HHS Propgandist Michael Caputo Is the Rat-Fucker’s Protégé

It was inevitable when Trump installed a press flack in April with the intention of riding herd on Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar that the flack, Michael Caputo, would invent a false reality about Trump’s efforts to fight COVID.

Last week, Politico described how Caputo has done just that.

Caputo and his team have attempted to add caveats to the CDC’s findings, including an effort to retroactively change agency reports that they said wrongly inflated the risks of Covid-19 and should have made clear that Americans sickened by the virus may have been infected because of their own behavior, according to the individuals familiar with the situation and emails reviewed by POLITICO.

Caputo’s team also has tried to halt the release of some CDC reports, including delaying a report that addressed how doctors were prescribing hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug favored by Trump as a coronavirus treatment despite scant evidence. The report, which was held for about a month after Caputo’s team raised questions about its authors’ political leanings, was finally published last week. It said that “the potential benefits of these drugs do not outweigh their risks.”

In one clash, an aide to Caputo berated CDC scientists for attempting to use the reports to “hurt the President” in an Aug. 8 email sent to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other officials that was widely circulated inside the department and obtained by POLITICO.

That has led to a closer focus on Caputo, including this NYT piece describing a fevered Caputo calling for armed insurgency if Trump doesn’t win.

“I don’t like being alone in Washington,” he said, describing “shadows on the ceiling in my apartment, there alone, shadows are so long.” He then ran through a series of conspiracy theories, culminating in a prediction that Mr. Trump will win re-election but his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., will refuse to concede.

“And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” he said. “The drills that you’ve seen are nothing.” He added: “If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get.”

Bizarrely — particularly given Caputo’s ranting about insurgency and his claims to be stressed by his implication in the Mueller Report — few of the stories on him (WaPo is one exception) have even mentioned his relationship to Roger Stone.

Caputo did not just set Stone up for a meeting with a Russian offering dirt in May 2016. He’s Stone’s protégé. Multiple Mueller 302s describe that Stone got Caputo a job with the campaign. Manafort testified that he used Caputo to keep track of what Stone was up to — a damning description given that Manafort offered more details about Stone’s foreknowledge of the Podesta emails than other known witnesses. Caputo’s own 302–which was released in February– was heavily redacted because of ongoing investigations. One thing it revealed, however, is that Caputo ran a “Project Rasputin” for Trump in 2016 that remains unexplained.

Caputo repeatedly complained that, after Stone was indicted, a gag prohibited him from speaking with witnesses, including him. In December he wrote Judge Amy Berman Jackson a plaintive letter asking for permission to spend Christmas with Stone.

Mr. Stone and I have been close friends since 1986. We work together, we dine together, our families share holidays together.

[snip]

[I]t’s Chrismas, Judge, and our family wants to spend time with his.

[snip]

[W]ith the holiday season imminent, I am writing to ask to see Roger and his family again soon. During this season, I hope you see fit to give our families this gift.

He also wrote a letter in support of leniency.

As the years went on, Roger and I became close friends. I learned important lessons from him: to listen more than talk, to keep driving forward during hard times, to keep my friends and family close. He loved friendly but hard-hitting banter, and I learned to give as well as I got. He was the big brother I never had, and I feel fortunate.

[snip]

People think they know Roger Stone: he plays hardball; he’s Machiavellian. But he is at his center a caring man.

Since Stone’s commutation, however, Caputo and Stone should be free to talk. It’s likely not a coincidence. then, that Caputo is making the same calls for insurgency after Trump loses that the rat-fucker is.

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.

A Tale of Two COVID Scandals: Phil Hogan and Donald Trump

A top Irish member of the EU Commission, Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan, resigned yesterday after a week of disclosures of the many ways he violated Ireland’s COVID guidelines to attend a shindig at a golf course. I won’t pretend to understand Irish politics yet. I’ll let Henry Farrell do that:

Hogan’s political troubles began when he attended a dinner organized by a golfing group associated with Ireland’s Parliament. A number of current and former politicians and officials attended the dinner, which reportedly broke Ireland’s strict coronavirus rules banning gatherings of 50 or more people. When news of the dinner leaked, there was an outpouring of angry public commentary from Irish citizens, who, like people elsewhere, have endured months of restrictions on travel and social life. Ireland’s agriculture minister, who was at the dinner, resigned swiftly, but Hogan declined to follow suit, initially making a statement that blamed the dinner’s organizers.

