Background Briefing: August 5, 2020


An Update From Beirut on the Devastation Which Government Incompetence and Indifferent Politicians Are Responsible For

We begin and go to Beirut for an update on the devastation caused by the massive explosion yesterday and speak with Habib Battah, a Beirut-based investigative journalist, filmmaker and founder of who has covered Lebanon and the Middle East for over 15 years and teaches journalism and media studies at the American University of Beirut. He joins us to discuss what appears to be the result of the spectacular incompetence of a cynical political class in a country run by warlords whose people are fed up with constant electricity blackouts, the lack of government services or any kind of responsiveness amid rising poverty, food shortages, a refugee burden and an overstretched medical system now overwhelmed by casualties and a Covid infection. With 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in unsafe conditions since 2014, compared to the two tons of ammonium nitrate used in the Oklahoma City bombing, the explosion was so powerful it could be heard 150 miles away in Cyprus. With hundreds dead and thousands injured and 300,000 made homeless, the port area and the upscale waterfront neighborhood is completely destroyed along with the country’s grain storage silo which was obliterated, meaning that a food-insecure nation will now face even more hunger.


Trump’s Law and Order Campaign is Backfiring

Then we speak with Lincoln Mitchell, a Professor of Political Science at Columbia University and a Scholar in the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. He joins us to discuss his article at CNN “What Trump gets wrong about law and order.” With Reagan and Nixon having campaigned on law and order to get elected, it does not work when you are the incumbent president trying to blame Joe Biden for the alleged chaos in the streets that is happening on your watch.


Trump OK’s Mail-in Ballots in Florida Because the Democrats are Ahead With 600,000 More Requests

Then finally we look into Trump’s efforts to shut down mail-in voting by suing the State of Nevada and speak with Michael McDonald, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida who is the Director of the United States Election Project. He joins us to discuss how Trump’s efforts at undermining mail-in ballots is backfiring for down-ticket Republican candidates afraid that Trump is scaring off Republican voters who normally vote by mail. In Florida Trump had to reverse himself and OK mail-in balloting there because Democrats in the state have a 600,000 lead over Republicans in requests for mail-in ballots.