Can’t Take Any More Tuesday Reads

Richard Prince, Nurse of Greenmeadow (2002)

Good Morning!!

I’m going through one of my “I can’t take it anymore” phases. Yesterday I almost succeeded in shutting out the news entirely until last night when I accidentally learned that Trump claims to be taking hydroxycholoquine. He has to be lying, right? But the White House doctor sorta kinda confirmed it.

CNN: Trump says he is taking hydroxychloroquine though health experts question its effectiveness.

President Donald Trump claimed Monday he is taking daily doses of hydroxychloroquine, a drug he’s long touted as a potential coronavirus cure even as medical experts and the US Food and Drug Administration question its efficacy and warn of potentially harmful side effects.

Speaking at a meeting of restaurant executives, Trump said he began taking the antimalarial drug after consulting the White House doctor, though stopped short of saying his physician had actually recommended the drug.

“A couple of weeks ago, I started taking it,” Trump said. He later said he’d been taking it every day for a week and a half.
The admission was a dramatic development in Trump’s attempts to promote hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for coronavirus, which began earlier in the outbreak and has been met with resistance from medical professionals.

Because the drug is prescribed to treat malaria and other conditions, Trump has cast it as safe and suggested coronavirus patients have little to lose by trying it.

The infirmary at Helgelandsmoen, Edvard Munch

But there are concerns about using the drug for coronavirus, which Trump claimed he doesn’t have:

…at least one study has shown the drug does not work against Covid-19 and could cause heart problems.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It follows a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that also showed the drug doesn’t fight the virus.

Even before these reports were published, the FDA and the National Institutes of Health issued warnings about using the drug for coronavirus patients.

Trump said he hadn’t been exposed, and that he started taking the drug because he had heard from frontline responders who sent him letters saying they were taking it preventatively.

There’s no evidence for using it as a preventative, but Trump claims it works because “I get a lot of positive calls about it.” Shouldn’t this be the last straw for the V.P. and the Trump Cabinet? Shouldn’t they be invoking the 25th Amendment today? But of course it won’t happen, and the media will try to normalize his latest insanity.

At The Los Angeles Times, Chris Megerian, Noah Bierman, and Eli Stokols remind us that the hyroxychloroquine controversy is just part of Trump’s attempts to distract us from all the deaths he’s responsible for: Trump lashes out with distractions and disinformation.

President Trump has accelerated his attacks on government watchdogs, judges, reporters and other independent voices as he runs for reelection, escalating his spread of disinformation about perceived enemies and his administration’s record during the COVID-19 crisis.

Trump fired yet another inspector general, raged against a government whistleblower and repeatedly retweeted video of a local TV reporter being harassed in New York — all since Friday. He also amplified a sinister conspiracy theory he dubbed “Obamagate” in which he alleges, but never specifies, crimes by his predecessor.

Angry Nurse, Astrid Haereid

On Monday, Trump abruptly said he has been taking hydroxychloroquine pills daily for “about a week and a half” as a preventative against the novel coronavirus, dramatically intensifying his efforts to promote an unproved anti-malaria drug that he has touted as a potential “game changer” for dealing with the pandemic.

His comments caused alarm because the Food and Drug Administration warned last month that the prescription drug has “not been shown to be safe and effective” at treating or preventing COVID-19, saying it could cause “serious heart rhythm problems.”

It’s crazy making.

Experts struggled to think of a historical parallel where the president has turned the world’s most powerful and influential office into a megaphone for wholesale fabrications and bizarre claims in an effort to confuse voters and salvage his own political future.

“Trump is certainly not the first politician to lie or invent stories,” said Eileen Culloty, who researches disinformation at Dublin City University in Ireland. “But his history of making baseless, conspiratorial claims — whether it’s Obama’s birth certificate, linking Ted Cruz’s family to the Kennedy assassination or now Obamagate — is striking for its scale and frequency.”

Critics said Trump’s messaging was particularly destructive as Americans struggle with the pandemic, which has crippled the economy and killed more than 90,000 in the U.S. as of Monday.

