By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
“More and more people know that this this is the real objective of free trade, to lower wages and crush organized labor in order to boost profits. And this is why the media has been unable to undermine public support from Brexit or Trump, because the issues impact working people and their standard of living DIRECTLY. The majority of voters now believe that these elite-backed policies are destructive to their interests and a threat to their survival. That’s why they remain indifferent to the media’s charges of racism” [Counterpunch].
UPDATE “Are Obama and Clinton Counting on Republican Majorities to Pass TPP?” [Counterpunch]. Throwing a flag on the Betteridge’s Law violation.
UDPATE “Headed into Tuesday, the big question on trade will be how far GOP Platform Committee delegates flip-flop on free trade. In 2012, the party formally called for enacting the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. On Monday, delegates in a subcommittee stripped from the party platform draft language opposing passage of the TPP in the congressional lame-duck session this winter” [Wall Street Journal]. “Though Republican National Committee delegates will hash out the party’s platform this morning, the most likely outcome now appears to be sticking with a specific language condemning trade deficits without offering a position on either the North American Free Trade Agreement or the TPP, both of which presumptive nominee Donald Trump has promised to upend.”
UPDATE “Bernie Sanders will launch organizations to spread progressive message” [USA Today].
“In an exclusive interview with USA TODAY, the Vermont senator detailed plans to within the next few weeks to keep his progressive movement alive. The Sanders Institute will help raise awareness of “enormous crises” facing Americans. The Our Revolution political organization will help recruit, train and fund progressive candidates’ campaigns. And a third political organization may play a more direct role in campaign advertising.
. And he’ll continue to raise funds for candidates while campaigning for them all over the country. He said he probably will campaign for Tim Canova, a progressive primary challenger to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who chairs the Democratic National Committee.
As readers know [sound of broken record], my operational definition for victory in the 2016 election is a standalone left (very much opposed to liberal and conservative) entity (and I say “entity” as opposed to party, since the time frame for both a hostile takeover of the Democrats and determining whether the Greens have the organizational capacity to be a party is beyond 2016.) In fact, I think this entity is more important than which candidate wins the Presidency (so I differ from Sanders on that point.)
This story makes me very happy. We’ll have to see exactly how the organizations are set up, and who the hires will be, but if you think the Democrat establishment is happy about this, then you should think again. And if the operational definition of Sanders “endorsing” Clinton is these entities and campaigning for Democrats like Canova, then I’m fine with Sanders doing what he promised he said he would do, which was endorsing her (though I’m not happy about the timing). My heart is not broken. (Subject, as I have said before, to Sanders retaining control of the list.)
“In Mahoning County, [Ohio,] home to Youngstown, one of the great steel cities of the early 20th century, 6,171 Democrats [registered as Republicans]. Fewer than 200 Republicans wanted to become Democrats” [CNN]. “‘I looked at Republican turnout on election night and I saw 34,000 Republicans had voted,’ [Republican chair Mark] Monroe said. ‘I nearly fell off my chair because there were only 14- or 15,000 Republicans in Mahoning County.'” About 10% of Clinton’s 166K margin.
“How much do you know about what American voters think?” [WaPo]. Interactive quiz…
Republican national convention live feed [Los Angeles Times].
“Guide to Republican National Convention” [NBC Chicago].
“Ohio Gov. John Kasich is ‘making a big mistake’ by skipping the Republican National Convention this week in Cleveland, Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort said Monday morning” [Politico]. “‘You know what, he’s making a big mistake,’ Manafort said. “He’s hurting his state and embarrassing his state, frankly. But most of the Republicans who aren’t coming are people who have been part of the past. And people who are part of the future of the Republican Party are, frankly, going to be here participating in the program.'” In a way, I agree with Manafort, for good or ill. I’m a little amazed by how our famously free press treats the Parliamentary Republican Party as significant when (a) Trump stomped them and (b) they’d be snarking all over them if the candidate were anybody other than Trump.
UPDATE “Many [delegates] are taking part in the Republican convention and helping to nominate Donald Trump only out of concern for their party or because they dislike presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton so intensely” [Jon Ward, Yahoo News]. “One person who helped Trump crush the [Never Trump] uprising admitted that he wasn’t even sure if he’d vote for Trump this fall. Many others in the pro-Trump faction of this week’s fight evinced no enthusiasm for the work, signaling with their body language or with facial expressions — a roll of the eyes here, a shaking of the head there — that they were not happy about their task.”
