Tuesday, March 10, 2020

What Happens When Elderly Officials In The U.S. Start Dying From COVID-19, The Way They Are In Iran?


CoronavirusCzar Pence by Nancy Ohanian

CNN reported that Trumpanzee is "dodging responsibility as the coronavirus outbreak morphs into a global pandemic swiftly spreading across America and stock markets tank. He's instead accusing Democrats and the media of inflaming the crisis. The deflection campaign is a fresh example of Trump deploying his trusted method for winning his battles: flinging disinformation, alternative facts and biting attacks at his enemies. But the President's efforts to create an alternative reality are being badly outpaced by the facts of an emergency that defies political pressure."

So... the mainstream media is finally starting to recognize-- in this case Peter Baker of the NY Times that Señor Trumpanzee can't tweet away-- or gaslight into oblivion-- COVID-19. "Defending against criticism of his handling of the coronavirus, President Trump suggested the other day that he could hardly have been expected to be ready for such an unexpected crisis. 'Who would have thought?' he asked during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nerve center for the government’s response to the outbreak. 'Who would have thought we would even be having the subject?' Actually, quite a few people would have thought, and did-- including the officials in his own White House who were in charge of preparing for just such a pandemic only to have their office shut down in a reorganization in 2018. 'The threat of pandemic flu is the No. 1 health security concern,' one of the officials said the day before that happened two years ago. 'Are we ready to respond? I fear the answer is no.' For a president who lives in the moment, rarely planning too far ahead, the coronavirus has proved to be a leadership challenge he was not prepared for either. The outbreak that has rattled the nation does not respond to Mr. Trump’s favorite instruments of power: It cannot be cowed by Twitter posts, it cannot be shot down by drones, it cannot be overcome by party solidarity, it cannot be overpowered by campaign rally chants."

Baker noted that Trump, "who is at his strongest politically when he has a human enemy to attack, has seemed less certain of how to take on an invisible killer. The role of calming natural leader is not one that has come easily as he struggles to find the balance between public reassurance and Panglossian dismissiveness. He has predicted that the virus will 'miraculously' disappear on its own with warmer weather, suggested a vaccine will be available soon and insisted anyone who wants to be tested can be-- all overstated or inaccurate."
He has expressed an astonishing lack of knowledge while at the same time claiming to be a medical savant. He has treated the crisis as a partisan battle, wearing his red Keep America Great campaign cap to the C.D.C. and calling the governor presiding over the state with the highest death toll a “snake.” He even admitted that he wanted to leave passengers stranded on a cruise ship rather than see statistics for the number of cases on American soil go up because it would look bad.

“If we really want to talk about what is going to potentially create panic in this country, it’s an administration that’s just not being straight with the American public about the extent of this epidemic and the real-life consequences that could be put upon Americans,” Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, said Sunday on Face the Nation on CBS.

Dr. Jonathan S. Reiner, a prominent cardiologist who treated former Vice President Dick Cheney and wrote a book with him, said he was convinced that the Trump administration failed to move more quickly to test for the virus after it emerged in China because the White House did not want to admit the scope of the threat.

“When the story is finally written,” he said on Sunday, “we’ll come to understand that tens of thousands of lives were placed at risk because of a political decision made by the president.”
Not millions? We'll see. Trump is continuing to make light of the pandemic with a schedule that has included nothing but fundraisers and golfing and with tweets like this one Monday morning:

As if exposure of the top echelons of his government to COVID-19 at CPAC and AIPAC wasn't bad enough, many of the ones who need to be watched closely, were at a lavish birthday party at Mar-A-Lago for for Don, Jr's girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, including Trump cronies Mike Pence, Lindsey Graham, Rudy Giuliani, Tucker Carlson and Matt Gaetz, although we have no confirmation that Gaetz was wearing his gas-mask.
[Trumpanzee] has also taken a business-as-usual approach to the rest of his schedule, refusing to cancel campaign rallies, fund-raisers or social events even as other large gatherings of Americans are scrubbed. Asked by a reporter on Saturday night if he was worried that infections were getting closer to the White House, Mr. Trump said, “No, I’m not concerned at all.”

