2:00PM Water Cooler 9/29/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this Water Cooler is a bit light; I had to do actual research on the ballot line material, so I couldn’t blast through linky goodness at my usual pace. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Kashmir Nuthatch, Yusmarg Budgam, Jammu and Kashmir, India. “Calls from the male of a pair of birds, responding to playback of Collared Owlet, along with a large group of tits and other birds. While calling the bird was moving mid to high in a tall dead pine tree, in mixed conifer forest.”

White-breasted Nuthatch (Eastern), Prairie Creek Reservoir–multi-use trail, Delaware, Indiana, United States. “Lured this male in with playback of Eastern song a minute before. Singing from 40 feet above me; interaction calls later on between this male and his presumed mate that joined him in the same tree.” Airplanes in the background, I think….

* * *


“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

The Constitutional Order

“New Effort To Remove Trump From Ballot Underway In California” [Huffington Post]. “A group of California lawmakers are exploring a new method of potentially removing Donald Trump from the state’s ballot over the former president’s alleged 14th Amendment violations. The nine lawmakers ― eight members of the state Assembly and one member of the state Senate ― signed a letter Monday asking the state’s Attorney General Rob Bonta to pursue a judiciary ruling on the matter, saying he’s ‘uniquely positioned to proactively seek the court’s opinion to confirm Mr. Trump’s inability to hold office.’ … The lawmakers hope that asking Bonta to spearhead the effort could speed things along.”

* * *

“The Sweep and Force of Section Three” [William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulsen, University of Pennsylvania Law Review]. I highly recommend this piece (and the ensuing discussion at NC, starting here). As a former English major and a fan of close reading, I’m not averse to “originalism,” of which Baude and Paulsen provide a magisterial example, in the sense that understanding the law as a text must begin with understanding the plain, public meaning of the words used when the text was written. That’s how I read Shakespeare, or Joyce, so why not the Constitution? Just as long as understanding doesn’t end there! In any case, I’m working through it. One thing I notice is that there do seem to have been rather a lot of rebellions and insurrections, not just the Civil War. To me, this is parallel to one lesson I drew from Mike Duncan’s Revolutions podcast (episode 1): There are rather a lot of revolutions, too. Alert reader Pensions Guy summarizes Baude and Paulsen as follows:

The authors go through an exhaustive textual and originalism analysis of Section Three, and their Federalist Society leanings do not deter them from reaching their conclusion that officials in every State who are charged with determining candidate qualifications should conclude that Donald Trump is disqualified from being on ballots because of the oath he took on Inauguration Day 2017 and subsequently violated through his role in the insurrection that took place on January 6, 2021.

Taking “insurrection” as read (I need to do more reading), this has been more of my continuing coverage of Section Three.

Biden Administration

“America’s next government shutdown could be the strangest yet” [The Economist]. “House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has struggled to get his conference to agree on how to reopen spending negotiations after a debt-ceiling deal set spending levels earlier this year. ‘This is a high-wire act over the Grand Canyon during a thunderstorm,’ Mr Gingrich says, adding that his larger majority let him manoeuvre more freely during bitter political fights. By comparison, Mr McCarthy is beholden to congressmen like Florida’s Matt Gaetz who, Mr Gingrich says, ‘would probably vote against anything that McCarthy was for just because he hates McCarthy.’ The current speaker bowed to the hardliners’ wishes and spent days leading up to the deadline trying to pass separate appropriations bills and so-called policy riders. These would drastically cut spending across the government and advance unrelated policies such as immigration enforcement. They stand no chance of passing the Senate or being signed into law by Joe Biden, making a shutdown inevitable. The alternative is to pass the Senate’s bipartisan legislation to avert a shutdown. But were Mr McCarthy to side with a reasonable, bipartisan majority in the House, that would prompt a “motion to vacate”, or vote on Mr McCarthy’s speakership.” • Gingrich got pantsed routinely by Bill Clinton when he was speaker, and is any any case a washed-up has-been. Why is he in anybody’s Rolodex, let alone the clever anonymous Brits at the Economist?


Time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“It’s likely too late for new hopefuls to jump into the 2024 GOP presidential primaries” [NBC]. The deck: “With filing deadlines approaching quickly, there’s little hope for anti-Trump Republicans dissatisfied with the current field.” And: “‘The runway for someone to realistically run for president is basically over,’ said Nick Trainer, who served as Delegates and Party Organization director on Trump’s 2020 campaign but is not working for a White House hopeful this cycle…. For a candidate to appear on the ballot in many of the December-deadline states, he or she would already have to be collecting signatures — and there’s no shadow campaign going on right now, according to GOP operatives who are paying close attention to the race.” • Because I’m the suspicious sort, and this logic is being applied to the Democrat campaign too, I thought I’d find out what the filing deadlines for primaries actually were (note that Trainer is wrong; not all states require signature gathering). I summarized BallotPedias’s big table to states and dates only:

State Party Filing deadline Notes
Nevada Democratic 10/16/23
New Hampshire Qualified parties 10/27/23
Alabama Democratic 11/10/23
Alabama Republican 11/10/23
Arkansas Democratic 11/14/23 A candidate can qualify for ballot placement either by filing a petition or by paying the filing fee. A candidate does not need to do both.
Arkansas Republican 11/14/23
Tennessee Qualified parties 12/05/23 The secretary of state can also place candidate names directly on the ballot.
Oklahoma Qualified parties 12/06/23 A candidate may file either via petition or filing fee. Both are not required.
Michigan Qualified parties 12/08/23
Colorado Qualified parties 12/11/23 A candidate can qualify for ballot placement either by filing a petition or by paying the filing fee. A candidate does not need to do both.
Texas Democratic 12/11/23 Petition signatures are only required in lieu of filing fee.
Texas Republican 12/11/23 Petition signatures are only required in lieu of filing fee.
Virginia Qualified parties 12/14/23
California Democratic 12/15/23 A petition is only required if a candidate is not placed on the ballot by the secretary of state.
California Republican 12/15/23
Louisiana Qualified parties 12/15/23 Candidates can obtain ballot placement either by submitting a petition or paying the requisite filing fee.
North Carolina Qualified parties 12/15/23 A candidate is only required to file a petition if he or she is not placed on the ballot automatically by party leaders.
Vermont Qualified parties 12/15/23
Ohio Democratic 12/20/23
Ohio Republican 12/20/23 Candidates qualify by petition by "fielding candidates for delegate and alternate delegate to the party’s national convention who have pledged their support to that candidate."
Massachusetts Qualified parties 12/22/23 The secretary of the commonwealth is authorized to "place candidates on the ballot who have been generally advocated or recognized in the national news media." The chair of a political party’s state committee can also select names to be printed on the primary ballot.
Illinois Qualified parties 01/05/24
Kentucky Qualified parties 01/05/24 There are three additional methods of ballot qualification that do not require candidates to file petitions. All four filing methods require payment of the filing fee.
Kansas Qualified parties 01/19/24 A candidate can qualify for ballot placement either by filing a petition or by paying the filing fee. A candidate does not need to do both.
West Virginia Qualified parties 01/27/24
Wisconsin 01/30/24
Delaware Qualified parties 02/02/24
Indiana 02/09/24 Petition signature verification deadline: 1/30/24
Maryland Qualified parties 02/09/24 Petitions are only required from candidates not recognized by the secretary of state for automatic ballot placement.
Montana 03/11/24
Oregon Qualified parties 03/12/24 A candidate must only submit a petition if he or she is not selected for automatic ballot placement. The secretary of state advises candidates to submit signatures by 2/27/24 to ensure the office has time to verify the signatures.
South Dakota N/A 03/26/24 Candidate names for the primary ballot are provided by the parties themselves.
Mississippi Qualified parties ??
Utah Qualified parties ??
Washington N/A ?? Candidate names for the primary ballot are provided by the parties themselves.
Alaska N/A N/A State law does not provide for a presidential primary election.
Florida N/A N/A Participating parties submit candidate names directly to the secretary of state.
Georgia N/A N/A Participating parties submit candidate names directly to the secretary of state.
Hawaii N/A N/A State law does not provide for a presidential primary election.
Idaho N/A N/A Parties administer their own presidential nominating events.
Iowa N/A N/A State law does not provide for a presidential primary election.
Minnesota N/A N/A Party chairs determine which candidates will appear on primary ballots.
Missouri N/A N/A State law does not provide for a presidential primary election.
North Dakota N/A N/A Parties administer their own presidential nominating events.
South Carolina N/A N/A Parties administer their own presidential nominating events.
Wyoming N/A N/A Parties administer their own presidential nominating events.

