2:00PM Water Cooler 7/9/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Our five problem states, with New York for comparison:

I’ll just keep doing this one until I see a peak followed by a decline. (Seems like the “first wave” is geographically and chronologically distributed. It will be interesting to see if and when New York starts going up again.)

CA: “Riverside County surpasses 20,000 coronavirus cases. That wasn’t supposed to happen yet” [Los Angeles Times]. “Christine Langenwalter, chief quality officer at Desert Regional Medical Center, attributes much of the case jump to summer gatherings and festivities that occurred before last weekend’s holiday. ‘Easter was one of the first holidays, but we were all sheltering in place. We had masks, and we didn’t see too much of a bump at all. Mother’s Day, we saw more of a more mild incline. But what really hit us hard is after Memorial Day,’ she said. After some Riverside County residents had gathered with friends for Memorial Day, the socializing phenomenon seemed to domino: case counts continued to rise in connection to Father’s Day gatherings and graduation ceremonies. But that wasn’t all. Throughout late May and June, nail salons, houses of worship, indoor dining and gyms began to open, said county spokeswoman Brooke Federico…. As people have gotten infected at parties and other socializing events, the average coronavirus patient has gotten younger and younger. While the majority of infected people had previously been in the 40-and-above age category, Federico said the county now tallies more cases from patients between 18 and 39. An increase in cross-household social gatherings may contribute to the trend, she said. Though many young patients without preexisting conditions recover easily, the average hospitalization age is decreasing, too.”

CA: “California seemed to do everything right. So why are COVID-19 cases surging?” [Christian Science Monitor]. “When the novel coronavirus hit the United States earlier this year, California was held up as a model of response. It was the first state to go into lockdown, on March 19, and it never experienced the heavy death toll of New York. But a recent resurgence of the virus has caused the state’s Democratic governor to reimpose restrictions – and undercuts the narrative that the spikes in several Republican-led states can largely be chalked up to “bad behavior” by their leaders, says Robert Wachter, chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco…. People need to get back into ‘a frame of mind that recognizes the magnitude of this moment,’ Governor Newsom said last week. If they don’t, he added, the state has $2.5 billion in funds it can withhold from county recalcitrants and a regulatory arm it can flex with businesses.”

FL: “Dozens of Florida hospitals out of available ICU beds, state data shows” [Reuters]. “Hospital ICUs were full at 54 hospitals across 25 of Florida’s 67 counties, according to data published on Tuesday morning by the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration. More than 300 hospitals were included in the report, but not all had adult ICUs. Thirty hospitals reported that their ICUs were more than 90% full. Statewide, only 17% of the total 6,010 adult ICU beds were available on Tuesday, down from 20% three days ago, according to the agency’s website.”

TX: “An increase in people dying at home suggests coronavirus deaths in Houston may be higher than reported” [Texas Tribune]. “As coronavirus cases surge, inundating hospitals and leading to testing shortages, a rapidly growing number of Houston-area residents are dying at home, according to an NBC News and ProPublica review of Houston Fire Department data. An increasing number of these at-home deaths have been confirmed to be the result of COVID-19, Harris County medical examiner data shows. The previously unreported jump in people dying at home is the latest indicator of a mounting crisis in a region beset by one of the nation’s worst and fastest-growing coronavirus outbreaks.” • I believe this happened in NY too; see NC here.


“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. As of July 8: Pennsylvania moves from Toss-up to Leans Democratic. Uh oh….

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): “Recommendations” [Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force]. • Dense, not even an introduction, not signed.

Biden (D)(1): “The left gets rolled on legalizing pot — and legal protections for cops” [Politico]. “On several other task forces created by Biden and Sanders, progressives celebrated Wednesday that they won concessions, nudging allies and aides to the presumptive Democratic nominee to the left on climate change, immigration and economic policy. But they struggled to persuade Biden’s team on criminal justice policy beyond what he has already embraced…. The challenges suggest that Biden’s beliefs on policies such as marijuana are strongly held.” • No, it suggests these policies aren’t popular among suburban Republicans. More: “‘You have the Biden campaign very publicly accepting a list of very progressive recommendations from quote-unquote both sides of the party and kind of making a tacit agreement that, if victorious, he’s going to work to achieve these things,’ said [Analilia Mejia, Sanders’ political director who oversaw the task forces]. ‘Irrespective of not being able to transform Joe Biden into Bernie Sanders, I honestly believe that this would be the framework for a progressive policy agenda across six vital issues. So I do think it’s a win.’” • I think this sort of attitude is silly, though I understand why Mejia says what she says. Obama didn’t stand up Biden to strengthen the left, but to destroy the left. From an entryist, mind you:

