Biden on a Staggering Statistic

From Joe Biden and his team:

Today, we learned that another 2.1 million people filed for unemployment last week, bringing the total number of new unemployment claims since this crisis began to more than 40 million. This is just the latest evidence of D—- T—-’s utter failure to do what a president should and must do: lead in a crisis. He ignored the warnings, refused to prepare the country, and wasn’t honest with the American people about what was needed — and we are all living with the horrific results. Now, nearly a quarter of the American workforce has filed for unemployment — a figure so staggering that it would have seemed unthinkable not long ago.

Though the coronavirus is to blame for planting the seeds of this damage, we know that D—- T—-’s persistent failure to act is responsible for the tragic and unprecedented scale of the crisis. T—- was warned for months about the urgency of the situation, but sat on his hands — undermining public health experts and spinning false promises to the American people to prop up his political standing at the expense of public safety.

Germany, by contrast, had its first reported case of coronavirus almost a week after the United States, but has suffered only a tiny fraction of the unemployment we’ve faced thanks to a swift and effective public health response. Millions more Americans would be employed today — and our lives would have a far greater semblance of normalcy — had T—- responded with similar resolve. A devastating study released last week found that 36,000 people could have been saved had [the Toddler] taken action even one week earlier. Instead, more than 100,000 Americans have been lost forever, and the day-to-day lives and future dreams of 40 million people and their families have been thrown off course.

Even now, T—- refuses to focus on getting help to those who need it most. The largest single recipient of relief funds intended for small businesses was a hotel executive and major T—- donor who claimed more than $58 million in taxpayer bailout money. A private jet company founded by a T—- donor received another $27 million. And a cell phone location-tracking company that has been hired by the T—- campaign to target voters obtained nearly $3 million.

Meanwhile, actual small businesses and mom-and-pop entrepreneurs — the lifeblood of local economies — are being turned away in droves. As if that weren’t enough, T—- has also used the cover of this crisis to brazenly fire five inspectors general, the public watchdogs whose job it is to guard against corruption — including the official responsible for providing oversight of pandemic relief funds.

The corruption is obvious — the incompetence even more so. Two months after Congress passed the CARES Act to speed relief to the American people, not one dollar allocated for the Main Street Lending Program — a $600 billion fund designed to help small and medium-sized businesses across America — has been disbursed. Not one dollar, as businesses keep laying workers off and struggle through some of the most brutal months in modern history. Wall Street has gotten the help it needs; Main Street is still waiting. There is no excuse for this Administration’s lack of urgency or care given all that the American people are enduring right now.

I oversaw implementation of the nearly $800 billion Recovery Act — with less than 0.2 percent waste, fraud, and abuse. That response didn’t happen by magic. It took sustained focus and constant pressure and personal engagement at the highest levels to make sure we were implementing the program efficiently and effectively on behalf of the American people. We need that type of response right now — albeit on a dramatically larger scale.

D—- T—- should be laser-focused on getting relief out as fast as possible to the people who actually need it — with no favoritism and no fraud. That he continues to occupy himself with self-pitying tweets and dangerous conspiracy theories in the face of an ongoing, world-historic crisis killing thousands of Americans each day and putting millions more out of work is beyond comprehension. I pray that the President thinks of them.

Unquote.

Don’t bother praying. God helps those who help themselves in November.

Tomorrow’s Front Page

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Quote:

Numbers alone cannot possibly measure the impact of the coronavirus on America… As the country nears a grim milestone of 100,000 deaths attributed to the virus, the New York Times scoured obituaries and death notices of the victims. The 1,000 people here reflect just one percent of the toll. None were mere numbers.

Patricia Dowd, 57, San Jose, Calif., auditor in Silicon Valley.
Marion Krueger, 83, Kirkland, Wash., great-grandmother with an easy laugh.
Jermaine Farrow, 77, Lee County, Fla., wife with little time to enjoy a new marriage….

From Joe Biden:

36,000 Americans could be alive today if President T—– had acted sooner.

The hard truth is D—– T—– ignored the warnings of health experts and intelligence agencies, downplayed the threat COVID-19 posed, and failed to take the action needed to combat the outbreak. It’s one of the greatest failures of presidential leadership in our history.

We all need to vote for every Democrat in November and damage that other party for decades to come.

