2:00PM Water Cooler 4/14/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Hawaiian Bird Week at Naked Capitalism continues.

* * *


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” –Hunter Thompson

Capitol Seizure

How It Started: “In Conference Call Before Riot, a Plea to ‘Descend on the Capitol” [New York Times]. “One week before an angry mob stormed the Capitol, a communications expert named Jason Sullivan, a onetime aide to Roger J. Stone Jr., joined a conference call with a group of President Donald J. Trump’s supporters and made an urgent plea. After assuring his listeners that the 2020 election had been stolen, Mr. Sullivan told them that they had to go to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021 — the day that Congress was to meet to finalize the electoral count — and ‘descend on the Capitol,’ according to a recording of the call obtained by The New York Times. While Mr. Sullivan claimed that he was ‘not inciting violence or any kind of riots,’ he urged those on the call to make their presence felt at the Capitol in a way that would intimidate members of Congress, telling the group that they had to ensure that lawmakers inside the building ‘understand that people are breathing down their necks.’ He also pledged that Mr. Trump was going to take action on his own; the president, he said, was going to impose a form of martial law on Jan. 6 and would not be leaving office.” • And the result:

How It Turned Out:

Biden Adminstration

“Bidenworld projects calm about Covid but bite their nails in private” [Politico]. “Underneath the displays of confidence, however, is simmering anxiety. Biden officials and others close to the federal response privately acknowledged that the next few weeks will determine whether the White House has truly entered a new era — or managed to misread the moment once again. Despite increasing Covid caseloads in 31 states, the administration believes there’s little evidence that the uptick, driven by the more contagious BA.2 subvariant, will reach the heights of the Omicron and Delta waves that preceded it. More encouragingly, Covid hospitalizations have remained largely flat [“largely is doing a lot of work, there] — a sign that vaccines and treatments are ensuring far fewer people suffer serious symptoms, and a boon to the theory that the U.S. can more safely live with the virus. ‘The most important thing that the vaccines are doing is keeping people away from the hospital and the morgue,” said John Moore, a virologist at Cornell University’s Weill Cornell Medicine.’ Still, the climbing case count has put some health officials on edge. They’ve spent recent days searching for hints that a bigger resurgence is on the way, unnerved by the steep increases that have already hit Europe and concerned that poor data collection is obscuring signs of a similar boom already underway here.’… [S]ome experts working on the response believe the undercounting is more severe than has been publicly acknowledged, with one administration official estimating that the government is only recording one out of every six new cases.” • Even with the data gamed, you can see the rise in both cases and hospitalization, confirmed by sewage. I’m gonna need a bigger chart. More: “In one sign of the uncertainty within parts of the administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday announced it would keep mask mandates for public transportation in place for another two weeks. The decision represents a shift from a month ago, when the administration signaled plans for a new system determining masking based on Covid risk levels — a move aimed at bringing the transportation policy in line with the CDC’s separate, less strict framework for indoor masking.” • In other words, “community levels” is being shit-canned, along with the rationale behind it. More: “More than half of all adults still haven’t gotten even their first booster, CDC data show — and at least for now, the administration appears all out of new ideas. ‘There is a narrative that this is under control,’ the person close to the White House said. ‘But I don’t know how you spin that message without having an incredibly aggressive public stance on boosters. And we’re not getting it done.'” • Nothing, of course, about ventilation or other non-pharmaceutical interventions. Maybe we’ll luck out. But at this point, that’s what we’re depending on.

Some young punk in the West Wing put Austin up to this:

“Second gentleman Doug Emhoff’s chief of staff to depart” [CBS News]. “In a letter to the second gentleman’s office, obtained exclusively by CBS News, chief of staff Julie Mason announced her departure, calling it one of the ‘toughest decisions,’ she’s ever made but ‘the right one’ for her children. Katie Peters, who is currently communications director for Emhoff’s office, will serve as acting chief of staff until a permanent replacement is selected.” • Spend more time with her familiy? Really?

Democrats en Déshabillé

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.

* * *

“Democrats blame messaging for their political problems” [The Hill]. “Sun Slated To Appear In East.”‘We got a story to tell, just got to tell it,’ Obama said as he left the East Room.” • Joe Biden owes me six hundred bucks. There’s your story.

“So This Is Pramila Jayapal’s Strategy” [The Lever]. “Brown joined the CPC when she took office in January, after defeating Turner in a primary battle in which Brown racked up support from the fossil fuel-funded, pro-Israel DMFI PAC (support she requested), Ohio Republicans, and a contractor that she had awarded $17 million to as a city councilor, a potential tit-for-tat that resulted in an ethics probe. After Turner aired an advertisement touting her support for Medicare for All, corporate lobbyists — including those representing Big Pharma — held a fundraiser for Brown, and the anti-Medicare for All lawmaker Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) intervened to support her campaign. DMFI PAC and the corporatist dark money group Third Way spent $2.4 million promoting Brown and opposing Turner. Even so, the CPC welcomed Brown with open arms. She also joined the CPC’s adversary caucus, the New Democrat Coalition, which includes several CPC members. Perhaps it’s not a bad thing to welcome any member who is willing to vote with the caucus. Brown signed on as a co-sponsor to Jayapal’s Medicare for All legislation in early February, for example. But if the strategy ends up with the caucus endorsing a candidate who ran a campaign backed by pharmaceutical lobbyists, the pro-Israel lobby, and Republicans — all constituencies whose interests are vehemently opposed to the CPC’s agenda — against a progressive like Turner, the inside game has gone awry. Sanders, meanwhile, the only Senate member of the CPC, endorsed Turner just one day before the CPC endorsed Brown.” • More on Shontel Brown:

