2:00PM Water Cooler 11/3/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I overwhelmed myself with Election Day material. I will have UPDATEs in due course, sigh. –Lambert

Bird Song of the Day

* * *


Patient readers, I have started to revise this section, partly to reduce my workload, but partly to focus more as an early warning, if that is possible. Hopefully I will have a variant tracker map soon. In the meantime, I added excess deaths.
Case count by United States regions:

Still rising. I have added an anti-triumphalist black line. This chart is a seven-day average, so changes in direction only show up when a train is really rolling. That said, I don’t think this is the surge some of us Bears have been waiting for (see the “tape watching” remarks below). It’s driven by cases widely distributed through inland California (see last Friday for maps). The local economy is heavily driven by outdoors-y tourism, but there are no major airports, so possibly cases are being spread by drivers. Beyond these speculations I cannot go.

* * *

Because a rise in the case count is so counter to the narrative that Covid is over, and to me more than a little alarming. So I thought I’d look at all four regions — and buy myself a little time to move along to the great events of the day — to see if there is more to the rise than California.

Here again is the West:

California up and down, but suddenly. A data problem?

And the Midwest:

Michigan and Wisconsin up.

And the Northeast:

New York and Pennsylania rising.

And the South:

Bubba doing pretty good, now. Worth noting that California and New York are deep blue.

So, as of right now, I wouldn’t call the rise a blip, because seven-day averages even out the blips, but so far, this doesn’t look like The Big One.

* * *


“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 Mice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Capitol Seizure

“The Attack” (not paywalled) [WaPo]. The deck: “The Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol was neither a spontaneous act nor an isolated event.” If this narrative didn’t come from the people who brought us RussiaGate, I’d be more inclined to invest a lot of time in it. Perhaps when there are criminal indictments of more than sad sack petty bourgeoisie spear carriers? But maybe that won’t happen until we get closer to 2024.

A good question:

The walls are closing in!

“Tracking a Journalistic Cliché: “The Worst Attack on Our Democracy Since the Civil War” [Matt Taibbi, TK News]. From Biden’s April 28 Joint Session speech: “The worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.”…. No one has said where exactly the line “worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War” came from…. News directors and editors once needed stiff nudges to repeat a president’s words verbatim, not just because it’s embarrassing to take dictation from a politician, but because it was bad business to do it for free…. This disease has spread rapidly in the last year or so, when phrases like “transformative president” and “pandemic of the unvaccinated” have begun traveling from White House transcripts to teleprompters facing anchors on CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox with humorous alacrity. In fact, “the worst… since the Civil War” was such a success in flowing from Biden’s head to the lips of people like Anderson Cooper and Chris Cuomo that, as noted in Matt Orfalea’s terrific compilation above, it’s been deployed for rare double-duty as a political cliché. It’s currently in circulation describing both the January 6th riots and the efforts by Republican state officials to change voting rights laws, and has even become a bit of a crossover hit…. Of course, “since the Civil War” is absurd in any direction. None of these things were worse “attacks” on American democracy than Pearl Harbor, 9/11, the sinking of the Lusitania, or a dozen other blood-soaked episodes in our history. Also, no matter what your views of Republican voting-rights laws, no rational person would define them as more draconian or extreme than Jim Crow, Japanese internment, or any of the War on Terror initiatives, and that’s just for starters.” • Excellent media critique from Taibbi.

Biden Administration

“House Democrats add paid family leave back to proposed $1.75T social safety net bill” [NBC]. “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Wednesday that paid family and medical leave is back in the massive social safety net spending package, but its inclusion in the final draft hinges on support from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a key centrist. ‘I have asked the Ways and Means Committee for its legislation for Paid Family and Medical Leave to be included in this morning’s hearing,’ Pelosi says in a Dear Colleague letter. ‘Chairman Richie Neal and the Committee staff have worked on this priority for a long time and were ready.’ The proposal will include four weeks of paid leave, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News. The sources asked for anonymity to discuss negotiations. Manchin, in response to the announcement, said he still opposes the paid leave proposal. ‘That’s a challenge, very much of a challenge. And they know how I feel about that,’ he told reporters.” • I like a President who rises to a challenge.

UPDATE “Medicare Could Negotiate Drug Prices Under Democrat Proposal” [US News]. “Under the proposal, negotiations could begin in 2023 on the most expensive drugs — anticoagulants, and cancer and rheumatoid arthritis treatments. Before negotiations could start, most drugs would be given patent exclusivity for nine years, but that would be extended to 12 years for more complex drugs called biologics, according to the Times. After those periods, Medicare would be able to step in, even if drug makers get patent extensions or take other measures to safeguard their patents.” • Well, that’s pretty pathetic.

UPDATE “Democrats Dropped Medicare Dental and Vision Coverage From Their Social Spending Bill. Voters Say It’s Their Top Priority” [Morning Consuilt]. • Here is the complete list:

I didn’t cross off negotiating prescription drug results because its now nominally back on the table (see above). How is it that Democrats expect people to vote for them when they cross all the voters’ top priorities off their to-do list? How does that work?

UPDATE “Manchin says ‘unbelievable’ Virginia results validate concerns over spending package” [The Hill]. • Because of course he does. The Presideny is controlled by centrists. The House is controlled by centrists. The Senate is controlled by centrists. Deploy the blame cannons! The progressives are over there!

UPDATE “Remarks by President Biden at the COP26 Leaders Statement” [The White House]. • More than the usual number of glitches in this speech.

Democrats en Deshabille

“Youngkin’s Virginia win jolts Democrats, tight race in NJ” [Associated Press]. “The elections were the first major tests of voter sentiment since Biden took office and suggested growing frustration. They also underscored that, with Trump out of office, Democrats can’t center their messages on opposition to him. The results ultimately pointed to a potentially painful year ahead for Democrats as they try to maintain thin majorities in Congress…. A former co-CEO at the Carlyle Group with a lanky, 6′6″ build that once made him a reserve forward on Rice University’s basketball team, Youngkin poured vast amounts of his personal fortune into a campaign that spent more than $59 million. Favoring fleece vests, Youngkin sought to cut the image of a genial suburban dad. Youngkin ran confidently on a conservative platform. He opposed a major clean energy mandate the state passed two years ago and objected to abortion in most circumstances. He also opposed mask and vaccine mandates, promised to expand Virginia’s limited charter schools and ban critical race theory, an academic framework that centers on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and that they function to maintain the dominance of white people. In recent months, it has become a catch-all political buzzword for any teaching in schools about race and American history.”

* * *

The Virginia gubernatorial results, county by county:

Notice the blue counties in Alexandria. Clockwise, the famous Loudon (McAuliffe 55.0%/Youngkin 44.5%), Fairfax (64.7%/34.8%), Arlington (76.6%/22.8%), and Prince William (58.4%/40.9%). Obviously, these are all suburbs. Charlottesville, blue in the center of the state, blue Richmond, and blue Virginia Beach/Norfolk, no doubt have their own suburbs as well. However, American sprawl being what it is, there are no doubt many smaller suburbs and exurbs in the red areas of the state (which are, therefore, not necessarily “rural”). And even among blue suburbs there are differences. Loudon, for example, is by far the richest suburb in America. Fairfax contains MacLean, home of the CIA, and therefore I assume many voters who “work in government.” So, beware of any narrative that treats “the suburbs” as monolithic. Clearly, they are not. Equally clearly, many still support Biden. From the University of Virginia Demographics Research Group:

Both [OMB and Census] definitions of rural area have noticeable weaknesses. The Census Bureau’s definition of rural areas is largely focused on population density, often classifying suburbs as rural, such as Clifton in Fairfax County, and sometimes classifying small towns, such as Clifton Forge in western Virginia, as urban. The Office of Management and Budget’s definition has the opposite problem. Because metro areas are created on the county level, remote areas, such as most of Shenandoah National Park, are often also included in metro areas.

The UVA Research Group provides this handy map:

Plenty of red in “metro areas,” which surely include “suburbs.” So, I hate to cast cold water on the “It’s the suburbs!” hot take, but… nobody knows anything.

This shift map is interesting:

Any account of the Virginia election needs to explain this uniformity.

UPDATE White women:

It could be that the Loudon county debacle resonated in red suburban counties other than Loudon (although McAuliffe lost six points over Biden in Loudon).

