Senate Democrats: Do Not Allow Trump To Undermine Nov. 3 Election Results

Senate Democrats released a report summarizing what to expect on Election Day, which may well mean not to expect a result Election Night (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

WASHINGTON, October  18 – Senate Democrats today released a report summarizing for the American people what to expect on Election Day, which may well mean in this unprecedented Election Year, not to expect a result on Election Night, They reinforced the Democrats’ call to encourage everyone to vote and to insure that every vote is counted, and is aimed at countering the months-long effort by President Trump to undermine the election and his repeated refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. With the general election already well underway in every state across the country, Senate Democrats have a clear message for the American people: Vote and cast your ballot as early as possible.

While expressing optimism that Election Day will go smoothly around the country, the report, jointly authored by Budget Committee Ranking Member Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Rules Committee Ranking Member Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), outlines the possibility that in some states, the outcome might not be known on November 3. 

The last message from the report is to make absolutely clear that voter intimidation is illegal and that federal law prohibits coercing or threatening anyone in order to interfere with their right to vote.

“The American people must be prepared for an election that is unprecedented in our history due to the enormous increase in mail-in ballots that have been, and will be, cast as a result of the pandemic,” said Senator Sanders. No one should have to risk their health or their lives in order to vote, and that is why many millions are voting through mail-in ballots. One of the worst lies that Donald Trump is spreading is that there is a massive amount of voter fraud in this country. That is a total lie which no election official, Republican or Democrat, can support. What we are doing with this effort is ensuring that the American people understand that if American democracy means anything, it means that every vote must be counted—no matter how long it takes.”

“President Trump has for months now been laying the foundation to undermine the election and he has repeatedly refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses. Senate Democrats want to be clear to the American people that the most powerful defense against this type of autocratic behavior in our country is the will of the American people and that is why we are encouraging every American to vote and vote early,” said Leader Schumer.

“The election is well underway, and Americans are voting in droves because they know what is at stake. We must do everything we can to protect the right to vote, and uphold the integrity of the election process. That means pushing back on President Trump’s lies about mail-in ballots and his efforts to sow chaos. It also means making sure that Americans know that a record number of people are voting by mail this year, which could slow the reporting in some states. We should be prepared to reject misinformation and be patient about results in places where counting ballots may take longer. Americans should keep making their voices heard at the ballot box, the earlier the better,” said Senator Klobuchar.

“Despite what Donald Trump wants you to believe, the integrity of our election system is strong,” said Senator Murphy. Every American must vote—and vote early—in  the upcoming presidential election, so we can make it clear to Trump and the world that America remains a democracy, the will of the people will always win out, and that any form of voter intimidation is illegal and will not be tolerated.”

“President Trump’s dangerous rhetoric threatens to further divide our country and sow real potential for violence.  The most important thing each of us can do to combat disinformation and fear is to vote and vote early. There is little doubt that this is the most important election we will participate in in our lives. Our elections are the foundation of American democracy. Protecting them should be the top priority for everyone who cares about the future of our country. Election officials, courts, and elected leaders must be accountable for upholding that principle,” said Senator Heinrich.

“Despite Donald Trump’s lies and misinformation about nonexistent widespread voter fraud, the integrity of the American election system—our entire election process from voting by mail to voting in person—is strong. If voting by mail is safe and effective for our troops overseas and good enough for Trump and his family to use, then it’s safe, effective and good enough for the rest of America too,” said Senator Duckworth. No matter what Trump says—or even what he might prefer—Senate Democrats will never allow the greatest democracy the world has ever known to descend into authoritarianism. We will always be a government of, by and for the people.”

A copy of the report can be found here .

National Governors Association Questions Trump Administration on Funding, Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, who chairs the National Governors Association, raised questions of all state governors on how a COVID-19 vaccine would be distributed when it becomes available. Who would be in line first? Who pays for the extraordinary storage requirements (minus 80 degrees)? Who pays for the essential workers to administer the millions of doses when states are suffering deficits forcing layoffs among essential workers? The National Governors Association raised these questions in a letter to the Trump Administration© Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The National Governors Association, chaired by New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, today sent a list of questions to the Trump Administration seeking clarity on how to most effectively distribute and administer a COVID-19 vaccine. The distribution and implementation of the vaccine is a massive undertaking that cannot be managed without significant logistical coordination, planning and financial assistance between states and the federal government. The list of questions — which were submitted from Republican and Democratic governors from around the country — covers funding for the administration of a vaccine, allocation and supply chain, and communication and information requirements.

“The National Governors Association, which I chair, sent a letter to the president of the United States last week. We asked to meet with the president to discuss how this is supposed to work between the federal government and the states,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are now releasing a compilation of questions from governors all across the country, Democratic and Republican, saying to the White House: how is this going to work? We need to answer these questions before the vaccine is available so that we are ready to go and no one is caught flat-footed when the time comes to vaccinate people.”

In his press briefing on COVID-19 in the state, Cuomo commented, “The 36 questions from the Governors sent to the White House basically are asking, ‘How does this work. We understand the concept but how does it work?’ Some of the questions: How will the vaccine be allocated to states? What formula is used – in other words, are you going to allocate it by infection rate? Are you going to allocate it by number of cases of COVID? Are you going to allocate it by population? Who determines how many each state gets – what’s the basis that you using.

“Is there a national strategy on the prioritization – in other words, the federal government going to say, ‘I think nursing homes should get it first. I think nurses should get it first. I think doctors should get it first. I think anybody over 70 should get it first.’ Is the federal government going to do that prioritization? Can they tell us if they’re going to condition the release of vaccines, right? The vaccines are controlled by the federal government. Are they going to turn around and say, ‘Well we won’t give you the vaccines, New York State, California unless you do X Y Z.’ And can we know that now? Is there multi-state coordination? On our own, during COVID we coordinated with the Northeastern states to New Jersey, Connecticut, et cetera. Is there a multi-state coordination piece here, or is everybody on their own? Am I my responsible for all of New York and there’s no connection to New Jersey and there’s no connection to Connecticut, there’s no connection to Pennsylvania?

“And who is going to pay to do this? New York State is already $50 billion in debt between state and local governments. And they have not passed legislation on the state and local relief. If the state has a deficit and the local governments have a deficit, we can’t fund essential workers. That’s who gets cut when you cut state and local governments. And now you’re going want undertake this vaccination program, which frankly requires more essential workers, not less? And they’re talking about a vaccine possibly in December. We’re here in October – this is just a few weeks to plan in this massive undertaking. Let’s learn the lessons from the past seven months. Otherwise, we’re going to relive the nightmares that we have lived through, right? Let’s not repeat the mistakes of March, April, May….

“We can’t go through that same confusion again. It’s not a question of knowing what to do. It’s a question of knowing how to do it. We know what we need to do. We need to control the virus, we need to take more tests, now we need to do vaccines. We know what we need to do. How do you do it? How do you do it – the devil’s in the details. How do you administer 40 million vaccines in the State of New York. That’s the trick. Everybody agrees with the concept. “Yes, vaccinate everyone.” Got it. How? How?

“And that’s the art form of government by the way and that’s what separates words from action and rhetoric from results and talk from competence – how do you do it? And that’s what we have to focus on now and that’s what the governors are saying to the federal government. Why? Because the way the federal government has structured it, the states are in charge of the doing. This person got to the COVID situation, he said, ‘It’s up to the Governors. It’s up to the states’. I don’t even know how that works by the way. It’s a nationwide problem. 50 states have it. But it’s not a federal response? The federal response is, ‘It’s up to you. You take charge, Governor. But I’m right behind you -go get ’em, tiger.’ Yeah, thank you very much. So again, I’m sure what the federal government is talking about is we’ll approve the vaccines, we’ll appropriate the vaccine, we then deliver them to the state. You figure out how to do it. Who pays? Insurance companies? What happens for the uninsured people? How do I keep dosages cold, – 80-degrees? Well, those are details. No. That’s the difference between life and death in a situation like this. And that’s where we have to get.”

Cuomo added, “The State will have a statewide vaccination plan. We will do it in concert with the federal government. The federal government is in charge of producing the actual vaccines and distributing the vaccines so the State’s position is we have to wait for the federal government to provide us the vaccines, what is the schedule, how many, etcetera…

“We believe there’s going to be questions about the safety of the vaccine, so we put together a special New York task force team of experts. I’m going to ask them to review any vaccine before I recommend it to the people of the state. I think that will give people added surety in the vaccine. But, we are coming up with a plan on many presumptions. We don’t really know how many doses we’re going to get. We don’t know what vaccine we’re going to get. We don’t know when we’re going to get it. So this is all preliminary. But, we would prioritize the vaccinations. The prioritization would be based on risk and essential workers would have a priority and people at risk would be prioritized and we’d set up a matrix on that regards, by that regards, and there’d be several phases to the administration of the actual doses. We’re working with our health care partners all across the state. This is going to be a massive undertaking, hospitals, urgent care facilities , primary care facilities, pharmacies, local departments of health, mobile units, mass vaccination sites.”

Here is the list of questions NGA gathered from the nation’s governors:   

Funding for Vaccine Administration  

  • Will there be funding allocated to states to assist with distribution of the vaccine and other vaccine efforts?  
  • Without additional state and local funding to implement COVID-19 vaccine plans, we will be hampered in what we can accomplish. When can we expect more definitive information about resources related to this response?   
  • What are the plans for any federal contracts and/or additional funding to support “boots on the ground” to vaccinate in tiers 2 and beyond?  
  • How will vaccine administration costs be covered for people who are uninsured?   
  • Will the federal government be setting guidelines around allowable vaccine administration costs for those with health insurance (whether that is state insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, or some other state funded health insurance)?   
  • How will funding/reimbursement for vaccines be handled?  
  • We understand that the vaccine will initially be provided at no cost, as was remdesivir. However, states now must pay for remdesivir on the commercial market. How long will the federal government commit to providing the vaccine to states cost-free?  

