By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I did too much thinking and not enough typing on Harris v. Sanders; I’ll type very rapidly and have more up in a jiffy. –lambert UPDATE 2:45 All done. I went to do a wash, and opened up my bag of Nihilist Laundry Soap. But there wasn’t anything in it. Straightening that out took a little time.
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune
Taking the events of the long weekend in sequence, I’ll do Kamala Harris first, and then Sanders (who just announced).
Harris: Ian Sams, once Hillary Clinton’s Regional Communications Director, now Kamala Harris’s press secretary, tweets the following:
(The product placement for @TexasPete is a very nice touch.)
We’re in “forgotten nothing, learned nothing” territory with the Harris campaign. Clinton kept hot sauce in her purse; the Harris campaign doubles down! At this point, let’s remember that Harris was recruited (in the Hamptons) by Clinton donors; and she’s supported by Clinton staffers. The Clintonite faction in the Democrat Party really believes they did nothing wrong in 2016; it follows that to succeed in 2020, all they need to is follow the Clinton campaign formula. Which is what they are doing, as rerunning the hot sauce episode shows. (Krugman helpfully attributes the ridicule to, you guessed it, racism; one of the many hilarious aspects of this episode is oodles of white people explaining that black people like hot sauce, often on their greens — and they do too!) Be that as it may, in the Harris campaign we see Clinton donors, Clinton staffers, Clinton tactics, and also Clinton strategy: Locking up superdelegates and Democrat notables, seizing the high ground in the media, and, naturally, election rigging by the DNC — they just can’t help themselves! — in this case by moving up the California primary to Super Tuesday, a move that obviously favors California Senator Harris. Speculating freely, the Clinton faction believes that the only real mistake they made was being too nice to
that JewBernie Sanders, and they don’t intend to make that mistake again. Hence, my addition of the second epigraph from Dune to the Politics section.
Here are the early 2020 primaries, assuming nothing changes:
- February 3: Iowa caucus
- February 11: New Hampshire primary
- February 22: caucus
- February 29: primary
- March 3: Super Tuesday (Alabama, , Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia primaries)
I’ve helpfully underlined the states the Harris campaign might regard as gimmes: Nevada, for what remains of the Reid machine; South Carolina, for the 2016 “firewall” (hot sauce; hip hop; dope-smoking*); and California. Combine those wins with an identity politics-based denunciation and disempowerment of the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary (white; old; rural) and it’s pretty easy to construct a narrative where Sanders is knocked out early. NOTE * I regard all of this as almost unbearably clumsy, but I’m trying to get into the hive mind of the Harris campaign, here. And now to Sanders–
Sanders: “He’s In For 2020: Bernie Sanders Is Running For President Again” [Vermont Public Radio]. • Post updated at 7:12am — the most Vermont thing ever. The video:
Sanders: “CNN to host Bernie Sanders at 2020 town hall” [CNN]. “Sen. Bernie Sanders will head to Washington next Monday for a town hall moderated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.” • Absent treachery, this plays to Sanders’ strength.
Sanders: “‘The Bern’ returns: Bernie Sanders announces entry into crowded 2020 Democratic field” [Des Moines Register]. “In his announcement, Sanders called out President Donald Trump as ‘the most dangerous president in modern American history,’ as well as a ‘pathological liar, a fraud, a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe and someone who is undermining American democracy as he leads us in an authoritarian direction.'” • Throwing that red meat! Objectively, Bush was worse (if the metric is slaughtering people and wrecking the Constitution). But let’s not quibble!
Sanders raises a million:
Sen. Bernie Sanders has raised more than $1 million for his 2020 presidential campaign in less than four hours, his team confirms, putting him well ahead of other contenders who launched their bids with strong financial support. https://t.co/0lJe03uS1s
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) February 19, 2019
Important. If Sanders is going to make a run for it in California — and I wish I knew more about the California Democratic Party, where IIRC Sanders supporters just barely missed taking it over — he’s going to need a lot of people canvassing. I don’t think he can take on the California Democrat Establishment, especially the Silicon Valley mafiosi, with the air war alone. That means money for organizing (apparently the fault line in the 2016 campaign, and the Our Revolution origin story, as well). Making Sanders’ choice of staffers — no liberal Democrat moles, one hopes (treachery) — extremely important, and something I’ve seen no coverage of yet.