She’s Voting for Biden Regardless

Katha Pollitt, a columnist for The Nation, America’s oldest politically progressive magazine, is voting for Joe Biden:

I would vote for Joe Biden if he boiled babies and ate them. He wasn’t my candidate, but taking back the White House is that important. Four more years of T—- will replace what remains of our democracy with unchecked rule by kleptocrats, fascists, religious fanatics, gun nuts, and know-nothings. The environment? Education? Public health? The rights of voters, workers, immigrants, people of color, and yes, women? Forget them. And not just for the next four years: A T—- victory will lock down the courts for decades. I cannot believe that a rational person can grasp the disaster that is Donald T—- and withhold their support from Biden because of Tara Reade.

I would say this even if I had no problems with Reade’s account—after all, Biden will be running against T—-, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by 25 women….(I’ll leave it to others to explain why the writer E. Jean Carroll’s claim last summer that T—- raped her in a department store dressing room in the mid-1990s was a one-day story, while Reade has been all over the news for weeks.)

Fortunately, I may not have to sacrifice morality to political necessity. When I started writing this piece too many long days ago, T—- [lovers], Berners, and many feminists alike supported Reade’s allegation, first made public on March 25 …, that Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993 when she was a staffer in his Senate office. I was on the fence. I wrote, “I’d like to know more” on Twitter and Facebook and was reviled as a feminist hypocrite—interestingly enough, mostly by men. It was also mostly men who demanded that I sign on immediately to #IBelieveTara.

I take women’s accusations very seriously, but there have always been reasons to be skeptical about this one. To believe Reade, you have to believe that Biden put her up against a wall and penetrated her with his fingers on the spur of the moment in a hallway in the Capitol complex, where she says she was looking for him to give him his gym bag. This corridor, which she can’t precisely identify, is a public space. (Her lawyer said he assaulted her in “a semi-private area like an alcove.”) Indeed, Reade told Megyn Kelly that before she caught up with Biden, he was talking to another person. It was the middle of a workday. To believe Reade, you have to believe Biden would take that risk.

Pollitt goes on to discuss other reasons for doubting the allegation. She says Reade’s story has changed “over and over” (“Reade’s claim of supposed “retaliation” by Biden’s office exists in so many versions I got a headache trying to keep them straight”). She calls Reade’s account of filing a sexual harassment complaint “similarly bewildering”. She questions the credibility of people who say they heard about the assault years ago. Pollitt also points out that Reade has written approvingly of Vladimir Putin and is a Sanders supporter who made her allegation at an opportune moment in the campaign. Pollitt concludes:

Do plenty of famous, powerful men molest less-powerful women? Of course. #MeToo has made us all aware of that. Many studies show that most women who say they have been sexually assaulted are telling the truth. However, when you’re dealing with actual individuals, it isn’t good enough to go with generalities…. Otherwise, you get arguments like those of the feminist philosopher Kate Manne, who writes in The Nation that Biden is “the type” of man who would sexually assault Reade, because he has “a demonstrated history of handsiness.” That’s like saying a man accused of armed robbery is “the type” because he was in the habit of shoplifting. Touching women, invading their space, commenting on their bodies, looking them up and down are all regrettably common, especially among men of Biden’s generation; impulsively assaulting a staffer in a public hallway, not so much.

… Her supporters compare her favorably to Christine Blasey Ford, who waited even longer to come forward with her accusation that Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party when they were both in high school. Democrats believed Ford, they say, and doubt Reade for political reasons…. it may even be true that some find Ford more credible because, unlike Reade, she has led a solidly middle-class life of professional accomplishment and respectability. But it’s also true that Ford did not change her story, testified under oath, took a polygraph test, and had four sworn affidavits from people she told about the incident plus her therapist’s notes.

As I write, Reade’s story seems to be falling apart. PBS NewsHour has posted an article based on interviews with 74 Biden staffers, who spoke highly of their boss and his respectful and enlightened behavior toward women. One staffer, who had worked with Reade, said her office problems had to do with her poor performance at the task they shared, answering mail from constituents…. NewsHour reporters investigated the hallway where the assault is alleged to have happened and determined that there was no “semi-private area like an alcove,” as her lawyer claimed, where Biden could have assaulted Reade unseen.

An article in Politico portrays Reade as a manipulative, dishonest user who exploited acquaintances and kind people who tried to help her over the years, and who always spoke proudly of her time working for Biden. Of course, liars can be raped, users can be raped, people who skip out on the rent can be raped. But it is an intentional misreading to say, as some have claimed, that the article slams Reade for being poor. Very few poor people trick veterinarians into billing others for medical care for their pet horse.

