2:00PM Water Cooler 9/1/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

Here again is the Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin:

Still better with Illinois and Indiana, but the rest of the Midwest moving up in unison is a little concerning.

I left out positivity, becaue the chart becomes unreadable if I include it. Interesting spike in Missouri; I wonder if it’s a reporting problem at the state level, since they seem to be cropping up all over.

Here’s the global leaderboard:

* * *

“Monitoring the Coronavirus Outbreak in Metro Areas Across the U.S.” [New York Times]. • From that article, college towns:

FL: “Florida Department of Health claims number of COVID-19 cases in schools is confidential” [NEWS4 Jax]. “The Duval County Health Department told Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) officials Tuesday they needed to get permission from the state level in order to tell parents and the community how many cases are in its schools. On Friday, after multiple requests for answers, the Florida Department of Health said the information about the number of COVID-19 cases in schools was ‘confidential.’ …. Healthcare law experts who spoke to News4Jax have denied that the statute cited by Florida health officials applies to school systems. The Florida Department of Health did not respond to questions asking if or when it will give school districts approval to publish the data. The health officials also didn’t give a specific date for when they plan to release the updated copy of the data themselves.”

FL: “COVID-19 turned their Miami Springs nursing home into a death trap. The virus killed 52” [Miami Herald]. “Early in the pandemic, Florida was determined to keep a lid of secrecy on the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities. The state refused to identify homes where positive tests had occurred until the Miami Herald and other news organizations banded together and filed a public records lawsuit. As for Fair Havens specifically, multiple workers said they weren’t initially told which residents had COVID-19, or given the proper PPE (a claim Fair Havens disputes). There also wasn’t adequate training, inspection reports confirm. ‘They didn’t want to say anything to the personnel working there,’ [nursing assistant Niurka Solano] said, a sentiment shared by others who worked there. As of the beginning of May, the facility’s infection control nurse did not keep a surveillance map of infections within the facility, according to an inspection report.” • “Fair Havens.” “Never eat at a place called ‘Mom’s’.”

IA: “Ames, Iowa City COVID Outbreaks Are Worst In The World” [Iowa Starting Line]. “Iowa’s exploding COVID-19 outbreaks at state universities in Ames and Iowa City are now disasters that can only be fully measured on a global scale. Ames holds the distinction this morning as the worst coronavirus outbreak in the entire United States, while Iowa City is at third on the list [Update: on Monday, Iowa City climbed to the number two spot in the list, while Ames remained at the top]. The per capita rates are worse than any individual country in the world, and appear to surpass any state in some of the other currently hardest-hit countries.”

IL: “COVID-19’s true toll in Illinois is likely higher than reported. A closer look at ‘excess deaths’ in 2020.” [Chicago Tribune]. “The official COVID-19 death toll in Illinois may not account for at least 1,000 fatalities — and potentially far more — that could be attributable to the pandemic, according to a Tribune analysis of federal data. Through July 25, Illinois had officially recorded 7,397 COVID-19 deaths. But public health experts say that for a fuller picture of the pandemic’s toll, it’s important to look at so-called excess deaths — or deaths beyond the number that would typically occur during a given time period. Examining excess deaths can help capture both COVID-19 cases that went uncounted and the greater numbers of deaths from conditions exacerbated by the pandemic, such as untreated heart attacks or fatal drug overdoses. ‘There is an excess mortality, even though we’re doing our best to capture all these COVID-19 deaths,” said Dr. Ponni Arunkumar, Cook County’s chief medical examiner. ‘Just looking at the excess mortality after this pandemic ends is the only way we can get a true sense of the numbers of deaths due to COVID-19.'” • Yep.

NY: “Here’s the check: Restaurants serve NY $2B lawsuit” [The Real Deal]. “More than 300 restaurants are seeking class-action status for a lawsuit against the city and state, demanding they fork over $2 billion for banning indoor dining, Crain’s reported…. The lead plaintiff in the suit is the Queens restaurant Il Bacco, which sits just 500 feet from the Nassau County border, where indoor dining is allowed at 50 percent capacity. ‘According to Gov. Cuomo, it is dangerous to eat at [Il Bacco] in Little Neck, Queens, but it is safe to dine indoors a few hundred feet east,’ says the suit. New York City is the only area of the state where indoor dining is not allowed. The lawsuit — filed the same day that New Jersey announced indoor dining will resume at 25 percent capacity — argues that there is no scientific evidence for the restriction.”

OH: “Ohio’s coronavirus cases drop after statewide mask order, dramatically so in some counties” [Cleveland.com]. • Handy chart:

The unbiquitous “trust science”… That thinking is so sloppy and bad.


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

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

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

The electoral map. July 17: Georgia, Ohio, ME-2 move from Leans Republican to Toss-up. Continued yikes. On July 7, the tossup were 86. Only July 17, they were 56. Now they are 91. This puts Biden at 278, i.e. over 270. August 18: Still no changes. August 31: Indiana moves from Likely to Safe Republican. Despite the sturm and drang, and the polls, the consensus on the electoral college remains the same: Biden ahead, Trump within striking distance.

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

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

Time to restore the election countdown:


Biden (D)(1): “The Left Case Against Supporting Joe Biden in the General Election:” [Benjamin Studebaker (Deschain)]. “Joe Biden loves to tell us that “nothing will fundamentally change”. If nothing changes, another Democrat will normalise what Trump has done and frustrate the American people into voting for someone even more right-wing. Look at what’s happened with Bush. He’s more popular than ever before. In the 00s, we recognised that Bush was nuts…. The Democrats are a big part of how we got to where we are. And if we think that the Republicans are authoritarian nationalists, it is the Democrats who have encouraged them to become that way. The ordinary American cannot look to the Democrats to resist the ravenous elite. They look to the nationalist firebrands of the right because there is nothing else on the menu….We [the left] can oppose the Trump administration in its second term. But if it’s Biden, we’ll be stuck defending him as he slugs the ordinary American in the face. The American people won’t forget the black eye we’ve given them, and they’ll vote for the leaders who will be the death of us.”

Biden (D)(2): “Voting in a De-Facto Military State” [Patrick Lawrence, Consortium News (pjay)]. On foreign policy:

Biden promises a straight-ahead return to the policies that prevailed under Obama and Obama’s predecessors: a reclamation of “global leadership,” a renewed emphasis on interventions we justify, per usual, by casting ourselves as humanity’s archangels…. Team Biden’s foreign policy advisers are vast in number. Foreign Policy counts more than 2,000 of them, organized into 20 working groups covering specific issues — arms control, defense, intelligence, humanitarian missions, and so on —and geographies: Europe, the Middle East, East Asia. These people come from consultancies, think tanks, the State Department, academia. There is a heavy layer of Obama administration holdovers and, of course, Pentagon bureaucrats, some quite senior.

UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “Biden is on track to lose the Electoral College” [Boston Globe]. “A month or so ago, the notion that President Trump would win reelection was dismissed as delusional…. His reelection campaign hasn’t just given up on trying to win the popular vote; they never thought it was possible in the first place. Former vice president Joe Biden, however, is fully capable of losing enough states to lose the election in the Electoral College. If the last three weeks are any indication, he’s well on his way to doing just that…. A Change Research poll was posted at CNBC.com. The top-line national number had Biden comfortably ahead. But in the six ‘battleground states,’ Biden’s lead, statistically speaking, had evaporated. What all the pros know is that the president ‘under-polls.’ Trump is usually 2 percent stronger than he ‘performs’ in any given published poll. “People don’t want to admit they’re voting for Trump,” said one pollster. Bloomberg News recently ran a story saying the same thing. If Trump under-polling is a matter of fact, then the races in the six battleground states, the ones that will decide the outcome in November, are dead heats.” • Ulp. More: “The Biden campaign’s theory is that the election is a referendum on Trump — nothing more, nothing less…. For many weeks, this was the rationale behind Biden’s confinement to his basement in his home in Delaware. The idea being that you stand aside when your opponent is busy self-destructing…. One of the central tenets of politics was captured years ago by Osama bin Laden. He said: ‘When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, they will naturally want to side with the strong horse.’ Biden, throughout this phase of the general election campaign, has been the weak horse. Whatever else it did, the Republican National Convention projected Trump as the strong horse. And nowhere is it written that voters have to like Trump to vote for him.” • A fire bell in the night….

UPDATE Biden (D)(4): “Can Biden’s Center Hold?” [The New Yorker]. Betteridge’s Law, binch, plus the Yeats reference agrees (“mere anarchy is loosed up the world”). “Biden entered the Democratic primaries with a narrow goal: to end the Trump Presidency. Most Americans, he argued, did not want a revolution. At an early fund-raiser in New York, he promised not to “demonize” the rich and said that ‘nothing would fundamentally change.’…. But, by the time Biden effectively clinched the nomination, in March, he had begun to describe his candidacy as a bid for systemic change on the scale of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.” • The seeming paradox disappears when you realize that in the first quote, Biden was talking to his donors. The New Yorker’s tweet is wrong:

Not “skittish voters.” Donors. Big donors. I’m so old I remember when The New Yorker was famous for fact-checking….

Another snippet: “When I asked Obama about the tensions in the Party, he cast them as features of ‘the traditional Democratic idea.” He said, ‘You have a big-tent party. And that means that you tolerate, listen to, and embrace folks who are different than you, and try to get them in the fold.'” • Like, the Bush administration and Sanders at the same time. Tents, no matter how big, don’t tend to cover this county and the next one, too. Anyhow, worth reading to get a sense of where the liberals’ liberals at The New Yorker are.

UPDATE Biden (D)(5): “Biden condemns violence and asks if Americans ‘really feel safe under Donald Trump'” [CNN]. Biden: “I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting. It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted. Violence will not bring change, it will only bring destruction. It’s wrong in every way.” • Idea: Another Crime Bill!

Trump (R)(1): “Why Trump Commands So Much Loyalty From His Base” [Counterpunch]. “Willing to overlook his lies, improprieties, and corruption, Trump’s voters have a transactional relationship with the president that is practical, powerful, and surprisingly instructional to the rest of us…. Trump’s presidency has meant very clear-cut things to specific (but overlapping) communities, movements, and demographics. He offers his anti-abortion supporters a radical transformation of the judiciary from lifetime federal judgeships to Supreme Court seats. To his anti-immigrant base, he has shown he is willing to go to any lengths to keep out migrants and refugees, going as far as separating children from parents and even deporting them into the hands of their abusers. To racist suburban white people, he is making good on a promise to keep Black and Brown people out of their neighborhoods. To law enforcement, their families, and supporters, he has promised to uphold police autonomy and immunity from prosecution. And on and on. Examined through the lens of such far-reaching promises that Trump has either kept his word on or aggressively pursued, it is no wonder that enough Americans are supporting him so as to make the election competitive. Trump has shown his base that he is willing to go as far as it takes to please them, including violating norms, pushing the boundaries of laws, and even breaking them. Such fealty is rare in a politician, let alone in a president. Trump offers his base clear-cut policies while his campaign hopes that voters look past his character flaws… In contrast, the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden offers his voters few specific policies or sweeping changes, and his campaign hopes the Democratic Party base focuses mostly on his character, personality, and words and connects with him on a personal level.” • If I could get #MedicareForAll out of Biden, I’d be as transactional as all get out, and I’d overlook Biden’s massive and obvious character flaws, as well as his horrid record.