“Colleagues worry Dianne Feinstein is now mentally unfit to serve, citing recent interactions” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “When a California Democrat in Congress recently engaged in an extended conversation with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, they prepared for a rigorous policy discussion like those they’d had with her many times over the last 15 years. Instead, the lawmaker said, they had to reintroduce themselves to Feinstein multiple times during an interaction that lasted several hours. Rather than delve into policy, Feinstein, 88, repeated the same small-talk questions, like asking the lawmaker what mattered to voters in their district, the member of Congress said, with no apparent recognition the two had already had a similar conversation. The episode was so unnerving that the lawmaker — who spoke to The Chronicle on condition they not be identified because of the sensitivity of the topic — began raising concerns with colleagues to see if some kind of intervention to persuade Feinstein to retire was possible…. Adding urgency to the recent concerns: If Democrats retain control of the Senate next year, Feinstein will succeed retiring Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy as the Senate’s president pro tem — putting her third in line for the presidency. Feinstein has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission that would allow her to run in 2024, a formality that lets her keep her fundraising accounts active, though she has not yet declared whether she intends to run.

“The First Defense Against Trump’s Assault on Democracy” [The New Yorker]. • A puff piece, and not especially entertaining. No mention of the word “Steele.”


Somehow, I accidently nuked the countdown to the midterms. Here it is, back again. 208 days is a long time in poliitics.

* * *

FL: “DeSantis draws congressional map that would dramatically expand GOP’s edge in Florida” [NBC]. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed a new congressional map that would create four more Republican-leaning districts and wipe out Democrats’ national redistricting advantage. The map — which would carve up a Black-held district — was released Wednesday afternoon, just days after state legislators said they would defer to DeSantis, a Republican, on the new congressional boundaries. The Republican-controlled Legislature drew maps that would have created less of a GOP advantage, but DeSantis vetoed them last month…. .Court challenges appear inevitable, but there is little time to change the map before the August primaries in the lead-up to the November midterm elections. Daniel Smith, a political science professor at the University of Florida who studies elections, said DeSantis appeared to be inviting lawsuits. The map ‘is clearly being drawn to challenge the remaining provisions of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court has not struck down,’ he said.”

IA: “DNC panel strips Iowa of guaranteed first vote for president; state party can still apply for coveted spot” [Des Moines Register]. “Iowa Democrats are no longer guaranteed a place at the front of the presidential nominating calendar after a panel of Democratic National Committee members voted Wednesday to effectively strip them of their coveted first-in-the-nation status. The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee voted to adopt a plan that will require Iowa Democrats to proactively make the case they should be reinstated to their long-held position.” • After the Iowa Democrats nuked their reputation to take down Sanders, this is the thanks they get.

MI: “Democratic Rep. Slotkin draws big campaign cash in bid for Michigan toss-up seat” [Washington Examiner]. “Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin raised more than $1.3 million in the first quarter, swamping her likely Republican challenger in Michigan’s newly configured 7th Congressional District, Tom Barrett, while growing her war chest to $5.5 million. Slotkin, first elected in the 2018 Democratic House wave by beating a GOP incumbent, is bracing for a fight in a new swing district, which, as drawn, slightly favors Republicans. But the congresswoman remains confident about her prospects in a midterm election shaping up as a rebuke of President Joe Biden.” • A CIA Democrat.

OR: “National Democrats appear to be picking a favorite in Oregon’s new congressional district” [Oregon Public Broadcasting]. “In a surprising development, most of the Democrats in the 6th Congressional District primary denounced what they say is an unprecedented move by a political action committee affiliated with national Democrats, the House Majority PAC. They say the PAC has thrown itself into the highly competitive race by purchasing roughly $1 million of ads to help political newcomer Carrick Flynn…. Closely aligned with Pelosi, the House Majority PAC bills itself as ‘the only PAC focused exclusively on electing Democrats to the U.S. House of Representatives.’… Flynn is from Vernonia, Oregon, where he says he grew up poor, but received a scholarship that sent him to the University of Oregon. He later graduated from Yale Law School, and has focused his campaign on his experience advising the federal government on issues like technology and disaster preparedness. Despite being a political newcomer and comparative unknown, TV and radio ads on Flynn’s behalf have already made his candidacy far more visible than other campaigns. A committee called Protect Our Future PAC has poured nearly $5 million into the effort, including spots touting Flynn’s support for seniors and commitment to public service. The committee is supported by Sam Bankman-Fried, the billionaire founder of a cryptocurrency exchange who lately has shown an intention to get deeply involved in national politics. Another group, the Justice Unites Us PAC, has reported spending more than $800,000 assisting Flynn. That amount alone is more than Salinas, who has attracted many powerful institutional endorsements in the race, has been able to raise since announcing her run last year.” • Yale, eh?

OR: “‘Phantom candidate’ or worldly policy wonk? Questions swirl around Carrick Flynn candidacy” [Salem Statesman-Journal]. Fascination article, where Flynn exhibits a charmingly childlike inability to understand who might be giving him money, or why (“I nearly spilled my drink”). More: “[T]alk to Flynn or those who know him and he is described as more policy wonk than political operative. Hesaid he is a long-time analyst and consultant who has worked on some of the world’s biggest issues: eradicating global poverty, navigating the emergence of artificial intelligence and preparing for global pandemics. According to his online profiles, he has lived in Kenya, Liberia, Timor-Leste, India, Malaysia, Ethiopia and England.” So he’s a spook? This guy looks like he was decanted from the same vat as Buttigieg.

