Wednesday’s Forum

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bill says:
  2. Bill says:
  3. CSK says:

    Trump has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by a member of the Norwegian parliament for his “efforts to resolve protracted conflicts worldwide.”

  4. Kylopod says:

    One thing I’ve been keeping my eye on in the polls is which state appears most likely to be the tipping-point state this year. TPS is a term coined by Nate Silver some years back, and it could be defined broadly as the single most crucial state deciding a particular election. This is very intuitive in an election like 2000, where obviously the TPS was Florida. The problem is that most elections don’t come down to a single state, yet every election has one TPS. In 2008 and 2012, the TPS was Colorado, and what that means essentially is that if you rank all the states by Obama’s margin of victory (or defeat), and start from the biggest margins, Colorado is the state that put Obama over the top both times. To put it another way, if you wanted to hand Romney or McCain the election, the easiest path (requiring the smallest shifts in margins within each state) would be to hand them Colorado plus every state that Obama won by a narrower margin.

    Similarly, in 2016 the TPS was technically Wisconsin, because Hillary’s easiest path to victory would be to win WI plus the two states Trump won by a narrower margin–MI and PA. Of course, the differences in margin here were very slight.

    In the 538 averages this year, when I rank the states based on Biden’s relative margins of victory or defeat, for a while it’s seemed that the likeliest TPS was going to be either WI or FL, which isn’t especially surprising. But there have been some curious shifts recently. Now PA is much narrower than WI and MI, and there are even two Clinton states (NV and MN) that are narrower than WI and MI. According to the averages, the TPS right now possibly appears to be Arizona! (I say possibly because it depends on the results in ME-02 and NE-02, where there hasn’t been much polling.)

    NH: 8.4
    WI: 7.5
    MI: 7.3
    NV: 6.6
    MN: 6.2
    AZ: 5.2
    PA: 5.1
    FL: 2.3
    NC: 1.8
    OH: -0.8
    TX: -1.0
    IA: -1.4
    GA: -1.6

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: They misspelled “inflame”.

  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    NBC has a poll out this AM that has Joe up by 9 in PA and Reuters has him up in the nat’l beauty contest poll by 12.

    Both are heartening given the shift in FL.

    Regarding FL, Dems can’t count on Hispanic voters to save them. In FL the Cuban vote is as likely to be R than D and nationally Hispanic/Latin voters have not turned out to vote in the numbers that you would expect. Like the youth vote, till Hispanic’s vote consistently, neither party can count on that demographic.

  7. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Bill: Well, Lindsey Graham deserves something for abasing himself before the Trump throne. Hope he doesn’t expect it to last past the election, should Trump win.

  8. Scott says:

    @Kylopod: If you look at 538s snake chart, the magic 270 is made by winning PA. With Arizona, Florida and NC as backup. I find these different presentation interesting. I don’t want to be too hopeful yet.

  9. de stijl says:

    But I’m a creep and I’m a weirdo.

    What the hell am I doing here?

    I don’t belong here.

    The best part is when shards of guitar aggression punch in. Ch-chunk.

    Makes me wanna punch God in the dick.


    I wish I were special.

  10. Tyrell says:

    “Harvick wins Southern 500! Kevin Harvick took the lead with 13 laps left after the leaders hit the wall and went on to win Sunday’s Southern 500, the opening race of the Cup playoffs.” (NASCAR).
    Several thousand fans witnessed the two get swept into the beckoning, treacherous second turn wall, which has ended the dreams of so many drivers over the decades.
    “The Lady in Black”
    The other major sports leagues need to look to NASCAR to see how its done. They need to get the fans in the stadiums and arenas.

  11. Kathy says:

    Update on the Oxford vaccine (hat tip Sleeping Dog):

    Reports are of one participant having developed transverse myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord.

    That’s serious.

    The trial hasn’t stopped, but for now no new inoculations are being carried out. they may resume once the cause of the malady is determined, assuming it wasn’t the vaccine.

    It may be an unrelated coincidence, or a rare side effect, or a side effect on certain types of patients, or something else. We just don’t know yet. But this is why you don’t rush these things.

    BTW, I mentioned a few days ago it’s not terribly uncommon for a drug trial to go so obviously well, that the trial gets cur short and the drug approved. But it’s also not terribly uncommon for a drug to fail so badly at trial, that it gets cut short and the drug is discarded.

  12. de stijl says:


    I know your heart is in the right place, but big public gatherings are a bad idea now.

    A virus does not care if you are defiant and proud. A virus needs a host to replicate. A full stadium is a lot of hosts.

    I know I want to see the Vikings beat the piss out of the Packers again soon, but it is too soon and we are hella vulnerable. 2021 is coming soon; pushing re-opening got us in our current mess.