UPDATE Trump (R)(2): “An unlikely state tightens up” [Politico]. “Minnesota, which once looked like a vanity project for Donald Trump, is suddenly emerging as a critical test of his effort to turn his campaign around. Interviews with more than a dozen officials and strategists from both parties in recent days depict a state in which Joe Biden is leading, but where the president is making inroads in rural Minnesota. … In the run-up to the 2016 election, Minnesota seemed like a stretch for Trump. No Republican had carried the state since Richard Nixon in 1972, and Trump made minimal effort there. Even so, Trump came close to victory, carrying 78 of Minnesota’s 87 counties and losing the state by fewer than 45,000 votes. Following the election, Trump said he regretted not doing more. The state’s 10 electoral votes — the same number as neighboring Wisconsin — became an enduring source of infatuation for him. He’s still preoccupied with his near-miss four years later. ‘One more speech, I would have won,’ Trump told a crowd recently in Mankato, a small college town in southern Minnesota. ‘It was so close.'” • A Trump crowd in a college town? Can any Minnesotans comment on this?

UPDATE Trump (R)(3): “Six Democrat mayors in Minnesota endorse Trump over Biden” [WFLA]. “Six Democrat mayors in Minnesota announced they’ve endorsed President Donald Trump over Joe Biden saying the Democratic candidate hasn’t done enough to help the working class. In the letter dated Friday and viewed by the Duluth News Tribune, the mayors argued, “by putting tariffs on our products and supporting bad trade deals, politicians like Joe Biden did nothing to help the working class.” The mayors claimed their region dubbed Iron Range had lost ‘thousands of jobs.’ That portion of Minnesota they represent is named for its iron ore mining districts.” • I don’t know why Trump isn’t hammering the fact that he shit-canned TPP.

UPDATE Trump (R)(4): “Iron Range mayors pitch Trump with Pence” [Duluth News-Tribune]. “Kevin Arenz, 58, and Chris Klein, 37, rode motorcycles to the event from the Twin Cities, riding for the Boots on the Ground Bikers for Trump. ‘I don’t consider him a politician,’ Arenz, of Savage, Minnesota, said of Trump. ‘He’s the president of the United States and the president of the world. What he’s doing by stopping endless wars wouldn’t have happened without him.’ ‘I don’t care what comes out of his mouth,’ Klein, of Richfield, Minnesota, said of Trump. ‘I care that he has balls.'”

* * *

“DNC Pours All Campaign Funding Into New York, California To Win Popular Vote By Even Greater Margin Than 2016” [The Onion]. • Actually, they’re not doing this. Yet.

* * *


Realignment and Legitimacy


Universal concrete material benefits:

The VSAP debacle (see NC here and here). Thread:

These people get it, and naturally nothing will be done, short of taking sledgehammers to the machines.

Stats Watch

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

Manufacturing: “August 2020 ISM and Markit Manufacturing Surveys Continue To Improve” [Econintersect]. “The ISM Manufacturing survey improved and remains in expansion. The Markit PMI manufacturing index also improved and remains in expansion…. Based on these surveys and the district Federal Reserve Surveys, one would expect the Fed’s Industrial Production index growth rate to be slightly better than last month. Overall, surveys do not have a high correlation to the movement of industrial production (manufacturing) since the Great Recession. No question these surveys suggest the economy is no longer in recession.” • “The economy” is doing a lot more work there than it normally does, considering the massive restructuring in favor of monopolies that’s underway.

Leading Indicators: “22 August 2020 New York Fed Weekly Economic Index (WEI): Index Declined But Remains On A Recovery Trend” [Econintersect]. “The New York Fed’s Weekly Leading Index (WLI) continues to show an economy that is marginally worse than seen during the Great Recession. However, this index remains on a recovery trend…. This data set should be considered a high-frequency coincident indicator on a par with the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index produced by the Philly Fed – and both show conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic are already worse than the Great Recession. However, the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index is improving whilst the WLI is still declining. Logic would say with the partial reopening of the economy – the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index seems to be correct.” • 63 days…

* * *

Debt: “Credit Card Firms Split on Fate of Consumers While U.S. Cuts Aid” [Bloomberg]. “A fissure is forming in the U.S. credit card industry: Are consumers about to go bankrupt or bounce back? On one side, risk-management pioneer Capital One Financial Corp. is reining in credit lines to reduce its exposure. On the other, the nation’s largest card issuer, JPMorgan Chase & Co., is rolling out a new card designed for travelers and diners — the ultimate countercyclical bet. Those moves are just the tip of a debate unfolding inside the industry as Congress deadlocks over extending $600 weekly checks to millions of unemployed Americans. In some corners, worries are mounting that households will struggle to make ends meet, max out their credit and default. But some banks see an opportunity to attract people who are still doing fine.

Retail: “AirAsia to Charge Passengers Who Check In at Airport Counters” [Bloomberg]. “AirAsia’s Chief Operations Officer Javed Malik said the move is aimed at encouraging customers to use the other check-in means and minimize physical contact between guests and staff during the coronavirus pandemic. Fees will be waived for passengers with reduced mobility and premium travelers, as well as those affected by flight disruptions or airport kiosk outages, AirAsia said. The charges apply to airport counters in Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, as well as Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan and Hawaii’s capital Honolulu.” • Go long social distancing (and, I suppose, kiosk manufacturing. Though I’d like to know how the fomites on those touch screens are cleaned. How do we know this isn’t a whole new vector of transmission?).

Manufacturing: “Boeing seeks to cut production costs of 787-8 to boost sales” [Leeham News and Analysis]. “The 787-9 and 787-10 are high margin aircraft Boeing counted on to reduce the billions of dollars in deferred production and tooling costs. At one time, this exceeded $32bn. The early program difficulties resulted in the production and parts of the -8 to be substantially different than the -9/10, which have 95% commonality. The -8 was only 30% common. In 2018, Boeing changed the -8’s tail to be virtually identical to the -9/10. The change boosted commonality to about 40%, LNA was told at the time. The key is to get as many parts of the 787-8 to be common with the 787-9 and -10 as possible. During 2019 only six 787-8s were built against 122 787-9/-10. The economics of building six parts per year versus 122 makes the 787-8 a low margin product… Why hasn’t this been done already? With a production of a 787-8 every two months, the investment of revising the thousands of documents and procedures to bring the 787-8 up to the -9/-10 build standard wasn’t a wise investment. The post-COVID market changes this.” • Boeing paid for the 787’s “early program difficulties” with the 737-MAX. Now it’s still paying.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 75 Extreme Greed (previous close: 75 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 73 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 1 at 12:51pm. Our greed is not really that extreme. Can’t we get ‘er into the mid-80s, at least?

The Biosphere

“How SUVs conquered the world – at the expense of its climate” [Guardian]. “The rise of the SUV as the world’s pre-eminent car has been so rapid that the consequences of this new status – the altered patterns of urban life, air quality, pedestrian safety, where to park the things – are still coming into focus. But it’s increasingly clear that SUVs’ most profound impact is playing out within the climate crisis, where their surging popularity is producing a vast new source of planet-cooking emissions. Last year, the International Energy Agency made a finding that stunned even its own researchers. SUVs were the second largest cause of the global rise in carbon dioxide emissions over the past decade, eclipsing all shipping, aviation, heavy industry and even trucks, usually the only vehicles to loom larger than them on the road.” • They’re obese and vicious-looking. Good job, America, or rather, “Good job, American automobile executives, who should rot in hell next to the cigarette executives.” I hate those things.

“A burning chemical plant may be just the tip of Hurricane Laura’s damage in this area of oil fields and industry” [Phys.org]. “Hurricane Laura’s damage will reveal itself over the coming days. The storm passed directly over the large Hackberry oil field, located in a sensitive marsh environment south of Lake Charles. The area includes thousands of active and abandoned wells and associated infrastructure, such as storage tanks and pipelines…. Chemical plants often operate under emergency rules that relax regulations during and immediately after severe storms…. The failure of storage systems designed to keep the chemicals from reacting with air or water often produces the most dramatic releases. The Arkema chemical fire during Hurricane Harvey and this chlorine gas release are examples of these high-visibility failures. People living near the Arkema plant sued, saying the chemicals caused respiratory problems and contaminated their water. The absence of plant workers during the storm can exacerbate these issues, and small problems can become large ones in the absence of any intervention.”

“DIY Firefighting In California” [NPR]. “While multiple historic fires blazed, it became clear that there’s a shortage of firefighters, airplanes and firetrucks to combat them. The state is doing what it can, but many calls for help have gone unanswered. It’s been a similar story over the past few years. It’s why Californians are increasingly taking matters into their own hands — creating a growing market for DIY firefighting. As California entered this fire season, people began trying to sell used firetrucks on the Bay Area’s Craigslist. One Craiglister posted a 1975 GMC firetruck for $7,000 or best offer. ‘Save yourself from a disaster,’ they wrote. A man named Paul posted a 1982 Ford firetruck for $15,000. He assures it’s ‘in good working order.’ But there’s a catch: ‘for pick up in North Dakota.’ That’s a 30-hour drive away. A company called Vans From Japan has gotten into a business you might call firetruck arbitrage. You know, buying firetrucks in one place and making a profit by selling them in another place where they’re more valuable. The Sacramento-based company has a whole fleet of tiny firetrucks imported from Japan that it’s trying to sell on Craigslist.” • Maybe I should file this under Failed State instead…

“He turned his concrete patio in East L.A. into an edible garden with fruit trees” [Los Angeles Times]. “Ken Sparks is a sentimental gardener. The Ohio native’s East L.A. garden is filled with more than 50 types of fruit trees and plants, some of which pay homage to his family and reflect the diversity of his hometown of Twinsburg. ‘I have little pieces of home in my garden,’ said Sparks, 37, as he identified water lilies and an heirloom beefsteak begonia from his grandmother’s garden. ‘One of the things that keep me grounded is my garden. It reminds me of my family, and of Ohio.’ His terraced backyard is primarily concrete, but he has managed to transform the hardscape into something alive and soft with chickens, a butterfly garden and a surplus of organic vegetables that he has planted in raised beds installed on top of concrete.” • This sounds lovely. (Let us also remember that those who don’t own property may find gardening harder than those who do. I was lucky!)

“Flat-Earthers Have a Wild New Theory About Forests” [The Atlantic]. “A bizarre new theory has turned the flat earth upside down. The flat earth is still flat, but now it’s dotted with tiny imitations of the truly enormous trees that once covered the continents, and which in our deforested age we can hardly even remember….. ‘They make us think that this is a forest,’ he tells us, ‘when you are actually looking at thirty-meter bushes. After watching this video, you will reverse your concept of forests by 360 degrees.’ This isn’t a forest at all: only a diminished imitation. Thousands of years ago, a cataclysmic event destroyed 99% of the Earth’s biosphere, and when it happened, it took away the real forests. Real trees are nothing like their stunted cousins, the miserable perishing scraps of wood that we see today; they were truly vast, hundreds of kilometers tall, magical organisms that sustained a total living ecology of the flat earth. These things were the anchor of a beautiful world that has now vanished forever. And how does he know? Because everywhere around us, we can see their stumps.”

