By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
“The fate of the Trans-Pacific Partnership without the United States is still an open question after trade officials meeting on the sidelines of the APEC meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam, issued conflicting statements on whether a deal had been reached” [Politico]. “Work will likely continue today to try to strike a political agreement with the aim of implementing TPP-11 in 2018.”
“Mr Trudeau failed to show up at a meeting late on Friday that was set to officially revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that had been negotiated on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in the Vietnamese coastal city of Danang” [Sidney Morning Herald].
“The Prime Minister’s Office insisted that the meeting was called off due to issues raised by Canada as well as some of the other parties. A spokeswoman said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the meeting’s chair, cancelled the event after a 50-minute face-to-face discussion with Trudeau” [Financial Post].
2016 Post Mortem
“Hillary Clinton to guest-edit December issue of Teen Vogue magazine” [Guardian]. Cf. Luke 17:2.
“Warren walks back claim Democratic primary was rigged” [The Hill]. The pushback must have been considerable…
Derangement is strong:
There's a flight leaving to Moscow from NY every hr. Happy flight!
— Chris Anderson (@chrisontheleft) November 8, 2017
Chris Anderson is an Alternate Member, Los Angeles County Central Committee. That’s reassuring. (Oh, and @AngryBerner a.k.a. Peter Douche was a Peter Daou parody account that Twitter banned for “impersonation,” absurdly, since the account was never offensive — except to Clintonites, of course — and always witty. Not a good look for Twitter, especially considering who is not banned.)
“Booker over the years has talked a lot about love. “Consistent, unyielding love.” “An unbelievable amount of love.” “Crazy love … unreasonable, irrational, impractical love.” And for the better part of this decade, Booker has landed frequently on a particular phrase—the “conspiracy of love.” It’s a phrase he employs with an almost religious fervor—a combination of a guiding-light mantra and a permanent political slogan” [Politico] “He uses it to tell his story, from the suburbs of New York City to Stanford to Oxford to Yale. He uses it to tell the story of his family, from the poor, segregated South to the upwardly mobile comfort of the business and intellectual elite. And Booker uses it to tell the story of a country that has overcome its anguished, divided past by nurturing the bonds between white and black instead of stoking the dissension. Since at least 2011, he has used the phrase on panels and podcasts, in talks to credit union executives and furniture bosses, in campus lectures and at college commencements. He used it last year as an energetic surrogate and short-listed vice presidential possibility for Hillary Clinton. In his recently published book, called United, it’s the title of the first chapter.” “Love trumps hate” wasn’t believable for any number of reasons, except perhaps inside the Brooklyn headquarters (“we loved our candidate and we loved each other”). Perhaps Booker will do better with it. However, if he is serious about this, the bar is historically high; see, e.g., John 15.13.
“Mounting GOP retirements threaten House majority” [The Hill]. “All told, 29 Republicans will not seek reelection to their House seats, compared to only 11 for Democrats. Fifteen Republicans are retiring outright, rather than seeking other political offices or positions. Only two Democrats are doing the same…. In the 15 districts where members are retiring outright, Trump won six of them by 18 points or more.”
“Accusations Against Moore Put Race in Limbo” [Cook Political Report]. “With the December 12 special election just 32 days away, GOP strategists are scrambling to figure out their options…. The reality is that these allegations aren’t going to be ‘proven’ in the next 32 days. It is Moore’s word against those of his accusers. And, there is no way to actually remove Moore from the ballot, particularly since some absentee ballots have already been mailed. It is possible that a very credible candidate could mount a write-in campaign. And yes, appointed U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, who lost to Moore in the run-off in September, can run as a write-in since the state’s ‘sore loser’ law does not apply to special elections. But, is a write-in campaign a realistic option with just a month left?”
Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler defends Roy Moore: “Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus” [Vox]. The word “parents” is doing a lot of work, there; if I recall my Bible Study correctly, Mary was a virgin and the conception didn’t involve Joseph. The cases don’t seem parallel.
