240 years later America Can’t get The Vote Counted

Before Georgia’s embattled election officials can fix a voting system that suffered a spectacular collapse, leading to absentee ballots that never got delivered and hourslong waits at polling sites on Tuesday, they must first figure out who is responsible.”

“As multiple investigations begin into what went wrong, and as Democrats accuse the state’s Republicans of voter suppression, a picture emerged Wednesday of a systematic breakdown that both revealed general incompetence and highlighted some of the thorny and specific challenges that the coronavirus pandemic may pose to elections officials nationwide.”

Medicynical note: The Supreme Court’s abandonment of the voting rights act in 2014 after 49 years of fair elections, opened the door to political suppression of minority voters in the south. This carefully planned persecution combined with the staggering incompetence of the voting bureaucracy in southern states have affected election outcomes and undermined confidence in this key process in a democracy.

I previously observed such corruption and incompetence only in third world countries. Once the envy of the world our democracy and system of elections has become politicized and manipulated. The Supreme Court and those who are suppressing the vote bear responsibility.

The Trump/Putin Administration Strikes Again

Mr. Trump appears to believe he is punishing Ms. Merkel by removing forces that nominally defend Germany. The sycophant whom the president installed as ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, has been arguing publicly that Germany doesn’t merit U.S. bases when it fails to meet NATO defense spending guidelines. What he and the president fail to understand is that the 34,500 U.S. personnel in Germany — down from 235,000 during the Cold War — primarily bolster U.S. defense. The Ramstein Air Base is vital to operations in the Middle East and Africa, and the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center provides critical care to wounded American soldiers medevaced from Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Medicynical note: Amazing lack of consultation before a move that compromises NATO’s and our own defense needs. The Trump years will be remembered for its abject cluelessness…

Immaculate Intervention

“I’m not involved in giving tactical commands like that,” Barr told the Associated Press. “I was frustrated and I was also worried that as the crowd grew, it was going to be harder and harder to do. So my attitude was get it done, but I didn’t say, ‘Go do it.’ ”

“The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Barr personally ordered the crowd of protesters be pushed back as part of a plan hatched far earlier in the day. According to a Justice Department official, law enforcement authorities, including Barr, had decided to extend the security perimeter outside the White House after earlier demonstrations over the death of George Floyd at police hands in Minneapolis turned violent. When Barr came to the scene Monday afternoon, the official said, he was “surprised” to see that hadn’t been done.”

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Medicynical Note:  It would be novel if someone took responsibility in this administration.  It was an immaculate intervention–no one was responsible. 

Guns: America’s Disease

Part of this podcast is on the topic of guns.

The presence of guns, the ubiquity of guns, the threat of gun violence, the often rational fear of guns is the underpinning for so much of the police initiated violence. We see, for instance, police have almost total immunity when it comes to killing in the line of duty. Any fear or suspicion, they claim, almost always deemed a reasonable fear or suspicion because of guns in Louisville. Early this morning, a citizen was killed by police who said they thought they were fired upon. And who’s to say they weren’t? I mean, this isn’t the UK. This isn’t in Japan. It’s plausible that in Louisville, Kentucky, the police were fired upon after coming on a gathering, maybe a demonstration, and now a restaurant owner is dead.”

Medicynical note: As we descend into chaos let’s recognize the contribution of the Supreme Court originalists who think all guns are good guns, our paralyzed congress, and our executive branch that issues executive orders designed to undermine 90 years of unparalleled prosperity and progress.

Guns, from where I sit at 79 years of age, are a net negative in our culture. Name the positives? The pleasure of hunting–not for me but I can understand the culture. Competitive sport shooting……maybe, get your testosterone hit target shooting where you can. Defense of the home–over-rated. IMHO the risks from having guns in our homes seem as great or greater than the criminal risk. Balance those “good” aspects against the negatives. Fear of guns leading to irrational arming of the culture; unfettered access leading to all manner of mass shootings; the thousands of suicides each year from weapons: the thousands of murders in the course of criminal events; the valid fear of our police at every traffic stop and other criminal investigation leading to inadvertent and at time murderous shootings of innocents.

The US leads the industrialized world in every category of gun misadventure. Guns wide and unfettered presence in our culture distorts our lives, threatens our culture and soils our image both here and abroad.

Flynn……Guilty As Charged

“Mr. Flynn was not such a difficult target for a Russian manipulation effort, given his inclination to see common cause with Russia as well as his hostility toward the Obama administration. President Barack Obama had removed Mr. Flynn as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Mr. Flynn famously led a chorus of “lock her up” chants at the 2016 Republican National Convention in a reference to Hillary Clinton.”

“During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump had spoken frequently about wanting to improve American relations with Russia.”

“Mr. Kislyak “played Flynn like a fiddle, particularly when Flynn astonishingly suggested that the U.S. and Russia should ratchet down tensions” after the United States punished Russia for its election interference, said Marc Polymeropoulos, who once oversaw the C.I.A.’s clandestine operations in Europe and Eurasia.”

Medicynical note: This self promoting money grubber was an un registered lobbyist for Turkey during the time he was being considered for the cabinet position. Imagine the duplicity. In secret making promises to Russian operatives and representing Turkey all while buttering up Trump for a position. He admitted all to the court.

Trump Fails………Again

Economic and social chaos from a failed presidency. Putin loves it. He and Trump communicate regularly. Our guy (sic) is too dumb or simply too self absorbed to understand. That’s what sociopath/ psychopaths do. His bible picture photo-op is obscene.

“I still see occasional news reports that describe Trump as a “populist.” But Trump’s economic policies have been the opposite of populist: They have been relentlessly plutocratic, centered largely on a successful effort to ram through huge tax cuts for corporations and the rich, and a so far unsuccessful attempt to take health insurance away from poor and working-class families.”

