Time for a reckoning: Hold Republicans responsible for their COVID-19 failure — start with Rob Wittman

COVID-19 has now killed over 20,000 Americans.  One of the feckless Republicans responsible for these deaths is GOP Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01).

Back in 2014 during the ebola outbreak, there were ELEVEN cases and TWO deaths in the US.  Yet, Wittman wrote to President Obama demanding a number of quarantine measures.

Today — with over 20,000 dead — Wittman has said NOT A WORD ABOUT TRUMP’S FAILURE.  Instead, Wittman purchased stock in a pharmaceutical company that will benefit from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stafford County, VA, Democrat Qasim Rashid is running to challenge Wittman in November.

Read Rashid’s response and reaction to Wittman’s failure of leadership.

COVID-19 moves into rural areas . . . Trump voters now must decide between voting for Trump or dying

If you’re one of those that thought, “It isn’t fair, Trump’s voters are going to be protected from COVID because they aren’t in the cities,” well, not so much.  The R0 of COVID looks a lot like the R0 of colds and like colds, is spread very easily in the air via talking and breathing.  And since we know colds go everywhere, well, it only seems likely that COVID would too.

And it has started.  This New York Times online article from April 8th has a wonderful graphic at the start that gives written accounts of the spread and then highlights the growth on a map of the US as it the virus spreads week to week.

The article is a frightening read, it tells you how many communities have been hit, and it also discusses the decline in rural hospitals and services, you know, because rural hospitals aren’t profitable.

Rural America is very poorly equipped to handle COVID, they don’t just lack hospitals, they lack ICU units and ventilators.  When they get critical cases, they evac to the city.  And with city hospitals starting to max out, that means they have nowhere to go.  In all likelihood, Trump’s base is going to be harder hit than the rest of us.  And while it might seem easy to gloat, or to crow about just desserts, those folks deserve better and demonstrate why a national health system is essential.  For-profit medicine will never serve rural communities properly.

And for those who are going to post, “Well, this still won’t change their minds.”  I grew up in a small town, and they are indeed smarter than that.  They will come through this mad and wanting a solution.

From Rural America In These Times.  It’s a labor magazine.  And this one focuses on how COVID impacts rural communities in detail.   The salient detail.  Rural folks are old.  Older on average than city folks.  Some 69% are over 65, whereas in the cities, that number is essentially reversed.  Hard times are coming.

A reminder, rural America makes our food.  The immigrants in those communities pick it.  What happens if you disrupt the food chain because you’ve impacted the flow of food by making too many folks sick?

No surprise here: Trump’s “coronavirus task force” in disarray, nothing decided — and it’s all because of Trump

According to an extensive report by the Washington Post, the White House task force charged with stemming the deadly coronavirus pandemic is still struggling to get their arms around how to deal with the crisis and President Donald Trump is not helping matters.

With the report noting that there are multiple groups working on the COVID-19 response — described as a “bureaucratic nesting doll of groups with frequently competing aims and agendas” — the Post notes that the task force is lagging way behind where it should be.

“There is still no concerted plan for getting vital medical supplies to states, which are left to fight among themselves or seek favors from Trump. There is also no developed plan for what happens if cases or deaths spike as people begin to return to work, or how to respond if the coronavirus surges again in the fall, as many public health experts and administration officials fear,” the report states. “Two task force officials said that more important even than nationwide testing is surveillance — using data to make informed decisions about public health. But the administration has not fully grappled with the sheer manpower and resources required for an effort like contact tracing — and right now, there are not even enough coronavirus tests for those who need them, let alone the entire country.”

According to Jack Chow, a former George W. Bush administration official who dealt with the global HIV/AIDS crisis, Trump’s people are unable to get ahead of “the curve.”

“The whole response has been lagging the curve of the epidemic, and what ought to be happening is the designation of key strategic goals, key accomplishments that can happen within a specified timeline,” Chow explained. “It sounds like they’re groping for that. There isn’t any clear direction as to what the strategic goals are in each different line of effort, and what the prospective timeline could be given the assets they have to deploy.”

As the Post reports, “One of the biggest obstacles to the virus response is Trump himself.”

