2:00PM Election Day Water Cooler 11/3/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I will put up on Election Post/Open Thread at 7:00PM. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Seems appropriate…


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

Here are the United States regions:

Still going up…

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

Looks like a little relief for Texas….

Another natural experiment:

The entire thread is well worth a read. And the companion piece to the thread–

“Don’t Ignore the Good News On Covid-19 From Asia” [Bloomberg]. “The perception of an Asian advantage in this pandemic often falls prey to essentialist thinking: That somehow the East is doing things the West could never do, and that it’s largely down to profound differences in values, politics and culture…. There are likely far less intangible forces at work. If the key to avoiding more lockdowns is finding a way to ‘live with the virus’ — through widespread testing, tracing of contacts and isolating positive cases to slow transmission — Western countries have made structural, not cultural, errors…. The differences between Asia and Europe look more rooted in recent, not ancient, history. Over the past 20 years, Asia has been hit with several epidemics, such as SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2015, which forced countries to adapt and improve their institutions. This also spurred countries to invest in public health: Between 2000 and 2016, Vietnam’s per-capita health spending increased by an average of 9% per year. By contrast, European countries have been shutting hospitals and beds, with financial crises more front of mind than disease. As Europeans start their winter lockdown, they should remember that improvements are achievable. And the good news is that countries are collaborating more at the EU level, on efforts such as rolling out quicker antigen tests and sharing resources. If Asia managed to learn from past pandemics, the West should be able to as well.” • “Should,” yes.


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

The electoral map. July 17: Georgia, Ohio, ME-2 move from Leans Republican to Toss-up. Continued yikes. On July 7, the tossup were 86. Only July 17, they were 56. Now they are 91. This puts Biden at 278, i.e. over 270. August 18: Still no changes. August 31: Indiana moves from Likely to Safe Republican. September 9: No changes. September 14: No changes. September 21: No changes. September 22: Ohio moves from Toss-up to Leans Republican. September 25: Ohio moves from Leans Republican to Toss-up. September 30: Iowa moves from Leans Republican to Toss-up. October 3: Indiana moves from Safe to Likely Republican; Iowa moves from Toss-up to Leans Republican. October 6: Arizona moves from Toss-up to Leans Democratic; Iowa from Leans Republican to Toss-up; Indiana from Likely to Safe Republican; New Mexico from Likely to Safe Democratic. October 8: NE-2 moves from Toss-up to Leans Democratic. October 13: Indiana moves from Likely to Safe Republican. October 16: Indiana moves from Safe to Likely Republican. October 19: No changes. October 21: NE-1 moves from Likely to Safe Republican. October 24: Indiana moves from Likely to Safe Republican. November 1: Indiana moves from Likely to Safe Republican; Minnesota from Leans to Likely Democratic. Big move on Minnesota!

Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

The election countdown:

Here is an early voting calendar. Maybe we’ll have a whole series of October surprises, since election day is gradually being devalued as an event.

And here are mail-in voting ruies, which naturally differ state by state.

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

“How to Vote in 2020: Everything You Need to Know” [Bloomberg]. “Casting a ballot in the U.S. isn’t always easy, with a complex web of varying state rules governing how and when you can vote. The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced even more complexity in 2020, as many states have made significant changes to allow for more early voting or voting by mail. More changes could come as lawsuits in several states wind their way through the courts. That’s why Bloomberg News is answering these critical questions so you’ll know what you need to do to make sure your vote is counted in the 2020 election.”

Here are is an enormous spreadsheet on voting equipment, so you can check your own jurisdiction (hat tip, UserFriendly. I should really aggregate these onto a map…).

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

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

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

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

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


Swing States

Here is my list of Swing States, with votes in the Electoral College and selected ballot initiatives in parentheticals):

  • Arizona (11) (marijuana; taxes(=)
  • Colorado (9) (taxes, lottery, abortion, paid medical leave)
  • Florida (29) (minimum wage)
  • Georgia (16) (declaratory relief)
  • Iowa (6) (Constitional convention)
  • Maine-02 (1) (vax)
  • Michigan (16) (oil and gas royalties; privacy)
  • Minnesota (10)
  • Nebraska-02 (1) (payday lending; gambling)
  • Nevada (6) (marriage)
  • New Hampshire (4)
  • North Carolina (15)
  • Ohio (18)
  • Pennsylvania (20)
  • Texas (38)
  • Wisconsin (10)

Inspired by the thread starting with Arizona Slim’s comment here, I went to Ballotpedia and added selected, hopefully hot button, ballot initiatives, because sometimes they affect turnout. If you live in a swing state, please comment if I got the hot buttons wrong!

UPDATE PA: “Pennsylvania governor appears in new ad warning election results may take ‘a few days'” [The Hill]. “Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) will star in an ad airing tomorrow through the end of the week throughout his state warning voters about the time it will take to accurately count all votes cast in the state for the 2020 elections. CNN reported that the ad, which was funded by nonpartisan voter participation group The Voter Project, is reportedly aimed at dispelling concerns about the accuracy and speed by which votes will be counted amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led many Americans to vote by mail. ‘These are unprecedented times. Because of the coronavirus, there were millions of votes cast by mail, so it may take longer than usual to count every vote. The folks in our election offices — your neighbors, family and friends, are working hard ensuring every single vote is counted,’ says Wolf in the ad, according to CNN. ‘So it may take a little longer than we’re used to, even a few days, but that’s okay,’ he reportedly continues, adding: ‘because it’s critical that your vote is counted — and it will be.'”

TX: “All but one drive-through voting site in Harris County closed amid Texas legal battle” [The Hill]. “A Houston-area county clerk announced late Monday that he would close almost all drive-thru voting sites on Election Day, hours after a federal judge ruled against Republican plaintiffs who sought to throw out 127,000 ballots cast by drive-thru voting in the Democratic-leaning county. In a series of tweets announcing the decision, Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins (D) [!!!!] wrote that he ‘cannot in good faith encourage voters to cast their votes in tents if that puts their votes at risk.’ ‘My job is to protect the right to vote for all Harris County voters, and that includes those who are going to vote on Election Day,’ Hollins explained.” • Oh.

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Biden (D)(1): “Scoop: Biden’s plan to assert control” [Axios]. “Look for Biden to send all-business signals: He won’t pack the courts, and is unlikely to push for repeal of the Senate’s filibuster rule and its 60-vote requirement anytime soon. Instead, look for Biden to push to pass as much as possible under the banner of budget reconciliation, which requires just a simple majority.” • So, Obama Restoration, then?

UPDATE (D)(2): Obama already limiting expectations on Biden’s behalf:

Not much hope, very little change….

Biden (D)(3):

Clinton called Trump Putin’s puppet. Mueller shot that down. Four years on, Biden calls Trump Putin’s puppy. So I guess we need to reboot the Mueller Investigation to clear this up. Maybe we can have a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Biden (D)(4): “Joe Biden, Kamala Harris Got a Big Social Media Boost from Indian Troll Farms” [Newsweek]. “oe Biden’s Twitter account got a sizable boost beginning in August from tens of thousands of fake followers purchased on the open market from troll farms in rural India, an investigation has found…. Some of the operators who worked on the campaign spoke at length about how propaganda agencies in New Delhi and Mumbai activated a widely distributed troll network to amplify Biden’s campaign impact on Twitter.” • They actually spoke to some of the operators; some of whom got their start with Modi (and no, it’s not Harris’s Indian ancestry).

Biden (D)(5): Making the case to the Sunshine Movement:

Biden (D)(6): “Hunter Biden’s Story Could Help Hillary Clinton To Become Vice President” [Moon of Alabama]. “Clinton’s recent Foreign Affairs piece, A National Security Reckoning – How Washington Should Think About Power, must be seen as a job application for a high position in a Harris (Biden) administration. Removing Joe Biden soon after he has won may well be in Clinton’s interest. Should the somewhat demented Joe Biden leave ‘for health reasons’ soon after he has been sworn into office Kamala Harris would become President. She then could use the 25th Amendment to select Hillary Clinton as the new Vice President. If, after a Biden win in the election, Hillary Clinton supporters in the liberul media stop censoring the Hunter Biden affair or even start to further expose it we can be sure that such a scheme is on the verge of being implemented.” • The famously empathetic Biden visiting the graveyard where Hunter’s laptop is buried… Seriously, this is an impressive piece of 11-dimensional chess. I’m not sure, however, that Harris would feel the need to do Clinton any favors. Wouldn’t she be more likely to pull the ladder up after her?

