The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – April 12, 2020

by Tony Wikrent
Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus

Strategic Political Economy

Is Capitalism a Threat to Democracy?

[New Yorker, via Naked Capitalism 4-5-20]

In a sweeping, angry new book, “Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism?” (Norton), the journalist, editor, and Brandeis professor Robert Kuttner… [argues] today’s political impasse is different from that of the nineteen-thirties. It is being caused not by a stalemate between leftist governments and a reactionary business sector but by leftists in government who have reneged on their principles. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, Kuttner contends, America’s Democrats, Britain’s Labour Party, and many of Europe’s social democrats have consistently tacked rightward, relinquishing concern for ordinary workers and embracing the power of markets; they have sided with corporations and investors so many times that, by now, workers no longer feel represented by them. When strongmen arrived promising jobs and a shared sense of purpose, working-class voters were ready for the message.

Economic Armageddon

Key 2008 Financial Crisis Players Are Back for Coronavirus
[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 4-5-20]
The same self-serving rentier parasites who were in charge in 2008-2009 are still in charge – another indication that USA political and economic systems are complete failures. They are unable to replace proven failed leadership with competent leadership. Not surprising that the professional class in the Democratic Party — which declined the opportunity in 2009-2010 to uproot the failed leadership of Wall Street, and is now besieged by a reality of innumerable crisis — responded to the challenge of Bernie Sanders, by desperately retreating to their Biden redoubt. 

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin led a group of investors who purchased failed subprime mortgage lender IndyMac and ran the bank until its sale in 2015. Mnuchin is now leading President Donald Trump’s economic response to the pandemic.
  • Tim Geithner, President, Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2009. CURRENT POSITION: President, Warburg Pincus
  • Larry Fink, CEO, BlackRock Inc. in 2008. CURRENT POSITION: CEO, BlackRock Inc.
  • Tom Montag, Head of Sales & Trading, Merrill Lynch & Co. in 2009. CURRENT POSITION:
  • Chief Operating Officer, Bank of America Corp.
  • Rodge Cohen, Chairman, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in 2008. CURRENT POSITION: Chairman, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
  • Alan Schwartz, CEO, Bear Stearns Cos. in 2008. CURRENT POSITION: Co-Chairman, Guggenheim Securities LLC
  • Gary Parr, Vice Chairman, Lazard Ltd. in 2008. CURRENT POSITION, Senior Managing Director, Apollo Global Management
  • To which let me add: Joe Biden, vice-president of the United States in 2009. CURRENT POSITION, Democratic nominee for U.S. President

‘Breadlines’ Erupt Across America As Lockdowns Crush America’s “Working Poor”
[ZeroHedge 4-10-20]

A third of American renters have not been able to pay their rents this month

[National Multifamily Housing Council, via DailyKos 4-9-20]

The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) found a 12-percentage point decrease in the share of apartment households that paid rent through April 5, in the first review of the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on rent payments. The Tracker found 69 percent of households had paid their rent by April 5; this compares to 81 percent that had paid by March 5, 2020, and 82 percent that had paid by the same time last year.

“Mortgage Borrowers Stop Making Payments With Economy Shut”

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-8-20]

“The percentage of loans in forbearance grew to 2.66% as of April 1, according to the MBA’s Forbearance and Call Volume Survey. On March 2, the rate was 0.25%. For loans backed by Ginnie Mae, which serves low- and moderate-income borrowers, the rate jumped to 4.25%. The increase came as the U.S. economy largely shut down to help stem the spread of the coronavirus. The government is requiring lenders handling payments on federally backed loans to give borrowers grace periods of as much as six months at a time with no penalties. Loan servicers say they’ve been flooded with borrowers requesting help.”

This Bailout Is Really Going to Screw Over Mom and Pop Businesses

[Slate, via The Big Picture 4-8-20]

But even though businesses have been applying for [Economic Injury Disaster Loans grants for more than a week, there is no sign that a single dollar has actually gone out the door yet. Unlike the Paycheck Protection Program loans, which are government-backed but made by private banks, the economic disaster program is handled directly by the Small Business Administration….

…Reddit’s small-business channel, which has become a touch point for business owners trying to navigate the bailout, has filled up with posts from people still waiting to hear back about the grants and who are convinced that none has gone out. Not one small-business owner I have talked to in the past week says they have received the cash yet, either. A spokeswoman for the Main Street Alliance, a small business group, told me in an email that “anecdotally based on what we’ve heard from our members—no one has received any money.” On Twitter, frustrated small-business owners even started a hashtag about the situation, #EIDLHOAX.

Once businesses do start receiving money, many are concerned it could be far less than what they anticipated. The SBA now says it will provide up to $10,000 for each applicant. And in an email bulletin sent Monday and posted to Reddit, the SBA’s Massachusetts field office announced that businesses would only receive $1,000 per employee and $10,000 max per grant. (It also said money would start being distributed this week, suggesting none of it had gone out yet.) I asked the SBA press team to confirm whether the information in the email is accurate, but they did not respond.

Failing small business
[Popular Information, via The Big Picture 4-10-20]

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated millions of small businesses. An April 3 survey found that 24% of small businesses have already temporarily shut down. Among those businesses still open, “40% report it is likely they will shut temporarily within the next two weeks.”….

One issue with the fund is that it’s too small. The total fund is “about half of what would be required to cover 2½ months of payrolls for every business in America with fewer than 500 employees,” according to one calculation. Other analysts say it would cost $1 trillion to support small businesses for three months….

“There’s Going to Be Scandal Involved in This Bailout. It Is Unquestionable’

[Common Dreams, via Naked Capitalism 4-5-20]

NC: Important. Transcript of a discussion between Bill Moyers and Neil Barofksy, former chief inspector general of the Troubled Assets Relief Program, on big corporate bailouts.

[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-8-20]

“The absence rate appears particularly high in schools with many low-income students, whose access to home computers and internet connections can be spotty. Some teachers report that fewer than half of their students are regularly participating.”

