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2:00PM Water Cooler 5/20/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente. Trade “Opinion: The global consequences of a China-U.S. cold war” [Nouriel Roubini, MarketWatch]. “The global consequences of a Sino-American cold war would be even more severe than those of the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Whereas the Soviet Union was a declining power with a failing economic model, China will soon become the world’s largest economy, and will continue to grow from there.” Politics “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 2020 “2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination” [RealClearPolitics] (RCP average of five polls). Sanders (16.3% 18.8%) claws back 1.5% from Biden (39.8%

Lambert Strether considers the following as important:

This could be interesting, too:

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Lambert Strether writes 2:00PM Water Cooler 9/10/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Opinion: The global consequences of a China-U.S. cold war” [Nouriel Roubini, MarketWatch]. “The global consequences of a Sino-American cold war would be even more severe than those of the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Whereas the Soviet Union was a declining power with a failing economic model, China will soon become the world’s largest economy, and will continue to grow from there.”


“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


“2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination” [RealClearPolitics] (RCP average of five polls). Sanders (16.3% 18.8%) claws back 1.5% from Biden (39.8% 38.3%), others status quo, as of May 21.

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“Top Dems see growing chance of brokered convention” [Axios]. As I’ve been saying for some time. “‘In this new political environment and with changes in technology, there are fewer barriers to entry for candidates to enter and remain in the race. These changes encourage more candidates to enter the race and stay in longer,’ — said Doug Sosnik, former White House political director for President Clinton.” • This is such ridiculous buck-passing. What’s the “technology” available in 2020 that wasn’t available in 2016? If the DNC didn’t want all these candidates to run, they wouldn’t be running! One can only why the DNC would feel such urgency to rejigger, let us say, the primaries as they have been doing. This is important–

“6 Phases of the 2020 Democratic nomination race” [Doug Sosnik (for Axios). “While the primary calendar has not been finalized, largely due to a record number of candidates and changes in the party rules and primary calendar, there is a very good cahnge that none of the candidates will have secured enough delegates to lock down the Democratic nominat ion for President after the final primary is held in June.” • You say “brokered convention like that’s a bad thing! Sosnik divides the primaries into six phases; we haven’t even reached Phase I, which is the debates. This is an important topic, to which I will return.

Allan Lichtman’s presidential keys as a meta-battleground:

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/20/2019

Since Lichtman really is a very good handicapper, I think these keys are useful. They may also help model the Trump campaign (and the table shows that Trump is still in the game, just as he was until the very end of 2016). For example, Trump seems to be giving inordinate attention to foreign and military affairs, which account for two keys.

Biden (D)(1): Remind you of anything?

Good ol’ Uncle Joe’s first 2020 act of plagiaris….

Inslee (D)(1): “Jay Inslee Unveils $9 Trillion Climate Jobs Plan To Cut Emissions And Bolster Unions’ [HuffPo]. “The 38-page Evergreen Economy Plan promises at least 8 million jobs over 10 years, and offers the most detailed policy vision yet for mobilizing the entire United States economy to stave off catastrophic global warming and prepare for already inevitable temperature rise. The proposal lays out a five-pronged strategy to launch an unprecedented deployment of renewable energy, fortify the nation’s infrastructure to cope with climate change, spur a clean-tech manufacturing boom, increase federal research funding fivefold and level income inequality by repealing anti-union laws and enacting new rules to close the racial and gender pay gaps. By spending $300 billion per year, the plan projects another $600 billion in annual economic activity generated by its mandates.” • Hmm. No Jobs Guarantee?

Inslee (D)(2): “Jay Inslee is writing the climate plan the next president should adopt” [Vox]. “The headline of the plan is investment: roughly $300 billion in public investment per year, which would leverage an additional $600 billion in private investment, adding up to a total of $9 trillion over 10 years.” • Oh great. Public-private partnerships.

Sanders (D)(1): “‘I Did My Best to Stop American Foreign Policy’: Bernie Sanders on the 1980s” (interview) [New York Times]. The Times manufacturing some consent:

I think Sydney, with all due respect, you don’t understand a word that I’m saying.

Do you believe you had an accurate view of President Ortega at the time? I’m wondering if you’re ——

This was not about Ortega. Do you understand? I don’t know if you do or not. Do you know that the United States overthrew the government of Chile way back? Do you happen to know that? Do you? I’m asking you a simple question.

What point do you want to make?

