What we learned from Joe Biden during the final debate We watched the entire final debate of the 2020 presidential election, and wow what a difference a debate makes! We learned that President Trump is really Abraham Lincoln who time traveled to the future to defeat Joe Biden. We learned that Biden will make face masks mandatory and keep the nation closed until no one has a sniffle or cold. We also learned the latest domestic terrorists are Poor Boy sandwiches and should stand down and stay on your plate, preferably with a pickle. We are being demonized by the media, You can help by making a small donation at our support page Joe Biden also told us that Hunter did nothing wrong and the whole laptop controversy is just a “smear job”. Did you know the United States got along great with Hitler? Joe Biden said we were best buds until that whole WWII misunderstanding. And finally Joe Biden let the entire country know, in no uncertain terms, that he would get rid of the entire gas and oil industry. Even the moderator looked shocked at that statement. Joe lied and lied some more. He blamed everything on Orange man. And by the end of the debate, it was obvious the medications were wearing off, Joe started drooping and slurring his words and fell back into platitudes and saying “Period” over and over. Trump looked Presidential and in control. He was clearly the winner. So don’t fall for the Democrats gas lighting. Biden lost and looked bad. Biden won’t last 30 days into his presidency, and you will be calling Kamala “Madame President” if the Democrats steal the election. We can’t let them destroy the country, so take all your friends and family and get out there and vote! God Bless America! Grrr-Team Ben Garrison Original Cartoon Now Available! Reserve your art today! Click to view Note: We are an Amazon Associate. Your purchases on Amazon via our links will support Ben and Tina’s cartoons- At no extra cost to you! Please click and send some love! Amazon Home Page More Cartoons
Despite President Donald Trump's claims, the U.S. military likely won't play much of a role in distributing a COVID-19 vaccine. "We have a vaccine that's coming, it's ready," Trump said near the start of Thursday's presidential debate. "It's going to be announced within weeks, and it's going to be delivered. We have Operation Warp Speed, which is the military, is going to distribute the vaccine." Trump has been using variations of this line for months—as far back as May, he was talking about "mobilizing" the military for vaccine distribution—but his own medical and military officials say it's simply not true. Once a vaccine is developed, it will be handled the same way as any other: distributed by pharmaceutical companies through doctors' offices and pharmacies. "Our best military assessment is that there is sufficient U.S. commercial transportation capacity to fully support vaccine distribution," Department of Defense (DOD) spokesman Charles Pritchard told American Shipper, a logistics industry publication, last month. "There should be no need for a large commitment of DOD units or personnel to support the nationwide distribution of vaccines." "For the overwhelming majority of Americans," Paul Mango of the Department of Health and Human Services told The New York Times, "there will be no federal official who touches any of this vaccine before it's injected into Americans." In July, McClatchy reported that the military commands responsible for homeland defense and the National Guard have not even been asked to prepare a plan for the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine. In any case, Trump's focus on distributing the vaccine is a bit premature. The CEOs of pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Pfizer have claimed that their COVID-19 vaccines may be ready by the end of this year or in early 2021, but Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief Robert Redfield has warned that there may not be a vaccine widely available until "late second quarter, third quarter 2021." It's true that some military resources are involved in Operation Warp Speed, the public-private partnership that aims to invent, produce, and deliver 300 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine by January 2021. But once a vaccine is developed, any military involvement, according to Pritchard, would likely be just "to deliver vaccines to a remote location only if no other means of transportation is feasible." Unless you're really committed to social distancing—living in an isolated shack in the middle of Alaska, perhaps—your COVID-19 vaccine will probably be distributed just like your flu shot: through your local doctor's office or pharmacy.
Thursday night's final presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was notable in that neither man rushed to the defense of America's tendency to throw people in jail to serve long sentences for crimes, even if both men have records of wanting to do so. Biden reiterated his position on the drug war, that rather than arresting and imprisoning people for drug use, these people should be helped via drug courts and mandatory drug treatment. (Biden also claimed that Republicans don't support drug courts, which isn't true: President George W. Bush's National Drug Control Strategy touted the local use of drug courts.) Biden probably thinks he's advocating for something good, as do the Democrats who included this position in the party's 2020 platform, which says that nobody should be incarcerated "solely because they use drugs" and instead calls for diversionary treatment and drug courts. The problem is that this position is simply perpetuating the drug war, but in a way that seems kindly and more accommodating. It operates on the incorrect assumption that every single person who uses illegal drugs is an addict who needs intervention in order to stop. Biden's view, to be fair, could be influenced by his experiences with his son Hunter's struggles with addiction. But the drug court system is overly reliant on the threat of incarceration as part of its very operating system. Drug courts often require that anybody who wants the "mercy" of the court plead guilty, give up the rights, and confess to an addiction—one they may not have—in order to avoid jail. Look at this description from 2007 of a court-supervised drug diversion program in Harris County, Texas, called Success Through Addiction Recovery (STAR), praised by the Bush administration. The report brags about the fact that some people find participating in the drug court to be harsher than incarceration and turn it down: A highly structured, 3-phase treatment program, STAR involves 12-step programs or approved alternatives, group and individual treatment and counseling programs, frequent random drug testing, and regular interaction with the judges. Although designed to last at least 12 months, there is no "automatic" graduation from STAR. To graduate and successfully reenter society, participants must take certain positive steps to become drug and crime free, including demonstrating continued sobriety through drug testing and getting an education or obtaining gainful employment. Even after graduation from the program, STAR clients must participate in aftercare for a minimum of 12 months. Graduates must continue to report to a case manager who monitors their sobriety, and successful discharge is determined on a case-by-case basis. The report says that "the folks of STAR must be doing something right." But subsequent research of drug court operations has shown that, in reality, drug courts in some cities have led to increased police crackdowns on drug users. A report from 2018 from the nonprofit Social Science Research Council examined drug court systems in the United States and Latin America and found that in many cities, the existence of drug courts actually drove up arrests for simple drug possession. And because these drug courts are so demanding, as the STAR program bragged, people sometimes fail to comply. When they do, they end up in jail, the very same place these programs are supposed to be diverting from. The 2018 report found that, in New York City, people who failed drug court ended up with jail sentences higher than those who just pleaded guilty and didn't bother with diversion at all. When it comes down to it, forcing everybody found to be using drugs into drug courts and treatment is putting a gloss of false kindness and caring on a harsh government system of mandates that punishes people not for harming others or their property but for what they do with their own bodies. Mandatory drug treatment means that these policies Biden supports must be backed up with additional penalties for those who aren't cooperative. People who are addicted and do need assistance genuinely should be able to seek out help, and government social services could be useful there. Drug courts might be a useful tool for approaching those whose drug addictions have led them to commit other crimes as well. But a system where the drug use itself still brings with it a threat of punishment is not a system that is ending the drug war. It is admirable of Biden not to abandon Hunter to addiction and to continue to love him and try to help him as needed. But he's also attempting to force policies on everybody that may not be as bad as the mass incarceration of the 1980s and '90s, but nevertheless still perpetuate the failed war on drugs.
