By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Here again is the Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin:
Midwest not looking good at all. Nor the South, as the regions chart below shows.
Here is positivity:
Here are the United States regions:
Pretty soon those upticks are gonna turn into a third wave. If that happens, Trump will look pretty toasty, (colorable) vaccine or no. (The savage irony would then be that the crème de la crème of America’s Professional Managerial Class — the gatekeepers of the meritocracy — failed, given months of time to prepare, to understand that their “customers” party. Or they did, and collected the tuition and housing fees anyhow. And Trump would take the hit! It’s beautiful, in its own way.)
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“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune
“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
The electoral map. July 17: Georgia, Ohio, ME-2 move from Leans Republican to Toss-up. Continued yikes. On July 7, the tossup were 86. Only July 17, they were 56. Now they are 91. This puts Biden at 278, i.e. over 270. August 18: Still no changes. August 31: Indiana moves from Likely to Safe Republican. September 9: No changes. September 14: No changes. Despite the sturm and drang, and the polls, the consensus on the electoral college remains the same: Biden ahead, Trump within striking distance.
So, taking the consensus as a given, 270 (total) – 204 (Trump’s) = 66. Trump must win 66 from the states in play: AZ (11), FL (29), MI (16), NC (15), PA (20), and WI (10) plus 1 to win not tie = 102. 102 – 66 = 36. So if Trump wins FL, MI, NC, and PA (29 + 16 + 15 + 20 = 80), he wins. That’s a heavy lift. I think I’ve got the math right this time!
Time to restore the election countdown:
Here, however, is an early voting calendar. Maybe we’ll have a whole series of October surprises, since election day is gradually being devalued as an event.
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Biden (D)(1): “‘They made a really big mistake’: Biden confronts a regret of the Obama years” [Politico]. “Should Biden take the White House and get a Democratic Senate, it will likely all translate into an immediate push to roll back President Donald Trump’s corporate tax cuts, slap significantly higher taxes on wealthy Americans and push through a multitrillion-dollar stimulus spending package aimed at fighting the Covid-19 virus, sending cash directly into people’s pockets, renewing enhanced unemployment benefits, rescuing struggling state budgets and investing in new infrastructure projects.” • Well, Democrats walked back higher taxes on wealthy Americans the day after this article was published, so forgive my skepticism on everything else; I wojld certainly need to know geographic distribution and program details. Another way of saying this: Will the Democrat Party function to serve the PMC, or will they function to serve the working class as well? Let alone “our democracy”? Forgive my skepticism, but to do the latter two, they’d have to send a lot of money to deplorables in flyover, people the PMC regard as moral, intellectual, even spiritual inferiors. Seems unlikely, based on past performance.
Biden (D)(2): Hard to argue with this:
Literally – the Liberal establishment said "you're going to vote for Kamala Harris" – folks said "no we are fucking not" and then they said "fine, you'll vote for Joe Biden and we'll just install Harris"
and here we are.
— Donald Trump is a fascist & so are his supporters (@NatSecReporter) September 16, 2020
Trump (R)(1): “How Americans View The Coronavirus Crisis And Trump’s Response” [FiveThirtyEight]. • Not looking good with independents:
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“Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin decided the 2016 election. We’ll have to wait on them in 2020.” [Politico]. “Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are expecting huge surges in ballots cast by mail in 2020, like most states preparing to vote during the coronavirus pandemic. But all three Midwestern battlegrounds, which President Donald Trump flipped in 2016 to win the White House after years of Democratic presidential victories there, are among the states where local election officials are not allowed to start processing mail ballots until Election Day, according to a POLITICO review of election rules in 13 key states.” • Oh, great.
