Lazy Caturday Reads


Good Morning!!

The Trump regime is imploding. Trump is at Walter Reed receiving experimental treatments for Covid-19, and the following Trump world denizens have also tested positive for the coronavirus: Melania Trump, Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager Bill Stepien, RNC chair Ronna McDaniel, Sen. Mike Lee, Sen. Thom Tillis, and new this morning, Sen. Ron Johnson. In addition, Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins has also tested positive for the virus.

Chris Christie, who helped Trump prepare for the debate, is waiting for a test result after spending four days with Trump and  others, none of whom wore masks.

It appears that the ceremony for Trump’s announcement of his SCOTUS pick Amy Coney Barrett may have been the superspreader event that that led to these infections. More could well be coming.

monmon-cats-Kazuaki-Horitomo-7White House reporters are also contracting the virus.

In addition, infections are being connected to the presidential debate in Cleveland. NBC News: 11 positive coronavirus tests traced to presidential debate, Cleveland officials say.

At least 11 positive coronavirus tests can be traced to members of the media or organizers of this week’s presidential debate in Cleveland, city and clinic officials said Friday.

The city’s announcement came after President Donald Trump, who debated Democratic rival Joe Biden on Tuesday in Cleveland, revealed he and his wife have both tested positive for Covid-19 and are in isolation. Trump was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday.

“The City of Cleveland is aware of positive cases of Covid-19 following the Sept. 29 presidential debate,” according to a City Hall statement. “We advise anyone who has come in contact with someone who has tested positive to self-quarantine. If anyone who was in attendance has concerns or is symptomatic, they should contact their healthcare provider.”

The city’s announcement also came shortly after the Cleveland Clinic, which oversaw Covid-19 protocols at the debate, said it’s confident that guests at Tuesday night’s event were safe from the coronavirus.

kazuaki-horitomo-kitamura-022_orig Lone QuixoteEven after Trump was hospitalized, White House staffers were behaving carelessly. Peter Nicholas at The Atlantic yesterday: What I saw at the White House.

On the White House grounds this morning, senior West Wing aides walked around without masks. They spoke with the press without masks. They huddled privately with one another and didn’t wear masks.

When I visited the White House in August, no one checked to see if I was running a fever or suppressing a hacking cough as I passed through the security booth. The ritual was the same today: I showed up hours after we’d learned that President Donald Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus, yet no one asked about my health. Instead, I was simply searched for weapons and allowed in.

I’ve written twice in recent months about the dangerous conditions around the president—about lax testing of journalists flying with him on Air Force One, about troubling working arrangements inside the executive mansion itself. Trump’s illness seems an outgrowth of the administration’s flagrant disregard for public-health precautions. And yet, there’s no sign of a real course correction: The practices today seemed every bit as lax. When Trump walked deliberately toward Marine One tonight, in a dark suit and matching mask, he waved to reporters who all day had been trying to find out information about his condition.

But he left a White House that, even though he’s been stricken with a potentially fatal disease, seemed no safer than at any other point in the pandemic. Officials don’t appear to have learned much from the nightmare.

Ef_gf0bUEAA5khEThe Washington Post reports that the administration didn’t perform testing correctly: The White House relied on a rapid test, but used it in a way it was not intended.

For months, the White House’s strategy for keeping President Trump and his inner circle safe has been to screen all White House visitors with a rapid test.

But one product they use, Abbott’s ID Now, was never intended for that purpose and is known to deliver incorrect results. In issuing an emergency use authorization, the Food and Drug Administration said the test was only to be used by a health care provider “within the first seven days of symptoms.”

The ID Now has several qualities in its favor: It’s portable, doesn’t need skilled technicians to operate and delivers results in 15 minutes. Used to evaluate someone with symptoms, the test can quickly and easily diagnose Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

But in people who are infected but not yet showing symptoms, the test is much less accurate, missing as many as one in three cases.

A big problem for journalists and the rest of us is that we can’t trust anything that comes out of this White House. Margaret Sullivan at The Washington Post: 

With President Trump apparently struck by covid-19 a month before a critical election and after 200,000 American deaths from the disease, what we really need right now is an entirely credible, fact-based voice from the White House.

