Marissa Higgins

Dr. Deborah Birx claims someone gave Trump 'parallel' data on coronavirus pandemic

If you followed along with Dr. Deborah Birx, former White House coronavirus task force coordinator, you might have experienced some frustration at what the White House was (or more accurately, wasn't) doing in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Some viewers began to wonder why Birx appeared to be tiptoeing around being direct, especially in terms of her sometimes too optimistic-seeming virus projections, and her considerably lenient sidestepping over Trump's continued failures. On the other hand, at least one clip of Birx seemingly reacting to former President Donald Trump's babbling went viral, suggesting that Birx was no happier with the Trump administration than the rest of us.

Now, in a new interview with Face the Nation on CBS News, Birx, a long-standing expert in public health, talks to host Margaret Brennan about what really happened behind the scenes at the White House. Surprising no one, it was pretty bad: few masks, no "full-time" team, and the feeling she was being censored from appearing on national TV networks. Let's dig into more specifics from the interview below, as well as if Birx has any regrets.

Let's start with an unsurprising, but still horrifying, point from the interview. Birx said there were people in the White House (as well as in the American public in general) who "believed this was a hoax," which is terrifying, but again, not a huge shock. Also horrifying: An anyonmous-to-Birx person allegedly made data and graphs for Trump to present that she had nothing to do with.

"I saw the president presenting graphs that I never made," Birx stated. "I know that someone— someone out there or someone inside—was creating a parallel set of data and graphics that were shown to the president." She added that she doesn't know who was behind the graphs to this day. Similarly terrifying, and similarly not surprising. Alternative facts! Parallel data! … Lies.


On a logistical level, Birx says she had "no team, full-time team in the White House working on coronavirus," and had just one "incredible" support person. Effectively, in Birx's words, she was the "only full-time person in the White House working on the coronavirus response." Lovely! Just what the nation needs during a literal global pandemic. Luckily, given that Birx has a long career in public health, she said she was able to reach out to people in other agencies to assist her.

You might remember that, as Daily Kos covered at the time, we've gotten reports of the HHS attempting to censor Dr. Fauci in terms of statements he made during public media appearances. At one point, ABC News host Jon Karl said that though Fauci was willing to appear on his Sunday show that particular day, the "The White House wouldn't allow you to hear from the nation's leading expert on coronavirus." (Instead, Eric Trump appeared on that show and ranted about antifa.)

What does that have to do with Birx? According to Birx, she felt she was intentionally blocked from making appearances on national media outlets for some period of time. Traveling across the country and meeting with leaders one-on-one allowed her to spread the science-based information she actually wanted to get out to the public. Because, you know, there's nothing like censoring your public health experts to the point that they need to drive themselves around the nation to try and help the country survive a pandemic.



"That was the place where people would let me say what needed to be said about the pandemic, both in private with the governors and then in following up, doing press to talk to the people of that state," Birx said in reference to her time spent speaking directly with local and state leaders. Birx also used her one-on-one opportunities with governors to encourage them not to stress about Trump's insistence on reopening the economy in the face of the pandemic.

Does Birx have regrets? "I always feel like I could have done more, been more outspoken, maybe been more outspoken publicly," Birx stated. "I didn't know all the consequences of all of these issues." She added that she had "always" thought about quitting her post.

"I had to ask myself every morning: 'Is there something that I think I can do that would be helpful in responding to this pandemic?' And it's something I asked myself every night," Birx stated.

It's definitely worth checking out the full interview over at CBS News. And, as always, it's definitely still worth wearing a face mask when possible, practicing social distancing, washing your hands, and trying your best to be as safe as possible.

You can also check out the interview below, courtesy of YouTube.


- YouTube youtu.be

'Trump is a failed leader': Schwarzenegger slams fellow Republicans who 'enabled' president's 'lies and treachery'

In the days since a group of pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., sending elected officials into temporary hiding and the nation into a period of shock and horror, a number of Republicans have spoken out against Donald Trump. Whether they've criticized his endless insistence that he actually won the 2020 presidential election (he didn't), called for Trump to resign, both long-standing critics and newly vocalized GOP members are speaking out against Trump.

In a moving, personal video, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger succinctly described Trump as a "failed leader" and someone who "will soon be as irrelevant as an old tweet." Direct jabs aside, however, Schwarzenegger also dove deep into serious matters and discussed intergenerational trauma, personal examples from his youth in Austria, and directed a very important message to not only Trump but the Republicans who enabled him. He also wished "great success" to President-elect Joe Biden for when he takes office in less than a month. Let's check out the video below.

First, in reference to Trump, Schwarzenegger states, "President Trump sought to overturn the results of an election. He sought a coup by misleading people with lies. He will go down in history as the worst president ever. The good thing is he will soon be as irrelevant as an old tweet." Obviously, the extra layer of zing here is that Twitter (as well as a handful of other social media platforms) recently permanently suspended Trump from their platforms.

