2:00PM Water Cooler 9/29/2020

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I got wrapped around the axle on administrivia, and as a result, the politics section, which I always leave until last because it’s my favorite, got short shrift. More there soon. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Australian birds are said to be raucus, but I was taken with the name “Australian Shoveler” (Spatula (!) rhynchotis). Along with chorus of other birds!


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:

Flattening continues…

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

Both Wisconsin and North Carolina look worrisome now, although it looks like Texas got its data under control.

FL: CDC Releases Updated COVID-19 Fatality Rate Data” [Tallahassee Reports]. Turns out Leon County does a little worse than the national rates, which are:

CDC Releases Updated COVID-19 Fatality Rate Data Tallahassee Reports

A quick summary of COVID-19 survival rates is shown below. The summary is based on the CDC table provided at the end of this report.

CDC COVID-19 Survival Rates

  • Age 0-19 — 99.997%
  • Age 20-49 — 99.98%
  • Age 50-69 — 99.5%
  • Age 70+ — 94.6%

There was a good deal of yammering on the right when these CDC figures came out, along the lines of “ZOMG!!!!! 99%? And you’re telling me that Covid is a problem?!?!” It’s worth noting that these are fatality rate, and that 1% of 325 million = 3,250,000, a not insignificant number. I grant that our society was an implicit policy of what Engels calls social murder, especially where profit is involved, but openly writing off 3,250,000 people… Well, I was a little taken aback.

NY: “Warnings Issued as Virus Cases Rise in New York” [New York Times]. “Officials are particularly concerned about eight neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, some with large Orthodox Jewish communities, that have accounted for about one-fourth of New York City’s new cases in the past two weeks, despite representing about 7 percent of the city’s population. On Friday, New York City health officials began carrying out emergency inspections at private religious schools in some of those neighborhoods and threatened to limit gatherings or force closings of businesses or schools if there was not better compliance with social-distancing requirements. The communities are celebrating Jewish high holidays through mid-October, which are marked by religious and family gatherings.”


“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. September 25: Ohio moves from Leans Republican to Toss-up.. 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.

NEW “2020 General Election Early Vote Statistics” [U.S. Elections Project (SlayTheSmaugs)].

“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!

* * *

FL: “The #Resistance and the Retirement Community Inside the Villages in Florida, where election tensions are at an all-time high” [New York Magazine]. “The Villages is located an hour from Orlando, 115,000 boomers populating a 32-square-mile sprawl of golf courses, beige built-to-order ranch homes, and rec-center swimming pools.” You can imagine. Let me skip to this quote: “Marr and Sandler both described experiencing a heavy flush of adrenaline as the rumble of golf-cart engines and celebratory horn blowing grew louder.” • This reminds me forcibly of how David Graeber described his own adrenaline rush at the Republican National Convention in Philly, as he started running toward the cops with his fellow black bloc friends. Polarization has its charms. This is a vividly written piece well worth a read.

GA: “The six political states of Georgia” [WaPo]. “We’ve split Georgia into six political “states,” starting with Atlanta, where Republicans were struggling before Trump’s presidency and have lost ground since. The Atlanta suburbs, six counties with interstate access to the city, have become the state’s most competitive region. North Georgia, the Piedmont and South Georgia are solidly Republican, and the party may have some more votes to turn out there. The Black Belt, with fewer votes than these other regions, always backs Democrats — but a turnout difference of just 20,000 or 30,000 votes, with rural Black voters being enthusiastic to cast ballots and confident those ballots will count, could swing a close statewide election.” • This is a good series; I should go back and link to it all. (Not sure if the suburban thesis is correct, though. What, after all, is a suburb…)

ME: “How Susan Collins’ Appeal to Maine’s Seniors Grew Old” [Mother Jones]. “This doesn’t bode well for Collins. In each of her past four Senate campaigns, she comfortably defeated her Democratic opponents, with consistent support from her fellow Boomers and Silent Generation voters like Whitley who embody a brand of nonconformist New England moderation that favors split-ticket voting. And these voters play an outsize role. More than a fifth of Mainers are older than 65, and they reliably cast ballots. ‘Maine seniors aren’t only the most important voting bloc in Maine—they’re also the most informed,’ says Emily Cain, the executive director of EMILY’s List, who once served as the Democratic minority leader in Maine’s State House. If Collins loses this November, a freshly mobilized grassroots resistance can take some of the credit. But so too can Maine’s seniors, who appear to be abandoning her: While they supported her by a 20-percentage-point margin in 2014, a September poll showed them preferring her opponent by 18 points. This election is shaping up as a referendum on whether Collins’ trademark moderation has lost its credibility…. The constant barrage of advertising has made this one of the most expensive Senate races in the country: Collins and [her opponent Sara] Gideon have raised a combined $41 million, and another $41 million has been spent for and against them, a fortune considering Maine has some of the country’s most inexpensive media markets.” • Gideon opposes #MedicareForAll and supports Medicare buy-in. Emily’s List, good job.

NC: “A Month Out from the Deadline, Some Observations on NC’s Exponential Absentee by Mail Ballots” [Old North State Politics]. “The fact that over 1 million registered North Carolina voters have requested an absentee by mail ballot is truly amazing (through 9-27, the exact number is 1,076,247 requests), considering that in all of 2016, the total requests for an absentee by mail ballot was a little over 231,000…. within party registrations, 20 percent–or one in five–of all registered Democrats have requested an absentee ballot, compared to under 10 percent of registered Republicans, with registered Unaffiliated voters exactly between the two, at almost 15 percent of their total registered voters. Of the ballots returned and accepted, 3.5 percent of NC’s registered voters have made up their minds and cast their vote choices. In other words, the election is over for these voters, even before the first presidential debate has been held. Among the party registrations, 5 percent of all the state’s registered Democrats have ‘banked’ their ballots, with 3 percent of registered Unaffiliated and almost 2 percent of registered Republicans submitting their vote choices. For these voters with returned and accepted ballots, they are electorally ‘done’ and are merely spectators as to what unfolds in the home stretch to November 3.” • Which is why I loathe early voting. It encourages party loyalty and de-emphasize campaigns. I’m sure that’s why the Democrats, at least, are always talking it up.

OH: “Ohio Democrats dominating absentee ballot requests, possibly creating election night angst” [Columbus Dispatch]. “The outcome of the presidential race in the bellwether Buckeye State appears even more unpredictable than usual. Ohio could be among the states where election fraud is alleged simply because the leader in the presidential vote could shift dramatically on election night and possibly shift back a week-and-a-half later. Before COVID-19 hit, more Ohio Republicans than Democrats voted by mail, generally speaking. Democrats favored voting early in person at their county elections board, or going to the polls Election Day. But in 2020, Democrats are far outdistancing GOP voters in requesting absentee ballots.”

OH: “Federal judge rules against voting-rights activists’ challenge of Ohio signature-matching rules on absentee ballot applications” [Cleveland.com]. “U.S. District Judge Michael Watson wrote that while Ohio’s signature-matching requirements impose a ‘moderate’ burden on voters, they have other options to cast a ballot if their vote is improperly rejected, including casting a provisional ballot on Election Day. He agreed with Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose that the state has a legitimate interest in promoting an orderly and secure election, justifying that burden…. In Ohio, a voter who wants to cast an absentee ballot must fill out a paper application form, providing personally identifying information and signing it before delivering it to their county board of elections. Elections officials then match the signature with a signature contained in that voter’s file before deciding whether to send back an absentee ballot. The voting-rights groups contend the state’s system of verifying signatures is unreliable, saying the practice of verifying signatures is subjective, especially since voters’ signatures change over time. They also contend the state’s system of notifying voters of a signature problem doesn’t offer enough time for the voter to fix the issue in time for their ballot to be counted.” • My signature changes over time, too. Like in minutes. That said, before completely agreeing with the voting-rights groups, I’d need to know what the “personally identifying information” was. (Note that none of this happens when the paper ballots are hand-marked at the precinct, a process that is intrinsically less complex than vote-by-mail.)

PA: “Trump Shifts Focus To Pennsylvania To Shore Up Reelection” [WESA]. “Pennsylvania is anchored by large cities — Philadelphia to the east, Pittsburgh to the west — on opposite ends, each with sprawling suburbs. But the rest of the state is largely rural, comprised of small cities and towns where Trump ran up the score four years ago. He will likely need to again, as his prospects have slipped since 2016 in vote-rich suburban Philadelphia, where he underperformed by past Republican measures. This raises the stakes for his campaign’s more aggressive outreach to new rural and small-town voters across the industrial north…. If Trump is to carry Pennsylvania again, he cannot just add new voters in the state’s expansive rural areas but must stop the bleeding outside Philadelphia, former Rep. Ryan Costello, a Republican, said…. Republicans also point to an aging population and a shrinking voter-registration edge for Democrats, down 20% from 2016’s election to 733,000, according to the latest state data, although the numbers also show that many more non-voting Democrats than Republicans fell off voter rolls in the last four years.”

* * *

Biden (D)(1): Pushing Biden Left (A):

Oh, private equity. That’s nice.

Biden (D)(2): Pushing Biden Left (B):

I had to break it to liberal Democrats, but Assimilating Bush Republicans is not the same as “unifying the country.” Very far from it. (Are there Republicans who are West Wing fans, too?)

Biden (D)(3): “Biden Will Restore America’s Moral Leadership” [The New Yorker]. • Yes, that’s why all those Bush-era war criminals oozed onto his bandwagon. Come on, man.

Sanders (D)(1): True, but relevant?

See the comment from Simon Wardley below, under “Realignment and Legitimacy.”

Trump (R)(1): “Opinion: The economy benefited from a lot of good luck in Trump’s first three years, but the luck has run out” [MarketWatch]. “The pandemic exposed the rot in the U.S. economy for all to see. As has been the case for decades, those who have wealth or education or privilege are doing fine, for the most part. With a few exceptions, the pandemic has been nuisance, but not a catastrophe. Not so for millions of their fellow Americans. Those who aren’t so lucky or privileged are scrambling to keep a roof over their heads, to put food on the table, to survive on the crumbs they get from unemployment, or to force themselves to physically go into their workplaces, hoping they won’t get sick or infect their customers, co-workers, friends and family. The recovery isn’t V-shaped, or L-shaped, but K-shaped, with half of the country doing well and the other half falling.” • Sort of amazing to see Case-Deaton quoted approvingly in MarketWatch, of all places.

* * *

“Election Monitors Who Watch Hot Spots Worry About the U.S.” [Bloomberg]. “The Carter Center, a U.S. nonprofit that has monitored 110 elections in 39 countries abroad since 1989, said on Aug. 28 that it was assigning a team to work at home ‘to help build confidence in the process and results.’ The decision was unprecedented and marks the first time the organization has detected democratic ‘backsliding’ in the U.S.” • Then after 2000, 2004, and the various shenanigains in 2016, they’re slow off the mark.

KY: Apparently, Amy McGrath used some of her RBG windfall to hire the loathesome Mothership strategies. This is their style:

NY: “Voters Across Brooklyn Get Absentee Ballot Return Envelopes with Wrong Name and Address” [The City (TF)]. “The city Board of Elections sent absentee ballots to some Brooklyn voters with return envelopes bearing strangers’ names and addresses, THE CITY has learned. In those cases, if a voter fills out their presidential election ballot and sends it in as instructed, their vote could be attributed to another person. As of late Monday, THE CITY had received calls and emails from several voters affected by the apparent screwup in at least five neighborhoods: Sheepshead Bay, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Park Slope and DUMBO. Victoria Edel, of Sheepshead Bay, said she received a return envelope with the name and address of a woman who lives one street away and has a last name that begins with a D. ‘This is not my ballot, we have this random lady’s ballot — it’s like they messed this up in a big way,’ said Edel, 28. Valerie Vasquez, a spokesperson for the city Board of Elections, blamed a vendor hired by the agency, Phoenix Graphics of Rochester, N.Y., hired to print and distribute absentee ballots in Brooklyn and Queens. She said the board is trying to understand the scope of the problem and what to do about it.” • Good, good. TF says the same thing happened to a friend. Has this happened to you?

Our Famously Free Press

“The Bombshell Memory Hole” [Matt Taibbi]. “Like many ‘bombshells,’ the Times tax story contains real information, including potentially real outrages, like bank fraud or deducting consulting fees paid to his daughter. The headline revelation is Trump as metaphor for American finance generally, showing the appearance of wealth resting atop absurd fictions, with monster debts rolled into the next ice age and losses somehow appearing as his greatest assets, in ways inconceivable to regular people. At the end of the cycle, pundits will conclude that Trump has a story about being rich in place of actual wealth, making him (drumroll please) more like a con man than a tycoon. That this is the same analysis some of us made at the beginning of Trump’s national political run eons ago won’t matter. Nor will it matter that Trump’s returns ought to be as embarrassing to media antagonists and a string of “reputable” politicians as they are to him, given that it was screamed to high heavens for years, from op-ed pages and cable news panels and the floor of the U.S. Senate, that proof of secret links to Vladimir Putin would be found. This idea never had merit — no sane person can think an espionage conspiracy would be detailed in a tax return — but a parade of experts and officials contended just this, including Chuck Schumer, George Will, Rachel Maddow and countless others….” • I’m not sure that Taibbi was cynical enough. The headlines aren’t about “American finance” because donors ffs. The headline turned out to be the $750, and inconveniently for that talking point, Trump paid $25 million in Alternative Minimum Tax. And so the story heads for the memory hole….

