Links 9/5/2020

Dear patient readers,

Please recall that our comments major domo Jules is on holiday today and tomorrow, and so yours truly will be moderating comments. But yours truly seldom faces the day before mid-PM, so please cut us some slack if your contribution gets snagged by our moderation tripwires.

Cosmic signal rattles Earth after 7 billion years BBC (Chuck L)

These students figured out their tests were graded by AI — and the easy way to cheat The Verge (David L)

Unique study of man who sees ‘melting’ faces sheds light on the brain’s visual system PsyPost

Scientists develop new compound which kills both types of antibiotic resistant superbugs


The Afghan herbalist who claims to have a ‘cure’ for COVID-19 Al Jazeera. Resilc: “Will he make it to Fox News and the White House next?”

The Fractured World of Tennis Amid a Prolonged Pandemic New Yorker


Covid-19 Vaccine Developers Prepare Joint Pledge on Safety, Standards Wall Street Journal

PSU football doctor clarifies comments on percentage of COVID-positive athletes with myocarditis CenterDaily (resilc). 35% reduced to 15%. Still a bad number for young men presumably at peak health.

Note very small sample size:



11 freshmen at Northeastern were dismissed for violating COVID-19 rules. Their $35,000 tuition won’t be reimbursed. Business Insider (Kevin W)

How an intimate wedding in rural Maine led to the state’s largest COVID-19 outbreak Boston Globe (David L)

South Dakota goes ahead with state fair even after Sturgis rally fueled COVID-19 surge USA Today


The End of Oil Is Near Sierra Club

The commuters are revolting UnHerd (resilc)

The Post-COVID ‘Great Reset’ Won’t Be Fueled By Renewables OilPrice (resilc)


Mulan opens in Thailand amid calls for boycott Thai Enquirer (furzy)

FCC Estimates It’ll Cost $1.8 Billion To Remove Huawei, ZTE Equipment From US Networks CNET

A UN Tax Convention – then a U-turn Tax Justice Network (Dan K)

Cum-Ex: Der Bankier und seine Freunde in der Politik Zeit Online. I can’t access the piece using Google Translate but my German-reading contacts tell me this is serious: “Scholz in big trouble it seems to me.”


Back to school Chris Grey (guurst)

Old Blighty

Extinction Rebellion blockade Murdoch’s newspaper print sites Guardian

Coronavirus: Civil servants ‘must get back to offices quickly’ BBC (Kevin W)

New Cold War

RUSSIAGATE: NYT, FB & FBI Say Anti-Trump Site, Now Shutdown, Was Russian Effort to Help Trump Win ConsortiumNews (UserFriendly)

Senate‘s Trump-Russia Report Shows What Mueller Missed Intercept. Help me. I must confess not to have read the whole report, but I did read the entire part about Trump’s visit and dalliance in 1996. First, he was then married to Wife #2, Marla Maples, with whom he had a rock solid and not very generous prenup. Second, more generally, Trump has long had a thing for swimsuit models and partying, so the idea that he’d had a fling overseas wouldn’t give anyone leverage over him, even before getting to what America and the rest of the world has come to recognize as part of his brand: shamelessness. Third, and it was in the report, Trump dragged a woman with him to all his 1996 meetings in Moscow, and she clearly was at best arm candy, which the locals saw as bizarre. In other words, he was not just not hiding that he was carrying on with Russian “models,” he was broadcasting it. And fourth…this was 1996. Maples and Trump separated in May 1997 and had divorced by 1999. What miniscule “kompromat” value there was ended when their marriage was over. And as for Manafort, he was Trump’s campaign manager for all of four months, the last six to eight weeks of which Manafort was getting the Jeff Sessions treatment. The idea that Manafort had meaningful influence over Trump is questionable.

Beirut Burning AltaMar (Paul R)

Trump Transition

Trump tweets can have explosive impacts on corporate brand images, study finds PsyPost

Trump administration reportedly orders military newspaper Stars and Stripes to shut down The Week (Dr. Kevin). But then: Trump says he won’t cut funding for Stars and Stripes The Hill


How unpopular is Donald Trump? FiveThirtyEight (resilce)

Furor grows over Trump’s reported remarks on war dead The Hill

Biden passionately rebukes Trump, says his son Beau ‘wasn’t a sucker’ for serving in Iraq The Week

Reporters blasted for ‘shamefully embarrassing’ softball questions at rare Biden press conference Fox. Kevin W: “I know that it is Fox, but still…”

A third of Republicans believe QAnon theory of deep state paedophile cannibals is ‘mostly true’, poll finds Independent

More People With Felony Convictions Can Vote, but Roadblocks Remain Pew (UserFriendly)

One Family Has Delivered the Mail by Boat for 115 Years. Is This the Last? New York Times (David L)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Roaming Charges: Sometimes They Choke Counterpunch (Heresy101)

America Divided

John Pierce, The Lawyer Raising Money for Kenosha Shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, Was Sued For Unpaid Debts Daily Beast (resilc)

Our Famously Free Press

Facebook’s Political Ad Ban Also Threatens Ability to Spread Accurate Information on How to Vote< ProPublica

Facebook, The PR Firm Ranjan Roy and Can Duruk

SoftBank’s Bet on Tech Giants Fueled Powerful Market Rally Wall Street Journal. Charming.

Bill Barr Comes For Google Heisenberg Report

Pentagon Says It Will Stick With Microsoft For $10 Billion JEDI Cloud Contract CNBC

Amazon Deletes 20,000 Reviews After Evidence of Profits for Posts Financial Times. Only 20,000? Who are they kidding?

Robinhood Facing Multiple SEC Investigations Into Its Business Practices Forbes


CalPERS may force next CIO to unload personal holdings LA Times (Kevin W)

Retiree group calls on CalPERS board president to resign Sacramento Bee. From one insider:

You saw Tim Behrens of CSR on the attack with Marcie Frost. Today the State Worker publishes lengthy exerpts from the RPEA letter and makes Henry’s response look petty. When you’ve lost the Bee…

Guillotine Watch

You can now experience Burning Man while surrounded by all the comforts of home—just like rich people used to do on the Playa, pre-Covid. Wired

Class Warfare

Higher-class individuals are worse at reading emotions and assuming the perspectives of others, study finds PsyPost

Workers Keeping Americans Fed Are Going Hungry in the Heartland Bloomberg (BC)

I Study Corporate Welfare. Even I Was Shocked by This Cronyism. New York Times (resilc)

Robot Chicken Butchers, Brought to You by COVID-19 Pew (UserFriendly)

Stocks Are Up. Wages Are Down. What Does it Mean? – Economics from the Top Down

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “A Monarch butterfly on a Lantana flower, seen during a stroll with my husband along the waterfront of Alamitos Bay in Long Beach, California.”

And a bonus from guurst:

And a second from Kevin W:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Toshiro_Mifune

    Tests graded by AI;
    Well, at the very least it teaches kids “valuable” lessons about gaming a system which I’m sure could be useful.
    It, of course, also reminds me of XKCD’s Bobby Tables;

    1. Jesper

      Sometimes IT changes how things are being done and other times it just does the same but faster…. In this case then I’d hazard a guess that the IT didn’t change how things were being done, it just made it faster. Teachers have been under pressure for a long time, the more questions they needed to grade the faster they have to be to grade so I’ve seen cases from 30 years ago were keywords without context were rewarded. Class-sizes have since then increased which led to increased pressure on teachers so I am not surprised about what was revealed.

      Teachers might also suffer under being evaluated under a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) which might be about the number of students getting passing grades and/or getting high grades. If they are measured against that KPI then there might be teachers who’d be happy to choose not to see that kids are gaming the grading system….

      & I agree, the kids who learned to game the AI for grades did actually learn a valuable life-skill…. Unless the job-market changes they’ll need to find ways to game the AI that is keeping them from interviews and jobs.

    2. farragut

      Good point. These skills should come in handy in the near future when they game the AI-controlled Social Worthiness, Economic Mobility, & Family Size scores.

      I’m kidding… I hope.

    3. Jos Oskam

      Grading an answer by checking for keywords. I could have written some code for that with my eyes closed while having coffee. This is not Artificial Intelligence but Genuine Stupidity.
      It looks more like a piece of garbage software that has done through the marketing machine to come out on the other end as a “revolutionary AI based grading system”. In the next release they’ll probably add “self learning”, “auto-optimizing” and “blockchain” to the text. And of course lots of nontechnical purchase managers are going to fall for it.

      On the other hand, this might just be the right stuff for another hi-tech IPO that is going to bring in billions of dollars from investors on keywords alone. It wouldn’t be the first.

      The world we live in.

  2. Amfortas the hippie

    Gail Tverberg is the quintessential Doomer, and it’s hard to argue with her logic.
    just another in a log line of datapoints that has made me cynical, at best…and pessimistic, at worst…about the medium term survival of this thing we call civilisation.
    hence, Autarky is what i shoot for, because it’s at least within my limited means. But man, it’s a lot of work,lol.
    …and speaking of Autarky, Lebanon is having an agricultural “jihad”…after rather suddenly finding themselves no longer able to import 80% of their food.

    In Doomer circles, it’s almost a trope that the Beginner Doomer is likely to entertain fantasies of Rugged Individualism with Galtian Features….and that the more libertarian minded tend to stay in that place, focusing on stockpiles of beans, bullets and bandaids to “ride out” the coming darkness.
    The more mature Doomers, on the other hand, recognise that “it takes a village”.
    The easy prevalence of the former…”I am an Island”…is testament to the success of the Mindf^ck that has enabled the continuation of the neoliberal order well past the point where “we” should have, if not overthrown it, at least ceased to support it.
    withdraw your consent, and get to building your village.
    there’s a hard row to hoe in front of us.

    1. Krystyn Podgajski

      I am an Autarkic searching for an Autarkracy, but until then I am mostly self sufficient by necessity.

      Most people living in the current neolibeal paradise think of themselves as rugged individualists, so I share your lamentations about the long road ahead.

      1. Lee

        They neither spin nor do they weave yet they wear clothes, knowing not from whence they came nor the means of their making. As our neighborhood has become techy-fied, and I get to know some of them, I am amazed at their helplessness when it comes to basic manual skills.

        1. furies

          I know how to spin *and* weave…and it seems the powers that be want me to die already.

          There’s tons like me…the trades/crafts are a disappearing.

          1. Phil

            They’ve been disappearing for centuries. Human beings can’t survive without cooked food, but how many people know how to make fire without matches or some even more complex device?

            1. BobW

              How many know how to farm, or to hunt and gather, or how to safely clean and dress meat, or how… you get the idea. I certainly don’t. My father knew much of that, having grown up in the Ozarks in the teens. But those were not skills that needed to be passed down in the 50s and 60s.

        2. HotFlash

          Totally! I fixed a bicycle for my neighbour family, the bike still had the baby seat on it (child being 11 by now). “Oh, no, you’ve done enough!” they told me, “We’ll take the baby seat off.” Then he looks at she. “Honey, do we have a screwdriver?”

      1. David

        There was no country called Syria then. The whole area had been part of the Ottoman Empire (most of the problems of the region go back to that era) and was divided after the end of WW1 into League of Nations mandates. Under the Treaty of Sèvres Armenia became independent, France got the Ottoman territories roughly corresponding to modern Syria and Lebanon, which it then divided into four governments, the UK got Iraq and Palestine. Sèvres did for the Ottoman Empire roughly what Versailles did for the Habsburgs, and with some of the same results. The best book I know on the subject is David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace.