  13. sam says:

    On a foreign-language translation forum, I said that I can well understand the line, “Everyday gets a little closer.” Someone else said that made no sense at all. Well, in my defense, I’m coming up (quickly it seems) on 80, and I suspect the objector was probably in his or her 20s or 30. But now

    [P]sychologists have shown that the accuracy of second-counting — one little second, two little seconds, etc — decreases with age. Over a three-minute period, younger people can count down the seconds almost perfectly. Older people, on the other hand, can be out by as much as forty seconds — meaning that if they counted seconds for an hour they’d think the task done with around the 47-minute mark. [Source]

    As I said, I can well understand “Everyday gets a little closer”.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The US justice department is seeking to take over Donald Trump’s defense in a defamation lawsuit from a writer who accused him of rape, and federal lawyers asked a court on Tuesday to allow a move that could put the American people on the hook for any money she might be awarded.

    After New York state courts turned down Trump’s request to delay E Jean Carroll’s suit, justice department lawyers filed court papers on Tuesday aiming to shift the case into federal court and to substitute the US for Trump as the defendant. That means the federal government, rather than Trump himself, might have to pay damages if any are awarded.
    ‘I accused Donald Trump of sexual assault. Now I sleep with a loaded gun’
    Read more

    The filing complicates, at least for the moment, Carroll’s efforts to get a DNA sample from the president as potential evidence and to have him answer questions under oath.

    Justice department lawyers argue that Trump was “acting within the scope of his office” when he denied Carroll’s allegations, made last year, that he raped her in a New York luxury department store in the mid-1990s. She says his comments – including that she was “totally lying” to sell a memoir – besmirched her character and harmed her career.

    “Numerous courts have recognized that elected officials act within the scope of their office or employment when speaking with the press, including with respect to personal matters,” the DoJ attorneys wrote.

  15. Kathy says:


    I bet it wasn’t accompanied by video of Trump’s private army clearing out Lafayette Square for a photo op.

    If the people responsible for the Nobel Peace Prize really want to piss of Trump (who doesn’t?), they’ll award President Biden the Prize next year.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @sam: Once when traveling the Atlantic coast my mother, while looking at the atlas, turned to my father and said, “The states are closer together here in the east.”

    Makes no sense but one can immediately intuit what she meant.

  17. Mikey says:


    The filing complicates, at least for the moment, Carroll’s efforts to get a DNA sample from the president as potential evidence and to have him answer questions under oath.

    Which is, of course, the whole point of this exercise in banana-Republican-ism. It’s unlikely to stand, but it will introduce delays that push any resolution out past the election.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mikey: Yep, and you and I are going to pay those DOJ lawyers to engage in this fuckery.

  19. CSK says:

    No matter how many times I see that video, I can’t look at it without becoming horrified and enraged.

  20. Mu Yixiao says:

    One of the things I do at work is sort the in-coming mail. We get a lot of stuff that’s not for us (the local post office sucks). I toss it back in the out-going mail bin and hope they deliver it correctly next time.

    Occasionally, I run across something for a person who used to have the PO box. Normally I toss it in the trash. Today, however, I got 2 pieces from Judicial Watch. The blurb on the front of one got me curious, so I opened it.

    Holy shit.

    If this is the stuff that the right is pushing, I’m starting to understand the brainwashing going on. The small envelope is a full-scale propaganda push against mail-in voting (which is not like absentee voting! Honest!)

    The Left sees mail-in voting schemes to exploit COVID-19 as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sweep away the current electoral system and replace it with national vote-by-mail option!

    But “all mail-in voting” is the biggest and most dangerous threat of all as it unleashes millions of unrequested ballots into the U.S. mail stream!

    (the comment system doesn’t allow me to add the underlining in the above quotes)

    And… at the bottom is a request for donations. $450, $675, or $900

  21. Mu Yixiao says:

    On a related note:

    One of the mail bins had a green card in it that says “Ballots only”. Even our crappy post office is making sure that the ballots are given proper special handling.

    (Even if it’s treasonous and will destroy democracy as we know it) /s

  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: No! Tyrell’s heart is not in the right place. Tyrell only cares about how Covid-19 is impacting his ability to be entertained in his “golden years.” He literally DGAF about anything else.

    Or maybe you have a more generous view of your fellow man.

  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    And… at the bottom is a request for donations. $450, $675, or $900

    The former box holder must have been a big donor for them to try for that large a grift. The various agencies that hit me up will ask for as much as $250, but that’s the limit. (Maybe they use IRS info to target how much to ask for.)