2016 Post Mortem

A massive takedown of the Cambridge Analytica moral panic of 2016 (which is, naturally, getting a second life in 2020). From dk, a thread:

Realignment and Legitimacy

The Biden campaign in a nut-shell:

“A Theory About Conspiracy Theories” [New York Times]. The deck: “In a new study, psychologists tried to get a handle on the personality types that might be prone to outlandish beliefs.” • Now do mainstream macro.

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.

Leading Indicators: “26 September 2020 New York Fed Weekly Economic Index (WEI): Index Little Changed In September” [Econintersect]. “The New York Fed’s Weekly Leading Index (WLI) continues to show an economy that is marginally worse than seen during the Great Recession. However, this index remains on a recovery trend but the index is little changed in September….. This data set should be considered a high-frequency coincident indicator on a par with the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index produced by the Philly Fed – and both show conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic are already worse than the Great Recession. However, the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index is improving whilst the WLI is still declining. Logic would say with the partial reopening of the economy – the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index seems to be correct.”

* * *

Retail: “Restaurants Are Struggling to Find—and Afford—Patio Heaters” [Restaurant Business]. “Restaurant operators, trying to eke out some sales before the weather turns too cold, say they’re now having a hard time finding—and paying for—outdoor heaters…. “‘It’s actually horrible,’ said Benjamin Prelvukaj, co-owner of New York City-based multi-concept operator Benjamin Restaurant Group. ‘We’re trying to order heaters or rent them and they are close to not existent or very, very expensive.'” • Go long patio heaters?!

Tech: “As Predicted, Google’s Search Preference Menu Eliminates DuckDuckGo” [DuckDuckGo Privacy Research]. “As explained in this series, we believe search preference menus — ones that change all search defaults and include the most common Google alternatives — can enable consumers to easily express their search preferences and significantly increase competition in the search market. Our most recent large-sample user testing shows that when a search preference menu is designed properly, then Google’s search mobile market share could immediately drop by around 20% (with potentially greater market change shift over time). However, Google’s current search preference menu in the EU is not properly designed, evidenced by the just released Q4 2020 auction results, listing which search engines will appear on the menu. DuckDuckGo, despite being the Google alternative that consumers most want to select, will no longer appear in most countries. As a result, many EU residents buying a new Android device will no longer have an easy way to adopt a private search engine…. The central problem with Google’s search preference menu is that it is a pay-to-play auction in which only the highest bidders are on the menu. This auction format incentivizes bidders to bid what they can expect to profit per user selection. The long-term result is that the participating Google alternatives must give most of their preference menu profits to Google!” • Good job, Google. I thought EU regulation was tough?

Tech: “Amazon bean-counter, her husband, father-in-law cough up $2.6m after SEC collars them on insider-trading rap” [The Register]. “Amazon has a “zero tolerance” insider-trading policy, something all finance department employees were reminded of by Amazon’s CFO personally in September 2017 after another employee was collared for insider trading. All staff who saw the highly confidential information before it became public were also reminded repeatedly in the lead up to the earnings reports that they were not to trade any Amazon securities except with the explicit approval of its legal department, nor tell anyone, including family, any details about the figures. Amazon also imposed blackout trading periods around earnings time. Considering all that, their alleged insider trading efforts were pretty amateurish. They opened no fewer than 11 accounts – all with the same trading platform – and under different family names. They then grew tired of operating each account independently and so, in records clearly provided under subpoena, they asked the trading company to treat them the same and allow all three of them access to the funds.” • I dunno. How cynical about Amazon’s “zero tolerance” policy should I be, given that the crooks were, as the Register puts it, “Not exactly Ocean’s Eleven”?

Tech: “The container shipping industry appears to be under attack. CMA CGM is recovering from an apparent ransomware attack that hit two of the French container line’s operations in Asia over the weekend…. [Wall Street Journal]. “The cyberattack is the second against a major container line this year, following an apparent incursion that caused a network outage at Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Co. in April. Denmark’s Maersk Line and China’s Cosco Shipping were also hit in recent years, with Maersk suffering major damage from 2017’s notorious NotPetya attack.”

Tech: “‘Sustained’ Cyber Attack Forces Flightradar24 Offline” [Bloomberg]. “Flightradar24.com, the popular flight-tracking website, is experiencing “sustained attacks” on its system and remains unavailable for users as engineers try to fix the issue. No further information was available. Flightradar24 doesn’t have an estimate on when its services will resume as the attacks are preventing it from successfully serving legitimate traffic, a spokesman said in an emailed response to queries. The website is among many popular tools and applications that allow users to track commercial and private jets as they fly, identifying the model and age, speed, weather and any distress signal to control towers. They are often the first source of information on airline emergencies and disasters, or even points of reference when a pilot illustrates something in the sky with a flight path.”

Mr. Market: “Trump-Biden debate could be ‘important catalyst’ for investors, Goldman says, but stocks may be stuck in ‘fat and flat’ range” [MarketWatch]. “Investors are anxiously awaiting the first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, which is expected to attract a record-breaking television audience from 9pm Eastern time on Tuesday night. In our call of the day, Goldman Sachs strategists said they remained ‘pro-risk’ but warned risky assets may be stuck in a ‘fat and flat range’ unless election uncertainty eased. …. The team said it would take more investor optimism around growth for stocks and other risky assets to breakout in a more sustained way. That would ‘likely require falling uncertainty around the U.S. election and positive vaccine developments,’ said the strategists, led by Christian Mueller-Glissmann.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 49 Neutral (previous close: 49 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 52 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 29 at 12:15pm. Still stuck in neutral!

The Biosphere

“Mars might have salty ponds next to its underground lake, raising the possibility of Martian life” [CNN]. • Dang. I missed Mars.

Health Care

“Boost for vaccine doses planned for poor as virus rages on” [Agence France Presse]. “The WHO said Monday that some 120 million rapid tests for Covid-19 will be made available to low- and middle-income countries at $5 each under a $600 million scheme — as long as funding can be secured. The kits — faster, cheaper and easier to administer than regular standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab tests, but also less reliable — will be rolled out across 133 countries in the next six months. ‘This will enable the expansion of testing, particularly in hard-to-reach areas that do not have lab facilities or enough trained health workers to carry out PCR tests,’ WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference. Experts have for months been calling for widespread adoption of this low-cost technology so that people can test themselves several times a week. In the US, President Donald Trump said 150 million tests would be distributed that deliver results in 15 to 30 minutes.”

“Talk of a scientific rift is a dangerous distraction in the fight against Covid-19” [Guardian]. “The cardinal rule of coronavirus policy is that you must follow “the science”. Or, at the very least, you must say that you are. … Sometimes it is easy for us to separate out false claims about science from real ones…. The real trouble occurs when the science itself appears fractured… caution has always been the point. We are used to scientific advice that is based upon years of peer review and replication. Science on a short timescale is messy and fallible, as this crisis has shown. Basic questions about the transmissibility and effects of the virus are still unresolved months after the outbreak began. The rule, when translating uncertainty into policy recommendations, has been to manage risk.” • Hmm. I should perhaps have made the point that the idea is not to “manage risk” but to avoid ruin.