OR: “Pelosi PAC blasted for meddling in Oregon primary” [Axios]. “rotect Our Future PAC, a new group launched this cycle by billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the crypto firm FTX, has pledged to spend $10 million on the 2022 elections. Nonetheless, it’s already committed over half of its pledged donations to Flynn alone. That total is also three times the amount it’s spending on Rep. Lucy McBath’s re-election in a more high-profile Democrat-on-Democrat House primary in Georgia…. .’Do I know exactly what was exchanged by his people and [House Majority PAC’s] people?’ [campaign manger Robin] Logsdon said to Oregon Public Broadcasting. ‘No, but I can speculate, as can everyone, that promises have been made.'”


“Democrat-Linked Lawyer Ordered to Face Charge Tied to Trump-Russia Probe” [Bloomberg]. Final paragraph: “Special Counsel John Durham, appointed during the Trump administration to investigate the probe, is lining up evidence for a trial this year. He has previously suggested that Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic Party may be improperly withholding evidence.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

The youth (1):

I don’t even know what ‘highly liberal” means.

The Youth (2):

“Opinion: How America’s Youth Lost Their Religion During the 1990s” [The Roys Report]. “Possibly the most oft-repeated statistic in American religion is the rise of the religiously unaffiliated from just 5% of the population in the early 1970s to about 30% of adults in 2022. In a field where shifts typically move at a glacial pace, that demographic factoid may represent the most abrupt and most consequential shift in American society in the postwar period. But there is a more recent such phase shift, when American religion changed incredibly quickly, in whose aftermath we feel even today. Using data from the General Social Survey, which has been fielded consistently from 1972 through 2021, and restricting the sample to adults between the ages of 18 and 35, a single decade comes into sharp focus: the 1990s. It’s a moment when young Americans seemed to lose religion virtually overnight. In 1991, 87% of young adults indicated that their faith was Christian, primarily Catholic and Protestant. Just 8% of this age group said that they had no religious affiliation. In 1998, only seven years later, the share of 18- to 35-year-olds who said they were Christians dropped a full 14 percentage points to 73%, while the percentage who answered “none” jumped to 20%, an increase of 12 percentage points. A ratio that hadn’t changed at all between 1972 and 1991 had moved by double digit percentages in seven years.” • There are various explanations given. None of them focus on the church itself.


* * *

If you missed it, here last week’s post on my queasiiness with CDC numbers, especially case count, which I (still) consider most important, despite what Walensky’s psychos at CDC who invented “community levels” think. But these are the numbers we have.

* * *

Case count by United States regions:

Uh oh. Remember, it’s 100% certain the cases numbers are significantly understated. They’ve always been gamed, but it’s worse than before. Here are the cases for the last four weeks:

NOTE I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

As I said on 4/8: “Too soon for a Fauci line? I’d give it a week.” I was too conservative. As usual, the crisis of the past is the normal of the present.

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) service area includes 43 municipalities in and around Boston, including not only multiple school systems but several large universities. Since Boston is so very education-heavy, then, I think it could be a good leading indicator for Covid spread in schools generally.

From Biobot Analytics:

Cases lag wastewater data.

From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:

The Northeast isn’t looking too good, now confirmed by hospital data. I wonder how many Gridiron Club attendees took the Acela home the following morning? (Remember that these are rapid riser counties. A county that moves from red to green is not covid-free; the case count just isnt, well, rising rapidly.)

The previous release:

Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission. This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you:

Continuing slow improvement as the map shifts from mostly red to mostly yellow (assuming the numbers aren’t jiggered). However, look at the Northeast, which remains stubbornly red.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Suddenly, the Northeast isn’t looking good. Of course, absolute levels are still low, so CDC can argue that nothing should be done. Again, I don’t like these sudden effloresences of yellow and orange. I don’t care that the baseline is low. From the point of view of our hospital-centric health care system, green everywhere means the emergency is over (and to be fair, this is reinforced by case count and wastewater). However, community transmission is still pervasive, which means that long Covid, plus continuing vascular damage, are not over. (Note trend, whether up or down, is marked by the arrow, at top. Admissions are presented in the graph, at the bottom. So it’s possible to have an upward trend, but from a very low baseline.)

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,014,114 1,013,044. We did it. Break out the Victory Gin. have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. The numbers have been level for the past few days, and they’re still democidally high.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Stats Watch

Retail Sales: “U.S. Retail Sales” [Trading Economics]. “Retail sales in the US were up 0.5% month-over-month in March of 2022, below an upwardly revised 0.8% rise in February and market forecasts of 0.6%. Figures show consumer spending remains robust but reflect mainly an increase in spending due to a surge in prices for energy, food and other goods and services. Retail sales aren’t adjusted for inflation.”

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 18 thousand to 185 thousand in the week ended April 9th, above market expectations of 171 thousand. Still, claims remain close to the previous week’s revised level of 167 thousand, the lowest since 1968.”

* * *

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 41 Fear (previous close: 46 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 43 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 14 at 1:24pm.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that

Sports Desk

“San Francisco Giants’ Alyssa Nakken, 31, makes major league history as first woman to coach on field in regular-season game” [ESPN]. • Good!

The Gallery

“Anonymous Buyer Pays Over $1 Million for a Piece of Invisible Art” [Smithsonian]. “Before NFTs upended the art world, the artist Yves Klein sold nothing in exchange for solid gold. One of the key figures of the nouveau réalisme (New Realism) movement, Klein was a pioneer of conceptual art. Between 1959 and his death in 1962, he made one of the most outrageous artistic statements of his career, selling a series of receipts for invisible “zones” and accepting payment only in gold bullion. Now, six decades later, one of those receipts has sold for over $1 million at auction. Though Klein sold numerous receipts for Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility, few exist today. That’s because he encouraged his buyers to burn them—part of a ritual in which buyers asserted themselves as the ‘definitive owners’ of their purchased ‘zone.’ As part of the ritual, Klein would dump half the payment into the Seine while burning the receipt in the presence of witnesses.” • NFTs, here we come!

