By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, here’s a skeletal Water Cooler to get you going. My plan is to finish up my post on Elizabeth Warren’s co-determination proposal, and then circle back with more, later. Tomorrow, same. –Lambert UPDATE 6:02PM All done. Late even for California, I know!
“How Tariff-Proof Is Your Supply Chain Strategy?” [Industry Week]. ” An escalation in trade conflicts could also lead to more processed and therefore value-add products included in the retaliations and escalations. And as manufacturers pass the cost increases to customers, they risk losing market share. Take a textbook example of the duopoly between Boeing and Airbus. If Boeing increases customer pricing given an increase in raw material costs, then it will certainly lose business to its European competitor. Boeing, in this scenario, can use alternate materials like composites and carbon fibers, which is the case in the latest aircraft, along with cost rationalization through productivity improvements. The result: optimizing logical costs and earning somewhat lower margins—and eventually earning more through maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) contracts, which run for 10-15 years.”
“This late August week will be full of trade action, starting with today’s kickoff of a marathon-like series of hearings on the China trade front. The hearings will feature testimony on products that should or should not be included in a list of $200 billion in Chinese imports that the Trump administration intends to tax in its next round of tariffs against Beijing” [Politico]. “As the hearings unfold, a Chinese delegation will visit Washington at midweek in an attempt to rekindle talks geared toward heading off the brewing trade war. On Thursday, U.S. tariffs on another $16 billion in Chinese goods will take effect, with Chinese duties set to be imposed in response. European trade officials will be in Washington today to continue laying the groundwork for bilateral trade talks, and more NAFTA meetings with Mexico are also on the docket.” • Lots of golf in the offing, no doubt.
“Chelsea Clinton says she has not ruled out running for office” [Guardian]. “For me it’s a definite no now but it’s a definite maybe in the future because who knows what the future is going to bring?”
AOC visits The Great State of Maine:
Back home after a lovely few days off enjoying US examples of Democratic Socialism, like:
– Acadia National Park
– Café Co-ops (Def Top 5 best breakfast sandwiches I’ve ever had ?)
– Supporting worker-owned businesses
– Bonus: Spotted a @PPact helping people, per usual✌?? pic.twitter.com/xmiYXutfpS
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) August 19, 2018
AOC making adjustments, in public, in near-real time:
Catching up on how this became a thing while I was gone.
Biggest critique is it should‘ve been labeled “private,” even though we’d said prior it was closed to press.
Genuine Q?: how should we label a free campaign event, open to all, that’s a sanctuary space? Still private? https://t.co/0TO7qOk09h
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) August 19, 2018
(Regarding the flap about barring the press from meeting, where the attendees weren’t from the donor class.)
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“Why Even a Blue Wave Could Have Limited Gains” [David Wasserman, New York Times]. “Of the 64 most competitive House races, only 14 are in states with highly competitive Senate races. These are two truly different universes: The median competitive Senate seat gave Mr. Trump 56 percent in 2016, has a population density of 88 people per square mile and falls below the national average in educational attainment and income. But the median competitive House district gave Mr. Trump 49 percent of the vote, has a population density of 407 people per square mile and ranks above the national average in college graduates and income.” • If only there were a candidate whose platform and persona appealed in both rural and urban areas….
“Could soccer moms swing the House? Democrats hope so.” [Yahoo News]. “Remember the “soccer moms”? That 1990s term for politically moderate suburban women has fallen out of usage lately, but they’re still around, and a key voting bloc in the upcoming midterms. Frustrated with Washington and turned off by President Trump, they could deliver Congress to the Democrats in November. Or not…. Republicans would have to lose more than just suburban seats to surrender control of the House, and Democrats have deployed candidates to urban/rural districts and rural districts that voted heavily for Trump. FiveThirtyEight, an analytic data site, said Democrats have a 75 percent chance of winning the House.”
“A Poll of Polls: What Do Americans Trust?” [Morning Consult]. “Democrats were more likely to trust the accuracy of the polls than Republicans, 49 percent to 43 percent.” • So if the polls say Republicans are in trouble, Republicans won’t listen?
