By Lambert Strether of Corrente
“How Trump Is Sabotaging Trade’s Ultimate Tribunal” [Bloomberg]. “As the U.S. wages its global trade war, companies and governments alike are taking notice of a little-known unit of the World Trade Organization that, if President Donald Trump’s administration has its way, will soon cease to function. The WTO’s appellate body, the preeminent forum for settling worldwide trade disputes, may no longer have the capacity to issue new rulings by year-end, which critics warn will undermine the WTO’s ability to resolve conflicts among its 164 members and will usher in an era where economic might trumps international law…. Lighthizer told U.S. lawmakers this year that his ultimate goal is to reform the WTO and sees the appellate body impasse as a form of leverage in pushing his agenda forward.” • And, as usual, this Administration is intensifying what the previous admininistration began.
“A Democrat Floats Options to Trump’s Trade Tactics” [Bloomberg]. “[T]he plan Elizabeth Warren released Monday is interesting, even if it reads less like a bold vision document than a treatise on process…. Warren does not say how she herself would tackle China, or what she would do with Trump’s tariffs. But she lays out elements of an attack. ‘We’ve let China get away with the suppression of pay and labor rights, poor environmental protections, and years of currency manipulation.’
“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 30: Biden up at 32.0% (
31.8), Sanders jumps to 16.25Q ( 15.4%), Warren flqt at 14.0% ( 14.0%), Buttigieg flat at 5.6% ( 5.7%), Harris flat at 11.5% ( 11.4%), others Brownian motion. Sanders opens a little daylight between him and Warren, for the first time in two weeks. Also, look at the polls themselves;
Interestingly, Morning Consult has Sanders as a strong second, and not ‘tied” with Warren at all. It’s Quinnipiac and Economist/YouGov, when averaged in, that are creating that storyline. Makes me wonder what the campaign internals are saying. Note that if Sanders is a strong second, that’s in spite of the press, and quite the reverse for Warren.
Harris (D)(1): “Oddly Specific Kamala Harris Policy Generator” [@ne0liberal]. My result: “Yesterday, I announced that, as president, I’ll establish a school lunch program for games journalists who open a mini golf that operates for 15 days in Greenwich Village.” • It’s about ethics in miniature golf.
Sanders (D)(1): “”You can’t call this plan Medicare for All”: The Bernie Sanders camp pans Kamala Harris’s health care plan” [Vox]. “The differences between Harris’s plan and Sanders’s plan come down to two main factors. First, it’s phased-in over 10 years, versus Sanders’s four. And Harris’s would allow private insurers to compete within the government-run program, similar to the way that Medicare Advantage currently works for older adults’ plans. Sanders’s plan effectively eliminates private insurance.” • Why ten years? Why not fifteen? Meanwhile, Neera Tanden is just as nimble as Kamala Harris:
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) July 30, 2019
Sanders (D)(2): Theory of change:
The billionaire class will be behind Trump with endless amounts of money. We need an energized population of young people, working-class people and people of color—and the largest voter turnout by far in history—to beat him. And our campaign is going to do that.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 30, 2019
Note this is not Warren’s theory of change, though she might be able to simulate it with #Resistance-style events dominated by professionals.
Sanders (D)(3): “Bernie Sanders: As a child, rent control kept a roof over my head” [CNN]. “I was born and raised in a three-and-a-half room apartment in Brooklyn. My father was a paint salesman who worked hard his entire life, but never made much money. This was not a life of desperate poverty — but coming from a lower middle-class family, I will never forget how money, or really lack of money, was always a point of stress in our home… [O]ur family was always able to afford a roof over our heads, because we were living in a rent-controlled building. That most minimal form of economic security was crucial for our family. Today, that same ability to obtain affordable housing is now denied to millions of Americans.”