In December 2013, Politifact, which bills itself as a nonpartisan political fact-checking operation, awarded its lowest honor to President Barack Obama, for "Lie of the Year." On more than 30 occasions, Obama had promised that under the Affordable Care Act, the health law often referred to as Obamacare, no one would lose their health care plan involuntarily. "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan," Obama said. This was simply not true. Obamacare's health insurance exchanges, the government-run online portals for purchasing individual market health insurance, launched in October 2013. In the weeks and months that followed, millions of people received notices that their existing insurance plans would be canceled as a direct result of the law. The exact number of cancellations is difficult to pin down, but Politifact, in making its award, cited a figure of around 4 million. Other contemporaneous estimates suggested the number could be higher. "Boiling down the complicated health care law to a soundbite proved treacherous," Politifact noted years later in a review of "Lie of the Year" award winners. "Obama and his team made matters worse, suggesting the claim had been misunderstood all along." Obama had made the promise in order to ease fears about coverage loss and health care disruption that had helped to doom a health policy overhaul under President Bill Clinton nearly two decades earlier. And he had done so knowing it wasn't true. As the Wall Street Journal reported in November 2013, White House aides questioned the claim in internal discussions. But in the end, they didn't want to complicate what was already a difficult political messaging operation. As the Journal noted at the time: Administration officials worried "that delving into details such as the small number of people who might lose insurance could be confusing and would clutter the president's message." Obama lied. And he did so for political reasons—to sell the public on major legislation on a promise he knew wasn't true. At last night's final presidential debate, Joe Biden, who is both the current Democratic presidential nominee and Obama's former vice president, repeated that lie. "Not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan, nor did they under Obamacare," he said. "They did not lose their insurance unless they chose they wanted to go to something else." Biden made this statement as a rejoinder to President Donald Trump's accusation that Biden's health care plan would eliminate private insurance. As Biden noted, that is not true: Biden's proposal would set up a government-run health insurance plan known as a public option that would be sold along with private health insurance options. It might degrade private insurance options, and would likely mean that fewer people are covered via private insurance, especially as time goes on. But unlike the Medicare for All plan proposed by Biden's one-time rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), which would outlaw virtually all private coverage in the space of just four years, Biden's plan would not end private coverage. Trump's attack on Biden's health care plan was false, as it has been before. But Biden's claim about Obamacare was false as well. And given the notoriety of that particular false promise—Politifact's award was announced on CNN and covered in The Washington Post, Politico, NPR, and other major outlets, and Obama even apologized to people whose plans were canceled—Biden should have known better. In many ways, the health care portion of this debate resembled the health care portion of the prior debate: Trump, asked about his repeated and unfulfilled promises to put forth a replacement plan for Obamacare, dodged the question, saying that he had repealed the health law's individual mandate without specifying what he would do instead. Biden laid out his own plan to spend $750 billion expanding Obamacare's subsidies and building a new government-run health insurance plan. But there was one notable difference: This time, Biden said that, under his plan, "Obamacare" would become "Bidencare." Biden didn't just repeat Obama's lie. He put his name on it.