Unfortunately for Hogan, the golf dinner was only the beginning of the story. People entering Ireland are supposed to self-isolate for 14 days to minimize the risk of coronavirus spreading. Furthermore, specific travel restrictions were recently applied to parts of the Irish Midlands, where there were a number of coronavirus clusters. It soon became clear that Hogan had traveled extensively across Ireland during the 14-day period, including within the restricted zone. Hogan claimed in an official memorandum to the European Commission president that he no longer had to self-isolate after the first few days he spent in Ireland because he had received a negative coronavirus test result. He also argued he had a “reasonable excuse” for entering the restricted zone.

However, Ireland’s Department of Health disputed his claim that he didn’t have to self-isolate after the coronavirus test. Even worse, new information emerged this morning about an apparent witness who has claimed Hogan ate at a restaurant the evening he arrived in Ireland, instead of self-isolating as he said he did. Another person said Hogan was seen in public areas during the same period. Hogan’s spokesperson declined to comment on the allegations, but it became increasingly clear over the day that his position was unsustainable.

[snip]

Because he helped defend Ireland’s interests in an important policy area (setting trade policy), the Irish government initially didn’t want him to leave. It has no guarantee whatsoever that his replacement will get a similarly influential position. Because Hogan was an E.U. official, the Irish government had a plausible-sounding excuse for inaction: It had no authority to sack him — his boss was the president of the European Commission.

Eventually, however, the government decided that Hogan was becoming a serious political liability, as new stories kept on emerging that seemed to contradict his previous explanations.

It has been disorienting watching the scandal unroll. It took just one week for privileged hypocrisy and serial lies to bring down a powerful man. That’s how democracy and political accountability are supposed to work, but I’ve forgotten how it can work.

Over the course of that same week, Trump took the next step in his six month COVID scandal, overseeing a change in CDC guidelines while Anthony Fauci was under anesthesia, in surgery, to make testing virtually useless — ending its recommendation that those exposed to COVID get tested. Multiple reports say the move came at the behest of the White House, which makes sense, given that Trump has been falsely claiming that the reason the US has the worst record among rich nations is because we test more.

But, as noted, that’s just the latest event in a marathon scandal, going back to 2018 when Trump dismantled the pandemic unit inside the NSC, blew off early warnings about the virus, refused to prepare as it grew, and — even after he started trying to secure supplies — still refusing to use the Defense Production Act and instead encouraging the kind of looting that his son-in-law has mastered. Starting in March, with Kimberly Guilfoyle’s birthday party, Trump held a series of public events where people were exposed to, if not contracted COVID, leading up to the event where he announced his opposition to testing, an event that may have led to Herman Cain’s death. At every single stage, Trump has defied public health guidance (the sin that led to Hogan’s resignation), most recently in last night’s RNC event.

Trump’s policies encourage the spread of COVID. Those policies have led to the deaths of 180,000 Americans, and the devastation of the US economy. His sins are not just sins of hypocrisy and arrogance (though by cowering behind a testing regime that protects him but not others, it is that, too). They are sins that have directly harmed America and Americans.

And yet there’s virtually no political pressure on Trump to change his ways, much less resign in disgrace.

Shame ceased to function in the United States (perhaps because many Republicans are willing to cheat to win the next election), at least with respect to the President, and it is getting people killed.

Back in April, the Irish Times published a column that deserves renewed attention (the column came out days after my spouse and I decided to make this move, so had nothing to do with our ultimate decision to do so, but certainly reinforced in my mind the tangential advantages of doing so; here’s a version that’s not pay-walled).

Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the US until now: pity.

However bad things are for most other rich democracies, it is hard not to feel sorry for Americans. Most of them did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016. Yet they are locked down with a malignant narcissist who, instead of protecting his people from Covid-19, has amplified its lethality. The country Trump promised to make great again has never in its history seemed so pitiful.

Will American prestige ever recover from this shameful episode? The US went into the coronavirus crisis with immense advantages: precious weeks of warning about what was coming, the world’s best concentration of medical and scientific expertise, effectively limitless financial resources, a military complex with stunning logistical capacity and most of the world’s leading technology corporations. Yet it managed to make itself the global epicentre of the pandemic.