More on Virginia:
“Virginia voter: ‘It could have been Dr. Seuss or Berenstain Bears on the ballot – I would voted for them if they were a Democrat'” [WaPo]. The flip side of the “anti-Trump wave” trope, however, is the classic “They could have nominated a ham sandwich, and won.” Which, knowing the Democrat establishment, is exactly what they’d like to do, as long as weathy suburbanites and former Romney voters will choke down said sandwich.
“How a Socialist Beat One of Virginia’s Most Powerful Republicans” [The New Republic]. The whole article is a must-read. And speaking of ham sandwiches, Lee Carter ran as a socialist on the Democrat ticket — nice case of outside/inside, there — and won, without any DNC support at all. Oddly, or not, Carter’s victory is being completely written out of the conventional account of the Virginia election. “Carter’s victory is a testament to his own campaign and the work of outside groups, including the D.C. chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, which caught the rising Democratic wave that swept even unlikely candidates into office on Tuesday.” So, when you hear liberal Democrats blathering about unity, remember that unity is very much a one-way street.
“Virginia was a huge victory for Democrats. But it also shows how elections are rigged in Republicans’ favor” [The Week]. “The big picture is that Republicans enter every election with some built-in advantages, and then when they get power, they alter the system to exaggerate those advantages and tilt the playing field even more in their direction. Democrats can overcome it, just as someone wearing ankle weights might be able to win a race against opponents not so encumbered. But that doesn’t mean it was fair.” And yet, the Democrats go for challenging Republican gerrymandering in the courts, which is slow, expensive, and chancy. (And remember from yesterday that populations are more dynamic than gerrymandered district lines, and what was once an effective gerrymander can quickly change.) Why then, does the Democrat establishment not make 24/7/365 voter registration a core party function and expand their base? The only answer I can see is that they prefer not to. They prefer fighting with the Republicans to pick up Romney voters.
“On its surface, it looks like the race was a Washington insider’s dream: a rebuke of Republican politics and a resurgence of the Democratic Party. But the county-by-county totals tell a more nuanced story” [RealClearPolitics]. “In Nelson County, just a 15-minute drive west of Charlottesville, Republican Ed Gillespie won by just four votes. Nelson County is one of 209 counties in the country that voted Obama-Obama-Trump in the last three presidential elections. If we dig deeper into the places that are wildly swinging between both political parties, a picture starts to emerge. What do nearly 80 percent of these ‘pivot counties,’ the Obama-Obama-Trump counties, have in common? The answer is that more businesses have died there than have been born. Despite a net increase in entrepreneurial activity across the country since the end of the Great Recession, according to the bipartisan Economic Innovation Group, the majority of pivot counties have seen a decline during that period. This includes all five pivot counties in Virginia…. The voters and counties that are flipping between parties want a vision of how their communities can be more dynamic and forward-looking. Obama and Trump provided those visions in different ways.” I don’t know what “dynamic and forward-looking” could possibly mean. I’d frame it as “change vs. more of the same.”
“Health care played big role in Democratic win in Virginia: Poll” [CNBC]. “Almost 70 percent of Virginia voters said health care was the most important or a very important issue in deciding whom to vote for as governor.” This too is being written out of the conventional wisdom. After all, that suggests that #MedicareForAll might be popular, and the donor class wouldn’t like that.
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“Black Lives Matter activist in viral photo overwhelmingly wins Charlotte City Council seat” [Raw Story]. Another ham sandwich.
“Our Revolution Candidates Won Big Last Night” [The Nation]. More ham sandwiches.
And on “wave” elections;
What I “take away” is that the people know the country is in chaos and they keep voting for change.
— RoseAnn DeMoro (@RoseAnnDeMoro) November 8, 2017
“Unbowed by the president’s criticism, CNN posed a question about to what degree do voters believe what they hear from the White House. Buried at the bottom of the news channel’s most recent survey, we find that 10 percent of voters believe ‘almost all’ of what emanates from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, 20 percent believe ‘most of it,’ 37 percent believe ‘just some of it.’ Fully 31 percent of voters believe ‘nothing at all’ that they hear from this White House” [RealClearPolitics].