TX Senate: “Beto O’Rourke Could Be The Democrat Texas Has Been Waiting For” [Buzzfeed News]. The lead: “Beto O’Rourke is a prolific, prodigious sweater. We’re talking shirt-soaking, chin-dripping sweat, most visible as he takes questions from the audiences that have gathered to see him across Texas. When I first saw pictures of O’Rourke, the El Paso congressman currently vying for Ted Cruz’s Senate seat, soaking through his blue dress shirt at the Houston Juneteenth Parade, I thought: This is the most Texas thing I’ve ever seen.” • I wouldn’t care if Beto’d had his sweat glands surgically removed if he supported #MedicareForAll. But he doesn’t.
VT-01: “Interview with Levi Sanders: On Running for Congress and More” [Progressive Army]. “[SANDERS:] Every day I work with low-income working class folks who are getting cheated and left behind by the system. It is time to fight back…. The problem is, the people I talk to, they don’t always understand how it affects them at a profound level. The real issue is to show people how it affects their lives on a daily basis, and how we can make things better in a tangible way.”
“Judge asked to block Obama Center-related construction in Jackson Park” [Chicago Sun-Times (ChiGal)]. “A federal judge is being asked to temporarily block construction related to the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park by park preservationists going to court in the wake of a Chicago Sun-Times report revealing that trees were cut down at the park despite a lack of final government approvals.”
New Cold War
“Manafort conviction will add little firepower to Mueller investigation” [Jonathan Turley, The Hill]. “The defense was a hung jury strategy combined with a rather obvious pardon strategy. Manafort’s best hope is that a few jurors will harbor doubts. All he needs is one holdout when the government must secure a unanimous verdict. That would mean he could be tried again, but a none decision can be the best decision when you are not seriously attacking the evidence. Of course, the problem is that it is easy for a defendant to hang by his own hung jury strategy. A jury can deadlock on some but not all counts, leaving Manafort bearing a decade of potential imprisonment.”
“Manafort trial Day 15: Jury meets for third day as Trump-fueled political cacophony grows” [Politico]. “Legal experts said it was far from shocking that the jury, which heard testimony from 27 witnesses and has been handed nearly 400 exhibits, is still mulling its verdicts after two days.” Importantly: “One of the jurors’ questions Thursday afternoon could signal that the deliberations could be a long haul. One or more jurors sought an index of all the exhibits in the case, cross-referenced to all the criminal counts. No such document is known to exist. Preparing one would be a daunting task and involve many subjective judgments, so Ellis turned the request down. If members of the jury want to make such an index themselves, it could take days.” • So, while generally a long deliberation is good for the defense, that may not be true in this case; the jury could be slogging through the documents. On the other hand, IIRC, the prosecution didn’t give the jury a painstaking road-map to the documents, so there are plenty of opportunties for things to go, from their perspective, wrong. I wonder if the jury will request sticky notes and highlighter?
“Manafort Jury Wrestling With Tough Choices Before a Verdict” [Bloomberg]. “Ellis instructed jurors to ‘ignore any argument about the Department of Justice’s motives or lack thereof in bringing this prosecution.'” • Doesn’t mean they will, though.
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Even James Fallows sees that liberal Democrat yammering about furriners and outside agitators is bullshit:
During 1976 Carter campaign, I was in cubicle in Atlanta next to then-foreign-policy-staffer R Holbrooke.
Overheard him getting phone call w tip from foreign source about our opponent, then-Prez Gerald Ford.
RH said, “We’ve got to report this,” went to Zbig Brz to do so. https://t.co/ywRv0Lr3H5
— James Fallows (@JamesFallows) August 19, 2018
One of “the twelve”:
This speaks volumes. A broad array of former officers, some recently retired, some gone for years, from all around the Agency, still speaking truth to power. https://t.co/HHSCWejdsQ
— David S. Cohen (@cohendavid) August 17, 2018
“Speaking truth to power.” JFC. Help me.