Trump’s response to COVID has solidified Americans fall from power, with repercussions on every aspect of life (and many of those repercussions are just starting).

The Irish, who so long looked to America as a land of promise when Ireland itself struggled, now declare their pity. Some of us Irish-Americans are even “returning,” generations later, and discovers it improves our quality of life.

And yet Trump, who has made American the object of pity, has evaded most accountability for the catastrophe.

In sane countries, powerful men can be forced from office for mere hypocrisy about public health; even Boris Johnson can be embarrassed. But in the United States, Trump has managed to repeatedly contribute to the damage wreaked by the virus, and yet he remains a viable political force.

Update: In the latest video from Republican Voters Against Trump, his former Assistant Secretary for Threat Prevention talks about how Trump’s incitement of racist violence and failures on COVID have made us less safe.

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.

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?

Hurricane COVID-19: GOP’s Fiscal Restraint Pisses into the Winds

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

Before going further, let’s take a look at the weather by the numbers.

COVID-19 confirmed cases: 5,064,072 — new cases confirmed at a rate of 55,000/day

COVID-19 deaths: 162,623 — new deaths at a rate of 1,000/day

Unemployed: 31.3 million people were receiving some form of unemployment compensation as of Friday.

Evictions: 23 million people nationwide are at risk of being evicted or are now at some state of eviction.

This is Hurricane COVID-19, continuing to wreak havoc not on any one or two coastal states but the entire nation.

Imagine an enormous hurricane wiping out the lives of more than 162,000 Americans spread across every state.

Imagine a storm so big it destroys housing for AT LEAST 23 million Americans — at least, because this number may not include the affected family members.

Imagine a hurricane wiping out food for millions of children, many of whom rely on getting at least one meal a day from school.

This is not a single three-day blow with a limited range and a one-time demand for economic resources.

This ongoing hurricane will require everything we can throw at it for the next 12 to 18 months — until a vaccine and/or drug therapy can be developed, tested, approved, and distributed.

Concerns about fiscal restraint have NO place in the face of this rolling disaster. This is not a situation where reflexive conservative retrenchment to anti-tax small government will work.

Reflexive conservative decision-making has already failed this nation.

This includes stupidity like Sen. Ted Cruz’s nasty sarcasm on Twitter demeaning the most vulnerable in our society, the working poor and the dwindling middle class, tweeting, “Why be so cheap? Give everyone $1 million a day, every day, forever. And three soy lattes a day. And a foot massage.

Say that to the faces of families who’ve lost love ones, families wondering how they’ll keep a roof over their heads, or parents who wonder how they’ll feed their kids today and tomorrow — honest, hard-working Americans who’ve lost their jobs only because Trump and his political party have failed to take action necessary to stem COVID-19.

~ ~ ~

We’ve had more than a day to digest the White House’s feeble attempt to change the subject and redirect attention away from the GOP-led Senate’s refusal to meet to hammer out a rational economic aid package.

The Democratic Party-led House made a good faith effort to project what Americans would need based on conditions they saw and passed the HEROES Act in mid-May.

It has been sitting, waiting for the GOP-led Senate to catch up; it took TEN WEEKS to come up with a counter in the form of the HEALS Act, offering only a third of the aid HEROES Act offered while stuffed with gifts to donors and spending pork.

Democrats have been able to see this pandemic for what it is, with clear eyes. If they’ve failed it’s for lack of imagination when it comes to the obstinacy of the opposition party when it comes to facing reality.

If Democrats have failed it’s for assuming Republicans would hit bottom and eventually do the right thing.

But they haven’t. The Republicans have ensured that aid to date has been corrupted with lack of oversight and accountability, doled out to political supporters.

~ ~ ~

The White House knows things are going to get worse. They are not only unwilling to deal with the challenges accumulating over the last two months under Hurricane COVID-19, they are unwilling to plan ahead for a worsening crisis they have fomented.

Instead, inadequately qualified chief of staff Mark Meadows thinks more PR will fix the COVID crisis.

The administration has refused to work toward an effective national strategy though one is possible as other countries have proven. Their refusal is deepening the emergency.