Carrington was peripheral to Bloomsbury, but I would say this is more interesting than the work of, say, Duncan Grant:

Zeitgeist Watch

“The Final Pandemic Betrayal” [Ed Yong, The Atlantic]. “In just two years, COVID has become the third most common cause of death in the U.S., which means that it is also the third leading cause of grief in the U.S. Each American who has died of COVID has left an average of nine close relatives bereaved, creating a community of grievers larger than the population of all but 11 states. Under normal circumstances, 10 percent of bereaved people would be expected to develop prolonged grief, which is unusually intense, incapacitating, and persistent. But for COVID grievers, that proportion may be even higher, because the pandemic has ticked off many risk factors. Deaths from COVID have been unexpected, untimely, particularly painful, and, in many cases, preventable. The pandemic has replaced community with isolation, empathy with judgment, and opportunities for healing with relentless triggers. Some of these features accompany other causes of death, but COVID has woven them together and inflicted them at scale. In 1 million instants, the disease has torn wounds in 9 million worlds, while creating the perfect conditions for those wounds to fester. It has opened up private grief to public scrutiny, all while depriving grievers of the collective support they need to recover. The U.S. seems intent on brushing aside its losses in its desire to move past the crisis. But the grief of millions of people is not going away. ‘There’s no end to the grief,’ Lucy Esparza-Casarez told me. ‘It changes. It morphs into something different. But it’s ongoing.’ By upending the entire world, COVID could have created a shared experience that countered the loneliness of grief. But most of the people I’ve been speaking with feel profoundly lonely—detached from society, from their support network, and especially from their loved ones at the moment of their death.”

News of the Wired

“A Simple, Effective At-Home PFAS Solution” [The Brockovich Report]. • This is a product endorsement, but Brockovick has form. Readers?

One for the Trillbillies:

* * *

Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) 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. Via Copeland:

Copeland writes: “This is Rhododendron ‘Taurus’, one of the best reds and an early bloomer. My cheap phone camera (or Moi, I’m too addled to adjust the photo settings manually) really struggles with this hue. It is actually much redder and without the washed out areas where the flower petals are reflecting light.”

* * *

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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. antidlc

    RE: Bidenworld projects calm about Covid but bite their nails in private

    Not one word about long COVID.

    Not. one. word.

    1. Darthbobber

      And neither the projection of outward calm nor the private biting of nails count as doing something.
      They’ve pretty much just lashed the wheel to the mast and adjourned to play cards in the wardroom.

      1. Tom Stone

        Starting WW3 and destroying the Dollar’s role as the World’s reserve currency is moderate?
        A Million dead and counting with nothing being done to mitigate the pandemic is moderate?
        Whoever wrote that isn’t sniffing hair.

    2. Mikel

      I’m curious to see the time frame and the type of variant evolution if they get a massive booster campaign going.
      After all, this is a real life study being done en mass on humans.

    3. jefemt

      I was on a doggie walk this morning and said to my charge, Petey,
      “say, Petey, what ever happened to all the coverage of doggies contracting and carrying Covid? Haven’t seen that in the news in a very good long while….” He was mum, and I followed up with a note that it wasn’t just dogs, may have been all pets, certainly wildlife… but that type of news seems to have disappeared as well.
      And what about dogs as Covid detectors?

      The lack of rigor- on every front vis a vis covid- of the Powers that Be, and the pom-pom shaking MSM Narrative bearers— well, it renders me almost speechless

      It really does seem that the end game is getting a few billions gone in the next decade.

    4. Pelham

      One has to assume that Bidenworld is well aware of Long Covid but terrified of even bringing up the subject at this point. Granted, it’s a murky affliction, with lots of different symptoms that can surface long after Covid’s initial symptoms have faded away. And then resurface repeatedly. So Long Covid lends itself to institutional reticence and popular denial.

      Still, a mass of angry, frustrated, frightened sufferers is almost bound to rise to wider public awareness at some point. Maybe the Biden people are hoping it will be late enough that they can safely pass that along to the next administration, as well as the obvious question as to why the US never at least tried to pursue a zero-Covid policy like China or, barring that, get ahead of the virus at some point rather than waiting every time for each variant to gain an intractable foothold.

      1. curlydan

        I think they’re really afraid of the great fear of… Disability: The scourge of Social Security and the crutch of all “lazy” people not bought into the work until you die philosophy of our country. They cannot let long Covid become a thing. They would have to acknowledge blame and pay out on that blame.

        I’m almost done with a book on Flint’s water debacle/poisoning. The same types of factors going on in that story. Institutional resistance to acknowledge a problem all know exists.

  2. Larry Carlson

    Taurus rhododendrons have excellent color, but are somewhat intolerant of cold. Another excellent choice for those who aren’t on the warm side of zone 6 would be Nova Zembla.

    1. nippersdad

      Nova Zembla is gorgeous, but I cannot seem to get them to live long enough to settle in. All (well, most) of the others have been fine, but a few torrential showers too close together and they turn their roots up and die on me. Being on the warmer side of zone 6, 7B, maybe the Taurus hybrids would work better here (?).

