By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, more on Politics shortly. –lambert UPDATE All done!


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:

And here are the United States regions:

Data: “Covid Cases Go Undercounted With Muddy Data From U.S. States” [Bloomberg]. • Just a mess, and going on for months. And oddly, we never heard a thing about it from the CDC, whether in the crisis, or before the crisis hit (which would have been the time to have handled it).

CA: “California to towns defying the COVID-19 shutdown: No cash for you” [Los Angeles Times]. “With just 12 confirmed cases, the City Council in mid-May declared Atwater a “sanctuary city” for business, allowing all businesses to reopen in defiance of California’s shutdown orders.” • Hilarious to see “sanctuary city” repurposed. More: “Unless Atwater scraps its sanctuary city resolution, the state will withhold up to $387,428 for which the city is eligible because it is violating state public health rules, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services told city leaders late last month. The tussle comes as COVID-19 cases have exploded in Merced County. The county had 5,012 confirmed cases as of Friday. On June 6, it had just 343 cases. Atwater had 831 confirmed cases as of Friday. On June 6, it had confirmed 32 cases…. Among the facilities in Merced County with an active COVID-19 outbreak is the Walmart Supercenter in Atwater, according to the county.” • Yikes.


“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!


Biden (D)(1): “Willie Brown: Kamala Harris should ‘politely decline’ any offer to be Biden’s running mate” [The Hill]. “Brown suggested Harris could be more effective, and better positioned for an ongoing political career, as U.S. attorney general. ‘Given the department’s current disarray under William Barr, just showing up and being halfway sane will make the new AG a hero,’ he wrote. ‘Best of all, being attorney general would give Harris enough distance from the White House to still be a viable candidate for the top slot in 2024 or 2028, no matter what the state of the nation.’” • Oof. I wonder who told Brown to give the word to Harris? Brown speaking: “I could not love thee (Dear) so much,. Lov’d I not Honour Barack more.”

Biden (D)(2): “Millions Spent to Target Elusive Obama-to-Trump Voters in Pennsylvania” [Bloomberg]. “Super PACs are pouring millions of dollars into advertising to target white, rural and working class voters who swung from Barack Obama in 2012 to Donald Trump in 2016, a bloc that is critical to winning the White House this year. Nowhere is this more evident than in Pennsylvania, which so-called Obama-Trump voters narrowly turned red in 2016. More than $11.4 million in ads have been booked to run there in August, more than in any other state.” • Lol, we’ve been told for four years that these voters are essentially racist. Now, apparently, a PAC that’s clever about advertising can flip them.

Biden (D)(3): The Democrat National Convention is going to be a fun-filled barrel of laughs:

Biden (D)(4): “The Democratic Party Platform Needs a Pandemic Plank” [The Nation]. “Absent a new and far more effective mobilization, both medical and social, on current evidence the pandemic will not recede. It will instead wreak havoc on American life for years. Given the lingering effects of the disease on many who recover, the costs in health, as well as lives lost, will multiply.” To be fair, the authors are indicting the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force report, not Biden only. That said: “The countries that are failing—right now including Brazil, Russia, India, and the United States—are those with governments that do not command widespread trust. This problem is compounded by the toxic role of politics and public image-making, so that the appearance of success counts more than success itself, and illusions of reopening and recovery count more than facts. This breakdown can be repaired only by dramatic, radical public action, mobilizing the whole population—effectively, for the duration—as a matter of survival, such as seen on only three occasions in US history: in 1861, at the start of the Civil War; in 1933, at the launch of the New Deal; and in 1941, at the start of World War II.” • Does anybody believe that a Biden administration will be able to do mobilize anything?

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie’s revolution will outlive Bernie” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. “Back in May, establishment reporters were writing obituaries for the left’s attempt to take over the Democratic Party…. Now it’s August and, with several more rounds of primaries gone past, a good time to take stock. Democratic socialists AOC and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) obliterated their primary challengers easily. Progressive Mondaire Jones won an open primary in New York, Jamaal Bowman defeated longtime incumbent and chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), and Black Lives Matter activist Cori Bush ousted the moderate incumbent Rep. William Lacy Clay in St. Louis. Leftist candidates have also made strides at the state and local levels in New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. It seems predictions of the left’s demise were somewhat premature. This year’s fight is not over — Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) has her own primary in a few days, among others — but it is clear that the movement Bernie Sanders helped build will outlast him.” • And this was written before Marquita Bradshaw’s victory in Tennessee, which nobody saw coming.

