2:00PM Water Cooler 11/17/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, again I’ve been thrown off-stride by technical issues. I’ll have more shortly. –lambert. UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

Unfortunately, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is down for scheduled maintenance, and won’t be back up until 8:00AM on November 19 (we hope). Here is a Red-Tailed Hawk cam instead:

#COVID19

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:

I added the death counts, and yes, deaths are rising as the case count rises; we’ll need to watch for that two-week lag.

Hospitalization by region:

Politics

“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

The 2016 material below happened on December 14-16, right after I wrote “Federalist 68, the Electoral College, and Faithless Electors” on December 13, in which (see the final paragraphs) I was far too polite to use the word “coup.” (I went digging after I listened to the currentThe West Wing Thing podcast, “Swiss Diplomacy“, where they also quote the passage from Shattered where Podesta and Mook call a meeting in Brooklyn and decide to pin the loss on the Russians.) I missed it because I don’t watch television.

“Celebrities are urging the Electoral College not to vote for Trump” [Business Insider]. “As part of a last-ditch effort to block Donald Trump from becoming the next US president, a host of celebrities appear in a PSA encouraging members of the Electoral College not to cast their vote for the president-elect. ‘The West Wing’ star Martin Sheen starts the Unite for America-sponsored pitch to the Republican members of the Electoral College.” • Oy. (“Unite for America”‘s website is dead, and it was made with SquareSpace, so it looks like a throwaway. But I don’t know which liberal Democrat pseudopodium funded the PSA. This article has what seems to be a proto-Great Assimilation™ Crew in the bio section: “Jon Gedney is a national organizer for Unite for America, Ryan Clayton is president of Americans Take Action, Chris Suprun was a 2016 presidential elector for the state of Texas, Michael Baca is the co-founder of the Hamilton Electors and Tom Hancock, PhD is a national grass roots organizer for the New Conservative Movement.” “National organizer for a thing with a dead website four years later. Oh… kay.) Here is the video:

So all this liberal Democrat frothing and stamping about denying election legitimacy? Purest projection, from people who either have the memory of goldfish or are completely disingenuous. Or both! I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader. And speaking of projection:

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WI: “Trump Will Have To Pay $7.9 Million If He Really Wants Wisconsin Recount” [Associated Press]. “The Wisconsin Elections Commission on Monday released the recount timeline and cost estimate, which was based on costs submitted by the 72 counties.”

2020 Democrats in Disarray

That’s a hell of an act. What do you call it?

The Democrats!

Because being gay is always a punchline:

Biden Transition

Biden (D)(1): “Biden hopes to avoid divisive Trump investigations, preferring unity” [NBC]. “President-elect Joe Biden has privately told advisers that he doesn’t want his presidency to be consumed by investigations of his predecessor, according to five people familiar with the discussions, despite pressure from some Democrats who want inquiries into President Donald Trump, his policies and members of his administration. Biden has raised concerns that investigations would further divide a country he is trying to unite and risk making every day of his presidency about Trump, said the sources, who spoke on background to offer details of private conversations. They said he has specifically told advisers that he is wary of federal tax investigations of Trump or of challenging any orders Trump may issue granting immunity to members of his staff before he leaves office. One adviser said Biden has made it clear that he ‘just wants to move on.'” • Well, that’s what Obama did on torture — “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards” — and as a result, we have a [x] woman torturer at the head of the CIA! So it’s all good.

Biden (D)(2: “Biden COVID-19 adviser: We can get pandemic under control without another national lockdown” [The Hill]. “”The critical parts are understanding what we’ve learned since we did a nationwide lockdown in early April,” [Atul Gawande, a member of President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board] told ABC host Martha Raddatz. ‘And that is that you can have targeted measures building on mask-wearing to include widespread testing, to include dialing up and down capacity restrictions, and those measures need to happen in a more localized basis.'” • I think this translates to no relief, which would make Pelosi’s HEROES Act just a messaging bill, shocking. I would also like to know where what Gawande is suggesting has been tried. Certainly not in Europe.

Biden (D)(3): The famous empathy:

And then we have the Crime Bill, making student debt non-dischargeablein bankruptcy, the vote for the Iraq War, Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, and on and on and on… It seems that the personal really is not the political. Eh?

Biden (D)(4): “Judd Gregg: A little, big idea for Biden” [The Hill]. “Over the last years, numerous serious, bipartisan groups have developed constructive and strong plans to fix Social Security. The most recent effort was the proposal put forward by the Simpson-Bowles Commission, which was a highly workable and bipartisan plan.” • The Grand Bargain lives!

2020

Trump (R)(1): “US military anticipates Trump will issue order to plan for further troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq” [CNN]. • Oh noes!!!!!! Somebody stop him!!!!!!! UPDATE Meanwhile, there’s always a quote:

UPDATE Trump (R)(2): “Republicans livid over Trump’s plan to reduce troops in Afghanistan” [Politico]. “‘A rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan now would hurt our allies and delight the people who wish us harm,’ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said bluntly.” • Yes, liberal Democrats should definitely let McConnell make the running on this one…

Trump (R)(3): “Another shake-up on Trump campaign legal team” [Politico]. “A court filing said Marc Scaringi, a Harrisburg, Pa., attorney, conservative talk radio host and former Senate candidate, was taking over the case. The move came just hours before a potentially make-or-break court hearing scheduled for Tuesday afternoon on motions by Pennsylvania state and county officials to dismiss the lawsuit. The legal escapade devolved into farce on Monday night as the federal judge rejected a move by the campaign to postpone that key hearing. Less than 90 minutes after the outgoing attorneys for the campaign assured U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann that ‘Scaringi is aware of the schedule set by the Court in this matter and will be prepared to proceed according to that schedule,’ Scaringi asked the judge to put off the session, arguing that he was inadequately prepared.” • You just can’t get good help these days…

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“Ossoff, Warnock start Georgia runoffs behind the eight ball” [Politico]. “To repeat Biden’s feat in a pair of Senate runoffs on Jan. 5, with control of the Senate on the line, the Democratic Party will have to defy a long track record of failure in overtime elections. They’ll need to overcome the entire weight of the Republican Party descending on the state — from organizers and operatives to potentially hundreds of millions of dollars. One of their Senate candidates, Jon Ossoff, would have to make up the nearly 90,000 votes he ran behind the GOP incumbent on Nov. 3. And Democrats will have to manage all of that without Donald Trump on the ballot to motivate their voters — while Republicans energize their base with warnings that electing Ossoff and Democrat Raphael Warnock would allow liberalism — or even socialism — to run amok in Washington… Democrats have identified thousands of potential new voters they’re working to register, and tens of thousands of volunteers are already mobilizing voters who showed up on Election Day to turn out again.”

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UPDATE “Aryan Brotherhood Reports Record Surge In Donations On Election Night” [The Topical]. Or in fancier words–

“What Joe Biden should say about white supremacy” [Boston Globe]. • It’s hard for me to see how liberal Democrats can keep pushing this line when Trump lost white votes and gained Black and Hispanic votes (unless you want to go into contortions about the oppressed identifying with the oppressor). Still, if they let go, what do they tell the consultants, the HR departments, and the NGOs?

RussiaGate

Obama Legacy

Obama just keeps looking worse and worse:

ZOMG, this is even worse than the first one:

Realignment and Legitimacy

Maybe. What have they got to lose?

it will be a neat trick to become the party of the working class without actually empowering them. But maybe the Republicans are feral enough to accomplish it:

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.

Manufacturing: “October 2020 Headline Industrial Production Improves But Remains In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say seasonally adjusted Industrial Production (IP) improved month-over-month – but remains deep in contraction year-over-year. Our analysis shows the three-month rolling average improved.”

Imports: “October 2020 Import Year-over-Year Inflation Now -1.0%” [Econintersect]. “Year-over-year import price indices inflation remained in contraction and moved from a revised -1.4 % to -1.0 %. Note from the BLS: ‘U.S. import prices edged down 0.1 percent in October, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, after rising 0.2 percent the previous month. The October decline was driven by lower fuel prices which more than offset higher nonfuel prices. In contrast, prices for U.S. exports increased 0.2 percent in October following a 0.6-percent advance in September.'”

Retail: “Headline Retail Sales Again Improves in October 2020” [Econintersect]. “Retail sales have fully recovered their pre-virus levels overall. However, there is still year-over-year weakness in restaurants, department stores, clothing stores and gas stations. There was a downward adjustment to last month’s data which exaggerated the improvement relative to the previous month. The real test of strength is the rolling averages which modestly improved. Overall, this report is considered no better than last month. Please consider that this data is not adjusted for inflation.”

Housing: “September 2020 CoreLogic Single-Family Rent Index Growth Gained Strength, But Still Below Pre-Pandemic Rates” [Econintersect]. “The Single-Family Rent Index (SFRI), which analyzes single-family rent price changes nationally and among 20 metropolitan areas shows a national rent increase of 2.5% year over year, down from a 3% year-over-year increase in September 2019…. The rental market faced a tumultuous journey this year, experiencing the lowest annual growth rate this June for single-family rent prices in 10 years. While national rent prices picked up pace in the late summer, September data shows a divide in recovery across price tiers. Compared to a year ago, lower-priced rentals continued to show declines while higher-priced rentals began to match last year’s growth rates. Those in higher-paying positions that easily transitioned to remote work were able to continue renting in higher price tiers, or even upgrade to new rentals with more space to accommodate working from home. Meanwhile, renters among the lower-priced tier have faced greater job market instability, which by extension has negatively impacted rent price growth.”

* * *

Commodities: “Tighter supply and rising demand are lifting prices for some major U.S. farm commodities. Prices for soybeans, corn and hard red winter wheat have risen by about a third since early August… with dry weather, China’s push to fatten its pigs and the lockdown-induced baking bonanza adding to the upward pressure” [Wall Street Journal]. “The shift is among the big swings commodities markets have seen in the past couple of years under strong pivots in domestic and international demand. The biggest impact on supply chains is happening in Asia. China has been restocking grains and rebuilding its hog herds after culling millions of pigs last year to combat an African swine fever outbreak. U.S. regulators predict that China this season will import record volumes of coarse grains, which are mostly corn, and buy more foreign wheat than it has in a quarter-century.”

Marketing: “Khloe Kardashian sparks backlash for ‘unethical’ promotion of expensive ‘Big Pharma’ drugs” [Independent]. “Last week, Kardashian tweeted about a sponsored deal with the pharmaceutical company Biohaven for their newly-launched migraine medication NurtecODT, saying that she “dared to reimagine life with #migraine”. She encouraged fans to ask their doctors about the drug and visit the company’s website…. Some also noted the medication is extortionately expensive, costing between $897 and over $1,000 for a package of eight doses without insurance (according to a 2018 census, 27.5 million Americans do not have health insurance).”

