Tuesday Evening Open Thread: For Entertainment Purposes Only

Convention-planning update from CNN:

Sen. John McCain told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday he might not go to the Republican National Convention this year because it’s so close to his primary in August. “I have to campaign for reelection,” he said.
This year’s convention might also be something of a spectacle if Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are slogging it out for delegates on the convention floor.

This is the latest in a trend of lawmakers who are up for reelection and are considering skipping, including Mark Kirk of Illinois, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Richard Burr of North Carolina. Some who don’t like Trump won’t go if he’s the nominee, like Rep. Charlie Dent, a moderate from Pennsylvania…

It would be notable if McCain were to skip, if for no other reason than he’s had a speaking spot at every convention for more than 30 years

***********
Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Late Night Oddities Open Thread: Rainbow Bagel and the End of Days

Via commentor NotMax; once he’d violated my eyeballs with the Washington Post link, I had to try and dilute the horror by sharing it with you all. Per Roberto A. Ferdman, “The most controversial bagel in Brooklyn”;

It’s mid-afternoon, but the line still spills out the front door, snaking around the block, eating up the better part of the sidewalk, as it has since early that morning. There are young couples, clinging to each other in the cold. Mothers, standing patiently next to their anxious children. There are teenage girls, chatting in packs. And there are SLR cameras — so many SLR cameras.

“What are you all waiting for?” a passerby who lives in the neighborhood asks as she plucks an earphone out from one of her ears. She is looking at the crowd with amazement. “I see this line every day. It isn’t just for bagels, is it?”

“It’s the line for rainbow bagels!” a little girl yells…

The rainbow bagel, the brainchild of self-proclaimed “world premier bagel artist” Scott Rossillo, who has been making the brightly hued treat for almost two decades, is having a moment that many people in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, could do without.

For years, Williamsburg was the epicenter of cool for a specific kind of person. A thriving artist population, a liberal bend and a general disdain for popular culture birthed a haven for counterculturalism, a capital of hipsterdom that was defined, at least in part, by a high concentration of yoga studios, organic markets, vintage stores and artisanal coffee shops.

But time has transformed the neighborhood from the sort of place coveted by a select few to a destination for just about anyone visiting New York City. And that popularity hasn’t always jibed with local values. The tourism triggered a commercial flood: First came the Dunkin’ Donuts, then the Starbucks. A Whole Foods will be opening this year.

In many ways, the rise of the rainbow bagel perfectly encapsulates this tension, an unlikely but apt example of a proud neighborhood confronting the inevitable: change. The dye-infused treat, whose dough resembles Play-Doh more than it does something edible, is the antithesis of the organic-eating culture that courses through the veins of so many who live in the area.

It’s evidence of a uniquely modern form of gentrification…

It’s a good article, honestly (you should read the whole thing!) but I think it’s “uniquely modern” only insofar as it’s easier to fly in on a jet and snap a selfie than to travel by sail or animal-back to bring long stories home to your less cosmopolitan neighbors. The nuns in our high school taught us that a certain Mary from Magdala was a key figure in the New Testament because Magdala was the period equivalent of Las Vegas, an exciting resort destination for Roman bigwigs stranded in the Middle Eastern backwaters. A woman from Magdala would be used seeing the best entertainers and conjurers, the contemporary equivalent of Siegfried and Roy or David Copperfield; the support of someone so sophisticated was proof that Jesus wasn’t just another street preacher with a gift for sleight-of-hand. A few hundred years from now — assuming our species survives — no doubt there will be tourists at every aquatic gambling hall on Jupiter, sending sensograms back to their neighbors at home on the mundane rocks of the asteroid belt…



Insert Clever Title About Glacial Speed

Seriously- that was quick:

The Panama Papers leaks apparently resulted in a political casualty Tuesday when Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned.

Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, the deputy chair of the Progressive Party, announced Gunnlaugsson’s resignation Tuesday on Iceland’s national public service broadcaster RUV.

Gunnlaugsson had been under intense pressure to step down since leaked documents hacked from a Panamanian law firm revealed his links to an offshore company, triggering mass protests in the capital.

