By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I am finishing up a post on framing climate change, and so (again) will throw down some conversation starters in the Politics section — it was a very busy weekend! — then return later and finish up. –lambert
“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
Biden (D)(1): “Biden to campaign as extension of Obama’s political movement” [Associated Press]. There’s no such thing. More: “After remarks at a recent labor union event, Biden said he was proud to be an “Obama-Biden Democrat,” coining a term that his advisers define as pragmatic and progressive, and a bridge between the working-class white voters who have long had an affinity for Biden and the younger, more diverse voters who backed Obama in historic numbers.” • One would expect, therefore, an Obama endorsement to be forthcoming (which, if it comes down to Biden v. Sanders, I imagine there would be, albeit in passive-aggressive fashion).
Biden (D)(2): “Biden sees donor enthusiasm, strong polls post-controversy” [The Hill]. “The former vice president and his supporters believe the large Democratic field that has swelled to 18 candidates benefits Biden since it will make it tougher for anyone to reach 50 percent.” • So Biden is betting on a brokered convention? Cool!
Still some empty space but the crowd has filled out a bit. Sen. Menendez speaking now. pic.twitter.com/wnukzeMRpw
— Rebecca Buck (@RebeccaBuck) April 13, 2019
Not sure I’d put much weight on the police estimate, but the video of the crowd is not impressive.
Booker (D)(2): “Individuals Working for Wall Street, Private Equity and Big Pharma Love to Donate to Cory Booker” [In These Times]. “Despite rejecting corporate PAC money in February 2018, he still received large amounts of contributions that year from individuals working in industries and lobbying firms whose interests run counter to many progressives’ most cherished policy goals. Among his current top contributors were individuals from major Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Prudential Financial and private equity firm Apollo Global Management. His top source of funding, New York-based corporate law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, receives much of its business from the financial sector, particularly Citigroup.”
Buttigieg (D)(1): “Former AIPAC President Endorses Pete Buttigieg” [Forward]. “The dark horse Democratic presidential campaign of Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, got a pro-Israel boost with the endorsement of Steve Grossman, the former president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee….. Grossman, who previously indicated he would back the campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, called Buttigieg, 37, ‘a Midwestern, down-to-earth, smart, savvy, in-touch candidate who will continue to grow,’ saying he had what it takes to win back industrial states that Hillary Clinton — whom Grossman backed — lost in the 2016 election.” • “Smart, savvy.” It’s like somebody thought Listen, Liberal! was a blueprint.
Buttigieg (D)(2) The head: “Wonder Boy” [New York Magazine]. The deck: “Wonder Boy Pete Buttigieg is a gay Harvard alum, fluent in Gramsci, Joyce, and Norwegian. And he’s the Democrats’ folksiest heartland hope. Really!” More: “Sick of old people? He looks like Alex P. Keaton. Scared of young people? He looks like Alex P. Keaton. Religious? He’s a Christian. Atheist? He’s not weird about it. Wary of Washington? He’s from flyover country. Horrified by flyover country? He has degrees from Harvard and Oxford. Make the President Read Again? He learned Norwegian to read Erlend Loe. Traditional? He’s married. Woke? He’s gay. Way behind the rest of the country on that? He’s not too gay. Worried about socialism? He’s a technocratic capitalist. Worried about technocratic capitalists? He’s got a whole theory about how our system of “democratic capitalism” has to be a whole lot more “democratic.” If you squint hard enough to not see color, some people say, you can almost see Obama the inspiring professor. Oh, and he’s the son of an immigrant, a Navy vet, speaks seven foreign languages (in addition to Norwegian, Arabic, Spanish, Maltese, Dari, French, and Italian), owns two rescue dogs, and plays the goddamn piano. He’s actually terrifying. What mother wouldn’t love this guy?”
Buttigieg (D)(3): “Poverty, income, population: Do the stats reflect Buttigieg’s legacy in South Bend?” (charts) [South Bend Tribune]. “Despite the various sets of numbers, and interpretations, Indiana University South Bend political science professor Elizabeth Bennion said it’s tough to separate the impact of a city’s policies on demographic data from the impacts of a regional economy and state and national policies. ‘It is incredibly difficult to disentangle these factors, and that compounds the problem of how you judge a particular politician’s impact,’ Bennion said. ‘Multiple people with their own agendas can pick their data points and time period and spin the story any way.'” • Not exactly a ringing endorsement. (Also, South Bend is quite the college town; not only Notre Dame but Indiana University South Bend. I would bet there are a lot of disparities across neighborhood, and plenty of gentrification, too.)