Biden (D)(2): “Bernie: Joint task force policies will make Biden ‘most progressive president since FDR’” (video) [NBC]. “Sen. Sanders on Biden-Sanders unity task force recommendations: ‘I think the compromise that they came up with, if implemented, will make Biden the most progressive president since FDR.’” • That’s a pretty low bar, and I don’t see Biden’s domestic proposals as on a par with LBK’s Medicare or civil rights legislation, either. (Granted, LBJ could be seen to have netted out negative because of Vietnam.)

Biden (D)(3): “Democratic task forces send Biden a progressive policy roadmap” [NBC]. “A review of the 110-page document provided to NBC News in advance of its public release offers fresh evidence of how the Biden campaign, having held firmly to the center in a Democratic primary that began with a record field of candidates racing to the left, is open to some — but not all — of the progressive wing’s approaches as he prepares for the general election campaign… Each camp saw mutual benefit in the arrangement: for Biden, smoothing a process to win over the Vermont senator’s most ardent supporters and avoid the intraparty tension that plagued Hillary Clinton’s 2016 candidacy; and for Sanders, a guaranteed seat at the table on policy and personnel that would ensure that his “movement” lasted beyond his candidacy.” • Maybe.

Biden (D)(4): “6 Takeaways From the Biden-Sanders Joint Task Force Proposals” [New York Times]. “The task force also recommends special insurance options for people during the coronavirus pandemic. For those who lost coverage because they became unemployed, the task force suggests that the federal government pay the full cost of continuing that coverage under the federal law known as the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA. People without previous coverage would be allowed to buy a new plan with no deductible, at a price determined by their income, or an existing Obamacare plan.” • What crap. At the very best, which this isn’t, it would be #MedicareForAll for this one pandemic. Which is absurd.

Biden (D)(5): “Biden-Bernie Sanders Unity Task Forces release DNC platform recommendations” [ABC]. “Also on the task force were several rumored vice presidential contenders such as Reps. Karen Bass of California and Marcia Fudge of Ohio.” • Hmm.

Biden (D)(6): “How Biden’s Foreign-Policy Team Got Rich” [The American Prospect]. “If ‘personnel is policy,’ as Sen. Elizabeth Warren likes to say, we can learn a lot about Biden from his team. In addition to Blinken, advisers include Nicholas Burns (The Cohen Group), Kurt Campbell (The Asia Group), Tom Donilon (BlackRock Investment Institute), Wendy Sherman (Albright Stonebridge Group), Julianne Smith (WestExec Advisors), and Jake Sullivan (Macro Advisory Partners). They rarely discuss their connections to corporate power, defense contactors, private equity, and hedge funds, let alone disclose them. I asked a Biden spokesperson if the campaign would commit to more transparency and expand the Obama-era pledge to strategic consultants. ‘There’s a difference between consulting and lobbying,’ he told me. ‘There’s a pretty strong line there … So, presumably we don’t have a ban on people who were consultants at one time or another, since I’m one myself.’” • Oh.

Biden (D)(7): “The Proxy War Over a Top Biden Adviser” [Daily Beast]. • Avril Haines. Torturers are good, actually. If they’re [x] women.

Cuomo (D)(1) : “How Mario Cuomo Taught Andrew Cuomo to Screw Democrats” [Ross Barkan]. “At least Mario, unlike his son, believed in keeping Democrats in power, right? A foil to Reagan, in theory, wanted to see a more progressives in office. But an examination of news reports, particularly the New York Times’ excellent archive, tells a far different story—if Andrew Cuomo spent almost a decade actively thwarting Democratic ambitions to take control of the State Senate, he was only doing what his own father had done, without the flourish of helping to create a quasi-corrupt third Senate conference…. The forgotten roadblock was Mario Cuomo. Cuomo, though widely popular in the state, failed to aggressively campaign for State Senate Democrats or raise money for them. He never meaningfully opposed Al D’Amato, the longtime Republican senator, who was the power broker of the New York GOP throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The two men, it was long reported, had a nonaggression pact. Cuomo would manage a similar arrangement with Albany Republicans.”

