By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
“‘My position on trade has always been that I don’t support free trade. I support fair trade,'” Shuster, R-Pa., said in a statement. ‘After reviewing TPP, I do not believe that it is good for the people of the 9th Congressional District and for our country'” [Herald-Mail].
“The Obama administration is honoring Henry Kissinger today. It shouldn’t be.” [Vox]. Inocculating Clinton?
UPDATE “[Clinton] has raised more contributions from executives in the financial services industry than all other candidates combined. That’s about $4.2 million in this election cycle” [Fortune]. “More than 500 contributors who gave more than $200 to Republican candidates earlier in this election cycle, are now giving money to Clinton rather than the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.”
“[T]here is an unbiased explanation for Wall Street’s tilt toward Hillary: Equities on average have produced markedly better returns when the incumbent political party wins the presidential election” [Marketwatch].
“Mr. Trump, who by the end of March had spent around $40 million [!!!!!!] of his fortune on the primaries, has said that he may need as much as $1.5 billion for the fall campaign, but that he will seek to raise it from donors rather than continue to self-finance” [New York Times]. “While Mr. Trump’s continued feud with the Republican establishment was likely to cheer his supporters, his intense need for money to run his general election campaign suggests the degree to which he will rely heavily on the party’s existing infrastructure.”
“In a new survey of American military personnel, Donald Trump emerged as active-duty service members’ preference to become the next U.S. president, topping Hillary Clinton by more than a 2-to-1 margin. However, in the latest Military Times election survey, more than one in five troops said they’d rather not vote in November if they have to choose between just those two candidates” [Military Times].
“Despite an agreement to require more polling locations in the wake of March’s voting fiasco, the [Arizona] House of Representatives failed to bring a bill that would bring those changes to a vote in the final hours of last week’s session” [Arizona Central]. Althought the bill had a Republican sponsor. Lots of horrid detail in on the vote, too.
“Which Women Support Hillary (and Which Women Can’t Afford To)” [The Nation]. Maslow’s heirarchy…
Our Famously Free Press
“How Digital Media Made Money Pretending To Shame Donald Trump Over A Taco Tweet” [International Business Times].
“A depressingly accurate 29-word description of the dismal state of our politics” [Chris Cilizza, WaPo]. Here it is (Cilizza’s quoting his boss, so…):
What has taken hold is an alternate reality, a virtual reality, where lies are accepted as truth and where conspiracy theories take root in the fertile soil of falsehoods.
Because the press are innocent bystanders! Like with Iraqi WMDs. Or closer to home, coverage of the Crash of 2008.
“West Virginia is considered favorable territory for Bernie Sanders. … Though Nebraska’s results are non-binding, if the electorate resembles the pro-Sanders crowd in March, he’ll have another result to tout on what could be a rough night for Clinton” [CNN].
“A Quinnipiac University poll released on Tuesday showed Clinton and Trump running neck-and-neck in three states that could be pivotal in the outcome of November’s election – Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania – with Sanders holding an edge over Trump in each of them” [Reuters]. “Clinton had 43 percent support to Trump’s 42 percent in Florida and Pennsylvania, while he drew 43 percent compared to her 39 percent in Ohio, the poll found. Sanders edged Trump by 2 percentage points in Florida and Ohio and 6 percentage points in Pennsylvania, the poll showed” (original). Margin of error territory! “Said pollster Peter Brown: “This election may be good for divorce lawyers. The gender gap is massive and currently benefits Trump. In Pennsylvania, Clinton’s 19-point lead among women matches Trump’s 21-point margin among men. In Ohio, she is up 7 points among women but down 15 points with men. In Florida she is up 13 points among women but down 13 points among men” [Political Wire].
“During the recess last week, the Democrats followed home some of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents, with Mr. Obama giving regional television interviews and the group Americans United for Change driving around billboards to urge action on the [Merrick Garland] nomination” [New York Times]. I’d hate to think Obama picked Garland just to stick it to the Republicans in an election year (and hand out some walking around money to Americans United for Change).
“Democrats see Clinton and Warren as dream team” [The Hill]. But then there is this extremely fun series of paragraphs:
One former senior Obama administration official said Warren was a “royal pain in the ass in the White House” when she worked as an assistant to the president and special adviser to the secretary of the Treasury for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The official said Warren developed a reputation as “wanting her way, wanting all of it” and “expecting to be treated as senior staff.”
Asked if Clinton could have gotten those impressions of Warren from her time in President Obama’s Cabinet, the former official added, “Oh, I don’t think you need to be a Cabinet secretary to know that Elizabeth Warren is a challenging soul.
