By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Readers, as before, I got wrapped round the axle on Kavanaugh. I’ll have more in a bit. A kind reader said not to be apologetic, so I’m not! –lambert UPDATE 3:37PM All done!
“Nafta Isn’t Dead Yet, Despite Missed Deadline” [Wall Street Journal]. “President Trump has concluded that trade talks with Canada have reached an impasse, giving up on the self-imposed Sept. 30 deadline for completing a full rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement. As a result, the administration plans to publish as soon as Friday the draft of a Mexico-only deal that would replace the quarter-century-old trilateral bloc. Does that mean the imminent breakup of the continentwide free-trade zone? Probably not, according to people familiar with the process. A more likely result is some fudging of the deadline and procedures, and more talks with Ottawa over the coming weeks, and possibly months.”
“Elizabeth Warren Introduces Plan to Expand Affordable Housing and Dismantle Racist Zoning Practices” [The Intercept]. “THIS WEEK, SEN. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., introduced the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, one of the most far-reaching federal housing bills in decades. The legislation calls for a half-trillion dollar investment in affordable housing over the next 10 years, creating up to 3.2 million new units for low- and middle-income families. The bill also expands the protections of decades-old legislation to reduce discriminatory banking, ban housing discrimination, and desegregate neighborhoods. … Warren’s bill comes on the heels of two other federal housing bills introduced this summer by Democratic Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, of New Jersey and California, respectively. Harris’s bill, which came first, aims to provide financial relief to renters by creating a new refundable tax credit. Booker’s bill would also establish a refundable tax credit….” • Tax credits. Feh.
“Elizabeth Warren for president? New survey shows Mass. voters don’t love that idea” [Boston Globe]. “Fifty-eight percent of likely Massachusetts voters said they don’t think Warren should run for president, according to a Suffolk University Political Research Center/Boston Globe poll…. Only 32 percent of those surveyed said Warren should run. That’s about the same level of enthusiasm generated by former senator John Kerry. He got the support of 33 percent of voters — and, unlike Warren, he isn’t on anyone’s short list for strongest possible challengers to President Trump.” • Bain Capital’s Deval Patrick got 38.4%.
38 days until Election Day. 38 days is a long time in politics (as we are seeing right now with Kavanaugh).
A very important, nuanced thread, with lots of linky goodness:
I'm a sociologist who studies adolescent sexual violence. In this thread, I offer the basic facts everyone should know about sexual assault to make sense of the #Kavanaugh allegations. (And citations in case you want to read up yourself.)
— Nicole Bedera (@NBedera) September 26, 2018
Do read it all.
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“White House spokesman: Can’t say ‘for certain’ that we have the votes for Kavanaugh” [Politico]. “A handful of key senators, including Republicans Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Jeff Flake, as well as Democrat Joe Manchin, are being closely watched to see where they land on Kavanaugh. All four have yet to announce how they will vote on the Supreme Court nominee’s confirmation.” • Collins is meeting with four assault “survivors” at noon.
“Kavanaugh advances, with Flake calling for a delay in full Senate vote” [The Globe]. “After a flurry of last-minute negotiations, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination for the Supreme Court after agreeing to a late call from Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona for a one week investigation into sexual assault allegations against the high court nominee… However, it’s unclear if Republican leaders — or President Donald Trump — will support Flake’s call for the investigation or might instead press forward with a full Senate vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Trump indicated on Friday that he’d leave the decision for such a delay up to the Senate. Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump called Christine Blasey Ford’s Thursday testimony both ‘compelling’ and ‘credible.'” • A jack move? Certainly unexpected…
“Democrats Walk Out” [Wall Street Journal]. “As Chairman Grassley read a statement praising Judge Kavanaugh and explaining his decision not to call further witnesses, several Democrats walked out: Sens. Whitehouse, Blumenthal, Hirono and Harris. As Mr. Grassley continued his statement praising the judge and criticizing the Democrats’ approach to the nomination, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont walked out. Then the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, took a seat in the back of the room.” • Pointless.
“Angry and embittered, Kavanaugh casts nomination in partisan terms” [Yahoo News]. “Rebutting Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual assault, Kavanaugh cast himself as the victim, bitterly attacking the 10 Democrats seated before him. He called the initial hearings into his nomination an ’embarrassment,’ suggesting that he was the subject of ‘left-wing opposition groups.’ Sputtering with rage, Kavanaugh went so far as to claim that his opponents were seeking ‘revenge on behalf of the Clintons,’ though he offered no evidence for that assertion.” • Well, on
left-wingliberal oppo, he was right, wasn’t he?
