November 25, 2020 / by 

 

October COVID Surprise: So Much Bullshit, So Little Time [UPDATE-4]

Here’s a new post because the last post’s comment thread is now unwieldy, and there’s more fresh bullshit to wade through.

I have been wading through a bunch of material but don’t have anything ready for publication. Community members still need some white space in which to discuss the latest Trump bullshit.

Have at it — I’ll add content here shortly with any future updates to follow at the bottom of this post.

~ ~ ~

Trump’s little joy ride this evening did himself no favors. His body’s under huge stress and he doesn’t appear to recognize this, even if the Regeneron multi-antibody therapy is working.

There’s a dearth of news about that antibody cocktail’s success under compassionate use with other COVID patients. Regeneron released information about a study in which 275 out of a total 1100 participants received this therapy.

What’s weird about the antibody cocktail is that they didn’t release a study with data but a goddamned press release on Tuesday September 29, at 4:01 p.m.

Conveniently one minute after market close but before the debate, and potentially after some persons in the White House knew they were COVID-positive.

The steroid Trump received — dexamethasone — was the next appropriate step in the protocol for COVID based on Trump’s depleted oxygen levels, which means the antibody cocktail wasn’t working as quickly or as well as needed.

Dexamethasone would have been dispensed because Trump’s oxygen level fell substantially; when asked, Conley said his level had not fallen into the low 80s — a level which would be cyanotic. This means Trump’s O2 probably did fall to 85% and likely needed oxygen and the steroid to prevent cyanosis.

A study this summer showed this steroid helps some patients:

RESULTS
A total of 2104 patients were assigned to receive dexamethasone and 4321 to receive usual care. Overall, 482 patients (22.9%) in the dexamethasone group and 1110 patients (25.7%) in the usual care group died within 28 days after randomization (age-adjusted rate ratio, 0.83; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.75 to 0.93; P<0.001). The proportional and absolute between-group differences in mortality varied considerably according to the level of respiratory support that the patients were receiving at the time of randomization. In the dexamethasone group, the incidence of death was lower than that in the usual care group among patients receiving invasive mechanical ventilation (29.3% vs. 41.4%; rate ratio, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.51 to 0.81) and among those receiving oxygen without invasive mechanical ventilation (23.3% vs. 26.2%; rate ratio, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.72 to 0.94) but not among those who were receiving no respiratory support at randomization (17.8% vs. 14.0%; rate ratio, 1.19; 95% CI, 0.91 to 1.55).

CONCLUSIONS
In patients hospitalized with Covid-19, the use of dexamethasone resulted in lower 28-day mortality among those who were receiving either invasive mechanical ventilation or oxygen alone at randomization but not among those receiving no respiratory support.

Source: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2021436

But Trump is NOT receiving respiratory support consistently based on yesterday’s photos and proof-of-life video, this evening’s his stunt ride as well as the sketchy information his physicians have given. The steroid would not be as beneficial to him as it would be to patients on ventilators.

To my knowledge Trump’s physicians have already shot their COVID arsenal. If Trump has additional difficulty breathing he’ll likely be put under anesthesia into an induced coma and intubated. If he gets to that point he won’t have a choice about it because his low oxygen level could cause a cascade of organ failures — a crash.

We can deduce his lungs are compromised because of Dr. Conley’s hedging about their appearance (“There’s some expected findings, but nothing of any major clinical concern,” he said).

It’s likely Trump’s being monitored for cardiac symptoms given the use of ultrasound and the frequency with which COVID causes myocarditis. We can’t rule out the possibility Trump had cardiac symptoms when he went on an unscheduled visit to Walter Reed last November which may mean he’s at greater risk of myocarditis.

And it’s likely Trump’s got some degree of COVID brain as well, which the steroid will make worse — he’ll have cloudy thinking but with mania. A number of doctors from different fields have expressed concerns about dexamethasone’s affect on Trump’s capacity given the possibility of mania, delirium/confusion while under its influence.

We don’t even know yet if Trump has been free of fever without antipyretic medication.

I’m not a doctor, but none of this suggests to me that Trump will be ready to be released from Walter Reed tomorrow, joy ride or not.

Any future updates to follow at the bottom of this post.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 10:00 A.M. 05-OCT-2020 —

The cover-up continues. One of the White House correspondents, Michael D. Shear, has tested positive for COVID-19 and is now disclosing the White House has not made any effort to reach out to him as part of contact tracing. (Open pic link below to launch tweeted video clip of interview with Shear.)

There has been no mention of the White House or members of the Centers for Disease Control reaching out to anyone else who was in attendance at the Barrett ‘Rose Garden Massacre’ where it’s believed more than a couple people were infected.

As Marcy noted in Twitter, it looks increasingly like Trump was infected on Thursday or Friday, 24-25 September, and that he may be responsible for a number of the cases associated with the Barrett ‘Rose Garden Massacre’.

But this also means Trump was infectious at the debate and may have knowingly attempted to infect his opponent, Joe Biden.

Melania also tested positive and was the only family Trump family member to wear a mask, though she did so while seated in the audience and not while on the debate stage upon Trump’s entrance. Was she told not to wear a mask on stage not only because Trump is anti-mask but because Trump wanted to increase the viral load on the stage?

This isn’t just a case of indifference like that Trump showed yesterday by taking a joy ride in the presidential limousine, forcing Secret Service personnel into a hermetically-sealed vessel in which they could not escape any of his aerosolized exhalation which may have escaped his mask.

It’s a deliberate effort to avoid handling the COVID-19 outbreak surrounding Trump, and a deliberate effort to hurt the election process by biological assault against an opposing candidate.

Back in April when the White House COVID-19 Task Force was working on a national plan to respond to the pandemic, there was a pointed effort not to roll out a national plan:

… Against that background, the prospect of launching a large-scale national plan was losing favor, said one public health expert in frequent contact with the White House’s official coronavirus task force.

Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.

That logic may have swayed Kushner. “It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what [plan] was going to come out,” the expert said….

It was Kushner’s political calculus, with Trump’s implicit imprimatur, to allow Americans in blue states to sicken and to die without testing or other federal public health assistance because their states didn’t support Trump.

Who is responsible for the political calculus to allow members of Congress, White House staff and correspondents, Trump campaign team members, spouses and children, to be exposed to COVID-19 without any attempt to trace the source of the infection, to avoid making Trump look bad?

Any future updates to follow at the bottom of this post.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-2 — 11:00 A.M. 05-OCT-2020 —

Uh-huh.

Reported through a Murdoch-owned outlet:

WASHINGTON—President Trump didn’t disclose a positive result from a rapid test for Covid-19 on Thursday while awaiting the findings from a more thorough coronavirus screening, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Trump received a positive result on Thursday evening before making an appearance on Fox News in which he didn’t reveal those results. Instead, he confirmed earlier reports that one of his top aides had tested positive for coronavirus and mentioned the second test he had taken that night for which he was awaiting results.

“I’ll get my test back either tonight or tomorrow morning,” Mr. Trump said during the interview. At 1 a.m. on Friday, the president tweeted that he indeed had tested positive.

Who are those “persons familiar with the matter” — Kushner? Others who’ve been covering Trump’s ass as well as their own because they have a vested interest in not getting embroiled in lawsuits or investigations?

