Nel's New Day

May 15, 2020

Just a Few COVID-19 Disasters from DDT

How is Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) coping with COVID-19? An editorial in the respected British medical journal, the Lancet, lambasted DDT for his “inconsistent and incoherent national response.” Several administrations, according to the editorial, used “conservative politics” to erode CDC’s “ability to mount effective, evidence-based public health responses,” and DDT “further chipped away at the CDC’s capacity to combat infectious diseases.” The editorial listed DDT’s disastrous mistakes for the past few months, “especially on testing in the early stages of the pandemic.” It further stated that “only a steadfast reliance on basic public health principles, like test, trace, and isolate, will see the emergency brought to an end, and this requires an effective national public health agency.”

Other “conservative politics” exacerbating the health crisis:

Two months after DDT appeared to take COVID-19 seriously in mid-March, he has announced a “Operation Warp Speed” program to develop a vaccine right after the 2020 election. At his roll-out event, however, he said there may be no need for a vaccine because the virus might “go away.” The last “speed vaccine” was in 1976 for a new strain of swine flu. Concerned about costs and liability, manufacturers persuaded Congress to pass a law waiving liability. By October, reports of deaths and cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome appeared. The program was shut down after 94 reports of paralysis.  

DDT complained about the media not reporting that the U.S. has more cases than other countries because “when you test, you find something wrong with people.” He wants the media to report that “if we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.” He is making the “case” that people have COVID-19 only because they are tested. The media is definitely reporting his statement. As for DDT’s accusation that the U.S. does the most testing, the U.S. ranks 39th in the world in testing people for COVID-19. Testing is not the reason that the U.S. has one-third the number of confirmed cases in the world with under five percent of the population. DDT also said that frontline nurses and doctors “running into death” is “a beautiful thing to see.”

Instead of following advice from medical experts, DDT is “pushing for revisions that could lead to far fewer deaths being counted than originally reported, according to five administration officials working on the government’s response to the pandemic.” With the help of Dr. Deborah Birx, DDT wants the CDC death and case counts to exclude people who likely had COVID-19 but no test confirmation and people with COVID-19 but had other health issues when they died. She fed DDT the idea that CDC inflated the number of deaths as much as 25 percent whereas medical experts believe that the U.S. may have an undercount of up to 100 percent on deaths from the virus. The Abbott coronavirus rapid test, praised by DDT and used in the White House, missed one-third of positive tests in a comparison with the diagnostic company Cepheid.

Hiding information about the virus is DDT’s pattern. Earlier this year, he didn’t want to prepare for the health crisis because the stock market might go down. DDT listened to advice from his son-in-law Jared Kushner instead of scientific experts.

Florida was the first state to blatantly announce it would reduce the number of deaths from COVID-19 by attributing them to something else. Now Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is hiding the number of confirmed cases in the state by no longer publicly sharing announced that state health officials would no longer publicly share the number of workers at the state’s meat packing plants who had tested positive for the coronavirus. The Washington Post stated, “Of the 30 counties in the United States with the highest per capita prevalence of the coronavirus last week, 10 are home to major meatpacking plants. Of those 30 counties, four are in Nebraska.”

Going mask-less at a mask-making plant, DDT repeated his complaint, “cupboards were bare.” He shows a high degree of incompetence for not filling he cupboards after he was inaugurated over three years ago.

DDT has also demanded the cautious CDC guidance on safely reopening states be changed to less definitive statements. Also missing is the statement that reopening would cause resurgences of COVID-19 and customization is vital. The White House plan lacks a comprehensive approach, and CDC guidance was released after some states reopened. 

House Speaker Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had to back down from his lie that President Obama didn’t leave a plan for a pandemic—and he did it on Fox. Yet, he didn’t address whether DDT failed to follow the 69-page document, complete with charts, graphs, plans, and decision making rubrics. (You can see it here.) The cover and tables of contents. Press Secretary “I-won’t-lie-to-the-media” Kayleigh McEnany called President Obama’s 69 pages “a thin packet of paper.”

A leaked unreleased White House coronavirus task force report showing spikes of cases across the county contradicts DDT’s claim that cases “are coming down very rapidly all throughout the country.” Cases are rising in nine states, and lack of testing in 28 other states show undercounting of cases. On May 7, the top ten cities saw cases increasing by 72 percent over seven days—for example, 650 percent in St. Louis and Central City (KY). Counties with over 100 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents has grown from 59 at the end of March to over 700 in mid-April. At that time, the majority of residents of counties that becoming high-coronavirus areas are in the South, Midwest and West. Under half reside in urban cores; more than half live in suburban, outer-suburban, small-metro and rural areas. Nearly half of those counties’ voters picked DDT in 2016. This map of COVID-19 flashpoints by county shows the large incidence of increases in the South.   