Gillibrand (D): “Gillibrand Calls Hillary Clinton a ‘Role Model for All'” [Bloomberg]. “Gillibrand said Tuesday that her ‘fondness’ and respect for Hillary Clinton are ‘very strong’ and that she continues to admire and look up to her. She supported Clinton’s 2016 Democratic presidential bid and took Clinton’s U.S. Senate seat when Clinton was appointed secretary of state in 2009. ‘Secretary Clinton is a role model for all of us,’ Gillibrand said. ‘My views on her husband are very different. And I’ve said all I’m going to say about that.'”
Harris (D)(1): “Kamala Harris: ‘I am a gun owner’ for personal protection” [The Hill]. “The presidential candidate blasted what she believes is a ‘false choice’ between supporting the Second Amendment and taking away guns, which she said is ‘born out of a lack of courage from leaders.’ ‘For too long and still today we are being offered a false choice which suggests you’re either in favor of the Second Amendment or you want to take everyone’s guns away,’ she said. She added that she supports ‘Los Angeles Times]. “Also boosting the family coffers was Harris’ most recent book, “The Truths We Hold.” Harris was paid more than $730,000 for the memoir and a companion children’s book, which were released in January. She reported more than $400,000 in expenses relating to the project.” • Not, apparently, a best-seller. And $400K in expenses for writing a book? Really?
Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders’ Letter Accusing CAP of Undermining Democratic Unity (April 13, 2019)” [DocumentCloud]. This letter, and the ensuing controversy below, is a show of strength by Sanders, because CAP is regarded by many liberal Democrats as a White House in waiting:
Center for American Progress leader Neera Tanden repeatedly calls for unity while simultaneously maligning my staff and supporters and belittling progressive ideas. I worry that the corporate money CAP is receiving is inordinately and inappropriately influencing the role it is playing in the progressive movement.
I and other Democratic candidates are running campaigns based on principles and ideas and not engaging in mudslinging or personal attacks on each other. Meanwhile, the Center for American Progress is using its resources to smear Senator Booker, Senator Warren, and myself, among others. This is hardly the way to build unity, or to win the general election.
I will be informing my grassroots supporters of the foregoing concerns that I have about the role CAP is playing. Should your actions evolve in the coming months, I am happy to reconsider what kind of partnership we can have.
“I am happy to reconsider what kind of partnership we can have.” Translation: “I don’t need you.” Sanders volunteer organizing must be going very well.
Sanders (D)(2): By “informing my grassroots supporters,” Sanders means “fundraise off this,” and so he should be:
This campaign email made me smile. pic.twitter.com/gB4G6I7bTT
— Star Stuff (@Statistar30) April 15, 2019
Sanders (D)(3): Zaid Jailani, late of CAP, now at the Intercept. Thread:
But the Center for American Progress and its leadership have opposed Bernie Sanders's politics since he announced in 2015. The wounds are well and open. Sanders' team just isn't refusing to respond to attacks this time. This time, they're a real campaign. https://t.co/t5hhaFDBsX
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) April 14, 2019
Sanders (D)(4): It would seem that Think Progress (TP) is one of the “resources” CAP used; TP fired back by insisting on its editorial independence. Well…. Thread:
There's been a lot of talk about the editorial independence of ThinkProgress from CAP in response to today's news. Seeing that this is a topic I happen to know quite a bit about, I will offer what I know https://t.co/wl183nYW2L 1/16
— Benjamin Armbruster (@benjaminja) April 14, 2019
Sanders (D)(5): And well….
This is all you need to know about the editorial independence of ThinkProgress. Podesta and Tanden get Judd Legum to change this headline about Clinton's dishonest attacks on Sanders's Medicare for All proposal https://t.co/YVuyq3BNCp pic.twitter.com/D8mLiLQmXh
— Matt Bruenig (@MattBruenig) April 14, 2019
Readers with long, grudge-filled memories — like mine! — will remember that Neera Tanden got Matt Bruenig fired when he didn’t even work for her. So, given that CAP and TP are co-located, and CAP signs TP’s checks, it doesn’t seem like a stretch to imagine that TP’s editorial independence is a useful fiction.
