It Didn’t Go Away: COVID, COVID, COVID

Remember Trump’s gaslighting the American public, telling them COVID would simply go away after the election because it was just a hoax?

Right.

It’s still here. By Thanksgiving COVID will have taken more than a quarter million American lives if it continues to kill at a rate of 1,000 more per day.

This is the real hoax, playing out in front of use: Donald Trump is not a leader but a killer who has persistently tried to persuade us we’re imagining these deaths as anything more than a campaign ploy.

The campaign’s over and the cases and deaths are still mounting.

Fortunately we have a president-elect who is taking the pandemic seriously. Biden-Harris transition team has already issued a plan for combating COVID: BuildBackBetter.com/Priorities/COVID-19

While the plan is more of an executive summary at this point, work is already beginning on details:

Doctors Rick Bright, Atul Gawande, Luciana Borio, and Michael Osterholm are expected to be named advisers for Biden’s COVID-19 team.

This is what leadership and competency looks like when American lives are on the line. If nothing is done between now and Inauguration Day, at least another 73,000 Americans will die from COVID. It looks like Biden-Harris are taking this seriously and not treating it like a hoax.

There’s one big wrinkle, though, not of Biden-Harris’s making.

A single person at the General Services Administration is holding up the formal transition process — a Trump appointee who has previously refused to answer the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s questions regarding Trump’s D.C. hotel which operates out of the old U.S. Post Office building.

States are going to suffer for the foot dragging by this lone obstructionist, GSA administrator Emily Murphy, protecting Trump. Red states will be hurt in particular since they are suffering the greatest proportional numbers of COVID cases, in part due to Trump’s campaign rallies. These ten states currently lead in number of cases per million residents:

North Dakota — 79408 cases per million
South Dakota — 67231
Iowa — 49899
Wisconsin — 49356
Utah — 47075
Idaho — 46191
Nebraska — 44716
Florida — 44281
Tennessee — 42816
Mississippi — 42534

When weighed against each states’ population, some of these numbers are obscene. South Dakota’s Gov. Kristi Noem’s weak-sauce advocacy for personal responsibility in lieu of a mask mandate in the face of the Sturgis Motor Cycle Rally during August demonstrated she isn’t capable of leading and protecting her state.

Utah announced Sunday night it’s implementing new restrictions including mandatory masks Monday:

Whether Utahns comply may depend on whether they believe what they are being told by both the state and federal government. At least Gov. Herbert sees ‘masks optional’ or personal responsibility doesn’t work.

For their sakes and their lives, let’s hope Utahns don’t wait for GSA’s Emily Murphy to do her goddamned job. Right now she’s endangering American lives.

Who Will Be Forced to Walk the Plank on November 4th?

Who will Trump force to walk the plank after the election?
(h/t Stacey Harvey for the image, [CC Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) ]

Win or lose, Donald Trump will be looking for vengeance once the election is over. Either he will lose, and want to punish those he deems responsible, or he will win and want to punish the folks he’s had to put up with despite their failures to do what he wanted. One way or another, Trump will want to make certain people pay and pay dearly after the voting is over.

It might be to get rid of people who have angered him by not being sufficiently publicly loyal and submissive.

It might be to get rid of people who angered him by not being sufficiently good at making Trump look good before the election.

It might be to get rid of people who angered him by making him look bad, indecisive, or (gasp!) wrong.

It might be to get rid of people who stood up to him in private and made him back down on something, even if that backing down was only done in private.

It might be to get rid of people who stood up to him in public, and he had to simply take it at the time because Trump would have paid a price if he got rid of them when it happened.

Put me down for Trump demanding that the following people be forced to walk the plank:

