2:00PM Water Cooler 6/29/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

American Goldfinch, Audrey Carroll Audubon Sanctuary, Frederick, Maryland, United States. “Quiet vocalization accompanied by wing flicking.”

* * *


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

Biden Administration

“TL(PM) DIGEST: Still no ‘Ukraine fatigue’ in sight” [The Liberal Patriot]. “A new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans back continued military aid to Ukraine, with majorities of Republicans (56 percent) and independents (57 percent) joining 81 percent of Democrats in favor of ongoing assistance. Two-thirds also say that they’re more likely to support a presidential candidate who backs military aid to Ukraine as well. Why does it matter? These results show that often-predicted ‘Ukraine fatigue’ has still yet to overtake the American public—and that support for Ukraine’s battle against Russian aggression should be seen as a political winner across party lines. Predictions that the American people will eventually get tired of backing Kyiv have repeatedly fallen short of the mark, even as many ‘America First’ conservatives rail against continued assistance. Good politics and good policy don’t always coincide, but on Ukraine they very much seem to do so. President Biden and the bipartisan coalition in favor of aid to Ukraine have little to fear politically for doing the right thing here.”


I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“President Biden denies he was present during alleged Hunter Biden 2017 text” [CNN]. “President Joe Biden on Wednesday emphatically denied that he was involved or present when his son Hunter Biden is alleged to have texted a Chinese business partner in 2017, claiming that he was sitting with his father. Asked whether he was involved in the business dealings or was sitting with Hunter when the message was sent, Biden told reporters Wednesday, ‘No. I wasn’t.’ Asked again, Biden replied more forcefully, ‘No.’ The White House has previously declined to say whether Biden was present during the alleged exchange. The questions referred to a portion of the testimony in which a IRS supervisor-turned-whistleblower told House lawmakers that Justice Department prosecutors denied requests to look into messages allegedly from Hunter Biden where he used his father as leverage to pressure a Chinese company into paying him. ‘I am sitting here with my father and we would like to understand why the commitment made has not been fulfilled,’according to testimony the whistleblower gave to Congress, which quotes from texts that are allegedly from Hunter Biden to the CEO of a Chinese fund management company. The message continues: ‘Tell the director that I would like to resolve this now before it gets out of hand. And now means tonight.’ The message goes onto say, ‘I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret not following my direction. I am sitting here waiting for the call with my father.'” • Hunter — dear Hunter! — is rather imperious, here. I wonder where he gets that from?

“Biden has started using CPAP machine for sleep apnea” [Axios]. “President Biden has recently started to use a CPAP machine to treat his sleep apnea, the White House confirmed Wednesday…. Biden started using the machine recently to improve his sleep quality, per a White House official. Previous medical records from 2008 showed that Biden had a recurring issue of sleep apnea, a common condition in which ‘your breathing stops and restarts many times while you sleep,’ per the National Institutes of Health.” • Naturally, I checked: “Sleep apnea linked to long-COVID symptoms” [CIDRAP].

* * *

“Trump sues E. Jean Carroll for defamation over post-trial rape claim” [Boston Globe]. “The former president on Tuesday night filed a counterclaim accusing Carroll of trashing his reputation by publicly accusing him of rape during a May 10 appearance on CNN, despite jurors concluding a day earlier that his actions during the alleged 1996 assault hadn’t gone that far. Trump ‘has been the subject of significant harm to his reputation, which, in turn, has yielded an inordinate amount of damages sustained as a result,’ according to the filing.” • It’s like the whole Trump subsection is over-run with lawsuits….

“Joe Rogan praises Trump for ‘perfect’ answer declaring he would end Russia-Ukraine war as president” [FOX]. “Rogan then lamented that the anti-war left of his youth is missing in action, saying establishment Democrats and Republicans appear united to prolong the war in Ukraine. ‘They’re all united on this idea that they should continue. There’s no one, whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat,” he observed, recalling that Democrats of the past were “always anti-war, always.'” Not so! More: ‘He went on to say, ‘This is the first time where the Democrats are, like, wholesale buying the narrative and ‘We have to stop Putin. We have to support Ukraine.’ I mean, how many Democrat, peaceful people that used to have syringes in their Twitter bio now have a Ukraine flag?’ Rogan praised Trump for his rhetoric in a CNN Town Hall in May, where the 2024 candidate boasted he could end the Russia-Ukraine war overnight if he were re-elected president. ‘If I’m president, I will have that war settled in one day, 24 hours,’ Trump declared, saying he would meet with presidents of both countries.”

“Trump wants to keep ‘communists’ and ‘Marxists’ out of the US. Here’s what the law says” [Associated Press]. “During his speech Trump said he would use a particular section of U.S. immigration law — Section 212 (f) — to bar ‘all communists and all Marxists.’ That section gives broad authority to bar people who aren’t U.S. citizens entering the country if their entry would be ‘detrimental to the interests of the United States.’ … He also said there needs to be a “new law” to address communists and Marxists who grew up in America, but didn’t elaborate on what it would include.” • I’m sure liberal Democrat will get behind this, so what’s the issue?

* * *

“DeSantis wants Disney trial held after presidential election” [Orlando Sentinel]. The deck: “Disney’s lawyers propose July 15, 2024, the same day the Republican National Convention begins in Milwaukee.” More: “DeSantis has made his quarrel with Disney a centerpiece of his bid for president. He devoted a chapter in his book “The Courage to be Free’ to Disney. But David Jolly, a political analyst critical of the governor, said he thinks DeSantis has overplayed his hand. The issue won’t translate well with general election voters, and his Republican primary challengers have an avenue to attack him for meddling with business, he said. ‘For a governor that built his campaign on a slogan of never back down, he sure is running away from this issue,’ said Jolly, a former Tampa Bay-area congressman.” • Actually, I think DeSantis is right on the merits (though I don’t know if he’s selling it that way). Disney’s “tourism oversight district” (“Reedy Creek“) sounds like an unfortunate combination of a corporation and a sovereign state, to me. Not something conservatives should be any favor of.

“Comedians are starting to mock Ron DeSantis. What it means for the 2024 candidate” [McClatchy]. “DeSantis’ entrance into popular internet culture can be read two ways. On one hand, it signals his rising relevance in a primary campaign that includes 10 other GOP candidates: There aren’t any Nikki Haley or Tim Scott impressionists — at least not yet. On the other hand, most studies of political humor show it having an overwhelmingly negative effect on people’s opinions of the person being parodied….. There are caveats to the thesis. [Dr. Jody Baumgartner, a professor of political science at East Carolina University] said the better known the politician is, the less impact an impersonation has on mass perception. This means that continued impressions of the former president won’t move the dial no matter how funny or prevalent they are. ‘The Trump humor won’t have any effect whatsoever. And I mean none,’ Baumgartner said.” • I read the jokes. They’re not very good.