“Warning Signs Flash Ahead of Covid’s Second U.S. Winter” [Bloomberg]. “History and science suggest the second winter with coronavirus is likely to be worse than the first. The pathogen is more entrenched and most respiratory viruses circulate primarily in the winter months. ‘We haven’t had exposure to Covid throughout an entire winter, when more people are indoors and close together for prolonged periods,’ said William Schaffner, an infectious disease professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. ‘We are certainly concerned that Covid could spread even more readily in the winter than it has so far.'”

Protests and Riots

“Cars have hit demonstrators 104 times since George Floyd protests began” [Democrat and Chronicle (Re Silc)]. “Amid thousands of protests nationwide this summer against police brutality, dozens of drivers have plowed into crowds of protesters marching in roadways, raising questions about the drivers’ motivations… Witnesses, law enforcement and terrorism experts said some of the vehicle incidents appear to be targeted and politically motivated; others appear to be situations in which the driver became frightened or enraged by protesters surrounding their vehicle….. [Ari Weil, a terrorism researcher at the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Threats] said that by analyzing news coverage, court documents and patterns of behavior – such as when people allegedly yelled slurs at protesters or turned around for a second hit – he determined that at least 43 of the incidents were malicious, and 39 drivers have been charged.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Post-It Dreams” [Tressie McMillan Cottom, Medium]. • This on Breonna Taylor is both lovely and tough-minded. Worth reading in full; I don’t want to extract it.

“Louisville SWAT Team Told Investigators They Had Concerns About Raid on Breonna Taylor’s Apartment” [Vice]. • Oy, too much even for the SWAT teams.

“Fairfax County schools defending $20K presentation from anti-racism scholar” [Fox5]. “The Fairfax County school district is defending its decision to pay $20,000 for an author who spoke to its administration and school leaders about racism for one hour. The speaker is Ibram X. Kendi – the author of How to be an Anti-Racist. The $20,000 price tag means the district paid Kendi more than $300 a minute.” • A “voice“… And no, I don’t think of McMillan Cottom that way at all, perhaps because I see her as a scholar.

Groves of Academe

“The Students Left Behind by Remote Learning” [The New Yorker]. • The pandemic is having so many salutary effects you can see why elites would want it never to end….

Guillotine Watch

“How to Succeed in Private Banking—or Maybe Get in a Lot of Trouble” [Bloomberg]. “Fees and commissions from just one gilded customer can support a banker and a crew of support staff; collectively they can power entire “private bank” units inside giant financial institutions. These white-glove services hook up the wealthy with everything from investment funds to currency trades to venture investments.” • That’s nice.

Class Warfare

“Impediments to the Schumpeterian Process in the Replacement of Large Firms” [NBER]. From the abstract: “Using newly-assembled data encompassing up to 75 countries and starting circa 1910, we find that the Schumpeterian process of creative destruction aptly describes the replacement of large firms by other firms, but exceptions to the norm of replacement are not rare and replacement is often not by new firms. Initial firm size and political connections represent the main obstacles to the Schumpeterian process while board interlocks and a corporate culture of innovation play modest roles. Consistent with a theory of political capture, when accompanied by regulations that restrict entry, political connections play a formidable role in abetting large firms remaining large.”

“How we bend the knee to our HR overlords” [Unherd]. “What kind of meaningful anti-systemic revolution can provoke such immediate and fulsome support from the Hollywood entertainment complex, from the richest oligarchs and plutocrats on earth, and from the media organs of the liberal state? If we are to understand the successor ideology as an ideology, it may be useful here, counterintuitively, to return to the great but increasingly overlooked 1970 essay on the “Ideological State Apparatuses,” or ISAs, by the French Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser….. What are these ISAs? Contrasted with the Repressive State Apparatuses — the police, the army, and so on — the ISAs are the means by which the system reproduces itself through ideology: Althusser lists the church, the media and the education system along with the family, and the legal and political system and the culture industry as the means through which the ideology of the governing system is enforced. Althusser here develops Gramsci’s thesis that the cultural sphere is the most productive arena of political struggle, and inverts it: instead of being the site of revolutionary victory, it is where the system reasserts itself, neutering the possibility of political change through its wielding of the most powerful weapon, ideology…. How does this apply to the successor ideology? Almost anyone who works in a university or a large corporation will by now have been forced to attend the instruction sessions in the dogma of the new faith which have rapidly become mandatory…. Like the wave of statue-toppling earlier this summer, which immediately subsumed itself into the endless bureaucracy of commissions and panels, overseen by the quangos and opaquely-funded NGOs which actually run this country, we realise that true power in Britain rests neither in the streets nor at the ballot box, but in the hands of the professional managerial class. The spread of the successor ideology is not, despite the urban violence which occasionally attends its spread, a revolutionary moment, but the very opposite, a counterrevolution of HR managers, the means by which managerial liberalism reasserts its authority over the organs of the state.” • Fun stuff. Who knew Althusser would come up on the charts again?

“How to get promoted” [Defmacro]. “So far we’ve talked about how you should act, but what should you actually do? Since the overt objectives are merely performative, you need to determine your actual objectives. Fortunately they’re the same in every growing company, so you don’t need to do any detective work to discover what they are. Your primary objective is simple— headcount growth (“do a lot with a little” is another shibboleth, don’t take it literally). Figure out the baseline headcount growth rate for the company, and grow your team at least as much. Any less, and you’ll be left in the dust. More is better— superstars always grow their headcount considerably faster than baseline. Don’t worry about what all these people will work on. The devil will conveniently find work for idle hands.” • Parkinson’s Law all over again!

News of the Wired

Possibly the best brand identity story ever:

I’ve always thought of Basquiat as a light-weight, but after subscribing to the Basquiat artbot for awhile, I now think I was wrong:

This is like a combination of Willem de Kooing and Paul Klee!

* * *

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: “If I were a grasshopper, I might take up residence on a pretty purple flowered plant too. Especially if I could eat it!!!” Symbiosis; the flower provides shade as well as food.

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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. fresno dan

          September 29, 2020 at 3:11 pm

          If you can walk at all before the debate – you are not ready for the debate.
          Actually, if your conscious at all, you are not ready for the debate.
          For the first time in my life that I have an opportunity to see a presidential debate, I am going to skip it. Its pointless and I am no longer amused.
          I think I’ll try and find the worst show on free cable to watch – maybe 90 Day Finance or Blotched… as to do penance for not consuming the emanations of our upcoming leader.

      1. Samuel Conner

        That game might be dangerous even if just drinking water.

        I recommend making up oral rehydration solution at half strength and drinking that in half-shots. I think that would not be too dangerous.