Biden (D)(7): “Episode 114: Vote True No Matter Who” (podcast) [TrueAnon]. “In this episode we discuss all relevant election news including: foot jobs, color revolutions, Soviet military technology, Steve Bannon, crack pipes, the lying fake news media, and Brace comes out as a Dengist.” • Oddly, the blurb doesn’t mention the connecting thread of for the entire episode: Hunter Biden’s laptop. I suppose they didn’t want to get censored by Apple’s app….

UPDATE BIden (D)(8): “Exclusive: How The Bidens Made Off With Millions In Chinese Cash” [The American Conservative]. “Draft legal documents and 2017 bank records obtained by The American Conservative show at least $5 million was transferred to Hunter and Jim Biden from companies associated with the Chinese conglomerate CEFC, with millions coming after the company had come under legal scrutiny both in the United States and China. CEFC official Patrick Ho was arrested in November 2017 and charged by the Southern District of New York with corruption, and was convicted last year. In addition, on or about March 1, 2018, CEFC Chairmen Ye Jianming was arrested in China for economic crimes and hasn’t been seen since. CEFC assets in China were seized by Chinese state agencies. In the U.S., major beneficiaries were Hunter and Jim Biden. What the following documents show is that as regulators moved to seize CEFC’s assets, Hunter Biden attempted to take control of the company founded in partnership with it. Instead, after striking a deal with two CEFC employees in the U.S., the funds were disbursed over the next six months to his and his uncle’s companies until it was all gone, in total at least $5 million.” • “Documents….” If only somebody would invent a system where document troves like this could be authenticated, stored centrally, and made searchable and accessible to everyone…

UPDATE Buttigieg (D)(1):

Because looking in the mirror is something liberal Democrats are so, so good at.

Trump (R)(1): “Exclusive: Donald Trump Caravan Parades Through Deep-Blue Heart of Hispanic New Jersey” [Breitbart]. “The caravan attracted 47 cars, organizers Frank Torres and Ramón Morejón told Breitbart News, in an area that Democrat Party candidate Hillary Clinton won by more than 50 percentage points in the last presidential election. Both Torres and Morejón, who are Cuban American, say they have no official positions with the Trump campaign or any reason to believe the campaign knew the event was occurring. Torres is a registered independent voter and Morejón a registered Republican who admitted he voted for Trump reluctantly in 2016 but became an enthusiastic supporter in the past four years. Torres is a retired real estate professional, and Morejón runs a flower shop. Trump did not attract any caravans in Hudson County four years ago nor any major public support.” • I hate to link to Breitbart, but as readers know, I am always interested in creative tactics, and this is the only coverage I have seen.

* * *

“Here’s the final tally of where tech billionaires donated for the 2020 election” [CNBC]. “About 98% of political contributions from internet companies this cycle went to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The CEOs of Asana, Twilio and Netflix were among the biggest contributors, and they all targeted Democratic groups and candidates.” • Well, I guess that explains platform censorship.

“Support for Trump is tearing apart Vietnamese American families” [Vox]. “[O]ut of the six ethnic groups in the 2020 Asian American Voter Survey conducted this summer, Vietnamese Americans were the only enclave to express more support for Trump (48 percent) than Biden (36 percent). They were also more likely to vote Republican for House and Senate candidates, while overall support among Asian Americans trends more Democratic. (The phrase “Asian American” is itself a vague descriptor; it cobbles together a wide variety of ethnic groups who happen to hail from the same region but hold varying economic and political histories.)” • And the same with Hispanics, Blacks… Whites…

UPDATE “US prepares for election turmoil as divisive campaign comes to end” [Financial Times]. “Retailers prepared for possible unrest by boarding up stores ahead of election day.” • Maybe I’m just a sunny optimist, but I don’t see where the rioters come from. Trump supporters driving in from the burbs in their trucks? Black Lives Matter? Pink Pussy Hats? Who? (Again, the worst I can see happening is a Capital occupation by gun humpers, who will already have been infiltrated by the FBI, which means it will fizzle out, just as Malheur did.) More:

UPDATE “Scoop: Generals privately brief news anchors, promise no military role in election” [Axios]. “Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley held an off-the-record video call with top generals and network anchors this weekend to tamp down speculation about potential military involvement in the presidential election, two people familiar with the call tell Axios. The nation’s top military official set up Saturday’s highly unusual call to make clear that the military’s role is apolitical, one of the sources said — and to dispel any notion of a role for the military in adjudicating a disputed election or making any decision around removing a president from the White House… One official told the anchors not to be alarmed if they see images of uniformed National Guard members on Election Day; currently, they are not federalized but serving at the request of governors.”

UPDATE “Mysterious robocalls – but no evidence of US election hacking” [Channel News Asia]. “Speaking alongside Krebs, the acting US Department of Homeland Security secretary, Chad Wolf, said on Tuesday that ‘we have no indications that a foreign actor has succeeded in compromising or manipulating any votes in this election.'” • So the intelligence community has done its internal polling? Ha ha, only serious!

* * *

“The voting technology problems that could trigger panic at the polls” [Politico]. “Newly competitive battleground state Georgia is using controversial touch screen voting machines for the first time in a presidential election. In the critical swing state of Pennsylvania, where new voting machines malfunctioned last year, several counties have now also configured those machines to speed up ballot-counting in a way that doesn’t give voters a chance to hold the ballots in their hands. And voting machines could turn out to be the least of the technological problems. Across the country, the servers that store voter data and post unofficial results are vulnerable to temporary outages — snafus that could worsen long lines on Election Day, block or discourage voters from casting ballots or fuel claims of election fraud.” • I’ve been worried about the legitimacy of our voting system for some time, long before Covid and Vote-By-Mail. See here, here, here, here, and here. This is interesting too–

UPDATE “Forget Hanging Chads. Copyright Laws Could be the Next Electoral Quagmire” [Politico]. “Most voting technology used throughout the U.S. is covered by intellectual property law. That means the touch-screen you might have tapped on to vote could be patented. The software used to process your vote could be copyrighted. Before you even got to the voting booth, your ballot was likely designed on copyrighted software…. “We’re going to wind up with a thousand court cases that cannot just be resolved by just going into the software and checking to see what happened, because it’s proprietary,” said Ben Ptashnik, the co-founder of the National Election Defense Coalition, a bipartisan advocacy group that pushes Congress to reform election security.” • Unsurprisingly, hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public, don’t have this problem.

Horrid UI/UX on a California voting machine:

UPDATE Molly Jong-Fast has a sad:

Meanwhile, hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public, which would solve this enormous self-own, have no traction with liberal Democrats at all. One can only wonder why.

Our Famously Free Press

“Liberal media champing at the bit to publish ‘Trump: you’re fired’ headlines” [Beet Press]. • No doubt!

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “We Can’t Follow Obama Back to Brunch” [David Sirota, The Daily Poster]. • Yes, we can.

“Political sectarianism in America” [Science]. From the abstract: “For decades, scholars have studied polarization as an ideological matter—how strongly Democrats and Republicans diverge vis-à-vis political ideals and policy goals. Such competition among groups in the marketplace of ideas is a hallmark of a healthy democracy. But more recently, researchers have identified a second type of polarization, one focusing less on triumphs of ideas than on dominating the abhorrent supporters of the opposing party (1). This literature has produced a proliferation of insights and constructs but few interdisciplinary efforts to integrate them. We offer such an integration, pinpointing the superordinate construct of political sectarianism and identifying its three core ingredients: othering, aversion, and moralization.” • Sounds familiar. But the full text is paywalled. Can some kind reader send it to me? Address is above the Plant.