During last night's presidential debate, President Donald Trump implied that his response to the COVID-19 pandemic saved 2 million or so lives. "As you know, 2.2 million people, modeled out, were expected to die," he said. "We closed up the greatest economy in the world in order to fight this horrible disease." Trump also mentioned "what we've done in terms of goggles and masks and gowns and everything else, and in particular ventilators." Thanks to these policies, he said, "we're rounding the corner," and "it's going away." The recent rise in newly identified COVID-19 cases—which exceeded 74,000 nationwide yesterday, according to Worldometer's count—suggests the virus is not in fact "going away." And given the Trump administration's disastrous handling of the virus tests that were crucial to curtailing the epidemic in its early stages, the notion that the president deserves any credit for reducing COVID-19's impact—let alone for saving "millions" of lives, as Republicans claim—is debatable, to say the least. So is the idea that he was responsible for the lockdowns that all but a few states imposed last spring. Even if you think those lockdowns had an important impact on COVID-19 mortality, the decision to impose them was made by governors, not by Trump. Still, there is a big difference between the current tally of 223,000 deaths and the 2.2 million that Trump says were "expected." Doesn't that contrast suggest he did something right? Only if you think that worst-case scenario was at all plausible to begin with, which it wasn't. That projection, which Trump embraced at the end of March, was based on a counterfactual "no intervention" scenario that assumed Americans would carry on as usual in the face of the epidemic. That was demonstrably not true, since individuals and businesses were already responding to the threat posed by the virus through voluntary precautions such as limiting travel, avoiding crowds, reducing social interaction, working at home, and canceling events. The projection also assumed an infection fatality rate higher than the current "best estimate" from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Both of those assumptions were clearly dubious at the time. But projecting millions of COVID-19 deaths in the United States—which would make the disease as lethal as the Spanish flu of 1918, even after taking population growth into account—had two advantages. It scared Americans into accepting sweeping restrictions on social and economic activity with no precedent in U.S. history, and it allowed politicians like Trump to take credit for the difference between reality and the fantasy that was "modeled out." Democratic nominee Joe Biden, even while presenting himself as a sober, scientifically informed alternative to a feckless, irrationally optimistic president, engaged in similar scare tactics last night. "The expectation is we'll have another 200,000 Americans dead between now and the end of the year," he said. "If we just wore these masks, the president's own advisers have told him, we can save 100,000 lives." The current U.S. death toll, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, is about 223,000. Hence Biden, who made a similar claim during his first debate with Trump, is predicting that the number will nearly double by January 1. Is that plausible? While the seven-day average of newly confirmed cases in the United States has been rising since mid-September, daily deaths so far have risen only slightly. Given the lag between laboratory confirmation and death, we can expect to see a bigger increase in fatalities during the next few weeks. But judging from the experience with this summer's COVID-19 spike, the increase in deaths will not be nearly as large as the increase in cases. Between June 1 and late July, according to Worldometer's numbers, the seven-day average of daily new cases more than tripled. That was followed by a doubling in the seven-day average of daily deaths between early July and early August, after which the average dropped by 37 percent as of September 8. The CDC's "ensemble forecast," based on projections from "45 modeling groups," puts the death toll at 235,000 to 247,000 by November 14. Assuming that estimate is in the right ballpark, Biden is projecting at least another 176,000 deaths over six weeks, or more than 3,700 a day, more than four and half times the current seven-day average and two-thirds higher than the peak in April. That prediction is even less believable than the wildly wrong projection that the New York Times embraced in May, which said daily deaths would exceed 3,000 by June 1. The actual number was about 700. Biden left himself some wiggle room by suggesting that mask wearing could cut the number of additional deaths by the end of the year in half. But while the weight of the evidence indicates that wearing a mask is a sensible precaution, trying to quantify the impact of that practice is an even more dubious exercise than trying to project COVID-19 deaths. It is not even clear what threshold of mask wearing Biden has in mind, or how he would know whether it had been reached. Given Trump's record of self-contradiction, equivocation, bizarre medical suggestions, and excessive optimism, I would not trust anything he says about COVID-19. But I do not trust Biden either, since he seems equally willing to treat science as a tool to score political points and advance policies he already supports.
One of the best moments in the year's final presidential debate came during a moment of relative agreement: Both President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden repudiated the long legacy of politicians bragging about locking ever larger numbers of people up. Despite being a self-declared "law and order" candidate, Trump took Biden to task for the former senator and vice president's role in passing federal crime legislation that "put tens of thousands of mostly black young men in prison" while bragging about the "criminal justice reform, prison reform" he himself passed (such as 2018's FIRST STEP Act, which reduced the sentences of thousands of drug offenders). Trump also touted his record on granting clemency and pardons, which is ahead of the numbers that Barack Obama had at the same time in his presidency. While Trump erred in saying that Biden had called young black men "superpredators" back in the 1990s (that was Hillary Clinton), he was right that Biden was—in the words of Reason's Justin Monticello—"a leading architect of the modern criminal justice system, contributing to mass incarceration and the police misconduct that people are protesting today." Biden, who has run away from his indisputable tough-on-crime track record, stressed the leniency displayed by the federal government when he was vice president, noting several times the "38,000 prisoners [who] were released from federal prison" during the Obama administration. He even went so far to claim credit for starting the examination of police brutality in the wake of the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. "We were the ones that put in the legislation saying we could look at pattern and practice of police departments and what they were doing," he said, while apologizing for past legislation he supported. "We began the process, we lost an election, that's why I'm running to win back that election and change his terrible policy." An ardent drug warrior who helped create the office of the drug czar, called for the death penalty for various drug-trafficking crimes, and is still resistant to legalization of marijuana, Biden nonetheless said that there should be no federal mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses (he misspoke, calling them "minimum mandatories") and that "no one should be going to jail because they have a drug problem." Biden's reforms are heavy on dubious policies such as drug courts and mandatory treatment for arrested users, but they are less brutal than his past stances. For his part—and despite his longstanding criticism of recreational drug use, including drinking alcohol—Donald Trump has long supported legislation that would turn control over marijuana back to the states. If such moments of broad agreement were rare last night, they are no less welcome. The U.S. incarceration rate (federal, state, and local) peaked in 2008, but America still boasts the world's highest incarceration rate (about 665 people per 100,000 population), higher than such open-air prisons as Cuba (510) and Turkmenistan (583). So there is still much to be done. In the final days of a remarkably mean-spirited presidential race, it's good to see the Republican and Democratic nominees touting the number of people they've let out of jail rather than beating their chests about how many bad guys they've put away. Major political change tends to happen when both parties have reached a consensus, not when they're fighting against one another. This is true of positive changes (civil rights legislation passed with large majorities) and negative ones (as Biden himself noted, much of the tough-on-crime legislation he pushed had nearly unaminous support). Last night's rough agreement on criminal justice reform is a sign that the carceral state is on the wane.