Allocation and Supply Chain  

  • How will the vaccine be allocated to states? What formula will be used?  
  • How will the vaccine be distributed? What mechanism will the federal government use?   
  • Can the administration provide more guidance on what prioritization requirements will be a condition of vaccine release and to what extent will states have latitude to guide these decisions?  
  • Are any further PREP Act changes anticipated beyond authorizations for pharmacists and interns to administer vaccine?  
  • How is CDC planning to manage vaccine distribution to Federal entities such as Federal Prisons, the VA and other Federal organizations? Will these entities receive a vaccine supply directly from the CDC or will states manage it?    
  • Similarly, when can states expect guidance from the federal government on the states’ responsibility to vaccinate federal employees (e.g., who is vaccinating National Guard, USPS employees, FBI, etc.  
  • How will tribal sovereignty be respected? The CDC sent a template asking how many vaccine doses need to be sent to each IHS/tribal health facility rather than asking states where each tribe wants their vaccine doses sent (which could be one of those facilities, a DOH public health office, a private provider that they’d like to contract with, etc.)  
  • What will be the national strategy for vaccine prioritization when supply is short?  
  • How will management of supplies (i.e. needles, syringes, alcohol pads, band aids, etc.) work?  
  • Will there be further guidance documents on handling ultra-cold vaccine (i.e. thawing, storage after thawing, reconstitution, etc.?  
  • We are aware of concerns that there is already a shortage of dry ice, which is being used to store the ultracold storage vaccines during the clinical trials.  
  • If that is true, does that shortage impact plans for shipping of ultracold storage vaccine using dry ice and containers that could store the vaccine for up to a week?   
  • If there is a shortage of dry ice, does this change the guidance to states to not purchase additional ultracold storage freezers?  
  • We also need guidance on redistribution of ultracold storage vaccines. If they will come in 1,000 dose shipments as indicated by the federal government, we likely will need to distribute them further in our rural areas.  What will the guidelines be to do that without compromising the vaccine?   
  • How long will the product be viable outside of the original packaging that the 1,000 doses will be shipped in? Can/will smaller volume packaging be provided in the shipment as well?   
  • What will the federal guidance be on sub-prioritization among the initial priority groups since there will not be enough vaccine at first for even healthcare workers as a group?   

Communication and Information Requirements  

  • There has been some indication that large pharmacy chains and possibly interstate healthcare systems will register directly with the federal government. We need the specific details since many of them are also reaching out to the states. This affects our targeted enrollment of these stakeholders to onboard as Covid-19 vaccine providers. When can we expect clarification on which stakeholders will contract directly with the federal government?  
  • Will there be coordinated multi-state process for monitoring vaccination effects (adverse effects, lack of immunity responses, etc) to ensure early warning signs are identified as quickly as possible?  
  • Will the federal government provide current/real time information about tribal nations enrolling with the CDC for direct shipments, versus enrolling through the state?   
  • Can the administration provide more information around long term care facilities? Specifically, are they planning to mandate vaccines in nursing homes through CMS? For example, will the use of vaccines be connected to continued Medicaid funding? If so, when would such requirements take effect?   
  • Is the federal government going to request that states report personally identifiable COVID vaccine data? We have concerns that this may create a lack of trust and discourage people from getting vaccinated.    
  • What is the state’s role in safety monitoring after people have been vaccinated?   
  • How many states are using VAMS as their Immunization Information System (IIS)?  
  • Will states share their micro-prioritization within Phase 1b?  
  • What communication/messaging materials have been developed?  
  • How will complex scientific data be messaged and shared publicly? What type of educational material, and in what languages, will be developed?  
  • What information will be shared publicly on each approved vaccine? How will transparency be ensured?   
  • CDC is planning to require reporting to the IIS within 24 hours of administration of the vaccine.  We know for flu vaccine there is a dramatic lag in data coming in – how will COVID-19 vaccine data reporting be any different?  

Just Hours Left to Be Counted in 2020 Census, for Federal Dollars, Votes in Congress

Representation in Congress is on the line, share of $1 trillion in federal spending for schools, roads, hospitals, police is on the line with the 2020 Census. The Trump Administration has done everything possible to make sure immigrant, minority, working-class and immigrant communities are under-counted. The deadline to be counted has been shortened to Friday, October 16 at 6 AM. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In an effort to under-funding and under-represent in Congress urban areas, minority and immigrant communities, which are disproportionately in Blue States, the Trump Administration has continually sabotaged the Census – the official count, mandated in the Constitution, of all residents that takes place only once every 10 years. Despite halting in-person census collection due to the coronavirus pandemic, then extending the deadline, then suddenly announcing a halt a full month early, the Supreme Court has again handed the Trump administration the levers to manipulate control in government. Now, the deadline is Friday, October 16 at 6 AM.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo put out an urgent call to all New Yorkers to complete the Census NOW. The Census can be completed from home in less than 10 minutes online, by phone or mail.

“The Census only happens once every 10 years and it’s one of the most important ways New Yorkers can help ensure the state gets the representation and funding we need in Washington. This process profoundly affects our state’s future, and I strongly urge every New Yorker to participate and do it now,” Governor Cuomo said. “As New York continues the fight for aid from the federal government to help us respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the time is now for New Yorkers to complete the Census.”

Once every decade, the nation conducts the Census, which is a constitutionally mandated count of every American, regardless of their citizenship status. The decennial census is one of the nation’s most important programs. New Yorkers’ fair share of federal funds for programs essential to health care, education, emergency planning, housing, economic development and transportation, as well as our congressional representation in Washington, all depends on an accurate and fully counted census response.

New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, “I urge every New Yorker to take 10 minutes and complete the Census immediately. Completing the Census is safe and easy, and the information you provide is confidential. It has never been more important for all New Yorkers to complete the Census to ensure New York gets it fair share of federal funding.”

Below is key information on the Census counting process that all New Yorkers should keep in mind when completing the Census:

Four Ways to Respond. There are four ways to respond to the 2020 Census: online, by phone, by mail or in person (with the help of Census taker who will be visiting households which have not yet responded). Visit https://my2020census.gov/ to complete the Census online or call 1-844-330-2020 to complete the Census by phone. Additional phone numbers for a variety of languages can be found here. You can also mail in the form you should have received in March from the Census Bureau.

Questions Asked. The Census asks how many people are living in your household as of April 1, 2020. The Census asks just 10 basic questions: name; number of people living or staying in the home on April 1, 2020; whether the residence is owned or rented; telephone number (only to be used if needed for official Census Bureau business); sex; age; date of birth; Hispanic origin; race; and relationship with other household members.

When completing the Census, please note that college students should be counted where they would have been staying on April 1, 2020, even if they went home early due to a COVID-19 school closure or a shift to distance learning.

The Census will never ask for citizenship or immigration status, social security numbers, money or donations, anything on behalf of a political party or for your bank or credit card account numbers.

U.S. Census Takers in your Neighborhood. You may see census takers, known as enumerators, in your neighborhood to collect responses to the 2020 Census. All census takers completed a virtual COVID-19 training on social distancing and other health and safety protocols and will follow CDC and local public health guidelines when they visit. All Census takers are required to wear a face mask and will also be equipped with hand sanitizer and gloves.

Census takers are hired from your area, and their goal is to help you and everyone in your home be counted in the 2020 Census. If the census taker who visits your home does not speak your language, you may request a return visit from a census taker who does speak your language. If no one is home when the census taker visits, the census taker will leave a notice of their visit with information about how to respond online, by phone or by mail.

Below are reminders to help you identify a Census taker:

  • Census takers and field representatives will conduct their work between the hours of 9 am and 9 pm.
  • All Census takers or field representatives will present an ID badge that includes their name, their photograph, a Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date.
  • In addition to wearing a mask, all Census takers or field representatives will have an official 2020 Census bag and Census Bureau-issued electronic device, such as a laptop or smartphone, bearing the Census Bureau logo. There will be an “official business” notice on their car.
  • Official Census takers will NEVER ask to enter your home. They will never ask for money, threaten detainment or deportation, or request additional documentation. They will only ask questions that are on the official Census questionnaire.
  • You can find additional information about Census takers by clicking here.
  • If you still have questions about a Census taker’s identity, you can call 844-330-2020 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative.

U.S. Census Emails. The Census Bureau has also emailed households that have not yet responded to the Census. Emails were sent to all households in low-responding areas, even to those households that have responded. The email messages came from 2020census@subscriptions.census.gov and included a link to the Census self-response page. 

Your Data is Protected. The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. In fact, every employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life. Under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your immigration status, even to law enforcement agencies. The law ensures that your private data is protected and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court. The answers you provide are used only to produce statistics.

Avoiding Scams Online: The use of any website that mentions being affiliated with the U.S. Census should be verified. The easiest way to verify the site is to check if address includes “.gov,” as only official U.S. and state government websites can use “.gov.” Fraudulent sites purporting to be official government service providers may steal personal information.

Reporting Suspected Fraud: If you suspect fraud, call 844-330-2020 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative. If it is determined that the visitor who came to your door does not work for the Census Bureau, contact your local police department.

Official Census information can be found by visiting the U.S. Census Bureau website and by visiting New York State’s Census website.

The New York State Department of State also offers the following resources to help New Yorkers:

Office for New Americans Hotline 1-800-566-7636: The Office for New Americans’ free hotline is available from Monday through Friday from 9AM to 8PM and can help new Americans in more than 200 hundred languages. For more information on the Office for New Americans, visit the website at https://www.newamericans.ny.gov/. The Office can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSNewAmericans or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NYSNewAmericans.

DCP Consumer Helpline 1-800-697-1220: The DCP Consumer Helpline offers safe, direct assistance for any New Yorker who believes they have been treated unfairly while in the marketplace. To report suspected Census fraud or scams, call the DCP Consumer Helpline at 800-697-1220, Monday through Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm or visit the DCP website at www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection. The Division can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSConsumer or Facebook at www.facebook.com/nysconsumer.

Evoking Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Biden Declares 2020 Election ‘A Battle for the Soul of the Nation’

Vice President Joe Biden, in a speech declaring the 2020 Election to be a “Battle for the Soul of the Nation,” evoked Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address during the Civil War, in calling for unity to preserve the nation: “It cannot be that after all this country has been through. After all that America has accomplished, after all the years we have stood as a beacon of light to the world, it cannot be that here and now, in 2020, we will allow government of the people, by the people, and for the people to perish from this earth.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vice President Joe Biden took to the sacred ground of the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg to lay out his vision for the soul of America, why Charlottesville was the impetus for his run for the presidency, and set the stage for the final four weeks of the 2020 election campaign.

