By Lambert Strether of
Readers, my Mac laptop is in the shop for two days of recuperation after its keyboard transplant, so Water Cooler will be shorter than usual as I struggle with the different keyboard of my PC laptop, and the absence of my usual tools. And the free update to Windows 10, where 10 hours of downloading doesn’t seem to accomplish anything. Fortunately, Bill Gates has gone on to reorganize our educational system.
“One major source of Democratic voter distrust and skepticism that comes up repeatedly is a belief [i.e., reality –lambert] that ‘corporate Democrats’ sold out working people with ‘NAFTA-style’ trade deals” [Dave Johnson, ].
“Is Clinton really opposed to TPP? …
There is a test for that…Will she actively and boldly lobby against TPP, calling and visiting and working to convince the representatives and senators who voted for fast-track trade authority to vote against TPP?
Will she appear at anti-TPP rallies? Will she speak out again and again at her own campaign events? Will she express opposition on radio and TV interviews? Will she work to rally the media and public in opposition?
Not a snowball’s chance in hell.
“Combating Climate Change to Save the Planet” .
This is every kind of issue all at once: the financial cost of climate change makes it an economic issue, its effect on clean air and water quality make it a public health problem, its role in exacerbating global conflict and terrorism makes it a national security challenge and its disproportionate impacts on vulnerable communities and on our children and grandchildren make acting on climate change a moral obligation.
In a crisis, everything correllates…
“Three thoughts about Obama’s counterterrorism speech” [Daniel W. Drezner, ]:
wrote something that resonates with everything I’ve heard from the foreign policy people close to Obama:
[T]he core group of real ‘Obama people’ has a surprisingly dovish self-conception, where they see themselves operating in a world in which demands for military intervention are constant and endless — from the media, from congressional Republicans, from foreign governments and their allies in Washington, and from the permanent security bureaucracy itself — but America’s actual ability to engage in non-counterproductive interventions is quite limited.
The Oval Office address represents Obama’s best effort to meet the psychological needs of a frightened nation under attack while sticking on a policy level with a restrained policy that Obama recognizes is emotionally unsatisfying but that he regards as offering the best chance for success.
I concur with Yglesias’s assessment. The problem is that Obama is not meeting the very psychological needs that his team has identified.
Good, within Beltway parameters. Translating: The Democrats, as usual, have managed to create a Republican-Lite “compromise” that won’t solve anything and won’t win their opponents over (for both see, well, everything). Drezner’s hidden assumption is that Obama’s “restrained policy” of drone strikes, mercenaries, bombing, and regime change — which, granted, is more “restrained” than a Bush-style full-on invasion, an option no longer available to Obama because when exercised it broke the Army — is “restrained” enough to avoid blowback. Very obviously, it isn’t. The other hidden assumption is that anything Obama could do would win Republicans over. (Of course, the train to do anything other than appease the Republicans left the station in 2009, the first stop being 2010; Obama’s faction can’t catch it now.) There are two more muscular approaches, neither of which Obama can take: Go full on
Bush ClintonRepublican and call for all-out war; or tell America that a certain amount of blowback is the price of empire, so keep a stiff upper lip, hold your water, tamp down the hysteria, and deal. How many casualties did those poncey Brits take on the first day of the Battle of the Somme? 40,000 or something? The “frightened nation under attack” should suck it up.
“Hillary Clinton: How I’d Rein In Wall Street” [Hillary Clinton, ]. Stop taking their money. This is not hard.
“Is our ‘out of control’ political rhetoric really all that extraordinary?” . Interesting roundup, though it’s interesting to see historical events, like the Dean Scream, turned into well-worn, and inaccurate, tropes.
“Just let the Republicans win: Maybe things need to get really bad before America wakes up” . Maybe that wouldn’t “wake America up” — I’m not a worse is better guy — but it might purge the party of the leadership that has been such a disaster since… 2010… 2006… 2000…
Trump on Obama’s speech to the nation on terrorism:
Obama said in his speech that Muslims are our sports heroes. What sport is he talking about, and who? Is Obama profiling?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
Muhammad Ali? Hakeem Olajuwon? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?
Trump winning New Hampshire while avoiding retail politics [Politico].
“Is Iowa ready for Medicaid switch? Federal review begins this week” . Sanders should be capitalizing on this, as Clinton is trying to.
“Short-term rental clash in Des Moines” (Uber) . Another issue for Sanders.