“A pandemic is the perfect laboratory for disinformation because people are scared, they’re anxious — and all of the social science around conspiracy theories shows when people feel anxious and scared, they’re more likely to believe conspiracy theories,” said Richard Stengel, a former editor of Time magazine and former senior State Department official.

“Trump has figured that out. This campaign is headed to a low point that we’ve never experienced before in American history, because he is not at all compelled to align his message with reality,” he added.

Read more at the LA Times.

The Nurse, Jose Perez

Richard Stengel, quoted in the LA Times piece, writes at Vanity Fair about what Trump’s incompetence has done to our country’s reputation: The Bungling Superpower: COVID-19 Has Recast America as a Global Chump.

When I was under secretary of state for public diplomacy during the Barack Obama administration—the job that is essentially the chief marketing officer for the American brand around the world—I found that the most common request I got from international diplomats and leaders was, could I help them get in touch with the Silicon Valley tech companies? Would I introduce them to someone at Google, Apple, and Facebook? Our brand differentiator was no longer drones, Tomahawks, and foreign assistance—though all of them still mattered—it was search, likes, and Twitter. No, we weren’t as generous and deep-pocketed as we once had been, nor could we build bridges and highways like China was doing, but we were seen as the land of the future, and people wanted to know how we did it. It was a welcome change.

But the election of Donald Trump and our inept response to the coronavirus has reversed much of that. Even when we were the arrogant and galumphing superpower—a continuation of the Ugly American stereotype from the 1950s—we were always seen as competent. Yes, we were headstrong and naive, but we got things done. Now, thanks to the combination of Trump’s much-mocked America First doctrine and his administration’s chaotic and chuckleheaded response to the coronavirus, the Trump administration has recast our brand in a new way: the bungling superpower. The country that created the iPhone could not figure out how to manufacture enough cotton swabs. While Germany is led by a woman with a doctorate in quantum chemistry, the U.S. president was suggesting that people inject disinfectant to cure the virus.

Nursing, by Jeff Conway

Last week, in a rare move in its nearly 200-year history, the distinguished British medical journal The Lancet published an editorial saying that the U.S. had fallen from what it once was, the gold standard in disease detection and control, and must not reelect a president who prized partisanship above science. A poll in France earlier this month found that Angela Merkel, and not the American president, was overwhelmingly regarded as the leader of the free world. Only 2% of those polled said Trump was heading in the right direction. A Bosnian TV journalist proclaimed that the White House was dysfunctional and America was beginning to resemble the Balkans. The Balkans.

Many people have cited the line from the Irish Times that “the world has loved, hated, and envied the U.S. Now, for the first time, we pity it.” That’s not quite right. The emotion is not pity, but schadenfreude: people around the world are taking a secret pleasure in the U.S.’s ineptitude. They feel the U.S is getting payback for its self-righteousness, boasting, and incessant lecturing. It’s karmic retribution, not pity.

But there’s a greater and more existential threat to American influence than the scorn people around the world have for Trumpism: it is the increasing non-essentialness of America among nations and the discrediting of the American model of governance and capitalism.

Bloomberg reports on a study that shows that Covid Patients Testing Positive After Recovery Aren’t Infectious.

Researchers are finding evidence that patients who test positive for the coronavirus after recovering aren’t capable of transmitting the infection, and could have the antibodies that prevent them from falling sick again.

Gregg Chadwick, Nurses and therapy dog

Scientists from the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied 285 Covid-19 survivors who had tested positive for the coronavirus after their illness had apparently resolved, as indicated by a previous negative test result. The so-called re-positive patients weren’t found to have spread any lingering infection, and virus samples collected from them couldn’t be grown in culture, indicating the patients were shedding non-infectious or dead virus particles.

The findings, reported late Monday, are a positive sign for regions looking to open up as more patients recover from the pandemic that has sickened at least 4.8 million people. The emerging evidence from South Korea suggests those who have recovered from Covid-19 present no risk of spreading the coronavirus when physical distancing measures are relaxed.

The results mean health authorities in South Korea will no longer consider people infectious after recovering from the illness. Research last month showed that so-called PCR tests for the coronavirus’s nucleic acid can’t distinguish between dead and viable virus particles, potentially giving the wrong impression that someone who tests positive for the virus remains infectious.

