2:00PM Water Cooler 9/25/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

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Bird Song of the Day

Alert reader anon in so cal warns us:

“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….”

Good to know!


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):


“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 “How to Vote in 2020: Everything You Need to Know” [Bloomberg]. “Casting a ballot in the U.S. isn’t always easy, with a complex web of varying state rules governing how and when you can vote. The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced even more complexity in 2020, as many states have made significant changes to allow for more early voting or voting by mail. More changes could come as lawsuits in several states wind their way through the courts. That’s why Bloomberg News is answering these critical questions so you’ll know what you need to do to make sure your vote is counted in the 2020 election.”

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 (10)
  • 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!

* * *

AZ: “Door-knocking in the COVID era: When ‘get out the vote’ becomes ‘get people help” [Los Angeles Times]. “When Imelda Quiroz began knocking on doors this month in search of registered voters, one question would often lead to a glimpse of their daily struggles. ‘How has the pandemic affected you?” she would prompt in English, sometimes in Spanish. She wanted to get a sense of how voters were doing and what issues were important to them ahead of the November election. What Quiroz heard was an outpouring from people worried about paying next month’s rent, electric or water bills. Parents were struggling with their children shifting to online learning without laptops or internet, she said.” • Imagine how powerful the Democrat Party would be if it had a system of precinct captains (hat tip, dcblogger).

MI: “Michigan lawmakers give clerks more time to process ballots” [Detroit News]. “The Michigan Legislature gave final approvals Thursday to a bill that would give local clerks 10 hours extra before the election to begin processing absentee ballots, a nod to the expected uptick in absentee voting in the general election. The bill also changed protocol for signature mismatches on absentee ballots, increased security around ballot boxes, and allowed for shifts of workers on the absent voter counting board the day of the election. The legislation passed 94-11 through the House and was concurred on by the Senate 35-2. The bill is headed to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk next.”

NC: “Republican members of the North Carolina State Board of Elections abruptly resign” [CNN]. “The two Republican members of the North Carolina State Board of Elections abruptly resigned Wednesday, saying in separate letters that they felt misled by the state attorney general’s office and board staff when they agreed to a settlement that would allow voters to fix absentee ballots with missing information. The stunning departures, less than six weeks before Election Day in a hotly contested battleground state, come one day after the five-member board said it unanimously agreed to the settlement, which still must be approved by a court. A hearing has been set for October 2 regarding the settlement, which also allows ballots postmarked on Election Day to be received six days later.” • Didn’t they read the settlement? Still trying to find the letter of resignation, which nobody seems to want to link to…. UPDATE Here are David Black’s resignation letter (PDF) and Ken Raymond’s letter (PDF). This seems to be the heart of Black’s letter:

In particular, the recent memo outlining the new absentee ballot “cure” for the witness requirement. It was not my understanding that the cure would simply mean an affidavit, or cure document, would be sent to the voter for a confirmation that this ballot was their own. No further information but a signature by the voter affirming the ballot was theirs would be required. My understanding was the witness requirement would stay as it is currently with the exception that only one witness signature would be required. Not only was I taken aback by this but I am sure many county directors will be too.

And Raymond’s

To preserve the trust of the voters, I acted to keep the one-witness requirement and mitigate the

possibility the election being disrupted by a judicial order by compromising on the acceptance

date of absentee ballots.

The shape of things to come…

NC: “Tillis says he has ‘grave concerns’ about voting by mail in NC after board settlement” [News and Observer]. “Voters can “cure” a mistake if they complete and return an affidavit sent to them by their county board of elections, according to the state board. Among the mistakes that can be fixed: voter did not sign, voter signed in the wrong place, witness or assistant did not print name or address or did not sign or signed in the wrong place. A judge must still approve the settlement. More than 1 million absentee by-mail requests have been made in North Carolina, and nearly 200,000 voters have returned their accepted ballots already, according to state board data.” • 

PA: “Feds, In Unusual Statement, Announce They’re Investigating A Few Discarded Ballots” [WHYY]. Philly’s NPR station: “The FBI and the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said Thursday that they are investigating “potential issues” with nine military ballots in one county. They believe the ballots were opened improperly, though they have not filed any charges or taken official action. U.S. Attorney David Freed noted that the investigation remains active but said he is releasing the news publicly ‘based on the limited amount of time before the general election and the vital public importance of these issues.’ Voting rights experts and Justice Department veterans, however, said that proximity to the election and the preliminary nature of the investigation make Freed’s announcement highly unusual.” • Comically, even more so after the deathless headline, this is the fourteenth (!!) paragraph: “All of the ballots found outside envelopes were cast for Trump, Freed’s letter said; it’s unknown who two sealed ones are for.” • I’m sure we can all see where this is going. That said, I trust this events described in NPR’s hilarious story about as much as I trust the story about anachists spraypainting “Biden 2020” on the side of the garage they’re about the set on fire.

TX: “Gregg County official arrested, charged with election fraud” [Statesman]. “A Gregg County commissioner and three others were arrested Thursday on election fraud charges stemming from the 2018 Democratic primary. A grand jury on Wednesday indicted Commissioner Shannon Brown on 23 felonies, including election fraud, organized election fraud and the fraudulent use of vote-by-mail ballots as part in an alleged vote-harvesting scheme.”

WI: “What Happened to Milwaukee’s Black Middle Class?” [The American Prospect]. “The story we tell ourselves about the decline of American cities, especially in the Rust Belt, places the blame on deindustrialization and globalization. Yet, says Michael Rosen, retired Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) economics professor and former president of MATC’s faculty union, Milwaukee’s decline—and that of many cities across the country—was hardly inevitable. Business, he says ‘[broke] the social contract’ between management and labor and began a strategy of both union avoidance and outright union busting. ‘Capital declared war on labor in this town,’ he says, and it ‘decimated the Black community.’ Racist redlining kept Black families segregated, while many jobs moved into the suburbs—where public transit was not designed to reach.” • Surely globalization and breaking the social contract are both parts of capital having declared war on labor, and redlining is another tool in the war?

* * *

UPDATE Biden (D)(1): “Wall Street is shunning Trump. Campaign donations to Biden are five times larger” [CNN (PS)]. “Biden has raised $156,584 from individuals at Goldman Sachs (GS), according to OpenSecrets. With just $11,943 in contributions, Trump ranks a staggering 45th among federal campaign recipients — well behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, US Senator Lindsey Graham, Graham’s opponent Jaime Harrison and Andrew Yang, a CNN political commentator who has called for universal basic income. But it’s not just Goldman Sachs, whose employees have historically supported Democrats. (Former Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine later served as the Democratic governor and US senator from New Jersey.) At Citigroup (C), Trump has been outraised by Biden as well as Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Yang, vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris and US Senator Doug Jones. Trump has raised just $86,083 from JPMorgan Chase (JPM), the largest US bank. At $379,057, Biden has raised three times as much as Trump from JPMorgan. Trump was also behind Buttigieg and Sanders at JPMorgan.

Biden has raised more than twice as much ($257,821) from Morgan Stanley (MS) as Trump has ($96,010), according to OpenSecrets.” • Like Obama. Gee, I wonder who’s gonna be in charge of economics policy?

* * *

40 days out, ffs:

“Open Letter: Dump Trump, Then Battle Biden” [Common Dreams]. “Ending the Trump presidency is, by far, the most important goal that can be achieved between now and January.”


“In Politically Charged Inquiry, Durham Sought Details About Scrutiny of Clintons” [New York Times]. “Mr. Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut assigned by Mr. Barr to review the Russia inquiry, has sought documents and interviews about how federal law enforcement officials handled an investigation around the same time into allegations of political corruption at the Clinton Foundation, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Durham’s team members have suggested to others that they are comparing the two investigations as well as examining whether investigators in the Russia inquiry flouted laws or policies. It was not clear whether Mr. Durham’s investigators were similarly looking for violations in the Clinton Foundation investigation, nor whether the comparison would be included or play a major role in the outcome of Mr. Durham’s inquiry. The approach is highly unusual, according to people briefed on the investigation. Though the suspected crimes themselves are not comparable — one involves a possible conspiracy between a presidential campaign and a foreign adversary to interfere in an election, and the other involves potential bribery and corruption — and largely included different teams of investigators and prosecutors, Mr. Durham’s efforts suggest the scope of his review is broader than previously known.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Look on the Blyth Side” (podcast) [Open Source with Christopher Lydon]. • Absolutely a must-listen. Blyth’s call is that the election will end up in the Supreme Court. (I disagree with Blyth on generational agency. I also wonder if Blyth’s polarization isn’t slicing the wrong way: Perhaps the real division is not between Red and Blue, but between voter and non-voter?