Lambert Strether noted: “This feature of the American class system could come as a shock only to the nimrods of the Times. If we had universal broadband like South Korea, this wouldn’t be a problem. But then South Korea is a First World country.”$1,200 Only Goes So Far. It’s Time to Abolish Debt 

[TruthOut via Naked Capitalism 4-6-20]
[Capital & Main, via Naked Capitalism 4-6-20] 

“Why the Wealthy Fear Pandemics” 
[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-9-20]

“But as successive waves of plague shrunk the work force, hired hands and tenants ‘took no notice of the king’s command,’ as the Augustinian clergyman Henry Knighton complained. “If anyone wanted to hire them he had to submit to their demands, for either his fruit and standing corn would be lost or he had to pander to the arrogance and greed of the workers.’ As a result of this shift in the balance between labor and capital, we now know, thanks to painstaking research by economic historians, that real incomes of unskilled workers doubled across much of Europe within a few decades. According to tax records that have survived in the archives of many Italian towns, wealth inequality in most of these places plummeted. In England, workers ate and drank better than they did before the plague and even wore fancy furs that used to be reserved for their betters. At the same time, higher wages and lower rents squeezed landlords, many of whom failed to hold on to their inherited privilege. Before long, there were fewer lords and knights, endowed with smaller fortunes, than there had been when the plague first struck.”

[Reuters, via Mike Norman Economics 4-10-20]
[Tampa Bay Times, via Naked Capitalism 4-8-20]

Fed to buy municipal debt for first time, underscoring peril facing cities

[Politico, via Naked Capitalism 4-10-20]

….the emergency lending would be accessible to states and the District of Columbia, as well as cities with populations over 1 million residents and counties with populations over 2 million residents. The Treasury Department will use $35 billion from the stimulus package enacted in late March to cover any losses from states or cities that default.

Eligible kinds of debt include tax anticipation notes, tax and revenue anticipation notes, bond anticipation notes and “other similar short-term notes” with maturities no longer  than 24 months. Generally, those kinds of notes allow governments to access a larger amount of money upfront in the form of debt instruments using estimations of future revenue. Each debt issuance will be subject to Fed review.

Total debt issuance will be capped at 20 percent of the “general revenue from own sources and utility revenue” of each government applying for the aid, based on fiscal year 2017, the Fed said.

Progressive policies into the breach

Canceling Student Loan Debt Petition

[Student Loan Justice Org, via Angry Bear 4-10-20]

A couple trillion dollars in instant stimulus, without a single dollar from taxpayers being spent. Remember, thanks to Joe Biden, there is no bankruptcy relief for student loan debt.

The student loan is needs your help by your signing the “President Trump: Cancel Student Loans NOW“ petition. Please join student loan and the 211,000 (up from 161,000) signers of the petition calling for President Trump to prioritize canceling student loan debt. Doing such would cause many citizens burdened with debt to be more productive promoting economic growth.

[The Hill, via Naked Capitalism 4-6-20]

A first-of-its-kind program that will deploy almost a thousand people across Massachusetts may be a small-scale test of what public health experts hope could eventually stamp out the coronavirus even before a vaccine becomes widely available.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said Friday that his state would join with Partners In Health, a Boston-based global health nonprofit, to turn staffers into contact tracers, the backbone of any robust public health effort to squelch a deadly disease.

Those contact tracers will interview people who have been infected with the coronavirus to determine who around them might also have been exposed….

Such a program aimed at bolstering national public health would be unprecedented in the history of the country. But as the economy nosedives into what could be a depression and millions lose their jobs in the space of a few days and weeks, a government-backed effort to get those people back to work does have a precedent, in Depression-era programs like the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

In their brief histories, the WPA and the CCC employed nearly 1 in 10 Americans, giving people a paycheck in the years between Franklin Roosevelt’s election and the outset of World War II. In its first year, the WPA accounted for more than 6 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product — the equivalent of about $1.3 trillion in today’s dollars….

“We need an army of contact tracers in every community in the United States to find every contact to warn them to take care of themselves and not to infect others,” said Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who now runs the global health nonprofit Resolve to Save Lives. “Contact tracing is a core public health activity. It’s bread and butter of public health.”

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-6-20]
A doctor reflects on the response to a fire at his hospital: 

Apr 4 Replying to @RyanGamlin

But do you know what happened? Over the next hour, fire trucks POURED in and surrounded the hospital. City, county, parks service, forest service, BLM, new trucks, old
Trucks, unmarked trucks. They arrived to protect the hospital so quickly and so effectively.
As I drove home later that day, through the protective ring of equipment, I realized a fundamental difference between public safety and healthcare.
Public safety is BUILT on latent capacity. We pay for people and equipment to stand idle, over-prepared for emergencies.

We’re now finding that it is a mistake to “find” economic efficiencies to be wrung out of this social necessity: 

Decades of Hospital Closures Led to This Disaster
[Jacobin, via Naked Capitalism 4-5-20]
Public Banking Institute Open Letter to Congress detailing four immediate actions
[Public Banking Institute 4-11-20]

The Public Banking Institute sent an Open Letter to Congress detailing four immediate actions that will prevent financial catastrophe in our communities….

  1. Put real money into the real economy. At least $1,200 per month to all US adults as long as needed.
  2. Put money in people’s hands NOW. Get relief funds to people immediately by restarting Post Office Savings Accounts to direct deposit relief funds, and/or by using Treasury Direct accounts to direct deposit newly-issued Treasury dollar bills.
  3. Get money to the states. States can get 0% loans by forming their own public banks.
  4. Cancel debts held by the federal government, starting with student debts.

The actions listed above can be funded by tapping into the same money tree Congress and the Fed just used to fund a $6 trillion bailout for Wall Street and Corporate America. States and municipalities must also act now to take advantage of the Fed’s 0% rates by setting up their own public banks by emergency powers. These banks could provide the low-cost credit communities urgently need during this pandemic. Like Germany’s public bank KfW, they could grant 1% loans vs. the complex SBA programs charging 3.75%. Turning the central bank into a true public utility and establishing a stabilizing network of public banks via these emergency actions will save Main Street’s economy from disaster and build the publicly-owned, trustworthy financial infrastructure necessary to keep it healthy long term.

PBI Chair Ellen Brown says:
“The same Congress that has insisted we cannot afford a universal basic income, Medicare for All, free state college tuition, and other critically needed programs has suddenly discovered that it has unlimited funds to ‘do whatever it takes’ to rescue corporations and the stock market. Meanwhile the individuals, local governments, and local businesses suffering the devastating consequences of the shutdown have essentially been left out of this bailout. But relief for all is possible, if the central bank is run as a true public utility. The same sort of Treasury-owned Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) set up in the CARES Act to bail out businesses and financial institutions can be used to bail out the people and states. The facilities are already in place to issue relief funds immediately by direct deposit, and this can be done for as long as needed.”

