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2:00PM Water Cooler 6/9/2020


2:00PM Water Cooler 6/9/2020


By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Having done the South and the West last week, here is the Midwest:

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/9/2020 2

That jump for Michigan looks like an artifact to me, but I can’t find an account of it in in Michigan sources. Would a reader care to investigate?

“More than half of states may be undercounting coronavirus cases by not following CDC guidelines” [CNN|. “At least 28 states are not following US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on reporting new Covid-19 cases — half of which saw the trend of new cases increasing in the last week. Those states are not reporting probable cases, according to the daily case count listed on the CDC’s website. Probable cases include those that show evidence of an infection without the confirmation of a lab test and cases where coronavirus was listed as a cause or contributing cause of death but are not confirmed with a lab test. Some of the states with the largest populations — like California, Florida, New York and Texas — are among those listed as not reporting probable cases, despite CDC guidance that they should be included in the case count. This comes as 26 states see an increased or steady rate of new cases.” • The zeitgeist is saying the virus is under control. As I’ve been saying for some weeks, it isn’t.


“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

Since we’re getting closer to the election, maybe it’s time to start looking at the electoral map, updated yesterday (June 8) and unchanged:

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!

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Trump (R)(1):

That should fire up the base….


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“Rush to Vote-by-Mail could cost Dems the Election” [Greg Palast]. “In 2016, 512,696 mail-in ballots—over half a million—were simply rejected, not counted. That’s official, from the federal Elections Assistance Commission (EAC). But that’s just the tip of the ballot-berg of uncounted mail-in votes. A study by MIT, Losing Votes by Mail, puts the total loss of mail-in votes at a breathtaking 22%. Move to 80% mail-in voting and 25 million will lose their vote. And not just anyone’s mail-in ballots are dumped in the electoral trashcan. Overwhelmingly, those junked are ballots mailed by poorer, younger, non-white Americans.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

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Stats Watch

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

Employment Situation: “April 2020 Headline JOLTS Job Openings Rate Declined And Remains In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “The unadjusted data this month remained well below average for the rate of growth seen in the last year. With this low average rate of growth, JOLTS is predicting lower employment growth than we have seen over the past year. Jolts predicted the slowing of employment growth. However, the pandemic effects will drive this data.”

Wholesale Sales: “April 2020 Headline Wholesale Sales and Inventories In Recession Territory” [Econintersect]. “This data was significantly effected by the coronavirus. Overall, the rolling averages tell the real story – and they declined this month. This data set is considered an outlier and may have issues with data gathering, changing dynamics of the wholesale industry, or definition issues with what is considered wholesale.”

Debt: “March 2020 Loan Performance: Delinquency Rates Remain Low Despite Early Impacts of the Pandemic” [Econintersect]. “The Loan Performance Insights Report for March 2020 shows 3.6% of mortgages were in some stage of delinquency (30 days or more past due, including those in foreclosure). This represents a 0.4-percentage point decrease in the overall delinquency rate compared with March 2019, when it was 4%.”

Honey for the Bears: “Opinion: The NBER is wrong — the recession didn’t begin in February, it began in March” [MarketWatch]. “A private group of academics, the National Bureau of Economic Research, announced Monday that the recession began in February 2020 because that’s when they claim jobs started disappearing. They are wrong: the job losses — and the recession — began in March. The first U.S. death from COVID-19 wasn’t reported until Feb. 29, after the supposed start of the recession…. The committee puts a lot of stock in employment as an indicator of a recession. They note, correctly, that employment fell sharply between the February and March jobs reports, released in March and April, respectively. But they incorrectly assumed that the job losses began in earnest in February. Funny that nobody seemed to notice at the time. In fact, the weekly jobless claims data show that layoffs did not begin to rise until the second week of March, when the household and establishment surveys were conducted.”

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Mr. Marlket: “Dow down 250 points at midday, even after tech-heavy Nasdaq carves out fresh all-time intraday record high” [MarketWatch]. “The quickest stock market slump on record in February and March has been followed by one of the quickest recoveries ever, fuelled by historic financial aid from the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve. By Monday investors in S&P 500 index stocks had recovered all losses for the year, following data published last Friday that showed American employment surprisingly increased from April to May. However, the National Bureau of Economic Research also on Monday declared the U.S. recession started in February, ending a 128-month expansion — the longest dating to 1854. The World Bank’s forecast is for the global economy to shrink by 5.2% this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 67 Greed (previous close: 67 Greed;) [CNN]. One week ago: 58 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 9 at 12:39pm.