* * *
“Democratic debate in Detroit: 7 things to watch for on Night 1” [Los Angeles Times]. “Although Sanders and Warren have a similarly adversarial approach to Wall Street — and both believe in eliminating private health insurance in favor of the type of government-run programs implemented in other Western democracies — they have very different political philosophies. Warren has called herself a “capitalist to my bones” who usually believes that markets just need to be better regulated; Sanders sees democratic socialism as the solution to fighting authoritarianism and plutocracy. A debate would normally be the kind of place where you’d see political candidates try to sharpen those sorts of differences, like how California Sen. Kamala Harris took on Biden over his position decades ago on busing for school desegregation in the last debate. But with so many candidates on the stage, Warren and Sanders could just as easily avoid each other if they don’t see an upside in picking a fight.” • Remember their constituencies are less than overlapping, and their theories of change are different.
“If Democrats Want to Win in 2020, They Have to Give Detroit a Reason to Vote” [The Nation]. “The Democratic presidential contenders who will debate this week in this city have come to a state where their party’s “blue wall” cracked in 2016… But what’s the best way to reach out to Detroiters? The Democrats can start by getting serious about urban policy. Both major parties once focused on the concerns of American cities, but in recent decades they have chased after suburban and exurban voters with such abandon that they have often neglected the beating hearts of our metropolitan areas.” • They have no place to go….
* * *
“Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg Hold Contrasting Hollywood Fundraisers” [Variety]. “Bernie Sanders held a ‘grassroots fundraiser’ in Hollywood on Thursday night, delivering his message of political transformation to an adoring crowd at the Montalban Theatre. At the same time, Pete Buttigieg was holding a sold-out fundraiser at the home of NBCUniversal international chairman Kevin MacLellan and Brian Curran, featuring co-hosts Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi, Chelsea Handler and Sean Hayes…. ‘Some politicians go to wealthy people’s homes and they sit around in a fancy living room, and people contribute thousands and thousands of dollars and they walk out with a few hundred thousand bucks or whatever,’ Sanders said. ‘We don’t do that. … To me, an $18 check or a $27 check from a working person is worth more than all the money in the world from millionaires.'” Cf., ironically enough, Luke 21:1-4.
“Ex-Host Krystal Ball: MSNBC’s Russia ‘Conspiracies’ Have Done ‘Immeasurable Harm’ to the Left” [Daily Beast]. “Elsewhere in the six-minute monologue, [former longtime MSNBC anchor Krystal] Ball accused MSNBC of cynically following the Russia story in pursuit of ratings, making journalistic compromises along the way. She directly criticized hosts like Rachel Maddow (“You’ve got some explaining to do,” Ball said to her) and on-air analysts like Mimi Rocah (a Daily Beast contributor) for leading viewers to believe that there was a strong possibility that Trump and his family would be indicted. Ball also suggested that the ‘fevered speculation’ of guests like New York columnist Jonathan Chait and former British MP Louise Mensch would have been more at home on conspiracy network Infowars. ‘Russia conspiracy was great for ratings among the key demographic of empty nesters on the coasts with too much time on their hands,’ said Ball, who now hosts an inside-baseball streaming political talk show for The Hill.” • Oddly, this story got no traction at all.
“Impeachment, always a longshot, fades in wake of Mueller hearing” [Los Angeles Times]. “the window of opportunity has rapidly begun shrinking. About 90 House Democrats have joined the call to open a formal impeachment inquiry. That’s less than 40% of the caucus — far short of what would be needed to overcome the opposition of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who views the move as politically unwise and likely to backfire. To significantly change the current path, backers of impeachment needed a dramatic boost out of this week’s hearing with former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. His testimony fell far short of that mark.” • Yes, the 90 includes a few new faces, but I’d bet they’re revolving heroes. So, after three years of daily hysteria from liberal Democrats, this is where we are.
“More than two-thirds of Obamacare cosponsors are now backing Medicare for All proposal” [Fast Company]. “Twelve of the current 17 House members who cosponsored the landmark 2009 measure known as Obamacare have signed on as cosponsors of legislation that would create a universal healthcare system, according to a MapLight analysis. The five incumbent House Democrats who cosponsored Obamacare but who have declined to endorse a “Medicare-for-All” proposal have received an average of $209,000 in campaign contributions since 2011 from the 10 largest U.S. healthcare companies, their employees, and five major trade associations. The dozen cosponsors have received an average of $65,000 from the industry…. The disparity highlights the importance of moderate and conservative Democrats to the healthcare industry, which has united against proposals to ensure that the United States guarantees health coverage for all citizens.” • Ka-ching. This may also explain Harris et al. moving up their assault.
