Sunday, April 26, 2020

Last Call For Biden, His Time Con't

Joe Biden's brilliant strategy of "Letting Trump screw up daily for six weeks during a massive pandemic crisis" is paying political dividends as people are kind of noticing that Trump was never fit for real leadership.  The COVID-19 death toll is heading for 55,000 and Biden does need to engage voters on that, but nowhere near the level as on Trump's daily egofests. CNN polling guru and stats man Harry Enten:

A new Fox News poll from Michigan finds former Vice President Joe Biden leading President Donald Trump by a 49% to 41% margin. Other Fox News polls from Florida and Pennsylvania also showed Biden clearly ahead. 
In all three cases, Biden's doing better than he is in the long-term polling average in those states. 
What's the point: A lot of Democrats have been hankering for Biden to try and get out to be more part of the daily media conversation. The latest numbers suggest that these voices are likely wrong. Biden's proving that the less media he receives, the better it is for his electoral prospects. 
Over the last month and a half, Trump has had the political spotlight shone on him. He's had daily press conferences that the media has extensively covered. Meanwhile, Biden's struggling to attract much of an audience as he is stuck at home. 
You can see this really well in media mentions in the top paragraph of stories, as measured by Four years ago from March 20 to April 20, Trump had about 65% of the mentions between Hillary Clinton and him. This year during the same period, Trump's gotten about 90% of the coverage dedicated to Biden or him. That is, Biden's turned a 2:1 disadvantage into a 9:1 disadvantage.

This is why the Biden opposition on the Trump side and on the Sanders side (because let's be honest, there is now a concerted effort to sink Joe Biden by the dirtbag left before the convention to replace him with Sanders, regardless of what Democratic primary voters actually want) are both covering the 1993 sexual assault allegations against Biden by a woman named Tara Reade.

Everyone from Double G's shop The Intercept to the Daily Caller and FOX News State TV are running with "new evidence" against Biden.

A 1993 video has surfaced that appears to show the mother of Tara Reade, the former aide to Joe Biden who has accused him of sexual assault, talking about "problems" her daughter faced on CNN’s "Larry King Live." 
As first reported by the Intercept, an unnamed woman from San Luis Obispo, California, called into King's show and said, "I’m wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington? My daughter has just left there, after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him."

Reade confirmed to POLITICO it was her mother's voice.

King asked the woman, “She had a story to tell but, out of respect for the person she worked for, she didn’t tell it?" 
The caller replied, "That's true." 
In March, Reade accused Biden of digitally penetrating her in 1993 without her consent. Last year, she told reporters that Biden inappropriately touched her at the time, including on her neck and shoulder, but did not talk about an alleged assault. 
Before the King video was discovered, Reade told media outlets, including POLITICO, that her mother had called into his show. She did not remember the date of the show at the time.

Biden has to deal with this directly and soon, or he'll be hounded out of the race.  Al Franken found out the hard way that this is a career-ending accusation at this level of politics...and Donald Trump of course found out that career-ending sexual assault only applies to Democrats.

Press The Meat, Con't

White House journalists are finally, finally taking a stand against the Orange toddler as his treatment of the press as "enemies of the people" becomes full-on treatment of them as actual enemies of the state.

Later on Friday, CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins received a strange request from a White House official, one that she subsequently detailed on Twitter:

A more detailed report came from Washington Blade Chief Political & White House Reporter Chris Johnson, who filed this pool report on the incident:

Earlier today before the briefing, a White House official instructed the print pooler to take CNN’s seat in the briefing room because the seating would be swapped for the briefing. Given the seating assignment is under the jurisdiction of the White House Correspondents’ Association, not the White House, pooler refused to move. 
The White House official then informed the print pooler swapping wasn’t an option and the Secret Service was involved. Again, pooler refused to move, citing guidance from the WHCA. The briefing proceeded with both CNN and print pooler sitting in their respective assigned seats.

Secret Service, huh? Let’s pause for a moment on that one. The U.S. Secret Service protects top U.S. leaders as well as visiting foreign dignitaries, such as the pope. “Using advanced countermeasures, the Secret Service executes security operations that deter, minimize and decisively respond to identified threats and vulnerabilities," its website says.

