Category Archives: Coronavirus

Flailing States: Reaction to the Pandemic: Pankaj Mishra

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Pankaj Mishra · Flailing States: Anglo-America Loses its Grip · London Review of Books, 16 July 2020

‘The abyss of history​ is deep enough to hold us all,’ Paul Valéry wrote in 1919, as Europe lay in ruins. The words resonate today as the coronavirus blows the roof off the world, most brutally exposing Britain and the United States, these prime movers of modern civilisation, which proudly claimed victory in two world wars, and in the Cold War, and which until recently held themselves up as exemplars of enlightened progress, economic and cultural models to be imitated across the globe.

‘The true test of a good government,’ Alexander Hamilton wrote, ‘is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration.’ It is a test the United States and Britain have failed ruinously during the current crisis. Both countries had weeks of warnings about the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan; strategies deployed by nations that responded early, such as South Korea and Taiwan, could have been adapted and implemented. But Donald Trump and Boris Johnson chose instead to claim immunity. ‘I think it’s going to work out fine,’ Trump announced on 19 February. On 3 March, the day the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies warned against shaking hands, Johnson boasted after a visit to a hospital treating coronavirus patients: ‘I shook hands with everybody, you will be pleased to know, and I continue to shake hands.’

“Nothing will change.” Joe Biden

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Well, it seems that advisors around the White House were not able to keep Trump from having the disgusting and embarrassing pressers every day.  He was out there again reading meaningless statistics, not wearing a mask, and becoming incensed when reporters asked him innocuous questions.

I have come to despise that sing-song voice he uses when he reads aloud.  And, he read aloud today.  I am sure his staff tried to get him to confine himself to reading aloud, but of course he couldn’t do that.  And, like usual, he made an ass out of himself attacking a female reporter.

The female reporters in these White House briefings could provoke a total melt down from Trump if they just persisted in asking relevant questions and refused to back down.  Or if one of them, just one of them, asked Trump if he realized that their job was to ask questions and his was to answer them.  But, as it stands now, none of them are prepared to do this.

When I complained once about the servility of the White House press on Twitter, I received multiple replies explaining to me that reporters couldn’t ask pointed questions because they might lose the positions they had worked so hard to attain.  This line of reasoning drives me crazy.

We have evidently become a society in which people simply assume that it is normal to abase themselves in order to keep a job.  I cannot count the number of times I have heard political pundits state in a matter-of-fact manner that members of Congress can’t do this or that because they might then have an opponent in a primary, or God-forbid lose an election.

When did we become a country in which it was assumed that everybody would just do what they were told, sacrifice any standard, abandoned any integrity, kiss any ass just to hold a job?  When did this become normal?

I’m sorry, but what ever happened to doing what is right?  I know, it went out of fashion.  I miss it.

Other notes from the News:

AFP.com (5/10/20)

  • The Supreme Court will tomorrow take up whether Trump is going to be forced (like every other person) to turn over his tax returns. He is the first president since Nixon to refuse to do so.  Trump’s lawyers have argued that this request for the tax returns is designed to “torment the president.”
  • Trump’s attorneys are arguing that he enjoys total immunity as long as he is in the White House.
  • In a friend of the court brief, lawyers argued that if the Supreme court rules for Trump and his lawyers “it will fundamentally alter the basic principles of accountability on which our democracy depends.”’
  • There are a lot of people who are still maintaining that our “institutions are holding.” I am not one of them.

Trudo, Hanna and Hunter Woodall (5/11/20) Daily Beast

In an interview on April 30, Joe Biden revealed that “…there’s some major Republicans who are already forming ‘Republicans for Biden.” He then specified that they were “major officeholders.”

  • “You don’t want something like this out on the street before it needs to be,” a GOP source said. “It just makes it much harder to do.”
  • Names that are being bandied about apparently include Jeff Flake, Bill Kristol, Michael Steele, Steve Schmidt, David Jolly and Mona Charen and John Kasich. .
  • Reached for comment, a spokesperson for the Biden campaign said, in part, “Vice President Biden is running for president to unite our country and rebuild the soul of the nation, and to accomplish that we need to bring together Americans from across the political spectrum to build the broadest possible coalition to defeat Donald Trump.”
  • At one point in late 2019, Biden even floated the prospect of selecting a Republican running mate.
  • In late April, Biden stated that he would consider naming Republicans to his Cabinet.

Derysh, Igor (Salon, 6/19/19).

