By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Live, more or less, from South Station, Boston!
“[David Garrow’s Rising Star] also helps us see the making of the other Obama, the forging of Obama’s inner character, and in particular the of the will and drive that he developed in these years, mainly in his time as a community organizer. Obama in this period began to speak to Jager, and occasionally others, of —which was a reason he gave Jager as to why they couldn’t marry…. What is clear is that around this time, Obama , and that sense of destiny transformed him, nourishing his pragmatism and fueling his ambition” [Politico]. Note the muffled agency in “came to feel”; I’d like very much to know how he did so (“We don’t want nobody nobody sent,” as they say in Illinois politics). Perhaps Rising Star explains. Damn, another long book to read (besides Shattered).
Lambert here: Ossoff’s loss is a loss for the Clintonites, and therefore a win for Democrats, if (and only if) it loosens the Establishment’s death grip on the Party apparatus which, if the Party is concerned with survival, it should. Ossoff’s race was the do-over for 2016 that Clintonites sought: Like the post-convention Clinton campaign, Ossoff’s lavishly funded campaign appealed to wealthy, educated, suburban Republicans, especially women, and ran a technocratic (documentary filmmaker, staffer) candidate with a vacuous message. Ossoff even turned to the right, first running on “Make Trump furious,” then pivoting to run against government waste (!). When will Democrats learn that Republicans prefer real Republicans to fake ones? Oh, and of course Ossoff kicked the left: Never, ever #MedicareForAll. So the Clintonites got their do-over, and they lost. They did the same thing. Did they get a different result? No. No Russians this time, eh? No Comey. No content farms in Macedonia. Or any of the other excuses.
The bright side here, aside from relief that the Ossoff dry hole didn’t produce a gusher of Clintonite triumphalism, is that the Democrats might reconsider their 2016 do-over concept for 2018 and 2020. Might. Oh, and now would be a good time to recall the DCCC’s famously defensive, anti-50 state strategery memo on why it wouldn’t fund Sanders supporters like Thompson and Quist, and went all in for Ossoff: “DCCC Took A Smart Chance With Its Investments, Refused to Waste Money on Hype.” BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!!
That’s my hot take. Now let’s go see who’s firing the Blame Cannons, and at whom!
Blame the Message: “This was the beta test for the DCCC’s theory of the 2018 case that well-educated, suburban voters who swung away from Trump last year would reject GOP candidates for Congress” [Paul Kane, WaPo]. “Privately, Democratic strategists said even before the votes were counted Tuesday that Ossoff’s civility campaign would be mirrored only in more Republican-leaning districts, and that a more aggressive anti-Trump campaign would be waged by candidates in longtime swing districts.” See below on Democratic strategists…
Blame the Message: “Ossoff, who received gobs of money from outside Georgia and doesn’t even live in the 6th District, started his campaign by exhorting voters to ‘Make Trump Furious.’ But more recently he backed off that attack line, and ran what even the New York Times called a ‘milquetoast’ campaign. He portrayed himself as a centrist, with a platform about as thin as his resume. Apparently he came to realize that those activists sending contributions from LA and New York would not be showing up in the voting booth, and that he had to win the hearts and minds of Georgia Republicans” [FOX].
Blame the Candidate: “That’s one lesson to take away from this: Candidates matter. And Ossoff’s defeat may make it more difficult for Democrats to recruit the best ones for the equally tough House races to come. Those ditherers craved encouragement, as did the party. It eludes all of them still” [Frank Bruni, New York Times]. If only there were a way to get candidates to run on policies like #MedicareForAll, and bypass the funder class with a small-donor model!
Blame the Campaign:
Personally I like Jon Ossoff but man was he packaged terribly. Looked like a 13 year old. Ds should have won this one easily.
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) June 21, 2017
Blame the Deplorables: “Her hopes dashed, a dejected Hazel Hunt made her way through the crowd carrying a canvas on which she’d painted Ossoff’s portrait over an original poem, a limerick that began ‘There once was a country in pain.’ Hunt’s green eyes were moist. ‘It’s very sad,’ the middle-aged drama teacher told me. ‘It tells me that despite all the wonderful people I met in this campaign, there are still a lot of people who support the meanness and ignorance and tearing each other apart’ that she saw Trump as representing” [The Atlantic]. “Once was a country in pain” is especially rich, given that there’s an opioid epidemic, part of tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair” yearly, which Democrats are studiously ignoring.