“An Open Letter to Parents For Future” [Ecological Survival]. “Our efforts as concerned parents are crucial because we are in a unique position to help. We share our children’s fear and anger about the crisis, and therefore understand the urgent need for a rational response. But, unlike them, we have had sufficient time to gain the knowledge and experience required to determine what this response should be. Thus, although the young must organizationally lead the drive to sustainability, we must be its primary strategists.” • Hmm. I wonder what your children think about that.

Health Care

“The Most American COVID-19 Failure Yet” [The Atlantic]. “Contact tracing, the last two-thirds of health wonks’ “test-trace-isolate” mantra, was supposed to get us out of the pandemic…. In the United States, this whole process is failing, allowing Aunt Sally to continue roaming about town, infecting others and spreading COVID-19. There is no national contact-tracing program in the U.S., and contact tracers who work for the 40 local health departments in areas with the most coronavirus cases have reached just a fraction of the patients who have tested positive, a Reuters investigation found earlier this month. In Maryland, 25 percent of those called by contact tracers don’t pick up. At one point in Miami, contact tracers were able to reach only 17 percent of the infected. In Houston, New Jersey, and California’s Inland Empire, half of the people reached by contact tracers won’t cooperate. In Philadelphia, a third of COVID-19 patients claimed they had no contacts. Philadelphia is one of the country’s most densely populated cities; it’s hard to believe that a third of the people who got sick there had no contact with their fellow Philadelphians.” • Well worth a read. I’ll comment only that any program designer who thought people would pick up a phone call from an unknown number didn’t understand the country. Who would be demented enough to do that? Calls like that are from marketers or, worse, debt collectors (not to mention immigration or various forms of compliance). Anybody who I want to reach me already knows how to reach me, and I know what their number is.

“HHS bids $250 million contract meant to ‘defeat despair and inspire hope’ on coronavirus” [Politico]. • I wonder if they’ll use Marcie’s firm.

Influenza advice from 1918:

Plus ça change…

Groves of Academe

Class Warfare

News of the Wired

“Burning Man 2020 is Happening!” [Burning Man]. “The Multiverse is an endlessly expanding virtual Burning Man. Intrepid adventurers are invited to co-create eight Universes, a virtual Temple, and (coming soon!) a globally distributed Man Burn. It takes a community. A Multiverse doesn’t just emerge from the ether. We’d like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to all the people who coded, designed, crafted, planned, and stayed up long nights, inspired by the unlimited possibilities of Burning Man culture.” • This website is super ugly.

Owww! My eyes!!

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (CH):

CH writes: “Sharing with you a few mushrooms on moss found during a hike.” They seem to be… glowing.

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Samuel Conner

    Lambert —

    Without meaning to make extra work for you, the positivity rates are a pretty useful tool for assessing whether the respective jurisdictions are investing enough into testing.

    Could you display those in a separate chart so that they are uncluttered and readable?

    Again, sorry for suggesting extra work.

  2. Samuel Conner

    > They[SUVs]’re obese and vicious-looking. Good job, America, or rather, “Good job, American automobile executives, who should rot in hell next to the cigarette executives.” I hate those things.

    I know an older couple, who were not in a great place to afford the additional cost, who insisted on driving an SUV because they felt very vulnerable in a more affordable compact driving among SUVs.

    It is a bit hard to see around taller vehicles in traffic if you are in a compact or smaller.

    It was sort of a Gresham’s Law applied to motor vehicles.

    1. Keith

      Another factor in favor of SUVs for older folks is the ease of getting in and out. Since they sit higher, it is easier for people with mobility issues and their helpers to get them in and out of the vehicle.

      1. km

        I would think that it would be harder to get into a vehicle that you have to climb into.

        My father in law finds it hard to get into my Nissan Xterra, because it sits high off the ground. My wife’s minivan is much easier for him.

        1. Keith

          My personal experience was the opposite, I used to have a wonderful Xterra- WA stupid emissions rules made me get rid of it when I moved here. I used to do fiduciary work and used to approve expenditures for these vehicles over anything else. Generally, though, it would be a Crossover, like a Rogue or something similar. Xterra wouldn’t offer the smooth ride, as it was based on a truck platform and is considered a more proper SUV.

          That being said, individuals do have their own needs, just from view, it seemed older folks benefited from a higher platform.

          Oh, and thinking about it, many crossovers are based on a minivan platform, so perhaps the minivan in question is a little higher in that regards?

        2. David B Harrison

          I was a caregiver for my disabled parents(in wheelchairs).Our car was damaged by a deer and I had to rent a SUV(they were out of regular vehicles).I had to build a platform for my father to get in and out of the vehicle.Our compact car(1997 Geo Prizm) was easier to get in and out of than any truck,SUV,or even larger car.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Another factor in favor of SUVs for older folks is the ease of getting in and out

        Speaking as an old codger with a stiff back who finds it slightly challenging to get in and out of taxis, I would happily continue this minor irritation if the blight of SUVs could be purged from the public roads, given that SUVs are helping to cook the planet.

        If there is a small market for SUVs to accommodate persons with disabilities, so be it, but the current situation is ridiculous and untenable.

    2. Toshiro_Mifune

      I’ve heard the same as well. Honestly, big SUVs scare me to drive; they’re wallowing, high center of gravity, horrible brakes and handling and no acceleration.
      I may be an outlier though as I consider a Lotus Exige a bit on the portly side.

    3. a different chris

      >It is a bit hard to see around taller vehicles in traffic

      Um, yes. And what advantage of seeing around another vehicle do you get that you don’t get with simply a proper following distance?

      Remember the vehicle you are so busily looking past is 99% guaranteed to be the one you hit if there *is* going to be an accident.

      note: “you” is a generic you, not you personally!!

    4. Tom Doak

      The dominance of SUV’s is not just on automobile executives: it was their counter-move to the government’s higher fuel standards for cars, but letting trucks [including SUV’s] be exempt from the new standard. The way the law was written [probably by lobbyists] gave us the dominance of SUV’s today.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The dominance of SUV’s is not just on automobile executives: it was their counter-move to the government’s higher fuel standards for cars, but letting trucks [including SUV’s] be exempt from the new standard

        A loophole “big enough to drive a truck through,” literally. Does anyone know how it got written in the law?

    5. JohnnySacks

      I’m confused at the sweeping generalization of the term SUV. In the beginning, it referred to a body on frame truck chassis with a box on top, the early S-10 Blazers, Explorers, etc., gas hogs to this day by all rights.

      Does the term include the new econobox car chassis with a boxy look, I think generally referred to as crossovers? Toyota Rav 4, Honda CRV type vehicles? Because they’re just sedans with a higher roof, same basic engine/transmission as their Accord/Camry counterparts.

      1. Keith

        I think the answer is depends. Sometimes crossovers get lumped in with SUVs, despite being nothing more than a cooler looking minivan. Then, which surprised me, sometimes compact pick up trucks also get lumped into the cross over category.

      2. HotFlash

        Here in Canada Toyota Rav 4 is classed as a truck WRT mileage and emission requirements. Also treated as a different division for marketing, profits, etc., don’t know about engineering and design. I worked for a company that handled ads for Toyota trucks, incl RAV 4. A different ad agency had the Toyota’s ‘car’ account, and never the twain met.

    6. marcyincny

      The most terrifying rides I’ve experienced were in SUVs. I think they’ve made drivers less skilled and more prone to taking risks.

      At 72 we still drive small vehicles with manual transmissions. I’d like to think they force us to maintain a good measure of our driving skills along with motivating us to keep in shape so we can hoist ourselves in and out of a Mini Cooper.

      1. Keith

        I wouldn’t blame the SUV. It is all the safety devices. With ABS brakes standard, how many people really know how to pump their brakes when hydroplaning? With automatic transmissions, you now have a friend hand to do something else. Hands free phone access, now you can talk about whatever. The safer they try to make vehicles, the less skill is needed to drive, making drivers worse.

        1. crittermom

          >”The safer they try to make vehicles, the less skill is needed to drive, making drivers worse.”

          I’ve been saying that same thing since the industry began adding such features as letting you know you’re over the center line, or ‘automatic braking’, etc, etc, etc.

          I think it gives drivers a false sense of the vehicle driving itself, so the driver is more likely to focus on things other than driving. Not good. I agree it depletes driving skills.

          I also don’t think anyone should be talking on the phone while driving, either–and that includes ‘hands free’! (Yes, I know I’ll get some backlash on that view, but I’m stickin’ to it).

          While your hands may be free to be on the steering wheel, your mind remains on the phone conversation, rather than on driving.

          My dad taught me “assume every other driver is either stupid, drunk, or tired, so always leave yourself an ‘out’ for if/when they screw up”. These days I add ‘on the phone’ or ‘mind elsewhere’ to that list.

          His advice has served me well.

          1. Phacops

            Exactly! I’ve always pointed out that Americans know how to steer but not to drive. And how many actually pay attention to how weight shifts during cornering can impact handling.

            I found it alarming when SUV drivers would attempt to stay on my tail when I would exit the highway at speed on a circular ramp in my tiny MR2.

          2. RMO

            Yet oddly enough the vehicle fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in the US has been dropping for decades which would seem to indicate that these features are certainly not making driving more dangerous. Considering the increase in distracted riving thanks to mobile devices this becomes even more impressive. And by the way, if you hydroplane in a car with ABS you don’t need to pump the brakes – the whole point of a four wheel ABS system is to do that for you and do it better than a human being could.

            Anecdotally from my experience the most aggressive drivers I have to share the road with seem to be in full size pickups. Those with an aftermarket lift kit, add-on offroad lightbars etc. in turn tend to be the most aggressive of that subgroup.

            1. upstater

              I believe airbags and collision avoidance technology has more to do with reduced fatalities, in addition to longer commutes on interstate highways. People drive more and further in much safer vehicles.

              At the same time deaths of pedestrians and cyclists have increased due to larger vehicles and distracted or drunk drivers.

          3. SteveW

            I always keep a safe distance. What concerns me is intersection accident. I have seen in several occasions drivers running the red lights and stop signs while talking on their cell phone. Not sure how to avoid this. Any ideas?

        2. Phacops

          While we have an SUV for its people and cargo capacity for activities like carrying two recumbent trikes inside to trailheads or supporting canoe/kayak trips, I am aware of features that make driving it unusually susceptible to driver error.

          No 1 failure is traction control on full time AWD. If combined with tires that are too wide and tend to float in deep snow, the handling is erratic and unpredictable on deep, unplowed roads (like we frequently get in the country). Also, on washboard roads at the resonance of the suspension, traction control is a nightmare.

          Nothing can compensate for an inattentive or unskilled driver who does not know the limitations of the vehicle.

      2. Ancient1

        I am 83 and drive a Mini Cooper and I love it. It is smarter than I am so it keeps me on my toes and alert when driving and it is easy to get in and out of. Air bags all over.

    7. Wukchumni

      It’s my understanding that most SUV’s aren’t unibody construction-more of a strap-on toolbox on the chassis, which makes them a lot cheaper to build, and more profitable.

      Can any auto mavens confirm this?

      1. Toshiro_Mifune

        Body on frame is usually reserved for real trucks/SUVs that are expected to tow and carry large payloads. Most of what you see on the road (depending on where you live I suppose) are unibodies.

      2. altandmain

        >Can any auto mavens confirm this?

        I work in the automotive industry.

        Most Crossovers are built on automobile platforms and are unibody.

        However, body on frame trucks, especially higher trim ones, tend to be where the profits are the highest, along with luxury vehicles. The high trims of body on frame trucks tends to be a license to print money.

