2:00PM Water Cooler 10/5/2020 | naked capitalism

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day



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 United States regions:

Concerning, steady rise in the Midwest….

Here are the Swing States as I conceive them (see below):

Texas bounces (more data woes?), Wisconsin continues steady rise…

91-DIVOC has a new chart on the Big 10 schools:

What a variation! Quite a story here, no doubt, for somebody to write….

MA: “The state once used this measure to calculate coronavirus test positivity. Here’s what it says now” [Boston Globe]. “The state’s closely watched daily COVID-19 data dashboard highlights a measure that simply divides the number of positive tests by the number of total tests administered. Every day on Page 2 of its report, the state recalculates a weekly average, summing the number of positive tests for the past seven days and dividing them by total tests administered. That measure has held steady at roughly 1 percent for weeks. But the overall number of negative tests each day has dramatically increased due to a relatively recent surge in the repeated testing of asymptomatic people, such as students on college campuses. That has played a role in driving this rate down. A different story emerges when you remove the repeated tests from the equation and show the rate of positive tests per people tested, rather than positive tests per total tests administered. The seven-day rate of positive tests per people tested, according to data available elsewhere on the state’s website, has been climbing since late August, reaching 3.2 percent in recent days.” • So the students came back, and…

OR: “Coronavirus in Oregon: 220 new cases, four deaths; state identifies six schools with cases” [Oregon Live]. “Since it began: Oregon has reported 33,509 confirmed or presumed infections and 559 deaths, among the lowest totals in the nation. To date, 684,235 Oregonians have been tested.” • Since Federalism, modified rapture, has enabled an enormous natural experiment in Covid policy, it would be nice if a study appeared summarizing the lessons learned to date. I haven’t seen such a study, but did I miss it? Readers?


“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. September 21: No changes. September 22: Ohio moves from Toss-up to Leans Republican. September 25: Ohio moves from Leans Republican to Toss-up. September 30: Iowa moves from Leans Republican to Toss-up. . For all the sturm and drang, and the polls, the consensus on the electoral college remains remarkably static: Biden ahead, Trump within striking distance. Of course, if Trump is still in striking distance on Election Day, that will count as a loss. Maybe.

The election countdown:

Here 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.

And here are mail-in voting ruies, which naturally differ state by state.

NEW “2020 General Election Early Vote Statistics” [U.S. Elections Project (SlayTheSmaugs)].

“How to Vote in 2020: Everything You Need to Know” [Bloomberg]. “Casting a ballot in the U.S. isn’t always easy, with a complex web of varying state rules governing how and when you can vote. The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced even more complexity in 2020, as many states have made significant changes to allow for more early voting or voting by mail. More changes could come as lawsuits in several states wind their way through the courts. That’s why Bloomberg News is answering these critical questions so you’ll know what you need to do to make sure your vote is counted in the 2020 election.”

Here are is an enormous spreadsheet on voting equipment, so you can check your own jurisdiction (hat tip, UserFriendly. I should really aggregate these onto a map…).

* * *


Lambert here: Despite liberal Democrat triumphalism, note the changes in the Electoral College map above. National polls are meaningless with respect to actual election results, as one would think liberal Democrats and the press would have learned from 2016.

Trump’s Case of Covid

“Meadows: Decision on Trump’s discharge to be made later today” [NBC]. “White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told NBC News on Monday morning that a decision on whether to discharge President Trump from the hospital ‘will be made later today between the president and his medical team.’ In an interview on Fox News, Meadows said he was ‘optimistic’ that Trump would be released, but that the president’s doctors will perform an evaluation sometime late morning, and then Trump, in consultation with the doctors, will make a decision.” • Stoller:

“UNLOCKED: The F**k It List (w/ special guest Aaron Thorpe)” (podcast) [Trillbilly Worker’s Party]. • A hilarious play-by-play of the media coverage since the news broke.