Instead of working in good faith, they let their Bronx Colors boss spew more lies — Trump told reporters last evening that the Democrats had called, “…They’d like to get together” — when the truth is neither Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer called.

Today Mnuchin indicated he wants a deal:

… Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, on a conference call with governors on Monday, said action by Congress remains the administration’s “first choice.”

Mnuchin and Vice President Mike Pence urged the governors to reach out to congressional leaders and push for legislation, according to audio of the call obtained by AP. …

Mnuchin needs to get on the phone and call his GOP peeps in the Senate, not state governors. The governors are over a barrel and need the money the House Democrats have already allocated $915 billion in direct federal aid to state and local government in the HEROES Act they passed more than two months ago.

It’s NOT the Democrats who are the problem and the states know it.

Jesus Christ, what a bunch of hacks working for this administration. They just don’t get it; they are unable to lead in the face of this massive ongoing catastrophe.

~ ~ ~

This is the threshold of an economic depression the likes of which this country has never seen. We don’t have anywhere near as much agriculture as we had in the 1930s during the Great Depression; many families simply eked by if they could keep their farms (though they did have different forms of federal assistance from a more competent government).

We are a service economy now and people can’t afford services which aren’t absolutely essential. They can’t afford the risk of services which put them in contact with other people too closely. Re-opening businesses like gyms and hair salons and restaurants doesn’t make the risks go away, nor does it change the fact most of us have had to reduce our spending because we may or have already lost our jobs.

Invest in the care of the Americans who need it. They will plow that money back into the economy. It keeps the rest of the economy moving until a vaccine or a drug therapy is available.

Failing to do this simple thing — take care of the American people by ensuring domestic Tranquility, providing for the common defense of their homes, promoting the general Welfare until we can beat back the disease — is like failing to heed the forecast of this massive Hurricane COVID-19 once again.

Parody of NOAA Hurricane Dorian map marked in Sharpie by Trump. Used here under Fair Use.

This is an open thread.

Trump’s Latest Executive Orders: Head Fakes and Head Games

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

Before we look at the craptacular bullshit Trump and his henchmen pulled over on major media outlets Friday and Saturday, let’s take a look at what needs urgent resolution.

A COVID-19 patient was evicted from her home while she was still recovering. The ownership of the home is in question yet she was booted out, still struggling to breathe while all her belongings are tossed out on the lawn.

This is likely not the only example like this. The article above notes there have been 9,000 eviction filings in the Memphis, Tennessee area as of June. How many are there today?

How many eviction filings are there across the entire country?

Bloomberg reported as much as a third of renters don’t think they will be able to make August rent payment:

Renters across America are wading into unknown territory. With the lapse of the federal moratorium on evictions that expired July 31 and the end of the $600 per week boost to unemployment benefits, a recent survey reveals the breadth of financial uncertainty now plaguing Americans.

An estimated 27% of adults in the U.S. missed their rent or mortgage payment for July, according to a nationwide survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau weekly over the last three months. Among renters alone, just over one-third (34%) said during the waning days of July that they had little to no confidence that they could make their August rent payment, a stark measure of the ongoing economic devastation for households stretched to the brink by coronavirus pandemic.

There were 43 million renters in 2019. If that number hasn’t changed we could be looking at nearly 15 million evictions within the next month.

This doesn’t include homeowners who haven’t or may not be able to make their mortgage payments.

This is a massive crisis which is kicking off slowly thanks to the GOP Senate refusing to negotiate with its HEALS Act to meet the House Democrats’ HEROES Act which was passed in May and has been ready to go since then.

Given 51 million Americans were unemployed by mid-July and many had difficulty collecting unemployment compensation on a timely basis, the scale of homelessness we are about to see because Trump and the GOP are such massively useless asshats will make the 2008 crash look like nothing.

~ ~ ~

At his Bedminster golf club Friday evening — in front of club members who didn’t wear masks in spite of New Jersey’s emergency orders — Trump threw out teasers about executive orders to help Americans:

These are Steve Herman’s live tweets capturing the event.

Many major media outlets reported Trump’s comments without any skepticism.

Just before 5:00 p.m. Saturday, Trump signed so-called executive orders. Again, major media reported this straight without any pushback, as Josh Benton noted in his feed:

In reality, what Trump signed was a head fake which did jack shit to address problems. Major media failed to portray it that way. To its credit, the Washington Post did sketch this as an end run around Congress — but it was far worse than that.

