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2:00PM Water Cooler 8/6/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente Patient readers, this is a wildly out-of-whack Water Cooler that I will shortly rebalance. I needed to do a pantry clear-out on the Politics section, which I did not complete because I got a late start. I also need to add the material about the feral hogs (you’ll find out). I hope there’s enough to inspire in the mean time. –lambert UPDATE All done! 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 August 5: Biden fluctuates to 32.3% (32.2), Sanders continues climb to 16.7% (16.5%), Warren flat at 14.0% (14.0%),

Lambert Strether considers the following as important:

This could be interesting, too:

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, this is a wildly out-of-whack Water Cooler that I will shortly rebalance. I needed to do a pantry clear-out on the Politics section, which I did not complete because I got a late start. I also need to add the material about the feral hogs (you’ll find out). I hope there’s enough to inspire in the mean time. –lambert UPDATE All done!


“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 August 5: Biden fluctuates to 32.3% (32.2), Sanders continues climb to 16.7% (16.5%), Warren flat at 14.0% (14.0%), Buttigieg flat at 5.5% (5.5%), Harris down at 10.2% (10.3%), Beto separating himself from the bottom feeders, interestingly. Others Brownian motion. So, I think we can conclude that Sanders won both debates.

* * *


Biden (D)(1): Some of us remember how Obama failed to deliver on the one real promise he made to unions when he had the power to do so:

Maybe I should have filed this under “Obama Legacy,” since Biden is the ultimate Obama legacy.

Biden (D)(2): “Is Joe Biden Too Old?” [Politico]. “Other politicians of a certain age would be punished by voters and the press if they were as consistently loopy as Biden. But his career-long reputation of gaffeing in public indemnifies him from the charges that he has just now gone addle-pated. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he asked Missouri state Sen. Chuck Graham to stand up at a rally so the crowd could see him. Graham is a paraplegic. During the same campaign, he claimed that ‘jobs’ is a three-letter word and introduced his running mate as ‘Barack America.'” • Yes, this is all very reassuring.

Gabbard (D)(2): “Inside the Tulsi Hive” [The Baffler]. “It is true that the Democratic Party is depressingly thin on marginally palpable foreign policy positions, and that, with the DNC’s blackballing of Mike Gravel, she will likely be the most anti-war candidate on display this evening. But despite her Nation byline and experience as a Bernie surrogate, Gabbard’s is not a foreign policy of the left.” • Which is fair; The American Conservative is sound on intervention. This is not an article Gabbard supporters will like.

Sanders (D)(1):

Sanders (D)(2):

Surely coincidence, but I did call for a bit more “joy” from the Sanders and Warren campaigns just the other day.

Trump (R)(1): “Trump Outperformed His Popularity in 2016. That Might Not Happen in 2020” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “Again, the X factor in comparing Trump’s likely vote in 2016 and in 2020 is incumbency, which we tend to think of as an asset even when it’s not. If there is any incumbency advantage, it’s likely baked right into Trump’s approval ratings. As Kondik points out, the relationship between presidential approval and reelection-year vote share is strong. Among presidents winning reelection, Obama exceeded his election-eve approval rating by one point in 2012 (as did Reagan in 1984), and George W. Bush exceeded his by two points in 2004. The only recent president who exceeded his approval ratings in vote share by more than two points was Poppy Bush in 1992, and he got beaten like a drum. It’s worth thinking about this, too: For all the talk about Trump’s boffo economy, overall public assessments of the direction of the country remain sour…. An unpopular president leading an unhappy country could still get reelected, but the widespread, 2016-based belief that Trump is on some clear trajectory to a second term is mostly superstition… An unpopular president leading an unhappy country could still get reelected, but the widespread, 2016-based belief that Trump is on some clear trajectory to a second term is mostly superstition.”

Warren (D)(1): “Warren faces lingering concerns about her ability to beat Trump” [The Hill]. “One strategist who is neutral in the race argued that part of the problem comes down to the one possible mistake Warren made ahead of the race: her decision to take a DNA test after President Trump repeatedly mocked her for her claim that she was Native American. ‘Everyone remembers how she played right into his hands,’ the strategist said. ‘I think a lot of people look at the moment and say she can’t go up against Trump because she’s not electable even if she is a damn good candidate.'” • One thing about Sanders: You can be confident Trump will never get inside his head.

Warren (D)(2): “Elizabeth Warren is running a brilliant campaign” [David Axelrod, CNN]. “Elizabeth Warren is running a strategically brilliant campaign.

More than any other candidate, she has a clear, unambiguous message that is thoroughly integrated with her biography. That is essential to a successful campaign. Her unsparing critique of corporate excess and her expansive — and expensive — agenda for change mirror those of the reigning left champion, Bernie Sanders, in places. But where Sanders sometimes seems like a parody of himself — or of Larry David’s parody of Sanders — Warren seems fresher, deeper and more precise in her execution.” • And that’s all Axelrod has to say about Sanders. I guess you have to pay him for real insight.

* * *

“Here Are The Democratic Presidential Candidates With The Most Donations From Billionaires” [Forbes]. “As of the last filing deadline with the Federal Election Commission on July 15th, 67 billionaires — including spouses and members of billionaire families — had donated to the 20 Democratic candidates that debated in Detroit last week.” • Here are the rankings:

#1 Pete Buttigieg: 23 billionaire donors
#2 Cory Booker: 18 billionaire donors
#3 Kamala Harris: 17 billionaire donors
#4 Michael Bennet: 15 billionaire donors
#5 Joe Biden: 13 billionaire donors
#6 John Hickenlooper: 11 billionaire donors
#7 Beto O’Rourke: 9 billionaire donors
#8 Amy Klobuchar: 8 billionaire donors
#9 Jay Inslee: 5 billionaire donors
#10 Kirsten Gillibrand: 4 billionaire donors
#11 John Delaney: 3 billionaire donors
#12 Elizabeth Warren and Steve Bullock: 2 billionaire donors each
#13 Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, and Marianne Williamson: 1 billionaire donor each
#14 Bernie Sanders, Julian Castro, Bill De Blasio, and Tim Ryan: 0 billionaire donors

“Labor Puts Candidates On Notice: ‘Let’s Be Honest About The Democratic Party’s Record'” [HuffPo]. “Trumka went on, ‘More often than not, the Republican Party is bad for workers. This president is bad for workers. But let’s be honest about the Democratic Party’s record.’ He singled out the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership as Democrat-backed trade deals that were tilted against the working class.” • With Perez in the audience.

El Paso Shooting

Readers, I’m still hung up on a post on the El Paso shootings. My basic idea is to conceive of the country as a sort of cracking tower, with Patrick Crusius, the shooter, as a highly refined product from the very top of the distillation column. (Most of us proles are mere crude, at the bottom.) The various levels of our cracking tower would be, from highest to lowest:

5 Priming and Triggering
4 Mobilization
3 Ideology
2 Ascriptive identity
1 Political economy

I’m thinking of this structure (model) partly just to have buckets to throw the mass of material into, and partly to have a way to sort out where policy intervention should take place. But I’m not sure if I’ve got all the levels I need. Gun purchase might fit under mobilization, for example, if we think of the purchase as logistics. Video games might go under ideology, if we think of ideology as lived experience. Ineffectual Democrat efforts would go under mobilization. Trump’s speeches might (arguably) go either under ideology or priming. I’d welcome comments — ok, help — from readers on this structure.

* * *

“String of gun deaths reshapes Democratic primary” [Politico]. “The tragedies have the potential to change the dynamics in the broader campaign for the White House, as President Donald Trump and his supporters reeled from comparisons of their rhetoric about immigrants with that of a manifesto suspected of being from the shooter in El Paso, a border city with a mostly Latino population.” • I’m not sure I’m up to the task of putting on my yellow waders and doing a close reading of the manifesto, but I think Politico is right that the manifesto is important; it distinguishes the El Paso shooter from the Dayton shooter.

Blooper #1: Trump gets Dayton mixed up with Toledo:

Blooper #2: “Confused Joe Biden condemns shootings in ‘Houston’ and ‘Michigan’ when the deadly massacres actually happened in El Paso and Ohio” [Daily Mail].

Our Famously Free Press

WaPo is up to their usual tricks:

The Debates

Yes, this is what the debates were like. Click the graphic to expand:

The networks really shouldn’t be doing the debates. It degrades democracy to treat the process like a wrestling match, and my baseline for degradation is pretty low.


“Feds probing AOC’s chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti after sudden resignation” [New York Post]. “The feds are looking into possible campaign finance misdeeds by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff and lead rainmaker, who suddenly resigned Friday, federal sources told The Post… The two PACs being probed, Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats, were both set up by Chakrabarti to support progressive candidates across the country. But they funneled more than $1 million in political donations into two private companies that Chakrabarti also incorporated and controlled, according to Federal Election Commission filings and a complaint filed in March with the regulatory agency.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

Liberal Democrats:

“DNC Won’t Create Oversight Panel to Review the Millions It Spends” [TruthDig]. “A proposal to bring unprecedented oversight to the way that the Democratic National Committee spends the billion dollars it raises between presidential elections was rejected by the DNC Rules and Bylaw Committee Tuesday, after a spirited debate highlighting that there is no independent oversight reporting back to the DNC’s 450 members.” • So in essence Perez is running a slush fund? (This is very good reporting, including back and forth by Commitee members.)

“Diversity Dustup Renews Call For Democrats’ Campaign Arm To End Consultant Blacklist” [HuffPo]. “Our Revolution, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and the Harvard College Democrats argue that the [DCCC policy blacklisting consultants and firms that work for candidates challenging House Democrats in primaries] makes it harder for women and people of color to win seats in Congress…. Maria Langholz, a spokeswoman for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, argued that gender and racial diversity often go hand-in-hand with advocacy of more progressive policies.” • Like with Obama, whose black skin enabled a direct readout of his progressivism, as is well known.

“Swing State Dems Could Pay Price for DGA Chief Raimondo’s Ethics Woes” [Inside Sources]. “Today, Gov. Raimondo is embroiled in controversy over a secret, no-bid, billion-dollar gaming contract; the Rhode Island GOP has filed a formal complaint against her with the state’s Ethics Commission; and polls show she has the highest disapproval rating of any Democratic governor in America. Raimondo’s first term as governor was dogged by questions over a lack of transparency regarding questionable fundraising and allegations of “pay-to-play” scandals, but she rode the 2018 anti-Trump “blue wave” to re-election. That’s not necessarily a surprise to people familiar with Rhode Island’s tradition of embracing ethically-elastic politicians. What is surprising is the decision of her fellow state executives to make Raimondo chair of the Democratic Governor’s Association (DGA) and, as a result, bring her controversies from Rhode Island to Washington.”

“Voters, groups, parties, and elections” [Lane Kenworthy]. “While the two parties have been evenly matched in national elections in recent decades, a number of indicators suggest looming difficulties for the Republicans: demographic trends, the rise of postmaterialism and accompanying decline of cultural conservatism, and the progressivism and Democratic voting of younger cohorts. Backlash against growing racial diversity and immigration will help the Republicans, but California’s experience over the past generation suggests it may do so only temporarily.” • A lengthy but interesting wrap-up, concluding, as yo see, with support for the “coalition of the ascendant” thesis.

“Who Should Secure Congressional Campaigns?” [Idle Words]. “[W]hat I mean by campaign security: protecting the online lives of people on and around a campaign from intrusion, with a special emphasis on their personal email and social media accounts. I emphasize the personal part because many campaign security efforts start by declaring personal data out of scope, and then solve the easier problem of protecting what’s left. This is like putting a lock on your glove compartment to deter car theft.”

* * *

DSA Convention on fascism. Thread:

DSA Convention rejects special support for small/rural locals:

So now the locals get to raise money on Patreon. I suppose that’s better than GoFundMe.

“The democratic socialist revolution comes to a crossroads” [NBC]. “On the night Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016, the Democratic Socialists of America had about 8,000 dues-paying members. By the time the group opened its 2017 convention the next summer, its ranks had grown threefold. This past weekend, when delegates from around the country gathered here in Georgia, the number was more than double that — DSA is now home to 56,000 mostly young activists, making it the largest socialist organization in the country. More remarkable than its growth, though, is DSA’s increasing presence on the electoral stage. Nearly 100 democratic socialists now hold office at almost all levels of government, from local school boards to the US Congress, where freshman Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib are at the front line of the fight over the Democratic Party’s future — and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, though not directly affiliated with the group, is mounting his second campaign for the party’s presidential nomination.” • DSA coverage still seems reasonably objective, I can’t think why, especially with RussiaGate.

Stats Watch

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 26 Fear (previous close: 22, Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 6 at 2:23pm. • Restored at reader request. Note that the index is not always updated daily, sadly.

News of the Wired

“From a wrongful arrest to a life-saving romance: the typos that have changed people’s lives” [Guardian]. “Much later, years later, he would learn that a single-digit typo had tied his computer, via its IP address, to someone else’s crime. But that first Saturday, waiting in a cell, Lang knew none of this.” • And much, much more. No doubt the same will happen with facial recognition.

* * *

About the feral hogs. This tweet was ground zero, although part of the fun was tracking it down:

Suddenly, feral hogs were everywhere! Here are some of the better ones:

Along the same lines:

At least, no more William Carlos Williams:

The meme was so virulent it instantly hopped the Atlantic:

And the Mediterranean:

A return to innocence:

But doubt creeps in:

88. And so:

(The references to “fence” and “solution” are further down in the thread.) I don’t know. When I encountered them, the feral hogs were running freely everywhere, entirely decontextualized, as feral hogs do, and tend to be. And if the original tweet was a dogwhistle, where are the dogs? I think I prefer to maintain my innocent reaction. I very rarely laugh out loud, especially on the Twitter! But those weirdly specific numbers…

* * *

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 (JN):

2:00PM Water Cooler 8/6/2019

A bit late, I guess, for blossoms against the sky, but the color goes nicely with the bonus (Marku52):

2:00PM Water Cooler 8/6/2019

Yesterday, I posted Re Silc’s lovely mobile and asked if other readers would care to submit photos of similar projects. Marku52 responded immediately, writing: “Here’s mine. I take an image off the internet, print on transparency, blow it up using a garage sale overhead projector. Outline the image on thin steel with pentel, then cut out with a plasma cutter. A lot of grinding to clean up, weld on accessories, then paint.” Neat! Reader, how about you?

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So do feel free to make a contribution today or any day. Here is why: Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

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

2:00PM Water Cooler 8/6/2019

Readers, thank you very much. The mix of one-time contributions to smaller, monthly subscriptions is now more like what is was, and hence the total I budget for is back to normal as well. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form…

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