        1. Duck1

          The vilayet of Syria was established during an administrative organization of the Ottoman empire in 1865, more or less a province of the empire. The Beirut vilayet was established from the Syrian in 1888 due to the large amount of trade handled by the port. Sykes Picot was a secret agreement made in 1916 that determined the breakup of the empire following a victorious war. Many of the state lines followed the vilayet boundaries.

        2. Olga

          Fromkin’s book is indeed very good (and very detailed, though he is a bit mushy on Israel), but it begins with the first decade of the 20th cent.
          The history of the area, which we today call Syria (actually, in the past it was much larger) is complex and fascinating, and cannot be reduced to a statement that there “was no country called Syria.”
          Much depends on how one defines “country” – a state (as we have them today), a culture, a national ethos, demographics/ethnic make-up…
          There is some confusion here about what is – or was – the Greater Syria (and pls note that names we use today have been hellenised, which may add to the confusion):
          This is a one resource:
          “In antiquity, the Levant or Greater Syria, which includes modern Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestinian territories, part of Jordan, and Kurdistan, was named Syria by the Greeks. At the time, it was a landbridge connecting three continents. It was bounded by the Mediterranean on the west, the Arabian Desert on the south, and the Taurus mountain range to the north. The Syrian Ministry of Tourism adds that it was also at the crossroads of the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Nile. In this vital position, it was the hub of a trade network involving the ancient areas of Syria, Anatolia (Turkey), Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Aegean.”
          There is more at the link…
          “By 1517, Bayezid’s son, Selim I, brought Syria, Arabia, Palestine, and Egypt under Ottoman control.” Some sources say 1516 (
          Yes, under the Ottomans, Syria as a political entity “or country” was subsumed under the sultan’s rule, but the culture and a sense of the Syrian identity remained.

          This is important to understand because the survival of this identity/culture is what has enabled Syrians to push back against the current western aggression. Syria, even today, is quite unique among the Arab countries.
          Syria is an ancient “identity,” including Damascus:
          “Called the oldest continually occupied city in the word and is the capital of Syria. Pharaoh Thutmosis III and later the Assyrian Tiglath Pileser II conquered Damascus. Rome under Pompey acquired Syria, including Damascus.”
          In trying to understand Syria, it is not enough to focus just on the 20th cent.

          1. ex-PFC Chuck

            I second your motion, Olga. Until I read Fromkin’s book I didn’t know Lloyd-George’s support for Zionism was driven by his Christian dominionism.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        Useful as a rule of thumb.
        but subject to numerous variables.
        wife, due to being married to hermit me,is rather isolated, but still maintains a large cohort of people she interacts with daily…maybe 200 or so.
        but even before the pandemic, this interaction was at least partially limited to phone and internet.
        her mother, oth, has contacts throughout the local society…and extending more or less into the 4 neighboring counties. MIL gets around…actively spends her time, at work and off work, driving around talking to people.(her job at school is “Liason”/”truant officer”…due to her habits.
        collectively, we “know” petty much everybody within 50 miles…excepting folks that have migrated here in the last 10-20 years.
        wife is also related, in the broadest sense, to maybe half the county.
        my hermithood has greatly influenced how many people she personally interacts with…as has our living 10 miles out, + a mile of dirt road.
        but…the usual caveats apply: this is an isolated community…has been for 150 years. the core of the population is descended from a handful of pioneer families, and it’s all rather clannish and tribal.
        there’s people who don’t talk to the descendants of their great great uncle because of the Hoodoo War, 140 years ago.
        it’s weird.
        there’s probably a limit, but i’ll be derned if i know what it is…150 seems pretty low, given my experiences out here, with these people.

        1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          My interactions as an outsider are very limited aside from brief encounters with shop workers etc, the people who I am intimate with would be 1 on regular basis & roughly 2 others monthly which are both connected to work. An itinerant childhood is I believe the cause & I am fine on my own but have a couple of those friends who are available to pick up with as if no time has passed at all, who given the time & a couple of hundred miles drive there & back would be there in times of need – something that is good to have in reserve.

          I have however made 2 new friends who are my new occasional neighbours as their place is used to escape London. He is an ex MP who served in Blair’s government & is a really nice fella who has no time for his one time leader. His wife is from a Jewish background who has bought into the Corbyn anti-semitism malarky, but is a lovely lady.

          I have only been around once for a meal & drinks as I have had to spend most of my time moving house & looking after my little gypsy as she went cold turkey off the drink complete with terrible withdrawal symptoms. She has succeeded though after a 5 month hard lesson but unfortunately has been left with neuropathy in her feet & hands.

          Perhaps I shouldn’t comment on community as I have never really ever belonged to one. One thing in relation to chimps that stuck in my head was through Jane Goodall’s experience of how many of them became greedy aggressive hoarders when supplied with too many bananas, followed by how the group got too large to be sustainable in food resources, so they split into 2 & soon afterwards started a war in which they literally tore each other apart.

  3. Jennifer in Cleveland

    I believe the butterfly picture has Asclepias curassavica (Mexican butterfly weed) — not Lantana. I planted some in my yard this year which is why I recognize it.

    Later I learned that it might not be a good idea to plant it outside its native area, because it can confuse the Monarchs about how far they’ve travelled. This 2017 article from the Dallas Morning News explains.

    I’m thinking though since I’m on the north coast of Ohio, the Monarchs have passed through early enough that they won’t get confused. Maybe I’ll try to eradicate it next year nevertheless.

    1. Darius

      Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa, looks almost the same, but is native. It also is a hardy perennial. I advise you plant that. Why listen to me? I wear an aluminum foil hat, not tin foil.

    2. Philip Martin

      Interesting and important link for gardeners who want to provide habitat for butterflies. I found this very same species a few months ago at a local nursery and put it in with my native 2-year-old milkweeds which haven’t had any flowers. I love the flowers, but want to do right, so I will cut the pant down tomorrow. As I expand the butterfly garden I will be more careful to chose native plants. Also I will share this info with the buyer at the nursery and see if they can’t find a source for native milkweeds. I do enjoy having butterflies and bees and hummingbirds floating around my backyard!

  4. FreeMarketApologist

    …man who sees ‘melting’ faces…

    The science of the article is above my pay grade, but it’s explained well. I’m reminded of the early work of the abstract painter Clyfford Still: Here was somebody who drew and painted in a completely realistic style through the 1920s and into the 1930s. Something changed around 1934 — in his paintings he started elongating faces, principally stretching the distance from the nose to the chin, with the faces ultimately becoming very blurred liquid forms. See, for example, PH-76, from 1935:

    If you look at the online collection, and filter for ‘only show works on view’, you can imagine the evolution from the melting faces to the enormous abstractions for which he is best known.

    Might he have had a version of hemi-prosopometamorphopsia? Or just an interesting coincidence.

    (I highly recommend a trip to Denver to see the museum. Beautiful building, superb presentation of his history and many beautiful paintings.)

    1. urblintz

      If I’m not mistaken, El Greco’s elongated bodies and faces have been attributed to some ocular malfunction.

  5. Samuel Conner

    I think that the plant the Monarch is nectaring on is a milkweed, perhaps “Tropical Milkweed”, some varieties of which have the two-color pattern of “upper” and “lower” blossom structure.

        1. Marcus from Minnesota

          I was amazed to find that lupine is also an invasive exotic in Western Australia. So many plants from all over the world were transported there that I’ve read (George Sutton) that looking out at any Oz landscape you can be pretty sure that 25% of the vegetation is from elsewhere.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      As a side note, some anecdotal good news – I have seen multiple monarch butterflies in my neighborhood on a daily basis for the last couple weeks at least.

      In the last 3-4 years I have seen a few here and there in the late summer after seeing none for years, and now this year even more.

      At the same time we have been reading articles here at NC about the declining habitat, murders of butterfly protectors to pave the way for more development of butterfly habitat, etc.

      The very small remaining non-cynical part of me would like to think that since my own small observations point to monarchs doing better in recent years, perhaps the reports of their imminent demise have been greatly exaggerated and the monarchs have found a way to outsmart the humans ambivalent about their extinction. Maybe they have some new winter grounds no one has noticed yet?

      1. Janice Muller

        Monarch activists are everywhere these days, but the fight is hard. In San Diego County where I live, there are more than a thousand members of an on-line group sharing tips on raising them from eggs on a limited basis. Forced by the pandemic into early retirement, I am able to put time into their care. And, indeed, that is Tropical Milkweed, beautiful plant but readily eaten up by hungry caterpillars!

      2. EMtz

        About those murders of naturalists protecting butterfly reserves here in México. These biospheres are impossible to monitor well in this poor country so the cartels take advantage by stealthily clearing land to plant avocados. Very lucrative given demand in the US. Any naturalist who imperils cartel profits puts himself in the crosshairs.

    2. MJ

      Here in the Hudson Valley, I haven’t seen a single monarch butterfly this summer. And I have a nice stand of milkweed that seems to be untouched.


      1. Chas

        Same with me in central Vermont. One day last August I took a stroll through a small milk weedy pasture and counted 24 monarchs. This summer I’ve only seen three anywhere.

    3. HotFlash

      I have milkweed in my front yard, as do many of my neighbours. It’s a bit of a crusade around here (Toronto), but I only see one or *maybe* two monarchs at a time, a few caterpillars last year (disappeared, got et?), no caterpillars and zero chrysalises this year. I am very close to Lake Ontario, 35 – 40 years ago they would cluster on the trees just south of me to group for the trip across the water on their way to Mexico. No one here has seen that in over 3 decades.

      Beam me up, Scotty.

      1. Phacops

        Point Peelee. I’ve seen the Monarchs congregating there, but that was in the late 60s. There in the spring was a great smelt run. We kids would do homework in the back of a station wagon while the adults were dipping smelt.

    4. Phil in KC

      Looks exactly like the milkweed I planted this year in my garden, down to the yellow and red flower parts.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Furor grows over Trump’s reported remarks on war dead”

    Made plain from past comments that Trump is not fit to run for dog-catcher much less be the President. His combativeness, his hustling, his famous lack of curiosity are all well known quantities. But I am calling bs on this story. No, make that total bs. So this story from two years in the past comes floating to the surface like an unflushable turd to make him look bad some 58 days out from the election and drive a wedge between him and troops for who he is apparently popular. Even Bolton – Bolton! – of all people is calling bs on this stunt. Wanna know how I know that it was all set up? Because it only took hours for Biden’s campaign to come out with ads featuring this story. Not days. Hours. As if they knew what was going to happen and had everything ready to go. And I remember that trip in 2018 in the news. He couldn’t go to the cemetery as the weather had socked in his chopper. I seriously hope that Trump takes off the gloves over this one. Better go for a popcorn run then.

    1. Clive

      Like way, way too much of what passes for politics now this and much else like it is all just endless rehashing of “I saw Goody Trump talking to the Devil” type stories and their many variants.

      Not even sure what the strategy is supposed to be behind it all. Never Trump’ers will remain, well, probably disinclined to vote Trump. The MAGA crowd will think it’s just all confirmation of what they “know” about media hostility. Trump, himself, doesn’t give a stuff and is happy for the free publicity.

      1. timbers

        Someone years ago used a term I loved about Hillary and her Seinfeld Campaign – about nothing.

