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2:00PM Water Cooler 7/12/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente 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 Democratic Presidential Nomination” [RealClearPolitics] (average of five polls). As of July 12: Biden down at 26.8% (27.0%), Sanders up at 15.2% (15.0%), Warren up at 15.2% (14.4%), Buttigieg flat at 5.3% (5.3%), Harris having jumped, up at 15.0% (14.8%), others Brownian motion. At this point I should issue the reminder that in 2016, averaging multiple polls was no protection; the entire herd was wrong. The only poll that consistently signaled the correct. outcome was the Los Angeles Times Daybreak tracking polls, and that was because of a

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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

“2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination” [RealClearPolitics] (average of five polls). As of July 12: Biden down at 26.8% (27.0%), Sanders up at 15.2% (15.0%), Warren up at 15.2% (14.4%), Buttigieg flat at 5.3% (5.3%), Harris having jumped, up at 15.0% (14.8%), others Brownian motion. At this point I should issue the reminder that in 2016, averaging multiple polls was no protection; the entire herd was wrong. The only poll that consistently signaled the correct. outcome was the Los Angeles Times Daybreak tracking polls, and that was because of a methodological error (they oversampled rural voters).

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Gravel (D)(1): I hope we see Gravel in the debates. We really need him, as opposed to, say, Hickenlooper:

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders Believes Gen Z Is ‘a Generation of Tolerance and Decency'” [Teen Vogue]. “What we did the other day working with Representative Earl Blumenauer and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is introduce a resolution which says that climate is a national emergency, which, to me, is a no brainer…. What I want to say also is we can come up with all the plans we want — and I can give you 20 plans. Doesn’t mean anything unless we have the courage to do what? Take on the fossil fuel industry, and they are very powerful. They’re making billions while they’re destroying the planet.” • “Plans,” eh?

Sanders (D)(2):

Trump (R)(1): “In a single day, Trump shows his 2020 cards” [Politico]. “In 12 hours on Thursday, through speeches and on Twitter, Trump stepped directly onto some of the most volatile fault lines that could rev up his fiercest supporters: immigration, the Pledge of Allegiance, social media bias, unfair trade with China, big banks, Iran, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, impeachment and, of course, individual Democratic candidates for president…. [A] new poll this week backed up what many Republicans have been advising Trump for months: He has a path to reelection if he can stick to a message focused on the strong economy…. Instead of working on broadening his base, Trump is counting on a different strategy altogether — getting his base to turn out, knowing that he has a narrower path to victory than in 2016, [veteran Republican strategist Doug Heye] said.”

Warren (D)(1): “With Policy and Outreach, Elizabeth Warren Makes Inroads With Black Voters” [Bloomberg]. Lots and lots of quotes from Clyburn. And: “Earlier this month, Warren also found a receptive audience for her message in Chicago when she spoke at Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition Convention. Standing at the altar of the Apostolic Faith Church, Warren eschewed her usual stump speech and spoke about her time as a Sunday School teacher before reading from Chapter 25 of the Gospel of Matthew. ‘This is not a call for another round of vague ideas,’ she said. ‘This is a call for real plans to make real changes in our lives and in our communities.” • An excellent example of the Rovian strategy of attacking an enemy’s strength; somehow, staff -reated white papers opportunistically created in campaign season have assumed equal stature to with crafted legislation on, say, #MedicareForAll. Seems to be working with the wonks, though. I wish I knew which verses from Matthew 25 Warren read; there are several parables, with differing morals to the story.

Warren (D)(2): “Elizabeth Warren Interview” [Conversations with History; Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley] After Clinton flip-flops on a bankruptcy bill supported by Clinton: “My own view of that was less about anger and more about despair, because if Hilary Clinton couldn’t resist the pull, the demands, of a well-financed lobbying group like that, then who would? Would there be a single senator or a single representative left to be there to do the people’s business?” • I suppose, in 2007, it would have been barely possible to take that view. Nevertheless.

“Sanders and Warren voters have astonishingly little in common” [Politico]. “In poll after poll, Sanders appeals to lower-income and less-educated people; Warren beats Sanders among those with postgraduate degrees. Sanders performs better with men, Warren with women. Younger people who vote less frequently are more often in Sanders’ camp; seniors who follow politics closely generally prefer Warren. Sanders also has won over more African Americans than Warren: He earns a greater share of support from black voters than any candidate in the race except for Joe Biden, according to the latest Morning Consult surveys.”

