Nel's New Day

September 29, 2020

Election Strategy – Lying about COVID-19

The election strategy for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) surrounding COVID-19: (1) convincing people it is gone; or (2) making scientists release false information. Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC director, is losing patience with the latter. Late last week, an NBC News reporter overheard him talking about Scott Atlas, DDT’s most recent “medical” guru, saying “Everything he says is false.” Atlas opposes the use of masks and social distancing because he believes in “herd immunity”—everyone getting exposed to the virus until they die or get well. He claims he has never recommended this idea to DDT, but he has been promoting it for months in the media and at task force meetings. 

Atlas’ misinformation from Atlas includes the myth that children don’t get sick from COVID-19, a lie that Atlas’ former colleagues at Stanford University medical School denounced. DDT uses Atlas’ lies to push for reopening the schools. Last summer, White House officials used “alternative data” to push the CDC to stay quiet about the danger of opening up schools. Among other attempts, a member of VP Mike Pence’s staff was told to create more charts and reports demonstrating a decline in cases among youth while the number surged.

CDC caved into DDT’s minimizing the virus last March by watering down recommendations and failing to stop the huge spread from Smithfield Foods meatpacking plants in Sioux Falls (SD). On her MSNBC news program, Rachel Maddow reported the shift between the CDC initial investigative report and the final recommendations that Redfield required the team to make. He told them to “remove anything that sounded like a real recommendation, … anything that made it seem like the meat company actually had to do something” to protect their workers. Typically the new recommendations added “if possible to the original ones.

The media barely covered the information in Maddow’s report, and none of the four states bordering the Smithfield plant reported on CDC’s actions. Two days after Maddow’s report, she stated “multiple sources confirmed” her reporting and suggested Redfield was not honest during his congressional testimony when he denied his office communicated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture before he demanded the report’s change. Weakened recommendations may have been partially responsible for the disease’s spread to 17,000 infections and 91 deaths in April and May among workers. The highest number was in departments where employees worked under six feet apart on production lines.

Impatient with the lack of fast breakthroughs in his COVID-19 problems, DDT attacks his scientists and contradicts their public health messaging by downplaying the coronavirus threat. Morale is low, according to a CDC official who said he and his associates “have no confidence in our leadership.” Dr. Deborah Birx told people she is “distressed” with the task force direction and doesn’t know how long she will remain with the group. FDA’s top career officials wrote an op-ed for WaPo claiming the agency’s independence and commitment to science. In a Senate hearing, CDC Director Robert Redfield talked about his disappointment that “people at HHS” accused the CDC of a “deep state.”

Two people of concern, Roger Stone’s protégé Michael Caputo and Paul Alexander, have left their positions, Caputo for 60 days and Alexander permanently after they rewrote CDC materials to satisfy DDT. Before they left, Caputo accused CDC scientists of “sedition,” overturning a country or its leader, for publishing scientific facts. Caputo also spread the lie that left-wing hit squads were preparing for armed insurrection after the election.

Olivia Troye, VP Mike Pence’s former homeland security adviser, described how DDT and the White House undercut and demoralized many of the public health experts. She resigned from her position so she could tell the public about DDT’s unsuitability for his office. Redfield also faces criticism from federal health officials because he caves in to DDT’s lies by reversing scientific positions to satisfy DDT; i.e., removing information from the CDC website about the airborne transmission of the virus.

Robert Cardillo, former deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and ex-director of National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, has been expressing his concern about DDT’s failure to protect the U.S., both in television interviews and in a Denver Post op-ed.  After describing his nonpartisan stance throughout the career with six presidents, four Republicans and two Democrats, he wrote:

“Suffice to say that the person you see presiding over COVID-19 press conferences is the same one in the privacy of his office. He has little patience for facts or data that do not comport with his personal worldview. Thus, the conversations are erratic and less than fully thoughtful.”

According to Cardillo, DDT puts more weight on “the word of dictators like [Russian President] Vladimir Putin” than the U.S. intelligence community. DDT also “bases his decisions on his instincts, and his instincts are based upon a personal value proposition — what’s in it for me?” Cardillo’s echos the fears of former DHS chief of staff Miles Taylor concerning advisors’ worry about DDT’s “mental acuity.” 

Known for his dishonesty and unthinking loyalty to DDT, HHS Secretary Alex Azar declared sole authority to sign any new rules about foods, medicines, medical devices and vaccines for all of his 17 agencies including FDA and CDC. This action followed the departure of Caputo and Alexander.

