Thursday ReadsPosted: March 5, 2020
Corononavirus is still the top news story. Cases are popping up all over and the fake “president” is busy lying about the risks. But before I get to that, here’s the latest in the Democratic primary. Any dreams you had of a woman president in 2020 are now dead.
The New York Times: Elizabeth Warren, Once a Front-Runner, Will Drop Out of Presidential Race.
BOSTON — Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts plans to drop out of the presidential race on Thursday and will inform her staff of her plans later this morning, according to a person close to her, ending a run defined by an avalanche of policy plans that aimed to pull the Democratic Party to the left and appealed to enough voters to make her briefly a front-runner last fall, but that proved unable to translate excitement from elite progressives into backing from the party’s more working-class and diverse base.
Though her support had eroded by Super Tuesday, in her final weeks as a candidate she effectively drove the centrist billionaire, former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, out of the race with debate performances that flashed her evident skills and political potential.
She entered the race railing against the corrosive power of big money, and one long-term consequence of her campaign is that Ms. Warren demonstrated that someone other than Senator Bernie Sanders, and his intensely loyal small-dollar donors, could fund a credible presidential campaign without holding fund-raisers.
Her potential endorsement is highly sought after in the race and both Mr. Sanders and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. have spoken with Ms. Warren since Super Tuesday, when the end of her campaign appeared imminent….
The news clarifies that a Democratic field that began with a record number of female candidates has now become a contest between Mr. Biden, 77, and Mr. Sanders, 78.
I’d be very surprised if Warren endorsed Biden, but IMHO she would be making a big mistake to endorse Sanders. I don’t think that many of her supporters would go over to him anyway, but that’s just based on my anecdotal observations.
Unfortunately, we really missed our chance in 2016. None of the women running in 2020 had the gravitas, the experience in domestic and foreign policy, or the strong ties to the African American community that Hillary Clinton had. Thanks to Putin, Comey, and the media’s “her emails” coverage, we lost a golden opportunity.
Also from The New York Times, Mara Gay explains Why Southern Democrats Saved Biden.
Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina explained this in visceral terms when he announced his support for Joe Biden late last month, an endorsement that began with Mr. Clyburn, 79, talking about the first time he was arrested protesting for civil rights decades ago. “When I sat in jail that day, I wondered whether we were doing the right thing, but I was never fearful for the future,” he said. “As I stand before you today I am fearful of the future of this country. I’m fearful for my daughters and their futures, and their children, and their children’s futures.”
Mr. Clyburn said he was sure Mr. Biden was the right choice. “I know Joe. We know Joe. But most importantly, Joe knows us,” he said. Three days later, Mr. Biden won a convincing victory in the South Carolina primary, launching him into his Super Tuesday triumph and the front-runner status he enjoys today.
My friends in New York, many of them Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders supporters who see Mr. Biden as deeply uninspiring, were mystified. But after traveling through the South this past week though, I began to understand. Through Southern eyes, this election is not about policy or personality. It’s about something much darker.
Not long ago, these Americans lived under violent, anti-democraticI governments. Now, many here say they see in President Trump and his supporters the same hostility and zeal for authoritarianism that marked life under Jim Crow.
For those who lived through the trauma of racial terrorism and segregation, or grew up in its long shadow, this history haunts the campaign trail. And Mr. Trump has summoned old ghosts.
And this is why Bernie Sanders will lose to Joe Biden.
The Washington Post: Bernie Sanders’s political movement faces a reckoning after Super Tuesday setbacks.
By Wednesday, Sanders sought to regain his footing from primary election defeats in several key states as his campaign advisers looked to address his glaring inability to win African Americans and traditional Democrats….
Sanders’s reset attempt, coming less than a week before another critical set of primaries, reflected a divide among some of his supporters about how to proceed.
In some parts of the Sanders orbit, there have been private discussions about how to reassure Democrats that Sanders — a democratic socialist who frequently lambastes the party establishment — is an ally of the party.
The campaign released an ad featuring an audio clip of former president Barack Obama praising Sanders, a clear attempt to undercut the benefit that has accrued to Biden, particularly among black voters, as the loyal lieutenant to the country’s first African American president.
The flurry of activity amounted to the clearest acknowledgment yet that the coalition Sanders has built — which is composed largely of young people, liberals, working-class voters and Latino voters — has failed to expand since Sanders’s upstart 2016 bid, all as the rest of the party has coalesced behind Biden.
Bernie still thinks African Americans are “low information” voters who will fall for his sudden embrace of Barack Obama. It’s not going to work.
In Coronavirus news, Trump is lying about the incipient pandemic and his administration caused the problems we’re having now. Among the lies:
Greg Sargent at The Washington Post: Trump’s latest coronavirus lies have a galling subtext.