* * *

“Vivek Ramaswamy’s rise to semi-prominence, explained” [Vox]. “The 37-year-old former biotech CEO and first-time candidate has been omnipresent in the media. He’s been campaigning vigorously in the early states. And in recent months, he’s polled comparably with candidates like Mike Pence and Nikki Haley, in the hunt for third place behind Trump and DeSantis — getting between 1 and 5 percent support nationally. That is not exactly a poll surge that terrifies the frontrunners just yet, but it’s still impressive for an unknown to rise to that level. Ramaswamy has gotten to this point through a combination of talent, message, and money. After making an estimated half-billion-dollar fortune from his biotech startup ($10 million of which he’s put into his campaign so far), Ramaswamy became an outspoken commentator criticizing ‘woke capitalism,’ frequently spotlighted on Fox News. His pocketbook and networking ability also helped him get onto the conservative groups event circuit. The mainstream media, meanwhile, has realized Ramaswamy is ready and willing to take any interview, and that he makes for good TV, though it could come at a cost for the journalist conducting the interview. During a CNN appearance, host Don Lemon became exasperated with Ramaswamy’s strange historical claims about the National Rifle Association’s role in the civil rights movement, and huffed, ‘It’s insulting that you’re sitting here, whatever ethnicity you are, ‘splaining to me what it’s like to be Black in America.’ Lemon was fired by CNN days later, and the interview reportedly played a role. Ramaswamy had been talking nonsense, but what did that matter? He’d owned the lib.” • Ten million isn’t much.

* * *

“RFK Jr.: ‘I’m proud that President Trump likes me'” [The Hill]. “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. refused to criticize former President Trump on Wednesday night and said he was flattered by recent comments from Trump praising him as a ‘common-sense guy.’ Asked by moderator Elizabeth Vargas what Kennedy thinks about Trump, Kennedy said: “I’m not going to attack other people personally.” He then went a step further, expressing pride that he has received positive affirmations recently from Trump, who is embroiled in legal troubles as the leading Republican presidential contender in the GOP primary. He also referred to the former president in present tense. ‘I’m proud that President Trump likes me,’ he said. Trump was the latest figure on the right to defend Kennedy in an appearance this week on ‘The Howie Carr Show.’ ‘Just hang in,’ Trump advised Kennedy. ‘He’s been very nice to me, I’ve actually had a very nice relationship with him over the years. He’s a very smart guy, and a good guy.'”

Glenn is making “rhetorically adept” do rather a lot of work. The clip is on vaccines:

RFK: “I’ve never been anti-vaccine…. Vaccines should be tested.” Wellie, I’m trying to avoid putting on my yellow waders here, so I went back to 2005’s “Deadly Immunity” (since retracted by both Rolling Stone and Slate) where RFK, in the process of making his bones with the anti-vax community, quotes one Mark Blaxill approvingly and unqualifiedly: “The damage caused by vaccine exposure is massive. It’s bigger than asbestos, bigger than tobacco, bigger than anything you’ve ever seen.” (The Rolling Stone article focuses on thimerosal, alleged to cause autism in a study by one Andrew Wakefield retracted for fraud.) And don’t gish gallop me on this. NOTE * One of the savage ironies here, of course, is that the actions of both our public health authorities and Big Pharma on Covid vaccines were so egregious as to throw gasoline on the anti-vax fire. We mandated what we should not have (vaccines) and did not mandate what we should have (non-pharmaceutical interventions).

Republican Funhouse

“House Republicans embark on a mission: Avenge Trump” [NBC]. “House Republicans are using the powers of their majority to carry out Donald Trump’s quest for retribution against his political adversaries, bolstering the indicted former president’s 2024 campaign message that he is the victim of a wide-ranging conspiracy by ‘villains’ who must be brought down. The battle to avenge Trump began on the first day of the new Congress, and it has grown nearly six months into the GOP majority, led by Trump’s staunchest allies in the conference and usually getting a helping hand from Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. They’re fighting to ‘expunge’ his impeachments. They’ve punished his most outspoken Democratic critics. They’re investigating law enforcement entities that charged Trump. They crafted a ‘weaponization’ panel that channels his grievances. Swing-district Republicans are in a bind between the wishes of their pro-Trump GOP base and Trump-skeptical independents.” And: “In the latest move to prop up Trump, key Republicans are pushing to expunge his two impeachments — one in 2019 for abuse of power by pressuring Ukraine’s president to investigate his campaign rival Joe Biden and one in 2021 for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection. The resolutions, which could pass with a majority vote in the House, would amount to a symbolic pro-Trump vote without legal or practical impact. Trump was acquitted both times because of insufficient Senate Republican votes to convict.” • “Expunge” sounds like a word some consultant made up…

2020 Post Mortem

“Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss was an inside job” [NY Post]. “Score half a point for Donald Trump. It turns out he was on to something with his claim the 2020 election was rigged, though not in the way he thinks. The dirty deed didn’t happen in offices in Arizona or Georgia, where Republicans supposedly were banished while Democrats counted duffel bags full of late-arriving votes. Nor did Trump lose because computers were wired to rob him of victory. Instead, the cheating that likely denied Trump a second term was very close to home. In fact, it was an inside job. There are numerous bombshells in the congressional testimony of two IRS whistleblowers, but the most significant is that members of Trump’s Department of Justice helped to tip the 2020 election to his opponent by slow-walking the investigation into Hunter Biden. The interference with the probe began as soon as it looked like Joe Biden was going to win the Democrats’ nomination. That’s the allegation made by supervising agent Gary Shapley, who detailed steps he and other IRS investigators wanted to take to gather evidence against Hunter for massive tax fraud and other crimes. They planned to execute search warrants in New York, California, Arkansas and Washington, DC. Shapley said he and other IRS investigators wanted to take to gather evidence against Hunter for massive tax fraud and other crimes. They also wanted to search Joe Biden’s Delaware guest house because Hunter spent a lot of time there. The probers laid out their plan in a probable cause memo, but it was inexplicably rejected by DOJ lawyers. ‘After former Vice President Joseph Biden became the presumptive Democratic nominee for president in early April 2020, career DOJ officials dragged their feet on the IRS taking these investigative steps,’ Shapley testified. ‘By June 2020, those same career officials were already delaying overt investigative actions.’ Noting that the rejections came long before the probes ran afoul of the Justice Department’s rule to ‘stand down’ on political cases within 60 or 90 days of an election, Shapley said bluntly: ‘It was apparent that DOJ was purposely slow-walking investigative actions in this matter.'” • The whole Hunter Biden’s laptop imbroglio, along with the letter from 50 former (lol) intelligence operatives “baselessly,” as the word is, claiming the laptop was a Russian plant, along with the media suppression, very much in evidence in The Twitter files, was there for anyone to see during the election itself. I will never understand why Trump didn’t make a frontal assault on his real enemies during the election, instead of going the election theft route after the event. Perhaps the spook involvement scared him off, which doesn’t bode well for a second Trump administration.

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.

