By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
“Fool’s gold: Economists worry that Trump’s trade war sped up U.S. exports in the second quarter as China and other U.S. trading partners rushed to snap up American soybeans and other products ahead of the tariffs, meaning much of the growth could likely be reversed in the coming months” [Politico].
“Trump reportedly fears potential 2020 candidate Joe Biden most of all” [AOL]. No.
“Dems reverse course on White House parks plan” [The Hill]. “Three House Democrats joined Republicans Wednesday to introduce a bill, dubbed the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, that endorses using the income from to fund construction projects for the National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Indian Education. In total 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans signed onto the bill.” • So it’s bipartisan!
More policy idiocy:
i hate the overused centrist jokes as much as anyone but the democrats literally proposed “make exactly half of college free” https://t.co/K5ztinGpsr
— frank furtschool (@kulturalmarx) July 27, 2018
But not to worry. I’m sure, like every other Democrat policy initiative, this will drop from sight shortly. Show of hands: Who remembers Schumer’s “Better Deal”?
“The Bottom Line in Republicans’ 42 Open Seats” [David Wasserman, Cook Political Report]. “Of Republicans’ 42 incumbent-less seats, eight are in districts that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and an additional 13 are in districts where President Trump received less than 55 percent. History is working against the GOP in many of those seats: we found that since 1992, in situations when a president’s party was stuck defending an open seat two years after the president failed to carry it, that party has batted zero for 23 keeping it in their column…. The most immediate open seat test is the August 7 special election in , north of Columbus… It’s in the Toss Up column, and if Democrat Danny O’Connor defeats Republican Troy Balderson in a seat Trump carried by 11 points in 2016 (R+7 PVI), it would be another piece of evidence that Democrats are pushing the House battleground deeper into Trump territory.” • Here’s Cook Political Report’s horserace chart. I think, in my copious free time, I’ll add this to me database, so we can compare the prognosticators. (As I’ve said, I use Inside Elections exactly because they’re more conservative, as an antidote to liberal Democrat triumphalism.
“Trump intervenes to save the House” [Politico]. “The president has signed off on plans for his reelection campaign to funnel contributions to 100 Republican candidates running in House and Senate races, the campaign said Thursday. The precise amount is unclear, but Trump is expected to send thousands of dollars to each contender….. Additionally, as part of the financial decision, the Republican National Committee, which Trump has been aggressively raising money for, will transfer $4 million apiece to the National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee.” • The Air War has barely begun.
“Citing Trump, some Republican women to vote Democratic in Ohio election” [Reuters]. “In interviews with a dozen women, mostly Republicans, in the Midwestern state’s 12th Congressional District, several said they would buck their voting habits to support the Democratic candidate on Aug. 7, citing Trump as a major factor. Others said they disapproved of the president’s behavior but had yet to make up their minds about the congressional contest. Strategists say winning over white, educated, suburban women in dozens of Republican-leaning districts will be key to Democrats’ efforts to retake the U.S. House of Representatives in Nov. 6 congressional elections.” • That has been the liberal Democrat strategy since at least July 2016 (and see Puerto Rico, below, for what is not the Democrat strategy.)