  • Doctors Tony Fauci at NAIAD, Stephen Hahn at FDA, and Robert Redfield at CDC, along with HHS Secretary Alex Azar for not keeping these disloyal doctors in line;
  • Bill Barr for failing to deliver any indictments and convictions of any Bidens or Clintons, John Durham for dragging his feet on his reports that would have made that happen, Christopher Wray for being the FBI director and generally annoying, whoever approved letting Andrew Weissmann reveal that Manafort was breaking the gag order in his case by communicating with Sean Hannity, and a host of other US Attorneys who didn’t behave according to Trump’s rules;
  • General Mark Milley for publicly apologizing for taking part in the infamous Bible-waving photo op created by driving protesters out of Lafayette Park with chemical agents, various generals and admirals who refused to back Trump’s call to deploy US troops to American cities he didn’t like, and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper for not keeping these military folks in line;
  • Dr. Sean Conley, for not being more deceptive with the press around Trump’s COVID-19 status;
  • Mark Meadows for undermining Conley’s initial “he’s doing great” press remarks, as well as for more generally not keeping the WH functioning smoothly (as if that were possible, given his boss);
  • Mike Pompeo for failing to get Ukraine to do Trump’s bidding, as well as for not keeping folks like Fiona Hill in line.

But I must admit this is an incomplete list. Who else do you think might be on Trump’s Naughty List? Add your own thoughts in the comments.

Note: I also left off the list a bunch of folks like Mitch McConnell, Andrew Cuomo, Savannah Guthrie, and Cy Vance that Trump would demand walk the plank, but who remain outside his ability to make that happen. I also didn’t include Ivanka, Jared, Don Jr, or Eric, as he can’t fire his family. Though of course, he could disinherit them . . . for whatever that’s worth.

Election Day Countdown: 3 Days, 3 Things

*cough-cough*

More on that later. It’s very late on Day 3, need to get through these pronto.

~ 3 ~

The tangerine hellbeast will have a total of four rallies in Michigan between Saturday morning and Election Day. I wish I had sufficient lack of self-preservation to go to one of these events and shout at him, “Get out of my state, you diseased cretin!!!” but no.

A pity the Trump campaign hasn’t taken the conservative Detroit News’ hint — both its endorsement of Biden and its front page today:


A key reason Trump may be in Michigan so often — since his polling has been consistently behind Biden between 5-7% for a couple months — is that Trumpist senate candidate John James is within MOE of incumbent Democrat Gary Peters.

DeVos family and Mitch McConnell’s PAC have dumped more than $10 million combined into this race because it’s closer than some of the incumbent Republicans’ races.

Trump doesn’t sound like he’s convinced he can win. He’s tired; he cut down his Friday night rally in Minnesota to 21 minutes, blaming the governor’s COVID crowd limitations.

He was phoning it in. Have to wonder how that will affect James’ chances if Trump can’t produce higher energy for his base in Michigan.

~ 2 ~

Another key reason Trump is making four trips to Michigan sure looks like attempted mass murder by COVID.

You know Team Trump knows about this trend of increased confirmed cases and deaths. You know they’re aware Michigan has had record case numbers since his 9/11 rally here.

Sure looks like malice aforethought. Add that to the damage to high volume sorting in Detroit’s U.S. Postal office and it’s a deliberate and deadly combination of voter suppression in this swing state he won by a mere ten thousand votes in 2016.

~ 1 ~

And one more key reason for showing up so often in Michigan is his incitement to violence. It’s already spawned at least one seditious conspiracy against Michigan’s Gov. Whitmer, a.k.a. “that woman in Michigan.” He trash talked about her during the last visits he’s made to this state.

Today he tweeted implicit support for an attack by Trump supporters on a Biden-Harris campaign bus in Texas. The attack showed up on a number of videos posted on Twitter:

This attack was encouraged by Donnie Jr. with a wink-wink-nudge-nudge, according to the Daily Beast:

“Hey Laredo, Don Jr. here. I heard you had an awesome turnout for the Trump Train,” Donald Trump Jr., son of President Donald Trump, said in a video tweeted by Daily Caller contributor Kambree Kawahine Koa. “It would be great if you guys would all get together, head down to McAllen and give Kamala Harris a nice Trump Train welcome… let’s show them how strong Texas still is as Trump country.”

The FBI is looking into this. Not holding my breath that they’ll get right on this.

~ 0 ~

One last adder to the above three things given today’s terroristic attack on the Biden-Harris bus and Biden: this country is on the verge of systemic violence. This tweet thread notes how coverage of the violence we’ve been seeing incited by Trump and his supporters is not accurately described to the public:

The media is playing it safe using the same techniques it used when describing torture by the Bush administration — as “enhanced interrogation” — and not attributing it to the inciter or perpetrators.

