.
        there will be “collateral damage”, of course…it’s unfortunate that a few innocent cars were set a light.
        but all of that is missing the point: cops are trigger happy thugs who shoot people to death and pay no price for it.
        since Ferguson, i have to be careful how much of the cell phone footage i watch…it’s frelling triggering, dammit…because i’ve been on the receiving end of police violence without recourse(but i’m a white guy, so my experience doesn’t count in some circles)
        that was 30 years ago…and black folks have had it so much worse than i ever did…which was terrible enough.
        due process….or the city burns.
        it’s the American Way.
        (i definitely considered torching the cop shop, back then…so hopeless was my situation…you can only push people so far)
        all the handwringing by dems…and the counteraccusations and excuses by gopteaers…does nothing to fix the easily identified problem: cops out of control, and the entire policing model devoid of merit.
        stop killing people…and punish the “Bad Apples”…and all this stops.

        it would probably be helpful…while we’re at it…to end the idiotic drug war(it’s a health problem…incl. mental health and social health)…and to stop with cops being the default face of government that so many poor people see.

        1. Carolinian

          Maybe the police consider victims like the one in Kenosha to be “collateral damage” and that’s the problem once you go the “everybody has their reasons” route. And where did this concept of collateral damage come from? It came from the ever popular Pentagon of course. I’m not sure we should take our analysis from an organization devoted to violence. And once you start threatening bystanders’ lives and property you are likely to get a result alright–a right wing result.

          1. dcrane

            Yeah I don’t see the Daily Mail headline being “slanted” as Lambert says. Pretty straight assessment. Been watching some livestreams of the place the past few nights and what is going on there should not be glossed over. And I am a person who wants to see policing changed in America.

        2. occasional anonymous

          “there will be “collateral damage”, of course…it’s unfortunate that a few innocent cars were set a light.”

          And the garbage truck? The furniture store? What about the other businesses? Those are peoples jobs, their livelihoods, going up in smoke in the middle of a pandemic and record unemployment.

          You’re being completely disingenuous by trying to make this abstract. “Oh, well, police commit violence so *mumble mumble something something mumble*, burning random things is justified.”

          I’m not at all opposed to destruction of property as a tactic to achieve political ends. Hell, I’m not even, in principle, opposed to murder as a tactic (though that’s something you need to be exceptionally careful about. Once you open that Pandora’s Box you’re likely legitimizing political violence. Don’t be shocked when it blows back on you).

          But going on a rage fueled arson-fest of random destruction does absolutely nothing for your cause. The rioters aren’t actually accomplishing anything for their cause. The only people inclined to try and see nuance in this are people who are already supporting the protests.

          All this is going to do is make BLM look worse, and give Trump more votes. Rioters burning down businesses that had nothing to do with the shooting is only going to bolster Trump’s claim to be “Your President of Law & Order”. This just makes him look better.

          1. lordkoos

            Rioters are running on anger (justifiable IMO), not rational thought. This stuff happened in the 60s too, where portions of black neighborhoods were burned down. If people are so concerned about property then maybe pressure police to quit shooting people.

      3. Aumua

        Agreed. The protests are being effectively divorced from the reasons behind them here. The people in Kenosha just randomly started protesting which turned into rioting. It’s the spectacle that is important, not the fact that it started in response to yet another video recorded police shooting of an apparently unarmed black man who’s only crime was apparently not obeying every order of the cops. This should not be a capital offense.

        1. HotFlash

          It seems that the police do not understand that violence will not accomplish anything. If only they would practice peaceful policing! Unfortunately, there is no way to make them do that — oh, wait.

    5. Michael Fiorillo

      Don’t leave out the #McResistance TM squandering four years on Russiagate, in the belief that it would magically remove Orange Man and restore that status quo ante we so fondly remember…

    6. Carolinian

      There’s some debate about how much BLM is aligned with and even controlled by the Democrats. But I agree that politically much of what is going on threatens to reelect Trump and kill the initial sympathy the Floyd protests won even in Republicans areas like mine. When a BLM spokesperson says the recent looting in downtown Chicago was merely collecting “reparations” that does not sit well. And the head kicking incident in Portland (assailant now arrested) puts up shocking video to counter the videos of police abuse. Narrative wise the Resistance is in danger of losing the plot even as the Kumbaya DNC pitch for Biden attempted to regain it. If you are offering the public “normalcy” better be sure your version is something they want.

    7. Roquentin

      I think the election is too close to call. There’s a lot of time between now and November and I can see it going either way. Too many variables, too much time, and this election is the furthest thing from typical. Who knows if there will even be a clear winner? This mess could drag on for a long time.

      However, I do think you are right about COVID. While I generally agree with the sentiments of liberal America that COVID is terrible, that any reasonable precautions which can be taken should be, that we should do our best to avoid loss of life whenever possible, I just don’t think they have a long term plan. I find myself wondering every day “How did you think this was going to end?” I’ve never seen anything close to a credible argument that a vaccine will get here any time soon, much less be able to be produced in the numbers necessary for most of the world’s population. That leaves you with two options:permanent lockdown and herd immunity and the lockdown will only be politically and economically tenable for so long. If we aren’t past the breaking point already, we soon will be. With the stimulus and boosted unemployment going away, I’d bet on most people just deciding to take their chances with COVID.

      I think so much of liberal pathology is wrapped up in being as smug as possible, just trying to shame everyone else into getting their way. The answer is to always be more smug and condescending when things aren’t going they way they want them to, they think “maybe this will shame everyone into wearing a mask.” All the while a backlash is building just beneath the surface.

      1. Michaelmas

        I’ve never seen anything close to a credible argument that a vaccine will get here any time soon, much less be able to be produced in the numbers necessary for most of the world’s population. That leaves you with two options:permanent lockdown and herd immunity and the lockdown will only be politically and economically tenable for so long.

        Oh look — it’s the ‘herd immunity’ meme, the meme that will not die because elites and wishful thinkers keep on thrusting it out there to get the proles back to their places in the wealth-extraction machine.

        When this pandemic started, I looked through the literature on the existing coronaviruses and after that what was then extant on COVID19. With the existing coronaviruses, there was by and large not only little evidence that natural herd immunity was possible with them but also there was clear evidence that a couple of the existing coronaviruses exploited ADE (antibody derived enhancement) to hike on a couple of the antibodies we naturally generate in order to better infect us.

        The then-existing literature on the novel coronavirus generally mirrored and has continued to mirror that, including the ADE part.

        So natural herd immunity with COVID19 is probably nonsense — the reports of reinfection we’re now getting (see post above and discussion of it further down this thread) tend to support that.

        On the possibly optimistic side of things there’s now some evidence this coronavirus has a slower mutation rate than other coronaviruses. But that may not help much since, given its extraordinarily high reproduction rate — I’ve heard one former NIAID-USAMRIID virologist privately estimate it as being as high as 9.2! — there’s going to be much more of it around in different locales and populations to mutate into different strains.

        There’s also reason to suspect that more of the population are infected than know it because they’re asymptomatic. That’s sort of optimistic, in that it means the COVID19 fatality rate is even lower than we thought. (And it is low; it’s the high R0 rate that’s hurting us). We’re getting off light next to what a lot of scientists were expecting — and may still be coming and for which dealing with COVID19 will just have been our training wheels.

        To your comments about never having seen anything close to a credible argument that a vaccine will get here any time soon. If you haven’t seen any evidence of that, it’s because like most people — including, interestingly, quite a few doctors and biologists not involved with synthetic and computational biology — you have no knowledge of the state of biotechnology in 2020, which makes the biotech of 2000, twenty years ago, look like your granddad’s biotech.

        There will be a vaccine. Indeed, I would be surprised if the Russian one doesn’t work. The latter part of your comment there — whether they can manufacture and distribute it on the necessary scale — is much more on point. Nothing like that has ever been done.

