Tuesday, November 24, 2020

AMERICAN POLITICS - Biden Transition Offically Starts

"Transition process formally under way.  GSA action allows briefings, funding for Biden team." by U-T News Services, San Diego Union-Tribune 11/21/2020

NOTE:  This is copied from the e-newspaper, therefore no link to article.

President Donald Trump’s government on Monday authorized president-elect Joe Biden to begin a formal transition process after Michigan certified Biden as its winner, a strong sign that the President’s last-ditch bid to overturn the results of the election was coming to an end.

Trump did not concede, and vowed to persist with efforts to change the vote.  But the President said on Twitter on Monday night that he accepted the decision by Emily Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration [GSA], to allow a transition to proceed.

In his tweet, Trump said that he had told his officials to begin “initial protocols” involving the handoff to Biden “in the best interest of our country.”

Murphy’s designation of Biden as the apparent victor provides the incoming administration with federal funds and resources and clears the way for the president-elect’s advisers to coordinate with Trump administration officials.

The decision from Murphy came after several additional senior Republican lawmakers, as well as leading figures from business and world affairs, denounced the delay in allowing the peaceful transfer of power to begin, a holdup that Biden and his top aides said was threatening national security and the ability of the incoming administration to effectively plan for combating the coronavirus pandemic.

And it followed a key court decision in Pennsylvania, where the state’s Supreme Court on Monday ruled against the Trump campaign and the President’s Republican allies, stating that roughly 8,000 ballots with signature or date irregularities must be counted.

In Michigan, the statewide canvassing board, with two Republicans and two Democrats, voted, 3-0, to approve the results, with one Republican abstaining.  It officially delivered to Biden a key battleground that Trump had wrested away from Democrats four years ago, and rebuffed the President’s legal and political efforts to overturn the results.

By Monday evening, as Biden moved ahead with plans to fill out his Cabinet, broad sectors of the nation had delivered a blunt message to the President: His campaign to stay in the White House was nearing the end.

Murphy said she made her decision Monday because of “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results,” most likely referring to the certification of votes by election officials in Michigan and a nearly unbroken string of court decisions that have rejected Trump’s challenges in several states.

In conversations earlier in the day with top aides — including Mark Meadows, the White House Chief of Staff; Pat Cipollone, the White House Counsel; and Jay Sekulow, the President’s personal lawyer — Trump was told that the transition needed to begin.  He did not need to say the word “concede,” they told him, according to multiple people briefed on the discussions.  But they emphasized that in the United States, transitions are hugely important.

Some of the advisers drafted a statement for the President to issue.  But Trump continued to solicit opinions from associates, including Rudy Giuliani, who told him there were still legal avenues to pursue, the people briefed on the discussions said.

In the end, Trump did not put out a statement, but aides said the tone of the proposed statement was similar to his tweets in the evening, in which he appeared to take credit for Murphy’s decision to allow the transition to a new administration to begin.

“Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail!” he wrote.  “Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”

In a letter to Biden, Murphy rebutted Trump’s assertion that he had directed her to make the decision, saying that “I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts.” She said she was “never directly or indirectly pressured by any executive branch official — including those who work at the White House or the GSA.”

“I do not think that an agency charged with improving federal procurement and property management should place itself above the constitutionally-based election process,” she wrote, defending her delay by saying that she did not want to get ahead of the constitutional process of counting votes and picking a President.

Murphy said she had received threats online, by phone, and by mail “directed at my safety, my family, my staff, and even my pets in an effort to coerce me into making this determination prematurely.”

“Even in the face of thousands of threats, I always remained committed to upholding the law,” the letter said.

She did not describe Biden as the “president-elect” in her letter, even as she said the transition could begin.

One associate with knowledge of Murphy’s thinking said that she always anticipated signing off on the transition but that she needed a defensible rationale to do so in the absence of a concession from Trump; the pro-Biden developments in Michigan and Pennsylvania, as well as in Georgia, provided a clear justification for moving ahead.

That decision was part of a cascade of events over the last several days that appeared to signal the end of Trump’s attempts to resist the will of the voters.