“U.S. faces a potential ‘secession crisis’ at home and ‘open conflict’ with China in the coming decade, says author who predicted 2020 unrest” [MarketWatch]. “During the pandemic, young adults have been most​ in favor of a top-down national policy that insists on strict and universal enforcement of mask wearing and testing and tracing. Look around the world, figure out what works, and implement it. This is remarkable, because it is directly contrary to their own self interest: Millennials are the least likely to get sick and die from COVID, and they’re the most likely in a government lockdown to lose their jobs. But remarkably they favor a strict policy a lot more than older people, who despite the greater threat to themselves tend to favor a less authoritarian response. Imagine if we’d had a pandemic back in the 1970s. In that case, it would have been the older G.I. generation insisting on mobilizing national agencies — and it would have been the young boomers raising their fists and saying ‘hell no.’ As for socialism, it’s no longer a ‘Bernie-bro’ fantasy. Government this year has turned both workers and businesses into wards of the state. How are we going to manage that shift? So long as government is restructuring things, we’re going to think strategically — how much savings should America have, what should we do about student debt, infrastructure, urban planning, climate change. It’s now all on the table. Most Americans now favor universal forgiveness of student loans. There’s also a majority consensus that our health-care system needs a total makeover. ‘Don’t be surprised if, like in the 1930s, young people are attracted to undemocratic alternatives.’ What really concerns millennials is whether liberal democracy can actually perform. Around the world today, confidence in democracy is rapidly declining in the generation now coming of age, which is a major reason why it is drawn to populists on both the right and the left. The way millennials see it, democracies are failing to invest in the future. While they brilliantly protect the rights and entitlements of older people, they leave the next generation to fend for itself.” • Hmm. Notice the twist into generational analysis…

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.

There are no official statistics of note today.

* * *

Retail: “After Going All-In on Amazon, a Merchant Says He Lost Everything” [Bloomberg]. “Amazon can suspend sellers at any time for any reason, cutting off their livelihoods and freezing their money for weeks or months. The merchants must navigate a largely automated, guilty-until-proven-innocent process where Amazon serves as judge and jury. Their emails and calls can go unanswered, or Amazon’s replies are incomprehensible, making sellers suspect they’re at the mercy of algorithms with little human oversight. Recourse is limited because when merchants set up shop on Amazon, they waive their right to a day in court by agreeing to binding arbitration to resolve any disputes. Amazon doesn’t negotiate terms with merchants. The boiler plate agreement is take-it-or-leave-it, a telling reminder of who has the upper hand in the relationship. How Amazon treats third-party sellers is at the heart of a recent House Judiciary Committee report concluding that big technology companies often abuse their power over smaller partners.” • Did we get along fine without Amazon? We did. Ditto every other Silicon Valley platform.

Retail: “Luxury brands are circling Amazon’s marketplace with a wary eye. The e-commerce giant is off to a slow start in its latest effort to woo luxury goods onto its platform… with just a handful of big brands signing on since Amazon created a special section for high-end fashions on its mobile app” [Wall Street Journal]. “The hesitation suggests brands remain uncertain about working with the online sales leader after many suppliers accused the company of insufficiently policing unauthorized sellers and counterfeit goods. They also complained that Amazon didn’t give them enough control over what is sold and at what price. It also shows the brands believe that divisions remain between high-end sales and mass-market goods often sold at discounts.” • Why would Chanel or Prada want to enter a marketplace that’s full of fakes? (Their entry might also be a good litmus test for Amazon cleaning up its act.)

The Bezzle: “Score one for humans over robots in supply chains. Walmart is dropping efforts to use roving robots in stores to track its inventory… reversing a push to automate the task with the hulking machines after finding people can get similar results” [Wall Street Journal]. “The retail giant ended its contract with Bossa Nova Robotics five years after signing up to bring in the six-foot-tall machines believing the technology could help reduce labor costs and increase sales by making sure products are kept in stock. But Walmart has had more workers walking aisles to fulfill its surging online orders during the pandemic, and is gleaning data on inventory problems with reasonable efficiency.” • Grifters gotta grift….

Concentration: “Spotify to offer artists and labels the option to promote their music in your recommendations” [Fader]. “While Spotify notes that the feature won’t require any immediate upfront costs, it will only be available in exchange for lowered royalty payments: ‘Labels or rights holders agree to be paid a promotional recording royalty rate for streams in personalized listening sessions where we provided this service.’ Furthermore, the press release adds that accepting these new terms “won’t guarantee placement to labels or artists.'” • Race to the bottom?

Manufacturing: “Airbus to stop burning cash, defends higher output plan” [Reuters]. “Chief Executive Guillaume Faury said Airbus had learned much about how to adapt during the seven-month-old crisis. But he also cautioned that airline traffic was taking longer than expected to recover from the dramatic hit seen at the start of the pandemic when airlines were forced to ground fleets. ‘We believe we will have to live with the circulation of the virus for a long period of time,’ Faury said.” • Oy.

Manufacturing: “Moderna already has $1.1 bn in deposits for Covid-19 vaccine” [Agence France Presse]. “Moderna said Thursday it took in $1.1 billion in deposits in the third quarter for a coronavirus vaccine that it is ‘actively preparing’ to launch. The biotech company, releasing quarterly results, completed its enrollment earlier this month for the phase-3 trial of ‘mRNA-1273,’ a vaccine candidate for Covid-19. ‘We are actively preparing for the launch of mRNA-1273 and we have signed a number of supply agreements with governments around the world,’ said Moderna chief executive Stephane Bancel….. Moderna, among the furthest along in developing a vaccine for Covid-19, has signed supply contracts with the US, Canada, Switzerland, Japan, Israel and Qatar and is in talks with other parties, including the European Union.”

Mr. Market: “World’s Best-Performing Airline Stock Is Bankrupt Indian Carrier” [Bloomberg]. “All airlines are feeling the coronavirus pinch but one that hasn’t flown since April 2019 after collapsing under a pile of debt is the world’s best performing — at least from a share price point of view. Stock in Mumbai-listed Jet Airways India Ltd. has surged almost 150% this year versus a 42% plunge in the 27-member Bloomberg World Airlines Index, which comprises the globe’s biggest carriers…. Retail investors are the last ones to get anything out of a bankruptcy, yet some are buying in the hope Jet Airways will successfully emerge from a restructuring.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 31 Fear (previous close: 25 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 47 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 3 at 11:04am. • Greed and Fear on. NOTE For those who wonder if we should keep running it, readers asked for it back after I took it away. Also, I like having a quick insight, however shallow, into Mr. Market’s psyche.

The Biosphere

“Can lab-grown brains become conscious?” [Nature]. “In August 2019, Muotri’s group published a paper in Cell Stem Cell reporting the creation of human brain organoids that produced coordinated waves of activity, resembling those seen in premature babies1. The waves continued for months before the team shut the experiment down. This type of brain-wide, coordinated electrical activity is one of the properties of a conscious brain. The team’s finding led ethicists and scientists to raise a host of moral and philosophical questions about whether organoids should be allowed to reach this level of advanced development, whether ‘conscious’ organoids might be entitled to special treatment and rights not afforded to other clumps of cells and the possibility that consciousness could be created from scratch.”

“Trump strips protections for Tongass forest, opening it to logging” [The Hill]. “The Trump administration on Wednesday lifted protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, a move that will expand logging in the nation’s largest old-growth forest. A notice posted in the Federal Register exempts the forest from the so-called roadless rule, a Clinton-era prohibition on road construction and timber harvesting on many Forest Service lands. Under the Trump administration’s changes, the nearly 9.4 million acres of inventoried roadless land in the Tongass would once again be considered suitable timberlands.”

Health Care

“COVID-19: US federal accountability for entry, spread, and inequities—lessons for the future” [European Journal of Epidemiology]. “In this article we assess the impact of missteps by the Federal Government in three specific areas: the introduction of the virus to the US and the establishment of community transmission; the lack of national COVID-19 workplace standards and enforcement, and lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for workplaces as represented by complaints to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which we find are correlated with deaths 16 days later (ρ = 0.83); and the total excess deaths in 2020 to date already total more than 230,000, while COVID-19 mortality rates exhibit severe—and rising—inequities in race/ethnicity, including among working age adults.” • Well worth a read; it takes a systemic view.

