2:00PM Water Cooler 9/11/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I got my 9/11 links all tangled up with my 2020 links, and so stumbled about for a bit. More shortly! –lambert UPDATE All done. OBL won, didn’t he.


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

Here are the United States regions (with positivity):

Again, if the curves continue like this for another couple weeks — which they may not — I’ll conclude we dodged a bullet on school re-openings, horrid anecdotes aside. And the Midwest looks a lot better in the aggregate.

And here are world regions:

Monroe Doctrine not looking so good, here.

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“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. September 9: No changes. 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:

Here, however, is an early voting calendar.

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UPDATE Biden (D)(1): “Biden says US must maintain small force in Middle East, has no plans for major Defense cuts” [Stars and Stripes]. “Former Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that he supports drawing down troops in the Middle East but if elected president would keep a small force there to prevent extremists from posing a threat to the United States and its allies. ‘These ‘forever wars’ have to end. I support drawing down the troops. But here’s the problem, we still have to worry about terrorism and [the Islamic State],’ Biden told Stars and Stripes in a telephone interview. He also said he does not foresee major reductions in the U.S. defense budget as the military refocuses its attention to potential threats from ‘near-peer’ powers such as China and Russia.” • Fundamentally, nothing will change.

UPDATE Biden (D)(2): “Biden lavishes time and money on key industrial states, but hasn’t locked them down yet” [Los Angeles Times]. “The Democrats’ presidential nominee is showering money, staff and time over [Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin] — the ‘blue wall’ that crumbled when Donald Trump’s victories by tiny margins in all three propelled him to the White House. By this weekend, Biden will have made five trips to those battleground states in less than two weeks…. Biden has yet to lock down those crucial states. He has held a consistent polling lead over Trump in each of them, but not enough to feel confident. Trump and Biden have been shadowing each other in campaign appearances across the region. Some Democrats have downplayed the importance of the region, arguing that the party’s best path to victory runs through diverse Sun Belt states that could be flipped from the GOP rather than recovering lost ground among the white working class in the Midwest. Biden’s campaign has tried to do both, making some efforts to compete in states like Florida, Arizona and Georgia that Trump won in 2016.”

Trump (R)(1): “Trump’s Strength With Military Households Persists in Wake of Atlantic Report” [Morning Consult]. “Morning Consult daily tracking conducted Sept. 6-8 found Trump leading Biden by 10 percentage points, 52 percent to 42 percent, among 2,711 likely voters in military households — those who said they are, or live with, an active-duty service member or veteran. But his advantage with the group has decreased since the 2016 election, when he won military-affiliated voters by 18 points, 57 percent to 39 percent, according to Morning Consult exit polling…. With fewer undecided voters this year, Biden is currently polling 7 points ahead of where Clinton was with likely voters in military households at a comparative point in the race four years ago. His standing is consistent with his average deficit to Trump among the group since The Associated Press first reported the Russian bounty program at the end of June. Trump’s strength with the demographic has proven durable.”

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UPDATE “‘I want to be in the Trump party’: GOP rides voter registration surge in key state” [Politico]. “President Donald Trump has trailed Joe Biden in virtually every poll in Pennsylvania this year. But there’s a more tangible piece of data in the state that tells a different story: Since 2016, Republicans have netted nearly seven times as many registered voters here than Democrats…, The GOP has also seen a larger boost in registrations than Democrats in three critical areas across Pennsylvania: Erie, Luzerne and Northampton counties, all of which helped Trump flip the state by backing him after supporting former President Barack Obama in 2012…. Overall, registered Democrats now make up 47 percent of the state’s electorate, down from 49 percent in September 2016. Republicans comprise 39 percent, up from 38 percent four years ago. Many party officials credit Trump himself for narrowing the gap…. While they have lost ground statewide, Democrats have netted more registered voters in the last four years than the GOP in Philadelphia’s suburbs. In fact, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware and Bucks counties, along with the city of Philadelphia, are the top five areas where they have seen a registration boost.” • I think people confuse Trump’s dysfunction with dysfunction in the Republican party machinery. That certainly wasn’t true in 2016, and I don’t think it’s true today.

UPDATE “Amid Flood Of News, Voters Appear Locked In On Their Presidential Choices” [NPR]. “But NPR interviews with voters across the country around Labor Day weekend found that most are locked into their support for either President Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden. The small contingent of undecided voters said they are unenthusiastic about their choices… Sheri Holman, a Michigan union member who is among a bloc in the state who abandoned Democrats for Trump in 2016, is sticking with the president, even though she admits she doesn’t like him personally. ‘He’s a strong — he’s got a strong backbone,’ she said. But she isn’t convinced that after Election Day the country will move past the intense partisan split. ‘I’m sure there’ll be riots no matter which way it goes,’ she says.” • I wonder if that sentiment is prevalent in Michigan…

“The Neglect of Latino Voters” [The Atlantic]. “During the Democratic primary, Latino groups praised the Sanders campaign’s outreach strategy as a model for other candidates. Early in the campaign, Sanders’s team placed staff and poured historic amounts of cash into California, Nevada, and Texas, in an attempt to show the campaign’s cultural competency and commitment to Latino communities. But Biden’s campaign has repeated some of the same mistakes as past presidential candidates, ramping up its outreach only in the past three months after Latino leaders scathingly criticized its primary strategy. The Biden campaign has hired new staff, rolled out its agenda for the Latino community, and announced new ad buys in key states that will “micro-target” Latinos based on ethnicity (and even music taste). The campaign has also tried to capitalize on Kamala Harris’s support among Latinos in California, debuting a Spanish-language ad highlighting Biden’s selection of Harris as his running mate….. Biden’s investment comes as the Trump campaign more aggressively courts conservative Latino support with digital and TV advertising that paints Biden as incompetent, radical, and antibusiness.” We’ll see, I suppose…

UPDATE Ad spend:


Readers know I’m not big on anniversaries. And I was far away in Philly when I turned on the TV and saw the Twin Towers burning. But 9/11 seems a little bigger this year, so herewith (and more shortly):

“Cheney Waits Until Last Minute Again To Buy Sept. 11 Gifts” [The Onion]. “‘No,’ Cheney continued. ‘No, 9/11 is about the warm feeling you get when you help an elderly woman cross the street and then whisper to her that the terrorists can strike at any moment. 9/11 is about the satisfaction of telling people to do things and then them doing it—not because they want to, but because they are afraid to do otherwise. 9/11 is about removing Saddam Hussein from power. But most of all, 9/11 is about love.'” • Oh.

UPDATE This is wild. Thread:

I find it really hard to wrap my head around this. “Pretty calmly”? From what I remember, the country went absolutely batshit. Remember Freedom Fries? Freedom toast? Here’s a thread on the cray cray:

Who’s lost their minds, here? Me, or Krugman?

“Listen to [9/11 week] Bush Did 9/11 (Part 1) from TrueAnon on Apple Podcasts” (podcast) [TrueAnon]. • A re-upload from earlier this year and the first of a multi-part podcast. I wouldn’t take anything causal from this, but the podcasters are really fun, the atmosphere of the time is captured very well, and there are thumbnail portraits of a lot of the players, some well-known, some not.

UPDATE “Gitmo Soldiers Get 9/11 History Lessons” [ProPublica]. From 2013, still germane: “Young soldiers at Guantanamo Bay would have been in grade school when the 9/11 attacks occurred. But the government is making sure the terrorist attacks are fresh in their minds…. The FBI now holds briefings for military personnel stationed at Guantanamo about the attacks and their connection to the island prison…. We received eight pages of the FBI’s 17-slide PowerPoint presentation after filing a Freedom of Information Act request. We filed the request after a Huffington Post report cited the briefings, saying they ‘left many participants in tears.'” • Remember when [genuflects] President Obama promised to close Gitmo? Good times.

Warning: No yarn diagrams!

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Another 9/11:

2016 Post Mortem


Our Famously Free Press

UPDATE Adolph Reed on American Affairs:

FWIW, I put American Affairs in the American Conservative bucket, not the Breitbart bucket (“Take what you like, and leave the rest,” as AA has it). An as far as American Affairs using Nagle and Tracey for shit-stirring purposes, that shit needed to be stirred. Here’s the full interview.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Re-Appraising “The West Wing”: A Multi-Season Hyperreal Clinton Sobriquet-Cum-Apologia For ThermidoR” [Counterpunch]. “The West Wing is the cornerstone of a hyperreal simulation and simulacrum created by the conglomeration of NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. Television to obfuscate the neoliberal Thermidor within the Democratic Party that has taken place in the past half century. The interplay between the nonfiction simulation on its news broadcast platforms and the simulacrum on its fictional broadcasts creates a wraparound ideological assault that hinders the base constituencies of the Democratic Party from recognizing the leadership superstructure’s abandonment of the Keynesian social contract and their targeted evisceration of the welfare state. This particular serial had antecedents, no doubt, but what Aaron Sorkin created here was a text functioning in multiple dimensions so to maintain the hegemony of the neoliberal status quo during the consolidation of its Thermidor. French cultural and media philosopher Jean Baudrillard wrote “Today it’s not just about buying signs of power, it’s about controlling the code — the process of signification. The elite are not separated from the rabble by purchasing power alone, but by their exclusive and privileged access to signs — and by being at the top end,” a perfect description of how this program operates within the larger simulation/simulacra system.” • Whoever is operating QAnon has read their Baudrillard… UPDATE And here’s the West Wing version of the Bush administration on 9/11.

UPDATE “Congressional Standoff Over Coronavirus Relief Likely To Last Until November” [HuffPo]. “Erika Feldstein of Atlanta worked as a freelance producer of TV commercials until March 13, when everything closed and gigs dried up. She remained current on her bills until August, when Congress dropped the $600 weekly supplement it added to state unemployment benefits earlier this year. ‘I’ve never been in this position in my life before. I like to work and I can’t,’ Feldstein, 49, said in an interview. ‘I hope our Congress had a nice break, enjoyed their multiple homes and vacations near and far.'” • Quotes like that are why I filed this story under “Realignment and Legitimacy.”

UPDATE “Vulnerable Dems anxious over stalled Covid talks” [Politico]. “‘I think they will come back again,’ Schumer said of the White House, according to three Democratic sources on the call. ‘The weaker they are, the better off we are. And that means the more heat they get and the more that Mnuchin is able to persuade Trump, ”

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UPDATE “A million mail-in ballots could go uncounted this fall. The USPS may not be to blame” [Los Angeles Times]. “[E]xperts say recent controversies surrounding the post office and Trump’s campaign of disinformation about mail-in voting are mostly sideshows. The bigger dangers for voters predate this administration and involve election officials in the states.” • Wowsers. Who knew? More: “Missing the deadline for ballots to be delivered to election officials was the main reason that about 1% of all mail ballots were tossed in 2016. Amid this year’s rapid shift toward mail voting, the percentage has surged higher in some states. More than 5% of mail votes were thrown out during this year’s primary in Virginia, for example, according to figures reported by National Public Radio…. Even if all voters sent ballots in by mail in this year’s general election, delivering them would be no problem for a Postal Service that handles 3 billion cards and letters a week during a typical holiday season, said Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union. The key is that voters have to allow enough time for their ballots to arrive, and states need to provide accurate information about the deadlines…. ‘One of the things I hope the Postal Service [controversy] has done is convince everyone that if they want to vote by mail, they should do it as early as possible,’ he said. That message is especially important in states that don’t have much experience with widespread mail-in voting. In New York City, for example, more than one in five ballots were rejected in this June’s primary. Until this year, voting by mail had accounted for just a small share of ballots cast in the state, and election officials were overwhelmed by a ten-fold increase.”

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.