UPDATE “The Democratic Unraveling Began With Schools” [The Atlantic]. “Polling indicates that they are still really angry. Education was the top issue in the contest, according to the latest Washington Post/SCHAR poll, narrowly edging out the economy, 24 to 23. Democrats typically do very well on education in Virginia—suburban voters organize their lives around well-funded public schools. But this year, Youngkin entered Election Day up nine points over McAuliffe among voters who said education was their top priority. The most important data point for the election is public-school enrollment in Northern Virginia, and it’s very bad for Democrats. Fairfax County, the largest county in the state, has lost more than 10,000 students since the start of the pandemic—a decline of about 5 percent. In neighboring Arlington County, the dropoff is 3.9 percent; in Loudoun County, it’s 3.4 percent. Those may look like modest declines, but they should not be happening in prosperous counties where the population is growing quickly. The public schools in all three counties have a reputation for quality. People move there for the schools…. Losing the Virginia suburbs is a bigger problem for Democrats than it might appear.” • But… they didn’t. What I want to know is, if Fairfax County “lost” 10,000 students, where did they go? Home-schooling? Other counties? Other states? And if the parents are gone, how does that translate into votes or loss of votes? Also, if education is the top issue for 24%, and “the economy” for 23%, why is nobody talking about that? (If you’re looking, as in the shift map above, issues that affect Virginians uniformly, the economy is an obvious candidate.) The author is an Omidyar Fellow at the Atlantic…

UPDATE Other Democrats start putting the boot in:

UPDATE “Youngkin Defeats McAuliffe” [Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo]. “Then there’s the other problem: President Biden looks weak. The pull out from Afghanistan plays some role in this. But the real driver is the months long spectacle of the President and his party unable to pass the basic legislation that makes up his agenda. Negotiating, begging, false starts, canceled votes. A President of the United States stymied by two obscure Senators the vast majority of Americans have never even heard of. Obviously this has deeply demoralized Democrats around the country – a fact which I think played a significant role in McAuliffe’s defeat. But for less committed voters – a smaller portion of the electorate but the floating segment that decides most elections – the President just looks weak. He says this and that is important but can’t seem to get this or that done. It’s through that prism that these voters view an uncertain economy. Regardless of what the President is trying to do, he can’t do it. If you’re not terribly ideological or plugged into the policy and legislative details what you see is a country beset with problems and an ineffective President. That’s a bad, bad combination for the President’s party.” • When Josh Marshall puts the boot in….

UPDATE The sort of power couple the Democrat Party rewards:

* * *

UPDATE “Glenn Youngkin Built a Path for a Post-Trump Republican Party” [Zaid Jailani, Inquire]. From the polling, “The shift in the race can be traced to late September. That month, McAuliffe and Youngkin dueled in a gubernatorial debate over the topic of legislation that the former vetoed during his first term as governor (in Virginia, governors can serve only one term at a time but are free to run again after sitting it out for a cycle)…. That’s when [McAuliffe, in debate with Youngkin,] uttered the line that came to define the race. ‘I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision,’ McAuliffe said in the debate. ‘I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.’…. [We then had the Loudon County debacle]…. In the last month of the campaign, Youngkin and conservative media hammered McAuliffe nonstop on education issues…. Youngkin made the case a centerpiece of his demand for greater transparency and accountability from schools, adding it to his earlier pledge to prohibit state sponsorship of critical race theory-inspired (CRT) ideas in public education. At the same time, [Youngkin] continued to campaign on boosting teacher salaries, putting him in alignment with the concerns of many Democratic-leaning voters. The Republican nominee’s emphasis on education appeared to turn the race in his favor. I spoke to Elizabeth Schultz, who served on the Fairfax County School Board for eight years and voted for Youngkin this year. ”’I told the Youngkin campaign at the beginning of June that this…was going to come down to education and it was going to come down to education in Northern Virginia,’ she told me. ‘I understood how angry how parents were about what happened over the course of the pandemic and the schools not being opened, the collusion that was exposed between the teachers’ unions and the CDC in keeping schools closed and them architecting the messaging to keep schools closed.'” • This is worth reading in full, and it’s far superior to the article on education from the Omidyar Fellow above. Plus, the detail that Youngkin supported raises for teachers is a detail I haven’t seen elsewhere. Handy chart:

UPDATE Youngkin attacking McAuliffe from the left:

UPDATE Youngkin’s closing argument… The DMV:

A Republlican promising to govern. A classic example of stealing the clothes of one’s opponent…

* * *

UPDATE “Five takeaways from a grim night for Democrats” [The Hill]. “Youngkin handled the huge issue of former President Trump with surprising deftness, particularly for a first-time candidate. He accepted the endorsement of Trump and was careful not to alienate the former president’s supporters. But he also kept Trump at arm’s length, especially in the closing stretches of the general election campaign. Trump never campaigned in person with Youngkin, and the Republican gubernatorial candidate also hit out when a rally hosted by Trump allies purportedly used a flag from the rally that immediately preceded the Jan. 6 insurrection. Youngkin’s campaign commercials portrayed him as an affable family man who was tonally far removed from Trump’s belligerence — even if he did favor some of the same policies. Youngkin is the first GOP candidate to have real success with what might be termed a post-Trump strategy.”

“The Decisive Battle” [tinkzorg]. After a long description of Japanese naval doctrine: “Every sector of America’s ‘knowledge worker’ caste came together from the middle of 2020 up to the election and into its aftermath. Every single one. And it worked, in fact it worked perfectly…. The vote totals spoke for themselves, after all! In other words, the ‘woke’ really did it; they scored a perfect victory, just as the Japanese scored a perfect victory at Pearl Harbor…. It turns out that the liberal Kantai Kessen [decisive battle] suffered from the same fatal flaw as the Japanese one: it is all well and good to sink all the ships in Pearl Harbor, but what do you do if the enemy then refuses to concede defeat? The significance of ‘Let’s go Brandon!’ spreading like wildfire outside the jaded internet set in this context is that it reveals for everyone just how powerless the media machine has now become…. Maybe surrender isn’t coming at all, ever. The ‘decisive battle’ that was the 2020 election was indeed decisive enough, but it increasingly looks like that simply doesn’t matter…. [J]ust like the Japanese in WW2, the ’email job caste’ of America has a war machine that has already been maxed out. There are no reserves of fence-sitting journalists that can be drafted to fill in the holes and somehow make the message control more far-reaching or effective than it already is. There are no huge reservoirs of apolitical, unwoke university professors that can be drafted into talking some more sense into the chuds. What we all saw in 2020 represents, to some fairly significant extent, the full scope of the political, social and economic power of team blue in America today. And that team took its best shot in 2020, only to find out in 2021 that all that power has now decisively failed to settle any issues or end any conflicts in America. Team red is still there, and like the ‘sleeping giant’ that was America in 1941, they are now slowly waking up and starting to use their own power, on their own terms, in order to fight back.” • Interesting trope, although unserious about the notion of “caste” (and class). Example of not getting it:

The “blue” BMW logo is extremely tasteful!

* * *

“Poll shows Democrats want to replace Biden on the ballot in 2024. A look at why.” [WaPo]. “Biden’s average approval rating stands at about 43 percent, which is a number Donald Trump didn’t reach for the vast majority of his presidency. George W. Bush spent most of his second term below 40 percent, and Barack Obama was in the 40s for most of his tenure. That said, however much Biden remains politically viable, there is often a difference between approval and a belief that the politician is the best option. And a poll from Marist College shows a significant disconnect on that front when it comes to Biden and the Democratic Party. The NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll shows Democrats approve of Biden 85 percent to 10 percent — the kind of partisan loyalty we’ve come to expect from such polls, even when a president’s fortunes are down. But the poll also asked a telling question about just how much Democrats would like to see Biden run again in 2024. When asked whether ‘Democrats have a better chance of winning the presidency in 2024 if Joe Biden is the party’s nominee, or if someone else is the party’s nominee,’ Democrats are split 41 percent to 41 percent.” • But who exactly do they nominate? Harris? Really? Anybody who ran in 2020?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Stunning survey gives grim view of flourishing anti-democratic opinions” [The Hill]. “The rising acceptance of political violence is playing out in courtrooms in Washington and across the country as rioters from the Jan. 6 insurrection face charges and, increasingly, prison sentences for their roles in the mayhem. One man who plotted to kidnap Michigan’s governor was sentenced to six years in jail in August.” • But the Michigan kidnapping plot would never have happened without FBI agent provocateurs. IIRC, Czarist minister Stolypin was assassinated by an Ohkrana informer, though not, I think, on their orders…

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Factory Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for US manufactured goods inched up 0.2% September of 2021, following a downwardly revised 1.0% rise in August and beating market forecasts of a flat reading. Orders rose the most for machinery(1.2%), namely photographic equipment (7.7%) and industrial machinery (7.2%); non-durable goods industries (0.8%); fabricated metal products (0.7%); and primary metals (0.7%), notably ferrous metal foundries (4.7%). On the other hand, the steepest drop was seen in orders for transport equipment (-2.3%), weighed down mostly by nondefense aircraft and parts (-27.9%).”

Services: “United States Services PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The IHS Markit US Services PMI was revised higher to 58.7 in October of 2021 from a preliminary of 58.2. The latest expansion was sharp overall and the quickest since July. The upturn was faster than the series average, with firms linking the increase to greater client demand and a further rise in new business. The rise in output was the quickest for three months and was supported by a stronger expansion in new business. In line with greater new order inflows, firms signalled the fastest increase in backlogs of work since data collection began in October 2009, despite a faster pace of job creation. Nonetheless, concerns regarding labor shortages and unstable supply chains led business confidence to drop to an eight-month low.”