~ ~ ~

Let’s check with Bharat Ramamurti, member of Congressional Oversight Commission who spelled out the problems in a Twitter thread:

Let’s take a look at the actual text of these executive orders.

Here’s the heart of the one on evictions. As you can see, it doesn’t create an eviction moratorium. It asks certain federal agencies to see if they can maybe do something on evictions.

.

Here’s the payroll tax one. It’s a deferral. That means either employers will continue to withhold your payroll taxes and you won’t see any difference, or they won’t withhold (unlikely), and you’ll have it all withheld from your paycheck when the deferral expires at year-end.

.

Here is the key part of the unemployment insurance one.

*To be clear, the legal authority to do this is highly dubious.*

But, at best, it’s a $300/week federal contribution redirecting money that, by my estimate, would cover about 4 weeks for the currently unemployed.

.

On unemployment insurance, evictions, and on student loans, these orders and memoranda — even if they are found legal — provide far, far less relief than what Democrats provided in the HEROES Act that passed three months ago and has languished in the Senate ever since.

The House’s HEROES Act passed on May 15. The GOP-led Senate dragged its feet for two months; HEALS Act wasn’t introduced until July 27, offering only a third of the aid the HEROES Act offers while it also contains pork like spending on the F-35.

Because the GOP senate continues to take marching orders from the White House, adhering to an arbitrary $1 trillion limit which is inadequate to the size of the crisis, they avoid good faith negotiation with the House to reconcile the differences between the HEROES Act and HEALS Act.

The White House then throws out useless memoranda to keep the media occupied — a classic Bannon-esque move, treating the media as the enemy by flooding the zone with shit they have proven incapable to process correctly.

The intent is to do nothing. Absolutely nothing.

There is almost nothing actionable in the scribbles: orders like “shall identify,” “shall consider,” “shall take action,” “shall review” are worthless because they are not specific and not supported by legislation which would make them specific.

Nothing in any of the bullshit Trump signed in a reality TV-like gesture will help the millions of Americans already under threat of eviction, or those already evicted like that poor COVID-19 patient in Tennessee.

~ ~ ~

There are a number of analyses already published across the internet which spell out the flaws with the White House’s approach including its fundamental illegality.

Bob Greenstein at the Center on Budget points out the shortcomings in Trump’s “executive actions,” which is a more accurate description than executive orders. What’s missing:

– Funding for testing, contract tracing and other critical publc health needs to help get the pandemic under control
– Food assistance for millions who aren’t getting enough to eat, including students missing out on school breakfast and lunch
– Extension of the federal eviction ban and funding to help renters struggling to pay the rent
– Funding for schools to provide distance learning and take needed precautions to reopen safely
– Funding to keep child care providers afloat so they can care for children safely when parents are able to work
– Fiscal relief for states, including additional Medicaid funding, to avoid more layoffs and cuts in health care and other critical state services
– Employment benefits at adequate levels that would last more than the next six weeks or so for people who have lost jobs.

All the kinds of aid which legislation can provide and an executive order can’t, since the power of the purse lies solely with Congress.

It wouldn’t hurt at this point to brush up on executive orders; the Congressional Research Service worked up a paper on them in 2014. Probably wouldn’t hurt to revisit Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer.

As important as wrestling with this executive bullshit is, it’s essential to recognize the White House is absolutely useless to the American public right now. They aren’t doing anything to help the people, only to save their asses in the general election.

A Washington Post article published last evening tells us how chief of staff Mark Meadows and his minions are addressing the pandemic:

As the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows is responsible for coordinating the vast executive branch, including its coronavirus response. But in closed-door meetings, he has revealed his skepticism of the two physicians guiding the anti-pandemic effort, Deborah Birx and Anthony S. Fauci, routinely questioning their expertise, according to senior administration officials and other people briefed on the internal discussions.

Meadows no longer holds a daily 8 a.m. meeting that includes health professionals to discuss the raging pandemic. Instead, aides said, he huddles in the mornings with a half-dozen politically oriented aides — and when the virus comes up, their focus is more on how to convince the public that President Trump has the crisis under control, rather than on methodically planning ways to contain it.