Inflation: “August 2020 CPI: Year-over-Year Inflation Rate Grows to 1.3%” [Econintersect]. “According to the BLS, the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) year-over-year inflation rate was 1.3 % year-over-year (up from the reported 1.0 % last month)…. The index for used vehicles was the reason for the month-over-month increase of the CPI-U. Medical care services cost inflation changed from 5.9 % to 5.3 % year-over-year.”

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 05 September 2020 – Improvement This Week Mostly Due To Holiday Mismatch” [Econintersect]. “Week 36 of 2020 shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) grew according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data. Total rail traffic has been mostly in contraction for over one year – and now is recovering from a coronavirus pandemic. This week’s improvement was mostly due to a holiday mismatch. Total rail traffic has two components – carloads and intermodal (containers or trailers on rail cars). Container exports from China are now recovering, container exports from the U.S. declined and remains deep in contraction. This week again intermodal continued in expansion year-over-year and continues on a strengthening trendline. However, carloads remain deep in contraction.”

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Retail: “A Covid Mystery: the Terrified, Treat-Yourself Consumer” [Bloomberg]. “At the moment, we need all the dopamine we can get. Perhaps, that’s why we are mashing the “buy” button so hard and so often. A day doesn’t go by of late without another boffo shopping report beating expectations. At a frenetic pace, we are snatching up cars, homes, home improvement gear, laptops, flowers, treadmills, guns, golf clubs, and video games, to name but a few categories. Best Buy can’t keep up with gadget demand. Nintendo just posted a historic billion-dollar profit. And Target sales tripled in the recent quarter. Congress, the Federal Reserve, and a wave of stimulus money has financed much of this spending spree. Pent-up demand is no doubt playing a part as well. When it became clear the zombie apocalypse wasn’t nigh, we suddenly needed a new deck and a Stihl chainsaw, Recession be damned. Consumer spending rose 2% in July, according to data released Friday, its third consecutive monthly increase. Meanwhile, consumer confidence is at a six-year low, an incongruous data point that suggests there’s something deeper and weirder going on. Specifically, the entire notion of discretionary spending is in flux.”

Tech: “Facebook Announces New Campus Pages To Connect College Students Amid Coronavirus” [Forbes]. “Facebook launched a new ‘Facebook Campus’ feature Thursday that aims to connect college students with their campus communities, returning the social network to its initial college-only roots as students across the country contend with virtual learning and decreased opportunities for face-to-face socializing amid the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.” • Facebook invents Facebook!

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 56 Greed (previous close: 59 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 60 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 11 at 12:37pm. Where is the Greed of yesterweek?

The Biosphere

“Cascading Risks of COVID-19 Resurgence During an Active 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season” [JAMA]. “Population protection from hurricane hazards revolves around evacuation and sheltering (ie, transporting and gathering people together in groups). In contrast, effective approaches to slow the spread of COVID-19 are physical distancing and stay-at-home orders (ie, separating and keeping people apart). The inherent incompatibility of these strategies can exacerbate harm in 2 ways. First, when COVID-19 is actively circulating in the community, citizens may fail to heed evacuation orders, increasing the risk of severe injuries and drowning from direct exposure to hurricane hazards that will require emergency rescues and care in already over-full health care facilities. Second, based on the evolving understanding of the transmissibility of COVID-19, asymptomatic persons who are infected and actively shedding virus may transmit COVID-19 to others during the course of evacuation and sheltering because community members are placed in close proximity in congregate or household settings, and may remain confined indoors for an extended duration.” • What do readers in on the Gulf and East Coasts think?

Health Care

“China Starts Testing Covid-19 Nasal Spray Vaccine” [Bloomberg]. “The newest Covid-19 vaccine candidate to start human testing is the first where volunteers won’t get a painful injection. Instead, they’ll receive a spray through the nose. China on Wednesday approved phase I human testing for the nasal spray vaccine, which is co-developed by researchers at Xiamen University and Hong Kong University, as well as by vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise Co. Intranasal spray has previously been developed as a vaccine for the flu and is recommended for use among children and adults who want to avoid the more common needle injection. While it is not the most frequent choice for delivery, scientists around the world are working to develop sprays as an alternative to muscle jabs for all sorts of vaccines.”

“Speak softly to scatter fewer coronavirus particles, say researchers” [Straits Times]. “More quiet zones in high-risk indoor spaces, such as hospitals and restaurants, could help to cut coronavirus contagion risks, researchers have said, after a study showed that lowering speaking volume can reduce the spread of the disease. In efforts to rein in transmission, a reduction of 6 decibels in average speech levels can have the same effect as doubling a room’s ventilation, scientists said on Wednesday (Sept 9), in an advance copy of a paper detailing their study. ‘The results suggest that public health authorities should consider implementing ‘quiet zones’ in high-risk indoor environments, such as hospital waiting rooms or dining facilities,’ wrote the six researchers from the University of California, Davis.” • Another victory for introverts…

Thought leader leading… where?

Since Slavitt opposes #MedicareForAll, it’s hard to know what his alternative is. Something overly complicated, presumably means-tested, with complex eligibility requirements, and preserving a role for the health insurance companies. I know! Germany — but without the regulation part!

Screening Room

“The people freaking out about ‘Cuties’ should try it. They might find a lot to like.” [Alyssa Rosenberg, WaPo]. “This is very much a film about what happens to kids when their parents aren’t physically or emotionally present in their lives. It’s highly skeptical of social media platforms and what sexualized mainstream culture teaches children about what behavior is normal or desirable. Though its characters post provocative dance videos and wear revealing costumes, “Cuties” doesn’t present their actions as liberated or admirable: Instead, the movie repeatedly shows other characters reacting with sadness or disgust when these girls try to act like grown women.” • Rosenberg gives a shout-out specifically to–

“Pretty Babies” [Rod Dreher, The American Conservative]. “The film centers around Amy, an 11-year-old girl living in immigrant housing in Paris. Her family is from Senegal, and are devout Muslims. When the film opens, her father has gone back to Senegal, and her mother is awaiting his return. We discover that he has gone to their homeland to take a second wife. Amy watches her mother grieve this, and try to be okay with it, because it is permitted in their traditional Islamic culture. An older Senegalese woman in the community, her “auntie,” is an enforcer of tradition. A Muslim would no doubt see this film differently, but I sympathized strongly with Amy’s rebellion against this cruel culture. The problem is that Amy has nobody to talk to about it. She falls in with some bad girls at school — bratty, highly sexualized kids who have formed an amateur dance troupe (The Cuties), and are trying to win a competition. Amy eventually wins acceptance in the group, and steals her cousin’s smartphone so she can become part of their culture. In what I think is the most important part of this movie — a theme that a better film could explore without descending into the filth it ostensibly criticizes — is the role that technology plays in corrupting these girls. There is no dirty old man who trains these kids to dress and act like sluts. They self-exploit through the smartphone and social media. Here’s a scene from when Amy is just beginning to hang out with the Cuties. They are in the girls’ bathroom at school. The Cuties are watching hardcore porn on a smartphone, and commenting on it in revolting detail.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“The Racial Disparity in Unemployment Benefits” [The RAND Blog]. “Unemployment insurance—as 40 million Americans have started to discover during the pandemic shutdowns—is not a single public program, but a set of 53 distinct programs. Each state (plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands) has its own method for defining a worker’s past earnings, its own formula for determining how much of that income will be replaced by unemployment insurance, and its own cap on benefits. It’s the federal government’s intention that at the end of all those calculations states replace about half of a worker’s lost wages. So a worker earning $50,000 a year, at 50 percent replacement, should get $481 per week. This is no problem in Massachusetts, the most generous state, where benefits are capped at $823. But in Mississippi, the least generous state, the cap is $235. Instead of getting 50 percent replacement, that worker would get 24 percent. This drastic state variation is where the difference between the Black and white benefit comes from. The Black population in the United States—and by extension, the Black labor force—is not evenly distributed across the country. Six states have a near-zero percentage of the country’s Black workforce: Maine, South Dakota, Idaho, Vermont, Wyoming, and Montana. Another dozen states have fewer than 0.5 percent each. On the other hand, one in four Black workers lives in just three states: Texas (8.5 percent), Florida (8.1 percent), and Georgia (8.0 percent). Black workers are less financially supported in unemployment than white workers simply by virtue of where they live. The problem is that, overall, the states with more Black workers have less generous unemployment benefits…. That Black workers live in less generous states is not an accident of modern policymaking. The reason unemployment is administered by states at all—unlike Social Security, which is federally operated—dates back to the New Deal in the 1930s.” •

“That was no typo: The median net worth of black Bostonians really is $8” [Boston Globe]. “The median net worth for non-immigrant African-American households in the Greater Boston region is $8, according to “The Color of Wealth in Boston,” a 2015 report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Duke University, and the New School. This Spotlight seven-part series — which began Sunday — tackles the city’s most vexing question: Does Boston deserve its racist reputation?” • I’m guessing yes.

Class Warfare

A reader throws this mailing from Stephanie Bastek, DC DSA (Stomp Out Slumlords), over the transom:

We got some pretty incredible news from Park 7 today—a rent forgiveness offer that is the most robust we’ve seen yet!! This is a vindication of our entire vision for the pandemic—Chris Donatelli caved to this because of economic disruption, the rent strike, the threat of unrest, protests at his house, the rally, and all the insanely bad press he’s been getting because of this tenant movement we’re building. But we also can’t underplay the importance of the federal eviction moratorium (which we won for the same reasons!!), which truly forced landlords to confront the weakness of their position. They’re practically begging us for the rent. We have flipped the tables on them, and this is a really. big. deal.

We’re going to meet with the Park 7 tenants to talk through this and what moves they want to make—conditions and management’s treatment are still a huge bone of contention—but goddamn does this feel glorious. I don’t think this is either the last or the best payment plan we’ll see, but for now, here are the highlights:

* all rent payments through December 2020 are doubled, and can be partial (so $1500 knocks out $3000 of the balance, but $100 knocks out $200 as well)

* allows partial payments and doesn’t have a hard start date

* if tenants pay their rent on time and in full through February 2021,

any remaining balance is totally wiped out (!?!)

* requires no documentation or proof from anyone, just happens automatically

* doesn’t preclude a rent strike starting March 2021 either ?

I’ll keep seeing you in the streets

Are readers aware of similar efforts, successful or not, in their own areas?

“Marx, Race, and Neoliberalism” [Adolph Reed, New Labor Forum]. “Race is a taxonomy of ascriptive difference, that is, an ideology that constructs populations as groups and sorts them into hierarchies of capacity, civic worth, and desert based on ‘natural’ or essential characteristics attributed to them. Ideologies of ascriptive difference help to stabilize a social order by legitimizing its hierarchies of wealth, power, and privilege, including its social division of labor, as the natural order of things. Ascriptive ideologies are just-so stories with the potential to become self-fulfilling prophecies. They emerge from self-interested common sense as folk knowledge: they are ‘known’ to be true unreflectively because they seem to comport with the evidence of quotidian experience. They are likely to become generally assumed as self-evident truth, and imposed as such by law and custom, when they converge with and reinforce the interests of powerful strata in the society. Race and gender are the most familiar ascriptive hierarchies in the contemporary United States.”

“It’s High Time We Tell the Truth about the Evils of Marx and Marxism” [National Review]. “As for my insults and dismissals of an infantile, deadly ideology, I plead doubly guilty, again without apology. Let us say this candidly: Marxism is obviously unworkable and astonishingly asinine on its face. It’s about time we stop hemming and hawing and hand-wringing and say so. Why treat with kid-gloves something so ridiculous and destructive and deadly? Let’s finally admit and shout at the top of our lungs that Marx’s ideology doesn’t merely ‘distort markets,’ but creates mass poverty, despair, and death. Let’s quit treating it like just another belief system and show it for the evil that it is.” • Not like capitalism!