        1. Roquentin

          Well, a vaccine still isn’t here. If herd immunity isn’t on the table it’s just either permanent or semi-permanent lockdown then. How long do you, personally, think it’s going to take for vaccine to arrive? Next summer? 2022? How long do you think this can go on for? Do you really expect people to spend the next two years inside? You may not like it, but the point where the lockdown is politically and economically sustainable is rapidly approaching, but this does not change the fact that for many people, particularly in the US, they’ve already had enough.

          Like I said previously, what liberal America wants may be right, they just aren’t being realistic or have no endgame strategy and never did. All the do is rage all day about things not going according to their plans. Maybe the expectations were largely different from what reality was ever going to provide in the first place. Maybe half of this was just another excuse to engage in their favorite pastime, shitting on MAGA clowns on social media. Maybe a lot of things, but they never had a workable plan.

          1. Michaelmas

            How long do you, personally, think it’s going to take for vaccine to arrive? Next summer? 2022?

            A number of them are here and seem to be working, but haven’t passed Phase 3 trials. However, the manufacture and distribution of a new vaccine — especially if it’s an mRNA vaccine (like the Moderna vaccine) which was originally designed to be bleeding-edge, high-end biotech — have never been done on the scale necessary here.

            So I’ve no realistic clue about how that part will be. At a guess, by next summer, 2021, many countries in the world.

            In the U.S.? Dunno. That may be a different story, because it’s a really dysfunctional place now. Three most relevant points here —

            [1] The fact is that if a country has the discipline to lockdown its society for 4-5 weeks and does full testing and contact tracing, it can effectively shut down the virus, as China and a number of other countries — not all of them Asian — have done. It can then go about its business again.

            [2] The U.S. can’t do that because — besides now having the greatest mass of uneducated people of any developed world population — the whole society is designed for maximum rent-extraction all the time by its elites. The U.S. population as a whole pay the highest rents, carry the most credit card debt, pay the most for healthcare, take the least vacations, etcetera, etcetera, of just about any developed country’s populace.

            If you shut down that down 4-5 weeks, the whole edifice of rent extraction and debt topples over — as it’s doing — and the elites themselves get shaky.

            [3] It’s insufficiently appreciated that while Trump himself is incompetent, the Trump administration is not. Trump, who only plays a billionaire on television, is now a glove puppet for real billionaires. These billionaires have underwritten Trump’s presidency on condition that their people would staff his administration and enact their policies.

            Because once one puts one’s preconceptions aside, the evidence is blazingly clear: while Trump has been playing golf, watching Fox TV, and tweeting his idiocies, his administration has very actively and consistently gone about the work of preventing any effective Federal responses to the pandemic.

            Nor is it incidental that when it assigned pandemic data collection to the HHS, for instance, it made sure the actual work would be privatized by being contracted out. Or that U.S. hospitals and states have been forced to bid for the medical supplies they need on private markets.

            And that’s because enforcing “free enterprise” solutions for everything is at the very heart of what the billionaires who actually control the Trump administration – and Trump – aim to achieve. Alongside this, they hope to eliminate virtually all personal and corporate taxes, environmental laws, government oversight of industry, and social services, including Social Security and Medicare.

            Of course, if all that’s to be achieved, Americans must be educated to never expect an effective Federal government response to anything. And so, for another instance, that’s why Donald Trump has refused to issue a federal order to enforce mask wearing. That would be a federal regulation and Trump was put in the White House to gut federal regulations, not impose more.

            So, the U.S. is very dysfunctional. Yes, as you say — the lockdown is indeed politically and economically unsustainable under the current U.S. system. Therefore, I expect that its elite and its desperate citizens will keep on trying to re-open.

            And each time the reality will be that the virus will just take off again. There’ll be more thousands dead and — this is going to become more obvious as time passes — a growing U.S. population of long-haulers who’ll be too physically damaged to ever work again.

            So, yeah — growing damage and dysfunction of the U.S. system for the next two to three years could well trigger a Soviet-style collapse, couldn’t it? Conversely, they might be able to get a vaccine out before that, mightn’t they? It’s all very unpredictable.

            We will see.

      2. Chris

        I’m late responding to this, but the end game here is rapid testing. From what you wrote I feel like you’re saying you’re very frustrated with what is happening. I agree, it is maddening. But the rest of your statements are false or show a lack of familiarity with the subject matter. We’re using existing backbones and already manufactured systems to bring this vaccine online quickly. That’s one of the ways we know it will be OK. What we don’t know is if it will work. That data will be collected during challenges in the population. Hopefully we find out it does and life gets better for a lot of people quickly.

    8. Lost in OR

      I think the big game changer will be Biden’s performance in the debates. If he stumbles or bumbles or just loses it, he’s road kill.

      1. Foy

        Yep, I can’t see Biden lasting 1.5 hours on stage against Trump, and it will be there for all to see, no hiding in a pre-recorded 10 minute clip. Even if the docs have given something to keep him ‘up’ (they have had a while now to work out the right dosage!). And if he goes pearshaped in the first debate, it will be like watching a car crash in following debates, you wont want to look, but you wont be able to look away.

    9. Kurtismayfield

      It doesn’t matter either way.

      If Trump is elected, I get a Septagenarian who will not help me with the economy nor COVID.

      If Biden is elected, I get a Septagenarian who will not help me with the economy nor COVID.

      Either way I am on my own.

    10. Rod

      3. I’m further convinced that people are very soon, if they are not already, going to be more concerned about jobs and the economy than they are about COVID. Dying on the streets of hunger is no better than dying of the virus.

      relevant, imo, to the preceding on “What to do about Schooling” discussion.

    11. Grant

      I’m convinced that since our turnout in elections is already insanely low, since multiple studies show a massive gap between what people want on policy versus what the state does, and since working and poor people have no representation in government at all, that those rioting will not care and are rioting because they realize that the political system is a dead end for them. If our political system was so worthless, corrupt, those in power out of touch sociopaths, there likely wouldn’t be riots. I am further convinced that America is doomed, as we already had horrible long-term macroeconomic and microeconomic trends that were beyond troubling, and the pandemic has made those things worse. I am also convinced that since those in power (either party) have zero solutions to any of society’s large problems, that our country will simply be unable to effectively deal with the environmental crisis. I am also convinced that since the political system is a corrupt mess, and since young people are already being radicalized because of the decades-long failure of the right/neoliberals, that an outright revolution is not out of the cards. Given how armed the right is, it could easily devolve into a situation that Yugoslavia was in during the 80s and 90s. I am convinced that the Trump supporters are just as vile and divorced from reality as the K-hive types, and these people make up a large chunk of those who vote. Since most of the country doesn’t bother to vote, while they are a small percentage of the public, they are a large percentage of those that vote. And they make horrible decisions, will continue to do so.

    12. drumlin woodchuckles

      I remember CREEP. I remember Donald Segretti. I remember Roger Stone. He’s still alive, by the way.

      Could some of those antifa rioters be from the Deep Trump? Could some of the Proud Boys be from the Deep Trump? Could they both be from the Rent-A-Riot Agency working to get some good Riot TV footage for Trump to campaign on?

      Is it irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible NOT to.

      1. HotFlash

        I am quite sure that either established party, which are, after all, one party, would be happy to preside over a quashed proletariat. Should be some goooood jobs in such an admin. Let’s, what is the playbook? And whose playbook is it? Iran, Chile, Ukraine, just for starters. Goad the govt into repressing the populace, populace stomps back, govt stomps back harder, US mil ‘helps’ => “Mission accomplished!” Would our Deep State, our D and R establishments, our “Intelligence Community”, our 1% be unhappy with this result?

    13. Yves Smith Post author

      The problem is that as we saw with Sweden (which never locked down), it is fallacious to see reopening as an economic plus. See the tweet about the Caribbean today.

      People are afraid, stay home, don’t go to movies, live entertainment, or much to restaurants, and they sure don’t go to airports unless they have a good reason or are risk-ignorant. You get the worst of both worlds: more infections and no better outcomes.

