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March 31, 2020

Hal Brown blog March 29 - 2020




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This is a blog with my own opinion plus some of each day's stories that piqued my interest. I hope they interest you too.

Click on my photos to enlarge them. 

The photos are meant as moments of zen. They date back many years and many were taken when I lived in Massachusetts. 



Back to earlier in March

April 6, 2020

From: "Are Trump and his allies setting up Dr. Fauci as the pandemic scapegoat?"

"If it does work, it would be a shame we did not do it early," Trump said about hydroxychloroquine during the press conference Sunday.

At that point, it became clear to me what Trump hopes to get out of this endless hype about an unproven and dangerous drug: A QAnon-style conspiracy theory he can roll out, after the worst of the crisis has passed, about his heroic efforts to save everyone with a miracle drug, which were thwarted by shady "deep state" forces who denied the public this lifesaving drug as part of a plot to make him look bad.

Unfortunately for Fauci, he's the most obvious candidate to become the villain in this conspiracy theory, in much the same way former FBI director James Comey and special counsel Robert Mueller were framed as part of a sinister anti-Trump conspiracy during the investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. 

Tucker Carlson of Fox News has been leading the pack in the effort to cast Fauci as the villain in the right-wing conspiracy theories that will pour from the spigots as soon as the spread of the coronavirus and the associated death rate start to ebb. 
Dr. Fauci is prescribing "national suicide," Carlson claimed on his show last week, declaring that the economic collapse caused by social distancing protocols is "a far bigger disaster than the virus itself, by any measure" and declaring that our "response to coronavirus could turn this into a far poorer nation."
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It's unclear, however, how much traction this nonsense will have outside of that Trumpian bubble. There is definitely room for concern, since conspiracy theories about "secret" cures that regular doctors are holding back for mysterious reasons never seem to go out of style. But as Rutgers professor David Greenberg argued in Politico this weekend, "Politicians may be able in the short term to cover up their failed programs or weak leadership with clever messaging and images," but in the end, with the economy down the toilet, the public is more likely to blame Trump than whatever scapegoat he and his propaganda team at Fox News serve up. 

Still, this "deep state" theory seems close to inevitable, and the attacks on Fauci have already started. Trump's opponents need to anticipate the twists and turns ahead and have a strategy to counter them. In an election that's already being compromised by the pandemic itself, the prospect of widespread voter suppression and Trump's apparently immovable popularity with his base, every weird Trumpian dirty trick could turn the tide. 


Firing of Michael Atkinson Reveals His Real Priorities—and They’re Not Coronavirus

'I ALONE'

Trump’s firing of intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson sends every dark signal you think it does, and more.


Another inspector general to fire?

‘Confusion, fear, distrust’: Damning IG report lays out Trump administration’s ‘unprecedented’ COVID-19 failures


The result of all this was to create “confusion, fear and distrust” throughout the health care system.
Ann Maxwell, assistant inspector general for HHS, tells NBC News that the failures outlined in the report are “unprecedented.”
“I think one moment that stands out for me is when I was talking to a hospital administrator and he told me that he had staff in the hospital out trying to procure masks and gloves from auto part shops, from home supply stores, from beauty salons, from art supply stores,” Maxwell said. “I was just taken aback.”

 Can You Be Re-Infected After Recovering From Coronavirus? Here's What We Know About COVID-19 Immunity

Because SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, was only discovered a few months ago, scientists are still trying to answer many big questions related to the virus and the disease it causes. Among them is whether patients can be reinfected by the virus after they seem to recover from the symptoms
With other coronavirus strains, experts say the antibodies that patients produce during infection give them immunity to the specific virus for months or even years, but researchers are still figuring out if and how that works with COVID-19.

Can you get re-infected after recovering from COVID-19?

There remains a lot of uncertainty, but experts TIME spoke with say that it’s likely the reports of patients who seemed to have recovered but then tested positive again were not examples of re-infection, but were cases where lingering infection was not detected by tests for a period of time.

Experts say the body’s antibody response, triggered by the onset of a virus, means it is unlikely that patients who have recovered from COVID-19 can get re-infected so soon after contracting the virus. Antibodies are normally produced in a patient’s body around seven to 10 days after the initial onset of a virus, says Vineet Menachery, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

Instead, testing positive after recovery could just mean the tests resulted in a false negative and that the patient is still infected.

