“NPR’s Interview With President Obama About ‘Obama’s Years'” [NPR]. Another example of Obama both burnishing his legacy and lowering expectations for a future Democratic administration, as we saw him do yesterday in JAMA, where we saw him deploy the public option once more to suppress single payer. Here Obama deploys the Democrat central alibi, naturally unquestioned by the interviewer, Steve Inskeep:
[OBAMA:] What I would say is that I came into office wanting to work on a bipartisan basis, and if you’ve looked at my old speeches you would see that. [The Republicans] made a determination that it was good politics to oppose everything that I did. The problem was that by opposing everything I did, even things that previously they had been for, it pushed their party further and further to the right.
First, Obama (assuming good faith) is correct that he sought bipartisanship; for those who think platforms don’t matter, Obama’s faction revised the preamble of the Democrat platform in 2008 to reflect this. Second (assuming good faith), this was a major strategic miscalculation; why on earth would the party that impeached Bill Clinton over a **** *** go all soupy and bipartisan, suddenly? Third, the Republicans were correct in their determination: They won the House, the Senate, and most governorships. Fourth, despite Obama blaming those mean Republicans, in 2009 the Democrats had the House, the Senate, a mandate, and the Republicans were discredited. If Obama really wanted to get good policy through, the thing to do would have been to abolish the filibuster, as Reid in fact did, years later, when it didn’t matter, to get some judges through. Feh.
“Lobbyists have so far raised $7 million for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, while Donald Trump’s campaign reports he has collected $0 from K Street fundraisers” [WaPo]. Well, if there’s anything that shows Trump for the sociopath he is, it’s this. I mean, this is not normal behavior.
“All about that Democratic convention donor list you’re not supposed to see yet” [Philadelphia Inquirer]. “The Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee, committed to raising more than $60 million to host the Democrats’ convention, says it won’t disclose that information until after the July 25-28 event.” Seems legit.
UPDATE And then there’s this:
Real Cleveland party pic.twitter.com/BSMnESiz9r
— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) July 19, 2016
That’s Heather Podesta of the Podesta Family, John Podesta being Clinton campaign chair. So it’s good to see bipartisanship in Cleveland…
“Who Will be President?” This is a “path to victory” interactive graphic that lets you test out various electoral college scenarios [New York Times]. “By letting you choose the outcome in the 10 most competitive states, it becomes very clear that Florida is the key to victory for Trump. Without it, it’s nearly impossible for him to win” [PoliticalWire]. Wasserman Schultz’s home state. How delicious…
UPDATE “Donald Trump is probably not a long-time reader of The American Conservative. Yet those who are instantly recognized the constellation of issues Trump chose to highlight in his campaign: concern about mass immigration, criticism of the foreign policy that took us to war in Iraq, skepticism about free-trade deals. These were the distinguishing traits of Pat Buchanan’s campaigns in the 1990s. Trump is no paleoconservative, but he has independently discovered something that sounds a lot like paleoconservatism” [The American Conservative]. “That’s not a coincidence. The elements of a populist, nationalist right have been present in American politics since at least the end of the Cold War; the cluster of issues common to Trump and Buchanan is a natural set. It isn’t necessarily a winning political formula—opportunistic politicians have shunned this combination precisely because they thought it couldn’t win—but the economic and cultural conditions that bring it to life are persistent. As long as they exist, “paleoconservatism” will always come back, no matter what happens to campaigns like Buchanan’s or Trump’s.”
Our Famously Free Press
“Trump, Jr., was too naive to check.hire [sic] a speechwriter willing to do bespoke work rather than recycle, and was too naive to check” [Bradford DeLong]. I hope this doesn’t get me on some kinda liberal goodthinker hit list, but DeLong seems to angling for work like another former economist, Paul Krugman. He needs to work harder, and on more than proofreading. He should consider putting on his own yellow waders and going through a Clinton speech looking for “bespoke work,” as I have, or look at a Sanders speech, which was the same white paper with elbows delivered over and over again. Speechwriting is like that.
“In the year that Donald Trump was transformed from a long-shot presidential candidate into the presumptive Republican nominee, he took on more debt and sold at least $50 million of stocks and bonds. At the same time, the value of his golf courses and his namesake Manhattan tower soared” [Bloomberg]. So Trump’s candidacy works out for the Trump brand, which is Trump’s main asset, literally and metaphorically.
Christie on a Clinton presidency: “[A]ll the failures of the Obama years with less charm and more lies” [US News]. If Christie maintains the standard as an attack dog, he’ll certainly outdo Warren (and who would have thought the two would end up being comparable? It’s a funny old world).
