2:00PM Water Cooler 9/21/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

I mentioned Robert J. Lurtsema the other day, and how he started out Morning Pro Musica with birdsong. It occurred to me that starting Water Cooler with the latest news on the plague might be a bit of a downer, and so I thought I might emulate Lurtsema. As it turns out, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s McCauley Library has an enormous archive of birdsongs. So herewith:

Let me know if you find this feature enjoyable. (These birdsongs are also recorded by amateurs, so they are an example of citizen science, of which I heartily approve.)


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

Here are the United States regions:

Ugh, here we go. The slope of the United States curve is the stame as the previous stairstep. If current trends continue, we could be where we were August 1 in 30 days — the election now being 42 days out.

Here are the Swing States as I conceive them (see below):

Sorry for all the states jammed together at the bottom of the chart, but if one of those states is yours, that’s good news, right? (I tried the log version, but it just doesn’t convey the spikiness visually, and the spikiness is the point. I also did not include a separate positivity chart, because it was unreadable.)

I confess I don’t have a theory on how Covid numbers will affect the electorate; data welcome. New York and California were hard hit, but they were never winnable for Trump in the first place. Texas and Florida are hard hit now, but how many votes that were Trump’s (rugged individualists, and so forth) are lost to him? Texas and Florida are also rising now, but is the general voter perception that the crisis is past?

But do cases have the same political effect as deaths? I don’t know. I have also focused on cases, because they seem to be the most reliable number; determining the causes of death is an art, varies by jurisdiction, and susceptibile to official manipulation. (It may be that one reason New York’s numbers are so good now is that the thousands of deaths under Cuomo really threw a scare into New Yorkers, and so they continued to accept masking and social distancing.) Here, although I still think it’s bad data, are the swing state death rates, with New York and California added:

At this point we recall that New York is a media and financial center. (Just for the record, I’m not saying that deaths don’t, er, matter; I’m saying that how they matter depends on where they take place, locally and nationally. For example, deaths of despair and the opioid crisis don’t register nationally at all; but they matter to the states and localities in which they occur.)


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

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

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

The electoral map. July 17: Georgia, Ohio, ME-2 move from Leans Republican to Toss-up. Continued yikes. On July 7, the tossup were 86. Only July 17, they were 56. Now they are 91. This puts Biden at 278, i.e. over 270. August 18: Still no changes. August 31: Indiana moves from Likely to Safe Republican. September 9: No changes. September 14: No changes. September 21: No changes. For all the sturm and drang, and the polls, the consensus on the electoral college remains remarkably static: Biden ahead, Trump within striking distance. Of course, if Trump is still in striking distance on Election Day, that will count as a loss. Maybe.

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

“New Survey Results From KFF/Cook Political Report Survey in AZ, Fl, and NC. AZ Moves to Lean Dem” [Cook Political Report]. “There are two key geographic battlegrounds for the Electoral College this year. One is the Midwest that until 2016, had been reliably Democratic. The other is the fast-growing Sun Belt section of the country that has traditionally voted Republican…. This week, we are releasing the most recent poll that featured 3,479 interviews with voters in Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina. While Trump carried all three states in 2020, he is not leading in any of these states today. Trump and Biden are essentially tied in Florida (Trump 42%, Biden’s 43%) and NC (Trump 43%, Biden 45%). However, in Arizona, Biden has opened up a more substantial lead (Biden 45%, Trump 40%). A Biden win in Arizona would mean that he could afford to lose Michigan or Wisconsin (two of “Blue Wall” consortium) and still eke out an Electoral College win (assuming that he wins all the states Hillary Clinton carried in 2016). Biden could even afford to lose Pennsylvania and still win the Electoral College with a combination of Arizona and Nebraska’s 2nd CD.”

The election countdown:

Here is an early voting calendar. Maybe we’ll have a whole series of October surprises, since election day is gradually being devalued as an event.

And here are mail-in voting ruies, which naturally differ state by state.

* * *


Patient readers, I’m going to change the format of the 2020 section from here on in, because following the reporting, opinion-having, and polling is a hall of mirrors that’s giving me a headache. That’s because this year, because of what Thomas Frank calls the elite “airtight consensus” that Trump must be defeated, there is very little genuine reporting, opinion-having, and polling going on; nearly everything has become entirely instrumentalized.

As is well known, United States Presidential elections are — normally — decided in the electoral college, and by “swing state” votes within the college. So to get some sort of vaguely accurate reading of what’s going on outside the Acela Corridor, it’s necessary to look beyond those who live and work there. Of course, which states are swing states is an open question, so I looked at 270toWin, FiveThirtyEight, Frontloading HQ, Marie Claire, the New York Times, RealClear Politics, and the Washington Post, and consolidated their lists. (Note that all these sources don’t accept same concept of swing states, either; and WaPo considers swing demographics in an interactive, but uselessly, since their numbers are all national.) Here is my list of Swing States, with votes in the Electoral College in parentheticals):

  • Arizona (11)
  • Colorado (9)
  • Florida (29)
  • Georgia (16)
  • Iowa (6)
  • Maine-02 (1)
  • Michigan (16)
  • Minnesota (10)
  • Nebraska-02 (2)
  • Nevada (6)
  • New Hampshire (4)
  • North Carolina (15)
  • Ohio (18)
  • Pennsylvania (20)
  • Texas (38)
  • Wisconsin (10)

So for the rest of the election, I will try to focus on those states, and not on national moral panics, etc. (You may also help me by sending in links and tips, since this is a big change of direction, and nobody else seems to be doing it. For my email address, see under the Plant.) In keeping–

AZ: Representative?

* * *

Biden (D)(1): “Biden’s $466 Million Bankroll Tops Trump by $141 Million” [Bloomberg]. “Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden started September with a $466 million mountain of cash to take on President Donald Trump and the Republicans, completely reversing the GOP’s financial advantage in just four months. In April, Biden, the Democratic nominee, had about $98 million in the bank compared to $255 million for the incumbent. Yet Democratic donor enthusiasm, driven by opposition to Trump and further energized by the selection of Senator Kamala Harris as Biden’s running mate, has given the former vice president an unprecedented financial edge for a challenger.” • The donor party…. More: “And the cash keeps rolling in for Democrats. Since the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Friday, Democrats have seen a record-setting deluge of donations through ActBlue, the party’s online platform for donating to candidates and causes. Between the announcement of her death on Friday night and 10 p.m. Sunday, grassroots donors gave more than $126 million.” • Of course, money doesn’t translate into votes in a linear way, as we learned in 2016. For example, example, although McGrath — who is twelve points down — raised an eye-popping $46 million so far, and millions more after Ginsberg’s death, the only certainty is that a lot Democratic strategists are going to send their kids to college on the commission from it. On the bright side for Democrats, the fundraising could be a proxy for high turnout.

Trump (R)(1): “Are There “Shy Trump” Voters In 2020?” [Morning Consult]. “Building on our 2015 and 2016 research, Morning Consult recently conducted a study of more than 2,400 likely voters to determine if the ‘shy Trump”‘voter phenomenon is affecting polling in the 2020 election. The study also examined whether social desirability bias is at play on a range of topics that have been particularly prevalent this year… There was clear evidence that voters are hesitant to express their opinions on discrimination, protests and personal finances during a live telephone interview. And while there is no indication that ‘shy voters’ are affecting the overall national popular vote to a statistically significant degree, nuances in the data leave open the possibility that there could be effects at the margins for both Trump and Biden.”

Trump (R)(2): In the Swing States material above, I listed this interactive from the New York Times. Sadly, they do not have the same scenario logic tree that they had in 2016. They do have a “build your own” coalition interactive that you can play around with. I did, and here is a screen shot of the initial state of play, helpfully annotated:

If you give Trump the Lean Republicans (Ohio, Texas, Iowa; not implausible), and give him the tossups (North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Maine-02; not implausible) we arrive at Biden 212, Trump 248. Give Trump Pennsylvania (not implausible) and Michigan (not implausible), and he wins. I think Trump has a hard row to hoe, and the Democrats could run the table, even with Biden as their candidate. But it would be extremely foolish to count Trump out. Note that all the States just mentioned are on my watch list.

* * *

“Ginsburg’s death just blew up the 2020 campaign” [Politico]. “Neither party could say with confidence late Friday night how Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death would alter the presidential campaign. The only certainties are these: an all-out battle over filling her vacancy before Jan. 20, and already motivated electorates in both parties further riled by the fight…. With Trump promising a high court nominee within days, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowing to hold a vote before the January inauguration, Republicans were betting a Supreme Court fight would veer the narrative back to the kind of social issues they believe will animate their base and draw Trump-wary Republicans back into the fold. Democrats, though, pointed to now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings in the fall of 2018, and predictions at the time that they would motivate Republicans to turn out in droves in the midterm elections. Instead, Democrats swamped the GOP across the board.” • I don’t think the 2020 midterms were about Kavanaugh at all; I think they were about sheer hatred of Trump, which Democrats leveraged very effectively. If Covid is indeed a winning issue for Democrats, then it makes no sense to take the focus off that, and put it on Ginsberg. Nevertheless, if this is how your base feels….

Realignment and Legitimacy

You can make it anywhere:

Stats Watch

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

Consumer Expectations: “August 2020 Consumers’ Expectations Improve Slightly But Remain Weak” [Econintersect]. “The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data released the August 2020 Survey of Consumer Expectations, which shows a continued decline in pessimism about households’ financial situation. In particular, home price growth expectations returned to levels close to a year ago, while delinquency expectations remain low.”

National Activity Index: “August 2020 CFNAI Super Index Moving Average Index Suggests A Marginal Slowing Of The Economic Rate Of Growth” [Econintersect]. “The economy’s rate of growth marginally slowed based on the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) 3 month moving (3MA) average – but the economy remains above the historical trend rate of growth. This index is likely the best coincident indicator of the U.S. economy. A coincident indicator shows the current state of the economy. This month, there was a general slowing across the board for the economy. The economy has slowed from its rate of growth in 2018 but now has moved above territory associated with recessions.”

Housing: “Home Equity Rises Despite The Pandemic With Homeowners Gaining Over $620 Billion In Equity In 2Q2020” [Econintersect]. “The Home Equity Report for the second quarter of 2020 shows U.S. homeowners with mortgages (which account for roughly 63% of all properties) have seen their equity increase by 6.6% year over year. This represents a collective equity gain of $620 billion, and an average gain of $9,800 per homeowner, since the second quarter of 2019.”

* * *

Banking: “Sweden Heavily Redacts BlackRock Report on Credit Market Woes” [Bloomberg]. “Earlier this year, Sweden’s credit market cheered as the world’s oldest central bank brought in consultants from BlackRock to help it move ahead with a controversial corporate bond purchase program. Now, the cheering has turned to disbelief as it becomes clear Sweden’s Riksbank won’t share any of the findings BlackRock made with the very market the program is intended to help. In response to a request by Bloomberg News for details of BlackRock’s research, the Riksbank sent a heavily redacted document consisting of 19 pages. “The Swedish corporate bond market exhibits a number of singularities when compared to other Anglo-Saxon markets,” the document showed. Almost everything else was blacked out.” • What with all those “suspicious activity reports” that Buzzfeed found, and now this, I’m starting to think that the reputation of European banks for probity may be undeserved…

Commodities: “Maine blueberry industry reels from drought, frost, virus” [ABC]. “A late spring frost, a devastating drought and labor troubles wrought by the coronavirus pandemic conspired to make 2020 a difficult year for the wild blueberry producers who harvest the fruit in the nation’s northeastern corner…. The five-year average for the size of the crop is nearly 84 million pounds, but signs point to a crop that could be half of expectations this year, according to the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine. However, demand for the fruit has increased recently, and the industry has the ability to bounce back from the tough year, said Eric Venturini, the executive director of the blueberry commission.”

