2:00PM Water Cooler 12/2/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day


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:

Thanksgiving data. This the only series not to return to the upward trend, which I assume is a reporting issue.

The Midwest in detail (with New York, California, and Texas for comparison):

Note that the fall in the Midwest began around 11 days ago. That’s a little early for Thanksgiving travel. So, some of the drop is real. But Thanksgiving data is an issue, too.

Test positivity by region:

The data has now resumed its upward trend at the same slope as before.

Nowhere near 3%, though.

Hospitalization by region:

The data has now resumed its upward trend at the same slope as before. (We should also take into account that hospitalization is also discretionary; they may also be reducing their admissions rate — relative to cases we cannot see in this data! — to preserve future capacity.)

Case fatality rate by region:

The data has now resumed its upward trend at the same slope as before. Deaths (purple line) dropping starting on Thanksgiving Day sure looks like a reporting issue to me. And the consistent behavior of all the series but cases give some confidence that our data collection is reasonably responsive and reliable; if wrong, at least not randomly wrong….


“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

UPDATE “U.S. Supreme Court asked to block Biden win in Pennsylvania” [PennLive]. “In the request to the U.S. Supreme Court, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court on Saturday night threw out the lawsuit, including an order by a lower court judge blocking the certification of any uncertified races. Justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively.” • I read the original brief, and I didn’t find the original argument from Pennsylvania’s Constitution cray cray (and certainly not cray cray by Giuliani standards). The 180-day time limit argument turns on a doctrine called laches, that if you don’t assert your rights in a timely manner, your claim can be barred. So why didn’t Republicans challenge the law in the primaries? I don’t know if a serious Constitutional issue should not be heard because of an effective gotcha, however. On the one hand, if Roberts et al. want to “heal the nation” by throwing the Trump voters a bone, they could, because handing all of Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes to Trump would still leave Biden the winner. On the other hand, I can’t see Roberts et al. wanting to redo an entire election. Come on, man.

2020 Democrats in Disarray

“Ocasio-Cortez hits back after Manchin criticism” [The Hill]. “The feud between Ocasio-Cortez and Manchin goes back nearly a month to when the senator rebuked calls to defund the police by declaring, ‘Defund, my butt.’ Ocasio-Cortez responded with a tweet showing her glaring at the senator when he applauded during President Trump’s second State of the Union address. The back-and-forth is a microcosm of the ongoing battles between moderates and progressives within the Democratic Party in the aftermath of a disappointing congressional election cycle.

UPDATE “The Left’s Stupid Second-Guessing Of Biden” [John Harris, Politico]. “The alternative to stupid second-guessing isn’t simply to shut up. It is smart second-guessing. AOC and others on the left are surely right that an administration headed by a president who came to Washington in the 1970s, and who is surrounded by advisers who began their government service in the 1980s and 1990s, isn’t necessarily going to be fully attuned to the challenges of the 2020s. They will benefit from being pushed. But the left should push Biden on policy ideas—and help give him the broad political support needed to implement those polices. There is little benefit to trying to exert influence with likely unsuccessful bids to pick off potential appointees on the basis of spurious ideological arguments about who really counts as a progressive.”

Transition to Biden

“Hedge funds and Wall Street bet big on Biden. Will he deliver?” [Washington Examiner]. “Biden raked in a record $74.4 million from Wall Street (the “Securities/Investment” industry as counted by the Center for Responsive Politics), more than four times Trump’s $18.1 million. Likewise, Biden raised $42.6 million from hedge fund partners, executives, and employees in 2020, more than four times Trump’s haul of $9.4 million. Commercial banks supported Biden by more than 2 to 1, $5.1 million to $2.1 million. Overall, the financial sector, which includes the above industries, favored Biden $201.7 million to $84.1 million…. The Left arguably has more clout today than it did under Obama, but I expect the next four years will be a reprise of Obamanomics, which is good for the financial sector’s incumbents.”

UPDATE He’s got a point:

UPDATE Janet Yellen:

This seems a propos, since Yellen is, after all, our agent:

UPDATE We haven’t heard much about Neera Tanden today:


“There’s No Such Thing as ‘the Latino Vote'” (interview) [Geraldo Cadava, Jacobin]. Cadava: “One thing that’s amazing to me is how the anti-communist message gets passed along from one group to another. In the 1980s, when the Sandinistas and Contras are fighting in Nicaragua, veterans of the Bay of Pigs are training Contras in Miami. Part of the reason Cuban-American politicians like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen become the champions of Nicaraguan refugees is because of the Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs trying to oust Castro. Cuban Americans said they fully understand the plight of Nicaraguan refugees because they experienced the same things two decades earlier. I think that idea gets passed down from one group to another across time. You’re seeing it play out now with how Hispanic Republicans think about the Democratic Socialists of America and people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I listened to Ted Cruz give a speech in 2018 at a gathering in DC of the Latino Coalition, an advocacy group for small business owners looking to grow their businesses and secure government or private loans. Cruz, in a single breath, mentioned Fidel Castro, Nicolas Maduro, and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. It’s a flat narrative about socialism that has managed to resonate for the last seventy years.”

Obama Legacy

“”Do You Want to Actually Get Something Done, or Do You Want To Feel Good?”: Obama Urges Activists oo Talk Reforming, not Defunding, the Police” [Vanity Fair]. • Or — hear me out — do you want to feel good and not get anything done? Comment:

UPDATE “The Obamas Are Producing A Comedy Series About Trump Being A Giant F–Kup” [Vanity Fair]. “Yes, in news that will assuredly send Trump into an unhinged tailspin once he notices it, Barack and Michelle are reportedly producing a comedy series for Netflix ‘based on the chaotic transition of power when Donald Trump became president in 2016.’ The show, titled The G Word With Adam Conover, is a collaboration between the comedian and the former first couple’s Higher Ground Productions, based on Michael Lewis’s book The Fifth Risk, which was born out of a September 2017 Vanity Fair article. The book covers the historic chaos and mismanagement that occurred in the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Energy during the handoff between the administrations. While Obama team members had prepared briefing books for their successors, among the Trump people who showed up to fill the posts, of which there were very few, basically no one was qualified. • Ya know, it’s almost as if there’s something about the 2016 transition that Obama’s very concerned to erase. Eh? That said, it’s good to see the Obamas doing their little bit to heal the nation’s divides.

Our Famously Free Press

Have the publishers panicked yet:

A war would help, of course.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Democrats Have a Messaging Problem. Will They Do the Work to Fix It?” [The Root]. “Another issue is that national Democrats tend to run away from activist-minded candidates instead of embracing them. Then-state Senator Charles Booker, who ran against well-funded Amy McGrath in the Democratic primary on defunding the police and showed up at BLM marches while she was absent, barely lost to her after his campaign got national attention just weeks before the primary. McGrath, who every mainstream Democrat-backed, lost by a landslide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in one of the most expensive ass-kickings this election cycle. Booker lost, but what he proved was that a Black man in a white-ass state running on a Black-ass message could attract white voters. Booker told me earlier this year that he campaigned on ‘defund the police’ in the whitest parts of Kentucky, where people ‘put their fists in the air saying ‘no lives matter until Black Lives Matter.” ‘They were marching in the streets with white supremacists watching. They ain’t care. I think we’re at a point where we can build new coalitions that speak to structural issues that hurt everybody.’ Again, he lost. But what closed the gap between him and McGrath was that he took bold positions that were well-articulated and easy to distinguish. No one knows what would have happened had national Democrats coalesced around Booker sooner, but what we do know for sure is that Black progressives who incorporate BLM language into their campaign can be competitive. Anywhere.” • Still, you can’t call for cultural competence and have a Stylebook that permits “Latinx.” You just can’t.

