By Lambert Strether of
NAFTA: “Mexico’s new ambassador to the U.S. says the country is prepared to ‘modernize’ the North American Free Trade Agreement and wants to restart a guest-worker system that could address concerns about illegal immigration” [Arizona Daily Star].
TPP: Despite the presumed demise of TPP, “[t]he Communist government in Hanoi plans to push ahead with more than 30 separate pieces of legislation proposed to comply with the trade deal, including rules on labour, business, foreign trade, and small-and-medium enterprises. Since a new Constitution was adopted in 2013, Vietnam’s lawmakers have passed more than 100 laws – a scale of change unseen since the nation introduced the market-oriented doi moi reforms in the 1980s” [South China Morning Post].
TPP: “Envoy Kenjiro Monji says Japan is still determined to save the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership, despite president-elect Donald Trump’s vow to take the United States out of it. Japan hopes that Mr. Trump can still be persuaded to back off from his opposition to TPP before his Jan. 20 inauguration” [Globe and Mail].
2016 Post Mortem
“After the departures of Debbie Wasserman-Schulz and Donna Brazile, both deeply implicated in the sabotaging of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton’s loss, Democrats need a new face at the head of the Democratic National Committee, the national party’s executive body. Ideally it should be someone who reassures the funders and can help rally the base voters. The leading contender is Keith Ellison, just elected to his sixth term in Congress from Minneapolis” [Black Agenda Report]. “Keith Ellison seems a good fit. He was the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and current co-chair of the large and virtually impotent House Progressive Caucus. He was an early endorser of Bernie Sanders who did his duty trying to lead leftward strays back into Hillary’s big tent. In a decade on the House Financial Services Committee, Ellison managed not to deeply offend the banksters who flooded the market with predatory housing and student loans, or the payday lenders and credit card racketeers, and he didn’t embarrass or insult the colleagues who openly shill for them. In that target rich environment Ellison managed not just to keep from hitting anything, but not even to take aim.”
“The Trump thing looks to be going to go from bad to worse. I understand that sometimes it makes sense to vote in the village idiot. But then you do have to deal with him being the President” [Mosler Economics]. I disagree with Mosler here, in the sense that if Trump is an idiot, he’s an idiot who was able to make fools of both party establishments, and beat a dynasty that had been preparing for a second occupation of the White House for a good fifteen years, and was supported by the smart money.
“The host of journalists, commentators, pundits, and celebrities who took it upon themselves day in and day out to explain, scrub, polish, promote, praise, defend, and sell Hillary as the best thing that could ever happen to our blessed country, because she had an endemic inability to do what politicians are supposed to do: sell themselves to the public. Presidential candidates, especially those with Clinton’s record-breaking funding base, can pay consultants to promote their ideas and promise. We don’t need journalists to volunteer to do it for them, and we sure as hell don’t need journalists who are taking on double-duty as PR flacks to further their own careers in the liberal punditocracy’s cursus honorum from lowly scribe to editor-writer at a highbrow magazine or earnest millennial channel to White House press secretary—or the C-suite at a Silicon Valley unicorn. RIP, my Shillaries” [The Baffler].
UPDATE “Top Clinton Campaign Strategist & David Axelrod Talk What Went Wrong In 2016 Election” [Chicagoist]. Exactly what you would expect. Before a “packed” audience of “liberals,” “Benenson was light on critique over how Clinton’s campaign was run, but he listed several other challenges…” She had one job.
UPDATE “President-elect Donald Trump is set to embark on a tour to thank supporters who carried him to the White House” [NBC Chicago]. “A source in the Trump camp confirmed to NBC News Tuesday that Trump’s “Thank You Tour” is set to begin on Thursday with a rally in Cincinnati.” Another single source story: “On Thursday evening, Trump will kick off a “thank you” tour in Ohio, with a massive rally at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, according to a source familiar with the planning” [Politico]. I think this is smart. People underestimate Trump at their peril; see Mosler’s comment below.
“Republican Representative Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon from Georgia, will be Trump’s Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary, and consultant Seema Verma will lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a powerful agency that oversees government health programs and insurance standards” [Reuters]. Verma worked with Pence, the Indiana governor, on a plan to expand Medicaid coverage for the state’s poor with federal funding. The Indiana program requires beneficiaries to make monthly contributions to health savings accounts. Verma told the Times of Indiana earlier this year that Pence fought for the ‘personal responsibility’ aspect of the program.” Of course, ObamaCare labels the mandate “Shared Responsibility” (the other “sharers” being the insurance companies and the government, very much opposed to “Everybody in, nobody out” and Medicare for All), so it’s not as if Pence’s neoliberal ideology wasn’t baked into the program from the start.
“Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao is set to be announced later Tuesday as President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to head the Department of Transportation, multiple sources familiar with the decision confirmed Tuesday morning” [Politico]. Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s wife.
“Since election, Trump has turned away all but two daily intelligence brieﬁngs” [Kansas City Star]. Like that’s a bad thing?
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Each struggle, for Jackson, is part of a larger whole. He’s not making an individual appeal to black Americans or an individual appeal to white workers. He’s asking black Americans to see that their struggle is the struggle of white workers and vice versa. That higher wages and civil rights (and affordable education and programs for families) are inextricable. And to that end, Jackson proposed a broad agenda that linked material uplift for all Americans to a civil rights agenda, to the fight against South African apartheid, to the Equal Rights Amendment” [Jamelle Bouie, Slate]. And yet Bouie seems to deeply believe that Sanders was not trying to do just that. It’s very odd.
“What Jill Stein is doing is blatant self promotion, list building, reputational repair where it is undeserved, and slush funding for an incoherent Green Party. It is detestable to the extreme. Stein has glommed onto this recount scam as a way to serve herself, she certainly is not serving anything else” [EmptyWheel]. “[T[wo out of three of Stein’s target states already “audit the vote” as a regular matter of law without the need for Stein’s self serving injection into the matter…. there is still NO competent evidence whatsoever of fraud, mistake or other irregularity that could change the result. None. And that is the thing, unless there is fraud, mistake or systematic error, recounts can do nothing to legally support a challenge to the election results. A challenge has to stand up in court. It cannot be thin and based upon rote supposition and suspicion. Even if Stein’s folly turns up a minor discrepancy here and there, that will not suffice…. Jill Stein is a grifter and a fraud. And she is playing this opportunity to, first off, list build for herself and the Greens, secondly, resuscitate her and their name, thirdly, stay in the press, and lastly, create an amorphous slush fund to continue those things.” Just in case there are any readers out there who think I’ve been rough on the GP…
“On Friday, Stein filed the first of these recount requests in Wisconsin, in which her campaign alleges ‘evidence of voting irregularities’ even though there really isn’t any. It’s basically a made-up request that tosses in a dose or two of conspiracy theory about ‘foreign interference’ in the election. Again, while I’m all for election integrity and am concerned about e-voting machines, alleging fraud without any real evidence is just conspiracy theory mongering” [Tech Dirt]. “If you want some actual facts: there’s been almost no evidence of voter fraud, other than a few small attempts here or there. ProPublica has the best analysis of this, noting the many ways in which it has reviewed the data, looking for evidence of voter fraud and finding none at all. Here’s a sampling of what ProPublica had to say:
We had 1,100 people monitoring the vote on Election Day. We saw no evidence the election was “rigged” no matter what Stein or Trump say. /1
— ProPublica (@ProPublica) November 27, 2016
See the whole tweetstorm.
“Jill Stein’s Pennsylvania recount: These are the next steps” [Billy Penn]. Stein is using two of the three methods available to demand a recount: Candidate-initiated and Voter-initiated; these can later be combined. If I understand this division correctly, here is the candidate initiated claim:
Stein’s Bucks County attorney Lawrence Otter filed Monday afternoon in Commonwealth Court on behalf of more than 100 voters. The suit asks for a full, statewide recount of the vote in every county based on several issues, including:
- The findings of data scientist Alex Halderman
- The hacks into internal DNC communications
- Alleged attempted hacks in Illinois and Arizona
- The fact that pre-election polls differed from the results
The voters who are part of the lawsuit stated they also want a recount to determine whether any hacking of Pennsylvania’s electronic voting machines took place
The Podesta hack, at least, was a phishing expedition; Podesta’s password was “p@ssword.” To equate that with hacking a voting machine is simply frivolous. The voters’ portion of the suit is more substantive; Pennsylvania’s voting machines don’t even have a paper trail.
More from Billy Penn:
Now, in order for Stein’s lawsuit to result in a statewide recount, a judge would have to rule that there’s pretty significant evidence showing voter fraud or tampering with the vote. That was not offered in the original lawsuit filed Monday. But it’s possible the filing could be being used to for Stein and her allies to come up with evidence they need to get that recount.