Large counties in Pennsylvania were formalizing Biden’s victory in the state.  And in a major break with the President, General Motors announced it would no longer back the administration’s efforts to nullify California’s fuel economy rules.

On Capitol Hill, most of Trump’s Republican allies had stood by his side for the past two weeks as he [Trump] tried to overturn the vote.  But on Monday, some of the Senate’s most senior Republicans sharply urged Murphy to allow the transition to proceed.

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who is retiring, issued his second call in recent days for a prompt transition.

“Since it seems apparent that Joe Biden will be the president-elect, my hope is that President Trump will take pride in his considerable accomplishments, put the country first and have a prompt and orderly transition to help the new administration succeed,” said Alexander, a close friend of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) the Senate majority leader.  “When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do.”

Earlier in the day, Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, both Republicans, issued statements breaking from Trump and calling for Biden to begin receiving coronavirus and national security briefings.

“At some point, the 2020 election must end,” Capito said.

The pressure on Trump extended beyond the political sphere.  More than 100 business leaders sent a letter to the administration on Monday asking it to facilitate a transition, and a group of Republican national security experts implored Republican members of Congress to demand that Trump concede.

One of the President’s staunchest supporters, Stephen Schwarzman, the chief executive of the private equity firm Blackstone, did not sign the business leaders’ letter but said in a statement that “the outcome is very certain today and the country should move on.”

The New York Times and The Washington Post contributed to this report.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

MUSIC - "Holy Mother" Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti

I am not Catholic but good music is good music, especially when performed by two artists I love.

Also considering what is happening today with COVID-19 and Trump, this song is appropriate.


Monday, November 09, 2020

VOTE 2020 - Rundown Sunday 11/08/2020

"Vice President-elect Harris’ win brings many historic firstsPBS NewsHour 11/08/2020


SUMMARY:  Kamala Harris gave her victory speech wearing all white on Saturday night after her glass ceiling-shattering win as Vice President-elect.  Barbara Perry, Director of Presidential Studies and co-chair of the Presidential Oral History Program at the University of Virginia's Miller Center, joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the historic nature of Harris’ election and the road it took to get here.



"Dems won the race but the GOP will control the presidencyPBS NewsHour 11/08/2020


SUMMARY:  While Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are headed to the White House, Democrats who were hoping to increase their margins in the House and take control of the Senate, failed to strengthen their position in Congress.  Jeff Greenfield joins to discuss the election results and how the Senate runoff in Georgia will determine the future of Biden’s presidency.

VOTE 2020 - Rundown Saturday 11/07/2020

"Lack of evidence make Trump’s legal challenge an uphill battlePBS NewsHour 11/07/2020


SUMMARY:  President Trump has vowed to challenge the election results, which have declared Joe Biden as the President-Elect.  The legal challenges began well before Election Day with lawsuits over mail-in voting and which ballots were “legally” cast.  Guy-Uriel Charles, professor of law at Duke University and co-director of the Center of Law, Race and Politics joins to discuss.



"Biden will take over a deeply divided nation in crisisPBS NewsHour 11/07/2020


SUMMARY:  With news outlets from the Associated Press to Fox News calling the election in favor of Joe Biden on Saturday, President Trump’s camp continued their legal efforts to contest the election results, and many Republican leaders remained silent.  Yamiche Alcindor joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss Trump’s strategy, as well as Kamala Harris’ historic win as the first woman of color to be elected Vice President.



"Georgia to be ‘center of the American political universe’ during recount, runoff electionPBS NewsHour 11/07/2020


SUMMARY:  Nearly 5 million ballots were cast in Georgia, where razor-thin margins in the presidential election mean the state will enter a recount process in the coming weeks, and a January runoff will decide the fate of both the state’s Senate seats.  Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Rickey Bevington joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss why, between now and January’s runoff election, all eyes will be on Georgia.



