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
Key dates coming fast now, so I added some counters:
Some of the next primaries. (I picked the major dates; here is a complete calendar.)
I’m not doing any polls today either, because, this being Wednesday, I don’t think anyone will have had time to digest the Super Tuesday results.
* * *
Super Tuesday: The Empire Strikes Back.
Lambert here: I’ll put in more 2020 snippets in a bit. First, let me just repeat a Water Cooler entry from back in January:
Biden (D)(4): Biden’s appeal, right here:
A video of Joe Biden taking a selfie with an elevator operator on the way to his endorsement interview with The New York Times has accumulated thousands of views. The Times ultimately endorsed presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. https://t.co/D65nJwUo7p pic.twitter.com/UyB2xieyg0
— CNN (@CNN) January 21, 2020
Even my stone-cold heart is touched.
I caught a little flak for this at the time, but that’s South Carolina, right there. Many, including me, are unable to see Biden’s appeal. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
All that said, I don’t think Biden had a lot of agency here. I’m not a boxing fan, so I can’t get this metaphor right, it feels to me like Sanders was throwing an enormously powerful but slow-moving outside punch (his ground game) against the Establishment, which counterpunched first with a quick inside punch, and rocked him. Both boxers are still on their feet, regardless of what their partisans in the stands are screaming.
What to me is remarkable is the sudden, two-digit swing in Biden’s favor in the polling over a weekend (!), and then the voting booth (Biden got the great majority of last-minute deciders). This is quite remarkable, and I can’t think of another example of it happening. To me, it looks like authoritarian followers waiting for a signal of who to vote for, which the Establishment unambiguously sent over the weekend, with the obviously coordinated Buttigieg and Klobuchar endorsements, and then a flood of other endorsements by Democrat, er, luminaries. It feels to me like party loyalty on this order is a lot like an asset class (RussiaGate is another such class.) Biden didn’t need to campaign in the early states, because the Democrat Establishment could deploy that asset whenever they wished.
UPDATE A second remarkable thing is the crack-up of the so-called “coalition of the ascendant.” Propagated by CAP Democrat strategist Ruy Teixeira starting with his book, The Emerging Democratic Majority (2002), the theory was always, shall we say, fluid, but involved sintering together youth, the Black vote, the Latin vote, and (often) women; the advantage of the theory was that demographics would do the Democrats work for them, so they would not need to change as a party. The Clinton campaign, while still paying lip service to the Teixeira’s concept, began to focus on suburban voters, especially professionals, often women, no doubt because that’s where the money was (Chuck Schumer: “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”) Well, Sanders stole the Latin vote, stole the young Black vote, stole the youth vote generally, and stole working women. So the coalition of the ascendant is no longer a thing. That’s pretty remarkable. The Democrat Establishment’s response was to move further right, making their new base conservative Blacks in the South, and moderate (that is, reactionary and restorationist) subunanites, these demographic factions sintered together with party loyalty and (with the PMCs) an unshakeable conviction of their right to rule and moral/intellectual superiority (“smart”). It’s gonna get ugly, folks.
Finally, the race has clarified: Biden v. Sanders. Wasn’t that always going to happen?
* * *
Super Tuesday voter suppression:
Kremlin fixers call this sort of voter suppression "administrative resources". Crude ballot stuffing, although it happens, is too fraught and not the preferred way to rig elections. https://t.co/furAxoYLdZ
— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) March 4, 2020
“Administrative resources.” That’s a keeper.
“The Democratic Party Wasn’t Ripe for a Takeover” [Peter Beinart, The Atlantic]. “Why did embracing his party’s establishment work for Biden but not for Bush? Because Democrats like their establishment more. Although progressive activists criticize Obama, his approval rating among Democrats as a whole—according to Real Clear Politics’ polling average—is almost 87 percent. That makes Biden’s association with him an almost unmitigated political strength.” • I think Beinart has the agency 180° wrong. It’s not the Biden embraced the establishment; it’s the establishment that embraced Biden. The situation reminds me of the French Foreign Legion film Beau Geste, where the evil Sergeant Markoff (the Establishment), trapped in a fort (the Democrat Party) under attack by hordes of Algerian tribesmen (the Bernie Bros) props up one corpse (Biden) after another at each of their posts to create the impression that the fort is still defended.