Meanwhile,

We’ve seen feedback leaking out across Twitter indicating staff and their network are very unhappy with how the White House has handled this outbreak and Trump’s joy ride which risked the health of Secret Service agents for a campaign stunt.

How do we reconcile what WSJ reported when other details don’t stack up and staffers are fearful and unhappy?

Any future updates to follow at the bottom of this post.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-3 — 11:30 A.M. 05-OCT-2020 —

By the way, lest we forget: as of this update there have been 209,603 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S.

The country is on track to exceed 210,000 deaths from COVID-19 within the next 24-48 hours.

There were an estimated +618,756 new cases this past week, compared to less than 1,000 around the Pacific Rim countries.

I think I predicted 200,000 deaths by Election Day. I guess I was wrong, putting too much faith in state governments and in Americans to take the right measures to protect themselves since the Trump administration is intent on failing them.

The cherry on top of this disaster: Team Trump is now attacking Joe Biden for not having COVID-19 — utter insanity.

Any future updates to follow at the bottom of this post.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-4 — 11:40 A.M. 05-OCT-2020 —

I wish somebody could shut down this firehose.

Press Secretary McEnany attacked the media yesterday.

She should have self-isolated after being in contact with multiple infected persons but no. She deliberately attacked the press by exposing them to a biological agent during her maskless briefing.

I mean we’ve seen some hacks come and go as press secretary but I don’t recall any of them being this malicious with the people who are the reason they have a job at all.

Any future updates to follow at the bottom of this post.

~ ~ ~


October Surprise: Didn’t Have COVID-19 on the Bingo Card [UPDATE-2]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! Updates, if any, will appear at the bottom of the post. / ~Rayne]

So…back on August 22, I asked folks to offer their best bets on what Team Trump would pull for an October Surprise given the long history of such election gaming in American presidential politics.

I suspected Team Trump would try to force both the Durham investigation to announce a skewed finding, and development of a COVID-19 vaccine through testing and approval by some time in October.

But I didn’t have Trump testing positive for COVID-19 on the bingo card of possible surprises.

Only one community member, Terrapin, saw that as a possibility (and not with a good outcome).

But after all the squirrelly reporting around Hope Hicks’ positive test earlier on Thursday, it wasn’t clear when Trump and his wretched wife were tested and with what kind of test.

Is this being gamed, too?

Trump managed to shoot himself in the foot politically again by blaming military personnel as the source of Hicks’ infection:

… Trump suggested Hicks could have contracted it from members of the military or law enforcement.

“It is very, very hard when you are with people from the military, or from law enforcement, and they come over to you, and they want to hug you, and they want to kiss you because we really have done a good job for them,” the president said. “You get close, and things happen. I was surprised to hear with Hope, but she is a very warm person with them. She knows there’s a risk, but she is young.” …

Exposure to COVID-19 didn’t cause that kind of stupid.

The situation is annoying no matter how much anyone may like/dislike Trump. He’s still the White House’s occupant, still the president and commander-in-chief even if the means by which he came to those roles has been in question since day one. The American people deserve better transparency about the health of the person occupying the White House and whether he is or isn’t incapacitated at any time.

The other challenge before us: After mocking his opponent for wearing a mask, Trump was on stage this week with Joe Biden, and neither wore masks during their debate. Trump spent a lot of time pushing aerosols as he spoke and may have been contagious.

A whole host of other problematic scenarios emerge:

The October Surprise may be one we never thought of or planned for in August.

What other fresh surprises should we expect this month before the election?

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 12:00 P.M. 02-OCT-2020 —

No, fuck no. This Brit needs to do some basic research, like reading the U.S. Constitution before flapping off like this.

Trump tried to float this same lead balloon back in April. Not going to happen; that’s why he attacked the U.S. Post Office to damage its capacity to handle ballots on a timely basis.

Rick Hasen has already written about the possibility Trump leaves office due to illness or death before the election, and how that might be handled.

LOL GMTA

Just wish I knew how they’re going to wrap up this season — will it be a series finale?

Would be nice to know how to hedge this. My retirement fund is getting seasickness from all the ups and downs.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 7:00 P.M. 02-OCT-2020 —

Trump has been taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. His doctor says he’s been given Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody infusion — a drug cocktail which is still in testing phase. Earlier reports said Trump was running a low grade temperature.

Look, it’s time for media people to do a better job of reporting by which I mean GET THE TIMELINE OF EVENTS.

Did the temperature come on before/after going to Walter Reed?

Was the infusion administered before/after going to Walter Reed?

Do you see what I’m getting at?

Going through Twitter I can piece together part of the answers:

Mid-day — Trump did not attend a conference call for which he was scheduled; VP Pence attended in his place a planned discussion about COVID-19 support for at-risk seniors.

4:11 p.m. — Press Sec McEnany released via Twitter a copy of a memo from Trump’s physician, Sean P. Conley. Conley wrote that Trump received the Regeneron infusion as a precautionary measure.

4:18 p.m. — NBC News reported President Trump has a low-grade fever.

5:19 p.m. — CNN reported Trump would be transported to Walter Reed.

6:17 p.m. — CNN’s Jim Acosta reported Trump didn’t take questions as he walked to helicopter Marine One.

Based on what little I pulled together, it looks like Trump received an experimental drug administered by IV at the White House, that he continued to experience symptoms typical of COVID-19 including a temperature, and that he was then moved to Walter Reed.

Something is still missing in this tick-tock. Why did the President of the United States receive an experimental drug? When was it administered today, or was it administered last night before/immediately after the positive test was reported? Why was he moved to Walter Reed after the infusion rather than before it was administered?

Were they waiting for the goddamned market to close before they revealed he received this drug therapy? Or that they decided to move him to Walter Reed?

Pay attention to the timing.

And note the black holes: there’s no mention of hydroxychloroquine, no mention of Gilead’s remdesivir (though this may not be administered this early in the illness and only to more seriously ill patients).


2020 Presidential Debates: Station Hope [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Update at bottom of post. /~Rayne]

I’m putting up a post so community members can hash out the first of three presidential debates.

This one is located in Cleveland, Ohio, which was code named “Station Hope” by the Underground Railroad during the mid-1800s.

The entire day has been rife with bullshit rumormongering among the right-wing monkey horde, which claims Democratic candidate and former VP Joe Biden will use an earpiece for prompts by others as well as performance enhancing drugs.

Sure sounds like a lot of projection to me.

Trump’s campaign has already jumped the gun and sent out a fundraising email before 5:37 p.m. EDT claiming he’s won the debate which doesn’t start until 8:00 p.m. CDT (I’m writing this at 8:00 p.m. EDT).

Joe and his team are taking this all in stride.

Do open the graphic. The right-wing horde has gotten their panties in a twist about $12-13/pint ice cream, failing to take the time to check its provenance. It’s made by a woman-founded ice creamery headquartered in Columbus with a scoop shop in Chagrin, Ohio just east of Cleveland, with pints available in many Cleveland-area grocery stores.

Way to go, MAGAts. Good luck winning over more women and small businesses.

Anyhow…a list of online streams is available at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLU12uITxBEPFAvcROsHJwIopn-Q-FMTSp

Fox is hosting which is a joke given their role in spreading disinformation today about Biden.

CNN’s Daniel Dale will be doing a real time fact check which Fox is apparently incapable of doing. Best wishes to Dale who will surely be exhausted at the end of the debate; he’s the best Canadian import we have next to Molson.