...Trump happily introduced his visitor, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, to Mr. Carlson and other guests in a video shared on social media, boasting that he “gave him a good gift” by not imposing tariffs on Brazil and “that made him much more popular.” Mr. Bolsonaro laughed and agreed. A smiling Mr. Pence turned to the camera and playfully said, “Sí.”

The first lady did not make the trip to Florida, but she faced a fiddling-while-Rome-burns blowback of her own over the weekend after posting online photographs of herself in a hard hat overseeing the privately financed construction of a new tennis pavilion at the White House.

“I encourage everyone who chooses to be negative & question my work at the @WhiteHouse to take time and contribute something good & productive in their own communities,” she wrote on Twitter on Saturday, adding her anti-bullying slogan, “#BeBest.”

By the president’s own account, the coronavirus has been an education for him. He has acknowledged that “I didn’t know people died from the flu”-- tens of thousands, in fact, each year in the United States-- even though, as the Washington Post pointed out, his own grandfather died of influenza during the 1918 epidemic.

But he has credited himself with instinctive understanding of the science. “I like this stuff. I really get it,” he said at the C.D.C. on Friday. “People are surprised that I understand it. Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”

Mr. Trump rejected criticism of the slow distribution of test kits, framing it in terms evoking his battle against impeachment. “The tests are all perfect,” he told reporters, “like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect, right?”-- a reference to the rough transcript of his telephone call with Ukraine’s president that led to his own impeachment for abuse of power.

The president’s less-than-perfect pronouncements, however, left public health officials straining to reconcile them on the Sunday talk shows. Asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” about a White House aide’s assertion that the coronavirus had been “contained,” Dr. Jerome M. Adams, the surgeon general, said: “Well, this is a novel virus. It’s a new situation. And the messaging, quite frankly, is hard.”

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also appeared to walk back the president’s claim that “anyone who wants a test can get a test,” saying on Fox News Sunday that it would actually be up to a doctor.

Mr. Trump has become such a polarizing figure that even when he is not necessarily wrong, many do not trust him. On Sean Hannity’s Fox News show last week, he called the World Health Organization’s estimated fatality rate of 3.4 percent “a false number,” saying “my hunch” was that it would be under 1 percent. It sounded as if he were substituting his uneducated “hunch” for the judgment of professionals.

But in fact, he was reflecting what he had been told by health experts, including Dr. Fauci and Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the C.D.C. director, who have concluded that once the full scope of unreported infections is known, the number of deaths will most likely represent a smaller share, possibly “considerably less than” 1 percent. The W.H.O. has also said the rate may fall.

Still, at his appearance at the C.D.C., Mr. Trump had no explanation for why his White House shut down the Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense established at the National Security Council in 2016 by President Barack Obama after the 2014 Ebola outbreak, stammering to suggest the coronavirus had been a surprise.

“Well, I just don’t think-- I just don’t think that somebody is going to-- without seeing something, like we saw something happening in China,” Mr. Trump said. “As soon as they saw that happening, they essentially-- not from the White House. I mean, you know, we don’t need a lab in the White House. But they saw something happening.”

Elizabeth Cameron set up the global health security directorate at the White House for Mr. Obama before turning it over to Rear Adm. R. Timothy Ziemer, who ran it for Mr. Trump until May 2018, when he was pushed out and the directorate folded into other parts of the National Security Council. Had it still been around, it would have been charged with preparing for exactly the situation now facing the country.

“I think it would have made a difference,” Ms. Cameron said on Sunday. “Monitoring and preparing for every eventuality and having a person and a directorate accountable for that is really important and could have been important in this case.”
Politico's Nancy Cook noted that some on Team Trumpanzee "are talking up the opportunity to finally achieve stricter border security, wider tax cuts and reduced reliance on Chinese manufacturing amid the spread of the coronavirus throughout the U.S. Some officials see it as a narrow opening to offset the political damage from the coronavirus outbreak and deliver-- or at least, talk about-- some of the president’s longstanding promises... Shutting down borders or cutting taxes would not halt the spread of the virus, which is now being spread person-to-person within the U.S. and which scientists are still struggling to understand. The ideas, however, are central to Trump’s popularity with his base heading his 2020 re-election race, and the outbreak gives both the president and his top aides a new space to re-introduce their favorite approaches amid the uncertainty." And, right on cue, the banksters-- may they all catch it and die-- are demanding deregulation to fight coronavirus. "As coronavirus panic hits the U.S., a financial lobbying group is attempting to use the crisis to push through the deregulation of its industry. The Bank Policy Institute (BPI), a Washington-based lobbying organization representing many of the nation’s largest banks, released a set of proposals this week, the most important of which recommends that the Federal Reserve lower capital requirements to zero. This would mean banks could lend an unlimited amount without having any assets or wealth to back it up. It also advocated relaxing the so-called 'stress tests' that force banks to show that they can withstand economic shocks. This, it claims, would help America fight the COVID-19 virus. The report’s lead author was BPI CEO Greg Baer, former Managing Director of JP Morgan Chase. The recommendations have been condemned as incoherent and 'transparently opportunistic' by Jeremy Krass of the University of Michigan School of Business. 'The whole idea of capital requirements and stress-testing banks is to make sure they have enough cushion to absorb losses' in a period of economic crisis, Kress told the Washington Post. Now that the economy has gone into a sudden shock, Wall Street wants those regulations lifted."

Rumors are rampant in Iran that all the top mullahs and ayatollahs have flown to Kish, a remote island in the Persian Gulf, and that all commercial flights to the island have been cancelled. Washington Post reporters Felicia Sonmez, Kim Bellware and Juliet Eilperin wrote about the worldwide freakout, noting that "uncertainty continued to permeate the response effort, amid muddled directives from the Trump administration and reports of some patients unable to access testing.

"The government of Iran is being as dishonest-- and incompetent-- about the pandemic as Trump is. And now Iran's government is reaping what it was sewn. The Atlantic reported yesterday that the coronavirus is killing members of the government, including higher-ups. "Soon we learned of three other senior officials who not only contracted the virus but were killed by it: Mohammad Mirmohammadi, a member of a senior advisory council to Iran's supreme leader, and Hossein Sheikholeslam and Hadi Khosrowshahi, both former high-level diplomats. Mohammad Sadr, another member of the council, announced his infection last week, as did Ebtekar’s fellow cabinet member Reza Rahmani. Recently, the speaker of parliament said 23 of his fellow members of parliament had tested positive. Two of them, Mohammad Ali Ramezani (February 29) and Fatemeh Rehber (March 7), have died."

I'm assuming that the Iranian officials dying are old. You know were else there are tons of deadwood old officials? THat's right, DC. And it's isn't just AIPAC and CPAC members who are scared out of their wits. I'm hearing that Pelosi is looking for consensus to shut down Congress, maybe as soon as this week. (Why bother? It's already too late.) NBC's Kasie Hunt and Alex Moe reported over the weekend on personal congressional anxiety. "'Members are very nervous,' a senior Democratic leadership aide said. 'There's a lot of concern that members could bring it home.' Another source said members from districts and states where the virus is spreading are also concerned about being able to remain at home to help handle the crisis."

NBC reported that members are pressuring Pelosi about a recess but I was told by one of Pelosi's congressional allies two weeks ago, that Pelosi had been working on a recess in late February, although "some members were urging Congress to stay the course to "show leadership in a time of great anxiety" and conduct oversight of the Trump administration's response.
Members should "follow the very advice we're giving the country: wash our hands, avoid contact with anyone exhibiting symptoms, stay home if we're sick and ensure our staffs are doing the same," one lawmaker told NBC News.

