Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The strange bedfellows of hydroxychloroquine

Picking up on this previous thread.

I know we've been through all of this stuff about Leo Strauss and the conservative movement before so I'm not going to drag this out into great detail except to reiterate that if you want to have a functional  institution that makes extensive use of internal misinformation, you have to make sure things move in the right direction.

With misinformation systems as with plumbing, when the flow starts going the wrong way, the results are seldom pretty. This has been a problem for the GOP for at least a few years now. A number of people in positions of authority, (particularly in the tea party wing) have bought into notions that were probably intended simply to keep the cannon-fodder happy. This may also partly explain the internal polling fiasco at the Romney campaign.

We don't know if hydroxychloroquine will turn out to have a useful role in the treatment of Covid 19, but we can say with almost absolute certainty that it's not a magic bullet. Controlled studies are incredibly helpful for answering a lot of questions, but even with observational data it's easy to spot large, simple, immediate effects. Thousands of patients have been treated with hydroxychloroquine (right now doctors are trying lots of things) and if there has been a benefit, it has been subtle.

Nonetheless, belief in the miraculous powers of the drug is widespread. Some of this comes from the people you'd expect: flakes; conspiracy theorists; and those who prey upon them.

Then there's the group we've talked about before, Republican politicians drinking from the wrong pipe, seeming to actually believe the lies meant for the base. One example of many (emphasis added):

And besides, the first-term Republican told reporters at a briefing this month, “South Dakota is not New York City.”

But now South Dakota is home to one of the largest single coronavirus clusters anywhere in the United States, with more than 300 workers at a giant ­pork-processing plant falling ill. With the case numbers continuing to spike, the company was forced to announce the indefinite closure of the facility Sunday, threatening the U.S. food supply.

“A shelter-in-place order is needed now. It is needed today,” said Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken, whose city is at the center of South Dakota’s outbreak and who has had to improvise with voluntary recommendations in the absence of statewide action.

But the governor continued to resist. Instead, she used a media briefing Monday to announce trials of a drug that President Trump has repeatedly touted as a potential breakthrough in the fight against the coronavirus, despite a lack of scientific evidence.

 But there's one group that, for me, drives home just how out of control the bullshit problem is on the right, billionaires.

And no party would be complete without...

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