* * *

“Candidate Says Mississippi Democratic Party Chair ‘Undermined Democracy,’ Should Be Replaced” [Mississippi Free Press]. “The report says the 77-year-old party chair sent a reply that included [Mississippi Democratic Party State Executive Director Andre Wagner] and the DNC officials in which he harshly criticized the state executive director. ‘Mr. Wagner, you do not speak for the chair, and you are out of order,’ Mississippi Today reported [Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Tyree Irving] as saying. “I am an accomplished jurist. I know and understand things that you cannot know or understand because: you do not have the education level, you do not possess the personal or vicarious experience that I have, and you know nothing about the historical political landscape of Mississippi. You are not in a position to speak for the Mississippi Democratic Party or say how the Mississippi Democratic Party will spend any funds without being granted that authority to speak, and it has not been granted to you. You are a salaried employee and nothing else. You need to find your place and stay in it.'” • Dear me!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“One of the Most Effective Political Fundraising Pitches Is Actually a Scam” [Politico]. “Have you received an email or text message from a politician promising that your contribution will be matched 2x, 10x or have a 1,500 percent impact? If you’ve contributed to a candidate recently, you’re likely on donor lists that result in a constant bombardment of email and text message solicitations featuring some variation of these claims…. With millions of match solicitations hitting inboxes daily, have you ever wondered who’s matching your contribution? In virtually every case, nobody is. It’s a scam…. [M]ost everyone is doing it. Democrats and Republicans, state and federal candidates, campaigns and committees, are all getting in on the scam, enabled by fundraising vendors who privately acknowledge the seediness of it all. Campaigns are so addicted to the tactic that some demand vendors employ it or else.” • Examples:

Looks like the stuff Mothership does for Democrats….


“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); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data). NEWInfection Control, Emergency Management, Safety, and General Thoughts” (especially on hospitalization by city).

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort.

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 (9), 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!

* * *

Look for the Helpers

I admire people who can help out like this so much:

And the moral:

Celebrity Watch

“Madonna Found Unresponsive, Rushed To NYC ICU: Manager, Report” [Upper East Side Patch]. “The famed singer developed a serious bacterial infection and will spend several days in an ICU, her manager wrote on Instagram.”

Immune System Dysregulation?

“When COVID meets Candida: exploring the alarming surge of C. auris in Israel” [News Medical Life Sciences]. “C. auris incidence in 2021-22 corresponded with the surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. Surges in C. auris cases occurred in January-March 2021, June-November 2021, and January-May 2022, synchronous with the Alpha, Delta, and Omicron waves, respectively.”

“Stomach Virus Spreads Through Cruise Ships at Fastest Pace in Years” [Wall Street Journal]. • ‘Tis a mystery!

“Lab workers, monkeys test positive for tuberculosis at Norton Shores biomedical research facility” [WZZM]. • ‘Tis a mystery!

“Why tuberculosis cases have risen in recent years after decades of decline” [NBC]. • ‘Tis a mystery!

“Tuberculosis rising after pandemic-era decline; NY caseload 40% higher than national rate” [Gothamist]. • ‘Tis a mystery!


“COVITRAP Anti Covid Nasal Spray 150 Sprays” [DrewInSeAsia Shop]. “COVITRAP Anti Covid Nasal Spray 150 Sprays.” • Pricey, at $25.00 a pop. I can’t recommend this vendor, except to say that the site seems to have improved from the last time I visited. Still waiting for approval in, say, Israel (I checked the Enovid vendor, but no joy).

Science Is Popping

“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.

* * *

“Long-term effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection on human brain and memory” [Nature]. From the Abstract: “This review mainly provides the molecular foundations for understanding the mechanism of SARS-CoV-2 invading human brain and the molecular basis of SARS-CoV-2 infection interfering with human brain and memory, which are associated with the immune dysfunction, syncytia-induced cell death, the persistence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, microclots and biopsychosocial aspects.” • Handy chart:

* * *

Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data from June 26:

For now, I’m going to use this national wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical case data portion of this chart, which in my view “goes bad” after March 2022, for reasons as yet unexplained). At least we can spot trends, and compare current levels to equivalent past levels.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, June 24:

Lambert here: Not sure what to make of this. I’m used to seeing a new variant take down the previously dominant variant. Here it looks like we have a “tag team,” all working together to cut XBB.1.5 down to size. 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

From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from June 24:

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 From Walgreens, June 26:

-1.5%. Still chugging along, though the absolute numbers are still very small relative to June 2022, say.

From CDC June 5:

Lambert here: This is the CDC’s “Traveler-Based Genomic Surveillance” data. They say “maps,” but I don’t see one….


Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, June 28:

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: 1,168,100 – 1,167,832 = 268 (268 * 365 = 97,820 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).

• “CNN analyst slammed after writing COVID deaths are being overcounted: ‘TWO AND A HALF YEARS LATE” [New York Post] “[Leanna] Wen, who writes an occasional Washington Post column providing her observations on the pandemic, masking and other COVID-related subjects, cited sources claiming that most ‘patients diagnosed with COVID are actually in the hospital for some other illness.’ The article is titled, ‘We are overcounting COVID deaths and hospitalizations. That’s a problem.’ … Wen began her column with some apparent skepticism about the CDC’s latest COVID-19 death stats: ‘According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States is experiencing around 400 COVID deaths every day. At that rate, there would be nearly 150,000 deaths a year. But are these Americans dying from COVID or with COVID?’ The doctor claimed that ‘Understanding this distinction is crucial to putting the continuing toll of the coronavirus into perspective. Determining how likely it is an infection will result in hospitalization or death helps people weigh their own risk.'” • Well, that doesn’t help my personal risk assessment for vascular disease, brain damage, Long Covid, or any disease resulting from immune dysregulation, all of which would be classified as “with” and not “from.” However, I commend Wen for her commitment to the minimizing bit, ka-ching. Meanwhile:

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED Excess deaths (The Economist), published June 28:

Lambert here: Still some encouragement! Not sure why this was updated so rapidly; it used to take weeks. The little blip upward? Based on a machine-learning model. (The CDC has an excess estimate too, but since it ran forever with a massive typo in the Legend, I figured nobody was really looking at it, so I got rid it. )

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell by 26,000 from the prior week’s 20-month high to 239,000 on the week ending June 24th, the sharpest drop since October 2021 and below market estimates of 265,000. The results somewhat extended the period of labor-market resilience to higher borrowing costs from the Federal Reserve, easing recent concerns of a marked softening.”

GDP: “United States GDP Growth Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The US economy grew by an annualized 2% on quarter in Q1 2023, well above 1.3% in the second estimate, and forecasts of 1.4%. Consumer spending growth accelerated more than expected to 4.2%, the strongest in nearly two years (vs 3.8% in the second estimate) despite stubbornly high inflation. Spending on durable goods surged 16.3% and services rose 3.2%.”

* * *

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 79 Extreme Greed (previous close: 77 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 75 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 29 at 1:45 PM ET.

