2:00PM Water Cooler 3/6/2020 | naked capitalism


By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I had a brief power failure at 1:55PM, after which the modems were confused and unhappy; I’ll do a bit of clean-up now, including the plant! –lambert UPDATE All done!
“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.)

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We encourage readers to play around with the polling charts; they are dynamic, and there are a lot of settings, more than I can usefully show here. Here is a link to alert reader dk’s project. You can also file bug reports or feature requests using the same contact process as for Plants, below. Thanks — but no promises!
Because the Democrats “settled all family business” (hat tip, Matt Taibbi) in favor of Joe Biden with such brutal dispatch, we still have no national polls with Biden, Sanders, and Gabbard only. And we have no new state polls.
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UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(1): “‘This Was a Grift’: Bloomberg Staffers Explain Campaign’s Demise” [The Nation]. “Not a single Bloomberg staffer that I spoke to was surprised by the campaign’s implosion. Speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of professional reprisal and because of the campaign’s nondisclosure agreements—which The Nation obtained a leaked copy of in February—campaign employees cited that bruising debate as well as a general lack of enthusiasm for Bloomberg among the staff for ending his presidential run. ‘Ever since the first debate all of us faced a ton of hostility [when knocking on] doors…and could hardly get any volunteers,’ one field organizer told me. ‘I once had a woman chase me back to my car demanding that I say you can’t buy the presidency*. … But despite an almost limitless budget, the Bloomberg campaign would learn that money can’t buy loyalty. Staffers described an almost total lack of belief in Bloomberg himself. ‘Most people knew this was a grift,’ one campaign official explained, describing even leadership as being unwilling to fulfill basic campaign responsibilities. ‘At our first office meeting, my [director] said, ‘We don’t need to canvass. We can just make calls, right guys?’ And everyone was like, ‘Yeah, that’s sensible.’” • This is a fun article, well worth a read, straight from The Department of Schadenfreude. NOTE * Maybe some other campaign can leverage this? “Unbought and unbossed”-style of thing? And speaking of that—
UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(2): “Mike Bloomberg plans new group to support Democratic nominee” [WaPo]. “Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg has decided to form an independent expenditure campaign that will absorb hundreds of his presidential campaign staffers in six swing states to work to elect the Democratic nominee this fall. The group, with a name that is still undisclosed because its trademark application is in process, would also be a vehicle for Bloomberg to spend money on advertising to attack President Trump and support the Democratic nominee, according to a person familiar with the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal deliberations.” • So the grift continues? So awesome.
Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders needs to find the killer instinct” [Matthew Walther, The Week]. I’ve heard Useful Idiots, Dead Pundits, and the inimitable Jimmy Dore all make the same point, but Walther’s prose makes the point most forcefully (as prose often does). The situation:

There is no greater contrast imaginable than the one between the popular (and frequently exaggerated) image of so-called “Bernie bros” and the almost painfully conciliatory instincts of the man they support. This was fully in evidence on Wednesday afternoon when Sanders responded to arguably the worst defeat of his political career by chatting with journalists about how “disgusted” he is at unspecified online comments directed at Elizabeth Warren and her supporters and what a “decent guy” Joe Biden is. He did this despite the fact that Warren, with the connivance of debate moderators, recently called him a sexist in front of an audience of millions, effectively announcing that she had no interest in making even a tacit alliance with the only other progressive candidate in the race and, one imagines, despite thinking that the former vice president’s record on virtually everything — finance, health care, race relations, the environment, foreign policy — should render him ineligible for office.
It should go without saying that offering these pleasantries will do Sanders few if any favors.