News of the Wired

“Did Megaproject Research Pioneer Behavioral Economics? The Case of Albert O. Hirschman” (PDF) [Bent Flyvbjerg, in The Oxford Handbook of Megaproject Management (2017)]. “‘ In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment. If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved. The idea is to get going. Start digging” (Brown 2013). Willie Brown here expresses the essence of Albert O. Hirschman’s famous principle of the Hiding Hand: If people knew the real costs and difficulties from the start, nothing would ever be approved. Therefore it is good they don’t know, because we need to get things going, to start digging. This point of view is also the oldest and most common justification of why low-balled cost estimates and optimistic business cases are considered acceptable in large projects (Flyvbjerg 2009). Following this idea, a certain amount of ignorance – Hirschman called it “providential ignorance” (Alacevich 2014: 157) – is desirable when beginning new projects, because without it projects would not get started. And starting projects is good, according to both Hirschman and Brown.”

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

JU writes: “It’s all about the whims of the winds in a wildfire and the west side of the Sierra sucks, but luck was with us in the far east as the view of Mt Whitney (center peak) and surrounding cirque had quite a crispness that was unexpected in the summer where we took up smoking. We didn’t quite drive as fast as Bogart in High Sierra, no need to rush as the road to the portal was closed except for those fetching one of around 20 cars, waiting for backpackers to come down from on high.”

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Carolinian

    Re West Wing–guess I should have watched it so I would know what all the shouting is about. I do recall that President Bartlet was a former college professor so presumably the imaginary Sorkin electorate ignored the cautionary tale that was Woodrow Wilson. Sorkin is big on college professors and in The Social Network pretended that Larry Summers as Harvard prez was a cool guy.

    Sorkin=poet laureate of the meritocrats.

    1. YPG

      My wife loves the damn show and I’ve seen every episode. More bizarre than Barlett being a professor, he’s a damn economics professor! To me this just shows the end-of-history ideology of the time. Who better to run the post-ideological world than a technocrat economist! Looking at the world now, the whole idea makes me want to puke.

  2. Anonymous

    Not like capitalism! Lambert

    An interesting thing about the Bible is that its economics is neither fascist nor communist (though the poor definitely have rights).

    It’s odd then that the Biblical alternative is not given much consideration in this still largely “Christian” nation.

    But instead let’s keep marching to doom: Left, Right, Left, Right … /sarc

    1. L

      Well lets be clear. “The Bible” as we tend to mean it is several books written over generations by several different groups. The old testament was specifically geared for a tribal people that were searching for or had just found a homeland. The economic model is heirarchical, family-oriented and includes things like slavery.

      The New Testament includes books that were interepretations of the words of a longhair who wandered the desert and explicitly rejected earthly wealth as well as political aspirations “Give to Ceaser what is Ceaser’s and give to G-d what is G-d’s.” Jesus’ only known fistfight is when he beat up moneylenders who had invaded the temple. So his perspective, such as we have it, is pretty different. Then again the people writing about him were communicating to others and had their own political outlook notably Paul who specifically wrote letters to convert Romans to his cause. And John of Patmos (likely author of The Book of Revelations) who sought to exclude Romans and non-Jews from the kingdom of God. (The number of the beast works out to Nero’s name).

      So to the extent we have a “biblical economics” it is decidedly mixed, seemingly inconsistent and super vague. If you then want to claim the mantle of leadership by holding up a bible and promising “christian government”. Then a lack of consideration is your only approach.

            1. hunkerdown

              “It’s in the Bible” has more ethical persuasive value in the anti-intellectual pragmatically-oriented USA than does excellent Mesopotamian archaeological study. At least until your American interlocutor changes the subject.

      1. HotFlash

        Well, a Bible-based economy may be too confusing to implement, but surely a Bible-based marriage shouldn’t be too hard? Mrs. Betty Bowers explains.

    2. clarky90

      Re; “But instead let’s keep marching to doom: Left, Right, Left, Right … ”

      “I will be an ally of the light, not the darkness….” Joe Biden acceptance speech.

      “НАПОМИНАЛКА Brest, Poland, 1939. Nazi-Soviet military parade”


      Here the Soviets and Nazis are optimistically, rejecting division and conflict, while moving towards peace and unity! Sept 22, 1939.


    3. JTMcPhee

      Speaking of religion-based notions of economics and social behavior, I know it’s de rigeur to scoff at Islamic principles of anything, let alone financial transactions. “Sharia Law! Evil incarnate!” and all. And of course a lot of Muslims are clearly as into greed-driven financialization and hypocrisy, spouting Islamic principles while imitating Jamie Dimon.

      But it seems to me that a set of banking principles and economic relationships that says collecting interest, particularly compound interest, is against the will of God can’t be all bad. There’s more to it —transactions are supposed to be more mutual in terms of assigning risk, and there are better ways to deal with indebtedness. My dip into the subject has been shallow, in keeping with my level of understanding of things financial. But reading articles like this, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_banking_and_finance, leads me to believe that there is a lot to import from this source that cold repair a lot of what is so depraved and destructive about the present “western” system.

      Not that the vampire squid personalities in keffiyehs won’t find the ways to twist principles to fit their looting behaviors, just like the folks in the Wall Street and City lotteries… But something to aim for, aspirationally at least.

    4. Tim

      Actually the early Christian Church as documented in the Bible was full on communist.

      If you ask Christians today about that they, say it won’t work on a 100 full population due to human nature and the lack of unifying religion across the entire population (which isn’t necessarily wrong).

      I find conservative Christianity gives an inordinate percentage of focus on humanities shortcomings, with a little snipet on how G*d can fix it, but out in the real world, those Christians presume G’d is ineffective in non-believers so the best conops is every man for himself based on his own decisions and actions.

    1. Pat

      Nor should it depend on a digital platform where the wrongly coded entry can end up denying someone needed care.
      My first read on this is that like so many other things, this is a boondoggle supposedly intended to streamline medical care, but really just adds a technological layer that can complicate just that at a very increased added cost UNLESS it is used to deny treatment.

      1. Tom Doak

        That technological layer is also designed to create technological jobs for a lot of the PMC, which is really the whole point of all the means-testing in government: as with Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack, you’ve gotta pay the officials to “keep it fair”.

    2. farragut

      Reading the responses to his original tweet, I was surprised to see so few specific mentions of M4A (in retrospect, perhaps I shouldn’t have been, given his previous employer). Makes me think Lambert is right: he’ll introduce something NC readers will not like…but it will be hailed as “better than M4A!”

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      My 2 cents: Health care should not depend upon what company you work for or what state you live in.

      Shouldn’t Public Health be a national security concern? We have demonstrable proof now of how our country would fare in a bioweapon attack. Imagine if covid mortality was 5%?

  3. ambrit

    The ‘Cuties’ meme is as old as lust and new as the latest auteur.
    Go Wayback and look at Louis Malle’s “Pretty Baby,” (1978) which explores the lives of early 1900’s New Orleans prostitutes, many of whom were young teens.
    Cuties is a phenomenon one finds when children are forced to raise themselves.
    Humans are a species that relies much less on ingrained behaviour than most, perhaps all other creatures. I have read of humans as being the species that has artificially extended childhood for individual members in order to extend the range and depth of their eventual skills sets. To accomplish this, guidance from older and sometimes wiser members of the social circle is needed to encourage “superior” character.
    Without adequate guidance during the formation of character and personality, one ends up with feral children.
    Read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feral_child
    The ‘Cuties’ of the fiction mentioned are a high tech version of feral children.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, but they are still all about sexualizing a bunch of 11 year-old girls and you just know that Jeffrey Epstein would have loved to have visited them on set! This is so wrong on so many levels but here is a fun fact. Would you believe that 4Chan – 4Chan! – has banned members from posting images and film clips from ‘Cuties’ on their site. So an ‘infamous image board known as a haven for trolls and tentacle porn, put its foot down where Cuties was concerned.’-


      1. ambrit

        There go the “alt-nauts,” defying restrictive classification, yet again.
        There is something about revulsion as a consequence of the sexual exploitation of children that transcends ideology or political persuasion.

      2. occasional anonymous

        That’s because 4chan isn’t actually the den of pure evil it’s commonly presented as by the media.

    2. fresno dan

      September 11, 2020 at 2:27 pm


      The Cuties are Kardashianized, and have come to believe that their self-worth is based on affirmations of their social media presentation — that, and by acting sexually aggressive. The film shows on several occasions other people — older teenage boys, Amy’s cousin, an audience — reacting badly to the Cuties’ sexualization. The girls don’t actually know what they’re dealing with — they are playing with fire, and only imitating what they immerse themselves in on their smartphones. This is important: the Cuties aren’t actually rewarded with what they think they want. People just seem to think of them as weird and gross. Which they are.
      There is a good movie somewhere in this material. The insanity into which our culture throws adolescent girls is an important topic. Pop culture bombards girls (and boys, but this is a movie about girls) with pornified messaging constantly, and really does tell them that their worth depends on self-presentation online, indeed sexual self-presentation. Where are the adults? In Cuties, the protagonist is part of a traditionalist Islamic community, but if this were true to contemporary American life, her disengaged parents might be worshippers at a suburban megachurch, and disengaged from their daughter’s life because they assume that she can be trusted with the smartphone, and besides, everybody has to have one to fit in.
      So is the film addressing the exploiting of the sexualization of teenagers, or is it exposing the exploitation by social media companies of teenagers? Maybe both. (if you make the movie too “tame” than your a prude to complain, but make it too real and your an exploiter as well)
      But the “tolerance” of this society for abysmal behavior, whether it be Jon Benet Ramsey in toddler beauty pageants, the elimination of unions, releasing the mentally ill onto the streets, the lack of health care, has been going on for a long time – and to answer Dreher’s question, apparently, the adults are fine with it…

      1. ambrit

        Continuing your theme; the continued “tolerance” of such exploitative behaviour is a prima facie case for the immaturity of the exploiters and their enablers. Anyone who is tolerant of such behaviour is most definitely not an adult. Secondly, a culture that tolerates such behaviour is not a mature society.
        The most important task any culture needs undertake is the education, protection, and enlightenment of it’s youth. Do that and the culture guarantees it’s stable continuance. Loose sight of that, with forays into secondary pursuits, and the society is headed for ruin.
        Stay safe over there. I hope that “Fearless Leader” deigns to power up the Pink Bunny Slippers sometime soon!

        1. fresno dan

          September 11, 2020 at 9:03 pm

          Once more unto the breach …
          Henry V
          Yes, the dems lose, once more due to a man in pajamas in his mom’s basement, antennaed eared pink bunny slippers, a 1987 Yugo, instructions from Putin, and Facebook postings. One would think it would take more….

          1. ambrit

            Yas, that those who were abed on St. Swithun’s Day shall evermore regret their dilatory natures!
            Even the blessed Vlad Vladimirovitch quails at the Sisyphean task that is swaying the votes of the populace that knows not Truth from Falshood. Both legacy party candidates eschew all semblance of honesty this political cycle. We cynics who serve the lepusine crepidae rosean must gird our loins, and other appendages, preparatory to the service of the greater good. It is daunting that the “adult in the room” is a foreign potentate!
            Stay safe!

  4. TBellT

    Since Slavitt opposes #MedicareForAll, it’s hard to know what his alternative is.

    If you are intent on preserving “the Market” could just move everybody to the Traditional medicare vs MA dichotomy. At some point I expect that to become acceptable to insurers as they see the MA profit margins outpace employer based coverage.