“Rachel Mitchell’s disappearing act confirms GOP blunder” [Politico]. “The five-minute rounds of questioning — a request from Ford’s legal team that not every Democrat was comfortable with initially — didn’t help the GOP’s cause, either. Mitchell couldn’t establish any rhythm, clearly frustrating Republicans…. But Mitchell pursued some seemingly trivial rounds of questioning that didn’t elicit any information to undermine Ford’s testimony. Mitchell and Ford had a lengthy exchange over Ford’s fear of flying, although they established that Ford often flew for her job as a psychologist and to attend family events. Some of Mitchell’s precious time was used to question Ford about her fear of flying and to ask whether she’d been to Australia. She said she had not. Mitchell clearly suffered from the fact that neither the committee, nor the FBI had questioned Ford previously, which left Mitchell probing a lot of dry holes and sometimes drawing answers that were unhelpful to the GOP side.” • The call for an FBI investigation would look a lot better if [genuflects] Joe Biden hadn’t said they were useless in the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings.
“”If They Can, They Will”: The Ford-Kavanaugh Hearing and the Angry Politics of Now” [Susan Glasser, The New Yorker]. “Emotion does not win on Capitol Hill, though, where the majority rules. The Democrats supporting Ford and demanding a more thorough investigation of her charges before voting on Kavanaugh do not control the Senate, and they did not get to set the terms of the hearings. In Washington, process determines outcome, and in this case the outcome was very likely determined from the moment Republicans on the Judiciary Committee set up the process. The process was designed to give us the deadlock of he-said-she-said, and, in the end, that is exactly what it did. Ford said she was ‘a hundred per cent certain’ that Kavanaugh had attacked her; Kavanaugh said he was ‘a hundred per cent’ sure he had not. How could it have been any other way? There was no independent F.B.I. investigation; no other witnesses were called. Questions were limited to one five-minute round for each senator. Ford spoke first and Kavanaugh second; he would have the last word.” • FWIW, I think a functional Democrat party would have had the Senators co-ordinate their questioning and make it truly an interrogation (they didn’t), wouldn’t allow last-minute outside parties (Avenatti, the New Yorker) to drive the selection of potential witnesses, and would have something to say about Kavanaugh’s opinions. Instead we get empty performative gestures like walk-outs and a focus on effing process, and nothing on, say, Roe v. Wade, which is surely the subtext of the entire exercise for both parties. UPDATE Not to mention Kavanaugh’s seamy record with Ken Starr, or his role as a politlcal operative generally. As a result–
What normie voters saw was a man angry about being accused of assault & cagey, like presumably many normal folks, about discussing how much he used to drink. They didn't see a man dodging the actual details of the allegations because the Dems didn't really ask about them!
— Osita Nwanevu (@OsitaNwanevu) September 28, 2018
* * *
“The rape culture of the 1980s, explained by Sixteen Candles” [Vox]. “But if there’s one thing we can take away from the popular culture of the 1980s, when the alleged events took place, it’s that a sexual assault at that time might not have been immediately clear as what it was, for participants and observers alike. Some of the most popular comedies of the ’80s are filled with supposedly hilarious sequences that portray what in 2018 would be unambiguously considered date rape.” • An especially horrid incident played for laughs. One reaction–
— Molly Ringwald (@MollyRingwald) September 28, 2018
• Making today’s outrage presentist?
UPDATE “Brett Kavanaugh’s Testimony Made It Easier Than Ever to Picture Him as an Aggressive, Entitled Teen” [Slate] • Henry the V without Prince Hal, as it were. That said, aggressive, entitled teens aren’t especially thin on the ground, and it’s a ways from a sense of entitlement to sexual assault. Now, an aggressive teen who, as an adult, is being nominated for the Supreme Court and has terrible opinions is quite another things, but the Democrats seem unable even to consider raising that issue. The norms fairy, perhaps.
UPDATE “The Editors: It is time for the Kavanaugh nomination to be withdrawn” [America]. “While we previously endorsed the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh on the basis of his legal credentials and his reputation as a committed textualist*, it is now clear that the nomination should be withdrawn…. Dr. Blasey’s accusations have neither been fully investigated nor been proven to a legal standard, but neither have they been conclusively disproved or shown to be less than credible. . The best of the bad resolutions available in this dilemma is for Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to be withdrawn.” • A Jesuit magazine.