“Dick Cheney’s Eternal Likeness to Be Unveiled in Senate’s Halls” . Cheney: “We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will.” Well, it used to be the dark side. Now it’s the new normal. Witness Cheney’s bust.
Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure, November 2015: “Americans’ daily self-reports of spending averaged $92 in November for a second month and roughly matches the November spending averages found since 2013, though it is among the highest for the month since 2008” . “Gallup found that average daily spending increased significantly this year during the last few days of November and on Black Friday specifically. This spending increase could be a good sign as the U.S. enters the December holiday shopping period.”
Labor Market Conditions Index, November 2015: “Friday’s employment report, led by a 211,000 rise in non-farm payrolls, was solid but didn’t give the labor market conditions index much of a boost, coming in at only 0.5 vs expectations for 1.7” . “The October index, however, was revised 6 tenths higher to 2.2 reflecting in part the upward revision to that month’s nonfarm payroll growth which now stands at a very impressive 298,000.”
“So this is interesting–looks like approximately 4 million people who were not considered in the labor force, and therefore not counted as unemployed, have been getting jobs every month” (FRED Chart) . “And also each month over 4 million people have left their jobs and left the labor force and are therefore not considered unemployed.”
“Allowing everyday Americans to invest in today’s high-growth startups—picture grandma and grandpa putting a portion of their retirement savings into the next pre-IPO Facebook—has long been the dream of advocates of so-called equity crowdfunding” [, “Tech Startup Crowdfunding Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be”]. Sure. Unicorn valuations are totes reliable; I can’t imagine a more trustworthy set of individuals to hand over my grandma’s retirement savings to.
Shipping: “The rule, which kicks in next July in 171 countries, requires exporters to certify the weight of containers before they’re loaded onto ships” [, “New Shipping Container Rule Riles Exporters”]. With funny pictures of ships tipping over. I wonder if the rule will affect stats in any way?
Honey for the Bears: “Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service released reports Thursday showing that the number of companies in the low end of junk territory and a negative outlook rose to the highest level in five years. Indeed, Moody’s said the list is approaching a high previously reached during the financial crisis” .
Honey for the Bears: “Former global macro fund manager Raoul Pal says there’s now a 65% chance of a global recession” . Pal’s “key indicator,” ISM, is now “flashing red.” But one of the odd things about our new normal is that nothing that flashes red stays red for long; or green, either. That said, the greatest “recovery” EVAH is getting awfully long in the tooth, isn’t it?
The Fed: “The US employment data removed what was perceived as the last potential hurdle to Fed decision to hike rates later this month” [Brown Brothers Harriman, ]. The BLS employment data is subject to backward revision. So let’s hope Yellen didn’t take away an imaginary punchbowl.
The Fed: “i don’t think a small rate hike will destroy the economy, but it does signal that the Fed will never allow wage growth again” .
Black Injustice Tipping Point
“Mpls. protesters signal impatience with civil rights ‘old guard'” . So, enter the Teach for America neo-liberals, the new Black Misleadership class [head, desk].
“Baltimore eviction rate among highest in country, study says” .
“You Are Not Going to Resist the Government With Your Guns” . After the first paragraph, the definitive takedown. I hope we hear no more of this nonsense.
“Bulletproof blankets are now being marketed at American school kids to help them survive massacres” . The magic of the marketplace.
“ALICE — which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate — teaches students, teachers, and school administrators how to defend themselves against school shooters” . I think we’ve learned a very important lesson here today, kids!
“Mass Shootings in 2015” . Handy wiki. In fact, the good folks selling bulletproof blankets and school shooting training could use it as a marketing tool!
“In the video of the convocation released by the university, [Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr.] says, ‘I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in.’ The rest of his sentence is drowned out by loud applause as he says, ‘… and killed them.’ … ‘Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here,’ Falwell told the students” . “When some cried foul over Falwell’s phrasing of ‘those Muslims,’ Falwell believes that it was clear he was talking about the extremists who carried out attacks in Paris and California.” Of course, of course.
Dear Old Blighty
“[Manchester MP Graham Stringer, a leading Labour moderate:] ‘Politics is a results business and [Corbyn] has passed the first test [in the Oldham by-election]. I would now expect changes to the Shadow Cabinet. Those Labour MPs like me who didn’t vote for him have to accept he is there until, like any other leader, he fails a major electoral challenge’ . The Labour Blairites won’t stop whinging until they are out of politics altogether, not just out of office. That’s what happened to the Whigs in the US.
