2:00PM Water Cooler 10/8/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Good morning!


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. Ugh.

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

Looks like Texas has its data under control, Wisconsin continues steady rise…

Here is South Asia and Southeast Asia, with the United States for comparison:

That little blip at the left is China…


“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. 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.

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…).

UPDATE https://twitter.com/rmd1023/status/1312710174583533570?s=11

* * *


The Debates

“GOP pollster: Pence beat Harris in debate not for what he said but how he said it” [CNBC]. “GOP pollster Frank Luntz told CNBC on Thursday that his 15-person focus group of undecided voters felt Vice President Mike Pence performed better than Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris in the vice presidential debate…. ‘What they’re doing is watching to see whether or not they can trust that individual, and Mike Pence did extraordinarily well in that. He never got agitated. He never got flustered,’ said Luntz. ‘This is a complete difference from the first debate that our focus group thought Joe Biden won because they thought, frankly, that Donald Trump wasn’t acting presidential.’… There were times during Wednesday’s debate when Pence tried interrupting Harris and speaking over the moderator, Susan Page. At one point, the California Democrat and first Black woman to appear on a major party ticket rebutted and said, ‘I’m speaking.’ sThe moment resonated with some, reminiscent of times women have been interrupted by men. However, Luntz said his focus group said Harris’ presentation on the line came across as too rehearsed. ‘She was very well prepped in terms of the language she used. Very effective,’ he said. But, he stressed, ‘for undecided voters, authenticity matters so much and they did not find her authentic.'” • Of course it was rehearsed, and so it ought to have been. The point is to make the rehearsed sound unrehearsed.

“Mr. Vice President, she’s speaking: How Kamala Harris beat the stereotypes during her historic VP debate” [CNN]. “But the momentousness of the night didn’t obscure the tightrope that Harris nimbly walked whenever Vice President Mike Pence attempted to talk over or interrupt her or downplay her expertise. She held her ground, was firm without falling into any of the traps that could tack her to labels — emotional, angry, nasty — reserved for women, especially Black women…. It was an unenviable position that Harris nonetheless nailed. She was, to borrow part of Shirley Chisholm’s widely known campaign slogan, ‘unbossed’ in a country that always finds ways to punish powerful women.” • Chisholm must be rolling in her grave.

“Six Takeaways From the Vice-Presidential Debate” [New York Times]. “It was telling that a fly that landed on Mr. Pence’s head partway through the debate was among the biggest buzz generators of the night. (So much so that the Biden camp sought to monetize it with the sale of ‘Truth over flies’ fly swatters*.) For all the high Democratic expectations around Ms. Harris and her past debate performances, she did not eviscerate Mr. Pence. As for Mr. Pence, he turned in an effective, dutiful, conservative case for Mr. Trump, the likes of which the president rarely articulates himself.” • And speaking of that fly, I’m so old I remember when Stephen Colbert was funny–

Going to town on this–

As it turns out, Black people aren’t all that enthusiastic about being compared to flies. NOTE * Always an excellent of a return to comity, framing your opponents as vermin.

The Trillbillies:

“Debate Civility Won’t Survive Trump’s Return” [Bloomberg]. “Mike Pence came off as reasonable and reassuring during last night’s vice presidential debate — a potentially brief moment of comity ahead of Donald Trump’s planned return to the campaign trail as soon as Monday.” • Because as we all know, lack of comity is the root cause of all our country’s problems….

“Donald Trump says he will not participate in virtual debate” [Financial Times]. ‘”I’m not gonna waste my time on a virtual debate,’ Mr Trump said. ‘That’s not what debating is all about.'” • Sheesh, postpone it.

Trump’s Case of Covid

“President Trump’s Covid-19 Diagnosis: Implications for Transmission, Treatment, and Prognosis” (video) [UCSF School of Medicine]. • I forget which reader flagged this regular seriess of presentations, but take a bow, whoever you are!

This is well worth listening to over coffee in its entirety. The lack of hysteria is very welcome.

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) (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!

“Donald Trump Is Canceling TV Ads In Midwest States That Made Him President” [Buzzfeed]. “He’s been off the local airwaves completely in Iowa and Ohio. The campaign also has given up at least $2 million worth of reservations in both Michigan and Wisconsin since early September. And in Minnesota, a state Trump almost won four years ago and has expressed confidence in flipping, his team already has chopped about $5 million from its projected fall TV budget. The numbers, confirmed by the media firm Advertising Analytics, reflect a race where Democrat Joe Biden has gained a fundraising advantage over Trump and where polling suggests these states are competitive toss-ups or tipping toward Biden. The Trump campaign, meanwhile, according to data shared by Democratic ad trackers, has in recent weeks boosted its TV presence in the Sun Belt battlegrounds — Arizona, Florida, and Georgia — and Nevada, a state Trump lost in 2016. As Trump’s retreat in Iowa and Ohio became more pronounced this week, his advisers dismissed it as a sign of strength, despite polls that show him essentially tied with Biden in both states. And Biden’s campaign has accelerated its advertising in Ohio, which at the beginning of the 2020 cycle many Democrats did not believe would be a top-tier swing state.” • “A sign of strength”….

We shall see, but:

* * *

OH: Early voting:

And the lines get a lot longer with social distancing….

OH: “Portsmouth, Ohio, was a struggling city in 2016, with high unemployment and a massive opioid addiction problem” [New York Times]. “Things are improving in Portsmouth, not because of Mr. Trump’s actions, but because local citizens were determined to revitalize their city…. His supporters no longer describe a strong connection between his candidacy and their hopes for Portsmouth. Many will still vote for him… Three years ago, a group of lawyers, real estate agents and other local professionals in their late 30s and early 40s decided they could wait no longer. Without help from outside investors, they began buying up crumbling buildings downtown, some of them 150 years old, renovating them and opening stores and businesses. They created a winter festival and logged local residents into the “Guinness World Records” book for wholesome group activities like singing and potting plants. Portsmouth was named a Hometown Christmas Town by the Hallmark Channel last year and an All-America City in August. Partisan politics are put aside.” • Well….

WI: “A warning from Wisconsin” [Reveal News]. “[A]n analysis of voter data from the April primary in the swing state of Wisconsin shows that mail-in voting may pose the opposite risk – rejected ballots. Slightly more than 23,000 ballots were thrown out in the primary, according to an analysis by APM Reports, mostly because those voters or their witnesses missed at least one line on a form. That figure is nearly equivalent to Trump’s 2016 margin of victory in Wisconsin of 22,748 votes. And with Wisconsin voter turnout expected to double from April to more than 3 million in November, a proportionate volume of ballot rejections could be the difference in who wins the swing state and possibly the presidency. The analysis shows the difficulty some voters had casting a ballot through the mail, also commonly known as absentee voting. It also reveals how voters weighed the risk of voting in person during a pandemic with navigating the rules of absentee voting, often for the first time. For an absentee ballot to count in Wisconsin, a voter and a witness must sign the ballot envelope and include the address of the witness. Those safeguards – put in place to eliminate mail-in ballot fraud – in fact contributed to the rejection of 13,834 ballots, according to the analysis. Election experts are not surprised by Wisconsin’s ballot rejections. They say people in states like Wisconsin that do not have high by-mail voting rates are more prone to make errors. ‘You’re asking folks to do something new,’ said Michael McDonald, who studies voter data as a political science professor at the University of Florida. ‘And whenever you try to do something new in the midst of unprecedented demand, you’re going to have problems.'” • Not that I’m paranoid or cynical, but Democrat attempts to retroactively change mail-in ballot rules aren’t out of the question.