Lambert here: This is a Presidential primary, not the Senate floor. There is no comity. Walther then gives a list of possible scorched earth tactics to use against Biden; we could all make such a list. But then:
Sanders’s benevolent disposition does him credit. But the same character traits that make him an honorable politician also make him fundamentally unsuited for the difficult task of waging a successful outsider campaign for the nomination of a major political party.
Corbyn had the same problem. Again let me play the Dennis Green video I posted the other day, but without the NFL trappings:

For a long time, I reveled in “They are who we thoughtthey were.” “They” being liberal Democrats. But the next sentence is the real source of Green’s rage: “And we let ’em off the hook.” (I wish the HTML “blink” tag was still supported, because if it were I’d use it.) Sanders really must not let Biden and the Democrat Establishment off the hook. He seems to have poor judgment about his friends. Warren was no “friend.” And neither is Joe Biden. If Sanders wants friends, he can buy a dog. He should forget those false friends, go into the next debate, and slice Joe Biden off at the knees. Trump would. And will, if Sander loses. His canvassers and more importantly his millions of small donors deserve no less. The race and the debate is now between two people, and only one can emerge the winner. Sanders needs to decide if he wants to be that person, and then do what it takes. (If the outcome of the Sanders campaign is a left that is a permanently institutionalized force, distinct from liberal Democrats, I would regard that as a net positive. If that is Sanders’ ultimate goal, then fine. He’s not going to achieve that goal by being nice to Joe Biden. Quite the reverse.)
UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): “Time To Fight Harder Than We’ve Ever Fought Before” [Nathan J. Robinson, Current Affairs]. “Biden now has some formidable advantages going forward: Democrats who no longer see him as a failed or risky bet will finally endorse and campaign for him. He will find it easier to raise money. He will have “momentum.” Bloomberg’s exit will bring him new voters. Sanders may find upcoming states even harder to win than the Super Tuesday contests. But the one thing that would guarantee a Sanders loss is giving up and going home, which is exactly what Joe Biden hopes we will now do.” • Here follows a laundry list of tactics. Then: “The real thing Bernie needs in order to win, though, is external support. Labor unions, activists, lawmakers, anyone with a public platform: We need to be pressuring them to endorse Bernie. Why hasn’t Sara Nelson, head of the Flight Attendants’ Union, endorsed Bernie? (Personally I have always thought she’d be a good VP.) Now that Elizabeth Warren is clearly not going to win, will organizations like the Working Families Party and EMILY’s List and people like AFT president Randi Weingarten and Medicare For All advocate Ady Barkan switch and endorse Sanders? Where is the Sierra Club, SEIU (Bernie, after all, was one of the first national figures to push Fight for $15), the UAW, Planned Parenthood? Many progressive organizations have been sitting out the race because Warren was in it.” • Good ideas in general, but Robinson is dreaming if he thinks Non-Profit Industrial Complex entities like EMILY’s List and Planned Parenthood will lift a finger to help Sanders, or busines unionists like Randi Weingarten. To his credit, though, Ady Barkan switched immediately. External support, though is correct: IIRC, there are plenty of union locals to be had; the Culinary Workers should be only the first.
Warren (D)(1): “Why Elizabeth Warren lost” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. “Starting in November, however, she started a long decline that continued through January, when she started losing primaries…. So what happened in November? It is hard to pin down exactly what is happening in such a chaotic race, but Warren’s campaign certainly made a number of strategic errors. One important factor was surely that Warren started backing away from Medicare-for-all, selling instead a bizarre two-step plan. The idea supposedly was to pass universal Medicare with two different bills, one in her first year as president and one in the third year. Given how difficult it is to pass anything through Congress, and that there could easily be fewer Democrats in 2023 than in 2021, it was a baffling decision. Worse, Warren then released a plan for financing Medicare-for-all that was simply terrible. Rather than levying a new progressive tax, she would turn existing employer contributions to private health insurance plans into a tax on employers, which would gradually converge to an average for all businesses but the smallest. The clear objective here was to claim that she would pay for it without levying any new taxes on the middle or working classes. But because those employer payments are still part of labor compensation, it is ultimately workers who pay them — making Warren’s plan a horribly regressive head tax (that is, an equal dollar tax on almost all workers regardless of income). All that infuriated the left, and struck directly at Warren’s branding as the candidate of technical competence. It suggested her commitment to universal Medicare was not as strong as she claimed, and that she would push classic centrist-style Rube Goldberg policies rather than clean, fair ones. (Her child care plan, with its complicated means-testing system, had a similar defect). Claiming her plan was the only one not to raise taxes on the middle class was simply dishonest. In sum, this was a classic failed straddle that alienated the left but gained no support among anti-universal health care voters. More speculatively, this kind of hesitation and backtracking may have turned off many voters.” • On #MedicareForAll, called it here on “pay for”; and here on “transition.” Warren’s plans should not have been well-received, and they were not. I’m only amazed that these really technical arguments penetrated the media (let along the voters).
Warren (D)(2): “Warren Urged by National Organization for Women Not to Endorse Sanders: He Has ‘Done Next to Nothing for Women’” [Newsweek]. • Establishment really pulling out all the stops.
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“Why Southern Democrats Saved Biden” [Mara Gay, New York Times]. (Gay was the lone member of the Times Editorial Board to endorse Sanders.) “Through Southern eyes, this election is not about policy or personality. It’s about something much darker. Not long ago, these Americans lived under violent, anti-democratic governments. Now, many there say they see in President Trump and his supporters the same hostility and zeal for authoritarianism that marked life under Jim Crow…. They were deeply skeptical that a democratic socialist like Mr. Sanders could unseat Mr. Trump. They liked Ms. Warren, but, burned by Hillary Clinton’s loss, were worried that too many of their fellow Americans wouldn’t vote for a woman.” • Well worth a read. At the same time, it’s not clear why the Democrat Establishment hands control over the nomination to the political establisment in states they will never win in the general; the “firewall” in 2016 didn’t work out all that well, after all. As for Jim Crow, we might do well to remember that Obama destroyed a generation of Black wealth his miserably inadequate response to the foreclosure crisis, and his pathetic stimulus package kept Black unemployment high for years longer than it should have been. And sowed the dragon’s teeth of authoritarian reaction as well.
“Corporate Lobbyists Control the Rules at the DNC” [ReadSludge]. “Among the 447 total voting DNC members, who make up the majority of 771 superdelegates, there are scores of corporate lobbyists and consultants—including many of the 75 at-large DNC members, who were not individually elected…. The 32-member DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee contains the following 20 individuals: a health insurance board member co-chair, three surrogates for presidential campaigns (two for Bloomberg, one for Biden), four current corporate lobbyists, two former corporate lobbyists, six corporate consultants, and four corporate lawyers.”