  24. sam says:

    A sysadmin awoke one night from a nightmare:
    alias grep = ‘ls -lR /home/user/some dir | grep ‘

  25. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Misguided is not evil.

    He or she is a decent cat worthy of some respect.

  26. de stijl says:


    I got that.

  27. sam says:

    @de stijl:

    Really happened. I took the call. “Jesus Christ. One minute we’re up and running fine, the next we’re locked up tight.” I looked at the logs he sent me, told him to go to X’s cubicle with a baseball bat and …” Big system, too. About 50 users.

  28. de stijl says:


    I don’t know how grep became to mean that but I use it.

    Possibly get and replace? One often uses grep for data cleansing.

    I did anyway.

  29. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Tyrell (more human than human is our motto) is not an evil person.

    He or she advocates from ignorance.

  30. Kurtz says:


    538’s model has them in this order, with percentage chance of being the TPS:

    PA 30.6
    FL 15.1
    WI 7.9
    MN 7.7
    AZ 6.2
    MI 6.1
    NC 5.4
    NV 3.1
    CO 2.8
    OH 2.6 {R}
    TX 1.6 {R}
    NH 1.6
    GA 1.4 {R}
    VA 1.4

    If I’m reading the chart correctly, the three R states would be tipping point for Trump. The rest is the chance of that state being Biden’s.

    Scroll to “The Winding Path to Victory.”

  31. CSK says:

    Despite branding Bob Woodward’s new book Rage as FAKE, Trump sat for seventeen interviews for it, the final one in July 2020. That’s two months ago.

    Seventeen interviews.

    Trump blasted Woodward’s Fear as fake when it came out in Sept. 2018. I don’t get it. Is Trump so desperate for attention that he’ll consent to an interview with someone he must know is going to be harshly critical of him? Especially since he told Woodward that he knew back in February that Covid-19 was very serious?

  32. ImProPer says:


    He might as well ban drilling on Mars and Jupiter while he’s at it. Producers are just about as likely to drill there. It’s a self fulfilling ban brought on by the basic economics of the industry. Trump is no more an environmental champion today than he ever was.

  33. de stijl says:


    One Friday night at 11 pm we went down hard.

    What a salaried person was doing at work at 11 on a Friday is another question. Fuckers got a good deal.

    I was senior person. I had to make the call. Outage until late Saturday if I had called up senior DBA then, or outage until Monday morning.

    They had to recreate the space and reload the data. This was the early aughts – it took a while.

    It was not an operationally necessary database and I work on salary as did they so I chose the slow route.

    Next morning at 8 I called my boss. He was pissed. Dude, I am at work and have been for 24 fucking hours and I work on salary. Either be here or shut the fuck up.

    I quit after that project and went to a contract company a friend of mine owned. Tripled my income.

  34. mattbernius says:

    Woodward has released some of the tapes to CNN, you can listen to excepts now. This is damning stuff:

  35. Mikey says:

    @mattbernius: Trump KNEW COVID-19 was deadly, that it was much worse than the seasonal flu, but he persisted in his lies, because he believed the truth would hurt the stock market and thereby his re-election chances. How many tens of thousands have now died because of his prevarications? He is the worst mass-murderer in American history.

    Now that he’s actually on tape admitting this, who thinks the Trumpies will finally turn against him? Hahahahaha…of course they won’t. They’ll just act like it’s no big deal. Cutlist morons, all.

  36. Michael Cain says:

    @Kurtz: I popped over to FiveThirtyEight to look at the US Senate polls this morning. The latest for Arizona is a week old, but it’s the well-rated Fox News poll and had Kelly +17. +17! Early voting starts in Arizona four weeks from today.

  37. Mikey says:

    Amid a news deluge, Trump campaign announces (buries) its August fundraising numbers: Trump campaign pulled in $210 million, meaning they got outraised by Biden by $154 million last month.

  38. Mu Yixiao says:

    I love a good turn of phrase:

    It is lavishly perfunctory, spectacularly just fine. Mulan takes “pretty good” to a whole new level.

  39. sam says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    We have Disney Plus, and were looking forward to Mulan, which D is streaming. However…to see it, you have to join something called Disney Plus Premium (or some such) and fork over $29.99. What’s the Mandarin for “Fuck That!”? I wonder how successful this rollout is gonna be.

  40. Michael Cain says:

    The fire that blew up in Colorado over the weekend (burned almost 90,000 acres over three days) is reported to have pretty much laid down by this morning. Twelve inches of snow will do that. Up and down the West Coast looks hideous today.

