Friday Reads: Neither Snow nor Rain … But can a Greedy Pair of Sociopaths stop the Mail?

Good Day Sky Dancers!

The sabotage of the US Postal Service by the Trumpist Regime is just another one of those things that’s beyond the pale! The Republicans have always wanted to privatize the constitutionally mandated service which always confused me because their rural constituents would likely be without delivery. I mean, that’s why it was mandated in the constitution to begin with so all citizens everywhere get their mail. Any poor rural citizen wouldn’t get service or would pay a tremendous amount of money for it.

No one could possibly make a profit out of a delivery service without completely cherrypicking who gets routes and who doesn’t and that’s basically what we economists call a market friction that implies a public service if it’s a necessity. You provide it or heavily subsidize some other entity to do it because a huge portion of the business is not ever going to turn a profit without getting rid of the unprofitable parts. I have no idea how this simple Economics 101 explanation never seems to get through to them. Trying to force a market model onto a situation like that basically means depriving people of the service. But, this attack is not the usual Republican trype. It’s another example of Donald Trump’s favorite past time; election interference.

Why Susan Collins was so riled about this eventually (cough, cough) she sent a letter!

The worst instances of the mess up is the amount of necessary prescriptions that are not getting to people but especially to veterans and active service members who use the VA system for health care. Of course, this is just to mess up any voting by mail. Trump just announced his evil intent directly yesterday in a presser. But, hell what’s bad for the rest of us is just fine for Donald Trump who has invented the bugbear “universal voting by mail” to describe a bunch of different ways of getting your ballot to the election counting offices. But, per the NYT: 2020 Election Live Updates: Trump Requests Mail-In Ballot Even as He Assails Voting by Mail.” Fortunately we also have Judges getting orders out trying to stops this while the senate just took it’s labor day holiday for an entire month which also has horrible ramifications for any relief from the Trumpist Pandemic and Economic recession..

With President Trump and congressional Democrats fighting over funding the Postal Service, many states — and politicians up for re-election this fall — are grappling with the uncertainty around the expansion of mail-in balloting prompted by the pandemic.

Some key developments in the last 24 hours:

A federal judge in Pittsburgh ordered the Trump campaign to produce proof of voter fraud claims. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan on Thursday ordered Republicans who have challenged Pennsylvania’s expansion of mail-in voting to turn over evidence by the end of today that the system has led to ballot irregularities or face the possible dismissal of their suit.

The state Democratic Party and the Sierra Club, which intervened in the case, requested that the plaintiffs — the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and Pennsylvania’s Republican Party — turn over specific evidence of fraud, after the Republicans claimed the changes provided “fraudsters an easy opportunity to engage in ballot harvesting” and other manipulations.

“Plaintiffs shall produce such evidence in their possession, and if they have none, state as much,” wrote Mr. Ranjan, a Trump appointee.

Postal Service warns Pennsylvania on deadlines. In a separate Pennsylvania lawsuit, the general counsel of the Postal Service sent a stark warning to state officials late last month over their last-minute attempt expand voting by mail, according to documents released on Thursday.

Thomas J. Marshall, the counsel, wrote in a letter to Pennsylvania’s secretary of state, Kathy Boockvar, whose department oversees elections, that some mail ballots might not be delivered on time because the state’s pre-existing deadlines for sending out ballots were too tight for its “delivery standards,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

In response, Pennsylvania officials petitioned the State Supreme Court to extend the deadlines.

You may also read about brave and bold Susan Collins there. (Do you see my tongue in my check?}

A USA Today Op Ed puts it bluntly: “Trump is determined to rig this election, defraud voters and thwart the will of the people. We need bipartisan election observers to ensure fairness and transparency, and all of us must report abuses in real time if we see them at the polls.” This was written by David Rothkopf and Bernard L. Schwartz.

We can no longer trust that our federal government will oversee fair elections this November. The repeated statements and actions of the president, his attorney general and leaders in the Republican Party have demonstrated that not only will they seek to cheat to ensure their “victory,” they will do so in multiple ways as part of a massive, systematic effort to defraud the American people and undermine our democracy.

The time has come for those of us who seek to protect and preserve democracy in America to step up. We must commit ourselves to ensuring the results of these elections represent the will of the people. And since we can’t trust the government to protect our elections, that means we must organize independent efforts to do so now.

Our efforts should begin with a statement from our four living past presidents identifying the threat, underscoring that it is real, condemning it and announcing their support for an extraordinary national effort to ensure we have the fair elections our people deserve. The threat we face is so great, it requires this kind of show of resolve and unity from past national leaders to protect what is at risk and to commit themselves to putting their considerable political weight behind identifying, opposing and undoing efforts by the president and his allies to rig the elections or muddle the results.

There are some excellent suggestions beyond this and it’s a short read.

And a Trumpist regime attack on the government would not be complete without a side deal. This is from CNBC: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren demands ‘corruption’ probe after report of Amazon options purchase by Postal Service chief Louis DeJoy” as reported by Dan Mangan. The Post Master General just put a side bet via Options on Amazon–one of Trump’s other Bugbears– and used to be a large holder of UPS stock.

A USPS spokesman, when asked for comment about Warren’s tweet, in an email reply pointed to a statement issued by DeJoy last week.