        That’s become so standard now. The whole point is to fill these 58 days or so with stuff about nothing, so as not to offend the donors. Winning/losing the election is secondary. Goal number one is keep it about nothing that matters to the people especially if it means hurting the rich donors.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Actually Hillary’s campaign was pitched as women living vicariously through Hillary. Ultimately, it’s meaningless, and the appeal to people who grew up under Title IX led to little enthusiasm. I think Team Blue elites haven’t grappled with realities of wealth inequality and could never grasp 2016 wasn’t exactly a golden age which is why they could march into oblivion so willingly. Hillary did have a theme. It wain’t fit for the time and targeted to people who were probably going to vote for HRC and selfish, but she had one. “I’m with her” “She’s ready” “Hillary is your abuela” The slogans were reflected this too.

          With Biden’s embrace of Rick Snyder, he’s running a campaign targeted at Republicans who are ordinarily upset Trump doesn’t do pomp and circumstances.

          Trump’s theme like most Republicans is running on the theme to antagonize liberals and get “centrists” to move right.

          1. timbers

            I agree…but generally social identity issues like Hillary’s in the nothing/Seinfeld category as they serve the purpose of avoiding issues donors care about!

              1. pjay

                I wonder what’s going through Bill’s mind in this clip? Maybe he’s just trying to keep from dozing off.

              2. Olga

                This is sooo funny! Billy-boy’s expression (or lack thereof) is priceless! (As if Hill sucked all the oxygen out of the room.)

        2. Off The Street

          Only 25 more days until October Surprise Season kicks off, so there is that. With slick Hollywood production marketing we should see the previews any time now.

        3. Katniss Everdeen

          I think it’s more like the “Frank Noland Campaign.” Frank was a “loud, hard-hitting host of TV call-in talk show” played by Buck Henry on the first season of SNL–back when it was funny–who gets desperate when nobody calls in. Gilda Radner played his wife. Dan Ackroyd was the announcer. From the show transcript:

          Announcer: Talk Back! Frank Noland talks to you, the public! You, the public, talk to Frank Noland! He listens! Talk back to Frank Noland and he’ll talk back to you!

          [pause, Frank puts an unlit cigarette in his mouth, thinks for a moment, then leans forward intently]

          How ’bout this? “Killing Puppies — It Doesn’t Bother Me” … That’s me, Frank Noland, and I LIKE dead puppies! Frankly,I’m totally in favor of using federally supported municipal bonds to pay for forced busing of Soviet Communists to come into your homes to kill your puppies! Give me a call, won’t you? The lines are open. Tell ME what you think about it. [lights his cigarette, mumbles to himself] Dead, mangled puppies… I like ’em …
          [starting to lose it]

          Okay. While you’re thinking about THOSE topics, here are a half a dozen others which I, Frank Noland, am personally in favor of. “Adolf Hitler — Boy, Do We Need Him Now”!Huh? What about that? Hey, “Incest — I Practice It,Why Don’t You?” Give me a call. Talk to me about it.[A sympathetic woman enters and joins Frank] “No Toilets for the Blind”? Call me! Call me, if you’re watching! And, and–

          Mrs. Noland: Frank? Frank, honey?

          In that same vein, biden also made this obviously-less-focused-on-by-the-“news”-media claim during his Kenosha “healing” visit:

          “People fear that which is different. We’ve got to, for example, why in God’s name don’t we teach history in history classes? A Black man invented the light bulb, not a White guy named Edison,” Biden said. “There’s so much — did anybody know before what recently happened that Black Wall Street in Oklahoma was burned to the ground. Anybody know these things? Because we don’t teach them. We’ve got to give people facts.”

          That’s some world-class Frank Noland there.

      2. JTMcPhee

        BS for a lot of reasons. It’s hearsay, not even reported honestly was to what Trump was supposed to have said.

        My personal take on WW I and other wars of empire, and “heroism,” is a little different. I take as my texts two books by Barbara Tuchman, “The Proud Tower” and “The Guns of August,” and Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler’s “War Is A Racket.” Plus my own volunteer “service to my country” in Vietnam, another imperial war, 1967-68. Trump is reputed to have asked if the Marines of Bellevue Wood knew what they died for. Tuchman convinces me that it was the great folly and greed of empires that brought on WW I, and its delayed extension, WW II. Soldiers in those wars, as in my own war, did not “die for their country.” A whole lot died for their buddies, in squads, companies and battalions, with a smattering of believers in the propaganda that they were “preserving freedom” and “protecting the homeland.” In a game set in motion by the creatures Butler describes so trenchantly in “War is a Racket:”

        WAR is a racket. It always has been.

        It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

        A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

        In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

        How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

        Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few — the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

        And what is this bill?

        This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

        Thanks to the realities of MMT, the cost of war, particularly the outyear costs of veteran’s care and of course the purchase of weapons, the corruption that’s endemic in the MIC, are foisted off onto the working people who are the engine of the real economy. Money to “pay for” all the stuff that gets lumped under the category “war,” just magically appears, up to the limits of extractable wealth from the planet. I got to see it in action in Vietnam, long before the end game when the Empire just walked away from the huge installations at Cam Ranh Bay and Tan Son Nhut and Danang and in Cambodia, all corporate boondoggles. Before the discarding of billions of dollars in military hardware and weapons, like dumping helicopters and planes into the ocean. Just like the Empire is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan and Syria and at those 600 or more “installations” around the planet.

        Why do people confuse the selfless things GIs do to preserve the lives of their band of brothers (while slaughtering people with darker skin tones in one invasion Of a sovereign nation after another) with some kind of presumed “love of country?” I enlisted in 1966 in a confused cloud of propaganda context from years as a Boy Scout and churchgoer (“On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country…). Packed down tight with long exposure to the myths of the Great Wars and the effects of the McCarthy era. I really had no idea what I actually went to war for. After a month or two “in country,” it became pretty clear that this was a fool’s errand I had been sent on, that profited only a very few, from the corporate contractors, to the Brass getting their unearned medals and Peter Principle Promotions, to the politicians riding the collective idiocy for their personal gain.

        So Trump, as Taibbi notes, is very often “relatably right” about a lot of things. Liberals and Never Trumpers are judging and shouting that Trump “must have” said “unpatriotic things,” using the argument that “this is the kind of thing he would say.” Citing his deprecations of John McCain, who before he became a Dead Hero of the Empire, was a self-serving and dishonest snake — The millions who died in the trenches of WW I, the beaches and hilltops of WW II, the frozen mountains of Korea and the humid paddies and jungles of Vietnam, likely had not a clue of the real reasons they were there to kill and die.

        But of course we dare not let on that he may (if the usual unnamed sources are to believed) have spoken, in his inartful way, in language that is so easily spun into moral censure and unsupported indictment and judgment, a home truth. Got to go with the zeitgeist and memes, right? Playing right into the manipulative dishonest hands of those people who run the Racket, and both get filthy rich and never have to suffer the least discomfiture for the sh!t they rain down on the rest of us. And so many of us are willing to take up the hue and cry, because we are so totally mesmerized by the flood of propaganda that blinds us.

        Strikes me that most of us do not have any clear idea of, or agreement on, what kind of political economy we would like to live in, and this have no chance of seeing what steps are necessary to bring a better set of conditions about. Other, of course, than “Trump Bad Traitor Must Go!”


    2. WhoaMolly

      I too call BS on the Trump “remarks on war dead” story. For all the reasons Rev Kev noted. (Even Bolton called BS.)

      My first thought was “this is military grade disinformation”.

      This has the feel of a meme (hoax?) that could tip the election. It doesn’t matter if it’s true. It’s so emotionally powerful that it will stick in people’s minds. Makes me wonder where it came from.

        1. Samuel Conner

          I have the same sense. The remarks attributed to DJT seem entirely “in character” for him. What transactional benefit to the individual is there in military service? The idea of “love of country or of countrymen” to the point of risking one’s own life is alien to him.

          The burden of Vietnam War casualties fell on those who could not avoid being drafted. The poor — “suckers” and “losers” in his view of the world.

          OTOH, it is hard to argue with the assessment that it was a “stupid” war. It’s a shame that the occasional true things he says get so drowned out by the outrageous things.

          1. edmondo

            No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making some other poor dumb bastard die for his country.

            George Patton.

            1. Samuel Conner

              I vividly remember that from decades ago. Of course, in DJT’s view, the “other bastard” is one of the poor of one’s own nation. Whatever the outcome of the international conflict, a clever operator can “win” by finding a way to profit in the midst of it.

              Milo Minderbinder comes to mind.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Why blame DJT for this attitude. Remember all those biological warfare experiments on American cities done in the past? Or how troops were used as guinea pigs during the atomic bomb blasts? And politicians from both sides of the aisle were quite happy to ship American industries overseas thus impoverishing their fellow Americans. I could go on for a page but the point is that this attitude long pre-dates DJT.

                Gawd – that is three times today that I have defended Trump. What is happening? I’m off to have some chocolate-covered cotton now.

                1. Arizona Slim

                  A friend of the family was one of those atomic Guinea pigs. Years later, he died a horrible death from cancer. It was service-related.

                2. Pelham

                  Good stuff to bring up. Thanks. Someone needs to write a comprehensive book about these routine, deliberate abuses of enlistees and others. Even leaving out the cannon-fodder aspect of wars there appears to be plenty of material.

                3. HotFlash

                  All of the members of my maternal family died of cancer of the everything *except* the ones who were overseas or well out of town (youngest daughter away at college) during WWII. Rumours have it that Ann Arbor MI area was a test site for atomic ‘dust’ tests from nearby Selfrige AFB (now ANG), and the UofM hospital at Ann Arbor tracked the, um, progress. Seemed tin-foilly when I first heard (’70’s) but now, I’m pretty sure that’s what happened. Funny thing, any search I try show up only irrelevant articles. Didn’t used to.

                4. JTMcPhee

                  Maybe, RK, not so much “defending Trump” but trying to push critical thinking and accurate observation and reporting through the ‘fog of war’ bullshit and coordinated DYSinformation that we mopes and our opinion leaders and influencers have been trained up to generate so volubly. “Of course in DJT’s view,” a nice example of assassination by attribution, being just one little note in the massed voices of the Mighty Wurlitzer.

                  Gee, in this age of cognitive dissonance, what ever happened to the shibboleth of “fair play” that is supposedly built into the Anglo-American genotype? Maybe the Israeli notion that “thou shall not be a Freir” has taken its place?

            2. Katniss Everdeen

              “Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.”

              ― Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Henry Kissinger

              As reported by Woodward and Bernstein, un-anonymously, in their book The Final Days

            3. John Wright

              General George Patton had a privileged upbringing, which could explain his understanding of “how things really work”

              Here is a link to an article about his childhood home in the wealthy LA suburb of San Marino.


              “The house is three stories high and has 8,000 square feet.”

              “Patton (General George’s father) and Henry E. Huntington secretly plotted San Marino’s incorporation in a basement room of the house when neighboring cities threatened to annex their prosperous farms in 1913.”

              Huntington was the nephew of Collis P. Huntington of railroad robber baron fame.

          2. Xavier

            Aside from being ‘in character,’ there’s a detail that is particularly damning.

            Some of the comments are alleged to have been made within earshot of General John Kelly at Arlington beside his son’s grave.