“With 16 Months to go, Negative Partisanship Predicts the 2020 Presidential Election” [Rachel Bitecofer, Judy Ford Watson Center for Public Policy]. “Barring a shock to the system, Democrats recapture the presidency. The leaking of the Trump campaign’s internal polling has somewhat softened the blow of this forecast, as that polling reaffirms what my model already knew: Trump’s 2016 path to the White House, which was the political equivalent of getting dealt a Royal Flush in poker, is probably not replicable in 2020 with an agitated Democratic electorate. And that is really bad news for Donald Trump because the Blue Wall of the Midwest was then, and is now, the ONLY viable path for Trump to win the White House…. The complacent electorate of 2016, who were convinced Trump would never be president, has been replaced with the terrified electorate of 2020, who are convinced he’s the Terminator and can’t be stopped. Under my model, that distinction is not only important, it is everything.” • In which case RussiaRussiaRussia makes a horrid sort of sense.


And today:

“CBC lawmakers rip Justice Democrats for targeting black lawmakers for primaries” [The Hill]. “A senior House Democratic aide called it “ironic and funny” that Ocasio-Cortez is accusing Pelosi of attacking women of color, when Justice Democrats is targeting minority lawmakers. ‘She’s only a woman of color when it’s convenient. None of the things she’s fought for aligned with communities of color and her group is funded only by elitist white liberals; she’s a puppet,” the top Democratic aide told The Hill in a phone call. The aide then texted an image of a Goomba puppet from the Super Mario Bros. video game.” • Lol, the Black Misleadership Class has its knickers in a twist. Anyjow, “Goomba”–

Presumably the “senior aide” cleared through Pelosi on this?

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“Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez clash drags on, threatening Democratic unity” [Politico]. “Drags on”? After what, three days? “The harmony between the two wings of the caucus is in jeopardy as moderates and progressives struggle for control of the agenda — a clash that Democratic leaders have sought to avoid since gaining the House majority — and threatens their chief priority: taking on President Donald Trump.” • This is toddler-level analysis. First, there hasn’t been “harmony” since Obama defenestrated Ellison and stood up Perez, and Perez then purged every single Sanders supporter from the Rules and Bylaws Committee (the Democrat Party governing body — if that is the phrase I want — that would decide, oh, on charged of election rigging). Second, as we saw in the Midterms worksheets I did, Pelosi deliberately moved the party’s center of gravity right through candidate selection. This is a structural issue! Third, it’s by no means a foregone conclusion that Pelosi, the DNC, and the DCCC’s strategy of seeking conservative votes by, for example, running a “Trump Democrat” (!) like Amy McGrath in Kentucky, is a winner. This contradiction was baked in, in 2016. Let it come!

“Pelosi vs AOC: not just the Greatest Generation vs the Squad” [Financial Times]. “Which of them will prevail? The odds are with Pelosi’s camp. Whatever the speaker’s faults, she is the tallest standing elected Democrat. As the twice elected speaker, and the first woman to hold that job, no Democrat can match her experience…. Moreover, she keeps getting the better of Donald Trump. Almost uniquely among his enemies, Trump has not found a nickname that will stick to Pelosi.” • Interesting point on the nickname, but if you believe Trump should be impeached, then Pelosi isn’t “getting the better” of Trump at all. Clapback memes don’t count!

“Nancy Pelosi could have it worse. AOC and the ‘Squad’ have nothing on the Freedom Caucus” [Los Angeles Times]. “A similar fight is now brewing over the annual defense authorization bill, where splits have formed over its size ($733 billion) and its proposed restrictions on the use of military funds and personnel at the border. After that are likely to come very tough votes over raising the debt ceiling, striking a budget deal that could get Congress through the 2020 election, and funding the government for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. On those issues, House Democrats are going to have to reach agreements not just with Republicans in the Senate, but also with a mercurial President Trump. Regardless of where the Squad comes down, Pelosi is going to need moderates and progressives to stay on the same page if she’s going to have any leverage in the negotiations. The border funding bill shows what happens when she doesn’t.” • But as Tywin Lannister said to Joffrey: “Any man who must say, ‘I am the king’ is no true king.” Or queen.

