The Least You Can Do

If you expect elementary school children to endure the trauma of active shooter drills for your freedoms, you can wear a mask to Costco.

– Heidi Freymiller (5-1-2020)

This week’s featured post is “Things We’re Finding Out About the Pandemic“.

This week everybody was talking about states reopening

On Tuesday, NBC News made the same claim I’ve been making here:

no state that has opted to reopen has come close to the federally recommended decline in cases over a 14-day period.

This Fox News clip where Chris Wallace interviews Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves is illuminating. Wallace posts the last week of new-case numbers from Mississippi, noting that Friday was a new high of 397 (compared to 281 the previous Friday, and higher than anything in between) and asks “Why are you reopening Mississippi at all when you haven’t met the White House guideline of a steady downward trajectory for two straight weeks?” Governor Reeves replies:

You have to understand that Mississippi is different than New York and Mississippi is different than New Jersey. … They had a huge spike of cases in a very short period of time. But Mississippi is not like that. What we have seen is for the last 35 or 40 days, we’ve been between 200 and 300 cases without a spike. Our hospital system is not stressed. We have less than 100 people in our state on ventilators. … Sometimes the models are different for different states. … We believe that particular gating criteria just doesn’t work in states like ours, who have never had more than 300 cases in any one day, with the exception of Friday.

If you look at their daily death totals, Mississippi has been losing about 10-12 people a day since mid-April, with extremes of 2 (April 27) and 20 (May 1). Reeves is saying, essentially, “We’re OK with more deaths than that.” He’s also ignoring how infectious disease work: New York had 2 deaths on March 18 and 4 on March 19. Mississippians have no special immunity.

This is an example of the peculiar myopia that makes conservatives such poor guardians of public health. Public health is necessarily social, and conservatives see only individuals. (As Maggie Thatcher put it: “There’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families.”) It may be true that an individual Mississippian going to a bar or restaurant right now faces a much different risk than a New Yorker. But that doesn’t mean Mississippi isn’t at risk.

and the meat-packing order

It’s easy to get overcome by righteous anger at workers being ordered to risk their lives. But at the same time it’s hard to figure out what is actually real in this story.

Start with this: Meat-packing plants have been the sources of several of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks in the country, especially among those in rural areas or small towns. Several of them have had to close down, at least temporarily. Management has promised that workers will all be tested, but a lot of them actually haven’t been. Mother Jones reports about a JBS plant in Greeley, Colorado:

Those who have returned talk about improved conditions, including temperature monitoring before each shift and staggered lunch breaks, but there’s a looming fear that the virus is still spreading silently among the workforce. The company still hasn’t implemented all-employee testing and contact tracing or provided sequestration housing for sick workers, two strategies that the health department deemed necessary before the plant should reopen. Yet the Republican-controlled board of Weld County Commissioners is not only allowing JBS to remain open but encouraging all businesses in Greeley to reopen this week.

Into the middle of this, the White House says that Trump is ordering all meat-packing plants to stay open. Except, that’s not quite what the executive order says. The order isn’t addressed to the meat-packers, or anybody other than the Secretary of Agriculture. The order delegates to the Ag-Sec the president’s power to invoke the Defense Production Act “to ensure the continued supply of meat and poultry, consistent with the guidance for the operations of meat and poultry processing facilities jointly issued by the CDC and OSHA.” Whatever that means.

The meat-packing plants have not all reopened yet, though Secretary Perdue (no relation to Perdue Chicken) expects them to in “days, not weeks“. Whether he has actually invoked the DPA is unclear. Exactly what has been done to make the workers safer is iffy. Whether the workers will show up when the plants reopen is also unclear.

“I don’t see it having much effect,” said Stephen Meyer, an economist at Kerns & Associates working with the pork industry. “You can tell anybody to open up a plant, but if the workers don’t show up, it doesn’t work.”

“It’s nice of the President to think we’re important and everything, but I don’t think it’s going to cause very many plants to open,” he added.

So, Trump got his on-camera moment looking all decisive and presidential, but it’s not clear what he actually accomplished for good or ill.

