/2:00PM Water Cooler 7/10/2019

2:00PM Water Cooler 7/10/2019

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 5: Biden down at 27.1% (27.3%), Sanders up at 15.3% (14.9%), Warren down at 13.7% (13.9%), Buttigieg down at 5.0% (5.3%), Harris having jumped, flat at 15.0% (15.0%), others Brownian motion. Sanders, Harris, Warren now clustered, Biden having rebounded in the past few days, putting the busing controversy behind him, I’m guessing.

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Fundraising numbers summarized:

Sanders’ 1,000,000 people certainly contrasts with Warren’s 384,000, let alone Mayo Pete’s 294,000.

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Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden earned $15.6 million in the two years after leaving the vice presidency” [WaPo]. “The vast majority of the former vice president’s income — which totaled $11 million in 2017 and $4.6 million in 2018 — came from book payments and speaking fees, according to newly released tax returns and financial disclosure forms required of federal office-seekers.” • So I guess Biden looked at what Hillary Clinton did, and said “What a great idea!” Come on, man.

Harris (D)(1): “Kamala Harris Has a Distinguished Career of Serving Injustice” [Truthout]. “arris’s prosecutorial record, however, is far from progressive. Through her apologia for egregious prosecutorial misconduct, her refusal to allow DNA testing for a probably innocent death row inmate, her opposition to legislation requiring the attorney general’s office to independently investigate police shootings and more, she has made a significant contribution to the sordid history of injustice she decries.” • This is a very good article, with detailed examination of several cases.

Sanders (D)(1): “How to Give Away $420 Million: Cheryl and Haim Saban on Hollywood Philanthropy, Israel and 2020 Politics” [Hollywood Reporter]. “‘We love all 23 candidates,’ Haim says, then pauses. ‘No, minus one. I profoundly dislike Bernie Sanders, and you can write it. I don’t give a hoot. He’s a communist under the cover of being a socialist. He thinks that every billionaire is a crook. He calls us ‘the billionaire class.’ And he attacks us indiscriminately. ‘It’s the billionaire class, the bad guys.’ This is how communists think. So, 22 are great. One is a disaster zone.” • Somebody should ask Steyer if he agrees with Saban.

Sanders (D)(2): “Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez pressure Congress to declare climate change a national emergency” [CNN]. “Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont teamed up with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Oregon’s Rep. Earl Blumenauer on Tuesday to unveil a new resolution that would declare climate change a national emergency. ‘There is a climate emergency which demands a massive-scale mobilization to halt, reverse, and address its consequences and causes,’ the bill’s authors wrote. While it does not call for specific action, the legislation states in sharp terms that climate change is a human-made problem that threatens the fortunes of millions of Americans and demands immediate political action.”

Sanders (D)(3): Thread on Sanders’ time as Mayor:

2016 wasn’t the first time Sanders took on an entrenched Democrat machine. Nor 2020.

Steyer (D)(1): Launch video:

Lucky squillionaire wants to share the weatlh!

Steyer (D)(2): “Billionaire and activist Tom Steyer announces run for president” [USA Today]. “Steyer recently gained national prominence at the helm of progressive advocacy groups like Need to Impeach, which organizes pro-impeachment grassroots efforts and claims to have an email list of over 8.2 million Americans, and NextGen America, a climate-oriented advocacy group. In January 2019, he said he would not be joining the presidential race, saying he would instead be ‘strengthening my commitment to Need to Impeach.’” • Well, at least we know a lot of consultants’ kids are going to be able to afford college.

Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren Wins Respect in Unlikely Place—Wall Street” [Fortune]. “‘If she ends up being the nominee, I’d have no trouble supporting her at all,’ said David Schamis, chief investment officer of Atlas Merchant Capital, where he’s a founding partner alongside former Barclays Plc head Bob Diamond. While Warren isn’t Schamis’s top choice, he said: ‘I think she is smart, hardworking, responsible and thoughtful. And I think she thinks markets are important.’…. It would be ‘just wrong,’ Warren told CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ in March, to call her a democratic socialist: ‘I believe in markets. Markets that work. Markets that have a cop on the beat and have real rules and everybody follows them.’”

Warren (D)(2): “Elizabeth Warren shuns conventional wisdom for a new kind of campaign” [Politico]. “The campaign has gone without an outside polling firm, and says it has no plans to hire one, even though it is standard operating procedure for most serious candidates. Instead of initially stockpiling resources for a homestretch TV ad blitz, she’s amassed a payroll of 300-plus staffers in the early months of the campaign — overhead that could deplete her coffers if her fundraising ever falters. And now, the campaign told POLITICO that it is shunning the typical model for producing campaign ads, in which outside firms are hired and paid often hefty commissions for their work. Instead, Warren’s campaign is producing TV, digital and other media content itself, as well as placing its digital ad buys internally. Taken together, Warren’s approach is a rebuke of the consultant-heavy model of campaigns.” • And her staff doesn’t seem to be making the news, either. Which is good.

