2:00PM Water Cooler 2/21/2020 | naked capitalism


By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
“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
Key dates coming fast now, so I added some counters:

Here is a second counter for the Nevada Caucus, which is obviously just around the corner:

And for South Carolina, coming soon:

And for Super Tuesday:

Super Tuesday states: AL, AK, CA, CO, ME, MA, MN, NC, OK, TN, TX, UT, VT, and VA.
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For readers who want to play around with the charts, here is a link to alert reader dk’s project. You can also file bug reports or feature requests using the same contact process as for Plants, below. Thanks — but no promises!
Still waiting on post-debate national polls. we have one new state poll from NV. As of 2/21/2020, 12:00 PM EST (one-day percentage):

And the numbers:

These numbers don’t reflect the debate results, so Warren may claw her way over the 15% threshold (although there’s been a lot of early voting already (one reason early voting is so bad)).
I thought I’d put together a sampling of Super Tuesday results, with the caveat that most state polls are irregular, small, bad, and a lot of the leads are in the margin of error. But we carry on! (We seem to have only one poll for one or two, but that could be a data issue.)

CA numbers:

A eight-point lead for Sanders in CA is impressive, but I’m not sure it’s enough to overcome election chicanery, or Bloomberg’s money (he’s now in second, based purely on advertising).

MN numbers:

Klobuchar guaranteed some delegates.

NC numbers:

Sanders leading in a Southern state.

TX numbers:

Sanders leads in another Southern state (I’m guessing from the Latin vote).

VA numbers:

Bloomberg ties with Sanders; unsurprising given how many of the operatives and NGOs that Bloomberg has bought live in the Northern Virginia burbs.
Sanders should get delegates everywhere, though we don’t know how soft his support is. (My uninformed guess is less soft than average, because the media vilifies him; it takes a bit of courage to go against that tide.)
CAVEAT I think we have to track the polls because so much of the horse-race coverage is generated by them; and at least with these charts we’re insulating ourselves against getting excited about any one poll. That said, we should remember that the polling in 2016, as it turned out, was more about narrative than about sampling, and that this year is, if anything, even more so. In fact, one is entitled to ask, with the latest I boomlet (bubble? (bezzle?)) which came first: The narrative, or the poll? One hears of push polling, to be sure, but not of collective push polling by herding pollsters. We should also worry about state polls with very small sample sizes and big gaps in coverage. And that’s before we get to the issues with cellphones (as well as whether voters in very small, very early states game their answers). So we are indeed following a horse-race, but the horses don’t stay in their lanes, some of the horses are not in it to win but to interfere with the others, the track is very muddy, and the mud has splattered our binoculars, such that it’s very hard to see what’s going on from the stands. Also, the track owners are crooked and the stewards are on the take. Everything’s fine.
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Bloomberg (D)(1): People don’t appreciate the sheer scale of Bloomberg’s wealth:

He installed a ton of fishtanks in city hall and paid (using his own funds) $62,400/week to have them maintained https://t.co/G0YPgVjCZD
— the morally corrupt faye resnick (@C0INCELPR0) February 21, 2020

Bloomberg (D)(2): Scale once more:

In January, the ⁦@MikeBloomberg⁩ campaign spent $5,000 per *minute* all month long. https://t.co/iLh27mh8i8
— Trip Gabriel (@tripgabriel) February 21, 2020