    In other news, I haven’t watched the full video, but Adolph reed seems to have taken a dim view of the Tracy/Angle article

  5. Henry Moon Pie

    In most traditional cultures, the difficult passage from childhood to adulthood is marked by a supervised puberty right at which an assumption of responsibility is a primary component.

    In American culture for at least the last 50 years, puberty is marked by rebellion against adult authority with the stated goal being personal freedom.

    That might explain a lot.

    1. Phil in KC

      For this boy, the transition involved responsibility for the lawn, then using power tools correctly and safely, a 22 LR, and finally the keys to the car. The rest of the stuff happened at 18 or not long after.

      1. wilroncanada

        For my 3 daughters, the transition began also at about age 10 with responsibility for the lawn (girls 2 years apart It was about one/third acre, partly hilly, grass and weed mix, with a 5 HP Toro push mower. Graduated into working in our small store after school, and of course babysitting. Now a psychologist, a newspaper editor, and a nutritionist/dietician.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        The comment was meant as a reply to your comment about the Cuties but I failed to execute.

        Re: Campbell–

        Have we lost the myths or have they lost their power for us? Plenty of people are hanging on desperately to the old myths, but they don’t seem to bring them much peace.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Just realized that you might have nailed it. All those Karens and the people protesting about masks and lockdowns and the like with their long rifles. In reality, it is all about

      ‘You can’t tell me what to do! And you can’t make me!’

  6. Billy

    “The result is that the net worth of whites as compared with [Boston] nonwhites is staggeringly divergent.”

    So, what about the Vietnamese in the Boston area who came over a generation or two ago with nothing, who didn’t even speak English, the Chinese, or African immigrants, who are often professionals and home owners? Are they genetically or culturally superior to black Americans? Are they exempted from “racism” somehow, therefore are successful?

    What percentage of Boston blacks are on welfare? Which is obviously not acknowledge in this deeply researched report with 403 people sampled.

    What would be the results if Boston whites were simarly parsed based on national origin and ethnography? What would be the net worth of Native born whites, excluding say Israeli whites, Irish whites, or Bermudian whites?

    What is the net worth of white Appalachians using the same metrics?

    The sponsorship of this by the Boston Fed smells like an excuse to create more debt instruments to load onto the black man.

    1. ambrit

      The “other” ‘ethnic’ groups you cite are generally recent immigrants or first generation citizens descending from a population that self selected for “rugged individualism” through the act of moving from one culture to another in the first place. By choosing to “come to America” to make their fortunes, these immigrant groups have already primed themselves psychologically to associate with the extant elite classes.
      Blacks in America tend to be fully “assimilated” descendants through multiple generations of forebears. Add on the generational effects of racialist policies designed to marginalize and degrade the American black population, on top of the already pernicious effects of America’s traditional demonization of the working classes and you come up with entirely different sets of populations.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I has not escaped my notice that the two black politicians in America for the top job – Obama and now Harris – are not average black Americans from places like Texas or New York or someplace like that. Obama had that Kenyan link while Harris has the Jamaican one. They are both of them kinda like outsiders to black Americans looking in and wanting to pole vault over them.

        1. ambrit

          I also think that it is a class based experience as well. Obama was raised by solidly middle class grandparents while in Hawaii while Harris comes from similar roots.
          If nothing else, Obama was a direct repudiation of Identity Politics as a legitimate political item.
          When someone tells me that Obama governed like a White man, I will rebut with the observation that he governed like a Rich man.
          Class knows not colour.

        2. Harry

          Harris’ Jamaican academic father repudiated her positioning herself as a pot smoking American black. And Im not surprised. Jamaicans are proud and many were raised to abhor lying. She is the daughter of two academics.

    2. Mikel

      You mean the ones that came from lands and still were able to maintain connections to those lands?
      If you don’t see the difference, you really don’t want to.

      1. jsn

        Billys comment is pure “what aboutism” all the way down. Look at these great distractions instead of addressing the article’s contents.

        1. fwe'zy

          There is something to Billy’s last sentence though: recent “financial literacy” campaigns have been more like indoctrinations into the financialized “way of being.” (You already know I’m mildly caught up in that net.)

          It reminds me of the argument that subprime loans were less about widening access to homeownership and more about adding fodder to the market, and to slice-n-dice. On the other hand, obviously under the high stakes status quo we absolutely have to get people access to banking and home ownership.

    3. Harry

      One of the few fun things about living in the area (a recent entrant) and being brown, are the conversations with other people of color who live in Boston and around it in the suburbs.

      So (spoiler alert) the answer is yes, Boston is the most racist town I am familiar with in the US. I have had fascinating conversations about this with transplants from the Carolina’s and from the New York area. I have also lived in Moscow, and I have to tell you it was kind of similar, but with a better social life.

      I thought this was one of those open secrets?

      If you want a particularly fun game, try asking why you shouldn’t invest money in Lawrence or Dorchester real estate. The contortions are hilarious. The consensus is “good luck getting rent from those people”.

      Which people? Tenants. Why are the tenants worse than say Gloucester? They just are? But there must be some reason? Hey, Im just trying to help you out. Absolutely, and I am grateful, but I am just trying to understand.


    1. nippersmom

      I’m of the opinion Krugman lost his mind (or at least his willingness to use it for rational discourse) a long time ago.

      1. John Wright

        It happened after he got his “Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel”.

        This can result in “Nobel Derangement Syndrome” in which everything one writes is to be believed of great import.

        One of the response tweets is ” the best time to delete this tweet was immediately after sending it, the second best time is now.

    2. Wukchumni

      We were in France hiking hut to hut when 9/11 happened. didn’t know about it until a couple days after the fact. We came back to the USA around Sept 28th and our first indication of the new patriotic normal was made in China plastic old glories waving madly from window jambs in about every other car on the 405 freeway.

      Last refuge of a scoundrel and all that…

      1. JBird4049

        Maybe the last refuge, but people reflexively respond defiantly when their group – family, clan, tribe, nation, country is attacked – which is why attacking the entire Middle East is counter-productive. Or for instance, when the UK, every major German city, or the Soviet Union were bombed and/or invaded, the general population became more defiant; they even more functional to the point that mental illnesses like depression and anxiety declined with the mental hospitals losing many of the their patients.

        Give a population functional leader and a reasonable explanation, target, and goal, they tend to become more effective, at least to a certain point, the more stresses are put on it. The problems start when you get people like George W. “Just buy more socks” Bush, Darth Cheney, Barack “the Professor” Obama, and Joe “the Backslapper” Biden who lie, deceive, hide, demotivate, and betray the very precepts, ethics, and morals of a society. Basically Americans were told to become not nationalists, but jingoists, and to uncritically accept whatever the current regime did, and then go away and keep working and buying.

        No sacrifice. No goals. No leadership. No inspiration. Drones Citizens of the Greatest Nation on Earth, the Leader of the Free World, don’t be afraid, but fear everything, obey authorities, do not question anything said by the authorities, ignore the torture, the dronings which includes American citizens, the invasions, climate change and ignore the security state. Ignore the man behind the curtain! Buy more stuff!

        So, whereas there is London, where the population was having bombs dropped on them and often living in the Underground, there was not this damned dysfunctionality that we see in our society. Very real fear, yes, as there were bombs blowing up buildings and killing people.

        However, there was a target, a goal, and work to do. My own Grandmother kind of thought of it as exciting, maybe fun, despite losing several homes and seeing some really unpleasant things, but she just did it. Which amazes me considering what happened to her. Just thinking about it makes me want to roll into a ball. The same could be said of the rest of Europe.

        So, going around again to patriotism as the last refuge of scoundrels, jingoism, blind unthinking patriotism is, and is often use to control and pacify the masses even when it causes mass insanity. Real patriotism, real leadership, encouraging participation during a crisis often strengthen a nation. It gives people more power, which can be inconvenient, when there is not a life-or-death struggle.

        Our current Regime does not want us to be more functional, have more power, and participate more, which would give us greater say in how things are. So they have pretended that this War on Terror (or this War on a Tactic) is serious and that we must fear everything.

        Americans are all hopped up, even demented, on this fear with the need and readiness to do something, anything, even now. Only now we have 18% unemployment with 50% of the population unable to pay for their housing. Our collective leadership, the party does not matter, tells us to fear the other – Americans, the world, elves?- it doesn’t matter. Turn off your brain and fear!! So our leaders think that they have control and can keep the good times going. We’ll see.

          1. JBird4049

            The government has been lying, murdering, and slowly ratcheting up the fear, while adding military bases across the planet, creating the security state and starting the process of dismantling the New Deal including the dismantling of civil society since at least 1947; if I wanted to, I could go all the way back there.

            For examples of our “leaders,” I could have added the Clintons (Welfare Deform, Libya) George H. W. Bush (mainly for his lies in pushing his war.), Reagan (for civil asset forfeiture, “enhanced” Draconian punishments for drug crimes, Panama, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador), Nixon and Kissinger (for the Southern Strategy, the War on Drugs, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh, Chile, Operation Condor, plus other evils.).

            Let’s stop there even though we’re only back to 1968 or 69. That’s as far back as my offhand knowledge is good. Although I could have added LBJ easily. So Vietnam and the Gulf of Tonkin, and Cambodia.

            The Orange Duce is merely a continuation of the past sixty-five years with each succeeding administration adding to the work of the previous one. Creating an evermore impoverished, fearful, and dysfunctional population enmeshed by the growing security state.

            A nightmare four generations in the making.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Last night I was watching part one on a doco of George W. Bush and it was a whitewash. I gave up counting the lies in it. But even in this doco their logic was twisted They said that after they took out Afghanistan in revenge for 9/11 they said that it was ‘too easy’ and ‘not enough’. So they decided to take down Iraq to make Americans feel better about themselves or something. The rehabilitation of George W. Bush continues.

        1. neo-realist

          Shouldn’t have expected anything more than a whitewash considering his elite roots and failures of his presidency, particularly from conservative foundation funded pbs.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      This tweet by Krugman and tweets explaining it have to make me reconsider the man on a moral level. This isn’t a situation of a bubble but a revelation of how he sees people. Krugman didn’t have to deal with more than “Freedom Fries”, but Trump gets snickers at conferences abroad. This is Krugman’s version of lamenting of how he is now missing brunch.

    4. km

      Frankly, the idea of agreeing with Paul Krugman on anything makes me feel dirty and ashamed, BUT, he sort of has a point.

      Americans did lose their collective minds, or perhaps were led to do so, BUT we didn’t see the sorts of spontaneous pogroms and mass violence that would be commonplace in other countries, especially when the “enemy” is a small, dispersed, relatively easily distinguished minority that would have a hard time defending itself.

      There were individual attacks, many committed by members of the Moron-American Community who didn’t know the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim, but fewer than one might expect, and not on a community-wide scale.

      At the time, a Pakistani friend of mine was working as a baggage handler at Reagan National. He is not a large or physically imposing man, and he looks like what one would imagine a Muslim from that part of the world to look like. If anyone would be a target at that time, a small bookish Muslim working in an airport in DC a few miles from the Pentagon ought to be a prime one.

      After 9/11, I asked my friend if anyone had threatened him, etc.. He told me that some imbeciles had made stupid comments, but that nobody had made any kind of serious threat or tried to lay hands upon him.

      God knows that I am no flag-waver, but honestly, I was proud. Because if something comparable had happened in a lot of places, the local reaction could be expected to be far nastier than a few stupid remarks.