        Crossovers, for anyone reading this, don’t actually use that much more fuel than sedans. Typically 15% more. Body on frame trucks tend to be a lot less efficient.

        It’s mostly Crossovers that have displaced sedans.

    8. Fireship

      My sisters are buying these horrible monsters. Because, you know, kids. For some reason,modern kids don’t fit in regular cars. God give me strength.

  3. Wukchumni

    “DIY Firefighting In California” [NPR]

    Got a swimming pool?

    For $750 you can be your own firefighter with the equivalent of 60x the capacity of a single fire truck.

    This 200 gallon per minute gas powered water pump and 100 foot long hose will shoot water about 100-150 feet away, giving you a range of 200-250 feet from your pool, covering an awful lot of ground.

    Buying an old fire truck for five figures seems downright silly in comparison…


    1. Laura in So Cal

      We have a set up like this. It was more like $1300 once we got the Honda water pump, intake hose, spraying hose, high powered nozzle, breathing mask with filters and a cabinet to store it all in. Mostly this is just to contain the spot fires that happen up to several miles ahead of the main fire zone. Those embers or spotting fires are why you might see a single burned down house in a neighborhood of houses with no damage. Based on the pumping rate and the size of our pool, we would have water to spray for about 2 hours or so without tapping into the water supply in the neighborhood that the fire dept. will use AND it will work even if the power gets turned off. I did have to add maintenance/testing to our every 6 month home maintenance list.

  4. zagonostra

    >The Left Case Against Supporting Joe Biden in the General Election: [Benjamin Studebaker

    I couldn’t agree more. No M4A in Platform, No Vote. It’s time to boycott both Parties until they start providing policies the people desperately want and need. Till then, it’s 3’d party or abstention on voting period (at least for top of ticket).

    Trump, for all his faults, poses no existential threat to the republic. What’s more, Sanders and Robinson are deeply underestimating the damage a Biden presidency will cause. The Republican Party has become what it is because of Democrats like Joe Biden. These Democrats are pushing the Republican Party further and further right, and a Biden presidency will make the Republican Party even more dangerous going forward.

    1. voteforno6

      Trump poses no existential threat to the republic? With all the harm that Trump has already done, I wonder what the author would consider to be a threat.

      You can’t always choose your battles – sometimes you have to fight the battles that are presented to you.

      1. km

        How is Trump an existential threat to the Republic? What can he do, and how? If so, why hasn’t he done so already?

        Keep in mind that Team D will keep the House and will either take the Senate or at least be able to gridlock it.

        1. jsn

          From which commanding position they will continue to pay for whatever he asks for and approve his judicial picks, pushing the Repugs steadily into uncharted territories of the extreme right.

          So no greater threat than the Ds will countenance and fund as they are now.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            But but but Empress Dowager Nancy can tear up the piece of paper she just signed and then give that little sarcastic hand clap. She is such a hero of the people!

            Kill it with fire.

        2. neo-realist

          I find federal officers picking up harmless demonstrators and stuffing them in unmarked vans and cars to be on the level of KGB Police State/Latin American Dictatorship behavior, which we’ve never encountered before, at least not brazenly. I could see an escalation of such actions against progressive political activists if Trump wins re-election and doesn’t have to concern himself with re-election.

          Some here say a Trump re-election would benefit progressive political action, but I believe his administration would take the gloves off and engage police state activities against the left that would be aggressive and destructive enough that it would take away the space to fight for change.

          1. ambrit

            We will get the same level of oppression from a Democrat administration. Have you not noticed just how many chickenhawks are in positions of influence in both parties today?
            The Party affiliation of a candidate is not determinative of his or her future actions, but their donor base.
            Both legacy parties are now Corporatist. There is an old, originally Italian, if I remember correctly, political term for the melding of the Political apparatus and the Corporate power structure; Fascism.
            We are already there.

            1. neo-realist

              No previous administration republican or democrat, no matter how much they hated the left, used police power to pick up unsuspecting people off the street and detain them. That’s a whole new level of fascism that only a vicious hateful authoritarian like Trump is capable of.

            2. jsn

              Yes, but it will be different people they pick up in unmarked vans.

              The Rethuglicans are picking up protesters on the street.

              With the Democrats I’ll be prepared for the knock on my door: competent, professional KGB.

  5. nippersmom

    Our campus has been providing weekly updates on the number of reported positive Covid tests. The first week (when students had only been on campus a couple of days and were likely exposed before their arrival, there were 55 cases. The second week, there were 11. My anecdotal observation and that of my colleagues is that students have been very consistent in wearing masks– even outdoors, if in groups or high-traffic areas where they are likely to pass close to other pedestrians; more consistent than the general public.

    1. Katiebird

      Our local University campus (Lawrence, KS) made that NYTimes list Tweeted above. This was Mostly due to Sorority and Fraternity parties a couple of weeks ago (and 9 houses are quarantined now.) Still Lawrence residents (including my sister) are nervous about it.

      1. shinola

        This a.m. Kansas City news was showing K.U. & K State (Manhattan, Ks) as hot spots in Ks. & Columbia, Mo. (M.U.) & Springfield (now Mo. State U) at hot spots in Missouri.

        I wonder if anyone really expected this NOT to happen.

        1. John

          I suppose we might have been as heedless when I was in college in the 1950s, but there was the “Asian flu” epidemic in 1957 or 1958 and the fraternity houses became “hospitals” with the ambulatory looking after the bedridden. I do not remember any parties at the time. Of course, this came upon us during the winter; we had not been living in comparative isolation for six months; our lives were disrupted for a relatively brief time; classes may have been suspended briefly, but I recall it as a moment when without giving it much thought, everyone pitched in so all could weather the crisis.

      2. Lunker Walleye

        Next door neighbor’s daughter returned from U of IA a few weekends ago with a sore throat. Nearly a score of her sorority sisters had tested positive. She tested positive too. Family across street has it as well. Wondering if it is time to paint something on the doorframes so this will pass over our home? (partly jesting)

    2. Arizona Slim

      Much to my surprise, the University of Arizona party scene seems to be quite muted.

      I live close to the university, and the fall semester started on August 24. There are several nearby apartment complexes that, in past years, have been real party magnets. As in, major ragers.

      This year? I’ve seen a couple of small gatherings with the music pumping, but that’s it.

  6. JacobiteInTraining

    1918 Influenza advice: I wonder if that is from Douglas Island, Alaska. i.e., the one right across the bridge from Juneau AK.

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        Nice. I always liked Douglas. Particularly the library branch there….and the 4th of July Firefighters race! :)

        I imagine in 1918 the population was declining fast since the mine went to ‘glory’.

  7. Synoia

    Once upon a time, a Toyota Tacoma was a small pick-up.

    Now it’s grown up, and is almost the same size as a Toyota Tundra.

    1. Keith

      That and the Frontier, which I drive. Aside from not being the compact pick up of yore, their beds have also gotten smaller. When I was buying my little truck, I even asked about an extended bed, to which the dealer said they are very hard to get a hold of.

      Interesting note, my girlfriend has a Sierra pick up, which is supposed to be a much bigger truck. In that case, based on the size of the truck, her bed is even shorter (still beats mine out, but just a little). Even when I was looking at the bigger Titan by Nissan, the beds are woefully short with too much room dedicated to the human cargo area. I lot of this, IMHO, has to do with CAFE standards. I think if they eased off the standards and gave people the power and space they wanted, they may naturally go back to sedans.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        I’ve driven a Ford Ranger for the last 21 years…18 with the 1997 (381,000 miles) and 3 years with the 2006. Real 6ft bed, manual transmission, and the extended cab with the suicide mini doors for behind the seat.

        Love my truck.

        But of course, Ford’s new Ranger is HUGE compared to the older one and I don’t want nor need four full seats and a short bed.
        People would buy a good compact truck but nobody makes one now.

        1. ShamanicFallout

          I have a 2001 with basically the same features and it has been a great truck. Even has low miles. I was thinking about getting one pretty new, but I saw a new Ranger on the road the other day and as you say, it’s huge. What is going on? I live in Seattle and even the Ranger I have limits my street parking in my neighborhood. It’s still over 17 ft long. I would like to get a new car or truck but good gawd, I can’t picture myself in anything newer, truck, sedan or the new compact SUV (Excuse me- I mean LuLu Lemon Station Wagons).
          Perhaps I should look to a 73 Chevelle or a Cutlass

          1. Fiery Hunt

            Have you seen the prices for old Broncos? The small boxy ones from say 1964-1969?
            $30,000 to 40,000 cleaned up…

            Don’t make ’em like they used to.

          2. Pelham

            Oh, just go for an Olds 442.

            Meanwhile, I’ll speak up for trucks. For years and years I drove small cars, including a BMW 3 series when I was in Europe. Then we moved to the country where snow piles high in the winter and we need to haul our own recycling. So we leased a Chevy Silverado, first a 2016 then a 2019. It’s the best-driving vehicle I’ve yet owned and far and away the most comfortable. It wouldn’t do well against the BMW in the twisties, but along gently winding highways it’s superior. In fact, it’s magisterial. It also gets decent gas mileage with the small-block V8.

            As for emissions, yes, trucks and SUVs are a problem. But five decades after the first Earth Day and a lot of conscientious but mostly pointless efforts on my own little part, I’m more than a bit jaded about the whole damned discussion. We’ve zoomed past the 350 ppm CO2 mark that was supposed to be the end of the world, and perhaps it will be. But the big emitters are nowhere near to being in hand, and all the giant wind farms one sees around the country appear to be yielding little or no benefit. When our oligarchy wakes up to facts and, possibly, switches us to nuclear energy on a massive scale, then maybe I’ll sadly ditch my truck habit. In the meantime, I’m tuning out the personal scolding.

            If I were writing to Dear Abby, I’d sign myself “Fed Up.”

            1. HotFlash

              Ah, if you are wondering why the 50-year-old promise of renewables hasn’t delivered, then Jeff Gibbs’ and Michael Moore’s “Planet of the Humans” has some answers. Note: the renewable energy and climate change NGO’s Do. Not. Like. This. Film.

              I can’t share your hope in nucles*, though. Anything that creates a waste product that requires tending for longer than all the dynasties of Egypt existed to keep it/us/everything safe seems like an undoable option to me. Perhaps you could just not buy things that result in stuff to recycle?

              *nuclear — (adj.) of or pertaining to nucles.

        2. albrt

          I am driving the 1987 Toyota (model: “pickup”) as my primary AZ vehicle now that the 2003 Civic hybrid has shown 1 too many skull and bones computer codes.

          It is a great truck and it makes me really happy that nothing in it is capable of connecting to the internet in any way. Too bad about the emissions, but it’s obvious we’re all going extinct anyway.

    2. JohnnySacks

      Pity the person who simply needs the equivalent of the old Datsun 620 pickups to perform his/her boring old daily business functions nowadays. Now $25,000 and up for nothing you need and less because features are driven by suburbanite needs for form over function. As an Isuzu/Colorado bare bones previous generation owner, I see the new expanding size models barely indistinguishable from their shrinking full size suburbanite light duty cousins.

      Plenty of posts over on WolfStreet about how they game auto costs from adding to cost of living adjustments do to hedonistic improvements: that old truck didn’t have ABS, air bags, backup cameras, A/C so the new model with all that as standard costing twice or more can’t possibly be used as a comparison.

