Mar 3, 2021

Axios AM

🐪 Good Wednesday morning. Smart Brevity™ count: 1,189 words ... 4½ minutes.

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1 big thing: Democrats' hypocrisy moment

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Ray Tamarra/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be facing explicit calls to resign from President Biden on down, if you apply the standard that Democrats set for similar allegations against Republicans. And it's not a close call.

  • Why it matters: The #MeToo moment saw men in power run out of town for exploiting young women. Democrats led the charge. So the silence of so many of them seems more strange — and unacceptable by their own standards — by the hour.

Their only plausible explanation would be to argue that three women are exaggerating or misremembering things.

  • This is precisely what Democrats said was unacceptable in GOP cases.

One top New York Democrat told me the reaction has been "disheartening" — an approach by both parties of believing women "except if they accuse a member of your party."

  • As pointed out by Axios Sneak Peek on Sunday: Democrats hammered Donald Trump after "Access Hollywood," pilloried Brett Kavanaugh over Christine Blasey Ford and defended Joe Biden when he was accused of inappropriate touching.

A Democratic strategist close to the White House pointed to "some PTSD" in the party after former Sen. Al Franken was forced to resign in 2017, in what many Democrats now see as a rush to judgment.

  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York was the first Democrat to say Franken should resign. She called the allegations against Cuomo "serious and deeply concerning."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said yesterday that Biden and Vice President Harris "both believe that every woman coming forward should be heard, should be treated with dignity, and treated with respect."

  • Psaki noted New York Attorney General Letitia James' "independent investigation with subpoena power, and the governor’s office said he will fully cooperate. And we certainly support that moving forward." 
2. Smart Brevity on the 3 vaccines

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

All three COVID vaccines authorized in the U.S. — Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson — have high rates of preventing hospitalization and death, Axios' Caitlin Owens and Alison Snyder write.

But there are key differences:

  • The most obvious is the dosing. J&J requires only one shot, although a second booster dose is being tested. Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines require two doses, a few weeks apart.
  • The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been more effective than the J&J vaccine in clinical trials at preventing any symptomatic disease. Some experts quickly point out that the vaccines weren’t compared directly against one another, so the differences may be on paper only.
  • But on paper, those differences appear significant: The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offer protection of more than 90%, while J&J’s efficacy against symptomatic disease is 66%.

Keep reading.

  • Go deeper: President Biden says all U.S. adults will be able get the vaccine by May 31 — two months earlier than he'd promised.
3. New challenges to police immunity

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nearly a year after the death of George Floyd, police reform advocates are launching new moves to limit or eliminate legal liability protections for officers accused of excessive force, Axios race and justice reporter Russell Contreras writes.

  • Why it matters: Revising or eliminating qualified immunity — the shield police officers have now — could force officers accused of excessive force to face civil penalties in addition to their departments. But such a change could intensify a nationwide police officer shortage.

Keep reading.

4. Pictures from America
@DollyParton via Reuters

🎸 Dolly Parton, who helped fund Moderna's vaccine, gets the COVID jab yesterday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

  • In a video, Parton put a spin on her classic "Jolene," singing a capella: "Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine. I'm beggin' of you, please don't hesitate." (Nashville Tennessean)

Watch the video.

Photo: Mike Segar/Reuters

People wait for COVID shots in a line stretching around Manhattan's Jacob Javits Convention Center, converted to a mass vaccination center.

5. Companies plan to expand benefits for parents

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pandemic has been a wake-up call for employers, after over a million parents were forced to leave their jobs due to child care responsibilities, Axios @Work author Erica Pandey writes.

  • Why it matters: A whopping 98% of employers now plan to expand their benefits, according to a survey of H.R. departments by
  • 66% are adding flexibility to help parents and other caretakers; 63% are adding child care benefits.

Keep reading.

6. Stat of the day: 40% of internships at for-profit firms are unpaid

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Over 40% of internships at for-profit companies are unpaid, keeping scores of talented, cash-strapped students from gaining experience, Erica Pandey writes.

  • Why it matters: Unpaid internships are early exacerbators of inequality. When students can't find paid opportunities in the fields they want to work in, they choose different careers. That's part of the reason the arts and media are so white.

Keep reading.

7. New weapon against gun violence

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Baltimore is piloting a software program developed by Everytown for Gun Safety that works to identify patterns in weapons involved in crimes, Axios Cities author Jennifer A. Kingson writes.

  • Why it matters: If successful in Baltimore, the tool could be used to crack down in other places with an epidemic of gun violence.

Keep reading.

8. First look: Plouffe's next chapter
David Plouffe talks to The Wall Street Journal's Gerry Baker at Fox Business Network in New York on March 4, 2020. Photo: John Lamparski/Getty Images

David Plouffe, an architect of President Obama's winning campaign and specialist in the intersection of grassroots and tech, joins Precision — and co-founders Stephanie Cutter and Teddy Goff — as "of counsel."

  • Cutter pointed to "David’s experience in creating and driving data-driven strategies and managing integrated campaigns."
  • Goff said: "David is a legend to just about every young person who worked on the Obama campaigns."
  • Plouffe said Precision wowed with "innovative work for the Democratic National Convention and the inaugural events."

Plouffe was a top Uber exec, leading global policy and communications.

  • He helped Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan launch the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, where he remains an adviser on the criminal justice and immigration portfolios.
  • Plouffe is on the boards of Oscar Health, the Obama Foundation, and Fwd.US.
9. The wisdom of Vernon Jordan
On Aug. 22, 1993, President Bill Clinton is consoled by Vernon Jordan after a bad shot at Farm Neck Golf Club on Martha's Vineyard. Photo: Marcy Nighswander/AP

Vernon Jordan, the Southern civil-rights leader who went from being a butler and chauffeur to power broker of Washington and Wall Street, has died after 85 larger-than-life years.

  • Here's Vernon E. Jordan Jr., senior managing director of Lazard Frères & Co. LLC, speaking in 2019 of "our interesting, often infuriating times," at Rankin Chapel at Howard University, his law alma mater:
We live in an age of immediacy — immediate deliveries, immediate communication. But the work of justice takes time. There will be moments of doubt and difficulty. And that means you need to find your rock, your inspiration. ...
And just as the Lord will carry us, we must be prepared to carry one another, and lift up one another and our community.

🗞️ A+ headline on N.Y. Times' front-page obit (subscription), "A Civil Rights Leader With Influence in Corner and Oval Offices."

  • Go deeper: In Axios PM, managing editor Margaret Talev tells the backstory of a three-hour breakfast with Vernon Jordan in 2015 that led to years of shrimp-and-grits mornings.
10. 📚 Coming attraction: Vernon Jordan on Bill Clinton

Cover courtesy Gary Ginsberg

Gary Ginsberg — lawyer, corporate executive and former Clinton administration aide — had a three-hour lunch with Vernon Jordan for "First Friends," a book about presidential confidants, out July 6:

Numerous former aides recall with astonishment how over eight years they never saw or heard Jordan ask for anything from Clinton except for one small request — that he attend the 1994 President's Cup golf tournament due to his friendship with Robert Trent Jones ... He never sought time on Clinton's schedule or input on legislation for clients, nor did he seek special favors for himself or his friends. Of course it didn't hurt Jordan's law practice to be known as the First Friend ...
"People think I needed Bill Clinton to be who I was," Jordan said in 2018, spelling out his words: "My L-I-F-E," he continued, "did N-O-T start when Bill Clinton became President."

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