        1. ambrit

          Considering the “quality” of the debaters tonight, we would be better off using anal rehydration solution. (After all, both parties are promising a rousing round of buggery to we plebs.)

            1. flora

              adding: Here’s the Gravel Institute’s latest video, 5 minutes. You don’t have to subscribe to watch it.

              Watching this before the debate will make a lot of the unspoken agreements stand out, imo; agreements like ‘govt is the problem’, or ‘big govt is bad’, or ‘we have to cut federal spending.’ Those positions are bought and paid for by both parties’ biggest donors, the donor class.


      2. ChrisPacific

        12. Trump tells a lie; Biden says something that doesn’t make sense.

        Taibbi is obviously trying to put us all out of our misery.

      3. orlbucfan

        That drinking game would kill me just reading about it. 20-30 years ago, mebbe not. But now? Not watching the debate reality show tonight.

    1. nippersdad

      Looks like we will need more gin.

      Off topic, but the other day Mom was at the store and someone in front of her had ten bottles of tonic water. Could that have been debate party prep or might it be the poor mans’ version of Hydroxychloroquine?

      Either way, anyone still standing tomorrow should be immune. Nothing could withstand that kind of drinking game.

    2. Mikel

      “These are weird, unstable dudes, in a super-charged environment, on live TV. ”

      And the joke is on us all.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Not all of us. As noted in links above, the PMC and their overlords who own the system are the ones doing the “laughing at” the vast majority of us.

        And look how we mopes self-police — any hints of suggestions of actual confrontational physical opposition or efforts to redress the endless sharp sticks poked in our eyes and posterior ramming by the looting class are either shouted down or palliated by “gentle voices urging moderation and temperance and forbearance.”

        I owned an MGB sports car, which gave me lots of opportunities to have to deal with recalcitrant fasteners And hardware — like the studs that held the cylinder head down, the suspension bolts and wheel lugs. In addition to growing my assortment of “Whitworth” tools, and expansion of fluency in profanity Beyond what I acquired in the military, I learned the use of the acetylene torch, the brass and steel hammer, and the breaker bar. I also learned that occasionally one had to just twist off the offending nut in order to proceed with the repair. We mopes have sadly surrendered the political-economic equivalents of those “persuaders, more’s the pity. Dissipating our torque in Twitterverse.

        Not going to get to ay righteous destination that way.

        1. sierra7

          “We mopes have sadly surrendered the political-economic equivalents of those “persuaders,……”
          Sad but true. It’s too late to “remedy” the corrupt system.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Given all the multi-levels of sustained-violence-processing technicians at the Upper Class’s beck and call to brutify any mope in public who uses any of your tools . . . . as an example to all the onlooker mopes; I myself will stick to what passive obstructive slowdown and stickiness methods I can use.

          If the entire Mopetariat used these methods, the system might become painfully slow for the System Lords. But one Passive-Obstructive mope can not inspire 200 million mopes to get Passive-Obstructive. They will have to decide to get that way, one individual decision at a time.

          Meanwhile, people could leave information about various forms of non-illegal passive obstruction here on these threads in case people care to pick them up and use them. Consumption slowdowns, consumption re-direction, etc. In a spirit of “violent non-violence” and politely courteous hatred for the targets.

  1. L

    but openly writing off 3,250,000 people… Well, I was a little taken aback.

    Lambert I would argue that this has been the big story of America’s response to COVID. From Kushner’s apparent backroom willingness to target deliveries to Trump’s public “If you take the blue states out.” What COVID has done is shine a glaring light on our tribalism (both political and economic) and the ways in which we are ripping ourselves apart. This ranges from supposed “pro-life” conservatives openly jeering deaths in NY to suburban parents basically demanding schools open with no concern for teachers. Even mask wearing, the simplest of social efforts, is only for the weak.

    Whatever the form the divisions are still there.

    Yes there are other forms of it from the Proud boys to the Supreme Court (apparently to some it is all the Dems fault because of Bork). But nothing has shown this like Covid.

    My theory is that for most of our recent history the threats have been (supposedly) external (e.g. communism or the Axis). Despite Trump’s attempts to paint it as a PRC attack it is definitively an internal problem. And our problem is that “every man for himself” doesn’t work in a pandemic. In business terms passing off your pain on others is “externalizing” only now are we seeing just how many Americans are willing to externalize their issues on other Americans, or just pass the popcorn as they die.

    Until that changes, we are screwed.

    1. KevinD

      I grew up in an environment where we were taught to hate the Russians, the Chinese – any country where it’s citizens were not “free” like us. Now, we are more or less taught to hate our fellow Americans. We have met the enemy and is us.

        1. rowlf

          I always liked this quote from Gustav Hasford’s “The Phantom Blooper”: In America we lie to ourselves about everything and we believe ourselves every time.

          It may be Hasford riffed off of Hunter Thompson’s nation of used car salesmen concept after he found out he didn’t fit into the American Dream as a veteran.

      1. The Rev Kev

        It’s 2020 and here in Oz we are reliving the Cold War of the 50s and 60s where we are being told to hate the Russians and to hate the Chinese. As Eric Cartman often says – screw those guys, I’m going home!

      2. Wukchumni

        I grew up in an environment where I was told to eat all of the food on my plate, as people were starving to death in China, and they were.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      ” Until that changes” . . . some day . . .

      In the meantime, those of us within OUR targeted group might think about helping eachother survive more effectively withIN our group, at the very least. Us can’t affect the “future” if us don’t even live that long.

    3. Lost in OR

      CDC COVID-19 Survival Rates

      Like the increased survival rate from battle field injuries, this leaves a lot left unsaid. How about a metric for % disabled for those surviving hospitalization? Or % of Covid hospitalizations leading to bankruptcy? “Survival” may not be all it’s cracked up to be. It is, however, an easy factoid to build an argument on.

    4. ahimsa

      There was a good deal of yammering on the right when these CDC figures came out, along the lines of “ZOMG!!!!! 99%? ”

      It’s worth noting that these are fatality rate, and that 1% of 325 million = 3,250,000, a not insignificant number.

      Lambert, it is also important to note the uneven age distribution of the popultiaon and the very different fatality rates:

      According to the 2019 census figures

      Age 0-19 = 25.1% @ 0.003% => 3 deaths
      Age 20-49 = 39.5% @ 0.02% => 26 deaths
      Age 50-69 = 24.5% @ 0.5% => 398 deaths
      Age 70+ = 11.0% @ 5.4% => 1,930,500 deaths

      1. ahimsa

        Correction (sorry, decimal places!!!)

        Age 0-19 = 25.1% @ 0.003% => 2,447 deaths
        Age 20-49 = 39.5% @ 0.02% => 25,675 deaths
        Age 50-69 = 24.5% @ 0.5% => 398,125 deaths
        Age 70+ = 11.0% @ 5.4% => 1,930,500 deaths

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > And our problem is that “every man for himself” doesn’t work in a pandemic.