“COVID-19 Diagnosed on CTA Scan in Stroke Patients” [MedScape]. “A routine scan used to evaluate some acute stroke patients can also detect SARS-CoV-2 infection in the upper lungs, a new study shows. ‘As part of the stroke evaluation work-up process, we were able to diagnose COVID-19 at the same time at no extra cost or additional workload,’ lead author Charles Esenwa, MD, commented to Medscape Medical News. ‘This is an objective way to screen for COVID-19 in the acute stroke setting,’ he added.”

“Test and Trace is struggling because people do not want to pick up their phone to unknown numbers, government adviser says” [Daily Mail]. • How could any government policy maker be so out-of-touch that they’d think anybody sane would pick up an unknown number? Some days I think we’re run by the Harkonnens. Other days I think we’re run by The Stupids:

Our Famously Free Press

“Facebook leak reveals policies on restricting New York Post’s Biden story” [Guardian]. “Facebook moderators had to manually intervene to suppress a controversial New York Post story about Hunter Biden, according to leaked moderation guidelines seen by the Guardian. The document, which lays out in detail Facebook’s policies for dealing with misinformation on Facebook and Instagram, sheds new light on the process that led to the company’s decision to reduce the distribution of the story.” •  Well, well.

Police State Watch

“How Police Unions Bully Politicians” [The New Republic]. “It may be a new extreme to dox a mayor’s daughter for exercising her First Amendment rights, but the act is consistent with an increasingly aggressive strategy undertaken by police associations across the country to secure their political aims. Police unions deploy ominous social media campaigns to vilify and intimidate reform-minded legislators. They exploit racialized law-and-order rhetoric to polarize the public. And they threaten liberal mayors with widespread civic chaos and destruction if their demands aren’t met. The goal is to preserve the privileges—chiefly, job security and scarce oversight—they have won during decades of agitating and political accommodation. The question is whether, amid widespread popular demonstrations against racist policing, the strategy will continue to work.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

The Black Belt, a thread:


Class Warfare

The coming eviction wave:

Yves wrote up the coming eviction crisis here.

News of the Wired

I didn’t know this was Catullus 51 month:

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CR writes: Every fall, the foliage of my perennial Sundrops (Oenothera fruticosa) turns this vibrant red. I’ve never seen reference to this in descriptions of this very common perennial, but it’s actually my favorite feature of the plant!”

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. LaRuse

    I wonder which Southern state stopped reporting its test positivity rate? VA has been creeping upwards but we are still under 6% last I heard (though infection averages are getting close to the mid-Summer highs again). But something made the Southern rate plunge and it is definitely not an actual decrease in positive COVID-19 cases.

    1. nick

      This “drop” might be due to the phase-out from the moving average of a few thousands of cases in Alabama. These had been backlogged and were added in a week or so ago. That would be a direct measure but if they were handling it oddly for the calculation of a rate may also influence that measure.

  2. Louis Fyne

    timestamp this prediction/rant….no one from Brooklyn (or the Acela corridor).should ever touch a Dem. presidential campaign ever again. just saying

    your mileage will vary.

      1. Rock Hard

        This is why we need touch screen voting machines, when your hands have been chewed to nubs you can still poke at the voting machine with your stumps.

          1. Phillip Cross

            When you look around at The American People, they certainly seem to be ignorant and spiteful enough to reelect Trump. I would be pleasantly surprised if they didn’t, but I am not holding my breath.

      2. hoki haya

        where does one watch incoming returns? i’m in Armenia, and though i try to downplay people’s expectations of ‘an outcome of the outcome’ here, i maintain an interest in returns. don’t outlets start reporting even before polls close?

  3. Darthbobber

    MoA is wrong on Clinton (I don’t think b actually has a very good grasp of American domestic politics). The party honchos are done with Mrs. Clinton, except for honorary emeritus stuff, (though not with Clintonites).

    Also overstates the fragility and dementedness of Biden. He always horrible in the word salad department, but seems as on the ball as Reagan did during most of his tenure. And Biden’s circle will be a different group than Harris’s. They will have no interest in shoving Biden out as long as he can manage even figurehead status.

    1. Carolinian

      I think he’s merely saying that it could happen, not that it would. Harris is supposedly a Hillary protege but should Harris be gifted with all the power of prez she’d be nuts to pick Hillary which would be up there with Ford pardoning Nixon–at least in some quarters. Here’s suggesting the Hillary cult is quite small in reality if not in Hill’s mind.

    2. nick

      Yeah that take struck me as odd and not at all convincing. Way too many shady characters around that whole story (and story-of-the–story) already.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Ultimately Reagan and movement conservatism had a few key planks and managed to push them whether you like them or not. Biden’s plank is “decency” and “America being back” because he wants to make it great again. When Biden was the Senator from Delaware, he was fine waiting around to be told what to do, but as President, everyone will wait on him.

      My gut is Biden will largely be rudderless unless he is really under the thrall of anyone as the various voices demanding their own piece of the action all come to him. He may have better instincts on certain issues than Obama, but “better PR” will be the only real practice coming out of the Biden White House. Obama ran and won on something very different from ACA, and it still took him forever to pass it and he still listened to dimwits like Rahm Emmanuel who said mindless things like “don’t do anything or we won’t be able to do anything later.”

      To a large extent, he won’t be dissimilar from Trump. When he does say something, it will get talked about, but Biden has no core values and though he might fill more Federal jobs than Trump it will be with people who think Aaron Sorkin is profound, meaning nothing happens. Biden won’t have the follow through to do anything.

    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      The other thing is Hillary Clinton and her allies didn’t understand delegate allocation in 2008 or the EC in 2016, but now she and they have a firm grasp on presidential succession. I don’t buy it.

  4. John

    I tried the Amazon affiliate link thing for a bit, made lists of all my project materials embedding my affiliate Id in each link and each blog post. Low and behold just before reaching the payout threshold my account was disabled for breaking terms. 5 emails latter I figured out what was wrong…fix it all…just before payout happened again. They don’t work with you just ban you with little to no explanation. The problem…somewhere buried in all my blog post associated materials I had included a price on an item. They care about customers but sellers and affiliates can just die and they pick over your bones for profit. Pretty horrible company and somehow I still use them :(

  5. Louis Fyne

    Korea has the domestic industry to make enough KF94 (a N95 near equivalent) for their entire population….they even gave out KF94s to every Korean in the early days.

    America is still stuck importing near everything, with regular folks settling with cotton masks (which is better than nothing but no where close to KF 94/KN95)

    1. KevinD

      Not needed here! We’ve already “rounded the corner” on the virus “we’re not trying to stop” (sarc).

      American Exceptionalism alleviates the need to learn from successes achieved elsewhere, unfortunately.

      1. RMO

        N95 (or P100) masks are still hard to get in Canada too. I’ve been scraping by with the ones we had before the pandemic – we had a whole box for painting/sanding etc. use). Surgical style mask use has gone back up to near 100% in my Vancouver suburb area since the cases started skyrocketing again but I’m still not personally comfortable going shopping with less than an N95. I can get filters for my 3M half-mask respirator and my Scott full-face “gas mask” but regular N95/P100’s are unobtanium. If it comes to it I’ll wear the respirator with a filter over the exhalation valve I guess.

        I was just thinking of the Ford Willow Run plant recently. The contrast between then and now. Now, the amazing economy can’t make sufficient masks nearly a year in to a pandemic. Back then they took an undeveloped site and not much more than a year later had an immense factory turning out B24 Liberators at a rate of better than one per hour.

    2. Roger Smith

      This is what I don’t understand. 3M was doing 7 day overhaul production back in April that they said was producing something like 1 million masks a week. I have seen zero results from this as a citizen as a country. Last I heard months ago was that distributors were taking higher foreign bids and shipping supplies to other countries. What the hell happened with these masks? Literally no one has brought this up, not my state officials, federal officials, or the presidential candidates.

  6. Otis B Driftwood

    The California data is interesting. 12 million ballots returned as of today. In 2016, the total number of valid votes was just over 14 million.

    The ballot tracker also gives a breakdown by party, age range and race. As expected, while the 18-34 group is largest, it has returned fewer ballots both absolutely and as a percentage of their total number of ballots mailed. And Latinos have also been lagging in returning their ballots.