“Tuesday was “Make America Work Again” day at the Republican National Convention, which also happened to coincide with the party formally nominating Donald Trump as its nominee” [The Intercept]. “But neither jobs nor Trump got much attention as a grab bag of Republican headliners Tuesday spent most of their time demonizing Hillary Clinton and talking about themselves without offering an affirmative case for the nominee or a concrete economic policy agenda.” Pivot to the general? In a way, the Republican “Because Clinton!” is a mirror image of the Democrat “Because Trump!” A fun-house mirror, perhaps, but still….
Clinton on Kaine: “World-class mayor, governor, and senator and– is one of the most highly respected senators I know” [NBC]. “While Clinton went on to praise Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, as well as Elizabeth Warren, it sure seemed like the Kaine stuff was a little too well-rehearsed.” Since Clinton is famously scripted, her staff may already have been prepping her.
“Election Update: Clinton’s Lead Is As Safe As Kerry’s Was In 2004” [Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight]. “What’s relatively safe to say is that we’ll know a lot more in a month or so.” 538’s charts are fun. But they’re just illustrations.
Interestingly, in 2008 the Clinton campaign accused Obama of plagiarizing from Deval Patrick, though it looks like the both of them were trading riffs [Snopes]. So I assume this story will die down now. Not. More on plagiarism here.
“Beyond the clear ethical violations here, there is a larger principle at play in the way that a Republican vision of the world relies on both the manual and intellectual labor of black women, while hating black women in practice” [Cosmopolitan].
The problem with this “vision” framing is that it airbrushes Democrat (hence neoliberal (hence Republican too)) economic violence against Black women. Delphine Davis, on Obama’s SOTU: “We heard about the economy and giving people a fair shot at opportunity. The president said that ‘we’re in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history.’ But he didn’t acknowledge that black women aren’t advancing. Black women are more likely to experience wage theft and they are making 64 cents, compared to the 77 cents white women make, to every dollar made by white men in our economy. [Black Lives Matter]. Tavis Smiley: “On every leading economic issue, in the leading economic issues Black Americans have lost ground in every one of those leading categories. So in the last ten years it hasn’t been good for black folk. This is the president’s most loyal constituency that didn’t gain any ground in that period” (though note poll results at bottom) [Essence]. To be clear, I’m not urging either/or here (except in the sense that you can’t throw all your troops at a plagiarism dogpile and talk about the economy at the same time); I’m urging both/and. Thought experiment: Suppose we have policies D and R, and economic outcome E, and we set H to “hate.” If R + H = E, and D = E, what does H equal?
UPDATE “Mary Susan Rehrer, a delegate from Minnesota, was standing in the hallway, outside of the convention floor posing for photographs in her red and blue light-up Trump cape that had been sewn for her by a ‘legal immigrant’ (who, in the true entrepreneurial spirit of the GOP convention, has since made a business of making light-up capes.) … “I’m in business, OK, and I speak for a living as one of the things that I do. ‘ Rehrer said. “We’re supposed to share.'” [Talking Points Memo]. So there you have the base. And her views are not without merit.
“Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s three delegates at the Republican National Convention cost him and his campaign about $50 million each” [The Hill]. See, there is a bright side.
Canova v. Wasserman Schultz
“One former Sanders staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, put things bluntly: ‘It’s the proxy campaign'” [Miami New Times]. “Sanders staffers, too, have migrated to South Florida to help.” Profile of Canova, including:
Howie Klein, who operates the Blue America Political Action Committee, which raises money for progressive candidates, is a longtime Wasserman Schultz adversary. He recalls cold-calling Canova around that time. “I told him to please, please, please think about running really closely,” Klein says. “I called him out of the blue just to tell him how important it is that she can’t keep on winning without a challenge. The only way to get out that evil is with a primary.”
A rewrite of the MTN article at Jezebel … [Jezebel]. The new Sanders organization “Our Revolution will target candidates from both local and national campaigns, but one of its more prominent focuses includes Canova.”
“Tim Canova, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University, reported raising $1.7 million between April 1 and June 30, while Wasserman Schultz brought in $1.3 million” [The Hill]. “Canova’s fundraising boost is likely a result of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) May endorsement.”
“In a ‘dear colleagues’ letter, House office buildings superintendent William Weidemeyer told members and staff that the Cannon House Office Building was experiencing lead levels above normal, according to a recent water test” [The Hill]. I know I shouldn’t joke about such matters, but this could account for a lot. But not to worry: I’m sure this problem will be fixed as fast as humanly possible.