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I had to look up FOMO to see what this BuzzFeed story was about 

Turns Out You Can Get FOMO Even During A Pandemic



Quote: This is not necessarily a welcome development for some of the public health professionals on the president’s coronavirus task force. “It is very annoying to some of us that Dr. Oz is trying to poke his head in and get more involved in this,” said a senior administration official who works closely with the task force. “This shouldn’t be a celebrity showcase... Are we going to deputize Dr. Drew and Dr. Spaceman next?” (Dr. Leo Spaceman is a fictional lunatic doctor who was portrayed by actor Chris Parnell on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock.)
Watch video from of Dr. Spaceman from 30 Rock:



April 5, 2020



Breaking News: 

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo tests positive for coronavirus


For those of you interested in what I found to be a really well written piece (below) which objectively compares a flawed leader, Cuomo, a lackluster Democratic presidential candidate, with a manifestly evil president check this out. 

Until the pandemic I hadn't paid any attention to Gov. Cuomo so reading this article in Salon was eye-opening. Of course outside of New York where Cuomo is well known it works to our advantage as even Fox News carries his briefings so Trump supporters have a chance to compare him to their idol, god, and/or guru (depending on their spiritual orientation). 




My impression

I compare Andrew Cuomo's talking about dealing with cabin fever in comment to how Donald Trump attacked reporter Peter Alexander's question.

Cuomo

NEW YORK, NEW YORK — Millions of cooped-up New Yorkers doubtless will agree with what Gov. Andrew Cuomo singled out as another affliction amid the new coronavirus outbreak: cabin fever.

"It's only been one month, but it's been a long month," Cuomo said Sunday.

Cuomo — the man who issued a "stay-at-home" order that effectively shut down what remained of normal life in New York City — took time during an otherwise-sober Sunday news conference to acknowledge the difficulty of life stuck at home without end.

Cabin fever is an "accompanying affliction to coronavirus," he said. It manifests in feelings of isolation, mood swings, resentment toward others and irrational outbursts, he said.

And it also threatens the Constitution's aim of domestic tranquility, he said.

"Think of ways to deal with it," Cuomo told New Yorkers.

Cuomo said for himself he's going to take up running again, with the aim of outpacing his daughter. His dog, also in the throes of cabin fever, will take up the sport. 

Trump

Alexander: So, what do you say Americans who are scared, I guess? Nearly 200 dead and 14,000 who are sick and millions as you witness who are scared right now, what do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?

Trump: I say that you are a terrible reporter, that's what I say. I think it's a very nasty question. I think it's a very bad signal that you are putting out to the American people. They're looking for answers and they're looking for hope. And you're doing sensationalism and the same with NBC and Concast -- I don't call it Comcast I call it Concast. Let me just, who do you work, let me just say something.



That's really bad reporting. And you ought to get back to reporting instead of sensationalism. Let's see if it works. It might and it might not. I happen to feel good about it, but who knows? I've been right a lot.

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Another gem of a quote from Trump:

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Friday that he would choose not to wear a coronavirus mask because it would interfere with his ability to meet with foreign presidents, prime ministers and "dictators."
"Somehow sitting in the Oval Office, behind that beautiful Resolute Desk," Trump said, indicating he thought it would be uncomfortable wearing a mask as he met with "presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens – I don’t know, somehow I don’t see it for myself."




Add to list

If you watch MSNBC like I do this will help explain why he attacks CNN so often: Trump brutally fact-checked by CNN host for lying and blame-shifting about shortages of US pandemic supplies


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Trump has handled the coronavirus the way he handles everything: Like a toddler.