Commodities: “Jet Fuel Is Now So Cheap It’s Being Blended for Use by Ships” [Bloomberg]. “The fuel that powers passenger planes is normally among the most expensive oil products, but in a sign of the times the coronavirus has turned it into a blending component for typically cheaper shipping fuel. Straight-run kerosene, usually processed into jet fuel, is now being used to make very low-sulfur fuel oil for the maritime industry amid a plunge in consumption by airlines. Higher than normal amounts of diesel and vacuum gasoil are also finding their way into shipping fuel. The shift, almost unthinkable just a year ago, reflects the obliteration of demand the aviation industry has suffered in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.” • Good news for the climate (though not so good as leaving it in the ground).


Twitter selects which part of an image to include algorithmically. It has now become a meme on twitter to show how Twitter always picks the White face, not the Black one.

Manufacturing: “Boeing gearing up for 787 move to South Carolina: sources” [Reuters]. “Boeing Co is nearing a decision to shift more 787 Dreamliner production to South Carolina, industry sources said, a cost-cutting strategy accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic that would deplete its iconic factory north of Seattle…. Barring a last-minute U-turn, Boeing is “all but certain” to move the rest of 787 production away from its traditional base to South Carolina, two people briefed on its thinking said.” • See NC here for Boeing’s manufacturing woes, and quality control issues in South Carolina. So I guess Qatar Airways won’t be able to insist on 787s built only in Everett any more. It’s union-busting all the way down….

Mr. Market: “Dow slides over 800 points while S&P 500 veers close to correction territory” [MarketWatch]. “U.S. stocks fell sharply on Monday amid concerns about the COVID-19 trajectory in Europe, as news reports allege major global banks continued doing business with customers suspected of wrongdoing, and a lack of progress toward another round of fiscal stimulus out of Washington… Investors continued to watch for signs of the much-discussed rotation from high-growth shares to more beaten-down stocks in industries like retail and energy. Tech-related stocks, which had led the market’s rally back from the March pandemic lows, have flagged in recent weeks, leading the market back down from all-time highs. But Monday’s selloff was led by more growth-sensitive sectors, reflecting the fickle swings in market expectations around an uncertain U.S. economic recovery.”

The Fed: “Fed’s Kaplan says he’s worried new forward guidance will spark risky trading” [MarketWatch]. “The new Federal Reserve forward guidance could create ‘fragilities’ and ‘excesses’ in financial markets, said Dallas Fed President Rob Kaplan on Monday.” • “‘I don’t know if you happen to know what the word excesses means, but those are what Pongo’s Uncle Fred, when in London, invariably commits.’ The young man’s face, as he sipped his cocktail, was a little drawn and anxious.” –P.G. Wodehouse, Uncle Fred In The Springtime. More: “There is growing worry that the fight over the new vacancy on the Supreme Court sinks the slim chances of another fiscal package until next year.” • Oh, good.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 51 Neutral (previous close: 52 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 21 at 12:08pm. Mr. Market is having a sad.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Israel. “The Jewish state has signed peace deals with several Arab neighbors.” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 182. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.)

The Biosphere

“Natural gas is a much ‘dirtier’ energy source than we thought” [National Geographic]. “However, the climate cost of natural gas has relied on a basic assumption: There are less total carbon emissions from natural gas than from other sources. But in recent years a flotilla of scientific studies have brought that assumption into question, primarily by looking at how much gas is lost during the production process. If there are very few leaks or losses along the way—less than a few percent of the total amount of gas recovered—the math breaks even or comes out ahead. But if that “leakage rate” climbs over more than about 1 percent of the total gas recovered, the budget gets fuzzy, says Robert Howarth, a climate scientist at Cornell. One recent study found that the widely used ‘leakage rate’ of gas in the U.S. natural gas production process could be over 2 percent. Others, looking at specific ‘super emitters’ in major drilling regions of the US, have found even more leakage.”

“These Scientists Are Studying Why California Keeps Burning” [Bloomberg]. “[Jon Keeley, a U.S. Geological Survey research scientist] explains the rise of large 21st century California wildfires by comparing those that are driven by wind with those that are “fuel”-driven. This framework suggests that while it’s brought up frequently in public discussions, the build-up of forest fuel is only one factor in northern fires; others include land-use and development trends and past timber-harvesting practices. That said, a resumption in the forestry practice of managed burning in higher and northern areas would help. To the south, autumn winds turn human actions—power-line failures and arson—into conflagrations, and fuel is less of a factor. Whatever can burn will.”

“Record-breaking hurricane season runs out of traditional names, moves on to Greek alphabet” [CBS]. • Not The Onion!

Class Warfare

“American Gentry” [Patrick Wyman (CH)]. Wyman is a historian and podcaster. I highly recommend this piece. “Ownership of the real, core assets is where the region’s wealth comes from, and it doesn’t extend down the social hierarchy… This class of people exists all over the United States, not just in Yakima. So do mid-sized metropolitan areas, the places where huge numbers of Americans live but which don’t figure prominently in the country’s popular imagination or its political narratives: San Luis Obispo, California; Odessa, Texas; Bloomington, Illinois; Medford, Oregon; Hilo, Dothan, Alabama; Green Bay, Wisconsin. … This kind of elite’s wealth derives not from their salary – this is what separates them from even extremely prosperous members of the professional-managerial class, like doctors and lawyers – but from their ownership of assets. Those assets vary depending on where in the country we’re talking about; they could be a bunch of McDonald’s franchises in Jackson, Mississippi, a beef-processing plant in Lubbock, Texas, a construction company in Billings, Montana, commercial properties in Portland, Maine, or a car dealership in western North Carolina. Even the less prosperous parts of the United States generate enough surplus to produce a class of wealthy people. Depending on the political culture and institutions of a locality or region, this elite class might wield more or less political power. In some places, they have an effective stranglehold over what gets done; in others, they’re important but not all-powerful. Wherever they live, their wealth and connections make them influential forces within local society. In the aggregate, through their political donations and positions within their localities and regions, they wield a great deal of political influence. They’re the local gentry of the United States.” • A must-read.

News of the Wired

“Vinyl record sales surpass CDs for the first time since the 1980s” [CNN]. “The days of vinyl records being a nostalgic relic of the past are long gone. This year, vinyl sales have outpaced CD sales in the United States for the first time since the 1980s. Vinyl records accounted for $232.1 million of music sales in the first half of the year, compared to CDs, which brought in only $129.9 million, according to a report from the Recording Industry Association of America…. Streaming, which includes the revenue of paid streaming, ad-supported streaming and streaming radio, grew 12% to $4.8 billion during the first six months of 2020, RIAA found.”

Now that’s a bass guitar that makes a statement:

* * *

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: “Here’s a shot of some fairly healthy looking roses in a patch of someone’s front garden from our stroll a few days ago.”

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. UserFriendly

      Arizona (11)
      Colorado (9) ——> CO has been getting bluer each year and isn’t in play anymore.
      Florida (29)
      Georgia (16)
      Iowa (6)
      Maine-02 (1)
      Michigan (16)
      Minnesota (10)
      Nebraska-02 (2) —> Nebraska-02 (1)
      Nevada (6)
      New Hampshire (4)
      North Carolina (15)
      Ohio (18)
      Pennsylvania (20)
      Texas (38)
      Wisconsin (10)

      1. DonCoyote

        Arizona has the 3rd largest Mormon state population (by N, 5th largest by %), or at least did a year and a half ago.

        Politico did a story last Sunday about how they are a key voting bloc that both parties are courting. It did highlight that Mormon support for the Republican ticket dropped from 80% in 2004 to 61% in 2016, and blamed this largely on Trump’s moral inadequacies (YMMV–it could also be letdown from a Mormon Republican candidate in 2012).

        While I don’t know if Trump’s Mormon outreach will be successful (although the current RNC chair is Mormon, which can’t hurt), Mormons strike me as a group likely to be underrepresented in most polling. If true, this may mean Arizona is more of a tossup than most people think. Which is a longwinded way of saying I question the “lean blue” for AZ, but not their status as a swing state.

        1. edmondo

          If Biden is even moderately competitive (I mean if Biden can get 30% of the votes) in Sun City West, Trump is going back to Mara Largo

          Sun City West is the polar opposite of Tacoma Park, Md. If Trump ever went there, he could walk across every pool in the community.

      2. John k

        IMO the list is way too long. Looking at states that poll 4% or less I get fl. Ga, pa, mi, nc, oh. If all others go per polls trump needs 5/6, but must include the biggie Fl.
        IMO doable if 2% shy trump voters is real. especially if he appoints a Hispanic woman, which is why he might go with the easy to confirm Cuban-American from Fl, she got a huge majority when he elevated her to the fed circuit last year. And a Hispanic might boost him in several other states, too.
        Just the distraction from Covid he needs.

        1. chris

          Remember the shy factor goes both ways if we’re talking about a Bradley effect. On Trump’s side, there are people who want to vote for him but know they can’t have that be a public opinion. On Biden’s side, there are people who know they’re supposed to vote for Biden, but in the privacy of the voting booth will vote for Trump. And vice versa. The estimates are that it is more likely Trump has shy voters and not Biden because Trump is such a polarizing figure. I guess we’ll see.

          But the biggest issue with all this polling right now is, what is anyone using for a likely voter model? Because with Covid, barriers to voting, and two candidates that no one likes, I have no idea how anyone with a shred of intellectual honesty could apply the same metrics to demographics and say that they know who is likely to vote and how many of them will vote for whom. The issues with that kind of modeling and analysis have to dwarf whatever marginal effect shy voters are thought to have.

  1. WobblyTelomeres

    What prevents Lindsey Graham from holding a Senate Judiciary Committee vote within a day or two of Trump’s Barrett announcement? Tradition? Committee rules? Decency?

        1. Carolinian

          Oh ‘c’mon. Can we stipulate that calling Lindsey Graham gay is the last acceptable form of gay baiting? Or maybe that would be calling Trump and Putin gay (yes you Stephen Colbert).

          Graham is a war monger and a terrible senator but the case for gay hypocrite is thin. And even if that’s not true ad hominem is the lowest form of argument IMO.

          1. ambrit

            Sorry, but triangulation is the lowest form of argument, followed by idpol, then ad hominem.
            Is Lindsey Graham still “in the closet?” Since he comes from a Deep South state, homophobia might still be a problem for politicos of all stripes there. For him, staying “in the closet” might well be politically rational.
            In the interests of full disclosure, I’m from a solidly lower middle class to working class English cultural milieu. Thus, “risque” verbal intercourse is a given. We have a long standing tradition of “gay lite” humour. Think, oh, Frankie Howerd, or Dame Edith, Eddie Izzard, or any of the Royals.
            Be sweet!

            1. Carolinian

              Ya know when I was in college I thought all the music majors were gay but of course they were not. Now that I am older I know that gaydar is a very unreliable instrument and Gore Vidal was probably right that we are all to some extent bisexual anyway.

              Which is to say that when it comes to Graham all anyone knows–unless proven otherwise–is that he has never had sex with anyone and therefore it’s just a way of belittling him on the assumption that his supporters are Republicans and backwoods Southerners to boot and therefore would be annoyed at the information.

              Let people’s private lives be I say if for no other reason than that it’s a rather stale joke. There are more important things to talk about.

                  1. ambrit

                    Yes, but, as Hemingway is supposed to have said, “The rich. They are different.”
                    I can see my way to framing the issue as one of degrees of power.
                    It’s a case of the “Norms Fairies” really and truly will bugger the lot of we deplorables.

    1. Keith

      Well, they have found a FL prospect who is the daughter of Cuban immigrants. Might be a better bang for the buck.

      1. lambert strether

        So, [x] woman [x] Hispanic, hence social justice compliant! Nice of Trump to extend the right hand of good fellowship in this way!

        1. BlakeFelix

          Ya, they are like Ayn Rand the Communists stole all my families wealth so I had to get a job conservative.

    2. Michael McK

      Nothing, expect it. I wouldn’t count on the Democrats doing anything but raise a fuss, and money. And yes, Joe Manchin would likely scupper anything if they tried.
      I fear the only way to stop another Trump justice would be for 100,000 people to go to DC and jaywalk all day for at least 2+ months and cause such a traffic jam that the city is shut down at least until Nov. 30th. Just keep walking so as to not get arrested and rely on numbers.
      The problem is that most of the people with enough flexibility in their lives and fire in their bellies to do that have been demotivated for the last year by the shafting of Sanders, Biden’s courting Republicans and his promises to keep fracking etc.. Sadly, I can imagine a scenario where the masses rise up and stop Trump’s choice and then, in the spirit of healing, Biden nominates a Garland type.

      1. Jen

        I spend a couple of weeks on a lake in Maine every year, and love the sound of the loons, particularly at night. Since it is 2020, the first night I was there this year, a barn owl perched right outside by bedroom window and had long conversation with its buddy across the cove. Let me tell you, it’s not a sound that invites pleasant dreams. You want creepy? Check this out.


        1. Amfortas the hippie

          that’s a cool link. I’m outside at all hours, but it’s dark at night/early am(duh), so i rarely see owls.
          i knew about the screech owls(western), because they lived in the wall of the trailer for a time,until i kicked them out—after providing a capped hollow log with a big knothole suspended in a tree… and are acclimated to my presence enough that i see them perched in and around the shop in the green and blue lights.
          now i know who else lives next door:
          barn owls…haven’t seen one in 20+ years, but they’re here.
          great horned…normally only in the cold months, but all year this year…and apparently lots of them.
          some other hooting kind that i have yet to determine. saved the link.
          (also whip-poor-wills and nightjars around here…the latter are spooky sounding, too.)

        2. BobW

          Always assumed it was a screech owl, but I don’t know for sure. One night visiting relatives in W Tennessee an owl let loose a cry that sounded like it was just outside the window. I nearly wound up like a cartoon cat with claws stuck to the ceiling.

          1. Fern

            Screech owls have a very soft, haunting call. We hid a blind screech owl in our living room for a few months while we waited for an opening at the local raptor center, and I know the call well. The owl would use his feet to guide himself up the curtains to the curtain rod where he would perch. I used to keep a window on my laptop open to screech owl calls and would occasionally hit the play button while I was reading. The screech owl would always answer. We would casually talk with each other that way throughout the night (yes, I’m a night owl too). It was absolutely beautiful. Perhaps it was a barn owl that you heard outside your window; it doesn’t sound like it was a screech owl.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        It probably just sounds creepy because it’s from Wisconsin. The Maine loons are much more sedate. ;)

      3. grayslady

        I love the idea of starting with bird song, but then, I’m a birder.

        The loon is my second favorite repetitive song. First is the mourning dove and third is the sandhill crane.

        Favorite bird for vast repertoire and lovely songs is the American robin. When all entertainment venues were closed this summer (and most nearby will be closed this winter, as well), I would take my coffee outside about 7:30 a.m.and listen to the neighborhood dominant male robin. He would sit at the top of a neighbor’s towering white pine and sing a non-stop aria for 45 minutes straight. Very soothing.

        1. Copeland

          Interesting, I’m an avid lifelong birder and listener, and the song of the American robin has always driven me up the wall…way overdone, and no matter where I go in North America, there it is.

          Its cousin, the bluebird (all three) however, so sweet and understated, to my ear.

          Love kicking off WC with recorded birdsong!

    1. Laughingsong

      “I mentioned Robert J. Lurtsema the other day, and how he started out Morning Pro Musica with birdsong. It occurred to me that starting Water Cooler with the latest news on the plague might be a bit of a downer, and so I thought I might emulate Lurtsema”

      Here I thought it was going to be this:

      1. Tom Bradford

        Long, long ago before I fled the UK in 1990, Radio 4’s 7-9 morning news programme would feature a bird-call of the day to fill in any spare seconds between the end of the last item of the hour and the ‘pips’. It was often a few seconds of blissful reminder that there was a bigger world out there than 3rd-rate politicians strutting their stuff, hideous crimes and man-made disasters.

        I doubt they still do it. Anyone?

    2. The Historian

      I loved the birdsong. Hearing a loon right now seems appropriate.

      It also had the added benefit of driving my cats to tear around the house looking for that bird!

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      yes! Keep the Birdsong thing.

      i heard a racket just yesterday, and went to investigate. it was the Scissortails

      Mating noises, apparently(which isn’t represented in the link)
      After 3-4 years of grasshopper plague, the birds are back around here.
      scissortails, cliff swallows, more painted buntings than i’ve ever seen…and newcomers, like what I’m pretty sure are Red Tanagers that have moved into the cedar elms in the gully.
      the 60 or so birdhouses i’ve built in the last 3 years are about 3/4 inhabited(scrap wood and hollow logs, salvaged from firewood, with roofs)

    4. farmboy

      Cosmo Sheldrake’s new album http://smarturl.it/wakeupcalls “I’m very happy to announce the release of my new album, Wake Up Calls, composed entirely out of endangered British bird song! I hope that it will help us to become more aware of the glorious polyphonic sound worlds that surround us.”

    5. Robert Hahl

      That is a stressed loon call. Probably someone got too close with a microphone to a pair with a baby.

    6. DJG

      Lambert Strether: Compliments. I have been to that Cornell site, and the number of species and calls represented is daunting. Quite an archive. Plus many groovy photos!

      Notes on our masters, the birds:
      –Here in the north end of Chicago, there are plenty of goldfinches, which supposedly aren’t an urban bird. Lovely call–I often hear them first thing in the morning. If they are good enough for Vivaldi, they are good enough for me.
      –Catbirds are the jazz icons of birdland. There is a dynasty not far from me–although they were fairly quiet this year. Rumor has it that catbirds have no fear of humans. They know just how feeble we are.
      –If you want to hear something eerie, even compared to the melancholy song of the loon, just wait for a big V-shaped flock of sandhill cranes following the western edge of Lake Michigan as they make their way southward for the winter. Their call is primordial–the dawn of time, that timeless place beyond where we are now, or, maybe, Crane Time, which is not like anything human beings recognize..

      And crows. The local intellectuals and wits–and well dressed in basic black. If we had nine crows on the U.S. Supreme Court, we wouldn’t be in the current mess that we find ourselves in, it seems to me.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        about every five years or so, the sandhills(and even the occasional whooper) land in the neighbor’s 50+ acre pasture behind my house.
        i agree completely on your assessment of their noises.
        They’ll hang out back there for a day or so and move on.

        and, related…21 years ago,after i finished constructing the big greenhouse(now a naked frame, because Markets), the cattle egrets would stop by on their way south and circle and circle and circle it, thinking it was a pond….”swoosh…swoosh…swoosh…”
        wife and i stood out there one evening as a front was blowing in and watched and listened to them.
        they finally gave up and went to the real pond 3/4 mile in the back.

    7. ambrit

      Great Googly Moogly Lambert! This eerie avian interlude bought to mind a famous classic gay oriented novel from the sixties, “The Call of the Loon,” by Richard Amory.
      Read, if it hasn’t been banned yet: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Amory#:~:text=Variously%20described%20as%20%22a%20gay,men%20have%20read%20the%20novel.
      Somewhere or other there must be a recording of the cry of the Harpy. That will be needed eventually as this political cycle winds us all up.

  2. anon in so cal

    Apparently, Biden is blitzing swing states with ads saying Trump will slash Social Security and offer no protection for COVID. Whereas, it seems as if that’s Biden’s life-long goal.


    California is suggesting the uptick in Covid cases may be due to Labor Day. California now has 788,000 cases and 15,000 deaths. For fatalities, it’s in third place after New York and New Jersey. Aren’t these all Democratic-led states? Do state governors have no power?


    1. Lee

      California has the highest supplemental poverty rate (23.8%) in the U.S. These people tend to live in close quarters and generally have jobs that put them in close contact with fellow workers and/or the public. You can’t pound a nail, pick lettuce, butcher a cow, or care for the sick and dying over the internet.

      1. Carolinian

        Speaking of California yes, it’s Niall Ferguson, but a long and rather thorough case for failed state.


        It’s like Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” in reverse: Now that the Golden State is the Char-Grilled State, Californians have become the new Okies, though a good deal less impecunious.

        I’m not sure though that his case for blaming this on Dem dominance is very convincing. Surely Republicans are just as committed to out of control growth and restrictions on controlled burns.

        But the Dems are blaming everything including covid on Trump so why not?

        1. Lee

          It’s hard to know for sure when Data secrecy is crippling attempts to slow COVID-19’s spread in U.S., epidemiologists warn. From July but I’m not aware that there’s been a lot of improvement.

          San Luis Obispo county has quite detailed info, including occupational data. Based on what I’ve seen of construction crews operating here in Alameda, with no distancing, no masks, non-English speaking, which might limit their access to information, I’m not surprised at the high rate of infection in that group. My son works in construction but he insists on doing his part of a job alone or with two other guys who are in our bubble. Needless to say, this limits the amount of work he gets.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      This is turning into something like The Passion of The Biden, all of our corruptions rolled into the body of one man, and the body is failing just as he is brought up to the sacrificial grounds and is nailed to a board and raised up like a crucifixion. My overwhelming feeling is one of compassion for the man, the fabric of daily lies he must inhabit, and the cognitive dissonance he must endure as he tries to square the unsquarable. He’s for fracking but he’s also against fracking, he’s for universal health care but against the means to deliver it, he’s for free trade but he’s also against NAFTA, he voted for the Iraq War but only did so to somehow prevent the war. The Agony and The Ecstacy.

      Meantime those who have been around the elderly would likely agree that they tend to decline in steps, things are OK and then one day they are markedly worse as they step down to a lower functional level. I’m calling such a step for our hero in the last two weeks or so. This decline seems to be associated with serious problems recognizing numbers, there are numerous recent examples and this is just a sample:


      Pulling the lever for the DNC and the media machine trying to pass him off as presidential material seems a cruel joke, on the poor man but also on our nation. What would the implications be of a president who can no longer recognize numbers? With wistful resignation, and a heart full of compassion for a man who it appears should instead be in a quiet room on soft foods, I cast my eyes next on The Woman Who Would Be King. I seem to recall that even the staunch die hards in her own party said a not-so-polite Thanks But No Thanks. We know that Joe can be relied on for the complete neo-liberal program that he worked tirelessly for 47 years to create, but what should we expect from her as she ascends the throne? Unclear.

        1. Lee

          If she is ambitious enough, cunning enough, AND reads the public mood correctly, who knows? She might morph into the next FDR. Ever the giddy optimist, me.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Sure, with a few important caveats. IF FDR had embraced the mainstream media instead of going to war with it (Kamala is fully aligned with CNN, Google and FB). IF FDR had embraced the banks instead of battling them (Kamala has a major love affair with Wall Street). IF FDR had means-tested and wrangled over tax relief rather than providing direct cash to the poor and the many jobs programs (Reconstruction Finance Corp). IF FDR had opposed labor instead of establishing labor’s right to organize and bargain collectively in The Wagner Act (Kamala’s godfather had 8 years to raise the Federal minimum wage but worked to keep it at $7.25). IF FDR had opposed the stronger regulation of banks instead of passing Glass-Steagall.

            Sure, then Kamala could be FDR. I think the probability is about on par with swine achieving heavier-than-air flight after emerging from the lower end of my gastro-intestinal tract. And something tells me that if Smedley Butler showed up in her office she would simply call the White House security detail.