The research may also aid in the debate over antibody tests, which look for markers in the blood that indicate exposure to the novel coronavirus. Experts believe antibodies probably convey some level of protection against the virus, but they don’t have any solid proof yet. Nor do they know how long any immunity may last.

Read more at the link.

I’ll end with a non-Trump story from The Guardian: Exclusive: Police tried to tase Ahmaud Arbery in 2017 incident, video shows.

Police attempted to use a Taser on Ahmaud Arbery, the slain Georgia jogger, after questioning why he was sitting alone in his car in a park one morning in November 2017, according to records and a police video obtained by the Guardian.

Edwin Harleston, The Nurse

The video, obtained through a public records request, comes to light as law enforcement in the area faces scrutiny after Arbery was shot dead by two white men while jogging in February. Police did not arrest Gregory and Travis McMichael, who chased down and killed the unarmed Arbery, and a prosecutor assigned to the case wrote a lengthy memo explaining why the killing was legally justified….

In the video an officer patrolling the area suspected Arbery of using marijuana, saying he was in a park known for drug activity.

Arbery, dressed in a green hat, winter coat and athletic pants, said he didn’t have drugs and refused to let the officer search his car. He told the officer he was relaxing by rapping in his car over instrumental beats and had the day off from work at Blue Beacon Truck Wash.

The incident, previously described by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, escalated when Arbery began to question why the officer, Michael Kanago, was hassling him. Kanago claimed he began to feel threatened by Arbery, later writing in his report that “veins were popping from [Arbery’s] chest, which made me feel that he was becoming enraged and may turn physically violent towards me”. Kanago requested help from a second officer.

“You’re bothering me for nothing,” Arbery said to Kanago, according to body camera footage. After Kanago told him he was looking for criminal activity, Arbery said “criminal activity? I’m in a fucking park. I work.”

How dare a young black man sass a George police officer. Well, they finally got him killed, didn’t they? Racist monsters.

That’s all I have for you today. What’s on your mind? What stories are you following?

25 Comments on “Can’t Take Any More Tuesday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    I hope your Tuesday will be a good one, despite the ongoing insanity of our public culture.

    • jslat says:

      I reached my limit about 12 days ago and haven’t watched a news show or read any political news since. My only updates on the orange a**hole’s behavior has been here on Sky Dancing. Sometimes you just get so tired, you must shut as much of the noise out as possible.

      • Sweet Sue says:

        A good prescription for mental health. I cannot stand to look at or listen to him. He makes my skin crawl and I feel my blood pressure rise. Do we still have time to right the Ship of State? Oh God, I hope so.

      • NW Luna says:

        It is so draining, isn’t it? I have a can’t-stand-anymore attitude and then a day or three later I have the compulsion to check headlines again, in horrid fascination at the tear-down of our country.

    • dakinikat says:

      I really can’t take much more of him. It’s constant abuse and crazy. It wears on me continually. I can’t watch anything with him. He’s not capable of normal,sane adult behavior and it’s appalling.

  2. Enheduanna says:

    Thanks for the informative post BB. I hope the major outlets will report on the new Arbery video. I have no doubt Dump’s behavior in office is emboldening this type of behavior in law enforcement.

    Dump is not lying about taking the hydroxychloroquine. He’s that stupid and he started right when they uncovered the cases in the WH and he probably freaked. I think he made his doctors agree to it, reluctantly probably. But I can see him bullying the doctor into getting it for him.

    I don’t know why people say he’s smart – he’s all in on the ridiculous conspiracy theories and Infowars baloney. If we manage to get rid of him in November he’ll be on OAN 24/7 spouting his nonsense. Sad, really. For our country – not him.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    I personally do not believe he is taking hydroxychloroquine. Not for a minute.

    Keep in mind he cannot be in the same room with people who cough or sneeze. He is not about to risk his life for a pill that has not been approved for virus treatment by the FDA. He loves himself too much to put himself at risk.

    He is a liar. A congenital liar who will say and do anything to help himself. He is crazy enough to say something this outrageous just for the effect of watching the press take time out to argue about his intention.

    The problem is that there are people out there hanging onto his every lying word. For some strange reason they believe what he says. Those are the people who he may be placing in harm’s way just because he chooses to rattle off yet another lie to make himself look good.