    In summary, old white people vote in greater numbers.

    Still looks like pretty good overall turnout to my untrained eye.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      People may be shocked by this but I’m ready to make a dramatic prediction, even this early in the game: Biden will carry California

      1. DJW

        A lot if people, both ordinary people and pundit-type people, are fond of noting that HRC won the popular vote by 3 million votes in 2016. These people fail to note that she won the popular vote in California by 4.3 million votes. So, if one would have been able in 2016 to carve California away from the rest of the U.S. and send it floating off toward Tahiti, then the story would have been an overwhelming popular vote victory for Trump as well as an overwhelming electoral college vote victory for him.

    2. ArvidMartensen

      imho, Biden will win with a resounding majority. Seen it all before in a different country.

  7. Greg

    There’s also a majority consensus that our health-care system needs a total makeover. ‘Don’t be surprised if, like in the 1930s, young people are attracted to undemocratic alternatives.’

    Wait – did this dude just claim that public healthcare is undemocratic? That’s some awesome doublespeak!

    1. a different chris

      That whole clip was rather… um amazing. Dunno if I am going to bother to read the rest. Anyway, another mysterious part:

      hat insists on strict and universal enforcement of mask wearing and testing and tracing. …This is remarkable, because it is directly contrary to their own self interest:

      For the healthy-lunged young, wearing a mask is no different than wearing socks. Getting sick with any virus, even if just a passing thing, sucks too so if there is a way to prevent it without getting side-eyes (like you would have if you went in public in the West masked in 2019) then how is that “remarkable” that they said heck yeah?


  8. zagonostra

    >Can lab-grown brains become conscious? [Nature].

    This type of brain-wide, coordinated electrical activity is one of the properties of a conscious brain.

    Yeah, so what, I share certain properties with a tree, but I can’t produce photosynthesis. It’s the same as with the article on birds being self-conscious. It demonstrates that the writer has no idea what consciousness, the “hard problem” in philosophy, is. Without a symbolic language that enables one to see oneself through the eyes of the other, the “I” and the “Me” inter-subjectivity described in George Herbert Mead’s “Mind, Self, and Society,” you will not achieve self-consciousness, at least one that has the attributes of a human mind.

    1. Greg

      The history of experiments with primate cognition is interesting for this kind of argument.
      When you skim the surface of the to and fro, it’s a long series of ratchets upwards of the threshold that needs to be met if we we’re going to stop shooting them out of hand. Every time we find they can do something new that we thought they couldn’t, there is a new definition of what really counts as “alive” or “conscious” or “important” that crops up.

      You could, if you wanted, draw parallels with the definitions of what makes a human “civilised” and thus valuable to certain concepts of human value. I’m by no means a vegan animal rights extremist, but I find the arguments interestingly suspect. We’re, as a species and society, apparently very keen on continuing to believe we’re special.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Frank Herbert wrote a wonderful and truly weird novel called Destination Void. Raj is a chaplain, Pru is a doctor:

      “You self-satisfied medicos give me a pain. You say only humans are conscious. From Raj, that’s sacrilege. From you, Prue, that’s stupidity. You see one corner of the spectrum and immediately say you know what the whole universe of light is like. Never once has either one of you asked: Am I really conscious?

      It’s a good question. There’s rather a lot we don’t know. What consciousness is, how the immune system works….

      1. zagonostra

        Big Frank Herbert fan…next time I’m in used book store I’ll look for it.

        Norman Spinrad, who I think has to be one of the most underrated scifi writers of all times ( I should add in the U.S. He is very well known in France) has a book called “The Void Captain’s Tale” which also looks at consciousness in unorthodox way to say the least.

          1. Zagonostra

            Big big difference between spice and what the necessarily and exclusively female pilot navigator had to do to create the hyperspace jump.

      2. ArvidMartensen

        Going back one layer, in truth, we don’t really know what life is. Anyone can get together a bunch of carbons, oxygens, hydrogens and nitrogens in amino acids in a test tube, but it doesn’t turn into life.
        We start with existing life to create/change life afaik.
        What is the demarcation between life and consciousness? Is there life without consciousness? Can consciousness without life exist? Some say the universe is conscious, but like everything else in this area of questioning, nobody knows.

        1. foghorn longhorn

          Looks like the universe is conscious enough to start wiping out one parasite it can do without.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Are we considering self-awareness and self-conscousness as being two different things or levels? If we are, what makes them different?

      Certain birds have certainly passed self-awareness tests. Is self-awareness not as self-consciousnessful as self-consciousness itself?

  9. Carolinian

    Over the past 20 years, Asia has been hit with several epidemics, such as SARS in 2003 and MERS

    There are some who suggest this may account for Asia’s low incidence rather than special measures. Africa’s incidence is also low and don’t forget the effect of things like obesity (definitely an American problem) on mortality rates. Which is to say there are many variables to account for.

  10. nippersmom

    The new voting machines in Georgia are actually an improvement over the prior model, in that you get a print-out that shows your actual vote for each office so there is a paper trail that could be used for a recount. The previous machines only printed out a code which did not allow the voter to see that the votes recorded were, in fact, the votes they intended to make.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > you get a print-out that shows your actual vote for each office so there is a paper trail that could be used for a recount.

      I hate to disagree, but you don’t. The actual vote, that which is tallied, is a non-human readable QR code. That’s what the scanner records. That would match the human-readable receipt if and only if the ballot marking device’s software has not been hacked. And I shudder to think how such a recount would happen. Are all voters really going to (a) keep their receipts (b) bring them to be recounted and (c) prove their identities and the validity of their receipts, if asked?

      Adding, see NC here, and this diagram:

      Successful marketing (combined with an unwarranted degree of trust in both the vendors and election officials)…

      1. nippersmom

        When we last voted (in the primaries) all we got was the QR code. I actually did not see a QR code on the print-out I got this morning.

        1. rowlf

          We voted by mail in the GA primaries and in person for early voting. The printed ballot created by the Ballot Marking Device had a QR code and a print out of our selections. This was then scanned and kept in a large container the scanner was mounted on.

          So… no way to see if the QR code matched the selections or if the scanner was correct.

          I drove by two local polling locations around 10am while picking a coworker who had dropped off a vehicle for service and neither place looked busy.

      2. Darius

        The Votematic punchcard ballot is what failed (or succeeded, depending on your point of view) so spectacularly in Florida in 2000. It was the notorious butterfly ballot. However, in Montgomery County, Md., where I voted at that time, we used the DataVote punch card system.

        With DataVote, the punch cards had the races and candidate names on the card. You slipped the card into place in the device. You then would click a mechanical lever into place over the candidate you wanted. You then pushed down a lever with the palm of your hand. It took a little force and a satisfying punch indicated your choice was recorded on the card. There was no half-punching the card. You either punched the card or you didn’t.

        Unlike Votematic, there was no stylus, or a confusing design that seemed intended to maximize the chance for errors. Also, unlike Votematic, which produced a data card readable only by the system, the DataVote system gave you a punch card you could check and make sure you voted for the candidates you intended to vote for. The punching lever ensured there were no hanging chads and other ambiguities.

        While the DataVote cards were made to be machine readable, they also enabled hand-counting, if that was preferred. It was an ingenious mechanical system, not an electronic system vulnerable to tampering. Unfortunately, all punch card systems were blamed for the problems of the Votematic system and outlawed. Now, we have intrinsically hackable computer systems. Why, it almost seems like that’s by design.

      3. Darthbobber

        And here’s a hybrid problem: Philly, against several recommendations, including the state’s, went with a device which prints out a “ballot” from your touchscreen input. You confirm accuracy and then reinsert that printout in a different slot.

        So-called the paper won’t be altered by the machine via software, because there’s no machinery down there to do anything to that bit of paper or reroute and substitute it. This, plus a chain of custody for those papers, is touted as an adequate auditing trail.

        BUT the automatic recount if the margin is within a certain range never looks at those papers. It just rechecks the electronic output. The “auditable” paper will only ever be checked if a candidate wins a case in which they have to show cause to challenge the result the software delivers.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          That system could print back for you a xerox-copy of the cast-your-ballot screen you are looking at and make the xerox-copy look exactly like the screen. It could then go on to vote a different choice than the one you poked and that the xerox-copy copied back for you. And how would you ever know that happened?