In stark contrast to the scowling Mussolini-esque “Covita” video stunt Trump pulled on arriving back at the White House from Walter Reed Hospital, when he immediately pulled off his face mask and summoned a photographer to come behind him for a better shot, Biden spoke to the concerns of Americans, in high anxiety over the coronavirus pandemic, economic hardship, civil unrest and climate crisis. Evoking Lincoln’s famous speech, he called for unity around the shared values of America, saying he was a proud Democrat but if elected President, he would be a President for all Americans, calling it, “Battle for the Soul of the Nation.”

Biden outlined the ways in which the nation, riven by partisan and tribal conflict, can heal, come together as Americans – indeed, after 244 years of upholding the revolutionary idea of government of, by, for the people, he declared, we must.

“It cannot be that after all this country has been through. After all that America has accomplished, after all the years we have stood as a beacon of light to the world, it cannot be that here and now, in 2020, we will allow government of the people, by the people, and for the people to perish from this earth,” Biden declared.
 
“No. It cannot. It must not.
 
“We have in our hands the ultimate power: the power of the vote. It is the noblest instrument ever devised to register our will in a peaceable and productive fashion.
 
“And so we must.
 
“We must vote.
 
“And we will vote no matter how many obstacles are thrown in our way. Because once America votes, America will be heard.”

Biden declared, “Together, as one nation, under God, indivisible, let us join forces to fight the common foes of injustice and inequality, of hate and fear…

“You and I are part of a great covenant, a common story of divisions overcome and of hope renewed.
 
“If we do our part. If we stand together. If we keep faith with the past and with each other, then the divisions of our time can give way to the dreams of a brighter, better, future.”

And Biden, acting and sounding like the president this country needs and deserves, pledged, “As president, I will embrace hope, not fear. Peace, not violence. Generosity, not greed. Light, not darkness.
 
“I will be a president who appeals to the best in us. Not the worst.
 
“I will be a president who pushes towards the future. Not one who clings to the past.
 
“I am ready to fight for you and for our nation. Every day. Without exception, without reservation. And with a full and devoted heart….

“Now we have our work to reunite America, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to move past shadow and suspicion.”

Here are Vice President Biden’s highlighted remarks, as prepared for delivery — Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com


On July 4, 1863, America woke to the remains of perhaps the most consequential battle ever fought on American soil. It took place here on this ground in Gettysburg.
 
Three days of violence, three days of carnage. 50,000 casualties wounded, captured, missing or dead. Over three days of fighting.
 
When the sun rose on that Independence Day, Lee would retreat.
 
The war would go on for nearly two more years, but the back of the Confederacy had been broken.
 
The Union would be saved, slavery would be abolished. Government of, by, and for the people would not perish from the earth, and freedom would be born anew in our land.
 
There is no more fitting place than here today in Gettysburg to talk about the cost of division — about how much it has cost America in the past, about how much it is costing us now, and about why I believe in this moment we must come together as a nation.
 
For President Lincoln, the Civil War was about the greatest of causes: the end of slavery, the widening of equality, the pursuit of justice, the creation of opportunity, and the sanctity of freedom.
 
His words here would live ever after.
 
We hear them in our heads, we know them in our hearts, we draw on them when we seek hope in the hours of darkness.
 
“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
 
Here, on this sacred ground Abraham Lincoln reimagined America itself. Here, a president of the United States spoke of the price of division and the meaning of sacrifice. 
He believed in the rescue, the redemption, and the rededication of the Union, all this in a time not just of ferocious division, but also widespread death, structural inequality, and fear of the future.
 
And he taught us this: A house divided could not stand. That is a great and timeless truth.
 
Today, once again, we are a house divided. But that, my friends, can no longer be.
 
We are facing too many crises. We have too much work to do. We have too bright a future to leave it shipwrecked on the shoals of anger and hate and division.
 
As we stand here today, a century and a half after Gettysburg, we should consider again what can happen when equal justice is denied and when anger and violence and division are left unchecked.
 
As I look across America today, I’m concerned. The country is in a dangerous place. Our trust in each other is ebbing. Hope is elusive.
 
Too many Americans see our public life not as an arena for the mediation of our differences. Rather, they see it as an occasion for total, unrelenting partisan warfare.
 
Instead of treating the other party as the opposition, we treat them as the enemy.
 
This must end.
 
We need to revive a spirit of bipartisanship in this country, a spirit of being able to work with one another.
 
When I say that, I’m accused of being naïve.
 
I’m told maybe that’s the way things used to work, but they can’t any more.
 
Well, I’m here to say they can. And they must if we’re going to get anything done.
 
I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president.
 
I will work with Democrats and Republicans and I will work as hard for those who don’t support me as for those who do.
 
That’s the job of a president.
 
It’s a duty of care for everyone.
 
The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control. It’s a decision. A choice we make.
 
And if we can decide not to cooperate, we can decide to cooperate as well.
 
That’s the choice I’ll make as president.
 
But there is something bigger going on in the nation than just our broken politics, something darker, something more dangerous.
 
I’m not talking about ordinary differences of opinion. Competing viewpoints give life and vibrancy to our democracy.
 
No, I’m talking about something different, something deeper.
 
Too many Americans seek not to overcome our divisions, but to deepen them.
 
We must seek not to build walls, but bridges. We must seek not to clench our fists, but to open our arms. We must seek not to tear each other apart, but to come together.
 
You don’t have to agree with me on everything — or even on most things — to see that what we’re experiencing today is neither good nor normal.
 
I made the decision to run for president after Charlottesville.
 
Close your eyes. Remember what you saw.
 
Neo-Nazis, white supremacists and the KKK coming out of the fields with torches lit. Veins bulging. Chanting the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the 1930s.
 
It was hate on the march, in the open. In America.
 
Hate never goes away. It only hides.
 
And when it is given oxygen, when it is given the opportunity to spread, when it is treated as normal and acceptable behavior we have opened a door in this country we must move quickly to close. 
 
As President, I will do that.
 
I will send a clear, unequivocal message to the nation. There is no place for hate in America.
 
It will be given no license. It will be given no oxygen. It will be given no safe harbor.
 
In recent weeks and months, the country has been roiled by instances of excessive police force, by heart wrenching cases of racial injustice and lives needlessly and senselessly lost, by peaceful protests giving voice to the calls for justice, and by examples of violence and looting and burning that cannot be tolerated.
 
I believe in law and order. I have never supported defunding the police.
 
But I also believe injustice is real.

 
It’s the product of a history that goes back 400 years, to the moment when black men, women, and children were first brought here in chains.
 
I do not believe we have to choose between law and order and racial justice in America.
 
We can have both.

 
This nation is strong enough to both honestly face systemic racism, and strong enough to provide safe streets for our families and small businesses that too often bear the brunt of this looting and burning.
 
We have no need for armed militias roaming America’s streets, and we should have no tolerance for extremist white supremacist groups menacing our communities.
 
If you say we should trust America’s law enforcement authorities to do their jobs as I do, then let them do their job without extremist groups acting as vigilantes.
 
And if you say we have no need to face racial injustice in this country, you haven’t opened your eyes to the truth in America.
 
There have been powerful voices for justice in recent weeks and months.
 
George Floyd’s 6-year old daughter Gianna, who I met with, was one such voice when she said, “Daddy changed the world.”
 
Also, Jacob Blake’s mother was another when she said violence didn’t reflect her son and that this nation needed healing.
 
And Doc Rivers, the basketball coach choking back tears when he said, “We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot … We’ve been hung. It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back.”
 
Think about that. Think about what it takes for a Black person to love America. That is a deep love for this country that for far too long we have never fully recognized.
 
What we need in America is leadership that seeks to deescalate tensions, to open lines of communication, and to bring us together.
 
To heal. And to hope.
 
As President, that is precisely what I will do.
 
We have paid a high price for allowing the deep divisions in this country to impact how we have dealt with the coronavirus. 210,000 Americans dead and the numbers climbing. It’s estimated that nearly another 210,000 Americans could lose their lives by the end of the year.
 
Enough. No more.
 
Let’s set the partisanship aside. Let’s end the politics. Let’s follow the science.
 
Wearing a mask isn’t a political statement. It’s a scientific recommendation.
 
Social distancing isn’t a political statement. It’s a scientific recommendation.
 
Testing. Tracing. The development, ultimately approval and distribution of a vaccine isn’t a political statement. These are scientific-based decisions.
 
We can’t undo what has been done. We can’t go back. But we can do better. We can do better starting today.
 
We can have a national strategy that puts the politics aside and saves lives.
 
We can have a national strategy that will make it possible for our schools and businesses to open safely.
 
We can have a national strategy that reflects the true values of this nation.
 
The pandemic is not a red state versus blue state issue. The virus doesn’t care where you live or what political party you belong to.
 
It infects us all. It will take anyone’s life. It is a virus — not a political weapon.
 
There’s another enduring division in America that we must end: The divisions in our economic life that give opportunity only to the privileged few.
 
America has to be about mobility. It has to be the kind of country where an Abraham Lincoln – a child of the distant frontier, can rise to our highest office.
 
America has to be about the possibilities. The possibilities of prosperity.
 
Not just for the privileged few. But for the many — for all of us.
 
Working people and their kids deserve an opportunity.
 
Lincoln knew this. He said that the country had to give people “an open field and a fair chance.”
 
And that’s what we’re going to do in the America we’re going to build — together.
 
We fought a Civil War that would secure a Union that would seek to fulfill the promise of equality for all.
 
And by fits and starts — our better angels have prevailed just enough against our worst impulses to make a new and better nation.
 
And those better angels can prevail again — now. They must prevail again — now. A hundred years after Lincoln spoke here at Gettysburg then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson also came here and said: “Our nation found its soul in honor on these fields of Gettysburg … We must not lose that soul in dishonor now on the fields of hate.”
 
Today we are engaged once again in a battle for the soul of the nation.
 
The forces of darkness, the forces of division, the forces of yesterday are pulling us apart, holding us down, and holding us back.
 
We must free ourselves of all of them.
 
As president, I will embrace hope, not fear. Peace, not violence. Generosity, not greed. Light, not darkness.
 
I will be a president who appeals to the best in us. Not the worst.
 