After that disastrous first presidential debate in September, Donald Trump and Joe Biden managed to pull it together for round two. A lot of the words out of President Trump's mouth last night were still incomprehensible or untrue, but he generally managed to wait his turn to say them and do so in his soft voice. Biden also kept his cool, as Trump repeatedly accused the Democratic presidential nominee and his son Hunter of being involved in shady foreign business dealings. Trump wound snippets of this theory—which originates with Rudy Giuliani and was published by the New York Post—throughout what was otherwise a fairly subdued and substantive second debate. If you closely follow election news and online media/tech controversies, much of what Trump said on stage last night may have been familiar, or at least not inscrutable. But less extremely plugged-in voters can't have known what to make of Trump's scattered insinuations and accusations about the Biden family. Trump careened wildly between random pieces of his Biden conspiracy theory, wielding references to laptops, nicknames, and Anthony Bobulinski like weapons without ever explaining fundamentally what he was talking about. (If you're curious about Bobulinski, who was Trump's guest at the debate last night, check out this Wall Street Journal article, which found "no role for Joe Biden" in a Chinese oil venture that Bobulinski was trying to set up with Hunter Biden and several other partners in 2017.) Trump—accustomed to slagging Biden in front of his online fan club, at adoring campaign rallies, and to Fox News sycophants—treated the general audience for last night's debate as if they, too, obviously kept up with the same preoccupations as right-wing Twitter. It was a symptom of a malady Jane Coaston diagnosed in detail yesterday: "Trump's presidential campaign is too online": To be Extremely Online is not simply to be literally connected to the internet (as you likely are at this very moment), but to be deeply enmeshed in a world of internet culture, reshaped by internet culture, and, most importantly, to believe that the world of internet culture matters deeply offline. Being Extremely Online is both a reformation of the delivery of ideas—shared through words and videos and memes and GIFs and copypasta—and the ideas themselves, a world in which Twitter effectiveness counts as political effectiveness despite Twitter's comparatively small audience. The importance of those ideas is then judged not by their real-world impact but on their corresponding popularity or infamy in the world of Online. A trending topic on Twitter becomes a critical locus of entirely online discussion, a Facebook post becomes an infamous online reference for months to come, an entire infrastructure can arise to foment the celebrity of a person you would have never heard of had you not baked in the furnace of being Extremely Online. It's also clearly a reaction to Democrats focusing for years on alleged Trump ties to Russia and Ukraine, as well as what seems like an attempt to make this Biden Crime Family business play the role that Hillary Clinton's private email server did in 2016. Trump's insinuations last night may have been convoluted and without merit, but they were able to draw Biden into back-and-forth accusations about who was the real foreign stooge—exchanges that gave Trump another chance to claim that Democrats are still obsessed with Russia. The question is: Does anyone outside the ranks of either party's most rabid bases really care? "Foreign meddling" news fatigue set in long ago. It's hard to believe either candidate benefited from these exchanges. Americans say they hate mudslinging, especially when it's removed from everyday issues. If you don't know anything more than what you're seeing on stage last night, you probably thought this was, at best, politics as usual—at worse, a sign that the whole system is corrupt and neither candidate is worth backing. The most contentious moments of last night's debate came over immigration, with Trump knocking Biden for horrible policies that the Obama/Biden administration started—and that Trump continued and expanded. Who built the cages is Trump's rejoinder? If he had torn them down it would be one thing. But he filled them! — shikha sood dalmia (@shikhadalmia) October 23, 2020 Trump's question "Who built the cages?" ignores that his administration deliberately undertook a policy that predictably expanded the practice a lot—and some admin figures said that expansion was part of the point. — Ramesh Ponnuru (@RameshPonnuru) October 23, 2020 Asked about the 545 migrant children who were separated from their parents on Trump's orders and whose parents now can't be found, Trump said they were being well taken care of. Just in case anyone is following me who's writing a fact check on this, most of the 545 kids whose parents still haven't been contacted have been released to sponsors (generally relatives) in the US. So Trump's "well taken care of" is total BS, but not for the reason you assume. — Dara Lind (@DLind) October 23, 2020 More Reason coverage of the second presidential debate: QUICK HITS • The Republican antitrust lawsuit is a progressive dream. • New research finds "that sanctuary policies reduce deportations by one-third, but that those policies do not reduce deportations of people with violent criminal convictions. It also finds that sanctuary has no measurable effect on crime." • Yet another anti-Section 230 bill (see also): #Section230 emerging reg track: Stop Suppressing Speech Act of 2020: bill text: https://t.co/EDN2qwoCzN 230 red line: https://t.co/zMmc2bYtxq 230 bill tracker: https://t.co/twoOfZMBcs — Jess Miers (@jess_miers) October 22, 2020 • Peter Suderman explains that Rudy Giuliani scene in Borat. • The White House is once again spreading fake news about human trafficking: 23K calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline do NOT = 23K human trafficking victims. @Polaris_Project can clarify this. They just signed https://t.co/jXvTqNf4lM https://t.co/gEZnHdLbHh — Carol Fenton (@cfpdx) October 22, 2020 • Is it "the end of the world for classical liberalism"?
