2:00PM Water Cooler 11/13/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Friday the 13th, hoo boy! A bit more from the Augean stables coming shortly… –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Owls seem to be really hard to record, for some reason.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

Case count by United States region:

Test positivity by region:

Case fatality rate by region:

We’ll need to watch this to see if it changes with the increased case count.

Hospitalization by region:


“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

Election Legitimacy

“Karl Rove: Trump lawsuits won’t change election’s outcome” [The HIll]. “Election analysts have said Biden’s margins are too large to make a material difference in several of the states in which Trump is mounting challenges. ‘There is no evidence of that so far,’ Rove wrote. ‘Unless some emerges quickly, the President’s chances in court will decline precipitously when states start certifying results.’ Rove, who served in former President George W. Bush’s administration and appears regularly as a political analyst on Fox News, said Trump and his team have a right to ensure every vote in the election was legally cast. [Rove called for] Trump to concede the election once all of his legal options have been exhausted.” • And Rove should know…

PA: “Pennsylvania Court Tosses Some Mail-In Ballots With ID Fixes” [Bloomberg]. “Pennsylvania mail-in voters who took advantage of a deadline extension to provide missing proof of identification won’t have their ballots counted in the final tally. Commonwealth Court Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt ruled Thursday that Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar lacked the authority to extend the original Nov. 9 deadline for proof of ID by 3 days. The ruling means the battleground state that’s already been declared for President-elect Joe Biden can’t count ballots from voters who submitted missing identification between Nov. 10 and Nov. 12. Ballots with “cured” ID issues received before that aren’t being challenged…. It’s not clear how many ballots fit that bill, though state officials have said suits over defective ballots can’t change the outcome of the race, in which Biden had a lead on Thursday of 55,978 votes.”

“No, Dominion voting machines did not delete Trump votes.” [New York Times]. • if one of the outcomes of the 2020 election is legitimating (private equity-made, unauditable) ballot marking devices, I’m gonna cut the soles of my shoes, sit up in a tree, and learn to play the flute.

“REPORT: Dominion Voting Systems Didn’t Cause Voter Fraud In Michigan Or Georgia” [Daily Caller]. ”

2020 Democrats in Disarray

That’s why they pay consultants the big bucks (1):

That’s why they pay consultants the big bucks (2):

Stop saying “stop saying”:

UPDATE And people ask me why I think “Democratic” Party is a misnomer:

“Elissa Slotkin Braces for a Democratic Civil War” [Politico]. Slotkin should know; she’s a CIA Democrat. “She fears that Democrats have created a barrier to entry, largely along cultural lines, that makes the party fundamentally unwelcoming to anyone with supposedly retrograde views of the world around them. This is not merely about race and racism. The schisms go far deeper, to matters of faith and conscience, economic freedom and individual liberty. Indeed, for the heavy losses Trump sustained among affluent college-educated whites, he nearly won a second term because of his gains with Black and brown voters. That these Americans were willing to support Trump, often in spite of his rhetoric, reveals an uncomfortable truth for the left.” • I can’t think of another publication that more relentlessly confuses liberals and left than Politico. And I’m noticing CIA Democrats all over my Twitter feed lately. Odd.

“Joe Biden’s Likely Pick to Lead His Party” [The Atlantic]. Wait, let me guess. A loser. Yep: “there’s only one name on leading Democrats’ list for Democratic National Committee chair: Jaime Harrison, who lost a race for U.S. Senate in South Carolina last week…. Harrison became nationally known this year during his run against Senator Lindsey Graham, as he set fundraising records and became a cause for Democrats far beyond his state. Graham ultimately won by a much-wider-than-expected 10-point margin… Harrison has the support of James Clyburn….” • And he’s not just a loser, he’s worked for the Podesta Group: “His clients at the Podesta Group included banks, such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo, Berkshire Hathaway, pharmaceutical companies, casinos, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, and Walmart.” He’s perfect!

Biden Transition

“One Third of Biden’s Pentagon Transition Team Hails From Organizations Financed by the Weapons Industry” [In These Times]. “Of the 23 peo­ple who com­prise the Depart­ment of Defense agency review team, eight of them — or just over a third — list their ​”most recent employ­ment” as orga­ni­za­tions, think tanks or com­pa­nies that either direct­ly receive mon­ey from the weapons indus­try, or are part of this indus­try.” • Shocker!

UPDATE “Biden chooses a White House chief who ‘matches this moment'” [The Hill]. “Though Klain has advised many of the Democratic Party’s senior leaders, he has always been close to Biden, beginning in 1988 when he worked as a speechwriter on Biden’s first presidential campaign… He has served as a chief of staff to former Vice President Al Gore, then as the chief counsel leading Gore’s legal strategy during the 2000 recount…. As the economy cratered during the transition between administrations, Obama delegated the implementation of the recovery package to his vice president and to Klain.” • Wait. Wait. The 1988 Biden campaign was the one where Biden plagiarized a speech, and Gore’s legal strategy in the Florida 2000 recount was a debacle, as was Obama’s recovery program. So hold onto your hats. To be fair, this:

[Klain rejoined the administration] manage the American response to the worst outbreak of the Ebola virus in modern history in three impoverished West African countries.

Klain had no experience managing a public health crisis or with the Ebola virus. But he was an expert in the machinations of a leviathan government, and how to work its levers to speed implementation of White House decisions that needed to be executed immediately.

For six months, Klain and his small team worked out of a prime office suite in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building overlooking the White House. He managed sometimes warring factions of America’s crisis management infrastructure, from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to help bring the virus under control overseas and to prepare the nation’s hospitals for a domestic outbreak that never materialized.

I had thought Klain had some public health expertise, but no; he’s a fixer. (This is also the liberal Democrat concept of “leadership”: working the levels. “Fundamentally, nothing will change.”) I’m not sure if experience managing Ebola translates to experience managing Covid; perhaps some of epidemiologists can comment.


Trump (R)(1): “Why Trump’s Suburban Strategy Failed” [Bloomberg]. “While the majority of White women voted for Trump in 2020, even more so than in 2016, pre-election polling suggested that suburban women were likely to be among his largest defectors. There are likely a number of a reasons for this, but one of them is that Trump’s strategy fundamentally misunderstood the suburbanites he was talking to. Many White suburbanites already had Black and brown neighbors that Trump told them to fear, shared similar concerns around the lives lost to Covid-19, and had protests over anti-Black police violence happening right outside their doorsteps. Many were unconvinced that low-income housing would result in crime or falling property values and supported racially integrated neighborhoods. In the battleground suburbs of Minneapolis and Wisconsin, polls showed that White women were not particularly concerned about affordable housing in their backyards. In the Philadelphia suburbs, Trump’s rhetoric on race galvanized White suburban women to organize against him. In Portland, White suburban moms and dads came out with leaf blowers to keep police from attacking Black and brown protesters.”

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“Why pollsters missed the election results so badly” [The National Journal]. “Of all the embarrassing polling misses in the 2020 election, the biggest disconnect between polling and reality came from the House-race landscape. The consensus among the top electoral handicappers was that Republicans would lose 10-15 House seats, with all the late movement benefiting Democrats. Instead, Republicans are on track to net at least seven House seats, and may end up winning as many as 13 Democratic-held seats when all the votes are counted. It’s likely that not a single House Republican will lose reelection. That’s a whopping error that can’t be dismissed lightly…. While polling from partisans can certainly be cherry-picked to push a favorable narrative, there was a remarkable degree of consensus between what Republican and Democratic congressional campaign operatives were seeing this year. Their major takeaway: Republicans were going to get wiped out in the suburbs, particularly in affluent, conservative-leaning Southern and Midwestern districts that had long been Republican strongholds…. the House results give credence to an alternative view, outlined in a compelling article by political science professor Eric Kaufmann, arguing that “political correctness has left a cadre of white college graduates unwilling to reveal their voting intentions.” In the piece, he offers evidence that there is a shy Trump vote coming not from white working-class MAGA supporters but rather from affluent Republican-leaning voters in the suburbs afraid to share their views on politics and hot-button cultural issues in public.” • Predatory precarity!

UPDATE “How Did Trump Do in Counties That Backed Him in 2016?” [New York Times]. One of those horrid interactive things the Times does more and more, but still useful: “But a vast majority of the counties that swung hard for Mr. Trump in 2016 continued to firmly support him this year, or shifted even further to the right.”

UPDATE “Democrats Can’t Blame the Left for Their Lackluster Election Results” [Jacobin]. “Had Democrats delivered the landslide many were promising right up until election day, it’s not difficult to imagine the conclusions that would have ensued. Having defeated Bernie Sanders’s insurgent campaign for the Democratic nomination and run the pathologically centrist Biden in his place, centrists would have viewed the result as ultimate proof of the Left’s irrelevance. We all know, of course, that the election yielded nothing of the kind…. As both Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have argued, no fewer than a hundred twelve House cosponsors of Medicare for All stood for election and not a single one lost (at least eight Democratic House members who ran against Medicare for All, meanwhile, were defeated). Of the Green New Deal’s ninety-three cosponsors, ninety-two will be returning to Congress in January. As Ben Burgis points out, left-wing organizing work in states like Michigan also played a significant role in ensuring Biden’s victory at the top of the ballot.”

UPDATE “LatinX-plaining the election” [The Pull Request]. “One day, it suddenly seemed like every upper-middle-class LatAm family had a bank account and a condo in Miami, and was sending their kids to FIU (the local state university, highest foreign enrollment in the US). Miami had gone from a provincial city of refuge to a cross between Vancouver and Singapore, but for Latin America instead of China… Which is why I was unsurprised with the election news about how Miami Cubans had broken ever harder right than usual, helping secure Florida for Trump. It’s exactly what I would have expected… The other ‘Latino’ shock of the election was the Texas border counties that flipped or otherwise showed huge GOP gains, sometimes more than 30%(!), in counties that are heavily (meaning close to 90%) Hispanic…. Firstly, concerns about the energy economy in the area drove much voting: Biden’s comments about eventually shuttering the oil industry in the debate did not go over well. And after that, the usual laundry list of typical political concerns, little distinguishable from other GOP voters: jobs, gun rights, jobs, abortion, jobs, religion, and once again, jobs. What most stuck out due to its absence in all these “why’d these counties go red?” pieces is the overarching issue that supposedly obsesses the Hispanic voter: immigration…. Only from the all-look-same perspective of the Anglo mainstream would American Hispanics, many of whom have been here for generations, somehow reflexively consider themselves in the same boat as undocumented migrants coming across the border.” • The whole piece is worth a read.

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AK: “Sullivan wins re-election in Alaska, taking U.S. Senate battle down to Georgia” [Reuters]. “U.S. Republican Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska won re-election, Edison Research and television networks projected on Wednesday, leaving control of the Senate to be determined in January by two runoff elections in Georgia.”

UPDATE AL “In the Weeds w/ Tommy Tuberville, Alabama’s next senator” [Alabama Daily News]. Tuberville: “[M]y dad fought 76 years ago in Europe to free Europe of Socialism.” • The whole interview is worth a read. Tuberville is being pilloried as an idiot, but his comments on staffing decisions are interesting. “[L]earn the fundamentals!” Here’s Tuberbville’s coaching record. “He is the only coach in Auburn football history to beat in-state rival Alabama six consecutive times.” So he’s got that going for him.

