Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Oct. 8, 2020

By Lorraine H. Marie
Reader Columnist

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

Annual federal taxes paid, according to Americans for Tax Fairness: average of $5,400 for a nurse or schoolteacher; $3,400 for firefighters; $1,150 for child care workers. President Donald Trump paid $750 in 2016 and 2017. According to Forbes, presidential challenger Joe Biden paid $300,000 in 2019.

A long list of White House staff and Trump associates tested positive for COVID-19, it was determined, after he and his wife tested positive last week. The spread of the virus there may have begun as early as Sept. 27 at a mostly mask-free event for the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

The first 2020 presidential debate between former Vice President Joe Biden and Trump occurred several days later on Sept. 29. Biden, who Trump has taunted for wearing a mask, has tested negative. Testing for the virus at the White House is performed using the Abbott ID Now test; The Guardian reports the test is known for “a significant percentage of false negatives.”

Before leaving Walter Reed Hospital on Oct. 5, Trump undertook a short motorcade tour, prompting a doctor there to tweet that it will require a 14-day quarantine for all involved, and some may die “for theater. This is insanity.” Translated: Trump was still infectious. 

As of Oct. 6 there were more than 210,426 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S, The New York Times reported. 

There have been numerous calls to the Presidential Commission on Debates to remedy the out-of-control process demonstrated at the first Biden-Trump debate. Many, including former Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, are calling for cutting off the mic for interrupting. Gibbs pointed out that all the interruptions rendered the event “not a debate.” Democracy Now noted that Trump interrupted during Biden’s allotted speaking time at least 128 times during the 90-minute event. 

Former presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg helped raise more than $16 million recently to pay the “poll tax” for felons who’ve been prevented from voting in Florida because they were not able to pay off fines, restitution and court fees, The Guardian reported. The money will go to felons who owe $1,500 or less, amounting to approximately 31,000 people. The 2000 presidential election in Florida was decided by 537 votes. According to NBC, Trump and Biden have been tied in Florida. 

The Sept. 29 Trump-Biden debate put fact-checkers into overtime mode, dispeling both falsehoods and distortions. A report in the Chicago Tribune paralleled other media reports. 

Examples: Trump said the sheriff of Oregon’s Multnomah County publicly stated his support for Trump. But the sheriff was quick to tweet that he never has and never will support Trump. Trump said drug prices will come down 80% to 90%; fact-checkers said there’s no plan that would accomplish that and current administration plans appear headed for court. At the debate Trump said there have been no COVID-19 problems “whatsoever” at his rallies; fact-checkers noted surges in cases of the virus after the Tulsa rally. Trump accused Biden of doing a “disastrous” job with the swine flu pandemic of 2009-’10, which killed 12,500 people. Fact-checkers said under Trump’s slow response there have been more than 200,000 COVID-19 deaths over the course of about six months. 

Regarding Biden’s debate talk, he said violent crime decreased “17%, 15%, in our administration.” Fact-checkers said it fell about 10% from 2008 and then went up 8% between 2014 and 2016. But Trump portrayed crime as becoming rampant again, whereas an FBI report says violent crime has decreased in the past three years. Biden said the military used tear gas on peaceful protesters; fact-checkers said it was police, not the military, who used chemical irritants, and not all the protesters were peaceful. Biden said Trump would be the first president in U.S. history to lose jobs; fact checkers said that distinction goes to Herbert Hoover. Nonetheless, Trump would be the first to lose jobs during his first term since Hoover was in office. Biden falsely said Trump’s Supreme Court nominee finds the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, but fact-checkers say she’s been critical of it but never said it was unconstitutional. 

Blast from the past:  “The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security for all.” President John F. Kennedy.

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