Trump (R)(1): “Trump antagonizes GOP megadonor Adelson in heated phone call” [Politico]. “The 87-year-old casino mogul had reached out to Trump to talk about the coronavirus relief bill and the economy. But then Trump brought the conversation around to the campaign and confronted Adelson about why he wasn’t doing more to bolster his reelection, according to three people with direct knowledge of the call. One of the people said it was apparent the president had no idea how much Adelson, who’s donated tens of millions of dollars to pro-Trump efforts over the years, had helped him. Adelson chose not to come back at Trump.”

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“Trump, Biden tactical battle intensifies” [The Hill]. “President Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC) are undertaking an aggressive ground strategy by sending mask-wearing field staffers to knock on doors to counter Democrat Joe Biden’s onslaught of over-the-air advertisements…. Biden’s staffers are not knocking on doors, believing it’s unsafe and a turnoff for voters during the pandemic. Instead, the campaign is focused on ensuring Democrats vote by mail through a fast-growing phone and virtual outreach program they say reached more than 3.5 million people last week.”

“Progressives Score New Wins in Prosecutor Elections, Adding to the Movement’s Breadth” [The Appeal]. “Meet the civil rights attorney, the former public defender, and the Bernie Sanders-endorsed lawyer who are set to become prosecutors in Michigan, Arizona, and Colorado. ‘Maybe we do teach the liberal bastions how things can be done by these country bumpkins over here,’ said one. The circle of progressives elected to prosecutors’ offices on platforms of cutting incarceration will gain three new members come 2021, due to elections and related events over the past week. In Pima County (Tucson), Arizona, and Washtenaw County (Ann Arbor), Michigan, longtime chief prosecutors with punitive records retired this year, triggering competitive three-way Democratic primaries to replace them. And in both counties, the most progressive candidate prevailed on Tuesday. Although this only secures them the nomination, Laura Conover and Eli Savit are each set to win office in November since no one has filed to run against them.” • Interestingly, the same story from a different angle–

“Progressive Prosecutor Movement Makes Major Gains in Democratic Primaries” [The Intercept]. “The movement to oust hard-line prosecutors and replace them with committed reformers first broke out in Philadelphia, with the 2017 victory of radical criminal defense attorney Larry Krasner in the race for district attorney. Since then, the push has met with major successes, and several near-misses, particularly in Dallas, Texas, and Queens, New York. On Tuesday night, the movement realized a major step forward, with reformist prosecutors, including McDonald, winning Democratic primaries in counties covering at least 3 million people in four states.” • So Kamala Harris is a dinosaur….


“Pelosi says election threats from Russia, China aren’t equal” [Associated Press]. “‘They’re not equivalent,’ said Pelosi, D-Calif. ‘Russia is actively 24/7 interfering in our election. They did so in 2016, and they are doing so now.’ She urged intelligence agencies to ‘put more information out there’ on the specific nature of the threats.” • I wish the intelligence community would stop interfering in our elections. Anyhow, especially given a long count after election day, things are shaping up as Godzilla (RussiaGate, Democrats) vs. Mothra (Vote-by-Mail, Republicans). Should be exciting.

Realignment and Legitimacy

People’s Convention:

“Meet the white, middle-class Pinterest moms who believe Plandemic” [Guardian]. “When a childhood friend, a stay-at-home mom with a flourishing Pinterest account, sent me a copy of Plandemic – a 26-minute viral video falsely claiming manipulated origins of the coronavirus and the medical dangers of vaccines – I realized that conspiracy sympathizers weren’t as fringe as I thought. My friend was the third person, along with a work colleague and neighbor who is a doctor, to recently jump into the conspiracy theory abyss. I often dismissed conspiracy adherents as delusional cult members. But this was different. I knew these women. They were bright and led full, busy lives. All three fit the same profile: college-educated, white women, middle class. All organic, health food advocates with aversions to mandatory child vaccinations…. Dismissing this conspiracy group, as we did with small signs of discontent and populist uprisings prior to the 2016 election, would be another egregious error. Exit polls indicate that 44% of white college graduates voted for Trump, 52% white women in general voted for Trump – nine points ahead of Hillary Clinton. It’s difficult to determine the exact impact this added anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theory groups will have on the election, but there is no doubt they are motivated. “Trump is our only hope in 2020,” anti-vaxxers and current Covid skeptics often post on Facebook.” • This thread may be germane:

“Don’t be surprised when adults do, too.”