Health Care

“Kentucky governor outlines plan to provide health coverage for ‘100 percent’ of black communities” [The Hill]. “‘Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) on Monday announced a plan to provide health coverage to 100 percent of African Americans in his state as part of an effort to address racial inequalities in health care. The governor made the announcement during his daily press briefing, saying he believes that health care is a ‘basic human right’ and vowed to use a multi-faceted campaign to prioritize black communities…. In Beshear’s plan, state-paid ‘health insurance connectors’ will be used to reach out to African American Kentucky residents and assist them in applying for insurance through Medicaid expansion, private plans or federal plans.” • From a policy perspective, this is obviously just one more Rube Goldberg device. However, I have to say that treating health care as a human right while imposing a race-based eligibility requirement is about the wokest liberal Democrat thing I’ve ever seen. Why not just support #MedicareForAll, like Charles Booker?

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“Asymptomatic spread of coronavirus is ‘very rare,’ WHO says” [CNBC]. “‘From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual,’ Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said at a news briefing from the United Nations agency’s Geneva headquarters. ‘It’s very rare.’ Government responses should focus on detecting and isolating infected people with symptoms, and tracking anyone who might have come into contact with them, Van Kerkhove said. She acknowledged that some studies have indicated asymptomatic or presymptomatic spread in nursing homes and in household settings…. If asymptomatic spread proves to not be a main driver of coronavirus transmission, the policy implications could be tremendous. A report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published on April 1 cited the ‘potential for presymptomatic transmission’ as a reason for the importance of social distancing.” • The reporting confuses aysmptomatic and presymptomatic, which isn’t helpful. I have to say I’m skeptical. The measures the world took collectively, as Nature estimated yesterday, “prevented or delayed on the order of 62 million confirmed cases, corresponding to averting roughly 530 million total infections.” Social distancing was part of that. I may be invested in my personal prophylactic procedures, but until we have all the links in the chain of how SARS-COV-2 infects people, it seems to me dangerous to change what may well have worked. (Remember, people were taking measures on their own, which mostly took the form of social distancing, before governments made policy, and that was one reason the Imperial College runaway didn’t happen (so far). And WHO wasn’t right on masks, either, engaging in seemingly motivated reasoning. I’m perfectly willing to be argued out of this!

Massive takedown of Just So stories on SARS-COV-2 evolving lower virulence. Thread:

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“New York Stock Exchange observe 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence in honor of George Floyd’s memory” [MarketWatch]. • Were they wearing kente cloth?

“Ramsey Orta, Man Who Filmed Eric Garner’s Arrest, Has Been Released From Prison” [Rolling Stone]. “In July of 2014, Orta, then 22, recorded cops as they approached Garner near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and accused him of selling loose cigarettes. One officer, Daniel Pantaleo, put his arm around Garner’s neck and pulled him to the ground. Garner repeatedly told officers that he couldn’t breathe and died soon after the altercation. The video that Orta shot set off a wave of protests and inquiries into police practices.”

“What about police violence against white people?” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. “[T]here is every reason for white Americans to join the movement to overhaul policing in this country, and to attack the inequality at the root of so much police abuse… [I]t is unquestionably the case that black Americans have it worse than whites when it comes to police violence — something like three times as bad, in fact, which surely accounts for the focus of media coverage and obviously destroys Walsh’s larger argument that policing isn’t racist. But white Americans are still being killed by police at an abominable rate. The white American rate of 20.4 killings per 10 million population is more than twice as high as the overall Canadian rate, more than 10 times the New Zealand rate, more that 15 times the German rate, and more than 100 times the Japanese rate…. If we want to end police violence in this country against people of all races, white folks should join hands with their black fellow citizens — indeed, a great many are doing so in cities all across the country, even poor and rural ones. Attacking police brutality should start with, at a minimum, a total overhaul of police departments, but it should also include a drastic reorientation of state spending away from violent political repression and towards a generous system of social benefits.”

Police State Watch

An occupation:

I saw a good deal on the Twitter about barricades — presumably at the borders of the Zone — but didn’t see anything impressive. There was one report of stacked up automobiles (!) but no image.

