By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
“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
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Biden (D)(1): Biden’s very first gaffe. Awwwwwww!
“Being middle class is not a number. It’s a value set,” Biden says.
— Sabrina Siddiqui (@SabrinaSiddiqui) April 29, 2019
(Source.) Good question, and the same for being working class.
Biden (D)(2): “Joe Biden is the Best Republican in the Race” [Medium]. “If at a time when the cops steal more from Americans via Civil Asset Forfeiture than robbers do, we choose a man who introduced Comprehensive Forfeiture Act, and continues to support it even without an arrest or conviction, are we really concerned about a police state?” • I had no idea we had Biden to thank for civil asset forfeiture. That’s awesome.
Biden (D)(3): “Recent Poll Showing Biden in Lead Confuses and Distorts Support for Bernie Sanders” [Grit Post]. • Unsurprising. More on the CNN poll:
The headline from the CNN poll is Biden's lead; what pops out to me from the crosstabs is Biden quietly returning to his summer 2015 favorable numbers. He surged only after he decided not to run. pic.twitter.com/yxFnE7FGhw
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) April 30, 2019
Biden (D)(4): [hums] How do you solve a problem like Obama:
Dems either deal with Obama/Biden's fundamentally indefensible record now or Trump will deal with it in the general election. Not a single Dem candidate is honest about the Obama era. https://t.co/5DHWGLBVLZ
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) April 30, 2019
One can hope that the extremely long campaign season will sort this out.
Biden (D)(5): “Twentieth-Century Man” [The Baffler]. “Most of the Democratic candidates last week went with a variation of the “Joe Biden is my friend” line. It’s the idea Biden will be selling, too: that he’s the warm, good-hearted, everyman who will out hustle and outshine Trump. The grief and heartache that Biden has experienced in life—losing his first wife and an infant daughter to a car wreck, and more recently losing his son Beau—make him warm and sympathetic to others who have suffered such grief. And yet, somehow he has not translated his identification with ordinary Americans into much of a record of accomplishment for them, much less to a set of public policies that speaks to our time of racial injustice, inequality, and governmental servility in the face of corporate prerogatives.” • “Somehow” is doing more work there than any adverb should ever be asked to do.
Biden (D)(6): Wowsers:
…and Biden responds in Dubuque to Bernie.
well, responds in his own way.
“We agree on basically everything, all of us running” Biden days of the Dem field (!)
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) May 1, 2019
Not often you get a “(!)” from a New York Times political reporter.
Biden (D)(7): “Joe Biden wants us to forget his past. We won’t” [Adolph Reed and Cornel West, Guardian]. “An unrecognized irony of the South Carolina primary’s current importance as a gauge of African American support is that it and other southern primaries figured prominently in the late 1980s and 1990s strategy of the conservative, pro-business Democratic Leadership Council – of which Biden was a member – to pull the party to the right by appealing to conservative white southern men, in part through stigmatizing and scapegoating poor African Americans. Biden was one of the lustiest practitioners of that tactic. In fact, that’s what often underlies Biden’s boasts about his talent for “reaching across the aisle”. In 1984, he joined with South Carolina’s arch-racist Strom Thurmond to sponsor the Comprehensive Crime Control Act, which eliminated parole for federal prisoners and limited the amount of time sentences could be reduced for good behavior. He and Thurmond joined hands to push 1986 and 1988 drug enforcement legislation that created the nefarious sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine as well as other draconian measures that implicate him as one of the initiators of what became mass incarceration.” • Brutal.
Biden (D)(8): “Assessing who Putin’s preferred 2020 candidate will be” [The Hill]. “Moscow’s disinformation and influence operations will have two primary aims: to help foster confusion and conflict during the U.S. election campaign and to prevent the election of former Vice President Joe Biden.” • Holy moley, it’s starting early!
Buttigieg (D)(1): “Buttigieg makes new effort to talk race, reach black voters” [Associated Press]. Buttigieg: “I’m ready to make sure I’m understanding the concerns that are top of mind for the different audiences I speak to.” Can that dude code-switch, or what?
Buttigieg (D)(2): “In Harlem, Al Sharpton tells Pete Buttigieg to be himself” [Yahoo News]. “When Pete Buttigieg asked Rev. Al Sharpton for advice on campaigning for president in the South’s Bible Belt as an openly gay white man, the civil rights leader responded, ‘I think you should say, ‘I am who I am.’ … ‘We need to deal with homophobia in the faith in the black community,’ said Sharpton.”