“Christine Blasey Ford’s GoFundMe campaign is surging after today’s testimony” [CNN]. • $410,000 and rising.
“I Wasn’t Assaulted” [Libby Watson, Medium]. “I wasn’t assaulted, but there are lot of ways to get hurt in bed when you’re a woman.” • It’s like the 80s were a national laboratory for bad sex. Although maybe that was the 70s.
* * *
At the margins….
The approval ratings of the past 4 US presidents from their inaugurations to their first mid-term elections pic.twitter.com/Bn9Im1yE2G
— AFP news agency (@AFP) September 28, 2018
“Democrats dropping $21 million on Senate digital ads largely targeting health care” [NBC]. “So far this cycle, [Senate Majority PAC (SMP)] has been the top outside spender of either party on ads. It’s spent almost $40 million through Wednesday, according to data from Advertising Analytics, and has more advertising dollars booked from now through Election Day than any other outside group.” • Does make you wonder what would happen with #MedicareForAll if the powers that be spent any money on advertising it, instead of propping up the wretched ObamaCare.
— Zak Ringelstein (@RingelsteinME) September 28, 2018
Ringelstein’s done this before, and kudos to him, though I loathe that focus-grouped word “bold.”
Personal Income and Outlays, August 2018: “The refrain of “strong” throughout the FOMC’s assessment of the economy on Wednesday isn’t confirmed by the personal income and outlays report for August where modest-to-moderate is the better description” [Econoday]. And: “Consumer income growth year-over-year is insignificantly lower than spending growth year-over-year…. Overall, the data is little different than last month” [Econintersect].
Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, September 2018: “General economic growth in Chicago slowed in September” [Econoday]. “[S]till very strong.” And: “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” [Econintersect].
Consumer Sentiment, September 2018 (Final): “very healthy,” “down slightly” [Econoday]. “Income optimism across all groups is the strongest since 2004 and is getting a lift from declining inflation expectations and, with this, the prospect of rising spending power. And despite concerns over tariffs, which were cited by nearly 1/3 of the sample, consumers see economic growth continuing and unemployment falling. Note that among those who cite tariffs as a concern, confidence is generally lower.” And: “Final September 2018 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Little Changed From Preliminary” [Econintersect].
Retail: “Inside the New Amazon 4-Star Store, a Novelty Gift Shop” [Wall Street Journal]. “Reminiscent of a novelty gift store or an airport gadget shop, the new Amazon 4-star store on Thursday was selling his and hers mugs, candles, teapots, pet toys, ‘Star Wars’ droids and vegetable peelers… ‘Approximately 90% of all retail is still happening in the physical store,’ said Rob Garf, vice president of strategy and insights at Salesforce Commerce Cloud. ‘This is less about Amazon getting into a new genre or category of retail, I think this is Amazon testing and learning about physical retail.'”
The Bezzle: “How Dirty Money Disappears Into the Black Hole of Cryptocurrency” [Wall Street Journal]. “A North Korean agent, a stolen-credit-card peddler and the mastermind of an $80 million Ponzi scheme had a common problem. They needed to launder their dirty money. They found a common solution in ShapeShift AG, an online exchange backed by established American venture-capital firms that lets people anonymously trade bitcoin, which police can track, for other digital currencies that can’t be followed…. The company’s financial backers include Pantera Capital and FundersClub in California and Access Venture Partners in Colorado. Partners with Pantera and Access said their legal reviews satisfied them that ShapeShift is operating within the law. FundersClub and its partners didn’t respond to messages seeking comment…. A Wall Street Journal investigation identified nearly $90 million in suspected criminal proceeds that flowed through such intermediaries over two years.” • Lots of colorful characters in this story!
Tech: “Facebook Is Breached, Putting 50 Million Users’ Data at Risk” [New York Times]. “Facebook said it did not know the origin or identity of the attackers, nor had it fully assessed the scope of the attack. The company said it was still in the beginning stages of its investigation.” • And I’m sure we’ll be kept fully informed…
Tech: And speaking of Facebook, this Job Description:
Are you sitting down tweeps? Here’s a job @facebook . Director of Data Leaderhip “The Data Leadership Team's mission is to drive innovation in the responsible, ethical and lawful use of data to deliver economic, social and individual value for all” https://t.co/ckfSRsnsmu
— Privacy Matters (@PrivacyMatters) September 28, 2018
I think Facebook is already doing a pretty good job “driving innovation” in “ethics.” Is this new position really needed?