            If the accusation were false, he could easily refute it, on the record or off. So, in effect, Trump’s own former Chief of Staff is tacitly admitting the reports are correct.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Kelly could also have confirmed the “story.” Some reporting alleges that he is the anonymous source. Damning if he didn’t confirm As to the dead troops in that WW I cemetery in France: to me as a disabled Vietnam veteran who rejects the lie that US involvement in WW I was to “save democracy” and the rest of the propaganda about those supposedly hallowed dead, were indeed losers, mostly conscripts in Woodrow Wilson’s war, They may have “died bravely,” or screaming in terror, but they died in a rich people’s war, just pawns in national intrigue as Kissinger said.

              The people who crafted this “story” are no doubt proud of how it has gotten legs and how “what he allegedly has said” has even been embroidered out of all relation to the original spin.

              I’ll stick with the informed observations of Smedley Butler — these wars are mostly a racket.

          3. Jeff

            Samuel, I’d just suggest you consider the possibility you have TDS.

            Assume DJT said that and you were there. Would your choice be to remain completely silent about it for 30 months, then announce it now, but do so anonymously? Neither of those seem particularly plausible, as both the Dems and legacy Republicans want DJT gone. So whomever personally drags him into the mud is going to be labeled a hero, like Christine Ford was. Both of those stories are/were equally as far-fetched to me.

              1. periol

                I mean, that just shows the WH had an official excuse ready. What is he, the wicked witch of the west, can’t get wet?

                “potential for moderate showers” lol

        2. Larster

          Agree. Have you heard any military support Trump over theses allegations? Where is Gen Kelly? Simply put, there appears to be a strategy being used against Trump- hoist him on his own petard. A shame that the R’s could not figure this out during the 2016 primary.

        3. periol

          I also do not think it is disinformation.

          Furthermore, I agree with Trump. I would go farther. We need to stop glorifying war altogether, and destroy the military industrial complex. Bring our troops home. Close all our overseas military bases.

          Trump is obviously saying the quiet part out loud again, and his fellow class-mates really wish he would shut up about it already. Stuff like this might even make me hope for a Trump win over Giant Meteor 2020 (forget about Biden already).

      1. Titus

        Immediately modifying his original remarks, Trump said, “He’s a war hero ’cause he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK?”

        “Perhaps he’s a war hero, but right now he’s said some very bad things about a lot of people,” Trump said.

        2015. So it’s not much of a stretch to see Trump flippantly saying something like that. Not that any of this will matter in a couple days when the circus moves onto the next outrage.

    3. Mark Gisleson

      I think the article about how the rich have no empathy or clue speaks to this quite well. The problem with the Democrats is that everybody involved at the national level is either rich, the offspring of the rich, or desperately are trying to suck up to the rich (in order to become rich).

      The result is a national party that cannot see or hear the rest of us.

      Which is why I can’t see the point to voting, not anymore.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        In addition, many elected Democrats start out as recruited self funders targeted for being innocuous which amounts to not having called for abortion doctors to be tried for murder. It’s not only a party disconnected through a bubble, but the very nature of so much of Team Blue can’t even see a role for Team Blue beyond the status quo.

        I don’t want to dismiss AOC, but she’s not arguing for anything new or that hasn’t been said. Part of her appeal is she’s effectively alien to Team Blue for calling for anything other than prayer or vicarious pleasure (remember how great Obama’s family was when millions lost their homes?). I don’t think these people are capable of reason. They can’t learn and can only be intimidated or replaced.

      2. Fraibert

        To the extent The Atlantic article is even accurate (I am also skeptical), I think that President Trump was, in his typically clumsy and outrageous manner, expressing the true view of the PMC and elite towards military service, particularly service in the combat arms (e.g., what some of the Army Medical Corps people I knew sometimes would refer to as the “real Army”).

        It’s one thing if some hypothetical son of a member of the PMC or elite joins the military for a few years as a JAG–that can only help bolster the future legal career of that son, while not being too dangerous. I imagine very different, and much more hostile, family conversations if that same son instead insisted on serving in the infantry or as a tanker.

        I suspect certain professions would be even much more likely to view military service as for “losers,” such as in medicine. An experienced civilian radiologist can make two (or more) times what a similarly experienced military radiologist can make (and the latter might be a Lt. Col. or possibly even a full bird Col.). (One might quibble because of the generous military retirement benefits, but when the civilian is paid two+ times more than the service member, I doubt the military individual comes out ahead on a net present value basis.)

        The bottom line is, for a society that (at least at the “high” end) obsesses over money, status, and power, committed military service (other than “safe”-type service for resume burnishing purposes) is never going to make sense.

        1. MrQuotidian

          I could be wrong, but I think serving in the military is a fairly common way for someone to pay for their medical degree… No idea about the pecking order, but maybe former military are considered “losers” by fellow doctors since they were probably stuck pumping enlisted stomachs on some base in the sticks while prep school interns are leasing their first Porsches.. But otherwise I think you’re absolutely right that most PMC have little to no respect for those who choose combat service.. but given the nature of US armed conflict for the past 75 years… Yeesh.

          1. Fraibert

            I’m not sure I’d describe it as “common” but joining the military (most the Army) certainly is one method of paying for medical school, albeit one that concedes that the individual in question is not already a member of the elite. However, the service commitment is something like seven years after completion of medical training (including residency)–far below the 20 years required to be a career officer and to receive a pension. This also leaves plenty of time to work in the much more lucrative civilian sector.

            In the end, I suppose I am saying is that I suspect that those medical corps service members who stay around for the full 20+ years probably seem to be acting incomprehensibly to those who have imbibed the PMC/elite mindset. Service to others, or to a nation, is simply less important than money, etc.

    4. TroyIA

      First an anonymously sourced story about Trump ignoring Russia placing bounties on troops in Afghanistan and now an anonymously sourced story about Trump disrespecting the war dead. A conspiracy minded person might start think there is an effort to degrade Trump’s support among the military.

      After almost 4 years of the media hyperventilating nonstop about anonymously sourced stories that were damaging to Trump this latest episode is at another level. I have a feeling the next 60 days will be crazy.

      1. pjay

        Several people have noted that such a remark would be “in character” for Trump. I agree. I would also point out that baseless propaganda would be “in character” for Jeffrey “WMD” Goldberg.

        Whether or not Trump said these words, the other facts surrounding the cemetery story seem to have been debunked by people who were there.

    5. Brian (another one they call)

      Good one Kev; I am not sure about the commercial being an issue for sudden fast creation. Ad agencies, particularly this time of the election year, have people on call to react instantly if something comes up to harm an opponent. The writer may have the script ready before they can call the production team. Any changes can be made during shooting.
      I don’t think it would take more than a few hours to start capturing with the talent. There are also likely to be dozens if not hundreds of ad agencies looking to become famous and rich by being ready with something big money can use and abuse. Many could have jumped into the fray.
      I saw that General Kelly was named by externals looking at this. Mr. Kelly is remaining mum on the whole thing. The part that bothered me was a quote that talked about Trump’s inability to relate to anything not transactional. Did Trump never have to comply with the basics about living in society when he was being indoctrinated by his parents? His actions seem to say yes. I wonder if he wasn’t always treated as special and shielded from reality.

    6. voteforno6

      The timing isn’t coincidental, but that doesn’t make it untrue. It’s quite clear that there’s a lot of distaste towards Trump among some senior military officers – just look at how they reacted when Trump first threatened to send the military into American cities. They’re quite skilled at not being political while being political. It’s also quite clear that John Kelly was either a source, or some people very close to him were – that he hasn’t made any public statements up to this point is telling.

      That being said, it’s almost irrelevant whether Trump actually did say these things. I don’t think anyone could argue with a straight face that it would be out of character for him to do so. That is really what makes this so damming to him.

      1. pjay

        “…it’s almost irrelevant whether Trump actually did say these things. I don’t think anyone could argue with a straight face that it would be out of character for him to do so.”

        True. But there is another reason why it is irrelevant; facts *don’t matter* anymore. For *any* of the main protagonists. We all know Trump just makes s**t up, and doesn’t care. So do the NY Times and the Atlantic. Are the lies of Trump worse than those of Jeffrey Goldberg in the run-up to Iraq? Would Trump actually be worse than the neolib/neocon consensus that has now formed? Some “progressives” just seem to assume that the answer is yes. I don’t.

    7. Fireship

      “His combativeness, his hustling, his famous lack of curiosity are all well known quantities.”

      Which is why he is eminently suitable to be POTUS. He is the ultimate American, he represents the central qualities of America: violent, anti-intellectual, hustling. See Morris Berman’s Why America Failed for reference.

      US “civilization” is very immature. To use a Jungian analogy, it is still at the “trickster” level of development. The trickster or clown archetype is represented in myth by Loki, coyote or rabbit. Who plays this role better than the Donald himself?

      1. Aumua

        He’s also a bit of a buffoon, and foolish as hell sometimes. And since the American people keep proving that we ourselves are fools, then I’d agree that president Trump befits us.

    8. JCC

      Does what either Trump or Biden say about this even matter in the long run?

      Here is a link to an interview with Chalmers Johnson back in 2006

      Not only are there some comments regarding the praying at the Alter of the Pentagon by the average American Citizen (not to mention our entire Financial System), but all the currency numbers mentioned, with the exception of the Trade Deficit, have grown by leaps and bounds since 2006.

      Niether Biden nor Trump have the ability to change any of what Mr Johnson explains here.

    9. Swamp Yankee

      Rev Kev, I’ve spent years defending Trump — whom I loathe — from Russiagate nonsense. But I have to differ with you here, esp. on one aspect — I remember the rain that day as shown on television reports. It was significant, but it wasn’t a hurricane. The idea that Marine One, an advanced helicopter, couldn’t make it — or that failing that, the Secret Service couldn’t drive the 50 or so miles — seems to me to stretch belief.

      The other thing is, IIRC, didn’t Macron and other Western leaders make the trip, as well as various veterans’ groups? That suggests it was possible to get there, he just didn’t, for whatever reason, want to go. I would say it was probably above all his rather prosaic vanity — can’t have the make-up run or the hair get mussed.

      I suspect John Kelly was one of the sources, and is pissed about the remark on his son. Note Kelly hasn’t said anything that I’ve seen to contradict the story from The Atlantic (which again, I loathe, having destroyed a great American institution and moved it from Boston to DC — not exactly an Atlantic city, tho’ I suppose the Potomac is tidal below Alexandria…) Kelly and my Father grew up in the same Oak Square neighborhood of Brighton in Boston; the neighborhood culture was both family-defensive but also averse to bullshit. I tend to think the lack of any denial from Kelly is telling volumes here to those who want to read between the lines.

      But who knows, there _is_ a lot of BS out there, so I’m far from certain about most “news” I hear these days.

    10. ex-PFC chuck roast

      Man, I hate repeating myself…except when I don’t remember…which is becoming increasingly the case. I was a sucker! I was a chump! Three years RA (regular army). I separated three months after Tonkin Gulf. My folks picked me up at the airport and asked, “Where is your uniform?” As soon as I got off the plane I went in the men’s room and threw it in the trash.

      Doing stupid, dangerous, immoral and inane $hit on a daily basis. Worse yet, being bossed around by drunkards, incompetents and barely literates. And that’s just the NCOs. For the officers we enlisted men were all stupidos…the stupider the better…because we were required to simply follow orders. Forget offering an opinion on anything to anybody. Fortunately there was still a draft at that time, and when I quickly wised-up, the draftees kept me friended, sane, focused and entertained.

      Yep…loser cannon-fodder…that was me. Doubtless, there are many, many other crazy-uncles in the attic like me who are not supposed to say the words. Well, these have been my words for decades and I’m sticking to them.