          Again I begin to think that at least some of the “early voters” did their “early voting” so that they could make their own analog marks on analog ballots with analog ink from analog pens.
          That could be the way the electorate defeats the digifraudulent election machinery. If EVERY voter was an EARLY voter, casting an ANALOG ballot; then the digifraudulent voting machines would gather dust and spiderwebs from universal and total citizen boycott and the current digital approach to stealth sneaky election fraud would be thwarted.

          Boycott Election Day! Vote Early! Vote Analog!

  11. Pat

    One of my respites during the Obama era was the Great British Bake Off. Still watch it, but not as big a fan since it left the BBC. Unfortunately one of the best of the BBC bakers lost his battle with cancer.
    Luis Troyer was the lovely man who built the Poynton Mill for his showstopper in the finale of his season (Nancy Birtwhistle won). RIP Luis.

    I am so ready for 2020 to be over. Sadly I’m not sure 2021 is going to be much better.

  12. Samuel Conner

    > “… hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public, which would solve this enormous self-own, have no traction with liberal Democrats at all. One can only wonder why.”

    I consider understatement to be the finest and classiest form of snark.

    Happy E-day, all.

    1. Jim Hannan

      Mail in ballots are hand-marked paper ballots. They are counted on machines but typically audits are done by hand. Liberal Democrats are just fine with this system as seen in Washington and Oregon. Conservatives are also fine with this as seen in Utah and Arizona. The Vote at Home organization is headed up by Amber McReynolds, former elections director of Denver. https://voteathome.org/

  13. Corbet's Couloir

    A bit of observation from my hometown of Jackson Hole WY.

    County seat of Teton County WY – one of the most liberal blue counties in this country.

    Wife and I did our usual Election Day breakfast – and showed up at the polling station at 645 AM bright and early. Have been doing this for years – and never longer than a 5 minute wait.
    NOT THIS YEAR. The line to get in to the polls in about 25 degrees F was wound up 3 blocks down the sidewalks – the cars were everywhere – it took us 10 minutes to walk to the back of the line.

    I felt perfectly safe in the polling place as far as COVID – they were going way out of their way to make sure all was well.

    Wyoming allows people to register to vote right there at the polling place. The vast majority of people in line were new voters. The line was moving very slowly because of the registration process. And I could tell from their MAGA outfits and the way most of them were talking who they were going to vote for. You must believe me – we have never seen anything like this before here. It is actually breathtaking. The local newspaper reported that our little county has been slammed with ballots in early voting – and the long-time citizens are a bit whomper-jawed. And no, in case you were wondering, these new voters were not all the folks moving here from CA and IL and NY. Nope – they were working class.

    It must also be noted that no matter what happens here in Teton County – Wyoming will be in the Trump corner tonight.

    If this is happening here in this very blue county – and I have seen similar lines for weeks for early voting – what must be going on elsewhere? We may be an outlier – but I kinda doubt it.

    It appears to me that the Trump team has worked hard to get out the vote – and it appears to be working very well – at least here.

    It also appears to me that Biden has run a horrific on the ground campaign.

    In non-propaganda news sources – it appears a similar thing with turnout is happening elsewhere.

    And of course this vote of confidence from the Biden campaign chairperson just now – Jen O’Malley Dillon – “We continue to have multiple pathways to 270 votes – we can win 270 without Florida or Pennsylvania”.

    Hmm – it seems to me that pathway would require a trip through Texas. Somehow – I do not think that very likely. But that is just me.

    If I were the Biden campaign, I would be getting a bit concerned about now.

    To be honest – how I personally voted is between me and God. I feel both candidates are going to take this country on their own special version of a trip to hell. I voted for the person on whose ride to hell I felt my family and I would do the best. I have never felt so despondent as an American.

    Whatever happens – I appreciate all the moderators and the commenters of this blog – we are all going to need each other’s wisdom going forward.

    And a special prayer to everyone in our big cities. I think this week may be a wild ride.

    1. Minalin

      “I feel both candidates are going to take this country on their own special version of a trip to hell.”
      Is that meant figuratively or literally? As a former Director of the Cattleman’s Association (that was what it was called back then) of Wyoming, I think I have a feel for the the place. What I fear is that Wyoming had the second-highest suicide rate in the United States in 2018, 2019 & 2020 waiting. Let me offer this, first for sure fun go and try to find “hell” in Bible. It isn’t there. Second I don’t believe either candidate Is trying to take anyone to hell, requires too much energy. Lastly, Wyoming is the bell-weather state of nothing.

    2. albrt

      I took a bike ride around downtown Phoenix Arizona from about 12:30 to 1:30 today. Went by two mega-consolidated polling locations, established in places where large crowds could be kept spaced out from each other.

      Both were astonishingly empty. The main library had dozens of volunteers, observers, people handing out free lunches, and even a DJ in the parking lot, but I only saw three people go in the building. The fairgrounds also had dozens of volunteers spaced out over the parking lot, apparently in anticipation of handling long lines. No free lunches. I saw two people go in the building.

      1. Rhondda

        It was very quiet at my polling place in KCMO, as well. No cars. No line. More poll workers than voters. It’s usually pretty bustling at all hours, so this was unusual.

    3. a different chris

      It appears to me that the Trump team has worked hard to get out the vote – and it appears to be working very well – at least here.

      It also appears to me that Biden has run a horrific on the ground campaign.

      It’s Wyoming? Why would either campaign even bother? Note the *I* would, as I’m one of those that thinks you need to be there in all 50 states…

    4. ambrit

      We here in one of the many ‘half horse’ towns of Mississippi have observed the largest turnout in living memory. So say the old tymers as well as the “regular” poll watchers we met. The voting precinct of our older inner ring suburb had a ten to twenty person line outside the building continuously for hours. This observation from myself as well as several of the neighbours, we all voting at different times of the day. Now that the working day is ending, I was just told that the line is longer than at any time during the day. When I was there this morning, the crowd waiting was about evenly split between whites and blacks. (We are a 50/50 town.) So, the enthusiasm is widespread.
      s/ I’m glad I installed a mine field in front last Friday to deter the Trick or Treaters. Now it can do double duty as an Election Mob deterrent. /s

  14. jsn

    “UPDATE “Scoop: Generals privately brief news anchors, promise no military role in election””

    I’ve always said that NAFTA was about making the US work as well as Mexico.

    The military, for reasons as mysterious in Mexico they are here is still held in high regard in both countries.

    The Koba link this morning about Mexican secessionist Governors and black market military malfeasance promises a bright tomorrow for the US!

  15. pjay

    Re: “U.S. faces a potential ‘secession crisis’… ” [MarketWatch].

    I know this is probably tangential to the main point of the article, but a statement like this is going to elicit a knee-jerk reaction from me:

    “What really concerns millennials is whether liberal democracy can actually perform. Around the world today, confidence in democracy is rapidly declining in the generation now coming of age, which is a major reason why it is drawn to populists on both the right and the left.”

    Note that “democracy” and “populism” seem to be on opposite sides of Neil Howe’s political spectrum. I wonder (1) how this analyst defines “populism,” and (2) how democratic he thinks our “liberal democracies” have actually been “around the world today.”

  16. Cat Burglar

    Santa Cruz California had a Police Officers’ Association intervention in a city council election a few years back.
    The Assistant Chief announced that one candidate was an anarchist because she had participated in a banner hanging against the WTO in 1999, and the accusation was given wide publicity in local TV news and the local paper. A local business community organization had gotten together with the POA and the Assistant Chief to press the claim during a week when the Chief of Police was on vacation — the Assistant Chief retired soon afterward. The candidate lost the election.

  17. Alex morfesis

    $hillary & co. are probably gunning for vp…but in a Spiro agnew sorta way…pushing Harris out of the way by June with some fumbled item handed to Harris by the prez to take care of and then strategic distribution of questionable activities partaken by Harris prior to her ascendancy… madame hillabillton would never trust Harris to keep her word since Harris has stepped over dozens to get to where she is today…

  18. drumlin woodchuckles

    If people are worried that the phrase ” Hunter Biden’s laptop” would trigger Apple’s censorship app, why don’t people experiment with creative respellings of ” hhunter bbiden’s llaptop”? See if different respellings would gett throo da appp.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Try a Google search “Hunter Biden laptop” and see what you get.