Coronavirus: Spain to become first country in Europe to roll out universal basic income
[Independent, via Naked Capitalism 4-8-20]

[South China Morning Post, via Mike Norman Economics 4-9-20]

Disrupting mainstream economics – Modern Monetary Theory

The Use and Abuse of MMT
Michael Hudson, with Dirk Bezemer, Steve Keen and T.Sabri Öncü [via Naked Capitalism 4-10-20]

After being attacked by monetarists and others for many decades, MMT and the idea that running government budget deficit is stabilizing instead of destabilizing are suddenly gaining applause from the parts of the political spectrum that long opposed MMT: the banking and financial sector, especially the Republicans. But what is applauded is in many ways something quite different than the leading MMT advocates have long supported.

Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) was developed to explain the logic of running government budget deficits to increase demand in the economy’s consumption and capital investment sectors so as to maintain full employment. But the enormous U.S. federal budget deficits from the Obama bank bailout after the 2008 crash through the Trump tax cuts and Coronavirus financial bailout have not pumped money into the economy to finance new direct investment, employment, rising wages and living standards. Instead, government money creation and Quantitative Easing have been directed to the finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sectors. The result is a travesty of MMT, not its original aim.

By subsidizing the financial sector and its debt overhead, this policy is deflationary instead of supporting the “real” economy. The effect has been to empower the banking sector, whose product is credit and debt creation that has taken an unproductive and indeed extractive form….

At issue was the role of government in the economy. The major opponents of public enterprise and infrastructure, of budget deficits and market regulation, was the financial sector. “Austrian” and Chicago-style monetary theorists strongly opposed MMT, asserting that government budget deficits would be inflationary, citing Germany’s Weimar inflation of the 1920s, and Zimbabwe, and portraying government deficits (and indeed, active government programs and regulation) as “interference” with “free markets.”

MMTers pointed out that running a budget surplus, or even a balanced budget, absorbed income from the economy, thereby shrinking demand for goods and services and leading to unemployment. Without government deficits, the economy would be obliged to rely on private-sector banks for the credit needed to grow.

That occurred in the United States in the final years of the Clinton administration when it actually ran a budget surplus. But with a public sector surplus, there had to be a corresponding and indeed identical private sector deficit. So the effect of that policy was to leave either private debt financing or a trade surplus as the only ways in which economic growth could obtain the monetary support that was needed. This built in structural claims for interest and amortization that were deflationary, ultimately leading to the political imposition of debt deflation and economic austerity after the 2008 debt crisis.

If governments do not provide enough purchasing power by running budget deficits to enable the economy to grow, the role of providing money and credit will have to be relinquished to banks – at interest, and for purposes that the banks decide on (mainly, loans to buy real estate, stocks and bonds).

The FT Says It’s Time for the Bank of England to Start Direct Funding of the Government: Modern Monetary Theory Has Won the Day
Yves Smith [Naked Capitalism 4-7-20]
Bank of England to finance UK government Covid-19 crisis spending Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 4-10-20]

Capitalism in the time of COVID

[Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 4-7-20]
Nomi Prins [Common Dreams, via Naked Capitalism 4-7-20]
Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 9, 2020 [Wall Street on Parade]

….This is exactly what happened during the last financial crisis: the New York Fed was put in charge of the bailout programs and then farmed them out to multinational banks like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase – who are among the largest shareowner owners of the New York Fed. In fact, JPMorgan Chase, while its Chairman and CEO, Jamie Dimon, was sitting on the Board of the New York Fed, signed a highly lucrative contract to serve as custodian for the New York Fed’s purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities, which currently total $1.45 trillion. That contract has now been in effect for more than 11 years as the Fed promised to unwind that program, but never did, and is now doubling down on it.

During the more than 11 years that the New York Fed has allowed JPMorgan Chase to hold $1.45 trillion of Fed assets, it has pleaded guilty to three criminal felony charges and is currently under another criminal probe by the U.S. Department of Justice for turning its precious metals desk into a racketeering enterprise.

Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 2, 2020 [Wall Street on Parade]
[Pro Publica, via Naked Capitalism 4-8-20]
[Politico, via Naked Capitalism 4-8-20]Too Big to Fail, COVID-19 Edition: How Private Equity Is Winning the Coronavirus Crisis
[Vanity Fair, via Naked Capitalism 4-10-20]

…among those angling for a federal handout is one of the wealthiest sectors of the American economy: private equity. These firms not only have a record $1.5 trillion in cash on the sidelines, waiting to be invested, but their CEOs are among America’s richest executives. So why should they be permitted to raid the federal Treasury in a time of crisis?

The reason is as simple as it is galling: while great private fortunes, such as that of Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman (net worth: $17.5 billion and Apollo’s Leon Black ($7.5 billion), have been made from private equity’s march through the world, its losses, to a remarkable degree, will belong to all of us. That’s because some of the major investors in private-equity funds are public pension plans; at Blackstone, roughly one-third of the firm’s money comes from retirement plans set up to provide for over 30 million working-class Americans, according to someone with knowledge of its portfolio. So if Blackstone’s investments crater, the teachers, firefighters, and health care workers who are counting on those investments to generate the returns necessary to pay their pensions will suffer….

Resetting the Bomb: Another era of debt-fueled profiteering is ending with a bailout. How we’re institutionalizing the unfairness economy 
Matt Taibbi []

A larger issue is conceptual. What’s the consequence of making the maintenance of prices in financial markets a “systemically important” end in itself?
America’s executive class in the last few decades has settled into a Ponzi-like pattern: borrow, inflate, strip assets, crash, get bailed out, start over. Both the profits and the size of the bag the rest of the country is left holding get bigger with each cycle.

In the last ten years buybacks, takeovers and other schemes made executives rich, but left companies cash-poor and leveraged to the hilt. When Covid-19 hit, corporate America could with sincerity claim it needed immediate aid to keep doors open and financial markets afloat.

But the scope of the rescue is as massive as it is in significant part because private-sector cash that might otherwise have buffered the damage had already been stripped out of the economy. As Marcus Stanley of Americans for Financial Reform puts it, “We’re starting to routinize the process of privatizing gains and socializing losses.”

The worse problem comes when companies not only spend all of their available resources on stock distributions, but borrow to fund even more distributions. This leaves companies with razor-thin margins of error, quickly exposed in a crisis like the current one.

“When companies spend billions on buybacks, they’re not spending it on research and development, on plant expansion, on employee benefits,” says Dennis Kelleher of Better Markets. “Corporations are loaded up with debt they wouldn’t otherwise have. They’re intentionally deciding to live on the very edge of calamity to benefit the richest Americans.”