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.

Durable Goods: “Headline Durable Goods New Orders Improved Again In August 2020” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say the durable goods new orders improved for the fourth consecutive month. Our analysis shows the rolling averages improved. The data this month was below expectations – however, the previous month was revised up. In the adjusted data, the improvement was driven by defense spending.”

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 19 September 2020 – Contraction Continues But Remains On An Improving Trendline” [Econintersect]. “Total rail traffic has two components – carloads and intermodal (containers or trailers on rail cars). Container exports from China are now recovering, container exports from the U.S. declined and remains deep in contraction. This week again intermodal continued in expansion year-over-year and continues on a strengthening trendline. However, carloads remain deep in contraction. But overall, rail is on an improving trendline.”

* * *

Tech: “Amazon Employee Warns Internal Groups They’re Being Monitored For Labor Organizing” [Vice]. “An Amazon Web Services employee emailed a series of internal Amazon listservs and told them that their communications were being monitored for labor organizing efforts and processed in a data farming project by the company’s Global Security Operations, according to an internal email obtained by Motherboard. The emails were sent—at least—to the employee listservs “Indigenous@amazon.com” and “transgender@amazon.com,” and mentioned a handful of other listservs the employee believed were being watched…. The Amazon Web Services employee notes that this data was being used to track “Whole Foods Market Activism/Unionization Efforts, Internal Communications-Social Listening, Presence of Local Union Chapters and Alt Labor Groups, Presence of Community Organizations, Union Officials and Social Influencers.” Motherboard was unable to specifically verify this.”

Tech: “How an Amazon Bribery Scheme Became a $100 Million Swindle” [Bloomberg]. “It sounds like the plot of a made-for-Netflix crime drama. A Brooklyn businessman stuffs $8,000 in cash in a suitcase and calls an Uber to send it to accomplices. Hundreds of thousands of dollars crisscross the globe via MoneyGram, PayPal, and foreign bank accounts in a plot to swindle more than $100 million from the world’s most valuable internet retailer and its customers. But it’s the real-life story of a small ring of e-commerce consultants and former Amazon.com Inc. employees who federal prosecutors say bribed Amazon workers for more than three years to gain access to the company’s most sensitive secrets, according to a 38-page indictment released on Sept. 18. The accused allegedly rigged in their favor its web store, where shoppers around the world spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Six people have been charged with allegedly conspiring to pay bribes, according to the Department of Justice. The length and scope of the scheme are a statement about Amazon’s size, that a scam can flourish for years without detection.” • Or — not to be cynical — it was detected, and whoever detected it just took a cut? Rent’s rent, after all.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 48 Neutral (previous close: 48 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 52 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 25 at 12:23pm. Mr. Market approaches Fear…

The Biosphere

“Warrior skeletons reveal Bronze Age Europeans couldn’t drink milk” [Science]. “About 3000 years ago, thousands of warriors fought on the banks of the Tollense river in northern Germany. They wielded weapons of wood, stone, and bronze to deadly effect: Over the past decade, archaeologists have unearthed the skeletal remains of hundreds of people buried in marshy soil. It’s one of the largest prehistoric conflicts ever discovered. Now, genetic testing of the skeletons reveals the homelands of the warriors—and unearths a shocker about early European diets: These soldiers couldn’t digest fresh milk.” • Interesting but not the interesting part: “Searching for more insight into the battle, researchers sequenced the DNA of 14 of the skeletons. They discovered the warriors all hailed from central Europe—what is today Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, their genetic similarity offers little insight into why they fought. ‘We were hoping to find two different groups of people with different ethnic backgrounds, but no,’ says study co-author Joachim Burger, a geneticist at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. ‘It’s disappointingly boring.'” • Interesting that apparently “ethnic” = “genetic”, and that it’s “boring” that genetics don’t cause war (the reverse would apparently have been exciting and was preferred)..

“Mapping carbon accumulation potential from global natural forest regrowth” [Nature]. “:Regrowing natural forests is a prominent strategy for capturing additional carbon3, but accurate assessments of its potential are limited by uncertainty and variability in carbon accumulation rates…. This map shows over 100-fold variation in rates across the globe, and indicates that default rates from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)4,5 may underestimate aboveground carbon accumulation rates by 32 per cent on average and do not capture eight-fold variation within ecozones. Conversely, we conclude that maximum climate mitigation potential from natural forest regrowth is 11 per cent lower than previously reported3 owing to the use of overly high rates for the location of potential new forest.” • The full article is locked, so I can’t find out if “the use of overly high rates for the location of potential new forest” is due to private property, or some other factor.

Heatlh Care

“SARS-CoV-2 vaccines in development” [Nature]. I’m re-upping this link, which alert reader Ignacio said nice things about. Here is the key passage, in my view. It’s buried in the caption of Figure 2 on page 10:

Fig. 2 | Mucosal and systemic immune responses to natural infection with respiratory viruses and vaccination. A The lower human respiratory tract is mostly protected by IgG (IgG1 is most prevalent) which is the main type of antibody in serum and which is transported into the lung. The upper respiratory tract is mostly protected by secretory IgA1 (sIgA1). B Natural infection with respiratory viruses induces both a systemic immune response, dominated by IgG1, as well as a mucosal immune response in the upper respiratory tract based on sIgA1. This process can lead to sterilizing immunity for many respiratory viruses. C Intramuscular or intradermal vaccination leads in many cases to a strong induction of serum IgG but not to an induction in mucosal IgA. While some IgG can also found on the mucosal surfaces of the upper respiratory tract, the lack of sIgA often leaves an individual vulnerable to reinfection of the upper respiratory tract. D Intranasal vaccination can efficiently induce mucosal antibody responses, thereby potentially providing sterilizing immunity in the upper respiratory tract. Systemic immune response are however often lower with this type of vaccination. Currently, all SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates in clinical development are given intramuscularly and very few of the >180 vaccine candidates in development are designed to induce mucosal immunity. While mucosal immunity might not be required to protect from severe or even symptomatic disease, it might be required to achieve optimal protection from infection and onward transmission of SARS-CoV2.

If I understand this correctly, the vaccines in development protect the lungs (“lower respiratory tract”) but do not “achieve optimal protection from infection and onward transmission of SARS-CoV2.” Not to be cynical, but not preventing onward transmission would seem to be “optimal” from the standpoint of opportunities for profit. Readers, am I too cynical?

Groves of Academe

The views of a Bloomberg columnist:

I wonder what a real cynic would think.

Class Warfare

UPDATE “The Woke and the Un-Woke” [Tablet]. “Consider the response to the novel coronavirus. Actual religious services among Jews, Christians, and Muslim communities were banned, while mass demonstrations were cheered on by elected officials, civic leaders, and public health professionals. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio threatened to arrest attendees of mass gatherings after a funeral in Brooklyn for an Orthodox rabbi drew 2,500 mourners. But he cheered on the protests that followed the death of George Floyd. (One, a ‘Black Trans Lives Matter’ march in Brooklyn, drew an estimated crowd of 15,000.) In his view, demonstrators who were ‘grappling with an extraordinary crisis seeded in 400 years of American racism’ deserved prerogatives not merited by ‘the devout religious person who wants to go back to services.’ De Blasio’s statement provides the clearest articulation yet offered by any political figure of the way in which the original understanding of America has been reversed: The state, having aligned itself with one creed over others, no longer serves to protect freedom of religious expression but rather officiates secular doctrines of the establishment anti-religion.” • To be fair now, we have case studies of superspreading events from church services, and no case studies of superspreading events from marches. Which makes sense, since church services are indoors, and marches are outdoors. However, I’m not sure this information was available to Deblasio at the time.

News of the Wired

“Covering up the Cracks: The Return of Wallpaper” [Freize]. “How artists from Édouard Vuillard to Dorothea Tanning used wallpaper in their work.” I stan for Vuillard:

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (TH):

TH writes: “I liked the way the sun was bringing out the colors of this plumeria flower I spotted on one of our walks along the waterfront at Alamitos Bay in Long Beach, California.”

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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. Watt4Bob

    I’m originally from Chicago, and most of my extended family still lives in greater Chicago land, so I have a lot of memories about how the democratic machine used to work elections.

    One of the things I remember is the lengths to which they went to assure participation.

    They would call voters on election day to make sure they voted, if they had not, they offered whatever help a voter might need to make sure they got to the polls. This included transportation, sending baby sitters, and even someone to finish cooking dinner if that was necessary.

    The question was “What do you need?” and solution was invariably on the way.

    From the rumors I hear about Biden’s ground game, I have to wonder what’s up?

