Thursday Reads

Painting by Charles Burton Barber

Good Morning!!

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.”

By Albrogio Antonio Alciati

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.

John White Alexander (American, 1856-1915): Portrait of Frederick Beasley Alexander, 1888.

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.

President Trump is now claiming he has a “hunch” that the World Health Organization is wrong about the death rate from coronavirus — it’s far lower, Trump claims — while also suggesting that going to work with the virus isn’t dangerous.

Meanwhile, Trump is attacking Democratic criticism of his administration’s response to the virus as nothing more than an effort to hurt him politically — a move that’s designed to place his government’s handling of a public health emergency beyond scrutiny entirely.

Harold Knight (1874-1961), Mrs Dorothy May Hoover with her Chow Chow Choonam Brilliantine, 1927

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.

NBC News: Scientists were close to a coronavirus vaccine years ago. Then the money dried up.

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.

By Robert Sauber, 1868-1936

“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: Live updates: Cruise ship held off California coast; coronavirus turmoil widens as U.S. death toll mounts.

The Washington Post: U.S. health system is showing why it’s not ready for a coronavirus pandemic.

NBC News: Seattle feels like ‘ghost town,’ business owners say as they face life in coronavirus hot spot.

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.

Woman on a Striped Sofa with a Dog (Oil on Canvas), by Mary Cassatt

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.

62 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. dakinikat says:

    I put this up on JJ’s thread but I think it’s important to read.

    Connie writes this

    “You can tell me and you can tell me and you can tell me — but let me tell you: There’s not a lie I haven’t heard about what a woman can and cannot do. At my age, every act of sexism and misogyny is an encore production.”

    • dakinikat says:

      No, another presidential election has gone by and we have no change at a woman president …

      • bostonboomer says:

        As I wrote in my post, none of these women stack up to Hillary in terms of experience and political savvy. We missed our chance in 2016 and that seems to be getting lost in the shuffle this year. Hillary survived far worse misogyny and erasure than took place this year and she won the popular vote by 3 million.

        • dakinikat says:

          Yup. Which is why I can’t figure out why all these naysayers think because she’s not president the country’s not ready for a woman. or “that” woman …. or any of these women …

          • bostonboomer says:

            None of them had her history with the African American community. Kamala Harris came closest, but she really was erased. Warren got months of positive press, but she didn’t have Hillary’s history with civil rights and building relationships in the with the black community. She was a Republican until she was 47 years old!

        • NW Luna says:

          Yes. Every time someone publicly mourns Warren or other women dropping out I think of Hillary, who by all rational measures should be President right now. If Biden gets into the WH it’ll be hideously ironic that this banal VP in in and Hillary is not.

          • quixote says:

            This whole turn of events makes me sick. To start out with so much hope for a real President, and to end up where the better choice is hair-sniffin Biden.


      • dakinikat says:

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Nancy LeTourneau at The Washington Monthly: The Media Still Won’t Address Trump’s Unfitness for Office.

    Now that Biden is once again the front-runner in the Democratic primary, Trump has resumed his attacks.

    “Sleepy Joe,” Mr. Trump continued, “he doesn’t even know where he is or what he’s doing or what office he’s running for. Honestly, I don’t think he knows what office he’s running for.”

    If Mr. Biden won the presidency, Mr. Trump said, his staff would actually do the governing. “They’re going to put him into a home, and other people are going to be running the country,” the president said, “and they’re going to be super-left, radical crazies. And Joe’s going to be in a home and he’ll be watching television.”

    Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Trump always projects his own behavior on others. And the media lets him get away with it.

  3. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Drop out of the Democratic race and run as an independent to spoil it all again, is what he means.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    • quixote says:

      For once, the stopped clock may even have accidentally spoken a fact.

      The early publicly known cases in the US were in a nursing home. Covid-19 (or SARS-Cov-something they’re calling it now?) has a much higher fatality rate with age and what docs call co-morbidities. As high as 49% in the most vulnerable groups of ill 80 year-olds.

      All we’re seeing in the US is the small sample size (so far) heavily skewed to a vulnerable group. So the rate is for now closer to 8-10%.

      Means nothing except that the sample size is small and skewed.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Yes, but that is likely because of the lack of testing. There are very likely many more cases and if we knew the numbers, the mortality rate might match what the WHO is saying.

