Via Naked Capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers:

Well, that was embarrassing! More to come, partly because I need to make up for yesterday, partly because I got wrapped round the axle on two hairballs, and that metaphor might not be mixed: Mulvaney and Canning town. –lambert

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“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

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Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart. Here is (are) the latest Dem Primary Polling as of 10/18/2019, 12:00 PM EDT:

Joe Biden’s brutallly effective juggernaut rolls on; he’s got cash now, after all. Sanders’ heart attack had no impact (though if the impact is to put a ceiling on his vote that would not be evident), and Warren hasn’t put him away. And here are the poll results:

I’ve gotta put in some counters for the IA, NH, SC, and NV, as well as CA. Current polling (from RCP, yech):

If I were a Sanders supporter, I’d be worried about all four. IA because the expectation from 2016 is that Sanders will win (even if his opponent then carried an enormous amount of baggage), ditto NH, SC needs more than the black youth vote, and NV, where he is doing best, because (a) that’s Reid’s patch, and Reid is tight with Warren, and (b) the local Democrat loyalists have shown themselves adept at skuduggery. Interestingly, Sanders is doing quite well in California, at with Biden 23.8, Warren 22,0, and Sanders 21.0. All that will change, of course, after the initial four primaries.

I think dk has started a really neat project, and in the near future we’ll seek your feedback (within reason) for the tool “live.”

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Biden (D)(1): “With Warren’s rise, Biden faces Dems’ anxiety about 2020 bid” [Associated Press]. “Joe Biden is confronting growing anxiety among would-be allies in the Democratic establishment about his ability to win the presidential nomination following underwhelming debate performances, lagging fundraising and withering attacks from rivals in his own party and from President Donald Trump . The former vice president’s bank account is better suited for a city council race than a presidential election, warns Terry McAuliffe, a former Virginia governor and Democratic National Committee chairman.” • Ouch! More: “Democratic donor Robert Zimmerman describes group ‘therapy sessions’ with some party financiers haranguing the direction of the race. And in New Hampshire, state House Speaker Steve Shurtleff is leaning toward backing Biden, but says ‘people wish he’d be a little more forceful.’ Their concern is heightened by the rise of Elizabeth Warren, a progressive long viewed by current and former elected officials, big donors and veteran strategists as too liberal to beat Trump in the general election. Warren and Biden are essentially tied at the top of the race with the rest of the field lagging behind.” • (Note that dk’s polling indicates that there’s a third, unmentioned candidate very much in the race.) • If the party grandees can’t accept Warren (let alone Sanders), wants to throw Biden under the bus, knows that Harris came up lame, who’s left? Mayo Pete?

Bloomberg (D)(1): “Mike Bloomberg now hints he may run for president as Warren surges, Biden sags” [Salon]. “Bloomberg has told his inner circle that he is “still looking at” running for president, according to the report, though associates said he would only jump in if Biden slid so badly that he is forced to drop out early in the primaries. CNBC previously reported that Bloomberg was considering spending more than $100 million of his own money to fund a centrist run.” •

Buttigeig (D)(1): “Buttigieg removes attorney from fundraiser after backlash” [Associated Press]. “Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is returning campaign contributions from a former Chicago city attorney who led a vigorous effort to block the release of a video depicting the shooting of Laquan McDonald , a black teenager whose death at the hands of police stirred months of protest and resulted in an officer’s conviction. Buttigieg is also removing Steve Patton as a sponsor of a Chicago fundraiser that will be held Friday, his campaign said. The move comes after The Associated Press reported on the event Friday morning and Buttigieg faced fierce online backlash.” • Sloppy staffwork!

Gabbard (D)(1): “Hillary Clinton appears to suggest Russians are ‘grooming’ Tulsi Gabbard for third-party run” [CNN]. • Clinton easing into her role as “kingmaker” by picking off one of the weaker candidates.

Warren (D)(1): “My Warren Problem” [Richard Goldstein, First of the Month (MsExpat)]. “A real transformation has to be truly popular, and right now, Warren’s movement is parochial. It’s sense of the feasible is shaped by an environment that broadcasts its beliefs. Social media amplifies these assumptions exponentially, and the lust for clicks and ratings creates an echo chamber that can block the truth from sounding. Every blip in Warren’s numbers reverberates, and the result is an exultant mood that doesn’t reach very far beyond Rachel Maddow’s demographics. If I’m proven wrong, I’ll gladly eat my locally sourced hemp hat. But I’ve worked in liberal media long enough to know where its interests lie. It relies on the economic power of the professional classes, and it plays to their biases. No one makes stuff up, but a pervasive semiotics—the tone of headlines, the choice of images, decisions about whose name comes first in a list of candidates [or is disappeared from the list –lambert]—is always at work. It can seem that everything you read and watch affirms what your tribe believes. You wake up on the morning after the election in a state of shock because you never saw the outcome that was looming. This is the danger we face again.” • So I’m not the only one. The whole piece is well worth a read, contrarian though it be. MsExpat comments: “Do you know who Richard Goldstein is? He is the longtime editor at the Village Voice, in its heyday. I’m surprised he wrote this, since it goes against the grain of NY liberal orthodoxy as exemplified by another ex Voice writer like Joe Conason or Michael Tomasky.”

