Patterico's Pontifications


California Moves Toward A Slow Reopening of the State This Week

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:12 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Given that number of state residents who have been hospitalized for coronavirus has remained stable, as well as the state continuing to build up its inventory of PPE and increased testing capacity, Gov. Newsom of California announced today that the state would start to reopen this week with conditions:

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California will allow some retail businesses to reopen with modifications as early as Friday, amid encouraging coronavirus benchmarks.

“We are entering into the next phase this week,” Newsom said in his daily press briefing Monday. “This is a very positive sign and it’s happened only for one reason: The data says it can happen.”

Those businesses that can reopen Friday will have to abide to restrictions, such as physical distancing and delivering orders at the curbside. Detailed guidelines about the Phase 2 reopening will be released on Thursday, according to Newsom.

While the retail businesses include clothing, sporting goods, books, toy, music stores and florist shops, it excludes malls, offices or in-house dining at restaurants.

Newsom is avoiding a one-size-fits-all mandate. Phase 2 will give local officials more leeway in deciding how to proceed with the re-opening of their cities. But any plans will have to meet a criteria established by the state, which includes:

… the capacity on testing, their capacity on tracing, the capacity on physical distancing and sanitation, and their capacity to protect the most vulnerable residents in their community.

Newsom is also planning to cover the statewide need for trackers and tracers of the disease:

Newsom shared his plan for a “tracing army” in the state — a training program led by the University of California Los Angeles and University of California San Francisco that will teach people how to trace and track the disease through a virtual academy.

Each recruit will go through 20 hours of training, 12 hours online and eight hours in person.

Approximately 3,000 people have been identified as tracers already and are set to begin their first training course, which goes online Wednesday, Newsom said. The first phase will train about 10,000 people, with a goal of reaching 20,000 tracers.

The governor warned, however, that if coronavirus cases increase, the state would intervene in the reopening process.

On a side note, here is a good look at how difficult it is for restaurant workers to follow their establishment’s checklist when guests are eating in-house. These are the guidelines from a regional chain of restaurants in Tennessee:

Temperature checks for every guest and employee before they enter.

Question every guest about potential COVID-19 symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus.

Ask people to take their food from the server trays themselves — and put it back on the trays when they’re done.

If they don’t want to do that, the server needs to place and remove the plates using “whatever means possible to distance themselves.”

Servers have to replace their gloves every time they service another table.

They have to wash their hands before replacing the gloves.

They have to wash their hands after handling money.

They have to wash their hands after every credit card transaction.

They have to wash their hands every time they return to the dining room.

A server’s personal observations on the feasibility of the guidelines:

A server at an O’Charley’s restaurant in Tennessee that reopened Thursday said very little of this is actually happening because of the lack of staff and resources.

“I don’t think we should have opened,” the server, who did not wish to be identified for fear of losing her job, told BuzzFeed News. “There’s no possible way for us employees to do what they’re asking us to do. It’s just not possible.”

The server said “we’re not doing the social distancing thing.”

“I can’t be 6 feet away,” she said, referring to customers.

She said she is wearing gloves and a mask, but the “masks we’re using are the ones we pretty much made ourselves.”

She handles all the money in the restaurant and said it was impossible to wash her hands after every transaction.

Servers are not replacing their gloves every time they service a different table, she said, adding, “It’s not even in the back of our minds.”

She said she does not have the time to wash her hands each time she runs from the kitchen to the dining room. And she said nobody’s temperature is being checked because the restaurant does not have thermometers.


Joe Biden – Tara Reade Roundup

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:47 pm

[guest post by Dana]

After Joe Biden was interviewed by “Morning Joe” host Mika Brzezinski and publicly denied the sexual assault allegations made by Tara Reade, he claimed that if she had filed a complaint, as she has said, the document would be held at the National Archives. And that’s where things got a bit wonky:

The former vice president initially said Reade’s complaint, if it exists, would only be housed at the National Archives, but the search for Biden’s records has thus far proved circular.

In response to Biden’s request on Friday, the Archives said it did not possess the records the former vice president said it did and that the documents in question were instead maintained by the Senate. But Senate rules suggest that those documents are maintained by the General Services Administration, which, in turn, said the records are at the National Archives.

