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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
“What Is Tulsi Gabbard Fighting For?” [New York Magazine]. “But a steady drumbeat of criticism from progressives claims that Gabbard also has sympathies with Steve Bannon–style nationalists on the hard right, whose foreign-policy view is also fundamentally anti-interventionist. Her detractors argue that her policy overlap with the hard right is consistent and substantive enough that it ought to undermine her credibility as someone who could represent consensus progressive values in the White House. If “Gabbardism” is a foreign-policy school of thought, it is perhaps best captured by her own words. ‘In short, when it comes to the war against terrorists, I’m a hawk,’ Gabbard told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in 2016. ‘When it comes to counterproductive wars of regime change, I’m a dove.’ It’s a sentiment that wouldn’t be out of place in Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign — or in Pat Buchanan’s in 1992.”• Hmm.
11 days until Election Day. 11 days. That’s less than two weels, still is a long time in politics, as the “package devices” show.
“What a Green Wave Can’t Hide — It’s Still the Economy, Stupid” [Roll Call]. “Money is a resource, not an outcome.” • Snappy. I tend to agree, but I think Thomas Ferguson would have a thing or two to say.
“A dozen days to go: Ratings changes in gubernatorial, House races” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. • See Table 2; Sabato is getting results similar to mine. The ratings changes show shrinking Republican margins, but they’re not shrinking enough to move the district from the R column to the D column. Sabato says: “ At the same time, more and more seats seem to be coming into play, with Republican and/or Democratic outside groups expanding their ad buys to districts where the GOP has seemed favored.” • I had the whole notion of a “Blue Wave” misconconceived. I thought of it as a great small-d democratic uprising, organic to voters, spontaneous-like. But I wasn’t cynical enough. As things seem to be playing out, the wave is a giant wave of cash, presumably ending up in the hands of our famously free press, with the usual strategists and consultants taking their usual cut. I wish I were a clever illustrator; I’d construct a version of Hokusai’s “Great [bluie] Wave off Kanagawa” in green dollar bills. Ka-ching.
“Ten Rating Changes as Democrats’ Enthusiasm Edge Narrows and Fundraising Advantage Widens” [Cook Political Report]. “Democrats now have a clear advantage in 17 GOP-held seats and Republicans have an advantage in two Democratic-held seats. If the 30 Toss Ups were to break evenly between the parties (15 seats apiece), Democrats would score a net gain of 29 seats, six more than the 23 they need to retake the majority. We continue to believe anywhere from a 20 to 40 seat Democratic gain is possible, but right now the likeliest outcome is a Democratic gain of between 25 and 35 seats.”
“The 15 Races That Will Determine How Democrats Approach 2020” [Politico]. “to really celebrate, socialists and populists would like to able to say that single-payer helped Democrats win in districts previously won by Donald Trump, to show the issue’s potency on red turf. The three Democrats running forthrightly on a single-payer platform, in Trump-won districts rated “Toss-up” or “Lean Republican” by POLITICO, are Kara Eastman (NE-02 [M], Randy Bryce (WI-01 [M]) and Joe Radinovich (MN-08 [M]*)…. And a big blue wave could buoy other single-payer backers running on even deeper red turf. Keep an eye on: Diane Mitsch Bush (CO-03), Leslie Cockburn (VA-05 [M]), Nate McMurray (NY-27) and Sri Preston Kulkarni (TX-22).” • I’ve double-checked my worksheet, and the candidates I’m tracking are indeed real Medicare for All (“[M]”) supporters, not faux ones. I have to update Joe Radinovich, whose website wasn’t up when I first built the database. All I can say is maybe. I continue to believe that preventing #MedicareForAll is the #1 policy goal of the Democrat leadership, though they may try some rebranding of markets-first proposals like the public option.