Where does the assignment of seats in the White House briefing room fit into that scheme? It appears not to, according to Jonathan Karl, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA). In an email sent to Johnson on Friday evening, Karl wrote, “The Secret Service tells the WHCA they were not involved whatsoever in this effort by the WH to change seating assignments.” 
A Secret Service representative emailed the Erik Wemple Blog this statement: “The U.S. Secret Service was not involved in this matter.”

So it seems that the White House was so intent on Collins’s positional demotion as to invoke the Secret Service for the purposes of intimidation. Collins and Johnson were wise to stand their ground.

What's this?  Jon Karl and the WHCA finally developing a spine after Trump tries to banish CNN to the back of the room and invokes the USSS to intimidate a young woman reporter?

Our White House press betters are finally catching on that Trump isn't playing around and never was.  He will put reporters in jail or worse if he believes for a moment that it will save his re-election, and the closer to November we get, the more obvious this will become.

The time to stand up to Trump manipulating the WHCA was three years ago, but what is past is past. If there's a future for journalism in this country, it starts with holding Trump accountable and going to the mat to defend their own people.

We're finally starting to see that.

The Erik Wemple Blog has asked the White House who hatched the idea to suddenly attack Collins’s front-row perch in the briefing room. It’s not clear, though we do know this: It’s a petty, personal act that was hastily and mendaciously executed. What happened here was nothing short of an abject attempt to professionally humiliate a young, female journalist. Sure, Trump has targeted men plenty of times in the briefing room and elsewhere. But hear the words of CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash earlier this month: “As a woman who covered the White House, as a woman who covers politics and policy in Washington, we have to just say, the way he treats the female reporters is just different.”

If even Wemple gets it (and let's not forget Wemple spent months trying to debunk the Mueller Report over the last three months only to run headlong into last week's Senate Intelligence Committee report, and he's silent on it) then Trump is in real trouble.

Sunday Long Read: Ordering Out

NYC restaurateur and owner of now former Bowery staple eatery Prune, Gabrielle Hamilton, tells her story in this week's Sunday Long Read.  After 20 years, the mainstay closed its doors and Hamilton now wonders openly about if the restaurant model of business could or even should survive in the Big Apple in the post-COVID era.

On the night before I laid off all 30 of my employees, I dreamed that my two children had perished, buried alive in dirt, while I dug in the wrong place, just five feet away from where they were actually smothered. I turned and spotted the royal blue heel of my youngest’s socked foot poking out of the black soil only after it was too late.

For 10 days, everyone in my orbit had been tilting one way one hour, the other the next. Ten days of being waterboarded by the news, by tweets, by friends, by my waiters. Of being inundated by texts from fellow chefs and managers — former employees, now at the helm of their own restaurants but still eager for guidance. Of gentle but nervous pleas from my operations manager to consider signing up with a third-party delivery service like Caviar. Of being rattled even by my own wife, Ashley, and her anxious compulsion to act, to reduce our restaurant’s operating hours, to close at 9 p.m., cut shifts.

With no clear directive from any authority — public schools were still open — I spent those 10 days sorting through the conflicting chatter, trying to decide what to do. And now I understood abruptly: I would lay everybody off, even my wife. Prune, my Manhattan restaurant, would close at 11:59 p.m. on March 15. I had only one piece of unemotional data to work with: the checking-account balance. If I triaged the collected sales tax that was sitting in its own dedicated savings account and left unpaid the stack of vendor invoices, I could fully cover this one last week of payroll.

By the time of the all-staff meeting after brunch that day, I knew I was right. After a couple of weeks of watching the daily sales dwindle — a $12,141 Saturday to a $4,188 Monday to a $2,093 Thursday — it was a relief to decide to pull the parachute cord. I didn’t want to have waited too long, didn’t want to crash into the trees. Our sous chef FaceTimed in, as did our lead line cook, while nearly everyone else gathered in the dining room. I looked everybody in the eye and said, “I’ve decided not to wait to see what will happen; I encourage you to call first thing in the morning for unemployment, and you have a week’s paycheck from me coming.”

