2:00PM Water Cooler 11/11/2020 | naked capitalism

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Today I’m doing the Election 2020 pantry clear-out. Hopefully this is enough to get you started. There’s more, much more… –lambert UPDATE All for now…

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.

Case count by United States region:

Slight decrease in slope. Could be noise.

Test positivity by region:

I don’t understand why the sudden dip around a week ago, in every region except the (organge) Northeast (and why does the Northeast keep being the exception?)

Case fatality rate by region:

The Northeast (orange) really stands out. We’ll need to watch this to see if it changes with the increased case count.

Hospitalization by region:

It’s odd that the Northeast hospitalization rate is so low. If the third wave is due to returning students, why is the Northeast seemingly not affected, since it’s such a college-heavy area? Do Northeastern college kids not party? Also, the Northeast (green) stands out for its enormous spikes.


“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

UPDATE MI (1): “Trump Campaign Sues to Stop Michigan From Certifying Election” [Bloomberg]. “President Donald Trump’s campaign has filed another lawsuit in Michigan challenging the election results. The federal lawsuit, which the campaign said it filed late Tuesday, seeks to stop the state from certifying results that show Democrat Joe Biden leading by almost 146,000 votes. The campaign asked a judge to stop Michigan from certifying fraudulent ballots, those received after Election Day, those processed when observers weren’t present, and . At least two prior suits contesting the state’s election results have already been rejected by Michigan judges.” • There’s no way to tell if the software is defective or not, even leaving the fact that it’s proprietary. I fear a fabulously destructive decision that legitimizes digital voting, which would be in line with the general Democrat theme that “Elections in our democracy are perfect! Perfect!”

MI (2): “Claims that dead people voted went viral. These are the facts” [CNN]. “One of the supposed pieces of evidence was a list that circulated on Twitter Thursday evening allegedly containing names, birth dates, and zip codes for registered voters in Michigan. The origin of the list and the identity of the person who first made it public are not known. CNN examined 50 of the more than 14,000 names on the list by taking the first 25 names on the list and then 25 more picked at random. We ran the names through Michigan’s Voter Information database to see if they requested or returned a ballot. We then checked the names against publicly available records to see if they were indeed dead. Of the 50, 37 were indeed dead and had not voted, according to the voter information database. Five people out of the 50 had voted — and they are all still alive, according to public records accessed by CNN. The remaining eight are also alive but didn’t vote. The sample CNN reviewed is not representative, but the trend was clear — not a single one of the names examined was of a dead person voting.”

MI (3): “Republican challenge to Maricopa County election involves fewer than 200 ballots, attorneys say” [AZ Central]. “Republican officials behind a lawsuit alleging poll workers “incorrectly rejected” votes cast in person on Election Day will make their case in front of a Maricopa County Superior Court judge later this week. The defendants — Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors — also will have a chance to produce evidence and make oral arguments, according to Judge Daniel Kiley. But it appears unlikely the case would affect the outcome of the presidential vote. A lawyer for the county said fewer than 200 ballots are at issue.”

PA (1): Whoops:

PA (2): A thread on the recanting PA postal worker:

PA (3): “2020 Post-Election War Room” [Democracy Docket]. This morning I complained about the lack of a central place where all the affidavits could be stored. This looks kinda like it. So I go to the active cases in PA to look at this transcript… And it’s only three pages, not the entire transcipt (even though it’s billed as “Read the transcript of the oral argument here”). The site is run, as one might expect I suppose, by Marc Elias of Perkins Coie, of Steele Dossier fame. Elias was the general counsel for the 2016 Clinton campaign. Dudes, come on. Why not the whole transcript?

* * *

Propaganda works:

Not only did the Democrat base in the PMC achieve class consciousness in 2016-2020, they lost their minds doing it. Kidding! But not entirely…

2020 Democrats in Disarray

AOC was right. Thread:


The Florida Democrat Party is notoriously useless, and has been for years. Why has this been allowed to continue?

UPDATE “Tlaib lashes out at centrist Dems over election debacle: ‘I can’t be silent’” [Politico]. “‘We are not interested in unity that asks people to sacrifice their freedom and their rights any longer,’ said Tlaib, whose Michigan district is among the poorest in the country. ‘And if we truly want to unify our country, we have to really respect every single voice. We say that so willingly when we talk about Trump supporters, but we don’t say that willingly for my Black and brown neighbors and from LGBTQ neighbors or marginalized people.’ Only a few days after the presidential race was called, Tlaib and other progressive leaders are making it clear there will be no honeymoon for Joe Biden. They have their own takeaways from the election: Top progressive groups are circulating a postelection memo that criticizes centrists for playing into Republicans’ ‘divide-and-conquer racism.’” • Yes, I noticed AOC, when taking Democrats to task the other day, did mention racism. But not the working class.