"‘More lawsuits are coming:’ Trump’s lawyers layout plans as AP calls race for BidenPBS NewsHour 11/07/2020


SUMMARY:  Shortly after the Associated Press and other TV networks call Pennsylvania and the entire race for Joe Biden, President Trump’s lawyers lay out their plans for a long legal fight over the results.  NewsHour’s Dan Bush joins from Philadelphia to discuss the moment Biden’s victory was called and the Trump campaign's plan of action.

OPINION - Shields and Brooks on Vote 2020

"Shields and Brooks on election results, national divisionsPBS NewsHour 11/06/2020


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week in politics, including surprises from a very close presidential election whose result is still unknown, which groups of voters increased their support for President Trump, political challenges for the Democratic Party and what national divisions say about the future of the country.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  And now to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.  That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

So, hello to both of you.

We don't have a result yet, but the votes are being counted like mad.  We know the results in a lot of states.

We're waiting.

David, what do you make of what we know so far?

David Brooks, New York Times:  Well, if ever there was a campaign that was going to be a blowout, I thought this was it.  I thought we had an unpopular President that people were ready to get rid of.  I expected a large margin.  And I was wrong.  It's a 2.8 percentage margin nationally.

And so I think what we have learned is that we a very evenly divided nation, two groups of people in non-overlapping universes.  For a time, it seemed — and I think people in both camps thought, well, the people on my team could eventually crush the people on the other team, and my team will get to rule.

I think we now have to face reality.  That's just never going to happen.  The other side is never going to go away.  And we have got to find a way to live with each other.

And so, to me, that's the biggest takeaway of where we are right now.

Judy Woodruff:  Mark, divided country.

Mark Shields, syndicated columnist:  Divided country, Judy.

But if you look at it in historical perspective, in the last century, only three presidential challengers, nominees have defeated an elected President seeking reelection.  And it's a pretty impressive group, if you think about it.  It was Franklin Roosevelt, it was Ronald Reagan, and it was Bill Clinton, all of whom were at least two-term presidents.  One was a four-term president, and I think history would say successful Presidents.

So, Joe Biden joins a pretty awesome group of people.  He will end up, in my judgment, with a 52-47 popular vote percentage, decisively, and decisively in the Electoral College.

David's right.  It was close.  We are divided.

What surprised me, as much as anything, was the loyalty and the enthusiasm of Donald Trump's constituency.  They turned out in surprisingly impressive numbers.  And Donald Trump, if he got over his hissy fits and sort of the silly actions since the election, could take credit for the Republicans picking up House seats in 2020 and retaining their majority in the Senate.

With the exception of Susan Collins, every other Republican Senate candidate who won, won with Donald Trump.  Susan Collins had a 17-point split in Maine.  That was the only ticket-splitting state in the country.

Judy Woodruff:  So, David, I know you have also — you have had a chance to look inside some of these numbers, why voters voted, who voted how, and why people voted the way they did.

I mean, even as we're waiting for the final numbers, what does that tell you about the country, about who we are?

David Brooks:  Well, I mean, the surprises were the gains that Republicans made among Latinos and African-Americans.  Donald Trump had a higher share of the non-white vote than any Republican in 60 years, as he said.

And that was a surprise to me.  He doubled his support among the LGBTQ community.  And so a lot of people are voting by different narratives.  There is a certain narrative that he's a racist and that he's just a force for racism.  I think there's a lot of truth to that narrative, but a lot of people clearly have different narratives in their head.

And so I think people — we should be humble about generalizing across groups of people, especially people we have never met.  And so I think that.

The second thing is that the Republican Party really is the party of the — of people without college degrees, much more so than ever before.  We saw swings of moderates, swings of college-educated suburbanites to the Democratic Party.

And I think the Republican Party can — if they're going to be — feel good about this election, they can see the potential of a future party as a multiracial working-class party.  If they can win support across racial lines among those without college degrees, then that's a very viable party, and they should really focus all their attention on, what can we do for people without college degrees of all groups?

Judy Woodruff:  What about that, Mark?

And, as you look at how people voted, which way they went, what do you see?  What does it tell you about us?

Mark Shields:  Picking up on what David said, you can't make generalizations about people you do know, David.  You have to make generalizations about people you don't know.