“Why the White House’s testing-only strategy to shield Trump from Covid-19 fell short” [Stat!] This is good reporting, unsurprisingly not from the mainstream: “By and large, the administration’s only precaution has been the frequent use of Abbott’s ID Now diagnostic test: West Wing staffers, guests, and reporters have been required to take rapid Covid-19 tests upon entering White House grounds, but little else. Aides have frequently appeared maskless, even in cramped indoor spaces. Though epidemiology experts had cast doubt on the White House’s testing-only strategy since long before Trump’s positive test, health secretary Alex Azar doubled down on the Trump family’s testing-only strategy during a congressional hearing on Friday. ‘Now, the first family and the protective aspect around the president is a different situation than the rest of us because of the protocols around the first family,” said Azar, the administration’s top health official. Other Americans, he added, should wear masks, practice social distancing, and wear face coverings.” • The key point: “Beyond highlighting the limitations of testing as a sole preventive strategy, Trump’s positive test also calls attention to the unreliability of the diagnostic tests themselves. For months, the White House has relied on Abbott’s ID Now Covid-19 tests, which return results within five to 15 minutes of sample collection… Those tests have been criticized for their high detection limit — in other words, they only return positive results if individuals tested submit samples with large amounts of viral material. As a result, it’s possible that early in the course of an infection, or as an infection is waning, the test could return a result even if its subject is still contagious.” • And more from KHN on the tests used–

“Inside the Flawed White House Testing Scheme That Did Not Protect Trump” [Kaiser Health News]. “The White House has been using a new antigen test from Abbott Laboratories to screen its staff for COVID-19, according to two administration officials. The test, known as BinaxNOW, received an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration in August. It produces results in 15 minutes. Yet little is independently known about how effective it is. According to the company, the test is 97% accurate in detecting positives and 98.5% accurate in identifying those without disease. Abbott’s stated performance of its antigen test was based on examining people within seven days of COVID symptoms appearing.”

“The White House hoped testing would keep the coronavirus out — but it didn’t” [CNBC]. “Public health specialists, including Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir, who leads the U.S. testing effort, have long emphasized that testing alone is not a public health intervention. It should be implemented, they’ve said, alongside strategies like masking, social distancing, washing of hands and the quarantining of suspected patients.” • The truly weird thing about all of this is that Trump is, in fact, if not an obsessive hands-washer, at least a concerned one. Politico, “The Purell presidency: Trump aides learn the president’s real red line“: ‘He asks visitors if they’d like to wash their hands in a bathroom near the Oval Office. He’ll send a military doctor to help an aide caught coughing on Air Force One. And the first thing he often tells his body man upon entering the Beast after shaking countless hands at campaign events: ‘Give me the stuff’ — an immediate squirt of Purell. Two and a half years into his term, President Donald Trump is solidifying his standing as the most germ-conscious man to ever lead the free world. His aversion shows up in meetings at the White House, on the campaign trail and at 30,000 feet. And everyone close to Trump knows the president’s true red line. ‘If you’re the perpetrator of a cough or of a sneeze or any kind of thing that makes you look sick, you get that look,’ said a former Trump campaign official. ‘You get the scowl. You get the response of — he’ll put a hand up in a gesture of, you should be backing away from him, you should be more considerate and you should extricate yourself from the situation.’ The president’s admitted germaphobia has been a fixture throughout his career — from real-estate deal rooms to casino floors — and it’s now popping up in more public ways.” • Purell cannot claim efficacy against Covid because of FDA restrictions, but Canada lists PURELL®Advanced Hand Rub Gel as “accepted under Covid-19 interim measures.’” • Here is Zeyneb Tufecki on WHO Guidelines:

Here also is WHO on masks:

So, if you believe in droplet transmission (Trump avoids people who cough), and you believe in hand-washing with hand-sanitizers (Trump uses them obessively), you don’t believe in aerosols (WHO doesn’t), you believe three feet of social distancing is enough (WHO does), and you don’t believe in widespread public use of masks (WHO doesn’t), then you can (1) follow “the science” and (2) behave as Trump did, even (3) adding a redundant layer with frequent testing. Since I believe in public health, and also believe that the aerosol paradigm has overthrown the droplet paradigm, and therefore believe that masking and attention to ventilation are critical, I think Trump’s behavior is as wrong as it can be. But the yammering and frothing and stamping in the press is absolutely not helpful in determining what actually happened (which would obviously provide lessons for other places where governing and politics are done).

Biden (D)(1): The Great Assimilation™ continues:

Obama drank that glass of Flint water, so everything’s OK, right? It’s like Michelle accepting candy from Bush.

Biden (D)(2): “Bonus Episode: Our Next VP” (podcast) [You and Me Both with Hillary Clinton]. “In this midweek special, Hillary sits down with U.S. Senator and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris to talk about their families, their shared admiration for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and making history. And they laugh. A lot.” • I’ll bet.

Biden (D)(3): You’d think the Biden campaign would, in the spirit of unity, wish to include Sanders in their marketing collateral:

Sanders (D)(1): No no no no no:

Oops, Federal taxes do not pay for Federal spending.

