By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflectaions on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune
Key dates coming fast now, so I added some counters:
Some of the next primaries. (I picked the major dates; here is a complete calendar.)
We encourage readers to play around with the charts; they are dynamic, and there are a lot of settings, more than I can usefully show here. Here is a link to alert reader dk’s project. You can also file bug reports or feature requests using the same contact process as for Plants, below. Thanks — but no promises!
I don’t think there’s any point in doing a national poll, since it’s only the states in the next tranche of primaries on March 10 that matter: ID, MI, MS, MO, and ND. These are state polls, and so they are all small samples, irregular, and bad. I did some Super Tuesday states, but not all. You are welcome to play around with the dk’s project for your own state (pick from the States dropdown at top right). There are also no polls (here or at RCP) for ID or ND. SO–
Reader reports from the ground on ID, MI, MS, MO, and ND welcome!
* * *
Biden (D)(1): I know Clyburn is trying to help….
Rep. Jim Clyburn: "[Joe Biden] was being a little bit too robotic, because I know him. Look, he's always loose — I think all of the stuff about him being too touchy, making people uncomfortable, I think it caused him to pull back and not be himself." pic.twitter.com/pHsTfW5Lnd
— The Hill (@thehill) March 5, 2020
Biden (D)(2): “The Democratic Party’s risky bet on Biden” [Vox]. “The Democratic elite has unified around Biden largely on the grounds of electability, that he’s more likely than chief rival Bernie Sanders to beat Trump in the general election. But Johnson’s comments underscore that Biden might not be nearly as safe on that front as either Democratic officials or voters think. They’re risking setting themselves up for a fall campaign mired in scandal and innuendo — a 2020 version of “Her Emails” that plays right into Trump’s “drain the swamp” narrative.” • It was never “her emails.” It was always “her server.” Clinton’s email server was indeed a real scandal; a Constitutional officer privatized her public communications and then erased half of the server they were kept on before turning them over to the FBI ffs! Though granted the Republicans butchered their case. Similarly, how is Hunter Biden — who I would totally vote for over, say, Pete Buttigieg; at least Hunter has lived! — getting fifty large for a no-show job in an industry he knew nothing about not a scandal?
Biden (D)(3): “The anybody-but-Bernie comeback” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. “[L]et’s be frank: Biden is clearly suffering some kind of cognitive decline. He performed horribly in almost all of the debates, frequently rambling off on bizarre tangents. He opened his speech Tuesday night by mixing up his wife and his sister. He also has a habit of making up fake stories — like that he was involved in civil rights protests, or that a general asked him to honor a brave soldier, or most recently, he was arrested in South Africa trying to visit Nelson Mandela. None of these things happened.” • I linked to this article below, but this is a good prose compiilation.
Gabbard (D)(1): “Does the DNC Have It out for 2020 Candidate Tulsi Gabbard?” [The National Interest (RH)]. “One of the new rules the DNC added in February was that a candidate with even a single convention delegate would qualify for the debate stage, no other perquisites required…. Tulsi Gabbard supporters were ebullient yesterday evening when, in the caucus in American Samoa, Gabbard qualified for either one or two DNC delegates. She came in second place, which equaled only 103 votes in the tiny territory. Gabbard was born in American Samoa and is partially descended from Pacific Islanders. But it did not take long for the DNC to starve the fire among her supporters. “We have two more debates—of course the threshold will go up,” tweeted Xochitl Hinojosa, Communications Director for the DNC in the minutes after the announcement of Gabbard’s delegates.” • Throwing a flag on the Betteridge’s Law violation; ever-shifting election rules emitted by opaque processes are a hallmark of Third World regimes.
Trump (R)(1): “Trump calls WHO’s global death rate from coronavirus ‘a false number'” [Guardian]. “Donald Trump declared live on television on Wednesday night that he did not believe the World Health Organization’s assessment of the global death rate from coronavirus of 3.4%. ‘I think the 3.4% is really a false number,’ he told Sean Hannity, one of his favorite conservative Fox News hosts, in a phone interview broadcast live. ‘Now, this is just my hunch,’ Trump began, before continuing that ‘based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this, because a lot of people will have this, and it’s very mild – they’ll get better very rapidly, they don’t even see a doctor, they don’t even call a doctor.’ He went on: ‘You never hear about those people, so you can’t put them down in the category of the overall population, in terms of this corona flu, and/or virus. So you just can’t do that.'” • Yikes. If nothing else, insanely risky politics that puts Trump’s 2020 election in jeopardy.
Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren ends her presidential campaign, holds off on endorsement” [USA Today]. “Warren told reporters outside her Cambridge, Massachusetts, home that she would not endorse a candidate yet. ‘Not today,’ she said when asked about an endorsement. ‘I need some space around this and a little time to think a little more.’ … An official with Biden’s campaign confirms that Biden spoke with Warren by phone yesterday. The official would not comment on Warren’s political plans, including an endorsement.”
Warren (D)(2): Biden’s twitter account weighs in:
Senator @EWarren is the fiercest of fighters for middle class families. Her work in Washington, in Massachusetts, and on the campaign trail has made a real difference in people's lives. We needed her voice in this race, and we need her continued work in the Senate.
— Joe Biden (Text Join to 30330) (@JoeBiden) March 5, 2020
“We need her continued work in the Senate.” In other words, Warren will not be rewarded with a position in a Biden administration. (As I’ve been saying for some time, the political class regards Warren as an unreliable counter-party; they can’t have a private meeting with her without her version showing up in the media a year later when it serves her purpose. This primary has cruelly exposed weakness, and it is about to be cruel to Biden.)
Warren (D)(3): “I campaigned hard for Elizabeth Warren. Don’t tell me to ‘just get over’ my grief now she’s dropped out the race” [Independent]. “Elizabeth Warren has suspended her campaign and her ardent supporters are grieving. In addition to the deep grief that we’re feeling, we’re also despondent over the sexism that guided swaths of voters — even though they loved her, found her brilliant, the most qualified, the most able — to cast their chips in on someone else instead, in the name of “electability”.” • I agree that the electability narrative is appalling; the political class has managed to turn a good portion of the electorate into the most vile of creatures, the Democratic Strategist. And election is not a Keynesian beauty contest!
* * *
Super Tuesday: The Empire Strikes Back:
MA: “MASSACHUSETTS 2020 DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRIMARY Exit Poll Versus Reported Vote Count” [Theodore de Macedo Soares, TDMS|Research]. “The 2020 Massachusetts Democratic Party presidential primary was held on March 3, 2020. Election results from the computerized vote counts differed significantly from the results projected by the exit poll conducted by Edison Research and published by CNN at poll’s closing. As in the 2016 Massachusetts primary between candidates Sanders and Clinton, disparities greatly exceed the exit poll’s margin of error. Sanders won Massachusetts in the exit poll and lost it in the computer count. The discrepancies between the exit poll and the vote count for Sanders and Biden totaled 8.2%— double the 4.0% exit poll margin of error. Warren’s and Biden’s discrepancies totaled 8.0%, also double the margin of error. These discrepancies replicate the total discrepancy of 8.0% favoring Clinton in the 2016 Massachusetts Democratic Party primary between her and Sanders. This time two progressive candidates exhibit the same discrepancies now favoring Biden representing the establishment’s choice. Presidential candidates Biden’s and Bloomberg’s vote counts exhibited the largest disparity from their exit poll projections. Biden’s unobservable computer-generated vote totals represented a 15.7% increase of his projected exit poll share…. Bloomberg increased his vote share by 28.2%.” • Interesting, particularly the comparison to 2016. (A cursory search on Theodore de Macedo Soares yields this LinkedIn and this corporate profile. Can some helpful reader with a LinkedIn account post details on Soares’s profile? Thanks.)
ME: “Maine saw massive turnout in Tuesday’s election. Here’s how it broke down.” [Bangor Daily News]. “Turnout for the presidential primary on Tuesday was four times greater than the 2016 caucuses. The state had estimated that between 15 percent and 20 percent of registered voters would make it to the polls. Instead, about 45 percent of registered voters turned out for the vaccine referendum, while about 200,000 voters participated in the Democratic presidential primary, compared with 48,000 who partook in the 2016 caucuses…. The turnout reflects what proponents of a presidential primary had hoped for when the Legislature switched from party-run caucuses to a state run primary last year. In 2016, just 15 percent of Democrats and 7 percent of Republicans turned out for their parties’ respective caucuses, which were characterized by long lines at Democratic-run caucuses and long drive times to Republican events.” • Maine really is leading the nation; first, with RCV, and now with taking primaries out of the hands of the parties (who have obvious incentives for election fraud).