Services: “United States ISM Non Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Services PMI jumped to a record high of 66.7 in October of 2021 from 61.9 in September, beating market forecasts of 62. It is the 4th time this year the services sector grows at a record pace, amid strong demand ‘which shows no signs of slowing although ongoing challenges including supply chain disruptions and shortages of labor and materials are constraining capacity and impacting overall business conditions’, Anthony Nieves, Chair of the ISM said.”

* * *

“Supply Chain Crisis Risks Taking the Global Economy Down With It’ [Bloomberg]. “New indicators developed by Bloomberg Economics underscore the extremity of the problem, the world’s failure to find a quick fix, and how in some regions the Big Crunch of 2021 is still getting worse…. Behind the logjams lies a mix of overloaded transportation networks, shortages of labor at key chokepoints, and demand in the U.S. that’s been bolstered by pandemic stimulus and focused more on goods than services…. Pulling all these pieces together, the Bloomberg Economics supply indexes show shortages just off a 20-year high in the U.S. Gauges for the U.K. and euro area are at a similarly elevated level.” • Handy graphic:

More: “What comes next is uncharted territory partly because of the sheer number of bottlenecks along the route from assembly lines to shopping baskets. As one supplier waits for another to deliver, the delays are feeding on each other…. The more than 70 ships anchored off Los Angeles, for example, are loaded with enough 20-foot containers full of goods to stretch from Southern California to Chicago if laid end to end. And even when those vessels get to dock, their payloads will only slam into the thousands already stuck in the ports waiting for a ride inland. That will require more truckers and trailers in the short run. A longer-term fix means getting Covid-19 under control, building new infrastructure such as more efficient ports, and improving technology for digital transactions and faster communication.” • ”Longer-term” is in a couple decades?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 79 Greed (previous close: 78 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 63 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 3 at 12:26pm.

The Biosphere

“I Garden. Therefore, I (Learned How to) Preserve My Own Foods.” [Texas Monthly]. “A few days after my successful foray into pressure canning, my same thoughtful neighbors invited me over for dinner in their backyard. We talked about our gardens, and I left them with a jar of tomato sauce. It reminded me of something [pressure canning expert Angi Schneider] had told me: “I think that pressure canning helps me be a better person and community member.” She shared jars with neighbors in need in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, and enjoys knowing that she can crack several open whenever her childrens’ friends want to stay for dinner. “The goal is not to have a pantry full of home-canned jars. The goal is to make your life easier or more hospitable in some way. ” With a baby (and fall tomatoes) on the way, and a queue of family members eager to stay with us while meeting him around the holidays, I’m looking forward to the rewards of this new hobby.”

The 420

Department of Feline Felicity

Danger! Danger!

Zeitgeist Watch

“You Can Still Say ‘Woman’ But you shouldn’t stop there.” [New York Magazine]. “It may be harder to reconcile trans recognition with feminist analyses of reproduction, but it is entirely possible — indeed, such recognitions enlarge rather than take away from them. These arguments are being puzzled out by scholars and advocates and are already coming before courts in various forms. Contrary to the claim that trans inclusion erases feminists like Ginsburg’s work on gender equality, they actually build on that intellectual and legal history, acknowledging the misogyny and denial of bodily autonomy at the heart of these laws. As an amicus brief in the Mississippi abortion case written by scholars of the Equal Protection Clause puts it, what’s at stake with forced pregnancy is “an individual’s right to be free from state imposition of traditional gender roles.” The word woman is all over these arguments. The question is when, how, and where more is needed.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Tema Okun’s “White Supremacy Culture” work is bad” [Matt Ylgesias, Slow Boring]. “I’m talking about ‘The Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture‘ by Tema Okun, which I first heard of this year from the leader of a progressive nonprofit group whose mission I strongly support. He told me that some people on the staff had started wielding this document in internal disputes and it was causing big headaches. Once I had that on my radar, I heard about it from a couple of other nonprofit workers. And I saw it come up at the Parent Teacher Association for my kid’s school. It’s an excerpt from a longer book called Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups that was developed as a tool for Okun’s consulting and training gigs. But today, even though it’s not what I would call a particularly intellectually influential work in highbrow circles — even ones that are very ‘woke’ or left-wing — it does seem to be incredibly widely circulated. You see it everywhere from the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence to the Sierra Club of Wisconsin to an organization of West Coast Quakers. Which is to say it’s sloshing around quite broadly in progressive circles even though I’ve never heard a major writer, scholar, or political leader praise or recommend it. And to put it bluntly, it’s really dumb. In my more conspiratorial moments, I wonder if it’s not a psyop devised by some modern-day version of COINTELPRO to try to destroy progressive politics in the United States by making it impossible to run effective organizations. Even if not, I think the document is worth discussing on its own terms because it is broadly influential enough that if everyone actually agrees with me that it’s bad, we should stop citing it and object when other people do.” • See also the incredibly sloppy and bad “Advancing Health Equity: A Guide to Language, Narrative, and Concepts” from the American Medical Association (!!) in Monday’s Water Cooler.

News of the Wired

“Skyscrapers-on-sea: Benidorm, an oasis of Modernist design” [Financial Times]. “Europe’s ground zero [for Modernism] was Benidorm, Spain. On more solid terrain than Miami and with a long history of habitation as a fishing village, it became a remarkable experiment in creating a vertical city on the sea. Without Benidorm, perhaps there would be no Dubai — another city founded on the sand and forged through its skyline. Benidorm has the most high-rises per capita of any town in the world. But the holiday resort is also almost universally derided as a mass-market metropolis aimed at boozy British crowds, a neon-lit strip advertising fish and chips, jelly shots and sangria pitchers…. The density of this high-rise resort means elevations are as critical as the layout of the streets. It is rich, complex and colourful. Almost all buildings feature grids of balconies that give them texture, reinforced by bright awnings. Although many are now non-functional or shabby, the interplay of lowered, half-lowered and raised fabrics gives a wonderful, varied richness to the towers in striking palettes; canary yellows, tree-canopy greens and so on.” • Some lovely photos, too.

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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 (RH):

RH: “Lichens in Maine.”

* * *

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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. Arizona Slim

    R-r-ring! It’s the Water Cooler alarm!

    Time to awaken and start talking amongst ourselves!

  2. Samuel Conner

    Thanks for the “food preservation link”. Just today I was musing on the possibility of setting up a minimalist solar array/battery/inverter arrangement that would allow me to cook, sterilize water (important), and can using a programmable pressure cooker. I have an instant pot that cooks 2 quarts of food with less than 1 KWh energy consumption. As most of the energy is used bringing it up to pressure/temp (steady-state power consumption at cooking temp is below 1 W), I think it would not use much more for canning or for multi-hour sterilize programs.

    1. grayslady

      For the sake of safety, I hope you are planning on using a pressure canner, not a pressure cooker. Pressure cookers are not designed for canning.

      1. Samuel Conner

        Thanks for the cautionary warning. The IP I’m using has a “canning” program, so this is not simply a DIY kludge, but I’ll research thoroughly before relying on it. For the time being, I’m freezing surplus, though that’s obviously not a great solution if power becomes intermittent.

    2. Nickels

      Better yet, a row of deep cycle car batteries and solar panels that feed 12V directly to them without an inverter, then 12volt LED lights replacing all the 120V ones in house.
      Stay connected to the grid but only for appliances.
      My cousin did this with no building permits and no messing with his utility connection and has reduced electrical bill by 80%.

      Now that Newsom’s PG&E has pushed through the bullshit anti-net metering law, that’s the way to do it.

      1. Gregorio

        Easy to do with modern inverters. You can run your grid power into them, and program them to only switch to grid power when the battery reaches a preset state of charge. No permission from the power company necessary. I’ve been running our house this way for 15 years, and our power bill averages about $10 a month.

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      prolly simpler and cheaper to do it over a fire.
      but i tend towards as low tech and/or simple as possible.
      i canned one batch of tomato sauce just for proof of concept, in 2020.
      more difficult, as far as cleanliness, that in the kitchen, of course(it’s outside)…but it was still pretty easy. Hardest(rather, most OCD inducing) part was sterilising the jars and lids…had to rig up a little stainless topped table for right by the fire, and be mindful of things floating on the breeze.
      No power grid required.
      (caveat: i am well used to cooking over open fires…lots of cast iron in my bar…from flat top griddles to a 30 qt dutch oven.)

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      If one had a very insulated box-like container-thing big enough to comfortably put the instant pot into once it had reached its desired pressure and temperature, and then had a very insulated lid to put down very tightly over the very insulated box-thing with the instant pot in it . . . . how long and well would the food inside the instant pot which itself was inside the insulated heat-trap continue to cook on its own trapped passive heat?

