By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Readers, another running-errands debacle means I got a late start; more in a bit. –lambert
“Bombshell leak to Toronto Star upends NAFTA talks: In secret ‘so insulting’ remarks, Trump says he isn’t compromising at all with Canada” [Toronto Star]. “High-stakes trade negotiations between Canada and the U.S. were dramatically upended on Friday morning by inflammatory secret remarks from President Donald Trump, after the remarks were obtained by the Toronto Star. In remarks Trump wanted to be ‘off the record,’ Trump told Bloomberg News reporters on Thursday, according to a source, that he is not making any compromises at all in the talks with Canada — but that he cannot say this publicly because ‘it’s going to be so insulting they’re not going to be able to make a deal.'”
“Is there even such a thing as a ‘Made in America’ vehicle anymore?” [CBC]. By Betteridge’s Law, no. That’s the point! More: “One of the most popular vehicles in the United States is a perfect example of why it would be so hard and so destructive to impose tariffs on Canadian-made cars in the name of protecting American ones. The Toyota RAV4 — the bestselling non-truck in America — is made in Woodstock, Ont. In fact, 247,633 of them were made there last year. The process to build each one is an intricate dance of manufacturers and suppliers in multiple countries, with hundreds of trucks a day crossing borders back and forth between Canada, the United States and Mexico to deliver parts.” And more:
- The engines are shipped from West Virginia and Alabama.
- The transmissions are made by a supplier in North Carolina.
- The seats are built in Elmira in southwestern Ontario.
- But that supplier brings in wire harnesses from Mexico and metal brackets from Kentucky.
- The sunroof and door frames are made in Stratford, Ont., with parts coming from all over North America.
Sound sustainable. Assuming cars are sustainable, of course.
“Plenty to sort through regarding the future fate of NAFTA” [Logistics Management]. “In an interview, [Chris Rogers, research director for global trade intelligence firm Panjiva] said that the auto part being sorted is a huge positive while expressing caution about Canada. ‘Canada has to be brought into the tent and Trump does not have the authority under TPA (trade promotion authority) for a Mexico bilateral,’ he said. ‘However, if Canada does want a quick deal its main ‘give up’ needs to be in dairy, where it accounts for just 8% of American imports (milk powder and cheese are the keys). Canada and Mexico have to reconcile their NAFTA and CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) commitments to each other and autos is a huge part of their bilateral relationship.’ Rogers also noted that it’s not clear all the U.S.-Mexico controversies are sorted, as there’s no mention of energy.” • Quebec has 5,766 dairy farms, followed by Ontario, with 3,834.
The legislative calendar:
Trade sources on CapHill tell Fox there is almost no way the House/Senate could process a trade deal this year. Then the midterms hit in November. That changes the complete complexion of the Congress…and no one knows what the vote matrix would look like on trade in 2019.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) August 31, 2018
Maybe there ought to be fewer cellphones, and more dumb phones, too:
— World Economic Forum (@wef) August 30, 2018
And the article: “Trade wars won’t fix globalization. Here’s why” [Council on Foreign Relations“] “We asked policy experts and business leaders: how can countries really reap the economic and social benefits of [Global Value Chains (GVCs)], while avoiding inequality and environmental damage?” • Forty years too late… More: “Short-sighted, protectionist measures ignore and erode the opportunities that GVCs provide for driving inclusive and sustainable growth and do nothing to optimize outcomes.” • I read the thing, twice, and if there’s anything in this about the impact of “GVCs” on the United States working class, I didn’t see it. That’s not to say that the Administration’s policies will help them; just the the CFR and the “policy experts and business leaders” won’t either. Expect continued volatity (and plenty of heart-rending stories, around Xmas time, of how brutal tariff policies are denying toys to little children).
66 days until Election Day. 66 days is a long time in politics.