I will be a president who pushes towards the future. Not one who clings to the past.
 
I am ready to fight for you and for our nation. Every day. Without exception, without reservation. And with a full and devoted heart.
 
We cannot — and will not — allow extremists and white supremacists to overturn the America of Lincoln and Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass.
 
To overturn the America that has welcomed immigrants from distant shores.
 
To overturn the America that’s been a haven and a home for everyone no matter their background.
 
From Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall, we’re at our best when the promise of America is available to all.
 
We cannot and will not allow violence in the streets to threaten the people of this nation.
 
We cannot and will not walk away from our obligation to, at long last, face the reckoning on race and racial justice in the country.
 
We cannot and will not continue to be stuck in a partisan politics that lets this virus thrive while the public health of this nation suffers.
 
We cannot and will not accept an economic equation that only favors those who’ve already got it made.
 
Everybody deserves a shot at prosperity.
 
Duty and history call presidents to provide for the common good. And I will.
 
It won’t be easy. Our divisions today are of long standing. Economic and racial inequities have shaped us for generations.
 
But I give you my word: If I am elected President, I will marshal the ingenuity and good will of this nation to turn division into unity and bring us together.
 
We can disagree about how to move forward, but we must take the first step.
 
And it starts with how we treat one another, how we talk to one another, how we respect one another.
 
In his Second Inaugural, Lincoln said, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds.”
 
Now we have our work to reunite America, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to move past shadow and suspicion.
 
And so we — you and I, together — press on, even now.
 
After hearing the Second Inaugural Address, Frederick Douglass told the president:
 
“Mr. Lincoln, that was a sacred effort.”
 
We must be dedicated now to our own sacred effort.
 
The promise of Gettysburg, that a new birth of freedom was at hand, is at risk.
 
Every generation that has followed Gettysburg has been faced with a moment — when it must answer this question — whether it will allow the sacrifices made here to be in vain.
 
This is our moment to answer this essential American question for ourselves and for our time.
 
And my answer is this:
 
It cannot be that after all this country has been through. After all that America has accomplished, after all the years we have stood as a beacon of light to the world, it cannot be that here and now, in 2020, we will allow government of the people, by the people, and for the people to perish from this earth.
 
No. It cannot. It must not.
 
We have in our hands the ultimate power: the power of the vote. It is the noblest instrument ever devised to register our will in a peaceable and productive fashion.
 
And so we must.
 
We must vote.
 
And we will vote no matter how many obstacles are thrown in our way. Because once America votes, America will be heard.
 
Lincoln said: “The nation is worth fighting for.”
 
So it was. So it is.
 
Together, as one nation, under God, indivisible, let us join forces to fight the common foes of injustice and inequality, of hate and fear.
 
Let us conduct ourselves as Americans who love each other — who love our country and who will not destroy, but will build.
 
We owe that to the dead who are buried here at Gettysburg.
 
And we owe that to the living and to future generations yet to be born.
 
You and I are part of a great covenant, a common story of divisions overcome and of hope renewed.
 
If we do our part. If we stand together. If we keep faith with the past and with each other, then the divisions of our time can give way to the dreams of a brighter, better, future.
 
This is our work. This is our pledge. This is our mission.
 
We can end this era of division.
 
We can end the hate and the fear.
 
We can be what we are at our best:
 
The United States of America.
 
God bless you. And may God protect our troops.

NYS Gets $18 Million Federal Grant to Train Workers, Support Entrepreneurs During, After COVID-19 Pandemic

Announcing an $18 million federal grant for to train workers for in-demand jobs and support entrepreneurs during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “Our workforce is the bedrock of our economy, and I know that this funding will help bridge the gap between education and industry, allowing us to build back better by uplifting both individuals looking for jobs and small businesses across the state.”  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State has been awarded an $18 million federal grant to fund educational opportunities that train New Yorkers for in-demand jobs, support entrepreneurs, and help small businesses recover from the coronavirus pandemic. New York was one of just eight states to receive the funding – made available through the CARES Act – and received the most of any state that was awarded a grant. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo made the announcement during Workforce Development Awareness Week.

“The coronavirus pandemic is far from over, and as we continue to fight against this deadly virus, we must also respond to the economic devastation it has caused. With millions of Americans out of work, we must use every resource available to train New Yorkers to compete – and succeed – in this difficult economic situation,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our workforce is the bedrock of our economy, and I know that this funding will help bridge the gap between education and industry, allowing us to build back better by uplifting both individuals looking for jobs and small businesses across the state.”  

“We are making success accessible ensuring New Yorkers have the training and skills they need to seek new jobs and opportunities as we continue to battle this pandemic,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.”Our ongoing workforce development initiative is supporting efforts to improve the economic security of women, youth and other groups that face significant barriers by making job placement more inclusive and leaving no New Yorker behind. We are sending a clear message to New Yorkers that they will have the training and skills they need to succeed as we build back better, smarter and stronger for the future.”

The New York State Department of Labor will partner with the Office of Workforce Development, Empire State Development, New York’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils, the State University of New York, and the City University of New York to allocate the federal grant funding on programs that support New York’s continued economic recovery. 

Educational programs will focus on developing the skills needed to succeed in emerging growth industries like tech, logistics, and advanced manufacturing, and supporting entrepreneurs. New York’s multi-pronged approach will include four elements:

1) Education for Hard-Hit NYC: In New York City, which was among the worst-hit COVID-19 communities, the CUNY system will assist in training residents with the digital skills needed for in-demand sectors such as data analytics, cybersecurity, advanced logistics/supply chain, digital marketing and communications, and software development.  

2) “Stay Near, Go Far” at SUNY: At 30 community colleges across the State, SUNY will leverage its existing “Stay Near, Go Far” initiative to train New Yorkers in high growth industries, including technology, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing, and provide them with the entrepreneurial skills needed to open their own businesses. 

3) Entrepreneurship Boot Camps: Building on its existing resources, Empire State Development will host a series of intensive workshops and boot camps to train entrepreneurs and small business owners on how to run their own business during – and after – the pandemic.  

4) Industry Focus, Regional Results: The Department of Labor will issue a competitive Request for Proposals and work with New York State’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils to identify industry-driven programs that either train job seekers to meet current local employment needs or are designed to address future economic and workforce development needs. 

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said,”The COVID-19 public health emergency has changed nearly every facet of our lives – including our workplaces and workforce. We have a responsibility to prepare New Yorkers to succeed in, during, and after the pandemic, and these new training opportunities will give them the skills needed to get back to work and help small businesses thrive.”

“Workforce training has long been a fundamental part of ESD’s mission and will be a key towards helping our State’s businesses build back better,” Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said. “This funding allows us to develop, in partnership with and supported by the strength of New York’s top-tier public universities, workshops and boot camps that will connect entrepreneurs with the skilled talent needed to meet the challenges of this new economic environment.”

State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras said, “The Pandemic has challenged us to identify and pursue bold, creative, outside-the-box strategies for stimulating the economy and getting people back to work. Connecting people with the specific skills needed for in-demand jobs right in their own communities is crucial to rebuilding the economy and ensuring that New Yorkers who have fallen on hard times can find new, meaningful opportunities that support themselves and their families. The Reimagine Workforce Preparation Grant will provide a major boost to that important effort.”

“CUNY is committed to helping all New Yorkers navigate and access high quality upskilling opportunities that are connected to jobs that are growing, as our City and State continue to recover economically,” CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said. “This grant will enable CUNY to serve thousands of New Yorkers in important areas like digital marketing, data analytics, software and web app development.”

Congressman José Serrano said, “We have to make sure New York’s labor force has the skills necessary to access opportunities as we recover from COVID-19.  This initiative will expand access to free or low-cost support, education and training in the state of New York – one of only eight states selected for this investment. Made possible thanks to the CARES Act approved in Congress, this timely effort will ultimately help local workers, entrepreneurs and small businesses find opportunities, remain in business,  and emerge stronger during and after COVID-19.”

Congressman Joseph Morelle said, “COVID-19 has left more than a million New Yorkers out of work and businesses across every sector struggling, profoundly altering the future of our economy. We need bold investments in workforce development to rebuild and recover from this pandemic, and I’m proud to have helped secure critical funding through the CARES Act to make this initiative a reality and give workers and businesses the support they need. I’m grateful to Governor Cuomo for his steadfast leadership throughout this crisis and his commitment to ensuring New York emerges safe and stronger than ever.”

This federal grant comes as New York State recognizes its second-annual Workforce Development Awareness Week, which runs September 28 to October 4. During this week, New York State spotlights job training and higher education strategies that will help meet business and industry workforce needs, improve regional talent pipelines, enhance the flexibility and adaptability of local workforce entities, and expand workplace learning opportunities for the diverse cross-section of people who remain the bedrock of the state and nation’s workforce. These efforts take on even more importance as the state continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, continues the state’s economic reopening, and begins the process of building back better. 

Biden on Supreme Court Nomination: ‘The voters will not stand for this abuse of power. And if we are to call ourselves a democracy, their voices must be heard’

VP Joe Biden on Trump nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court: “Never before in our nation’s history has a Supreme Court Justice been nominated and installed while a presidential election is already underway. It defies every precedent and every expectation of a nation where the people are sovereign and the rule of law reigns.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vice President Joe Biden spoke out on Trump’s unprecedented nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to  the US Supreme Court in the middle of an election. Here is a highlighted transcript of his speech as prepared for delivery in Wilmington, Delaware:

On Friday, Jill and I had the honor of paying our respects to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first woman in the history of our nation to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol. 

Though it should not have taken nearly this long to bestow that honor on a woman, it nevertheless speaks to the unique and powerful impact Justice Ginsburg made on our society and to her enduring legacy of equal rights and equal justice under law.

Shortly before Justice Ginsburg passed, she told her granddaughter, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

It wasn’t a personal request. It wasn’t a favor being asked for. It was the last act in a long, unflinching career of standing up for American democracy.

Never before in our nation’s history has a Supreme Court Justice been nominated and installed while a presidential election is already underway. It defies every precedent and every expectation of a nation where the people are sovereign and the rule of law reigns.

But yesterday, before Justice Ginsburg could be laid to rest, and after hundreds of thousands of Americans have already cast their ballots, the President nominated a successor to her seat.