“Can Republicans Bridge the Gender Gap?” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “However, GOP strategist Liesl Hickey says Republican incumbents, especially those in suburban districts, should not give up on women voters. Hickey, the former executive director of the NRCC knows a lot about running and winning in suburban districts. I first met Liesl in 2000, when she was working on Mark Kirk’s first campaign for the suburban Chicago’s 10th CD. Liesl helped him get re-elected in 2006; a particularly awful year for House GOP members. She now advises and produces advertising for GOP candidates in suburban districts across the country. This June, she conducted dozens of one-on-one interviews with independent and Republican-leaning women voters in suburban battleground counties. What she found was that ‘they can dislike Trump, but still vote for a Republican member of Congress.’ These women, says Hickey, are ‘open and willing to hear an argument’ from GOP candidates…. very few of these Republican-leaning and independent women believe that their dislike of Trump means that they can’t trust Republicans to be in charge in Washington…. What’s also helping suburban GOP candidates with independent and Republican-leaning women, notes Hickey, is the fact that these women are worried that a Democratic-controlled Congress will be too far out of the mainstream and will ‘go too far.'” • Sure, Hickey’s talking her book. And separating a candidate from a President is a standard tactic across the board. But I wonder if this is what Republican messaging will be? And speaking of “going too far”–
“Ocasio-Cortez, the GOP’s Midterm Boogeyman?” [RealClearPolitics]. “While the New York congressional candidate is an anomaly when it comes Democratic Socialists of America winning federal-level primaries thus far, energy within her party is mounting around policy ideas the movement espouses, including the abolishment of Immigration and Customs Enforcements, Medicare for All, a $15 an hour federal minimum wage, and tax increases for wealthy Americans. Republicans argue that the rise of Ocasio-Cortez and the way in which she is already campaigning for candidates nationwide — and causing some friction with establishment Democrats — provides opportunities for them to spotlight contrasts in congressional races and gin up their base against the prospect of a Democratic Congress. ‘She has a money operation and an earned-media operation. … We plan on using it as a wedge between her and other Democrats,’ says Matt Gorman, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. ‘She sows a lot of dissent in the Democratic Party, and her dipping her toe in some of these primaries could also help us.'” • So I imagine we will see liberal Democrats trying to pick up suburban Republican votes by trashing AOC as well. And more on going too far–
“Calls for open borders wind up closing doors for Democrats” [Douglas Schoen* , The Hill]. “In an interview just last week, Ellison suggested that because corporations ‘can go back and forth across the border seeking out the lowest wages,’ regular people should be able to ‘go back and forth across the border seeking out the highest wages.'” • Oof. Yes, I’ve always wanted to travel to Mexico looking for a good job at a good wage. More: “Indeed, these extreme statements not only convey a deeply troubling sentiment, but moreover, are strategically bad for Democrats. Rep. Tom Suozzi, a centrist Democrat representing New York’s 3rd district, was right when he recently lambasted the extremist immigration rhetoric coming from his own party. ‘Open borders is not a winning policy,’ Suozzi said. ‘I’m a strong supporter, as are most Democrats, of strong border security.'” • What a mess. I wonder what suburban Republican women think? NOTE * Bill Clinton pollster, FOX contributor.
GA Governor: “Stacey Abrams Could Become America’s First Black Female Governor—If She Can Turn Georgia Blue” [Time]. “On a Friday afternoon in May, the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia is at a union hall in Augusta, telling a story about her father, a college-educated black man who was relegated by his race* to working at a shipyard in southern Mississippi in the 1970s. The family had one car, so Robert Abrams would sometimes hitchhike home in the middle of the night. When he didn’t come home one time, the rest of the family set out to pick him up and found him half-frozen by the side of the road, having given his coat to a homeless man. They asked why he, a poor man on a lonely road at night, would do such a thing. And Robert said, ‘Because I knew you were coming for me.’ You can hear scattered sniffles in the union hall as his daughter pauses. Then she roars: ‘I am coming for you, Georgia! Help me get there!'” • Holy moly. NOTE * Note lack of agency in “was relegated,” as well as the erasure of class in “by his race.” Come on.
Lucia McBath, whose son Jordan Davis was shot & killed by a white man because he & his friends were "playing music too loudly" in their car at a gas station in Jacksonville, florida 2012, won the Democratic nomination in Georgia's 6th Congressional District.
RETWEET ✊?✊? pic.twitter.com/RuNrU9vC9o
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) July 26, 2018
Sadly, McBath is a “public option” supporter who also wants to lower Medicare eligibilty to age 55. Fine, but why not 54? Or 50? Or… 0?
New Cold War
“Fake Views? Page FISA Warrant Shows We’re Doomed” [RealClearPolitics]. • A good round-up, well worth a read. Even if it is the most high-level “he said/she said” you can imagine, and there’s no conclusion!