Trump (R)(1): “Supreme Court says Manhattan prosecutor may pursue Trump’s financial records, denies Congress access for now” [WaPo]. “The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected President Trump’s assertion that he enjoys absolute immunity from investigation while in office, allowing a New York prosecutor to pursue a subpoena of the president’s private and business financial records. In a separate case, the court sent a fight over congressional subpoenas for the material back to lower courts because of “significant separation of powers concerns.” Since both cases involve more work at the lower level, it seems unlikely the records would be available to the public before the election…. The majority came up with a new four-part test for courts to analyze the validity of subpoenas aimed at the president.”

Trump (R)(2): “Why this area may seal Trump’s 2020 fate” [CNN]. “The path to the White House for Republican presidential candidates almost always goes through the suburbs. Since 1972, every GOP candidate elected president has won the suburban vote, according to exit polling. That’s Richard Nixon in 1972, Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984, George H.W. Bush in 1988, George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 and, yes, Donald Trump in 2016. (Trump beat Hillary Clinton 49% to 45% among suburban voters.) (Sidebar: Mitt Romney in 2012 was the only Republican presidential candidate to win the suburban vote — 50% to 48% over Barack Obama — and lose the election*). That correlation should be deeply concerning to not just Trump but any Republican on the ballot right about now. Why? Because the revolt against Trump in the suburbs, which was at the center of Democrats’ retaking of the House majority in the 2018 midterms appears to be showing no signs of slowing.” • NOTE • This would suggest that “The Obama Coalition” was a thing — just not a coalition (which has now vanished as if it had never been. Sucks to be you, Ruy Tuxiera.)

* * *

“How United Are Democrats? A 96-0 Data Point Offers a Hint” [Nate Cohn, New York Times]. “One reason Mr. Biden does not face the kind of rejection Mrs. Clinton saw is the changing composition of the Sanders vote. In 2016, Mr. Sanders won significant support from relatively conservative, white, rural voters. These voters were no socialists, and it’s an open question how many genuinely supported Mr. Sanders or merely voted in protest of Mrs. Clinton.” • Cohn offers no evidence for this claim; it’s at least as likely that such voters responded to Sanders’ 2016 economic focus more than they did to Sander’s more idpol-focused 2020 campaign (and is the Hispanic vote worth a mass? I don’t know). For example, Sanders lost the Iowa rural counties near the Missisippi — which flipped to Trump in 2016 — to Buttigieg in 2020; social conservative they were not. I agree, however, that Biden was not hated in the same way that Clinton was.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“First the People” [Rusty Guinn, Epsilon Theory (anon in so cal). Who knew, the COVID-19 debacle in the United States involves WHO, FDA, CDC, Universities, Media, Corporate Boards, Wall Street, Congress, and Donald Trump. This passage caught my eye:

Friends, for the first time in any of our lifetimes, everyone around us is seeing the same things that we are seeing about the same institutions. They know the same things we know. We may all observe in real-time the brokenness of a fragile economic system built on the present-efficient tools of the Long Now, the over-optimization of cash, inventory, supply chains, operating and financial leverage. We may all observe in real-time how complexity makes liars out of global institutions designed with political pacification of the masses (“All is well!”) as their primary purpose. We may all observe in real-time the condescending moral bankruptcy of the nudging state who would tell us noble lies to conserve masks and limit fear or “moral hazard”, or the nudging oligarchy who would lie that saving companies and jobs means that we must bail out equityholders! Before long, we will observe in real-time both politicians and corporations who see long-term benefits in making permanent the temporary restrictions on liberty we have accepted and will accept to protect us and transition us back to a functioning economy.

Far more importantly, however, we may all see in real-time how the strength we have shown as a nation did not come from faceless institutions, but from the efforts and sacrifices of individuals, families, associations, communities, towns and tribes, connected by both the value they place in each other AND by the values they share.

As a meliorist, I find this pleasing. And I agree.

And speaking of seeing the same things:

The political class is fine with deaths of despair, or they would be a campaign issue:Trump has been pretty nice about this, for a well-known white supremacist.

It’s only a matter of which eschatology to choose:

(Not sure about the Funker Vogt video though. Maybe somebody more metal (?) than I am can say whether one should handle with waldos or not. Sounds pretty doomy.)