Shipping: “Vaccine hope but multiple solutions needed to resolve crew change crisis” [Hellenic Shipping News]. “The availability of COVID-19 vaccines and rapid, standardised testing for the virus could be crucial in helping to resolve the ongoing crew change crisis. However, a meeting of a cross section of UN agencies, shipping organizations, unions and maritime and logistics businesses, agreed that the focus needs to be on developing a range of practical solutions. Some 400,000 seafarers are stuck at sea, months beyond their contracted time, with increasing reports of severe fatigue and mental distress. A similar number of seafarers are trying to join ships to begin contracts, but transit to and from ships is being thwarted by travel restrictions and limitations imposed due to the pandemic. The roundtable meeting (13 November), hosted by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim, provided an opportunity for a frank exchange of ideas on how to move forward. Among the proposals discussed were further pushes to implement public health corridors, regional implementation of protocols to allow ports/airports to facilitate crew changes and the concept of a tamper-proof digital health passport or certificate for seafarers.” • A “frank exchange of ideas”… Yikes! On the crew change crisis, see NC here. In September, there were 300,000 “stranded seafarers.” Now there are 400,000. Yikes again.

Tech: “Apple’s New MacBook Pro Fights Three Crucial Issues” [Forbes]. • Worth a read if you’re in the market for a Mac; it seems that Apple does want my business as a professional after all, since not only is the machine faster, they didn’t crap around with the form factor for marketing churn. (To Apple’s credit, they ditched the butterfly credit. Now, they should bring back the MagSafe connector.) The article comments: “It’s the software that needs to be put through the wringer.” And that Apple is sucking up my identity and location whenever I open an app… That’s a problem that needs to go away.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 70 Greed (previous close: 69 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 58 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 17 at 12:26pm.

Health Care

Please read these two in combination:

“The Exit Polls Show The Need To Confront COVID-19 Denial in Red America” [Drew Altman, Kaiser Family Foundation] (Altman). “Exit polls show that when President Trump accused Democrats of exaggerating the gravity of the COVID -19 pandemic his supporters believed him. Trump supporters showed as they voted that they don’t see COVID-19 as a very urgent problem. It leaves the Biden administration with a massive public re-education challenge in red America and among Trump supporters in every state. This matters because COVID-19 is surging and it will be exceedingly difficult to get a handle on the pandemic as long as half the adult population – the folks who followed Trump – are COVID-19 deniers and dissenters. We are also on the verge of seeing a vaccine become a reality. People who don’t believe COVID-19 is a serious threat will likely feel less compelled to get a vaccine. Over decades of messaging about HIV testing and treatment in our Greater Than AIDS program we have learned that there is no one-size-fits-all message. Messages need to be targeted to be effective with different groups. That means heavy use of digital media not PSA’s on television. And messengers have to be credible not just famous. Real people and real life stories ring true. Messages that direct people to local resources or actions they can take to protect themselves and their families are often most effective. An important challenge is to emphasize disproportionate impact on people of color without furthering stigma or marginalization. The Biden administration will need to convince the deniers that COVID-19 and the economy are not an either or, and that getting a handle on COVID-19 is the route to building the economy. As Trump fades from the presidency more Americans who see COVID-19 denial as fealty to Trump may come around.” • This is a schizphrenic post. On the one hand, yes, from the AIDS crisis, “there is no one-size-fits-all message.” On the other, the phrases I have helpfully underlines are not conducive to persuasion, starting from the notion and that Red States need to be educated by Blue States — where New York and California hardly have the standing to lecture others — and moving on from there. (See NC here on vaccine uptake and persuasion by experts.) And now this amazing screed–

“Olbermann vs Trump #25: 11/10 – We’re not getting what we’re paying for” [Daily Kos]. Olbermann: “Without the money the financially successful blue states give them, the red states would starve. Just six of these enclaves of minority oppression cost us a net $200 Billion a year… You want to talk about eliminating the electoral college? Correcting the Supreme Court? Reducing the mini-states’ representation in the Senate? Then maybe we can continue to fund the states that can’t carry their own weight, like Florida and Texas and the rest. (If you’d like to see just how much your state is subsidizing the loser states – or how much each of them sucks out of the taxpayer wallet: https://www.businessinsider.com/feder…) Oh by the way, isn’t taking money from the hard-working people of a successful state, to give it to the slackers and lazy thugs of the failed states… SOCIALISM?” • First, does anybody think that people who live in Red States haven’t heard the same message from Olbermann and his ilk many times before? And will that message make it easier to persuade “folks who followed Trump,” or not? Second, consider the morality of it. Olbermann wants to cut off Federal funding for all the children in Red States who need it, as well as all the Democrats in Red States who worked so hard to drag his moribund candidate over the finish line. Check out the comments section on the original YouTube, which I couldn’t bear to link to. “Folks” are cheering Olbermann on….

* * *

“The Great Revenge – How Tony Fauci F*cked Donald Trump” [Moon of Alabama]. I don’t think this got enough attention in this morning’s Links, so I am re-upping it here; it’s well worth reading in full. The two key sentences: “In October two leading vaccine companies were ready to announce the success of their vaccine trials. But with at least the knowledge of Fauci and the Federal Drug Administration both companies deviated from their clinical protocols to intentionally move their success announcement to a date after the election.” And: “In October two leading vaccine companies were ready to announce the success of their vaccine trials. But with at least the knowledge of Fauci and the Federal Drug Administration both companies deviated from their clinical protocols to intentionally move their success announcement to a date after the election.” • The effect, of course, was to deny Trump an “October Surprise” on vaccines. If this is true — and I would like expert readers to examine the protocols that MoA quotes carefully, because that is above my pay-grade — it would be quite remarkable; after all, the number of deaths resulting from a delaying the announcement of a vaccine, which would initiate a cascade of follow-on events, could surely be calculated to an order of magnitude. On the personal level, much would depend on the character of Fauci, who (a) has admitted that he told a “noble lie” to the general population on masks, and (b) ramped Gilead’s stock, and Pfizer’s too, based on press releases. From 30,000 feet, all this is entirely consistent with the PMC having come to class consciousness in ithe period 2016-2020. Also, if this is true, Biden owes Fauci rather a lot.

“Covid-19: As lab execs sell shares worth millions, questions arise” [Medical Express]. “Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax: executives at several American laboratories developing COVID-19 vaccines have recently pocketed millions of dollars by selling shares in their companies—raising questions about the propriety of such a move in the midst of a national health crisis. On the very day that pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced preliminary data showing its vaccine was 90 percent effective against the coronavirus, its chief executive Albert Bourla sold shares worth $5.6 million…. Under the same rules, several Moderna officials have sold shares worth more than $100 million in recent months. That company has not placed a single product on the market since its creation in 2010, but the federal government has committed to paying it up to $2.5 billion if its vaccine proves effective…. Executives at Pfizer and Moderna were operating under a rule put in place by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2000 to allow company employees to sell shares without facing insider-trading charges…. It allows them to set up a plan determining the trades of their shares at a price, amount or dates specified in advance, but only when they are not in possession of privileged information that could affect share prices. Once such a sale is planned, it cannot be modified at the last minute, even if its timing might ultimately raise questions. Still, this use of the rule by Pfizer and Moderna appears ‘legally questionable,’ according to Daniel Taylor, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business school, who has been studying the big pharma firms since the beginning of the pandemic. ‘The question is, what did the executives know at the time that they pre-scheduled the trade?’ he asked.” • See above….

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The replication crisis, once more (because of a Paste-oh yesterday, where I duplicated another Tweet because sometimes my Copy touch is too light):

Zeitgeist Watch

Guillotine Watch

“In Wyoming, a Covid-19 surge, a struggling energy economy and a thriving haven for the rich” [NBC]. “For the rich, Wyoming embodies escape, from both the pandemic and other problems, where open skies and empty pastures can help you clear your mind. As states locked down, Wyoming stayed open. ‘We have been socially distancing the entire 130 years that we have been a state,’ Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said on ‘Fox & Friends’ in April, explaining why Wyoming hadn’t issued a stay-at-home order. The wealthy had already shown up by then, and the way they continue to experience the pandemic looks very different from the experiences of most others in the state. Covid-19, in Wyoming and elsewhere throughout the country, has laid the disparities bare. If you live on a multimillion-dollar ranch in Jackson Hole, you have access to private doctors. You might have even brought your own ventilator when you fled to the state, [said Justin Farrell, a sociology professor at Yale University and author of the book ‘Billionaire Wilderness’] said. But elsewhere in the state, where there are only about 5 people per square mile, residents are left vulnerable to the labor market and broadly lack access to health care. Populations are older and more health-compromised on average, and many people live far from clinics. uxury retreats like Jackson Hole translate into more money spent in the community, sure, but the elites who move to Wyoming, which has no income tax, are often doing so to shelter from taxes.” • I can think of other ways to “clear your mind”….

Class Warfare

“An Update on Employment changes by employer size during the COVID-19pandemic: a look at the Current Employment Statistics survey microdata” (PDF) [Bureau of Labor Statistics]. “ontinuing trends observed since mid-summer, we observe continued faster job recovery among large employers than among smaller employers. Within small employers, we also find that in October 2020, for the first time since March, job losses due to the closure of establishments were greater than job losses in employers that continued employing at least one person.” • I’m sure readers will have seen this play out….

“Social Unrest Is the Inevitable Legacy of the Covid Pandemic” [Bloomberg]. “‘So when our Sickness, and our Poverty Had greater wants than we could well supply; Strict Orders did but more enrage our grief, And hinder in accomplishing relief.’ That’s how the British poet George Wither explained a spreading rebellion against social-distancing rules. Seeing quarantines and lockdowns as unfair and tyrannical punishments, people were taking to the streets. The year was 1625, the place was London, the disease was plague…. In March, still early in the pandemic, think tankers were already noticing that we were entering an “age of mass protests” — the number of uprisings globally has been increasing by an average of 11.5% a year since 2009. Covid-19, like so many other plagues before, will now act as the fire accelerant. Some upheavals will topple governments, others will be repressed. Some will flare up soon, others will smolder for years. In 1381, the rural poor of England rose up in the so-called Peasants’ Revolt, killing, looting and burning. They did so because their lives had become unlivable since the Black Death first came ashore 33 years earlier. And the elites had done nothing in that time to make things better.”

News of the Wired

“Fender CEO: We’re ‘running at full tilt’ amid record demand” [Yahoo Finance]. “Although the coronavirus pandemic has devastated many small businesses, companies like guitar maker Fender have managed to not just hold on, but thrive. ‘When the lockdowns went and took place in March, I never would have predicted in my wildest dreams that the company was going to end up having a record year,’ Fender CEO Andy Mooney told Yahoo Finance Live (video above). ‘But in fact, that’s what’s going to happen. We’re literally running at full tilt to keep pace with demand through the end of this year and the beginning of next.’ The surprise upside during recession times that Mooney described isn’t entirely unexpected. Last year around the same time, he told Yahoo Finance that he believed the company was ‘recession-resistant.’… Stay-at-home orders, which forced many Americans into quarantine or isolation, was a pivotal moment for Fender. ‘People really used their time to invest in themselves, learning how to play a musical instrument, a guitar in particular, seemed to be near the top of their list,’ Mooney explained.” • I wonder if the same logic works for, say, Marshall amps.