Satirist Andy Borowitz wrote, “Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan, is ‘arrogantly forcing the residents of her state to remain alive,’ Attorney General William Barr charged on Friday.” After armed protesters demanding the state open up shut down the Michigan capital in a third event, the number of COVID-19 cases jumped over 1,000 on that day along with 73 more deaths. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is gradually opening up the state, but the protesters demanded it be done immediately and completely. About the protest, Whitmer said:

“When people are showing up with guns, when people are showing up with things like Confederate flags, it tells you this really isn’t about the lockdown or about a perception of a stay-home order. It’s really an organized political statement.”

As Whitmer pointed out, the fringe protesters, 14 percent of the public, and Republicans such as the Wisconsin state Supreme Court can hurt the economy and extend the time for staying at home because it will cause spiking numbers of cases. DDT says they are “responsible” people. Three weeks ago, flyers announced an anti-shutdown rally on Staten Island telling people to “bring your children,” “no mask” was needed, and come “if you’re sick.” Only the police showed up.  

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker pointed out that nationwide protests for opening up the states is fading because big money behind them is disappearing. She wrote “the Koch network … decided to run with scientists instead of the gun-toting provocateurs trampling the spring-green grass around state capitols.” Spiking cases from ignorantly reopening state will hurt their businesses.

Like the Tea Party movement of a decade ago, the protesters are controlled by wealthy far-right organizations who want to create chaos. The Convention of State—backed by politicians such as Ken Cuccinelli (acting director of immigrations services), Ben Carson (HUD secretary), Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ adviser Greg McNeilly—is behind the protests.

Truckers have been protesting for over two weeks because of the lack of stimulus aid, inadequate PPE, and low shipping rates. Today, they drove by DDT’s press briefing at the White House to express their frustration, but DDT said they were showing him “a sign of love.” Yesterday, they drowned out DDT’s interview with Fox’s Maria Bartiromo as truck horns drowned out their conversation. Shipping rates are lower 54 percent for April 2020 from April 2019, and truckers got no help from the $2.3 trillion disaster bill. About 20 percent of truckers are independent, and many others work for small companies desperate for help.  

DDT is also fighting to take food stamps from people during the pandemic by appealing a court ruling protecting hundreds of thousands of people’s access to food stamps during this time of crisis. Children, elderly, and disabled are the majority of food stamp recipients.

From Rasmussen, the country’s more conservative mainstream polling service, 23 percent of Republicans don’t want DDT as the GOP nominee. As DDT pushed the country to open up, his approval rating fell from 49 percent in February to 45 percent in April. Approval rating among voters over the age of 65 fell 20 points between March and the end of April, perhaps he said that they should die to save his economy. Only 23 percent of people trust what he says about COVID-19—maybe a reaction of his recommendation to swallow bleach for a cure.

Almost all governors have an excellent approval rate for their handling the health crisis with three states the exception. In those states, people thought governors lifted restrictions too quickly: Florida (48 percent), Texas (59 percent), and Georgia (65 percent.) The only governor rating below DDT, Georgia’s Brian Kemp was one of the last to close the state and one of the first to reopen it.

With a rough average of 2,000 additional deaths each day, the U.S. has 1,484,285 confirmed cases (until Birx changes the way CDC computes them) and 88,507 deaths as of May 15.

February 19, 2017

The Struggle to Regain Free Speech

The biggest shock I received from the news during the past few days did not come from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). It was the ruling from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down a Florida law restricting doctors’ First Amendment free speech rights when talking to patients about guns. In a 10-1 vote, the court overturned laws preventing doctors from asking patients questions about guns in their home, putting any “non-relevant” information about gun ownership in a medical record, and “unnecessarily harassing a patient about firearm ownership during an examination.” The law still prohibits discrimination against patients who don’t answer the doctors’ questions.

The ruling sends a message that government does not have the ability to prevent unpopular speech, a vital decision because government increasingly suppresses language. Although the court covers only two states other than Florida—Alabama and Georgia—it establishes a precedent for other courts and could affect the nation if the case moves to the Supreme Court to a supportive First Amendment ruling.

Throughout history governments have tried to control doctors’ free speech. Chinese doctors were sent to rural areas during the Cultural Revolution to convince patients to use contraception, and the Soviet government ordered physicians during the building of the Siberian railroad in the 1930s to deny medical leave requests and keep the order from patients. Nazi Germany taught doctors that their higher duty was to the “health of the Volk” over their individual patients while many of them performed horrifying surgical experiments on humans. Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s plan to increase the nation’s birth rate stopped doctors’ advising patients about birth control and providing information about prevention of the transmission of AIDS and HIV infections by the use of condoms.

Legislators in 38 of the United States order doctors and women’s clinics what to tell women requesting abortions, some of this information inaccurate and misleading. These doctors must tell women about a non-existent link between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer, suicide, or future infertility. In 28 states, informed consent forms and brochures in clinics must provide legislative-chosen information about alternatives to abortion, the risks associated with abortion, and fetal development stages.

Some states require non-scientific and non-medical language for doctors’ counseling, mandatory brochures, and informed consent forms such as referring to embryos as “unborn children,” insisting that life begins at conception, lying that a fetus feels pain at 20 weeks, and stating that abortion at any stage terminates the life of a separate, living being. Twenty-eight states require that women wait between 24 and 72 hours between their visits to doctors and the procedure in reflect on her decision—and an attempt to humiliate her.

Government uses religious values in their lies to prevent abortions. There is no link between abortion and breast cancer according to the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist. There is no “post-abortion syndrome,” according to the American Psychological Association (APA) or the American Psychiatric Association. The APA found that “there is no credible evidence that a single elective abortion of an unwanted pregnancy in and of itself causes mental health problems for adult women,” noting most studies that claim otherwise “suffered from serious methodological problems.” There is no link between abortion and infertility. And fetuses cannot feel pain until 24 weeks at the earliest.

This article gives a list of states with their laws as of August 2016. Since then, one more state is mandating that doctors lie to patients about the non-existent link between abortion and the occurrence of breast cancer.

The new president added fuel to the abortion controversy at the last presidential debate when he declared that doctors do abortions in the “ninth month” of pregnancy. In his false bombastic rhetoric, DDT said that “you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, on the final day.” This is called a Cesarean  or C-section, and it doesn’t kill the baby.

Religious–or pandering—lawmakers with the goal to prevent all abortions fail to recognize only 1.3 percent of abortions happen at or after 21 weeks and 91 percent of them happen before 13 weeks. The ones that occur late in the pregnancy almost always are required by dead or seriously deformed fetuses. With the religious fervor to keep all fetuses coming out of the uteruses at full term, the House voted last Thursday, 230-188, to overturn an Obama-era rule banning states from denying federal funds to Planned Parenthood and other health care providers that perform abortions. Thirteen states can return to their non-support for Planned Parenthood. A repeal of the Affordable Care Act would remove money from caring for the severely mentally and physically disabled children resulting from the lack of abortions.

Religion was the reason behind DDT’s removal of U.S. funding from any overseas organization that mentions abortion. The money doesn’t go toward abortions: the Mexico City Policy is simply a suppression of free speech. When George W Bush reimposed the global gag rule, he erased shipments of contraceptives to 16 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The elimination of these shipments cut off condoms for Lesotho Planned Parenthood, the only available place in a country where one in four women were infected with HIV. Like George W., DDT will create more unwanted pregnancies and more cases of HIV.

ddt-signs-mexico-act

The above photograph of DDT signing an act that affects millions of women shows that limiting women’s reproductive rights is largely a “guy thing.”

The worship of DDT is creating threats to democracy. In attempts to avoid protesters, over two-thirds of the congressional Republicans refuse to have town halls during the current recess. DDT’s tweet explains the lies that they are spreading:

“Professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters are proving the point of the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

GOP legislatures in at least ten states are introducing bills to stop dissent permitted by the First Amendment, that gives the “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”:

  • Colorado: Greatly increase penalties for environmental protesters up to felonies resulting in prison and fines up to $100,000.
  • Indiana: Publish officials could immediately dispatch “all available law enforcement” to clear a traffic blockade involving at least 10 people “by any means necessary.” People have nicknamed the bill “block traffic and you die.”
  • Iowa: Creates penalty of five years in prison for traffic disruptions.
  • Michigan: Boost anti-picketing penalties, especially for union members who try to boycott a business’s profits.
  • Minnesota: Penalties for blocking traffic.
  • Missouri: Prohibit demonstrators from wearing masks or robes. (Does that count the Ku Klux Klan?)
  • North Carolina: Imprison people who intimidate ex-officials because a group followed former Gov. Pat McCrory (king of the “potty police” law) and chanting “Shame!” His discriminatory law cost the state millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs.
  • North Dakota: Criminalize road protests, restrict wearing apparel, and allow government to sue for enforcement costs. An additional proposal would exempt drivers from liability if they injure or kill a pedestrian obstructing traffic on a public road.
  • Virginia: Imprison people engaged in an “unlawful assembly” after “having been lawfully warned to disperse.”
  • Washington: Classify as “economic terrorism” any permit-less protest that causes harm to the flow of commerce.

DDT has his phone back and is angrily tweeting his “war on the press.” His latest salvo is declaring the media as the “enemy of the people.” Beginning with The New York Times, CNN and NBC News, he quickly added ABC and CBS. That’s a major U.S. newspaper and all three mainstream television channels. DDT is patterning his actions on ancient Rome and later Russia’s communist revolution a century ago which was followed by massive purges ordered by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

DDT rants included a quote from Thomas Jefferson about his hate for the press. The press quoted DDT but failed to show how DDT’s message was out of context.  The Founding Father also said,“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

We can only hope that the 11th Circuit Court took the first step toward reinstating free speech and free press in the United States as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“Indifference about the distinction between truth and lies is the precondition of fascism. When truth perishes so does freedom.”—Simon Shama, British historian

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