By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I deferred Water Cooler in order to get this post on the NH primary out sooner. So if that’s what you want to talk about — and who wouldm’t — please go there. I will put together a Water Cooler now; please check back in a couple hours. UPDATE This is as much as I can do today!
“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
Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart.
We have a new national polls from YouGov, as of 4:00 PM EST. This is the three-day average:
Sanders leading. The polls may only be useful for narrative, but what a narrative!
CAVEAT I think we have to track the polls because so much of the horse-race coverage is generated by them; and at least with these charts we’re insulating ourselves against getting excited about any one poll. That said, we should remember that the polling in 2016, as it turned out, was more about narrative than about sampling, and that this year is, if anything, even more so. In fact, one is entitled to ask, with the latest I boomlet (bubble? (bezzle?)) which came first: The narrative, or the poll? One hears of push polling, to be sure, but not of collective push polling by herding pollsters. We should also worry about state polls with very small sample sizes and big gaps in coverage. And that’s before we get to the issues with cellphones (as well as whether voters in very small, very early states game their answers). So we are indeed following a horse-race, but the horses don’t stay in their lanes, some of the horses are not in it to win but to interfere with the others, the track is very muddy, and the mud has splattered our binoculars, such that it’s very hard to see what’s going on from the stands. Also, the track owners are crooked and the stewards are on the take. Everything’s fine.
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Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden’s Campaign Was a Disaster for Liberalism and the Democratic Party” [Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine]. “Biden’s presidential campaign is now almost certain to fail, but he has done more than any other candidate to shape the outcome…. For most of the last year, Biden sat on the largest piece of real estate in the Democratic party. He has commanded the loyalty of voters who fondly recall Barack Obama’s presidency and wish to replicate it, and whose primary goal is to assemble majority coalition. They are disproportionately black and occupy the center-left heart of the party’s base. Biden’s candidacy almost single-handedly stunted the growth of every other center-left alternative.” • I was nodding my head, something I don’t often do with Chait, until I came to this: “Only now are Bloomberg and Klobuchar – along with Pete Buttigieg, who has won a sizable niche with well-educated white voters that he seems to have difficulty expanding – beginning to try to consolidate the party’s center-left vote.” • Klobuchar, and Buttigieg are center-left? Really? Bloomberg??
Biden (D)(2): “Biden super PAC: Donors could create ‘doomsday scenario’ for Democrats” [The Hill]. “‘Donors hedging their bets on Biden because of [Mike] Bloomberg could be creating a doomsday scenario for Democrats everywhere,’ the group’s treasurer, Larry Rasky, wrote in the memo, Politico reported. Bloomberg, a billionaire self-funding his campaign, announced he’d be skipping the first four nominating states. Despite his late entry to the race and not having participated in a single debate, the former New York City mayor has been rising in recent polls.” • I would say Biden is a hedge on Bloomberg.
Bloomberg (D)(1): On stop-and-frisk:
1. He says "inherited". There were 97K stops his 1st year; 685K his 10th year. https://t.co/7yhI7fwj3a
2. He fought a judge's ruling. In 2013. https://t.co/xDK5Lp4Tyw
— Taniel (@Taniel) February 11, 2020
Bloomberg (D)(2): “Michael Bloomberg PAC backing Michigan ads for Gov. Rick Snyder re-election bid” [Mlive]. • Of Flint fame. He’s a real Democrat!
Bloomberg (D)(3): “Bloomberg Surrogates Have Seats on DNC Rules Committees” [Sludge]. “As the Democratic National Committee establishes procedures for the Democratic presidential nominating process, two members of DNC rules committees simultaneously work on the campaign of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Having surrogates on the Democratic National Convention’s Rules Committee and the Standing Rules and Bylaws Committee could be a boon for Bloomberg if nominating rules are re-opened for amendment ahead of the July convention. Some DNC members who are concerned about the polling support of Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) have discussed reversing rule changes limiting the power of superdelegates that were put in place after the 2016 election, according to a report from Politico. Those discussions have been sharply rebuked by DNC leadership.” • Of course they have.
Klobuchar (D)(1): “Listen to 392 – Live from New Hampshire: Full Rat Mode (2/10/20)” (podcast) [Chapo Trap House]. • Here is an extremely rough transcript (I couldn’t separate out the CTH voices, the tape they play is not good, and there’s a lot of cross-talk:
“We have caught our third Pokemon. We have caught the wily Klobuchard [applause]…. And this was actually pure Kismet. This was a random one, she appeared in the wild in front of us, and we got it on tape. So here was Matt and I. Meeting. The Klob.