Biden Transition

“Harris’s husband leaving law firm for role in Biden administration” [The Hill]. “‘Mr. Emhoff is working with the Biden-Harris transition team to develop the portfolio he will focus on to support the work of the administration,’ the [Biden campaign] spokesperson said.” • Oh.


UDPATE This entire section now finished.

AK: “Alaska Offers Biden the Slimmest of Hopes for a Democratic Senate” [The New Republic]. “But there’s still one more Senate race in the balance, well to the north: Alaska, where election officials will begin counting absentee ballots on Tuesday…. It’s easy enough, after witnessing the dramatic surge in mail-in Joe Biden ballots putting the Democratic president-elect over the top in a fistful of swing states, to imagine that a similar come-from-behind count could catapult Gross (a nominal independent candidate who plans to caucus with the Democrats) into the Senate.”

CA (1): “Why California Rejected Racial Preferences, Again” [The Atlantic]. “{ast week, a majority of voters in this Democratic stronghold, where no single ethnic group constitutes a majority, reaffirmed their long-standing preference for neutrality: California voters defeated Proposition 16, an attempt by progressives to remove the provision in the state constitution that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race or gender in public employment, education, and contracting. The margin of defeat, 56 to 44 percent, was striking to students of political history, because it suggests that race neutrality is more popular now than when it was initially mandated by a 1996 ballot initiative that passed by a slightly smaller margin. Disappointed progressives fear that Prop 16’s defeat will stymie their efforts to reduce racial inequality. But California voters looking to the future of their wildly diverse state were correct to conclude that permitting its officials to treat racial groups differently would be dangerous.”

CA (2): “California’s 40-Year-Old Tax Revolt Survives a Counterattack” [New York Times]. “The new law, Proposition 15, would have removed commercial properties like office buildings and industrial parks from Proposition 13’s limits, and it would have given labor and progressive groups a long-sought victory to increase funding for education and local services. The Associated Press called the result of the Nov. 3 vote on the measure on Tuesday night, when the count was 51.8 percent to 48.2 percent against it.”

GA (1): Interesting:

GA (2): Profile in courage:

GA (3): “Does Biden Really Want to Win The Senate Runoffs in Georgia?” [Policy Tensor]. “Does Biden really want Democrats to control the Senate? Or is divided government a blessing in disguise from the point of view of the unity of interests? One reason divided government may be a blessing is that it gives the Biden White House considerable leverage against ascendant progressive forces within the party. Bobby Jindal, the Indian-American governor of Louisiana, spelled it on the pages of the Journal yesterday: ‘Strange as it sounds, Mr. Biden needs a Republican Senate majority to serve as a foil. It will give him someone to blame when he proves unable to deliver on left-wing environmental, tax and health-care policies. He can’t say this publicly, but he should be rooting for the Republicans to win the Georgia Senate runoffs.’” • Rather like Cuomo.

LA (1): “Louisiana voters reject new tax break in a landslide, after opponents put on full-court press” [The Advocate]. “Louisiana lawmakers earlier this year voted overwhelmingly to ask voters to add a new tax break to the state constitution that would allow manufacturers to negotiate lower tax bills with local governments. On Tuesday, voters rejected the idea in a landslide. All 64 parishes, including GOP and Democratic strongholds, voted against it.”

MA (1): Hmm:

MA (2): “The Massachusetts Democratic Party’s dirty tricks” [Boston Globe]. “According to the investigation done by Cheryl Jacques, a lawyer and former state lawmaker, Gus Bickford, the state party chairman, encouraged a group of college Democrats to send a letter to Morse raising allegations of sexual misconduct — and to send it just weeks before the Sept. 1 state primary. That letter triggered news stories that essentially dominated the final chapter of the primary contest. The report found that Bickford also encouraged the students to talk to a reporter about the accusations. Those actions violated party rules against interference in a contested primary, the report said. Veronica Martinez, the party’s executive director, also kept ongoing contact with the college students and later told them to delete the text messages and phone records of those communications, according to the Jacques report.” • “Democrats steal primaries….”