      1. carl

        I had a 97 Nissan pickup for awhile, and let me tell you, I had people constantly asking to buy it. The smaller trucks that were around during the 80s and 90s are enormously popular, in my area, at least. That they were built like tanks could be another reason.

        1. furies

          I lock my ’93 Toyota pick up at night, even in this ‘safe’ rural hamlet. A good 25% of car thefts that *do* happen in tweeker rich areas around here are old ‘yotas.

          Like Isis.


  8. ambrit

    “..after this pandemic ends…”
    That is a questionable assumption at best. It is a classic display of virtue signalling, as in; “We’re going to lick this virus! There’s nothing we cannot do!” Etc. etc.
    The Establishment is blowing the smoke so hard I can taste it on the back of my tongue.

        1. ambrit

          Too true! No one knows how this pathogen is going to work out. Anyone who does is straight out lying. But wait, “straight out lying” is what America does best!
          So, “people are going to die needlessly.” The Establishment response is; BFD!
          The sad part is that I’ve read a lot of history, and my outlook is not sanguine.

  9. Drake

    “Willing to overlook his lies, improprieties, and corruption, Trump’s voters have a transactional relationship with the president that is practical, powerful, and surprisingly instructional to the rest of us…”

    This doesn’t really describe me at all, or anyone I know who supports Trump. For my part, I will simply never forgive Democrats anything they’ve done over the last four years, and will never consider voting for any Dem until the party as it is now has been exterminated, not just Pelosi and Schumer and Feinstein and the rest, but the whole rotten base of donors, Clinton-apparatchiks, Obama-sycophants, neo-liberals and the indistinguishable neo-conservatives who joined them, self-righteous social justice warriors, etc. I hated Trump and the Republicans for decades until I saw two Obama terms that for all intents and purposes were a direct continuation of the Bush years, with a massive Wall St bailout and a corporate lobbyist written health care plan thrown in besides. And then they expected me to vote for Hillary. Vomit. And now Biden and whatever random vagina of color they’re trying to make President after she fell on her face during the primaries?

    I will never forgive the Democrats for 3 years of Russiagate lies alone, but also for their ridiculous attacks on Kavanaugh (who could have been attacked on far more productive topics than bogus me-too pandering), for shampeachment, for egging on the riots, for pretty much anything they’ve done for the last four years. It’s a rotten, worthless, disgusting party that I’m done with, and it manages to make Trump look pretty good to me.

    1. Carolinian

      I think you are probably right. Pearl clutching Dems think Trump is running some kind of personality cult whereas in reality he is mostly an upraised middle finger pointed at them. Even if Trump loses how do we get rid of Pelosi?

      1. BobW

        Totally agree. Last prez election I said he was a brick through a plate-glass window, an act of vandalism against the US establishment. He still is.

        1. edmondo

          So having every Never Trump Republican swamp creature endorse Joe Biden at the DNC might have backfired? Who coulda known?

          1. Dirk77

            While I’m still mulling over Lambert’s idea to get the Greens above 5%, the neocons signing on with Biden removed him as an option for me. I think if we avoid another foreign war the republic will eventually be righted.

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            They should have gone all the way and had Geo Bush and Dick Cheney headline the DNC “Convention”, they are importing Bush era policies lock stock and barrel especially on shiny new wars, why not get the real pros up there? Michele and Geo are already exchanging love notes, maybe Cheney can go on Ellen and Oprah along with John Bolton and we can hear all about how they are really cool woke guys under those gruff exteriors, doncha know.

            Really appreciating Drake’s comment above, saved me alot of typing because I feel exactly the same way

            Again, my theory of change. If you go to the doctor with a rotten, gangrenous arm you don’t ask him for some cream and a nicer bandage, you take the hit and then look forward to better days. It’s obvious that the Dem Party as we remember it from a decade or two ago has already died and a malevolent walking monstrosity is occupying the space where something real and representative could grow in its place. My prescription: as hard as it feels sometimes, drive an Orange stake in its heart and then burn the corpse to ashes. With fire. That is how you kill a zombie.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > They should have gone all the way and had Geo Bush and Dick Cheney headline the DNC “Convention”

              Surprised they didn’t dig up McCain and prop him up at the podium, grinning skull and grave clothes and all.

        2. neo-realist

          Trump giving tax breaks to the ultra wealthy, and massively increasing military spending is an act of vandalism against the US establishment? Disrespecting black victims of Police Brutality is vandalism against the US establishment (and not racism)? Cheering on white vigilantes who shoot or run over demonstrators is vandalism against the US establishment? A middle finger to the dems?

          It’s more of a cruder steroid fueled version of what the establishment approves of without the remorse.

      2. Samuel Conner

        IIRC, back in 2018, a condition of the D caucus not having an ugly fight over the speakership was that NP’s “last hurrah” speakership, when the Ds reclaimed the House, would have a time limit on how long she would continue.

        Is that expiring soon, or has that promise gone the way of all other political promises?

        1. albrt

          That’s why no one can have a transactional relationship with a mainstream democrat politician – they are guaranteed never to do what they say they will do and every word they say is a lie.

          There is literally a better chance of getting the democrat platform enacted by accident under a republican than having the democrats do what they say they will do if elected.

      3. polecat

        ‘You still don’t know who you’re dealing with, do you ? … ‘Perfectly degenerating DNC-organ ism .. her hyper structural disintegration is only matched by her failed hostility … no feelings of minority status.. and towards compliance to the constitutionally written laws of the Sovereign state …’

        1. polecat

          Thank (insert deity of your choice here ‘ ________’) that he isn’t an ‘artificial person’ like the incumbent he’s trying to replace …

          1. ambrit

            Watch it there! Saint Ronnie was an “Artificial Person.” Both in internal psychology and physical build after Hinckley killed him in ’81.

    2. hunkerdown

      Good that you’ve freed yourself from the ongoing debts imposed by the Democrat Party, but that’s no good reason to cast a positive vote for a party whose economic policy is explicitly neoliberal, regardless of Trump. The oligarchs don’t care which of their representatives you vote for.

      1. Drake

        I understand this very well. It’s not like we have an embarrassment of riches to choose from. Sometimes there is no good choice. The South Park episode “Douche and Turd” looks more prophetic and ingenious to me every year.

        I’m reduced to voting for the party that insults me less, given that they both exist to insult me. The Democrats have been winning hands-down since at least 2008. In 2020 it’s not even a contest. It seems more and more to me like the Democrats decided to make the Turd Sandwich and the Giant Douche into a single ticket because, well, how could we lose if we locked up both of them? But like everyone else I’m just voting my hatreds at this point. It doesn’t make any difference in the best of cases, and here in Massachusetts it makes none at all.

        1. hunkerdown

          If you vote Green, and their votes are tabulated honestly, and they get 5% of the electoral vote, they get access to Federal matching funds. If you’re in a populous “safe” state, that’s the way to go.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Either way we get at least 4 years of straight up in your face neo-lib neo-con actions. One team points to it with pride, the other team goes with continual lies about how they are not doing it coupled with shaming and pandering and fraudulently occupying the “non neolib” mind and market space. If your hope is that a non neolib option should ever exist again, and a vote for the team doing it outright and upfront in this next period has the chance to expose and discredit the team taking up “reform” space fraudulently…then your vote is not wasted. And yup: it feels icky. But keep your eyes on the prize.

      3. polecat

        Have you ever considered that OMBad might just be a ‘cushion’ .. strange as that may seem, to soften the blow .. as we continue our collective pitch into the ditch??
        There will be no savior to stop society from heading down the impending slog toward our ‘Murican Denouement’.

        Tighten your belts, and buckle up! Thrusters on Stall.

    3. Fiery Hunt

      That makes 2 (and probably a whole boat-load more) of us.

      Hell, Trump winning would be worth it if only to deepen the shame for those characters you so deftly described.

    4. voteforno6

      You have some rather, umm, interesting priorities if all that Trump has done looks pretty good compared to the misdeeds of the Democratic Party. If Trump wins again, I don’t think that will do much to harm the Democratic Party establishment. In fact, it will just prolong the situation.

      About the only think that has even come close to unifying the Democratic Party is Donald Trump. With him in office for four more years, unleashing more horrors upon the country, the Democrats would have to hunker down just to fight him and his emboldened supporters. If they do win, I fully expect a wave even more violence unleashed upon the country. These are some seriously nasty people, and they don’t have much consideration to democratic principles.

      Get rid of Trump, and the party establishment no longer can hide behind him as the cause of their problems. They are clearly more comfortable operating as the party of the opposition, demanding unity to fight the Republican menace. Now, Trump really is that menace, a position that I’m confident is held by a large portions of all factions of the Democratic Party. Without him to point at, that unity will dissolve, and maybe a long-overdue reckoning will finally come to the party. Hopefully, it will come for the Republican Party as well (which I expect, because I don’t think that either party establishment can survive without the other).

      Also, you can’t claim to be upset about the policy failures of the Democratic Party, and then make some distasteful comment about Kamala Harris that’s borderline offensive. If you have a problem with her, say it. Unless her being a “random vagina of color” is your problem with her. If that’s the case, then you really need to consider redirecting your rage in a more constructive direction.

      1. a different chris

        Is this starting to remind anybody but me of the Civil War? I hope it is a little less bloody…

        They North started with serious advantages (lots of moola, bodies, and industry) , didn’t understand that the battles would be fought on enemy territory (now the rural areas, then the rural Southern areas), and sent all the peacocking generals with “credentials” out to mis-run the whole thing.

        They finally found Grant, Sherman and Sheridan who didn’t care about anything but wiping the other side from the face of the earth. And proceeded to take the North’s very real advantages and do so.

        Besides AOC, who do we got who shows that kind of distaste for the other side?

        1. albrt

          I like AOC but I’m not sure she’s mean enough for the job.

          The only real chance against climate change is probably if Antifa recognizes that street violence is inherently fascist, and they embrace it and take over the Greens to form a party that will make people do what needs to be done, by whatever means necessary.

          Short of that, I think we’re headed for extinction. Just glad I don’t have kids.

      2. km

        Let’s be frank – the only reason that Harris was considered for the VP slot is that she is a woman of color.

        I would add that you are correct – the two legacy parties need each other and if one goes, the other will either morph or follow the first into the void.

        Take away Team R and Team D has nothing to unify it, and the spoils will not be enough to keep all the Team D factions satisfied for long, and the party will quickly splinter as a result.

        The same could be said for Team R.

        1. TBellT

          she is a woman of color.

          That’s not all. She’s also got no true ideological compass and therefore it’s easy to make her fit in to the campaign, which also has no true ideological compass.

          She was also a particularly adept big donor fundraiser.

          1. km

            No argument there. Still, Kamala’s idpol bona fides were a necessary, but not sufficient, qualification for the slot.

          2. Grant

            That describes everyone Biden was considering. It was a combination of the two. She is empty, stands for nothing, a self serving careerist just like him, in the pocket of donors and is willing to use her identity to get enough power that she too can ruin regular people for enough money. I mean, privatizing the postal service is fine, but can’t we have a woman of color do it? Have we as a society not progressed at all? Only let rich white men ruin the world for money, how sexist.

        2. Drake

          “Let’s be frank – the only reason that Harris was considered for the VP slot is that she is a woman of color.”

