A third wave of coronavirus cases has clearly begun across much of the country. New daily infections are rising in 44 states with now over 50,000 new cases per day and daily death tolls are above 500 and marching toward 1,000 once again. The week ends with the grim milestone of 8 million cases and 220,000 fatalities in the US, and 40 million with 1 million respectively worldwide. The number of cases as well as the death rate in the US remains the highest of the developed world. The positivity rates in some Midwest red zone states are in excess of 20% and a staggering 30% in the Dakotas. Some health experts are predicting that at the one-year mark of the pandemic in March of 2021 the total number of US deaths may approach a staggering 400,000-500,000.
Despite these gruesome numbers, the public has become so skeptical of claims by the Trump administration that less than half of the population says they will get a vaccine immediately after it is approved. The skepticism is justifiable. White House was reported to have installed two political appointees and Trump loyalists at the CDC to control the information and messaging it releases to the public. One was assigned to become the chief of staff to CDC Director Robert Redfield. The CDC, the one organization with clear mission to protect Americans from infectious diseases, was largely sidelined and then discredited by the Trump administration in the early months of the pandemic.
Trump’s Dept. of Health and Human Services has been meeting with maverick scientists who propose that we allow the virus to start circulating freely to build up herd immunity. The advocates include the newest member of the White House Pandemic Task Force, Dr. Scott Atlas, who is reported to have the President’s ear. Most public health experts say the idea is dangerous if not crazy as it could result in the death of not hundreds of thousands but low millions of Americans. The WHO called it highly unethical. A former Harvard Med School professor calls it “mass murder.” Would this end up being a politically-motivated genocide orchestrated by the Trump administration to allow the weak and vulnerable to die so that the economy and his reelection and reputation are salvaged?
A week after leaving the hospital, the President claimed that “the light at the end of the tunnel is near.” We can only hope he is speaking about his Presidency. Less than two weeks after recklessly hosting a super-spreader event in the Rose Garden the President hosts campaign rallies across the Midwest attended by thousands of supporters packed together, with most not wearing masks. He continues to dismiss worries about the virus and minimizes the risks of getting sick. He claims that he is “immune” and feels “so powerful” after defeating the virus. All the while his wife and First Lady Melania Trump remains out of sight for weeks still recovering from COVID-19 with no updates on her health condition being provided.
A news report surfaces that while the White House was publicly telling Americans that the virus was “very much under control” and contained in late February, members of the administration were advising business organizations, hedge funds, and investors that the situation was much more worrisome. In the days to follow the stock market began falling as traders used inside information not available to the public to take their profits and prepare for the recession and volatility that was to come.
The treasury department confirmed that the US budget deficit for Trump’s third full fiscal year in office ending in September hit a record high of $3.1 trillion dollars. Nearly two thirds of that was due to spending associated with the pandemic as well as reduced revenues due to falling economic activity and GDP. During the Trump presidency the total US debt has increase from $14 trillion to $21 trillion, a 50% increase. Much of that occurred during good economic times when the nation should have been enjoying surpluses, but was not due to the President’s tax reductions, corporate giveaways, and increased defense spending.
New jobless claims are going up, not down, with nearly 900,000 new claims reported this week. The total of all new state unemployment claims over the past seven months must now exceed 65 million. Yet, the total number receiving unemployment is said to be only around 25 million, not including out of work self-employed and gig workers. Many who are out of work are likely dropping off the official counts as they have gone past their state’s unemployment insurance term length, or have completely dropped out of the workforce all together. The unemployment rates for those 50 years and older are running significantly higher than younger workers, leading many to suspect businesses are getting rid of older workers under the legal cover of the pandemic. The size of the US workforce was said to be 160 million at the start of this year. With even the lower number of 25 million unemployed, that would mean an unemployment rate of over 15%, not the 8% that the administration is claiming.
All this bad economic news does not stop Regional Federal Reserve Presidents, like James Bullard in St. Louis, from claiming the Fed has a “good policy” in place and that the economy is on a good path. Yeah, right, and the end of the pandemic is right around the corner too. They must be speaking for big banks which reported solid profits this past quarter despite an economy in shambles with many consumers and homeowners in forbearance and small businesses barely hanging on.
After the President refused to participate In what was supposed to be the second presidential debate, the two candidates appeared in separate town hall events. Joe Biden in Philadelphia looked comfortable and empathetic listening and speaking with his audience. The President from Miami was his normal boisterous misleading self. The most shocking moment was when the President refused to denounce QAnon saying he did not know much about the conspiracy-making organization. This follows his first debate where he refused to denounce right-wing white nationalist groups like the Proud Boys, whom he also claimed not to know much about. These organizations now join Russia as being off limits to attacks from Trump who has taken aim at nearly everyone else over his term in office. Funny, he did claim to know a lot about left-wing organizations, like Antifa, whom he falsely claimed were the real threat. During his event former Vice President Biden dodged answering a question about whether he will attempt to enlarge or “pack” the Supreme Court should he win. He should have answered he will “unpack” the court that the Republicans packed and he will seek justice be restored for the two Supreme Court seats that should not have been filled by Trump.