“Even the most dutiful plans and projects often get caught up in the chaos of the White House. Advisers spend significant time trying to manage the president and his whims — from successfully dissuading him from seeking to reopen the country at Easter to tempering his impulse to push unproven drugs as miracle elixirs,” the report continues, before adding that the president reportedly suggested letting the coronavirus “wash over” the country in an effort to develop herd immunity, only to have an “alarmed” Dr. Anthony Fauci tell him, “Mr. President, many people would die.”

The report goes on to note that the task force meetings helmed by Vice President Mike Pence rarely move the ball forward.

“Despite the debates, few actual decisions are made. Instead, Pence tries to reach a consensus and then bring it to the president for approval. Decisions made in the room are often undermined by Trump, and some discussions, such as guidance on wearing masks, stretched on for weeks. Several officials say the meetings are rarely, in the words of one senior administration official who has attended many of them, ‘where the real action happens.’” the Post reports.

You can read more here.

Trump saw coronavirus briefings as a reality show . . . it was real all right though not the way he planned

Around mid-March Donald Trump had a revelation and a conversion. The campaign season as he knew it had been cut short due to the fast-spreading and highly-contagious coronavirus. He would have to cancel his beloved rallies where thousands of his faithful gathered to soak up all the sludge he could dish out from his diseased brain—a rambling stream of falsities, braggadocio, petty slights, and name calling wrapped in rapturous roars of delight.

As glorious as it was, that was over for now. The coronavirus had stolen it from him. Now was the time to re-introduce himself as commander in chief to a people facing an inordinate amount of distress and uncertainty. Trump had initially deputized Vice President Mike Pence in late February to lead the White House’s coronavirus Task Force. “Mike is going to be in charge, and Mike will report back to me,” Trump said on February 26, delegating a responsibility he didn’t find particularly sexy. “He’s got a certain talent for this,” Trump added, ignoring that as governor of Indiana Pence had presided over a public health debacle over the spread of HIV.

But that was then—as in two weeks prior. No one (except everyone with a brain) could have seen it coming, but the facts on the ground concerning coronavirus had changed. After more than a month of trivializing the epidemic and calling it a Democratic “hoax,” it was time for Trump to ride in on his horse, reclaim the spotlight, and project to America a sense that he finally understood the stakes and was taking charge of this dire crisis. And so he did on March 13 in the Rose Garden, declaring a national emergency and rolling out what appeared to be a public-private partnership with giant corporations like Walgreens and Quest Diagnostics that would make drive-thru testing widely available across the country.

On that late Friday afternoon, as Trump called up CEOs to mic, glad-handing them one-by-one, and then tapped one of his top Task Force scientists, Dr. Deborah Birx, to explain the launch of a testing website by Google that didn’t actually exist (a genuine hoax!), the stock market rallied until close, rebounding from its worst day in more than 30 years. Trump was pretty proud of himself. “BIGGEST STOCK MARKET RISE IN HISTORY YESTERDAY!” he tweeted first thing Saturday morning.

Good thing he got that tweet in early. News quickly spread that his new testing website was pure fiction. Worse yet, assurances by Trump and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that any economic pain caused by the coronavirus would be brief hit a snag when the Federal Reserve took the extraordinary step on a Sunday of slashing interest rates to close to zero to stabilize the markets. Fail. On Monday, the markets plummeted immediately at opening, triggering a circuit breaker that forced a 15-minute pause in trading so traders could cool down. By day’s end, the Dow Jones industrial average had plunged by nearly 3,000 points, the worst point drop in history.

Nonetheless, Trump had supposedly turned the corner toward sobriety, pundits said. He was finally taking the epidemic seriously—seriously enough to stage a fake presser and fabricate a fleeting sense of false hope. Hooray for sobriety.

The conversion that Trump had actually made wasn’t one toward understanding the profound magnitude of what the country was facing. Rather it was his realization that the cameras in the briefing room were ripe and ready for his daily appearances, and a nation on edge was both hungry for information and held captive by lockdowns across much of the country. Brilliant! The cameras had been there all along. And now more than ever the public awaited him.