Best of luck to you all. I will check in later; I simply don’t have the patience for Trump’s lies while the U.S. has now lost 205,591 Americans as of this evening to COVID-19 because Trump’s such a useless fraud.

~ ~ ~

EDIT: Mark these dates on your calendar for the next two presidential debates —

Thursday, October 15, 2020 9:00–10:30 p.m. ET
Location: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami, Florida
Moderator: Steve Scully, C-SPAN

Thursday, October 22, 2020 8:00–9:30 p.m. ET
Location: Curb Event Center at Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee
Moderator: Kristen Welker, NBC

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 11:45 P.M. ET —

Jumpin’ Jehosaphat, what a spectacular waste of time and a massive national embarrassment. Trump has all the manners and grace of a toddler who’s missed his lunch and his nap, and yet he has all the maliciousness of an old man with permanent grudges.

Van Jones, who has been on board with Trump, may have had the scales removed from his eyes tonight:

I don’t know what took Jones so damned long to realize that Trump is a white supremacist who intends to keep his grip on power illegitimately and with the support of white supremacist terror groups.

The media isn’t taking this debate well, either. Many of them realize that Trump couldn’t be reined in even if Fox’s Chris Wallace had tried harder because Trump was intent on venting his meanness. Any one of them in Wallace’s shoes would have had difficulty salvaging any of the debate because Trump has no respect for the media if they aren’t kissing his ass.

Joan Donovan of the Shorenstein Center has an important message for the media, though:

Don’t give white supremacists a platform. Doing so lends them legitimacy. It’s bad enough Trump had one tonight which he used to ask them to stand by — in essence, calling to armed preparedness a seditious entity.

It’s past time to discuss both the illegitimacy of Trump’s power and the threat of seditious insurrection if he loses to Biden in an effort to prevent the peaceful transition of power.

Two more debates seem useless at this point, don’t they?


185,963

Here’s the topic Donald Trump and the Republican Party are doing everything they can to avoid:

It’s also the single biggest reason not to vote for Donald Trump.

I think Drew Gibson put it best in a tweet today:

The White House can put all the spin on their “Zapuder tape” they want. It won’t change the fact we can see they are killing us through police brutality and COVID-19.

It won’t change the fact Joe Biden was welcomed in Kenosha by community leaders, spoke with shooting victim Jacob Blake and met with Blake’s family — none of which insensitive racist Trump could bring himself to do.

It won’t change the fact Trump failed to boost U.S. manufacturing as he promised in 2016. Instead he set off an unnecessary trade war implementing tariffs which not only inflated consumer prices in the U.S., damaged demand for U.S. commodities, but encouraged the burning of Amazon rain forest for farmland in Brazil, which sold more soybeans to China.

It won’t change the fact that the Trump administration still has no effective response to COVID-19, allowing states to continue to fight on their own as more a thousand Americans die each day from the disease. At this rate 300,000 Americans will die of COVID-19 this year.

It won’t change the fact that no one in their right mind sees the Trump administration’s politicized hyper-speed development of a COVID-19 vaccine as anything more than a ploy for re-election purposes.

It won’t change the fact that +30% of college football players who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 developed myocarditis which may inhibit their ability to play in college and professionally — and none of this had to happen had Trump done his job.

It won’t change the fact the Trump administration and the GOP senate are allowing children to go hungry, ignoring mounting food insecurity and growing numbers of  unemployed with 1.6 million new claims filed this week.

It won’t change the fact that evictions and foreclosures are creating another crisis surpassing that of 2007-2009.

But keep spinning, Kelly McEnany. Maybe you’ll survive the failed Trump years and earn yourself a gig spinning numbers for a TV game show as your next gig.

This is an open thread.
.
UPDATE-1 — 6:15 P.M. ET —

Wonder what the White House will do next to hide this?

This is bad. I wonder if they’ll care, though, since they’ve fucked up the U.S. Postal Service so badly overseas military votes may not get counted in a timely fashion.

We should be pounding on Esper to help active duty military to vote.

.
UPDATE-2 — 8:00 A.M. ET FRIDAY —

Oh, not good. Media have been arguing about sourcing behind Jeffrey Goldberg’s piece in The Atlantic. AP verified some, and Washington Post followed up as well. But WaPo’s team published a piece which is just as blistering as Goldberg’s.

See Trump said U.S. soldiers injured and killed in war were ‘losers,’ magazine reports

We still aren’t told who the sources are but my money is on Jim Mattis being one of them. Goldberg wrote a piece on Mattis in June in which Mattis took a stick to Trump.

See James Mattis Denounces President Trump, Describes Him as a Threat to the Constitution

Twitter was flooded with condemnation of Trump after yesterday’s piece in The Atlantic; Team Trump sent out a horde of proxies like Sarah Huckabee Sanders to swat it down.

Not certain who’ll believe her.


Three Things: Breathing, Thinking, Mating and COVID-19

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Breathing, thinking, mating.

At least one of these three things are important to you, no matter your age. COVID-19 can affect one or more of them, and we don’t yet know to what extent.

More importantly, it’s not getting through to the general public that COVID-19 can affect one or more of infected persons’ lungs, brain, and reproductive organs even if they are young, not to mention their heart and vascular system.

And by young I mean students in school, whether K-12 or tertiary (college/university) education.

~ ~ 3 ~ ~

But first, let’s talk about bad assumptions and biases.

We’ve heard since the earliest media reports from China that COVID-19 affected the lungs. It was characterized as a “pneumonia-like illness,” and unfortunately this characterization limited the public’s earliest perceptions of the disease.

“Pneumonia-like illness” allowed misinformation and disinformation to flourish — it’s just another flu, the propagandists propelled, ignoring the much greater mortality rate and the insufficient data about SARS-CoV-2’s transmissibility.

The health care system geared itself toward treating a “pneumonia-like illness,” demanding ventilators when ventilators might be fine for pneumonia, but might pose new risks with a disease like COVID-19. Health care workers performing endotracheal intubation, extubation, noninvasive ventilation were and are exposed to aerosolized virus material, requiring much greater rigor in personal protection due to these aerosol-generating procedures and the volume of virus they are exposed to each shift.

Even with increasing awareness that personal protection must be stepped up for COVID-19 as compared to influenza, hospitals still don’t have a handle on infection control. The Wall Street Journal reported:

“…Researchers at University of Nebraska Medical Center found the coronavirus in hallway air outside negative-pressure Covid-19 rooms. The Omaha hospital revamped its ventilation system to protect people in hallways by creating negative air flow there, too. …”

Existing negative air pressure rooms — Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms (AIIR) — might have been enough for influenza. It’s clearly not when 5,000 cases of COVID-19 may be related to inadequate infection controls in hospital settings in spite of like that used in dedicated COVID-19 treatment rooms. Hospitals would have changed their infection control protocols long ago had they seen nosocomial transmission of flu within hospitals approaching the rate of transmission with COVID-19, but perhaps the health care system has relied too heavily on annual flu vaccinations. Perhaps nosocomial transmission of flu and other pneumonia-like illness would have been much higher without vaccinations, revealing how flawed existing infection controls have been.

Our health care systems too slowly recognized COVID-19 isn’t like influenza or a pneumonia-like illness. It’s far more insidious. It’s now cost at least 600 health care workers their lives.