      1. IMOR

        Great to hear it was chill at National (do not use the other, horseshit name). In my oh-so-liberal area, I had the pleasure for the second time of three since 1980 of pulling a punk trying to bully the Iranian (’79 refugee) owner of my gas station away and explaining what’s what to him. It bubbled along nicely through the ’03 protests and invasion. A Pakistani colleague from an earler job left my area to be with his parents in Maryland out of concern for them, but also due to harrassment and fear. See my other comment viz whether Americans should break their arms patting themselves on the back because mobs didn’t string scapegoats from lightposts.

        1. urblintz

          I remember when all the confused critters were insisting that Washington National Airport deserved to be named after a President…

          uh… what?

        2. HotFlash

          A while back a commenter here said he and his wife always refer to it as Voldemort National. That’s how I refer to it now.

      2. Geof

        Iraq. Guantanamo. The Patriot Act. Torture.

        What I remember is that on September 12, even the French were saying “we are all Americans now.” Here in Canada, many people lived in fear of terroism. There were widespread calls to fire a University of British Columbia professor who suggested that it was blowback for American imperialism.

        The fellow feeling evaporated as we witnessed the United States (and some of our own citizens) go stark raving mad to recitations of “you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists.”

        I was a Slashdot regular at the time. Most commenters there were American, with a big dose of libertarians (so atypical of the overall mood). Within a couple of years, if I recall correctly, opinion on Slashdot had shifted. Many were horrified by the Patriot Act and the curtailment of civil liberties. The traditional American righteous arrogance was being replaced by the perception that the United States had gone insane and abandoned its principles. I believe “batshit” was the usual adjective.

        Krugman has been unreliable for a long time. As I recall, during the 2008 primaries, he was a loyal soldier for Clinton, willing to make any argument, no matter how irrational or one-sided. Obama won, and he got with the program. In 2016 he repeated the pattern, this time against Bernie. He reminds me of people I have known who are intellectually smart, but who once they make an emotional commitment, are all confirmation bias all the time.

        If Krugman went with the crowd at the time (I dunno – I didn’t follow him), it’s natural that he would think that the country didn’t go crazy. That would be more of a reflection on him than on the country, if you ask me.

    5. hunkerdown

      Political salesmanship does resemble a psychotic break, doesn’t it.

      Maybe they’ve found more CP on his computer or something.

    6. IMOR

      Krugman’s memory is lousy and he sets the bar incredibly low. Bush and his cronies in Congress, Cheaney, his puppet masters- they knew they were finishing shredding the Constitution and Magna Carta, they knew this was something they’d consciously allowed to happen and none of them could spell sincerity or honesty with their mommies guiding their pencils. W didn’t even bother to wink as he uttered his ridiculous weasely platitudes about tolerance, because everyone whom he counted knew it was pure crap. Absence of a pogrom is an achievement? FFS. Plus the nation went batshit enough under its cowed/blackmailed legislative leaders to do the remaining work of becoming a police state.

    7. Donald

      Krugman lost his mind in early 2016 when Bernie threatened Clinton’s coronation. Krugman’s defense of Clinton on Iraq was that everybody was a little crazy then.

      I hated Krugman in the 90’s. He was a smarmy neoliberal. He seemed to see the light from 2000 to 2016, but then he turned sleazy again. I was genuinely shocked at his Bernie hatred in 2016, but decided never to trust him again.

      1. tegnost

        2008, right after the famous stiglitz krugman obama brunch.
        We’re saving wall st.. Do you care about your princeton students job prospects or don’t you?
        They do merit the most help don’t they?…
        Personal meetings with obama seem to always end up one way.

  7. Grant

    “It’s High Time We Tell the Truth about the Evils of Marx and Marxism”

    I guess we will have to wait for the next article from the author to actually construct an argument against Marxism. Is the transformation problem the issue? Is it Marx’s particular critique of capitalism, which was theoretical and based on a number of assumptions that are a bit problematic? Neoclassical economists and Austrians can’t really say much about that tough, given the absurd assumptions in their models. Issues with the labor theory of value? Does the author have a problem with a class analysis, which was what all classical economists of note did? Was it Marx and Marxists calling for the abolition of money and markets?

    Marxism is and was a very broad philosophy, and encompasses many different ways of thinking. Some Marxists were highly critical of the USSR, including the Marxists in places like Yugoslavia. And Marxists were often powerful in social democratic parties, especially in Russia (the Bolsheviks came out of a social democratic party), Germany, Sweden, etc. Many Marxists like Otto Neurath and Sergei Podolinsky were ahead of their time (as was Karl William Kapp) in that they saw how fundamentally important ecology was to economics and human societies (as well as Marxism itself). People that were ideological Marxists were some of the most committed people in the labor movement and brought important victories for working people. Of course, the Marxists in Cuba, not angels of course, have done some noteworthy things that have benefited the people there and elsewhere (look at its health missions and its foreign policy in places like Africa, fighting white settler regimes that the West was often supporting).

    It is capitalism that needs to go away, if we are to actually deal with the environmental crisis effectively. I am a socialist, not a Marxist, but I find a lot of value in the three volumes of Capital and the Theories of Surplus Value. The Third Volume is particularly important for me, given its focus on finance, and some of the environmental elements.

    Like I said though, I guess I will wait for the author to articulate a critique of Marxism instead of a series of claims with no supporting logic to any of it.

    1. hunkerdown

      That kid’s screeching ties in very well with Graeber’s general theory of hierarchy being intertwined with the concept of taboo. It’s as if he’s more offended at the recognition that the “reality” the dutiful soldiers of neoliberalism have been physically, mentally and otherwise abused into accepting has been a lie.

      1. occasional anonymous

        That article actually isn’t by a kid, it’s by Paul Kengor, a 53 year old fake historian who’s made an entire career out of lying about Marxism. His latest book is about how Marx was a Satanist, or something.

    2. John k

      I’m no fan of Marxism, but I don’t think the Soviet Union had homeless in tent cities. They didn’t have much, but they had a roof and food to eat.
      Capitalism has this crappy distribution problem. If only there was some middle ground, where companies are free to form, hire and produce stuff while being restricted in how they treat and pay workers, society takes care of the sick, we build enough modest homes such that everybody has a roof, and if the rich get so much they can influence legislation we tax them back to average plus 10%… probably hafta go to mars to find a model for something like that… then we’d need a name for it…

    3. ShamanicFallout

      I have tried to read Marx, took a university class on Marx, and I found that it is very difficult to get through. You really have to go slow and actually think. But I think Marx himself could never have conceived the way American capitalism (that “business of America is business”, the land of the almighty dollar!) can and does take any and everything and makes a buck off of it. It absorbs everything. If really existing socialism or communism ever came here, we would find a way to sell it, make money off of it and, viola, you’ve absorbed it straight back into capitalism!

    4. occasional anonymous

      Kengor has no reasoned critique of Marxism. In fact I actually seriously doubt he understands the first thing about Marx or Marxism. All Kengor does is point to the crimes of self-proclaimed Marxist governments (usually while grossly exaggerating them, and removing all context or nuance) and goes ‘see! evil Marxism!’.

      But Marx didn’t write a blueprint for governance, much less one for genocide. Marxism is fundamentally a model for analyzing history and civilization through a materialist lens, with the focus on class conflict. It has little to say about how communism will actually be achieved. It just posits a post-capitalist stage that will eventually emerge out of the contradictions of capitalism.

      1. What's Left

        > But Marx didn’t write a blueprint for governance, much less one for genocide. Marxism is fundamentally a model for analyzing history and civilization through a materialist lens, with the focus on class conflict. It has little to say about how communism will actually be achieved.

        Good point, that can’t be said enough. Plus, he died in 1883 and shouldn’t be held responsible for so much the political underhandedness that followed. (FWIW, Keynes was born in 1883 — some one who didn’t live long enough to defend his ideas.)

  8. anon in so cal

    >Covid: evidence suggesting it was circulating earlier than reported dates:

    “COVID-19 May Have Been Circulating in LA in December, UCLA Study Suggests”

    “UCLA researchers and colleagues have found that there was a significant increase in patients with coughs and acute respiratory failure at UCLA Health hospitals and clinics beginning in late December, suggesting that COVID-19 may have been circulating in the area months before the first definitive cases in the U.S. were identified, it was announced Thursday.

    This sudden spike in patients with these symptoms, which continued through February, represents an unexpected 50% increase in such cases when compared with the same time period in each of the previous five years.

    The findings, the study authors say, demonstrate the importance of analyzing electronic health records to monitor and quickly identify irregular changes in patient populations.


    1. Laura in So Cal

      Yup. I’m not surprised. We all talked about the horrible “flu” season in late December and January. Two of my husbands co-workers were out sick with pneumonia in late December and my family was sick with a really weird illness in mid January. We normally get the flu each year since we skip that vaccine and this wasn’t like any flu we’ve had. A low fever that came and went, bad headaches, and with my husband acute anxiety for several days. He was the most sick (male, age 57) and my son was the least sick with basically a bad cold level of illness (male, age 16). Of course, back then if you hadn’t been to China you couldn’t get a test.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Electronic health records are information about individuals, often loaded with erroneous lab and other test results, complete fabrications to support billing, transpositions of one person’s information into another person’s electronic chart, and vast opportunities to insert garbage. As practiced at the moment, I don’t see any utility in letting any Big, thing, government or business, into the detailed records of all us mopes. Lots of potential for monetizing, like Walgreens and so may others have done with personal records, and it’s clear that is the direction the whole Cloud is blowing in. There’s a reason the provisions of the Health Insurance, Portability and Accountability Act included some significant penalties for that kind of dissemination and use of personally identifiable medical information.

      One might think that it ought to be possible, ha ha, without leakage into the hands of profiteers, to collect the kind of general public health information on trends in particular areas like pulmonary and GI infections and other indicators of spreading potential pandemics, without letting the jackals into the storehouse.

  9. JWP

    “Facebook Announces New Campus Pages To Connect College Students Amid Coronavirus”
    No one will use this. If facebook really knew its people it would be using instagram for whatever college outreach it was trying to do, but as we’ve seen, trying to change student behavior on campus for COVID would require bribes, big ones.

  10. Ranger Rick

    Microtargeting, indeed. To a frankly astonishing level of accuracy, marketers and data brokers (to pull a name out of a hat, see Wiland) can predict various things about a particular person living at an address using publicly available information. Throw in the publicly available info regarding your likelihood of voting, and you suddenly have a very reliable list of addresses for canvassers to visit. Google (née DoubleClick) sells a similar level of targeting for online ad buys, as does Facebook.

  11. Lee

    Rent Strike

    Our collective household participated in the Berkeley tenants strike of 1970. It lead to many beneficial changes.

    In our case, it caused the property management outfit to go broke. We ended up negotiating directly with the retired owner of our two buildings, Thelma. We got along famously with Thelma, paying her more than she’d been receiving through the property manager and considerably less than we’d been paying prior to our successful disintermediation.

  12. ChrisAtRU

    #TGIF NC!

    OBL won, didn’t he?

    Yes he did. I came to this epiphany as the memories of what air travel pre-911 was like faded from memory.

    1. ChrisAtRU


      The Last Court Jester Of The Dying Neoliberal Crown …

      … logging in once again to remind us what an utter fool he truly is – both within and beyond the field of Economics.

      No, you’re not cray, Lambert. Krugman is.

      1. ChrisAtRU

        2016 Post Mortem

        The gall ….

        “Is Putin funding anti-fracking groups? Republicans think so — and so did Hillary Clinton”

        “We were even up against phony environmental groups, and I’m a big environmentalist, but these were funded by the Russians to stand against any effort, oh that pipeline, that fracking, that whatever will be a problem for you, and a lot of the money supporting that message was coming from Russia,” Clinton said, according to an excerpt from the speech created by her presidential campaign staffers.

        Love to be a big environmentalist while supporting fracking, so I can later lament the entire west coast burning due to climate change.