That’s what they are doing with the economic aid, the same damned thing — head fakes to appease their base, pretending to do something constructive when they’re doing nothing but campaigning.

The White House isn’t interested in addressing the pandemic’s economic problems any more than they are interested in addressing the pandemic itself.

That’s why the pretense of doing anything with worthless executive orders — it only needs to snow the media with head games and prop up Trump until the next head fake is required.

Meanwhile, the country continues to burn out of control.

GOP Senate Walked Out of DC for a Reason: Voter Foreclosure, 2020 Edition [UPDATE-1]

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

Come on, media. You’re still screwing up coverage of BOTH the pandemic economy and the general election.

The bothsides-ism the media clings to so desperately as a norm does not work when one party consistently makes bad choices, or no choices with the same effect as bad choices. There is no bothsides when one side acts in bad faith.

Think about it: making no choice is a choice. Taking no action is a choice. The outcome from no-choice/no-action can be very bad; making no decision to rescue a drowning person yields the victim’s death.

In the case of the stimulus and aid bill, it’s NOT the Democrats in Congress who are the impediment. Stop portraying that way.

Start digging into the why behind the White House and the GOP senators resistance to the economic aid in the bill — money which would be plowed back into the economy and ultimately into their donors’ pockets as profits.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has a bead on one reason: a portion of the investor class wants real estate values to crash so they can sweep in and buy distressed properties.

… The Wall Street Journal recently reported that investors are “preparing for what they believe could be a once-in-a generation opportunity to buy distressed real-estate assets at bargain prices.” This profiteering is far from “once-in-a-generation” though: It’s straight out of private equity’s playbook during the 2008 financial crisis. We all know what happened then: Homeowners targeted by predatory mortgages lost their homes to foreclosure, and private equity swept in to buy those homes at depressed prices. Communities of color were hit fastest and hardest. Just a handful of years after Black homeownership hit its highest point, the devastating waves of foreclosures wiped out nearly all of the growth in Black homeownership since the Fair Housing Act repealed Jim Crow redlining in 1968. …

“Once-in-a generation opportunity”? Meaning an even more dramatic plummet of property values compared to the 2008 crash a dozen years ago?

We can see the crash coming with an impending 30-40 million Americans on the verge of eviction but neither the White House nor the GOP senate feel a sense of urgency. This is NOT bothsides but one, and one which is and has been comfortable with vulture capitalism.

One side led by a man who claimed to be a billionaire based in no small part on his real estate development business.

This no-choice/no-action is intended to both evict roughly 12% of Americans from their homes, forcing their relocation or homelessness, while a small segment of the investor class reaps benefits.

The rest of the investor class which relies on stability in order for consumption to remain constant or increase won’t benefit. Their values will drop off as they did in 2008 during the crash.

Why are the White House and the GOP senate proceeding as if it doesn’t matter if they come to an agreement on the aid and economic stimulus package?

We’ve seen this before, though; the difference was that the crash hadn’t yet been fully set in motion as it is this time with the pandemic.

~ ~ ~

In 2008 with an evenly split Senate, the 110th Congress faffed around from June to early September, happy with irrationally high oil price which were hurting consumers badly while paying inadequate attention to investment banking and credit markets. Congress threw crappy legislation at the problem of subprime mortgages while the financial sector floundered.

When consumers had to choose between paying for gasoline to get to work or paying their crappy adjustable rate mortgage, they paid for the former rather than the latter hoping to catch up on the latter at a later date. But for many consumers there wasn’t a later date — they were foreclosed upon and evicted.

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 passed in late July 2008 did far too little, far too late, and for the wrong end of the economic food chain.

Congress should have learned from this experience. Some of the GOP senators were in office when the 2008 crash happened. They know better.

In September 2008 as the crash loomed days away, a GOP county party chairman in Michigan admitted to a reporter that the GOP was going to use a list of foreclosed homes and addresses to “make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses.

The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee sued the GOP; the Republican National Committee, Michigan Republican Party, and Macomb County Republican Party settled, acknowledging the existence of an illegal scheme by the Republicans to use mortgage foreclosure lists to deny foreclosure victims their right to vote.