Even when it’s state-sanctioned violence against the media, it’s not described as bluntly as it should be. This tweet about police in Graham, NC launching an unprovoked attack with pepper spray on a GOTV march which had a permit is as blunt as it gets and it still doesn’t quite convey the level of threat:

We should expect U.S. media to report both incitement and attacks using the same terms they employ when this kind of violence happens in other countries.

If you’ve already voted, thank you. Please help others get to the polls.

And prepare for anything over the next four to five days.

Election Day Countdown: 4 Days

After the phone call I just got, I have zero patience for language policing today. If you can’t stomach f-bombs, hit the the exit now.

I am goddamned sick of this tangerine-tainted blowhard and his constant incitement to violence. I am FURIOUS at his malignancy — his trash-talking about anyone who is competent and capable while he systematically fails this country.

I am just so fucking fed up with having to worry about COVID because that slack-assed corrupt sponge can’t be bothered to turn over the job of stemming the pandemic to competent people and instead finds every opportunity to siphon money off every thing he touches.

Wow, Rayne, you seem triggered…

You’re goddamned right I’m triggered. My younger kid just called and told me their boss tested positive for COVID. They’ve been in contact with their boss several times this week indoors at a retail entertainment venue, though part of those times the boss or my kid was wearing a mask.

And my spouse was in contact with the same boss at least three times in the last week, indoors, not wearing a mask all the time.

One of my BFFs was also in contact several times with the same COVID-positive person, indoors, with and without a mask.

All three — kid, spouse, friend — will have to get tested. If any of them test positive, I have to get tested, and then I have to make a bunch of phone calls to people with whom we’ve been in contact.

I’ve had three different companies here in my house doing repairs this week — two teams didn’t wear masks, one did.

My spouse met our other kid up north last weekend to go bow hunting, staying overnight with my elderly in-laws, one of whom is being treated for cancer. I dread telling my older kid about the potential exposure because they were just tested 10 days ago due to a workplace exposure; the test administrator injured my kid with the swab. Kid has a little PTSD after that episode and is reluctant to get tested any time soon.

Our financial advisor met my spouse after a multi-state road trip earlier this week — they’re on their way back across the same states. This advisor is a self-employed small business owner, has kids at home who are in a K-12 public school.

My kid’s COVID-positive boss is a small business owner — a first-time business owner who hasn’t yet finished their second full year running this operation. The business may have to shut down for two weeks depending on the rules covering their type of business.

Meanwhile, the utterly useless apricot-brained fuckwit is campaigning yet again in my state after causing a small spike in COVID cases when he campaigned here in September, spouting this kind of trash in front of his unmasked mouth-breathing base:

God damn it.

My kid’s boss, somebody we’ve known for years, one of my spouse’s friends, is now part of today’s COVID statistics.

For all I know my kid’s boss may have a second wave infection from the September campaign rally. Nobody is making money here off that wave of infection. Nobody will make money off the second wave.

Unless you’re an executive or stockholder of Regeneron up to this week’s problems with phase 2/3 trials of COVID therapy drug remdesivir, that is. What a pity for Trump’s Briarcliff member, Regeneron CEO Leonard Schleifer.

How the hell is this country supposed to return to normal if it never makes a sustained effort to stop COVID’s spread?

How is the economy supposed to turn around when the one person who could apply the powers of the executive branch to effectively end the pandemic, persists in undermining the states’ efforts, incites seditious acts against states, and actively spreads COVID by holding rallies which are not socially distanced or mask-mandatory?

How is this country supposed to simply muddle through without leadership to a safe and effective vaccine which may be one to two years away?

Vote that fucking hacktastic moron out of office in four days if you haven’t already cast a vote.

Help others vote that stupid orange fuckweasel out of the White House if you have already voted.

Do it for the 228,701 Americans who have died from COVID, and all the families who have to put up with this unending COVID circus.

Election Day Countdown: 5 Days

There are five days left until Election Day.

More than 228,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 to date. Most of these deaths were wholly preventable had the Trump administration responded appropriately to the pandemic back in January-February.

But there is an additional excess of deaths — persons who didn’t die of COVID-19 but who would not have died had there not been such a lousy national response to the pandemic.

My sibling may have been one of those excess deaths eight weeks ago.