Blame the Party: “[A]fter $23 million, a candidate who genuinely ignited the grassroots, and a Republican president who may or may not be (but probably is) under FBI investigation and can’t stop talking about it, the real question Democrats need to answer is: What’s it going to take to win an election in the era of Trump?” [Daily Beast]. “As of Tuesday night, they still have no idea.” Idea: Clintonites, as a body, leave public life?
Blame Republican Money: “Yet the Republican triumph came only after an extraordinary financial intervention by conservative groups and by the party’s leading figures, buoying Democrats’ hopes that they can still compete in the sort of wealthy, conservative-leaning districts they must pick up to recapture the House” [New York Times]. “Must”? Sez who?
Don’t Blame Anybody, Stay the Course: “Back to politics: The Republicans have won several tight races this year in districts that are favorable to them. The whole reason these special elections were happening is that Trump had appointed sitting House members to his cabinet. Winning close races in these districts is not a sign that Republicans will keep winning close races in less favorable places” [David Leonhardt, New York Times]. “To be clear, the Democratic Party has an enormous amount of work to do. It doesn’t hold the White House, the Senate or the House, and it holds only about one in three governorships and state legislatures. Yet a handful of close losses in conservative districts shouldn’t make Democrats panic, no matter what this morning’s punditry says.”
Don’t Blame Anybody, Wait for the Wave (1): “How the Democrats Can Take Back Congress” [Rahm Emmanuel and Bruce Reed, The Atlantic]. “So Democrats don’t need to spend the next year navel-gazing over how to motivate their base. In 2018, Trump will provide the greatest fundraising and get-out-the-vote machine the party has ever had. Wave elections are a chance to build on that base by winning back voters disappointed in the other side. Democrats will have plenty of disappointments to bring to their attention, including Republican health-care and tax-cut plans that betray the working-class voters who put Trump in the White House.” Rahm Emmanuel. His concern for working class voters is touching. Help me.
Don’t Blame Anybody, Wait for the Wave (2): “Facing fresh criticism from fellow Democrats after a disappointing loss in a Georgia special election, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Ben Ray Luján on Wednesday sought to rally his party by declaring the House of Representatives in play and distributing internal data suggesting a number of incumbent Republicans are in more electoral trouble than widely thought” [Politico]. “Lujan also told staff that starting this week, senior aides and allies will be deployed into target districts to ramp up candidate recruitment, and that Lujan himself is planning trips to states including Maine, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Missouri.” I’ll be watching their choice in Maine very closely, because — and I so hope I am wrong — it will be fascinating to see which loser apparatchik from the corrupt Baldacci administration Lujan manages to back.
Don’t Blame Anybody, Wait for the Wave (3): “But those charts above show something quite astounding: Republican margins of victory in these districts have shrunk to single digits, after being GOP strongholds for decades. There is a huge and measurable backlash to the results of the 2016 election” [Vox].
Don’t Blame Anybody, Wait for The Wave (4): “The overall measure of Democrats’ standing at the moment is not whether they have won, but how they have performed relative to the partisan composition of the districts in which they are running. That gauge remains quite positive” [Jonathon Chait, New York Magazine].
Don’t Blame Anybody, Wait for the Wave (5): “First and foremost, just one state over, unheralded Democratic tax expert Archie Parnell – who ran on a similarly conciliatory, post-partisan message but generated a tiny fraction of the hype Ossoff did—shockingly came within three points of Republican Ralph Norman in a district President Trump carried by 18 points last November (Ossoff came within four points in a district Trump carried by one)” [Charlie Cook, Cook Political Report]. “Parnell’s near-miss has prompted outrage from activists on the left who believe he got short shrift from the DNC, DCCC and party hierarchy. If only the DCCC had parachuted into Sumter instead of Atlanta, the thinking goes, Democrats might have actually gained a House seat by now. But the reality is Parnell—much like Democrat James Thompson in KS-04—outperformed polls and expectations precisely because the race flew under the radar, not despite it. ” I like Cook because he’s level-headed. That said, what kind of Party has to run races using a “security through obscurity” strategy? (And surely it’s possibly for Democrats to craft a national message — pick a few of those universal direct material benefits, like #MedicareForAll and Warren’s Post Office Bank (a Debt Jubilee perhaps being a bridge too far) — and then run a 50-state strategy on that?