“Professional Democrats (Still) Need to Learn How to Make Alternative Narratives” [Mike the Mad Biologist]. “The Republican message couldn’t have been clearer: Workers should be able to show up, clock in, earn a normal paycheck, pay the rent and feed their kids. Democrats were telling the same workers that we need to listen to science, reopening is premature, and the economy can’t be fully restored until we beat the virus. Correct! But how does that help when rent was due last week?” • As I said from the beginning.

“Prosecuting Trump Is the Only Way to Heal the Nation” [The American Prospect]. “Accountability is not a legislative act, nor is it a political one, and it remains one of the few places where Biden can accomplish something that is good for the long-term health both of the country and of the party. If he wants to heal the nation—he’s repeatedly sold himself as a the protector of America’s soul—prosecuting Trump and affirming the rule of law is the best way to do it. Trump’s supporters will cry foul and lash out in extreme fashion. But they’re likely to do that in response to anything Biden does—even something as apolitical as counting votes has merited an armed response from Trump’s most militant. If Biden’s only lasting legacy is to have brought about the end of the era of elite impunity, his presidency will have been well worth it.” • At least the headline reads “the Nation” instead of “Our Democracy.” I understand the argument — although I don’t think nations “heal,” any more than markets do — but the idea that liberal Democrats represent or speak for “the Nation” really sticks in my craw. They don’t, even based on a simple vote count.\

“Explaining Our Morbid Political Symptoms” (interview) [Wendy Brown, Jacobin]. Brown: “The entrepreneurialization is an earlier phase; then we get the financialization of the self, where instead of just entrepreneurializing your assets, you then start to get the move to present and brand yourself such that you attract investors in that self and calculate your own self-investments. It’s an interesting shift. This is where I’d have to leave Michel Foucault behind, but keep the framework that he offers, where we’re thinking about the relations of power through which the self or the subject is being made. He teaches us that neoliberalism gives us an order in which we’re entrepreneurialized — that was the Thatcher/Reagan idea. But now we’re in a financialized model, in which it’s not about literally having a financial portfolio, it’s about treating yourself as if you were one.” • “Influencers,” for example.

Stats Watch

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

Employment Situation: “November 2020 ADP Employment Gains 307,000” [Econintersect]. “ADP reported non-farm private jobs growth at 307,000 which was well below expectations. A quote from the ADP authors: ‘While November saw employment gains, the pace continues to slow.’… Last month’s employment gain was revised upward. It will be interesting to see what the BLS says is jobs growth.”

* * *

Commodities: “U.S. Chemical Companies Face Few Legal Risks, and the Cartels Bank On It” [Bloomberg]. “[N]arco have easily tapped the operations of American chemical companies to keep the cartels’ heroin, meth, and cocaine labs humming, despite a 30-year-old system of international drug laws designed to prevent the diversion of the chemicals. The price has been steep for Americans. For U.S. chemical companies, it’s been nominal. The prosecution of Taminco is likely the only one of its kind in the past decade. For those 22,000 gallons of MMA—enough to make about $3.2 billion worth of methamphetamine—Eastman paid a total of $1.3 million, which represents roughly an hour and 13 minutes’ worth of sales that year. Here’s another perspective: Aiding and abetting the distribution of just 50 grams of meth brings a mandatory federal sentence of at least 10 years in prison. More than two million times the 50-gram threshold could be made with the MMA sales covered by Taminco’s sentencing agreement. No one connected to the case would spend a day behind bars.”

Shipping: “Dry Ice Rules for Massive Covid-19 Vaccine Airlift Approved” [Bloomberg]. “The Transportation Department established safety requirements for carrying the potentially dangerous dry ice needed to keep some vaccines stable, the agency said in a press release Tuesday. It also set standards for carrying flammable batteries needed in the airlift and eased restrictions on how long flight crews involved in the effort can work. ‘The department has laid the groundwork for the safe transportation of the Covid-19 vaccine and is proud to support this historic endeavor,’ Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in the release. The government’s ‘Operation Warp Speed’ program has been seeding pharmaceutical companies to develop vaccines and creating an infrastructure for delivering them across the country.”

Tech: “An iOS zero-click radio proximity exploit odyssey” [Project Zero]. ” [I]t’s the same old story. A fairly trivial buffer overflow programming error in C++ code in the kernel parsing untrusted data, exposed to remote attackers. In fact, this entire exploit uses just a single memory corruption vulnerability to compromise the flagship iPhone 11 Pro device. With just this one issue I was able to defeat all the mitigations in order to remotely gain native code execution and kernel memory read and write.”

The Bezzle: “Airbnb asked Canada for a bailout. Canada slapped Airbnb with a tax” [Thinkpol]. “One reason that short-term rentals have been cheaper than hotels is because hotels had to collect and pay sales tax while Airbnb didn’t.” • The same arbitrage scam Amazon ran to bootstrap itself.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 86 Extreme Greed (previous close: 85 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 91 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 2 at 12:19pm.

Health Care

A response to the CDC study published two days ago (Wall Street Journal; I used NPR) that urges Covid was circulating in the US earlier than thought, in mid-December 2019. Thread:

A good discussion of the droplet (ballistic) to aerosol (floating) continuum:

“HIV in the USA: priorities for the new administration” [The Lancet]. “The outgoing US administration initiated a national mobilisation, Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE), in 2019, an ambitious plan which aims to reduce new HIV infections in the USA by 75% in 5 years, and by 90% in 10 years.5 COVID-19 hit the country in the second year of the EHE initiative. But EHE can and should continue in the new administration.” • (!!)

The Biosphere

“The economic costs of planting, preserving, and managing the world’s forests to mitigate climate change” [Nature]. “Higher [carbon] prices incentivize larger mitigation proportions via rotation and forest management activities in temperate and boreal biomes…. Mitigation costs borne by private land managers comprise less than one-quarter of total costs. For forests to contribute ~10% of mitigation needed to limit global warming to 1.5 °C, carbon prices will need to reach $281/tCO2 in 2055.”

“Majestic Trees Are Being Clear-Cut in American Suburbs” [Bloomberg]. “So why the clear-cutting? Money, of course. For homebuilders, trees are a nuisance. To keep a tree alive while building on a lot, they have to keep heavy equipment far away so they don’t compact the soil above its roots. They also can’t push soil up around the trunk. Preserving trees means keeping the topography of the lot unchanged, which often doesn’t fit their plans. And even though trees can add to a home’s value, plenty of homebuyers like the clean look of a wide-open lawn, perhaps with a few freshly planted ornamental trees for decoration.” • “The clean look”….

“Gasoline Car Bans Show Why Market Forces Aren’t Always Enough” [Bloomberg]. “[T]he U.K. has left incentivizing clean transport so late that only a ban on new ICE car sales may now provide the push needed. Johnson’s move is certainly a heavy-handed intervention, but at least it’s not going against the tide of technology and economics. It’s pushing the transition to go faster in the direction that market forces were already heading.”

Class Warfare

“‘Work-From-Home’ Professionals Watch Two Hours More Daytime TV” [Bloomberg]. “Overall, workers are watching 21% more TV on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., or about 26 minutes more per day, according to data from an October survey released Tuesday by Nielsen, the research firm. About 65% of consumers surveyed back in August said they were watching videos during breaks, but more than half also said they tune in while working, often with the sound on.”

“Sex Work in the Age of COVID-19” [Midwest Socialist]. “In 2020, during the height of COVID lockdowns and layoffs, online sex work started to boom, with OnlyFans being the most prominent example. But as many would come to find out, online sex work has its own difficulties. … Online sex work, though, from cam modeling to Skype sex, is the new sex work. OnlyFans has had a dramatic influx of models during COVID. This social media platform allows NSFW material, meaning nude models and dominatrix of all kinds sign up and utilize it. There’s this joke around the world that if the economy gets hard, you can always sell feet pics. This isn’t wrong–you can. But it isn’t an easy gig. ‘If you’re good at what you do, and especially if no one else does what you do, you’ll make money. But if you’re like everyone else popping up and trying to make some extra cash, you’re not going to have an easy time,’ one sex worker explained.”