Trump (R)(1): “Goldman Economists Say Trump Re-Election More Likely Than Not” [Bloomberg]. “”The advantage of first term incumbency and the relatively strong economic performance ahead of the presidential election suggest that President Trump is more likely to win a second term than the eventual Democratic candidate is to defeat him,” [economists Alec Phillips and Blake Taylor wrote in a report released late on Saturday].” •
Trump (R)(2): “13 Keys to the White House Indicate a Republican Win in 2020” [Macro Affairs]. These are Alan Lichtmans keys, a fundamentals-based approach which has been successful in the past, including 2016. “The table above gives the incumbent GOP a preliminary score of 7.8, which is above the 6.5 needed to win – indicating that the Republicans are ahead in the 2020 election. But the Democrats need to win just 1.3 points to gain the upper hand.” • So, we’re going to be chewing our hands for the next 567 days! Lichtman also predicred (December 2018) that Trump will be impeached in 2019.
Autonomous vehicles may have a similar impact. Imagine getting into your own self-driving car/pod that reclines at 7:30 am, napping and watching early morning TV, and getting dropped off at the office at 9. You could live pretty far away.
— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) April 13, 2019
• Uh huh.
CA: “California Voters Keep Accidentally Joining George Wallace’s Zombie Political Party” [New York Magazine]. “An April 2016 Los Angeles Times report showing that a vast number of indies who should have been registering as ‘No Party Preference’ voters were instead signing up for the [American Independent Party, a hold-over from the Wallace campaign in 1968]…. it certainly did not help the Sanders campaign, which was counting on indie votes…. If there’s a 20-candidate presidential field and Sanders or somebody else is counting on indies to get them across the line in California, they’d better start getting the word on about the AIP pretty soon.”
WI: “A Sobering Signal From Wisconsin” [The Nation]. “Trump assumed the presidency after losing the popular vote but narrowly prevailing in the fights for the electoral votes of three states with long histories of voting Democratic in presidential elections: Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Those states are all led today by Democratic governors, thanks to the Democratic wave that swept across the Great Lakes region in 2018. But no one should imagine that one good election cycle for the Democrats means that these states have made a permanent move. Or that the nation is on a clear trajectory toward the post-Trump era.” Shorter: An injection of right-wing money. Not countered — naturally — by Democrats.
“Democrats, Please Take Whatever Precautions Are Necessary To Prevent This Terrible Disaster” [The Bulwark]. “it’s my firm belief that if you don’t do something to change course, America is going to be forced to choose between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in 2020. And that’s no kind of choice at all.” • Recommended by Bill Kristol!
“Not a showoff.’ Sharice Davids’ quiet approach endears her to Democratic leaders” [Kansas City Star]. “Congress has never seen anyone quite like Davids: Cornell Law School-educated MMA fighter, one of the first two Native American women in the House, the first LGBT person to represent Kansas…. Congress has never seen anyone quite like Davids: Cornell Law School-educated MMA fighter, one of the first two Native American women in the House, the first LGBT person to represent Kansas. And yet, while her personal biography is barrier-breaking, Davids’ approach to her first 100 days in office has been exceedingly traditional, marked by deference to leadership and studious attention to the details of legislating…. “I would put her toward the top of the freshman class in terms of doing things the right way,” said Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Illinois, the chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.” • Any Kansas readers care to comment?
2016 Post Mortem
“Judicial Watch Uncovers ‘Cover-Up’ Discussions in Latest Production of Clinton Email Documents” [Judicial Watch]. I’m including this because I don’t think Judicial Watch makes sh*t up. So these are interesting FOIA resutls: “FBI notes of an interview with an unidentified Platte River Networks official in February 2016 (almost a year after the Clinton email network was first revealed) show that Platte River ‘gave someone access to live HRC archive mailbox at some point.’ The same notes show that an email from December 11, 2014, exists that reads ‘Hillary cover up operation work ticket archive cleanup.’ The interviewee said that the ‘cover up operation’ email ‘probably related to change to 60 day [sic] email retention policy/backup.’ The subject indicated that he didn’t ‘recall the prior policy.’ The notes also indicated, ‘[Redacted] advised [redacted] not to answer questions related to conv [conversation] w/DK [David Kendall] document 49 – based on 5th amendment.’ The subject said that ‘everyone @ PRN has access to client portal.’ A December 11, 2014, Platte River Networks email between redacted parties says: ‘Its [sic] all part of the Hillary coverup operation
I’ll have to tell you about it at the party.'” • I suppose “<smile>” means this is all ironic, which tech people often are. Nevertheless!