“Sen. Rand Paul was violently attacked a week ago. We still don’t know why.” [Vox]. Paul, however, denies the “lawn-based tensions” theory.
Realignment and Legitimacy
“America Breaks Down: The Anatomy of a National Psychosis” [Counterpunch]. Note the source.
Consumer Sentiment, November 2017 (Preliminary): “Preliminary November consumer sentiment edged down” [Econoday]. “The losses however, were quite small as the sentiment index remained at its second highest level since January. Current conditions declined … An improving labor market was spontaneously mentioned by a record number of consumers in early November, and anticipated wage gains recorded their highest two-month level in a decade.” And: “This was below the consensus forecast” [Calculated Risk]. “Consumer sentiment is a concurrent indicator (not a leading indicator).” And but: “Note that this indicator is somewhat volatile, with a 3.0 point absolute average monthly change. The latest data point saw a 2.9 percent change from the previous month” [Econintersect].
Commodities: “U.S. farmers are harvesting grains in record numbers, but it’s unclear when the yield will get into global supply chains. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is raising its forecast for the corn harvest for the 2017-2018 year thanks in part to a record yield…, exacerbating a glut of grain supplies that has kept prices low” [Wall Street Journal]. “The extra supply could push corn futures lower still, and push farmers to stockpile more of the crops in hopes of stronger demand and higher pricing, particularly in foreign markets. That could extend a downturn in grain shipments in bulk shipping markets for several more months. Grain shipments on U.S. railroads were off 11.8% year-over-year in October, according to the Association of American Railroads.”
Retail: “The concern at restaurant chains like Subway are part of a broader challenge in the retail world, where a wide range of companies use special promotions to cajole, lure, push and prompt consumers to boost their buying. The marketing brainstorm may not match carefully-crafted supply chains, however” [Wall Street Journal]. “National chains rely on a sprawling network of suppliers set up to ship tomatoes, hamburger buns and other staples in regularly scheduled truckloads, and they’re not always equipped for a surge in demand for pumpkin-spice milkshakes or Nashville hot chicken.”
Retail: “Amazon.com Inc. is moving faster to blend its fast-delivery operations with its burgeoning physical retail space. The e-commerce giant is putting company veteran Steve Kessel, a central figure who oversaw development of Amazon’s digital strategy, in charge of the Prime Now operation, Amazon Fresh and its recently acquired Whole Foods busines” [Wall Street Journal]. “Amazon has started placing its delivery lockers for customers in its stores, and bigger, more aggressive moves could be coming with Mr. Kessel in charge of the delivery and store operations.” I dunno. Lockers in a story seem like a ridiculous idea to me, but perhaps it’s generational; I didn’t grow up with a “cubby” in day care, for example, and as an adult, I’ve never had a gym locker.
Retail: “Amazon faces fines following the death of a second warehouse worker in as many months” [CNBC]. “Amazon could face after an inspection by the state of Indiana found potential workplace safety violations at a warehouse where a 59-year-old worker was killed in late September.” Do the math…
The Bezzle: “A new report by the RAND Corp. argues that instead of waiting for near-perfect driving, we should start putting autonomous vehicles on the road as soon as they are even just a little bit safer than humans. After all, doing so would already lower the number of lives lost in car accidents—even if some of those self-driven vehicles still crash, and even kill” [Slate].
The Bezzle: “Inside the Underground World of Legal Art Forgery” [Architectural Digest]. “[Henry Bloch’s Renoir] is an example of the seldom-spoken yet widespread practice among institutions to forge famous pieces for collectors who’ve either donated or loaned the original works. In 2010, Henry and late wife Marion Bloch promised the Nelson-Atkins Museum their two-decade-old collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art. In 2015, two years before the Bloch Collection was slated to debut, the museum began duplicating the works, some in-house, some with external help.” What could go wrong?