Kazuaki-Horitomo-Kitamura-Monmon-Cats-41-4Good luck with that.

The Greek philosopher Diogenes was said to have wandered the streets of Athens with a lantern searching in vain for someone to speak the truth. I don’t think he’d have any better luck at the top level of the executive branch right now, despite our extraordinary need for trustworthy communication.

With the exception of Anthony S. Fauci, and maybe a few other top medical experts, there isn’t a trusted truth-teller in sight.

“Donald Trump’s way of dealing with negative news is consistent: Hide it, spin it, and always lie about it,” said Tim O’Brien, a Trump biographer and now a Bloomberg Opinion columnist who was once sued, unsuccessfully, by the then-developer.

More reads:

The Daily Beast: ‘It’s Just F*ck-Up After F*ck-up’—Trump’s COVID Advisers at Their Breaking Point.

…in Trumpworld, there was anger and internal frustrations over how the virus in general and the president’s infection in particular had been handled. Among White House staff and the re-election effort, some advisers were furious that Trump wasn’t talked out of attending a high-roller fundraiser at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club on Thursday night, after the White House already learned of his exposure to the virus, two administration officials said. The senior official was also exasperated that the way the White House bungled the information rollout in the past couple days left the administration wide-open to allegations of yet another disastrous cover-up….

In the hours leading up to the president’s announcement of a new coronavirus testing initiative last week in the Rose Garden, officials at the Centers for Disease Control were left in the dark about the initiative’s actual details. Earlier in the day, Vice President Mike Pence and Adm. Brett Giroir, the administration’s coronavirus testing czar, had hosted a call with the nation’s governors, during which they said that the federal government planned to send states batches of Abbot BinaxNOW point-of-care tests, free of charge, with the hope that they use them for the reopening of schools.

a82c8063f82ce487d6222e1ce15a9c4eBut neither Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, nor CDC Director Robert Redfield were on the call. And when Trump ultimately unveiled the initiative at the Rose Garden, neither Redfield, Fauci nor Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, appeared alongside him. (Birx has been traveling across the country to work with colleges to slow community spread). Instead, the president turned to Pence, Giroir and Scott Atlas, an adviser to Trump on COVID-19 issues, to promote the new testing plan.

For those who continue to warn that the virus will infect and kill more Americans without serious attention paid toward stopping community spread, the frustrations have hit a boiling point.

Read the rest at the link.

Olivia Nuzzi at New York Magazine: Trump Infects America. (This was written before Trump was hospitalized.)

“At the best of times, Trumpworld operates with all the strategic direction of a chicken with its head cut off,” a senior Republican official told me. “Right now, they’re operating like a chicken with its head cut off, lit on fire, and thrown off a cliff.” [….]

The most powerful man in the world is, under ordinary circumstances, also the most protected. He is guarded with snipers and bomb-sniffing dogs. Anyplace he goes, any room he’ll set foot in, is swept by security. Any person he’s expected to meet is scanned for weapons. His food is tested for contamination. He is so well cared for by doctors that they might as well be monitoring his heart’s every beat. That he is now infected by COVID-19 is a testament not to the strength of the virus, not to the failures of his White House staff, but to his carelessness. How can you protect someone who refuses to be protected?

monmon-cats-Kazuaki-Horitomo-10He risked not only his own health but the health of others around him. This was true before his diagnosis. In June, he insisted on holding an indoor rally in Tulsa, which led to swelling numbers of infections in the city. At least one guest at that event, Herman Cain, would later die from the virus after spending time on a ventilator in Georgia. Trump escaped without harm, but he couldn’t help but push his luck. After his closest adviser, Hope Hicks, showed signs that she had COVID-19, forcing her to isolate on the flight back from a MAGA rally, the president and other members of his staff made the decision to travel to Bedminster, New Jersey, anyway, where he hosted a fundraiser and met with his supporters. When Hicks tested positive, she worried about others around her who might be infected, too, but the White House sought to keep that information from the public. Without Jennifer Jacobs, a dogged Bloomberg reporter who broke the story about Hicks’s illness, the world might still be in the dark about the sickness sweeping through the West Wing and the highest levels of our government. And then there are the indirect effects of the president’s actions, the ripples through society that threaten to touch each one of us. A Trump campaign volunteer who refuses to wear a face mask on principle and who believes the media has overblown the threat of the virus told me the president’s diagnosis didn’t make her nervous at all. “I don’t deny the virus is out there,” she said. “I’m just crossing my fingers and going for the herd immunity.”