MBA Mortgage Applications, week of July 15, 2016: “An uptick in mortgage rates slowed mortgage activity in the July 15 week, with seasonally adjusted purchase applications for home mortgages down 2.0 percent and refinancing down 1.0 percent from the previous week” [Econoday]. From the “Why Investors Care” page: “[T]he economic backdrop is the most pervasive influence on financial markets.”
Employment Situation: “The number of teenagers finding summer jobs surged in June, as employment among 16- to 19-year-olds increased by 691,000. It was the biggest June job gain for teens since 2014” [Econintersect]. “Teenagers may be benefitting from a resurgence in the fast food industry. Unlike traditional retailers, which appear to be closing locations as more people shop online, food establishments are expanding.”
Shipping: “Amazon wants to use lamp posts as perches for its high-tech delivery drones” [Sky News]. “A patent awarded to the shopping giant this week shows how it wants to use tall structures as bases for drones to recharge.”
Shipping: “U.S. domestic shipping demand wavered in June, according to measures of freight transport activity, as retailers and manufacturers moved cautiously to restock inventories heading into the fall” [Wall Street Journal]. If imports via containers have gone up, shouldn’t trucking have gone up, as the bulge moves through the python? Note to self: Get better on potential timing mismatches…
Shipping: “The surge in e-commerce spending is proving very profitable for the world’s biggest warehouse operator. Prologis Inc. reported record profits in the second quarter as rental rates jumped while demand swamped available space at distribution centers. Hamid Moghadam, the company’s chief executive, tells WSJ Logistics Report’s Brian Baskin that tight supply is helping keep vacancy rates low and rental rates high” [Wall Street Journal].
Retail: “Consumer-goods giant Procter & Gamble Co. is trying to cut out the middleman. The company that has long relied on retailers is testing new paths to consumers, [including] online subscriptions, free shipping and rapid-ordering apps linked to Tide-branded couriers. The tests are part of a growing move by manufacturers and distributors to reach households directly rather than looking for space on store shelves. P&G is facing a clear immediate threat from the Dollar Shave Club, the online subscription service that has chipped away at the dominance of Gillette razors” [Wall Street Journal].
“Unilever acquired Dollar Shave Club LLC in a deal said to be worth about $1 billion, gaining a firmer foothold in the burgeoning market for male grooming products” [Bloomberg]. A bet on the subscription model.
Political Risk: “The new Brexit unit is hiring top lawyers at up to £5,000 a day as ministers begin spending the half a billion pounds it is thought will be needed each year to get Britain out of the European Union” [The Times of London]. “Whitehall officials believe that at least 5,000 extra civil servants will have to be recruited to deal with Brexit, but extra lawyers and management consultants paid on a daily basis will push the costs up further. The bill could reach £5 billion over a decade.” Not sure what the economist’s abstraction for this would be: Structural rigidity? Hysterisis? Organizational capability? At some point, it just gets simpler and cheaper for the peasants to burn all the land records…
Political Risk: “Federal auto-safety regulators are weighing requiring approval of automated-driving technologies before they reach the road” [Wall Street Journal, “U.S. Considers Expanding Automated-Driving Technology Oversight”]. “An approval process could slow the adoption of driverless-car technology.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 90, Extreme Greed (previous close: 87, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 87 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 20 at 11:20am.
“Harney County voters solidly reject effort to oust county judge who opposed Ammon Bundy” [Oregon Lives].
“Scientists from Stanford looked into deep underground aquifers—which are permeable, water-bearing rocks— and found that there was three times more water than previously expected, reports Capital Public Radio. And if saline water was included, there would be four times more water than estimated. Their research… focused on the Central Valley” [LAist]. “Specifically, scientists believe there are about two billion acre-feet of fresh water to be found underground in the Central Valley—enough for them to characterize it as a ‘water windfall.’ As noted by Capital Public Radio, one acre-foot is usually enough to sustain a California household for the entire year.” Awesome! Let’s go suck it all up!
“Fewer allergies: A possible upside of thumb sucking and nail biting” [Harvard Health Publications] (original). “This fits with the “hygiene hypothesis,” which says that when children are exposed to germs early in life, their immune system gets trained to attack germs, rather than attacking itself as we see in allergies, asthma, and eczema (of note, the researchers didn’t find protection against asthma or hay fever, and didn’t report a measure of eczema). This hypothesis doesn’t explain everything we see about allergies and other examples of the body attacking itself, but it certainly may play a role — and when kids suck their thumbs or bite their nails, they do put all sorts of new germs into their mouths and therefore their bodies.”