Sure, he had launched the Task Force by declaring the threat almost over, claiming within days the national case count would be “close to zero.” And during a visit to Capitol Hill to huddle with Senate Republicans—mere days before declaring the national emergency—Trump had told Americans to “just stay calm,” assuring them the virus would simply “go away.” But now that the nation was both desperate and rapt, he could utilize the White House briefing room to reinstate the oxygen flow of attention from which he had been so cruelly cut off. All he had to do was feign interest in the national tragedy. So on March 16 Trump rolled out new White House guidelines recommending people avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, including in public spaces such as bars and restaurants. Finally, some bits of truth managed to escape from his mouth. “Each and every one of us has a critical role to play in stopping the spread and transmission of the virus,” Trump said. Wow.

But it was never going to last. Trump has the attention span of a pea and all the seriousness was sure to grow tiresome, especially as Trump’s precious economy plunged into a death spiral. Trump quickly grew antsy and impatient. When reporters asked questions he didn’t like—such as “What do you say to Americans who are scared?”—Trump called reporters “nasty” and “terrible.” Frankly, reality is tedious, even when it’s a matter of life and death. The ubiquitous testing Trump had promised, the dwindling case load, the national triumph he foretold, were all dreadfully out of reach. His past statements and loose association with reality came back to haunt him, producing even more lies. Soon Trump was almost entirely crowding out the actual experts (such as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci) from the podium as he trained his anger on reporters for greater and greater portions of the “briefing.” On Good Friday, Trump served up fully three hours’ worth of drivel. When asked the crucial question of “what metrics” he would use to determine when to ease social distancing guidelines, Trump pointed to his head and said, “The metrics right here. That’s my metrics.”

Whatever goodness might have flowed from the landscape of the Task Force briefings, Trump was bound to turn it into a wasteland. The briefings weren’t the rallies Trump needed them to be, and the national audience tuning in wasn’t there to delight in the dregs of his putrid soul the way his loyal base always was.  As Tom Nichols wrote for The Atlantic Saturday morning, with each briefing, Trump is making us worse people.

In his daily coronavirus briefings, Trump lumbers to the podium and pulls us into his world: detached from reality, unable to feel any emotions but anger and paranoia. Each time we watch, Trump’s spiritual poverty increases our own, because for the duration of these performances, we are forced to live in the same agitated, immediate state that envelops him.

In other words, for any reasonable human being, the briefings are now unwatchable. The dismal polling this week on Trump’s handling of the epidemic rendered an undeniable rebuke of Trump’s briefing performances, which is really the only access the American public has to Trump these days. Though Trump had gotten a brief several-point approval bounce shortly after mid-March when he began his regular briefing attendance, he has now piddled that away, with ratings for his COVID response underwater in nearly every national poll this week. It’s gotten so bad, Republicans are publicly begging Trump to take a seat as Democrats start producing attack ads from the glut of coronavirus blunders Trump has spewed from the briefing podium.

For any other being, it would be rock bottom, but not for Trump. Next week’s a new week and no depth is too low for further excavation.

“Billionaire” Trump pleads with Palm Beach county to give him a break on his rent

President Donald Trump’s family company appears to be attempting to negotiate a rent decrease on the rent paid to a local government in Florida, The Palm Beach Post reported Saturday.

“Like other Palm Beach County businesses, the president’s golf club has been forced to close as the pandemic plays out. But there is that one major difference: The club is owned by the President of the United States, the commander-in-chief who made the call of when the country shut down and who will make the call on when America opens up for business again,” the newspaper reported.

The paper obtained access to an email sent by Ed Raymundo, finance director at Mar-a-Lago and Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach on March 25th, inquiring about the company’s $88,338 monthly rent.

“This mandate has resulted in the cancellation of events and forced the Club to close many of it’s (cq) amenities leaving limited services available to our members,” Raymundo wrote. “In addition, with many New York based members, the Governor’s most recent order requiring individuals traveling from the tri-state area to self-quarantine further hampers our operation. Your direction in this is greatly appreciated.”

Trump has frequently visited the golf course during his time as president.

“Of the three golf clubs Trump owns in South Florida, including Trump National Doral Florida and, Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, the golf club in West Palm Beach, is by far his most frequented. Just a few miles from Mar-a-Lago, the president’s private club in Palm Beach, Trump has spent 83 of the 127 days he has visited Mar-a-Lago at Trump International.Trump hosts his annual Super Bowl party at the club and has played there with golf legends, political allies and White House aides,” The Palm Beach Post reported.

As the coronavirus pandemic raged on last month, the White House pool reported the leader of the free world going to Trump International Golf Club most recently on Saturday, March 30 and Sunday, March 31.