    14. pasha

      i suspect you are getting most of your information from fox. in real life, they are tiny little peaceful daylight demonstrations. the kenosha riot does appear to be a real set to between demonstrators and proud boys

  4. Carla

    Maxi was absolutely irresistible. Thank you, Stephen T., for sharing her with all of us. You and Maxi will be in the thoughts of many today.

    1. malchats

      Thank you for your kind remarks. And tremendous thanks to Yves for honoring my request. I think it’s tremendously important that, in the midst of covering so much that is important in the global sense, Yves and the NC staff take time for this sort of gracious act. It echoes the fact that all politics and economics is personal as well as global; everything discussed here happens not just to nations, but to individuals as well. And the things that matter to us all matter to and shape the world. Recognition of that is why Naked Capitalism is so good, and so important. Thanks so much.
      — malchats aka Stephen

        1. JacobiteInTraining

          Maxi is, indeed, a beautiful cat.

          Perhaps, in the Happy Hunting Grounds, Maxi will meet ol’ Sarah (a beloved fuzzy bundle of a cat I lost many years ago) and if so, Sarah will be sure to show Maxi where all the best warm places are…and help find sneaky vantage points high up to watch, and all where Maxi can find the purest icy cool water to drink – along with nose-bumps, head-butts, grooming, and tummy rubs.

          And hugs to you, Friend…. :)


      1. njbr

        For such small creatures, they leave such a big hole when they go. You cat looks like mine, Watson, who is approaching 15. I feel for you.

      2. fresno dan

        August 25, 2020 at 8:48 am

        There is a place where the catnip grows wild, and boxes in many sizes are there to hide in. Humans are there to provide all the ear scratches and chin nuzzles desired. Maxi is there now.

      3. SD

        Maxi is absolutely gorgeous and clearly loved you–the smiling eyes and body language (in cats at least!) are pretty easy to read. I adopted a neighborhood stray with the same “mask and mantle” white/silver tabby coloring. Tab Hunter is the most affectionate cat I’ve ever known, and I’ve met other mask and mantles who seem to have similar temperaments. Losing a beloved companion so hard. You and Maxi are both in my thoughts today.

      4. mrsyk

        Well put Stephen. Please except my heartfelt condolences. Farewell Maxi. Please say hello to my beloved DTrain.

      5. marym

        So sorry for the loss of your beautiful cat. Your love for each other shines through your words.

      6. JCC

        I didn’t offer my condolences earlier, mainly because it reminded me of the loss just 2 short years ago of the best cat that ever lived in my house and I wasn’t sure of what to say. It still surprises me how much the loss of The cat, K-K, bothers me.

        That cat taught me a lot.

        My sincerest condolences, I could not sympathize, and empathize, more than I do now.

    2. Pat

      Certainly with mine.

      Maxi was beautiful. Our pets provide us so much love, comfort and even humor. From your description, Stephen, Maxi was stellar at all of that. When they must leave us they leave cat, or dog, shaped holes in our lives and our hearts. And that happens far too soon no matter how long we are lucky enough to share their lives.

      My deepest condolences,

      1. barefoot charley

        Yes. When our sweet Muse left us my wife vowed never to have another, it just hurt too much at the end. But that hole in her heart hurt more, and I pressed just to help out a ‘rescue cat.’ I don’t have to tell you who rescued who. Another miracle of such loves is that, in the cat-shaped hole, our beloveds blur together, and all comes whole again.

        1. Elizabeth

          Malchats – I’m so sorry about Maxi – she was a beautiful cat. Our beloved animals give us so much comfort and joy in life. I hope time will heal your loss. You were both lucky to share each other’s lives.

          1. malchats

            Many thanks to all who left kind words for my Maxi, both here and below. It is most highly appreciated.

    3. Janie

      So sorry about the loss of your beautiful cat. It’s so hard to lose our pets who accept us unconditionally. Maybe that’s why we become so attached to them.

  5. russell1200

    WSJ (I read hard copy, but link is below) was pushing an op ed type piece on their front page where normally the news holds court: ” New Thinking on Lockdowns: They’re Overly Blunt and Costly”

    It shares space with an article on China’s economy bouncing back and gaining on the U.S.

    Seems like some panic setting in. The piece mixes and matches all sorts of disparate information in a way that doesn’t justify the certitude in the headline. It is also rather starkly (surely unintentionally) rebutted by the noted article on China, which clearly states that they are rebounding because of their earlier draconian response. As the url indicates it seems to be a crying “Why can’t we do it like Sweden?” as if Sweden, rather than say Chile or Brazil might not be better model countries to estimate results from.

  6. Coldhearted Liberal

    Far more damning of the Daily Mail article is the blatent attempt of character assasination of the victim. “He’s been arrested for other crimes!” And at the very end an admission they dont know any connection between incidents.

    1. Judge Dredd

      That’s how it works in Mega City One. Street Judge’s are empowered to summarily arrest, convict, sentence, and execute criminals.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Jared Kushner made a deal with Russia for ventilators, but every machine was faulty, report says”

    If you want the Reader’s Digest version of this article, it says that ‘dodgy American businessman makes deal with dodgy Russian businessman for buying medical gear – which proves to be dodgy.’

    Condolences to Stephen T on the loss of his cat Maxi. She looks special in that foto.

    1. Paul Jurczak

      From the article: “two US officials told ABC News in May that they could not be used immediately because of voltage issues”. European power standard is 220V/50Hz, which is different from US standard of 110V/60Hz. Of course there will be voltage issues unless the appliance is rated to work in both standards. The fault was with procurement, not with equipment. The omission can easily be rectified by using a transformer or power inverter, e.g. Note the difference between “could not be used immediately” and “every machine was faulty”. The title is a click-bait designed to keep Russiagate alive.

      I should not have to add that I think Jared Kushner is corrupt, but it doesn’t justify using any means to fling some mud in his general direction.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Did no one in that supply line stop to think that the two continents used different voltage systems? There must have been a lot of medicos at either end who must have said ‘And don’t forget to get in some adapters!’ Then again I went to South Africa once and researched that they had the same power supply – and this was in pre-internet days. So the first day I got out my electric shaver to plug it in when I discovered that yes, they used the same power supply but whereas the plugs in Oz were flat prongs, the ones in South Africa were round ones.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          decades ago, mom got a lamp at one of her junk shops/swap meets/flea markets, and didn’t notice the alien plug until she tried to plug it in.
          i switched out the plug and it worked…but that was just a light bulb, which were pretty forgiving at the time, re: power supply.
          jarod seems to think of himself as a superhuman, with abilities beyond us mere mortals…but even i would have thought to ask about the dern plug/voltage/etc compatibility.
          and he travels the world, and i don’t.
          chalk a mark in the “our masters are morons” column.

          1. crittermom

            My thoughts, exactly. Does no one pursue details? Uh, hello? We’re talkin’ big money contracts, ffs. Power source. Very simple stuff. *palm to forehead*

            Regarding chalking a mark for our moron masters, at this point, I’m running out of chalk!

      2. posaunist

        Mostly correct, but the Tripp-Lite inverter linked to is really a power supply with back-up battery for a hospital cart which is entirely 230 volt. There are lots of 110 volt to 230 volt transformers available, not sure about hospital grade. If conversion from 60hz to 50hz is necessary, it gets more complicated, but that’s unlikely. Most electronics will work on either frequency.

        1. Tom Bradford

          But surely had anyone realised that an adapter would be needed for every machine they would have jumped at the opportunity to source them with a nice fat, creamable contract.

          Sad state of affairs when TPTB can’t even do corruption competently.

  8. timbers

    Black Injustice Tipping Point…Daily Mail. The headline and ordering of the pix is obviously slanted, but there are many images.

