Headlines: September 2, 2020
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Massachusetts’ primary election results are in, and in the two most high-profile Congressional races, both incumbents held on to their seats. In the race for Senator Ed Markey’s seat, challenger Joe Kennedy III of the famed political dynasty, lost his bid in spite of winning the endorsement of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Senator Markey, who has been progressive on some issues such as co-sponsoring the Green New Deal resolution in the Senate, had the endorsement of progressive allies and prevailed. Representative Richard Neal, chair of the House Ways and Means committee also won his primary against progressive challenger Alex Morse who is the Mayor of Holyoke. Morse had been the target of state party leaders who apparently had orchestrated allegations of improper behavior by the mayor.
In other news, Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden on Wednesday gave a speech aimed at President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, particularly focused on the reopening of schools. Meanwhile the Biden campaign has apparently adjusted its strategy in the Midwest, focusing on swing states where Trump has been pushing his message of so-called “law and order.” The Washington Post explained that Biden, “delivered a forceful anti-Trump speech in Pittsburgh, afterward bringing pizza to a firehouse. He began giving newfound attention to Minnesota, a state Democrats haven’t lost in nearly 50 years, and his campaign is eyeing potential trips to Wisconsin and Michigan.” Additionally, the Biden campaign has begun airing ads in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania–all 3 important swing states where Trump narrowly won in 2016. Biden also released an ad condemning rioting as a form of protest, indicating that he was willing to respond to rightwing agenda-setting talking points. And, more than 80 Nobel Prize winners in the fields of Physics, Chemistry and Medicine, signed a letter endorsing Biden for President of the US, citing the “need for leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy.”
In other election related news, a new poll by USA Today and Suffolk University shows the Presidential race between Trump and Biden narrowing with the former Vice President only 7 points ahead of the incumbent. The same poll months earlier had Biden with a double-digit lead. A Grinnell College poll found similar results with Biden leading Trump 49% to 41%. Among women the gap is wider with Biden at 56 to 34%. And a poll commissioned by The Guardian newspaper shows deep fears among Democratic voters that Trump will not accept the outcome of the election if he loses. The group NextGen America in its new poll has found that young voters, aged 18 to 35 are much more enthusiastic about voting this year.
Showing that Trump is once more willing to bend the rule of government to his own political advantage a new report has found that the Department of Homeland Security in July failed to update federal, state and local law enforcement of a Russian effort to attack Biden’s mental health capacity. But Trump himself appeared interested in such an attack, saying in his recent Fox News interview with Laura Ingraham that Biden might be taking drugs to enhance his mental acuity. The White House’s social media director Dan Scavino has also been playing partisan politics and twisting the truth to benefit Trump after he was found using his personal Twitter account to post a manipulated video of Biden.
In news from the coronavirus pandemic, the US continues to lead the entire world in coronavirus infections and deaths with 185,123 confirmed virus-related fatalities. Still, the Trump administration has just refused to join the World Health Organization’s international effort to develop a safe vaccine for Covid-19, preferring instead to go it alone. The nation’s top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said on NBC, “I believe that by the time we get to the end of this calendar year that we will feel comfortable that we do have a safe and effective vaccine.” But other health experts worry that the nation is not yet ready for a vaccine even if one were to become available. AP explained that, “health departments that have been underfunded for decades say they currently lack the staff, money and tools to educate people about vaccines and then to distribute, administer and track hundreds of millions of doses. Nor do they know when, or if, they’ll get federal aid to do that.” Meanwhile the W.H.O. released a new recommendation based on several studies about the use of inexpensive steroid-based medications to help the sickest Covid-19 patients survive the disease. And, Trump’s top White House Trade adviser Peter Navarro is under scrutiny for negotiating expensive and unnecessary contracts using taxpayer money to purchase costly ventilators—far more than were needed. The federal government on Monday canceled the contracts after a House committee report showed that the government had overpaid. Navarro is also under fire for signing a bizarre contract with the camera manufacturer Kodak to distribute pharmaceuticals that has ended in a securities investigation.
During his Tuesday visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin, President Trump faced accusations by Black leaders of using their city to promote his reelection. While he was ostensibly in the city in his capacity as President, Trump’s visit was akin to a campaign stop complete with campaign slogans, flags, and gear. And, one business owner whose camera shop had been destroyed during recent protests, accused Trump of misleading the public. After Tom Gram, owner of Rode’s Camera Shop refused to appear for a photo-op with Trump, the President went ahead anyway—posing with John Rode instead—the previous owner of the shop.
The Trump administration announced with much fanfare that it would stop some renter evictions through the end of the year, apparently offering relief for those affected by the pandemic. But critics say it doesn’t help given that renters who cannot pay now, will still owe a large bill of back rent next year or face eviction. Meanwhile the US economy added fewer than half a million new jobs last month– far lower than expected considering the massive unemployment figures. And, the nation’s debt, as per the Wall Street Journal, has ballooned this year, for the first time since World War II, exceeding the size of the economy itself. Republican deficit hawks are deafeningly silent.