On a personal note, Schwarzenegger discussed growing up in the long-term wake of Kristallnacht (also known as the Night of Broken Glass). Schwarzenegger described Kristallnacht as "a night of rampage against the Jews carried out in 1938 by the Nazi equivalent of the Proud Boys," and said the insurgent's attack on the Capitol last Wednesday was "the Day of Broken Glass right here in the United States. But the mob did not just shatter the windows of the Capitol. They shattered the ideas we took for granted [and] trampled the very principles on which our country was founded."

Schwarzenegger talked about how intergenerational trauma (though he didn't use that term) can affect an entire society. In his case, Schwarzenegger described being a child and watching his father come home drunk once or twice a week, hitting and scaring his mother. He said it felt normal because he knew it happened at neighbors' houses, too. Why? According to Schwarzenegger, this behavior tied to collective guilt and horror after World War II, saying these men were "in emotional pain for what they saw or did." In his words, he grew up "surrounded by broken men drinking away the guilt over their participation in the most evil regime in history."

"It all started with lies, lies, lies, and intolerance," Schwarzenegger stated. "Being from Europe I've seen firsthand how bad things can spin out of control."

In terms of his fellow Republicans, Schwarzenegger called out those who "enabled" Trump's "lies and his treachery." He also quoted former President Teddy Roosevelt to them, saying, "Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president."

"To those who think they can overturn the United States constitution, know this: You will never win," he stated, asking for the people responsible for the attack on the U.S. Capitol to be held accountable.

Here's the video on Twitter, which has garnered more than 6 million views at the time of writing. It's about seven minutes long, but honestly, is worth the full watch.


You can watch the full video on his YouTube channel below.


Governor Schwarzenegger's Message Following this Week's Attack on the Capitol youtu.be

AOC cuts to the point: 'We came close to half of the House nearly dying on Wednesday'

After an incredibly chaotic, exhausting, and, frankly, terrifying week, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appeared on ABC's This Week and talked to host George Stephanopoulos about what we all know is true: "Every minute" that Donald Trump sits in office "represents a clear and present danger." As many on social media have pointed out, if Trump can't even be trusted with a Twitter account, how can he be trusted to run the country, hold nuclear codes, or guide us through a global pandemic?

Still, some people are frustrated at the notion of removing Trump so close to the end of his term, wondering, Well, what's the point? There's symbolism, of course, in impeaching Trump for a second time. But there are also real, tangible benefits to removing Trump from office that can affect the country in both the short and long-term. Let's check out how Ocasio-Cortez breaks them down in the clips below.

"Our main priority is to ensure the removal of Donald Trump as President of the United State," Ocasio-Cortez told Stephanopoulos. "Every minute and every that he is in office represents a clear and present danger not just to the United States Congress but to the country. But in addition to removal, we're also talking about completely barring the president—or rather, Donald Trump—from running for office ever again. And in addition to that, the potential ability to prevent pardoning himself from those charges that he was impeached for."

Here's that clip.


Stephanopolous asked Ocasio-Cortez about the concerns of some that having an impeachment trial could slow down getting Biden's agenda underway, including, for example, passing coronavirus relief and confirmations. Ocasio-Cortez argued that the "safety" of the president, Congress, and the "security of our country takes precedence over the timing of nominations" and potential "confirmations."


Stephanopoulos referenced a letter sent on behalf of a number of Republicans who implored President-elect Biden to forego impeachment for the sake of "unity," arguing that it is "unnecessary" and "inflammatory." The group of House Republicans, led by Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, wrote: "In the spirit of healing and fidelity to our Constitution, we ask that you formally request that Speaker Nancy Pelosi discontinue her efforts to impeach President Donald J. Trump a second time."

To that, Ocasio-Cortez hammered down on the point that what happened this past week was an "insurrection against the United States." The New York City progressive argued that "healing" requires "accountability." She pointed out that if we allow insurrection to happen with impunity, "we are inviting it to happen again."

"We came close to half of the House nearly dying on Wednesday," Ocasio-Cortez stated. "If a foreign head of state, if another head of state, came in and ordered an attack on the United States Congress, would we say that should not be prosecuted? Would we say that there should be absolutely no response to that? No. It is an act of insurrection. It is an act of hostility." She stressed that without accountability, "it will happen again."