    Isn’t the correct policy response obvious to everyone in Washington?…The Federal Reserve urgently needs to give Wall Street and the rich another free $3 trillion, just like it did to cure Covid. Otherwise how will Apple ever make it to 10 trillion in market value and become almost the entire stock market?

    Politicians bicker, Nancy eats ice cream in the basement, Trump goes to his resorts and plays TV President. But the Fed has the power to make the rich richer right now. The time to act is now.

    And everyone in Washington knows saving money with Medicareforall is…well why would anyone think providing healthcare is a response to a heath crisis?

  9. Paul Jurczak

    Jared Kushner made a deal with Russia for ventilators, but every machine was faulty, report says

    That’s complete BS. European appliances operate off 220V/50Hz power standard vs. the U.S. 110V/60Hz standard. Consumer electronics typically have multi standard (wide voltage range) power supplies, but medical equipment and high power appliances do not. So this is not a case of faulty equipment, but a case of faulty procurement, which most likely could be fixed by adding a simple step-down transformer. When you buy a UK car model, don’t complain it’s faulty because you can’t find a steering wheel facing the front left seat.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.)”

    There is a major element missing from this account and it is the Swiss Army. I have been to that country many times and you can see that it is not only a social leveler but a way for people to form lifelong bonds across social positions. Conscription is compulsory in that country and several years ago when they had a chance to abolish it in a referendum, they opted to keep it in a 73% landslide. The system that I remembered was that after you did your stint, that every year your cohort would assemble for a coupla weeks each year for refresher training so you would get to see your mates again before going back to your civilian life. I have read that in the past that it was not unknown for a guy who normally sat on a company board to be a sergeant while you might have an average guy be his lieutenant. It is this continuous annual meeting up that helps form so many social bonds across Swiss society as well as a system that favours a de-centralized government power structure that give them the ability to come to consensus on political matters-

      1. The Rev Kev

        True, though they no longer take a box of ammo home with them. The latest rifle is the SIG SG 550 and I bet that a lot of Swiss closets have them stored inside-

        I heard a story how one Swiss guy was talking about how ready civilians were to report to duty with the army to a bunch of visitors. When they expressed doubts, he excused himself and few minutes later re-appeared in full battle gear and armed with his rifle, now ready to report to his nearest depot. I’m not sure but I think that the early Israeli Army adopted the Swiss system.

      2. Charger01

        Correcr. The swiss were famous for receiving real-deal machine guns with sealed ammo tins. The penalties for using the ammo, of course, were rather extreme.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      I found this quite fascinating to read. The Swiss system of popular referenda looks to me to add a necessary level of direct accountability to the people that other systems universally lack. It also appears structurally to make flagrant corruption far more difficult as it has a workaround for the gatekeeper function to lawmaking via parties that other “democracies” lack. Switzerland is incredibly civilized in person, is this a result of 150 years of better government, or does the civilized polity result from a culture that allows it?

    2. a different chris

      A couple of weeks!!!??!!

      We don’t even get that much vacation here, let alone the paid-for opportunity to go play soldier with our mates.

    3. Sutter Cane

      This is all well and good for a country where nobody has to worry about being shipped off to an actual war. It might be received differently here. And our elite have already proved their ability to evade wartime service back when conscription was still a thing in the US.

      1. Pat

        Another way of looking at it is Mandatory, as in everyone. not some by draft.
        And if you, or your loved ones have to fight those wars do you honestly think we would be in so many. Think how many fewer StopLoss extensions there would have been if it meant the Bush girls and nephews and Chelsea and other yes Beau had to go to Iraq.

        Part of the reason Switzerland has been so pacifist may be that everyone has to fight.

      2. Buckeye

        Switzerland has a long history of militarism.

        In the Middle Ages they fought against domineering neighbors: Habsburgs, Burgundians, French, Genoese, Milanese and Bavarians.

        From 1450 to 1600 they fought FOR those people as mercenaries. Swiss pikemen were found on every major battlefield of the Renaissance. Had a vicious blood feud with German landsknects as a result.

        By 1600 they hitched their wagon to the French monarchy and spent 200 years as shock troops against foreigners and political thug muscle against the French people.

        After the turmoil of the Revolution they decided to make money the New Fashioned Way: steal it through banking for elitists.

        Their “pacifism” is cynical self aggrandizement.

        (And don’t get me started on this nonsense idea about “mandatory-military-service-leads-to-pacifism.” 1914 proved that dead wrong.)

        1. Oh

          Why do they need the volunteer army when they have their bankers who can avert a war by submitting to the force that threaten to invade them?

          1. Buckeye

            Britain was called ” a nation of shop keepers.” Switzerland is a “nation of bank guards.”

            If your bank is easily and repeatedly robbed no one will put any loot there…and how can you grift other peoples money when they won’t give it to you.

    4. JCC

      After serving in the US Volunteer Army I ended up feeling that the draft could again be a potentially good thing as The Rev Kev points out. It had its problems here that became pretty obvious during the Viet Nam War, class-based as usual and minimal focus on esprit de corp for those not considered lifers, but those things can be fixed, not to mention the particular awfulness of that particular War.

      But other than some of the obvious class issues a lot of that has been fixed. I enjoyed my time making long lasting friends across the country, across culturally, and eventually financially, wide differences. And I only did a short 4 years.

  11. Samuel Conner

    Not sure how much to credit this — BJ denies, but if it’s a valid report (not of BJ’s intentions per se, but of the claims about those intentions and the source of those claims) it suggests that people in the CP might be getting nervous.

    My first thought was that the Anglosphere has become highly correlated, but probably it’s more along the lines that governance has become completely sociopathic the world over.

    1. Redlife2017

      I’ve been having discussions over the past few months with some friends about this very possiblity. Our supposition is that once we get through Transition End, BJ will find himself on thin-ice (or with a knife in his back). He is a very convenient scapegoat for the no-deal mess in January. Also, Rishi Sunak is getting WAY more good press and soft-focus Tory party broadcast time then I’ve seen a Chancellor get in years. Sunak is very camera-ready and has good charisma (unlike Brown who got the party broadcast time, but has zero charisma). Sunak owes his job to Cummings, so it’s not like it would be a huge changing of the guard…

    2. HotFlash

      “Boris Johnson plans to resign in 6 months b/c lingering coronavirus health problems.”

      Lucky Britain, so that’s how herd immunity works! However, it is pretty clear that *nobody* wants to preside over the agreement-less Brexit. Check back in 7 months to see what boards of directors he is on.

  12. L

    Yves, my condolences about your cat. Losing a pet is losing family. I know how hard it can hurt. But for what its worth, remembering them as the fun times is the best way.

  13. Bill Carson

    Regarding the COVID outbreak in the naturist camp, finally some prurient telephoto pictures of scantily clad you . . . er . . . OLD PEOPLE.

  14. Avaon Sparks

    Stephen, my heart breaks for you at the loss of your beautiful Maxi. It is so unfair that our fur babies can’t spend our whole lives with us. Thank you for sharing her lovely picture and memory with us. Maxi sounds like a very lucky cat to have had you all those years.

  15. jr

    Re: Pet heaters

    My GF and I have a 10 lb. Chi-weenie who sleeps with us. She curls up into a tight little ball and nests where ever she likes, against your belly, behind your knees, or right up against your back. She is the >perfect< space heater: totally hazard free, fuel is cheap (although certain fuels burn "cleaner" than others, not a small consideration when you're all bundled up together), affectionate, and entertaining. Much prettier than a space heater too.

  16. William Hunter Duncan

    “Jordan Grider died while camping alone in the Boundary Waters. Was he devoured by wolves?”

    I spent 114 days in the Boundary Waters, with my solo canoe, from May 01 – Oct 14, 2002. I never saw a wolf, nor did I expect to, despite there being hundreds of them living in the Boundary Waters.