Warren (D)(3): You may have to click through to see the graphic:

I don’t like Warren’s thought process. Membership in the Cherokee tribe is civic. It’s not by blood. Hence, Warren’s 123andMe test — suggested by Pod Save America hosts though it was — was irrelevant. Worse, it shows her relying on a technocratic solution from her own in-group, instead of asking the Cherokees. Of course, if she’d attended DAPL….


Festival of Pelosi v. AOC:

AOC throws a match on the gasoline Pelosi spilled in her Maureen Dowd interview:

(Note that’s a theory of change, and not Sanders’ theory, either.)

And she wasn’t done:


“Why is Nancy Pelosi slamming AOC and helping Trump?” [CNN]. “What makes Pelosi’s remark so stunning is that it flies in the face of her often-repeated philosophy that she has espoused to House Democrats since taking control of the chamber in the 2018 midterms. ‘Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power,’ she wrote last November.”

“Why Is Nancy Pelosi Going After AOC?” [Jonathan Chait, Benjamin Hart, Eric Levitz New York Magazine]. It took three? Chait: “The conservative media has done more than any other force to elevate the AOC squad. So, from Pelosi’s perspective, continuously pointing out that they’re four people is fighting back against conservative propaganda. The campaign to elevate the squad is so successful that news reports frequently portrayed the Democrats’ freshman class on the whole as more progressive than the party, when the opposite is true.” • Very true, for one. AOC is getting in the way of Pelos’s plan to appeal to wealthy suburban Republicans!

“Tensions Between Pelosi and Progressive Democrats of ‘the Squad’ Burst Into Flame” [New York Times]. “‘This is an inevitable tension between a few progressives with one priority, which is their ideology, and a speaker with many priorities, including preserving the majority in the House, electing a Democratic president against Trump, and responding to the consensus of her caucus,’ said Steve Israel, a Democrat and former representative of New York. ‘To the extent that it distracts from Donald Trump and becomes a circular firing squad among Democrats, it can be lethal.’” • First, Steve Israel is a horrible human being and was a wretched DCCC chair. Second, all of the coverage seems to take the composition of the Democrat caucus for granted (including the new prominence of Blue Dogs). But those candidates were groomed and chosen, as the worksheets I did for the midterms showed. That the cetner of gravity of the Democrat Party moved right, despite the presence of the “Squad,” was not accident.

Obama Legacy

Regardless of what you think of #ADOS, they are certainly willing to call out Obama. Thread:

Identity Politics

“How magazines made Asian America” [Columbia Journalism Review]. “The term “Asian American” was devised in the late 1960s by students at the University of California, Berkeley, as a way to harness collective action against the chauvinist racism of the Vietnam War and express solidarity with other racial groups. Inspired by the Black Power movement, students of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean heritage who had previously thought of themselves as distinct communities imagined a pan-ethnic collective defined from within. ‘Asian American’ would be a rallying cry. It would be a way to reverse the dehumanizing stereotypes contained in the colonialist term ‘Oriental.’” • An ascriptive identity in the process of formation…

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Appeals court dismisses Emoluments Clause lawsuit in win for Trump” [The Hill]. “The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Maryland and the District of Columbia alleging that President Trump is violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, finding that they did not have the standing to sue the president.” •  Hat tip to J-LS, who called her shot on December 21, 2016 (and it was a lonely call, too).

Stats Watch

Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations, July 2019: “[I]nflation expectations at the business level are not increasing” [Econoday].

Wholesale Trade, May 2019: “Inventories at the wholesale level rose” [Econoday]. “Year-on-year, inventory growth is at 7.7 percent and well beyond only a 0.4 percent rise for underlying sales in a mismatch, like the rise in the stock-to-sales ratio, that points to the risk of unwanted inventory growth.”

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of July 5, 2019: Rose [Econoday].

Tech: “Android apps are harvesting your data even after you tell them not to, says study” [CNN]. “Thousands of popular apps from the Google Play Store are able to bypass permissions to collect user data, according to the nonprofit research center International Computer Science Institute, which partners with University of California, Berkeley. The apps work around restrictions by finding ‘side channels’ or ‘covert channels’ such as taking data from apps that do have those permissions, potentially affecting hundreds of millions of Android users.” • You’d almost think Google designed Android that way.

Tech: “Amazon has asked for permission to launch 3,200 broadband satellites” [MIT Technology Review]. “Amazon has asked for permission to launch 3,236 satellites into orbit as part of Project Kuiper. It says it wants to connect the tens of millions around the globe who don’t have broadband internet access. ‘Amazon’s mission is to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, and the Kuiper System is one of our ambitious projects to fulfill this mission,’ the filing states.” • Farewell, astronomy!

