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2:00PM Water Cooler 8/11/2020


2:00PM Water Cooler 8/11/2020


By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Extremely patient readers, I set the alarm wrong and woke up too late. More as shortly as may be, since I must also do a laundry if I am not to be whiffy later in the day. Grr! –lambert


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Here are the bottom five of the top ten problem states: Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, and Illinois, with Georgia for comparison:

2:00PM Water Cooler 8/11/2020 2


The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: Not Heading in the Right Direction




“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 10: Still no changes.

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!

“Why I’m Nervous about the 2020 Presidential Election: It’s the Map, Stupid” [Mike the Mad Biologist]. “This map does not feel me with optimism. Other than Arizona, I find it hard to believe that Biden can win any of these states or the swing votes in Maine and Nebraska. And between mail-in voting, a lack of appeal to young voters, and Republican chicanery, Wisconsin seems optimistic. Losing all the ‘brown’ regions and Wisconsin yields a two vote Electoral College victory for Trump. Yes, the polling suggests a Biden victory, but it also suggests a ten point win, and I don’t think that will hold (already, the political press corps is emphasizing Biden’s idiot eruptions–and we told you this would happen). Given the map, it’s very possible that Trump wins the electoral college, even as Biden gains an actual majority–not a plurality like Clinton, but a majority.” • So I’m not the only one.


Biden (D)(0): Twitter chatter that Biden has ended the enormous suspense and picked his Veep, but nothing sourced, as of this writing.

Biden (D)(1): “Biden Builds Staff Team for Running Mate Before She Is Unveiled” [Bloomberg]. “The vice presidential candidate’s staff includes longtime Biden insiders, veterans of former President Barack Obama’s White House and more recent campaign hires. The rollout comes ahead of Biden’s announcement of who will join him on the ticket… Karine Jean-Pierre, a senior adviser on Biden’s campaign, will be the vice presidential candidate’s chief of staff, the Biden campaign said. Before joining Biden’s team earlier this year, she was chief public affairs officer for MoveOn and also worked on both Obama presidential campaigns. She was also a regional political director in the Obama White House.” • I guess the VP won’t be straying far off the reservation…

Biden (D)(2): “Biden won’t rule out naming donors as envoys, despite corruption concerns” [Politico]. “Joe Biden has promised to put “U.S. diplomacy back in the hands of genuine professionals.” … [But] the presumptive Democratic nominee has refused to rule out giving ambassadorships to big-time campaign donors and fundraisers. Instead, he’s indicated that, if he wins the presidency, he’ll continue the longstanding, bipartisan practice, which critics for decades have said smacks of corruption and damages America’s international standing.” • “Nothing would fundamentally change.”

Biden (D)(3), The Great Assimilation™: “The Revolt of the Republican Strategists” [Ross Douthat, New York Times]. “[There is] question of what the Lincoln Project actually stands for — what ideas would its strategists import into the center-left, were they welcomed there with open arms, and how they imagine rebuilding the Republican Party, were the entire G.O.P. somehow actually burned down? From following a few of the Lincoln Project men on Twitter and reading the things they write, I have a hard time figuring out the answer to these questions, mostly because it’s hard to distinguish their takes from a banal MSNBC liberalism.” • Exactly.

Biden (D)(4), The Great Assimilation™: “Neoconservative Wolves Dressed In Never-Trumper Clothing” [The American Conservative]. “Never-Trumper Republicans have been worming their way into the Biden campaign, offering to flesh out his ‘coalition’ ahead of the election and pushing their way into the foreign policy discussions, particularly on China. Given their shared history with the liberal interventionists already in the campaign, don’t for a second think that there aren’t hungry neoconservatives among them trying to get a seat at the table. ‘Some hawkish Democrats may see the neocons as convenient allies in preserving an outdated interventionist mindset,’ offers Matt Duss, who is Sen. Bernie Sanders’ longtime foreign policy advisor and maintains close ties with the Democratic campaign to replace President Trump. ‘And of course neocons are desperate for any opportunity to salvage their own relevance.’” •

Biden (D)(5), The Great Assimilation™: “What Do ‘Never Trump’ Republicans Want From Joe Biden?” [HuffPo]. “But [Lincoln Project] certainly have taken up a fair amount of airspace, and that might be what they want. After all, exposure like that leads to more money ― both in donations and lucrative TV contracts. Cable networks can’t resist moderate Republicans, and they were given plenty of time in the primary to warn against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with the perspective of what could and could not appeal to Republicans who dislike Trump. It seems likely that they’ll also get a similar platform in a Biden administration, but with Trump gone, the question will be what they would use it for.” • Grifters gotta grift. I hadn’t realized that Obama wanted to put three Republicans in his cabinet. The Great Assimilation™ has been going on for some time….

Biden (D)(6): He’s not wrong:

Trump (R)(1): “Trump’s path to winning Pa. runs through small Rust Belt towns — like one near Biden’s hometown” [Philadelphia Inquirer]. “While Trump has collapsed in the polls in Pennsylvania and nationally following his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, the race is likely to tighten in its final weeks. In a pivotal state Trump won by less than 1% of the vote in 2016 — partly because of voters in Lackawanna County and bordering Luzerne County — even small shifts in his favor in places like Carbondale could have outsized importance. And interviews with 20 residents and political operatives in the northeast suggest that places like Carbondale are trending even more pro-Trump than four years ago.” • Worth reading in full. Deindustrialization has political consequences.

