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
“2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination” [RealClearPolitics] (average of five polls). As of July 25: Biden up at 29.3% (
28.6), Sanders flat at 15.0% ( 15.0%), Warren down at 14.5% ( 15.0%), Buttigieg flat at 5.0% ( 5.0%), Harris down 11.8% ( 12.2%), others Brownian motion. Harris reminds me of Clinton, in that her numbers are like a hot air balloon, which sinks unless air is pumped into it.
Biden (D)(1): “Biden’s Medicare Lie” [Jacobin]. “Speaking at a forum sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons in Iowa earlier this month, Joe Biden fearmongered about Medicare for All. ‘Medicare goes away as you know it,’ said Biden. Under Bernie Sanders’s plan, ‘All the Medicare you have is gone.’… It’s clever politics, but it’s a total lie. Medicare for All does exactly what it says in the name: it extends the benefits associated with Medicare to the rest of the population…. Medicare for All would effectively be a Social Security income boost of thousands of dollars per year to seniors. It accomplishes this by eliminating all co-pays, premiums, and deductibles; by covering all long-term care costs for seniors; and by capping prescription drug costs at $200 a year…. All told, the US government only pays for 65 percent of seniors’ medical spending right now. Medicare for All would make that nearly 100 percent.” • 65%? Yikes. That’s a rip-off!
Buttigieg (D)(1): “Pete Buttigieg calls white supremacy a lurking danger” [Des Moines Register]. • So maybe he should fix his police department before running for President?
Delaney (D)(1): “Delaney proposes ambitious mandatory national service plan” [CNN]. “Several 2020 candidates, including Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg have proposed national service initiatives tied to college tuition or job training, but Delaney’s ambitious proposal, which would provide up to three years of free college tuition for those who participate in public service projects, is the first to mandate youth participation in service…. [I]nstead of offering voluntary service, it would be compulsory for all Americans upon high school graduation or upon turning 18. The proposal would apply only to those born after 2006, and would phase in over time, according to the campaign. The plan would provide two years of free tuition at a public college or university, and three years of tuition for those who extended their national service year to two years. Tuition could also be applied to vocational or technical training, the Delaney campaign told reporters.” • Who asked for this?
Yesterday I announced that, as president, I’ll establish a student loan debt forgiveness program for Pell Grant recipients who start a business that operates for three years in disadvantaged communities. https://t.co/ldwuC9RiIE
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) July 28, 2019
So, complex eligibility requirements that filter for a small number of the deserving. What’s not to like? Wierdly, the campaign site frames this program as “Investing in HBCUs And Black Entrepreneurship,” and not as a universal program at all. Does Harris even know what she ostensibly believes?
Harris (D)(2): “Kamala Harris Unveils ‘Medicare For All’ Plan That Preserves Private Insurance” [Bloomberg]. “Under her proposal, Americans could opt for Medicare Advantage, a program that allows beneficiaries to get coverage from a private insurer. Harris’s plan would put all Americans into Medicare over a 10-year transition period while allowing the participation of private insurance plans under a set of rules.” • After the student loan debt forgiveness debacle, no wonder Harris rolled this out. But Harris seems more than a little nimble in her positioning:
In which Jake asks Kamala Harris whether people would be able to keep their private insurance, if they prefer, under Medicare For All system — and she rejects that. "Let's eliminate all of that. Let's move on." pic.twitter.com/A1AY2TOT4g
— Rebecca Buck (@RebeccaBuck) January 29, 2019
Harris has also put herself on the same side as Trump:
Here’s Trump official @SeemaCMS last week bashing Medicare for All and public option – essentially Bernie and Biden plans – as “largest threats” to US health care.
But in same speech, praising Medicare Advantage as model. pic.twitter.com/VFKcbEL4lc
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) July 29, 2019
Perhaps that was the goal. Both Delaney and Harris seem to be sending messages to donors, not voters.