The Biosphere

“Climate change: Water and green energy produced by a single device” [BBC]. “The scientists adapted a solar panel that not only generated power, but used some of the heat energy to distil and purify sea water. They believe the idea could make a major difference in sunny climates with limited water supplies….. Similarly, producing water for humans via desalination in countries with water scarcity is a huge consumer of energy. It’s estimated that in Arab countries around 15% of electricity production is used to produce drinking water…. “It can be used for coastal areas as long as you are not talking about delivering drinking water for a city of over one million people,” said [lead author Prof Peng Wang from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia’.”

“Americans Shouldn’t Have to Drive, but the Law Insists on It” [The Atlantic]. “[T]he legal framework governing American life enforces dependency on the automobile. To begin with, mundane road regulations embed automobile supremacy into federal, state, and local law. But inequities in traffic regulation are only the beginning. Land-use law, criminal law, torts, insurance, vehicle safety regulations, even the tax code—all these sources of law provide rewards to cooperate with what has become the dominant transport mode, and punishment for those who defy it. Let’s begin at the state and local levels. A key player in the story of automobile supremacy is single-family-only zoning, a shadow segregation regime that is now justifiably on the defensive for outlawing duplexes and apartments in huge swaths of the country. Through these and other land-use restrictions—laws that separate residential and commercial areas or require needlessly large yards—zoning rules scatter Americans across distances and highway-like roads that are impractical or dangerous to traverse on foot. The resulting densities are also too low to sustain high-frequency public transit.”

Not to be a squeeing fan boy, but she’s righrt:

And a plug for victory gardens!


“New database: Water sources in 43 states contain potentially unsafe chemical levels” [McClatchy]. “More than 610 drinking water sources in 43 states contain potentially unsafe levels of chemical compounds that have been linked to birth defects, cancers, infertility, and reduced immune responses in children, according to a new database compiled by the Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University. Using Pentagon data released last year and recently obtained public water utility reports, the researchers now estimate that more than 19 million people are exposed to water contaminated with per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS.” • You’d think this would be a bigger story than it is.

Health Care

“Medicare for All: Would Patients and Physicians Benefit or Lose?” [MedPage Today]. Well worth a read, especially considering the venue; this caught my eye: “What about physicians? When Medicare was first introduced in 1965, practitioners complained loudly that the program would lead to a loss of autonomy and price controls. But in 2019, most physicians have lost any meaningful sense of autonomy, and are fully accustomed to having no control over their price structures. As Michel Accad, MD, has eloquently described, most physicians now simply serve as subcontractors for the insurance industry. Their decision-making capacities are limited, and they are plagued with administrative chores. Their ability to practice high-quality medicine is severely impaired. This is causing an extraordinary burnout rate (30-50%) and a frightening rate of suicide. Given the opportunity to practice high-quality medicine in a low-stress environment, more than half of physicians now embrace the idea of a single-payer system as the best outcome for future payment reform. Any reduction in revenues that results from a shift to Medicare-level payments would be more than offset by savings and job satisfaction benefits that would accrue from being freed of administrative burdens and costs.”

“So You Want to Overturn Obamacare. Here Are Some Things That Would Be Headaches.” [Margot Sanger-Katz, New York Times]. • Great to-do list for an intern in the Sanders White House to follow through on, ffs.

Guillotine Watch

“Millennial couple in Kansas needs help making ends meet on $500,000 a year” [MarketWatch]. “‘My wife and I are in our early thirties. We live in Kansas. I’m a CTO of well known startup, and she’s a model,’ he wrote. ‘As you can see, each year we have a large deficit. Currently, we add that to our mortgage each year. We’ve been doing this for 2 years. I’d appreciate any advice on how to reign [sic] our situation in.’” The monthly budget:

Four hundred bucks a month for “party supplies”? Really?

“The Battle of Grace Church What happened when Brooklyn’s oldest nursery school decided to become less old-fashioned? A riot among the one percent.” [New York Magazine]. “It seems that sweet Grace Church understood how best to prepare its children for a cruel, competitive world all along.” • This is brilliant, like Balzac. Episcopalians!

Another triumph for bourgeois feminism:

Class Warfare

“A strong endorsement of the $15 minimum wage from the Congressional Budget Office” [Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times]. “The CBO’s latest analysis makes clear that the benefits of a $15 minimum wage would heavily outweigh the downside. The ratio of those who would experience a higher wage vs. those who would lose their jobs or hours is about 21 to 1 (27.3 million winners, 1.3 million losers). The net gain for all workers would be $44 billion.”

“Pain Meds and Bathroom Dashes: A Philly Author’s Time Working at Amazon” [PortSide]. “The workers Guendelsberger talks to tell her that it’s [Amazon warehouse work is one] of the best jobs a person without a college degree or specialized skills could land. The thing that does upset them is ‘being treated like a robot,’ she said. ‘Their complete lack of agency’ on the job. The Amazon jobs, Guendelsberger finds out, are designed so that no worker can make a significant decision about how to do the job.”

News of the Wired

Korean zombie movie. Thread:

Does anybody know where the phrase “in my feelings” originated? Surely not a Drake song?

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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 (Peter):

Once my favorite flower, but now I realize I have more than one favorite!

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