Trump’s miracle drug is killing people

Trump is promoting hydroxychloroquine – –  in France, it’s causing cardiac arrest

France reported dozens of heart incidents linked to an anti-malaria drug President Trump has hyped as a possible treatment for the coronavirus.

Data released by France’s drug safety agency showed 43 cases of heart incidents linked to hydroxychloroquine, underscoring the risk of providing unproven treatments to COVID-19 patients.

“This initial assessment shows that the risks, in particular cardiovascular, associated with these treatments are very present and potentially increased in COVID-19 patients. Almost all of the declarations come from health establishments,” the agency said. “These drugs should only be used in hospitals, under close medical supervision.”

France has recorded 100 health incidents and four fatalities linked to experimental drugs for those with the coronavirus since late March. Three other patients had to be revived, and 82 incidents were considered “serious.”

Read more: https://thehill.com/policy/international/europe/492317-french-officials-report-heart-incidents-in-experimental

 

Trump is promoting medications that can kill diabetics

Two drugs which have been linked with treating coronavirus could be deadly when combined with metformin, researchers have said.

Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and chloroquine (CQ) are usually used to treat malaria and autoimmune diseases, and in America the Food and Drug Administration has authorized the two medications to be used in people in hospital with COVID-19.

The drugs have also shown promising outcomes in helping to treat certain cancers, but recent studies have also found combining these medications with metformin, sold as Glucophage, could be fatal.

A study which used mice to test the outcome of all three drugs, showed between 30% and 40% of the animals died.

Read more: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/news/2020/apr/two-potential-covid-19-treatments-are-deadly-combined-with-metformin.html


22% of COVID-19 non-survivors had Diabetes and 16% of people with severe cases of COVID-19 had diabetes. Metformin is one of the most common drugs for treating type 2 Diabetes.

The drug combination kills 30% to 40% of mice. If a large percentage of the patients are diabetic how do you know they are not taking Metformin?

Perhaps Trump and the rest of the quacks in his administration should not be prescribing this.

Review of 3,500 suits filed by Trump reveal an angry, incompetent man who lies as easily as the rest of us breathe and who is intent on destroying others

American presidents before Donald Trump had some record of public achievement in politics, government or the military before they were elected. Donald Trump lacked any of those credentials, but brought his astounding history of involvement in thousands of lawsuits to the nation’s highest office. This trove of cases from more than 45 years reflects Trump’s contempt for ethical standards and for the US Constitution and the rule of law, the foundation of American democracy.

As a perennial litigant, Trump weaponized the law to devastate perceived enemies, to consolidate power, to frustrate opposing parties, as former federal prosecutor and acclaimed author James D. Zirin illuminates in his compelling and disturbing history of Trump’s use and abuse of the law, Plaintiff in Chief: A Portrait of Trump in 3,500 Lawsuits (All Points Books).

Mr. Zirin is a distinguished veteran attorney who spent decades handling complex litigation. He is also a self-described “middle of the road Republican.” Plaintiff in Chief stands as his response to Trump’s disrespect for law and our legal system. He stresses that the book is a legal study, not a partisan takedown.

In his book, Mr. Zirin scrupulously documents Trump’s life in courts of law. Based on more than three years of extensive research, the book examines illustrative cases and how they reflect on the character and moral perspective of the current president. The details are grounded in more than 3,500 lawsuits filed by Trump and against Trump. Litigation usually involves sworn affidavits attesting to accuracy and testimony given under oath if a trial occurs, so Mr. Zirin is able to reference page after page of irrefutable evidence of Trump’s legal maneuvering, misstatements, hyperbole, and outright lies.

Read the full interview with Mr. Zirin at this link.

Wm. Barr — Trump’s mob consigliere — is rushing to Trump’s rescue, spreading lies about COVID-19 and Mueller investigation

We hadn’t heard much from Trump Crime Family Consigliere Barr since he was scathingly chastised by a federal judge last month for his  “lack of candor” in public descriptions of the Mueller report, saying that Barr had “distorted the findings” of the April 2019 report in his notorious press conference and a letter to lawmakers. The judge demanded a full copy of the Mueller report to review in order to decide whether to reveal the entire document, without redactions.

