By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
“Vietnam’s National Assembly could ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership either in July or October with an eye toward ‘systematically — and occasionally slowly — moving toward implementation,’ U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius said Wednesday” [Politics]. “The process of implementing a plan to comply with the TPP’s labor obligations will take place in ‘partnership with us, with other TPP members and with the private sector,’ the ambassador added, ‘because the private sector has lots to gain from full implementation of all of the TPP commitments, and particularly the labor commitments.'” I’m told that nobody does “slow” like a Vietnamese bureaucrat. And the talk of “labor commitments” looks like it’s for domestic consumption.
“Is it technically possible to conclude TTIP in 2016?” [BorderLex]. Let’s hope Betteridge’s Law applies. “The US administration and key EU leaders are seeking to finalise negotiations of towards the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership by the end of 2016. The main reason is the political calendar in the US, with the outgoing Obama administration wanting to wrap up at a time when nobody knows what kind of trade policy the US will adopt next year. But is it at all – technically – possible to conclude talks in 2016? A close look at the state of play of TTIP negotiations indicates it’s not the case – unless both sides significantly reduce the scope of the deal.”
Lambert here: Access journalism comes from the Republican as well as the Democrat establishment, that is, from the political class taken as a whole. There’s an awful lot of noise right now, and very little signal. Hence this section will have few links, and more commentary, than usual.
Our Famously Free Press
“Did the media overstep by crowning Clinton the nominee?” [Margaret Sullivan, WaPo]. Lambert here: I liked Sullivan‘s work, mostly, at the Times. Here, however, Sullivan in essence urges that AP called the race for Clinton on election eve as the result of institutional imperatives, so “Move along people, move along, there’s no story here.” Further, she urges that not making the call would have been “suppressing” the story, a la the Times suppressing James Risen’s story on Bush’s warrantless surveillance until after Bush was safely elected.
I don’t buy it. First, “solidly reported” or not, there’s no real story, let alone a scoop; that superdelegates overwhelmingly supported Clinton has been widely known for a year, and that a projected combination of pledged and unpledged delegates would probably clinch the election for Clinton has also been a widely known scenario. (The nomination, of course, is actually clinched when delegates actually vote, a process that the Democrat establishment oddly, or not, seems ready to dispense with). Second, executives and editors control the calendar, and in a routinized process like a delegate survey, setting the start point for the data gathering determines the end point for publication. Are we really to believe that the editor who assigned the story didn’t know the work product would be delivered on election eve? Or that an executive somehow missed the implications? Third, the margin was one. Yes, one. Finally, Sullivan sets up a straw man. Nobody is saying “suppress the story.” What I am saying is assign the story so that it’s not published on election eve! 38 countries ban pre-election polling for some number of days, including “Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, Greece, Mexico, Norway, Poland and Venezuela. In France, election polls are banned on polling day and the day before.” The United States should follow these civilized countries and do the same.
“Why California looked close for Bernie Sanders, but wasn’t” [McClatchy]. The polls showed a dead heat between Sanders and Clinton; the results were Clinton by >10%. The article gives some explanations.
Lambert here: Of course, I support the world standard for voting: Hand-Marked, Hand-Counted Paper Ballots, Publicly Tabulated. That said, on the basis of very fragmentary information, my model of the Democrat primary voting process is state and local apparatchiks “working toward the Führer”*; what could be called (hat tip Shystee) an “emergent conspiracy,” emerging organically as “the party decided,” and not centrally controlled, as by a Bond villain or villainess. Sanders having been successfully other-ed as a non-Democrat, Democrat officialdom felt licensed to throw every small institutional obstacle in his way, opportunisticaly. From memory: Purging voter rolls of likely Sanders supporters, ballot gaming large and small, shrinking the number of polling places, long lines, no parking, deceptive signage, and so forth. As we know from Republican-run elections (Florida 2000; Ohio 2004) these small obstacles add up; election fraud the old-fashioned way. That’s not to say that Sanders would have won; it is to say that our election apparatus is irremediably corrupt and should be brought up to world standards by removing it entirely from partisan control and installing “national technical means of verification,” as the arms race negotiators would call it: Hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted, in public. When we bring some Canadians down here to show us how to do Medicare for All, they could show us how to do this, too.
NOTE * Godwin’s Law eruption in 10, 9, 8 counting, 7….