One administration built the cages. Another administration filled them. Who is actually to blame? That question occupied President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden for a good portion of the time allotted to a discussion of immigration during Thursday's debate, the last of the 2020 campaign season. Trump blamed the Obama administration for "building cages to keep children in" and (technically correctly) argued that he had been falsely maligned for inventing inhumane immigration enforcement practices that he inherited from his predecessor. Biden, meanwhile, blamed Trump for ramping up the cruelty by separating families who crossed the border without authorization—a policy that has somewhat predictably resulted in the federal immigration bureaucracy losing track of the families of more than 500 migrant children. Here's the thing: They're both right. The Trump administration's family separation policy is a nightmare. More than 2,800 children have been taken away from their families since the Trump administration's new "zero tolerance" policy was implemented, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Trump officials believed the policy would deter more families from trying to cross the border unlawfully. And that new policy was implemented by the order of Trump's first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, over the complaints and warnings of top immigration lawyers in the Justice Department. It is entirely fair to lay this whole mess at Trump's feet. But those excesses were made possible because the Obama administration oversaw a huge escalation in federal immigration enforcement and deportations. Trump talks a tougher game on immigration, but Obama still holds the inglorious record for the most deportations in a single year. And, yes, Trump is correct that the detention facilities his administration has filled to the brim were built during the Obama administration, which also caged immigrant kids—albeit under less common circumstances than the Trump administration has done. The Trump administration's approach to immigration enforcement has been aggressive and deliberately punitive in a way that Obama's was not. Beyond the appalling family separation policy, Trump's sought to restrict both legal and illegal immigration in ways that no president in recent history has. He's shifted one of America's two major parties in a nationalist, xenophobic direction—or perhaps he owes his success to the fact that it had already shifted that direction, but that's no better—and elevated people like Stephen Miller to places where they can set policy. That's all horrifically bad. But he was only able to do most of that because previous presidential administrations—not just Obama and Biden, but plenty of others before it—built a powerful leviathan dedicated to preventing the free movement of people. During Thursday night's debate, Biden promised that he'd send Congress a major immigration reform that would include a "pathway to citizenship" for undocumented immigrants within 100 days of taking office. But it's fair to ask, as Trump did several times, why that wasn't done already. "He had eight years and he did nothing except build cages to keep children in," Trump said. If Biden gets another shot at one of the top spots in the executive branch, maybe he'll take a lesson from all this. Before you start building cages, you should ask yourself how your political opponents might use them.
Former Vice President and Democratic nominee Joe Biden wants to help small businesses during the pandemic by raising their labor costs with a minimum wage hike. "I do," said Biden in response to a question at tonight's debate about whether now is the time to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, before going on an extended riff about the need for a federal small business bailout. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. "We have to help our small businesses by raising the minimum wage? That's not helping" shot back an incredulous Trump. "How are you helping small businesses when you're forcing wages [up]? What's going to happen and what's been proven to happen is when you do that these small businesses fire many of their employees." "There is no evidence that when you raise the minimum wage businesses to go out of business," rebutted Biden, saying that a minimum wage hike was needed to increase the pay of first responders. Trump, in response to a prompt from debate moderator Kristen Welker, said he would consider raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, but also said it should be left up to the states, saying "Alabama is different from New York. New York is different from Vermont. It should be a state option." Make of that what you will. Back in July 2019, the Congressional Budget Office released a report finding that a $15 federal hourly minimum wage would result in 1.3 million workers losing their jobs, while raising pay for another 17 million workers. While the effects of the minimum wage on unemployment are not without controversy, most studies find they lead to higher unemployment or disemployment (where firms hire fewer workers over time, give current workers fewer hours, or outsource more tasks to machines or customers.) A detailed study commissioned by the Seattle city government to examine its own $15 minimum wage found that worker pay rose about 3 percent but hours worked fell by 6 to 7 percent. These disemployment effects were hardest on the lowest paid, least experienced workers. That means the proposed wage increase won't only hurt businesses, it'll likely hurt workers too. A lot of the debate and empirical evidence about the effects of raising the minimum wage is predicated on more normal economic circumstances where a global pandemic isn't scaring away customers, of course, and local and state governments aren't forcibly closing businesses or requiring them to operate at reduced capacity. In the current environment, wage hikes would likely be devastating for the countless mom-and-pop operations on the verge of failure. In fact, many of those small businesses are already maxed out as they struggle to keep employees on the payroll in order to qualify for loan forgiveness under another federal program. Why Biden thinks that small businesses already coping with massive declines in revenue and increased operating costs would benefit from having their labor get more expensive is a bit of a mystery. While Trump was right to point out the negative consequences that can come from raising the minimum wage, he undermined his own case by equivocating on whether doing so was a good idea. Biden, during his minimum wage answer, said that Congress should allocate more money to struggling businesses. If he has his way on the minimum wage, they'll need all the assistance they can get. Bonus: Check out Reason's video on the effects of a $15 hourly minimum wage on New York car wash workers: [embedded content]