* * *
Biden (D)(1): I believe this is the perjurer, not the torturer:
Voted in first Dem primary to support party dedicated to restoring values in WH. I agree with @amyklobuchar: We need candidate who cares about all Americans and will restore decency, dignity to the office. There is a reason Trump fears @joebiden and roots for Bernie. #Biden2020
— James Comey (@Comey) March 3, 2020
UPDATE Biden (D)(2): “Nasty women”:
Quite a moment — these stills capture their toughness indeed https://t.co/ATYGgX9z47
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) March 4, 2020
Alcindor and Rucker should get a room….
In Anamosa, Iowa, Biden addresses the video doctored to make him sound racist. pic.twitter.com/03WHKlFZLx
— Cleve R. Wootson Jr. (@CleveWootson) January 2, 2020
I’ve seen Trump in the flesh and heard him speak. The above video is nothing like Trump.
UPDATE Biden (D)(4): I hate armchair diagnosis, but some are not so reluctant:
Joe Biden has dementia. This strikes me as a serious problem.
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) March 4, 2020
UPDATE Biden (D)(5): And some God-level Twitter accounts are really not reluctant:
i deserve th e most mentally ill president imaginable. 99 year old babbling doofus. Send us into the volcano sir
— wint (@dril) March 4, 2020
UPDATE Biden (D)(6): Hawley 2024:
It’s a fucked up thing that America’s fascist political coalition is getting amped to run against the Democratic Party from the left.
Self, how did we get here? https://t.co/KG84JE1T1o
— Steve Randy Waldman (@interfluidity) March 4, 2020
Bloomberg (D)(1): Beyond parody. Seventeen hours ago:
Thanks for your support, American Samoa!
Together, we'll defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America. pic.twitter.com/dFqeO69Ejn
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) March 4, 2020
Of course, Bloomberg has delegates, so he’s in on the convention floor. Wish I’d been one of the seven staffers he sent out there!
Bloomberg (D)(2): But four hours ago:
Three months ago, I entered the race to defeat Donald Trump. Today, I'm leaving for the same reason. Defeating Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it. It's clear that is my friend and a great American, @JoeBiden. pic.twitter.com/cNJDIQHS75
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) March 4, 2020
On the bright side, $500 million helped a lot of Democratic strategists sent their kids to college on Bloomberg’s largesse. So there’s that.
Gabbard (D)(1): “DNC Scrambles To Change Debate Threshold After Gabbard Qualifies” [Caitlin Johnstone]. “[I]t’s unsurprising that the DNC felt comfortable striding forward and openly announcing a change in the debate threshold literally the very moment Gabbard crossed it. These people understand narrative control, and they know full well that they have secured enough of it on the Tulsi Problem that they’ll be able to brazenly rig her right off the stage without suffering any meaningful consequences. The establishment narrative warfare against Gabbard’s campaign dwarfs anything we’ve seen against Sanders, and the loathing and dismissal they’ve been able to generate have severely hamstrung her run. It turns out that a presidential candidate can get away with talking about economic justice and plutocracy when it comes to domestic policy, and some light dissent on matters of foreign policy will be tolerated, but aggressively attacking the heart of the actual bipartisan foreign policy consensus will get you shut down, smeared and shunned like nothing else. This is partly because US presidents have a lot more authority over foreign affairs than domestic, and it’s also because endless war is the glue which holds the empire together.