      1. VietnamVet

        “Loser” and “unwinnable war” are my terms for my service. Decades ago getting off the elevator with one of the few fellow Vietnam Vets at the Office, who flew helicopters in the Delta, I said what I thought. Looked at me and never talked to me again.

        I believe that Donald Trump said it. He said John McCain was a loser. Donald Trump tweeted: “When I terminated John Kelly, which I couldn’t do fast enough, he knew full well that he was way over his head. Being Chief of Staff just wasn’t for him, He came in with a bang, went out with a whimper, but like so many X’s, he misses the action [and] just can’t keep his mouth shut.”

        It shows the psychopathy of the neoliberal ruling elite. The oligarchs are beyond arrogant and oblivious. They have no love, no hope, no empathy; only greed. They are singly incapable of leading men; let alone a nation. Unless Democracy and the rule of law are restored, the USA will splinter apart shortly.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I wonder about the bit where Trump said John McCain was a loser. Maybe a little birdie told Trump a story. A story of how a coupla hundred American soldiers were kept by the Vietnamese as POWs after the war until the US honoured the treaty where they were supposed to give the Vietnamese aid. But that the US reneged on that part of the treaty leaving those POWs – and their Vietnamese captors – holding the bag. And that a US Senator helped cover this whole thing up and wouldn’t demand those soldiers back again in spite of him being an ex-POW himself who sang like a bird when held. I think that you can guess who that Senator was.

          1. VietnamVet

            There are conspiracy theories and not. I don’t believe Chuck Norris “Missing in Action” movies are reality. The POW/MIA black flag was still flying at the VA Medical Center before the Pandemic stopped my visits there; but, none were ever found.

            I decided that the missing POW/MIAs were part of the oligarchs’ successful, Reagan Era, counter revolt to discredit government and cut taxes and end regulations. Forty years later it culminated in a failed US federal government that can’t deal with the Pandemic and a Depression, at the same time.

    11. Lambert Strether

      > So this story from two years in the past comes floating to the surface like an unflushable turd to make him look bad some 58 days out from the election and drive a wedge between him and troops for who he is apparently popular. Even Bolton – Bolton! – of all people is calling bs on this stunt. Wanna know how I know that it was all set up? Because it only took hours for Biden’s campaign to come out with ads featuring this story. Not days. Hours. As if they knew what was going to happen and had everything ready to go.

      I hate to be cynical, partly because I’m never cynical enough, but to me the various “confirmations” smack more of what Thomas Frank calls the “airtight consensus.” Of course they would “confirm.” Otherwise, they “love Trump.”

      I’m also sort of stunned, by which I mean not stunned at all, that liberal Democrats are losing their minds over words, while entirely overlooking Biden’s action, i.e. Biden voting for the Iraq War, all the more distressing giving the Bush-era warmongers who have cheerfully joined the Biden campaign as “adults in the room,” not to mention the embrace of Bush himself, a war criminal. None of this bodes well for the Biden administration’s foreign policy,

  7. Polar Donkey

    I heard a few things yesterday about conditions in my area. Local beer distributor said beer sales down 60% in downtown Memphis. The local soft drink bottler/distributor is offering a year long severance package for anyone who will quit. University of Memphis football team is playing it’s first game today. The game is a sellout, 4,587. Stadium can hold about 66,000. An upper end restaurant in a well to do suburb is back to 85% of pre-covid sales. Clientele is all locals. So far Labor Day weekend is a bust for restaurants dependent on tourists, down 60%.

    1. timbers

      On that point, here are random observations in my post Pre-Covid universe:

      Homes within blocks of my neighborhood are selling fast and above asking price, and asking prices are up smartly from recent past. Number of listing very low. About 5 yrs ago I recall about 180 listings of home for sale at any given time. Now it’s struggling to stay around 120.

      An unusual house around the corner from me was vacant for years. It’s basically 2 homes with an unattractive, obtuse exterior: A single family 2 level split lever with essentially another home built attached to one side, but 3 levels, creating an awkward chunky exterior. Too much space for most. It recently sold and now I see anywhere from 4 to 8 SUVs parked in the driveway/street when I pass by walking the dog. One or 2 out of state car plates. Maybe a group of folks pooled their funds and bought it?

      Clothes washer needed replacing after giving out at age 12 years. Selection of washing machines limited factories were closed, so many brands unavailable and back ordered for months Needed clean clothes ASAP. Sales folk said LG and Samsung might be difficult to get service repairs (which granted are rare or should be but I did recently have my 12 yrs old dryer successfully serviced). Decided on a GE front load, it’s claim to fame is Microban to deter mold/bacteria. Made (or at least assembled) in America in Kentucky. Customer comments of major retailers near top of ratings rank and of fairly large quantity of reviews.

      To prepare for new washer, did preventative plumbing maintenance and upgraded water outlets feeding the washer. Local plumber told me business is very busy. Heard same from local electrician I used recently.

      Car traffic in my suburban location is up a lot but not yet equal to what is was Pre-Covid, and the State Park I take my dog to at least once a day is busier than what was normal Pre-Covid. My highly social and extroverted Labrador Retriever loves that as he gets to interact more people and dogs.

      1. polecat

        ‘Bout ready to rack into bottles my third batch of mead .. ( actually a melomel, as are the others ..) Tis my belief the prior two will age quite nicely. Alcohol content calculated @ 14.5 % by Vol. It really kicks ass!. . as you’d expect a God’s food would ‘;] …
        The last to be racked is Ginger-Loganberry – My honey .. My berries!

        Better than any of that commercially sold junk.

    2. Pelham

      And we’re still in the middle of the pandemic. I’m beginning to wonder what will happen when, with the arrival of a vaccine or a supposed cure, authorities tell us it’s OK to go out and about. Will people trust such pronouncements after so many months of mass confusion at every elite level? Will there be enough of us to resume our roles as consumers and workers in our nirvana of a service economy delivering only tiny wages for trivial work for so many of us?

      1. Swamp Yankee

        I can tell you from personal observations they — and opioid problems — are way up in this part of Southeastern Mass. People can’t get to their NA or AA meetings, are leery of going to detox or rehab for fear of Covid, and/or are self-medicating from the daily horror.

        A bad scene. I expect this weekend to produce a lot of hospitalizations as people flock to the beaches and ponds and forest campgrounds.

        1. petal

          I drove from Hanover, NH to New London, NH and back today. Lots of traffic, tons of out of state plates on I89. Sooo many from MA, a few FL, TX, etc. Felt like I saw more out of staters than VT&NH. Couldn’t tell there’s anything out of the ordinary going on.
          Real estate market around here is off the hook. Stuff is selling really fast, and prices have gone up by a lot.

          1. Swamp Yankee

            Yes, downtown Plymouth, Mass., has just a slew of out of state plates parked down at the waterfront boulevard. Many from RI (which just got warned out by the Governor from entering MA without a test or quarantine, but of course there are no enforcement mechanisms, and a nearby and highly porous land and water border, so….) and CT, lotsa NY and NJ, a few NH, but then some from way far away — North Carolina, Florida, and I even seem to recall a Texas, too!

            Very worrying.

          2. EMtz

            It was the same after 9/11 when I lived in Southern Maine. People from downstate NY, NJ and eastern Pennsylvania flooded the area looking to move out of range of what they perceived as a major target.

        2. CitizenSissy

          Lots of NA, AA, and AlAnon meetings are held via Zoom – not perfect, but beats the heck out of isolation. Patti Waldmeier had a recent FT column about folks in early recovery during the pandemic, many of whom were Zooming multiple meetings in different time zones.

    3. ProNewerDeal

      I tuned in to watch the US Open tennis on ESPN. The tennis is without fans & with the players having to wear a mask except when actually on the court playing or practicing.

      Turns out a Marshall college football game was on, announcer said it was limited to 25% fans/stadium capacity.

      There seems to be no logic or consistency in the US with regards to social mitigation. Special loopholes seemingly made for BLM protests or football to put 5K people together outdoors.

      Or schools with 1K+ people for the more dangerous indoors for 7+ hours 5 days/wk. IL State Gov has been decent (by US low standards for State Gov at least) by using a metrics-based “Restore IL” with 5 Phases for each of 11 regions. However apparently schools & universities are not included & left to local school boards to decide. A indoor gathering of 1K+ people is high-risk for COVID spread, whether it is socially useful or merely entertainment like currently banned fans & concerts & basketball/hockey games

      Or universities. I read that Bloomberg article about the outbreaks at Iowa State, Alabama, etc. The Univ Administrators blaming the students’ houseparties. That surely is a factor yet not the only factor. What about 400+ people in a Econ101 lecture hall or dorm cafeteria? What about massive dorms with a shared community bathroom for 30+ people in a dorm section?

      With this bizarre illogical US status quo, I fear the 1-week test-positive prevalence (shout out to mikethemadbiologist) will not even drop below even the 50/100K level indefinitely, whereas most OECD nations have already done so months ago. The Northeast seems to be the exception, hopefully they are actually permanently below that 50/100K level & won’t return. I don’t hold much hope that JoeTheBiden would improve much on this status quo.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Add to this the fact that the Administrators _know_, they absolutely _know_, about the parties, and encourage them, as well as a general culture of alcohol abuse and addiction. I’m from the most Irish county by ethnicity in the US, and I never saw anything like the St. Patrick’s Day parties in Ann Arbor, MI, when I was in grad school there. This is a city full of the blonde descendants of well-fed Rhinelanders, not Famine Irish Central. Cops letting frat boys and sorority girls with open containers walk down the street with nary a word, the smell of horrible cheap beer overpowering from a mile away, bars opening at 7 am!!! One friend had a young woman pass out in her 10 am US History section.

        That [redacted] would not fly in Southie (South Boston). And they aren’t exactly teetotalers there. Though many are in AA, for exactly that reason.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        A couple of blowouts going on in college football. Spreads are what they are, but the Middle Tennessee-Army spread is only supposed to be 3.5 points. I know its the first game of the season, but its tough to keep a college team off the score board as happened in the Marshall game. Coaches don’t like to bring it up, but they know during the course of a season teams underperform because of illness that isn’t noticed until players have to produce. It balances out, so no one cares. I would be watching Eastern Kentucky, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, and Army now.

    4. Philip Martin

      Since we are sharing pandemic anecdotes, here’s one: I go to the local lumberyard for some two-by’s and get a half-dollar in change. That hasn’t happened in a month of Sundays. Go to the same place a few days later, again, the half-dollar. Cashier tells me quarters are in short supply at the bank, so they are getting half-dollar rolls. I’ve seen signs about coin shortages at hardware stores and groceries so this fits in.

      Me, I’ve got probably a year’s worth of change ($250.00+) in a bucket that I normally would take to the coin counter in my bank’s lobby, but the bank lobby is hard to access (appointment only) and anyway the counter is off-limits. If this is a common thing, then could that account for the coin shortage?

      One other thing: front yard concerts. My neighbor is the principle flute in the KC Symphony and she has regular recitals every week on her porch. A friend who is a jazz musician does the same with a small combo on the driveway. A charming aspect of this unlovely time.

  8. Stephen V.

    Can’t see where this is happening elsewhere but on Thursday members of the AR Ledge sued the Director of the Health Department. It seems that “directives” are not mentioned in the AR Constitution. There have been 43 during Covid time. Normally the Gov has to go to the Ledge for emergency powers.
    Not sure if this is a “pass the popcorn moment” or not. The judge to hear the case is Wendell Griffen who is reviled in some circles for being too public with his personal opinions.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Crossed the rural AR/MO State line for lower sin taxes and better blood of grape selection yesterday. Not one person in Barry County had a mask. Not even around their neck.