Blame the Platform: “‘Our brand is worse than Trump,’ said Mr. Ryan, who urged Democrats to make forging a clear economic agenda an urgent priority. ‘We can’t just run against Trump'” [New York Times]. That’s what you think.
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And some nuts-and-bolts technical stuff, beyond the hot takes:
“How each neighborhood voted in the District 6 runoff” [Atlantic Journal-Constitution]. Handy interactive map, but I don’t know enough about the district to commment. Readers?
“Voter turnout in April was already high for a spring special election, and it soared during the runoff, to more than 240,000, from more than 190,000. Nearly 150,000 voters cast ballots before the polls opened on Tuesday, nearly three times the early vote in the first round. And nearly 40,000 of those people had not voted at all in April” [New York Times]. For some reason, Democrats get all excited about early voting (which in my view is a bad idea, at least compared to making Election Day a national holiday). But early voting doesn’t seem to be a reliable indicator.
“Handel and her allies took every opportunity on the campaign trail to frame Ossoff as a shill for the California Democrat whose values were more in line with Pelosi’s home base of San Francisco than Georgia’s” [Atlantic Journal-Constitution]. “‘Let me tell you something, he’s a eer [sic] and the strings are being pulled by Democrats and the Nancy Pelosi,” Agriculture Secretary and former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue said of Ossoff at a rally last weekend.” Hmm. That’s the third liberal Democrat meme I’ve seen Republicans seize and redeploy, “fake news” and “deep state” being the other two. (Clinton called Trump a “puppet” in debate, to which Trump responded “No, you’re the puppet,” which shows this dynamic in miniature.) Maybe the Democrats need to start creating messaging the Republican’s can’t steal, assuming they want to defeat Republicans, instead of become them? #MedicareForAll would certainly do that, and it polls well. On a more meta-level, it’s hard to see the Republicans appropriating “Seize the means of production,” or even a more centrist “Break up all the monopolies.” And this is the thanks Pelosi gets for taking impeachment “off the table” in 2006. Why, the ingratitude!
“Many of the same online donors who directed more than $23 million into Ossoff’s campaign have also been donating online to Democratic “nominee funds” in Republican-held districts. The liberal website Daily Kos has raised over $1.5 million that has put into escrow funds for the eventual Democratic nominees in 24 Republican-held districts; Swing Left, another progressive organization, has raised $1.7 million into funds for the eventual opponents of 35 Republican House members who voted for the GOP health care bill” [Daily Kos]. “Those numbers will climb significantly over the next year, and they demonstrate that Ossoff is not the only Democrat pulling in big money from small donors online. Many Republican incumbents will face opponents who are better-funded than ever in 2018.” Which goes to show the problem with regarding infrastructure as such to be important. Daily Kos got a bunch of small donors to back a candidate who, if elected, would have had the effect of preventing Democrats from supporting #MedicareForAll (and yes, saving thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars per year isn’t such a bad litmus test). So why is that good? It’s not good. Same thing with voter turnout. If Democrats succeed in activating wealthy suburban voters also opposed to #MedicareForAll, why is that good? Sure, democracy, etc., but why not let other parties handle getting those particular votes out? Eh?
“She will become the first woman to represent the Peach State in Congress since Democrat Cynthia McKinney lost her reelection bid 11 years ago” [Atlantic Journal-Constitution]. “The future is female.” Not those females!
“The dollars came rolling in but the votes did not. Handel’s win was comparatively comfortable, given polls showing a neck-and-neck race, anecdotal accounts of intense Democratic enthusiasm and Ossoff’s success in raising more than $23 million — an astronomical sum for a House race” [The Hill]. So the consultants are happy campers, at least. “I Am The Very Model of a Democratic Strategist”:
I’m very good at narrative and counterfactual history,
I know the talking points for when I’ve snatched defeat from victory;
So if you want a partisan, sock puppet, or apologist
I am the very model of a Democratic strategist!