“Metro Proposes Cutting Weekend Trains, Closing 19 Stations And Slashing Bus Service: [DCist]. “Facing the grimmest budget projections in its 50-year history, Metro is proposing the complete elimination of weekend service. It is one of a series of staggering cuts the transit agency may need to make in the next fiscal year, which begins in July 2021, to close a nearly $500 million deficit. What remains would be a “bare-bones service network to sustain essential travel,” according to a presentation that WMATA’s board will hear Friday. The plan also calls for trains to run every 30 minutes, shuttering 19 stations, further slashing bus service to a fraction of pre-pandemic levels and closing the system at 9 p.m… It would also make life exceedingly difficult for already-strained essential and off-hour workers. Many say the changes would make the system near unusable and have a devastating ripple effect on business, nightlife, sports and tourism industries that hope to make some recovery in 2021.” • $500 million is a fleabite in the Beltway. Why doesn’t Congress just write a check?

News of the Wired

“Cobblestone Conservative” [The American Conservative]. ‘”In her 1961 classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, [Jane] Jacobs assaulted a century’s worth of received wisdom in urban planning. Jacobs read voraciously; she would test her ideas by imagining dialogues between herself and thinkers from Plato to Thomas Jefferson. But she was no academic. In Death and Life, she cited not one paper nor analyzed one set of data. What she did do was observe. Jacobs had a knack for spotting patterns in commonplace things. Social scientists sometimes call it “field study.” When it works, field study makes what once went unnoticed seem obvious…. Death and Life’s popularity is still growing in part because so much of what Jacobs wrote is confirmed in daily life. For example, she famously argued, the safety of a city street depends on the number of eyes watching it. The more pedestrians and storefronts a city street has, the more inviting it is to other pedestrians. Casual passers-by contribute more sets of eyes, making the street even safer, and so on in a virtuous cycle. Death and Life develops this simple idea in rich detail…. The architects of urban renewal saw none of this. Instead of preserving short, narrow streets, they were combining blocks into “superblocks” with parks and “promenades.” Instead of permitting shops and stores, they were segregating residents in towers and forbidding “incompatible” commercial uses. Instead of expanding sidewalks, they were adding playgrounds and planting grass. Instead of nurturing small-scale street life, they were erecting freeways and public centers. Jacobs called their practices “bloodletting,” after the discredited notion of treating disease by draining the patient’s blood.” • We could use a lot more “field study” as opposed to, say, polling.

“Attention K-Mart Shoppers” [Mark Davis, Internet Archive], “OK, I have to admit this this is a strange collection. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, I worked for Kmart behind the service desk and the store played specific pre-recorded cassettes issued by corporate. This was background music, or perhaps you could call it elevator music. Anyways, I saved these tapes from the trash during this period and this video shows you my extensive, odd collection.”

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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 (ChetG):

ChetG writes: “I believe the yellow leaves are from a poplar, one of the glories of autumn.”

* * *

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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. jo6pac

      I’m not getting all the pictures to load at this time but I’m sure the site will heal itself soon;-)

    2. ambrit

      It’s alright. Many of us here are “doing the time warp,” but at a far shorter time scale than the “sweet transvestite.”

  1. km

    What the familyblog does “heal the nation” actually mean?

    Regardless, the only message that an (obviously politically motivated) prosecution of Trump sends is “Don’t you dare step out of line, lest the vengeance of the Washington Consensus fall upon you, too!”

    1. tegnost

      I see and hear a lot of prosecute trump, but I don’t see much about what crime he committed and what the likelihood of him being convicted is? It really does seem like more of the same guilty until proven innocent that has been the hallmark of all oranges are bad.


      Here’s an article from over a year ago contending that impeaching trump was the way to go, but he (oh, the irony…) faced some counts for obstructing the russia interference investigation that could be prosecuted post presidency. This could be associated with durham being named special prosecutor as sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. At any rate, perhaps one of the readers who finds trump both reprehensible and complicit as opposed to my own view that he is karmic retribution for a hopelessly screwed nation can detail what this prosecution will look like in real life?

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        Every time I hear “they should prosecute Trump!” I respond with “for what exactly?” Once we get past all the things other Presidents have also done which either aren’t illegal or won’t be prosecuted, the only answer I ever get is for violating the emoluments clause. When I push on that it becomes obvious the speaker is just parroting something they heard.
        Now, if we wanted to talk about all the stuff that people in power should be taken to task over, count me in. But when we were told we had to look forward and keep the powder dry after W Bush, I knew I didn’t have to entertain the thought of a a President being prosecuted for anything in my lifetime, no matter how bad the crime.

        1. edmondo

          Prosecuting Trump is about the only way to guarantee Trump wins in 2024. Of course the Dems came up with it.

        2. The Rev Kev

          They should prosecute Trump. For things like not starting a new war as President, for deporting less immigrants than the previous President, for not going after as many whistle-blowers as the previous President. Shall I go on?

          1. anon in so cal


            Trump = no new wars

            Obama / Biden = 5 new wars, escalated 2 others

            Starting no new wars is criminal. Campaigning on ending Syria regime change and ending Timber Sycamore = capital offenses. Was it right around this time that the “fascist” epithet got started? (regime change tactic applied domestically?)

        3. Aumua

          If it were up to me I would prosecute him for things like kneecapping the EPA and also attempting to kneecap the post office, anti-science rhetoric and sending dangerous mixed messages about COVID, and legitimizing groups like Proud Boys and generally making far-right groups feel empowered. Maybe these aren’t really prosecutable crimes but are just reasons I think he is a bad president and would never vote for him.

          I also don’t buy that he is any kind of peacenik. I mean to his credit (but also in the service of a nationalistic fervor) he has not embroiled the U.S. in additional wars and regime change operations. I give him credit for that but I also don’t think he wouldn’t if the circumstances were right. I notice that the Pentagon’s budget has certainly not gone down one dollar under his administration. All those toys are going to have get some use at some point.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > If it were up to me I would prosecute him for things like kneecapping the EPA and also attempting to kneecap the post office, anti-science rhetoric and sending dangerous mixed messages about COVID, and legitimizing groups like Proud Boys and generally making far-right groups feel empowered. Maybe these aren’t really prosecutable crimes but are just reasons I think he is a bad president and would never vote for him.

            I don’t think they’re prosecutable even if they are bad. The issue is not whether Trump is bad and Biden is better. The issue is whether Biden is good enough. I have my doubts. (Good enough for what, you ask? The answer may differ in the 1%, the 99%, the 10%….)

            1. Aumua

              Oh I think Biden is just as bad in different ways and I would never vote for him either. Just to be clear.

    2. pjay

      The message this article sent to me was: “yes, liberal pundits really are oblivious idiots.”

      But then I’ve been receiving that message a lot lately. It’s getting old.

    3. hamstak

      Borrowing from Lambert, “healing the nation” might equate to “getting back to routine, comfortable brunch”.

    4. Katniss Everdeen

      Certainly a strange definition of “healing.”

      And apparently it’s not just Trump and his family whose persecution will bring about the much needed “healing.” His supporters are in the crosshairs as well. From rick wilson, Daily Beast editor-at-large:

      “Remember, the Trump GOP is shorn of all ideological and philosophical pretense, and even when Trump leaves office, it’s not over. ‘His cultists’ reign of terror will shape elected GOP members as long as he and his foul spawn walk the earth unpunished. Only exposure, pain, humiliation, and (inshallah) incarceration will lead to a moment of reckoning for the GOP. It should start at the top and work down from there.”

      Wilson notes that he is not interested in the “reconciliation” part of “truth and reconciliation,” declaring a “hearty f— no” to people calling for reconciliation. Inside he called for the “motherf—ers” to consider “seppuku.”