“Top Hospital Lobbyist Predicts Pelosi Won’t Give “Medicare for All” A Vote” [MapLight]. “Tom Nickels, the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) executive vice president for government relations, spoke at the organization’s annual conference on Monday, a day before Pelosi addressed the same Washington, D.C. ballroom: ‘We’re going to hear again from Mrs. Pelosi tomorrow. She’s trying to thread the needle here, and she understands the difficulty that Medicare for All will provide for her caucus and for some of her members who have to go get re-elected, and my guess is she’s going to be pretty adept in making sure that nothing comes up that harms her members.'” • Oh.
Our Famously Free Press
They issue press releases:
— Current Affairs (@curaffairs) April 14, 2019
Realignment and Legitimacy
“NY’s Oversight Committee head calls for halt on voting machines” [New York Post]. “BOE Executive Director Michael Ryan is also on the hot seat after it was revealed last year that he failed to report several posh business trips paid for by ES&S. He subsequently stepped down from an unpaid gig on the contractor’s advisory board. The BOE wants to use ES&S’ Express Vote XL touch-screen system, which would let voters cast ballots directly on the machine after inserting a blank slip of paper into a slot in the computer.” • “Directly on the machine” is doing a lot of work there…
Simple rule of thumb for election security: If it uses a microchip, it can be manipulated, it’s just a matter of how much time and resources an adversary wants to throw at it.
Hand marked paper ballots (pen and paper) counted by hand with observation is the answer.
— Chris Vickery (@VickerySec) April 13, 2019
* * *
America’s Civic Religion:
the memory of 9/11 is sacred ground. it should only be used to sell shitty light beer and overpriced trucks to small business owners during the super bowl
— Rob Rousseau (@robrousseau) April 13, 2019
SATURDAY: Mid-Hudson Valley DSA will be repairing brake lights free of charge in Poughkeepsie. Please help us end unnecessary police stops and combat the criminalization of poverty.
— Casey Brescia ? (@Caseybdoubt) April 9, 2019
Get on out there and serve the working class!
Good morning!! We’re gonna hit the picket line at the Northampton Stop &Shop at 5:30 today! Join us there, or head to your local store and let these workers know you have their backs! #StopDontShop
— Pioneer Valley DSA? (@PVDemSoc) April 12, 2019
Empire State Manufacturing Survey, April 2019: “The first factory indication for April is solid to mixed” [Econoday]. “There’s more good news than bad news in this report which based alone on new orders is consistent with a healthy pace of growth for a manufacturing sector that, due to weakness in global demand, has been uneven since year end.”
The Bezzle: “Panasonic reconsidering future investments in Tesla Gigafactory” [Today’s Motor Vehicles]. “Panasonic will meet 2019 commitments to boost battery capacity output for Tesla, but the company is reconsidering further investments as it is ‘watching the demand situation’ for electric vehicles (EVs)….The decision won’t hurt Tesla’s ability to grow EV sales this year, but it casts doubt on how much EV demand is growing. In the first quarter of this year, Tesla deliveries badly missed expectations, and EV maker is taking steps that could further limit demand.”
The Bezzle: Good clean fun, but misses Hubert Horan’s amazing work on the financials:
A lot has been said about the Uber IPO prospectus but maybe none as cogent as this FT comment. pic.twitter.com/sa3ACm0zTA
— Colin Charles (@bytebot) April 14, 2019
Tech: “Amazon Workers Are Listening to What You Tell Alexa” [Bloomberg]. “Amazon.com Inc. employs thousands of people around the world to help improve the Alexa digital assistant powering its line of Echo speakers. The team listens to voice recordings captured in Echo owners’ homes and offices. The recordings are transcribed, annotated and then fed back into the software as part of an effort to eliminate gaps in Alexa’s understanding of human speech and help it better respond to commands…. The Alexa voice review process, described by seven people who have worked on the program, highlights the often-overlooked human role in training software algorithms. In marketing materials Amazon says Alexa “lives in the cloud and is always getting smarter.” But like many software tools built to learn from experience, humans are doing some of the teaching.” • Thank heavens nobody’s thought to try an audio Captcha yet.
I remember, when quite young, flipping through the Disney version of Winnie the Pooh. One of the images was of Pooh coming to the door, carrying a popgun. There are, of course, no guns in A.A. Milne’s masterwork, pop or not.