    I would be very much less inclined to spend the winter alone up there. Wolves have much more free reign to move, with the lakes frozen. A lone human in that wilderness without a snowmobile and a rifle would be extremely vulnerable. Still, I would suspect he was injured before being attacked. Though it is possible he was out and about trudging through snow and found himself surrounded. He could have been attacked and fended them off briefly, if he grievously wounded a wolf with one of those sharp knives. But then too weak to walk out, it would just be a waiting game for the wolves. That seems more plausible to me than cutting himself badly enough to die and then be eaten.

    Anyway, I’ve long thought that might be a nice way to go out – around 85 or so.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The article explains that wolves don’t attack humans, they avoid them, plus where they found him didn’t have the signs of him having been attacked (a lot more blood spread around). So the surmise is he died and the wolves ate him.

  17. The rev Kev

    “Dutch, Belgian patients ‘reinfected with coronavirus”

    This is to be expected. I mean that you would have people being infected with a different strain of this virus. A bigger worry is people being infected with the same strain of the virus as that would suggest that the idea of herd immunity is nothing more than a pipe dream. The science is not settled but there have been cases like this dating back months. The implications of this is that as the virus mutates with time, that you might have paces like New York dealing with an even worse outbreak that what they dealt with earlier.

    1. voteforno6

      Not necessarily a worse outbreak – if it’s a variant, the body’s immune system may have a response, thanks to the previous infection. So, it’s possible that any re-infections may in large part be less severe than the original one.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I was thinking here of the Great Flu Pandemic a century ago where the first wave was pretty bad but the second was much more lethal due to a mutation. The present pandemic is only a few months old after all. Guess that we will have to wait and see what happens.

        1. ambrit

          If the stories about severe complications arising from surviving the coronavirus are true, the second wave, et. cet. will have a weakened and much more susceptible population of coronavirus survivors to decimate. If the coronavirus does mutate into a more virulent form, this will be a “double whammy” style second wave.
          As you point out, these are early days.
          The great pandemics of the past took years to work themselves out. Today, international travel speeds this process up, but not to “warp speed.” Local outbreaks still propagate at ‘normal’ speeds.

    1. pjay

      LOL! No kidding!

      There is no pretense anymore that political rhetoric has to correspond to any discernible reality. For anybody.

  18. Productive Citizen

    RE: utilities politicized

    Politicizing electric utilities’ rates of return is not a good candidate for your worry list.

    Few understand there are HUGE cost-savings reflected in consumers’ utility bills gained from regulation. Those savings almost always dwarf all other combined potential savings, such as reducing excessive returns to stockholders. (Nuke plant costs are an exception.)

    Utilities have huge capital costs. Unlike many industries, those investments (e.g. distribution systems) have long lives. Cost-of-service regulation (what regulators do) requires utilities to depreciate those capital investments. Regulators shield consumers from paying for the depreciated part of utility systems, e.g. electricity generating plants. Those are huge savings that consumers don’t get from unregulated industries

    Example: Imagine a different kind of vertically integrated energy company. Imagine an oil company that has been in business for many decades. Imagine that it has largely paid off the costs of its investments such as giant oil fields, refineries and gas stations. Now its costs are so low (because those investments have been paid off, depreciated) that it could charge half of what many of its competitors charge for gas at the pump and still make more profit than its competitors. Will that company only charge half of what its competitors charge? No. They will charge close to the same rate.

    If that imaginary oil company was regulated under cost-of-service regulation, that company only would be allowed to charge enough to make a reasonable rate of return on the not-yet-depreciated part of its investments. Consumers would be able to buy gas from that company at half the cost its competitors would have to charge.

    Those savings were threatened in the 1990s by giant industrial corporations. They banded together to try to get politicians to “deregulate” the electricity industry. THAT was a politicization to fear. Lower consumer costs gained from regulation were threatened by Neoliberal privatization. But the industrials lost that battle in most states.

    During that deregulation fight, which often was reported in the business press, I never saw MSM explain that consumers would be (family blog) by deregulation. (I litigated rate cases in the 90s.) I explained how the industrials’ plan would (family blog) customers, in detail, to the leading business reporter in my city. Their local media never ran that explanation.

    So, I’m not going to worry about utility investors getting maybe a higher return than perhaps they should. Electric utility rates are one of the few bills I pay where I don’t feel like I’m getting looted by giant corporations that have had their way with legislatures.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      Iirc, Texas was the sort of test case with that electricity deregulation…Lil George, as goobernator, was out on the hustings selling it as a boon for “consumers”, when anyone with the slightest economic awareness could see that we were fixin to get pwned.
      I haven’t paid much attention to all that in a long time…we’re part of a rural electric coop, and the costs are reasonable…compared to, say, my brother in Kingwood, Texas…or even the next county over(different, more corrupt coop). neighbors take turns being “on the Board”, and any shenanigans are smothered in the cradle(so far).
      that said, my few experiences with non-co-op electric proved to be chaotically complex…akin to choosing a “long distance provider”, pre-cell phone, and after the busting up of Ma Bell.
      Myriad “Choices” are fine in the toothpaste aisle, i suppose…but not in the utility “market”(see: enron, worldcom, etc)

    2. Anon II, First of the Name


      I believe that you are thinking about this issue a bit incorrectly:

      1. Yes, the average utility ratepayer has done very well under the current regulatory regime. The issues brought up in the article are, quite frankly, weird as far as a list of things to worry about; however
      2. Much of the electric utilities’ assets are in decrepit states. Essentially, those artificially low utility rates forced utilities to defer upgrades whenever possible and to buy the minimally sized assets (ie, not “future proof” against load growth). Now a large amount of utility assets are basically reaching end of life at roughly the same time. These low rates also prevented utilities from building up sinking funds.

      In order to maintain anything close to the amount of reliability that customers now expect, there will need to be massive, sustained spending on new assets. However, the utilities’ lack of accumulated savings over the last few decades (to compensate for their assets’ depreciation and eventual need for replacement) means that customers will soon experience “rate shock” as utility rates climb dramatically over a short time. Moreover, since no utility can replace all of their aging assets at once, these high rates will occur while power reliability declines.

      In effect, electricity customers will in the very near future pay more money for crappier service, and they will continue doing so for *at least* a decade, and likely longer. By the end of this decade, they will likely continue paying more money, but for slightly better service.

      1. periol

        I’m struggling to understand why these “public” utilities can’t receive infrastructure maintenance and upgrade funding from the government to help keep rates low for customers. There should obviously be safeguards to make sure they don’t become black holes for the maintenance $$, but I don’t understand why a public utility must break even or make a profit, all on its lonesome.

        Seems to me using taxpayer money to support utilities keeping rates low would be a boon to poor individuals. Obviously, that’s why it doesn’t happen, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen.

        1. Anon II, First of the Name

          Well, they can, but I guess the point that I am making is that there must be large, sustained inflow of capital into the sector–the source of this capital is up for discussion.

          Personally, I prefer that customers rather than taxpayers fund utilities for multiple reasons:

          1. People should know how much it costs to receive such services instead of having this obfuscated
          2. If people pay directly and see the consequences of their actions, they have an incentive to, for example, conserve power by better insulation and everyday habits (e.g. turning out the lights when you are not in it). Otherwise you get into a tragedy-of-the-commons-type scenario
          3. So long as a utility must charge customers in a visible manner, there is a budgetary limitation and some discipline enforced on pricing pressure. If I were a supplier to the energy industry, I would love to charge utilities according to the Visa model (~0.01% on all transactions, or in the utilities’ case, on every data point that is measured or transmitted). This is far easier to do when the payer is a government and the costs obfuscated rather than when it is directly seen as a line item on a budget.

          If the issue is that poor people shouldn’t pay as much as the rich, that is likely best handled by rebates, I think (or, better yet, directly transferring to the poor more money overall and allowing them to choose how to spend it–this is unlikely in today’s environment)

          1. periol

            “If the issue is that poor people shouldn’t pay as much as the rich, that is likely best handled by rebates, I think (or, better yet, directly transferring to the poor more money overall and allowing them to choose how to spend it–this is unlikely in today’s environment)”

            Ah, yes, means-testing. cool cool

            1. BlakeFelix

              Not necessarily, a UBI would transfer money to the poor without means testing. You want to price the power properly without leaving the poor in the dark, so make them less poor, rather than give everyone the ability to not pay for their externalities, which mostly benefits the rich, and hurts society.