      These “off with their heads” media pimps would do well to remember that one aspect of biden’s miraculous “win” was taking a record low 17% of the nation’s counties. There was no “blue wave.” In fact, “Republicans picked up a sizable number of seats in the House where Democrats have been reduced to the thinnest margin since World War II.” Republicans won many state races across the country.

      While four years of deranged histrionics suggests that none of these people would be interested in considering it, shutting up and walking away may just be the best way to “heal the nation,” whatever they may think that means.


      And courtesy of zagonostra in this morning’s links: https://www.battleswarmblog.com/?p=46516

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Wilson notes that he is not interested in the “reconciliation” part of “truth and reconciliation,” declaring a “hearty f— no” to people calling for reconciliation. Inside he called for the “motherf—ers” to consider “seppuku.”

        Wanking Posturing. Wilson’s talking about a minimum of 40% of the country (in an election decided on a razor’s edge slightly less blunt than 2016’s). He doesn’t have the power to do this (and more than Trump has the power to be a Hitler).

        Wilson needs to get out more.

        1. ambrit

          He is listed as an “advisor” to the execrable ‘Lincoln Project,’ so, he probably considers a ‘trip’ to the PMC “bubble” as a vacation.
          Alas, the man fits the definition of “Clueless Elite.”

    5. clarky90

      Re; “What does “heal the nation” mean?”

      When this scrambled message is decoded, via the handy widdershins, Turing machine app (inside out, upside down), my reading is that they are signaling for the moving of massed troops and material to the Easter Front…..

      Operation, Our Mayhem.

    6. Noone from Nowheresville

      It means that the writer’s circle and audience are the morally superior decision makers. Said group will use Humpty Dumpty’s rule about words and their meanings as their highest authority to guide them with prosecutorial discretion.

      Ultimately we will be healed when they say we are healed and not a moment sooner. But I’m not cynical at all. Nope, not at all.

      1. Lambert Strether

        One of these days I’m going to grind my teeth too hard and break one at “our democracy.” With “healing,” my shoulders sag and I cover my face with my hands. YMMV of course!

        1. ambrit

          The deployment of the phrase “our democracy” leads me to conclude that English needs a “hyper possessive tense.” No modifiers need apply.

    7. John Anthony La Pietra

      Isn’t NOT prosecuting folks for wrongdoing part of what got us here?

      (OTOH, how far back would the prosecutions have to go to make it plausible that doing it now WASN’T politically motivated?)

  2. Wukchumni

    “Attention K-Mart Shoppers” [Mark Davis, Internet Archive], “OK, I have to admit this this is a strange collection. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, I worked for Kmart behind the service desk and the store played specific pre-recorded cassettes issued by corporate. This was background music, or perhaps you could call it elevator music. Anyways, I saved these tapes from the trash during this period and this video shows you my extensive, odd collection.”
    Our family shopped rather exclusively @ K-mart in the 1970’s and they had everything from live pets to an automotive department, no need to go elsewhere. Then as now with Target, freshly popped popcorn was near the entrance to the store, something magical about it & retailing.

    So i’m 11 or so, and saved up my pennies to buy a parakeet, cage and tucker for said bird, and on the next excursion to K-Mart blew around $25 on the ensemble, and the next morning after acquisition, my yellow & green pride & joy was toes up in it’s cage, quite dead.

    I’m pretty devastated and mom drives the recently departed ‘keet and me to K-Mart and lashes out on some lowly employee about the state of my pet, and he lowers the boom on mom by telling her ‘Look lady, an 18 wheeler full of parakeets leaves Michigan and delivers them all over the United States and it’s a miracle any of them survive by the time the truck reaches the west coast!’

    My days of owning a bird were limited to one, I think I took the refund and bought a Cox gas powered .049 engine airplane that you flew around in a tether.

    Boring of it after awhile, I attempted to fly it from the top of a hill in free flight and it slammed into a tree smashing it to smithereens.

    1. fresno dan

      December 2, 2020 at 2:35 pm

      (you had to know this was coming)

      Besmirching the Jets, and now a fine upstanding retailer like Kmart…
      Are you SURE it was dead? maybe it was napping
      I had a number of parakeets purchased from Woolworths when I was a wee lad. Alas, none of those parakeets lasted very long either…

    2. rowlf

      In the 1970s my family lived near the Canadian border. On weekends the Canadians would come across and near empty out the local K-Mart.

      I watched for several years and never figured out why. The exchange rate? Did Canada only have GUM stores? Were the Canucks still pissed about the 1812 war incursions?

    3. Carolinian

      But was it nailed to its perch (for Monty Python fans)?

      Those puzzling over the rise of Walmart need only look at how bad Kmart was. Kmart was the beta version.

    4. The Rev Kev

      That is an amazing collection but you can always put a twist on it. Go to Seth Lawless’s YouTube channel of abandoned places and select one of those abandoned malls. Switch to a browser tab playing one of those K-mart tracks and start one, then go back to the tab showing on of those tours of an abandoned malls but kill the sound in that tab. Makes for a surreal experience when you got the sound right-


      Young Mr. Wukchumni sounds like he was absolutely devastated by the loss of his new bird which made sad reading. Present day Wukchumni, I suspect, would have gone back to that store to complain by saying loudly ‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This bird is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-BIRD!!’

    5. Late Introvert

      My dad taught me to drive in a huge K-Mart parking lot that was empty on Sunday.

      I rode my bike there to buy Spider Man comics.

      I had friends with no college get manager positions there, now they would all be @-hole Jeff Bezos’ sl@ves.

    6. ambrit

      Poor boy!
      Back “in the day,” we had a slightly deranged Border Collie at home in Miami. He twice to my knowledge caught and bought in the house and “gave” to Mom live parakeets. Parakeets will go wild if they escape in Florida. One was a pure white bird. Mom would occasionally describe the dog sitting up next to her in the kitchen and nosing the panting, terrified bird as if to say; “Here! A present to “She who Opens The Cans Of Food!”
      Both birds survived to have “normal” lives as family pets.
      Then there are the Monk parakeets. Often getting up to a foot long, they are now feral in Florida and look like they could carry off small dogs for ‘sport.’
      See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monk_parakeet

  3. tegnost

    . Many say the changes would make the system near unusable and have a devastating ripple effect on business, nightlife, sports and tourism industries that hope to make some recovery in 2021.”

    Sure, bad for the consumers who live in DC,but great! for uber/lyft! Who do you think those politicians work for, anyway?

  4. Mikel

    RE: “Prosecuting Trump Is the Only Way to Heal the Nation” [The American Prospect].

    The media will love that distraction from the problems of everyday people.
    The Democrats will love it for the same reason. Imagine how much trash they will push through and all that will get ignored.

    1. Hepativore

      In that case, we should also prosecute George W. Bush and his administration because look what they were responsible for. Yet Michelle Obama gave W a big hug and Obama said “We need to look forward not back!”

      Trump may be more personally odious but his crimes still pale in comparison to what Shrub and pals did. Also, Obama was hardly a saint either yet there is no chance that anybody in the mainstream media bubble is going to say anything bad about St. Barack.

      Irony has been dead for awhile but prosecuting Trump would be firing several more bullets into its rotting corpse.

      1. Wukchumni

        Irony isn’t dead yet, although its on life support.

        Humor me, but laughter is still quite a weapon when wielded in a setting of woe or worse.

        Remember before the internet when we told one another jokes, and you could ruin the funniest one imaginable merely by botching the timing-which is not an issue now, as we only read jokes online.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > In that case, we should also prosecute George W. Bush and his administration because look what they were responsible for.

        If Pelosi had voted to impeach Bush in 2006, as she should have, no Trump.