2016 Post Mortem

“Hillary Clinton’s Neverending Story” [The New Republic]. “Right on cue, at that observation, the shambling, tousle-haired democratic socialist Bernie Sanders appears on-screen, seeking Clinton’s advice on his jacket backstage before a Democratic primary event. ‘You could start buttoned,’ she suggests. ‘Then, when you get wound up, you can unbutton.’ If you focus on Clinton’s face, this second scene could almost be a rerun of the first: As the two opponents stand around in awkward silence, her smile freezes, her eyes roam around as if desperate to avoid his, she lets out a sigh, and her whole frame registers barely repressed loathing.” • Anyone else feel like paging Dr. Freud about those buttons?
“Bill Clinton says Lewinsky affair was to ‘manage anxieties’” [France24]. “‘It was awful what I did,’ the 73-year-old added.” • And in the age of #MeToo, Bill Clinton is still a respected party elder (and still cashing in, assuming he gets a cut of the Hulu mockumentary). It’s always OK when our guy does it.

Realignment and Legitimacy

You hate to see it:

We need each other. Main Street and Wall Street must come together.
We are #StrongerTogether https://t.co/kILMfYc5Fy
— Donna Brazile (@donnabrazile) March 6, 2020

I dunno. Wall Street and Main Street came together pretty good after the Crash, and Wall Street got a multi-trillion dollar bailout. How’d that work out for Main Street?
“‘Life After Bernie’: The Young Left Braces for Disappointment in 2020” [Politico]. “That word—community—is central to the worldview of the young socialists I met in Columbus, for three reasons. First, it explains their powerful feeling of tribal belonging, a tight bond with like-minded people whose beliefs and experiences reaffirm their own. Second, it molds their approach around the principles inherent to their ideology: shared ownership, shared sacrifice, shared success and shared failure. Third, and most important, it prioritizes their activism from the inside-out: National races are sexy, but neighborhood organizing is essential. Only after I understood this could I fathom why the debate wasn’t drawing a more engaged audience—and why the DSA members were surprisingly sanguine about the outcome of 2020, even with their standard-bearer closing in on America’s ultimate political prize.” • The next DSA convention should be interesting…..
“What To Know About The Election Security Situation After Super Tuesday” [National Public Radio]. “”Tuesday may have been a success, from the perspective of foreign influence — but folks ought to remain vigilant,” said David Levine, a former elections supervisor who now serves as elections integrity fellow with the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a group in Washington…. The problems and disruptions that took place around the country were connected with elections equipment systems, shortages of poll workers and long lines of voters…. [Said Levine: ‘The perception of interference can be as dangerous as interference — the administration of elections need to be as seamless as possible. Long lines at polling places can mean people choosing to leave lines and not vote, or not vote in future … it has the ability to undermine the democratic process and play into the hands of foreign adversaries.’” • Holy Lord. Creating long lines at polling places is the oldest trick in the book. When will somebody say the real adversaries of free and fair elections are not foreign, but domestic?
UPDATE “State Election Board Investigating Athens-Clarke’s Decision To Use Hand-Marked Paper Ballots” [Georgia Public Broadcasting]. “The Georgia State Election Board is holding an emergency hearing in Athens next week to determine whether Athens-Clarke County is violating several state laws by not conducting elections on the state’s new $104 million voting system. According to a notice sent to the county board of elections, Athens-Clarke officials should be prepared to present evidence explaining why it voted 3-2 to determine that it would be ‘impossible and impracticable’ to use the ballot-marking devices. Athens-Clarke officials have moved to paper ballots instead.” • What the County says:

Athens-Clarke Co Board of Elections voted to use #HandMarkedPaperBallots to protect voters from problems of new hackable, glitchy BMD system (violatation of ballot secrecy, long lines).Now the State of GA is going after them.#StandWithAthensClarkePack Hearing — WED, 3/11, 10am pic.twitter.com/jz3qtE3nRT