Sanders (D)(1): Just another Bernie Bro:
— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) July 26, 2019
On the Bern App profile page, under religion, there are many religions listed but NOT Eastern Orthodox. That will be a problem. Especially in Alaska. @fshakir
— Alice Marshall (@PrestoVivace) July 28, 2019
Warren (D)(1): “Warren: I would’ve accepted a VP offer from Clinton” [Clinton]. From a Bloomberg long form piece, where I missed this: “Warren — who declined to launch her own presidential bid 2½ years ago despite intense efforts by progressives to draft her — even received a “full vetting” for the vice presidential slot by Clinton’s team and was interviewed at the candidate’s Whitehaven mansion in Washington, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Clinton ‘seriously weighed’ Warren as a potential running mate, the report states, and top aide Philippe Reines wrote in a memo to his boss after their meeting: ‘If a crystal ball said she wouldn’t antagonize you for four years, it’s hard to argue she isn’t the most helpful for the next four months to get you elected.’ Asked whether she would have agreed to become Clinton’s No. 2 on the ticket, Warren responded: “Yes.'” • This explains a lot. But opportunity didn’t knock…
* * *
“Democratic 2020 race up for grabs: Half of voters have changed their minds since spring, poll shows” [Politico]. “The volatility has a limit, however. The vast majority of voters who switched since April moved among the top four candidates or between them and undecided status. The mass of candidates languishing at 1% or lower hasn’t benefited.” • No Trump-like breakout figure on the Democrat side so far.
“DCCC in ‘complete chaos’ as uproar over diversity intensifies” [Politico (RH)]. “POLITICO reported last week that black and Hispanic lawmakers are furious with Bustos’ stewardship of the campaign arm. They say the upper echelon of the DCCC is bereft of diversity, and it is not doing enough to reach Latino voters and hire consultants of color. In addition, several of Bustos’ senior aides have left in the first six months of her tenure, including her chief of staff — a black woman — and her director of mail and polling director, both women.” • In other words, DCCC should become more like the Sanders campaign?
“Pelosi backers feel vindicated after tumultuous stretch” [The Hill]. “Part of Pelosi’s strategy in the first seven months of the new Congress has been to protect vulnerable centrists like O’Halleran and freshman Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Max Rose (D-N.Y.) and Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) — the so-called majority-makers — whom Republicans will be targeting in 2020 in a bid to retake the House.” • (Spanberger and Rose are MILOs; all three are Blue Dogs. We’ll see how Pelosi’s DINO strategy works out, I guess.
Realignment and Legitimacy
“The Ultra-Rich Are Ultra-Conservative” [Jacobin]. “Billionaires are a politically active bunch…. Between 2001 and the end of 2012, 92 percent of the country’s hundred richest billionaires (combined wealth: $2.2 trillion) contributed to a political cause…. Yet they’re also eerily quiet…. As the trio of political scientists write, ‘many or most billionaires appear to favor, and quietly work for, policies that are opposed by large majorities of Americans’.” • Well worth a read. Since it would be irresponsible not to speculate, what if the 0.1% were “eerily quiet” about being pro-Jackpot? Just thinking big, as billionaires do, and thinking bigger than relatively minor efforts like gutting Social Security.
Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey, July 2019: “Texas manufacturing activity bounced back but not as much expected in July” [Econoday]. “The survey’s demand indicators were mixed but mostly stronger…. Today’s report shows Texas manufacturing recovering in July from June’s slide more strongly than the headline suggests, and will probably not strengthen the case for more accommodation by the Fed.”
Shipping: “Carriers across the sector are throttling back profit projections for 2019 as they wrestle with the hangover from last year’s freight boom” [Wall Street Journal]. “Freight demand isn’t far off last year’s high levels, but rates have been sinking. Measures of spot-pricing for truckload business are down by double digits from last year, and customers are cutting shipping costs rather than looking for trucks.”
The Bezzle: “California steers toward a future of self-driving cars” [CalMatters]. “The future can be glimpsed at a former Navy base near the Bay Area city of Concord, converted to the nation’s largest autonomous-vehicle proving ground where computer-driven cars are let off their leashes and are free to roam across 2,100 acres. The facility, GoMentum Station, run by the American Automobile Association, is an innovation hive where Silicon Valley marries its futuristic vision to the automobile industry’s traditional know-how. • OK… More: “But it’s a significant step from allowing testing of automated cars in protected, supervised settings to unleashing them solo on the road, which experts say remains on a far horizon. There is much to be perfected: how best to turn left in traffic, for example, a maneuver that bedevils many human drivers.” • Wait. After many billions, we don’t have an algo to turn left in traffic?