“A Rust Belt Town’s Loyalties Divide as Pennsylvania Turns Purple” [Bloomberg]. “A few days before our meeting, Mikulich had presided over an acrimonious virtual council session: Town leaders had been trying to figure out how late-night rumors of an Ambridge-bound bus filled with Black Lives Matter protesters had ended in members of a far-right militia with sniper rifles taking to the roof of a downtown gym. All this was unfolding against the backdrop of a national election in which Mikulich feared his own Democratic Party seemed to be playing to lose in this purple corner of western Pennsylvania. Progressive Democrats’ and protesters’ calls to “defund the police” seemed like a gift to a president running a reelection campaign fanning fears of a collapse in American law and order should he lose. “Why would you say stupid stuff like that?” Mikulich said, grimacing. “The people who are just sitting on that fence leaning in your direction now are leaning back in the other direction because they don’t want to defund the police department. They’re going to say, ‘Where in the hell is my police?’ ” Mikulich has good reason to be concerned. In July, the Monmouth University Polling Institute, put Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania at as much as 10 percentage points under a high voter turnout scenario. But its latest poll shows that his advantage under the same scenario had dwindled to just 3 points.” • Within the margin of error, even if you don’t give Trump numbers a bump for “shy voters.”
Realignment and Legitimacy
“How Conspiracy Theories Are Shaping the 2020 Election—and Shaking the Foundation of American Democracy” [Time]. “In more than seven dozen interviews conducted in Wisconsin in early September, from the suburbs around Milwaukee to the scarred streets of Kenosha in the aftermath of the Jacob Blake shooting, about 1 in 5 voters volunteered ideas that veered into the realm of conspiracy theory, ranging from QAnon to the notion that COVID-19 is a hoax. Two women in Ozaukee County calmly informed me that an evil cabal operates tunnels under the U.S. in order to rape and torture children and drink their blood.” • Yes, that’s called capitalism. Metaphorically. More or less. No, seriously folks. I don’t love QAnon. But should we be more concerned with lunatic theories held by persons with actual power, like — hear me out — mainstream economics? Which killed more people? QAnon, or austerity?
“Is America a Myth?” [The New Yorker]. “Now, without outside threats, the nation is increasingly turning on itself. ‘We are definitely not united,’ [Yale historian David Blight] said. ‘Are we on the brink of secession of some kind? No, not in a sectional sense. But, in the interior of our minds and our communities, we are already in a period of slow-evolving secession’ in ways that are deeper than ideology and political beliefs. ‘We are tribes with at least two or more sources of information, facts, narratives, and stories we live in.’ The United States today, Blight said, is a ‘house divided about what holds the house up.’” • Blight is the creator of this excellent podcast on the Civil War and Reconstruction (hat tip, NC commentariat). That said, “tribes”? As a serious analytical tool? Defined as having “two or more sources of information”? Really?
“Progressive Donor Susan Sandler to Give $200 Million to Racial Justice Groups” [New York Times]. “Ms. Sandler’s announcement comes amid skyrocketing investment in racial justice organizations, fueled by the national reckoning on systemic inequities and injustice that swept the country this summer. Small-dollar donations to bail funds after the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck, reached over $90 million. In July, the foundation started by George Soros pledged $220 million to groups focused on racial equity, an eye-popping total that gave long-term sustainability to several organizations. Ms. Sandler’s fund will provide several groups with a similar assurance. Taken together, the donations have reshaped the landscape of Black political and civil rights organizations, and .” • Because of what the rich want. There it is!
“Betting It All On Black” [Eschaton]. “Win or lose or whatever the inbetween thing is, the rot is deep and everywhere and there are lots of guns around.” • As alert reader A Different Chris put it the other day: Trump is the stench, not the rot.
Look forward and not back:
If @JoeBiden wins, but there is not a Truth and Reconciliation style commission set up to investigate and prosecute the atrocities of the Trump administration by Jan 21, we should be protesting Jan 22. https://t.co/j1mMdaNitF
— Elie Mystal (@ElieNYC) September 14, 2020
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“State voter registration systems have not been hacked, officials say” [NBC]. “Federal and state officials said Tuesday that despite fears to the contrary, there’s no evidence that any state’s voter registration database has been hacked this year. A viral article in the Russian newspaper Kommersant claimed that a user on a Russian hacker forum had acquired the personal information of 7.6 million voters in Michigan and other voters in several other states, prompting claims that they had recently been hacked. But all that information was already publicly available, multiple officials said.”
