Headlines: September 24, 2020
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President Donald Trump in remarks to reporters on Wednesday refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he were to lose the election. A reporter claimed that “people were rioting” but didn’t clarify that militant protests were largely peaceful and were in response to police violence and impunity. Still, to the question of whether he would agree to a peaceful transfer of power, Trump refused to make a commitment. Some Republican lawmakers who have remained staunchly loyal to Trump managed to push back against his assertions. In a terse tweet, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell wrote, “The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792.” Senator Lindsey Graham said on Fox News, “If Republicans lose we will accept the result. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Joe Biden, I will accept that result.” In invoking the Supreme Court Graham implied that the court would decide the election rather than voters. There will either be a 5-3 or a 6-3 conservative majority on the court between now and November 3rd.
Soon before Trump made his controversial comments The Atlantic magazine published an alarming write-up about ways in which the Trump campaign could steal the 2020 election. One section stood out where journalist Barton Gellman writes:
“According to sources in the Republican Party at the state and national levels, the Trump campaign is discussing contingency plans to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority. With a justification based on claims of rampant fraud, Trump would ask state legislators to set aside the popular vote and exercise their power to choose a slate of electors directly. The longer Trump succeeds in keeping the vote count in doubt, the more pressure legislators will feel to act before the safe-harbor deadline expires.”
Such an approach is based on the fact that Presidential races are decided by the electoral college system and Trump won the electoral college in 2016 while losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. Now a new poll shows 61% of Americans support abolishing the electoral college.
Meanwhile an open letter published by 489 former or retired national security officials have cast their support for Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden. Among the signatories is Gen. Paul J. Selva who the New York Times explained is “a retired four-star Air Force general with 40 years in uniform, served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents Obama and Trump from 2015 until his retirement in July 2019.”
In other news, protests have raged in Louisville, Kentucky after the state announced minor charges of wanton endangerment against one of 3 officers involved in the shooting of Breonna Taylor. The officer in question was charged for firing shots that hit the walls of Taylor’s neighbors while the officers whose bullets actually hit Taylor were not charged at all, sparking massive public outrage. Two police officers were shot and 127 people were arrested during protests on Wednesday night in Louisville. Among those expressing shock at the charges was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But Democratic Presidential nominee Biden refused to comment saying only, “I don’t know the details.” His campaign then released a statement saying only that more needed to be done, “to deliver justice for Breonna.” Meanwhile President Trump praised the Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, as “really brilliant” and “a star.” According to one report, “Cameron Served as Legal Counsel to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Before He Was Attorney General & Has Been Endorsed by the Kentucky Fraternal Order of Police.” McConnell also attended Cameron’s wedding this summer.
In other news, Gov. Mike Parson of Missouri and his wife Teresa Parson have tested positive for Covid-19. Both had refused to accept mask wearing as a precaution. Gov. Parson says he had not experienced any symptoms. The virus is surging in the U.S. once more with 22 states seeing cases of infection rise. Younger Americans are now the largest group getting infected. On Wednesday during a Senate Hearing Dr. Anthony Fauci sparred with Senator Rand Paul over multiple erroneous claims pushing back aggressively against claims of herd immunity and other Covid-19 related disinformation from Republican Senator Rand Paul.
The Labor Department just released its weekly figures on unemployment benefits and the number of jobless benefits filers has remained high at about 870,000. According to Associated Press, “Many employers appear reluctant to hire in the face of deep uncertainty about the course of the virus. Most economists say it will be hard for the job market or the economy to sustain a recovery unless Congress enacts another rescue package. The economy may not fully recover until a vaccine becomes available.” Meanwhile a new massive study by Citigroup has found that the U.S. economy lost $16 trillion since 2000 directly as a result of racial discrimination against African Americans. Among the ways in which Black Americans routinely face discrimination is over housing, education, and business loans.
And finally, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California just signed an order banning the sales of new petroleum-fueled cars by 2035. Spurred by the effects of climate change on the state with historic and deadly wildfires, Newsom said, “Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse — and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.” Newsom has faced criticism for hypocritically supporting oil and gas production in the state through fracking but now he says he supports a fracking ban too although he wants the state legislature to pass a bill to that effect.