The pandemic is highlighting all of the president’s worst impulses. Scroll down for excerpt





















After declaring a national emergency, Trump fumed about the images of empty airports and grounded planes on television. He has publicly compared his poll numbers with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s. He has responded to anodyne questions from reporters by saying they are “nasty” and demanding that journalists “be nice.”
Scroll down





















In other words, not even a crisis as massive as the novel coronavirus has stopped the president from behaving like a cranky toddler.
Trump’s toddler traits have significantly hampered America’s response to the pandemic. They aren’t new, either. In the first three years of his term, I’ve collected 1,300 instances when a Trump staffer, subordinate or ally — in other words, someone with a rooting interest in the success of Trump’s presidency — nonetheless described him the way most of us might describe a petulant 2-year-old. Trump offers the greatest example of pervasive developmental delay in American political history.
The elevation of a toddler to the Oval Office intersected with a trend that predates Trump and has made the problem worse: the increasing agglomeration of power in the hands of the president. In the half-century since Watergate, presidents from both sides of the aisle have beaten back formal and informal constraints. They have resisted congressional oversight, cowed judges into submission and disciplined bureaucrats into obeying their every whim. Increasing political polarization has facilitated presidential power grabs by enervating congressional oversight, increasing the political loyalty of Cabinet officers, and eroding the norms and unwritten rules of the presidency.
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.... in conclusion
The final and most disturbing parallel between Trump and a toddler is that, like at a day-care center that doesn’t pay caregivers enough, the staff turnover in this administration has hampered the government’s response. The burn rate of senior officials has been much higher under Trump than under any of his post-Cold War predecessors. Scroll down
The GOP did not send its best to staff Trump’s administration in January 2017, and he is now scraping from the bottom of the barrel. As the coronavirus crisis metastasized, Trump fired his third, and hired his fourth, chief of staff. His fourth national security adviser shrunk his staff by more than a third before the outbreak — including shuffling the National Security Council’s planning for pandemics into a larger sub-office, diluting its power within the White House. Two-thirds of the senior positions at the Department of Homeland Security are vacant or filled with acting officials. Civilian vacancies at the Pentagon are at record highs.


Another HuffPost story with a different title on the from page: 

Comparing Trump’s Coronavirus Response To Herbert Hoover’s Great Depression Failure

My comment to this story:

Finally Trump’s inability to control his malignant narcissism appears to be catching up with him. As I wrote awhile back, he is a scorpion whose stinging is instinctive and now it is getting to some of his base, the frog in the fable that keeps him afloat. His bullying and vicious attacks against reporters and Democrats worked at his rallies but now he is addressing supporters who are personally scared. Perhaps they are fed up with his insult humor and self-aggrandizement. This behavior is contrasted with Dr.Fauci in particular, to a lesser extent with Dr. Brix, on the stage with him. He is hogging more and more airtime because I think the is threatened by the modest Dr. Fauci who the nation is looking for information unsullied by politics.
Not only that even Fox News is covering Gov. Cuomo’s briefing. Let’s hope this all continued to have an effect on his popularity.



Today’s propaganda is tomorrow’s truth, and vice versa.





Cape Cod Canal - click to enlarge


APRIL 4, 2020

Check out the tweets here: ‘He’s going to get so many people killed’: Viewers shocked after watching #TrumpPressBriefing



How Trump’s attempts to win the daily news cycle feed a chaotic coronavirus response

We can see this as an act of desperation, an ill-timed exercise of revenge which like much of what Trump does has a risk of backfiring against him come the election. Not immediately reinstating Capt. Brett Crozier ( even allowing it assuming he knew about it) is another example. HB




I have a friend whose sister is seriously considering flying from Boston to Florida. This story is for her.



April 3, 2020


Trump has already done a great deal to undermine the military’s good order and discipline by pardoning personnel who have been accused, and even convicted, of war crimes. Trump even feted disgraced Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who was denounced by his own platoon mates as “evil” and “toxic,” at Mar-a-Lago.


Modly is today acting secretary of the Navy because the Navy secretary at the time, Richard V. Spencer, was fired after dissenting from Trump’s desire to aid Gallagher and trying to negotiate directly with the White House. Spencer wrote in The Post that “the president has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices.” Yet Esper, Modly and other Pentagon leaders have acquiesced in the president’s actions.

The damage that was done to the military by Trump’s decision to pardon suspected war criminals will be compounded by Thursday’s decision to fire the skipper of the Theodore Roosevelt. The message that the administration is sending to the armed forces is that committing war crimes is acceptable but telling the truth and protecting the personnel under your command is not.

At least Crozier can take solace in the cheers and applause of his crew as he left the Theodore Roosevelt. They realize he was a great leader — “one of the greatest captains you ever had,” as one sailor said — even if the acting Navy secretary does not. Every cheer was an indictment of a Pentagon leadership that seems to have lost its moral bearings.