NY (1): “After Significant Help for State Senate Democrats in 2018, Cuomo Largely Absent from 2020 Races” [Gotham Gazette]. “But as Senate Democrats faced tough races in a number of districts, including some they had won by narrow margins amid a “blue wave” two years ago, New York’s top Democrat seemed to take a relatively hands off approach and did what some believe is the bare minimum to help his party-mates defend or win new seats. Though in 2018, when he was on top of the ticket seeking a third term, Governor Andrew Cuomo was active helping Democrats flip State Senate seats in swing districts from Brooklyn to Long Island to the Hudson Valley, this year he was absent but for a handful of virtual fundraising events and robocalls. Some Democrats believe he mostly prefers the split Legislature he had for his first two terms and very much wanted to avoid the possibility of veto-proof majorities in the two legislative houses.” • Presidential timber!

TX (1): “Rio Grande Valley Republicans” [London Review of Books]. “In the end it was the economy that sunk hopes of a Democratic landslide. It was a gigantic mistake to make the election a plebiscite on Trump’s bungling of the pandemic without making an all-out effort to convince voters that a Biden administration would sustain family incomes and small businesses until Covid was defeated. The 2.2 trillion dollar relief bill passed by the House should have been the basis for an aggressive campaign, but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, allowed the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, to take it hostage and Biden, mumbling through the two presidential debates, never really crusaded to free it. Meanwhile, the third-quarter employment figures, however misleading, gave Trump an unexpected boost; they were proof, he claimed, of the shining future ahead. A new national lockdown would send that ‘recovery’ to hell. The Democrats underestimated the resonance this argument had with the shop-owning and entrepreneurial middle classes facing extinction or digestion by Amazon. It wasn’t so hard to convince bar owners, building contractors, franchise managers, small manufacturers and the like that closures were a greater evil than half a million more Covid deaths. (This is, of course, a global phenomenon: just look at the role played by hysterical small business owners in the violent protests against new lockdowns in Western Europe.) As for working people, forced every day to choose between income and health, Biden’s vow to put science in charge of the pandemic was easily spun by Republicans as proof of a economic apocalypse overseen by the dread Dr Fauci. ” • Excellent article worth reading in full. Starts with Democrat organizational blunders in South Texas, but broadens out.

TX (2): “Amid record election turnout in Tarrant County, many Latinos stayed home. Here’s why” [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]. “The turnout in precincts where Latinos make up the majority of registered voters was 35% lower than the rest of the county, according to a Star-Telegram analysis of election data…. Experts say Latinos’ concerns vary by gender, geography and national origin, and both parties have largely failed to understand or have ignored the issues that motivate each community to vote. Yolanda Gomez said she did not cast a vote because the lack of outreach by candidates made her feel like her vote doesn’t matter. Gomez, who lives and works at a hair salon in Diamond Hill, voted in 2016 but this time neither candidate connected with her. ‘They only think about the rich people on top,’ she said. ‘They don’t think about us.’” • Needless to say, that’s not what exiled Batista supporters in Miami would say…

“How Indigenous voters swung the 2020 election” [HIgh Country News]. “In Arizona and Wisconsin, Native turnout — which often leans liberal — made the difference in Biden’s slim but winning margin.” • Very interesting!

“The election-night fiasco in the states that will haunt Democrats for a decade” [Politico]. “One reason it will take a good long time to make sense of the 2020 election is that the results look very different — almost contradictory — when viewed from top-down versus bottom-up. More voters came out than ever in American history to dislodge Trump from the White House. At the same time, his party largely preserved and, in many cases, fortified its advantages deep in the states, where both establishment Republicans and a new breed of Trump loyalists had a very good election. The first question: How bad was the Democratic setback in the states? The answer, the journalists all agreed: Pretty damn bad. It was a comprehensive failure for the Democrats’ hopes of replicating the big GOP victory in 2010, which reached far down into statehouses and allowed Republicans to dominate the redistricting process that gave them a structural advantage for the decade that followed.” • Looks like Obama’s failures continue under Biden, then.