        There aren’t enough expletives …

        1. ChrisAtRU

          American Affairs & Adolph Reed

          I kinda feel like yesterday’s American Affairs offering followed by today’s Adolph Reed on American Affairs video would find some measure of musical similitude with the following chord movement:

          Asus4 –> B♭maj7

          … LOL (yes, we’ve been pandemic-guitar-noodling lately)

          Not saying Lambert is playing with our emotions, but that I appreciate the progression … ;-)


    2. JBird4049

      Ten minutes from taxi to plane before and two hours after 9/11? What’s the problem? Are you in a hurry or something? Is it having taking your shoes, belt, watch, and pockets and having the luggage’s contents sometimes on public display followed by the cancer scanners checking you out? How dare you complain! We must do anything needed to keep us safe! (Why, yes, I am be sarcastic.)

      1. ChrisAtRU

        LOL … ;-)

        But sadly, I really can’t remember … the airport was such a short part of any trip that the memories of everything else have remained, while the actually airport portions have sunk into oblivion. For example, I remember taking a trip to Austin for work. It was awesome. It was around Cinco de Mayo in 1999 I think. I bought records … yes, vinyl! I saw live music! All vivid in my mind. Can’t remember anything related to getting through an airport – on either side of the trip.

        Maybe this is the brain engaging in a bit of self-protection… for which I guess I should be thankful.


  13. diptherio

    Remember when that building that wasn’t hit by a plane collapsed into it’s own footprint on 9/11? That wasn’t at all suspicious.

    On March 25, 2020, researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks issued the final report of a four-year computer modeling study on the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7.

    The 47-story WTC 7 was the third skyscraper to be completely destroyed on September 11, 2001, collapsing rapidly and symmetrically into its footprint at 5:20 PM. Seven years later, investigators at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) concluded that WTC 7 was the first steel-framed high-rise ever to have collapsed solely as a result of normal office fires.

    Contrary to the conclusions of NIST, the UAF research team found that the collapse of WTC 7 on 9/11 was caused not by fires but by the near-simultaneous failure of every column in the building.

    Following the release of this report, AE911Truth and 10 family members of 9/11 victims submitted a formal request for correction to NIST’s report on WTC 7 based partially on the UAF findings. The request is currently pending.


    1. Tvc15

      Thanks for posting diphtherio. Before this event, I was a “normal” MSM consuming, USA is the savior of the world “good” citizen like I was taught in “school” and propagandized by Hollywood. For a year or so I did my best to swallow the unbelievable narrative being sold and ignore what I saw as a controlled implosion with lots of overtly suspicious events and obvious cover up. This event and 15 plus years of digging deeper into events like the sixties assasinations, CIA programs like cointelpro, mockingbird, MKultra, drug running and their numerous coups has made me a cynical question everything guy. I now view the USA as the worlds terrorist. That Lee Greenwood song makes me want to vomit.

      1. dcrane

        The controlled demolition thing has never made sense to me. Did the hypothesized controlled demolition installation team know exactly where the planes were going to hit? The towers collapsed from exactly those (different) points with subsequent collapse occurring floor by floor as the heavy top crashed down. The different timing of the collapses also matches intuitive expectation, with the earlier-collapsing south tower having a heavier weight pressing down on the decaying fire zone.

        People point to observations like windows blowing out well below the crash zone, but presumably massive pressure was created in that building which could have punched out here and there as it collapsed, so that means little as well I think.

    2. ChristopherJ

      Aye, Dip. Very sus was 911, too many coincidences, too much evidence hastily destroyed. The outcome was so outrageous that our very psychs could not conceive, at the time, that the event was planned and staged by state actors.

      Even now, noone wants to talk about it. I feel like a conspirator to even dare to comment.

      That’s how brain washed we have become.

    3. ambrit

      Yes. When I bought up the subject of WTC 7 once in a supposedly free wheeling discussion of 9/11, I was forcefully told to shut up. No one really wants to examine the ramifications of what happened if the WTC 7 official story is false.
      Too many loose ends, too much emotion deployed around the event.
      9/11 has become a defining moment in American history.

        1. Yves Smith

          Stop this. I worked at WTC 1 in the 1980s. There was only WTC 1, 2, and 7 at the time of 9/11. 3 was built as part of the post 9/11 redevelopment. 5 is merely planned.

          1. Efmo

            I think 3 WTC was originally the Vista hotel that sat between 1 and 2. (It changed names later). 4 and 5 were the small buildings sort of in front on Church Street. 6 was the NY Customs House, you had to cross the covered walkway to go there. (I worked at 2 WTC from ’84 to ’88 and then “across the street” at 195 Broadway until ’95).

    4. dcrane

      “caused not by fires but by near simultaneous collapse of every column in the building”.

      I guess I should read their report someday, but off the top of my head “caused by fires” and “near simultaneous collapse” don’t sound mutually exclusive. Let the thing burn and decay for hours, and the first column to collapse could easily be the straw that blows the rest more or less at once.

      And for those who propose controlled demolition…I just can’t understand why, if someone wanted to sneakily destroy that bulding with that technique, they would have waited for hours. Why not drop the building when the whole WTC system was shrouded in a massive debris/dust cloud immediately after the collapse of the adjacent taller building? Or, for that matter, just fly another plane into that one rather than using controlled demolition alone…

      1. Yves Smith

        The fire in 1WTC was around the plane impact area, the 97th floor, and ONLY the nearby floors. The floors below the Skylobby on 78 were untouched and there were no fires in the floors immediately above either.

        Nor was there fire in Windows on the World on 106.

    5. Foy

      The other weird thing about WTC 7 is that the BBC reported that the building had collapsed 20 minutes BEFORE it actually did. Here’s the clip of the reporter saying it had collapsed and yet it is still visible still standing over her left shoulder.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEsjv9vKCGc (at around 0.50s secs)

      How does that even happen (unless there is a script)?

  14. Toshiro_Mifune

    . He also said he does not foresee major reductions in the U.S. defense budget as the military refocuses its attention to potential threats from ‘near-peer’ powers such as China and Russia.”
    “Neer Peer” – Russia? What sort of delusional fool do you have to be to believe that a country with a $65 bil defense budget is anywhere close to being a threat to the US? More importantly what sort of fool do you think I am to believe this?

    1. ambrit

      Any State that possesses nuclear weapons is, de facto, a “near peer.” (Look at how effectively Israel pushes the United States around.)
      Send the tanks rolling into Kaliningrad? Be prepared to lose the entirety of Minot, North Dakota, and probably Norfolk, Virginia as well.

      1. RMO

        “if elected president would keep a small force there to prevent extremists from posing a threat to the United States”

        The primary reason Bin Laden gave for turning against the US and planning 9/11 was that he considered the continued presence of US forces in Saudi Arabia in the years after the Gulf War to be an outrage. There were other reasons but that was the main one. Thus, this statement makes no sense whatsoever – except inasmuch as Biden and many more in the MIC actually want continued rising military spending and was so doing things that make the US population less safe is completely in their interest.

    2. edmondo

      Remember that extra $200 billion A YEAR that Trump threw at the Pentagon? That stays too?

      I’m beginning to think the entire campaign is merely a bidding contest to the major donors for campaign contributions. This is Joe Biden campaigning for Raytheon’s C-suite money. “Throw some cash my way and I’ll make sure the gravytrain goes on”. You have to have a really strong stomach to vote for one of these two corrupt entities.

    1. edmondo

      You’ll know the fix is in when the USPS does recruiting events at the local megachurch. Just think of it: A million newly hired evangelical post office workers running around with keys to every mailbox in the country. They have total control over the election. Only one man can save us: Vladimir Putin! Rachel Maddow escapes across the Canadian border with one tear in her left eye for the America that could have been.

      1. jo6pac

        I hope the Canadian stop her at the border then put her in lockdown. V. Putin becomes POTUS and saves us from yourselves;-)

        1. ambrit

          Trust the Canadiens to regretfully inform us that Maddow was “shot while trying to escape.” Shot by which side will be the question du jour.

    2. Wukchumni

      Our voting precinct had mostly evang milita church volunteers, who got to know everybody’s political affiliation to use perhaps in the future somehow. Luckily the creeps are long gone, although you can still smell the stench they left behind.

    3. dcrane

      Given the shrieking rhetoric from the D side for the past 4 years (treason!! collusion with communists!!) I don’t trust any true blue Democrats either. It might not be difficult for the average Maddow devotee to convince themselves that canceling Trump votes is a patriotic move.

  15. Mikel

    Re: “A Covid Mystery: the Terrified, Treat-Yourself Consumer”
    In many instances, just filling the VOID.

  16. Stephen Cavaliere

    Per the Hillary Tweet:

    Of course she used the most alarmist photo. Just so everyone’s clear, that’s not the Golden Gate bridge in that photo. I live 12 miles from the Golden Gate and I would know. I believe it’s a photo from a town in Oregon but I have not been able to confirm that. That photo has been all over the internet without any attribution as to location. I think even the NYT used it in one of their online articles.

    1. Katiebird

      Weird. Not only does it not look like the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge but the land on the other end doesn’t match either Marin or The City.

      1. Aumua

        Funny, I’ve been assuming in the back of my mind that it was some doctored photo that was being passed around big media for their headlines. I just figured that’s the state of news today. But I would at least hope that it was just some other bridge besides the Golden Gate.

        For some reason it never seems to come with a caption, so I still file it under deceptive.

    2. dcrane

      thanks for pointing that out, since I made that assumption (had a friend from berkeley telling me about smoke this morning).

  17. Mikel

    “Facebook Announces New Campus Pages To Connect College Students Amid Coronavirus”

    I bet it connects Facebook to some pretty good advertiser premiums. Clearly Facebook’s way of battling the rumors of an aging demographic on their platform.
    SillyCon Valley has that “for the good of the community” schtick down cold.

    “Facebook invents Facebook!” Hilarious

  18. marym

    Eleventh Circuit Upholds Florida Law That Bars Hundreds of Thousands of Floridians From Voting Solely Because They Lack Enough Money

    A federal appeals court today upheld a Florida law that created wealth-based hurdles to voting. The decision denies voting rights to hundreds of thousands of people with past felony convictions.

    The case, Jones v DeSantis, concerned Senate Bill 7066 (SB7066), which was signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in 2019. This law made voting rights for people with past felony convictions contingent on payment of all legal financial obligations. It directly undermined Florida voters’ overwhelming passage of the Voting Restoration Amendment 4 in 2018, which had restored voting rights to over a million people with past felony convictions.


    1. fresno dan

      September 11, 2020 at 4:17 pm

      If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a poll tax.

      AND I would bet: payment of all legal financial obligations knowing Florida, that that law is unconstitutional or is administered in an unconstitutional manner…

      1. marym

        A poll tax that’s impossible to calculate…

        “Even though Florida requires people with felonies to repay financial obligations before they can vote, figuring out how much they owe is often impossible, even for state officials. There is no centralized place to look up how much someone owes. Some criminal sentences are from decades ago and record-keeping of court payments is often shoddy. Local clerks testified during a trial in May that there are often conflicting amounts in records.

        But in an extraordinary determination, the 11th circuit said on Friday that while Florida could require payment to vote, it had no obligation to tell people with felonies how much they owed. Florida does not have a constitutional obligation to provide that information to voters, Judge William Pryor wrote for the majority.”


        1. fresno dan

          September 11, 2020 at 7:35 pm

          But in an extraordinary determination, the 11th circuit said on Friday that while Florida could require payment to vote, it had no obligation to tell people with felonies how much they owed
          Isn’t there a “vagueness” requirement of law? except when there isn’t….
          If there ever is a correspondence between the law and justice, it was an error

  19. Steve

    Wondering if the short analysis under the 270ToWin map needs an update, or if I am missing something.

    Currently the map has 169 for Trump, not 204. To hit 270 he’d need to run the table on toss-ups + take 10 from Biden (169 + 91 + 10).

    Not sure what you think of their categorization of states like OH, GA, PA, but this map makes it look like the easiest path is all toss-ups + WI, or getting PA in lieu of any toss-up except FL.

  20. fresno dan

    “Re-Appraising “The West Wing”: A Multi-Season Hyperreal Clinton Sobriquet-Cum-Apologia For ThermidoR” [Counterpunch].
    Its fine to yammer on about the West Wing. But I would suggest that 24 was much more influential. Which one is actually worse…is open to debate

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Republicans would still be Republicans without 24. Jack Bauer runs all the time, so its total fantasy. I’ve seen pictures of those militia guys. If Jack Bauer had to eat a steak called the beefpocalypse to stop terrorists it might be less of a fantasy.

      The West Wing uses a great soundtrack to create a misplaced nostalgia and have Martin Sheen make James Carville’s idiocies sound grandiose. In the long run, it addled the minds of the Team Blue courtier class especially as it enters the backs of their minds. The scope of what they see as possible was limited by this show.


      Watch this scene. If you don’t really think about it, it sounds great! It doesn’t matter what episode, they are all terrible, but Lawrence O’Donnell penned episodes are the worst of the worst and devolve into hippie punching.

      1. fresno dan

        September 11, 2020 at 5:05 pm

        I have never seen the West Wing. And after seeing the clip, I would say that is a great argument why money SHOULDN’T be spent on going to Mars and instead spent on making sure people don’t sleep in the shells of burnt down houses….
        I would just gently point out the Clinton’s two terms were before the West Wing existed…

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Its a fantasy of a hypothetical Clintonesque alternative to the Shrub Administration without any of Bill’s messy bedroom morality issues. Though Krugman has forgotten, the “honorable” President Martin Sheen was a stark contrast to Shrub’s gang.


          I believe this is from a Lawrence O’Donnell episode (obviously I watched the program when it first aired). This is just the worst in a show where one character played by an actor who had an incident with minors is such a sexual dynamo a prostitute calls him up. Don’t worry she’s paying for law school.

          1. shtove

            “Free trade stops wars!”
            “No it doesn’t!”
            “I suggest we have a peaceful exchange of bullets. See how easy that was?”

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Its fine to yammer on about the West Wing. But I would suggest that 24 was much more influential.

      Influential in what circles? I think the point of the West Wing is how it informs and dominates liberal Democrat thinking. I grant that liberal Democrats and national security goons overlap; I wonder if there’s a 24 podcast?

      1. fresno dan

        Lambert Strether
        September 12, 2020 at 5:51 am

        Influential in what circles?
        Who’s the president? And why don’t we have health care for all?

    3. John Anthony La Pietra

      I’d still put in a vote for “Law and Order” — with its subtle suggestions before the “chung-chung” that everything the police investigate is a crime, everyone the district attorneys prosecute is a criminal, and those two groups perfectly and completely represent the People. . . .

  21. Di Modica's Dumb Steer

    Don’t bother with The West Wing; it’s delusional, infuriating trash. Instead, listen to The West Wing Thing, a podcast by Dave Anthony (of The Dollop) and Josh Olson, who watch the series and critique it, episode by episode, for the kinds of neoliberal policy and wishful thinking it has spread throughout politics (especially Democrat politics). The well-placed clips they liberally sprinkle throughout are enough to break you, and disabuse you of any notion that the series was any good.

    Biggest takeaway, other than how bad the politics of the show are? The West Wing had a thick vein of misogyny running through it, which I sure as hell didn’t remember. Listen to the podcast and it’ll be hard to forget.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Biggest takeaway, other than how bad the politics of the show are? The West Wing had a thick vein of misogyny running through it, which I sure as hell didn’t remember. Listen to the podcast and it’ll be hard to forget.

      Generally when I say “The West Wing” I mean the podcast, or the TV as refracted through the podcast. I didn’t own a TV for the entire run of the show, so I never actually watched it. “Josh and Dave” say they have a lot of listeners like me, who never saw the show, but enjoy the true-to-life depictions of liberal Democrat self-regard and self-delusion. And the misogyny.

  22. fresno dan

    So I have come to that point in life where it is time to apply for social security retirement benefits.

    So being a retired Federalee, I have the great fortune to have retiree health benefits, and being a HICAP volunteer, I thank my lucky stars every day when I see how much other insurance plans cost and what medicare actually provides.
    Anyway, I am filling out on line the form to start receiving social security. Bear in mind, the social security system is a Federal system, and I imagine the application was written by Federal employees…(maybe they contracted it out???)
    So I come to the part where it asks when I stopped working. I duly fill it out…
    It than asks when my health insurance ended….UH, I am a Federal retiree – I still have health insurance. So I check the little box that my health insurance has not ended
    I get a message in BIG RED LETTERS that states that I cannot check that my health insurance has not ended AND check that my employment has ended – – even though that is true.
    Apparently, the Federal government does not know that it provides retiree health care in perpetuity to its own retirees.

    Working at HICAP, I knew this would happen because such catch 22s happen CONSTANTLY.
    And people wonder why the average citizen holds the government in contempt.
    I know calling social security will be an ordeal, because I do when I am at HICAP.
    Speaking of HICAP, I have been on a several month hiatus, but today I was suppose to go back. I didn’t because for some reason everybody had to go home Friday afternoon, when I was going to go in.
    I have to say, I don’t know how much longer I will volunteer – its hard enough to explain medicare to people when you have charts and diagrams to show them in person as well as the computer screens, but to do it only orally over the telephone strikes me as something beyond my capability….

    1. fresno dan

      OK, so I decided to just change the check box to say that I don’t currently have health insurance. Another page came up and gave me the opportunity to write in any thing that further explains my current situation, so I took the opportunity to describe that I have health insurance as a Federal retiree. Whew…that saves me a call to social security. Hopefully, the bucks will start rolling in January 1, 2021!
      Now I can afford to drive out to the dumpsters behind the high class restaurants…oh, wait….

      1. edmondo

        Personally, I have found that every employee that I dealt with at the Social Security Administration was empathetic, cooperative and worked through various scenarios that ensured I would maximize my benefits. I am sorry you did not have the same experience I did but too wide a brush tars too many good people.

        1. fresno dan

          September 11, 2020 at 6:25 pm

          I didn’t mention the “people” – the people who work at social security or medicare are irrelevant to the problems at social security or medicare – they do their best to make sense of a system sometimes cruel due to indifference, and sometimes cruel due to design.
          The problem is the law is written to make things that should be simple and easy difficult and time consuming. IMHO this is not an accident – its designed to keep people from getting their full benefits.

          1. MichaelSF

            I retired after 29 years at SSA.

            edmondo, thanks, that was the way it was with my coworkers, barring of course the inevitable asshole that always shows up wherever you go.

            fresno dan, you are right, our jobs were to administer the laws and regulations as handed to us. Sometimes there was a bit of wriggle room where a little slack could be given. But we didn’t get to write the laws/regulations.

            My first office as a new CR (claims rep) was in northern Louisiana, and my introduction to the poverty many of the people I saw lived in was eye-opening, to say the least. But we weren’t counselors and we had to go with the income/resource and other legal requirements of the Federal programs. If the law says “means test” then some people are going to meet the test, and others will fail it. Applying those laws/regulations in an even-handed fashion to ensure that people who were entitled to some benefit received it was as far as we could go. If the law said “test not met” then the most we could do was try to explain things to the applicants so they understood why they were being denied and what their appeal rights were.

            Luckily in the SSA offices we didn’t make the medical decisions, that was done by an agency of whatever state our office was in. I saw medical decisions by both the State Disability Determination Service and at appeals that seemed quite wrong, but other than making sure the claimant understood there was an appeal process if they were denied and that we’d help them with filing the paperwork, the disability determination was out of our hands.

            When I filed for Medicare a couple years ago I went in to a local office to complete the claim. I had a bit of a chat with the CR across the desk while there, and the tale of woe about the state of things (from an employee perspective) had me very glad that I got out when I did. “Doing less with more” had been a thing for my last 10 years, and things hadn’t gotten better since then.

            1. fresno dan

              September 11, 2020 at 10:14 pm

              As they say, thank you for your service. Of course I am sympathetic to Federal employees – I used to be one. The injustices you see can wear on you after a career.
              But every time I saw something that I knew was wrong, the reason was always the same – someone who wanted to be wealthier, wanted it that way so that they would be wealthier….

  23. BobW

    9/11. I was in a restaurant some time after, and a yahoo was going on about how invading Iraq would “show them.” Was able to restrain my explaining urge, probably avoiding a black eye.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Was able to restrain my explaining urge,

      Thomas Friedman — The Moustache of Understanding — gave the classic expression of this view:

      And Krugman thinks the country was “calm“?!

  24. Cuibono

    Reeds comments on stirring up discord among leftists:
    Seems to me some of that money has made its way into the comments section here.

    1. ambrit

      To steal a trope; ‘Hasbara never sleeps.’
      When and where-ever one finds discussion of non officially approved subjects or opinions, one will find electronic fleas striving to infect the host body with some debilitating social disease.
      The evil genius of Hasbara is that it harnesses the energies and resources of ‘true believers’ for a pittance. The old Crusaders paid their own way to the Holy Land to fight the Church’s wars for it.
      Ur Neo-liberalism.

        1. ambrit

          Not Reed!
          I’m not suggesting that Reed is a hasbaraist.
          Some of the ‘comments’ here sound borderline hasbara. (I use the term in it’s generic sense. No religio-cultural connotations. Purely ideologically driven.)
          [Remember when the late gentleman from Chicago suggested that I was a Troll?]

      1. ambrit

        I too consider that statement somewhat of a stretch. As I suggest above, money need not change hands for individual actors to comment anywhere, said comments hewing to a coherent ideology. That is precisely where “True Believers” show their worth. Religious zealots are a perfect example.
        Money can be deployed back a level from the actual comments. By this I mean that an organization can be established, encouraged and paid for by ideologically driven actors with funds to deploy, that acts as an organizing entity which shepherds the zealots, but need not actually pay them.
        So, I look for constant nay-sayers and users of destructive snark. Those are the ‘shock troops’ of the Information Brigades. After the initial seeds of doubt have been sown, a second wave of “kinder, gentler influencers” deploys to nurture the doubts thus engendered. No outright attacks here, but subtler appeals to various and sundry logical fallacies; disinformation, bogus authorities, and character assassinations of opposition “thought leaders” do their pernicious work.
        Well, that’s this jaded cynic’s thoughts on the matter.
        The ‘silver lining’ to this is that it demonstrates that NC is now viewed by “certain power centres” as a viable threat to their machinations.
        Get that “exit strategy” worked out! Fredriickton will still be a bastion of civilization after we here go down to the Darkness of Lost Empire.

  25. John Beech

    “Re-Appraising “The West Wing” . . . good grief, what a load of horse pucky! It’s a nice program with nice characters all doing their best. A slice of American government cleaned up for the masses. It’s entertainment folks, a television program!!!!! Jeez, the stupidity of people who make a mountain out of a molehill. Just sit back and watch some mindless good television for crying out loud!

    1. edmondo

      I believe that the series had a plotline about a former rival for the nomination who was selected as Bartlett’s vice president. The Veep seemed to have some ethical problems and only made it halfway through the first term before going over the side. Maybe art imitating life ?

    2. Donald

      I enjoyed the show— I got the complete series as a birthday gift years ago—, but many liberals took it as some sort of model and its politics were awful. You can find a TV show entertaining while recognizing that if people take it as a model they are making a big mistake.

  26. fresno dan


    Beginning on September 1, tapes were released of conversations between former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and top CNN figures, including Chris Cuomo and president Jeff Zucker. The conversations between Zucker and Cohen especially go a long way toward explaining how Donald Trump became president. We see clearly how Zucker, famed now as a supposed stalwart force of anti-Trumpism, actually encouraged him during the 2016 campaign, to the point where he offered Trump help on how to succeed in a CNN-sponsored debate.
    The public legend about Zucker, furthered by Donald Trump himself and buttressed by reports in conservative media like Project Veritas, is that he despises Trump. We’ve heard reports in recent years of Zucker ordering staff to be “fully committed” to Trump’s impeachment, for instance.

    What these new tapes make plain is that this is likely neither a personal nor political issue with Zucker, who had a relationship with Trump dating back years. Zucker, after all, had made Trump a media star back when he was running NBC. He’d green-lit The Apprentice, which a pair of Washington Post writers would later describe as a “virtually nonstop advertisement for the Trump empire and lifestyle.”
    As the creator of The Apprentice, Zucker surely understands both the nature of Trump’s ratings appeal, and the Reality TV value of having CNN reporters play gesticulating heckler to Trump’s Bill Hicks act:
    When Zucker tells Cohen he’d love to talk to Trump “every day” but can’t, because “I just can’t have that,” he’s explaining exactly what the coverage “change” was about. Going more negative while increasing the raw amount of attention — “copious coverage and aggressive coverage” — allowed networks to retain or even increase the monster ratings Trump offered, without earning the social opprobrium that came with giving him softball coverage.

    1. Carolinian

      Thanks for the link! This is the best Taibbi/Substack yet (even if Tucker Carlson seems to have broken the story). You have to wonder whether the NYT, Maddow, even the Dem poobahs really want Biden to win given that Trump is their star attraction. It’s said that Maddow got her tips for being on TV from Roger Ailes and one has always suspected that cable TDS is all a big game being played for our non amusement. Of course the Clintons were also big buddies with Trump although they may not have called him “boss” the way Zucker does on the tapes. One big happy upper class party and we were never invited….

      1. fresno dan

        September 11, 2020 at 8:26 pm

        Undoubtedly, all this cynicism I have is shortening my life, but I equate our troubles to Three factors:
        1. love of money
        2. doing, saying, or believing anything to get money BECAUSE YOU LOVE MONEY
        3. see #1
        I don’t think most people would do anything for money, but the people who run the media WOULD.
        And the people who “represent” us wouldn’t be representing us if they didn’t have a constant stream of money….It may not be all coming from the same people who want the same things, OTHER THAN THE FACT THAT ALL OF THEM WANT MORE MONEY

        1. The Rev Kev

          fresno dan
          September 11, 2020 at 11:00 pm

          Maybe more complicated than just money. Often it is a matter of the power that money can buy you. Look at Jeff Bezos who is supposed to be worth $200 billion. There is no way in the world that he can ever spend all that money at age 56. So why does he do it? For the thrill of “winning”? Being able to bend people and institutions to his will? He will nickle and dime his workers into poverty and have the country pick up as much as possible of the tab for running Amazon but is content as he is. Yes he can afford a fair wage and conditions to his workers but you know that he will never do it. As said in the book “1984” the way that you express having power over another is by making them suffer. If you want to scale it down to a more local level, it is like the boss in a factory that will force his female workers into sleeping with him if they want to keep their jobs. But that is what our economic system encourages.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Going more negative while increasing the raw amount of attention — “copious coverage and aggressive coverage” — allowed networks to retain or even increase the monster ratings Trump offered, without earning the social opprobrium that came with giving him softball coverage.

      These are Heroes Of The Resistance™ you’re talking about!

  27. Person

    New from Tanner Greer and somewhat related to Biden on defense: https://scholars-stage.blogspot.com/2020/09/why-i-fear-for-taiwan.html

    The issues affecting Taiwan echo the rot infecting our own armed forces. Strategically effective defense must be efficient, and therefore it lacks a strong profit motive. For the US this primarily means that an enormous quantity of our tax dollars get wasted while we slowly decline, but for Taiwan it poses a more immediate and existential threat. Yet even then Taiwanese leadership cannot solve the issue due to deep systemic issues and a problem of incentives.

  28. The Rev Kev

    Just had a thought yesterday on how the 9/11 attack on New York could have been much worse. Imagine if those manics had decided to bring down only one tower and leave the other untouched. Since 9/11 the One World Trade Center aka the ‘Freedom’ tower has been built in those two towers place. But if the terrorist had left one standing, it would have remained a permanent reminder of what had been lost. Any new building created on that lost tower’s place would just be forever compared to the remaining surviving tower. Instead of being able to build back anew, you would have that surviving tower keeping people in the past. And let’s not forget about survivor’s guilt for those in the surviving tower.

  29. Pat

    Others have already confirmed that Krugman lives in a fantasy world none of us here inhabit. A world where single payer public healthcare isn’t for America, and everything bad is really Donald Trumps fault.
    I just have a hard time not attributing this to willful ignorance. There were wild reports of Muslims dancing in NJ watching the towers fall. Multiple Sikh taxi drivers were attacked. I remember reports of vandalized businesses. Hell years later there was an uproar about a Muslim group prepared to ope a community center blocks from “Ground Zero”.

    For me nothing was more telling of how batshit people went than was to go home to the southwest months after in the run up to the Iraq war to be told how we had to fight them over there to avoid being killed in our beds. About the fifth time I lost it. Pointed out how close I lived versus them a mile to thousands of miles away, that NYC had been a target for decades and hit prior, and rather than their wussy asses we didn’t knew attacking people who hadn’t attacked us didn’t make us safer, it made us less safe. And explained we were being lied to regarding Iraq. It took over half a decade for people who were there to tell me that they should have listened to me, rather than the President and Powell.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > For me nothing was more telling of how batshit people went than was to go home to the southwest months after in the run up to the Iraq war to be told how we had to fight them over there to avoid being killed in our beds. About the fifth time I lost it.

      “Overall, Americans took 9/11 pretty calmly” is such a massive distortion of history that I can hardly process it. No doubt, our legendary calmness is why we destroyed the Fourth Amendment with Bush’s program of warrantless surveillance (which Obama voted to retroactively legalize), torture (Obama looked forward and not back), assassination (Obama’s “disposition matrix), and who can forget the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then of course there was all the flag-waving militarism, Bush’s 80% approval rating as a “leader,” and then the marches against the war (ignored, of course). Here’s Harris working the same schtick:

      “Our most radiant and defined human instincts”? Has Harris lost her mind, too? How is this not Kool-Aid? It’s like bringing liberal Democrats into close proximity with Bush Republicans has yielded some horrid, gaseous, suffocating, ever-expanding alchemical reaction, a spattering excremental froth impossible to push left, or indeed to breathe in, unless one possesses gills specially adapted to that purpose…

      I’m so old I remember when liberals dubbed themselves “the reality-based community.” But that was a long time ago. How can I possibly vote for this?*

      Why are they doing this? To appeal to suburban Republicans? To prepare us for the next war? (Also worth noting that many in the political class look back fondly on the post-9/11 days for the sense of national “unity” the attacks produced. It may be that liberal Democrats hope to provoke that sense of unity again, this time leveraging it to their advantage. Putting the nation on a wartime footing against Covid might do that, at least in their minds.)

      NOTE * I posted a tweet awhile back from a national political reporter who said this was how voters thought (paraphrasing) “Apples > 42 > “have a beer with” > $1000,” meaning that the stupid voters were comparing incommensurables, which is what one does in the absence of a theory that reveals the common factors behind the incommensurable (and as QAnon shows, a mere theory isn’t necessarily a good thing to have). So voters compare incommensurables all the time. In this case, or my case, the incommensurables that the election seems to be turning on are Trump as a horrid person and the Obama Alumni Association, the intelligence community, and the Krugmans of this world as a faction of the political class.

      1. Quentin

        Yes, Lambert, this is all leading up to the war operations to finish the war which is in shambles and urgently needs to be won to show ‘them’ who is really ‘radiant and humane’ in this world, as can only be achieved by continuing any current war and preferably starting one or more others.

        ‘Radiant’ like the Liberty Lady that introduces/ -ed? Columbia Pictures movies. That’s Harris’s humanity as opposed to MGM’s growling. I have a prejudice against everything Californian and she’s the epitome of that mindset which has overrun the whole world. ‘California here we come!’

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          “Radiant.” Slay, Queen!

          I should have mentioned that one isn’t really voting for Biden, an empty vessel if ever there was one (although he is arrogant enough to think otherwise). And one is not only voting for an Obot Restoration. One is also voting for Kamala Harris, Biden’s heir apparent and therefore the front-runner for 2024 (and possibly 2028).

          So when Harris puts the Iraq War under the heading of our most “radiant and defined human instincts,” that really gives me pause. Presumably the next war — by which I mean ground troops/naval warfare, not drones and mercs — won’t be in the Middle East; that’s for losers. Africa and Latin America beckon, but can one really get a war of a decent size going there? For high enough stakes? That leaves Russian’s near aboard (Ukraine; Belarus) and Taiwan, both of which touch on the vital interests of nuclear powers. Fortunately, The Great Assimilation™ has yielded the Democrats a bountiful harvest of Bush administration experts in that sort of thing. So it’s all good.

        1. Noone from Nowheresville

          So on one side we have In the Flesh and on the other side The Trial. Hey, You! I guess we’ll have to Run Like Hell as we get Welcome(d) to the Machine.

          At least they have that Dune look going for them.

      2. ProNewerDeal

        ““Overall, Americans took 9/11 pretty calmly” is such a massive distortion of history that I can hardly process it.”

        Fully agreed, Lambert & Pat.

        The UNDERREACTION, lack of seriousness & effort, to the COVID pandemic by the Elite politicians, Oligarchs, & many 99%ers to 192Kdeaths & counting, is a clear contrast to the OVERREACTION of the 3Kdeaths on 2001-09-11, which I can vividly recall even 19 years later.

        It seems Krugman is either a mendacious Establishment D propagandist, or has horrible memory perhaps afflicted by a disease lik early onset Alzheimer’s.

      3. Efmo

        And didn’t the FBI (or whoever it was) round up a ton of American Moslem “suspects” with no rhyme or reason other than the fact they were Moslems and men? And held for questioning indefinitely until they started getting more pushback for it?

  30. Andrew Thomas

    The Onion piece about Cheney’s treating 9/11 like Christmas is a 12 year old satire. Wasn’t sure from the “Oh.” that was Lambert’s reaction that it was clear enough. Hard to tell today…

  31. juliania

    Sorry I’m late coming on here, but I’d like to put in a plea for those who enjoyed the ‘West Wing’ series, if Lambert might pick up on this. Many of us were favorably disposed having seen in much earlier days that Martin Sheen as a younger actor portrayed the only US soldier executed for failing to perform his duty under fire, (or even for going AWOL – I don’t remember the details). So, closer to the Vietnam period, he was a hero of all of us who were against that debacle. That I am sure influenced the interest in “The West Wing” that arose with him the prime character. Though there was something about it that I didn’t follow it constantly, and it might have been that the only episode I can remember now that kind of turned me off was one in which one of the lesser characters was being derided by the others for getting involved in conversations and arguments online, so much so that it was driving him up the wall, so he quit doing that. It was humorously done, but I wonder now if that wasn’t one of the danger points for the show instigators to attack – that they could see online communications by individual citizens as the potential avenue for dissemination of ideas which it ultimately became.

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