The first act of the final presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden centered on the two candidates' very different approaches to reopening the country—schools in particular. Asserting that the mitigation efforts to thwart COVID-19 cannot be worse than the disease itself, Trump echoed sentiments he has expressed since nearly the start of the pandemic. Biden, on the other hand, signaled a greater willingness to reimpose lockdowns on the areas of the country if coronavirus cases rise. "I'm not shutting down today, but look, you need standards," said Biden. "If you have a reproduction rate above a certain level, everybody says slow down, do not open bars and gymnasiums, until you get this under more control." On schools—a pivotal issue for many American families—Biden said that more funds were needed to make reopening safe: Schools need to be able to hire more teachers, improve their air filtration systems, provide socially distanced classrooms, and implement other procedures to counter the pandemic. "Schools, they need a lot of money to open," said Biden. "They need to deal with smaller classrooms." Trump countered that the disease largely spares the young, and there's little evidence thus far of transmission between students and teachers in schools that have reopened. Biden then attacked Trump for being insufficiently concerned about teachers' lives, unfairly characterizing the president's position as, "All you teachers out there, not that many of you are going to die, so don't worry about it." These remarks should worry working-class families who want their kids to return to school in cities like New York City, Baltimore, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Chicago. The most powerful forces on the side of keeping schools closed are the teachers unions, which have threatened strikes, dumped fake body bags in front of lawmakers' offices, and called in sick when asked to go back to their jobs. The union representing teachers in Fairfax, Virginia, has maintained that it will not be safe for their members to return to the classroom until at least August 2021. Union activists have taken the completely unreasonable position that there is essentially no way to reopen schools until a highly effective vaccine is widely available and actively working to reduce cases to almost nothing. This means that any official who wants to push schools to reopen must do so over the objections of the unions. Biden has made it perfectly clear he will never be that guy—and reiterated that during the debate. His reopening plan hinges on schools receiving additional funding and support. That's unlikely to happen, but even if it did happen, it's quite likely that teachers unions would still oppose reopening. Biden has given every indication that he has no intention of bucking one of the Democratic Party's main sources of political support. Despite his more aggressive rhetoric on the subject, Trump didn't propose any specific policy to help schools reopen faster, either, or to otherwise support families and kids who are struggling. That's a shame: The current moment calls for giving individual students and families more control over their own educational options, perhaps by linking public education dollars to students rather than schools. This is a project that the federal government—which gives billions of dollars to school districts—could play some small role in fostering; sadly, young people have become a very low priority in the time of COVID-19. [embedded content]
After weeks of failing to offer a straight answer to the question of whether he'd support adding additional justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is testing out a new answer in advance of Thursday's debate. In a preview of an interview that will air Sunday on 60 Minutes, Biden outlines a plan for what he calls a "bipartisan commission" to examine potential reforms to the federal courts. In the clip, posted to the show's Twitter feed on Thursday morning, Biden says he would fill the commission with constitutional scholars from across the ideological spectrum and that he would give the body 180 days to review not only court-packing but "a number of other things," though he does not elaborate. Here's the clip: Watch more of @NorahODonnell's interview with Joe Biden, Sunday. pic.twitter.com/wJmb8MatVg — 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) October 22, 2020 As dodgy political answers go, this one is actually pretty brilliant. Biden is giving the appearance of fleshing out a substantial plan to answer his critics, throwing a bone to liberal activists who favor increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court, and still allowing himself plenty of ways to avoid actually doing that once he's elected. It's a Rorschach test of an answer, one that probably sounds good to most voters—who generally oppose court-packing but like the sound of bipartisanship—without committing a future President Biden to any particular course of action. Recall that Biden has a long track record of opposing court-packing. In 1983, he referred to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1937 attempt to add justices to the Supreme Court as a "bone head idea" that "put in question for an entire decade the independence of…the Supreme Court." He was still opposed as recently as last year's presidential primary debates, saying in October 2019 that he "would not get into court-packing" due to fears that it would delegitimize the Supreme Court. That's the sort of decadeslong, consistent record that most politicians would be proud to highlight on the campaign trail. But Biden has gone soft on the question in recent months as some Democrats have suggested adding seats to the court to counter the expected confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Biden has tried, sometimes awkwardly, to find a middle ground between his longstanding opposition to court-packing and his party's fear of a 6-3 majority conservative Supreme Court. In that context, this new promise to create a "national commission" seems mostly like a way to make the question go away. It's a tried and true political strategy: punt a controversial issue to a panel of supposed experts to make it look like you're doing something. As a longtime creature of the U.S. Senate—which isn't called the "world's most deliberative body" for nothing—Biden understands the value of doing nothing while looking like you might do something someday. Still, there are two things we can definitively say about Biden's newest take on court-packing. He has objectively backed away from his former position of opposing the idea, even if he's opening the door only a crack. And he's committed to waiting at least six months into his potential first term before doing it—in other words, it's not important enough to rise to the very top of a Biden administration's agenda. That's good. One more thing: You can almost certainly expect Biden to roll out this answer at tonight's debate if the issue of court-packing comes up. Indeed, this new approach to the question is a campaign strategy too: The image of a bipartisan commission mulling over high-minded constitutional questions about the right way for the country's government to operate draws a pretty stark comparison with how the executive branch is currently running.