Sanders (D)(1): “New Bernie Sanders App Democratizes Organizing” [The Intercept]. “The skepticism appears rooted in (hostility to Sanders and) a basic lack of familiarity with how campaigns work. Voter rolls are public, and the Democratic Party has long been aggregating additional information about voters to aid with fundraising and turnout operations, data that all major campaigns have access to. The difference is that . The party data is generally available to campaign volunteers, but because Sanders lowers the bar to volunteering, more people will now have access to the data. The goal, though, is to get more people to vote for Sanders, not to attack Sanders opponents. To that end, they’ll be relying heavily on supporters.’We don’t think, in the national office, that we have all of the answers,’ Sanders said. ‘Trust me, we don’t. Every person out there knows your own community better than we do. Can you put on a concert, can you have a potluck event? Whatever it may be, bring people together. Develop a sense of community, reach out to people who might feel uncomfortable about being involved in politics.'” • If you want to expand the base — and surely that’s a necessity — then you have to get contact information for people you don’t already know about. Now, I can imagine very bad narratives emerging from a plant or a mole in the Sander volunteer community. But I don’t think that’s a systemic issue, and for Obama and Clinton loyalists in a moral panic, I don’t see a difference between this tool and Obama’s tool in 2012, or OFA, for that matter. Here is a thread on the Sanders tool (and database backend or “voter file”) and the DNC VAN tool (and database):
For those believing or making accusations, based on 2015 DNC false info, of why Bernie launched #BernApp voter database, instead of using shared DNC VAN voter file database, here are facts why Bernie needed separate voter file database from #DNC.#Vote #Bernie2020 #Montana
— Kathryn QannaYahu (@KatQannayahu) April 30, 2019
What I would really like to see is a video demonstrating how to step through the screens, and exactly what the screens are.
Sanders (D)(2): “Dozens Of Civil Rights Groups Ask Presidential Candidates To Support Letting People In Prison Vote” [HuffPo]. “More than 70 civil rights and advocacy groups are urging candidates seeking the presidency to allow people to vote while they are incarcerated, signing an open letter on Tuesday to push an issue already dividing the Democratic field. Only Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has said people incarcerated should be able to vote. He is the only 2020 presidential candidate so far to take that stance.” • We’ll see what happens in the general when the Willie Horton ads start rolling out, but what Sanders has just shown primary black voters is that he’s willing to take the hit for a principled, risky stand that benefits them.
Sanders (D)(3): Watch with the sound down:
Rich CNN anchor dismisses people who lose their healthcare due to job loss or being fired. The disdain on her face listening to Bernie says everything you need to know.#LetThemEatCake pic.twitter.com/9k5P24NvOJ
— citizen uprising (@cit_uprising) April 30, 2019
“We Asked All Of The 2020 Presidential Candidates Their Thoughts On Vaccines. Here’s What They Said.” [Buzzfeed]. Good idea!
The Civility Police beat down another unsuspecting citizen:
Here's that clip from @maddow on the Indivisible 2020 Pledge. Since last night, Beto signed too – that brings us up to 12 of the 20 candidates! We'll keep on them until we get all 20. https://t.co/0gvBCDkD03
— Ezra Levin (@ezralevin) April 30, 2019
Actually, I think the “Candidate Pledge” (the Indivisible page is a little hazy on what the name of the pledge actually is). Rule #1: “Make the primary constructive.” Surely being constructive includes — nay, necessitates! — creative destruction?
Realignment and Legitimacy
Me: (dumb guy): Absolutist monarchism is antithetical to liberalism. The CIA installation of the Shah in the 1953 coup in Iran was a shameful moment in American foreign policy.
Center for American Progress (smart think tank): https://t.co/i3h3y7IxFJ
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) April 28, 2019
The group portrait is such a nice touch.
“Schumer says Trump and Democrats agreed to $2 trillion figure on infrastructure” [CBS]. “A Democratic aide confirmed there was “not a single mention” of oversight, subpoenas or investigations in the meeting, and Mr. Trump even shared some white Tic-Tacs with the speaker, which he has done before.” • Apparently, as with Bush and Michelle, all you have to do to get a Democrat to roll over — Trump is, let us remember, a senile lunatic, a fascist, a white nationalist, The World’s Worst Human™, and not a legitimate candidate — is offer them candy. Good to know.
ADP Employment Report, April 2019: “ADP sees private payrolls coming in [robustly] and much stronger-than-expected” [Econoday].
Purchasing Managers Manufacturing Index, April 2019: “Marginal improvement” [Econoday]. “New orders are at a 3-month high with backlog orders on the rise. Yet demand for exports, amid what the report describes as “trade tensions and slowing foreign demand” remains subdued. And hiring, held back by what the report says is a lack of skilled labor, was the slowest in nearly two years with production growth among the lowest of the last two years.”