      Aprovecho Design Institute offers a little post with the most primitive possible approach to making a ” haybox” to do what I have described.

      Here is a whole bunch of images for “haybox”. Each one has an URL. Some of those URLs could lead back to some very informative sites.

      Many years ago I made myself a heat-trapper box big enough to put a pot full of something in it. I would bring the pot to a boil and let it boil for a minute or two so that every object in the water was at the temperature of boiling water. They I would put it in the heat trapper box and cover it all up with the heat trapper cover and walk away. After a few hours, the contents were all the way cooked and still too hot to comfortably touch.

  3. NotTimothyGeithner

    Any account of the Virginia election needs to explain this uniformity.

    Report cards came out. Virginia schools are a mess a right now with no leadership. Parents just received real report cards for the first time since the start of Covid. The delivery lines up with Youngkin’s rise.

    My local school board had a meeting going over the various assessments. The school administration response was “wow, we are shocked.” A school board member, not a Republican, said “we are failing our young people”. This was like three weeks ago, and they are learning virtual was a mess. Teachers are overwhelmed.

    Schools like potholes no one fixes are a daily occurrence. Its not an “ugh, what schedule is that?” on April 15th. The swing from parents of K-12 was huge. They likely were Republicans in Presidential years and were organized into voting, but Youngkin wasn’t hitting that education line by accident. Its not the DMV where you go once every couple of years. Who cares about the DMV?

    Non-college educated people where the GOP did well in aren’t sending their kids to college or can hire tutors to make up what is happening. Republicans are what they are. If you’ve made up your mind, Youngkin won’t change your mind, but if you really only vote Republican in Presidential years, he might get you out if you are angry.

      1. Arizona Slim

        John Taylor Gatto made the same point in his book, The Underground History of American Education.

        Short take: The golden age of American education has never existed.

        1. TBellT

          The golden age of American education has never existed.

          Interesting to think what else this could be applied to, certainly healthcare for instance.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        They aren’t college educated. So…insulting aside, Virginia schools were out the longest, and it sounds like individual teachers were in charge. We aren’t talking about being a dunce in the class as much as kids who were adequate being in spaces where they can’t do anything but fail. That is an issue, and those report cards went out.

        1. TBellT

          You don’t need to be college educated to have critical thinking skills. In some cases it may actually help not to be.

          Aside, this doesn’t explain how Youngkin convinced them he was going to fix it. Did the overwhelmed teachers really tell people this would get better with Youngkin?

          1. flora

            Did Youngkin convince people he was going to fix it, or did tone-deaf McAuliffe convince people he wouldn’t do anything to fix it? Monday, I watched a Tucker Carlson snippet about the Va. race. (I know, but he does often manage to capture the zeitgeist on many issues better than the other MSM presenters, imo.) In that snippet Carlson mopped the floor with McAuliffe, hammering on his many missteps wrt the education issues. It was brutal.

            1. jimmy cc


              younkin was an outsider, mac wasn’t.

              if you want change, who would you think aill bring it? the dem establishment or a repub outsider?

              1. TBellT

                Actually I wouldn’t count on either because history is littered with examples of “outsiders” who did jack when securing power. I’d also question the true outsider status of someone whose campaign was well funded and is a millionaire.

                1. jimmy cc

                  i guess most voters just aren’t as intellectually as brilliant as you are.

                  maybe more empathy and less intellect would further your understanding as to why people vote for who they do.

                  1. TBellT

                    What does this have to do with intellect/brilliance?

                    Americans have been voting for the lesser of two evils for decades and where has it gotten them? Are you actually telling me this time it will be different?

                    1. jimmy cc

                      what i am actually telling you is: if you want to understand why someone acts like they do, try to empathize with them.

                      especially when you find their actions irrational

            2. NotTimothyGeithner

              He likely convinced presidential only voting Republicans he was going to fix it. They weren’t non voters or Northam/Biden voters.

              The anecdote about the “Biden voter” who was embracing Youngkin was a friend of every Trump lackey.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            The democrats offered up “Trump” . Youngkin offered up education promises such as the largest budget (a promise everyone achieves) and paying teachers more.

            What else do you need? We know parents of school age kids and non college educated women were the breakout groups. They likely had overlap, and they likely had rude awakenings. Virginia had the kids out the longest, and Team Blue hasn’t offered a path forward. It may sound trite, but Youngkin would sound like he’s offering solutions to Trump/presidential voters who would otherwise stay home.

            1. TBellT

              Youngkin offered up education promises such as the largest budget (a promise everyone achieves) and paying teachers more.

              Both candidates promised that. Why would you trust one to achieve it more than the other?

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                You are having a hard time with this. Not every person votes in every election, even partisans. Youngkin convinced Trump, Romney voters who don’t vote in off year elections to vote in this one. They weren’t going to vote Democratic. They did not vote for Biden. This explains why its uniform across the state.

                The education promises in light of the current crisis and the absence of leadership motivated them to get off the couch and vote in an election they don’t usually vote in. We also know the growth was in parents of K-12, hence the most likely thing to get them to vote when they don’t normally is the phony education promises. Yes, they likely think Democrats are baby killers, but it doesn’t always get them to vote.

                Tim Kaine did this in 2005 when he promised universal pre-k on the Team Blue side of the electorate. Still waiting on it.

                1. TBellT

                  I’m sorry if I’m having trouble and am misreading your argument. Though I feel comforted that I’m not the only one. Multiple commenters have misframed this as a swing voter argument.

                  And if I’m reading it correctly its a turnout argument. Someone who believes Dems are baby killers was not going to vote for McAuliffe and probably never did before. It’s backlash while the partisans of the party in power get complacent or disaffected, as witnessed in 2017. None of that bodes well for our politics.

                  1. NotTimothyGeithner

                    Terry Mac who largely inures Youngkin from all kinds of attacks, no ground game, openly insulting voters, not having any kind of message. A loss of 70,000 votes is bad because of the offices flipped, but I don’t think it tells much. The GOP activated a bunch of these people just last year, and Team Blue stomped them with Biden, no ground game, and not much of a message.

                    Don’t put Clintonistas in charge of political campaigns, and problems go away.

              2. c_heale

                As a non-American, imo it’s because they had experience of McAuliffe not living up to his promises. If you vote for someone and they haven’t done things important to you they said they would, and also not campaigned on doing such things, of course you are going to consider the alternative. Not doing so would be dumb.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        Did it? I learned to read and write at school, not at home. I learned arithmetic and some algebra and geometry at school, not at home. Same for science, history, etc.

        Phys Ed sucked. A lot of my fellow kids sucked as people. But I don’t remember the non-sucky parts of my public school education sucking.

        By the way, we learned reading mostly by learning the alphabet, then phonics, phonetics, etc. Some look-and-say Dick-and-Jane but not a whole lot, and that was not the only thing in reading.
        So were were not taught how to not-read and how to hate reading. We were not victims of America’s later-instituted War On Reading. That happened after I had left elementary school.

        1. ambrit

          Curious that. I learned to read and write at home. I had a Dad who read to me every night, encouraged me to read along with him, and didn’t use shame as a motivational tool. We tried to carry that method forward with our children, who we home schooled. Our children have done fairly well. One is an RN, another is working on her teaching degree, and the third is a “small craftsman, entrepreneur.” All have done well financially, which is all that counts in America, right?
          As for the aforementioned “War on Reading;” this must have become a pedagogical staple after we left school. I remember the Great Books program which, for me, started in the sixth grade. I remember being upbraided for not analyzing a subject in an essay enough.
          Our daughter, who is doing the teaching degree coursework at home after work, mentions that “Teach to the Test” is still a big impediment to truly educating the children in the classes she “assists” in.
          The culture in America has changed from our days in school. Mammon now has a strong grip on the reins of power, and is making his wants manifest.

    1. TroyIA

      The Democratic Unraveling Began With Schools

      If Democrats think that it is just a bunch of white parents upset with schools about critical race theory then they better start doing some research to find out to find out why Asian and Black families are abandoning public schools.

      Home schooling exploded among Black, Asian and Latino students. But it wasn’t just the pandemic.

      The percentage of children in home schooling has nearly tripled since mid-2019. By May of this year, the U.S. Census Bureau found more than 1 out of every 12 students were being home-schooled.
      Even more remarkable are where those gains came from: Even though home schooling has often been considered the domain of religious White families, the most significant increases were seen among Black, Latino and Asian households.
      Between 2019 and May 2021, home-schooling rates jumped from about 1 percent to 8 percent for Black students — a more than sixfold increase. Among Hispanic students, rates jumped from 2 percent to 9 percent. The increase was less dramatic for White families, where home schooling doubled from 4 percent to 8 percent over the same time period. Between 2016, the year of the most recently available data for Asian American families, and May, home-schooling rates went from 1 percent to 5 percent.

