/2:00PM Water Cooler 11/13/2020

2:00PM Water Cooler 11/13/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Friday the 13th, hoo boy! A bit more from the Augean stables coming shortly… –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Owls seem to be really hard to record, for some reason.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

Case count by United States region:

Test positivity by region:

Case fatality rate by region:

We’ll need to watch this to see if it changes with the increased case count.

Hospitalization by region:


“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

Election Legitimacy

“Karl Rove: Trump lawsuits won’t change election’s outcome” [The HIll]. “Election analysts have said Biden’s margins are too large to make a material difference in several of the states in which Trump is mounting challenges. ‘There is no evidence of that so far,’ Rove wrote. ‘Unless some emerges quickly, the President’s chances in court will decline precipitously when states start certifying results.’ Rove, who served in former President George W. Bush’s administration and appears regularly as a political analyst on Fox News, said Trump and his team have a right to ensure every vote in the election was legally cast. [Rove called for] Trump to concede the election once all of his legal options have been exhausted.” • And Rove should know…

PA: “Pennsylvania Court Tosses Some Mail-In Ballots With ID Fixes” [Bloomberg]. “Pennsylvania mail-in voters who took advantage of a deadline extension to provide missing proof of identification won’t have their ballots counted in the final tally. Commonwealth Court Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt ruled Thursday that Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar lacked the authority to extend the original Nov. 9 deadline for proof of ID by 3 days. The ruling means the battleground state that’s already been declared for President-elect Joe Biden can’t count ballots from voters who submitted missing identification between Nov. 10 and Nov. 12. Ballots with “cured” ID issues received before that aren’t being challenged…. It’s not clear how many ballots fit that bill, though state officials have said suits over defective ballots can’t change the outcome of the race, in which Biden had a lead on Thursday of 55,978 votes.”

2020 Democrats in Disarray

That’s why they pay consultants the big bucks (1):

That’s why they pay consultants the big bucks (2):

Stop saying “stop saying”:

“Elissa Slotkin Braces for a Democratic Civil War” [Politico]. Slotkin should know; she’s a CIA Democrat. “She fears that Democrats have created a barrier to entry, largely along cultural lines, that makes the party fundamentally unwelcoming to anyone with supposedly retrograde views of the world around them. This is not merely about race and racism. The schisms go far deeper, to matters of faith and conscience, economic freedom and individual liberty. Indeed, for the heavy losses Trump sustained among affluent college-educated whites, he nearly won a second term because of his gains with Black and brown voters. That these Americans were willing to support Trump, often in spite of his rhetoric, reveals an uncomfortable truth for the left.” • I can’t think of another publication that more relentlessly confuses liberals and left than Politico. And I’m noticing CIA Democrats all over my Twitter feed lately. Odd.

“Joe Biden’s Likely Pick to Lead His Party” [The Atlantic]. Wait, let me guess. A loser. Yep: “there’s only one name on leading Democrats’ list for Democratic National Committee chair: Jaime Harrison, who lost a race for U.S. Senate in South Carolina last week…. Harrison became nationally known this year during his run against Senator Lindsey Graham, as he set fundraising records and became a cause for Democrats far beyond his state. Graham ultimately won by a much-wider-than-expected 10-point margin… Harrison has the support of James Clyburn….” • And he’s not just a loser, he’s worked for the Podesta Group: “His clients at the Podesta Group included banks, such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo, Berkshire Hathaway, pharmaceutical companies, casinos, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, and Walmart.” He’s perfect!

Biden Transition

“One Third of Biden’s Pentagon Transition Team Hails From Organizations Financed by the Weapons Industry” [In These Times]. “Of the 23 peo­ple who com­prise the Depart­ment of Defense agency review team, eight of them — or just over a third — list their ​”most recent employ­ment” as orga­ni­za­tions, think tanks or com­pa­nies that either direct­ly receive mon­ey from the weapons indus­try, or are part of this indus­try.” • Shocker!


Trump (R)(1): “Why Trump’s Suburban Strategy Failed” [Bloomberg]. “While the majority of White women voted for Trump in 2020, even more so than in 2016, pre-election polling suggested that suburban women were likely to be among his largest defectors. There are likely a number of a reasons for this, but one of them is that Trump’s strategy fundamentally misunderstood the suburbanites he was talking to. Many White suburbanites already had Black and brown neighbors that Trump told them to fear, shared similar concerns around the lives lost to Covid-19, and had protests over anti-Black police violence happening right outside their doorsteps. Many were unconvinced that low-income housing would result in crime or falling property values and supported racially integrated neighborhoods. In the battleground suburbs of Minneapolis and Wisconsin, polls showed that White women were not particularly concerned about affordable housing in their backyards. In the Philadelphia suburbs, Trump’s rhetoric on race galvanized White suburban women to organize against him. In Portland, White suburban moms and dads came out with leaf blowers to keep police from attacking Black and brown protesters.”

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AK: “Sullivan wins re-election in Alaska, taking U.S. Senate battle down to Georgia” [Reuters]. “U.S. Republican Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska won re-election, Edison Research and television networks projected on Wednesday, leaving control of the Senate to be determined in January by two runoff elections in Georgia.”