“American fascism?” [El Pais]. “The United States, even under the Trump administration, is at this moment not a fascist regime. Though protestors on the street are facing violent retaliation from federal forces, one can criticize the ruling party and its leader without fear of repercussion. The courts, while stacked with extreme partisan Trump appointees, still operate relatively independently. The Congress of the United States is controlled by the opposition party. If we are thinking about regimes, the Trump administration does not preside over a fascist regime.” But: “However, it would be naïve to be concerned only about regimes that are already fascist. If we only ever worried about regimes that were fascist, we would be helpless in the face of social and political movements that sought eventually to transform liberal democracies in more fascist directions…. it is not the particular actions taken by the Trump administration, disturbing as they may be, that are the cause for the most alarm. It is rather that these actions are taking place in the context of a governing political party that has shown tremendous ruthlessness over a long period in the service of controlling a country in which it has minority support. And they are taking place in a country that has failed to dismantle the security apparatus it developed in a failed Middle Eastern imperialist adventure. This security apparatus was trained to locate foreign terrorists and gang members. It has been told for several years that all undocumented residents are terrorists and gang members. And now the president has instructed them to treat peaceful American protestors as terrorists. This moment is frightening not just because of current demons, but because the country has for too long allowed its prior demons to persist undisturbed.” • Note lack of agency in “has failed to dismantle.” Revenue bills originate in the House.

“Democratic mega-donor Ed Buck faces new felonies for overdose deaths” [New York Post]. “Buck, a former fixture of southern California Democratic politics, was arrested last year after a federal grand jury approved five charges related to the deaths. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has a separate case alleging state crimes. Buck is accused of using his powerful connections to escape prior scrutiny. Critics note both men who died were poor and black.”

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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: “July 2020 Conference Board Employment Index Insignificantly Improves and Remains Deep In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index – which forecasts employment for the next 6 months recovered marginally again after the coronavirus crash with the authors saying ‘Despite increasing again, the ETI’s July results mark a small improvement compared to the gains made in May and June. The slowing momentum likely resulted from the diminishing impact of the reopening of the economy.’ [But] The bottom line is that I doubt you can forecast using traditional methods what employment will look like six months from today.”

Employment Situation: “June 2020 Headline JOLTS Job Openings Rate Improved But 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.”

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Construction: “‘Horrible sequence of mistakes’: How bullet train contractors botched a bridge project” [Los Angeles Times]. Everything is like CalPERS:

A series of errors by contractors and consultants on the California bullet train venture caused support cables to fail on a massive bridge, triggering an order to stop work that further delayed a project already years behind schedule, the Los Angeles Times has learned.

Hundreds of pages of documents obtained by The Times under a public records request show the steel supports snapped as a result of neglect, work damage, miscommunications and possible design problems.

The problems on the Road 27 bridge reveal project management hitches that have dogged the bullet train for years. The California High-Speed Rail Authority has five separate layers of consultants and contractors on the bridge. Any one of them could have identified a long series of errors, but it appears no one did so.

Oh, and:

The bridge is part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan for a 171-mile, $20.4-billion bullet train operation from Merced to Bakersfield.

Stories like this fill me with rage and despair. China built a 10,000km high-speed rail network in ten years. We can’t even build 171 miles of high speed rail from [family blogging] Merced to [family blogging] Bakersfield. We can’t even build a bridge that doesn’t collapse. Same deal on the other Coast: We can’t build a new tunnel under the Hudson for the Northeast Corridor when we know the existing tunnel is going to fail. Good thing there aren’t similar problems with all that expensive weaponry we’ve sold ourselves and our “allies.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 75 Extreme Greed (previous close: 72 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 67 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 7 at 12:00pm. Greed now extreme. Remarkable.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Earthquakes. “The largest quake since 1916 hits North Carolina” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 182. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.)