There is no mystery about what’s happening here.

President Trump has been trying to throw out the Affordable Care Act for four years. The Republican Party has been trying to eliminate it for a decade. Twice already the Supreme Court has upheld the law. And the Congress, expressing the popular will of the American people, has rejected President Trump’s efforts as well.

Now, all of a sudden this Administration believes they’ve found a loophole in the tragedy of Justice Ginsburg’s death.

It doesn’t matter to them that Republicans set the precedent just four years ago when they denied even the courtesy of a hearing to President Obama’s nominee after Justice Scalia passed away nine months prior to Election Day.

It doesn’t matter to them that millions of Americans are already voting on a new President and a new Congress. They see an opportunity to overturn the Affordable Care Act on their way out the door.

As we speak, we are still in the midst of the worst global health crisis in a century — a crisis that has already taken more than 200,000 American lives.

And yet, the Trump Administration is asking the Supreme Court right now to eliminate the entire Affordable Care Act. The Administration filed a brief with the Court that concludes: “The entire ACA thus must fall.”

President Trump can claim all he wants that he’s going to protect people with pre-existing conditions, but the fact is, he’s actively fighting to take those protections away as we speak.

If he has his way, more than 100 million people with pre-existing conditions like asthma, diabetes, and cancer could once again be denied coverage.
 
Complications from COVID-19, like lung scarring and heart damage, could become the next flood of pre-existing conditions used as an excuse to deny coverage to millions.
 
Women could once again be charged higher premiums just because they are women. 

And seniors would see their prescription drug prices go up and funding for Medicare go down.
 
It doesn’t matter what the American people want. President Trump sees a chance to fulfill his explicit mission to steal away the vital protections of the ACA from countless families who have come to rely on them for their health, their financial security, and the lives of those they love.
 
It should come as no surprise that President Trump would nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
 
She has a written track record, disagreeing adamantly with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ACA.
 
In fact, she publicly criticized Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion upholding the law eight years ago.
 
The American people understand the urgency of this moment.
 
They are already voting in droves because they know that their health care hangs in the balance. They understand that if Donald Trump gets his way, they could lose their right to vote, their right to clean air and clean water, their right to equal pay for equal work.
 
Workers could lose their collective bargaining rights.
 
DREAMers could be thrown out of the only country they’ve ever known.
 
Women could lose the bedrock rights enshrined by Roe v. Wade, which has safeguarded their autonomy for nearly half a century.
 
People are voting right now because they know that the very soul of our country is at stake and because they know that the decisions of the Supreme Court affect their everyday lives.
 
Their voices may not matter to Donald Trump.
 
They may not matter to Mitch McConnell.
 
But there are Senate Republicans out there who know in their hearts that if you shut out the voice of the people during an election, you are closing the door on American democracy thereafter.
 
That is where the power of this nation resides: in the people, and in the rule of law, and in the precedents we abide by.
 
To subvert both so openly, so needlessly, even as Americans cast their votes would be an irreversible step toward the brink.
 
And a betrayal of the singular quality that America was born and built on—that the people decide.
 
The Senate must stand strong for our democracy.
 
They should not act on this nomination until the American people finish the process they’ve already begun of selecting their President and their Congress.
 
As I’ve said before, if the people choose Donald Trump, then the Senate should give his nominee a hearing and a vote.
 
But if the people choose me, President Trump’s nomination should be withdrawn.
 
And my nominee, chosen by the President who was chosen by the people, should get a fair hearing and a vote on confirmation.
 
The U.S. Constitution provides one chance, one for Americans to have their voice heard on who serves on the Court, who makes those big decisions about their health care, their civil rights, and so much else.
 
That chance is now.

That moment is now.
 
The voters will not stand for this abuse of power. And if we are to call ourselves a democracy, their voices must be heard.
 
I urge the American people to keep voting and to let your current Senators know that you want to be heard before they vote to confirm a new Justice.
 
And I urge every Senator to take a step back from the brink — to take off the blinders of politics for just one critical moment — and stand up for the Constitution you swore to uphold.
 
This is the time to de-escalate, to put an end to the shattering of precedents that has thrown our nation into chaos.
 
Just because you have the power to do something doesn’t absolve you from your responsibility to do right by the American people.
 
Uphold your constitutional duty. Summon your conscience.  
 
Stand up for the people. Stand up for our cherished system of checks and balances.

Americans are watching. Americans are voting. We must listen to them now.
 
We must allow them to exercise their sacred power.
 
Thank you.
 
God bless the United States of America and may God protect our troops.

Nearly 500 Retired Top Military, National Security Officials Endorse Joe Biden

Memorial Day Commemoration, North Hempstead, Long Island, NY nearly 500 retired top military and national security officials endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States. The generals, admirals, ambassadors, and other former national security leaders pointed to Joe Biden’s empathy, honesty, experience and leadership as necessary traits required to navigate America through a painful time. The leaders, including Democrats, Republicans and Independents, also cited Donald Trump’s failure to address the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and other monumental crises facing the nation. (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Those who have served know empathy is a vital leadership quality – you cannot do what is best for those you lead if you do not know their challenges. Joe Biden has empathy born of his humble roots, family tragedies and personal loss. When Americans are struggling, Joe Biden understands their pain and takes it upon himself to help.”

Today, nearly 500 retired top military and national security officials endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States. In an open letter, the generals, admirals, ambassadors, and other former national security leaders pointed to Joe Biden’s empathy, honesty, experience and leadership as necessary traits required to navigate America through a painful time. The leaders, including Democrats, Republicans and Independents, also cited Donald Trump’s failure to address the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and other monumental crises facing the nation.
 
Read the full letter below and see the full list of signatures here:

National Security Leaders for Biden: An Open Letter To America

To Our Fellow Citizens:
 
We are former public servants who have devoted our careers, and in many cases risked our lives, for the United States. We are generals, admirals, senior noncommissioned officers, ambassadors, and senior civilian national security leaders. We are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. We love our country. Unfortunately, we also fear for it. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven America needs principled, wise, and responsible leadership. America needs a President who understands, as President Harry S. Truman said, that “the buck stops here.”
 
We the undersigned endorse Joe Biden to be the next President of the United States. He is the leader our nation needs.

We believe that Joe Biden is, above all, a good man with a strong sense of right and wrong. He is guided by the principles that have long made America great: democracy is a hard-won right we must defend and support at home and abroad; America’s power and influence stem as much from her moral authority as it does from her economic and military power; America’s free press is invaluable, not an enemy of the people; those who sacrifice or give their lives in service of our nation deserve our respect and eternal gratitude; and America’s citizens benefit most when the United States engages with the world. Joe Biden will always put the nation’s needs before his own.
 
Those who have served know empathy is a vital leadership quality – you cannot do what is best for those you lead if you do not know their challenges. Joe Biden has empathy born of his humble roots, family tragedies and personal loss. When Americans are struggling, Joe Biden understands their pain and takes it upon himself to help.
 
We believe America’s president must be honest, and we find Joe Biden’s honesty and integrity indisputable. He believes a nation’s word is her bond. He believes we must stand by the allies who have stood by us. He remembers how America’s NATO allies rushed to her side after 9/11; how the Kurds fought by our side to defeat ISIS; and how Japan and South Korea have been steadfast partners in countering North Korean and Chinese provocations. Joe Biden would never sell out our allies to placate despots or because he dislikes an allied leader.
 
While some of us may have different opinions on particular policy matters, we trust Joe Biden’s positions are rooted in sound judgment, thorough understanding, and fundamental values.
 
We know Joe Biden has the experience and wisdom necessary to navigate America through a painful time. He has grappled with America’s most difficult foreign policy challenges for decades, learning what works – and what does not – in a dangerous world. He is knowledgeable, but he also knows that listening to diverse and dissenting views is essential, particularly when making tough decisions concerning our national security. Many of us have briefed Joe Biden on matters of national security, and we know he demands a thorough understanding of any issue before making a decision – as any American president should.
 
Finally, Joe Biden believes in personal responsibility. Over his long career, he has learned hard lessons and grown as a leader who can take positive action to unite and heal our country. It is unthinkable that he would ever utter the phrase “I don’t take responsibility at all.”
 
The next president will inherit a nation – and a world – in turmoil. The current President has demonstrated he is not equal to the enormous responsibilities of his office; he cannot rise to meet challenges large or small. Thanks to his disdainful attitude and his failures, our allies no longer trust or respect us, and our enemies no longer fear us. Climate change continues unabated, as does North Korea’s nuclear program. The president has ceded influence to a Russian adversary who puts bounties on the heads of American military personnel, and his trade war against China has only harmed America’s farmers and manufacturers. The next president will have to address those challenges while struggling with an economy in a deep recession and a pandemic that has already claimed more than 200,000 of our fellow citizens. America, with 4% of the world’s population suffers with 25% of the world’s COVID-19 cases. Only FDR and Abraham Lincoln came into office facing more monumental crises than the next president.
 
Joe Biden has the character, principles, wisdom, and leadership necessary to address a world on fire. That is why Joe Biden must be the next President of the United States; why we vigorously support his election; and why we urge our fellow citizens to do the same.

Cuomo, Whitmer Call for Congressional Investigation into Trump Administration’s Politicization of Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer are calling for a Congressional oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s politicization of government functions that have impeded the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer are  calling for a Congressional oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s politicization of government functions that have impeded the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, releasing this joint statement:

“It is an inarguable fact that the United States has had the worst response to the COVID-19 virus of any nation in the world. Nearly 7 million Americans have tested positive for the virus, and more than 200,000 Americans have been killed by it — both more than any other country. The unprecedented and unacceptable scale of this tragedy is the direct result of President Trump and the federal government’s deceit, political self-dealing, and incompetence. 

“Rather than turning to the advice and direction of public health experts and career public servants, President Trump instead put the health and security of the American people in the hands of political appointees whose first priority was securing the reelection of their benefactor, with predictably tragic results. 

“Last week’s revelation that the White House blocked a Department of Health and Human Services plan to utilize the U.S. Postal Service to ship five life-saving masks to every household in the country, free of charge, in April was heartbreaking. Imagine the lives that could have been saved if every household were provided masks at such a crucial time. 