“Nancy Pelosi’s Leadership Now Constitutes a Constant Dereliction of Duty” [Esquire (Re Silc)]. “Right now, at this very moment, the United States government is committing crimes against humanity on its southern border at the command of a certifiable vulgar talking yam. The opposition party controls exactly one center of power in the tripartite government and two seats—occasionally, three—on the Supreme Court. And under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives has chosen to do precisely squat about the situation, choosing instead to pick a fight with its youngest and most charismatic members who, by the way, are pretty much the only members of the House who have gone to see the atrocities first hand. I tried to warn everyone that nothing good comes of spilling your guts to Maureen Dowd, but nobody listened.” • When you’ve lost Charlie Pierce…

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Democrats’ opposition research got exposed — this time, not by the Russians” [The Hill]. “Those Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) files aren’t on web addresses tied to its official domain, Instead, the research files appear under such arcane URLs as … the DCCC — or any other party’s committees, for that matter — could run afoul of federal campaign limits and coordination bans if it privately gave its expensive opposition research directly to candidates. So the DCCC and some of its GOP counterparts have invented a workaround. They publish opposition research reports they think can help their candidates on obscure web addresses, where their candidates can download them and most voters and Republican rivals are unlikely to see them. Party lawyers have concluded the candidates can make use of the research without claiming they were “contributions” or “coordinated expenditures” under federal election law because they were posted on a technically public — albeit little-noticed — website visible in a Google search, according to sources. Republicans and Democrats alike do it, my sources added.” • Crooks. Although you have to admire the ingenuity.

Stats Watch

Producer Price Index (Final Demand), June 2019: “Mostly soft but with interesting signs of pressure is a fair assessment of the June producer price report” [Econoday]. “Areas of weakness include energy which fell 3.1 percent in the month and also finished goods which dropped 0.4 percent and include a 0.8 percent decline for computers and no change for either autos or light trucks. Government purchases were also a negative at minus 0.4 percent. Strength includes foods with a 0.6 percent monthly gain and total services which rose 0.4 percent. Within services, trade services jumped 1.3 percent to more than reverse two prior months of declines in a gain that points to welcome price traction for wholesalers and retailers.”

Tech: “UVa-Wise to provide students, faculty, staff with tech tools” [Daily Progress]. “This fall, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise will provide each full-time student, faculty and staff member with an iPad, Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard.” • Tim Cook won’t let go of the idea that the iPad is a serious professional machine (no doubt becuase he wants to destroy the product line and get out of the laptop business). Try doing a term paper on one, is all I can say. Start with the fact that the iOS windowing system is an abomination.

Tech: “Google as a landlord? A looming feudal nightmare” [Guardian]. “Like industrial monopolies before it – from US Steel to the Pullman Company – Google is leveraging its significant influence to create entire urban economies dedicated to its own productivity and profitability. While this may sound like a recipe for economic boom, history suggests that the intimate intertwining of monopoly-driven corporate profit, governance and everyday life may undermine both democracy and individual autonomy. Already, much of Google’s geographic development has been shrouded in secrecy, making it nearly impossible for local communities to understand – and to oppose – the long-term impacts. Only through public records releases has the public learned that the US locations of Google’s expansion have been influenced by furtively secured tax breaks.” • I wonder how much a tax break costs? A steak dinner?

The Biosphere

“Plant a Trillion Trees, But Don’t Stop There” [Bloomberg]. The deck: “The fight against climate change requires big ideas. Plural.” Yes! More: “The risk in embracing such a theory is that it might mislead people into thinking we don’t need to cut emissions or continue research into other solutions. Multiple approaches are required, even if mass reforestation were practical and imminent – which it isn’t…. You can see why it’s dangerous to get caught up in the “one big idea” model; the idea is always vulnerable to being shot down. With climate change, like many serious problems, doing nothing is not a viable option. In the absence of a single solution, we need to deploy many partial ones – including lots and lots of tree planting.” • I’m sure there’s a fancy name for this idea; something like the “Precautionary Principle” (though I know this logic is not an example of that).

