Via Naked Capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I’ll have more in a bit. I overslept! –lambert


“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

Here is a second counter for the Iowa Caucus, which is obviously just around the corner:

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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 11/15/2019, 12:00 PM EST:

For Ipsos, the Biden juggernaut rolls on, but Sanders is in strong second, Warren trailing. Here, the latest national results, as of 11/15/2019, 12:00 PM EST:

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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performance requirements

Patrick (D)(1): “Deval Patrick Volunteers to Lose Democratic Primary” [The New Republic]. “Patrick’s candidacy, however, is unique in that it can be understood as the logical endpoint of a media culture which hews to the belief that what Wall Street guys have to say about the world is, by definition, endlessly fascinating—and which, consequently, treats these flagitious aristocrats as wise men of society who must be consulted, courted, and coddled by whoever wishes to be president.” • Flagitious!

Patrick (D)(2): “Deval Patrick joins Democratic presidential race, promising unity, humility, move beyond nostalgia” [WMUR]. “[Patrick] said he is proud that the Democratic field is committed to providing universal health care, and he said that as governor he led the addition of key components to the previously-passed so-called ‘Romneycare’ program by building coalitions among patient care advocates, business leaders and what he called the ‘faith community.’ ‘I want us to have an ambitious agenda. I want that. That is the goal.’ ‘The means for getting there can vary, and I think , is actually how you get to solutions that aren’t just Democratic solutions but also American solutions that last,’ Patrick said.” • I love the humility and openness schtick, when liberal Democrats fought tooth and nail against single payer in 2009, and are still serving up bowls of mush in the year 2009. We’ve given ObamaCare ten years to work, and that’s a lot of suffering and death. What’s wrong with these people?

Patrick (D)(3): “Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s Ex-Brother-In-Law Gets Prison For Rape” [CBS Local]. “[Bernard Sigh, the] ex-brother-in-law of former Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has been sentenced to up to eight years in prison for raping his estranged wife… In 2014, Patrick fired the head of the state’s Sex Offender Registry Board in part because she questioned why Sigh wasn’t required to register for a 1993 spousal rape conviction.” • A thread:

Sanders (D)(1): A good sign for the Sanders supporters in our little universe:

Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren Vows to Expand Health Coverage in First 100 Days” [New York Times]. • Naturally, it has complex eligibility requirements and means-testing:

she would seek to pass if elected would be a step short of the broader Medicare for all plan she has championed. But it would substantially expand the reach and generosity of public health insurance, creating a government plan that would free coverage to all American children and people earning less than double the federal poverty rate, or about $50,000 for a family of four, and could be by other Americans who want it.

In essence, Friday’s plan is a detailed road map for eventually achieving that goal, which would create a single government-run health program and end private insurance coverage. Her proposal would move people into that system gradually — in a way she hopes would build public support for a full-fledged single-payer program — while temporarily preserving the employer-based insurance system that covers most working-age adults today…. given the unpredictable nature of politics, a pledge to pass legislation as late as 2023 — in what would be Ms. Warren’s third year in office — represents a somewhat distant goal.

Here is PNHP’s summary of the Sanders transition (no time to find Jayapal):

Provides for a four-year transition. In year one, improves Medicare by adding dental, vision, and hearing benefits and lowering out-of-pocket costs for Parts A & B; also lowers eligibility age to 55 and allows anyone to buy into the Medcicare program. In year two, lowers eligibility to 45, and in 35 in year three

So Sanders has a reasonably gentle transition as well.. The key point for me is that Sanders has a single bill. Warren has at least two, one after the 2022 midterms, when her mandate is weak! In other words, Warren expects the health insurance competently to lie quietly while a knife is drawn across its throat. That will never happen. Sabotage will be the order of the day from everyone who’s collecting rent from our health care system as it is. Warren’s plan might almost be designed to fail. The most charitable interpretation is that her political judgment is terrible.