Rapture Index: Closes down one on Israel. “Israel Has been generally quiet the past few weeks.” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.
“Coase, Hotelling and Pigou: The Incidence of o Carbon Tax and CO2 Emissions” [Geoffrey Heal, Wolfram Schlenker NBER Working Paper 26086]. “Using data from a large proprietary database of field-level oil data, we show that as the supply curve is very steep for high oil prices and few reserves drop out. The supply curve flattens out for lower price, and the effect of an increased carbon tax becomes larger. For example, a carbon price of 600 dollars would reduce cumulative emissions by 60%. On the flip side, a global cap and trade system that limits global extraction by a modest amount like 4% expropriates a large fraction of scarcity rents and would imply a high permit price of $200. The tax incidence varies over time: initially, about 75% of the carbon price will be passed on to consumers, but this share declines through time and even becomes negative as oil prices will drop in future years relative to a case of no carbon tax. The net present value of producer and consumer surplus decrease by roughly equal amounts, which are almost entirely offset by increased tax revenues.” •
“Even a summer heat wave can’t light up fading natural gas prices. Some of the country’s largest natural gas producers are tearing up their drilling plans…. as natural-gas futures tumble to multiyear lows just as the calendar and the climate suggest rates should be rising” [Wall Street Journal]. “Producers point to the Permian Basin in West Texas, where oil producers are unleashing vast volumes of gas as a byproduct of drilling for crude. That’s offsetting high demand from utilities that are shifting from coal to gas, and even all-time high exports to Mexico and other overseas markets. , meaning that producers have to pay pipeline operators more to deliver gas to market than what the fuel fetches once it reaches buyers.
“Deforestation in the Amazon is shooting up, but Brazil’s president calls the data ‘a lie'” [Science]. “Deforestation is shooting up again in the Brazilian Amazon, according to satellite monitoring data. But Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, whom many blame for the uptick, has disputed the trend and attacked the credibility of Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which produced the data. Bolsonaro called the numbers ‘a lie’ during a 19 July breakfast talk with journalists, and suggested INPE Director Ricardo Galvão was ‘at the service of some [nongovernmental organization].’ ‘With all the devastation you accuse us of doing and having done in the past, the Amazon would be extinguished already,’ he said.” • Hmm. “[S]ome [nongovernmental organization]”?
“Climate Change in a Coastal County: Think Global, Act Hyperlocal” [Pew Trusts Stateline]. “[T]oday, sea level rise in Dare County [North Carolina] is among the most precipitous in the nation, an average 0.18 inches a year in some parts, enough that scientists come from around the world to study the land… The resilience projects will carry the community only so far. Beach nourishment, for example, typically lasts five to seven years — though a single hurricane this fall could wipe out all the millions of dollars of new sand laid this summer. At some point, Nags Head and other Dare County communities will hit a tipping point and decide the return isn’t worth the investment. ‘I don’t know when that day is,’ said [Mayor Ben Cahoon, a Republican], the mayor. ‘But it’s out there.’ When that happens, [Reide Corbett, a coastal oceanographer and geochemist] said, communities will have to approach a final step in coastal resilience: retreat. Just move folks inland and out of danger entirely.”
