Category Archives: CDC

Authoritarianism: Anonymous Police and the Elimination of Expertise

CNN blurred photo

The Slouch Toward Authoritarianism

Armed federal agents, dressed in combat gear, have been sent into the streets of Portland, Oregon against the wishes of local authorities.  These agents display no identifying information and are taking citizens off the streets in unmarked cars to undisclosed locations.  The agents are reporting to the Department of Homeland Security.

In a strong stand against such unbridled intervention, the House Appropriations Committee just approved a new Homeland Security Funding Bill.

The Oregon Attorney General has sued over the deployment of the federal agents and asked for a restraining order.  The Trump administration is expressing disdain over the objections of local officials and publicity threatened to send more anonymous police into other Demcratic-led cities.

According to an interview on MSNBC (7/20/20) with Ryan Haas, Oregon Public Broadcasting:

  • Protestors are sometimes not even near federal property.
  • People are being taken in for questioning inside the federal courthouse.
  • Charges range from pointing something at federal officers, assault of federal officer, and defacing property.

The administration dismissed warnings of local officials that the actions of the federal agents is making the situation worse.  In fact, that is likely exactly what they want.  They are being sent into Democratic-run cities, generating conflict and confrontation with protestors, in order to scare the suburbs into thinking that violence is widespread and escalating.

DHS, therefore, has been transformed into a political arm for the Republican candidate.

The use of secret police is common in authoritarian governments, but again, as with all the moves toward authoritarian control in this country, the corporate media fails to sound the alarm and normalizes the activities.  While they spend hours and hours talking about Trump’s psychology and dysfunctional family history, they have no commentators talking about the implications of using the federal government as instruments of political power.  In addition, CNN, is blurring out the faces of the federal agents so that they can’t be recognized.

In another move common, indeed essential, to authoritarian leaders, Trump is installing loyalists to senior roles at the Pentagon.  These toadies are being put in place as “acting” officials, thus skirting a Senate confirmation process.  The administration just announced that they are assigning a 33-year-old White House chief technology officer to be the head of the research and engineering for the entire Department of Defense.

The man has a bachelor’s degree in political science and is replacing a man with a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering.

The Trump administration is discussing installing a “Fox News regular” to be the Pentagon’s top policy official.

The assurance of loyalty and the elimination of expertise is essential to establishing authoritarian rule.  We have seen this play out during the Trump administration in the State Department, the CDC, and now the Pentagon.

Thursday Morning Notes: Capitalism, Republicans, Elections, Corruption, Biden, Delusion

joe biden

Morning Musings:

  • The Trump pressers and the now daily appearances are humiliation sessions. Trump regularly demeans and silences the voices of reporters and this morning, a nurse who has first hand experience working with the Coronavirus.  This is what authoritarian governments do, normalize the silencing of dissent.  Every time Trump silences, demeans, and both demands and receives acquiescence in this silencing, people are taught what’s expected, that submission is a normal way to behave.  We need to admit that we live in a culture of cowardice, compliance, and willing submission.  We need to stop obsessing about Trump’s behavior and look at ourselves.
  • This is a culture that deludes itself into thinking that it is characterized by independent thought and action when in fact, what characterizes most individuals is compliance.
  • Every time Trump is allowed to bully and demean others without reaction, Americans become a little bit more compliant with authority.
  • It is being reported this morning that guidelines from the CDC about reopening society were ignored by the Trump administration. The CDC, evidently, has been gutted of professionals who will stand up for fact and independent thought.  The man in charge of the CDC has been investigated for misrepresenting his own research data.
  • It is time to ask what the benefits are to the administration from the virus becoming worse. They include 1) massive profits from the wild west profiteering off medical supplies, 2) reinforcing people’s notion that government can’t work for their benefit, 3) reinforcing the Republican theory of government that we should have no government, 4) driving wages down, 5) providing an excuse for cutting and eliminating social programs, 6) encouraging the free-for-all economy the Republicans have worked to bring about for decades, 7) exacerbating a crisis that will cover other authoritarian moves which will go unnoticed, 8) killing off a large proportion of vulnerable people, 9) justifying closing the borders.  These are just a few advantages of the crisis getting worse.
  • The corporate media has ceased to be any kind of check on power. They are worse than useless.  They don’t even have to be censored, they censor themselves.  The feckless questions asked in the presidential pressers is an example of this.  The county is in the middle of an economic and health crisis, and reporters ask questions like: Thank you Mr. President.  Do you think, Mr. President, that citizens should congregate on the mall?
  • The Biden apologia articles arguing that 1) Tara Reade is not credible that her charges are somehow different from those of Blassy Ford, or that 2) the charges are believable, but we should vote for Biden anyway are just astounding. It is astonishing how many women are willing to publicly argue that a presidential candidate with multiple women accusers should be given a pass.
  • I am disappointed that a number of women I know who are pleading with me to silence myself about Biden’s obvious failures as a candidate. Please, they ask, don’t speak or write the truth. We have to remain silent and protect our candidate, the candidate the Democratic Party and the corporate media cheated to install as the candidate.
  • Equally disheartening is the number of people engaging in a gigantic act of delusion by relying on voting in 2020 to solve our problems.   The Republicans have done and will do everything in their power to subvert a democratic vote.  They have and will also enable interference in the election on their behalf.  There is too much at stake for Republicans to allow a loss.  We must move beyond this Cinderella-fiction that we can just vote Trump out in 2020.  The Republicans are being so brazen and craven, not even pretending to believe in democracy, because they know they will win. And, the Democrats will blame Bernie Sanders and his supporters and cower in place just as the Democratic Party is doing at the moment.
  • Democrats are remaining silent, hoping that Trump will destroy himself over the Corona virus pandemic. Instead of fighting every day, pointing out to the American people every day that what is happening is a textbook example of what happens in a culture where you put people in charge of government who are trying to destroy government.  It is a textbook case of what a pandemic looks like managed by people who value profits over everything else.  This is unfettered capitalism, no regulations, no rules except that everyone is free to profit off untold misery to their heart’s content.
  • Instead of going on television every day to point out what a giant class rip off the bailout bill was, the Democrats went on television trying to make political points for compromising with (caving to) the Republicans in a windfall (yet another one) for the 1%.
  • Bernie Sanders has gone silent at a time when every day is an illustration of why the changes he proposed for the country are essential to the survival of working people and democracy.
  • Barak Obama seems to stay above the fray unless he has to step in to prevent fundamental social change for working people. Obama refused, refused to prosecute those responsible for the 2008 financial crisis.  He helped enable lack of accountability for the wealthy and powerful.
  • We have to face the facts. Hiding our heads in the sand will accomplish nothing.

Friday Notes: America’s Lawyer, Bailout Theft, Media, Science

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Friday Notes:

As the corporate media becomes more and more useless, we must turn to other sources.

Podcast: America’s Lawyer, Mike Papantonio

April 1, 2020 Episode: The risks to meat packing employees of the mandated openings; the complicity of the Democrats in the class rip-off of the stimulus bill; Schumer and fast-tracking judicial appointments; claims of Tara Reade; lawsuits against big banks for discriminating against small businesses; insurance companies who refuse to pay claims because of the pandemic.

tps://www.rt.com/shows/americas-lawyer/

DNC Lawyers Argue DNC Has Right to Pick Candidates in Back Rooms

https://observer.com/2017/05/dnc-lawsuit-presidential-primaries-bernie-sanders-supporters/

When Science Loses Its Voice

Late February, after the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Nancy Messonnier, warned of the coming pandemic, Mike Pance was put in charge of the White House Coronavirus, and the CDC started declining interviews.  Federal employees were limited in what they could say publicly.  The NYT reported that federal health officials were required to coordinate their statements with Pence’s office.  Several lawsuits and complaints and lawsuits have been filed.

https://www.cjr.org/analysis/cdc-pandemic-transparency-comment-access.php

MSNBC public editor: Why pundits and journalists insist on false balance.