“A wild Super Tuesday boosts Biden and brings new challenges for Sanders” [Dan Balz, WaPo]. “The rapid consolidation around Biden’s candidacy him what Sanders’s money and ground game could not produce, and the results Tuesday put the former vice president in position to compete on at least an even basis with the senator from Vermont for supremacy in the contest to become the party’s nominee…. South Carolina provided a shot in the arm for Biden’s candidacy that no one could have predicted, shifting the terrain overnight. The results prompted Klobuchar and former South Bend., Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg to end their campaigns, and their immediate endorsements of Biden accelerated the consolidation. There were other elected and former elected officials who joined the Biden team at the same time. Collectively, they sent a signal to the many voters who had decided not to support Sanders but were uncertain where to put their allegiance. Establishment Democrats who a week ago were worrying about how quickly the field might shrink rushed to embrace Biden.” • The Establishment circled the wagons round Biden, and Dem loyalists responded. Simple as that. That Biden was the only one they could circle the wagons around is a sign of terrible weakness, not strength. Obama managed to decapitate the party, along with everything else!
“The anybody-but-Bernie comeback” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. “For decades, the cliché about American political parties has gone that ‘Republicans fall in line, while Democrats fall in love.’ But for a significant portion of today’s Democratic electorate, that is not the case. Joe Biden’s campaign came back from the brink of death on Super Tuesday, on the winds of a sudden burst of coordinated support from the Democratic establishment.” • Authoritarian followers, as I said. With RussiaGate, we knew it; with Biden, we really know it. What’s really frightening is that the Democrat base is anchored in the PMC; the professional managerial class, which is granted its privileged position at least partly because of an ability to exercise independent judgement and apply critical thinking skills. I mean, otherwise, that Yale degree is just a piece of paper from a trade school, right?
“Thoughts On Super Tuesday” [Daniel Larison, The American Conservative]. “One thing that everyone can rejoice in is the complete failure of the Bloomberg campaign. Mike Bloomberg made an extremely costly bet of more than $500 million that he could buy his way into this nominating contest, and when all is said and done he will have only a very small number of delegates and no wins outside of Samoa. As I said when he jumped into the race, Bloomberg had no constituency among Democratic voters, and he proved to be an even more abysmal candidate than I thought he would be. Most Democratic voters turned their noses up at the arrogant authoritarian oligarch, and that is a very good and healthy thing for the future of our political system.” • Yep.
“What We Learned on Super Tuesday” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “[I]n the end, Biden had the more powerful GOTV operation: Donald J. Trump. Democrats want to beat Trump. Biden is the guy who is most likely to do it. The end…. In the next hours and days, we’ll have a better sense of the final delegate count, but at this point, the once unthinkable has happened: Biden will end Super Tuesday with more delegates than Sanders.” • Of course, the polls say that Sanders can beat Trump, too — and the Democrats wouldn’t have to eat their seed corn — the Sanders vote — to do it. So perhaps there are other factors here than those considered by Walters (who leaves the donor class out of the equation, and attributes agency to Biden). Then again:
Turnout in Virginia nearly doubled compared to the 2016 Democratic primary.
And Joe Biden got nearly as many votes in 2020 as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders combined in 2016.
— Matt Viser (@mviser) March 4, 2020
I don’t want to confuse GOTV with expanding the electorate; achieving that is the goal of the Sanders campaign; preventing it, the goal of the Democrat Establishment. However, GOTV wasn’t supposed to work against Sanders; I have to question whether there aren’t issues with “relational organizing.” Are the relationships being built out into the working class who are non-voters? (That’s why hearing that the Sanders text operation has issues could be concerning: Text is asynchronous, unlike voice, so reaches those with the kind of schedule that comes from having three shit jobs.