Tonight, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will host separate town hall events where each of them will answer questions from voters. These two events are a replacement for what was supposed to be another presidential debate, but after Trump's COVID-19 infection, the Commission on Presidential Debates decided they'd go with a virtual debate format. Trump wouldn't agree to that change and Biden suggested they push the debate back a week before the entire debate was just scrapped. Trump's town hall will be on NBC and Biden's will be on ABC, with both starting at 8 p.m. Eastern. Some very important media people are now very mad that Trump seems to have deliberately pushed for the same slot as Biden to make them compete for viewers. Based on reporting by the Washington Post and The New York Times, the complaining seems to primarily be in media circles. Arguably, it's actually only coming from various people in the media. From the Post: Veteran journalist Jeff Greenfield called it "indefensible" on Twitter, where a call to boycott NBC was a trending topic. "They rewarded Trump by giving him this time," Greenfield said in an interview. Katie Couric, former host of NBC's "Today" show, said on Twitter that NBC's decision was "bad for democracy." NBC actress Shakina Nayfack, whose comedy series "Connecting" will be preempted Thursday by the Trump town hall, criticized her employer. "Y'all sign my checks of late but I'm disgusted by my home network giving Trump a platform for fear mongering, bigotry and disinformation," she wrote on Twitter. Over the last four years, many in the media and the pundit class have argued that media outlets should stop "rewarding" Trump with coverage because of his outlandish, crude, nasty, and boorish behavior, particularly at his rallies. But Trump, horrible or saintly, is President of the United States. It is, in fact, part of the role that the media has defined for itself in a democratic society to give platforms for elected leaders to speak, and then also hold them accountable with fact-checking and investigation. It is completely ethical and moral for NBC to host President Trump's town hall, taking place less than a month before Election Day. As the Post notes, town halls get much smaller numbers of viewers. The first presidential debate was seen by 73 million people, according to Nielsen ratings. Tonight's town halls might not even crack 10 million each. That is to say, most Americans aren't actually going to watch either of them, making the outrage even more insipid and performative. Some may ultimately just watch clips of interesting moments online. There is a bizarre sense of moral outrage at the very idea of competition for attention in the framework of democracy, as though that weren't actually a feature of the voting. But nobody actually has to watch these events live, right? The viewership numbers game matters primarily to the media outlets themselves, to the data nerds at the campaigns who are paid to worry about this, and to Trump, who still thinks ratings matter in 2020 even though primetime network television is years into a long slide into irrelevance. Democracy is losing nothing by having the two of them go head to head in the same timeslot. The percentage of undecided voters is much, much smaller than it was in 2016 at this time; we're talking in the 3 to 5 percent range in many recent polls. Biden's town hall will most likely be watched by Biden voters and the media. Trump's town hall will most likely be watched by Trump voters and the media. To the extent that anything of actual value comes out of either town hall, the media should cover it for the benefit of that small group of Americans who remain undecided.
During ABC's town hall event with former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party's presidential candidate provided a garbled response to a question about criminal justice reform. In particular, he wrongly suggested that when police fire their weapons at suspects, they could shoot to wound instead of shooting to kill. "You can ban chokeholds, but beyond that you have to teach [the police] how to de-escalate circumstances," said Biden. "So instead of anybody coming at you and the first thing you do is shoot to kill, you shoot them in the leg." This was just one line in a very long, rambling answer to a question about police violence—but it stuck out for its sheer absurdity. The suggestion betrays a total lack of understanding about how guns work. Note that it was not some slip of the tongue: Biden has previously proposed this exact idea. Contrary to the former veep's repeated assertions, neither the cops nor anyone else—except perhaps James Bond—could plan to shoot people in the leg as a matter of routine practice. It would take an expert marksman to accomplish that feat consistently. Unless a target is at close range, standing perfectly still, it's very difficult to hit a specific location on the body. In reality, people are often moving during shootouts, which means that legs and arms can be the hardest part of the body to hit. "An average suspect can move his hand and forearm across his body to a 90-degree angle in 12/100 of a second," wrote Bill Lewinksi in a paper for the Force Science Institute. "He can move his hand from his hip to shoulder height in 18/100 of a second. The average officer pulling the trigger as fast as he can on a Glock, one of the fastest- cycling semi-autos, requires 1/4 second to discharge each round." If an officer's life is actually threatened, hitting the suspect in the leg is no guarantee the threat will be neutralized. People who have been hit in the leg or arm are not immediately incapacitated, which is why the police keep firing until a suspect is down. Real life is not like an episode of 24, or a Mission: Impossible movie! It's true that some police officers are too eager to fire their weapons in the first place, and idiotic police tactics—like no-knock raids—place them in situations where overreactions are likely to occur. But the public policy intervention needs to occur before the shooting starts. Shooting to wound is not a realistic tactic in the vast majority of cases, and it's embarrassing that Biden doesn't know this.
"I have done more for the African-American community than any president with the exception of Abraham Lincoln," said President Donald Trump on Thursday evening as he addressed an audience member during his NBC town hall. The question asked of him: What would he do for people of color who are made anxious by reports of police brutality, especially in the wake of George Floyd's death? The president invoked a bill put forth by Sen. Tim Scott (R–S.C.) as evidence of his openness to police reform and cited Democrats' refusal to pass it as proof that he is the pro-criminal justice leader the country needs. But Scott's bill was largely toothless; it promised to create a national database of incidents where cops killed or severely injured someone, and it encouraged departments to ban chokeholds by dangling federal grants as incentive. Notably, it failed to address qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that makes it considerably more difficult to sue police officers when they violate someone's civil rights. As I've written previously: The legal doctrine has protected two cops who allegedly stole $225,000 while executing a search warrant; a sheriff's deputy who shot a 10-year-old boy while aiming at the child's non-threatening dog; prison guards who forced a naked inmate to sleep in cells filled with raw sewage and "massive amounts" of human feces; two cops who assaulted and arrested a man for the crime of standing outside of his own house; two officers who sicced a police dog on a surrendered suspect. That list is not exhaustive. Earlier this summer, Trump said he would not consider any changes to qualified immunity. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called it a "non-starter" for the administration. Attorney General William Barr claimed it would result in police "pulling back." And Scott characterized qualified immunity reform as a "poison pill," an unsurprising declaration when considering the president promised to reject legislation with any such provisions. Trump's demurral on qualified immunity makes sense from a strategic standpoint; police unions vehemently oppose any changes to the doctrine. And the president has successfully courted the law enforcement lobby's endorsement. (Police unions, like teachers unions, exist to protect employees at the expense of the public.) But though qualified immunity reform is controversial among the unions, it is not controversial among the American public. A majority of people in the U.S. oppose the doctrine, and yet Congress has not moved accordingly to address the needs of their constituents. That wasn't necessarily for lack of trying. Rep. Justin Amash (L–Mich.) introduced tripartisan legislation to eliminate qualified immunity for all public officials; it doesn't just protect cops, but also prison guards, college administrations, and other potentially corrupt civil servants. Sen. Mike Braun (R–Ind.) unveiled legislation that would have radically restricted the doctrine. Neither received a vote.
