War on Science: Trump shoves aside top vaccine doctor (for being too truthful about Covid-19)
The Bellowing Bully in the White House is becoming more unhinged by the day as he continues to take a sledgehammer to traditional notions of governance, leadership, and common decency. He acts like an enraged bull or better yet, a crime boss in the tradition of Al Capone or John Gotti. Any slight must be met with a brutal smackdown designed to keep underlings in line through threats and intimidation.
Old Joe Stalin had nothing on Trump when it comes to exacting retribution on those who do not buy in to his alternate view of reality. Like the Queen of Hearts in Alice Wonderland, “Off with their heads!” is the cry heard most frequently in the White House as Trump terrorizes his staff into knee-capping anyone who dares oppose him — whether it is the hapless forecaster who disputes his hurricane predictions, a department head who objects to pardoning a convicted murderer, or the captain of an aircraft carrier who attempts to protect his crew from the coronavirus.
Top Doc Pushed Aside
This week, the nation’s top doctor for vaccine research, Dr. Rick Bright, was shoved aside when he complained about squandering precious resources to promote hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug embraced by President Trump as a COVID-19 treatment, according to The New York Times. Trump has been aggressively promoting the drug as a miracle cure for COVID-19 infections after hearing about it from no less a medical expert than Fox News talking head Laura Ingraham.
In fact, the drug is useless when it comes to combating COVID-19. In a clinical trial in selected VA hospitals, patients given hydroxychloroquine were three times more likely to die than those who received other treatments. So much for the unstable genius “getting” how to deal with the virus.
Bright tells The Times that he was dismissed as director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and removed as the deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response. Instead, he was assigned to a different job at the National Institutes of Health.
Bright says he was pressured to direct money toward hydroxychloroquine, one of several “potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections” and repeatedly described by the president as a potential “game changer” in the fight against the virus.
“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 his statement. “I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way.”
Politics & Cronyism
And that is precisely the point. For readers who are scratching the heads and wondering what the treatment of Rick Bright has to do with clean technology, consider this. The things he is complaining about are precisely the kinds of things that are going on throughout the Trump maladministration, from the EPA, to the Justice Department, to NASA, NOAA, the Interior Department, the State Department, and every other nook and cranny of the federal government.
It’s all part of what Trump thinks of “draining the swamp,” which is his way of describing all the dedicated civil servants and government scientists trying to craft rational responses to the environmental challenges of an overheating planet. What happened to Rick Bright is happening to hundreds of others, silencing any and all voices that are not willing to quote from the gospel according to Trump.
An Emasculated CDC
The Washington Post has a perfect example of how Trump browbeats uppity department heads into submission. Earlier this week, Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during an interview with The Post that this coming fall, the US could face a daunting health crisis if a second wave of coronavirus coincides with the normal flu season. If so, it “will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” he said, then added that Trump’s tweets calling on protesters to “liberate” states with lockdown orders were “not helpful.”
Two days later, a chastened Redfield appeared at at White House press briefing accompanied by a glowering Trump. This time, Redfield softened his message. “I didn’t say that this was going to be worse. I said it was going to be more difficult and potentially complicated because we’ll have flu and coronavirus circulating at the same time. ‘It’s more difficult’ doesn’t mean it’s going to be more impossible.” Nicely weasel-worded, B0b. Hope you have some shred of manhood left after being gelded in public by the boss.
In March, Nancy Messonnier, the CDC’s director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, was removed from her position as head of the agency’s coronavirus response team after she had the temerity to warn that Americans should begin preparing for “significant disruption” to their lives from a “severe illness.”
In the midst of the pandemic when input from the CDC should be most viral, the agency had been completely silenced by Trump until Redfield opened his mouth and got slapped down. The last CDC daily briefing was held on March 9. After that, such briefings were cancelled in order to not incur the Wrath Of Trump.
Judd Deere, a White House spokesperson, dutifully trashed the press over the suggestion that scientists and department heads are being muzzled by the Trump maladministration. “Despite the media’s ridiculous efforts to somehow create distance between the president and his top health experts, it is simply fake news. President Trump has relied on and consulted with Dr. Adams, Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Hahn, Dr. Redfield, and many others as he has confronted this unforeseen, unprecedented crisis and put the full power of the federal government to work to slow the spread, save lives, and place this great country on a data-driven path to opening up again.”
Note the emphasis on “unforeseen.” Trump insists there was no way of knowing COVID-19 was as big a threat as it turned out to be, despite warnings from people in the government that a train wreck was heading toward US shores as early as last fall. What Dumb Donald means is that the truth was inconvenient and so he chose to ignore it.
The truth about an overheating planet is equally inconvenient, which means the person charged with the duty to protect America and Americans is doing nothing to fulfill that obligation and has no intention of doing so as long as he is in office. An excellent reason, therefore, to see that he is removed from office at the earliest opportunity.
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(Originally appeared at our sister-site, Cleantechnica. Image CC by DonkeyHotey on Flickr)