We do not yet know the extent of the damage in Washington. Much of this is not a function of the strange way the virus spreads from person to person, but of the unethical way the president governs without transparency. For instance, it’s not possible to compile a complete list of people the president has come into contact with over the last two weeks because the Trump administration refuses to release visitor logs for the White House. Multiple attendees at the Rose Garden event for Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett (who herself recovered from the virus this summer), have already announced that they’ve since gotten sick. Multiple reporters in the White House press pool have tested positive for the virus today, according to the White House Correspondents’ Association. We do not yet know how many White House officials will contract it, whether the virus will rip through Capitol Hill, or how far this threatens the presidential line of succession.

Read the whole thing at New York Magazine.

kazuaki-horitomo-kitamura4One more from Susan Glasser at The New Yorker: “There Is Zero Reason to Panic”: On Trump’s Coronavirus Case and the Shredded Credibility of His White House.

The truth is, this is probably the least surprising national shock ever. For months, Trump has made coronavirus denialism his signature, at great cost to millions of Americans, more than two hundred thousand of whom are now dead. He courted personal as well as political disaster by refusing to wear a mask publicly and by encouraging others not to do so, either. His positive coronavirus test always had the feel of an inevitable plot twist. But the President of the United States getting diagnosed with a potentially lethal illness for which there is no cure a month before a national election is no less monumental for being fully anticipated. Will Trump recover? Will we believe him, or his discredited White House, if he claims that he has?

By Friday, nothing was clear except that Washington was trapped in a new waiting game, wondering about the health of an obese seventy-four-year-old with a penchant for not telling the truth about his health. Wondering how it would affect the election thirty-two days from now; wondering how 2020 could once again deal us such a hand. History is so much less exhausting when it happens to other people.

“There is zero reason to panic,” a breathless Fox News morning anchor said on Friday, reading from what she said was an “exclusive interview” with the Trump White House adviser Dr. Scott Atlas, who has lately gained the President’s favor by publicly and privately encouraging Trump’s coronavirus-is-disappearing fantasies. Trump’s diagnosis had been revealed less than twelve hours earlier. What could these White House officials do but try to pretend that everything will be just fine—and hope that they are right? “He’s hard at work,” the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, told reporters Friday afternoon. He’s in “good spirits” and “very energetic,” the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said, smiling in the early-fall sunlight as he spoke, maskless, to reporters on the White House driveway and acknowledged that, well, yes, actually, Trump was experiencing “mild symptoms.” But, he insisted, “The American people can rest assured that we have a President that is not only on the job, will remain on the job, and I’m optimistic that he’ll have a very quick and speedy recovery.”

Yeah, right. Who can we believe? No one in Trump World except maybe Dr. Fauci. I remember Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam “credibility gap.” Trump’s is so much worse than that, and he’s killed far more Americans than died in Vietnam. I hate to think what more we are going to learn over the weekend.

NOTE: The images in this post are paintings by Kazuaki Horoitomo

Please stay safe and take care of yourselves. I hope you’ll check in and let us know how you’re doing. These are unbelievably stressful times.


40 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Via MIT Review:

    Trump just got a dose of Regeneron’s unapproved antibody drug for covid
    At 74 and overweight, the president is at higher risk for serious illness.

    Because he is overweight and 74 years old, the president is at higher than average risk for developing a serious case of the disease. And the chance of death for someone like him is not small—it’s at least 5%, about 100 times as great for him as for someone under 30.