Swing States: AZ, PA, MI, NV, NC, GA, WI (in bold).

Super Tuesday States: AL, AK, AR, CA, CO, ME, MA, MN, NC, OK, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA (in italic).

So, yes, anybody hoping to get on a primary ballot had better hustle up their lameducks. Note, however, the wild profusion of procedures (and it gets even wilder at the full BallotPedia table). Note also that some data, for whatever reason, is outright missing: Arizona and Maine, for example. There are doubtless election professionals who are poring over this material now.

And while I’m on balloting procedures: Since, in the stability v. volatility dichotomy that in my view dominates this election I am firmly on the volatility camp — and any pundit who claims (or advocates, really) that we’re looking at Trump v. Biden more than a year out is firmly in the stability camp — I regard the 2024 ballot lines as volatile too, regardless of the filing dates above. The 2020 election, with the lockdowns and closures taking place during the election, provided a number of cases challenging balloting. I haven’t had the time to do real research, let alone Shepherdize anything, but this sentence in Esshaki v. Whitmer, 455 F. Supp. 3d 367 (E.D. Mich. 2020), caught my eyeL

Under these unique historical circumstances, as will be explained in detail below, the Court finds that the State’s actions in the form of enforcing both the Stay-at-Home Order and the statutory ballot-access requirements, operate in tandem to impose a severe burden on Plaintiff’s ability to seek elected office, in violation of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to freedom of speech, freedom of association, equal protection, and due process of the law. Consequently, the Motion for Preliminary Injunction will be granted.

(The injunction was to allow additional time for signature gathering, so that Esshaki might appear on the ballot.) Now, I think the scenarios where “unique” “historical circumstances” would come into play in 2024 are pretty obvious — a candidate totally slips a cog or, alternatively, gets whacked — and in that case, the parties — whose distinctive competence in modern times, after all, is control of the ballot line — would do what needed to be done, and changing the ballot would be a lot less risky than a Mel Carnahan scenario. Professionals are doubtless doing this research too, right now. I’m starting to think that “the rule of law,” including election law, is a lot like “the rules-based international order”: honored more in the breach than the observance. Buckle up!

* * *

“Trump’s GOP rivals say he’s unelectable. Polls disagree” [Politico]. “Far from being an electoral liability, the former president is starting to lead — or at the very least tie — Biden in general election polling. Not only is Trump the top choice of a growing majority of Republican primary voters in national surveys, but Republicans overwhelmingly think he’s the candidate with the best chance of beating Biden next fall. And poll after poll suggests Biden and Trump are essentially tied with just over a year until the general election.” • A New York judge just took Trump’s business away. I bet there are a lot of voters who are going to put that right in the “asset forfeiture” bucket and say “he’s one of us,” just like the non-bougie Blacks waving placards and cheering Trump’s motorcade it rolled to his arraignment in Atlanta.

* * *

“Trump’s long game with Latino voters is apparent after his historic arraignment” [NBC]. From June, still germane. “After his day in court, where he pleaded not guilty to 37 federal counts related to his alleged mishandling of classified documents, Trump headed to the Cuban restaurant Versailles — a pit stop for presidential candidates for decades, including former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush — where he was greeted by a cheering crowd…. nThe choice to turn the day of his federal indictment into a chance to court Latino voters was not surprising. No other U.S. president has dedicated so much time to Latinos in Florida, an ongoing source of frustration for Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans who have been pointing out his consistent outreach for years. It’s worth remembering, as Florida International University political scientist Dario Moreno points out, that Trump did not start with strong support in the country’s southernmost big city. Trump’s initial campaign comments slamming Mexicans and his subsequent anti-immigrant rhetoric was seen by many voters as anti-Hispanic…. But once he became president, Trump spent time in Miami-Dade County and focused heavily on the Cuban American and Venezuelan community and growing groups such as Nicaraguans and Colombians…. ‘What started out as a constituency that wasn’t behind him and viewed him with suspicion has become, I think, among his most loyal base,’ Moreno said.” • Hence: “U.S. [i.e., Biden] Will Allow Nearly 500,000 Venezuelan Migrants to Work Legally“?

“Biden campaign is ramping up its strategy to win over Latino voters” [NBC]. “The campaign’s broader strategy includes tailored ads for Latino voters in battleground states using narrators with accents from their countries or regions of origin; messaging on television and digital platforms that are popular with Latinos; and standing up an early effort to counter misinformation aimed at Latino voters, which Democratic officials believe eroded some support for Biden among Latinos in 2020…. A new NBC News poll released this week found 51% of Latinos have a high interest in the election, compared with 73% of white voters. Overall, Latinos currently have a lower interest in the 2024 election than at this same point in past election cycles. Shoring up Latino support, and voter turnout, could make the difference for Biden in key states in what’s expected to be a tight race, particularly if it’s a rematch between Biden and Republican front-runner, former President Donald Trump. While Biden overwhelmingly won among Latino voters in 2020, that year Trump gained more of their support than in the 2016 election.”

