2:00PM Water Cooler 10/16/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Might as well end the week on a note of song


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:

Unmistakable rise in all regions now, including the Northeast. Ugh. Super-ugh. Gonna be interesting to see what happens if the virus is really cranking in November or December, and the FDA says a vaccine is ready…

“U.S. Virus Cases Climb Toward a Third Peak” [New York Times]. • From earlier this week, but readers who follow these charts will remember that I’ve been remarking on this, in my quiet way, since the curves first turned upwards.

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

Unmistakable rise everywhere. Including Texas, in the past few days.


College: “Off-campus “super-spreader” event linked to 125 virus cases at Monmouth University” [CBS]. “Through extensive contact tracing, the rise in cases was linked to a single event held about two weeks ago, Monmouth president Patrick Leahy wrote Friday. This event was held off-campus, although school officials did not specify what kind of event it was, only calling it a ‘social gathering.'” • Which is ridiculous, since now we cannot add to our store of types of locations or social settings to avoid! College administrators are just the worst.


“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. September 30: Iowa moves from Leans Republican to Toss-up. October 3: Indiana moves from Safe to Likely Republican; Iowa moves from Toss-up to Leans Republican. October 6: Arizona moves from Toss-up to Leans Democratic; Iowa from Leans Republican to Toss-up; Indiana from Likely to Safe Republican; New Mexico from Likely to Safe Democratic. October 8: NE-2 moves from Toss-up to Leans Democratic. October 13: Indiana moves from Likely to Safe Republican. October 16: Indiana moves from Safe to Likely Republican.I would say the election is no longer static.

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.

“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…).

“2020 General Election Early Vote Statistics” [U.S. Election Project].

“California Ballots Mailed and Returned Tracker” [Political Data]. • California only, sadly.

NEW “Where’s My Ballot?” [Alex Padilla]. “Tracking your vote-by-mail ballot—when it is mailed, received, and counted—has never been easier. The California Secretary of State is now offering Where’s My Ballot?—a new way for voters to track and receive notifications on the status of their vote-by-mail ballot. Powered by BallotTrax, Where’s My Ballot? lets voters know where their ballot is, and its status, every step of the way.” • Ballottrax. Shoulda gone long….

“State Fact Sheets” [Georgetown Universitty]. “[F]act sheets for all 50 states explaining the laws barring unauthorized private militia groups and what to do if groups of armed individuals are near a polling place or voter registration drive.”

All the deadlines, rules, and voting hours to know when casting your ballot in the 2020 presidential election” [Business Insider]. “Here are 12 interactive graphics, charts, and maps Insider created to answer your most common questions about voting in 2020.”


Swing States

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) (oil and gas royalties; 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)

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!

“Trump, Biden shower ad money on Phoenix, Philadelphia, Florida’s I-4 corridor in final stretch [USA Today]. “Biden outspent Trump 2-to-1 on television ads in North Carolina and Florida, 3-to-1 in Michigan and 4-to-1 in Pennsylvania, according to Advertising Analytics…. Ground zero this year is a handful of crucial television markets in Florida, Arizona and Pennsylvania. Florida is the biggest ad magnet. The tipping point of the perennial swing state runs along Interstate 4 from Tampa to Orlando, a belt that holds pockets of elderly voters, suburban women, Latinos, military service members – each among the demographic slices targeted to win the presidential race.”

CO: “Colorado reports ‘bonkers’ increase of 2,400 percent in early voting” [The Hill]. “More than 300,000 Colorado voters have already cast their ballots for the Nov. 3 elections, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced Thursday. Griswold announced the news in a tweet, adding that this number was ’24 times more than at this point in 2016.’… The numbers from the secretary of state’s office also indicated a gap in early voting between Republicans and Democrats in the state. Of those who had voted by Wednesday evening, 46 percent were registered Democrats, although voter registration data shows that they make up only 30 percent of registered voters in the state.”

FL: “The fight for Florida may hinge on senior voters” [CNN]. “The fight for the senior vote is punctuated by the fact that Trump, 74, and Biden, 77, are jockeying for support among their own peers. Nearly one in four eligible voters this fall are 65 and older, according to estimates from the Pew Research Group, which is the highest in more than four decades. And considering seniors are far more disciplined about voting than their children or grandchildren, the voting bloc is even more critical to win over…. Once again in Florida, signs of an exceedingly tight race are plentiful, with passionate support for Trump on display from flagpoles to front yards. Trump admirers say they are more driven than ever to help reelect the President, who they say is being unfairly blamed for the coronavirus. ‘It’s absolutely ridiculous,’ said Ann Aleksinas, 80, who stopped to chat as she carried her library book along the shopping district of Vero Beach. ‘It’s a pandemic that’s all over the world, it has nothing to do with President Trump. He’s done his very, very best to protect the American people.’

She said she does not believe seniors will abandon Trump, declaring: ‘They’ve been around the world a few more times. They can see what’s going on.’ A question holding a critical piece to the November puzzle is just how many Trump supporters from 2016 have soured on the President. Trump campaign aides say it is only a sliver of his supporters and point to major voter registration gains among Republicans to close any gap.” • I’ve seen the argument that I’d rather be ahead in the polls than registration. But that assumes the pols aren’t gamed or, more subtly, Frank’s “airtight consensus” in the elites turning every poll into a push poll. (I left out the quote from the CNN reporter who questioned Democrat door-knockers about what Seniors were thinking. Come on.)

MI: “Michigan bans open carry of guns inside and near polling places” [Detroit News]. “Michigan is prohibiting the open carry of guns within 100 feet of polling places amid fears of voter intimidation during the pivotal Nov. 3 election, prompting criticism and the possibility a lawsuit from Second Amendment advocates. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson sent guidance to local election officials on Friday — 18 days before Election Day — to clarify that the open carry of firearms on Election Day in polling places, clerk’s offices and absent voter counting boards is banned. ‘The presence of firearms at the polling place, clerk’s office(s), or absent voter counting board may cause disruption, fear or intimidation for voters, election workers and others present,’ the new guidance says.”

PA: “Pa. has rejected 372,000 ballot applications — most of them duplicates — bewildering voters and straining officials” [Inquirer]. “Pennsylvania has rejected 372,000 requests for mail ballots, straining election offices and bewildering voters in one of the most hotly contested battlegrounds in the presidential election…. More than 90% of those applications, or about 336,000, were denied as duplicates, primarily because people who had requested mail ballots for the state’s June 2 primary did not realize they had checked a box to be sent ballots for the general election, too. Voters have also been baffled by unclear or inaccurate information on the state’s ballot-tracking website, and by a wave of mail ballot applications from political parties and get-out-the-vote groups. County offices across the state have been forced to hire temporary staff and work seven days a week to cope with the confusion…. Though it may deter some people from voting, the mass rejection of ballot applications is unlikely to have a big effect on turnout. Voters who submitted duplicate applications should eventually receive a ballot. Those who don’t can still vote at the polls on Election Day.”

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UPDATE Biden (D)(1): “Biden says crime bill was a ‘mistake’ during ABC town hall” [The Hill]. • That’s the headline the editor wrote. But (1):

A member of Biden’s campaign later took to Twitter to clarify that Biden was speaking of a 1986 crime bill that included mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses.

VP Biden was talking about the ’86 crime bill – that’s the one that included mandatory minimums for drug offenses (in fact, the 1994 crime bill did not), which was what VP and George were discussing. https://t.co/Me7UOcQ1wR

— Stef Feldman (@StefFeldman) October 16, 2020

Biden’s support for the 1994 crime bill during his tenure as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has drawn criticism over the course of his presidential campaign.

Oh. But (2), what Biden said. The transcript;

George Stephanopoulus: (32:49): In the meantime, an awful lot of people were jailed for minor drug crimes after the Crime Bill.

Joe Biden: (32:53) Right.

George Stephanopoulus: (32:54) Was it a mistake to support it?

Joe Biden: (32:55)

Yes, it was. But here’s where the mistake. The mistake came in terms of what the states did locally.

To their credit, the Hill reporter reported this correctly. But not the editor who wrote the headline. (And how the heck does Biden get to escape responsbility for drafting a bill where the states and localities would undo, presumably, the goals of his legislation?

