Brazil, Biden, & the Pandemic Politics

Announced that the epicenter of coronavirus is now South America. Interesting that they said South America, not Latin America. So, Mexico, where the cases are increasing and not close to peak yet, and also badly mishandling this, not a part of South America. I'm kind of wondering if there were some behind the scenes politics from the WHO.


When you look at the cases in Brazil right now, second highest number of cases in the world, a daily death toll that is now more than the United States. A horrible governance in their lack of effective response, very disunited. Lost two ministers of health in the middle of a pandemic. That's like leaving the World Health Organization in the middle of a pandemic. Who does stuff like this? Well, President Bolsonaro in Brazil does. They're the epicenter. Remember, it was China. Then it moved to Italy, then the United States. Now it's Brazil. Don't have anywhere near the economic capacity to effectively respond with relief. Brazil's fiscal response has been one of the strongest in any developing economy in the world. There has been coordination with Congress, despite the fact that the relations are deeply dysfunctional. Kind of like Pelosi-Mnuchin, working together on the fiscal response. Powell, fed chief, has been very effective in the United States, despite the fact that the red and blue divide in the US is worse than any time in our lifetimes, at a time of really horrible crisis, massive infighting, and also now a travel ban from the United States. Not on US citizens or permanent residents flying from Brazil, but everybody else. It's just one more thing to hit the Brazilian economy and currency. Not to mention all the corruption scandals that are now hitting, not just Bolsonaro and his family, but also governors. And Lavo Jato, it was all the former governors, the impeachment of the former president. They finally got past it. And now they're back in the midst of corruption scandals. Good news, strongly independent judiciary. Bad news, yet another massive political and economic distraction.

Here in the United States, the big flap was Biden finally made some news by saying that you weren't really black if you weren't voting for Biden. This interview with a well-known journalist, Charlamagne the K. It was a pretty friendly interview. Biden was obviously joking around. He's not all that funny. He's almost 80. No one was being charitable in their response that doesn't like Biden.

Biden's still not making anywhere close to the headlines that Trump is. This election is overwhelmingly about Trump. There's not a lot of enthusiasm about Biden. But after four years of Trump, there is a lot of enthusiasm against Trump. I think the turnout issue that's relevant for Biden is how many Dems are worried about social distancing and being able to vote compared to Republicans. So far, that is playing in favor of Trump.

It was obvious that Biden didn't really mean you're not a black person if you don't vote for Trump. I don't think there's a lot of concern that Biden is going to lose the black vote to Trump. 93%, 94%, 95%, it's going to be higher than what Hillary got. I remember when Trump was talking to blacks, and said, "what do you have to lose? Might as well vote for me." Four years later, I think a lot of black people have an answer to that. They're voting with their feet.

Biden within a few hours apologized. He was being glib. Trump never would have apologized. In the same way that Biden felt like he had to address Tara Reade, Trump never would have felt like he needed to address the women that accused him of sexual assault. The rules sit very differently because Trump is popular, he refuses to accept responsibility for anything and his support base loves that. The Democratic side got rid of Senator Al Franken, who was a comic, for an inappropriate joke, laying his hands on this woman's torso, upper body, when she had a metal vest on and sleeping. Can you imagine Trump or anyone in the White House resigning for something like that? Inconceivable. Biden is not going to stop trying to win being more empathetic and more human than Trump is. The media also plays by these rules to a significant degree. Things are changing in the way we address all of this and talk about it politically in the United States.

Howard University President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick joins That Made All the Difference podcast to discuss how his career as a surgeon influenced his work as an educator, administrator and champion of underserved communities, and why he believes we may be on the cusp of the next "golden generation."

Listen to the latest podcast now.

It's been a bad week at the office for President Trump. Not only have coronavirus cases in the US been soaring, but The New York Times' bombshell report alleging that Russia paid bounties to the Taliban to kill US troops in Afghanistan has continued to make headlines. While details about the extent of the Russian bounty program — and how long it's been going on for — remain murky, President Trump now finds himself in a massive bind on this issue.

Here are three key questions to consider.

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Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, discusses technology industry news today:

Do some of the Facebook's best features, like the newsfeed algorithm or groups, make removing hate speech from the platform impossible?

No, they do not. But what they do do is make it a lot easier for hate speech to spread. A fundamental problem with Facebook are the incentives in the newsfeed algorithm and the structure of groups make it harder for Facebook to remove hate speech.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Yes, still in the middle of coronavirus, but thought I'd give you a couple of my thoughts on Russia. Part of the world that I cut my teeth on as a political scientist, way back in the eighties and nineties. And now Putin is a president for life, or at least he gets to be president until 2036, gets another couple of terms. The constitutional amendments that he reluctantly allowed to be voted on across Russia, passed easily, some 76% approval. And so now both in China and in Russia, term limits get left behind all for the good of the people, of course. So that they can have the leaders that they truly deserve. Yes, I'm being a little sarcastic here. It's sad to see. It's sad to see that the Americans won the Cold War in part, not just because we had a stronger economy and a stronger military, but actually because our ideas were better.

Because when those living in the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Block looked at the West, and looked at the United States, they saw that our liberties, they saw that our economy, was something that they aspired to and was actually a much better way of giving opportunities to the average citizen, than their own system afforded. And that helped them to rise up against it.

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Jon Lieber, managing director for the United States at Eurasia Group, provides his perspective on US politics:

How likely is bipartisan action against Russia in light of Taliban bounty reports?

I think it's probably unlikely. One of the challenges here is that there's some conflict of the intelligence and anything that touches on the issue of President Trump and Russia is extremely toxic for him. Republicans have so far been tolerant of that and willing to stop any new sanctions coming. I think unless the political situation or the allegations get much worse or more obvious, that stalemate probably remains.

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