Dr. Fauci warns of COVID 'surge upon a surge' after Thanksgiving

Appearing on ABC's This Week on the Sunday morning after Thanksgiving, the nation's top infectious disease expert and voice of reason amid the novel coronavirus pandemic dropped some harsh realities on viewers—but also reminded us that we can make better choices starting, well, today. In speaking to host Martha Raddatz about our rising case numbers, Dr. Anthony Fauci said "there almost certainly is going to be an uptick because of what has happened with the travel" over Thanksgiving. He also chatted with Raddatz about the COVID-19 vaccine, reopening schools, and the next stage of the holiday season: Christmas and New Year's.

Given that we already know people planned to travel and gather for Thanksgiving, many of us are wondering—and worried—that people are planning to repeat the pattern just one month from now. But as Fauci urged viewers, "We're going to have to make decisions as a nation, state, city and family, that we're in a very difficult time and we're going to have to do the kinds of restrictions of things we would like to have done, particularly in this holiday season." Basically, now is not the time to shrug our shoulders and admit defeat in the face of worsening numbers.

"We may see a surge upon a surge," a few weeks down the line, Fauci said, stressing that "we don't want to frighten people, but that's just the reality." Fauci shared that as we enter a colder weather season, as well as a bigger holiday season with people traveling back and forth, he doesn't foresee relaxed guidelines or restrictions when it comes to facing the virus.

Fauci also brought up hope for a vaccine in the near future, citing the end of December as a starting point for top priority individuals, and then progressively more people receiving vaccinations through March.


When asked about legal barriers in terms of pandemic restrictions, Fauci put it simply when he said there's nothing he personally can do about it. He stressed that no matter who you are, or where you are, if you have a congregate setting of people—especially if they are inside, and especially if they are not wearing masks—that's a "considerable risk" for getting or spreading the infection.

When asked how he would advise the Biden administration on getting a "unified response" in terms of COVID-19 closings, Fauci suggested to "close the bars and keep the schools open." He noted that there's no one-size-fits-all solution, but getting students back in school should be a priority, and in order to do that safely, we need to get our community spread levels low.


Fauci still wants to see more testing available for asymptomatic people, saying he hopes it's "sooner rather than later," especially when it comes to contact tracing and community spread tracking. He mentioned hope for at-home rapid tests, perhaps even without a prescription, for at least some circumstances.


Fauci also stressed that the process for developing the vaccine has been "scientifically sound." According to Fauci, "safety has not been compromised, scientific integrity has not been compromised and the process of determining whether it works, whether it's safe and effective has been independent by independent bodies and transparent."





Delaware makes history in electing the first openly transgender state senator in the US

On an evening when just about everyone is (understandably) focused on the presidential race between Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, there are a number of local and state races bringing in truly exciting and results. One example? Let's look at Delaware. As reported by the LGBTQ Victory Fund and The New York Times, Democrat Sarah McBride won her bid for a seat in the Delaware state Senate in a landslide. This victory makes McBride the highest-ranking openly transgender legislator. No, not just in Delaware: in the entire United States.

When speaking to Marie Claire in an interview back in September, McBride said one of her hopes in this race is for "this election can help show a young kid struggling with their place in the world here in Delaware or North Carolina or Texas or anywhere that our democracy is big enough for them—that they can be themselves and the sky can still be the limit." Inspiring words from a truly inspiring person.

She tweeted a similar sentiment after her win tonight.

In speaking to Vox back in 2019 about her historic run, McBride spoke lovingly about her home state of Delaware and the importance of running for state office, saying, "the decisions that impact people the most, and the opportunity for change, it's at the state level. It's in the state legislatures." No matter who is running in the presidential race, those are words to live by. Local and state elections matter way more than a lot of people think.

You likely remember McBride from the awesome address she gave at the Democratic National Convention back in 2016.

Sarah McBride, first transgender speaker at major political convention, addresses DNC 2016 www.youtube.com

You can check out her excellent TEDxTalk below.

Gender assigned to us at birth should not dictate who we are | Sarah McBride | TEDxMidAtlanticSalon www.youtube.com

Results are still coming in for a number of races, but with more than 500 openly LGBTQ people on the ballot, every run is a victory for visibility and inclusion.

White House lashes out after Fauci criticized Trump administration's COVID response

As the novel coronavirus has continued to slam the nation, Dr. Anthony Fauci, leading infectious disease expert and member of the Coronavirus Task Force, has been put into difficult position after a difficult position. As Daily Kos covered, Fauci recently had to clarify that a Trump reelection campaign ad not only used reportedly edited clips that were taken out of context, but according to Fauci, the campaign actually ran the ad without his authorization. We also heard from host Jon Karl on ABC's This Week in early October, who said he tried to get interviews for a Sunday show lineup with Fauci, or anyone from the task force, and wasn't able to, describing the situation on Twitter as a "muzzle."

More recently, on Saturday evening, The Washington Post published a major interview with Fauci. What about? The COVID-19 pandemic. And a spokesperson for the White House is already slamming the nation's leading infectious disease specialist. Let's break down some highlights below.