“[KLOBUCHAR:] Hey guys, how are you? I hear the coffee’s good here, huh? [CTH:] I’m here supporting another candidate– [KLOBUCHAR:] I can see that– [CTH]: I just wanted to say, thank you for absolutely bodying Pete Buttigieg the other night. Well done. …[KLOBUCHAR:] See you guys later.”
OK, OK. I don’t know if you could hear all of it… And I said, “Thank you for putting that little twerp in his place,” and look at her! She was laughing! [She immediately moved away from the camera because she knew she could not suppress her grin. It wasn’t nervous laugher, it was delighted conspiratorial laughter] Look, look, Amy obviosly shouldn’t be in charge of anything. But. Under the proper authority [oh gawd] she could be muscle. And we need strong people. She’s a killer. She’s the Frank Sheeran, potentially. “Hey, you wanna be part of this history? You wanna put all these Wall Street guys in jail? I could do that for you.” No again, we could get her to yell at the generals. She would be amazing. Every day I wish for an Amy Klobuchar with actual good beliefs. Yeah, Amy did some genuinely horrible things as Minnesota Attorney General and Hennepin County DA, but right now, just at this moment in history, you should 100% be rooting for her to beat the sh*t out of The Rat.
I believe I’ve said that I find Klobuchar’s viciousness attractive, and she could be the Rahm Emmanuel that President Sanders needs. Kidding… But not entirely.
Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders’ early strength worries Democratic leaders” [Financial Times]. The reporter emptied their Rolodex of Democratic strategists. At the end: “‘[There is a] pretty significant chance that this is going to come down to Sanders and Bloomberg, especially if the non-Bernie lane does not consolidate before Super Tuesday,’ said one Democratic strategist, citing Mr Bloomberg’s virtually unlimited funds. (He is worth an estimated $61bn and has already spent more than $300m on his campaign.) ‘Bernie will stay in until the bitter end,’ the strategist added. ‘It is the benefit of having a committed, core group of supporters who won’t leave you no matter what.'” • If I were Sanders, I would welcome that. Clarifying!
Sanders (D)(2): “New Hampshire 2020: In Supreme Irony, the Horse Race Favors Bernie Sanders” [Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone]. Taibbi is very much a “glass half full” guy (I am the opposite). But this rings true: “ Just by keeping to the right side of that one principle, Sanders will hold his 20-to-30 percent and keep grinding toward victory, “narrow” wins or not. It’s a classic tortoise-and-hare story. When you know where you’re going, you tend to get there.” • Yep. Clarifying!
Sanders (D)(3): “Bernie Sanders Leads All Democratic Candidates in Support From Non-White Voters, New Polls Show” [Newsweek]. • It would be nice if we could get “multi-racial working class” in there, somehow. Although this should — but won’t — put a stake in the heart of the “Bernie Bro” narrative.
— ARTIST TAXI DRIVER (@chunkymark) February 12, 2020
Warren (D)(1): Oof:
Warren didn’t just get 9% in an all-white state (her support is predominantly white). She has, by far, the 2nd biggest volunteer ground game & fundraising (even close to Bernie’s) and the biggest paid staff. 9% under those circumstances is rough
— Mike Prysner (@MikePrysner) February 12, 2020
Warren (D)(2): “What’s happened to Warren, Biden? Dismal showings and questions about the future.” [NBC]. “Earlier Tuesday, Warren campaign manager Roger Lau had sent a memo to supporters arguing that no candidate was likely to consolidate the field and that anything could happen with a wide field of flawed candidates.” • Translation: Spoiler at a brokered convention.
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NH. Some links I couldn’t get to in this post:
“New Hampshire Democrats want to beat Trump but can’t agree on how, exit polls show” [CNN]. • This “want to beat Trump” talking point is so vacuous. “Boston fans want to beat the hated Yankees but can’t agree on how.” Maybe take the field personally?
“What New Hampshire’s exit polls tell us about the primary” [Politico]. “Much of Sanders’ support was locked in earlier in the race. Only 38 percent of voters on Tuesday said they decided for whom they would vote before this month, but more than two-thirds of Sanders’ supporters said they made up their minds before that.” And: “Warren pitched herself as a unity candidate, but she ultimately had a small core of support with the party’s liberal wing, and no traction with moderates.” • Oddly, or not, Politico (uhnlike CBS) doesn’t even mention income. (They do mention age, but a Sanders pivot to Social Security — Buttigieg has already identified himself with deficit cutting, Biden really is a hopeless cause on this — should take care of that. Also, dental and eye in #MedicareForAll, plus no co-pays or deductibles.)