Senior political figures in the Nordic nation have been holding emergency talks amid fallout from the Panama Papers leaks.
Critics said the revelations surrounding the offshore company, which allegedly had holdings in Iceland’s collapsed banks, shattered public confidence in Gunnlaugsson’s leadership and could harm the country’s international reputation.

Hee’s a decent explainer of the Panama Papers. this being an election year, I would be remiss if I did not add this:

The Panama Papers leak, that reveals how the rich and powerful rely on a secretive law firm to hide their wealth in tax havens, has drawn attention to a 2011 speech by Senator Bernie Sanders against the Panama-United States Trade Promotion Agreement, which became law in 2012. He noted that Panama’s entire economic output at the time was so low that the pact seemed unlikely to benefit American workers. The real reason for the agreement, Sanders argued, is that “Panama is a world leader when it comes to allowing wealthy Americans and large corporations to evade taxes.” Sanders said the trade agreement “will make this bad situation much worse.” We get reaction from Michael Hudson, senior editor at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which published the Panama Papers, and Frederik Obermaier, investigative reporter at Germany’s leading newspaper, the Munich-based Süddeutsche Zeitung. He is co-author of the book “Panama Papers: The Story of a Worldwide Revelation.”

This is going to end up being the international story of the year.



Solidarity on the field

Some interesting sports/labor news from SI:

In the latest labor salvo between the World Cup-winning U.S. women’s national team players and the U.S. Soccer Federation, the five most prominent members of the USWNT have filed an action with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (a government agency) accusing U.S. Soccer of wage discrimination in relation to the money the federation pays to the U.S. men’s national team.

In a press release announced Thursday morning, lawyers for the five U.S. players—Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn—argue that the USWNT is paid almost four times less than the USMNT, despite producing nearly $20 million in revenues for U.S. Soccer in 2015 (per U.S. Soccer’s recently released annual financial report).

….”you have a situation where not only are their work requirements identical to the men’s requirements—the same number of minimum friendlies they have to play, the same requirements to prepare for their World Cups—but they have outperformed the men both economically and on the playing field in every possible way the last two years. So this isn’t a case where someone can come in and say the reason the men are paid more is because they are more economically successful or the men outperform the women or they’re not comparable in the same way….”

 

Equal pay for equal work, and better pay for better work should be a core value. And right now the US Women’s National Team is doing much better work than the men. They should get paid, especially as they are subsidizing the men.



The Company He Keeps

Look who Ted Cruz has recruited as his economic advisor:

If it’s true that a man can be judged by the company he keeps, what are we to make of the appointment of former Sen. Phil Gramm as economic advisor to the Presidential campaign of Ted Cruz?

Cruz made the appointment Friday, when he collected Gramm’s endorsement of his quest for the Presidency.

As Micheal Hiltzik points out in his coverage of this — what’s the word?– curious appointment, Gramm is exactly whom you’d choose if one global financial meltdown just wasn’t delicious enough:

Gramm left a long record as a dedicated financial deregulator on Capitol Hill, with much of his effort aimed at freeing up trading in derivatives. That’s why he’s often identified as one of the godfathers of the 2008 financial crisis, which was spurred in part by banks’ imprudent trading and investing in these extremely complex financial instruments.

JMWTurner_Sunrise_with_Sea_Monsters

Gramm himself is undeterred by his own disastrous record, and clearly Cruz is equally unbothered.  That would be why both men are ignoring Gramm’s last appearance as a campaign surrogate:

Gramm’s previous stint as a Presidential campaign advisor ended inauspiciously. That was in 2008, when he served as co-chairman of John McCain’s Presidential run.

Gramm’s most notable moment in that position came on July 10, 2008, when he dismissed the developing economic crisis as “a mental recession” in an interview–and video–released by the conservative Washington Times. “We’ve never been more dominant,” he said. “We’ve never had more natural advantages than we have today. We’ve sort of become a nation of whiners.” McCain immediately disavowed the remarks, and a few days later Gramm stepped down as his campaign co-chairman.

I’m assuming that Ted Cruz does actually hope to become president, and thus makes his choices in the belief that they will advance him to that end.  So I can only see two possible interpretations for this exhuming of one of the most egregious poster children for GOP economic failure.