UPDATE Biden (D)(2):

“A vote does not equal support” seems like an odd theory of democracy.

Buttigieg (D)(1): West Wing Brain:

Can’t do brunch if you’re feeling pressure! (Sad to say, I think a lot of voters find this pitch appealing; it’s connected to the liberal Democrat thirst for decorum.)

Trump (R)(1): “Trump rages at allies as potential October surprises fizzle” [CNN]. I’m not a mind-reader so I’ll leave the emotion out of it. Nevertheless: “The developments he not-so-secretly hoped might resuscitate his political chances — from a pre-election coronavirus vaccine to a damning trove of Justice Department findings to a massive new stimulus package complete with another round of checks emblazoned with his signature — have all faded in likelihood.” • Yep. “Once optimistic he could use the powers of his office to coerce well-timed wins, Trump now finds his efforts running up against political headwinds, regulatory burdens and plain reality. He is days away from reaching the last feasible point in his administration when promising something in “two weeks” will improve his electoral chances.”

UPDATE Trump (R)(2): “Last Exit From Autocracy” [David Frum, The Atlantic]. “Americans have lavished enormous powers on the presidency. They have also sought to bind those powers by law. Yet the Founders of the republic understood that law alone could never eliminate the risks inherent in the power of the presidency. They worried ceaselessly about the prospect of a truly bad man in the office—a Caesar or a Cromwell, as Alexander Hamilton fretted in “Federalist No. 21.” They built restraints: a complicated system for choosing the president, a Congress to constrain him, impeachment to remove him. Their solutions worked for two and a half centuries. In our time, the system failed. Through the Trump years, institutions have failed again and again to check corruption, abuse of power, and even pro-Trump violence.” • I think the system failed, at the very latest, in 2000 with Bush v. Gore — that is, in the administration in which David Frum, war criminal, served. See e.g. the New York Tinmes “Unchecked and Unbalanced“:

In fact, as this important book, “Unchecked and Unbalanced,” points out, the Bush White House has repeatedly sought to expand its powers, often doing so in secret, while sidelining both Congress and the judiciary. President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without obtaining a court order on calls and e-mail messages sent from the United States to other countries. He has issued a steady stream of signing statements, signaling his intent not to comply with more than 750 provisions of laws concerning national security and disclosure, most notably one that questioned Congress’s authority to limit coercive interrogation tactics. And the administration has claimed that the president’s war powers give him the authority to detain people indefinitely and deny them access to lawyers and the courts, a policy that it would later be forced to modify in response to legal challenges.

I remember making the argument at the time — and I wasn’t the only one — that, as above, Bush had arrogated executive, legislative, and judicial powers to himself, which Madison pronounced “the very definition of tyranny.” Frum was not merely a witness to, but a participant in, that process. Either Frum has the memory of a goldfish, or Frum is — hold onto your hats here, folks — completely unprincipled and incapable of self-reflection. Odd, for A Hero of The Resistance™, but here we are. It does make you wonder if Biden is quite the shovel to dig us out of the fascist cesspit that liberal Democrats seem to think he is.

Trump (R)(3): “Why They Loved Him” [New York Times]. “There is little doubt that Mr. Trump is president today because of blue-collar people like Tim who were once a reliable pillar of the Democratic Party. About 55 percent of voters who expected to support Mr. Trump during the 2016 primaries identified as working class, according to a 2015 study by the Public Religion Research Institute. Fewer than a third who backed other Republican candidates identified as such.” • Note that’s not the general, and in fact on average, Trump voters were wealthier than other Americans. That in no way contradicts a thesis that working class voters, at the margin, gave Trump the victory. (Of course, the Democrat base is becoming increasingly wealthier, and at some point in the not-too-distanct future, they will be, and be seen as, the party of oligarchy. Quite a switch!)

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“Review: ‘The West Wing’ reunion brings the fight to Trump. And it doesn’t even name him” [Los Angeles Times]. “Just after midnight Thursday, less than a month from election day, and with voting already underway across the country, HBO Max began streaming “A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote,” a splendidly executed restaging of an old episode in support of Michelle Obama’s nonpartisan, nonprofit group dedicated to getting people to the polls.” • For those who are not already familiar with it, “West Wing Thing” is the podcast to listen to. It’s… acerbic, and many listeners haven’t even watched the show, so you don’t need to.

SC: Well known UI problem butchered by touch-screen vendor:

Needless to say, this doesn’t happen with paper ballots.

Obama Legacy

NY: “Ray McGuire to leave Citigroup to run for mayor of New York” [CNBC]. “Valerie Jarrett, a longtime close advisor to former President Barack Obama, will act as co-chair of McGuire’s campaign, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.” • Who doesn’t love a [x] Black banker?

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE Ritual gestures of fealty:

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.

Retail: “Headline Retail Sales Again Improves in September 2020 – Almost Like The Pandemic Never Occurred” [Econintersect]. “Retail sales modestly improved according to US Census headline data. The three-month rolling average improved. There seems little overall impact from the coronavirus.” • (!!).

Retail: “U.S. Retail Spending Picked Up Strongly in September” [Wall Street Journal]. “Retail sales increased in September for the fifth month in a row, as consumers prepared for further months of working and studying from home by spending strongly on vehicles, sporting goods and at home-improvement stores. ‘Consumers are playing catch-up’ on spending, buying things that they didn’t purchase in the spring, said Calvin Schnure, senior economist at Nareit, a trade group that represents real-estate investment trusts. Friday’s report ‘shows that the consumer recovery remains on track as we head into the holiday season.'”

Inventories: “August 2020 Business Inventories Marginally Grow” [Econintersect]. “Headlines say final business sales data (retail plus wholesale plus manufacturing) improved month-over-month. The rolling averages improved. Inventories remain somewhat elevated.”

Industrial Production: “September 2020 Headline Industrial Production Declines And Remains In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say seasonally adjusted Industrial Production (IP) declined month-over-month – and remains deep in contraction year-over-year. Our analysis shows the three-month rolling average improved…, Note that manufacturing is in contraction year-over-year – but capacity utilization is in expansion year-over-year.”

Consumer Sentiment: “Preliminary October 2020 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Improves” [Econintersect]. “Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin, makes the following comments: Slowing employment growth, the resurgence in covid-19 infections, and the absence of additional federal relief payments prompted consumers to become more concerned about the current economic conditions. Those concerns were largely offset by continued small gains in economic prospects for the year ahead. The Current Conditions Index recorded its second small reversal, the first being in June, but even at its best, it has never come close to its December peak, being still down by 26.5%.”

Leading Indicators: “09 October 2020 ECRI’s WLI Marginally Improved” [Econintersect]. “ECRI’s WLI Growth Index which forecasts economic growth six months forward marginally improved and remains in expansion…. In theory, this index is now indicating that in the second or third quarter of 2021 the economy should be in expansion year-over-year.”

* * *

Shipping: “Vast majority of air cargo companies are unprepared to transport Covid-19 vaccines” [STAT]. “As much of the world focuses on vaccine development to alleviate the pandemic, a new survey finds that just 28% of the air cargo companies that will play the highly crucial, behind-the-scenes role of transporting Covid-19 vaccines far and wide feel prepared for the job. At the same time, 19% of these companies report that they feel “very unprepared.” And only 54% of airfreight providers currently have some of the necessary equipment for handling vaccines, according to the survey, which was conducted by the International Air Cargo Association and Pharma.Aero, an organization of air cargo carriers that specialize in shipping pharmaceuticals.” • I can’t read farther than the paywall, but I would not expect all shipping companies to be able to handle refrigeration; the real issue is capacity.

Shipping: Destruction, presumably creative:

Travel: “New jets promise to revive supersonic travel” [BBC]. “Nearly two decades later the world is edging closer to again having passenger jets that can fly faster than the speed of sound. This month, Boom Supersonic rolled out its XB-1 supersonic test plane. It’s the first civilian supersonic aircraft since the Soviet Union’s Tupolev TU-144 in 1968. The skinny, sharply-pointed machine will allow Boom to confirm aspects of the design of its proposed Overture, a much more elegant delta-winged project that echoes Concorde. Overture is intended to carry between 65 and 88 passengers across oceanic routes, sparing human populations the supersonic boom generated by its Mach 2.2 speed. NASA has a more outlandish test aircraft in the wings, the spindly X-59. This will fly in 2022, chasing the prize of sustained supersonic flight overland. This means finding ways to eliminate, or at least mitigate, the supersonic boom. Then there’s Aerion, claiming its AS2 design will offer civil supersonic flight by the end of the decade. But with just 8-10 passengers the AS2 is aimed at an entirely new market, that for supersonic business travel.” • I think we should be slowing business travel down, not speeding it up…

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 57 Greed (previous close: 56 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 15 at 11:55am

The Biosphere

“Prioritizing where to restore Earth’s ecosystems” [Nature]. “Ecosystem-restoration targets already feature prominently in global and national policy frameworks aimed at limiting ongoing biodiversity loss and climate change. These targets are set mainly in terms of the total area or percentage of land to be restored. But how can this restoration effort be best distributed spatially to maximize benefits for both biodiversity conservation and efforts to tackle climate change?… Strassburg and colleagues confront this daunting prioritization challenge head-on using a new multicriteria approach based on a mathematical technique called linear programming. This enabled them to optimize restoration outcomes that balance the benefits for biodiversity and climate-change mitigation, and the associated costs, in a variety of ways. The authors carried out their analysis using state-of-the-art data sets that describe the spatial distribution of: ecosystem types expected in the absence of major human activity; current land uses; the potential for carbon sequestration by living and dead organic matter; habitats of vertebrate species; and expected restoration costs. Strassburg et al. show that the benefits and costs of restoring a given total area of land depend very much on where this restoration is undertaken. Prioritizing the spatial distribution of restoration using a single criterion of benefit or cost generally performs poorly in achieving desirable outcomes for the other criteria. For example, restoring 15% of the world’s converted lands by focusing solely on maximizing benefits for climate-change mitigation would achieve only 65% of the gains potentially achievable for biodiversity (assessed as the resulting reduction in risk of species extinctions) if the restoration focused instead on maximizing biodiversity benefits. optimizing for all three criteria simultaneously yields a solution that would achieve 91% and 82% of potential gains for biodiversity and climate-change mitigation, respectively, while maximizing cost-effectiveness.” • Do we have any linear programming mavens in the commentariat?

Health Care

“Living with Covid19” [National Institute for Health Research]. “There is a widespread perception that people either die, get admitted to hospital or recover after two weeks. It is increasingly clear that for some people there is a distinct pathway of ongoing effects. … A major obstacle is the lack of consensus on diagnostic criteria for ongoing Covid19. … The fluctuating and multisystem symptoms need to be acknowledged. A common theme is that symptoms arise in one physiological system then abate only for symptoms to arise in a different system. There are significant psychological and social impacts that will have long-term consequences for individuals and for society if not well managed. The multisystem nature of ongoing Covid19 means that it needs to be considered holistically.” • Our health system does “holistic” really well, so not to worry.

“‘Long Covid’ symptoms can last for month” [Financial Times]. “Covid-19 has left many patients with debilitating, varied symptoms months after the initial infection has cleared, raising fears about the long-term health costs of the pandemic…. ‘A common theme is that symptoms arise in one physiological system then abate, only for symptoms to arise in a different system,’ the NIHR [above] report said. … A study in Italy found that 87 per cent of people discharged from a Rome hospital were still experiencing at least one symptom two months after the onset of Covid-19. At least 55 per cent had three or more symptoms including fatigue, breathing difficulties and pain in joints and chest.”

“Resources” [Long Covid Support]. • A links page.

“Scientists discover genetic and immunologic underpinnings of some cases of severe COVID-19” [National Institutes of Health]. “New findings by scientists at the National Institutes of Health and their collaborators help explain why some people with COVID-19 develop severe disease. The findings also may provide the first molecular explanation for why more men than women die from COVID-19. The researchers found that more than 10% of people who develop severe COVID-19 have misguided antibodies―autoantibodies―that attack the immune system rather than the virus that causes the disease. Another 3.5% or more of people who develop severe COVID-19 carry a specific kind of genetic mutation that impacts immunity. Consequently, both groups lack effective immune responses that depend on type I interferon, a set of 17 proteins crucial for protecting cells and the body from viruses. Whether these proteins have been neutralized by autoantibodies or―because of a faulty gene―were produced in insufficient amounts or induced an inadequate antiviral response, their absence appears to be a commonality among a subgroup of people who suffer from life-threatening COVID-19 pneumonia.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Happy John Brown Day!

Guillotine Watch

“In Bay Village, Someone Called Cops on a Sleeping Homeless Person. It was a Statue of Jesus.” [Cleveland Scene]. “Twenty minutes after a “homeless Jesus” sculpture was installed on the grounds of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Bay Village, someone called the cops. Created by Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz, the sculpture depicts Jesus as a homeless person lying on a bench covered in a blanket. It was purchased by the local Community West Foundation and has been traveling to churches and other religious organizations across the region since October, 2018.” Now, to be fair: “Bay Village police chief Kathy Leasure confirmed the Oct. 12 call to Scene and said that the caller had advised police dispatch that they were unsure if the homeless individual was a human being or a statue.” • But… perhaps approach the figure closely enough to tell?

Class Warfare

“Why Is So Much Redistribution In-Kind and Not in Cash? Evidence from a Survey Experiment” [SSRN]. From the abstract: “Our survey experiment offers a large, demographically representative sample of respondents a hypothetical choice between a cash transfer and a transfer that can only be spent on a bundle of “necessities.” We make three main points. First, survey respondents overwhelmingly preferred in-kind over cash transfers to the poor. The most important reason for this choice is paternalism: the belief that the poor will not spend cash on the right things. The preference for in-kind was common to a majority of virtually all segments of the general population, though not to a sample of intellectual elites. Second, stated preferences suggest that respondents are willing to redistribute considerably more in-kind than in cash. We also surveyed the poor, who preferred receiving cash, but not as strongly as the general population preferred redistributing in-kind. The modesty of this preference among the poor in part comes from a sizable minority that preferred in-kind redistribution, which many anticipated functioning as a self-control mechanism. Third, a randomized treatment explaining the value of choice significantly increased the preference for cash over in-kind, but it did not change the overall preference for in-kind.”

Surprise, unemployed people manage their money. Thread:

“It’s no wonder hundreds of millions have been spent on Prop. 22. A lot is at stake” [Los Angeles Times]. “California has never seen anything like this. Nor has any state — a record $200 million spent on a single ballot measure…. It’s Proposition 22, a ballot initiative bankrolled by Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and the like to override a new state law that requires their ride-hailing and delivery drivers to be classified as employees rather than independent contractors. If the drivers are reclassified as employees, their pay and benefits would increase. But the app-based gig companies say there’d be far fewer jobs because customer fares would rise and demand for rides would fall. The companies probably couldn’t even operate in California, they say.” • So, they should go. We did fine without them, and they’re parasites anyhow, as Huber Horan has exhaustively shown.

News of the Wired

“He Married a Sociopath: Me” [New York Times]. “Outside of my family, my loyalty to the truth is what has enabled me to connect with other people. As a doctor who specializes in the research of sociopathy, I prize credibility and integrity as my greatest asset.” • Interesting article.

“First room-temperature superconductor excites — and baffles — scientists” [Nature]. “Scientists have created a mystery material that seems to conduct electricity without any resistance at temperatures of up to about 15 °C. That’s a new record for superconductivity, a phenomenon usually associated with very cold temperatures. The material itself is poorly understood, but it shows the potential of a class of superconductors discovered in 2015. The superconductor has one serious limitation, however: it survives only under extremely high pressures, approaching those at the centre of Earth, meaning that it will not have any immediate practical applications. Still, physicists hope it could pave the way for the development of zero-resistance materials that can function at lower pressures.” • Dang!

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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 (CM):

CM writes again on primroses: “I think the dramatic differences in height are due to competition for sun. But their growth also seems to be erratic. And there is one rosette in that photo (foreground) that has produced no stalks, pods or blooms whatever — biennial feature?”