Democrats en Déshabillé

Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

* * *


“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison

Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties; Wastewater Scan, includes drilldown by zip); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data). “Infection Control, Emergency Management, Safety, and General Thoughts” (especially on hospitalization by city).

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. To update any entry, do feel free to contact me at the address given with the plants. Please put “COVID” in the subject line. Thank you!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin, dashboard; Stanford, wastewater; Oakland, wastewater); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: anon (2), Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (10), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

* * *

“Something Awful”

Lambert here: I’m getting the feeling that the “Something Awful” might be a sawtooth pattern — variant after variant — that averages out to a permanently high plateau. Lots of exceptionally nasty sequelae, most likely deriving from immune dysregulation (says this layperson). To which we might add brain damage, including personality changes therefrom.

* * *

* * *

Lambert here: Wastewater data, ER visits, and positivity are all telling me the current peak is past; we dodged a bullet post-Labor Day/school opening. I wish the darned anecdotes — granted, Twitter’s algo amplifies my tendency toward doomscrolling — would co-operate:

More anecdotes on coughing and absences, and I see a lot:

Doesn’t all have to be Covid, of course; see the wastewater. But the coughing and constant illness could be immune dysregulation. The public health establishment is, I think, trying to force this coughing, sickened population into the tripledemic box — whoever coined “tripledemic” should get a bonus — and then vaccinate them, but (a) vax take-up is low, owing to the catastrophic mistrust the public health establishment has brought upon itself, and (b) misplaced anyhow, since we don’t know what these coughing, sickened people really have, because all our [family blogging] data sources have been systematically choked off. Of course, some of its Covid too–

“19 Bridgeport school staffers, 41 students test positive for COVID-19 as cases rise across CT” [CT Post]. “But Early warned the figures are likely to climb in the coming months as fall begins and the district’s 1,500 or so teachers and almost 20,000 students spend more time indoors away from cold weather. ‘Now that COVID’s here, I don’t anticipate it going anywhere,’ [Lizette Earley, the district’s supervisor for health and nursing services] told the board’s health, safety and facilities committee this week. ‘This is something that we will continue to deal with on a yearly basis. And much like the flu, it will have times when it peaks and lowers.'” • Stochastic eugenics in action, gee thanks Lizette. The flu doesn’t cause neurological or vascular damage ffs. And heaven forfend anybody should mention ventilation!

Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, September 25:

Lambert here: “Data last updated September 18, 2023 from samples collected during the week of September 11, 2023. This Thursday’s update is delayed. Visualizations are next expected to be updated on September 25, 2023. Most recent data are subject to change.” So even wastewater data is turning to garbage? (I checked CDC data, and it was updated on September 18, too? Funding issues? Everybody using the same lab behind the scenes, and there was a debacle of some kind?)

Lambert here: Dropping everywhere but the Northeast. How am I going to be doing my personal risk assessment when the data lags by a week?

Regional data:

Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it.


From CDC, September 30:

Lambert here: September 30 is tomorrow, but never mind that. Top of the leaderboard: EG.5 (“Eris“), with FL.1.15.1, HV.1, and XBB. trailing. Still a Bouillabaisse…

From CDC, September 16:

Lambert here: I sure hope the volunteers doing Pangolin, on which this chart depends, don’t all move on the green fields and pastures new (or have their access to facilities cut by administrators of ill intent).

CDC: “As of May 11, genomic surveillance data will be reported biweekly, based on the availability of positive test specimens.” “Biweeekly: 1. occurring every two weeks. 2. occurring twice a week; semiweekly.” Looks like CDC has chosen sense #1. In essence, they’re telling us variants are nothing to worry about. Time will tell.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, September 23:

Drop coinciding with wastewater drop.

NOTE “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Notice also that this chart shows, at least for its time period, that Covid is not seasonal, even though CDC is trying to get us to believe that it is, presumably so they can piggyback on the existing institutional apparatus for injections.


NOT UPDATED Bellwether New York City, data as of September 28:

Return to the upward climb. I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive.

NOT UPDATED Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. September 16:

Lambert here: At least we can see that positivity and hospitalization correlate.

Lambert here: “Maps, charts, and data provided by CDC, updates weekly for the previous MMWR week (Sunday-Saturday) on Thursdays (Deaths, Emergency Department Visits, Test Positivity) and weekly the following Mondays (Hospitalizations) by 8 pm ET†”. So where the heck is the update, CDC?


NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, September 25:

-4.7%. Another big drop. (It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.)

NOT UPDATED From Cleveland Clinic, September 23:

Lambert here: I know this is just Ohio, but the Cleveland Clinic is good*, and we’re starved for data, so…. NOTE * Even if hospital infection control is trying to kill patients by eliminating universal masking with N95s.

NOT UPDATED From CDC, traveler’s data, September 4:

Back up again And here are the variants:

No BA.2.86 for three of the long-delayed collection weeks. We know BA.2.86 is in the country, so apparently it escaped CDC’s net.


Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, September 27:

Lambert here: The WHO data is worthless, so I replaced it with the Iowa Covid Data Tracker. Their method: “These data have been sourced, via the API from the CDC: https://data.cdc.gov/NCHS/Conditions-Contributing-to-COVID-19-Deaths-by-Stat/hk9y-quqm. This visualization updates on Wednesday evenings. Data are provisional and are adjusted weekly by the CDC.” I can’t seem to get a pop-up that shows a total of the three causes (top right). Readers?

Total: 1,176,771 – 1,176,595 = 176 (176 * 365 = 64,240 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease). 

Excess Deaths

The Economist, September 28:

Lambert here: This is now being updated daily again. Odd. Based on a machine-learning model.

Stats Watch

Inflation: “United States Core PCE Price Index MoM” [Trading Economics]. “Core PCE prices in the US, which exclude food and energy, increased by 0.1 percent month-over-month in August 2023, the least since November 2020 and below market expectations of a 0.2 percent rise. The annual rate, regarded as the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, eased as anticipated to 3.9 percent, the lowest since May 2021. When factoring in food and energy costs, the PCE price index climbed 0.4 percent from the previous month and 3.5 percent from the corresponding period in the previous year.” • If you say so.

Consumer Expectations: “United States Michigan Consumer Expectations” [Trading Economics]. “The University of Michigan Consumer Expectations in the United States rose slightly less than initially expected in September 2023 (66 vs 66.3 in the preliminary estimate). It compares with 65.5 in August, as consumers are unsure about the trajectory of the economy given multiple sources of uncertainty, for example over the possible shutdown of the federal government and labor disputes in the auto industry.”

Manufacturing: “United States Chicago PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The Chicago Business Barometer, also known as the Chicago PMI, fell to 44.1 in September 2023 from 48.7 in August, and well below market forecasts of 47.6. The reading marked the 13th consecutive month of contraction in business activity in the Chicago region, and it was stronger than the previous month.”