My point is that fascism developed in Chile as a result of that. The United States overthrew the government of Guatemala, a democratically elected government, overthrew the government of Brazil. I strongly oppose U.S. policy, which overthrows governments, especially democratically elected governments, around the world. So this issue is not so much Nicaragua or the government of Nicaragua.

The issue was, should the United States continue a policy of overthrowing governments in Latin America and Central America? I believed then that it was wrong, and I believe today it is wrong. That’s why I do not believe the United States should overthrow the government of Venezuela.

Lot of pearl-clutching about how Sanders was rude to a Times stenographer reporter.

“The great Fox News debate consuming Democrats” [Politico]. “The town halls have become an unlikely inkblot test for Democratic presidential candidates. They have carved up the field partly along the lines of who wants or needs the most press attention — but especially based on how the candidates envision their path to the presidency: appealing to Obama-Trump voters who may watch the network, or activating Democratic base supporters who believe Fox’s primetime ‘gives a megaphone to racists and conspiracists,’ as Warren said.” • Another example of Warren’s terrible political instincts. First, it’s good to go into enemy territory and defeat them there. Sanders has done this so often it’s almost a specialists. Second, “racists and corporatists.” Can Warren give an example of a network that doesn’t “give a megaphone” to corporatists? Finally, the whole idea that liberal Democrats get to determine which venues are legitimate and which are not is, at the very best, contested


“Harry Reid Remembers One Impeachment and Ponders a Second” [New York Times]. “Do you share Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s concerns about political backlash to some of her members, or to the nominee? The answer’s yes. Because you don’t have to go very far to remember what happened. I mean, Clinton was impeached — it helped him. And, you know, I’ve been saying that for several months.” • Was Clinton Derangement Syndrome (Bill, not Hillary) our very first Derangement Syndrome? No, I think, we can engineer them; but in the innocent 90s, I think we may have stumbled into the business model. Remember the crazypants stuff the Wall Street Journal peddled, right on the editorial page?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Democratic Party’s Tent Is Too Big” [Splinter News]. “If the Democratic Party’s big tent includes people like Bel Edwards, Milkovich, and Lipinski, it’s simply too big. The GOP is launching an all-out attack on Roe v. Wade across the states, and along with it reproductive healthcare for anyone who has a womb. There is no earthly reason why any Democrat—even in a state like Louisiana—should be lending them a helping hand to do it. Right-wing Democrats and their enablers can whine all day about imposing “litmus tests” and the like, but this kind of self-serving bullshit is just another way to obscure the fact that they don’t adhere to the professed principles of the Democratic Party.” • I dunno about that “professed principles” thing….

Stats Watch

Chicago Fed National Activity Index, April 2019: “April’s very weak industrial production report pulled down the national activity index” [Econoday]. “April’s very weak industrial production report pulled down the national activity index.”

Tech: “We Are Tenants on Our Own Devices” [Wired]. “Today, we may think we own things because we paid for them and brought them home, but as long as they run software or have digital connectivity, the sellers continue to have control over the product. We are renters of our own objects, there by the grace of the true owner.” • Just in case anybody thinks I’m whinging:

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/20/2019

(From a link enabling you to track the progress of. your account restoration, which you would think Apple would have hard-coded into the iOS UI, along with the useless links they did hard-code.) Note that — just to make who really owns the device crystal clear — Apple is still monitoring all my communications. The issue is not that that I don’t know how to get a verification code via SMS; that’s fine. The issue is that I can’t enter the only credit card Apple knows about, because I entered it years ago, have a new card now, and never updated it because I no longer buy anything from the Apple Store. (I have my apps, as the Boston Brahmin ladies said of their hats.) So it looks like, functionally, you have to have a credit card to own an iPad. Is that even legal?

The Biosphere

Happy #WorldBeeDay. Via:

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/20/2019

“How honeybees get their jobs—explained” [National Geographic]. “Bees are very sensitive organisms whose hormones are closely tied in with the colony’s needs. “A colony of honeybees is, then, far more than an aggregation of individuals,” writes Seeley in Honeybee Democracy. “It is a composite being that functions as an integrated whole.” The colony is a well-oiled superorganism, similar to ant and termite colonies.” • Clearly written and fascinating.

“Bees: What’s the buzz about World Bee Day?” [BBC].

So what can be done to help?

  • Planting bee friendly plants like heather and daisies in your garden can help.
  • Leaving sections of the garden wild and letting the grass grow long gives the bees a place to shelter.
  • Leaving a small dish with a few pebbles and shallow water in can help if a bee is thirsty.
  • There are also special bricks which bees can live in.
  • Don’t use pesticides as they are really harmful to bees.