    Trump’s doctors immediately had to make some tough decisions in deciding what drugs to give him. For one thing, they had to assess medical evidence that’s been consistently clouded by the White House itself and treat a patient who has shown interest in hokum treatments like bleach, second-guessed medical authorities, and even given a bullhorn to a doctor who believes in witchcraft.

    The president has “mild symptoms,” according to his chief of staff, Mark Meadows. It usually takes several days before more serious covid-19 symptoms manifest, if they do. As long Trump isn’t in the hospital, he would be classified as a lower-risk “outpatient.”

    For nearly any other American, that would mean being told to wait and see how the symptoms develop, because there aren’t any covid-19 drugs approved for outpatients. Two treatments, blood plasma and the antiviral drug remdesivir, did receive emergency approval, but only for people who are hospitalized.

    But Trump isn’t just anyone. So expect his doctors to consider—and maybe get hold of—experimental drugs that have shown promise, even if they have received no approval yet. The same could go for Melania Trump and other members of the inner circle who tested positive.

    Drug company analysts at Raymond James early Friday put out a note to clients rating what experimental treatments they thought Trump was “most likely” to get. At the front of their list: the antibody drug manufactured by Regeneron, which is still being studied.

    The stock analysts were exactly right. By Friday afternoon, the White House issued a statement saying that the president had already received the treatment.

    The antibodies Regeneron makes are similar to those developed by people who catch the virus and survive it. Given in a concentrated dose administered through an intravenous drip, the manufactured antibodies are designed to grab hold of the viral particles and neutralize them.

    The expectation for such treatments is that if given early to patients like Trump, they might stop the disease from ever progressing to its most serious stage of pneumonia and death.

    Just this week, Regeneron said a study of nearly 300 outpatients showed that the antibody treatment cut down on the amount of virus in patients’ bodies. There were also hints that those who got the drug were less likely to end up in a doctor’s office, making it one of the most exciting new candidate treatments. (A similar antibody is being made and tested by Eli Lilly.)

    When contacted by MIT Technology Review early on Friday, Regeneron was not willing to say whether the White House had already asked for doses of its antibody, REGN-COV2. “As a matter of policy, we don’t identify individuals without their consent who have or have not submitted a request,” spokesperson Alexandra Bowie said in an email.

    • NW Luna says:

      “less likely to end up in a doctor’s office” Hard to tell what exactly this means. Doesn’t sound especially beneficial. Read something in a medical newsletter that the difference between active and placebo groups wasn’t that significant. Will try to find that again.

      At least it’s not bleach or UV light.

    • NW Luna says:

      Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc on Tuesday said its experimental two-antibody cocktail reduced viral levels and improved symptoms in non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients … “It is unclear, though possible, that the Regeneron cocktail could work in a hospital setting where the patient is already severely ill and has a high viral load,”

      In seronegative patients (those whose immune response was not yet adequate) the median time to symptom relief was …13 days for the placebo group, 8 days for the high-dose group and 6 days for the low-dose group.

      The U.S. government in June awarded Regeneron a $450 million supply contract for up to 300,000 doses of the antibody cocktail.

      Still looking for the critique on statistical vs clinical significance.

      • quixote says:

        “8 days for the high-dose group and 6 days for the low-dose group”

        Wait. What? In the groups getting the medicine, the ones who got more of it took *longer* to recover on average?

        That’s not typically a good sign of effectiveness. There’s supposed to be a dose-dependent relationship. /*thinking face here*/

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Chris Christie has now tested positive for the coronavirus.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Here’s an expert explanation of what would happen if either Trump or Biden couldn’t keep on with the campaign.

    The Atlantic: What Happens If a Presidential Candidate Becomes Incapacitated or Dies. Rules exist for what could come next, but they won’t prevent total chaos.

  4. NW Luna says:

    “I’m just crossing my fingers and going for the herd immunity.”

    Can’t fix stupid. The incompetence and denial still stuns me.

    • quixote says:

      “herd immunity” is just PR-speak for “I hope if anyone gets it, it’s you, not me.”

      None of these people have a clue.

  5. NW Luna says:

    I the Kazuaki Horoitomo illustrations, BB!

