Happy Tuesday. Three headlines from today’s Washington Post set the scene for us today:
As of today, nearly 195,000 Americans have died from the pandemic.
Welcome to the Daily Countdown. We have 48 days to go until Election Day; and then 78 days after that until Inauguration Day.
This isn’t perhaps the biggest story of the day, given the wildfires, pandemic, urban unrest, and multiple scandals that are breaking, but the story of Michael Caputo is worth pausing over for a bit.
Caputo is a Trumpian troll with no medical or scientific background, and a history of crackpottery and bigotry. But he was nevertheless named the assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, which makes him the top spokesman for the department at the center of fighting a pandemic that is killing a thousand Americans a day. The department’s credibility is quite literally a matter of life and death.
WASHINGTON — The top communications official at the powerful cabinet department in charge of combating the coronavirus made outlandish and false accusations on Sunday that career government scientists were engaging in “sedition” in their handling of the pandemic and that left-wing hit squads were preparing for armed insurrection after the election.
Michael R. Caputo, accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of harboring a “resistance unit” determined to undermine President Trump, even if that opposition bolsters the Covid-19 death toll….
Over all, his tone was deeply ominous: He warned, again without evidence, that “there are hit squads being trained all over this country” to mount armed opposition to a second term for Mr. Trump. “You understand that they’re going to have to kill me, and unfortunately, I think that’s where this is going,” Mr. Caputo added.
Another stable genius, you say? As of right now, he still has his job, which suggests that making bizarre allegations that government scientists were engaging in sedition is not really in conflict with the Trump Administration’s message. It also is a reminder that the crazy is coming from inside the room.
From our friend Andrew Egger:
Donald Trump retweeted this and at this point I think it's safe to sweep the last vestigial fragments of the "the seriousness of the pandemic has made Trump pay attention to the public health experts" narrative into the trash. https://t.co/QZj2Ds3g3u
— Andrew Egger (@EggerDC) September 14, 2020
A victory for common sense in Wisconsin.
I once argued that Wisconsin was a bulwark of common sense, but that now seems like a very long time ago. Except for this:
The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday lifted its stay on sending out millions of absentee ballots. The ballots had been held up pending a decision on whether to allow the Green Party to get on the ballot, but a 4-3 majority (which included one of the court’s conservatives), ruled that it was simply too late to mess with the election.
“Even if we would ultimately determine that the petitioners’ claims are meritorious,” the court ruled, “given their delay in asserting their rights, we would be unable to provide meaningful relief without completely upsetting the election.”
We don’t need no stinking science.
Trump went to California and it didn’t go well. The president, who famously predicted that the coronavirus would disappear like magic, is now also predicting that global warming with also disappear. And what do the scientists know anyway?
President Trump, at today's wildfires briefing: "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch."
Wade Crowfoot, California Secretary for Natural Resources: "I wish science agreed with you."
President Trump: "Well, I don't think science knows actually." pic.twitter.com/EEbhUvdPVT
— The Recount (@therecount) September 14, 2020
In a later interview with NBC Nightly News that will fully air Monday night, [Alexander] Vindman says he “was not a never-Trumper before, I was nonpartisan,” reflecting the neutral tone he used during his testimony to Congress.However, Vindman said that his views changed “as the president ‘attacked and politicized me directly,’ and he now “absolutely” considers himself to be a “never-Trumper.”
The woke are coming for the blondes.
Americans are ready to have a candid discussion about race. But I’m not sure that this is what they have in mind. This week’s Time magazine features a lengthy interview with poet Claudine Rankin.
Writer Andrew R. Chow expresses particular fascination with Rankin’s essay on “blondness,” and its role in perpetuating white supremacy and oppression.
“In [the essay], she traces the preference for blondness, from Italian Renaissance writers through Nazi Germany through to the Trump family,” he writes. “She points out that many of the most famous blondes, from Marilyn Monroe to Princess Diana, weren’t actually natural blondes but were just following beauty standards.”
“If white supremacy and anti-Black racism remain fundamental structural modes of violence by which countries continue to govern,” Rankine writes, “blondness might be one of our most passive and fluid modes of complicity. It points to white power and its values as desirable, whether the thought enters one’s head or not.”
Time takes all of this quite seriously. But it raises a nagging question: a woman I know has blonde hair that will turn white if she doesn’t color it. What should I tell her?
Strange times for anti-anti-Trump.
If only as an artifact of our convoluted politics, you might find this tortured bit of rationalization interesting if not edifying. AEI’s Danielle Pletka writes that though she detests and abhors Donald Trump, she just might have to vote for him anyway.
I fear Trump’s erratic, personality-driven decision-making. His contempt for NATO is alarming, as is his delusion that he can manage rogue leaders. I don’t doubt that his eagerness to withdraw U.S. troops from their stability missions in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq will encourage conflict and terrorism. And I fret that his bizarrely isolationist attitude toward international trade will hurt the U.S. economy and splinter the global trading juggernaut that over the past half-century has brought the world amazing prosperity, lifting hundreds of millions of people out of extreme poverty.
But I fear the leftward lurch of the Democratic Party even more.
You can read the rest, if you like. But this sums it up pretty well.
There are 48 days to go.