But the point is that David touched on it on the white blue-collar male vote, one out of three voters in the country.

This was the backbone of the Democratic coalition that elected Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, and Jack Kennedy.  It was the message of the entire New Deal, Fair Deal, and New Frontier, that government had a responsibility to guarantee jobs, that you weren't the nation of self-reliance and independence completely, especially in the face of a Great Depression.

But the important thing to remember is that the 346 firefighters who walked into the jaws of death and the fires of hell on September 11 to save strangers that never met and gave their lives so doing were white non-college males, for the most part.

Those who volunteer to defend our country, whether it's joining the Marine Corps or the armed forces, and fight and die, it's their families, and they're the families of white, overwhelmingly white, not-college-educated males.

And the Democrats' problem, I think, is one of attitude as much as it is of platform.  I mean, the Democrats, that were once a shot and a beer party have become a Sauvignon blanc party arguing about which wine is more sensitive.

And I really — I really do think this is a problem for Democrats.  And they have to — they have to approach with some humility this very important constituency, which Donald Trump beat them almost 2-1 and beat Joe Biden, I mean, who is really probably the personification of what the New Deal was, in terms of personal style, personal values, and personality.

So, he wasn't beating an elitist Ivy Leaguer.  So I think that's a real problem for Democrats.  And I would add the Hispanics.  I think we have learned painfully, did Democrats, that they're there anything but a monolithic constituency, as most proved by the results in Florida.

Judy Woodruff:  I want to turn you, David, to the president's reaction so far to the results of the lashing out, the accusations of fraud and the rest of it.

How much does all that matter?  I mean, does the delay in announcing — in knowing the result, how much will that matter in the end?

David Brooks:  Yes, well, I thought the President in his press conference last night was awful, horrific, if we weren't used to him, but also wan.  He looked like he was not really fighting; he was just constructing rationalizations for a man who can admit that he can lose at anything.

And I think I have been heartened, I mean, as we heard from William and others, that there is a lot of crazy stuff going around on the Internet, a lot of conspiracy theories, as if the Democrats have this elaborate vote-rigging thing in which they lose the Senate.  Like, it doesn't pass even surface plausibility.

But what has heartened me is that, so far, our system seems to be holding better than many people feared.  A lot of Republicans are happy to see Trump go and are ushering statements or just non-statements and not getting on this train.

And state legislators in places like Pennsylvania have said, we're not getting involved in this.  And the nightmare scenario was that you would get competing slates of electors from places like Pennsylvania.  But that would require the complicity of a lot of the politicians in these states.

Judy Woodruff:  Yes.

David Brooks:  And, so far, they don't want to get involved.

So, that's — I think the system is doing way better than we could have feared.

Judy Woodruff:  You do have Lindsey Graham out there echoing what the President is saying.

David Brooks:  Oh, yes, for sure, there are some.  And FOX is divided.  The all-important FOX News seems to be divided.

But, so far, we have not seen violence that much in the streets.  So far, it looks like calmer than many predicted.

Judy Woodruff:  Mark, what's your — what is your take on the President and how he is reacting so far and what it says?


Mark Shields:  David, he's younger and more optimistic.

I have to say, I haven't found that many good Germans among the Republicans who are resisting the — just think, Judy.  The President, before the largest audience in the history of humankind, according to him, took an oath to solidly preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

I just wish he would reflect on that for 30 seconds.  What he is doing is undermining confidence and trust in our — in each other, in our country, in our ways.

I have been incredibly impressed by the quality of the secretaries of state who have come on, almost overwhelmingly women, Republicans and Democrats, who have explained what they're doing, have done it in a thoughtful and informed and intelligent way.  I have been impressed by the seriousness of purpose that the people have taken in counting.

But I'm waiting for the Republicans.  I'm waiting for Rob Portman of Ohio, who everybody says is such a good guy.  I'm waiting for him to stand up and say, no, Mr.  President, this is wrong.

And we're hearing from the usual suspects.  Lindsey Graham makes Tonto look like an independent spirit when it comes to President Trump.