    1. Pat

      Please there is nothing to wonder about. The well paid consultancy class do not do anything that doesn’t translate to current or future goodies for themselves. And since somewhere in the midst of our transition from the idea that providing simple and cheap but obvious constituent services is how Democrats stay in office to all we all have to do is be less evil winning races stopped being required of the consultants, getting voters registered and to the polls lost any urgency.

      Spending time and campaign funds on an effective ground game leaves less for them.

      1. XXYY

        Spending time and campaign funds on an effective ground game leaves less for them.

        I would venture a guess that, aside from the money, even the skills needed to run an effective ground campaign have atrophied in the Democratic Party. My impression is that most of the campaigns that have really hustled (AOC is memorable) are outsiders and newcomers who have had to build their operations from scratch, and for whom it was very obvious that in-your-face hustle for every vote was the only way they were going to win.

        I also wonder if tech changes have made home phones and doorbells less effective as a way to contact residents; most traditional community campaigns relied on these two things.

        1. L

          I think tech is a big part of it. Phones and online are now seen as the way to reach people and political hacks are no less entranced with targeted advertising as everyone else. This cycle I’ve gotten 4 Biden texters and one phone call. Other than that it has always been flyers.

          In the past 4 years the only ground game I’ve seen is 1 Sanders volunteer who dropped off flyers, and in 2016 a Republican who came by the place and and froze up when the door wasn’t answered by a white person. Since then, nothing from them.

        2. dcblogger

          AOC had what she called community canvass events at subway stops and other places where people congregate. Door knocking is not practical in a neighborhood of high rises with locked front doors. The 2020 Bernie campaign did community canvass events, I led some. Very few local Democratic committees have viable precinct operations. You can always tell the ones that do, they are the ones that win elections.

          1. Iowan X

            +1 When I canvassed for Bernie in Arlington, they had us go to North Arlington, VA, which I thought was odd. It was the ONLY place I ever saw a Bloomberg 2020 sign in this entire election, and somebody had placed the sign in the median of Lee Highway. Seeing some Biden signs, obviously, now, in Arlington. A couple of weeks ago somebody stopped tore out the NOPE sign (re Trump) on S. George Mason Blvd on day one. It’s all good I guess.

        3. Big River Bandido

          AOC’s first campaign had all you describe. Crowley had been in office so long that his entire organization atrophied. She had one other priceless asset: she knew exactly how many votes Crowley had been able to attract, and she aimed to surpass that with a solid margin of safety. This is how the successful insurgents typically manage to defeat establishment candidates.

    2. jo6pac

      Now the demodog machine expects you to have staff handle those pesky problems. They don’t care if staff votes;-) It’s a new party and we aren’t invited. Just saying.

    3. Synoia

      The profitability and tax consequences of loosing an election:

      If they gather more money than thy spend, who gets the balance?

      Is ruining and loosing a profitable endeavor?

      What are the tax implication for a surplus remaining when the political campaign (after the election) is finished?

      1. Michaelmas

        Is ruining (sic) and loosing a profitable endeavor?

        Maybe it’s the plan, like Mel Brooks’s ‘The Producers’?

        It would explain some things.

        1. John Anthony La Pietra

          Ahh, yes, the old Springtime for Hitler trick. That’s the umpteenth time thus century. . . .

          1. Wukchumni

            Producers then: Sell 25,000% of a play, hope it bombs

            Producers now: Sell 25,000% of a bomb, hope it plays.

  2. anon y'mouse

    wallpaper that is not paper should not be used in environments with regular high humidity. supposedly, nothing beyond paint should be used in such environments.

    thus spaketh Joe Lstiburek, environmental engineer and building scientist.

    good luck finding actual paper. might be best to hire an actual faux finisher to imitate paper, but those are few and far between.

    1. Wukchumni

      It seemed like every house had wallpaper when I was growing up in the 60’s, why was it so important then?

      1. Rtah100

        Wallpaper is generally paper and breathable.

        Vinyl wall”paper” is a product of the 60’s (“plastics” it’s the future…), it is not breathable and not to be used ever!

        Wallpaper was popular because aristocrats could afford marble or, if canny, marbling effects, and tapestries and silk panelling and wainscotting and frescos and the middle classes could not afford these things and wanted them and nice Victorian entrepreneurs obliged with patterns and damasks and chinoiserie scenes. Modernism, as the white paint or concrete brut future, was unevenly distributed in 1960….

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I don’t remember the particulars or the numbers, but I believe I remember that if the economy shrinks by a measured amount for each of a set minimum number of months in a row, that economy is considered to be in a recession. If that economy then spends the next set number of months growing from the immediately prior recession’s lowest-low, it is declared to be out of recession, or in a growth cycle, or something.

      Now, if the economy spends the set-by-definition number of months shrinking down to 20% smaller than it was at the start of that recession, and it THEN spends the NEXT needed-by-definition number of months growing to a point where at the end of that set of growth-months it has restored 5% of what was lost in the recession, it is still considered an end of that recession. Right?

  3. Krystyn Podgajski

    RE: “Warrior skeletons reveal Bronze Age Europeans couldn’t drink milk”

    Interesting that apparently “ethnic” = “genetic”, and that it’s “boring” that genetics don’t cause war (the reverse would apparently have been exciting and was preferred)..

    Good to know belief in war and capitalism is not genetic!

    1. Lee

      And the lack of warrior skeletons that were expected to prove evidence of conflict between Anglo-Saxons and Britons have, after extensive investigation, failed to turn up, supporting the view that a peaceful migration from the continent to Britain with subsequent mutual assimilation was the norm. The urge to merge trumped the urge to purge.

      1. shtove

        There were battles, but the evidence does point to an overall absence of organised confrontation. The spread of old English, and probable outstripping in population growth, in favour of the immigrants doesn’t suggest mutual assimilation – perhaps a decapitation of regional leadership, followed by attrition. The beleaguered Briton elite in the West Country seems to have slipped off to Brittany, to return with the Normans – it’s one of the theories for the rise of the King Arthur legend after 1066.

        One thing that puzzles me about the Anglo-Saxons is how they repeatedly allowed the armies of the Danes to roam the country for seasons on end with infrequent confrontation. Perhaps a repeat of the earlier pattern, but with a genuinely mutual settlement (ultimately in Canute) because of cultural affinities?

        1. Synoia

          Consider the Danes as slightly violent tourists, who knew that the dead do not make for a cheerful event.

          Young men looking for food. drink. riches, and “company.”

          I come from East Anglia, and the local dialect contains many danish words.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              yeah, from essentially the biker gangs of old to the happiest people on earth, today.
              same with the rest of the north country.

        2. Lee

          Anglo-Saxons, whose influx began around AD 450, account for 10 to 40 per cent of the DNA in half of modern-day Britons”, doesn’t suggest to me genetic replacement through either domination and subordination or genocide. But I suppose this is still open to question.

          As to the Germanic linguistic dominance, we should be cautious in inferring from it the state of social relations. After all, the phonetic alphabet was not the product of a socially dominant elite, but the invention of a nameless group of migrant, probably Canaanite, workers laboring in the mines of Egypt. It was its superior utility leading to its widespread voluntary adoption that accounts for its success.

          Good thing they got the job done before the god of Israel slated them for genocide, which in fact did not occur, but is one of a number of ripping good yarns in a very early work of fantasy fiction.

          As for the Danes: who wants to fight Vikings if you don’t have to? With a few exceptions, you wait them out and they go away. As for those that choose to stay, you simply acculturate them. The latter group came for the better climate, and an easier life.

          1. ObjectiveFunction

            Well, Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish may well be included in that genetic pool of ‘Britons’ (i.e. its modern meaning of UK residents, not the Roman meaning). Also, from the late 1700s on, a large number of Irish came east to work in the dark satanic mills.

            Point is, in much of England the exurban population is still overwhelmingly Anglo Saxon; so that would suggest a significant ‘displacement’ occurred. But no doubt Celtic slaves bore children to their masters, and that mixing goes on today (myself included).

            I recall an anecdote from a documentary on the 1944 Monte Cassino battles. At one point, an East Anglia regiment agreed a truce to evacuate wounded, and wryly observed their German enemies had ‘English faces’.

    2. nippersdad

      I was wondering if that was an inartful way of saying that they were looking for an invasion of, say, (the more recent) Huns/Mongols/Turks…..


      For example, I found the recent article about the diaspora of Vikings from various places in Scandinavia fascinating. Perhaps that is the type of thing they were looking for.

    3. Laughingsong

      “Unfortunately, their genetic similarity offers little insight into why they fought”

      If they were anything like what I’ve read about my Bronze Age ancestors, it was either over a sporting event or a cow.