“Man charged with arson of Minneapolis Third Precinct station” [Star-Tribune]. “A former Menards store security guard [Branden M. Wolfe, 23, white] was charged Monday with arson that damaged the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct building following the May 25 killing of George Floyd in police custody.” Comments from Wolfe’s father are priceless: “Wolfe’s father, Robert Wolfe of Macon, Ga., said he knew nothing of his son’s legal troubles or his political leanings. He said his son was raised by his mother and home-schooled in a suburb of Pensacola, Fla. ‘He has grandiose ideas, a lot of them … and zero common sense,’ Robert Wolfe said. As for the alleged arson, he said, ‘I’m still proud of him, whether he burned down the police station or not. He didn’t hurt nobody, did he?‘” • Is this allyship?

“State Patrol officers acknowledge knifing people’s tires during Minneapolis Black Lives Matter protests, saying they were ‘strategically deflated’” [Insider]. “State Patrol officers and deputies with the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office were given the green light to slash tires by the Multi-Agency Command Center, the body coordinating the police response to the Minneapolis protests, on May 30-31, the Star Tribune reported.” • One wonders whether the “Multi-Agency Command Center: liasons with DHS fusion centers, as in Occupy.

“The First Time I Got Hit With Tear Gas” [Slate]. “The factors that led to revolt in Egypt and the United States are not far apart, but the early response looks much the same. Disproportionate force with dubious reasoning, assaulting the press, tasteless photo-ops, telling people not to believe our eyes: Anyone familiar with how the autocratic regimes of the Middle East clung to power will notice the similarities. That’s made many of us with these memories nervous about what’s to come…. ‘Just Like Occupy Wall Street failed, the Egyptian revolution failed,’ [Mohamed Fahmy, who goes by the artist moniker Ganzeer] said. ‘There was no strategic plan—and this is what comes from political science literature—there was no charismatic figure, there was no coalition formation, there was no vision that had been cultivated for a few years before the revolution. And so post-revolution, there was a series of infighting.’…. Nobody in Egypt talks politics anymore. The coat I wore to that protest in Tahrir Square still reeks of tear gas.” • I’m thinking back — I was live-blogging Tahrir Square — when Nobel laureate and Egyptian diplomat Mohamed ElBaradei, proposed as a replacement for Muburak, returned to Egypt and came to Tahrir Square, to a rapturous reception. But the protesters didn’t have a megaphone or a mike set up for him, so he could not address the crowd, and I thought “Oh, no…..”

“A Left Critique of the Current Protests” [Benjamin Studebaker]. “As long as we have millions of alienated, armed Americans, the police will never be abolished. Calls for their abolishment will instead result in privatisation. The Democratic mayors who run our cities want to avoid responsibility for the killings that are the result of decades of their own negligent policy. Privatising the police divests them of culpability. Privatised police will be even less accountable than publicly run departments. They’ll probably kill even more people. But when it happens, the cities can blame it on the contractors. They can simply fire one outfit and hire another. The anarcho-capitalists have wanted this for ages. They are chomping at the bit to use these protests to make it happen… Sadly, our organizations are inferior to the organizations of the anarchists and the woke neoliberals, and for this reason they will continue to hasten the victory of the right nationalists, much to our chagrin.”

u r doin it wrong:

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The Biosphere

Our Famously Free Press

Groves of Academe

“The academy’s neoliberal response to COVID-19: Why faculty should be wary and how we can push back” [Academic Matters]. “A preliminary examination of these questions suggests that remote teaching, as it is being implemented, is not the exceptional response that it has been made out to be, nor is it the only option available. Instead, it is the product of choices that reflect and advance the particular view of society that has underpinned the neoliberal restructuring of universities and other institutions over the past several decades…. The assumption that faculty are pre-trained, or able to train themselves without additional time and support, underpins university directives that faculty move classes online without investing in training to support faculty in this shift…. In university responses to COVID-19, remote teaching directives are rooted in the assumption that faculty are equally positioned to carry them out. … In university responses to COVID-19, these shifts are visible in the failure to consult faculty or faculty associations, the circumvention of academic governance structures, and the prioritization of revenue concerns over the safety and pedagogical concerns of faculty or the workload, equity, and academic freedom provisions of collective agreements.” • A good synthesis of what’s been happening to the university…

News of the Wired

Who needs an electric toothbrush? And who needs an electric toothbrush connected to the Internet:

* * *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 (Tertium Squid):

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/9/2020 3

Tertium Squid writes: “Scrub oaks on the hillside of the Wasatch mountains in Salt Lake City, bracketed by pro-marijuana graffiti.”

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