2:00PM Water Cooler 9/24/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

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Bird Song of the Day

Alert reader RW searched Macaulay and suggested this link to the Pileated Woodpecker:

Pileated Woodpeckers are very shy but I got one to attack me with the Cornell app. He came to within 3 feet away before he realized his mistake. The woods around my house is full of noisy birds but you never see them, now I can identify them by their songs.

Thanks for all you and Yves do at Naked Cap, I have learned so much reading there.

So, if you read NC on a cellphone, you can go out in the woods and play the Bird Song of the day, and see if any birds react!


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:

If current trends continue, we could be where we were August 1 in 30 days — the election now being 40 days out.

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

As alert reader anon suggested the day before yesterday, the Texas spike is indeed “a data reporting anomaly” (says the Times).


“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. September 22: Ohio moves from Toss-up to Leans Republican. Biden still at 278, Trump increases to 187, 73 are tossups. 187 + 73 = 260, so…. MI, WI, MN looking pretty tempting! 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

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.

UPDATE Here are is an enormous spreadsheet on voting equipment, so you can check your own jurisdiction (hat tip, UserFriendly. I should really aggregate these onto a map…).

* * *


Here is my list of Swing States, with votes in the Electoral College and selected ballot initiatives in parentheticals):

  • Arizona (11) (marijuana; taxes(=)
  • Colorado (9) (taxes, lottery, abortion, paid medical leave)
  • Florida (29) (minimum wage)
  • Georgia (16) (declaratory relief)
  • Iowa (6) (Constitional convention)
  • Maine-02 (1) (vax)
  • Michigan (16) (privacy)
  • Minnesota (19)
  • Nebraska-02 (1) (payday lending; gambling)
  • Nevada (6) (marriage)
  • New Hampshire (4)
  • North Carolina (15)
  • Ohio (18)
  • Pennsylvania (20)
  • Texas (38)
  • Wisconsin (10) (crime victims)

Inspired by the thread starting with Arizona Slim’s comment here, I went to Ballotpedia and added selected, hopefully hot button, ballot initiatives, because sometimes they affect turnout. If you live in a swing state, please comment if I got the hot buttons wrong!

FL: “Florida attorney general asks for investigation of Bloomberg’s fundraising push to cover fines for felons who want to vote” [Sun-Sentinel]. “Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody sent a letter to the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement this week, asking them to investigate the millions that billionaire Mike Bloomberg helped raise to offset fines and court costs for felons so they can vote. Moody’s letter says, in part, an ‘even otherwise innocuous offering of an incentive simply to vote could run afoul’ of Florida elections laws. ‘Incentives could be offered to a voter in a way that would be designed to directly or indirectly cause the voter or a larger group of voters to vote in a particular matter.’ This would violate Florida statutes, which make it illegal to ‘directly or indirectly give or promise anything of value to another in casting his or her vote,’ Moody’s letter says.” • I thought of Bloomberg’s effort as a mitzvah, even if self-interested, to get round a poll tax imposed to thwart the clear will of Florida voters to let felons vote. Sadly, I think Moody has a point.

FL: “If There Was No Florida Democratic Party, It Would Be Easier For Democrats To Win” [DownWIthTyranny]. “The Florida Democratic Party is worse than worthless. If they were just worthless they wouldn’t be doing anything. Worse than worthless means they are actively sabotaging Democratic candidates, going so far as telling people various Republicans are their friends (or, in the case of state Sen. Gary Farmer, worse)…. But the state Democratic Party in nowhere to be found in most races, telling candidates in winnable districts that they can’t or won’t help.”

UPDATE FL “Why Florida will be so pivotal once again” [CNN]. “This year, it’s pretty clear that Trump has very few paths to the White House without winning Florida. It’s possible, but it isn’t really realistic… On the other hand, Biden has a number of ways to win without Florida. His easiest path (the states Hillary Clinton won in 2016 and Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district and Wisconsin) and his second easiest path (the Clinton states plus Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania) don’t rely on Florida…. Put another way, Biden’s very likely to win if he takes Florida. Even if we have to wait for the ballots to be counted in other states for Biden to officially get to 270 electoral votes, there’s only a minimal chance Trump takes the election.

If Biden loses Florida, we’ll likely have to see what happens in the Great Lake (Rust Belt) battlegrounds to have a good understanding of the ultimate outcome. We could be waiting a long while for those Great Lake battleground state results to become clear. Unlike Florida, the outcome in the Great Lake battlegrounds may not be known for days because of mail-in voting.”

ME: “UPDATE: Hampden police identify minor who defaced Trump signs, placed dog feces in mailboxes” [WABI]. “Police said she’s a minor. They are now talking with those involved. No charges have been filed at this point.”

MN: “Suspicious Fire Destroys Trump Supporter’s Garage, Truck; Pro-Biden, BLM Graffiti Left At Scene” [WCCO]. “The family’s garage, trucks and trailer were burned just after 3 a.m. Wednesday. Graffiti on the garage read, “Biden 2020,” “BLM” — shorthand for Black Lives Matter — and the anarchy symbol of an “A” with a circle around it. Two 3 x 5 Trump flags were on the trailer and truck.” • I’m dubious. I don’t think there’s an anarchist in the world who could bring themselves to spraypaint “Biden 2020” on anything>, not even the most trollish of them.

UPDATE NC: “North Carolina Is Already Rejecting Black Voters’ Mail-In Ballots More Often Than White Voters'” [FiveThirtyEight]. “In North Carolina, absentee ballots have already been sent back and the state has been updating statistics on those ballots daily. As of September 17, Black voters’ ballots are being rejected at more than four times the rate of white voters, according to the state’s numbers…. The vast majority of these ballots were rejected because voters made a mistake or failed to fill out the witness information,2 according to state records. A rejected ballot does not necessarily mean the voter is denied his or her vote: North Carolina allows for a process called ‘vote curing,’ where voters are notified that there’s a mistake and given a chance to fix their ballot. But that’s not an option in every state. And even that isn’t foolproof…. Part of this gap could be due to the fact that many Black voters and voters of color casting mail ballots are doing so for the first time, and first time vote-by-mail voters tend to make more mistakes because they’re less familiar with the requirements. That’s true in North Carolina, too. Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College in North Carolina, compared historical voter records in the state and found that most voters who had their ballot rejected so far voted in person in 2016.” • Again, I’m not sure it made sense for Democrats to bet the farm on vote-by-mail when their most loyal constituency would be effectively disenfranchised. But here we are:

UPDATE OH: “Trump vows to reverse ‘blue-collar carnage’ in Ohio” [Washington Examiner]. “In a speech in Dayton on “Fighting for the American Worker,” his first of two events in Ohio on Monday, Trump accused Biden of being ‘a die-hard globalist’ who inflicted ‘terrible damage’ on Ohio’s economy during his years in Washington…. The North American Free Trade Agreement, which Biden supported when it was approved in 1993, caused the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in the Dayton area, Trump said. Biden, he added, ‘should be begging for your forgiveness.’ Trump pointed to China’s entry into the World Trade Organization as ‘a total catastrophe.’ ‘That’s when China started going up like a rocket,’ he added.” • Dance with the one that brung ya. And he’s not wrong, is he? Turns out that “I alone can fix it” was a little off….

PA: “ELECTION 2020: How ‘naked ballots’ in Pennsylvania could cost Joe Biden the election” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]. “The 2020 presidential election could come down to envelopes. The state Supreme Court in Pennsylvania, a critical battleground state that’s seen as increasingly likely to determine who wins the White House, last week ordered officials to throw out ‘naked ballots; — mail ballots that arrive without inner ‘secrecy envelopes.’ Pennsylvania uses a two-envelope mail ballot system: A completed ballot goes into a ‘secrecy envelope’ that has no identifying information, and then into a larger mailing envelope that the voter signs. ‘While everyone is talking about the significance of extending the mail-ballot deadline, it is the naked ballot ruling that is going to cause electoral chaos,’ Lisa Deeley, chair of the Philadelphia city commissioners, wrote in a letter to state legislative leaders urging them to change the law to allow the ballots to be counted. Deeley warned there will likely be tens of thousands thrown out — maybe more than 100,000.” • Presumably the “secrecy ballot” is there to ensure that the ballot is — follow me closely, here — what we call a “secret ballot.” It seems like a really bad precedent to allow them to be counted, since that’s an obvious avenue for election fraud (see this election here at CalPERS an example). It was probably also a bad idea for liberal Democrats to go all-in for vote-by-mail, but that’s another issue.

UPDATE PA: “Worst-Case Election Scenario: A Pennsylvania Counting Meltdown” [Bloomberg]. “The commonwealth is new to mail-in voting and took weeks to count ballots during its June 2 primary. Counties can’t start processing ballots until Election Day, virtually guaranteeing they won’t all be tabulated by that night. Pennsylvania was decided by only 44,292 votes in 2016, and its election laws allow for ballot challenges and appeals to drag on, increasing the risk for delayed results… Judging by how Pennsylvania performed in its June primary, there’s plenty of reason for alarm. Officials had changed election rules back in October 2019, well before the outbreak of the virus, to allow voters to request a mail-in ballot without having to provide an excuse. In the June primary, almost 1.5 million people cast votes by mail or absentee — increasing to 51% of the total vote from 2% in the 2018 primary…. It took almost three weeks for all 1.5 million mail-in and absentee ballots in the commonwealth to be tabulated. About half the counties were still counting more than a week after the primary, according to a state report. Philadelphia, the most populous, didn’t even start counting mail-in votes until the day after the primary while it focused on in-person voting. Officials there needed 15 days to complete the count…. The race is also shaping up to be very close. Biden’s advantage in Pennsylvania has been narrowing since July…. Of the almost 2 million mail-in and absentee ballots requested in Pennsylvania through Sept. 17, 67% were from Democrats and only 24% from Republicans, according to the Department of State.” • Readers please correct me, but IIRC, Philly uses unauditable touchscreens for in-person voting. If so, that’s something Bloomberg should have mentioned.

UPDATE TX: “As Texas college towns emerge as coronavirus hot spots, universities try to keep students from infecting locals” [Texas Tribune]. “In the counties where four-year college students make up at least 10% of the population, including Lubbock, Hays and Brazos, cases have grown 34% since Aug. 19, according to a Texas Tribune analysis. That’s compared to 23% in counties with a smaller proportion of students, including larger metropolitan areas like Houston and Dallas that also house universities…. The Texas counties where university students make up the biggest share of the population are home to Texas State University, Texas Tech University, Stephen F. Austin State University, Sul Ross State University, Sam Houston State University, and several A&M campuses, including the flagship in College Station, Tarleton State University, Prairie View A&M University, Texas A&M University-Kingsville and Texas A&M University-Commerce.” • I’m filing this here because I won’t know what the effect on the vote in college towns will be, or the youth vote in general (depending on where they’re registered).

UPDATE TX “Beto O’Rourke and other Democrats think Biden could win Texas — and upend American politics” [Salon]. “Recent polls have shown former Vice President Joe Biden to be surprisingly competitive in Texas, which is a big change from the 1990s and 2000s — when Democratic strategists assumed that Republicans would automatically win the state’s electoral votes and that their time and energy would be better spent in Florida, Pennsylvania and other swing states they had a better chance of winning. But that was before Democrat Beto O’Rourke narrowly lost to incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. O’Rourke’s loss was a major disappointment for Democrats, but as O’Rourke sees it, the fact that he lost to Cruz by only 2% shows that Democratic strategists shouldn’t give up on Texas… O’Rourke argues that if Biden could pull off a win in Texas, it would be “psychologically” brutal for the Republican Party. And Democratic strategist David Axelrod told Vox, ‘Expanding the map serves two purposes. The first is to keep your options open to make a move late, if the numbers move from possible to promising. The second is to force the other campaign to spend to defend a must-have state for them.'”