* * *

Tech: “Norway wants Facebook behavioral advertising banned across Europe” [The Register]. “Norway has told the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) it believes a countrywide ban on Meta harvesting user data to serve up advertising on Facebook and Instagram should be made permanent and extended across Europe. The Scandinavian country’s Data Protection Authority, Datatilsynet, had been holding back Facebook parent Meta from scooping up data on its citizens with the threat of fines of one million Kroner (about $94,000) per day if it didn’t comply. In August, it said Meta hadn’t been playing ball and started serving up the daily fines. However, the ban that resulted in these fines, put into place in July, expires on November 3 – hence Norway’s request for a ‘binding decision.’ The July order came after a Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruling [PDF] earlier that month stating Meta’s data processing operation was also hauling in protected data – race and ethnicity, religious affiliation, sexual orientation etc. – when it cast its behavioral ads net. Norway is not a member of the EU but is part of the European single market, and the CJEU, as Europe’s top court, has the job of making sure the application and interpretation of law within the market is compliant with European treaties (this part would apply to Norway) as well as ensuring that legislation adopted by the EU is applied the same way across all Member States.”

Tech: “Study reveals some teens receive 5,000 notifications daily, most spend almost two hours on TikTok” [TechSpot]. ” It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that kids spend a lot of time on their phones. A new survey found that the average teen used their handset for over four hours per day, with TikTok taking up most of that time – almost two hours daily. It was also discovered that more than half of the participants received more than 200 notifications in one day, with some getting an incredible 5,000 notifications in 24 hours.” • Kids these days. When I get a new machine, the first thing I do is turn all notifications off.

Tech: “Report: Jony Ive and OpenAI CEO Raise $1B to Design the ‘iPhone of AI'” [Gizmodo]. • No.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 29 Fear (previous close: 29 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 34 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 29 at 1:42:20 PM ET.

Zeitgeist Watch

“Costco is selling gold bars, and they’re selling out within hours” [CBS]. “The discount retailer said this week it has started selling 1-ounce bars of gold, but that demand is so strong it can’t keep them in stock even with a limit of two bars per member. The company is selling two types of bars: a 1-ounce gold PAMP Suisse Lady Fortuna Veriscan bar, which bears the imprint of a silhouette of the goddess of fortune with a cornucopia, and a 1-ounce bar from South Africa’s Rand Refinery, stamped with an elephant design. Both bars are about half an inch long. The PAMP Suisse bar is registered and comes with a digital certificate that can be accessed with a QR code, while the Rand bars come with their own serial numbers.”


“Flu, Covid vaccination rates decline, as U.S. health officials make new push for inoculations” [STATS]. A fine natural experiment for anybody who wants to write the paper: “With Covid transmission surging and flu and RSV seasons on the near horizon, federal officials have been keen to project that this fall and winter’s respiratory disease season won’t be a repeat of last year’s chaotic activity, when the early arrival of RSV and influenza coincided with an increase in Covid transmission to strain health care capacity across the country. But their efforts have been undermined by a bumpy rollout of updated Covid vaccines, which this fall for the first time are being provided by the commercial market. The shift from a single payer — the federal government — to a wide array of private and public payers, plus changes in the delivery system, have led to reports of people struggling to find vaccination appointments or being informed that their appointment was canceled because the pharmacy or physician’s office did not receive adequate supplies of vaccine.” • BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!! Who knew that abolishing “single payer” would cause problems!

Class Warfare

“UAW Expands Strike to GM Plant in Michigan, Ford Factory in Chicago” [WSJ]. “The United Auto Workers union expanded its strike to a Ford Motor factory in Chicago and a General Motors plant in Michigan, citing a lack of progress at the bargaining table. UAW President Shawn Fain said during a livestream address Friday that Chrysler-parent Stellantis would be spared from further walkouts for now, saying the company delivered a proposal that made significant progress on the union’s demands, including cost-of-living-adjustments. The new walkouts would add nearly 7,000 workers to the roughly 18,000 UAW members on strike across the three companies, at three assembly plants and dozens of parts-distribution facilities. The Detroit companies combined have about 146,000 union workers. The union renewed its expansion of strikes at Ford after sparing the automaker last week because Fain said talks had been advancing at the time. The latest walkouts offer further insight into the UAW’s novel strike strategy. The union has been gradually expanding the walkouts but so far without causing deep disruption across the companies’ factory footprints.”

News of the Wired

“A universal description of stochastic oscillators” [PNAS]. Science is popping! “Many natural systems exhibit oscillations that show sizeable fluctuations in frequency and amplitude. This variability can arise from a wide variety of physical mechanisms. Here, we develop a general theory for stochastic oscillators, based on a canonical nonlinear transformation of variables. We show that under our (complex-valued) description, the statistics of the oscillator’s spontaneous activity, of its response to external perturbations, and of the coordinated activity of (weakly) coupled oscillators are brought into a universal and greatly simplified form. We test the theory for three theoretical models of noisy oscillators arising from fundamentally different mechanisms: a damped harmonic oscillator with dynamical noise, a fluctuation-perturbed limit-cycle system, and an excitable system in which oscillations require noise to occur.” • Now do the economy. And pandemics. Could some kind reader with the right chops take a look at this?

* * *

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Chet G writes: “Bumblebee on red clover flower.”

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


        1. Randy

          I seal my gold bars in plastic with my FoodSaver, no cleaning required. I used to keep my $100 bills in the pages of books, what self respecting thief would ever open a book. /s

    1. Wukchumni

      If only Bob had gelt hanging around in lieu of ingots, it’d make for a tasty switch!

      Hanukkah gelt (Yiddish: חנוכה געלט ḥanukah gelt; Hebrew: דמי חנוכה dmei ḥanukah, both meaning literally “Hanukkah money”), also known as gelt (German: Geld), refers to money given as presents during the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. It is typically given to children and sometimes teachers, often in conjunction with the game of Dreidel. In the 20th century, candy manufacturers started selling Hanukkah-themed chocolate coins wrapped in gold or silver foil, as a substitute or supplement to real money gifts.


    2. notabanker

      Bullion and coin dealers had a record April. I’ve seen interviews where dealers have said they did more revenue in April than the entire year of 2022. Things have cooled off quite a bit since July, but demand is still high. I’m also hearing sales of bullion are very high, meaning people cashing in back to dealers. Lots of reasons, but just generally people needing cash for unplanned expenses.

      There is a very sizable population of people who firmly believe fiat money is junk and are prepping for the collapse of the dollar and the introduction of CBDC.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I hope that they do not turn out to be gold-plated mini tungsten bars. Of course if the US ever adopts a digital dollar, owning those gold bars will have to be made illegal like Roosevelt did back in the 30s.

  1. Carolinian

    Hey now when you slag Newt you are talking about my former congressman. Some say Bill Clinton’s NAFTA made Newt speaker so perhaps a favor was owed.