          Precisely. I meant the statement to be offensive because her choice was offensive. The Democrats’ calculation here is that they can prop up Biden long enough to win the Presidency based on nothing but ginned-up Trump loathing and Obama-era sentimentality, then when the senile child-sniffer does his best William Henry Harrison impression a woman so unpopular she couldn’t even win her home state in the primaries becomes President. Biden is a trojan horse for the sadistic cop. It’s so cynical it just reeks Democrat.

          It blows my mind that the people who labelled Trump a racist and a sexist for the last 4 years chose a VP based solely on her gender and her skin color, not to mention her complete lack of appeal, character, and values. They want her to become President without ever winning an election because, well, that’s the only way she ever will.

        3. Billy

          A WOC and she has proven her loyalty to Wall Street through her actions, not just talk. Her not bothering to prosecute Trump’s treasury secretary, Mnuchin’s One West Bank, betrayed 80,000+ Californians when she was performing as California’s Attorney General.
          “March 19th, 2009 a shell company set up by Steve Mnuchin named IMB HoldCo LLC set up a new Federal Savings Bank called OneWest Bank, and purchased over 6 billion in IndyMac customer deposit accounts and 20.7 billion in other assets at a discount of 4.7 billion. Among the 26.7 billion assets, 12.8 billion of the assets were in single-family mortgage loans. This was at the height of the housing crisis in the late 2000s…”


          Afterwards, Mnuchin invested, a.k.a. “donated to” her senate campaign. Can’t wait to see how Harris represents the fifty million or so Americans without a job who are in danger of eviction and homelessness in the coming presidential term.

          Her choice of a Brooklyn born husband is a big tip off too. His biography on DLA Piper’s website says: “He represents large domestic and international corporations and some of today’s highest profile individuals and influencers in complex business, real estate and intellectual property litigation disputes.”

          She claims to be from Oakland, except for school and high school years in Toronto. Why doesn’t she live with her alleged people? Beverly Hills is more attractive and has the right donors and investors in her.

          1. Billy

            Forgot this from link above:

            “Steve Mnuchin has spent over half a billion dollars donating to Republican Committees and PACs across the United States, yet Kamala Harris seems to be the only democrat he is interested in donating his money to.”

          2. Wukchumni

            IndyMac Bank was the most interesting thing going on in LA in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis, in that I think it was the only bank which had a bonafide run on the money in the country, and kind of a bizarre bank run, in that most of those lining up to withdraw their money had over $100k (that was the maximum FDIC coverage at the time) on deposit, and risked losing the overage amount.


        4. Fern

          “only reason that Harris was considered for the VP slot is that she is a woman of color”

          Nonsense. Harris was polling a weak FOURTH among BLACK voter when she dropped out. She was polling behind Biden, Sanders and Warren among BLACK voters when she dropped out. She was picked solely because she was the candidate who was the favorite of Wall Street, corporations, AIPAC and the military-industrial-intelligence sector. She had been the hand-picked establishment candidate, and when it became clear that she was performing miserably in the primary, they decided to appoint her as a future president. The whole “black woman” thing was the pretext for overriding the voters.

      3. John k

        If Hillary had something in 2016 Bernie would not have had any chance in 2020.
        If Biden wins in 2020 neither aoc or any other progressive will have any chance in 2024.
        I see four more of trump as a price worth paying for any chance in the foreseeable future.
        And sweet silver linings are maybe no new wars – he didn’t start a new one in his first term, unique among the last five pres, while you can’t help notice the bushies and McCain’s have scurried to joe as a last hope for war, any war – plus no Tpp.

        1. HotFlash

          And sweet silver linings are maybe no new wars – he didn’t start a new one in his first term, unique among the last five pres

          Well, no new foreign wars. OTOH, if USians fight amongst themselves, much of the rest of the world will breath sighs of relief.

          Speaking of making the US safe for democracy, looks like that Bloomburg Group think tank (‘Hawkfish’? Really?) is setting us up to reject a Trump win. Let the games begin!

      4. notabanker

        You have some rather, umm, interesting theories, all premised on Trump being the problem with the Democratic Party. Seriously nasty people without much consideration for democratic principles? Clinton’s, Biden, Obama completely sold out the working class, booted millions out of their homes and waged wars that killed millions. Now they are holding income people need to survive COVID hostage until after the election so they can tell everyone it’s time to tighten the belts. That is truly evil.

        To think that the democratic party will re-invent itself with Trump out of the way is completely delusional. If they wanted to actually win an election, they should put forth a candidate who will implement policies supported by the vast majority of Americans. But that would upset the donors that fund them and we can’t have that. This comment reeks of DNC mind control pablum.

    5. TBellT

      Sorry but I don’t understand anyone who could have hated “the continuation of the Bush years […] and a corporatist lobbyist written health care plan” and then supports Trump who nominated Kavanaugh, a judge who has always sided with corporatist lobbyists. Not to mention an executive cabinet filled with appointees like Mnuchin, Azar, Kudlow, and Ross who represent the interests of Wall Street and other big corporations. If you’re mad at Democrats for continuing the Bush years, shouldn’t you be mad at Trump for the same. It doesn’t really make any sense.

      Also Democrats “have egged on riots”? They have kept the protests at arm’s length doing performative crap like donning kente cloth. Just a reminder that Obama supported crushing demonstrations (OWS, Ferguson) just as much as Trump has. (Not that that’s a good thing imo)

        1. TBellT

          Biden would pick up where HRC left off in Syria, escalate in Ukraine, etc.

          As far as I know those death are still on going, so it’s hard to say anyone “left off”. At the end of the day, the Blob controls foreign policy, not the president. Given the drama over the Iran deal, I’m just holding out hope that other nations have come to their sense and will stop enabling our “government” and be the ones to hold our president in check, because I don’t see the American people being the ones to do it. They were fooled into Iraq (parts 1 and 2) they can be fooled into anything.

          Also to the extent Trump shows restraint, I think it’s because he worries about re-election. If that’s taken off the table I think he would be perfectly willing to engage in larger conflicts to back up his “tough guy” rhetoric.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > the Blob controls foreign policy, not the president

            Wellie, from the link at Biden (D)(2):

            Team Biden’s foreign policy advisers are vast in number. Foreign Policy counts more than 2,000 of them, organized into 20 working groups covering specific issues — arms control, defense, intelligence, humanitarian missions, and so on —and geographies: Europe, the Middle East, East Asia. These people come from consultancies, think tanks, the State Department, academia. There is a heavy layer of Obama administration holdovers and, of course, Pentagon bureaucrats, some quite senior.

            So I think “The Blob” has picked a side (The Great Assimilation™ of Iraq War architects into the Democrat Party being a second sign of this).

            One might argue that “We can do this the easy way, or we can do it the hard way.” Do you want to make it easy for The Blob, or hard?

            NOTE My reading of the ludicrous UkraineGate impeachment, now mercifully forgotten, was that the Democrats were signaling to The Blog, via Fiona Hill, et al., that war in Ukraine would be on the table if and when they got their political appointees in.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Simple answer:

        I don’t expect the Republicans to be anything but what they are.

        I DEMAND the Democrats to be better.
        Until they are, no vote for them.

        If the Democrats want to be Republican Lite, I’ll vote for the real thing until they learn to work for the working class of every color.

        As the saying goes..

        .”F**k around and find out.”


        “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”

        1. TBellT

          Except by voting for either of the two parties aren’t you legitimizing the whole 2 party system that gives them both their power.

          Win stupid prizes indeed.

    6. Mason

      Pretty much agree with most of the sentiment. Disgust is a good word. It’s just… absolute amazement to me after Hillary ate it in the last election, the party is doubling down on the same type of candidate, same policies, etc. They see progressives as a vote on two legs and that we are obligated to vote Biden otherwise ‘it’s a vote for trump’.

      Watching folks shame Kyle Kulinski for not voting Biden was a turning point. Then I got on the fence again when the protests started. Then the Dems sealed the deal by parading around neo-cons at the DNC and abandoning climate change promises along with the public option. Four more years of Trump versus twelve years of nation destroying neo-liberalism.

      If the Dems loose, I’m hoping a civil war within the party begins. Hostile populist take-over.

      1. John Wright

        As the golfer’s say, one needs to play through Biden to get to the REAL selection the DNC wants to be president.

        That is Kamala Harris.

        She had a weak primary season and has a bad record of concern for the voters/lower income groups.

        The elite Democrats could have chosen a progressive VP as Joe’s backup..

        But they didn’t, and that is telling.

    7. Katniss Everdeen


      For his sake, I hope nate silver isn’t lurking on this comment thread trying to get some unofficial “insight” into the psyche of the electorate. He’s liable to have a coronary.

      But, nate–if you’re there–what Drake said. Especially the part about the “random vagina of color.”

    8. Aumua

      Can’t say I entirely disagree, but the only problem with exterminating the Democratic party is that once we have a one-party system in place here in the U.S. then that’s not likely to change. Maybe instead of focusing on Democrats and Republicans at all we should be doing what we can to build and empower other alternatives, politically and otherwise.

    9. Bill Phillips

      Are you a bit? Just because based on logic not one thing you said makes sense. E.G., the Dems have not and are not in power the last four years. Pelosi and Schumer and Feinstein? At the state and local level these people mean nothing. Really, Feinstein, has zero power. neo-liberals and the indistinguishable neo-conservatives, but they are. Two very different agendas. This is why I say bot – makes zero sense.

      Drake – “And now Biden and whatever random vagina of color they’re trying to make President after she fell on her face during the primaries?” – you really allow someone to say this?

  10. grayslady

    Re SUV’s: American manufacturers aren’t the only ones to blame. I’ve seen a Porsche SUV and my best friend recently saw a Bentley (!) SUV, driven by an approx. 18-year old Asian girl. Cost of Bentley SUV is $168,000.

    1. Carolinian

      Foreigners–god knows why–like to imitate Americans. Where I live the giant SUVs have been replaced by giant trucks. Environmentally the result is the same.

  11. Wukchumni

    “Flat-Earthers Have a Wild New Theory About Forests” [The Atlantic]. “A bizarre new theory has turned the flat earth upside down. The flat earth is still flat, but now it’s dotted with tiny imitations of the truly enormous trees that once covered the continents, and which in our deforested age we can hardly even remember…..
    I realize only now that the magnificent grove of Giant Sequoias I was walking in yesterday was merely a computer generated image, not brimming with Brobdingnagians as old as 3,000 years.

    I admit to being fooled and feeling a little ashamed of myself for falling for the ruse, my bad.

    1. Duck1

      Pretty skeptical about the flat earth thing (to say the least) but super giant forests do appeal to my imagination.

      1. ambrit

        Whoever thought this idea up obviously doesn’t know anything about materials science.
        It’s the same sort of mistake as the fantastic film producers who put truly gigantic creatures in the mix.
        Gravity is the determinative force to be dealt with. As in, ever wonder why elephants have such massive legs? Gravity has something to do with that.

  12. a different chris

    As a normal human male I want to hate Channing Tatum with every fibre of my body but… he just keeps being awesome.

    Ah well.

    1. integer

      In the woke new world, referring to yourself as “normal” is a grievous microaggression. It could even be considered an implicit form of hate speech.

      1. Aumua

        Perhaps not hate speech, but it is an implicit form of prejudice, baked right into the language we use without thinking about it.