Sanders (D)(1): Talking points to cheer the Sanders supporter:
Ok I'm going to bed. Here are some talking points to combat the media bullshit that you'll be hearing nonstop for the next several days: pic.twitter.com/VnUZjn9Cno
— 29 U.S.C. § 157 (@OrganizingPower) March 4, 2020
Again, I disagree with #4, and I’ve seen a ton of anecdotes on #8, but no aggregated numbers. (Yes, the TX voter suppression was done by Republicans, and CA by the Democrat Establishment, but that’s just the duopoly at work. If expanding the electorate were a Democrat priority, it would be a core party function with a budget. It isn’t, and it’s not.
Sanders (D)(2): Attack ad on Biden:
IT'S HAPPENING: @BernieSanders is up with this ad in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Washington reminding voters about his record on Social Security, and Joe Biden's. pic.twitter.com/Vm8L4gL4sd
— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) March 4, 2020
Hard to see why this wasn’t done before, but the Sanders campaign should consider doing this a lot more.
Sanders (D)(3): Everybody’s got an Obama clip: Biden, Bloomberg, now Sanders:
Bernie was basically the only candidate who didn't run an Obama is my bff ad. After getting wiped out in the South, he releases this ad the next day. (in one SC ad, he had a shot of them together but it wasn't like this) pic.twitter.com/JNgtFb0q26
— Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) March 4, 2020
Stoller must have spit up his coffee when he saw this. Again, I don’t see what this ad wasn’t run before. But I think it also blurs Sanders’ message; at some point, Sanders has got to take on Obama’s miserable inaequency as a President, and this ad is not the way. The only possible reason I can think of for running it is to head off an open (as opposed to tacit) Obama endorsement by Biden.
UPDATE Warren (D)(0): “‘We fell well short’: Warren team considers ending campaign” [Politico]. “As results from Super Tuesday states rolled in Tuesday evening, the mood inside the Warren team turned grim, with two staffers even sniping at each other on Twitter. Others began referring to the campaign and her team in the past tense, with one talking about little girls one day carrying ‘the torch that Elizabeth Warren lit.'” • Cracks in the discipline…
Warren (D)(1): This is an easy hot take, but I’m not sure it’s correct:
It's looking like Warren may cost Bernie from winning Massachusetts, Maine, and Minnesota. Possibility even Oklahoma as well. It is depressing. #SuperTuesday #SuperTuesdayResults #supertuesday2020 pic.twitter.com/YyKPxFTNev
— Daniel Hanley (@danielahanley) March 4, 2020
Certainly some Warren voters would go to Sanders, were she to drop out, but not all. Yes, there is “second choice” polling, but I’m not sure real voters rank candidates like that. That said, for the Sanders campaign, every delegate counts, and those “some” Warren delegates could be important.
Warren (D)(2): Everybody’s got a plan ’til they get punched at the polls:
Persist PAC, a super PAC backing Elizabeth Warren, has now spent more than any other outside group in the 2020 cycle.
— OpenSecrets.org (@OpenSecretsDC) March 3, 2020
I voted for @ewarren today b/c she listens to Black women, understands that “Economic justice has not ever been sufficient to ensure racial justice,” admits mistakes, is a tough broad, and b/c we now see how not having a leader w/ a plan costs lives. https://t.co/RHIMCN6TE4
— Kimberle Crenshaw (@sandylocks) March 3, 2020
Hard to imagine anything more intersectional than Warren claiming First Nation’s identity on her professional credentials.
* * *
CA: “Pelosi to Receive First Real Left-Wing Challenge in 30 Years” [The Intercept] “On Tuesday, Pelosi took 72.5 percent of the vote in California’s 12th Congressional District. Under the state’s unique primary system — where the top-two vote-getters in the primary make it to the general election, even if they belong to the same party — Buttar’s 12.7 percent was enough to get him on the November ballot. Buttar is a constitutional lawyer who has dedicated his career on reining in American militarism and advancing causes relating to social justice. As a part-time DJ, Buttar may appear at face value as just another reflexive left-wing activist, but he is well-credentialed with a track record in advocacy and community organizing. A graduate of Stanford Law School, Buttar worked on court cases litigating marriage equality and defending the civil liberties of Muslims facing FBI surveillance, and has challenged the constitutionality of the USA PATRIOT Act. Currently on leave from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Buttar has waged an insurgent effort… ” • I can’t find the podcast where I heard Buttar; here’s another one. He was impressive.