We may never get to the bottom of this to everyone’s satisfaction. I certainly won’t be holding my breath waiting for the journalists who ran with this story on very little evidence to climb down, let alone apologize. On Twitter, Biden is still a rapist, and perhaps always will be. Meanwhile, Reade and her supporters have made it harder for the next woman who claims to have been sexually harassed, assaulted or raped. False claims are rare, as I mentioned earlier, but they loom large in the public imagination. People still remember Tawana Brawley, who was not, as she claimed, raped by a gang of white men, including police officers, over four days in the woods in upstate New York—and that was 33 years ago.

Here’s what I do know: Whether or not you believe Tara Reade—and I’m betting that the case for believing her is going to get weaker rather than stronger as the weeks go by—you should vote for Joe Biden if he is the nominee. And he is almost sure to be the nominee, despite the best efforts of some Sanders supporters to use Reade to force Biden to step aside. Moreover, there is nothing hypocritical about feminists supporting Biden. We have a perfect right to support the candidate who will be better for women and their rights than the one who will send us back to the 1950s. It is the only intelligent thing to do. Not only is Tara Reade’s claim far from proven, weighing the personal against the political is what voters do all the time….

I realize Democrats and those to their left care deeply about their principles. Al Franken was hustled out of the Senate, after all, on the basis of far less serious—but better attested—allegations than Reade’s. But this time we need to take a leaf from the evangelicals, who enthusiastically support D—- T—- and don’t give a hoot that 25 women have accused him of various kinds of misconduct or that he paid hush money to a porn star. They don’t care about his dishonest finances, either, or his still-unrevealed income taxes or indeed anything detrimental about him. What they care about is what D—- T—- will do for their issues: install Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade, for starters.

Whether or not you feel in your bones that Tara Reade is telling the truth, the evidence is just not there. We do not have the luxury of sitting out the election to feel morally pure or send a message about sexual assault and #BelieveWomen. That will not help women at all. Or anyone else.

It’s the Best News in Quite a While

From The Washington Post:

By a 6-to-1 margin, Americans 65 and older say it is more important to address the spread of the coronavirus than to focus on the economy. That makes sense. A premature reopening could kill them. If T—– leans too much into an economic message that is inextricably tied to serious public health risks, he will fall off his narrow path to victory.

According to a Josh Kraushaar analysis of recent polling in the National Journal: “In mid-March, seniors were more supportive of T—– than any other age group (plus-19 net approval). Now, their net approval of the president has dropped 20 points and is lower than any age group outside of the youngest Americans.” If that collapse of support persists into November, T—– won’t just lose; he’ll lose in a landslide.

From the same paper:

And perhaps as a result, T—– is losing support among seniors in head-to-head matchups with Joe Biden:

“Those findings were matched by a new NBC/WSJ poll, which tested the presidential matchup between T—– and Joe Biden. Among seniors 65 and older, Biden led T—– by 9 points, 52 to 43 percent. That’s a dramatic 16-point swing from Hillary Clinton’s showing in the 2016 election; she lost seniors by 7 points to T—– (52-45 percent).”

Speaking as an “older voter”, I’ve never understood why so many people over 65 support him. It could be the Fox News effect, or, as the saying goes, there’s no fool like an old fool (speaking as an “old fool”).

I Wish Ever Reporter, Columnist, Editor and Publisher (and Every Voter) in America Would Read This Before It’s Too Late

Paul Waldman of The Washington Post says “We’re Already Seeing the 2020 Version of ‘But Her Emails'”:

Here we go again.

If you think we learned anything from the “But Her Emails” debacle of 2016, in which the fact that Hillary Clinton used the wrong email was treated as far and away the most important issue of the presidential campaign, I have some bad news for you.

And right about now, Republicans probably can’t believe their luck. They’re like a three-card monte grifter who keeps pulling the same trick on the same guy who stops at their table every day and never seems to figure out he’s being conned.

Yes, I’m talking about Tara Reade’s allegation that then-Sen. Joe Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993. We’ve now entered the “Show us the documents!” phase of this game.

To be clear, I’m not arguing that Reade is lying; I have no idea, and the evidence we’ve seen so far is not conclusive in either direction. Moreover, in all likelihood we aren’t ever going to get proof, and we’ll be better off if we acknowledge that now instead of acting like a smoking gun will emerge if we dig hard enough.