The Liberal Democrats Have Lost Their Minds
And hijacked Occupy’s branding, to boot:
Led by Clinton operatives, the #resistance gathers outside the White House to protest Trump re Russia. Donning shark suits and carrying signs, they chant things like “treason” in Russian, “secret service,” and “Rachel Maddow.” They even celebrated the FBI’s birthday. https://t.co/kdKTd61fkV
— Walker Bragman (@WalkerBragman) July 27, 2018
“Senate Democrats Call for Cancellation of Puerto Rico’s $70 Billion in Debt” [GritPost]. “Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) introduced the US Territorial Relief Act of 2018, joined by Senators Kamala Harris (D-California) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York).”
“The Daily 202: Puerto Ricans who fled to Florida after Hurricane Maria are not registering to vote” [WaPo]. “Because they’re already U.S. citizens, Puerto Ricans are eligible to vote as soon as they move to the mainland…. [M]ost of the Puerto Ricans who have come to Florida are not registering to vote or otherwise getting involved in politics. At least for now… There’s no denying that successful voter registration drives could mean the difference between winning and losing.” • Are these potential voters suburban Republicans, especially women? No? And speaking of voter registration–
Hiring one person for voter registration in Broward County. 25 hours a week, $15 an hour. If interested, email resume at firstname.lastname@example.org
— Tomas Kennedy (@tomaskenn) July 25, 2018
As I keep asking: Sure, the Democrats would win 2018, even 2020. Can these Democrats? They are actively avoiding expanding their base, and instead are seeking existing Republican voters, mostly suburban, mostly women.
Realignment and Legitimacy
UPDATE Yes, the Acela Corridor really does exist:
— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) July 26, 2018
“Whom Is the DSA Reaching? The Teens.” [The Nation]. “A large part of the DSA’s surge in membership can be attributed to young people—70 to 80 percent of the 24,000 who have joined DSA since November 2016 are under 35. According to Michelle Fisher, co-chair of DSA’s youth wing, Young Democratic Socialists of America, some of this new membership is still in high school: There are four official chartered chapters of the YDSA in high schools across America. Since Ocasio-Cortez’s win, Fisher says, members from 21 different high schools have expressed interest in organizing chapters at their schools. The 2016 presidential election was many high-school socialists’ political turning point; it certainly was the case for 17-year-old Josh Kuh, a junior at Garfield High School in Seattle who discovered DSA in late October 2016.” • Thank you, Bernie. More–
Kids watched everything their parents worked for their whole lives disappear in the Wall St crash and then watched as only the banks who did it got bailed out. They LIVED the reality of predatory capitalism and made a decision.
— Gal Capone (@debpresente) July 26, 2018
UPDATE “Socialist group moves closer to Nixon endorsement” [Politico]. “Cynthia Nixon inched closer to gaining the endorsement of the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America after a third local branch recommended backing her insurgent campaign for governor. The Central Brooklyn branch approved the recommendation during a Wednesday night meeting, according to Danya Lagos, an official with the organization. Branches in South Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan already have recommended endorsing the “Sex and the City” actor’s Democratic primary bid against Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But there still is simmering dissent. The chapter covering Upper Manhattan and the Bronx voted against recommending an endorsement at its Wednesday night meeting.” • I’ve gotta say, it’s extremely weird seeing DSA show up in horserace coverage. These are strange times….