Judy Woodruff:  And, David, here at the end, I mean, you're not worried about the fact that — I mean, we don't know how long it's going to take.  I mean, there may be a call tonight, for all we know, but it is taking days.

Do you have concern that leaves — casts a pall over this somehow?

David Brooks:  Well, for sure.

I mean, there will be a large number of Americans who — if Biden wins, who think Joe Biden is an illegitimate President.  We're not — we shouldn't pretend that we're ending an age of polarization.

I'm just hopeful.  We're having a different sort of polarization.

Donald Trump was a cultural figure.  He was not a policy person, not a government person.  It was always: My tribe is good.  Your tribe is evil.

And so we have had that kind of polarization.  I'm hopeful, if Donald Trump is off the scene, at least there won't be a guy at the top waging a holy war against another identity group every single day.

And so I'm sticking with my blind and completely unrealistic optimism, no matter what's Mark says.

Judy Woodruff:  All right, we're going to let you do that, David Brooks.  And we're all going to wait and see what happens.

David Brooks, Mark Shields, thank you.

VOTE 2020 - Rundown Friday 11/06/2020

"Biden campaign remains confident as Trump escalates false claimsPBS NewsHour 11/06/2020


SUMMARY:  Former Vice President Joe Biden is leading President Trump in three of the five states yet to be called by the Associated Press.  Still, it’s not clear when vote counting will conclude.  Meanwhile, Trump lashed out at the voting process in a Thursday news briefing, and his campaign is filing lawsuits to challenge results.  Yamiche Alcindor reports and joins John Yang and Judy Woodruff to discuss.



"When election disinformation is a domestic threatPBS NewsHour 11/06/2020


SUMMARY:  The week has seen a flood of disinformation about the election -- much of it coming from President Trump and his allies.  In addition to false claims about voter fraud, there have been allegations that polling firms conspired to discourage Trump supporters from voting, and social media misinformation remains difficult to control.  William Brangham joins Judy Woodruff to discuss facts vs. falsehoods.



"The data behind some surprising election resultsPBS NewsHour 11/06/2020


SUMMARY:  What trends and shifts accounted for unexpected election results this week?  Amna Nawaz and Lisa Desjardins take a look at data from Pennsylvania, Georgia, Iowa, and more states critical to the outcomes of the presidential race and the balance of power in the House and Senate.

VOTE 2020 - Rundown Thursday 11/05/2020

"The stark difference between Trump’s and Biden’s responses to vote countingPBS NewsHour 11/05/2020


SUMMARY:  The outcome of the presidential race is still unknown, as a handful of states continue counting ballots.  In the meantime, legal challenges to the electoral process and protests are being mounted.  Lisa Desjardins reports, and Yamiche Alcindor and John Yang join Judy Woodruff to discuss President Trump’s “misinformation machine” and how the Biden campaign is responding to Trump’s court action.



"The status of vote counts in Pennsylvania, Michigan and GeorgiaPBS NewsHour 11/05/2020


SUMMARY:  What’s happening on the ground in the critical states where ballots are still being counted -- and how many votes remain to be totaled?  Judy Woodruff gets updates from Daniel Bush in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, William Brangham in Detroit, Michigan, and Miles O’Brien in Atlanta, Georgia.



"Key House and Senate races that have yet to be calledPBS NewsHour 11/05/2020


SUMMARY:  Although uncertainty over the presidential race’s outcome is the dominant political story, there are still important congressional contests to settle, as well.  Amna Nawaz and Lisa Desjardins provide an update on electoral votes, key Senate races in Georgia and North Carolina and the shifting balance of power in the House of Representatives.



"Arizona’s top election official on security of vote-counting processPBS NewsHour 11/05/2020


SUMMARY:  Ballots are still being counted in the battleground state of Arizona, although the Associated Press called the state for Joe Biden on Wednesday.  Officials are set to release more vote totals later Thursday evening.  Arizona’s top election official, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, joins Judy Woodruff to discuss processes and progress, the presence of election observers and the threat of litigation.