FL Governor: “How Andrew Gillum Can Replicate His Staggering Democratic Primary Win in November” [Slate]. “This clash with the NRA became central to Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign mythology, and for good reason: It seemed to prove that the candidate was no opportunistic newcomer to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Gillum’s strong, early stance on gun control proved particularly helpful in the primary: In light of the Parkland shooting and the Pulse massacre…. For most of the race, however, Gillum’s campaign was broke. He spent little money on TV as his opponents blanketed the airwaves with ads. He couldn’t afford direct mail or, at times, flyers. Instead, he used social media to encourage direct donations and spent his money on extensive statewide organizing…. ….. But there was no single reason for Gillum’s success in the primary. His ballyhooed surge late in the race was ultimately the result of a vigorous get-out-the-vote effort. In the end, his base simply came through for him: Lefty college students, racial minorities, teachers, union members, LGBTQ Floridians, and everybody else who was tired of moderate Democrats running and losing decided to bet on a true progressive candidate for a change.” • I’m willing to put Gillum on the left, because every one of those listed policies puts the working class first. Gillum’s campaign also looks a lot like a left playbook on policy and strategy, sorely needed. (Do note, however, that the vanity candidates may have taken votes from the loser, Graham.) Florida readers?
“The vanishing political center” [The Week]. “[T]he disappearance of establishment politicians could have severe consequences for national politics in coming years. The establishment on the left and right shared common ground and were willing to compromise when necessary. Often, voters hated them for it. And sometimes, their shared ‘common ground’ was rather cronyist. But when one considers the gridlock that has characterized Congress over the past several years, during both Barack Obama and Donald Trump’s presidencies, it’s obvious that this new center-depleted status quo will come with its own challenges. A populism of the hard right and the hard left, without some sort of establishment center, will likely foment growing anger and gridlock in days to come.”
“Why Google Doesn’t Rank Right-Wing Outlets Highly” [Alexis Madrigal, The Atlantic]. “Google says it is optimizing for relevant answers and high-quality content, not ‘political ideology.’ * But—and this is the part Google won’t say—what if relevance and quality are not equally distributed across the media? As a thought experiment, pick some markers of relevance (timeliness, impact, keyword density) and quality (originality, sourcing, depth). Now apply a ranking algorithm to the work of the mainstream media, which is to say the big networks, papers, and digital sites that abide by traditional journalistic values. Then apply the same standard to the conservative publications that PJ Media bemoaned the lack of. Of course the mainstream organizations—with larger staffs, generally better-trained journalists, and deeper roots in the field—would rank higher…. It would be great to have 10 Wall Street Journals out there doing the hard work of reporting on America. But that’s not what’s happening, and Google shouldn’t be forced to pretend that it is.” • NOTE * Which would explain why WSWS — and Naked Capitalism — got dinged when Goog’e’s algo changed.
New Cold War
“Why Mark Penn Is Sounding Trumpy” [Politico]. “”Maybe I’ll have egg on my face,” [Penn] says of Mueller’s Russia probe. ‘But if I’m looking at the scoreboard, I’d say he had some show indictments, [Trump has] never had any real connection here to any Russia collusion conspiracy as was advertised, the dossier was a sham document from the beginning, what the FBI and the Justice Department did was fundamentally biased. If this whole thing devolves into Cohen, it will prove the destructiveness of these investigations just as it did in 1998.'”
“Now We’re Talking – The Huffington Post” (interview with Glenn Greenwald) [HuffPo]. “Let’s dig into Russia. I think your concern here is about evidentiary standards, not doubting whether Moscow could, or would, do bad things. But I also think you’re arguing that, if the allegations are true, they’re still not as serious as people are making them out to be. So I want to ask about both. [GREENWALD:] “OK, first let me just express my happiness and gratitude to hear my views on this issue correctly described. It’s very rare. It’s like water in a desert. So let me just take a moment to express my happiness.” • Well worth a read. More: “[O]nce an indictment rises to a certain level of specificity, in order to dismiss it you would have to assume that Mueller and his team are literally fabricating information. I don’t think that’s likely.” • I think it’s entirely likely, sad to say; call me counter-suggestible, but a coherent narrative is evidence of nothing but narrative skills. The intelligence community has the means, the motive, and (with Mueller) the opportunity for fabrication. As I keep saying, what’s at stake is a change in the Constitutional order: Veto power by the intelligence community over Presidential selection. The stakes are enormous, and have been evident since November 2016. Hence, the evidentiary standard needs to be very, very high. CIA cutouts won’t cut it. CrowdStrike-handled servers won’t cut it. Digital evidence, in general, never cuts it. Focus on the enormous stakes, which are not evident down in the weeds!