  41. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: As I noted, your generosity toward your fellow man is significantly greater than mine. My inner Calvinist is strong, so I’m inclined to view “evil” as the default setting for humanity. And my inner Manichaean is hard at work keeping the blacks black and the whites white. Few shades of grey morally in my world. As a matter of practice, agency, and living, on the other hand, almost everything is grey. But I don’t buy ignorance as a rationale. We teach our children not to be selfish–at least, I hope we do (it didn’t take well for me, for example). Tyrell is free to decide that others should risk themselves for his enjoyment, but he’s not ignorant at this point.

  42. MarkedMan says:


    it’s not terribly uncommon for a drug trial to go so obviously well, that the trial gets cur short and the drug approved

    I’m not sure if I replied to your comment before or not, so at the risk of repeating myself: I don’t think this is possible with a C19 vaccination. Drug trials get cut short when, a) it can be delivered to highly targeted patients (i.e. ones who definitely have that disease); b) have a high chance of fatality or very severe consequences, and c) the lives saved is proven to be dramatically higher than the lives lost due to bad reactions. I just don’t see how any of that would apply to a C19 vaccine.

  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    Is Trump so desperate for attention that he’ll consent to an interview with someone he must know is going to be harshly critical of him?

    Yes, probably. If it helps any, I don’t get it either. 😉

  44. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Unless Tyrell is actually a 42 year old with way too much time on his hands….

  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Cain: Longview, Washington, had the worst air quality in the entire state yesterday with an air quality of 219. I went outside to dump some trash and it was like I was downwind of a campfire. And I live a few hundred miles away from the fires; the topography gives South Puget Sound and the Columbia River delta a basin effect and the smoke collected here.

  46. MarkedMan says:

    @sam: As far as I’m concerned Disney’s “Mulan” is to China what the Berlin Olympics was to Nazi Germany, calling into question the motives behind those who showed up.

    First there was the star, Liu Yifei, proudly trumpeting her support for the Hong Kong police imprisoning people for political speech and violently putting down peaceful demonstrators. Then came the end credit scenes were Disney thanks the very entities in XinJiang province who have put millions of Muslims into “re-education camps” and forcibly sterilized so many women the birth rate has fallen by 40%.

  47. Kathy says:


    You did reply before, and we agreed conclusive dramatic results mid-trial do not apply to vaccines.

    Crippling side effects might, however.

    Now, one serious malady in over 18,000 volunteers (or 9,000 assuming half take the placebo), is not high. But if it were me, and I don’t know how this works, I’d look for related symptoms in others.

    I’m not hopeful we’ll get an answer soon or at all. There is so much data as regards developments in the COVID front, that the news media often fails to follow up.

    BTW, concerning Mexico’s numbers of very low testing, and my estimate of around 2 million+ real infections rather than the 630,000 or so official ones, it might not be a terrible idea to spend money on lots of antibody tests, and to collect plasma from those who test positive (if it can then be ascertained they do have real SARS-CoV-2 antibodies). Serology tests are both cheaper and much faster.

    But then that would expose the horrible response from the government thus far, as well as demand accountability for the high fatality rate.

  48. CSK says:

    @mattbernius: @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    All I can figure is that Trump assumes that if he says the Woodward book is Fake News, Cult45 will buy it. No one else will, of course.

    That the man craves attention even from someone whom he must know is going to portray him as a malevolent buffoon suggests that he’s psychotic.

  49. Mu Yixiao says:


    What’s the Mandarin for “Fuck That!”?

    Well…. the transliteration would be “cào nà ge”. But I think the better match would be “cào ni ma”[1][2] which means “fuck your mother”. 🙂

    Or possibly… na shi pi hua (that is shit)

    [1]* I can’t do the proper pinyin tones in Windows. “ni” is 3rd tone (drop then rise) “ma” is 1st tone (flat sustained)

    [2] with different tones it means “alpaca”–literally “mud grass horse”.

  50. Kathy says:


    The Guardian quotes the NY Times: “Mr. Trump gave Mr. Woodward extensive access to his White House and to top officials in the hopes the eventual book would be ‘positive,’ in his eyes. Mr. Trump did not speak to Mr. Woodward for his first book on the Trump presidency, ‘Fear,’ and the president has maintained publicly and to advisers that it would have turned out better had he personally participated.”

    So, yeah, he’s that stupid, and that deluded.

    IMO, I don’t think Woodward was out to do a hatchet job, though that definitely sells better (no one’s talking about Sanders’ book on Trump), but he’s no Trump sycophant, either. How delusional do you have to be that you think admitting to lies, to being out of it, to being out of your depth, will make for a positive story?

  51. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Longview, Washington, had the worst air quality in the entire state yesterday with an air quality of 219.