* * *

Biden (D)(1): “22 Retired 4-Stars Join Nearly 500 NatSec Leaders in Letter Endorsing Joe Biden” [Military.com]. • Well, I guess that settles it…

Biden (D)(2): “Kamala Harris Has A Vibrant Online Fan Club. But It Also Has A Toxic Side.” [HuffPo]. “Members of the KHive, which one member estimated is made up of 50,000 to 60,000 Twitter accounts, see themselves as defenders and boosters of Harris, particularly as she faces an onslaught of racist and misogynistic harassment as the first Black and first Asian American woman to be nominated for vice president by either major party. Harris and her allies have shouted out the group multiple times…. Nearly a dozen people said accounts identified as part of the KHive often kicked off or instigated harassment campaigns against them for originally backing Democratic candidates other than Harris. Often, after the harassment began, self-identified KHive members and other accounts swarmed them on Twitter. The harassment included slurs about people’s ethnicity, including calling Black people “house slaves” for backing other Democrats. One Elizabeth Warren supporter, who identifies as gay, said he was told that all “Warren gays should be chemically castrated,” after he was the target of a harassment campaign kicked off by a KHive member. A recent high school graduate who supported Bernie Sanders said a volunteer organizer for Harris’s presidential campaign tweeted that he “hoped I would be raped in a gas chamber by MAGA nazis” (the teen is Jewish). The Harris supporter deleted the tweet minutes after posting it, according to the teen. Multiple people said their personal information was published online, forcing some to move their families to a different location temporarily for fear they were in physical danger. Two women said KHive members made veiled threats toward their children. One of the women said she received a call from child protective services about her 17-month-old child after an incident with the KHive.” • If these incidents had come from Sanders supporters, there would have been a moral panic that lasted for years….

Biden (D)(3):

Trump (R)(1): “Trump to sign order on pre-existing conditions as he gives speech on health care” [MarketWatch]. • Go big or go home!

Trump (R)(2): “The Memo: Trump’s strengths complicate election picture” [The Hill]. “Voters in [swing states Florida and Arizona] gave Trump relatively high marks for his handling of the economy. In Arizona, registered voters backing his record on that issue numbered 57 percent, against 42 percent disapproving. In Florida, 54 percent approved of his economic record and 43 percent disapproved. Both findings were significantly better than Trump’s overall job approval numbers in either state. If there are ‘shy’ Trump voters, unwilling to declare their allegiance in interviews with pollsters, it seems plausible they may be found among the ranks of those who believe their financial well-being would fare better under four more years of the president. The findings from the Post-ABC News poll regarding the economy were consistent with other surveys.”

* * *

“Pizza to the Polls aims to feed hungry 2020 voters stuck in long lines” [CNN]. “Pizza to the Polls, a nonpartisan grassroots organization, has so far sent 2,068 pizzas to voters casting their ballots in 19 states around the country in the 2020 election. The group hopes to grow its ground game even more as the election gets closer — and the need is expected to grow. ‘There’s going to be a ton of lines this year,’ Scott Duncombe, Pizza to the Polls’ co-founder and director, told CNN. ‘And so we will hopefully be good to go and spend that pizza money as fast as it comes in.'” • When you “plan” to vote, make sure to include napkins!

Ginsberg Replacement

“The Democrats’ Supreme Failure” [Black Agenda Report]. “The Supreme Court is supposed to be the issue that ends all arguments. The fact that the Democrats mishandled this situation so badly is one of the reasons they have deified the late justice Ginsburg. They have to divert attention from the mess they created. The federal courts would not play such a large political role if the Democrats were serious about winning and keeping legislative majorities. When Barack Obama was president they lost more than 900 seats in state legislatures, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The loss of the Senate was particularly devastating. Ginsburg should have stepped down when Obama still had the Democratic Party control needed to nominate a replacement.”

“How The Elites Rigged Supreme Court Politics” [American Compasss]. “The trick that helps corporatists in Congress the most is making every single election existential, because when things are existential everything else goes out of the window. How Wall Street conducts business, the growing wealth gap in America, our fatally low birthrates, the inability for Americans to provide for their families, and so many other major problems all go on the backburner in so-called existential times. The never-ending media frenzy about existential times comes as corporate power has become as much if not more so a threat to your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness than a tyrannical government. There is never room in the existential narrative about how the stakes of our economic future and the ability for people to provide for themselves are actually existential, even though the current economic crisis continues ruining people’s lives. Americans deserve a chance to vote for someone based on economic issues that determine how we live our lives, rather than a single vote they’ll take on the Supreme Court.”

“Kavanaugh Emerges as Man-in-the-Middle With Supreme Court Set to Shift Right” [Bloomberg]. “Kavanaugh, who prefers narrower rulings than some of his conservative colleagues, would find himself at the court’s ideological center if President Donald Trump succeeds in replacing Ginsburg with a staunch conservative. From there he could decide how far, and how quickly, it turns to the right on some of the country’s most divisive issues…. Kavanaugh has also suggested he is less willing than Gorsuch to overturn the court’s past decisions, says David Strauss, a constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago School of Law. That could prove important when the court is inevitably asked to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide.” • Commentary: “It’s a good thing nobody did anything to permanently alienate him.”

UPDATE “The Supreme Court and Normcore” [Crooked Timber]. “the problem is that norms are institutions (more precisely, they are informal institutions that are not supported by formal external punishments but by the expectations of the actors that adhere to them) and institutions do not exist in a vacuum. In game theoretic terms, norm maintenance depends on actors’ expectations about “what is off the equilibrium path.” In more practical language, norm maintenance requires not just that political actors worry about the chaos that will ensue if the norms stop working. It also relies on the fear of punishment – that if one side deviates from the political bargain implicit in the norm, the other side will retaliate, likely by breaking the norm in future situations in ways that are to their own particular advantage. What this means, pretty straightforwardly, is that norms don’t just rely on the willingness of the relevant actors to adhere to them. They also rely on the willingness of actors to violate them under the right circumstances. If one side violates, then the other side has to be prepared to punish. If one side threatens a violation, then the other side has to threaten in turn, to make it clear that deviating from the norm will be costly. A norm governing relations between two opposing sides, where one side acts strategically (to exploit opportunities) and the other naively (always to support the norm) can’t be sustained.” • Believers in the Norms Fairy, in other words, needs to practice altruistic punishment.

Something missing?

Realignment and Legitimacy

Modulo that sneaky “the public,” this is pretty much where I am:

The worst I can see happening is a capitol occupation by some gun-humpers. Which will fizzle out. Worse than the Brooks Brothers riot in Miami 2000, but not the end of the Republic. But a less bad, but still horrid Bush v. Gore situation? A 4-4 vote (as the Democrats want, and what then?) or 5-4, or 4-5…. It won’t be pleasant.

“Represent” [Interfluidity]. “One source of our discord is majoritarianism, which drives destructive competition between our political factions to win just a tiny margin over the other one. “Majority rules” is a deeply flawed basis for democratic institutions. It conflicts with a more functional virtue, representation, the idea that everybody should have a voice, no one’s interests should fall beneath consideration. Under strict majoritarianism, minorities have effectively no voice if a majority organizes to wield power. In liberal democracies, the most catastrophic harms of majoritarianism are (supposed to be) mitigated by minority rights, basic protections and liberties that even organized majorities are not permitted to violate. But even when those are respected, majoritarianism leaves minorities boxed out of any agency in the national project.” • As Sanders supporters saw in the 2016 and 2020 Democrat primaries. The whole piece is well worth a read. Interfluidity seems to be on a bit of a roll lately, posting more frequently.

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.

Employment Situation: “19 September 2020 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Again Declined” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 800 K to 905 K (consensus 880 K), and the Department of Labor reported 870,000 new claims. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 913,500 (reported last week as 912,000) to 878,250.”

* * *

Commodities: “New supply constraints may have tea drinkers feeling anxious. Prices of wholesale tea leaves have jumped as a series of logistical issues have supplies tightening…. and the supply-chain troubles are starting to lift consumer prices at U.S. stores” [Wall Street Journal]. “The volatility in a normally stable trade is the latest sign of how the coronavirus-driven lockdowns and changes in consumer buying patterns have roiled commodity markets. Tea is the world’s most popular beverage, with about 3.7 billion cups consumed daily. But the pandemic has caused sharp drops in tea consumption at restaurants and cafes while leaving people to brew more tea at home. At the same time, bad weather in some producer countries, labor shortages and transport disruptions have strained supplies.

Shipping: “Consumer Giants Urge Governments to End Shipping’s Crew Change Crisis” [gCaptain]. “Chief executives of household consumer brands, from retailer Carrefour SA to food manufacturer Mondelez International Inc. and beverage maker Heineken NV, have signed an open letter calling for measures to allow more crew changes at ports, ensure the safety of overworked seafarers and make sure supply chains don’t use forced labor. The letter, which was sent to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Wednesday before a General Assembly web conference on seafarers, is the latest call to address a growing humanitarian crisis at sea brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic as cautious governments restrict access to borders and air travel remains curbed. ‘We are coming to a tipping point if we don’t resolve the issue of crew changes,’ Marc Engel, chief supply chain officer at Unilever, which spearheaded the letter, said in an interview. ‘There’s a huge risk that the global supply chain will start failing. It’s an inadvertent situation of forced labor because these seafarers are stuck on these ships. It’s a human rights issue.’ The call to action by more than two dozen CEOs — members of the powerful Consumer Goods Forum that represents 400 of the biggest consumer retailers, manufacturers and service providers — is one of the strongest appeals by business titans to draw attention to the seafarer crisis.” • See NC here on the crew change crisis.

The Bezzle: “JPMorgan Is Set to Pay $1 Billion in Record Spoofing Penalty” [Bloomberg]. “The potential record for a settlement involving alleged spoofing could be announced as soon as this week, said the people who asked not to be named because the details haven’t yet been finalized. The accord would end probes by the Justice Department, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission into whether traders on JPMorgan’s precious metals and treasuries desks rigged markets, two of the people said. A penalty approaching $1 billion would far exceed previous spoofing-related fines. It would also be on par with sanctions in many prior manipulation cases, including some brought several years ago against banks for allegedly rigging benchmark interest rates and foreign exchange markets.” • A billion dollars is real money, but I bet the reputational damage hurts worse [snicker].

Tech: “Tesla experienced an hour-long network outage early Wednesday” [TechCrunch (EM)]. “Tesla owners were locked out of their vehicles and the accompanying app for about an hour Wednesday morning, thanks to an outage that affected the company’s entire network, according to several sources. The Tesla outage was caused by an internal break of their application programming interface (or API), according to sources familiar with the outage. There’s a chance that the glitch could have something to do with the rollout of new two-factor authentication security features, which Tesla chief executive Elon Musk called “embarrassingly late,” in an August tweet…. Tesla owners were locked out of their vehicles and the accompanying app for about an hour Wednesday morning, thanks to an outage that affected the company’s entire network, according to several sources. The Tesla outage was caused by an internal break of their application programming interface (or API), according to sources familiar with the outage. There’s a chance that the glitch could have something to do with the rollout of new two-factor authentication security features, which Tesla chief executive Elon Musk called ’embarrassingly late,’ in an August tweet.”

Travel: “‘Tsunami’ of hotel closures is coming, experts warn” [Los Angeles Times]. “The Luxe Rodeo Drive is the first high-end hotel in the Los Angeles area to go out of business because of the pandemic, and industry experts point to an unusually high loan delinquency rate among hotel borrowers as a sign that more closures are likely to follow…. The steep decline in tourism and business travel has devastated the hotel industry. ‘We anticipate many hotels won’t survive,’ said Heather Rozman, executive director of the Hotel Assn. of Los Angeles. ‘Industry data shows 1 in 4 properties already are struggling to pay mortgages, risking foreclosure.'”

Mr. Market: “Junk bond jitters may signal the start of a stock market capitulation” [MarketWatch]. “nvestors worried about recent turbulence in stocks may want to keep an eye on the near $1.5 trillion high-yield corporate bond market, to help gauge when a more substantial selloff in Wall Street might begin. Analysts often view ructions in the high-yield, or ‘junk-bond,’ market as a canary in the coal mine, or an early warning to when investors might start taking flight from riskier assets altogether. Key drivers of recent jitters have been a brewing fight over the next Supreme Court judge, dimming prospects for another fiscal stimulus package, the potential for a contested Presidential election after Nov. 3 and the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic — all threatening to crack the foundation of the market’s recent gains. The logic behind why investors should watch high-yield for signs of trouble has been that junk bonds typically are sold by America’s most indebted companies, leaving holders of such debt vulnerable to shifting expectations around the U.S. economic recovery.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 47 Neutral (previous close: 47 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 24 at 11:42am. Mr. Market approaches Fear…

The Biosphere

“A Legacy of Healing: Garden’s roots were nurtured by grieving mom’s sense of fate” [Dorchester Reporter]. “The focus with the garden was always on sustainability, said [Judith Foster], who worked with Speak for the Trees Boston to push for fruit trees and permanent structures over seasonal flower beds. In the years to come, collard greens, strawberries, blackberries, peaches, apples, and other fresh foods grown at the garden will nourish the local community under the stewardship of the Boston Food Forest Coalition and the Mattapan-based Farmers Collaborative… The garden welcomes passersby to explore a “food forest” with fruit trees, plants, and raised bed gardens; a greenhouse for community and educational use; and a community meeting and gathering space with a handful of tables, chairs, and umbrellas.” • Excellent public policy on “fruit trees and permanent structures over seasonal flower beds”!