At the time the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division told Congress it would monitor for the use of foreclosure records to contest voters’ ballots though it wouldn’t dispatch DOJ personnel to the polls.

But everything is different under the Trump administration. The GOP may try to use foreclosure records this election because they may be able to get away with it after setting a foreclosure crisis in motion.

The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division is helmed by a Trump appointee; can we be certain they will see the use of foreclosure records the way the Civil Rights Division did in 2008?

A Trump appointee may be the U.S. attorney for each state most at risk — they may be more loyal to Trump and the GOP than to the law.

A Trump appointee may be the judge overseeing any case brought to them about voter foreclosure.

And the GOP is desperate, more so than it was in 2008 because both the White House and the Senate are now at risk if a blue wave sweeps them as a rejection of Trump and his policies.

They’re planning ahead for something, because the GOP has amassed a $20 million legal fund for the election. For what do they need such a big legal fee kitty?

It’s right there in their selection of no-choice/no-action toward economic aid and stimulus.

The entire GOP, from Trump on through the GOP congressional caucus, want to foreclose on Americans’ homes and then their votes.

~ ~ ~

If the media was to stop bothsides-ing their reporting, was to stop treating the GOP’s bad faith as if it were legitimate, the GOP might reverse its position.

Might — don’t hold your breath, though.

For some Americans it’s already too late. They are already behind on rent or mortgage payments, and/or their household isn’t getting enough to eat. Innocent children are suffering for this. Their parents feel compelled to send them to schools which can’t handle COVID-19 conditions because it may mean a meal for their kids they might not get at home.

But the GOP continues to walk away from doing what it takes to ensure American families get the care they need, let alone that the public is able to safely ride out the time between now and an effective vaccine while socially distanced and masked.

The GOP senate caucus has chosen since May to load up their bill with funding for military equipment the public can’t eat or use to pay their mortgage, and let protections against evictions expire without replacement.

The reason is evident in the results, and the media needs to do a better job of holding the one party accountable for them.

Why isn’t there protection against evictions?

Because the GOP — from White House to the Senate — wants evictions and foreclosures.

Why isn’t there financial aid for Americans who have lost their jobs, are behind on their rent, need food?

Because the GOP wants these particular Americans to suffer enough that they are disenfranchised.

Why doesn’t the GOP save the person from drowning?

In the absence of acting to reach for their hand and pull them from the water, we can only assume it’s because the GOP wants the flailing victim dead.

The media needs to stop bothsides journalism and get the GOP on the record. Ask them why they are clinging to funding military spending instead of financial and food aid, why the GOP isn’t preventing evictions and foreclosures with a moratorium.

Ask the GOP whether they are going to attempt to foreclose on voters to save Trump’s ass this November.

.

UPDATE-1 — 08-AUG-2020 12:25 P.M. EDT —

Three lies in three minutes. The lie about COVID-19 was bad enough on a day when over 1200 Americans died of the disease. The other two lies though…the GOP senate hadn’t budged yesterday. These two issues, both unemployment benefits and an eviction moratorium, can’t be resolved with an executive order which he doesn’t even claim he’ll try to use.

 

Call it what it is: gaslighting the American public.

I don’t know why his Bedminster course members are willing to pay hundreds of thousands for memberships so they can be gaslighted in person, but rich people do all kinds of stupid shit.

.

This is an open thread.

Three Things: Death, Death, and More Death

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

By now most folks who pay attention to the intersection of politics and COVID-19 news have heard about Axios’ Jonathan Swan’s interview with Trump.

This is, in my opinion, the key few seconds at 7:25 minutes into the interview:

Trump just doesn’t give a damn about a thousand Americans dying each day or the total number of COVID-19 deaths to date.

“It is what it is.”

As if this wholly preventable mass death event was inevitable.

As if he was powerless to stop it after being warned in November 2019 there was a risk of pandemic due to an unknown pathogen in China.

As if he was powerless to stop it after the risk was communicated in the Presidential Daily Briefing in early January, after Chinese media published stories about an unknown pneumonia-like illness.

As if he was powerless to recover and relaunch the pandemic response team he disbanded in May 2018 after the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the U.S. on January 21.

As if he was powerless to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase production of personal protection equipment and ventilators in the U.S. at any time from January to mid-March to get ahead of the surge in cases he failed to stop.