      1. LifelongLib

        Some of the bloodiest wars in history (Taiping Rebellion, WW1, U.S. Civil War) were fought among people of the same or very similar ethnicities. This is probably the norm — you fight the guys next door. Fighting people thousands of miles away is an aberration.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I came across a term in a German history book once – a ‘Bruderkrieg’. Literally a brother war and they were reckoned to be the most nasty type to have. Consider the fact that more Americans were killed in the US Civil War than all of America’s wars added up together which includes, WW1, WW2, Korea, Revolutionary, War of 1812, Vietnam, etc.

          1. Moe Knows

            The Civil War, my god was it brutal. One wonders after Lee (Robert E., son of ‘light horse’) turned down the role of general in chief of the Union forces that it might in retrospect to have been a good idea to have thrown him in jail. Really, he made the Union pay dearly over and over again. To anyone read about the battle of the ‘wilderness’, nothing like before or since.

    4. Tom Bradford

      l’d speculate the genetics point is that this seems to have been a purely local squabble rather than a defence against invaders, which would suggest a population movement triggered by population growth, climate change or the ‘invaders’ themselves being pushed out of their homelands.

    5. fjallstrom

      I think it is merely boring to the geneticists and their archeological colleagues. Genetics is still a fairly new tool, so having applied it on this ancient battlefield it would have been nice for the geneticists if it actually yielded results about the historical setting of this battle. (Apart from lactose intolerance data.)

      The real world implications of the statement is another matter.

  4. dcblogger

    Just finished Listen Liberal by Thomas Frank, and it is brilliant. Please, everybody read this. I would have a small difference. Frank lists jobs as Bill Clinton’s sole achievement. I would add the open Internet (tearing down the walled gardens of compuserve, prodigy, AOL, et al) and the Good Friday Agreement. I would also add the way he changed the way the BAFT audits firearms. They looked at where the guns used in crimes came from and started targeting those dealers for audits. It worked so well congress passed the Tiahart amendments so BAFT could no longer do that. Gun running is the crime everyone knows not to talk about.

    1. hunkerdown

      Fact check: the first consumer ISPs began in 1989, with shell accounts via The World. SLIP and PPP connections, subject to scarcities of the time, were offered not long after by them and others.

      All Clinton did was allow commercial traffic on the Internet by decommissioning NSFNET. That’s the neoliberal definition of “open”. Stop that.

      Okay, not actually true. The half a trillion dollars he gave to the telcos and cable companies for this lol-worthy broadband service we pay for today is also something he did. Yay.

      1. Howard Beale IV

        I had a account on portal.com back in the mid 1980s – used a Telebit T1000 to access it for high-speed downlaods, or used Telenet at 2400 bps if I was just browsing.

        I used to use KA9Q on DOS for doing anonymous FTP’s waaay back when.

    2. Robert Hahl

      A similarly great book written about twenty years earlier but still relevant is “Who Will Tell the People” by William Greider.

  5. dcblogger

    A training with Faith in Public Life and Over Zero.
    The United States sits at a dangerous moment. There is a real threat of political violence in the run up to the election, and in its aftermath. We see many warning signs: the glorification of the Kenosha protest killer, disinformation about the election being stolen, the misrepresentation of protests, police violence, the emergence of self-appointed militias. Faith leaders can play a central role in preventing violence and keeping everyone safe through effective, strategic messaging.

    1. molon labe

      Do you mean the young EMT who cleaned up graffiti after protestors and defended his life from a plastic bag (with a brick in it) as well as a skateboard brought as a non-weapon looking weapon and also a felon with a gun? Remember innocent until proven guilty?

          1. notabanker

            God Bless American, where armed 17 year olds can travel to another state, walk the streets with a rifle , shoot and kill protesters and have big money interests hire lawyers to say it was self defense and walk away. What a great country, because, you know, innocent before proven guilty.

            I can’t wait for them to show up in my neighborhood and shoot my kids, because I’m sure they’ll deserve it. I should have raised them to know better than to protest in this bastion of freedom and liberty. Especially with a deadly skateboard in hand.

            1. Billy

              One 17 year old traveling 10 minutes from bedroom to protect uncle’s property in nearby conurbe, allowed to carry gun with adult present, versus, hundreds or possibly thousands of BLM rioters driving all over the country, covering license plates to systematically loot, molotov cocktails, some firearms, lynching people who dare drive around their road blockages, yeah they are exactly the same, I’m glad what’s important was mentioned.

              p.s., From this morning’s robust self-defense discussion, the “unsubstantiated” criminal records of Kyle’s attackers were mentioned in the 11 minute video, which I believe is produced by the law firm defending him. I assume the law firm has researchers and the facts stated about the various attackers against him are true.


              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                I think the license-plate covering, interstate travel to conduct riots, etc. is being carried out by secret government agents and white power nationalists and typhoid MAGA Trump supporters in Antifa and/or BLM disguise.

                I am old enough to remember Donald Segretti, Roger Stone, CREEP,
                etc. The things you describe are a perfect example of everything you and the people who wallow in the moral sewage lagoon of right wing politics represent and stand for.

                I am confident that it is You People who are getting these riots started and keeping these riots going.

          2. Molon Latte

            Showing up at a scene of conflict with one of, if not the most, effective firearm for killing humans available today, plus body armor, makes one armed and dangerous just standing there.

            These wannabe warriors with body armor and ARs are doing nothing but trying to intimidate, frighten, even terrorize, as well as coerce and silence, people they disagree with about POLITICS.

            There’s a word to describe people who use terror to influence politics.

            You may be aware of the disparity in firepower between an AR15 and a pistol, never mind a non-firearm weapon. It’s huge.

            These people wielding ARs are flirting with terrorism, and therefore the wise response could well be to be ready to shoot at them at any moment. If one of them raises their weapon threateningly, as wanna-be badass Rittenhouse did, he or she shouldn’t be surprised if they are suddenly receiving fire.

            Hero–no; murdering loser, yes. He made a series of decisions, took two lives–for what?–and should pay the price.

            It’s obvious that most “molon labe” sporters think it means “come and get it (if you can/good luck with that).” In fact, it means “yes you’re absolutely going to defeat me and end up with my weapon in the end, but you’re going to have to take it anyway.” It’s fatalistic, they knew they’d be killed and have their weapons taken, but they weren’t going to hand them over even when there was no hope.

            The contrast between the actual meaning of this phrase, and how it’s used by mostly wannabes (and a few bona-fides), speaks volumes about the fake heroism, fake patriotism, of this generally ignorant-but-opinionated cohort of chrome-plated hard guys crowing their ersatz bravery.

      1. DJG

        Molon Labe: Try a little harder:

        To quote–In the video from before the shooting, Rittenhouse identifies himself as an EMT, shouting, “Medical, EMS right here, I’m an EMT.” But the department said he was only enrolled in their explorer program for less than a year.

        Further points from article:
        Illinois and Wisconsin laws don’t allow 17-year-olds to have the kind of firearms he was carrying.

        And the defense that he didn’t carry the long gun across state lines but borrowed it isn’t going to do him any good either.

        Link, for your reading pleasure:


        1. molon labe

          I cannot find enough information to check his EMT status on the Illinois site (it requires SSN or ambulance number?). I do not see how being an Explorer for less than a year means that he could not be an EMT. There is video of him rendering aid to protestors that night. Wisconsin’s firearms law was poorly drafted and this will work in favor of a defendant. https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/eric-zorn/ct-column-rittenhouse-gun-laws-wisconsin-zorn-20200908-tfhn5g2davdgdemtugaf5t6mce-story.html https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-09-10/kyle-rittenhouse-self-defense-argument-gets-help-from-twisted-gun-logic

      2. nippersdad

        “According to requirements listed on the Chicago government’s website, a person must be at least 18 to get even the most basic EMT license. In addition, the Antioch Fire Department told ABC Chicago that while Rittenhouse was a fire cadet and a member of the Grayslake and Lindenhurst Law Enforcement Explorer Program, he had been with the explorer program less than a year.”


        And then there are the rest of your “facts.”

        Please stop. You are embarrassing yourself. Or, at least, I am embarrassed for you.

  6. Michael Hudson

    What is so ironic about the B. Taylor case: The policeman was charged for a crime for missing Breonna. If the bullet would have hit her, not the wall into the next apartment, he’d be OK.

    1. nippersdad

      Did you see this?


      From extorting her former boyfriend in hopes of delegitimizing her to million dollar bail for protesters to now framing the woman who wrote the bill making no knock warrants illegal, they are really going all out to protect the police on this one. Then there is the bill that the Tennessee Governor just signed to make protesting a felony.