GDP, Q2 2018 (Advance): “[C]onsumer spending drove GDP significantly higher in the second quarter, to a 4.1 percent annualized rate” [Econoday]. After consumer spending came goods, then exports. “Overheating would appear to be a danger for the economy right now, consistent with the array of regional and private economic data where delivery delays, input costs and even price pass through are at or near record highs. Today’s report includes benchmark revisions including a 2 tenths upgrade to first-quarter GDP which now stands 2.2 percent. Also of note, the savings rate for 2017 is revised much higher to 6.7 percent from 3.4 percent.” And: “The consumer spending significantly improved. I am not a fan of quarter-over-quarter exaggerated method of measuring GDP – but my year-over-year preferred method showed moderate acceleration from last quarter” [Econintersect]. And: “US economy surges to 4.1 percent growth rate in Q2” [Associated Press]. “That’s the fastest pace since 2014, driven by consumers who began spending their tax cuts and exporters who rushed to get their products delivered ahead of retaliatory tariffs.” And: “U.S. Growth Hits 4.1%, Fastest Since 2014, in Win for Trump” [Bloomberg]. “Illustrating the volatility of some elements of GDP, net exports contributed 1.06 percentage point to the pace of growth, the most since 2013, partly on a surge in soybean shipments ahead of retaliatory tariffs. Inventories subtracted 1 point, the most since 2014, Commerce said, citing soybean stocks as well as those of drugs and sundries and petroleum and related products…. [But one] measure that economists look at for a better sense of underlying demand showed strength. Final sales to private domestic purchasers — which exclude trade, inventories and government outlays — grew at a 4.3 percent pace, the second- fastest since 2014.” And: “Fact checking Trump’s victory lap after the second-quarter GDP report” [MarketWatch]. “Trump: “Each point, by the way, means $3 trillion and 10 million jobs. Think of that. Each point. You go up one point, it doesn’t sound like much. It’s a lot.” POSSIBLY. This must be a projection over 10 years — a typical window used to budget forecasts.” • This last is fascinating, because as the much-maligned Maggie Habberman has pointed out, Trump doesn’t always lie.
Consumer Sentiment, July 2018 (Final): Down from June, but up from the mid-month flash [Econoday]. “This is good report pointing to a healthy consumer who, unlike Federal Reserve policy makers perhaps, is not concerned about inflation.”
Durable Goods: “The tax cuts helped the economy though they were relatively small and largely low multiple, but tariffs are tax increases and work to reduce real consumption if income doesn’t also adjust. Also, there could have been some front running ahead of the dates the tariffs go into effect. This adds volatility to the data” [Mosler Economics].
Advertising; “The death of Don Draper” [New Statesman]. “Rory Sutherland [vice-chairman of Ogilvy & Mather] argues that efficiency is overrated, and that excess and superfluity are weapons that marketers surrender at their peril. ;Knowing that the seller has faith in their product is a hugely valuable piece of information,’ he says. ‘In luxury goods, for instance, the ad says almost nothing; the cost of the ad almost everything.’ Biologists regard the peacock’s tail as an expensive and so unfakeable signal of fitness – a sexual status symbol. Similarly, an ad can emit a powerful signal about a brand, regardless of information content. Online ads are cheap and easy to make, but the problem is, they look it. ‘You don’t invite people to your wedding by email,’ says Sutherland.”
Capital Investment: “Orders for US Capital Equipment Rise for Third Straight Month” [Industry Week]. “Orders placed with U.S. factories for business equipment increased in June for a third straight month, a sign of investment momentum heading into the second half despite corporate concerns over tariffs…. The gain in business-equipment orders included increases in computers and electronic products, along with electrical equipment, appliances and components. Machinery and fabricated-metal products also showed smaller pickups, while orders for primary metals declined for a second month. The latest data signal business investment remains firm even as President Donald Trump widens a global trade war beyond steel and aluminum and into a growing range of products from China, as well as potential levies on autos.”
Commodities: “Russia Ditches U.S. Dollar For Gold As Tensions Rise” [Safe Haven]. “Russia‘s U.S. dollar reserves have shrunk from $96.1 billion in March to just $14.9 billion in May, according to the Russian Central Bank. Its governor, Elvira Nabiullina, says the decision will help protect the Russian economy and diversify the bank’s reserves…. Both political and economic reasons prompted the Russian central bank‘s decision. First, mindful of geopolitical tensions, the regulator has apprehensions that Russia-owned treasuries can be frozen. [Second,] In periods of global financial or political crises, gold is much more useful than securities or cash, although gold is also prone to price fluctuations.”
Shipping: “Weekly van, reefer barometers pull back as seasonality strikes market” [Freight Waves]. “After setting one record high after another in the early weeks of 2018, the weekly DAT Dry Van and Reefer Barometers have pulled back (as small trucking companies began to learn how to use ELDs and added capacity back into the marketplace and as demand seasonally softened in July), but is still in a strong growth range.” • I hate it when reefer does that.
