It's time to take Trump seriously, figuratively, and literally

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself,” – the late John Lewis. He left the New York Times a posthumous essay to be published the day of his funeral.

WHAT’S HAPPENING

Q2 US GDPAndy Kiersz/Business Insider Sourc: US Bureau of Economic Analysis

GDP plunged at an annualized rate of 33% in the second quarter, by far a record drop. The pandemic lockdowns caused the economy to shrink about 10% in the quarter. Meanwhile, weekly unemployment claims increased again to 1.43 million, the 19th week in a row with more than 1 million claims.

President Trump suggested postponing the presidential election, which he cannot do. Trailing badly in the polls, Trump tweeted falsely that mail-in voting could make the election “FRAUDULENT.” Only Congress could change the date of the presidential election, and only a constitutional amendment could change Inauguration Day.

Former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain has died at 74, apparently of COVID. He had been hospitalized for weeks, and had contracted the virus shortly after attending President Trump’s Tulsa rally. A former restaurateur, Cain briefly led the GOP field in 2011. Trump considered him for the Fed board in 2019, but didn’t nominate him after widespread opposition.

VIEWS OF THE DAY

It’s time to take Trump seriously, figuratively, and literally

This morning President Trump tweeted about delaying the election due to the pandemic.

Screen Shot 2020 07 30 at 11.39.38 AMTwitter

In April Trump’s rival, Vice President Joe Biden, predicted the President might try to delay the election if his poll numbers looked bad, and they look hideous.

Screen Shot 2020 07 30 at 11.40.12 AMTwitter

Remember that this is a pandemic that spun out of control largely because of a lack of federal response. Trump only put on a mask himself a few weeks ago. The White House could create the conditions for safe elections by competently handling this crisis, but it won’t. That’s why we’re here.

Trump works by gut instinct, and he has never let his ignorance of how the US government works – or the limits of presidential power – stop him from trampling on the rights of others. (See: His multiple attempts at passing a travel ban on Muslim countries.) The fact that he can’t change the date of the election won’t stop him from knocking on every door, or trying to open any window he can, into victory.

We already have evidence that Trump will stop at nothing to improve his chances for reelection. Two weeks ago he tried to get Republicans to defund coronavirus testing in Congress’ upcoming pandemic relief bill to make infection numbers look better for him.

If you think someone who is willing to do that won’t try to hinder the democratic process, I have a gold-plated, Trump-branded bridge to sell you. And I don’t just mean Trump will try messing with vote counts, I mean he will be messing with our faith in the outcome of this election and the process of democracy itself. That’s the bare minimum of what he will do.

It is in this man’s inherent nature to use all of his power – unfortunately, the power of the presidency – for his own power’s sake. That is exactly how Henry Wallace, Vice President of this country from 1941 to 1945, described American fascists.

“A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends. The supreme god of a fascist, to which his ends are directed, may be money or power; may be a race or a class; may be a military, clique or an economic group; or may be a culture, religion, or a political party.”

Be vigilant. Take Donald Trump seriously, literally, figuratively. He is a desperate demagogue limited only by what we the people will abide. Linette Lopez



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BezosMandel Ngan/Pool via AP

Now we know what Jeff Bezos’ worried face looks like

Four masters of Silicon Valley – the CEOs of Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook – testified before Congress to answer for their anti-competitive behaviour yesterday, and in stark contrast to previous hearings they were visibly shaken by the questions they were asked.

As I put in my column, we got to see Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ worried face.

Some highlights in case all you caught were the clips of Republicans screaming about being silenced (there was some of that, but there was more productive questioning):

  • Members of both parties hammered Facebook for its strategy of buying, copying or threatening competitors out of business,reading damning internal emails from the company’s acquisition of Instagram.
  • Bezos was tongue tied when asked why Amazon makes money from counterfeit goods, nor could he answer any questions about Amazon’s protocol for ensuring that it’s not selling stolen goods.
  • Bezos squirmed through questions from Representative Pramila Jayapal about how Amazon misuses third-party seller data to develop in-house brands that compete with merchants selling on his platform saying only, “I can’t answer that question yes or no.”
  • Zuckerberg could not explain away the fact that his company profits from peddling misinformation. Cicilline brought up that, despite committing to only distributing accurate information about the coronavirus, it took Facebook five hours and 20 million views before it took down a video full of false claims about the pandemic. Amplifying that misinformation once its on the platform, Cicilline said is a “business decision.”
  • Democratic Rep. Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado pressed the CEOs of Apple and Google, both of which control app stores, to promise they would not use the information they collect from apps in their stores to build competitors.
  • Democratic Rep. Val Demings of Florida pressed Pichai about the way Google surveils its customers, bundling data from across all of its products (Gmail, maps, etc.) in order to sell them targeted ads

All in all, the CEOs seemed caught off guard. They expected this hearing to be more of the same from Washington – a series of uninformed questions from geriatric senators who barely read email. It was not that. Catch the whole column here.– LL

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

FILE PHOTO: A view of the Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas, September 15, 2008.REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES)/File PhotoReutersFILE PHOTO: View of the Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas

Exxon is reclassifying employees as poor performers in order to hide layoffs as performance-based job cuts.Internal documents and 19 insiders reveal that the company is pushing managers to downgrade employees in order to force them out for performance reasons. In April, Exxon required managers to put at least 8% of employees in the poor performer category, up from a previous minimum of 3%.

There was some fraud, but not a ton of it, in the PPP program. The SBA watchdog has found about $US300 million in potentially dubious small business loans, out of more than $US500 billion issued.

LIFE

StonehengeJames Davies/English HeritageInside the sarsen circle at Stonehenge.

Scientists have finally figured out where the huge stones at Stonehenge came from. The 80 “sarsens,” which weigh 25 tons each, were brought from about 15 miles away, and probably all at the same time.

10 signs your relationship will or won’t work, based on a study of 11,000 couples. Some are obvious: Do you fight a lot? Is your sex life good? Others are less so: Do you appreciate your partner?

LISTEN OF THE DAY

Parents, teachers, and lawmakers are all debating whether or not schools should open their doors this fall for in-person instruction. We joined Insider Audio’s Charlie Herman for a discussion about what it will take to get students back in their seats amidst a pandemic, and what’s at stake if they don’t return. Click here to listen to the full conversation.– HB & DP

THE BIG 3*

Scrambled eggsRachel Askinasi/Insider

She tried making scrambled eggs 10 different ways: Insider’s Rachel Askinasi changed the level of heat, added different liquids, and compared results. Milk made them watery, cream made them fluffy.

Claudia Conway returned to Twitter. She criticised her mum’s boss, Donald Trump, and joked that AOC should adopt her.

The best and worst things about living in a camper van. Pluses: the great views, the nature, the lack of schedule. Minuses: No showers, no WiFi, never getting to stay in the same place for more than a couple nights.

*The most popular stories on Insider today.

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