Please, no condolences are necessary. I’d rather not chew up comment space with them and my sibling would be annoyed.

What I would much rather see is a discussion about the additional burdens on Americans the Trump administration has placed on them because Trump didn’t want to spook the market ahead of the election.

And because the Trump administration thanks to Trump’s monstrous hack of a son-in-law Jared Kushner decided that issuing federal aid to blue states wouldn’t help Trump’s re-election odds.

~ ~ ~

I wrote in August about the additional hassle the pandemic and Trump’s governance failures have caused my family because every health care activity requires more effort, more resources.

My father’s situation took nearly a month longer to resolve than necessary and with increased risks from complications. We were lucky his condition resolved with very little intervention after months of therapy and monitoring.

He had insurance to cover the majority of expenses and adequate savings to handle out-of-pocket expenses. But this is not the case for far too many Americans who’ve lost their jobs because of the uncontrolled pandemic. They will be digging themselves out of financial holes for too long if they happen to need health care this year or next.

All because Trump couldn’t be the president this country needed.

All because Trump is a malignant narcissist who is only worried about his own skin and his enablers are only worried about their own.

~ ~ ~

The insult added to injury is that COVID patients die alone. Their families can’t be with them in COVID ICU.

The Lincoln Project made a short effective ad which comes close to conveying the heartbreak of not being able to be with a loved one during their health crisis, but surprisingly the otherwise aggressive team pulled their punches by not making it absolutely clear death comes without the solace of familial touch.

And again, it’s not just COVID patients affected. My sibling died without their family around them because they couldn’t have visitors who may bring COVID into the ICU.

One family member per day could go in during limited visiting hours. One family member could tell them what we felt for them and tell them it was okay to go.

They died alone because of goddamned Donald fucking Trump.

~ ~ ~

My sibling was one of the excess deaths we don’t talk enough about as unnecessary collateral damage.

They had a health condition which under normal circumstances was and had been manageable.

But because of COVID they were extremely worried about contracting the virus in public spaces. They didn’t seek their regular health care as they would have had there not been an uncontrolled pandemic. Living in a red state which adopted Trumpian COVID denialism exacerbated the situation.

They died for lack of adequate health care about twenty years too soon.

All because of useless and corrupt Donald fucking Trump.

~ ~ ~

Listening with gritted teeth to yet another of Trump’s wretched displays of poor temperament for the office of the presidency, I thought of a Biblical quote. It’s been popularized in Spider-Man comics as the Peter Parker principle; the character is cautioned by his Uncle Ben with a paraphrase of Luke 12:48:

To whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked.

Donald Trump has had so much opportunity given to him because of his privilege as a white man of European descent with accumulated family wealth, even if ill-gotten. He pissed it all away. Even if it was merely converted through laundering from immediate wealth to untouchable wealth, it was turned from treasure to trash.

He’s done the same with this country’s treasure — its relationships with other countries, its economy, its aspirations from founding to become a better country, the light of the world, a city on a hill.

He’s converted whatever he could grab with his stubby little fingers into personal wealth which has disappeared into the same corrupt ratholes more than a billion dollars of personal wealth has vanished.

He’s gathered around him a cabinet and executive staff who are just as corrupt.

In spite of all the trust they have been given, access to our blood and treasure, they have frittered it away.

If it were only economic damage they wreaked they would eventually be forgotten and their conservative enablers would find a way to forgive their wretchedness.

But they are stealing from us what cannot be measured in dollars or hours of labor.

They are stealing and destroying the most precious moments we have, the ones when nothing else on earth matters.

And while roughly a million Americans mourn loved ones lost to wholly preventable spread of COVID, Donald fucking Trump gaslighted all of us about the disease:

The body count doesn’t lie, you miserable slack-assed excuse for an executive.

~ ~ ~

I will come to terms with the loss of my sibling as will the rest of my family. This month we’ll muddle through the first awkward and painful holiday with one too many plates, a few too many beers, and one too many empty chairs.

But I will never be able to get over the anger I have over the loss of those last minutes we could have shared with my sibling saying goodbye.

I will never forgive the hundreds of thousands of farewells which American friends and families could only make by phone if at all.