Institute For Supply Management Manufacturing Index, April 2019: “In the weakest report in nearly two years, the April ISM manufacturing index came in far below expectations” [Econoday]. “[T]here are pluses in the report including a 3.5 point rise in total backlog orders….. This report is focused on strongly by not only forecasters and policy makers but also by the financial markets. Though one month is only one month, the results are likely to raise talk that the performance of the nation’s factory sector, which has been uneven since late last year, may begin holding back the 2019 economy.”
Construction Spending, March 2019: “much weaker than expected” [Econoday]. “in an unfavorable indication on discretionary spending and demand for building materials, spending on home improvements fell.”
MBA Mortgage Applications, week of April 26, 2019: Down sharply [Econoday]. “March was a very strong month for the housing market, evidenced not only by prior data on the month’s new and existing home sales but also yesterday’s surprisingly strong jump in the month’s pending home sales index. Yet April, based at least on this report’s purchase index, looks to have slowed significantly.”
Banks: “Bad Credit Card Debt Is on the Rise” [Bloomberg]. “The charge-off rate — the percentage of loans companies have decided they’ll never collect — rose to 3.82 percent in the first three months of 2019, the highest since the second quarter of 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence. And loans 30 days past due, a harbinger of future write-offs, increased at all seven of the largest U.S. card issuers.”
Banks: “The past, present and future of banking” [Tim Harford]. • Some capsule book reviews. More books to read!
Tech: “Facebook Wants to Connect You with Your ‘Secret Crush'” [Wired]. • No.
Via Blame It on the Voices, from 2011:
2011 is early and right.
“U.S. Snowfall in 2018-19: The Haves and the Have Nots” [Weather Underground]. “The season of 2018-2019 produced exceptional snowfall in the Upper Midwest, Sierra Nevada, and northern Rockies, all of which saw record to near-record accumulations. Northern Maine also experienced deep snowfall, while for the rest of the nation it was a more average season snow-wise.” • Hence the Upper Midwest flooding.
“Twentieth-century hydroclimate changes consistent with human influence” [Nature]. “Multiple observational datasets and reconstructions using data from tree rings confirm that human activities were probably affecting the worldwide risk of droughts as early as the beginning of the twentieth century.”
“Iowa DNR goes year without permanent leader” [The Gazette]. “Thursday marks one year since the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has been without a permanent director, a lapse causing questions from environmental advocates about a lack of direction and advocacy for water quality and conservation efforts…. President Donald Trump recently said he likes acting directors in his administration because they give him more flexibility. But governance experts say companies or agencies can drift without a permanent leader. Max Stier, president and chief executive officer of the Partnership for Public Service, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit focused on effective governance, compared an acting director to a substitute teacher. ‘Formally, the substitute teacher has all the authority of the regular full-time teacher, but they’re not treated that way,’ Stier told Vox for an April 11 story. ‘They’re not treated that way by people on the outside, their students, other teachers, and they don’t self-perceive that they have that same authority.'” • Kudos to Austin Frerick for continuing to push these, and monopoly, issues for rural Iowa. It’s, er, smart considering Iowa’s 2020 role.
Step inside this massive cave labyrinth hidden under Borneo [National Geographic]. “[T]he limestone underlying [Borneo’s rainforest], beneath Malaysia’s Gunung Mulu National Park, is riddled with some of the biggest holes, widest tunnels, and most mind-blowing voids anywhere on Earth. If you are the kind of explorer who enjoys crawling down into wet, hot darkness in order to find more wet, hot darkness, Borneo is a dreamland, a Disneyland, and a Neverland, all in one….”• Gorgeous photographs and well worth a read (especially for those who took an interest in the Thai cave boys story last year).
PNHP’s live thread on the House Rules Committee hearings:
And we're live! Today's @RulesDemocrats hearing on @RepJayapal's #MedicareForAll Act has been a long time coming. Follow the hearings on @cspan and stay with PNHP for further #SinglePayer insights on this historic day. https://t.co/NZI49cjLe0
— PNHP (@PNHP) April 30, 2019
Jim McGovern to a room of staffers after the Medicare for All hearing:
“I gotta tell you: That went a helluva lot better than I thought it would.”
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) April 30, 2019
One thing seems clear: Barkan’s presence (enabled by pushback from the left on the original witness list) changed the dynamic. Since I find it hard to believe Pelosi connected Barkan to McGovern out of the goodness of her heart, if any, I’d like to know the back-story here….