Bloomberg (D)(3): “‘It’s going to take a rich guy to beat Trump’: Why some Democrats back Bloomberg” [Philip Rucker, Bloomberg]. “[H]ere in Stockton, a central California crossroads where low-wage warehouse workers feel left out of the economic boom and the bustling immigrant community has been under siege by President Trump’s crackdown, voters have a different take on Bloomberg’s wealth. Many Democrats here said they didn’t know that much about the former New York mayor until he started popping up on television in recent weeks. But after an unprecedented advertising blitz in the run-up to the March 3 ‘Super Tuesday’ contests — when California’s primary will be the biggest prize of all — they have begun repeating Bloomberg’s slogan: ‘Mike will get it done.’… ‘I don’t care that he’s a billionaire trying to buy the election,’ [Lynn Silva, 66, a retired special-education instructor for incarcerated adults, is a lifelong Democrat] said. ‘If that’s what it takes to beat Trump, that’s fine. I loved [Sen. Kamala D. Harris], but look at her: Out. I loved [Sen.] Cory Booker, but look at him: Out. No money.’ ‘These aren’t regular times,’ Silva added. ‘We’ve got to get Trump out. That’s the bottom line.’” • I wonder if an FDR framing would bring Silva over to Sanders.
Bloomberg (D)(4): “Bloomberg is the Equal Evil” [Counterpunch]. “Bloomberg’s 12-year record as mayor of New York, his billions in personal spending as a political and “philanthropic” donor, and his many recorded public statements all suggest strongly that a Bloomberg regime would be at least as extreme, dangerous to democracy, lawless, and warlike as a second Trump term. I would never vote for either of these men, who are similar in all the ways that matter most, including a shared record as serial purveyors of misogynistic harrassment of women. Even were it possible to persuade me to “vote blue no matter who” in Bloomberg’s case, there is little point in trying. Tens of millions of others who might vote for a Democrat against Trump will never vote for Bloomberg, the Republican oligarch, if he seizes control of the party.”
Bloomberg (D)(5): “The Bloomberg Myth Explodes on Live TV” [Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone]. • This was in Links, but I cannot resist this great quote: “If Bloomberg can’t handle being asked by Warren how many NDAs he’s had signed, just imagine when Trump offers him a box to stand on and asks him how it feels to have to spend $4 million per friend.” • Yep.
UPDATE Buttigieg (D)(1): “Buttigieg says he can win Republicans in a contest with Trump. The polls don’t.” [NBC]. “Buttigieg earned the support of just 5 percent of self-identified Republican voters in a potential matchup with Trump, who garnered 92 percent in a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey taken after Buttigieg tied for first (with Bernie Sanders) in Iowa and finished second in New Hampshire.” • To be fair to Buttigieg, the distribution of that 5% really matters, as 2016 showed.
Sanders (D)(1): “Sanders’s Secret to Attracting Latino Support: Talking to Them” [The Intercept]. “Danny Parra, a 19-year-old student who played in the tournament, told The Intercept that he’s voting for Sanders specifically because of the campaign’s consistent outreach. He added that he doesn’t really “follow politics,” but became interested in Sanders because he was always seeing the campaign’s “little stands” on his community college campus… And out of all the Democratic candidates running for the nomination, Latinos gave the most political donations to Sanders, contributing almost $8.3 million to the campaign in 2019, according to an analysis of campaign finance data by Plus Three, a technology company. The analysis, first reported by NBC News last week, found that 36 percent of Latinos’ dollars went to the democratic socialist.”
Sanders (D)(2): “Inside Bernie’s Unorthodox Plan To Beat Trump” [In These Times]. “It’s hard to know how much weight to put on the Iowa and New Hampshire results. Both states are more than 90% white and heavily engaged every four years by presidential campaigns. The contests ahead will test whether Sanders can turn out new voters in states with significant populations of Latinos (who heavily favor Sanders) and where working-class voters may never receive another campaign’s knock… The so-called nonvoter group Sanders is going after includes the newly eligible young voter, the non-registered voter, the occasional voter and the regular voter who doesn’t primary. These nonvoters are younger, less affluent and less likely to be white. Most make less than $30,000/year. Reaching these voters costs money and can come at the expense of outreach to more reliable voters. Sanders, the primary’s most successful fundraiser, is using that money to “cast a broad net,” says Chuck Rocha, a senior advisor to the campaign. In the first five primary states, the Sanders campaign began door-knocking almost a year ago, talking with voters to “determine who is most likely to be energized by Bernie Sanders.” • CA will be interesting….
Sanders (D)(3): “To Dream of a Jewish President” [The New Republic]. “The rough cantorial rise and fall of his voice says Jew and Jew and Jew while it says justice and billionaires and health care.” • So when people say Sanders “yells,” this is what they are reacting to, and it does not speak well of them. This article is well worth a read.
Warren (D)(1): The unity candidate:

.@Lawrence asks @ewarren the case for her vs. Bernie: “I get real stuff done. I don’t want to be president just to yell at people, I want to be president to change things. That’s why I’m going there.” #effective pic.twitter.com/8qb8qXiWuu
— BoldProgressives.org (@BoldProgressive) February 21, 2020