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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 (JS):

JS writes: “The trees are in their autumn beauty, / The woodland paths are dry. (W.B.Yeats Richmond Park, London, on a November afternoon.”

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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.

168 comments

  1. Dave

    I’d don’t follow — why would delaying the announcement of a vaccine a week cause deaths? Because that means less time for people to become aware that a vaccine exists and they should get it?

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Because everything triggered by the announcement gets pushed back. I grant you can argue that “Yes, we can pick up the slack,” but how does that square with the Hippocratic Oath?

      Reply
      1. IM Doc

        I am a physician – Internal Medicine.

        I go all the way back to the AIDS pandemic when I was a young doctor filling out the death certificates of 8-10 patients daily.

        What has triggered me about these vaccines?

        First of all for the first time in my career – we are given basically glossy happy face smiley press releases from drug companies instead of cold hard facts – randomized controlled studies in journals. I have never been asked to give any new vaccine to a patient based on pharma glossies – much less something that is completely novel like these are. We have no experience whatsoever. What could possibly go wrong???? — Look at the story of Dr. Alton Ochsner, his grandkids, national TV, and the polio vaccine from 1955. Another year of angst over a pandemic – and extreme pressure for a vaccine. The grandson did not make it 8 days – the granddaughter was handicapped the rest of her life. Too long ago for you? – Look up the story of Dengivax – and the Phillipine kids that are no longer here. It was a “similar” approach to the mRNA vaccine – not exactly the same – and when quite a few of the vaccinated kids actually were exposed to the real dengue virus – they became very very ill and many died. And it appears the drug company may have had a clue this would be an issue and proceeded anyway.

        Secondly, Pfizer is known as a corporation that really plays games with the truth. (Look up NEURONTIN – Look up BEXTRA – and read – the deceit is breathtaking considering people’s lives were involved ). Moderna has never done anything of this scale before – it is like a 4th string quarterback.

        Thirdly, I have seen various reports all summer that multiple people were having at least Grade III vaccine reactions to both of these vaccines ( meaning not enough to kill you – but certainly enough to be in the ER or the hospital.) A bit of perspective from someone that has been doing this for 30 years. I have had 2 Grade III vaccine reactions in my entire career – out of probably tens of thousands of shots. And yet – on the glossy press releases we have been allowed to see – there are reports of complete safety. My point – somebody is lying. Either the reports this summer were not true – or these two companies are now playing the time-worn pharmaceutical game of disappearing side effects in your trials.

        Please commenters – how am I supposed to in good conscience even think about recommending these vaccines to my patients? It seems to me we should be having a national conversation about risks and benefits – I hear nothing but cheerleading.

        Reply
        1. a different chris

          Yes it’s weird to see everybody who should know better saying “omg they delayed it to hurt Trump!!”.

          Their is a very good reason for the conservative deployment of a medicine. Even if it wasn’t mRNA – because we don’t know if it is cutting edge or over-the-edge.

          But as you said, don’t tell Pfizer’s PR, or the financial whizzes that drive even when they don’t actually run every tech company nowadays, that things may really still go all to family blog.

          Once upon a time I thought the drug companies were so ashamed to list, sotto voice, all the “possible” side effects of a given drug at the end of their happy shiny people commercials. Now I realize it was just the opposite – they are numbing us to it.

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Yes it’s weird to see everybody who should know better saying “omg they delayed it to hurt Trump!!”.

            “Some people” should know better than to use ad homs, eh? I (1) laid out MoA’s argument and (2) asked for expert help with the protocols, because the argument turns on the protocols. Your comment does not address (1) and nobody else has addressed (2), so as things are, I have to assume the argument stands. If correct, it means that Fauci and his buddies were dicking around with the release schedule for political (and financial) gain. Does anybody think that’s going to help with vaccine uptake?

            As far as being conservative: I respect the position, but I think it’s beside the point. The proper analogy is not polio, or even measles, because neither of those are pandemics. Covid is. And as Taleb points out, pandemics are a multiplicative process, and if they are not controlled — ours is not — our entire society faces ruin. I want the science done, I want the reviews — not press releases, ffs — I want the committee approvals, but the entire process must be conducted as if every day counted, because with a multiplicative process, every day does count.

            Reply
            1. IM Doc

              All I am saying is I feel it is critical for public buy in – and then public reaction if indeed something happens with the vaccines – that we have a very important discussion right now – about the risks ( all unknown) and the benefits of this vaccine. Right now – it is all candy and unicorns – and I feel that if something does happen – the blowback will be unfathomable. I can tell just talking to my patients daily that the public perception of this vaccine and reality are two different things.

              My greatest fear is that if something untoward does happen with this vaccine – I am not certain the public will ever accept vaccine science again. We are headed that direction anyway – an accident now could prove to be terminal.

              I have had a long-standing concern that with vaccines, which should be a society wide concern, too much emphasis is placed on the financial benefit of the pharmaceutical industry. I taught medical history at one of our best medical schools for 20 years – Both Jonas Salk ( and his polio vaccine ) and Banting & Best ( insulin ) – could have been wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice. Both however donated their work completely to the health of humanity. It has burned me up as an internist that insulin – a century old discovery now – was free or virtually free for decades – but now because of pharmaceutical company shenanigans and profit hoarding is out of touch economically for many if not most of my patients.

              As a medical historian – Lambert – I would also dispute the assertion in your statement above. The three great pandemics of the 20th century that were world wide – were the Spanish Flu, POLIO, and HIV/AIDS.

              Reply
          2. Pookah Harvey

            From an article in Stat, a biotech newsletter.
            The story of mRNA: How a once-dismissed idea became a leading technology in the Covid vaccine race

            Moderna’s promise — and the more than $2 billion it raised before going public in 2018 — hinged on creating a fleet of mRNA medicines that could be safely dosed over and over. But behind the scenes the company’s scientists were running into a familiar problem. In animal studies, the ideal dose of their leading mRNA therapy was triggering dangerous immune reactions — the kind for which Karikó had improvised a major workaround under some conditions — but a lower dose had proved too weak to show any benefits.

            Moderna had to pivot. If repeated doses of mRNA were too toxic to test in human beings, the company would have to rely on something that takes only one or two injections to show an effect.

            I hope some of the more traditional technology vaccines are close behind.

            Reply
        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I hear nothing but cheerleading.

          Yep.

          From the public policy (not patient) perspective, Operation Warp Speed makes sense, because parallel development of vaccines all the way to the manufacturing stage has the best odds of getting us the vaccine that we need. Unfortunately, unlike the Manhattan Project, the great bulk of the science is in the private sector, with all the deformities that implies.s But we work with what we have. It also makes sense to have the military heavily involved in OWS, because even though they’re lousy at winning wars, they’re still very good at logistics, and at scale. And even if Pfizer was not chosen for OWS development, they were still part of the parallel architecture, because they were guaranteed a market. (And so what if some of the parallel efforts fail? The cost is small beside the enormous reward of avoiding ruin.)

          My understanding is that Pfizer and Moderna are both mRNA vaccines, and for reasons that elude me, their technical/manufacturing nature was such that they would emerge from the OWS pipeline first. There are other vaccines with more conventional approaches still in the pipeline, for which we have yet to see results. (There are also international efforts, and beyond Oxford; my personal hope or dream is that some smaller country, like South Korea or Thailand, wins the race.)

          Speaking solely as a layperson momentarily posing as a doctor, I would not be recommending the mRNA vaccine to a patient, all other things (like age, frailty) being equal. I really don’t like it that mRNA hasn’t been tested in a human population at scale, unlike older, more proven vaccine technology. I would wait for one of those, which I would expect to emerge from the pipeline shortly.

          I do not want the science or the regulation to be brutalized. I also want full transparency for the trials. (This press release crap has to stop. Show me the peer reviewed paper — and if that has to be expedited, then expedite it. I also don’t want individuals dicking around with schedule for political or financial gain.) However, this is a pandemic. The entire society faces ruin from a multiplying process if we don’t get a vaccine, or if there’s no uptake (and cheerleading, like scolding and shaming, will wreck uptake.)

          I renew my recommendation that all Federal electeds (House, Senate, President) plus all Federal political appointees “go first” with whichever vaccine(s) end up being recommended.

          Reply
            1. Polar Socialist

              According to intermediate results, it’s 92% efficient. It’s based on adenovirus vectors, a technology that has been used before with success.

              All and all there are currently 9 vaccines in phase III clinical stage:
              – 3 Chinese based on deactivated virus. One by Sinovac, 2 by Sinopharm.
              – 2 mRNA based vaccines by companies (BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna) that have never before published a product of any kind
              – 4 adenovirus vector based vaccines. CanSino (China), Oxford/AstraSeneca (UK), Gamaleya (Russia) and Janssen (Belgium)

              Obviously, those you hear most about are by relatively new companies that have raised millions in funding while not actually producing a working product yet.
              5 of these are developed by academic institutes, 4 by pharma companies (SinoVac and Janssen being the other two companies).

              Source: Nature, 13 October 2020, “A systematic review of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates”

              Reply
          1. fajensen

            The entire society faces ruin from a multiplying process if we don’t get a vaccine, or if there’s no uptake (and cheerleading, like scolding and shaming, will wreck uptake.)

            But … I sometimes think that “society”, certainly the 1% that defines “society”, has perhaps gone so far in the way of adopting Financialisation-of-Everything thinking *), that they are always ‘Long Volatility’, and are always looking for new ‘Long-Vol’ GamesOpportunities – including of course using their influence and power to Boost Volatility, thereby increasing the net present value of a ‘Long-Vol’ mindset.

            These people don’t care if the wider society faces ruin as long as all of the ‘juice’ squeezed from the ruin of society ends up in their numbered accounts in Zürich!

            *) The sly form we sometimes hear stated as Positive Psychology: “There are no problems, only Opportunities”, easily degenerates into “More Problems, More Opportunities, Good for Me”, and finally going back to it’s origins: Grandad’s “Smash & Grab” or Ram-raiding- operation!

            Reply
        3. Lex

          ‘Either the reports this summer were not true – or these two companies are now playing the time-worn pharmaceutical game of disappearing side effects in your trials.’

          Could you talk about how pharmaceutical companies make side effects ‘disappear’?

          Reply
          1. jsn

            Short version: do multiple versions of a study; cherry-pick results and publish the ones that suit your bottom line.

            Produce multiple next generation studies based on published cherries. Rinse, repeat.

            Pretty soon, adverse side effects are all gone and you’ve got yourself a replicability crisis, but profits are great!

            Reply
            1. Lex

              The first will provide a link to an article in The Guardian that was an excerpt for Ben Goldacre’s book ‘Bad Pharma’, that is no longer available.