    That’s a clear day in Beijing. 😀 (Which is one of the reasons I never visited Beijing–they’ve had an AQI over over 500 on multiple occasions). Where I lived, it hovered between 100 and 200 (currently appears to be about 125). 80 was a gloriously clear day (you could only see “a little bit” of haze at the horizon).

  52. Jay L Gischer says:

    @de stijl: As it turns out “grep” is an abbreviation for “generalized regular expression processor”, or something close to that. We have either Dennis Ritchie or Ken Thompson to thank for that. I’m not sure, but my money is on Dennis Ritchie.

    And wow, what a story. A perfect example of how programming has a social aspect to it, and the expectations of other people (and one’s future self, too) matter. A lot.

  53. CSK says:

    First let me clarify something that might need it: When I said Cult45 would “buy it,” I didn’t mean Woodward’s book; I meant Trump’s claim that it’s Fake News. Of course, they won’t buy the book, either.

    Like you, I don’t think Woodward was out to do a hatchet job. But the thing is, any honest reportage about Trump turns out to be a hatchet job, because everything he says and does is so appalling. You simply let it speak for itself.

    After Trump apologized for the remarks he made on the pussy tape, he speculated that it had been faked, because the voice didn’t sound like his. I wonder if he’ll try to do that here.

    As for Sarah Sanders, I regret to report that her book is #8 on Amazon, which is very good indeed.

  54. JohnMcC says:

    My offering for ‘headline of the day’ is in Rawstory-dot-com: GOP Senator apologizes after Staffer is caught on Tape saying what Republicans actually believe on Health Care.

    Seems a constituent called with worries about pre-existing conditions (she is a triple-cancer-survivor) keeping her from getting health insurance after her husband was furloughed from his job should Obamacare be repealed. The staffer in question told her that she’d just have to manage it on her own. ‘If I wanted to buy a dress shirt’ he told her but didn’t have the money for it I just wouldn’t be able to get it. And why did she expect some sort of assistance? ‘Sounds like something you’ll just have to manage.’

    Of course, she recorded the conversation.

    Good bye, Mr Tillis.

  55. Mikey says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    As it turns out “grep” is an abbreviation for “generalized regular expression processor”, or something close to that.

    Not Unix/Linux specific, but “ping” is an acronym for “Packet Inter-Net Groper.”

  56. Kathy says:


    Oh, I got what you said about buying it.

    If Trump comes out with a hatchet and hacks away, what’s an honest Woodward to do?

  57. Kathy says:

    Naturally several Republican politicos are out defending Trump the Indefensible.

    One trope they keep repeating is that Trump shut down the country. This is manifestly UNtrue. Trump did nothing of the sort, various governors did that. It was only a few months ago, we were all there. Governors started issuing orders to shelter in place, not Trump. Some states never shut down at all, because their governors decided not to do so.

    Next they’ll be crediting him with the use of face masks.

    Also, by May it was clear the information was out there, and there was no widespread panic past some shortages in stores. People weren’t fleeing in droves, setting fires all over the place, or even rioting. Why did he not then act as though this was a serious issue, rather than a minor thing that would “go away”?

    Don’t let yourself be fooled (unnecessary advice for most here), but above all else don’t let others be fooled.

  58. CSK says:

    Woodward doesn’t have to do anything. And nothing Trump says or does will matter against the fact that Rage is already #9 on Amazon.

  59. Monala says:

    @Kathy: Check out this Twitter thread, with a recording of the interview tapes from Feb. 2020.

    The person tweeting points out that:

    1) Trump was very clear and articulate during the interview about the risks and dangers of Covid-19 back in February, so he’s been f*cking lying about it all along.

    2) given the interview, Woodward also knew, yet sat on this information for seven months in order to get a good book deal.

    Thus, Trump isn’t stupid, he’s evil, and Woodward is too, for enabling it.

  60. Jen says:


    Good bye, Mr Tillis.

    He’s actually pretty much thrown the staffer under the bus. The office has said that the employee has been disciplined, and issued a statement that basically says “this isn’t in line with our office code of conduct.”


  61. Kathy says:


    Thus, Trump isn’t stupid, he’s evil,

    Not mutually exclusive.

    But if there is one salient fact that damns our age, it’s this: sitting on, or downplaying, vital information that will costs hundreds of thousands of live, out of a desire for personal gain and, as much as I can’t believe what I’m saying, not making an effort.

    Nor is Trump alone on this. Look at his many imitators, though not all of them, in Brazil, Mexico, the UK India, etc (had Johnson not fallen ill with COVID-19, the UK would be catching up with its erstwhile colony for cases and deaths).

    and Woodward is too, for enabling it.