  • In June of 2019, Biden assured rich donors at a New York fundraiser that “nothing would fundamentally change” if he is elected.
  • He promised not to “demonize” the rich and that “no one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change.”
  • This was just after Biden appeared at the Poor People’s Campaign Presidential Forum where he said that poverty “was the one thing that can bring this country down.” “We have,” he stated “all the money we need to do it.”
  • Biden went on to say that the rich should not be blamed for income inequality, pleading to the donors, “I need you very badly.”
  • For the rich donors in New York: “I hope if I win this nomination, I won’t let you down. I promise you,” he added.
  • Biden also complained that some Democrats criticized his eagerness to work with Republicans after Republicans spent years blocking President Obama’s agenda and moving further right.
  • Biden pointed out that his ability to work with segregationists like former Mississippi Sen. James O. Eastland and Georgia Sen. Herman Talmadge showed that he could “bring people together,”
  • “I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Biden said. “He never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son.'”
  • “At least there was some civility,” he said. “We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today, you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition — the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”

I hate to tell Joe Biden, but the problem here is not that we don’t talk to Republicans.  The problem is that we have listened to Republicans.  They want to establish a one-party Christian Nationalist state that has no room for democracy.

You cannot compromise, bring together, be civil to people who are trying to destroy democracy.  You either fight them or you let them win.  Joe Biden will let them win.  He has done it his entire career.

Interview with Sarah Kenzior: Hiding in Plain Sight

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Deep State Radio Podcast

Home

5/5/20

Interview with Sarah Kenzior about her new book “Hiding in Plain Sight.”

Notes from the interview:

  • The Mueller investigation was deeply problematic in that Mueller completely avoided investigating Trump’s finances and the close connection with the Russian Mafia. Mueller also refused to indict or even interview key people like Jared Kushner.
  • Mueller made useless deals with people like Michael Flint that yielded nothing.
  • Mueller was lionized by the corporate media and assumed to be doing a real investigation. But, he virtually defined out of the investigation certain crucial areas like Trump’s finances.
  • The Republicans have no illusions that this will be a free and fair election in 2020. They have no intentions of trying to ensure it is. This should have been investigated from the very beginning.  It was not.
  • The Trump administration is a continuation of “streamlined corruption.” It is a continuation of a philosophy of government – began decades ago – to make government so small and powerless you could “drown it in a bathtub.”
  • Crises make it easier to push authoritarian policies.
  • 911 made it easy to carry out extra-legal surveillance activities.
  • The economic downturn helped solidify income rampant inequality.
  • There is a grave danger that the Coronavirus pandemic will help justify the use of advanced tracking technology that will further invade individual privacy.
  • Kenzior discusses the problems already in China with technology that such as facial recognition and social crediting which records purchases and activities.  For some people it is a branding system.  If you don’t have the right authorization, you can’t get a job, for example.  (Note: There is a documentary about this on the Wiegers.)
  • Kenzior also is concerned about health data being weaponized, there being classes of people who can and can’t get tested or classes of people identified as “infectious groups.”

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.”

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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.

 

Alternative Media: Trump Watch Podcast

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As the corporate media becomes more and more useless in covering the Trump/Republican administration and the coronavirus crisis, we must seek alternative sources of news.

Try the “Trump Watch” Podcast.

In the April 16 episode, they do an interview with John Nichols from the Nation Magazine about the attempt by the Republicans to control voting in Wisconsin in order to assure the election of their hand-picked Supreme Court Judge.  They failed, but only because people came out with home-made masks and stood in lines for hours to vote against the Republicans.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the corporate media had covered this win for regular people in Wisconsin?  Wouldn’t it be nice if the corporate media actually talked about the attempt by Republicans, in Wisconsin and elsewhere, to thwart democracy and manipulate the voting process?

They won’t do it and we have to go elsewhere for our news.  The corporate media has ceased to cover any international news at all.  They are obsessed with interviewing everybody in the country about the minutiae of the Coronavirus issue.  They are obsessed with covering every minute of Trump’s propaganda sessions every afternoon and then talking endlessly about what he says.  They are obsessed with providing us inspirational stories about the “heroes” of the crisis and informing us of how we can entertain ourselves while staying at home as if we were children.

The Trump Watch podcast, starts every episode by saying that they cover what Trump DOES not just what he TWEETS.