UPDATE “Overhead was the steady roar of jets coming into Cleveland’s airports, carrying convention delegates who won’t get any closer than those 3,000-or-so elevated feet to Tamir’s former playground — or the problems of western Cleveland — over the four days” [Will Bunch, Philadelphia Daily News].
“And many [journalists covering the Republican National convention] are packing protective gear—kevlar vests, helmets, gas masks—stuff that usually stays in the closet unless their assignment is a war zone” [Wired].
And then there’s this:
Mace (yes that mace) is in Cleveland and welcomes RNC pic.twitter.com/TVPKDqAOu4
— Chris Arnade (@Chris_arnade) July 17, 2016
Cleveland is Mace world headquarters…
“A crucial step in unifying a political party, akin to the laying down of arms after a long war, is the moment when losing candidates relinquish all the data they hoarded during their primary campaigns to the party organization. This moment is usually specified in contracts as the start of the convention, at which point the data can be redistributed the the presidential nominee and down-ballot candidates nationwide” [Bloomberg]. Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich have not given their data to Trump. Nor Sanders to Clinton.
“According to the most recent polls, as many as 6 in 10 Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Hillary Clinton and as many as two-thirds don’t like Donald Trump” [WaPo]. With charts. 43% see Clinton as exhibiting “poor judgement.” For Trump: 51%. Ouch.
UPDATE “If Trump loses, what Barack Obama used to call “the fever” of conservative extremism won’t “break,” for the simple reason that the keepers of the ideological flame loathe Trump as a heretic and won’t for a moment accept responsibility for anything about his campaign. The lesson many of them would “learn” from a Trump loss is the same they “learned” from McCain’s loss in 2008 and Romney’s in 2012: Only a rigidly orthodox conservative GOP can win national elections” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “If, somehow, Hillary Clinton loses, it’s unclear Democrats will ‘learn’ much of anything either….”
UPDATE “Fact check: Trump oversells Pence’s record” [Indianapolis Star]. No doubt!
Housing Market Index, July 2016: “Growth in the new home market is solid but not accelerating, based on the housing market index which edged 1 point lower in the July report to a 59 level that is still well above breakeven 50” [Econoday]. “Today’s results, though not robust, shouldn’t upset expectations for solid gains in tomorrow’s building starts & permits data. Housing data have been volatile but continue to point to a positive contribution from the sector to overall economic growth.”
Currency Speculation: “[M]y narrative is that Europeans and other holders of euro, in an attempt to ‘flee to safety’ sold their euro and bought Swiss francs which are nothing more than Swiss tax credits. The SNB then sold more than half of those euro for $ for much the same reason. So the effect on fx markets has been that of large numbers of euro being sold for $, driving down the euro vs the $, which may or may not have run its course” [Mosler Economics]. “I also suspect that those sellers of euro have ongoing euro liabilities and at some point need to sell their francs to buy euro. That is, they are fundamentally ‘short’ euro. Meanwhile, the euro, driven down by fear, has worked to generate euro area trade surpluses which are ‘draining’ the euro sold by all the agents selling euro to buy other currencies. And this trade surplus will continue to drain euro from global markets until it reverses.”
Shipping: In Turkey, the Bosporous is open, and the FAA has banned commercial flights (but not other international carriers) [Wall Street Journal].
Shipping: “Companies such as Fetchr, what3words and OkHi are trying to solve one of the most vexing problems in e-commerce—the lack of conventional addresses for the delivery of online purchases” [Wall Street Journal]. “Some try to incorporate common language—“near the Pizza Hut”—into apps, while what3words effectively gives everyone an address by assigning a unique series of three words to every 10-foot by 10-foot square of the Earth’s surface.” I’m not so sure about that what3words technology, given my vivid imagination about what might be delivered.
Shipping: “It looks like two big fleets will control the container shipping competition in the trans-Pacific market”: “2M Alliance,” and “THE Alliance” [Wall Street Journal].
The Bezzle: “[Germany’s Rocket] is in many respects a microcosm of today’s global web startup scene. At this point, Rocket and its portfolio of [startup] clones are the epitome of the global tech downturn, struggling to prove that they can be profitable” [Wall Street Journal].