By late Friday, Biden had written to Secretary of the Senate Julie Adams requesting that her office “take or direct whatever steps are necessary to establish the location of the records of this Office.” Biden went on to ask that if any documents are located, “to direct a search for the alleged complaint and to make public the results of this search.”

But the confusion around the search continued on Monday when the secretary turned down Biden’s request.

“Based on the law’s strict confidentiality requirements (Section 313) and the Senate’s own direction that disclosure of Senate Records is not authorized if prohibited by law (Senate Resolution 474 96th Congress, Section 3(a)), Senate Legal Counsel advises that the Secretary has no discretion to disclose any such information as requested in Vice President Biden’s letter on May 1,” the secretary’s response said.

The Biden campaign responded to the secretary’s decision later Monday with three questions: if the existence of the records is subject to disclosure; if there is anyone else, such as Reade, who could request the release of the related documents; and if the Senate could release procedures and materials that the Office of Senate Fair Employment Practices followed in 1993 for processing these types of complaints.

Questions: That the Biden camp persisted in trying to confirm the existence of the record in spite of being told no, are you reassured that the presidential nominee has done everything possible to convince you that he did not do what he is alleged to do, and do you believe him? Also, do you think the Biden camp knew in advance that there would be no possibility of anyone accessing the records, which would then make his efforts little more than a cynical political ploy?

Meanwhile, Tara Reade cancelled a tentative interview with Chris Wallace:

Tara Reade, a former Biden staffer who accused the presidential candidate of sexually assaulting her in 1993, reportedly canceled a tentative interview with Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, which was scheduled to be recorded on Friday and aired on Sunday.

“We never confirmed the interview or the New York Times story, and we don’t provide details on the booking process,” a Fox News representative told Edward-Isaac Dovere, a staff writer at the Atlantic.

“Fox News had been very excited about booking Reade, given that it would have been her first network television interview. Wallace was getting ready for the conversation. There’s consternation internally that it isn’t happening,” Dovere reported in a series of tweets.

According to a New York Times reporter:

Tara Reade tells me she canceled the interview with Fox News because death threats received by her and her child made her nervous about being in the public eye.

On Saturday, Reade posted this at the Fox News website:

I find it astounding the hypocrisy that Democrats are talking about women being able to tell their story safely. I’m a Democrat, a lifelong Democrat, but yet here I am trying to talk about my history with Joe Biden and I’m just the target of online harassment.

Question: While I understand concerns about being in the public eye and facing death threats, would doing an interview remotely have further endangered her or her family? Has she filed a police report about any death threats?

Also, NPR reports that Tara Reade’s comments made to the AP report are not much different that what she said to the news outlet in April:

Over the weekend, the Associated Press published a story detailing that Reade said in an interview that she did not explicitly use the phrase “sexual harassment” in her alleged complaint.

But what she described to the AP is akin to what she has described to NPR — situations in Biden’s office in which Reade says she was made to feel uncomfortable by the then-senator.

Tara Reade, a former Senate aide to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, says she filed a written complaint in 1993, but it did not include an allegation she has now made of Biden sexually assaulting her. Biden says that did not happen.

“He would just put his hand on my shoulder, like in a meeting, and then run his fingers underneath my hair,” she said. “He was very demonstrative in that way.”

Reade also claimed that she was asked to chip in at a fundraiser because of the way she looked. “The senator liked my legs and thought I was pretty and wanted me to serve drinks to a fundraising event that was mostly men,” she said.

Reade told NPR last month that she recalls when she complained about sexual harassment in the office, she “couched it in terms that ‘I was uncomfortable.'”

So this makes me wonder why Joe Scarborough thought this was a big deal?

To consider:

I have my own impressions regarding Ms. Reade’s allegations, but no one — save Ms. Reade and Mr. Biden — knows with certainty whether her claims are true. What I can assert with firm conviction is that Democrats ought to start considering a backup plan for 2020.