The Republicans are using the Coronavirus to install a Christo-fascist one-party authoritarian state.  While the press is asking Trump is it is a good idea for Americans to congregate on the mall in Washington, D.C., the Republicans are stealing us blind.  After this is over, they will tell us we can’t afford Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Head Start…because of the pandemic, not because they robbed us blind and gave the money to their buddies.

I would love to hear of other podcasts you find useful and any comments you might have.

Trump Watch Podcast

 

“…companies with political connections…”

THE BIGGEST CLASS THEFT IN THE HISTORY OF THE COUNTRY

The New York Times is reporting today that a doctor, Dr. Rick Bright , who was Director of the Department of Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, was removed from his position because he insisted on rigorous vetting of treatments for the Coronavirus, specifically those touted by the Trump administration.

Bright led a federal agency involved in developing a vaccine for the Coronavirus.  He was abruptly dismissed.  He commented in a statement to the NYT:

“I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit.”

Bright maintains that doing his job responsibly caused clashes with “HHS political leadership.”  He was, according to his statements, criticized for his “proactive efforts to invest early into vaccines and supplies critical to saving American lives.”  He also, “…resisted efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections.”

Bright was talking about efforts to make chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which, he said “clearly lack scientific merit.”

One of the risks, Bright pointed out of these drugs in clinical trials, was “increased mortality.”  That means the drugs are likely to kill you.

The political people have “politicized the work of BARDA” he says and  pressured him to “fund companies with political connections and efforts that lack scientific merit.”

This is where we are folks.  This Coronavirus effort on the part of the Republican Party and the Trump administration is just one huge feeding frenzy, a free-for-all of profiteering.  This is one point of corruption among countless others across the system where the con artists and grifters Trump and the Republicans have put in place are having the time of their financial lives.

The real question is whether we are going to let them get away with it.  trump pointing finger

Head-on conflict with the self-interest of concentrated private capital

joe biden

The corporate media is a complete waste of time.  They failed us in 2016 and they are spectacularly failing us now.  We must turn to other news sources.  These are excerpts from The Nation Magazine.

Grey, Rohan, Nation Manazine, April 20/27 2020).

Biden indicated that as president, he would veto Medicare for All legislation because of concern over the price tag.  “Biden has been a deficit hawk his entire career.  As a Senator, he broke with his party to support a Repubican-sponsored balanced budget amendment, and as vice president he spearheaded efforts to achieve a bipartisan deficit reduction deal that included cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”

“In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the Obama administration allowed millions to lose their homes in order to “foam the runways” for the banking system, while the Republicans cynically weaponized deficit and debt hysteria in order to deny the Democrats the political credit of a more successful recovery.”

“…much of the suffering attributable to this pandemic will not come from people directly contracting the virus, but from our collective failure to provide adequate care and support to the elderly, the physically vulnerable, the poor, and people in less fortunate countries during their hour of need. The virus itself may be a novel twist, but the broader story is regrettably all too familiar.”

Biden, in the debates, “…acknowledged that upon entering office in 2009, he and President Obama were informed by the Department of Defense that climate change was the single greatest threat to American national security—a point Sanders has been making for years. However, when the moderators pointed out that his climate plan was $14 trillion less than Bernie’s, he retreated into defensive bluster and nostalgic promises to restore the 2016 Paris Agreement. Gone was the sense of existential urgency and ambition that had animated his earlier remarks about the coronavirus.

“…whatever it takes means embracing the inevitability of a head-on conflict with the self-interest of concentrated private capital. A few months ago, it would have sounded extreme to propose placing Amazon, Walmart, Netflix, Uber, and American Airlines under public ownership. But today the socially contingent nature of these corporate behemoths—from their financial engine, to their workforce, to the goods and services they provide—has been laid bare. If luxury perfume companies like Christian Dior and Givenchy can be repurposed to make hand sanitizer to save lives, surely we can consider the same for the companies responsible for essential basic staples such as food, ventilators, and toilet paper. We want clean hands. But we also want bread, roses, and the means to wipe our asses.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Real Enemy…timidity, selfishness and greed.

But the real enemy, the one we have always been at war against, is the violence and despair of our own timidity, selfishness, and greed. For too long, we have responded to this enemy with appeasement. But appeasement has proven to be a losing strategy, as indeed it always is. The only way we will have any chance of overcoming the challenge of our present moment is by bringing everyone together, emphasizing our common cause, and committing to building institutions that reflect and reinforce basic notions of universal solidarity.  Rohan Grey, The Nation Magazine.

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