Honey for the Bears: “According to the most recent [Michigan] state jobs data, wages for manufacturing production workers in May sunk to their lowest levels in the last 12 years as the average hours worked dipped to the lowest point since 2009. Meanwhile, the number of people working in manufacturing hit its highest level in almost a decade” [MBiz]. Best economy ever. What’s wrong with these people?
Honey for the Bears: “A “New Normal”? The Prospects for Long-Term Growth in the United States” [Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond]. This Maine Bear reads this piece as doubling down on #FAIL. Plucking a sentence at random: “In addition to a slowing rate of innovation, Gordon argues that the U.S. economy faces four big headwinds.” Not only do we get the bullshit tell “innovation,” we get the bullshit tell of an elite aircraft metaphor!
Political Risk: “Wealthy U.S. investors are holding record cash balances out of fear that the U.S. presidential election will wreak havoc on their retirement accounts, a senior UBS Group AG (UBSG.S) executive said” [Reuters].
The Fed: “The Atlanta Fed’s model sees the US tracking 2.4% annualized growth in Q2. The NY Fed’s model puts Q2 growth at 2.2% and Q3 growth at 2.6%. If the data retains this vigor, it would be consistent with the Fed removing more accommodation. The global risk environment may again be the swing consideration” [Brown Brothers Harriman, Across the Curve]. But: “You’d think that by now they’d realize that all that rate cutting and so called ‘money printing’ has nothing to do with the price level or ‘accommodation’…:” [Mosler Economics].
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 90, Extreme Greed (previous close: 89, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 81 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 18 at 12:06pm. 90 at last!
“[A]cidifying seawater prevents the tasty mollusks from attaching to rocks and other surfaces, scientists from the University of Washington found in a new study. And while mussels are famously good at sticking to things, it turns out they’re pretty useless at everything else” [Grist]. “If they can’t cling to rocky surfaces near the surf line, they sink, and become easy targets for predators.
“The golden age of antibiotics appears to be coming to an end, its demise hastened by a combination of medical, social and economic factors. For decades, these drugs made it easy for doctors to treat infections and injuries. Now, common ailments are regaining the power to kill” [Los Angeles Times].
“Here’s what Florida’s massive toxic algae bloom looks like from space” [WaPo].
“In the wake of the Flint water crisis, amid profound concerns over an aging oil pipeline under the Great Lakes, with an ongoing, urgent need to decrease pollution and improve air quality and public health in southwest Detroit, Gov. Rick Snyder has appointed … wait for it … a former oil-industry lobbyist, Heidi Grether, to head the state’s Department of Environmental Quality” [Detroit Free Press]. Seems legit.
“‘I continue to be concerned by what seems to be a lack of understanding on the part of the justices that a little bit of money can breed corruption,” Mr. Abramoff said when I asked him about the McDonnell case'” [New York Times]. “‘When somebody petitioning a public servant for action provides any kind of extra resources — money or a gift or anything — that affects the process,’ Mr. Abramoff said.” Boy howdy, I remember when Bush was in power, Abramoff’s quote would have been all over Democrat blogs. For weeks. Plus ça change…
More on McDonnell: “In the court’s careful reading of the federal bribery statutes, the legal definition of corruption comes down to what counts as an “official act.” This, we’re informed, has to involve “a formal exercise of government power” in which a public official decides or agrees to decide on a matter that may, by law, be brought before him. Ergo, as the court reasons, “Setting up a meeting, talking to another official, or organizing an event—without more—does not fit that definition of ‘official act.’” So all the other things that public officials may do that don’t technically count as “official acts”—including everything that McDonnell did for Williams and Anatobloc—don’t fall under the statutes” [The Baffler]. “So just to be clear, justices: As far as federal law is concerned, it’s permissible to buy your very conscientious governor a Rolex, his wife a high-end ball gown, and their daughter a wedding feast to get a promotional (but most definitely not official) launch party in the governor’s mansion? Yes, Roberts regrettably writes for the Court.”
“Cosmopolitanism is not a tribal trait; it is a virtue, as much as courage or honesty or compassion” [Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker]. I’ve never understood why Filipina “helpers” in Hong Kong, or Bangla Deshis building soccer stadiums for the slave states of the Gulf, or Burmese working in Thai fields and factories aren’t regarded as “cosmpolitan.” Surely their experiences of — and contributions to — globalization are just as important as those of the author of Paris to the Moon? (Which I quite like, but then I grew up with The New Yorker….)