“Obama Alums Tell Health Insurance Lobby ‘Medicare For All’ Won’t Happen” [Tarbell]. “Axelrod said that Medicare for All has “become a phrase as much as anything else.” He suggested that some Democratic presidential candidates may not want to go as far as Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent credited with sparking support for Medicare For All during his 2016 presidential campaign, and might support more limited reforms like a public option or allowing some people under the age of 65 to buy into Medicare…. The AHIP conference featured a slew of other former Obama officials, including Andy Slavitt, who led the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy; Sam Kass, the former White House chef and nutrition adviser; and Kavita Patel, who served as a policy aide in the Obama White House. Patel, currently a Brookings Institution nonresident fellow and vice president at the Johns Hopkins Health System, harshly criticized Medicare for All. ‘People who are very serious about health policy on either side of the fence know this is not reality,’ she said. She suggested that Democratic presidential candidates’ support for Medicare for All is ‘all just campaign talk.'” • Why, it’s almost as if preventing #MedicareForAll was the liberal Democrats #1 policy priority!
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Activists Urging Lacey to ‘Do Her Job’ in Second Ed Buck Death” [Los Angeles Sentinel]. “Local activists are urging District Attorney Jackie Lacey to ‘do her job’ and find that the evidence presented to Los Angeles Sheriff’s is probable cause to immediately charge and prosecute Ed Buck in spite of his ‘Whiteness, wealth, and her political ambitions,’ in the death of Timothy Dean, the second man to die at Buck’s residence. ‘We’ve done all that we could do to aid the sheriff’s investigators with their investigation,’ said community activist and advocate, Jasmyne Cannick. ‘Once again, we gathered evidence and brought the sheriff’s other young men who could speak directly to their experiences with Ed Buck. I hope that this time around, the political will and prosecutorial creativity that we’ve seen used so often against Black people is used to bring charges against Ed Buck for the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean. Two men have died on the same mattress, in the same living room, of the same drug, at the same man’s house within months of each other …'”
“House Democratic Campaign Chair Vows To ‘Do Better’ After Senior Staffers Quit” [HuffPo]. “The chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee admitted to making mistakes and vowed to “do better” after several senior staffers resigned on Monday. The staff exodus came on the heels of a report that the committee, whose primary mission is to help Democrats maintain and expand their House majority, was ‘in chaos’ over concerns about hiring and a lack of diversity…. ‘I have never been more committed to expanding and protecting this majority, while creating a workplace that we can all be proud of,’ Bustos said in the statement. ‘I will work tirelessly to ensure that our staff is truly inclusive.'” • Bring back DWS?
“Can a New Think Tank Put a Stop to Endless War?” [The Nation]. “[A] newly formed think tank in Washington, the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft… states that its mission is to ‘move US foreign policy away from endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace.’ The group is still raising money, but with a projected second-year budget of $5 million to 6 million, enough to support 20 to 30 staffers, it aims to match the scale of more established think tanks and to disrupt the foreign policy consensus in Washington…. [T]he Quincy Institute includes the unlikely duo of Charles Koch and George Soros among its founding donors—each has committed half a million dollars—and is intended to serve as a counterweight to the Blob, as the bipartisan national security establishment dedicated to endless war has come to be known… When it comes to foreign policy, [co-founder Eli] Clifton says, there’s little difference between CAP and Republican-aligned think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and the Hudson Institute. One way Quincy will distinguish itself from its better-established rivals will be to refuse money from foreign governments.”
Personal Income and Outlays, June 2019: “The month-to-month breakdown of consumer spending shows slowing in what will offer support for those on the FOMC who want to cut interest rates this week” [Econoday]. “Core inflation which is under target and which suggests that an increase in demand would be sustainable.”
