By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, this will be even more sparse than yesterday’s initial cut, because I spent most of the morning researching the neoliberal assault on the UK’s NHS, and not getting enough writing done; I’ll make a final cut shortly. Talk amongst yourselves! –lambert UPDATE 5:15PM All doe, done. (My “n” key is ow stickig, I thik because of cat hair.) This is a bit of a pantry clearout on the midterms, but there’s so much amazing stuff happening. Bangs “n” key furiously…
“Trump considers raising tariffs on Chinese imports to 25%” [Financial Times]. “Geng Shuang, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, on Thursday urged the US ‘to correct its attitude and not to try to engage in blackmail. This does not work for China. We advise the US to return to reason and not to act in anger, which will ultimately hurt themselves.'” • Although I don’t have time to do a round-up, I’m getting the impression from the headlines that China’s message isn’t completely unified. For example, this from the South China Morning Post: “China is consulting businesspeople and think tanks at home and abroad as it considers whether to adapt its strategy in the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies, according to Chinese government advisers and a US business representative.” The thing is, once blackmail enters a relationship — leaving aside whether blackmail is the, er, norm in international relations — it never really leaves; you can’t walk it back. So this is not really a very Foreign Minister-y thing for a Foreign Minister to say.
“Meghan McCain talks to Joe Biden ‘all the time'” [CNN]. • That’s nice.
“Hillary Clinton political group gives to candidates who helped her campaigns” [Politico]. That’s nice.
Kamala Harris brings the complexity:
This is wild and is a great example of how democrats don't understand private taxation. Rather than just limiting what landlords are allowed to appropriate from households, they're going to subsidize it ; and of course rather than with a cash payment, its a complicated tax credit https://t.co/AZ97nvzWEn
— Cultist (@NathanTankus) July 29, 2018
“Obama announces his ‘first wave’ of 2018 midterm endorsements, and doesn’t include Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez” [Business Insider] • That’s nice.
“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won in New York. Now her allies are taking on the Midwest.” [CNN]. “Over the past two weeks, the aggressive new voice of the progressive left has crisscrossed the Midwest, making a stop in Kansas to campaign alongside Bernie Sanders as well as solo trips to Missouri and Michigan to stump for insurgent candidates hoping to follow in her path…. ‘Our swing voter is not red-to-blue,’ she said at a stop in Flint. ‘Our swing voter is the voter to the non-voter, the non-voter to the voter.'” • If not this time, next time, and as long as they go back to non-voter status if their needs are ignored (“Nice little party you have here…”). More:
Members of the Justice Democrats have supported each other leading up to this year’s midterm elections. @Ocasio2018‘s rally efforts for Kansas Congressional candidate Brent Welder gave him 254 more volunteers and $110,000 in donations https://t.co/PsDEU4dijt by @realchriswilson pic.twitter.com/dUcCwIbZ8Z
— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) August 1, 2018
NY Governor: Dracula has risen from the grave:
Joe Crowley's first words at this presser with Cuomo: "I'm still here!" pic.twitter.com/PBDQtiKRCR
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) July 31, 2018
OH-12: “With GOP District in Jeopardy, Trump to Stump in Ohio Special Election” [Wall Street Journal]. “The Tuesday special election between Republican Troy Balderson and Democrat Danny O’Connor offers a preview of dozens of midterm races across the country: a reliably Republican district that harbors a supercharged Democratic base and a core of suburban voters who polls show are frustrated with the president’s leadership…. The district is emblematic of those Democrats seek to snatch from the GOP, which holds a 23-seat House majority. Republicans have represented the area since 1980 and outnumber Democrats about two-to-one in voter registration. It is the wealthiest district in the state, full of college-educated suburbanites like those who have fled the GOP in previous special elections. It includes Delaware County and parts of Franklin County, two of six Ohio counties where Mr. Trump underperformed 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.”