      Serious nagging internal question. I don’t know at what point I/we should all just admit defeat and get on with life, get exposed, because it’s going to happen whether we admit it or not.

      1. ambrit

        Do not allow the stupidity of others to degrade your own precautions. The longer we go on, the more the boffins learn about the Dreaded Pathogen, and the better we can deal with the ravages of the Covid. This is a long term struggle. Those who are “giving up” so soon have no self awareness nor, I suspect, self respect.
        This being a coronavirus, I seriously doubt that there will ever be a “herd immunity” for it. Simply put, all those who are susceptible to the serious side effects will die off. The survivors will carry on with careless abandon.
        The Dreaded Pathogen is a perfect Jackpot enabler.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “How an intimate wedding in rural Maine led to the state’s largest COVID-19 outbreak”

    Normally wedding anniversaries are things to celebrate. Well, maybe not if you are divorced. In those cases the two happiest days are the day that they married their partner and the day that they divorced their partner. But fancy being this couple when their anniversary comes around next year and forever after. Their marriage was the source of a virus outbreak that led to sickness and death and became infamous around the world. If I were them I would re-marry again some other date and celebrate that anniversary instead.

    1. John A

      “If I were them I would re-marry again some other date and celebrate that anniversary instead.”

      Except, were any of the original wedding guests to die of Covid, would not the 2nd ceremony also act as a wake for absent friends?

  10. Clive

    I henceforth avow to never talking about the weather ever again. For the unaware, we Brits do nothing but talking about the weather; but then we have a lot to talk about. And if our weather is being unremarkable, there’s plenty of other people’s weather to talk about.

    Weather bores here are remarking on how poor Denver looks like it’s going from 95 Fahrenheit to the 30’s more-or-less overnight

    Shorts and shades to winter woolies in a day! A few Coloradonians (is that the right collective noun? — apologies if not…) have chipped in with a big, fat, “so what, that’s how it is here”. So maybe it’s not that unexpected. For me, I’d take to my bed at the shock.

    1. Jessica

      That swing is impressive. The 30s includes some snow too!
      The weather in the Front Range is fun. So variable.

      1. newcatty

        When we lived in Colorado, in the Front Range for a time, the first time we went to a local bar it had gone from sunny and hot yesterday to that 30 degrees mark. I expressed some amazement at the sudden change. A couple of old timers laughed. You’re in Colorado, now. Here on the Front Range it makes it’s own weather.

    2. carl

      Down here in Texas, we get cold weather fronts in the fall and winter coming down from the mountain states that will drop the temperatures about that fast, although 95-30s seems a little more extreme. Summer tends to linger on until about mid-October, when the weather changes very quickly.

    3. Lee

      I live in the SF bay area, and compared to much of the rest of the world we don’t have weather. We travel elsewhere for that. Got snowed on in Yellowstone one fourth of July and again while backpacking in the Bitterroot Mountains on August 15. The latter event included winds that took down standing dead trees that fell in a jumble of trunks like a pile pickup sticks all around our camp. We were damned lucky that night.

      1. Brian (another one they call)

        The high desert of Southern California can do some wild changes. I have awakened to 30 degrees and about 8 to 10 hours later it is 100. Right at the edge of spring/summer usually. (Lucerne Valley)

        1. BobW

          Note to those in first world countries – that those temps are in the Fahrenheit scale, no water boiling in the street.

    4. Big River Bandido

      But Clive, so many interesting things have been said about your weather:

      Sitting in an English garden
      waiting for the sun.
      If the sun don’t come
      you get your tan
      from standing in the English rain.

      Our weather here isn’t quite so poetic, methinks.

      1. orlbucfan

        “ Sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun/If the sun don’t come you get your tan from standing in the English rain.” Lennon wouldn’t believe the climate damage if he was still around.

    5. rhodium

      As a coloradan I can tell you that sudden large dramatic swings in weather conditions are not abnormal. However, I saw this in the forecast just yesterday and was shocked. I’d have to say that this level of temperature swing on the back of a cold front is a good bit more aggressive than usual when this sort of thing happens.

  11. DorothyT

    Re: QAnon theory

    BBC World Service (radio) broadcast an eye-opening panel discussion about QAnon this morning on WNYC public radio.

    Headlined “Why Is QAnon Going Global?” It’s been tracked in 71 countries being weaponized by far right groups. Panel members recount its spread helped by the pandemic and economic distress, often adopting religious symbology and increasing blanket distrust.

    QAnon has been off my radar until I listened to this. Well worth 50 minutes of your time.

    1. pjay

      Of course the BBC is fear-mongering QAnon. They’re part of the Trump/Putin/Authoritarian apocalypse! In reality, its followers are mainly powerless. A few will end up as right-wing “militia,” and worse-case become the next Kyle Rittenhouse. That’s not good, and I despise these militia groups. OTOH, those spreading the “Russiagate” conspiracy theory are members of the PMC and the US Establishment, some of whom have considerable power and influence. Worst case scenerio: these f**ks start WWIII.

      I’m a broken record today, but who the hell is *worse* here?

      1. pjay

        Sorry. I’m getting more and more grumpy. But the BBC is as much a part of this massive propaganda effort as the NY Times and Washington Post.

        1. Clive

          And has become just as irrelevant — certainly here in the UK. Even my mother-in-law watches it — in how shall I put it? it’s not really with what I’d call critical thinking, better described as — askance. It simply has no resemblance to the world she lives in and interacts with on a daily basis. Up until a few months ago, she seemed to attribute that toher perceptions and understandings being incorrect. Now, it’s more a realisation that BBC is merely peddling a load of old rubbish. It’s a watered-down version QAnon with a working spell-checker and better diction.

          The reason why it is doing that escapes her (me too, actually, on occasions!; it’s like it has a death wish of some sort). But there’s definitely an ongoing glitch in the matrix and a fair chunk of the population here can perceive not only what the mainstream perception management machinery is projecting but that there is also actually a perception management machine there to project it in the first place.

          It’s hard to pay no attention to that man behind the curtain when he’s making such an awful mess and kerfuffle of it all.

    2. Vlad "The Mad Lad" Lenin

      You’d rather have to be incredibly retarded or incredibly desperate to believe something posted anonymously on 4chan.

  12. chuck roast

    Thank you so much for the Maine Mail Boat article. I’m on the beach now, but I sailed these beautiful waters for many summers. The Barred was one of my favorite anchorages.

    It’s been a tough summer for the Mainiacs. With the exception of the Ladona and the Stephen F. Taber the entire Pen Bay windjammer fleet is in mothballs. They call them windjammers because they have to jam as many people as possible into them in a short sailing season. Let us hope that they will be pack many happy lubbers in next summer.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “One Family Has Delivered the Mail by Boat for 115 Years. Is This the Last?”

    If they can only hang on for another generation then they would be set for life. With global sea rises New York will become known as Venice on the Hudson and they could ply their trade sailing down the streets of Manhattan. I do wonder what this family did and how they coped with the world pandemic of 1918-1919 though.

  14. Henry Moon Pie

    There’s a lot of fascinating conversation in the comment threads over the past days about who’s worse between Trump and Biden. I just wanted to offer not a bold TOE but a much more modest TOSS (Theory of Some Stuff) that might be helpful in sorting this out.

    Let’s go back nearly 70 years, a time when the dominant worldview in American culture was what I call the Francisco Pizarro worldview, briefly summarized as Western European Christian males go out and subdue the natural world and the “savages” soli deo gloria and for the wealth and power of [insert appropriate nation here]. Within that world, it was right and just that there were elites on the one hand and the rest of us on the other, and that the decisions, at least the big ones, were made by the elites. In Republics, however, there was an expectation that those elites would inform the people of decisions, and that there would some effort to explain and justify courses of action. In practice, it required “leadership” to perform this function, and historically, we can all think of circumstances where “leaders” of one institution or another were required to go in a public forum to both inform the public of new policy and to, at least symbolically, seek their consent. In 1941, remember FDR going before the Joint Session of Congress in 1941. Sometimes, the public may even believe that a decision is still pending as when LBJ went before a Joint Session with the “We Shall Overcome” speech. And there are times when this kind of “leadership” fails as it did when Jimmy Carter went on air to plead with Americans to reduce their energy use in what was mislabeled the “malaise speech.”

    The Sixties not only brought into sharp relief some still unresolved antitheses between Autonomy/Authority; Science/Religion; Progress/Tradition; and others, but also gave rise to a new conception of the relationship between elites and the people that was sparked by the recognition that the hold of the old Pizarro Worldview was being loosened by the fundamental conflicts between that worldview and advancing technology. A particularly thorny problem that this new approach sought to solve was how to deal with the remaining large proportion of the population still in thrall to Western European Christian Patriarchalism even as elites were ready to move on to a new world basking in global inclusivity. “Handling” the people would also be complicated by the elites’ self-perceived “necessity” of reducing living standards generally while increasing their own wealth and power.

    The Powell Memo laid out a strategy for managing the people that relied on the manipulative tools of Madison Avenue utilized through the power of the media and academia and fueled by lots of money (have to spend to make it, huh?). Ironically, the Right’s agenda benefited before the Powell Memo had had time to reach full impact because an old Pizarro worldviewer if there ever was one, Ronald Reagan, was elected President. I would submit that Reagan was the last American President to successfully attempt old-fashioned Republic-style “leadership.” The only problem was that he led the country 180 degrees in the wrong direction.

    Clinton was the first post-leader President. He used “triangulation” to bring a reluctant Democratic Party base to acquiesce in his Reaganesque policies. Bush II, after his father’s failure to lead in the traditional way, employed Rovian tactics to “create its own reality” as the Bush administration manipulated the populace to accept a police state and PermaWar. Obama created a new synthesis, triangulating Democrats into supporting AEI healthcare while it proved it could run Bush’s plays as well as Cheney, putting the Osama card on the table to win re-election easily.

    But Trump has undertaken an entirely new strategy. Rather than even pretending to “lead” like a FDR or Reagan, rendered unable to triangulate by rigid Republican ideologues and limited to Fox and other right-wing outlets (and Twitter!) for manipulation, Trump seeks to divide in order to gain and hold power.

    Choosing between Trump and Biden is a choice between a President who uses the promotion of division as a way to govern and a would-be President who will return us to the halcyon days of triangulation and manipulation. Left out of all of this is the people’s having any say in policy. The people are not even treated with enough respect to receive explanations of policy decisions beyond concocted shibboleths like “Systemic Racism” or “Global Warming” that reduce policy choices to picking which side you want to be in over a meaningless battle over phrases.

    (Sorry about the length. They should rename what I smoked this AM “Motorfingers.”)

    1. neo-realist

      I don’t if Systemic Racism would qualify as a concocted shibboleth from the point of view of a POC that has endured, in the present age, discrimination in housing, employment, police conduct (whether it be being followed, slapped, punched, verbally abused, excessively applied the Terry Stop, or shot while unarmed). If one isn’t a POC, I can understand how systemic racism is “water off a duck’s back”.