Consumer Confidence, July 2019: “Boosted by an evermore favorable view of the jobs market, consumer confidence jumped sharply” [Econoday]. “Jobs-hard-to-get is down sharply… One interesting point in the report is a drop in inflation expectations… [T]he overall strength of the consumer, whether in confidence or spending which are both tied to the health of the jobs market, does not speak to the need for lower rates.”
S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, May 2019: “Home prices continue to slow to underscore what is becoming another difficult year for the housing sector” [Econoday]. “Despite low mortgage rates and consumer strength, housing data whether for prices or sales or construction have been flattening out in recent reports in what will support arguments to cut interest rates at this week’s FOMC meeting.”
Pending Home Sales Index, June 2019: “A fast break just when housing needed one appears in a …. surge in pending sales of existing homes” [Econoday].
The age of the housing stock gives a fascinating insight into the development of settlement across the US. The predominance of pre-1939 settlement in North/Eastern corridor is striking.https://t.co/mlWUKDlylu pic.twitter.com/aJr89vVuNK
— Adam Tooze (@adam_tooze) July 30, 2019
In ME-02, blue (“1939 and earlier”) is, like, new!
Real Estate: “Supply-chain automation is gaining ground in logistics as companies look to get the most out of real estate close to consumers. Startup Attabotics will use $25 million raised in a new funding round to expand its platform in the growing e-commerce market. … [T]he company’s focus is on bringing efficiency to the tight spaces companies are turning to for fulfillment operations The Canadian company makes automated vertical systems for storing, retrieving and sorting goods that it says use less space than traditional warehouses.” [Wall Street Journal].
Manufacturing: “Air Canada Removes 737 Max Flights Until 2020” [Industry Week]. “Air Canada has removed the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule until January pending regulatory approvals, joining Southwest Airlines Co. in scrapping plans for flights of the jetliner into 2020…. The Montreal-based airline said that third-quarter projected capacity is expected to fall about 2% compared with the same period in 2018, contrasting the originally planned increase of about 3%.”
Manufacturing: “Boeing needs to come up with a Plan B for grounded Max jets” [Financial Times]. “As a researcher of confidence-driven decision making, 2020 looks woefully optimistic to me, as does the company’s special charge. In fact, based on what I see, it is not too early for Boeing to start considering a Plan B for the existing Max series fleet. First, the extreme overconfidence that existed at Boeing prior to the two crashes suggests that there may be more problems still to surface. Second, the aerospace industry is uniquely vulnerable when it comes to confidence. Confidence requires perceptions of certainty and control, but aeroplane passengers are inherently powerless: they can’t and don’t fly the plane. Finally, everything that has unfolded to date has occurred with consumer confidence near all-time highs. The crowd is inherently optimistic today and demand for air travel is soaring. Should the broader mood decline ahead, not only will passenger and regulatory scrutiny naturally intensify, but interest in travel itself will drop. In an economic recession, airlines will have little use for the now-grounded planes.” And the Plan B? “Given the industry’s prior experience with the DC-10, which struggled to regain passenger confidence after a series of early safety issues, one option could be a conversion of the existing fleet to air freight. Establishing trust with a small group of professional freight pilots is likely to be far easier.” • Yikes.
Manufacturing: “Boeing drops out of competition to replace Minuteman III” [Wyoming Tribune Eagle]. “Boeing confirmed this week that it had withdrawn from bidding on the contract for the U.S. Air Force’s Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program. The contract is to replace the Air Force’s Cold War-era Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles. Experts have estimated the project could be worth about $85 billion…. Boeing’s departure from the project creates a situation where only one company [Northrop Grumman ] will be bidding on a massive military contract to supply the nation with the ground-based portion of its nuclear triad system.” • So no bailout for Boeing that way.