BTW: As I revealed last week, I owned Tyson stock for a few weeks, but sold it when I noticed the infection stories.

and Joe Biden

This week Biden released a statement and took questions about the Tara Reade accusation that he sexually assaulted her when she was a staffer in his Senate office in 1993. He made a full denial: “This never happened.”

Democrats and other liberals have been having a fairly calm and sensitive discussion of the issue, especially compared to the foaming at the mouth we saw from conservatives during the Kavanaugh hearings. There’s a general consensus that Reade’s story needs to be heard and examined, but also that we shouldn’t automatically assume it’s true.

Reade was one of several women who came forward last year to talk about how Biden touched them in ways they found inappropriate, or stood too close to them, or otherwise made them feel uncomfortable. She told The Union, a California newspaper:

“He used to put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck,” Reade said. “I would just kind of freeze and wait for him to stop doing that.”

None of the accusations against Biden at that time were overtly sexual; Biden sounded like a lot of guys of his generation who hadn’t gotten the memo about how to treat women in the workplace in this era. If you wanted to be generous to him, you could assume no bad intent on his part.

But in March, after Biden had all but clinched the Democratic nomination for president, Reade began to tell a more damaging story: Biden pushed her against a wall, put his hand up her skirt and pushed a finger into her vagina.

Like most stories of this type, there are no uninvolved witnesses to the act itself. Reade’s brother and a neighbor say she told them about the assault soon afterward. Reade claims she complained to her supervisors at the time, but they say she didn’t.

Reade now says she made claims of sexual harassment, but not assault, to her supervisors in Biden’s office; they vehemently deny hearing any such complaint. She says she was told to find a new job by a supervisor, but she has also changed her recollection of which supervisor it was when speaking to reporters in recent weeks (all of the people she named deny it). The AP contacted 21 former Biden staffers, none of whom remember any Reade complaint against their boss. Reade also claims she complained to the Senate personnel office; there is no record of it.

Biden has asked the National Archives to look for Reade’s complaint.

My point of view on this is skewed by a prior prediction. (I’m not sure whether I made it on this blog or just in social media.) Early in the primary campaign I argued that the Democrats should nominate a woman (I ultimately endorsed Elizabeth Warren), and one of my reasons was that after the Kavanaugh battle, Republicans would find an accuser for any man the Democrats nominated. (BTW: I still believe that is true, and that abandoning Biden won’t fix it. If he’s replaced by Cuomo or any of the other men whose names have been floated, an accusation against the new candidate will surface as well.)

I’m not saying Reade was put up to this by the Republicans. But if Reade didn’t exist, she would have to be invented. I have no special reason not to believe her account, but I was anticipating somebody’s accusation and prepared not to believe it.

Several Obama staffers have made the same point: We investigated Biden pretty thoroughly back in 2008, and we didn’t find any trace of this.

Biden’s request to the National Archives has gotten subsumed by the idea that he should open the collection of his Senate papers that he gave to the University of Delaware, on the condition that they not be available to scholars until after he had left public life. Biden has refused this, claiming that (1) records about Reade or her complaint wouldn’t be in there anyway; and (2) the collection contains a lot internal office memos and things that would be embarrassing to numerous people, not just him.

The what-should-Biden-reveal issue is a separate thing from the Reade accusation itself. Heather Cox Richardson wrote about it at length on Saturday, and I think she nailed it: This is Hillary’s emails all over again.

Trump and his GOP enablers are controlling today’s political narrative, just as they did before the 2016 election.

… The files will contain the sausage making of various political issues that can be cherrypicked to destroy careers (not just Biden’s). Of course Trump people want to expose everything Biden did as a senator. Media outlets are salivating to get into the papers for their own reasons: can you imagine the stories detailing rivalries from the thirty years Biden was in the Senate? It would rival the hay made off the stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee in 2016 which, after all, revealed nothing illegal, but embarrassed Hillary Clinton and the DNC.