      Between the droughts and the monsoons, global weirding has not been kind to the red Rhodies. All you can really do is get them out there and then see what happens, but by the third time you are planting them out (Nova Zemblas) one starts to wonder if they are worth the expense; banks of them are spendy. I have already given up on the yellow ones; it is just too hot for them here.

      What we need are some evergreen native azaleas; NA’s have much better root systems for local conditions. I have been wondering if one could graft rhodies onto native azalea roots for new mass plantings. Any experience with such a thing? R. Prunifolium can produce a good red, but at the expense of looking at a lot of sticks in the winter; if some of the grafts don’t hold, you could still have some red there in season.

      If there is one thing I just hate, it is looking at a lot of brush for months at a time. You just know that Mother Nature is seeing a potential wildfire, and one itches to help her out.

      1. Copeland

        >’Taurus’ is somewhat intolerant of cold

        >global weirding has not been kind to the red rhodies

        Global weirding Indeed. Turns out I took the photo just in time…..25.3F this morning turned those perfect flower trusses to mush. Remains to be seen how the plant itself fares.

  3. Questa Nota

    Feinstein Fitness articles and editorials soon to appear in the following:
    SF Chronicle

    just kidding :p

    1. Questa Nota

      Just saw a twitter item from this morning by the SF Chronicle so at least one publication is paying attention.

    2. Eureka Springs

      While Putin speaks in paragraphs or chapters we are exceptional if BidenStien can remember their own names.

      1. amechania

        Coming soon : The ineffable confidence of being conned

        by funding Democrats you can own a nonfungible piece of the action in our do-nothingest political party. No constituents? No platform? No problem!

        The president is ignored by Obama. Harris is ignored by the president. And Buttigeg ignores the unspeakable forces who have summoned and bound him! Just keep smiling, and watch cnn plus raise less money than a few bored apes!

        Hollowed out your country and ran out of conquests to conquer? Defeated by native in pajamas again? Don’t wait for the metaverse. The past as future is now. Invest today. No refunds.

    3. Mildred Montana

      The media are just a bunch of bitter spoil-sports. Don’t they know that Feinstein is shooting for Strom Thurmond’s* record as oldest serving senator? Let the old gal have some fun in her dotage. You go girl! /sarc

      *Thurmond served until the age of 100. His death forced him to retire.


      1. c_heale

        I’ve now read all those documents. They are not too specific about certain processes.

        One is the high selectively for the chemical groups on the end of the polyfluoroalkyl chains – is there not the possibility that other naturally occurring chemicals will be selected instead – there are many naturally occurring long chain organic compounds in the soil. The polyfluoroalkyl chains are extremely unreactive (the main problem with these chemicals), how can this be selected for?

        Apparently Polyfluoroalkyl compounds can be broken down by electrolysis and other means…
        However, how viable is this with real soils and water where other chemicals will be present, even if there is a high concentration of PFA compounds?

        Seems like a way forward, but would expect it to use a lot of energy and be expensive, and finally the jury is still out on how effective it would be in the real world imo.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I went to their website, but jumping around therein — I did not see much to compel me to chase down their products.

      Why are we looking to private companies to deal with the quality of public water!

      1. LilD

        Like everything else, you get to exercise personal freedom as to whether you want to filter out poisons and how.

    2. Jokerstein

      As someone who has worked with perfluoroalkanes, I see no reason to disbelieve a priori that a suitably engineered cylcodextrin complex could not sequester PFAs.

      It’s theoretically feasible, but I’d like to see their data.

      FWIW, this PubMed article talks about removal of PFAs from human serum albumen in vivo. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34838360/

      I certainly think this worth a dekko.

  4. Sara

    Just the right amount of formaldehyde and meth holds her together.
    She and Joe share a connection.

    When you are that old, you don’t care if the children of the world get vaporized, (if they are lucky.)

    Scenes from Cormack McCarthy’s The Road, a tale of post nuclear war America. Here, the human meat locker:
    “Huddled against the back wall were naked people, male and female, all trying to hide, shielding their faces with their hands. On the mattress lay a man with his legs butchered to the hip and the stumps black with dried blood…”

    Anyone promoting, rationalizing or creating nuclear war must be exterminated for the protection of humanity.

    1. nippersdad

      Isn’t it odd that they remember every detail of the Cold War except the important parts? I never realized that so many septuagenarians could have the same kinds of selective memory problems.

    2. Thistlebreath

      Had the bittersweet experience of recently hearing D. Ellsberg deliver a eulogy for a deceased friend, whom I’d known since high school. They were a dedicated war resistor.

      Elllsberg’s book is a sobering, very well written book.

      Ellsberg is a prodigious thinker. “The Ellsberg Paradox”– “a paradox of choice in which people’s decisions produce inconsistencies with subjective expected utility theory” has inspired over 500 scholarly papers.

  5. antidlc

    This tweet says it all about Congress:

    Late this afternoon after a routine test, I tested positive for COVID-19.

    I’m so thankful to be both vaccinated & boosted, and at the advice of the Attending Physician I plan to isolate.

    If you haven’t gotten your shot yet, I encourage you to do so.

    I added the bold highlight.

    Congress has its own physician(s) available at a moment’s notice (who probably have a supply of Paxlovid on hand).


    Special Health Care for Congress: Lawmakers’ Health Care Perks

    his fall while members of Congress toil in the U.S. Capitol, working to decide how or even whether to reform the country’s health care system, one floor below them an elaborate Navy medical clinic — described by those who have seen it as something akin to a modern community hospital — will be standing by, on-call and ready to provide Congress with some of the country’s best and most efficient government-run health care.