      1. c_heale

        Black, Asian, and Latino families are often very religious. And quite a lot are are right wing politically. I think the author is thinking about ethnic groups and not about religion and political views.

      2. GramSci

        Factory schools were the appropriate schooling system when moms were needed to work in mills and factories.  John Taylor Gatto (and Herbert Kohl and Jonathan Kozol, in their own way, made the clear a generation earlier).

        It’s a gig economy now. Robots have significantly replaced workers. The elder kids need to stay at home with a smartphone link to mom and dad and mind the young ‘uns while mom and dad wait on their masters’ tables.

        The servants voted for Youngkin out of self-interest. They cling to their guns and their religion.

    2. Blue Duck

      Report cards came out. Virginia schools are a mess a right now with no leadership. Parents just received real report cards for the first time since the start of Covid. The delivery lines up with Youngkin’s rise.

      Can anyone ELI5 the report cards? Or provide a link?

  4. Carolinian

    I know this isn’t a sports blog but feel I should mention that a certain team from my former place of residence won the World Series last night.

    There is a political angle because when the baseball commissioner presented the trophy to the team the lingering Braves fans in Houston could be heard booing him. This year he took the All Star Game away from Atlanta to punish the new Georgia voting law,.

    1. griffen

      All fans of the Hammer, Hank Aaron, should be happy. Freddie Freeman has endured a long time with the Braves. He overcame a difficult time in 2020.

      Though not a resident ever of the ATL, family has been there since mid-1980s. Very happy for the baseball team.

    2. PKMKII

      Manfred got boo’d last year as well at the World Series trophy presentation (“piece of metal” as he calls it), so the hatred goes beyond the ASG location controversy. The man just shows an absolute disdain for the game, and as he was selected from the “labor relations” side of MLB, it’s obvious he’s there in order to turn the screws on the players during the upcoming collective bargaining agreement (non-zero possibility that the start of next season will be strike delayed).

  5. Lou Anton

    >Any account of the Virginia election needs to explain this uniformity [in the VA shift to Youngkin].

    Undata-supported hypothesis: it’s okay to vote Republican again b/c Trump is gone. Those who were/are pro-Trump voted Republican, and the 2020-antis (who may have been 2016 pro-trumps, IDK) felt fine swinging back to Republicans because the stigma is gone.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Trump had more votes than Younkin. And non college educated votes tend to drop off in off years. So that tells me, signs don’t vote. Those were just the GOP voters in blue areas putting up signs. The retention of the non college educated white women across the state is the story. They likely voted for Trump. Terry did not show weakness relative to Northam.

      1. Lou Anton

        I think it’s probably a better comp to do turnout vs. prior governor election than presidential election 2020. At any rate, I think we’re singing from the same hymnal. You’ve better identified the swing voter group.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          But Trump wasn’t on the ballot in 2013 or anywhere. 2013 wasn’t too far off from 2017. The uniform results at county levels and Terry not underperforming Northam means there are no swing voters. We do need to understand who voted for Youngkin, relative to three coasting victories for Team Blue.

  6. pjay

    Ylgesias on Tema Okun’s “White Supremacy Culture”: “In my more conspiratorial moments, I wonder if it’s not a psyop devised by some modern-day version of COINTELPRO to try to destroy progressive politics in the United States by making it impossible to run effective organizations.

    This thought has often crossed my mind over the last several years. It’s Psyops 101: infiltrate a legitimate movement for progressive change, act as agent provocateur for its most extreme and/or unpopular elements, and then push these as representative of the whole until they become what most people think of when they hear “the left,” “feminism,” “critical race theory,” etc.

    Unfortunately, because of a lifetime in academia I know most of these people are for real. That doesn’t make it any better.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Back in the 1990’s, I had a drinking game with some lefties in the UK, where we would name those prominent leftists that we were sure were MI5 plants intended to destroy the left. There were no end to possible candidates, usually of the Socialist Worker or Guardian feminista types. We were joking of course, but now I think we had hit on a few truths illuminated by too many pints of real ale.

      1. c_heale

        The current policies of Extinction Rebellion in blocking roads over the issue of insulating buildings seems to be designed to delegitimise the group. Either it’s MI5 or the organisers are just stupid. I also met someone at a meeting of Greens, who I now think was an MI5 plant when I was a student. He was advocating extremely aggressive actions. He left early and the rest of us said he seemed strange.

      2. GramSci

        I frequently have the same reaction to WSWS. Per the rules of strict, catechetical argumentation, it’s hard to refute their positions. But the unwillingness to compromise seems too easy to pass as virtue.

  7. Samuel Conner

    Plantidote shows as a link, but no image is displayed on the page (Edge browser, Win10 OS).

      1. Josef K

        That is a lovely patch of lichen; the bushy white ones are particularly comely.

        I learned at one point that lichen are extremely sensitive to air quality, so that their proliferation signals very clean air.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          yep. they live on air, like bromeliads.
          they and mosses(only on north sides of trees and rocks) and frogs are all indicator species for monitoring local environmental health..
          I monitor all these regularly on my place…and environs(couple of seasonal seeps and springs within my valley that blossom with critters intermittently, as well as the shallow cave on the mountain(a big hill), and the entire north horn of the mountain, full of hollows and moss covered in this dry country.)
          harder to see, but also a pretty good indicator of environmental health, are springtails

    1. ambrit

      It showed up on my Win 8 OS as a video file.
      This being from New Orleans, it perfectly encapsulates the N’Awlins Tradition; “They only come out at night.”
      Been there. Done that. Lived to tell the tale.

  8. PlutoniumKun

    “The Decisive Battle” [tinkzorg]

    I do love a good military history analogy, and this one is a doozy. For those of us who have read up many times in wonderment at the simultaneous tactical genius and strategic idiocy of the Japanese military establishment in the 1930’s/40’s, there are very clear alignments with how mainstream liberalism in the US is walking into its own destruction. You could argue the analogy further and point out that there was a huge opportunity a mere 2 years ago for the Democrats to embrace a form of Sanders-lite populism to encircle Republicans, just as the Japanese briefly had the opportunity to do a deal with the Chinese KMT that could have avoided a war with the US and led to their dominance of East Asia. But nope, too stupid even for that.

    1. Carolinian

      Putin just gave a speech at Valdai where he compared the West’s wokester world to the Bolsheviks. Been there done that said Putin.

      I think he was saying that Christianity–his belief system–at least promotes ethical ideas that are socially beneficial rather than divisive although history does offer a mixed report. But it seems hard to disagree that the Dems at least have gone for divide and conquer on a cultural basis. The Repubs were all in for this too but have mellowed out a bit. Yesterday my town elected a black mayor and it wasn’t close.

    2. David

      I enjoyed the article, but I thought his history was a bit shaky. I don’t have my books on the period to hand but my recollection is that the Decisive Battle was originally conceived of as a battle of attrition against the US fleet as it sailed towards the Home Islands. It was only when Roosevelt moved the fleet from San Diego to Pearl Harbour, and the Japanese developed a new torpedo fusing mechanism, that the possibility of a first strike even became real. And for all that, it was intended as a short term preemptive strike to allow the Japanese to overrun the oilfields. It was adopted not because it was likely to be successful in the long term, but because it was the less bad of two bad options, the other being surrender.

      But more pertinently, perhaps, what was interesting was the military’s total grip on foreign policy during that period, their unwillingness to learn from mistakes, their unwillingness to share power and their vicious factional infighting. Those who know more than I do about US politics may find possible equivalences.

    3. Big River Bandido

      Interesting comparison. But maybe “stupidity” isn’t quite fair. There was an odd cult of dogma among the Japanese Navy.

      Like them, American liberals worship the One True Faith. I’m not sure who would be the analogous figure to Alfred Thayer Mahan. Perhaps in dystopian societies where ideas and substance have become meaningless, there are no true prophets anymore.

    4. Bazarov

      I would add that 2020 was no “decisive” victory analogous to Pearl Harbor for the woke-liberal-PMC-cultural-complex. Trump lost rather narrowly, and the real decisive factor was probably covid, not cultural or media power.

      Also take note of the “victory” here: the Democrats *lost* seats in the House, and their control of the Senate depends entirely on a couple mercenary flakes.

      So Trump’s not “refusing to surrender” here. 2020 was a skirmish, a fluke. If anything, it revealed the weakness of the woke-liberal-PMC-cultural-complex. If the Democrats go with one of their scions for 2024–Buttchug or Copmala–they’ll almost certainly lose to Trump, probably in much more “decisive” fashion than Trump lost to them.

    5. The Rev Kev

      The Japanese had a military philosophy of when facing two opponents, slash one first to weaken them and then face the second opponent When that one has been defeated, then they turn to the first to finish them off. So they did a raid on Pearl to put them out of action, then went after their other opponent(s) in the Pacific to seize those oil fields, then were going to go back and finish off the US Navy.

      Well, it didn’t work out that way. That Pearl Harbour raid wasn’t perfect. There was supposed to be a third wave to go after the oil farms as well as the maintenance & repair facilities. But the Japanese commander lost his nerve and cancelled that third wave. The result was that repair on those ships started immediately and the oil fueled not only the submarine fleet but the carrier task force that returned to Pearl after the attack. And of course after Pearl, the US Navy was out for blood.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        Yes, Daniel Yergin popularized the idea that hitting the oil tanks in a third strike would have forced the Fleet back to San Diego for a year.

        But other analysis casts doubt on that assertion. Quite simply, heavy naval bunker fuel isn’t avgas; it doesn’t go up in an obliging ‘WHOOMPH’ like in the movies, even if the tank is hit with a high explosive bomb. Such fuel flung into open air actually tends to smother fires. It burns, sure, but it really needs to be set alight from the ground.

        The Japanese Vals lacked the special incendiary devices or fuzing that would have been needed to set large volumes of such fuel alight and even so it would have been tough to pull off. They could certainly have damaged the infra, but not destroyed the fuel stocks in one raid, or even two.

        The USAAF required numerous raids to permanently damage refinery output at Ploesti, and the key item turned out to be the rail infra. The Palembang and Balikpapan raids of 1944 required weeks to shut down production, with total air superiority (of course by then the Japanese tanker tonnage was already largely sunk).

        …Also, by then Genda’s pilots would have faced a fully alerted and hopping mad US air defense.

    6. drumlin woodchuckles

      Not too stupid. Too evil. Too upper-class secret agent.

      Their goal was to prevent that from happening. And they were very “smart” in the pursuit and achievement of that goal. They bought their owners and patrons several more years to a couple more decades of happy looting.

  9. Drake

    “Ask not what you can do for your party, but what your party has done for you”

    Negotiating lower prescription drugs won’t start until 2025 — and will only include 11 drugs

    Tax cuts for wealthy homeowners starts immediately — and is retroactive.
    No campaign finance reform

    No Medicare For All

    Pedestalization of mediocrities like Kamala Harris, offering the voters a
    “forced deck”-think Manchurian Candidate-of race card hustlers.

    No Wall Street prosecutions

    No abolishing ice
    No closing child cages

    No repealing The Patriot Act
    No repeal of NDAA, allowing killing of American citizens
    No end to droning civilians

    No real climate action

    No paid family leave
    No student debt relief

    No minimum wage hike

    Nota bene when the solicitations arrive.
    Let the billionaires and corporations fund them.

    1. notabanker

      Sounds to me like they are firing on all cylinders. You just have the wrong definition of “you”.

  10. Lambert Strether Post author

    Patient readers, there are a number of UPDATEs on yesterday’s truly fascinating election in Virginia.

    What strikes me is that if there are hot takes on “the economy” as a cause of uniform Democrat erosion, I haven’t seen them. What does seem uniform and important is Covid + education (the Loudon incident is the cherry on the sundae, but not a driver), and Biden’s weakness. The former would increase turnout for “change”; the latter would depress turnout for “more of the same.”

    Please feel free to expound on this election, especially Virginia voters, especially with telling anecdotes and data.

    I will have more tomorrow, as the cooler takes begin to appear.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Biden’s weakness? Oh, brother. Does that remind me of a story from the Arizona Slim file.

      This past weekend, I was picking up mail from my post office box. Near the post office, I saw THE car. It’s sort of like Tucson’s answer to the “Love Me I’m A Liberal” house with all the yard signs. Fellow NC-er petal made frequent references to that house during the 2020 election.

      Any-hoo, back to Tucson and Slim’s spotting of THE car. It’s one of those cute little cars — I think it’s a Mini, but I’m not sure.

      Up until very recently, said car had a “Ridin’ with Biden” sticker on the back. I used to enjoy pedaling past it while saying, “I’m ridin’ with Stealth Mode!”

      Well, what did I see whilst riding my bike, Stealth Mode, this past weekend? No Biden sticker! It had been removed from the back of that car.

      This car is parked in a very PMC neighborhood, and during last year’s election cycle, it was a sea of Biden/Harris and Mark Kelly signs. Not now. Most of those signs are long gone.

        1. Arizona Slim

          I live in a historically black neighborhood. Very few BLM signs. Go a couple miles east of here, and you’ll be in PMC territory. All sorts of BLM signs over there.

  11. orlbucfan

    What is the update on the New Jersey gubernatorial election? Virginia was no surprise to any informed citizen with half a functioning brain.

    1. Stev_Rev

      Murphy should win, but it will be close. The surprise is that the president of the state Senate is going to lose to someone who didn’t even campaign. A revolt against the elites?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        A revolt against the elites?

        By voting for the CEO of the Carlysle Group? No. At least in VA, besides the specific Virginia stuff, I think its clear the GOP organized the Trump voters. That the secret of non-Presidential years. Getting more of your voters to vote than the other guy gets of their voters. Terry Mac was functionally fine with a replicating low energy campaigns combined with population growth outcome. His numbers reflect that.

        I was at UVA a few times this fall and walked around Grounds, and I didn’t see the UDems doing registration. I didn’t see anyone registering at the community market I go to. I missed some weekends, but thats weird. I even signed an environmental and gun control petitions over the Summer, but the local Dems weren’t registering.

        Its overlooked but places like New York have millions of Trump voters. Its not like three or four cranks, so if you don’t take care of business, they can win races when its not the be all and end all like a Presidential year.

    2. Huey Long

      Jersey Boy here:

      Still too close to call and likely headed for a re-count. Pollsters had Murph up 5-10 points over Jack, nobody saw this race being close never mind Gore-Bush Florida close.

      Even more shocking, it appears as if Steve Sweeney of the South Jersey Democratic Norcross machine and sitting senate president just got KO’d by a 58 year old trucker who has never held elected office before.

  12. CuriosityConcern

    California up and down, but suddenly. A data problem?

    To me, for CA, i notice a large one day blip up is preceeded by a large one day blip down. Looks like one other state had a similar pattern. I would guess a reporting delay?

  13. PlutoniumKun

    Skyscrapers-on-sea: Benidorm, an oasis of Modernist design” [Financial Times].

    Interesting, although I can’t help wondering if this article is a bit of a plant from the Benidorm tourism authority – they’ve spent a lot of money over the past few years trying to persuade everyone that they’ve gone upmarket and gotten rid of the more embarrassing pink skinned tourists.

    It is true that even the free for all architecture of the tourism hotspots of Spain have a humanism and elegance that evades many other places – probably because of the dominance of pedestrians over cars (as much accidental as anything else, as they developed before Spain had the money to drive highways through those resorts). The basic grid pattern has also stopped the mass overcrowding of tall buildings that makes this type of resort unbearable in many other countries infected with cheap mass tourism. Spain also of course historically has long had a healthy respect for good design and architecture – and a number of laws that ensures that only registered architects can sign off a building, preventing too many contractor led designs that are the bane of so many other countries. Plus of course a climate that means that brutalist buildings don’t end up looking ugly and stained as they usually do elsewhere.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Someone should write lyrics for a song about imagining what a functional Senate might like.

      It could be titled “Imanchin”.

  14. jr

    Webster’s Dictionary has changed the definitions of vaccine and anti-vaxxer to suit Big Pharma. Max Blumenthal on Jimmy Dore discusses how the changes can be used to label anyone who critiques official COVID policy as a terrorist:


    1. Sawdust

      If these people are so smart, how come they keep going out of their way to damage their own credibility?

      1. jr

        I don’t think they are that smart. I think they think they are, that they are in control of things and that their games will cover their a$$es. I think it’s all going to fall apart.

  15. Amfortas the hippie

    just an observation, as i’m scrolling down, opening new tabs for to read for the next while:
    on the bloomberg port mess:
    …”A longer-term fix means getting Covid-19 under control, building new infrastructure such as more efficient ports, and improving technology for digital transactions and faster communication.”…”

    whenever i’ve read stories about the supply chain mess over the last…what? almost 2 years?…i’ve had “make things here again” running through my mind….just sort of automatically.
    funny how people at places like bloomberg who write about the globalisation constipation never seem to think about that…”build more ports!” and “expand the truck fleet” is the best they can do?

    related?:the team blue people i know out here(the one’s hysterical and zealous enough to admit it, at least) are as one on “re-shoring”(when i’ve had occasion to corner them in the feedstore in the last few months)…”but…but…all that pollution…remember silent spring and the burning rivers”.
    i don’t partake of tv news…and rarely read the paywalled WP, NYT, etc…has this been some kind of talking point of late?
    seems like a weird thing, that this is what they all say about rebuilding the manufacturing capability of the us.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Have you thought of saying “protectionism” back to the blue teamers who say ”but…but…all that pollution…remember silent spring and the burning rivers”.