SC: “SC Democrats prepare to pitch earlier primary spot after 2020 success, Iowa failure” [Post and Courier]. “Fresh off a successful 2020 primary, some South Carolina Democrats are already eyeing the possibility of taking on an even more prominent role in future races… Early proponents of the idea include South Carolina’s longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third highest-ranking member of the U.S. House and highest-ranking African American elected official in the country, as well as multiple Democratic National Committee members from the state. Precise ideas about what should happen vary. Clyburn’s preference is to pair off the four early states, holding New Hampshire and South Carolina’s primaries on the same day and Iowa and Nevada’s on another, thereby adding more diversity to each contest day.” • Just what we need; reinforcing Democrat reaction.
* * *
2016 Post Mortem
“‘Just Baloney;: Clinton Attacks Sanders In Latest Barrage” [Jonathan Turley]. “Hillary Clinton continues to attack Bernie Sanders while seemingly mocking ‘authenticity’ that is often cited as Sanders’ strength. Clinton called Sanders’ entire campaign as ‘just baloney’ and then derisively added ‘That was my authentic opinion then; it’s my authentic opinion now.’ … In an upcoming four-part docuseries ‘Hillary’ Clinton slams Sanders and states ‘He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.'” • She seems nice.
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Millions voted early — and some wasted their ballots on candidates who quit” [NBC]. • I’ve been saying for some time that early voting is a horrid idea. Of course, we live in a horrid system, and Election Day should be a national holiday.
At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please leave links in comments.
Employment Situation: “February 2020 ADP Job Growth Is 183,000” [Econintersect]. “Last month’s employment gain was cut by nearly 1/3. The year-over-year growth rate is now 1.4 % with downward adjustment of the data beginning on November 2019 also shows 1.4 % year-over-year gain (it originally was 1.6% for the previous months). ADP employment has not been a good predictor of BLS non-farm private job growth.”
Shipping: “China cargo flows rapidly return to pre-coronavirus levels” [American Shipper]. “CargoMetrics has just released updated indices showing that both import and export cargo flows (measured in terms of the mass transferred on and off ships) have reverted to historical norms. ‘The bottom for Chinese imports and exports across pretty much all shipping sectors was on Feb. 15,’ said Dan Brutlag, Cargometrics’ head of trading signal and data products, in an interview with FreightWaves on Tuesday….. ‘Data tracking Chinese port calls shows a remarkable recovery over the last week. This could be due to reductions to port congestion and further data is needed to see if this trend is sustainable, or if there is a second dip once the initial backlogs are cleared,’ [said Frode Mørkedal, managing director of research at Clarksons Platou Securities]. On the negative side, Clarksons data does not yet show a recovery in VLCC (very large crude carrier) contracts to China.” • V-shaped, then? Or clearing backlog? We need more of that China air pollution data to know if manufacturing has returned…. But–
Shipping: “The coronavirus epidemic is slamming U.S. maritime gateways as Chinese factories struggle to ramp up production. Cargo volumes at many U.S. ports are forecast to plunge by 20% or more this quarter…. a slide that could ripple through domestic logistics networks. Container-ship operators are scaling back trans-Pacific service because there aren’t enough goods to fill ships” [Wall Street Journal]. “Analysts expect the dip to hurt business through April for rail and trucking operators already grappling with a tough freight market. ‘Carriers are going to have to hang in there a couple of months,’ Jeff Tucker of freight broker Tucker Company Worldwide Inc. says.”
Manufacturing: “The coronavirus cloud over Apple’s supplier Foxconn Technology Group may be lifting. The iPhone assembler expects its mainland China plants to return to normal production levels later this month… though output now is at about 50% of its seasonally required capacity” [Wall Street Journal].