Trump's got love this hurricane forecast:
I added my own photo


Jared Kushner Ripped on Twitter For Saying ‘Our Stockpile’ Isn’t Meant For States To Use




Our old cranberry bogs

April 2, 2020
I wonder what Stormy Daniels thinks of this...








“Innocent People Are Going to Die”: The Price of Presidential Narcissism and the Path of Peaceful Resistance





Yale psychiatrist: Trump endangers lives by waging war on reality, not the coronavirus

Bandy Lee says Trump has a pattern: "It is no accident that everything he says is the exact opposite of reality"


Anthony Fauci To Receive More Personal Security After Threats


The fact-checking of the president and his dire predictions have already resulted in online trolls falsely claiming that Fauci is part of the “deep state” working to undermine the administration.
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From The NY Times: 
At a White House briefing on the coronavirus on March 20, President Trump called the State Department the “Deep State Department.” Behind him, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, dropped his head and rubbed his forehead.
Some thought Dr. Fauci was slighting the president, leading to a vitriolic online reaction. On Twitter and Facebook, a post that falsely claimed he was part of a secret cabal who opposed Mr. Trump was soon shared thousands of times, reaching roughly 1.5 million people.
A week later, Dr. Fauci — the administration’s most outspoken advocate of emergency measures to fight the coronavirus outbreak — has become the target of an online conspiracy theory that he is mobilizing to undermine the president.
That fanciful claim has spread across social media, fanned by a right-wing chorus of Mr. Trump’s supporters, even as Dr. Fauci has won a public following for his willingness to contradict the president and correct falsehoods and overly rosy pronouncements about containing the virus.

An analysis by The New York Times found over 70 accounts on Twitter that have promoted the hashtag #FauciFraud, with some tweeting as frequently as 795 times a day. The anti-Fauci sentiment is being reinforced by posts from Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, a conservative group; Bill Mitchell, host of the far-right online talk show “YourVoice America”; and other outspoken Trump supporters such as Shiva Ayyadurai, who has falsely claimed to be the inventor of email.
Many of the anti-Fauci posts, some of which pointed to a seven-year-old email that Dr. Fauci had sent praising Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of State, have been retweeted thousands of times. On YouTube, conspiracy-theory videos about Dr. Fauci have racked up hundreds of thousands of views in the past week. In private Facebook groups, posts disparaging him have also been shared hundreds of times and liked by thousands of people, according to the Times analysis.

Doctor Drops Some Coronavirus Truth Bombs On Fox News, Lights Up Twitter



Oh well, so much for real journalism: White House invites Trump-loving reporter back to the briefing room after she’s booted for flouting COVID-19 rules (related to following story)



Rion and her employer, a tiny conservative cable outlet known as OANN, appear to have gotten special permission from the White House, in violation of the guidelines. The reasons, and the source of the approval, are unclear, but OANN and Rion have a history of reporting favorably about Trump. Rion herself has pushed conspiracy theories that advance his political interests, such as the unfounded allegation that officials in Ukraine secretly manipulated the 2016 election to help Hillary Clinton. Trump, in turn, has tweeted praise of OANN’s reporting dozens of times.
The White House, in effect, on Tuesday bent the rules — which were designed to ensure the health of journalists, the president and the nation’s top public-health officials — in granting access and a national spotlight to a correspondent from an obscure but Trump-friendly news outlet.
OANN was founded 2013 by Robert Herring Sr., a millionaire Republican donor from San Diego who made his fortune in the circuit-board business before starting over in media. His son, Charles Herring, president of One America’s parent company Herring Broadcasting, told The Post last week that the channel “is designed to report just the news” and that “we would not describe our news reporting as right-leaning.”
But for a 2017 story, more than a dozen former and current employees described Robert Herring to The Post as a heavy-handed unofficial news director who frequently ordered coverage favorable to Trump. It was the first channel to carry Trump’s 2016 campaign speeches live, and internal emails showed Herring directing that other candidates’ rallies not get the same treatment.
Rion, who did not respond to repeated requests for comment, has socialized with the Trumps at Mar-a-Lago, according to photos she has posted on Facebook, and brags on her personal website about having “been aboard the Trump Train from its first week” at the start of the 2016 campaign.
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On Sunday, Trump called on Pellegrino twice to ask a question — one of which seemed to please him immensely.
“Mr. President, your approval ratings have been the highest they’ve ever been, as well as the ratings on your handling of the virus,” she asked. “Yet there are some networks that are saying they’re debating whether to carry these briefings live. Do you think there’s a link between the two?”
“Well, I don’t know,” Trump replied. “I know that — boy, that’s a nice question. Thank you very much.”