Ms. Reade’s account is not nearly as incredible as some have argued. In the course of my reporting, I have worked closely with many survivors of sexual assault. It isn’t unusual, in my experience, for survivors to exhibit behavior that seems unstable or erratic to others. They may initially disclose to investigators or journalists only a fragment of what happened, and then reveal more over time — some even falsely recant, either because they sense the police don’t believe them, or because they fear the consequences of pressing their claims. And victims often maintain relationships with their attackers or harbor mixed feelings about them.

“It’s not at all uncommon for someone to still have positive feelings about aspects of the person who assaulted them, or to admire or respect them,” Scott Berkowitz, the founder and president of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) told me. “With people who work for politicians, there’s usually a strong measure of loyalty or respect in that relationship. So it’s not indicative that someone wasn’t telling the truth.”

Sexual assault is a crime unlike any other, and its hideous uniqueness is often manifest in the ways its victims cope. Cavalier dismissal of Ms. Reade’s story therefore runs the risk of advancing misconceptions about sexual assault and its aftermath.


Trump Keeps Tweaking Expected Coronavirus Death Toll Upward — But Who Could Have Known???!?!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

MSDNC reports: For the 5th time in two weeks, Trump tweaks projected death toll. I’d say it’s been four tweaks and not five, but they’re right that he keeps doing it.

Here’s Trump on April 20:

Now, we’re going toward 50, I’m hearing, or 60,000 people. One is too many. I always say it: One is too many. But we’re going toward 50- or 60,000 people. That’s at the lower — as you know, the low number was supposed to be 100,000 people. We — we could end up at 50 to 60. Okay? It’s horrible.

A week later the lower bound was 60,000. (“[W]e’re probably heading to 60,000, 70,000.”) This past Wednesday it was 65,000.

If you lose 65,000 people — it’s so crazy to say it, it’s just so horrible — but if we lose 65,000 people, and instead of that, going the other route, we would have lost a million or a million and a half or 2 million — it’s possible, it’s possible that you lost more — but could you imagine?

Last night (see MSDNC link above) he gave two numbers. First it was 80,000 or 90,000, although that appears to be a prediction rather than a lower bound:

“I used to say 65,000,” the president said, pointing to a total he promoted just a few days earlier. “And now I’m saying 80,000 or 90,000.”

Then it was even more, in the same town hall:

“Look, we’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people. That’s a horrible thing. We shouldn’t lose one person out of this,” Trump said speaking during a Fox News virtual town hall.

Let’s give him credit for only one tweak, since this was the same night: 75,000 as a lower bound and 100,000 as an upper. That’s four tweaks.

No figure that is not six digits is remotely plausible, and I continue to think the death toll will be in the hundreds of thousands. We’ve lost nearly 70,000 people with barely over a million cases — and 100 million people could easily get this disease in this country before we are done.

Well, it’s not like someone could have known, around the time that Trump gave that first 50,000
to 60,000 number, that it was an absurd number. Oh, wait:

Which reminds me: Larry Kudlow is trying to tell the world that at the end of February, “it was contained” based on the actual facts known in February:

That is horseshit, and you know how I know? Because I said this on February 28:

National Economic Council head Larry Kudlow says the Trump administration has “contained” the “caronavirus”, while the CDC has said of a spread of the virus in the U.S.: “It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen.”

Americans will have to decide whether the Trump administration and its top officials like Kudlow would be more likely to put Donald Trump’s interests above those of the United States, and whether they would say false things to calm markets and benefit Trump politically. There is a rich history of material from the past three years with which Americans could make such a decision.

I’ll simply note that in Lent, I was trying to operate under a stricture of not criticizing people. I came to see this pledge as a fool’s errand for political punditry and revised my pledge to be operative only in my private life — but early on I was trying pretty hard to apply it everywhere, even on the blog. If my reaction to Kudlow seems uncharacteristically muted, that’s why.

There is indeed some distortion by hindsight going on these days. People criticize others, including Trump, for action or inaction in January when it was nowhere near as obvious that there was an impending crisis as it is today.

That said, Trump, Kudlow, and others took far longer to figure it out than some of us ordinary citizens who don’t receive a Presidential Daily Briefing that they don’t read.

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