Friday, April 24, 2020

Trump's many lies mess with your mind. His favorite 'game changer' drug messes with your heart.

The AZ Blue Meanie at Blog for Arizona reports a couple of developments on the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine, Dr. Trump’s miracle cure ‘showed no benefit’ in recent medical studies; Update: a new whistleblower scandal.

In brief, that antimalarial drug messes with your heart.

… it turns out that “Dr. Trump’s miracle cure” really is snake oil that is toxic to patients, and likely killed some patients before the Covid–19 did.

Those new findings are probably responsible for those Faux Gnus going silent. Will Trump recant? Dumb question.

"Dr. Trump,” snake oil salesman, is casting doubt on the medical studies, rather than come clean and admit his fraud. “Obviously there have been some very good reports and perhaps this one’s not a good report—but we’ll be looking at it,” Trump said at his Tuesday briefing.

After reviewing the evidence, AZ Blue Meanie concludes:

Trump and his propagandists lied, people died. They are criminally negligent and should all be held accountable for consumer fraud for promoting a snake oil cure to give false hope to desperate patients who lost their lives because of taking this drug.

But that hasn’t stopped the Trumpies for insisting on blind loyalty to Herr Drumpf. AZ Blue Meanie cited the NY Times report on the sacking of an HHS scientist.

The New York Times reports today that Dr. Rick Bright, the doctor who led the federal agency involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine said on Wednesday that he was removed from his post after he pressed for a rigorous vetting of a coronavirus treatment embraced by President Trump. The doctor said that science, not “politics and cronyism” must lead the way. Doctor Says He Was Removed From Federal Post After Questioning Hydroxychloroquine Treatment:

Dr. Rick Bright was abruptly dismissed this week as the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, and as the deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response.

Instead, he was given a narrower job at the National Institutes of Health. “I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid–19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit,” he said in a statement to The Times’s Maggie Haberman.

“I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way,” he said.

“Sidelining me in the middle of this pandemic and placing politics and cronyism ahead of science puts lives at risk and stunts national efforts to safely and effectively address this urgent public health crisis,” Dr. Bright said.

“I will request that the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services investigate the manner in which this administration has politicized the work of BARDA and has pressured me and other conscientious scientists to fund companies with political connections and efforts that lack scientific merit,” he said. “Rushing blindly towards unproven drugs can be disastrous and result in countless more deaths. *Science, in service to the health and safety of the American people, must always trump politics.*”

Dr. Bright has lawyered up and appears ready to go to the mat in this latest whistleblower retaliation scandal.

As bad as this is, it does get worse. You see, the White House is on a full fledged campaign to destroy the civil service. Heather Cox Richardson (Letters from an American) pulls it all together.

The OPM [Office of Personnel Management] oversees the 2 million workers in the federal government. In mid-February, after Republican Senators acquitted him in his impeachment trial, Trump set out to purge the federal workforce of civil servants, whom he sees as “snakes,” and replace them with political appointees loyal to him.

To head the Presidential Personnel Office, which recruits candidates for the executive branch, Trump brought in John McEntee, who had been fired from a former position in the White House by former chief of staff John Kelly over a security clearance. On March 17, McEntee forced the director of the Office of Personnel Management, Dale Cabaniss, who had significant personnel experience, to resign. Michael Rigas, formerly of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, took his place. (Phew. I know… but this is going somewhere important.)

The change from Cabaniss to Rigas at the head of OPM transpired just as the novel coronavirus pandemic hit the nation hard.

Rigas has said he believes the 1883 Pendleton Act is unconstitutional. Congress passed the Pendleton Act, also known as the Civil Service Act, after a mentally-ill office seeker shot President James Garfield in 1881. Until then, government positions had been handed out to political loyalists, regardless of their capacity to do the job, but the assassination created a public outcry. Charles Guiteau shot Garfield with the expectation that, once elevated to the presidency, Garfield’s vice president would give Guiteau the position his delusions made him think he deserved. The assassination built momentum behind the idea that government should be non-partisan, and that positions should be filled by people actually equipped to do the job. This sentiment has ruled the nation ever since.

Non-partisan civil service has proved a blessing to the nation in two ways. First of all, over time, as more and more positions came under the act, the government got much more efficient. Second, a non-partisan corps of officials has kept the nation stable since they give their loyalty to the country’s government, rather than to any particular president. Administrations come and go, but government bureaucrats keep the nation on an even keel.

Now, Rigas, the man at the head of the federal government’s 2 million workers, wants to get rid of that system and make all employees of the executive branch political appointees, loyal not to the country but to Trump. Rigas is working with McEntee at the PPO. As of a few weeks ago, agencies now have to submit job openings to the PPO to see if they have anyone they want in the position before they can submit their own choice for it. PPO is filling positions with keen regard for their loyalty: recently it has hired four college seniors to become administration officials.

OPM is the office that is refusing to tell Congress what it’s up to.

Today offered some guesses. Dr. Rick Bright, the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, claimed that he was let go from his job for crossing Trump. (Snip. See above for related coverage.)

Demanding loyalty to Trump is about cementing the power of the president, and service to that power means he will sacrifice his loyalists whenever necessary to protect himself. People are noting that Trump tossed Georgia Governor Brian Kemp under the bus today over Kemp’s reopening of certain Georgia businesses against the advice of public health officials. After a week of calling for states to reopen, Trump told reporters that he “disagree[s] strongly” with Kemp’s decision to start that process.

Today’s more significant underbussing was that of Alex Azar, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, who was skewered in a piece in the Wall Street Journal for what appears to have been extraordinarily inept handling of the coronavirus crisis. My guess is that he is shortly going to be out of a job, taking the blame for the White House’s poor response to the pandemic.

Considering that Trump’s OPM wants to remove qualified civil servants from the government in favor of political cronies, the piece of the Azar story that has attracted the most outrage is ironic. Azar tapped a key aide with little experience or education in public health, management, or medicine to head up the response of Health and Human Services to the coronavirus crisis.

Before going to work for Azar, the aide, Brian Harrison, was a dog breeder who specialized in labradoodles.

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