      1. Pookah Harvey

        So as the incoming administration (whether Trump or Biden/Harris) implements the next stage of neo-liberal policy who will it be easier to oppose?
        The man with 40% of the population in his personality cult or Harris who has no real popular support (not to mention no real personality)?

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Pookah I think it’s good to do some meta strategizing as unfortunately that is all they have left for us to do.

          But you posit a binary that I’m not sure exists.

          Scenario 1: Trump wins. But you posit an opposition by an entity that does not oppose his policies

          Scenario 2: Harris wins. But in that case opposing their neo-liberalism would need first to run an unrunnable gauntlet of “you’re a racist!” and “You’re a misogynist!” and “you disagree with CNN!” and “Because Russia!” and “we are the opposition already, and you must be some kind of redneck/deplorable!”

          So my theory of change is that one party is unabashedly the neo-lib program writ proudly and large. But the other party is currently masquerading as an opposition, and until that lie is fully revealed an actual opposition, based on the obvious needs of the 99%, cannot form. The dissonance of this was evidenced in 2016 but the consequence was deflected with four years of lies about why they lost and who they really are. The hope is that if they lose again and try to tell those uber-lies again for four years they will not succeed. So hope, and change.

          1. Pookah Harvey

            ” you posit an opposition by an entity that does not oppose his policies”, Huh?
            Justice Democrats
            Brand New Congress
            Our Revolution
            I am tired of the fatalism. Poor me, there is nothing we can do other than a meaningless vote every 2 years. Wah ,wah.
            Get active and start supporting the groups that have appeared during Bernie’s fight.
            “(U)ntil that lie is fully revealed an actual opposition, based on the obvious needs of the 99%, cannot form.” How is the lie going to be revealed if no one is trying to reveal it.

            1. Acacia

              But many many people are trying to reveal the lie. Over the past twenty years now, I have read countless articles in the alternate media whose aim is basically that. The collective response from liberals has been to ignore all of this and keep repeating all the same tired positions, e.g. Idpol = good, muh Russia, “Trump is an existential threat”, etc.

              The groups you mention all seem focused on trying to reform the Democrat party from within. As this point, that strikes me as pretty clearly a fool’s errand.

              This is not fatalism. It’s just calling a spade and spade and focusing energy elsewhere.

              1. Pookah Harvey

                So start putting your support behind the People’s Party. There is more than one way to skin a cat. (Sorry Yves, I don’t mean it literally)

                1. Acacia

                  Yes. The People’s Party got my attention, and I would like to see their candidate on the ballot. Of course, the duoparty will fight against that possibility (e.g., the Dems just got the Green party kicked off the ballot in Pennsylvania), but I view that as yet another argument against them (i.e., Dems and GOP) and yet more evidence (as if it were even needed), that they cannot be reformed.

                    1. Acacia

                      Um, no, that was not my point.

                      It’s clear the duoparty will fight to structurally exclude any competition, but that can be used against them, as well. As Lambert put it, if the Democrats are really democratic, why are they paying lawyers to kick third parties off the ballot?

                      The point is: we need to be clear that we are dealing with a corrupt entity which cannot be reformed and we need to work on lines of argument that persuade people that their efforts should be directed elsewhere, e.g. to the People’s Party.

              2. drumlin woodchuckles

                Well,write off the liberals and find/work with the people whom
                Justice Democrats
                Brand New Congress
                Our Revolution
                are attracting and organizing.

                What if all these/those people were to decide to start a party and call it
                the Real Democrat Party? As in “no liberals allowed”?

            2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              I appreciate idealism, I really do, but revolutionaries must be savvy, unpredictable, uncompromising, and unconditional street fighters willing to do anything.

              Your premise is that Team D can be reformed from within given enough “pressure”. Let’s review the evidence.

              In 2016 they lost to a reality TV carnival barker with zero experience in politics. They reacted by blaming the loss on absolutely everything but themselves and their candidate. They then governed in opposition by voting for everything the barker wanted while pretending to oppose him by tearing up speeches and then spending their political energy mounting a failed impeachment effort for show.

              In 2019-20 they absolutely fell over themselves to make sure the primary candidate filling stadiums championing a timely, wildly popular, and obvious policy that would benefit all was destroyed. Then they pretended to extend the champion an olive branch for his policies. Then when the time came the consideration they gave his policy was Zero. Zip. Nada. Nothing. It wasn’t even allowed to appear on the performative document they prepare describing the things they aspire to do someday.

              So your strategy is to reward said party for all of this with a victory. So the “where else are they going to go?” trick continues to work, basically forever, and the window continues to slide relentlessly rightward. They do *absolutely nothing* for us, and we reward them for it every four years. Rinse and rinse and rinse and repeat and repeat and repeat.

              Suggest the Charlie Brown episodes where Lucy pulls the football away. Way past time for Charlie to take his ball and head home. To realize that the ball he has in his hands is what’s valuable, not the field they say he must play on or the people who will try to trick him to steal it away from him.

              I am not pro-Trump. I happen to think he is more Orange Obama than Orange Hitler, but he is an ass clown who should not be anywhere near the office. So how DO we break the cookie cutter moulds they use to serve us two flavors of garbage year in and year out? Have a think about it. Peace out.

              1. Pookah Harvey

                I agree with everything you say,including, “revolutionaries must be savvy, unpredictable, uncompromising, and unconditional street fighters willing to do anything”. So who are you going to fight and when do you begin?

                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  My view is that a healthy(er) society can be fostered when the needs of Capital, with all of its natural advantages, is *opposed*, and the needs of Labor are *represented*. The battle was joined when the party of Labor abandoned that constituency and cast its lot 100% in favor of Capital. We already have/had one team 100% dedicated to Capital, but now both are. Q: would that mean that we try and kill the natural party of Capital, or do we kill the party that merely *pretends* it is for Labor, and by that pretence acts to prevent any actual representative of Labor from emerging? Lucy badly needs a lesson to be taught to her or she will *never* change her behavior. She ran as hard as she could as *Capital Lite/Republican Lite* in 2016 and failed utterly. She never accepted any repercussions for doing that in 2016. Reward her for doing it again in 2020 and she will most definitely receive the message loud and clear: that Labor is irrelevant, that she can deceive people with footballs and then just pull them away at will once in power and nothing will happen to her. Those are just the macro dynamics as I see them, YMMV. I’m actually quite hopeful, but we’ve got some nasty-seeming times, including screaming child temper tantrums, dead ahead.

                  1. Pookah Harvey

                    My original question was, “who will it be easier to fight”.
                    If you feel that it would be Trump, fine. The issue is that we need to be actively fighting neo-liberalism no matter who is elected.

        2. John k

          Only hope for change is 2024. This year one side or the other of the Corp party will win.
          I thought in 2016 that Bernie would only have any chance would be if Hillary lost.
          I think now the only chance for aoc or some other progressive in 2024 is if Biden loses.
          So though my vote won’t matter (again), I am rooting for the very awful trump.

        3. hunkerdown

          40%? That’s the portion of non-voters. What ever makes you think that popular support means squat after an election? Besides, Harris doesn’t need popular support, doesn’t want it, almost gets off on playing the heavy. The PMCs who run the Democrat Party love that stuff.

      2. ChrisAtRU

        This was indeed a very compassionate and eloquent way to state it. It leads one to indict everyone who put Biden up to this as guilty to some degree of elder abuse – including sadly his own wife. When you speak of cruel jokes, do understand that our famously free press passes them off as sometimes necessary. Remember this from March?

        “Stay Alive, Joe Biden. Democrats need little from the front-runner beyond his corporeal presence.”

        That’s right lever pullers! If Biden’s breathing, you’ll be pulling!

        Bizarre and inhumane. If he does win, chances are he will not serve out his four years.

        As for the woman who would be Queen. She would follow suit, I have little doubt. I don’t see her going rogue against the wishes of Hampton’s money. It will be a quick ascension IMO. My wager is 2022 to coincide with midterms.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          And just a day past the half-way mark so she could try for two full terms after a day less than half of Biden’s remaining term.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well, the dispassionate might say that given how many people Biden hurt with his career, it is only fair that he hurt and suffer now. Karma and all that.

      3. Samuel Conner

        IIRC, Biden was confusing “millions” for “thousands” back in one of the primary debates. This lack of awareness of the meanings of the numbers he utters may not be new.

        Not that there is any comfort in that thought.


        I have read that a common feature of cognitive decline in the elderly is the loss of more recent memory, with older memory still intact.

        Maybe JB is thinking “thousands” but what comes out is an old memory that “mille” is “thousand” in some language, which then accommodates to an English word that sounds similar.

      4. Tony Wright

        So the choice for US citizens is an old white man who cannot recognise numbers or an old white man who refuses to recognise numbers.

    3. furies

      Where I am in California, very very few businesses are enforcing the mask mandate handed down by Newsome. There is an active hostility to those that *do* wear masks. I find it very difficult to navigate, since I don’t have minions to do my bidding and must go out into the world. The poor ‘essential’ workers…not surprising the numbers are up.

      I do have to wonder how many have to become ill for it to sink in.

      Also Lambert; love the bird calls.

      1. upstater

        In central NY State, mask use is 100%

        I was in deep red Jefferson Parish LA (New Orleans neighbor) Thursday to Saturday and mask use was near 100%

        At O’Hare over several hours only idiots with Trump masks had them below their noses.

        In both places stores have signs requiring masks.

  3. ChrisAtRU


    New York City is one of three places that “have permitted violence and destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities,” leading to its designation as an “anarchist jurisdiction,” the Justice Department said Monday.

    Does 2007/2008 count here?? Asking for a former AG … #InactionJackson

      1. petal

        On my commute route, a house has put up in their yard large white panels with red and blue spray painted letters that say “RIP RBG”. smh.

        1. Arizona Slim

          I saw one of those signs yesterday. It was in Sam Hughes, which is one of Tucson’s well-to-do neighborhoods. That nabe also has quite the collection of Biden signs.

          1. petal

            Same here, Slim. Well-to-do strip of houses with lots of signs for Dem candidates at all levels. It’s all so…clear.

      2. ChrisAtRU

        Biden (D) (1)

        ” … the only certainty is that a lot Democratic strategists are going to send their kids to college on the commission from it.”

        Effectively 2016 on repeat: “Let’s be honest. They took a billion dollars and set it on fire … and called that a campaign.” – Van Jones (via Twitter)

  4. hemeantwell

    Good work including the bird calls, and a fine first choice.
    (Hoping to get back up to Quetico next year.)

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Yes!! I do a pretty mean loon call myself from years of canoe tripping. For about five years I’ve noticed you can hear them further south too, at Sleeping Bear in Michigan (northern part of the lower peninsula).

  5. a different chris

    >this is what separates them from even extremely prosperous members of the professional-managerial class, like doctors and lawyers – but from their ownership of assets.

    Chris Rock nailed that eons ago – “I’m rich… but I ain’t wealthy”.

  6. Larry Goldsmith

    I like the birdsong. Could we follow it with The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba from Handel’s Solomon? :)

  7. Keith

    In addition to the lack of a COVID relief bill, Pelosi also sent up a non-starter stopgap bill for federal funding, raising the potential of a govt shutdown (saw via Zerohedge). Given govt shutdown are blamed on the GOP, this could be a good win for Team Blue. Drag out negotiations, have the media claim the sky is falling yet again, this time due to the shutdown, and possibly derail the confirmation hearings, for a time at least.

    Personally, I would love a shutdown, free vaca for me!!!!!!

  8. Elizabeth

    Thank you, Lambert, for the loon bird call. I think this is a great way to begin Water Cooler, because it’s uplifting and I’m learning about all the different birds in my part of the country – thanks for the treat and the website (Cornell).