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. dakinikat says:

    Patriots QB Cam Newton (those things together still sound weird) now has covid. Gotta figure that will mean more changes to the NFL season.

  8. Pat Johnson says:

    The simple fact that Trump knew he had the virus but went ahead with those rallies is a perfect illustration of Trump himself.

    Selfish and uncaring to the core. How many people he put at risk marks him as a potentia lkiller who thinks of no one but himself.

    He needs to go!

  9. bostonboomer says:

    CNN is talking about the doctor’s statement that Trump was diagnosed 72 hours ago, which would have been on Wednesday morning, well before his rally in MN.

    In addition, a WH source told a pool reporter that Trump’s “vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning.” and he “is not yet on a path to a full recovery.”

    • bostonboomer says:

      • bostonboomer says:

        The source could be Mark Meadows. He was at Walter Reed during the press conference, but not on camera.

    • Enheduanna says:

      That he tested positive on Wednesday is stunning and suspiciously sounds like half the truth. If he tested positive before the debate Tuesday, or so close to the debate he couldn’t get out of it without looking like a coward…..then retested Wednesday, sounds more plausible to me. They were not tested by the Cleveland venue handlers prior to the debate because they arrived so late. It would not be surprising if they handed the venue a fake test for him. That would explain the suspiciously quick onset of symptoms, wouldn’t it?

      He deliberately exposed his donors at Bedminster on Thursday, which should be criminal.

      Do they know yet whether former covid positive people actually clear the virus completely, and at what point they might get reinfected?

      • bostonboomer says:

        I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he knew on Tuesday. Maybe that was why he was so angry.

    • dakinikat says:

      That’s really awful that he was diagnosed that early and still went to MN and NJ. That’s just not acceptable behavior for any one.

    • Enheduanna says:

      CNN doctor just said he’s probably going to have lasting damage from this (if he survives) and may already have lung damage.

      • NW Luna says:

        That’s common with this illness. Plus neuro and cardiac complications which may be long-lasting. People don’t realize this isn’t a brief illness.

  10. bostonboomer says:

  11. NW Luna says:

    Thought “polyclonal” was really weird. Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) are used a lot in my practice, but polyclonal???

    • bostonboomer says:

      He’s lying.

      • bostonboomer says:

        • bostonboomer says:

      • Enheduanna says:

        He’s absolutely lying. None of it makes sense unless you accept he tested positive by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. And they’ve already said the antibody cocktail was Thursday (not Friday), right?

  12. NW Luna says:

  13. bostonboomer says:

  14. NW Luna says:

    OT, but if you like archeology this site has some cool stuff.

    Tutankhamun: Anatomy of an Excavation’ is the definitive archaeological record of Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon’s discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun.

    On November 5th 1922, Howard Carter wrote in his pocket diary: ‘Discovered tomb under tomb of Ramsses VI investigated same & found seals intact.’ The subsequent excavation of the tomb of Tutankhamun captured the public imagination. The complete records of the ten year excavation were deposited in the Griffith Institute Archive shortly after Carter’s death by his niece Miss Phyllis Walker.

    This material is published here with full and free access, providing a comprehensive online resource for all audiences, from scholars to school children. One of the pioneering websites in Egyptology and archaeology, it has been running for more than 15 years and owes its foundation to Dr Jaromir Malek, the former Keeper of the Archive. As technology evolves, new presentation methods are being developed to assist all users in navigating this incredibly valuable resource.

  15. NW Luna says:

    For Caturday:

  16. MsMass says:

    Ya know, I’m not sorry for those trumpers, they joked it was a hoax, they didn’t take the science seriously, they double dared the virus- “catch me if you can”. They deserved everything they’re getting. Melania said it best- I don’t care,du you? Answer is Hell No.

  17. palhart says:

    At this point, after Trump’s diagnosis, I’m only interested in whether Amy Coney Barrett, Mitch, and enough Republican Senators have testing positive to prevent a quorum and to slow that dreaded confirmation hearing vote down. (I’m usually a nice person wishing no one ill.)

  18. palhart says:

    I wonder how evangelicals can miss this message from God, the science creator. LOL