Shipping: “Cosco resorts to Yahoo and social media to stay in touch with clients in the Americas” [Splash 247]. “Cosco’s staff across the Americas have resorted to using Yahoo email addresses and social media to keep in touch with clients as the Chinese carrier grapples to get operations on track following a ransomware attack on Tuesday morning. Though banned in China, sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become vital client communication tools for Cosco’s American staff in recent days. The cyber attack is believed to have started at a customer service centre in Long Beach and spread across Cosco’s US network and then the entire Americas region.”
Transportation: “New battery systems must include vital changes” [Automotive IQ]. “As batteries for automobiles get lighter and stronger, they become not only more powerful but also more dangerous. The search for battery materials that mix power and longevity must also be a search for safety, such as less flammability and explosive power… As batteries for automobiles get lighter and stronger, they become not only more powerful but also more dangerous. The search for battery materials that mix power and longevity must also be a search for safety, such as less flammability and explosive power…. The great challenge in battery-operated self-driving vehicles (SDV) is the constant use of the vehicle by many riders, since it is generally accepted that the next few years will see testing in the transport of many people back and forth over a specific route. (2) These routes will include many stops and starts, and acceleration that will demand fast voltage changes and varied load demands on the battery…. For now, autonomous passenger busses will most likely be sent on routes that allow charging back at a central station, much like bus fleets today. The era of an Uber arriving to take us to the airport, then heading off to another call for a ride, is still a long way off. When it happens, one of the reasons will be that battery safety has risen to match the battery power that will be required.” • Well worth a read for EV and robot car mavens.
Transportation: “Ten years left to redesign lithium-ion batteries” [Nature]. “If nothing changes, demand [for the metals used in electrodes] will outstrip production within 20 years. We expect this to occur for cobalt by 2030 and for nickel by 2037 or sooner…. Several technological breakthroughs are needed to secure the future of affordable battery-powered transport….. Government agencies and leading car manufacturers should fund this research, which will require billion-dollar investments…. Lithium-ion battery manufacturers have already invested billions of dollars in dozens of ‘giga-factories’ to boost the electric-vehicle market. With co-ordination, thought and planning, these can be set on a new path to deliver the next generation of affordable batteries.” • As usual, the hard problems aren’t technical.
The Bezzle: “Pennsylvania Sues Alleged Mortgage Scammers” [Governing]. “The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office sued five mortgage foreclosure companies and their owners on Wednesday, alleging the firms scammed vulnerable homeowners into paying $280,000 for services they never received. The civil lawsuit claims companies owned by Mark Goldstein and Drew Alia tricked consumers into paying sometimes thousands of dollars for mortgage modifications or home loan audits they didn’t produce. The companies instructed homeowners not to contact their mortgage lenders or make any payments, and in some cases victims lost their homes or filed for bankruptcy, according to the complaint.” • The cancer still silently metastasizes. Thanks, Obama!
The Bezzle: “New York Could Become First Major U.S. City to Cap Uber and Similar Vehicles” [New York Times]. “New York City officials are moving to cap the number of vehicles driving for Uber and other ride-hailing services as part of an aggressive move to address mounting concerns that their explosive growth has led to worsening congestion and low driver wages.” • So how many cabbies had to commit suicide for this to happen?
The Bezzle: “A new study says services like UberPool are making traffic worse” [Los Angeles Times]. “The explosive growth of Uber and Lyft has created a new traffic problem for major U.S. cities and ride-sharing options such as UberPool and Lyft Line are exacerbating the issue by appealing directly to customers who would otherwise have taken transit, walked, biked or not used a ride-hailing service at all, according to a new study. The report by Bruce Schaller, author of the influential study “Unsustainable?” which found ride-hailing services were making traffic congestion in New York City worse, constructs a detailed profile of the typical ride-hail user and issues a stark warning to cities: Make efforts to counter the growth of ride-hailing services, or surrender city streets to fleets of private cars, creating a more hostile environment for pedestrians and cyclists and ultimately make urban cores less desirable places to live.”