The pressure on Biden to release his papers strikes me as the bad faith use of an important political conversation to score political points. It is vital to uncover the truth of what happened between Biden and Reade, but that’s not what’s going on here. Observers are demanding the release of material that has been donated in good faith for future researchers, to uncover information that we know full well would not be stored there. But it would certainly weaken Biden as a candidate.

At the same time, Trump simply refuses to show anyone anything. Once again, the media is dancing to his tune, making Biden’s reluctance to open his Senate records look nefarious while giving Trump a pass

Whatever Biden reveals, it will not be enough. And meanwhile, Trump will have revealed nothing. Still no tax returns. Nothing about his Russian investors. All conversations related to his obstruction of justice or his Ukraine extortion remain privileged.

and Trump’s brownshirts

I know they’re not calling themselves brownshirts — and Trump is calling them “very good people“, similar to his characterization of the neo-Nazis at Charlottesville as “very fine people” — but when you “protest” with an AR-15, you’re not protesting, you’re trying to intimidate and terrorize.

A person carrying a gun to go hunting or target shooting is transporting the weapon to use for its lawful and intended purpose. Whether armed protesters admit it or not, gun-carrying to a political rally serves a different, disturbing and unnecessary purpose: intimidation. It is inherent in the act, putting it squarely at odds with vigorous, open and lawful political dissent.

This woman at an Illinois rally gives the game away with her “Arbeit Macht Frei” message to Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker. The slogan “Work Makes Free” comes from the Nazi concentration camps. Pritzker is Jewish.

It’s important not to tar everyone with the same brush. I’m sure a lot of people who protest the lockdowns just want to go to the beach. But white supremacist or neo-fascist groups like the Proud Boys are at the core of these protests, and are using them to recruit.

Rule of thumb: If you’re at a protest and the people around you have AR-15s or are quoting Nazis, go home.

So many people have made this point already that I won’t belabor it, but only white men could do this. Black or brown people who tried to enter a state capitol with military-style weapons would be ordered to the ground, and if they didn’t comply fast enough they’d be killed. It’s that simple.

When the Black Panthers took guns to the California state capitol in 1967, they were disarmed, despite the fact that they were breaking no laws. California subsequently passed a gun control law, with the support of the NRA. The Second Amendment isn’t an issue when black people are being disarmed.

and you also might be interested in …

It looks like North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un is fine. There’s no official explanation of why he didn’t appear in public for about three weeks, but maybe it had something to do with coronavirus.

George W. Bush released a three-minute video to encourage the nation in this time of crisis. In it, he strikingly demonstrates the human qualities that Trump lacks.

Let us remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat. In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants. We are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God. We rise or fall together, and we are determined to rise.

Bush was never known as Mr. Empathy, but nothing about being a Republican forces a person to be callous and self-centered. Trump is doing that on his own.

Naturally, Trump viewed this example of leadership as an attack, and struck back.

@PeteHegseth “Oh bye the way, I appreciate the message from former President Bush, but where was he during Impeachment calling for putting partisanship aside.” @foxandfriends He was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history!

Actually, Trump should be thanking Bush for staying silent during impeachment. The ex-president could have been pointing out the obvious fact that Trump was guilty. If partisanship had been put aside, and if Congress had responded only to the facts, Trump would have been removed from office.

Last Monday I wrote about “Why the Country isn’t Rallying Around Trump’s Flag“. Thursday, Vox’ Roge Karma took on the exact same topic, but added an international angle: “Many world leaders have seen double-digit polling surges amid coronavirus. Trump isn’t one of them.

Like me, Karma observes that Americans are rallying around their governors, many of whom have seen large increases in their approval ratings. But his data about other world leaders is also illuminating.

But ultimately he came to the same conclusion I did: Unity is just not what Trump does.

There’s been a lot of focus on how the Trump administration was technically and strategically unprepared for this crisis — and that’s true. But there’s also a way in which Trump himself was not temperamentally or ideologically prepared for it either. Trump built his political career atop fracture, conflict, and polarization. But he’s just collided with a crisis that demands solidarity, unity, and mutuality.