* * *

“Bernie would have already won” [Carl Beijer]. “The answer to that last one is clear: if you wanted to landslide Trump, you should have nominated Bernie Sanders. There are two basic prongs to this; let’s address them both in turn. (1). Biden’s supposed advantages over Sanders have proven to be grossly overstated. One major argument for Biden, promoted by everyone from his campaign to Lincoln Project / Never-Trump pundits, was that his candidacy would be uniquely appealing to conservatives and Republicans…. Despite highly publicized defections from Trump among elites and a historically unprecedented outreach campaign to Republicans and conservatives, Joe Biden has performed worse among these groups than Hillary Clinton did in 2016…. (2). Biden’s weaknesses were Sanders’s strengths… Biden may have slightly improved on Clinton’s poor showing with poor voters, but he is still significantly underperforming the standard set by Obama in previous years. We have good reason to believe that Sanders — running on a platform of single payer healthcare, generous welfare benefits, and other programs aimed specifically at the poor – would have fared much better…. Note that Sanders also had a higher proportion of voters among the middle income bracket: the group where Biden overperformed, winning a 13 point margin among voters that Democrats have lost since 2008. Meanwhile, the only income group that Biden tended to fare better among — the wealthiest — is the group that he lost to Trump by a decisive 11 points. These numbers correspond directly with standard socialist intuitions about how a Sanders campaign would have played out. He would have run on class war, running up his margins among the poor and middle income brackets (IE, the overwhelming majority of voters) while boxing Trump in among the wealthiest voters. … Sanders also performed strongly among another major voting group that Biden struggled with: Latinos.” • Plausible (even if it is based on exit polling).

“The difficult lessons of Democrats’ 2020 victory” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. “It is increasingly clear that, even with Trump horribly bungling the pandemic response and the ongoing economic crisis, the political background conditions were not as favorable for Biden as they seemed. Polling and reporting confirm that the strong economy of 2018-19 was very popular, as well as the CARES Act checks and boost to unemployment — the most blatant and obvious government support that most Americans have seen in their entire lives. It turns out Trump’s instinct to take credit for all that free money was politically smart!” • No wonder Pelosi wouldn’t take the deal Trump was offering.

“Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore” [Commonweal]. “Now, there are some things Trump had going for him that I will grant immediately. The pre-pandemic economic expansion helped lift many people’s standard of living; it makes sense to me that they would appreciate and remember that, and give the president credit. But he didn’t mention the economic numbers during his rallies these past months as much as he mentioned Fox News scandals and celebrity gossip and the problems with toilets today. He didn’t have a concise or cogent critique of Biden. Was he Sleepy or Crooked? Too mean to cops or too mean to criminals? I’m not on Facebook much, and I don’t watch swing-state TV commercials, so I have no idea if his messaging was more policy-based there. Maybe those were the ads that brought in the new voters. Maybe it was door-to-door canvassing. Maybe it was QAnon. I don’t know. What I do know is that Trump creates a feeling. More than any policy, more than any idea, he makes people feel a way that no one else makes them feel. Powerful. Connected. . It’s a celebration and he’s the host. It’s a revival and he’s the preacher.” • I think “in on a joke” is important. I’ve often said that Trump is like a Borscht Belt comedian, and is often very funny (and most of his jokes generate humorless hysteria in liberals, which is probably very satisyfying to those who “get it.” “If you’re listening….”)


Polling debacle (1):

Polling debacle (2):

There are plenty of others, including Collins in Maine.

“Not fixable”:

“So what the heck happened with the polls in Pennsylvania? Here are some theories” [The Inquirer]. “For years, pollsters have asked Americans if they have vacations planned, one of many questions intended to take the temperature of the country. But when [Patrick] Murray’s team at the Monmouth University Polling Institute asked in June, the results seemed off: 75% of Democrats said they were planning a summer vacation before the coronavirus struck, compared to just 43% of Republicans. That was an absurd gap for a question that usually elicited little partisan difference. Murray surmised why: Respondents knew the next question would be about if they had to cancel those plans due to the pandemic. And Democrats were eager to blame President Donald Trump for mishandling it, while Republicans didn’t want to make the president look bad.” • “Not fixable….”

“What Went Wrong With Polling? Some Early Theories” [Nate Cohn, New York Times]. • I read this twice, and I didn’t see any indication that Cohn considers those polled as active agents when being polled, unlike the two links above. To him, the problems are all technical.

* * *

This focus group thread is quite illuminating:

Worth reading in full.

Our Famously Free Press

“Americans Didn’t Vote Against Trump, They Voted Against More Media Psychological Abuse” [Caitlin Johnstone (JZ)]. “Instead, they were psychologically terrorized. Made frightened, sick and traumatized by mass media pundits who only care about ratings and clicks, as was made clear when CBS chief Les Moonves famously said that Trump is bad for America but great for CBS. Dragged through years of Russia hysteria and Trump hysteria with any excuse to spin Trump’s presidency as a remarkable departure from norms, when in reality it was anything but. It was a fairly conventional Republican presidency…. In reality, though most of them probably did not realize it, this is what Americans were actually voting against when they turned out in record numbers to cast their votes. Not against Trump, but against this continued psychological abuse they’ve been suffering both directly and indirectly from the mass media. Against being bashed in the face by shrieking, hysterical bullshit that hurts their bodies and makes them feel crazy, and against the unpleasantness of having to interact with stressed-out compatriots who haven’t been putting up well with the abuse. It wasn’t a ‘Get him out’ vote, it was a ‘Make it stop’ vote.” • Intriguing, but I haven’t heard any anecdotes that support this….

