September 30, 2020

Trump’s Threat of Force

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ImageDemonstrators in Portland, Ore., on Monday night.
Credit…Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

President Trump has been preoccupied with big-city crime for more than 30 years.

In 1989, he took out ads in New York newspapers asking, “What has happened to our City over the past ten years?” (The ads implied he favored the death penalty for five Black and Latino teenagers who turned out to be wrongly accused of a rape.)

In his 2016 presidential campaign, he made false claims about how dangerous Oakland, Philadelphia and other cities were.

And now he seems to have decided that sending — or threatening to send — federal troops to Chicago and other cities is his best hope for turning around a struggling re-election campaign.

Meeting with reporters in the Oval Office yesterday, Trump said that he planned to deploy federal law enforcement agents to Chicago, after already having done so in Portland, Ore., last week. He suggested he might also do so in New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland. He was vague about the reasons, saying all of the cities were run by “radical left” Democrats.

But the politics of the move are fairly clear. Trump is trailing Joe Biden in the polls, and the move lets him try to shift the nation’s attention away from the coronavirus crisis. Instead, he can run against two of his favorite bogeymen: “the radical left” and big-city crime.

In recent weeks, he has frequently tried to portray Black Lives Matter protesters as out-of-control radicals, even though millions of Americans have participated and the protests have typically been peaceful. He has also made numerous racial appeals to white Americans, such as defending the Confederate battle flag.

Threatening to send troops into cities — most of which have large Black populations — unites the two themes and lets him cast himself as a defender of a fading America. “If Biden got in,” Trump said yesterday, “the whole country would go to hell. And we’re not going to let it go to hell.”

In response, Democrats vowed to pursue legislation or lawsuits to stop him. “We won’t let these authoritarian tactics stand,” Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon said. “It’s an American crisis.”

More from Portland: As military-clad federal agents swept through the streets this past weekend, they encountered a Navy veteran who had come out to ask whether the officers felt their actions violated the Constitution. They beat him with a baton and doused him with pepper spray.

Three competing laboratories released promising results yesterday from early human trials of a coronavirus vaccine. The labs said that the vaccines produced strong immune responses with only minor side effects.

There’s no clear timeline for when a vaccine will be available, and one researcher cautioned that, “There is still a long way to go.” But progress has been more rapid — so far — than many scientists expected.

In other virus developments:

Credit…Ryan Christopher Jones

Big polling leads in presidential campaigns disappear more often than not. Just ask Thomas Dewey, Michael Dukakis or Hillary Clinton. Even some winners — Jimmy Carter in 1976, and George W. Bush in 2000 — have watched huge summer leads shrivel.

All of which offers reason to assume that Biden’s current lead is vulnerable. But this year’s campaign does differ in a major way, as Nate Cohn explains in a new analysis. A single story — the coronavirus — has come to dominate daily life, he writes, “and voters have reached an overwhelmingly negative view of how the president has handled it.” Unless that changes, Trump may struggle to mount the comeback that underdogs often do.

From Opinion: Ross Douthat argues that the most likely scenarios for a Trump comeback involve a fading of the virus’s worst effects or a surge in crime and disorder.

In other politics news

  • A sign of political enthusiasm on the left: Total primary turnout among Democratic voters has surpassed 2016 levels, despite the pandemic.

  • John Kasich, the Republican former governor of Ohio, is expected to speak in support of Biden at the Democratic National Convention next month, The Associated Press reports.

  • Democratic Party leaders in Georgia nominated Nikema Williams, a state senator from Atlanta, to replace John Lewis — who spent nearly 34 years in Congress, until his death last week — on the ballot this year.


Credit…Nyimas Laula for The New York Times

More than half of Bali’s economy relies on tourism, and the coronavirus has hit it like no other disaster in recent memory. When hotels started laying off workers, many returned to their home villages and took up traditional ways of earning a living, including fishing and harvesting crops.

“I feel hollow,” said a former hotel steward who has been digging for clams. “There is no job. I can only survive by depending on the sea.”

It’s not just Bali: Other tourism-dependent locales are facing similar struggles. Reuters has reported on the struggle in Jamaica, and Politico has looked at Greece.


  • A self-described “anti-feminist” lawyer was identified as the suspect who fatally shot the 20-year-old son of a federal judge at the family’s home in New Jersey over the weekend. The lawyer later shot himself in an apparent suicide.

  • Russia has weaponized information as part of a long-running effort to interfere in the British political system, and successive British governments ignored the attacks, according to a report by the British Parliament.

  • Polar bears may become nearly extinct by the end of the century as a result of shrinking sea ice in the Arctic if global warming continues unabated, scientists said.

  • Lives Lived: For the enigmatic filmmaker Luther Price, celluloid was like putty in his hands. Art-house fans were spellbound, but who was he really? A son of a working-class town north of Boston, he never revealed his real name. He died at 58, the cause also not revealed.


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We live in a world that’s often designed for men. Consider:

  • For decades, car companies used crash dummies based on an average man’s body — and then designed cars to protect that body. Partly as a result, women have been more likely to suffer debilitating injuries or die in vehicle crashes.

  • Biomedical researchers often conduct studies on men, which means the science of male illness is more advanced than the science of female illness. One example: Doctors don’t know as much about women’s heart attack symptoms as men’s.

  • In thousands of public spaces — theaters, museums, sports arenas and more — women must wait in longer lines to use the bathroom than men. It’s an entirely solvable problem that society simply accepts, to women’s detriment.

“The inequities that women experience — so many of them invisible — are a stark reminder that we do not live in a country that treats women and men equally,” my colleague Francesca Donner writes. She’s part of a team that has published an innovative new series on hidden gender inequities, called “7 Issues, 7 Days.”

Sign up here, and you’ll get a new installment in your inbox every day for the next week. Among the topics: politics, economics, the dinner dishes and the dreaded “tampon tax.”

Credit…Romulo Yanes for The New York Times

This carrot tart with ricotta and feta will instantly brighten up any dining table. It uses frozen puff pastry, so it’s easy to make, and you can swap the carrots for onions, parsnips or zucchini, depending on your preference.


For more than a decade, Nikki and Brie Bella regularly traveled 300 days a year, wrestling five nights a week for live audiences. The twin sisters were among the first women to star on the main stage of the WWE program “SmackDown,” and helped introduce a more female-focused era of pro wrestling.

But the sisters haven’t exactly slowed down since retiring as champions last year: They’re both pregnant and busy shooting the sixth season of their reality show. (Conveniently, they are also neighbors.) Here’s what they had to say about filming a TV show — and going through a pregnancy — while socially isolating.


Credit…Carl T. Gossett Jr./The New York Times

The story of Jackie Robinson is legendary. “Robinson is a secular saint,” the author Jon Meacham writes, “revered for his skill and his bravery in making what was known as the noble experiment of desegregating baseball before Brown v. Board of Education, before the Montgomery bus boycott, before the March on Washington, before Selma.”

But the truth, as told in Robinson’s 1972 autobiography “I Never Had It Made,” is far less simple. Meacham calls the memoir “an illuminating meditation on racism not only in the national pastime but in the nation itself.” Read the rest of the essay here.



Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Any letter in “ROY G. BIV” (five letters).

You can find all of our puzzles here.


Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David

P.S. The Times’s deputy Politics editor, Rachel Dry, will speak with Jenniffer González-Colón, who represents Puerto Rico in Congress, and other political experts about the voting power of women a century after the suffrage movement, today at 4 p.m. Eastern.

You can see today’s print front page here.

Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about the rush to develop a coronavirus vaccine. “Popcast” remembers Ennio Morricone, the innovative and irreverent composer of film scores who died this month.

Ian Prasad Philbrick and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at [email protected].