    I wouldn’t say he enabled it, but he also had important information which he should have released much, much earlier, even if it cost him access to Trump (as it would have). But he chose not to, because the newspaper model that allowed him to make his name back in the 70s is no longer profitable.

    Edited to add: Trump is clearly an idiot if he thinks the only two choices he had were a cover-up or a panic. There are other countries in the world, and many were already dealing with the virus by that time. I don’t recall much covering up/downplaying, and very little which could be called panic (save a run on hand sanitizer).

  62. DrDaveT says:


    The office has said that the employee has been disciplined, and issued a statement that basically says “this isn’t in line with our office code of conduct.”

    Indeed — telling the truth about Republican policies is explicitly against the GOP code of conduct.

  63. flat earth luddite says:

    Quick translation, “The staffer spoke clearly, honestly, and concisely, which is a complete and total violation of our standards and guidelines, and will be immediately punished.”

  64. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Trump lying through his teeth about what he knew when is not exactly surprising. Infuriating, but not surprising.

    The fact Woodward has been sitting on these tapes for over 6 months is a scandal in itself. I hope no one buys his damn book, and no one ever gives him an interview again.

  65. Bill says:


    I don’t recall much covering up/downplaying, and very little which could be called panic (save a run on hand sanitizer).

    You forgot toilet paper.

  66. flat earth luddite says:

    @Mu Yixiao: @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Glad I’ve missed Beijing. Although the pictures of pollution have been enough. Currently, I’m about an hour south of Cracker. We’re well away from most of the fires, but sky has been vacillating between saffron yellow and dirty brown all day. Low cloud cover like a typical November day here, except the low scudding clouds are smoke, and it’s 85 freaking degrees. Folks 20 miles away have gotten stage 3 (drop your s*** and run NOW) evac orders. Right now (4 hours before sunset) the automatic lights have been on for hours, and it’s well after twilight. Good luck to those living closer to fires in other locations.

  67. Bill says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    The fact Woodward has been sitting on these tapes for over 6 months is a scandal in itself. I hope no one buys his damn book, and no one ever gives him an interview again.

    I read Woodward’s Fear*. As for his other books, I have read a few of them.

    Right now Amazon has an offer. Buy $25 worth of kindle ebooks, get a $6. I could have bought Rage but passed. Instead I bought Theodore Rex (About the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt) written by Edmond Morris and Turmoil and Triumph by George Schultz about his time as Ronald Reagan’s Sec. of State.

  68. Tyrell says:

    @de stijl: Thanks for your reply and attention to my summary.
    8,000 fans in Darlington Raceway is not a lot. They can be spread far apart. So the safe distancing thing is easy there with that number of people. I went to a race there years ago and there were about that many people there. Less than half full and the reason was that Ford had pulled out in a protest. So the only cars were Dodges, Plymouths, and some backmarker “independent” Chevrolets.
    I am not sure about the Vikings. I am hoping the Panthers will take care of them when they go up there. Coach Ruhle has generated a lot of excitement.

  69. Kathy says:


    There’s a phrase by Egyptologist Barbara Mertz, “Artifacts are the bare bones of history.” So are topical books about Trump, or of real presidents still in office. They lack historical context, and, IMO, many are exercises in voyeurism, titillation, scandal, and sensationalism.

    So I’m not in danger of buying Woodward’s book, or any others. I am interested in the salient facts, often portrayed in the media along with the more prurient stuff. So I read reviews, excerpts, etc., but not the books themselves.

  70. Tyrell says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Thanks for your attention and reply to my summary. NASCAR and Darlington officials did limit the attendance. They have had fans at other races, such as Bristol, with no major problems.
    When I go to Walmart and other big stores, the people are packed in a lot more that they are at these speedways. No one says anything about that, and apparently there have been no outbreaks from those stores reported; customers or workers.
    I have not been to a race in years, but I plan to go next year to Atlanta.

  71. Kathy says:

    Given the lax mask situation at work, I thought of something. Remember those battery-powered tiny fans attached to a bottle? The idea was they’s spray a water mist which would cool you off (it helps, but three’s nothing like A/C).

    I should get one and fill the bottle with hydrogen peroxide and alcohol. I’d then spray an antiseptic mist whenever one of the covidiots comes to tell me something,drop off papers and so on.

    I tried the “I can’t hear you without a mask” on five people. One took the hint, three were annoyed, and the last one thought I was asking him to remove his mask.

    I haven’t tried slapping all exposed noses. I think that constitutes assault.

  72. Kurtz says:


    Wow. Staffer of the year. What’s the appropriate way to show appreciation for an asshole who can’t even asshole correctly?