There is an illusion the media feels obliged to preserve, even more than the illusion of objectivity.  “What broadcast media is really selling—literally selling, to its advertisers and to its viewers—is the illusion of stability and certainty in American life, as well as its own role as a wise, trustworthy leader within that system.”

“National news organizations like MSNBC cannot operate effectively outside the assumption of calm, professional equanimity. Their real stock-in-trade is the impression, the conviction, that they know what is going on in the world; that is the reason viewers tune in and the basis of every ad buy. Normality. Stability, a world that is comprehensible and comprehended.”

https://www.cjr.org/analysis/83510.php

The Senate Corporate Bailout Package Is a ‘Robbery in Progress,’ Warn Critics

“It’s not a bailout for the coronavirus. It’s a bailout for twelve years of corporate irresponsibility.”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/03/25/senate-corporate-bailout-package-robbery-progress-warn-critics

 

 

 

Robert Redfield, CDC: “a sloppy scientist with a long history of scientific misconduct and an extreme religious agenda.”

robert redfield

Trump and the Republicans are working to establish a Christo-fascist one party authoritarian state.  The corporate media refuses to take this situation seriously, acting as if Trump’s personal disdain of science is just that, some kind of personal peccadillo.  It’s not.  The Republican party has worked for decades to erode public confidence in science and the scientific method.

Crucial people in the Trump administration and the Republican party think they have a religious mission to subvert democracy in this country.  Bill Barr (who numerous pundits on MSNBC assured us was an institutionalist) is just one example.  These people detest science because science has rules, can demonstrate facts that contradict religious belief.  These are people who do not want there to be any objective reality outside their own authoritarian determination of truth.  Science is a threat.

The Republican Party has spent decades fighting against science.  The science of climate change is a good example.  They must discredit science to discredit what is now agreed-upon scientific fact – the planet is warming, disastrously, and it is the effect of man-made (and therefore correctable) behavior.  But, acknowledging the reality of climate change means interfering with profits from fossil fuels.  The Republicans would rather savage the planet rather than cost the 1% profits.

As Malcolm Nance pointed out this week in an interview, these people are a lot like terrorist fanatics, they think they are protected by God from the effects of their behavior.  These folks think they can pursue profits and destroy the planet and they will not be affected.

As just one illustration of this thinking, last week there was video of people coming out of a religious service where people congregated regardless of the Coronavirus.  One woman stopped to talk to the reporter, and said: I’ve been washed by the blood of Jesus.  What she is saying is that she won’t be affected by the Coronavirus because God is protecting her.

This is dangerous thinking.  Extremely dangerous thinking.  And, it prevades an entire political party in this country.  These are not just a few isolated people.

Trump’s administration is packing the scientific agencies like the CDC with appointees who have no respect for, and positive suspicion of science.  Robert Redfield is one example. Redfield has essentially been given a pass by the corporate media.

The following are excerpts from an article about Redfield that took 5 seconds to find on the internet.

Redfield’s “…nomination was considered controversial, and was opposed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which cited Redfield’s lack of experience administering a public health agency, his history of scientific misconduct, and his religious advocacy in response to a public health crisis. Earlier reporting refers to his advocacy of a religious agenda in response to the AIDS crisis.”

In a statement by the President of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Dr. Peter Lurie (published (3/21/18), the CSPI deemed the appointment of Redfield “disastrous” for at least three reasons. 1) Redfield had no experience running a public health agency and has no relationship with state and local public health officials.  2) Redfield had been “credibly accused of scientific misconduct for exaggerating the benefits of a putative HIV vaccine.”  Redfield was investigated for this by the military.  3) Redfield had supported a variety of policies related to HIV/AIDS that “are anathema to the great majority of public health professionals: mandatory HIV testing,  reporting of positive HIV results to public health without the patient’s consent and quarantining of HIV positive individuals in the military.”