    The man is nuts. A liar of significant proportions. Not to be trusted or taken at his word.

    I do not believe him for one minute. He is a germaphobe, he changes the linen on his own bed for some insane reason. He is not about to begin ingesting pills that have proven side effects that could harm his heart.

    I’d bet my last dollar on it. Lies, lies and more lies.

    • quixote says:

      I’m sure of it too. At most, the doctor is feeding him purple peeps and saying it’s hydroxychloroquine. Likelier: the Dump is just trying to get people to buy all the stock of the drug Jared and Co. stocked up on when they thought they could sell it at 1000% markup.

      • NW Luna says:

        I would not be surprised if he was taking it. And we know there are spineless physicians who will go along with whatever the Orange Caligula wants. I’m afraid I find myself hoping he may have an adverse effect from it which would result in a benefit to the rest of us.

  4. quixote says:

    Very useful and informative post, bb! I’m with jslat. I get my news filtered through the intelligence of the people who post here.

  5. quixote says:

    Can’t be bothered to figure out who wrote this, quoted up above, but it’s one of those I-flunked-my science-requirement comments from a journalist that are so pathetic.

    “Research last month showed that so-called PCR tests for the coronavirus’s nucleic acid can’t distinguish between dead and viable virus particles, potentially giving the wrong impression that someone who tests positive for the virus remains infectious.”

    “Research” showed no such thing. If you have any clue what PCR is, you know it allows you to study segments of DNA or RNA. Nobody ever said fragments of molecules were alive. You don’t need “research” for that. So nobody, except doofi like that reporter, were ever confused that fragments showed infectiousness.

    There’s been a lot of this. ZOMG fragments found after 17 days on a cruise ship. ZOMG fragments found in blood samples. Etc., etc., etc.

    Except it’s not reported like that because the flunking reporters didn’t bother to educate themselves before yammering clickbait all over the world. It’s reported as “virus found.” And, understandably, people freak out.

    That ignorance has real world consequences.

    • NW Luna says:

      Glad you commented! I read the ” …can’t distinguish…” and said WTF is this nonsense?

      Did the journalist actually talk with a virologist? If so, obviously didn’t understand a thing.

  6. dakinikat says:

    • dakinikat says:

      • dakinikat says:

        For America’s violent fringe right, the pandemic provides a perfect growth matrix in which they can spread nutty conspiracy theories, recruit and plot the violent overthrow of the government… The extreme right is making good use of the pandemic. A fractious movement by nature, its followers have responded to covid-19 in many ways besides displays of brash shirts and guns. They have carried out Zoom-bombings (ie, interrupting video-conference meetings), encouraged others to infect police officers and Jews and sought to disrupt government activities, including New York City’s 311 line for non-emergency information and National Guard operations. Some have even come perilously close to committing deadly acts of terrorism. In March a man with ties to neo-Nazi groups was killed in a shootout with FBI officers who were attempting to arrest him for planning to bomb a hospital in Missouri. Though he had been planning the attack for some time and had considered a variety of targets, the outbreak of covid-19 persuaded him to strike a hospital to gain extra publicity. The spreading of conspiracy theories is central to the extreme right’s activities. Some claim the virus is a hoax. Others blame the Chinese, the Jews or even Bill Gates. Some claim that the federal government is using the virus as a pretext to confiscate weapons and enforce “medical martial law”. Extremists also spread more familiar conspiracy theories, decrying 5G networks and vaccinations, which help introduce the uninitiated to their ideology.

        • quixote says:

          the Bill Gates stuff in particular really makes me laugh. If someone wanted to feed me a conspiracy theory about how he established and kept Windows dominance, I’d believe them before they got to the end of the sentence.

          But away from Windows? Melinda, I suspect was the prime mover, but both she and Bill have done an awful lot of good, effective, and helpful things around the world. (Their toilet initiative is one of the best. Just one example.) In terms of targeting, they’re near par with the Clinton Foundation, which is saying something.

          Not that evidence is a big part of conspiracy theories, but still. You’d think they could choose a more believable target. Jamie Dimon, perhaps?

  7. dakinikat says: