Headlines: August 25, 2020
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The Republican National Convention kicked off in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Monday in a manner that was starkly different from the Democratic National Convention the week before featuring President Donald Trump on the first day. Trump will apparently address the convention on all of the four days of the convention. Also speaking were Trump’s son Donald Jr., Representative Matt Gaetz, Senator Tim Scott, former UN Ambassador Nikki Hayley and others. The New York Times described the RNC Day 1 saying, “President Trump and his party engaged in sweeping revisionism about his management of the coronavirus, his record on race relations and much else.” The Washington Post called it, “a fire hose of false or misleading claims, mostly drawn from President Trump’s arsenal of falsehoods.” Trump spoke early in the day and repeatedly asked his followers to “be very careful,” claiming falsely that Democrats were engaged in nefarious activity for wanting to use vote-by-mail in a pandemic-era election. He also repeated the demonstrably false claim that the Obama administration had spied on his campaign.
Among the RNC’s speakers was Kimberley Guilfoyle, whom the Post described as a, “prosecutor-turned-Fox News host-turned Trump surrogate.” Guilfoyle’s speech, which was delivered in the style of a high-energy rally even though she was in an empty room, drew widespread ridicule on social media. She also drew criticism for referring to herself as a first-generation immigrant even though her mother is from Puerto Rico—a U.S. colony, not another nation. And, she painted a bleak and dystopian picture of how the U.S. could turn into California under a Biden-Harris administration. She trashed the state of California where she once lived as Gov. Gavin Newsom’s former wife. Also warning against a “socialist utopia” under Biden-Harris was Senator Tim Scott, the GOP’s only black lawmaker in the United States Senate perhaps meaning to say “dystopia” instead.
The RNC also featured former South Carolina governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, the daughter of immigrants who flat out rejected the existence of racism in the US. Haley also slammed the member nations of the United Nations as a den of “dictators, murderers, and thieves.” Haley said these words without a hint of irony considering that Trump’s closest allies, Saudi prince Mohammad bin Salman, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and others fit her description. Trump’s son Donald Jr. also spoke claiming among other things that Americans could have a perfect life with Trump as president. Trump Jr. also referred to Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden as, “the Loch Ness Monster of the swamp.” He has claimed over and over again that Biden’s family has benefitted off his political career, even though the Trump family has done precisely that. Tackling the pandemic was one of the themes that the RNC took up on its first day, and to do so, it featured a Trump-supporting nurse named Amy Ford who bizarrely claimed that Trump took action on the virus by making tele-health available to millions of people. No one at the RNC raised the fact that nearly 180,000 Americans have died of Covid-19 under Trump’s watch.
On day two of the RNC, among the speakers will be Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who may be in violation of the Hatch Act by overtly backing Trump for reelection even though he continues to serve as a top cabinet member. Pompeo’s own Department sent his staff a memo as other State Secretaries have done in previous elections, warning against taking political sides during an election. State Secretaries do not address political conventions, as a rule. But Pompeo, in a pre-recorded address from Jerusalem, is expected to tout his Christian Zionist world view.
The 32-year old Black man named Jacob Blake who was shot at point blank range in the back by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, may be paralyzed from the waist down. The father of 3 was attempting to sit in his car while multiple officers swarmed around him and one shot him at least 7 times in the back in an incident that was caught on video and sparked condemnation. Protests raged in Kenosha and police fired tear gas at activists demanding accountability.
Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration on Monday issued a mea culpa over scientific claims he made on the efficacy of Covid-19 survivors’ plasma as an effective treatment. Hahn had publicly claimed that 35 out of every 100 people ill with the virus could be saved from using the treatment but other scientists say the number is more like 3 to 7 out of 100. Hahn later tweeted, “The criticism is entirely justified. What I should have said better is that the data show a relative risk reduction not an absolute risk reduction.” Still the use of the plasma as a treatment has been approved even though there are not enough studies to confirm its safe use. Trump had accused the FDA and the so-called “Deep State” of delaying approval to undermine his reelection chances.
New York’s Attorney General Letitia James on Monday revealed in a court filing that her office is leading a civil investigation into whether the Trump Organization broke laws about asset valuation. The president’s son Eric Trump had agreed to be interviewed about the investigation but then canceled his appearance.
And finally in climate news, Hurricane Laura has claimed the lives of 11 people in the Caribbean as it heads now to Texas and Louisiana. The National Hurricane Center is predicting that Laura will become “life threatening.” And 7 people have died in intense lightning-sparked wildfires in Northern California with more than 600 structures damaged. The fires have now been 25% contained.