One is that this is what epistemic closure looks like when it’s at home.  It takes a hermetic seal between you and reality to think the “nation of whiners” trope is a winner this year (or ever, really, but especially now).

The other is that this is just trolling, or rather yet one more instance of believing an action is simply good in itself, transcendently so, if it pisses liberals off.  Which lands Cruz — and the GOP — in exactly the same place as option one: doubling down on the crazy for reasons extremely clear only to those with the correct implants in their upper left second molar.

All of which is to say that I remain firm in my belief that the entity identifying itself as Senator Cruz is in fact one of these guys.

“Where are we going?”

“Galt’s Gulch”

“When?”

“Real soon!”

Image:  J. W. M. Turner, Sunrise With Sea Monsters, 1845



CAP and the Republican primary

I just want to highlight two tweets I saw since Cole dropped his truth bomb:

And a question as to why Rubio is not dropping out:

The anti-Trump agenda is ensnared in a massive collective action problem. The anti-Trump movement is better off if Rubio drops out. However, the problem is simple for a party that really does not believe in collective action problems solved through societal actions and instead believes or at least publicly spouts off that everything can be modeled on the basis of individual rational behavior to get optimal societal results. There is a stable equilibrium that is extraordinarily negative for the anti-Trumpers where everyone is asking the other individuals to impale themselves on the barbwire so that they can use the body as a bridge to get into Trump’s trenches.

Let’s just look at Rubio for his incentive structure. Right now, he has shitty chances. The betting market has him at 8% chance of nomination and probably an implied 4% to 5% chance of the White House. Those odds suck, especially compared to his odds in December. However they are better than his 2020 odds. He has gone 1 and done in the Senate. He has indicated he actually hates the process of governing so a run for Governor in 2018 and then a summer long camp-out in South Carolina in 2019 is unlikely. If he loses now he becomes 2012 Rick Santorum without a natural base of dedicated supporters and a similar humiliating loss.

8% odds suck. They are much better than his 2020 or his 2024 odds.

So why would he get out?

Applying that same logic to all to Kasich and Cruz, and their odds suck now, but they are better than they would be in 2020.

And given that the promises that are made in March of 2016 are highly contingent promises that Trump can first be beaten and then Clinton can be beaten plus the promiser has few strong constraints in his actions after Election Day, the promises made to move someone out are not particularly valuable nor credible.

The traditional solution to a collective action problem is to have an external entity be able to move people off of stable but negative equilibriums and compensate losers from the much larger net social gains. The RNC is not a strong governing entity and Republicans don’t do collective action problems well anyways…

So pass the popcorn.



Seems Like a Big Deal

Snyder knew about the bad Flint water almost a year before anything was done:

Two of Gov. Rick Snyder’s top lawyers privately advocated moving the city of Flint back to the Detroit water system because of quality problems only months after Flint began to draw its drinking water from the Flint River and treat it at its own plant in mid-2014, according to a review of e-mails made public Friday by the governor’s office.

[…]

She [Valerie Brader] argued for returning the city to Detroit’s system drawn from Lake Huron, saying it made economic and environmental sense for an “urgent matter to fix.” She cited bacterial contamination in the treated river water and reduced quality that caused “GM to leave due to rusted parts.”

[…]

Michael Gadola, then the governor’s legal counsel, echoed those concerns in an e-mail responding to Brader and sent to the governor’s top aides. He called the idea of using the Flint River as a drinking water source “downright scary.”

Flint “should try to get back on the Detroit system as a stopgap ASAP before this thing gets too far out of control,” Gadola wrote 12 minutes after Brader’s e-mail.

These emails were released voluntarily by the Governor’s office, since they are not subject to FOIA laws.  One of Brader’s emails says that she wasn’t copying the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality because the DEQ was subject to FOIA.  Seems awfully damning to me.

I am not as well-versed in either Michigan politics or the self-deceptive stupidity of someone like Snyder, but why the hell would he voluntarily give the press this kind of a smoking gun?  And when is he and everyone else who ignored this poisoning going to jail?