    2. Roger

      We could start with GW Bush and Cheney for numerous war crimes (plus the Senate committee that knew all about this – which includes Pelosi), Obama for murdering people in foreign lands every Tuesday, Clinton for the illegal bombing of Serbia and Ethiopia (bombed the major supplier of much needed drugs there), Reagan for Nicaragua and Grenada etc., Carter for illegally supplying the Mujahideen in Afghanistan to trigger a war, Nixon for being Nixon, LBJ for lying about the Vietnam War, Kennedy for stealing the 1960 election with the help of the Chicago mob plus attempting to murder and overthrow Castro, …

      Which US President should not be prosecuted to heal the nation? Being a criminal seems to be in the job description next to “maintaining the rich and subjugating the world”

      1. rowlf

        AG Barr is still in office. Maybe he has some Iran Contra files he didn’t bury.

        Looking back and cleaning out the Augean Stables on the Potomac and Hudson rivers would heal a lot of the countries woes.

      2. Ames Gilbert

        Um, quibbling, but Pelosi was never in the Senate, and Clinton bombed the pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. Yes, all U.S. presidents see themselves as the exceptional leaders of the One Exceptional Nation, and exempt from any laws, temporal or not.

        1. EricT

          She was fully aware of the Bush administration’s use of torture, essentially signing off on it, while being part of the gang of 8 between the Senate and House, privy to secret intelligence regarding security matters. She’s been part of Democratic leadership since the 21st century began. Letting crimes of war occur and being in a position of power with knowledge makes her a war criminal along with the rest of them.

        2. ChrisPacific

          I think Roger is referring to this quote that Lambert provided here last year:

          I was Ranking Member on the Intelligence Committee even before I became part of the leadership of Gang of Four. So, I knew there were no nuclear weapons in Iraq. It just wasn’t there.

          They had to show us now – to show the Gang of Four all the Intelligence they had. The Intelligence did not show that that – that was the case. So, I knew it was a – a misrepresentation to the public. But having said that, it was a, in my view, not a ground for impeachment. That was – they won the election. They made a representation. And to this day, people think – people think that that it was the right thing to do.

          Pelosi knew the war was based on lies and went along with it anyway, because she didn’t think there were votes in opposing it or making that fact public.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Pelosi knew the war was based on lies and went along with it anyway, because she didn’t think there were votes in opposing it or making that fact public.

            Master legislator!

    3. Duke of Prunes

      Clearly, this is the answer to the question of “What will the media do without Trump”? Don’t let Trump just go away, we can still get YEARS of trial coverage out of him.

    4. anon in so cal

      Not until Obama and Biden are on trial in the Hague for war crimes. How many innocents were killed
      in their 5 new regime change wars? Over 2 million.

  5. zagonostra

    >Jane Jacobs

    I remember having to read The Death and Life of Great American Cities in a course taught at FAU many many years ago by a somewhat renegade professor who also had us read Michael Parenti’s Democracy for the Few by Michael Parenti and Urban Villagers by Herbert J. Gans. Those books transformed the way I looked at both the physical and economic world I live(d) in.

    I wonder though if in the world of smartphones and ubiquitous screens monopolizing ever more eyeballs and attention whether some of her theories breakdown; that sense of community she describes, even when the physical dimensions conform to Jacob’s ideals, it seems nevertheless that the spiritual dimensions are elsewhere or non-existant.

    1. Bazarov

      Parenti’s “Black Shirts and Reds” is also excellent reading.

      As for whether or not smartphones might frustrate Jacob’s thesis…

      The vibrant city streets and their gregarious amblers I observed all over France and Italy were not made any less vibrant and gregarious by the smart phones in everyone’s pocket. Just like–in a different time–newspapers or books did not preclude social interaction (in fact, they stimulated it! Might the same be said of smartphones?).

      But in Europe people naturally talk to and engage one another, even strangers, and this occurs in the cities as well as the countryside.

      Long before smartphones, when I was growing up in America, my parents never spoke to our neighbors–in fact, my parents and my neighbors viewed each other with mutual suspicion.

      Americans are just not a very gregarious sort. I live in an atomized, “individuals and families” style Anglospherical society.

      The culture needs to change. The question is: would reshaping our cities as suggested by Jacobs result in such a change?

      1. Janie

        My childhood was pre air-conditioning. The adults brought lawn chairs to somebody’s back yard and the kids played tag and chased fireflies until it cooled off. Today, it’s the tv and the phone. Best memories of budget travel in Europe are the conversations in the Piazza Navona with a retired diplomat, at a sheep farm in the Yorkshire Dales and so forth. Don’t know if it would happen now; it may be so last century.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Hi Janie. Gotta say that your mention of the Piazza Navona brought back memories as I specifically went to visit that piazza. The reason? Because it was the site of the Stadium of Domitian. The open area of that Piazza was where the Romans had their horse races and where the building were was where the seats were for the audience.

          But as to your main point about casual conversations with different people across different countries I think that you may be right. I suspect that too many people now would have their heads buried in a mobile and that it would be hard to strike up conversations with those people which is both sad and a loss for all.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The adults brought lawn chairs to somebody’s back yard and the kids played tag and chased fireflies until it cooled off.

          That’s how it was for me, growing up in the Midwest. No time for playing tag now! Little Madison has violin lessons….

  6. fresno dan

    FYI: News for CA residents

    Effective December 1, 2020, California is expanding access to Medi-Cal for older adults and people with disabilities. This means that tens of thousands of people will qualify for free Medi-Cal, including many who have had a share of cost. For some recipients this will happen automatically, but others may need help advocating for or understanding the change. During this webinar, we will provide more information about the two major changes to the Medi-Cal eligibility rules and how to help older adults and people with disabilities take advantage of these changes.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      if only.
      i cannot legally sell an egg, or a tomato.(save for “on farm”)
      and i can never compete with giant, immortal fictions.
      of course, i’d sooner expect jesus to appear by the woodstove with a check for $10 million.
      sadly, it’s all gonna hafta collapse, first, and we’ll hafta endure the Burning Times.

    2. Glen

      Thanks for pointing this out – an excellent article.

      But I would add that in the CV-19 accelerated world that we live in, this is no longer about Wisconsin, or the mid west/rust belt or rural America, this is everywhere. Biden and his team needs to understand that outside of the bubble that they live in, America is swirling around the toilet in a giant mid-flush moment. They need to act BIG.

      My not so smart prediction based on fifty years of watching the Democratic party trends – they will fail, and not because they try and fail. They will not try; they really don’t care about you.

      1. Massinissa

        Hell, even making a big show that accomplishes nothing, Trump style, would probably be better for the Democrats electorally than an approach that obviously looks like it accomplishes nothing.

          1. Late Introvert

            The Generals are complete failures, and nobody seems to notice it. Losers!

            Which is a good thing I guess, winning would be even worse I think. Losers who won’t give up because they don’t have to… yet.

  7. Michael Fiorillo

    Regarding the Obama’s producing a series lampooning the incoming Trump administration, have they and the audience they seek forgotten that they spent four years screaming that Hitler/Mussolini/Putin’s Boi Mistress had usurped the Presidency, and that our Promised (to whom?) Land was under existential threat, and now they want to tell us it really was opera bouffe?

    File Under: #McResistance, the Gross Dishonesty of/United States of Amnesia

    1. DJG

      Michael Fiorillo:
      Noting that Lambert Strether has been posting excerpts from Obama’s logorrheic memoir as incitement, and noting that announcement about producing a series about the Mar-a-Lago Hillbillies, with their cee-ment pond, all shiny and gilded, I am starting to suspect that Michelle and Barack still don’t understand what a drawback their too-clever-by-halfness is. Like Trump, they exist because of and for an overly mediated world.

      I recall the too-clever-by-halfness of the owners of the Democratic Party, Bill and Hill, who are now trying to force the craven Neera Tanden into a position and to avoid any mentions of Bill’s, errr, problem with serial rape.