  73. Kylopod says:

    @Kurtz: @Scott:

    If you look at 538s snake chart, the magic 270 is made by winning PA. With Arizona, Florida and NC as backup.

    It seems 538 may be using a different methodology than I was, even though it’s coming from the same data. I did more or less what was described in Silver’s original article about the TPS: I took all the battleground states I listed and colored them in gray on the interactive 2016 map, then I added them one by one to Biden’s column until he reached 270. Using this method, the TPS is Arizona if I count all the states as single units that can’t split their electoral votes; however, if I give ME-02 to Trump like in 2016, then AZ simply produces a 269-269 tie, and Biden would need PA to win outright. As I mentioned, there hasn’t been much polling of ME-02 or NE-02, and that’s a problem because this map suggests an electoral tie is quite plausible, which would make those single districts potentially very consequential.

    I don’t want to be too hopeful yet.

    I didn’t think I was being hopeful. The entire reason to do an analysis like this is to cover all bases. If Biden does as well as the current polls suggest, then he’ll win by a comfortable enough margin that the TPS would be as arcane as in 2008 and 2012. What I’m gaming out is what to expect if the race tightens enough that it could end up being decided by a single state. Of course, it depends heavily on the assumption that shifts in the popular vote would be uniformly distributed across the states, which isn’t always the case–but it is the case more often than many people realize.

    A while back I did a little thought exercise. I compared the 2004 and 2008 elections. I determined that Obama’s popular-vote margin was roughly 10 points better than Kerry’s. I then added that number to Kerry’s margins in all the 2004 states. The result was almost exactly the 2008 map. The only differences were that it had Dems winning MO, which Obama very narrowly lost, and losing IN and NC, which Obama very narrowly won. That’s it, everything else was the same. In other words, the relationship between the popular vote and the states was almost the same between 2004 and 2008; the only thing that changed was that Obama simply did a lot better in the popular vote, and this was reflected across the states in a more or less uniform fashion.

    When I tried this exercise on other pairs of elections, particularly much earlier ones, it didn’t always yield this level of uniformity. For example, when I had George McGovern improving his popular-vote margin to that of Carter 1976, the resulting map, while a winning one for Dems, looked nothing like the actual 1976 map. A lot turned on the fact that Carter was from the South and McGovern wasn’t. It wasn’t just a question of overall popularity. And when I tried the exercise with 2012-2016, it was clear that Trump pretty massively overperformed in the Rust Belt compared with his modest 2-point improvement over Romney in the popular vote.

    I think that in general, though, uniformity across the states is the rule in modern elections. If Biden loses, say, 2 points in the popular vote, then we can reasonably estimate he’s lost that amount in all the battleground states. As I mentioned the other day, the bad news is that Trump’s EC advantage from 2016 appears to still be in effect, and therefore Biden needs to stay sufficiently ahead in the popular vote to avoid another split; the good news is that there’s no sign of that EC advantage in any way widening as some pundits have speculated, and indeed it may even be a bit narrower than in 2016.

  74. Michael Cain says:

    Rage isn’t available on Library Genesis yet, but Fear is. I don’t often push people towards piracy, but damn, I can’t bring myself to suggest that anyone give Bob Woodward any money this time… Give it a week.

  75. Michael Cain says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    As it turns out “grep” is an abbreviation for “generalized regular expression processor”, or something close to that.

    Actually, grep is from the general form of the ed text editor command “g/re/p”. That is, search all lines (g, global) for the specified regular expression (re) and print (p) on match. But you’d have to have worked at Bell Labs almost a full half century ago to know that first hand.

  76. Bill says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Rage isn’t available on Library Genesis yet, but Fear is. I don’t often push people towards piracy, but damn, I can’t bring myself to suggest that anyone give Bob Woodward any money this time… Give it a week.

    As an author, you may have a pretty good guess what I think about websites or people who steal my or any other author’s work.

  77. Bill says:


    There’s a phrase by Egyptologist Barbara Mertz, “Artifacts are the bare bones of history.” So are topical books about Trump, or of real presidents still in office. They lack historical context, and, IMO, many are exercises in voyeurism, titillation, scandal, and sensationalism.

    So I’m not in danger of buying Woodward’s book, or any others.

    These type of books (About a President still in office) started appearing when Bill Clinton* was President. Before that they were rare. Anyone feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

    I read Clinton’s autobiography but that was written after he was President. I have read a few books written by people who served in his administration. Which Bush was President, I read one of Woodward’s books, Against all Enemies by Richard Clarke*, and the Price of Loyalty by former Sec of the Treasury Paul O’Neill.

    While Obama was President, I didn’t read a single book concerning his administration. I was in the main years of my cancer battle. Even if I felt up to reading, money was scarce. I have a library card but never used it to take out any of these books.