The 420

“Bird That Can Read Everyone’s Thoughts Welcomed As Keynote Speaker Of Psychedelics Conference” [The Onion]. • Sounds like the “iridescent magpie” needs to be my next bird….

Guillotine Watch

“Women Interviewing for Bill Gates’s Private Office Were Asked Sexually Explicit Questions” [Wall Street Journal]. • How… Epstein-esque.

News of the Wired

Paying it forward or perhaps simple neighborliness:

* * *

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. From CH:

CH writes: “Particularly appreciate the ‘No more May’ link and succinct commentary. Attached is my extended version ‘no mow springtime’ with some crimson and purple clover in bloom. Urban Durham, central NC.”

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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. griffen

      X Files territory? Unexplained missing persons, Unexplained “visitations” and “floating satellites” with otherworldly sentient creatures??

      Like Fox, I wish to believe. And that Cigarette Smoking Man was real as well.

  1. LadyXoc

    DeSantis Humor: The guys at Chapo asked if anyone had ever heard DeSantis’ voice a couple of months ago, then played a clip. The voice! And Felix now likes to chime in at random moments with DeSantis’ “It’s sugar, man!”, proclaimed in a high whiny voice. AFAIC, he’s toast.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Don’t give too much credit to people’s voices. If somebody read the Gettysburg Address to you with a Pee-wee Herman voice, would it make it any less true?

  2. Raymond Sim

    Wen is apparently herself recuperating nicely after being hospitalized for pneumonia, as one is from time to time.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i took mom…as isolated a woman as one can be in amurka…to her doctor, 50 miles away, yesterday.
      she’s 81…and, for me,at that age, shortness of breath, etc is pretty much expected, after all(especially with the unusual for us wet extreme heat of late)…but they said pneumonia….after coming out in a moon suit to test for both covid and pneumonia…but then demurring, because symptoms had been evident for a week before we came(?)
      no chest xray…no blood test(because she has panic attacks every time they draw blood, and vomits and is like a rag, afterwards. ug.).
      so i guess based on crackles and rales.
      whatever(worst patient ever!)
      so based solely on, i assume, whatever breath sounds her doctor heard, pneumonia in the elderly in texas in might near july is a thing, now.

      1. Raymond Sim

        Best wishes to your mom. Having had a couple episodes of inability to breathe over the years, I couldn’t wish it on anyone, not even the likes of Leana Wen.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Best wishes to your mother here too but pneumonia in the elderly in Texas near July? Isn’t there a ferocious heatwave on there at the moment?

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          and very frelling humid until a couple of days ago.
          prior to that, it felt like Moss Bluff Louisiana…”africa hot”.
          Ambrit will know of what i speak…thick air…
          now its our usual dry heat…and a mere 99 for the high.
          this is my favorite kind of weather.
          because it doesnt hurt, and i’m apparently built for it, somehow.

          1. ambrit

            Oh yes, I do understand. Just across the border from Alabama, here in Mississippi, we have the sweltering town of Moss Point, over north of Pascagoula. Just far enough inland to not get much in the way of the ocean breezes, but close enough to the water to get some serious “fricasseeing weather.”
            Right now, we are running just shy of 100 F with very high humidity. The Heat Indices are running at or above 110 F.
            There are perfectly good reasons why the old slavedriver’s threat to “Sell you South” was a serious threat. That often was a death sentence. The experience in the Caribbean and South America on the plantations was that the enslaved field workers had a horribly high death rate.
            Do keep an eye on Mom. She will need extra care while she fights off the infection. If the Medicos have given her a script for antibiotics, do work at replenishing her gut biota.
            As for the simplified testing regime, I too have a Medica who checks for pneumonia via the stethoscope.
            I remember reading years ago about a teaching Doctor somewhere in Boston who was notorious for emphasizing diagnosis using just the stethoscope. He claimed that many of the tests used by commercial medicine were not strictly necessary.
            Good luck to Mom.

              1. ambrit

                Pascagoula is also the home to a Naval shipyard, so add ringing a ship’s bell to the list.
                It is also the site of a famous UFO close encounter case. I once worked for the nephew of one of the men involved. He said that his Uncle did not have the imagination to make such a story up.
                See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascagoula_Abduction

            1. Grateful Dude

              that’s what happened to Nat Turner. His Massa promised him he’d free him and then sold him into the cotton belt.

              We know the rest of the tale.

    2. Jason Boxman

      It gladdens my heart to see that; Occasionally, just occasionally, bad people get what they deserve.

      1. kareninca

        The problem is that now we have to worry about 40 year olds getting pneumonia. I am in my late 50s and I have never known someone in their 40s to be hospitalized with pneumonia. Just older people. I’m not saying it never happened, but I never knew a case of it. It doesn’t bode well.

        1. JBird4049

          Pneumonia does happen to younger people. I had it in my thirties and I should have been hospitalized, but I had the usual barebones healthcare given to retail workers. It took at least a month to recover even though the actual infection was only about two weeks as it took everything I had to survive.

          Still, an awful lot of people are getting sick.

        2. ambrit

          I’m like JBird4049, (4049?) could he be another John Titor? Anyway, I had pneumonia in my middle thirties also. I am told that you never fully ‘clear’ the pneumonia bacterium, so, extra care is indicated for the rest of your life. (My Medica, knowing that I had pneumonia, always checks my lungs with the stethoscope when I go in for the semi-annual check up.)
          Moral of story: Be very careful around infected people, especially now that the Coronavirus is being shown to act as a “force multiplier” for pathogens through immune dysregulation.
          Stay extra safe.

          1. JBird4049

            I ain’t a time traveler. Just an identity I had years ago, and I had the numbers because it differentiated me from the some other JBirds, and I am now know by it. Why change?

  3. Marymounter

    Still no ‘Ukraine fatigue’ in sight

    Assume $150,000,000,000 in Ukraine costs by election, divided to 93 million voters = $1,500+ per voter’s tax dollars going to Ukraine.

    Your children’s organs flashing to steam in a nuclear bomb blast…priceless.

    1. Carolinian

      If you make the lie big enough people will believe it. I’m sure 95 percent of the American public have no idea what’s really going on in Ukraine and why should they? In any normal world America has nothing to do with Ukraine. This may be the reason the elites love foreign policy. Unless the body bags come flowing back or the economy collapses then they are only talking to each other. Of course that latter result is more than possible–hopefully not the former.

      We had an antiwar movement at one point but it was made up of people who could still remember the body bags. The problem for Biden and his Blob is that taking on Russia is not the same as winning in Grenada. They foolishly picked the wrong fight and this time the blowback may be fierce.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        here in red/reddish rural central texas, nobody talks about that war….and admittedly, i really dont leave the farm, that much,lol.
        but still…when i do, my large, dumbo ears are on full alert…sweeping it all up…related and not…
        and nothing.
        i’m far too distracted and lazy today to look into their methodology…let alone their sample size.
        i’d betcha a beer that the latter is quite small.
        (they didn’t call me, fer sure,lol)

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          oh, there it is, in the text:
          “The online Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted nationwide, collecting responses from 1,004 adults, including 400 Democrats and 383 Republicans. It had a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of about 4 percentage points in either direction.”

          in a purported “representative democracy”,lol.
          of 300,000,000 +.
          a lil over a thousand people were asked the question that led to this self-licking.
          i say, put it to a vote…of all of us.(surely the tech is available)
          then we can talk.