Sanders on Schultz:
Bernie Sanders absolutely crushed this interview. He's the only candidate who speaks truth to power for his entire career.
lmao Howard Schultz just got served and Bernie left John Dickerson speechless and looking like a deer in headlights
Realignment and Legitimacy
Bad sign for the DSA. Thread:
At its January general meeting, Harrisonburg-Rockingham DSA made the decision to withdraw our application for official chapter status with the Democratic Socialists of America. Although there are individuals and chapters within the DSA that are interested in building socialism,
— Harrisonburg DSA 🌹 (@hburgdsa) February 17, 2019
Check out the responses.
“Alleged victims say powerful Georgia lawmaker repeatedly delays cases” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]. • From the purely personal perspective, Stacey Abrams is better off far away from this cesspit, up there in the empyrean of the Beltway, with Neera Tanden and the Council on Foreign Relations singing in celestial chorus…
Housing Market Index, February 2019: “Low mortgage rates are no doubt a key factor behind recovering strength in the housing market index” [Econoday]. “This index plunged dramatically back in November [and] December at a time when mortgage rates, unlike now, were on the rise. The new home market, like the rest of the housing sector, struggled through 2018 though the indication from this report does hint at an improved start for 2019.” And: “NAHB: Builder Confidence Increases in February” [Calculated Risk]. “This was above the consensus forecast.”
Commodities: “Despite rise in U.S. oil production, OPEC still steers global prices” [Axios]. “Although U.S. production continues to rise, it still accounts for only 11% of global consumption, compared to OPEC’s 32%. The recent supply cuts illustrate that sudden disruptions and U.S. sanctions that take oil out of the market can put OPEC, and Saudi Arabia specifically, back in charge of global oil prices.” • And our fracking industry hasn’t made a dime in the aggregate, last I checked (readers please correct me). Of course, the executives made a lot. Speculators, too, But that’s a high price to pay for all the, um, externalities.
Credit: “Just Released: Auto Loans in High Gear” [Liberty Street]. From last week, still germane. “[T]he largest share of auto loans is from banks, followed by credit unions. Debt issued by captives, which we classify as dealer-based loans that are associated with car manufacturers (such as Ford or Honda), is predominantly owed by prime borrowers and shows relatively strong performance. But auto finance companies are a different story—50 percent of outstanding loans from auto finance companies are to borrowers with credit scores less than 620. By comparison, only 14 percent of the $340 billion in outstanding auto loans owed to credit unions are associated with subprime borrowers. The performance of loans reflects these quality differences; 6.5 percent of auto finance loans are 90+ days past due, compared with only 0.7 percent of loans originated by credit unions.” • The headline story last week was delinquency on the rise, so this is an interesting breakdown to have.
Retail: “Amazon Signals It Could Sign Agreement with Local Unions to Govern Arlington Construction” [ArlNow]. “Amazon is showing an increasing willingness to sign a collective bargaining agreement with local unions before it sets to work building new office space in Arlington, perhaps meeting a frequent demand of activists concerned about the tech giant’s labor practices. Though the company cautions that nothing is set in stone until county officials formally sign off on an incentive deal to bring the tech giant’s new headquarters to Crystal City and Pentagon City, Amazon is sending signals that it’s open to the prospect of striking a ‘project labor agreement‘ with construction workers who could someday erect the company’s future home in Arlington.” • I wonder if Amazon would be signaling this if New York hadn’t kicked them out?
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I had noticed a few warehouse fire stories before the latest story of a fire at Tesla. So I thought I’d do a cursory aggregation:
Supply Chain: “UK’s Ocado Expects Total Loss of $58M Distribution Center After Huge Fire” [Insurance Journal]. “One of Ocado Group Plc’s largest U.K. warehouses is expected to be completely destroyed by a fire, constraining the online grocer’s ability to meet customer demand and cutting sales growth. The blaze began Tuesday morning in the 45-million pound ($58 million) automated facility in Andover, England, that manages as many as 70,000 orders a week. Although under control, it caused a collapsed roof and damaged all the robots and stock inside, firefighters said. Revenue growth will suffer until capacity can be increased elsewhere, according to the company.” • Just in time for Brexit!