    3. Olga

      I wasn’t going to comment on this article, since it’d be hard to stop. And I hate to burst your bubble, but utilities – even with giant capital costs – are not your cuddly buddies, who one can rely on never to scam a consumer. Being a regulator is often like being a Sherlock Holmes – one tries to figure out. where the bodies (aka padded expenses) have been hidden. It is an uphill battle…
      For example, AEP is planning to spend about $25 billion on transmission upgrades in the next five yrs –
      – who will cover that? Consumer, of course… whether it’s needed or not.
      And I guess you did not see the recent scandal in Ohio, where FirstEnergy bribed the speaker of the House to get a subsidy of its completely uneconomic nuke plants…
      There is a place for optimism… utilities ain’t one of them.

      1. JEHR

        Utilities need to be run by government with public money (no profit-making allowed) and not by private companies.

        1. periol


          We should also be looking to expand our list of what is considered a public utility to include the internet.

        2. Anon II, First of the Name

          Many utilities are, but you still need the regulation, and with that comes politicization. Within the US, two of the best utilities in my experience are actually government-run (TVA and BPA)

          Having said that, all you are doing under these circumstances is shifting the “profiter” (or profiteer, if that is your view) to the private companies who supply equipment to those utilities (for example, ABB, Siemens, GE, Areva, etc). I am not sure why this is better overall.

      2. Rod

        and let’s not forget some of the drivers:


        The utility commission determines a maximum allowable profit margin or “rate of return on equity” for utilities. The 2019 authorized return on equity for the utilities in the Northwest was:

        PSE: 9.5 percent
        Avista: 9.4 percent
        Northwest Natural: 9.4 percent
        Idaho Power: 9.5 percent
        Portland General Electric: 9.5 percent


        For example, if a utility were to spend $5 million building a new pipeline it would pass along the cost of the project to its ratepayers. Then the utility would also earn a guaranteed annual rate return on its investment in the pipeline. So if the rate of return were set at 10 percent, the utility would earn $500,000 in the first year ($5 million x 10 percent) and then slightly less in each subsequent year as the value of the pipeline depreciates over time. Understanding these guaranteed profits is key to understanding why a utility might be eager to pursue questionable new infrastructure projects like new pipelines or LNG facilities.

        bold mine

        1. Anon II, First of the Name

          Yes, but theoretically a regulator could say that the project was a waste of money and refuse to allow a utility to recover the funds for the project.

          This actually happens quite often, although you could argue persuasively that it does not happen frequently enough.

      3. Anon II, First of the Name

        I did not say that utilities are cute and cuddly. Whether they are saints or satan reincarnated makes no difference, in fact–the infrastructure is aging, power is considered an essential service, and far more money is needed to maintain the system going forward than has been allocated to it in the past. This is basic reliability engineering.

        An alternative–distributed generation–sounds great, but so far has not been realistic on a large scale. Once it is cheap and scalable, you will have an energy revolution. But we aren’t there yet and likely won’t be for quite a while.

    4. Billy

      Are U.S. Utilities About To Become Politicized??
      ABOUT TO?

      Governor Brown, major recipient of PG&E’s cash.

      Harris Lets Statute Of Limitations On San Onofre Lapse, Defends Governor Brown

      California Attorney General Kamala Harris had evidence in her hands that she could have used to bring former PUC President Michael Peevey, architect of the secret San Onofre deal, to justice. And she had plenty of time, three years, to file criminal charges before the statute of limitations ran out on obstruction of justice–the easiest charge to prove.

      She had all she needed from a search warrant executed at Peevey’s home in September 2015. That’s where a California Justice Department criminal investigator working on her behalf turned up damning evidence of an under-the-table deal to put $3.3 billion of the $4.7 billion needed to close the defective nuclear plant onto ratepayers. Hand-written notes, scrawled in Warsaw on Hotel Bristol stationary in March 2013–where Peevey met with a Southern Califoria Edison executive–laid out the numbers. The notes also showed that Southern California Edison would donate $25 million to a UCLA research institute as part of the deal.

      “It is…evident that Peevey utilized his position to influence SCE’s commitment to millions of dollars to UCLA to fund a research program…..” Yeah, “Fund”, as in Steer the results.

    5. heresy101

      The perspective that is missing from this article is that it ignores municipal utilities and co-ops. They are right about Bonbright and all the issues with rate of return, stock prices, and the cost of capital, but those don’t directly apply when there is no rate of return.

      Rather than seeing fights over lowering rates of return, we will see people wise up and get rid of private utilities and their obscene rates of return (11% in California) on a monopoly business. We need to put PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E out of business and turn them into smaller public utilities (like Sacramento Municipal Utility District SMUD) or into public utility co-ops. The Green New Deal is only possible if the profit motive is take out of utilities. PG&E has been fighting renewables, opposed to upgrading it’s obsolete system because they need to pay stockholders, disgusting executive salaries, and “bonuses” for executives.

      This writer knows this isn’t just leftist slogans, because he and his co-workers took a small municipal utility to 100% GHG neutral electric supply at 15% below PG&E. There will be rough patches with the blackouts because the California Independent System Operator is running on the neoliberal model bases on “markets” rather than developing a reliable energy portfolio. SMUD doesn’t use the market model of CAISO and didn’t have blackouts in their territory. Costs will be lower, or as low as now, because the utilities will be run by engineers to operate reliably and much more cost effective.

      In about five years, the massive of amount of floating wind turbines (12-14 MW turbines) off California’s shore will provide more than enough renewable electricity to make California and other states run 100% on electricity for buildings and vehicles.

      Die! PG&E. Die!

      1. Anon II, First of the Name

        In about five years, the massive of amount of floating wind turbines (12-14 MW turbines) off California’s shore will provide more than enough renewable electricity to make California and other states run 100% on electricity for buildings and vehicles.

        1. To get the offshore wind to the mainland involves a very large amount of technical (and expensive) apparatus. This stuff is not cheap (go look up “HVDC multilevel converters” and “AC FACTS”).
        2. Wind power is not a panacea, nor is it good for the environment. Wind turbines also last a fraction of most generators, meaning that instead of paying money for “maintenance” you are going to be paying for “replacement”. Other than to accountants worrying about operating Vs capital budgets, this isn’t material.
        3. Once this wind power magically transports itself onto the mainland, it must still be distributed. this requires all that ageing infrastructure that requires upgrade and replacement.

        People don’t like to face up to the reality that power is dirty and inconveniently generated, and to produce it sustainably is far more expensive than people have been historically accustomed to paying. It sucks, but there we are.

        1. heresy101

          1. It is not nearly as difficult to use underwater AC or DC cables to bring the electricity to land as you fear. Thousands of wind turbines in the Baltic Sea have brought their electricity to land to shore with undersea cables for decades. Europe and China are now installing high voltage DC lines. LADWP has had a DC line to Washington (or Alberta) for over 40 years now. The costs are high but they carry a lot of energy.
          Fifteen years ago, we found a source of electricity in Vancouver, BC that would be carried in underwater cable all down the west coast at a reasonable price as an alternative because PG&E was trying to cut off transmission access. We found a local source of energy so we didn’t go that route, but it was a viable option.

          2. I was referencing floating offshore turbines, which are just now becoming viable. They will impact the ocean floor where they are anchored and the underwater cables. Modern wind turbines last a long time. We had a 28 year contract for 10MW that is still performing without a hitch. The counterparty was “so worried about a breakdown” that they gave us a flat price (lower than coal) for the whole contract period. Sure they will break down eventually, everything does.