“MapLab: Sounds of Distant Forests” [Bloomberg]. “Merely listening to nature noises may be a way to relax. A pandemic-era mapping project offers one helpful resource for that. ‘Sounds of the Forest‘ collects crowdsourced audio recordings from woodlands and forests around the planet and stitches them onto a digital world map…. Anyone who is inclined can submit their own MP3 along with a location and description of where it’s from to the project, which presents the sounds as an open-source library.” • Like the bird songs!

“Gov. Gavin Newsom Says California Is Cracking Down on Oil Spills. But Our Reporting Shows Many Are Still Flowing.” [Pro Publica]. “Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday defended his administration’s record on oil regulation in California, following an investigation by The Desert Sun and ProPublica that showed petroleum companies are profiting off dangerous inland spills. The state enacted regulations last year to curb the spills, known as surface expressions, but the news organizations found that more than two dozen have occurred since then. Three are still running, according to state officials, including one that’s spilled more than 2 million gallons of oil and wastewater…. When spills surface, nothing in the 2019 regulations stops producers from turning them into moneymakers. At one spill site, dubbed GS-5, Chevron has made an estimated $11.6 million in the last three years alone, according to an analysis of production data provided by the state.”

“Los Angeles hid a methane leak for a year. Activists want the power plant shut down” [Los Angeles Times]. “Residents of Sun Valley and Pacoima breathe some of California’s worst air and suffer from asthma-related hospitalizations at rates far higher than most of the state. So when the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power revealed last month that its power plant had been leaking methane gas for at least three years, local outrage was loud and swift…. The plant’s compressor units had been leaking gas ‘for the last couple years,’ one staffer said. The utility had a plan in place to fix the compressors later in the year but decided to go public now because NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory had detected the leak as part of an aerial survey, and ‘their information is getting more publicized,’ Adams told the board.” • Well, that’s awesome. The leak was so bad it could be detected from space….

Health Care

“Finland deploys coronavirus-sniffing dogs at main airport” [Medical Xpress]. “Finland has deployed coronavirus-sniffing dogs at the Nordic country’s main international airport in a four-month trial of an alternative testing method that could become a cost-friendly and quick way to identify infected travelers…. It takes the dog a mere 10 seconds to sniff the virus samples before it gives the test result by scratching a paw, laying down, barking or otherwise making its conclusion known. The process should be completed within one minute, according to Hielm-Bjorkman…. Timo Aronkyto,, the deputy mayor of Vantaa, the capital region city where the airport is located, said the program is costing 300,000 euros ($350,000) – an amount he called ‘remarkably lower’ than for other methods of mass testing arriving passengers…” One in the eye for Big Pharma. And I would imagine some start-ups are crying into their designer water. And Forbes: “Researchers led by the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover said eight specialized detection dogs were able to distinguish between samples from infected patients and uninfected controls. After training, the dogs were able to correctly identify 94% of 1,012 saliva samples.” • Early and right again!

“A new health IT discipline: Social informatics” [Health Care IT News]. “As the pandemic shines a harsh light on healthcare disparities – with COVID-19 affecting poor, minority and underserved communities to a significantly disproportionate degree – more attention has been focused on social determinants of health [SODH], and how health systems and community groups can better address them to keep these people safe and healthy. But a major challenge with SDOH information, as has been long documented, appears in the difficulties with managing these different data types and integrating them into clinical care. In a new article in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, ‘A Call for Social Informatics,’ researchers from the University of California, San Francisco describe the challenges and opportunities for a proposed new discipline of health data innovation, and show how it can be formalized into a new domain of study. Various medical organizations – American Academy of Family Physicians and the National Association of Community Health Centers to name just two – have come out in favor screening patients for SDOH. And federal agencies such as the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT have thrown their support behind efforts to boost technology systems’ ability to integrate SDOH data. But a broader and more concentrated effort is needed to build momentum, said UCSF researchers. The good news is there’s no shortage of hugely useful socioeconomic data with which to work.” • As long as that data includes economics!

“‘QALY’ quality of life pandemic argument is intellectual malpractice” [Sydney Morning Herald]. “Start with this. Various health authorities around the world use [Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs)] to compute the cost-effectiveness of new treatments. In determining whether taxpayer money should fund a new treatment, evaluators pose two questions: how many QALYs does the new treatment provide, compared to existing treatments? And at what cost?…. these folks use QALYs to compare different treatments within conditions, not to compare different people within treatments…. QALY-boosters say that by converting life years into dollar values it is easy to make such comparisons. But they have either forgotten – or never learnt – their basic first-year microeconomic theory. We could go into excruciating detail, but the next time some would-be economist tries to bamboozle you with such statements just ask them if they recall that a von Neumann-Morgenstern expected utility function is only defined up to a positive affine transformation.” • Oh. Sure.

“Medicare Advantage should not ‘game the system’ but prioritize patient care, honest billing” [Health Care Dive]. “We are especially monitoring an area of concern: abuse of risk adjustment in Medicare Advantage, the managed care program serving 23 million beneficiaries, 37% of the Medicare population, at a cost of about $264 billion annually. We have good reason to pay attention. Our recent report found that Medicare Advantage paid $2.6 billion a year for diagnoses unrelated to any clinical services.”

Feral Hog Watch

“The Clock Is Ticking on America’s ‘Feral Swine Bomb'” [The Atlantic]. Such a great metaphor. “There are as many as 9 million feral swine across the U.S., their populations having expanded from about 17 states to at least 39 over the last three decades…. Ryan Brook, a University of Saskatchewan biologist who researches wild pigs, predicts that they’ll occupy 386,000 square miles across the country by the end of 2020, and they’re currently expanding at about 35,000 square miles a year. ‘I’ve heard it referred to as a feral swine bomb,’ says Dale Nolte, manager of the National Feral Swine Damage Management Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ‘They multiply so rapidly. To go from a thousand to two thousand, it’s not a big deal. But if you’ve got a million, it doesn’t take long to get to 4 [million], then 8 million.'” • Holy smokes, another multiplicative process!

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“HOA gives homeowner 7 days to remove Black Lives Matter sign” [ABC13]. “There’s a battle brewing over yard signs in the Hearthstone neighborhood in northwest Harris County. About two months ago, Gloria Bernardino and her husband put up banners to make their message clear — Black lives matter, so do LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, science, and humanity as a whole…. In a letter dated Sept. 2, Sears Bennett & Gerdes, LLP., the law office representing Hearthstone HOA, said the homeowners have seven days to remove their signs and cites their offense as, ‘unlawful, noxious or offensive activity shall be conducted or maintained on any lot, nor shall anything be done or permitted to be done thereon that may be a nuisance to the residents of the subdivision.'” • “Noxious”!

Class Warfare

“Isabel Wilkerson’s Book “Caste” and the Discontent of a Ruling Class in Crisis” [Black Agenda Report]. “A New York Times reviewer called Isabel Wilkerson’s new book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent “an instant American classic and almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century thus far.” It is neither. Oprah says it “might well save us.” It won’t. It is a book in this Time, it is not for this Time; by which I mean it neither understands the magnitude of the crisis of our Time, nor the way out of it. Designed to erase race as the central category explaining the American crisis, it also dismisses class, the Black proletariat and the larger working class. In the face of 60 million working people unemployed, underemployed or completely removed from the labor force in this COVID 19 driven depression, Wilkerson’s arguments turn attention away from actual racial and class conditions, to a non-material and made-up reality she calls caste. Moreover, she misguidedly substitutes an ill-conceived caste analysis for class analysis; the extreme of petit bourgeois obscurantism. Rather than the real and actual material conditions of the life worlds of the people, Wilkerson makes beliefs, values and ideas her central focus. In the name of caste, she flips reality on its head, from working people to their alleged deeply held beliefs; beliefs so deep in their consciousness that they seldom recognize them. Such analysis works in polite parlor discussion, or in university faculty lounges, but is completely meaningless to the lived experiences of Black folk and workers.” • In other words, Wilkerson is a “voice.”

“Safely returning clinically vulnerable people to work” [British Medical Journal]. “Before covid-19, an estimated 140 million working days were lost each year to sickness absence, costing the UK £22bn (€24bn; $28bn) each year on health related costs and sick pay. The pandemic could push these figures much higher—potentially up to 15% of gross domestic product, which is clearly unsustainable. It is essential to help clinically vulnerable people get back to work, whether that be homeworking or in their workplaces. Clinicians must take a holistic approach, recognising the wide range of clinical and social interventions that may be needed, particularly by those with multiple health problems.” • Kinda like sending the troops with shellshock back into the trenches after their therapy was completed….

News of the Wired

“Your Brain in Love” [Scientific American]. From 2011, still germane. “Researchers have revealed the fonts of desire by comparing functional MRI studies of people who indicated they were experiencing passionate love, maternal love or unconditional love. Together, the regions release neuro­transmitters and other chemicals in the brain and blood that prompt greater euphoric sensations such as attraction and pleasure… Passion also heightens several cognitive functions, as the brain regions and chemicals surge.” • Not typographic fonts, one assumes. Or even emojis. Handy chart (Credit: James W. Lewis, West Virginia University (brain) and Jen Christiansen (icons)):

Let’s not fetishize the disembodied brain, however; certainly the whole body is involved!

* * *

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:

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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. L

      Well look at why they quit. They were mad that the board extended the space of time for voters to cast their vote, well within the board’s power. So BOE members are on record being mad about the BOE making it easier for people to vote.

      That’s as bad a caricature as the NC pastor who got caught screaming “White Power” while waiving a Trump flag.



      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Early voting rewards partisanship and discourages consideration of what candidates say and do (which of necessity should extend to the last minute in case of accidents, new challenges to policy based on real-world events, etc. No wonder Democrats like it. It’s a horrible idea.

        If Democrats really wanted to make voting easier, they’d agitate for making Election Day a paid holiday, hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public, and they’d make voter registration/voting assistance a core party function off-years and on. They don’t, so here we are!

  1. Pookah Harvey

    Just in case anyone is interested Chris Hedges begrudgingly admits that its better to have a corrupt corporatist as president than an insane corrupt corporatist who has provided an irrational response to a pandemic. If you don’t want to listen to the whole interview start at 27:40

      1. Pookah Harvey

        I didn’t say less evil and I didn’t say Hedges would vote for Biden. What Hedges does say is: “I hope that the polls are right” and that Trump is “so volatile and so inept”. As compared to Biden who is “not insane” and “might respond rationally to the Covid-19 crisis”. I suppose you could interpret that anyway you want. Hedges also says a vote for Trump is a vote for fascism.

        1. notabanker

          I watched every minute of this interview last night and Hedges in no way indicated a preference for either Trump or Biden. You’re original comment clearly connotes that he did, so don’t try and cover your tracks here. Stump for your candidate somewhere else.

          1. Pookah Harvey

            I’m sorry, apparently I mis-comprehended.
            Could you clarify what Hedges meant when he said “I hope the polls are right”. Please help me also with what he meant with his statement that he is voting Green in his solid Blue home state, but if he lived Mississippi he still would still vote Green ” but it would be a little harder”.

            1. notabanker

              The entire point of Hedges hour long discussion, which you seem intent on cherry picking, is that the US empire is in rapid decline and regardless of who is elected with the oppression facing the US citizens will be unprecedented in world history. Mainly because the the surveillance tools are way beyond anything in human history.

              If you want to take out of that which neolib ruler he prefers, then you are hearing what you want to hear.

              1. Pookah Harvey

                We are gong to have to live with one or the other. The only decision we have is to determine under which administration do we have a better chance of surviving. Believe me I understand your frustration. The choice seems to be a sane fascism or an insane fascism, what a choice.

                1. notabanker

                  So I need to apologize to yourself and the hosts here. I started watching this vid and mistook it for a previous appearance he made on act tv that I had just viewed. You are correct in his views here on the video you linked.

                2. Acacia

                  Or, vote Green. That’s a choice too. And by giving support to a third party, we help pave the way for other third parties, e.g., the People’s Party.

                  Regardless of what Hedges did/didn’t say, if we’re going to go with the sane/insane distinction you’re making (which of course also raises the question of whether we should consider a man with very evident dementia sane or insane, but I’ll let that go for the moment), it’s worth bearing in mind that the “sane fascism” of the Democrats got us the “insane fascism” of Trump, as Trump is very clearly the legacy of eight years of Obama (remember: nine million Obama voters gave up on the Dems and voted Trump).

                  There is also the old adage that “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” is by definition insane.

                  By that metric, voting for the Dems again would be insane, and voting Green kind of looks like the saner choice.