Before Caputo left, he organized a cheery $300 million ad campaign to hype DDT’s handling of the crisis. Celebrities touting DDT’s eradication of the virus include Dennis Quaid, CeCe Winans, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Garth Brooks. The DDT-requested taxpayer-paid campaign will appear before Election Day. Caputo complained because the “leftist scientists working for the government” oppose his lies. Ten current and former health officials expressed concerns about the scope, goals, and funding for the campaign taking congressionally-appropriated money from CDC ($300 million) and FDA ($15 million). The Ad Council, a nonprofit consortium of advertising companies working with the government on public health and social issues campaigns, was not contacted; Caputo chose his business partner to make the videos. Caputo also excluded the professional messaging staff at CDC. Most of the firms expressing interest in the contract are not well-known.

The ads, to be ready before the election, are intended to “defeat despair and inspire hope,” persuading people to return to work, reopen the economy (odd for a health agency), and use the vaccine when it is available. Half the people in the U.S. declare they won’t use the first vaccine coming out because of its political approval instead of being science-based. Only 14 percent of people are more likely to get vaccinated by a DDT-recommended product. 

Vanity Fair’s investigative journalist Katherine Eban reported on a March meeting at the White House in which DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, believes in the private sector’s ability to deal with crises instead of government. “Free markets will solve this,” he said.

DDT commonly brags about how many plants he’s building in the United States in swing states, claiming that they come from his threats of higher tariffs. Three of the states have no new plants, and other plants in Michigan were announced but not started. Even more misleading is the campaign ad showing DDT in a hard hat touring a steel plant. That plant laid off 737 workers in April, just some of U.S. Steel’s 2,700 layoffs. More layoffs and furloughs are threatened. Steelworkers union local president Dan Simmons said, “The relief we got from the 232 [Trump’s steel tariffs] isn’t there now.”

One of DDT’s latest anti-Biden ploys is to accuse him of taking drugs—because he does such a good job in speeches and town halls—and son Jr has picked up the crazy talk. Watching Jr can make people wonder who is actually getting the drugs and listening to him is just as bad:

“You think this guy’s gonna be there at 3 o’clock in the morning and you gotta … will he be with it? Are they giving him something…?” [Video here.]

Even worse is seeing Jr asking people to enlist in the “army” at the polling places. The ad told people to go to DefendYourBallot.com, but my virus protector suggested I not go there.  

Republicans tried to smear and blame Democrats after Brad Parscale, DDT’s former campaign manager, threatened his own life. It turns out that it was a case of Parscale’s alcoholism and abusive behavior toward his wife. Parscale lost his job last summer because of bad leadership and excessive spending. DDT’s campaign funds were down by almost 90 percent by last month.

In only ten states is the virus lessening while it surges in almost half the states, three-fourths of them “red states” and mostly in the Midwest and Plains areas. DDT continues to cheer the number of cases and deaths with his usual claim of “rounding the corner of the pandemic.” He continues to ridicule people wearing masks and social distancing, and polling majorities continue to disapprove of his virus hardline. Within the past few days, governors of Missouri and Virginia and their wives have all been diagnosed with COVID-19. DDT also brags about how soon the vaccine will appear although his experts predict the first generation won’t be ready until next year. 

Tuesday night is the first debate between DDT and Biden. We’ll see what DDT has to say.

April 20, 2017

Join the March for Science

The GOP War on Science is not new, but it gained massive traction with the election of a Republican president and Congress with the possibility of a totally Republican Supreme Court. The idea that science is vital to protecting humanity through effective decision-making is now passé among federal government leaders with the mighty dollar—or billions of them—leading the way. Draconian budget cuts to the EPA, National Institutes of Health, NOAA, NASA, and BLM aren’t enough to satisfy these people; all that funding is going to nuclear weapons and the military. In addition, leadership is muzzling people, attacking evidence, and erasing information about climate change from websites.

This coming Saturday is the 47th anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970. Instead of sitting by and letting conservatives destroy the planet, scientists are coming out of their labs and research areas for the March for Science. The main one is in the U.S. capital, but 200 organizations are planning another 500 marches around the world—all kicking off a week of action culminating in the People’s Climate March on April 29. According to the March for Science website, organizers are “advocating for evidence-based policymaking, science education, research funding, and inclusive and accessible science.”

The March’s Facebook page is 850,000 strong with information about people, posters, slogans, science and “misinformation” that the anti-science Heartland Institute sends to schools and science teachers. The March’s participants vary from a neuroscientist marching “for the thousands of people suffering from spinal cord injury” to SF fans marching “because you can’t have science fiction without science!”