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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. Clem

    California has never seen anything like this. Nor has any state — a record $200 million spent on a single ballot measure…

    This ballot is full of strange twists, like Prop 22, to approve employee slavery basically, then there’s Prop 16, to reinstitutute and codify racism in public hiring, there’s Prop 23, the dialysis industries attempt to destroy competitition. It never ends.

    1. fwe'zy

      Prop 23 is opposed by the dialysis industry, because it raises standards and preventative measures around infection … thereby raising costs for the corporate chains.

    2. Adam Eran

      And 22 is opposed by Uber & Lyft because it makes gig workers into employees.

      Oh yes, and 16 makes affirmative action (AKA remedial racism) once again possible.

      Don’t forget 15 that closes a gigantic ($12 billion!) loophole for commercial properties to avoid real estate tax.

  2. none

    “Bay Village police chief Kathy Leasure confirmed the Oct. 12 call to Scene and said that the caller had advised police dispatch that they were unsure if the homeless individual was a human being or a statue.” • But… perhaps approach the figure closely enough to tell?

    Responding officers feared for their lives and had to shoot the statue.

    1. farragut

      Suspect was fatally shot after he failed to respond to officers’ repeated commands to “stand up against the wall and spread ’em!”.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Police were forced to shoot when it was observed that the tasers used to waken the sleeping figure did not work.

    3. Mel

      And besides that there’s Matthew 25:40: “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

      So a lot of that’s been going on.

    1. a different chris

      And how bizarre is this?

      “You don’t really have freedom of religion if you don’t also have freedom of assembly,” Sasse explained. “You don’t really have freedom of speech if you can’t also publish your beliefs and advocate for them. You don’t really have any of those freedoms if you can’t protest at times and seek to redress grievances in times when government oversteps and tries to curtail any of those freedoms.”

      It would seem that he was mansplaining the First Amendment to lil’ Covid Amy — but since she didn’t seem to actually know this then is it actually mansplaining? Weirder is I can’t even figure out what triggered this little display?

      WTF is going on in with these people?

  3. Carolinian

    Re CNN triumphalism and not to drag out this morning’s discussion, but I suspect that the Trumpies may see the Hunter emails as the October surprise. They’ve been sitting on them for months. Which could mean that there’s much more incriminating stuff to come. Popcorn machine on standby. After the way the Dems treated Sanders and are still treating his ideas I think we all could use some schadenfreude.

    1. Gc54

      Yes Master B, seeing Joe compels me to hibernate. Luckily I don’t have a TV, but do have a record player.

      1. Carolinian

        ‘Fraid this is it.


        I will agree that if there are bombshells then time to open the bomb bay doors. Unplugging popcorn machine.

        Bigger story today may be Biden’s townhall performance last night.


        Not unrelated: I recently re-watched my copy of Being There.

        1. edmondo

          You might want to watch “The Candidate” too. At least you’ll know what Biden said right after he declares victory.

    2. Samuel Conner

      re: schadenfreude:

      To my mind, the only redeeming feature of this contest is that one of these candidates will lose to the other.

      1. edmondo

        I’ve been watching both of them closely for 4 straight months and I still can’t decide which one is worse.

        1. anon in so cal

          Speaking for myself only, the one who’s considering Michelle Flournoy as Defense Secretary (CNAS, Palentir, etc.) aka the one who advocated for the Iraq war knowing in advance it was based on lies, is worse.

          “Break­ing his cam­paign pledge, Oba­ma stayed the course in Iraq, only with­draw­ing troops by the end of 2011 because the Iraqi gov­ern­ment refused to allow them to remain. He launched the dis­as­trous war on Libya, fur­ther desta­bi­liz­ing the Mid­dle East and North Africa, an action favored by Flournoy on human­i­tar­i­an grounds, and pushed the con­tro­ver­sial Trans-Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship (TPP) agree­ment, some­thing long endorsed by the think-tank, and which Flournoy called ​“the most impor­tant thing” and ​“foun­da­tion­al” to the administration’s ​“rebal­ance” toward Asia….”


        2. Mo's Bike Shop

          I’m kind of happier with the devil I know, because at least it’s a different direction than ripping out the boards in front of the stove for firewood. A different shambolic direction. We’ll see about voting, I’m in a state where the bipartisan consensus is ‘herd immunity–but don’t say it out loud’. The ennui is overpowering.

        3. eg

          “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

      1. Carolinian

        The repair shop owner made a copy of hard drive before giving to FBI. From a site I cannot link.

        Meanwhile, in a Friday interview with Fox & Friends, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani – whose hands the Biden emails fell into after a Delaware computer shop owner said a man he believes to be Hunter Biden dropped off the laptop for repair in April, 2019 but never picked it up – teased much more to come.

        “Fell into.” Carlson is on the story now and he has way higher ratings than MSNBC. If there really are bombshell revelations and the files are authentic then the MSM can’t continue to ignore.

        1. Annus Horribilis

          Ludicrous story on its face given Hunter Biden lives in LA as of 2018. Julian Assange is predisposed for the time being, so I guess computer repair guy was plan B for laundering lukewarm espionage. As of late, Giuliani has not displayed the creativity nor lucidity needed for a plausible black bag stitch-up. The caper is a barometer on how fast Trump is imploding. State-sponsored professionals are not willing to burn a well-placed asset [journalist, politician, proxy state security service, whomever] to get this dope into the mainstream; Trump simply isn’t worth it anymore.

          This also highlights a Joe Biden foreign policy win for US interests, Yanukovych fled to Moscow with minimal violence. Of course the procurer of the Hunter Biden emails sees it through of the narrow aperture of their national interest, which explains an over-estimation of the material’s impact.

          1. Carolinian

            their national interest

            Guiliani from America’s mayor to working for Putin? Whocouldanode?

            While I unplugged popcorn maker it’s not out in the dumpster. Let’s see what happens next and whether Rudi is simply blowing hot air. If he is not then Hunter and perhaps Pop are in deep doo doo.

            And BTW we extensively debated the Ukraine intervention here in the past and it mostly didn’t go your way. Won’t rehash.

          2. Harold

            Maybe was traveling for other reasons and he spilled something on his laptop during the flight. Seems very plausible.

        2. notabanker

          Never underestimate the MSM’s ability to disappoint. Shop owners neighbors uncle is a known rooskie agent yada yada and Maddow gets to rant for a week. Up is down, top is bottom on the other side of the looking glass.

    3. Hepativore

      What is also ridiculous is where were all these #neverTrumpers and #resistance types during the W. Bush administration? Trump is maligned as the worst president in history, especially among the liberal and the progressive crowd yet we are still suffering from the aftermath of W. Bush’s policies today.

      Objectively, I think that the W. Bush and his cabinet were worse than Trump and if not for him opening a whole Pandora’s box of abuses and authoritarian policies; Obama and Trump would not have been able to get away with as much as they have. Yet now W. Bush is considered a folk hero among the liberals and the mainstream media.

      1. Amir

        But the insiders were still in control under the Big W.
        With Trump, they are not, and that is why they are desperate to destroy him and replace him with the big safe Biden’ time to the invevitable collapse.

        1. Briny

          That’s been my view for a while, who is at the trough at feeding time. Although the neoliberal grifters haven’t had too bad of a time of late, what with Biden’s fund raising numbers.

    4. hunkerdown

      I got a text from Bernie 2020 asking whether I would vote for Tlaib for Congress. Sadly, I’m not in her district, but hey I’ll send $5 because of that “unbossed” part. I then got a long pitch for a pledge to vote for Biden to protect our American democracy. I don’t feel much like being confrontational right now so I think I’m just going to leave that one for the angels.

      I have family working in social media. They’re off their feed (pun not intended) with dread and despondency. I hope they make it through the next 2.5 weeks as they, such as they are, are the only blood family I talk to.

      1. Eric in Kansas

        Whenever I get a pitch from the Dem party, I reply

        “Biden nominates Anita Hill”

        They have always been too ignorant to know what that means, or too stubborn to care,

      2. albrt

        This year I have taken to telling local democrat candidates, even people I know personally, that I can’t donate because it takes about 5 years to get off the DCCC solicitation list (phone and email) if you donate so much as a nickel to a democrat anywhere.