UPDATE CA: “And the winner is … real estate: Cali’s industry cleaned up on Election Day” [The Real Deal]. “After a year struggling to collect rent, show homes and get loans, the California real estate industry won big on Election Day. Voters defeated a ballot initiative that would have let cities and counties impose residential rent control. The margin of victory, 60 percent to 40 percent with nearly three-quarters of ballots counted as of noon Thursday, was decisive. Another measure, which sought to raise commercial property taxes, seemed headed for defeat with ‘no’ votes leading ‘yes’ 51.7 percent to 48.3 percent. And a ballot question financed by the California Association of Realtors to encourage home sales looks likely to pass. The current tally on Proposition 19 is 51.5 percent ‘yes’ and 48.5 percent ‘no.'”

UPDATE KY: “Hal Rogers’s Kentucky Kingdom” [Tarance Ray, Dissent]. “[A]s a former Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, the elite “College of Cardinals” that manages the government’s budget, and the ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, [Rogers is] one of the most powerful men in Washington…. Most people, when they think of powerful politicians from Kentucky, think of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who over the last decade or so has singlehandedly reshaped how Congress functions, and has all but ensured the prioritization of corporate interests within the federal judiciary. So you’re telling me there’s another powerful congressman from Kentucky who has control over virtually every aspect of my life? That is indeed what I’m telling you, my friend, and it’s no coincidence that both of these men come from the mostly rural state of Kentucky…. As the nation’s rural regions experienced deindustrialization, out-migration, drug-assisted suicide, or a combination of all the above over the last three or four decades, rural elites had to figure out a way to maintain control over their constituents. Many of them turned to Rogers’s example.” • This is must read; I can’t really excerpt it properly, it’s so dense.


“What is John Brennan So Worried About?” [Ray McGovern, Consortium News]. “Brennan appeared this week on both CNN and MSNBC to spread alarm about what Trump might do as he continues to contest the election results and appoints new people at Defense, NSA (and possibly CIA) who may do his bidding. Brennan warned on CNN that it was ‘very, very worrisome’ that Trump ‘is just very unpredictable now … like a cornered cat — tiger. And he’s going to lash out.’ Brennan told MSNBC he was worried that Trump has called for the ‘wholesale declassification of intelligence in order to further his own political interests.'” • You say “wholesale declassification of intelligence” like that’s a bad thing.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Young Democratic Socialist, progressive candidates sweep into office across Peninsula” [Mercury News]. “All across the Bay, socialist and progressive young people like Lopez led insurgent campaigns for local elected positions and won, including several against sitting council members and established community leaders that led to upsets. From Redwood City to Oakland to South San Francisco, grassroots campaigns brought together tenant activist groups, unions and local community movements and elected firmly left-wing candidates who promised to bring socialist and progressive ideas to city councils that have fallen out of favor with many low-income people facing difficult material realities in increasingly more gentrified communities…. The local South Bay [DSA] chapter …. — which boasts nearly 100,000 members — endorsed six candidates, with just two losing out.”

“Culture and Belonging in the USA” [Political Research Associates]. “Coming onto the scene in 2016, Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys are part of a trend of Far Right organizing that departs from their explicitly White nationalist contemporaries, and often fuses antiracist language into otherwise nationalist, misogynistic, libertarian, and xenophobic platforms. With people of color in positions of leadership and representing 10 percent9 of their August rally, the groups represent something substantively different from old-style White supremacism in terms of both ideology and organizing: what scholars and journalists refer to as the Multiracial Far Right. The emergence of this new bloc raises several questions. First, why are people of multiracial backgrounds gravitating to Far Right groups? Further, is this a new phenomenon or is there historical precedent for this sort of unlikely partnership? Finally, if racial exclusion isn’t the ultimate glue that binds this sector of Far Right groups together, how are these groups “transcending” race, and what issues continue to be fault lines within their movement?”

UPDATE “The Next Decade Could Be Even Worse” [The Atlantic]. “The year 2020 has been kind to Turchin, for many of the same reasons it has been hell for the rest of us. Cities on fire, elected leaders endorsing violence, homicides surging—­­to a normal American, these are apocalyptic signs. To Turchin, they indicate that his models, which incorporate thousands of years of data about human history, are working. (“Not all of human history,” he corrected me once. “Just the last 10,000 years.”) He has been warning for a decade that a few key social and political trends portend an “age of discord,” civil unrest and carnage worse than most Americans have experienced. In 2010, he predicted that the unrest would get serious around 2020, and that it wouldn’t let up until those social and political trends reversed. Havoc at the level of the late 1960s and early ’70s is the best-case scenario; all-out civil war is the worst. The fundamental problems, he says, are a dark triad of social maladies: a bloated elite class, with too few elite jobs to go around; declining living standards among the general population; and a government that can’t cover its financial positions.” • Interesting read. I’m not sure how good Turchin’s data really is; in fact, the whole concept of representing history as fielded data strikes me as odd. Mike Duncan comments:

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.

Consumer Sentiment: “Preliminary November 2020 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Significantly Declines Due To Republican Consumers” [Econintersect]. “Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin, makes the following comments: ‘Consumer sentiment fell in early November as consumers judged future economic prospects less favorably, while their assessments of current economic conditions remained largely unchanged. The outcome of the presidential election as well as the resurgence in covid infections and deaths were responsible for the early November decline. Interviews conducted following the election recorded a substantial negative shift in the Expectations Index among Republicans, but recorded no gain among Democrats. It is likely that Democrats’ fears about the covid resurgence offset gains in economic expectations: 59% of Democrats reported that their normal life had changed to a great extent due to the coronavirus compared with just 34% among Republicans. The gap in expectations closed somewhat due to the coronavirus and the partisan shift in expectations that began well before the election. Note that Republicans now voice the least favorable economic expectations since Trump took office, and Democrats have voiced more positive expectations….

Inflation: “October 2020 Producer Price Final Demand Continues To Show Little Year-over-Year Growth” [Econintersect]. “Year-over-year inflation pressures remain soft as this index is barely in expansion.”

* * *


Dry Bulk Market Receives Boost From US Election Outcome Hellenic Shipping News

Tech: “macOS Big Sur launch appears to cause temporary slowdown in even non-Big Sur Macs” [Ars Technica]. “Mac users today began experiencing unexpected issues that included apps taking minutes to launch, stuttering and non-responsiveness throughout macOS, and other problems. The issues seemed to begin close to the time when Apple began rolling out the new version of macOS, Big Sur—but it affected users of other versions of macOS, like Catalina and Mojave… It didn’t take long for some Mac users to note that trustd—a macOS process responsible for checking with Apple’s servers to confirm that an app is notarized—was attempting to contact a host named ocsp.apple.com but failing repeatedly. This resulted in systemwide slowdowns as apps attempted to launch, among other things.” • Reflections on trusting trustd–

Tech: “Your Computer Isn’t Yours” [Jeffrey Paul]. “On modern versions of macOS, you simply can’t power on your computer, launch a text editor or eBook reader, and write or read, without a log of your activity being transmitted and stored…. It turns out that in the current version of the macOS, the OS sends to Apple a hash (unique identifier) of each and every program you run, when you run it. Lots of people didn’t realize this, because it’s silent and invisible and it fails instantly and gracefully when you’re offline, but today the server got really slow and it didn’t hit the fail-fast code path, and everyone’s apps failed to open if they were connected to the internet…. The day that Stallman and Doctorow have been warning us about has arrived this week. It’s been a slow and gradual process, but we are finally here.” • Not really news, but clearly and forcefully put.=




macOS 11 Big Sur now available, here’s what’s new for your Mac

Mr. Market: “Pfizer vaccine news sparks $44.5 billion flood into the stock market—its biggest weekly inflow ever, says BofA” [MarketWatch]. ” How seismic was the stock-market move that kicked off the week following news of effective coronavirus vaccine candidate? It was the best week ever for inflows, according to BofA Global Research, in a report dated Thursday but released broadly on Friday. The investment management firm reported some $44.5 billion in flows into equity funds for the week, exceeding a flood of funds that poured into stocks back near the spring of 2018. About $38.7 billion of investor funds were pumped into exchange-traded funds, while $5.7 billion flowed into mutual funds. Investors also reduced their cash holdings by $17.8 billion, according to the report led by Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist. Meanwhile, the analysts noted that flows into government bonds yielding less than 0% surged to around $17 trillion, approaching the highest since late 2019.” • $17 trillion! That’s real money!

Mr. Market

These stocks have the most to gain from a vaccine, according to UBS analysis CNBC

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 55 Neutral (previous close: 56 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 40 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 13 at 12:38pm.

The Biosphere

“Using Wolves as First Responders Against a Deadly Brain Disease” [New York Times]. • Will it work in the Beltway?

Health Care

“‘Breakthrough Finding’ Reveals Why Certain COVID Patients Die” [Kaiser Health News]. “In an international study in Science, 10% of nearly 1,000 COVID patients who developed life-threatening pneumonia had antibodies that disable key immune system proteins called interferons. These antibodies — known as autoantibodies because they attack the body itself — were not found at all in 663 people with mild or asymptomatic COVID infections. Only four of 1,227 healthy individuals had the autoantibodies. The study, published on Oct. 23, was led by the COVID Human Genetic Effort, which includes 200 research centers in 40 countries. Significantly, patients didn’t make autoantibodies in response to the virus. Instead, they appeared to have had them before the pandemic even began, said Paul Bastard, the antibody study’s lead author, also a researcher at Rockefeller University. For reasons that researchers don’t understand, the autoantibodies never caused a problem until patients were infected with COVID-19, Bastard said. Somehow, the novel coronavirus, or the immune response it triggered, appears to have set them in motion. ‘Before COVID, their condition was silent,’ Bastard said. “Most of them hadn’t gotten sick before.”

“Fewer people say they would take a COVID-19 vaccine now than 3 months ago” [World Economic Forum]. “But this latest World Economic Forum-Ipsos survey shows that confidence in taking a COVID-19 vaccine has dropped since August, with fewer people globally saying they’d get one. The survey shows that on average, across 15 countries, 73% of adults strongly or somewhat agree with the statement “if a vaccine for COVID-19 were available, I would get it”. 3 months ago, that figure was 77%. At the time, the shortfall in vaccine confidence was significant enough to be seen to compromise the effectiveness of seeing an end to the pandemic. Confidence is now down by 4 points compared to three months ago. Vaccination intent has declined in 10 of the 15 countries, most of all China, Australia, Spain, and Brazil. More than four in five in India, mainland China, South Korea, and Brazil, however, say they would get a vaccine if available – compared to just over half in France and about two in three in the US, Spain, Italy, South Africa, Japan, and Germany.”

“Poorer nations face vaccine wait as West locks down supply” [Agence France Presse]. “Hailed this week as a pandemic game-changer, the new Covid-19 vaccine offered countries that had pre-ordered doses a potential escape from a cycle of lockdowns and new waves of sickness and death. But while richer nations plan their vaccination programmes through the end of 2021, experts warn that poorer and developing countries face hurdles that could deny billions the first proven protection against the coronavirus. Vaccine developers Pfizer and BioNTech plan to roll out the first doses within weeks, once they receive emergency use permissions from drug agencies. They expect to have 1.3 billion doses ready next year. The results of phase 3 clinical trials showed their mRNA vaccine was 90 percent effective in preventing Covid-19 symptoms and did not produce adverse side effects among thousands of volunteers.” • They didn’t effing “show it.” A press release asserted it. We haven’t seen any data.

“Pathfinder: Alabama health officer Dr. Scott Harris on a mission to guide state through COVID crisis” [Montgomery Advertiser]. “[W]ith new COVID-19 cases surging nationwide, [Dr. Scott Harris] would stand in his usual spot beside the governor as she announces that Alabama is extending its statewide mask order into December. It would remain the only state among its southeastern neighbors with such a mandate, a fact that has been widely shared with disdain and anger by anti-maskers. Ivey would also announce that the state is relaxing occupancy restrictions on businesses where masks, distancing and other sanitation rules can be maintained. More than 1,000 comments would flood the livestream of the announcement on Ivey’s official Facebook page — rage, insults, debunked misinformation, even warnings of violence. Death threats throughout the pandemic have forced Harris, a grandfather from Talladega who grew up admiring his small-town family doctor, to wear a bulletproof vest at some public appearances.”