UPDATE WI: “Biden makes class-focused pitch to White voters in Wisconsin” [CNN]. “Biden in recent days has woven into his stump speech a contrast between his family’s working-class roots in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and lack of an Ivy League degree, and Trump’s gilded New York life — arguing that his policies would benefit the middle class while Trump’s tax cuts and other economic policies have mainly aided the wealthy.
“I’ve dealt with guys like Trump my whole life,” he said Monday. “Guys who think they’re better than you. Guys who inherit everything they’ve ever gotten in their life and squander it. Guys who stretch and squeeze and stiff electricians and plumbers and contractors working on their hotels and casinos and golf courses to put more bucks in their pocket…. Another key group Biden is targeting: disaffected White working-class voters — the people with whom Trump needs to rack up an enormous margin of victory to win the election, and where Biden just needs to chip into Trump’s advantage.
Those voters are crucial in the industrial Midwest.” • Five years of yammering that these voters are irredeemable racists, but come back! All is forgiven!

* * *

“Republicans Are Slowing Down Mailed-In Vote Counts in Key Swing States” [Washington Monthly]. “The Bipartisan Policy Center recommends that states permit at least seven days of processing before Election Day. That merely means opening the outer envelope, sorting the ballots into the correct precinct, verifying the signatures, and preparing them to go through a vote-counting machine. That way, on Election Day, all you need do is put the ballots through the machine to know the results…. The bad news is that Republican officials in three swing states, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, are blocking legislation that could allow for the early processing of absentee ballots—purposefully making it take longer to get the election results. In other words, they are engineering the absentee vote counting delays that Trump is already planning to complain about and sue over.” • Not that Im paranoid, but I’d like to know if simply sorting the ballots by precinct is enough data for a bad actor to know whether to take, well, compensatory measures. I bet it is. There’s a lot to be said for counting all the ballots at the same time (by hand, naturally).

Trump (R)(1): “Trump’s vaccine czar says the first vaccine should be submitted for emergency authorization around Thanksgiving” [MarketWatch]. “Moncef Slaoui, an immunologist by training and a longtime pharmaceutical executive, is running the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed program to spur development of vaccines on the fastest ever timetable. While none of the four vaccine candidates to enter Phase 3 trials have publicly reported data from the mid-stage studies, Slaoui is hopeful that drug makers will file for emergency authorization with the Food and Drug Administration by late November, immunization in high-risk populations could begin this year, and that the vaccines may be more effective in clinical trials than previously assumed. ‘My expectation is really something between 80% and 90% efficacy,’ he said…. Operation Warp Speed has been both lauded and criticized for its aggressive timeline. The project aims to bring to market a set of vaccines and treatments with a target of delivering 300 million doses of a vaccine starting in January. Like many scientists, however, Slaoui seems to prefer to focus on the data, and not the politics, even in the highly politicized environment surrounding vaccine development.” • Of course, if we lived in a fascist regime (as the term is commonly understood, Slaoui

* * *

“‘A big victory would be 5%’: Green party’s Howie Hawkins eyes progress” [Guardian]. “‘What would really be a big victory would be if we got 5% of the vote,’ [Green candidate for President] Hawkins said. ‘That qualifies us for a public campaign financing grant for the general election in 2024 for president. If we got to 5% there’d be about $20m at least waiting for our presidential ticket in 2024, which would be a jump up. So 5% is benchmark.’ It might not sound like a lot, but given the Green party’s previous best performance was the 2.7% won by Ralph Nader in 2000, it’s an ambitious goal. ‘That would be quite a leap for us,’ Hawkins said. ‘But with Trump collapsing, and Biden not being very progressive, maybe it is within our reach.'”

This seems like a good idea:

Not sure how these reports are authenticated, however.


Sure is odd we’ve got a major trove of captured document from the intelligence community, and there’s no story in itL


Realignment and Legitimacy

Lawrence O’Donnell, 2006:

AOC gives a shout-out to the Panthers:

Tankies a bit cranky about this but I think if it gets kidz reading the history and the literature, that’s a good thing.

Stats Watch

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

Employment Situation: “03 October 2020 Initial Unemployment Claims Declining Very Slowly” [Econintersect]. “Note from the BLS concerning California: ‘In response to recommendations resulting from an internal review of state operations, the state of California has announced a two week pause in its processing of initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits. The state will use this time to reduce its claims processing backlog and implement fraud prevention technology. Recognizing that the pause will likely result in significant week to week swings in initial claims for California and the nation unrelated to any changes in economic conditions, California’s initial claims published in the UI Claims News Release will reflect the level reported during the last week prior to the pause.'”

* * *

Mr. Market: “Stocks are rallying because fears of a contested election are fading” [MarketWatch]. “The protracted fight in Washington over the next stimulus package has been a focus for Wall Street, but the bigger catalyst likely driving stocks higher this week is polls that point to a more decisive election outcome in November. That’s the growing consensus from investors who say the recent rally in Wall Street isn’t about the ups and downs of fiscal stimulus negotiations, which they view as unlikely to result in something concrete this year, but instead reflect the dwindling odds of a contested election outcome. ‘The most convincing explanation in our view isn’t so much the likely outcome of the election itself, but rather speculation as to the increasing clarity of the result,’ said analysts at Rabobank. Before polls were showing a significant lead by Democratic candidate Joe Biden, investors worried that the large amount of mail-in voting could mean an election result that remains known until days after Nov. 3. The ensuing political uncertainty could keep markets on edge for days. But a larger margin of victory, if Biden is elected, likely would mean a result will be an announced on the day of the election, a boost to risk assets that were pricing in elevated volatility in the days and weeks after the election.”

The Fed: “Targeting Black Unemployment Would Keep Fed Rate Near Zero to 2025” [Bloomberg]. “Targeting reductions in the U.S.’s Black unemployment rate would lead the Federal Open Market Committee to keep interest rates near zero for at least five years, a new Bloomberg Economics analysis found. ‘As racial disparities figure more explicitly in the FOMC’s deliberations, that timeline could be even longer,’ economist Andrew Husby wrote. Black joblessness has been much higher than overall U.S. unemployment since at least 1972, when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began compiling the data.mThe Federal Reserve in late August approved a new framework for monetary policy calling for ‘broad-based and inclusive’ gains in the jobs market. Presidential candidate Joe Biden has called for an amendment to the Federal Reserve Act that would require the Fed to report on racial economic gaps and what policies the Fed is implementing to close these gaps.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 55 Neutral (previous close: 50 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 41 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 8 at 12:06pm.