        They seem to understand.

    5. Kurt Sperry

      If there is anything that 2020 can teach us, it’s that anything wished for (from almost any perspective point) will sorely disappoint in the end. The Hunter laptop will be a total damp squib. Bet on it.

  4. Glen

    So, all the homeless encampments, are these Hoovervilles, Obamavilles, Trumpvilles or Bidenvilles? I think it’s somewhat unfair to Pelosi and McConnell that they don’t get a piece of this action too.

    What will the inclusive, idpol tested name be for our turbulent times?

    1. ambrit

      “Frum at Trumo” sounds like a lost Theban Play by Sophocles.
      However, it would fit in nicely as a sequel of sorts to “Nixon Agonistes.”

  5. Samuel Conner

    Perhaps one could charitably interpret Mayor Pete’s remark to be an expression of concern over the health of the American people, as they tend toward obesity and associated health risks, of which elevated blood pressure is one.

      1. Greg

        I think Lambert is on the money connecting it to the liberal desire for decorum to be maintained at the expense of all else.
        I’ve recently been chewing on Graeber’s essay on hierarchy, after another commenter mentioned it. He draws a connection between formalised behaviour and highly structured hierarchies.

        I think this is a key link between liberal demonstrated behaviour and the underlying liberal desire for authoritarianism. The Mueller/Fauci/Biden daddy figure fetish is another. Fascism, she comes in several guises at once it seems. The militarism on one side of the nonsense left/right divide so far, the authoritarian followership on both I guess.

        And yeah, mayo Pete is ex-military(ish), ex(ish)-intelligence, he loves him some structured and enforced hierarchy.

        1. hunkerdown

          Indeed, decorum, in the working sense of creating and enforcing taboos, especially the ones that set themselves apart from the biological (shudder!) continuity of the world.

          If you liked that essay, you should get the other eleven in his book, Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire. In Part II Graeber recounts some of his field work in rural Madagascar, whose fallen monarchy several decades ago led eventually to what he calls a “provisional autonomous zone” where the Westphalian state isn’t really in charge, but is allowed the appearance by the locals who mostly just play along in solidarity with their fellow countrymen and make the real decisions by direct-democratic methods. Much examination of authority and its legitimacy from the Merina perspective ensues.

          This weekend’s reading will include “The Twilight of Vanguardism” which could get arch. And I can’t wait for the last chapter, “On the Phenomenology of Giant Puppets: Broken Windows, Imaginary Jars of Urine, and the Cosmological Role of the Police in American Culture”, which promises fun.

          There are people who can’t bear to see a person who does not have a boss and, where none is immediately available, will insert themselves into the alleged vacuum, or where none exists for the top rank, will fabricate one for them out of thin air and projection. “Authoritarians” is, indeed, a descriptive and accurate catch-all term for them.

        2. albrt

          If Lambert’s preferred definition of fascism is correct, then the democrats are not fascists because their civilian followers are too wimpy to beat people up in the streets. Even though the democrats murder hundreds of thousands of people when they are in power, using the actual military, domestic law enforcement, and related mercenary organizations.

          So I guess we need to find a new word for PMC authoritarians. The most descriptive term I can think of is “indifferentist,” loosely based on Vonnegut’s Player Piano (Wikipedia: “Unlike much dystopian fiction, the novel’s society was created by indifference, both of the populace and the technology that replaced it.”). Unfortunately not clever enough for widespread adoption on the internet.

          1. hunkerdown

            Violence has been defined (and I wish I had a cite other than I read it in Debt: The First 5000 Years) as the removal of a person from a context to which they belong. Blunt physical force’s major advantage is broad applicability, in the sense of requiring no more understanding of the target and their interests than 1. they will try to avoid getting hit in the head 2. you can hit them in the head 3. the prerogative not to is mostly yours, but, by itself, is too blunt to extract work of any great detail or complexity. Indeed, the use of blunt force tends to drive away complexity. Fortunately, for those who wish to use force to control other people, there are many other ways to deny others the ability to act or even exist in their own contexts; the example of trade embargoes being long held acts of war should inspire others to come to mind.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Just imagine turning on the TV and seeing Mayor Pete as your President. He would be like a young, white, gay version of Obama as President. Yeah, it would be that bad.

      1. Roger Boyd

        I needed a trigger warning before reading that (no food or drink in mouth, take blood pressure medication beforehand …)

  6. Pat

    Real progress may not come from the top, BUT the top can head off progress.

    See Biden’s promise to veto MFA if Congress passes it.

    Yes, idiots, voting does mean support.

    1. Pookah Harvey

      So a neo-fascist Trump is going to be supportive of progress?

      “’A vote does not equal support; seems like an odd theory of democracy.”
      Until we have a real democracy it will have to do. In our current system we are not electing a leader but an opponent. Set the easier target up, not guaranteeing a win but only an idiot would vote to attack the hardest position.

      1. hunkerdown

        It does tend to prevent the progress of many baby hacks by pausing their rise through the public ranks and making their derailment in their office politics game that much more likely.

        Next time use memes that haven’t been quite discredited, like that empty “progress” device you are using to create a “fact” out of a feeling, or any belief in the good will of a chartered entity (literally a paper sociopath animated by at humans with the vague promise of rewards) or a class system (literally a system for stripping labor product from a captive mass).

        As I’ve said here before, the Democrat Party is best beaten down first, on the principle of getting traitors out of the way and preventing them from saving the enemies.

        1. Pookah Harvey

          So apparently you think Trump supports M4A?
          The Democratic establishment considered itself “beaten down” by Nader and then by Bernie. How much difference did that make? Of course if Biden is beaten down that will be the straw that will break the camel’s back. What’s the definition of insanity?
          The way of “getting traitors out of the way” is by primarying them, the elections don’t matter except for who will have the bully pulpit for the next 4 years. How many more Kyle Rittenhouses do we want, who think patriotism is armed vigilantism against other Americans.

          1. Kurt Sperry

            Indeed, thinking re-electing Trump, any more than electing Biden, will somehow lead to M4A or GND is fevered, wishful self-delusion. The legacy parties are both there to prevent it or anything like those coming to pass.

            1. Basil Pesto

              is it not therefore likely that, in the future, as-yet unwritten history of the successful fight for M4A in the United States (inshallah), that the outcome of this presidential election might be of next to no importance?

            2. hunkerdown

              Politics isn’t linear. In fact, one would be hard pressed to say it’s even Euclidean. My strategy preference has more to do with eliminating or disabling the attractive nuisance that is the Democrat Party, so that they stop putting flowers down our gun barrels and shooting leftists in the back. That starts with discrediting and eliminating the taboo against not playing the game according to the ruling class’ rules, as if playing the game were some kind of moral obligation of any people, let alone according to the take-it-or-die rules of any state.

          2. hunkerdown

            So far, he hasn’t promised to veto it.

            Anyway, there’s a scientific principle at work here. Gilens and Page found that the 80% are approximately 43% effective in achieving changes to the status quo. Narrow majorities were about 30% effective in support but “likely” got what they wanted in opposition, but about 33% effective in opposition to an interest. It’s worse than it sounds, because “Ordinary citizens, for example, might often be observed to “win” (that is, to get their preferred policy outcomes) even if they had no independent effect whatsoever on policy making, if elites (with whom they often agree) actually prevail.” So, that old saw about the Democrat Party being most effective for mass interests in the opposition posture has some measurable truth to it, and as a strategic matter for the left, there is some vaguely hard rationale for letting the GOP establishment keep the Dem establishment busy and not letting Dems indemnify themselves from responsibility for any damage they let happen, while the left builds a mass-based party around them.

            Since the governor-napping bust, I’ve noticed a lot fewer pickups with “blackout” trim on the road in my part of the Detroit metro area. I might have seen like one in the past three days, where before I might spy two daily. Gun season on deer doesn’t open for another month. I believe the irregulars are spooked.

            Why should I voluntarily give up any of the weapons the Party brass use against me? They throw generals all the time.

      2. Pat

        As I have said here before, America’s sanest decision would be none of the above and to reject BOTH major party candidates.
        I will make the sane choice, if others do not it is not my fault. I still will NOT have voted for either Biden OR Trump.