Tech: “Breakingviews – Apple supplier’s rescue leaves Japan red-faced” [Reuters]. “Japan Display’s rescue is an embarrassing necessity for Tokyo. An investor group is buying two thirds of the company for up to 80 billion yen ($714 million), a lowball price for the former national champion. It will fall into foreign hands, some of them Chinese, which could raise red flags. Yet managers have little choice but to pray the deal closes…. Japan Display was created with government funds in 2012. The idea was to fend off South Korean and Taiwanese rivals by merging Hitachi, Sony and Toshiba’s liquid-crystal display units. The deal created the world’s biggest maker of panels used in smartphones and tablet computers, but the company failed to stay competitive. It has lost money every year since 2015…. More than half of Japan Display’s 2018 sales came from Apple.” • Masters of the supply chain!
Everybody! Everybody! I have a new piece out in @XRDS_ACM arguing facial recognition technologies are socially toxic and should be, for all intents and purposes, banned. You might have an opinion about it! https://t.co/h1OMshJ4dn (paywalled, so let me know if you'd like a copy) pic.twitter.com/C7zLU9RAgQ
— Luke Stark PhD (@luke_stark) April 12, 2019
Do any readers have the sort of ACM subscription required to get a copy of this article? If so, could you download and send it to me? (I will handle permissions with the author.)
Concentration: “Revenge Of The Record Labels: How The Majors Renewed Their Grip On Music” [Forbes]. “Left for dead by most investors and pundits, the surviving Big Three labels–Warner, Universal and Sony–have quietly muscled out stakes of the hottest digital entertainment startups, including 10% to 20%, collectively, of the established streaming services, such as Spotify and Rdio. Terms are similarly stark for younger startups: The labels take stakes for free or on the cheap, and then often give themselves the right to buy larger chunks at deep discounts to market later on. It’s not just streaming: The labels have gobbled up pieces of startups ranging from choose-your-own-adventure music video purveyor Interlude to song-recognition giant Shazam–valued at $1 billion in its latest round–which counts Carlos Slim, the second-richest man in the world, among its investors. And what have the labels been giving the startups, aside from legitimacy, to secure these sweetheart deals? All-encompassing access to the artists and their songs–a neat little trick. Sure, the artists derive some minimal amount of royalties from these new channels, but .” • Same old, same old.
Concentration: Funny not funny:
— Disney (@Disney) April 11, 2019
Thinking of global warming targets, mind how little the global average means locally.
Here's what the real global "burden" of warming looks like. 85% of us live where local warming will be larger than the global average. pic.twitter.com/Q2SykNKtmZ
— Kris Karnauskas (@OceansClimateCU) April 2, 2019
“How Tesla and its doctor made sure injured employees didn’t get workers’ comp”” [Reveal News]. “Inside a medical clinic not far from Tesla’s electric car factory, Yvette Bonnet started noting a troubling pattern. The automaker’s workers’ compensation manager would pressure her boss, Dr. Basil Besh, to make sure Tesla wasn’t on the hook for certain injured workers. And in her observation, Besh did whatever he could to not jeopardize his chance to run Tesla’s on-site factory clinic. ‘He would say, ‘I’m not losing the contract over this – get this case closed,” said Bonnet, who was operations manager for Besh’s Access Omnicare clinic in Fremont, California, for about a year. ‘Besh wanted to make certain that we were doing what Tesla wanted so badly,’ she said. ‘He got the priorities messed up. It’s supposed to be patients first.” • Lol, Besh got the priorities exactly right.
News of the Wired
“Cursive Seemed to Go the Way of Quills and Parchment. Now It’s Coming Back.” [New York Times]. “Cursive was also politicized during the Cold War, becoming a display of patriotism. ‘Unbelievably, there were arguments that the fact that American kids couldn’t do cursive made us vulnerable to the Russian menace,’ Dr. Thornton said.” • What’s unbelievable about that? My handwriting used to be just bad; then I had to revise it, so I could work with a pen on my tablet, and it got better. Unfortunately, my signature doesn’t work any more, which has occasionally caused problems…
* * *
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 (PM):
Lovely, modest spring flowers.
* * *
Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So do feel free to make a contribution today or any day. Here is why: Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of small donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals. So if you see something you especially appreciate, do feel free to click this donate button:
Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated. Because it’s new and improved, I’ll leave it up for a few days:
If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!