                  1. sierra7

                    I would proffer that the presidency of DT is the product of all the previous presidents and the declining interest of the electorate.
                    Without those outcomes I do not think we would have a DT presidency.
                    Both parties are totally corrupt and are not responsive to the American “commons”. They should both go…….
                    Voting for the lesser evil has gotten us to the slime pit we are in now.
                    Time to change.

                    1. Acacia

                      Agreed. Regarding the Democrats, though, what I’m seeing now is almost like a doubling down on lesser-evilism, which is of course a sure-fire way to lose.

                3. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > sane fascism or an insane fascism,

                  We have a two-party system. Unfortunately, the sane fascists, during their eight years in power, created the conditions for the insane fascists to prosper.

                  So, first, I have to question your definition of “sanity,” if the concept of health (Latin, sanus) be an equilibrium that does not produce its opposite.

                  Second, I don’t think it’s a question of sane or insane (or any other binary one may choose). It’s a realpolitik question of outcomes, and here the difficulty is that outcomes are incommensurate. Suppose, for example, you hold Trump 100% responsible for the loss of 200,000 lives in a pandemic. But suppose also that you believe Biden is more likely to risk a war with Russia, a nuclear power. How do you weigh one against the other?

                  1. JBird4049

                    >>>How do you weigh one against the other?

                    Good point and that is why we’re living among increasingly insane people. This voting for the lesser Evil has gotten us here as right now there is just a choice of poisons; one might kill slowly and painfully while the other will be quick, but you’ll still dead.

                    So people are desperately trying to find a safe candidate, any safe candidate or party, and there’s none to be had, and this is driving us all a bit insane.

    1. BobWhite

      Yes, that is basically what he said, though he is not voting for him (voting for Hawkins).
      He also said he hopes the polls are correct this time, as opposed to 2016, as Biden is not “insane”.
      “The best we could say about Biden is we MIGHT respond rationally to the COVID19 crisis”…

      Of course, he also said the system is going to fall apart, no matter the president…

      1. Alex Cox

        Hold off on deciding which candidate will appear to be insane, and which will also appear to be insane.
        The debates begin on 29 Sept.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          If Biden does as well against Trump as he did against Sanders (no matter the reason), then Trump will approach toast status.

          Trump (paraphrasing the Trillbillies) was a one-man hit machine 2015-2016. But he seems to have lost his touch. I grant that Trump’s story arc is to create a disaster and then escape from it even more powerful than before, but this year’s story arc is taking a long time, and there aren’t very many days left.

          I also doubt that Trump is disciplined enough to prepare to take Biden down (and Biden is really no slouch in debate, assuming he can remember his zingers; he’s better than the brittle and arrogant Clinton). Trump has been on the road, I assume, to do his A/B testing, but I don’t think he’s had enough time to hone his message in the only way he knows how.

          1. Yik Wong

            Trump seems to be looking for an exit, at least subconsciously. His delivery of prepared speeches is never good, but his one on “patriotic education” was horrible. The gaff about military service being for losers, etc. 4 years is already well beyond his attention span for any of his past endeavors. He’d have fired half his campaign staff by now if this was 2016. If he wins this time, it’s going to be because of Biden.

  2. Glen

    Pileated woodpecker coming after me? Yikes, think Woody Woodpecker except up to two feet long and with a beak that can make mince meat out of a Doug Fir!

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      But damn he rocks! I would rate him well above some of those that made Rolling Stone’s top 500 rock albums.

      Come to think of it, was there even a single Grateful Dead album on that list? I only looked at the top 50. Despite owning four in the so-called top 10 (yes! Blood on the Tracks!) I thought it was really dumb. Since when is Motown or gangsta rap or jazz rock? And rating Amy Winehouse above Muddy Waters? Aiee!

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Come to think of it, was there even a single Grateful Dead album on that list

        The Rolling Stone interface was so bad I stopped clicking after 400 or so, but by that time Workingman’s Dead had made the cut. And if Skull and Roses or Europe ’72 (showing my age, here, sigh) didn’t make the cut higher up, because they’re much better, the list really is worthless.

    2. farragut

      We’ve got a pair of pileateds in the neighborhood and pictures simply don’t do them justice. They’re bigger and more muscular than you might imagine if you’re expecting a cartoon Woody Woodpecker, like I was when I first encountered the species years ago. They have an unusual flight rhythm, almost like they pause their wings for a half a sec between flaps. This causes them to ‘bob’ up with a wing beat, then down as they pause. If you watch them cross your field of vision, it looks like they’re following a sine wave.

      Finally, they’ve got gorgeous coloration and a beautiful call. They really are a treat to watch and hear.

      1. HotFlash

        About the swoop-swoop flight, yes! In the old Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh Innana (goddess of love) attempts to seduce Gilgamesh. He is having none of it, and reminds her of the time she loved the kapi (named after its call, the roller bird, a woodpecker of that time and place), until she tired of him and struck him on the wing. The injured bird flew away crying, “Kapi, kapi!”, which is ‘my wing, my wing’.

    3. ambrit

      Yikes indeed!
      We would see pairs of the Pileated Woodpeckers searching for bugs in the bark of the Live Oak trees in our yard and in the empty acre next door. They do make that high sound call and have a wood peck sound worthy of a drum line.
      We have both been within twenty-five or so feet of one of these when it searched the bark of a tree overhanging our side yard, (where we would sit out of an evening.) They would get up to sixteen or seventeen inches long. Sometimes the pair would be accompanied by a juvenile. Three of these birds on a single trunk is something to see.
      This was at the mouth of the Pearl River, a prime second growth wilderness area.
      Many locals would mistake the Pileateds for Ivory Billed woodpeckers, the supposedly extinct variety of giant woodpecker. That bird has, or had, a distinctive two note peck. So, instead of the bang, bang, bang, bang, of the Pileated with the whinny at the end, you would hear a bang, bang, whinny sound.
      No one I know ever heard that distinctive call. Oh, well. there are always the bottomlands of Arkansas.

    4. notabanker

      If you want to see woodpeckers, hang a suet feeder on a tree you can see from a window, they love those things. Problem is keeping the coons away from the feeder at night, they love it too.

      1. HotFlash

        Have a dying (of old age) apple tree in the back yard. Back-fence neighbours want me to cut it down, but the little downy woodpeckers love it. Apple tree stays there until I get a court order.

        1. ambrit

          If your neighbours are such a grinchly lot, it might behoove you to get in touch with a local “Friends of the Aminals” style organization and prepare for the court order. I’m certain that some ‘creative’ counters to such an imposition could be worked up. Make those so and sos work, and perhaps, pay money for their conformist agenda.

    5. Phacops

      Have a few pairs om our property. Once one slammed into a window. We rescued it and gave it a quiet dark place to recover.

      Handling it, and even though I know, I was surprised at how lighi it is.

      It recovered in short order.

  3. Rod

    It is so Reassuring to witness Courageous(and Intelligent) Human Beings stepping forward to meet a threatening situation to other Humans Being.
    Thanks to all at NC for bringing it into being, and staying around and with it.

  4. BoyDownTheLane

    Thanks for the pileated woodpecker which, when I was growing up at the western base of Mount Greylock, would come by in front of the kitchen window. I wonder whether that can properly be called its “song”, but no matter; it is the sound of it hammering its beak into the trunks of large trees to root out the insects. I remember even back then (one half a century ago) that some wondered if there was not some scientific benefit in studying the large (one foot tall) and beautiful (red-capped head on white bird) for possible understandings of headache.


    1. GramSci

      It is certainly a “song” to Mrs. Woodpecker. A short life ago in Ohio we were called to our back porch by the hammering of Mr. Woodpecker. Shortly thereafter Mrs. Woodpecker appeared and raptly watched. Minutes later a baby Woodpecker was publicly conceived. The Brain in Love. Magnificent birds.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Here in Tucson, the local woodpecker fellows like to demonstrate their virility by hammering on street lights. It’s especially impressive when you’re trying to sleep in and your slumber is shattered by BRRRRT!

  5. Fastball

    Well there’s one advantage to that feral swine explosion.. all the people about to be starved to death by Washington have somewhere to go for starvation food.

    1. Moe Knows

      One would better off, if actually starving, to eat one’s dog compared to the wild swine, that are almost always very disease ridden. Neither are to my liking.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          or get them young.
          that’s what we do.
          neighbor with the 600 acre spread traps the younguns every year, and i always end up with a few. Shoats, to about a year old…usually around 40-60 pounds…and wild as all get-out…and lively.
          best pork i’ve ever had.
          older ones are rather wormy and gross, however…as well as dangerous to confront.

  6. Wukchumni

    I’m dubious. I don’t think there’s an anarchist in the world who could bring themselves to spraypaint “Biden 2020” on anything>, not even the most trollish of them.
    I double guffawed bent over in laughter, but was able to regain composure.

    1. Watt4Bob

      My guess, the truck owner is two months behind on his truck payments due to that fascist governor Walz shutting down the state and wrecking the economy. /snk

      Might as well torch the garage too, in for a penny, in for a pound.

  7. Ted

    I thought of Bloomberg’s effort as a mitzvah, even if self-interested, to get round a poll tax imposed to thwart the clear will of Florida voters to let felons vote. Sadly, I think Moody has a point.

    I don’t mean to be rude, but this is incoherent.

    The only way paying the fines would be an incentive to vote is if the fines themselves are a deterrent to voting — that voting ability which is legally mandated by Florida voters. A poll tax to deter voting is illegal here.

    Florida is arguing both that the fines are not a deterrent to voting and paying the fine is an incentive to voting. Both can’t be true.

      1. Ted

        I agree with you. It is clearly designed to incentivize voting.

        But the court said that the poll tax had nothing to do with voting (laughable) so they can’t have it both ways is my point.

        It is incoherent.

      2. none

        Is it really different from the longstanding practice of GOTV volunteers offering potential voters rides to the polls? Or the coffee shops around here that give you a discount coupon if you show up with an “I Voted” sticker on election day?

        1. L

          That would seem to be the end goal that Florida is running under and it is clearly designed to redefine “fraud” so broadly that they can attack any systematic efforts to get out the vote for any group of people.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Is it really different from the longstanding practice of GOTV volunteers offering potential voters rides to the polls

          Rides and coffee are not fungible. Removing a debt means the one-time debtor has money for other things, so yes, it’s a thing of value.

      3. Dugless

        There is no requirement that the person actually go vote. And from my understanding, the debt is owed to the government but many of the ex-felons cannot pay and therefore have been disenfranchised. These people would not be able to vote at all as they do not have the resources to pay this debt unless someone steps in and pays it for them. If this is not allowed, these people most likely will never be able to vote. The Florida legislature essentially created this “poll tax” and if they don’t want this potential voter corruption, they should get rid of the requirement. Basically Ted’s argument above.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The Florida legislature essentially created this “poll tax” and if they don’t want this potential voter corruption, they should get rid of the requirement.

          So they should. But that doesn’t mean that Bloomberg — prominent Democrat and Presidential candidate — did not offer voters a thing of value, because he did.

    1. Nick Crowley

      I don’t know what the big deal the democrats are making about Florida ex cons being able to vote is. Republicans rely on voters voting for them AGAINST their best interests. Florida, being republican run for years, most likely has terrible crime law that probably unfairly treats people. Longer sentences for small infractions and so forth. Yet, I’d bet the majority of incarcerated people would come out voting republican because ya know “screw the libs”. They’d rather feel that easy sensation, doubling down on pride than make a sensible thought out decision.

  8. Seth Miller

    Re: Bloomberg’s Mitzvah

    Moody does not have a point. The fines were held by a court to be independent of voting. That’s how they were found not to be a poll tax. As a matter of law, then, paying them necessarily is independent of voting. It is not an indirect benefit aimed at incentivizing voting. Nobody gets a benefit for voting that they don’t also get for staying home and eating popcorn while the returns roll in. Or, to use an argument that the Republicans have used in another context: a violation of this statute requires a direct or indirect quid pro quo. Here, there is no quid pro quo.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It is not an indirect benefit aimed at incentivizing voting.

      So Bloomberg did this, out of the goodness of his heart, not realizing this was an election year? Is that really the argument you’re making? Of course Bloomberg intended to incentivize voting!

      1. anon

        As I understand it, he only is paying the fines of people of color, not white felons who might be more likely to vote R.

        1. TMoney

          Paying fines is clearly not political speech. In fact it’s a civil good, as court debts are reduced.
          It could be suspect if Bloomberg had earned his cash from racketeering, but I don’t think anyone has suggested that (yet)

          Bloomberg gets to spend his cash any way he pleases. No limits. Now that’s freedom – Fox news and American conservatives should be well pleased.