“Even more dangerous, the nation learned last week that political appointees at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — over the strong objection of CDC scientists — published the indefensible guidance that said people without symptoms did not need to get tested for COVID. Coupled with the agency’s abrupt reversal earlier this week on guidance related to the airborne transmission of the virus, it’s increasingly clear that the President and his advisers are trying to undermine the credibility of experts whose facts run counter to the administration’s political agenda.

“As a country, we cannot allow this type of politically-motivated decision making to take root. Logic dictates that COVID won’t be the last public health challenge we will face, and we can’t afford to again respond by playing politics, instead of listening to the science and facts. Congress must immediately conduct an oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s response to this pandemic, including the actions at HHS and the USPS the public learned about over the past week. Especially in light of Bob Woodward’s reporting, the question of, “What did they know and when did they know it?” cannot be left to the history books to answer. Our future health and economic security depends on holding the Trump administration accountable today.”

Cuomo commented, “Governor Whitmer and I today called on Congress to immediately conduct an oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s response on this pandemic. How can you not tell the American people what you knew and when you knew it? Just ask Peter Navarro. You had a memo that said millions of Americans would be infected. Did you tell anyone? Who did you send it to? Did anyone send you back the memo with a question mark? You met with the President 180 times since that memo – did you ever mention to the President, ‘By the way, I had a concern here that millions of Americans might be infected.’ It just doesn’t pass the smell test. It can’t be true.”

Sanders Calling for Largest Voter Turnout in History, Declares ‘Imperative to Counter Trump’s Unique Threats to Democracy’

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), at a rally in Queens during the 2020 campaign. In remarks at George Washington University regarding the “unprecedented and dangerous moment we are in because of Trump’s unique threats to our democracy” called for unprecedented voter turnout, warning that Trump may well declare victory in Election Night, before the millions of mail-in-ballots are counted, confiscate the ballots to prevent them from being counted, and even instruct Republican legislators to disregard the popular vote and select Trump electors to vote in the Electoral College. If all that, including impeding delivery of mail-in-ballots, calling out thugs to intimidate voters who come to the polls, Trump says he is counting on the Supreme Court, with his third pick already on the court, to hand him the election. Only then, he says, will there be a “peaceful transfer” because there won’t be a transfer at all, but a continuation of power. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), in remarks at George Washington University regarding the “unprecedented and dangerous moment we are in because of Trump’s unique threats to our democracy” called for unprecedented voter turnout, warning that Trump may well declare victory in Election Night, before the millions of mail-in-ballots are counted, confiscate the ballots to prevent them from being counted, and even instruct Republican legislators to disregard the popular vote and select Trump electors to vote in the Electoral College. If all that, including impeding delivery of mail-in-ballots, calling out thugs to intimidate voters who come to the polls, Trump says he is counting on the Supreme Court, with his third pick already on the court, to hand him the election. Only then, he says, will there be a “peaceful transfer” because there won’t be a transfer at all, but a continuation of power. – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here are Senator Sanders’ remarks, highlighted, as prepared for delivery:

Saving American Democracy 

This country faces an unprecedented set of crises. We are struggling with a pandemic that has already cost us over 200,000 lives. 

We have an economy in which we have a grotesque level of income and wealth inequality, where the middle class is being decimated, where millions of workers have lost their jobs and half of our people continue to work paycheck to paycheck — many for starvation wages.  

We are living in the moment when climate change is ravaging this planet, leading to massive fires on the West Coast, drought and unprecedented levels of extreme weather disturbances all across the globe. 

We are the only major country on earth not to guarantee healthcare to all people as a right, over 90 million Americans are uninsured or under-insured, and we pay by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.

All of these issues, and others, are enormously important and should be the issues that are being debated in this campaign. But, today, I’m not going to talk about any of them.

What I am going to talk about is something that, in my wildest dreams, I never thought I would be discussing.  And that is the need to make certain that the President of the United States, if he loses this election, will abide by the will of the voters and leave office peacefully.

What I will be discussing today is the danger that this country faces from a president who is a pathological liar, who has strong authoritarian tendencies, who neither understands nor respects our constitution and who is prepared to undermine American democracy in order to stay in power. 

With less than 6 weeks left to go in this campaign it is my fervent hope that all Americans — Democrats, Republicans, independents, progressives, moderates, conservatives — come together to defend American democracy, our constitution and the rule of law. We must ensure, in this unprecedented moment in American history that this is an election that is free and fair, an election in which voters are not intimidated, an election in which all votes are counted and an election in which the loser accepts the results.

This is not just an election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.  This is an election between Donald Trump and democracy – and democracy must win. 

The United States is the oldest continuous democracy in the modern world. We held elections in the middle of a Civil War in 1864. We held free and fair elections during World War I, during the Great Depression, and during World War II. After all of those elections, held in extremely difficult circumstances, the loser acknowledged defeat and the winner was inaugurated and took office.  That is what America is all about.  That’s what democracy is all about.

But today, under Donald Trump, we have a president who has little respect for our constitution or the rule of law. Today, that peaceful transition of power, the bedrock of American democracy, is being threatened like never before.

I am not in the habit of quoting former President Ronald Reagan, but I think something that he said in his first inaugural address makes the point about how important — how precious — is this part of our heritage. I quote: “The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place as it has for almost two centuries and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every 4-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.” Unquote. 

Protecting this “orderly transfer of authority” as President Reagan characterized it, this miracle, is absolutely essential if we together — all of us, Republicans, Democrats, Independents — want to keep faith with the American ideals we hold so dear and with the sacrifices that so many made in order to protect our democracy.

And in that regard I think it is terribly important that we actually listen to, and take seriously, what Donald Trump is saying.  

Several weeks ago, speaking at the Republican National Convention, Trump said, and I quote, “The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election.” What is remarkable about that statement is that he made it at a time when almost every national poll had him behind and when he was trailing in polls in most battleground states.

Think about what that statement means. What he is saying is that if he wins the election, that’s great. But if he loses, it’s rigged, because the only way, the only way, he can lose is if it’s rigged. And if it’s rigged, then he is not leaving office.  Heads I win. Tails you lose. In other words, in Trump’s mind, there is no conceivable way that he should leave office.

And just last night Donald Trump went even further down the path of authoritarianism by being the first president in the history of this country to refuse to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the election. 

When asked by a reporter in the White House briefing room: “Win, lose or draw in this election, will you commit here today for a peaceful transferal of power after the election?” Trump responded:

“We’re going to have to see what happens.  You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.  We want to get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.”

That’s not his choice.  That’s for the American people to determine.  Let us be very clear.  There is nothing in our constitution or in our laws that give Donald Trump the privilege of deciding whether or not he will step aside if he loses.  In the United States the president does not determine who can or cannot vote and what ballots will be counted.  That may be what his friend Putin does in Russia.  It may be what is done in other authoritarian countries.  But it is not and will not be done in America.  This is a democracy.

I do understand that Donald Trump is a billionaire, or so he says.  I do understand that he was born to a very wealthy family and, from his earliest days, was able to get anything he wanted because his family was rich and his family was powerful.  I do understand that when you’re rich and you’re powerful you don’t  have to pay taxes like ordinary people and that it’s easy for you to avoid the military draft.  I do understand that when you’re rich and you’re powerful you can buy politicians and get hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate welfare for your real estate empire.  

But this I also understand.  No matter how rich and powerful you may be, no matter how arrogant and narcissistic you may be, no matter how much you think you can get anything you want, let me make this clear to Donald Trump: Too many people have fought and died to defend American democracy.  You are not going to destroy it.  The American people will not allow that to happen.

Despite all of the evidence, Trump continues to be obsessed with the belief that there is massive voter fraud in this country. 

In 2017, after he won the presidency, Trump insisted that he would have won the popular vote, which he lost by 3 million votes, if, quote “millions of illegal votes had not been cast.” There is absolutely no evidence of that being true. In fact, it is totally preposterous to believe that millions of votes, or any significant number of votes at all, were cast illegally. This is an assertion supported by no one. Not Democratic officials.  Not Republican officials. No one.  And yet that is what Trump said after he won. 

There have been numerous studies done on the issue of voter fraud in our country. They have all concluded essentially the same thing.  Voter fraud in the United States of America is extremely rare. 

study by Dartmouth University found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election.  

An article in the New York Times from December 18, 2016 stated: “In an election in which more than 137.7 million Americans cast ballots, election and law enforcement officials in 26 states and the District of Columbia — Democratic-leaning, Republican-leaning and in-between — said that so far they knew of no credible allegations of fraudulent voting. Officials in another eight states said they knew of only one allegation … In Georgia, where more than 4.1 million ballots were cast, officials said they had opened 25 inquiries into “suspicious voting or election-related activity.”  But inquiries to all 50 states (every one but Kansas responded) found no states that reported indications of widespread fraud.”

A report by the Brennan Center for Justice reviewed elections that had been meticulously studied for voter fraud, and found incident rates between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent. The report concluded that it is more likely that an American, quote, “will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls,” unquote.

Even the conservative Heritage Foundation, which maintains a database on election fraud, could only find 143 criminal convictions of mail in voter fraud out of 250 million mail-in votes cast over the past 20 years, a rate of 0.00006%.

But you don’t have to trust me on this issue.  Benjamin Ginsburg, one of the leading Republican experts on elections, a man who served as national counsel to the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign, a man who played a major role for the Republican Party in the 2000 Florida recount, and who co-chaired the bipartisan 2013 Presidential Commission on Election Administration, recently wrote in the Washington Post, and I quote, “The truth is that after decades of looking for illegal voting, there’s no proof of widespread fraud. At most, there are isolated incidents — by both Democrats and Republicans. Elections are not rigged,” unquote. 

Let me repeat from one of the Republican Party’s leading experts on elections: “The truth is that after decades of looking for illegal voting, there’s no proof of widespread fraud. At most, there are isolated incidents — by both Democrats and Republicans. Elections are not rigged.”

And if even the statement of Mr. Ginsburg is not good enough for you, here is what the Trump administration’s own voting integrity commission reported.  According to an analysis of administration documents by the Associated Press, Trump’s commission uncovered, quote “no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud,” unquote, and disbanded in 2018. 

Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tamped down concerns about mail-in ballots last month, saying, and I quote, “Many parts of our country vote by mail. Oregon, Washington and Colorado have voted by mail for years.”