“Stanford vs. Harvard: Two Famous Biz Schools’ Opposing Tactics on COVID” [Kaiser Health News]. “But the guts of [Harvard’s] instructions were similar to those at Stanford. Both Harvard and Stanford severely restricted who could be on campus at any given time, limiting access to students, staff members and preapproved visitors. Both required that anyone living on campus report their health daily through an online portal, checking for any symptoms that could be caused by COVID-19. Both required face coverings when outside on campus — even, a Harvard missive said, in situations ‘when physical distancing from others can be maintained.'” • Not sure how representative the Harvard and Stanford business school student bodies are, however…

Uh oh:

“Effect of exercise training for five years on all cause mortality in older adults—the Generation 100 study: randomised controlled trial” [‘British Medical Journal]. Shorter: “It’s never too late for older adults to start exercising.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

“Is America in Decline?” [J. Bradford DeLong and Om Malik, pairagraph]. DeLong: “As one of my friends from a not-rich part of East Asia says: ‘Students from my country come to the U.S. these days. They see dirty cities, lousy infrastructure, and the political clown show on TV, and an insular people clinging to their guns and their gods who boast about how they are the greatest people in the world without knowing anything about what is going on outside. They come back and tell me: ‘We have nothing to learn from those people! Why did you send me there?'” Malik: “There is no shame in admitting that we are in need of self-improvement. We must begin by addressing the horror of this year, which has exposed a range of problems. I am confident that long-term and even permanent solutions to many of these problems exist. We can and will be better. Maybe it is my day job, or perhaps it is the delusion of an immigrant’s mind, but I believe the tradition of dreaming up something from nothing is still alive in this country. And that is what keeps me betting on America.”

Zeitgeist Watch


And a little too on-the-nose as a metaphor for the our elites….

News of the Wired

Gratitude changes your attitude:

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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 (LR):

LR My boyfriend took this picture, but I love the composition and especially how the focus is on the clothespins. Boganvilla Santa Rita (double flowered) in a backyard in Montevideo Uruguay.”

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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. Krystyn Podgajski

    “Friday the 13th, hoo boy! –lambert”

    Well it’s my birthday so … :)

    A friend took me out for a birthday lunch (takeout and outside) and across the street we saw 14 women walk into a restaurant, none of them wearing masks. Lucky for me, unlucky for them. Today also marks the first time I know someone who knows someone who has COVID19, so that to me is significant. I explained exponential growth to my friend and the could only respond with an expletive. It is too late to stop anything now. Even a full lock down will mean growth of cases for two weeks. I feel bad for everyone about to die and the families that will suffer, but it was largely our choice.

    Tomorrow I start my drive from NC back to the BLM lands of the southwest. I will be holding my breath most of the way. Besides having to hit up a grocery store now and then I will not need to make much contact with people. I even have a travel potty for my van!

    1. KevinD

      Safe travels and Happy B-Day
      (we packed a cheap cooler with food/bev on recent road trip…to eliminate stops)

      1. L

        I second both points. I’ve done the cheap cooler bit pre-covid and to be honest, the sandwiches you make from your cooler are probably higher quality than anything you buy at a rest stop.

        1. ambrit

          Thirded! We used to make sandwiches, potato salad, ‘doctored’ pickels, hard boiled eggs, plus lots of stuff the girls would think up, (they were young, so some of the things they thought up were very “experimental” in nature,) for trips.
          Don’t forget campfire cooking! We did a lot of that the year we traveled around the South in the beat up Airstream. Phyllis won’t use it now, but aluminum foil was a staple for campfire cooked foods. [Wrap potatos with bits of chive, ham, butter and spices in foil and dig them in underneath the layer of coals when the fire dies down a bit.]
          This morning Phyl and I were discussing the growing trend of people living in vans. She commented that this new wave of displaced persons are unlike the old Dust Bowl Okies. “These people today don’t have a Golden West to strive toward. Take away people’s hope and you have fear and anger replacing it. That’s a dangerous combination.”
          Travel safe!

            1. ambrit

              “…egg salad with white onions…”
              You weren’t seconded to the Rhodesian Counter Terrorism Brigade, were you?

    2. Mark Gisleson

      Happy Birthday! I’m guessing you won’t run into a lot of traffic. Good luck with the new place.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well . . . it wasn’t your choice. And it wasn’t my choice. Nor was it/ is it the choice of those individuals who mask up and practice Safe Six.

      So let us hope the Coronavid burden falls hardest upon those whose personal cultural and political tribal signifier choice it WAS. Let THEM catch the corona whose fate they tempted and whose reality they defied.

      And let us do the best we can to avoid them and the places they congregate.

      And let Darwin decide which political tribe has the right approach.

      1. ambrit

        This last year has the distinct feel of a prologue to a modern retelling of “The Decameron.”
        “…[persons] who assembled together during the plague…”
        My main complaint about an appeal to the spirit of Stoicism is that “natural forces” have no “agency.” Viruses hold no guiding philosophies, no ethical standards, no ‘moral’ strictures. Thus, we are thrown, naked and abused upon the rocky shore of a desert isle, our world.

    4. Janie

      Happy Birthday, Krystyn. Have a safe and pleasant journey. I camped here and there on the cheap in the desert southwest, and I recommend it. You meet nicer, more interesting people than in pricey RV resorts. We used the Gypsy Journal for good info. Bureau of Reclamation campgrounds were good, especially if run by US employees rather than leased out. Deming NM had good camping and you can stay overnight in many visitor centers/tourist info. Towns in West Texas sometimes have free or inexpensive campsites with hookups. (Check with Amfortas.) Have fun.

  2. a different chris


    My boyfriend took this picture, but I love the composition

    Well it is scientifically proven we just don’t see colors as well. I wish there wasn’t so much surprise when we occasionally overcome that. :D

  3. Wukchumni

    Day 11 of the ‘I Ran Hostage Crisis’

    While holed up @ 1600 Pennsylvania behind bullet-proof curtains, i’m awaiting the arrival of the second coming of the Bonus Army, who want it right away in the guise of four more years for moi-asserting certainties that the election was stolen/tampered with/spindled, and will drive their point home on a march on Humordor, in what experts are calling one last superspreader event that can be blamed on my adoring fans, hopefully.

  4. L

    Lambert it isn’t hard to see why the CIA Dems are all over twitter right now, there are two very simple reasons.

    First, they were all gloating about their inevitable “Sexy Centrist Blue Wave” two weeks ago. That didn’t happen so of course they have to blame someone, anyone else, quickly. All evidence from polling is that the issues they love (i.e. more neoliberalism and neocons) are vote losers but admitting that means giving up their power. To quote Blazing Saddles “Gentlemen we have to protect our phony baloney jobs”

    Second, with the margin in the house small, the congressional Progressive Caucus has moved from rhetorical annoyance, to actual power group. Now Pelosi needs them to pass legislation and she does not like that. By drip feeding the narrative that it is all the left’s fault directly into their MSNBC-loving, twitter-blocking followers they can ensure that any lack of progress has a scapegoat, and any successes are awarded to them.

    It is the same strategy that many still use when they claim that Bernie Sanders “did nothing” in congress because all of his votes were also with others.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I agree. Let the Left Caucus vote with the Republicans against Nancy-bill after Nancy-bill until she gives in and lets THEM write the bills. And no, I am not being snarkastic.

        Now is the time for the Squad to be a piece of poisoned glass in Nancy’s shoe. Now is the time for the Squad to destroy Nancy’s effectiveness and humiliate her in public. Let them burn the Good Ship Clyburnosi down to the waterline.

        And again, let me be perfectly straight-faced with zero snarkasm. The Squad needs to study Newt Gingrich and his methods very hard and very closely. Years ago there were calls for a group of Red Gingriches to exterminate the Vichy Democrats the way Gingrich exterminated the Nice Polite Republicans from office. AOC can BE that Red Gingrich, if she is willing to exterminate the Clyburnosi Scum from the House at the “price” of getting “nothing passed” for the moment.

        1. Dr. John Carpenter

          The Squad needs to study Newt Gingrich and his methods very hard and very closely.

          I’ve been saying this for a while. But I agree with your other points too. With margins as they are, it looks like the left Dems are going to be in a better position than I’d expected.
          So, as far as i am concerned, it’s put up or shut up time for the “squad”/Progressive Caucus. They’re going to have to not be afraid of using their power. AOC has seemed taken aback by blame hurled at them (who could have possibly foreseen…?) so I hope she and the rest finally realize they’re going to scapegoated anytime it’s convenient and maybe stop playing nice with Pelosi and the rest.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The Squad needs to study Newt Gingrich and his methods very hard and very closely.

          Good point. Especially since Gingrich was a historian, or at least had a history degree. The inability of the political class to remember anything even as far back as the Bush administration is really appalling, and of course disempowering for those who emulate (or trust) them.

          I never was an Alice Cooper fan, but this seems a propos:

          Especially the line “I got no friends ’cause they read the papers.” “But Rachel said….”

          1. Big River Bandido

            I last heard that a long time ago and I was probably stoned at the time…but I’m pretty sure the lyric is “I got no friends ‘cause *I* read the papers…”. But it works either way.

        1. Count Zero

          Which gives me an idea for a new banner to be waved in the vicinity of Nancy, old Joe, and Mitch: EVENTUALLY.

    1. Procopius

      I have only seen a suggestion and don’t know how to research the question, but weren’t all the losers in the House CIA/Military Demicrats?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > weren’t all the losers in the House CIA/Military Demicrats?

        I don’t think so; Elissa Slotkin won her race, for example. WSWS compiled lists here, here, and here, and followed up in 2020, here and here. Robust stuff:

        Wisconsin, 1st Congressional District: Roger Polack was recruited by the US intelligence services while a student at the University of Wisconsin and trained to specialize in Asian affairs. His web site declares: “Roger served multiple tours as a civilian intelligence officer in Afghanistan, spending 20 months on the ground first as an analyst for, and then Deputy Director of, the Afghanistan Threat Finance Cell. He sat face to face with Taliban detainees, helped plan law enforcement and military operations, and managed the intelligence priorities of 40 civilian and military staff.”

        In other words, the Democratic candidate in the district formerly held by Republican Paul Ryan, now by first-term Republican Bryan Steil, should be investigated for possible connections to torture and assassination. But in the eyes of the Democratic Party leadership, this record is a credential, not the mark of Cain.

        “Face-to-face” is elegantly put, I think…

        It’s like the end of the USSR, where the only functional organization left was the KGB….

  5. km

    Why, it’s almost as if Brennan, or the agency he headed, has something to hide….

    Of course *genuflects*, we all know that could not possibly be the case, that the “intelligence community” ever always only acts with the highest and best public spirit and the wellbeing of the nation in mind. *genuflects frantically another six-eight times for good measure*

    Banish the thought!

    1. clarky90

      I borrowed the “Mr Jones” dvd from our library. It is also on Netflix.

      The 1930s was a grim decade in the USA; the dust bowl 1930-1936, the Great Depression…….


      During1930s, the USSR descended into Hell. Oddly, with our obsession with the macabre, this time is usually skipped over. (Another inconvenient truth?) 5 year plans, resets, purges, alphabet secret police (NKVD), fake news (Murderous Pulitzer Prize winning, NYT correspondent, Walter Duranty), witch hunts, censorship….

      OMG, not rhyming history again!?