    Later my SC congressman was one of the few who honored Newt’s term limits pledge. Newt was slippery when it came to pledges. Or anything.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      the idea of “slippery newt” gengrich* makes me want to take a shower.
      (* sp-2:a neologism of Gengis and Grinch,perhaps?…assuming he’s an early model of the AI buddy thing going around, now)

      i did dig it when he carried around a metal bucket that time….

      1. Carolinian

        I keep forgetting that a newt really is slippery

        tailed amphibian: a small amphibian of the salamander family with short legs and a well-developed tail.

        So his parents knew how he would turn out?

    2. cgregory

      A man walks into a hospital room where his wife is recovering from cancer surgery. He tells her to sign some papers so he can divorce her. “What a slimy snake!” you think. But a snake is not slimy; if you want a slimy creature, consider the newt….

      (Musical interlude)

      Honey your cancer surgery is really doing swell.
      Your eyes can almost focus, and I hardly mind the smell.
      It’s hard to see in you the maid of 26 I wed
      When I was just 19 myself and had an empty bed.

      That was all those years ago when you were slim and lithe.
      I pledged a vow to take you for my lawful wedded wife.
      But now you’re 44 and sick and bloated, there’s no doubt.
      That’s why I’ve come to your sickbed just to say I’m getting out,

      Simply sign these papers, dear, to tell the judge we’re through.
      Just do that to be good to me, and I’ll be good to you.
      I’ll freely pay you faithfully a hundred bucks a month
      To feed and clothe those kids of ours– don’t spend it all at once!

      Meeeeeeeeeeeeanwhile I’ll be making a hundred and thirty thou a year.
      I only wish I could afford to give you more, my dear.
      But I’ll need every cent of it to bankroll my big plan
      To make my mark in Washington as a family values man.

      So, sign the stipulations dear. Don’t cry so friggin’ much.
      A tear-stained legal document looks funny to a judge.
      Too bad the kids are put off by my disappearing act,
      But if they grow up like me, I can buy their love right back!

      A tragedy we cannot be a happily married pair.
      Still I consider you my dear…………
      ………a weight too great to bear.
      I can’t win this election with a wife stuck full of tubes
      So I’m dumping you for someone younger with a bigger chest!

      Can’t come up with a better ending rhyme there…..

      1. John Zelnicker

        cgregory – Have you got a tune to accompany this poetry? It’s going into the NC Songbook.

        Contact me at zelnickertaxservice [at] comcast [net]

        Stay safe.

    3. Adam Eran

      “Gingrich got pantsed routinely by Bill Clinton” … Really? He and Clinton deregulated the banks making the subprime/derivative meltdown possible, and they conspired to turn AFDC into TANF. 76% of those needing public assistance got AFDC, only 26% get TANF. Both of these seem like Republican programs…but knowing how slippery Clinton is it could have been his idea all the time.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Diane Feinstein apparently passed away last night

      Elder abuse is what it was. My mother worked until she dropped, but she was compos mentis the whole way. Not so Feinstein.

      1. Pat

        It is true once she failed entirely, her well being was of no concern. But we have a whole lot of evidence that ego trumps common sense in our elderly government big wigs. Feinstein should have resigned a few years ago, this wasn’t all that sudden. Joe Biden should never have run for President (and I see him being a Feinstein rerun in a couple of years), McConnell should resign now, and then there is Ginsburg. They all believe(d) their failing health and “momentary” mental lapses are minor and should be ignored because the country needs their brilliance. They want/wanted to die in office.
        It may not be fair to blame the victim, but I don’t think you can entirely discount Feinstein’s own complicity in this.

  2. IM

    I took on the PNAS oscillator article…but got oscillated. I am too stochastic to follow the math.

    Need a sarcastic stochastic oscillating ocelot with mad STEM skills for this one!

    1. Steve H.

      If you look to the end, you may see why they’re doing. Funding by Computational Neuroscience is a clue to why they’re aiming at coupled oscillations – looking for a tool to analyze noisy coupled oscillations in the brain.

      I’m a mediocre mathematician, so I can tell you how the food tastes, but can’t critique the recipe. You can decompose trigonometric functions (used for cycles) to Taylor series, as an example. Once you have a linear equation, find the underlying eigenfunctions and then see if you can transform them into another observed cycle to show coupling. A little bitty signal in a small area of the brain could have large effects on another area, and you could tease out the relationship in a noisy environment. Add adjustments to increase accuracy.

      It’s always good to define the more general case in mathematical science, both for cross-disciplines and for greater understanding. I’ve seen similar maneuvering with the logistic equation. Doing this for a noisy environment is intriguing, signal processing can account for noise, but this joins it to coupled equations.

      1. Raymond Sim

        You can color me intrigued. I wish I did have the chops to really read it.

        The idea that such phenomena could have such a (comparatively) straightforward characterization blows my mind a little.

    2. LilD

      I’m going to take a look this weekend. I spent a year in a nonlinear dynamical systems lab …

      Oscillation is ubiquitous in natural systems (and artificial ones like financial systems), from weather to epidemiology to predator-prey interactions to lobster stomach activity.

      This paper is potentially a huge step in categorizing systems, understanding the code invariant properties and simplifying. Cross discipline research might be more amenable; if eg some biological process maps to a well studied process in electrical circuits, we might gain understanding

      More tomorrow…

    3. BillS

      This is an article that interests me greatly. I have long had an interest in characterizing and quantifying noise in electronic oscillators and I can see some commonalities in the work of these authors. I will need some time to digest this article – on the surface, it looks like they are using a classic continuous Markov model (the backward Kolmolgorov equation for transition probabilities). This is a powerful method that can model very general systems. For example, I found it very useful for modeling phase locked oscillators in low signal-to-noise environments. If anyone is interested in a mid-level mathematical treatment of phase locking as a Markov process, check out the section on continuous Markov processes in this paper

    1. Carolinian

      It’s a hand held device you can only hold for two minutes before it burns your hand. Also it may cost over a thousand dollars.

      Other than that it’s a great device.

  3. pjay

    “New Effort To Remove Trump From Ballot Underway In California” [Huffington Post].

    They’d better get this 14th Amendment crap to the Supreme Court and settled pronto. Things are going to be chaotic enough with all the other lawfare obstacles, but when Democratic Attorneys General (Attorney Generals?) start arbitrarily throwing Trump off state ballots, there’s going to be some real serious trouble. Probably will be anyway, because when it comes to Trump Derangement the Establishment has lost touch with all reality. It’s actually appears willing to destroy the country in order to save it!

  4. lyman alpha blob

    So maybe Bob Menendez isn’t a corrupt and venal [family blog]er after all, but just shops at Costco?

    1. aleph_0


      I’m still waiting for a picture of Menendez to come out holding a giant, bulging white bag with a dollar sign painted on it that a friendly fellow in stripes just gave him.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > just shops at Costco

      Somehow I picture Bob M’s gold bars as bigger and heavier.