“Stein’s lawsuit would have to present evidence that election fraud was probable in Pennsylvania. Democratic Secretary of State Pedro Cortes says there’s no evidence of voting irregularities during the Nov. 8 election” [Philadelphia Inquirer]. “‘Absolutely not,’ Cortes told reporters. ‘There is no evidence whatsoever that points to any type of irregularity in any way, shape or form.” And here is the Voter-initiated claim:
Stein is promoting an “especially complicated” voter-initiated recount effort that involves three voters in every precinct or election district in Pennsylvania submitting a notarized affidavit to the clerk in their individual election districts.
Lawrence Otter, a lawyer for Stein’s campaign, said individual voters were filing petitions with boards of elections in several counties across the state seeking recounts in their precincts. Voters had already done so in Philadelphia, and Otter said they were expected to do so in Bucks County as well later Monday.
According to the Department of State, there were 9,163 voting precincts in Pennsylvania during the 2016 election. So Stein would need over 27,000 voters to file notarized affidavits, but it’s unclear if that avenue is even still available.
According to Wanda Murren, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of State, the deadline under the law for a voter-initiated recount at the county level had been Monday, Nov. 21. Many counties missed it but nearly half have already certified their results, precluding recounts there. That makes a lawsuit the only remaining option for initiating a statewide recount.
“No system in this state is attached to the internet in any way, so this whole notion of being hacked is farcical at best,” says [Washington County Assistant Elections Director Wesley Parry” [CBS Local].
“The Wisconsin Elections Commission agreed Monday to begin a recount of the presidential election on Thursday but was sued by Green Party candidate Jill Stein after the agency declined to require county officials to recount the votes by hand” [USA Today]. “It will be a race to finish the recount in time to meet a daunting federal deadline, and the process. Under state law, the recount must begin this week as long as Stein or another candidate pays the $3.5 million estimated cost of the recount by Tuesday, election officials said.” “Buy some time” above, and “the lawsuit could delay,” here, both support the theory that a delegitimizing event in the Electoral College is the ultimate goal. Remember when a candidate not accepting the election results was a terrible problem?
“Consensus is the bedrock of democracy. For differences to get resolved in a properly democratic fashion, there needs to be agreement over the terms of the debate. Interlocutors must be aware of their shared rights and responsibilities, and they need to be capable of proceeding from a common set of facts and premises” [Think Progress]. Hmm.
GDP, Q3 2016 (preliminary): “The third quarter has gotten a meaningful upgrade. The second estimate is 3 tenths higher than the first, at a plus 3.2 percent annualized rate and which includes an upgrade for consumer spending and, in further good news, a downgrade in inventory growth” [Econoday]. “This report points to greater-than-expected consumer momentum going into the current quarter, helping to explain the big 0.8 percent surge in retail sales for October. The consumer has jobs and is the driving force of the economy.” And: Above consensus [Calculated Risk]. But: “Overall investment increased 2.1% for the quarter from the original estimate of 3.1%. Capital spending was bolstered by strength in non-residential structures, although there will be disappointment that spending on equipment declined for the fourth successive quarter with a significant downward revision to the first estimate. There was a slower estimated decline in residential investment at 4.4% from the original 6.2%” [Economic Calendar].
Corporate Profits, Q3 2016: “Corporate profits rose 5.2 percent year-on-year in the third quarter” [Econoday].
S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, September 2016: “Boosted by gains among the smaller cities, Case-Shiller’s adjusted 20-city price index rose a sizable 0.4 percent in data for September. Tampa and Dallas lead the monthly rundown with Seattle, Atlanta and Charlotte close behind. These are all outside the 10-city index where the gain is a less spectacular 0.2 percent” [Econoday]. “Still, the monthly gain for the 20-city is by far the best since March when the index first began to slow.” And: “Interest rates will, however, be watched closely in the short term as long-term yields have already moved sharply higher this month with 30-year rates trading close to 3.00%. Although still very low in historic terms, the sharp increase in rates and expectations of further Fed tightening will pose an important test for overall confidence in the market” [Economic Calendar]. And: “Although over the past few years there has been a moderate slowing of the Case Shiller HPI year-over-year growth – this month saw a marginal improvement. … It is my belief that IF the Fed begins to normalize the federal funds rate – it will slow the growth rate of home prices. But for now, the merry ride continues” [Econintersect]. But: “The seasonally adjusted (SA) index was reported as being only 0.8% below the bubble peak. However, in real terms, the National index (SA) is still about 15.7% below the bubble peak” [Calculated Risk].