Stats Watch

Retail Sales, October 2019: “The headline edged above expectations but the details of the October retail sales report aren’t pointing to much momentum going into the holiday shopping season” [Econoday]. “For the Federal Reserve, consumer spending is the economy’s bulwark but one or two of reports like this, especially during the holidays, could raise talk that global-related weakness in manufacturing is spilling into the general economy, talk that would point to a resumption of rate cuts.”

Empire State Manufacturing Survey, November 2019: “The Empire State index has had a rough spell the last six months though has held in positive territory, though not by much” [Econoday]. “This report is generally soft, opening November’s run of manufacturing data by underscoring domestic weakness as the factory sector faces the challenges of slowing global demand.”

Industrial Production, October 2019: “The effects of the now resolved GM strike have made a strong appearance in industrial production data and are largely responsible for two straight monthly contractions” [Econoday]. “With the GM strike now over, vehicle production will presumably begin to reverse its declines and make for outsized overall gains in the coming months.”

Business Inventories, September 2019: “Inventories have been coming down, a reflection of easing expectations in the business outlook” [Econoday].

The Bezzle: “Elon Musk said his AI-brain-chips company could ‘solve’ autism and schizophrenia” [Business Insider]. “‘So Neuralink I think at first will solve a lot of brain-related diseases,’ Musk said. ‘So could be anything from, like, autism, schizophrenia, memory loss – like, everyone experiences memory loss at certain points in age.’ It was not clear what Musk meant by saying Neuralink could ‘solve’ autism, which is not a disease but a developmental disorder.” • Even assuming this isn’t a scam, what could go wrong?

Retail: “FDA issues warning to Dollar Tree about selling ‘potentially unsafe drugs’

[CNN]. “The US Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning letter to Dollar Tree for receiving over-the-counter drugs produced by foreign manufacturers that have been found to be adulterated, including acne treatment pads and Assured brand drugs….Now, in its warning letter to Dollar Tree, the FDA is requesting that the company implement a system to ensure that it does not import adulterated drugs.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 82 Extreme Greed (previous close: 87, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 91 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 13 at 12:19pm.

The Biosphere

“No laughing matter” [Harvard Gazette]. “About a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere is covered in permafrost. Now, it turns out these permanently frozen beds of soil, rock, and sediment are actually not so permanent: They’re thawing at an increasing rate…. [A] paper published this month in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics shows that nitrous oxide emissions from thawing Alaskan permafrost are about 12 times higher than previously assumed. Since N2O traps heat nearly 300 times more efficiently than carbon dioxide does, this revelation could mean that the Arctic — and the global climate — are in more danger than we thought.”

“It’s Time For Democrats To Stop Taking Pipeline Money” [Robbie Jaeger, Medium]. Goes through pipelines and lists the Democrats who take pipeline money: “[The owner of the Keystone Pipeline,] TransCanada, through their PAC, has donated $5,000 each to Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), former Congressional Black Caucus chair Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) this year, as well as donating to various other PACs.

“In an English country garden: inside the deep, surprisingly political roots of British gardening” [Prospect]. “A very large garden industry has been a feature of [the UK] for well over 350 years. During all this time, it has been neglected by economists, historians and government. An activity that takes up more of our time than any other leisure activity except for watching television or using a computer—far more time than any sport—is treated as a frippery. All the time and energy that we collectively put into gardening is ignored, because that £12.6bn only counts the money that we spend, not the effort that we expend. But even if we only look at the money, we can see it is important—and has been so for a very long time indeed.” • The focus is on elite gardens, but the history is still fascinating.

“The Life Cycle of a Monarch Butterfly” (diagrams) [Flight of the Butterfly]. • Wonders of nature!

“Tiny deer-like species rediscovered after nearly 30 years in Vietnam” [Associated Press]. “A tiny deer-like species not seen by scientists in nearly 30 years has been photographed in a forest in southern Vietnam. ‘For so long this species has seemingly only existed as part of our imagination. Discovering that it is, indeed, still out there is the first step in ensuring we don’t lose it again, and we’re moving quickly now to figure out how best to protect it,’ said An Nguyen, a conservation scientist at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, a partner of GWC in the project.”