Many seed-sellers sell pollinator seed mixes (some for shade). I’ve head really good results from them, because they germinate and bloom in staggered fashion, across the whole growing season.

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The Green New Deal needs to do this:

Game of Thrones

“‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8, Episode 6 review: ‘The Iron Throne’ melts” [Alyssa Roseberg, Washington Post]. ” Benioff and Weiss’s [decided] to make two truncated final seasons of the show, a choice that may go down as one of the worst in recent television history…. It’s absolutely the case that ‘Game of Thrones’ ends on a note that is as fantastical and optimistic as anything that happens in the high fantasy it ostensibly critiqued. In under an hour of television, the beginnings of parliamentary democracy come to Westeros. The Unsullied and Dothraki don’t fight last stands or pillage Westeros. The Iron Bank apparently forgets the crown’s debts, and Bronn (Jerome Flynn), now the lord of Highgarden, is apparently set to become the realm’s bank and breadbasket. Women get to be knights*. Married men get to become maesters of the Citadel. Winter apparently skedaddles in a reasonably timely fashion. The Lord of Light decides he has had enough to do with this cursed continent and high-tails it back to Essos. And “Game of Thrones,” a show that once spent episodes trying to figure out how the Starks could get control of a single bridge, just sort of waves at it all and assumes that those of us watching at home will be fine with it. I actually sort of chuckled when Jon reunited with his direwolf Ghost, once a powerful magic creation but now reduced to a loyal, very big Good Dog. It was a fitting reunion, and conclusion, for a show that shrank itself down to size in exactly the same way.” • Ouch.

“‘Game of Thrones’ series finale recap: A disaster ending that fans didn’t deserve” [USA Today]. “It was probably too much to hope for after two bad seasons, but it would have been nice to watch a finale that felt like it was part of the same story we started with in 2011. Finding happiness and self-actualization may be the proper ending for a Hallmark movie, but not for “Game of Thrones.” • Ouch. “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.” –Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest.

Neoiberal Epidemics

“We Should Cure the Ills of Society to Combat the Depression Epidemic” [Psychreg]. “The recent increase in depression diagnoses and antidepressant prescriptions suggests that emotional reactions to socio-economic hardship are increasingly treated as medical conditions. Although certainly unpleasant and burdensome, emotions such as sadness, despair and sorrow are not necessarily symptoms of brain pathology, but rather normal reactions to severe but common life stressors. Except perhaps for some cases of endogenous (melancholic) depression, the vast majority of current major depression diagnoses are not indicative of inherited brain disorders. We should thus not be surprised that there is no specific and consistent aberration in brain functions related to major depression and no candidate genes for major depression. Moreover, polygenic risk scores derived from genome-wide association studies explain at best 1–3% of variance in the risk of major depression. Just as falling in love, winning at the lottery and professional success make us happy, loss of a beloved person, financial problems and career failures make us unhappy. In contrast to genetic and neurobiological factors, socio-environmental risk factors, including in particular maltreatment and stressful life events, are thus strongly and consistently related to the occurrence of depression.” • I don’t think Big Pharma would like this.

Class Warfare

I don’t know what’s gotten into the AFL-CIO:

“Opinion: Capitalism is failing America, says a conservative Republican” [Marco Rubio (!), MarketWatch]. “His exhaustively researched report released last week, “American Investment in the 21st Century,” puts the blame squarely on institutional changes in corporate management and capital markets that demand a single-minded emphasis on short-term financial results over sustainable growth…. Rubio argues that the prevailing business model of shareholder value — the idea that the only goal of a corporation is to return the maximum value to its owners — is ruining us. The main task required of a successful economy, Rubio argues, is “developing productive, long-life capital assets.” In America, that task has always fallen upon the business sector, but American businesses aren’t even trying anymore.”

News of the Wired

“Saving AI from catastrophic forgetting” [Axios]. “Perfecting memory could unlock AI “that can actually make insightful predictions and imagine what’s going to happen in the future,” Richards says. That’s a crucial building block toward common sense, long a holy grail for AI researchers.” • Lol, why don’t we just ask mainstream economists?

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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 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 (BS):

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/20/2019

BS writes: “I always look forward to April when this gorgeous Magnolia on 150th/St. Nicholas Pl. blooms. Today the sun was bright and made my day.”

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2:00PM Water Cooler 5/20/2019

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