Tag Archives: Science

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.

 

“We Don’t Have Time.”

trump 4

The disaster that is the Trump administration reaction to and handling of the Coronavirus crisis has been decades in the making.  It is the result of raising to seriousness for political purposes, willful ignorance, superstition, and an anti-science bias.

The right and the Republican Party saw political benefit in cultivating those traits in the population.  They knew, as a minority party, ignorance and superstition would help them gain and maintain political power.

They were right.  But now, we are in the position of having people who don’t believe in government running an enormous advanced industrialized government at a time when a coordinated government response to the Coronavirus is essential.

We also have a complaint, cowardly, mediocre corporate media whose biggest and most powerful stars can only find the courage to tearfully plead with the Trump administration to show leadership (Jake Tapper today.)  They are pleading with people who think “believing” in science is optional, and that government is not there to help people, but to line the pockets of the rich.

At the absurd dog-and-pony show that is the daily press briefing, reporters use precious time asking questions like 1) Does the First Lady wear a mask? And 2) Why we don’t fix the roads while everybody is at home.

Meanwhile, right in front of our faces, Donald Trump and his administration, like snake oil salesmen, tout drugs which they maintain will treat the Coronavirus to distract attention away from the fact that they have failed miserably to run the government they are in control of and are doing nothing but trying to find a way to profit off the crisis.

When asked today how he could justify touting unproven drugs, Trump responded: “We don’t have time…to test it out.”  We don’t have time to test it out.  Just think about that.  We don’t have time to test the drugs to see if they work before we use tax-payer money to stockpile the drugs.  We don’t have time to test the drugs to see if they work before we recommend people use them.  Anybody who knows anything about the scientific method knows that this kind of statement is insane.  INSANE.

You don’t even have to know something about the scientific method to know that this is idiocy.  You just need some common sense.  Why would you take a drug you had no idea was effective in treating the condition you were suffering from?  Why?

We don’t have time to test the drugs out, Trump continues, “with the test tubes and the laboratories.”  He says this like the testing of drugs with test tubes and laboratories is self-indulgent lark that people might want to do for fun if the situation wasn’t so serious.  This is the talk of a man who has no idea what science is.  He is as willfully ignorant and superstitious as the people who were courted by the Republican party and cultivated by Fox News.

It is bad enough to have a political party that cynically uses ignorance and superstition to get elected.  It is quite another to have people in charge who are themselves ignorant and superstitious.  It may well be deadly in a world where technology is the key to survival and to mass extinction.