      It’s “working” just fine for the rich — as did the opioid epidemic in flyover. You can bet that deaths of despair and falling life expectancy would have been “the big story” if their epicenter had been Manhattan, Seattle, and Los Angeles. Instead, when the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate pointed at those financial, software, and media centers — a fate the globalizers in those cities brought on themselves, too — suddenly there’s an enormous crisis (even though the number of those slaughtered are of the same order of magnitude). “Every man for himself” has been going on for decades, and it didn’t start with Covid.

  2. Samuel Conner

    I’m seeing some hand-wringing about possible state legislature pre-emption of prolonged vote tallies in swing states.

    I don’t know how seriously to take this, given the “boy who cried wolf” media dynamic of recent years, but find it alarming if true.

    Lambert — if you think there is anything to this, would it be possible to annotate that “270 to win” map to indicate the party control of the legislatures of the “grey” states?

    1. Noone from Nowheresville

      By party control do you mean the state executive branch, legislature or state supreme court? Or perhaps the most vocal active piece of the state infrastructure which can make the biggest impact on the final vote tallies?

      Democrats eliminate the Green Party from the ballot here. Republicans challenge the extended deadline of properly postmarked mail-in ballots over there. Voting machine programming issues here. Improper absentee ballots there. More challenges to come where each social club accuses the other of cheating of some sort. Ultimately it reinforces the club’s own privileges. Voting is a privilege, not a right they cry! If it were a right, you might get rid of us and then where would you be.

      1. Samuel Conner


        I agree that the executive branches, and especially the state secretaries of state, can influence outcomes.

        The concern I saw asserted was that swing state legislatures, of which the Rs control more than the Ds (perhaps a legacy of the loss of lower political offices during the Obama years) could in principle (some Federal law was cited) certify a slate of electors of their own choosing. The scenario envisioned was a “red mirage” on election night, DJT demanding the outcome be called promptly, and swing state legislatures obliging.

        I don’t know enough to assess whether this is hyperventilating or a realistic crisis scenario.

        1. voteforno6

          The Constitution leaves it up to the state legislatures to decide how the electoral votes are to be apportioned in their respective states. The thing is, these state legislatures have already done that, with how they’ve set up their elections. To change that after the fact is something that should be laughed out of court. Of course, with the way that the Republicans have been packing the courts with Federalist Society-approved legal “talent,” you never know.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Lambert — if you think there is anything to this, would it be possible to annotate that “270 to win” map to indicate the party control of the legislatures of the “grey” states?

      I can’t do it on that map, no, but I’d be interested in links to the hand-wringing.

  3. lyman alpha blob

    RE: A Theory About Conspiracy Theories NYT

    “In a new study, psychologists tried to get a handle on the personality types that might be prone to outlandish beliefs.”

    So did the psychologists find that people predisposed to believe in conspiracy theories also had dreams of editing/writing for the NYT?

    1. flora

      Lambert’s comment: • Now do mainstream macro.

      Good thing I’d put down my coffee cup before reading that. It nearly cost me a keyboard. ;)

    2. Darthbobber

      Of course a lot of things that are labeled as CT are not outlandish at all. Sometimes so much so that it requires outlandish levels of denial to avoid believing them.

    3. zagonostra

      A belief that the “official story” is in fact a Big Lie, being told by powerful, shadowy interests.

      Why is disbelief in the “official story” labeled a “Big Lie?” From Arlen Specter’s magic bullet to WT7 the official story is a big lie. As Gore Vidal stated, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I’m a conspiracy analyst.

      But personally it’s not the analysis of “personality types” that are prone to believing in the “Big Lie” that is interesting to me, it’s rather how certain topics are verboten in polite society. These topics, like the “deep State” or the Clinton Foundation’s corruption, etc…are just swept under the rug and we are asked to move on to the next ephemera. No atonement, no justice, just the whirlwind and cacophony of chattering charlatans filling the public mind with useless information and propaganda…

  4. Upwithfiat

    “How to Succeed in Private Banking— Bloomberg

    As if banks were truly private and not members of a government-privileged usury cartel who ALONE in the private sector may use the Nation’s fiat in account form.

    Some equal protection under the law, eh?

    1. jalrin

      Private banking in the sense that the article talks about is something different. It is a specific type of bank that provides special services to the ultra-rich. It is dangerous because the bank is making a lot of money off of one person/family’s whims and that creates a lot of temptation to bend/break the rules to cater to them.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        You read the article!

        Adding, I tend to think that “catering” behavior would tend to be adaptive in societies* with a high Gini coefficient.

        NOTE I typed “society’s” when I meant “societies.” There seems to be a rash of Greengrocers’ Apostrophe’s lately, I wonder why?

  5. ChrisAtRU


    From my earlier life in NY …

    There’s a small art gallery in Chelsea, the proprietor of which I became acquainted with thanks to a common watering hole we shared. He had a number of Warhol and Basquiat items in his collection and it was through visits to this gallery that I became a fan. There is a socioeconomic theme that runs through many of Basquiat’s works, and I am totally here for it. Checked out a photo album I have from one of my visits to the gallery in 2008. Snapped a picture of one piece entitled “Rome Pays Off” (just google it in quotes with ‘basquiat’) Not sure if Lambert has seen it in his artbot travels, but the caption I gave my photo was “The mortgage crisis as predicted by Basquiat”.

      1. ChrisAtRU

        Biden (D) (2)


        This “unifying the country” stuff is all well and good, but I still feel sad that death truly robbed us of the chance to see John McCain on Biden’s transition team.


        1. ChrisAtRU

          Sanders (D) (1)

          True, but relevant?

          Yes: Relevant as a response to every donut-emoji account that will be part of the blue-check tsunami ascribing blame in the aftermath of a Biden loss. #BookmarkThatTweet

          No: Enthusiasm is not a transferable thing. No one should expect that the enthusiasm Sanders’ volunteers had for Bernie’s campaign should be transferable to Biden’s. Biden has always had an enthusiasm problem – which to be fair, his campaign does not view as a problem, because they are just fine running a meatsack/potemkin/just-need-his-corporeal-presence campaign.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I too would have said “relevant-yes” because if the presence or absence of that GOTV effort means the difference between Joemala Barris winning or losing, and the Sanderistas have no reason to try bothering to set up that GOTV effort, Joemala Barris won’t win.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              If Biden wins, he will have created a new template for Presidential campaigns:

              1) Demonize the other enough, and you can

              2) See as few voters as possible, and

              3) Make as few policy promises as possible

              I’m not sanguine about this at all.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > This “unifying the country” stuff is all well and good, but I still feel sad that death truly robbed us of the chance to see John McCain on Biden’s transition team.