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NV: Getting ugly:
the very, very powerful Culinary Union in Nevada just sent these handouts out to members. See under Sanders: "End Culinary Healthcare." Pretty clear signal > pic.twitter.com/2lccCvd3z0
— Gabriel Debenedetti (@gdebenedetti) February 12, 2020
Nevertheless, a problem the Sanders campaign should already have resolved — if possible in Harry Reid territory.
“Pro-Israel Group Led By Top Democratic Pollster Planning Anti-Bernie Ads In Nevada” [Mediate]. “The pro-Israel group’s ads against the man who could become the first Jewish president in American history, will also likely have unintended effects. In Iowa, their ad buy was for $800,000, but Sanders raised $1.3 million through a message to his large and hyper-engaged email list that an “outside spending group” was targeting it with negative ads. Sanders himself then posted a video on Twitter saying “It is no secret that our campaign is taking on the political establishment and the big-money interests, who are now running negative ads against us in Iowa.”
“Former CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera will challenge Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in House Democratic primary” [CNBC]. “Caruso-Cabrera, who became a CNBC contributor when she left the network in September 2018, serves as a member of the board of directors for financial services firm Beneficient. She will take a leave from her role as CNBC contributor for the duration of the campaign, a CNBC spokesperson said.”
Realignment and Legitimacy
“About that Democratic Primary …” [Baseline Scenario]. “Now, the issue on everyone’s minds is electability. Sure, we may want Medicare for All—but what most people want more than anything else is to defeat President Trump. And many people think that the most electable candidate is the most right-wing candidate. This is based on the theory of the median voter. The idea is that you can line up all voters on an ideological spectrum, and they will vote for the candidate who is closest to them—which means that we want to nominate someone in the middle (or, more accurately, someone just to the left of Trump). The median voter theory is nonsense. If it were true, Donald Trump would not be president today. Nor would the Republicans have a majority of the Senate, and a majority of governorships, and a majority of state legislatures. They have achieved this electoral success despite running far to the right of where most Americans stand on just about every issue—immigration, abortion, gay rights, taxes, you name it. We have to give people a reason to vote for us. The problem is, for decades, Democrats have not given people a reason to vote for them.”
“Here They Come Again: The Kind of Neoliberal Democrats Who Prefer Trump to Sanders” [Adolph Reed, Common Dreams]. “I have no doubt that the Democratic liberals who fear that Sanders is ‘unelectable’ are genuine in their belief. They also want and need for him to be unelectable because for them the really significant divisions in the society must not be those between economic classes…. From the standpoint of those liberals tied to investor-class interests, a Trump victory in 2020, even if it were to raise a serious threat of authoritarianism, could be less disturbing than a Sanders-led, left-tacking political realignment. And, much as the Clinton administration’s liberal architects of welfare reform dismissed their left critics as tendentious and naïve—until those critics were proven right—liberals’ insistence that Sanders can’t win preempts, at least for now, questions about what they would do if he were to win the nomination. Would they support him? Would they follow Bloomberg, or someone else, on a third-party ticket? ‘From the standpoint of those liberals tied to investor-class interests, a Trump victory in 2020, even if it were to raise a serious threat of authoritarianism, could be less disturbing than a Sanders-led, left-tacking political realignment. We don’t know the answers to those questions, but I have my suspicions.” • Indeed!
“Why the Democratic and Republican Establishments Can’t Stop Insurgents” [Jacobin]. “As various political scientists, most famously Peter Mair, have long pointed out, the capacity of many major political parties to represent their traditional constituencies in a democratic way has been in decline for a few decades. Peter Mair called it “ruling the void” — political elites and their parties retreat from their constituencies, seeking alternative ways of ruling, while their members withdraw their consent in various ways…. There are important national variations in these developments. But what Mair noticed about all of them was that there was an important decline in party loyalty, increasing distance between leadership and membership, ideological disorganization of existing parties, all symptomatic of the deeper hollowing out of the parties themselves. Where political parties were created to represent segments of society to the state, they had over time become ways of representing the state to society.” • Liberal Democrat operatives and elites may be stupid. But the collective Democrat hive mind is not. The Democrat Party — the party of Buchanan, McClellan, Wilson, and Obama — is the oldest political party in the world. In other words, it’s displayed adaptability.