As if he was powerless to expedite production under the DPA instead doing nothing for months as production floundered and the Federal Emergency Management Agency stole PPE from health care providers for the national stockpile.

Every step along the way Trump failed to do what was necessary to save American lives.

Every action he took when he did take any it was late — like shutting down travel to China, when COVID-19 was already here on the west coast. Or like shutting down travel from Europe in a manner which caused maximum confusion and chaos and likely accelerated an explosion of cases from Europe.

He repeatedly throttled the experts, preventing them from communicating openly what the public needed to know.

He shared bullshit happy talk — it’ll be down to zero, it’ll soon disappear, he said.

He shared dangerously erroneous medical information — like hydroxychloroquine is safe and bleach will kill the virus.

He harassed and harangued blue state governors like “that woman in Michigan” when they had the audacity to demand more from the federal government to deal with COVID-19.

He ignored the threats to these same governors from armed protesters who didn’t want to change their habits to mitigate COVID-19’s spread.

He undermined any and all messaging intended to encourage the public to act responsibly to reduce COVID-19 cases.

Because the entire point has been this non-choice, the no-plan, the void strategy.

Because no choice, no plan, no strategy is a plan. Its outcome is death.

There is no choice on Trump’s part to do anything except play golf.

There is no plan to do anything because Trump is fine with the current outcomes.

There is no strategy because that would interfere with the outcomes.

There is only death, death, and more death.

~ ~ ~

Unless you’re a Trump supporter. Then you would have received an email which said “wearing masks is patriotic.”

And if you’re a Floridian with whom Trump identifies because of his residency and his businesses, you would have read this tweet

For you exceptions Trump will exert himself because you represent something he needs, whether your vote or your campaign contribution or the narcissistic supply you’ll provide him.

Lucky you.

Not so lucky you if you’re a Nevadan because your state only has a tenth of the population of Florida, only six electoral college votes compared to Florida’s 29, only ~280,000 residents age 60 or older, and too many brown people who vote Democratic. Nope, you will not be encouraged to wear masks and voting by mail will be strongly discouraged.

~ ~ ~

And now Trump has denied that COVID-19 can be transmitted to, sicken, and even kill children. Fortunately social media platforms are beginning to wise up:

For the first time, both Facebook and Twitter acted to remove content shared by the campaign to re-elect President Donald Trump from their platforms, citing policies against spreading false claims about COVID-19.

Both the @TeamTrump campaign Twitter account and the official Donald Trump Facebook account shared a video late yesterday in which Trump claimed children are immune from the novel coronavirus. The video was a clip from an interview in which the president spoke by phone with Fox & Friends hosts about schools reopening this fall. “My view is that schools should be open,” Trump said. “If you look at children, children are almost—and I would almost say definitely—but almost immune from this disease. So few, they’ve got stronger, hard to believe, I don’t know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this. They don’t have a problem. They just don’t have a problem. They are virtually immune from this problem.”

COVID-19 may not result in many hospitalizations among children, but we simply do not know how the disease affects them and if the results are long term or permanent. Unlike adult cases there hasn’t been an adequate number of postmortem examinations of children who died of COVID-19, let alone comprehensive follow-up studies given the relative recency of the pandemic.

It’s grossly irresponsible to say children are immune when they do get infected, can become sick, and do spread the virus. From the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Children and COVID-19: State-Level Data Report:

Summary of Findings Reported on 7/30/20:
(Note: Data represent cumulative counts since states began reporting)

Cumulative Number of Child COVID-19 Cases*

  • 338,982 total child COVID-19 cases reported, and children represented 8.8% (338,982/3,835,573) of all cases
  • Overall rate: 447 cases per 100,000 children in the population

Change in Child COVID-19 Cases, 7/16/20 – 7/30/20

  • 97,078 new child cases reported from 7/16-7/30 (241,904 to 338,982), a 40% increase in child cases

But Trump just doesn’t care to do the right thing, keeping American children safe.

Unless that’s the point: He will do the opposite of the right thing.

By actively choosing gross negligence and malfeasance, Trump will ensure not only that American adults continue to sicken and die from COVID-19 but that children will also be increasingly exposed because it’s not the right thing.

He’s going to kill us all.

.

This is an open thread.

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