Yes, this would be handy. Odd that we’re not doing it:
A realtime crowdsourced map of vote irregularities, like the one Golos used for 2011 Duma elections, would’ve been effective to show how widespread this shit is. But US govt only backs these technologies to destabilize official enemies, not to promote democracy—so too bad for us https://t.co/BKxwkCU0JJ
— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) March 3, 2020
“Super Tuesday: Mystery dark money group spends almost $1m on anti-Bernie Sanders ads across 10 states” [Independent]. “Almost $1m has been spent on political adverts attacking Bernie Sanders by a group not legally required to reveal its donors, it has been reported. In a development that will be of intense concern to the 78-year-old Vermont senator and his supporters, it was reported that the so-called political action committee Big Tent Project Fund, had spent $868,000 on digital ads. This follows previous expenditures on adverts attacking the progressive former mayor of Burlington. The group had previously spent almost $5m in adverts attacking the senator during the caucus in Nevada and the primary in South Carolina. Politico said the the nonprofit organisation — commonly known as a dark money group because it is not legally required to disclose its donors — said in a filing with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday that it spent just the money in 10 states, all of which were voting today on Super Tuesday. ‘Now who is funding these ads? Why are they funding these ads? Well, because we have a corrupt political system,’ Mr Sanders said about the group at a news conference on Monday.” • Film at 11.
* * * * * *
everything will change when the NoVa virus shield is breached https://t.co/wtTwWVNl7Q
— Crewman Number Guy (@Atrios) March 5, 2020
Does anybody know if the Acela is disinfected after its run?
Realignment and Legitimacy
At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please leave links in comments.
Shipping: “China’s biggest shipyard is selling “coronavirus bonds” to help shore up its finances. China State Shipbuilding Corp. has raised $718.2 million by selling bonds that devote a portion of their proceeds to epidemic prevention and control efforts…. a tactic other Chinese shipping players and state-owned enterprises are increasingly employing as impacts from the virus siphon off working capital” [Wall Street Journal]. “The debt is underwritten by state-owned banks at preferential interest rates, in what amounts to a back-door subsidy for Chinese companies.”
Shipping: “Chinese truckers are stuck in park as measures to control the coronavirus epidemic bottle up freight flows. Quarantines and travel restrictions have sidelined about half of China’s truck drivers… crimping supply lines and slowing deliveries of everything from farm produce to auto parts as the Chinese economy struggles to get back on track” [Wall Street Journal]. “About 73% of China’s goods move by road, and the scarcity of available trucks has sent shipping costs soaring. The knock-on effects of the transportation shutdown extend beyond domestic logistics networks, leaving containers stranded at seaports and factories challenged to ship out finished goods to the thousands of businesses around the world that source directly from China.” • The only proxy I trust on whether there’s a Chinese manufacturing data is air pollution data from space, and I can’t find current data (this looks dodgy). We do have this report from Bloomberg:
Rising Chinese pollution levels measured from space are showing a gradual but uneven industrial pickup after the economic slowdown caused by the nation’s fight to contain the deadly novel coronavirus. Though the measure of nitrogen dioxide in China’s atmosphere has risen nearly 50% from Feb. 17, it’s still roughly 20% below the equivalent period last year, according an analysis from the Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, which used satellite data from NASA.
The post also includes useful provincial data, though I’d like to see the actual NASA shots.
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 9 Extreme Fear (previous close: 15 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 13 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 5 at 1:08pm. Single digits now.
“New Hampshire Coronavirus Patient Breaks Quarantine to Attend Dartmouth Event” [Time]. “New Hampshire hospital employee diagnosed with coronavirus broke quarantine to attend an event on Feb. 28, “despite having been directed to self-isolate” the state’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has confirmed in a press release. The DHHS has since issued an official order of isolation for the man. The unidentified man — who had traveled to Italy, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan — went to an invite-only social event at Dartmouth Business School in White River Junction, Vermont on Friday.” • Can’t turn down an invitation from the Business School!
Feral Hog Watch
“Once A Rural Problem, Feral Hogs Are Now Encroaching On Houston’s Suburbs” [Houston Public Media]. “Feral hogs have long been a problem in rural parts of Texas. But now, researchers say they’re increasingly entering urban areas across the state — including Houston’s suburbs — damaging property and raising public health concerns. ‘We have let pigs grow to such a number that they are living in urban spaces and we’re seeing them regularly,’ said Texas A&M wildlife specialist John Tomecek. … ‘Pigs are one of the most reproductively successful large mammals on the planet,’ [Tomecek] said. ‘And because they can eat just about anything, and live just about anywhere, there’s no reason to suspect that the problem is ever going to slow down. It will just get worse.”
Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (TH):
TH writes: “Those hummingbirds just love a bright flowering Aloe Vera!” Lovely bokeh!
Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:
Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.
If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!