        • quixote says:

          There’s a Bloomberg article talking about how useful community testing has been in South Korea. It’s enabled them to know where the disease is and where it needs stopping, and they’re actually managing to do that.

          You’ve been talking up community testing the whole time and it looks like you’re right!

      • NW Luna says:

        Very small sample size. However, I’m sure the mortality rate will remain high for elderly people with comorbidities, or younger with comorbidities such as DM and COPD.

  5. Delphyne49 says:

    “You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price!”
    “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

    Words that women will be saying to men and their handmaidens – and perhaps are saying now – if this misogyny continues and a capable woman is prevented from becoming POTUS. Hell hsth no fury and all that.

    Love the doggy pictures! ❤️

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks. I totally support what Schumer said. If they really make abortion illegal or completely inaccessible they will “reap the whirlwind” of women’s rage.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    I still think this woman could become president.

  7. bostonboomer says:

  8. lililam says:

    I love looking at historical doggie pictures, particularly the giant breeds, to see how they were portrayed and the changes in breed standards. That Saint Bernard is a beaut! (Unlike his namesake).

  9. bostonboomer says:

  10. Pat Johnson says:

    I think between the 2018 “Blue Wave” and this year’s search for a candidate America is finally saying they have had enough.

    The insanity of considering 4 more years of Trump is not lost on the majority of voters. We can no longer sit back and watch this nation being led by an unfit moron and his enabling party. This momentum must continue up to November.

    Getting him out is the ultimate goal.

  11. MsMass says:

    My husband feels as bad about Warren dropping out as I did over Hillary losing. I think that Warren could be a great asset in Biden’s administration. What do you think would be her dream position?

    • bostonboomer says:

      I think she is needed in the Senate and can have plenty of influence there. We have to win the Senate and we won’t do that if lots of Senators go to work in a Democratic administration.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        Precisely. We need 4 seats to gain back the majority and we might get them,

        But if we appoint other senators we may lose that edge.

        The Senate is the most important issue after Trump.

    • quixote says:

      (I know it makes no practical difference, but it feels important to me to stress this: Hillary did not lose. That election was stolen.)

      • NW Luna says:

        Yes, yes, yes. On Twitter I’ve given up replying to everyone mourning Elizabeth Warren dropping out and us not getting a woman prez, but she opened the door for others. Are they blind? We had Kamala, and Amy, and Kristen this year. And Hillary won the nomination 4 million votes over Bernie in 2016. And she won the popular vote and lost the EC only because of those suspiciously odd and highly improbably 70,000 votes over a few states.

        Read a few tweets by people saying they could not bring themselves to ever listen to Hillary’s concession speech. Me too. I can’t even read her book. I feel like crying again for what we lost.

        • Delphyne49 says:

          I couldn’t listen to her concession speech either and I have her book, sent to me by a dear friend in the first printing, which remains unread on my coffee table. I was inconsolable days after 9 November 2016 and my fury was off the charts – still not ready to revisit that event.

          • Delphyne49 says:

            Right after I pressed enter, a mourning dove landed outside my window and began her mournful cries…

          • bostonboomer says:

            I tried to read it too, but it was too upsetting. Maybe I’ll be able to do it eventually.

  12. jackyt says:

    I think Elizabeth Warren could do worse than declaring her support for whomever becomes the nominee … that is, don’t endorse now, but show she’s a true Democrat who supports the process. And the same goes for Kamala Harris.

    • Sweet Sue says:

      As long as she doesn’t endorse St. Bernard.

      • Exactly! She would be demonstrating that an honourable leftist supports the ‘team’ rather than undermining it in the General Election. However, I’ve re-thunk the Harris Too part of the comment. I think she would do well to endorse Biden because she is my first choice for veep.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I hope she doesn’t. I think she’ll probably wait so she can have some influence at the convention.

  13. NW Luna says:

    1) It wasn’t Seattle, it’s Kirkland where the LTC center is with all the cases of coronovid-19
    2) it’s too late
    3) just because he can live without a paycheck for a while doesn’t mean the rest of us can.

  14. NW Luna says:


    • quixote says:

      *This* is actually the grim news of the month. Covid-19 is just one wave on the beach. Climate change is the horizon changing shape in an odd way which is a tsunami headed at us.

  15. NW Luna says:

  16. NW Luna says:

    • quixote says:

      I understand Bailey used the occasion to snaffle someone’s burrito!

      (Subsequent forensic evidence suggests it had his name on it and *he**is**innocent*!)