      Also picturing a prepper out in the woods, trying to open a can of beans with a one-ounce gold bar. Wrong, as it were, assumptions….

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > RFK

      I missed a lot of news — Feinstein, RFK — creating that table on primary ballot deadlines! I assume the timing for a Presidential ballot is later, but I don’t know what the timing is. I guess another table Monday! (I wish I could have put the relevant dates on a map, but had no time.)

      Assuming Trump v. Biden, the election would be very closely poised; an independent candidate would need to take only one or two states to be a power broker when the electoral votes are counted. Buckle up!

      1. some guy

        If the Green candidate Cornell West could get RFK Jr. onto his ticket as VP running mate ( if RFK Jr would accept), then the Cornell Greens might indeed be that power broker. If Cornell cared less about “love” and “speaking truth to power” and more about getting power itself and using it like a crowbar or a tire iron against the brand name parties.

        1. GramSci

          The Greens should nominate RFK if they want to have impact, but they’re too woke and Slava Ukrainia! They’d rather lose and keep their imagined connections to power. Who knows? Maybe someday Harvard will repent and offer Cornel tenure :-/ .

          1. some guy

            Perhaps RFK and other such could start up a whole new party. They could call it the Real Democrat Party. They could dare the Democratic Party to sue them for copyright infringement or trademark infringement or whatever they would dare the Democratic Party to sue them for.

            ” Renew the Deal. Vote Real Democrat”.

        2. Feral Finster

          “If Cornell cared less about “love” and “speaking truth to power” and more about getting power itself and using it like a crowbar or a tire iron against the brand name parties..


          This is the fundamental problem that the Greens, the DSA, etc. face. They don’t really want power and they wouldn’t know what to do with it if they got it.

          1. some guy

            The US has had a century of periodic elimination campaigns against every leftist person and group which really wanted power and would have known what to do with it. After all these counter-leftists elimination campaigns, we are left with a residual left which doesn’t really want power and would not know what to do with it if they got it. In “Darwinian” terms, this is the left which our rulers have selected for and the left we are left with.

            Any emerging leftist which showed real promise of seeking power for genuine use would probably get the Fred Hampton treatment early in his/her career. Any wannabe-powerful power-seeking power-using left-minded group or movement would have to figure out how to be too diffuse and too leaderless to destroy by decapitation strikes or mass deletions. But how would such a left function and get things done? Learn from the slime mold? Perhaps such a left would have to think about deleting the deleters and decapitating the decapitators before it could move on to expropriating the expropriators.

      2. Amfortas the Hippie

        ballot access will be RFK’s biggest hurdle, i think…i mean, aside from access to debates, and media in general…
        the rules for a write in in Texas are pretty derned odious, too.
        uniparty clamped down where nobody but wonks were looking.

          1. Henry Moon Pie

            I will immodestly point out that this is where I thought RFK Jr. belonged back when Krystal Ball interviewed him. Not all Propertarian types are happy with the idea though. Remember the vicious Reason interview of RFK?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Ballotpedia

          Yes, I’ll try to tabularize (?) that on Monday (and working with Ballotpedia’s HTML is no picnic).

          Funny how many things are turning into timelines…

        2. JBird4049

          Others on this site have done deeper, better analysis than I have on the fun that is current national politics. However, I have checked on the contingent elections sections of the Constitution. It is possible that contingent elections will be needed for the both the presidency and the vice presidency. I confess that I had forgotten all the details and needed to use the Wikipedia article to bring back the details. If no one wins an electoral majority:

          The contingent election process is specified in Article Two, Section 1, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution. The procedure was modified by the 12th Amendment in 1804, under which the House chooses one of the three candidates who received the most electoral votes, while the Senate chooses one of the two candidates who received the most electoral votes. The phrase “contingent election” is not in the text of the Constitution but has been used to describe this procedure since at least 1823.

          It is the incoming Congress that would do the voting. I think this means that it would be the incoming 119th Congress of 2024. Looking at the fuster cluck that is currently is the race with four or five living, and one embalmed, candidates for president, it is going to get really fun, and I mean this as a political science major.

          More directly, it looks like Cornel West and RFK Jr. are likely kingmakers with the Regime, more directly the Democratic Party’s leadership, deciding either for Gavin Newsom or Kamala Harris for the presidency, and the constitutional provisions makes Donald Trump only needing to win third place to be a viable candidate especially if the Republicans win the House again. I can also President Biden being kept on life support until after the election especially if it looks like the Democrats will take back the House. Then there is the Senate’s role in choosing the vice president from the top two candidates.

          When I look at the habit of the ruling American regime to give politicians, including Americans, the choice of plata o plomo, silver or lead (take the money or the bullet), plus the probability of three or four political parties involved, I find that it is going to get very ugly with a good chance of sudden and unexpected deaths happening. And I am not being hyperbolic.

          Please look at Ukrainian politics for the past two decades, especially the last ten years, for an idea of what can happen as the empire always comes home. Really, for the United States, it is true that the empire exported the tools it had already used on itself.

          However, both the political system and the security state, forget about the military itself, are both incompetent, increasingly so, and are very likely to botch any special operations including ones involving extreme and permanent sanctions. Meaning that they are very likely to assassinate someone or plant child porn without it being plausibly deniable. The oncoming Covid revelations will likely blow people’s preconceptions away making that harder to do anyways.

          I have complained to myself that while I enjoy history and political science, which I find enjoyable, scholars have tended to embalm it in very dry, boring text. What is that old saying about being careful for what you wish for? Oh, well. Popcorn?

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            no. beer.
            then shots, if it gets too squirmy.
            we’re at the historical phase where some young hottie says..”well, it cant get any worse…”
            and then gets slashed/eaten.
            ive studied history for all my life.
            and ive intuited/grokked/known that we were an empire in terminal decline for a long, long time.
            i just didn’t expect the experiencing of the terminal phase to be so…stupid.
            so stupid that i’m bored with it, and just want it to end, already.
            that the majority, by far, of folks i know in real life are still in rapt attention to the shadows on the wall just makes the boredom worse…and more frightening.
            at least there’s one addled corpse out of the way, at long last(difi)…

            1. Hepativore

              We live in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. Not only is our country’s ruling defacto aristocracy hateful and malicious towards its own subjects, it is also unbelievably incompetent.

              Yet the status quo continues as our leaders’ PMC handmaidens keep telling themselves that “everything’s fine!” as a form of cope and the average person has neither the wherewithal or time to sift through all of the BS narratives and gaslighting that passes for news media in most places.