Supply Chain: “Families evacuated from homes after huge warehouse fire in Adlington town centre” [Lancashire Post]. “The fire began at around 11.45pm last night (February 3) at a warehouse which is home to a number of industrial units, including paint shops and a waste recycling company. The fire appears to have engulfed the whole warehouse, with 12 fire engines and over 100 firefighters deployed to bring the blaze under control. Commander Jon Charters said the fire was already ‘significant’ and ‘well-developed’ in part of the building when crews arrived.”
Supply Chain: “Ocado blaze: Automated warehouses create new fire protection complexities, says expert” [IFSEC Global]. “If robots are more cost-effective than humans – requiring no pay, food or rest – then they do present a fire safety issue: electronics get hot. Furthermore, as one commenter on an Instagram post by BBC journalist Zoe Kleinman wrote, robots ‘can’t smell the smoke when said workplace is on fire.’ That’s not to say that electronics were to blame in this instance; the cause of the fire remains unclear pending an investigation.” • Indeed.
Supply Chain: “Gas leak causes several warehouse fires Sunday morning” [WKYC]. “The Cleveland Fire Department responded to several warehouse fires early, Sunday morning. According to officials an underground gas leak caused the buildings on the southwest side of Industrial Parkway to catch fire just before 5 a.m. he fire spread to standing water on the outside of the building.” • What makes my Spidey sense twitch on this is that only one warehouse, the heart-tugging “Coats for Kids,” is mentioned.
Supply Chain: “A Top Cause of Warehouse Fires that Might Surprise You” [Harrington Group]. “NFPA has compiled statistics on structure fires in storage properties. There were an average of 22,900 fires in storage occupancies for the period from 1994 – 1998. The leading cause of these fires was intentional fire setting (arson). No big surprise there.” • No indeed!
Tech: We’re not the only ones:
4. Google news used to be useful and now it is completely useless and broken. I don’t want google to curate headlines and tweets I want it to organize the information and make it accessible by search I mean my god isn’t that the mission statement ffs
— Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) February 17, 2019
Rapture Index: Closes down one on Crime Rate. “The crime rate is down in several categories” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 178. Flirting with the 180 floor. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.
Thanks to NC readers for many thoughtful comment on #fieldwork. I would scope the concept — I think Amfortas the Hippie would agree with me here — to apply only to person-to-person interaction, and to involve a lot of listening. Granted, the next snippet is about getting politicians to listen to you, but it at least insists that understanding your interloctutors needs is important….
“Want to get a politician to listen to science? Here’s some advice” [Science]. “But the most important advice for scientists interested in influencing policymakers is to be timely… While proposing new legislation on vaccines in the midst of a measles outbreak might seem like a good idea because it is timely and relevant, suggesting a new policy to the state legislature in the middle of January might not be effective because the legislative sessions for most states begin in early January, for example. Suhay recommends being aware of these dates and planning early.” • Lots of good ideas here. Has anyone applied them? Does anyone care to try them out?
“Our Gardens Are at the Center of Vanishing Bees and Butterflies— and in Saving Nature.” [Medium]. Starts off with the now universal observation that there are now no more bug splats on windshields. More: “What do home gardens or business landscapes have to do with any of this? In a time when wildlife is vanishing in perceptible fashion every spit of land matters, just as every plant matters. Native plants support many times more insect biomass than exotic plants imported from Asia or Europe because native plants have a shared evolutionary history with insects and other wildlife. Further, when we use lawn as default landscape mode we might as well be paving over everything with asphalt, because lawn has no flowers — and it certainly has no shrubs or small trees which create hedgerows, perhaps some of the best bee nesting habitat around.” • Abolishing your lawn and starting a garden is something many, many people can do — and it gives the suburbs an un- or at least less-impeachable reason for being — but in contrast to consumerist solutions, gardens directly benefit insects (and birds (and small rodents (and cats (and other apex predators, like me))). Gardens also have aesthetic and psychological benefits that buying “Green” products lacks. If you meet other gardeners, there are also collective benefits, so you can do #fieldwork (many conservatives, interestingly, are very sound on gardens).