          3. If the floating 3000 turbines are placed between the Bay Area and Eureka, the underwater cables can run under the Golden Gate Bridge and be separated to connect to a half dozen substations throughout the Bay, with a couple cables running all the way to Sacramento. That way a long distance transmission line wouldn’t be required. A similar setup would be developed around the LA and San Diego Areas.
          Current wind turbine energy is in the $15-20/MWh range and these would be more expensive but probably in the $50-70/MWh range. Our whole power portfolio ranged around $75/MWh for 100% GHG neutral energy. Wind isn’t as horribly expensive as nuclear or new coal plant power.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Jordan Grider died while camping alone in the Boundary Waters. Was he devoured by wolves?”

    Things not to do alone if you can help it. Go scuba-diving. Go rock climbing (ask Aron Ralston). Go hunting. Go camping in the middle of winter at the back-end of Woop Woop.

      1. savebyirony

        Ever seen the Documentary “Grizzly Man”? no fixin’ arrogant, either. Or maybe the bear inherently knew how.

      2. Maritimer

        I cruise torrents for odd commercial free material. Recently came across a series called: “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” Not a bad production. This is about folks in dangerous situations and surviving. Most of them seem intelligent and educated but they get into Jackpots basically because they act negligently and do not take proper safety precautions. One, for example, involves mature Boy Scout Leaders taking some kids in for a hike with disastrous results; all of which could have been avoided with basis preparations. 110% negligence.

        Interesting thing is that the dialogue of the show hardly ever points out the stupidity and lack of preparation by those endangered. These are not “accidents”. Carl Sagan’s 1995 “The dumbing down of America….” is truly upon us and featured as vicarious entertainment.

  20. zagonostra

    >The Politics of Phantasmagoria

    I watched clips of DNC “Convention” and I’m sure I’ll watch clips of RNC’s as well. Since neither party is proposing policy, we need a new label to describe the brand of politics that is on display. I propose using Wiki’s definition of “phantasmagoria ” below since it fits so nicely.

    Phantasmagoria was a form of horror theatre that used one or more magic lanterns to project frightening images such as skeletons, demons, and ghosts onto walls, smoke, or semi-transparent screens, typically using rear projection to keep the lantern out of sight. Wikipedia

  21. Dayle Brown

    I’ve never commented here before, but the beautiful little Maxi and your loss of her brought me to tears and a wish to send my condolences. Having had both pets and children, I can say that our love for them is in many ways the same. Please know that you have my very deepest sympathy.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “It’s called vomit fraud. And it could make your Uber trip really expensive”

    I was going to suggest that Uber-users use their mobiles to film the car interior as they leave but upon reflection, Uber would not even care about your ‘proof’ if you complained about an extra charge as they already have your money.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      First world problem easily fixed by raising one arm, hailing a cab, paying the driver in cash, and leaving without either rider or driver knowing the other’s name.

      If people keep using the crooks and fraudsters like Uber to save a couple bucks on their ride, they deserve what they get.

  23. DJG

    Jordan Grider and the wolves. The wolves are getting bad press–given that the evidence is not that he was attacked by wolves. There are few substantiated wolf attacks in U.S. history. One scientist had a standing award to anyone who could find a wolf attack on humans. He never gave out the prize.

    Shaving with hunting knives? Not enough supplies? I am reminded of the man who wanted to pass the winter in Alaska in the re-conditioned school bus.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Suicide is the most likely reason. Kindness to the family on the part of the ME occurs. Jmo.

    2. Martin Oline

      I had relatives who lived in Ohio early in 1800’s. From Historical Collections of Harrison County, in the State of Ohio by Charles Hanna p. 62 “He (Thomas West) went three miles to school through the forest, making his way by means of the blazings, and could not remain for the afternoon sessions, as he had to return home before evening because of the wolves.” There is a reason for the Big Bad Wolf in fairy tales, but that too is apocryphal and unsubstantiated.

    3. shtove

      I recommend Grizzly Man by Werner Herzog – wonderful reflection on the games we play with nature.

    4. savebyirony

      I loved the book “Never Cry Wolf” growing up (still do). Gave me a whole new view and admiration for wolves. Amazing creatures.

  24. DJG

    Thanks, Obama: Paul Street is in a really wild mood today. I recommend the essay, which almost wallows in the continuing catastrophe. The problem is this: Is it wallowing if everything Street discusses is true?

    To wit, quoting >
    At the same time, Obama’s service to wealthy elites during his militantly neoliberal class-rule presidency helped feed mass cynicism about the effectiveness of voting and America’s supposed grand electoral “democracy.” It combined with the complimentary neoliberal awfulness of Hillary to help de-mobilize the Democratic Party’s majority progressive base so that Trump was able to squeak by with help from racist and partisan voter suppression and the ridiculous, democracy-flunking, right-leaning Electoral College. Trump didn’t win the 2016 election. The neoliberal Goldman Sachs and Pentagon Dems lost it.

    1. Billy

      Do they have a local tradition of avoiding the commands of five cops yelling at you to show your hands, turn around and not reach into your car door for something?

      1. Oso_in_Oakland

        they likely have a local tradition of not being armed or carrying weapons in their vehicles, as well as a local tradition of entering said vehicle without being shot in the back by screaming thugs – same as white people.

      2. HotFlash

        If only the police would understand that violence never solves anything, perhaps they would practice peaceful policing. If only there were some way to get them to do that!

  25. fresno dan

    So the sun is visible and the sky appears blue. This is the best the sky has looked in 5 days or so. So apparently they are getting the CA fires that have been smoking up the valley somewhat contained.

  26. jr

    Re: the Others…………

    This is a Youtube show produced by the NY Post called “The Basement Office” where the host talks about UFO stuff with Nick Pope. Pope is a British UFO investigator and once did so professionally for the British government. This particular show is about sightings of beings, the Third Kind.

    Incidentally, this is my dream job. The story that stood out for me was from Zimbabwe where 62 school children were visited by two humanoids who communicated with them. The entities arrived in a flying disk. No adults witnessed the encounter but have attested to the emotional states of the children when they arrived. Here is a documentary about those events and video footage of the children being interviewed by an American psychiatrist:

    The children’s stories were and have remained consistent. Specific details like the height and appearance of the beings and the craft. And, according to one little girl at 11:18, there was a message: Earth is in trouble.

      1. jr

        I just watched the documentary in it’s entirety, at another point a group of students is asked why they think the “men” visited them. One boy mentions that he got the sense “something big” is going to happen.

          1. ambrit

            His most “famous” book I think would be “Passport to Magonia.” Long time readers might remember the ‘fun’ that was had with this trope here in the “long ago.”
            Vallee, being French originally, has that “European Sensibility” to the questions of “reality” that dog our footsteps in navigating the cosmos.

    1. Tom Bradford

      Kind’a like wondering why God chose to send His message to us through the medium of an itinerant no-body preaching to uneducated, illiterate peasants who had to be within earshot* over a three-year span in a backward backwater of the Roman Empire two thousand years ago. There were better, more efficient channels for disseminating messages even then.

  27. Jason Boxman

    Biden hoses his own voters (Biden Wants Black Voter Turnout Similar to Obama’s. He’ll Need Black Men.):

    Kenny Paskel, 24, sat silent in a corner. When prompted, he said that Mr. Biden would probably be his choice, but that a felony conviction on his record since the age of 17 prevented him from voting. He cannot vote in this election, or any election in his lifetime, unless state law changes.

    From the intro:

    For Democrats, who rely on Black voters to power their electoral advantages in America’s urban centers, the difference between good and great Black voter turnout is often a question of Black men.

    Disenfranchising generations of voters you need to win doesn’t seem like great electoral strategy.

    1. a different chris

      And makes no sense at all. You send people to prison to first protect the general population from them, but secondly to rehabilitate them.

      Once they’ve “paid their debt to society” then they need to be allowed to vote again.