The Biosphere

“We couldn’t have figs without wasps. Here’s how mutualism works.” [National Geographic]. “It’s well known that pollinators give us our favorite foods, from strawberries to sunflower seeds. But less familiar is what drives pollination: Mutualism. It’s an interaction between two individuals of the same or different species that benefits both. Mutualism is a form of symbiosis, which is a close and persistent relationship between two organisms of different species, but not necessarily one in which they help each other. Other types of symbiosis include parasitism, commensalism, and amensalism…. In the case of figs and fig wasps, however, each needs the other to complete its life cycle. This is obligate mutualism. There are about 750 species of figs, each of which has a particular fig wasp as its pollinator. The life cycle begins when a female wasp bores into a fig, which isn’t a fruit but a cluster of tiny, inverted flowers encased by a hard skin. The wasp lays her eggs inside the fig and dies. When the larvae hatch, the wingless male larvae fertilize the females. The female wasps mature and visit other figs, delivering pollen from the previous ones with them to fulfill the life cycle.”

Health Care

“Health Care Claims Data May Be Useful For COVID-19 Research Despite Significant Limitations” [Health Affairs]. “Although health care billing claims data have been widely used to study health care use, spending, and policy changes, their use in the study of infectious disease has been limited. Other data sources, including from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have provided timelier reporting to outbreak experts. However, given the scope of SARS-CoV-2—the causative agent responsible for the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic—and the multidimensional impact of the crisis on the health care system, analyses relying on health care claims data have begun to appear. Claims-based COVID-19 studies have a role, but it is critical to understand the limitations of these data. We are concerned that many weaknesses are not recognized by those familiar with other forms of patient-level data.” • Just to translate, we have optimized all our data systems for profit, and not for health, let alone public health.

“Getting Health Care Was Already Tough In Rural Areas. The Pandemic Has Made It Worse” [NPR]. “Even before the pandemic, the health care systems that serve rural Americans were in decline: rural hospitals were closing their doors, and the medical workforce was shrinking. This year, as the coronavirus outbreak has made its way from major cities to rural America, threats to the rural health care infrastructure have only increased.” • “Made its way from major cities….” Note lack of agency….

News of the Wired

I guess this is a bonus plant:

I bet we have readers who have seen this tree….

* * *
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 (AM):

AM writes: “Black eyed Susans and something else, with delicate pink petals, in the backyard.”

* * *

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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. WhoaMolly

    On debates:

    Clear to me we need a whole new way to do debates. All way from choosing candidates to actual debate.

    Current system evolved from something that probably worked well in 19th century, but 200 years later has become a fraudulent professional wrestling style extravaganza.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Some thoughts off the top of my head (this would make a good post, actually)–

      1) Replace the Commission on Presidential Debates with the League of Women Voters, like it was.

      2) Remove the moderator position entirely. Replace with a silent time-keeper who can kill the mikes.

      3) Select the audience by lottery (no party hacks)

      4) Candidates should address each others points directly (need to look at modern debate fornats, not policy debate, sadly

      5) Questions should be taken from the audience, again by lottery.

      I think in general if the debates were more like Town Halls, that would be a good thing. Town Hall attendees take their duties as citizens far more seriously than the political professionals do.

        1. Procopius

          October 8, 2020 at 3:44 pm

          Yes, use something like a chess clock, but an automatic microphone shut-off at the end of allotted time. Maybe have a moderator as well, with a cut-off switch if the first one minute of a response is not to the point. Each debater has a switch to cut off their own mic if they finish before their time is up, because only one mic can be live at a time.

      1. Pelham

        Yes to all but please add soundproof booths. Even with a candidate’s mic killed onstage he could shout and be picked up by the other guy’s mic. Besides, wouldn’t we all like to see candidates isolated behind glass as if they were curious specimens?

      2. GF

        If Trump doesn’t want to show up for the next debate bring in Howie as a sub or just give Biden the free 1 1/2 hours of airtime.

        1. edmondo

          90 minutes of Joe Biden? Trump would walk away with the election when the non-deplorable half of America dies of boredom.

      3. Ook

        Who was it who said we should give each of them a sock stuffed with shit and let them go at each other? Such a format would be far more dignified and informative than what happened last time.

    2. farragut

      When is a ‘debate’ not a debate? It’s not news to the NC commentariat due to Yves’, Lambert’s, et al, tireless work, but I wonder how widespread is the knowledge of this little gem (were I not a regular reader of NC, I never would’ve known this):

      “Instead, the debate rules and moderators are dictated by the two major parties — operating behind the fig leaf of a ‘Debate Commission’ set up to remove control over debates from the nonpartisan League of Women Voters (which had run the presidential and VP debates in 1976, ‘80 and ‘84). In 1985, as the national chairs of the two major parties — Democrat Paul Kirk and GOPer Frank Fahrenkopf — moved to sideline the League and set up their Commission, they signed a remarkable agreement that referred to future debates as ‘nationally televised joint appearances conducted between the presidential and vice-presidential nominees of the two major political parties … It is our conclusion that future joint appearances should be principally and jointly sponsored and conducted by the Republican and Democratic Committees.’ (Joint Memorandum of Agreement on Presidential Candidate Joint Appearances, Nov. 26, 1985.)”


    3. Glen

      Changing debate formats would be good. I’m torn between better questions or caged death match.

      And a little bit of debate history for everyone. The first “virtual” debate was between Nixon and Kennedy for the 1960 Presidential campaign. 60 years ago. The debate occured with the participants in different town, NYC and Chicago, I think, I’ll have to check on that. Remote TV link ups were big back then.

  2. Katiebird

    Love the bonus plant! I followed the link to the original tweet and clicked on that image and WOW! It is amazing. I grew up in Redwood country and adore them.

    There is a fun surprise in the full photo.

    1. Wukchumni

      A great wintertime photo and how’d they capture it?

      A friend turned me on how to photograph them with a smartphone that you hold sideways and set it on panoramic and then pan from the bottom to the top of the tree, which gives the Brobdingnagians an Alice in Wonderland look as an added bonus.

      Being among the columns of red with a carpet of white underneath is quite something, and there’s never really anybody there in the winter if you ski or snowshoe into the groves, it’s your own personal forest.

      1. Katiebird

        They call it mosaic…. does that mean this is a bunch of photos sewn together? I’ll look up the term when I get a chance. All the details look really sharp.

        I would love to learn how to photograph Redwoods and Skyscrapers.

        1. ChuckTurds

          Basically yes, though it’s slightly more ‘mathy’ that just lining up the images. This is what you see when you look at Google maps/earth. NASA does it for a lot of their space imagery as well. Of course both of those are top down or bottom up, in the case of Google from satellite and planes moving at relatively steady altitudes, in the cast of NASA the vast distance makes the fixed position a non issue. For really tall structures, I imagine the distortion as you pan up from a fixed location would be problematic for an accurate image.

        1. hunkerdown

          My OnePlus 5 running Android takes fine, crisp photos — and it even has manual shutter and focus controls and raw format as we’ve come to expect from a dSLR, whoch features can be controlled in a more convenient format than some of the Canon PowerShot point-and-shoots.

        2. Procopius

          I happen to dislike all Apple products, so I don’t know about the iPhone, but the cameras in Android smartphones are also awesome. Anything over 7.5 megapixels captures more detail than the best film. I’d love to get a Canon Single Lens Reflex (SLR), but I really don’t take pictures that much (when do people who take all these selfies ever look at them?).

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      This tree posting is a dangerous tweet. If Trump sees it he will want the tree for the White House Christmas Tree.

  3. Samuel Conner

    re: “one (ballot) drop box per county”.

    It would be interesting to know how large these drop boxes are.