But now this question has come to rest on Biden’s Senate papers, currently held at the University of Delaware. Despite the fact that those papers reportedly don’t include personnel records and there’s no reason to believe they contain anything at all about Reade, we’re hearing the first round of demands for Biden to publicly release them.

Transparency is a good thing, and if people want to argue that the release of those papers will be useful in giving us a full picture of Biden’s career as a senator, then that’s fine. I’m sure it would be of interest to historians to see drafts of Biden’s speeches or notes going back and forth between him and his staff as they write legislation.

The problem is that we’re already starting to treat those papers as though they will contain deep and shocking secrets that could transform everyone’s view of Biden and therefore must be brought into the light lest the electorate make a terrible mistake in November.

And we know that Republicans are just itching to get their hands on all those boxes, so they can find some sentence in a memo that can be taken out of context and turned into evidence that Biden is a villain, then plastered across Facebook and Twitter.

We know this because we’ve been here before, repeatedly.

In 2004, Republicans made the scurrilous charge that John F. Kerry lied about his Vietnam War service and didn’t deserve the medals he was awarded. Demands that his service records be released were repeated throughout the fall campaign.

In 2016, Republicans alleged that Hillary Clinton had concealed shocking proof of everything from Benghazi to Jimmy Hoffa’s murder to the Loch Ness monster in her personal emails. Demands that she produce them were repeated throughout the campaign.

It worked. One study of 2016 found: “In just six days, The New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary Clinton’s emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election.” Other outlets weren’t much better.

The common thread linking Kerry, Clinton and now Biden is the allegation that hidden documents contain incriminating information, and if we can get our hands on them, then everything will change. As Republicans know, this plays right into reporters’ suspicion of secrecy. The result is wave after wave of news coverage that assumes that the Democratic candidate is concealing something nefarious.

And yet somehow, President Trump — the most dishonest and corrupt human being to ever sit in the Oval Office — largely manages to avoid that kind of coverage, all while he wages an unending war on transparency, including firing every inspector general who reveals his administration’s misconduct or incompetence. No one has more to hide than him, yet whenever those questions come up, they disappear in relatively short order. Reporters ask, he lies and evades, and then they move on.

Perversely, it’s precisely because Trump is so adamantly opposed to any kind of transparency that he gets fewer demands for transparency than Democrats do. We in the media wind up saying, “What’s the point of writing another editorial demanding he release his tax returns? We all know he won’t.”

Indeed, the Times reported back in the fall of 2018 — based on extensive documentary evidence — that the president of the United States and his family engaged in a years-long tax evasion conspiracy that defrauded the federal government of hundreds of millions of dollars. Yet the story simply disappeared.

What if the hundreds of reporters who had been assigned to investigate Clinton’s email account were assigned to follow up on that? But they weren’t. So how many Americans know about it? Five percent? One percent?

The same apparently applies to the voluminous allegations of sexual misconduct, up to and including rape, that women have made against Trump. Biden’s running mate will be asked dozens or even hundreds of times about Tara Reade. How many times has Vice President Pence been grilled about Karen Johnson, or E. Jean Carroll, or Summer Zervos, or any other of the 24 women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct?

Yes, Biden should be transparent. But let’s apply the same standards to Trump that we apply to him. And let’s not be fooled, once again, into going on a months-long crusade to uncover documents that swallows the entire presidential campaign, just because Republicans claim they must contain something incriminating.

We’ve been through this before, and we know how it ends.

Unquote.

Yesterday, The Guardian had three stories about this on their digital front page. The New York Times has three opinion columns about it, including one that calls for Democrats to develop a Plan B:

To preserve the strides made on behalf of victims of sexual assault in the era of #MeToo, and to maximize their chances in November, Democrats need to begin formulating an alternative strategy for 2020 — one that does not include Mr. Biden.

Given that the election is six months away, that might be the dumbest piece of political advice ever printed (no wonder there were more than 5,000 comments). 

In USA Today, a former prosecutor explains why he’s skeptical about Ms. Reade’s story, even after presenting the reasons to believe her.

I don’t plan to write about this again, unless it looks as if those same voters are heading toward an even worse decision than they made in 2016 (four years ago, nobody had seen this president in office yet — there is really no excuse now).