In addition to flawed assumptions, bias has also screwed up screening for COVID-19. Many of our community members know of people who were denied tests for COVID-19 because they didn’t meet certain criteria; one of the early criteria was whether the subject had traveled to China or been in contact with anyone who had been to China. Trump and his xenophobic followers have continued to exacerbate bias with racist framing of COVID-19.

Except that many cases of COVID-19 can be traced to Europe. It can be seen in the emergence and dominance of the G-lineage of the virus versus the D-lineage which was first common along the west coast. Everyone who had any one of the symptoms identified by China should have been tested for COVID-19, no matter where they had been or with whom they had been in contact.

I can’t begin to think about the number of lives which could have been saved had this country launched effective testing more widely, in concert with quarantine. But we didn’t in no small part because of limited, faulty thinking about COVID-19.

What other biases have similarly shaped our ability to address COVID-19 effectively?

The racist, ageist, ableist bias which informs inaction because it only negatively affects those people?

~ ~ 2 ~ ~

We still don’t know what the repercussions are for recovered COVID-19 patients, including those who were asymptomatic.

Lung damage, which initially shaped health care professionals’ treatment as if COVID-19 was a pneumonia-like illness, appears to be long term.

Drillinger, M., Chesak, J. (fact checker) (2020, June 22). Lifelong Lung Damage: A Serious COVID-19 Complication. Retrieved July 27, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health-news/lifelong-lung-damage-the-serious-covid-19-complication-that-can-hit-people-in-their-20s

Damage was also seen in lungs of infected individuals who appeared to be asymptomatic or only mildly ill with COVID-19.

Prevalence of Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infection
Daniel P. Oran and Eric J. Topol
Annals of Internal Medicine, Reviews 3 Jun 2020
https://doi.org/10.7326/M20-3012

But it’s not just patients’ lungs affected; more than 36% of COVID-19 patients had neurological impairment.

Mao L, Jin H, Wang M, et al. Neurologic Manifestations of Hospitalized Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Wuhan, China. JAMA Neurol. 2020;77(6):683–690. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/2764549

Delirium, brain inflammation, stroke, and nerve damage occurred as well as a rare condition, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) — an inflammatory disorder which is sometimes fatal.

R W Paterson, R L Brown, L Benjamin et al, The emerging spectrum of COVID-19 neurology: clinical, radiological and laboratory findings, Brain, awaa240, Published: 08 July 2020
https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awaa240
https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408

The virus causes heart damage, even in patients who had no pre-existing cardiac disease:

In this global survey, cardiac abnormalities were observed in half of all COVID-19 patients undergoing echocardiography. Abnormalities were often unheralded or severe, and imaging changed management in one-third of patients.

Marc R Dweck, Anda Bularga, Rebecca T Hahn, Rong Bing, Kuan Ken Lee, Andrew R Chapman, Audrey White, Giovanni Di Salvo, Leyla Elif Sade, Keith Pearce, David E Newby, Bogdan A Popescu, Erwan Donal, Bernard Cosyns, Thor Edvardsen, Nicholas L Mills, Kristina Haugaa, Global evaluation of echocardiography in patients with COVID-19, European Heart Journal – Cardiovascular Imaging, , jeaa178, https://doi.org/10.1093/ehjci/jeaa178

Abnormalities found included myocardial infarction (heart attack), myocarditis (inflammation of heart tissue), takotsubo cardiomyopathy (temporary deformation of heart chamber), as well as elevated natriuretic peptides and cardiac troponin.

Scientific American published an article this weekend which offered even more anecdotal evidence of cardiac damage from COVID-19 even in asymptomatic persons.

Autopsies of COVID-19 victims showed damage to testicles:

Yang M, et al. Pathological Findings in the Testes of COVID-19 Patients: Clinical Implications. Eur
Urol Focus (2020), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euf.2020.05.009
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405456920301449

Based on findings, not only should kidney function and hormone levels be monitored but younger men should receive fertility counseling for family planning:

Wang, S., Zhou, X., Zhang, T. et al. The need for urogenital tract monitoring in COVID-19. Nat Rev Urol 17, 314–315 (2020). Published 20 April 2020 Issue Date June 2020
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41585-020-0319-7
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41585-020-0319-7

There have been many anecdotes of patients with sequelae lasting months after their initial illness. A large enough number exist for them to form groups in social media to compare notes about their experience. As the underlying SARS-CoV-2 virus is novel, we don’t have years of experience to look back upon for trends. We can’t yet predict whether there will be lifelong disability though many patients have reported development of diabetes, kidney dysfunction, heart disease, neurological impairment which have lasted months after they were technically deemed recovered. Studies on COVID-19’s long term effects have only recently begun and may last months to years.

We also don’t know how long any immunity post-infection will last, let alone whether most individuals can expect not to be re-infected within a year of their first infection. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is a recent obvious case raising questions about immunity; he tested positive for COVID-19 a third time two weeks after testing positive the first time.

So much for Bolsonaro’s faith in hydroxychloroquine as a therapy for COVID-19.

A British study showed immunity dropping within three months after recovery:

… In the first longitudinal study of its kind, scientists analysed the immune response of more than 90 patients and healthcare workers at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS foundation trust and found levels of antibodies that can destroy the virus peaked about three weeks after the onset of symptoms then swiftly declined.

Blood tests revealed that while 60% of people marshalled a “potent” antibody response at the height of their battle with the virus, only 17% retained the same potency three months later. Antibody levels fell as much as 23-fold over the period. In some cases, they became undetectable. …

Longitudinal evaluation and decline of antibody responses in SARS-CoV-2 infection
J Seow, C Graham, B Merrick, et al
medRxiv 2020.07.09.20148429; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.07.09.20148429
https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.07.09.20148429v1

We’ve now seen cases where persons have recovered from COVID-19 only to be reinfected and sickened by a different strain. In a Hong Kong patient who had recovered in March but was reinfected during later travel to Spain, we see the problem of making assumptions based on bias about the “China flu.” COVID-19 isn’t just a single coronavirus strain originating in China.

The possibility of reinfection with different strains combined with decreasing immunity over time means reliance on “herd immunity” is foolhardy, and vaccines may not work as long as intended. Mitigating the spread of the disease remains crucial until a safe, effective, and durable vaccine has been developed, tested, and prepared for global distribution.

~ ~ 1 ~ ~

If hearts and lungs, neurological and reproductive systems are permanently affected by COVID-19 even in younger patients who may remain asymptomatic, why risk exposing children and college-age students to COVID-19 by returning them back to in-classroom schooling?

You’d think white nationalists would clue in that their precious ideal of a white power future is threatened by this virus, literally neutered by testicular damage, but no — they insist students must return to school.

Worse, they insist on sports, demanding college football right now, even though athletes have been infected, sickened, suffered heart damage, and died from COVID-19 in spite of their youth and health.

Why are we even allowing in-classroom schooling at all when there has been zero effort to fund and implement modifications to HVAC systems though we have known for months now that aerosolized exhalation in poorly-ventilated enclosed spaces is the greatest risk factor to mass infection?

The only answer seems to be in the lack of any answer at all — the choice to do nothing is a choice.

And the choice the Trump administration, GOP legislators and state governors have made is to maim and kill more Americans.

~ ~ 0 ~ ~

There’s an incredibly stupid tweet making the rounds, published by Students for Trump. They share a photo of Trump standing before burned-out buildings in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The tweet reads, “President @realDonaldTrump tours what Biden will do to America.