    I reside in a blue state and there are about a dozen drop sites in my county. I dropped off my ballot this AM (voted Green for the top slots and anti-incumbent for most of the rest). The drop box was a bit smaller than a USPS letter drop box. I’m guessing that it would hold no more than a couple of thousand ballots if they were tightly packed. Per the county website, it is emptied nightly and I doubt that it will overfill.

    With just one box in a populous county, I would be worried about boxes overfilling and people resorting to USPS instead. Perhaps that’s intentional?

    1. Andrew Thomas

      Anyone familiar with any state in the United States knows that the physical size of counties and their populations vary with such significance that the idea of ‘one per county’ for anything except the bloody courthouse is by definition fraudulent. It is nothing more than a blatant effort to make voting as difficult and time-consuming as possible, and impossible, if possible. It would be a disgrace in an actual republic with any authentic democratic features left. And seeing snark referencing social distancing making the lines longer is beneath NC.

  4. Carla

    Those pink blossoms are of the Japanese anemone plant — a late summer – early autumn favorite here in NE Ohio.

    1. Unfinished

      You beat me to it, Carla. Here in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, Japanese anemones flower from mid spring through, well, now. In our garden we have them in jaunty profusion. I wish I could post a photo here.

    2. KevinD

      Thanks for ID’ing. We are always on the lookout for late summer/fall flowers as it gets a bit depressing looking around here (northern Illinois)

    3. Unfinished

      You beat me to it. Here in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, Japanese anemones flower from mid spring through, well, now. In our garden we have them in jaunty profusion.

      1. furies

        They were always fall flowers for me in Northern *California*. I believe that variety is called ‘September Charm’.

  5. anon in so cal


    Kamala Harris reiterated the Russiagate conspiracy theory on national TV and lied saying the intelligence agencies proved ties with Russia. That’s after release of CIA declassified documents definitively showing the psy ops was a bunch of dangerous lies concocted by Clinton Brennan Biden Obama, etc.

    1. TBellT

      Just like Iraq I imagine the people will forget ever having believed such a thing, media brainwashing works.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Oh, that reminds me of something. I need to practice that Russian intonation lesson. It’s part of the Russian phonetics course I’ve been working on.

    3. Darthbobber

      You see more in the declassified docs than I’m able to. Quality there is no higher than the stuff the Russiagaters were flogging.

  6. Watt4Bob

    “GOP pollster: Pence beat Harris in debate not for what he said but how he said it”

    I was taken aback by the difference in the quality of the ads shown during the debate last night, a Biden/Harris ad, crude, sort of Dollar-Store quality, with large $ dollar figures in every frame touting the stuff Biden would deliver if elected.

    It seemed to me to be an excellent launch pad for all those critics who scorn all the ‘Free Stuff’ the dims are promising their base.

    Then a Trump ad, nicely crafted with a minimum of text, and images perfectly framed to produce a positive emotional impact.

    Left me wondering more than ever if the dims are interested in winning?

    1. lambert strether

      Democrats believe that people who respond to economic appeals are downscale and stupid, and have crafted their ads accordingly.

  7. Duck1

    “Targeting Black Unemployment Would Keep Fed Rate Near Zero to 2025”
    So the interest rate suppression of recent years has serendipitously targeted the Black unemployment rate? According to BLS “The unemployment rate for Blacks was 6.1 percent in 2019, the lowest annual average in the history of the series (which begins in 1972). Though higher, the unemployment rate for Blacks has generally followed the same pattern as the overall unemployment rate.”
    Sorry, already over my Bloomberg article limit, so couldn’t read it, but smacks of more BS rationalizing a policy that the elites have loved because driving bond values higher.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      But but but…the Dems are our only hope to slow down the climate catastrophe! I know this because Kamala told me so, so did everyone on CNN, and the NYT, and Rachel, and Whoopi, and Michele, and Barack, and all the cool guys in Hollywood. It can’t possibly be they are all *wrong* can it?

      Maybe the Dems have a secret climate plan they are pursuing, you know, an 11-dimension chess move. Kind of like how Joe said he voted for the Iraq War because he didn’t want the war to go ahead

      Or maybe it goes like this: Biden thinks people won’t really care about climate until it gets much worse. So voting for this, which will make climate change worse, is actually a clever way to fight climate change! Yippee! Our side is so smart!

      (The sheer gullibility of the Dem faithful is so boundless that its traces can be found in the echoes of the previous Big Bang universe. There’s a Russian under every bed, Joe is for the working class, Kamala fought the big banks and made sure fewer African-Americans went to prison, and once they are in power again then we can really *hold their feet to the fire* and get really good progressive policy in place. How I wish I was in the business of selling bridges, there’s one that connects Manhattan and Brooklyn that looks like a really good buy…)

  8. a different chris

    Wow. Just wow… as a middle aged white dude, I hear all the consternation from minorities and women but this repainting of reality just…

    >There were times during Wednesday’s debate when Pence tried interrupting Harris and speaking over the moderator, Susan Page

    Were times? Tried? TRIED? He never shut up. He went on and on and on for all but I think three questions. But if that’s what everybody seems to want to believe, that he “presented Trump’s plans in a collegial manner” I guess that’s what they are gonna believe.

    Trump Exhaustion is basically turned into Stockholm Syndrome for our elites.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      I saw a stat somewhere that said Harris got 3 more minutes of talk time. Not sure how they measured it.

      I have a diverse circle of friends / acquaintances. Seems like everyone with an opinion feels “the other candidate” (the one they don’t support) got more time.

      To me, this means it must have been pretty even. I was measuring for a while because my wife was complaining, and it was pretty even until I got bored and stopped.

      Humans are interesting creatures

      1. albrt

        The older I get the less I agree with that last sentence.

        Time to give the sentient insects a turn.

        1. lambert strether

          Cats. When cats get opposable thumbs and can open their own cans of food, it’s all over for us

      2. Ray Anderson

        Actually, Pence got 38 minutes and Harris got 35 minutes.

        To me the moderator’s failure to at least equalize their time was striking. That’s a significant difference of almost 10%.

  9. Wukchumni

    I heard the insect goes by Jesus and is a Spanish fly. The reason it lingered so long was in hopes of getting an autograph from the Vice President to sell on eBay.

    1. Wukchumni

      Oh, I got some of the details wrong, I had the right name but said fly is from Michoacan and claims Spanish heritage, and attended to the debate specifically for the heartbreak of psoriasis, suicide by GOP.

      1. edmondo

        In 2024, can we just save us all a bunch of aggravation and put both presidential candidates out in the sun naked? The one the fly lands on, loses. Unless it’s Pete Buttigieg – he claims victory regardless of the results

  10. Moe Knows

    Yet another brilliant exploration of the pretenses and posturings of intellectuals who came out of the middle class and think that they’ve left it behind—that is to say, most literary critics, and most other members of the intelligentsia as well. Lambert, what actually do you want? It’s tiresome to read about how bad in your eyes the Democratics are but not the Republicans. Not the people. I think you place too much on being a smart ass.

    Social critics and tastemakers have always placed an undue emphasis on people they consider “important” – which too often is a bullshit word for “for those who reinforce the importance of us, the critics and tastemakers, to tell everyone what politics is.” And besides a cynic what are you?

    So yet again ban me, cause you can’t handle it.