      You could say: abolish Free Trade and restore Protectionism and then we can have zero tolerance for emissions from our own reshored industry because we can forbid the import of anything from any alien country which doesn’t have equal zero tolerance for emissions from industry.

      If they then complain about how that would make the things they buy “cost too much”, I suppose one can only paraphrase Benjamin Franklin . . . . ” Those who would exchange environment for a passing sense of affordable things deserve neither environment nor affordable things.”

      1. lance ringquist

        love the franklin quote. maybe biden should get the towering intellects like rick neuman of yahoo finance, and thomas friedman of the times to fix the mess that they helped contribute to.
        sounds like expanding the ports and hiring more drivers is right up their alley.
        then we can ask them whats more efficient for the american people and the environment, making something in chicago and shipping it to minneapolis, or making it in china and shipping it to chicago.
        then we can sit back and listen to the absurdities, contradictions and excuses.

    2. Mikel

      And I don’t think China is going to packing people into factories to work with concerns about an outbreak.
      Didn’t they send people there to the stores to stock up over new outbreak fears this week?

    3. The Rev Kev

      Shouldn’t be surprised to see Bloomberg say it is a matter of building more stuff or using more technology. A lot of the problems that I see seem to have a core problem of simply businesses being unwilling to pay workers decent wages or give them good working conditions. Some of those truck drivers at those ports, for example, were virtually working for free by lining up with their trucks while waiting for a load. There comes a point that they were waiting so long and not getting paid for it, that they gave up and got a job elsewhere.

  16. garden breads

    Lambert – Excess deaths ARE being updated. Last bar in the current graph now is week ending October 23rd which is expected given the reporting lag. The week ending October 9th you highlight is now up to 64,560 deaths not the 58,973 displayed above.

    Prevalence of the common coronavirus infections annually leaps from nearly zero at the beginning of November to a peak in January and then diminishing. Last year COVID-19 followed that pattern. It’s only now when we would expect first signs of the seasonal increase.

    Human coronavirus circulation in the United States 2014–2017, Journal of Clinical Virology
    Volume 101, April 2018, Pages 52-56

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yesterday’s material should not have appeared, but did because of an HTML glitch. So I zapped it. Sorry for the mechanical difficulties; I’ve been pressed temporally, and then came the Virginia election….

  17. lambert strether

    I forgot to say that the obvious lesson to draw from the McAuliffe debacle is that the upper echelons of the Democrat Party gerontocracy should be completely purged, and that includes their chosen successors.

    The Clintonites, the Obots, the California oligarchs, the strategists, the NGOs should all go. They all tried mightily to drag McAuliffe’s inanimate form across the finish line, and failed.

    Needless to say, this is unlikely to happen…

    1. Louis Fyne

      Throw in IDpol pundits who with a straight face will go on TV and say that a single white woman with 2 years of college, 2 kids and an insane health insurance contribution enjoys “white privilege.”

      While at the same channel, another “progressive” pundit lauds W Bush as a defender of democracy….conveniently also while his daughter is a full-time host on a network TV morning show.

      Dem and “progressive” strategists will keep on being Charlie Brown and missing that football as long as everything on their worldview is race-orientated and not class-related

    2. Pat

      The Clintonites, the Obots, the California oligarchs, the strategists and the NGOs can never fail Democracy/the DNC. Democracy and Democrats can only fail them. /s

      I thought I might see that correction in my lifetime, but Trump and Covid ripped that illusion from me.

  18. Terry Flynn

    Benidorm will signify a different problem very soon….. The retiring Brits living in a bubble who never properly got residency with Brexit. My mother loves that truly appalling C4 show “A place in the sun” and I’ve loved the social media people who pointed out the follow up will be “A place back in the rain” etc for those morons when they are ejected for not doing the paperwork.

    Schaudenfraude is a bit nasty but I admit I like it when deserved.

  19. mrsyk

    Those NBC exit poll numbers regarding white women voting patterns (unsurprisingly) don’t make sense unless there’s a category missing.

    1. Auntie

      The pattern can be easily explained when you realize that they are probably all Facebook addicted auntie vacksers, just like 95% of the mom’s at our son’s school.

  20. Sue inSoCal

    Now that’s the stuff of nightmares not to mention political suicide. Besides, she makes too much dough giving talks telling people how educated she is. Perhaps she and Monica (“no one will hire me, I want to be left alone to define myself by…”) L will find the proverbial large rock, get under.

  21. XXYY

    California up and down, but suddenly. A data problem?

    Try looking at the case counts without 7-day averaging turned on. That is, look at the raw data for each day. These “smooth” graphs are built on sand to some extent, and it’s easy to see why they are glitchy.

  22. PKMKII

    I notice the spike in California cases looks like an almost perfect inverse of the dip that occurred in mid/late October. Which says to me, someone didn’t report in their numbers then, and only got around to submitting them in November, thus inflating the one-day count.

    Marshall’s take on Biden’s impact on yesterday’s elections jives with my own observations on the process. It almost doesn’t matter what actually gets passed in the bills, if they do get passed, the narrative has already been set. The process is yet another example of Democrat ineptitude, infighting, and Biden looking weaker and less powerful than Manchin and Sinema. Which is to say, the party that sold itself on getting things done is completely incapable of getting things done.

    1. Hepativore

      The final insult is how Pramila Jayapal and the rest of the so-called “squad” just showed that it is their usual kayfabe and look like they are going to roll over and lose all leverage with corporate Democrats while losing all credibility in the eyes of the left base who put them there in the first place. The Congressional progressives have shown that they are basically the kids on the playground that are constantly being beaten up for their lunch money as they are easy targets as they will only grovel in response.

      So how many second chances can we give The Squad before we decide that they are permanently deserving of the popular “#fraudsquad” hashtag? Personally, if they fold on these bills instead of voting them down which is highly likely, AOC and the rest of the Squad should be considered beyond political redemption for their cowardice.

      I swear, the Democrats are like the Keystone Cops of politics. I think they are trying to lose control of the Whitehouse in 2022 and 2024.

  23. anonny

    More on Tara McGowan, half of the power couple in Matt Stoller’s tweet, getting funding from billionaires Reid Hoffman and George Soros for her Good Information, Inc, project to tackle the disinformation crisis by creating more useful propaganda.

    Into this crowded market comes Good Information, uniquely hampered from the start by its background. The creation of an anti-disinformation entity with such murky political ties—and, ironically, with funding from Soros, a central figure in a variety of unfounded right-wing conspiracy theories—is almost certainly not going to do anyone any good. It could even create future harm: more grist for the conspiracy mill, more uncertainty about which sources of information are good or accurate or worth trusting. On Twitter, McGowan sounded a sunny note, dismissing criticism of Good Information’s premise as “disinformation” in itself.


  24. shinola

    It appears that TDS has developed a long-term variant; get this from Richard C. Gross in today’s ‘Counterpunch’:

    “Times seem to be getting worse even as Biden strives determinedly to get his legacy-building agenda through his own party and Congress for those other than the country’s corporations and the top 10 percent of wealthy people.”

    The article is titled ‘Those Indecent Republicans’. The inability to distinguish between the lesser of 2 evils and the actually virtuous seems to be a symptom.

    1. shinola

      Oh, I forgot to add to the last sentence: …as well as a tendency towards hyperbole (as in inflating “riot” into “insurrection”)

    2. zagonostra

      Counterpunch used to be a frequently visited watering hole for me but like Jacobin, WSWS, and needless to say MSNBC,CNN,WaPo, NYT, Atlantic, Rolling Stones, etc…, they are all stale to me, worse they are transparently towing a dead ideology, either on the Right, implying everyone is Marxist or on the Left calling everyone a homophobe.

      Outside of NC and some independent news sites I’m not sure where to go to find good reporting. I like Greenwald and Taibbi, but since they are now on Substack and don’t have the institutional resources backing them up, I doubt they’ll be doing much breaking news.

      It reminds my of Ivan Illich observation that the more medical services available the sicker we become, the faster the means of transportation the more time we spend in traffic, the more Universities and colleges, the less educated we are as a nation, and most of all. the more news reporting outlets the less real news is available.

      1. Martin Oline

        Counterpunch. I remember the print edition. I wonder if they still do that? I was led there by Alexander Cockburn’s pieces in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, a newspaper that used to print a weekly back in the ’80’s. The New Settler Interviewer was also printed in Anderson Valley. That was a fertile region where Thomas Pynchon placed his Vineland book. Many thought he was penning the letters to the editor that were signed Wanda Tinasky back in the 1980’s. Fred Gardner put together a book of the letters and wrote Pynchon’s agent to inquire if he had written the letters. He denied them and Wanda was actually the pseudonym of a local writer who unfortunately died long ago.
        I looked up the AVA and found Bruce Anderson is still doing his thing online, probably a little slower but it looks as if he still has his wits about him. See theava.com

    3. Carolinian

      St.Clair bashes Biden regularly but he also publishes stuff that makes you wonder whether he even bothered to read it. These days the site seems to be trying to have it both ways: criticize the Dems while joining the Dems in blaming it all on Trump and the deplorables.