      3. Elizabeth Burton

        The analogy that occurred to me this morning was we have a choice between crossing a plateau (Nothing will fundamentally change) or climbing an alp with a 45-degree slope. Anyone who still fails to understand that the GOP goal, being loudly and blatantly advanced by both The Donald and Mitch McConnell, is the utter elimination of the federal government is being willfully ignorant. It’s one of the basic tenets of neoliberal Libertarianism, which has been essential GOP dogma since the Koch machine took the party over in 2009.

        The Democrats have an image to uphold, even if it has tended to slip in recent weeks. That’s useful. Trump and the GOP don’t. They’re a juggernaut who consider anyone outside their class irrelevant and disposable. They make no effort to conceal that.

        As for Biden, he’s still the same stalking horse he was last year, with Harris the de facto candidate and likely to be the de jure one as soon as it can be properly managed to maintain the pretense he’s fit for office. I then expect her to name Mayor Pete as her VP, since that was the roster the party was pushing before Super Tuesday. If so, you heard it here second, as I’ve been saying the same thing for most of the year on the Bird Cage.

  7. Jeremy Grimm

    “Why is so Much Redistribution In-Kind and not in Cash?”
    I can offer a few reasons which I don’t believe are covered in the 70 pages of the linked study.
    — An in-kind transfer cuts out the middle-men in getting a good to a recipient.
    — The most frequent items given in kind [I hope] are items that fill a need … like food, clothing, warm blankets. It does not matter what a recipient might think they need … or want … I want to make sure their needs are taken care of no matter what their preferences. The paternalism is plain and something I practise with my own children. They might want something without filling what I see as their needs — food before cigarettes for example. Too often I feel gamed by my children. They request help. Help is given and cigarettes are provided … my children remain without food. I do not practice tough love on someone who needs to eat or eat better — better in my judgment as a dad — paternal again.
    — In-kind distributions can help those who produce goods that feed into markets where they are exploited — like small farmers [of course large farmers grab up most of the benefits of this notion unless Government prevents it … I am still holding my breath ….].
    — Once needs are met it makes it easier to gauge the benefits of cash distributions. Cash might pay for cigarettes or liquor, or other entertainments … which is all right and helps ‘maximize benefits to the recipient” because I believe that where there is plenty — as in our society — Humankind needs satisfy its vices, fashions, and frivolities almost as much as Humankind needs food.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      “Humankind needs satisfy its vices, fashions, and frivolities almost as much as Humankind needs food.”

      Never has that seemed more true than today when we see the vulnerable travel into Covid dens to retrieve some microwaved food served with a smile. I wonder how much of that has to do with being human and how much with living in a world bombarded by “Buy this! Experience that! Be what you buy!”

      Another view:

      People wearing ornaments and fancy clothes,
      carrying weapons,
      drinking a lot and eating a lot,
      having a lot of things, having a lot of money:
      shameless thieves.
      Surely their way
      is not the way.

      Tao te Ching #53 (U.K. Le Guin trans., and Le Guin’s one line comment: “So much for capitalism.”)

      1. Rhondda

        On your recommendation, Henry Moon Pie, I bought Le Guin’s translation – is that even the right word? it’s so much more imho — and it is wonderful! Thank you.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          At the very least, it’s a fine tool for getting through crises like this one.

          And the irrepressible little evangelist within me is especially pleased. ;)

  8. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” A vote does not equal support” does indeed seem an odd theory of democracy on the face of it. I remember reading about an election in the mid-recent past when such a theory was advanced and was taken seriously. Had I been there then, I would have taken it seriously.

    And here it is. During the Louisiana election between David Duke and Edwin Edwards, someone invented the slogan ” Vote for the crook. Its important”. And the crook won and the klansman lost that particular election.

    If you accept that “democracy” has become merely a toolbox of weapons to be used for waging electoral combat in the political/governance battlespace, then you could make a case for this particular reason for voting “for” Biden. I voted “for” Trump in the last election based on this logic. The evil Clinton and its screaming hordes of Pink KKK ( Pink Kitty Kap Klintonite) winged flying monkeys had to be stopped. And that required voting “for” Trump.

    In the same way, if you think the particular forms of disintegration authored by Trump have to be stopped at this point, you will vote “for” Biden in order to buy time to prepare further Political Warfare operations. In which case , voting “for” Biden does not mean supporting the Joemalabam PKKK Democrats. It means buying time for figuring out how to wage further rounds of political warfare for what we decide we want to achieve.

    1. km

      It doesn’t matter why a person voted for something, anything, a voter pulling the lever for a particular candidate, a congressman voting for a new stupid war, it doesn’t matter whether you voted out of virtuous and genuinely altruistic principle or because you were afraid of what people might say if you didn’t.

      Each vote counts exactly the same.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The reason you vote “for” something may be very important, if you then act on that reason after the vote to pursue the agenda behind your reason.

        If I think another Trump term will destroy the “Administrative State” . . . . as in “Deconstruct the Administrative State” beyond recovery, then I will vote “for” Joemalabama this time in hopes of gaining a 4 year breather for me and like-minded people to begin working on how to exterminate the Joemalabama PKKK Party in the longer term, so that a different grouping more-to-my-liking can conquer the Administrative State and make it Our Own.

        It isn’t a matter of ” what people will say”. Just like last year I did not vote for Clinton out of fear of the shrieking screams of the PKKK if they found out that I didn’t vote for Clinton.

    2. Tim

      This is why I’m voting for Biden. We are still just thrashing around in the throes of of our Kleptocracy, and I don’t want to give any bad president any more than 4 years.Just buy more time until the younger generation becomes a large pool of voters.

      The republican party has no platform other than doing what trump wants, and now Trump is out of ideas and has no plans. Idle hands do the devils work.

      My bar for fantastic success with Biden, is no new wars, and lowering the medicare age by 5 years. That would be a huge win.

      I know we all whine about not going for it all with M4A, but looking at it it the looooong term, every time you lower the age by 5 years, voters are never going to let you go back and raise the age. Look at republicans with the preconditions part of obamacare. They won’t touch it.

      All the business revenue is in the older folks with bad health, which will quickly reduce the size of the health care insurance industry as they are cut out of that market 5 years at a time. By the time you get down to a 50 years old cutoff their influence will have waned enough and M4A passes.

      The best reason to vote is down the ticket…propositions and lower level positions. That’s where real change begins anyways.

      Strategically Trump should not have voted on Barrett. Taking over the supreme court was the primary reason christians voted for him, as a useful idiot. Once Barrett gets in, they will feel free to vote there true preference for somebody that doesn’t remind you every day he is the polar opposite of what christians should aspire to.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        I don’t want to give any bad president any more than 4 years

        Where are we going to find another Trump in 2024? Pepsi and Coke will go back to an eight year tag team. Forever.

      2. kareninca

        “Strategically Trump should not have voted on Barrett. Taking over the supreme court was the primary reason christians voted for him, as a useful idiot. Once Barrett gets in, they will feel free to vote there true preference for somebody that doesn’t remind you every day he is the polar opposite of what christians should aspire to.”

        Hahahahaha. Do you actually talk with the sort of Christians who voted for Trump???? They are thrilled with what he has done and are hoping for more, and he has given them every reason to think he will provide more. They see him as King David; a flawed man who is working out God’s will in the world. Of course their votes may well not be sufficient, but they will eagerly vote for him again.

  9. zagonostra

    So according to SSA Wage statistics for 2019 “50 percent of wage earners had net compensation less than or equal to the median wage, which is estimated to be $34,248.45.”

    Half the “Wage Earners” making less than $35K are completely out of the public consciousness. The U.S. is no longer a characterized by extremes in it’s economic demographics of wealth and poverty but rather it is now characterized by a schism. Leaving the two extremes of obscene wealth and abject poverty aside, half the population could be said to be doing ok or getting by, the other half struggling to stay a float.