After the meeting, there was some directionless shuffling. Should we collect our things? Grab our knives? Stay and have a drink? There was still one last dinner, so four of us — Ashley and I; our general manager, Anna; and Jake, a beloved line cook — worked the last shift at Prune for who knows how long. Some staff members remained behind to eat with one another, spending their money in house. As word trickled out, some long-ago alumnae reached out to place orders for meals they would never eat. From Lauren Kois, who waited tables at Prune all through her Ph.D. program and is now an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Alabama:

2 dark and stormies
shrimp w anchovy
fried oysters (we’re pretending it’s a special tonight)
Leo Steen Jurassic Chenin Blanc
skate wing
treviso salad
potatoes in duck fat
brothy beans
breton butter cake
2 black coffees
+ 50 percent TIP

Ashley worked the grill station and cold appetizers, while also bartending and expediting. Anna waited and hosted and answered the phone. Jake worked all 10 burners alone. I was in a yellow apron handling the dish pit, clearing the tables and running bus tubs, and I broke into tears for a second when I learned of Kois’s order. The word “family” is thrown around in restaurants for good reason. We banked $1,144 in total sales.

As our staff left that night, we waved across the room to one another with a strange mixture of longing and eye-rolling, still in the self-conscious phase of having to act so distant from one another, all of us still so unaware of what was coming. Then, as I was running a last tray of glassware before mopping the floors, Ashley leaned over to announce: “Hey, he just called it. De Blasio. It’s a shutdown. You beat it by five hours, babe.”

The next day, a Monday, Ashley started assembling 30 boxes of survival-food kits for the staff. She packed Ziploc bags of nuts, rice, pasta, cans of curry paste and cartons of eggs, while music played from her cellphone tucked into a plastic quart container — an old line-cook trick for amplifying sound. I texted a clip of her mini-operation to José Andrés, who called immediately with encouragement: We will win this together! We feed the world one plate at a time!

Ashley had placed a last large order from our wholesaler: jarred peanut butter, canned tuna, coconut milk and other unlikely items that had never appeared on our order history. And our account rep, Marie Elena Corrao — we met when I was her first account 20 years ago; she came to our wedding in 2016 — put the order through without even clearing her throat, sending the truck to a now-shuttered business. She knew as well as we did that it would be a long while before the bill was paid. Leo, from the family-owned butchery we’ve used for 20 years, Pino’s Prime Meat Market, called not to diplomatically inquire about our plans but to immediately offer tangibles: “What meats do you ladies need for the home?” He offered this even though he knew that there were 30 days’ worth of his invoices in a pile on my desk, totaling thousands of dollars. And all day a string of neighborhood regulars passed by on the sidewalk outside and made heart hands at us through the locked French doors.

It turned out that abruptly closing a restaurant is a weeklong, full-time job. I was bombarded with an astonishing volume of texts. The phone rang throughout the day, overwhelmingly well-wishers and regretful cancellations, but there was a woman who apparently hadn’t followed the coronavirus news. She cut me off in the middle of my greeting with, “Yeah, you guys open for brunch?” Then she hung up before I could even finish saying, “Take care out there.”

As I said, a lot of things will permanently change in the US because of this pandemic. How and where we eat is just one consideration...

Orange Meltdown, Con't

Trump is rolling back on the Traveling Snake Oil™ show from the White House briefing room podium, but this means he has more time for his second-favorite pastime, petty vengeance and scapegoating.

White House officials are weighing a plan to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, according to four people familiar with the discussions.

Among the names on the short list to replace Azar are White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx, Medicare chief Seema Verma and deputy HHS Secretary Eric Hargan, said the four people familiar with the talks.

Senior officials’ long-standing frustrations with the health chief have mounted during the pressure-packed response to the Covid-19 outbreak, with White House aides angry this week about Azar’s handling of the ouster of vaccine expert Rick Bright. At a recent task force meeting, Azar assured Vice President Mike Pence that Bright’s move to the National Institutes of Health was a promotion — only for Bright and his lawyers to release a statement that he would soon file a whistleblower complaint against HHS leadership, blindsiding White House officials, according to three officials familiar with the meeting.