      It is getting scary out there.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Would the way to break Louisville’s nazi police UNION and delete the nazi police force from existence involve . . . the Louisville leadership’s contracting with the relevant country sherriff’s departments to provide all enforcement and security in the parts of the counties which Louisville divides itself among? The money not spent on the nazi UNION police department could be spent on the sherriffs’ departments instead.

      Part of the contract would involve a ban on those sheriff’s departments ever EVER hiring ANY of the de-jobbed Louisville police for the life of the contracts.

    3. Iowan X

      You deserve a response, sir. Yes you are right, thank you for all you do, and may you live longer than Noam Chomsky.

  7. doug

    ‘Readers, am I too cynical?’ Absolutely not.
    I worked for a decade in a R&D oriented pharmaceutical corp.

    1. GramSci

      IMH (and cynical) O, “optimal” would not only allow onward transmission; it would also require annual booster shots.

    2. Ignacio

      I don’t think this is a case of search for an ‘optimal’ business oriented result. Developing vaccines for delivery in the mucosa might not be that easy, has not that much empirical support yet, and might rise questions on vaccine durability. Some of these are on their way to development. I also believe that developers would love to have in their hands a vaccine that works in a single dose. IMO, we could worry about ‘optimal’ if we see that further development of newer and better vaccines is blocked or delayed by the frontrunners.

      The problem is that vaccinating against respiratory viruses is not straightforward and there are issues to be resolved. Covid-19 vaccine development could provide new clues as long as we do not let die interesting candidates in the pipeline..

  8. dougie

    RE: Bronze Age warrior skeletons……..“Searching for more insight into the battle, researchers sequenced the DNA of 14 of the skeletons. They discovered the warriors all hailed from central Europe—what is today Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, their genetic similarity offers little insight into why they fought.”

    I would bet my last dollar they were battling over which of their current crop of deities was the one, true God.

    1. Count Zero

      And I would bet my last pound they were fighting over access to natural resources — land, food, water, wood, etc.

        1. Synoia

          If you want an answer, watch Zulu or Shaka on Netflix., or read about Dingaan and Shaka.

          I believe Shaka depopulated the South African Interior, of Tswana, which is why the Boer great Trek was possible. I’d add that the action of hopping into your ox wagon and going up to 1800 miles north at 4 miles per day, indicated some level of Boer dissatisfaction with British Rule.

          Depopulate in this context was: kill the males and take the women as slaves.

          Africa at that time was primitive, one could argue it was close to being to stone age.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Shaka didn’t kill all the males. The Zulus started of as a tribe of some 400 people in a territory of about ten miles by ten. By the time he was assassinated a decade or so later they were a nation that was as big as France and I think about a quarter of a million people in population. He would smash the tribes as far as necessary and incorporate the survivors in his own tribe. If there were people that had ability in those survivors, then they could also quickly rise in the Zulu nation. Talent was always welcomed. A good read on this subject is “The Washing of the Spears” by Donald R. Morris.

    2. Moe Knows

      I’m not betting anything, but based on Jared Diamond’s thinking I doubt it had anything to do with deities. Be interesting to know what the climate was doing at that time. It’s in the ice cores I’m sure. I say this because if the climate was making the environment less able to produce food – you get this kind of fighting. Diamond has some very specific observations on just how backward this part of Europe was compared to the rest of the Mediterranean area. It may be the largest battle field recovered for its time, but then marsh soil is oxygen poor and thus would preserve the remains. It seems the Northern Europe was non stop fighting from 5000 BCE to oh say WW2.

      1. shtove

        Non-stop westward immigration along an arrow-shaped fertile plain, from the Urals to the channel. Bottle of vodka in Moscow, mug of beer in Berlin, cup of tea on the ferry to Dover.

    3. Drake

      I’m reading a three-volume history of the Seleucid Empire right now and it’s mostly a history of Macedonians fighting each other in Greece, Macedon, Turkey, Syria, Babylonia, Persia, Palestine, Egypt, Cyprus, etc. I’m imagining our intrepid researchers wondering why they fought each other and their disappointment upon finding that they were so genetically similar. Why on earth would they have been fighting? It’s inexplicable!

  9. L

    On Wall St. I find the news that Biden outraised Trump to be unsurprising but we do need to take a moment to appreciate something:

    Berne effing Sanders outraised Donald Trump on Wall St.

    Let that gell for a moment. After a lifetime of direct attacks on corrupt finance, tax dodging, the carried interest rule, fraud, and greed in general Sanders is still more popular than a president who started his first term by signing a massive tax cut for Wall St. and rolled back regulations they hate.

    My estimate of Wall St. has, oddly, gone up. Hearing that I’m surprised Trump hasn’t firebombed the place by now.

      1. hunkerdown

        Timing is everything. Corollary: Only do things you don’t want done (but do want to be seen doing) when your efforts will come to nothing. Don’t talk about ideas that hurt the donors when there’s any possibility they will become facts.

  10. Nate

    The Mark Blyth interview is interesting and entertaining, but he makes a couple really stupid, easily checked assertions about 22 minutes in.

    To fly to Florida for Thanksgiving, $500 each way on any airline? BS, I just checked it: https://vacation.hotwire.com/Flights-Search?tmid=30899144016&trip=RoundTrip&leg1=from:MCI,to:TPA,departure:11/23/2020TANYT&leg2=from:TPA,to:MCI,departure:11/30/2020TANYT&passengers=children:0,adults:1,seniors:0,infantinlap:Y&options=sortby:price&mode=search&paandi=true . (In case that doesn’t come through, the pricing as of today for a ROUND TRIP from Kansas City to Tampa — leaving the Monday before Thanksgiving and returning the Monday after — is $263. Southwest is even cheaper if you pick Wanna Get Away rates.)

    Also, $300 for two cell phones, a landline, TV and Internet every month? This one’s trickier, because there’s a lot of plans out there, but in my area that’d be more like $175, maybe $200.

    These are just two examples, but I bet there’s more in there that would not withstand real scrutiny. I don’t really disagree all that much w/Blyth, but when he pulls examples seemingly out of his fifth point of contact, it makes me question some of his larger points.

    1. maps

      Sorry, but your math isn’t even close to being correct. $300 for 2 cells, landline, tv, and internet is an understatement to say the least. I use a dumb phone, single line with no data and its $35 a month, my internet is $80 for the cheapest plan. I don’t think it is fair to calculate cost based on a basic phone plan. A lot of people can’t afford smartphone plans with data in addition to internet at home, and living without the internet is almost impossible these days.

      1. Howard Beale IV

        My total Internet/wireless/Cable TV bill (3 wireless and 1 landline via internet) is $230. IIRC, Verizon’s Visible MVNO is $40/mo with basically all you can eat data, which is just $5/mo more than you pay for your dumbphone – and I know there are other MVNO’s where you can get dirt-cheap service (Mint, Ting, etc.) for what you are paying for your dumbphone. Since you did not mention Cable TV I am assuming you do not subscribe.

      2. Nate

        Well, no, I just did the math. I priced two cell plans and TV to my current internet and landline accounts and came up with $210 per month. So, I was a little off, but I could lower the bandwidth on my internet plan and get the total below $200.

        Also, Blyth didn’t mention anything about smartphones, but I’m guessing you didn’t bother listening to the interview.

        1. jsn

          And that changes Blyth’s point about monopolists being price setters and collecting rents how?

          Their costs are miniscule. They charge everything they figure through data analysis the market will bear in whatever market they’re in.

          If they charged coastal corridor rates, where Blyth is more or less accurate, those are about the costs I expect to pay here in New York, they’d lose customers and cede rents.

          As for Florida tickets, airlines are surprisingly cheap at the moment because of their Covid subsidy and attempts to use it to restore a market. So narrowly you’re right today. In my experience over 30 years Blyth is mostly right most of the time on that cost.

      3. notabanker

        Yes, spot on. Cheap flyover country here, $200 for TV, Internet (40/10) and phone. Cancelled TV and only saved $45.Cellphone bill is well over $100.

    2. Samuel Conner

      I was more dismayed by Blyth’s apparent (please correct me if I misunderstood this) embrace of the “loanable funds” fallacy. He seemed to equate the present “magic money” moment of fiscal policy space with the historical contingency of negative real interest rates, and not the more fundamental reality of US monetary sovereignty.

      It also seems to me that he reckoned that the US jig would be up if it were not for our privilege of controlling the world’s reserve currency. Certainly, imports would become more costly if the world began to attempt to repudiate the dollar, but I don’t see this as a radical constraint on Federal fiscal policy space.

      1. jsn

        He and Taleb both miss this and I don’t think have had cause to consider it because their focus is much closer to the ground.

        Taleb dove deep into Hayek as a student, so started from a theoretical base that makes this particular issue exceedingly hard to see. It also gave him a deep skepticism of the so-called Keynesianism he encountered as a trader which experience inflated that into full blown and appropriate contempt for the economics profession. As a result, he hasn’t re-evaluated a number of baseline economic ideas, particularly those around monetary systems.

        As collaborators, I think they’ve reinforced each other’s mutual contempt for contemporary economics while focusing on real world outcomes and the real dynamics there to which economic “education” tends to blind people. I expect they’ll get there eventually!

      2. eg

        Having read most of Blyth’s widely available works and listened to him speak many times my understanding is that he is not an MMT adherent, though over time he appears to be becoming more MMT adjacent. I don’t generally find that this invalidates his political insights, which I continue to find valuable.

    3. hunkerdown

      You have time to take the whole week off to conform to the terms of a promo. A Somewhat Important Person, a roving professional such as Blyth, wouldn’t fly cattle class (+$500) and would probably want to be available during the rump workweek (+$50), and (depending on the family situation) may need to procure their own lodging for some or all nights (+$100/night).

      Someone who lives on the phone is not going to want to triple-play idiotic games with promotional pricing or x hundred FREE* minutes. They’re going to pay $90 per phone for the actually unlimited plan and be done with it, $100+ for expanded cable and premium class markers like HBO5 (or, at the other end of the rank order, ESPN1-8), and landlines are themselves a bit of a premium option anymore.

      Now, all prices are an approximation at best, and a tautology at worst, but to label his summary of observations, chosen according to his needs, as false while quoting today’s promo prices you have not taken, and whose conditions may cost you more than the ticket to satisfy, as “real” is an interesting fallacy that nonetheless invites us to ask whether prices are objective (no) and whether neoclassical economics is intellectually dishonest motivated reasoning (it is).

    4. notabanker

      You are missing the point. Have you ever lived overseas?

      Singapore owns Singtel. The Singapore government mandate competition to Singtel, there are multiple providers that compete there. As a result, Singtel, which has the best coverage, is priced competitively. It is illegal to to lockdown phones. You can shop for a phone at literally thousands of shops there. The latest and greatest models are available there months before the US. I watched MLB baseball games on my phone with 4G in 2013, years before 4G was prevalent in the US.

      UK, same deal. Multiple providers across the whole country. Cellphones cannot be locked. I had 1GB fiber for 40 quid a month, in London, and it included TV. Why, because I could choose any provider to hook into the fiber hub. It wasn’t worth the hassle to switch because it’s actually competitive.

      US is a complete joke. There is ONE fiber provider where I live, take it or leave it. One cell phone provider that has coverage across the full area I live. Oh, you want that phone? $1200 and you can only buy it from us. I could buy it overseas for $400 less. Oh you already have your own brand new phone, too bad, so sad, can’t run it on our network. I switched TV providers from Spectrum to Google for $39 a month. Literally four months later Google tv is now $55. I could go with Hulu for $54. What a coincidence.

      Corporations own this country, period, and they are extracting money by any and all means possible, with the full cooperation of the US government, because they own that too. Other neoliberal countries are not like this. I absolutely hate living in the US, he is absolutely right, it is a complete nightmare. Americans don’t realize it because they have no other point of reference, they are boiled frogs.

      1. hunkerdown

        “See? We run a real nice shooting ranch up here. Guaranteed bag or your money back! Vladimir won’t give you that kind of guarantee in his forest now will he? In fact, better you just not deal with him at all, lest we think you work for him and are trying to turn the animals against us.

        “Oh, and Jinping? His hogs got worms real bad and a hundred other diseases. No I don’t hate him, heck I buy bait and decoys and feed from him every week, but I’d have to keep you six feet away from the animals if I find you’d been down his way. Wouldn’t want my herd to catch any I-deas,” Uncle Sam derisively chuckled, breaking his stone-serious demeanor for a beat.

        “Look, you’re a hunter, you know how this works. Don’t spoil the bait, don’t overfeed ’em, one bag per guest unless you ask first, keep your walkie-talkie on but don’t let the animals hear it, leave the gate closed behind you. Come on up and see us anytime, just don’t familyblog up the ranch.” Uncle Sam turned to part ways, turned back, added, “Welcome to the team, kid,” with a grin and a proffered hand.

  11. km

    Re: Woke vs Unwoke.

    The fundamental difference between most religious observances and protest marches is that houses of worship can be ordered to close and most will comply. Protest marches are another matter.

    If a mayor orders a protest not to go forward, many protestors will simply ignore the order, thus putting the mayor in an awkward spot. The mayor can either try to arrest violators (tough, especially with a leaderless organization) or the mayor’s impotence is put on public display.

    Same reason that the lockdowns ended – people got tired of them. They then started flouting lockdown orders, in numbers too big and too dispersed for governments to do much of anything about. Government officials either had to pretend that they were in favor of ending the lockdowns, or they could watch their orders being ignored and the real limits of their authority made manifest.

    TL:DR: laws are not self-executing.

  12. DJG

    Open Letters, desperate communications, influence over the Biden administration (as a fantasy).

    The august signers of the missive let this paragraph slip in:
    “The Electoral College should be gone. Electoral coercion, manipulation and misdirection should be gone. The need to purchase visibility should be gone. The Democratic Party candidate should be Bernie Sanders or whoever would inspire your positive support. But none of that will happen by Election Day.”

    I notice the lack of human agency and political activity. All of these things happened or didn’t happen by magic.

    Ergo, ipso facto, the Wise Men and Wise Women want us to vote for Joe Biden and then oppose his policies. As I keep having to point out, the way the U.S. system is set up, the populace has very little way of pressuring a president in the first two years of office. Even someone who squeaked in like Trump considered his victory a mandate to pass his legislative program.

    So the liberals who still seem to think that the Electoral College was nefariously slipped into the Constitution about five years ago by the Rooskies now want you to buy the idea that Joe Biden and his appointees–and aren’t we already tantalized by the prospect of Buttigieg in the Cabinet? And Beto?–will give in to the desires of liberals for Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, the end of the endless wars, and limits on the police departments as occupation armies throughout the country.

    I am sure that there will be many, many more earnest open letters like this. There are always Ponzi schemes in America.

    So I’d characterize the communication not as an open letter but something more like a suicide note. This is where liberalism crawls off the mortal coil.

    The only thing that gives me pause is that Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, who knows exactly how little the Republicans and Democrats give into pressure, was a signer. I have no explanation for that lapse in her usually excellent judgment.

    1. Moe Knows

      Technically, there weren’t any Ponzi schemes in America until 1920. Swindle’s, grift, & Klept – all that is older then the Republic. After all we did steal often by way of murder all the land that makes up America. As to how we live now and how it compares to the past, I can’t think of anytime in America where things weren’t screwed up. We have always had, if I can put it this way: one foot in twilight zone and other on a banana peel. We barely get by.

      1. Count Zero

        Who is this “we”? I am frequently recruited to a “we” I don’t belong to. Some people stole all the land but the majority of American people were and remain entirely landless. And the “we” that barely gets by is probably not the “we” that stole all the land. There’s a “we” that is doing very well these days but that “we” doesn’t include most of us. I never trust that word “we”. Include me out.

    2. lambert strether

      Yes, Obama totally installed Biden so he could implement Sanders’ platform. It’s all so clear.

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      From the letter:

      Not voting for Biden in swing states won’t bring on a revolution. Not voting for Biden in swing states will not make anyone the slightest bit more progressive, radical, or revolutionary. Not voting for Biden in swing states will not grow or solidify the ranks of opposition. But not voting for Biden in swing states risks immeasurably enlarging the obstacles that opposition will thereafter face.

      True unless you are prioritizing opposition to corporate Ds over opposition to corporate Rs. Which seems a miscalculation in this moment, with Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader and Trump in the White House.

      No, I don’t like Chuck Schumer or Joe Biden either and I agree we will have precious little leverage after the vote—but actually the notion that we have any now seems like magical thinking to me.

      I live (for now) in a swing state and voted none of the above in 2016. This year, as Cornel West suggests, I’ll vote for Biden but I won’t lie for him.

      But neither will I lie to myself that I would be accomplishing something by not voting for Biden. Let us not romanticize this precious right of ours. It is childish to hold out for something that is not on offer. Yes, there was the night of the long knives, and still to come will likely be the bait and switch when Kamala ascends to her anointed throne.

      That is bad behavior but not my bad behavior. I’m not going to take my marbles and go home, not in a swing state. You do have that luxury though ;-)

      1. edmondo

        Sorry. Any vote for Biden validates the Democratic Party machinations. I too live in a swing state. I wouldn’t vote for one of these clowns if I was the last deciding vote.

      2. ChrisAtRU

        IMO, the only valid way to frame the election for anyone who is going to cast a vote for either of the two main parties’ presidential nominees is this: you are choosing your next opponent. Establishment Democrat and Republican economic and social policies are driven by corporations and the wealthy to benefit corporations and the wealthy first and foremost. The problem for Dems is that a lot of their limo liberal base is already thinking about brunch and not looking to fight for anything. Down-ballot voting for left candidates is crucial this election cycle. Don’t think we’ll be rid of Pelosi, but there are many races where left candidates can make a difference. So instead of holding one’s nose, maybe put up a dart board with Biden in the bullseye, because if he does manage to pull this off, it should mean him being in the cross-hairs of every left/progressive representative/activist/worker/person.

        1. neo-realist

          If Trump wins, the left/progressives/activists will be in the crosshairs of the guns of federal officers and white nationalist vigilantes and the legal maneuvers of the DOJ – RICO statutes and will receive some brutal justice.

      3. Felix_47

        In cards if you get dealt a crappy hand you throw them in and wait for another draw. Trump is just four years and not a lot of evidence he wants more war. Biden/Harris is a Wall Street lawyer PMC MIC health insurance dynasty that is going to last a lot longer than four years. With Trump you get another draw in four years. And don’t forget Trump was the chosen candidate of HRC and her campaign people. In other words Trump was given to you by the Dems. If Trump was good enough for HRC in the primaries I’ll take it again. The overwhelming support for Biden in the financial and legal and war and insurance industry makes him an unacceptable risk for my kid’s future.

    4. nippersdad

      That Medea Benjamin signed that was the only real surprise in it for me as well. I was amazed that she just didn’t remain silent rather than endorse a war criminal. Her stock just plunged, for me anyway.

    5. Amfortas the hippie

      “… the populace has very little way of pressuring a president in the first two years of office…”

      if biden squeaks in, we’ll all be shamed and harassed if we try to get anywhere near his feet(for to hold them to the fire)…instead, we’ll be shouted down and relegated to fringeland, to allow the Adults to ‘repair the soul” or something.

      remember how the antiwar, antitorture, antiwarcrime, etc etc all just sort of evaporated once Obama laid his hand on the book?

      there shall be no criticism, citizen!
      and since bernie=trump=hitler, i expect further menacing behaviour from Team Blue…”just a disgruntled fascist commie, huh, Vlad?”

      1. The Rev Kev

        Yeah, sounds like your assessment is pretty spot on. They’ll keep Biden sealed away somewhere and everybody will be pushed aside in favour of the adults in the room who will get to decide what behaviours are and are not ‘valid.’.

      2. neo-realist

        After 8 years of Obama’s prevarications, things are much different: You have a growing progressive core in the democratic party on the down tickets -Jaypal, Bush, Omar, AOC, Pressley ( and may improve after election night)- that you did not have 8 years ago. Much of the base noticed that the Obama show resulted in Trump, so it may be difficult to pull off a rerun with similar policies without the threat of losing power and relevance. You’ve got the consequences of neoliberal economics and social neglect coming to a head with a much more severe economic depression and street action that you did not have during the Obama years. The dire present conditions will not make it easy for neoliberal President to simply go on with business as usual without going four years and out. After all Kamala want her shot at eight years.

        1. Salamander

          I don’t know. I have more faith in the United States of Amnesia than that. I think Chuck will kick at the football again and again and again.

          Nothing changes until the world dethrones the dollar.

  13. fwe'zy

    The thing about Woke is that it’s not Wrong. It’s merely nearsighted (by definition) and easily co-opted.

    If you’ve never had to sit through d*ck jokes and “men are better at compartmentalizing” from gross auld dudes on “progressive” “work” calls … Or eco saints pinching your chubby red cheeks …

  14. Mike Elwin

    Faith leaders messaging? It always comes down to, “There’s an all-powerful invisible magician who can fix things if you ask him really nicely and do what I say. Oh, and feed and house me.”

  15. chuck roast

    Thanks for keeping that Johns Hopkins Covid data site up there. I keep clicking on Sweden Normalized for Population and find that whatever it is that they were not supposed to do appears to be successful. What’s up with that? Are they goofing on the data collection? Or are their widely condemned heterodox methods working? Anyone care to comment?

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      It’s what the Vietnamese PM said: “Each citizen is a soldier, each house, hamlet, residential area is a fortress in the fight against the pandemic.”

      Vietnam, for all its faults, has a functioning social contract. So does Sweden. Each individual ‘owns’ responsibility for the group’s result. So the sum of individual choices around masking, distancing and other commonsense measures moves the needle on the stats, with very little state compulsion needed.

      Americans in contrast have grown to despise and fear large chunks of their fellow citizenry, and quietly wish they would wither and die. But it isn’t just abstract Other hordes of shiftless welfare queens or gun toting zombie rednecks. In our Bowling Alone society, we no longer know, or care to know, our own neighbors except via accident (kids’ friends, dog walking). One of the nastiest places I know is a Whole Foods parking lot.

      So now it takes a very brave person (usually a woman of a certain age) to tell off that jerk who’s loud talking on their cellphone unmasked in the clinic waiting room. Because the reaction may well be verbal (who the *%&* do you think you are, mind yer bizness), or even physical violence.

      Sounds like the UK has gone into much the same mental space; Canada has not.

      That kind of disfunction puts America in the same boat as caste-ridden societies like India, Latin America or the Philippines, where you don’t presume to tell your betters what to do unless you want a thrashing. People would rather mind their own business, and get sick.

  16. Pavel

    Re birdsongs:

    I greatly enjoyed listening to the chickadee songs whilst looking outside my screen door at 3 chickadees feasting on the sunflower seeds I put out earlier.

    I moved to a small Cape Cod house a few weeks ago to be near an ailing relative for a month or so. I am but the most amateurish of birders, but bought a sack of birdseed and put it on a makeshift feeder (just a small slab of slate). Much to my pleasure within 24 hours I had chickadees, cardinals, bluejays, mourning doves and sparrows. The first are the most numerous and as any birdfeeder will know, the least shy.

    The cardinals are also regular customers — one male and two females — and the bluejays a bit more skittish but magnificent. I only recently learned they are members of the covid family (ravens, crows, etc) and thus very intelligent.

    But looking at the political world, the dimmest birds (perhaps my mourning doves, whose waddle always reminds me pretentiously of Joyce’s “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan”) are more in tune with nature and the good things in life than Trump, Biden, Pelosi et al. Bah bloody humbug!

    Here is to simple pleasures… birdwatching definitely among them.

    (Here endeth the lesson :)

  17. Mikel

    A fun reprieve here from all the doom. (Although this may implications of its own for what it says about what’s happening to the imagination).
    There were some posts previously on NC about music copyright.
    This gentlemen explains a source of the confusion. Wowsers….

    Why pop music is obsessed with this one note

  18. upstater

    re. “Rail Week Ending 19 September 2020 – Contraction Continues But Remains On An Improving Trendline”

    Rail traffic, particularly carload traffic will NEVER return to previous levels. All major North American railroads (except BNSF) have implemented “precision scheduled railroading”, which is a euphemism for slash and burn cuts to service. All railroads have stored locomotives and laid off tens of thousands of workers, pre COVID.

    It ain’t coming back, unless there is government regulation mandating common carrier status.

  19. Sub-Boreal

    Re: “Mapping carbon accumulation potential from global natural forest regrowth” [Nature]

    You wonder about the role of private property in accounting for this paper’s 11% lower estimate than in previous studies. My quick skim of the full text didn’t find this factor explicitly considered. Two key excerpts:

    “We find that the maximum biophysical potential for natural forest regrowth to mitigate climate change is 2.43 Pg C yr−1, which is almost 11% lower than previously reported owing to the overestimation of rates. The area-weighted average carbon accumulation rate in Griscom et al. was 3.58 Mg C ha−1 yr−1 (derived from Bonner et al.) compared to the 3.16 Mg C ha−1 yr−1 estimated here. Nevertheless, even with our more conservative rate estimates, regrowth of natural forest in the absence of cost constraints remains the single largest natural climate solution.”

    “Achieving 2.43 Pg C yr−1 under our maximum biophysical scenario is challenging and would require dietary shifts towards a plant-based diet, which could release large areas of current grazing lands back to forest, as well as croplands that are used to produce fodder for livestock. Even 1.60 Pg C yr−1 under the more policy-relevant national commitments scenario will be difficult to achieve, with some countries committing to the restoration of more forest area than is available and relying on approaches other than natural forest regrowth to restore forests.”