‘Hillaryland hopefully will not feel so desperate to unify the Sanders base that she’d bring on Warren,’ the former official said. ‘I would be shocked if [Clinton] picked her.'”
“So desperate.” Ouch.
“Clinton’s strategy here is to bet that voters grow weary of the Trump drama and antics. What was fun now turns sour, six months to the date from Election Day.” [Time]. “This is a strategy that may be especially well-tailored to suburban white women, even if they’re conservatives.”
UPDATE “‘If we broke up the big banks tomorrow,’ Clinton asked, ‘would that end racism?'” [Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone]. “Logically, it was an odd thing to say. After all, lots of things worth doing, even political things, won’t ‘end racism.’ But from a practical point of view, Clinton’s gambit was brilliant politics. It effectively caricaturized Sanders as a one-note candidate too steeped in attacking billionaires to see the problems of people down on Main Street. And the line fit in a tweet, making it perfect for rocketing around the Internet.” And:
When Hillary Clinton used that line about breaking up the banks not ending racism, she opened a door for Bernie Sanders to talk about all of this. He could have talked about Wall Street not just as a symbol of international greed and corruption, but in terms of a more peculiarly American kind of ugliness.
He could have begun with subprime and plausibly traced all the way back to 40 acres and a mule, explaining the modern problem of wealth inequality as (among other things) a still-extant failure of the Civil Rights movement, an ancient wrong still not corrected.
But he didn’t. Sanders I believe fundamentally sees the Wall Street corruption issue as a matter of class, i.e., rich vs. poor. He never found a way to talk about the special edge the financial sector brought/brings to the exploitation of nonwhite America.
I agree. And the “special edge” is very evident not only in the foreclosure crisis that Taibbi writes about, but in law enforcement for profit as in Ferguson. (I’d also argue that this is what intersectionality ought to enable, when not vulgarized by identitarians.)
“Facebook denies allegations of bias against conservatives” [MarketWatch]. If Facebook was biased against conservatives, I wouldn’t have to keep swatting down right-wing memes in my newsfeed.
“How Republicans Can Still Say No to Trump” [American Conservative]. Convention shenanigains.
“Donald Trump’s primary run left him with few friends among evangelical leaders, who are now weighing sitting out the general election entirely. But there is one way, they say, to win them back: picking a vice presidential candidate socially conservative enough to compensate for Trump’s many heresies” [Politico].
UPDATE “Make no mistake. Those who support Trump, no matter how reluctantly, have crossed a moral boundary. They are standing with a leader who encourages prejudice and despises the weak. They are aiding the transformation of a party formed by Lincoln’s blazing vision of equality into a party of white resentment” [Micheal Gerson, WaPo]. After Nixon’s Southern Strategy? Is Gerson demented?
JOLTS, March 2016: “The JOLTS report offers upbeat news on the economy with job openings jumping to 5.757 million in March from February’s upwardly revised 5.608 million, boosting the job openings rate 1 tenth to 3.9 percent” [Econoday]. “The quits rate is unchanged at 2.1 percent to indicate that workers are showing limited inclination to shift jobs. Similarly, employers are showing limited inclination to cut jobs as the layoffs rate fell 1 tenth to 1.2 percent. The labor market, despite economic slowing, remains the nation’s chief strength.” And: “The BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) can be used as a predictor of future jobs growth, and the predictive elements show that the year-over-year growth rate of unadjusted private non-farm job openings improved from last month” [Econintersect].
Wholesale Trade, March 2016: “March was a healthy month for inventories in the wholesale sector, up only 0.1 percent at the same time that sales jumped 0.7 percent to keep the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged at 1.36” [Econoday]. And: “The headlines say wholesale sales were up month-over-month with inventory levels remaining at levels associated with recessions. Our analysis shows an improving trend of the 3 month averages AND inflation adjusted data is now positive” [Econintersect].
NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, April 2016: “The small business optimism index rose 1 point in April to 93.6, ending a string of declines and bouncing back from the 2-year lows set in March. But small business owners are still quite pessimistic, citing the poor economy and the political climate as the two main reasons for not expanding” [Econoday]. And: “It was a relief to see the Index turn up, ending a long string of declines. However, it’s still down from December 2014 when the Index hit an expansion high of 100” [Econintersect]. And: “Basically, an increasing number of small businesses are hiring, and more and more small businesses are growing frustrated about their ability to fill positions.” [Bloomberg]. Near-miss click-baity headline: “This
Is One Paragraph That Should Make American Workers Very Happy”
Oil: “This should be the time of year when the frac sand mines that dot western Wisconsin are buzzing with activity after a seasonal winter slowdown” [Eau Claire Leader-Telegram]. “Instead, most of the facilities in the once-booming sand mining sector sit dormant, with skeleton crews occasionally stopping by to ensure the lights are still working and groundwater runoff is properly contained.” Big hat tip to Jodi K for this real economy tidbit!