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riddle me this: @nytimes is holding a conference in NOLA titled "cities for tomorrow" in order to "assess key challenges facing cities today and define the winning formulas" aaaaaand thought Michael Hayden, former CIA and NSA director, would be a fitting candidate to speak
— Annalise Burkhart (@AnnaBurkhart) August 17, 2018
If I were the cynical sort, I’d think this was a reach-around to an anonymous source for services rendered.
The Conservatives Have Lost Their Minds
#Resistance Hero John McCain:
— #MarchForTruth (@MarchForTruth17) August 16, 2018
Oh, come on.
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Pope on sex abuse: We showed no care for the little ones” [Associated Press]. Cf. “We tortured some folks.” More: “[Pope Francis] demanded accountability but offered no indication of how he plans to sanction complicit bishops or end the Vatican’s long-standing culture of secrecy.” • Pope Francis is treating the bishops like President Obama treated the bankers.
“data for dunking #1: Elizabeth Warren =/= Stalin” [Data For Progress]. “As it happens, conservative think tank Heritage Foundation includes an index of economic freedom (it’s kinda silly, but it’s their index), which can be used to test this claim. Their index, available here, ranks countries by ease of starting a business and other measures. When we compare the codetermination index to the economic freedom index, the trend is completely flat.” • Hilarity ensues. On all sides!
Just so we’re clear:
— Indivisible Guide (@IndivisibleTeam) August 18, 2018
But on the other hand–
“Resources for Strategic Thinking: Mapping the Resistance and The U.S. Six-Party System” [Organizing Upgrade]. “Motivating the effort is [Carl] Davidson’s argument that ‘the traditional ‘two-party system’ frame obscures more than it reveals’ about the actual political and economic forces shaping current battles and events. He writes that ‘U.S. major parties, in general, are not ideological parties in the European sense, but constantly changing coalitions of [factional or interest-group] clusters with no firm commitment to program or discipline.’ Uncovering the nature, interests and relative strength of these groupings (whether called clusters, parties, factions or some other term) – and drawing out the strategic implications for the left – is the purpose of influence.” • “Cluster” does seem like the right word…
There are no stats of interest today.
Retail: “Amazon Isn’t Paying Its Electric Bills. You Might Be” [Bloomberg]. “Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing business, is its fastest-growing and most [only?] profitable division, but it comes with a lot of upfront infrastructure costs and ongoing expenses, the biggest of which is electricity… In at least two states, it’s also negotiated with utilities and politicians to stick other people with the bills, piling untold millions of dollars on top of the estimated $1.2 billion in state and municipal tax incentives the company has received over the past decade. Other companies, including Google and Tesla Inc., have taken advantage of the power industry’s hunger for growth and the relative secrecy that followed its 1990s deregulation in dozens of states. But Amazon stands out for its success in offloading its power costs and also because it dominates America’s cloud business, which has gone from nonexistent to using 2 percent of U.S. electricity in about a decade.” • I think we need to stuff Jeff Bezos into a rocket ship and fire him off to Mars as fast as we possibly can.
Shipping: “The top five trucking markets represent 18% of all U.S. domestic volume” [Freight Waves]. “Top five trucking freight markets currently represent 18% of the entire load volume of U.S. domestic freight. This according to a new SONAR market-share index released on Friday. The entire U.S. domestic freight volume is divided up among 135 total markets. The top five markets currently are: Atlanta: 4.48%; Ontario, CA (just outside of Los Angeles): 4.12%; Joliet, IL (just outside of Chicago): 3.46%; Harrisburg, PA: 3.10%; Dallas, TX: 2.83%.”
The Bezzle: “Some Tesla Suppliers Fret About Getting Paid” [Wall Street Journal]. “Several suppliers in interviews said Tesla has tried to stretch out payments or asked for significant cash back. And in some cases, public records show, small suppliers over the past several months have claimed they failed to get paid for services supplied to Tesla…. ‘We’re not behind because we can’t pay them,’ Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said in an interview Friday. ‘It is just because we’re arguing whether the parts are right.'” • And I’m supposed to be reassured by this?