James Hamblin wonders:

I’m curious how psychiatrists diagnose people with depression now. Usually if people come in saying they’ve stopped leaving home, feel like every day is the same, are constantly overwhelmed by the plight of humanity, stopped getting dressed, stopped showering … typically a yes.

Now that’s all normal behavior.

I try to minimize the these-people-are-assholes anecdotes, because I could fill the whole Sift with them every week. I’m not sure who would benefit from reading them.

But the Mike-Pence-face-mask thing stands out, though, because it’s got all the elements: (1) the original assholery: Pence toured Mayo Clinic and ignored their regulations about wearing a face mask. He even let himself be photographed barefaced. (2) the lie: After a bunch of bogus excuses didn’t impress anybody, his people lied: They said Pence didn’t know about the rule. Also, Pence is apparently too dense to look around, see that everyone else is wearing a mask, and ask a question. (3) claiming victimhood: When a reporter caught them in the lie — pointing out that Pence’s staff had told reporters planning to go on the trip that they’d need to bring masks — Pence’s people called a foul on the reporter: That pre-trip notification was off the record, so the reporter owed Pence an apology.

and let’s close with nine good minutes

Just because school is out and they’re scattered to the winds, that doesn’t mean that over 100 Julliard musicians and dancers couldn’t work together on this amazing performance of Bolero. Be sure to check out the making-of article.

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  • Donna Victor  On May 4, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    Biden’s release of his papers should occur when Trump releases his 2015 & 2014 taxes.

    • George Washington, Jr.  On May 5, 2020 at 6:38 pm

      Biden has at least several decades of records; Trump should release the same.

  • Derek  On May 4, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    How these politicians look at data and come to the opposite conclusion is ruining the country. The governor of Mississippi saying we’re different from NY, no spike. Failing to mention that cases are edging up slightly. When they re-open they will get their spike. They haven’t tested. So let’s assume that they are operating like other states and test the very sick with symptoms like covid. The asymptomatic about 40% of the population. 80% of those who get sick don’t seek medical help. 20% of the population is going to get really sick with about 5% (number in the US right now based on incomplete testing) are going to die. 20% of the population has not gotten sick enough to get tested yet so they are in for a lot of cases. It is doubtful that their medical system can withstand that kind of patient load. By doing that kind of math you can get a good idea if it has moved through your state. Also based on the numbers even NYC isn’t close to that yet.

  • Nancy Rubinstein  On May 4, 2020 at 5:15 pm

    The Bolero piece was amazing!

  • The Serapion Brotherhood  On May 4, 2020 at 11:31 pm

    Isn’t it the case that if a record of Reade’s complaint were made, it wouldn’t be in the national archives but some other office. In that case Biden’s harping over and over again about the National Archives would be entirely disingenuous. But seems like the kind of thing mainstream reporters aren’t picking up on.

    • weeklysift  On May 10, 2020 at 8:43 am

      I’m not sure why you think that. I have no independent knowledge of how the process works, but the reporting I’ve seen agrees that it should be in the archives.

  • The Serapion Brotherhood  On May 4, 2020 at 11:37 pm

    How can you write about Bush fils without the first line being, “Bush, who is personally responsible for killing between half a million and a million people in Iraq…”

  • Kosti Jokinen  On May 5, 2020 at 4:34 am

    You say Tara Reade’s story has broke out conveniently timed just as the Democrats’s frontrunner seems to have clinched the nomination, but the other side of the coin is that it *didn’t* until it looked like it could no longer threaten the Primary results. She first reached to National Women’s Law Center in January, but The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund turned her down. After struggling to get anyone to cover her story, in late March she finally got Katie Halper to do an interview with her and The Intercept to report Time’s Up turning her down earlier. Also back then while the US mainstream media continued their silence on the issue, The Young Turks already correctly predicted that if Sanders dropped out it would get covered immediately after.

    To me the most disappointing aspect of the story is how in all the previous cases conservatives had claimed that if the accused was a Democrat, liberals wouldn’t care. And now that that has been put to test, they’ve been proven exactly right.