“Slow and steady, the American prairies grow” [Christian Science Monitor]. “ver the last three decades, a dedicated community of conservationists and land managers has worked to preserve American grasslands in all their manifold forms: the tallgrass, shortgrass, and mixed-grass prairies of the Midwest, as well as lesser-known varieties, such as the northwest prairies in Oregon and Washington, or the sandplain grasslands in Massachusetts. Since the ’80s, conservationists have make significant progress in their ability to reestablish and care for prairie ecosystems… The exact acreage of prairie conservation efforts is somewhat difficult to track, since many of them are grass-roots endeavors. A rough estimate for preserved prairies in the Great Plains area alone is around 207,000 square miles of tall-, mixed-, and shortgrass biomes. But there are countless small preserves scattered across the United States, which can include areas as small as half an acre.” • Let’s speed this up! (I forget which NC reader pointed this out, but my recollection is that grasslands are better for carbon capture than forests?)
“Senate Passes a Sweeping Land Conservation Bill” [New York Times]. “The Senate on Tuesday passed a sweeping public lands conservation bill, designating more than one million acres of wilderness for environmental protection and permanently reauthorizing a federal program to pay for conservation measures. The Senate voted 92 to 8 in favor of the bill…. The bill designates 1.3 million acres in Utah, New Mexico, Oregon and California as “wilderness,” the most stringent level of federal land protection. It prohibits any development and the use of most motorized vehicles. And the bill creates less-stringent but permanent protections of land in Montana and Washington state… It also classifies approximately 225 miles of river in Massachusetts and Connecticut and 280 miles of river in Oregon as wild, scenic, or recreational.” • It’s a start. Why don’t we classify the Mississippi and Missouri rivers as scenic? Ha ha, only serious!
“Regenerative agriculture can make farmers stewards of the land again” [The Conversation]. “A method called regenerative agriculture promises to create new resources, restoring them to preindustrial levels or better. This is good for farmers as well as the environment, since it lets them reduce their use of agrochemicals while making their land more productive…. he experiences of farmers who have adopted regenerative agriculture show that it restores soil carbon, literally locking carbon up underground, while also reversing desertification, recharging water systems, increasing biodiversity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And it produces nutrient-rich food and promises to enliven rural communities and reduce corporate control of the food system.” • Let’s just hope Big Ag doesn’t do for regenerative agriculture what it did for “organic farming.”
“Factbox: New systems pinpoint palm oil deforestation in real time, almost” [Reuters]. “Previously, problems with government data and reluctance by palm oil companies to specify plantation boundaries made it difficult to gauge when they encroached on protected forests.” • Not, perhaps, good enough, but better.
“Atlantic Coast Pipeline delayed until 2021” [Grist]. “Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline boondoggle only grows worse…. According to a spokesperson for Dominion, Karl Neddenien, all construction is halted because of multiple factors including increasing costs, and in part over a dispute regarding permits to cross the Appalachian Trail and national forests. He says the delay, caused by what he calls ‘well-financed’ opposition groups, are impacting more than just the construction schedules, according to Neddenien.” • Good. All projects that make it easier to take hydrocarbons out of the ground should be opposed when encountered. It’s fun and educational!
“Running Dry: New Strategies for Conserving Water on the Colorado” [Yale Environment 360]. “Since 2000, the snow that blankets the Colorado Rockies each winter — the source of most of the river’s water — has tapered off considerably. Last year it was less than half of normal. So far, the farmers here have gotten their share of water, but this year could bring the first emergency declaration by water administrators. That would mean that some ‘junior’ water users — those whose allocations came later — may have to forego their share in favor of senior users. The nearly two decades of low snowpack is being called a drought, and tree rings show it’s the most severe in over 1,200 years. The term drought, however, implies it will end someday. But there are serious questions about whether this is a drought or a permanent drying of the West due to a changing climate.” • I don’t mean to sound heartless, but back in the day I flew across the country reasonably often, and from the air, the concept that we ought to be doing agriculture in the desert is not obvious.
Black Injustice Tipping Point
“Kaepernick Won. The NFL Lost.” [The Atlantic]. “Technically, Colin Kaepernick withdrew his collusion case. Technically, the NFL did not admit that it conspired to blackball Kaepernick from the league after he began taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. But nontechnically speaking, the NFL lost. Massively…. Had Kaepernick’s case gone further, there was no question that more sensitive and damaging information would have come out. Who knows what was said about Kaepernick or other players in texts and emails.” • Indeed.