One segment of the marchers is protesting the current policy regarding drug use in the United States overturning gains in the last eight years for an evidence-based drug policy. Throughout the nation’s history, drug laws have criminalized minorities: opium laws in the 1800s targeting Chinese immigrants, marijuana laws directed toward Hispanics in the early 1900s, and then crack laws of the 1980s disproportionately incarcerating black men. Research shows that drug prohibition contributes to worse health and higher mortality rates among drug users while growing an illicit drug market. Targeting minorities negatively affects family and social support and eliminates economic opportunity.

Fear-based drug control tactics fail to provide information in their efforts to terrify policymakers and the public in opposition to success for drug control demonstrated in other countries that expand treatment access and decriminalize drugs. The current administration ignores research on these successes for a racial “law and order” position, always a failure.

According to the federal government, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, the highest level of “potential for abuse” and no medical value. It is considered more dangerous than meth, opium, or cocaine. With cannabis in this category, medical researchers are helpless to examine studies from other countries that refute the U.S. position. Across the nation, this one “drug” is legal in 28 states for medical purposes and in another eight states for recreational use. Its popularity has caused companies to develop synthetic “look alike” drugs that increase the chance of overdoses and other negative side effects.

Earth Day’s goal, 47 years ago and now, is to mobilize people around environmental issues. The first march of 20 million people led to the Environmental Protection Agency, created by GOP President Richard Nixon, and vital environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. The Earth Day revolution began at a time of dangerous air pollution, rivers on fire, genetic changes in wildlife, and children with diseases and birth defects in the United States. Last year the nation signed the Paris Climate Agreement with 174 other countries.

After Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) appointed a climate-change denier for EPA Secretary, he signed a directive to reverse President Obama’s progress toward slowing down climate change. DDT’s goal is to promote oil, coal, and natural gas over all other objectives at a time when fossil fuel companies are switching to renewable energy sources. The order mandates suspension, revision, or rescinding any policies that “burden” the production of domestic energy resources, including nuclear power. Gone are the order to consider climate change in environmental reviews, including locations of oil drilling, and the one to factor in the potential economic damage from climate change. DDT’s order also removes the moratorium on new coal leases on federal land and remove regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Fracking companies will also not be required to seal off waste water in storage tanks and to disclose chemicals they pump underground. Methane emissions from oil and gas operations no longer need to be reduced.

Other DDT “climate crimes” include his reinstatement of two pipelines (at a profit to himself), allowing lead ammunition on federal lands and waters, ordering the EPA to reconsider car emissions requirements, and all his appointments.

Scott Pruitt, DDT’s EPA Secretary, set the new “tone” in his speech a week ago at a coal mine that was fined for contaminating waterways with toxic materials. His “back to basics” agenda devolves oversight of clean air and water in exchange for jobs in industries such as coal, oil, and gas. The new direction is support of the coal industry. The company owing that mine had almost entirely divested itself of West Virginia coal mines and is looking for buyers for this last one to be completely out of the business.

According to the EPA website:

Our mission is to protect human health and the environment.

 

EPA’s purpose is to ensure that:

  • all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work;
  • national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information;
  • federal laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively;
  • environmental protection is an integral consideration in U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade, and these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy;
  • all parts of society — communities, individuals, businesses, and state, local and tribal governments — have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks;
  • environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive; and the United States plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment.

Demographics – Electric power generation and fuels, Q4 2016

In addition to Prutt failing to meet his agency’s mission and purpose, he claimed that ending regulations will boost the economy and create jobs. Last month, however, the Institute for Policy Integrity released a study showing that environmental regulations have essentially no effect on the employment rate in the long term. The government would be better economically to support jobs in renewable energy as shown by the chart on the right

A four-year EPA review shows that three pesticides–chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion–“pose a risk to nearly every endangered species they studied.” Dow Chemical claimed that these substances are safe, and Pruitt sided with Dow against his own agency in the case of chlorpyrifos and is poised to agree with Dow on the other toxic substances. Dow gave DDT $1 million for his inauguration, and the company’s CEO is a presidential adviser.

When questioned during his confirmation hearings, Energy Secretary Rick Perry testified that “science tells us that the climate is changing, and that human activity, in some manner, impacts that change.” After his confirmation, the agency’s staff was told to never use phrases “climate change,” “emissions reduction,” and “Paris agreement” because these terms would cause a “visceral reaction.” Instead, DOE employees are to use words such as “jobs” and “infrastructure.”

New banners for the Bureau of Land Management demonstrate the shift from environmental concerns to coal. The image of two hikers looking over a magnificent vista of green mountains capped by snow has been replaced by these banners:

 

Can’t march? You can participate through livestreaming Washington, D.C.’s event from Democracy Now starting at 10:00 am ET.

 

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