    • Guest  On May 5, 2020 at 11:26 am

      Thanks, Kosti, for confirming that Doug’s frame on this story is a bit off. Apparently Reade also went to the Warren and Harris campaigns early on, but was brushed off (perhaps because Biden was looking weak at the time anyway, rather than for more cynical reasons). Another point that may be relevant, the managing director of Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund’s PR firm, SKDK, Anita Dunn, is a top advisor to the Biden campaign. Also, Reade told multiple people around the time of the alleged incident and in the following years who corroborate hearing the story. There’s also the old tape that surfaced of Reade’s mother calling into Larry King for help on what to do when a powerful DC insider does something like this. Not sure why these details didn’t make the Sift. This is at least as much as we had against Kavanaugh, so the difference in reaction is striking, and as noted, depressing.

      To your last point, Kosti, Al Franken makes an interesting counterpoint. Folks like Gilibrand went into a righteous rage to oust him for much less but now they all are either silent or actively supporting the accused aggressor. Interested to hear anyone’s take as to why. My only guess is that Franken had an independent streak and didn’t mind questioning power every now and then, ie, he never truly bent the knee to party elites. That, and sucking up to Biden now can pay power/access dividends if he does secure the White House.

      However much this may hurt Biden’s campaign is exactly why I thought Sander’s lack of attack on this point hurt not only his own chances but did a disservice to the Democratic party. Rather than dealing with this in the context of a primary we are moving it into a higher stakes scenario. Of course, maybe the voting public doesn’t care and Biden wins regardless. It’s very possible. I don’t think there’s a feminist in this country who would be surprised that a woman’s credible sexual assault allegation would be swept under the rug in favor of a powerful man, even post Me Too. Hopefully victims don’t look at this as another reason to stay silent.

    • weeklysift  On May 10, 2020 at 8:46 am

      So you’re saying that the pro-Bernie Intercept held back Reade’s story until it could no longer help Bernie.

      • Kosti Jokinen  On May 11, 2020 at 7:53 am

        I mentioned The Intercept as one of the first pieces about her around the time the story finally got any publicity. It ran on 24th of March, around the same time Reade told the full story in the interview with Katie Halper, right before it I think, and weeks before NYT brought the it to the mainstream with their version (which included gems such as “We found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Biden, beyond hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable”).

        You can find stories dated in March in at least Newsweek, Fox, HuffPo, Current Affairs, Reason, Salon, National Review. The Guardian was then asking why, despite the story making circles among conservatives and progressives, the US mainstream media remained conspicuously silent. Yet somehow it took until the 12th of April for NYT to post anything at all, and only then did CNN, NBC and CBS follow suit.

      • George Washington, Jr.  On May 11, 2020 at 8:59 am

        Going by some of the people on my Facebook feed, Sanders was still thought to have a chance to win the nomination until the moment he suspended his campaign. If Reade was of that mindset, she may not have seen any point to expose herself to the inevitable reaction to her accusations if she thought Biden was going to drop out anyway.

    • jh  On May 14, 2020 at 4:14 pm

      Nah.. I strongly suspect that every single male candidate had a “tara reade” accuser waiting in the wings primed to tell a big story. I’m still willing to investigate because we need to hold the people in charge to a high standard.

      Here’s my problem… why wasn’t this big news when Obama selected Biden as his VP? Why the silence? Surely she should have opened her mouth and Fox News would have run hard with it along with their daily “birther” scam. She had 8 years to play the “Juanita Broadrick” game. (Again, I’m sincerely suspicious of Juanita Broadrick’s claims against Bill Clinton. When I look at Clinton, I’m looking at his pattern of behavior as well as Broadrick’s. Clinton appears to be a hounddog a la JFK. Meanwhile, Broadrick is the one who has something to gain by making her allegation.. or rather her republican associates have something to gain. I’d love to test Broadrick with a brain scan as well as her republican handlers.)

      For Tara Reade – Why the change in story and the inconsistency with her corroborators?