              The second is viable though, and quite useful. Thank you.

              Reply
        4. Sea Sched

          Thank you for expressing these concerns out loud. It seems like if anyone dares have reservations or say anything critical about vaccines they immediately get called an antivaxxer. Vaccines are a pharmaceutical, almost every pharmaceutical has adverse effects…why is it we can’t ever talk about adverse effects of pharmaceuticals without people, including a lot of doctors, screaming antivaxxer in your face…and considering how so many corporations now consistently make the heinous decision that paying out lawsuits when people die (and they know people will die) is cheaper than fixing the cause of death and barely makes a dent in their profits…why should we trust that any rushed vaccine from a for-profit company would be “safe”?

          Reply
        1. WobblyTelomeres

          Nothing, near as I can tell. They still don’t have enough positives in the test population to apply for an EUA. Maybe they pushed back a few hundred swab tests, something that can be done in a day or two? They’ve been manufacturing vaccine and setting up distribution channels for months.

          I think they just made the press release (“Everything is quite rosy”) to juice the stock price at the time of the prefiled stock sale plan date. Because that’s how they roll.

          Reply
        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > So what all gets pushed back (or even what could get pushed back)?

          Anything market-driven, for one thing. That would include all private logistics companies, all suppliers to them (e.g., freezer manufacturers). Big gush of investment to them as soon as the announcement goes out.

          Reply
          1. vaccine dream

            I’m still not following. I really can’t imagine freezer manufacturers and logistics people need to hear the official announcement before they get moving. They have probably been getting ready for a vaccine rollout since March.

            Rushing an announcement, it seems to me, is much more dangerous than anything else — people will say to themselves “well, no need to worry anymore, I’ll just take that vaccine! Time to tell my workers they have to come in, unmasked, or they’re fired!” And to me this seems more premature than delayed.

            Reply
            1. Yves Smith

              Huh? I suggest you get up to speed. We’ve posted on this. Building a cold chain for a vaccine that needs to be transported at -100F is a massive undertaking. The equipment is not readily available and the little fridges are prone to failure, particularly when they run on 110V instead of 220V, so you also need redundancy.

              Reply
      2. shinola

        How does the Hippocratic Oath square with corp. exec’s “Prime Directive” of maximizing shareholders “value”? /s

        Reply
      3. UserFriendly

        That isn’t how the trial works. Before even starting they pick a number of infections that will happen at which point they will unblind and calculate efficacy.

        Another important thing is the how you specify the interim analyses. Clinical trials often aren’t run “straight through” to the final data collection while flying blind the whole way. There are independent groups that keep an eye on the data (and on the adverse events), variously known as Data Monitoring Committees or Data and Safety Monitoring Boards, etc. These people are kept separate from the investigators, obviously. You need to lay out your plans for such interim looks at the data in advance, to avoid the temptation to move the goalposts once you’ve seen what’s going on. Note that none of these trials going to stop the study if they see good results early on – they’ll continue to collect data, but in the knowledge that they’re on to something effective. That’s both to get better statistics on the efficacy and to keep an eye out for safety: all these trials have prespecified alerts and stopping criteria if the DSMB sees a given number of adverse events as well.

        So for Moderna’s trial, they have estimated that they are likely to see about 150 infection events during the whole trial. They have specified an interim analysis at 53 events (35% of the way through) and another at 106 events (70% of the way). At that first IA, the study will be considered to be already declared a success (rejecting the null hypothesis that the VE is only 30% or below) if the p-value for such a rejection is less than 0.0002. That would mean that the vaccine itself would be at least 74% effective. If the efficacy doesn’t meet the cutoff at the first IA, success will be declared at the second one if the p-value for rejecting the null hypothesis is less than 0.0073, which would mean a VE of at least 56.5%. If they have to go all the way to the end, then they’ll need a p-value of less than 0.0227 to reject the null, and that would mean a VE of 50% (the FDA’s floor, and it is no accident whatsoever that these two coincide).

        As for Pfizer/BioNTech, they have a somewhat more aggressive approach. They calculate that they’ll hit 164 cases by the end of the study, and they have four IAs planned, at 32, 62, 92, and 120 cases. If they can reject the null hypothesis at that first one, that will be considered “overwhelming efficacy”, with a VE of at least 77%. The VEs if they clear the bar at the later analyses instead are 68%, 63%, and 59%, and if they make it only at the end of the study that would be a VE of 52%.

        The only thing that could have changed was the 32, and 62 check points. Wasn’t their that doctor on a mission trying to get them to not release the data early? But still that wouldn’t have enabled the authorization any sooner.

        Reply
        1. UserFriendly

          And here is what happened with the 32 and 62.

          You may recall that these vaccine trials are set up to get to a defined number of coronavirus cases overall, at which time the various monitoring committees lock the door and unblind the data to have a look at how things are going. Pfizer’s original plan (as mentioned in that post) was the most aggressive of them all – they were planning to take their first look once they hit 32 cases. But one of the things we learned from this morning’s press release is that the company and the FDA changed that, dropping the 32-case read in favor of a 62-case read. By the time they finished those negotiations, though, the number of cases had reached 94, so we actually have a much more statistically robust look than we would have otherwise. And the split between placebo-group patients and vaccine-arm patients is consistent with greater than 90% efficacy. That number will come into better focus, but I hope that we can continue to take 90% as the lower bound.

          So Trump can blame the FDA.

          Reply
          1. Larry

            I honestly don’t think Trump cared about any vaccine announcement. Trump wanted the vaccine to be available prior to the election, as in actual doses. Once he got past his little retreat at Walter Reed, it’s quite clear he pivoted to just downplaying the virus again. If he cared about taking the pandemic seriously he would not have been hosting superspreader events to regale DC with his shiny new Supreme Court Judge and flying for airport massive gatherings for his campaign. I seriously doubt that news of vaccine success (very preliminary news) would have helped Trump in the least.

            Reply
        2. TroyIA

          After public pressure the FDA changed their requirements to needing to see 2 months of safety data before weighing an EUA. In the case of Pfizer this change pushed back the earliest EUA until after the 3rd week of November instead of October. I’m paraphrasing from a CNBC report but the Pfizer stance became that since they couldn’t get an EUA until later in November why bother with an interim analysis in October. So next week Pfizer will file for an EUA and according to Moncef Slaoui it will be granted by Thanksgiving.

          As to people like Eric Topol demanding that the FDA needed more time to properly assess the risk of a vaccine it is curious that now they cheer the positive results and barely mention any risks.

          Reply
      4. UserFriendly

        I tried to reply to a comment of mine that was in moderation, but in case that doesn’t go through, Trump can blame the FDA.

        You may recall that these vaccine trials are set up to get to a defined number of coronavirus cases overall, at which time the various monitoring committees lock the door and unblind the data to have a look at how things are going. Pfizer’s original plan (as mentioned in that post) was the most aggressive of them all – they were planning to take their first look once they hit 32 cases. But one of the things we learned from this morning’s press release is that the company and the FDA changed that, dropping the 32-case read in favor of a 62-case read. By the time they finished those negotiations, though, the number of cases had reached 94, so we actually have a much more statistically robust look than we would have otherwise. And the split between placebo-group patients and vaccine-arm patients is consistent with greater than 90% efficacy. That number will come into better focus, but I hope that we can continue to take 90% as the lower bound.

        Of course the FDA guy promised to resign if there was any political interference so….

        Reply
      5. Eudaemon

        Personal opinion is that if faced with two candidates, one who is doing everything he can to undermine public health measures and to play down the severity of the disease and another who is aligned with public health and science, you could come to a pretty firm opinion that tipping the scales for science and against gross irresponsibility would ultimately result in FEWER deaths and so it is more in line with the Hippocratic Oath. Then again, based on contracts that the government holds for the two candidates, along with projected production and availability, I’m pretty convinced that the delay in the announcement will have no effect on the timeline for distribution and availability. In either case, I think it’s the moral choice.

        Reply
    2. tegnost

      note the irony…the title of this am’s truthout link…
      “trump-obstructing-bidens-transition-may-hinder-covid-vaccine-rollout”
      sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander, either we’re being stuffed for dinner

      Reply
      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        And how long is the immunity for goodness sake. I may just wear masks and wash my hands like Dylan until there’s some indication it is over a year.

        Reply
  2. Toshiro_Mifune

    Olbermann vs Trump

    I’m not saying Olbermann should be fed to a pack of rabid dogs, I’m just not averse to that happening.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      He’s making the classic rich guy argument–that is, “I’m the one paying the taxes so I should call the shots.” By this way of thinking the prey are sucking the life out of the poor predators (blue state financial institutions and other rentiers). As Scrooge would say (Christmas coming up), “are there no work houses for these red state layabouts?”

      Reply
      1. Pelham

        Exactly. Red states may receive a net largess from blue states through the public sector.

        But what about the private sector? Red states tend to be enormously productive in terms of manufacturing, mining and agriculture. But deep blue urban infestations in the blue states that house banks, markets and corporate headquarters suck away most of the wealth generated by the red states — with just a tiny fraction to be returned via the federal government.

        Skeptical? Call up a map of red vs. blue areas of the country by district, zip code or county. Then ask which areas would be most likely to thrive if the red and blue areas were entirely isolated from one another.

        Reply
        1. 430MLK

          That’s what I was thinking when I read Olbermann’s statements. Where I am in Kentucky, there’s a huge literature on outsider-owned mining and timber industries getting rich exploiting local workers and land as they powered the urban 20th century. I imagine that holds, in one form or another, for both sides of the Appalachian spine, the southwest, the rural West Coast, and most of the midwest.

          Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            This might spur people to start thinking about the difference between money and wealth.
            Because money and wealth are not the same thing.

            Reply
              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                ” Welcome to Appalachia. America’s Tibet.”

                I would like to see West Virginia change its own state name to Appalachia.
                Then they could make that phrase into their official state motto and put it on every ” welcome to . . . ” highway sign.

                Welcome To Appalachia. America’s Tibet.

                Reply
        2. The Rev Kev

          Thinking along the same lines as well. How some States act as wealth pumps for the rest of the country sucking it dry of resources and then whinge when some has to go back in the form of taxes that most billionaires and corporations don’t pay anyway. Olbermann is only looking at the situation from a very narrow viewpoint in order to virtue signal to a small segment of the population.

          Reply
    2. farragut

      I recall fondly watching Sportscenter back in the early- to mid-90s (when I cared more about college & pro sports); the show was at its peak. Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann, Craig Kilborn, et al., were at the top of their game, trading dry wit and bon mots throughout the show. It was equal parts entertainment and sports news. Had Olbermann always been this twisted and I simply missed it? To say he’s unhinged, today, is being generous.

      Reply
      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Since we’re talking about Olbermann, and Lambert gave us that Golden Oldie from President Bartlett (sigh) about faithless electors, here’s what for my money is still the textbook clinical manifestation of Trump Derangement Syndrome.