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.
Containers: “August 2020 Sea Container Imports At Record Level Indicating An Economy Returning To Pre-Pandemic Levels” [Econintersect]. “On top of a trade war and the world pandemic, import container counts significantly improved. There is chaos in container movements with containers in the wrong place and shortages of rail cars to move containers. Simply looking at this month versus last month – both exports improved year-over-year whilst exports marginally declined. The three-month rolling averages improved for both exports and imports. Some pundits think that the new Panama Canal locks have affected the West Coasts container counts – our analysis is that there is little impact. Many do not understand that the new locks are more expensive per ton. However, a new trend is developing is that ships are going around the Cape because of lower fuel prices. .”
Headline Retail Sales Improves in August 2020″ [Econintersect]. “Retail sales modestly improved according to US Census headline data. The three-month rolling average improved. There seems little overall impact from the coronavirus…. . However, there is still year-over-year weakness in restaurants, department stores, clothing stores and gas stations.”
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Real Estate: “Facebook buys an unused headquarters even as more employees work remotely” [CNN]. “Facebook is buying a previously unused corporate headquarters from outdoor retailer REI, despite the social media company’s plans to shift more of its employees to working from home…. ‘”The sale represents a positive return on the co-op’s investment in the property,” according to REI’s statement.” •
Retail: “Amazon launches high-end ‘Luxury Stores’ – but access is by invitation only” [Channel News Asia]. “Amazon is bringing the high end shopping experience to the mobile phone with the launch of Luxury Stores – its new platform for luxury fashion. The first brand to launch on the platform is couture fashion house Oscar de la Renta. However, the new platform isn’t open to just about anyone. Access is by invitation only, available to select Amazon Prime members in the US. Those who wish to gain entry can request an invitation, but there’s already a waitlist. ‘We’re excited about creating an elevated and inspiring customer experience, while also infusing innovative technology to make shopping easier and more delightful,’ Amazon Fashion President Christine Beauchamp told Vogue.” • Oscar de Lowrenta…
The Bezzle: “Safety driver in fatal Arizona Uber self-driving car crash charged with homicide” [Bloomberg]. “In November, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) faulted Vasquez’s inactions and Uber for inadequate attention to safety and decisions in the company’s autonomous vehicle development. The NTSB said the probable cause was Vasquez’s failure to monitor the driving environment ‘because she was visually distracted throughout the trip by her personal cell phone.’ She was supposed to act in the event of an emergency. Uber made a series of development decisions that contributed to the crash’s cause, the NTSB said. The software in the modified Volvo XC90 did not properly identify Herzberg as a pedestrian and did not address ‘operators’ automation complacency.’ Uber deactivated the automatic emergency braking systems in the Volvo XC90 vehicle and precluded the use of immediate emergency braking, relying instead on the back-up driver.
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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 57 Greed (previous close: 59 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 65 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 16 at 12:15pm.