    1. lambert strether

      As readers know, I have been crystal clear about what I want for many years: Universal concrete material benefits, especially for the working class. Liberal Democrats, for reasons Thomas Frank explains, oppose them. #MedicareForAll is the prime example, but there are others.

      Your suicide request is hereby granted.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        But his point I think was, so do the Republicans. Respectfully good sir, stating why you think it not worthwhile to say so would be a more constructive response than accepting his dare to ban him just because you can imho.

        There is a lot of groupthink going on at NC just now, as always at election time.

        Don’t we want to promote rather than shut down differing points of view?

        1. Pelham

          Whether “Moe Knows” had a point or not, he was being a jerk about it. That’s reason enough for a ban.

          1. lambert strether

            Throwing your drink in your host’s face is a bannable offense under the posted site tules. It’s also a curious fact of moderation that those who most pride themselves on their strategic acumen are most likely to commit it.

        2. Pookah Harvey

          I agree. It is going to be either “Bad Orange Man” or Bad Sleepy Joe”. We are going to have to live under one or the other (sorry to break it to you 3rd party voters). It would be nice to discuss their differences. If I want to hear a constant drumbeat of “Bad Biden” I’ll tune into Jimmy Dore.

          1. Phillip Cross

            The most notable difference for me is the enthusiasm coming from the absolute scum of the earth for one candidate in particular. I find that a bit off putting.

                1. RMO

                  As I have said in other comments, if I were a US citizen I would probably vote for Biden – I would hate myself for doing so. I would detest the DNC and the corporate Democrats for putting me in a position to choose between Biden and Trump and would be amazed that they managed to find two candidates in four years that were both so bad that the decision between them and Trump would be a difficult one.

                  If someone had told me five years ago that Trump would be running for president and that it wouldn’t be some ego-driven independent run but as the candidate of one of the duopoly I would have thought they were crazy. If the same person had told me that the Dems would find candidates to oppose him that were awful enough to make me not vote for them when Trump was the alternative I would have thought they were so dangerously psychotic that I would slowly back away from them hoping to get away uninjured – but here we are.

                  1. WobblyTelomeres

                    “If some had told me five years ago…”

                    Please note that many thought the same thing about Reagan.

                    1. RMO

                      So I hear – I was born in the early 70s so I hadn’t even heard of him until he was the candidate for president. From what I learned though I can see how many would have found the idea of the star of Bedtime For Bonzo and That Hagen Girl being president to be ludicrous. Plus of course his political actions up to that point I would have found objectionable had I known of them.

          2. The Rev Kev

            Jimmy Dore really showed me what Biden was all about. How did he do it? By showing video clips of Biden talking about what he was all about in his own words. You could just watch those video clips without Jimmy’s comments and it would be enough to tell you all that you wanted to know about old Joe.

          3. Acacia

            sorry to break it to you

            We are well aware that we’ll be living under one or the other, thank you. The difference is that we’re trying to think beyond that, instead of spiraling endlessly around the drain of lesser evildom. How about you?

          4. Chris

            Yeah, I can’t really listen to Dore anymore.

            I know Biden is a feeble fool and that Pelosi would gladly let another 100k people die and 10x that number suffer in poverty if it meant Trump and his ilk would lose the election. What else you got?

            For really interesting political commentary that is enjoyable to listen to I have come to like the long form talks between Joe Rogan and his guests as well as the Useful Idiots podcast. Matt and Katie are a welcome relief from what I’m inundated with every day.

          5. lambert strether

            Frankly, I think I am much nicer to the Democrats than Jimmy Dore.

            One reason I focus on Democrats is that I am intimately familiar with the party and the players, as I am not with Republicans and the conservative movement generally. The last time I looked in detail at the Republican Party was 2003-2006, under Bush. That’s a while back. So, I write what I know. It’s not my fault that with four years to “build back better” the best the Democrat Establishment could come up with was Joe Biden. Of course, with all the Bush-era war criminals slithering onto the Biden bandwagon, I may get a chance to revive old expertise!

            To be fair, liberal Democrats 2016-2020 managed to nullify not one but two populist movements or impulses, one from the right (Trump) and one from the left (Sanders). Institutionally, that’s a tremendous achievement, so full marks to liberal Democrats for that. Looking forward and not back, it’s an open question whether liberal Democrats will improve material conditions for the working class at all. Since the baseline currently is so low, it’s possible there will be improvement at the margin, and public relations will certainly be better. But as Biden said to his large donors, “Fundamentally, nothing will change.” Brunch awaits!

        3. judy2shoes

          I agree with Pelham above. There was more to Moe’s comment than simple disagreement with Lambert. Most people here know, without having it spelled out repeatedly, that the Republicans are at the very least equally as bad as the dems.

          As far as I can tell, the moderators here give most commentators a lot of warning before outright banning them. Apparently, there is history with Moe that I’ve not been privy to, but his comment above was not meant to elicit constructive dialog, IMO.

        4. lambert strether

          Republicans, like Liberal Democrats, oppose universal concrete material benefits. Anybody who’s bern reading me for any length of time knows that’s “what I want.”

      2. Chris


        I do wonder what the point of posts like those are? They’re clearly not interested in learning your position. They’re also clearly not interested in converting you to theirs. This is a style of debate and I guess we could call it pseudo rhetoric that I’ve noticed in the YouTube generation. I have to verbally flog my kids whenever they try to parade logical flaws wrapped in self righteous dogma as evidence for a point they want to make. How could some come to this site, read the articles, and come away with the impression that people here don’t care about the issues that are crippling our country? And the world?

        I will be an open supporter of the Democrats when they’re an open supporter of me and my friends and family. When they reject the corruption that has become endemic in our society and government. Until then they deserve only my scorn. What prize does “Moe” think we should give politicians who aren’t brave enough to rob the people but will volunteer to drive the getaway car every time? That’s our current opposition party. And it’s so sad and so obvious that I can’t even find the dark comedy coming for Dore’s rants humorous anymore. It’s just too depressing. And people criticize the editorial voice here for not being Team Blue No Matter Who cheerleaders? Please…

        1. Procopius

          I was tired of Jimmy Dore when I noticed how much he laughs at his own jokes. I found his rage against Bernie too much. I don’t always agree with, or like, Joe Rogan, but he does listen to what his guests have to say, and he does sometimes have interesting guests.

  11. Gary

    Texas Covid testing data: It is very difficult to get a Covid test in Texas presently, even if you are willing to pay for it. My wife has not seen her mother in a care facility since March. They had an out break and at least 14 residents died. They are allowing in person visits now but you have to prove you have tested negative. Unless you are experiencing symptoms, you can not take the test at clinics or pharmacies. The mayor of Fort Worth is allowing free drive through testing at one location 2 days a week. You have to make a reservation on line and even then it takes a couple of hours. They do a fixed number of tests a day. If they can’t fit you in this week, you have to come next week. Most cities do not have the free testing.

  12. Grant

    “What they’re doing is watching to see whether or not they can trust that individual, and Mike Pence did extraordinarily well in that. He never got agitated. He never got flustered”

    My god is this mind blowing. Do you not base whether or not you trust someone based on how honest they are? I am not a fan of Harris, but Pence lied left and right. I mean, how do these people buy used cars? If someone is nice and doesn’t get flustered, do they just trust the salesperson? Who has this type of faith in politicians based on their demeaner? My god, sociopaths would be the best as lying and remaining calm. No wonder people make such horrible decisions when voting. I always hear people say that it is a citizen’s duty to vote. But, that isn’t entirely true. If anything, a person should research stuff and try their best to be informed. If you don’t pay attention and vote based on this type of stuff, you aren’t doing the country a favor. Just sit an election out until you have the time to put some effort into a little bit of research and critical thinking. Anyone that trusts a monster like Pence based on that criteria is silly.