“Nor have Trump’s trade wars brought back the good jobs of yore. Even before the coronavirus plunged us into depression, Trump had failed to deliver major employment growth in coal mining or manufacturing. And farmers, who supported Trump by large margins in 2016, have suffered huge losses thanks to his trade wars.”

Medicynical note: The worst most corrupt presidency in history, and yes it’s Putin’s crowning achievement.

Does anyone except maybe billionaires, non tax paying corporations, and the radical right think they are better off today than 4 years ago?

Why So Many Deaths in Nursing Homes? Trump…..Again

Happening now.

“The Trump administration has been working to relax regulations governing America’s nursing homes, including rules meant to curb deadly infections among elderly residents.

The main federal regulator overseeing nursing homes proposed the rule changes last summer, before the coronavirus pandemic highlighted the vulnerability of nursing homes to fast-spreading diseases.”

“The push followed a spate of lobbying and campaign contributions by people in the nursing-home industry, according to public records and interviews.”

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Medicynical Note:  As is their want, the Trump administration has worked diligently at reversing the progress of the Obama years.  In their time in office the Trumpists have ignored regulations controlling the management and quality of nursing homes.   Their neglect has endangered patients housed there.

Trump has been influenced by contributions to republican causes by the nursing home industry and in response he has pushed for a relaxation of regulations for infectious disease control, among others, at nursing homes.  This even during the thousands of deaths, yes thousands, of nursing home patients from the covid-19 virus infection. 

“Together these changes gut enforcement,” said Toby Edelman, a senior lawyer at the Center for Medicare Advocacy, a nonprofit legal assistance group for the elderly. “They are a gift to the industry.”

“The administration’s moves came after intense lobbying by the nursing home industry, including by the firm run by Brian Ballard, Mr. Trump’s friend and a fund-raiser. Parlaying his personal connections to Mr. Trump, Mr. Ballard has become one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington, with the most clients of any registered lobbyist last year, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics. His firm has lobbied on behalf of nursing homes in his home state, Florida, for years, according to public records. (He was also a lobbyist for Mr. Trump’s Florida golf course, the Doral.)”

Remdesivir…..better than nothing (hydroxychloroquin)

Remdesivir was superior to placebo in shortening the time to recovery in adults hospitalized with Covid-19 and evidence of lower respiratory tract infection.

From Ars Technica:

“Overall, treatment with remdesivir shortened a patient’s time to recovery compared to the placebo group, from an average of 15 days to 11 days. Improvements occurred whether or not the patient was receiving supplemental oxygen. What’s more, the data lays to rest any worries that remdesivir has to be given very early after the onset of symptoms. In fact, those participants who entered the trial more than 10 days after the onset of symptoms actually showed a better response to remdesivir than those who started being treated during the first 10 days of being symptomatic.”

“The trial’s main secondary outcome—how a participant was doing on day 15—also showed that remdesivir was significantly better than placebo. And the total number of deaths was lower in the remdesivir group (21 vs 28) at this point, although that difference was not statistically significant. (Medicynical emphasis)”

Medicynical note: A few days benefit of shorter recovery time and slight, not yet significant, improvement in number of deaths. The fact that it took a large study to tease out the benefit is indicative of the drug’s marginal usefulness. But at least it didn’t result in increased deaths…..like hydroxychloroquin.

As noted it is hoped that combination with other agents, anti-inflammatory or antiviral, will have better more dramatic positive outcomes.

Wrong Again– Hydroxychloroquin and Chloroquine

A study of 96,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients on six continents found that those who received an antimalarial drug promoted by President Trump as a “game changer” in the fight against the virus had a significantly higher risk of death compared with those who did not.
People treated with hydroxychloroquine, or the closely related drug chloroquine, were also more likely to develop a type of irregular heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, that can lead to sudden cardiac death, it concluded.” (The study in Lancet)

And

“It’s one thing not to have benefit, but this shows distinct harm,” said Eric Topol, a cardiologist and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. “If there was ever was hope for this drug, this is the death of it.”

“David Maron, director of preventive cardiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, said that “these findings provide absolutely no reason for optimism that these drugs might be useful in the prevention or treatment of covid-19.””

Medicynical note: He ignored the briefings, called it a hoax, screwed up his “travel” non-ban, thought and still thinks it will go away like a miracle, delayed, delayed and delayed. And now, plays doctor and recommends a drug with dangerous side effects and no discernible anti virus activity. That’s our President, more wrong than a stopped clock.

More here.

Wanted…….Alternatives to Tesla

The 48-year old CEO of Tesla has been bickering on social media with California and Alameda County officials about reopening Tesla’s Fremont, California electric car manufacturing plant, on which the electric carmaker is unusually dependent, since its only other auto manufacturing plant is the newly-opened Gigafactory outside Shanghai. Recently, Musk took to Twitter to threaten to take his company and go home, if by home, he means new digs in either Nevada, or locations where Tesla is reportedly scouting locations for a new Cybertruck plant, Austin, Texas and Tulsa, Oklahoma.”

Medicynical note: Musk is a brilliant innovator who is also a Trumpist. He, like Trump, is willing to sacrifice his employees/people’s lives for his own “greater good.” His money appears to come before……… before everything else.

Back in the 50’s and 60’s Volvo made it as a luxury/euro car alternative to the popular well engineered German brands…..I.e. Benz and BMW. in that period many avoided the German cars because of the association with Hitler’s Germany. Volvo emerged as a quality alternative.

Given Musk’s erratic money grubbing behavior I’m beginning to look for the alternative to Tesla…..though I personally will, likely, not be buying it–because of my age.