The Bezzle: “IBM pitched its Watson supercomputer as a revolution in cancer care. It’s nowhere close” [STAT]. (This is from 2017, so the issue has been alive for some time.) “But three years after IBM began selling Watson to recommend the best cancer treatments to doctors around the world, a STAT investigation has found that the supercomputer isn’t living up to the lofty expectations IBM created for it. It is still struggling with the basic step of learning about different forms of cancer. Only a few dozen hospitals have adopted the system, which is a long way from IBM’s goal of establishing dominance in a multibillion-dollar market. And at foreign hospitals, physicians complained its advice is biased toward American patients and methods of care. STAT examined Watson for Oncology’s use, marketing, and performance in hospitals across the world, from South Korea to Slovakia to South Florida. Reporters interviewed dozens of doctors, IBM executives, artificial intelligence experts, and others familiar with the system’s underlying technology and rollout. The interviews suggest that IBM, in its rush to bolster flagging revenue, unleashed a product without fully assessing the challenges of deploying it in hospitals globally.” • So is IBM’s Watson AI bullshit, or is AI bullshit? Particularly important to know for the coming age of robot cars….
The Bezzle: “Hedge funds pay a steep price for Facebook love affair” [Finance News]. “If you think Mark Zuckerberg is the most miserable man on earth today, the hedge funds who have been bullish on Facebook as it blasted its way to records are not far behind…. it is not just hedge funds that are suffering. Facebook was also a favorite with exchange-traded funds and can be found as an underlying asset in many large ETFs along with Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Alphabet, JPMorgan data from Blue Edge Capital shows.”
Private Equity: “Spiders, sewage and a flurry of fees – the other side of renting a house from Wall Street” [Reuters]. “First, [McKayla Ferreira] noticed water leaking through the bathroom and kitchen ceilings. Then she found a furry black mold spreading across the walls and raw sewage sluicing through the crawl space. Worst, to her, were the black widow spiders swarming her kitchen cupboards and linen closets. ‘Those spiders were so big you could hear them,’ Ferreira said. ‘They sounded like fingernails scraping a table.’ Ferreira called her landlord, Invitation Homes Inc, a creation of private equity giant Blackstone Group LP. The spiders were a ‘housekeeping issue,’ the company representative told her, and she should ‘clean the place up.’ Invitation Homes wasn’t enthusiastic about fixing the leaks, either. Two months passed before it sent someone to cut through the ceiling and fix the pipes, Ferreira said. Then the company took seven more months to patch it all up.” • Very had to see what private equity brings to the table other than the ability to screw tenants harder.
Honey for the Bears: “The U.S. Housing Market Looks Headed for Its Worst Slowdown in Years” [Bloomberg]. “The U.S. housing market — particularly in cutthroat areas like Seattle, Silicon Valley and Austin, Texas — appears to be headed for the broadest slowdown in years. Buyers are getting squeezed by rising mortgage rates and by prices climbing about twice as fast as incomes, and there’s only so far they can stretch. ‘This could be the very beginning of a turning point,’ said Robert Shiller, a Nobel Prize-winning economist who is famed for warning of the dot-com and housing bubbles, in an interview. He stressed that he isn’t ready to make that call yet.”
The Fed: “Former Banker: The Fed is NOT Run By Private Shareholders” [YouTube]. The “former banker” being Warren Mosler:
The YouTube following, on Roman coins in Pompeii, is also interesting.
Our Famously Free Press
“Financing Dies in Darkness? The Impact of Newspaper Closures on Public Finance” (PDF) [Pengjie Gao, Chang Lee, Dermot Murphy, Brookings Institute]. From the abstract:
Local newspapers hold their governments accountable. We examine the effect of local newspaper closures on public finance for local governments. Following a newspaper closure, we find in the long run. Identification tests illustrate that these results are not being driven by deteriorating local economic conditions. The loss of monitoring that results from newspaper closures is associated with increased government inefficiencies, including higher likelihoods of costly advance refundings and negotiated issues, and higher government wages, employees, and tax revenues.