“Why the ending of Game of Thrones elevated the worst of fan culture” [Vox]. “‘Curatorial fandom’ is a general term for the area of geek culture that emphasizes amassing as much canonical knowledge as possible, no matter how minute… The other side of fandom is “transformative fandom.” If curatorial fandom is about enshrining an authorial version of canon, transformative fandom is about changing it. Transformative fandom is centered on fanworks, like fanfiction, fan art, or fan critique, all of which use the source text as the jumping-off point for original interpretations. The idea of “transformative fandom” is a core concept of fanworks-based fandom because transformativity is part of the legal framework that protects fanfiction (i.e. it’s a “transformative work”)….. Bran embodies the stereotype of a fannish geek who spends his entire day sitting surfing the internet…. Bran is a human database of facts and knowledge that he acquired from ‘reading’ the history/canon presented to him through his nebulous abilities as the Three-Eyed Raven. Not only that, but his first official act as king was to essentially go gaming in search of Drogon the dragon, while Tyrion and the small council were left to run the kingdom. These characteristics and behaviors make Bran easy to read as an avatar for curatorial fandom.” • Fandom is alien territory to me, but this certainly sounds plausible.
“Turning 26 Is A Potential Death Sentence For People With Type 1 Diabetes In America” [Buzzfeed]. “Laverty faces a health care problem unique to many millennials with Type 1 diabetes who’ve been booted off their parents’ stable health insurance. The price of insulin, the drug that keeps them alive, tripled in the US from 2002 to 2013 — and a recent study found that, from 2012 to 2016, its average annual cost increased from $3,200 to $5,900…. That’s an impossible price tag for a generation still feeling the effects of the 2008 financial crisis and saddled with massive student loan debt and increasing housing costs. Studies show that US millennials are far worse off financially than previous generations, with an average net worth below $8,000. The result is that these young adults are rationing, stockpiling, and turning to the black market for the medication they need to stay alive — incredibly risky and desperate measures that could result in long-term harm or death.” • So Obama’s much-beloved policy of letting adult children stay on their parents’ policies until the random age of 26 — why not 25? of 27? — turns out to be an ancien regime-like added layer of complexity that fails the people who need it most. Everything’s going according to plan!
People love their health insurance companies:
Dear Blue Cross Blue Shield,
Thank you for your help during this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/HV017ntjQC
— Nate Charny (@natecharny) July 19, 2019
An ObamaCare navigator speaks:
When I got a job as an ACA 'navigator' to help people who'd never had it sign up for & use health insurance, and the vast majority of them (myself included) could only afford the lowest-tier, most bare bones plans. Just disappointing people all day long.
— erik (@erikdstock) May 5, 2019
The “When did you become radicalized by the U.S. health care non-system?” is an important archive of horror stories.
Neera’s plan (Medicare Extra):
Therapist: And what do we do when the Center for American Progress keeps pushing a healthcare plan that would still cost people up to $1500?
Me: Point out how offensive it is to call that “progress” when most Americans don’t have even $1000 for emergencies
Therapist: Wow yeah
— DSA for Medicare for All (@dsam4a) July 23, 2019
“Judge OKs Trump’s expansion of short-term plans” [Modern Health Care]. “A federal judge on Friday ruled the Trump administration’s expansion of so-called short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans can move ahead, rejecting an insurer group’s attempt to strike down the move. The plaintiff, the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, immediately said it will appeal. The group represents not-for-profit health plans deeply invested in the Affordable Care Act exchanges…. The rule, finalized in August 2018 and in effect since early October 2018, allows up to 12 months of coverage through short-term plans. People can renew this coverage for up to 36 months. The plans don’t have to cover people with pre-existing conditions, nor are they subject to the ACA’s mandates such as coverage for the 10 essential benefits, includinge mental healthcare, maternity care and prescription drugs.”
“The Effects on Hospital Utilization of the 1966 and 2014 Health Insurance Coverage Expansions in the United States” [Annals of Internal Medicine]. From the abstract: “Past coverage expansions were associated with little or no change in society-wide hospital use; increases in groups who gained coverage were offset by reductions among others, suggesting that bed supply limited increases in use. Reducing coverage may merely shift care toward wealthier and healthier persons. Conversely, universal coverage is unlikely to cause a surge in hospital use if growth in hospital capacity is carefully constrained.”
“Blue-Collar Workers Had Greatest Insurance Gains After ACA Implementation” [Health Affairs]. From the abstract: “Analyzing national survey data, we found that workers in traditionally blue-collar industries (service jobs, farming, construction, and transportation) experienced the largest gains in health insurance after implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014. Compared to other occupations, these had lower employer-based coverage rates before the ACA. Most of the post-ACA coverage gains came from Medicaid and directly purchased nongroup insurance.”