          1. Hepativore

            Whatever happened to the anti-war sentiment that used to be coming from some parts on the political right, decades ago? From what I understand, the “Rockefeller” Republican politicians and many of their voter base often used to object to the idea of wasting time, money, and lives on pointless entanglements for no benefit to America’s interests.

            You hear some antiwar grumblings from conservative voters here and there in regards to the Ukraine situation, but Republican politicians are only bringing up their objections to the US support of Ukraine as a means to beat Biden and the rest of the Democratic Party over the head with.

            I have no doubt that the US would continue the escalation even if the Republicans were in power again, with the possible exception of Trump.

            1. The Rev Kev

              It’s not just anti-war sentiment but also the Left which has become an endangered species. And it should be noted that the Left held anti-war sentiments as a matter of conviction. The boys at The Duran were noting countries like Greece and Germany where the Left have virtually disappeared. And as a consequence, so has anti-war sentiment.

              1. Michael Fiorillo

                Why have a Left, i.e. a movement that seeks to educate, organize and mobilize the working class, when you can argue over how many 2SLBTGQABZ+ people can dance on the head of a pin?

                1. Amfortas the hippie

                  as far as i can tell, I AM the LEFT…at least out here.
                  theres noone else.

                  1. ambrit

                    Insofar as I am to the Left of the generality here in South Mississippi, I qualify, sort of. Put me up against an old line Trot, or a full on Stalinist and I’m sure to come off looking like an effete Fabian Socialist.

            2. Amfortas the hippie

              the empire wants it, so even trump will be brought to heel.
              this has become an existential conflict…undeclared, of course…for the american empire…the existance of which is also undeclared, if not denied outright.
              none of the right…or apolitical leans right …i know regards us as an empire.
              we’re still bringing democracy to the world, one wog at a time…as it should be.
              genpop are generally offended that i refer to USA! as an empire.
              one must build up to such an obvious statement with a long list of war crimes and cia ops.
              then maybe.
              50 year mindfu*k worked like a charm.
              i overhear some of my less enlightened neighbors in the beer store referring to “ChiComs”, of all things…and for the last year, at least.
              ignorance is a strategic asset

              1. Carolinian

                It’s just possible that the Ukraine mess and collapse will be where the Empire finally “jumps the shark.” Of course Vietnam was that for awhile and then wasn’t. But the WW2 generation of Reagan and Bush 1, who drove the MIC comeback, are mostly all gone. So maybe peace finally will get a chance.

                While I’m always pushing the monkey instincts view of humanity around here I do believe our big brains are capable of doing better but only if forced by circumstances. Circumstances are knocking. AGW and all the rest need world wide cooperation, solutions.

                1. Amfortas the hippie

                  it aint 1973.
                  we havent the resource base, nor the manufacturing base…and would hafta import chinese engineers to build the frelling plants to make just about everything.
                  we’re frelled.
                  our elites have frelled us.
                  as ive been yelling for going on 40 years.
                  it was easy enough to see for a precocious 18 year old, back then.
                  (HT Ross Perot’ late nite infomercials)

                  1. ambrit

                    I remember Ross Perot and his “infomercials.” I voted for him just because.
                    When Randy Bill Clinton said that he “didn’t inhale” at university, I knew him for the weasel he was and still is. Bush Sr. was always a questionable character. Even back then he had a whiff of “Deep State” about him.
                    Perot was the perfect alternative candidate, warts and all. I remember his charts.
                    Given how close Perot came to winning, (almost 20% of the vote in a three way race, even with the questionable tactics used against him,) the Establishment seems to have learned the lesson and has never trusted nor failed to avail itself of the opportunity to kneecap the Public.
                    As Princess Leia says: “Help me Obi Ross. You are our only hope.” Alas, in that timeline, the Empire won.

                    1. Amfortas the hippie

                      again, it is written near to my stump/barstool:
                      “dont blame me, i voted for Perot…twice!”|

                2. Hepativore

                  Our ape instincts are what have gotten us into various messes we have found ourselves in throughout our history.

                  Chimpanzees, which are our closest relatives are very territorial and hierarchical animals which frequently go on lethal raids against rival troupes of chimps and are constantly plotting to overthrow the leader within their own troupe.

                  The problem is that it is hard to overcome what has been hardwired into our brains by millions of years of evolution as these survival strategies that were once useful to our ape ancestors are ill-suited for modern times, but as evolution moves very slowly, we are still stuck with them.

                  The ironic thing is that the more peaceful bonobo had split off from the chimpanzee lineage after hominids already did, so this is why we share more of our behavioral tendencies with the much more violent chimpanzees.

                  1. Acacia

                    Indeed, as satirized in Will Self’s Great Apes.

                    Planet of the Apes meets Nineteen Eighty-Four.”

  4. Donald

    I think the majority of Americans support aid to Ukraine because no American troops are deployed ( at least not officially) and the war is portrayed as pure good vs pure evil across nearly the entire spectrum, plus good old fashioned McCarthyism ( beloved by both parties so long as it isn’t aimed at them) is used to shut down even mild objections to the mainstream narrative.

    In general, US foreign policy is always run according to the wishes of the Blob, except when they make the mistake of committing large numbers of US troops in a situation where tens of thousands will be killed or seriously injured.

    1. Carla

      Millions of Ukrainian deaths (or Iraqi or Vietnamese or Russian) being of no consequence to a people who complacently dwell in the land of freedumb.

    2. Janie

      Nobody I know is paying sny attention to the war. I was at a party a couple of weeks ago when Ukraine was mentioned tangentially, not even related to the war, but to, I think, a recipe. A well-educated professional woman half heard and said, with a puzzled look, “Ukraine is still winning, right?” Nobody answered, and I certainly didn’t want to start a discussion at a party.

  5. Dugless

    “President Biden and the bipartisan coalition in favor of aid to Ukraine have little to fear politically for doing the right thing here.” The democrats are clearly the war party now. Guess they have given up on universal healthcare.

    1. griffen

      No defense contractor left behind! As Megadeth once eloquently submitted, “Peace Sells but Who’s Buying.”

      1. John

        Ukraine is the proxy, actually the patsy, for the US war on Russia. It will go on because Biden, the neocons, the sheeple in Congress feel that admitting the entire project was a colossal blunder might wound re-election prospects, not to mention tender fifies. Biden probably cannot afford to admit that his Ukraine Project was and is an asinine venture and his outriders, Blinken and Nuland, like all good little neocons only follow failure by doubling down. The enormous numbers of dead and wounded Ukrainians is, to them, of no consequence.