      “Mr Jones” (Polish: Obywatel Jones; Ukrainian: Ціна правди) is a 2019 biographical film directed by Agnieszka Holland. It was selected to compete for the Golden Bear at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival.The film loosely tells the story of Gareth Jones, a journalist from Wales, who in 1933 travels to the Soviet Union and uncovers the truth about the Holodomor, the man-made famine in Ukraine in which millions died…..

      The trailer..


      1. Roger

        The “Holodomor” (a deliberately initiated human initiated famine) is one of the most debated issues within history, and there is certainly no “truth” yet agreed. There was a widespread famine that was exacerbated by Communist incompetence and brutality, but whether it was slammed and directed at a given group is still massively open to debate. Exactly the same thing happened in China in the 1950s, where 30 million died.

        To equate this to the Holocaust, as some do, is outright propaganda, and stems from the long history (100s of years) of strife between the Russia, what is now Eastern Ukraine, and even the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth. There are a lot of vested interests involved, just like the White Helmets propaganda film on Netflix.

        1. clarky90

          “The “Holodomor” ….is one of the most debated issues within history…..”

          Seriously? One of the most debated issues? Au contraire….

          Movies? TV series? Books? Scholarly articles? I’m not seeing many at all.

          In my opinion, now that the USA is considering installing Joe Biden, the great friend of the CCP, as POTUS, it would be wise to look closely at the past use of engineered famines, as political policy to achieve specific goals.

          1. Ander

            Wait is Biden supposed to be a communist dictator now? He’s a center right hawk who ran attack ads against Trump that claimed Trump was soft on China. How exactly is he going to engineer a famine? Engineer climate disasters to destroy the mid-west’s corn and poultry, then deploy covert ops teams to sabotage imported agricultural products xD

            “the USA is considering installing Joe Biden” the USA isn’t considering Biden, Biden won the election by a lot, which is surprising because the man is basically a walking corpse

            1. clarky90

              Re; “……..Biden won the election by a lot, which is surprising because the man is basically a walking corpse”

              Hmmm, how could that be remotely possible, during this time of, The Internet of Things?

              Clarky ponders pensively….hmmmmmm….?

              1. ambrit

                Don’t overthink this. The ‘Secret History’ shows that Reagan was killed by John Hinkley back in 1981 and the Disney Animatronics Department built a robotic Reagan android to play him in public. It is poetic justice. Ronnie was an actor playing a politician. Robot Ronnie was an android playing an actor playing a politician. All this before the internet took off. Rumours about Disney’s technical teams being DARPA clones are just that, rumours.

        2. clarky90

          Re: “To equate this to the Holocaust…..”

          Roger, you do realize that the Holodomor 1932-1933, occurred 8 years before the Holocaust? Hitler gained power in Germany in late March, 1933.

          1. fwe'zy

            And no, it’s not farfetched to say that today’s overlords specifically choose “rates” and “policies” based on how many “excess” or “surplus” people they think there are. For the markets.

      2. Alex Cox

        Mr Jones – an anti-Russian film funded by the Polish Film Institute, which won prizes in London and Berlin.

        And it tells the story of a crusading, English-speaking journalist! It must be good!

        1. clarky90

          The film was well received by the public. I thought it was very good. I linked to the trailer to give everyone an inkling.

          “Jones graduated from the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth in 1926 with a first-class honours degree in French. He also studied at the University of Strasbourg and at Trinity College, Cambridge, from which he graduated in 1929 with another first in French, German, and Russian. After his death, one of his tutors, Hugh Fraser Stewart, wrote in The Times that Jones had been an “extraordinary linguist””

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Trump is too cowardly and has too short of an attention span to actually spill every bowl of burning beans all over the Intelligence Community. He won’t actually do ANY of it. Brennan is safer than Brennan may fear.

  6. foghorn longhorn

    Re: Recording owls
    Have tried on several occasions (10 or so) to record the barn owls hooting and hollering out here in the woods at night.
    They really make some cool noises.

    Slip the phone in record mode, ever so silently, turn the microphone toward the already open window and boom, absolute silence.

    Every. Time.
    Don’t know how they do it, pretty magical animals.

    1. ambrit

      This afternoon, while I was working in the back yard, a group of owls about a block away started a ‘conversation’ that lasted for five minutes or so. Bright sunshine, moderate temperatures, light breeze out of the South. The sort of conditions that make one appreciate being alive.

  7. Katiebird

    >> Shorter: “It’s never too late for older adults to start exercising.”

    For some reason, I decided last march to start doing floor exercises everyday (What, Me Exercise?.) I hadn’t done them in years but thought that if we were going to be locked down for a while, I should try doing something physical that could be done at home.

    I’ve been doing them daily ever since: started on Step 1 and am now on Step 30. I should push myself to go up another couple of levels but I kind of hate all the counting.

    Anyway. I’m in my mid 60s and seem to be doing OK at this.

    1. Robert Hahl

      Two of my wife’s family died on the tennis court (step father years ago and uncle recently). Her mother, who never broke a sweat after 60, recently died at 100 years, 7 months. Just saying.

    2. foghorn longhorn

      The old use it or lose it deal.
      Here is a simple way to get back in the swing of exercise.
      Start with one sit up and one push up a day, for one week.
      Every week, increase rep by one.
      Theoretically at the end of a year you’re doing fifty push ups and fifty sit ups a day, mix in some aerobics and healthy diet and you’re golden.

      1. Katiebird

        That’s pretty much what I did. And now I’m up in the 30s for each. Like I said, the counting is the drag.

        1. Lemmy Caution

          That reminds me of one of Muhammad Ali’s most Yogi Berra-ish quotes about doing sit ups:

          “I don’t count my sit-ups; I only start counting when it starts hurting because they’re the only ones that count.”

    3. zagonostra

      I listened to an interview of Peter O’Toole where they asked him about his longevity and whether he exercised and watched his diet. He replied that the only exercise he gets is following the funeral hearse bearing the caskets of his fellow actors/friends who all ate healthy and exercised.

      1. Josef K

        Wasn’t it Churchill who when asked about his longevity replied: “Sport. I never, ever went out for sport.”

      1. Katiebird

        You’re welcome. The exercise plan really works for me. And I enjoyed his Diet Book Also. Hope it goes well!

    4. Procopius

      Katiebird: That’s an excellent program. Persistence is the key. Thanks for the link. I used to have it, but somehow lost it and was too occupied with other things, so forgot it. I used a slightly more demanding program when I was in the Army, from DA Pamphlet 21-1, dated 1965. Alas, the pamphlet is no longer available and as far as I can tell the modern Army has no equivalent for staff and administrative personnel. Apparently it was dropped before the internet, so nobody scanned and saved it.

      1. Katiebird

        Procopius, I think he took some of this from an Army Pamphlet. He mentions in somewhere. I have it on my list to reread his materials. If I find that info, I’ll post it.

        My husband and I also walk everyday — not sure what we’ll do this year on REALLY cold days. In the past we’ve used big box stores for indoor tracks. But that’s out this year.

        Persistence is really important. I’ve started this program 2 or 3 times before and it is really easy to think you can pick it right up after a break. It isn’t.

        1. Roger

          Traitors do not understand that they are toxic, to the people they betrayed (the left) and to the ones they did the betraying for – who consider them completely untrustworthy. If she had stood with Bernie she could probably be looking at being the Treasury Secretary, instead she is not trusted by anyone, and cast out.

    1. notabanker

      Bernie got to be the spokesperson for how the election was going to play out, which was actually a pretty shrewd move on the dems part. “See, see, it’s just like Bernie said”

    2. Daryl

      In a world filled with bumbling politicians, Warren burning every shred of credibility she had on the altar of the D party and getting nothing in return has to rank up there as one of the worst political blunders in recent times.

  8. Louis Fyne

    Not being a smart alec, honest Q… what’s the difference between “liberal” and “left”? (nevermind throwing in “progressive”)

    some people use them interchangeably, others see liberal as a subset of left and others vice versa.

    IMO, useage is the final arbiter, but useage is all over the place

    1. Toshiro_Mifune

      liberal = NY Mag, The New Yorker, NPR
      Left = WBAI*, Jacobin and WSWS

      * for old school lefties.

    2. albrt

      A leftist wants people at the lower end of the income/wealth spectrum to get a better deal.

      A liberal is a right winger who refuses to admit it and gets really angry if anyone questions the superficial signifiers and technocratic hokum that liberals use to maintain cover.

      There is very little overlap.

      1. Gregory Bott

        No, a “liberal” is a nickname given after Harry Truman was incorrectly “quoted” in 1952. That was the whole origin of “liberal”. Up until then, Democrats were of the Bryan linage: economic populism and socially conservative. Then the South crashed out totally after 1964, the large northern progressive Republican base joined with the much smaller Democratic progressive base in the North and forced in Humphrey during the 1968 election(and George Wallace screwed and forget he could have been the next Thomas Watson).

        1. rowlf

          Can you expand on your Wallace comment? My understanding was Wallace went from being a populist to watching the political wind flag and most people miss that he was a politician first.

          Wallace is complicated to figure out.

      2. LibrarianGuy

        Liberals are privileged by birth and believe in meritocracy, that they “succeeded” by their own merits, not the advantages their parents and background gave them.

        They are fine with Idpol because they have many friends in the PMC who are non-white, and admitting to the obvious American systemic racism of police departments, etc. (without actually DOing anything about it) is cheap and easy. Their kids aren’t getting falsely arrested or beat up, their kids are getting bribes paid and other perks to get into the “best” schools and continue the family’s “earned” status, whether dumb as George W. Bush, mediocre or even slightly talented . . .

        I’d love to coin some clever slogan like “A Leftist is a formerly entitled worker who had their job outsourced and pension looted . . .” but it’s late afternoon on a Friday after an exhausting workweek . . . .But agreed with albrt, the Liberals are basically right wing and very strictly discriminate between their (polite, entitled) grouping and the unwashed, “greedy”, “selfish” “failures” who’ve actually had to try to strive upward in the social hierarchy instead of being born on 2nd or 3rd base and promoted as other batters come up in the rotation.

        I guess the clearest liberal nostrum would be “I got mine, and if you don’t have yours, it’s all your fault, sucker.”

    3. L

      In my experience “Leftists” also place a higher demand on material results, (i.e. actually reducing poverty), and on policy (i.e. M4A vs. “A path to healthcare”) than liberals who are more comfortable with technocratic changes and slogans, and also more concerned with culture wars. In my experience a great deal comes down to which space they want to fight in, and what their lines in the sand are. For example Bernie Sanders (a Leftie) went on Fox News to defend M4A. He was pounced on by Liberals who see it as bad. Pete Buttegeg, on the other hand, went on to critique Trump’s tone, and the Liberals sent fundraising requests for Fighting Pete.

      As an example, consider the current flap over whether the left “cost” seats. Notice that the “liberal centrists” are focusing on rhetorical critiques (i.e. sloganeering) and eliding any substantive policy distinctions. The leftists, on the other hand are ignoring slogans and focusing on operations.

      I must admit though that this may be biased by money. Most of the leftists I know are either closer to the bone, or know enough people who are that tractable issues are a high concern. Most of the people I would consider Liberals are more comfortable and better insulated from the awfulness of current public policy.

    4. Jen

      Old joke:

      Conservatives think it’s okay for 10 people to own 90% of the world’s wealth
      Leftists think it’s obscene
      Liberals think half should be women

    5. AKtivist

      Another distinction I’d add, liberals are fine being lumped in with the left, and I suspect even consider themselves to be on the left. A leftist however would harrow at the thought of being called a liberal. In fact, the left frequently uses the term in a derogatory manner.