* * *

“More than 18,000 mail ballots not counted in Florida’s March presidential primary” [Tampa Bay Times]. “More than 18,000 Floridians who voted by mail in March’s presidential primary did not have their votes counted, according to an analysis done by a group of national elections experts and academics. The numbers of uncounted mail ballots, while relatively small, could prove crucial come November in a state known for razor-thin margins and at a time when voters are migrating in greater numbers to mail ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic…. [Y]ounger and first-time voters, as well as Black and Hispanic voters, were more likely to have mail ballots that didn’t end up getting counted.”

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: “04 July 2020 Initial Unemployment Claims 1,314,000 This Week” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 1,150 K to 1,380 K (consensus 1,330 K), and the Department of Labor reported 1,314,000 new claims…. According to the BLS: ‘The COVID-19 virus continues to impact the number of initial claims and insured unemployment.’”

Wholesale Sales: “May 2020 Headline Wholesale Sales and Inventories Remain In Recession Territory” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say wholesale sales were up month-over-month with inventory levels remaining very elevated. Our analysis shows a decline in the rate of growth for the rolling averages…. This data was significantly affected by the coronavirus…. This data set is considered an outlier and may have issues with data gathering, changing dynamics of the wholesale industry, or definition issues with what is considered wholesale.”

* * *

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 55 Neutral (previous close: 52 Neutral;) [CNN]. One week ago: 50 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 9 at 12:31pm. Mr. Market is about as exciting as a television tuned to a dead channel.

The Biosphere

Health Care

“Floyd protests teach scientists a lesson: COVID ‘superspreads’ more indoors than out” [McClatchy]. “A month after mass demonstrations against racial injustice filled city streets across America, epidemiologists and a McClatchy analysis of COVID-19 case data suggest the protests did not lead to dramatic increases in transmission, providing further insight into what does — and doesn’t — lead the coronavirus to spread…. Some metropolitan areas such as Miami, Dallas and Boise have seen increased case counts and ‘positivity rates’ — the percentage of coronavirus tests that come back positive — since May 25. But other cities that had some of the largest protests, such as Minneapolis, Chicago, Washington and New York, have actually seen a decline in case counts and prevalence of the virus, as measured by the percentage of positive tests…. The recent data has led epidemiologists to question whether large outdoor gatherings have served as the “superspreader” events they initially feared — and is providing them with further evidence that major coronavirus spreading events are occurring primarily at indoor facilities.” • And–

“Tulsa health official says Trump rally ‘likely contributed’ to spike in coronavirus cases” [CBS]. “A top health official in Tulsa said Wednesday that President Trump’s campaign rally in the city in late June, as well as the protests that accompanied it, “more than likely contributed” to a spike in coronavirus cases in the area. ‘In the past few days, we’ve seen almost 500 new cases, and we had several large events just over two weeks ago, so I guess we just connect the dots,’ Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart told reporters on Wednesday.” • Politics aside, I wonder what’s going on, here? Indoor stadiums aren’t bat caves, like bars; they’re too big. I can think of five differences: 1) The marchers I saw were mostly masked; the rally attendees were not; 2) indoor stadium air is recirculated, unlike marches outside; 3) stadia have chokepoints where people tend to build up, as for example at the gates, in bathrooms (fecal transmission), or in lines exiting; 4) marches tend to be under the sun, stadiums have artificial light; 5) in marches people are moving; in stadiums groups are stationary, and morever with the same group for an extended period; this last would be especially conducive to building up a dose of the virus.

“COVID-19 Updates – 127 Yard Sale (2020)” [127 Yard Sale]. The world’s longest yard sale: “As a mostly outdoor event, there is more than enough space to allow for social distancing at the 127 Yard Sale. With the help of all participants, this event will go on while protecting the safety and health of everyone…. In addition to providing essential outdoor recreation, fun, and enjoyment, this event takes place in mostly rural areas in the states where the route passes through. Many of the vendors who participate earn a significant portion of their yearly income at this event. It also provides a significant positive economic impact to many hotels, motels, RV parks & campgrounds, restaurants, and other retail businesses. This year more than ever these businesses desperately need the revenue generated during the 127 Yard Sale.” • Hello, deindustrialization…

News of the Wired

I’m not feeling wired today.

* * *

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 (TH):

TH writes; “This is from a very tiny little barrel cactus type fellow in our Westminster, California front yard. This is the second time in a month that it has bloomed. IThe fact that I watered it last week for the first time in too long, might have something to do with it’s inspiration to bloom again.)”

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

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

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email