Sunday, May 24, 2020


Grace-Marie Turner is contributor to Forbes -- or at least to a part of the Forbes website that publishes self-selected pieces by "contributors" who aren't on staff. Turner has just published this at Forbes, and your right-wing relatives have probably posted it to Facebook already:
600 Physicians Say Lockdowns Are A ‘Mass Casualty Incident’

More than 600 of the nation’s physicians sent a letter to President Trump this week calling the coronavirus shutdowns a “mass casualty incident” with “exponentially growing negative health consequences” to millions of non COVID patients.

“The downstream health effects...are being massively under-estimated and under-reported. This is an order of magnitude error," according to the letter initiated by Simone Gold, M.D., an emergency medicine specialist in Los Angeles.
Okay, let's back up.

Who is Grace-Marie Turner? She's the founder and president of the Galen Institute, which describes itself as a "public policy research organization" favoring "individual freedom, consumer choice, competition, and innovation in the health sector." If the buzzwords don't give the game away, maybe Turner's long-standing ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council -- ALEC -- will make the group's leanings clear. Turner is also affiliated with the Heartland Institute, a Koch-funded organization that promotes climate change denialism.

We knew this letter was coming, and that Dr. Simone Gold would be involved, because AP told us a few days ago that the Republican Party was rounding up doctors to promote Republican talking points.
Republican political operatives are recruiting “extremely pro-Trump” doctors to go on television to prescribe reviving the U.S. economy as quickly as possible, without waiting to meet safety benchmarks proposed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

The plan was discussed in a May 11 conference call with a senior staffer for the Trump reelection campaign organized by CNP Action, an affiliate of the GOP-aligned Council for National Policy. A leaked recording of the hourlong call was provided to The Associated Press by the Center for Media and Democracy, a progressive watchdog group.

CNP Action is part of the Save Our Country Coalition, an alliance of conservative think tanks and political committees formed in late April to end state lockdowns implemented in response to the pandemic. Other members of the coalition include the FreedomWorks Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council and Tea Party Patriots....

The first signature on the letter was Dr. Simone Gold, an emergency medicine specialist in Los Angeles who is listed as a member of the Save Our Country Coalition on the group’s website. She has recently appeared on conservative talk radio and podcast programs to advocate for the use of hydroxychloroquine....
Yes, Gold has promoted hydroxychloroquine on Dennis Prager's podcast.

Who else is quoted in Turner's piece?
“Ending the lockdowns are not about Wall Street or disregard for people’s lives; it about saving lives,” said Dr. Marilyn Singleton, a California anesthesiologist and one of the signers of the letter. “We cannot let this disease change the U.S. from a free, energetic society to a society of broken souls dependent on government handouts.” She blogs about the huge damage the virus reaction is doing to the fabric of society.

Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, also warns that restrictions are having a huge negative impact on non-COVID patients.

“Even patients who do get admitted to hospital, say for a heart problem, are prisoners. No one can be with them. Visitation at a rare single-story hospital was through closed outside window, talking via telephone,” she wrote us. “To get permission to go to the window you have to make an appointment (only one group of two per day!), put on a mask, get your temperature taken, and get a visitor's badge of the proper color of the day.”

How many cases of COVID-19 are prevented by these practices? “Zero,” Dr. Orient says.
It may surprise you to learn that a doctor would blithely proclaim these precautions useless, but it won't surprise you if you know anything about the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, of which Orient is the executive director. (Singleton is affiliated.) The Washington Post recently described AAPS as
a right-wing group that has lobbied in favor of broader exemptions from inoculation requirements for religious and other beliefs. Its periodical has published reports falsely tying child vaccination to autism and advancing a discredited link between abortion and breast cancer.
Here's more information:
The AAPS ... has its house journal, the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPANDS). The journal is not considered a valid, peer-reviewed journal for inclusion in major scientific databases, for obvious reasons, and has been listed by Quackwatch as “Fundamentally Flawed” ... JPANDS has for instance published (this is a short list) a rather famous and extensively debunked article on the supposed link between breast cancer and abortion, and between oral contraceptives and cancer ..., articles defending HIV denialism (a mainstay with the AAPS), ... articles defending hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat multiple sclerosis, articles (infomercials, really) pushing nutritional treatments for ADHD and herpes; [and] an article (from late 2008) claiming that Barack Obama uses neuro-linguistic programming to exercise mind control over people at his rallies....

Orient is also a creationist and signatory to the sadly silly Discovery Institute initiated petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.
So this is a collection of politcal operatives and right-wing crackpots doing the GOP's bidding at the GOP's request, even though Turner angrily insists that the letter is a totally spontaneous outpouring of concern from kindly physicians.
Dr. Simone Gold initiated the letter signed by 600 physicians because of her passionate concern for millions of patients who are not receiving care. Some critics on Twitter have cited an irrelevant Associated Press article to discredit her work, claiming it was a Republican “fronted” effort. Not true. “This was 100% physician grassroots. There was 0% GOP,” Dr. Gold told us.

And yet, alas, your right-wing relatives will fall for this, and some news organizations have fallen for it too.

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