    1. Duck1

      Well, Bush 2 was the epitome of a guy you would like to drink a beer with (even though he was an ex-alcoholic). So, you know, Americans–or at least American political commentators–are a bit shallow, shall we say?

      1. Janie

        Heck, someone I know voted for W in 2000 because she thought his mother seemed nice (!) and didn’t want her to be disappointed. Top that!

      2. The Rev Kev

        The media helps out here. Through ‘swift-boating’, the message came out in the media that a guy who hid out in the Air National Guard to get out of going to ‘Nam until he wandered away out of boredom had a better ‘warrior’ record than a guy who actually got wounded in action in ‘Nam and received a Purple Heart, Silver Star & Bronze Star.
        ‘Thanks Corporate News. We couldn’t control the people without you.’


        1. Hepativore

          …and now said guy is a hero among liberals and the DNC for painting pictures of immigrants and regurgitating a few platitudes despite his administration starting never-ending wars under the AUMF, creating the Patriot Act, the torture program, FISA, expanding the police state, tax cuts for billionaires and austerity for everyone else to name a few things…

          Yet somehow Trump is teh worst presdent EVAARR!

          It is amazing how the mainstream discourse has forgotten the W. Bush years and the damage we are still suffering from it as a result. I guess it is because Trump says the quiet part out loud while the corporate media could run with W. Bush’s facade of being a lovable goofball.

    2. LibrarianGuy

      Ad hominem criticisms are easy, but . . . I grew up in Illinois, Indiana is backwards, but not as entirely backwards as Pence. The guy has all the liveliness and charisma of a department store dummy.

      And insane religious beliefs, he’s a sort of Witchfinder General and scourge of the little ladies who have to be beat down to respect the menfolk. I think he is honestly sincere in believing we should live according to Leviticus and the Bronze Age strictures that little Ben Shapiro so successfully shills in the 21st century. If one is to believe the Gospels (which I don’t encourage people to do, in general) his Messiah railed against the religious orthodoxy of his time, threw the money changers out of the Temple and told people not to be stiff-ass hypocrites and pray in public. Pence has evidently never heard (much less practiced) any of the preceding.

      When I hear that people find the likes of Pence, Hillary, Baby Bush or any of the other losers likable or relatable, “would like to have a beer with them,” I despair for the US public and understand why this country is the falling-apart, idiocratic Empire we currently see.

    3. wadge22

      Honest question:
      What if youre dumb?
      Ive known some people in each of my several contrasting walks of life for whom critical thinking and/or reading based research was not their strong suit, and wasnt gonna be. Some of them were good people. Shouldnt they get to vote, too? Do they have to sit all the elections out, till theyre more capable?

      Me, I see a drastic reduction in the quality of the debates and the discussion around them. It doesnt make me upset at bad voters.

      1. jr

        In a better world, they would have a received a solid education, including critical thinking instruction. That’s what a liberal education offers. That doesn’t happen anymore.

        You don’t have to be dumb to be deluded or misinformed. For that matter, you don’t have to be smart to be credentialed. I live in a neighborhood with some of the highest rates of elite education, tier one test scores, etc. in the world. The baristas have masters degrees, no joke. The levels of delusion and misinformation are off the charts. The ranks of dumbf*(ks are wide and deep.

    4. Pookah Harvey

      Democracy… is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder; and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike.

  13. Harold

    Love the black-eyed susans and Japanese anemones — and fern! So wonderful! Clematis leaves in background? Can’t quite tell. Must be pretty in all seasons, if so.

  14. JohnMinMN

    Lambert, would you finish your comment on the Marketwatch link?

    Of course, if we lived in a fascist regime (as the term is commonly understood, Slaoui

    1. CuriosityConcern

      My guess as to what he’d write is this:
      […] would not be able to delay release of vaccines prior to the election.

  15. Pookah Harvey

    One of the most interesting tidbits from the video “President Trump’s Covid-19 Diagnosis: Implications for Transmission, Treatment, and Prognosis” is at around 11:15 when one of the physicians describes a Chinese study that showed wearing eyeglasses decreased hospitalization from Covid-19 13 fold. There is an advantage to being 4 eyed.

  16. Darthbobber

    While Pennsylvania has no statewide ballot questions, there are some in Philadelphia. One of which is to end stop and frisk, another to authorize City Council to set up an independent police review board.

  17. crittermom

    > Swing States

    My penny’s worth?

    I don’t get out much and live rurally in southern Colorado, but from my very limited encounters I’d say abortion seems to be the hot button among those I’ve encountered. I’ve no doubt you’ve nailed the others, too, but abortion is the only one I hear about.

    When traveling 50 miles away recently, I was shocked to see Trump signs in abundance, whether they were in yards, cow pastures, or crop lands. It seemed they were everywhere. (Not one Biden sign, which did not surprise me)

    On a more recent excursion two days ago and within 15 miles of ‘home’, my eyes were once again assaulted with the same.

    I really hadn’t expected that here in Colorado. Especially in the tiny town where we receive our mail. It seems more ‘quirky’, with many artists and a live theatre.

    What surprises me most, I suppose, are the businesses who proudly display their loyalty. That would give me pause in patronizing them, and I should think it would others, but according to the large amount of LARGE signs for Trump I saw, apparently it serves them well.

    I’m surrounded and can’t escape!

    1. Lex

      In northern Colorado Trump/Pence signs are rare. In our neighborhood those brave enough to put out their Trump/Pence sign wake up in the morning to find it gone. There are a few Biden/Harris signs that have somehow lasted. I have yet to see a third party sign of any kind.

      What’s weird here is the political silence. It was raucous four years ago.

      Colorado will likely go for the Biden ticket…. but we’ll see.

    2. edmondo

      I knew that Hills was in trouble when I drove from New Jersey to Ohio in 2016 and the only place I saw her signs was in Philly. By the time I got to Harrisburg, they were painting the entire side of their barns with Ill Duce’s name on it.

    3. Clark

      > crittermom at 1700h.

      I love Colorado and have gone there every late summer and fall for solo hiking trips (except for this year). I assume you are describing political conditions east of the ranges. In the mountains, from what I’ve seen, Salida or Leadville are not Trump territory — but, OTO, there’s BV. So I could be completely wrong about this. … I’ve spent a lot of time in Westcliffe, which is tiny but provides easy access to the east side of the Sangres. But I was very surprised one time when I wanted to buy a pipe, and was told by the clerk at a small store that the “town fathers” (he really said that!) had passed an ordinance forbidding the sale of smoking paraphernalia … Long winded point, which is that CO is a very, um, diverse state.

  18. Yik Wong

    AOC & black panthers. Per Ben Norton at Greyzone, She campaigned on supporting Puerto Rico, dropped that right after election, ie typical grifter. If Mama Bear gets re-elected, likely, she’ll pull her leash and AOC will go quietly into the grift known as the Green New Deal (and it’s a grift if Exxon is there)..