The Bezzle: “Millions use Earnin to get cash before payday. Critics say the app is taking advantage of them.” [NBC]. “But critics say that the company is effectively acting as a payday lender — providing small short-term loans at the equivalent of a high interest rate — while avoiding conventional lending regulations designed to protect consumers from getting in over their heads. Earnin argues that it isn’t a lender at all because the company relies on tips rather than required fees and does not send debt collectors after customers who fail to repay the money.” • Hmm.
Tne Bezzle: “FBI found bucket of human heads, body parts sewn together at donation facility: report” [The Hill]. “The center’s owner, Stephen Gore, was sentenced to a year of deferred prison time and four years of probation after pleading guilty in October to illegal control of an enterprise.” • Ick. I’m sure the same thing will never happen at cryogenic facilities….
— Aamir Asghar (@jojaaamir) July 29, 2019
“Modest (insipid) Green New Deal proposals miss the point – Part 2” [Bill Mitchell]. “At the basis of the [standard neoclassical microeconomics] ‘solution’ is the belief that there is a trade-off between, say, environmental damage and economic growth (production). And the market failure skews that trade-off towards growth at the expense of environmental health. So all that is needed is some intervention (a tax) that will skew the trade-off back to something more preferable. The problem is that the whole idea that there is a trade-off between protecting our environment and economic production is flawed at the most elemental level. There is no calculus (which underpins this sort of microeconomic reasoning) that can tell us when a biological system will die. The idea that we can have a ‘safe’ level of pollution, regulated via a price system, is groundless and should not form part of a progressive response. Carbon trading schemes (CTS) are neoliberal constructs which start with the presumption that a free market is the best way to organise allocation.” • Worth repeating: Mark Blyth says that “Markets cannot internalize their externalities on a planetary scale. They just can’t. It’s impossible.” I’m wondering if carbon tax failure is a lemma from that (heretical) proposition. Also, somebody tell Elizabeth Warren.
“Stopping Climate Change Will Never Be ‘Good Business'” [Jacobin] (review of Bill McKibben’s new book, Falter). “McKibben mistakenly believes that the problems of climate destruction stem from bad ideas and policies, rather than systemic issues. The 1970s turn toward neoliberalism in fact originated with a general crisis in capitalist profitability, not with Ayn Rand’s ideas…. If you believe [with McKibben] that all working-class led revolutions end in disaster, and that it is therefore necessary to prioritize collaborating with the existing rulers of society (the capitalists and their governmental representatives), then a radical alternative to the status quo is not possible.”
“How much does your flight actually hurt the planet?” [Quartz]. “Flygskam (translated as ‘flight shame’) is a burgeoning Sweden-led movement which calls on people to consider limiting their flight use…. Michael Mann of Penn State University, and some other climate scientists, have argued against making individual sacrifices in the name of climate change, even big ones, because they feel the only true impact can be made at the level of government…. It’s true: despite incontrovertible evidence of the toll our collective lives are taking on the planet, any action an individual takes carries with it the knowledge that, however huge the personal sacrifice, the result will be nothing more than a dot in the vast global matrix. One person’s actions can’t make a difference; only collective action can…. Perhaps ‘flight shame’ is a misnomer: It denotes a sensation of embarrassment, and implies something hidden, rather than a strong ethical choice.” •
“Overpopulation, Not Climate Change, Caused California’s Water Crisis” [The American Conservative]. “The issue is population. California has grown from 10 million to at least 40 million since 1950, making it necessary to move water over long distances to where people live and work. Close to two thirds of the state’s population is bunched in a few water-dependent coastal counties. Only about 15 percent of California’s water consumption is residential. Most of that is used outdoors to make the desert bloom and hillside pools sparkle and shimmer David Hockney-like, and millions expect that water at will.” But: ” Farm water comprises an estimated 70 percent of annual state water use. Private water ownership and 1,300 competing irrigation districts complicate matters…. Agriculture’s $40 billion contribution to the California economy is only about 3 percent of the state’s GDP. Rural California is still a potent voting bloc in the state legislature and the U.S. Congress, but less so every decade.” • The headline seems oversimplified, even agenda-driven.