        The entire thing is pure awesomeness, but the real money shot is from 5:20-5:55…

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAFxPXGDH4E

        Reply
      2. fajensen

        I think it is about context. It is funny or at least acceptable when people stays within their reservation so to speak, once they get into new or contested territory it is very easy to screw up because ‘their spiel’ now assumes a different meaning, case in point:

        “Khloe Kardashian sparks backlash for ‘unethical’ promotion of expensive ‘Big Pharma’ drugs” …. Some also noted the medication is extortionately expensive, costing between $897 and over $1,000 for a package of eight doses without insurance

        Rappers and the “Kardashian-set” will regularly swill vodka or champagne easily costing that kind of money a bottle in front of their admiring fans, their fans all thinking that this just proves their idols ‘style’ and ‘success’.

        Medication does not work in the same way, but, this is maybe not immediately obvious for someone who’s main business is in conspicuous consumption?

        Of course some people just degrade and become odious with age or they become wealthy, wealth being a personality amplifier, it just turns out that they were arseholes all along but couldn’t let rip before because they needed to earn a living.

        Reply
    3. Alex

      Olbermann’s argument is for one-dollar-one-vote. He’s a modern Democrat, all right. Why stop at the granularity of states? Can’t we just sweep all those homeless people in (true blue) CA into the ocean or something?

      That infantile old timey newsman affectation he puts on is the cherry on top. Gross!

      Reply
    4. KLG

      Olbermann is still a thing? Who knew? But back when I had live TV in my house, he was good on Sports Center.

      Reminds one of this, it does: “I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product. So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward. And his whole campaign, ‘Make America Great Again,’ was looking backwards.”

      The great Herman Daly writes somewhere (Beyond Growth, I think, and I paraphrase) of hearing an economist comment that since agriculture is only 3% of GDP (or some similar number), why should we worry about those Red States? After which another observer asked, “What does this imbecile think we will eat?”

      Reply
  3. Tertium Squid

    Olbermann gives it away twice in the first sentence:

    “Without the money the financially successful blue states give them, the red states would starve

    Financially – i.e. is not a big part of this is rentier income acquired from elsewhere, and not actual production?
    Starve – Where does blue state food come from? Just who would starve if the flow of goods was halted along with the flow of money?

    Reply
    1. Greg

      This, was the obvious logical gap i stumbled on in his rant as well. A blue state rebellion would be hilariously short lived because they’re overpopulated and unproductive, except by measures which have nothing to do with survival. Finance vs food would be a battle I’d expect to end in hyperinflation and capitulation.

      Eta: i suspect this argument can only exist after the era of supermarkets has begun. Prior to that, you can’t be so blind to your dependence on agriculture.

      Reply
        1. flora

          All the better for local, community, and regional banks. This is not a joke. I welcome stronger local community banks. They “know their customers” and the local economies. Unlike the Wall St. tbtf banks.

          Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If every inhabitant of every Blue Zone City bought as much of their food as feasible from sources as local as possible, they would be directing more money to the rural ringzone right around their own urban metroplex area. Enough such spending might begin to get these near-country rural ring zones to lean blue. Such geographic targetted spending would also make possible the emergence of more blue-minded mini-farmers and micro-farmers in that near-country rural ring zone around each blue metroplex. It would be an evolutionary process, not an instant phase-change of state.

        Also, if every blue zone suburbanite turned their yard into a source of subsistence as much as possible, that might also slowly increase the level of blue-zone resiliency and self-defensibility.

        Reply
        1. Fwe'theewell

          Why the everloving heck should they go blue, exactly? Blue isn’t even going blue. Self-defensibility is an illusion. Self-sufficiency is unsustainable.

          Reply
    2. polecat

      Those lowlymoke deplorables folk ALSO have Plenty of rope, boulders, & timber inwhich to build and arm any necessary seige engines .. ditto for stocks and guillotines!
      Red citizens have been known to bush up of history too, now and then.

      just saying Keith .. you pseudointellectual yet Idiot!

      Reply
    3. Randy

      The red states produce food? I disagree, they produce commodities, mainly corn and soybeans which are used to produce food but mostly not directly eaten, also ethanol.

      As Trump and the Midwest found out from China, start screwing with the supply and the demand will go elsewhere. You can’t store commodities forever, especially when the limited storage capacity you have requires sales and your producers are overproducing in the first place.

      In the red states case, their commodities are easily replaced by somebody else’s commodities.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith

        Huh? Where do you think chicken (and therefore eggs), cattle (meat and dairy), and pork come from….both the critters and the processing? North Dakota is the biggest producer of dry beans.

        As anyone who has been to a farmer’s market or grown their own garden can attest, you don’t need California for veggies, even in places like Maine where you don’t plant before Memorial Day.

        And California depends on water from out of state, and also needs to truck its veggies and fruit through plenty of red states to get to those eastern blue cities.

        Reply
      2. IM Doc

        Wow- am constantly amazed by blue state arrogance. You really have no clue what you are talking about. I live in a very rural red state area. We are overrun with cows, chickens, pork, fruit trees, grain, meat processing plants, no corn or soybeans to be seen. Everyone – and I mean everyone – has vegetable gardens and fruit orchards. Canning going on all summer. We can live just fine without “commodities” from China or elsewhere.

        Seriously, you blue state people just keep talking to yourselves. Live and thrive in the echo chamber. If the end comes to this republic – I would MUCH rather be where I am now.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Virtually all the food grown & raised in California is in red bastions of the state. The nearest grown in proximity to LA is oranges in Fillmore, about 45 miles away.

          Reply
        2. Randy

          You assume I live in a blue state. Wrong! I live in Wisconsin ( a swing state) in a red area of the state. We have everything you mention above and we also have a lot of soybeans, corn and dairy but not everybody has vegetable gardens and fruit trees although there is a lot of those too. I grow most of my own vegetables and raise my own chickens but I can’t home grow everything. I produce most of my own electricity and heat with wood that I cut. I drive an EV powered by my solar panels and I am probably as self sufficient as anybody on this board.

          Our farmers are hurting because of a lack of markets for their products. I guarantee you if buyers were interested our producers would supply them regardless of who or where they are and this applies to any farmer regardless of what they produce. If they grow it, it has to be sold. When you produce crops like corn and soybeans on an industrial scale you don’t sell them at the local farmers market. If someone tried instigating an interstate trade war they would be shot down in flames because the red states aren’t the only places that know how to grow crops.

          Reply
  4. flora

    Following this morning’s links about corporate msm stenography, suppressing certain views “for our own good”, carefully editing the news for our own good, here’s something from Greenwald:

    What is actually “the single biggest threat to our democracy” is not, as Obama claims, the internet — that’s one of the key safeguards — but rather the attempt to *control* the internet by institutions of authority, including parties, the national security state and their allies:

    https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/1328750520274735106

    Reply
    1. Pat

      I think he has missed a couple of big players in this, the corporate owners of the major internet conglomerates. I am now more afraid of Zuckerberg than Murdoch twisting the news.

      Reply
    2. nippersdad

      He is just upping his game:

      “President Barack Obama warned House Democrats on Thursday not to read The Huffington Post if they want to be informed on trade issues.”

      And:

      “…the president told a group of students in 2011 that “if you read the Huffington Post…you’d think I was some right-wing tool of Wall Street.”

      https://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2015/01/obama-to-house-dems-dont-read-huffington-post-201856

      He still isn’t terribly subtle, though.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Wouldn’t it have been great if there would have been someone in that audience to stand up and say:

        “Yeah. Don’t read the Huffington Post. Read Naked Capitalism instead.”

        Reply
  5. charles pappas

    What you are saying is that the delay of a few day or weeks in announcing preliminary vacine results is now going to result in 2,250,000 additional deaths.

    Don’t think so.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Please don’t lie. And please don’t lie and assume the NC commentariat is incapable of reading the post. I wrote:

      could surely be calculated to an order of magnitude.

      Does that look like “2,250,000 additional deaths”? I don’t think so. Personally, I think a physician who delays a vaccine to deny his political opponent a victory at the cost of, oh, a mere two or three thousand deaths is violating their Hippocratic oath (not to mention putting the credibility of their profession at risk). Even if the deaths are prole deaths. If I interpret your comment correctly, you have a different view. I hope you find the happiness you seek elsewhere.

      Reply
      1. edmondo

        Dr. Fauci lied about masks. Why would you assume he wouldn’t lie about a vaccine?

        The next Trump will purge everyone on Inaugural Day. Trump was surrounded by a bunch of back-stabbing freaks.

        Reply
      2. Lindsay Berge

        Is there a link between the date of announcing the preliminary results of the vaccine and the approval of the vaccine? I would think that there is still a long time to go and more trials before the vaccine can be used and that date is more or less fixed by the time taken to complete all the trials and the approval process.

        Reply
      3. Janie

        Maybe I’m confused about the definition of “order of magnitude”. I also saw it as 250,000 times 10, then subtract the original number to get the increase.

        You are of course right about unnecessary deaths – abhorrent no matter how many or few.

        Reply
  6. tegnost

    Re Fender, that’s great… I’d like to see the product distribution. One of my neighbors is in one of the snowboard companies and over the summer merch was going like gangbusters, people using stimulus or extra unemployment. I would argue, not that I’m biased or anything, that buying a custom shop from fender is at least as good as money in the bank plus it keeps you from blowing the money on tacos. Guitar practice for me has varied through the lockdown phase, initially I practiced a lot, then fell off too much, and now back to my usual half hour or so in the mornings. Learning new songs and techniques helps with the malaise of the same old same old. I’m curious how other artistic pursuits, whether painters musicians photographers graphics jewelry makers and what have you, have weathered the past months?

    Reply
    1. Foy

      I’m learning the piano Tegnost – pretty slowly, my fingers just don’t go where I want them to, just another confirmation I’m not a kid anymore! I bought a good second hand keyboard for $100 not that long before COVID arrived, have been playing it a lot more since.

      But I have noticed a significant improvement over the last month, picking things up faster. I recently started learning Song For Guy by Elton John and I’ve got the 3/4 of it down now, last section to go, not exactly super smooth but ok. Not using sheet music, just learning by ear. Luckily a lot of the arpeggiation in it is similar to what I learnt in the beginning.

      And learnt I still get stage fright the moment I even think that someone is listening or watching me. In fact even if I just try to record it on my phone my playing goes to the dogs. Heisenberg was right!

      Reply
    2. David J.

      My pandemic playing habits mirror your experience, tegnost. I played a lot early on, dropped off for a while, and have recently become a bit more rigorous. When I play, it is mostly on my acoustics–I’ve barely touched my electric this year because I find that, for me, acoustics and playing alone go together better.

      Reply
    3. Janie

      Tegnost, I have been trying to play the piano more, but I have trouble focusing. Same with serious reading. Fingers dont work as well and I can’t memorize worth a hoot, but that’s been true for a while. Not a teenager any more, for which I am truly grateful.

