Bits ‘n’ Pieces: November 19, 2020

By Lorraine H. Marie
Reader Columnist

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact. A recent sampling:

Presidential candidate Kanye West had approximately 60,000 ballots cast for him in the 2020 General Election, according to TIME. He had been courted by Trump affiliates to run, hoping the mega-star recording artist would siphon votes from former-Vice President Joe Biden. Now President-elect Biden won by the highest percentage of the popular vote of any candidate since 1932 and is currently 5.6 million votes ahead of incumbent President Donald Trump. 

According to U.S. law, state electors are presumably valid if chosen by Dec. 8; electors then cast their votes on Dec. 14 and, on Jan. 6, the newly sworn-in Congress counts the results and the vice president pronounces them as official. The Washington Post has reported, however, that Trump is proposing state legislators pick electors favorable to him to create “a viable path to an electoral college victory,” and this is “being considered at the highest levels.”

The Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council, composed of federal, state and local officials, declared that the 2020 election was “the most secure in American history” and “there is no evidence of tampering with any voting systems.” Meanwhile, the Trump campaign has alleged that some computers in some states switched Trump votes to Biden votes.

There was an all-time high of 181,000 new COVID-19 cases in just one day in the U.S. last week, with 1,389 deaths that day. But in the Senate, instead of focusing on COVID 19 financial aid, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has ignored the House COVID 19 aid proposal (which includes an extension of unemployment benefits). McConnell is instead focusing on confirming federal judges. Republican Senators have also proposed an additional $696 billion for the Pentagon.

“We had an opportunity twice over the past eight months to bring [COVID 19] down to safer levels and we failed. We are on the verge of losing control of this pandemic,” Jack Chow, a health official under former-President George W. Bush, told The Post. Chow said it’s the duty of the president to protect national security, “and this is the most prominent disease of mass destruction America’s ever faced, and we have a commander in chief who has run away from the problem and has made it worse.”

After reaching 270 electoral votes, the president-elect normally begins the transition process, including daily national security briefings and transition team members meeting with executive branch staff. But so far the administrator of the General Services Administration is blocking that process. Media are speculating that it’s not just spite at work: Trump may be worried about how the briefings could cast his leadership in a poor light. Biden is taking preparatory action anyway, especially regarding COVID 19, and has pointed out that his vice president-elect sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, providing access to some information.

The Associated Press analyzed 376 counties with the highest COVID-19 cases and found that the Trump vote prevailed in 93% of those counties.

Contrary to expectations, time-out for COVID 19 has not resulted in a baby boom. Professors of economics at Wellesley College reported that every 1% increase in unemployment typically results in a 1.4% drop in the birth rate. One fallout pointed out by TIME: fewer potential military recruits.

Blast from the past: In the 1850s the Republican Party stood up to wealthy southern slaveholders, the latter being just 1% of the American South, where they ran the Democratic Party and defended slavery, according to Boston University History Professor Heather C. Richardson. To amass power beyond their 1%, the southern Dems sought to draw poor whites to their cause, saying that freeing Blacks would elevate them above poor whites. South Carolina Sen. James Hammond saw the threat to the southern elite’s comfortable lifestyle if Blacks could vote, and warned that would lead to society being reconstructed, the government overthrown and property divided. That was the backdrop for Lincoln’s run for the presidency, and his platform of supporting ordinary men over the wealthy. He won the 1860 election and the South withdrew from the Union. After an expensive Civil War, a national system of taxation was created, including an income tax to pay for it. When the North prevailed under Lincoln, he reminded the nation that “government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

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