          * insert American flag waving here *

      2. Samuel Conner

        > Of course Bloomberg intended to incentivize voting!

        It seems to me that one can unquestionably argue that MB did this with the intention of enabling voting. I don’t see this as giving the subjects incentives to vote that they did not already have.

        Whatever motives the previously disenfranchised persons may have felt to vote, or not vote, presumably are not changed. They are not rewarded for voting, or penalized for not voting, by what MB did.

        Of course, there are potential beneficial consequences to casting one’s ballot, in terms of favorable policies that may result. I would like to think that incentives of this kind are not considered improper by the Florida courts.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The Florida legislature essentially created this “poll tax” and if they don’t want this potential voter corruption, they should get rid of the requirement.

          One reason non-voters don’t vote is that they don’t want to interact with the State (unpaid debts being one such reason). I suppose we can argue about whether removing a disincentive is or is not an incentive; given a general societal norm that voting is good, plus Democrat after Democrat saying “Vote!” I think that it is.

      3. Moe Knows

        Florida really strikes me as a demented place and has its own internal logic of doing things, not found anyplace else. No where else is your right to vote taken away for failure to pay court fees and fines which are in themselves ridiculous. Almost every state these days has groups in place that in fact work to get fines reduced and raise money to pay them off. I suppose if your put in jail over it, it’s hard to vote, but Maine and Michigan they allow voting from jail. Meanwhile Robert Kraft, Patriots owner is told today that they have no intention of pursuing his ‘sex at the massage’, escapade. Florida is the gift the keeps on giving.

        1. dbk

          Re: “demented”: I read yesterday, while trying to get a grasp of Barbara Lagoa’s jurisprudence, that she had written a separate opinion for the (11th Circuit) case re: former felons’ debt obligations, that FL had no obligation to inform them of the actual amounts owed. I simply cannot get my head around that one.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            do they still have those naked face-eating people running amok, there?
            I’ve only been to the Panhandle as an adult, and it was a lot like everywhere else between there and east texas, as far as the humans and their behaviour(early 90’s- righty religion in yer face and ascendant, with a lot of Lost Cause still out in the sunshine)

            not allowing people to know what they owe to the government is just plain evil. how is this justified in conservative intellectual circles?

            1. neo-realist

              Just listen to conservative talk radio, which constitutes most of what you hear for talk radio; intellectual dishonesty is ubiquitous. They screen calls to prevent non-believers from calling them on their BS. Constant repetition of such nonsense manufactures the necessary consent in the voting booth. And also pays off when you control the judiciary.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > that FL had no obligation to inform them of the actual amounts owed

            Yes, that’s extremely beautiful. If only the devisors of the original poll tax had been malevolent and sadistic enough to make the amount of the tax unknown until it came time to pay it! (“Come on down to the courthouse, son, we’ll tell you how much” [gives Wheel of Fortune-like spinner a whirl]).

        2. jr



          Lived there for years, outskirts of Orlando, lived in a trailer where once in a three day period 76¢ was stolen and restolen amongst the 8 guys living there then finally spent on Ramen. Not the good Ramen.

          I tried meth for the first time there and crawled around for two days on the trailer floor unable to sleep. An unmedicated manic on meth. My vision pixillated and I would drag myself around the place like some kind if semi vocal invertebrate. Mumbling about dying and seeing faces. My “friends“ would drag me back into my corner of the trailer and I would creep back out. Finally, Baby Jesus sent someone with a Rufie and I passed out.

          The neighbors were a gay leather couple. I worked midnight shifts so I missed the screams. I did, once or twice, catch the sound of fully automatic machine gun fire from the “Swamps”, a place I would not venture into for love nor money. That was the white supremacists gang. Or gangs. The muffled explosions were the sounds of a meth lab going up.

          I worked at a circuit board factory that paid enough to pay my rent, gas up, eat pizza, and do ecstasy and acid. My raver buddies and I would sit in the parking lot smoking enormous joints of kind bud with our coffee then stumble into our stations. The screw ups were epic. Lot’s mislabeled, wrong films applied to sheets, but nothing every changed, no one raised hell or really did anything.

          The factory was a f**cking carnival of weirdos, ex cons, druggies, losers, drunks, and a few ecstatic Christians. The plant floor looked like a movie set for baby Aliens, small to large vats of bubbling acid baths, chained sheets of copper and aluminum dipping in and out. Occasionally the alarms went off when one of the truly, honestly, non-perjoratively imbecilic floor crew members dumped a 10K$ fine’s worth of chemicals into the local waterway.

          The floor crew was led by a man named Frankenlove. I swear to God that name is true. Picture a more humanish kid brother of Frankenstein with coke bottle glasses, 6’4, 220 lbs, in grayish overalls and a tee shirt that would start out whole in the morning but by days end would be a lace like webbing not unlike that swiss cheese with the tiny holes. This was due to Frankenlove’s eschewing wearing gloves and reaching directly into the mildish acid baths used to clean the copper substrates when one came unchained. He was a surprisingly intelligent man, which seemed great at first but then you realized that he was quite smart and totally, utterly insane.

          But Frankenlove was a straight laced Sunday schoolmarm compared to the Wizard. The Wizard was Frankenlove’s boss, the plant manager. Where to begin. A former Uni of Chicago English professor who got canned for doinking a student. Came to Florida and somehow ended up at the Island of Misfit Toys. Being by far the most intelligent and educated being for miles, he was put in charge of the machinery, which he came to know with the intimacy of a lover. It was his domain. He was the Wizard.

          Picture a 5’5 wizened stick of cirrhosis with a long gray beard and an honest to goodness conical wizard’s hat. Star and moons. He had Frankenlove as his well spoken Golem and a squad of Moorlocks to scream at hysterically. His voice could be heard echoing around the plant floor.

          My buddy Weasel had got me that job. His wife and their pals were hardcore ravers and I often tagged along. Wease and I were blowing a joint one lunch break at the plant and he told me about a party he had gone to that weekend at the Wizards trailer home in some God forsaken patch of swampland 20 miles past nowhere.

          The trailer was a three bedroom affair where three gentlemen in their lonely, bitter, 60’s whiled away their days. Drunks so desensitized they no longer got drunk, just angry. The still new Internet was beyond the comprehension of these worthies and Wease told me, humor blending with awe, that their combined collection of porn was staggering. A wall of VHS tapes. The place was probably a fire bomb with all that film.

          The partygoers were some of the loons from the plant as well as others Wease didn’t know. Now, when the Wizard brought the Wease into his place, he offered him a shot. Wease wasn’t a drinker but the Wizard pressed him. You see, in his fridge the wizard had a five gallon plastic jug filled with booze. Along with the booze was a spectrum of narcotics to make the DEA marvel. The jug had been there for years and over the years, people had dropped bit and bites of any of the stuff that had come through the house. At the Wizard’s insistence.

          Coke, heroin, LSD, peyote, meth, who the hell knows. With like Jack Daniels or something. The Wizard would do shots of it all the time, for that matter the Wizard did LSD at work sometimes. Wease told me a guy at the party had done a shot and the next day turned up missing. The cops found his body in the woods next to the trailer, ruled a suicide.

      4. Seth Miller

        He is offering no benefit that accrues to voters that does not also accrue to non-voters. While he may hope that removing an impediment to voting will lead people to vote, he has not incentivised voting as opposed to not voting.

    2. L

      Agreed. She may have enough to make a case and to justify finding some poor schmuck who will say that they were encouraged to vote and then feed that to tucker Carlson and so to Trump. This in turn will be used to justify some ballot counting oddities which will go to court.

      But what could possibly be shady about that?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > But what could possibly be shady about that?

        Oh, it’s all shady as hell. The Legislature (I’n not saying Republicans, because for all I know they had Democrat allies) clearly overturned the will of the voters, who did something excellent, even altruistic.

        That doesn’t imply Bloomberg didn’t put his foot in it, though.

        1. L

          Oh yeah. I find it unlikely he even looked up the laws or thought ahead. Probably none of the people involved did.

        2. ChrisAtRU

          Why is no one spinning this as Bloomberg helping out FL state revenue?! Seems to me that FL state coffers are the real beneficiaries here.

        3. Anthony G Stegman

          It seems to me that there is a difference between helping someone vote vs incentivizing someone to vote a certain way. Paying the fines will allow the person to vote. Paying the fines doesn’t mean the person then votes a certain way. The attorney general’s logic escapes me.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > helping someone vote vs incentivizing someone to vote a certain way.

            In a sane world, where the Democrat party made expanding the base of voters central-to-mission and helped people get registered in off-year and on — or, more likely, set up an NGO to do the same thing — there would be no issue at all.

            But we are not on Earth 2. We are on Earth 1.

            In this world, we have a voter who can’t vote in an election year because he owes the state (say) $5000.

            So a miracle occurs and some guy writes a check clearing the $5000. And that person is wearing a colorful t-Shirt that says “I am Michael Bloomberg, former Presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket. I paid your debt!”

            And that’s not “incentivizing someone to vote in a certain way”? Really?

            (Reminds me of the so-called Christians who feed the homeless only to proselytize them. “No incentive”? Really? They wouldn’t do it unless the food was an incentive!)

            1. Noone from Nowheresville

              But technically Michael Bloomberg, former democratic presidential candidate, Republican mayor then Independent mayor who spent moyla to overturn term limits for mayor in NYC, isn’t writing this individual a check. The coalition is writing a check to the state. I hope they have negotiated a major discount, especially since the amounts seem to be unknown for many.

              If this is really a “problem: then let’s do away with the charitable industrial complex at every single institutional and individual level. While we’re at it, let’s get rid of fees / fines used to generate administrative $$$s and keep the poor poorer.

              1. Noone from Nowheresville

                Is this an ethical question of

                It’s not how you play the game, it’s whether or not you win.


                It’s not whether or not you win the game, it’s how you play the game and the moral argument which matters.

                I’ll note many on either side jump on the moral bit when it suits them.

                eta: So one sides moves to strip the ball (citizens) of their right to vote and the other side says hey, I’ll see your move and counter this one. Then the other side no fair, I’m taking it to the rules board. And the game goes back and forth. While the ball stays out on the field.

            2. TMoney

              The problem with the argument is the idea that you lose the right to vote because you owe money. Your vote is your membership in the Republic. If you don’t have it, you don’t live in a Republic.

              Anything that restores that vote is legitimate in my book.

              Restoring your right to vote is not the same as paying for your vote.

    3. Noone from Nowheresville

      a side thought: I thought the fines / fees might not be known for up to 6 years. Isn’t that rather a long time to keep someone from voting?

      The article said that the Bloomberg raised around $20 million which would be donated to The Florida Rights Restitution Coalition, which had already raised $5 million and had other celebrities on board.

      eta: So will all the donors via Bloomberg’s efforts also be investigated? What about the other celebrities who had already given to the Coalition?

      Some additional questions pop up:
      1. Of that say $20 million, how much of it was Bloomberg’s money vs. other donors? 2. Did he raise it via a charitable foundation, a political pac or one of those special see-nothing super pacs or will the donors be donating directly to the coalition?
      2. What about other charitable organizations which buy up things like old medical debt for pennies on the dollar then forgive them? Is there a time limit / timing issue on these things?

      1. nippersmom

        Coincidentally, a few minutes ago I got a text telling me today was the last day to donate to help pay the fines of ex-felons in Florida who were being denied the right to vote because of those fines.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Coincidentally, a few minutes ago I got a text telling me today was the last day to donate to help pay the fines of ex-felons in Florida who were being denied the right to vote because of those fines.

          38 days before the election, ffs.

          1. Noone from Nowheresville

            So would this be okay if the Coalition had stepped up to the plate to pay off the debts as soon as the people voted to reinstate citizen’s voting rights before the original court ruling (or perhaps filing) and subsequent appeal came down?

            *This is Florida after all, one well-versed in the state’s fines / fee system for criminal justice could have predicted that the establishment’s legal response might use it to permanently delay the restoration of the actual ability to vote.

            *ETA: Even if the debts to society are re-paid in full, I think a former resident of the Florida prison industrial complex might just think twice about the blowback from actually voting. What should we do about that?

  9. Wukchumni

    Commodities: “New supply constraints may have tea drinkers feeling anxious. Prices of wholesale tea leaves have jumped as a series of logistical issues have supplies tightening…. and the supply-chain troubles are starting to lift consumer prices at U.S. stores” [Wall Street Journal].
    The era of the clipper ships in the mid 19th century came about largely in an effort to bring back tea from China more expeditiously, with said ships making the voyage in around 100 days, to ensure that the tea would be fresh.