      Hybris, anyone? Or are the Obamas truly just terminally self-involved and silly?

      Let’s hope that it is hybris. The fall will not be televised.

  8. a different chris

    >I don’t know if a serious Constitutional issue should not be heard because of an effective gotcha, however.

    The flip side of that coin is taking away the voice of the people because of, yet again, trying to understand something written in another time by people that are long dead.*

    It’s supposedly a democracy, at least give people something. It’s always a dangerous game if said “democracy” is written such that only the people who benefit from the constitutional structures get to vote on those structures.

    Which is what we have. Ignore that stupid piece of paper. Or ramp back the powers of the Presidency to what it was when said piece of paper was written and then maybe OK. A dog-training manual is not helpful if you find yourself dealing with Siegfried and Roy’s little kitties.

    *I don’t even know the history, let alone of what’s in the Pa Constitution but I would bet it isn’t very enlightened.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Not sure where this Constitution thingy you speak of applies if the country does not even prosecute attempts to depose the leader by one faction with the help of the spy agencies.

      POTUS gave a speech today where he explained that ElectionGate is simply an extension of RussiaGate. His deplorable followers continue making the absolutely outrageous demand to count every legal vote and not count the illegal ones. On Earth 2 everybody would demand that. But back here on Earth 1 Dem voters somehow got a Republican cabinet implementing Republican policies. WTF? Is this a Seinfeld episode, where you need to do the opposite? So people wanting less war, more freedom of speech, and higher wages for workers through less job offshoring would need to vote Republican? Um, yes.

      1. tegnost

        On earth 1, our 2 choices are centrist leaning republican and crazy republican.
        So people wanting less war, more freedom of speech, and higher wages for workers through less job offshoring would need to…pound sand

    2. Aumua

      The right wing media sure does love the word ‘constitution’. It’s their second favorite word in fact, next to ‘liberty’. They never seem to really get into exactly how the constitution is being violated by those far left, radical (sic) Democrats though. Just that they definitely are trying to overthrow it at every turn.

  9. Screwball

    Janet Yellen: We face great challenges as a country right now. To recover, we must restore the American dream—a society where each person can rise to their potential and dream even bigger for their children.

    Dear Ms. Yellen,

    I know you’ve been busy printing all that money, but a guy named Carlin told us all about that dream back in 2005. He was right 15 years ago, and he’s still right today.

    Do yourself a favor and Goggle that little ditty up, then get back to us will ya?

    Thank you,

    1. notabanker

      “each person can”

      Awfully low bar to set.

      “rise to their potential”

      Who is defining that “potential”? Same folks writing means testing rules I’d bet.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Everybody is missing the actual signal on the Yellen choice.

      What does this little troll know about Treasury operations? Finance? Budgets? Spending bills? Answer = Zero.

      So what does she “know” about? Monetary issues.

      Forget the noise, here’s the signal: they are planning to go b*lls deep on MMT for the super-rich. CARES Act was the first salvo. Next up is moar and moar and moar free money, straight up obligations of the hapless and defenseless U.S. taxpayer and their kids and their kids, straight to the pockets of Joe’s actual constituency in Davos and The Caymans.

      But hey you supposedly voted for him.

      1. Yves Smith

        Ahem, she knows way more than former investment banker Hank Paulson, the former industrial company CEOs Bush chose, Paul O’Neil and John Snow, or Clinton appointee Lloyd Bentsen. I’m not keen because she was more hawkish at the Fed than is generally recognized but she is technically competent.

  10. notabanker

    “Messaging” and “Narratives” are all these people are capable of. How about action and family blogging results?

    Just an endless stream of think tank jibberish to keep people occupied while the looting continues.

  11. Seth Miller


    Even with constitutional rights at stake, a litigant needs to file any challenge within a proscribed time after he or she is impacted. For example, I have a client who has been in her rent stabilized apartment for forty years. Her new landlord as of last year threatened to challenge the constitutionality of rent stabilization, as applied to her. As it turns out, the statute of limitations ran out 37 years ago, on the previous owner.

    Kelly was himself a candidate in Pennsylvania. Any limitations period, or laches period, began running when the rules applied to him.

  12. Wukchumni

    Meanwhile, most every resort in North America is opening up-local skiconomies must go on, and many boarders & skiers plying the piste are from out of town, spreading seasonal ‘cheer’.
    VERBIER, Switzerland, Dec 2 (Reuters) – Swiss ski resorts are ploughing ahead with preparations for the year-end holiday season despite pressure from neighbouring Italy, France and Germany to shut until the latest coronavirus wave passes.

    Health Minister Alain Berset has proposed limits on the capacity of ski lifts at Christmas and the New Year, but lift operators and mountain regions who already expect many foreign visitors to stay away during the festive period bristle at added restrictions.

    Eloi Rossier, mayor of Bagnes below the Swiss ski resort of Verbier, acknowledged feeling the heat from other countries, but said that his town’s ski economy was too important to simply call off the season, especially given measures the resort was taking to keep people safe.

    He expects up to 45,000 people over Christmas and New Year, fewer than normal due to “a lot of cancellations.

    “There is an economic aspect that we cannot deny, it is extremely important,” Rossier said. “But it is not skiing that’s dangerous for transmitting the virus, but the stuff that comes after skiing, the apres-ski. And here we took extremely strict measures to limit…the risks.”

    France, with no skiing before January, plans border checks to deter people, President Emmanuel Macron said, while Germany’s Bavaria state is considering similar spot checks followed by a 14-day quarantine upon return.

    Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s government announced on Wednesday that the nation’s ski resorts could open starting Dec. 24 for locals and day trippers, with hotels and restaurants closed, and new, stricter quarantine rules adopted to discourage visitors from abroad.


    1. petal

      I follow some Swiss tourism pages on fb and they are flogging skiing and vacations there. Ours up here can’t open because it’s been too warm to make snow. There are radio ads about how if you’re from out of state you need to quarantine for 14 days before you ski. A friend that teaches at a local mtn said they are requiring passes be bought no later than the day before you plan to ski so they can keep a control on numbers.

      1. Duck1

        there is a lot of machinery involved, ie fixed costs as well as the labor, variable costs
        if the machinery is not used over a certain amount of time that is collapse
        the airlines are in a similar condition, though parking them in Arizona (hello AZ slim) might mitigate with plenty of vasoline on the machinery
        cheers with your travelling down the mt on 2 sticks

  13. Ron Grissman

    As to Pennsylvania and the SCOTUS, I don’t think so. There already is a constitutional process in place to deal with the validity of the electors. At the start of Congress: there is a joint session where they vote on each elector. One from the Senate one from the house. A tie then the Governor of that states breaks the tie. Biden will win. In the more extreme event after Pelosi is sworn, she does not have to swear anyone else in. But she could swear in only Democratics. Then the house could vote, one vote per state. Biden wins. It’s gets better or worse depending on your idea of fun. The ultimate play, would be for the house to vote that it is all yo muddled and needs to be “studied”. Maybe forever. Either way on Jan 20 trump’s term expires and Pelosi becomes president. The house could make Biden speaker, Nancy might resign and Biden becomes president. Given the way Republicans have been acting nothing would surprise me any more. But one thing is certain. Trump will not be president after Jan 20th.

  14. ewmayer

    Was reading the transcript of the Economics Not Culture Wars Drove Most Trump Voters podcast by Thomas Ferguson in The Analysis which featured in Links a few days ago, which opens with:

    “As president-elect Biden assembles his cabinet and prepares to take power, President Trump, while more-or-less conceding without conceding, is planning his next act. One way or the other, the almost 74 million people who voted for him will continue to be a base of support both for Trump and future rightwing demagogues.”