White House officials also have blamed Azar for long-running turmoil at the health department and a series of media reports that portrayed him as urging Trump to act on the Covid-19 outbreak in January, only for the president and his aides to disregard Azar’s warnings as alarmist. Azar has denied the reports, saying that Trump “never once rejected, turned down or dismissed a recommendation” of his or the task force’s.

The White House disputed that officials were considering a plan to replace Azar.

I told you two months ago that Azar was going to be the scapegoat for Trump's failed COVID-19 response.

The Trump regime believes they have this election in the bag already, but they are publicly admitting the scenario where Trump gets crushed by any and every Democrat in November involves a big economic slump brought on by the Wuhan coronavirus.  They're so scared of this happening that they already have their scapegoat trussed and ready for the chopping block: HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

Azar was always going to have his card pulled, but not until the time was right.  After all, these Trump regime subgenii thought they were going to nail this "virus thing" out of the gate, and it was only a problem for them once it became clear that this time their incompetence was going to cost tens, if not hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.

The funny thing is despite waiting two months to gank him, Azar's sacrifice probably won't even buy Trump a news cycle.  Not with the daily butcher's bill coming in right now.

Also note that Dr. Fauci has been largely AWOL this week.  That's not an accident.

Until this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci was a near-constant presence at the daily coronavirus task force briefings at the White House. As the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for 35 years, his expertise on the global pandemic has been a reassuring force for millions of Americans concerned about how COVID-19 has uprooted their lives.

Of the roughly 50 press conferences on the health crisis so far, Fauci had only missed a handful. But now, for the first time since regular press conferences began on the topic, Fauci was only present for one of seven briefings this week.

While Fauci gave media interviews throughout the week, his absence at the podium was notable given the president’s controversial remarks a day earlier about using light and disinfectants to possibly treat the deadly respiratory illness.

And though Fauci regularly shares his decades-long infectious disease knowledge publicly, one administration official suggested there’s a preference that Fauci do more of that behind closed doors so it doesn’t appear he’s on such a different page from the president.

“You are here in a certain role, you’ve got to give advice privately,” this official said.

And finally, the Trump regime is declaring full-on war against the World Health Organization.

President Trump and his top aides are working behind the scenes to sideline the World Health Organization on several new fronts as they seek to shift blame for the coronavirus pandemic to the world body, according to U.S. and foreign officials involved in the discussions.

Last week, the president announced a 60-day hold on U.S. money to the WHO, but other steps by his top officials go beyond a temporary funding freeze, raising concerns about the permanent weakening of the organization amid a rapidly spreading crisis.

At the State Department, officials are stripping references to the WHO from coronavirus fact sheets, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has instructed his employees to “cut out the middle man” when it comes to public health initiatives the United States previously supported through the WHO.

The United States will now attempt to reroute the WHO funds to nongovernment organizations involved in public health issues, according to interviews with U.S. officials and an internal memo obtained by The Washington Post.

“The Secretary has asked the State Department and USAID to identify and utilize alternative implementers for foreign assistance programs beyond the WHO,” read a memo sent to State Department employees in recent days.

At the United Nations Security Council, the Trump administration has delayed a resolution responding to the health crisis, which the French have been trying to advance for weeks, because it disagrees with draft language that expresses support for the WHO, European officials said.

U.S. opposition to the WHO also prevented health ministers at a virtual G-20 meeting from issuing a joint statement on the pandemic earlier this month.

The White House is imploring allies to question the organization’s credibility and push claims that its employees routinely go on excessive “luxury travel,” as one White House official, Sarah Makin Acciani, told a group of surrogates in a recent phone call without offering evidence, a transcript of which has been obtained by The Post.

“It has been impossible to find a common ground with the U.S. about the views on the work and role of WHO,” said a senior European official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe diplomatic discussions.

WHO officials initially hoped they could stave off a halt in U.S. funding and a messy public confrontation by making a symbolic concession to Trump, but discussions between the organization and the U.S. ambassador to the WHO, Andrew Bremberg, failed to ease tensions. 

Azar's toast, Fauci is on his way out, and the WHO is being systematically dismantled.

Damn shame, that is.  On several levels.

Related Posts with Thumbnails