  9. ChiGal in Carolina

    Sorry for the confusion, I finally get it. The link I sent had reverted and had the disclaimer instead of the new language because it had been updated after I saw it.

    Below is a cut&paste from an LA Times article from Sunday that includes some direct quotes and summaries of the material (in bold) that disappeared. Note the overly optimistic comments from scientists on the change.

    The coronavirus spreads most commonly in the air, through droplets or other tiny respiratory particles that apparently can remain suspended and inhaled, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in new guidance.

    The smaller particles, known as aerosols, are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks or breathes and can be inhaled into someone’s nose, mouth, airways or lungs, according to the CDC, which says that, in general, indoor settings without good ventilation increase the risk of contagion.
    “This is thought to be the main way the virus spreads,” the CDC has posted on its website. “There is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others and travel distances beyond six feet (for example, during choir practice, in restaurants or in fitness classes).”

    Experts on aerosols and the coronavirus said the change constitutes a profound shift in understanding of how the virus that has claimed almost 200,000 lives in the United States spreads. However, the updated two-page explanation provided little new guidance on how to protect against airborne transmission.

    Researchers studying transmission of the deadly virus noticed the new guidance Sunday on the CDC’s website, labeled as an update from Friday. As with some other updates, the CDC made the fundamental changes to its guidance without issuing an announcement.
    The CDC did not respond Sunday to requests to discuss the update.
    In the guidance, the CDC website says that in addition to wearing masks, washing hands and staying “at least six feet away” from others, people should stay home and isolate themselves when sick and “use air purifiers to help reduce airborne germs in indoor spaces.” Previously, the advice was to maintain “good social distance” of “about six feet.”

    The CDC and the World Health Organization have long resisted the notion that the coronavirus spreads farther than about six feet through the air, with the WHO initially maintaining that airborne transmission occurred only during certain medical procedures. But in July, under growing pressure from researchers, the WHO acknowledged that the virus could linger in the air indoors and potentially infect people even when they practice social distancing…

    … Jose-Luis Jimenez, a University of Colorado Boulder aerosol scientist and one of the authors of that report, said in an interview Sunday that the CDC’s updated guidance represented a major shift. Until now, he said, agency scientists have said that the virus is transmitted through the air when droplets shoot out of one person’s mouth or nose in the form of projectiles, directly infecting another person. “They changed it and didn’t tell anybody,” he said.

    Donald Milton, a University of Maryland environmental health professor and an expert on aerosols, said in an interview Sunday that the CDC has gradually come around to the concept of airborne transmission as evidence has accumulated, and he noted that the agency has made unannounced changes to its guidance in the past.

    “They’ve been paying attention and moving in response to research, so I’m glad to see that they’re continuing and that there’s nobody getting in the way,” he said.


    1. Robert E Most, MD

      I would never accuse the CDC of “moving in response to research.” It happens occasionally. This is not one of those times. The bolded phrases that were deleted imply – correctly, based on limited experimental evidence – that aerosol transmission is important (It is probably 90% of it). If so, then the surgical masks are nearly useless and even the N-95 that I have and do NOT routinely wear in the hospital, has limited effect. Masks only stop droplets.

      The CDC is trying not to undermine the mask advice. But they contradict themselves across the site. (For example in contact tracing, they say to ignore whether people were wearing masks when they were together, so clearly they do not trust the masks.)

      The overall data on masks is mixed but mainly negative. Asian countries may have other cultural factors in play. Social distancing probably does make some difference. So does early treatment with HCQ and other medications – treat and the transmission stops. Graphs of country after country show no effect from the start of mask mandates (but do not address the percentage of voluntary use).

      The main effect is psychological, and negative. It disrupts social communication, signals the wearer that there is danger about, and it has become an instrument of social shaming, in both directions.

      I cannot say definitively – like the lying head of the CDC! – but I suspect we would be better off if only the actively ill, the elderly and immune compromised were wearing masks. Certainly not children.

      That is just child abuse.

  10. BoyDownTheLane

    I wonder what birdsong is gonna be featured when Justice Roberts’ resignation is announced next week.

  11. DonCoyote

    Datapoint on political signage from a swing state (TX):

    A small (~50 houses) gated community in Frisco (Creekside). Home prices $400 – $700K, built early 2000’s.

    Two Trump/Pence signs, one Biden/Harris sign, and one STD (Stop the Donald) sign. So essentially a tie.

    A friend I was walking with, more versed in the area, pegged it as a doctor enclave (due to proximity of hospitals/medical complexes), so PMCs presumably would go for Biden. OTOH, literally right across the street from the local country club–in my mind an old money/conservative signifier. But probably not rich enough for the landed gentry.

    As an aside, any other sightings of STD merchandise? They have been around since before the last election, so I am guess they are/were Brockian Correct The Record types? Definitely #Resistance

    1. Sharron

      Love that Loon call. Missed for the1st time in 26 years our summer on the lake in northern Minnesota. That Loon call brought tears to my eyes.

    2. Phemfrog

      Here just to the west of you in FloMo, wealthy suburb, there are several Trump Signs, a growing number of Biden signs, and, the first *Republicans for Biden* sign I’ve seen. No bumper stickers anywhere.

    3. Adam Eran

      Not lots of Biden signs, but several “Any Functioning Adult 2020” in sunny California.

      The more blue collar the neighborhood, the higher the probability of a gigantic “TRUMP” banner. I’ve seen far more of these than Biden signs…although even the income of the neighborhoods with large Trump signs also varies. In any case, Trump voters are not nearly so shy about their candidate preference. They aren’t reluctant to be over the top garish, etc. Kind of consistent with Trump, too. The Biden signs are tiny (and tasteful!) in comparison. Maybe this is the political equivalent of the purple hat thing…

      Also…I’ve seen several “MAGA” voter registration tables, complete with T-shirts (with an AK-47 logo), and large Trump banners. Nothing like this from D’s or Biden supporters.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        We see a lot of similar Trump support in Reno. Also Trump truck parades on major commercial streets and roads, commonly on the weekend. However, the homes with Trump signage, while more common and more richly bedecked than Biden supporters’, are kind of rare. The Reno area continues to have more signage for local races than for the presidency. Which is way different than in the past.

        It will be interesting to see if this unique group of aggressively self-satisfied, overwhelmingly white flag brandishers win the game for Trump. I mean Americans always root for “winners”, right? It’s just….. I’ve never seen supporters of a presidential candidate who are so uniform in type and appearance. And so uniformly uninterested in either talking to or personally persuading the average person out in the Walmart parking lot. They want us to witness their enthusiasm, but they aren’t trying to engage the rest of us from their perches in their chrome-bedazzled trucks and SUVs.

        They mostly don’t care about COVID, social distancing, or masks. I reckon the distance they keep from us mostly reflects their belief that anyone not already 110% with them is not worth speaking to. It’s a demagogue’s cult.

    4. Glen

      Any Sane Adult 2020 seems to be gaining ground in my neck of the woods.

      Which is unfortunate since I’m not sure there is one in the race.

      And at least one sighting of Giant Meteor 2020 – Just End It Already.

  12. John

    If New York is an “anarchist jurisdiction”, whatever that means, and could be denied funds from general government as a result, would that relieve New York and New Yorkers of their obligation to send their tax moneys to said general government? Just asking.

    1. Aumua

      “Anarchist jurisdiction” is far right propaganda. Dog whistles for the faithful. You know damn well they are going to vote come November, and if that fails then whatever else they can get away with to ‘save the nation’ from evil and moral decay.

  13. TBellT

    Don’t know if this has been posted yet:


    “On a Sept. 2 phone call between Mr. Ubl and the drug company chief executives that make up the PhRMA board, the deal collapsed. They would not go forward with the card. Some on the board were uneasy with the concept because they did not think it was sound policy. Others in the industry had concerns about the costs. But where there was broad consensus was that it was inappropriate to help create such cards that close to an election ”

    Something tells me these execs ethical concerns wouldn’t be so concerned if it was Sanders that was the nominee and not Biden.

    The thing is Trump could quickly follow through with his threat of international price bench-marking if the Senate R’s called Nancy’s bluff and passed the House bill. That should tell you who dominates in the Senate R – Trump relationship.

    1. marku52

      Kevin Drum had a useful take on this (for once, usually he’s just a DNC talking point). The big brag was “$150 billion dollars in cost reductions”. Kev’s take was that this was just back loaded over 10 years (in the fine print) and would cost almost nothing in year one. (and would be weaseled out of before it grew)
      $100 per medicare recipient, OTOH, would amount to about 10% pf Pharma yearly profits.

      No way were they up for that. Hence the excuses.


      1. TBellT

        Yea I can understand pharma’s calculus, I’m more so interested in Trump not actually having his threat ready to shoot after negotiations fail, from NYT : “Last Sunday, Mr Trump released the order, which calls for the establishment of pilot programs tying some Medicare drugs to prices abroad. They are unlikely to be established before the election.“. Phrma can just wait out Nov 3rd to figure out their next move.

  14. Dr. John Carpenter

    “She was our Princess Leia”??? Blue check “adults” talk like this? FFS.

    Also, how is it that the death of an 87 year old who had cancer such a shock to these people?

    1. Yik Wong

      They mean Carrie Fisher as PL, in that she was a isolated cocaine addict who had no idea that there were these people called working class.

    2. Carolinian

      So she was like a fictional character from a cartoonish pseudo myth based on Joseph Campbell? Typical of the Hillaryoids that they couldn’t pick a good movie series to name their Resistance after [ducks].

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      I honestly think these people are so excited to recognize the name of a Supreme Court Justice it becomes a rare moment where they can be confident they…well…recognize a name of someone they should know. I do believe people are aware of their appalling ignorance.

  15. Jen

    NH datapoint(s):

    Biden/Harris signs are starting to pop up all over the Dartmouth adjacent territories. My town, which used to be solid red, now boast a number of them. Most interesting to me is that the progeny of Gov Meldrim Thomson, of nuke the hippies fame, who have always posted 8×4 foot signs for the republican presidential candidate have no signs for Trump this year. His son has signs for all of the state and local R candidates. Grandson has a “any functioning adult” sign on his lawn. When you’ve lost the Thomsons…

    Saw a lot of Trump signs further north though, and ton of them in western maine.

  16. Yik Wong

    Rather than post the link which would result in this not showing up til well after the readership has moved on, I’ll just give the title which can be looked up in you tube search engine.

    5 Hidden Facts About Ruth Bader Ginsburg & The Supreme Court (Web Exclusive).

    Lee Camp goes to town on RGB, who like an old RGB monitor has a lot of ghosts.

  17. km

    Around where I live, Trump voters are anything but shy. If there are shy voters to be had, it is the Biden voters.*

    *Tax, title and license not included. Offer void where prohibited. Additional terms and conditions may apply. Some assembly required. Your parents put it together.

    1. PhilK

      The term “shy voter” refers to people who are unwilling to tell pollsters who they’re voting for. People might have Trump yard signs, bumper stickers, and lapel pins, and still refuse to tell an unknown phone caller that they’ll vote for Trump. Personally, I’d never tell a pollster who I’ll vote for.

  18. ProNewerDeal

    I am baffled by the example of COVID in Spain.

    I am using the weekly prevalence metric, apparently used in Germany iirc from mikethemadbiologist, whereby exceeding 50 new tested-positive COVID patients in a week per 100K population is a dangerous treshhold which a lockdown or at least signficant activities closing gets triggered. 10/100K is the treshhold for higher-risk activities, such as bars, indoor restaurants, gyms.

    Spain hit a then-peak 119/100K on 03-31 & was 1 of the worldwide epicenters of the pandemic with many deaths. The rate declined to under 10/100K on 06-01 & maintained under 10/100K for about 1.5 months. It then started increasing, breaking 10/100K on 07-15 & 50/100K on 08-06. The most recent value is of 156/100K on 09-19, a new apparent peak.