The Bezzle: “The Musk meltdown” [The Week]. “It is beyond obvious that Musk has been so coddled for so long that he simply cannot conceive of the idea that the rules might apply to him — a characteristic he shares with most of his fellow billionaire CEOs. Perhaps throwing the book at him — as happened to Martha Stewart for a far, far smaller crime — might make an instructive example for the capitalist class.”
“The Bezzle: “Wish, an Internet Dollar Store, Struggles to Keep Customers” [The Information]. “Private investors have put a lot of faith in Wish becoming the online version of dollar stores, betting on huge growth for the ecommerce site and rewarding it with a valuation of about $8.5 billion…. On average, only 8% of people in the U.S. who bought something from Wish for the first time between August 2016 and the end of July 2017 were still shopping on the site a year after their earlier purchases. And the figure continues to decline after that, previously unreported data from the credit card transaction tracker Second Measure show.” • I guffawed, because whoever heard of an Internet Dollar Store?! Turns out there is one, and it looks a lot like the legendary Mardens of Maine, which is what a dollar store should look like. The Wish experience, by contrast, looks horrid: You’ve got to log in before you can browse! Who thought that was a good idea?
The Bezzle:”Uber’s Vision of Self-Driving Cars Begins to Blur” [New York Times]. “The issue of whether to retain or sell [the Advanced Technology Group] is complicated by Uber’s stated intention to go public by the end of 2019. The company, valued at $62 billion, has racked up billions of dollars in losses since it was founded in 2009 and needs to persuade investors that it can eventually create a sustainably profitable business. The self-driving efforts, which have been losing $100 million to $200 million a quarter, do little to help that case. And Mr. Khosrowshahi has been shedding money-losing businesses since he joined Uber.” • Well, except for the core business. Hard to “shed” that.
Infrastructure: “Pennsylvania to spend $64 billion in 12-year transport improvement plan” [DC Velocity]. “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will spend nearly $64 billion over the next 12 years to improve its transportation infrastructure, under an updated plan disclosed yesterday by the State Transportation Commission. The updated program, which takes effect October 1, anticipates $11.53 billion being available for highway and bridge projects in the first four years, $228 million for freight rail projects, and $319 million for multimodal projects, among other spending. From 2023 through 2026, the plan calls for $348 million for multimodal and $229 million for freight rail. From 2027 to 2030, $391 million would be earmarked for multimodal and $229 million for freight rail…. The projects depend on the availability of funding, which the commonwealth’s transportation officials anticipate would come from a combination of federal, state and local dollars.”
Tech: “Gatwick flight information screens fail” [BBC]. “Staff at Gatwick Airport had to write flight information on whiteboards for most of the day due to a technical problem with its digital screens…. Apologising to customers, [a Gatwick spokesman] added that the airport’s ‘manual contingency plan’, which included having extra staff on hand to help direct passengers, had worked well.” • Makes you wonder how many other “manual contingency plans” there are. My guess would be: “Not enough.”
Tech: “Smallest transistor switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte” [Science Daily (KW)]. Works at room temperature. Science is popping!
Rapture Index: Closes down 1 on Gog. “Russia has been generally quiet on the world stage” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 180.