CA-49: “Once-Red Southern California District May Lead Blue Wave” [Courthouse News]. “In a phone interview, Flip the 49th campaign manager Johnny Papagiannis said volunteers have reached out to 127,000 voters since the June primary through calls, text messages and going door-to-door. Of those contacts, they’ve talked to 45,000 people…. between 1,200 and 1,500 people have volunteered with Flip the 49th since the group upped their efforts starting in late August…. Flip the 49th is targeting low-frequency voters and voters who have registered since 2016 and as far back as 2014, Papagiannis said. The group has since abandoned its strategy of targeting some Republicans as it did during the primary, with Papagiannis finding ‘people entrench themselves with the party that has won.’ He noted Republicans continue to ‘vote along party lines’ and support Trump. ‘The non-voter handed Trump the election in 2016 and we did not want that to be the case here,” Papagiannis said.” • Wotta concept, appealing to non-voters. (CA-49 is on my worksheet, and the candidate, Mike Levin, is a Medicare for All supporter — explicitly supporting HR676 — despite being supported by the DCCC (along with DFA and the PCCC). They must be desperate.
ME-02: “A new kind of voting faces Election Day test in Maine” [Associated Press]. “The ranked-choice voting system will be used for the first time in history in U.S. House and Senate races in Maine on Election Day….. [I]t was used without any major problems in June’s primary…. Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s Democratic challenger, Jared Golden, could be aided by second-choice votes from two independents under a similar scenario in the more conservative 2nd Congressional District.”
MT Senate: “Jon Tester Bets the Farm” [The Atlantic]. “For Tester, who at this moment has one hand on the steering wheel of the combine, victory in November depends on convincing a base of mostly Republican voters that he can offer something that transcends party: an up-close understanding of life in rural America…. [His opponent State Auditor Matt Rosendale], who made his career in real estate on the Eastern Shore of Maryland before moving to Montana in 2002, called himself a rancher throughout his primary campaign—until Talking Points Memo reported that the state Department of Revenue was unable to find records of Rosendale having ever owned a cow.” • Ooopsie. Stories like that are one of the many reasons I love the human pageant that is American politics. (“[W]hat is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison)
PA-11: “A bellwether in farm country” [New Food Economy]. “[S]ome farmers are reconsidering their long-standing support for the GOP and its policies and politics that contributed to the current farm crisis—the tariffs, the delay on a new farm bill, the cozy relationships with Big Ag. In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a major dairy-producing community, a tight congressional race is stirring this debate among farmers about whether and how their Republican representatives are standing up for small-scale agriculture… Her campaign is built on a small army of volunteers who knock on doors, make calls, and engage with voters in person—an old-school effort in an age of PACs and polls. [Democrat Jess] King’s supporters all say the same thing about the candidate: She listens to what people say they need, and builds those needs into her policy priorities. That level of attention is particularly meaningful to local farmers, who feel forgotten by federal policy and neglected by local officials. King is proud that her average campaign donation is $35, and claims that her campaign has mobilized more people than any other Democratic campaign in the district’s history.”
Handy map on turnout:
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) October 23, 2018
Realignment and Legitimacy
UPDATE “Suspicious packages sent to Robert De Niro and Joe Biden” [News.com]. “The bombs were each about six inches long with a small battery and packed with powder and broken glass, said a law enforcement official who viewed X-ray images. The official said the devices were made from PVC pipe and covered with black tape. CNN reported the package sent to De Niro had similar markings to the pipe bomb sent to the network yesterday. A law enforcement source said a similar package addressed to Mr Biden was intercepted at a Delaware mail facility.” • I suppose when we find the string diagram connected De Niro and George Soros, we’ll have found the perp. Meanwhile, unless I’ve missed something, the story hasn’t otherwise advanced since yesterday (see my comment here). Readers? Anything non-speculative?
“The Caravan Is a Challenge to the Integrity of U.S. Borders” [David Frum, The Atlantic]. Frum’s conclusion: “If liberals insist that only fascists will defend borders, then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals will not do. I’ve been pounding the drum for this warning since the European migration crisis accelerated in 2013. The warning holds as true as ever—and now it’s coming home.” • Frum, as one of the warmongers responsible for Iraq, should be in the dock at The Hague, not sitting behind the editor’s desk at The Atlantic. So it’s richly ironic that Frum doesn’t recognize American military “meddling” as a driver for both European and Central American migrations, in Syria and Honduras, respectively. But as for the Democrats: The day I hear one of the OccupyICE people say the words “labor arbitrage” willl be the day I believe they don’t support open borders too, along with the Koch Brothers. What a mess.