    Ghosts of Cape Horn by Gordon Lightfoot


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I remember reading a study, long long ago, about how tea was imported into Britain to avoid taxation. Turns out all the strategies that dope smugglers used in the 20th century, tea smugglers used in the 18th: Motherships standing off shore, and sending bales in via small boats, etc.

      1. jsn

        I’m reading “Pirates Nest and the rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740” which is an accidentally perfect bookend to go opposite Shaxon’s “Treasure Islands” about the cultural antecedents to English Liberalism: piracy and it’s logistical base inside society, not at all outside as popularly imagined.

        As the looters normalize their power, they criminalize the opportunities they exploited to get there and look for new, institutional forms of violence to expand their power and wealth. Entrepreneur or gangster? Freedom fighter or terrorist? It’s all in the power relations of who utters the words!

        1. jsn

          I should have added that both books cover the same geography: the islands that were central to the Elizabethan Pyrate Empyre reman central to the Neoliberal UK off shore one.

            1. jsn

              I suspect the bloody minded Tory roots in the Elizabethan Pyrate Empyre are the substrate of current Tory delusions about what they can accomplish outside the EU also.

              Family lore, family delusions of grandeur unchecked across the generations by any external feedback.

    2. skippy

      I seem to remember that the arms race for speed, which curiously enough started yacht racing, was a factor of first delivery fetching the highest price.

      This was then made a public sport by the news papers of the day carrying the progress of the early departed and public celebration for the victor.

      1. Wukchumni

        I seem to remember that the arms race for speed, which curiously enough started yacht racing, was a factor of first delivery fetching the highest price.

        That’s correct, and the America’s Cup race started in 1851 as a result. I was in Melbourne in 1983 when the Aussies wrested it away from the Yanks, with mad celebrations in the streets, and a couple of Aussie friends asked how it felt to lose the cup, trying to rub it in…

        I told them as nicely as I could that essentially nobody cared about it back home aside from some blue bloods with too much money.

        …they were quite taken aback

        1. skippy

          Personally having raced at a high level across a good spectrum of classes, I have to say, I enjoy the less than 30ft craft and with the minimum crew. Patronage of craft is respective.

          My most enjoyable races were on a 24ft Challenger in South Bay L.A. out of Redondo harbor in Dog fleet or in Class. Two man affair with me running fore deck and main at times whilst skipper ran till and main otherwise.

          Nothing like being on long reach down wind with jib and spinnaker up and jibing solo with back against mast. Then again that quarter ton dagger board craft in A fleet was a gas, most of crew was ballast hanging off it.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I seem to remember that the arms race for speed, which curiously enough started yacht racing, was a factor of first delivery fetching the highest price.

        The Bush dynasty has “cigarette boats” at Kennebunkport for exactly the same reason

    3. wilroncanada

      Saw Lightfoot in Toronto in the mid 60s. Saw him again a couple of years ago here on Vancouver Island, in his dotage. Still writing topical and historical stuff. Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald–a coal carrier going down in Lake Superior. Black Day in July–The Detroit Riots. The Canadian Railroad Trilogy–at one time voted top Canadian song of all time (CBC). One of the runners-up was American Woman by the Guess Who out of Winnipeg.

  10. Billy

    Right-Wing Media Is Already Hurling Racist, Misogynist Fire At Kamala Harris

    “In the same segment, [Tucker] Carlson brought up Harris’ dating history and suggested that an ex-boyfriend, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, “launched” her political career.”

    Suggested? Such speculative inuendo.

    “Yes, I may have influenced her career by appointing her to two state commissions when I was Assembly speaker,” Brown wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle op-ed. “I certainly helped with her first race for district attorney in San Francisco.”

    “When she was 30, Harris was dating 60 year old Willie Brown, at the time the Speaker of the California State Assembly. As well as gifting his young squeeze a BMW car, the relationship reaped even more tangible benefits when Brown handed Harris two influential positions.”

    “Brown, named attorney Kamala Harris to the California Medical Assistance Commission, a job that pays $72,000 a year. Brown also appointed Harris to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, a lucrative position worth a further $97,088 a year, according to the same article.


    The Huffpost Khive hysteria for the Kamaleon is pretty blatant. It has been “suggested” that Kamala Harris is the biggest and best gift to Trump’s re-election campaign.

    1. ambrit

      I’ll go a step farther and suggest that Harris is the Hitler to Biden’s Hindenburg.
      I’m afraid to say that the idea is not completely farfetched.

        1. Wukchumni

          He strikes me more as Bockscar, which almost ran out of gas trying to get back to it’s base after bombing Nagasaki. The bombing mission had more screwups than a Jerry Lewis comedy.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I see what you mean. From Wikipedia-

            ‘The failure to drop the Fat Man at the precise bomb aim point caused the atomic blast to be confined to the Urakami Valley. As a consequence, a major portion of the city was protected by the intervening hills, but even so, the bomb was dropped over the city’s industrial valley midway between the Mitsubishi Steel and Arms Works in the south and the Mitsubishi-Urakami Ordnance Works in the north.’

            So the city’s industries were not the real target of this bombing?

  11. antidlc

    ““Medicare Advantage should not ‘game the system’ but prioritize patient care, honest billing””

    Some info on Medicare Advantage, fwiw.

    A friend received “Medicare and You 2021” (official US government Medicare handbook from CMS) in the mail.

    Last section is titled “Compare health &drug plans in your area”. However, if you go to that section, it says, “Medigap policies aren’t included in this section.” it refers you to a URL on the Medicare website to see the medigap supplemental insurance plans. The section lists pages and pages of Medicare Advantage plans, though.

    Disgusting that it won’t give you complete information.

    1. flora

      The mailer is imo misleading in several places. Advantage plans seem to have a lot of “gotcha’s”, more than traditional Medicare, imo. Traditional Medical requires a part D plan and it’s a good idea to get a gap plan, and compare the various gap plan ‘will pay for’ groups.

      Try using the direct Medicare.gov website for info. Most of the info is there but some digging into related links may be needed to get all the info you need. This is a good link to start with:

      Medigap insurance is separate from and does not include part D drug coverage insurance. Your friend may need both.

        1. antidlc

          Thanks, flora.

          My friend is quite aware of the different Medicare (including Medigap and Part D) offerings and the pitfalls of Medicare Advantage plans. He has done quite a bit of research.

          I was just commenting on the fact that the guide that CMS sends to people doesn’t even list the Medigap plans in your area. That info should be included if the guide is going to list Medicare Advantage plans.

          But then again, the insurance companies prey on people making the wrong decision.

    2. JohnnySacks

      There’s an entire cottage service industry around analyzing billing data and identifying tests and visits which are (questionably) related to existing patient issues. Sold as helping the patient by identifying related issues in early stages and helping the patient long term (wink wink), padding the billing is just a minor positive side effect.

      Segue that to full on billing code analysis and identifying mistaken (wink-wink) service codes and up-coding them to higher compensated services.

      (Disclaimer: A friend owns one, we never discuss it)

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Segue that to full on billing code analysis and identifying mistaken (wink-wink) service codes and up-coding them to higher compensated services.

        See NC here, here, and here for medical coding scams and upcoding in particular. Medical coding, unsurprisngly, pays well as a profession.

    3. HotFlash

      I live in Canada. I do not understand your system. I do not understand why USians put up with it, any more than I understand why you put up with HOA’s. Land of the free and home of the brave, yeah.

      1. antidlc

        My opinion…

        We have to put up with it because there are still too many people who have not been burned by the system (yet).

        It has to get worse before it gets better.

  12. bwilli123

    Re More than 100 of Justice Ginsburg’s former clerks meet her casket at the Supreme Court steps.
    I’m trying to count the numerous persons of color in that assemblage. Not having much luck.

    1. PeterfromGeorgia

      She won’t have but one black man. Steve Sailer wrote a scathing piece on RBG’s use of only one black man and (IIRC) no other minorities in her selection of over 140 clerks during her tenure. Hilarious in that RBG argued in her dissent on a case that numerical analysis can be used as evidence of disparate impact, i.e. racial discrimination.

      Who, whom, indeed…

      1. Kasia

        The one “black” clerk looked to be 3/4 white, basically he looked like what Obama having son with Grace Kelly would have looked like.

        I would love to see an ethnic/religious breakdown of her clerks. I’m betting her selections showed a huge disparate impact in favor of people from a similar background to her.

        A classic example of do as I say, not as I do. She imposed woke Kantian universalism on the masses while in her own life practiced based Hegelian ethnocentrism.

    2. ambrit

      I noticed the same thing. Perhaps it will be “Good Riddance” to RBG.
      One unmentioned positive in the practice of having the supreme court justices be lifetime appointees is that, after ascending to the Parnassian Heights, some justices “shift” their ideology.

        1. ambrit

          Good point, but, in our present state of precarity, of many natures, betting is all we are allowed to do. The corollary to which is; The House Always Wins. The ultimate counter to which is; Burn the House Down.
          As you allude, we are not being given many options.
          As many are waking up to, in this year’s election, we are being given two faces of the same Party to vote for. Either way, the Party wins. (See above.)

      1. neo-realist

        Republican presidents have gotten better at getting set in amber right wingers on the court. Souter’s double crossing of Bush I taught them to be very thorough. No more of this Earl Warren left shifting.

        1. ambrit

          More properly, this is an issue for the Evangelical Divines ensconced in the decision making apparat of the Uniparty. It betakes of the dilemma of ‘Free Will.’

  13. Alternate Delegate

    Minnesota still has 10 votes in the Electoral College, not 19.

    Suspicious fire indeed. That combination of Circle-A and “Biden” spray paint tags would occur to … umm … a Trump supporter trying to explain how they accidentally (or deliberately) burned down their own garage?

      1. edmondo

        If this story is true, the more amazing thing is that Biden has two supporters in the state. And they were willing to admit it.

  14. ProNewerDeal

    fwd journalist Max Blumenthal has found the (hilarious) evidentiary Put!n phone call on Russiagate! /sarc https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyAom8aDgGo

    Send this to Rachel Maddow, H3llary Cl!nton, Kamala Harris, Adam Schiff, Cenk Uygur, Sham Seder, Stephanie Miller, Alyssa Milano, & all other adherents of the Russiagate Cult!

  15. farragut

    Re: JPM’s spoofing the gold & silver markets. Gold bugs have long suspected *many* entities are elbow-deep in the precious metals markets in an attempt to keep a lid on true price discovery in gold. While the prosecution of JPM (& HSBC, I think?, from last year) is a welcome and entirely unexpected development, the really big players are suspected to be the western Central Banks (ie, the Fed, BoE, etc.) and the LBMA / COMEX axis of evil. All in an ultimately vain effort to hinder the loss of confidence in fiat.

    1. L

      I’m not sure I buy that. The fact is that fiat currency has value precisely because it isn’t pegged to a hard gold standard. Otherwise it is sensitive to price shocks. At the same time I am continually surprised that anyone expects “price discovery” in a substantially unequal market. Of course it is manipulated. That is how money is made.

      1. farragut

        Call me a victim of marketing. Before I became aware of how manipulated, asymmetric, and inefficient markets were (that epiphany occurred during the GFC in 2009), I was repeatedly told by the government and the MSM we had free markets in which investors were protected by laws, etc. Now I know (and invest) better–but I still complain.

        But more importantly, “…fiat has value because it *isn’t* pegged to a standard, …sensitive to price shocks“. Can you elaborate on this? This seems to contradict much of what I’ve read on fiat v asset-backed currencies.

        1. L

          Well here is the theory I have (admittedly mostly my own). The purpose of currency is to make it easy to predict the price of eggs. If the value of a currency changes suddenly then people have a hard time predicting how much they need to save for tomorrow’s eggs and people go hungry, or worse.

          If you peg a currency to something else, then you are sensitive to that thing, meaning that if someone else chooses to manipulate the supply of gold in the world, or more is just discovered, then your currency value changes outside of your control. As a consequence you don’t have control over the more important things like the price of eggs. If on the other hand you float currency and manage it in other ways you are at less risk from that kind of shock and are better able to float out of them. This is not to say that you are risk free but you avoid that.

          It is a half-formed theory I admit but it is the one I use.

          1. farragut

            Interesting theory. It occurred to me–after I posted–we’re on a blog which favors MMT, a theory about which I know very little, so you may get a different response from an MMT’er than mine.

            Under a gold standard the government agrees to redeem its currency for a set amount of gold (say, $35 will get you 1 ounce of gold in return). Each dollar represents a claim of ownership of a portion of the gold sitting in the vault of the Central Bank.