              Some people hope this will eventually spur a class revolution against our neoliberal overlords, but the cultural memory of when things were not a neoliberal hellscape is fading as the Silent and Boomer generations die off so there will soon be nobody left who has ever known anything different and therefore more likely to accept things as the way that they are; thinking that is how they always will be. Plus, the toys that the military and law enforcement have access to can put that of any ramshackle citizen militia to shame, leading to the high likelihood that an insurrection by the precariat will fail. Even if a class uprising was successful, the emergent new regime would likely be just as bad if not worse than the one it replaces as what happens with most revolutions in history.

              Neoliberalism is not going away anytime soon.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > contingent election

            Thank you. I mentioned “late Roman Republic-style shenanigans” somewhere; this sounds like an excellent example.

            Stability advocates view the race as being very tight and Trump v. Biden as inevitable. Suppose they’re right, and the electoral college count ends up very evenly poised. Now suppose RFK takes a state (not likely) or a few EVs (very possible) and ends up holding the balance of power in a “contingent election.” What then?

            1. JBird4049

              >>>What then?

              Who knows? We are not at the Proscriptions phase of the Roman Republic, but we are in a strengthening, increasingly open police state under the “control” of a faction riven elite class being driven mentally ill by the increasing stresses. One of the symptoms of this illness is the denial of reality, of what is easy to see to anyone willing to at least try to do. They are convinced that just the appearance of doing the forms of democratic government instead of actually doing the practice of good, honest democratic government, will work. Theater over function or work with anyone pointing this out being an enemy to them.

              People like this are likely to do anything to anyone, going increasingly unpredictable. I will not, and I think a majority of Americans will not except their pre selected candidates, which means that controlling the count means not as much as one would think. However, it is still the belief our ruling class that democracy only really means them, not the mass of people.

              I have been trying to game this out as silly as it is to do so. If Trump is denied by… unorthodox ways, and if West and JFK are also similarly denied, putting corrupt, amoral, and soulless people like Gavin Newsom, or God help us, Kamala Harris… Their only selling point is that they are not Trump and are corrupt, amoral, maybe immoral people in the Oval Office, which means war? People often assume that raw military power is the sole determinant of who wins, but that is usually not true. If it was, the United States would have lost the American Revolution or won all its other wars. Legitimacy, however acquired, is most often the key, not the gun.

              How many Americans will continue to believe in the legitimacy of not just the federal government, but in the entire system at all levels? Will our ruling class actually do the work needing to be legitimate instead of manufacturing at extremely tattered façade? Are more Flints, East Palestines, and Lahainas likely between now and the next elections? Will there be a severe economic recession or even depression in 2024?

              I do not think that West, JFK, or Trump will be allowed to be the President or even Vice President; I also do not think that any of them will be allowed to be kingmakers because the regime does not think of them as “legitimate” candidates, but enemies or bad people, meaning heart attack, lead poisoning, or child porn, if they do not drop out.

              Still, Newsom or Trump are the most likely, I think, with Newsom meaning war sooner. If Trump wins, still conflict, but delayed because of a greater perceived legitimacy by the population, but destructive hindering by ruling class including the repression of any reform movement continuing the decline.

              If I am right and everything breaks the ways they are most likely to, then I think the start of not civil unrest, which is possible next year, but of civil war in 2026/27 after building civil unrest in 2025/26. I do not mean just protesting or even violent rioting in the streets. (Most people are not insane militarists and it takes much to make them violent.)

                1. JBird4049

                  Yes, and the fact that most people especially outside of California do not know this makes this less of an issue than we might want or think. We talking about a nation that voted in Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, and Joe Biden. Propaganda gassed up with endless cash is a very strong drug.

                  For Newsom, it is all about appearances and the feelz, not about reality or facts, which is what the current Democratic Party and much else in these United States is today as well. The man is telegenic, slick, intelligent, and ambitious as sin. Also, unlike Harris, if it gets him what he wants, he is willing to accept help. If he is able to make the right deals with the powers that be, he would have the support of the state media, not to mention the state’s official unofficial intelligentsia, literati and glitterati, and mountains of cash.

                  This does not mean I want him as president, or even that he will be president, but that between all the candidates, he is the most likely least bad choice the establishment unless we are going to put forth Ron DeSantis or a Democratic convention surprise for Hillary Clinton. Considering this mess, I would not be too surprised for the last two.

                  Fear makes people do stupid, stupid things that seem smart, which is what I am adding to my ruminations.

    2. Carolinian

      Good for him.

      This morning’s post with you in the headline sent me to Alex Berenson’s Substack for the first time in awhile. Some of us have yet to get the “vaccine” and don’t regret that decision. So pummeling RFK over his vax views may backfire. But he is a mixed bag in other ways that don’t make him less preferable than the worst possible bag who is running things now.

      In his latest Scheerpost Patrick Lawrence says Biden is the worst president of his lifetime. That’s probably true even if others have been even more destructive.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > pummeling RFK over his vax views may backfire

        I was about to say “only if you don’t care about your child getting measles,” but the discourse is so degraded I’m not sure that would take.

        1. Carolinian

          I don’t agree with the measles objection myself–for what that is worth which isn’t very much–and RFK now says he was just asking the question.

          But then the Covid vax pushers turn this around and suggest RFK being flaky on this means all vaccines are good even when they are called vaccines but really aren’t. In other words it’s a propaganda war of very dubious legitimacy.

          So yes if the Covid vax is eventually proved to be and accepted as a mistake that may discourage use of other vaccines that work. But if that happens who will be to blame? Not RFK I’m thinking.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > RFK now says he was just asking the question

            No doubt.

            > So yes if the Covid vax is eventually proved to be and accepted as a mistake that may discourage use of other vaccines that work. But if that happens who will be to blame? Not RFK I’m thinking.

            Hardly the point. The issue is a long-standing policy view taken by RFK, and from which he raised a good deal of money, funding an entire NGO. “Just asking questions” my Sweet Aunt Fanny.

  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    Lest we forget. On 7 April 2022, Volodymyr Zelenskyy did a kind of video conference-harangue with the Greek Parliament and showed up with his own private Nazi. He didn’t even have to rely on Christia Freeland to dig up a Nazi for him.


    Darlings, it’s a pattern.

    Now I know that Americans don’t vote in federal elections based on foreign policy (and for good reason), but Nazis?

    1. The Rev Kev

      It kinda stunk when they were showing actual Nazis around inside Capital Hill as heroes. And when you had a Azov Nazi delegation go to Israel, I knew that all our political leaders have lost their minds.

    2. ddt

      At least the parliamentarians didn’t applaud here in Greece when Z left the Azovite of Greek descent to say his piece. In fact many stood up and left. There is some knee-jerk reaction left with Greeks when Nazis show up, however the political class here can only support Ukraine due to Turkey’s 1974 invasion of Cyprus. It would be hypocritical if they didn’t (tho it’s apples and oranges).