Call me bitter, I don’t fucking care. But I hope when time has its inevitable way as it does with us all, that Donald fucking Trump dies alone and he’s aware enough to know it as darkness falls.

Until then I will settle for his ass being kicked to the curb at the polls.

~ ~ ~

If you’ve already voted, thank you. If can help others vote, please do so.

Yet Another Warning from Michigan: FBI Busted Plot to Kidnap “That Woman”

As you’ve probably heard by now, the FBI foiled a plot to kidnap Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The conspirators intended to move her across state lines to Wisconsin where she would be tried by a kangaroo court for “treason.”

Timing of the plot and events which may have inspired this idiocy:

10-MAR-2020 — Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-4, declaring a state of emergency in Michigan to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

13-MAR-2020 — Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-5 canceling all events and assemblies over 250 people, ending on Sunday, April 5 at 5 p.m. Michigan’s public schools and churches were closed with this order.

16-MAR-2020 — Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-9, closing places of public accommodation including restaurants, bars, gymnasiums, theaters through March 30.

20-MAR-2020 — Militia group in Michigan brought to attention of FBI when group sought addresses of local law enforcement. A Confidential Human Sources (CHS) was identified during FBI interview with a concerned militia member.

23-MAR-2020 — Gov. Whitmer issued “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order 2020-21, directing all Michigan businesses and operations to temporarily suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life, effective immediately.

27-MAR-2020 — During a press conference discussing Pence’s work as head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Trump tells VP Pence, “Don’t call the woman in Michigan.”

01-APR-2020 — Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-33 expanding Executive Order 2020-4, declaring both a state of emergency and a state of disaster across the state of Michigan.

07-APR-2020 — Michigan legislature adopted a concurrent resolution to extend the states of emergency and disaster declared under the Emergency Management Act until April 30, 2020.

09-APR-2020 — First extension of Stay-Home order until May 1 due to rising COVID cases.

15-APR-2020 — Drive-in “Operation Gridlock” Protest in capital city Lansing, violating Stay-Home order; organizer received financial assistance from DeVos family.

17-APR-2020 — Trump tweeted, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!

24-APR-2020 — Second extension of Stay-Home order until May 15 due to increased COVID cases. Some restrictions were lifted on outdoor businesses. Masks ordered for all residents in public spaces.

30-APR-2020 — Armed protest in state capitol building

06-MAY-2020 — GOP-majority state house and state senate file suit against Gov. Whitmer (Michigan House of Representatives and Michigan Senate v. Whitmer)

08-MAY-2020 — Third extension of Stay-Home order until May 28. Some restrictions lifted on manufacturing as of 11-MAY-2020 as part of a phased re-opening.

21-MAY-2020 — Michigan Court of Claims ruled in favor of Gov. Whitmer in Michigan House of Representatives and Michigan Senate v. Whitmer; the state of emergency would continue without legislative approval.

22-MAY-2020 — Fourth extension of Stay-Home order until June 12. State of emergency also extended to June 19. Two northern Michigan regions were able to reopen, allowing restaurants and bars to operate at 50% capacity. Groups of 10 were permitted across the state.

01-JUN-2020 — Stay-Home order lifted with restrictions, ex. groups of 100 outdoors, outdoor fitness classes, etc.

06-JUN-2020 — Meeting of ~15 co-conspirators in Dublin, Ohio.

08-JUN-2020 — Restaurants allowed to reopen and operate across the state at 50% capacity with other mandatory changes like masks and social distancing.

08-JUN-2020 — On reopening, Harper’s brewpub restaurant in East Lansing, Michigan, violated several of the remaining emergency restrictions. Over the next month at least 185 cases of COVID will have been traced back to this facility’s reopening.

14-JUN-2020 — A key co-conspirator and a militia group member meet at a militia field training exercise.

15-JUN-2020 — Stay-Home order ends. Some restrictions remain on events and assemblies as well as public accommodation facilities.

18-JUN-2020 — Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-127, again finding that the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes a disaster and emergency throughout the State of Michigan.

18-JUN-2020 — Co-conspirators met with militia group leadership at the Second Amendment rally at the state capitol in Lansing, Michigan.

20-JUN-2020 — Several co-conspirators met at a co-conspirator’s business in Grand Rapids for planning.

25-JUN-2020 — Key co-conspirator streams a rant about Gov. Whitmer to a private Facebook group.

28-JUN-2020 — Several co-conspirators met in Munith, Michigan for a tactical training
exercise.

04-06-JUL-2020 — Holiday weekend partying results in uptick of COVID cases.

10-12-JUL-2020 — Co-conspirators attended a field training exercise in Cambria, Wisconsin which included attempting to make IEDs with balloons, BBs, and black powder.

13-JUL-2020 — Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-147, mandating the wearing of masks to contain spread of COVID-19.

18-JUL-2020 — Co-conspirators met in Ohio, discussed attacking Michigan State Police and shooting up Gov. Whitmer’s vacation home in western lower Michigan.

27-JUL-2020 — Co-conspirators discussed plan to kidnap Gov. Whitmer at vacation home, transport her to Wisconsin, and prosecute her.

09-AUG-2020 — Co-conspirators discussed obtaining intelligence about Gov. Whitmer’s Lansing home as well as attacking her at that site.

18-AUG-2020 — Co-conspirators discussed surveillance of Gov. Whitmer’s vacation home and getaway plans.

23-AUG-2020 — Co-conspirators discussed surveillance while meeting in Lake Orion, Michigan.

29-AUG-2020 — Co-conspirator and CH-2 surveil Gov. Whitmer’s vacation home.

30-AUG-2020 — Co-conspirators discuss findings of surveillance.

12-13-SEP-2020 — Co-conspirators meet in Luther, Michigan for field training exercise and practice making and using IEDs as well as tighten planning and coordination.

14-SEP-2020 — Co-conspirators discuss executing plan in late October, well before Election Day.

30-SEP-2020 — Co-conspirators discuss acquiring taser for plan.

02-OCT-2020 — Key co-conspirator confirms acquisition of taser.

06-OCT-2020 — In a 4-3 ruling along partisan lines, Michigan Supreme Court determined Gov. Whitmer did not have the authority to issue COVID-related executive orders after April 30, 2020.

07-OCT-2020 — Co-conspirators planned to meet to make payments on equipment.

07-OCT-2020 — Co-conspirator Garbin’s house was raided.

09-OCT-2020 — Arrest of ‘Wolverine Watchmen’ conspirators announced, complaint published.

I use word inspired loosely, because there doesn’t seem to be a direct link between the most aggressive emergency action and the inception and progress of this seditious terror plot. The emergency Stay-Home order was lifted the week the conspirators began planning; what restrictions remained clearly did not stop these men from traveling, meeting, organizing, and planning.

They also didn’t have a legitimate beef about the effectiveness of the governor’s actions, any more so than the polarized and irrational MIGOP-controlled state legislature. Eleventh largest by population, Michigan was hit hard early in the pandemic, now ranking 10th in overall COVID-19 deaths. But since Whitmer declared the state of emergency and enacted the Stay-Home order along with a phased reopening process, the state’s daily death toll has plummeted and its cases per million is now 40th in the country.

You’ll recall from posts I wrote about the protests opposing Whitmer’s orders back in April that the protests cause spikes in active confirmed cases beginning 5-10 days after the protests. They’re visible here in these charts.

The plot wasn’t about Whitmer’s handling of COVID-19.

One only needs to look and listen to the language the conspirators used about Gov. Whitmer to know that this was about hate for a woman with the authority to give orders with regard to a deadly pandemic.

Tyranny to this baker’s dozen of white men was about a democratically-elected woman in a position of legitimate authority telling them what to do.

Trump set the tone for this by refusing to help Whitmer when she asked for federal assistance, by refusing to allow Pence as COVID-19 Task Force chair to listen to Whitmer, and by tweeting, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” after the first protest against Whitmer’s orders.

His tweets yesterday attacking Whitmer again even after the arrests of kidnapping conspirators only reinforce the real intent of Trump and seditious domestic terrorists alike.

What will Trump’s tweets spawn next as we head into a second wave of COVID-19, this time with Michigan’s governor disempowered by Republicans on the state supreme court?

2020 Vice Presidential Debate: In the Land of the Shoshone

This post is dedicated to discussion of the Vice Presidential debate between current VP Mike Pence and Democratic VP candidate Senator Kamala Harris.