        1. Janie

          Larry johnson posted a video of wounded Ukrainians. I couldn’t watch it all, but maybe it should be mandatory for the war hawks.

  6. MaryLand

    Possibly helpful to estimate Covid prevalence in your area:


    Plug in your state in the Local Prevalence section and a map comes up showing which areas of your state have the most Covid cases. Also works for flu, RSV, and ILI (I think this stands for influenza like illness—not sure why its separate from flu.)

    1. Lee

      According to the map, the SF east bay where I live is a hotspot: 23 people within a 5 minute walk have Covid. Now that I’m a codger, walking is my principal form of exercise. So, if I walk an hour a day, there will be 276 infected people within by daily ambit, and more if my route takes me past the local hospital, and even more if one could include the asymptomatic and/or untested. It’s a jungle out there.

      1. MaryLand

        You may decide to wear a mask during those walks!

        Also thinking about the ILI—perhaps that’s separated in case it includes some Covid cases that have not been designated as such. RSV seems to have increased a lot among people who have had Covid previously.

        Yep, it’s a jungle out there.

  7. Angie Neer

    “Matching” contribution scams: many years ago a local radio station I supported at a modest level (like maybe $75/year) asked if they could list me as a “matching” contributor. It seems some galaxy-brain in their sales, er, “development” office hatched a plan to imply that my donation, and those of others like me, were contingent on new donors signing on. Which was a lie. Fortunately that idea did not last long and I haven’t seen it perpetrated since then. I’m still a low-level supporter of multiple local radio stations, but not that one.

    1. doug

      I called in a slow public radio fund raiser for a show I like a lot. Then, for the next while, my donation was described in many ways to make it sound like it was from different people. I did not mind. I was laughing pretty hard at the 3rd or 4th? description eg: gentleman from x county, a man from x city, someone nearby, an admirer who listens every weekend, etc.
      The DJ kept it up til someone else called in. I thought he was clever.

  8. some guy

    Part of what Trump is supposed to have learned about living life from his mentor and spiritual adviser Roy Cohn is that you flood the zone with lawsuits in order to resolve any difficulty or alleviate any inconvenience.
    Trump’s Cohnian imperative in this regard is what gets the Trump subsection flooded with lawsuits.

    His lawfare targets would have to respond with counter-countersuits for frivolous and malicious lawsuit if they want to get any relief. And there would need to be a whole informal national-fundraising effort to support the cost of all the counter-countersuits which Trump’s targets would have to counterlaunch to “carry the law-battle to the heart of the enemy”.

  9. LawnDart

    (Almost) Daily Derailment(s):

    Setting the standard for First-World/developed-nation infrastructure, Amtrack leads the way– from yesterday (but pics!):

    Amtrak Derailment Video Shows ‘Severe Damage’ Caused by California Crash

    Avideo from the site of a train crash in Moorpark, California, shows passengers stranded after being evacuated from the derailed carriages, following a collision with a water truck that was obstructing the tracks on Wednesday.

    According to officials, a total of 15 people were injured, including the driver of the water truck, as reported by ABC 7. None of the passengers reported a serious injury, but a couple were reportedly taken to the hospital after one of them suffered an arm injury.

    The truck driver was in a critical condition on Wednesday evening, according to officials, the Los Angeles Times reported.


    Investigating cause of Iowa train derailment

    CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – Officials in Iowa are investigating what caused a train derailment this week.

    It happened on Tuesday near {nay-hant} Nahant Marsh – near the Mississippi River and Credit Island.

    21 cars went off the tracks.

    This is video from the scene.

    You can see what looks like some of those cars going into the water…


      1. LawnDart

        I thought I got put into mod for “but pics!” which I could see Skynet interpreting as… …something else.

        The train-stuff to me acts as a pretty good barometer of our overall state-of-affairs, be it privatization, regulatory-capture, entropy, labor/management relations, public-health, generalized decay, and so much more. It’s something that we are totally reliant upon, but have chosen to willfully ignore– it’s one of the basic foundations of our economy and overall well-being: if the.trains don’t run, we’re fvcked.

        1. The Rev Kev

          That’s not a bad idea that. Not a bad idea at all. An analogue of the state of vital transport that cannot be fudged like other indicators can be. Kudos.

        2. Screwball

          The canary in the coal mine.

          And when you think about it, rail is one of the most efficient means to move the goods our world depends on. A wheel with a radius rolling on a rail with a radius – contact area about the size of a dime, or something close – one of the greatest inventions and resulting engineering feats in history (especially given the times). Now we are doing our best to screw it all up.

          Well said, and thanks again LawnDart

  10. Amfortas the hippie

    Mods, please pardon my french in this little postcard from the wilderness.


    5 years ago right about now, Wife and the boys and I helped my dad move his rv to matagorda from clear lake.

    All day deal…on top of the 6 hour trip to clear lake the day before.
    Finally got the thing parked and hooked up around 6pmlima…dad and boys sat around for a bit, then left.
    I discovered quite a bit of heinekin, in cans…and a couple of bottles of wine, as well as a bit of vodka and rum.
    So Wife and I got drunk.
    The rv happened to be situated on the northern edge of the state run rv park, and the right side…to the north…happened to be in shadow from the streetlights.
    This is where the concrete slab and concrete picnic table was…as well as the all but useless kind of grill they put at those things.
    The shadow and isolation ended up being important, after dark…because it shielded us from view of everybody else…which was a good thing…because we were soon naked and having raucus public sex on that concrete table.
    We got thoroughly shitfaced and raunchy, till the wee hours…donning minimal clothing to stagger down to the beach in the dark and strip down and swim under the rising moon…screwing in the wavelets…and so on.
    Next morning…hungover as hell…we called it our Second Honeymoon.
    She was complaining of pain at her tailbone, where she’d had an injury decades ago.
    We wrote it off to the concrete table and the f&cking.
    Occam’s razor.
    Matagorda is the edge of the world, mind you…the developers havent discovered it…and the tourists are generally hard core fishermen and wastrels like us…and the natives consist of 3-4 old settler families…who run cattle and dominate the shrimping and real estate…and a bunch of…wastrels…
    people who have disappeared down there, for whatever reason.
    Burned brown and desiccated like driftwood, they drink and party and fish and shrimp and scratch out an existence, forgotten by the world.
    bout as far from high class touristy as one can get.
    Cutoffs are dinnerwear…as are bikinis and other varieties of swimwear.
    So I went sans hat…let my hair and freakflag fly and wore nothing but daisy dukes.
    Wife did similarly, but a bit more modestly.
    So after we had obtained a passable late breakfast…we stopped and got more beer and winecoolers, and ice…and bait shrimp for dinner(huge almost prawns)…and bit the dawg that had bitten us….and went to the beach.
    Parked well away from others and entered the surf.
    We stuck close together…..and this is the point of telling this tale….because I…holding her hand as she was swept away from me by a crashing breaker…then pulling her back to me…felt uncannily protective of her, in that moment.
    I remember it like it was today.
    I felt compelled to protect her…keep her from harm…and here we were in the riotous surf(for texas, at least)…venturing out to the third sand bar(maybe 100 yards from shore, generally…all along the gulf coast)
    that compulsion to protect her…and how strong and suddenly and unlooked for it was…has stayed with me.
    Because we left real early the next day…i was trying to avoid houston traffic, so it couldnt have been sunday(that morning is when we heard about AOC winning her election…im just lazy and havent looked up the exact date…june of 2018 works for me)…and she was having real issues with what we thought, still, was her tailbone.
    Went to clear lake, collected the boys and left without ceremony…5-6 hours to get home to the hill country.
    I hurt like hell…my joints and bones are averse to long trips…and this had been a whirlwind thousand miles.
    Wife, however, felt just like me….it was new.
    Still blamed it on the concrete table…and the fucking.
    Went to our doctor as soon as we were able.
    He agreed that occams razor and tailbone and rough sex on concrete was most likely…no xrays, because no insurance.
    But then…at 3am on the morning of 9-11-2018….Wife awoke me in great pain….and we went the 50 miles to the nearest real ER…and I looked over the doctor’s shoulder as the ct scan rendered, and saw the giant tumor…basketball taking up much of her belly…and knew.
    Two weeks short of a full four years since our Second Honeymoon, she died in my mom’s front room….all in attendance who matter.

