Headlines: November 11, 2020
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No evidence has emerged about widespread voter fraud claims on which President Donald Trump and the Republican Party have based their delays in accepting the presidential election results. The New York Times this week reached out to officials in all states to follow up on voter fraud claims and found no evidence and in fact concluded that, “the process had been a remarkable success despite record turnout and the complications of a dangerous pandemic.” The Associated Press came to a similar conclusion that Trump’s assertions are “groundless,” and that, “Such claims have put pressure on Republican election officials fielding scores of reports of fraud that so far have turned out to be human error or limited in scope.” Even one of the most major claims made by Republicans of ballot tampering in Pennsylvania fell apart. The Washington Post examined the story and concluded that, “A Pennsylvania postal worker whose claims have been cited by top Republicans as potential evidence of widespread voting irregularities admitted to U.S. Postal Service investigators that he fabricated the allegations.” So scant is the evidence of voter fraud that GOP officials have resorted to offering up massive rewards in their vain searches such as Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick who wants to give a million dollars off his campaign money as “incentive.” The repeated claims of non-existent voter fraud have had a serious impact on public trust in election integrity as a new poll shows that 70% of Republicans believe the November 3rd race was not “free and fair.”
But a Reuters-Ipsos poll that was released Tuesday (but conducted on Saturday afternoon when Joe Biden was declared winner), shows that 80% of Americans said the Democrat won the Presidential race. Strangely the GOP does not doubt the veracity of votes cast for Senate races where the party has now won 50 seats or the House where they expanded their share of seats. Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska were the latest two GOP Senators to be declared winners of their races this week. Democrats have 48 seats and are vying for both of Georgia’s Senate seats in a January 5th runoff election. Republicans have now gone on the attack against one of those Democratic Party candidates, Raphael Warnock claiming he is antisemitic because he is a supporter of Black Lives Matter. Mr. Warnock is African American.
Meanwhile Mr. Trump, who will emerge from hiding out in the White House to mark Veterans Day, has orchestrated a high-level shuffle of Defense Department leaders that has alarmed observers. Soon after he fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Trump promoted three loyalists to key positions in the Pentagon. CNN explained that, “Four senior civilian officials have been fired or have resigned since Monday, including Esper, his chief of staff and the top officials overseeing policy and intelligence.” According to the Guardian newspaper, “Democrats immediately demanded explanations for the eleventh-hour personnel changes and warned that the US was entering dangerous ‘uncharted territory’ with the reshuffling of key national security roles during a presidential transition.”
State Secretary Mike Pompeo is under fire for simply pretending there was no Trump defeat at the polls and saying on Tuesday in response to a reporter’s question about transition that, “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” Mr. Pompeo’s statement was bizarre on multiple fronts. If in fact Trump had won reelection, there would be no need to transition. Just as Trump violated ethical standards in deploying taxpayer funded federal government resources in his election campaign, the New York Times explained that now Trump, “is harnessing the power of the federal government to resist the results of an election that he lost, something that no sitting president has done in American history.” Trump has instructed multiple government agencies not to cooperate with the President elect and has even proceeded with plans to unveil Trump’s federal government budget in February – a month after he should have left office. When asked about Trump’s pretense at having won the election Mr. Biden called it “an embarrassment.”
As Trump is focusing the government’s efforts on preserving personal power, he appears to have maintained his hands-off approach to the pandemic. Infections continue to surge at record-breaking levels across the U.S. and the only thing the sitting President has done is to claim credit for a potential vaccine that was not part of the cohort he authorized funding for. Meanwhile, state governors are scrambling for medical equipment as ICUs begin to fill dangerously in what seems a repeat of the Spring. It has taken the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 9 months to issue a strong recommendation for Americans to wear masks saying on Tuesday that even a 15% increase in the practice could avert lockdowns and save $1 trillion. One of the other things to tackle the Covid-19 spread that Trump promised was the distribution of a cutting-edge drug that was used on him when he got infected. Now, there are reports that the government is ready to distribute 80,000 doses of the drug this week but the effort faces serious logistical challenges.
There has been no added economic relief since the CARES Act for millions of Americans who lost jobs due to the pandemic and now two emergency federal programs that are critical to protecting workers from eviction and starvation are set to expire. And, a new study by the National Women’s Law Center concluded that the pandemic has forced more than 2 million women to leave the workforce. The unemployment rate for women has hit Black and Brown women disproportionately.
The Trump government has deported a number of immigrant women who had been detained in Georgia and forced into unwanted medical procedures including hysterectomies. U.S. ICE agents have sent at least 6 women back who were among those who came forward describing the abuse they faced and are trying to deport more.
President elect Joe Biden has plans to marshal the forces of government to tackle climate change. Speaking to the press Biden’s campaign policy director Stef Feldman explained, “From the very beginning of the campaign, when President-elect Biden rolled out his climate plan, he made it clear he sees this as an all-of-government agenda, domestic, economic, foreign policy.” Biden reportedly brought up climate change in every conversation he had with foreign leaders on Tuesday.
And in international news Myanmar held elections this week and handed victory to Aung San Su Kyi once more. The controversial leader who won a Nobel Peace prize before giving cover to a genocidal dictatorship, led her party into a victory winning 397 parliamentary seats out of 476.