“White Nationalists Accused of Violence Appear in Court” [Courthouse News]. “Three members of a California white nationalist group appeared in Los Angeles federal court on Wednesday after the FBI arrested them for organizing and participating in riots across the state…. According to the criminal complaint, Rundo, Boman, Laube and other members of RAM attacked counter-protesters at multiple rallies in 2017 and encouraged combat training at a park in San Clemente in Orange County…. At a March 2017 “Make America Great Again” rally in Huntington Beach, California, members of RAM confronted and attacked a small group of counter-protesters, according to the complaint.”d
Durable Goods Orders, September 2018: “A doubling in orders for defense aircraft headlines a better-than-expected… rise in September durable goods orders” [Econoday]. “Yet when excluding transportation equipment and with it the gain for defense aircraft, orders managed only a 0.1 percent increase.” And: “Orders placed with U.S. factories for business equipment declined in September for a second month, a sign momentum in capital investment has paused as global trade concerns persist” [Industry Week]. • Not something you like to see in a capitalist economy. But: “Defence aircraft was the main tailwinds this month in the adjusted data. This series has wide swings monthly so our primary metric is the unadjusted three month rolling average – which improved and is still growing faster than GDP” [Econintersect].
Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, October 2018: “Improving delivery times and easing price pressures point to easing capacity constraints” [Econoday]. “Orders have been solid to very strong in this month’s regional reports but the new theme has been an easing in capacity stress. This suggests that manufacturers are successfully ramping up output and clearing the way for a new spurt in orders.” • Hopefully. “Kansas City Fed manufacturing has been one of the more stable districts and their index is now below the range of values seen in the last 12 months. Note that the key internals remained in expansion – but new orders declined” [Econintersect]. And: “This is the lowest level for this index since 2016. The regional surveys for October have mostly indicated slower growth in October as compared to September, and these surveys suggest the ISM index will still be solid, but could be close to the lowest level this year” [Calculated Risk].
International Trade in Goods, September 2018: “Whatever the early effects of tariffs may be, the nation’s trade picture deteriorated noticeably in the third quarter” [Econoday]. “Goods imports surged…. The gain in imports overshadows a very strong… jump in exports where strength includes industrial supplies, capital goods, vehicles and also consumer goods. But showing yet another heavy decline are exports of foods, feeds & beverages….”
Wholesale Inventories [Advance], September 2018: Lower than expected [Econoday]. “Despite the strong build underway, inventories relative to sales at the wholesale level have been lean.”
Retail Inventories [Advance], September 2018: Subdued rise [Econoday]. “Putting the three months together, retail inventories should contribute to third-quarter inventory growth in tomorrow’s GDP report.”
Pending Home Sales Index, September 2018: “There’s finally some good news coming out of the housing sector. Pending sales of existing homes rose” [Econoday]. ” Overall pending sales are down” on the year. And: “This was above expectations for this index” [Calculated Risk]. “The National Association of Realtors (NAR) seasonally adjusted pending home sales index remains in contraction year-over-year. Our analysis shows continued worsening of growth” [Econintersect].
Jobless Claims, week of October 20, 2018: “Hurricane Michael apparently had very limited effect on the labor market” [Econoday]. “This is a very favorable report that not only should ease concerns of hurricane effects in tomorrow’s employment report but, fundamentally, offers some of the strongest evidence of any data set on the enormous demand that labor is enjoying.” This report has been dull so long I hope I notice when it changes.
Shipping: “The International Maritime Organization sessions on antipollution efforts are starting in London with pressure rising from the U.S. and other nations to soften the rollout of new sulfur-emissions restrictions” [Wall Street Journal]. “[T]he IMO so far has been looking at a brief grace period for the rule slated to take effect at the beginning of 2020, one aimed only at allowing vessels to empty their tanks of heavy oil. But the U.S., Greece and other maritime say many ship operators simply won’t be ready and that cleaner fuels need to be tested in a longer ‘experience-building’ phase-in. The bigger concern is the higher costs likely to hit the larger economy.”