It’s hard to overstate how much money has vanished. S&P 500 companies overall spent the size of the recent bailout – $2 trillion – on buybacks just in the last three years!

Banks spent $155 billion on buybacks and dividends across a 12-month period in 2019-2020. As former FDIC chief Sheila Bair pointed out last month, “as a rule of thumb $1 of capital supports $16 of lending.” So, $155 billion in buybacks and dividends translates into roughly $2.4 trillion in lending that didn’t happen….

…it’s had the result of promoting a generation of corporate leaders who are skilled at firing people, hustling public subsidies, and borrowing money to fund stock awards for themselves, but apparently know jack about anything else.

During a Covid-19 crisis where we need corporations to innovate and deliver life-saving goods and services, this is suddenly a major problem. “We’re seeing, these people don’t have the slightest idea of how to run their own companies,” says University of Massachusetts economist William Lazonick, whose substantial research on the buyback issue has been a cornerstone of the movement toward reform.

The Pandemic

[COVID-19 Student Response, Harvard University School of Medicine, via Naked Capitalism 4-10-20] 

An ICU nurse sketches the heroes and fighters inside a coronavirus isolation ward
[Los Angeles Times, via Naked Capitalism 4-10-20]

Earlier this year, Oh volunteered to be one of the nurses staffing an isolation ward for those stricken with COVID-19. He has since been caring for critically ill patients in cumbersome protective gear that has made unwieldy many of the tasks he once did with ease in his eight years as a nurse. And on his days off, the 34-year-old art school dropout-turned-nurse picks up his stylus and sketches intimate scenes of life and death as seen through his goggled eyes and felt through his gloved hands…. He wanted people to see what he saw, the grueling hours, the humanity, the sacrifice, the hushed toll at shift’s end.

Staggering Surge Of NYers Dying In Their Homes Suggests City Is Undercounting Coronavirus Fatalities
[Gothamist, via Facebook 4-7-20]

But another 200 city residents are now dying at home each day, compared to 20 to 25 such deaths before the pandemic, said Aja Worthy-Davis, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office. And an untold number of them are unconfirmed.

Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index: Rich sheltered, poor shafted amid virus
[Axios, via Naked Capitalism 4-5-20]

This sobering reality emerges from Week 3 of our Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index. The survey finds Americans with less education and lower incomes far more likely either to have to keep showing up at their workplaces — putting themselves at greater daily risk of infection — or more likely to have seen their work dry up.

“Class and COVID: How the less affluent face double risks” 
[Brookings Institution, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-6-20]

“There are wide gaps by income class in both the risk posed by the virus, because of existing health conditions, and in levels of response to the risk of infection.” • With charts.

This graph is especially stunning: it shows the differences in incidence of medical conditions by wealth distribution:


“A whopping 35 million Americans could lose their health insurance due to massive layoffs from coronavirus, new study says”
[The Hill, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-9-20]

“Up to 35 million Americans could lose their health insurance in the coming weeks as businesses lay off workers due to the economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study. The astonishing projection from Health Management Associates underscores the pandemic’s ripple effects from the economy into healthcare. The group said that the number of uninsured Americans could spike to 40 million people, a level unseen since before the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010. The study also estimated 23 million Americans could enroll in Medicaid, ensuring many would still receive insurance through other means. But 5 million Americans might still wind up uninsured.”

How Many More Nurses Have to Die?’: Coalition of Nurses Unions Demand Life-Saving Supplies in Battle With Coronavirus
[Common Dreams, via Naked Capitalism 4-7-20]
Payday Launches COVID-19 Strike Wave Tracking Map

Mike Elk [via Naked Capitalism 4-7-20]Why nurses at DMC Sinai-Grace walked away from their jobs Sunday night

[Michigan Public Radio, via Naked Capitalism 4-8-20]

NC: Sinai-Grace is part of Detroit Medical Center is a for-profit hospital owned by Vanguard Health Systems, which is owned by Tenet Health Care.A Nurse Bought Protective Supplies for Her Colleagues Using GoFundMe. The Hospital Suspended Her.

[Pro Publica, via Naked Capitalism 4-8-20]

Detroit Nurses Ordered To Leave Hospital After Refusing to Work
[The Source, via Naked Capitalism 4-9-20]

“Ventilators aren’t a panacea for a pandemic like coronavirus”
[The Spectator, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-6-20]

“Clinical trials of new and old medications are ongoing. But right now, I am sorry to say there is no proven treatment for Covid-19 infection. It is therefore at least conceivable that putting patients on ventilators for Covid-19 pneumonia could be a bridge to nowhere. Now of course, hope springs eternal. The patient may recover on their own while we keep them alive with our machines. But this is not a risk-free wager. Dr. Paul Mayo, perhaps New York City’s most illustrious critical care doctor expressed the risks pithily: ‘putting a person on a ventilator creates a disease known as being on a ventilator.’ When we mechanically blow air into your damaged lungs faster and harder than humanly possible, ventilator-induced lung injury may result. Generally, for a person to tolerate the undertaking, we have to sedate them, leading to immobility and severe weakness. While sedated, the person cannot cough or clear their airway effectively, leading to superimposed bacterial pneumonia. This is an awful lot to survive. And in the case of Covid-19, the preliminary outcome data is rather dismal.”

A really illuminating YouTube on ventilators, and the (no doubt mostly well-meaning) efforts that confuse ventilators with pumps (hat tip Lefteris):

Grocery workers are beginning to die of coronavirus

[MSN, via Naked Capitalism 4-8-20]
Large scale releases and public safety
[Prison Policy Initiative, via Naked Capitalism 4-10-20]

The Carnage of Establishment Neoliberal Economics

“The America We Need” 

[Editorial Board, New York Times, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-9-20]

“This moment demands a restoration of the national commitment to a richer conception of freedom: economic security and equality of opportunity. That’s why Times Opinion is publishing this project across the next two months, to envision how to turn the America we have into the America we need.”

As Lambert Strether wrote: “Gad. Where have these people been for the last decades?” Still, this is some very useful and powerful graphic representations of the disasters neoliberalism and conservatism have led us into.

It is a nation in which enduring racial inequalities, in wealth and in health, are reflected in the pandemic’s death toll. In Michigan, where the coronavirus hit early and hard, African-Americans make up just 14 percent of the state’s population but 40 percent of the dead. Jason Hargrove, who kept driving a Detroit city bus as the virus spread, posted a Facebook video on March 21 complaining about a female passenger who coughed without covering her mouth. He said he had to keep working, to care for his family. In the video, he told his wife he’d take off his clothes in the front hall when he got home and get right in the shower, so that she stayed safe. Less than two weeks later, he was dead….

Advocates of a minimalist conception of government claim they too are defenders of liberty. But theirs is a narrow and negative definition of freedom: the freedom from civic duty, from mutual obligation, from taxation. This impoverished view of freedom has in practice protected wealth and privilege. It has perpetuated the nation’s defining racial inequalities and kept the poor trapped in poverty, and their children, and their children’s children.

Creating new economic potential – science and technology

The Solar Industry Was Poised for a Strong Year, But Now Demand is Plummeting

[Bloomberg, via The Big Picture 4-7-20]


[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-9-20]

Jerry Glover shows a perennial wheatgrass plant’s long roots which grow deeper than annual plants’ roots. Using perennials, crops that can be harvested more than once without replanting, may be the key for feeding more people while conserving farmland soil

COVID-19: Tales from the Supply Chain

[Machine Design Today 4-6-20]

“One of the greatest benefits of additive manufacturing is that it allows companies to reduce the dependency on the supply chain, manufacture parts internally or make them on demand,” Joshi continued. “And this is what we’re asking our network and encouraging the industry to help us do right now—circumvent the supply chain to manufacture these PPE and life-saving devices as quickly as possible.”

Lonati SpA, a 3D Systems customer in Brescia, Italy, deployed a 3D Systems printer to 3D print more than 100 Venturi ventilator valves for respiratory machines, which are in short supply.

The Pinerolo, Italy facility produced more than 700 components in just one week, including disposable valves for emergency ventilator masks for an Italian hospital. The project was request at 11 a.m. local time, and after a new design was created, 30 parts were delivered to the hospital in just eight hours….

National Labs Join Fight against COVID-19
[Machine Design Today 4-9-20]
Interesting compilation of some of the facilities and capabilities created by US taxpayers. Obvious question: will the technologies developed by these government facilities be used for public good, or will the rentiers of the professional management class find a way to extract private “profit” from them?

  • U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory ‘s Advanced Light Source (ALS)
  • Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry
  • National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC)
  • DOE’s Energy Sciences Network (ESnet)
  • Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit
  • DOE’s Joint Genome Institute (JGI)
  • DOE’s Agile BioFoundry

Information Age Dystopia

The Far-Right Helped Create The World’s Most Powerful Facial Recognition Technology
[HuffPo, via Naked Capitalism 4-8-20]
NC: Peter Thiel is, quite naturally, involved.
Attackers Can Bypass Fingerprint Authentication With an 80 Percent Success Rate

[ars technica, via Naked Capitalism 4-9-20]


Collapse of Independent News Media

Plain Dealer Put Out to Pasture. In Final Death Blow, Remaining Reporters Given Impossible Choice [Cleveland Scene, via Naked Capitalism 4-8-20]


It’s Biden’s World

Ian Welsh April 9, 2020

Biden was one of the key architects of the bankrupty bill, which made it impossible to declare bankruptcy on student loans. The result of the bankruptcy bill is that millenials and zoomers who went to university and don’t have rich parents can’t own a house and many have decided they can’t afford families. They expect to live in poverty for decades as a result. (Not going to university means you can’t even apply for good jobs.)

Biden pushed hard for three-strikes laws, the drug wars, and so on. He is responsible for completely destroying entire generations of poor black men and gutting inner cities.

Biden has repeatedly tried to cut social security. He didn’t just vote for war with Iraq, he pushed the lie that Iraq had WMD, and worked hard to promote approval for the war.

He actively helped repeal Glass-Steagall, setting up the 2007/8 financial crisis that caused a ten-year long “recession” for ordinary people.

We live in Joe Biden’s world. Joe Biden was there every step of the way, creating a world in which young people live in poverty, poor black (and white) men are in prison, and in which the rich get richer and everyone else scrambles to even keep up….

…So when you see upset Sanders supporters, understand that they’re angry that people who voted Biden don’t seem to care if they die or live in poverty.

“I’m a Bernie volunteer. Here’s how Joe Biden can win Bernie voters.” 

[Medium, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-9-20]

….Biden was, everyone thought, on his last legs and had not campaigned or established a ground presence in many states. Then, in the days immediately before Super Tuesday, several of his opponents dropped out. Their endorsements and a raft of others carried him to victory.

This was a message to Bernie voters: “Fuck off. We would rather drag Joe Biden over the finish line, knowing that he is no longer mentally competent, than cede anything to the candidate who is winning your votes by fifty points or more.”

….I know by this point you have all kinds of desperate or righteously angry appeals in mind. “Think about Trump’s racism! Think about the kids in cages!” Sorry, that shit doesn’t work anymore. This primary came down to one candidate who gave Strom Thurmond’s eulogy and another who — I know you are tired of hearing this — marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. It came down to one candidate who wanted to break up ICE and another whose boss built the cages that Trump filled with children. We know how you chose.

For various reasons, you believe that Joe Biden’s faults have been exaggerated, that Bernie Sanders is the real racist, that Obama’s militarization of border enforcement was fundamentally different from Trump’s….

The total number of volunteers on the text team is over thirty thousand. On a slow day, I sign up maybe a dozen people to join us as volunteers. Other texters have told me much the same. You can do the multiplication.

We lost anyway. We were not good enough. If you want to beat Trump, you will have to work harder than we did and rally more of your people to volunteer. Name recognition is enough to win a primary. It is not enough to win a general election. You need hundreds of thousands of people texting, making phone calls, knocking on doors. You cannot be satisfied with knocking on doors locally, either. We had people who spent every weekend busing into neighboring states. I know this would be harder for Biden voters, who are generally older than us and may, like Joe, have mixed feelings about busing. Have you ever met a Hmong or a Bhutanese person? We had organizers working with them. You have won the black vote, but you cannot take anyone else for granted….

You are not going to persuade anyone even by calling Biden the lesser evil: He was in power ten times longer than Donald Trump, and in that time his signal achievements in bipartisanship were a crime bill that imprisoned much of a generation of black men and a war that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. The argument that Trump is worse depends on what you predict Trump will do in a second term, and no one is listening to your predictions anymore.