Warren (D)(2): Picking out the drapes:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “I want [a VP] who feels this fight passionately and who brings his or her or their own energy to this to get it done.” pic.twitter.com/Woby9RaDQi
— The Hill (@thehill) February 21, 2020

Warren (D)(3): Oopsie (1):

Might want to update your website, @ewarren.
“Elizabeth rejects the help of Super PACs and would disavow any Super PAC formed to support her in the Democratic Primary.
Democrats should show some moral backbone by refusing their one Super PACs in the 2020 primary.” pic.twitter.com/qLWIBa8JEX
— Samuel D. Finkelstein II (@CANCEL_SAM) February 21, 2020

Still up, as of this writing. Staffing problems?
UPDATE Warren (D)(4): Oopsie (2):

Team Warren sent this email 8 days ago pic.twitter.com/qWAFnCOc9p
— Steadman™ (@AsteadWesley) February 20, 2020

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UPDATE Another multiple endorsement:

New: The @AFTunion is encouraging local and state affiliates to “support, be actively involved with, or endorse the candidacies of Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders or Sen. Elizabeth Warren.”
Statement from Randi Weingarten –> pic.twitter.com/h41OmZapQ2
— Kevin Robillard (@Robillard) February 21, 2020

I’d like to have been a fly on the wall at the meetings that led to this outcome.
UPDATE Wowsers:

Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden haven’t invested in any ads in the crucial Super Tuesday states, data show https://t.co/PHrExMjkQK
— Ben Pershing (@benpershing) February 21, 2020

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“Nevada Democrats to caucus workers: ‘Don’t make early dinner plans’” [CBS News]. “Seth Morrison, a Nevada precinct site leader, is encouraged that the Nevada Democratic Party invested resources into training, but told CBS News he had concerns that “the very dedicated people doing the training are not skilled educators. They tend to rush through the slides, don’t allow time for questions and discussion, and many of us have found it hard to absorb such a complex process.” • It would be really nice if Nevada weren’t, well, part of a pattern.
“Democrats try to blunt strong California showing for Sanders” [Associated Press]. “Sanders has been organizing intensively among Latinos and young voters, producing campaign materials in seven languages, going, as one aide said, “where most candidates don’t go.” Mike Bloomberg has tried to counter Sanders with saturation advertising, including buying time at television stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon that also reach California. Pete Buttigieg held three public events in the past week to capitalize on his early state momentum. Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren remain competitive… Bloomberg’s advertising is buoyed by roughly 300 staff members on the ground, by far the most of any campaign, led by strategists with deep California experience. The campaign will have held 1,000 organizing events in the state by March 3, spokesman Mike Buckley said, including niche get togethers like “Surfers for Mike” and “Scientists for Mike.”… Biden, meanwhile, has only held public events twice in the state since November and has no television advertising…. Warren similarly has spent no time in the state this year, though her campaign is hosting multiple events targeting Latino voters this week and has more than four dozen staff members. A spokesman declined to say if she plans to run TV ads… So far, just 8% of Democratic mail voters have returned ballots, according to tracking by Political Data Inc. Just a fraction of the state’s 5 million independent voters have requested the ability to vote in the Democratic primary, prompting the Sanders campaign to schedule a Friday press conference to highlight and explain the process.” • The Sanders campaign is unforgivably late taking up how Democrat Party control over the ballot screws over independent voters. Readers will recall we’ve been pointing to this for months. This is a very interesting article, AP at its best, and worth reading in full.

Democrat National Convention

UPDATE “End Superdelegates Now.” [UnifyLabor.org]. • Handy list of superdelegates, with contact info.
UPDATE “Bloomberg quietly plotting brokered convention strategy” [Politico]. “Mike Bloomberg is privately lobbying Democratic Party officials and donors allied with his moderate opponents to flip their allegiance to him — and block Bernie Sanders — in the event of a brokered national convention. The effort, largely executed by Bloomberg’s senior state-level advisers in recent weeks, attempts to prime Bloomberg for a second-ballot contest at the Democratic National Convention in July by poaching supporters of Joe Biden and other moderate Democrats, according to two Democratic strategists familiar with the talks and unaffiliated with Bloomberg. The outreach has involved meetings and telephone calls with supporters of Biden and Pete Buttigieg — as well as uncommitted DNC members — in Virginia, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma and North Carolina, according to one of the strategists who participated in meetings and calls.”