How is the U.S. looking when it comes to the next couple of months of the pandemic? Unfortunately—but unsurprisingly—not too good. "All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors," Fauci told the outlet. "You could not possibly be positioned more poorly."

Fauci was direct in saying that Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign "is taking it seriously from a public health perspective." According to Fauci, Trump's campaign, on the other hand, is using the perspective of "the economy and reopening the country." Which is a polite way of putting it.

Fauci also discussed White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows' recent appearance on CNN's State of the Union with host Jake Tapper, also covered by Daily Kos, where Meadows admitted the administration is "not going to control the pandemic." About Meadows, Fauci told the Post, "He is straightforward in telling you what's on his mind. I commend him for that."

Meanwhile, of course, Trump has flouted state and local public health regulations, made head-scratching promises about vaccines, and held more rallies leading up to Election Day. In a move that truly feels like Opposite Day, at the end of October, the White House essentially declared victory over the pandemic in a statement celebrating Trump's accomplishments.

Speaking of things in the White House, if you think you've seen a whole lot less of Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, who is also on the task force, you're probably right. Both figures have seriously dimmed their public spotlights. Who hasn't? Dr. Scott Atlas—and Fauci expressed his thoughts on Atlas as well.

"All of a sudden, they didn't like what the message was because it wasn't what they wanted to do anymore," Fauci told the paper. "They needed to have a medical message that was essentially consistent with what they were saying."

In reference to Atlas, Fauci told the newspaper: "I have real problems with that guy." He continued that Atlas is "a smart guy who's talking about things that I believe he doesn't have any real insight or knowledge or experience in. He keeps talking about things that when you dissect it out and parse it out, it doesn't make any sense." You might remember Atlas from late summer, when he made headlines for pushing what was essentially a herd immunity theory to handle the pandemic.

In a statement to the Post, White House spokesperson Judd Deere said it is "unacceptable and breaking with all norms for Dr. Fauci, a senior member of the President's Coronavirus Task Force and someone who has praised President Trump's actions throughout this pandemic, to choose three days before an election to play politics." Fauci has been decidedly apolitical and has served under both Democrat and Republican administrations. In fact, this apolitical norm for him is part of what made the unauthorized Trump reelection campaign ad featuring his words such a shock.

Deere continued in the statement: "As a member of the Task Force, Dr. Fauci has a duty to express concerns or push for a change in strategy, but he's not done that, instead choosing to criticize the president in the media and make his political leanings known by praising the president's opponent — exactly what the American people have come to expect from The Swamp."

If there's one constant from the Trump administration, it's The Swamp rhetoric. You can check out the full interview with the Post here.

Americans living in designated ‘anarchist’ jurisdictions offer hilarious reality check for AG Barr

As the nation continues to face the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic and we near the November 2020 election, the Department of Justice released a list of three cities (New York, New York; Seattle, Washington; and Portland, Oregon) it designated as “anarchist” jurisdictions. Are these Democrat-led cities in a state of anarchy? No. While at first this is so absurd it’s laughable, the underlying intent here is important. Why? Because this is pretty clearly a move motivated by politics that puts state and local governments at risk of losing federal funding because of reported violence and vandalism at the summer protests.

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Pelosi won't rule out new impeachment inquiries to block Trump's Supreme Court nominee

Appearing on ABC’s This Week on Sunday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi honored the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by aptly describing her as a “brilliant brain” on the Supreme Court, reminded people that it’s absolutely imperative to get out and vote this November, and the ongoing importance of battling the novel coronavirus pandemic. On the subject of the vacant Supreme Court seat, the Democrat from California didn’t rule out launching an impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump (for the second time) or Attorney General Bill Barr, which would delay the Senate’s ability to confirm a Supreme Court nominee of Trump’s, either.

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Fox News viewers in key battleground state less likely to wear masks: poll

Given that Fox News, as well as some conservative radio stations, have downplayed the severity of the novel coronavirus pandemic, it’s not too surprising that people who rely on such sources for their news may not take all advised precautions seriously at this point in the public health crisis. What sort of precautions? Oh, one of the most essential, basic ones: wearing a face mask in public. A new poll from the University of New Hampshire found that where we get our news can have a seriously big impact on our mask-wearing, and from what we know about this public health crisis, that’s far from good.

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Answering this question about the alleged Kenosha shooter should be easy — but not for Trump's White House

During a Monday afternoon briefing, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany used fearmongering language typical of the Trump administration, including painting a picture of anarchy, chaos, and riots in Democrat-led cities, in her opening address. McEnany even brought up Donald Trump’s incessant tagline of “law and order,” which his Twitter feed has been full of lately. However, the question-and-answer portion of the briefing is what’s really going viral on social media.

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