“Barack Obama wins the Democratic primary” 
[Politico, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 4-11-20]

“Obama had a delicate task. Everyone knew whom he preferred, and yet he could not be seen as helping organize the massive party-wide show of force in favor of Biden that emerged from South Carolina through Super Tuesday. Obama’s aides forcefully reiterated that he was scrupulously not intervening. But some of his aides now concede that behind the scenes Obama played a role in nudging things in Biden’s direction at the crucial moment when the Biden team was organizing former candidates to coalesce around Biden.” …. “Released from his self-imposed neutrality, the former president will soon make the case for Biden that Biden has had trouble making himself.”

Lambert Strether:  “Neutrality,” for pity’s sake. Everybody knew what Obama wanted, and the article is full of details that prove it.


The New Populist Right Imagines a Post-Pandemic America

Matt Stoller [BIG, via Naked Capitalism 4-8-20]
Unlike Democratic Party elites, who are gleefully engaging in more hippie punching until morale improves, there are seismic shifts in the policy discussion among the Republican Party elites. In my view, these shifts portend the widespread adoption of Trump’s populist economic critique of American capitalism, such as the slavish devotion to free trade and opposition to labor rights. If this actually occurs, the Republicans will flank Biden and the Democrats to the left in November. And if they actually implement these ideas, they will establish at least a generation of Republican political dominance that will allow them to dismantle what’s left of voting rights, continue to roll back minority and gay rights, and put in place more elements a christianist theocracy. In other words, a white supremacists state based on the political support generated by relieving the working class of the worst features of “free market” capitalism. 

…The plan starts by mimicking what Denmark and the UK have done, which is to offer payroll support to firms to keep workers employed instead of offering welfare to the newly unemployed. But it also includes a firm crackdown on Wall Street and mergers, and inducements to begin making things in America again. In some ways, it is the outline of a New Deal-style arrangement, taking power from the financiers and returning it to private businesses, workers, and public institutions….

There are also more industrial policy-style components, like local content requirement rules for medicine and medical equipment, subsidies for firms who want to build industrial ecosystems domestically, and Federal-backed low interest lending for capital equipment financing.


April 12th US Covid Data


April 13th US Covid Data


  1. Zachary Smith

    The amount of free time I’ve had to look at blogs has increased a lot since the start of the Indiana “lock-down”. Because of this my attitude towards several of them has undergone quite a change. Consider the Lawyers, Guns and Money site. I discovered this one because one of the authors there wrote fascinating stuff about Battleships. This one has gone from (literally) the top of my Political bookmarks folder to the bottom. Not yet erased entirely, but recently renamed “AVOID – LGM”. Why?

    But the fact is that 63 million Americans voted for Trump, and another 100 million didn’t even bother to vote at all, which means that more than two thirds of the adult citizens in this country either wanted Donald Trump — this utterly broken and corrupt shell of a man — to be president, or, what’s arguably even worse, couldn’t be arsed enough to care whether he was or not. (Some people wanted to vote and couldn’t because Republicans are now simply fascists. This is also true).

    Those who voted for Trump a damned because Trump is stupid, and also an “utterly broken and corrupt shell of a man”.

    On the other hand, those who didn’t vote for Saint Hillary are put in the same category as the Trumpies – worthless POS-Americans.

    By elimination, only those who cast their vote for the Butcher of Libya are decent human beings.

    All this tells me the Hillary-Bots are every bit the monsters as the Trump Sniffers. Brain-dead fanatics are alike, no matter how dissimilar their education levels or nominal political stances.

  2. Creigh Gordon

    Thanks for doing this, Tony. It’s incredibly useful

  3. Dale

    Well, we’re f*cked. Until this whole system comes crashing down nothing will change. I don’t see any group(s) on the left capable of leadership to get us through the next decade. And to be honest, nothing on the right looks that promising either.

  4. I already have one ten dollar bet out he runs Clinton for vp.

  5. Z

    Ten Bears,

    Might as well fish that ten spot out of your wallet now and place it on the mantle under the clock.

    You’ll never get to harness its purchasing power, much less gain another from it.


  6. anon

    Very disgusting to see millions of pounds of food go to waste when millions of Americans are out of work and in mile long lines at food pantries. Many of us wouldn’t turn down a few bags of onions and beans at a low cost. Better than throwing it all away when so many go to bed hungry and many more are confronted with limited number of food items at grocery stores.

  7. Eric Anderson

    I haven’t been over at LGM since 2016 when it became obvious during a couple of pissing matches with commenters that everyone over there was in the bag for Hillary over Bernie. They are all exactly the people Thomas Frank speaks of in Listen Liberal. With one exception — Erik Loomis.

    Ten Bears:
    I’ll take that bet. $20 says it’s Michelle Obama.
    Losers donates it to Ian. If we both lose we both donate.

  8. DMC

    That’s why I gave up on LGM some time back. The had some interesting writers, but Loomis and Lemieux are such utterly unctious Blue Dogs that they just made it not worth the trip.

  9. Eric Anderson

    Yes. All their politics suck. Loomis’s redeeming quality is his weekly focus on an environmental topic and his labor history pieces.

    Now, let’s have some more folks put their money on vp for Ian.

    “Come on boys and wager, if you have got the time.
    If you’ve got a dollar, boys come lay it on the line.”

  10. Eric Anderson

    Do you forget the two simple rules of neoliberalism?
    Rule 1: Because markets.
    Rule 2: Go die.

  11. Hairhead

    What is most disturbing about the Hilarybots/Obamabots/Bidenbots is their utter lack of self-awareness. In the politics thread over on the Pharyngula blog, a poster named “LeftSidePositive” is imploring — actually, threatening Bernie supporters that they MUST vote for Biden. She does this by addressing them directly, viz. “I don’t support fascist collaborators who refuse to vote or vote third party.”

    Isn’t that special!

    And this person, who calls herself a progressive multiple times in her posts, believes somehow that calling people who are *more progressive than her* “fascist collaborators” will convince them to vote for Sleazy Joe!

    They simply cannot understand how anyone could NOT vote for Sleazy Joe, the man who has tried multiple times to cut Social Security, the man who followed the orders of the banks to gut the bankruptcy reform bill, the man who has said that if he were President, he would veto a M4A bill, the man who was good friends with segregationists during the ’60’s, the man who put Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court, the man who said recently he would pick a Republican for vice-president . . . . I could go on about the awful perfidy of the man . . . .

    But if you don’t swallow your tongue (be silent), your principles (it’s politics!), your policies (maybe! someday! but not now!) and your vomit (of course) you’re a fascist. And then they cry, “Why don’t you vote for us/me/Der Golem?!”

    They are as deluded and unself-conscious as the most deranged Trumpie.