    1. a different chris

      Yeah and fortunately fracking on “private land” has no effect on “public land” because you know, the Earth is constructed of many completely compartmentalized pieces.

  13. Wukchumni

    A 2 to 3 mile line of traffic heading into Sequoia NP has been a feature around noon every Saturday this summer, and this scorching (temps 106 to 108) Labor Day weekend might set a record, i’m thinking 5 miles, which will mean visitors will be stuck going nowhere fast for 4 to 5 hours until they get to the entrance station, whee doggies!

    1. polecat

      I remember .. in my youth, hiking down the Point Reyes Hill trail .. bushwacking part of the way down to the estuary .. along the way, finding a grouping of jelly fungus that had that exact same glowing quality – the color was, as I recall, that same gumdrop orange!

      I think I still have a photo ( you know .. emulsion on one side, paper backing on the other… Yeah, ‘relics’ .. I know…) of that fungus – somewhere in our ‘picture archives’ box in the closet!

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > emulsion on one side, paper backing on the other

        The experience of viewing a print photo, especially a large print, is completely different from viewing on screen, and to me, much more pleasurable.

  14. Mark Gisleson

    Mankato ‘metro’ area covers parts of Blue Earth, Nicollet and La Sueur Counties. Home to Minnesota State University (formerly Mankato State University). Top employers are healthcare and education (this is very deceiving as rural areas require much the same diversity of essential workers as urban areas but in smaller numbers). This area is fairly self sufficient, mostly rural and very dependent on agri-biz.

    In Mankato I think you’re just seeing rural and blue collar support for Trump. Yes it’s a college town, but a college town surrounded by farmland. Billionaire Glen Taylor is from Mankato so I’m sure the local GOP is very well funded. If you look at a map, it’s isolated. Next closest population center is Austin, home to Hormel, neck tattoos and lots and lots of meth. There are literally no population centers to Mankato’s south or west or mostly north. This is what they used to call Farm Bureau country.

    Mankato itself may not be a hotbed of Trumpism, but Mankato is where a lot of rural folks shop and congregate.

  15. notabanker

    “Violence will not bring change, it will only bring destruction. It’s wrong in every way.”

    Yemen, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq agree!

    1. Samuel Conner

      My reflexive reaction to JB at this point is to shake my head as I contemplate how proud Americans of both parties are of the birth pangs of their own nation.

      It was a civil war on American soil.

      I sympathize with those who sense we are headed for another one (not that I welcome that outcome); it would be our third.

      I have no idea whether the opening monologue in George C Scott’s protrayal of Patton is accurate, but I think it must be true that, as he said, “Americans love to fight!”

      1. notabanker

        I don’t know. It seems this government has turned on 90% of it’s citizenry and a “civil war” would be a convenient way to seize more power and eliminate a sizable percentage of the population from which there is nothing more to loot. I don’t see this ending any way but poorly. Either a violent overthrow of a heavily militarized government or a mass annihilation of it’s opponents.

        The media is playing up a racial divide, but this is clearly a class war, and the US government has quite openly declared it. It doesn’t matter if they put Trump or Biden out front to lead the charge, corporate money is in charge in the USA.

    1. fwe'zy

      Thank you for this, Louis. NC, I never do this, but please give my rejected comment from yesterday another look:
      We are definitely entering a stage where those who survive the virus comprise an “upgraded” population in a “reset” society. Work is changig rapidly. “Why should we let you live?” is the refrain. Decentralized expertise, sure. The better to milk us for! (It’s ok, dairy cows suffer when they aren’t milked.) But yes, critical thinking.

      Please check out this terrifying J. Sachs piece (terrifying if you’re not of the neoliberal spring chicken variety). The old and left behind can’t die out fast enough for these people:

    2. a different chris

      I’m not convinced at all.

      The other side was stupid and not angry, now they (I wish I could say we, but Biden is hardly my ideal) are really angry and they never were stupid, they just were too deep in their own cocoon.

      Trump’s base is 33%. He needs a lot more than that just to squeak the EC again. Which he may do, but a lot of his base have nothing to show for his…. usually this kind of sentence ends with “leadership” but the best I can come up with is “behavior”,

        1. HotFlash

          Don’t forget Jill. As far as I can tell, she is the only person on the planet who is enthusiastic to vote for Joe.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          No, Biden has significant support in the Democrat Party, especially from the Obama restorationist wing. He really does.

          That’s the small-d democratic aspect of The Night of the Long Knives, and it is real.

  16. allan

    Spokane DSA @spokanedsa

    It’s not just Portland and NYC. On his way to a #JacobBlake protest,
    our @spokanedsa co-chair was abducted by unmarked henchmen in an unmarked van
    and jailed without bond for a day and a half.
    The jail didn’t even know who his abductors were.

    We’re well into “First they came for …” territory here.

  17. Pookah Harvey

    re: “The Left Case Against Supporting Joe Biden in the General Election:” [Benjamin Studebaker .”We [the left] can oppose the Trump administration in its second term. But if it’s Biden, we’ll be stuck defending him as he slugs the ordinary American in the face.”

    “Stuck defending him”?!! The only reason to vote for Biden is so you can fight him when he’s in office. Every leftist that has said they are voting for Biden are going to fight Biden from day one. Chomsky, Sanders, West, Williamson, et al, have all said that you fight Biden. If Biden is elected progressives should immediately be in the streets fighting for Medicare for All. How will the Trump supporters without healthcare react?

    If Trump is elected and continues his neo-liberal policies, such as the CARES act, who will fight him? The Left and only the Left. If Biden is elected who will fight his neo-liberal policies? Again the Left, but what do you think the Trumpies will do when Biden implements the very same neo-liberal policies Trump has been advocating? Hypocrisy runs deep on the right.

    I’m not saying there will be a coalition but it would make for an interesting situation.

    1. voteforno6

      I’ve come around to this position, more or less. Trump seems to be the one thing holding both parties together, in different ways.

      Who should the left support in this election, if anybody? I think that’s a worthy topic of discussion, in a dedicated post on this site (note to Yves, et. al.). It might generate some interesting discussion.

      1. Fern

        “Every leftist that has said they are voting for Biden are going to fight Biden from day one.”

        It just doesn’t work that way. Once people become invested in a candidate — contributing money to them, hyping them, excusing them and defending them — they are not going to turn around and fight them. They will have convinced themselves. People are not that flexible in their thinking.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        So let me get this straight: you and Pookah are in a negotiation. Your strategy is to give the other side everything it wants, in fact the only thing it wants, right up front, with no questions asked (a Biden vote). Then, later, apparently, you want them to give you something in return, and they have already categorically stated, right up front, time and again, in both word and deed, that they will never ever give you that thing (change of anything).

        I think you should rethink your strategy.

    2. km

      I dunno, Obama got elected and most self-described leftists spent the next eight years making excuse after excuse for the man.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Obama got elected and most self-described leftists spent the next eight years making excuse after excuse for the man.

        If you want an example of a genuine leftist’s views on Obama, look at Adolph Reed. And for a long while, he was a very lonely man. Most “self-described leftists” are liberals who aren’t in power yet.

    3. notabanker

      So the CARES Act is a Trump neoliberal policy? I wasn’t aware he is now in charge of Congress. Did I miss an Executive Order changing the US Constitution?

    4. HotFlash

      Every leftist that has said they are voting for Biden are going to fight Biden from day one. Chomsky, Sanders, West, Williamson, et al, have all said that you fight Biden.

      Like we held Obama’s feet to the fire? That didn’t even singe his comfortable walking shoes. As even Sarah Palin said, “How’s that hope and change workin’ out for ya?”

      Me, I think that withholding my vote would be good, except I am pretty sure that the Dem Establishment would really rather lose. I mean, who wants to be saddled with a pandemic, a recession, and national unrest? Let Trump take the fall for this shstorm for another 4 years and waltz in in 2024 to ‘heal the wounds’. Meanwhile, all the ‘Democratic strategists’ and pundits will continue to collect their comfy salaries from their think tanks and media gigs.

  18. marym

    Re: “He offers his anti-abortion supporters a radical transformation of the judiciary from lifetime federal judgeships to Supreme Court seats. To his anti-immigrant base, he has shown he is willing to go to any lengths to keep out migrants and refugees, going as far as separating children from parents and even deporting them into the hands of their abusers. To racist suburban white people, he is making good on a promise to keep Black and Brown people out of their neighborhoods. To law enforcement, their families, and supporters, he has promised to uphold police autonomy and immunity from prosecution.”

    What happened to bringing manufacturing jobs back, infrastructure, better-than-Obamacare, lower drug prices, and the opioid crisis?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > What happened to bringing manufacturing jobs back, infrastructure, better-than-Obamacare, lower drug prices, and the opioid crisis?

      Gone where the woodbine twineth!

  19. Samuel Conner

    Re: Trump’s silence on his canning TPP

    This, along with the “no new foreign wars” policy, are things I have to concede were good among DJT’s policies.

    It might be that DT is reluctant to draw too much attention to his trade policies because, if my (very gauzy) understanding of the news flow is accurate, of the hardship that some farm states have experienced that are attributable to those policies.

    1. HotFlash

      Well, and, the jobs haven’t come back yet. But creating jobs, let alone recreating an industrial base, would require a *concerted* effort targeted at building industrial capacity, training workers (whoa, you mean technical and trade schools? Bernie blasphemy!!), regulating markets. Everyone to the right of Jimmy Carter (oh wait, isn’t that everyone these days?) would decry that as ‘central planning’. IOW, not ever likely to happen with the pols we have to choose from (b/c of their donors/owners). Our electeds are not capable of thinking of it, let alone of making it happen.

    2. Temporarily Sane

      Trump may not have started any new wars, but he didn’t end any either or bring home American troops as he so boldly promised. He also didn’t end America’s involvement in the war on Yemen but he did sign huge new arms deals the KSA and GCC states and he offered Israel unconditional support in its never ending war against the Palestinians.

      The Soleimani assassination brought us within an inch of a shooting war with Iran and he unleashed Eliot Abrams and his regime change team on Venezuela and Bolivia and ramped up the very nasty sanctions (more like siege warfare) against Iran, Venezuela and Syria that have contributed to at least tens of thousands of civilian deaths and widespread suffering. Last, but not least, he gifted neocon hawk Mike Pompeo to world geopolitics and “diplomacy.”

      So, yeah, Trump’s antiwar cred didn’t make it past the campaign promise stage.

      1. tegnost

        OMG russia russia russia has a bounty out on us soldiers OMG OMG no withdrawal! DNC approves this message…/s

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > So, yeah, Trump’s antiwar cred didn’t make it past the campaign promise stage.

        I’m familiar with this argument and I vehemently disagree. US foreign policy has a constant “background radiation,” as it were, of global violence, of drones, proxy wars, mercenary actions, and so on. Trump did not end these. I’m not sure how to end them, save by something like an enormous EMP taking out all the electronics in our weaponry.

        What is clear is that Trump, on war, is better than the two previous administrations. We have nothing, nothing at all, on the scale of Bush’s Iraq/Afghanistan debacle, and nothing even on the scale on Obama and Clinton’s Libya debacle. I, personally, am convinced that the Clinton administration would have started a hot war with Russia, whether accidentally, if you believe in accidents, or on purpose, either in Syria or Ukraine. I mean, regardless of its utility in domestic politics, what else is RussiaGate but a war scare?

        There are two counter-examples.