“This is not the only study on fish cognition. In fact, there have been hundreds of other studies since 1873 that have demonstrated the ability of many different species of fish to learn a wide variety of skills. We go to school to learn. Fish, whether in a school or not, are fully capable of learning. Despite their extensive innate skills and lack of any formal education from parents or teachers, fish absolutely have the capacity to learn new skills” [Ocean Bites]. I had no idea fish used chemicals from the skin as a means of communication. Then again, I suppose they would find speech odd. “Through the air? Really?”
The Looting Professional Classes
“Three attorneys general on Tuesday directly challenged Volkswagen’s defense over its emissions deception, calling the decision to thwart pollution tests an orchestrated fraud that lasted more than a decade, involved dozens of engineers and managers and reached deep into the company’s boardroom” [New York Times]. How do they live with themselves?
“There are millions of Americans who have never really recovered. The jobs market, as the White House is quick to say, has come back. But wages haven’t. It’s worth remembering that median household income peaked in this country back in 1999 at $57,843. Based on Census data analyzed by Sentier Research, it was, as of April of this year, $57,367″ [Paul Brandus, MarketWatch]. “If you’re looking for one reason above all others to explain why Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president, and why Bernie Sanders did so well on the Democratic side—look no further than these data points. Real wages one percent lower after 17 years: literally a lost generation.”
“‘I just couldn’t believe [Disney] could fly people in to sit at our desks and take over our jobs exactly,’ said one [data systems] former worker, an American in his 40s who remains unemployed since his last day at Disney on Jan. 30. ‘It was so humiliating to train somebody else to take over your job. I still can’t grasp it'” [New York Times (Re Silc)]. Economist: “But H1B visas are an efficieny gain for the whole world, so suck it up. ‘Scuse me, gotta catch the Acela!”
UPDATE “Wells Fargo & Co., the world’s most valuable bank, plans to start a robo-advisory service in 2017, Chief Operating Officer Tim Sloan said” [Bloomberg]. First, they came for the proles….
UPDATE “Inter-generational trauma is a concept developed to help explain years of generational challenges within families. It is the transmission (or sending down to younger generations) of the oppressive or traumatic effects of a historical event” [Psychology Central]. When you combine this idea with a lack of social mobility, you’ve got an interesting way to think through class consciousness (or, in the case of opioids, class unconsciousness (kidding! (except not…)).
News of the Wired
“Kumamon is kawaii – the [Japanese] word is translated as “cute”, but the word has broad, multilayered meanings, encompassing a range of sweetly alluring images and behaviours” [Guardian]. “People spend a lot on cute avatars – Kumamon earned $1 billion in 2015, Hello Kitty four or five times that. But what is cute? What is the basis of its appeal? Does appreciation for cuteness come naturally, or does it reveal something about our society? Is it broadly positive – or could cuteness harbour darker facets as well? These are some of the questions being addressed by a nascent academic field, cute studies.” Help me.
“Six months after the death of David Bowie, normal reality is collapsing at an ever-increasing rate” [News Thump]. “Scientists have concluded that Bowie was in some way integral to the function of what we call normality in ways which they have not yet properly begun to understand, but postulate a hitherto unknown particle called the ‘Bowon’ which helped the universe keep its shit together.
How to test your VPN to see if your IP address is leaking [Another Word for It].
“Um, bad news: Pixelating or blurring doesn’t actually work to hide text” [Fusion] (original). “We conclude that hidden Markov models allow near-perfect recovery of text redacted by mosaicing or blurring for many common fonts and parameter settings, and that mosaicing and blurring are not effective choices for textual document redaction.” Oopsie.
“NASA’s Kepler space telescope has spotted four possibly rocky alien planets orbiting the same star, and two of these newfound worlds might be capable of supporting life” [Scientific American]. But first, we have to break out of that alien quarantine round the solar system….
“The [United States Digital Service] intends to replicate, assembly-line-style, the sprint that saved healthcare.gov. Using talent recruited on the basis of patriotism and the promise of impactful work, USDS tries to target similar moribund projects, or problems that could be addressed by modern tech practices, and produce stuff that works, at a fraction of the traditional cost” [BackChannel]. So in other words neoliberal projects designed to extract rents through artificial complexity can be saved through better software engineering. What a triumph for the human spirit!