    On seeing the use of that in-modern-times-tendentious-dog-whistle word at the end my immediate thought was “‘demagogue’ or ‘populist’?” Time to look up both words and see just how they differ. Using Oxford Dictionary of American English on my old Mac. start with the 2nd word:

    populist: a member or adherent of a political party seeking to represent the interests of ordinary people.
    • a person who holds, or who is concerned with, the views of ordinary people.

    Next up, we turn to

    demagogue: a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.

    But interestingly, there is a supplementary note with the original definition:

    • (in ancient Greece and Rome) a leader or orator who espoused the cause of the common people.

    Which reflects the Greek word origin – the “17th century” bit seems to refer to the modern usage:

    ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from Greek dēmagōgos, from dēmos ‘the people’ + agōgos ‘leading’ (from agein ‘to lead’ ).

    1. Ron Grissman

      Please, dictionary definitions are established by definition by usage. Read Thomas Frank for the true meaning of those words.

      1. ewmayer

        You think the OED ignores usage and just makes up its own definitions?

        Frank: “Populists both loved knowledge and rejected professional elites. The reason was because the economic establishment of that age of crisis was overwhelmingly concerned with serving business, not the people.”

        Please explain how that differs materially from the above definition, Mr. drive-by homework-assigner.

  15. Grant

    “There is little benefit to trying to exert influence with likely unsuccessful bids to pick off potential appointees on the basis of spurious ideological arguments about who really counts as a progressive.”

    Which is why no one, outside of out of touch rich people on TV and in the print media, focuses on such things. Is it so hard to understand that you can support leftist policies for ideological and non-ideological reasons? I don’t have to quote Das Capital when arguing for single payer. I can just point to it being a more efficient and humane systemm. A person could be opposed to the left’s worldview and support single payer because it is in their interest, which is often the case. I can also object to austerity for ideological reasons and because of the real world impacts. It happens to be the case that the left’s ideas are also very popular. It is the Biden’s of the world that are the most committed to a particular ideology, although class is also important.

    How mediocre of a thinker do you have to be to get a job as a journalist at a major paper? About as mediocre as you have to be to get paid the big bucks I guess.

  16. Mark Dempsey

    Thanks for the mention of Jane Jacobs. She was calling out the CalPERS-ification of our cities long before retirement funding became an issue. Here’s her evaluation: “The pseudo science of planning seems almost neurotic in its determination to imitate empiric failure and ignore empiric success….to put it bluntly, [sprawl planners] are all in the same stage of elaborately learned superstition as medical science was early in the [19th century], when physicians put their faith in bloodletting”

    Land use is the nexus of local corruption. (See this 1993 editorial that still applies)

    As for observations: The typical premium buyers pay for a mixed-use, mixed-income, pedestrian-friendly development (i.e. “New Urbanism”) is 40%. I speak as a former appraiser (I’ve got the comparable sales, too.)

    Recommended reading: Duany, Plater-Zyberk and Speck’s Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I read your reference but there were some things I could not learn from that reference. It claimed:
      “…development using existing infrastructure (infill) is obviously cheaper for the county than outlying (“greenfield”) development with new roads, schools, etc., nevertheless infill still costs developers more.”
      I couldn’t [find] understand the argument that justified that statement. I well understand that infill is less expensive for the county — city? — but how is it more expensive for developers? The very short time I spent working as a real estate sales agent one summer — in the days of dinosaurs — I remember the problems I had selling existing homes in competition with new housing developments. The new homes were less well-built, using lower quality materials, [lower quality for the most part … if you ignored the non-spec slabs with 1″ — or less concrete/cement at center pour and ‘approved’ for housing in the city where I worked] and the new homes had lower property taxes … for a while … than the existing housing nearby that I was trying to resell.

      My impressions from poking through land books was that the county built roads, water, and sewer to nowhere and suddenly, magically … developers with options on the nowhere land developed housing complexes as soon as the country improvements were complete. I was also amazed how the costs for a variance for a lot-split in county or city matched the cost for a variance for a subdivision in the same county or city. This cemented in my young, still-in-college mind, that something was “rotten in Denmark.”

      I was further impressed with this conclusion as some older homes [10+ years] with fully inspected and approved foundations near where I went to college slid into gullies with the mud-slides following some heavy … but not unusually heavy … rains. I also became suspicious about who wanted to serve as county supervisors or city councilmen after listening to a couple of sessions … BORING !!!

      It would be most difficult to convince me otherwise than that your statement “Land use is the nexus of local corruption.” is very very very TRUE. What affiliations are most characteristic of our local governments … even to the State level? I learned this working for a governor’s campaign in Florida.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      thats not a speech, that’s reciting his twitter feed from the last month.
      the comments were sort of enlightening, though…i learned that “Chicom” has made a comeback after 30 years in the wilderness.
      and ,apparently, Biden is a Communist.
      Good to know.

    2. Phil in KC

      Actually, I think this speech is the first speech of his re-election campaign. It’s going to be a long four years, and “will you just shut up, man” is not going to silence him. For better or worse, Trump owns a controlling interest in the Republican Party, and he’s not going to step aside for anyone. So, in other words, Trump is the only thing standing between us and the Cruz/Haley ticket. Hmmm.

  17. marku52

    Best buffer overflow error message ever:

    My wife was working at a newspaper using a brand new prototype page layout program. This was way back in the day, had a huge Tek DVST display tube, probably ran on a Vax somewhere else in the building.

    Occasionally the system would crash mid job, to her vast annoyance. With the error message
    “George gambled and lost”.

    One day one of the developers came to see his program in use, and my wife expressed her annoyance.
    “What the hell is George gambled and lost”

    George’s development partner said “Oh, that just means that George underestimated the required buffer size…..”

      1. Voltaire Jr.

        VGC Typositor, Mergenthaler VIP, AKI paper punch keyboards, Compuscan OCR, Varityper and on and on…

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Airbnb asked Canada for a bailout. Canada slapped Airbnb with a tax.”

    Finally. Some good news. Can a tax also be slapped on companies like Uber that try to destroy the lives of taxi-drivers by using the same model?

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Majestic Trees Are Being Clear-Cut in American Suburbs”

    Not just American suburbs. Outside a nearby city years ago, they wanted a new development for a brand new suburb that was tree covered land back then. So they bull-dozed all the trees there. Cleared the whole lot so that there were not even stumps. They then laid down streets, services, etc. and before long new houses stared popping up. Very soon that whole area was all houses but in summer time the heat was ferocious. So then all these home owners started planting trees for shade and when you drive by there now, from above it looks like half houses and half tree. Progress!

    1. Martin Oline

      I will always remember driving through Olathe, Kansas about 15 years ago. Olathe is a western suburb of Kansas City, and it is a Kiowa name that means subdivision. They were scraping a large plot of ground down to the rock and there was a huge pile of trees waiting to be burned. There was a large sign by the highway that read “Coming Soon – THE WILDERNESS”.

  20. anon in so cal

    >Native trees

    Fortunately, the city of Los Angeles has a division of Urban Forestry. Part of its mission is to use LAMC Sec. 46 to protect some California native trees, such as:

    Oak species (Quercus spp) native to Southern California, Southern California Black Walnut (Juglans californica), Western or California Sycamore (Platanus racemosa), and California Bay (Umbellularia californica).

    Citations and fines are issued for damage to native trees. They have actually come out into the field and dealt with some problems. Unfortunately, unscrupulous developers simply pay the fines and chop down the trees. This particularly occurs on weekends when no one in the City is available to come out (that’s when one has to call lapd).


  21. EGrise

    “Hedge funds and Wall Street bet big on Biden. Will he deliver?”

    I’m surprised no one flagged that as a violation of Betteridge’s Law.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “A good discussion of the droplet (ballistic) to aerosol (floating) continuum”

    And to think that only a few months ago that experts were roundly denying the very idea of aerosol contamination and if it was a thing even. I guess that if you want the economy still going, aerosol transmission of this virus would have put a serious damp on this happening.