Health Care

“Medicare For All Will Help Improve The Lives Of Black Women” [Bernie Sanders, Essence]. “It is impossible for any rational person to deny that our current healthcare system is dysfunctional and cruel. As a nation, we spend more than twice as much on health care as the people of almost every major country on earth while achieving worse outcomes. Even worse, Black Americans see only a fraction of those sub-par returns… Medicare for All requires us to address racial health disparities. It creates an Office of Primary Health to make sure that people living in underserved areas receive the high-quality health care that they need and that we adequately train doctors, nurses and medical providers to eliminate the unacceptable disparities in healthcare in urban and rural areas. And by substantially increasing funding for the National Health Service Corps as well as fully funding all Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which have a proud tradition of graduating a disproportionate share of Black doctors and nurses, we can facilitate the education of medical professionals and make sure that Black patients are treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve.” • Nice venue for Sanders.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “We Need to Learn Lessons From Labour’s ‘Antisemitism Crisis’” [Jacobin]. “The campaign to depict the British Labour Party as a hotbed of antisemitism was, in its profile and its protractedness, unprecedented in modern British politics. One study tallied 5,500 national newspaper articles on the topic between 2015 and 2019. This remarkable proliferation stemmed from the campaign’s novel political character. Although Jewish and pro-Israel groups had frequently leveled the charge of antisemitism against the Palestine solidarity movement in the past, Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader saw such charges weaponized by the full breadth of Britain’s establishment, as it sought to discredit and defeat a popular insurgency. Three distinct if overlapping networks pushed the story: the Conservative Party, the Labour Party’s own right wing, and Britain’s pro-Israel Jewish establishment. Each played an indispensable role. Tory and Labour-right allegations would have lacked plausibility without the validation of Jewish leadership groups, which also mobilized considerable resources behind the campaign.”
UPDATE “San Francisco official charged with corruption in FBI probe” [Press Democrat (calvin)] . “A top San Francisco public official and go-to bureaucrat to mayors over two decades was charged with public corruption Tuesday, upending City Hall as elected leaders scrambled to reassure the public that bribery and kickbacks would not be tolerated. The complaint unsealed against San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru and longtime restaurateur Nick Bovis focuses on an aborted attempt in 2018 to bribe a San Francisco airport commissioner for retail space. It also alleges other schemes in which Nuru is accused of trying to help his friend score contracts to build homeless shelters and portable toilets, along with a restaurant at the city’s new $2 billion transit station. Nuru is also accused of accepting free labor at his vacation home and a John Deere tractor as well as lavish gifts from a developer, including a $2,070 bottle of wine.” • I don’t understand this; San Francisco is a liberal Democrat enclave. I do wonder what vineyard the bottle of wine came from, though…
UPDATE “Progressive Latino pollster: 98% of Latinos do not identify with ‘Latinx’ label” [ThinkNow, Medium (Cafefilos)]. “Over the past few months and years, several of our clients have noticed the term “Latinx” trending as a new ethnic label to describe Latinos. It has been used by academics, activists, and major companies, including NBC and Marvel, as well as politicians like Senator Elizabeth Warren. We were curious about the appeal of “Latinx” among the country’s 52 million people of Latin American ancestry and decided to test its popularity. While my colleagues and I are progressive on social issues, as researchers, we have to put aside our personal biases and render advice based on the best available empirical evidence. To examine the acceptance of ‘Latinx’ our firm conducted a nationwide poll of Latinos using a 508-person sample that is demographically representative of Census figures, yielding a ± 5% margin of error with a 95% confidence interval. We presented our respondents with seven of the most common terms used to describe Latinos and asked them to select the one that best describes them. When it came to ‘Latinx,’ there was near unanimity. Despite its usage by academics and cultural influencers, 98% of Latinos prefer other terms to describe their ethnicity. Only 2% of our respondents said the label accurately describes them, making it the least popular ethnic label among Latinos.” • Thanks, PMC…