Redfield in this public statement was called “a sloppy scientist with a long history of scientific misconduct and an extreme religious agenda.”

Further excerpts from an article in Mother Jones: Choma, Russ (3/7/2020) “Trump’s CDC director has a history of controversial…”

  • Redfield “… also has a long history of being a close ally to conservative politicians and their pet theories on HIV and AIDS.”
  • He advocated investigating the sexual histories of those who tested HIV positive.
  • Redfield advocated similar ideas outside of the military, aligning himself with a conservative Christian group called Americans for a Sound HIV/AIDS Policy (ASAP) which supported similar steps in the general public (mandatory testing and quarantines) to control the spread of the virus. According to Foreign Policy, in the introduction of a book by ASAP’s founder, Redfield rejected the medical norms for handling the epidemic and called for a more faith-based approach:
  • “It is time to reject the temptation of denial of the AIDS/HIV crisis; to reject false prophets who preach the quick-fix strategies of condoms and free needles; to reject those who preach prejudice; and to reject those who try to replace God as judge. The time has come for the Christian community—members and leaders alike—to confront the epidemic,” Redfield wrote.
  • Redfield named the breakdown of family values and increasing number of single-parent households as key factors responsible for the spread of AIDS.
  • “In the 1990s, Redfield endorsed an unproven HIV vaccine as a huge breakthrough. It wasn’t, and Redfield was investigated for scientific misconduct for his role in continuing to push the vaccine. (He was later cleared of accusations of misconduct.) He also publicly lobbied for legislation sponsored by a conservative member of Congress that would force medical workers to get tested for HIV and AIDS and lose their licenses to practice if they were infected. More recently, in the early 2000s, Redfield remained adamant that the best way to contain the AIDS epidemic in Africa was to encourage abstinence, monogamy, and the use of condoms only as a last resort.”
  • Redfield was not the Trump administration’s first choice for CDC director; she resigned after she was found to have traded tobacco stocks while running the CDC. Despite loud calls from CDC watchdogs like the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which accused Redfield of having a bad record “and an extreme religious agenda,” Redfield was appointed in 2018.
  • Redfield has enabled Trump’s politicization of the government’s response.

And, Deborah Brix has been a close associate of Redfield’s.

According to information reported by Wikipedia:

“Redfield continued studies of the…vaccine; the results of his 27-author phase II clinical trial were published in the Journal of Infectious Disease in 2000, with Deborah L. Birx as lead author.[22] Redfield’s multi-site study, a collaboration between the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health, laid the groundwork for future vaccine development and provided a better understanding of the biologic basis of HIV infection and its interaction with the host immune system. The work did not, however, result in an effective vaccine. 

HIV interventions

“The 1993 investigation did say that Redfield had an “inappropriate” close relationship with the non-governmental group “Americans for a Sound AIDS/HIV Policy” (ASAP), which promoted the gp160 vaccine. The group was founded by evangelical Christians that worked to contain the HIV/AIDS outbreak by advocating for abstinence before marriage, rather than passing out condoms — a view Redfield says he’s since changed.[]

Redfield served on the board of ASAP, which gay groups criticized for anti-gay, conservative Christian policies, such as abstinence-only prevention. Redfield also authored the foreword to the book co-written by ASAP leader W. Shepard Smith, “Christians in the Age of AIDS” which discouraged the distribution of sterile needles to drug users as well as condom use calling them “false prophets.” The book described AIDS as “God’s judgment” against homosexuals. At the time of his nomination to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Redfield maintained close ties with anti-gay and anti-HIV activists, although he has publicly supported the use of condoms and denied ever promoting abstinence-only interventions.[11] However, in the 2000s, Redfield was a prominent advocate for the ABCs of AIDS doctrine which promoted abstinence primarily and condoms only a last resort.

These people are dangerous, driven by religious fanaticism, and in charge of government agencies.