Most tweeters who comment remark on the idiocy of this projection: Trump stands before the wreckage he helped spur during the waning election year cycle as he runs for re-election.

I can’t help wonder if the stupidity of the tweet is a reflection of the damage exposure to COVID-19 may have already wrought on Students for Trump.

This is the future of the Republican Party: too brain damaged to recognize their reflection in the mirror.

Too impaired to recognize the self-inflicted injury, too messed up to save themselves and their future.

.

This is an open thread, though COVID-19 content is preferred.


RNCC 2020: ‘Profoundly’ WTAF

I could expend a lot of time and effort on the disgusting spectacle which was the final night of the Republican National Committee’s Convention.

I could write more about media outlets which enabled this unlawful fascist excess by failing to note how in-our-face the Trump campaign and Trump administration were in their taking of public resources for a partisan campaign.

I could write about the maskless attendees who played ‘Rona Roulette sitting cheek and jowl on the White House lawn.

But no. I’m going to say this:

That’s how many Americans died of COVID-19 over the last 24 hours. It’s likely an understatement since excess deaths have been running nearly 25% higher than those reported as COVID-19.

I’m going to say this:

recognizing all the Americans who have died because that tangerine hellbeast chose not to protect the American public because he thought it was better for his campaign to act as if the pandemic disappeared, because he listened to his incompetent Victorian doll-faced son-in-law that neglecting blue states would help his re-election.

It’ll just disappear, he’s said repeatedly about the pandemic. In his addled venal mind it already has because COVID-19 does nothing to fluff his ego. It’s just an annoyance to be brushed aside because it doesn’t help his TV ratings.

It’ll just disappear, like the tens of millions who’ve lost their jobs or are worried about losing them soon, the many who will lose their homes to eviction and foreclosure, the families struggling with food security, the children who don’t have access to internet to study from home or are in classrooms with teachers grappling with infection control with little help.

None of these Americans are visible to him because they are not his audience. They’re disrupters of his TV and approval ratings, inconveniences impeding his narcissistic supply — the fix he needs which he’ll never get from his father.

“Profoundly” he accepted his political party’s nomination tonight, unable to read the word “proudly” in his speech and really not caring about that detail. Somehow it fits.

Trump is profoundly wrong in so many ways, as is the party which owns his gross failings.

We have 67 days to work out how to safely vote this miserable waste of carbon out of office. If things continue as they have, losing 1100-1200 Americans a day to COVID-19, the death toll will increase by another 80,000 by Election Day.

If the rate remains unchanged, the total number of Americans lost to COVID-19 will nearly double by Inauguration Day.

I can’t begin to stomach the cost of human life if we do not remove him from office. The potential number of deaths is as profoundly wrong as he is.

Consider tonight’s profound farce conducted on the people’s lawn using taxpayer resources our marching orders.

It’s time to save our fellow Americans’ lives.

It’s time to take our democracy back.


Trump’s Destruction of Government Is Personal

I wanted to put up a longer post this morning addressing last night’s stream of Hatch Act violations and nepotistic displays ignored by criminal hypocrites passing for the GOP political party’s convention.

Unfortunately I have to be away from the desk for much of this morning, sorry. Feel free to use this open thread to share your observations about RNCC 2020: WTAF Round 2.

While you have at it without me I’m meeting with my elderly parents. My father has had some recent health events which have been under observation, aren’t getting better, and may need surgery.

The problem is the speed with which an elderly person with two residences — one in Florida, one in Michigan — can get the care they need during a pandemic if their health records are spread across north and south.

The physician who saw him yesterday wants records but they’re at a different location.

“Don’t mail them, whatever you have your care provider do,” they told my parents.

Now they have to wait for records in Florida, a state which is still wrestling with COVID-19 cases, to be sent to Michigan. Will they be transferred promptly and securely to this new physician in Michigan, where sorting machines have been removed and service slowed? Who knows?

My folks have been able to rely on mail to ship records back and forth for decades between residences, knowing they would arrive securely in a reasonable period of time.

But it’s not like it’s a cancer drug or insulin or some other medical resource needed expeditiously, one might think.

Imagine, though, it’s records of a heart ailment. Or a brain lesion. Or some other threat to health which if not treated appropriately might result in disability or death.

I won’t get any more specific but that’s what’s in these records which need to be shared between two entirely different, unconnected hospital systems.

U.S. Postal Service handling these records would have been just fine until this summer when Louis DeJoy took over as Postmaster General.

~ ~ ~

There’s an upside to this mess. It’s not much in that it won’t assure my dad’s health will improve.

But Donald Trump’s criminality and general fucked-up-edness has cost him two conservative voters.

My mother is FURIOUS about Trump. RABID. She makes me look like a goddamn fluffy kitten about Trump.

And this bullshit about COVID-19 being out of control was the capper for her. She’s a retired health care professional who knows all of this could have been prevented by one man had he done the job he was supposed to do.

Now, with this distrust of the mail system, at a time when she needs it most? Mom is LIVID.

I don’t dare discuss it with my dad because of his health.

I don’t dare get into detail with Mom about Trump because my god, her blood pressure.

If something worse should happen to my dad because of Trump’s screwing with government services we need, I wouldn’t put it past her to sue the ever-living fuck out of Trump appointees.

And I will help her, gladly. It’ll be the first time we’ve agreed on politics most of my adult lifetime.

~ ~ ~

This is supposed to be a government of, by, and for the people. Not for banksters, not for cronies, not for foreign adversaries who’ve compromised elements of our leadership.

It’s time to take it back to save our own lives.

It’s time to do it for the memory of 178,410 COVID-19 victims our country has lost as of this morning because of Trump.

Again, this is an open thread.


RNCC 2020: Night of a Thousand WTAFs

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! /~Rayne]

I didn’t watch the first night of the Republican National Committee’s Convention. No way am I giving the RNC any traffic via broadcast or cable TV.

I did, however, like many of you, experience it vicariously and filtered via Twitter (do click through the date links in the tweets below for full effect).

All I can say is: Holy crap, WTAF?

And this, WTAF?

I think the Republican Party left the planet without leaving a forwarding address and the grifting squatters who remain are trying to con the public into believing the GOP is still here, large and in charge.

This is totally performative, mere playacting at politics. They don’t even have a platform.

Which is what really gets my goat: the Democratic Party is fielding candidates for POTUS and VP who went through the full primary process and a raftload of debates, only to run against people who are pretending to be a political party instead of a brand of grifters.

The left is flinging hurtful shit between factions over which policy is the most effective or most popular or most ethical, while these self-medicated fronts for a transnational crime syndicate go through the motions as if this were an English-language telenovela or a Turkish romance series centered on an election.

Nikki Haley and Tim Scott both spoke tonight. I can’t recall a thing they said after these two characters performed their brand of drama. It’s kind of sad.

I am trying to maintain my sense of humor about this mess. I could only laugh when I realized the photo I wanted of Donnie Jr.’s squeeze could be obtained by searching Twitter using the term, “evita.”

I am also amused at how Twitter’s algorithm has suppressed the word “cocaine” this evening to keep it from trending. “Coked,” however, slipped through.

.

One thing I had hoped would show up in my timeline tonight:

The gloves are off, it seems.

.

This is an open thread. Bring your varying degrees of disgust to air out in thread.