Police State Watch
“FBI is dismantling its war crimes unit” [Reveal]. “In addition to finding international war criminals living in the U.S., the FBI’s human rights unit also has investigated and apprehended perpetrators of war crimes against Americans abroad, along with Americans who commit war crimes themselves – such as military contractors accused of killing civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan or U.S. citizens who fight alongside the Islamic State. All those efforts now could fall through the cracks.” • That’s not a bug. It’s a feature.
Are UK universities undergoing some sort of crisis?
Why on earth would a college administrator need a chief of staff? Do they need a Großer Generalstab, too?
Many a true word spoken in jest:
the anthropocene would be more accurately named the bourgeoispocene.
— Steve Randy Waldman (@interfluidity) February 12, 2019
“Tidying up is not joyful but another misuse of Eastern ideas [Aeon (RH)]. “In more fanciful moments, I think about decluttering the KonMari method itself, stripping it of the middle-class respectability its exoticism confers. In place of Kondo herself, I imagine a tired maid (maids are always tired) using her years of ‘tidying’ to counsel a family on managing their too-abundant stuff. She appeals to her experience both in cleaning and in life – invoking, say, that time she had to downsize from a double-wide trailer to a single-wide. (Long before the ‘tiny house movement’ – another pop-culture fascination for those suffocated by their own stuff – many people already lived in tiny homes, and these are called trailers.) My sage maid uses her organisational competency, hard-earned from years of picking up after others, and her long practice in the art of making do without the new or the shiny. Most of all, she is full of plain good sense. But what she will not promise, cannot promise, is that cleaning house will bring you contentment. Nor will she suggest that you discard belongings that don’t ‘spark joy’. And that really is the rub. My wise maid will forgo soft talk of joy, and use instead a harder, plain-speaking language to assess all that stuff: does it still have use in it?” • In more fanciful moments, I wish this would have been Ehrenreich’s take…
DSA has a Dog Caucus (which is actually a good thing):
“A network’s gender composition and communication pattern predict women’s leadership success” [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences]. From the Significance: \”Graduate programs increasingly place women directly into leadership positions. For men, centrality in the school-wide student network predicts job-rank placement. Women’s placement is also predicted by centrality and the presence of a distinctive inner circle of women in their network. The inner circle of high-placing women displays an unusual network duality: The network has cliquish ties among women, but each woman is connected to a separate set of third-party contacts. This dual connectivity of strong and weak ties appears to provide simultaneous access to gender-related tacit information important for women’s success as well as diverse job-market data needed for successful job search and negotiations.”
News of the Wired
“An Interactive Map of the 2,000+ Sounds Humans Use to Communicate Without Words: Grunts, Sobs, Sighs, Laughs & More” [Open Culture]. “Before the linguistic technologies of grammar and syntax, hominids, like other mammals today and a good number of non-mammals too, had a wordless language that communicated more directly, and more honestly, than any of the thousands of ways to string syllables into sentences…. That language still exists, of course, and those who understand it know when someone is afraid, relieved, frustrated, angry, confused, surprised, embarrassed, or awed, no matter what that someone says. It is a language of feeling—of sighs, grunts, rumbles, moans, whistles, sniffs, laughs, sobs, and so forth. Researchers call them “vocal bursts” and as any long-suffering married couple can tell you, they communicate a whole range of specific feelings.” • “More honestly.” Hmm. Is it really impossible to lie using “vocal bursts”?
“The biological basis of mental illness” [Nature]. “In [psychiatrist Randolph Nesse’s] view, the roots of mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, lie in essential functions that evolved as building blocks of adaptive behavioural and cognitive function. Furthermore, like the legs of thoroughbred racehorses — selected for length, but tending towards weakness — some dysfunctional aspects of mental function might have originated with selection for unrelated traits, such as cognitive capacity. Intrinsic vulnerabilities in the human mind could be a trade-off for optimizing unrelated features… evolution selects for reproductive success rather than for health and happiness; hence, the existence of human diseases and disorders….. evolution selects for reproductive success rather than for health and happiness; hence, the existence of human diseases and disorders.” • Possibly helpful to the suffering. And possibly not.
The Reeking Philosophers Problem:
You may have to click for the image.)
Fun with aircraft:
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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 (IM):
IM writes: “Liquorice and sword ferns, goldstream park, BC. Taken in what passes for winter on the west coast!”
Readers, several of you sent in pictures of plants yesterday, but I recognized all the names! How about sending Water Cooler some pictures of plants if you’ve never sent any before? Fungi count!
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