      A lot of evidence proving global warming, however, it’s possible that the horse has left the barn regarding the ability to stop it.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        I’m addressing the manner in which policy issues are left unaddressed rather than the substance of the issue. Democratic-leaning news media ask every politician if there’s “systemic racism” in America. When Joe Biden answers “yes,” he’s off the hook when it comes to advocating real policy changes for the very real problems you list. When Republicans refuse to pronounce the shibboleth, they’re essentially let off the hook as well because no one, on CNN or Fox, follows up their answer with specific policy questions. For CNN, the Republican has already proved an unworthy human being who will not be allowed across the Jordan. For Fox, they’ve already provided the acceptable answer.

        Similarly, Democrats have accepted for “global warming” for years. It’s just that they never do anything substantial to address it. This type of game was played in the Democratic debates over “health care is a human right.” All Democrats happily affirmed that truism. The problem is that most of them didn’t support M4A whether or not they would pronounce the shibboleth.

  15. KFritz

    Re: Covid 19, psu doctor, & myocarditis

    It probably isn’t surprising that highly trained athletes are significantly effected. High level training stresses the body, leaving it vulnerable to ‘attack.’ A google search of “highly trained athletes prone to illness” provides lots of corroboration.

  16. Liquid Amber

    Yves, Lambert, Jerri-Lynn,
    Are you hearing anything about California Proposition 22? I just spent some time digging into it*. It is very one-sided in favor of the ride-share and delivery companies and really bad for gig-workers. And yet, I have read/heard very little substantive either pro or con.

    *Skill I learned by hanging out at this website for years! Thank you!

  17. John Beech

    Anyone who believes the president would give voice to this based on an article in the Trump-friendly publication, The Atlantic, is an idiot . . . perhaps a useful idiot. Is it coincidence this comes with zero people behind it? Is it coincidence it comes now as the race tightens? That’s nothing but a rumor as nobody has put their reputation behind the allegation? Good grief, this is so predictable, and worse, people are so stupid as to take up arms over a nothingburger. Anyway, if you thought politics was dirty, this ain’t nothing – just wait!

    1. The Rev Kev

      Did you spot those articles about the attempted shut down of the Stars & Stripes magazine and blaming Trump for it? He wouldn’t even have heard of them. And for the sake of $15.5 million? That is the monthly mess bill for American generals overseas. Apparently too many people in the Pentagon did not like being criticized by some of their articles and they found a champion in Mark Esper to have it killed off in the budget-

      Good grief. I have just defended Trump twice now. In one day. Crazy times.

      1. marym

        Hah! Not to worry. Not knowing what was in the Pentagon’s proposed budget, what Esper said about it in February, what others, including active and former military, said about it, funding the House has voted for, funding the Senate has voted against, a letter from Lindsey Graham last week, and the shutdown memo sent this past week isn’t really that great a defense. Maybe he should read Stars and Stripes!

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Maybe it’s got to do with Trump’s naming a new ambassador to Afghanistan. One who wants to get out of Afghanistan.

      Trump is expected to nominate William Ruger, a foreign-policy expert and proponent of the president’s agenda to withdraw a substantial portion of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, sources familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.

      Administrative officials see Ruger’s selection as the president’s signal of intent to reduce the U.S. military presence in the region drastically.

      “Everbody knows” that anyone who wants to get out of Afghanistan disrespects the boots on the ground.

    3. diptherio

      Having worked in politics some I’m not at all surprised, or even much troubled, by the baseless smears. That’s just how the game is played. What’s really maddening though, is that the Dems can’t even come up with anything good (although I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn this originated with the Lincoln Project). Why not start the rumor that he wants to kill off Social Security and get rid of Medicare? Better political ratf***ing please!

      1. edmondo

        The Dems can’t complain about the destruction of Social Security and Medicare yet. They aren’t going to destroy it until next year.

    4. anon in so cal

      >Techno Fog debunked the Atlantic claims on Twitter. Posted info from FOIA docs from the US Navy showing the flight to the cemetery was indeed canceled due to weather.

    5. Carolinian

      They are swiftboating Trump and let us recall this Rove tactic was originally used against Kerry by the Republicans and focused on even older Vietnam era events. Perhaps the reason character attacks don’t seem to work against Trump is that his dubious character is already on full display–unlike the supposedly goody two shoes Kerry.

      For the public, though, it is wearisome because they have been doing it for four years and if he wins they will do so for another four years. Can we just vote “none of the above” on everybody, media too, and start over?

      1. Fraibert

        I wonder if there are two elements.

        I think you are right that President Trump’s dubious character makes him a poor subject for further character attacks. It is not like the President has hidden his character.

        But, I wonder if a second element is that the “character” of “the media” (really, reporters, talking heads, etc. as individuals). Maybe, the public no longer finds the media trustworthy because the self-inflicted destruction of its own reputation.

      2. voteforno6

        No, swiftboating is taking someone’s perceived strength and turning it against them. In this case, they’re taking Trump’s very real (lack of) character and using it against him. Regardless of whether Trump said those things or not, nobody can honestly argue that it would be out of character for him to do so.

        1. Carolinian

          Well I would define it as the attack that is so out of left field that nobody can prove that it is not true–hence the beauty of it.

          Example: Trump is a Russian agent. Should anyone object that there’s no proof that Trump is a Russian agent their reply would be “so where’s your proof that he is not a Russian agent?” For this to work you need the proof part to be obscured either by the mists of history or by being in Russia.

          But your version can work as well. One of Trump’s original strengths was to present himself as an outsider here to “clean out the swamp.” They then attack him as being outside the DC establishment and therefore, who knows, possibly even a Russian agent!

          As for the latest example, Trump does constantly present himself as a military booster so claims of hypocrisy on that front would also qualify.

          1. voteforno6

            One of Trump’s original strengths was to present himself as an outsider here to “clean out the swamp.”

            Yeah, that aged well. Unless, you mean that he cleaned out the swamp, so he could enlarge it and fill it with even more slimy creatures.

            Also, Trump can claim to be a military booster, and because he’s a Republican, some people just assume that’s the case, but he doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being truthful about much, does he? He also has a tendency to be very demeaning towards others – remember how he openly mocked a disabled reporter? Very classy. Also, he did call John McCain a loser for being a POW. Some people may find both of those to be reprehensible, and I’m guessing a lot of members of the military and veterans weren’t particularly pleased about the latter.

            They got Trump, and he knows it. That’s why he’s going after John Kelly, whose silence is…interesting. That may also be why he’s making those unhinged attacks on Joe Biden wearing a mask in public. Whether it’s true or not almost doesn’t matter, because, rather than contradicting the widely-held perception of him, it feeds directly off it. The timing isn’t a coincidence, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t true.

            People love to look for some grand conspiracy at play here, by the “establishment,” like they have superpowers. It could be just as likely that there are some personal grudges at play here. It’s also possible that everyone here is bad, just to different degrees.

        2. Phil in KC

          When did a narcissistic-sociopath personality type become a strength?

          Swiftboating involves attacks that are both not true and not fair, i.e. undeserved. Trump has spread all kinds of rumors, smears, innuendos, and falsehoods on an hourly basis. Now he’s getting a taste of his own medicine. (although some of the assertions certainly have the ring of truth. General Kelly, could you confirm?) Like any bully who gets bullied back, he is howling with indignation and anger.

          The result, though, is that Trump is on the defensive. Will there be a retaliatory attack on Joe?

          1. Carolinian

            Check the Greenwald link.


            It should go without saying that none of this means that Trump did not utter these remarks or ones similar to them. He has made public statements in the past that are at least in the same universe as the ones reported by the Atlantic, and it is quite believable that he would have said something like this (though the absolute last person who should be trusted with anything, particularly interpreting claims from anonymous sources, is Jeffrey Goldberg, who has risen to one of the most important perches in journalism despite (or, more accurately because of) one of the most disgraceful and damaging records of spreading disinformation in service of the Pentagon and intelligence community’s agenda).

            Goldberg was the one who insisted in the New Yorker that Saddam had WMD. Many thousands of bodies later he is still going strong in the MSM. There are lots of people who are much worse than Trump and some of them are attacking him.

            You don’t have to support Trump to get that. As to the politics, don’t get too excited. Dubious this story has “legs.”

          2. urblintz

            Joe is his own retaliatory attack, a political hack for 40 years with a record that should exclude him from POTUS, which leaves us with two criminal asshats running and representing the legacy party. I could give a damn about either of them and my vote will go elsewhere…

            I’ll be writing in “Vladimir Putin”

  18. anon in so cal

    >Biden proposing war with Russia?

    Effectively, yes. Biden told the Council on Foreign Relations he wants Russia “to pay a heavier price,” he wants more weapons to Ukraine, and he wants to move NATO farther eastward.

    Each of those statements, alone, signals a bellicose stance toward Russia. Taken together, they are very ominous.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Further eastward? There is nothing further eastwards except Moscow. Last week that were doing artillery exercises within 70 miles of their border. Can you imagine what would happen if the Russians were doing artillery exercises within 70 miles of the Rio Grande? If they push Russia too hard, then they might decode to send the Taliban some manpads and ATGMs as they have nothing to lose anymore.

    2. Olga

      “… farther eastward?” Well, there’s only Belorussia and then Russia. Everything else is already under Nato. Is he proposing to incorporate Russia into Nato? (Well, he might – prob wouldn’t even know where Russia is on the map.)
      Oh, ok, there’s still Geo and Ukr, Azeris and Armenians. Good luck with that.

    3. Vlad "The Mad Lad" Lenin

      The Democrats want war with Russia, the Republicans want war with Iran. The only choice for the working class and the peace of the world is exterminating the bourgeoisie.

      No war but the Class War.

    1. edmondo

      Better yet, let’s spin off the email functions of tech and give them —– to the USPS. And every post office is also a free wifi zone. And maybe a bank too. If McDonald’s can do it, why can’t Uncle Sam?

      1. Anonymous

        why can’t Uncle Sam?

        Because the private sector will scream, with justification, “Unfair competition!”

        That’s why we need a clear distinction between government and the private sector.

        That said, government could do a lot more for citizens such as an equal Citizen’s Dividend to replace all fiat creation for private interests.

  19. Olga

    Beirut Burning AltaMar (Paul R)
    Anyone who identifies ‘the party of god’ (H.) as the main problem in Lebanon does not understand the place or has an agenda. This piece has a nice headline, but not much more.

  20. someday susan

    In cases where I want to read articles in other than the English language I’ve found that the DeepL translator is far preferable to the big G. The difference is that DeepL does excellent translations of just a dozen languages rather than attempting more.

    Here is the first paragraph of today’s link to the Zeit article:
    The diary of Christian Olearius consists of bound notebooks, hundreds of pages in total, the leaves densely written. Investigators seized 22 volumes during a search in 2018. Olearius is now 78 years old and co-owner of the largest German private bank M.M.Warburg. His diary is an important piece of evidence in one of the largest economic scandals in the Federal Republic of Germany. It concerns probably illegal share deals called Cum-Ex, in which Olearius and his bank had many millions of Euros in taxes refunded by the state, which they had not paid before, and the accusation of serious tax evasion against the banker. Warburg and Olearius deny these allegations. So much for the criminal part.

    Translated with (free version)

    1. Susan the other

      Yes. That’s what I got out of it just by groking. I can’t translate much any more, but it sounded like this has been going on since 2007. That’s 13 years. And the culprits are saying it is not a “punishable act.” That’s interesting. The money was siphoned from Koln, Dusseldorf, and Hamburg to Warburg Bank to buy shares in Cum-Ex. So what exactly (or who) is Cum-Ex. More later I’m sure. But I find the timing interesting. Nord Stream has been in the works almost that long (2007) and it’s possible that there is a Russian connection because it’s tit for tat – Merkel accuses Putin of offing Navalny; a week later her fin min is exposed as a blatant grifter. Or Russia might be being set up again. Based on the political theory that nothing happens by accident.

  21. Chris

    Any NC people familiar with how to break through the bureaucracy at Experian?

    6 months ago we asked to put a “freeze” on a family member’s credit reporting after they had their wallet stolen. Now, they would like to apply for a loan and the other credit reporting companies have released the freeze but Experian is refusing to for some reason. We’re trying to find a number to speak with an actual person to understand what the issue is but there doesn’t seem to be an option for that. The option they’re offering is for the family member to send a ton of PII to a PO box and apparently they won’t confirm if the PII has been received. For obvious reasons we’re not thrilled about doing that. Any ideas of how to break through the log jam would be appreciated :/

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      Does the bank or loan company they want to do business with require access to the Experian records? Quite often they can work with records from just 1-2 of the big three.

        1. A Reader

          I had the same problem with Experian late last year. I tried to unfreeze my report for a loan was trying to get with my local Credit Union, and they were the only one who gave me trouble.
          They claimed, via their online portal, that my account had been unfrozen, but the Credit Union said otherwise, and there was no phone number I could call to talk to a real person – only the automated one – the only option was to send them a letter requesting the unfreeze by postal mail. I finally did so, saying that I was going to contact the CFPB about their callous operations. They never responded to that letter, but I got a letter in the mail about a month afterwards saying their records indicated that my account was unfrozen. I had been checking with the friendly Credit Union manager the whole time, and this time they had actually unfroze it for real. It may have been a glitch in their system, which they did not want to admit, but it felt like they were punishing me for placing the freeze, as it probably hurt their credit reporting business. But if this country had a functioning government, these folks would have been put out of business – all credit decisions go through these three agencies, and they don’t feel like they can bother with a offshored human person for folks to talk to when things go wrong?

    2. Late Introvert

      In my experience, the one time I needed to un-freeze my credit (flute for my teen, 6 months same-as-cash), the phone numbers worked quite well. I first went to the web sites and they scared me off. The automated phone system was just punching in numbers, and it worked pretty flawlessly.

      Not much help for Chris but for future reference.

  22. Charles 2

    Still a bad number for young men presumably at peak health.

    Being an elite athlete is the opposite of peak health, it is instead being permanently on the edge of injury to trigger performance enhancing surcompensation. A badly timed banal flu can ruin the whole season of a runner or a cyclist.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Nonsense (and I have personal connections to the medical mafia that treats and rehabs pro athletes). These are young men who at a minimum have to have good hearts, good lungs, be strong (which is the single best predictor of longevity although many athletes don’t keep up their strength once they stop competing), not be overweight (obesity is increasingly being singled out as a co-morbidity for Covid, greatly increases odds of bad outcomes) and not be sickly (as in if you are vulnerable to infections, are highly allergic, have some chronic condition like Chron’s disease, you can’t compete). What they are risking all the time are orthopedic injuries, and that has nothing to do with vulnerability to contagious diseases or damage to the heart.

      Elite endurance athletes do tax their bodies generally (like professional marathoners) but that isn’t what we are talking about.

      1. rtah100

        Charles 2 is not altogether wrong here, Yves, at least with respect to infectious disease.

        Athletes may be in peak physical condition as you state but they have depressed immune systems. They are well known to experience high levels of illness, especially upper respiratory tract infection, and illness is their second biggest cause of performance problems after injury. What is not clear is the extent to which the depressed immune responses are a result of exercise or other lifestyle factors of being an athlete (nutrition, environment, social contact, stress, poor sleep, travel etc.).

        Link below to just some of the papers on this point.,5&as_vis=1

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          This appears to be an urban legend. Efforts to establish a connection haven’t found one. The evidence appears to be anecdotal and among endurance athletes only. Football players are not endurance athletes.


          Even when significant changes in the concentrations and functional activities of immune variables have been observed in athletes, investigators have had little success in linking these changes to a higher incidence of infection and illness. In one report, elite swimmers undertaking intensive training had significantly lower neutrophil oxidative activity at rest than did age-and sex-matched sedentary individuals, with function further suppressed during the period of strenuous training prior to national-level competition (Pyne et al., 1995) (See Figure 2). Nonetheless, URTI rates did not differ between the swimmers and sedentary controls.

          And see this more recent study. Key sentence:

          We emphasize that it is a misconception to label any form of acute exercise as immunosuppressive, and, instead, exercise most likely improves immune competency across the lifespan.

          We emphasize that it is a misconception to label any form of acute exercise as immunosuppressive, and, instead, exercise most likely improves immune competency across the lifespan.

  23. Olivier

    Re. Cum-Ex maybe I am naive but I keep being shocked to find the german financial regulator as gutless as its US counterpart: first Wirecard, now Cum-Ex, what next?

    As for Scholz, he and the whole blairite wing of the SPD need to go. Maybe this will grease the path of their exit. Maybe.

  24. Maritimer

    Coronavirus: Civil servants ‘must get back to offices quickly’ BBC (Kevin W)
    UK threatened with a shortage of Red Tape, may have to import from US.

    1. ambrit

      Wait! Wait! Shouldn’t “Red” Tape be sourced from Russia?
      Remember the “Lenin Institute of Bureaucratic Obstructionism?”

  25. anon in so cal

    Assume everyone has seen Matt Taibbi’s latest article essentially saying (my translation) vote for Biden so we can take back our country, return to normalcy, stop the constant [Democrat-incited] turmoil.

      1. ShamanicFallout

        Highlight of his essay- that part where the author of ‘In Defense of Looting’ writes “The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book without permission is a theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like permission to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), please contact Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.”
        We are being trolled from everywhere

  26. Cuibono

    “Stocks Are Up. Wages Are Down. What Does it Mean?”

    The system is working just as it was intended?

    1. Tomonthebeach

      Another piece of the puzzle! I read in economics as a hobby. Fix’s essay was very enlightening. I haven’t felt this woke about economics since I read Baker’s “Rigged” and Moslers 7 Innocent Deadly Frauds.

  27. Wukchumni

    Rotisserie League Notes:

    It was nearly crystal clear early this a.m. as the 52,000+ acre SQF wildfire had died down for the night, combined with winds trending SE, it was good while it lasted, which was about the duration of my walk to White Chief Canyon, which from henceforth I will not dignify with that horribly racist misogynistic moniker and have renamed it CEO Canyon, there I feel better already.

    Mineral King has 15 sinkholes and i’ve never seen another one anywhere else in Sequoia NP or that i’m aware of, the CEO Canyon sinkhole is a beauty. It drains out a 100 foot waterfall emanating from a cave and then proceeds as a creek for 1/2 a mile until the sinkhole.

    I’ve seen it working early in the summer with 10 feet of snow on the ground, and said hole is more the size of a suburban swimming pool, with concave sides sloping down all the way to the pool. If you fell in, there’d be no way out.

    Skies are beige trending toward taupe from the smoke and light ash is falling once in awhile from afar. When I was at CEO Canyon the winds were such that I had to do the tighten up on my chin strap on my hat, and it wasn’t just one direction, more of a schizophrenic sky, the usually gentle Sierra getting uppity.

    Had a small plane crash in Mineral King Friday somewhere in the vicinity of Ansel Lake, and sadly the 2 on board perished. NPS found the wreckage today and put out a small fire it caused. It would have been just on the other side of CEO Canyon somewhere.

    Heard it’s gonna be 118 tomorrow in Woodland Hills down south, that ain’t right, what are we, Calizonans?

  28. Goyo Marquez

    Couple things:
    – Nobody’s mentioning Trump twice now saying “real Americans” and they’re not “real Americans.” I hope that’s not one of those things you look back on and say, he was telling us what he was doing the whole time.

    – Along those lines. I’ve always wondered how Hitler was able to raise a private personal armed force, before he had any political power. What was the mechanics of it. I sometimes try to imagine how Trump would do such a thing. Sometimes if seems to me that he is testing the depth of his support, testing the response to his call to arms.

    – Trump insulting military. One Trumpism mentioned in the Atlantic article “According to eyewitnesses, after a White House briefing given by the then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joe Dunford, Trump turned to aides and said, “That guy is smart. Why did he join the military?” My son the no longer active duty Marine Captain heard that same or similar remarks while working on Wall Street for a big time Bank that only hires from the elite schools, he’s in business school now.

    1. curlydan

      I think the mechanics of a personal, private army are starting to reveal themselves. Look at Louisville, KY today. Trump’s “army” shows up in loaded to the gills with their ARs, claiming to protect the city from the “Not [Bleep]ing Around Coalition” during the Kentucky Derby. One day soon, two groups are going to meet, and it’s going to look like the American action movies we’re force fed to watch.

      International audiences (who supposedly love the cinematic violence) can grab the popcorn. The rest of us here in the States may be headed for bunkers.

    2. Jessica

      It wasn’t Hitler’s private army. It belonged to the party. It was possible because there were a large number of demobilized soldiers from WW1, officers who opposed the revolution that overthrew the Second Reich and started the Weimar Republic, and industrialists happy to bankroll the whole thing in order to crush the German working class.
      The SA (brown shirts) were far better organized than their current American imitators.
      Also, after the NS Party seized power, the Army demanded that the SA “private army” be crushed as the price of the Army’s loyalty. This was duly done. That was the original Night of the Long Knives.

      1. Goyo Marquez

        I had been under the impression that the Gestapo and SS were not part of the regular army, but were the party’s armed forces, is that not correct?

  29. Tom Bradford

    Pandemic Diary of a Naked Capitalist.

    Haven’t written a pandemic diary for a while as NZ went three months without a pandemic to write about. However in order to give Trump something to gloat about we’ve arranged a small outbreak in Auckland. It seems it’s now possible to genetically identify Covid viruses by ‘family’ making it possible to confirm this is all one related cluster, although its source has not been tracked down.

    Contact tracing seems to have worked – many of the cases arose in people already in voluntary isolation thanks to tracing and, unfortunately but perhaps inevitably, their families. Presently there are 77 active cases in the cluster with a steady four or five new cases daily. Also 39 active cases in returnees in quarantine at the border. Two more deaths, unhappily, bringing the total to 24.

    Given the community outbreak appears well under control Auckland’s lockdown has been eased to level 2.5, which isn’t much different from the rest of the country at level two. Personally it doesn’t impinge on me at all, and the country is pretty much working normally outside the tourist industry and the sardine bars.

    Our wealth as Naked Capitalists is back to within spitting distance (tho’ spitting is definitely a no-no now) of its highest ever back in February, having dropped nearly 20% at it’s worst. Recovery perhaps understandable as most of the NZ stuff we’re invested in is back chugging along nicely again. It’s undoubtedly over-priced in conventional terms but although the total lockdown of March/April did hit profits it was short, sharp and successful and the tone of the current reporting season is, let’s say, cautious but confident. Trouble is, with fixed interest paying peanuts the stock market is all there is, and with a steady flow of spare money needing a home each week the prospect of stocks continuing to tick up regardless of underlying earnings, the bourse is all there is.

    Days now lengthening with the dog now wanting to start playing ball at 06.00. Cherry blossom did its Japanese thing and is now spread across the lawn like snow as the leaves bud. Summer with its crack of leather on willow – and in my case six months of hay-fever and anti-histamine – is looming and we really do seem to be living in a different world to everyone else.

    Stay safe out there.

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