“The five days in 2008 that propelled Clinton to today” [E.J. Dionne, WaPo]. I’m actually sympathetic to this story, but consider this passage:
The Hillary Clinton who prevails and wins loyalists, I’d argue, brings together two aspects of the Methodist tradition in which she was raised and, by extension, two sides of the American character. She embodies the tensions and, sometimes, contradictions of what the theologian Michael Novak once described as the “communitarian individual.” Her individualistic side sees salvation as depending on determination, grit and a dedication to work, and more work. Her communal side (she wrote a book, after all, called “It Takes a Village”) runs through all her policy proposals, the values she lifts up (“all of us together” in 2008, “stronger together” now) and her attitude toward her friends. Those two instincts keep her going. “
So naturally I searched on “famous Methodists in fiction” and came up with Sinclair Lewis’s Elmer Gantry:
During his career, Gantry contributes to the downfall, physical injury, and even death of key people around him, including a sincere minister, Frank Shallard, who is plagued by doubt. Especially ironic are the way he champions love, an emotion he seems incapable of, in his sermons, preaches against ambition, when he himself is so patently ambitious, and organizes crusades against (mainly sexual) immorality, while he has difficulty resisting temptation in this direction himself (and indeed, normally gives in to temptation).
Replace financial corruption with sexual temptation in the above passage, and you’ve got a useful corrective to Dionne’s hagiography, with Clinton as the Methodist protagonist, not Gantry.
“At Burlington Airport, Vermonters Welcome Sanders Home” [Seven Days]. ” After landing at Burlington International Airport that evening, he bypassed a horde of reporters gathered outside the Heritage Aviation terminal and focused his attention instead on a group of supporters standing across the street. He shook hands and posed for photos, then declared, ‘Alright, go home. It’s cold!'” (And he’s right. It’s freezing up here, I’m guessing as a result of the Canadian oil sands Ft McMurray fires.)
“There Are More White Voters Than People Think. That’s Good News for Trump” [Nate Cohn, New York Times]. I wonder if Cohn identifies as white, or Jewish, and if the latter, whether he voted for the first Jewish Presidential candidate, or whether Cohn’s an antisemite? (New readers, should I have issued an irony alert here?)
“Donald Trump gave the speech Republicans desperately needed. It might have come too late” [WaPo]. With video, very much worth listening to; I’d be interested to hear what readers think.
Clinton Email Hairball
These are the long-form sources I’ve found most useful on Clinton’s email. Since it looks like that simmering scandal is about to have the lid blown off, one way or another, readers can familiarize themselves with the issues using them:
1. “Do I Really Need to Worry About Hillary’s Emails? Yes. She Will Be Indicted. (Full Form)” [Informed Vote]. A former policy debater takes up every possible argument from both sides with evidence. Impressive.
2. “The Clinton Email Scandal Timeline [Thompson Timeline]. This is not simply a graphical timeline, but a ginormous aggregation of links and quotes that you can navigate chronologically.
3. “Hillary Clinton’s Emails Now Might Finally Take Her Down” [LawNewz]. Shorter, but from the heart of the establishment. I would bet that every worker bee in Washington that has read this agrees with it. The implication is that if Clinton is elected, she will be impeached. And rightly.
Jobless Claims, week of June 4, 2016: “The labor market is suddenly looking much better than it did as jobless claims data show across-the-board improvement. Initial claims fell 4,000 in the June 4 week to what is a very impressive and very low 264,000 level” [Econoday]. And the four-week rolling averages improved [Econintersect].
Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of June 5, 2016: Unchanged [Econoday]. ” This is the second straight solid showing for this reading which did dip at mid-May. Strength in consumer confidence measures reflects optimism in the jobs outlook.”
Wholesale Trade, April 2016: “Wholesales inventories rose a very sharp 0.6 percent in April in a result that will lift early estimates for second-quarter GDP. And the build (risking a double negative) is not unwanted as sales in the wholesale sector rose a very strong 1.0 percent. The mix actually points to a leaner level of inventories with the stock-to-sales ratio down to 1.35 from 1.36” [Econoday]. “This report, like jobless claims earlier today, is a surprise on the upside, contrasting with what has been a recent downside run of economic data.”
ETFs: “Fixed-income ETFs as a group have attracted roughly $8 out of every $10 headed into ETFs in 2016, raking in some $38 billion in fresh net assets so far this year. The rising popularity of bond ETFs has been largely linked to growing investor demand for ways to capture yield and to manage portfolio risk in the face of increased equity market volatility” [ETF.com].
Shipping: “Panama Canal Authority: 17 days until world trade upgrades” [Splash247]. “[T]alk of a rival Central American waterway has gone quiet. Beijing telecoms tycoon Wang Jing’s plans to build a canal through Nicaragua have cooled. Panama sends a team to Nicaragua regularly to check out what is happening on the ground. It seems Wang’s own financial problems, combined with fierce environmental opposition to the construction, have at least delayed any canal.”