Health Care

One for the centrists:

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.

There are no statistics of note today.

One FANG Rout Doesn’t Make a Market Revolution Bloomberg

Mr. Market: “One FANG Rout Doesn’t Make a Market Revolution” [John Authers, Bloomberg]. “Kriti is unquestionably right that we don’t yet know if Monday’s extraordinary market convulsion is the beginning of a wider rotation. She’s also right that we can only know for sure with hindsight. But it would still help to know if we are at the beginning of that process. So let’s examine the issue.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 65 Greed (previous close: 58 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 34 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 11 at 12:19pm. Tooling along nicely now.

Health Care

“Pfizer CEO unloads $5.6M of stock as coronavirus vaccine hopes send shares soaring” [FOX]. “Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla sold $5.6 million of company stock Monday as shares soared 15% on the news that a late-stage trial found the company’s COVID-19 vaccine to be 90% effective… ‘The sale of these shares is part of Dr. Bourla’s personal financial planning and a pre-established (10b5-1) plan, which allows, under SEC rules, major shareholders and insiders of exchange-listed corporations to trade a predetermined number of shares at a predetermined time,’ a Pfizer spokesperson said in a statement.” • Doesn’t Bourla expect his stock to appreciate? I’m still queasy.

“Biden’s pandemic plan: Restore Obamacare, mandatory masks, paid sick leave and free COVID-19 tests” [MarketWatch]. • But not free treatment. Seems a little minimalist. And the article doesn’t even mention contact tracing, whether forward or backward.

“Nursing Home Quality, Covid-19 Deaths, and Excess Mortality” (PDF) [Christopher J. Cronin, William N. Evans NBER]. “Quickly after the pandemic hit the US, most nursing homes banned all visitors, disrupting the daily routines of many residents. An abundance of qualitative evidence from nursing home staff, administrators, and resident family members suggests that the lack of in-person contact with loved ones and other residents is not only generating feelings of loneliness, isolation, and despair, but may also expedite death (Aronson, 2020; Paulin, 2020; Graham, 2020). Population-wide trends in mortality support this claim. ”

“Government gears for unprecedented challenge of Eli Lilly antibody rollout as efficacy questions linger” [EndPoints]. “On Tuesday, CDER chief Janet Woodcock, who stepped away from the FDA to run the treatment arm of Operation Warp Speed, outlined the government’s plan to distribute the 300,000 doses they’ve agreed to purchase from Eli Lilly. They will rely largely on a system that officials eventually developed for distributing remdesivir: Rather than give the drug directly to medical centers, they will allocate it to states and territories according to how many Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations they have. Local governments would then allocate it within their jurisdictions.”

“Speed, Evidence, and Safety Characteristics of Vaccine Approvals by the US Food and Drug Administration” [JAMA]. “Since 2010, most novel vaccines approved by the FDA required about 8 years of clinical development and were based on evidence from a median of 7 clinical trials, including at least 2 pivotal efficacy trials that were randomized, masked, and used a comparator group. These pivotal efficacy trials enrolled a median of 5000 patients, who were followed up for serious adverse events for at least 6 months. Given the urgency of developing a COVID-19 vaccine, trials will need to be larger than those supporting prior vaccine approvals and include sufficient follow-up time for emergence of adverse effects.”

“Biden Wants To Lower Medicare Eligibility Age To 60, But Hospitals Push Back” [NPR]. “Of his many plans to expand insurance coverage, President-elect Joe Biden’s simplest strategy is lowering the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 60. But the plan is sure to face long odds, even if the Democrats can snag control of the Senate in January by winning two runoff elections in Georgia. Republicans, who fought the creation of Medicare in the 1960s and typically oppose expanding government entitlement programs, are not the biggest obstacle. Instead, the nation’s hospitals — a powerful political force — are poised to derail any effort. Hospitals fear adding millions of people to Medicare will cost them billions of dollars in revenue.”