“Democrats paper over rifts at ‘Medicare for All’ hearing” [Politico]. “The show of unity could be short-lived. National Nurses United — which is closely allied with the Congressional Progressive Caucus — quickly seized on the hearing to urge Pelosi to bring Medicare for All legislation to the House floor for a vote…. That rallying cry threatens to intensify in the coming weeks. The Congressional Budget Office will publish an analysis Wednesday on the single-payer concept, and House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth told POLITICO his panel will hold its own hearing on Medicare expansion proposals in late May.” • The issue here, unless things have changes since the 2009-2010 ObamaCare debacle, is CBO scoring can only consider effects on the Federal budget; it cannot consider whether #MedicareForAll nets out positive for the country as a whole.
“Gingerly, Democrats Give ‘Medicare for All’ an Official Moment” [New York Times]. “Yet the hearing — and the prospective hearing by the Ways and Means committee — also reflected Medicare for all’s progress from a fringe view to one firmly within the Democratic Party mainstream…. ‘I know this is a politically hazardous topic to go down the road on,’ said Mr. McGovern, near the end of the hearing. ‘But we have to do it.'” • Especially before Trump 2.0 steals it.
“Ady Barkan makes a moral case for single payer at first-ever Medicare for All hearing” [Think Progress]. “Barkan repeatedly made the moral argument for Medicare for All: if there’s agreement that health care is a human right and the status quo doesn’t treat it as such, let’s do something now. When faced with questions about costs, Barkan asked why politicians don’t ask where the money comes from when it’s about funding war. When asked about employer-sponsored insurance, he asked why other rights like education aren’t tethered to jobs…. rejecting the of Medicare for All, Barkan called on lawmakers to act now.” • Liberal Democrats have only interpreted the world…..
“Ways and Means Committee to hold hearing on ‘Medicare for All'” [The Hill]. “Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the primary co-sponsor of the House Medicare for All legislation, told reporters Tuesday that committee chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) has pledged to hold a hearing sometime in the future. The bill from Jayapal and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) has more than 100 co-sponsors in the House. The House Rules Committee on Tuesday held the first-ever hearing on Medicare for All, but it is not one of the primary committees overseeing health care. The other health care panel, the Energy and Commerce Committee, has so far declined to commit to holding a hearing on Medicare for All, illustrating the divide among House Democrats over the legislation.” • This is a big deal.
“Medicare for All and the Myth of Free Markets” [The American Conservative]. An effective indictment of the calamitous current system, followed by this: “What can bring down prices? Genuine competition.” • Which would be why every other major
industrialcivilized nation has made this ideological choice. Oh, wait…
I don’t see how this can be right:
LMAO — our private health insurance companies aren’t just greedy and evil, but so incompetent!
— All On Medicare (@AllOnMedicare) February 28, 2019
I don’t see how Anthem can just announce, unilaterally, that a contract is wrong, and if the contract was wrong, I don’t see now nothing changed with my benefits. Am I not getting this?
“Is health-care data the new blood?” [Lancet]. “We propose that health-care data records are digital specimens and should be treated with the same rigour, care, and caution afforded to physical medical specimens. We advocate that the use of these digital samples be limited to validated and beneficial uses for the donor and that patient privacy be fully protected.” • This is brilliant framing.
Uber Strike on May 8.
DO NOT ORDER AN UBER. DO NOT BE A SCAB. SUPPORT THE STRIKERS.
— The Dollop (@thedollop) April 29, 2019
“Uber’s $9 billion IPO rests on drivers’ 80-plus hour workweeks and a lot of waiting” [The Conversation]. “Uber’s aim to provide consumers a ride within five minutes of a click was considered a key differentiator from taxis even before it launched in 2009. That availability necessitates a legion of essentially full-time drivers who spend many unpaid hours waiting – not “chilling” – until a fare comes their way. Drivers are only paid once they pick up a passenger. Every minute they spend waiting for a pickup or even driving to meet a rider they are simply losing money.”
News of the Wired
“Caster Semenya Loses Case to Compete as a Woman in All Races” [New York Times]. “The highest court in international sports issued a landmark but nuanced ruling on Wednesday that will force female track athletes with elevated levels of testosterone to take suppressants to compete in certain women’s races at major international events like the Olympics…. Restrictions on permitted levels of naturally occurring testosterone are discriminatory, the court ruled Wednesday in a 2-to-1 decision. But, the panel added, such discrimination is a “necessary, reasonable and proportionate means” of achieving track and field’s goal of preserving the integrity of women’s competition.” • Hmm. This should kick off some discussion.
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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 (Bodhi Sattva):
Bodhi Sattva writes: “Harvest in the spring and late fall, roots winter over with last winter only killing off ~50% of planted Cicoria Grumolo Rosa. Last fall I got two harvests as we didn’t get a hard freeze until almost Christmas. Cut to crown late August for fall harvest, spring takes care of itself. Yum.” And what a lovely color palette!
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