  6. Henry Moon Pie

    HR overlords–

    Great piece worth reading in full. This was interesting:

    When we hear the righteous indignation of middle-class young women, lecturing soldiers for cleaning graffiti off the Cenotaph that they are furthering a system of structural racism or whatever, we hear the nasal tones of the future managerial class asserting itself, drunk with its own power. Imagine the sound of a passive-aggressive email from HR plinking into your inbox, forever: that is the sound of ideology taking the helm of the state.

    My reaction to this piece and Studebaker’s essay from this morning’s Links is that they’re focused too much on class and even power. There’s no question that the class in power wants to use Althusser’s Ideological State Appartus institutions to tackle the problem of control, but there’s an independent process taking place as well.

    This HR impulse is resident in both Roussinos’s indignant women and Studebaker’s struggling Pro wannabes not only because the technocrats want it there but also because the Cancel Culturettes have a desperate need to belong to something, and the creation of one shibboleth after another is one very poor but easy way to cement group solidarity.

    Solidarity is an elusive thing in our society as surely any of us on the Left must recognize. Our culture has done a pretty good job of degrading whatever genetic and ancient cultural support we had for things like empathy and mutual support. So while Roussinos concentrates on the interpellative effects, he neglects another important motivation for the employment of these shibboleths: to increase group solidarity and the individual’s feeling of belonging. That means that anyone proposing to get rid of Cancel Culture insanity better have some ideas about how to replace the function performed by this behavior or otherwise alleviate the need for it.

    1. pjay

      “There’s no question that the class in power wants to use Althusser’s Ideological State Appartus institutions to tackle the problem of control, but there’s an independent process taking place as well.”

      I also thought this piece and the Studebaker article were interesting and complementary. Your point is a good one, though I’m not sure I’d call them “independent” processes. It’s been a while (quite a while), but I remember the Althusserian political theorist Nicos Poulantzas used the term “*relative* autonomy” to indicate that, while these cultural and political institutions did have their own logic and histories, they evolved in a way that reproduced the class system as a whole. Thus all sorts of “critical” or “radical” groups might develop to provide individuals with community, identity, and meaning, and even express themselves in opposition to “the system.” But only to the extent that they did not actually *threaten* the capitalist class structure. Today’s “identity politics” is a great example – providing community and meaning while undermining *class* solidarity. Ironically, I thought the dense academic theorizing of French structural Marxism was, too. But the latter provided some very useful concepts, like those discussed here.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Today’s “identity politics” is a great example – providing community and meaning while undermining *class* solidarity. Ironically,

        The World Economic Forum home page looks like this for a reason:

        I too was surprised to see Althusser re-emerge (given his odd personal history, even if that should not really count against his work). Piketty is, I think, going in a similar direction with his notion of an “ineqality regime” — I’m sure there’s something performing the same function as ISAs (a lot like Flexians; perhaps the “I” makes such people uniquely capable of moving so easily between state and civil society).

    2. jr

      “…because the Cancel Culturettes have a desperate need to belong to something, and the creation of one shibboleth after another is one very poor but easy way to cement group solidarity…”

      This jives with some thoughts and impressions I’ve picked up on from the PMCs in my neighborhood concerning the election. It’s more than just getting more blue ties in the government. It’s a little more elemental than that. There is a desperate need to think that something, anything still works in their political world. That’s a lot of existential dread for the socio-economic Kens and Barbies of the world to shoulder. Trump trampled their mental flower gardens but good. Shibboleths give a sugar-pop rush of solidarity and also something to claw and squeal at in a world that’s becoming a ghost of itself.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > There is a desperate need to think that something, anything still works in their political world. That’s a lot of existential dread for the socio-economic Kens and Barbies of the world to shoulder.

        The existential position of the PMC is fear (I keep pushing this article, “Predatory Precarity” but that’s because it’s good.)

        Hence, as a class, their susceptibility to moral panic and classlighting, etc. Hence also the quest for an authority figure.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      A proper revulsion for the exploitation of Identy Politics to preserve Upper Class Power has blinded many leftists to the parallel fact that EthnoCulture Tribalegious Identy is a real thing binding real groups of real people. In fact, inherited forms of traditional Identy are stronger and realer than the recent artificial evolution of Class Identy in today’s desperately overpopulated overdeveloped civilizations.

      Both forms of identy are real , like rings AND rays visible in a cut-off tree stump.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          Just responding for myself, I see work and class as particular instances of more general relationships: human–Earth/Cosmos; human–human; human–other living creatures. Work and class involve all those relationships, but are instances limited both temporally (occurs when capitalism holds sway) and circumstantially (humans have many relationships outside of work, or at least they used to).

          Put another way, work and class are essential analytical tools in a circumstance dominated by capitalism, but they’re likely to be less useful when trying to look to a time beyond capitalism.

      1. Mao "No Landlords Now" Zedong

        the parallel fact that EthnoCulture Tribalegious Identy is a real thing binding real groups of real people.

        No it’s not.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > So while Roussinos concentrates on the interpellative effects, he neglects another important motivation for the employment of these shibboleths: to increase group solidarity and the individual’s feeling of belonging.

      Dogpiling feels good to the dogs; it’s comfy and warm, and all the other dogs are doing it with you (as an act of collective predation, of course).

  7. Stephen V.

    Wait. Wait. Where’s the info about the Live Thread for tonight’s debate? But it could very well be that I’ve been sucking too much of that Martian pond water…Sounds a good beginning to a drinking game.

  8. Ed

    Re: Messed-up absentee ballots in NY City:

    I live in Queens County, NY City and received my absentee ballot yesterday. Everything was correct on it.

    1. Big River Bandido

      I received my absentee ballot for the NYS primary in the mail — on the day after the election.

    2. edmondo

      The NYC election workers must have forgotten this wasn’t the Democratic primary. There’s no reason to screw up the ballots.

  9. Angie Neer

    Re the plant photo, which is great, isn’t symbiosis a mutually beneficial relationship? The plant seems to be doing all the giving and the only thing it gets is eaten.

  10. Etrugan

    Happened to us. Wait did they outsource the ballot distribution to a PRINTshop?? What the hell kind of mail merge software are they going to use that is up to the challenge of a database like that??

  11. ambrit

    If I was a dyed in the wool Republican who watched the “West Wing,” I’d most assuredly root for the villains, (not, note, the ‘villeins.’)

  12. Dr Robert

    Nagorno-Karabakh is in a state of full-scale war with hubdreds of casualties on both sides. Aliyev of Azerbaijan has launched the offensive with Turkish help and Armenia has completely mobilized for war. This is the most intense conflict in the region for years, and could threaten to drag Russia and Turkey into conflict.

    1. David

      Those with long memories will recall that we have been here before. Thirty years ago in fact. There was a brief period, between about the end of 1989 and the end of 1990, when the more naive believed that peace had broken out, and there would be no war any more. After all, the Cold War was the source of all instability in the world, wasn’t it? Even before the fighting in the Former Yugoslavia, which brought a rapid end to such fantasies, the conflict in NKB was a harbinger of what was to come.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        “the more naive believed that peace had broken out”

        Sam Huntington would definitely not be included in that group.