The debate is scheduled to begin at 9:00 PM ET and will take place in the Nancy Peery Marriott Auditorium at the University of Utah’s Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah.

University of Utah’s efforts to prevent the dispersion of the candidates’ aerosolized exhalations — particularly those of Pence who has been in contact with infected persons within the last week — are absolutely laughable, evident in this photo of the stage (via NBC):

Harris had asked for a plexiglass partition between the candidates which the Commission on Presidential Debates approved though not without complaint by Team Pence. What the Commission furnished is a joke, clearing the candidates’ heads by no more than 18″.

Check-out clerks at major grocery store chains and banks have more protection than this.

I’m crossing my fingers that Harris’s people have reached out to SC Senate candidate Jaime Harrison to see if they could borrow the folding plexiglass screen he used when debating Lindsey Graham.

Or found a mask with a built-in mic (why hasn’t this become a thing?) so that she has more protection but is still audible.

~ ~ ~

Like the three Presidential debates, this event is booked in a red state venue. None of the events organized by the allegedly nonpartisan, nonprofit Commission on Presidential Debates is scheduled for a blue state.

Partisan bias could well explain the casual attitude toward infection control.

Utah’s state nickname is the Gateway to the West, but Native Americans know this is land taken from Ute, Paiute, and Shoshone tribes. Though some of the state falls under sketchy treaties, Salt Lake City itself is unceded land of the Northwestern Shoshone. Let’s hope this is recognized at some point during the evening.

USA Today’s Susan Page is the scheduled moderator, who has a conflict of interest:

… A potential conflict of interest has arisen in the vice-presidential debate. In late 2018, moderator Susan Page hosted a party in honor of Mike Pence’s protégé Seema Verma, who runs the Medicare and Medicaid programs for the Trump administration. As New York’s Ed Kilgore notes, the controversy centers on “whether a working journalist at Page’s level who has been hobnobbing with Mike Pence’s best-known associate in the Trump administration ought to be moderating his debate with Kamala Harris.” …

And in spite of the hubbub which arose when this conflict of interest was identified, Page and USA Today have refused to do anything about it — apparently there are no other journalists at USA Today covering the presidential race who are free of conflicts…? Or COVID-negative?

Sure hope it comes up in the debate that Mike Pence has had to return to DC when Air Force 2 was turned around mid-flight on its way to or from New Hampshire not once but twice in the last 18 months.

Has any journalist confirmed it was Air Force 2 hitting a bird which caused Pence to turn around on September 22 and not something else? Or did they leave it to Pence’s communications people to explain this?

~ ~ ~ 

Add these two dates to your calendar for the remaining two presidential debates — if Trump is healthy enough to participate:

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

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

I’m not holding my breath for these.

Federalist Society Super-Spreader Plausible Deniability

There’s a remarkable paragraph in this NYT story explaining that the White House refuses to contact trace the attendees at the party for “pro-life” Amy Coney Barrett, a feeding frenzy of Federalist Society members itching to fill another SCOTUS seat, where numerous people caught a deadly disease.

The White House has decided not to trace the contacts of guests and staff members at the Rose Garden celebration 10 days ago for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, where at least eight people, including the president, may have become infected, according to a White House official familiar with the plans.

The paragraph suggests, based on no evidence, that the gala of Federalist Society members is where the President got sick.

And yet the rest of the story suggests that the White House knows that’s not what happened, that the President may well have, instead, made everyone else sick.

If the White House didn’t at least suspect that the President was the vector at the gala, after all, they would not pursue the policy of keeping all contact tracing in-house and limiting it to those who contacted the President for the two days — presumably meaning 48 hours — in advance of his late Thursday night confirmed diagnosis.

Instead, it has limited its efforts to notifying people who came in close contact with Mr. Trump in the two days before his Covid diagnosis Thursday evening. It has also cut the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has the government’s most extensive knowledge and resources for contact tracing, out of the process.

[snip]

After Mr. Trump’s illness was diagnosed, an internal C.D.C. email on Friday asked the agency’s scientists to be ready to go to Washington for contact tracing, but a request from the White House for assistance never came, according to two senior C.D.C. scientists.