      If you give up The First Amendment then you may as well give up on the other 26 too

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Ahh . . . . but what if people writing stories about Hunter Biden laptop titled them Hhunter Bbiden llaptop? The Google algorithm would not know to censor them till its human resetters reset it to “know”. And till that happened, people could find out about Hunter Biden’s laptop by googling Hhunter Bbiden’s llaptop.

        At some point, millions of people would get the joke by some kind of memetic brain-osmosis. And then the job of censorship by search-term prevention would get much harder.

  19. Arizona Slim

    Slim’s Election Day Report from Tucson:

    This morning, I had to mail a couple of things at the post office. So, I donned my bicycle combat gear, which included a neon safety vest with an “I Voted Early in Pima County” sticker, and off I went.

    I rode past that nearby city park, which includes a recreation center, and whoa, Nellie! That parking lot was full! Things must have be hopping at the polling place. But I didn’t see a line. I heard that there had been one at 6:00 a.m. when this polling place opened.

    A guy who must have just left the polling place spotted me and that early voter sticker, raised his fist, and shouted something friendly. Darn if I could understand what he said. There are times when being hard of hearing is truly annoying.

    On to the post office. Which wasn’t that busy.

    Back on the bike, and, being the curious type that I am, I had to take one more spin around our park. As before, the parking lot was full, and I had to ride in and take a closer look. Still no line outside the polling place, but, hark! There’s live music! How lovely! Could we have this for every election?

    I don’t know how busy this polling place will be later today, but, judging from the amount of cars in the parking lot, I’m sure that the joint will be jumpin’.

  20. petal

    From a district in Lebanon, NH: No line/wait around 3:15p, but one of the election workers said it had been busy all day. And I heard the sticker lady say she had already given out 1000 stickers today. There was a table of 3 or 4 ladies opening the mailed-in ballots. There were a lot of ballots. Each person was given a ball point pen to use and keep. It was all very well set up and thoughtful about protecting people from covid.

    I don’t have an “I Voted” sticker. All my friends are posting pictures of theirs. A very elderly couple exited after me and their daughter asked them where their stickers were. They had forgotten to get them. They both got quite upset and wanted to go back inside to get them but their daughter said you’re not allowed. So, I gave them mine. Then the daughter asked me to take a photo of the 3 of them, the mom and daughter happily pointing at the stickers on their chests. It was cute.

    1. Arizona Slim

      You’re welcome! I think I’ll take my afternoon walk by the aforementioned polling place. Will post my observations.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      Yes he did that in 2016. He is a Mass Republican, which means he has to appeal to enough of the Boston suburbs to keep his job.

  21. Jessica

    Maybe if Marcus Aurelius were president, he would be ready enough for death that he could appoint Hillary his VP, but Kamala will need to be able to fly in planes.

  22. Darius

    The time for using a big budget reconciliation to evade the filibuster and pass as much as possible was in 2009. It’s on-brand for the Democrats to be 12 years behind the curve. Obama could have used an omnibus budget reconciliation to enact a whole Christmas wish list and turn things around. The problem was he didn’t have a Christmas wish list, and he super-fetishized bipartisanship. “If I play submissive, Mitch McConnell will like me.”

    This time, there is too much that can’t get done through budget reconciliation. Like rebalancing the courts, or giving DC and Puerto Rico statehood. For that matter, how about rebalancing the Senate by splitting the big states up into smaller ones?

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Leave it to Dems to try and change the rules when they lose by the rules. Don’t like the results of a presidential election? Call in the CIA. Don’t like the filibuster? Get rid of the filibuster so major legislation can be enacted by a simple majority. Don’t like the composition of the Senate? Change the number of Senators. Don’t like the composition of the Supreme Court? Add more justices.

      Q: Instead why not, I dunno, try to *change* the composition of the Senate by, I dunno, running candidates who, I dunno, offer *policies* that, I dunno, people *support*, and then, I dunno, those Senators can get, you know, *elected*, when people, I dunno, *vote*?

      But it’s Trump who is “a threat to our democracy”, Mm-k

      1. Biph

        Major legislation should be enacted by a simple majority of both houses of congress and a Presidential signature, the filibuster should be done away with and never should have been. DC should have voting representation in both houses of congress, I would prefer DC be given 1 voting senator and one voting representative as that recognizes it’s special status as a federal city while giving the citizens of DC a say in the federal legislature. That said DC Statehood is far preferable to the status quo. If PR wants to be a State it should be a State. Sit on a SC nominee for 9 months because ummm elections then rush a SC nominee through in a month because ummm elections don’t be surprised if that rank hypocrisy causes a reaction.

      2. Lee

        Putting the issue of the monied oligarchy aside for the moment, we are ruled by an electoral minority. It’s baked into the system from its beginnings whereby low population states have equal representation to large population states in the Senate. I’m no fan of Democrats but I am rather partial to majoritarianism even if it does from time to time go astray.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          The foundation of the nation was to balance the passions of the people (Congress) against the rule of a monarchy (Executive) and against the interests of an aristocracy (Senate). It’s the reason we did not just become Brazil, or Argentina. With the Electoral College they tried to avoid overwhelming national rule by a handful of corruptible big cities. Before we change what has made this the most successful nation in the history of the world perhaps the regular route – People-Policy-Vote- should be tried. Democrats could get all 3 branches and rule for a generation if they simply proposed candidates and policies people want. No rule changes necessary.

          1. Darius

            What have we got over Argentina or Brazil?

            It is argued that the electoral college magnified the power of the slave states.

  23. Branden

    I recently moved to Chattanooga, TN. Since 2010 I had voted in a poor rural county, and every election I voted using a computer system that generated a digital ballot and a paper receipt. Only the digital ballot was counted. Now it’s 2020 and, for the first time in my life I voted with a hand-marked paper ballot that was counted right in front of me when I turned it in. So simple, so easy, so secure. This county election commission must count at least 8 times as many ballots as my old county. The line was only 15 minutes long. Hand marked ballots work and can be used even in decent sized districts.

    1. Person

      Wait, it was counted in front of you? Wouldn’t that mean that your vote was no longer secret? Or did they use optical machines?

        1. Person

          Thanks, that makes more sense! As long as chain of custody can be maintained then hand marked ballots that you hand deliver to the bin yourself are obviously the best.

  24. KevinD

    On the Ground Report: Yorkville, Il. ( about an hour west of Chicago)

    Our Polling station is in my neighborhood, about a block from my house. For the last 10-12 days our neighborhood has been overrun with cars parked everywhere from folks voting. The lines have stretched for several blocks.

    Today – nothing but the sound of crickets! at least so far….

  25. Amfortas the hippie

    return from san antone:
    i dreaded taking wife to chemo, today….i really expected High Strangeness and rampant a$$holery.
    but traffic was extraordinarily light, going and coming…and that part of san antone looked like sunday morning.
    small increase in aggressitivity going down…normal on way back, but…again…very light traffic.
    only one trump truck, and that with only a single, rather dinky, flag.

    the most remarkable thing: the thousands of trump signs all along the highway…75 miles down US87, then another 48 into the city….were suddenly 2/3 absent.
    most of the ostentatious displays were simply gone.
    even way out here, the signage was down by at least 1/2.

    either they all decided, coincidentally…like a school of fish….to abandon a losing team….
    or they coordinated this sudden withdrawal so as to confuse and frustrate the angry commie hordes, when trump wins(sic).
    I am far too weary, today…but when the coffee is ready in the morning, i shall sally forth to the faceborg duckblinds and see what them people are talking about.

    stopping at my usual place for a couple of tallboys, the mood among the gaggle out front was almost morose…like after a funeral.

    vibe antennae are frayed….and my midichloridians are tired.
    but something’s up.

    also, cops out on the highways apparently think it’s new years eve.
    they’re all over the place.

    1. notabanker

      I thought it was the commie’s backing Trump? I’m so confused.