  13. Roquentin

    ” It’s worth noting that these are fatality rate, and that 1% of 325 million = 3,250,000, a not insignificant number.”

    I get the spirit of what you are saying, but your math is off, plain and simple, and the pedant in me can’t let it go.

    The survival rates are as follows. It’s not 1% of 325 million its:

    Age 0-19 — 99.997% = .003%
    Age 20-49 — 99.98% = .02%
    Age 50-69 — 99.5% = .5%
    Age 70+ — 94.6% = 5.4%

    I haven’t dug up enough statistics to try and do some kind of weighted average based on how much of the population falls into each category, but most of these are clearly a great deal less than 1%, particularly for anyone over 50 (which is instead, significantly worse). I get what you meant, but it’s really sloppy, pretty blatant distortion of the data to do that.

    I even took the step of trying to get census data which was bracketed that way but they aren’t placed into the same boundaries as the CDC data and I don’t have time for math any fancier than that.


    1. The Historian

      This still gives a false picture of the disease if you don’t count the long haulers – those people who are experiencing debilitating symptoms long after they’ve had the disease – doesn’t it? I’ve seen estimates of between 35% and 65% of Covid cases turn into long haulers, and my doctor says, based on her practice, that the number is closer to the 65% mark. And long haulers range from children to the elderly – so it can affect anyone.

      So, yea, you might not die, but there may be more than a 50% chance that you won’t get your life back. Doesn’t that also matter?

      1. Roquenting

        Of course it does, but those aren’t statistics we were given. Either you want to give accurate numbers or you don’t. There’s no need to try and artificially inflate them, they’re plenty bad on their own.

    2. Tom Doak

      Yes, the data aren’t great, but you are correct that only 13% of the population is 65 and over, where most of the deaths come from.

      Using some sloppy estimates for the 20-49 and 50-69 population, I came up with an overall fatality rate of 0.68 percent, with the over-70’s accounting for nearly 80% of the deaths.

      In real terms, that’s about 1.75 million elderly, and 400,000 others . . . still not good!

      1. Roquentin

        I agree, still not good, but significantly lower than the number he used. You could even make the case that simply saying 1% understates just how devastating this will be to people over 70 (5.4% is very, very high).

    3. Philip Cross

      Wikipedia lists this US age structure:

      Under 18 years 24.0% (2010) (.00072)
      18–44 years 36.5% (2010) (.0073)
      45–64 years 26.5% (2010) (.132)
      65 and over 13.0% (2010) (.702)

      If your numbers and their numbers are correct, that would work out at ~2.7m out of 325m. A not insignificant number.

  14. Dalepues

    Mexican petunias! I have a large patch in my back yard. Butterflies, bumblebees, and humming birds visit them all day, or until the heat causes the flowers to fall off.

  15. Darthbobber

    Stop republicans, like its parent, Progressive Turnout Project, is at least on the edge of being a scamPAC. According to open secrets, they have contributed zero dollars to candidates for federal office, money sent there being used to fund more of the same hysteria, and defray those administrative costs (like the salaries of those involved).

  16. Darthbobber

    Will probably vote tomorrow in Philly. The county has 6 satellite offices open besides the downtown one as of today. More being added later. At these you can register if necessary, apply for the ballot, receive it, fill it out and hand it back in in the same visit. Which obviates any issues with the USPS.

    Also gets you out of using our crappy and time-consuming touch screen devices, with election day voting.

  17. BoyDownTheLane

    Restaurant patio heaters have been in the form of fire pits for some time now. The restaurant could sell logo-embroidered Eskimo suits with macrame masks and six-foot tasting spoons for the table-center fondue pot. Folks could take turns feeding each other.

    1. edmondo

      I believe that Trump spent a couple of billion dollars on ventilators that no one needed. Can we plug them in and push them next to the tables? Not only a warm hum from the machinery but practical in case you catch CV-19 from your server.

  18. Greg

    “As Predicted, Google’s Search Preference Menu Eliminates DuckDuckGo”

    Unfortunately DDG eliminated themselves from my search options recently, by making apple maps exclusive to their map search. Although apple maps has become a lot better for the actual map image, and ironed out the horrorshow bugs they launched with, it’s still utterly useless for place-names outside urban centres or that aren’t obviously english. Maps without names are just not functional.
    No idea why DDG went apple maps exclusive, but I assume its money related – given DDG don’t charge for their services, someone must be paying them.

  19. ChrisPacific

    Australian birds are said to be raucous…

    That’s Australians.

    (Some of the birds are as well, but not all of them).

    1. Wukchumni

      Said Aussie bird was in NZ and the call seemed to be repetition of ‘family blog it’ over & over, Maybe it’s a Tourettes Shoveler?

  20. Henry Moon Pie

    Another little data point–

    At around 4:45, a little over four hours before the debate, six young white people, dressed in classic black bloc attire, walked past my house. We’re a little less than 3 miles from where the debate will take place. I can guarantee they did not originate in this neighborhood.

    If I’d had real pants on, I would have run out the door to see what I could learn about what in the world they’re doing walking down this street.

    1. bob

      Please define “dressed in classic black bloc attire”. My worst caricature of that would leave very little room to determine “whiteness”

  21. Riverboat Grambler

    I assume I’m not the only one who can’t escape Obama’s ad constantly intoning “Do not let them take away your power. Do not let them take away your democracy.”

    Unless you live in WI and were planning on voting Green, in which case we’ve already done that. Pretty bold strategy* to expand “where else are they gonna go?” beyond your own voter base. I’m sure those disenfranchised Greens will run right into Biden’s arms.


    1. Arizona Slim

      Whenever I see those ads, I give my phone a real talking-to. I rant and rave at it about Obama’s taking away habeas corpus. And other things that are not printable on this family blog.

  22. Cuibono

    3,250,000 people? Is that all? I mean we are shutting down my ability to stand cheek to jowl in a bar spewing my beer flecked spit all over my neighbors for a lousy 3,250,000 ???

  23. The Rev Kev

    “Biden Will Restore America’s Moral Leadership”

    ‘Imagine a President determined to do something about the destruction of democracy.’

    Considering Biden’s track record, it can only be to complete it.

    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      But don’t they feel that risk IS ruin? After all, they live on the far side of the mountain of “When you ain’t got nothin’, you ain’t got nothin’ to lose” . . . in the land of supreme distaste for any kind of turmoil — because, as a leading member of the Committee to Un-Elect the Patrician pointed out, “Turmoil is hard to steer.”

  24. Andrew Thomas

    I cannot find anything in any coverage of Trump’s taxes that reference the payment by Trump of $25 million as an alternative minimum tax- even in the pro-Trump press I have access to. Where did this figure come from?

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