And yet we have a president who calls mail in ballots “a hoax” and “a scam.”

Trump’s strategy to delegitimize this election and to stay in office if he loses is not complicated. Finding himself behind in many polls, he is attempting massive voter suppression. He and his Republican colleagues are doing everything they can to make it harder and harder for people to vote. In addition, he is sowing the seeds of chaos, confusion and conspiracy theories by casting doubt on the integrity of this election and, if he loses, justifying why he should remain in office. 

In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News, Trump refused to say that he would leave office if he lost. Asked to give a direct answer on whether he would accept the election results, Trump refused. He said, quote, “I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.” Pretty much what he said yesterday.

In the middle of a pandemic Trump made clear that he wants to defund the Postal Service in order to limit the use of mail in ballots. In an interview on August 13, discussing a possible deal for a relief package that would have funded the post office, Trump let the cat out of the bag by admitting that, quote “If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting; they just can’t have it.”  

In other words, what Trump is saying to tens of millions of Americans is that at a time when over 200,000 people have already died from the coronavirus, you have a choice: You can either risk your health or even your life by walking into a voting booth or you can’t vote.  How disgusting is that?

Amazingly, at the very same time Trump is making completely baseless allegations about voter fraud, last month he urged his supporters in North Carolina to try voting twice, which is a felony. 

In order to advance his plan for mass voter suppression, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in Nevada, which fortunately was dismissed, challenging the state’s mail-in voting laws. 

In July, Trump used false claims of voter fraud to propose delaying this year’s election, which he does not have the power to do. This was so outrageous that Steven Calabresi, the co-founder of the conservative Federalist Society, wrote that it was, quote “grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate,” unquote.

Last week, Trump told his supporters at a rally in Nevada that he, quote, “was entitled” to serve a third term, which is obviously a violation of the Constitution’s 22nd Amendment. 

On Saturday, Trump suggested to his supporters in North Carolina that he might sign an executive order to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president. 

Trump has also urged his supporters to become, quote, “poll watchers,” but what he is really saying is he wants his supporters, some of whom are members of armed militias, to intimidate voters. We’re already seeing this in Virginia, where early voters were confronted by Trump supporters, and election officials in Fairfax County said that some voters and polling staff felt intimidated.

On and on it goes.  Every day, over and over again, Trump is making it harder for the American people to participate in the political process and is attempting to delegitimize the outcome of this election so that if he loses he can remain in office.

The concerns that I am raising today are not just mine alone, and are not just concerns shared by progressives and Democrats.

Miles Taylor, a lifelong Republican who previously served as chief of staff inside the Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security, warned that there is nothing that Trump will not do or say to defeat Biden. 

“Put nothing past Donald Trump,” Taylor told The Associated Press. “He will do anything to win. If that means climbing over other people, climbing over his own people, or climbing over U.S. law, he will do it. People are right to be concerned.” 

Well, I agree with Mr. Taylor. I am concerned. I am very concerned.

Last week, my former Senate colleague Dan Coats, Trump’s own former Director of National Intelligence, published a piece in the New York Times calling for a high-level bipartisan and nonpartisan commission to oversee the election to reassure all Americans that it has been carried out fairly. Coats wrote, quote, “The most urgent task American leaders face is to ensure that the election’s results are accepted as legitimate. Electoral legitimacy is the essential linchpin of our entire political culture. We should see the challenge clearly in advance and take immediate action to respond.”

I couldn’t agree more. I strongly second Director Coats’ call for this election commission.

Last week as well, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and I sent a letter to Senator McConnell urging him to hold hearings on the issue of election and post-election security. Senator Schumer and I stated, “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”

Majority Leader McConnell: Please respond to that letter.  Please establish that bi-partisan committee.  

And today I call on every elected official in America whether they be Republican, Democrat or Independent to vigorously oppose voter suppression and voter intimidation, to make sure that every vote is counted, and that no one is declared the winner until those votes are counted.  

And to my Republican colleagues in the Congress please do not continue to tell the American people how much you love America if, at this critical moment, you are not prepared to stand up to defend American democracy and our way of life.  Stop the hypocrisy.

With or without Donald Trump this election is unique in American history because it’s taking place during a pandemic and a public health crisis.   

As a result, states all over America are taking the appropriate steps to ensure more Americans can safely vote by mail in their own homes instead of risking their health or their lives to vote in person.  

The result is that this election will see, by far, the largest number of mail in ballots ever. 

And let’s be clear.  Despite what Donald Trump says, voting by mail is not a new or dangerous idea.  Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah conduct their elections almost entirely by mail.  California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia and my state of Vermont have pledged to mail ballots to all registered voters for the upcoming election.  And many other states are making it easier to vote by mail. Trump himself, as well as members of his administration, have repeatedly voted by mail.  Members of the U.S. military have regularly voted by mail since the 1800s.

Given the significant increase in mail in ballots why, you might ask, are Trump and his allies trying to attack the integrity of our vote by mail system? 

The answer is simple.  A number of studies have shown that for, whatever reasons, Republicans are more likely to vote in person while Democrats are more likely to use mail in ballots.  

In fact, one poll found that only about a quarter of Biden supporters would vote in person on Election Day while some two thirds of Trump voters planned to vote in person.

In other words, if Trump can undermine people’s confidence in the validity of votes cast by mail, he will be calling into question the validity of votes that may overwhelmingly support Joe Biden.  

Let us consider the following scenario:  

On election night, Trump is ahead in many battleground states based on the votes of those who voted in person on election day.  All across the television screens people see Trump ahead before they turn in for the night.  But as more and more mail in ballots are counted, Trump’s lead falls.  Trump then announces, with no proof, that there has been massive mail in ballot fraud and that these votes should not be counted – and that he has won the election.

In other words, Trump may well announce that he has won the election before all of the votes are counted and that large numbers of mail in ballots should be discarded.

Furthermore, in states where Republicans control the legislature, it is possible that the election results will be ignored because of false accusations of voter fraud and that the legislature itself will use its power to appoint electors pledged to vote for Trump, overriding the will of the people. 

And, in the midst of all of this, with the death of Justice Ginsburg, Trump is attempting to push through a Supreme Court Justice who may very well cast a vote in a case that will determine the outcome of this election.  He is doing that at a time when early voting has already begun and millions of ballots will have already been cast.

In this unprecedented moment what can we as a people do in the struggle to preserve American democracy?  

First, it is absolutely imperative that we have, by far, the largest voter turnout in American history and that people vote as early as possible

As someone who is strongly supporting Joe Biden, let’s be clear: A landslide victory for Biden will make it virtually impossible for Trump to deny the results and is our best means for defending democracy.  

Second, with the pandemic and a massive increase in mail in voting, state legislatures must take immediate action now to allow mail in votes to be counted before Election Day – as they come in.  

In fact, 32 states allow for the counting or processing of absentee ballots – verifying signatures for example – before Election Day.  All states should do the same.  The faster all ballots are counted, the less window there is for chaos and conspiracy theories.  

Third, the news media needs to prepare the American people to understand there is no longer a single election day and that it is very possible that we may not know the results on November 3rd.  

Fourth, social media companies must finally get their act together and stop people from using their tools to spread disinformation and to threaten and harass election officials.

Fifth, in the Congress and in state legislatures hearings must be held as soon as possible to explain to the public how the election day process and the days that follow will be handled.  As we count every vote, and prevent voter intimidation everything possible must be done to prevent chaos, disinformation, and even violence.

Lastly, and most importantly, the American people, no matter what their political persuasion, must make it clear that  American democracy will not be destroyed.  Our country from its inception and through the sacrifices of millions has been a model to the world with regard to representative government.  In 1863, in the midst of the terrible Civil War, Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg stated that this government “of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

That was true then. That is true today.  Regardless of what Donald Trump wants the American people will preserve democracy in our country.

Biden Pays Homage to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Warns Republicans of Lasting Damage to Ram SCOTUS Replacement Through

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the subject of the “Notorious RBG” exhibit at the Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. In a speech in Philadelphia, Vice President Joe Biden paid homage to Justice Ginsburg, “She was a trailblazer, a role model, a source of hope, and a powerful voice for justice. She was proof that courage and conviction and moral clarity can change not just the law, but also the world” and warned Republicans, ”This appointment isn’t about the past. It’s about the future. And the people of this nation are choosing the future right now. To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise in raw political power.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The hypocrisy and shamelessness of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans to now move forward to fill the seat vacated by Ruth Bader Ginsburg with someone who would completely undo all the progress she made toward equality and social justice in the midst of actual voting to replace the president and Congress is only matched by the hypocrisy and shamelessness of the self-professed conservative “originalist” Supreme Court justices who have the audacity to suggest they can fathom what the Founding Fathers meant and disregard all the changes since then, to actually make law. Five justices contradicting the 435 elected members of the House and 100 elected members of the Senate and the president, going further, reaching back into settled law and precedent to overturn women’s rights, civil rights, voting rights, workers rights, environmental protection, to re-form this nation as a Catholic theocracy, not much different than Islamic theocracy.

Just a reminder: McConnell invented this “rule” of not confirming – not even giving President Obama’s nominee a hearing – even though the election was 10 months away (and Scalia’s seat was vacant for 400 days) because it was an election year, and that Obama purposely looked for a moderate, not a progressive, and not someone who could conceivably serve for 50 years on the bench, in choosing Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia. It really was a further demonstration of the disrespect he had for Obama, America’s first Black president, and, when Obama took office in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression,  McConnell said his first priority was not to help Americans seeing their lives come apart but to make Obama a “one-term president.” He stalled hundreds of judicial appointments so that he could fill them all – and hand Trump his only  achievement Trump can crow about. B

McConnell’s does not necessarily see the swift filling of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat as energizing Republican turnout but because he expects to lose the White House and very possibly the Senate. Also, he wants a Supreme Court in Trump’s pocket to decide the dozens of outrageous court suits designed to suppress voting (the only way Trump can eke out a win in the Electoral College).

Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for president, spoke out in Philadelphia, paying homage to Justice Ginsburg’s life and legacy and outrage over yet another theft of a Supreme Court seat that, despite the conservative minority in the country and majority’s rejection of their positions, will control the lives of every American for generations. Presidents may come and go, but these justices serve for life.