Supply Chain: “Toy sellers are discovering just how simple their supply chains were when most of the shipments flowed to one retailer. Hasbro Inc. says the disappearance of Toys “R” Us from the retail landscape dampened demand in the third quarter…., while significantly complicating distribution and inventory management” [Wall Street Journal]. “.Hasbro says its supply chain has grown more fragmented, with 10,000 new places for its products and order patterns that are far different from those of the former toy superstore.” • 10,000!
The Bezzle: “The Destruction of Central Edinburgh Communities” [Craig Murray (Timotheus)]. “One Edinburgh website alone boasts that over 2,000 Edinburgh apartment owners use its short term letting service – and presumably a significant percentage of those 2,000 own multiple apartments. The authorities simply cannot know how many Edinburgh flats are holiday lets. It is a huge black market, avoiding income tax, fire, safety and other regulations and very often involving illegal sub-letting…. here must be a minimum of 3,000 housing units not designed as holiday accommodation, taken out of Edinburgh’s housing stock and put to that purpose. Of these, I know from direct observation most are simply empty for the vast majority of the year, but from just Hogmanay and the Festival an owner can make more money than a working family could pay for rent in the year. The result is, of course, to force rents up across the city for ordinary people. The impact on the city centre community has been devastating, and the process is by no means ended, with estate agents I have spoken with saying that most city centre properties now sold are still going to investors for this purpose.” • Thank you Silicon Valley. When you hear “disruption,” think “extraction.”
“Trump enacts anti-opioid abuse package in rare bipartisan step” [Reuters]. “The legislation expands access to substance abuse treatment in Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled; cracks down on mailed shipments of illicit drugs such as fentanyl, a synthetic opioid far more powerful than heroin; and provides a host of new federal grants to address the crisis.” • So now we’ve medicalized deaths of despair….
“A Climate Catastrophe Paved the Way for the Dinosaurs’ Reign” [The Atlantic]. “[A] primeval washout, known as the Carnian Pluvial Episode… was one of the oddest climate events, and most severe biotic crises, in the history of life…. This earthly belch of CO2 drove intense bouts of global warming, ocean acidification, mass extinction, and, most notably, a barrage of extreme rainfall and mountain-flattening mega-monsoons still visible in rocks around the world…. Oxygen isotopes from the fossil teeth of tiny sea creatures reveal that the entire episode was kicked off by warming of only about 4–7 degrees Celsius—roughly the same magnitude predicted for our own world under a business-as-usual carbon-emissions scenario.” Hoo boy.
Unite Here making an international connection:
.@Marriott's @RitzCarlton Riyadh allegedly used by Saudi govt as jail & torture center. Did Marriott protest? Demand investigation? Ask Red Cross to visit detainees? No, but they later announced $2B expansion in #SaudiArabia. #Marriott #RCMemories https://t.co/zSVKuI0Fte pic.twitter.com/sKwro781U1
— UNITE HERE #1Job (@unitehere) October 25, 2018
(Marriott owns the Ritz Carlton luxury hotel chain.)
Stoller on the FTC, a clear case where the FTC had the power to stop a noxious consolidation, and didn’t:
1. Get ready for a nitty gritty thread on how corporate power is reliant on the Federal Trade Commission, and insider Republicans and Democrats, for its power. As well as some thoughts on why this will change. It starts with a giant little noticed merger this week.
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) October 25, 2018
News of the Wired
“The future of photography is code” [TechCrunch]. “While the physical components are still improving bit by bit, Google, Samsung and Apple are increasingly investing in (and showcasing) improvements wrought entirely from code. Computational photography is the only real battleground now…. Access to the stream [of photons] allows the camera to do all kinds of things. It adds context. A simple example of context is what is commonly referred to as HDR, or high dynamic range imagery. This technique uses multiple images taken in a row with different exposures to more accurately capture areas of the image that might have been underexposed or overexposed in a single exposure.” • I understand the logic here, but I wish so many HDR photos didn’t look like fake CGI. Am I being harsh?
News You Can Use:
how the hell am i just learning about this pic.twitter.com/yy2wmwYxXt
— josh (@Iiftrs) October 24, 2018
Word of the Day:
Something that is APOTROPAIC banishes or exorcizes evil.
— Haggard Hawks (@HaggardHawks) October 25, 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: