As the countdown to 03 November moves forward, the more inflammatory the rhetoric from the White House and Trump surrogates. Although big picture “politics” include jobs (“the economy”) and the environment (regulatory rollback), COVID-19 is a constant refrain in the daily deluge.
Might the deluge be the result of an anticipated unraveling, in other words, desperation?
In the continuing saga of how COVID-19 has disrupted a mainstay of civic life, voting, 14 states have won a preliminary injunction against Postmaster General DeJoy.
On Thursday, a federal judge in Washington state directed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to roll back service changes he implemented in July. The judge described those actions as “voter disenfranchisement.”
Judge Bastian, Yakima, WA, directed USPS to treat all election mail as first class mail without requiring additional postage, per historical practice; to abandon its controversial “leave mail behind” policy; and to “replace, reassemble or reconnect any removed mail-sorting machines that are needed to ensure timely processing and delivery of election mail.”
Voter disenfranchisement, he wrote:
…is evident in President Trump’s highly partisan words and tweets, the actual impact of the changes on primary elections that resulted in uncounted ballots, and recent attempts and lawsuits by the Republican National Committee and President Trump’s campaign to stop the States’ efforts to bypass the Postal Service by utilizing ballot drop boxes, as well as the timing of the changes…
Aside, my state attorney general, Bob Ferguson, is leading the coalition of 14 states that sued President Trump et al.
✅ Also on Thursday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court extended the deadline for accepting mailed absentee ballots, allowing those that are postmarked by 03 November to be counted if they are received by 5 pm on Friday. The court will allow voters to return their ballots via county drop boxes.
While [the timeline] may be feasible under normal conditions, it will unquestionably fail under the strain of COVID-19 and the 2020 presidential election, resulting in the disenfranchisement of voters,” Justice Max Baer, a Democrat, wrote for the majority.
❌ Health and Human Services continues to be in the spotlight. Two (related) tales ahead:
HHS spokesperson Michael Caputo is taking that leave of absence, 60 days. On Sunday, I told you that he had been accused of interfering with CDC reports. On Tuesday, I reported that STAT News had implicated his podcasts as promoting partisan talking points. Today we learned that Caputo’s aide Paul Alexander, “who was at the center of efforts to muzzle the department’s career scientists,” is leaving the agency.
In August, the CDC made a controversial public statement on its website that said it was unnecessary to test asymptomatic people even if they had been exposed. Now we know its source: HHS.
“That was a doc that came from the top down, from the H.H.S. and the [Pence] task force,” said a federal official with knowledge of the matter… “That policy does not reflect what many people at the C.D.C. feel should be the policy.”
The document contains “elementary errors” — such as referring to “testing for Covid-19,” as opposed to testing for the virus that causes it — and recommendations inconsistent with the C.D.C.’s stance that mark it to anyone in the know as not having been written by agency scientists, according to a senior C.D.C. scientist who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of a fear of repercussions…
Similarly, a document, arguing for “the importance of reopening schools,” was also dropped into the C.D.C. website by the Department of Health and Human Services in July and is sharply out of step with the C.D.C.’s usual neutral and scientific tone, the officials said.
The president pins PR as the only problem with his administration's COVID-19 response
“I think we did a great job with coronavirus, except at public relations"https://t.co/uInlst7V87
— Kathryn Watson (@kathrynw5) September 17, 2020
❌ In the most bizarre and fatally flawed analogy to see the light of day this year, Attorney General William Barr compared the country’s irregular, no-where-near-national-shutdown, COVID-19 public health response to slavery.
📣 Joining a long list Trump administration staff who leave-and-tell: Olivia Troye worked as homeland security, counterterrorism and coronavirus adviser to Vice President Pence for two years. She “is the first Trump administration official who worked extensively on the coronavirus response to forcefully speak out against Trump and his handling of the pandemic.”