    How to mobilize and make that half that is struggling a potent political forces is the question of the day in my mind. The meaningless sound and fury of the presidential election and the elites jostling on your msm TV will never organize this section of the populace, nor do they want to. Who will? Will the numerous small eddies that swirl around Y-Tube channels and alternative media ever be able to coalesce into a raging river that sweeps the corrupt bloated plutocrats/oligarchs out of power? Not hopeful at this point, but who can tell.


    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, that’s where we are at right now. The sad reality of triage.

      Perhaps the movement created to save any one particular ecosystem can be used as a tire iron for saving the next one. And the stronger such a movement becomes, the more ecosystems it can save from their enemies.

  10. Lee

    “(And how the heck does Biden get to escape responsibility for drafting a bill where the states and localities would undo, presumably, the goals of his legislation?)”

    Much the same could be said for Obamacare. Will Roe v. Wade, Medicare and Social Security be next, albeit undone through judicial action? The whole patchwork quilt of incremental progress seems to be up for grabs. Biden and the blue wave vs. the Supreme Court in the midst of a pandemic and attendant economic contraction should make for some exciting times. Again I face the quandary: popcorn or bullet proof vest or, as has been suggested, both?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If you choose to have fun till you die, get the popcorn.

      If you choose to survive, get the bulletproof vest.

      1. jr

        While researching personal protection, I came across an interesting nugget of info: those vests go “bad” with time….not a lot either, like 5 years or so. I guess the fibers settle or break down or something.

        1. Briny

          Kevlar is not stable chemically, i.e. it isn’t totally inert. Neither is bulletproof glass in the presence of UV-rays and ozone. Almost useless knowledge.

    2. km

      The Supreme Court, throughout its history, has reflected whatever the elite consensus was on the issues before the court at that time.

      Viewed through that lens, nothing will happen to Roe, because abortion is sacrosanct in elite circles.

      Another way to put it – any federal judge, and SC justices in particular, are Front Row Kids par excellence. Like any other Front Row Kid, they crave peer approval and they very badly want to please authority. In fact, they have to seek peer approval and please authority, because that’s how one gets to be an SC justice in the first place – by pleasing authority and seeking peer approval.

      Back to the elites – NC mythology aside, expressing anything other than full-throated support for abortion is about the surest way possible to get kicked out of an upscale cocktail party, and also to ensure that you never will be invited back. I have heard goodthink liberals with impeccable P.C. credentials express racial views in private that would considered shockingly retrograde if said in public. Never once have I heard any of those goodthinkers veer the slightest from abortion orthodoxy, and I suspect that they would be horrified by anyone who did so.

      Even among nominally pro-life elites (usually only those elites who are strongly associated with Team R politics and are based outside coastal regions), you will find that they regard abortion as a subject that they really don’t want to talk about, don’t care about, and would just as soon pretend doesn’t exist and wish would go away. They regard wedge issues such as abortion as an embarrassment, something they have pay lip service to in order to keep the rubes happy so that they can get to the stuff that they do care about, like more tax cuts for billionaires.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Apparently the rubes have the power to extort lip service from the upper class Republicans. In some states where abortion is being made functionally illegal and non-existent for all functional-reality purposes, the rubes have the power to extort more than just lip service.

        The Roberts Court did make sure to pretend to believe that Obamacare was just constitutional enough to be up-holdable. That is certainly upper-class servitude on Roberts’s part. So that would support your basic theory of who has the power and who serves them.

        So this comment does offer a hypothesis and a prediction. And we may get a test of that hypothesis and prediction.

      2. a different chris

        >Viewed through that lens, nothing will happen to Roe, because abortion is sacrosanct in elite circles.

        One underappreciated thing about the pandemic, is that suddenly the Elites realize they can’t be guaranteed the ability to fly Buffy to Canada at any given point in time. This pandemic will pass, but we’ve screwed the pooch so much on our relationship with Mother Earth that travel lockdowns will always be an uncontrollable fact of life.

        So they can eliminate abortion clinics in, say, Georgia but they will make sure they always exist in heathen New York and the like.

      3. albrt

        The reason abortion is a hot button issue is because of the Hyde Amendment. If Medicaid and most other insurance paid for abortions, you’d be able to get one in any hospital. Because most insurance does not pay for abortions, there are many states where you can only get an abortion in a charity clinic.

        It is very easy for local anti-abortion activists to shut down charity clinics by pushing a little extra regulation. The recent Supreme Court cases about abortion are about whether states can adopt rules such as requiring an abortion clinic doctor to have admitting privileges at a hospital. If the abortion was being done at a hospital, that wouldn’t be a problem would it?

        The democrats have continued to push the Hyde Amendment, and even attached it to Obamacare. And they are not promising to repeal it as part of this campaign, are they? No, instead they will whine and complain about how the mean republicans on the Supreme Court are upholding state regulations on charity clinics.

        That’s the democrats – always on the side of right, but never in good faith at any level.

  11. jeremyg

    Very sad. People fixing things they don’t know how to make. It would be nice if they asked the planet what it wanted them to do.

  12. LilD

    Re linear programming

    It will optimize successfully with respect to the model.

    The key is building a model that faithfully represents reality and is constrained to the needs of LP.

    I.e. you can get whatever answer you prefer if you “correctly” engineer the modeling.

    1. Briny

      Biological systems aren’t linear which is my objection to the model. Moreso, they are making the same assumption about economic systems, something I wanted to address back when I was doing my graduate studies in econometrics. AI has the same problem, which is what I’m working on right now.

      1. John Richmond

        Finally, linear programming! We teach it for a few days per year in Algebra II classes in Virginia.

  13. Ghost in the Machine

    How do all these Hunter Biden email revelations about receiving money from foreign actors relate to the Foreign Agents Registration Act Manafort was charge with violating? Is this a form of ‘lobbying?’


    I live in the air freight world and can speak to the article on pharma transport. I have several pharma client for whom I ship temp-controlled product. It is neither simple nor cheap, and requires special certifications.

    There are two general ways to do it – active and passive. Both are further divided in subcategories, depending on how much supplemental cooling is provided.

    Active temp control can be environmental or containerized. That is, either you segregate a section of the hold and cool the entire space, or you load your freight into a reefer ULD, which is then loaded into a standard pallet space. Non-containerized active environmental temp control is really only present in freighters. That space is dear.

    Passive requires on the presence of a cooling mechanism within the freight itself, surrounded by some insulation. This is usually dry ice or gelpacks.

    Then you have to consider the trucking and ground handling. Especially at transshipment ports at which a passively cooled shipment may be offloaded and.sot on a tarmac for several hours. So you have to avoid routings that transship through certain ports at certain times of the year. That further limits available capacity.

    We most often see a combination – insulated skids cooled with gelpacks that are transported in reefer trucks and loaded into the reefer space of freighter holds.

    The way I interpret the article – a good number of the the forwarders, who arrange the vast majority of airfreight, do not have adequately trained personnel or processes in place to handle a sudden surge in demand for TC services.

    The big winners in the vaccine push will be the manufacturers of reefer ULDs – Environtainer and the like.

  15. Upwithfiat

    The most important reason for this choice is paternalism: the belief that the poor will not spend cash on the right things.

    To Hell with that since the ONLY ethical means of fiat creation, beyond that created by deficit spending for the general welfare, is via an equal Citizen’s Dividend.

    Justice is justice regardless of how the recipients may spend the proceeds thereof.

  16. fwe'zy

    Re Michigan Oil & Gas Royalties, I saw this on Wrong Kind of Green Twitter:
    “In 50 yrs, I’ve personally confronted many companies/govts on their abuse of tribal peoples.
    *None* are as duplicitous as big “conservation” NGOs (it’s a mafia).
    They damage our world & destroy its best defenders.
    “Fortress conservation” must be stopped.”

    The boards of these conservation organizations are heavy on private equity types, and are driven more by industry interests than by environmental or community well-being. Many oil and gas lands (and their liability) are being offloaded to public agencies without protection from later “fire sales” to private interests at steep discounts (to salve convenient state and local budget shortfalls).