“Health websites are notoriously misleading. So we rated their reliability” [STAT News]. “NewsGuard was co-founded last year by journalist and entrepreneur Steven Brill (known in part for his health care reporting) and former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz. In rating news and information sites in the U.S., Italy, U.K., France, and Germany, it has discovered a diverse spectrum of health sites. These range from green-rated peer-reviewed medical journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine to hundreds of red-rated conspiracy-minded sites such as NaturalNews.com and Collective-Evolution.com…. This plague of health misinformation comes in many fevers, from the seemingly innocuous (there is no solid evidence behind the idea that Epsom salt baths heal sore muscles) to the potentially dangerous (if you take amygdalin, vitamin B17, or laetrile, different names for the same long-debunked “cancer cure” made from fruit pits, you can experience side effects that mirror the symptoms of cyanide poisoning).”
Our Famously Free Press
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette boss J.R. Block sounds like a real piece of work. Thread:
Since it’s out there, next week will be my last at the Post-Gazette. It’s been a privilege to work with talented journalists who have covered intensely challenging stories (the Tree of Life massacre, local fallout from Catholic clergy sex abuse, Antwon Rose) with humanity. (1/) https://t.co/BhmFEatJgW
— Trevor Lenzmeier (@trevlenz) July 27, 2019
Police State Watch
“Lafayette public defender found in contempt after filming duct taping of defendant” [Acadiana Advocate]. “[Michael Gregory, a] Lafayette public defender was found in contempt of court Friday after filming a bailiff duct taping a defendant during a sentencing hearing July 18…. [Amanda Koons, a public defender in the Harris County Public Defender’s Office in Houston said] she’s never seen physical force like what occurred July 18. She said duct taping someone isn’t appropriate or humane, especially when the option to temporarily remove the defendant from the courtroom exists.” • Plus, they had the duct tape handy. I don’t imagine they drove to a hardware store to get some.
Black Injustice Tipping Point
A walking tour of Charlottesville’s monuments (mostly Confederate); thread:
Saturday, July 27, 8:30 am (when it's cool!): Dr. Andrea Douglas of @JSAAHC & I will lead a walking tour of #Charlottesville's downtown Confederate monuments & the newly-installed @eji_org historical plaque for lynching victim John Henry James. Meet at courthouse on Jefferson St. pic.twitter.com/EmGxeT75ak
— Jalane Smash the Fash Schmidt 👩🏾🏫📢 (@Jalane_Schmidt) July 24, 2019
Jeffrey Epstein was Cosmo magazines' July Bachelor of the Month, in 1980 pic.twitter.com/aAsCDzwWJq
— Historic.ly (@historic_ly) July 29, 2019
News of the Wired
Speaking of collapse:
Why not “dark ages”? Why Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages matter? This is an experiment trying to argue for it in 10 tweets (w/footnotes). It is subjective, but hopefully balanced. Not meant to replace, but to inspire other (twitter) takes on the subject. A thread. (a) 1/ pic.twitter.com/FmH31TysPh
— Mateusz Fafinski (@Calthalas) July 8, 2019
“Another side of Samuel Beckett” [Guardian]. • A long form piece on Beckett’s life. Who knew he played cricket? Well worth a read and might expand his fan base!
“Tokyo subway’s humble duct-tape typographer” [Medium]. “Sixty-five year old Sato san wears a crisp canary yellow uniform, reflective vest and polished white helmet. His job is to guide rush hour commuters through confusing and hazardous construction areas. When Sato san realised he needed more than his megaphone to perform this duty, he took it upon himself to make some temporary signage. With a few rolls of of duct tape and a craft knife, he has elevated the humble worksite sign to an art form…. Sato san’s purpose is simple: he strives to make life better for the millions of commuters who negotiate station construction sites. His unassuming dedication to craft and service embodies the best side of the Japanese approach to work.”
“Grasshoppers invade Las Vegas thanks to Luxor hotel light beam” [Yahoo News]. • Nature’s buffet!
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