    This week’s issue of Science has a commentary on this paper and a related one in PNAS. It quotes additional experts who have considered economic influences:

    “One problem: There is often little economic incentive for private landowners to allow forests to bounce back. Under current policies and market pricing, “nobody will abandon cattle ranching or
    agriculture for growing carbon,” says Pedro Brancalion, a forest expert at the University of São Paulo in Piracicaba, Brazil. And even when forests get a second life, they often don’t last long enough to store much carbon before being cleared again. Fagan notes that even in Costa Rica, renowned as a reforestation champion for doubling its forest cover in recent decades, studies have found that half of second-growth forests fall within 20 years.” [ http://science.sciencemag.org/content/369/6511/1557 ]

  20. The Rev Kev

    “What Happened to Milwaukee’s Black Middle Class?”

    Wasn’t that the State where they did a story about four years ago on how blacks stayed at home and did not bother going voting as things had gotten worse for them after four years of a black President? I think that a part of this story was where they were talking to all these dudes in barber shops who said that it was just not worth it going out to vote as nothing ever got better for them.

    1. Stillfeelinthebern

      2016 was also the first major election where the photo ID was in force in Wisconsin. Dems did nothing about this. Screamed lots about how horrible it was, but did nothing to get out there and get people registered and ready with photo ID.

      Most everyone would use a WI drivers license or ID card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles for their photo ID. It takes official documents (birth certificate) and TIME to get this ID. There were last minute changes to make it easier to get a temporary ID, at that point it was too late to mobilize, there was no structure in place.

  21. Toshiro_Mifune

    “The Woke and the Un-Woke” ….. To be fair now, we have case studies of superspreading events from church services, and no case studies of superspreading events from marches. Which makes sense, since church services are indoors, and marches are outdoors.
    Well… to be really fair; have they even done case studies for COVID spread from protests? Would those garner any attention if they were published? How would you even conduct contact tracing from protests? Asking people, very nicely; “If you were at the protests, please let us know. This is tots for science” ?

    1. marym

      There were different approaches at the time – specific testing sites for protesters to get tested, asking a general question about whether someone had been at a large gathering, and monitoring for spikes in cities where there were protests. At least one study found that non-participants in the protests avoided going out more, which was a factor.

      I can’t speak to the details of every shut-down order, but in my state it was for gatherings. Many religious groups everywhere found other means of “religious expression” including virtual and drive-in services and, like other individuals and groups facing the pandemic, helping their communities.

      There were public safety arguments to be made in the spring about the degree of risk in allowing the protests or surpressing them, and politicians using a moral argument were opportunistic. But now, in September, framing the shut-down of gatherings as a matter of religious freedom would also be opportunistic.

  22. John k

    Trump picked Barrett. I was sure he’d pick Lagoa.
    In 2017 I picked Bernie as next pres if he remained healthy.
    Better start betting against my picks.
    So now I’m picking them both to win.

    1. hunkerdown

      Remember, it’s very important that we vote for these people not because of policy, but because of who they are.

      At least Jeb‽ and Mayo Pete were polite about it.

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      I think “good ol’ Joe from Scranton” just hit his Deplorables moment, right here. The mask of elitist Beltway contempt just slipped.

      The military is still the one US institution that commands broad respect across the electorate, especially the folks who pulled a lever for Trump last time. And those 500 retired flags who endorsed Joe just lost their cred.

      I suspect “Another Stupid Bastard for Trump” tee shirts are being printed as we speak.

      Anyone care to bet against Joe’s handlers achieving a twofer with a clumsy “Dukakis in a tank” moment as they try to walk it back? Perhaps Joe can play a military march on his phone that turns out to be the Horstwessellied or something….

    3. Acacia

      “Come on, man.”

      Funny how Team Blue and its sycophants recently jumped all over Trump for reportedly calling the troops “losers”, except… oops… there was no evidence, but now we have actual video of Biden insulting them.

      It’s almost becoming axiomatic that whatever the Demodogs throw at Trump turns out to be a skeleton in their own closet.

      P.S. Biden seems to have aged a lot since 2016.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        Comrade Clarky90 nailed it back in May:

        The Dems have created a Golem! Named Joe Biden.

        “….connoting the unfinished human being before God’s eyes. The Mishnah uses the term for an uncultivated person: “Seven characteristics are in an uncultivated person….”

        The Dems have been kabbalisticaly chanting, for the last four years, special invocations; “Nepotist”, “Racist”, “Rapist”, “Vile”, “Repugnant”, “Liar”, “Xenophobe”, “Islamophobe”, “Mentally Deranged”, “Sociopath”, “un-formed………

        And Presto!, by their unlimited magik powers, the Dems have created (brought to life!) their dream- candidate/creature, Joe Biden! -a golem who embodies all of their words.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Biden probably thought he was being ” fellow tough-guy funny” right there. If so, we will see if that sort of humor is worth the risk in these tense and unfunny times.

  23. Wukchumni

    Finally, a BLM protest that bore fruit…

    (CN) — A Montana federal judge ruled Friday that Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management William Perry Pendley has been unlawfully serving in the position for over a year.

    Despite being on the verge of completing a full term in the White House, President Donald Trump has faced criticism for allowing a number of ranking administration officials to carry out official duties in an acting capacity only, and therefore without receiving any kind of official confirmation from the Senate.


  24. flora

    Love the bird calls. I involuntarily relax shoulders and jaw when listening to them, and take a fine deep breath remembering other times and places where I heard them in the wild, and my whole system exudes an ‘ahhhh’.

    This is exactly what I need to stay sane during this season of screaming political ads.

  25. Jessica

    There is also a shift from winning by providing visible, concrete benefits to winning through advertising and PR and narrative management in general.
    This shift is so pervasive across corporate America that much of the institutional mainstream Democratic Party probably doesn’t even think about an alternative to mindf**kery as the core of the campaign.

  26. Jessica

    People did look for spikes in the number of cases after the big protests and didn’t find them.
    I assume that someone among the Trumpistas and anti-maskers is going through the data with a fine tooth comb and would make a fuss about it if they found indications of a spike.

  27. cnchal

    > I wonder what a real cynic would think.

    The university leaders have their investments in big pharma and are looking for a 100 bagger?

    > Not to be cynical, but not preventing onward transmission would seem to be “optimal” from the standpoint of opportunities for profit. Readers, am I too cynical?

    What’s that saying? Never let a crisis go to waste.

    Not cynical enough. What mental gymnastics go on in people’s heads that turns an innocent young boy or girl into an engineer working for a military contractor designing bombs and weapons or tools of oppression as much of tech wasteland is?

    And I am not even a real cynic. That’s just from observation. While the rotten system looks at me, I look back and go on strike by refusing to swallow the Bernays sauce. The dollar you don’t have to earn is moar valuable that the dollar you do. Status is for idiots.

  28. BobWhite

    Under 2020…
    DE – “Republicans ask court to order Delaware not to count vote-by-mail ballots”

    Some interesting exchanges, maybe even humorous:
    “What are you asking me to do here?” asked Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock III.

    The attorney, Julia Klein, hesitated before ultimately calling on the judge to direct “the Department of Elections not to count any vote by mail” ballots.

    “To spoil those ballots,” the judge interjected. “You want those ballots spoiled!”

    [Klein] argued that substantial numbers of voters using the new mail system might fail to sign ballots or unknowingly commit other minor errors that would cause their votes to be dismissed.

    But her argument failed to resonate with the judge.

    Glasscock asserted that Republicans do not appear concerned about disenfranchisement, given their remedy is to toss out “100 percent” of ballots sent through the new vote by mail system.

    “What you’re concerned about is not that people will not be able to have their votes counted –you’re quite willing to have people’s votes not recorded,” he said.

    +2 for Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock III …

  29. Keith Newman

    I found Blyth disappointing albeit entertaining.
    A new generation of US millennials changing anything? Give me a break. Many of the boomers, whom he reviles, believed they were bringing about amazing transformative change. For identity and sexual issues they did. But nothing much else despite having unions and a political party and other organizations that represented them. Many also had experience organizing against the Vietnam atrocity as well as other critical issues.
    Today’s generation of confused, divided, disorganized, totally propagandized people without any political representation? That’s the hope? He does mention organization will be needed. Easy to say. Where exactly will it come from?
    Sure he flogs inequality as an issue, but so does everyone. Empty words.
    Nor does he understand the monetary system so his comments related to that were grating.

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