      Stacey Abrams from the DNC just gave me a call to let me know this election will decide our future and I better vote since their records show I have not yet. Which kind of elicits the question of how and, why should they, know if I have voted or not? And if they really can determine this, then their records are wrong since I did vote this morning. Or did I?

      I’m so confused.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      As for signs disappearing, one way to collect them was to ask people to bring them in and leave them at the polling place when they voted. This wouldn’t really matter for Trump signs (tell that to President for Life Barron), but smaller campaigns do like to get signs they can reuse back especially if they can reuse them. I would not be shocked if there were email blasts asking the people who took signs from a local office to return them.

      Halloween also happened. I imagine signs were taken down to discourage the idea of Trick or Treating.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        only about 10% of the non-interstate 10 portion of that trip is in an actual “town”.
        the signs and displays i’m talking about are on ranch gates and barbed wire fences, all along the highway.
        specifically trump related signs, banners and flags(maga, trump/pence, etc)
        it would take effort uncharacteristic among democrats in this part of the world to surreptitiously remove these particular signs.
        too, from fredericksburg, north to here, we know who belongs to perhaps 85% of those gates and fences.
        this latter…known….portion of my otherwise unknown cohort are unlikely to be in some legion hall, plotting either a revanchist uprising, or a celebratory purge.

  26. edmondo


    We all know blood-sucking, soul-less vampires can’t see their reflection in a mirror. Nice try anyway, Mayo Pete.

  27. skk

    A long ago job required my phone # to be on the county emergency alerts contacts list. I’ve had over 7 alerts, all just tests of the system, over the last day and a half.

  28. jr

    Yeah, the author dropped “creating consciousness” with near onanistic frequency but this assumes it can be created. There is another school of thought on this, that consciousness is the fundamental stuff of nature and that matter is the representation of this consciousness. Monistic Idealism.

    In one sense, growing mini-brains from stem cells is identical to a fetus developing in that they (if the mini-brains actually are conscious) are disassociated “alters” of a single unitary meta-consciousness, “tendrils” extruding from the “body” of that “stuff” that present themselves as living organisms. This is similar to the multiple personality disorder in humans where the individual’s personality is fractured in alters of itself. In fact, the alters are aware of one another’s existence, one patient in a book I read spoke of seeing the other alters in her dreams much as we perceive one another in the world. Each individual inhabits their own personal world in the sense that they cannot directly see what others are experiencing but all experiences take place within the same framework of meta-consciousness.

    Now, the exact process by which consciousness becomes represented as matter is not known, to be sure. But then, neither is it known from the materialist point of view. No one can tell you how and molecules combine to make you wish you had decided to pursue that degree in medicine instead of the fine arts. No one can tell you where it comes from, only that it and matter exist.

    1. Lee

      The brain itself does not feel pain [or anything else one would assume] because there are no nociceptors located in brain tissue itself. This feature explains why neurosurgeons can operate on brain tissue without causing a patient discomfort, and, in some cases, can even perform surgery while the patient is awake

      Absent input from the senses or at least the recollection of same, of what would consciousness consist? I’ll take a toke of backyard Blue Dream and think about it.

      1. jr

        Consciousness! Meta-conscious to be exact. To ask what consciousness consists of is to conflate it with matter. Consciousness is, everything else consists of it. Feelings, experiences, volitions. The “light” behind your eyes. Your mind is an extension of the meta-consciousness into the framework of space-time. The external world is how small c consciousness experience, perhaps interpret, the superpositional state. Schopenhauer argued things like chairs and stars and water don’t even have individual extensions into space-time, they simply represent an ever changing experiential backdrop, for example coalescing into a rock over millions of years then breaking down over millions of years. Why can we experience while rocks cannot? Good question!

        Schopenhauer believed that the universe consists of “volitional states”, literally states of Will. Those states collapse into our personal perspective when we, as alters or fragments or the meta-consciousness, experience it. In one sense, we create the world we see, Kastrup argues that our senses collapse this Will, this superpositional state, this pure potentiality, into the world we sense. Locking it into a particular substance we call matter. Thats why some idealists call physics the “laws of observation”, our particular configuration of extension just sees things this way* Additionally, Idealism avoids solipsism because all of our individual minds ultimately can be traced back to the meta. Every living thing is an “eye of God” if you will, collapsing potential states into concrete states.

        Another angle: what happens when you die? Materialism says the brain clicks off like a computer thats lost power and the “display” vanishes. Idealism says matter sloughs off the locus of consciousness and it “snaps back” into the meta consciousness.

        Why do I find this compelling? Kastrup:

        1. It solves the mind body problem. The body doesn’t mysteriously give rise to mind. Rather, meta-mind extends to mind which observes, collapses from potentiality to actuality, the physical body.

        2. It proposes that Will is the substrate within experiences occur, it is the quantum foam , the wave function that collapses into a definite state when observed. This is a crucial claim for relational quantum mechanics. (Which I don’t pretend to understand.) I do understand though that a substrate is needed.

        3. It jives with our experiences as individual experiencers but avoids the trap of solipsism because ultimately those individual experiential consciousness merge, albeit behind the veil of the extension of space-time from the timelessness of the Will.

        I strongly recommend everyone read “Why Materialism is Baloney” or watch a video on youbloob. Even if you disagree, it’s a great intellectual adventure.

        Phew. Is that thingy over yet?

        *Could there be other configurations of space-time extension with different onservational rules, different ways of “locking in”? Essentially aliens from another dimension? Now, think of that and hit that pipe! ;)

      1. noonespecial

        Echoing Redford’s dialogue toward the end of the clip, we could go literary, from Sinclair Lewis’ “It Can’t Happen Here”. From the first page of Chapter 9:

        Zero Hour, Berzelius Windrip:
        My one ambition is to get all Americans to realize that they are, and must continue to be, the greatest Race on the face of this old Earth, and second, to realize that whatever apparent Differences there may be among us, in wealth, knowledge, skill, ancestry or strength—though, of course, all this does not apply to people who are racially different from us—we are all brothers, bound together in the great and wonderful bond of National Unity, for which we should all be very glad. And I think we ought to for this be willing to sacrifice any individual gains at all.

  29. The Rev Kev

    “Obama’s closing message on Biden’s behalf — in FLINT, MICHIGAN!”

    After that stunt that he pulled twice in Flint with a glass of water, I concluded that he was either a sociopath or psychopath. But going back asking for votes from all those sick, poisoned people that he threw under a bus? I think now that he is just plain evil.

    On the good news front, there is a link in Water Cooler saying Joe Biden makes final speech before #ElectionDay: “Let me be clear — I will not ban fracking in Pennsylvania.”
    Why is that good news? Because it shows that Biden is being finally, finally influenced by Bernie. “Let me be clear” is a Bernie speech stock phrase.

    1. flora

      ‘ “Let me be clear” is a Bernie speech stock phrase.’

      I say this in some admiration of the skill, not rancor: Biden is a very, very good mimic. If you listen closely you can sometimes hear him mimic his opponents phrases that have emotional appeal in one-on-one debates, lifting the opponent’s phrasing to suit his purpose. Maybe that’s Biden’s real talent. /not a snark

      1. flora

        adding: it also echos Nixon’s “let me be perfectly clear” and “let me make this perfectly clear.” /heh

  30. Arizona Slim

    Me again. Just took a walk around my Tucson neighborhood, and here’s what I saw:

    Business, if you want to call it that, was pretty brisk at the polling place in the rec center. Parking lot was nearly full. With less than two hours until the polls close, I’m guessing that the joint is really jumpin’ now.

    Spoke with a neighbor who’s running for a spot on the Tucson Unified School District. A few weeks ago, I read her platform, which was on a very well designed flyer. I agreed with it, so I voted for her via early ballot. She was very happy to hear that.

    About the musician I mentioned before, he was still there. He told me he had been at this polling place since 8:30 a.m. He’s part of a nationwide music-at-the-polls effort that’s being coordinated by an outfit called Buskabond.

    On to the major arterial that’s just a few steps away from the polling place. I saw a small contingent of Trump horn honkers and banner flyers, but that was the most overtly political thing I witnessed.

    And that’s the Arizona Slim Election Day Report from Tucson.

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