  17. Anonymous

    Can’t do brunch if you’re feeling pressure! Lambert

    … the complacency of fools will destroy them. Proverbs 1:32

    1. Pat

      Yes you can. I didn’t do it often but I brunched during the Obama years. I know being a Ny Democrat I should have been happy as a clam, but I am an old school, New Deal, globalism is NOT trade, and Banks should be highly regulated and have nothing to do with stocks Democrat. A Bush should have been impeached and torturers prosecuted kind of Democrat. Not some greedy, war mongering, Oligarch pandering POS DINO with the right identity loving Democrat. Obama started raising my blood pressure after he barely got in the door and he still does.

      Frankly Trump annoys me less, probably because he is less sanctimonious and despite his narcissistic need to be on top less of a hypocrite than Barack and Michelle. “We go high” my Aunt Fanny’s…

      Apparently being delusional as to the condition of the world before Trump, meant you were no longer able to enjoy a nice Bloody Mary even though his election largely changed nothing in your life except hysterical media coverage.*

      *not saying there were no changes during the Trump administration just that most of the people nodding at Pete’s observation biggest change was a tax cut. The tantrums have been illuminating.

  18. Ping

    Re: Swing States and hot button initiatives

    Arizonan here wishes to put a finer point on “taxes”. Education funding Prop 208 seeks to partially restore deplorably depleted funding by taxing the wealthy more. Already at the nation’s lowest in per student funding, while further cutting funding and health care for children of working poor AKA KidsCare causing mass protests and teacher exodus, per Capitol Times report “buried in the budget …” in our dark money donor state, AZ Gov Ducey 2016 budget allocated over 1 million dollars to AZ based Safari Club International agenda–litigation against federal species protection and increased hunting on state land.

    Below the radar, SCI is a devastating destructive force for corporate privatization of public lands, eradicating species that are not of sufficient monetary value or those that compete for habitat with monetized species, all the more galling that a donor was rewarded with over a million dollars that could have gone for desperately needed education and health care for needy children.

  19. marym

    “Steven Mazie @stevenmazie
    BREAKING: Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Trump administration case regarding whether undocumented persons may be excluded from the census count for congressional apportionment. Argument will be on November 20th.” (Corrected in subsequent tweet to 30th) https://twitter.com/stevenmazie/status/1317217755494600705

    Can they even determine who’s undocumented since it’s not on the census? Here’s an overview. tl/dr: No. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/07/can-census-bureau-actually-meet-trump-s-demand-count-noncitizens

    Article 1, Section 2: Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.

  20. John k

    Dems becoming wealthier, someday will be the oligarch party…
    They already are. Saw a report significantly more oligarchs support Biden than trump. Plus Biden’s autraising trump 2 or 3 to 1.

  21. XXYY

    New jets promise to revive supersonic travel

    I’m amazed this is still a credible business plan. The original Concorde was a complete fiasco, and things have only worsened since.

    Everyone is shorting air travel in general now, but expensive, noisy, and incredibly wasteful air travel? Just to save a few hours? Fuel requirements for supersonic aircraft are gigantic, and we live in a time when air travel is already getting bad press for vast CO2 emissions from regular subsonic flights.

    Hard to see this leading anywhere. In fact, it seems like an article from The Onion.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Aero drag increases at a square of velocity. Significantly supersonic travel is inherently highly fuel inefficient.

      1. jr

        Thank you for this, it’s clarifying. I get my aerodynamics knowledge from cartoons and action movies.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry began on October 16, 1859.”

    Looking at that photo, I was imagining him in camos, a crew cut, dark sunglasses, tattoos, hefting an AR-15 and being the head of his own militia in that raid on Harper’s Ferry. Somehow that raid seems a lot more understandable now, especially after the news of that Michigan Militia that wanted to kidnap and put on trial the State Governor. So my takeaway is that just as those Michigan Militia were nothing more than a bunch of self-righteous d***heads, that John Brown and his followers were also a bunch of self-righteous d***heads. Very clarifying that.

    1. LifelongLib

      Actually Brown was part of what could be called the militant wing of the anti-slavery movement. He was well-connected with its leadership, even staying at Frederick Douglass’s house when visiting New York state for meetings. He knew Harriet Tubman and once met Sojourner Truth. Douglass tried to talk Brown out of the Harper’s Ferry raid, saying the town was a steel trap from which Brown would not escape. And of course he turned out to be right.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I still find it mind-blowing that Allan Pinkerton was a direct supporter of Brown and that the clothes that Brown was hanged in may have been purchased by Pinkerton. America was a small club back then where everybody seems to have known everybody.

      2. Harold

        Emerson on John Brown: Who makes the abolitionist? The slave-holder. The sentiment of mercy is the natural recoil which the laws of the universe provide to protect man-kind from destruction by savage passions. And our blind statesmen go up and down, with committees of vigilance and safety, hunting for the origin of this new heresy. They will need a very vigilant committee indeed to find its birthplace, and a very strong force to root it out. For the arch-abolitionist, older than Brown, and older than the Shenandoah Mountains, is Love, whose other name is Justice, which was before Alfred, before Lycurgus, before slavery, and will be after it.

  23. ambrit

    Zeitgeist Watch item.
    I’m doing a chore in the back yard an hour ago and hear the unmistakable sounds of a High School Football Game in progress. Yelling people, a marching band, the drum line, and the announcer calling plays over the loudspeaker.
    Checking the local news media for the truth of my ears signaling to my brain, I do indeed find a link to this year’s High School football schedule.
    Next item on the local TV station news is a piece about Haunted Houses being put on locally. Several to chose from.
    Are we here in the NADS typical, or just “crazy hicks?”
    Anyway, what I take from this is that we here are going to have a big spike in Dreaded Pathogen cases this fall and winter.
    Go long Rapture futures.

    1. rowlf

      I had to attend a local high school football game about two weeks ago. Weird in that it was the first time in my life I ever had to watch a game. The vibe I got was everyone basically saying screw it, the news is all jacked up in either direction, let’s just get on with things for better or worse. There is a tiger behind every door and we’re doomed.

  24. anon in so cal

    >Caitlin Johnstone on Hunter Biden’s emails

    (this is probably a re-post but in case anyone hasn’t seen it)

    “Caitlin Johnstone: Imagine if MSM consistently applied the evidentiary standards it’s applying to Hunter Biden’s emails”

    “‘The problem is not that there are high evidentiary standards for Hunter Biden’s emails, the problem is that there are virtually no evidentiary standards when the media want to sell the world on a narrative'”


  25. Brunches with Cats

    Lambert: “… perhaps approach the figure closely enough to tell?”

    “Within twenty minutes of the statue arriving, I was having a conversation with a very kind police officer because someone called to report a homeless man sleeping on a park bench” (Twitter post by Alex Martin, pastor of the church that sponsored the installation in a park next door). According to the article, the community is “Northeast Ohio’s 18th-wealthiest suburb by median home income.”

    Headline if this had happened in a poor black neighborhood:
    “Police Shoot Homeless Man 15 Times for Resisting Arrest Before Realizing It’s a Statue”

  26. John Richmond

    Re Trump/Biden showering Philly, Phoenix, Orlando/Tampa with ads:
    I hope BIden’s hiring some canvassers. I wonder where an idle labor force could be found in this economy…

  27. John Richmond

    “…the Democrat base is becoming increasingly wealthier, and at some point in the not-too-distant future, they will be, and be seen as, the party of oligarchy. Quite a switch!)”

    Until the base agitates for real climate action, single-payer, expanding the court, the right to repair, better policing, letting in more immigrants, et al. Then the 10% like my neighbor, and the Lincoln Project types, will go right back to the conservative party. And we’ll have to replace them with today’s nonvoters.

    Many of us in Virginia know we’ll still have to go into the streets despite Biden being president and the Democrats being in charge. The special session budget and police reform shenanigans of a Va General Assembly at 55-45 House, 21-19 Senate are instructive.

  28. John Richmond

    “NY: “Ray McGuire to leave Citigroup to run for mayor of New York” [CNBC]. “Valerie Jarrett, a longtime close advisor to former President Barack Obama, will act as co-chair of McGuire’s campaign, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.””

    Valerie Jarrett came down to Richmond to support a development called Navy Hill, which would have redeveloped the area on and around our closed Coliseum but drained $5-10M net from bond payments and operating costs for 20-30 years. NYC has about 40 times the population of Richmond; such a project would be a $200-400M hole in their budget.

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