            If your govt is financially prudent, you aren’t likely to redeem/convert your dollars into gold because there is a relatively stable supply of dollars in circulation. If your govt is profligate, they’re pumping too much newly-created money into the system such that the value of existing dollars decreases—because there are now more dollars claiming the same amount of gold. Just like when a company issues new shares of stock, they dilute the value of existing shareholders’ stocks.

            Realizing this, you hurry to the bank to convert your dollars to gold because you no longer have confidence the value of a dollar will remain stable. As merchants realize there’s tons of new money circulating, they raise prices to compensate for the decreased value of the dollar. Eggs which previously cost $2/doz, now cost $3/doz.

            Likewise, you’d expect the prices of almost everything to increase as this knowledge percolates throughout the system. The price of gold (and houses, cars, appliances, food, commodities, etc.) should then increase, signaling to markets the loss of confidence in Central Bankers. So, enter the manipulations to depress and distort the true price of gold.

            1. Alternate Delegate

              Except that a stable inflation rate of two or three percent is quite predictable, and does not lead to a loss of confidence in the central bank.

              The shocks that killed the gold standard were deflationary (I finally understood this after reading Polanyi’s “The Great Transformation”).

              It took only a trivial trade deficit (maybe a single percentage point?) for a country to quickly get drained of gold specie. The only fix was deflation and austerity until that country was able to bring gold in from abroad again. This hit business sectors sharply and unequally, starting with import dependent businesses. It killed many businesses dead.

              Of Polanyi’s three “fake commodities” demanded by the market (land, labor, and money), no one cared about the environmental destruction wreaked on (1) the land, a “double-movement” of protective regulation – now reversed – briefly tried to protect (2) workers from the market, but businesses? Once it was clear that (3) commodity money killed businesses, that was going to have to get fixed!

              There was a middle ground for a while. The real gold standard died in the 1920’s, while the central-bank-managed version stuck around until the 1970’s when the US finally went off it. They were using an “only governments can redeem in gold” rule to keep it all behind the scenes, and buffer out the deflationary aspects across the broader economy. That worked until the US became a debtor nation and Charles de Gaulle et al. started trying to call back all that gold.

              Fiat currency with a stable rate of inflation is good for business, which is why we have it.

              Business might feel differently about that if we started to use that money printing press (and a useful stable rate of inflation!) to do some good for the workers instead of the banks. Which is what MMT is about.

              1. Wukchumni

                One of the many reasons the Au standard went away was the USA held something like 80% of all above ground goods, while the rest of the ‘first world’ was stony broke from WW1. Can’t very well have a standard such as it was when the other countries have no money and you have a near monopoly.

                It’s way different now as a number of countries are players, in theory we still have oodles of it under Manhattan, but as if the Unabankers would allow such a tantalizing asset to sit still right underneath them, ha!

                As far as manipulation goes by the usual players on Wall*Street, old yeller might be the only financial instrument to benefit from admission of massive fraud.

                1. Amfortas the hippie

                  it’s a really good read.
                  really filled in the blanks.
                  after i finished it, it went on the shelf in the econ section next to Mario Puzo(who’s next to Marx, who’s next to Smith…)

              2. farragut

                Let’s say you walk into a blue-collar bar, full of miners or steel workers. What’s your elevator pitch for explaining to them their currency needs to lose 2% purchasing power annually? And don’t forget to smile, as you explain the benefits of inflation….

                1. eg

                  That depends — are they debtors? If they regularly owe more money than they hold (which is true for most with a mmortgage) you may stand a chance. Especially if you can explain the consequences of deflation for debtors …

                2. No it was not, apparently

                  While it may appear as trolling (and in fact actually could be libertarian trolling), the question itself is interesting, as it shows a profound misunderstanding of financial positions of lower (“steel worker”) versus upper (“I invest better, but I still complain”) class.

                  So, what does inflation do?

                  It reduces the value of pure financial assets of the upper classes, thereby forcing them to engage in productive ventures.

                  It cannot, however, reduce the value of assets lower classes hold, i.e. food has no financial value, it has caloric value, house or apartment has no other value but to allow one a safe shelter to live in, clothes- … etc., etc.

                  It also protects the lower classes from financial predation from above as minimum wage, minimum pension and welfare payments rise with inflation, but loans and mortgages and other obligations do not; thereby increasing workers and pensioners’ financial stability and their net monthly financial position.

                  Nonetheless, the point of inflation isn’t that you would want to artificially induce it, but rather, that it is an acceptable side effect of full employment and full industrial activity policies, as long as it is low (i.e. 4% – 10% annually).

                  Next, what does deflation do(which is what you get if the central bank refuses to expand the money supply)?

                  It stops the growth, or even starts to reduce wages of the lower classes, whilst their bank loans remain nominal; this leads to immediate spiral of defaults, property seizures, evictions, and homelessness.

                  It also starts to destroy small and medium businesses (the mechanism is the same as above).

                  And finally it triggers a country wide depression, with rioting and possible civil war as side effects (depending on the society in question).


                  I would suggest to the goldbuggery (and other asset) aficionados to rethink their obsessive desire to bring about deflation, and to never forget – be careful what you wish for, as you may very well get it, all the side effects and fireshows included.

                  1. Wukchumni

                    It wasn’t deflation that caused an ounce of all that glitters to go from 300 Pesos to about 130,000 Pesos since the turn of the century in Argentina, just the opposite.

                3. Osito

                  Their labor purchases 2% more currency each year. If they mostly have long term financial debts and real assets, then each year the required payment on the financial debt can be paid with less labor. Got mortgage? Get inflation.

                  If they have financial assets, like long term currency holdings, savings accounts, or CDs, then inflation erodes them. But if they have assets such as real property, or labor power, then those values should pace inflation right? I wonder where mutual funds or stocks fit in.

            2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Barter theory of money. Money stores labor so it can be transported across time and space. You were productive and grew some wheat which was harvested in the Fall. You want to store your wheat-labor until Spring and spend it then. And you do not want to spend it at your wheat field, you want to spend it in town.

              My thought is that money which took no labor to create struggles to effectively store labor over time. That is why precious metals served as money for thousands of years, because they took labor (mining) to create. Money that can be created without labor entails the temptation to produce money far in excess of the labor and productivity it represents. So it does not retain its purchasing power.

              One example goes like this: the minimum wage in 1962 was $1.25, or five silver quarters. The face value of those quarters today would not represent a viable minimum wage. But the silver value of those five quarters today is approximately $19.55. Which would be a handsome minimum wage today.

              (Cue the “state theory of money” people, to tell me that all money is debt that is issued by the state. But try as I might I’m struggling to find the debtor, or the state for that matter, in the 1-ounce gold piece I have in my hand).

              1. Acacia

                Isn’t it simply that the gold in your hand in really money (it has been called world money), whereas the paper in your wallet is the state money, a.k.a. debt? After all, it does say “Federal Reserve Note” on those US bills, not “Money”.

                1. Yves Smith

                  No, the value of gold is very much a convention, although it does have industrial application, as well as traditionally being used in jewelry. It’s not very good for the main use of money, paying for stuff.

                  In Vietnam, traditionally women would get gold beads as part of their inheritance. During the US War in Vietnam, women who were trading gold for food got way way way way less than the metal value.

              2. Amfortas the hippie

                i’ve considered a sack of “Junk Silver”, for post crumple…or in case we have to flee the country.
                cousin insists on bouillon as a store of wealth…but this would be specifically for after the fall, and i can’t see carrying around a file and scales and assay equipment when i go to town(as if town would have anything i’d need in such circumstances)
                but cousin is a Libertarian gun-nut gold bug guy, stuck in the Mountain Man/Compound version of collapsitarianism.
                I’ve already got a whole lot of black pepper in a cool, dark place.

                1. HotFlash

                  Sewing needles, nails and screws — small stuff to make and mend things with. IIRC, Dmitri Orloff got out of Russia using a trunkful of vodka as currency. Longer term, knowing how to make drinkable alcohol, forage wild food and other useful things, and make soap might be useful.

                  1. jr

                    As the Archdruid pointed out:

                    “When Genghis Kahn shows up at your door and you hand him a beer, you’ve made a friend.”

              3. Grebo

                There are several kinds of money representing debt of the issuer, which may be your neighbour, the municiple warehouse, a bank, a big corporation…

                Governments (and the Mafia) have the advantage that they can put people in debt to them by fiat, so the debt they issue does not have to be repaid. Here’s $10 for your work, oh but you owe me $10 so let’s call it quits.

                Commodity money like gold does not represent a debt so its primary use has always been for dealing with foreigners who do not have an account in your debt ledger.

              4. No it was not, apparently

                “Barter theory of money. Money stores labor so it can be transported across time and space.”

                No, absolutely not, this is an illusion afforded to you by a well working society.

                Only material goods can store “labor” (or any value, for that matter), in an interpersonal relationship, “value, debt, or future expectations” are stored by a contract, either verbal or written; money is a system of mass industrial contracts by all parties of a society, it’s intent – like all contracts – is to keep the relationships going on.

                The point of money is to flow and in doing so to keep productive efforts in operation plus start new ones if possible (and so should always be on “too much” and never on “not enough” side of the scale).

                Never is money intended to stay put, any money that does so, needs to be replaced by central authorities immediately (“printing” cry tears libertarians), or risk a reduction in ongoing production capacity of the economy.

        2. HotFlash

          This seems to contradict much of what I’ve read on fiat v asset-backed currencies.

          Okay, here is my go at this.

          1.) Gold is dug out of the ground at some rate, which depends on the amount of gold actually in the universe, and the ease of mining and refining it, so labor is a component. Other factors may apply, such as ecological or aboriginal rights — ha ha, so, well, slightly.

          2.) Wealth (define how you will) is generated by economic activity — industry, labour, organization, research and innovation, all that stuff.

          3.) There is no reason on God’s green planet that the amt of gold mined and refined is in any way equal to the amount of wealth created by economic activity.

          Tying the two is a prescription for inflation or deflation of created wealth. So, now what?

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            You’re conflating the quantity of gold with the price of gold. Certainly the amount of gold mined and refined can be equal to the amount of wealth created by economic activity. At the right price of gold.

            1. Wukchumni

              There was enough all that glitters for world trade in 1900 when it was worth $20 per oz, presently there are 6x as many humans on the planet, so why isn’t it worth $120 per oz now instead of 15x that latter amount currently?

              That’s on account of way too much fiat currency being issued-not people being born.

              1. Grebo

                So you think gold should always have the same price. Why not water or labour? I presume you don’t imagine everything can stay the same price, why should anything? As long as prices in general don’t move too quickly I don’t see the problem. But then my stock of gold is puny.

                1. Wukchumni

                  The gold price was essentially hardly changed in the UK from when the first Sovereign was struck in 1489, one Pound Sterling was worth about 1/4 of an ounce.

          2. farragut

            I wonder how much of the so-called wealth in our country is really debt, masquerading as wealth?

            At $35/oz, there’s not enough gold to recapitalize our financial system. But, what about $10,000/oz? Or $20,000/oz? At the right price, there’s more than enough gold, as HAL says above.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              The central bank of the United States is now (for some reason) the largest investment manager in the world. They currently own 21,932 different securities, everything from obscure junk bonds to German automaker bonds (their largest purchases).

              If the Fed was to announce that their QE purchases going forward would include gold bullion then gold would surge in price. This would drag the entire commodity complex along with it as everything from oil to wheat would reprice. The balance between goods and the quantity of “money” representing those goods would be somewhat restored and it would be back to the races and back to work for everybody. The Fed would instantly get the inflation they so urgently seek.

              (Ask me separately whether I think inflation is somehow a “good” thing. Before doing so, ponder a quick question: as productivity rises do you think the price of the goods being produced should A: rise, or B: fall? For example: a farmer can produce 1000 ears of corn from one acre. With advances in farming he can now produce 2000 ears of corn from the same acre with the same amount of work. Should each ear of corn cost A. less, or B. more?).

              1. WobblyTelomeres

                As I informed my tea party congress critter, a man with nothing does not worry about inflation. Not my exact words, mind you.

  16. pjay

    For those of you who think an anti-Trump platform of “white fragility,” “defending looting,” or praising “Cuties” might need a little beefing up, here’s another plank from today’s Huffington Post:

    ‘The Death Of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Pushed Me To Join The Satanic Temple’

    From the article:

    “When Justice Ginsburg died, I knew immediately that action was needed on a scale we have not seen before. Our democracy has become so fragile that the loss of one of the last guardians of common sense and decency in government less than two months before a pivotal election has put our civil and reproductive rights in danger like never before. And, so, I have turned to Satanism.”

    I think this will have real appeal in flyover country. I’m waiting for the NPR interview.