New Cold War
Yesterday’s Russia social media panic (thread):
1/ The Russian Troll Patrol has some interesting findings: https://t.co/lrJChF9EfF
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) July 31, 2018
And today’s: “From Russia with Love? Mystery Facebook account sent New York activist a bunch of roses” [CNN]. “A Facebook event promoting a demonstration advocating universal health care* that took place in New York City on July 17, 2017, was managed and promoted by 13 different Facebook pages. While most of the pages were seemingly legitimate activist groups, among them was a page called “Resisters,” one of the pages Facebook removed on Tuesday. What went on behind the scenes of the New York rally has all the hallmarks of tactics used by Kremlin-linked groups.” • Attribution is hard, but that aside, I don’t like the pattern I’m starting to see from 30,000 feet: The “intelligence community” (NSA, CIA, FBI) having veto power over Presidential legitimacy, the “intelligence community” getti involved in the legitimacy of voter rolls and vote counts (DHS), and now enormous media monopolies (Facebook) and whoever their techical experts are, determining the legitimacy of demostrations. Oh, and Democrats are encouraging, sometimes feverishly, all three trends. Good for “our democracy” or nah? Note also the qualifications throughout: “suspected,” “all the hallmarks of tactics,” and “suspects.” After Cointelpro? Really? If the powers that be want to set up every #MedicareForAll advocate as being a Russia stooge, they’re doing an excellent job. (Note the tactic of “sending an activist a megaphone.” If I were truly cynical and paranoid, I’d be reminded of FBI entrapment tactics: “Sure, I know where to find…) NOTE * Sic. The demostration was in support of #MedicareForAll, which is not equal to “universal health care.” Shoddy.
The Liberal Democrats Have Lost Their Minds
On January 20, 2017, Evil entered The Shire:
America is fighting for its life. DT has injected US with the toxins of racism, misogyny, xenophobia & lies. He is obstructing justice & conspiring with an enemy to destroy Democracy. Patriots will not let America die. VOTE!!!
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) August 2, 2018
Always on message:
Every single day, I find myself asking: what do the Russians have on @realDonaldTrump personally, financially, & politically? The answer to that question is that only thing that explains his behavior & his refusal to stand up to Putin. #ABetterDeal
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) July 16, 2018
Combining Chuck Schumer’s almost forgotten economic message, “A Better Deal,” with RussiaRussiaRussia? Really? How’s that working out?
Wow. This graph. From @kuhmo MShularick and USteins; data is new historical SCF series.
Suggests why so many Americans don't feel recovery is complete despite lots of progress in other areas.
— Abigail Wozniak (@AbigailWozniak) August 1, 2018
Helps to understand why Democrats, the party of the 9.9%, see no reason to change. And why volatility voters do.
Universal concrete material benefits, especially for the working class:
When elites on the right and the center left unite to tell you that working class whites and working class blacks could never agree on policy, consider whose interests they're promoting. https://t.co/3AzSqiEeqX
— Briahna "Working Class Has No Color" Gray (@briebriejoy) August 1, 2018
I’m basically a “so the last shall be first” (Matt 20:16) kinda guy, both in terms of a state that’s run “of, by, and for” the people, and in terms of Maslow’s Heirarchy: I think that that the base of Maslow’s pyramid — physiological and safety needs — are morally and politically should be more important than the self-actualization needs at the tip of the pyramid. I also believe that self-actualization through labor is more important and self-actualization through identity, and indeed the former drives the latter, although the causalities are complex.
Wow, Netroots Nation. Remember when we all had hopes it would be effective at anything? Fresh off their Clinton endorsement:
— Indivisible Guide (@IndivisibleTeam) August 2, 2018
“Democratic Socialism Is About Democracy” [Jacobin]. “[D]emocratic socialists have something more far-reaching in mind. To us, democracy is not simply a banal amalgamation of procedures, an uncontroversial set of norms and rules that everyone can get behind. It is the quite radical idea that ordinary people — not experts, not elites, not their “betters” — can rule themselves. It is the word we use to describe the flattening of steep hierarchies, the shattering of structures that confer undue wealth and power and privilege….. The radical reforms we advocate are all intended to increase the amount and degree of decisions, relationships, and structures in society that operate according to democratic principles. Capital’s control over investment gives it too much say over the direction of the political economy; we should socialize key industries and foster worker cooperatives.”
More crazy talk:
If they didn't already exist, bright red trucks full of 1,134,400 unionized, pensioned public workers putting out fires for free would strike people as the most outlandish radical leftist idea.