      But they do still have some good articles.

  25. BillS

    Re the Virginia election: I don’t see how the election of a semi-Trumpy GOP private equity vampire is going to be any help to the average Bubba Joe who lives in Virginia any more that the election of a PMC leech from the hopelessly corrupt Demorat party would help them. I see this as the endless cycle of the “sports championship” nature of tribal politics that in the end goes nowhere. I find it hard to get fired up about any election these days, because it does not matter who you vote for. All preparations have been made that ensures the money flow to the right people whatever the outcome..

    Sorry about that..I am having a bit of a cynical evening

  26. marym

    Paid leave: Matt Breunig just now

    “The Dem paid leave position went from having a $580/month minimum benefit for very low earners to replacing 85% of the wages of very low earners (which is not much money since 85% of very little is very little) to now explicitly excluding them from any benefit.

    The newly reinserted paid leave provision has been modified to include a brand new eligibility rule not contained in any prior version (highlighted part). This rule is targeted directly at the lowest earners in the workforce who are now explicitly excluded from eligibility.”

    1. Pat

      I can’t decide which is worse, this or the drug negotiation but. Both are bait and switch for the voters to make this turd look better. Both are insulting. I lean more toward the drug negotiation item because it is also a huge giveaway to Pharma. Both make me want to vomit or build a guillotine…or both.

  27. zagonostra

    You have figured out by now that “in the end it goes nowhere” is part of the system, it was designed to go, or rather not go anywhere? Warren Buffet pointed that there was(is} a class war and his side won(winning).

    Your cynicism was bought and paid for buy those who brought you the elections. Just like those programs you watch on tv were brought to you by the sponsors.

  28. Pat

    Regarding that zeitgeist item.

    My question is do transgender equality demands effect women born female negatively much more than men born male or am I missing something? Building on the progress women have made would be fine, but too much seems to undermine that, most particularly Title IX and women athletes who now find themselves competing with woman born with the huge advantage of having a male body.

    Or is it just me?

    1. GramSci

      I think the message is very simple: If you can’t afford to reproduce, don’t even think about it. Which is very “green”, from a certain perspective.

  29. marym

    NY Taxi Workers @NYTWA
    2 words: WE WON!!!!
    +3: THANK YOU NYC!!!!
    We have won a city-backed guarantee! Loans will be restructured to max $170K! No more debt beyond our lifetime. No more risk of losing homes. DRIVER POWER! UNION POWER! #EndCabbieDebt
    https://twitter.com/NYTWA/status/1455988973411737604 (thread)

    Victory!!! Debt relief plan includes a city backed guarantee and affordable monthly mortgages putting an end to 46 days of protest and 15 days of hunger strike.

  30. John

    Am I alone in thinking that trying to pass an enormous omnibus bill containing a number of items doubtful in the minds of disparate individuals and groups with the slimmest of margins in the House and no margin at all in the Senate is not at all wise? LBJ passed Civil Rights Bills and Medicare in the 1960s; he had a huge majority. FDR did the same in the 1930s with a huge majority. Did no one notice the “huge majority” part of the political equation?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      No, centrists make that argument all the time. They made the argument in 2009 with huge majorities. The real problem is Biden and the leadership are the same clowns from 2009 and people have learned about reconciliation and the farce of the filibuster in the mean time.

      The issue is Biden won’t crush Manchin. Everyone else is on the record. Even Sinema has made a plea to keep all the good things in it now. Pressure works.

      The obstacle is this is Manchin’s moment in the Sun. He’s taking it. Remove the glory and move on. This also speaks to the idea of political capital as a resource. You run out of political capital when you stop moving.

      Since Biden won’t announce what a farce the filibuster is, he needs to put items in the reconciliation bill.

  31. Carolinian

    Re tinkzorg–finally have the time to read this

    Here, the average member of America’s credentialed classes might point out how ridiculous such an argument is, that only a philistine, a luddite or a white supremacist would consider their jobs within academia, the media, and middle management to be useless. These jobs are really completely vital to a modern economy, and the fact that I even dare to question their necessity makes me a racist, a nazi, and a white supremacist. And maybe this is all true, but it actually doesn’t matter. I could be be the mongolian reincarnation of Adolf Hitler himself, but this will not change the fact that the guy who handles garbage collection is simply much, much more willing and able to go for long stretches without the oh-so-necessary Critical Race Theory commissars, than these commissar are able or willing to go without any garbage pickup. The HR manager might be ”just as important” as the truck driver on the level of platonic forms, but the truck driver is still willing and able to carry on forever without the HR manager showing up to work, while the HR manager will quite literally start starving to death in short order if the trucker doesn’t do his job. No moral hectoring or impotent crying about racism and white supremacy will ever change that basic imbalance between these two groups.

    Perhaps the article’s central analogy is not quite so dead on, but the above paragraph is. The elites need us more than we need them and their power is likely to prove an illusion that is now being punctured. Here’s hoping this doesn’t inspire some new war against people overseas that they really don’t need.

    1. LifelongLib

      Except that academia, middle management, and the media aren’t the elite, they’re being paid by the elite. Much of what they do will still be necessary post-revolution. They’ll just be paid by different people.

  32. Wukchumni

    Asked my longtime friend in Auckland how things were proceeding along the Covid front?

    His response:

    The only major thing that will change next Wednesday is that retail shops will open again under certain rules. It looks like early December before anything more meaningful happens. For a lot of people this has become a major financial issue rather than a health issue – it’d be nice if there were a vaccine against that. Aucklanders have been remarkably compliant through all this although I doubt things would go the same way if there were a next time – it just drags on and on. We’ve marveled at how they got through WW2 in the UK (6 years worth!). Not having experienced it, it’s a mystery to us how people in other countries react to all the deaths – isn’t the US still having another 9/11 every two days or so? Does it register with people or has it just become rather numbing?

  33. marym

    “Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed on Wednesday to create a fully-staffed statewide law enforcement office whose sole job would be to crack down on election crimes, despite previously praising Florida’s smooth 2020 elections and rebuffing calls by members of his own party for an audit.

    The governor also said he wants the GOP-controlled Legislature to put additional restrictions on the use of drop boxes.

    “I don’t even think we should have drop boxes,” said DeSantis even though he signed the bill two years ago that first authorized their use in the state.”

  34. Mikel


    “…One, Zillow is now trying to dump about 7,000 houses, but not to individual homebuyers as originally planned as house flipper, which is obviously too hard and painful. Instead, it’s pitching these houses to institutional investors, trying to get $2.8 billion in total, according to sources cited by Bloomberg. Zillow is likely to sell the houses to a multitude of investors, rather than selling all of them in a single transaction, the sources said.

    I mean, how can a house flipper get stuck with 7,000 houses? I mean, buying houses is easy if price doesn’t matter. And the price didn’t matter for Zillow after it tweaked its pricing algo – the power of AI – to where it was the high bidder in red-hot markets that may have slowed down since then. That was easy. But selling them without losing your shirt is suddenly hard, it turns out.

    Two, it overpaid for many houses and is trying to sell at a loss. KeyBanc Capital Markets came out with an analysis of 650 homes owned by Zillow that are currently listed on the market, and found that 66% of them were listed below what Zillow had paid for them, with the average listing price being 4.5% below the purchase price….”

    So artificially inflated prices, priced out a multitude of mortgage buying dreamers, but now that housing inventory goes to the big boys for less…

  35. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here’s an article from the Irish Times warning that a 2024 Dem ticket with Harris or Biden or both on it will lose to Trump in 2024. It states the wish that the DemParty would allow a nasty wide open primary season to try finding someone better. It laments the likelihood of no such primary season being allowed and it laments the near-certain re-election of Trump as a consequence.


  36. marym

    “our democracy”

    The [NY] state Democratic Party spent no money on the three ballot proposals that it unexpectedly lost Tuesday that were intended to expand voting access, according to Chairman Jay Jacobs.

    The party, he said, was not asked by the political campaign committee and associated groups advocating for the propositions to back their efforts, otherwise it would have supported the cause.

    The proposals on the ballot, which included opening a pathway to same-day voter registration and a “no excuse” vote-by-mail right, were pushed through the Legislature by Democratic senators.”

    “It’s clear that Republicans and Conservatives were far-more motivated to run a ‘no’ campaign as they saw these as existential threats to the future of the party’s power in New York, and acted like it,” Sarah Goff, deputy director of Common Cause NY, said. “Unfortunately the supporters of the propositions were complacent.”

  37. Irrational

    Re. that tasteful BMW symbol: Check out the Bavarian flag in the search engine of your choice.

  38. Geoffrey Dewan

    Q: “How is it that Democrats expect people to vote for them when they cross all the voters’ top priorities off their to-do list? How does that work?”

    A: It doesn’t

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