“The U.S. Navy has found $500 million to buy a second littoral combat ship in next year’s budget after scrounging that was required because the vessel was left out of the Trump administration’s proposed budget sent to Congress last month” [Workboat]. In my reading, the contracts are going to Lockheed Martin Corp. in Wisconsin and Austal Ltd. in Alabama, and not to Bath Iron Works. So.
Realignment and Legitimacy
I focused on Ossoff, and so I’m not fully up to speed on this story, but I think I am right that (a) there are still only anonymous sources on election system hacks, where “hacks” assumes reliable attribution, and (b) the only evidence we have that the DNC email system was hacked by Russians came from the DNC’s vendor, CrowdStrike, and that the DNC refused to hand over its servers to the FBI at the time. I had always thought that a story’s lead was structured like an inverted pyramid, not the evidence for the story itself.
“Russian hackers targeted 21 U.S. states’ election systems in last year’s presidential race, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security official told Congress on Wednesday. Jeanette Manfra, the department’s acting deputy undersecretary of cyber security, would not identify which states had been targeted, citing confidentiality agreements. ” [Reuters] (Manfra). “She reiterated to the Senate Intelligence Committee that there was no evidence that any actual vote ballots were manipulate.” Oh. OK. Weird sense of priorities results in an argument from authority by an intelligence official on matters that could be considered to affect the legitimacy of a Presidential election, but OK. Anyhow, it’s an administration official making the argument, and a career professional, if that means anything these days, so maybe the Russian hacking story will become something that Trump’s Election Integrity Commission looks at (“vulnerabilities in voting systems and practices”). A good outcome for DHS, at least.
“Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified Wednesday that the Democratic National Committee last year turned down his agency’s offer to help protect its network despite being warned about a hack” [Fox]. “He also confirmed that while Russia, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin, orchestrated cyberattacks on the United States to influence the 2016 presidential election, Moscow was unable to actually alter ballots.” Just to defend the DNC, the successful spearfishing attack on Podesta’s email account probably didn’t warrant DHS’s involvement.
“Blumenthal joined forces with the Constitutional Accountability Center and became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against the President, last week, for violating the emoluments clause. Thirty other Senators and more than a hundred members of the House of Representatives, all Democrats, have joined as co-plaintiffs” [Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker]. On the emoluments clause, see NC here, here, here, and here. And seriously, if Zuckerberg decided to run on the Democrat ticket, do you think the Democrats would be calling for him to sell all his Facebook interests? Or would they cough up their principles? A question that answers itself, once asked. As I keep saying, the problem isn’t “conflict.” It’s oligarchy (and oligarchs).
Existing Home Sales, May 2017: “Housing has been sliding which adds importance to May’s very solid 1.1 percent rebound in existing home sales to a higher-than-expected 5.620 million annualized rate” [Economic Calendar]. “The housing sector opened the year strongly but mostly fizzled during the Spring selling season. Yet this report limits that weakness and should confirm expectations for a bounce back in Friday’s new home sales report. Watch next week for pending home sales which will offer an advance indication on existing home sales in June.” And: “was the third-strongest rate of the past 12 months” [Economic Calendar]. And but: “This was a relatively good month for home sales which offsets last month’s poor showing. The rolling averages improved. It is true that low priced inventory is almost non-existent” [Econintersect]. And: “I started the year expecting inventory would be increasing year-over-year by the end of 2017. That now seems unlikely, but still possible. More inventory would probably mean smaller price increases, and less inventory somewhat larger price increases” [Calculated Risk].
MBA Mortgage Applications, week of June 16, 2017: “Purchase applications for home mortgages fell a seasonally adjusted 1 percent” [Economic Calendar]. “The robust purchase application activity reported by the MBA in recent weeks suggests that the housing market is coming back strongly after first quarter strength sagged substantially in April and May.”
Shipping: “UPS Inc. said today that, for the first time, it will assess a surcharge on peak holiday season deliveries in the U.S. in an effort to recoup the higher costs that come with managing the peak surge” [DC Velocity].