Original Medicare took only a year to implement, back in the era of steam:
Harry Truman's application card for Medicare, co-signed by Lyndon Johnson on same day he signed Medicare bill at Truman Library, today 1965: pic.twitter.com/Gecp2uzYWc
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) July 30, 2019
I wonder who we should give the first #MedicareForAll card to. Jonathan Gruber? Nancy Pelosi?
NEWS: 75% of rural hospitals have now closed in states that chose not to expand Medicaid.https://t.co/1Urak8yQOg
— Andy Slavitt (@ASlavitt) July 29, 2019
“‘Leaving billions of dollars on the table‘” [Gatehouse News] (source of map above). “‘The irony to me,’ said John Henderson, who heads The Texas Organization of Rural & Community Hospitals and supports Medicaid expansion, ‘is that we’re paying federal income taxes to expand coverage in other states. We’re exporting our coverage and leaving billions of dollars on the table.’… High rates of poverty in rural areas, combined with the loss of jobs, aging populations, lack of health insurance and competition from other struggling institutions will make it difficult for some rural hospitals to survive regardless of what government policies are implemented. For some, there’s no point in trying. They say the widespread closures are the result of the free market economy doing its job and a continued shakeout would be helpful. But no rural community wants that shakeout to happen in its backyard.” • Good reporting! I wonder who those “for some” are. I bet a lot of them don’t live in rural areas.
“A teen who frustrated his mom gaming 8 hours a day became a millionaire in the Fortnite World Cup” [Business Insider]. “More than 40 million players participated in the qualifying events for the final, which took place at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City on Saturday and Sunday. Fifty duos and 100 solo players made it through the final and were competing to take home a cut of the $30 million prize pool, the largest prize pool in the history of e-sports.” • Filling a stadium. This old codger thinks that’s quite remarkable, a new thing on the face of the earth.
“The Invention of Money” [The New Yorker]. • Fun factoids, but a serious attempt would include Michael Hudson, and MMT on the origin of money as well.
“When I joined my father on the building site, I saw a different side to him” [Guardian (DG)]. “It was on those building sites that, for the first time in my life, I saw a different side to my father. At home, my mother was not only the main breadwinner but also did practically all the cooking, cleaning and organisation. She was the engine of the family: paying the mortgage, asking me about my homework, remembering my friends’ names, picking up discarded socks and cooking dinner every night from scratch. My father was, at times, little more than a lodger. But at work, he suddenly turned into something like a figure of authority: intelligent, in charge, hard-working, exacting. He knew about things I had never even heard of, such as building regulations, damp-proof courses, rendering, load-bearing walls and lintels. He was patient, informed. He may have lost his pencil, hammer, spirit level and saw every 30 seconds, but he knew what he was doing. As I watched him briefing a bricklayer or discussing some finer detail of a knocked-through dining room with a plasterer, I saw someone who rarely came home. Since then, I have often suggested to friends struggling with parental relationships that might feel disappointing and strained to try meeting that parent at work, to visit them in situ, have lunch on their territory, watch them in action, and try to find this other side to someone with whom you are so familiar… Being a young woman on a building site, I also learned that the class system is alive and well in modern Britain. People I knew from school would fail to recognise me as they walked past the building site… There is nothing innately superior about life with a boardroom or swivel chair. The income discrepancy between so-called white-collar and blue-collar work is unfounded. …. work is work is work is work.” • A really splendid article.
News of the Wired
“The Pirate Who Penned the First English-Language Guacamole Recipe” [Atlas Obscura]. “British-born William Dampier began a life of piracy in 1679 in Mexico’s Bay of Campeche. … He gave us the words ‘tortilla,’ ‘soy sauce,’ and ‘breadfruit,’ while unknowingly recording the first ever recipe for guacamole. And who better to expose the Western world to the far corners of our planet’s culinary bounty than someone who by necessity made them his hiding places?” • So globalization has a culinary upside; always has!
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Meeps writes: “The columbines are pink and yellow this year.” Columbines are so stylish and old-fashioned.
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