    So I did all my work in the date night g-string, today…and am now drinking heinekin in a can.
    Went down to the little graveyard earlier….brought flowers I picked…and smoked a bowl with my Wife…listened to the japanese scaled windchime she had picked out on one of our brief escapes from the confinement of Hospice.
    And thought about those two and a half days at Matagorda, Texas.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        thanks, man.
        y’all are my socmed…and my society, really.
        i hafta give a class IRL if i speak the way i type on NC.
        nobody’s read anything, it seems.
        and i reckon that y’all were there throughout our cancer experience, and are thus a little bit involved.
        and maybe its good ‘content’, too,lol.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          related, perhaps…
          someone gave me the cassette of the first pearl jam album when i was laid up in the bed, after my wreck…december, 89.
          this song was instrumental in my learning to walk the second time(out of 3)…as well as dealing with all the pain.

          that it enters my head now….
          as it entered my head in the days before she died…..

          1. ddt

            Thank you Amfortas. That was moving. Lost my wife to brain C after a 6 year battle back in 17 and your exploits hit a nerve. May you live long to remember her.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              i grieve right there with you, DDT.
              it doesnt go away.
              …that giant fucking hole…

              1. ambrit

                It’s a sign of your commitment to her. It’s an honourable pain. Makes me appreciate more the so far positive outcome of Phyl’s cancer.
                Stay safe and be at peace.

    1. griffen

      It’s 5pm somewhere now, so I’ll make a proper salute to the above quite soon. Damn cancer.

    2. Bob Tetrault

      Thanks for the story, Ath. Dawg Bless your memories. That was as good as it gets.

    3. The Rev Kev

      God, what a story. Thanks for sharing your life with your wife (wife must be peeling onions nearby).

    4. ForFawkesSakes

      What a real and beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing. I wish I could hug your neck right now, bud.

    5. Lee

      Beautiful, Henry Miller couldn’t have said it better. I do hope you take that as a compliment.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          “I’m coming over
          See me down at the station by the lane
          With my hands in my pocket
          Jingling a wish coin
          That I stole from a fountain
          That was drownin’ all the cares in the whole world”

          all and sundry out here, at the Wilderness bar, love the whole album.

    6. LaRuse

      Amfortas, thank you for sharing this. If I still drank alcohol, I would raise a glass to you and your Beloved tonight. As it is, I am sipping my decaf and thinking kind thoughts for you.

    7. John Beech

      Oh God the pain is still raw, Amfortas, I can sense it. I remember like yesterday when you let us know she was gone. Me? Married 45 years to my best friend, so I have a sense of how it must be without ever experiencing such a horrible loss. Glad to hear you visited her grave and burned a bowl together, nice.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        thanks, John.
        her grave is in our little cemetery, down there under the oak grove, near the cattleguard.
        so i can go there whenever, in whatever state of undress or inebriation.
        dead end dirt road, and all.
        the point, i think…is that “our leaders” are totally divorced…walled off…from the goings on way down here.
        those f*ckers dont even see us!
        we should at the very least make them see us.
        make them feel us.

        but that would take a sort of class consciousness that we are currently incapable of….given the wall to wall divisionary mindf&ck.
        we are not a rational people, sadly.
        despite my best efforts

    8. Rolf

      Thank you for sharing this, Amfortas, it is deeply moving.

      I always look forward to your lyrical passages — like reading Mark Twain, which I hope you’ll take as a compliment — it’s certainly meant as one. Take care.

  11. Raymond Sim

    Checked the SCAN wastewater site. There do seem to be a lot of treatment facilities registering marked increases.

    They include Sacramento, which I’ve come to regard as a pretty good proxy for regional trends. UCD experienced quite a spike in June. I guess you can bring Corsi to the Aggies, but you can’t make them think.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      The police killed a 17 yr old, so the people are peeved. Macron is just a prettier face to right wing politics.

  12. tevhatch

    Jacob Dreizen (Your “Great Reset” HQ) recently posted about a surge in Bird Flu in Poland. I would not be surprised if COVID-19 damage makes it easier for Bird Flu to find bridging hosts, as it is known to infect cows, pigs, and other animals. I don’t think they are close enough to allow for comingling of the virus messengers into one strand, but I could be wrong.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      pigs are virus mixing bags.
      just sayin.
      the various influenza we get in the west each year are from the combination of chinese peasant agriculture, pigs and fowl…especially ducks, it seems.(its been many years since i ran all this down, and i have no idea of the state of chinese peasantry, today)
      ducks give some new variation to the pigs,who mix it up with whatever human variant they are carrying, and voila! a new flu.
      this is why we’ve had cdc guys and gals in moon suits all over rural china right about this time of year, doing blood tests and sequencing on pigs, ducks and peasants for decades…so they can determine which strain of flu will be in USA next fall.
      so they have time to get a vax together to target it.
      a remarkable achievement, really.
      and every year.

      1. tevhatch

        Yes, there is some facts in wat you say but I will note the report is these cases arise Poland. So far there no known connection with China, but then there is little information at all, at least in English and publicly available. I will say that Poland is another pork haven.