Trump (R)(2): “The MAGA President Remade America as a Shithole Country” [The Daily Beast]. “We are now the shithole country in the toilet—not the shining city on the hill—thanks to the president’s disinterest in protecting Americans.” • Since this is a Members-only story, I can only quote this, but remember that for liberal Democrats, January 20, 2017 is the Year Zero, and nothing happened before that. Especially not deindustrialization, the health care system, falling life expectancy in flyover, etc.

* * *

Here is the Democrat National Convention speaker line-up:

There’s a lot of ways this tells Sanders people where they stand, but I think the best is putting Sanders on Day One, “We The People,” and then making Closing Night, with Biden, “America’s Promise.” As if, to the liberal Democrat mind, “the people” and “America’s promise” are quite distinct. As indeed Thomas Frank, in The People, No! explains they are.

“Democrats will highlight everyday Americans in their prime-time convention lineup” [WaPo]. • Ah, yes. “Everyday Americans.” Perhaps the Clinton campaign’s most flaccid formulation.

Good for Zephyr Teachout:

We all scream for ice cream:

Nina Turner, AOC, Tlaib, Omar, Cori Bush, Marquita Bradshaw…. What world do the Pelosis live in?

* * *

Sunrise Movement heaves Morse over the side:

So, climate isn’t the most important thing? (See the Bauman affair.)

Mass Nurses do not:

Krystal Ball on Morse:

A long thread on “the left.” If this is “the left,” the left needs a new name:

Interesting, as we say, that the accusation against Morse comes from College Democrats. To me, a thinly evidenced accusation about personal behavior immediately before an important election is something Massachusetts Democrats just do ***cough *** Liz Warren ***cough***. It’s the same play. Kudos to College Democrats for protecting Neal and making the Sunrise Movement look like fools. It’s a two-fer!

* * *

“Ballot Drop Boxes Become Latest Front In Voting Legal Fights” [NPR]. “Many voters are worried about casting their ballots in person this November because of the pandemic. They’re also concerned that their mail-in ballots could be misplaced or delayed. One voting option that’s gaining popularity — and also attracting controversy — is the use of drop boxes, where voters can deposit their absentee ballots to be collected later by election officials. Michigan had hundreds of drop boxes available for its primary after more than 1 million voters decided to cast absentee ballots rather than go to the polls. In the last presidential election, about 16% of voters nationwide used drop boxes, but they were concentrated in states such as Washington, Oregon and Colorado, where almost all voters cast absentee ballots.”

“The Postal Service is Not Ready for November” [Democracy Docket]. However, this tweet and the attached letter is more to the point than the article:

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.

Debt: “May 2020 Loan Performance: First Annual Increase In More Than 9 Years” [Econintersect]. “Loan Performance Insights Report for May 2020 shows on a national level, 7.3% of mortgages were in some stage of delinquency (30 days or more past due, including those in foreclosure). This represents a 3.7-percentage point increase in the overall delinquency rate compared to 3.6% in May 2019.”

Inflation: “July 2020 Producer Price Final Demand Year-over-Year Growth Remains In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “Year-over-year inflation pressures remain soft as this index remains in contraction. This may be the beginning of a deflationary cycle – we will know only in hindsight.”

Small business optimism: “July 2020 Small Business Optimism Declines” [Econintersect]. “The Small Business Optimism Index fell 1.8 points to 98.8 in July, near the survey’s historical average. Overall, 4 of the 10 Index components improved, 5 declined, and 1 was unchanged. The NFIB Uncertainty Index increased 7 points to 88. Reports of expected better business conditions in the next six months declined 14 points to a net 25%. Owners continue to temper their expectations of future economic conditions as the COVID-19 public health crisis is expected to continue.”

* * *

Readers, earlier today I got the dreaded “This Message has no content” for 30 mails, which iOS refused to send and dumped in my outbox, with nothing in the message body. Here’s why:

There are a lot of third-party email applications on the App Store, but Apple’s own app, Mail, works perfectly fine for most people. Unfortunately, there are times where the Mail app acts up and doesn’t work correctly and shows either not subject or “this message has no content.”… The problem is that there’s no certain or clear-cut workaround, but there are a few different options to try out.

Tim Cook is a billionaire. His company can’t write an email application that works reliably. (30 mails for me is thirty gathered links, so that’s about an hour of work lost, plus the value I hoped readers would get.) Note also that the iPad is supposed to replace the Mac as a professional tool (perhaps on Earth 2). In order to do that, it’s going to need email that works.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 74 Greed (previous close: 74 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 67 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 11 at 1:17pm. Falling back to mere Greed from Extreme Greed.

The Biosphere

Helping Mauritius:

Health Care

* * *

News of the Wired

Sid! Sid! Sid!

Further down in the thread, there’s an image of the polyp the vet removed from Sid’s throat, in a jar; it’s the size of a quarter.

* * *

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 (RM):

2:00PM Water Cooler 8/11/2020 3

RM writes: “I thought I’d send you this photo of the grasshopper damage to my sunflowers just for fun. Hungry little rascals.” Striking the optimsistic note! Next, frogs. After, boils…

* * *

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Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.

2:00PM Water Cooler 8/11/2020 4

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