— Rafael 🔥 (@rafaelshimunov) July 30, 2018
Factory Orders, June 2018: “Factory orders for June rose [sharply but miss Econoday’s consensus… in a report that does include some slowing. [Econoday]. Core capital goods (nondefense ex-aircraft) were revised down. … Today’s strong headline aside, June wasn’t that great of a month for the factory sector which perhaps was held down to a degree by tariff-related disruptions. Year-on-year growth in orders is very positive… Nevertheless, indications including strong readings in regional and private manufacturing reports point to second-half acceleration for the sector and second-half leadership for the 2018 economy.”
Jobless Claims, week of July 28, 2018: “Convincing strength for tomorrow’s employment report is the indication from jobless claims data” [Econoday].
Challenger Job-Cut Report, July 2018: “A very low number of layoff announcements underscores how strong demand for labor is” [Econoday].
Finance: “Hedge Fund’s Humans Are Kicking Some Algo Behind” [Bloomberg]. • Yeah, but maybe the algos are just having a bad year.
“Uber Is Calling New Yorkers And Pushing Them To Say “I Support Uber” In Group Calls With Local Council Members” [Buzzfeed]. • Hmm. I wonder how they got the names to call.
Tech: “The Little Ion Engine That Could” [Bloomberg]. “Accion Systems Inc. essentially makes one product, a device about the size of a deck of cards that’s designed to slowly and silently nudge satellites, spacecraft, and other galactic ephemera through the blackness. Technically, the Tile—an acronym for tiled ionic liquid electrospray—is an ion engine, which is to say it runs on a stream of charged particles, much like a battery. Stick enough of them onto a giant craft, and you can putter out to Mars.” • This is interesting (and hopefully the charismatic (female) entrepreneurial founder isn’t another Elizabeth Holmes. She doesn’t seem like it…).
“Trump administration to allow renewable, short-term insurance” [Modern Healthcare]. “The Trump administration will finalize a rule on Wednesday that expands access to health insurance policies that skirt many of the Affordable Care Act’s regulations. The rule would allow people to buy short-term, limited-duration health coverage that lasts up to 12 months and renew that coverage for a maximum of 36 months. Insurers can deny short-term coverage to people who have pre-existing conditions…. But after the administration issued the proposed rule to expand short-term, limited-duration insurance back in February, many insurers, provider groups and consumer advocates said plans could harm consumers who don’t understand the limitations of the coverage they are buying. Critics also argued that premiums in the individual market would rise as young, healthy people leave exchanges that need those young people to balance out the risk pool.” • It would be helpful if, in the context of health care policy, the concept of “consumer advocacy” were contextualized. The real problem is “buying,” not “understand the limitations of the coverage they are buying.”* The whole concept of “consumer” should be stuffed back in its neoliberal box, and health care “free at the point of delivery” under Medicare for All should become the focus. NOTE * This is also the issue with “consumer protection” (Elizabeth Warren’s focus) generally.
Police State Watch
“Entire police department resigns at once, saying town ‘seemingly cares so little about us'” [ABC]. Blandford, Mass. • Presenting the possibility of an interesting natural experiment…
If you’re thinking about building your soil:
— Daniel Kinka (@DanielKinka) July 29, 2018
“Petrichor: why does rain smell so good?” [BBC]. “Bacteria, plants and even lightning can all play a role in the pleasant smell we experience after a thunderstorm; that of clean air and wet earth. Known as petrichor, the scent has long been chased by scientists and even perfumers for its enduring appeal.” • Our new word for the day, from petr(o)- + ichor.
“Find shows 4,000-year-old trade routes stretched from Carolinas to Great Lakes” [Ars Technica]. “Widespread trade networks once linked communities in northeastern US with those around the Great Lakes and the Ohio River Valley and extended south to the Tennessee River Valley…. ‘Other social practices also travelled along trade routes,’ wrote Binghamton University archaeologist Matthew Sanger and his colleagues. One of those was the practice of cremating the dead, which shows up, along with copper grave goods, at sites from the Great Lakes to Tennessee. That implies, to some extent, that people spread across hundreds of miles had come to share some common beliefs about proper treatment of the dead—and probably other aspects of life, too.”