Exactly one year ago, former Vice President Joe Biden stood on stage with 11 other presidential hopefuls and got asked a direct question about whether he would "seek to add justices to the Supreme Court." Biden's answer was clear: "I would not get into court packing," he said. "We had three justices. Next time around, we lose control, they add three justices. We begin to lose any credibility the Court has at all." On Thursday night, Biden was the only candidate on stage at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia—he and President Donald Trump had dueling town hall events in lieu of a second presidential debate. And he was, once again, asked about whether he'd support an attempt to add justices to the Supreme Court in light of Republican efforts to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Court prior to this year's election. The version of Biden who was once clear-eyed about the dangers of expanding the Supreme Court has recently become much foggier on the topic, and ABC's George Stephanopoulos gave Biden a chance to set the record straight. The former vice president declined to take it. "I have not been a fan of court packing," Biden said, before repeating his concerns about every subsequent president trying to add more and more justices. "So you're still not a fan," Stephanopoulos pressed. "Well, I'm still not a fan," Biden hedged. "I didn't say—it depends on how this turns out." Stephanopoulos, to his credit, did not let Biden off the hook. "What does that mean?" he pressed. "Right now it looks like they are going to have a vote around Halloween. So if they vote on it before the election, then you are open to expanding the court?" That question elicited the response that best sums up Biden's slippery stance on the whole matter. "I'm open to considering what happens from that point on," he said. Which means…well, your guess is as good as mine. Here's the full exchange: .@GStephanopoulos on court packing: "Don't voters have a right to know where you stand?" Biden: Voters will know "before they vote." GS: "So you'll come out with a clear position before Election Day?" Biden: "Yes, depending on how [GOP] handle this." https://t.co/JEyTOkB6qk pic.twitter.com/RHnfjixsHU — ABC News (@ABC) October 16, 2020 As Reason's Jacob Sullum noted earlier this week, Biden's sudden reticence to criticize court packing is an alarming development. The former vice president has a long track record of shunning the idea—and for good reason, since it remains pretty unpopular with voters more than eight decades after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt last pushed it. If Biden has changed his opinion on this topic, voters deserve to know. If he hasn't, why can't he just say so? It's pretty obvious that Biden is making a calculated political maneuver here. If he comes out in favor of court packing, he risks handing Republicans a new campaign issue at a time when he's just trying to run out the clock with a significant lead in the polls. If he says he's against court packing, he trades away leverage that he could use after he's elected. But refusing to commit one way or the other is disrespectful to the people whose support Biden is seeking. "Don't voters have a right to know?" Stephanopoulos asked near the end of the exchange on Thursday night. "They do have a right to know," said Biden. "They have the right to know where I stand before they vote." That's not good enough. Lots of people are already voting. This isn't a new issue, and Biden should have been able to provide a clear and direct answer by now.
And You Thought Jeb Bush was “low-energy” Everyone knows Joe Biden is not fit to be president. We’ve all seen him mumble in confusion during public appearances. He’s a gaffe machine. He’s a corrupt, career politician with dementia. Yet the Democrats and their lying mass media continue to pretend he’s perfectly fine—good ol’ Joe. He sounded relatively sharp for his convention speech, but since then his behavior and speaking ability have been very questionable. I saw him make short speech during a recent and rare campaign appearance and he was barely audible. He fielded no questions. He can barely read a teleprompter correctly. On another occasion he blew up in anger when questioned about his son, Hunter. Uncontrollable anger is also a symptom of dementia. For next week’s debate with Trump, I expect Sleepy Joe will be charged up with the same drug given to him ahead of his DNC speech. Probably meth, which apparently brightens the otherwise dimming lights of those suffering dementia. Join the Fight against Fake News! Support Cartoons that shred the Democrat Narrative! Click to Donate Given Biden’s condition, the Democrats need to drug him up. Their only other alternative is for him to contract some sudden illness—perhaps COVID 19. Or maybe the Democrats no longer care. Why cover up for Joe? Everyone is aware that Biden is not all there, but he doesn’t need to be for a Harris administration. —Ben Garrison Biden Debate Prep ORIGINAL ART AVAILABLE- CLICK TO RESERVE YOUR ART TODAY! JOIN US ON THE 2020 FRONT LINES DIGITAL SOLIDER, SUPPORT CARTOONS AT PATREON OR AT SUBSCRIBESTAR-SEE EVERY CARTOON EARLY BEFORE IT’S RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC! CLICK TO VIEW! More Cartoons