    I did read Duty by former Sec of Defense, for both Bush and Obama, Robert Gates. Gates book came out while Obama was still President but I didn’t read it till 2018.

    Yes I read Woodward’s Fear but I am not likely to buy any other Trump books. Right now I have about 15 books on my kindle that I have partially read, or not read at all. There are probably another 15-20 at Amazon I may buy some day. If a book becomes cheap, like Merle Miller’s ‘Plain Speaking’ about Harry Truman which was for sale at 4.99 or Amazon has one of those sales like the one I took advantage of today, I will buy more. Dear wife could also get a couple for me for Christmas or my birthday.

    BTW I do almost all my reading on Kindle now.

    *- My espionage novel (Set mostly between 1992 and 1998) published last year had both Clarke and Clinton in it. Clinton’s part in the book was basically little more than a cameo but Clarke was an important minor character in it.

  78. CSK says:

    CNN has printed two of Kim Jong Un’s letters to Trump. They have to be read to be believed:

  79. Kathy says:


    Kim has a stronger than human stomach.

  80. MarkedMan says:

    Form the NYTimes:

    This is the second time that AstraZeneca, which is developing its vaccine with the University of Oxford, has put its trials on hold. Another participant developed symptoms of transverse myelitis, researchers reported in July, but it was later attributed to an “unrelated neurological illness.”

    There was a lot of spinning going on today from AstraZeneca. The fact that they weren’t up front about this being the second case speaks volumes.

  81. CSK says:

    Either that or he laughed his ass off.

  82. de stijl says:


    I had always thought ping was picked up from sonar usage.

    Run Silent, Run Deep

    And groper? Really?

  83. de stijl says:

    It turned out, in my line of work, that data cleansing is kind of a bust. Mortgage banking and retail banking.

    The cost is high and the marginal gains low.

    Nobody cares if Sreven should actually be Steven, and who knows – Sreven could be perfectly cromulent name.

    It would kind of matter if you found a record where the mortgage was $13M. Depending on the ZIP code it is more likely to be $130K or $1.3M.

    But in really big set, a thousand anomalies are noise amongst the millions. It is easier to flag or sequester them.

    And in mortgages once the deal is booked nothing changes except on monthly payments, and we mostly sold the servicing rights in pools on the secondary market.

    My boss was set on it, and I got tagged as the person to pursue. She sent me to classes and seminars. Learn new tools – I am super curious by nature, so it was great fun to poke and prod. I enjoyed myself immensely.

    After about 10 months I came back and met with her and said if we really want to pursue this here are the tools to license (most were garbage), here is the cost estimate to pursue, here are the gains / benefits. I was neutral in the beginning and middle, but at the end I editorialized and advocated not to pursue this now as the marginal utility was so low.

    We ended up just flagging likely anomalies.

    Then the refinance boom hit.

  84. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    That’s a clear day in Beijing. (Which is one of the reasons I never visited Beijing–they’ve had an AQI over over 500 on multiple occasions).

    I was in Beijing last year, and it was glorious!

    I went, unknowingly, during “Golden Week” (a Chinese national holiday). Since all industry was shut down, air quality was wonderful. Nothing but blue skies.

    I would go again in a heartbeat. (and since I have a Chinese Visa, I likely will).

  85. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mu Yixiao: At 9 pm, we crossed the barrier and set a new record for this fire season at 259. We’re #1! We’re #1! 🙁

  86. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Bill: Which is why I don’t go to such sites, use a VPN to disguise my location/identity to enable me to read articles behind the paywall, or use bit-torrent (is that still a thing?) to stream movies. (Well, additionally, I don’t use a VPN because I lack the skill set to set one up and I’ve watched a movie, except on an airplane, maybe twice in the past 3 years.)

  87. de stijl says:

    I have a double share in the 2008 bust.

    I worked for rhymes with Bells Largo. Actually I worked for Norwest which bought out WF.

    WF was in hindsight not a bad player compared to others. We sold a solid metric shit ton of chancey mortgages on to the secondary market.

    WF did not get actively evil until later. Performance incentive gone massively awry.

    Then I worked as a contractor for an Icelandic bank. One that folded in ’09. Pretty basic job, but fun – build out infrastructure. I got to live in a pretty sweet apartment in Reykjavik. Cool town, not pretty, but really great folks.

    It was one of infamous Iceland banks. They were trying to get Cyprus money. Russian oligarchs and Saudi princes.

    I do apologize. I did not know at the time. Their checks cashed. And the project had a noble goal.

    Capitalism eats itself, but needs new soldiers constantly. I was an idiot and signed up.