“Historical collections reveal patterns of diffusion of sweet potato in Oceania obscured by modern plant movements and recombination” [PNAS]. “Our results provide strong support for prehistoric transfer(s) of sweet potato from South America (Peru-Ecuador region) into Polynesia. Our results also document a temporal shift in the pattern of distribution of genetic variation in sweet potato in Oceania. Later reintroductions, accompanied by recombination between distinct sweet potato gene pools, have reshuffled the crop’s initial genetic base, obscuring primary patterns of diffusion and, at the same time, giving rise to an impressive number of local variants….. Multidisciplinary approaches, thus, appear necessary for accurate reconstruction of the intertwined histories of plants and humans.”
“Environmentalists by Necessity” [Citylab]. “Infant mortality is a devastating problem in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, where Braddock is located—between 2008 and 2012, white infants had average infant mortality rate of 4.75 deaths for every 1,000 live births, while the rate for black infants was 13.73. It’s an issue that perplexes public health researchers and reproductive rights advocates like Rawls. One suspected cause is the mill that sits directly behind her office, the Edgar Thomson Steel Works, which has been active since Andrew Carnegie opened it in 1872, and is now owned by U.S. Steel. It’s a major reason why Braddock sits below some of the most polluted air in America, and possibly explains the area’s high rates of sickness.” • Oddly, or not, there’s no moral panic about these babies.
“The band of biologists who redrew the tree of life” [Nature]. “At the molecular level, life’s history is more accurately depicted as a network, a tangled web through which organisms have been exchanging genes for more than 3 billion years. This perspective is indeed radical…” • As usual — think gossip and back-channels in org charts — what is presented as a tree is in reality a graph.
Our Famously Free Press
“Where Profits Come From” (PDF) [The Jerome Levy Forecasting Center]. • I don’t think The Bearded One would agree, but I could be wrong. Note that “Jerome Levy” is not the Levy Institute, although the paper does seem to take an MMT-inflected approach. Readers?
“An Amazon staffer is posting YouTube videos of herself living in a warehouse parking lot after an accident at work” [Business Insider]. • Horrible stuff, although to be fair, Vickie Shannon Allen is financing Jeff Bezos’ escape from The Jackpot to Mars. So there’s that. Key point: “[ALLEN: ‘They offered me a buyout, only for $3,500, which meant I would have to sign a nondisclosure agreement to not say anything derogatory about Amazon or my experience,’ she said.” • Hmm. I wonder how many former Amazon workers have been forced by circumstances to sign NDAs, and what the NDA looks like. Maybe some kind and fully anonymized soul will throw one over the transom….
“Online labor markets may look competitive. They aren’t” [WaPo] (original). NBER researcher Suresh Naidu: “Mechanical Turk (which is often abbreviated as MTurk) is a very popular crowdsourcing platform. It’s a website where requesters can post tasks and workers can do those tasks for pay…. At first glance, MTurk looks like the archetypical competitive market; after all, here is a market with no legal barriers to entry, many employers and none of the noncompete or no-poaching agreements that have become increasingly common in the regular economy…. Turkers don’t respond very much to increased pay — a 10 percent increase in the wage actually increases the number of Turkers by only 1.4 percent. This implies a considerable degree of market power, and we have evidence that “requesters” (the people who hire Turkers) are using this power…. Monopsony power may arise because of employer concentration on the platform, because of search frictions that make it harder for Turkers to locate higher-paying tasks, or because of idiosyncratic preferences over task characteristics that make the market less competitive. Research has shown that all three of these reasons are at play in MTurk.” WaPo summarizes: ” highly important online labor market is characterized by power relations so that workers lose out, and the people and organizations who hire them enjoy market power.” • This is a must-read.
“Solving The ‘Wage Puzzle’: Why Aren’t Paychecks Growing?” [NPR]. “Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has called this a puzzle that defies a single or easy explanation.” • Phases of the moon? Sunspots? A disturbance in the force?
“Tenants in Southeast Portland Launch a Rent Strike, Hoping to Stay in Their Gentrifying Apartment Complex” [Willamette Week]. “Five months ago, the landlord at a Southeast Portland apartment complex deployed an extraordinary tactic to try to dislodge low-income renters: offering them cash to leave. Now the tenants who remain have voted to use a radical strategy to fight back: a rent strike, when they withhold monthly payments until the landlord meets their demands.”