Shipping: “E-commerce giant Amazon will double the size of its airfreight fleet after it signed up to lease another 20 freighters, this time from Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (AAWW), which it will also invest in” [Air Cargo News].
The Bezzle: “Federal authorities are investigating the market-making arms of Citadel LLC and KCG Holdings Inc, looking into the possibility that the two giants of electronic trading are giving small investors a poor deal when executing stock transactions on their behalf” [Reuters].
The Bezzle: “Valeant Pharmaceuticals International has been under investigation for its tendency to buy tried-and-true, inexpensive medications only to hike the prices sky-high. The company is something of a poster child for out-of-control pharmaceutical pricing. Should it surprise us, then, that the nonprofit investment fund for University of Texas, whose endowment stands at $24 billion, was invested in the firm, albeit indirectly through hedge funds ValueAct Capital Management LLC and Viking Global Investors LP?” [Nonprofit Quarterly].
The Bezzle: “Until we address all the factors that led to Theranos’ rise and its downfall, this will happen again. Launch, hype-cycle, demise. Launch, hype-cycle, demise. Again and again. One the biggest catalysts for this cycle? Dumb money” [Fast Company]. “The influx of dumb money in health care might seem perfectly harmless: Sometimes we need to throw spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks, right? But in Theranos’ case, the company’s blood-testing technology was intended to be used on real patients to ‘diagnose hundreds of diseases.’ If Theranos had been vetted by a biotech firm, it’s doubtful that the company would have gotten away with not having a peer reviewed study.”
“Meet the site that is like Uber — but for tractors” [WaPo]. “It couldn’t come at a better time: 2016 is expected to be the least profitable year for American farmers in more than 10 years” Popular Mechanics].
“When we sort the S&P 500 by market capitalization from largest to smallest, we find that only three stocks (Microsoft Corp. MSFT, +1.60% Apple Inc. AAPL, +0.47% and Google parent Alphabet Inc. GOOG, +1.28% GOOGL, +1.22% ) comprise 10% of the index’s total value” [Marketwatch].
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 62, Greed (previous close: 60, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 605 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 10 at 1:02pm. B-o-r-i-n-g.
“If we take as our starting premise that everyone should be able to afford decent health care—something that literally everyone agrees with—then the most obvious solution is single payer or one of its close cousins, such as we see in every other advanced economy in the world. ” [James Kwak, Baseline Scenario]. “”Not just Republicans, but also most Democrats are convinced that markets must be better, because of something they learned in Economics 101. Health care is one of the best examples of economism—the outsized influence that the competitive market model has had on public policy, even in areas where its lessons patently don’t apply.” Cf. Rule #1 of “Neoliberalism Expressed as Simple Rules,” now inside the Overton Window, albeit at the far left side.
“[Research] published in the BMJ on Tuesday, shows that ‘medical errors’ in hospitals and other health-care facilities are incredibly common and may now be the third-leading cause of death in the United States — claiming 251,000 lives every year, more than respiratory disease, accidents, stroke and Alzheimer’s” [WaPo].
“Physicians and hospitals must intimately collaborate or care does not get delivered. At the same time, hospitals and physicians directly compete in surgery, imaging, and other ambulatory services. In this relationship of simultaneous competition and interdependency, the borderline between hospitals and physicians is fraught both with economic conflict and moral/legal risk” [Health Affairs]. “Conflict with physicians over contracts, practice prerogatives, and scope of professional practice poses one of the single most significant career threats to hospital administrators. Hospital executive colleagues have commented to us that half or more of their job is “political” — managing the diverse economic interests of their medical staffs. One confessed that there is nothing more dispiriting in his job than fighting with physicians over money.”
“Flint mayor diverted water-crisis money to political PAC, suit says” [CNN]. Eesh. I would like for this one not to be true. Detroit-area readers?
“Water crisis shut down many thermal power plants in India: Piyush Goyal” [Financial Express].