Place Your Bets: What’s Trump’s October Surprise? [UPDATE-2]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! Updates will appear at the bottom of the post. / ~Rayne]

It’s become something of a American tradition — candidates pull something out of their asses in October which resets the calculus by which swing voters calibrate their darts before they aim at the board of presidential candidates.

Here are 180 years of surprises, though a few attempts aren’t squarely in October but rather late in the election season:

1840: Van Buren (D) vs. Harrison (W) — Van Buren’s fed prosecutors charged Whigs with voter fraud.

1880: Garfield (R) vs. Hancock (D) — The “Morey letter” purportedly written by Garfield implied Garfield favored Chines immigration.

1884: Cleveland (D) vs. Blaine (R) — Blaine said nothing in response to a popular bigoted preacher’s claim that Democrats promoted “rum, Romanism, and rebellion,” costing him Catholic and southern sympathizers’ votes.

1912: Taft (R) vs. Wilson (D) — Taft’s VP died a week before election day.

1920: Harding (R) vs. Cox (D) — Rumor of Harding’s “negro blood”, Roosevelt’s gays in Navy investigation.

1940: Roosevelt (D) vs. Willkie (R) — Roosevelt promoted African-American Colonel Benjamin O. Davis Sr. to brigadier general.

1964: Johnson (D) vs. Goldwater (R) — Jenkins’ gay sex scandal, Khruschev’s ouster, PRC’s first nuke test, September “Daisy” TV ad.

1968: Nixon (R) vs. Johnson (withdrew)/Humphrey (D) — Nixon undermined Johnson’s peace talks with Vietnam.

1972: Nixon (R) vs. McGovern (D) — Henry Kissinger’s “peace is at hand” remarks referring to the Vietnam war.

1980: Carter (D) vs. Reagan (R) — American hostages remained in Iran.

1992: Bush (R) vs. Clinton (D) — Caspar Weinberger’s indictment (really in June).

2000: Gore (D) vs. Bush (R) — George Bush’s drunk driving charge.

2004: Kerry (D) vs. Bush (R) — missing explosives cache, OBL tape, Saudi oil price cut, terror alerts.

2006: midterm elections — Mark Foley scandal, Saddam Hussein trial verdict.

2008: McCain (R) vs. Obama (D) — Revelation of Obama’s “illegal immigrant half-aunt” made the news.

2012: Romney (R) vs. Obama (D) — Romney’s “47%” tape was released.

2016: Clinton (D) vs. Trump (R) — “pussy grabber” tape + Wikileaks’ Podesta emails, Comey letter.

2018: midterm elections —  A “migrant caravan” materialized in Central America.

My gosh, October surprises going back as far as the Whig Party. Trump will be in good company if he aims beyond his sabotage of the U.S. Postal Service to obstruct Americans’ votes by throwing a late wrench in the works.

But what will that wrench be?

~ ~ ~

There’s already been some speculation as to what kinds of ratfucking Trump will pull at the last moment. Two topics which some suggest may be used to generate October Surprises are the Durham investigation and a vaccine for COVID-19.

I don’t have a feel for the former. Marcy or bmaz might have a better sense of the likelihood. Can’t rule out there being more than one surprise, either. I put my money on the latter, though.

When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, we’re already seeing jockeying around this issue, including the news about Putin’s daughter having been a test subject for a COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Unfortunately, Dr. Anthony Fauci has naively set up expectations for a vaccine by the end of the year.

… “From everything we’ve seen now — in the animal data, as well as the human data — we feel cautiously optimistic that we will have a vaccine by the end of this year and as we go into 2021,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “I don’t think it’s dreaming.” …

The problem is that he’s offered inadequate qualifications when asked for comment, though to be fair, this excerpt is from that awful hearing with Rep. Jim “Killer Clown” Jordan being an asshole to him.

It’s extremely doubtful there will be a safe and effective vaccine ready for nationwide or global deployment by the end of the year. There may be one or more candidates which are ready for varying stages of testing, trials, or regulatory approvals.

While there are numerous vaccines in development around the world, American pharma company Pfizer has a candidate nearing a benchmark:

… Pfizer has said repeatedly since June that it was targeting October for its application and the companies started a large late-stage study last month of the candidate vaccine, one of the few globally in later stages of development.

On Thursday they reported data from previous early-stage trials of the vaccine, BNT162b2, that showed it induced similar immune responses and had milder side effects than prior data on another candidate. …

October. Huh. What a coincidence. How odd its timing also syncs up with anticipated roll-out of Russia’s vaccine.

Do pay careful attention to that “milder side effects” bit. There’s a lot in these three words without enough explanation.

Trump’s veep-minion is singing a hopeful refrain, invoking some religious happy talk with the word “miracle”:

But this morning Trump had another temper tantrum via Twitter about the vaccine approval process:

No, you great tangerine dipshit. Speed should NOT be the focus unless you’re worried about re-election and need a Hail Mary pass delivered in October.

For the American public, the vaccine must be safe and effective. There are no shortcuts to these two deliverables, especially since this vaccine will be rolled out to the entire population, from children to elderly. We don’t want a vaccine which causes more problems than the disease it’s supposed to prevent.

Which is why the Food and Drug Administration needs to do its job thoroughly and with as much openness as the process and partners permit. But not with such speed that safety and efficacy are threatened.

What I can’t say is whether Trump’s temper tantrum is meant to pressure the FDA, or if it’s meant to condition the public to believe he is responsible for making the shortened vaccine development timeline happen, so when the FDA does get around to completing regulatory review, Trump can crow he alone can fix COVID-19.

Which is bullshit after 175,695 Americans have died of COVID-19 as of 11:00 p.m. ET today.

~ ~ ~

So what’s your take? What will be the October surprise Trump will attempt to save his ass this November?

This is an open thread.

 . . .

UPDATE-1 — 11:50 P.M. ET —

Son of a gun, just when I was going to log off and go to bed this crap pops up in my feed.

Great. We’re going to hear narcissistic dementia babble with some faux authoritative affirmation from a goddamned ONCOLOGIST and not an epidemiologist/virologist/public health MD about whatever dog-and-pony White House Coronavirus Taskforce stuff this is.

Where will the far-more-trusted Dr. Fauci be during this crap?

We all know the real point of this last minute lob into Saturday night’s dark is a means to change the subject of tomorrow morning’s Sunday talk shows.

The White House doesn’t want the punditocracy to talk about

1) The Democrats’ convention this past week and Joe Biden’s acceptance in particular;
2) Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s appearance before the Senate and Steve Mnuchin’s role in the USPS crisis;
3) The Delivering for America Act, H.R. 8015 which passed the House today and now heads to the Senate;
4) The lack of action in the Senate on reconciling the House’s HEROES Act with the Senate’s awful HEALS Act;
5) The beginning of a massive eviction/foreclosure/homelessness crisis;
6) The failures of schools both K-12 and universities to safely relaunch;
7) Mary Trump’s audiotape of Trump’s sister Maryanne Trump Barry in which much tea is spilled about Trump;

and lastly, the ongoing mass death event costing 1200 American lives each day because Donald Trump is such an abjectly corrupt fuckup.

Add that to your predictions — of which item is Trump most afraid of that Team Trump had to manufacture a breakthrough to derail Sunday morning talk shows?

 . . .