  12. Eric – done, almost. I’ll not stand the twenty – she clearly has no interest – but I’ll stuff another ten spot into the barrel of that old 30/30 hanging over the mantle. The game remains the same.

    G’ma taught me if you’ve got nothing good to say it’s probably best not to say anything. I’ve got nothing to say about Pretentious, Pop-Pistols and Peanuts. They know all there is to know, just ask, they’ll tell you so.

    That whole attitude cost the dems my vote last time, it’s looking like it’s going to cost them my vote this time. I’ve been writing in Mickey Mouse since 1984.

  13. nihil obstet

    When I used to go to LGM in the early Obama era, Loomis did good pieces on labor. The political pieces, especially by Lemieux, were all aggressive apologetics for Obama. Obama was the most progressive leader ever, stymied by Republicans, despite the supermajority Democratic Congress of 2008-2010. You believed in magic if you thought he could actually advance progressive policies.

    A Biden Clinton ticket. Even the DNC ought to be able to see the problems with that. Unless they’re going for hands down worst electoral ticket in history.

  14. Ché Pasa

    I’m sure some of those who are now saying they’ll “never vote for a Democrat again” have never voted for a Democrat to begin with. It’s all part of the influence-game. Who can be persuaded (again) that Democrat (sic) perfidy is the Worst Evah, and it’s better to vote for Trump or not vote at all. Because betrayal.

    This has long been NC’s brand, among online others. The idea of bringing down, destroying or punishing the Democrat (sic) Party for its many manifest failings and betrayals of course predates the Internet. It was part of the early intranet development days, and it’s still deeply embedded in the DNA of current online opinion and commentary.

    For some unknown reason, it never seems to occur to these opinion leaders to apply similar determination to the Republican Party and its full-blown psychotic leadership. Never. Even among so-called ‘progressive’ sites (cf: dKos among others) there is almost no consideration of destroying the Republican Party or of doing more than removing Trump et al (through standard elections since impeachment and yowling don’t work). Instead, it’s all about finding/making “better” (ie: saner) Republicans. Eventually, so the thinking in some ‘progressive’ circles goes, through who knows how many election cycles, we’ll get to a better outcome with Dems and Rs achieving something like the parity they had in some halcyon era long past. Which was when exactly?

    Oh, and one day we’ll take back the media, too. And the Empire will fall.

    Decades of frustration later, it should start to be obvious that though the system that sustains the politics and media we have may shudder from time to time, as it’s shuddering now, little that we do or don’t do is making much of a difference, except perhaps in our own minds.

    Trump may get a second term or some Democrat (probably not Biden) may replace him, but the fundamentals won’t change to any substantial extent because of who’s in charge. Instead, major changes, if there are any, will come from outside, whether it’s the continuation of the Outbreak, or demands from the oligarchy, or contrariwise, the refusal of the poor and downtrodden rabble to be sacrificed for the comfort and convenience of their betters.

    Leaders, politics and media will lag behind and given their inherent dysfunction may never catch up. The financial and economic implosion on the horizon that can’t be stopped or reversed will have more influence than anything else. How we come out of it on the other side is an open question, but it’s more and more obvious that our institutions and systems can’t sustain themselves through many more shocks and crises.

    Even Stoller seems resigned to welcoming the arrival of our full-on fascist overlords, for what other option is there?

  15. Astrid

    Voluntary or involuntary human extinction seems like the best option, honestly. Even if physical reality or outrageous good luck allow us to muddle through and destroy the FIRE parasites without killing the host, human history show that’s just a temporary reprieve. There was a lot of resources and good intent and a subdued overclass taxed at 90%. Yet that was ditched only a little more than a generation later. I don’t think we can trust humans, collectively, to do the right/non-evil thing. We’re just monkeys with a runaway ability to rationalize our behavior.

    The socialists had the entire 19th and 20th century to try and come up with some way to improve humans. It kinda worked for a little while in a few small, homogenous, cosseted countries in northern Europe, but even that little bit of progress is getting eroded, see Swedish and Dutch COVID19 responses. We can’t help but be terrible collectively. Can’t think my way out of it. Only thing I can do is at least not personally procreate and contribute to continuation of this cruel mess.

  16. nihil obstet

    For some unknown reason, it never seems to occur to these opinion leaders to apply similar determination to the Republican Party and its full-blown psychotic leadership. Never.

    Really? Remember after the Supreme Court coup of 2000, progressive House members tried to challenge the awarding of the presidency to the Republican Bush, and Al Gore himself as president of the Senate would not recognize them. The Senate Democrats held and the Republicans successfully stole an illegal election. And you say “Never”?

    How about in 2008, after Bush had thoroughly trashed the Republican “brand”, Obama devoted lots of time to rehabilitating it. We lefties were absolutely screaming “Prosecute the war crimes. Prosecute the illegal domestic spying. Prosecute all the lawbreaking.” Obama said, “Look forward, not back” and normalized it all. When Obama made his November victory speech, he praised Republicans. Here’s just one section:

    Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House – a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share,

    Obama refused to push a progressive agenda, arguing that it would only be good if it was “bipartisan”. While voters gave the Democrats the largest majority in both the Senate and House that either party had had in our lifetimes and the presidency, the Democrats gave the Republicans veto power over any Democratic legislation and the presumption of cooperation on any Republican legislation. The total betrayal of the electorate resulted in the Democrats losing over 1,000 state and local elective offices in the next 8 years.

    If Democratic leadership wants it to occur to leftists to punish the psychotic leadership of the Republican party, then the Democratic leadership needs to show the way, and not just with fundraising click-insults during elections. Quit agreeing to things like Chuck Schumer’s policy of letting Republicans bring in slates of 10 Federalist Society judgeship nominations at a time to fill the seats that the Democrats left empty to please Republicans.

    You have a strange definition of “Never”.

  17. Joan

    I’ll set aside ten for the Minnesota lady who ate her salad with a comb. Losers send the money to Ian.

  18. Z

    Amy K’s Swiss Army Komb …


  19. Aqua Lung

    How many times must it be said. This is now well beyond politics. Politics isn’t the way out. It only serves to cement us more securely in the mire.

    Entertain this notion. How much fundamentally different would the recent legislation in response to this pandemic crisis have been if it was a Dem POTUS instead of Trump? I submit there would have been little fundamental difference. Despite the shade, be it red or orange, it’s still just lipstick on a filthy dirty pig.

    What is the true origin of this NOVEL corona virus? Will we ever know? Why won’t China reveal patient zero? Did it really jump from bat to human? So many strains of it in America. Five at least and counting. Why?

  20. Aqua Lung

    One big lesson we are all learning from this crisis if we didn’t learn it already is, America is not a country or a nation in the sincere truest sense of that concept. America is no more and it never was what the hype proclaimed it was. It’s a mere ghost of its former self even if that self was boastful propagandistic puffery. Pathetic in every way. Despicable. Criminal. And to think, the criminal kleptocrats in charge have the ability to blow up the world ten times over. America has become death, the destroyer of worlds. The again, maybe this world needs to be destroyed. Maybe not even maybe. Maybe certainly.

    I wonder, has Mark finished his sci-fi novel yet that he used as an excuse to walk back his daring commentary last week in order to not piss off McKesson? Let us know when you finish it, Mark. I’m sure we all want to buy a copy.

  21. Z

    As far as hope on the right, I’d have to say Josh Hawley seems to have some principles above and beyond what’s best for Wall Street and corporate Amerika, and has some humanity to him.


  22. Benjamin


    Liberals have been reduced to a man who is literally losing his mind as their candidate. That’s a bigger insult and condemnation of them and their worldview than anything any of us could come up with. Let them screech and chatter. Leave them to their idiocy and descent into irrelevance.

    I care about policies, a concept completely alien to the average Liberal. I wouldn’t vote for Biden if he was literally the only one on the ballot.

  23. Ché Pasa

    Indeed, nihil, never. None of the examples you cite in any way suggest the kind of visceral destructive urge toward Republicans, no matter how horrible they are, as we often see expressed on the internet toward Democrats. Instead, it’s all about either correcting a wrong or other (thus the institutionalization of the notion that it is up to Democrats to fix the messes the Rs get us into) or making the Republican Party somehow “better” — thus correcting it from the error of its ways.

    The problem, as I see it, is that neither political party is redeemable, and the system they prop up and serve ensures that almost nothing we the rabble think is important to our own or our community’s benefit or survival is ever implemented. Or if something is implemented to benefit the masses, it will be only after generations of struggle and failure.

    Or because of a crisis like the current one.

    Funny, it’s not like that for the overclass. As a rule, they get whatever they want whenever they want it, just because why shouldn’t they?

    This is true regardless of which party has the reins or which president rules.

    So sure, let’s destroy the Dems because they are weakest, and they are the most worstest betrayers of we the rabble, and let’s submit to one-party Republican rule because they’re the only ones who tell the truth and put the Devil to shame.

    And if it doesn’t work out well, fight them. Or something.

  24. Eric Anderson

    Ten Bears:
    Fair enough. Bet remains a ten-spot.
    My reasoning on the M.O. pick is that it keeps B.O. in the Whitehouse. She doesn’t need experience. Her husband has it. Plus, her likability rating are through the roof. If they win, he’ll be the second 4-term president.

    So, for the record we have:

    Ten Bears: The Hilldo
    Eric: Michelle Obama
    Joan: Klobuchar

    Z? Was that a Klobuchar vote?

  25. Mojave Wolf

    @Che — re: who hates who more–not speaking for anyone else but myself —

    I will say, given the choice of some open enemy charging me with an ax while yelling “die die die kill kill kill” (a slight exaggeration of your idea of Republicans, and my idea of some Republicans, like say Pence, which is part of why I think the impeachment crazy is crazy), and someone constantly claiming they are my friend and ally whilst constantly trying to either manipulate me into ruin or slide the stiletto into my kidney (my view, not exaggerated, of the D’s) I confess, I’d WAY rather deal with the dude charging me with the ax yelling “die kill”. For multiple reasons. I would also find him less loathsome from an abstract perspective as well.

    There is the perception, right or wrong, that the R’s are more honest about who they are, which doesn’t make them the lesser evil but it makes them the less annoying evil.

    I don’t have much hope for either, which is why I’m not spending a whole bunch of time on “why I think Rs are at this point the lesser obstacle to hope”. (which is a whole different thing than, “whose policies assuming neither would end the world are the slightly better if we can never change them”, tho even that is no longer the easy argument for Ds that it once was, in part because it’s really hard to trust either side to have a consistent policy).

    On a similar, side note on lesser evils, not related to what Che said coz I haven’t seen him do this, or don’t remember him doing it at least, a lot of D types who keep telling us to vote for lesser evils need to be careful, as I told the HRC crowd in 2016, coz who some of us think is the lesser evil might surprise them.

    Still evil tho, so don’t feel like making their case.

    IY’all vote for whoever you want to, or don’t vote. I personally will be pulling for Biden or whoever to lose, not for anyone to win.

    Everyone from Aqua Lung to Reality Checker back in the day sort of has a point on how politics may no longer be a viable solution, but I’m not making the case there either, because the alternatives are unlikely to work, and because I’m not about to lead that charge personally and I’m not going to tell someone else to stick their neck out in a lost cause if I’m not willing to do either. Some of us got people we care about, so no hopeless causes with near certain awful outcomes.

    Leaving . . . “pray for miracle / supernatural and/or alien intervention and /or black swan event that pushes things in unexpected direction / hope some of the ruling class gets sane and forward looking / hope my analysis of things is very wrong”

    There ya go.

  26. Jace

    There has to be someone for the “historical moment” people to talk about, esp. on MSNBC and CNN.

    Klobuchar, Warren, Clinton don’t cut it. Clinton has the loser stink that not even PUMAs can ignore anymore. Warren really does turn people off and there’s no getting around a third place home state finish. Klobuchar appeals to who in the states Biden has to pull/protect from Trump, like PA, FLA, NV, MO, CO and NM? (Unless Biden’s handler’s strategy is “count on lesser-evilism and flipping WI and MN”, which us pretty stupid.)

    Buttigieg, maybe; except for Biden’s “promise.”

    Maybe done bad money has to go to cover Harris and Grisham, then.

  27. Astrid

    Are more bets being taken? Tenner I say Biden will soon have a health/family concern that has absolutely nothing to do with his mental acuity and needs to spend more time with… himself. He’ll replaced with Cuomo because, why settle for a lesser evil? Cuomo’s ego is probably too big for an Obama or a Clinton, so Amy or Pete for VP.

  28. nihil obstet

    Che pasa, “prosecute them for war crimes” is about as visceral a destructive urge as I can imagine. Not to see that suggests a filter on the meaning and intent of what’s read.

    The Republicans are evil. The Democrats con you to accept the evil.

  29. it doesn’t sound like it, Astrid, but maybe.

    I’m pretty tired of New Yorkers.

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