“=What is John Brennan So Worried About?” [Ray McGovern, Consortium News]. “Brennan appeared this week on both CNN and MSNBC to spread alarm about what Trump might do as he continues to contest the election results and appoints new people at Defense, NSA (and possibly CIA) who may do his bidding. Brennan warned on CNN that it was ‘very, very worrisome’ that Trump ‘is just very unpredictable now … like a cornered cat — tiger. And he’s going to lash out.’ Brennan told MSNBC he was worried that Trump has called for the ‘wholesale declassification of intelligence in order to further his own political interests.’” • You say “wholesale declassification of intelligence” like that’s a bad thing.

Realignment and Legitimacy

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.

Consumer Sentiment: “Preliminary November 2020 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Significantly Declines Due To Republican Consumers” [Econintersect]. “Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin, makes the following comments: ‘Consumer sentiment fell in early November as consumers judged future economic prospects less favorably, while their assessments of current economic conditions remained largely unchanged. The outcome of the presidential election as well as the resurgence in covid infections and deaths were responsible for the early November decline. Interviews conducted following the election recorded a substantial negative shift in the Expectations Index among Republicans, but recorded no gain among Democrats. It is likely that Democrats’ fears about the covid resurgence offset gains in economic expectations: 59% of Democrats reported that their normal life had changed to a great extent due to the coronavirus compared with just 34% among Republicans. The gap in expectations closed somewhat due to the coronavirus and the partisan shift in expectations that began well before the election. Note that Republicans now voice the least favorable economic expectations since Trump took office, and Democrats have voiced more positive expectations….

Inflation: “October 2020 Producer Price Final Demand Continues To Show Little Year-over-Year Growth” [Econintersect]. “Year-over-year inflation pressures remain soft as this index is barely in expansion.”

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Dry Bulk Market Receives Boost From US Election Outcome Hellenic Shipping News

Tech: “macOS Big Sur launch appears to cause temporary slowdown in even non-Big Sur Macs” [Ars Technica]. “Mac users today began experiencing unexpected issues that included apps taking minutes to launch, stuttering and non-responsiveness throughout macOS, and other problems. The issues seemed to begin close to the time when Apple began rolling out the new version of macOS, Big Sur—but it affected users of other versions of macOS, like Catalina and Mojave… It didn’t take long for some Mac users to note that trustd—a macOS process responsible for checking with Apple’s servers to confirm that an app is notarized—was attempting to contact a host named ocsp.apple.com but failing repeatedly. This resulted in systemwide slowdowns as apps attempted to launch, among other things.” • Reflections on trusting trustd–

Tech: “Your Computer Isn’t Yours” [Jeffrey Paul]. “On modern versions of macOS, you simply can’t power on your computer, launch a text editor or eBook reader, and write or read, without a log of your activity being transmitted and stored…. It turns out that in the current version of the macOS, the OS sends to Apple a hash (unique identifier) of each and every program you run, when you run it. Lots of people didn’t realize this, because it’s silent and invisible and it fails instantly and gracefully when you’re offline, but today the server got really slow and it didn’t hit the fail-fast code path, and everyone’s apps failed to open if they were connected to the internet…. The day that Stallman and Doctorow have been warning us about has arrived this week. It’s been a slow and gradual process, but we are finally here.” • Not really news, but clearly and forcefully put.=

Mr. Market: “Pfizer vaccine news sparks $44.5 billion flood into the stock market—its biggest weekly inflow ever, says BofA” [MarketWatch]. ” How seismic was the stock-market move that kicked off the week following news of effective coronavirus vaccine candidate? It was the best week ever for inflows, according to BofA Global Research, in a report dated Thursday but released broadly on Friday. The investment management firm reported some $44.5 billion in flows into equity funds for the week, exceeding a flood of funds that poured into stocks back near the spring of 2018. About $38.7 billion of investor funds were pumped into exchange-traded funds, while $5.7 billion flowed into mutual funds. Investors also reduced their cash holdings by $17.8 billion, according to the report led by Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist. Meanwhile, the analysts noted that flows into government bonds yielding less than 0% surged to around $17 trillion, approaching the highest since late 2019.” • $17 trillion! That’s real money!

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 55 Neutral (previous close: 56 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 40 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 13 at 12:38pm.

The Biosphere

“Using Wolves as First Responders Against a Deadly Brain Disease” [New York Times]. • Will it work in the Beltway?

Health Care

“‘Breakthrough Finding’ Reveals Why Certain COVID Patients Die” [Kaiser Health News]. “In an international study in Science, 10% of nearly 1,000 COVID patients who developed life-threatening pneumonia had antibodies that disable key immune system proteins called interferons. These antibodies — known as autoantibodies because they attack the body itself — were not found at all in 663 people with mild or asymptomatic COVID infections. Only four of 1,227 healthy individuals had the autoantibodies. The study, published on Oct. 23, was led by the COVID Human Genetic Effort, which includes 200 research centers in 40 countries. Significantly, patients didn’t make autoantibodies in response to the virus. Instead, they appeared to have had them before the pandemic even began, said Paul Bastard, the antibody study’s lead author, also a researcher at Rockefeller University. For reasons that researchers don’t understand, the autoantibodies never caused a problem until patients were infected with COVID-19, Bastard said. Somehow, the novel coronavirus, or the immune response it triggered, appears to have set them in motion. ‘Before COVID, their condition was silent,’ Bastard said. “Most of them hadn’t gotten sick before.”