VOTE 2020 - Rundown Wednesday 11/04/2020

"Trump lashes out at vote counting as Biden urges patiencePBS NewsHour 11/04/2020


SUMMARY:  With votes still being counted in several states, the outcome of the U.S. presidential election remains unknown.  Former Vice President Joe Biden expressed confidence in his chance of winning but urged Americans to be patient for results.  President Trump, meanwhile, launched unfounded attacks on the integrity of the vote.  Yamiche Alcindor reports and joins Judy Woodruff and John Yang to discuss.



"Presidential election updates from 5 key statesPBS NewsHour 11/04/2020


SUMMARY:  Several U.S. states were still counting ballots Wednesday, and some of them will decide the outcome of the presidential race.  We get updates from Daniel Bush in Pennsylvania, William Brangham in Michigan, Zac Schultz of PBS Wisconsin, Miles O’Brien in Georgia, and John Ralston of the Nevada Independent about the election status in those five states.



"How the GOP unexpectedly gained ground in the HousePBS NewsHour 11/04/2020


SUMMARY:  What shifts in the electoral map drove results in the 2020 presidential and congressional races?  Amna Nawaz and Lisa Desjardins review the data behind outcomes for President Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden and party control of the House and Senate.



"What happened with the suburban voters Democrats were targeting?PBS NewsHour 11/04/2020


SUMMARY:  Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report and host of the podcast “Politics with Amy Walter” has been analyzing the results of Tuesday’s election.  She joins Judy Woodruff to provide insights and help us understand why voters made the decisions they did.



"What we know about vote counting and election-related lawsuitsPBS NewsHour 11/04/2020


SUMMARY:  President Trump has made it clear he is willing to challenge the results of state vote counts that have not yet been completed.  What legal recourse do candidates have in this situation?  Amna Nawaz talks to Tammy Patrick, an expert on election administration with the Democracy Fund and a former Arizona election official, and Stanford Law School’s Nate Persily of the Healthy Elections Project.



"Michigan’s secretary of state on the process of counting votesPBS NewsHour 11/04/2020


SUMMARY:  Former Vice President Joe Biden was declared the winner of Michigan’s electoral votes Wednesday evening by the Associated PressAlthough some votes are still being counted, Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s Secretary of State, said she has been impressed by the efficiency of election workers in delivering accurate results.  Benson joins Judy Woodruff to discuss Michigan’s process and progress.

VOTE 2020 - Rundown Monday 11/02/2020

"What Trump and Biden are telling supporters as campaigns wind downPBS NewsHour 11/02/2020


SUMMARY:  As the final hours of the 2020 presidential campaign tick away, nearly 100 million Americans have already cast their ballots -- representing more than two-thirds of all 2016 votes.  Meanwhile, the candidates appealed to voters in swing states, including Pennsylvania, which is shaping up to play a critical role.  Yamiche Alcindor reports and joins Judy Woodruff and Lisa Desjardins to discuss.



"Why Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs are ‘absolutely critical’ for BidenPBS NewsHour 11/02/2020

SUMMARY:  Pennsylvania could be a critical milestone in any path to victory during this presidential contest.  Daniel Bush is on the ground in the swing state, and he joins Judy Woodruff to discuss why Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs are so important to both candidates, how local election officials are preparing for the vote count and when we might have an understanding of the state’s results.



"Trump and Biden representatives on final campaign strategiesPBS NewsHour 11/02/2020 Excerpt

SUMMARY:  President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are making their final pitches to voters in the presidential campaign’s closing hours.  We check in with representatives for each: Erin Perrine, communications director for Trump’s reelection campaign, and Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to Biden.  They join Judy Woodruff to discuss strategies and messages for the lead-up to Election Day.



"Why some Americans have chosen not to vote this yearPBS NewsHour 11/02/2020 Excerpt

SUMMARY:  In most recent American elections, about four in 10 eligible voters didn’t cast ballots.  Tens of millions are poised to do the same this year.  What are non-voters saying about their rationale for sitting out the election -- one that both candidates and many Americans consider the most important in the country’s modern history?