“White, and in the minority” [Terrence McCoy, WaPo]. • This article has elicited an intense response. This tweet is typical:
I have no idea what would possess you to publish this. Chicken processing plants are hellholes where the majority-immigrant workforce are treated worse than animals. The crisis of hurt white feelings in that environment does not seem urgent. https://t.co/mVZ2dqCkQu
— Sam Thielman (@samthielman) July 31, 2018
However, I think the key paragraph is all the way at the end:
It was seven minutes until her shift began, and with nothing better to do, and no one to talk to, she went to the clock-in station, where she watched the woman with a black ponytail coming down the hallway, hugging people as she went.
This time, however, when she reached Heaven, the woman stopped. Heaven stayed motionless, unsure. Without a trace of caution, the woman embraced her, saying something Heaven didn’t understand. Then an older woman kissed her cheek. Then the women crowding around Heaven began to laugh, and, as the final minutes went by, she started laughing, too.
The story isn’t about “hurt feelings” at all. NOTE * An obvious class marker.
This is an enormous country (1). Excellent thread:
Democrats don’t have black votes in the bag. And they’re deluded if they think so.
Statements like this conflate the varying priorities of people of color, and for the purpose of this thread, black people specifically.
*a longass thread* 👇🏾 https://t.co/Lr3US6amMZ
— Miss Jabali (@MalaikaJabali) July 31, 2018
This is an enormous country (2). Another excellent thread:
It's officially angry Yooper twitter evening. Fuck the capitalists, the corporations, the developments, the warmongers, the imperialists, the racists, the exploiters, the extractors, and the coastals, who don't understand what the rural Great Lakes are even like.
— Upper Peninsula DSA (@YooperDSA) August 1, 2018
The moral of these two tweets being: All the criticis of McCoy’s story on “Heaven” ignore or erase the hug at the end. But that’s the moral of the story.
“Exposing the American Okie-Doke: Russiagate, Corporate Propaganda, and the Historical Obstruction of Class Consciousness” [Hampton Institute]. “If you still believe your 5th-grade textbook and think you have a say in determining public policy in the US, you are furious right now. Because you believe democracy exists and that it was hijacked by a foreign government. However, if you realize democracy (or a republic) does not exist, the Russia/Trump revelations mean only one thing: the traded commodity known as the US government has gone global, following all of the other capitalist markets that have been globalized over the past 40 years.” • Needless to say, these are not the New York Hamptons….
“Five months after strike, West Virginia teachers say ‘nothing has changed'” [WSWS]. “[T]he [West Virginia teachers’] strike was summarily ended by the bureaucracy March 6 at the point that public support was snowballing, other states were poised to strike and communication workers were walking out. The stab-in-the-back was accomplished under the direct supervision of American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, National Education Association President Lily Garcia and an army of union functionaries who descended on Charleston to smother the strike. Teachers were told to ‘Remember in November,’ in other words turn out the vote for the Democrats.” • Gad.
“To understand Cuba’s emerging class system, try the ice cream” [Quartz]. “growing divide between poor and rich Cubans. While bland scoops of the state-made fare remain the only option for most, there’s a growing array of choices for those who can afford more, from cafeteria-bought pints to fancy gelati. We sampled all of them—and got a taste of Cuba’s rapidly melting dream of an egalitarian society.,, For the hapless bottom 80%—subsisting on meager government salaries of about $30 per month—the best place to get ice cream in Havana is Coppelia… For the hapless bottom 80%—subsisting on meager government salaries of about $30 per month—the best place to get ice cream in Havana is Coppelia.” • Well worth a read.
News of The Wired
“The Dos and Dont’s of Supporting Your Local Library” [Literary Hub]. • Don’t change the call numbers, or write grammar corrections in the margins!
“Your Secrets Are Safe: How Browsers’ Explanations Impact Misconceptions About Private Browsing Mode” (PDF) [Yuxi Wu, Panya Gupta, Miranda Wei, Yasemin Acar, Sascha Fahl, Blase Ur, International World Wide Web Consortium]. “[B]rowsers’ disclosures fail to correct the majority of the misconceptions we tested. These misconceptions included beliefs that private browsing mode would prevent geolocation, advertisements, viruses, and tracking by both the websites visited and the network provider. Furthermore, participants who saw certain disclosures were more likely to have misconceptions about private browsing’s impact on targeted advertising, the persistence of lists of downloaded files, and tracking by ISPs, employers, and governments.”
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If you believe that spirits live in trees….
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