      1. jsn

        Royalists (or facsimile thereof), think they own people but understand you have to take care of them: Right

        Capitalists (capitalism was invented by liberals at the moment they defined themselves as distinct from Royalist aristocracy), think people are an extractive resource: Liberal

        Humanists, think people have intrinsic, non economic , non political value, are valuable in and of themselves: Left

      2. Geof

        Probably the best dividing line.

        Liberal refers to an individualistic, rational universalism. The natural form of man is independent, so when we come into society we bear prior preferences and interests that have to be negotiated through democratic deliberation and markets.

        In university, the term “radical” was prefered to “left.” So the aim of left radicals is to go to the root (radix) and overthrow capitalism.

        The left particularly criticizes liberal individualism, and its preference for processes (e.g. deliberation, scientific method) and abstract rights (e.g. free speech) over substantive outcomes (economic and social justice).

        For the record, I am strongly in favour of liberal processes and universal rights, but I am critical of liberal reason and individualism.

        Woke identity politics does not fit neatly into either of these schemas. On the one hand, it is aggressively illiberal. The woke claim that liberalism’s neutral processes as inherently biased to uphold existing inequalities (so you have the Smithsonian making claims about science and objectivity being “white”). On the other, its postmodern abandonment of universality leaves it in a weak position to criticize capitalism.

        In practice, I don’t think political ideologies are really about ideas. Borrowing from Marx, I think that they are the possession of social groups and classes. What unites liberals and the woke is not their ideas (though woke narcissism is a rather bizarre evolution of liberal individual self-help): it is that they have both been used to justify the status of members of the same social class. Liberal processes have indeed favoured society’s winners: woke critiques are not entirely without merit, though I don’t find this sufficient reason to jettison processes and principles of universality. But the woke critiques also favour members of that class, especially as tools for intra-class and inter-class (against the working class) competition for status and resources.

        In other words, I agree that liberal and left are different ideologies, but I do not agree that identity politics falls clearly on one side of that line or the other. To really understand what’s going on, you have to look at the classes involved, primarily: the working class; the PMC (professional managerial class), which profits by dividing the working class along identity lines; and capital, which rises above the squabbles of everyone else and quietly accumulates power and wealth.

        1. fwe'zy

          Very nice thanks
          To really understand what’s going on, you have to look at the classes involved, primarily: the working class; the PMC (professional managerial class), which profits by dividing the working class along identity lines; and capital, which rises above the squabbles of everyone else and quietly accumulates power and wealth.

      3. Kurtismayfield

        I prefer Frank Herbert’s definition of a Liberal:

        Scratch a liberal and find a closet aristocrat. It’s true! Liberal governments always develop into aristocracies. The bureaucracies betray the true intent of people who form such governments. Right from the first, the little people who formed the governments which promised to equalize the social burdens found themselves suddenly in the hands of bureaucratic aristocracies.

    6. Jessica

      Usage does vary, but often the difference is that liberals claim that they and the left want the same things and differ only in approach for getting them but the left claims that the liberals support corporations not people.
      Part of the confusion arises from the fact that even though the left presents itself as distinct from the pro-establishment liberals, it often gives higher priority to unity with liberals against the Republicans/conservatives than to its own principles.
      I keep linking to it, but this article is a brilliant explanation of the entire left-liberal-progressive spectrum.

    7. Fastball

      Liberals = people who like Daily Kos and think it has anything interesting to say.
      Progressives = people who think maybe sometimes Daily Kos has something interesting to say, once in a great while.
      Leftist = people who think Daily Kos, MSDNC, CNN, WaPo, NYT and most of the other Beltway almost never have anything interesting to say.

    8. The S

      Right = Capital

      Left = Labor

      Liberals were the furthest left Capitalists allowed in the US after the red scare and political purges of the 1940’s and 50’s, because Liberalism is no threat to Capital.

      I am reminded of Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt gloating that you can dismantle democracy in front of a liberal’s face piece by piece and all they’ll do is convene breakout sessions and committee meetings until the boots are in the halls.

    9. Michael McK

      Liberals claimed bombing Afghanistan would liberate it’s women, Leftists recognize that the US is the major global warmongering threat. Or believing the CIA is protecting democracy vs. being able to casually list a dozen countries popular, legitimate governments they have overthrown and installed psychopaths as leaders in to benefit Wall st..

    10. Lambert Strether Post author

      > what’s the difference between “liberal” and “left”? (nevermind throwing in “progressive”)

      In my simple mind, the left puts the working class first (in policy, organizing, morally, and every way, especially materially).

      Liberals (like conservatives) put markets first, albeit with different flavors and complexities from conservatives.

      That’s why Medicare for All is such an obvious wedge issue for the left.

  9. jr

    “One day after this election is over I am going to write a piece about how Latino is a contrived ethnic category that artificially lumps white Cubans with Black Puerto Ricans and Indigenous Guatemalans and helps explains why Latinos support Trump at the second highest rate.“

    Maybe when Nikole Hannah-Jones is done illuminating the contradictions of “Latino” for us she can dig into the artificially contrived ethnic categories of “white” and “black” that lump together vast swathes of diverse people…

    1. zagonostra

      Jimmy Dore mentioned how he was scolded for referring to Steph, his significant other, as Mexican instead of Latino at some event…which being Jimmy, he refused.

      1. TsWkr

        I grew up in the midwest with the term being construed as derogatory. Now while being in the western US, it seems somewhat clarifying and more specific, and a lot of the Mexicans use it with pride. The person Jimmy came across probably thinks their experience applies to everyone, fatal error..

    2. Stephen C.

      Back in the day my biology and physical anthropology teachers refused to give an scientific credence to the concept of race. Said it was always an unscientific concept best left at the door of a science class. Nowadays they’d probably be fired.

      1. jr

        I spent a good portion of my adult life trying to get back into school, after getting my BA. I’ve come to realize that I want nothing to do with what’s going on in the halls of academe. It’s all a scam. The realization started when I briefly tutored a Columbia student some years ago. Her, yep, you guessed it, Critical Women’s Studies course was incomprehensible, a strange new language and ideas that seemed to come from nowhere and to go nowhere coherent. I literally couldn’t make heads or tails of it and I had done quite well in my philosophy courses. I’m still not sure if it is classified as philosophy or not; I do know it is not a philosophy. I helped her the best I could but apparently it wasn’t enough: she bombed the course resoundingly.

        Jump ahead a year or so and I met a philosophy graduate student from NYU, months away from his doctorate. I admitted to him I was envious; he sadly shook his head and told me about the lack of prospects. I guess a true love of knowledge is out of fashion. I walked away sad but free of the desire to return.

        1. JBird4049

          There are some plenty of good people both faculty and students with much good to teach, but having to watch for the (often submerged) shoals of the Woken is troubling.

          1. jr

            You are correct; I speak from frustration. I stuck around school longer than necessary because I enjoyed it and my professors were cheering me on. Goodheartedly to be sure. The plan was a PhD. Now I’m seeking my hundredth deferment…

  10. ptb

    re: “stop saying gay marriage”, “it’s unpopular”, “Dems-ought-to-shift-to-the-moderate-middle” etc

    Nevada’s “Marriage Regardless of Gender Amendment” ballot initiative just passed 62-38, while Biden-Trump was 50-47.

    1. rl

      I believe the point was to draw attention to another case where to insist on a (dare I say it?) politically correct “compromise” by proposing different words (separate-but-equal “civil unions” vs. “marriage” indifferent to whether that bond is between persons of one, the other, or both sexes) to name the same legal situation and public policy (“defund the police” vs. “reassign the police”) was to miss/avoid the point.

      In other words, this tweet was not referencing any actual statistic (that I know of, anyway).

    2. ChrisPacific

      I don’t get what the point of that reply was. People hear “defund the police” as “abolish the police.” Is that what it means? The reply seems to suggest that it does. If so it seems like a fast track to failure, since many or most voters find that idea terrifying.

      1. rl

        Indeed. The comparison does not seem to have been fully thought through, but how much on Twitter really is?

      2. defund them

        And most people saw “gay marriage” as “destroy marriage”. And many or most voters found the idea terrifying.

        The police won’t “reform” without any consequences. Defund them, like Republicans and neoliberals defunded the arts, pensions, universities, public housing, the IRS…everything they don’t like.

        1. ChrisPacific

          So it does mean ‘abolish the police’ then – at least to you. Republicans defund those things because they want to get rid of them.

        1. Samuel Conner


          re: the Yarkovsky effect, the quants should remember that momentum conservation is a physical law, not a financial one.

    1. rowlf

      Don’t sweat it. Maybe we should form a club? Take it as a badge of honor for being edgey?

      If the host of this blog wasn’t moderating me I would be worried. /s

    2. ambrit

      Don’t be sad! I, who am a lot more “flakey” than you ever will be [if at all], am in moderation about a third of the time lately. I’m guessing that the process is an artifact of an automated record keeping system. Like collecting ‘Green Stamps,’ one fills one’s ‘book’ with ‘points’ until said book is full and you collect your “prize.”
      As with everything else on the internet, there is a layer of opacity that hides processes running “in the background.”
      I’m just glad the site admins let any of my comments go up.

  11. lobelia

    I’m still bewildered as to why some of California’s Proposition results were called so very early, when only about 58% of the Ballots were counted on November 3rd, and the margins of those proclaimed wins were not at all large enough that the result couldn’t turn.

    Additionally, early return tallying such as this October 28th piece, An early-voting survey of the ballot propositions (https://capitolweekly.net/an-early-voting-survey-of-the-ballot-propositions/ ) should be made illegal because the most vulnerable and impoverished, who’ve now been drastically left hopeless (not only in California, but in the rest of the country as all things for the California Technology Oligarchy spread over the globe like a plague), well before Covid-19, would be the most likely to give up and not vote when they hear of those early returns (that’s not even including the thousands of unsheltered homeless who forfeit voting for: the never ending: scavenging of food; sadistic lack of toilet and shower facilities; electricity for warmth and telephone connections sans phone booths; cop evasion; some heat; severe health issues (hypothermia, toothaches, earaches, no more eyeglasses, etcetera) having to talk nice to horrid social workers who hold them in contempt; said social workers™ chiding about budgeting and literally bowing down and worshiping the likes of Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon, along with countless Corrupt Defense Firms for chump change that doesn’t even approach the vast extent of their tax cheating and the vast Public Subsidies which made their VIPs Billionaires; and last but not least, the horrifying, near impossible receipt of mail (please read the near impossible USPS requirements for homeless receiving mail before even suggesting it).

    I’ve had so many agonizing family emergencies and blows hitting on a near daily basis I couldn’t even attempt my Proposition homework until the final day of either dropping off my mail in ballot, or voting in person (which I barely did). Consequently, I can’t help but to imagine how many voters registered independent, many after decades of Dem Betrayal, who were most likely to vote for Proposition 21 Eviction Protections and against Uber et al’s Proposition 22, etcetera – and were reportedly late voters according to this October 27th piece: Breaking it down by party affiliation, 40% of registered Democrats, 30% of Republicans and 27% of voters with minor party or no party affiliation had returned their ballots as of Monday [October 26], according to the U.S. Elections Project. https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/These-charts-show-California-is-voting-early-at-15678769.php – didn’t just give-up, I almost did.

    The vote still isn’t fully counted for California, the last day for eligible mail in ballots (i.e. submitted by November 3rd) being counted is November 20th, but from the stunningly early Proposition result proclamations anyone from out of state may have been lead to believe quite the opposite.

