Headlines: September 8, 2020
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President Donald Trump went on the offensive against the U.S. military on Monday during a White House press conference, accusing the “top people in the Pentagon” of fighting endless wars in order to help arms companies make profits. Trump’s remarks came days after The Atlantic published a tell-all account of the President’s 2018 trip to Paris and the disparaging remarks he made about veterans and fallen soldiers in World War I. The Huffington Post said that “critics were flabbergasted” in response to his Labor Day comments and pointed out that, “It was Trump who picked Mark Esper — former chief lobbyist for defense contractor Raytheon ― to be the current secretary of defense.” When asked about The Atlantic story, Trump called it “a hoax,” and the writer a “slime ball,” and that “”Only an animal would say things,” of the type that were attributed to him. Several reporters and media outlets, including Fox News corroborated Trump’s private comments calling soldiers “losers” and “suckers.”
On Sunday Trump tweeted a report about the state of California implementing a New York Times-led project about the US’s history of slavery called 1618. He warned that the “Department of Education is looking at this,” and that the state’s schools would lose funding. When asked about it on Monday by reporters Trump denounced “cancel culture” and then went on to demand the cancelation of the 1618 project. His comments are in line with continued assaults against racial justice and come soon after his government sent a memo to agencies canceling racial sensitivity training for staff. The memo read, “All agencies are directed to begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on ‘critical race theory,’ ‘white privilege,’ or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.” Trump’s Presidency has emboldened white supremacist groups, some of which showed up in the town of Salem, Oregon over the weekend in order to clash with Black Lives Matter protests. In another part of the country, Trump-supporting groups came together in Texas on numerous boats in Lake Travis in an event that ended in disaster after 15 calls for distress were made, and 5 boats festooned with Trump flags sank.
As Trump heads to Florida and North Carolina on Tuesday, reports emerged that his reelection campaign that was flush with cash just months ago is now dangerously short of funds. On Sunday the New York Times pointed out that Trump spent about $58 million of his reelection campaign funds on his personal and business legal expenses against lawsuits seeking his tax returns. In one example, “In California, Mr. Trump sued to block a law that would have forced him to release his taxes if he wanted to run for re-election. The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee have paid the law firm handling this case, among others, $1.8 million.” Trump is now reportedly contemplating spending $100 million of his own money for reelection. Bloomberg, which first reported it, explained, “it would be unprecedented for an incumbent president to put his own money toward winning a second term.” A new poll by We Ask America found that in swing states, Trump is leading rival Joe Biden in only one state – Missouri. Biden apparently maintains a lead in Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.
In other election news, Associated Press published an analysis showing that absentee ballot rejections could triple in swing states. Republican lawmakers in those states had been working to fix their vote-by-mail systems until the Trump administration signaled that it preferred chaos. Now, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy is worried that the problems may even impact Republican voters. McCarthy said of a conversation he had with Trump, “I tried to show him … You know who is most afraid of COVID? Seniors. And if they’re not going to go vote, period, we’re screwed.” McCarthy and other Republicans have worked hard for years to ensure that Democratic-leaning voters have worse access to their right to vote.
On Monday, Trump was asked about his statements claiming there would be a Covid-19 vaccine before the November 3rd election. The president reacted defensively and then admitted, “the faster, the better” on a vaccine. Nine CEOs of biotech companies that are developing a Covid-19 vaccine have signed a pledge to not seek formal approval of their products until they are confident of its safety and effectiveness. The nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that in order for the US to bring the pandemic under control, there needed to be fewer than 10,000 new cases per day. But even the lowest recent daily new infections case-load was at a whopping 25,000. A new project called the Color of Coronavirus found that Covid-19-related death rates among African Americans and Latinos have risen sharply. And, a 10-day motorcycle rally in South Dakota is now being singled out as a massive super-spreading event was responsible for a significant percentage of August infections and could cost more than $12 billion in public health expenditures. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is a Trump loyalist who recently addressed the Republican National Convention denouncing the advice of “an elite class of so-called experts.” The US Senate will vote this week on a scaled down coronavirus economic relief bill that would offer only $300 a week to unemployed Americans – half the amount they were receiving earlier.
Jacob Blake, the Kenosha, Wisconsin-based black man shot multiple times by police in the back has spoken out publicly for the first time since being hospitalized. His shooting sparked the latest round of mass protests against racist police brutality. Blake said he was in constant pain. Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris traveled to Wisconsin this week to meet with Blake’s family. Meanwhile Trump on Tuesday tweeted about aggressive Black Lives Matter activists in Pittsburgh as “thugs” and Biden voters. In Rochester, New York, where the local community has been roiled by the videotaped death-by-asphyxiation at police hands of Daniel Prude, Mayor Lovely Warren announced changes that included doubling the number of mental-health professionals in the city. Over the weekend a number of activists held a dramatic rally that featured half a dozen naked or nearly naked hooded activists sitting in the middle of the street with their hands behind their backs to depict the naked, hooded, and handcuffed black man who was killed.
Democrats are investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy after a report that while in his previous job, he allegedly urged his employees to make financial contributions to his favorite Republicans seeking office, and then reimbursed them – a potential violation of campaign finance laws. Trump on Monday claimed to be ignorant of the allegations and added that if DeJoy did something wrong, he should step down.
And finally, wildfires have exploded across Southern California, one of which was set off when the pyrotechnics at a gender reveal party sparked flames. The hot, dry, and strong Santa Ana winds could further fan the flames after record-breaking 3-digit temperatures over the weekend. The state has already lost a record-breaking 2 million acres to fire and the traditional fire season has barely begun.