Consumer Confidence, November 2016: “Consumer confidence rose sharply following the November 8 election [but see following] up 6.3 points to 107.1 for by far the best reading of the cycle, since July 2007” [Econoday]. But: “Most of the consumers were surveyed ahead of the Presidential and Congressional elections, but the small number of surveys received after the election did not suggest a major shift in the pattern” [Economic Calendar]. And: “Those saying jobs are hard to get, which is closely watched as a barometer for monthly jobs data, is unchanged, at a very low 21.7 percent in what is a favorable indication for Friday’s report.” And: “On a percentile basis, the latest reading is at the 77th percentile of all the monthly data points since June 1977, up from the 62nd percentile the previous month” [Econintersect].
State Street Investor Confidence Index, November 2016: Fell, driven by the Asian component [Econoday]. “The figures show institutional investors reluctant to embrace positive market reactions as global markets continue to decipher the economic and political effects of the Trump presidency on the back of Brexit.”
Manufacturing: “Leaps forward in computing power, imaging and 3-D-printing technology are allowing engineers like never before to develop bionics, also known as biomimetics, from the Greek for ‘mimicking life'” [Wall Street Journal, “Manufacturers Take a Page From Mother Nature”]. “In particular, additive manufacturing with metal alloys—3-D metal printing—enables an array of products to be built the way trees and bones grow: cell by cell, with minimal waste.”
Shipping: “Roads and railways are busier this fall as U.S. companies ship more goods and materials in response to improving consumer spending” [Wall Street Journal, “U.S. Shipping Demand Turns Upward on Consumer Spending”]. “Domestic freight shipments rose 2.7% in October from the same month a year ago and advanced 1% from September, according to the latest monthly survey by Cass Information Systems Inc., suggesting new momentum for shipping demand that has been in a long-term slump. October marked the first year-over-year volume gain in 20 months, freight analyst Donald Broughton said in the report.”
Mr. Market: “Banks and insurers have jumped 12 percent since Trump’s victory, almost double the next best performer in the S&P 500. At 1.3 times book value, the group was valued at a multiple that’s 60 percent above its five-year average” [Across the Curve].
Rail: “If coal and grain are removed from the analysis, rail has recently been declining around 5% – but this week was -2.1 %. This week the one year rolling average again improved – but it remains in contraction” [Econintersect].
Housing: “Note: There was a report of a ‘foreclosure spike’ in October. [Black Knight] data shows the opposite happened” [Calculated Risk]. “October’s 56,500 foreclosure starts is the lowest one-month total in nearly 12 years; Delinquencies see modest seasonal increase in October; still down nine percent from last year.”
Supply Chain: “For Apple and others, tin supply chain has ties to rebel-held Myanmar mine” [Reuters]. “The mine is controlled by the UWSA, the strongest of the myriad armed groups that have kept Myanmar in a state of near-perpetual civil war for decades.”
The Bezzle: ” Juno is a “driver-friendly” rideshare service that competes with Uber by paying its drivers more and giving drivers the ability to pick up a fare, get them to install the Juno app, and give them a discount.” [Boing Boing].
The Bezzle: “SEC takes Tesla to task over nonstandard and ‘individually tailored’ numbers” [Francine McKenna, MarketWatch].
Rapture Index, November 28, 2016: Closes down 1 on liberalism [Rapture Ready]. (Remember, when the index goes down, the Rapture is less likely to occur.) Record High: 189 (October 10, 2016). Current: 187.
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 71 Greed (previous close: 70, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 67 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 29 at 11:45am.
UPDATE “Hunter S. Thompson’s personal weed being developed to be sold in the US” [ShortList]. Friends, there’s good news tonight!
“As North Dakota governor orders “emergency evacuation” at Standing Rock, Water Protectors ask court for an injunction” [Boing Boing].
“The new study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that the recent pattern of cold winters — such as in 2014-15 which saw record snowfall levels in New York —was mainly caused by changes to the positioning of jet streams, small meandering air currents that flow about 9-16 km (roughly 6 to 20 miles) above Earth’s surface” [Business Insider].
News of the Wired
“Did a “Government-backed Attacker” attempt to steal your Gmail password?” [Medium].
“Scotland’s national dish — a savory pudding made from sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, mixed with oatmeal and spices and encased in sheep’s intestines — has been banned in the United States for almost half a century” [CNN]. “But the Scottish government has said the law on haggis may be scrapped as early as next year and the country’s haggis makers are already preparing for the big event.”
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