/2:00PM Water Cooler 5/29/2019

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/29/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

atient readers, I believe I have been assaulted by the dreaded butterfly keyboard roblem. My “” key does nothing when ressed. Hoefully, I will be able to sot every examle of a missing “”, and use the Ale virtual keyboard, instead of the hysical one, to tye the letter that would otherwise not be resent, but if not, I aologize. lambert (dashes, too. Also semicolons, colons, and close arentheses. erhas it’s all for the best all that unctuation simly makes one’s sentences overly comlicated.


“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). Biden (34.8% 38.3%) and Sanders (16.4% 17.7%) stabilize. Warren, Harris, Buttigieg et al. do Brownian motion, as of May 28.

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Festival of Biden:

Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden’s campaign of limited exposure: How long can he keep it up?” [WaPo]. “But after a short burst of activity in the early primary states, his schedule the past two weeks or so has mostly involved fundraisers, which — while publicly announced and attended by a pool reporter — are far different from open campaign events. It’s not clear how long Biden can continue to limit his public exposure in this way…. Some Democratic strategists say Biden, 76, may be limiting his participation in freewheeling campaign sessions partly to play down the fact that he is older than the figure they may remember.” • Or perhaps there’s another reason…

Biden (D)(2): “Where’s Joe? Biden taking it slow in early campaign days” [Agence France Presse]. “[S]ince officially launching his White House bid in April, the veteran Democrat has made fewer than a dozen campaign stops, and his team has routinely offered a daily update to reporters: “Joe Biden has no public events scheduled.’” • And buried at the very bottom, the lead, which is or ought to be: “Biden held a 10-year-old girl by the shoulders at the teachers’ town hall after she asked him a question and he told her: ‘I bet you’re as bright as you’re good looking.’” • More on that–

Biden (D)(3): Biden takes a very personal, hands-on approach:

If the people in the back are Biden staffers, they look like they’re ready to whack him with a rolled-up newspaper:


Lambert here: Again, Biden’s handiness was oppo. And if #MeToo were a principled tendency among liberal Democrats — just hear me out — instead of purely instrumental, “any stick to beat a dog,” we would have expected that oppo to be disqualifying, as it was for Gary Hart. Yet Biden putting his hands on a young girl again looks — so far — like throwing gasoline on a damp squib. Now, if there were a feral, low road-type Democrat out there running, what they’d be having their surrogates say is that after Biden knew his handsiness was an issue, and after he’d issued a non-apology apology for it, he went right out and did the same thing again.

That speaks to character. So such a hypothetical Democrat would say, although perhaps in more palatable words, that just goes to show that [genuflects] Obama’s Vice President is lazy, stupid, and doesn’t learn.* But that’s not happening, is it? It’s not happening — at least as of this writing — because, IMNSHO, neither the Democrat nomenklatura nor their assets in the press can accept that Biden is damaged goods, and goods that were shoddy to begin with. (I mean, you saw above how AFP buried the lede. So far, the only story I can find on this is from [cough, spew] Brietbart.) NOTE * Then again, never interrupt your enemy when they are in the process of making a mistake. Nothing wrong with a little masterful inactivity.

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Pete Buttigieg was Facebook’s 287th user. Now he says the company has too much power” [Mercury-News]. “But unlike Sen. Elizabeth Warren, [Buttigieg] hasn’t endorsed breaking up the tech giants, instead suggesting ‘a spectrum’ of regulation that could include fines, blocking new mergers or splitting up companies.” • Of course not. And read on for the most Mayo Pete quote ever: “‘What they’ve done to revitalize the city is pretty remarkable,’ marveled Matt Rogers, the co-founder of the smart* home company Nest and an investor who’s been to the city multiple times at the mayor’s invitation. ‘You go out to dinner in South Bend and the streets are full of millennials, and there are great restaurants that feel like you’re in San Francisco.’” • Wowsers. I bet you can even get a soy latté! NOTE * There’s that word…

De Blasio (D)(1): “De Blasio Among Gloria Steinem’s Top Choices For President” [Patch]. “‘Mayor de Blasio is among my top four choices for president and the only male human being who is on that list,’ Steinem said Tuesday at a news conference where she endorsed de Blasio’s proposal to require businesses to give employees at least two weeks of paid personal time. Steinem didn’t say who is competing with de Blasio for her backing.” • So there are maies running who are not human?

O’Rourke (D)(1): “Can Beto Bounce Back?” [The New Yorker]. “He vowed to visit all two hundred and fifty-four counties in Texas, and he did, usually driving himself. “We went to places so red you could see them glowing from outer space,” he says. “Places that went ninety-seven per cent for Trump. Nobody had bothered to visit those people before. I learned so much. If you want to serve people, you gotta listen to them.” He live-streamed his travels on Facebook. He never hired a pollster or a political adviser. He refused donations from political-action committees and corporations. And the campaign gained traction. Volunteers started liking, sharing, leafletting, knocking on doors.” • Because O’Rourke had a team of 2016 Sanders operatives working for him, that’s why.