— Friends of Coalition for Good Governance (@FriendsOfCGG) March 6, 2020

All correct. Crooks are writing the law.

Stats Watch
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 contact me at the email address below.
These stats do not take #COVID-19 into account:
Wholesale Trade: “January 2020 Headline Wholesale Sales Improve” [Econintersect]. “Overall, the rolling averages tell the real story – and they improved this month. This sector’s growth seems to be changing from the long term downtrend to at least a flat trend.”
Trade: “January 2020 Trade Showing Signs Of Weakness” [Econintersect]. “The data in this series wobbles and the 3-month rolling averages are the best way to look at this series. The 3-month average rate of growth was little changed for imports and exports.”
Employment Situation: “February 2020 BLS Jobs Situation Again Shows Significant Improvement” [Econintersect]. “Notable job gains occurred in health care and social assistance, food services and drinking places, government, construction, professional and technical services, and financial activities…. This report was surprisingly good.”
Leading Indicators: “28 February 2020 ECRI’s WLI Growth Rate Continues To Decline” [Econintersect]. “[T]here is little growth forecast in the business cycle six months from today.”
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Tech: “Apple is rejecting coronavirus apps that aren’t from health organizations, app makers say” [CNBC]. Note annotations. “Apple is cracking down on apps related to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak that aren’t from recognized institutions like governments or hospitals, iPhone developers told CNBC. Four independent developers told CNBC that Apple rejected their apps, which would allow people to see stats about which countries have confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Some of these apps used public data from reliable sources like the World Health Organization (WHO) to create dashboards or live maps. Some developers asked not to be named to avoid further complications with Apple’s review process. One developer said an Apple employee explained over the phone that anything related to the coronavirus must be released by [A] an official health organization or government. Another developer got a written response that “apps with information about current medical information need to be submitted by [B] a recognized institution,” according to a screenshot seen by CNBC.” • Note that the criterion at [A] would not include Johns Hopkins; [B] would (for some definition of “recognize”). And is data from China allowed or not? Sloppy.
Tech: “5 years of Intel CPUs and chipsets have a concerning flaw that’s unfixable” [Ars Technica]. “Virtually all Intel chips released in the past five years contain an unfixable flaw that may allow sophisticated attackers to defeat a host of security measures built into the silicon…. Because the flaw resides in the CSME mask ROM, a piece of silicon that boots the very first piece of CSME firmware, the vulnerability can’t be patched with a firmware update. ‘This vulnerability jeopardizes everything Intel has done to build the root of trust and lay a solid security foundation on the company’s platforms,’ Mark Ermolov, lead specialist of OS and hardware security at security firm Positive Technologies wrote in a post detailing the bug. ‘The problem is not only that it is impossible to fix firmware errors that are hard-coded in the mask ROM of microprocessors and chipsets. The larger worry is that, because this vulnerability allows a compromise at the hardware level, it destroys the chain of trust for the platform as a whole.’” • I guess the MCAS coders wrote this in their spare time?
Tech: “Privacy-focused DuckDuckGo launches new effort to block online tracking” [CNet] (Tracker Radar). “The company said Thursday it’s started sharing a data set called Tracker Radar that details 5,326 internet domains used by 1,727 companies and organizations that track you online. The data is available to anyone, and browser maker Vivaldi said on Tuesday it has begun doing so. ‘There will be others using it,’ including browsers more widely used than Vivaldi, DuckDuckGo founder and Chief Executive Gabriel Weinberg said in an exclusive interview.”
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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 6 Extreme Fear (previous close: 9 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 10 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 6 at 12:34pm.