”This appointment isn’t about the past. It’s about the future. And the people of this nation are choosing the future right now,” Biden declared. “To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise in raw political power.”

Here are Vice President’s remarks, highlighted, as prepared for delivery on September 20, 2020 in Philadelphia:

 –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Good afternoon.
 
I attended mass earlier today and prayed for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her family.
 
The nation lost an icon, but they lost a mother, a grandmother, and a matriarch.
 
We know how hard that is to watch a piece of your soul absorb the cruelty and pain of that dreadful disease of cancer.
 
But as I spoke with her daughter and granddaughter last night, they made clear that until the very end she displayed the character and courage we would expect of her. She held their hand and gave them strength and purpose to carry on.
 
It’s been noted that she passed away on Rosh Hashanah.
 
By tradition, a person who dies during the Jewish New Year is considered a soul of great righteousness.
 
That was Ruth Bader Ginsgburg. A righteous soul.
 
It was my honor to preside over her confirmation hearings
, and to strongly support her accession to the Supreme Court.
 
Justice Ginsburg achieved a standing few justices do. She became a presence in the lives of so many Americans, a part of the culture.
 
Yes there was humor in the mentions of the “Notorious RBG” and her impressive exercise routines. But it was so much more.
She was a trailblazer, a role model, a source of hope, and a powerful voice for justice.
 
She was proof that courage and conviction and moral clarity can change not just the law, but also the world.
 
And I believe in the days and months and years to follow, she will continue to inspire millions of Americans all across this country. And together, we can — and we will — continue to be voices for justice in her name.
 
Her granddaughter said her dying words were My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
 
As a nation, we should heed her final call to us — not as a personal service to her, but as a service to the country at a crossroads.
 
There is so much at stake — the right to health care, clean air and water, and equal pay for equal work. The rights of voters, immigrants, women, and workers.
 
And right now, our country faces a choice. A choice about whether we can come back from the brink.
 
That’s what I’d like to talk about today.
 
Within an hour of news of her passing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ginsburg will receive a vote in the Senate.
 
The exact opposite of what he said when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace Justice Scalia in 2016.
 
At that time, Majority Leader McConnell made up a rule based on the fiction that I somehow believed that there should be no nomination to the Court in an election year.
 
It’s ridiculous.
The only rule I ever followed related to Supreme Court nominations was the Constitution’s obligation for Senators to provide advice and consent to the president on judicial nominees.
 
But he created a new one — the McConnell Rule: absolutely no hearing and no vote for a nominee in an election year.
 
Period. No caveats.
 
And many Republican Senators agreed. Including then-Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Including the current Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina. Who at the time said, and I quote verbatim:
 
I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsay Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination. And you could use my words against me and you’d be absolutely right.”
 
That is what Republicans said when Justice Scalia passed away — about nine months before Election Day that year. Now, having lost Justice Ginsburg less than seven weeks before Election Day this year — after Americans have already begun to cast their votes — they cannot unring the bell.
 
Having made this their standard when it served their interest, they cannot, just four years later, change course when it doesn’t serve their ends. And I’m not being naive.
 
I’m not speaking to President Trump, who will do whatever he wants.
 
I’m not speaking to Mitch McConnell, who will do what he does.
 
I’m speaking to those Senate Republicans out there who know deep down what is right for the country — not just for their party.
 
I’m speaking for the millions of Americans out there, who are already voting in this election. Millions of Americans who are voting because they know their health care hangs in the balance.
 
In the middle of the worst global health crisis in living memory, Donald Trump is at the Supreme Court trying to strip health coverage away from tens of millions of families and to strip away the peace of mind from more than 100 million people with pre-existing conditions.
 
If he succeeds, insurers could once again discriminate or drop coverage completely for people
living with preexisting conditions like asthma, diabetes, and cancer.
 
And perhaps, most cruelly of all, if Donald Trump has his way, complications from COVID-19, like lung scarring and heart damage, could become the next deniable pre-existing condition.
 
Millions of Americans who are also voting because they don’t want nearly a half century of legal precedent to be overturned and lose their right to choose.
 
Millions of Americans who are at risk of losing their right to vote.
 
Millions of Dreamers who are at risk of being expelled from the only country they have ever known.
 
Millions of workers who are at risk of losing their collective bargaining rights.

Millions of Americans who are demanding that their voices be heard and that equal justice be guaranteed for all.
 
They know — we all know — what should happen now.
 
The voters of this country should be heard. Voting has already begun in some states.
 
And in just a few weeks, all the voters of this nation will be heard. They are the ones who should decide who has the power to make this appointment.
 
This appointment isn’t about the past. It’s about the future. And the people of this nation are choosing the future right now.
 
To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise in raw political power.
 
I don’t believe the people of this nation will stand for it.
 
President Trump has already made it clear this is about power. Pure and simple.
 
Well, the voters should make it clear on this issue and so many others: the power in this nation resides with them — the people.
 
And even if President Trump wants to put forward a name now, the Senate should not act on it until after the American people select their next president and the next Congress.
 
If Donald Trump wins the election — then the Senate should move on his selection — and weigh that nominee fairly.
 
But if I win the election, President Trump’s nomination should be withdrawn.
 
As the new President, I should be the one who nominates Justice Ginsburg’s successor, a nominee who should get a fair hearing in the Senate before a confirmation vote.
 
We’re in the middle of a pandemic. We’re passing 200,000 American deaths lost to this virus. Tens of millions of Americans are on unemployment.
 
Health care in this country hangs in the balance before the Court.
 
And now, in a raw political move – this president and the Republican leader have decided to jam a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court through the United States Senate.
 
It’s the last thing we need in this moment.
 
Voters have already begun casting ballots in this country.
 
In just a few weeks, we are going to know who the voters of this nation have chosen to be their next president.
 
The United States Constitution was designed to give the voters one chance – to have their voice heard on who serves on the Court.
 
That moment is now — and their voice should be heard. And I believe voters are going to make it clear – they will not stand for this abuse of power.
 
There’s also discussion about what happens if the Senate confirms — on election eve – or in a lame duck after Donald Trump loses — a successor to Justice Ginsburg.
 
But that discussion assumes that we lose this effort to prevent the grave wrong that Trump and McConnell are pursuing here.
 
And I’m not going to assume failure at this point. I believe the voices of the American people should be heard.
 
This fight won’t be over until the Senate votes, if it does vote.
 
Winning that vote — if it happens — is everything.
 
Action and reaction. Anger and more anger. Sorrow and frustration at the way things are.
 
That’s the cycle that Republican Senators will continue to perpetuate if they go down this dangerous path they have put us on.
 
We need to de-escalate — not escalate.
 
So I appeal to those few Senate Republicans — the handful who will really decide what happens.
 
Don’t vote to confirm anyone nominated under the circumstances President Trump and Senator McConnell have created.
 
Don’t go there.
 
Uphold your Constitutional duty — your conscience.
 
Cool the flames that have been engulfing our country.
 
We can’t keep rewriting history, scrambling norms, and ignoring our cherished system of checks and balances.
 
That includes this whole business of releasing a list of potential nominees that I would put forward.
 
It’s no wonder the Trump campaign asked that I release a list only hours after Justice Ginsburg passed away.
 
It’s a game to them, a play to gin up emotions and anger.
 
There’s a reason why no Presidential candidate other than Donald Trump has ever done such a thing.
 
First, putting a judge’s name on a list like that -could influence that person’s decision-making as a judge — and that’s wrong.
 
Second, anyone put on a list like that under these circumstances – will be the subject of unrelenting political attacks.
 
And because any nominee I would select would not get a hearing until 2021 at the earliest – she would endure those attacks for months on end without being able to defend herself.
 
Third, and finally, and perhaps most importantly, if I win, I will make my choice for the Supreme Court — not as part of a partisan election campaign — but as prior Presidents did.
 
Only after consulting Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate – and seeking their advice before I ask for their consent.
 
As everyone knows – I have made it clear that my first choice for the Supreme Court will make history as the first African American woman Justice.
 
I will consult with Senators in both parties about that pick, as well as with legal and civic leaders. In the end, the choice will be mine and mine alone.
 
But it will be the product of a process that restores our finest traditions – not the extension of one that has torn this country apart.
 
I’ll conclude with this.
 
As I’ve said in this campaign, we are in the battle for the soul of this country.
 
We face four historic crises. A once-in-a-generation pandemic. A devastating economic recession. The rise of white supremacy unseen since the 1960’s, and a reckoning on race long overdue. And a changing climate that is ravaging our nation as we speak.
 
Supreme Court decisions touch every part of these crises — every part of our lives and our future.
 
The last thing we need is to add a constitutional crisis that plunges us deeper into the abyss – deeper into the darkness.
 
If we go down this path, it would cause irreversible damage.
 
The infection this president has unleashed on our democracy can be fatal.
Enough.
 
We must come together as a nation. Democrat, Republican, Independent, liberal, conservative. Everybody.
 
I’m not saying that we have to agree on everything. But we have to reason our way through to what ails us – as citizens, voters, and public servants. We have to act in good faith and mutual good will. In a spirit of conciliation, not confrontation.
 
This nation will continue to be inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but we should be guided by her as well.
 
By her willingness to listen, to hear those she disagreed with, to respect other points of view.
 
Famously, Justice Ginsburg got along well with some of the most conservative justices on the Court.
 
And she did it without compromising her principles – or clouding her moral clarity – or losing her core principles.
 
If she could do this, so can we.
 
How we talk to one another matters. How we treat one another matters. Respecting others matters.
 
Justice Ginsburg proved it’s important to have a spine of steel, but it’s also important to offer an open hand — and not a closed fist — to those you disagree with.
 
This nation needs to come together.
 
I have said it many times in this election. We are the United States of America.
 
There’s nothing we cannot do if we do it together. Maybe Donald Trump wants to divide this nation between Red States and Blue States.
 
Between representing those states that vote for him and ignoring those that don’t.
 
I do not.
 
I cannot — and I will not — be that president.
 
I will be a president for the whole country.
 
For those who vote for me and those who don’t.
 
We need to rise to this moment, for the sake of our country we love.
 
Indeed, for its very soul.
 
May God bless the United States of America.
 
May God protect our troops.
 
May God bless Ruth Bader Ginsburg.