“I am an Arctic researcher. Donald Trump is deleting my citations” [Guardian (DL)]. From March, still germane: “At first, the distress flare of lost data came as a surge of defunct links on 21 January. The US National Strategy for the Arctic, the Implementation Plan for the Strategy, and the report on our progress all gone within a matter of minutes. As I watched more and more links turned red, I frantically combed the internet for archived versions of our country’s most important polar policies. I had no idea then that this disappearing act had just begun. Since January, the surge has transformed into a slow, incessant march of deleting datasets, webpages and policies about the Arctic.” • Awful. But the links are gone. How about the resources themselves?

Police State Watch

“St. Louis police union urges members to post controversial symbol on social media pages” [St Louis Post Dispatch]. “The union’s president, Ed Clark, posted a letter late Wednesday on the organization’s Facebook page, asking members to use the “Blue Line Punisher” image as their profile picture on social media. The union represents about 1,200 officers; the union’s Facebook site has more than 14,000 followers…. Emily Baker-White of the Plain View Project said that while the Punisher image ‘doesn’t have a racist connotation, it does have a problematic connotation.’ ‘This is a character who distinctly does not deal in due process, right down to his name, this is a person who is interested in meting out punishment or pain rather than process.”


“Sinkhole: What is happening beneath the ground downtown?” [Baltimore Sun]. • Great, great local reporting. First, the sewers. Then, potable water…

Health Care

“Pelosi vs AOC: not just the Greatest Generation vs the Squad” [Rana Foroohar, Financial Times]. This column veered off topic to include the following: “I have what is supposed to be ‘decent’ private healthcare and I spend hours each month on the phone struggling to get reimbursement and recoup claims mishandled by an insurance company that I suspect uses delay and opacity as part of its business model. This is shadow work that nearly every American I know — at least the ones without concierge medicine — has to deal with. It saps money, productivity and growth. As someone who had two children happily on the National Health Service in London, I say bring on socialised medicine. I’m behind anyone who’ll keep calling for it, no matter how politically unfeasible it seems at the moment.” • “Shadow work” is Yves’ “tax on time.” #MedicareForAll advocates, and especially the Sanders campaign, need to start making this argument forcefully.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

In 2011…

News of the Wired

“Researchers dropped 17,000 wallets around the world to test “civic honesty.” The ones that were returned surprised them.” [Business Insider]. “[T]he research group ‘lost’ 17,000 wallets in 355 cities and 40 countries to see how people would respond. Researchers wondered too whether the quantity of money inside the wallet would effect how test subjects behaved. Roughly 72 percent of the wallets containing $100 were reported, compared to 61 percent of the wallets with $13. Yet, 46 percent of the wallets with no money in them were reported. The study revealed that people’s honesty was not necessarily dependent on the possibility of economic gain. Rather, it had more to do with how bad the act of dishonesty made them feel. Researchers concluded two explanations for this.” • This doesn’t seem to have worked in the case of the bailouts, or quantitative easing.

“Prisoners ‘to be given own cell keys as reward for good behaviour'” [Evening Standard]. • Sounds legit. Who among us does not hold the key to our own cell?

“A neuroscientist who studies rage says we’re all capable of doing something terrible” [Quartz]. Like–

“It’s Easy to Hate Selfies. But Can They Also Be a Force for Good?” [New York Times]. “Since the term “selfie” first caught on — it was the Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year in 2013 — researchers have identified three types of selfie-takers. There are communicators, who want to have a two-way conversation (for example, a post with an ‘I Voted’ sticker to encourage civic engagement); autobiographers, who document their lives for their own purposes, rather than seeking feedback or compliments (a selfie at home with a favorite coffee mug, or a photo at the Grand Canyon); and self-publicists, who want to build a brand and positively curate an image (à la the Kardashians).” • Hmm. Don’t those categories tend to collapse and corrode on social media?

Les tricoteuses:

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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 (TH):

2:00PM Water Cooler 7/12/2019

TH writes: “So we (hubby and I) were at a garage sale, and spotting this butterfly, I announced it’=s presence to the homeowner. She might have raised it herself for how proud she was of this Monarch butterfly on her Milkweed plant, and she might have, since, as you likely know, that’s one of the Monarch’s favorite plants for egg deposits.”

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2:00PM Water Cooler 7/12/2019

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