“AP sources: Lawyer was told Russia had ‘Trump over a barrel'” [Associated Press]. “[The previously unreported details] add to the public understanding of those pivotal summer months as the FBI and intelligence community scrambled to untangle possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. And they reflect the concern of Steele, a longtime FBI informant whose Democratic-funded research into Trump ties to Russia was compiled into a dossier, that the Republican presidential candidate was possibly compromised and his urgent efforts to convey that anxiety to contacts at the FBI and Justice Department.” • See above.
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Democrats stripped my superdelegate superpowers. Now I’m a notch above a coin toss: Brazile” [USA Today]. “Last weekend, the DNC voted to essentially disenfranchise the “superdelegates” — the elected officials, activists and leaders who go to the Democratic convention as unpledged delegates, free to support whomever their conscience demands.” • Oh, bullshit. Superdelegates can vote in the primaries like anybody else. Where’s the disenfranchisement? And if they’re elected as delegates, they can vote like any other delegate, so ditto.
Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world. Many of his employees are so poor, you’re paying their welfare benefits. And he’s not the only tech billionaire offloading his payroll costs onto taxpayers. This is an indefensible scam. Why is only Bernie talking about it? pic.twitter.com/PdXBfQsHsq
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) August 31, 2018
“The vanishing political center” [The Week]. “[T]he disappearance of establishment politicians could have severe consequences for national politics in coming years. The establishment on the left and right shared common ground and were willing to compromise when necessary. Often, voters hated them for it. And sometimes, their shared “common ground” was rather cronyist. But when one considers the gridlock that has characterized Congress over the past several years, during both Barack Obama and Donald Trump’s presidencies, it’s obvious that this new center-depleted status quo will come with its own challenges. A populism of the hard right and the hard left, without some sort of establishment center, will likely foment growing anger and gridlock in days to come.”
“The Irish Times view on the papal visit fallout: now the church must act on abuse” [Irish Times]. ” In May 2001 Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) sent two letters to every Catholic bishop in the world, both in Latin. One advised that both be kept secret. The second, De delictis gravioribus (On serious crimes), instructed the bishop to send all clerical child sexual abuse allegations ‘with a semblance of truth’ to the Congregation and it would decide whether these be dealt with at diocesan or Vatican level. As then chancellor of Dublin’s archdiocese Msgr John Dolan later told the Murphy commission, this policy ‘was subsequently modified as ‘. Those documents remain at the Vatican. These documents detail what both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have described as crimes and should be available to legitimate State inquiries, internationally. That such co-operation in investigating crime centred on the protection of children has been resisted by the Vatican is, frankly, intolerable.”
“Catholics face a painful question: Is it true?” [Elizabeth Bruenig, WaPo]. • Bruenig knocks on McCarrick’s door. Creepiness ensues.
“The Weekend at Yale That Changed American Politics” [Politico]. • Excellent long read on the
birthorigin and maturationmetastasis of the Federalist Society.
Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, August 2018: “An unusually strong rate of growth eased a bit as expected” [Econoday]. “Hiring slowed as did pressures on input costs which nevertheless are near 11-year highs and which many respondents are blaming on trade disputes. In a special question, 60 percent of the sample reports passing higher costs to their customers…. [T]he month’s slowing is consistent with similar results seen in some of the other small-sample surveys and hints perhaps at a slower rate of growth for the August economy in general.” And: “The Chicago Business Barometer declined but remains firmly in positive territory” [Econintersect]. “The results of this survey continue to correlate to district Federal Reserve manufacturing surveys – and generallly aligns with the overall trend of the ISM manufacturing survey.”