The Biosphere

“Why deforestation and extinctions make pandemics more likely” [Nature]. “But a key question over the past decade has been whether the decline in biodiversity that inevitably accompanies human expansion on the rural frontier increases the pool of pathogens that can make the jump from animals to humans. Work by Jones and others6 suggests that the answer in many cases is yes, because a loss in biodiversity usually results in a few species replacing many — and these species tend to be the ones hosting pathogens that can spread to humans…. [Ibrahima Socé Fall, an epidemiologist and head of emergency operations at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland] says the key is to align efforts by government and international agencies focused on public health, animal health, the environment and sustainable development. The latest Ebola outbreak in the DRC, which began in 2018 and ended last month, had its roots not just in disease but also in deforestation, mining, political instability and the movement of people. The goal must be to focus resources on the riskiest areas and manage interactions between people and animals, both wild and domestic, Fall says.”

Health Care

“The Great Covid-19 Versus Flu Comparison Revisited” [Bloomberg]. “After much back and forth in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, a consensus is emerging that the overall risk of dying for those infected with the disease — at least so far, in a population with an age distribution roughly similar to that of the U.S. or Europe — is about 6 or 7 in 1,000. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention upwardly revised its “best estimate” of the fatality rate in July to 0.65% from 0.26%. An occasionally updated “meta-analysis” by Australian researchers Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz and Lea Merone of all relevant studies on the disease has it at 0.68%. This isn’t much below the approximately 1% estimated in a Feb. 10 study by the Covid-19 disease-modeling group at Imperial College London, which was adopted as a provisional consensus by many in the epidemiology and public health communities. [We can] conservatively calculate an infection fatality rate of 0.065% — exactly one-tenth what the CDC currently estimates for Covid-19.” • The full article is really good and worth a read (and it’s not quite as cut-and-dried as my excerpts suggest. See, for example, the four (4) methods of figuring the “infection fatality rate to influenza.”

“Statistical dark arts endanger democracy — and life” [Nature]. “Yet there are missed opportunities. Most importantly, the referencing is below par. The authors assert that, to verify a claim, one must “dig to the source”. Why, then, does Calling Bullshit not use citation footnotes? Instead, it presents a chapter-specific alphabetized literature list and the unappealing prospect of guessing which references are relevant to what. A claim such as “Most people think they’re pretty good at spotting bullshit” might not be supported by any empirical research; it is difficult to tell (I could find no references for it in the list). Neither is there a figure listing. So how can we evaluate a graph suggesting that, around 2001, television channels Fox News and CNN had roughly similar ideological orientations — could this be balderdash? In that case, the source paper is listed at the back of the book, but I wonder how many will dig for it.”

“Your Old Radiator Is a Pandemic-Fighting Weapon” [Bloomberg]. “The Spanish Influenza, which caused just over 20,000 deaths in New York City alone, “changed heating once and for all.” That’s according to Dan Holohan, a retired writer, consultant, and researcher with extensive knowledge of heating systems and steam heating. (Among his many tomes on the topic: The Lost Art of Steam Heating, from 1992.) Most radiator systems appeared in major American cities like New York City in the first third of the 20th century. This golden age of steam heat didn’t merely coincide with that pandemic: Beliefs about how to fight airborne illness influenced the design of heating systems, and created a persistent pain point for those who’ve cohabitated with a cranky old radiator. …. According to Holohan’s research, the Board of Health in New York City ordered that windows should remain open to provide ventilation, even in cold weather. In response, engineers began devising heating systems with this extreme use case in mind. Steam heating and radiators were designed to heat buildings on the coldest day of the year with all the windows open. Anybody who’s thrown their windows open in January, when their apartment is stifling, is, in an odd way, replicating what engineers hoped would happen a century ago.” • Amazing! My “This Old House” is steam-heated and I love the engineering’s ruggedness and simplicity; once you get steam properly tuned, it works great. I bought Holohan’s book to understand my system, and I highly recommend it.