    Of course California having used a deliberately huge overflow of legal non voting immigrants as a weapon against its citizens may well have likely doomed those propositions anyway, but who knows how many just gave up. I’ve heard the same immigrants used to weaponize against humane policy reflected from vulnerable non voting legal residents slammed by California’s Brazen and Inhuman Lack of Policies for the most vulnerable. Additionally, many of the now voting and citizenized legal immigrants (the State Department has a vast list of Visa’s for those of vast wealth and influence) in California have been Cherry Picked by the State Department, they are not amenable to any degree of true socialism; many having vast family networks of wealth; I’ve run into countless of them while working in Silicon Valley. This has been one of the blatantly huge problems of Immigrant Id Politics which Bipartisan Politicians have destroyed the country with.

    I’ve run out of time I didn’t even have writing this but people need to be aware of it so I wrote it knowing it was going to further panic me in then trying to make up for the lost time (time to exist with dignity, sanity and health is the most treasured gift the zombie elites have stolen) and won’t be able to respond to any replies. My apologies for that.

    1. Laura in So Cal

      CA-25 hasn’t been called yet. As of today, Garcia (R) is leading by 150 votes out of over 330,000 cast, but they are still counting mail in ballots.

  12. Eduardo

    Effect of exercise training for five years on all cause mortality in older adults—the Generation 100 study: randomised controlled trial
    This study found no differences in all cause mortality between a combined exercise group (MICT and HIIT) and a group that followed Norwegian guidelines for physical activity (control group). We observed a non-significant 1.7% absolute risk reduction in all cause mortality in the HIIT group compared with control group, and a non-significant 2.9% absolute risk reduction in all cause mortality in the HIIT group compared with MICT group.

    1. Cuibono

      you neat me to it. the kicker was who they studied. “Overall, 87.5% of participants reported to have overall good health, with 80% reporting medium or high physical activity levels at baseline.”

      80% were already doing mod to high phys activity? why would you expect to find anything?

      1. Eduardo

        A ‘problem’ with the study design is the possibility of random assignment to the high intensity training group for each participant. So, all participants had to be agreeable to that to enter the study. Which may have led to a selection bias of people that were already fit or at least agreeable to high intensity exercise (if not already exercising at that level).

  13. Tomonthebeach

    Gay Marriage. Funny how people conflate a sacrament with a civil right. Oh, the government did that when they passed laws giving married couples tax breaks, and numerous default legal privileges. Of course, clowns like Rev Hahahahaha Copeland prey on this conflation to advance their own cons.

    1. Harold

      As I understand it, it was only made a sacrament during the Counter Reformation (in response to the Protestant privileging of marriage over celibacy).

      In Italy today everyone is required to have a civil marriage. At the one I attended a few years ago the officiant sat the couple down and lectured them for 15 minutes on the responsibilities of parents toward children, to educate them, to love and be kind to them, etc. It was a solemn occasion.

      I was also present decades ago when my mother and stepfather had a civil marriage on the Campidoglio officiated by the mayor of Rome, but there was no such lecture. As I understand it the Church marriage is separate.

      In the USA both kinds are interchangeable, but I guess you still need the certification of the state in the form of a marriage license.

      1. John

        If the state has a role, and as far as I know all US states do, then all marriages are civil marriages. The religious ceremony blesses/sanctifies the union, but once the marriage certificate is signed you are married.

  14. FreeMarketApologist

    World’s first transparent ‘Sky Pool’….

    Well, at least we won’t have to wait for the tide to go out to see who’s swimming naked.

    Warren Buffet will be pleased.

  15. ewmayer

    Contra Costa County Declares Racism a Public Health Emergency | NBC Bay Area

    Contra Costa County is taking new steps to combat systemic racism.

    The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday declared racism as a public health emergency in the county and formed a new office of racial equity.

    “As a Black woman it is time for us to start making it clear where we stand,” said Nakenya Allen, a mother in Martinez. “We all contribute to America.”

    Allen said she has had her share of troubles and frustrations as mother of color in Contra Costa County. She has had to fight tooth and nail to get the services she needs for her 3-year-old son, Landon, who has chronic health issues.

    “If they’re white and looking at another white parent in need, they’re more apt to give them more because it’s a reflection of themselves,” Allen said. “And I feel when they are looking at women of color, they don’t see a reflection of themselves.”

    With recent incidents of hate taking place throughout the county and communities of color being impacted the hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, supervisors took bold new steps on Tuesday to declare racism as a public health crisis.

    Supervisors said it is clear something more must be done.

    “We know all communities have inherent racism. Some exposed, some behind the scenes,” Supervisor John Gioia said. “We want to make Contra Costa a more equittable place where we do our part to remove racism that exists in our community.

    County supervisors also voted to from an office of racial equity and social justice to formulate a plan for change.

    “I think it’s about time,” Allen said. “That resolution they passed makes me happy.

    Allen said she has new hope for the county’s communities of color and for her son.

    “My hope for Landon is he can live proudly, walk with his head held high,” she said.

    Inquiring minds – and public health officials charged with formulating detailed implementational plans based on the bold new steps in form of an official resolution – want to know which is the greatest problem here: systemic racism, inherent racism, or structural racism? Because if all three are public health emergencies, we’re going to need some kind of trivalent vaccine developed at warp speed in order to combat the pandemic, obviously.

    Oddly, or not, rampant wealth inequality was not deemed a threat to public health by the woke worthies on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors. It’s all the fault of those gun-bible-and-racism-clinging Deplorables, systemic neoliberal elite looting has nothing to do with it, you see. Because poor white people never have any problems getting top-notch subsidized health care.

      1. JBird4049

        By sight, half of the homeless people are non-white while the “privileged“ Whites make up the other half of the large homeless population throughout the Bay Area although the crisis in Contra Costa is probably not as bad as in the western and southern parts of the Bay.

        Reading this goofiness on the first real day of rain during the normal three month long rainy season makes me wonder why a public health emergency is being declared over systemic racism and not poverty, homelessness, and the lack of decent health care that affects half of the population in this very wealthy area of California.

  16. Mikel

    Re: Politico/Democratic Civil War
    “I can’t think of another publication that more relentlessly confuses liberals and left than Politico. And I’m noticing CIA Democrats all over my Twitter feed lately. Odd.”

    They are not confusing anything. They are dleiberately seeding minds with the thought that any leeway given to non-right-wing views is too much. It is a deliberate rejection of compromise.

  17. flora

    Interest commentary about working or schooling from home, and the new “regime of universal surveillance”.

    ….This most recent story, though not the same in all respects, should remind us of the 9-year-old boy in Louisiana who was suspended from fourth grade in September after his teacher spotted a BB gun in the frame of his webcam during online class. The school board found him “guilty of displaying a facsimile weapon while receiving online instruction.” The boy was “at school,” but he was also at home—and there is no reason to believe that had he been at school in the pre-pandemic sense he would have brought his facsimile weapon with him, or that the accidental glimpse of a toy gun on a child’s shelf was likely to have caused any kind of meaningful harm to his classmates, teachers, or anyone else. So let us allow ourselves a moment of himpathy for a 9-year-old Black boy in America who has already been started down the path toward a life of perpetual surveillance and “correction” without even leaving home.


    1. JBird4049

      I think it’s like the creation of “safe spaces” where free speech is essentially dead. Students’ homes are now safe spaces where anything that might possible be somehow, in someway, “threatening” to anyone, at anytime, and for any reason. It ain’t about safety, but as a means of control as it is to compel people into goodthink and only goodthink.

  18. Mikel

    And all of this talk of Civil War…it will be more like an internal Cold War and the future decade will be the official unveiling of the USA’s caste system. India is going to say, “Dammnnnn…that’s tough!”

  19. ewmayer

    Re. UPDATE CA: “And the winner is … real estate: Cali’s industry cleaned up on Election Day” [The Real Deal] … Voters defeated a ballot initiative that would have let cities and counties impose residential rent control. The margin of victory, 60 percent to 40 percent with nearly three-quarters of ballots counted as of noon Thursday, was decisive.

    A statistical quibble – 0.6 x 0.75 = 0.45, still less than half. I realize it’s highly unlikely that 80 percent or more of the as-yet-uncounted ballots will turn out to be in favor of the rent-control initiative, but still.

  20. DSB

    Who wrote: “What about simple stuff? Flu shots are out. Certainly if there were to be a flu pandemic, a younger person who has yet to live a complete life ought to get the vaccine or any antiviral drugs.”

    Biden’s COVID advisory panel member Ezekiel Emanuel in an article titled “Why I Hope to Die at 75” for The Atlantic.

  21. kareninca

    Do . . not . . buy . . . food on walmart.com. Good grief. I just ordered five mega boxes of individual packs of chips for the homeless shelter (yes, we are providing healthful meals and fruit and juice, but people want and really need snacks too). I received a giant cardboard box; yay! that task was done! No. The chips all expired in October. And the boxes of cookies were going to expire soon, and were in bad shape. Yes, I would eat expired food myself; no, I wouldn’t bring it to a shelter (I don’t think it’s even allowed).

    So I did a “chat” with Walmart. I printed out the return label, and lugged the giant box to a FedEx across town for return.

    Today, another box arrived from Walmart. I thought – maybe they are doing the right thing – making up in some way for the inconvenience! Haha. It was more expired chips. The original box didn’t contain the full order. These were the worst chips of all. Along with being expired, the box had been retaped. And looked like it had been briefly used as a pinata.

    But, they had already refunded me for the full order! And per the latest “chat”, this means that I don’t have to haul these expired chips to FedEx. I can keep them for free!! I am now in possession of 28 one oz. packages of expired chips that cost me nothing, other than about two hours of my time. I definitely have the wrong sorts of friends since I don’t know anyone who would want them.

    Actually I will probably still occasionally order food on walmart.com. But not when I care if it is expired.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Was it fulfilled and shipped by Walmart or a random seller? I read Amazon has a similar problem with expired goods, both fulfilled by Amazon and by platform sellers.

      It’s hard to believe selling expired food is even legal?

      1. jr

        I have had two friends who bake prodigiously tell me they received dry yeast that was past it’s shelf date. It didn’t work for them, they returned it and got some that did but what a pain.

        “Pain”, heheh.



        1. Michael

          Seems like as good a place as any to thank Lambert for the above quote: Its a butte!

          “I’m gonna cut the soles of my shoes, sit up in a tree, and learn to play the flute.”

          No its a mound! And a right purty one, too.

          Firesign Theatre

      2. kareninca

        I thought I was buying from Walmart. That is what it looked like – I was careful to try to do that because I am aware of that problem of third party sellers. Apparently there is no way at all to be sure with Amazon.

        Afterwards I saw that a lot of other people had complained in the ratings section about the chips being expired, but of course those posts were hard to find. My complaining review can’t be found.

    2. Clem

      You have just discovered smart people already know; there is a huge amount of leeway and potential free stuff in online ordering.

      Imagine this: Factory sends container load of lamps from China to Long Beach, container goes to L.A. where individual lamps are boxed and sent via Fedex to lamp shops around the U.S.
      Lamp shop
      “We didn’t order these-it’s your computer error”
      “These are the wrong size, color etc”
      Warehouse in L.A., “keep them-throw them away,we don’t want them back.” This especially applies to foodstuffs.

      That evening, the dumpster behind the lamp shop contains new lamps for the taking. One can furnish a house this way if you plan your route ahead of the garbage men.

      Online ordering is a one way street designed to pump goods your way. It doesn’t usually work in reverse because there’s NOBODY THERE.

      There used to be warehousemen, middle managers, billing agents, managers who could sort this out for customers. Now, they are gone, replaced by artificial ‘intelligence’.

      Whenever there is a problem with the merchandise “KEEP IT’ is the message friends have gotten over and over again and in our own experience, with things ordered online, from “virtual companies”, and “platforms”, but not reputable old line companies like LLBean or Land’s End.

      Now that Amazon is busy destroying what’s left of Main Street, you can get even with them by getting free stuff claiming “I never got it,” “It’s defective,” “not accurately described” etc. This is the price they pay for offshoring, eliminating jobs and implementing A.I. They are still coming out way ahead, so feel free to be creative and get free stuff to stick it to the bastards.

      Maybe they’ll start hiring Americans that you can talk to on the phone instead of relying on you doing all the work selecting, ordering, paying, even typing everything into their system for them?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Of course, if L L Bean and Land’s End still exist, one could buy stuff from them in order to keep them from going extinct. One could . . . . .

        The other advice is a very good way to treat Amazon. Perhaps at some point AOC and the Squad could look into cancelling Amazon’s cash-flow CIA intelligence-handling contracts.

        And activists could humiliate and image-destroy Amazon into dropping all its Artificial Intelligence contracts with the merchants of fossil. That would be another revenue stream dried up.

        I hope at least some people will keep in mind the final prize of exterminating Amazon from the face of the earth.

      2. kareninca

        But in order to have my puchase price refunded, I had to return the giant box of expired chips. I had to tape it up, and print out a label, and haul it across town to FedEx. Which I did.

        I only got the extra small box free because they accidentally credited me with the whole purchase when I returned most of it.

        So it wasn’t a case of their telling me to just keep the whole thing.

        What you describe does happen, but not I think with Walmart. They are used to dealing with poor people, and God forbid poor people should get some free expired chips.

        1. shtove

          Even so, and this includes Clem’s suggestion, all that “stuff” is … worthless! Pay it no heed. Ignore it. Go for a walk. Or, as the Simpsons recommended twenty years ago, “Just don’t look!”

          1. kareninca

            What am I supposed to ignore? That Walmart sells expired food? I can’t really ignore that if I need to return it. What “stuff” is worthless? The chips? The people at the shelter would like chips. The frustrating experience? Why would I ignore it? It is information about the world that I have to deal with. Really I have no idea what you mean.

      1. ambrit

        Phyl worked for Ron Zappe as his secretary at an oilfield pump supply company before he started Zapps chips. [One day, according to Phyl, Ron’s wife comes into the office and berates Phyl for being “the other woman” in Ron’s life. It took some ‘discussion’ for Phyl to disabuse Ron’s wife of her theory.] We loved the original Zapps chips. They were made from sweet potatos.
        As to the chips themselves, well, I have heard it asserted from more than one source that one reason for the high ‘spice’ content in “Cajun” food is to disguise the taste of the “day old” ingredients.
        One of the primary effects of capsicum, the active ingredient in ‘hot’ peppers, is to ‘numb’ the mouth.
        Some simple science: https://www.livescience.com/34213-spicy-food-taste-buds-myth.html#:~:text=First%20off%2C%20the%20chemical%20capsaicin,Bosland%20told%20Life's%20Little%20Mysteries.

          1. ambrit

            Blast! There goes another cherished belief. Now, I have no rational explanation for tasteable spice consumption. No more mystique for Cajun cuisine.

  22. Martin Oline

    Gee Lambert, I thought you were a smart guy and now I come to find you went to Moore Scince High too!
    ” I’m gonna cut the soles off my shoes, sit in a tree, and learn to play the flute.” You could always find a bunch of guys, dress like them and follow them around if you get bored. How is Bottles? Is she still on disability?

    1. Michael

      “”You could always find a bunch of guys, dress like them and follow them around…””

      I actually got to use that line at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto.
      Walking up the steep hill thru the orange posts we caught up with a high school class.
      Shared photo with college buddy immed. We both howled.

      How can you be in two places at once when you’re not anywhere at all.

  23. Gregory Bott

    Biggest 3 problems Dems had down ballet was:
    1.Not running a real campaign
    2.BLM nonsense. BLM really over did the protest thing. Pure racist group.
    3.Covid fatigue. My guess there will be some younger swingers not happy with that down ballet Republican vote they did by January.

    1. edmondo

      That refusal by Nancy to cough up another $1200 and 6 months unemployment packages hurt her more than any “Defund the Police” demonstration. I wonder if any of the millionaires in Congress realize that?

    2. dcblogger

      police are murdering black people every week. As long as that continues the demonstrations will continue. the only way to end the demonstrations is to bring the killer cops to justice.

    3. c_heale

      Not sure what what “BLM is a pure racist group” means. From my impression from TV footage, it appeared to be a mixture (ethnically) of people but overridingly they were young. Seems they got fed up with the older generation’s bullshit excuses for inaction.

  24. drumlin woodchuckles

    About Congresswoman Octavio-Cortes versus the Pink KKK Catfood Sh*tobamacrats . . . . if they consider her to be a piece of glass in their shoe, and she doesn’t mind staying right where she is, then I think that is the best place for her to be.

    Let the Catfood Sh*tobobamacrats feel the pain of ten thousand poisoned cattle prods from the piece of Octavio-Cortes glass inside their cursed shoe.

  25. zagonostra

    >Stop the Steal MAGA March

    Below was from the New York Post (link disappeared). I’m curious how many will attend and even more how much the MSM will NOT cover.

    WASHINGTON — Supporters of President Trump will take to the streets on Saturday in dozens of “Stop the steal” marches across the country as the president refuses to concede the presidential election to Joe Biden.

    1. jr

      I wonder if Donald is just building an audience for his soon to be launched ventures in talk shows and online forums.

  26. Jason Boxman

    I wonder if anyone has done any research deconstructing what exactly the Democrat Party is, like what the Times did (but more expansive) after large swaths of ISIS territory was recaptured and leftover troves of documents were analyzed, detailing the kind of governing system that existed under ISIS.

    It seems like an understanding of how the party is structured at the local, state, and national level, how the money flows work, ballot line control, and so forth might be useful. That’s probably a lifetime of research.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I would say the Democratic Party has two major sides holding it together, ignoring people who don’t have time or resources to worry about politics the way we do.

      -The first group is TINA. Its Team Blue or not voting.

      -The second group is an alliance of Republicans who hate Country Pop and long time Democrats who came of age during the “Reagan Revolution” and see Newt Gingrich behind every shadow coming to get them. They tend to be older and are beholden to the “glorious past.” Years of propaganda have conditioned these people to think the only way to beat Jerry Falwell is to destroy secular society before Falwell can. The Republicans who hate Country Pop as Republicans have no shame in preying on this other groups fears and emotions. These Republicans fear their victims figuring out that they don’t need to have people like Pelosi to hold onto San Francisco or that Pelosi doesn’t even factor into races outside her district and subsequently jettisoning these Republicans.

      Its why the Team Blue courtiers are simultaneously trying to sell Biden’s win as huge and then blame the left for his clear underperformance based on what they essentially he promised he would do. They are trying to keep the alliance alive by making sure their victims see Republicans coming to get them while not demonizing actual Republicans or their policies.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > two major sides holding it together

        I think the issue of determining the boundaries of the Democrat Party is challenging; indeed, it seems rather like the Covid virus, sending tentacles out into the surrounding tissue, and turning the cells within to its own purposes. Any account would need to include: Democrat strategists (including the six consultants who control DNC funding), Democrat-adjacent and billionaire-funded NGOs, and assets in the press and the intelligence community (these last two became especially evident in 2020). I need to reread my Janine Wedel). Finally, there are certain voters (not all) who might be considered to be assets* (the word for “slave” in Ursula LeGuin’s wonderful “Old Music and the Slave Women”); creating such assets is the purpose of operations like RussiaGate…

        NOTE * I’m not sure if the fan base appears on sports team balance sheets (under goodwill, perhaps) of if they are only indirectly reported under, say, merch sales in the income statement).

  27. Stormcrow

    I would suggest that Lambert needs a separate category for The Dogs of War.

    Many Iraquis Fear U.S. Policy Under Biden https://www.democracynow.org/2020/11/12/ghaith_abdul_ahad_biden_middle_east

    I mean, the biggest fear in Iraq, where I’m from, is the America-Iran war. And any conflict will take place on Iraqi soil. Any conflict. Already we’ve seen the clashes, the provocations. All these things are happening in Iraq. They’re not happening in America. They’re not happening in Iran. So, that is the biggest fear.

  28. Clem

    “a ballot question financed by the California Association of Realtors to encourage home sales looks likely to pass. The current tally on Proposition 19 is 51.5 percent ‘yes’ and 48.5 percent ‘no.’”

    So sorry, tax increases, which this is, de facto, requires a 2/3 majority to pass.

    Legal challenges ahead.

  29. lyman alpha blob

    RE: the Dominion voting machines (or any brand for that matter)

    Ran across this earlier today and not quite sure what to think of it yet: https://www.realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2020/11/13/pro-biden_bug_also_suspected_in_georgias_vote-counting_software__125995.html

    AFAIK Real Clear is a legit news source, and the article discusses possible problems with the Dominion machines, but I was skeptical about the source in the article, not being at all familiar with them. Garland Favorito filed an affidavit claiming irregularities, is the founder of a voting integrity organization, and claims to be non partisan. You can click through the link above to the actual affidavit, and also to his organization’s website. Clicking around there leads to a bunch of dead links concerning the sites supporters, which isn’t a good sign.

    Here’s the gist of his claim –

    Added Favorito: “I think they’re going to find the root cause of the irregularity was something electronic, and I think it’s going to change the results substantially.”

    But he also says –

    He does not rule out “ballot harvesting” as the culprit behind the sudden surges of mail-in votes for Biden.

    He said the hundreds of drop boxes Raffensperger agreed to distribute at shopping centers and other cities throughout the state may have encouraged third parties to collect ballots in the name of other voters and stuff them into the boxes, which is illegal.

    – which appears to conflate voter fraud (which rareluy if ever happens) with election fraud again. But then again i really have no idea what these ballot drop boxes are all about as they don’t have them in my state.

    Can anybody else shed some light here? I’d really like to find a legit reason to look under the hood of these awful machines.

    1. Martin Oline

      Here is an interesting link. The important part is at nine minutes where he talks about the “weighted” race feature. Feature! It’s not a bug it’s a feature. It allows a ‘hacker’ to change the outcome without affecting the total number of votes cast, which could easily be revealed if the total number of voters are 1,000 and cantidate A recieved 600 and cantidate B recieved 500.
      Count all votes by hand!

      1. Martin Oline

        Here is a comment by Eric Newhill concerning the graph Dr. Shiva uses. It is something I hadn’t considered my own, but It doesn’t change the nature of the “weighted” race feature and its presence in the software of these machines.
        “It is indeed a mathematical reality (maybe artifact, if one prefers) that as the % straight R ballots increases, unless the % individual ballots going for Trump increases proportionally, you will get a downward sloping line. As I mentioned, my own modeling shows that. That is because the equation being used for the Y-axis points is % individual ballots going to Trump – % straight R ballots. As straight R % gets bigger then the Y-axis points get more negative if their % stays the same or gets smaller. That is what the critics are reacting to.

        To illustrate: If you have 40% of ballots straight R and 25% of individual ballots going to Trump, then, using Dr Shiva’s methodology, you will get a Y-axis data point of 25% – 40% = -15%. If we then move along the X-axis to a district with 60% straight R ballots, we would need 45% of the individual ballots to go to Trump to get a Y-axis point of -15%. If we get less than 45% we get a downward slope from the first Y-axis point (15%) to this new one. And so on and so forth. To be clear, if we only had 30% of individual ballots going to Trump in this second district, then 30% – 60% = -30%, which is less than the -15% we got for the first district and we have a downward sloping line.”
        Sorry Eric, but I do give you credit.

    2. marym

      “The state elections board has specified security measures for absentee ballot drop boxes. Drop boxes are a very safe and convenient way to return your ballot. They must be:
      * Anchored into the ground
      * Monitored by video 24/7
      * Emptied by county election workers at least once every 24 hours (some counties will empty them more often)”

      “According to Georgia Election Code 183-1-14, drop boxes must be continuously video monitored as well as located on government or county property. The secure boxes should also be accessible to the public and made to prevent tampering and built to withstand vandalism or bad weather.

      While there’s no stamp needed for a dropbox, voters using this option do need to use a box in the county where they are registered to vote.

      State election board rules require ballots in drop boxes to be collected at least once every 72 hours and then collected daily in the eight days leading up to election day. Those responsible for collecting ballots will be in teams of two people and will have sworn an oath just like poll officers.”

      Don’t know about “shopping centers.” Did a quick search of a couple of county names, and found libraries, community centers, and buildings in parks.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Thank you – very good info. Sounds like ‘ballot harvesting’ would be pretty difficult if not impossible to pull off. Not sure why this Favorito guy didn’t stick with the problems with the machines in his affidavit. You’d think someone who’d been involved with voting integrity as long as he claims would know voter fraud isn’t really a thing and it discredits his other arguments about potential election fraud.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Drop boxes are a very safe and convenient way to return your ballot. T

        Now that we’ve built this infrastructure we’ll never get rid of it.

        “Be sure to vote early so that if our candidate slips a cog, you can’t change your mind!”

    3. Stillfeelinthebern

      I am a poll Captain at a site with a Dominion machine. It scans a hand marked paper ballot. We ensure that the machine is zeroed before the opening of the polls. This is recorded in a paper tape. At the close of the polls, we have a special key and the unofficial results are sent by modem to the clerk. Then we also produce a paper tally tape. We empty the bin of paper ballots and they are place in a box that is sealed. We pull the modem from the machine and that goes in a container that is sealed. The tape, the modem and the ballots all get taken to the clerk’s office. Those modemed results are only used to issue quick unofficial results on election night. After the election, there is an audit. I believe 5% of the jurisdiction has to be verified with a physical county of the actual ballots.

      In addition, the machine takes a photo of every ballot coming into the machine. This record is available to the clerk and I’m assuming this is the important info in that modem. That is the part I find interesting, because you could potentially match that up with the poll book and know how people voted – so much for the secret ballot. I’ve never found out if that record could be released with a pubic records request.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > By modem

        Insecure, obviously. I know that’s only the unofficial result, but as we see from the 2020 Iowa Democrat primary, even unofficial results can have real effects.

        Thanks for the description. It sounds like you’re using a Dominion tabulator and not a Dominion touchscreen?

  30. lambert strether

    Whoops, forgot to ask you to refresh your browsers. Also, Ray’s article on Kentucky is a must-read.

  31. edmondo

    Klain had no experience managing a public health crisis or with the Ebola virus. But he was an expert in the machinations of a leviathan government, and how to work its levers to speed implementation of White House decisions that needed to be executed immediately.

    So we got rid of the “Bad Orange Man” and replaced him with a more effective evil. And we think we won?

      1. ambrit

        Oh yes. The Dread Lord.
        A match-up between the “Deep state” and the “Abyssal state” should be edifying.

    1. Lee

      Senator Chris Coons on TV just now, backtracking on resuming Iran deal, can’t immediately undo what Trump has done, strong bipartisan support for Israel, Russia! Russia! Russia! Revenge of the Neocons at hand.

      1. ewmayer

        “he done nothin’ wrong.”

        Which hasn’t kept him from being locked in a deep dark hole for years, and with overwhelming likelihood the rest of his short suicide-terminated life, absent a pardon.

        Object to the *need* for a pardon all you like – but the point of standing on some kind of principle while the affected party rots in prison is what, exactly?

  32. fresno dan

    HICAP ramblings
    So I had to deal with someone having problems with getting a SNF (skilled nursing facility) stay. For some light reading:

    Of course, the big problem usually is that people do not understand that medicare coverage is only for medically necessary skilled nursing care – Medicare does not cover personal care (some one who cooks or bathes you because you are in a cast and can’t do these things for yourself) after surgery.
    AND my real bete noir – the 3 days hospital stay. (of course, not every day in a hospital counts as a hospital stay because sometimes it is only for “observation” – people who figure out how to raise your premiums and decrease your benefits are a busy bunch).
    That is, one doesn’t get to utilize a SNF unless one stays in a hospital for 3 days (the day you are released doesn’t count either). I was released the day after my open heart surgery – I guess I should be grateful they didn’t throw me out the door after they finished stapling me closed…
    But in this case, as because of the covid crisis, the 3 day rule (LONG, LONG overdue to being eliminated) has been put in abeyance by medicare (i.e., by CMS). Unfortunately, doctors and facilities often don’t keep up with the rules (or maybe more precisely, the people who actually answer the phones and answer questions from the public). And of course, I read the rule about not needing the 3 day hospital stay, and I could scarcely understand whether it was applicable to my client’s situation. I was only sure of what to tell the beneficiary after checking with a full time senior employee.

  33. anon in so cal

    >Western Screech Owl

    We have at least one that hangs out at night in our back yard (along with Great Horned Owls). They make the cutest sound. Doubtful we’ll ever see it as they’re so well camouflaged.

  34. rowlf

    If one of the outcomes of the 2020 election is legitimating (private equity-made, unauditable) ballot marking devices, I’m gonna cut the soles of my shoes, sit up in a tree, and learn to play the flute.

    Is that you Porgie?

    “Is that you, John Wayne? Is this me?”

  35. The Rev Kev

    “Using Wolves as First Responders Against a Deadly Brain Disease”

    Not surprising at all. This is how it is supposed to be. The wolves cull the weaker members of a herd which now includes those with that brain disease and that herd becomes healthier and more fit for survival as a result. The wolves also stop that herd from overpopulating which will long term crash that herd and at the same time, a smaller herd has less detrimental effect on the environment. Win-win all around – unless you are being the one culled of course.

    But would it work in the beltway? Unfortunately no. Wolves would never go after zombies as they know better than to attack those dead on the inside.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > But would it work in the beltway? Unfortunately no. Wolves would never go after zombies as they know better than to attack those dead on the inside.

      Oy. Should have thought of that….

  36. anon in so cal

    >Rules for thee…..

    “California Gov. Gavin Newsom says he should not have attended a birthday dinner for a dozen people at the posh French Laundry restaurant last week….State guidelines limit gatherings, defined as “social situations that bring together people from different households at the same time in a single space or place,” to no more than three households”


    1. RMO

      Here in BC (which was the shining success story in Canada until recently) we just had 600 new cases in the last 24 hours. For perspective, the worst days during the first wave in spring never reached 100.

      1. The Rev Kev

        November 14, 2020 at 1:34 am

        Excuse me for asking but what happened? Why such a large increase in numbers? What factors changed to account for this increase?

  37. fresno dan


    The Republican senator who requested the review after a Miami Herald investigative series saw it differently.
    “Letting a well-connected billionaire get away with child rape and international sex trafficking isn’t ‘poor judgment’ — it is a disgusting failure. Americans ought to be enraged,” Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Oversight Subcommittee, said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “Jeffrey Epstein should be rotting behind bars today, but the Justice Department failed Epstein’s victims at every turn.

    “The DOJ’s crooked deal with Epstein effectively shut down investigations into his child sex trafficking ring and protected his co-conspirators in other states. Justice has not been served,” Sasse said. “The full report needs to be released to the public. OPR might have finished its report, but we have an obligation to make sure this never happens again.”
    The job is judgement. And the job of the people overseeing Acosta is judgement. And the judgement of the people at the top was NOT TO KNOW, and they didn’t want to know because Epstein was wealthy. Acosta isn’t being held accountable because to do so would send the message that the billionaire immunity policies of the US have changed – and they certainly have not.

    1. RMO

      I first heard about him only a few years ago when I was reading Peter Hook’s memoirs “Unknown Pleasures” In the Joy Division years both he and Steve Morris were questioned by the police in relation to the case. Why? They were the two members who had vehicles so Pete’s van and Steve’s car were noticed as having been parked in the red light districts where many of the murders took place. Being a punk band the clubs they played at tended to be in those areas.

  38. Amfortas the hippie

    avoided news since this morning.
    (have no idea what yall are talking about.
    we had datnight instead.
    at the Bar.
    wife got shitfaced for the first time in months.
    (contraindicated, but why the hell not?)
    shit like this:

    sad that walmart turned me on to it, and just how badass Aretha was.

  39. VietnamVet

    Brad DeLong hits the nail with the hammer. It is simply impossible to be an American without being exceptional. Being a professional manager means that you are top drawer, won the fight, deserve the merit. Money defines everything. If you don’t have wealth, you have nothing. Morals, community and doing good have disappeared from their lives.

    This simply makes it impossible for the meritocracy to see reality. All the money coming to Wall Street is from protection scams, student loans, casino skimming, drug supplier’s loot. They are mobsters. They will never recognize that the failure to control COVID-19 and the USA being quarantined from the virus free world has ended their reign. The USA is not a safe haven. The Western Empire is dead. To survive, they will to go to the mattresses. Their future is gang warfare, fighting over the ruins.

    The only way civilization can survive in North America is to control the pandemic and end the exploitation of Americans. The rule of law must be restored, criminals jailed, and the public health system rebuilt.

  40. Follow the Money

    The LatinX article was great. The only comment would be on her footnote about whites being more racially obsessed than the Hispanic world.
    That is pure nonsense. I lived in Mexico and got to see raw racism not seen in Europe for a long time. Pecking order: rich white Europeans (north european paper-white) can and do shit on anybody, then rich Spanish background (i.e. less white in appearance), and at the bottom of the pecking order are poor indigenous.
    You find the same dynamics in all LATAM countries because it is Really about keeping the wealth and domination of the conquerors.


  41. John Anthony La Pietra

    Right from the start, I’m not overwhelmed with confidence in an analysis done by someone who makes a point of mentioning the number of counties in Michigan, but can’t be bothered to get closer than “approximately 86” (it’s 83).

    More significantly, the analysis is based on Michigan having two ways of voting — but there are actually three:

    * straight ticket (one mark at the top to vote for all candidates of your preferred party);

    * mixed ticket (voting each partisan race individually with no party preference mark); and

    * split ticket (marking your preferred party at the top BUT THEN ALSO choosing individual exceptions to that rule in whatever partisan race(s) you want).

    There is some evidence of an observed phenomenon here — Trump tending to underperform versus other R candidates in precincts likely to assay high in Establishment R voters, but overperform versus other Rs among voters he himself helped dislodge from patterns if not traditions of voting D. But there also looks to be quite a lot of variation in that apparent effect. And to me that diversity of results seems at least as likely to be due to variations in multiple factors like precinct voters and candidates as to a straight-line mathematical algorithm.

    Now I’m all alongside the NC gold-ink standard of hard-copy ballots counted by hand, etc.
    And I readily admit that Michigan does have its own, um, insecurities. We do mostly use hard-copy ballots — and once the ballot-number stubs are off (so the ballots aren’t traceable to their voters), they’re public records subject to FOIA. But the tabulator ballot images aren’t treated the same way. Another foible I ran afoul of (back last century when I was still a D) is that a ballot box or bag found to be unsecured can’t be recounted — even if you want the precinct recounted to see if maybe you did defeat the incumbent county/local clerk responsible for ballot security. . . .

    But I don’t see that the presenter has made his case here. His Ph.D from MIT being in systems biology doesn’t make him wrong, but it does kind of negate any idea that he should get any extra credibility on this subject. He’ll need to show some hard evidence that his presumed cause is more than just a speculative theory.

    So, for now at least, it’s a no from me.

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