Another Post Mortem

When she opened Saturday Night Live last night, Elizabeth Warren pointed out that she’s not dead, she’s merely in the Senate.

Still, Moira Donegan says the Democrats would be more viable for the presidency if:

… if the media and the electorate were less blinded by cynicism, sexism and fear and more willing to see Warren for who she was – the most capable, competent and kindest candidate in the race.

As a woman, the Massachusetts senator always faced an uphill battle of double standards and misogynist resentment. She had to be competent but not condescending, cheery but not pandering, maternal but not frumpy, smart but not haughty. As she rose in the polls last summer and fall, she came under the kind of scrutiny that male frontrunners are not subjected to, and faced skepticism about her claims and character that male candidates do not face.

As she rose in the polls last summer and fall, she came under the kind of scrutiny that male frontrunners are not subjected to.

This is the fate of a lot of women who come close to attaining power, and empirical data backs up the phenomenon: writing in the Washington Post, the Cornell philosopher Kate Manne cited a 2010 Harvard study that found that women are viewed more negatively simply by seeking office. “Voters view male and female politicians as equally power-seeking, but respond to them quite differently,” Manne writes. “Men who seek power were viewed as stronger and tougher, while power-seeking women provoked feelings of disgust and contempt.”

As a result, all of Warren’s virtues were recast as vices in the public eye. Her impressive credentials and superlative intellect became out-of-touch elitism. Her joyousness and enthusiasm were cast as somehow both insincerely pandering and cringingly over-earnest. This kind of transformation of neutral or positive character traits into negative ones is not something that happens to men in similar positions. Sanders can aestheticize his practiced cantankerousness for laughs and sympathy without anyone asking if its a put-on. Biden can use slang from the 1930s without anyone ever questioning whether the ostentatious folksiness of his “no malarkey” messaging might be just a tad affected. But for Warren, every smile was interpreted as a sign of concealed hatred, of secret, nefarious motives.

Her policy efforts, too, were cast as a repudiation of her principles rather than as steps toward realizing them. Her attempt to transform Medicare for All from a symbolic rallying cry into a substantive, workable and affordable policy change that can be made in our time brought, paradoxically, accusations that she was less serious about the policy for trying to make it a reality. Her plans to break up tech monopolies, repair the damage to black wealth done by historic redlining policies and reshape massive federal spending projects to make them environmentally sustainable were all cast as signs of duplicity and lack of commitment to her stated values. Meanwhile, male candidates who did not have substantive plans to implement such policies were believed, largely uncritically, when they told the public that they would put them in place.

In this race, men’s statements – about who they are, what they value, what they would do as president – have largely been taken at face value, even when male candidates have made false or exaggerated claims or contradicted themselves. But Elizabeth Warren was never given the benefit of the doubt. Her flaws and missteps were magnified, and interpreted in ways disproportionate to their significance, while comparatively greater mistakes by male rivals were all but ignored. When she referred to her father as having worked as a janitor, a days–long news cycle asked why, if he was really a janitor, her brother had once referred to him as a “maintenance man”. That these are effectively the same did not matter: the irrelevant non-story was interpreted as a sign of her constitutional untrustworthiness.

Warren was said to be not really running for president, but running as a spoiler; not really happy to meet voters, but shamelessly pretending with her long selfie lines; not really committed to economic inequality, but merely devoting her life to it as some sort of long con. None of these accusations made much logical sense, but that didn’t matter, because they were backed up by the force of feeling – a very strong feeling, held by many men and women alike, that a woman seeking power and status just can’t be trusted.

The epistemic philosopher Miranda Fricker calls this tendency to disbelieve women, and to believe powerful men, “testimonial injustice”: the harm done to speakers when prejudiced listeners discount their credibility. Women face testimonial injustice in particular when they challenge or contradict men, as cultural tropes that depict women as conniving, scheming, and selfish can be mustered to make her seem less credible, him more believable. Fricker doesn’t apply her concept of testimonial injustice to gender conflict exclusively, but it is an obstacle that many women recount in their own experiences of gendered injustice: the sense that they cannot be believed, that they cannot achieve equal credibility and moral footing with men in the minds of their peers, that they will always be assumed to be either stupid or dishonest. Branded as dishonest even as she told the truth, duplicitous even as she kept her promises, Warren faced testimonial injustice on a huge scale, and it ultimately doomed her campaign.

Unquote.