    1. pjay

      Be sure to check out the picture at the top. The QAnon folks will love it!

      This was a featured piece for a little while, then hidden. I sure hope Fox News finds it before it is disappeared completely.

        1. George Mason

          I never went any further than the Cub Scouts (thankfully) and now there’s ads from lawyers on tv & the radio pleading with you to sue your den mother or scout leader, and seeing as mom was my den mother, that ain’t gonna fly.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Wow maybe I should jump on the bandwagon, our den mother was my friend’s father, and he always seemed to have an excuse for needing to “adjust” my underwear. My Mom couldn’t understand why my interest in the Cub Scouts waned so quickly.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        Temple of Satan is a snarky(and rather effective) civil rights organisation that culture jams the Right’s efforts to make us all into Handmaids.
        Christofascists put a statue of Moses on the courthouse lawn…here come the “satanists” to demand equal representation…this really happened, in Oklahoma, IIRC…ended up with a statue like the one in the article on the courthouse lawn, because the law is pretty darned clear.
        it was both hilarious, and a pointed jab at those who would impose their narrow religious views on us all.

        1. pjay

          I’m all for that kind of iju jitsu tactic; in fact that does sound hilarious, and for a crucial principle.

          But this didn’t read like a merry prankster type of article to me, in the context of the culture-war over Ginsberg (and Trump), published at a “liberal” website. I know white privilege is real, and I can understand and empathize with looting in some instances. But as we have seen recently, there is a certain way of pushing these points by id-pol liberals that is guaranteed to alienate the majority and convince them you are an oblivious idiot. This article struck me the same way. Its tone around the death of Saint Ginsburg was apocryphal. The sacred principle she seemed most concerned with was the right to an abortion. I also support this right, but I can see how a “Satanist” pushing abortion while mourning Ginsburg on a liberal website might be yet another great propaganda coup by the Right.

    1. Samuel Conner

      A friend yesterday emailed me a photo of her Biden 2020 bumper stickers. THey read

      Biden 2020

      But this is BS


      Something of an enthusiasm gap. One wonders if these expressions of dissatisfaction with the D establishment will be blamed on Bernie Bros

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Pol: Vote for me.

          Plebe: Why?

          Pol: No reason.

          Plebe: Oh, OK then.

          Yep that’ll work. If you want the “where else are they going to go?” trick to keep working, that is.

  17. chuck roast

    Tesla owners locked out of their cars:
    This is a double post. I liked that. Just in case anybody missed the obvious absolute and utter stupidity of people who would buy a car which someone else controls the entry to. And much of the populace is infected with this sort of dumb-down. This is the perfect metaphor for our technological future.

    My fellow travelers on the 60 bus pay their buck at the door and continue on to their destination blissfully unaware of this idiot alternative future.

      1. RMO

        I would never buy a Tesla myself but the owners were still able to get into and drive their cars during the network outage – it’s just all the other stuff (none of which in my opinion is much use to the owner but is great for the manufacturer in terms of monetization and control over their products – and their customers) that wasn’t available.

  18. JWP

    Lots of outrage lately about Robinhood traders ruining the stock market. I don’t see how they are any different than the bots and algos IBs and others use to complete billions of trades. Maybe people are just looking for a scapegoat for the failings of the system they created, but massive price swings might be more realistic of the actual value than unchecked growth. The market needs at least 30-40% shaved off until it is corrected and neither Robinhoodies or algorithms are going to help that.

    1. Wukchumni

      I always have a few packets of oral rehydration salts in my daypack & backpack, as I once got way dehydrated about 8 days into a 10 day trip and was in deep kimchee until somebody mixed said salts with a quart of water, and within an hour I was back in good stead.

    2. HotFlash

      My life was saved (and possibly those of several of my martial arts training buddies, ahem) when sensei recognised the cause of my uncharacteristic aggressiveness in an outdoor training session. Quick trip to a 7-11 and some Gatorade(tm) later, all was well. Yeah, salts are really important.

  19. Goyo Marquez

    Bernie had people willing to work day and night to get him elected… and he was ahead in the polls…

    1. Arizona Slim

      ISTR writing campaign postcards for Bernie in the early morning hours of New Year’s Eve. I remember telling myself that Biden didn’t have volunteers doing work like this.


    2. HotFlash

      My belief is that Prez 2020 will boil down to which party is the best at hacking/stealing elections, and what the pre-election agreement was.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Trump wouldn’t agree to lose.

          I think he would if he was paid. But nobody would pay him enough*, and at this point we’re in an enormous grudge match anyhow….

          * I.e. more than the book deal and the TV show

  20. Samuel Conner

    Another HuffPo piece:


    I don’t know whether to interpret this to be hyperventilating or valid concern — at this point in the progress of the US epidemic, can these events make a noticeable difference in the course of the epidemic? If they can, this might disadvantage DJT on election day by making the states he is campaigning in more dangerous for people to be in congregate settings.

    What do the election authorities do in states that are planning for large in-person turnout if they have a rapid uptick in infections in the weeks before election day?

    This year is like a recurring nightmare.

    1. ambrit

      What if the various election officials demand a temperature check before entering the voting precinct?
      Can Public Health preempt Voting Rights?
      (I mention this because Phyllis normally has a body temperature of 96.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Several times recently, this has prompted skepticism from Gatekeepers at public venues, such as doctor’s offices. A strict interpretation of public health guidance could prevent her from being allowed in to vote.)

  21. dcblogger

    Barack Obama will join Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris at a pair of fundraising events next week

    directly i heard that she would be the VP nominee I had the feeling that the plan was to elect Biden, 25th amendment him at the first opportunity, and install Harris.

    Let me put on my tin foil hat, I want to be appropriately dressed for this post.

    1. Jack Parsons

      Even if it was not ‘the plan’ (at least in Biden’s head), it is obviously a statistically strong possibility.

      I believe that nominating a WOC as VP was the one thing he could do that would blow the election- and he did it.

    2. notabanker

      I used to wonder if Biden would even make it to the inauguration, but now it’s looking like we’ll be lucky to have the election decided by January.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > directly i heard that she would be the VP nominee I had the feeling that the plan was to elect Biden, 25th amendment him at the first opportunity, and install Harris.

      The donors loved her in the Hamptons!

      So, does one consider two Harris terms. — or at least campaigns — “sane”?

  22. Jack Parsons

    Woodpeckers have gang wars. They stab each other with their beaks, and peck each other’s eyes out.

    “I got a woodpecker to attack me” is not quite Darwin Awards level foolishness, but don’t try it, kids.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      hummingbirds can be quite nasty, too.
      right off the peeing porch(what, y’all don’t have a peein’ porch?) is a great mass of beebrush and a native morning glory, and the hummers spend a lot of time there in the mornings.
      once a week during summer, somebody will get dive-bombed. haven’t yet determined what our offense is, since we are almost universally nice to them(i mean…all the flowers…from february till november…ain’t enough?)

      1. notabanker

        It’s those Texas hummingbirds. The Ohio ones fly right up to you, hover 2 feet away, stare for a couple of seconds and then buzz right off. :)

  23. The Rev Kev

    “Finland deploys coronavirus-sniffing dogs at main airport”

    Quick! This is a job for Big Pharma! Can’t have their profits put at risk by a bunch of cheap muts. They will have to receive the HCQ treatment. Maybe those dog can be tested for effectiveness in detecting people with this virus – in the middle of a cat show. Or maybe rumours can be spread that if you get near these dogs, that you will be given rabies or they will bite your children. Better yet, have Trump say that it is a good idea so that everybody else will come out and deny it simply because Trump said it. Hey, maybe the “Lancet” could come out with a study showing that dogs are no good while not mentioning the fact that they only used people’s pets instead of trained dogs.

  24. VietnamVet

    Too much is going on in 2020 not to be End Times. The Western Empire has fallen. The November election will select history’s last recognized global Emperor. The Mandate of Heaven is lost. Whatever happens, it is an existential time for the individual (are these symptoms COVID-19 and how can I afford food, healthcare, and shelter?) and the nation too (the coronavirus pandemic, economic depression, rioting, hurricanes, firestorms, endless wars and a disputed Presidential election).

    The collapse screws up language and identifications as everything falls apart. Identity politics was an off shoot of the need to reach a 51% majority in purchased elections to change secondary government grifter families once multi-national corporations seized control of the West in the 1980s and government by and for the people was trashed.

    Roughly $50 trillion that used to go to middle-class and working-class Americans has instead been rerouted to the pockets of the top 1%. Either autocracy triumphs and billionaires directly choose leaders, or true democracy and the rule of law are restored with fairness and money restrictions.

    Age, sex, appearance, intelligence, class, education, and culture determine one’s world view and how you are viewed. Caste is and always will be real since it is integral to how the culture and religion of a people arrange their tribal and national hierarchy. The clash of civilizations is reality. If chaos reigns across North America, there will be people who will use it to pick apart and devour the carcass of what remains.

    1. Tom Bradford

      Sorry, but the fall of Rome did not bring about the end of the world and neither will the fall of the US.

      Granted it won’t be much fun for God’s elect but the rest of the world will shrug it off, hopefully learn a lesson and get on with life.

      1. furies

        Then there’s global warming to contend with. Something humans haven’t encountered before.

        The comfort of reading history and knowing nothing is new under the sun, until now?

  25. rd

    Re: Ohio carnage

    Today’s Ohio employment and unemployment numbers look a lot like what the Obama Administration inherited from Bush: https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LASST390000000000005?amp%253bdata_tool=XGtable&output_view=data&include_graphs=true

    There was steady rise in the number of employed from about 2013 to early 2020. Labor participation rate etc. declined early in the Obama Presidency and then leveled out, and then rose some under Trump into 2020.

    Then everything fell off the table to below GFC level numbers beginning in March 2020 with some recovery this summer to GFC numbers.

  26. anon in so cal

    >Public schools in Orange County, California opened today for in-person instruction. Why do I have the feeling this won’t end well?

    “Schools will be watching for signs of illness – temperature checks will be part of many pre-classroom routines – but districts can’t test for the virus, leaving the vital case information that would spring the schools and county health agency into action in the hands of parents, teachers and staff…..And while schools aren’t testing for the coronavirus, they “recommend” students get tested if they have coronavirus-like symptoms such as fever, cough, loss of taste or smell or difficulty breathing.

    Once schools reopen, the California Department of Public Health recommends”surveillance testing” of teachers and staff based on the local trends. County officials say super-testing sites in Anaheim and Costa Mesa can help schools with that.

    “It’s incredibly important that everyone in the community is aware of the range of symptoms that can present with COVID-19 and to be aware of potential exposure to cases,” Nunez said.

    State health officials also offered districts recommendations on when to physically close schools due to a COVID-19 outbreak: if at least 5% of the total number of students, teachers and staff have coronavirus cases within a 14-day period and switching to online learning if 25 percent of a district’s schools have closed during a 14-day span…”


  27. anon in so cal

    >Going out in the woods and playing the bird song…

    This is actually somewhat controversial

    “First, it is important to point out that the use of playback is prohibited in many parks and refuges. It is also illegal to disturb any endangered or threatened species (and playback can be interpreted as disturbance). Any potential negative impacts of playback are more likely to occur in areas with a lot of birding pressure, so avoiding playback entirely in those places is a good idea. Where and how to use it in other situations is up the individual birder….”


  28. ChrisPacific

    Re: Bird song links

    I am fond of the Ruru (New Zealand Morepork on the birdsong site) which is the sound of summer nights for me. Not nearly as creepy as the other owl calls people have linked.

    Interestingly the site also has a song for the Tasmanian Morepork, which is similar, but faster. The Tasmanian Morepork has things to do and places to be, while the New Zealand one is happy to just chill.

      1. ChrisPacific

        I always found that name funny, although I suspect not for the reason Pratchett intended.

        All its names I know (Ruru, Morepork) are onomatopoeic, like cuckoo.

  29. Procopius

    Ginsburg should have stepped down when Obama still had the Democratic Party control needed to nominate a replacement.

    People forget that “Obama still had the Democratic Party control needed to nominate a replacement” for only 55 days, from 1 July until 25 August. Probably less than 55 days, because Senator Kennedy was hospitalized for some time before his death, and might not have been able to vote even before that. 57 Senators is not enough to “control the Senate.” Add two Independents, one of whom is Weepin’ Joe Lieberman who has a flaming resentment against the Democrats, and 59 is still not enough. At that time it was not yet accepted that Mitch McConnell meant it when he said, in December, 2008, that his goal was to make Obama a one term president. Heck, even by 2015 Obama was acting as if he believed he could get some Republican to vote for something. Biden still is in denial.

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