The Bezzle: “Meet the Guy Selling Wireless Tech to Steal Luxury Cars in Seconds” [Vice (Re Silc)]. “‘Honestly I can tell you that I have not stolen a car with technology,’ “Evan” told Motherboard. ‘It’s very easy to do but the way I see it: why would I get my hands dirty when I can make money just selling the tools to other people.'” Digital = hackable. No surprise here! Interesting tech, though.
The Bezzle: “How Two Dallas Restaurants Are Bearing the Burden of Food Delivery Apps” [D Magazine]. “When Dahlke, who owns Ten Bells Tavern in Oak Cliff, read about Techamuanvivit’s experience (customers were ordering from what they believed to be her restaurant, but her Michelin-starred eatery doesn’t do takeout), it made her curious. “[Techamuanvivit] mentioned all these sites that her restaurant was on. I’m like, ‘Oh, there we are on Grubhub, Postmates, all these things,'” says Dahlke, who then looked up how much they charged for an order of Ten Bells fish and chips. . ‘Just order from us,’ she tweeted.” • Sweet!
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 59 Greed (previous close: 56 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 60 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 12 at 3:45pm.
“New Research Rewrites the Demise of Easter Island” [Smithsonian (original)]. “But in recent years, evidence has mounted for an alternative narrative—one that paints the inhabitants of the island they called Rapa Nui not as exploiters of ecosystems, but as sustainable farmers who were still thriving when Europeans first made contact. In this account, other factors conspired to end a pivotal era on Easter Island… Eventually, however, a still-mysterious combination of factors shrank the population…”
“The lost continent of Zealandia hides clues to the Ring of Fire’s birth” [Live Science]. “The hidden undersea continent of Zealandia underwent an upheaval at the time of the birth of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Zealandia is a chunk of continental crust next door to Australia. It’s almost entirely beneath the ocean, with the exception of a few protrusions, like New Zealand and New Caledonia. But despite its undersea status, Zealandia is not made of magnesium- and iron-rich oceanic crust. Instead, it is composed of less-dense continental crust. The existence of this odd geology has been known since the 1970s, but only more recently has Zealandia been more closely explored. In 2017, geoscientists reported in the journal GSA Today that Zealandia qualifies as a continent in its own right, thanks to its structure and its clear separation from the Australian continent. Now, a new analysis of chunks of Zealandia drilled from beneath the ocean floor in 2017 reveals that this continent underwent a paroxysm of change between 35 million and 50 million years ago. As the continental collision process known as subduction started in the western Pacific, parts of northern Zealandia rose by as much as 1.8 miles (3 kilometers), and other sections dropped in elevation by a similar amount.” • A nice lesson on geological time.
“The mattress landfill crisis: how the race to bring us better beds led to a recycling nightmare” [Guardian]. “Mattresses are a global environmental nightmare. The US throws away 18.2m mattresses a year, but there are only 56 facilities available to recycle them. Changing consumer behaviour is behind this ever-growing mattress mountain. Time was, you would change your mattress every eight to 10 years. But with online retailers offering more choice than ever, we have learned to expect better mattresses, and to replace them more frequently.” • No, we have not learned to expect better mattresses. Mattresses were crapified by private equity!
“There Are Rivers in the Sky Drenching the U.S. Because of Climate Change” [Bloomberg]. “Atmospheric rivers are narrow ribbons of concentrated moisture that originate in the Pacific and can flow thousands of miles before dropping rain and snow on land. Scientists are ramping up their research into the systems this winter fearful that warmer temperatures tied to climate change will boost the moisture they carry, supercharging them moving forward…. A study released in December by Scripps and the Army Corps of Engineers found that atmospheric rivers caused 84% of the flood damage suffered in 11 western states over 40 years through 2017. The average annual cost: $1.1 billion, according to the report.”
News of the Wired
“Listen to Department Of Evil: ‘All Of You Must Die'” (podcast) [The Topical]. • Dreaded Secretary of Evil Hammand Reynolds laid out details for a comprehensive plan to scorch the earth and exterminate every living American in a press conference outside the DOE….”
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 and coral 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 (JK):
JK writes: “Never planted, but somehow maintaining colors through repeated frosts and thaws.” As long as its happy!
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