    I had assumed any nation & society with enough public health competence, & the peoples’ (government & everyday citizens) conscientiousness & focus to “crush the curve” to under 10/100K, especially a nation who had experienced one of the worst per capita death rates in the world, would not have let the prevalence rate to exceed 100/100K, by putting it significant activity restrictions at least at the 50/100K level. Australia is an example of a COVID world class nation, where the prevalence & deaths (34/Million deaths) never were extremely bad, yet they lockdowned a State when the prevalence did get somewhat bad to prevent a dire crisis. OTOH, USA is an example where there has NOT been the competence to crush the curve to even below 50/100K in all states & at least some states have been in crisis mode continuously from March to now.

    Spain seems to be an Australia seems that morphed into a USA, despite having a MedicareForAll system & having had already crushed the curve once to under 10/100K.

    Anecdotally it appears that tennis great Spaniard Rafael Nadal skipped the fan-less “bubble” US Open major tournament in New York City out of fear of high NYC/USA COVID prevalence. IMHO this seems reasonable that many foreigners would avoid travelling to the barbaric COVID-infested USA currently. However by the time the tournament occurred in September Spain was much worse than NYC & on par with some of the currently worst hit US states like TX & IA.

    WTF explains the case of Spain? Can other nations learn from this “warning” example of Spain?

    1. JTMcPhee

      My guess is that the explanation is that this virus is both quite infective (oops, by airborne transmission no less, it seems — as of today’s view at least) and readily transmissible. As long as there are ANY infected individuals, i.e. reservoirs, in a population, especially of the asymptomatic superspreader type, no amount of serial tamp-downs followed by “re-openings” has a prayer of halting the spread. Human nature militates against the kind of persistent distancing that’s required, especially where there’s so much “you’re not the boss of me-ism“ and willingness on the part of the Ruling Class to force the slaves back to the wheel… I mean, fer crissakes, there are yahoos and numbnuts and sociopaths who are igniting the combustible landscape of America and I bet other places too. One speculates that maybe there’s something like a set of group telomeres in humanity that tells us we are collectively past our use-by date, and are carrying out a species-wide apoptosis. . https://www.verywellhealth.com/understanding-cellular-aging-2224234

      Of course this could be a very facile explanation.

      “It takes a superspreader to raise a pandemic…”

    2. DonCoyote

      OK, some data points and a lot of speculation.

      As with many EU countries, the oligarchy has been crapifying public health:

      Private health insurance on the rise in Spain (2013), Private insurance soars in Spain following cuts to public healthcare (2019), and Spain nationalized private healthcare on 03/17, but presumably much of the damage had been done.

      Spain also had a pretty severe lockdown, more severe than the US. You could leave your house to go to the grocery store, the pharmacy, and the hospital–that’s it. (a travel blog by Canadians who were caught by the quarantine in Leon, lots of quarantine posts). Personally, my wife and I are both working from home, and we were/are walking multiple times per day, just to walk (US, masked though). So that would drive me crazy.

      Spain is also pretty reliant on tourism. It’s about 15% of their GDP, and it was and is getting crushed–144 million euro in June of 2020, compared to 7363 million in June of of 2019 (down 98%), so one would assume they are bending over backward to try to get that going again. Spain also saw the greatest GDP contraction of EU countries Q1 to Q2 2020, almost 20%.

      And, whether fatigue, tourists, or something else, they are apparently not super enthusiastic about mask wearing (of course, who is?): How Spain’s face mask rules are being broken/
      Police officers relate the multitude of excuses employed by people to explain why they are not following the coronavirus safety measure
      (August 20th).

      So, public health crapification + covid fatigue + tourists. All of the examples in the last article are popular tourist spots–it would be nice to have some data from the Spanish heartland (c.f. Salamanca, Cordoba). Of course, if the US us a good model, that is where health care crapification might be most manifest.

      1. Alex Cox

        Not sure that the private health sector was nationalized. I think the Spanish government just gave it a lot of money in return for beds.

        The two big foci in Spain right now are Madrid and Catalonia – which I would guess is mainly around Barcelona. These are the biggest cities in the country. The daily infection rate in both areas is huge but the death rate is very low compared to the first wave.

        Smaller cities and southern provinces don’t seem to have been hit hard by this second wave.

    3. Robert E Most, MD

      from Alex Cox: “The daily infection rate in both areas is huge but the death rate is very low compared to the first wave.”

      Both terms, “infection rate” and “cases” are misnomers. Most of these are simply PCR+. It is a terrible screening test and the false + rate goes up as the true prevalence declines. Furthermore, the virus is in the general population now, so, many people are exposed and asymptomatic, therefore it may multiply within the host, but cause no illness – (hence, not a case) – yet the presence of the virus is detected and registers on the graph.

      The death rate is low because the vulnerable have died, or been ill and recovered. Many us us have T-cell immunity, which even crosses somewhat from the more benign endemic CoVs that make a percentage of the common cold. Others have “innate immunity” – macrophages etc that just recognize something as foreign or a cell as infected, and take it out.

      IDK why Spain had that horrible epidemic. Factors could include average age, diet (but no one can beat lazy fat Americans for eating crap), air pollution, and influenza vaccines. There is a clear positive correlation between the rate of flu vax and the severity of COVID within a population.
      On the vax, see @paulmuaddib61. Or his website, but all i have at hand is the twit address.

  19. DJW

    American Gentry. Patrick Wyman.

    I am sure that an owner of a major construction company in Billings Montana is very wealthy. The owners of major construction companies that I know more about in Butte, Missoula, Great Falls and Kalispell Montana are also very wealthy. This past summer the owner of a drilling company in Butte was selected as one of only 1,000 people permitted to buy a limited edition Ford 2020 GT sports car at a cost of $ 630,000. A friend of mine who knows the lucky car buyer said that he has seen this man’s other expensive cars and they are very impressive. To me this is an indication that this gentleman has a lot of money.

    1. Olga

      sooo funny, an acquaintance bought a million $$ house near Kalispell… who knu there was this much $$ sloshing about in good ol’Montana.

      1. BrianC - PDX

        Whitefish and Big Fork are awash in multi-million dollar properties. My brother in law and sister run a company that provides services for people from out of state with homes in the valley.

        They do things like make sure the suburban is present at the airport when the Leer Jet comes in for the Christmas stay. Some homes have electrically heated driveways. So they get requests to make sure the driveway is “turned on and de-iced” when the owners arrive, with the house is at 72 degrees. Think of the energy required to melt the ice off of a 300′ cement driveway at 20 below zero…

        Real Estate is going gang busters around Big Fork. One of their RE acquaintances sold a 750k property over the phone in about 30 minutes based on pictures posted on the internet. One of their clients told them they came up to the Flathead this summer, because “in Montana we can do all the stuff that’s banned in our state!” No masks, and no social distancing requirements. Plus you can go outside and “do whatever you want.”

        Not a good idea. Kalispell Regional Medical Center (KRMC) is *not* where you want to be spending time in the ICU. This is a for profit hospital group explicitly placed in the Flathead to “serve” the retired population. Single captive market, and no competition (at least when my folks were alive).

        The excess can make for interesting stories…

        1. Crazy Horse

          Those poor Montana hicks. Here in Jackson WY nobody uses electrically heated driveways. Simply not enough capacity when the entry road is 1/4 mile long. The last driveway we did burned $3,000 of diesel per month in the boilers, and that was in the fall. Leer Jets? I haven’t seen one of those ancient little things in ages. The Client with the 1/4 mile long driveway has a Citation for local trips in the US and a private Airbus with gold plated fixtures and a built in hot tub for international flights.

  20. KB

    Oh my Lambert…..please keep the Cornell lab of bird songs….

    Love the loons…..I’m from and live in Minnesota….

    Reminds me that while vacationing “up north” with then boyfriend and family the father of said boyfriend told me that my laugh sounded just like the loons we were hearing at the time.
    Needless to say, I didn’t marry him…..as expected at the time.

  21. Amfortas the hippie

    “…Texas and Florida are hard hit now, but how many votes that were Trump’s (rugged individualists, and so forth) are lost to him? Texas and Florida are also rising now, but is the general voter perception that the crisis is past?…”

    haven’t been out of my far, isolated county in a month, save for the Brady, Texas walmart, 16 miles to the north….so caveat for limited range, small…and likely weird…sample size.
    trump must be giving away those flags…because they’re everywhere, now…in yards and on vehicles.
    the double handful of New Rich folks who have bought up distressed legacy ranches, and put up ostentatious gates with lit flagpoles(!!) all have enormous trump flags alongside the usual old glory , texas flag and (about half) confederate flags.
    ordinary yard signs proliferate, as well…and i’m seeing more and more trump bumper stickers. from 2015 til right around march of this year, most of the republicans i talk to were embarrassed about trump, and seemed pretty disenchanted with politics.
    that has apparently changed.
    as for public awareness of pandemic…there was much reluctance about masks…even some hostility(dirty looks roll right off of me, though,lol)
    but we’ve had a few deaths, and a lot of cases, reported and not…so all the businesses require masks…except for a few owned by the rabid teabilly types, that i don’t go into anyway.
    the mask requirement is merely a suggestion, however, and is not in any way enforced.
    the gist of the feeling about the virus is that it’s either Fake, just like the flu, or here to stay and we’d better get used to it….in about equal parts as far as i can tell.
    all this with the further caveat that i don’t go out like i used to, and my town trips are quick and i don’t linger…also, people are reluctant to talk about the virus with me…likely because i wrote a letter to the editor(something i’m sort of famous for out here), so they know where i stand, and that i’m very difficult to argue against successfully, if it’s something i’ve given enough thought to to write in to the paper.
    a whole lot of the hostility and disbelief and resistance seems to fall into that lovable toddler behaviour that right leaners seem so prone to.
    this toddlerism is stoked, of course, by rush clones on the radio, as well as by the handful of rabid teabilly business owners, mentioned above.
    privately, many conservatives have indicated to me that they take it all very seriously…especially the parts about responsibility to others, like their elderly and sick…but keep quiet so as not to alienate neighbors or customers. This same mechanism explains the actions of local government, who try to thread the needle. none of them want to deal with a bunch of crazy lunatics mobbing their offices in protest.
    well and good…but then i see those same folks out and about in town maskless…
    it occurs to me that this same fear of the crazies is why you can’t find a democrat outside of their hillforts…they’re afraid of having to stand up to the idiot yellers. that this fear has spread to even respectable republicans and town fathers says a lot…and none of it bodes well for when the trucks stop running.

    1. InThePines

      Lots of this sort of thing in rural northern Arizona. Blue flags flying from gauche, stone pillar-flanked, all-hat-no-cattle “ranch” entrances but tacked to walls of manufactured homes. Bumper stickers for even the PMCs. Somebody stuck a Biden sign into the public median next to the normal crop of GOP signs, but I haven’t seen but two or three in private yards.

      There’s the self-consciously private fear and quiet precautions of a substantial minority. Talked to a tradesman who was being vocal with his customers- if they wanted work done in their houses, they could stfu about masks (he’s had a friend die on a ventilator)- but local businesses (and local government) are largely deferring to the deranged. It’s probably a less settled population than your Texans. Plenty of yellers. Plenty of them are descendants of Okies who miss “the old California”.

      I picked up a hitchhiker today (sure not wise in a plague but I figured better me than the boys in blue or increasingly in black). He preached hellfire and damnation for universalists and Calvinists, but robustly denounced violence and Christians who countenance it. Prophesied a one world government. Antichrist as the first global president. Now I’d heard this one before- plenty- and all its secular fanfics- but everybody else who tells it is itching to get in on the fight.

      Cheek-turners are far from a majority or even a plurality.