Trump (R)(1): “The Missing Populist” [National Review]. “Donald Trump in 2016 ran against the Washington consensus on globalization and military engagement. In Hillary Clinton he had the perfect foil. Just as Boris Johnson would a few years later in the United Kingdom, Donald Trump broke down the electoral wall of support for his opponents by winning heavily in areas that had been hammered by globalization. This crumbling wall was the bill come due for parties on the left that had embraced globalization as an economic creed and ‘cosmopolitanism’ as their moral ethos. Filmmaker Michael Moore memorably described Trump’s success in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania as his win in the “Brexit states.”… Trump’s slogan, his policies, and his rhetoric about the “forgotten man” and “American carnage” all helped him connect with an independent type of voter who doesn’t like a GOP that seems too dominated by politicians who are comfortable in loafers and seersucker in the summer. Trump talked compassionately and forcefully about drugs in American communities, blending it with his message of economic and cultural populism. Voters rewarded him for it. If Trump loses this race, it will be because he was too self-obsessed and forgot the forgotten man that he campaigned for in 2016.”

West (I)(1): Interesting nugget:

The American Independent Party is on the California ballot to deke voters who want to be genuine independents (“no party preference”) into registering with it, meaning they can’t vote in Democrat primaries. I had no idea the AIP’s first nomination was George Wallace; I’m pleased that California’s liberal Democrats are putting Wallace’s legacy to such good use.

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: “September 2020 Conference Board Employment Index Improves But Remains Deep In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index – which forecasts employment for the next 6 months recovered marginally for the fifth month after the coronavirus crash with the authors saying ‘The labor market has rebounded better than expected, but with the virus still proliferating, it will not be able to return to its full capacity any time soon.’”

Manufacturing: “September 2020 ISM and Markit Services Surveys Remain Modestly In Expansion” [Econintersect]. “The ISM improved and remained in expansion whilst the Markit PMI marginally declined but remained in expansion. The ISM services survey is and the Markit Services index show almost similar modest growth. I have a hard time believing services are in expansion with many restaurants, bars, and gyms running nowhere near full potential.”

Tech: “SCOOP: Amazon COVID Outbreak Followed Trump Officials Helping Bezos Block Worker Safety Initiative” [David Sirota, Daily Poster]. “Amazon executives on Thursday admitted that nearly 20,000 of the company’s employees were infected or presumed infected by the coronavirus. The admission comes just months after The Daily Poster broke the news that Amazon management — with the backing of the Trump administration — shut down a shareholder initiative designed to force the retail giant to better protect the health and safety of its employees…. Late last month, Trump’s SEC passed an initiative that makes it much more difficult for shareholders to have resolutions qualify to be voted on. The higher threshold was a big win for large corporations pushing for the change.”

* * *

Mr. Market: “Global stocks rise after Trump’s doctor said he could leave hospital soon” [CNN]. “Global markets and US stock futures are rising after Trump’s physicians said that the president could be discharged from Walter Reed National Medical Center as early as Monday. A quick recovery could ease some of the huge uncertainty surrounding the US election with just four weeks left in the campaign.” • So that was what the limo ride was really about….

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 43 Fear (previous close: 40 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 49 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 5 at 12:28pm.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 181. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.)

Our Famously Free Press


Guillotine Watch

Dude from Austin gentrifying a ghost town. Thread:

“Business ethics guru accused of cheating shareholders” [Financial Times]. • This article should be more exciting than it is. This strikes me as odd, or maybe not: “[Dov Seidman’s LRN] provides ethical advice and compliance training to dozens of blue-chip businesses, which have included pharmaceuticals company Pfizer, media conglomerate Viacom, and Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes. The New York Times Company has been a client, and the paper’s star columnist Thomas Friedman has called Mr Seidman his ‘teacher and friend.’” • The cigarette maker and The Moustache of Understanding aside, the model seems to be that businessmen are fundamentally amoral, and can acquire ethics, for a fee, from an outside vendor. What would their mothers say?

Class Warfare

“Coronavirus can afflict the powerful. Yet food workers remain the most vulnerable.” [The Jeff Bezos Daily Shopper™]. • Everything’s going according to plan!

“‘There was nothing to help me’: how the pandemic has worsened opioid addiction” [Guardian]. • Everythiing’s going according to plan!

News of the Wired


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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 (AF):

AF writes: “Every year I like to try something new in my vegetable garden. This year I added Marina Di Chioggia pumpkin. Johnny’s Seeds said this pumpkin is a favorite in Venice and used for ravioli and gnocchi. This one might have been picked too early but I was so drawn to the colors and textures. Can’t wait to cook it up and see how it tastes!” ‘Tis the season!

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