The Bezzle: “Uber loses workers’ rights appeal in huge blow to gig economy model” [Daily Dot]. “The London Employment Tribunal shot down its appeal against a previous ruling from last year that judged Uber drivers should be treated as workers, not self-employed. The ruling entitles the 40,000 or so drivers in the U.K. and Wales to a minimum wage, holiday pay, and paid time off.”
Supply Chain: “A growing handful of online brands are taking [the transparent supply chain] model another step. They’re cutting links from that global supply chain, selling from the source straight to consumers and making sure the story gets told. That story might feature Mongolian goat herders—as Naadam’s does—or the artisans in Morocco who weave traditional rugs on the website The Anou. It could be Ethiopian textile weavers who help create the chic clothes at Cienne NY. Or it could be Italian craftspeople producing traditional luxury goods, including those on the artisan marketplace Rossi & Rei, or the shoe brand M. Gemi” [Quartz]. “The point is that the brands believe this information matters, and that in addition to the usual traits of quality and good value, their customers also crave an emotional connection in what they’re buying.”
Five Horsemen: “Our Fearless Five peer over the ragged edge of the Permanently High Plateau into the abyss beyond” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 54 Neutral (previous close: 54, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 69 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Nov 8 at 7:00pm. And post-election day.
“Trump officials to allow work requirements for Medicaid” [The Hill]. “The remarks by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Seema Verma would signal a significant departure from the Obama administration’s approach to such requests. Several states have already proposed work requirements, and Verma’s comments indicate a willingness to fast-track those approvals. The Obama administration repeatedly said work requirements were inconsistent with Medicaid’s mission of providing health care to low-income people. According to Verma, allowing states to impose work requirements is an essential part of granting them more flexibility. .” Oh. OK.
“When will the Earth try to kill us again?” [Ars Technica]. Depends on how ticked off Gaia is, I suppose. I’d guess She’s pretty ticked off.
“Over the last thirty years or so, for example, about 3,000 companies in the United States have entered into settlements with the federal government to resolve criminal investigations” [Corporate Crime Reporter]. “About 2,500 of them have pled guilty. The vast majority of the companies forced to plead guilty are smaller less powerful companies. The remaining 500 companies have been given deferred and non prosecution agreements. And those companies are the large and more powerful companies. They get to sidestep the guilty plea.”
“Top 10 Things Unions Can Do Right Now to Address Sexual Harassment in the Workplace” [On Labor]. “Unions are in a unique position: they have the power to influence how employers address harassment in workplaces where they have collective bargaining relationships or where they are organizing.”
“The Canton Speech” [Jacobin]. This is the speech that Progressive icon Woodrow Wilson jailed Debs for. “The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose — especially their lives.” Happy Veteran’s Day!
News of the Wired
“Senators push to ditch Social Security numbers in light of Equifax hack” [TechCrunch]. “Multiple times throughout the hearing, Brazil’s Infraestrutura de Chaves Públicas system of citizen IDs through digital certificates came up as a potential model for the U.S. as it moves forward. In this model, a certificate lasts for three years at maximum and can be used to issue a digital signature much like written signatures are used now. Unlike its counterpart in the U.S., these identity accounts can be revoked and reissued easily through an established national protocol.”
“There’s no reason to feel remorse for disinvesting affection we sank into artists who are later revealed to be criminals or abusers. There’s no reason to have qualms about stamping their work ‘Of Archival Interest Only’ and moving on to something new — not just new work, but a new paradigm for relationships in show business, and all business” [Vulture]. “Disinvesting” seems a curious word. But it might be the right one.
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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please put it in the subject line. Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (AF). Buttoning up the garden (more like this, please):
AF writes: “I snapped this picture while planting garlic (the raised bed covered in straw). This was last weekend, November 5th, and I was still picking carrots, onions, peas, kale, spinach and lettuce, in central Maine.”
Readers, I’m doing OK on fall foliage now, but I’m so fascinated to learn that this map is off, I’m going to leave the request up just to see what there is to see…
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