      Why the sudden escalation AFTER it was likely that Biden would secure the nomination? (Look, I was expecting Bernie to get this sexual smear job or a financial smear job if he secured the lead too.)

      again, i’m not saying we should dismiss Reade’s story. It’s just that I’ve seen this story before.. this is a typical conservative attack that happens right about this time. It’s typical republican swiftboating and it always happens this way. It’s gotten to the point that when a conservative champions a cause, I assume malice and deception.

      Let’s investigate. But there are conditions because I’ve seen this game played out before. Republicans play rules for thee but not for me all the time. Before even one bit of Reade’s claims are investigated, I want all of Trump’s sexual assault allegations investigated. I want Republicans to show me what the standards and criteria and questions and scope of questions should be. Once they’ve completed their investigation into the multiple sexual assault allegations against Trump, we can move onto Reade’s claims and apply the SAME standards that the republicans used. I’m using FIFO (first in first out) system because those twenty claims were made and publicized earlier than Reade’s. (again, reade had 8 year + the run up general election for Obama to make her accusations. Why the radio silence? Why didn’t Bill O’Reilly or the conservative pundits blow this story up? Why were the conservatives skeptical of Reade’s claims back then? Because let’s face it, i remember a lot of birther nonsense and Kenyan muslim nonsense. I don’t remember Biden beyond his gaffe about how well-spoken Obama was. And of course, if Reade had genuinely wanted to publish her story, she could have just gone on Alex Jones and told her story.)

      In addition, because of Benghazi EMAILS, I want an independent audit of the files and evidence. The scope must be highly specific. The republicans are not allowed to access the information or question the investigators or even appoint them. If any leak occurs, republicans are removed from the ballots, removed from holding political office for 10 years, and possible federal prison time with no time off for good behavior for 10 years minimum. (Let’s face it, republicans misuse tools meant to hold political entities accountable. They have a proven history of this misuse. If they don’t like the restrictions, they should show a pattern of behavior that shows they respect the rule of law and understand how to be responsible with political power. See.. just like Clinton’s hounddog pattern, Republicans too, show a pattern of political abuse. In fact, they only change once they aren’t running for office because conservatives are political opportunists with no morals or ideology beyond white supremacist/neonazi/confederate bs.)

      (I hope everyone realizes that Hitler was inspired by the Confederates who installed Jim Crow. If we had truly destroyed the confederacy rather than pretending that there were good people on both sides, 6 million Jews and 6 million socialists, communists, romani, and others would not have died. Modern Republicans are just the latest version of the confederacy. There’s a reason that confederate flags and nazi flags fly together. They’re both children of white supremacy and that’s why they vote republican.)

  • Kenneth  On May 5, 2020 at 10:24 am

    Even Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison have gotten enormous bumps!

  • George Washington, Jr.  On May 5, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    Now that Biden has unequivocally stated that he didn’t assault Reade, he’s essentially called her a liar. This gives her a cause of action to file a defamation of character suit against him, same as Summer Zervos filed against Trump, for the same reason. It will be very interesting to see if she takes advantage of this opportunity, as it would allow her to demand the release of records, get Biden and his staff to make statements under oath, and give a sworn statement herself. I’m sure the American Center for Law and Justice or the Thomas More Law Center would be happy to represent her.

    Reade’s timing suggests that she was hoping Sanders would be the nominee, and when he dropped out, she changed her story to smear Biden in the hope that he would withdraw, presumably elevating Sanders. A lawsuit would at least allow her to drag this out and keep it in the news. I’ll go out on a limb and predict that by next month, this will be ancient history. Reade claims she has been receiving death threats, so she filed a complaint with the Baltimore Police Department on the original allegation, but interestingly, left out Biden’s name (possibly because filing a false police report is itself a crime). She also edited her article in Medium to better fit her current allegations.

    I get that Sanders supporters will want this to be given as much attention as possible. But I’ve noticed that Trump supporters tend to bring up Christine Blasey Ford to paint Democrats as hypocrites, and not the 25 or so women who have accused Trump of sexual assault, including the one who claims he raped her at Jeffrey Epstein’s house when she was 13 years old. This may be why Trump has been uncharacteristically silent since Reade came forward. Apparently, the hypocrisy can only go so far.