“I take my ethical obligations seriously, and I have done what is necessary to ensure that I am and will remain in compliance with those obligations,” DeJoy said in that statement.”

Warren’s tweet linked to a CNN report on Wednesday, which said that DeJoy continues to hold at least at least $30 million in holdings in his former company XPO Logistics, which is a United States Postal Service contractor.

CNN reported that those holdings likely created “a major conflict of interest, according to newly obtained financial disclosures and ethics experts,” who the news site said “were shocked that ethics officials at the postal service approved this arrangement.”

CNN, citing government financial disclosures, also reported that on the same day in June that “DeJoy divested large amounts of Amazon shares, he purchased stock options giving him the right to buy new shares of Amazon at a price much lower than their current market price.”

“This could lead to a separate conflict, given President Donald Trump’s disdain for Amazon, and his reported effort in 2018 to pressure DeJoy’s predecessor to raise prices on Amazon and other firms, while complaining about its founder Jeff Bezos,” CNN noted.

DeJoy, who previously worked as chairman and CEO of New Breed Logistics, a company that had contracted with the U.S. Postal Service, was selected as Postmaster General in May by the USPS’s board of governors. DeJoy before his selection also had been a major Republican Party fundraiser.

In June, The Washington Post had reported that “DeJoy and his wife, Aldona Wos, the ambassador-nominee to Canada, have between $30.1 million and $75.3 million in assets in USPS competitors or contractors, according to Wos’s financial disclosure paperwork filed with the Office of Government Ethics.”

The Post noted that the “vast majority” of those holdings were in XPO Logistics, which acquired New Breed Logistics in 2014.

But the couple’s “combined stake in competitors UPS and trucking company J.B. Hunt is roughly $265,000.”

CNN’s article on Wednesday said that records show that “DeJoy owned between $265,000 and $550,000 in UPS stock, but divested them after becoming postmaster general.”

This is a complete lie or a sign of just one more individual unsuited for his job in the Trumpist Regime. Who couldn’t have seen some of this happen if you actually asked a few people that do this job for a living and not a political payback? Unintended Consequences my fat old lady ass!

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy acknowledged to United States Postal Service employees this week that recent procedural changes have had “unintended consequences,” but described them as necessary.

“Unfortunately, this transformative initiative has had unintended consequences that impacted our overall service levels,” DeJoy wrote in a memo sent this week and obtained by CNN.

However, recent changes are not the only contributing factors. Over the years we have grown undisciplined in our mail and package processing schedules, causing an increase in delayed mail between processing facilities and delivery units.”

As he faces mounting criticism for changes that have slowed delivery and capacity ahead of the November election, DeJoy also claimed in the letter the policy moves would increase “performance for the election and upcoming peak season and maintain the high level of public trust we have earned for dedication and commitment to our customers throughout our history.”

See the source image

He even has the audacity to use the royal “we” here. Well, “we” know he’s never walked a route or sorted mail.

Vice has this Internal USPS Documents Outline Plans to Hobble Mail Sorting. ‘This will slow mail processing,’ a union official wrote on one of the documents announcing the machine removals.”

The United States Postal Service proposed removing 20 percent of letter sorting machines it uses around the country before revising the plan weeks later to closer to 15 percent of all machines, meaning 502 will be taken out of service, according to documents obtained by Motherboard outlining the agency’s plans. USPS workers told Motherboard this will slow their ability to sort mail.

One of the documents also suggests these changes were in the works before Louis DeJoy, a top Trump donor and Republican fundraiser, became postmaster general, because it is dated May 15, a month before DeJoy assumed office and only nine days after the Board of Governors announced his selection.

The title of the presentation, as well as language used in the notice to union officials, undermines the Postal Service’s narrative that the organization is simply “mov[ing] equipment around its network” to optimize processing, as spokesperson Dave Partenheimer told Motherboard on Thursday. The May document clearly calls the initiative an “equipment reduction.” It makes no mention of the machines being moved to other facilities. And the notice to union officials repeatedly uses the same phrase. Multiple sources within the postal service told Motherboard they have personally witnessed the machines, which cost millions of dollars, being destroyed or thrown in the dumpster. USPS did not respond to a request for comment.

In May, the USPS planned to remove a total of 969 sorting machines out of the 4,926 it had in operation as of February for all types of letters and flat mail. The vast majority of them—746 out of 3,765 in use—were delivery bar code sorters (DBCS), the type that sort letters, postcards, ballots, marketing mail and other similarly sized pieces. But a subsequent document distributed to union officials in mid-June said 502 of those machines would be removed from facilities.

The May document, titled “Equipment Reduction,” breaks down the exact number of machines the USPS slated to remove by region and facility. Although the document uses terms like “proposed reduction” and “reduction plan” and does not reflect the USPS’s final plan, it provides a general picture of the sweeping changes previously reported by Motherboard about mail sorting machines being removed around the country. It also shows that USPS management is undertaking a broad reduction of the agency’s ability to sort and process all types of mail, except for packages which have been steadily increasing in recent years before booming during the pandemic.

Thankfully, an Inspector General is looking in to this and hopefully, won’t be thwarted by the Trumpists.

Anyway, we need stay on top of this as well as the other election shenanigans.

What’s on your reading and blogging list?