The President facing an election loss turns up the rhetoric and vitriol against not only Joe Biden but current and past members of his own administration. He calls the former Vice President, who has proudly served the country for four decades as a centrist, a corrupt socialist who is “gone” and “controlled by Marxists” with a running mate Kamala Harris who is a “monster” and “communist.” Polls show the public does not believe what the President says about Biden, or much anything else. Even his supporters don’t believe the President but for some deluded reason still vote for him. Insiders are reported to be saying the President has become unhinged in his rage against real and imagined foes in and outside of the White House. More and more ex-aides and Republicans are finally having the courage to stand up and come out saying what all of us outside the personality cult have thought since the start: Trump disdains the common man as a loser, he is a master showman and con artist, and is said to mock evangelical Christians behind the doors whom he uses only to keep himself in power.
Yet, there are still so many Republicans held captive. Senator Mike Lee, himself recovering from COVID just like Trump, asserted that the US is not a democracy, a common refrain by the Republican Party these days to normalize the behavior of their leader. If you think this is only harmless political rhetoric you should look at all that Trump or his Republican party are doing to undermine democracy. The list is long and includes suppressing voting, gerrymandering congressional districts, creating stricter voter ID laws, defunding the post office before the election, intimidating voters with a call for an army of poll watchers, limiting ballot drop boxes, attacking the free press as an enemy of the people, claiming mail-in voting will be so fraudulent an honest election cannot be held, closing or moving polling locations mostly in poor or minority areas, removing voters from registration lists, making it tougher for felons who have done their time to vote, undoing voter-approved initiative petitions, calling out the military on peaceful protesters, using the Justice Department to attack political enemies, stacking the federal appellate and supreme courts, refusing to defend the country against foreign interference, preparing for massive lawsuits to gum up the counting of votes, not agreeing to abide by the results of an election or the peaceful transfer of power, and the list goes on and on across the country.
The President’s right-wing extremist supporters are doing their part in conspiracy making and misinformation by claiming that the Democrats are planning a violent coup by destroying ballots of those who vote for Trump. Of course we all know by now that whatever the President and his supporters project upon and claim about others, is actually true about them. Social media sites are preparing to crack down on violence-inciting posts that may come during or after the election, especially if people take to the streets in protest of an undecided race.
Social media giants Facebook and Twitter are already having to act every week in marking or blocking the President’s posts as false or incendiary. The most recent example was the use of apparently stolen or hacked emails from the son of Joe Biden which Russian operatives were believed to have fabricated. Yes, here we go again with emails a few weeks before the election.
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. Republicans claim she is very well qualified. That means she is a Catholic, like six other members, was obviously groomed for the nomination by the Federalist Society, and a member of a patriarchal People of Praise religious sect where she was a “handmaid.” Judge Barrett was a law professor at Notre Dame for 15 years who never practiced law in the streets defending real people or performing public service. She was then appointed to a federal court of appeals only three years ago at the start of the Trump administration. And that makes her qualified at her rather young and relatively inexperienced age of 48 to sit on the Supreme Court for a lifetime term that could be another 30 or even 40 years?
Unfortunately, she has already demonstrated her own lack of judgement and questionable ethics by allowing her name to be nominated by a President who has behaved so badly like Trump during the past 45 months. Then she allowed him to so totally exploit her, while risking the health of her own family, with a Rose Garden celebration of her nomination that ended up being a super-spreader virus event because so few were wearing masks. Is she so naïve in the workings of the real world outside of academia to understand that no one who comes into contact with Donald Trump goes untarnished? And she is suppose to defend our constitution from demagogues and law-breakers like Trump? Well, maybe not. When asked during the committee proceedings if a president had the power to delay an election or if voter intimidation is unconstitutional, she said she would have to hear all sides. No she does not as both are clearly against the law. She also said the Supreme Court cannot control what (laws) the president obeys. I guess that does mean the president is above the law. And to no ones surprise, she said she would not automatically recuse herself from participating in challenges to the results of the upcoming election that the man who nominated her might bring.
You could not have imagined all this in a made-for-TV drama or more likely a tragic comedy. I take that back, President Trump could have and did as a publicity-seeking debt-laden power-hungry former reality TV showman.
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.