        If anyone wants to do some conspiratorial dives, then Poland and it’s neighbors house many US Military run bio-warfare labs, which might be a bigger threat than the Wuhan laboratory. Dilyana Gaytandzhieva is a Bulgarian journalist who has made as a significant part of her career investigating of Bioweapon labs in Eastern Europe.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          all that, too.
          my understanding…admittedly quite dated..is that chinese peasants, living like i do, in close quarters with their animals, providing the perfect flu factory…end up inadvertantly mixing and matching various flu strains endemic in the place(?) and in the animals….those 2 specifically…and pigs especially, because pigs are close to human(who knew?), genetically, and for virus’ purposes..pigs=viral retorts.
          black plague, etc…theres some soup over there that makes animal to human more likely….
          the above mentioned yearly activities of WHO regarding flu surveillance are a fact.
          thats how we get the annual flu vax, that works more often than not.

          add in migration…back and forth…to the big cities…and thence to the world at large… and bob’s yer uncle for spreading the latest flu mutation.

          i look forward to the southern…then the entire …usa becoming the new breeding ground for novel pathogens.
          serves us right.

          1. ambrit

            Given the dismal degeneration of America’s “Public Health System,” I am betting on the return of good old fashioned pathogens.
            “If it was good enough to kill off Grandma and Granddad, it’s good enough for me!”

            “Give me that old time infection,”
            “Give me that old time infection,”
            “Give me that old time infection,”
            “It’s good enough for me!”
            Everybody cough along now!

    2. JBird4049

      IIRC, one of the possible, maybe likely paths to AIDS in humans, is that AIDS, which is the disease caused by HIV, comes from a version of the virus living in a monkey that was then eaten by a chimpanzee, which was then eaten by a human. During the process the monkey virus combined with the ape virus, which was able to infect the human.

      Each step is unlikely because viruses tend to be species specific or at least unable to adapt to most hosts, but it does happen with enough opportunities. That a viral infection was able to jump to two new hosts from the original is very, very unlikely, but again, given enough chances, it happened here because of the chaos caused by colonialism.

      It is no surprise that Covid would be able to cause all sorts of havoc given the unserious or incompetent responses to the pandemic by our planetary civilization. A greater spread of viral variants breeding in multiple ill people next to many different animals is really, freaking, fantastic way to create more lethal or damaging diseases.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        just a note:
        white tailed deer, mule deer, etc are “bushmeat”.
        just sayin’…
        we eat a lot of that ourselves, here in the “developed” world.
        and the commercial versions of deer, elk, etc are way totally unregulated.
        again, just sayin.
        Mad Deer Disease started at fort collins, colorado with a captive(high fences) deer and elk herd.
        that was a bioweapon research facility, specialising…IIRC… in weaponising scrapie…which is a prion sheep disease.
        go figger.
        deer and elk got loose…as they should be expected to do…and here we are.
        all deer are suspect, now.
        half-hearted mop up/interdiction by game wardens who are not only overwhelmed with other duties, but unequipped for this newish threat…after horse, as it were, is out of barn, and barn has burned to the ground.
        pro tip: stay away from the spine and you should be fine.
        ie the fave part of the deer…backstrap.
        all told…all the various threads i hold in my brain at one time…and over 30 years…and it starts to look sort of intentional.
        Jackpot is the Plan.

        1. JBird4049

          >>>all told…all the various threads i hold in my brain at one time…and over 30 years…and it starts to look sort of intentional.
          Jackpot is the Plan.

          One would think this wouldn’t they? Personally, I think most of it is just death by stupidity with no real overarching plan except neoliberalism’s because profit and go die.

          Anyways, one of the complaint’s about Africa’s bushmeat trade is the killing of the great apes- bonobos, chimps, and gorillas from that trade. Not only are they close to human, but their are not that many left especially of gorillas.

        2. tevhatch

          The CIA bragged about using bio-weapons to damage East Germany’s Cow Milk industry in the 1960s. It’s possible they were taking credit for a natural event, but who knows for sure. According to https://dilyana.bg/ a lot of the bioweapon research is aimed not a humans, but at damaging the economies of nations and making them dependent/subservient on US Food exports.

  13. ThirtyOne

    Pence on CNN today, channeling Rumsfeld:
    “We don’t know what we don’t know about Russia.”

    how very insightful, mr. presidential candidate.

    1. pjay

      I saw on the news that Pence was in Ukraine. That seems to be an important stop for politicos on the make. Then again, Pence is so charisma-deficient that it is impossible for me to say “Pence” and “on the make” in the same sentence without laughing.

      That Reuter’s poll will encourage most politicians to make Ukraine the next Great Patriotic War, since it is assumed (usually correctly) that you can’t go wrong campaigning on our Wars for Democracy. It will be a test for Trump to resist this pressure; we’ll see if he has any real spine at all on this issue.

  14. Jason Boxman

    I think that chart takes its cue from CDC graphics; I can’t make heads or tails of it!

  15. Felix_47

    Sounds like my academic friends. And they still believe the laptop and 10 percent for the big guy is Russian disinformation. And the whistleblower is a Russian agent. Trump at least is an upraised middle finger. I won’t even tell my wife but he or Cornel has my vote. If Cornel and Trump could combine forces. Trump whose brain is mush can get votes….Cornel could handle policy. Problem is Trump has a case of terminal Dunnung Kruger.

  16. ThirtyOne

    Meanwhile, in France:

    Armchair Warlord
    Imagine the reaction if this was a map of Moscow.

    Meanwhile, looking at the @FoxNews front page – even clicking through to the global section – I can’t find a single story on the deadly, nationwide riots gripping France.

    They’re still talking about Wagner!

  17. Pat

    Not because I think it was some brilliant strategy, but Trump not going after the military and intelligence blog regarding the election might end up helping him wreck revenge on them if he is re-elected.

    Issues with the military, federal law enforcement, and intelligence community has largely been fringe on both the right and left ends of the political structure. The Durham report, the revelations from the Whitmer kidnapping attempt, and yes even how J6 has been investigated and prosecuted has all built a strong foundation of distrust with more mainstream Republicans and independents. The protection for Biden regarding Hunter and the continued revelations from that situation is just cementing that distrust further. I think I see some cracks in Congress on this front although that could be more situational.

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think the usual hand waving, he’s a crank claims will work to bury accusations that the blog is doing X as it would have in 2020. The debunking will be mainstream.

    1. Acacia

      “blog” = the blob?

      Who do you see doing the debunking in mainstream media channels?

      1. Pat


        It will still be a problem.Unfortunately for the main stream media, a sitting President not only has the pulpit, so do his spokesman. And the press will need to give them air time just to keep up the illusion. And the distractions will not be so easily done without the active participation of the government.

        Here’s the rub. Does a re-elected President Trump come in and fire everyone he can? If he is smart he does and has them walked out with their wallets, no security clearance, and a promise that all personal items will be sent to them after making sure everything has no aspect of their job on the day they are fired.

        1. Acacia

          As I see it, yes, the press will give them air time, but how well did that work out between 2016 and 2020?

          I know so many people who just went along with the whole anti-Trump narrative, and they are now deeply freaked out by the possibility of him being re-elected. Even if they hear about all the things that you mention, above, they will conclude: “Good! Anything to stop more mean tweets.”

          I don’t see that there will be debunking, so much as doubling down on “ZOMG, fascism!!”

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