    1. EGrise

      I’ve wondered if one aspect of our elite’s disdain for masks is their ready access to Paxlovid and other highly effective but limited/expensive medicines unavailable to the hoi polloi; they perceive themselves as invulnerable, and thus have the ability to act disdainfully toward the virus like a general walking calmly atop the parapet during an artillery barrage.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Masks protect ye not me. I think it’s that simple. Helping others is anathema to these people, and wearing masks is an outward reminder of values. It’s real virtue signaling, different than a blm sign while working to stop apartments being built virtue signaling.

    2. Geo

      The congressional healthcare plan: Medicare For Me, But Not For Thee.

      While our lifespans plummet they will stay in office reaping the benefits until their brains are soup and bodies just withered husks. I fully expect in twenty years to be listening to Pelosi’s exoskeleton warble through a voicebox about how her leadership saved the remaining three Dem seats in Congress: hers, Clyburn’s and Feinstein’s.

  6. Mikel

    “Bidenworld projects calm about Covid but bite their nails in private” [Politico].

    They should be nervous. They produce enough bad waves of this and their pickings for doctors and nurses may get slimmer and slimmer.
    But that may not bother them. You already see the seeds of the dystopia being planned with some automated software giving the pleebs a “check-up” online (no ability notice any physical clues that could be key to treatment) and only enough doctors for the few.

  7. Jason Boxman

    Well, Pramila Jayapal demonstrated that she’s either a moron or a charlatan last year, when the CPC decided to fold on BBB — Biden’s signature agenda item — and support a two-track pair of bills, which obviously meant BBB would never pass, and surprise surprise it did not. Meanwhile, the bipartisan infrastructure bill doesn’t seem to be winning voter’s hearts and minds and liberal Democrats are in for (I can only assume) a much deserved thrashing at the polls in November.

    1. Yves Smith

      She told Bernie to quit in 2020. I suspect her taking that position contributed to the severity of his staff also urging him to resign. With about half his staff urging Sanders to quit, no way could he continue. They leave or continue only going through the motions.

      So I have never never been a fan.

      1. ckimball

        When I learned that Pramila Jayapal did not endorse Nina Turner my heart fell into my gut
        and I felt ill for the remainder of the day. I realize today that it was a depression. She is
        looking pretty pumped up. I think she has been conquered by her ambition which I saw
        in 2016 when she wanted Bernie to take his following into a new party and divest from the democrats. She quickly encouraged people to pivot from him to her position. This is how I
        remember it… being in proximity to Seattle. I think my sick feelings were less about Pramila and more about the lack of regard her destructive action toward these two real people sucked up the joy they emenated only one day before when I and many others had become vulnerable to a burst of happiness. To hell with her….she’s a fraud.

    2. Procopius

      I don’t know from bipartisan, but there were a dozen CIA/LEO/Blue Dog/New Democrats who were never going to vote for the BBB. I wish she had blocked the “Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill,” but she needs help from those right-wingers in the future.

  8. allan

    SUNY Geneseo faculty say an experiment using ultraviolet light to kill COVID-19 damaged their eyes [WXXI]

    When SUNY Geneseo history professor Kathy Mapes returned to campus at the start of the spring semester on Jan. 27, she noticed something strange mounted to the back wall in her Welles Hall classroom.

    She thought it looked like a space heater. …

    She didn’t think much more about it and got ready to teach class. But that night, Mapes woke up at 1 a.m. with a burning pain in her eyes. …

    The next day, several of her colleagues said they had similar symptoms.

    One of them did some online research and came to the conclusion that their eye problems were caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation — UVC light — used to target airborne pathogens. …

    SUNY Geneseo bought the units in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, according to a report from the New York State labor department’s Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau. …

    Mapes was diagnosed with UV keratitis, which is caused by unprotected exposure to ultraviolet rays. She was also told that the thin tissue covering her cornea was damaged. It still hasn’t healed.

    Mapes believes she is one of eight Geneseo faculty members whose eyes were damaged after they came into contact with the UVC fixtures in their classrooms. Some also reported burning and peeling skin on their faces. She was the only one who would speak on the record about her injuries.

    Mapes considers herself lucky. She said others suffered much more severe damage. …

    Oopsie. But the administration surely ran this by the campus IRB, right?

    1. Lex

      WTF!? University administrators are generally bad and incompetent people and the ones in charge of facilities may be the worst of the lot. But the idea to just mount UVC lamps out in the open is well beyond the level of incompetence I’m used to from them.

      Besides for the fact that UV light for destruction of microorganisms requires the target organism to be in immediate proximity of the bulb for a certain length of time (organism dependent). Ambient UVC isn’t going to kill any significant percentage of covid viral particles, just the ones that randomly get too close for too long.

      No reason to “experiment” on this because the facts of UV sterilization are pretty well established. It works great for surfaces and can be very effective in situations where air is slowed/stopped like a filter or most often for disinfecting condensate locations in HVAC systems.

      1. c_heale

        At the very least the students should have been given glasses which protect from UV light (as they have in tanning facilities). This indicates a complete lack of scientific knowledge among the university administrators (and a failure to consult any with such knowledge), but more importantly a failure to follow health and safety procedures. I think the university will lose any subsequent lawsuit. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are other health hazards at this university.

        All my sympathy to the students injured and I hope they can fully recover their sight.

    2. thoughtful person

      A couple new variants out there, per Dr Eric Ding on twitter. 2 in central NY. BA2.1.12 I think is one. Anyway now dominant strain in upstate. NY health dept and NYT have some coverage. Either more infectious than BA2 or perhaps more likely more able to overcome immunity than BA2.
      Meanwhile SAfrica has BA3 and 4 growing rapidly.

  9. Larry Y

    Michael Pettis latest: “Changing the Top Global Currency Means Changing the Patterns of Global Trade” at https://carnegieendowment.org/chinafinancialmarkets/86878

    Economies are so determined to run surpluses with the US, they’re stuck with:

    […] the only major economies both willing and able to run the permanent trade deficits that accommodate the needs of foreign surplus-running countries to acquire foreign assets. No other major economy can accept, or is willing to accept, this burden.

    Using commodities won’t work either, as it will exacerbate volatility and have reserves that are: “are most valuable when it least needs them and, presumably, least valuable when it most needs them.”

    Anyway, he proposes three ways of relieving trade deficits.

    My main area of disagreement is his focus on fiscal deficits (not a problem at the national level), and barely a mention of role of US overseas military and the rest of military-industrial complex in keeping the current system going.

  10. Ranger Rick

    I can think of a few things that happened in the 90s that would radically alter the perception of religion in young people, most of them pop culture related (possibly covered by “backlash against the religious right”), but the top of the list isn’t even mentioned in passing: two decades of widespread news coverage of child abuse scandals.

    The internet angle should make for a fun wordcloud statistical analysis derived from the Usenet archives.

  11. fresno dan

    Dolly Parton & Pattil Labelle singing while playing their acrylic nails
    I wonder who has bigger hair? As hair volume measurements’ confidence intervals and standard deviations are notriously wide, I will use head hair weight instead. Dolly 41 pounds of hair, Pattie 39 pounds of hair. I would not utter such a pronouncement to either one, as the hair of both has been teased enough…

    1. griffen

      That answers the nagging question of measuring big hair, what you got for us next ! And when it comes to teasing hair, the hair metal ’80s bands had em all beat.

      Poison. Motley Crue.

    2. John Beech

      fesno dan you better pick on someone else! Dolly is a national treasure and it is she amongst all citizens living for whom I would suggest Mt. Rushmore honors. Tread carefully, sir!

        1. Yves Smith

          Her impressive boobs are fake and honestly must be painful (in terms of what they do to her back). She did say something to the effect of “It costs a lot of money to look so cheap.”

          1. T T T

            Dolly is quite honest about the image fakery, I read an interview with her some years ago, and when the interviewer asked how long it took to do her hair each day she said something along the lines of….I don’t know, I’m never there when it gets done.

  12. griffen

    CNBC all day has run a non-ending story about how Elon Musk is proposing to acquire Twitter, with the oddly timed deadline of next Wednesday to accept his offer. Calendar mavens will know that 4/20 is next Wednesday. No sarcasm intended, for sure.

    I really, really hope this goes sideways and shareholders pull out the blame cannons on all involved. I just can’t see this going through on such a shortened schedule.

    1. Mikel

      I just took a look at all the current largest institutional share holders of Twitter – including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
      Musk is going on about free speech and no bans. The institutional share holders I’m looking at probably are keeping their huge interest because of the ability to ban.
      It’s being fought.

  13. FreeMarketApologist

    Oooh.. Leonora Carrington. I would say she’s only contemporaneous with Bloomsbury set. A wonderful Surrealist, magical realist, activist, etc. She had an interesting and complex life, and her paintings are beautifully composed, engaging, wild, occasionally disturbing, and full of imagery and allegory. In some ways, a Bosch for her time (though with far fewer people, and different motives).

    Highly recommended.

    1. Librarian Guy

      100% agreed, & as much for her surrealist literature as visual arts. The painting shown is the cover of her book The Hearing Trumpet, which is an amazing work that clearly presages the William S. Burroughs beat era productions of a decade or more later . . . I always assumed Bloomsbury was far earlier & for the most part stodgier, after all Leonora had to flee the Nazi occupation in 1940 when only 23 years old, & her time in Mexico starting soon after set her on entirely new paths . . . the latter sections of The Hearing Trumpet certainly blew my mind, it starts out with closeted queerness, witchcraft among the elderly as a fountain of youth, and cross-dressing pot dealers, then transitions to Interstellar werewolves and a new Ice Age . . . she is an original mind, I’d put her alongside writers like Petronius or Rabelais in terms of the ability to surprise the reader with the unexpected and bizarre, yet unexpectedly coherent vision that she shared.

      1. Takaratiki

        Thought that, too. May be confusing her with Dora Carrington, who was best buds with Lytton Strachey and definitely a Bloomsbury Group adjacent. An interesting painter in her own right.

  14. griffen

    Sport desk commentary, good on the SF Giants I will suppose. It also included how a minor league manager is also making history for the Tampa Bay minor league team. And in the spirit of the early games of this new season, think it appropriate to feature a little baseball on film.

    Bull Durham, when Crash introduces himself. Probably NSFW.


  15. Tom Stone

    For those who are interested in DiFi’s past the “Anderson Valley Advertiser” covered her involvement in the rape of the Headwater’s Forest and also did an in depth investigation of her many questionable dealings and conflicts of interest.
    Available in their archives.
    As one of those peculiar people who pays attention to what politicians do rather than what they say I have despised her for many decades.

  16. Mikel

    The Final Pandemic Betrayal

    “Millions of people are still mourning loved ones lost to COVID, their grief intensified, prolonged, and even denied by the politics of the pandemic.’

    Oh, look…they’re noticing that if there a millions dead, there are millions mourning and know how real this mess is and don’t have time for “put on a smiley face for the corporations.”

  17. The Rev Kev

    ‘This morning, I had the pleasure of speaking with Ukrainian troops training in the U.S. who are returning home to Ukraine today. Their bravery and skill are amazing. I made clear the U.S. will continue to provide them with the assistance they need.’