    • Guest  On May 6, 2020 at 10:48 am

      Reade’s timing as presented in this article may suggest that, George, but as Kosti notes above, she actually went out on a limb earlier than indicated here. And she was Warren supporter, and I think Harris too. After everyone else dropped out, yes, she decided to support Sanders rather than the man who (allegedly) sexually assaulted her…can you blame her?

      Can’t speak for all Sanders supporters, but I certainly wanted this to get as much attention as possible *in the thick of primary season* on strategy grounds precisely because I didn’t want it taking up oxygen in a head-to-head with Trump scenario, and on principle because this is at least as much as we had against Kavanaugh. Due to Bernie’s refusal to press his fellow Democratic rivals on such points, we didn’t get a chance to collectively process this until now. It’s not all on Bernie, of course, as companies like MSNBC are complicit here too. In what must seem like a coincidence to some, as long as Sanders was properly in the race, legacy media outlets were happy to ignore the issue and cover for Biden. That helped Biden in the short term, but only by kicking this sordid can down the road. So here we are.

      Odd that you seem to resort to reverse “whataboutism” at the end of your comment, unless I misunderstand your point, please correct me. Again, what we have on Biden is at least as much as we had on Kavanaugh. If you defend one and attack the other as many Democrats have, the charge of hypocrisy is fair. This is because we should evaluate the charge on its own terms, regardless of whether the charge is made by a hypocrite. From a consistent moral standard perspective, either you think someone with credible sexual assault allegations is unfit for high office, in which case you condemn Trump, Kavanaugh, and Biden on the same grounds, or you only apply the standard when it suits your political purposes. Are there cases where acting as a hypocrite for your political ends might be justified? That’s another discussion

      • George Washington, Jr.  On May 6, 2020 at 12:06 pm

        The charge of hypocrisy is superficial. I opposed Kavanaugh for other reasons besides his alleged assault on Christine Ford. And Trump is not qualified for the presidency on countless other grounds besides the allegations that he sexually assaulted two dozen women. Pence as far as we know has never even been alone with a woman other than his wife; he’s not qualified to be president either.

        If we’re going to adopt a zero tolerance policy in this area, we need to ask if Sanders is also unqualified, as his campaign has a documented history of discrimination and harassment. That’s not just alleged as the accusations against Biden, Kavanaugh, and Trump are. So what’s worse – unproven accusations of sexual assault, or fostering a hostile work environment? If a Trump or Sanders supporter is going to call me a hypocrite, they at least need to acknowledge their own hypocrisy in this area.

        By the way, I agree with Doug. Whoever the nominee turned out to be would have been the subject of these same kinds of accusations. It’s a weak point with Democrats. Republicans couldn’t care less about sexual assault, but they know we do and will turn on our own regardless of the accuser’s credibility.

        Don’t you think Reade should file a lawsuit? What possible reason could she have for not doing so?

      • Guest  On May 6, 2020 at 2:25 pm

        My friend, I was not calling you out as a hypocrite. That you have other reasons to oppose Kavanaugh is perfectly reasonable, and also irrelevant to the broader hypocrisy charge at hand, originally alluded to by Kosti above. Democratic leadership at large (again, not you personally) made the credible sexual assault allegations a centerpiece in the fight against Kavanaugh (and Franken for that matter), but have turned a 180 when it comes to Biden. Textbook hypocrisy, not superficial in the slightest.

        Having a zero tolerance policy for credible sexual assault allegations when it comes to the highest offices in our country, yes, I think that’s defensible, we can at least have a discussion about that. What you’ve done in your second paragraph is ridiculous (though, perhaps you were being absurd to made a point), and the kind of thing that hurts our cause. But I’ll address it. If you look at the discrimination/harassment charges against Bernie’s 2016 campaign you’ll find they are nothing like those faced by Kavanugh or Biden. In fact, Guilianna Di Lauro Velez went to great lengths to say that the charges were made to reveal the pervasive nature of sexism in our country, and not to implicate Bernie personally at all. Sanders never threw a woman on a bed and tried to force himself on her. Sanders never pushed an employee against a wall and penetrated her with his fingers. That you would equivocate these charges is gross, and, in the context of “zero tolerance” a big turnoff for many conservative and independents (heck, even many Democrats).