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 12 Extreme Fear (previous close: 10 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 21 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 4 at 12:06pm.
There are far too few oil rigs here:
— Irène DB (@UrbanFoxxxx) February 26, 2020
Terrific photos, though!
“Judge voids oil and gas leases on almost 1 million acres of public lands” [The Hill]. “A federal judge on Thursday voided five oil and gas leases on public lands that amounted to nearly a million acres, arguing that the Trump administration wrongly excluded public input. The Western Watersheds Project and the Center for Biological Diversity argued in court that a 2018 Trump administration policy for handling oil and gas leasing on land where sage grouse can be found unlawfully restricted public participation. Federal Judge Ronald E. Bush ruled in their favor. Bush voided the five lease sales and required that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) change its procedures for oil and gas lease sales that are wholly or partially within sage grouse habitat management areas.”
“California gas prices might rise due to Carson oil refinery fire” [Los Angeles Times]. “The Marathon refinery is the largest on the West Coast, able to process 350,000 barrels a day. It’s one of the refineries that produces the gasoline blend required by the California Air Resources Board to reduce pollution. The fire was extinguished Wednesday morning. A portion of the refinery was shut down in response to the fire, Marathon said in a statement. It did not provide details on the extent of the damage.” • This is from last week, but haven’t we had rather a lot of oil industry fires and explosions lately? Philly, I am sure of, and some debacles in Houston as well.
“Down on the Farm That Harvests Metal From Plants” [New York Times]. “On a plot of land rented from a rural village on the Malaysian side of the island of Borneo, the group has proved it at small scale. Every six to 12 months, a farmer shaves off one foot of growth from these nickel-hyper-accumulating plants and either burns or squeezes the metal out. After a short purification, farmers could hold in their hands roughly 500 pounds of nickel citrate, potentially worth thousands of dollars on international markets. Now, as the team scales up to the world’s largest trial at nearly 50 acres, their target audience is industry. In a decade, the researchers hope that a sizable portion of insatiable consumer demand for base metals and rare minerals could be filled by the same kind of farming that produces the world’s coconuts and coffee.”
“China’s groundbreaking lunar rover found nearly 40 feet of dust on the far side of the moon” [Business Insider]. “The first rover ever to visit the far side of the moon has discovered a layer of lunar dust up to 12 meters (39 feet) deep… Lunar dust, also called regolith, is a talc-like substance of pulverized rock and dust that settled after asteroids bombarded the moon’s surface billions of years ago. The Chang’e 4 findings confirm that this dust also coats the far side of the moon, in a layer that the scientists described as ‘quite thick.'”
“SETI@home Search for Alien Life Project Shuts Down After 21 Years” [Bleeping Computer]. “SETI@home has announced that they will no longer be distributing new work to clients starting on March 31st as they have enough data and want to focus on completing their back-end analysis of the data. SETI@home is a distributed computing project where volunteers contribute their CPU resources to analyze radio data from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico and the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). “It’s a lot of work for us to manage the distributed processing of data. We need to focus on completing the back-end analysis of the results we already have, and writing this up in a scientific journal paper,” their news announcement stated.” • A fine example of citizen science.
“Public Health and Law Experts Issue Guidelines for U.S. Response to Coronavirus Transmission” [Yale Law School] (open letter). “‘This is a test of our society’s basic principles of fairness. It will be a disgrace if social status and income determine whether a person can get care or follow public health guidelines,’ said Scott Burris, the Director of Temple Law School’s Center for Public Health Law Research.” • Welcome to our planet, Scott! Here’s some reading for you. Thread:
I live in Seattle, I have all symptoms of COVID-19 and have a history of chronic bronchitis.
Since I work in a physical therapy clinic with many 65+ patients and those with chronic illnesses, I decided to be responsible and go to get tested. This is how that went.
— sketchy lady (@into_the_brush) March 3, 2020
And I know of other stories just like this one, or worse.