Stats Watch
At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please leave links in comments.
Rail: “Rail Week Ending 15 February 2020 – Intuitive Sectors Return to Contraction” [Econintersect]. “We review this data set to understand the economy. The intuitive sectors (total carloads removing coal, grain, and petroleum) contracted 3.9 % year-over-year for this week. We primarily use rolling averages to analyze the intuitive data due to weekly volatility – and the 4 week rolling year-over-year average for the intuitive sectors improved from 0.0 % to -0.6 %.”
Trucking: “Trucking Industry Growth Likely Contracted Again In January 2020” [Econintersect]. “Headline data for the American Trucking Association (ATA) and the CASS Freight Index continue to provide opposing statistics – the question remains is trucking up or down? The CASS index is inclusive of rail, truck, and air shipments. The ATA truck index is inclusive of only trucking industry member movements (ATA’s tonnage data is dominated by contract freight). Even so, CASS breaks out trucking and claims it is down 6.3 % year-over-year and down 3.6 % month-over-month. I put a heavier weight on the CASS index which is consistent with rail and ocean freight. It is not logical that truck freight goes up when industrial production and ocean freight decline – not to mention the continuing affects of the trade war and the coronavirus. Econintersect tries to validate truck data across data sources. It appears this month that the truck employment rate of growth continues to slow.”
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Shipping: “CargoMetrics data reveals depth of China cargo collapse” [Freight Waves]. “CargoMetrics has spent the past decade amassing and analyzing ship-movement data, discerning patterns and developing quantitative predictive algorithms. It’s now bringing its powers to bear on what’s happening in China…. After Feb. 7, volumes began to nosedive, with the pace of declines accelerating through Feb. 17, the last day of the index data provided by CargoMetrics.” • Handy chart for imports:

Handy chart for exports:

Retail: “Clicking Buy on Amazon? It’s Trying to Prevent a Coronavirus Caveat” [New York Times]. “Over the past few weeks, Amazon has responded to the crisis by making larger and more frequent orders of Chinese-made products that had already been shipped to the United States, according to company emails and consultants who work with major brands. Some of its suppliers have cut back on advertising and promotions on the site so they don’t run out of products too quickly. Amazon also sent an urgent email to brands on Wednesday about Prime Day, its midsummer mega sale, indicating that it has begun worrying about inventory for the event. And the company has contacted some of its third-party merchants, whose dog leashes, crayons and other products account for about 60 percent of its sales, to figure out how their flow of goods might be impeded. “Hello!” read one recent email from Amazon to a seller, which The New York Times reviewed. “We have identified that part of your supply chain process might be China dependent and in light of the coronavirus outbreak effecting manufacturing and logistics in China, we are reaching out to you to understand its impact on your business operations.” With its reliance on Chinese manufacturing, Amazon is turning into a case study of how a giant retailer grapples with the fallout from the coronavirus and what may lie ahead for other stores.” • Great.
Tech: “Google Just Gave Millions Of Users A Reason To Quit Chrome” [Forbes]. • “To understand why requires a brief guide to how ScrollToTextFragment works. The simple version is it allows Google to index websites and share links down to a single word of text and its position on the page.” • So if that single word of text is “cancer,” well… That’s valuable data that could be sold.
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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 45 Neutral (previous close: 49 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 55 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 21 at 12:28pm.