O’Rourke (D)(2): “Democrat O’Rourke unveils “community-based” immigration plan” [Reuters]. “Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke proposed a new immigration plan on Wednesday that will allow churches and local communities to sponsor immigrants to the United States in becoming American citizens. O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman from the Texas border city of El Paso, said the plan would also give citizenship to 11 million undocumented immigrants living in American faster than previous plans, which have all failed to get through Congress.” • At first blush, not such a bad idea.

Sanders (D)(1): “Legislative Package Introduced to Encourage Employee-Owned Companies” [Bernie Sanders]. “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), along with Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) introduced two pieces of legislation to help workers around the country form employee-owned businesses. The WORK Act – modeled on the success of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center – would provide more than $45 million in funding to states to establish and expand employee ownership centers, which provide training and technical support for programs promoting employee ownership. The bill is also co-sponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and was introduced in the House by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.). The second bill would create a U.S. Employee Ownership Bank to provide $500 million in low-interest rate loans and other financial assistance to help workers purchase businesses through an employee stock ownership plan or a worker-owned cooperative.” • Note the Warren campaign: A “plan” is not the same thing as legislation.

Sanders (D)(2): “Democrats worry Bernie Sanders could play spoiler” [The Hill]. “The aide said that when it comes to Sanders, there is a concern among Biden supporters that ‘this guy is going to play spoiler again.’” • I don’t have time to dig out the laudatory Clinton campaign quotes about how hard Sanders worked for them in 2016 (or this year’s quotes trashing him for using a private plane to make the scheduie they set). And apparently one loyalty oath to the DNC and another to Indivisible isn’t enough for these people, so it’s not clear would would be enough. And isn’t it just a little early for the Biden folks to be picking out the drapes for the Oval Office?

Trump (R)(1): “Trump’s 2020 plan to target black, Hispanic and suburban female voters” [Axios]. “Trump was elected in 2016 with just 8% of the black vote and 28% of the Hispanic vote, per Reuters. Though it’s worth noting that he performed better among these groups than Mitt Romney did in 2012.” • Pretty amazing, when you think about it. And: “Given his policies, rhetoric, Fox News obsession and Cabinet picks, Trump knows older, white men are probably the key to any win. He just can’t get his clock cleaned with every other group.”

Warren (D)(1):

Notice how “stand up to Iran” snuck in there as a desideratum. Why do we have to do that? One of the few things Obama did that I consider an unalloyed good was the Iran nuclear deal, and what Warren could have said is that she wanted the deal reinstsated. But she didn’t say that.

Warren (D(2) “Warren’s big applause line — abolish the Electoral College — gets picked up on the campaign trail” [Yahoo News]. “It is among Warren’s biggest applause lines, as she tells audiences from one state to another that the current system makes it likely they will be ignored.” • Liberal Democrats would rather focus on Constitutional amendments or interstate compacts — or, for that matter, die — than appeal to rural voters programmatically.

“Democrats tighten requirements for second round of primary debates” [Los Angeles Times]. “The Democratic National Committee is upping the ante for its second round of presidential primary debates, doubling the polling and grass-roots fundraising requirements from its initial summer debates… The DNC’s outline for its September debate — the third of at least a dozen promised matchups during the 2020 nominating contest — decrees that candidates can participate only by reaching 2% in four approved polls released between June 28 and Aug. 28 while also collecting contributions from a minimum of 130,000 unique donors before Aug. 28. That donor list must include a minimum of 400 individuals in at least 20 states. The qualifications would remain the same for an October debate, though the party hasn’t set the deadline for measuring fundraising and polling.” • “Decrees.”

2000 Post Mortem

“Bush Finds Error In Fermilab Calculations” [The Onion] From 2001, still germane: “‘It’s true, I dabbled in the higher maths during my Yale days,’ said Bush, who spent three semesters as an assistant to Drs. Kasha and Slaughter at Yale’s renowned Sloane High-Energy Physics Lab. ‘But I didn’t have the true gift for what Gauss called ‘the musical language in which is spoken the very universe.’ If I have any gift at all, it’s my instinct for process and order.’ Continued Bush: ‘As much as I enjoyed studying physics at Yale, by my junior year it became apparent that I could far better serve humanity through a career in statecraft.’” • Back when The Onion was truly the The Onion (although they have regained form since they got their union), earning here a brilliancy prize for the most elaborate version of the “Republicans are stupid” talking point ever. Still, liberal Democrats have been using that talking point for at least 2019 – 2001 = 18 years, and it hasn’t served them very well, has it?


“Robert Mueller Makes First Public Statement on Russia Election Probe” [Bloomberg]. “Mueller said he was authorized to investigate obstruction of justice. ‘If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so’ but also did not determine that the president did commit a crime.” • Oh.


“Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump’s impeachment” [The Hill]. “‘I’m confident that if you read volume two, you will be appalled at much of the conduct. And I was appalled by it. And that’s why I stated what I stated. That’s why I came to that conclusion,’ [Amash] said. ‘We can’t let conduct like that go unchecked.’”