    1. Pookah Harvey

      “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: U.S. Should Cancel Debt of ‘Invaded’ Colony Puerto Rico”; Breitbart 27 Jul 2018

      “Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez Call for Reversal of Puerto Rico Austerity Measures”; Itercept September 24 2019

      “Puerto Rico, not Congress, must determine its future. Our bill enables it do so” By Rep. Nydia Velázquez and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
      NBCnews Aug. 25, 2020

    2. Darthbobber

      I assume you’re equating “supporting Puerto Rico” with supporting specifically the aims of the pro-statehood party, regardless of the will of the Puerto Rican people. Because that’s the only way your statement makes sense.

      The last referendum that wasn’t boycotted by all but the ruling party was anti-statehood.

  19. SlayTheSmaugs

    Mail ballot processing pre-election day needn’t be fraught–not even mail ballot counting–one or both are commonly done in many states. Wisconsin in particular, though, may be a mail ballot nightmare because a) normally people vote in person (the change to mail this election is on an order of magnitude) and new mail voters make the most mistakes, b) the ballot envelope needs both the voter’s signature and a witness signature and the witness’ address, so lots of room for error, c) the state has a discretionary process (discretion of county election official) to tell voters of issues and let them fix them through close of polls; d) the ballot deadline is close of polls on election day rather than postmarked by election day, and while that’s good for more timely results, it’s bad for voters who don’t mail their ballots early enough (and it’s hard to know how early is enough). Also, normally there’s not a big partisan divide on who votes by mail, but this election there is, so if a lot of mail ballots are invalidated that’s probably pro-R. Also, there’s no retro-active rule changing, but there’s been plenty of effort to pro-actively change rules through litigation. In WI, today the Seventh Circuit ruled for the R Legislature and against the DNC (yes they were the plaintiffs) and blocked the trial court order from taking effect. That order would’ve changed the ballot return deadline from received by close of polls to postmarked by Election Day and received by 11/9, among other changes, but b/c of today’s appellate decision, it won’t take effect for November. (Unless reversed en banc, don’t know if that appeal’s been filed, and reversal’s unlikely, or at the supremes, and ditto.)

    1. Stillfeelinthebern

      The clerks in Wisconsin do everything they can to help people who do not complete the 3 things needed on the absentee ballot envelope. As the ballots come in they look at them and contact the voter if there is a problem.

      I work the polls in a mid sized city. Usually we process about 200-400 absentee ballots. It’s done during the day in the quieter time. We see every absentee ballot, In my 4 years of working the polls, I’ve seen 1or 2 rejected because of the outside envelope.

      We do have ballots that the machine will not take because of “over voting”. This only happens (and infrequently) during primaries because our ballots have all parties on them and not all people understand that you only vote for one party.

      The majority of rejected ballots envelopes in my city are coming from nursing homes. Much of this is due to cognitive decline. You can see this in the stats as the rejected ballots are recorded for every ward. In my city, it is always the ward with the most nursing homes (they are clustered)

      We never have any trouble processing our absentee ballots during the day. Yes, this November probably will be the most we have ever seen, but every absentee ballot is a voter that does not show up in person. It’s a wash on how much time it takes. Actually, I think it might be faster to process an absentee ballot. The places where they are not processing during the day are under staffed. They need to hire more workers. What really takes a long long time is registering people to vote at the polls on Election Day. Same day registration is why there are lines. We need a dedicated person for that During the Presidential Election. Other elections? We may do 10-20 max for the whole 13 hrs.

      What is really harmful is the uncertainty about what the rules will be. As of today we are back to the normal rules which is 8pm on Election Day. When the clerks(and people like me who are assisting voters) can’t tell people what the rules are, there is massive confusion.

      People should just VOTE, NOW. You can track your ballot online. You can call your clerk and ask if they have it. The ballots are available 45 days before the election! All the disinformation about the postal system has too many people who should just vote absentee waiting to go the the polls because they buy into the BS about the post office. We’re surging in COVID cases. It’s safer for poll workers to just process absentee ballots.

  20. Annus Horribilis

    Pulp Diction. Vice President Pence is a human shiv sticking America’s kidney, whispering about a vendetta paid in full. His cowboy rectitude is pantomime, the flecktarn duck blind confusing recognition by taking shape one moment, effacing the next. The President’s central casting found in Pence the embodiment of a shove from behind while the ref is looking the other way. Senator Harris reminds us that the responsibility of running cities increasingly falls on the capable shoulders of black and Latino women. Everybody else is playing either fatuous or malignant games.

  21. fresno dan

    The HICAP program manager is moving to another state. She was only there 2 years or so (the pay does not incent long term careerism) but I find myself overwhelmed with sadness. Must be old age catching up with me.

    1. flora

      T seems to be doing a rerun of his 2016 campaign, even as he’s become more like the GOP candidates that he then despised in 2016. T seems to get his energy and his understanding of the polity and their ideas from his (now thanks to covid nonexistant) campaign crowds. No campaign crowds, no current ideas. So he’s doing a rerun. It isn’t working. Maybe being locked up with the likes of Larry Kudlow isn’t a winner. /heh

        1. fresno dan

          October 8, 2020 at 7:33 pm

          We saw that scene and worse in the “Access Hollywood” tapes – irrefutable evidence of how Trump thinks and behaves…and the American public’s reaction was “meh”

      1. shtove

        Trump has always “pushed the envelope”… across the desk to the public planning officer, with a double tap of his finger tips: “Open it. You’ll be amazed!”

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Yes, if the leaders of an outgoing administration try to overturn the results of an election by using campaign funds to fabricate evidence and then use that fabricated evidence to get the intelligence agencies to doctor up supposedly treasonous crimes by the incoming administration…well we wouldn’t want to arrest them or anything, would we?

      If we can’t, won’t, or don’t prosecute that, well then it’s over. Happy to entertain any and all counter-arguments to that. If this is the precedent we’re all agreeing to…then just wait and see what the next abuse will be. And Oops! There will be not a single solitary thing you can do about it. You OK with that? I’m not, but I’m just an old-fashioned guy who thinks attempts to overthrow the government by extra-electoral means should be, I dunno, punished. Silly me.

      1. RMO

        The US has overthrown many other governments by extra-electoral means and no one has been prosecuted for that – so I’m not too surprised that it’s starting to be at home as well.

        I kind of lost most of my hope for justice when starting a war of aggression (the supreme war crime), torturing people (often innocent people, often to death), shredding the Constitution and blowing up the global economy didn’t result in prosecutions for those who caused those things. Not only weren’t they punished they at minimum didn’t suffer any career setbacks and at maximum were richly rewarded for it.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          So, in your view, it’s already over. A world of men, and not of laws.

          If those are the new rules, then Trump really should just stay in the White House. Make the men in the military make their choices. Maybe give them a choice of blue or grey uniforms.

          In a situation like this there are two groups: the cynical realists and the chumps. The chumps are the ones who continue to abide by the old rules. Why should Trump be a chump? The Dems gave him everything he needs to justify not abiding by the election results. He now should have no fear whatsoever of being prosecuted for that.

    3. albrt

      I agree Biden, Obama and Clinton should be arrested. For war crimes. Along with every other U.S. President, Vice President, and Secretary of State since at least 2003, and numerous other high U.S. officials.