But the virus is spreading rapidly, and the first case in Washington, D.C., was announced Saturday night.

The Capitol building is open to scheduled public tours-- tourists travel from all over the world to visit, and the Capitol Hill office buildings are open to members of the public, who can freely walk the hallways as long as they pass through a basic magnetometer screening.

Pelosi so far has been careful not to sound alarmist and has continued to rely on the advice of the Capitol physician in making decisions about the grounds. The top four congressional leaders in both parties-- Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Pelosi and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)-- met with top Capitol building staff to discuss the coronavirus last week.

Pelosi told reporters Thursday: "You cannot test everybody who comes in the front door of the Capitol. [You actually can-- and should.]

"It is unreasonable and probably in some ways not focused enough on what needs to be focused on," she said, adding that the office of the Capitol physician would be making the decisions on protocols.

Congress as a whole could be more susceptible to dangerous symptoms of the coronavirus than the public in general. Sixty-six senators are over age 60-- two-thirds of the body-- with more than a quarter over 70. The average age of House members is 57.6 years, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Many members "are concerned, particularly older members and a number who have conditions that make them more susceptible," a source said.
The stock market opening was scary yesterday-- down 7%-- but imagine how much scarier it will be when announcements are made that some elderly famous people have died-- especially politicians. 37 members of Congress were born before 1945, making them over 75 years old. Here are the half dozen oldest:
Don Young (R-AK)- 87
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)- 87
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)- 87
Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI)- 87
Richard Shelby (R-AL)- 86
James Inhofe (R-OK)- 86
How would Congress go on without them? I asked a few of the sharpest minds running for Congress this cycle. Lauren Ashcraft, the New York City progressive taking on Carolyn Maloney in a district that spans parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens told me that "Coronavirus exposes all of the holes in our system that risk our lives for profit.  Only 10 states have sick leave laws. People work through illnesses so they don’t lose their homes. Uninsured people seeking testing or treatment for coronavirus will get massive hospital bills. We don’t have enough care providers, because people are afraid of accumulating 6 figures of student debt. We deserve better, and in order to get there, we need to elect people-powered representatives who fight and advocate for us rather than just co-sponsor bills."

Goal ThermometerShe's right-- and she's going to get nothing but support from Arizona progressive Eva Putzova. "In the face of the coronavirus threat," Eva told me this morning, "it is clearer than ever that we need universal healthcare like the expanded Medicare for All. People need to have full access to medical care without having to worry about cost. We also need universal paid sick leave for all workers so they can stay at home without fear of losing their jobs. Otherwise people will go to work even if they are infected and spread the virus to others. Finally, we need a new President and a new Congress that believes in science, fully funds public health research, and does not cater to corporate interests who are only concerned with profit at the expense of human lives."

McKayla Wilkes, the progressive taking on Steny Hoyer in southern Maryland, has been talking with voters about this pandemic and how badly the Trump regime has responded-- but its a symptom of a systemic problem as well. "While Trump has certainly botched the COVID-19 virus response," she told me today, "the slow devolution of our healthcare system has been a multi-decade project. Insurance industry, pharmaceutical companies, and private hospitals run on razor-thin profit margins, and are in a position to deny care if there is no financial incentive to do so. Unfortunately politicians like my opponent Steny Hoyer have, over time, given these companies the keys to our healthcare system. Vaccines, protective wear, and even hand sanitizer, is rationed to those who can afford it, as opposed to those who need it."