“Statement from Yale Faculty on Hydroxychloroquine and its Use in COVID-19” [Medium]. • A statement against Harvey Risch’s defense of Hydroxychloroquine here. I think Risch’s central claim is this: “I myself know of two doctors who have saved the lives of hundreds of patients with these medications, but are now fighting state medical boards to save their licenses and reputations.” If this claim is correct, at some point the data will be produced. I am with Tricia Greenhalgh: “In a complex system, the question driving scientific inquiry is not ‘what is the effect size and is it statistically significant once other variables have been controlled for?’ but ‘does this intervention contribute, along with other factors, to a desirable outcome?’”

“Antiviral activity of green tea and black tea polyphenols in prophylaxis and treatment of COVID-19: A review” [Phytomedicine]. From the conclusion: “This review summarizes the available reports and evidences which support the use of tea polyphenols as potential candidates in prophylaxis and treatment of COVID-19.” • Worth noting that Asian, South Asian, and Southeast Asian countries tend to drink more tea than Western Countries — though I suppose the UK drinks a lot of tea, too (though not green tea. Black tea?).

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Police State Watch

Learning from Hong Kong:

Without graffitti and street art, this exhibit doesn’t really look like the Portland Protests on the ground. There, I have an aesthetic reaction, and its negative. That probably says more about me than anything else. I did not, however, have such a reaction with any of the Occupy movements.


When I had my first Mac I got hooked for three days some sort of early Tetris variant. It was clear I would never get anything done if I kept on with computer games, so I swore off them. Thread:

Remember when you could actually own software? Anyhow, lots of history on this thread!

Feral Hog Watch

About the boar that stole the nude guy’s laptop the other day:

Who said that Art History degree was worthless?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Black Americans Now Account for the Highest Increase in Gun Sales of Any Demographic” [Black Enterprise]. “Overall, gun sales have been surging across the United States. According to The Brookings Institution, nearly 3 million firearms had been purchased since March when the public health crisis caused the shut down of major cities across the U.S….. ‘The highest overall firearm sales increase comes from Black men and women, who show a 58.2% increase in purchases during the first six months of 2020 versus the same period last year,’ wrote Jim Curcuruto, National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) director of Research and Market Development, in his report according to AOL News. ‘Bottom line is that there has never been a sustained surge in firearm sales quite like what we are in the midst of.’” • I bet a bipartisan consensus for gun control will shortly emerge…

Guillotine Watch

Marie Antoinette would love it:

“Passports for purchase: How the elite get through a pandemic” [CNN]. “For most people, the coronavirus pandemic has meant fewer travel options. Not so for super-rich families who are increasingly using their money to cross borders that would otherwise be closed to them. This is the elite world of investment migration, where passport applications are based not on nationality or citizenship, but on wealth and the willingness to move it around the planet. These so-called citizen-by-investment programs, or CIPs, are currently a growth industry, as are residence-by-investment arrangements, also known as ‘golden visas.’ They’re a way for ultra-rich individuals to not only diversify their portfolio by moving their money into a country, but also receive the benefits of citizenship, including a new passport. Over the past five to 10 years, the primary motivations amongst CIP participants — who tend to have a net worth of anywhere from $2 million to over $50 million — have been freedom of movement, tax benefits and lifestyle factors, such as better education or civil liberties. But with Covid-19 dramatically transforming our 2020, some elite families are also considering healthcare, pandemic responses and potential safe havens to ensure they have a backup plan for the future.” • When, oh when, will there be a Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong, so the likes of me can just buy a passport?

Class Warfare

Massive takedown. Thread:

News of the Wired

“Can Bullet Journaling Save You?” [The New Yorker]. • Bullet journaling seems sort of like scrapbooking for professionals to me, but maybe I’m being too harsh. Do any NC readers keep a bullet journal?

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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 (AC):

AC writes: “Some saguaros outside Tucson, AZ (the saguaros were shot with an infrared filter which turns their green surfaces white…).” Onward and upward!” My mentor, NC commenter the late Isolato was quite taken with infrared.

Regarding Kinnucan’s millet the other day, 1 SK via email:


You got lucky to plant MILLET. It is a great grain nutritionally and healthwise.

You can EAT IT instead of rice or wheat flour products in everything like bread, pancake Pasta, cereals cookie etc. It has more fiber which is in the entire grain (not only on the surface) and is helpful with diabetes prevention and also naturally facilitates elimination.

It is not just for the birds and has been consumed for centuries in Asian countries, like India. Plant requires lot less water to grow.

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