“Opinion: Picking the wrong health insurance is a $2,000 mistake” [MarketWatch]. “Almost a quarter of employees faced with the choice of two employer-sponsored health-care plans picked the one that left them worse off financially, even though they offered the same non-cost benefits, according to new unpublished research we conducted. Using data from a large university in the Midwest that offered to subsidize one of two health-care plans, we wanted to see how hard it is for people to make the better choice when given only two options. The plans were identical in every respect other than their costs. One plan had much higher premiums but lower out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles and co-payments for the employee. Our analysis found that 97% of the 2,300 employees would have been better off with the other plan, which had lower premiums but higher cost-sharing. Yet 23% chose the higher-premium plan anyway. The average cost per year of choosing the wrong plan was over $2,000, according to our paper, which we plan to submit for publication soon.” • First, why are people even forced into this insane choice? What is the point? Second, perhaps the “high premium”/”low deductibles” plan let those who chose it sleep better at night. Who wants to stump $10,000 as soon as they need care?


“On Animal Crossing and the Ghosts of Empire” [Amy Stanley] “This brings us to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It goes like this: Your avatar is sent to a deserted island with a unique layout and a certain kind of indigenous fruit tree (mine is an orange) and a certain kind of indigenous flower (mine is a lily). An enthusiastic but dimwitted capitalist named Nook has sponsored the journey, and he expects to be paid back, but – as will be the case throughout the game – he charges no interest. You arrive along with other newcomers, your “villagers,” and your task is to develop the island by creating habitations and infrastructure. The best way to earn money is to harvest the natural resources of the island and sell them to a petty shopkeeper; you can also use these resources to construct tools that will aid you in development. Eventually, you meet a naturalist who wants to build a museum on your island, so you donate materials for his collections. You can do all this while dressed in an increasingly varied and ridiculous series of outfits. That, more or less, is the game. All of this – including the construction of new infrastructure, the intense interest in natural phenomena, and the ridiculous outfits – sounds a lot like an early twentieth-century colonial enterprise. In fact, it is distressingly reminiscent of the Japanese empire itself.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“The Only Successful Coup in the US Began as a Campaign to Curb Black Voting Rights” [Literary Hub]. “One of the main Democratic campaign themes was that if their party were not returned to power, there would be an epidemic of attacks by black men on white women. To stoke those fires, a statewide Democratic newspaper, The News and Observer, reprinted an August 1897 speech by Rebecca Latimer Felton, a Georgia suffragette, who would later become the first woman to serve in the United States Senate. ‘If it requires lynching to protect woman’s dearest possession from ravening, drunken human beasts.’” • Yikes! Worth reading in full.

News of the Wired

“Are Straight People OK? How We Can Improve Heterosexuality” [Teen Vogue]. “Even though straight culture is understood as flawed, it’s still our society’s default, reinforced by everything from the wedding industrial complex to romantic comedies to Beyonce songs. We’re told by pop culture and capitalism alike that it is easier and safer to participate in straight culture than it is to be queer. Jane Ward, a professor of gender and sexuality at UC-Riverside and a lesbian who identifies as an ally to the straights, wants to change that presumption—but also our cynicism about the possibility of straight sex and love.” • “Identifies as an ally.” Is that the same as actually being an ally?

“One hundred years of ‘We’” [The New Criterion]. “Yevgeny Zamyatin wrote We in 1920, during the Russian Civil War. Composed at the dawn of the Soviet era—a not-so-distant mirror of our own troubled and dangerous times—We was first published in the USSR in 1988, at its dusk. The manuscript, a stunning prophecy of totalitarianism and a classic of dystopian literature, was one of several works that prompted a newspaper and magazine campaign against the author…. Zamyatin is among the few gifted twentieth-century writers who responded to ideological tyranny by poetically integrating mathematical science into a philosophical anthropology…. A trained scientist, Zamyatin designed and supervised the construction of icebreakers in England during the Great War. In We, mathematics (the language of the totalitarian OneState) and poetry (the language of its revolutionary opponents) are the antipodes around which humanly fundamental oppositions coalesce: necessity and freedom; order and chaos; entropy and energy; rationality and irrationality; utility and beauty; force and love; tameness and wildness; social totality and individual infinity. The drama of We plays out in the charged space between these poles: a field of electrical attraction and repulsion where opposites merge, unities split apart, and nothing stands still for long.”

For Bob and Ray fans:

At least there’s no means-testing….

For golf fans:

* * *

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 (CR):

CR writes: “Autumn color in Shaker Heights, Ohio, 10/26/2020. A political sign for a Trumpian Congressional candidate adds seasonal flare.”

* * *

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