“Twin disasters: How the West Coast fires might impact the COVID-19 pandemic” [ABC]. “Previous studies have shown that during wildfires, affected areas see a substantial increase in emergency room visits and hospital admissions for respiratory illnesses (like asthma or emphysema) and cardiovascular conditions (such as heart attacks and strokes). Now, experts are concerned that the wildfires may add to the pandemic’s strain on California’s hospitals. ‘Hospitals are going to have to treat a lot of breathing problems as a result of damage from fire exposure. Capacity will be stretched,’ said [Simone Wildes, M.D.]. As people are forced to flee from the fires and take refuge together, social distancing efforts may be compromised. Shelter crowding is a major concern, she said, but so are the effects of inhaling toxins from wildfire smoke. ‘The big thing is social distancing is going to be hard, but you have to balance immediate danger, like needing to get people to safety from a fire, with the overall danger of spreading infection. The important thing is to get back to social distancing as soon as you are able.’ The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers guidelines for staying safe while the COVID-19 pandemic overlaps with devastating wildfires. Checking air quality reports frequently is essential. The CDC recommends creating a cleaner air space at home, if possible, as well as adhering to social distancing and respiratory and hand hygiene practices as best as you can if you do have to go to a public disaster shelter.” • In a crisis, everything correlates….
“When Will There Be a Covid-19 Cure? The Body Is Still the Best Virus-Killer” [Bloomberg]. “So why do viruses give humans so much trouble? Outside of the body, a vigorous hand-washing is enough to kill many. Inside, the immune system’s long memory is enough to make short work of most. It’s when we run into a new virus that the problems start…. Because viruses can’t survive on their own, they hijack our cells to multiply. That parasitic dependence makes them hard to treat with most traditional drugs. A virus is so interwoven with its host that it’s difficult to hurt one without hurting the other. SARS-CoV-2 infects the airways and lungs — the very things we need to breathe…. It’s not a coincidence that many infections last for about two weeks, [Paula Cannon, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine] said. That’s how long it takes for the immune system to kick into gear. ‘Our immune system is the world’s best drugmaker,’ she said. ‘Whether you had measles as a 5-year-old or Covid as a 50-year-old, our immune system comprises this vast library of potential antiviral approaches that offer protection.’” • Hmm. Replicants?
“You Might Be Buying a Hand Sanitizer That Won’t Work for Coronavirus” [ProPublica]. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends rubbing on hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol when you aren’t able to wash your hands. Huge pumps and multipacks of bottles are flying off store shelves. But “alcohol-free” products — which are not recommended by the CDC — are also getting snatched up in the consumer frenzy. Some of the hand sanitizers made by the brands Purell and Germ-X rely on benzalkonium chloride instead of alcohol as the active ingredient. Such non-alcohol antiseptic products may not work as well for many types of germs, the CDC says, or may merely reduce the growth of germs rather than killing them. They may be better than nothing, experts say. But people are buying them without knowing the difference.”
“There are seven coronavirus vaccine candidates being tested in the U.S. — here’s where they stand” [MarketWatch]. “There are dozens of coronavirus vaccines in development, primarily in the preclinical phase when they are tested on animals. In the U.S., there are seven vaccine candidates that have moved into clinical trials with human participants, including three that have moved into the crucial Phase 3 development phase. The first and second phases of clinical studies are primarily conducted to test for safety, while the third and final stage is used to determine whether vaccines are efficacious and can prevent infection among participants. At that point, the vaccine makers will decide when to pursue an emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration and/or a full approval. The majority of the vaccines in development have received funding from the U.S. government, either to help support clinical development or pay for manufacturing and distribution of the vaccines as part of the Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” program.” • Phase 3 companies: AstraZeneca, BioNTech, and Moderna. Phases 1 and 2: Inovio, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, and Sanofi.
“The Carnival Cruise Ship That Spread Coronavirus Around the World” [Bloomberg]. The USCSS Nostromo? “The decision to allow the Ruby to dock would have profound consequences. The ship turned out to be the single most important vector for the coronavirus in Australia, accounting at one point for more than 10% of the country’s cases. In Tasmania two cruisers were the probable source of an outbreak so severe it forced a major hospital to shut down. Other infected passengers flew to the U.S., where some ultimately died. The crew, meanwhile, became virtual prisoners on their own vessel, some unable to return home for months. Although multiple cruise ships recorded large numbers of Covid-19 cases in the early stages of the pandemic, the Ruby was unique, and not simply because 28 people died of the illness, the most of any voyage. Two other notorious Carnival ships—the Diamond Princess, which was sealed off for weeks on a Japanese pier, and the Zaandam, which sailed up the entire west coast of South America looking for a country that would allow it to dock—were vessels that guests couldn’t leave. The Ruby was the opposite, the incubator of a devastating outbreak discovered only after passengers were on dry land.” • Good reporting from Bloomberg. Tragic.