“Strange seaweed rewrites history of green plants” [Nature]. “A mysterious deep-ocean seaweed diverged from the rest of the green-plant family around 540 million years ago, developing a large body with a complex structure independently from all other sea or land plants. All of the seaweed’s close relatives are unicellular plankton. The finding, published today in Scientific Reports1, upends conventional wisdom about the early evolution of the plant kingdom. ‘People have always assumed that within the green-plant lineage, all the early branches were unicellular,’ says Frederik Leliaert, an evolutionary biologist at Ghent University in Belgium. ‘It is quite surprising that among those, a macroscopic seaweed pops up.'” From the The Green Algae Tree of Life project.
“Jellyfish never stop. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, they move through the water in search of food such as shrimp and fish larvae, on journeys that can cover several kilometers a day” [Scientific American]. “They are more efficient than any other swimmer, using less energy for their size than do graceful dolphins or cruising sharks.”
Imperial Collapse Watch
This is not a parody:
— Co.Design (@FastCoDesign) May 10, 2016
As Archie Bunker said: “You can never buy beer, you can only rent it.” So Budweiser’s move is quite appropriate for a financialized United States.
“Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education took the rare step of cutting off federal student aid to two for-profit college chains, each accused of deceiving the Department and their own students. Now the Department has denied an appeal by one of the schools, Computer Systems Institute (CSI!), and done so with a bit more, shall we say, emphasis than usual” [Republic Report]. “Just for example, the Department uses a term not often applied in higher education in referring to two individuals whom CSI claimed were major employers of its students; the Department calls them ‘grifters.'”
“Charter schools have been using waivers to get out of teaching comprehensive sexual health classes, state mandated hiring and firing practices, substitute teacher policies and many other rules. Who’s watching? Nobody” [Colorado Independent].
“A nonprofit group created by close advisers to Mayor Bill de Blasio to push his political agenda, using unlimited contributions from donors, has stopped raising and spending money and is in the process of shutting down” [New York Times].
“The newest group of potential outlaws in the fashion industry is not made up of tax evading Italian design houses. Instead, it is a slew of big-name brands and famous bloggers teaming up for promotional purposes that are consistently choosing to blatantly disregard the provisions of the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) Act” [The Fashion Law].
“National Park Service (NPS) rangers won’t be decorated with corporate logos à la NASCAR drivers, but the agency’s plan to allow advertising-like recognition of donors, including a beer maker, flirts with making national parks resemble ballparks” [WaPo].
“5 years after Sandusky, Penn State has learned nothing. Zilch. Nada” [Will Bunch, Philadelphia Daily News]. Everything wrong with our university system here, including powerful, overpaid, and corrupt administrations.
“The recession ended seven years ago, but persistent joblessness and underemployment marred the economic expansion that followed. A growing body of research suggests the economic trauma has left financial and psychic scars on many Americans, and that those marks are likely to endure for decades” [Wall Street Journal, “The Recession’s Economic Trauma Has Left Enduring Scars”]. Reparations, then?
“In colonial America, ‘the very style in which one formed letters was determined by one’s place in society,’ writes historian Tamara Thornton in Handwriting in America: A Cultural History. Thanks to the rigorous teachings of professionals called ‘penmen,’ merchants wrote strong, loopy logbooks, women’s words were intricate and shaded, and upper-class men did whatever they felt like” [Atlas Obscura].
“Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates — who has established himself as the country’s preeminent author on African-American issues — has purchased a spectacular three-story home at 207 Lincoln Road in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens” [New York Post]. “The landmarked Brooklyn brownstone sold for its full $2.1 million asking price. Coates used an LLC, Ellen And William Craft Excursions, to purchase the home.”
News of the Wired
“The LMFDB is an extensive database of mathematical objects arising in Number Theory” [LMFDB]. “Welcome to the LMFDB, the database of L-functions, modular forms, and related objects. These pages are intended to be a modern handbook including tables, formulas, links, references, etc. to very concrete objects, in particular specific L-functions and their sources.” You’ll like this, if this is the sort of thing you like.
“Ten ways to tell you might be sitting next to an economist” [The Economist]. “9. He only relaxes when the plane reaches 35,000 feet because then it’s in ‘general equilibrium’.” As I’ve said: Watch out for airplane metaphors!
“What the researchers found was that when imagining stealing an item, participants showed much more activation in the lateral orbital frontal cortex of their brains. Among other things, this part of the brain is associated with feelings of moral sensitivity and it was much more active when test subjects were thinking about stealing physical items than it was for intangible items such as digital files” [Torrent Freak].
Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (Phil H):
Stump ringed by several root suckers that have grown into trees themselves. Think the tree is a Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), but not sure since didn’t think to ask at the time. Photo taken on a trip to Sutton Hoo burial mounds in England late last month, April 2016.
Seems very meta to me… And thanks to Phil for his portfolio of stumps!
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