        The argument that any male Democrat would have faced credible sexual assault allegations is very cynical. However, to the extent that is has any merit, tragically, Bernie would be an obvious exception. Do you think if Bernie had any credible sexual assault allegations we wouldn’t have heard it from Clinton in 2016 or any number of well-backed candidates in 2020? The man is righteous to a fault.

        As far as Reade pursuing a lawsuit, I believe it’s entirely the victim’s choice. If she were a close friend, I would support her either way. As far as reasons why she wouldn’t file, I think they’re obvious. You yourself mentioned that she is receiving death threats. That would be enough on its own. How about if you add the fact that supposed allies (Time’s Up, Warren, Harris, Gilibrand, Alyssa Milano et al) turned their backs on her? How about the shame and humiliation that too often builds up around the victim when lawsuits go forward? Hopefully that’s all enough to consider.

      • George Washington, Jr.  On May 6, 2020 at 5:14 pm

        It’s not hypocrisy, it’s a developing feeling that a zero tolerance position only benefits Republicans. In retrospect, Franken’s ouster for a silly prank was excessive. Kavanaugh’s hearing gave the Democrats a venue for giving Ford an opportunity to tell her story. If Ford hadn’t spoken up until now, after Kavanaugh has been on the court for a while, no one would be saying he should be impeached. Without the filibuster, Ford was used as a tool to attempt to discredit Kavanaugh. I don’t have a problem with that; the guy is awful and anything that could have kept him from being confirmed should have been explored. We’re way past the point of playing fair; that went out the window when McConnell refused to allow Merrick Garland to have a hearing. The system is broken and we have to use whatever tools are at our disposal.

        The allegations against Biden are different because they’re not coming from Republicans (for obvious reasons). I brought up Sanders because if a zero tolerance policy means Biden should withdraw, then Sanders should withdraw as well. It’s a cop-out to say that the blatant sexism in his campaign organization “was just part of the general culture.” That’s no excuse. He’s supposed to be better than that. That was the same excuse given for Trump’s “pussy grabbing” tape, that it was “locker room talk” and “all men talk like that among themselves.”

        And my point that any candidate, including Sanders, would be a target of ratfucking, means that some allegation would be made against him. If not sexual impropriety, then something about him praising Josef Stalin or even more explicit praise of Castro. Or some staffer saying she was raped and complained to him, and he did nothing. Trump is desperate and the GOP will be going all out to smear his opponent, truthfully or not.

        It’s also a cop-out to say Reade is afraid to file a lawsuit. There are plenty of organizations that would be happy to represent her. And I’m very skeptical of the death threats. Those are more likely to come from Trump or Sanders supporters, but Biden supporters? Come on. Do you seriously think any Biden supporter is passionate enough to threaten Reade with death? Biden doesn’t generate that level of enthusiasm.

    • weeklysift  On May 10, 2020 at 8:48 am

      If you say it’s raining and I say it’s not, I don’t think that gives you grounds for a lawsuit, even if my statement can’t be true unless you’re lying. Trump very publicly attacked his accuser. Biden has not.

      • George Washington, Jr.  On May 10, 2020 at 11:09 am

        Biden denied Reade’s allegations on national television. Of course, Biden didn’t come out and explicitly call Reade a liar, but there’s no way to characterize his denial as anything but an implication that Read is either lying, mistaken, or insane.

        However, Christine Ford didn’t file a defamation suit against Kavanaugh either – and the result was that her allegations faded into irrelevancy. I predict the same thing will happen here. Reade will be ancient history by next month if not sooner.

  • sgtaylor5  On May 6, 2020 at 12:42 am


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