Rachel Ventura also feels that the outbreak "exemplifies why the U.S. needs a Medicare for All system so those who get sick can go to the doctor and receive the treatment they need, or be quarantined so as not to infect others. Additionally, it illustrates why we need paid medical leave or standardized sick days so people who get sick can afford to take a few days off of work. Under the current system a person could contract the coronavirus and go to work in the fast food industry or a clerk position and potentially infect hundreds of other people before their 8-hour work shift is over. Often times the short-sighted conservative mindset is one that worries about self interest without worrying about the good of the community as a whole. The COVID-19 outbreak demonstrates why it is important to consider the community as a whole and the health of our community. If one of us gets sick, we could all get sick. Lastly, Congress has allocated 8 billion dollars now toward the disease. Over $300 million will be used to make a vaccine. Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and Inovio race to create a vaccine and rake in profits, whereas Bernie Sanders has called for the vaccine to be free to the public. If tax dollars are subsidizing the vaccine then it should be available at no cost. We must have a system to incentivizes being healthy and not one that focuses on profits from the sick." She continued:
It is unfortunate that Donald Trump has categorized the two most serious modern crises, the climate crisis and now the COVID-19 outbreak as hoaxes. Scientists have been warning about the outbreak for over a month now and a recent report shows that we won’t have the facilities or staff to handle the crisis. The 700 vacancies at the CDC from Trump’s hiring freeze only worsen the situation.

According to Dr. Specht, a biologist and engineer who serves as the director of science and technology for The Good Food Institute, we could be out of hospital beds and protective masks by May 8th. This outbreak if not contained could turn into a large-scale pandemic that puts Americans from all walks of life at risk. With an adequately funded Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Medicare for All System, the United States would be better suited to combat the growing epidemic.
Jim Harper, a progressive Democrat running in the blue district near Chicago, noted that "At every turn, Trump works to undermine confidence in government and handcuff government's ability to confront big problems. This crisis shows why we need strong institutions and leadership, and, of course, the President and his enablers in Congress are derelict in their duties. Lives are at stake, but Trump is far more concerned with the stock market than supporting our public health infrastructure. His behavior is immoral and shameful."

Shahid Buttar, the progressive who emerged from California's jungle primary as the alternative to Pelosi, told us that "Trump’s approach to the coronavirus has been to bury his head in the sand and continue his habit of answering any question with lies. Rather than blithely dismiss its potential impacts, a responsible leader would have started by ensuring that immigrants could access healthcare without fearing ICE deportation-- to prevent accelerating contagion, if not to advance civil rights. Short of universal healthcare, the administration could also make emergency funds available to ensure that Americans suffering symptoms can get tested. Supporting paid family and sick leave would also help protect public health by keeping sick people out of the workplace, and settings where their dedication to feed their families currently places their neighbors at risk."

Queens New Dem Greg Meeks doesn't rock any boats as long as his payoffs keep coming in. His progressive opponent, Shaniyat Chowdhury, is the opposite-- no corruption/lots of boat shaking. "While Trump continues to ignore the pandemic of the coronavirus," he told us this morning, "we should be talking about this being all the reason why Medicare for All is very important. It costs thousands of dollars to even get tested for the virus. The people who are most likely to get the virus are seniors. Joe Biden was on MSNBC last night, saying he would veto Medicare for All even with bipartisan support. Both him and Trump want to cut Social Security. They do not want seniors to have health care covered for vision, hearing, or dental. The only candidate who wants to guarantee health care so everyone can see a doctor, is Bernie Sanders. We need to elect someone who will work in the interest of the American people and not the health insurance CEO’s."

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At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if Pelosi wanted MFA, and she does NOT, now would be the opportunity to propose it -- to prevent bankruptcies and losses of homes among those who cannot afford to pay for care oop and/or who cannot afford adequate insurance.

AOC should be saying this right the fuck now.

Why is nobody saying this? I get why the Nazis aren't. I don't understand why the democraps don't. I mean after all, don't all you DEMOCRAP VOTERS think that electing biden to work with Pelosi and scummer means MFA is just around the corner?
I bet you thought that $hillbillary would "git 'er dun" too.

65 million at the very bottom of the gene pool is who we must rely upon to pick our leadershit!

At 6:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happens, you ask? Really?

Alan Grayson already answered this.

At 7:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When old American fascist and nazi officials start croaking from the virus, other old American fascist and Nazis will take their place, naturally.

American voters will insist upon it. as they've done for my entire lifetime.


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