UPDATE-2 — 7:15 P.M. ET —

Trump’s 6:00 p.m. presser has come and gone — a quickly slapped together sandwich of a racist anti-China dig, nonsensical back-patting and a ridiculous announcement, with a side of exactly three questions allotted to Fox News (2) and OAN (1) before fleeing the scene like a criminal.

What’s the likelihood the questions were pre-approved?

I am so fucking glad I didn’t turn on my television to watch this laughable circle jerk.

Politico published a story earlier this afternoon about the subject of this announcement: the use of plasma from COVID-19 survivors as pharmaceutical therapy for patients in severe condition, hospitalized with COVID-19.

Convalescent plasma is NOT a preventative therapy.

Experts like former CDC director Dr. Tom Friedan aren’t rah-rah about this therapy or announcement:

The one thing no one was able to ask Trump was whether he’s received this therapy. It’s possible he received a prophylactic dose; I can think of one occasion when it may have happened, three days after Herman Cain died.

Maybe this is the surprise which hasn’t yet been sprung on us yet?


Crowdsourced Timeline: Torching the USPS [Work in Progress, UPDATE-2]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. Updates appear at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

Well now. This has been a day to beat all days, hasn’t it?

Who would ever have guessed — during the middle of a scandal in which a Trump donor+appointee engaged in dismantling the U.S. Postal Service to obstruct a general election and a Census — that U.S. Postal Agents with U.S. Coast Guard assistance would arrest a Trump advisor on a boat with a Chinese dissident business person?

It’s mind boggling and delicious at the same time.

Also today: the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Public Citizen filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service and current Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, arguing changes made to the USPS system violate federal law, disrupting mail delivery and may cause voter disenfranchisement this November.

I wrote that DeJoy’s “equipment reductions” and staffing changes may have violated 18 U.S. Code § 1701.Obstruction of mails generally, as well as 18 U.S. Code § 371 Conspiracy to Defraud the U.S., and possibly 18 U.S. Code § 1346 Honest Services Fraud.

NAACP and Public Citizen argue DeJoy’s changes violate 39 U.S. Code § 3661 – Postal services by failing to obtain public comment first before finalizing and implementing changes, as well as 39 U.S. Code § 101(e) – Postal policy by failing to “give the highest consideration to the requirement for the most expeditious collection, transportation, and delivery of important letter mail.”

There’s a tidbit in the complaint which I hope the court addresses when it addresses relief:

17. The PAEA in 2006 established the Postal Regulatory Commission as “an independent establishment of the executive branch.” Id. § 501. “The Postal Regulatory Commission is composed of 5 Commissioners, appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Commissioners shall be chosen solely on the basis of their technical qualifications, professional standing, and demonstrated expertise in economics, accounting, law, or public administration, and may be removed by the President only for cause. Each individual appointed to the Commission shall have the qualifications and expertise necessary to carry out the enhanced responsibilities accorded Commissioners under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.” Id. § 502(a). “No Commissioner shall be financially interested in any enterprise in the private sector of the economy engaged in the delivery of mail matter.” Id. § 502(b).

Emphasis mine. DeJoy isn’t qualified to be a commissioner and should be removed.

And more today: nonprofit organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) also filed a complaint with the Department of Justice against DeJoy today, asking for an investigation into DeJoy’s actions which will undermine voting by mail for Trump’s political benefit. CREW’s concerned that DeJoy did more than violate the Hatch Act:

Criminal law (18 U.S.C. § 610) [Hatch Act] prohibits anyone from commanding any employee of the federal government to engage in political activity. Another provision (18 U.S.C § 595) bars anyone “employed in any administrative position by the United States” from using, in connection with any federally-funded activity, their “official authority for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate for the office of President.”

I’m waiting for an entity to sue the U.S. Postal Service and current Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for interfering with the delivery of Census forms which may yet be in circulation.

Senator Gary Peters has requested DeJoy appear before a Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee tomorrow. Let’s hope both ballots and Census forms come up in the hearing.

What might be helpful to both persons following the hearing tomorrow and the House Oversight Committee hearing on Monday, August 24, is a timeline of relevant events related to Louis DeJoy’s installment as U.S. Postmaster General, the appointments of the current USPS Board of Governors, and the changes DeJoy as ordered.

Here’s a partially constructed timeline. If there’s an event or item you believe is key, please share it in comments and I’ll insert it in chronological order.

~ ~ ~

October 16, 2016 — DeJoy donation: $25,000 to to American Crossroads, pro-Trump super PAC run by Robert Duncan, chair of USPS Board of Governors which appointed DeJoy. DeJoy was the Republican National Committee’s national deputy chairman and was North Carolina State Chair for Trump Victory during the 2016 campaign.

Early January 2017 — According to The Charlotte Observer, “DeJoy was one of Trump’s biggest N.C. donors and fundraisers. Records show he gave $111,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, a joint committee that split money between the campaign and party groups. He gave the Republican National Committee another $273,000 to help elect Trump.”

October 7, 2017 — DeJoy hosted a $25,000 minimum donation fundraising dinner for Trump at his home in Greensboro, NC.

October 2019 — Then-Postmaster General Marge Brennan announced her impending retirement.

December 10, 2019 — Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin met with David Abney, chairman and CEO of UPS, a competitor of USPS.

March 27, 2020 — Before COVID-19, a fundraising event was scheduled. The event hosted by DeJoy in Greenboro NC was intended to benefit Trump’s re-election campaign, the RNC and several state Republican parties, including North Carolina’s.

April 9, 2020 — Then-Postmaster General Brennan warned of a $13 billion revenue shortfall due “directly to COVID-19” and an additional $54.3 billion in losses over 10 years. USPS could “run out of cash this fiscal year” on September 30 if it did not receive federal funding.

May 23, 2020 — On or about this date, DeJoy was named national finance chairman for CLT Host 2020, the local organizing committee for the Republican National Convention. At the time the convention was scheduled to be held in Charlotte, NC.

January 15, 2020 — DeJoy donation: $150,000 to Trump’s campaign; $217,800 to the Republican National Committee.

January 16, 2020 — DeJoy donation: $10,000 to the North Carolina Republican Party.

February 7, 2020 — AG Bill Barr freezes campaign finance investigations.

February 12, 2020 — DeJoy donation: $35,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

February 19, 2020 — DeJoy donation: $210,600 to Trump’s campaign.

April 1, 2020 — USPS Board of Governors adopts new mission statement.

April 2020 (date TBD) — DeJoy’s and spouse Wos’ joint charity helped found the Burr Center at Wake Forest University

April 9, 2020 — DeJoy donations: $35,000 to help re-elect Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), in November; $27,200 to the National Republican Congressional Committee; $5,000 to the Majority Committee PAC, which says on Facebook its goal is “holding Nancy Pelosi accountable and helping Republicans take back the House of Representatives.”

May 6, 2020 — DeJoy sworn in as Postmaster General and CEO.

May 14, 2020 — NC Senator Burr steps down as SSCI chair due to FBI investigation of his trade.

May 15, 2020 — House passed the HEROES Act containing $25 billion in funding for the USPS.

May 15, 2020 — USPS presentation, “Equipment Reduction” proposed plan.

June 15, 2020 — First day on the job at USPS according to DeJoy.

June 15, 2020 — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to the USPS Board of Governors asking them for their communication with the White House about DeJoy’s appointment.

June 17, 2020 — American Postal Workers Union was told of plans to remove 671 automated mail sorters — more than 10 percent of the total — from operation throughout the country.