Guillotine Watch

“Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime For Only Watch 2019 Sells For CHF 31 Million, Becoming The Most Expensive Watch In The World” [Hodinkee (JK)]. The deck: “The king is dead – long live the king.” • What a beautiful machine, though! And speaking of expensive baubles–

“Amazon founder Jeff Bezos interested in owning NFL team, has strong support among current owners” [CBS]. “Multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos has interest in purchasing an NFL team and has become close with several current owners, according to league sources, and has strong support within the league to eventually join their ranks….. [H]e is someone who will be increasingly tied to potential franchise sales in the coming years, league sources said, and on a short list of those who could quickly execute a complicated transaction of that nature in short order.”

Class Warfare

“Gimme Shelter: The cost of living in the Bay Area” [Harpers]. “[M]y situation was evidence of how distorted the Bay Area housing market had become, the brutality inflicted upon the poor now trickling up to everyone but the super-rich. … Across [California], a quarter of all apartment dwellers spent half of their incomes on rent. Nearly half of the country’s unsheltered homeless population lived in California, even while the state had the highest concentration of billionaires in the nation. In the Bay Area, including West Oakland, where my shack was located, the crisis was most acute. Tent cities had sprung up along the sidewalks, swarming with capitalism’s refugees. Telegraph, Mission, Market, Grant: every bridge and overpass had become someone’s roof.” • This is great, and well-worth a read. I picked out the policy implication, but this artlcle is an epic about the author’s dwelling places.

“The Inflation Gap” [The Atlantic]. “Using government data and scanner data from retail stores—the bar codes that get swiped at Target, the produce codes that get punched in at grocery stores—Xavier Jaravel of the London School of Economics found that from 2004 to 2015, the prices of the products purchased by the bottom income quintile increased faster than the prices of the products purchased by the top income quintile. As a result, low-income families experienced an annual rate of inflation conservatively estimated at 0.44 percentage points higher than that of high-income families. The trend is small enough to go unnoticed year by year. For a given family, it might mean shelling out just pennies more on a grocery run or back-to-school shopping trip. But such changes compound over time, wedging apart the welfare of struggling households and flourishing ones. Rich families get competitive prices on organic groceries and athleisure and better-and-better electronics; poor families end up paying more for worse-quality alternatives. ”

News of the Wired

“Optimism is associated with exceptional longevity in 2 epidemiologic cohorts of men and women” [PNAS]. From the abstract: “Previous studies reported that more optimistic individuals are less likely to suffer from chronic diseases and die prematurely. Our results further suggest that optimism is specifically related to 11 to 15% longer life span, on average, and to greater odds of achieving “exceptional longevity,” that is, living to the age of 85 or beyond….. Data are from 2 cohorts, women from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and men from the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study (NAS), with follow-up of 10 y (2004 to 2014) and 30 y (1986 to 2016), respectively. Optimism was assessed using the Life Orientation Test–Revised in NHS and the Revised Optimism–Pessimism Scale from the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 in NAS.”

This is the content we need now:

“Physical books still outsell e-books — and here’s why” [CNBC]. “[I]t’s actually younger people who appear to be popularizing print. Sixty-three percent of physical book sales in the U.K. are to people under the age of 44, while 52% of e-book sales are to those over 45, according to Nielsen. It’s a similar picture in the U.S., where 75% of people aged 18 to 29 claimed to have read a physical book in 2017, higher than the average of 67%, according to Pew Research.”

Puzzle Nook:

This is so meta.

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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 (pq):

pq writes: “Taken in mid-August while looking for milkweeds in a swampy patch at the entrance to a public park in my small village in Upstate New York. Didn’t find milkweeds that day, but saw this blue flower and thought it would make a nice NC plantidote. As I was bending down for a closeup, this beasty thing flew right in front of me. I identified it (and the flower) online: humming bird hawk moth and great blue lobelia. Despite the crappy camera in my long-obsolete cell phone…”

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