Legalize, not criminalize, and what about amnesty?
The time has come to decriminalize marijuana in this country.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) September 14, 2020
And what do suburban Republicans think?
Ice Cube gets MMT:
America is a currency creator so there’s no reason for people to live like this. Government and the banks have made a deal to keep the people in debt. They always say if you print money it will cause inflation. They just printed 3 trillion. Little or no inflation. pic.twitter.com/hjh2OoF4zW
— Ice Cube (@icecube) September 3, 2020
Bernie coulda had Killer Mike and Ice Cube too….
“Parents Who Double As Essential Workers Are Struggling More Than Ever. Here Are Their Stories.” [Buzzfeed]. “Since the early days of the pandemic, parents who can’t work from home — the people we now call essential workers — have confronted the dual risk of exposing themselves to the coronavirus at work, often for wages so low they are earning less than what people have been collecting on unemployment, while their children are exposed in schools and daycares. There is little in the way of help. Essential workers have found it hard to collect unemployment benefits if they stop working to care for their families. Those who can afford professional childcare, and are willing to deal with the risks, have found it difficult to find open spots. Around the country, thousands of childcare centers have closed as work-from-home parents withdrew their children, unintentionally impacting parents unable to keep their children home…. At the end of a long day, when they come home, they don’t let their children touch them until they’ve taken off the clothes from the outside world. Some are bracing themselves for what they consider to be the inevitability of contracting the coronavirus. They’re drained and scared, especially single parents. These are their stories.” • Vote!
Bring back Scabby!
Michigan’s striking workers say their use of Scabby at a protest was antisemitic (because rats = Jews) & that because they protested a woman, they “raised the specter of violence against women.”
The entire woke discourse is poison. The left can either junk this horseshit or die. pic.twitter.com/sqPlEkvJNw
— Matt Thomas 🌹 (@MattThomasNYC) September 14, 2020
Tne wokesters aren’t on the left. These are their salad days, but in a couple of Presidential election cycles, they’ll be liberal Democrat apparatchiks, and one ’em will have replaced David Brooks on the Times Op-Ed page. Although nobody will notice.
News of the Wired
“A Deep Dive Into the ‘Gentrification Font’” [Vice]. “If there’s a definitive look to gentrification, aside from the changing faces that make up a neighborhood, it’s not just the “gentrification building” (“blocky, forgettable mid-rises”), it’s also a “gentrification fence” (horizontal wooden slats) and a “gentrification font” (sans serif house numbers). These design elements often converge into a sleek, vaguely modern aesthetic that’s ubiquitous with neighborhoods in flux, all over the country.” • The font is “Neutraface, a typeface based on the work of modernist architect Richard Neutra.” Not the Obama campaign’s Gotham….
what I love most about this is that a couple of people have pointed out that it really should be 'such Venetian'. We've all been on the internet so long that we can give grammaticality judgements about meme languages https://t.co/G86VuTPgwg
— Danny Bate (@DannyBate4) September 15, 2020
Aux duck pits, citoyens!
DUCK ARMY: Drone footage captures 10,000 ducks “cleaning” rice paddies in Thailand. Farmers use the ducks to remove pests from the fields. pic.twitter.com/zwu5AqmAZk
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 15, 2020
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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 (IM):
IM writes: “Recently drove to Alberta for family reasons. What follows is a prairie shot, 1/3 plant and 2/3 sky, of canola on a sunny day, outside Drumheller, Alberta. Lots of dinosaurs waiting to erode out of the bedrock below.”
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