  6. Pensions Guy

    Regarding the ballot deadlines and the potential use of Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment, a 5-day hearing in the Colorado case to disqualify Donald Trump is scheduled to begin on October 30. One can follow the docket with this link. https://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/County/Case_Details.cfm?Case_ID=5240 The Minnesota Supreme Court will hear oral argument in a similar case filed there on November 2. One can follow that docket through this link, using Case No. A23-1354. https://www.mncourts.gov/Access-Case-Records.aspx We can also anticipate a rapid appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as those courts render decisions.

      1. Pensions Guy

        There has been some buzz today about Republican donors wanting to draft Glenn Youngkin as their candidate. If I were Youngkin, I would just wait to see if Trump gets disqualified and then get in, mounting write-in efforts where necessary. If nothing changes, that would leave the Democrats flatfooted.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Glenn Youngkin

          I believe I linked to this yesterday. Youngkin is, of course, totally not running (which means, I suppose, that he would most reluctantly accept a draft).

          I dunno, though. Absent Youngkin running an absolute red meat campaign on gender issues, which he is in fact equipped to do by policy decisions, I don’t know what would happen with Republican turnout (Youngkin being a former private equity executive and pretty Patagonia in class/cultural markers and affect). I should check into Youngkin’s staff. DeSantis’s staff was not, IMNSHO, very good. Possibly the sheer ineptitude of the Florida Democrat party meant they never faced competent oppostion, and hence were not prepared for the national stage.

    1. skippy

      You know its at the moment when the culmination of agency during the neoliberal period ends up like this … e.g. the previous script is rewritten when it is necessary, all before is moot. Trump is and always has been human scum and a rentier par excellence, albeit like a Jr gang getting some market share that did not piss of the big players too much, as his success vindicated the model they liked. Then he went for a raw naked power grab due to the unwashed seeking a prophet thingy and actually won.

      So now him and his are neck deep in the process and have no way out but forward or Oops stuff.

      The whole system is against him because he went off the accepted reservation and attempted to set sets family up in networking perpetuity with notions of shaking up the established order.

      This stuff is not hard …

  7. Amfortas the Hippie

    whats on the stereo at the Wilderness bar, right now:

    fikkin to get the cookin wood and other mise en place together…Eldest’s best friend is on leave from the Navy…collecting him at the san antonio airport, at this moment.
    have no idea what i’m cooking,lol…whatever they find on way home.

  8. SG

    It’s likely too late for new hopefuls to jump into the 2024 GOP presidential primaries”

    To the extent that primaries and caucuses matter in the nomination process, maybe. At least according to Democratic rules, there are all kinds of ways that a candidate who didn’t participate in the primary process could be selected by the Convention if things really went haywire in the meantime. I assume that GOP rules have a similar amount of slack, and I’m sure the RNC is weighing its options in that regard.

    Because the two major US political parties aren’t “membership organizations”, they’re not under any legal obligation to adhere to the choices of their “rank and file members” (who legally aren’t “members” at all).

    Remember this? https://observer.com/2017/08/court-admits-dnc-and-debbie-wasserman-schulz-rigged-primaries-against-sanders/

  9. petal

    I checked my PO box today. Received two more of those “Vote for someone (from The Blob) other than Trump or else Biden’s going to win again” mailers from AFP Action(Americans for Prosperity Action).

    One says “Biden wins if Trump is on the ballot. To beat Biden we must pick a new nominee.” and it says “Critical swing states won’t vote for Trump”, “Democrats will be energized.” and “Independents will be turned off.” Other side says “Four More Years?” with a photo of Biden with his head down and eyes closed. Below photo it says “How could Joe Biden win re-election?”

    The other one says “Joe Biden is failing-how can he possibly win re-election?” with the Joe Biden is failing bit in all caps and large font. Other side says “Democrats will be energized” and “Independents will be turned off” with a photo of Trump with his eyes closed in between those. It says below “With Trump on the ballot, both groups will turn out in record numbers against Donald Trump. Only a new nominee will beat Joe Biden.”

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      yeah…”Joe Biden”…”my buddy”, donchaknow…texted me a bit ago…again…
      begging for money…and please please send it before the next FEC filing!
      “Our Democracy!” and puppies are apparently on the line.
      I replied(fwiw, like i always do):
      “Dude!..i’m on a tiny, tiny pension.
      i aint got no scratch at all…but i’ll give you a bunch of free advice. call me any time….and send me the $600 you owe me”

  10. Wukchumni

    TV show pitch:

    ‘Golden Billion Bachelor’

    Merely by being in the club, any of the 497,563,211 eligible males can make their play, and yes that includes homeless contestants.

  11. Willow

    Kwiatkowski flagged the ‘campaign hair’ signal that she’s running!

    While Dems may think themselves very smart and can bend the system to their will to sabotage Trump’s presidential bid (e.g. the 14th), Trump is as cunning as a shithouse rat and will likely blow up their carefully crafted plans. Does Trump see himself as like Jesus or Lincoln & wants to be martyred? A (legally) martyred Trump is much much more dangerous than a president Trump. And was the Tucker BO hit job intended to keep MO out of the race? Benefits both GOP & TINA Dems. Of concern, the anti-Russia/Putin narrative is key to her re-election and as such things will be escalated further in a way to ensure the bogyman remains front & center to coalesce cross-party establishment support behind TINA.

  12. Wukchumni

    Reporter: “What’s in your back pocket, Speaker?”

    McCarthy: “Nothing right now. I’m broke.”

    I got bupkis in pocket
    I got the border, I’m gonna use it
    Intention, I feel inventive
    Gonna make you, make you, make you give notice and

    Got motion to vacate, restrained emotion
    Been diving, departure leaning
    No reason, just seems so pleasing to Gaetz
    Gonna make you, make you, make you give notice

    Gonna use my arms
    Gonna use my legs
    Gonna use my style
    Gonna use my sidestep
    Gonna use my fingers
    Gonna use my, my, my, lack of imagination

    ‘Cause I going make you see
    There’s nobody else here, no one like me
    I’m Speaker
    So special
    I got to have some of your attention, give it back to me

    I got rhythm, I can’t miss a vote
    I got a new skidmark, thats all she wrote
    Got something, I’m winking at you
    Gonna make you, make you, make you give notice

    ‘Cause I going make you see
    There’s nobody else here, no one like me
    I’m Speaker
    So special
    I got to have some of your attention, give it back to me

    Brass in Pocket, by the Pretenders


  13. The Rev Kev

    ‘A New York judge just took Trump’s business away.’

    I was listening to The Duran yesterday and they were talking about this whole bizarre saga. All I can say that it is a good thing that only Trump will have his businesses away by a bent judge and that this will never, ever happen again. To add to this fantasy decision, this same judge decreed that Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home was worth only $18 million when at the very least it should be at least ten times that – at least. Of course none of the other GOP candidates came out with a statement saying that although they hate Trump’s guts, this is wrong on a basic justice level and cannot be allowed to stand. And I bet that potential GOP voters noticed that too-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgYfRpPzQps (27:27 mins)

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