Shipping: “Approximately 100 truck drivers and warehouse workers serving the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach plan to launch a strike starting Monday, according to the Teamsters union local that represents the workers” [DC Velocity].
Shipping: “Shipping industry consolidation is picking up again. Chinese conglomerate Cosco Group is in advanced discussions to acquire Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas Container Line Co., the WSJ’s Costas Paris reports, in a deal worth at least $4 billion that could be concluded by next month. The transaction would be the first since a series of acquisitions and new alliance tie-ups, along with the collapse of Korea’s Hanjin Shipping, redrew global container shipping maps” [Wall Street Journal].
Concentration: “Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is telling some technology companies that if they want its business, they can’t run applications for the retailer on Amazon.com Inc.’s leading cloud-computing service, Amazon Web Services, several tech companies say” [FOX].
Concentration: “The company has established its level of dominance because of the failings of our current antitrust laws. To understand why, you first need to understand the scope of Amazon’s power. It has captured 43 percent of all internet retail sales in the United States, with half of all online shopping searches starting on Amazon. In 2016, it had over $63 billion in revenue from online sales in the United States — or more than the next 10 top online retailers combined. It controls 74 percent of e-book sales, is the largest seller of clothes online and is set to soon become the biggest apparel retailer in the country” [New York Times]. “Amazon today is also one of the world’s largest logistics networks and marketing platforms, as well as the dominant provider of cloud computing, which counts among its clients the Central Intelligence Agency. It manufactures products like the Echo, produces award-winning movies and television series, and delivers food from restaurants in 20 cities. In building this vast empire, Amazon chased growth over paying dividends, pricing key goods and services below cost to chase out competitors.” Amazon also evaded state sales taxes for years, did it not? Any chance of clawing them back?
The Bezzle: “Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has resigned due to investor pressure, and a search for a new leader is on” [Recode]. (Oddly, both the Times and WaPo attribute Kalanick’s defenestration to “shareholders,” as if Uber were a public company. Did all the copy editors get fired in the last re-org?__
The Bezzle: “Uber’s board plans to approach Facebook operating chief Sheryl Sandberg about filling its newly vacant CEO spot, The Post has learned” [New York Post]. I can only hope somebody sends Sheryl some NC links, so she knows what she’d be getting into. See especially “Can Uber Ever Deliver? Part Ten: The Uber Death Watch Begins.”
Rapture Index: Unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High: 189, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 182.
Five Horsemen: “Amazin’ blows past Alphabet” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 43 Fear (previous close: 48, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 52 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jun 21 at 1:21pm.
“Able Health is looking for Senior Application Engineers to build delightful features and improve the reliability of our systems as we rapidly scale our product and organization” [Able Health]. A start-up backed by Y Combinator. Can anybody decode this:
Able Health’s mission is to support a continuously improving US healthcare system. Our platform helps doctors earn incentives from health plans for delivering better care.
What’s “better,” for example?
“POPULISM AND THE ECONOMICS OF GLOBALIZATION” (PDF) [Dani Rodrik, John F. Kennedy School of Government]. “‘Populism’ is that encompasses a diverse set of movements. The term originates from the late 19th century, when a coalition of farmers, workers, and miners in the U.S. rallied against the Gold Standard and the Northeastern banking and finance establishment. Latin America has a long tradition of populism going back to the 1930s, and exemplified by Peronism. Today populism spans a wide gamut of political movements, including anti-euro and anti-immigrant parties in Europe, Syriza and Podemos in Greece and Spain, Trump’s anti-trade nativism in the U.S., the economic populism of Chavez in Latin America, and many others in between. What all these share is an anti-establishment orientation, a claim to speak for the people against the elites, opposition to liberal economics and globalization, and often (but not always) a penchant for authoritarian governance.” It seems to me that any concept that throws Peron, Trump, Syriza, and Podemos into the same bucket isn’t especially useful (except, possibly, to threatened elites).
News of the Wired
a whole bunch of people are exposing their philips hue lights to the internet 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/EcBfTX8q4T
— Internet of Shit (@internetofshit) June 21, 2017
Hope nobody figures out how to make them flicker…
And here’s today’s plant (via):
Footprints in the sands of time, or at least a sandy beach! And don’t step on your specimens!
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