“FDA official expects 1M coronavirus tests to be available by week’s end” [The Hill]. “The U.S. will have the capacity by the end of the week to perform nearly 1 million coronavirus tests, public health officials said Monday. That would mark a significant increase in the number of people able to be tested for the coronavirus in the U.S. after issues with a test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) led to delays in diagnosing new cases. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn told reporters at the White House that new regulatory guidance will allow academic centers and private companies to more quickly develop and verify their own tests for public use.” •
“As Coronavirus Numbers Rise, C.D.C. Testing Comes Under Fire” [New York Times]. “[E]xperts, although supportive of the agency, were mystified that federal officials could have committed so many missteps. “The incompetence has really exceeded what anyone would expect with the C.D.C.,” said Dr. Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at Harvard University. ‘This is not a difficult problem to solve in the world of viruses.’ Soon after the virus surfaced in China, the C.D.C. got to work on its own test. ‘Generally, C.D.C. provides these tests for the world,’ said Dr. Frieden. But German researchers were devising their own test, which was quickly adopted by the World Health Organization for distribution around the world. After the C.D.C.’s version turned out to be flawed, the agency continued to pursue it, despite the fact that another diagnostic test was already in wide use.” • Turns out the CDC was using the same programming team that worked on MCAS…
“Health insurers are abruptly terminating anesthesiology contracts” [PNHP]. “Physician anesthesiologists are being forced out of network as insurance companies terminate their contracts, often with little or no notice, according to a new national survey from the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Initial results find 42% of respondents had contracts terminated in the last six months, while 43% of respondents experienced dramatic payment cuts from insurers — both mid-contract and at renewal — in some cases by as much as 60%. Some of the impacted contracts were signed less than six months ago. The informal, non-scientific survey, which was distributed earlier this month, received responses from 76 practice groups in 33 states. It confirms anecdotal complaints that proposed surprise medical bill legislation has coincided with a significant number of insurance contract terminations and unilateral lower payment adjustments by health insurance companies.”
“Can We Get a Vaccine Early? How the Rich Are Preparing for Coronavirus” [Bloomberg]. “But the rich can afford to prepare for a pandemic with perquisites, like private plane rides out of town, calls with world-leading experts and access to luxurious medical care. ‘It’s been a full-on war-room situation over here,’ said Jordan Shlain, an internist and managing partner of Private Medical, a high-end concierge service. The company is procuring hundreds of full-body coverings for work that includes visits in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and New York. ‘We have to beg, borrow or steal. Well, not steal — beg, borrow and pay.'” • No, Shlain would know somebody who steals.
News of the Wired
“Libraries Could Preserve Ebooks Forever, But Greedy Publishers Won’t Let Them” [Gizmodo]. “But why can only one person borrow one copy of an ebook at a time? Why are the waits so damn interminable? Well, it might not surprise you at all to learn that ebook lending is controversial in certain circles: circles of people who like to make money selling ebooks. Publishers impose rules on libraries that limit how many people can check out an ebook, and for how long a library can even offer that ebook on its shelves, because free, easily available ebooks could potentially damage their bottom lines. Libraries are handcuffed by two-year ebook licenses that cost way more than you and I pay to own an ebook outright forever.”
“Connectivity at the origins of domain specificity in the cortical face and place networks” [PNAS]. “It is well established that the adult brain contains a mosaic of domain-specific networks. But how do these domain-specific networks develop? . Using resting-state fMRI in the youngest sample of newborn humans tested to date, we indeed found that cortical networks that will later develop strong face selectivity (including the “proto” occipital face area and fusiform face area) and scene selectivity (including the “proto” parahippocampal place area and retrosplenial complex) by adulthood, already show domain-specific patterns of functional connectivity as early as 27 d of age (beginning as early as 6 d of age).” • I think the PNAS article is more clear than the Scientific American popularization. (In particular, I reject the idea that the brain is “pre-wired” or “wired” at all.)
why do ovens need a touchpad https://t.co/k2KPKZFB5E
— Internet of Shit (@internetofshit) February 29, 2020
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