Our Famously Free Press
Plot twist:

Whew. This did not go the way I thought it was! Hahahaha pic.twitter.com/B0xoIGdqNR
— Kalen Allen (@TheKalenAllen) March 5, 2020

News of the Wired
“Three Fourths of Dogs Are Angst-Ridden—and Owners May Be Partly to Blame” [Scientific American (original)]. “James Serpell, an ethologist at the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study, says that the problem stems from owners failing to properly socialize their dogs. Many canines rescued from shelters may have been inadequately trained when they were young, and the problem is compounded when new owners are overly cautious with them. “It’s a sort of helicopter-parenting concept applied to dogs,” he says. ‘Animals are not getting enough exposure to normal social interactions, play behavior and roughhousing with other dogs. That’s asking for trouble.’”
“Understanding the mother-breastmilk-infant ‘triad’” [Science]. “Breastmilk does not stand alone; maternal physiology, breastmilk composition, and infant physiology are parts of a coadapting system, with variations in each influencing the trajectory of infant development and maternal health…. Childhood malnutrition contributes to 45% of deaths worldwide in those under the age of five; it manifests early in life and involves disruption of multiple biological systems fundamental to healthy growth, including host pathways influenced by the developing gut microbiota, which are key consumers of breastmilk constituents… These findings support the idea that healthy growth is linked in part to healthy development of the gut microbiota. They also raise the question of what factors shape microbial community development during the period of exclusive breastmilk feeding, and as children transition to complementary foods during the weaning period.” • Makes you wonder what the effect of Nestlé’s “infant milk formula” might be…
“The Inconvenient Truth about Your “Authentic” Self” [Scientific American]. “[A]uthenticity is a slippery thing. Although most people would define authenticity as acting in accordance with your idiosyncratic set of values and qualities, research has shown that people feel most authentic when they conform to a particular set of socially approved qualities, such as being extroverted, emotionally stable, conscientious, intellectual and agreeable. This is the paradox of authenticity: In order to reap the many of the benefits of feeling authentic, you may have to betray your true nature.”
“Scientists monitored brains replaying memories in real time” [National Institutes of Heatlh] (original). “‘Memory plays a crucial role in our lives. Just as musical notes are recorded as grooves on a record, it appears that our brains store memories in neural firing patterns that can be replayed over and over again,’ said Kareem Zaghloul, M.D., Ph.D., a neurosurgeon-researcher at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and senior author of the study published in Science.” • Please, let’s not use these discoveries for marketing.
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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi 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 (AA):

AA writes: “Cottonwood and mesquite riparian forest patch, Tonto National Forest near Superior, AZ.” Always a lovely feeling, stepping over a running brook in dappled light under the trees.
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