The Bezzle: ” A mixed set of rules internationally and low fines in some countries mean that bribery often pays off for companies even when they get caught, inter-governmental think-tank, the OECD, said on Thursday” [Futures]. “Using cash-flow simulations, the OECD calculated that 23 countries’ maximum fines were not high enough to offset the financial return on investments in which bribery is involved…. However, higher fines alone would not be enough to deter bribery because regulations are often poorly enforced. The three countries with the most punitive fines, which were not identified in the report, had not successfully prosecuted any company for bribery.”
The Bezzle: “Why I have finally taken off the Apple Watch for the last time” [Guardian]. “smartwatches are a solution in search of a problem. A technology created, not to serve consumer demand, but to serve the need of device manufacturers to fill the revenue hole created by declining smartphone growth. You don’t need one, and neither do I. It just took me nine months of wearing it to realise.”
The Bezzle: “YCombinator, probably the most famous tech-company accelerator, is starting a pilot program to test the idea of universal basic income” [Bloomberg]. Because with BIG, everybody could afford to buy an Apple Watch! (Again, YCombinator is Patient Zero for Bezzle Buzzwords like “innovation,” “disruption,” “startup,” “founder,” and so on. Be sure to count the spoons when these guys leave the house.)
Political Risk: “[San Francisco’s] municipal officials are drafting an “economic resiliency plan” — one of the first of its kind in the U.S — to ensure the city of 865,000 can better withstand a financial earthquake akin to the one that roiled global markets in 2008 and left some U.S. cities on the verge of economic ruin” [Bloomberg]. Readers, can anybody send a link to the San Francisco plan?
Political Risk: “It’s clear that homeownership rates have declined for everyone during the past 10 years, not just for millennials” [Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta]. I’m filing this interesting link under politcal risk since — speculating freely — perhaps people are reluctant to get involved with the financial system, given that it’s rife with fraudsters and thieves. In fact, it’s hard to think of a society-wide system these days that people would willingly enter, at least without credentialed protection in the form of a lawyer or an accountant; this would certainly include the health care system, but also the law enforcement system, and large swaths of the educational system, at all levels.
“United Technologies Chief Executive Gregory Hayes estimated that 44% of the company’s 1,600 suppliers—including the 500 to 600 who supply parts and materials for the engines themselves—weren’t meeting the company’s on-time delivery and quality control targets. ‘Forty-four percent is the challenge,’ Mr. Hayes said” [Wall Street Journal, “Pratt Struggles With Supply Chain for Jet Engine”]. As an air traveler, Mr. Hayes’s timing problems don’t affect me, but his quality control issues very well might. At some point, there’s going to be a Constellation moment, when the MBAs end up shaving just a wee bit too much quality off the requirements, the specifications, the inspections, and the parts themselves….
“Starbucks has more customer money on cards than many banks have in deposits” [MarketWatch]. The easy joke being that Starbucks coffee is to coffee as GM cars are to cars….
“Market Income In 2013 For Households In The Top 1 Percent Was 188 Percent Higher Than It Was In 1979” [Econintersect].
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 78, Extreme Greed (previous close: 80, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 79 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 9 at 12:54pm. Oh noes! Down a point!
“Movement “Nuit Debout”: Is it just about France’s labor reforms?” [Defend Democracy Press].
“Welcome to Larry Page’s Secret Flying-Car Factories” [Bloomberg]. “[B]etter materials, autonomous navigation systems, and other technical advances have convinced a growing body of smart, wealthy, and apparently serious people that within the next few years we’ll have a self-flying car that takes off and lands vertically—or at least a small, electric, mostly autonomous commuter plane.” Squillionaires with bright ideas… Philip K. Dick’s wonderful Game Players of Titan has flying cars as part of daily life in a future world, but that world is depopulated….
“The Economist Magazine, Marxism and the Conventional Wisdom” [Philip Pilkington, Econintersect].
“But this latest survey is evidence that good old-fashioned jobs retain their allure. Not everybody wants to be independent, and the U.S. labor market is not being transformed wholesale overnight” [Bloomberg]. “Then again, with the job market now sputtering, independence could be back in fashion soon enough.” Maybe, some day, regulating “the economy” by throwing people out of work will be seen for the barbaric relic it is.
“Selfishness Is Learned” [Nautil.us]. “The researchers worked under the assumption that snap judgments reveal our intuitive impulses. Our intuition, apparently, is to cooperate with others. Selfish behavior comes from thinking too much, not too little.”
News of the Wired
“LISA Pathfinder Reports Record-Breaking Gravitational Wave Results” [Scientific American]. Surf’s up!
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 (600px minimum, please). Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (ChiGal):
I couldn’t grow pansies this year, but love those rich colors…
Readers, I’m running out of plants! Whether your intentions are artistic and/or documentary and/or amusing, you know what to do…. I’ve liked the creativity of plant videos, fungi, stumps, triptyches, and so on, but if your tomatoes are doing well, send them along too!