Consumer Sentiment, August 2018 (Final): “Pressures for inflation expectations are the hidden headlines in today’s consumer sentiment report” [Econoday]. “This report is telling a different story than Tuesday’s consumer confidence data that showed sharp acceleration in part on optimism over jobs and income. Yet the consumer sentiment report is also showing such optimism which the text of the report is warning typically precedes a downturn for the economy. Regarding the rise in inflation expectations, the report attributes it less to tariff concerns and more to expectations for robust economic growth.” And: “Final August 2018 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Up Marginally From Preliminary” [Econintersect].
Shipping: “Mystery of the cargo ships that sink when their cargo suddenly liquefies” [The Conversation]. “Solid bulk cargoes – defined as granular materials loaded directly into a ship’s hold – can suddenly turn from a solid state into a liquid state, a process known as liquefaction.” “And this can be disastrous for any ship carrying them – and their crew. On average, ten ‘solid bulk cargo’ carriers have been lost at sea each year for the last decade.” • Sounds like The Death Ship…
Our Famously Free Press
“I Helped Create Insider Political Journalism. Now It’s Time For It To Go Away.” [BuzzFeed News]. “[T]he new political journalism has to be built for a moment of crisis, not stability, something that citizens of less happy democracies are more accustomed to.” • Well worth a read.
“From Platform to Publisher: Facebook, the Early American Open Press, and Alex Jones” [Early Americanists]. “As a printer, Franklin explained, he couldn’t pick sides in disputes over news or politics. ‘Printers are educated in the Belief, that when Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick,’ he wrote, ‘and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter.’ He would not make himself responsible for determining what was true and what was false…. These practices were common among colonial Anglo-American printers. Scholars call this model the “open press.”…. The American Revolution exposed the limitations of the idea of an ‘open press.’ After all,… [t]he material constraints of [the printers’s] medium ensured that they could only publish a fraction of the news that they received. As printers, they were constantly forced to decide what news was important enough to reprint, and what could be ignored….. While Mark Zuckerberg does not face the material challenges of eighteenth-century printers, limited by the physical space available on a sheet of paper, his social network trades on an even more scarce resource—our attentions. Its algorithms promote and demote certain news items, largely based on how they predict we will engage with that news. By making such choices, these “platforms” abandon any claims to neutrality.”
Another journalistic enterprise that fired its copy editors:
Modern journalism. pic.twitter.com/dnkDptFUhv
— You Had One Job (@_youhadonejob1) August 30, 2018
To be fair, I’ve sometimes had the urge to Undo in real life, not metaphorically, but literally.
“Checking in on That ‘Investigation’ Into Joy Reid’s Hacker” [Mediaite]. “It’s been more than three months since Joy Reid responded to anti-gay posts unearthed from her old blog by claiming that she was the victim of a nefarious hacker…. There is a plot line in this ordeal, however, that’s still ongoing: the FBI investigation! Surely by now, with the full force of one of America’s top law enforcement agencies on the case, Reid’s hacker would have been caught and brought to justice?” • Reid was, well, economical with the truth. Everything Is Like CalPERS.
Well done, Mark:
Hi @Facebook, you removed our post promoting the need for Holocaust Education for apparently violating community standards. You haven't given us a reason, yet allow Holocaust Denial pages to still exist. Seems a little hypocritical?(the post was the exact same as the tweet below) https://t.co/H4bYTdEQp3
— Anne Frank Center (@AnneFrankCenter) August 29, 2018
“Blackened buildings of Manchester before the Clean Air Act” (photos) [Manchester Evening News].
News of The Wired
“Little Languages” (PDF) [Jon Benteley, Programming Pearls] • Lovely, lovely writing.
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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 (TH):
TH writes: “Mr. Bombus Bumble Bee on our Butterfly Bush.’ I don’t know why they call them “bumble bees.” They don’t bumble, particularly.
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