UPDATE “One of the more bizarre features of modern liberal discourse is the degree to which it depends on interpersonal social engineering. The basic premise is that through all kinds of influence tactics (example-setting, call-outs, signal-boosting, legitimizing / delegitimizing, enabling, and so on) you can get the people around you to behave certain ways… Liberals call this “normalizing”, [Pick-Up Artist (!!)] call this ‘patterning’ or ‘programming,’ but it’s operationally identical” [Carl Beijer]. “It assumes that people basically just mimick each other, and has its conceptual roots not in a scientific understanding of human behavior, but in pre-scientific theories of sympathetic magic. This kind of pseudo-science characterizes most of these theories of social engineering; they rarely have much basis in hard science, if any at all.” From May, but I bet it caused some heads to explode….
“The slow collapse of the social contract is the backdrop for a modern mania for clean eating, healthy living, personal productivity, and ‘radical self-love’—the insistence that, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, we can achieve a meaningful existence by maintaining a positive outlook, following our bliss, and doing a few hamstring stretches as the planet burns” [The Baffler]. “The more frightening the economic outlook and the more floodwaters rise, the more the public conversation is turning toward individual fulfillment as if in a desperate attempt to make us feel like we still have some control over our lives.”
“Why private equity is backing the world’s most violent sport” [Quartz]. “Despite the brutality—or more likely, because of it—WME-IMG’s purchase of [Ultimate Fighting Championship®] gives it a product that attracts millions of young, mostly male viewers that, unlike other forms of televised entertainment, is best consumed live. Live programming means commercials can’t be skipped—it’s why there’s been a proliferation of live musicals on US TV, and partly why the rights to soccer, football, basketball and other sports command billion-dollar rights packages.” And then watching those working class crabs in a bucket beat each other bloody is a bonus…
“A reward system based on ego satisfaction and reputation optimizes for interesting, novel work. Everyone wants to be the master architect of the groundbreaking new framework in the hip new language. No one wants to dig through dozens of Java files for a years-old parsing bug” [Stuart Sierra]. “But sometimes that’s the work that needs to be done.”
“An improving economy has left Americans feeling more confident about their finances, burdened with less debt and better equipped to confront a crisis. But that hasn’t translated into more savings for the long run, with participation in retirement-savings programs remaining largely flat” [Wall Street Journal]. First, maybe Americans have recongized the 401(k) for the fee-extracting scam that it is. Second, perhaps “rational expectations” have led Americans to believe that Social Security will be increased…
“The United States is producing more research scientists than academia can handle” [New York Times]. Academia as gutted by neoliberalism, yes.
“For the first time in its history, Denver is so desirable that its vast neighbourhoods of bungalows are proving finite. The cost of this growth is the displacement of the city’s remaining working class” [Guardian].
“Boyle Heights Activists Take Aim At Art Galleries In Fight Against Gentrification” [LAist].
News of the Wired
“Tor’s annus horribilus continues, with one of its earliest contributors, Lucky Green, quitting and closing down the node and bridge authority he operates” [The Register]. “Green’s announcement is here, and in full below. He specifically declines to describe why it is ‘no longer appropriate’ to take part in Tor, nor why he believes he has ‘no reasonable choice left within the bounds of ethics.'” Well, that’s interesting.
“How To Grow Your Own Antibacterial Bandages” [The Prepper Project]. Wooly Lamb’s Ear!
“The Psychological Benefits of Writing Regularly” [LifeHacker]. Tell me about it!
“The Anti-Cellphone Tech Used by Dave Chappelle, Louis C.K., and Guns N’ Roses” [Bloomberg]. How soon before the cops use this?
“The Empirical Economics of Online Attention” [SSRN]. From the conclusion:
[G]iven our discovery of remarkable stability in how households allocate their scarce attention, we hypothesize that such stability in behavior may also exist as changes occur in other markets for attention, such as in television and radio. For example, increases in the supply of television content and devices through which to consume that content will likely cause households to switch to that new content (a change in “where?”), may cause a modest decline in the amount of attention allocated to the original device used for consumption (a change in “how 34 much?” ), but may not change how households fundamentally choose to disperse attention across content and how households choose their intensity of attention to content.