Our Famously Free Press
“SEO Is Back. Thank God.” [New York Magazine]. “For better or worse, SEO forced publishers to focus on providing their readers with relevant information. Social optimization for platforms like Facebook forced publishers to make their content evocative, incendiary, and interactive. Social content wasn’t about transmitting information as much as it was about helping people perform their identities online. It put a premium on heavy-handedness and polarization. It didn’t just need to say something, it needed to help the sharer say something too. And it was difficult for any publisher — major publication or one-man blog — to resist, given how much traffic the Facebook system brought to others. Now, by Facebook’s own account, the valve to the firehose has been closed. Great. Use it to build brand awareness or whatever, but otherwise, it’s time to recalibrate and leave the reliance on Facebook as a traffic source behind.” • If your business depends on a platform…
“Beer, Drinking Water And Fish: Tiny Plastic Is Everywhere” [NPR]. “Since modern plastic was first mass-produced, 8 billion tons have been manufactured. And when it’s thrown away, it doesn’t just disappear. Much of it crumbles into small pieces. Scientists call the tiny pieces “microplastics” and define them as objects smaller than 5 millimeters — about the size of one of the letters on a computer keyboard. Researchers started to pay serious attention to microplastics in the environment about 15 years ago. They’re in oceans, rivers and lakes. They’re also in soil. Recent research in Germany found that fertilizer made from composted household waste contains microplastics. And, even more concerning, microplastics are in drinking water. In beer. In sea salt. In fish and shellfish.” • Presumably, at some point something will evolve to eat the plastic. We might not like that, though…
“A Record Number of Americans Died Last Year from Drug Overdoses” [GritPost]. “Overdose-related deaths went up in all but ten states last year, including Hawaii, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming. In some cases, it increased by as much as 20 percent or more in states like Indiana, Maine, New Jersey (which saw 27 percent more overdose-related deaths last year compared to 2016), and West Virginia.”
“It’s Not Technology That’s Disrupting Our Jobs” [Louis Hyman, New York Times]. “The history of labor shows that technology does not usually drive social change. On the contrary, social change is typically driven by decisions we make about how to organize our world. Only later does technology swoop in, accelerating and consolidating those changes…. But for the vast majority of workers, the “freedom” of the gig economy is just the freedom to be afraid. It is the severing of obligations between businesses and employees. It is the collapse of the protections that the people of the United States, in our laws and our customs, once fought hard to enshrine. We can’t turn back the clock, but neither is job insecurity inevitable. Just as the postwar period managed to make industrialization benefit industrial workers, we need to create new norms, institutions and policies that make digitization benefit today’s workers. ”
“Employees Likely to Leave Job if They See Compliance Violations” [Industry Week]. “Employees do not like to see compliance violations. In fact, if they witness two of these occurrences they are likely to start looking for a new job…. Fifty-nine percent of the sampled employees who observed a compliance violation were actively looking for a new job, compared with 29% who did not witness bad behavior.”
News of The Wired
“Female mice are protected from space radiation-induced maladaptive responses” [Science Direct]. • Sure, a mouse study. But if it holds up for humans, Elon’s not gonna like that. Or Jeff.
“1968 Created The ‘Ultimate’ Anti-Sport Sport” [NPR]. A history of Ultimate Frisbee. This is amazing: “But in some ways, Ultimate is not like other team sports. The game has a kind of honor system called the “spirit of the game.” And you can trace that the way back to the counterculture of 1968, when the players started out .” • One might wonder if the principal can be extended, and, if so, how far.
“America’s Invisible Pot Addicts” [The Atlantic]. “But cannabis is not benign, even if it is relatively benign, compared with alcohol, opiates, and cigarettes, among other substances. Thousands of Americans are finding their own use problematic in a climate where pot products are getting more potent, more socially acceptable to use, and yet easier to come by, not that it was particularly hard before.” • I wonder of outlawing cannabis had the paradoxical effect of increasing potency?
“Apple Inc. will release a new low-cost laptop and a professional-focused upgrade to the Mac mini desktop later this year, ending a drought of Mac computers that has limited sales of the company’s longest-running line of devices, according to people familiar with the plans.” [Bloomberg]. They hate me. They really hate me. Where’s the upgrade to the Pro laptop? Next year. Meanwhile, macOS Mojave will add “the ability to run iPad apps like Apple News.” No.
“‘Dumb phone’ sales up as users seek to escape smartphone addiction” [The Drum (KW)]. Ha. Yves and I are so retro, we’re futuristic!
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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 (Nippersmom):
Nippersmom writes: “The swallowtails have discovered the Joe Pye weed and do they ever love it!”
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