Instead, the tracing efforts are being run by the White House Medical Unit, a group of about 30 doctors, nurses and physician assistants, headed by Dr. Sean Conley, the White House physician, who has been the public spokesman for Mr. Trump’s doctors.

Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said that a “robust contact tracing program” was underway “led by the White House Medical Unit with C.D.C. integration.” The “integration” refers to an epidemiologist from the C.D.C. who has been detailed to the unit since March, according to a White House official.

The two day contact tracing is guaranteed not to show that Trump could have infected anyone at the debate, which was slightly more than 48 hours before Trump was diagnosed.

More importantly, it guarantees that Trump cannot be shown to be the vector that exposed a great number of important people, including at least three Senators critical to the effort to rush through Barnett’s confirmation before the election, and possibly even the Chief Justice.

The NYT has very good reason to suspect that Trump was infected before the Federalist Society super-spreader party. That’s because NYT White House Correspondent Michael Shear is among the journalists who has tested positive in this latest White House cluster. Shear believes he had to have been infected on September 26, but he didn’t attend the super-spreader event. He showed up to the White House earlier that day to take a COVID test, and then, later that evening, flew on Air Force One, where Trump spoke to reporters, not wearing a mask, for about 10 minutes.

While there are other possibilities, if Trump infected Shear during that short conversation, it would mean that the President would have been shedding COVID earlier in the day, all over the VIPs at the event full of Federalist Society members.

By admitting they need to contract trace back the two days before Trump was diagnosed, the White House is now all but admitting that Trump was already positive at the debate, meaning his 77-year old opponent has narrowly survived exposure the disease too. But they’re only doing that to avoid admitting what is quite likely, but far more damning: that he was the vector by which everyone else got infected on September 26.

Hours ago, Kellyanne Conway confirmed what her troubled daughter Claudia earlier claimed on TikTok. Claudia has now tested positive (though George, who no longer gets invited to the best Federalist Society galas, apparently did not). Kellyanne tried to suggest that there had been no delay in her own diagnosis, thereby denying that she’s the advisor described in a WSJ article who was ordered to lie about her diagnosis.

But there was a delay. There was a delay because the White House is desperately trying to cover up that the President may have been the one who infected all those VIPs. Those VIPs, and now an innocent 15-year old young woman.

Update: Clarified why I’m branding this to the “pro-life” Federalist Society.

Update: Corrected to note that Joe Biden was likely exposed to the disease. There’s no indication he (or John Roberts, who was likely also exposed to it) have contracted it. h/t TW

Update: Shear told Axios that his spouse has now tested positive.

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.

~ ~ ~

What A Week Trash Talk

Since the period where there was no sports to trash talk about, and this turned into a music blog, it has been hard to get back into the normal trash groove. Let’s try to get back to it, because everything else is botched up.

The NBA has actually been pretty good in their bubble, but not that many are watching as normally would. Ditto for the NHL and MLB. For all the clamor to get sports “open” from all kinds of preening politicians, maybe that is okay. Sports are great, but there is a problem going on in the world.

The NFL is also back, and initially without much drama. That worm has turned. The Tennessee Titans had a full on Trump White House like outbreak. The Saints had a scare that, so far, seems to have abated. But then, as they were preparing to make the already perilous trip to Arrowhead to meet the Chiefs, the Patriots’ Cam Newton has tested positive for Covid. That’s a problem, both for the Pats and the league. The first three weeks went quite well, but the inevitable has arrived. The Covid has arrived, and not just as to the Trump crew. King Roger (h/t Scribe) we have a problem. It is sad in a way, because Newton’s reclamation in New England was one of the really good stories in the NFL so far.

On a more somber note, Bob Gibson has passed. He was simply one of the best athletes in history. He did not just star in baseball, but was also a Harlem Globetrotter. If he had played in the NBA instead of MLB, he might have rivaled Elgin Baylor. He was that good. But MLB it was, and what a career. Read this great story.

Here is the Gibson stat line from just 1968. Keep in mind, this is just ONE season.

.112 ERA
34 Starts
28 Complete Games
13 Shutouts

Yep, that is pretty good.

Music today by Johnny Rivers. No, he did not write all his songs. But neither did Elvis. Johnny Rivers was great. With a hat tip to the Dodge City Cowboy Band.

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