  23. anon in so cal

    >Hospital admission restrictions

    Was that mentioned on here?

    “As COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to spike, ambulances in San Bernardino County are no longer responding to every sick person who calls 911.

    People with relatively minor ailments will still have paramedics come to their aid, who will assist them on the spot or perhaps recommend that they go to urgent care.

    California COVID-19 hospitalizations reach record high for 4th straight day.
    COVID-19 hospitalizations in L.A. County reach another troubling peak
    California stay-at-home order looms for most of state as COVID-19 cases explode.

    But ambulances will be reserved for people with life-threatening emergencies such as a heart attack or trouble breathing due to COVID-19.

    The decision was made by San Bernardino County officials Thanksgiving morning as the volume of 911 calls increased by 25% over a 24-hour period, driven by the COVID-19 surge.”


  24. Person

    EFF posted this in mid-November but it didn’t get much attention, so I figured I would leave it here for the NC commentariat: Video Analytics User Manuals Are a Guide to Dystopia. Some manuals to current surveillance systems were obtained by freedom of information requests, and the results are concerning.

    Some highlights:

    Briefcam, which is often packaged with Genetec video technology, is frequently used at real-time crime centers. These are police surveillance facilities that aggregate camera footage and other surveillance information from across a jurisdiction. Dozens of police departments use Briefcam to search through hours of footage from multiple cameras in order to, for instance, narrow in on a particular face or a specific colored backpack. This power of video analytic software would be particularly scary if used to identify people out practicing their First Amendment right to protest.

    If you’re watching video footage on Briefcam, you can select any face, then add it to a “watchlist.” Then, with a few more clicks, you can retrieve every piece of video you have with that person’s face in it.

    One feature available both with Briefcam and Avigilon are watchlists, and we don’t mean a notebook full of names. Instead, the systems allow you to upload folders of faces and spreadsheets of license plates, and then the algorithm will find matches and track the targets’ movement. The underlying watchlists can be extremely problematic. For example, EFF has looked at hundreds of policy documents for automated license plate readers (ALPRs) and it is very rare for an agency to describe the rules for adding someone to a watchlist.

  25. Amfortas the hippie

    some things i ran across, while p way too early tending the woodstoves:
    “At the moment, couch surfing acts as a sponge that wipes up the spills of an uncaring nation”
    includes some rather jarring anecdotes regarding how demeaning and kafkaesque so many of the poor people programs are…often by design.
    bonkers 1:
    bonkers 2:

    wherein the gop learns that 40+ years of mindf&ck and purposeful confusion generation has consequences.
    a study in selfishness as moral imperative, as handed down by the neoliberal order’s ongoing dispensation and catechism:

    and the broader context of the above:
    I’ve heard 4 people on the scanner being carted off to the hospital, 45 miles away, with covid, in the last 3 days…
    2 more who signed “refusals” with the emt’s.
    the county website still has fewer reported cases than what we know about….stepdad’s nurses are wild eyed and spitting mad about the entire local gov response.
    the idea seems to be to keep the official number of current local cases under 20…which is Abbot’s threshold for mandatory masks.
    the local leaders simply don’t want to go there, because then they’ll have a bunch of maskless crazies pissing in their ears about the chinese hoaxvirus…so the numbers are kept below that threshold.
    nobody but us are wearing masks in town….although we don’t really go anywhere any more….the propane/plumbing store, at least, has locked it’s doors and put in a little window to do business through.
    it’s gonna get worse.

  26. JBird4049

    It’s interesting see how the anti communist message is passed from generation to generation up to the present from Cuba to Nicaragua to Cuban-American politicians as mentioned in the Jacobin; almost every single Latin American country including Brazil has had its democratically elected government overthrown, replaced by a murderous, authoritarian, kleptocracy that is support with money, military support, training in political repression, and occasionally direct military support of American military forces; perhaps if the populations’ elected governments were allowed to govern and the citizens were not being murdered by American trained death squads in order to allow the ruling elites (and international, but especially American, corporations free access to steal) there would not be this constant problem of “communism,” which many were, but often merely socialist or even just liberal, resistance movements for the past 75 years. However, they were all called communist and usually the only aid they could get was from Cuba or the Soviet Union.

    Most, although not all, of the Cuban and Nicaraguan refugees were from the wealthy, corrupt, ruling class. I hardly considered the brutal and murderous rule by the Somoza family or the dictator Batista as shining examples of good government. The American Mafia virtually ran large parts of the Cuban economy.

  27. Richard H Caldwell

    I have a thought — fewer Twitter embeds… I’m sick of them, actually. At least embeds that require a click-through.

    I NEVER follow the links, being loath to attract the unwanted attention of the Twitter and its associated remorae. So embeds are of no value to me unless the payload / punchline is clearly visible in your page.

    Just one opinion…

    1. Person

      Replace twitter.com with nitter.net in the URL, no more tracking. No JavaScript required either, so it loads faster.

  28. dk

    “There’s No Such Thing as ‘the Latino Vote’” (interview) [Geraldo Cadava, Jacobin]

    Several very necessary insights in this article, but one glaring oversight: Trump Victory, under Brad Parscale, actively and aggressively courted conservative Hispanics and Latinos since at least the beginning of 2019, while Dems as a party were still wrapped up in their primary.

    From June 2019: Trump campaign looks to gain support with Latino voters despite president’s harsh approach to immigration

    In mid-September of 2019 Trump even gave a heavily targeted speech in Rio Rancho NM whose messages were echoed by regional Latino surrogates across the country.

    And there’s the Latinos for Trump website: https://latinos.donaldjtrump.com/news

    One of the interesting characteristics of the Saturday MAGA motorcades here in Albuquerque was the high proportion of Hispanic participants, especially in the early period the motorcades stopped completely when Trump and the GOP abruptly ran out of money and their donors dried up, in the last week of August, only to return in the last three weeks before the election, and with fewer cars and Hispanics in particular. During the interim, federal and state Democrat campaigns were presenting a nearly completely Hispanic slate (except for Laguna Pueblo Deb Haaland). Nonetheless, the traditionally more conservative counties swung toward Trump from 2016.

    Parscale also mounted similar sustained and early outreach and messaging programs to Black and immigrant communities across the country, organized church-based voter registrations drives (particular success in Utah), and orchestrated action-based social messaging (not just snark but “call/email your local representative!” and “bring a sign to our rally!”), without which Trump could not have earned the 74 million votes he did. The Blue Wave was real, but so was the Red Tsunami. And had not Trump Victory’s donors dried up as Biden’s nomination for the Dems became inevitable, those field efforts wouldn’t have faltered and Trump might actually have won, or at least fought to an even closer result.

    But regardless of the election’s outcome, GOP engagement with Latino/Hispanic voters was significant, and importantly, begun early That kind of activity will appear in tallies in November. For the most part, Dem political strategists took the Latino vote for granted and as Cadava says, certainly didn’t take the concept of conservative Latinos and Hispanics seriously.

    In the aftermath of the respectably solid Biden victory, mainstream Dems are happy to punch left and down, chiding everyone that wasn’t a Stacey Abrams for not doing enough and burdening Biden with a leftish tinge. Dems perennially ignore anyone’s activities but their own, and build narratives of hurt betrayal based on that, justifying steadfast neoliberal and (anti-socialist) fiscally conservative policies once in power.

    Trump’s administration and campaign may have had a high percentage of incompetents and grifters by any standard, but they also appointed some very competent people who bring skill to their endeavors (one can demonstrate merit and still do very bad things). In appointing Parscale at the top of the national campaign, and giving him autonomy independent of established GOP political strategists, Trump got an upstart with a clear-eyed view of contemporary political mechanics and strategy. Dems turned up their noses and ignored this, and told each other “those programs don’t work for Republicans.”

    I attempted to post this yesterday, maybe it will go through this time.

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