      But it wouldn’t be America (f yeah!) if we didn’t repeatedly kick people once they are on the ground. Our police are just following the zeitgeist.

      1. Procopius

        Rehabilitation is no longer one of the goals of prisons. They are, at best, confinement facilities. I recall that Sing Sing prison was sold as a place of rehabilitation; the prisoners were required to remain silent to aid them in meditating on their sins, IIRC. That belief has been discarded. The trouble is rehabilitation is expensive. In this day of private prisons that will not happen unless the taxpayers agree to pay for it, which the elected politicians do not do in their name. We’re lucky if we can get the sheriffs and prison owners to feed the prisoners adequately. They normally don’t even provide adequate medical care, so the idea of offering literacy training or drug rehab is unthinkable.

  28. polecat

    I talked to a friend yesterday, who lives within the Sacramento environs .. said the only good thing about that smoke was that it at least had moderated to some extent the hellish temps produced by this latest heat wave. Still ….. ugh!
    One wonders what effects these awful smokey conditions will have with regard to pandemic spread .. and any suffering therein.

  29. Billy

    Children raised in greener areas have higher IQ, study finds

    Of course they do. As their brains develop, the children are surrounded cleaner air, subtle shades of green and earth colors, light and dark, different smells, sounds, animals, insects and varied objects of different sizes, shapes and dimensions changing with the seasons. They learn to navigate and predict within that and their senses are more developed.

    Contrast that with the brutal brick and concrete of the city, with its square monchromatic shapes and its obvious why the country and suburbs are better for children. Not even mentioning the noise and confusion, plus negative societal elements of the city and housing estates.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Lead poisoning, partially from automotive traffic, still in the soil, in the paint, in the water, etc., might also be a factor. They said they accounted for air pollution, but the environment is far more polluted than just the air.

    2. periol

      Depending on what kind of rural living we’re talking about, the pollution can be even worse for kids. Lived in rural Nebraska for a short time recently, and there were some issues. The beet sugar plant nearby produced some serious pollution and odors, and there is basically no information about toxicity or pollution levels – the state shut down most of the reporting after the EPA downgraded reporting requirements a few years back. Colorado has made moves to force sugar beet factories to lower their pollution levels, but few other states have followed their lead.

      Almost all the fields are full GMO monocrops, so there’s tons of planes flying around spraying pesticides, in one case across the street from the first house we rented. On top of that, the water for the area was *just* barely up to EPA standards, a few years after the water had failed EPA standards. Thankfully, not for lead. But “just barely” up to EPA standards quite honestly means higher level of toxins in the water than my personal standards can handle. Definitely not a good thing for kids, imo.

      To make matters worse, the area was on the verge of being a food desert. Only a few grocery stores in the “city” that stocked fresh vegetables, and they weren’t really “fresh”. Outside of the weekly farmer’s market in the summer and a few farmer co-ops in the area, it was pretty impossible to get good healthy vegetables. It was rough for us (vegetarians), but it was hell on our poor rescue house rabbit.

      Suffice to say, not a place I would want to raise kids, at least if I want them to be healthy. The agricultural pollution and spraying was particularly troubling to me.

      1. jr

        The notion of vegetarians literally being surrounded by hundreds of acres of ostensibly edible but actually poisoned plants and being unable to consistently access fresh vegetables at the store is absurdity in it’s purest form. It’s a Cosmic Farce. I’m very sorry you have to put up with that.

        1. periol

          Thanks man, it was rough. We got out of there ASAP, but unfortunately the rabbit didn’t make it. It was a very rough year, not going to lie, and I could definitely feel the impacts on my body after living there for a year.

          To put little smile on a sad story, a couple of months after Harry the house hare passed and we moved back to California, a house rabbit showed up on our property, and he was more than willing to give up the vagabound life and come inside for free food, hay, and greens. We call him Mr. Simba, and he’s a good bunny.

      1. Procopius

        … able to unify the party along with swing voters.

        I don’t think that’s high on the priority list of the Obama Alumni Association. Since before the convention they’ve been gleeful about backtracking on the “most progressive platform in the history of the world.”

  30. John Beech

    Falwell . . . top evangelicals are political figures – I still don’t care what anybody does in their bedroom. Those who do are puritanical-minded busybody hypocrites.

    11th Commandment . . . mind thy own business!

    1. periol

      Jerry Falwell Jr. and many other top evangelicals care a great deal about what you do in the bedroom though, hence why people like myself point out that they are puritanical-minded busybody hypocrites.

    2. Clive

      Yes, why in this day and age is anyone supposed to be interested in this?

      Even in the ooh-err-missus tittilation obsessed U.K. we stopped caring about this sort of thing years ago.

  31. John Beech

    Brutal police shooting? Clean shoot in my view and nothing brutal about it. If you don’t follow instructions, and worse go reaching into your car, then you deserve what you get. No cop is gonna wait to see what you come out with! This was clearly justified.

    1. Buckeye

      I’ll believe your manure when I see cops shoot down right-wing protesters who really ARE carrying guns, like we’ve seen recently in Michigan’s State House, Idaho’s State House and in Ohio at the State House and the private home of the Health Director.

      And plenty of other States the past five months.

    2. Michael

      “This was clearly justified.”
      Perhaps in the Police procedural manual. Which has to be changed. Updated if you will to include recent events. Or I forsee Police drawing their guns and the crowd that seems to always be around pulling out theirs instead of their phones and …
      Will the bodycam be on then?

    3. Aumua

      Disobeying the police is not a capital offense. It really shouldn’t even be a crime. Was the victim’s behavior the wisest choice? Maybe not, but so what? He doesn’t deserve execution (shot 7 times in the back) for it. Are the cops afraid he might go for a gun and try to shoot them? You bet they are but guess what, they are going to have learn to deal with that fear without resorting to murder. They chose their dangerous career.

      What I’d love to know is what the police were even doing there in the first place? This is why we talk about shifting funds and responsibilities away from police departments to other (in many cases) more appropriate solutions.

    1. newcatty

      John Beech, your passive aggressive smugness is sad. Please refrain from being jerk, if possible, with your “sympathies”. Ignore it Stephen, I am sure you are. You are right, your kitty loved you truly, as you loved her.

  32. molon labe

    @Stephen T–sorry for your loss. She is beautiful. By the way, your last sentence is heartbreaking.

  33. drumlin woodchuckles

    About electric utilities about to become politicized . . . prices for power should get painfully high and should stay that way. The way to encourage conservation is to discourage waste. And the way to discourage waste ( including wasteful use) is through punitive pricing.

    About vomit fraud against Uber passengers . . . . I have no sympathy. It serves them right for using Uber.
    Let them be charged. Let them be defrauded. Let them get zero of their money back.

  34. Chris Beck

    Dear Stephen T.
    Your post about Maxi breaks my heart. When an animal loves you that is one
    of the most precious things in the world. Often that love is not valued. But
    clearly you valued it and I am sure you gave Maxi the best life and love
    she could possibly have had. I lit a candle for Maxi. That is what I always
    do when one of my loved cats passes. If I may be so forward as to make
    a suggestion, if you can turn your grief into action to help another cat, one
    in need, you will further honor Maxi’s memory and it will help repair your soul.
    Chris B.

    1. malchats

      Thank you. When I’m ready, I plan on offering myself as a foster for cats from the local animal shelter organization, at least for the next year or so. I’m hoping to host cats in need off and on for a bit so I can do a little traveling (as can best be done these days) before I finally settle down with another couple of permanent cats in the household around the beginning of 2022.

      I highly recommend fostering to anyone who is thinking of adopting a cat or dog; it’s a good “try before you buy” option (though the shelter usually won’t let you adopt your first fosters; they want to get a couple of hostings out of you).

      I couldn’t do it before now, with Maxi being here; she never would have accepted another cat. But I’m looking forward to bringing a variety of cats into my home, to fill my void and give them sanctuary. We’ll help each other. — malchats aka Stephen

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