“Campsites can be considered the first human landscape, the first area of land whose visible features were entirely constructed by humans. Given the social meaning of campsites in hunter-gatherer life-styles, this engraving may be considered one of the first representations of the domestic and social space of a human group” .
“Why Climate Skeptics Are Wrong” . More interesting argument than ususal:
t some point in the history of all scientific theories, only a minority of scientists—or even just one—supported them, before evidence accumulated to the point of general acceptance. The Copernican model, germ theory, the vaccination principle, evolutionary theory, plate tectonics and the big bang theory were all once heretical ideas that became consensus science. How did this happen?
An answer may be found in what 19th-century philosopher of science William Whewell called a “consilience of inductions.” For a theory to be accepted, Whewell argued, it must be based on more than one induction—or a single generalization drawn from specific facts. It must have multiple inductions that converge on one another, independently but in conjunction.
Which is what’s happening on climate:
It is not because of the sheer number of scientists. After all, science is not conducted by poll. As Albert Einstein said in response to a 1931 book skeptical of relativity theory entitled 100 Authors against Einstein, “Why 100? If I were wrong, one would have been enough.” The answer is that there is a convergence of evidence from multiple lines of inquiry—pollen, tree rings, ice cores, corals, glacial and polar ice-cap melt, sea-level rise, ecological shifts, carbon dioxide increases, the unprecedented rate of temperature increase—that all converge to a singular conclusion. AGW doubters point to the occasional anomaly in a particular data set, as if one incongruity gainsays all the other lines of evidence. But that is not how consilience science works. For AGW skeptics to overturn the consensus, they would need to find flaws with all the lines of supportive evidence and show a consistent convergence of evidence toward a different theory that explains the data. (Creationists have the same problem overturning evolutionary theory.) This they have not done.
“Study shows FIFA ranks second in good governance among 35 federations” . Rather like CalPERS among pension funds, then.
“The Securities and Exchange Commission charged three Chicago-based traders on Thursday with “spoofing” options exchanges into paying them undeserved rebates and gaming market rules to pay lower fees” [Francine McKenna, ]. Again, they can’t help themselves. It’s a fishing equilibrium!
“Richest 20 Americans Own More Wealth Than The Entire Bottom Half Of The Country: Report” . But I bet they still put their pants on eight tentacles at a time!
Sanders: “Let’s be clear: The reason we haven’t solved climate change isn’t because we’re not doing our part, it’s because a small subsection of the one percent are hell-bent on doing everything in their power to block action” . And: “It’s time for a political revolution that takes on the fossil fuel billionaires, accelerates our transition to clean energy and finally puts people before the profits of polluters.” Nice to see the Koch brothers categorized in class(ish) terms, instead of simply being painted as demon figures.
“There are too many PhD students for too few academic jobs — but with imagination, the problem could be solved” . Well, who says “too many”? The administrators, of whom there are never too many?
“Meal Plan Costs Tick Upward as Students Pay for More Than Food” . All about the fees fees, as usual. There is no reason, literally no reason, for college to cost any more today than it did forty years ago. And there is also no reason tuition should not be set at zero. It is in Germany; are they rich, and we poor?
“Wainhouse Research, a consulting firm in Duxbury, Mass., estimates that a knowledge worker — one whose job focuses on handling information — in the United States spends an average of 104 minutes each month in conference calls. Such calls have become an orgy of multitasking, serving as a backdrop for a free-for-all of household chores, personal hygiene, online shopping and last-minute income tax filing” [New York Times]. “As a result, conference calls give rise to what could well be society’s most widespread, implicitly sanctioned collection of antisocial behaviors.” Actually, no. It’s the meaningless corporate drivel and ritual fealty that’s anti-social. What’s anti-social about filing your taxes, for pity’s sake?
“The Woman Who Invented ‘on Fleek’ Still Hasn’t Seen a Dime for It” . Ted Nelson solved that problem with Xanadu’s payment system, IIRC. Sadly, Xanadu’s completion date was always six months away, and today we have the web.
News of the Wired
“Drew Ackerman’s ‘Sleep With Me,’ a thrice-weekly podcast that is intentionally designed to bore its listeners to sleep” .
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Readers, feel free to with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (Kokuanani):
A papaya tree grown from seed!
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