    Not to be confused with a proxy war. No siree. Of course this training has been going on for a very long time. Countries like the US were also training Azov units, even though they knew that they were Nazis. Congress finally passed a law from the US doing so – officially – but a coupla months ago this law was quietly repealed. Canada has been involved too and recently the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Israel condemned Canadian troops for doing so. ‘The Canadian military, however, denied any obligation to vet the training recipients.’


  18. The Rev Kev

    Report that the Chechens have captured an American so that must be in Mariupol. The video clip shows what is supposed to be an American passport with the face blurred. Presently, he is helping the Chechens with their inquiries-


    There is also a version on YouTube that has the face unblurred but YouTube has already taken down another version showing this clip-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbv1IQ1FiW0 (14:05 mins)

  19. upstater

    State approves multi-billion dollar deal to support Lake Champlain power line

    The $4 billion CHPE transmission project includes a $117 million environmental trust fund to support restoration projects on Lake Champlain and other parts of the transmission’s route. Developers also negotiated agreements along the proposed route, seeking reduced tax payments over the next 30 years, while guaranteeing payments that local governments and school districts can expect. In Clinton, Essex and Washington counties, developers estimated a combined construction cost of nearly $700 million, agreeing to projected tax payments of $470 million in the three counties over the next three decades.

    Financed by one of the world’s richest private equity firms, The Blackstone Group, the transmission line stirred debate in recent months among environmentalists, local officials and activists focused on eliminating the use of highly-polluting gas and oil plants in New York City.

    Conservation and demand management is not part of the democratic NY PSC, much less radical conservation or residential PV.

  20. The Rev Kev

    From the Department of You Can’t Make This Up. So this guy took a screen capture of a Washington post article where it said-

    ‘Musk’s appointment to Twitter’s Board shows that we need regulation of social-media platforms to prevent rich people from controlling our channels of communication’


    My first good laugh for the day.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The only way that could be even funnier is if it was Bill Clinton who wrote the article.

      Maybe some clever troll in journalist-disguise can trick-ambush Jeffrey Epstein’s friend at some public appearance and ask him what he thinks of that article. Or what he thinks in general of Musk invading Twitter’s board.

  21. John Beech

    [S]ome experts working on the response believe the undercounting is more severe than has been publicly acknowledged,

    It’s true in my experience. My pal tested positive about 10 days ago. His two grandsons didn’t. Then his son and daughter did. Then the two grandsons did. His wife never.

    So the kids had actually been snuffly all along but only tested positive at the doctor’s office. The adults tested positive on a combination of the government test kits and kits they bought at the pharmacy.

    So of five positives, only the two kids were reported because they tested positive at the doctor’s office. The other three? Not reported. So heck yes there’s an undercount of cases, duh!

    Fortunately for my pal, nobody went to the hospital. He, however, is still hacking up a lung, but it’s unproductive. Tickle and cough hasn’t gone away. And everybody has tested negative twice so they’re basically clear.

    Me and mine? We’re still hiding out. Haven’t been to a restaurant in two years and counting. Dr. Faucci says everybody has to assess their own risk, this is how we assess it.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      People who assess their risk in a similar way to your way should find a way to get in touch with eachother to become a political-culture community of Covid Realists. Perhaps they can find other groups to work with on a ” no more deliberate pandemics” agenda.

      ” Stop the Jackpot!” etc.

  22. drumlin woodchuckles

    About the community of grief and grievers outlined in the Atlantic’s ” The Final Pandemic Betrayal ” article . . . perhaps they will eventually become the nucleus of a movement to get organized revenge on all the architects and enablers and carry-out-ers of the deliberately and carefully engineered ” Let It Rip ” agenda.

    Why did I respell it as ” Let It Rip” as opposed to ” let ‘er rip ” ? Because ” let it rip ” is more amenable to joining with the 2-word phrase-finishers ” on purpose “.

    As in . . . . LIROP . . . for Let It Rip On Purpose.

    And its only a short step from LIROP to HIROP and then MIROP.

    And once those millions of grievers face up to the fact that their loved ones were MIROPped on purpose, they will be ready for a movement of organized vengeance, thorough, complete and unforgiving.
    And once the entire community of MIROPpers has been “deleted”, then the community of grievers can perhaps inspire the rest of the population to work on a ” no more deliberate pandemics” agenda.

    1. TBellT

      Isn’t it more likely these people will internalize it and we’ll get more deaths of despair? Seems like the more American response.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        It is till it isn’t. The ruling elites may well push people to the point of a spontaneous “pearl harbor mind-meld event” throughout the society.

        I offered my “acronym adjustment” idea as a possible way to help that happen sooner. It may be a silly idea. Then again, somebody may figure out how to weaponise it and disseminable-ize it for country-wide viralization. And then maybe something will happen.

  23. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is an example of someone getting some creative delayed-exposion revenge on someone just a notch above them on the social class kick-down ladder. If this impulse could spread to millions of people and be mixed with a Global Guerillas level of understanding about where the weakest pain points are in enemy systems, millions of individual people could get millions of individual revenges, or even millions of individual pain-point attacks, to the point where systems of control and behavior start to degrade and unravel.


  24. thoughtful person

    If you missed it, here last week’s post on my queasiiness with CDC numbers, especially case count, which I (still) consider most important, despite what Walensky’s psychos at CDC who invented “community levels” think. But these are the numbers we have.

    I think biobot and other waste water the way to go at this point.

    I’ve been searching around on biobot for cities in the different regions that might be worth tracking.
    One is Nassau NY another is Miami FL. Both these have a data set for the whole pandemic, and graph includes case numbers if desired.

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