  22. JTMcPhee

    Too bad RBG passed on when she did for a lot of reasons, not that she was the bulwark of progressivism that the apotheosizers are making her out to be. Now the Dem leaders can say they have to trade off any action on distributing money to citizens (not the corporate ones) so they can maybe have a prayer of subsisting through the charades of the anus end of the election cycle, to get “consideration” in the selection of an RBG replacement.

    I still think Trump could totally punk the liberals by nominating Michelle Obama, neoliberal queen, or like some have suggested, Harris, Hillary or Chelsea (Clinton, not Manning of course.) maybe there would actually be some exploding heads among the libertarian.

    1. ambrit

      Michelle Obama is a lawyer, and such an action would be a very big poke in the eye to Barak. (I would support it for that reason alone.) Unfortunately, she is married to a prominent Democrat Party hack. Oh well.

  23. Keith

    I really do not seem a problem, regarding the Landed Gentry article. In fact, that is my goal, to set up my newborn and any possible siblings to be in such a position. I came from a family that did time on welfare and food stamps (to our shame) and have progressed nicely. I think I can even be considered a part of the PMC in flyover.

    My goal is to set my kids up to be in a better position and move up the social ladder to hopefully be better than I, and hopefully take the generational vision to keep improving the family line.

    One way I am doing it is through my homestead. It has a beaten up vineyard in winecountry, and before I die, I would like to have a winery established,s o when my kid(s) go out on their own, they can have this asset as a side, that may hopefully produce income for them, as the owner. They could operate it themselves, or lease it out to another party and collect an income from the efforts of the winemakers.

    I think my plan is a way for responsible adults to move forward. It seems that some people who oppose this type of generational planning are those who suffer from envious that they had to start at the bottom of the ladder, and at best, they will only climb so high, and forget that their goal really shouldn’t be about being on top compared to others, but really using their abilities to put their offspring in a better position than they had initially occupied.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i figure everybody wants that…for their kids to be better off than they were.
      i sure as hell do…hence the tireless striving for autarky on the farm…because of our limited means, this looked like the best plan(still does).
      But Prosperity must be shared as widely as possible, or society falls into darkness…as should be evident.

      the problem, as i see it, is that so many of the local rich seem to end up with certain behavioral traits that are…less than amenable to a stable society.
      they get the greed bug…or the lord of the manor bug…and burn the ladder behind them…sometimes even for their own offspring, when said offspring turn out spoiled and rotten(or, even worse, when said offspring turn out to be Humanists,lol). they also tend to be the ones in the back room, under cover of the lions’ club meeting, deciding who to smash, who’ll be denied the permit, etc.
      they have also been known to use public goods for private ends(like paving their driveway), and having zero shame when caught.
      avarice is poisonous….and they have no excuse, because every single one that i know goes to church a lot, and spouts scripture to justify their a$$holery(just not the things that Jesus guy said, notably)
      the mean and ugly rich are anathema, at every level of polity.

      out of the specimens i’m most familiar with out here, maybe half have retained some sense of humanity and a form of noblisse oblige. they go out of their way to “give back” and take care of whatever shortcomings they become aware of in the local society.
      the rest are slumlords…quite literally…or just plain a$$holes, and take pride in stomping on the little people. there’s a whole predator rhetoric that exists(and should probably be studied)
      the former’s behaviour more than makes up for their riches, and whatever specialness it instills in their self regard.
      the latter are the issue…they took the randian gospel to heart and are a menace to the rest of us.
      i think it’s reasonable to assume that this taxonomy scales up…maybe even to the very top. so i hereby modify my usual “Eat the Rich” to include the modifier “Mean and Ugly”.
      by their fruits, and all…

      as for common usage on NC, generalisations are sloppy, but are to be expected.
      it’s tiresome when commenting on the fly to include the caveat, “well , except for that one disney heiress who seems pretty cool…”

    2. The Rev Kev

      There is a saying here about going from shirtsleeves-to-shirtsleeves in three generations which you are probably aware of. The first generation works their guts out and manages to build up a good solid business or even an empire. Their children have enough experience as their parents worked hard to know what to do to create a successful business and continue the process. The third generation typically only live off the fruits of all this experience and perhaps farms out the management to managers to do the work for them. In the end, not having the solid experience to fall back on, they lose the lot and go back to wearing shirtsleeves like their grandparents did. Plenty of links to be found on Google about thi and here is one


      1. LawnDart

        Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum– “My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel”

        Context is a little bit different from what you mention; it’s apparently about what happen when the oil runs out.

        Our hippy friend makes a point about his local rich, but I’ve seen first-hand that the same behaviours apply to the “good” families– agnostic, “liberal,” wealthy East-coasters– the exact same behaviours, but with somewhat different clubs and a tad more “refinement” perhaps. They’re all friggin sociopaths, in my opinion, and if our society is to heal they are a cancer that must be cut-out, chemically neutralized, irradiated.

        But they’ve been good to my bastard offspring, giving opportunities that I alone could not have provided. It is my hope that I have had enough influence in my child’s upbringing that my unwitting infiltration, deep plunge or sudden thrust, into their pool of tightly interbred genetics might eventually have an unintended subversive effect– having spawned the seeds of their destruction, so to speak.

        Yeah, the Bluebloods get a tad less blue due with each and every utterly unwholesome and salacious indiscretion of one of their maidens: maybe one day we proles can just (family-blog) our way to equality, with a capital “F.”

      2. LawnDart

        The Forbes article seems imply that “shirtsleeves-to-shirtsleeves” is a myth, but I won’t wholly agree with that as I’ve known some wealthy families that would dispel it as such. That said, in my experience, they are the minority: “do you know who my father is?!?” doesn’t really withstand the test of time, unless you’re Jesus, which will get you a padded cell rather quickly (unless you can outrun them, cutting across a lake perhaps, providing you don’t sink because of the holes in your feet).

        But there are a lot of would-be nobodies out there who are only “somebody” because of the family name and the family money, swinging at the Tree Bar instead of swinging like some never-to-ripen strange fruit, were this a Just world.

        I noticed that the rare ones who dispelled the myth would stand side-by-side, across generations with shoulder to wagon to free it from the muck should need arise: well-read (if not pedigreed), early-to-rise, and thoughtful listeners– I’m thinking of two men in particular: similar qualities but totally different personalities. One, eight generations from John Smith’s caravan (but not a Mormon), a true sportsman and conservationist who was on the path to becoming a state senator (ambitions tragically culled short by a drunk driver, who was prematurely culled as well) and another who’s raising the ninth generation of farmers in his clan.. …some of the best men I’ve known, in spite of their wealth.

        I could mention the others, the ones who lend truth to the myth, but they really aren’t worth the mention.

    3. hunkerdown

      This is the language of predation. If that’s the role you want to claim for yourself, fine, but elections do have consequences.

        1. furies

          That’s the difference between us, I guess. My role in life is to make things better.

          I guess that’s why I’m poor and on food stamps~

          I’ve also observed political leanings informed by one’s view on humans–born innocent and good or born intrinsically evil. Guess which my libertarian friends embrace?

          It’s not their fault, I guess. The culture shapes us all.

    4. Crazy Horse


      You might think about installing a very deep well and and a underground fire system over your entire acreage/vinyard before you get too excited about passing it on to your offspring.

  24. Mikel

    You think the markets are crazy? A Bubble? How crazy do you think it can get…
    Wait for it…
    Wait for it…

    “The 1600s had the Dutch tulip market bubble. Now 2020 is doing the same for rare plants.

    Interest in greenery has grown during the pandemic, with more people stuck at home and bored—and Instagram posts have helped send the market for unusual varieties into a tizzy….”

    Tulip jokes aside.
    It seems to me that people are looking for any type of income stream because there is LITTLE faith in job prospects for the future….

  25. Ford Prefect

    CDC finally started to get it right on airborne transmission of Covid-19, including aerosols at greater than 6 feet in poorly ventilated spaces…..and then immediately walked that back. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/09/21/covid-19-cdc-updates-then-backs-off-guidance-airborne-spread/5854419002/

    A major focus on ventilation and filtration for spaces with people could probably save many lives. It can prevent a number of cases, but will probably also reduce viral load that there is evidence would reduce the severity of the disease if you do get it.

    The irony is that you can buy useful tools to combat this by upgrading furnace filters in central air systems and running furnace fans continuously or buying HEPA air purifiers. The furnace filters and air purifers are available at most hardware and department stores for improving air quality related to pet dander, tobacco smoke, and mold. While we ran out of toilet paper, these are still readily available, and they may actually save your life.

    While the target for commercial HVAC is MERV-13 or better, even MERV 8 or better will drop the aerosol load in the air substantially. MERV 11 will likely drop it 70% or more. So if someobody can get a system in place, possibly through several ways, that will get several (generally 5 or 6 is minimum) room volume air changes per hour with a reasonable level of filtration (preferably MERV 11 or better) then the risk of getting sick likely diminished substantially. People wearing masks in that environment would likely have a much lower risk than an unmasked person. Adding fresh air (open windows etc.) improves the siutation much more.

    So improved venitaltion and filtration could probably make bars much less problematic. If each table or two had a HEPA air purifer by it and tables are spaced 6 feet apart, restaurants might be able to do better than 50% occupancy safely. One or two HEPA air purifiers per classroom would make schools much safer. Unfortunately, rigorous testing on this hasn’t been done, but the anecdotal evidence is building and there has been a fair amount of pre-Covid work on filtration and health, so much of the science has been in place for a decade or so..

    Given the US claims to want to be back to normal, it is putting a huge effort into preventing it from occuring.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i never knew i was, either…but it flowed from the expanded situational awareness that comes from how i do farming.
      i have a phone app for insects, from Texas A/M, but my bird books are largeish waterproof field guides that i keep in the Falcon, Slbly and Audubon.
      I won’t be hiding in a swampy blind for a week to get a look at some snipe,lol…but being aware of the birds is definitely a part of my existence, now.

  26. WobblyTelomeres

    Confession time. I joined the Pfizer vaccine trial last week. Received the first of two injections. Zero symptoms. Suspect I am in the placebo half, but may never know.

    1. ProNewerDeal

      Wobbly, if you are in the placebo half & you did NOT get any vaccine, won’t you be legally required to be informed by the time a COVID vaccine arrives at the “mass market”, so that you can receive the “mass market” vaccine?

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        I asked. Was told I can drop out anytime if I want to take a different vaccine. There were zero promises to tell me which group I was in. Sigh. Figured some of us have to step up, it is in phase 3, and it isn’t AZ. Hell, it may even work.

    1. flora

      adding: thanks for the Loon song. Being a midwesterner, the first time I was in Maine and on an overnight camping trip and heard the Loon song I was spooked. It was nothing like I’d ever heard. What the heck was that noise?!! Next morning, at breakfast, I casually asked (so as not to look like an overly excitable person) “Did any of you hear anything odd last night?” Well, the Mainers at the table knew exactly what I meant and stiffled their smiles and outright laughter. “Odd, no, I didn’t hear anything odd. Could you describe the sound?” Now I know they were enjoying themselves at the “foreigner’s” ignorance. But they were nice about it. “Oh, gosh, it might have been a loon.” “A loon?! It sounded like a banshee!” It makes me laugh at myself, at with them, for they were silently laughing with me not at me, when I remember it.

    2. Mel

      I was awake in the tent one night, someplace two or three portages in, and a loon piped up with three notes from one end of the lake. Another loon answered from the other end of the lake with the same three notes, only transposed into the minor mode! Whuu? It’s like they commune with Miles Davis.

        1. cnchal

          The reason being they tried to save on shipping. Even then shipping prices were ridiculous.

          It was planned that the coin would continue using the voyageur theme of its predecessor, but the master dies that had been struck in Ottawa were lost in transit en route to the Mint’s facility at Winnipeg.[10] A Commons committee struck to investigate the loss discovered that the Mint had no documented procedures for transport of master dies and that it had shipped them via a local courier in a bid to save $43.50. It was also found to be the third time that the Mint had lost master dies within five years.[11] An internal review by the Royal Canadian Mint argued that while a policy existed to ship the obverse and reverse dies separately, the new coin dies were packaged separately but were part of the same shipment. The Mint also disagreed with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s contention that the dies were simply lost in transit, believing instead that they were stolen.[12] The dies were never recovered.[10]

          Fearing the possibility of counterfeiting, the government approved a new design for the reverse, replacing the voyageur with a Robert-Ralph Carmichael design of a common loon floating in water.[10] . . .

  27. voteforno6

    I caught a clip of Biden speaking in Manitowac today…people will dismiss his “Joey from Scranton” routine at their peril. His anti-elite, anti-Park Avenue, anti-Ivy League pitch is much more authentic than any that Hillary Clinton could’ve tried. It may help him appeal to 2016 Trump voters who are on the fence now.

    1. flora

      Except, Biden voted for NAFTA. And he’s pro-TPP. Joe’s Scranton bonafides disappear where Wall St. and the big 5 banks’ profits are concerned. And Bill Clinton “feels our pain.” Uh huh.

      1. barefoot charley

        Except no one knows anything about economics or neoliberalism, except us. The bare fact that he’s been flogging his Scranton schtick for 50 years while screwing all the country’s Scrantons tells you what matters in this kayfabe world. The Donald taught me something!

        1. Yves Smith

          Um, he’s only faced Delaware voters until the 2020 primaries, lost all of them until the machine threw its weight behind him on the Weekend of Long Knives, after everyone but Bernie dropped out and everyone but Bernie threw their support to Biden (well except Warren).

          In other words, his Scanton schtick hasn’t be tested much.

          1. ambrit

            Why haven’t I yet heard of the implementation of the ‘Olde Fashioned’ methods, such as the exchange of currency for votes?
            “Vote Early! Vote Often!”
            “Here’s your walking around money sweetheart! Now get out there and vote, vote, vote!””

    2. ChrisAtRU


      Video (YouTube YahooFinance)

      He’s tiptoeing through the tulips as it were … interesting,

      He’s talking “buy American” …
      – Shifting to electric cars for the federal fleet …
      – Focus on infrastructure …
      Calls out Obama to Trump voters …
      – Promises those voters they will be seen (this time) … Hmmm, ok?!
      He mentions the increase of billionaires during the pandemic – oh, really?!
      – Wherefore art though, Bernie?
      – Wasn’t Joe the dude who said a few billionaires weren’t the problem?

      Anyway, have a listen. Is it more authentic than Hillary? Maybe. Maybe not. The fact that Biden is actually in Wisonsin is a marked departure from her Royal Hubris failure to do so in 2016 … so there’s that.

    3. neo-realist

      Yes, a lot of people hated Clinton, nurtured by NAFTA, a shrill public persona, and 30 years of right wing talk radio hate, yet narrowly lost to a flim flam man who promised the moon, the stars and the sky. Four years later, massively unemployment, a downplayed dangerous virus (“let it wash over the country” “everybody’s gonna get it eventually”), bleach vaccine recommendation, and violence and disorder enabled by a Law and Order President running against a possibly senile, yet a folksy and personable candidate that doesn’t engender the hatred the previous democratic candidate did, and you’ve got a democrat with a decent shot at the white house.

  28. fresno dan

    for the pessimists…or maybe the realists.

    Imagine, as seems quite possible, that Trump scores an early lead in the days after the election, with a narrow electoral college majority, though losing the popular vote, with 90% – 10% losses in the deep blue cities. Trump declares victory. Blue cities erupt in protest.

    As mail in votes come in and are tabulated, Biden gets closer and closer and by his party’s count has won.

    From the article:
    But lawyers have already fanned out around the country. Every single smudged postmark, questionable signature is challenged by both sides. Conspiracy theories abound. Vote harvesting stories are told. A few bales of forgotten mail are discovered. As the key battleground counties are isolated, we have 50 hanging chad controversies, with warring and disagreeing injections by different courts. More protests erupt on both sides.
    All that ends up in the Supreme Court, on a tight deadline. (There are abundant legal issues, which are beside the point. The suits will be filed, argued heatedly, and people will be in the streets protesting.)

    This was going to be bad enough. Now suppose that the Senate has flipped to Democrats, 51-49, but the lame duck Senate confirms a Trump appointee to the court. Protests and riots erupt. (There are already protests, here for example, and Trump hasn’t even nominated anyone. Another, from “grandma, team resistance:” “If he tries to appoint someone, it’s civil war, and I’ll be on the front line.” There are demonstrators in front of Senator Mitch McConnell’s house now. I just googled “Ginsburg protest,” there’s lots more.)
    Every swing state a 2000 Florida?

    1. Phemfrog

      Fresno Dan and all NC folks, my question is this (I have posted this on multiple law blogs and on Twitter with no responses):

      If there are so many ballots being questioned and not yet counted by the deadline, who is to say that the Senate will be decided by that point either? An uncounted ballot isn’t counted for any races! In this case which senate will do the deciding? The lame duck sent it or the new senate? What if we don’t have a new Senate by then?


      1. ambrit

        Well, just off the top of my pointy little head; new senators are sworn in on January Third of the year. So, it depends on how long the “hung vote” lasts. In the 2000 Judicial Coup, the Supreme Court ruled on the basic issue in contention on the 12th of December, well before the Presidential Inauguration date of January 20th or 21st. A ‘prodded’ Senate could do something similar to the Supreme Court of 2000.
        An added issue is the one of Senate races where the winner is overwhelming and obvious. Trying to hold such a position hostage for political gain could be more dangerous than it is worth.

    2. John Anthony La Pietra

      OTOH, if we had direct popular voting, a close election would mean 51 Floridas — if not more, with Puerto Rico et alia. All with different rules on who can vote, how, and when — and who gets on the ballot — and who can ask for a recount when, why, and how.

      (And remember the 11th Amendment bars voters in state A from suing another state B to force a recount in B.)

  29. The Rev Kev

    “Boeing gearing up for 787 move to South Carolina: sources”

    Boeing decides to put all their production eggs into one basket in the middle of a pandemic. I know that Boeing moved their HQ to Chicago years ago so you wonder if they are getting their finacial advice from the Chicago School of Economics. Suckers.

    1. VietnamVet

      Global corporate rule that ended democracy in the West resulted in the certification of the unsafe 737 Max and now the shift in the production of the 787 to South Carolina. This is directly due to the social pathology that says that quarterly profits can infinitely increase in a finite world. Labor and environmental costs can be infinitely decreased. A 787 crash will kill commercial airliner manufacturing in the US like the Comet crashes did in the UK. This has become so extreme in 2020 that left unaddressed (airline safety, public health, economic depression, climate change, public safety and equality), western civilization itself is at risk.

  30. rd

    Re: NY Covid

    A few of us just went to some wineries in Upstate NY this weekend.

    The wineries have been taking Covid VERY seriously. Lots of measures in place with outdoor seating areas, good social distancing. The staff are doing a good job wearing masks, keeping distance from people, doing sanitization etc. The places are quite busy. Its mainly by reservation now, although walk-ins are accepted if there is room, but they may turn you away.

    The patrons are all very relaxed and respectful. People wear masks in busy areas and before being seated like the signs ask. Once seated at spaced out tables, mainly outdoors, and the servers have taken their orders, the masks come off and people do their wine tasting, eat cheese, etc. Get lunch as takeout or eat out on the deck or lawn at the various restaurants. Put masks back on when its time to leave.

    No cross words, no rants, no acting out. That is why this region has had very low numbers from the beginning. People are just dealing with it instead of politicizing it. The county and city governments in upstate NY have been very competent since early March on addressing it. The recent spikes in numbers are all due to a handful of universities with clusters of students partying and end up testing positive, so they are sequestered from the general population in the area. Hopefully the university students get the memo soon.

    1. fresno dan

      September 21, 2020 at 9:24 pm

      I usually go to Paso Robles twice a year – it really is the highlight of my year. Of course, this year, no wine tasting. The idea of making a reservation is anathema to me – I am just so use to the idea of just popping in and seeing what the new vintages are like.
      I usually went during the middle of the week, because I always like to go during low traffic times anyway – quicker service and sometimes a chance to talk to the actual vintner and I am not a crowd kind of guy.
      Maybe I should see what the websites say and give it a visit and see how it is – nothing else is going on, and its only about a 2 hour drive from Fresno and would be a nice change of pace….
      Maybe it will be rather deserted anyway – which would be fine with me….

    1. ambrit

      It’ll only take a few of those gig workers getting killed for that “disruptive” idea to hang fire.
      We live in interesting times.

  31. Chris

    Anyone else see this on the Twitters? I didn’t watch the show when it was live so I can’t verify this happened.

    If it’s real…yikes. Sleepy Joe might need to share whatever he takes before a public appearance with speaker Pelosi!

  32. Big Tap

    RBG was a liberal but not necessarily a progressive. Like Clinton and Obama she was great on social issues but was corporate America’s friend. One of the worse decisions of the Supreme Court over the last 20 years was Kelo v. City of New London (2005). It was an eminent domain case where a developer wanted to tear down a neighborhood to built a plant. Traditionally eminent domain was rarely used and only by the government not corporations. It was a 5-4 decision and Ginsberg sided with a private concern. Pfizer was supposed to go there but never did. The neighborhood was destroyed.

  33. EMtz

    Robert J Leurtsema was a treasure – and a man who truly loved his work. I still miss him. Thanks for the birdsong. It’s a bright spot of joy in life that seems all too rare these days.

  34. MichaelSF

    Speaking of “RussiaRussiaRussia” and beating the war drums, here’s an on-line collection of “Atomic War” comic books from the early 1950s.

    It seems like it must be a good idea to not slack off on propaganda, you never know when you might need it.

    Atomic War comics

  35. The Rev Kev

    “American Gentry”

    A very good read this. The key to this seems to be a local elite having control of a revenue stream of money from control of an asset such as property or facilities or something along these lines Just having a big pile of money does not cut it. Of course a consideration is how the local elite in each country or previous time uses their wealth. Those that invest in their local communities are usually guaranteed the good will of the locals while those that merely seek to take advantage of those around them end up in a very precarious position. The French nobles of the late 1700s would have a lot to say about this subject.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      I agree, I am late on my NC reading cuz work, but very glad I did not miss this piece. Like you, I took careful note of this bit:

      Medieval Europe was notable for its general tolerance of private violence carried out not only by higher nobility but even local gentry, with their bands of men-at-arms and hired soldiers. That right to violence was part of what set them apart as a social group, and which they didn’t hesitate to employ in defense of their position in local society.

      Yeah, good luck disarming and redistributing the wealth of these folks. But I’d note that as a class they also wouldn’t necessarily oppose universal concrete material benefits like national healthcare if it kept the peace and kept their workforces stable.

      They wouldn’t want to pay for it of course, but unlike the salaried classes, capitalists have the entire Infernal Revenue Code to hide in, written and loopholed explicitly for their benefit….

  36. None from Nowheresville

    Big, big YES!!!! to Cornell Birdsongs.

    For a further midwest plug on birds, I’d like to recommend The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, WI.

    Fabulous free museum. Every year they have an international Birds in Art competition. Over a 100 pieces of artwork. It’s a brilliant show and the museum, staff & volunteers are top-notch.

    Here’s a link to a video shot for the 2019 Birds in Art show (2020 is not up yet)

    Check out the museum’s youtube feed for things like short video interviews (2-3 minutes) with master bird artists. The museum also has a fabulous Audubon & Wyeth collection.

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