Each of those things is profoundly galling on its own. But if you put them together, they add up to something substantially worse than the sum of their parts.
To wit: It is now falling to Democratic elected officials to correct Trump’s lies to the American people about something that poses a dire threat to them. At times Democrats are literally going around Trump to get the real truth out to the public.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
HOUSTON — Dr. Peter Hotez says he made the pitch to anyone who would listen. After years of research, his team of scientists in Texas had helped develop a vaccine to protect against a deadly strain of coronavirus. Now they needed money to begin testing it in humans.
But this was 2016. More than a decade had passed since the viral disease known as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, had spread through China, killing more than 770 people. That disease, an earlier coronavirus similar to the one now sweeping the globe, was a distant memory by the time Hotez and his team sought funding to test whether their vaccine would work in humans.
“We tried like heck to see if we could get investors or grants to move this into the clinic,” said Hotez, co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “But we just could not generate much interest.” [….]
Instead, the SARS vaccine that Hotez’s team created in collaboration with scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston is sitting in a freezer, no closer to commercial production than it was four years ago.
“We could have had this ready to go and been testing the vaccine’s efficacy at the start of this new outbreak in China,” said Hotez, who believes the vaccine could provide cross-protection against the new coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease known as COVID-19. “There is a problem with the ecosystem in vaccine development, and we’ve got to fix this.”
More coronavirus stories:
The Washington Post: U.S. health system is showing why it’s not ready for a coronavirus pandemic.
The New York Times: After Family Gets Coronavirus, New York Suburb Is Gripped by Anxiety.
Two more important articles I want to call attention to about Trump’s takeover of the U.S. Intelligence community and John Roberts’ hypocritical attack on Chuck Schumer.
Ryan Goodman at Just Security: The Gravity of Michael Ellis’ Promotion to Senior Director for Intelligence at the White House
Michael Ellis, a White House lawyer accused of serious ethical misconduct in the Ukraine scandal, has been picked by President Donald Trump to be senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council (NSC). He reportedly started the job this week, replacing a career official who served in that role. What makes the elevation of Ellis to this new post especially surprising is that the most specific charges against Ellis in the Ukraine matter involve his allegedly abusing the government’s national security classification system in a manner that not even Republicans in Congress were willing to defend.
The role of senior director for intelligence can be a pivotal one within the Intelligence Community. Brett Holmgren, who held the position under President Barack Obama, told Just Security, “The position serves as the focal point for coordination between the White House and the [Director of National Intelligence (DNI)] on a range of issues — from setting the president’s intelligence priorities and providing guidance to the DNI on policy matters, to determining who in the U.S. government is granted access to covert action programs and other sensitive operations.” Ellis will now be working hand-in-hand with acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, as well as Kash Patel, who recently moved from the NSC to the DNI’s office.
Both Patel and Ellis previously worked for Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as staffers on the House Intelligence Committee. In March 2017, Ellis became caught up in the White House scandal of sharing intelligence information with Nunes in an apparent effort to discredit the Russia investigation. At the time, Ellis was deputy legal adviser to the NSC and an associate involved in the scandal was reportedly Ezra Cohen-Watkin, the Senior Director for Intelligence at the time. “Though neither has been accused of breaking any laws, they do appear to have sought to use intelligence to advance the political goals of the Trump administration,” the New York Times reported (see also Wall Street Journal and Washington Post). Cohen-Watkin’s attorney, Mark Zaid denied his client’s role (Zaid later became the Ukraine whistleblower’s attorney).
Dahlia Lithwick at Slate: Roberts Denounces Schumer for Talking About Kavanaugh the Way Kavanaugh Talked About the Senate.
On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had a message for Donald Trump’s two nominees to the Supreme Court as the court heard oral arguments in a landmark abortion case that threatens one of the underpinnings of Roe v. Wade. “I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh. You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price!” Schumer warned of the pair’s jurisprudence since arriving on the bench. “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”
By Wednesday afternoon, Chief Justice John Roberts had the Supreme Court’s press office issue a stunningly rare and stinging rebuke under his signature:
Justices know that criticism comes with the territory, but threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous. All Members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.
If Schumer’s repudiated words sounded at all familiar to you, or to the chief justice, it might be because at his confirmation hearing, then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh turned to the Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee and pledged as follows:
Since my nomination in July, there’s been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything, to block my confirmation. You sowed the wind and the country will reap the whirlwind.
The upshot here is that Schumer didn’t necessarily start this fight and maybe the guy whose honor Roberts just jumped in to defend bears some responsibility for the threatening rhetoric. Since striding onto the national stage, Roberts has claimed the mantle of being the balls-and-strikes guy at the high court. This is one of those instances, though, in which Umpire Roberts clearly can only see one side of the plate.
Have a great day everyone! Please share your thoughts and the stories that have caught your interest today.