So now we know why private equity is buying up local newspapers and destroying them!
“Top Trump Official Dims Hopes for Single-Payer Health Care” [Governing]. “Speaking Wednesday at the Commonwealth Club here, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said she supports granting states flexibility on health care but indicated she would not give California the leeway it would need to spend federal money on a single-payer system. ‘I think a lot of the analysis has shown it’s unaffordable,’ Verma said during a question-and-answer session following her speech. “It doesn’t make sense for us to waste time on something that’s not going to work.’ During her speech, Verma issued a broader warning to advocates pushing for a Medicare-for-all program nationally. She said that ‘socialized’ approach to medicine would endanger the program and the health care it provides for millions of older Americans. ‘We don’t want to divert the purpose and focus away from our seniors,’ Verma said in the address before more than 200 people. ‘In essence, Medicare for all would become Medicare for none.'” • Of course, liberal Democrats like Andy Slavitt are saying the same things in nicer words. However, I don’t think #MedicareForAll makes sense at the state level anyhow. California — at least so far — is not a currency issuer, so funding would be gleefully slashed as an austerity measure during the first downturn. And that would be that.
“The Role of Technology in Political Economy: Part 3” [Law and Political Economy]. “Technology (practical knowledge embedded in material culture; I’ll come back to this later) creates affordances and impose constraints on what we can do practically, such that some ways of doing things are harder, and others easier. These affordances and constraints can affect patterns of production, participation, and reproduction in the main, while leaving substantial room for sustained divergence based on interaction with the institutional ecology of the society that develops and adopts the technology. Bartholomew Watson’s fascinating Barcode Empires underscores the extent to which introducing barcodes and optical readers gave large scale retailers sufficiently large advantages over smaller-scale grocers that retail chains grew dramatically across a wide range of diverse market societies.” • For “affordance,” see discussion here.
“Drones Are Taking Oil Jobs” [Safe Haven]. “The drones are coming to oil and gas and they may soon be intelligent enough to replace humans in on-site inspections. That’s what the latest experiments carried out by drone makers in the oil field suggest, with the drone makers boasting much shorter inspection times and comparable inspection accuracy… Another company, aerial intelligence supplier Measure, recently gauged the accuracy of drone inspections on a solar power facility compared to the accuracy of human inspections. The result was a near tie at 99 percent accuracy for both humans and UAVs. There was one big difference, however. The human inspection took two days. The drone inspection took just two hours… Drone use is on the rise in pipeline inspections as well.”
“The Cosmic Radiation Forecast Could Be Bad for a Human Mars Mission” [Bloomberg]. • Dang. And I was so hoping Elon Musk and his friends could escape, hopefully into some sort of Lord of the Flies situation.
News of The Wired
“I’m a librarian. The last thing we need is Silicon Valley ‘disruption'” [Vox]. “As someone who has worked in libraries for seven years, the suggestion that Amazon could be a better provider than a library is unfathomable. Amazon charges people who want access to art and entertainment. By offering anybody free access to a massive collection of books, music, and movies, libraries fundamentally advance the idea that culture is a public good that everybody has a right to enjoy, regardless of their income. For anyone who believes in the power of art to change and enhance our lives, the idea that it should only be available to people who can pay for it is horrifying.” • It’s amazing the political clout that public libraries have. But read the whole article for the public library’s complete missions. (Makes me wonder if charging for library access might catch on as a way to keep out the riff-raff. Or Uber for Books.
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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 place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (SC):
SC writes: “Some amusement on the chamoe front. The plant has been in the ground 17 days and is already producing fruits; the recent heat may be helping. They are about 1/4″ wide at the moment, smaller than kidney beans. I think they will mature in less than 3 weeks. This one plant will produce more than my Korean friend can eat, and I have several others waiting for their planting spaces to be double dug! The local food panty will have exotic fresh fruits this Summer.”
And here is a chamoe:
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