Tech: You don’t own anything digital unless you control the storage. Thread:
Me: Hey Apple, three movies I bought disappeared from my iTunes library.
Apple: Oh yes, those are not available anymore. Thank you for buying them. Here are two movie rentals on us!
Me: Wait… WHAT?? @tim_cook when did this become acceptable? pic.twitter.com/dHJ0wMSQH9
— Anders G da Silva (@drandersgs) September 10, 2018
Like giving you a rental voucher after stealing your house… .
Tech: “Google CEO will testify before U.S. House on bias accusations” [Reuters]. “Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai has agreed to testify before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee later this year over Republican concerns that the company is biased against conservatives, a senior Republican said on Friday.” • It’s biased against the left, too! But you won’t hear about that….
Simulcasting The Second International Conference of Modern Monetary Theory (#mmtconf18), Friday-Sunday, Sept 28-30, The New School, New York City (hat tip, DCBLogger):
“Port Workers Plan Strike in L.A. to Challenge Logistics Firms” [Bloomberg]. “Warehouse workers and truck drivers at Los Angeles ports are planning to launch a three-day strike Monday, aiming to put pressure on logistics companies they claim owe them back wages. The strike is the latest effort by labor groups to focus on workers who companies don’t consider direct employees, or who get their paychecks from other firms in the supply chain. It also exemplifies how strikes in the U.S. have shifted toward drawing public scrutiny to corporate behavior and workers’ demands — such as the union-backed “Fight for $15″ — rather than directly disrupting their bottom line. Port officials have said that previous Teamster port strikes led to some shipments being turned away but had a limited impact on port operations. The union hopes that its mobilizations next week will heighten public pressure on the logistics firms and on their prominent clients, which the Teamsters said include Amazon.com Inc., Toyota Motor Corp., Puma and Rio Tinto Plc.” • Hmm. I wonder how the locals feel about that “public scrutiny” model. Still, nice to the Democrats all over this, supporting labor right before the mid-terms. Oh, wait…
“Pope defrocks Chilean priest at center of abuse scandal” [Associated Press]. “Francis sparked a crisis in his papacy earlier this year when he strongly defended one of Karadima’s protégés, Bishop Juan Barros, against accusations that he had witnessed Karadima’s abuse and ignored it Francis had claimed that the accusations against Barros were “calumny” and politically motivated, and he defended his 2015 decision to appoint Barros bishop of a small Chilean diocese over the objections of the faithful and many in the Chilean hierarchy. After realizing that something was amiss, Francis ordered a Vatican investigation that uncovered decades of abuse and cover-ups by the Chilean church leadership. Francis apologized to the victims, inviting Cruz and fellow survivors James Hamilton and Jose Andres Murillo to the Vatican for four days of talks. He set about making amends, including getting every active bishop in Chile to offer to resign. To date, he has accepted seven of the more than 30 resignations offered, including that of Barros.” • I’m glad some bishops resigned. In Chile. It’s a atart.
News of the Wired
For those who remember the terror alerts, post-9/11:
Current status pic.twitter.com/Gik6zg12nQ
— Pinboard (@Pinboard) September 28, 2018
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 (AH):
AH writes: “This is the project my mom and I worked on this summer. The previous owner had built garden beds around the entire house, which is great. The problem, though, is that she (the previous owner) only planted hosta. It was hosta for days. Hundreds of feet of it, hundreds of plants. So I had to dig it all up in order to plant the gardens my mom is really good at creating. She designs gardens specifically where plants flower at different times throughout the summer. This picture is late summer where most of the garden had already flowered, like bleeding hearts and most of the bulb flowers (I suck at remembering the names of things). The garden pictured here is mostly from Spragues (our favorite nursery in central Maine), plus rocks pulled from the woods out back. We also found a small birch along the rock wall of the property (below the greenhouse). Personally, I would do without the cheesy garden ornaments, but it’s my mom’s house and she loves those things. We will repeat this every summer until all hosta has been conquered once and for all!” Spragues is where I got my first plants, too!
Readers, I’m still running a bit short on plants. Probably a little soon for fall foliage, or wrapping up the garden, but I’m sure you can find something! How about a project you completed over the summer?
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