      Reply
    4. eg

      I’m playing some guitar (about 45 minutes a day on weekdays) though I started up again about a year ago. My primary is a Washburn, not a Fender, though I have an acoustic of the latter. Only purchase was a practice amp when my old Peavey died — I replaced it with a Fender.

      I may take another crack at piano again, but that will have to wait until retirement, which is mercifully less than a year away.

      Reply
  7. barbara

    Re: Quillotine Watch. If you want a look at how the west was ruined by the rich, read James Galvin’s The Meadow – published in 1992. A poet and Wyoming resident – beautifully written and more relevant than ever.

    Reply
    1. hamstak

      That is possibly the most elegant typo of all time! “The Quillotine” (perhaps pronounced along French lines, KHEE-OH-TEEN would make a fine name for a weblog or what have you excoriating the wealthy and powerful for their indifference, venality, and excess.

      (I apologize if “Quillotine” was an intentional play on words.)

      Reply
  8. Pat

    I fully admit I do pull the pay more in taxes trope if someone brings up, the we’re supporting you trope. But I never like it. Just because I think that schools and libraries and public transportation in NYC should not suffer and that taxes should pay for them, does not mean I don’tte think that schools and libraries and even roads and broadband should suffer in upstate NY and in Mississippi. Our taxes should go for these things. I will add in that no American, especially children, should be hungry or homeless regardless of where they live.

    I do think that we need the electoral college, not because I don’t believe in majorities but because it is quite clear that a significant portion of our political class would never consider the population in more sparsely populated areas of America if they had the choice. Because they live in cities and travel the beltway I am more likely to have some of my concerns penetrate their bubble, unfortunately the same cannot be said much of the West, the Rust Belt, hell even the rural areas of the Northeast. This may mean they have to pretend every few years, but without the electoral college that little wouldn’t happen.

    Reply
    1. nippersdad

      I have pointed out on more than one occasion myself that no one would know there was a rust belt in Washington if the people in WI, MI and PA hadn’t pointed it out by destroying the so-called “blue wall” and electing Trump in ’16 through the EC.

      They still haven’t learned their lessons; Biden eagerly took Rick Snyder’s endorsement after he poisoned thousands of people in Flint. He should be more grateful for Tlaib and Omar, not to mention Sanders, than he is, IMHO.

      Reply
    2. Larry

      I think the electoral college is deeply undemocratic. It’s unfair that Republicans choice in national elections in MA basically has no effect. And it sets up a high stakes game of thievery and corruption in states where the votes are close and tipping a single state by thousands of votes makes the outcome different.

      Reply
  9. pjay

    Re booming Fender guitar sales.

    Makes sense. People need to accompany themselves on all those satirical lock-down songs my wife keeps showing me on her Facebook feed.

    I have to admit some of them are pretty good.

    Reply
  10. marku52

    Re Fender: I make bass guitar pickups and repair old tube amps. I have been surprised at how well my two tiny businesses have held up in the Pandemic….

    Reply
    1. BobW

      I thought the last tube manufacturer closed years ago. Is somebody picking up the slack? Used to have a tube caddy, but it disappeared, around the time my 8-track capstan burnishing machine did.

      Reply
      1. hunkerdown

        Russia never stopped making tubes. Vacuum tubes are still used industrially to this day in radio transmitters and similar applications demanding a high frequency·power product. As for consumer-type tubes found in audio gear, there is a US company called New Sensor that owns a number of vacuum tube brands and a few factories in former Eastern Bloc countries. There is also a large manufacturer in China called Shuguang that produces under their own name and for other brands.

        Reply
      2. Old Jake

        Nope, several companies still make them (OK, at least two) in particular the 6L6GC, 6SL7 and 5AR4 for my B-15. Costs are a lot higher than back in the day though. $40 each for a power tube. Up to $200 for a full set. And I paid $50 for the while thing back in the day.

        Reply
    2. Old Jake

      Oh, can you make something that sounds like a Telecaster Bass pickup? I played a Tele bass once and it sounded wicked – unique. I’ve never seen one since.

      Reply
  11. TMoney

    Hurrah for civic duty ! I will applaud and second your support for the upholding of noble ideas. I fear we are a minority, perhaps not on NC, where decency and civility still reign, but almost certainly in the wider world.

    Reply
  12. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    At this stage 73 million people know they were cheated. How would they define cheating?

    MSM – Four years of hysterical lies about how their man was controlled by The Kremlin. The entire press corps was allied in unified opposition to the elected president. Good luck arguing this one.
    Polls – Blatantly rigged to favor the other side and discourage Trump voters. Given the results good luck arguing this one.
    Cyber – Blanket one-sided censorship, Blue Checking, search result games, and deplatforming. Case closed.
    Primaries – Show me a single democratic thing about how Bernie was knifed or how the sneering IdPol queen who received zero primary delegates was elevated.
    People – Q: Did former president Obama label Trump voters “racists” in his new book? A: Yes. Q: Did his wife say all Trump voters voted for “lies, hate, and chaos”? A: Yes.
    Voting – Q: Can a Secretary of State legally change State laws in a Federal election (GA)? A: No. Q: Can a governor legally change State laws in a Federal election (PA)? A: No. Was the Smartmatic/Dominion software designed from the outset to allow external parties to remotely change vote tallies? A: Yes. Q: Was the software used to change the vote results in places like Venezuela? A: Yes. Q: Did Liz Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Ron Wyden send a letter from Congress expressing deep concerns about Smartmatic/Dominion software security in Dec 2019? A: Yes. Is Smartmatic chairman Peter Neffinger on Biden’s transition team? A: Yes.

    Good luck extracting legitimacy from all this. It will not be the fault of Trump voters when you can’t.

    Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        “In November 2020, Neffenger was named a volunteer member of the Joe Biden presidential transition Agency Review Team to support transition efforts related to the Department of Homeland Security.[10]

        Neffinger is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Smartmatic, a multinational company that specializes in building and implementing electronic voting systems.[11]”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_V._Neffenger

        Reply
    1. a different chris

      That’s not cheating. That’s politics.

      >Polls – Blatantly rigged to favor the other side

      No, Polls are crap. That’s not the same thing. Why don’t you think they were rigged that way in order to turnout worried Trump voters? But because your boy lost, so it is unquestionably the other way ’round. Sure. Refer back to the “crap” part.

      >Did former president Obama label Trump voters “racists” in his new book?

      Everybody’s entitled to their opinion.

      >Voting – Q:

      Give me a break. The voting was fine. The con was in under “Primaries”, you even seemed to get that, then lost the thread. Read your own words again – I don’t need to control the voting machines if I can ensure the selections. Capiche?

      And it’s not even “make sure Joe is the nominee!”. It’s, again, as you seemed to half-get, “make sure it isn’t Bernie the rest have already been screened long ago so let the unwashed feel like they picked one”

      >Good luck extracting legitimacy from all this. It will not be the fault of Trump voters when you can’t.

      Yes it will. You are destroying what little options we have. You are the ones trying to cast doubt on its legitimacy.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        MSM: “politics”, or the Fairness Doctrine? “On June 24, 2008, U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the Speaker of the House at the time, told reporters that her fellow Democratic Representatives did not want to forbid reintroduction of the Fairness Doctrine, adding “the interest in my caucus is the reverse.” When asked by John Gizzi of Human Events, “Do you personally support revival of the ‘Fairness Doctrine?'”, the Speaker replied “Yes.”

        “On August 22, 2011, the FCC voted to remove the rule that implemented the Fairness Doctrine, along with more than 80 other rules and regulations, from the Federal Register following an executive order by President Obama directing a “government-wide review of regulations already on the books” to eliminate unnecessary regulations.”

        Polls: “When voters learn that a party is gaining in the polls, voters will be more likely to vote for it. There is also some evidence for the negative bandwagon effect. We find no evidence for the underdog effect.
        https://www.researchgate.net/publication/309278586_How_are_Voters_Influenced_by_Opinion_Polls_The_Effect_of_Polls_on_Voting_Behavior_and_Party_Sympathy

        Cyber: No mention in your argument. Of course not, it’s irrefutable.

        Voting: So illegal changes to voting procedures are “fine”. Very on-brand for Team D to attempt to ignore state and Federal law.

        Primaries: Thread not lost at all. They were rigged and everybody knows it.

        People “everybody is entitled to their opinion”. So when the former President of the United States says that anyone who did not vote for him is a racist, you are fine with that. Good to know. Divisive much? Legitimacy much?

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Before people jump in with labels I will just say that I do not give much of a g*ddamn about parties, candidates, or even policies. What I care most about is institutions like freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the rule of law, and rule by the consent of the governed provided at the ballot box in election processes that people can trust. Let’s go back there.

          Reply
    2. Alex Cox

      “Was the software used to change the vote results in places like Venezuela?”
      Well, was it? Please explain how, for whose benefit, and what other places are like Venezuela.

      Reply
    3. marym

      “Smartmatic/Dominion” doesn’t seem to be an entity.

      https://www.newsweek.com/who-peter-neffenger-biden-transition-team-member-may-target-trump-lawsuit-1547777
      “On Sunday, [Trump attorney] Powell cited Neffenger’s name while discussing the legal team’s accusations against Dominion Voting Systems because he is chairman on the board of directors at Smartmatic, another company that designs electronic voting systems. Smartmatic released a statement clarifying that it is not associated with Dominion Voting Systems, and that in fact “the two companies are competitors in the marketplace.””

      https://www.smartmatic.com/us/media/article/smartmatic-s-response-to-misinformation/
      “Smartmatic has never owned any shares or had any financial stake in Dominion Voting Systems. Smartmatic has never provided Dominion Voting Systems with any software, hardware or other technology. The two companies are competitors in the marketplace.”
      2019 letter
      https://www.warren.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/H.I.G.%20McCarthy,%20&%20Staple%20Street%20letters.pdf
      Election Systems & Software, Dominion Voting Systems, and Hart InterCivic (not Smartmatic)

      fwiw – lengthy discussion of the parts and pieces of the story:
      https://apnews.com/article/fact-checking-afs:Content:9740535009

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Again, you have to pierce The Great Firewall to get to the timeline:

        The year 2000: Smartmatic was founded by three engineers from Venezuela and officially incorporated in Delaware in 2000 after the hanging chad controversy in the 2000 US presidential election. Smartmatic established its headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida.

        The Year 2004: Smartmatic expanded rapidly between 2000 and 2004 with offices in Venezuela, London, Florida, and California. Litigations of its connections with the Chávez regime never ended.

        Smartmatic bought Bizta, in which both Smartmatic and the Venezuelan government had large stakes. “The Miami Herald revealing that the Venezuelan government owned 28 percent of Bizta – a company operated by two of the same people who own Smartmatic. Bizta bought back those shares after the article appeared, and Smartmatic now characterizes the deal as a loan.

