This week President Trump confirmed what we all have been worried about for a long time. He refused to say that that he would accept the results of the upcoming election and commit to a peaceful transfer of power. He went on to remark he would have to “see what happens” as he is not sure the election will be “honest.” Political wonks are warning that Trump will not concede and step down, and that Republican operatives are busy planting the groundwork to dispute the results should he lose. This moment in time and his statements are without precedent in the history of the country. Citizens at home and allies abroad were left shocked as to the further decay of America’s democracy and political institutions. Trump’s forewarning of an act of sedition and the death of democracy was even too much for members of his own law-and-order flag-hugging Republican Party. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell was forced to state that there would be an orderly transition of power like there has been every election since 1792.
This follows several weeks of the President claiming that the election will be rigged, mail-in voting will be fraudulent with scam ballots, he will have lots of poll watchers out there (to harass and intimidate voters), there is no way he will lose so his term in office will continue, and that his voters should try to vote twice to make sure the system works! A story in the Atlantic reported that the Trump campaign has gone so far to study strategies for getting GOP-controlled states to disregard their state’s election results by seating electors who are loyal to Trump, voter’s be damned. As columnist Dana Milbank wrote this week, the Reichstag is burning, referring to how Germany lost its own democracy to Hitler and the Nazis in the 1930s. Can there be any doubt now remaining that the country will be plunged into a constitutional crisis after the election? All while the President rushes to nominate a new member of the same Supreme Court that will likely rule on the final election result.
The country passes a once-unimaginable 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic. Case counts are still rising in more than 17 states with a total passing 7 million. Trump’s response was that he has done a “phenomenal job”, otherwise it would have been millions of fatalities. More than two-thirds of American do not agree as it is reported that only 30% of Americans approve how the President has responded to the emergency. And thru all this tragedy, much but admittedly not all that could have been avoided, Trump has failed to help console, heal or unite the nation as nearly every other president has done during a time of national emergency and mourning. Read more about the President’s handling and antics around the coronavirus pandemic this week at https://bearingwitnessheartland.com/2020/10/01/bearing-witness-to-the-pandemic-september-2020/.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman on the high court, who passed away last week becomes the first woman to lay in state at the U.S. Capitol. Mourners from around the nation honored her tenure on the court, admired her feisty spirit, and grieved her passing. Even President Trump and the First Lady came to give the appearance of paying their respects, all while the administration works to overturn most of the work she had done over her life to make America a more perfect union for all people. If they truly respected her, they would honor her last wishes that whomever wins the election would nominate her replacement. Trump’s attendance was marked with boos, jeers, and chants from bystanders of “vote him out.” His nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett could not be any more different than that of Justice Ginsburg. She must be turning in her grave aghast at what her replacement could do by overturning her deeds and dragging a 6-3 court further to the conservative right.
President Trump at a virtual meeting of the United Nations challenged the very concept of the institution not by encouraging cooperation and collaboration, but by urging other leaders to put their countries first and promoting nationalism. Very Christian-like indeed. It just demonstrates he thinks of the world as one of perpetual competition between winners who get to dominate and losers who will be subjugated. He then went on to practice what he preached by blaming China for the virus and that the UN should hold China accountable for the damage done.
Meanwhile, China continued to assert its leadership in combating climate change by announcing a pledge to become carbon neutral by 2060. China, unlike the US, remains committed to the Paris Climate Agreement and says its GHG emissions may peak before 2030.
The President announced his so-called health plan this week. It starts with sending $200 discount cards for prescription drugs to 33 million older Americans. There were few other details or agreements for Congressional action leading most observers to comment is is mostly a sham announcement just in time for the election. The administration continues to argue that the Obama’s ACA is unconstitutional, which will finally be heard by the Supreme Court before the end of the year, and conveniently after the election.
The administration placed additional sanctions on Iran this week that included penalties on foreign governments and companies that still trade with the country. This was immediately rejected by nearly all UN member countries. They were obviously practicing what was best for their countries, just like the President urged them to do.
A week after Attorney General William Barr threatened some Black Lives Matter protesters with prosecution for sedition, the Justice Department identified three cities of Portland, New York City, and Seattle as “anarchist jurisdictions” that could have their federal funding reduced for permitting violent protests. The only anarchist is President Trump who has time after time demonstrated his intent to disrupt and dismantle the federal government and be igniting fires across the world in our international relationships.
A judge has ruled to stop President Trump from having the U.S. Commerce department shut down foreign-owned apps TikTok and WeChat. It was never clear how the US government could shut down a lawfully established private business that had not broken any laws. The court said that this was an infringement on users’ First Amendment rights. First he came for the journalists, then he came for TikTok, then he came….
The Trump administration EPA leadership rejected findings from its own scientists that found pesticide can harm the development of children’s brains. This follows other recent moves to weaken restrictions on toxic chemicals. Protecting industry has become more important that protecting lives in this supposedly pro-life administration.
Another woman has emerged to accuse Trump of sexual assault. A former model says that when she was 24 Trump cornered and groped her at a US Open tennis event. This makes the 26th woman to claim sexual assault or rape.
A new poll finds that 60% of the public describes the economy as poor. However, looking closer at the data reveals that 67% of Republicans called the economy good but only 16% of Democrats. It’s as if Americans are living in two different realities. And they may be. The Federal Reserve has reported that total household wealth of American families soared to a record high last quarter. But this was largely due to the holdings of the already wealthy who benefitted from stock market highs, rising home values, and low interest rates to borrow money for new investments.
Trump’s acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, confirmed before a Senate committee that home-grown white supremacist extremists pose a terrorist threat to the United States. (Spoiler alert: this occurred one week before Trump refused to condemn white nationalists during his debate with Biden and instead told them to standby, as if he was preparing to give them orders.) Mr. Wolf, a Trump loyalist, had previously been accused of suppressing reports on threats of interference by domestic far-right organizations as well as Russian operatives.
The above news items have been taken from a number of local, regional, national and international news media including print, broadcast, and digital sources, but no social media. Additional editorial opinions and comments about these news items are those of this author.