April 1, 2020




Click above to read
Click to enlarge

File under the stories below under Trump Narcissism: Wednesday Edition Scroll down for coronavirus articles.

Politico Magazine








Above: Trump denied this ABC News report about him calling Alex Rodriguez, but USA Today confirmed it. (Scroll down)
President Donald Trump has the world's top doctors and medical experts at his disposal, but this week, he turned to former MLB star Alex Rodriguez for advice on a response to the coronavirus pandemic, a person with knowledge of the phone call told USA TODAY Sports on Saturday.
The individual requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the issue. ABC News was first to report on the call.
The conversation was "pleasant," according to ABC, which stated Rodriguez has no official plans to take a role in the government's effort to slow the spread of the disease. The number of cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 100,000 as of Saturday morning.
On Saturday morning, Trump denied ABC's report, tweeting, “More Fake News!”
Less than seven years ago, before Trump's political career began and while Rodriguez was still an active player with the New York Yankees, Trump took to Twitter and repeatedly called Rodriguez a "druggie." 

Rodriguez served a one-year suspension in 2014 for his involvement in the biogenesis scandal. He is currently a studio analyst for Fox Sports MLB and is the color commentator on ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball.



Donald Trump Mispronounces ‘Emergency’ During Coronavirus Press Conference; Twitter Reacts





Providence in Portland, Or. develops potential COVID-19 vaccine; wants feds to start human clinical trials

Researchers at the Chiles Research Institute at Providence’s Robert Franz Cancer Center have asked the federal government for permission to start trials with humans.

'Pandemic' scientist says his team has discovered potential cure for COVID-19

My DIY mask (click image to enlarge)

Edinburgh

Mar. 31, 2020


Not my image, click to enlarge

Trump’s Coronavirus Claim Is His Biggest Lie Yet – And It Could Be Working


He bankrupted casinos but sold voters on his business acumen anyway. Now he needs America to forget he downplayed coronavirus for two months.




Add to list

You won't hear Trump talking about this South China Morning Post story!

Trump’s narcissism has never been more dangerous, by Jennifer Rubin


She concludes:

Increasingly, the country seems to operate on two tracks. On one, groveling courtiers flatter Trump, try to soften his impulsive pronouncements and scramble to catch up after months of delay. As they cater to the president, exploring patently absurd ideas, they have less attention to devote to real issues that only the federal government can address. On the other track, governors have no time for bowing and scraping; they are dealing hands-on with hundreds of logistical challenges, made worse by the absence of coordinated purchasing and by lack of a comprehensive testing program. Thank goodness governors are actually doing their jobs, which increasingly entail navigating around Trump.



As coronavirus death toll rises, Trump focuses on a different set of numbers: TV ratings


The author is a Los Angeles attorney


How to make a non-medical face mask out of a cotton t-shirt

CDC considering recommending general public wear face coverings in public

Should we all be wearing masks? That simple question is under review by officials in the U.S. government and has sparked a grass-roots pro-mask movement. But there’s still no consensus on whether widespread use of facial coverings would make a significant difference, and some infectious disease experts worry that masks could lull people into a false sense of security and make them less disciplined about social distancing.

In recent days, more people have taken to covering their faces, although it remains a scattershot strategy driven by personal choice. The government does not recommend it.

That may change. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are considering altering the official guidance to encourage people to take measures to cover their faces amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a federal official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it is an ongoing matter of internal discussion and nothing has been finalized.



 I don't remember where I took this. It's from when I lived in Massachusetts.

Mar. 30, 2020





Why That ‘Woman In Michigan’ Keeps Drawing Donald Trump’s Wrath but Florida gov. get's Trump's love.


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I modified this photo because, well, because I could

 

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Smart move by AOC?

  



Eel Pond, Woods Hole, Cape Cod, Mass