        “Bizta and Smartmatic had partnered with Venezuelan telephone giant CANTV to win a $91 million contract to supply electronic voting machines for Venezuelan elections, including the controversial 2004 referendum Chavez won. Smartmatic categorically denies any link to the Chavez regime.”

        (Source: https://votingmachines.procon.org/additional-resources/sequoia-alleged-to-have-ties-to-venezuelas-chavez/ )

        “Smartmatic was a little-known firm with no experience in voting technology before it was chosen by the Venezuelan authorities to replace the country’s elections machinery ahead of a contentious referendum that confirmed Mr. Chavez as president in August 2004…“

        (Source: “U.S. Investigates Voting Machines’ Venezuela Ties,” New York Times – Oct. 29, 2006 https://votingmachines.procon.org/additional-resources/sequoia-alleged-to-have-ties-to-venezuelas-chavez/)

        The Year 2005: Smartmatic purchased Sequoia Voting Systems, one of the leading US companies in automated voting products.

        The Year 2006: Sequoia provided technical assistance in the elections held in Chicago and Cook County by sending a number of Venezuelan nationals to support the machines manufactured by Sequoia.
        (Source: ABC Local, 7 April 2006, Alderman: Election Day troubles could be part of ‘international conspiracy’)

        “Meanwhile, a Carnegie Mellon University computer science professor recently concluded after two days of testing that vote totals on a Sequoia model, different from those used here, could be manipulated. That prompted Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County to scrap plans to buy the machines.”
        (Source: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2006-04-08-0604080149-story.html)

        “The federal government is investigating the takeover last year of a leading American manufacturer of electronic voting systems by a small software company that has been linked to the leftist Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez… “

        (source: https://votingmachines.procon.org/additional-resources/sequoia-alleged-to-have-ties-to-venezuelas-chavez/)
        Smartmatic Corp sold its U.S. subsidiary Sequoia to end a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. into whether Smartmatic is partially owned by the Venezuelan government.
        (Source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB116674617078557263)

        Bain Capital purchased Sequoia (Smartmatic-US).

        (https://seeingtheforest.com/why-did-romney-associates-buy-a-big-voting-machine-company/)

        The Year 2011: Dominion Voting Systems, a previously little-known Canadian company engaged in manufacturing electronic voting hardware and optical scanners, acquired Sequoia Voting Systems

        The Year 2014: Sequoia filed a bankruptcy petition under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code.

        Reply
        1. marym

          The Smartmatic US board of directors, with Neffenger as chairman, seems to have been stablished in 2018. The AP link in my comment said Smartmatic supplied voting tech only to Los Angeles in 2020.

          Other than it being a big club and we’re not in it (definitely always worthy of concern), an alleged Neffenger tie with alleged fraud in the 2020 US election doesn’t really jump out of that timeline, though.

          https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20181024005103/en/Security-and-Election-Experts-Form-Smartmatic-US-Board

          Reply
          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Smartmatic buys Sequoia. Then Romney Associates buys Sequoia. Then Dominion buys Sequoia. Dominion made “donations” to the Clinton “Foundation” in 2014. Nancy Pelosi’s former Chief of Staff Nadeam Elshami works for Dominion.

            Draw your own conclusions as to how much code, contact, and influence followed those trails. When I’m walking in a field and the smell of the contents of a cow’s lower intestine waft over me I do not immediately remark “oh, I love roses!”

            Reply
  13. km

    I do not know about Marshall amps, but hobby shops have been able to sell all the stock that they have, and have raised their prices accordingly.

    In fact, their big problem, taking into account the disruption of supply chains from Asia, has been getting product to sell.

    Reply
  14. Fox Blew

    Lambert. Can I simply thank you for spelling out to me the concept of “the PMC gaining a class consciousness”. While this may have appeared obvious to other NC readers, I have to admit that it wasn’t clear to me until your summary a few days ago. I’ve been chewing on this since and it has been very enlightening.

    Reply
    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      That phrasing struck me as well. I think my historical understanding of events like the Dreyfus affair has deepened a lot with recent events.

      Reply
  15. Lambert Strether Post author

    Please refresh your browsers, the 2020 section is completely reworked, including much material that justifies my inclusion of the quote: “They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.”

    Reply
  16. hunkerdown

    Fender has their own range of economy amps, which pair reasonably well with a $300 economy guitar. Generally, they are respectable solid-state adaptations of vacuum tube preamp designs, with a solid-state power stage. Marshall is a much smaller company and their economy amps are pretty close to the same as Fender’s.

    For the cottage producer, the trend is to do processing “inside the box” in the audio workstation software on the PC or device (free-$hundreds with many good options <$100), using a plugin like Guitar Rig Pro ($199) to take the clean, unprocessed signal from the guitar’s pickups and process it into a very good facsimile of what you would hear if you had a Marshall JCM800 head ($1000-2200 depending on edition) and cabinets (full stack starts at $800) miked up ($90 and up plus furniture) in a studio and dialed in to your taste, with all the automation, dynamic cable-swinging, and non-destructive editing capabilities software makes easy. Plus the neighbors don’t complain as loudly.

    Reply
    1. YetAnotherChris

      Vox has a single-valve amp that uses solid state modeling in the output stage. It can pretty well mimic anything from a clean Fender Twin to a crusty Marshall. Mine is a highly portable 50-W combo. I used to be a tube purist [Laney] but I couldn’t be happier with this rig.

      Reply
  17. Rock Hard

    Fender may be having a banner year, but I just got an email from Musician’s Friend assuring me that everything would be fine even though their parent, Guitar Center, had just filed Chapter 11. Another glorious private equity success story!

    Reply
  18. a different chris

    >Purest projection, from people who either have the memory of goldfish or are completely disingenuous. Or both! I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

    Uh, Ms. Clinton won the popular vote by like 30 jillion or something. You need to put those numbers into any “exercise” of outrage before you jump to your scoffing. It’s not apples to apples.

    Reply
    1. pjay

      She won the popular vote by a little under 3 million… because she won California by well over 4 million. Otherwise…

      Of course she lost several close swing state races, so I’m sure they were very frustrated. And there were the Russians…

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        And the Electoral College helps to ensure that the smaller population states are taken into consideration. It prevents The Chosen Ones like Clinton from ignoring those states without cost. She ignored them and so she lost.

        That is fine with this Californian.

        Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            Originally it was only landowners that could vote. That was how the rotten borough system came about in the UK and the worse example of this was Old Sarum in Wiltshire which was ‘an uninhabited hill which elected two Members of Parliament’ each election cycle. If you enjoy a bit of history, here is how it went in the 1802 election-

            ‘This election for the borough of Old Sarum was held in a temporary booth erected in a cornfield, under a tree which marked the former boundary of the old town, not a vestige of which has been standing in the memory of man, the several burgages which give the right of voting, being now without a dwelling for a human being. Mr Dean, the bailiff of the borough having read the precept for the election, and caused proclamation thereof, read the bribery act, and gone through all the legal ceremonies, the Rev. Dr Skinner rose and nominated Nicholas Vansittart, and Henry Alexander, Esq., from a thorough conviction that their public conduct would be such as would give satisfaction and do honour to their constituents. The other electors acquiescing in this nomination and no other candidates offering, the proclamation was thrice made for any gentleman disposed to do so, to come forward, the bailiff declared the above two gentlemen to be duly elected. There were five electors present at this election, (beside the bailiff of the borough who lives at Wimborne) viz, the Rev. Dr. Skinner, of the Close; the Rev. Mr. Burrough, of Abbot’s Ann; William Dyke, Esq., of Syrencot; Mr. Massey and Mr. Brunsdon, both occupiers of land within the limits of the borough. The above account is thus particularly given to rectify several prevalent mistakes relative to this celebrated borough, and to show that the election is conducted in a manner every way consonant to the law of the land and the constitution of Parliament.’

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              The above account is thus particularly given to rectify several prevalent mistakes relative to this celebrated borough, and to show that the election is conducted in a manner every way consonant to the law of the land and the constitution of Parliament.’

              Just like how bribery in these United States of America is completely legal nowadays.

              Reply
  19. jr

    Office of the Ambassador to the Others:

    https://www.latest-ufo-sightings.net/2020/11/zimbabwe-ufo-child-conactee-speaks-publicly-for-the-1st-time.html

    This is Emily Trim, who as a child of 9 was visited by entities of unknown origin along with several other children while playing at the Ariel Primary School near Ruma, Zimbabwe. She recounts her and another girl’s communication with the entities and displays artwork she created that was inspired by the experience.

    These are excerpts from a documentary about the encounter that includes the accounts of other children who were there as well:

    https://youtu.be/XO3puAsPS-I

    https://youtu.be/Cw4DdRPHuxM

    Reply
  20. amfortas the hippie

    marshall amps were where my mind went, too
    instantly

    i reckon that such equipment will be had for a song in the next couple of years

    Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          i was assuming desperation by then.
          pawn shops overflowing with rockstar gear…by newly precarious folk trying to put food on their families.

          Reply
  21. kareninca

    A guy was standing at the driving exit of the Palo Alto TJ’s today, with a sign asking for “anything.” I usually give some (not much) money to people who ask. It doesn’t come up a lot since this is a rich area. Yes, these are dire times around here, but this guy looked so healthy!!! He was in his 20s (with a mask you could still tell), and he was about as fit looking as any regular person I’ve seen, other than the glasses. I almost wasn’t going to give him anything, but then decided you never know so I gave him five bucks through the window just in case. And then when he thanked me I could tell by his voice that he really needed it; that was so awful, and I wished I hadn’t been cheap.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      reckon the colonel read this after one too many dixie cups of rainwater and grain alcohol:https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2020/11/13/covid-19-is-the-agenda-biden-is-merely-the-delivery-vehicle/#more-203820

      much more cogent)or sober)….and except for the repeated assertions that the “Weaponized Federal State” is somehow “Far Left”,and the hyperventilating about “Regulation”, i can definitely see a move by the PTB…taking advantage of the disruption…to assert more control over the Herd. Just like 9-11…Use the Chaos and Fear(F.U.D.), and pull things out of drawers in the pentagon that you’ve wanted for a long while.
      what did we think End-Stage Supercapitalism would entail?
      but it’s buried so far under the RW IdPol bullshit, that it’s hard to see.
      the Mindfuck is a Bipartisan Endeavor.
      They’ll ride us all down to the bottom, rather than change their position in the heap.

      Reply
    2. hunkerdown

      SST is consisteny pro-oligarch and terrible on domestic politics. What you see is Col. Lang reposting the neoliberal Federalist Society’s whiny pulp fiction under an alarming headline, just as the oligarchy has at some point paid all of them to do. Not that there is any domestic US politics that isn’t terrible.

      Reply
    3. Glen

      Just by looking at the link – that’s not good. Go look at ANY of the numerous reports from China during the lock down and after, and you will see a couple things over, and over, and over:

      1) EVERYBODY wears a mask.
      2) Many high exposure workers wear full PPE (better than what our medical workers wear in the US.)