Realignment and Legitimacy

About those phone polls:

Sure, there are statistical techniques. But I dunno….

I am here for the DSA Dog Caucus:

Stats Watch

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, May 2019: “Fifth District manufacturing activity growth slightly picked up pace but remained moderate in May” [Econoday]. “Looking ahead, firms reported growth in spending and positive overall business conditions and remained optimistic though slightly less so than previously about growth in the coming months.”

State Street Investor Confidence Index, May 2019: “Global institutional investors continued to reduce their exposure to global equities but were less risk averse in May” [Econoday]. “[W]hile institutional investors are still wary and remain entrenched in risk-averse territory as they have been all year due to mounting global trade protectionism and growth concerns, the solid uptick in May indicates that some are buying the dip in risk assets experiencing the weakest performance of the year. ”

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of May 24, 2019: “Purchase applications are not showing any acceleration but levels are still favorable” [Econoday].

Tech: “The end of mobile” [Benedict Evans]. “There’s an old joke that the career of an analyst progresses from Word to Excel to Powerpoint. That’s pretty much what’s happened here over the last 20 years: first we discussed what might happen (“imagine if everyone had a phone!”), then we tracked the numbers of what was happening, and finally we draw diagrams and bullet points of what that means. That’s where we are now – we try to work out what it means that almost everyone has a phone or a smartphone… But this also means that now we go back to the beginning: I’m not updating my smartphone model anymore. The next fundamental trends in tech, today, are probably machine learning, crypto and regulation. I can write about those, but it’s too early to make charts.” • I wonder what China’s developers think, if David Harvey’s picture of several dozen Silicon Valley’s, none impeded by intellectual property rights, is correct. (Personally, I think machine learning will reify (in the vulgate, freeze) all our current bad tendencies into unmaintainable black boxes that every so often lose their minds or blow up. Maybe there’s opportunity there. Not jackpot-ready opportunity, though.)

The Fed: “N.Y. Fed Loses Top Officers Including Potter in Rare Double Exit” [Bloomberg]. “The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said two of its top officers are departing — including Simon Potter, who oversees its strategically vital trading desk — in a rare double exit from the senior ranks of the U.S. central bank…. “I’m very surprised that both of them would do this on the same day with three days’ notice,” said Tom Simons, a senior economist at Jefferies in New York. Simons said Potter’s job, as head of the central bank’s open-market operations, is “arguably more important than being president of the some of the regional Fed banks.’” • Odd. Can anyone, er, speculate?

The Biosphere

“The Military Is Locked in a Power Struggle with Wind Farms” [Wired]. “‘We need the space above the ground unimpeded so we can fly low to the ground,’ says Goana, commander of the 80th Training Wing at Sheppard Air Force Base. ‘Sort of like driver’s ed.’”

“EPA Ready to Scrap Biofuel Market Reform in Bid to Boost Ethanol” [Bloomberg]. “The EPA had been considering numerous possible restrictions to the holding and trading of renewable identification numbers, or RINs — the credits refiners use to prove they have fulfilled annual biofuel-blending quotas. … The RINs modifications are bundled together in the same regulation as a measure that would allow sales of gasoline containing as much as 15% ethanol during the summer… Although the EPA is backing off aggressive reforms as part of that rule, agency officials will continue to evaluate other market changes that Trump ordered them to consider to prevent price manipulation.” • I don’t think it’s ever made sense to turn oil into corn so as to make gasoline. Those RINs are intriguing, thogh!

Class Warfare

“Moving Into and Out of Patriarchy” [Grassroots Economic Organizing]. “The human heart in conflict with itself is the story of our coping poorly with the intense pain of the loss of deep connection. And it is clear that when Maggie is in the pleasure of connecting, she is in the same vulnerability as she is in her loss. The awesome power and the awful risk of being in our vulnerability described by Brené Brown in her TED talk, “The Power of Vulnerability.” Our lives are the struggle to manage this polarity. To the extent that we do this it can generate democracy; doing it badly generates patriarchy. Gilligan and Snider lay out the psychology of how both options play out.” • This is well worth a read. It’s humane, and not schematic or reductionist at all.

“Nobody Wins if Graduate Students Can’t Organize” [Chronicle of HIgher Education]. “College administrators face a choice, however: This is not merely about siding with the Trump administration against their own employees, students, and (if we’re being aspirational) colleagues. It’s about choosing to respect the authority of decision makers at the [National Labor Relations Board] who do not understand higher education, do not care about it, and could not really be much bothered to learn. It’s about willingly submitting to a ruling that determines the rights of graduate workers purely on the basis of their status as pawns in a larger labor-management game.” • If I’m a college administrator, I’m saying “Choice? What choice?”

News of the Wired

I don’t mean to pile on, but:

And toilet paper: Should be hung so the tissue rolls over the top or comes down close to the wall?

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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 (KH):

senior economist

KH writes: “Here’s Hawaii’s flower of spring: the passion fruit or lilikoi as it’s known here.”

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Sheppard Air Force Base

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