        1) Yemen. That’s a proxy war. I regard Yemen, awful as it is, as background radiation. In addition, the revolving heroes in the Democrat Party didn’t come up with enough votes to over-ride Trump’s veto of Sanders’s resolution on war powers in Yemen.

        2) Venezuela. The bottom line is that Maduro is still in power. If you want to make a kind interpretation of Trump’s policy, it’s that he was smart enough to put an incompetent in charge of a project he wanted to fail: Bolton. If you don’t want to be kind, the entire administration is incompetent. So, do you want incompetent warmongers or competent ones?*

        If you only look at outcomes, as opposed to worrying about motives or personal morality, and are willing to settle for “not so awful as it might have been” as opposed to “good,” then Trump has been marginally better on war than Clinton would have been (and given the composition of Biden’s advisors — and the general unwillingness on the electoralist left to challenge the empire — may well be better than Biden**).

        NOTE * There is also the time Trump pulled back on airstrike on Iran at the last minute. And of course, there’s the UAE opening relations with Israel. If Obama had done that, the campaign to get him a second peace prize would still be going on.

        NOTE ** Of course, one does not know what an “empowered Trump” would do in a second administration. My guess is that he would go about destroying large parts of The Blob and putting openly, as opposed to systemically, corrupt goons in charge (“The man must die. He tried to help my enemies. Also, the money.” –Baron Vladimir Harkonnen).

  20. zagonostra

    >The “Left” and the Church

    Below is from Centesimus Annus written by Pope Paul II in 1991, to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum which dealt with the economy and social justice.

    If only my Trump leaning religious friends/family actually knew anything about the teachings of the Church it would be nice. There is so much more agreement between differing factions then they know if only they could get see through the manipulators of fear (Matt Taibbi’s Hate Inc. comes to mind). And yes, I know the Church has much to answer for in its historical and present day actions as opposed to what it preaches.

    The State cannot limit itself to “favouring one portion of the citizens”, namely the rich and prosperous, nor can it “neglect the other”, which clearly represents the majority of society. Otherwise, there would be a violation of that law of justice which ordains that every person should receive his due. “When there is question of defending the rights of individuals, the defenceless and the poor have a claim to special consideration. The richer class has many ways of shielding itself, and stands less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back on, and must chiefly depend on the assistance of the State. It is for this reason that wage-earners, since they mostly belong to the latter class, should be specially cared for and protected by the Government”

    It is the task of the State to provide for the defence and preservation of common goods such as the natural and human environments, which cannot be safeguarded simply by market forces. Just as in the time of primitive capitalism the State had the duty of defending the basic rights of workers, so now, with the new capitalism, the State and all of society have the duty of defending those collective goods which, among others, constitute the essential framework for the legitimate pursuit of personal goals on the part of each individual

    The obligation to earn one’s bread by the sweat of one’s brow also presumes the right to do so. A society in which this right is systematically denied, in which economic policies do not allow workers to reach satisfactory levels of employment, cannot be justified from an ethical point of view, nor can that society attain social peace.

    The absence of stability, together with the corruption of public officials and the spread of improper sources of growing rich and of easy profits deriving from illegal or purely speculative activities, constitutes one of the chief obstacles to development and to the economic order..


    1. anonymous

      The American political figure who hewed closest to Rerum Novarum would be Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy. He gave agency to mercy and justice his entire career.
      * As Judge in the Ossian Sweet murder trial of 1925
      * As Mayor of Detroit 1933
      * As Governor of the Philippines
      * As Governor of Michigan (for the peaceful resolution of the 1937 sit down strike.)
      * And then as US Attorney General (for one eventful year before Roosevelt —to get him out of the way—elevated him to the Court. Too much justice for J Edgar Hoover.)

      Wikipedia doesn’t cover the enormous pressures he faced, initially from voters, and then powerful business interests, or Murphy’s imaginative use of the Law and his office at each stage of this ambitious career. There’s much more to this story. I can’t write, so I’ll leave it here.

  21. TroyIA

    Biden is on track to lose the Electoral College

    Watch for how badly the Biden campaign wants to debate Trump as a tell for how bad the poll numbers really are. It was just last week that Nancy Pelosi said there shouldn’t be any debates. That stance may flip as the Biden campaign will see the debates as a hail mary attempt to turn the tide of his declining poll numbers.

    1. carl

      And to that I say, Donald Trump is not Bernie Sanders. He won’t stand there with his mouth agape as Biden tries to lie his way through the debate. Not that Trump is a truthteller either. Hey, we might have an event completely devoid of any factual content whatsoever!

    2. a different chris

      Is their some different way I can teach anybody here to follow links? Because I’m in double digits on comments like this and getting nowhere.

      Here is the poll writeup, helpfully provided in the article because they must assume nobody will follow it. It says nothing of the sort. Nothing. N. O. T. H. I. N. G.

      Since it seems too hard to follow “supporting” links, I have pasted it here for everybody.


      1. Jeremy Grimm

        You might want to read your comment again and add a sentence here and there. I can’t figure out what you are trying to say, and though I’m curious — I’m also too lazy to chase down enough details to figure out what you are trying to say.

      2. HotFlash

        Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. Me, I think that you-all gonna have Pres Trump again. Frankly, I don’t think he *wants’ to do the job for another four years, but it would seriously wound his ego if he lost. As for the Dems, I think they are hoping to win the popular vote and lose the electoral college — again. “Not fair!!! We was robbed!!!” But they won’t have to actually own this shstorm for the next 4 years. But wait, isn’t there some house of congress that is Dem controlled? Well, nevermind.

  22. anon in so cal


    “White House Says CDC Will Halt Evictions Using Quarantine Rules”

    “The Trump administration said it will use its quarantine authority to keep renters in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic as a way to prevent an eviction crisis that could worsen economic strains.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to temporarily halt evictions of consumers earning no more than $99,000 a year to prevent the virus from spreading, a senior administration official said Tuesday. The policy will take effect immediately.

    The administration is acting unilaterally after failing to reach a deal with lawmakers over another round of stimulus relief funding, aimed in part at keeping renters in their homes.”


      1. flora

        Meanwhile, on Dem Team Talking Points… crickets.

        But a recent report from the Aspen Institute says that because Congress hasn’t extended those larger jobless checks, the country could soon see an unprecedented wave of evictions and foreclosures. -ibid

        And Congress is on vacation. How nice for them. /s

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Yes. It’s also a clumsy tool and a partial solution (like that hack on payroll taxes which is really a balloon payment (and also a trap for the House, which must pop the balloon)).

        But at least Trump is doing something, while Congress is on vacay. Poor optics for them.

  23. Jessica

    “Just looking at the excess mortality after this pandemic ends is the only way we can get a true sense of the numbers of deaths due to COVID-19.”
    The excess mortality combines the deaths due to COVID-19 and the deaths due to the lockdown (for example due to delayed medical treatment). On the other hand, it underestimates the combined total for the two unless you adjust for reduced traffic accident deaths, work accident deaths, etc.
    So it doesn’t really increase the precision of the COVID-19 death total. It just functions as a check on the honesty of the numbers if there is too wide a discrepancy between the reported COVID-19 numbers and the total excess deaths.
    BTW, the claim has been made that in the UK at least, the total number of deaths in the months after the COVID peak was actually lower than normal and that this was because many of the COVID fatalities were deaths just brought forward a few months. I haven’t found the raw numbers so I have no idea how valid this claim is. I realize that the question of exactly who is dying has been avoided to a large degree from a valid concern that deaths of the very old and infirm would not be treated seriously.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > So it doesn’t really increase the precision of the COVID-19 death total. It just functions as a check on the honesty of the numbers if there is too wide a discrepancy between the reported COVID-19 numbers and the total excess deaths.

      Good point.

  24. Wukchumni

    “Burning Man 2020 is Happening!” [Burning Man]
    If you could somehow replicate wind storms leaving playa dust all over the innards of your laptop, temperature variants from 37 to 104 degrees in the course of a day, evading the man with your stash as he rides in an air conditioned cop car from some small Nevada town, oblivious to the obvious, and riding your bike @ night well lit with tens of thousands of others and managing not to run into anybody…

    But no, why bother going to an online version of Burning Man?

  25. martell

    Meanwhile, in Portland, a collection of left-leaning groups is calling for the mayor’s resignation, arguing that the recent killing (possibly murder) of a right-wing counter-protestor is the result of the mayor encouraging the right while abusing protestors on the left. Struck me as a somewhat counter-intuitive argument, but it seems that there is much that I just don’t understand about the months long BLM protests. So, add this to the list.

    I suppose that what most perplexes me is that the prime suspect, someone avowedly Antifa (for what little such avowals are worth), was arrested at an earlier protest for carrying a handgun, among other allegations. It might have been the very same weapon as that used in the shooting. He was immediately released and all charges dropped. This is part of pattern in Portland, where, it seems, hundreds of similar charges against protestors have been dropped. As a result, local sheriff departments are refusing the governor’s order that they assist Portland city law enforcement. The sheriffs have declined to follow that order on the grounds that it would be a completely wasted effort on their part. In any case, in seems to me that if the laws pertaining to firearms possession had been enforced in the case of the suspect, a BLM protestor, that particular killing would not have occurred (assuming of course that he is the same neck fist-tatooed person as the fellow who appears in the videos of the shooting).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      From what I can read on Portland, I’m baffled (and I admit that the press coverage is terrible, so I may never be able to actively pursue a state of non-bafflement).

      It seems to me that the two (?) sides are engaging in a test of strength at the tactical level. But what does victory look like? I don’t know. And to it grinds on, like trench warfare. Whatever it all is now, it’s not a “protest.”

      I’m certainly willing to be persuaded otherwise. Readers?

      1. WhoaMolly

        I am baffled too.

        A retired friend lives in downtown Portland. We talk daily. He says “Everything is confined to a couple blocks. Otherwise, stores and coffee shops are reopening. Plywood is coming down (off windows).”

        He acts puzzled when I ask “Is Portland burning?”


  26. Wukchumni

    Longterm homeless in California all have deep tans from being outside all of the time, and if there was a subset of individuals you’d think were likely candidates to get Covid, they’d be the ones, but not so much on account of all that vitamin D perhaps?

    Interestingly, Jacobson’s team also suggests vitamin D as a potentially useful Covid-19 drug. The vitamin is involved in the RAS system and could prove helpful by reducing levels of another compound, known as REN. Again, this could stop potentially deadly bradykinin storms from forming. The researchers note that vitamin D has already been shown to help those with Covid-19. The vitamin is readily available over the counter, and around 20% of the population is deficient. If indeed the vitamin proves effective at reducing the severity of bradykinin storms, it could be an easy, relatively safe way to reduce the severity of the virus.


  27. ambrit

    No matter who “wins” in November, the idea of “..taking sledgehammers to the voting machines..” will become legitimate political speech.
    I’ll wager that both sides will be able to show where the machines were “rigged.”
    America is now in a Lose-Lose situation.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > both sides will be able to show where the machines were “rigged.”

      Of course, because the unique selling proposition of electronic voting machines and voter rolls is that you can steal elections with them. And precincts for both parties use them. QED.

  28. John Anthony La Pietra

    IMO there’s plenty enough of greed around to condider it extreme. It’s just that 75 may not be that extreme a greed level as balanced against the almost-as-extreme fear that’s in the air today, too.

Comments are closed.