“Fewer people say they would take a COVID-19 vaccine now than 3 months ago” [World Economic Forum]. “But this latest World Economic Forum-Ipsos survey shows that confidence in taking a COVID-19 vaccine has dropped since August, with fewer people globally saying they’d get one. The survey shows that on average, across 15 countries, 73% of adults strongly or somewhat agree with the statement “if a vaccine for COVID-19 were available, I would get it”. 3 months ago, that figure was 77%. At the time, the shortfall in vaccine confidence was significant enough to be seen to compromise the effectiveness of seeing an end to the pandemic. Confidence is now down by 4 points compared to three months ago. Vaccination intent has declined in 10 of the 15 countries, most of all China, Australia, Spain, and Brazil. More than four in five in India, mainland China, South Korea, and Brazil, however, say they would get a vaccine if available – compared to just over half in France and about two in three in the US, Spain, Italy, South Africa, Japan, and Germany.”

“Poorer nations face vaccine wait as West locks down supply” [Agence France Presse]. “Hailed this week as a pandemic game-changer, the new Covid-19 vaccine offered countries that had pre-ordered doses a potential escape from a cycle of lockdowns and new waves of sickness and death. But while richer nations plan their vaccination programmes through the end of 2021, experts warn that poorer and developing countries face hurdles that could deny billions the first proven protection against the coronavirus. Vaccine developers Pfizer and BioNTech plan to roll out the first doses within weeks, once they receive emergency use permissions from drug agencies. They expect to have 1.3 billion doses ready next year. The results of phase 3 clinical trials showed their mRNA vaccine was 90 percent effective in preventing Covid-19 symptoms and did not produce adverse side effects among thousands of volunteers.” • They didn’t effing “show it.” A press release asserted it. We haven’t seen any data.

“Pathfinder: Alabama health officer Dr. Scott Harris on a mission to guide state through COVID crisis” [Montgomery Advertiser]. “[W]ith new COVID-19 cases surging nationwide, [Dr. Scott Harris] would stand in his usual spot beside the governor as she announces that Alabama is extending its statewide mask order into December. It would remain the only state among its southeastern neighbors with such a mandate, a fact that has been widely shared with disdain and anger by anti-maskers. Ivey would also announce that the state is relaxing occupancy restrictions on businesses where masks, distancing and other sanitation rules can be maintained. More than 1,000 comments would flood the livestream of the announcement on Ivey’s official Facebook page — rage, insults, debunked misinformation, even warnings of violence. Death threats throughout the pandemic have forced Harris, a grandfather from Talladega who grew up admiring his small-town family doctor, to wear a bulletproof vest at some public appearances.”

“Stanford vs. Harvard: Two Famous Biz Schools’ Opposing Tactics on COVID” [Kaiser Health News]. “But the guts of [Harvard’s] instructions were similar to those at Stanford. Both Harvard and Stanford severely restricted who could be on campus at any given time, limiting access to students, staff members and preapproved visitors. Both required that anyone living on campus report their health daily through an online portal, checking for any symptoms that could be caused by COVID-19. Both required face coverings when outside on campus — even, a Harvard missive said, in situations ‘when physical distancing from others can be maintained.’” • Not sure how representative the Harvard and Stanford business school student bodies are, however…

Uh oh:

“Effect of exercise training for five years on all cause mortality in older adults—the Generation 100 study: randomised controlled trial” [‘British Medical Journal]. Shorter: “It’s never too late for older adults to start exercising.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

“Is America in Decline?” [J. Bradford DeLong and Om Malik, pairagraph]. DeLong: “As one of my friends from a not-rich part of East Asia says: ‘Students from my country come to the U.S. these days. They see dirty cities, lousy infrastructure, and the political clown show on TV, and an insular people clinging to their guns and their gods who boast about how they are the greatest people in the world without knowing anything about what is going on outside. They come back and tell me: ‘We have nothing to learn from those people! Why did you send me there?’” Malik: “There is no shame in admitting that we are in need of self-improvement. We must begin by addressing the horror of this year, which has exposed a range of problems. I am confident that long-term and even permanent solutions to many of these problems exist. We can and will be better. Maybe it is my day job, or perhaps it is the delusion of an immigrant’s mind, but I believe the tradition of dreaming up something from nothing is still alive in this country. And that is what keeps me betting on America.”

Zeitgeist Watch


And a little too on-the-nose as a metaphor for the our elites….

News of the Wired

Gratitude changes your attitude:

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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 (LR):

LR My boyfriend took this picture, but I love the composition and especially how the focus is on the clothespins. Boganvilla Santa Rita (double flowered) in a backyard in Montevideo Uruguay.”

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