July 10, 2020 — USPS circulated to employees a document entitled “PMGs expectations and plan” outlining changes DeJoy would order, including elimination of overtime, letter carriers would limit the time and scope of their delivery routes, and certain customer service windows would close during lunchtime. A document also circulated reviewing the changes, entitled, “Mandatory Stand-Up Talk: All Employees,” subtitled, “Pivoting For Our Future” (Pivot Instructions).

July 13, 2020 — DeJoy announced a prohibition to overtime and any other measures local postmasters use to alleviate shortages of staff hours.

Mid-July 2020 — USPS Board of Governors responded to Sen. Schumer’s request; Schumer said they told him “much of the information I requested was confidential.” The board had used an executive search firm which refused to waive a nondisclosure agreement.

July 27, 2020 — Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced HEALS Act as counter to House bill HEROES Act; the senate bill contains no funding for the USPS.

July 29, 2020 — The Washington Post reported that in consideration for a $10 billion loan, DeJoy gave Mnuchin proprietary information about USPS’s private-sector contracts including Amazon, FedEx and UPS.

Late July, 2020 — Thomas J. Marshall, USPS’s general counsel and executive vice president, sent a letter to 46 states “warning that it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted,” according to a report by the Washington Post on August 14.

August 4, 2020 — U.S. mail delays contributed to ballots arriving too late to be completed or mailed back in
time to be counted Missouri’s August 4, 2020 primary election.

August 4, 2020 — Trump lied about speaking with DeJoy about the USPS.

August 5, 2020 — Sen. Schumer and Rep. Pelosi met DeJoy, along with Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to negotiate both funding and the Pivot changes implemented by DeJoy.

August 6, 2020 — Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) launched investigation into USPS delivery delays.

August 7, 2020 — First meeting of  USPS Board of Governors DeJoy attended; results of third quarter, ended June 30, released. DeJoy also announced he had reassigned or displaced 23 senior USPS officials.

August 9, 2020 — Trump lied again about speaking with DeJoy about the USPS.

August 10, 2020 — DeJoy acknowledged in a USPS-wide memo that the Pivot Instructions “impacted our overall service levels.”

August 12, 2020 — Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced the Delivering for America Act.

August 13, 2020 — Photos of removed postal equipment appeared online.

August 13, 2020 — DeJoy sent a memo acknowledging recent changes have “unintended consequences that impacted our overall service levels.” No effort was made to halt or reverse the changes set in motion, however.

August 13, 2020 — Trump admitted in an interview that “he opposes a $25 billion emergency injection sought by the U.S. Postal Service, as well as a Democratic proposal to provide $3.6 billion in additional election funding to the states,” according to the Washington Post. “They need that money in order to make the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” said Trump.

August 16, 2020 — Speaker Pelosi called for an emergency session of House to address the USPS crisis.

August 16, 2020 — Senator Gary Peters, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, called for an emergency hearing.

~ ~ ~

One thing that bothers me which hasn’t gotten much attention is DeJoy’s continuing relationship with XPO Logistics. Yes, it’s a conflict of interest that he continues to own a chunk of XPO’s stock while he is Postmaster and CEO of USPS since XPO is a USPS contractor and a competitor since it also carries shipments for USPS competitors.

CREW’s complaint is in no small part focused on this conflict as well as DeJoy’s marital assets tied up in hundreds of thousands of dollars in UPS and J.B. Hunt trucking company in addition to the tens of millions in XPO Logistics from which DeJoy had not divested.

But logistics services, especially freight haulers, have long been prone to corruption.

Take for example an indictment last October:

According to court documents, Leonid Teyf, 57, was part of a scheme where several trucking companies paid more than $1 million in bribes to the Utah FedEx ground hub manager.

Teyf, you’ll recall, is a Russian national and a business crony of Yevgeny “Putin’s Chef” Prigozhin; he was arrested in late 2018 because of a murder-for-hire plot. He had two homes in the Raleigh, NC area which were raided by the feds.

At the time of Teyf’s original arrest there was no indication in local news reporting there was anything more to Teyf’s offenses besides the murder-for-hire accusation and immigration law violations.

How did Teyf end up involved in logistics in Utah, connected with USPS competitor FedEx?

DeJoy may have zero relationship with Teyf, but DeJoy had been the CEO of New Breed Logistics (NBL) for decades. NBL customers included USPS.

DeJoy’s company was acquired by XPO Logistics in 2014 for $600 million; DeJoy continued after the acquisition on NBL’s executive management and board of directors until May 2018. XPO Logistics’ competitors included DHL, FedEx, UPS, and J.B. Hunt Transport Services — and surely must have included USPS to some extent, considering the expedited package handling companies are USPS’s competitors.

Did DeJoy’s business ever cross with Teyf’s, considering they were both in logistics, were both living in North Carolina less than two hours apart (DeJoy in Greenboro and Teyf in Raleigh)?

Are there other possible corrupt entities which have their fingers in the mix with DeJoy’s wrecking crew management style? Can you think of ways in which corrupt entities could manipulate this situation for their benefit?

~ ~ ~

Let’s try to keep this thread focused on the USPS.

.
UPDATE-1 — 9:05 A.M. ET —

The Senate hearing was scheduled for 9:00 am but the start appears to be running late. You can watch the video conference at:

CSPAN https://www.c-span.org/video/?474940-1/senate-hearing-us-postal-service#

NPR (embedded video at this link, scroll down) https://www.npr.org/2020/08/21/904366258/postmaster-general-faces-senate-as-controversy-persists-over-usps-cuts

It’s also being carried on some broadcast and cable networks.

A couple new items related to NC’s Senator Richard Burr have been added to the timeline. Was his vote for approval persuaded by contributions or contributions-in-kind?

UPDATE-2 — 10:30 A.M. ET —

One of our community members, Vicks, shared a link to an article in Supply Chain News about XPO Logistics. As I noted in comments, this company in which DeJoy retains a substantive investment interest had suffered from a downturn in business in late 2018-early 2019. The loss of business volume was sizable enough to warrant evaluating restructuring of the firm into smaller entities for divestment.

This may suggest why Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is involved in the USPS scandal:

… XPO said it has hired high powered investment and legal firms to execute the processes. Those include Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase as financial advisers and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz as its legal adviser in the review process. …

Amazon’s own logistics company cut into XPO’s business at the same time Trump’s tariffs increased retail prices, reducing consumer demand. Rather than cutting costs and riding it out, or trying to find ways to spin off to Amazon, or trying to partner with Amazon’s competitors Target/Walmart/other, XPO looked at breaking up, thereby getting investment bankers involved.

Investment banks want to shake more cash out of XPO and its subs; they need to improve its prospects to do so. They want to find more business for XPO or its future spinoffs so they lean on Mnuchin to get dirt on competitor USPS which is a vendor to Amazon. UPS is involved because it wants to maintain its share of the market and it’s willing to help lean on USPS by providing its own take on expense allocation.

It’s corrupt as fuck. Mnuchin is favoring Wall Street investment banks and a Trump donor over a Constitutionally-mandated service. Fuck him.

Another question comes to mind about the drivers behind XPO’s fortunes: were companies which were adversely affected by the tariffs “picked off” by investment banks, possibly with Mnuchin’s help, to increase short selling opportunities and other forms of vulture capitalism?

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Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/author/rayne/page/3/