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“Mulvaney admitted to a quid pro quo with Ukraine. Was that a genius move?” [Guardian]. “nd there it was, practically out of the blue, at a press conference, Donald Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, by and large admitted that the president held back military aid to force Ukraine to investigate the business dealings of Hunter Biden. Asked whether the administration had told the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, that funding would not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened as well, Mulvaney said: ‘We do – we do that all the time with foreign policy.’” • That, dear readers, is a classic Kinsley gaffe: “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.” More: “But it also completely changes the importance of the impeachment procedure in the House. When the House committee will find evidence for the quid pro quo deal, which seems near certain at this point, many people, and particularly most Republicans, will respond much more blasé. “We already knew that.” It raises the bar for the committee to come up with something ‘new’ and ‘shocking.’” • Lost amidst all the triumphalist yammering is the fact that liberal Democrats have now succeeded in defining corruption down to quid pro quo, against the Framer’s intent (see Zephyr Teachout), although naturally in conformance with the Republican view in Citizen’s United, because who doesn’t love them some conservative jurisprudence when money’s at stake?

“Diplomat tells investigators he raised alarms in 2015 about Hunter Biden’s Ukraine work but was rebuffed” [WaPo]. “George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state, testified Tuesday that he worried that Hunter Biden’s position at the firm Burisma Holdings would complicate efforts by U.S. diplomats to convey to Ukrainian officials the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality rules surrounding the deposition. Kent said he had concerns that Ukrainian officials would view Hunter Biden as a conduit for currying influence with his father, said the people. But when Kent raised the issue with Biden’s office, he was told the then-vice president didn’t have the “bandwidth” to deal with the issue involving his son as his other son, Beau, was battling cancer, said the people familiar with his testimony.” • Ah, the Beau card. So, I mean, obviously, confronted with the spectre of the soon-to-be-only son of a Presidential candidate being open to kompromat, what Trump should have done was hire a law firm (Republican equivalent of Perkins Coie), to hire a cut-out (Republican equivalent of Fusion GPS), to hire an intelligence community-adjacent foreign oppo researcher (Republican equivalent of Steele), to get to the truth of the matter, dag nab it, and then route it through appropriate channels, including anonymously to the press. Instead, being Trump, he cut out all the layers indirection and got crass. You hate to see it.


“Democrats have reason to worry after the last presidential debate” [The Hill]. “the eventual nominee must make an emotional connection. This election cannot be about academic policies or convoluted plans that voters know will never pass Congress. It must be about connecting with people and laying out a better path forward for the country. Democrats have no choice other than to rely on historic turnout from African Americans, suburban women, and millenials. Without those critical demographics, Democrats risk another loss to Trump.” • The author “served on the Democratic presidential campaigns for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Delaney.” You “serve” in the government or the military, not a political campaign, for pity’s sake.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Stats Watch

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Leading Indicators, September 2019: “The index of leading economic indicators is pointing increasingly to slowing ahead” [Econoday]. “The report said the results reflect uncertainty in the outlook and falling business expectations.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 50 Neutral (previous close: 50, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 42 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 18 at 1:21pm.

The Biosphere

Tactical issues, here:

Perhaps some of our UK readers can enlighten me on Extinction Rebellion’s choice of venue. “Canning Town… remains among the 5 per cent most deprived areas in the UK.” Just two stops down the Jubilee Line is Canary Wharf, “one of the main financial centres of the United Kingdom.” What’s the lesson here? “Rebel for life” means that Finance CEOs have impunity, but the working class needs to get over this public transportation thing and walk to work?


Maybe I should have filed this under zeitgeist watch. Thread:

Yes, “Liquid Death,” a water brand in a tallboy can, raised $1.6 million on seed funding.

Let’s not do this, either:

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Class Warfare

“‘Go back to work’: outcry over deaths on Amazon’s warehouse floor” [Guardian]. “In September, Billy Foister, a 48-year-old Amazon warehouse worker, died after a heart attack at work. According to his brother, an Amazon human resources representative informed him at the hospital that Billy had lain on the floor for 20 minutes before receiving treatment from Amazon’s internal safety responders…. Amazon said it had responded to Foister’s collapse ‘within minutes’ [lol]. The worker, who requested to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, noted the Amnesty worker started CPR after finding Foister. … The incident is among the latest in a series of accidents and fatalities that have led to Amazon’s inclusion on the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health’s 2019 Dirty Dozen list of the most dangerous employers in the United States.” • Idea: Bezos could paint their names on the side of that space ship he’s building so he can escape to Mars. A fitting memorial indeed!

News of the Wired

“Blood fills Iowa family’s basement” [KTIV]. • With photo.

And as a alate cleanser:

blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”>


— Lil Rich Aka Crash (@Crash_The_King) October 15, 2019

Quite a few interesting comments.

Sorry to end on the horror-film note, but that’s what came over the transom. Light comedic responses in comments welcome!

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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 (hunkerdown):

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hunkerdown writes: “This bit of lawn probably irritates you. The local fauna don’t seem to mind…” Not as much as the kind of lawn that looks like artificial turf….

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