      Oh wait, I guess that wasn’t what Trump was talking about.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Come to think of it, if Biden gets in then the 25th Amendment could be used by Pelosi to get a fellow Californian into the top job once the dust settles.

    2. albrt

      I wonder if they are even going to wait for the election to get rid of Joe by more direct means.

      Honestly, I would vote for Harris if she has the nerve to do it. She’s the only non-war criminal on either ticket.

      1. Pat

        That depends on how limited your definition of “war” is. If you include class war in your definition she is most certainly a war criminal. Her self serving choice to decline to prosecute Mnuchin and Herbalife, her refusal to deal with prison overcrowding, and so on These choices leave a wave of destruction and abuse in their wake.

  22. VietnamVet

    If my memory is right this is the first time there is air between Joe Biden and Donald Trump in the electoral vote count. It must be due to the first October Surprise; Donald Trump being hospitalized.

    Coronavirus is similar but different to the Spanish Flu that killed two of my eight Great Grandparents. Both Presidents became ill, hundreds of thousands of Americans died. The Spanish Flu came and went and memory of it buried. But Donald Trump is doing everything in his power to be reelected. Woodrow Wilson had a stroke and was disabled is last years in office.

    The American tragedy is that there is way to control the virus; restore the public health system and can the for-profit exploitative US healthcare system. It can be done. Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, Cuba, Thailand, China and New Zealand did it. All that it is needed is a functional government. But, with less than a month left, one vote is for the reelection of chaos – the continuation the Pandemic Depression until if and when there is a treatment/vaccine. The other is plaintive hope for the return of a working White House.

    At least in Maryland, I am free to vote for the Green Party to try to reach 5% and force the Democrats to recognize Progressives or be discarded like the Whigs once government by and for the people is restored.

    1. Swamp Yankee

      VietnamVet, I recognize you from Sic Semper Tyrannis, Col. Lang’s blog; I agree with your comment and was curious, on another topic, what you think of the Colonel’s blog as of late. I always found him, you know, a pretty reactionary guy domestically, but lately he’s just become unreadable for me. Still, some of the foreign/defense stuff I find worthwhile. But it seems like he’s been watching a lot of FOX/Fox Business with his talk about Kamala Harris as a Bolshevik (ha!).

      1. VietnamVet

        Colonel Lang was correct about the Iraq Invasion and still is very informative on the Middle East. But I skim read his blog now. My last comment there on the pandemic he sarcastically replied that I was way too negative. He says he dealt with Joe Biden, the Senator, and obviously hates him. If I commented now and he posted it, he’d likely call me a communist.

        Being in lockdown since February, I think most everybody is going stir crazy. I am too old with comorbidities. It is a big deal. The anxiety and chaos are reflected in all the blog comments and even in the Amtrak list group that I read. This is because of the pandemic, economic uncertainty, and two obvious unqualified candidates for President in next month’s election. Both are likely not make one bit of difference. The wealthy are making out like bandits, raiding the middle class.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          Thanks for your response — you’re absolutely right, he’s a good read on his area of expertise still. The domestic red-baiting has gotten to be a bit much for me, but like you say, a skim is worthwhile. The stuff from Patrick Armstrong on Russia is often very informative.

          Yeah, I will vote for Biden as the lesser of two evils, esp. on the environment, but without any illusions about who he really is (as most NCers are not under). I see collapse/breakup more likely in the medium-long term than pulling a Hail Mary out of our hats and saving everything.

          But who knows, I could be wrong, I have been before. Hope you’re taking care of yourself and staying safe and healthy!

      2. Kurt Sperry

        Anyone who confuses Democrats with Bolsheviks, Trots, commies or socialists has completely lost their grip on reality. Completely. How can someone in such a deranged and profoundly delusional state make sense on *anything*?

        1. Swamp Yankee

          Yeah, it does have a sort of split personality quality — but he still seems to have his senses when it comes to the Middle East or Russia. Then it just goes downhill when you hit these shores….

        2. hunkerdown

          Diligence against interest is one of those transferable skills that doesn’t suit a corrupt society.

          Actually, a good case could be made that Democrats are a Leninist cadre party, functionally. Reactionaries intentionally conflate methods and goals in a misleading fashion because there’s no other way to rationalize their own predation as something not a crime against humanity. On matters of predation, predators can be valuable consultants, but that doesn’t diminish the core nature of their relation to society. Lang *is* a predator no different from Buffalo Bill aside from the length and holder of the leash around his neck.

          I mean, that level of derangement is pretty normal when everything one sees around oneself is a simulacrum made out of priority access to all the world’s resources and assembled by a labor force subordinated to you. That derangement, and the corruption inherent to differential material sufficiency, make a pretty good argument against the very existence of middle classes, especially of the professional-managerial sort. Better to put PMCs of every color in the fields for six months of every year and make them humble.

  23. Lost in OR

    I’m so old I remember when Stephen Colbert was funny–

    I’ve always found Colbert to be lowbrow.

    Steven Colbert is to Jon Stewart
    Geraldo Rivera was to Dick Cavett

  24. Jeff W

    I forget which reader flagged this regular seriess of presentations, but take a bow, whoever you are!

    It was, of course, juliana, here in the piece on the CDC on 22 September. Credit where credit is due.

  25. Pat

    Heard on the bus: “they both seemed shady”.

    In a sane nation, the populace would take one look at the top tickets of the two major parties and go: “none of them should be anywhere near the White House even as tourists, family blog you Michelle Obama the only real choice is to vote third party/write in for President.”

    The future is bleak. Four more years of Trump Derangement Syndrome and the accompanying press incitement for profit, or Biden bloopers and policy whiplash as everything offensive goes back to business as usual. Not sure where the professional class will brunch at under President Biden, but the toasts to atrocities that were fascism in 2020, but brilliant leadership in 2021 will be vomit worthy either way.

  26. Clem

    “How Kamala Harris beat the stereotypes during her historic VP debate”

    Certainly not comfortable in her skin. Very few black or partially black women look that well made up. Those teeth! No gradation of light to darker as in natural teeth, top to bottom. That’s $250,000 of Hollywood dentistry. The voice lessons bleed through. Two entire cans of Aquanet hairspray there? No wonder the fly rejected her head.

    Mike Pence? Normal guy short haircut, the same one he’s had all his life, with the grey. Watch the debate with the sound off for another view of their internal reality.

  27. sandy lawrence

    That “something else, with delicate pink petals” is Japanese Anemone, maybe ‘September Charm’?
    Haven’t read comments yet, so if this is a repeat, please excuse!

  28. John Anthony La Pietra

    Michigan Proposal 2, on banning warrantless searches of electronic devices, was sponsored by a Republican state senator — but it has support from the North Oakland [County] Democrats as well as my own Green Party of Michigan. Oh, and the Michigan ACLU too. And there is still apparently no organized opposition. I don’t think that one’s too controversial.

    There might be more chance of a hot button with Michigan Proposal 1, which would play some games with how two state funds (related to parks and wild lands) could be spent. It has backing from DYE Energy and several “Big Green” groups — but not the state Sierra Club. We Greens are opposing this one too, as are the North Oakland Dems (and the state Democrats’ Environmental Caucus, though as of this writing BallotPedia doesn’t list them as opponents).

    But what might turn this button hot is if this endorsement gets out. . . .

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