The Biosphere
“Jeff Bezos’s $10 Billion Climate Pledge Is Actually Tiny” [David Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine]. “what is significant about the scale of the gift isn’t its largeness. It’s its tininess. Judged by the standards of the climate crisis, $10 billion is pathetically little — practically speaking, almost nothing. The most optimistic assessment I know of suggests that decarbonizing the planet’s economy would cost, up front, $73 trillion dollars — meaning that Bezos’s unprecedented commitment amounts to less than one-seven-thousandth of the job.”
“The public is helping us see Jupiter like it’s never been seen before” [CNN]. “Since 2016, the Juno spacecraft has circled Jupiter, scanning the atmosphere and mapping its magnetic and gravitational fields. It’s also carrying JunoCam, a camera specifically designed to record images of the poles; areas of the gas giant not previously well documented.
“We do not have a formal imaging science team on Juno, so we have turned to the public to help us out,” says Candice Hansen-Koharcheck, Juno co-investigator responsible for JunoCam.
The amateur astronomy community assists with planning, she explains, determining when JunoCam should photograph the planet and where. Once images are sent back to Earth, the public has access to raw data, which, with a little photo editing know-how, have been processed into some of the most stunning images yet seen of Jupiter.” • Citizen science! And a really gorgeous gallery.
“The Battle for the Future of Food in Africa” [Independent Science News (SV)]. “The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation initiated the latest effort to modernize African agriculture. It launched the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) in 2006 with the ambitious goal of doubling productivity and incomes for 30 million farm families by 2020. There is little evidence AGRA will come anywhere near achieving those goals. Fed by heavy doses of government subsidies for commercial seeds and synthetic fertilizers, evidence suggests that AGRA has promoted monocultures of a few staple crops, reduced crop and diet diversity, undermined soil fertility, and produced disappointing gains in productivity and farmer incomes. Ten years into AGRA, Global Hunger Index scores remained in the “serious” or “alarming” categories for 12 of the 13 AGRA countries. Productivity has risen very slowly even for AGRA’s narrow range of priority staple crops. Of Africa’s top five corn producers, Nigeria and Kenya actually saw declining yields. Even where production increased, such as in Zambia, the gains failed to translate into reductions in rural poverty. Some 78 percent of rural Zambians still live in extreme poverty.” • The same will be true for billionaire climate efforts, like Bezos’s pissant $10 billion project.
“Oh, No, Not Knotweed!” [Slate]. “Knotweed has flourished in the U.S.—especially in the past few decades, driven by construction and flooding. Experts also believe that climate change plays a role, with disruptions like heavier rainfall, warmer winters, and the desynchronization of native plants and animals all favoring hardy invaders like knotweed. Knotweed is “out of control,” says the New York City Parks Department, which has spent almost $1 million treating just 30 acres of knotweed citywide since 2010.” • Nasty stuff. I had some once, and I could actually see it change in height, as I sat in the backyard for an hour. I destroyed it, or at least thinned it out, by growing a tomato patch over it.
Health Care
Social distancing on the Mainland:

Shanghai subway just now, Friday night at about 11pm. The sustained closures are truly remarkable. Still hard to believe people have fully baked in the entirety of the economic impact of the lockdowns here in China. pic.twitter.com/qbas4cfu4Y
— Paul Mozur 孟建国 (@paulmozur) February 21, 2020

“Five Years Later, HIV-Hit Town Rebounds. But The Nation Is Slow To Heed Lessons.” [KHN]. “With support from his family and community, [26-year-old Ethan Howard] is making his way as a musician after emerging from the hell of addiction, disease and stigma. The former intravenous drug user was among the first of 235 people in this southern Indiana community to be diagnosed in the worst drug-fueled HIV outbreak ever to hit rural America. Now, five years after the outbreak, Howard counts himself among the three-quarters of patients here whose HIV is so well controlled it’s undetectable, meaning they can’t spread it through sex. He’s sober in a place that has new addiction treatment centers, a syringe exchange and five times more addiction support groups than before the outbreak. But as this city of 4,100 recovers, much of the rest of the country fails to apply its lessons. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deemed 220 U.S. counties vulnerable to similar outbreaks because of overdose death rates, the volume of prescription opioid sales and other statistics tied to injecting drugs. Yet a Kaiser Health News analysis shows that fewer than a third of them have working syringe exchanges.”

Class Warfare
“Frederick Douglass Railed Against Economic Inequality” [Jacobin]. Douglass: “The Spartan lawgiver who discouraged the accumulation of wealth, because of its tendency to impair the liberties of his country, was fully justified in the extreme measures he adopted, by the universal experience of nations, and the fate of his own country; the fall of Spartan liberties dating from the introduction of wealth and consequent luxury of her citizens. His aim to exterminate wealth and refinement entirely, was, perhaps, not wise; it is not wealth of itself that produces the dreaded effects, but its accumulation in the hands of a few — creating an aristocracy of wealth, ready to be the tool of an aggressive tyranny, or to become aggressive upon its own account. With an increase of wealth comes an increase of selfishness, devotion to private affairs, and a contempt of public — unless politics can be made to minister to the all absorbing selfishness of the individual.”
News of the Wired
UPDATE Late-breaking news on Valentine’s Day:

https://t.co/FMKMYJkrBO https://t.co/fvpflpWEMM
— Quintus Haterius (@QuintusHaterius) February 20, 2020

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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 (TH):

TH writes: “Here’s a winter tree for you. It’s in Huntington Central Park (Huntington Beach, CA).”
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