It’s not every day that the attorney general of the United States is personally castigated by a federal judge. But it was obviously too much to hope that Barr had taken his criticism to heart and had decided to play it straight. His return to the spotlight this week showed that while he may not have contracted the coronavirus, his Fox News brain rot is still raging out of control, as evidenced by his comments to Laura Ingraham.

Ingraham has two main hobbyhorses at the moment.

  • She believes that the response to the virus is an attack on civil liberties and that the quick cure for the disease is Dr. Trump’s magic elixir, hydroxychloroquine.
  • She also believes that anyone who disagrees with this is part of a plot to take down her beloved president.

So it was within that framework that Barr gave his interview, and he did not disappoint.

Under intense questioning about whether freedom of religion was being infringed by the shutdown, he managed to say that public health measures are acceptable for a short period and then went on to parrot Trump’s maxim that “the cure can’t be worse than the disease,” and even suggesting that more people will die of cancer because researchers are unable to continue their work during the shutdown. He made it clear that he thinks the government should be opened sooner rather than later :

I think we have to be very careful to make sure this is — you know, that the draconian measures that are being adopted are fully justified, and there are not alternative ways of protecting people. And I think, you know, when this — when this period of time is — at the end of April expires, I think we have to allow people to adapt more than we have and not just tell people to go home and hide under the bed,

The “adaptations” he had in mind were unclear, recommending vague “protocols” for restaurants and throwing around terms like “PPE” as if he were the head epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health. For all his alleged concern with civil liberties he seemed to indicate that he thinks restrictions on travel would be a positive consequence of this crisis. At least that’s what it sounded like, since he talked about stricter border laws being a good way to prevent pandemics. After all, viruses don’t recognize citizenship or nationality. If you can’t let people come in, in an attempt to protect yourself from infection, you can’t let people out either. Otherwise, they might bring it back.

It was obvious that Barr has been spending a lot of time watching Fox News. Unprompted, he let loose with a ydroxychloroquine rant worthy of Sean Hannity himself:

https://twitter.com/Acyn/status/1248081988491198465

Barr apparently missed this exchange on his favorite channel the other day in which Dr. William Haseltine, a renowned biologist and retired Harvard professor, took Fox News host Dana Perino to task for pushing this drug with little evidence to back it up.

https://twitter.com/LisPower1/status/1247233437519536129

The blowback over this alleged miracle cure being relentlessly touted by Trump and his friends at Fox News isn’t coming from the press or the Democrats. It’s coming from the medical community, which is appalled that the president of the United States would use his platform to push unproven drugs based on the recommendation of TV quacks and his own “feelings.”

I guess everyone’s an armchair epidemiologist these days, but the Fox News coronavirus coverage is actually dangerous. The fact that the president and the attorney general consider their blather as a basis for policymaking is kind of terrifying.

But Barr did make some more serious news when he went on a tirade about the Russia investigation. Last December, when the inspector general of the Justice Department released his report that took the FBI to task for its FISA process in pursuing a onetime Trump campaign adviser, Barr declared it would be a travesty “to spy on political opponents, but also to use them in a way that could affect the outcome of the election.” He said he would withhold his judgment until the “investigation of the investigation” by special counsel John Durham was complete.

Durham has filed no report, but Barr’s not waiting any longer to say what’s on his mind. He told Ingraham that “what happened to [Trump] was one of the greatest travesties in American history. Without any basis, they started this investigation of his campaign, and even more concerning actually is what happened after the campaign — a whole pattern of events while he was president … to sabotage the presidency — or at least have the effect of sabotaging the presidency.”

That directly contradicts his own inspector general’s conclusions. And it comes with a serious threat:

https://twitter.com/prayingmedic/status/1248448026521165830

There’s a reason Barr came out of his bunker now. Times are tough, people are getting nervous and the Trumpian base needs some inspiration. What could be better than some sweet, sweet revenge?

As the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake points out, this should come as no surprise. Before Barr was even a gleam in Trump’s eye, he wrote a long unsolicited memo to the White House explaining that he didn’t believe the Russia investigation was justified. He even told a reporter later that the predicate for pursuing the supposed scandal around Hillary Clinton and Uranium One was far stronger than that for the Russia probe.

His mind was made up about this long before he became attorney general. It’s why he was hired as Donald Trump’s mob lawyer in the first place.