      Then go look at Youtube from ANY of the the other countries doing as well as China such as Korea, Vietnam, etc:

      1) EVERYBODY wears a mask.
      2) PPE everywhere.

      I am a big believer in allowing Americans to do what they want. It is part of what makes our country great, but that was three dead uncles, and numerous very sick family members ago. So unfortunately, my family knows all too well that you may not believe in the virus, but it don’t give a flying [family blog] about your beliefs.

      Right now, we’re self-isolating because we have been exposed to somebody that was exposed to somebody that tested positive. And I’m damned if I’m going to get anybody else sick. You do not want this stuff. Generally, it’s a non-event, but, but all too often – it is going to wreck you or someone you love.

      So yeah, I wear a mask, and not because I like it, or I’m making a statement, or I don’t want to get it. I do it because I RESPECT YOUR LIFE AND YOUR RIGHTS. BECAUSE I DON’T WANT WHAT HAS HAPPEN TO ME TO HAPPEN TO YOU.

      Reply
    4. Samuel Conner

      Very rough back-of-envelope: US excess mortality due to CV-19 as a fraction of all causes mortality is approaching levels comparable to US combat mortalities as a fraction of all causes mortalities in the world wars. I don’t yet see a national mobilization at the scale of a world-war winning effort.

      The concern about infringements on liberty expressed there strikes me as over-blown. And the lack of concern about the medical consequences of the pandemic strikes me as … inexplicable.

      Maybe high casualties isn’t a problem from that point of view.

      Reply
  22. Dr. John Carpenter

    RE: Biden (D)(3): The famous empathy: Hey neat-o Joe. So, are those folks gonna get paid for taking that time off so they can actually afford to do so? There going to be any repercussions, spoken or understood, for taking such time? How about inshrining something like that into law and allowing everyone that as an option?

    (Cynical, me? Nah. I mean, who doesn’t like cutting short spending time with their family after burying their father because you gotta be back at work?)

    Reply
  23. Phillip Cross

    re: ““The Exit Polls Show The Need To Confront COVID-19 Denial in Red America” “‘

    The elephant in the room is not what Trump was saying to deny Covid at press conferences, but what the cultists were saying to each over on social media.

    Gullible American Christians have been telling each other a pretty sordid tale on Facebook. You know, it’s the one about how the Democrats (and the fake news media) are in league with Satan himself. They are kidnapping and killing children, and forcefully aborting fetuses in order to use a chemical generated by their stress, in the process of brewing an elixir of youth. Incredibly, they believe that Donald Trump is on a lone crusade to stop these devil worshipers.

    Judging by the diverse crowds at some of those “save the children” rallies, this fable resonated with many who normally do not go in for the usual far right conspiracies. It would not surprise me if Trumps surprise showing with minorities was driven by credulous religious types who believed the story.

    Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          lol. thanks.
          I sort of wandered away after i finally got the dead hip replaced(after 6 1/2 years of needing it).
          for a year or so afterwards, i wasn’t “bouncing back” as well as i wanted….nothing to do with myself.(we were living in town, in the Barrio)
          so i launched the physical therapy/art project/Magical Working of building this house…and have been pretty busy ever since.
          https://amfortasthehippie.blogspot.com/2016/04/house.html
          “τετέλεσται “=” it is accomplished”= what Jesus is alleged to have said as he died.

          Reply
    1. Michael Fiorillo

      It’s a Jungian fever dream, refracting actual Epstein-type crimes through their own lenses.

      Live long enough, and you see these things pop up every few decades: in the early 80’s, there were the satanic abuse scandals which, while not politicized, were even more insane. Coming on the heels, at least metaphorically, of the Reagan administration classifying ketchup as a vegetable in order to mask school lunch cutbacks, I’ve always taken these moral panics to be a sublimated way of Amercians dealing with their guilt about the mundane abuse/neglect/treatment of American children as a class.

      Reply
      1. Martin Oline

        Ah yes , the McMartin Day Care scandals I think. I remember reading about them in the Anderson Valley Advertiser. It was a story guaranteed to confirm just how stupid the social workers and psychiatrists were who helped those little darlings ‘recover’ their memories of flying up the coast in helicopters, being molested by big name Hollywood stars, and getting back in time for mommy to pick them up for music and dance lessons. My favorite part of the paper was the sheriff calls:
        This is 911. What is your emergency?
        Yes, I was at the free box in town and a woman was soliciting me for sex!
        Was she asking for money?
        Well no, she was in the free box.

        Reply
  24. Darthbobber

    MoA’s Fauci story. I think he’s injecting Fauci into the story with little reason. The materials he actually quotes seem to say clearly that the delay stemmed from the companies themselves and that the FDA approved what they were doing. And only in the case of Moderna would Fauci’s agency have even been in the loop.

    On Pfizer’s reasoning, there’s this Propublica piece from the 19th of October,
    https://www.fiercepharma.com/vaccines/who-decides-when-vaccine-studies-are-done-internal-documents-show-fauci-plays-a-key-role
    which mentions this from their CEO the previous Friday

    “Pfizer’s CEO, Albert Bourla, said Friday that the earliest his company would be ready to apply for authorization would be the third week of November. While Pfizer might know by the end of October if its vaccine is effective, it would need additional time to gather sufficient safety data to present to the FDA, Bourla said in an open letter on the company’s website.”

    As to “claims” the firms intended to make at various benchmarks, this seems to be about claims they would be making to the regulatory bodies, not necessarily the public, and doesn’t say anything about how much time might elapse between meeting the internal benchmark that would let them claim something and getting that appropriately dressed up for giving to the FDA and others.

    Reply
  25. lobelia

    I just want to know in what just world has Jeff Bezos, a destroyer of masses of worker lives and small business owner lives, been allowed to launch an online pharmacy? https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8957315/Amazon-launches-online-pharmacy-new-contest-drug-retail.html

    HIPAA Medical Privacy Rights [The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996] always did suck, a lot! (thanks Bill and Al) but this is the nail in the coffin.

    Don’t even want to know the behind the scenes conversations he’s been having with the likes of Biden’s unofficial advisor Obombya, Kamala, and the DOD, the timing is just too indicative.

    Fentanyl apparently needs to made an OTC [Over the Counter, no prescription required] med, so we are allowed to decide whether we can bear living in this increasingly predatory, oxygen sucking hell.

    Reply
  26. fresno dan

    “The Great Revenge – How Tony Fauci F*cked Donald Trump” [Moon of Alabama].
    But with at least the knowledge of Fauci and the Federal Drug Administration both companies deviated from their clinical protocols to intentionally move their success announcement to a date after the election.”
    =============================================
    Just to quibble, as I used to work at the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) there is no such thing as the “Federal Drug Administration.” CAVEAT – I have not read the article yet.
    As to the substance, clinical protocols do not address when companies can make press releases or the substance of press releases. There are committees known as IRB (Institutional Review Boards) and during these meeting, the data and its interpretation of the therapeutic (or vaccine) is discussed. A firm releasing information that is contradicted by the data would be frowned upon by FDA.
    After the IRB process, generally firms want to schedule an Advisory committee meeting for the particular kind of therapeutic as soon in advance as possible and to coincide with the expected approval window, as important approvals are put before the applicable advisory committee as a condition of approval. It was an axiom at FDA that for blockbuster drugs, every delayed day of approval could cost 100 million dollars, so although FDA has no explicit authority with regard to companies and advertising hype, getting FDA annoyed at a company could have some serious financial repercussions.
    THEREFORE, companies themselves are very careful about premature optimism prior to these FDA committee meetings.
    Also, many things that a company says can be construed as meeting the labeling regulations. I would have to reread those regulations, and I am not a lawyer, nor do I know specifically how FDA uses those regulations with regard to pre approval press releases by the firm

    Reply
  27. Jessica

    “the number of deaths resulting from a delaying the announcement of a vaccine”
    If I understand this correctly, they only delayed making a mid-way announcement of progress. This should not affect the date at which the vaccine starts being put into use.
    Instead of announcing in November that they were about two months away from starting use, they would have announced in October that they were three months away.
    The effect on the election, however, is another matter. If anything could have swayed voters at that point, announcement of an imminent successful vaccine would have been it.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If I understand this correctly, they only delayed making a mid-way announcement of progress. This should not affect the date at which the vaccine starts being put into use.

      Leaving aside the issue of whether we want press releases from Big Pharma to drive election results, we’re working in a privatized system. I would speculate that investment in supply chain firms like freezer manufacturers and so forth would be driven by Mr. Market, and Mr. Market is driven by the press releases (and associated ramping by Fauci and his ilk).

      Reply
      1. Noone from Nowheresville

        I would speculate that investment in supply chain firms like freezer manufacturers and so forth would be driven by Mr. Market, and Mr. Market is driven by the press releases (and associated ramping by Fauci and his ilk).

        @Lambert: Except that it shouldn’t with an Operation Warp Speed type pandemic operation. Why would any risk management team leave that to chance unless they were told to do so?

        Would any mid-sized / regional US company invest in such an operation without knowing they at least had a real shot at getting the bid?

        Everyone knows (or should after the last 2 decades – at least) about Federal no-bid contracts, imported products and monopoly industries so I think you’re looking at the biggies who will wait to see where the contract wind blows, especially now with an executive branch change. A whole new group well-known players are about to enter the game.

        Reply
  28. flora

    re: UPDATE Trump (R)(2): “Republicans livid over Trump’s plan to reduce troops in Afghanistan” – [Politico].

    Politico is making a serious run to replace WaPo as the Congressional “everybody knows” publication. /heh

    Reply
  29. flora

    re: “Celebrities are urging the Electoral College not to vote for Trump”

    A sad swan song for the actors in that advert. Ah well, actors gotta eat.

    Reply
  30. Cuibono

    The question is, what did the executives know at the time that they pre-scheduled the trade?

    isnt that just one question?

    Isnt the other: could they time the news release to meet the planned sale?

    Reply
  31. VietnamVet

    There is a professional managerial class. I agree that it achieved consciousness in the Trump Era. Joe Biden has been one for 48 years. Donald Trump isn’t. He is a third-generation plutocrat pissing away his family’s wealth. He achieved fame by self-identifying the majority of American myths and its know-nothing core beliefs and delivering them back to his supporters, all 73 million of them. Many dreamed up by Madison Avenue. His foundational delusion was that the President reigns and he left behind his privileged life in Trump Tower for the White House. Neoliberal capitalism does not want you to know that it is 540 billionaires who purchase professional political expertise, dismantled democracy, and run everything thanks to supranational trade institutions until COVID-19 tossed everything upside down.

    Donald Trump was never bought and is interfering with money transfer scams of the other oligarchs. The basic flaw of the last 40 years that is not going away, no matter how dark it gets this winter, is the fact that the US federal government no longer serves or protects its people.

    Reply
    1. skippy

      Beg to disagree and Trumps only drama is he tried to get his entire family on the life raft regardless of optics … a bridge too far …

      Reply

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